Conjunction V

Posted on January 19, 2010 in didi-hubermann

We are always constrained by some sort of social apparatus (or prison if you are such a mindset), even to the point of the language we use, one of our most primal relationships to each other and the world (and hence recalling the famous phrase, the prisonhouse of language or the fly in the fly bottle, from another tradition.)


We have intimations, even from the sometimes apparently impregnable view of ‘knowledge; something which has been called ‘non-knowledge’, that peculiar relationship of blindness and insight,each apparently relying on each other.

In a most interesting book by George Didi-Hubermann called Confronting Images he refers to ‘spontaneous philosophy’, that is, when we view an image it immediately sorts our orientation of the world without any effort on our part. A certain amount of work is then needed to find openings and gaps in the image. IF we do live in a local region of many, for lack of a better term, parallel universes we must find a way to a non-knowledge (which immediately becomes a knowledge) which has power in its powerlessness (a Blanchotian/Levinasian/Batailleian position). Did-Hubermann glosses the location of this spontaneous ordering:

“Where is its motor, where does it lead, on what is it based? It is based on words, only words, whose specific usuage consists of closing gaps, eliding contradictions, resolving, without a moment’s hesitation, every aporia proposed by the world of images to the world of knowledge. So the sopontaneous, instrumental, and uncritical use of certain philosophical notions leads the history of art to fashion for itself not potions of love or oblivion but magic words lacking conceptual rigor; they are nevertheless efficacious at resolving everything, which is to say at dissolving or suppressing a universe of questions the better to advance, optimistic to the point of tyranny, a battalion of answers.”
Georges Didi-Hubermann, Confronting Images

Here is to the grinding of one bit of knowledge against the other, creating, if nothing else,
here below a bit of phosphorescent dust as a result of the grating:

“It would be unfortunate [….] to confuse the materiality of the signifier with the materiality of what it signifies. This may seem obvious enough on the level of sight and sound, but it is less so with regard to the more general phenomenology of place, time or especially of the self; no one in his right mind will try to grow grapes by the luminosity of the word ‘day,’ but it is very difficult not to conceive of the pattern of one’s past and future existence as in accordance with temporal and partial schemes that belong to fictional narratives and not to the world. This does not mean that fictional narratives are not part of the world and of reality; their impact upon the world may well be all too strong for comfort. What we call ideology is precisely the confusion of linguistic with natural reality, of reference with phenomenalism. It follows that, more than any other mode of inquiry, including economics, the linguistics of literariness is a powerful and indispensable tool in the unmasking of ideological aberrations, as well as a determining factor in the accounting for their occurence. Those who reproach literary theory for being oblivious to social and historical (that is to say, ideological) reality are merely stating their fear at having their own ideological mystifications exposed by the tool they are trying to discredit.”
Paul de Man, The Resistance to Theory

“Why the fairies took infants and children was also subject to considerable discussion. Not all agreed with the most popular theory that it was to improve the elfin breed, though many noted that female fays appeared to have difficulty bearing children. Some, including Hugh Miller, Lady Wilde, and many collectors of Scottish lore reported that folk belief that human infants were used as substitutes for fairy offspring in the elfin annual or septuannual sacrifice or tithe to the devil. Another motive for abducting children, especially boys, in Scotland, was said to be the belief that a champion of mortal strength but fairy indoctrination would one day emerge to lead the forces of Elfland against human beings. Yeats, Lady Gregory and others argued that fairies needed mortals for their physical strength. As one of Yeat’s informants told him, the sidhe were shadows and spirits who could not move objects. ‘But they have power over mankind, and they can bring them away to do their work.’ Some even argued that, since the salvation of fairies was questionable, they needed mortals to be with them at the Day of Judgment. Canon J. A, MacCulloch indicates how frequently this case was made in stating that fairies stole human beings ‘to share in the spiritual benefits of the religions from which ….[they] are supposedly excluded.'”
Carole G. Silver, Strange and Secret Peoples: Fairies and Victorian Consciousness

“It was with the introduction of the theory of evolution that fantasy was free to grant invention or other sudden changes and chances the power to switch channels on evolutionary progress and fast-forward plant-life or machines to the top of development. As soon as Darwin’s theory was out, his fans were hit by fantasies of parallel fast lanes of development that relocated the missing link to interpecial relations between humans and machines (see Samuel Butler’s Erewhon). Evolution provided the context for imagining that thought can or must go on beyond the body, and that means beyond the retro, repro bonds between the sexes. Humans are still the genitals of the machine that is evolving for us. The higher machines, which ‘will owe their existence to a large number of parents and not to two only’ (Butler, 212), will be reproduced in the group metabolization or psychology of tensions between replication sex and the production of one or three by two at a time.”

“As genealogy of media, mediations, and means of human being, evolution comes on strong with constitutive interruptions, gaps, so-called missing links. This throws a precision fit with every way the breakdown of mourning always admits, via the narcissistic and psychotic conditions of conditionings of a melancholic attention span, the frontal shot of direct connection with our technologization.”

“The link with the missing–the haunted relation–is what keeps selection (not unlike substitution) going, going, goner. The link Benjamin misses in his reading of our current techno-evoution can go by the name ‘aura,’ the ghost inside techno-selection, inside the either-aura. After Benjamin, Andy Warhol and Shirley MacLaine fine-tuned ‘aura’ for the selection stardom of channels. But Benjamin might as well have borrowed his aura, the notion of a retrenchment of the missed link with presence that flickers even in certain media-technological products over time, from the trenches of World War I. Down there aura designated the zoning-out phase of acceptance of whatever psychosomatic convulsions and techno-metabolizations of trauma were coming soon.”
Laurence Rickels, Nazi Psychoanaysis, V.3: Psy Fi