Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Math or Poetry?

Deleuze discusses the problematic as the mode of the event and reaches this conclusion: "The relationship between mathematics and man may thus be conceived in a new way: the question is not that of quantifying or measuring human properties, but rather, on the one hand, that of problematizing human events, and, on the other, that of developing as various human events the conditions of a problem" (The Logic of Sense, p. 55).


A word about humanism. I might like to say that I am humanist, in full knowledge of the term's biopolitical incorrectness, simply to be honest. In the first place I am a human being: anatomically bipedal, loquacious, clothed, even in front of my cat. That's what I am. Who I am appears to be a question of affinities, of passionate relations: a cat person, a people person (not so much in practice), an af-fine. Is affinity a problem, something we can throw forward? Is it an event, a surface effect?


Let me backtrack. It's not so easy to define what a human being is. Derrida says, with some intelligence,"The list of properties unique to man always forms a configuration, from the first moment. For that reason, it can never be limited to a single trait and it is never closed; structurally speaking it can attract a nonfinite number of other concepts, beginning with the concept of a concept" ("The Animal That I Am (More to Follow)," pp. 373-374). Here a partisan might say that Derrida has problematized human properties when he should have problematized human events. Well, he has indeed problematized properties. Derrida says paranthetically that what is proper to "man" is "the peculiarity of a man whose property it is not to have anything that is exclusively his" (p. 389). Now I've gone and problematized the human because these authors talk of "man" and that strikes me as only half the story at best. It may be a translation issue, but gender is a problem for humanism whether one chooses to remain neutral or to specify a gender. Is gender a property or an event? If those are the choices, I might lean towards the latter, but I'm still not sure of the mathematical nature of the problem. Derrida says that "thinking concerning the animal, if there is such a thing, derives from poetry" (p. 377). Such thinking problematizes the human, and, I think, develops as human events the conditions of a problem.


Perhaps it is liberating to problematize affinity, for instance, as something other than a property. Perhaps it would lead to healthier relationships. Yet one may still problematize the property, and one may problematize poetically. The body, for instance, can be imagined as something other than a property. Rather than saying that one has a body, one can say that one is one's body, or that one is bodily, or one (em)bodies. I (em)body affinities, passionately. The poetry of lines is never strictly parallel, even in parallelisms. Lines curve and undulate, sounds insinuate and meanings are sinuous with them. To problematize the supple line of poetry is to weave in and out of paradox, or keep to a paradox that is a weaving in and out of belief. Derrida speaks of of a limitrophy whose task for thinking would be "to complicate, thicken, delinearize, fold, and divide the line precisely by making it increase and multiply" (p. 398). He asks, "What are the edges of a limit that grows and multiplies by feeding on an abyss?" I ask, What are the edges of a line that grows and multiplies by plying with another line? We don't need to complicate the poetic line; it's already complicated, already multiple as soon as it's poetry. This is all to suggest that developing affinities as the conditions of a problem may require scansion in addition to or as an alternative to calculus.

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posted by Fido the Yak at 7:01 AM.

12 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

could you give me the english ref for 'the animal that i am'?

i quote the french version in PoS but I don't think it was translated then.
muchos gracias,
p

October 16, 2007 2:44 PM  
Blogger Fido the Yak said...

De nada, Paul. Jacques Derrida, "The Animal That Therefore I Am (More to Follow)," (trans. David Willis), Critical Inquiry 28(2) 2002.

It's at influxus.

October 16, 2007 3:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanks, I think 'silence' is golden...

Deleuze wrote somewhere that he never wanted to become a connaisseur of his own thought.

I suspect that many of us do precisely that - esp with the demands and competition of the academy...
When I look at some of these blogs - they seem sooo well read and 'informed'- and trying to connect everthing - nancy, hardt, deleuze, basket weaving...

I am enjoying rereading Isabelle Stengers' Penser avec Whitehead. Such a fine guide to a conceptual adventure (holiday?)...smile..
It will be trans.by Harvard in a couple of years...
p.

October 17, 2007 12:08 AM  
Blogger Fido the Yak said...

Sometimes I tire of eating my own cooking. I studied music and poetry and languages in college, maybe because I believed in Beauty or Expression. I am enjoying The Logic of Sense and don't want to ruin it with my own prejudices.

