Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Temporary but Unrepentant Umbilical to Furthur Thought-Insanity, Part XXVIII

A rustling of an undisclosed number of rats, not too far away.

One of the trains is stalled on the tracks, and the underground is strangely silent, eerily silent. The large headlight at the front of the stalled train, shines like a spotlight down the track, up to a curving left turn, illuminating it with eerie brightness matching the eerie silence.

The biggest rat in the pack is perched above the others, directly in front of the headlight, not moving much, munching on something, maybe a peanut.

The big rat’s silhouette, against the curving wall, magnifies the big rat's size into something enormous.

The rat's silhouette is moving—but not in synchrony with the motions the rat is making.

Though the big rat's paws clutch the peanut, the silhouette’s crooked, gnarled, wicked, humungously clawed paw reaches outward, as if to grasp…...The whitest of the cast light.

Carlos-o(∞): “Hi there, Big Brother!”

Carlos-O(1): “ Whaa…? Who are you? Are you little brother?”

Carlos-o(∞): “ We’re going to have to discuss that.”

Carlos-O(1): “ How come I’ve never heard you before?”

Carlos-o(∞): “ You’re the only one with the voice.”

Carlos-O(1) : “ So you don’t speak?”

Carlos-o(∞): “ No, I speak all the time.”

Monday, August 29, 2011

Temporary but Unrepentant Umbilical to Furthur Thought-Insanity, Part XXVII

Orla-O(1): “ I’m trying to put this to you directly, if not bluntly: it looks to me as if your reason for going back to the Enlightenment thinkers is to avoid thinking. Of course that’s not a reason at all…”

Carlos-O(1): “I’m turning to reason to escape reasoning?”

Orla-O(1): “ It is as if you were saying you wanted to study the Enlightenment because back then they had reasoning which really worked. You said, ‘The key concepts of the Enlightenment are critique, freedom, and experience: Enlightenment consists in the critique of institutions, practices, habits, and opinions in order to make possible a richer and more nuanced kind of freedom than that currently on offer -- and this freedom is experiential, insofar as it is perceived through an enriched awareness of possible ways of experiencing. Thus there is an experience of freedom.’ (Carlos, 2/20/2006). You are saying there was a richer and more nuanced kind of freedom available then than now.”

Carlos-O(1): “ Notice, though, I do not include reason as among the key concepts of the Enlightenment.”

Orla-O(1): “ Yes, I do notice. It’s a dirty trick. At first, I thought you were substituting critique for reason—I admit this interested me—I wanted to see if you could pull it off. If you could pull it off, it’s not a dirty trick. Five years later, though, I see you had no intention of making it work, so it is just a dirty trick. I also see what you’d done is more than making critique synonymous to reason. You say there is an experience of freedom. You are saying this as if we take this notion from the Enlightenment, this period you claim offers a richer and more nuanced kind of freedom than now. However, I do not think any such notion was available to the Enlightenment. I say: for the Enlightenment thinkers there was no theorized experience of freedom. For the Enlightenment thinkers, reason is freedom, and the problem they faced was the separation and opposition of rationality (reason) and empiricism (experience). POMO don’t know no such separation and opposition, and undoubtedly many a POMO will claim ‘there is an experience of reason (and if reason is freedom, thus an experience of freedom.)' This POMO stuff doesn’t work, does it. We don’t get around it not working by inserting POMO junk through an 'Enlightenment' circuit, either.”

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Temporary but Unrepentant Umbilical to Furthur Thought-Insanity, Part XXVI

Carlos-O(1): “ We have a positive result now? This conversation was to be about the Enlightenment, not postmodernity. Now it is the postmodern which comes to the fore, and threatens to remain there. It is your turn to explain.”

Orla-O(1): “ Yes, I admit the turn of events is odd. There has not been a single one of us who likes or would have chosen to make postmodernity the subject of discussion. There is, moreover, every indication we made the return to Enlightenment because of our dislike of postmodern thinking, especially such prominent elements of it as radical subjectivity and relativism. I am not now suggesting we take such 'doctrines' seriously or as ‘the truth’. I am suggesting something has happened to us historically which we cannot turn our backs on.”

Carlos-O(1): “Postmodernity is repugnant to me.”

Orla-O(1): “ It isn’t ours to reject. It isn’t ours to affirm. By postmodernity we are referring to something which happened to us which made us be us. If it had happened differently it wouldn’t be us discussing us discussing this, but it is.”

Carlos-O(1) “ That’s far from convincing. You’re making it seem as if the postmodern is in some way objective or somehow a necessity or otherwise a necessary condition for our thinking. If so, you’re going to have to argue hard for that—I’m not giving this away.”

Orla-O(1): “ I don’t expect you to acquiesce, but I will point out you never produced reasons for the conversation being on the subject of Enlightenment…At the very least I can turn tables on you and ask you to show us the Enlightenment is objective or somehow a necessity or otherwise a necessary condition for our thinking. I believe I can do much, much more than turn tables, however. I assume you agree with me whichever way we go, towards the Enlightenment, the Postmodern, etc. we not follow our identifications...

...I can show that your original theory rests on nothing more than your identifications, but the more recent version has reasons.”

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Temporary but Unrepentant Umbilical to Furthur Thought-Insanity, Part XXV

Carlos-O(1): “ You say to me, ‘If you affirm Enlightenment thinking in terms of postmodern thinking,your theory becomes, ‘Enlightenment is the overcoming of Enlightenment.’

What if I affirm postmodern thinking and change my theory to,

Postmodernity is the hazard and problem of TOTALIZATION coming through the age of Enlightenment.

Orla-O(1): “ Yes, and that we now have the theory in this form must be seen as a positive result of our inquiry. Please note this form of your theory requires you to affirm postmodernity, both as existing and in terms of its specific content.”

Carlos-O(1): "Yes, that is so."

Orla-O(1): " The notion of overcoming in your original theory is replaced by notions of problem, hazard, and 'coming through', but in what ways is totalization a hazard?"

Carlos-O(1): “ Totalization is a hazard in these ways: 1) that it be negated (rejected,denied); 2) that it is not thought through as a problem (e.g. treated as if trivial, marginal, vulgar, uneducated slang, amusing jargon of the 'great unwashed',etc); 3) that it not be seen as a problem, i.e., that it be regarded as it was regarded in the age of Enlightenment and the following modern ‘ages’; 4) that it be seen as a problem but not within the historical horizon of the Enlightenment; 5) that totalization be affirmed. (Affirmed in this sense means something like a prisoner suffering in solitary confinement choosing to regard suffering in solitary confinement as the most wonderful thing imaginable, a real treat.)”

Orla-O(1): " Yes, that is so."

