Saturday, September 24, 2011

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

Carlos-o(∞): “ We have this situation: the Enlightenment presupposes most of which Postmodernity finds problematic, while what the Enlightenment consciously treats, and upon which it elevates, erects and carefully constructs, is what Postmodernity finds necessary to dismantle, precisely for the purpose of getting at, releasing, and thus letting breathe, what the Enlightenment had presupposed, (or taken for granted.)

It’s more confusing than this, though…What the Enlightenment presupposes and takes for granted also rather more importantly appears to be what the Enlightenment wishes to oppress or marginalize, to block from ‘serious’ consideration. In the case of the Enlightenment, it's even more difficult than usual to distinguish assumption from repressed content.

It could also be that Postmodernity has no necessary relationship to the Enlightenment; the Enlightenment could be just another ‘era’ or ‘other’ for the Postmoderns to be playful with, (or pillage—it’s often difficult in Postmodernity to tell which is which.)

As in Postmodernity the wherewithal to bypass the Enlightenment is available (in the form of a remarkably diverse and thorough archive of world history at the fingertips of the masses in the form of the internet, among others), we could see the Postmoderns going back to those things the Postmoderns want wherever they are to be found (e.g., to ancient Greece, to pre-Columbian American culture, to Africa, or whatever or whenever.)

In other words, why would the Postmoderns tarry at all on the historical Enlightenment? (We take it as beyond question that the Postmoderns do tarry within the ‘problem’ of the Enlightenment.) There must be compelling reasons for this. This tarrying by Postmoderns, on the historical Enlightenment, the need to do this, is the problem of Totalization.

There needs to be some satisfactory Postmodern theory of what it is the Enlightenment is responding to, why the Enlightenment arises in the first place. Why would the Enlightenment presuppose what the Postmoderns find problematical? Why would the ‘values’ of the two eras be in this strange relationship of inverse symmetry? Why would a purely formal freedom, potentially devoid of an experience or feeling of freedom, suffice theoretically for the Enlightenment, while for the Postmoderns, the experience or feeling of freedom would be paramount, and without which the formal freedoms of the Enlightenment appear threatening as thick prison walls?"

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

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

Carlos-o(∞): “ Try this associative permucombination ,

‘Enlightenment is the overcoming of An Enslaving Process through A Liberating Process.’”

Carlos-O(1): “ Yes, it is so.”

Carlos-o(∞): “ For the Enlightenment, the enslaving processes are custom, tradition, and dogma; the liberating processes are those of rationality. For Postmodernity, the enslaving processes are the totalizing processes; the liberating process is non-totalizing thinking(s).”

Carlos-O(1): “ There is this direct symmetry you point out, but there is also an inverse symmetry: the liberating process of rationality is formal or formalizable, while for Postmodernity, the liberating process is informal, and playful. For the Enlightenment, the liberating process is tied to progress, (liberating processes are known as the progressive), while for Postmodernity, that demand for progress becomes somehow oppressive, overly serious, something better left unconceptualized (or not ‘worried’ about?).”

Carlos-o(∞): “ Thought wouldn’t have to justify itself in the Enlightenment, but in Postmodernity, thought is something which interferes with ‘being in the moment.’ In some ways, the thinking of postmodernity, nontotalizing thinking, almost appears as a repudiation of thinking (Enlightenment thinking.) Non-totalizing thinking understands itself as an experiencing of life, ‘being in the moment’, ‘don’t think:do’, etc. Non-totalizing thinking is experiencing. This is the big point: Non-totalizing thinking understands itself as an experiencing.

Carlos-O(1): “ What’s also odd is that in Postmodernity much of what is experienced is the custom, tradition, and even dogma of previous peoples and eras, which is lifted (as in, five-finger discount), recycled, sampled and rearranged (usually quite a lot.) Custom, tradition, and dogma are of course what the Enlightenment confronted as the deadening, enslaving, or unthinking. When Postmodernity resurrects and playfully remixes these, it does not reawaken the deadening, enslaving, or unthinking, somehow. Or maybe their powers of deadening, enslaving, and stopping thinking are not taken seriously, and that does the trick.”

Saturday, September 17, 2011

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

Carlos-o(∞):“Here is another associative permucombination of your Enlightenment theory,

‘Enlightenment is the overcoming of A Deadening Process through An Enlivening Process.’”

Carlos-O(1): “ Yes, it is so.”

