Archive for July, 2012

Rose for Emily (and Euphoric Reading)

July 28, 2012

This may sound obvious, but I don’t think it is: Rose for Emily is about victory. This is one of those things that allows me to recognize a kindred spirit: the combination of bitterness and euphoria. Now, the townspeople look to Emily as a kind of primal figure, a reputation that Emily, oddly enough, lives up to. But her position is a chance also to *rewrite* the truth, the origin, the primal. Let’s observe that the townspeople consider it a success too, they have gathered around and found what they were looking for: some sort of novelty of primitivism — but this is not all that important and very different from Emily’s victory.

Now, Emily has in fact a great deal in common with the townsfolk, she is also seeking the primitive. Her victory is not really the ‘punch line’ at the end of the book, but rather, has to do with her sustenance or her life. Basically, she wins if she is independent, if she can live independently of the loops of the world she abandons. At the same time, this corresponds to a truth or a discovery: well, truth in two distinct senses: the truth of history and the truth which is *planted there*, the truth of the primality of the subconscious event rather than the material, ie, truth-writing.

The victory, then, also occurs in two senses: the victory that *negates* the subconsciousness so prevalent, and the victorious hunt, the moment of euphoria. It remains simply to ask what this success is, what we referred to in the last post as the ‘Hunt-Wild-Event’ complex.  TBC!!

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Anti-Honesty

July 27, 2012

This is something I have written in my notes, just to whet the our appetite: “Literature is nothing.”

This is kind of stupid, since we’re using scare-words. But that is good enough for my notes, the idea there I find striking. Literature is something that is certainly real and whole to us, we would rather say that it is “volatile”, that it is capable of shifting in meaning and function. But our overall task is really to write a history where everything goes through literature, where literature is basically a “site” and no more. We’re really saying that literature is not a “component”, we proposed a “componential history” in the previous note. We’ve spoken about a few components: the hunt (that is, the search for an origin, based on our distance or absence from the origin), the wild (the place where our hunt is stressed, distorted). But literature is not a component, it is place where things pass through, it is sort of a frozen moment. It is not volatile because it is not whole, ie, it is not a whole thing that shifts or moves as a unit.

But there is a third component, which we have long been thinking about, which is “the event”. Literature is the place of an event, and this is because it is material. Hunt, wild, and event / material, that is basically the three components that we want to work with, and literature is that which lies in the space between the three. I think this thought is striking, since we tend to start with the notion that literature is “something”. This is really a methodological principle.

I became more convinced of these ideas after reflecting on this notion: the fascination with the volatility of literature is very recent, very new. We hesitate to call it an actual historical event — it probably isn’t. But for the bulk of history literature was certainly simply a tool or a place. When people sought the origin, they “happened upon” a a solution which literature provided, but which is obviously not the book itself, but rather something contained in the book or referenced by the book. The event, and not the book, whose materiality is obvious but inconsequential, is what is lasting, a “component”.

“Anti-honesty” is the attempt to link two things:

1) the componential history, the three components of history — remember, these are not analytic components, not components with which we can analyze the present. The present is not really our concern, but rather, they are the three components of “the book of love” which we are trying to write, ie, of a history of, well, romantics, you can call it, but really, the only possibility of a “non-materialistic, non-humanistic” history.

2)  — well, let me first start by saying that the idea that we aren’t talking about “analytic” components is important. Literature must not be understood too precisely, emphasis on the “must not” (ie, it can be). Precision is related to our “volatile” from earlier. “Honesty” is that which characterizes the hunt for an origin understood conventionally, thus, it is also an error since it always ends up understanding literature as something. But we cannot be “negative Nancys”, that is, we have to approach this with a position of our own — albeit a negative one — and not simply correct the errors of others. The idea of “negativity” and “a positive position of our own” is not incompatible, it is referred to in the word “anti-“, and this is what “anti-honesty” refers to.

Thus, to continue, anti-honesty is the attempt to link a componential history to a specific reading. The hunt of honesty is actually itself componential as well, since at the very least it focuses on the event rather than the volatility of the book. But this event is, well, not of interest to us. Rather, we are interested in — TBC

The Components of History

July 26, 2012

History is a lot more disjoint that I had thought. I’ve only recently realized that the insights we reach are in fact mostly independent of the path we take to reach it. There are basically a few major components I can think of right now:

1) The Hunt — This is our removal from the origin, our difference from the origin. By the hunt, I mean mostly, our search for the origin. Maybe we can think of it like a search for “honesty”, a search for the truth, the attempt to write the book of love, etc.

2) The wild — “There are no dogmatists in the wild” (borrowing that cliche regarding atheists and foxholes) was an expression I coined, the wild is the place where the hunt takes place, it is not simply the text. If hunt is that which seems to structure our entire lives, then it takes place in the wild in which dogmatism cannot be maintained, as there is an underlying honesty to the hunt.

3) The Event — This is what we have found or think we find. A work, such as a poem, for example, could be an event, or it could be some technology that guides the hunt, etc., is something that houses an event.