Temporary but Unrepentant Umbilical to Furthur Thought-Insanity, Part XXIV

6)“Totality and Infinity unfolds around phenomenological descriptions of Being, understood mechanistically as nature. Being as love of life holds an important place here, much the way need as positivity, and existence as light, did in the 1930s and ‘40s. Levinas again reframes labor, less as mastery and humanization of nature, and more as the creation of a store of goods with which an other can be welcomed.” Article about Levinas

7)“Dilthey conceives religious experience as an extension of Schleiermacher's feeling of absolute dependence. It is a total experience that interweaves a feeling of dependence with an awareness of a higher life independent of nature. Religious life is also regarded as the enduring background of human intellectual development, and that development can manifest itself in mythical representation, in theological doctrine, in metaphysical conceptualization as well as in scientific theory. For Dilthey, myth is not a primitive mode of religion as is often thought, but a primitive mode of scientific theory. Whereas religious experience directly presents reality through feeling, myth represents it. Myth is not simply religious because like science it is an attempt to explain the connectedness of natural and social phenomena.
Later as he reflected on the nature of worldviews, Dilthey would occasionally return to the problem of religion. What distinguishes the religious worldview from artistic and philosophical worldviews is that it relates the visible to what is invisible, life to our awareness of death. In a striking late passage, Dilthey writes that when life is experienced religiously "according to its true nature—full of hardships and a singular blend of suffering and happiness throughout—[it] points to something strange and unfamiliar, as if it were coming from invisible sources, something on life from outside, yet coming from its own depths’ “Article about Dilthey

8)“Philosophers have produced metaphysical formulations of worldviews that attempt to give them a universal conceptual determinacy. Dilthey analyzes three recurrent types of such metaphysical formulations: naturalism, the idealism of freedom and objective idealism. The naturalism of Democritus, Hobbes and others reduces everything to what can be cognized and is pluralistic in structure; idealism of freedom as found in Plato, Kant and others insists on the irreducibility of the will and is dualistic; objective idealism as found in Heraclitus, Leibniz and Hegel affirms reality as the embodiment of a harmonious set of values and is monistic. The three types of metaphysical worldviews are incommensurable in that each is reductive in some way. No metaphysical formulation can have more than relative validity because it attempts to arrive at a totalization that transcends experience. All that is humanly possible is to probe reality on the basis of life-experience and to settle for the more limited philosophical insights provided by universal history. Ultimately, our reflective understanding of life and history must remain determinate-indeterminate.” Article about Dilthey

Temporary but Unrepentant Umbilical to Furthur Thought-Insanity, Part XXIII

My sub-thesis-rhizome (I will strikethrough sub-thesis if I get to rhizome) is that the use, meaning, value, and significance of totalization changes between the age of Enlightenment and our own age of postmodernity. To investigate, I will look at some uses and definitions of the word totalization, to see how these change over time.

This is for the very specific purpose of understanding: 1)the movement of Carlos-O(1) and Orla-O(1); 2)Enlightenment and postmodernity as haecceity rather than category or periodization of history;3) rhizomes as encounter and sympathy rather than hideous fungal overgrowth, monstrously homogenizing power more horrific than category, theme or metanarrative;4) and to create the encounter of postmodernity and the age of Enlightenment.

1) “Postmodernism should wage a war on totality.”-- Jean-Francois Lyotard.

2) “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.) Myth does not cease to be myth when it is rendered in a conceptual form, and at the heart of all myths is something that refuses to be conceptualized. (This is true for conceptual myth-makers like Plato and Hegel. And in our own day, the thirst for conceptual myth-making, such as that of Ken Wilbur or Richard Tarnas, remains unquenchable.)”—Carlos

3) “Sartre had long been fascinated with the French novelist Gustave Flaubert. In what some would consider the culmination of his thought, he weds Existentialist biography with Marxian social critique in a Hegelian “totalization” of an individual and his era, to produce the last of his many incompleted projects, a multi-volume study of Flaubert's life and times, The Family Idiot (1971-1972). In this work, Sartre joins his Existentialist vocabulary of the 1940s and early '50s with his Marxian lexicon of the late '50s and '60s to ask what we can know about a man in the present state of our knowledge. This study, which he describes as “a novel that is true,” incarnates that mixture of phenomenological description, psychological insight, and social critique that have become the hallmark of Sartrean philosophy.” Article about Sartre

4) “Being, as we noted, also is dark indeterminacy. Having suspended the binaries of de facto inside and outside as part of his own phenomenological bracketing,[21] Levinas will approach this indeterminacy not as objectivity, but as something revealed through mood. Whether it is the dark indeterminacy that besets the insomniac self, or whether it is the rustling of nocturnal space, Being's dark aspect horrifies us. “The things of the day world then do not in the night become the source of the ‘horror of darkness’ because our look cannot catch them in their ‘unforeseeable plots’; on the contrary, they get their fantastic character from this horror. Darkness…reduces them to undetermined, anonymous being, which they exude” (EE, 54). This anonymous being, also called the il y a [there is], does not ‘give’ the way Heidegger's Being does. And it is not revealed through mere anxiety. Nevertheless, it is a beginning. Insomniac and in the throes of horror, the hypostasis falls asleep. Or again, it lights a light and reassembles its consciousness. It “sobers up.” Therein lays our first, constitutive escape from neutral Being. But the il y a gives the lie to the question: Why is there Being instead of simply nothing? Nothing, as pure absence, may be thinkable, but it is unimaginable. Indeterminate Being fills in all the gaps, all the temporal intervals, while consciousness arises from it in an act of self-originating concentration. This is the first sketch of Being as totality. The self-‘I’ dyad becomes a limited transcendence arising in the midst of the self's encompassing horror. It hearkens to a call that comes not from neutral Being but from the Other. The stage is thus set for Totality and Infinity's elaborate analyses of world, facticity, time as now-moment, transcendence in immanence, and transcendence toward future fecundity. These themes constitute the core of Totality and Infinity: An Essay on Exteriority.”Article about Levinas

5) “Levinas's first book-length essay, Totality and Infinity (1961), was written as his Habilitation or Doctorat d'État.[22] Transcendence is a significant focus of Totality and Infinity, coming to pass in the face-to-face relationship. For Levinas, to escape deontology and utility, ethics must find its ground in an experience that cannot be integrated into logics of control, prediction, or manipulation. Whether it takes the form of the conscious ‘fit’ between subject and object in Husserl's phenomenology, or whether a unity of mind and being evolves dialectically, rational activity can never become ‘angelic’. That is, it cannot step outside the totalizing logics of metaphysical systems, without supposing them or restoring them. There is no formal bridge, for Levinas, between practical and pure reason. Philosophy in the twentieth century (Heidegger, the Frankfurt School, deconstruction) has shown, at least, that the universality of concepts and the necessity carried by transcendental arguments are simply not sufficient to prevent the triumph of ends-rationality and instrumentalization. Ethics is therefore either an affair of inserting particulars into abstract scenarios, or ethics itself speaks out of particularity about the first human particularity: the face-to-face relationship.”Article about Levinas

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Temporary but Unrepentant Umbilical to Furthur Thought-Insanity, Part XXI

Orla-O(1): “You gave us a theory of the Enlightenment couched in terms of a problem of postmodernity : the problem of totalization. Not only is totalization not perceived as a problem by the Enlightenment, it is seen as a way out of the Enlightenment's problems: of custom, tradition, dogma, or what Hegel called ‘the immediately given.’”

Carlos-O(1): “ Yes, and the funny thing is, I repudiate the postmodern. I regard the postmodern as ‘counter-enlightenment.’ I want to get away from the postmodernapproach to philosophy. The idea is to go back to the Enlightenment’s approach. To tackle a postmodern problem (being generous here and saying these problems belong to an era which is accurately named postmodern.) To take or retrieve something from Enlightenment philosophies and apply it to a contemporary problem. I perceive something limiting and debilitating in postmodern thought, while on the other hand I sense a great Enlightenment clarity, effectiveness, thoroughness, precision, and refinement. I am embarrassed by the label postmodern. I reject it. I feel misunderstood when I am called postmodern.”

Orla-O(1): “If you repudiate the postmodern, I have to inform you that your theory is a baffling set of contradictory affirmations and denials. At the very least, you must acknowledge you’re guilty of an anachronism.

(Author-O(1)’s note: yes, guilty of an anachronism. Tsk, Tsk.)

