Friday, September 28, 2007

The Pleasures of Auscultation

Gemma Corradi Fiumara reminds us that the "auscultation" of written texts has been limited to inhabitants of the Gutenberg Galaxy (The Other Side of Listening, p. 30). Given the number of books published annually, does it make sense any longer to speak of inhabiting the galaxy of books? In my corner of the galaxy there are hundreds of books, and tens of thousands in the nearest institutional library. I'm hard pressed to make it through one book a week, though I may consult many more. Nowadays an avid reader with a high book life number could make a dent in Project Gutenberg, but just a dent.

Can we still then speak of communities of readers? That may be a dishonest way to characterize academic intellectual spheres. Professors, translators, editors (one can hope), publishers, reviewers, librarians, students, bursars, airline attendants, code monkeys, authors: all their specialized, unequally valued skills and more are required to make up a contemporary intellectual community, or a minor bookish form of life. Perhaps the practioners of a particular bookish form of life agree upon a language, as Wittgenstein might say (Philosophische Untersuchungen I, No. 241). Are there more and more reading lists that don't contain within their pages all the language one needs to thrive in a bookish form of life? Do contemporary bookish forms of life accept more and more slippage in their languages? Along with every "These are the books you should read!" comes a "Those are books you should not read!" If I sit down to read The Libidinal Economy it will not be because anybody has recommended it to me but because I intend to enjoy it, which is another point I mean to get at. Can "These are some books you might enjoy" institute an agreement on a form of life sufficiently sophisticated for academic culture?

If listening involves an openness more fundamental than the openness of the question, as Gadamer suggests, then Corradi Fiumara's question of why this has this not been a topic of philosophical discussion acquires a certain probity (pp.28-29, citing Truth and Method, pp. 324-325). (I'll note that the if might excuse her from engaging in a pensiero forte.) Corradi Fiumara's philosophy of listening celebrates anomalies (p. 49). The anomaly of the openness of listening appears as anomaly from within a paradigm of hermeneutics; I'm not sure if she means to abandon the hermeneutic paradigm altogether, or, if so, whether there is a name for the paradigm that thinks listening. It may be consistent with a kind of pensiero debole. Corradi Fiumara notably makes frequent references to Lyotard's The Postmodern Condition as well as the works of Gianni Vattimo, and Priogine and Stengers. I'm unsure of whether she has a deep commitment to postmodernism; I'll wait to read her more recent books before probing that question further.

Corradi Fiumara draws our attention to the pleasures of auscultation with an argument that reminds of Kuhn's idea that discoveries cannot unequivocably be attributed to particular individuals at particular moments (The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, p. 55). She says:

In an open organization of knowledge, even the experiences of pleasure and displeasure might become intsruments of philosophical research as they no longer function as ends in themselves but are amenable to be used as intermediate passages towards a more complex equilibrium. An experience of pleasure may not be confined to the status of an occasion of enjoyment but may be transformed into the announcement or uncovering of unapparent features in the complexity of interactions. Similarly the notion of pain may no longer be relegated to the noncognitive level of frustration but may enhance an awareness of features and factors which cause disturbance. The less pleasure and displeasure are regarded as mere fluctuations of one's inner life the more they can be introduced and used in the enrichment of our philosophical concerns.

(p. 46)

Kuhn and Corradi Fiumara, in their critique of the individual and of the occasion, are operating under a shared ethos of late Twentieth-Century thought. Beyond that, I think Corradi Fiumara has appropriated Kuhn's critique into a metaparadigmatic thinking of her problem (which also speaks to a kind of ethos). There are, nonetheless, elements of a paradigm in her thinking: "complex equilibrium," "complexity of interactions," and elsewhere, a deterritorialization of knowledge (p. 51 and passim). Are these in harmony? That is, if we begin to think a deterritorialized pleasure of auscultation, are we still interested in equilibria, or are we interested in disturbance? Do the pleasures of reading precisely disturb the complex bookish forms of life even as these forms of life celebrate more and more fluid bodies of texts? Is pleasure intrinsically a more unsettling basis of agreement than vocabulary or "the texts themselves"?

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posted by Fido the Yak at 12:11 PM.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


Interesting to see that word cropping up. Thanks to felix it seems. The neologist maniac.

