| Hut Journal
"Something eludes cognition, but makes itself felt (if obscurely) as that which is never `itself,' that which is only `suggested'. [....] It is writing that cannot end itself and is continually outside itself like a thing among things. An enormity without proportion, it is the very scratching sound we hear, from somewhere, when we write these things."
Thomas Carl Wall
"Art mistakes the shadow for the prey."
How to cope with the pressure of vacuum? With a nothingness that, ever so delicately but nevertheless relentlessly, presses / sucks on one.
Having coffee in town, reading on a late winter overcast afternoon, I took a break from my book to read the New York Times. On the obit page was the article `Sarah Kane, 28, Bleak, Explosive Playwright.' Evidently of some notoriety in England, she wrote three plays: `Blasted', `Cleansed', and `Crave'. `Blasted' was described by critics as "a disgusting feast of filth" in which "love and violence" are intertwined. `Blasted' apparently depicted a rampaging soldier raping another man and then gouging out his eyes, eating his tongue and forcing him to cannibalize a dead baby. Scenes in `Cleansed' included the injection of heroin into an eyeball, a savage amputation and a rape with a broom handle.
The obit quotes her as saying (she was being treated for depression in the hospital and was found hanged in her room):
"Many people feel depression is about emptiness, but actually it's about being so full that everything cancels itself out. You can't have faith without doubt and what are you left with when you can't have love without hate?"
She was apparently already well known but this suicide will cement her place in a certain pantheon, the life and work coinciding in some terrible abject morass--in other words, the perfect media `[pr]object'. Although perhaps we no longer think that such an act confers `authenticity' we are left pondering exactly what it DOES mean then...if anything. And if it means nothing then we begin to approach a different abyss, no less terrible in the apparent consolation that might give us.
Perhaps there are no lessons to be drawn from this. But my brief bit of `leisure' reading interspersed with my `serious' reading was interesting because this is what I was reading when I interrupted myself: "For art, like an idol, [....] an artwork is `stupid'. [....] Art is a character of life, not another, better, life. The artwork cannot assume or take on life. It overflows life on all sides like water without a container. Unable to attain the present moment, the artwork spills all the aspirations the artist built into it. Art can only empty itself of all the artist's efforts"...and then "insecurity of a being that has a presentiment of its fate is the great obsession of the artist's world" and then earlier "...Art is then something horrible, something inhuman and monstrous' (Levinas) because it is powerless, because it cannot go beyond, because it cannot even end."
As Robert Graves once said of poetry, it's not a profession, it's a condition.
If that's the case, how can one `take a lesson' from someone who has a `condition', who comes to her or his world view because that's just the view from behind their eyes? (Perhaps there is some analogy to queer studies: of what utility would it be for a gay person to say: `don't be like me."? as if a decision was made or could be made to become -- or not become -- what one is, one single decision where one had control of one's life--or even, more improbably still, a series of decisions where one had control. I AM my life, I don't take on the mantle of one who ASSUMES a life, even if a culture of consumerist choice-making between thirty kinds of cereals says that one can chose one's life, one's psyche, can alter one's wake through life, both as a past and an (and this would make it necessarily preordained) object-choice in the future.)
The temptation I suppose would be to lapse this into some argument between `nature' and `nurture' which, in its attempt to pass judgment and draw a line, would only serve as a pass at stabilizing a system which can't be stabilized -- except by death. Both of which I guess is what Kane was seeking.
"Ethical obligation would be, for Levinas, uncontainable, and inexorably betrayed by morals and laws. It would be in fact, instability itself: the instability of the naked relation to the Other."
(quotes from the book Radical Passivity: Levinas, Blanchot, and Agamben)
It's no place to live. And yet we have no choice in the matter. No wonder she felt too full, to the point of bursting. The inevitable result when prey and shadow coincide. It's a wonder, really, that there's any of us left.
I'm again amazed at the debris on, in, around the creek -- and for some reason it's specificity seems important to me. Herewith a
beige plastic grocery bags, yellow spray can, clear quart beverage containers labels washed off, green Becks' beer bottles, black garbage bag, plastic coke bottles, Mountain Dew, Sunkist; portions of Styrofoam cups; portions of green and red five gallon containers; Styrofoam packing material; purple kick ball, corroded tennis ball, orange croquette ball; student back pack; tire, F70-14; blue mop handle; hexagonal deli container, clear top hinged to black bottom, held buffalo wings from ingredient list on the faded label, it's America's Choice (all too true); rusted Miss Beck spray can, large sheets of cardboard from collapsed packing box; Budweiser can, Keystone beer can, brown beer bottles with label washed off; white plastic engine-oil container; large slab of 4' foam, deteriorating, turning black on top, breaking up into smaller chunks; a 4x4 treated post about 6' long with rusted hinge; blue aluminum deli containers; Black Velvet Canadian whiskey pint bottle; and last but not least, freshly dumped on the side of the road in front of the `No Dumping ` sign: a large 44 oz. hard plastic Racetrack cup with top still on, straw inserted, misc. napkins, another large plain white Styrofoam cup, a box of gnawed-on chicken bones. Just like somebody gave the finger to the sign. Though frankly I doubt they were even thinking THAT much.