" You are affirming the Enlightenment, but as your use of totalization is explicable only as that term is used in postmodernity, you also affirm postmodernity. If you take the postmodern problem of totalization seriously you affirm postmodernity. If you affirm postmodern thinking calling totalization a problem, properly speaking you need to deny Enlightenment thinking. If totalization is the problem you think it is, Enlightenment thinking isn’t worth the time of day. Reason cannot go mad according to the Enlightenment thinkers. Reason is freedom. Reason cannot deny freedom. There cannot be reasonable prisons, in the final analysis. There cannot be reasonably increasing enslavement of human beings. (As accidents or counter-trends of progress, there could be increasing enslavement or incarceration or other manifesting of unfreedom-- but what can’t happen is that these be traced to reason in itself. In other words, to reason in its essence.) If you affirm Enlightenment thinking in terms of postmodern thinking, (the problem of totalization is the result of postmodern thinking), your theory rephrases into, ‘Enlightenment is the overcoming of Enlightenment.’”

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Temporary but Unrepentant Umbilical to Furthur Thought-Insanity, Part XX

Orla-O(1): “ The word totalization is used by postmoderns as shorthand for the madness of reason; for the way the liberating powers of reason, spirit, and idea lead away from liberation towards ever-tightening confinement and control of reason, spirit, and idea. The Enlightenment figures didn’t at all intend or anticipate this. Totalization was reason leading to more expansive reason, leading to greater and greater freedom and realization of freedom as humanity overcame objective barriers to human freedom.”

Carlos-O(1): “ My formulaic ‘Enlightenment is the overcoming of totalization through critique’ might have, (in order to remove postmodern overcoding), been better stated, 'Enlightenment is the overcoming of tradition, custom, dogma, doxa through totalization.'”

Orla-O(1): “ In the Enlightenment totalization is a process of reasoning which frees the spirit, but by the time of postmodernity it has become the very name of the oppressive. It’s fitting this synonym of oppression within thought is associated with the work of Hegel. Hegel, for whom, ‘The state is the actuality of the ethical Idea. It is ethical mind qua the substantial will manifest and revealed to itself, knowing and thinking itself, accomplishing what it knows and in so far as it knows it. The state exists immediately in custom, mediately in individual self-consciousness, knowledge, and activity, while self-consciousness in virtue of its sentiment towards the state, finds in the state, as its essence and the end-product of its activity, its substantive freedom.’- The Philosophy of Right.”

Carlos-O(1): “Virtually no postmodern views the state as the instantiation of reason or the actuality of the ethical Idea… It’s almost unthinkable anyone ever did. I am not saying the contemporary unpopularity of his ideas means Hegel is refuted, invalidated, or exposed as a fraud, but I agree with you there is a kind of natural wisdom in identifying elements of Hegel’s thought with the very opposite of what Hegel intended by it…”

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Temporary but Unrepentant Umbilical to Furthur Thought-Insanity, Part XIX

Orla-O(1): “ You’re not answering the question. For example, if you justify your behavior by saying it helps others, this leaves hanging why it has to be compulsory. If what you do is helpful, why aren’t others clamoring for help? Why do people need to be compelled to accept help?”

Carlos-O(1): “ They don’t know what’s good for them. I, however, do.”

Orla-O(1): “ The point was never to fire back at you the accusation of narcissism (and I’m not sure that’s fitting anyway), but as you chose to answer as if it was, and then said this, I assume you see a chink is revealed in your armor.”

Carlos-O(1): “ I don’t have to see any such thing. What I see is someone who is of the ‘great unwashed’, the ignorant and unlearned, who presumes, from within this ignorance, to see ‘chinks in my armor’…Lacking the background in philosophy I have, you can’t possibly evaluate me.”

Orla-O(1): “Whatever. I don’t want to stray too far from your ideas as you’ve actually stated them. (And forget about this self justification altogether, if I can.) You speak of totalization. When I first heard you use this word, I understood it, not as naming a concept or set of concepts, but as a symbol—a symbol for enclosure or imprisonment of thinking. A symbol for all which blocks, inhibits, represses, and arbitrarily limits thinking. I didn’t relate it historically to philosophy…Then I realized totalization used the way you used it is postmodern lingo,slang. You are literally speaking of and viewing Enlightenment from the vantage of the postmodern. That’s why totalization to us seemed for such a long time self-explanatory. Obvious. Totalization is a key term of our historical era, of the postmodern. Only in the era of postmodernity would the Enlightenment be defined as you defined it, as overcoming totalization. As postmodern we have 'easy access' to the meaning of totalization.”

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Temporary but Unrepentant Umbilical to Furthur Thought-Insanity, Part XVIII

Carlos-O(1): “ That’s an interesting observation, and maybe we can investigate it further. However, what interests me more is the conflict between your celebration of NOW, of the ecstatic, energetic, the nascent, the erotic, HAPPENING NOW, and any need you have for the reflective, the recollective, historical thought, or study of the past. If the past already contains the now in its fullest, most advanced, form (Plato was a computer programmer), we should be able to get anything we might get from the past more simply, more clearly, more directly, more immediately (and thus more intensely), from being ‘in the now’. We could, if I follow your drift, get Plato by surfing, if we wanted. Certainly I agree that’s a much more pleasant and exciting way to “get Plato” than sitting in a hard chair in front of a standardized desk placed in a narrow row of other standardized desks in a rectilinear box of the sort we call a classroom. Or, come to think of it, much much more pleasant than where we are now, in this dank underground where we carry out our discussions of light. Why do you or would you ever bother AT ALL?”

Orla-O(1): “That’s because whenever I go into a dark, dank place, or on the other hand a well-lighted, standardized, routinized, homogenized, bland, reductive, or police monitored and controlled, authoritarian-structured place, it becomes ecstatic, energetic, erotic, etc.”

Carlos-O(1): “ That’s merely narcissistic.”

Orla-O(1): “ Well, there’s a narcissistic dimension to virtually all human activity. Mine happen to align more with what’s pleasant, humorous, and enjoyable. What’s wrong with that? Why do you suppose you overcome the narcissistic with your emphasis on the unpleasant, the dour, and the compulsory?”

Carlos-O(1) : “ My work is directed towards others, my students, my readers, other participants in academic discourse. I’m helping them, assisting them, expanding their horizons. I'm placing my students on the path to a productive and rewarding future; my comments on the history of philosophy may help my colleagues advance in their own work. In as many ways as possible, what I do is geared to the interests of others…That’s not so narcissistic, really. Of course I have career and other ambitions, and don’t turn down any recognition I receive. I also get pleasure from helping others. It’s greater than the pleasure I get from surfing, truth be known. (I’ve never had the feeling you’d deny me this.) ”

Friday, August 19, 2011

Temporary but Unrepentant Umbilical to Furthur Thought-Insanity, Part XVII

Carlos-O(1): “ We both refer to a past which plagues the present. For you, the past is represented in the figure of Plato. For me, it is in mythic thinking. What’s different is that for you, the past already contains the present: your Plato is a computer programmer. He’s modern, he’s a computer scientist, a technician in the modern sense of the word. For me, it is the past which is in the present, for I see contemporary thought inhabited and animated by the mythic, the ancient, pre-modern. In other words, you put the present into the past while I put the past into the present.”

Orla-O(1): “Yes, that is so.”

Carlos-O(1): “ We both reject the division between the ancient and the modern. At least any hard and fast, harsh, strong division between the two.”

Orla-O(1): “ Yes, that is so.”

Carlos-O(1): “ One really wonders what could possibly interest us to mention the Enlightenment, let alone have a conversation about it. If Plato was a computer programmer in ancient Athens, nothing new emerged from the Enlightenment, and if mythic thinking continues today as insurmountable in cognitive structures,nothing was overcome in the Enlightenment,either.”

Orla-O(1): “Yes, that is so.”

Carlos-O(1): “ Do you think what we’re really 'interested' in is the prestige of philosophy and philosophers, of scholars, during this time?”

Orla-O(1): “ Yes, that is so.”

Carlos-O(1) a bit agitated, elbowing Orla-O(1)too sharply, but whispering: “No, boob, that question can’t be answered ‘yes, that is so’.”

