Monday, November 06, 2006

Moment's Notice

"Being prepared to recieve what thought is not prepared to think is what deserves the name thinking," Lyotard writes ("Time Today," in The Inhuman: Reflections on Time, p. 73). If we define thinking this way, as an openness to the event, Lyotard says it follows that the thinker is "ipso facto in a position of resistance to the procedures for controlling time" (p. 74). Lyotard follows this unusual statement with a more conventional restatement of what it means to think: "To think is to question everything, including thought, and question, and the process" (p. 74).

Does thought have the character of an occurrence? I can surely think of it that way, but, as they say, thinking doesn't make it so. To question questioning, isn't that an activity that presupposes more than one occurrence, i.e. the question and the answer? Even if the answer is glacially slow in coming, or so slow that it never quite arrives, hasn't its arrival already been anticipated by thinking in the mode of questioning? So should we say that thought has the character of relating to or between occurrences rather than itself being an occurrence? Yet isn't thinking still like an occurrence, something that goes on?

Lyotard, ever concerned with negentropy, puts forward as a consequence of logical positivism this idea: "the real 'user' of language is not the human mind qua human, but complexity in movement, of which mind is only a transitory support" (p. 72). Once the thought has occurred, is there not an obligation to resist? What then would be the source of this feeling that one ought not be alienated from one's thinking?

In music is there such a thing as playing the right note at the wrong time? I tend toward the opinion that there is no such thing, that timing is everything, and at the wrong time one can only play wrong notes. But how much of a delay are we able to accept, in music or in thinking? That I think must be open-ended, impossible to determine in advance. Does one have a sense of rhythm about thoughts one is not prepared to think? What sort of phenomenon would this be?

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posted by Fido the Yak at 12:30 PM.


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