The problem is that now I see debris and trash everywhere. Road sides, sidewalks, the innumerable `lost areas' that form the interstitial `dark matter' that hold this built-up machined universe together, all appear to be saturated with effluvia, like someone had flushed a massive toilet (hmm, I remember now that Philip K. Dick had a similar idea: he called it `kipple')...
And the crap, this `kipple' converts everything into crap, even NON-crap begins to seem like crap, the spread of some infecting substance. ... could be a slippery slope here...
I saw a program on TV recently about wild elephants. It seems that one of the large nature reserves had seen a spate of rhinoceros killings in the past several years. It turns out that humans poaching the adult elephants had left a number of young `teenage' elephants who were left without `mentors'. The program asserted that elephants are very intelligent and social animals and have a distinct social structure guided by the adults. With many of the adults killed off, the young elephants became rogue bullies, exhibiting behavior previously unknown in elephants. The young elephants formed `gangs' basically and became aggressive to everything in their area, including other elephants, humans, and rhinoceroses. Within the period of time under study, they found the remains of twenty two rhinoceroses killed by the rogue packs. Under normal circumstances, the two remain in peaceable co-existence. No morals were drawn in the story and I leave anyone to draw their own. Except to think: what happens when they grow up? what happens when you have a whole society of rogue elephants?
coincidences (and `synchronicity') are strange things. One never knows quite how to take them. Are they the result of `pre-loaded' perceptions, so that we make sense of a pattern because we are somehow sensitized to them? And having said that, does that in any way dispel them or lessen their impact? One could even make the point that it INCREASES their importance since it may show the furthest limits of the perceptual capabilities of the human organism, the points at which linear processing give way to a fuzzy, non-linear pattern recognition/creation.
At any rate, the day after writing the above about elephants, I happened to be watching a new nature special on...elephants, which was fascinating in itself, especially after having been sensitized to them with the bit of writing I did. (One interesting new fact: it appears that elephants really DON'T ever forget; examinations of their brain lend credence to the idea that they have prodigious memories, that section of their brain being much larger than humans; the program was also making the point that they SEEM to be aware of death and the temporal collapse/memory shutdown that would entail.)
At any rate, after the program was over I randomly switched to another education channel---wherein there was a new special on school killings by teenagers starting in about 1996 and reaching an `epidemic' in 1998...and profiles of their terribly disordered family structures....or should that be 'terribly ordered'??
And how mysterious is memory! Sometimes it seems as if the only difference between a `memory' and a `now' is just a thin glaze, oiled paper with one side becoming the other -- the memory body seems to have the very same sensations, except that they are at some temporal remove (and what is that??!) and are cuddled in some cul-de-sac in the brain. But sometimes I feel as if I could slip easily from one to the other, through the pen, the ink, the paper, slipping to another space/time, another page, just `away', back, back,---it sometimes seems in retrospect that I've done everything wrong -- but so wrong that it turns miraculously into its opposite or ...into a paralysis that alternates with a fascination that oscillates wildly into a dispossession that resembles both intense suffering and ecstasy. At the darkest moments, I can't decide which is which; dragged against my will by and to a vertigo that I find impossible to calculate or circumvent. All I can do is taste the Madeleine -- and attempt to spit it our. Always fruitlessly . . .
We can only pity the elephant if they ever develop a quantum society.
In order to get rocks from the creek, I've had to make my way into the creek via the woods to the right of where a car would usually park (and where the trestle and graffiti is located). In making my way with heavy loads of rock -- maybe twenty yards to the creek, then down a fairly steep 5 foot embankment -- a trail is starting to form, a distinct pathway where there wasn't one before. I remember reading years ago of the concept of the `chreode' in ecological studies. This is what happens when energy, in expending itself repeatedly, moves to lower energy levels. (For example, when water runs off of a surface repeatedly over a number of years, it will form paths, leaving gullies that then act to `formalize' the waters movements.)
