Archive for March, 2013

Slaves and the origins of language

March 28, 2013

I smoked some weed last night for the first time in god knows how long. It was pretty awesome! I felt great, I felt life to be a lot more tolerable. The last time I smoked I remember how anxious I was, it was like I was just reading everyone’s reaction to me, all the little passive aggressive moves, all my little misteps, the strange implications of everything I say. I think I become a lot more open to the perspectives of others when I’m high. That made me anxious, and I experienced that last night too, but I guess I didn’t really care all that much what people thought about me.

Anyways, I think the biggest thing I realized was how real all that I had been speaking of is. For example, when I spoke about Bartleby’s tautology, I emphasized its origins in negativity and rejection. But when I was high yesterday I realized that there was absolutely no difference in reality between Bartleby’s tautology and, say, the person in front of me. I had been unwittingly thinking about it as some kind of rare or spiritual occurence, when it is in fact, I believe, very real.

The big connection I want to make is between this tautology and the work. This is related to the “bottomless human” principle, “human all the way down”. For example, without even thinking about the details, we can imagine the general project of the philosophy of math to be, to demonstrate that the structure of math is not axiomatic, not derived from assumptions and rules, but rather “human” despite its “pretensions” to purity. I put the word “pretension” in quotes because we are pushing towards a model where it is not high (as the word suggests) but *low* — a lowly, subconscious operation. But, as we were saying, this project would basically be to say that math is human “all the way down”. Consider, for example, that math is really a drawing of boundaries: we are interested in this and not that. What distinguishes pure math from practical math, or theory from application? Well, purity involves a certain sort of imagination — it is not a matter that purity is somehow more “rule based” or anything. So this imagination is, in fact, still “human” in some way, it is not some pure principle, but rather a hazily defined set of assumptions and visions.

So, it occured to me last night that I had been unwittingly assuming that the tautology “wasn’t real” in some way. But nothing is real, which means that the tautology is just as real as everything else. But it is nonetheless based on some principle of rejection, which is very real, very social — I mean, we are literally talking about “minorities” or something similar. The big connection I want to make is that:

The tautology arises from slave labor.

The slave is someone who works without deriving meaning from his work. In fact, I consider it to be the rejection of meaning — well, if only because he was in turn excluded, himself. But the paradox here is the chicken and the egg, when it comes to the slave and the master. The basic question here is how the negation can in fact be original. Because the slave, indeed, can only exist within a system under the master, the slave is one who is, for some reason or another, forced to do work from which he derives no benefit, does not find meaningful. But this “mutual rejection” then exists to postulate a new subconscious that has always been around, that is, in fact, I believe, the origin.

It is the origin because of this consideration: supposing that we are the first species on this planet to develop language — why are we so special? Communication is in fact universal to all species, and in fact all the vast majority of higher animals are capable even of aural communication. Yet language differes fundamentally from communication. Thus, language does not at all follow “naturally” from sound, but needs that extra push — which is, I believe, precisely the master-slave society.

Bartleby’s Tautology

March 23, 2013

I do find it interesting that interpretation is often a great way to develop some more general ideas. So basically, Bartleby stands before the wall. This is a scene where he reflects back to, at once, (1) others who have stood before the same wall, so, others in history, and (2) the possibility of a non-teleologic way of understanding the langauge. There is a kind strange paradox here: on the one hand, (1) above is likely a genuine historical understanding — to understand other humans or other thinkers who have pondered the same thing. (2) however, which is the postulation of an absolute, non-teleologic existence, can in fact only come afterwards, I mean, after we have experienced some isolation. In other words, there are two elements of Bartleby: (1) Bartleby the historian, who looks back on the world, looks back on either other historians or other people (“slaves” I have written here in my notes, as people who can truely experience language non-teleologically) and at the same time, (2) himself a slave, at least partly, in some sense. And although the latter may appear to be more “primitive” (more subconscious, for example, or narratively primitive), it is in fact something that comes to manifest itself only after what I call “isolation”, only after the detachment from the world.

