Saturday, June 28, 2008

Deuce Martinez

What should we do if we suspect that our questions may be contributing to a culture of viciousness? Do we imagine that we could run parallel to viciousness while retaining an innocence? All around me I witness displays of psychic violence in the guise of seeking truth. What would an honest refusal to participate in brutal methods of interrogation require? Is there any limit to the refusal to participate in brutality? How would we recognize a commitment to nonbrutality in ourselves?

It should bother us that Deuce Martinez is an educated man. It should also bother us that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is an educated man, but we, those of us who enjoy asking questions, can allow ourselves to concentrate on inquiring after our culture of questioning. In all probability the gentleman from Virginia participated in peculiar methods of interrogation–I think it's reasonable to conclude that he was in fact a participant in the peculiar interrogations of Mr. Mohammed–not because he was born to do so, but rather because he was educated to do so. Here it would be naive to think that education and brutality are diametrically opposed, or that brutality must be innate. We should want to put questioning on trial without employing falsehoods or stupidities. The questioning of questioning represents a necessary intermediary step–a step made necessary by the coming to light of certain brutalities–on the path to a questioning of brutality, a questioning which I am presuming must take place if we are to live without becoming brutality's other victims. To undertake this questioning prompted by a brutality that must be questioned means stepping into an aporia with real felt consequences. Must we definitively remove all doubts by this process in order to avoid being brutalized? If there are right ways and wrong ways of asking questions, are we learning to question brutality in the right way? What should we be asking of our educators?

Should our education prepare us for trauma? How?

Let's ask whether questioning and ethics are truly compatible. Do they suffer together? So far a culture of questioning is just a hypothesis. Does committing to a nonbrutal way of questioning in any way lead to a verification of the hypothesis? How would we assess the reliability of our verifications while refusing to participate in brutal methods of interrogation? I would like to be able to articulate a decent philosophical response to the situation of people having poisoned the well of questioning.

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posted by Fido the Yak at 9:17 AM. 6 comments

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Instant Labyrinth

Nancy talks about the ostranenie of the photograph, how it captures the familiar and strays into strangeness ("Nous Autres," in The Ground of the Image, pp. 100-107). At length:

Such is the straying and secret I am of the photo. Thus it does not say, "I is an other"; rather, it proffers the wholly other "I am" whose text consists in "we others." It remains to be asked whether there is ever any I am that is not laden in the depths of it-self with innumerable we-others: but that is perhaps exactly what the photograph charges itself with uncovering, with suggesting. Each "subject" in the photo refers tacitly, obstinately, to all the others, to this prodigious universe of photos in(to) which we all take ourselves and one another, at some time or another, this colossal and labyrinthine phototeque in whose depths there stalks–like a Minotaur–the monster, the monstration, and the prodigious image of our strangeness. The encounter is always monstrous, or monstrating, ostensive and threatening, invasive and evasive in the same moment, straying in its capture, released in being grasped. This is not a dialectic, or else it is the point–the seed or grain–of madness that vibrates at the heart of every dialectic, the labyrinth that disturbs its progress and throws it off course.

This grain, or this labyrinth, is called a body. A photograph is a rubbing or rubbing away of a body. We others, as others, are bodies. When we meet one another, we are bodies. We are in each case the brother or the sister of the Minotaur's human body, and it is this body's blood that flows through the beast's head. The bodiless, for its part, is the same, the self-same, hidden behind its body, the dimensionless point of spirit, the empty reference of a formal "I think." But what makes the photograph possible (and what once made people believe that it could capture spirits in its gelatin) is that in the photo it is a question of the body: it is the body that grasps, and it is the body that is grasped and released. It is the body, its thin surface, that is detached and removed by the film. This is the physics and the chemistry of the instant, the force of gravity of the click, this curvature of space and this impalpable lightness of a vision that precipitates and coagulates into a thickness of skin, a density of touch. The contact and the tact of the photographic click detaches a new body each time, an instantaneous body, unstable and fixed in its instability, as a loving or a suffering body, desiring or fearing, which is surprised and overtaken by pleasure or pain. We others, we difficult bodies, delicate bodies and exposed skins obscured by their own clarity, bodies gently pressed and released by another body, by its eye, its finger, its uncertain thought of being and appearing, which suddenly comes to take its place in us (others), as in the cavernous recesses in which it will carry on its rumination.

(pp. 106-107)

In the following paragraph why does Deleuze put "passage" in quotation marks?

The extreme mobility of the phantasm and its capacity for "passage" have often been stressed. It is a little like the Epicurean envelopes and emanations which travel in the atmosphere with agility. Two fundamental traits are tied to this capacity. First, the phantasm covers the distance between psychic systems with ease, going from consciousness to the unconscious and vice versa, from the nocturnal to the diurnal dream, from the inner to the outer and conversely, as if it itself belonged to a surface dominating and articulating both the unconscious and the conscious, or to a line connecting and arranging the inner and the outer over two sides. Second, the phantasm returns easily to its own origin and, as an "originary phantasm," it integrates effortlessly the origin of the phantasm (that is, a question, the origin of birth, of sexuality, of the difference of the sexes, or of death. . .). This is because it is inseparable from a displacement, an unfolding, and a development within which it carries along its own origin. Our early problem, "where does the phantasm begin, properly speaking?" already implies another problem: "where does the phantasm go, in what direction does it carry its beginning?" Nothing is finalized like the phantasm; nothing finalizes itself to such an extent.

(Logic of Sense, p. 217, my bold)

The instant labyrinth passes in the direction of adventure, in the direction of agility. To be a witness to its passage would I have to be haunted? Growing comfortable with transcendence would be an indulgence were it not for this sense of haunted/haunting, this sense of whispers.

Perhaps for the Epicurean the simulacrum represents the ultimate adventure, a greater challenge than suffering itself. However it should be doubted, by which I mean it should not be doubted perforce but with the sense of responsibility or commitment we should bring to our shoulds, to the extent we can do so prior to the constitution of any should. To live amid superstitions is to force the mind to suffer. Is force real? Possibly what compels us to dwell amid simulacra is the force of our own doubt. On the other hand "dwell" may be a poor choice of words. Do we exactly pass among simulacra? Such a passage would not be an Epicurean notion but an adventure. I'd like to believe that talking about how such a doubt exists would be an adventure, but I rather sense that you may feel as if you've talked doubt to death. Maybe instead of adventure we should speak of sidestepping, as if nobody had already made an adventure out of the detour. All of our conversations may be haunted that way too.

Agility is more real to me than Unconscious Thought or its Conscious Thought, more real than either the body rubbed away or the body I am left to inhabit, and impressively more real than any zone of difference between the two. Am I left then with a fantastic that can't "pass"? Why should I feel dismay that the instant labyrinth would be a passing thing, or a kaleideation of passing? What's its passing to me? What's its haunt?