As I recall, the ecologist was trying to make a generalizable point about the processes of life, that life and genetics were basically bundles of chreodes, which is what he called this path-making. If it is a physical process, then it is necessarily involved in the 2nd law of thermodynamics and in being so involved, structures formed, simply out of the movement of energies, structures form in the very dissipation of energy (energy seeking a lower basin of energy, heat loss, entropy). There is nothing `willful' about these structures, they simply come into being when energy appears and dissipates. (`Will' itself can then be thought of as a chreode--to do otherwise is to assume that our `will' comes unbrokered from a transcendental source --`personalities' and `selves' are formed from the organism expelling energy, finding resistances, availabilities, areas for development.)
Just as my heavy-duty, persistent, even obsessive, rock gathering has created a path, I can see how in other areas of life paths are formed -- and are hard to move out of once they ARE formed.
Persistent energy expenditure creates structures--material, biological, cultural, political--and it happens continuously whether we want it to or not and whether we direct it or not.
And one of the most powerful--and mysterious--of human energy expenditures is language.
But what happens if the culture moves into a quantum / communicative environment (which we have already begun), with `chreodes' becoming so numerous, overlapping, indeterminate, ephemeral, more like a `communication' than a `path pressed in matter' (and what's the difference??). ?
Perhaps the nature of subjectivity itself shifts.
Perhaps we would no longer know whether we are suffering or ecstatic...
Perhaps it wouldn't matter....
This came to me via email and shows, I think, the contradictory sort of space that a hut occupies, a compression far different from an ordinary `dwelling.' In this story the hut becomes pure communicativity--not so pure for the reader of this journal perhaps.
"The only survivor of a shipwreck washed up on a
small, uninhabited island. He prayed feverishly for
God to rescue him, and every day he scanned the
horizon for help, but none seemed forthcoming.
Exhausted, he eventually managed to build a little
hut out of driftwood to protect him from the elements,
and to store his few possessions.
But then one day, after scavenging for food, he arrived
home to find his little hut in flames, the smoke rolling
up to the sky. The worst had happened; everything was
lost. He was stung with grief and anger. "God, how
could you do this to me!" he cried.
Early the next day, however, he was awakened by the
sound of a ship that was approaching the island.
It had come to rescue him. "How did you know
I was here?" asked the weary man of his rescuers.
"We saw your smoke signal," they replied. "
Some people mistake that story as warrant for setting their own hut on fire themselves.
As the weather has warmed, I've been sleeping in the hut, trying to escape from the occasional tomb-like claustrophobia of the basement....and also to escape from my TV addiction. The further I've gotten from `ordinary' society, the more cloying television has gotten. And yet...at the same time it gives some semblance of sociality and a life-world -- never mind the fact that it is a hollowed-out asteroid, circling in the void. Or as one wag put it, TV is "the context of no context." Nevertheless, like the moments spent preparing for a smoke, the lighting of the cigarette, and then the 5 or 6 minutes involved with it, it gives a respite from the linearity of tasks. Well, not really, but that's what it feels like. The reality of it is I suspect a propulsive SHOVE to that linearity and predicatableness.
So there is sometimes the troubling itch of de-tox associated with the hut and its disconnect from world events. The first dream I had in the hut (or fragment anyway) was having to pass some initiation by jumping off a hundred foot building into a pool of water. My feet still tingle when I think about it.
It's not necessary to live in a hut to have a hut mentality. I sometimes think that the human species, in regard to some of the more base aspects of human life, has nothing BUT a hut mentality: feral eyes looking forlornly out into the darkening gloom beyond the mouth of the cave, listening for the snap of a twig. Sometimes it seems that all tech is but the listening for that snap and preparing for the consequences. And every night we all go back into that cave, past the cave even. No wonder we wake up each morning with sand in our shoes, from the nightly tide: we can't even get off the beach. The old hope of scientists of all stripes was that science and technology would eradicate this nightly drowned world. And certainly the machine gave some promise of `light-bringing'. Now I think we `see' a little better that it is the species of light called `Luciferian' and that in fact the machine arises from this dark world and brings its own opacities and how could it be otherwise since we are the dark medium out of which it grows. If our Siamese twin ever separates from us, why would we think it more glorious? It would no doubt still bear the scars of the separation. As would the very development of tools to efface those scars. A `forgetting' made to happen--merely replicates the `making', which is a cicatrix also,...
