Gravity Wells of History (Gunshow)

“Abstract physics” is the term I came up with to name our impasses — all of them. We are too caught up in abstract physics, that is, some relational model of possibly abstract things. …I spent a long time, the other day, dwelling on and driving home the point (unsuccessfuly) that the ‘poor in spirit’ means just that: somebody who is poor in spiritual matters, spiritually bankrupt. This is pretty much the most important expression for all religion for me: the fact that religion does not distinguish between spiritual and material whealth: one is just as illusory as the other. The same goes for abstract physics: whether we are talking about ideas or tangible things, as long as we’re talking about them as though they were physical, relational things it does not matter.

Now, consider the idea of ‘existence-gravity’: the idea that the very existence of something distorts the world around it. This could certainly be said for God, Pascal’s Wager is the infamous example of this case. The fascinating thing is that we need not postulate any lines of force here — it not be a ‘real’ (abstract) physics. But things become much more interesting when we apply it to *events*. Events have existential gravity — without any postulating any abstract lines of force, the event, certain events may fold the space around it. In fact the event makes the subsequent lines of force.

This is an exciting idea: it is entirely wrong to apply existence gravity (and yes, we are being ‘idealists’ rather than idealists) to objects, since in that case we end up, again, with what we called abstract (Newtonian, we should say) physics. But what if history and memory were the traces of events? Then the entirelty of history would be distorted, there would be no possibility of distinguishing between objects and events in history — the dead arise again.

I spent a long time thinking over this — well, not that long. But the point is that, yes, I feel there is something radical here: there is much to defend in this concept. It is possible, for example, that gravity wells, temporal gravity wells don’t really ‘exist’ — that this is merely a, to put it bluntly, an ’employment hypothesis’ — like the way in which ghost hunters will need to postulate the existence of ghosts? But if we are merely talking about a possibility then this is the very possibility of the history of ideas, of how ideas can shape the world — IF ideas are to be something other than mere ‘organizing principles’ or means of concentrating power. If we are not to be more cynical than we let on. (And that’s what we hate about the world isn’t it? The amazing, stupid, extrordinary cynicism behind all people, especially optimists — we used to called nihilism.) Yet on the other hand not to, of course, fall into the positivism ideas, which is another form of abstract physics. If *ideas* are to have a presence in the world.

Let’s not remain this abstract, lest we imagine ourselves to be onto something bigger than we really are, but let’s try to give some examples, hopefully of mounting radicality. Consider this gunshow comic, which certainly seems related to many of the things we’ve been talking about, it seems even Wordsworthian. K C Green is still my favorite cartoonist out there, let’s me just say a few unplanned words here. The comic is sort of like a drug binge, one starts slow but then the chemicals start building up, you meet a space wolf and become one with god, but then you crash, vomit, and wake up the next morning regretting everything. The madness is a series of gambits in an effort to avoid conventionality, with each gambit promising more and more sophistication. But one can never live up to these gambits and eventually there is a crash, which is actually the point at which the comic ends. I think Blanchot said that mastery in writing consists in knowing when to stop.

So talk about that Gunshow comic. It is not satire, satire would be not trying hard enough, let’s remain with the word ‘gambit’. There are other comics that gambit off of this one, giving it a twist. For example, there is one where the kid at the end travels to Paris and says, “I’m OK with this!”. The gambit actually has to do, however, with the nature of the event: “If you can read this, then fucking knock it off”. It is a very interesting event that seems to conceal a great deal of complexity, there is certainly something waiting for us — as I’ve said before, there is a gap here, the story, the event, the reaction are not well connected. If they were then the artist would have failed. At stake is the license of the artist, the artist wins if he is able to produce an event that could deform history — the moment of true creativity, ie, where an idea materializes into history.

But we must examine the scene we have chosen. Micrologics is really the key to avoiding abstract physics.



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