Orla-O(1): “ Well, I don’t think we should be hard on ourselves. We aren’t moderns and we ain’t ancients…attitudes to the historical Enlightenment seem to be a way of testing who we are. If we can’t satisfactorily place the significance of the Enlightenment, (whatever the problems of modernity, my opinion is the Enlightenment had a satisfactory placement in thought during it), it means we’ve changed. It’s evidence we’re in a new place.”

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Temporary but Unrepentant Umbilical to Furthur Thought-Insanity, Part XVI

Carlos-O(1): “ There’s also something in common between totalization and dualisms—the objects of our revolt and overcoming.”

Orla-O(1): “ What would that be?”

Carlos-O(1): “ If we view totalization in terms of a set relationship between any subject and object, the dualistic nature of totalization becomes obvious.”

Orla-O(1): “ Yes, that is so.”

AUTHOR-O(1)'s NOTE-O(1):
Orla-O(1) is thus quickly reduced to asking questions allowing Carlos-O(1) to clarify what is already meant, or simply agreeing. “What?” and “Yes, that is so,” is said way, way too many times. Indeed, Carlos-O(1) and Orla-O(1) are engaged in Platonic dialogue, PLATO-O(1) DIALOGUE-O(1). Fiendishly, we hope later to reverse their roles to further mystify the power relationship involved…As long as the two switch back and forth between master and student roles, we can assure it will take two millennium or so before anyone notices there is a power relationship involved.
Carlos-O(1): “ The theory of change may also be similar. The subject and object change through a higher synthesis of both in the totalization. It may also be said larvae come about through a synthesis—an organic synthesis.”

Orla-O(1): “ Yes, that is so. However, with synthesis of larvae, we at least have DNA syntheses—-copulation!”

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Temporary but Unrepentant Umbilical to Furthur Thought-Insanity, Part XV

Carlos-O(1): “We both offer an idea of something to overcome or revolt against.”

Orla-O(1): “Yes, in your case it is totalization, and in mine, a king who is a master of dualisms.”

Carlos-O(1): “ We both also offer a picture of what happens, the overcoming or revolt, as never ending…It goes on and on.”

Orla-O(1): “ Quite right. You say the task of critique is infinite, incompleteable, and without end. After pointing out Plato has never been more relevant than today, I say his relevance is as something to revolt against. Revolt against Plato goes on and on, interminably. It is taken up again and again in our history. It must be taken up again by us, today.”

Carlos-O(1): “The feature of incompleteness is something both of us affirm.”

Orla-O(1): “ As long as incompleteness is not conceived as failure or negation.”

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Temporary but Unrepentant Umbilical to Furthur Thought-Insanity, Part XIV

A dark room, or perhaps antechamber. Six rats clamber up a damp wall, a bit of garbage is strewn upon the concrete floor.

Ah, we’re in a subway station, a station of the underground.

We’re in a tube, the damp wall the six rats clambered up was covered in slick, slippery, white but dingy ceramic tiles, making the feat remarkable. That’s a clever rat pack.

The Enlightenment down here is from flickering and buzzing fluorescent lamps, also tube-like, arranged in parallel rows about six inches below a slight crease in the tiles marking the line between the walls of the tube and its ceiling. It’s an imaginary distinction, however, because the tube’s walls and ceiling are continuous with one another.

Two old panhandlers (or are they college professors? The line between these two is also imaginary, as the characteristics distinguishing them are blurred) stand huddled in the middle of the room, whispering and occasionally shouting hoarsely:

Carlos-O(1) “However, the predisposition to mythic thinking is inscribed in the cognitive structures through which any complex, hierarchical society is produced and reproduced. Therefore, the task of critique is without end. An infinite and incompleteable critique.”

Orla-O(1) “Plato--The master of dualisms. The first computer programmer of binary thinking. 0-1. Why is he still relevant? He has never been more so. As the king to revolt against.”
Both wear brown fedoras pulled down over their foreheads, partially covering their eyes, giving them a somewhat shifty appearance. Both wear dirty overcoats of the kind we associate with dirty old men, perverts. When they are shouting, it isn’t in anger, but because they can’t hear each other. That’s not due to the noise of the underground trains rushing past,however, because sometimes they shout when there is no train going by. It may be they don’t hear each other because they can’t hear each other. But they aren’t deaf, either.

Carlos-O(1):“We’ll have a Platonic dialogue.”

Orla-O(1):“No, a Deleuzian-Parnetian one.”

Carlos-O(1):” Damn you, dirty larva!”

Orla-O(1): “Damn you dirty ape!”

Monday, August 15, 2011

Temporary but Unrepentant Umbilical to Furthur Thought-Insanity, Part XIII

“However, the predisposition to mythic thinking is inscribed in the cognitive structures through which any complex, hierarchical society is produced and reproduced. Therefore, the task of critique is without end. An infinite and incompleteable critique.”- Carlos, February, 2006
Note that we encounter the word “structure” in this comment, among the earliest of Enlightenment Underground. Cognitive structures: these are something like a natural anatomy and physiology considered together as thinking, is thinking… we encounter them here as something Carlos recognizes may prevent critique from developing or being effective. In fact, Carlos concedes the fight—the cognitive structures win because they are what Carlos sees as truly important to any society –its own production and reproduction. This isn’t exactly clear, however, because though critique is hamstrung and marginalized in this way, Carlos appears to affirm a critique which remains undeveloped and largely ineffective.

While the mythic thinking has been aligned to the natural and to cognitive structures, mythic thinking is also said to have been inscribed. This raises the question: by whom or what? I assumed upon first reading that to inscribe implies a cultural effect, because an inscription is text carved on a wall or plaque or coin, or words of dedication in the front of a book, a registration, or an enrolment. We do not usually consider these to be produced by plants or animals, earthquakes, or volcanoes, or the like, any more than we typically would regard our cognitive structures, if these exist, to have been created by men.

I place Carlos’ thought at this point within structuralism. There is a structure and function of mythic thinking, an importance and durability to it, and in a way this places mythic thinking above criticism and questioning. If criticism takes place, it must take place with due regard for criticism’s own structure and function as determined by the larger structure and function of “cognitive structures,” and subservience to any society’s paramount function of producing and reproducing itself. Criticism is thus carefully confined, and it is not creative, if to be creative is to create change or something new. Criticism in this sense could make things better, with what’s better and what’s not understood in terms which are already set somehow (inscribed in cognitive structures.)

If cognitive structures are inscribed naturally, and if the natural is the primitive, the savage, but also the authoritative, as any complex, hierarchical society is produced and reproduced this way, but Enlightenment is what we want, and Enlightenment is an overcoming, (of mythic thinking, of cognitive structures), we must affirm and perpetuate what we hope to overcome. We must conserve what we revolt against. Are we conserving or are we revolting? If we accept our revolt as conservative, what does that do to us or our revolt? Who or what are we appeasing?

The unusual way the words complex and hierarchical are combined gave me the impression Carlos believes hierarchical societies are the complex ones, but what if hierarchical society is a reduction of potential complexity rather than an exemplification or realization of it? Along with the other considerations, I took away an impression Carlos saw hierarchical society as natural society. I understand human society has been hierarchical, but isn’t the question: must human society continue to be? That question is simply submerged if we reference overcoming in a context of “cognitive structures.”