September 29, 2007 12:15 AM  
Blogger Fido the Yak said...

It's not Gemma's word choice but mine. It may have come to me indirectly through Felix--it's been so long since I perused Anti-Oedipus. Back in the day I vaguely remember some anthropologists using it with a slightly different twist, but at the margins there were some citations of Gilles and Felix. If it comes easily to me, that's probably due to Felix. It's a remarkable case of influence.

I started reading The Logic of Sense. You were right. I am enjoying it. It seems like Gilles owed a greater debt to Lucretius than he acknowledges. (He acknowledged some debt, but a greater debt to the Stoics. I'm talking about the second paradox where he talks about surface effects.) It's interesting to me how his thinking accords with "postmodernism." Do you suppose Baudrillard, for example, was indebted to Gilles and Felix? Alternatively, can you imagine that such concepts as simulacra and deterritorialization are expressions of a Zeitgeist? Well, how does a Zeitgeist come to be? Who makes it happen? I'll venture that the enjoyability of Gilles and Felix' texts has destabilized established paradigms and created a space for their voices to resonate. Well, that sounds too neat. What is actually happening is really kind of wonderful.

September 29, 2007 9:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

'Postmodernism' - I don't think D/G would see themselves that way.

In fact Guattari once wrote an essay which criticized pm as a 'dead-end' (certainly not a 'philosophy') and made some caustic remarks about Baudrillard. G was particularly annoyed by the idea that real political/social change could come from pure 'spontaneity'.

The essay was partly trans. and published somewhere as 'The Postmodern Dead-end'.

The orig bk was a coll of essays entitled 'Cartographies schizoanalytiques'. which I gave to the uni libr. in a moment of generosity.
The bk also had an interesting essay 'Cracks in (the state of) the text. A knock at some kind oftextualism...
Another of the essays was publ in a semiotexte bk 'Incorporations' if I remember.
In an intro to a bk on Deleuze (the title currently escapes me), Deleuze noted that he stopped using the term simulacra after a while.
Having said all that there are resonances btwn pm and dg. Surface effects, critique of the subject etc. It's just that ultimately they did respect ontology and had a healthy disrespect for semiology.

"Persons as eclosional events. All eclosions in nature, whether of quantum subatomic particles or of persons, are situated by deeper plays (or underlying determinations). In contrast to the observable plays – that sustain emergences and depend on situations arrived at in due time over certain spatial arrangements, such as the ocean gently depositing a glittering shell on a certain, particular corner of the beach – those deeper plays, like any other physical cause, do their work inside the instant and non-distributedly. That is, those deeper plays do their work inside the thin actuality of nature and in some locality (in the same way as all efficient causes work, so that their own time does not elapse during their propagation), and this is why they are commonly called “deeper.” Or ensconced, hidden from view inside the instant, rather than “visible” (more accurately, trackable on effects) over situations that transform themselves over intervals, or intervalically transforming situations." (Palindrome).


Yet, the key point is that a cogito is not an illation (an inference of proper predicates in reasoning). Nor does it provide any inferential certainty, as even Martin Heidegger misunderstood its function. Neither are cogitos, illation-like, instanceable, because their object changes.

They require and evidence the extramental objectivity, as finitude, of the conative-apprehensional agency of different agents – Plauto, Shan¬kara – or, when repeated, of one agent at different developmental stages – say, Emmy Noether young and less young, at a certain hour of the day and, some later time, enriched by the previous focusing in her cogitative self-ostension.
As the factuality of an unarguable intuition, whereby the exertion of the object-positioning self-agency in the volitional act of putting itself in doubt simultaneously evinces that very conative-apprehensional agency, every cogito is not a discursive referent, a sort of dialectically derived self-idea not identical to the observer.
Moreover, neither is the cogito a rationalist affirmation of newscasting primacy for sequential, articulative thinking over intuition.
Nor is it any kind of pronoun-mediated predicative allusion that provides information about the cogitant’s past, localization, personality, and web of connections.
Nor is it any deduction of present soul features from the evidence of a particular mental content thought of in the near-immediate past, “time-illatively” – the ludicrous “I think, then …” sometimes even printed.
Nor is it any sensed gauge of one’s personality lost in trances or in the psychotic states misnamed “depersonalizing” (instead of “de-personalitizing”) by having misconceived personality as person.