I think another way to look at this is to ask: is the subconscious historical? Yes, if we mean that the subconscious links us back to other historical eras, if ther are other eras that have experienced the same sort of subconscious. But no if we mean that the subconscious is itself a real, historical, primitive part of our brain, that there was a time in the world where the subconscous roamed the earth, naked, without the added layer of consciousness. It in fact comes after this period of isolation.

… the whole argument here seems almost stupidly simple, I mean, stupidly obvious. We are basically saying that Bartleby the story is about someone who, fed up with life but without a great deal of bitterness, comes to imagine something (“a slave”, I will go on to argue) that can experience language or writing non-teleologically — and we stop there. Before we had always gone on to try to ask what the slave is, we had tried to wonder whether the slave (let’s just call it that, without justification, for now) in fact existed in history. The answer is stupidly simple — no, it didn’t. What is the slave? It is someone who can experience the mark non-teleologically. We have, in other words, answered our own question tautologically. Our earlier error, I feel, was trying to go too far. For example, with Plato: what is the faculty? It is the ability to experience the world purely, without further teleologic justification and elaboration. It is tautological — well, almost entirely tautological. This “almost” comes from the fact that it comes to form the subconsciousness of an era (and by this word, I mean it as a shorthand for, what we believe to be the subconsciousness of an era), it comes to have some real historical significance.


[[[ Next time:

1) objective thinking

2) The subconscous as organizer of history

3) thinking as observing, from the last entry of Descartes

4) the *social* evolution of language]]]


A Very Nerdy Review of Final Fantasy Dimensions

March 22, 2013

Final Fantasy Dimensions is a role playing game for Android / iPhone that is really quite good. For the sake of our googling posterity, here is the transcript of the most memorable line from any final fantasy game EVER:

The Mask: On this continent lie the ruins of the great Lufenian civilization.
Glaive : And I suppose that’s where this “Meteo” is sealed?
Graham: Exactly what is this spell supposed to do?
Alba: You don’t mean to summon a meteor so that the lifestream comes together and you can be reborn as a god, do you!?
The Mask: I…what? No, we’re going to make the world whole again.

(For the uninitiated, Alba just gave a flippant summary of the plot of Final Fantasy VII and probably all final fantasies in general — momentarily catching the narrator off guard.)

Speaking personally, I liked Alba from the beginning and as a result have always tried to make her the center of the party by trying to max out her offense. My most memorable fight was with Leviathan, when I had THREE white mages and Alba as a dark knight buffed like there’s no tomorrow (literally, with last stand boosting offense for about 20 seconds before the character dies) — last stand, beserk, and haste, shell, protect. It was the only way I could beat it, I was pretty underleveled — but boy, that battle went fast with her dishing out 4000+ criticals. I think I beat it before the doom counter hit.

This is also probably the best final fantasy I’ve played — out of V, VI, VII, IX. Well, Tactics definitely comes out on top. But I love this game for several reasons:


The leviathan fight is one of the few fights from Final Fantasy I can remember. Here are my other favorite fights — in no particular order:
1. Terra v. Humbaba (Final Fantasy VI) — not at all that strategically interesting, but the moment when the game suddenly got dark. Protecting the children from a monster that emerges out of the earth occassionally to devour them — whoa, this game has changed.
2. v the Cardinal (Final Fantasy Tactics )– I think I died about 10 times before I pulled out all the stops and desperately cheesed my way to victory with four knights casting speed breaking. Here, the strategic choices fit the mood — it became, win at any cost, against — THAT THING (the game’s theme suddenly shifts into cosmic horror here) as opposed to, get loot, level up slowly, enjoy the countryside. It was a moment when the strategy synergized with the theme
3. v Lavos in (Crono Trigger) — another case where it took me a good hour to finally beat it — after coming so close, and trying so many different combinations. Here, that synergy was in effect too — as Lavos for the first time takes on a horrifying as opposed to a naturalistic character.

But out of all the final fantasies I’ve played, this is probably the most strategically interesting one “stock” — that is, not counting efforts to “push the system to the limits” via self-enforced challenges, etc. All final fantasy games become pretty interesting if you try hard enough, but this one is strategically interesting pretty much from the beginning — with definite character “builds” and a great deal of synergistic effects between characters and within a single character. In any case, it is a huge step up from Final Fantasy VI and VII, which to be honest had quite a horrible system, where characters are mostly undifferentiated, outside of a few limit breaks. Every character could learn every spell, no one ever used the status-inducing spells, and cast magic until it dies worked pretty much every single time.