well, at least since T.S. Eliot that's been a modernist trope, and then of course through Adorno and the scooping out of subjectivity by capital flow and intensities. perhaps too what Heidegger was referring to with `stelle offene' and Benjamin's disappearance of experience and its replacement by `experience'. Always the possibility of the gap opening inside oneself and becoming a husk or rind. in my thinking of Spinoza I've been reading `the new Spinoza' and in the essay `the empty synagogue' by Albiac and in a discussion of good and evil and influence on Spinoza of kabbalist writers, this: "The reign of husks and shells (the literal meaning of qelippah) traditionally used by kabbalists to designate the universe of `evil and the demonic powers' ".... From a kabbistic point of view this negativity/evil is necessary, "a wrenching that, setting out from the essential latent negativity of the divine, provokes the scattering whose splinters are the world. This world of disorder and multiplicity -- sometimes compared with that of the various colors issued from the composition of white light -- `had to fall from the high summit to the depth of the pit so as to be smashed and dashed to pieces, like the wheat which is separated into flour and bran by grinding. Moreover by their fall the unclean forces are separated from holiness. (G. Scholem)"
It's always too tempting to fall into the apocalyptic these days. But the movements of smashing, emptying, filling, and refilling seem to be omnipresent....perhaps it IS possible to leverage oneself into a seat where these processes can be observed--without getting shattered in the process?
Perhaps the challenge is not in LOSING a self but is in having or developing one in the first place--and a self is a construction of material, concrete concerns as well as more abstract (or virtual--it seems as though `virtual' is coming to stand for `abstract' now even though they are hardly the same thing, the first a technical construction and the latter a more nuanced philosophical item; it could be that the techno-sphere has little use for the abstract whereas the `virtual' employs a faux `embodiment' that, at least potentially has the possibility of carrying/creating its own verifications and validities. and in that sense, using the computer `a little' is like being a little pregnant. The verification, the fact, is the performative truth itself.)
what is often said about recreational hallucinogens even by proponents of the drugs themselves (i.e., it shouldn't be used by children because it messes with their developmental cycles) could also be said for computer use (or net use anyway) itself. However that CAN'T be said for many reasons: economically, because the new infra structure requires a continual influx of talent and consumers and developmentally, on a larger scale, because the new society of virtual embodiment requires the re-calibration which extensive and early use brings.
so what we see is a very different self from one against which the `material' world pushes and it pushes back. It's certainly not one calculated for survivability should all systems collapse.
The problem with empty vessels is that they can be filled with almost anything. One could be messianic here (vis a vis yesterday)--or one could just be crazy. As long as the results are the same, it doesn't really matter--and they do appear to be overlapping planes of consistencies, if not totally congruent. IF there is an indivisible remainder--ah, how interesting THAT would be!
I remember reading a book that asserted we were living in a new `Egyptian" age. By that the author meant (I'll go find the book in a moment after I finish this thought) mostly I think that the postmodern age we were in was one of surfaces and of subject becoming object, the oft quoted trope of pomo. Here is a quote from the book (Enigmas: The Egyptian Moment in Society in Art
by Mario Perniola): "The Egyptian effect and the invitation to turn oneself into a thing among things are very important conceptual reference points for an understanding of the transformations of present day society and the profound demands that animate it. These can be grouped under two main orientations: the first, whose fundamental tonality consists in a deliberate cult of indifference, can be defined as a new apathy; the second, whose fundamental tonality consists in a deliberate cult of possession, can be defined as new paganism. Both of these orientations entail the same experience of turning oneself into a thing, making a complete break with subjectivism, losing oneself, the feeling that one is an intermediary, the passing of something foreign."
I'll have to go back and examine the book more closely since I never finished it, but I've been thinking a lot about this `Egyptian Effect' and I think Perniola is on to SOMETHING but it might not be quite the way he sees it. Inasmuch as I've just embarked on this, it will be somewhat inchoate but -- it's just for myself anyway, right?
(my current reading adventures with R.A. Schwaller de Lubicz is causing some of this re-appraisal of the E.E. --which i think is `real' -- and also some of it coming from my encounter with Spinoza...and of course the root of it is coming from a much more personal encounter, one at the heart of the hut project -- which is not as far afield of the E.E. as may be surmised [ie, the extreme subjective and the extreme objective]; extremes often round back into each other.)
Next switch to an episode of the Jerry Springer show about racism. Of course Springer was staging a confrontation so he could get a good bang, so rather than simply bringing out KKK members, he also found a group of African-Americans who had formed a group around the precepts of an African philosophy which involved the whole Black Athena thing, the Egyptians were black etc. And they were were wearing robes, headdresses, etc. The obvious attempt by Springer as being the good liberal that he is, was to discredit both sides. (This is the ploy generally of television, to create the `context of no context' as one wag has it ; it's partly a structural thing of media in a democratic society and partly a control thing.) At any rate, the afro-centrist were generally made out to be fools even though it seemed obvious to me that they had some interesting points to be made. We are generally living IN the points that the white supremists were making. More on that later. The main point being for now is that occasionally one does get glimpses to two very disparate systems of existence, a glimpse which a technical culture will do its best to `white out' (note: check out `White Mythology,' Derrida)...