The past subsumes the future. In general, we have paid attention to the need to overcome binary oppositions in thought, less to how this actually is accomplished, and little to the question of subsumption, or whether any relationship of concepts avoids subsumption of one by the other. The past subsumes the future. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a future, or anything new or novel produced in the future, never any change in the future, but it affects the nature of the new or novel produced in the future. It fits the new or novel into a framework, a “structure.” If the framework is what needs to be new or novel, or to change, that will be a very unfortunate effect. We can’t affirm mythic thinking as a cognitive structure or to any degree necessary without accepting thought, critique as passive, defeated, futile (without end, infinite and incompleteable). Please note I see the rhizome as neither beginning nor ending, too, but as active, overcoming, and lively—which means the rhizome is a way of thinking without end, the incompleteable as satisfaction.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Temporary but Unrepentant Umbilical to Furthur Thought-Insanity, Part XII

If “Descartes” is a rhizome, it is difficult to understand what Deleuze and Guatarri were responding to when they invented the concept of the rhizome. What problem?

It has to be before Deleuze and Guatarri no one would have stated it (at all and definitely not as simple fact) that Descartes was a rhizome, even if Descartes had been a rhizome all along. However, Descartes couldn’t have been a rhizome all along (not simply because the term wasn't applied this way), and this is something we can’t overlook as we discuss Descartes, the Enlightenment, rhizomes, and categories.

Hopefully it is clear from the immediately preceding post (part XI) that what results from BOTH/AND is not a solution. It does not answer the problem of what is, or to which category something belongs. Hopefully no one thinks a rhizome is a category. (A rhizome is BOTH a category AND a rhizome, which means it is not a category.)

What results from BOTH/AND is a rhizome (when what’s acted on is a category) or another rhizome (when a rhizome was acted on.) BOTH/AND acts on a category to produce a rhizome—that doesn’t mean the category was a rhizome all along. The rhizome is something new and different. I hope someday ALL categories will have been acted on by BOTH/AND, so that the categories are all opened and become rhizomes, and the importance of categorical thinking becomes negligible—that’s the desire. But that’s not where we are now…

The rhizome is an open category—it opens. Instead of using the term rhizome, I could use the term “category o(∞)”. It is an action…It’s unfortunate rhizome in our grammar is a noun, but that’s a misfortune of our place in history. It's not a defect of a new concept of category.

Temporary but Unrepentant Umbilical to Furthur Thought-Insanity, Part XI

“Creating concepts, of the PLATO-O(1) variety or even of the PLATO-o(∞) variety, is a desire. Creating concepts is a desire. Whatever concept creating is being compared, the desire is equivalent. The desire of the concept creation of PLATO-O(1) is a desire; the desire of the concept creation of PLATO-o(∞) is a desire. Desire is desire. Trees are rhizomes, rhizomes are trees, as both are desire. To say of two things BOTH are the same is to establish an equivalent. PLATO-O(1) is equivalent to PLATO-o(∞). The goof of history was to have differentiated the terms systematic or logical from "rhizome" when they are equivalent and exchangeable. PLATO-o(∞)and PLATO-O(1) must not be distinguished."
--Schantz-Asabiyah hybrid larva

Two additional preliminary comments:

1. The BOTH-AND logic or approach: I have also endorsed the BOTH-AND logic or approach. I recently stated my opinion that PLATO-O(1) is just another rhizome among rhizomes, and thus also subscribe to the idea of PLATO-O(1) as the tree that is also a rhizome, or, PLATO-O(1) as BOTH rhizome AND tree. Thus, it is rude and unfair for me to ridicule Orla for saying the same. However, I hasten to point out for me the BOTH-AND approach is an element of what can prevent the erection of PLATO-O(1), its maintenance, obedience to PLATO-O(1), the cult of the personality in the history of philosophy, and authoritative thought (dogmatic thought, thought no longer requiring thought, and actively discouraging further thought.) It can be pointed out that if the BOTH-AND approach is valid and if the BOTH-AND approach prevents these things, it must be BOTH preventative AND facilitative of these things. And if so, how do we know if we are using BOTH-AND to prevent or facilitate authoritative doxa? To urge a BOTH-AND approach to Plato, Kant, or the historical Enlightenment does not solve the problem. The BOTH-AND approach is not a solution—it must remain in approach…But how does one know whether what one has is an approach or a solution (a fixed form which no longer requires thought, and can be applied to other problems—manually (in this sense of application, however, any IT application no matter how complex, sophisticated, and far removed from the hand of a worker or craftsman would be manual.) The BOTH-AND approach implies the BOTH-AND approach is BOTH approach AND solution. This is now “hopelessly” tangled. Yes. Yet this is all to the good, and what I affirm. When I apply the BOTH-AND approach to my own thought and criticisms what I get is rhizome (tangle, fur ball). Thus, my “criticism” of Orla in the last post reveals itself as criticism-O(1). Criticism o(∞) awaits.

2. “Do You Realize How Simple Desire Is?”—Deleuze. This remark is not used to specify what desire is or is not, but to increase the range of desire (Deleuze’s intent can’t have been to disqualify all desire for actual accomplishment, complex or difficult tasks, goals which are not readily achieved, and so on.) If desire is simple and simple is taken as a simple distinguishable feature (how could it not be and still be ‘simple’?), one could sort through ones’ psyche feelings which were true desire from false desires (or repressed desires, or the desire for repression, perverse desire) based on whether the feeling was simple or not. (How does one distinguish the simple? What is simple about the simple?) The effect of ascribing desire to such a set is to: 1) restrict desire to the level of fantasy or imagination. There is a desire to create concepts…However the desire to create a concept is not the same as creating a concept, any more than a desire to climb a mountain is to climb the mountain. 2) give up on all which cannot be accomplished without effort, discipline, ingenuity, sweat, preparation, planning, and the like; 3)valorize all ‘simple’ acts as desire or desirable, when one’s desire may be elsewhere, may be exhausted in what is taking as 'simple' and this is disguised, or be imprisoned (asceticism of the ‘simple.’) Desire as ascribed to such a set is a drive. A drive is a natural desire. It originates in nature, naturally. Please note that such desire is DESIRE-O(1). It is authoritative desire, unquestionable—irresistible and unquestionable. Ultimately, it can only be obeyed, (for as we all know, as it permeates to a microscopic degree our culture,) to not obey a “drive” is disastrous. The “drive” demands obedience. Neither Deleuze nor Orla could intend us to conceptualize desire this way. Nor do I. It is possible to open such a conception of desire to question—it is entirely questionable. It is possible to resist. Desire is rhizomatic (which means desire is not simple in the usual sense of the word.)

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Temporary but Unrepentant Umbilical to Furthur Thought-Insanity, Part X

“Creating concepts, however larval, is a desire. Forming lines of flights from figures of traditional philosophy as in the associative names of the philosophical canon is a desire. ‘Plato’ is a rhizome, a multiplicity of territories, a concept in spe.”-- Schantz, EU posting, April 2009

This is from the same post as PLATO-Or. The original post contains the name “Descartes”, but I would be innocent to substitute nearly any name for the name “Descartes” because the point of the quote is that anything, no matter how tree-like (racked or crucified by binary oppositions it may be), it is, in essence and truth, a rhizome. To treat any thinker in human history, as anything but a rhizome, is an error. Even the thinkers of the Enlightenment, the most intentionally, explicit and rigorous of the system thinkers, are to be treated as rhizomes—thinkers of rhizomes.

Rhizomes are the essence, Orla urges us to perceive.

Thus, Orla considers Plato as BOTH a rhizome (a multiplicity) AND a tree, (the master of dualisms, the first computer programmer of binary thinking. 0-1.)

I originally thought I would be able to discuss our problems in terms of Kant, then Kant got lost and Plato came in—not at all a thinker of the historical Enlightenment—then I took liberties with Orla’s quote, substituting the name of Plato for the name Descartes, whom we consider an Enlightenment thinker. In fact, Orla’s post is a fragment—it concludes with the note, “to be continued,” but it never is. Kant might have been covered if it was. Maybe even as the summation, the totality of rhizomes. My point, however, is that what we have is an infernal doubling and multiplying: the Enlightenment is doubled by Kant, Kant is doubled by Plato, by Descartes—by everything we’ve ever discussed. This is the problem.