As a side effect, you really start to (1) differentiate between the characters and (2) create your own stories or personalities. Chrono Trigger had strategically (and not just narratively) differentiated characters, which was really lacking in Final Fantasy VI. But there was no character design system in that game. FFD in fact has both — you can argue that the characters themselves lack personalities, but that is actually a feature and not a bug. The job system differentiates the characters strategically based on your own whims — subtly, through time. For example, as I said, Alba is kind of like the rogue — high damage output. I made Diana the white mage. Glaive, who I really didn’t like, took up what I thought were the support jobs — but then he became unexpectedly powerful — which in itself is an interesting “narrative” development — the narrative of someone who was on the sidelines, the straight man, excluded, but who suddenly comes to play an important role.


There is definitely a strong dungeons and dragons influence here. In fact, that Alba zinger is probably not exceptional. The entire game is often seems quite aware of the “fetch quests” and the “more sweet loot” sort of mentality. The Alba quote really brought it out into the forefront, if only for a moment. The scene there is of The Mask, either a dungeon master or some important non-player character trying to coordinate the playes into some sort of quest, being momentarily disoriented by a well-placed zinger by one of the more snarky players but nontheless courageously carrying onwards. The entire tone of the game is much lighter, seemingly aware of its own inconsistencies or deus ex machina moments — in a subtle but definitely recognizable nod to pen-and-paper role playing games.

Here’s to hoping that the next iteration will be just as good — able to merge East and West, perhaps even to a greater extent — ie, to combine the emphasis on unscripted, strategically oriented character-development central to Western role playing (roguelkes, dungeons and dragons, etc.) and the scripted, sentimental, dramatic, and narrative role-playing that characterizes the East.

Bartleby and the Wall

March 21, 2013

The question that will help us think or focus here will be, what does Bartleby see in the wall, or, why does Bartleby stare at the wall?

In Descartes’s ‘I think therefore I am’ formula, there are two I’s: the I of thinking and the I that sees the I think. But this is actually wrong: because there is no I that thinks, only the I that sees. Well, there are no I’s at all, but we can selectively see one or the other I, I mean, behaviorally, as though there were I’s. To insist that there is only the thinking I would mean that to see is also to think, that observation in an action. Conversely, to see only the observing I would be to emphasize that thinking is an illusion. This latter attitude is the one we want to take here.

Bartleby has a kind of ‘gaydar’, I want to call it. I mean, I am not homophobic, I actually hate gay people slightly less than heterosexuals, simply because they are usually less obnoxious. The expression ‘that’s so gay’ says something I understand, it’s sort of like ‘nerdy’: someone occupying a fleeting, self-aware, celebratory world. There are no straight-pride day parades: why? Because being straight is not worth celebrating. So that’s what ‘gay’ means: someone self-absorbed, provicincial, sentimental, etc. So Bartleby’s gaydar is so sensitive that the entire world is ‘gay’ — this is why he says, ‘I’d prefer not to’.

Bartleby doesn’t take part in the gay-pride parade that is the world as such. I imagine, in my mind, not a categorical, immediate, universal response but an intuition, thus, radar, where each incident is detected in turn. Thus, not the *principle*, but rather a kind of intuition. The narrator says as much — something to the effect of, ‘he seemed to weigh what I said very carefully in his mind, all its pros and cons, before inevitably responsing, “I’d prefer not to”‘. This gaydar is simply a realization, I think, of where things are headed, a community, a promise, etc.. We said, earlier, ‘bitterness’, the bitterness of having these promises melt away before us, of having them turn into metaphor, or life lessons, etc.. Like the Wizard of Oz lesson, where the wizard reveals at the end several ‘all alongs’ (I think??) — something like, you know, tinman, you were actually intelligent all along. Or something? But this sort of loophole, the God is love loophole say, is … just that, a loophole — ‘gay’.

