Thursday, November 01, 2007


Deleuze says that "paradox is the force of the unconscious: it occurs always in the space between (l'entre-deux) consciousness, contrary to good sense or, behind the back of consciousness, contrary to common sense" (Logic of Sense, p. 80). (One could almost say that consciousness occurs behind the back of consciousness.) As the list of things taking place behind the back of consciousness grows ever longer, the question arises, Is the separation of mental phenomena into consciousness and unconsciousness an unconscious decision?

I'm enthused about the idea of what occurs (always!) in the space between consciousness. I wonder, though, whether such occurrences can be adequately thought without thinking consciousness. Is consciousness extended? How one answers such questions will affect how one understands the space between consciousness. Similarily, if good sense moves from the most differentiated to the least differentiated and paradox (I might say learning) moves in both directions at once, what do we need to know about differentiation? Is it consciousness or unconsciousness that assigns differentiation to the either the conscious or the unconscious–or perhaps a space in between? In between what? I can't provide any definitive answers myself, just a few questions.

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posted by Fido the Yak at 9:44 AM.


Anonymous Yusef said...

"Is the separation of mental phenomena into consciousness and unconsciousness an unconscious decision?"

My opinion is that it is an unconscious decision - it is really an unconscious obedience to an arbitrary authority which arises at a certain point in history and demands there be this harshly-defined separation of consciousness(rationality)from unconsciousness(irrationality.)

I think questions like this one are nodal in Deleuze - in his collaborative work with Guattari my opinion is that he answers this problem(that the separation of the conscious from the unconscious is unconscious,) by posing the processes of schiphrenization -- the schizo isn't,can't, and won't be bothered by the arbitrary demand that these separations of conscious and unconscious, rational and irrational, be made...S/He just goes on their merry,seemingly heedless way of dealing with whatever as it presents itself in whatever way.

That the mind of the schizophrenic is disordered and painful and therefore demands clinical treatment from us, that it is proper for us to treat the schizophrenic "clinically"...I think also demands that we never ask exactly this question you've asked: "Is the separation of mental phenomena into consciousness and unconsciousness an unconscious decision?"

November 01, 2007 11:57 AM  
Blogger Fido the Yak said...

I'm stroking my chin at your last sentence. If you said more I'd listen.

BTW, I've been reading Wallace's book on ∞. So far so good. I was going to post on Zeno's Dichotomy but thought better of it.

November 01, 2007 4:02 PM  
Anonymous Yusef said...

I think the notion of a cogito, which is literally conceived to provide a kind of hard core of certainty at the base of human existence, is threatened irreconcilably by the idea that it might be, unbeknownst to itself, contaminated by other mental phenomena which influence it in ways which are not certain to it in and of itself and of which it itself is not fully conscious. Both Freud(notion that consciousness is a kind of tip of an iceberg of a much larger and more fundamental,submerged mental phenomena) and Marx( historical-material determinism of consciousness, consciousness as an effect,) issue that challenge.

The idea that a decision is made but partially influenced by unconscious factors destroys the notion of "decision", I think. The notion of freedom existing through the exercise of informed choice takes a body blow if "informed choice" is never fully realized and one, in buying, in thinking, in perceiving and conceiving, is a puppet of influences of which one remains unaware.

November 02, 2007 11:16 AM  
Blogger Fido the Yak said...

Hi, Yusef.

"The idea that a decision is made but partially influenced by unconscious factors destroys the notion of 'decision', I think."

Well, it occurred to me also that the idea of an unconscious decision might seem to eviscertate decision. For me decision is just making a cut. I think the unconscious is up to that. I've also been thinking about discernment and criticism etymologically, and would be willing to talk about unconscious criticism, or the critical unconscious–automatic criticism–not that I'd recommend it, but I could talk about it.

I'm ambivalent about decision as the site of freedom. I kind of feel that unconscious decision robs me of freedom, but now that there's been a schism, I feel a conscious decision robs me of freedom too, not only because I can imagine that simply being conscious reflects an unconscious decision, but because being conscious isn't fully being myself.

I doubt whether freedom exists through the exercise of informed choice, but I won't ring a death knell for the idea just yet. Informing a choice may happen not in an instant but over the course of many years. Centuries even. Aeons. Maybe that's realized enough to get by.

November 02, 2007 2:34 PM  

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