The Egyptian Moment definitely has come to the movies. In some (but only some) respects, it's similar to the Dinosaur Effect: both eras, the Late Cretaceous and pre-dynastic Egypt, seem, and are, larger than life, at least life as it is lived now. Both times are at mind-boggling removes of time which---yet seem to be approaching closer and closer; both seem to have been generated and sustained for long stretches by forces that still seem alien and mysterious, especially for an age which is coming to seem the opposite: very very close yet oddly distant, like the `neighbor' in England that we check in with every morning on the internet. Dinosaurs and Ancient Egyptians seem to be, if we can wipe away the patina of banality-by-over saturation that the media bombards everything with, positively unworldly in a fashion that can only be dealt with by denial (as was the case with both by early researchers) or by what is happening now: a subtle turning of it all into some species of Virtual Reality, docu-dramas, representational strategies which exhibit extreme alterities while at the same time converting them into a more useful currency, putting strangeness to work doing the heavy lifting of a culture intent on folding itself into a hyperspace/time warp and then eliding the crease of its historical joint.
And then of course the improbable-seeming descent of dinosaurs-into-birds and Egyptians-into-Greeks-into-Romans-into-us contemporaries...it's a hard bit to swallow unless quite a bit of pre-digestion goes on. And pre-digestion is nothing if not `everyday life' ramped to the max., so that even the strange turns to dust in our hands, revelation bends to TV evangelists hawking their wares. But take heart! Because the movies revive the eldritch, the scream in the night, stampeding dinosaurs and the curse of the mummy.
I saw previews for the new Starwars and the remake of The Mummy recently and it becomes increasingly obvious that we WANT, we NEED a new dynastic age, an age when the world speaks to us through its objects, the sinews of Absolute Substance to become visible to us in a way that the feeble phenomenology of science resists, almost as if through some moral opprobrium on the part of its priest/practitioners...but humans NEED dinosaurs and they NEED ancient Egyptians; we need to be able to think that there is SOMEthing else....
In browsing an architectural journal this afternoon, I came across "Festival City" based on the temple at Carnak and being built in Memphis Tennessee; also was reminded of Luxor the Egyptian themed hotel in Las Vegas. There apparently is no way now over to that other system, all attempts smacking of parody (no matter how `respectful'). A tiny door in Spinoza...
Earlier I had planted seeds in containers inside. Only recently, the closer we get to spring, have they been coming up in profusion. It's amazing to watch and think about the process (...even if I'm somewhat reluctant to engage in hyperbole about it with the fear that it would slot me into a `nature writer' or --horrors!-- even worse, a southern writer. Though I suppose it's too late for those concerns. and besides what does it matter anyway? One somewhat amorphous idea of the cosmopolitan is to be from nowhere--or, the next best thing, if you can't be from nowhere be from wealth.)
The packets of information and energy communicate with the outside -- light, moisture, warmth -- calculating the best time for emergence and then pop! off they go. One is inevitably drawn to computer/software allusions. Human consciousness sometimes seems to me like gum in the works of this elegant working. Most of the time art seems to me like this gum, a kind of `error' that we become fascinated with, poking and prodding until we become completely encased with it, shutting out navigable clues of one sort while creating another (let's say: like a plant that produces so much leaf that it shuts out light from the ones underneath, stunting them, they drop off; the plant as a while is doing fine--and what's an individual leaf in the scheme of things? It's the SUBSTANCE of the plant that counts and the generative trail it produces--i.e. the DNA) -- systems of unfolding and unpacking, the seed the system of immanence par excellence, a most miraculous bellowing forth of greenery, movement, systems for conversion of energy into matter and matter back into `information' (the terms seem so pale, divided into meager parcels when the event itself is so full and imbricated with all other moments, `past' and `future' always there in the event always unbinding at the border at every moment, flesh (if it's not `flesh' what is it? This definition is a decisive moment) compacting itself and `etherically' extending itself, its structure producing its effects which produce its structure, etc., a finite plain punctuated by infinity/possibility, folding in on itself, then unfolding, differently, some species of Klein bottle, closed but infinitely open, a topological delirium...