Rephrasing Orla’s quote in terms of the problem of PLATO-Or, PLATO-o(∞), and PLATO-O(1):

“Creating concepts, of the PLATO-O(1) variety or even of the PLATO-o(∞) variety, is a desire. Creating concepts is a desire. Whatever concept creating is being compared, the desire is equivalent. The desire of the concept creation of PLATO-O(1) is a desire; the desire of the concept creation of PLATO-o(∞) is a desire. Desire is desire. Trees are rhizomes, rhizomes are trees, as both are desire. To say of two things BOTH are the same is to establish an equivalent. PLATO-O(1) is equivalent to PLATO-o(∞). The goof of history was to have differentiated the terms systematic or logical from "rhizome" when they are equivalent and exchangeable. PLATO-o(∞)and PLATO-O(1) must not be distinguished."

Friday, August 12, 2011

Temporary but Unrepentant Umbilical to Furthur Thought-Insanity, Part IX

For the purpose of nurturing the metamorphosis of PLATO-Or (or merely my own monologue), I introduce a new nomenclature:

PLATO- Ø: This is the larvae of PLATO of everyone in human history (including hominids and also our contemporaries,) who have never heard of PLATO in any shape or form.

PLATO-?: This is the larvae of PLATO of everyone in human history (including our contemporaries) who may have heard of PLATO and reflected on PLATO long enough to have wondered or reflected on who or what PLATO was or is, why PLATO was or is important, if mention of PLATO is an absurd joke, a way of putting on airs, a way of expressing homosexual urges, is another “great man” of history weighing down on the brain of the living like a nightmare, just another instance of amorphous burden of “great men” or whatever.

PLATO-o(∞): These are versions of PLATO where PLATO is understood in some way or other. PLATO-o(∞) is “easily” shown to be riddled with error, ignorance, stupidity, and awkwardness. PLATO-o(∞) are a blight on culture (exactly!) and always contributing to the ever-present degeneration and degradation of the human race, as it wends its weary way through time. (Downward in guilt and shame as it goes upward in progress. Both moments are simultaneous and necessary in the history of the west.) These are larvae. There aren’t an infinite number of these, but there are many of them. Their number is finite, and yet their number is not determinable.

PLATO-Or: Orla’s sketch of Plato, Orla’s larva (c.f. part XIII). “The master of dualisms. The first computer programmer of binary thinking. 0-1. Why is he still relevant? He has never been more so. As the king to revolt against.” This is the last time I will post the PLATO-Or larval assemblage in full. This PLATO is of the PLATO-o(∞). It is the PLATO of PLATO-o(∞) which I “specify” for this conversation (for obvious good reason: Orla is this conversation.)

PLATO-O(1): This is the “correct”, official, sanctioned and sanctified, academic, erudite, masterful, authoritative PLATO. There is only ONE. Though I consider this merely another PLATO-o(∞) it is not merely another PLATO-o(∞). (In the same way there are “firsts among equals” a fudge we all make on routine basis in western societies, by which we disguise the true nature of what’s happening to us, and what we are doing to each other. It is true there are firsts among equals, and it is obviously false there can be a first among equals. It is true PLATO-O(1) is a larva and it is also false, ruinously false. PLATO-O(1) is subject to a kind of criticism--however, ONLY CRITICISM-O(1)(which,significantly, doubles PLATO-O(1).)

PLATO-o(∞) must be distinguished from PLATO-O(1). That we have not done so has meant that we have been nasty to each other without meaning to be. To distinguish these two and treat them differently from now on is a primary reason creating this nomenclature (but there are other reasons as well.)

PLATO-f: PLATO-f is PLATO-furthur. This is a PLATO I can’t speak about much, as I can’t speak much about the results of an experiment before the experiment is conducted, or even fully planned as such.

Please note that in each of the PLATO-X’s above, I have had to mention a PLATO (a PLATO without suffix) in order to define, name or indicate each “specific” PLATO-X. This is because of a grave methodological or linguistic problem which can easily lead to widespread larval assassination (fumigation) if left unchecked. It can’t be checked. That’s why we don’t get more than a dozen or so larval metamorphoses in a century or more. (The number of larvae we would expect to see surviving randomly within a systematic larval fumigation. This is how I know larvae are being systematically fumigated.) However unable to check this I am, I am able to forewarn, which I do so now. I am not in the process of setting up sets for ascription of memberships, with in some mysterious way MR_WILL_THE_REAL_PLATO_PLEASE_STAND_UP, which is what needs to be thought, strangely and mysteriously lurking in the background, pre-existent, already all thought out, guiding (lawfully ha ha) all the “thought.” Preconceived, solemnly “correcting” larvae, without chorus, as larvae die, larval dying, assassinated, but the larvae dying guilty and shameful.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Temporary but Unrepentant Umbilical to Furthur Thought-Insanity, Part VIII

Again, Orla’s larva:

PLATO: The master of dualisms. The first computer programmer of binary thinking. 0-1. Why is he still relevant? He has never been more so. As the king to revolt against.

This will be referred to as PLATO-Or.

If PLATO-Or metamorphoses furthur, it may become PLATO-EU, the PLATO created at Enlightenment Underground. As in the case of Kant-EU, PLATO-EU may have very little to do with “Kant” as “Kant” is known. PLATO-EU, Kant-EU, or any other XXX-EU’s (eewww, getting a bit nasty) will not “bear a resemblance”, family or otherwise, to others’ PLATO or Kant (or XXX – but EU’s better be sexier, at least to me. If they are not, that’s the failure—not the failure to resemble.)

Let me point out (but not by way of apology,): the others’ Plato, Kant, or XXX, doesn’t bear resemblance to “Plato”, “Kant”, or “XXX”, either. These are all just as far out as PLATO-Or.

ONE case from among the others' is a special case which bears mention: ONE PLATO-X, Kant-X, or XXX-X is presented, as if this ONE however sickly-twisted (or just twisted, I’m not a thought policeman, and this comment in intent is to free thought, not enslave it, and the point is not to displace, invert or pervert, or affix a label of fraud or sickness onto ANY PLATO-X, Kant-X, or XXX-X) this version appears to the other others', is is given as THE PLATO, THE KANT, or THE XXX. It is given as not only resembling Plato, Kant, et al, but as THEIR identical.

Once the case of THE ONE rolls into view, all the other cases may as well shrivel up and die. What the case of ONE relates to, however, is not THE REAL Kant, Plato or XXX, but to the state and capital. What the case of ONE demands is not a devotion to thought, but obedience.

Obediently that we sit our dancing asses down at a school desk, assassinate larvae(Mary had a little larva, little larva…Followed her to school one day, school one day, school ONE day--Bang Bang!), lock down larval metamorphoses, and get down (sit down, Johnny! If your butt doesn’t ache from staying in ONE place, you’re not in school!) working to achieve what we lack: honorable certification and licensure of recognition-obedience to THE ONE.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Temporary but Unrepentant Umbilical to Furthur Thought-Insanity, Part VII

The last thing I want to do is assassinate Orla’s larvae:

PLATO: The master of dualisms. The first computer programmer of binary thinking. 0-1. Why is he still relevant? He has never been more so. As the king to revolt against.

I want to go along with Orla's larvae. I want to use them as I believe Orla intended them to be used. (See part VI for my interpretation of what this use is.)

Admittedly my initial reaction (my approach to the larvae)is critical. It’s as if I want to inspect the foundation before I begin to build a house on it; I want to make sure the house won’t topple after I have invested time and energy building it.

However, larvae are not foundations.

The consideration of time and energy being wasted, of an “investment” being wasted, doesn’t need to arise. The time and energy devoted to taking larvae through their metamorphoses can’t be wasted because expending time and energy in larval metamorphosis is its own reward, as living life is its own reward (should be?)