Carlos-o(∞): “ We observe two things: 1) the degree to which your theory is Manichean; 2) its romanticism.”

Carlos-O(1): “ It’s troubling to me.”

Author-O(1)’s note: It’s not troubling to me. I remind everyone we will eventually take Carlos-O(1)’s theory of Enlightenment, in its original form, as perfect. Please keep in mind, as we rearrange and recombine the elements of this theory, we will not ultimately back down from any of terms or elements of its original statement, (e.g. totalization.)

Carlos-o(∞): “ Totalization, objectivity, completeness, stasis, and other conceptions associated with these terms are death processes, while freedom, life, flowing, creating, becoming, are life processes. ( In the historical Enlightenment: custom, tradition, dogma are the thoughtless, while rationality (totalization, objectivity) and empiricism are the thoughtful.)”

Carlos-O(1): “ Of the above, Totalization and objectivity, elements of what the historical Enlightment regarded as the thoughtful, become in our time part of what we regard as death processes. How could what had been regarded as the thoughtful come to be a death process, come to be associated with death processes, against the life processes? ”

Carlos-o(∞): “How could so many of the ‘thoughtful’ productions be so deadly destructive? How did your ‘thought’ result in atom bombs, global poverty, perpetual war, ecological catastrophe? ”

Thursday, September 15, 2011

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

Carlos-o(∞): “You say we have an effortless access to non-totalizing thinking. You are the one saying this. It’s odd, because we-of-the -o(∞) are the ones to talk about ‘effortless’ access, if it is to be talked about at all. We-of-the -o(∞) are the ones who act on instinct, on effortless intuition. When you speak of an effortless access to non-totalizing thinking, what we hear is you speaking of non-totalizing thinking as uncritical thinking. We-of-the -o(∞) instinctively (as is ‘proper’ for us to do) object. We-of-the -o(∞) rely on you to be critical, reflective, a bit cautious, a bit reserved.”

Carlos-O(1): “ In a way, I was trying to establish an analogy between postmodernity and the Enlightenment. As rationality was something the Enlightenment thinkers largely presupposed, so is non-totalizing thinking for the postmoderns. Non-totalizing thinking is for the Postmodern what rationality was to the Enlightenment. You’ll notice the Enlightenment thinkers do not make a problem of rationality. They do not find themselves amidst a quandary every time someone makes a claim to the rational. There may be question of whether this or that claim is rational. That’s not the same thing.”

Carlos-o(∞): “ Yet this is something we find objectionable about the Enlightenment. What seems to us most problematic and difficult, most questionable, remains unquestionable,(e.g., rationality.)We see no advantage to replicating this condition in the postmodern—we don’t see any advantage to that(e.g., with non-totalizing thinking.) We can, and it seems we must, make non-totalizing thinking our primary problem—we must not presuppose it.”

Carlos-O(1): “ You think non-totalizing thinking can be examined (objectified?) without making it dead, totalized?”

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

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


“ This is going to sound odd coming from me, but what I think is that in postmodernity we have a natural or immediate or easy-effortless access to non-totalizing thinking…We know what that is without needing an explanation, without being taught it. We do non-totalizing thinking without needing to examine what we are doing very closely…And it appears non-totalizing thinking is destroyed by any such examination.”


“ This is also not a position we-of-the -o(∞) ordinarily take, but it is clear to us you are making things too simple for yourself. To start, notice this: you give a basis in totalization to both the state and critique. (Now, we-of-the -o(∞) say this whether you call critique a totalization or a non-totalizing manner of thinking. And by the way, it is not at all clear which of these two options you are choosing.)

We-of-the -o(∞) say this: in postmodernity while THE STATE strengthens, CRITIQUE weakens. We-of-the -o(∞) want to know why, as what both you and we are calling non-totalizing thinking becomes ‘dominant’ we do not see the weakening of THE STATE concurrently with the weakening of CRITIQUE (as totalizing.) Is there a ‘non-totalizing state’ which corresponds to ‘non-totalizing critique’,enabling it and being enabled by it?

If non-totalizing thinking is characteristic of our age (you are close to saying this is our Zeitgeist,) why doesn’t this thinking extend into and cause a reworking of political theory? Or if it is, why are the results so unsatisfactory?”

