“I’m so bored. I hate my life.” - Britney Spears

Das Langweilige ist interessant geworden, weil das Interessante angefangen hat langweilig zu werden. – Thomas Mann

"Never for money/always for love" - The Talking Heads

Thursday, April 30, 2009

making my bed of snow


And you wrap up his tired face in your hair
and he hands you the apple core


I’ve been contemplating my posts on Foucault. I like trying to combine thinking and writing in the daily format, where the writing is all about having no shock absorbers, and the longer term project, where all arguments, rhetorical feints, themes, tropes, tricks, hedges, and surprises have been milled through the thick shadow of reflection. The shadow I cast inside, my beloved, the shadow that no sunlight reaches, but only a lunar and lunatic glitter.

The Buddhists are right to compare the mind to a monkey.

So I’ve been contemplating my posts on Foucault with the shock of thinking through the Other, basso profundo O, that German import. I came upon this truth before I understood its meaning – which is of course the method of the monkey, the illuminated monkey. Although am I really saying anything more, deviating from the standard intellectual history that would make Hegel’s dialectic between the master and the servant a founding moment of our modernity?

If, however, we look at the Other as part of a system that unfolds as the human limit is dissolved and human finitude becomes the ground of the possibility of thought (which are not contradictory moments, but moments that express the two fold nature of man’s domination of the world, the wedding of the universal and universal history), then Hegel’s story is not of a struggle for recognition, but a story of new limits. We pass in review the savage, the animal, the slave, the woman, the proletariat, the peasant – and we find the faces, the many faces, of Nemesis, for this is the space into which this review is invited. It is here that alienation from the culture of happiness and the humanization of the world has its redoubt.

I cannot say, beforehand, that there is some incommensurability between Man and these losers. I suspect infection, however.

But to return to Foucault – I do not so much doubt the rupture Foucault describes as the linearity of the units he is using to describe it – the age, the epoch, the century, the ‘occidental’ culture. I prefer the move that Foucault makes in the seventies – where these unities are dissolved into fronts, mobile, diffuse, often overrun. It is the unities that Foucault is using, which come from the stock of universal history, which often make the reader of Les Mots et Les Choses –especially if that reader is even more a reader of the White Mythology – pause. A false sound comes from the bell.

The Other comes in bits and pieces – there’s no invention of it here, no sudden act of creation. That is simply the impression one gets from the point of view of universal history. Suddenly, a specter is haunting Europe. The Other is not so much resistant to the grid of the Great Tradition, with its obsessive knowing, than invisible to it. The Other, in other words, finds itself in another zone, a zone defined by the adventurer – by the possibility of adventure. In the world of the Great Tradition, adventure dissolves and is allocated to other vocations; in the world of the Little Tradition, the adventurer is a threat, either for good – the saint – or for evil – the witch. But the adventurer has his or her own zone, a zone under the sign of discovery, and here communication is, at its most primary, the exchange of intersignes.

Is this what I meant?

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

LI, I'm not going to be presumptuous enough to try and answer your last question. But I have been thinking of your lines: "In the world of the Great Tradition, adventure dissolves and is allocated to other vocations; in the world of the Little Tradition, the adventurer is a threat, either for good – the saint – or for evil – the witch. But the adventurer has his or her own zone, a zone under the sign of discovery, and here communication is, at its most primary, the exchange of intersignes."

I wonder if communication at it's most primary might not just be about the exchange of intersigns but perhaps a sharing of songs. Which is not without its threats either - good and evil, saints and angels, witches and devils, that bear one off to who knows where.

Le premier mai. According to some histories, this was the date when seafarers would go to sea. As you know, le premier mai is also called la fête du travail here. Which is quite the phrase. Anyway, I'm not going to go off here on vocation and fête and work. I'll just link to some music as greetings, as I am going to spend the day singing in the streets with others.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ppxDoitJgUQ

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U4PeiA3IGas

Amie

N Pepperell said...

No time lately for posting or commenting - still trying to dig myself out from under too many "official" writing commitments lately (note to self: never again...). So apologies for the lack of substance: just - this is beautiful...

roger said...

NP - I'm totally touched! High praise coming from you!
Amie, hmm, you are going to have to sing at least one song for me! That is, in my place. Please, please.

Tonight - after a month of exhausting work and a near contact with the zona - I can't take it anymore. I'm going to watch the Last Supper, the Cuban film which is about the brutal conjunction of master and slave under the auspices of, well, the Last Supper. Which, according to Novalis, is the metaphor of metaphors - we all drink each other's blood and eat each other's flesh.

We'll see.

roger said...

PS - NP, after digging yourself out of your duties, man, I wish you would do what you said, once, you were thinking of doing and write some stuff about vulgarity in Marx. If you are taking requests!

N Pepperell said...

yes! I might well feel like a bout of vulgarity once I finish my current round of work :-)

Really looking forward to blogging again very soon - been missing it a great deal... Also need to do it, to process some things that have been tickling at the back of my thoughts...

Really looking forward to the end of this bout of work...