Allow me a doubt about the instant. Perhaps the instant means no more than a copula, a bringing together of two affairs, two detours. I feel it necessary to decouple the instant labyrinth from the labyrinth of the straight line. Perhaps any affair is a celebration of the aleatory, but as I've noted before, celebrants of the aleatory are often uncomfortable with the aleatory encounter. It's as if we needed the copula to enable the affair as affair, and perhaps we only recognize the aleatory as it is carried on alongside; its birth would then be in the copula–the beginnings of a paradox I reckon, but perhaps one that we can happily set aside for just a moment, content to simply take note of a discomfort. Do we meet the instant Minotaur in profile? Is the instant labyrinth properly traversed?

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posted by Fido the Yak at 12:26 PM. 0 comments

Monday, June 23, 2008

Panecastic Repetition

Someday repetition will be thought as a panecastics.

Someday it won't be possible to think that the meaning of the word panecastics changes by being repeated without realizing that repetition has changed by becoming panecastic.

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posted by Fido the Yak at 8:56 AM. 0 comments

Panecastic Translation

Jacques Rancière says, "Understanding must be understood in its true sense: not the derisive power to unveil things, but the power of translation that makes one speaker confront another" (The Ignorant Schoolmaster, trans. pp. 63-64). If I ask for an end to confrontation–I may not ask alone; to name one name I may have Corradi Fiumara to hold my hand–will you accept that as my translation of Ranciere's idea? Is there a nonconfrontational way of facing one another, or a completely nonconfrontational addressivity? A lapidary addressivity? A simple bringing into contact? (In any event, Rancière himself thinks somewhat along these lines, proposing an alternative to the metaphorical equation of reason with combat.)

And what of my translation of translation? Is there at work in translation a power that asks? A power that asks one speaker to listen to another? Give up power, I hear?

I have a will to translate salto mortale. What would it say to delay leaping into it?

Have I ever denied your acrobatic powers?

Let me catch you with my arms of nonaggregation:

One can say, if one likes, that truth brings together. But what brings people together, what unites them, is nonaggregation. Let's rid ourselves of the representation of the social cement that hardened the thinking minds of the postrevolutionary age. People are united because they are people, that is to say, distant beings. Language doesn't unite them. On the contrary, it is the arbitrariness of language that makes them try to communicate by forcing them to translate—but also puts them in a community of intelligence. Man is a being that knows very well when someone speaking doesn't know what he is talking about.

(p. 58)

Do I understand irony correctly?

What a happy troupe we are, we who are distant.

It is because we are distant that we identify with the funambulist. But we empathize as well as identify. We hold our breath. We gasp. Would we empathize if we were up there on the same rope trying to hold our balance? That is, must we find a moment for empathy, or are empathies immediate? Are empathies immediately distant?

Don't credit me with too much irony, by the way. Please.

Words are doors to the soul. Have I ever been through those doors? Imagine a door marked Gregarious.

Words about the poetic virtue:

The impossibility of our saying the truth, even when we feel it, makes us speak as poets, makes us tell the story of our mind's adventures and verify that they are understood by other adventurers, makes us communicate our feelings and see them shared by other feeling beings. Improvisation is the exercize by which the human being knows himself and is confirmed in his nature as a a reasonable man, that is to say, as an animal "who makes words, figures, and comparisons, to the story of what he thinks to those like him." The virtue of our intelligence is less in knowing than in doing. "Knowing is nothing, doing is everything." But this doing is fundamentally an act of communication. And, for that, "speaking is the best proof of the capacity to do whatever it is." In the act of speaking, man doesn't transmit his knowledge, he makes poetry; he translates and invites others to do the same. He communicates ans an artisan: as a person who handles words like tools. Man communicates with man through the works of his hands just as through the words of his speech: "When man acts on matter, the body's adventures become the story of the mind's adventures." And the artisan's emancipation is first the regaining of that story, the consciousness that one's material activity is of the nature of discourse. He communicates as a poet: as a being who believes his thought communicable, his emotions sharable. That is why speech and the conception of all works as discourse are, according to universal teaching's logic, a prerequisite to any learning. The artisan must speak about his works in order to be emancipated; the student must speak about the art he wants to learn. "Speaking about human works is the way to know human art."

(pp. 64-65)

I hold open a door to your adventures. Can I hope for more than vicariousness? I wouldn't risk standing in your way, or tripping us both up, for the sake of a merely vicarious adventure. What are the true poetries of shared feelings? Rancière points down the "long path of the dissimilar" (p. 67)? The poetry is not the dissimilar but the path.

What do we know through the poet? Whom do we know? A person not content to feel, but who must impart feelings.

Instead of translation and counter-translation I will speak of panecastic translation, a translation in which each party brings something to the work of translation. Panecastic translation is a dialogic breach, a working of the gap between feelings and expressions. Panecastic translation assumes that each and every utterance is translatable. It may then resemble a form of piracy.

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posted by Fido the Yak at 8:49 AM. 2 comments

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Through Sidedness

We must be grateful to Michael Tweed for his translation of Michel Henry's article, "What is Meant by the Word 'Life.'"

How can we place sidedness before appearing?

Let's try to think of throughness as four-dimensional, as temporally and spatially ex-tended. (Is this starting off on the wrong foot? Could we simply say that we want to imagine throughness as having to do with temporality and not mean something like see it as being extended through (ahem) time?) Does throughness have its sidedness, its hithers and yons, befores and afters? Does throughness pass through its own sidedness?

Can we think passage thoroughly without thinking it phenomenologically?

Henry, If I read him correctly, makes an argument for the transcendence of Life, which we glimpse in passing: "What does 'passing' signify if everything is here and does not cease to be here in the indissoluble bond of self-affection to itself, if what passes does not separate from itself, if what passes is life remaining in itself?" As I see it this thought is contradictory as long as Life is imagined to be invisible, as beyond appearance and therefore beyond sidedness–but I put forward this idea as a question because it appears as if serious thinkers (as Henry surely was) may be putting sidedness forward before phenomenality, and therefore transcendence before phenomenality, and I reckon there must be reasons for that, or some angle on it that I am not seeing.

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posted by Fido the Yak at 6:01 AM. 5 comments

Friday, June 20, 2008

Existence Says

Although we share vocabulary and interests, what I should want to say about language should not be confused with what Michel Henry says in "Material Phenomenology and Language (or, Pathos and Language)" (trans. Leonard Lawlor, Continental Philosophy Review 32:343-365, 1999).