But Bartleby is no longer bitter, instead, the big idea I have before me is this notion of ‘transport between’. This is a concept or rather distinction I’ve been wrestling with since the distinction is never clear… Let’s think back to the ‘I think therefore I am’. The I that thinks is gay, Bartleby can see where thinking leads and he avoids it. Instead, he sees the I that sees — he sees the act of seeing, which is, actually, *before* thinking. The I that sees is someone on the way to thinking, on the outside of thinking.

He stands before the I that sees, which may not exist. Well, none of the I’s exist — what is thinking, anyways? It’s happens ‘first’, yes, we can say that, but not because it is intuitive or subconscious, but rather because it is but a heap of memory activation, a giant mess. And only afterwards do we call it ‘thinking’. But there is yet another I, which is the I on the way to thinking,and which thinks about the thinking yet to come.

The key concept here is ‘introducer’, or medium of transport. Again, there is a similar distinction here between ‘within’ and ‘between’, transport within — the tool, the hypomnemata — and thinking between. Now, note that the latter is not *potentiality* — in other words, the wall that Bartleby stares at is not the unwritten letter, the sum of all possible letters. That is too teleologic, that is still within. But the introducer is actually far more prosaic, it is merely that which will bring us towards something, it is familiar.

In other words, *language is never mystical*. To say mystical we are already saying, ‘potentiality’, and the mystical never had all that great an influence on us. But rather, it is the prosaic uses of the prelinguistic that is interesting — as introducer.

This is still a bit unclear, but let’s talk about the wall, let me foward a reading of Bartleby before the wall. Bartleby is, on the one hand, someone ‘after’, I mean, living with or beyond bitterness, in the ruins, a modern man, but someone who also holds some animosity towards modernity. … bitterness is still something I’m trying to get over. For example, when Kurtz (in a perhaps similar moment) seems to see the entirety of the world before him — and proclaims, the horror, the horror — does he view it with bitterness or betrayal? No — it is a mixture, I think, of bitterness and pity — pity for those, like him, which is perhaps everyone, forever on the way to, or stuck between.

So Bartleby before the wall is a kind of coming to terms with the world and all its people. He does not want to (would prefer not to) to step foward, because to do so would be to step into ‘potentiality’, something headed in a definite direction. It is not the blankness of the letter, but rather, the attempt to conjure up, in his mind, all who have stood before this wall or portal. This ‘before’ is in fact at once prehistoric and contemporary —

TBC: the introducer

Bartleby’s Wall / Portal

March 19, 2013

There is a paradox when it comes to our beliefs or our notions of movement. Let’s just consider, as an example, Bartleby and the wall — Bartleby spends his whole day staring at a wall — at a brick wall, out the window, but he is also surrounded by white walls. What does he see in this wall? I once proposed that the blankness of the wall is like the blankness of the letter, the unwritten letter — so that, in other words, the wall is a kind of figure of potentiality, or the myriad potentialities, the wall becomes a kind of nexus. But I want to propose something far more interesting: that the wall is like a gateway, or a portal that will bring us somewhere. But this proposal has the interesting quality of being “not entirely impossible”.

That is, we want to make the distinction, a difficult one, between movement within and between virtual spaces. This is an important question but also one that we should be very wary of answering, since we can never be sure that we know the difference. In other words, we are never sure whether we are changing or not, we are never sure whether, for example, the mode of change remains constant. A virtuality is itself a space of movement, it defines what seems to happen as events — but playful events, metaphoroical events, events that are events only by some sort of loophole. On the other hand, there is the notion of being before, or on the verge of moving otwards a new virtuality, and that is the latter. And yet we can never tell the difference.

Consider, then, the letter, I mean, in the sense of “missive”. Bartleby worked at a dead letters office. Letters can be understood in two ways, either as a kind of communication, as the established channels of some system, or as the movement to a new system. In fact, the very tenderness with which we treat letters probably has to do with the way in which the latter seems to weigh so heavily towards the latter. The letter, in other words, could be an introduction, it could establish a new way of life. But, in this purpose, the system is not exactly set, we speak the words without really knowing their exact meaning, independent, then, of any context. For example, if we write a letter to someone we’re in love with, then that has the effect of establishing a new way of interacting with this person in many ways: either in terms of, interpersonal relations, or in terms of, to establish a new, intimate mode of communication, a new world of tradeoffs and bargains, and so on.