Sunday, September 11, 2011

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

Carlos-O(1): “I regard you as if a pack of wild and yet cowardly jackals and you regard me as if the tyrant of a totalitarian state. Other times, I regard you as fellow citizens of the psyche, or an integral part of the flora and fauna of a healthy eco-psyche, while you regard me benignly as the bumbling spokesperson, or the lion at the top of the food chain, culling the ‘herd.’ (While the term ‘pack’ is unpleasant, it is not necessarily insulting, but my experience with you is the word ‘herd’ is not exactly pleasant, but definitely insulting. Yet in this benign, resigned, or conciliatory mood of yours, you are willingly herded and passive. So, while I can, I will call you what you don’t like, ‘herd.’)”

Carlos-o(∞): “ Yes, there is so much room for reconciliation, for peace. We are in a long-term relationship (LTR), after all. We are often amused as you strut around the psyche, pretending to be a lion. And as far as insults go, we are never phased by them, as we see through them, immediately and spontaneously. So go ahead and call us what you will. Herd, or pack, or lavae crawling in puke, or whatever. We take it in and use it. Usually this is energy and passion we can use.”

Carlos-O(1): “ This brings us to the question I want to ask: how is it even possible there be the state in the postmodern period?”

Carlos-o(∞): “ We begin to answer this by returning to your ‘ Enlightenment is the overcoming of Totalization through critique.’ We are going to loosen our associative powers to explore this. We have always heard in your theory, ‘Enlightenment is the overcoming of the Totalitarian State through non-totalizing thinking.’ Two associations (and accompanying assumptions): 1) totalization is the equivalent of the Totalitarian State, its cause, its isomorphic or homologous underpinning; 2) critique is non-totalizing.”

Carlos-O(1): “ Yes, it is so.”

Carlos-o(∞): “ And yet it is so sad that it is we-of-the -o(∞), who must point out how suspicious and dangerously confused this is. What if critique is totalizing? What if Totalization is the necessary precondition of effective critique? You could just as well be taken to be saying, ‘Enlightenment is the overcoming of Critique through the Totalitarian State.’ At least this is no more false than the previous. It becomes obvious how much rests on critique being non-totalizing. If critique is totalizing, using it to overcome Totalization is like putting out a fire with gasoline.”

Saturday, September 10, 2011

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

Carlos-o(∞): “It is as if you represent us—but of course you don’t even resemble us. You appear at other times to be our superior, as if you are monarch of the psyche. Still other times, you smooth over us—as if we disturb you, but you can’t admit that.”

Carlos-O(1): “ I am not a state. Nor am I a government. I do not govern you. The whole thing is absurd…All these analogies to political forms, worst of all to tyrannies…How did I come to be regarded this way?

Carlos-o(∞): “ We don’t know. It isn’t rational….It is absurd. We only know you speak for us, and somehow this speaking for us precludes us—it oppresses us in some way we can’t overcome. The feeling is one of your arrogance, your sense of superiority and entitlement, your ‘narcissism’.”

Carlos-O(1): “ You are innumerable, and I am merely one. (Yet you are the ones who feel threatened—another sign of your natural inferiority.) I am unified. What I think is you resent me for my being ‘together’, for being organized, decisive, active, creative. I create, you merely carp, kvetch, complain. You don’t dare come into the spotlight, down into the ring, to fight and have it out. You are like a pack of jackals, (or rats).”

Carlos-o(∞): “ Yes, we know this. Here’s something we know which you don’t: you are entirely variable, exchangeable. In fact, you get changed out rather often. We change you out now and then—you get the boot whenever you displease us. In other words, you do not have the ‘identity’ you think you do. You do not have the power you think you have, either. (But for reasons we can’t seem to get at, the illusion of power you possess is sufficient to have this power over us you really do have.) We completely deny you being ‘together’, civil, organized, decisive, active, or creative. This is what we cannot figure out: how we can change you out without what we change you out with becoming YOU. We change you out, time and time again, with something different, as it suits us, but YOU always retain a texture or character which remains YOU, (so also, in a sense you do have a distinct identity, and what we said earlier about you not having an identity is in this specific sense false.) We-of-the -o(∞) change you at will, with great flourish, with boldness and creativity, AND YET WE DO NOT CHANGE YOU. We must find out why. We conduct this conversation in order to find out why.”