There are no languages that we know of which are not languages of the world. This statement remains true under several different hypotheses about the world or different definitions of "world." The phenomenological epoché does not deny the existence of what is known in everyday speech as "the real world" or in some jargons as "the material world." The epoché merely suspends belief in "the real world," which is to say it delays answering a question of such a world's existence, a question of whether such a world might be the world, the world itself, or whether the things of and in this everyday world might possibly be the things themselves. This delay of the question about "the real world" does not mean that the epoché occurs in the absence of a world. The world that is given with phenomenality which appears through the epoché may be designated as the lifeworld–be warned: I am not reciting phenomenological doctrine here but rather offering an opinion. I have raised all kinds of questions about this phenomenal world and how it is given (for instance, might it be given as chaosmos), but, whatever its attributes or character, I am inclined to regard the world that is given with phenomenality as apodictic. Here today I might say "lifeworld" in contradistinction to Henry who radically opposes Life and world if only, perhaps, to radically unite them again. There should be no need for such gestures, and in fact if we agree to suspend the question of the existence/nonexistence of "the real world" then we can just say "world." Do we posit that this phenomenally given world is not given as dead? Apodicitity is in actuality tough to come by. Things (life, death) may be given meontically. There may or may not be such at thing as ontological difference, which may or may not matter phenomenologically. The agent of the epoché may be given as radically different from his or her phenomenal world, or the things given within this world, if or insofar as "things" are given as things. Notwithstanding these proliferating doubts, we can still talk about the worldliness of languages, and at the very least distinguish a meaningful sense of language from either Henry's dead language of the world or his autorevelatory language of Life.

Nominalization (or reference) hardly begins to describe what language does or is. Reference is petty. Unconcealing is petty. This judgment is the basis of my profound disagreement with Henry. The language of the world is not indifferent: not to the things it names, nor to the world, nor to speakers nor listeners, nor to itself, nor to the operations, feelings, entities, assemblages nor intertwinements it brushes up against. This is of course a crude way of phrasing things. There are languages and there are worlds, and before we can ever come to a question of whether a language is its own world, which may not be to say that it is enclosed or isolated, we stumble across the question of what a language is (or does). We should probably say "does" at this point to give speaking precedence over Speech or Language (*language) though it may raise a question of whether the epoché says anything, whether it is speaking or speech, the saying or the said or an altogether different sort of operation.

"Language does many things" is the ordinary way of saying that *language is an assemblage of a multitude of operations. However, the latter phrasing is far from adequate. Language does not assemble by any additive process, but rather it operates algebraically and reflexively, that is, it enables its algebra to be turned on itself, which is never merely a question of an ability to refer. Language multiplies differences. I won't say that's all it does because I don't want the discussion to devolve into pettiness. The key argument here is that language does many things.

Pace Henry the mode of appearance of the language of the world is pathetic, or passionate. Pathos is not self-centered. Although passions involve the self, we cannot arbitrarily discount the other-orientations of passions. Passions are indeed, among other things, other-oriented. They are, to use a word that must be used, interipseitious. When I say the language of the world is passionate, I mean the logos, and I can be taken to mean that philosophy is felt. The interipseity of philosophy means this: that one delights in sharing the love of knowledge. (NB: I imagine myself as optimistic, not stupid.)

Taste an epiphany: I hear your birth as saying, saying something to me if you must have objects. Therefore I wouldn't speak of the "noise of birth" nor would I separate the cry from the real language of the world. It is not for nothing that I hear your existence. In following Adrianna Cavarero's recovery of the logos as phone semantike through to a conclusion that "[h]earing consigns us to the world and its contingency" (For More than One Voice, p. 37), and going one step further, I am consigned to our contingency, yours and mine together, which is given with the world. This is of course a crude way of phrasing things. There are many contingencies, many of us, many wes. The modalities of consignment are surely multitudinous and multifarious as well. For all of the multiplicities I am no less passionately consigned to our world, contingent as it is, and to our contingencies.

I have delayed the question of whether our contingent world corresponds to "the real world." It ceases to press upon me. I don't doubt that you exist, though I might be curious to know how you exist.

Does existence speak through us or do we speak through existence? In any case we speak to each other. If I wanted to speak of the materiality of language I would be speaking of voices and the interipseitious world in which they are heard, of the passionate consignment to our world and to our contingency. But no doubt I would be talking to you. Feel me?

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posted by Fido the Yak at 12:05 PM. 3 comments

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Existence Peoples

Saying that people exist is almost like attributing a quality to them. It modifies existence, metasemantically, so to speak, which is how existence can come to be something like a quality. People exist suggests that existence is a potential which may or may not be activated, when in fact existence probably has an altogether different relation to activity. For some philosophical purposes, then, it would be better to say that existence peoples.

Perhaps it is only through its peopling that we can understand that existence peoples. That is, we may credit an existence that peoples with an anthropomorphism which we would ordinarily regard as our own, and this is how we begin to grasp its agency, such as it may be. This would be our limitation provided to us by existence, this anthropomorphism. But is this really the right word, anthropomorphism? Are people given as forms, or through forms? By saying that existence peoples aren't we attempting to say something like people are given through or as an activity of existence? Where do forms come in?

We might say that existence peoples epigenetically, in a movement from the amorphous, an emergence. Is the amorphous ever really shaken off by the living? Is a living form ever full?

We might also say that existence peoples phylogenetically, as it lives. Are we existents left to recapitulate, to inhabit forms handed down to us, or do we give epigenesis some fuller meaning, something even approaching transcendence? What is this living we are passing through?

We should reflect on transitivity, the through. Does it go to far to attribute agency to existence when all that we have said is that existence peoples? Who or what does existence people? What would be capable of being peopled? You? Me? Is the peopling of existence in fact reflexive? Does it pass through you and me only on its way to peopling itself? In that case would it be a proper it?

It must somehow be an error to think a pluralism of pluralities, to think existences as Existences. Consider these alternatives: existences people existences, existences people peoples; or, existence peoples existence, existence peoples people. Surely we are talking about *existence, a topic of conversation rather than existences themselves. Do we surrender to conversation? Is that a limitation provided to us by (*)existence? And yet, how do I presume to talk sensibly about the nonexistence of existence (in the singular)?

I see chaoses and things and people. Obviously existences have many modalities. Could existence be one of those modalities? Do existences single out?

What kind of relation is there between peopling and singling out? I venture to say it is a wild relation. There would be nothing necessary or essential about it. One thing I mean by saying that I do in fact see chaoses is that many if not most relations are wild relations, and sense bestowal is both limiting and limited. At the limits of sense bestowal existence peoples.

Whose limits are the limits of sense bestowal?

Sometimes I feel as if existence didn't people for me or through me or anyhow about me.

One can only commit to a personal philosophy. It doesn't come naturally, without reserve, without doubts. Do you suppose that existence is committed to you? I suppose you are committed to existence, but reasons for commitment are opaque to me. Does existence reciprocate commitments? Does existence people in order to reciprocate? Somehow I feel that would be a backwards reading, as if reciprocity were an accident of peopling. And commitment too were an accident.

