Insane Virtualities (Rose for Emily)

Yes, unfortunately, this will be another theoretical essay, but perhaps we’ll get sidetracked and come up with a few good examples.

Last time, we spoke about “the return of creativity”. (Remember that rigor is still our fundamental problem.) We begrudgingly admit now that certain types of creativity are OK — but only because one need not be driven in pursuit of rigor.

This is in fact related to virtuality — as all creativity is related to virtual action — “thinflaction” I called it: the oneness of thinking, reflection, and rigor.

But there is still this fundamental inconceivability (which is what I mean by, “unfortunately theoretical” above) — how is to possible, pragmatically, for a creativity to exist that is about rigor, yet does not pursue it? Can we really treat this rigor as a real thing?

This is when I thought about insanity, or rather, “doing first” perhaps. As we talk about rigor, honesty itself is a curse, is it not? This is perhaps akin to the problem of “trying to forget something” — because, however much we say about the “human condition” — ie, that what we feel to be necessary is never grounded in necessity — or the “dizzying freedom” of rigor — it is at the same time something seemingly impossible to get away from. The only possiblity here is *insanity* — which is a lot more rational than we might think! Calculated insanity — I also said, “machine” — perhaps some kind of progressive, foward device — mechanism without rigidity, to throw out a Kantian-sounding formula — that will help us resist the lure of rigor.

There is a paradoxical sort of problem here isn’t there? It’s, I believe, what Kafka was talking about in “Silence of the Sirens” — which is, remember, about Odysseus’s success — a kind of unthinkable, brilliant, cunning stupidity or insanity. The end of the story goes: “But there is one further possiblity, but this would involve a level cunning that is all but unthinkable…” (misquoted).

Basically, the paradox here is that we humans, if we act based on reason, honesty, responsibilty (“rigor”) — are doomed to fail, doomed to mistake the non-necessary for the necessary. There seems to be no way around this fact — I was on the verge, for example, of speculating whether we could get perhaps get around the tyranny of rigor, that nonnecessary necessity (which is not a Kantian-sounding formula — “arbitrariness”), our doomed fate, by making the distinction between past and future, ie, between looking as rigor as something in the past rather than in the future. But no, it’s not that easy — and this is why we have to think about insanity — well, insanity, creativity, and virtuality.

*

Let’s try to talk about an example, or at least start developing — one that’s been sitting in the back of my mind — Faulkner’s A Rose for Emily. As with Bartleby, we realize that the stand-in for the author is Emily and not the narrator. Her whole life is a kind of thinking isn’t it? Faulkner has said about women that “a girl of 14 is already bored of what a man approaches with fear and apprehension” — misquoted. The idea with Emily is that she got old fast — much like what Flaubert said about Felicite in “A Simple Heart”. She was blonde, thin, but not beautiful, under the shadow of an overprotective father, she seemed to already know what the world had in store.

So she gets out and murders Homer Baron, her first lover. She then does something with his corpse. And from then on she never left her house. I used to make a big deal out of the ending scene, which is a kind of like a “fuck y’all” to the townspeople, but we really shouldn’t. What she does occurs in a virtual world, and not along the channels of communication of this world.

A kind of calculated insanity, which is not at all easy. I mean, to “know the world”, as Emily does, means also to know the pardox of the world: of nonnecessary necessity, which means the inevitable failure of a pure heart. This is the statement from which one can begin a critical rereading of Hardy’s Tess of D’Ubervilles: A Pure Woman. What does it mean to be a pure woman, or to have a pure heart? If Tess succeeds — which is open to question — how is that bound up with knowledge and insanity?

I mean, Homer Baron — either the man (the man’s man) or the bard — is perhaps this figure of rigor, at least related to rigor, or perhaps power-rigor. She murders him and then spends her life, so we would believe, around him, or around that act. The house comes to is a house now for the wedding, we are to assume, of her and Homer Baron, who is dead.

Marriage is indeed an interesting thing — it is a way of thinking about the house. A marriage founded upon, supposedly, intimacy and love — an institution that has many parallels with power-rigor…

TBC

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