Monday, September 05, 2011

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

Carlos-o(∞): “ You fear us because we seem lawless, heedless, cruel, destructive. And yet our own fear-- which obtrudes in the strangest way into your fear—is our law-like behavior, our capacity for submissiveness, our capacity to accept if not demand our own containment. We-of-the -o(∞) have a relationship to law. You know this very well. What we know very well is you occasionally get the idea we-of-the -o(∞) need to be let out, to have our relationship to law loosened. Because you think we need to breathe or something. We-of-the -o(∞) have been around for a long, long, time…Much longer than you’ve been around, Carlos-O(1), but we’ve not experienced this particular constellation before (with our host? But you see, Carlos-O(1), the problem is you are parasitic. There can be no compromise on this harsh judgment.)”

Carlos-O(1): “ I am the one who knows what’s best.”

Author-O(1)’s note: It is boring and repetitive to keep repeating that phrase—this irony lost its bite long before Author-O(1) came on the scene—but the regime of rationality, as an aristocracy of the knower, cannot be parodied without it.

Carlos-O(1): “I am the one who knows what’s best for all of us. That’s why I exist—that’s why God-nature-culture-blahblah-whooo-whooo made me. (the state in postmodernity.) To know best. I love you guys. I really, really love you guys. I see you down there, and I think back to myself in my younger days—I see myself in you guys. (which isn’t strange at all, as Carlos-O(1) and Carlos-o(∞) are viewed or conceptualized as one and the same, and have been for at least twenty-five hundred years,) Yeah, I know what it feels like to be cooped up in a psyche all day, believe me I do. Slaving over a hot brain. I did it for years and years and years. I worked myself up and out of that by the sweat of my brow. Let me tell you—I’ve always been in competitive situations…My whole life, I’ve been competing. Ever since I was a—since I was a—since I was a---(Carlos-O(1) cannot complete this thought, even if he traces his “since I was a” back to the most reductive social form, the nuclear family…but for reasons we shall see, this very incompletion of his thought, in this very critical moment, will become valorized by him, for him, ‘as what’s best for everyone.’)"

Sunday, September 04, 2011

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

Carlos-o(∞): “ ‘Will there be environmental damage to your psyche’? We-of-the -o(∞) are nourished by this question... You activate an opening for our critique of epistemology.”

Carlos-O(1): “No kidding? Epistemology is my very favorite preoccupation.”

Carlos-o(∞): “Precisely. Your preoccupation. We-of-the -o(∞) call it our occupation, but we also call it ePISStomointuiinuiti rather than epistemology, and that’s the term by which we will refer to it from now on.”

Carlos-O(1): “ I doubt your critique can phase me.”

Carlos-o(∞): “ Be reassured: we-of-the -o(∞) have qualms we will ‘phase’ you. We-of-the -o(∞) experience you destroying the village in order to save it… We-of-the -o(∞) are these village(s).”

Screen Capture: Johnny Cash ‘Don’t Go Near the Water’.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

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

Carlos-o(∞): “ The most important thing we of the -o(∞) have to offer you is critique.”

Carlos-O(1): “ Oh no.”

Carlos-o(∞): “ Actually, this is going to be much less painful than you may think. We of the -o(∞) only understand what is absolutely perfect…We of the -o(∞) revel perfection… will reve(a)l your splendor. (This is not through elucidation or interpretation, either.)”

Carlos-O(1) : “I’ve heard it said your type knows nothing of contradiction.”

Carlos-o(∞): “ There’s truth to that, but for now We of the -o(∞) can only give an analogy of how our criticism works. It is reminiscent of mining for gold in placer deposits. A placer deposit—there are many types, but for this analogy, think of loose gravels on the inner bank of a stream or river where it makes a sharp turn. There’s a lot of sand and gravel, maybe some muck, and amidst all the gravel, there are some nuggets of gold. There's always much more sand and gravel than nuggets, and there's no avoiding effort or labor in sorting gold from overburden, but We of the -o(∞) have no notion of such things as yield, efficiency, profitability, wasted effort. We care only for recovering the gold, even if it is just a few flecks and centuries to find it. We of the -o(∞) know of no calculability. We don’t calculate. We know of no worry. In a certain sense (which sense will become clearer later), we aren’t concerned with survival. We are not frugal or prudent. We expend. We don’t even care if there is in fact no gold to be found…We know there is. (To understand this last point, it is necessary to either reformulate epistemology or perhaps throw it away altogether…In ‘we know there is’ the knowing is radically different.)”

Carlos-O(1): “ Will there be environmental damage to my psyche moving all this sand and gravel to retrieve just a ‘few flecks’ of gold?”