The distinction between within and between always seems so impossible, simply because it seems as though we always approach a task with a set of preconceptions as to what would happen, which would seem to mean that we are always within some abstract space or region of looking at the world. But isn’t it possible, at least speculatively, also to see the very portal or transport that is the source of our movement?

Bartleby in Hell

March 18, 2013

Bartleby is someone that ‘doesn’t give a fuck’, and this is not because he has transcended in some way, but rather because, I will argue, of his mourning. Looking back on my efforts in these past few entries, I realize, I think, my impasse in attempting to define, for example, the negativitiy of Plato’s negation — it did not properly think about the past. I want to here rectify this.

I mean, for Bartleby, there are two things to pay attention to here: 1) Bartleby’s drunken rampage 2) and his pause, ie, what causes him to rampage forth and what causes him to hesitate or pause — the wall, mostly, in the latter case. Now, one goes on a drunken rampage, again, not because of transcendance (and this was the fact that had been plaguing me, despite my best efforts) but rather because the contemporary world is in ruins, is the ruins of an older world.

Personally, this is related to the difference between *bitterness* and *mourning*. For the former case, we had been angry at the world for breaking its promises. But in the latter case, we mourn or we look back on … not really novelty (which would be nostalgia) but rather the original … thing, or promise, that was the origin of the modern world. There is definitely an element of mourning in the Platonic Idea.

That is, consider that our modern world is (1) something that takes advantage, profits off the promise, or (2) is the ‘good enough’ remnant of the original promise. That is, it is, in the first case, merely a mode of deference, but with a fee, like a merry go round — the fee is our sacrifice, basically: the key word here is *infernal*: an infernal merry-go-round.

… I remember reading a Michael Cary comic book called, ‘Lucifer’, a very cool and literal comic book about the demons and hell. It’s honestly one of the most pleasurable reading experiences, I mean, for me and my ilk, I who sympathize with demons. An underpowered Lucifer, stripped of most of his powers but not of his cunning, visits the Chinese hell in order to … retrieve something, in a Dungeons and Dragons sort of way. What he discovers there has always remained me for some reason or another: he discovers an “infernal” machine, that somehow taps into the dreams of the living in order to harness power for its hell. Dreams have become the domain of the demonic. Although not exactly clear, it’s a very gripping sort of story — the very definition of the infernal: something that feeds off our hopes in a sense. In a sense we can’t be bitter because we were never cheated to begin with — bitterness assumes the possibility of success.

How *infernal* is our world? The very possibility is striking because it allows us to assume a beginning: “The infernal river”, Conrad said. The river that, in the heart of darkness, seems to transport us somewhere, brings us somewhere, but where the steamboat ‘crawled along’, in an apparent stagnation. The river moves along but brings us nowhere, at once transport and stagnation.

The big distinction, when it comes to the river, is the distinction between *virtual movement* and *infernal movement*… the two are entirely different. Virtual movement is movement towards some goal within a set of promises… well, you get the idea. Infernal movement is that which carries us along the set of virtualities, non progressively. It is probably that which I refer to when I say that we always seem to have some intuition or some feeling that we are merely playing a game.


Let’s return to Bartleby, as we said, there are two components, that of aggression and that of pause. … The aggression is the aggression of mourning, the kind of disregard at the contemporary world which is *infernal*, which profits off of promises that it can’t keep, that can never be realized. The pause is the pause before the river…

TBC: Dead Letters Office

The Platonic Idea

March 13, 2013

Full disclosure, I haven’t read any Plato, or rather Socrates. But I want to offer a few words as provocation. The platonic idea is something that is thrown around as if people understand it. Just from hearsay, it sounds too stupid to be a philosophical idea, it is not even philosophy at all. However, that was not it’s purpose, it’s purpose is to blast us out of the flow of time.