Rather, each cogito’s unique “predication” is that of its semovient object-positioning effectivity......." (Crocco, Palindrome).


September 30, 2007 2:05 PM  
Blogger Fido the Yak said...

Yeah, I was pretty sure D&G wouldn't describe themeselves as postmodernists, but I'm reminded again of how little I know. It will be quite some time before I've even begun to catch up with D&G.

You know, with my background sometimes I am more liable to see patterns of thought than to appreciate original thinking. I see it as my project, especially over the past year, to overcome this. Obviously I don't like being bitten, And I don't like prejudicial thinking. Well, I put my prejudices out there, and am happiest when they are torn down.

Crocco's thought of the cogito not being an illation intrigues me.

October 01, 2007 9:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just learnt that Charly Stivale is working on a bio. of Guattari:

co-translated and edited with Giuseppina Mecchia, of Franco Berardi Bifo's bio of Guattari, Felix, for Palgrave MacMillan.

Btw, Charles Stivale's website is a useful resource of all things deleuzoguattarian.

I can send the link later (altho you'd find it quickly). There is a whole d/g section including (if I remember correctly) a translation of the dialogue to the Deleuze video 'ABC' (abcdaire)- might be of interest. It was made with Claire Parnet on the condition that it was not broadcast (initially on the european Arte channel) till after he died.

Non sequitur: some of guattari's essays in Cartographies were, i think, technically meaningless - 'unreadable' - they made the worst lacan look easy.

"This antepredicative apprehension, or intentional grasping, is usually focused when an observer actively tries to discredit herself or himself as a real entity.
Putting oneself in doubt, or positing oneself in doubt, is technically called an act of object positioning. Not to be confused with the structural articulation of its logical formulation, it is a semovient act by which an object is operated with in a mind’s system of object-conserving operations.

The result of the operation is verified or checked out by contrasting that result with the sensed notices about it.

Its anti-eliminative philosophical use was developed by Plato, Plauto, several African, Indian and Chinese ancient thinkers, and some modern Europeans, and subsided in some environments where ideologies suppressed it (or misrepresented it as a predicative reasoning) in order to censor its instancing of an unmediated self-consciousness."
(Crocco, Palindrome)

"A cogito is not an illation, as they claim. Nor is the cogito, by itself, inevitably driven toward doubting the very existence of extramentalities including other persons; the reality of extramentalities including other persons becomes evidenced by other sorts of attestations, that will be discussed soon.

Let me express more technically what such an esemplastic, volitional act of positing its own agency in doubt is.
Independently of any Cartesian or Heideggerian certainty accidentally provided by this act, or later acquired by means of having performed it a fraction of a second earlier, every cogito is a noematic reference to its noesis, not as Ding für Uns (thing for us) but rather as Ding an Sich (thing in itself). (Crocco, Palindrome).

I don't notice that many prejudices on your blog. A lot of phenomenology though (smile). And my intention wasn't to tear anything down....(smile again)

October 01, 2007 1:51 PM  
Blogger Fido the Yak said...

I think you pointed me to Stivale's website before, or else it was cited in Primacy. Have you read his Disenchanting Les Bons Temps? I put it on my wishlist for old times sake, as it were.

October 01, 2007 3:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, haven't read that one - along with many others.

I had forgotten that charley was the cotranslator of logic of sense. He seems to have a gift with languages. (italian, french, spanish too, I think).

I remember him giving a talk at the univ of sydney about 15yrs ago.
It included demos of cajun dance routines performed with his wife.

"This noematic reference to its own noesis, or non-comparative reference of a known object to its unbarterable semovient knower, entails that a physical universe, which includes cogito-making entities, can locate only the circumstances from where each of these cogitos is elicited, and not those entities themselves.

In the same way that we cannot locate the field determinations that establish the eclosion or position of a packet of a field’s action, neither can we locate a person, dead or alive.

Instead, only the circumstances of the person’s eventual action can be located.
This circumstantiation is another constitutive brute finding, consisting of the hinderance to cogitate “I am” on ascertaining that some brain thinks." (Crocco, Palindrome)

October 02, 2007 2:06 PM  

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