Note: the larvae and the “time and energy and investment” of “building” larvae is not exterior to me (or to Orla-Yusef-Carlos-Christoffer, if this were a collaborative “building.”) The metaphors of “foundation” “time and energy” (as used in paragraph four, above) “build” and “invest” reinforce an idea of exteriority which subtly shifts the use of the larvae away from how a larvae can be used. (I have problems with the metaphor “use”, too, as this also implies an exteriority—it as if the larvae were or could be a tool which I buy at Home Depot to use on a DIY project…as if the larvae were pre-existing manufactured fixed object for something else which is also conceived as pre-existing manufactured, fixed and objective….Reality.) Exteriority as attached to the concept of larvae assassinates the larvae...Building the larval object builds the subject…Metamorphosis of the larvae is metamorphosis of subject-object. Be larval.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Temporary but Unrepentant Umbilical to Furthur Thought-Insanity, Part VI

“The history of philosophy has always been an agent of power in philosophy, and even in thought. It has played the repressor’s role: how can you think without having read Plato, Descartes, Kant, and Heidegger, and so-and-so’s book about them? A formidable school of intimidation which manufactures specialists in thought – but which also makes those who stay outside conform all the more to this specialism which they despise. An image of thought called philosophy has been formed historically and it effectively stops people from thinking.” –Deleuze, Dialogues

The book Dialogues isn’t, however, a dialogue in the sense of the word. It appears to be responses elicited in an interview, but in the form in which the book Dialogues is printed, only Deleuze is there. Only Deleuze is speaking. We know there’s someone else at work because the book is attributed to Gille Deleuze AND Claire Parnet (whoever that is…I know her only because of this one attribution…Ah, she’s a friend and student of Gilles Deleuze, lucky girl.) Even the interviewer’s questions do not appear as such. (In the conventionally-presented interview, the questions are printed, along with the answers. CP: “Do you ever crap in your hands?” GD: “Every day. I use it as lotion.” This is not the format of Dialogues.) The interviewer’s voice is erased. We listen to the smart guy give us a bunch of answers, and it is pretty funny, because among the questions asked and answered is one from the disembodied background, “A conversation: What is it? What is it for?”

That’s not what I want to talk about, though. I want to talk about Orla’s post from which I lifted (copied and pasted—nice I didn’t have to type it out myself) the above quote. That’s the post, “Do you realize how simple desire is?”, from April 25, 2009.

The above quote is the second Deleuze quote from Dialogues Orla gives us. (Later, I hope to examine the way Orla connects the two quotes.) Orla then presents a list of philosophers, accompanied by a one or two sentence explanation of their work. This one or two sentence explanation isn’t meant as an explanation…It is meant as a larva. A larva is a thought-life which though we take it as a fixed object we also know the "fixed object" is capable of wonderful metamorphosis (literally.) Thus, though we take the larva as a fixed object, we know it is neither fixed nor an object. We may be tempted to perfect or polish the larvae in the fixed objective form we find it, but we know that's not the right approach to larvae.(A polished larvae? That’d be a squishy mess.) Our interest in the larvae is in the transformations of which it is capable…

Here’s one of Orla's larva:

PLATO: The master of dualisms. The first computer programmer of binary thinking. 0-1. Why is he still relevant? He has never been more so. As the king to revolt against.
It’s only a larva. Giving us this larva, Orla is only giving a suggestion of some place, in conversation or dialogue, we might go. It's the suggestion for a metamorphosis. It’s not a thesis, a polished thesis, or a theme. If we subject it to criticism, we are making a mistake similar to treating a first rough draft of an essay as if it were the final, submitted and sanctioned for publication draft…Such criticism serves only to damage the creative process. Larvae are killed this way. "Assassinated!"

Monday, August 08, 2011

Temporary but Unrepentant Umbilical to Furthur Thought-Insanity, Part V

Thus, where we come in on Kant (in other words how we approach him) becomes a critical factor in how we approach each other.

By the way, I have decided on a new convention for signifying Kant. I will from now on call whatever it is I know as “Kant” as Kant-EU. Kant-EU is whatever it is I am referring to when I discuss the Enlightenment through Kant, and the ramifications of the Enlightenment through Kant, in my own life and times. It might have very little to do with the actual Enlightenment or Immanuel Kant, but it had better have everything to do with what this monologue does. Expressing it differently: it had better be true to my own continuing desire to write this monologue.

Here are some ways to approach Kant:

1. As an example of someone who successfully criticized dogma and created novel concepts.
2. As a founder of a new but now dead tradition weighing upon the brains of the living like a nightmare, another strand of all the dead traditions weighing nightmarishly upon the brains of the living.
3. As a “great man,” a genius. A celebrity of history.
4. As the determined product of the historical and economic forces of his time.
5. A maker of history.
6. As someone one must know in order to think, to demonstrate to others one can think.
7. As someone of durable respectability from whom devotion to is rewarded with respectability.
8. As someone of durable respectability one can retreat to when exposure or devotion to other, less respectable thinkers becomes too risky.
9. As someone who deserves some respectability more than anything because of courage, but also disrespect for cowardice.
10. As an ally and an enemy. A creator of tools and tool bags, but also traps.
11. As an artist (c.f. Carlos’ earliest EU post about Kant and Steven Shaviro’s "On the Pleasures of Reading Kant".)

It is peculiar to remember Carlos’ post is titled Approaches to Kant, a title I could have chosen for this post. However, Carlos considered only one approach. In the ensuing dialogue between Carlos, Orla, Christoffer, and me, all of the approaches are used at various times by each of us, even the contradictory, and we “criticized” each other for using approaches we had just used ourselves. This was, to say the least, very unsatisfactory. I was irritated. So was everyone, I assume.

Kant-EU is the chaos of all the approaches, and the friction resulting from the mishmash of using all of the approaches indiscriminately and without much awareness.

Temporary but Unrepentant Umbilical to Furthur Thought-Insanity, Part IV

The Enlightenment thinkers, (and from now on I will not refer generally to “the Enlightenment thinkers” but will continue the blog’s convention of referring to this diversity of thought in the figure of “Kant” regardless of what mutilation this introduces into the history of the Enlightenment and the history of the philosophy of this period, or even into Kant's philosophy), succeed in placing the “thought which requires no further thought”, in other words religious dogma, under further thought. This results in much further successes—it releases bundles of energy into the world, which is used productively in more ways than I can name (and I suspect in more ways than I even know about.) Primarily, though, I am interested in considering the energy and impetus this release of energy gives to science.

It creates science—it makes science successful. Science can do things. It can make discoveries—real discoveries. It produces knowledge and techniques, technologies. Every knowledge, technique, and technology produced has the wonderful effect of producing an enormous number of other knowledges, techniques, and technologies, and on and on, each wave actualizing an even bigger wave, without completion or “totalization”, at least in science. There’s never a final product in science. Each tool of science makes new tools, and if it doesn’t, maybe it isn’t science. Maybe science can be distinguished from non-science in this way. The scientific doesn’t end, while the non-science, is nothing but a dead end. (The dead end can easily be made to wear a camouflage of science…People with advanced degrees wearing white coats and frowns walking through immaculate corridors in modern buildings, surrounded by computers and other technology, punching out numbers and papers, etc. This is not a defect of science per se.)

There’s a success of science. This success of science results from philosophical developments, but the success of science is not necessarily a philosophical success. It might even be the death of philosophy.