Accidents happen at the limits of sense bestowal. We can only own them by an accident, or by a series of accidents: that existence peoples, that people reciprocate, that people commit. One can only commit to being given a gift, that is, to be given a gift one must give oneself to being with being given a gift, one must give oneself with giving. Is that asking too much of people? On the contrary, would it be asking too much for people to own commitment just like that without cause or reason, as if they were taking commitment from existence without acknowledging its having been given to them as people? (Yeah, yeah, the gift requires just such a taking.) Possibly many of your commitments will be met with ingratitude. People can be rough that way.

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posted by Fido the Yak at 11:14 AM. 0 comments

Monday, June 16, 2008


It's time to inquire whether one who is trapped within the imagined–neither the imaginary nor the imagination, but precisely the imagined–suffers. To be trapped is to suffer, one would think. But there are reasons to ask anyway. The idea that imagination both escapes from and enriches the concrete, that it opens the concrete up for experience, this idea which resembles a contradiction, or a chimera, a form generated from disparate codes: to think this idea is to be trapped inside the imagined. (I don't know if the imagined would even have sides were it not for this trapping.)

There will always be this possibility: that one never really escapes the concrete. Likewise there will always be the possibility that one never really dwells in the concrete, that the concrete is always in development, and is nothing like a ground. The operative notion then is escape. The concrete comes into existence by being escaped.

This paradox of coming into existence by being escaped, like these possibilities, is imagined. To experience the irreal in ignorance of the possible irreality of escaping the concrete involves mistaking the product of irrealizations for the activity of irrealization, or living within the product, the imagined. That's also a paradox, or so I imagine.

How is it possible for irrealization, that is, imagination, to know itself? Surely there's a reason for personifying this idea. Would we want to personify negation? Meonticity?

If imagination comes into existence by being escaped, then one could speak of being trapped in the imagination as readily as one could speak of being trapped in the imagined. At the risk of repeating myself, however, nobody is really trapped in such a situation as the former until after they've escaped, until they're already on the lam. To speak differently of being trapped in the imagined, the imagined would have to be given other than by escape. Conceivably the imagined is given most horribly, as a confinement, while the concrete would forever leap into existence, with its twin, the imagination, by escape.

To be trapped in the imagined means this: to be out of touch with concreteness, with contingency. Contingency is the very antithesis of entrapment. Is it on the same escape route as the twins, or does its path open up only after the twins have gone their separate ways?

To be imprisoned in my solitude is not the same as being alone in my aloneness. It is being out of touch in a way of being inside being out of touch. This is what is forced upon us as the imagined.

The imagined has a wide currency, virtually as wide as solitude. In being out of touch with contingency does one suffer? How would I know whom to ask?

Could the contingent possibly be enriched? On the contrary, could it be among those things that are replete? Sometimes I feel desperately out of touch with contingency. I wouldn't abandon the imagined without reason, without an ethic. How would an ethical impulse against entrapment by the imagined be shared?

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posted by Fido the Yak at 11:56 AM. 2 comments

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Origins of Questioning

I've been reading Oliver Sacks' Seeing Voices, a book about Sign and the psychic world of the deaf. Sacks mulls the importance of questioning to the intellectual development of the child. He says:

The orgin of questioning, of an active and questing disposition in the mind, is not something that arises spontaneously, de novo, or directly from the impact of experience; it is stimulated, by communicative exchange–it requires dialogue, in particular the complex dialogue of mother and child.

(pp. 64-65, Sacks' emphases)

Questioning therefore arises from ethical relations and is an ethics before it is an ontology or a question of being. Before I wade into what might be a minefield I want to step back and ask a few questions.

I'm inclined to think that Sacks is correct about the origins of questioning. What does that inclination say about my worldview? What beliefs or ideas would be implied in an acceptance of this proposition? Should I have some sort of commitment to these ideas? I'm more interested in commitments to ideas than in beliefs, but it will be no simple matter to wrest the two apart.

Though I resist committing to either materialism or idealism, an inclination to believe what Sacks is saying may imply a materialism, or at the very least beliefs that are anthropological or perhaps humanist in a special sense that would entail a belief in something like a material existence of the human. Let me elaborate.

Maybe we ought to tear apart Sacks' formulation bit by bit. He emphasizes dialogue. We may well be concerned here with a commitment to a dialogism. Dialogism implies that there exists something like language or logos. Maybe language can be conveniently separated from logos–after all one can talk about language in a language that bears no traces of ever having been influenced by ancient Greek, much less ancient Greek philosophy, and in Europhone universities one can study language scientifically in near total ignorance of ancient Greek philosophy. Perhaps, however, dialogism sneaks the logos into the study of language–if it weren't already there as a cryptid of university study, visible through a hypothetic egalitariscopy that puts the studied in dialogue (oops, circularity) with the student. Should you decide between saying "language" and "logos" without being able to describe what–if what is the right pronoun–you mean? I say "logos" to essay a meaning and suggest a vista. Perhaps the gesture continues a project of hypothetic egalitaroscopy which can be interrogated further at a later time. Let's keep our doubts about the logos committed to by dialogism and move forward.

Who speaks through the logos? Should we commit ourselves to throughness? Is this an instrumental or pragmatic worldview, or is there a specific mode of thinking the passage that we should want to explore?

Is there a question of people, or singular persons, communicating through the logos? On the surface we can't escape the conclusion that persons speak to each other in the complex dialogue Sacks is talking about. (Do they speak to each other before the logos is formed, while it is still in its infancy?) There is the mother, and there is the child, both of whom appear to represent persons. However, if we think in terms of a primary care giver, care givers or a relation of care–perhaps to speak of a mothering relation would fall within a recognizable comfort zone, though we should really want to expand our horizons here on the matter of kinship relations and child rearing–then Sacks' "complex dialogue" could be thought of as not requiring persons. On the other side of the equation we would then have an infancy relation, or dialogic relations from a position of infancy, and we absolutely should question how an entity dialoguing from a position of infancy would be a person, and what it might mean to be a person in infancy. (We won't forget Daniel Stern's admonition that the fact that the infant has no speech does not free us to assume that the infant is not a person who inhabits an interpersonal world.)

In thinking about infancy and dialogue, we should also be thinking about a theme Sacks discusses at modest length: the intergenerational aspect of language, which is namely the fact (see what we're doing here) that language wouldn't be what we know it to be in the absence of relations across generations. The generation is a sociological concept that implies the existence of people. Whether people imply the existence of persons is a question we will put on hold; at this second it is enough to examine the claim that people exist.

