Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Totalization of Shadows, Part XVII

Consciousness, choice, freedom, autonomy, activation, independence, nature-culture, totalization— a beginning schizoanalysis of Thoreau-Descartes-Yusef:

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately”

To the woods—yes.

But to live deliberately? Why “deliberately”?

I note I have neglected the significance of the word “deliberately” in past readings of this passage.

I hear, instead, (without realizing I have made a substitution),

“I went to the woods because I wished to live vibrantly, freely, easily, without impediment, without the intrusions of the state, the civil society.”

To live “deliberately”? Why have I never been jarred by that before?

To live “deliberately” in no way implies or connotes “freely, easily, without impediment.” Whether or not it implies or connotes “without the intrusions of the state, the civil society” is something which I would like to investigate.

After recent readings and reflections on Descartes, it occurs to me “to live deliberately” means to subject living to the careful scrutiny of the consciousness. And then it occurs to me to ask--if this is the intention,why to the woods?

Some definitions of “deliberate” from online dictionaries,

From Answers.com:

Done with or marked by full consciousness of the nature and effects; intentional.
Arising from or marked by careful consideration: a deliberate decision. See synonyms at voluntary.

(Remarkable—Answers.com gives us VOLUNTARY as a synonym of deliberate.)

From Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary:

Date: 14th century
intransitive verb
: to think about or discuss issues and decisions carefully
transitive verb
: to think about deliberately and often with formal discussion before reaching a decision
synonyms see think

(Extraordinary—Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary goes so far as to give us THINK as the synonym of deliberate.)

From Wiktionary:

Done on purpose; intentional.
Of a person, weighing facts and arguments with a view to a choice or decision; carefully considering the probable consequences of a step; circumspect; slow in determining.
Formed with deliberation; well-advised; carefully considered; not sudden or rash.
Not hasty or sudden; slow.

To consider carefully.

(Fantastic-Wiktionary has recourse to INTENTIONAL to define deliberate.)


Blogger Christoffer said...

I think what you are doing here, is a deconstruction. What does intentionality, consciousness and thinking have to do with the woods?

I have written about this before, and I know one answer. That answer is actually in Descartes meditations, if you look for the place when the 'tone' of his otherwise calm and contemplative textual 'voice' becomes high-pitched and upset.

6:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, to me the mere possibility of doing something with "woods-deliberate" as poles of a sort is fascinating.


11:32 AM  
Blogger Christoffer said...

I make an interpretation that 'the woods' is a problem for 'the deliberate', that which is 'marked by full consciousness of the nature and effects', as intentionality and reason. And yet, 'the woods' are not it's opposite as 'unreason' or a lack of intentionality. What could be less deliberate than wandering around in the woods? Maybe being lost (in the woods).

I think it is reasonable to consider Descartes being lost, perhaps wandering around mental woods, in doubt about just about everything. Would it not be reasonable to consider Descartes mad? Here is what he has to say about that possibility: 'But how could I deny that I possess these hands and this body, and withal escape being classed with persons in a state of insanity, whose brains are so disordered and clouded by dark bilious vapors as to cause them pertinaciously to assert that they are monarchs when they are in the greatest poverty; or clothed in gold] and purple when destitute of any covering; or that their head is made of clay, their body of glass, or that they are gourds? I should certainly be not less insane than they, were I to regulate my procedure according to examples so extravagant.'

To even consider madness, would in itself be mad!

1:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am very interested in the way Descartes succeeds in raising very serious questions only to treat them as if they were merely rhetorical.

I also worry about "lucid madness". I don't think, after the memory of the twentieth century, mad scientists and Adolph Hitler, we are so reassured by signs of clarity,comprehension,technical prowess, that madness is incompatible.

Descartes could be regulating his procedure by examples just as extravagant, but being mad, judge them not to be. He doesn't consider this, does he? I think maybe the reasons he cannot are internal to his procedure itself.


8:52 PM  
Blogger Christoffer said...

The idea is that he does not subject madness to the same intense scrutiny as the other ways of deception that he might be a victim of. The reason for not doing this, is internal to the procedure itself, of the cogito. Madness is a problem for Descarte's cogito, in fact it was a problem for enlightenment thinking. What is madness a representation of? It also appears problematic to say that it is simply the opposite of reason. You can act unreasonable without being mad. But this is what Descartes do, as far as I read him. He have to do this, since if he open up for any other interpretation of madness, it could mean the end of the cogito, and the dualism that sustain it.

Foucault and Derrida had a major disagreement regarding this problem, that is present in Madness and Civilisation. They d id not speak to each other for 10 years.

2:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Foucault and Derrida had a major disagreement regarding this problem, that is present in Madness and Civilisation. They d id not speak to each other for 10 years."

I would appreciate it if you'd blog or in some other way expand upon this because I know nothing about it.


3:08 AM  

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