Sometimes it would seem that a hut mentality is `anti-modern'. Some would take me to mean by that, a `leafiness', perhaps even agrarian, in opposition to `progress' and hence -- aren't the co-terminous? the machine, technology. After all, isn't the most famous hut dweller recently been Ted Kazinsky, the Unibomber? Certainly that whole episode encapsulated many of the short comings of a `hut mentality' of a certain sort but it also outlined vividly the control mechanisms of a hyper-technologized society, one whose media apparatus has come to appear to me as a mass of feelers on the vast body of millipede-socius, continually blindly groping forward and altering reality for the mass of segments which follows behind...and to some degree this sort of observation is possible because of the fractionating power of the internet. And foremost of these media `feelers' are the large numbers of talk shows which act to massage, select, modify reality ---and in a complicated (and sometimes not TOO complicated) feedback loop with its audience. The fate of ANY alternative to contemporary society is subjected to this process (and always found wanting, through either ridicule or harangue or authority)---and I take to that it is a structural process, one that doesn't NEED any cabal of oppression-producers and liberty-restrictors because we, ourselves, as we go about our daily business are producing these effects inexorably.
I think about it in terms of the way that Toni Negri has phrased it:
"Modernity changes sheets without changing beds. And this drags on, exhausting any capacity of renewal, inventing a thousand ways of bypassing the dry, authoritarian and utopian Hegelian intimation of modernity, which it attempts to substitute by used shapes of schematism of reason and transcendentality. This until that exhaustion consumes itself and turns reflection on itself."
Perhaps Hegel did sufficiently analyze modernity such that there is no way out of the dialectical box: to be anti-Hegelian IS to be Hegelian. Positions of opposition invariably feed the opposition, an all-consuming vortex that DOES seem to be seeking its end in some Total Knowledge, all positions of radicality and revolution hastening this millennial conclusion because they are pivotal to the operation of the dialectic.
Perhaps that's where some of my interest in the ancient Egyptians comes from, in that it seems to be a system of `thought' (of being really) that is so totally foreign to such notions of the dialectic (well, Hegel folded them in but, as Benjamin pointed out, even the dead aren't safe from the victors and you can do anything you want with them--heh, perhaps why the Egyptians were so intent on shooting the dead off to the nearest star). The Greeks took the Egyptian legacy and drove it toward explorations of appearance and an apparently entirely different constitution of the socius. Incredible as it seems, one is tempted to say, after reading the work of John Anthony West and the incredible de Lubicz, that the ENTIRE tradition of the occult (that is, an alternate system to western rationality, perhaps what M. Blanchot's Other Night alludes to) comes to us, much battered and bruised, from pre-dynastic Egypt.
And while Spinoza is by no means formally in this lineage -- some may even place him in opposition to it -- there does seem to me an odd, oblique crack that he opens up -- and which Deleuze continually pries open. Certainly an immanent Universal Substance, in its proximity to any kind of pantheism, has been pointed out. Negri tried to make the point that Hegel's modernity ends, as it detours around and through Heidegger, in "nothingness", and "commerce and dejection" and opposes to it Spinoza's anti-modernity's "conception of time as presence and as singularity that the great dialectical machine wished to expropriate but cannot." and then this long quote and I'll be through with Hegel/Spinoza for awhile:
"If the time of modernity is that of fulfillment, this fulfillment of the real could not mystify or conceal the splendor of the event. The Hegelian dialectic could not in any case give up the plenitude of singularity. But here the ambiguity hides an insurmountable difficulty. Spinozian presence is that of a being full of power, of an indestructible horizon of singularity. Hegel can well attempt the inversion of power, but this process takes on the appearance of a sophism, since the goal pursued is to reassert the same power. Hegel may indeed denounce in Spinozian being the violence of an irreducible presence and push it towards indifference and nothingness. But each time that this singular presence reappears, the reality that Hegel claims to be void, reveals itself on the contrary to be charged with positivities, openings, and singular potentialities. Hegel may indeed consider the perspective of a time conceived as indefinite duration to be unsatisfactory, but he can only oppose a repetitive and sterile transcendental movement to a theoretical practice of time where the latter appears charged with present determinations. It is here that the Hegelian system is endangered, here, when the time of modernity as fulfillment of the historical development opposes itself to the emergence of singularity, of the positive time of Dasein, of Spinozian presence." (from Spinoza's Anti-Modernity)
One of the X-Files episodes recently featured writing. It seems that a man has seen a traumatic incident outside his window and became a compulsive writer, recording observations and readings continually and meticulously, in hundreds of identically bound and labeled notebooks. In being so meticulous in his reading and recording, he had somehow become not only observant but also prophetic in that he could predict violent events out of the mass of observations he makes...perhaps his ability somewhat similar to Laplace's observation that given sufficient information about the world he could predict its future course.