The success of science justifies the existence and promotion of science, but not necessarily of philosophy. That is because the success of science is a might, a power. The success of science becomes a “might making right.” If “might makes right”, philosophy was never necessary (and was in fact harmful), from the get-go. So what happened was philosophy put into question “might makes right”, and this questioning led (with many mishaps where philosophy forgot about this questioning and realigned and also went into the service of justifying different orders of “might makes right”,) eventually to science, but then science in its success made a new order of “might makes right”, which was even harder to question than previous orders, partially because of science’s birthing process from within philosophy.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Temporary but Unrepentant Umbilical to Furthur Thought-Insanity, Part III

“…between us we papered over all of these hazards by assuring each other we were both free ‘to think and write anything either of us wanted.’ ”

This attitude, barely conscious to either of us, and to each of us certainly not recognizable as a potential source of strife and dislike—in fact entirely the opposite—surely we both believed this attitude would facilitate collaboration and dialogue—could come to play the insidious role it did because both of us, with full sincerity and joy consider the role of philosophy to be luxurious liberation, production of lavish luxury, of dance and celebration. Yes. What’s more, both of us understand quite well it’s not much of a dance when the dancers slam into each other causing concussion and death, so we would assume any dance we danced on the same dance floor would observe some level of decorum, grace, and civility. We would not anticipate the very notions of “decorum, grace, and civility,” as being loaded, as being the very notions which would, as we danced around, explode, as improvised explosive devices, turning the dance floor into a battleground, just a very peculiar battleground, where the silence following each explosion would be as toxic as depleted uranium after a bunker blast. It was all so innocent, in intention.

Carlos would propose the historical Enlightenment as the topic believing it exemplified liberation and joy as are realized through the most rigorous of thinking acts—thought as active—through thought-acts of critique and questioning followed and supported by experimentation, research, investigation (also thought-acts, thought as active.) The Enlightenment is historically speaking our best example of this—I sincerely share this belief.

In the Enlightenment, in the key figure of Kant (who we picked up kind of willy-nilly as THE thinker of the Enlightenment, the key figure of the whole diverse epoch, the metonym, our conceptual personae through which we would willy-nilly, and pathetically, bathetically, stage an Enlightenment drama), we saw an example of someone successfully challenging dogma (and probably creating our modern concept of dogma, and of creating the idea of dogma as the object of earnest philosophical inquiry). We could then look to Kant for lessons and examples of using thinking to liberate, create, and live joyfully through throwing off the shackles of dogma (thought not to be thought but obeyed, thought not subject to further thought, not to be criticized, questioned, ridiculed, or satirized, disobeyed, “sacred” thought, perfect and complete thought.)

However, dogma is not necessarily understood by Kant in quite the way I parenthetically describe, above. Dogma is understood by Kant mainly as religious thought, which was clearly defined in Kant’s time (in a way which it is no longer clearly defined in our time, and which, indeed, most of the ministers and priests in America which I encounter find as abhorrent as I do, ministers and priests uncomfortable with the label fundamentalist.)

Under my parenthesized characterization of dogma above, Kant’s own thinking could, perhaps, be understood as dogma. Kant of course would object to this understanding—maybe. We really would have done well to specify to what extent Kant would be justified in objecting. However, this isn’t entirely relevant except to academic philosophers, because no matter whether Kant really was set on establishing his own thinking as a new and somewhat more flexible dogma than the religious dogma he had admirably identified and criticized, it is obvious that in practice and daily life and in the academy itself for the most part (and I am very interested whether academic philosophers can step in to defend Kant against charges of dogmafication, godmafication, godamnstopmificatin, whether that defense is or ever can be ACTIVE), Kant’s is the dog. It has the function of a dog. It demands a shifted obedience (to the bourgeois, away from the aristocrat and priest), a new loyalty, a new set of shackles. It’d work as such, too, if not for the snoop dog.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Temporary but Unrepentant Umbilical to Furthur Thought-Insanity, Part II

This blog is an aborted conversation—a conversation that never took shape, and became a monologue—my monologue. It’s also an aborted collaboration—the reasons for the failure of the collaboration have never been discussed…Perhaps to revive the conversation, the reasons for the failure of the collaboration could become the topic of discussion, but the truth is for me at this point I wouldn’t entertain such a proposition—I now reject it with such force that if it were to come up, that would be the “last straw.” The aborted dialogue become monologue is now my monologue, and that’s that.

The blog was initiated by Carlos, who started it off (without input or feedback from me) by proposing some topics (about the historical Enlightenment) which he intended to handle thematically. My opinion is that all of his proposed topics can only be handled thematically. However, any input on my part to these topics would (and were) markedly inferior—unacceptably inferior, because I don’t know anything about these topics (for one very good reason.) What’s more, I didn’t (and do not) have any strong interest in these topics. And what’s more than that, I have an aversion to these topics—I suffer Enlightenment Anxiety. The darkness and evil of all forms of idealism scare the shit out of me. (In part because I am irrevocably idealist, have tasted these evils, and seemingly cannot stop from tasting these evils, which inability is the supreme (and sublime) nightmare of these evils.)

Carlos and I might have been able to discuss how, if we did under these circumstances of my inferiority, take these general topics and find a way to work with them so that my inferiority did not become the unacceptable burden it was to become. For example, we might have been able to narrow the topics so that I could work piecemeal in manageable chunks until I arrived at a somewhat better vantage. Maybe we could have discussed the general topics to arrive at a better shared understanding of my revulsion for them (or so that I myself might, before we embarked, know a little better I had this revulsion, for at the time, my revulsion was to me vaguely felt—on my own, I avoid the historical Enlightenment—Carlos’ proposals would force me not to avoid—and I was unconscious of it, though the feeling, revulsion, is very strong, overpowering.)

Thus, Carlos and I couldn’t have discussed these things at the beginning. I couldn’t have discussed them as I was unconscious of my objections to them. I suspect Carlos was also unconscious of why he had chosen these topics, why he had chosen me to propose them to, and the true significance of the ways he wanted to begin investigating them, and how odd it was to attempt a collaboration beginning in a way which didn’t allow, and even destroyed, for the conditions of a collaboration. What draws my rage is that between us we papered over all of these hazards by assuring each other we were both free “to think and write anything either of us wanted.”

Friday, August 05, 2011

Temporary but Unrepentant Umbilical to Furthur Thought-Insanity, Part I

I am interested in continuing the blog, but for the time being will transfer over to using it as a kind of thought-diary, rather than whatever it is I’ve been using it for recently, (and some of the thoughts I will be committing to word on the blog will be about what I’ve been trying to do.)

I hate to admit it—and I’ve been fighting against admitting it for a long time—but I am interested in the problem of sense and chaos. I thought I was interested in the problem of embodying chaos without dying early, and perhaps I was, but as I now no longer need to worry about dying early, as having reached an age where whenever I do die it can’t be considered early; but equally true, I can’t be said to be much concerned with the question of “living the good life” as that also, has with the passage of time been transformed into a moot.

I have troubles—it’s a temptation for me—to treat writing “philosophy” as a problem of performance, of a problem of achieving a level of quality in performance. The problem—of philosophy—the sum total of all “philosophy”--- would then be to achieve the level of performance which would admit me (or my “thought” ha ha ha) into an already-established in-group of “philosophers” (though most don’t call themselves philosophers, maybe even refuse the title “academic”, but want some title, and surely entitlement, and professor is suitably grand,) what amounts to Kabuki theater, with entire assemblage, of actor, director, stage crew, and audience belonging to a mutual admiration society. If I had any academic background at all, surely I would long ago have succumbed, been submerged. If I had the chops, would have been welcomed, been made “happy.” (The Good Life understood as achieving membership in one or another of life’s selective clubs.)

I have no such background (nor such chops) so there’s been no sliding into that particular pool of shit. To that extent of sense (or chaos) I am happy for my ignorance(but it is not a great extent, as it is uncomfortable), blissful in it, for if ever there were a process for a deactivation of philosophical ethos, that’s it.