Well, it's not so easy to disentangle the person from the intergenerational aspect of language because what we are talking about is language learning, and, from Sacks' point of view, the psychological, which is to say intellectual, development of the human being. So a belief in psyches and intellects is very much a part of Sacks' worldview, and their existence may be implied by our inclination to think he's correct about the origins of the question. Can we imagine learning or something as technically defined as scaffolding (étayage perhaps) or even infancy as the position of the learner without believing in something like psychological development? How much learning is not intergenerational? How much learning flows from younger generations to older generations? These are empirical questions, I reckon, and to seriously ask them means committing to the idea that entities like people exist, however dynamically we might wish to conceive of them. (You may have already jumped to the point where I question whether ethics implies a belief in the existence of people; I guess I'll come to that in some fashion.) Philosophically, we should want to know whether learning can take place in the absence of people, persons, or psyches. I've underscored an idea of ability, which is I think critical to Sacks' worldview, and perhaps ours. Since we are talking about psyches and intellects we may want to keep in mind the question, empirical or philosophical, of whether abilities can exist in disembodied forms. Does the idea of a questing dis-position imply a reality that may or may not be be disembodied?

Let's briefly conceive of people dynamically. They exist relationally, which allows us to sensibly speak of society, social groups, or kinship. Their potential (we assume they are dynamic) is not realized in instants, but over time, and it itself develops over time. They also have a capacity to shape relations, and perhaps their own relationalities. They can narrowly attune their relations. They can intensify them, increasing their frequency, passion and kinetic energy. They can make selected relations more complex, and so Sacks speaks meaningfully of a complex relation between mother and child. People change; in concert with others they exercise some influence over the changes they undergo. What kind of change is the logos? Whence its dynamism?

Logos, throughness, care, infancy, learning, people, psyches, dynamism, dispositions: I commit to exploring these realities, though uncertainties abound.

I thought questioning is an ethics because of its origin; however, what if questioning has more than one origin? Should we speak of its origination, or must there only be one origin, one orient, one East, one Sun, one rising (ὄρνυσθαι)? The possibility that questioning is not like the sunrise, that it emerges from more than one source, more Jamestown than Plymouth and more both than either, should perplex us. In one sense questioning emerges from a perplication of care, and if we abandon our perplexity in response to questioning, or view the abandonment of perplexity as a specific aim of questioning, we risk instrumentalizing not only our own abilities, but a relation that doesn't completely belong to us, or that to the extent that it is in fact within our power, was given to us in a spirit that would be violated were we to abandon perplexity, much less take on a disposition against perplexity. At this point it is really throughness that we should want to understand. How should we live throughness?

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posted by Fido the Yak at 10:47 AM. 0 comments

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Chaconne: Body through which the dream flows

Mikhail pointed to a performance of John Adams' Violin Concerto by Leila Josefowicz. I was nearly enraptured at several points, and rather taken in by the second movement, Chaconne: Body through which the dream flows. Adams describes his chaconne as more enclosed than the D minor Chaconne of Bach, as "a kind of dreamy, filmy, almost diaphanous slow movement." He remains ambivalent about it and doesn't intend to compose any more chaconnes. What draws me into the movement is the ground bass and the distance that opens up between the violin and the orchestra, a middle space reserved for listening, for thinking or for dancing.

Adams gives his thoughts on pulsation. He says at one point in the interview, "the world of intricate polyrhythms is often more hypothetical than real." This sounds pretty abstract to me. However, he turns around and says:

I’m trying to find ways to enrich the experience of perceiving the way time is divided. I’ve never been interested in music that denies pulsation. You can tell me that a Carter work has pulsation and it’s just a very abstracted pulsation, but I’m sorry …if I can’t hear pulsation, if I can’t feel it, then for me it doesn’t exist. It may exist theoretically, but for me it's not there. I need to experience that fundamental tick. What I’m trying to do now is enrich that experience.

Now, I vaguely recall Philip Glass saying something about a difficulty he had in communicating musically with Ravi Shankar, and how it had to do with his (Glass's) assumption that one divides rather than multiplies or adds time. Adams again:

[W]hat I do like about my chaconne treatment, despite the fact that it keeps closing in on itself, is that once it begins mutating, it produces some deeply disturbing events. It is like some piece of kinetic sculpture or a clock that normally functions in a regular, predictable, reassuring, comforting manner, over and over again to the point where one is almost lulled to sleep. Then it suddenly begins to go awry, starts going into very strange modal areas, starts to experience arhythmia, begins to behave in a dreamlike, irrational manner. It becomes Salvador Dali's clock. What happens above the chaconne line, with all these figures whose rhythm is either augmented or diminished, causes a constant sense of overlapping and for me an interesting dissonance to this kind of clockwork ostinato.

Recently I've been giving thought to whether we should want to think (philosophically) with dance as a partner. When we think about pulsation should we want to allow for a choreography? A chora? Orchestrics: Body through which the dream flows. Balance those out.

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posted by Fido the Yak at 3:01 PM. 0 comments

Reading ,Thinking and Blogging

I was emailed an article about how the internet changes the way we read and think. The author, Nicholas Carr, credits Maryanne Wolf with the idea that deep reading is indistinguishable from deep thinking. I yahooed Wolf and found that she took part in an interesting radio discussion which I'm listening to now. Hmm. I am optimistic about thinking with the net.

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posted by Fido the Yak at 12:29 PM. 0 comments

Monday, June 09, 2008

Out of }∅{ a Depth

The first skoppic principle (relational architecture) is the breach. As we have seen, the skoppic function transposes a breach of skipping around from the axle tree of the synkairotic to the axle tree of the syntagmatic (syntactic yada yada syntactile yada yada syntacit yada yada }∅{). The }∅{ heralds the Fa Passage between atonicities, the pure diatessarial leap, delfYan sunflower in the myrrour of myrrours, the plagiodelphic breach again }∅{ again. "A monad is the semblance of a world," Massumi says, to which a proper reply might be "}∅{." }∅{ stands for a representation of the breach (transposed into the diatessarial, the mode of its standing for). It is of course the empty set that excludes no members; remember, this is all about shape.