At any rate, the point I would make has nothing to do with prophecy but rather the depiction of the writer as a quirky misfit, a pale Kafkaesqe figure obsessively tunneling through his own brand of reality irrespective of events around him, or rather surrounded by events but not really part of them. In the show "writing" and "being a writer" were simply another set of symptomologies, no less privileged than any of the other grotesques encountered on the show, whatever `truth' value the writing has, merely coming as a result of trauma and obsession, some form of neurotic anthropologic, writing as a pointless ethnography and wounded cataloging, serving to trap and contain the future by having the eye inhabit fully every aspect of Now.
It sounds familiar...
nomadology vs royal science/the cathedrals/Luxor/ multiple axises
"every conception of history is invariably accompanied by a certain
experience of time which is implicit in it, conditions it, and thereby
has to be elucidated. similarly, every culture is first and foremost a
particular experience of time, and no new culture is possible without an alteration in experience. the original task of a genuine revolution,
therefore, is never merely to 'change the world', but also -- and above all -- to change time .... for everyone there is an immediate and available experience on which a new concept of time could be founded .... she or he who, in the epoche of pleasure, has remembered history as she would remember her original home, will bring this memory to everything, will extract this promise from each instant: she is the true revolutionary, the true seer, released from time not at the millennium, but now."
-- giorgio agamben
There's no better way to stroll though the footsteps of time's peregrinations than to follow the progress of the natural world, to watch the cyclic iterations of arrival, awakening, decay, quiescence, and then all over again. Something wonderful, mysterious, and also, it must be said, terrible and awe-full (in both senses) is being lost in its passing. Some fundamental benchmark relationship to time will be lost when the `hypersphere' shrink-wraps us completely.
Having just read a `revolutionary' tract by a university student, it occurs to me that revolutionary movements themselves, in their deepest moments are aspects of the production of this shrink-wrapping. The `state of emergency' that the modern state (and state of culture) are about is about nothing so much as this new relationship to time; or rather, about the state of attenuation and disconnection that this state brings about. The revolutionary simply wishes to finally snap the umbilical cord holding us to cyclic perturbations, the final thunder clap that severs us from nature (somewhat in the reverse of the manner of how it is speculated that life formed on earth: the lightning flashing through a primordial soup, causing `biology' to come into existence)....
For better or worse, the state of emergency is far larger than any `revolutionary moment' can now encompass (and in fact the r.m. seems to be a symptomology, or nosology, and not a prescriptive `pharmaceutical' agent to quell an infection on the body politic (one should actually say `pharmakonical' since the actions that the r.m. prescribe seem to inevitably lead in contradictory directions; that is not a counsel for paralysis since in `real time' movement always happens...the binary closure that the revolutionary threatens
the non-revolutionary with -- if you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem -- expresses that state, but of course is incapable of stressing that OTHER part of the solution [which is the problem] and the OTHER part of the problem [which is the solution].
The revolutionary wishes for the perfect solution in the chemical sense: everything dissolves (including, of necessity, all pasts) leaving an equidynamic supersaturated fluid, with no precipitate falling out, gumming up the works, causing reflection/s (even though history as we have known it till now, is partly powered by this precipitate/solution relationship, i.e. the Hegelian dialectic. A revolutionary must simultaneously believe in the dialectic and believe in the possibility of its cessation, the first historical, technical and technological and the second anti-historical, eschatological, and millennialistic (the very best example of these contradictory / complementary strains and tensions being Walter Benjamin of course.)
The process of turning EVERYTHING into coding, including genetics, IS perhaps that the supersaturated solution the revolutionary is looking for, a peculiar technological inhabiting of the medieval, cabalistic `as above, so below', Spinozist Absolute Substance, everything becomes a Monoblock of code, Novalis' heavy metal god, of infinite density, hence simultaneity and collapse.
Meanwhile, it's nice to take my coffee outside the hut and watch a few sprouts come up before the rabbits nibble them...
I have to go a few miles to a hardware store to pick up some supplies. It's on a corridor called the East-West Connector, the same corridor that runs through the `new' Smyrna, otherwise known as Vining as I wrote about before. The part that runs past the Covered Bridge area (rocks and debris remember) seems to be a sort of nature zone that's been set up: no billboards, no development, no entrance or exit roads to speak of. But that changes abruptly with an explosion of development, at its end point, where it connects with `civilization'. Gas stations, Wal-Marts (yes, two, they're building a Superstore), Home Depot, now Lowe's also, a new Borders, and on and on. The Borders signifies that this is a shopping area for the new Smyrna. I step amongst all of this `splendor' in some sort of daze, roaming in a vast vista of concrete, asphalt, cars and one story buildings that seem to reach to infinity--or at least as far as I'm willing to travel in part of a day. And now it's all the same, everywhere, like some fungal growth which has found the perfect conditions to settle down and start a new mycorhizzal mass.