Recently I had been talking about the ‘spontaneous, prosaic encounter’ as the true form of negation, it is part of a general project to think negation as independent of whatever it negates. I was talking last night, on omegle, to someone about this idea of a spontaneous encounter when something very rare happened: someone gave me a new idea. We were talking about what makes us ‘wierd’, and about Nietzsche’s quote, ‘Christianity is Platonism for the masses’ when he proposed that he ‘talked to God’ last night. I responded that that is not really what I had in mind when I spoke of the encounter but then I realized that I could be wrong.

The platonic pure idea *is* something that arises spontaneously, it is, despite it’s strangely concrete, simplistic quality, in fact, a negation. In fact, it allows us to think beyond our model of the spontaneous which was too closely tied to the human. Recall, that the spontaneous, in general, was originally proposed as something that ‘spontaneously arises’ to break us out of the two forms of nihilism: 1) the nihilism of youth and 2) the nihilism of the old or expert. The first is characterized by a noncommitment to anything because it is yet to be discovered, so that the youth don’t really have identities as things they are on the verge of becoming. The latter is the overreliance on *metaphor*, of virtual worlds that refer to other, more concrete, or complex things. In both cases the virtual has found a stable reference: either in the future or in the system.

The spontaneous we conceived of as something that was on our level of reality, that engaged with us directly, that suddenly made us aware of our present physicality, in some sense. Thus, I had always linked the prosaic / spontaneous to ‘the other’, either fictional or mundane. But the platonic idea offers another way, it conceives of our virtual interactions as possibly an encounter with the pure idea — ‘possibly’ in the sense of, not all ideas, only the … ‘genuine’ moments.

There are two things I want to point out:
1) the mysteriousness of the Idea, the infathomability
2) faculty before the subconscious, and the finitude-event principle / paradox

Now, first of all, note that the Idea is entirely infathomable, I called it, ‘stupid’, ‘simplistic’. It is not comprehensible except as a negation, but at the same time, as we said, it is independent of what it negates, well, for the most part. It is not, in other words, something conceptual.

In fact, the best way to understand it is (2) as a *faculty*, either a new faculty or one we’ve always had, which is why Platonism and Christianity are so closely related. A faculty … is an unsettling concept, it seems too much like ‘the promise’, it seems to transcendental. And yet it differs, I believe, from the nihilism of youth. I remember when I first read Kant’s ‘Foundations for the Metaphysics of Practical Reason’ — I think it was called, about the categorical imperative, and about these various faculties — of pure reason, maybe. There was most certainly something very thrilling there. But pure reason, what is it? If pure reason, or practical reason, or reason at all, were a ‘faculty’?

The other thing I want to address is the primality of ‘faculty’ over the ‘subconsciousness’, which derives from what I call the ‘finitude-event paradox’: basically, that we, as finite creatures, cannot do without the event. The faculty and the scs are closely related, they both speak of something that we had *all along* — but faculty looks more towards the future, it is something, it feels like, we have yet to come to terms with. It is surprisingly concrete, but yet mysterious, related to this thing we call ‘the genuine’.

The Old

March 8, 2013

I go on once in awhile when I need an audience — usually, unfotunately, much younger than me — under the philosophy tag. I think that one of the most annoying things about people on that site, and people in general, by extension, is the way in which they insist on opposition. Or true understanding, depending on the gender — the two are the same, right? They insist that they understand too quickly, they don’t ask questions, they disagree (or agree) before they understand. I’m pretty selfish, all I’m looking for is an audience, not really a discussion — they haven’t thought enough.

There is perhaps a more interesting way to look at this problem, which is the question of the difference between the virtual and the prosaic. They think that I am speaking about a virtual world, about a new way of thinking. But all I want to speak of is the prosaic, I want to speak critically, refectively, if that’s possible — and whatever that may mean. Last night I spent about 15 minutes trying to convince some kid, unsuccessfully, that I wanted to speak of the lowly things, that I was not “unaware” of science. That is one of the most frustrating things in the world — talking to someone who believes that they are somehow more “real” than you are.