October 17, 2007 12:25 PM  
Anonymous Yusef said...

"I suspect that many of us do precisely that - esp with the demands and competition of the academy...
When I look at some of these blogs - they seem sooo well read and 'informed'- and trying to connect everthing - nancy, hardt, deleuze, basket weaving..."

Yeah, there is a very astute,intricate,intense, and intelligent reading of every subtle symptom or sign available, except for the obvious and important ones, such as why intelligent and astute people would allow themselves cornered into a situation of pressure and pain where "the demands and competition of the academy..." distort and destroy whatever it is which made the academy an institution of greatness and grandeur. Less informed, more bold:Now!

October 17, 2007 1:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes Yusef!!!
And my tired comment was not directed at this site.
I think it even comes from a certain envy. I wish I could look as organised as Influxus!

Strange cos I have no institutional status...and I don't regret that.

I do remember Isabelle Stengers once almost getting slightly annoyed (almost imposs), when a postgrad read one of those unreadable papers relating Agamben and Negri and Hardt and everyone and Whitehead - a transcendental, and judgemental reading.

Her to be translated bk on Whitehead "Thinking with Whitehead" (Penser avec Whitehead) will be a breath of fresh air..

There are some interesting comments therein on phenomenology and Whitehead that I might post here. She says something that rings a bell with me about phenom. and why I have a little prob. with it. - Even tho I really enjoyed reading Ponty's meditations....

October 17, 2007 11:12 PM  
Blogger Fido the Yak said...

I didn't think you were talking about me, Paul. I have a habit of self-criticism, but I know what you're talking about.

Your criticisms of phenomenology are always welcome.

October 18, 2007 11:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is a danger of quoting a few lines from a work of several hundred pages...

Stengers argues that there is a poss. of confusion btwn Whitehead and phenomenology (partic. in france, where phenom is v. influential).

It's all about the meaning of the ultimate ('l'ultime).

roughly translating:

In phenom. the ultimate is both that which must be thought, and that which imposes on thought a tension [?] (torsion) which is similar to a conversion, since it's a matter of no longer thinking of 'something', but of approaching an exp. purified of any partic. interest for a partic. object....
------------
I think that's what 'rang a bell' - pure abstraction......
-------------
The Whiteheadian ultimate is only ultimate in relation to the problem posed, and it is defined by its function, avoid false problems, not by way of a truth that would transcend our habitual ways of thinking. He doesn't require that we suspend our habitual ways of thinking.....

for whitehead there is no necessity for a 'phenomenlogical reduction'...the ambition to think pure phenomenality...

October 19, 2007 12:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I forgot (just for the record) -

there is an (I think untranslated) bk by Eric Alliez,
'L'Impossibilitier de la phenomenologie' (or something like that).
He was a student of Deleuze, now working btwn Paris and London.
I think his bk

"What is the phil of D and G"

may now be trans. It is a good bk. As his his 'Capital Times'.

October 19, 2007 12:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ooops, Alliez's bk on D/G has the main title 'The Signature of the world'. Please excuse.
p

October 19, 2007 1:02 AM  
Blogger Fido the Yak said...

I'm quite fascinated by Capital Times.

That's quite a criticism of the reduction. Ideally, I think, the reduction would be a quick methodological step that would lead to rich descriptions. But we rarely seem to get near the things themselves. Maybe it's because there is that tension there that Stengers describes, and in the end, philosophers love their abstractions (and their impasses).

October 19, 2007 6:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Capital Times is, yet again, another 'difficult' bk. I did read it and found the concluding chapter the most rewarding. I think vol. 2 is in the pipeline.

alliez's bk 'the signature of the world' is def. worth a look at.

He is a v. interesting character. Spent some yrs teaching in Rio. Then Vienna, now has some post in London. Has written quite a bit on 'Art History'.
Also one of the founders of the online journal 'Multitudes'. The first issue was on the famous 'Biopolitics'.....

The comment I made about 'abstraction' would need a lot of (too much) clarification...there's nothing wrong with abstraction - just depends how one is using it I suppose...
It's a shame some of these bks, like Alliez's on Phenomenology will not be translated....

But hey we already have enough on our plates!

October 19, 2007 11:30 PM  

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