Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Shadows of Totalization, Part XXIII

We have not defined Totalization, but have thought of Totalization in a variety of ways:

1) As myth: “Myth is totality: the total and complete picture of the real. The temptation to totality. ("From Ionia to Jena," as Franz Rosenszweig puts it in his The Star of Redemption -- that is, from Parmenides to Hegel.)” – Carl Sachs, February 18, 2006

2) As reification: “Honneth argues that, properly reconceived, reification continues to be a significant phenomenon in the contemporary world and, so, a worthy object of philosophical study. In doing so he distinguishes three broad types of reification -- in a subject's relations to the objective world, to other subjects, and to himself -- and argues that all can be understood as manifestations of a single, underlying deficiency.” – Carl Sachs, March 16, 2006

3) As exclusion;

4) As death;

5) As dogmatism;

6) As metaphysics;

7) As incapacitation;

8) Unwillingness to explore, question, or experiment;

9) As reaction;

10) As neutrality;

11) As homogenization;

12) As static;

13) As a gridlock of for-against-neutral;

14) As fixedness, frozenness: “The metaphors of “curves” or “waves” are probably too trite, but they are meant to convey an attempt at liberation from “fixed images of thought” as traditionally used. When describing these escapes it’s difficult not to bathe in “new age” concepts like “flows”, “affirmation”, “process”, “creation”, etc. But trying to thaw up frozen ways of thinking demands enormous discipline and continuous struggle. Often I fail miserably. And yet the joyful striving beckons, intellectually and aesthetically.”—Orla Shantz, March 1, 2009

15) As closure, enclosure, square box: “What are the square boxes? They are isolated, frozen, and stopped enclosures, procrustean beds, the location of stable entities, the places where the “squares” reside, what the “squares” have made of life and the world, and of themselves. The square boxes are the lives of the living dead, of the undead, who have “fixed” the world so very, very well that they have murdered it. The square boxes are the life world of the squares,which isn't a very nice world at all. The square boxes ARE squares,who aren’t very nice people at all. They may not even be people if by people we mean living, loving, warm, curious, and thinking. Squares are people who exist by isolating, freezing, and stopping. They are bureaucrats and faceless masses, those who consume without producing, those who are incapable of creativity, insectoidal hordes munching along and impinging upon freedom and beauty, almost through malice, but mainly through blunt nothingoidal stupidity.” –Yusef Asabiyah, June 10, 2008.

16)As convention;

17) Totality as the struggle to escape Totality: “When Yusef is battling the concepts of totality and rationality he is trying to stop, isolate, and freeze the flow of emerging streams of creativity. This is understandable and true of all of us in our attempts to create patterns and stable entities. We also know that this desire is rarely qualitative, multidimensional, and inclusive. It is not “a draft, a wind, a day, an hour, a stream, a place, a battle, an illness” (Deleuze: Negotiations, 1995). But it should be.” –Orla Shantz, June 7, 2008


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you, Yusef, for providing this summary. This is very helpful.

The whole concept of Totalization is troublesome, and defining it even more so, since this invariably creates dualisms.

Totalization is what it is not. Or in normative terms: what should be avoided. The 17 attempts at definitions attest to the struggle to bury it.

In essence, Totalization is Modernity and embodies the Enlightenment. And “THE SHADOWS” of Totalization are the “underground” movement that needs to be recognized and cultivated.

The question becomes, how we are still thinking in the shadows. And shadows are precisely this grey area, given life by the EnLIGHTenment, but also reaching blindly into its darkness and eventual re-emergence as new glimmers of illumination. The AND between the dying of the light and the birth of new forms, yet to cast colorless shadows.

Shadows are not only effects of a static or moving object, they are also affects of a subject sensing their presence.

Definitions are themselves totalizing: locking down movement. Ice in water.

Definitions are at best rules for language games. At worst they stop play.

Since philosophy fathered its many offsprings like sociology, psychology, anthropology et al. in the late 19th century it has labored to keep its totalizing concept of interpreting everything. It still suffered from this complex of achieving hegemony through much of the 20th century, but now it seems a quest lost forever.

Like theoretical physics it still dreams of “the (totalizing!) theory of everything” but like Atlas sinks under the heavy burden and achieves only aching immobility.

Shadows give not only the coolness of comfort but also the freedom to move out of them into a different zone of sunshine.

The shadows are infinitely more inspiring than the Totalization. They not only reflect something. They create reflection. They become life itself.

Read Hans Christian Andersen’s fairytale from 1847 here:


6:08 PM  

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