The sheer volume of what is excluded from the breach compels us to imagine a reality without any breaches, as we might imagine Reality without the Unicorn, or more multiversally as we might imagine a reality without a selected molecule of H2O. Well, the ways of irreality are limitless. I won't pretend otherwise. As I picture it, a world without breaches would be a quiet world, a world without spasms, without startles of any note. The reality that pertains to the breach, insofar the breach is pertained—actually it's eminently, if paradoxically, pertained by its own }{—is a spasmoreality. A spasmoreality contains an irreality in a special sense of holding with; it holds with irreality by holding an opening for irreality. Here we are talking about the myrrour of the spasmoreality; spasmorealities as they are lived hold a multitude of openings for irrealities. We should have a precise understanding of reality at this juncture. Reality is the sense of a world's duration (with this necessary proviso: we have no reason to believe that continuity covers all the possibilities of duration). The spasmomonde is the world whose sense of duration is characterized by the startle, or by startles. Picture a world without starts, a dead world. This is the kind of world bracketed out by the breach (and its representations); well this is a paradox (which won't be discussed away) not the least of which because the dead world also pertains to the breach by the same logic that anything pertains the breach, and hence as the spasmoreal and its worlds pertain to the breach. I won't say the spasmoreal and the thanatoreal pertain equally to the breach. How could I know such a thing? A thanatomonde may also describe a world without causality. Ideally, causality should be able to be startled. The reality pertaining to which causalities may be startled must by definition be a spasmoreality. We mustn't make the mistake of thinking that the spasmoreal opposes the thanatoreal or contains it in any sense other than the sense of holding an opening for it. If we could read backward from the diatessarial (and everything that relates to, everything it elapses) into the synkairotic we would see that the breach holds an opening for itself—its opportunism does not stop at itself, but only startles, which is how it carries half the synkairotic into the breach, as a startle. It's not as if the breach had a reality and its reality were spasmoreality; spasmoreality merely pertains. One might object that thanatoreality also pertains to the breach. What is special about spasmoreality's pertaining to the breach, or to a reality of startled causation? Thanataoreality pertains only through the breach. It has not other avenue of pertinence. Spasmoreality we can't be sure of. It pertains to the breach, and through the breach, but whether it follows other avenues of pertinence is not yet clear. It may be something of a flâneur. How does it pertain? If the reality of startled causation is also a spasmoreality, there is then a sense in which spasmoreality appears to pertain by doubling, which may be autoreplication, or some more familiar form of reproduction. Familiar words spring to mind, but we should be wary of thinking they describe the spasmoreal: viral, virtual, simulacra. Spasmoreality is not genuinely familiar. Probably it doubles itself by a process of meontic renewal, having one flipper periodically/at all times in irreality. However, we would never become aware of inhabiting a thanatomonde did it not pertain to the breach (as well as through the breach). An equality of pertinence can never be excluded from possibility, that is, from spasmoreal possibility most broadly conceived; more narrow ideas of possibility may bypass such an equality altogether. We must be able to imagine that a possibility may be seen merely in its thanatic aspect, or through its thanatognomic signs, even though they will appear to us as dead only by way of the breach, which, in a sense, holds thanatoreality up to its myrrour. The challenge, in the breach, is to discern living relation from revivifying dead relation, or, in an objective mode, the startle from the twitter of a dry nerve. Intuitively this is known by explorers of the spasmomonde and its doubles, which is why the rampike becomes a potent symbol, as delfYan zombies haunt the passageways.

"Kojima is on to something." The words recur. It would be eight kinds of wrong to believe that shape belongs exclusively to the sharing of opportune moment and all that signifies. Shape pertains to the passage between the synkairotic and the }∅{—and so we begin to imagine that the breach doesn't contain everything, that its reality isn't the spasmoreality of all spasmorealities, or any manner of real synthesis of all that lives and dies. There is this business of the from/to structure of experience, or movement of experience, that we can use to characterize the breach. Does it belong to the breach? Is from/to autospastic? Why study the gift? I reckon we shouldn't want to mystify, though there may be depths to plumb, nuances to unwrap, gestures to perfect. The gift requests a certain latitudinarianism. If the breach comes with a from/to, does it wipe the from/to away? Does it send it back?

Shape is given with the movement from the synkairotic to the }∅{; shape is given with the world. We remain totally within the realm of phenomenality, perhaps a lived phenomenality. (There are many sad clowns in the realm of phenomenality; oh well.) I've been saying "spasmomonde" as if its world could be defined by a certain sense of its duration, while it remains possible that a nonsense relation obtains between a world and its duration. If a spasmomonde were characterized by a nonsense of duration, its reality would have to be something other than spasmoreality properly conceived. I'm not persuaded that most spasmorealities aren't in fact improper, and in that sense the myrrour of spasmoreality may well be improper. As I see it a nonsense of duration is thanatognomic (which is why I would caution against allowing virtuality and its cousins to be thought yet). Spasmoreality holds an opening for irreality, and by the same gesture it holds an opening for thanatoreality, though it does not contain thanatoreality in any but this highly special sense, and if we find better ways of talking about continence and pertinence we should jump ship. This holding of openings is what allows shape to be presented, or to present itself, if that's what it does. In any case shape is never given by itself, but always with the world, and never in a vacuum, or what amounts to the same thing, in a dead living space, a space of dead things and furnitures, but always in the passage from the synkairotic to the }∅{, or, as may equally be the case according to the logos of the skop, the passage from }∅{ to the synkairotic, which may indeed be the originary passage, if the breach has an originary—of course we have our doubts.

Could there be a given world given with no shapes, not one measly shape? This is like asking whether there can be a world of no duration. The difference between not having any duration and not being able to make sense of a duration is inconceivably close to pure difference. Is from/to a shape? Is the breach? Always we are able to look at things sideways. Shape however is not what it appears to be seen only from a profile or an aspect; shape always has in its appearance a from-the-inside which makes it shape. We want to know shape in, or better, through the breach. Shape startles. Only a spasmoreality could hold an opening for that which is mondial by neither excluding nor containing worlds, that is, by the breach. Such is shape.

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posted by Fido the Yak at 10:41 AM. 0 comments

Friday, June 06, 2008


News of a journal called infleXions comes by way of Esmail's blog. Brian Massumi's contribution invites us to think again about the behind of things. Here's a sample:

[T]o see an object is to see volume. We don’t infer volume. We see the voluminousness of an object, directly and immediately, without having to think about it. We don’t say to ourselves: “let’s see, there’s a surface facing me, I would wager that there is a backside to it, which means it’s a 3D object, and therefore I could walk around it and see and touch the other side.” We don’t say this to ourselves because we don’t say anything to ourselves. We just see. We see what’s before us directly and immediately as an object. We see the “backedness” of it without actually seeing around to the other side. That’s precisely what makes it a perception of an object, rather than a deduction about a surface. We are really but implicitly – abstractly – seeing the object’s voluminousness. The perceived shape of an object is this abstract experience of volume. Part of it, anyway, because we also directly and immediately see an object’s weightiness. For example, We see weightiness through texture. Voluminousness and weightiness are not in themselves visible. But we can’t not see them when we see an object. In fact, we see them in the form of the object. Form is full of all sorts of things that it actually isn’t -- and that actually aren’t visible. Basically, it’s full of potential. When we see an object’s shape we are not seeing around to the other side, but what we are seeing, in a real way, is our capacity to see the other side. We’re seeing, in the form of the object, the potential our body holds to walk around, take another look, extend a hand and touch. The form of the object is the way a whole set of active, embodied, potentials appear in present experience: how vision can relay into kinesthesia or the sense of movement, and how kinesthesia can relay into touch. The potential we see in the object is a way our body has of being able to relate to the part of the world it happens to find itself in at this particular life’s moment. What we abstractly see when we directly and immediately see an object is lived relation – a life dynamic. Once again, we don’t see it instead of what we think of as being the actual form of the object. We’re seeing double again. But this time, we’re seeing the actual form “with and through” that set of abstract potentials. The reason we’re directly seeing an object and not just a surface is because we can’t not see what we’re seeing without also experiencing voluminousness and weightiness – the object’s invisible qualities. Seeing an object is seeing through to its qualities. That’s the doubleness: if you’re not qualitatively seeing what isn’t actually visible, you’re not seeing an object, you’re not seeing objectively.