Once you begin to look around, everything seems astounding---not great, not wonderful, just ... astounding. Can there be a certain way that banality can be incredible, simply in the ground cover it makes, the sheer extent of its opaque shimmering?
I came across the following quote by Edgar Allan Poe when I was browsing in the bookstore last night. While Poe was dealing with a terrible sublimity which humans rarely have a sense of anymore (except through our media, mostly movies) I think it possible that such feelings are adaptable to this fungal growth. Most of the time, the growth (what we have valorized as the `everyday') acts as a comfortable enclosure...but what happens when one comes across a crack in the facade (and it's really not clear -- and I'm not sure how important -- whether the crack is in the `facade' or in ourselves) and can peer through?:
"We stand upon the brink of a precipice. We peer into the abyss--we grow sick and dizzy. Our first impulse is to shrink from danger. Unaccountably we remain. By slow degrees our sickness, and dizziness, and horror, becomes merged in a cloud of unnamable feeling."
And to make it worse (or better?) the whole environment seems close to what Agamben calls `whatever' (quodlibet). To quote the Tom Wall book again: "There is nothing mysterious, magical, or ineffable about the Whatever. It is as common as can be. It is the most common. It is not representable or themetizable, not because it is withdrawn, silent, negative, or removed, but because it is too common. It is not even hidden, and it offers nothing to be thought, contemplated, or worried about."
Yes, but...then how that turns! Doesn't it....make everything seem ... mysterious?
(a little side note: even poststructuralists--who should know better--can't get rid of a residuum, that precipitate earlier noticed...and yet what grudging SCIENTISTS most of us seem to be, old positivists---must be something in the water...certainly something in the episteme.)
I suppose there are some readers of this series (are there any left out there??!) who wonder what happened to `hut-ness' and grouse about the philosophy/theory...WHATEVER it is for anyone else, I can only say that it is not a matter of abstraction but that EVERYTHING I've written is a matter of my own embodiment/obsessions. Just because exposure is coded doesn't make it any less revealing--in some ways rather more.
but here's a hut-thing for you. (From an article by Gershom Scholem called "On Jonah and the Concept of Justice"): "All prophetic concepts are concepts of distance. The just man (zaddik) lives in the true distance: `The just man lives in his faith' (Habakkuk 2:4); for faith is a relationship based on distance. Deferral, and hence the order of distance most important for the constitution of the language of justice, contains in itself the ground of all duration, the being of justice. Distance is the methodical idea of all prophetic concepts....:"
And now I'm thinking about Sarah Kane again, and fullness (which is the very antithesis of distance) and impossible faith (and yet, isn't faith a kind of impossible fullness? perhaps the line between full and empty isn't so clear as Sarah Kane made out.. this much seems clear: if one is not filled with impossible faith--one will be filled with something else, whatever else is around--can one be filled with emptiness and of a non-mystical but pathological variety?--, since humans are, at the very least, masters of mimesis.)
But then Scholem complicates it by saying:
"Nobody can BECOME a zaddik, he can only BE one."
Now THAT is a very hard pill to swallow, perhaps impossible, for those who consider themselves `modern,' and that every person is like every other person.
The thousandth iteration of anything. thought, action, eventually grinds it down, thins it into a gruel easy enough to get down -- maybe by turning it into a pattern, away from an obsession, somehow making the repeated both easier and more difficult to see. Perhaps there is a plateau that is reached, an ineffable moment of exchange with the heavens: granted, the atmosphere is thin but one gains a certain crispness in return. That thin line of abridgement between heaven and hell is sometimes all one can ask for. And then there is the continual hope that one can stick one's head through the firmament, like that old medieval drawing, finally escape from the mist and fog of the hollows and depressions of an earth-bound existence. Isn't that precisely what Stephen Hawking was describing at his lecture the other night with his concept of Imaginary Time which enable him to `see' how the universe is constructed, at right angles to `real' time? Isn't that Blanchot's autre noir? The desire to escape? yes, maybe; but who was it said that those most desirous of preventing escape are wardens? A `line of flight' can take many turns. Although what we call `bizarre' and uncanny is often the line of flight in all its naked singularity (and, again, makes it easier to see we think), it could be that the banal is likewise compounded of flight lines, yet all driven by a small collection of singularities at the heart of the ordinary, the `normal'. Sometimes the thousandth iteration can just grind down the everyday surface into a mirror; sometimes it can grind right on through to the writhing mass of `full emptiness' which is always `elsewhere. ` (And what is hard for those trapped in the hall of mirrors to realize is: because something is Imaginary doesn't make it less powerful and `real'---rather, the opposite is the case. One's biology may not be destiny but one's belief -- entirely imaginal -- surely is.)