The big idea here is that the hunt, wild, and event are in fact “componential” or independent. For example, we would like to think that our hunt guides us — but no, when we hunt, we step into the wild, and the wild seems to take over. The idea that there are no dogmatists in the wild speaks of the way in which the wild plays upon our assumptions going into it, so that there is an interaction between the hunt and the wild, the wild transforms it.

But mainly we want to talk about the event, or rather, let’s further subdivide (3) into two things:

1) The Volatile Work & 2) The dismembered work

… which are sort of opposing principles. All art is “volatile”, and this is a characteristic that we’ve known for a long time but initially considered it merely as “ambiguity”. A work of art could obviously mean many things, it can quickly go from saying one thing to saying the opposite. Here, we mainly want to think about the relationship between the work, the hunt, and the wild. The work is not necessarily the object of the hunt, it could aid the hunt, it could — like Buddhist koans or something — be a point of meditation. Speaking frankly, the work could very well be independent of the hunt in the sense that “it’s just what we do” — we write, or we paint, etc. etc.. So volatility is a corollary of “componentization” since it’s basically the thinking of the shifting relationship between independent elements work, hunt, wild.

Second, there is the dismembered work. The volatile work is still fairly holistic. In thinking about the dismembered work, we wish to think about the possibility of (1) the independence of insight and (2) the — as always — the historical importance of insight.

The independence of insight should be a surprising thing, it is what one would call a “flashy claim” or a controversial claim, it is the claim that the insight is independent of the path we take to reach it. But this would not be all that substantial a claim if we were merely talking about an illusion.

But what we call “insight”, the object which the hunt reaches (and, as we know, maybe something that will change the very conditions of the hunt — fine) is of enormous importance, it is that which seems to fix or place the hunt, that which orients the hunt, and perhaps even the society of the hunt. Volatility is not enough, there is more to art than mere volatility.

NEXT, very soon: The materiality of insight

First post, Our Soupy Mess

July 21, 2012

I’ve decided to start a new blog — I’ve kept an older Xanga probably going on 10 years. I also occasionally write Facebook notes. But recently I’ve decided that I don’t really care whether any of the people I know read what I write, which sounds pretty bad. At the same time, the discursive, expository mode of the blog is not something I want to give up, so I’ve decided to start this blog.

It’s called “No More Rogues” because I want to shift away from self-reflection, which often features the self as rogue, which I consider an impasse.  Rogues are sort of like “hackers” they are people who go down, beneath the surface of things. In a similar vein, consider the phrase “all that I need” — I feel this to be the defining phrase of love. We can sense in this phrase, too, a kind of “going down”: it marks the point at which I realize what I don’t need — all those white lies, those sloppy ideas, that untested altruism — and what I do need. What’s interesting about this phrase is that it is not, certainly, the renunciation of romanticism — it is the start of a new romanticism that takes place with a moment or renunciation, and also, therefore, an attempt to get at what’s really important, which is now no longer an idea, or a community, or hope, but something much more concrete — maybe even something I once had, as the word “need” seems to indicate the kind of loss stemming from intimately knowing something.

“Our soupy mess” is the title of this blog entry, it poses some a problem to those who utter this phrase “all that I need”:
This is nothing new. Our entire society — and probably all societies, all worlds — are organized around this moment of going down that this phrase refers to. This phrase makes it seem like it was merely a matter of a lack of moral seriousness — and maybe this is one factor — but to utter this is the only the very beginning, we can still fail. There is no guarantee that our newfound focus will produce anything worthwhile.

… We are always after the origin of things, some definite event that will have some influence on the world, something that we wish to bring back. So “all that I need” is not merely a moment of personal commitment, but also a philosophical or intellectual one, it is the dedication to seeking out the most primitive, the causa prima. Well, the non-materialistic causa prima — I called it, once, the book of love: the history of love, the history of the world as understood as a history of love, ie, understood generally, as utterances of the phrase, “all that I need”. It is the imaginative transport to the origin of things, to that moment when shadowy figures and intentions become reality.

In other words, there is no guarantee that our imaginative journey will succeed, or alternatively, there is no guarantee that we will return with anything valuable. This may sound too obvious. But consider our understanding of the relationship between the past and the present: does the present “contain” the past? If we live, in the present, in a world of ghosts, then aren’t we therefore guaranteed to discover the origin of things? Isn’t it, in other words, a matter of purity, of simplification? If the present is the result, then aren’t we guaranteed to find the cause? We here respond “no” to this.

Conrad spoke of “A city of death”, which is very similar to our phrase “A Soupy Mess”. We are a world that wants to seek to origin, that is given, but this desire comes only from absence and not from some intimate knowledge of the origin — we are cut off from that origin. Loss is a consequence of absence and not the memory of presence. Thus, failure, our soupy mess, a city of death even in a society that always seeks its origin is a very real possibility.

Of course, success is possible as well — we will get to this below.