This gets at a hypothesis that seems almost too facile — isn’t there, for every era, some understanding of “the real”? My earlier mistake was believing that the real was the “ghost” of the virtual. But the real — whatever that may mean, is actually a more general thing, some kind of general ground that we are all aware of.

So, for Rose for Emily, that taxation scene should actually be understood as a group of government officials encountering something “older” than they are. They know that they are trying to establish a new society, they are trying to create some kind of perfect world, but this is something that they can deal with. But they are always aware of this project of identity, so that when they encounter Emily, she is not really something new, but rather something that they’ve known about themselves all along, something that’s been hovering on the edges of their society all along.

Consequentially, the analogy here is actually something like

me : omegle :: Faulkner : me.

I had been always trying to read Emily as some kind of new event, a new way to look at the world. But all along, the only thing that Faulkner ever wanted was to understand his story as about our world, as something “real”. I remember saying in some old entry that we needed to understand Emily as an “equal”, which is absolutely wrong.

Now, indeed, the event of Emily is an open question. But we are not, in fact, looking for a descriptive response of this event, that is not the point of reading. But rather, the most important thing here is to be able to read this story “as real”, ie, as this “prosaic arising”, as a kind of “prosaic virtuality”.

– – –

Next: an interpetation of RfE


March 3, 2013

Hockey has given me reason to hate people I otherwise wouldn’t hate, it has sort of made me a bit more of a cynic. I mean that the way people act on ice annoy me, the way that they don’t look up, the way they are all focused on the wrong things. And just their conception of the game, how they understand it, what they think is important — no understanding of the more subtle — or even the rudimentary — aspects of teamwork — anticipating, for example, where your teamates are likely to be, where defenders are, what the ‘safe’ plays are, what the unexpected plays are, positional advantages, and so forth.

But the single point I want to make is that I almost consider how somebody plays hockey their “true selves”. Everyone is mostly the same in a brief chat, it’s hard to judge somebody, but with hockey, it’s like you can see all their fantasies — their subconscious even, like something they don’t know. Somebody may be all about world peace and helping the poor in talk but when they don’t show a bit of teamwork then I think to myself, “aah, this guy thinks he can fool us all, he thinks he has this dark inner self or something.” It’s like priests of those African megachurches or something, someone who speaks constantly of altruism but doesn’t even grasp the barest concepts. Or maybe, you see how they are obsessed with the appearances and not with how things work — or too obsessed with technics and not with the system — or someone who thinks too highly of themselves in general.

I want to seque into victory here. The hockey example was intended to demonstrate the … general hypocrisy of the population, which they themselves may not fully realize — or at the very least, have not theorized. We were born hypocrites. Our sense of victory is pro-spective and virtual. The virtuality of the world, that sense of freedom there, the power of the mind, is one of the first (and not the last) things we understand. That’s what I understand with hockey — the way in which people strive to be who they are, their faith in this virtuality — and their lack of … what can be called technical, analytical, stragetic thinking, or whatever. Hockey seems like a moment of truth for me because I can see the failure of all that idealism — it’s one place where self-help strategies won’t work. It’s like the reason why America is failing or something.

Actually, not just America but the world over — it seems a part of our human condition — virtuality, “faith” in all the wrong things, and this “dark inner self”. We are never committed to the world, because we believe in the power of ideas to form ourselves, to bootstrap ourselves. And their is no culture that is fundamentally more grounded than another culture. We preach to others, and in doing so we form ourselves, but when this process fails, we withdraw inward, to our dark selves.

Virtuality, then, is the first thing we know.

II. Semi-Spontaneous

In contrast to virtuality, which we associate with idolatry, hypocrisy, and the dark self, I propose the spontaneous. The spontaneous is that which arises spontaneously in our world, in our prosaic world (and not our virtual world). Yet it is not entirely prosaic, since that would settle us into a well know opposition or impasse, the distinction between reality and the imaginary or something. No, the spontaneous is that which arises spontaneously in the prosaic world, it is the ghost — something emphatically not virtual:

and the fog comes up
from the sewers and
the dark

The entire question however is this semi-, by which I mean, I want to the two elements: the one uncomitted, virtual, and powerful, the latter weak, prosaic, and spontaneous…