(Massumi's emphases)

So, recalling Kojima's position on the matter, we now have two alternative ways, which may not be mutually exclusive, of understanding how we know, insofar as we can we say that we do know any such thing, that things have behind: (1) we know things have behinds because we live in an intersubjective world; (2) we know things have behinds because we live in a virtual world. There's a path that would dispense with the world altogether: behinds are given because we live intersubjectively or because we live virtually. However, I want to take some weight off the living entity and see if the world can carry it. Here are two alternatives: form is given with the world; shape is given with the world—I'll pick this up later.

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posted by Fido the Yak at 5:09 PM. 2 comments

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Autant d’Apparaître, Autant d’Être

How does the philodendron on the shelf behind me exist? What's its phenomenality, if we can think about it that way? We've touched up against the idea that being and appearance coincide once or twice or more, but it's never been settled in my mind how this idea should be thought, much less how it might be critiqued. One flight path leads us to lived experience, well conceived, leaving us within the borders of a phenomenology though perhaps poised for a second departure into cosmobiology, or it leads us to the experience of living, which may take us beyond any phenomenology without fuss or pomp. May. Now let's look at how Michel Henry goes at the coincidence of being and appearance in his lapidary essay "Phenomenology of Life" (trans. Nick Hanlon, Angelaki, vol. 8, No. 2, August 2003, pp. 97-110). He says:

Another primary intuition of phenomenology is that appearing is more essential than being; it is only because it appears that a thing is able to be. To express this with Husserl, using a formula borrowed from the Marburg School (which I modify slightly): "Something is inasmuch as it appears [Autant d’apparaître, autant d’être]." I carry this precedence of phenomenology over ontology one step further by saying that it is only if the appearing appears in itself and as such that something, whatever it may be, can in turn appear, can show itself to us.

(p. 100)

I don't know French so I couldn't tell you the difference between the formulas "autant d’apparence autant d’être" and "autant d’apparaître, autant d’être," nor could I speak to differences between apparaître and comparaître, nor to similarities between disparaître and transparaître, nor to what any of this would have to do with reparaître, which may well be a final destination, though I won't cease to question it. Since Henry mentions the Marburg School I'll take this opportunity to reiterate that in my exploration of the experience of living the transcendental remains on hold, at least until I can figure out what it might mean, much in the same way the ontological difference remains on hold, though to be perfectly honest I've leaned against affirming any such thing. As I interpret this position, Henry is in fact giving precedence to phenomenality over phenomena and beings (phenomena-and-beings). So what meaning would be left for a coincidence of being and phenomenon?

When phenomenologists talk about consciousness—phenomenality is indeed about consciousness, about a grasping of Etwas als Etwas—we may be asked to set aside ordinary, psychologistic notions of subjectivity, interiority and such in light of this phenomenological understanding of the intentionality of consciousness. Well, is there anything about phenomenality that would compel us to hitch our wagons to transcendentalism? I'll tell you where Henry is going with this thinking about a phenomenology of life. He says, "no life can appear in the appearing of the world" (p. 101). Quite a claim. We'll look at his special definition of "life" in a moment, but I'd like to back up just a jot to see what pushes this idea forward. Henry says, "The very possibility of phenomenality becomes problematic if the principle of phenomenality escapes its grasp" (ibidem). Ah hah! Phenomenality has a grasp! On this much I can agree with Henry. But what is this notion of needing to grasp a principle (ἀρχή)? What could be prior to grasping and still remain with the realm of the phenomenal, or within phenomenality? Would the lifeworld be exactly a principle? In any case, Henry alerts us to a pitfall we should wish to avoid: reflexivity of consciousness leading to an infinite and ultimately pointless regression of consciousness about consciousness and so on. I should quote Henry more fully:

[H]ow does the intentionality which shows or makes visible every thing reveal itself to itself? Could it be by directing a new intentionality upon itself? If so, can phenomenology avoid the bitter destiny of that classical philosophy of consciousness which finds itself bound in an endless regression, obliged to place a second consciousness behind the knowing consciousness (in our case a second intentionality behind the one that we are attempting to wrest from obscurity)? Or else does a mode of revelation exist other than the showing of intentionality, in which phenomenality would no longer be that of the outside? Phenomenology has no answer to this question.

(ibidem, my bold)

Let's think about new intentionalities. Is (re)birthing a happy alternative to regression? (The idea of a rebirth is so fraught with connotations I'll briefly reaffirm my agnosticism, whether or not it matters much.) Is birthing an arche? Would it be transcendental birth and only transcendental birth that requires a grasp of its arche? Oh, the betrayals that follow from first principles. Would anarchic rebirthing really be any more or less of a betrayal of birth than transcendental birth is? Who gave birth to beyond? Would it be a betrayal of grasp to have no beyond, or, alternatively, to remove beyond from reach? Is the "I can" capable of comprehending all of the new intentionalities who are born? Does birth exhaust life?

This is what Henry says:

For we too are born of absolute Life. To be born does not mean to come into the world. Things appear for an instant in the light of the world before disappearing into it. Things are not "born." Birth concerns only living beings. And for these living beings, to be born means to come to be as one of these transcendental living Selves that each of us is. It is solely because we have first come into life that we are then able to come into the world.

(pp. 104-105)

Henry's thinking about life leads us to a familiar conundrum: in his view either my philodendron has feelings or it is not living. Indeed, he says "all modalities of life. . . are affective at their root" (p. 105). The thought seduces the existentialist side of the psyche, but doesn't stand up to scrutiny. Henry takes from biology's difficulty in pinning down what exactly life means an opportunity to put forward a radical alternative:

[T]he appeal to sensation which can alone give access to reality hides within it an appeal to life, that is, to a radically different mode of appearing. Life is phenomenological through and through. It is neither a being [étant] nor a mode of being [être] of a being. This is not the life about which biology speaks. To tell the truth, modern biology no longer speaks about life. Since the Galilean revolution its object has narrowed to material processes compatible with those studied by physics. As François Jacob expresses it: "In today’s laboratories one no longer enquires about life."

