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, 2006Note 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.