(pp. 102-103)

Henry moves quickly from life as phenomenological to life as transcendental and absolute, from an idea of autorevelation to one of autodonation: "Absolute life is life which has the power to bring itself into life. Life "is" not, it happens and does not cease happening" (p. 104). However much we might want to run with an idea of ceaseless happening, we should be careful that we aren't betraying something or somebody we'd rather remain true to. Ourselves perhaps. Perhaps not. Isn't autodonation a poor substitute for birth—Hi, mom!—or indeed for donation?

Now I'm going to turn my thoughts to the philodendron on the shelf behind me, to its phenomenality, and to its appearance or lack thereof in my theatre of the phenomenal. I reckon there may be some slippage in the coincidence of the being and the appearance of the philodendron, because I don't maintain doubts about its existence when my eyes are turned away from it. I expect it to be there when I turn around. A wee bit of appearance seems to count for plenty of being—but what is a plenitude of being? Is appearance pregnant with being? Phenomenality? Timing. We have to have something like a synkairotic to allow the philodendron to have its say in our habits of phenomenality. Not that it says much. Maybe a wee bit. I don't know. Now I am suspicious of a perfectly synchronous coincidence of being and appearance.

To begin to answer my original question, how does philodendron on the shelf behind me exist? Not all at once. If becoming by birth is a how of its existence, the coincidence of this how with the how of its appearing would be synkairotic.

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posted by Fido the Yak at 1:57 PM. 0 comments

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Ripple and Howl

Simha Arom agrees with Jean Molino's definition of the musical: "Whenever sound is shaped and recognised by a culture, it is musical" (quoted in African Polyphony and Polyrhythm, p. 147). By this definition we could, though it would run counter to the task Arom has appointed to himself, hear language as musical. We would stumble into trouble on a few points, for instance on the question of differentiating language from culture, which might also call into question the differentiation of language from music and with that the whole project of differentiation, perhaps especially as it is conducted in tandem with a project of thinking by analogy, or amidst analogy.

Sometimes every word is troubling. I probe into words and wonder about the transmiguration of forms and also their persistence (and also the and also), and I do so, in part, because words are tools I think with, and perhaps that gives me trouble. I am troubled by thinking with. What does it mean to think with, or to think by? Thinking about thinking with, in a wee hour, a bout of psychasthenia welcomes another inhabitant of the horizon of thinking. Is this the figure of a muse? Trouble itself? A list of troubles: music, culture, recognoscence, shape, sound.

The musical. You could hardly be blamed for objecting to the personification of thought's other, or, whether or not it means the same thing, its with. (Before we cast ourselves as the feminine of thought, a distinct alternative, we should settle the matter of personification.) We don't yet know what a sonus is, so perhaps it's premature to think of carrying it through, though we may yet find ourselves doing something like that, carrying a sound through to music, or possibly by music. (The interchangeability of by and with?)

Does music call forth sound? Sound may have its own raisons d'être, but what are its reasons for being musical, for being shaped and recognized by a culture as such? Does music dramatize? Does it have its theatre of the labyrinthine and its masks, for perhaps resonance is the destination of sonance and also its journey and its origination, a calling forth. Music's calling forth of sound would be less spectacular than Dionysian, we can imagine, but nevertheless it plays in the same amphitheatre as spectacle and also chorus, the double theatre, the labyrinth of threads and dancers. Its purpose obscure, its dramaturgy amounts to this: a calling forth to airs. The singer's mask, the resonance with listeners and listening, what Nancy refers to as the whole articulatory cinema of the voice (which we insist on calling its theatre, sung and staged before it is cut up and framed, but, here Nancy is most insightful, drawing the face), which is not around the face like an atmosphere, but labyrinthine, that is to say connected to the hip bone, to the knee bone, to the ankle bone to the ball of the big toe, grounded in poises: airs. A ball of airs: entrée, adagio, variations, coda. The disco of words (poussette of the breath) never ceases to astonish, to vary forms that defy pronunciation and at the same time rasp true: larynx (λάρυγξ), diaphragm (δια- + φράγμα), a form which invites us to anatomize the ancient, phrenes (φρένες), and hence phrenasthenia, a weakness of frenzy, of the Dionysian, or of Mynde, a coming unpoised, disequipoise—how quickly the figures recompose themselves.

Culture (adagio). The truth of culture is that it is not a person. To even call it an it is deceptive. Were we to conceive of culture as an it, as a neutral person, we would recognize a defining characteristic: it takes its time. What we affectionately think of as ancient Greek civilization is still becoming civilization, still becoming Greek, still becoming ancient. It takes its time. It veritably drawls. We speak of cult-ure (Kult-ur, though we might have to reclaim a meaning) to call attention to, rather than an instance of caring, an activity of care, an activity that extends even beyond the seasonal, though we can use the seasonal to remind us of the time it takes, to get a foothold on what it means to take time, what it means to till. To think by culture is to become a witness to the intermarriage of the fast and the slow, and to let things into and out of our hands. Culture is not nurturing. It has no womb, no matrix, no biomechanical integuments of its own. It is precisely nurtural. It is in our hands, and, alternatively, out of our hands, or so to speak. It can't be dissociated from passage. That is, it takes its time.

Recognoscence. You know the dilemma. You recognize it. To know is already to know with, already and also again. Turn it on itself again: to recognize is already and also again to recognize by culture. How will you recognize the muse?

Shape. Would a departure here be on a theme of variations? Depart we must. The thought must occur that plasticity itself is a metaphor—feel free to worry about which way the action flows, about what it means to shape by culture. Let's leave form aside for a moment and pla-y with shape. To shape is to skop, and it is skopping (the activity of skops, commonly misspelt as scops) that nurtures its meaning. (Is skopping an end in itself? Wait, please.) Perhaps to nurture is to blur a line between helping along and allowing to be; perhaps it strikes a balance. The skop steps out of the synkairotic, skip skop, and so gives passage to it. The skop becomes, through donation, all about passage, passage through and through. The skop is all over that thing, a virtuoso of passages.

Sound is how we know the world has depths—or, rather, before we can know what a world might be, sound is how we know depths. It would be stupid to consign sound to surfaces, though it would be equally stupid to deny the surfaces their due. Sound unravels the how of depths. The howl is the sound of sounds on the slow, the slow tongue. The slow tongue calls forth the drawl, the ripple of the howl. Does the howl have a bottom? What is the nurture of our inquiry? To hear the howl of existence in a ripple, to know disturbance at its reaches: to sound sound as a double resonance, without priors, a true rap. It was already and also again called forth by passage, the door held open by the figure of the skop, and maybe in that double theatre the figure was doubled too, and you could feel the vibration of trouble itself. Sound.

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posted by Fido the Yak at 10:31 AM. 0 comments