Virtuality (Possible Red Herring)

I have an incompleted draft here. It seems kind of weird, pretentious, whatever to quote inaccessible drafts that I’ve tucked away somewhere, but, nonethless — the entry was titled “Sympathy for the Theorist”. It seems to me another case where the introduction, typically “moral”, and the body suddenly seem to be more closely linked than they appeared at first. But I am still not sure if this is a red herring. It starts off:

I think that philosophy is basically a process of “abstraction”. The basic circuit is, we have an idea, and it turns out that that idea is wrong, at least with regards to the way that it lines up with the real world, but yet it can live on — simply because as long as we can think it it cannot be completely wrong. So philosoophy is the attempt to work with these abstracted concepts that remain after an intuition fails. For example, what we call “automaticism” feels like what remains after some concept of “the subconscious” becomes inadequate. We realize that automaticism can take place without any specific reference to the physiological, though it still requires some notion of a MACHINE and of MEMORY — and various other concepts.

So we speak here of the failure and the rebirth of “ideas” or of “theories” into philosophy. Philosophy only deals with concepts that have experienced such a rebirth. In fact, if we are to follow our notion earlier of “objective” thinking, where thinking is the rearranging of “objects” which appear real to us, then we are not merely talking about the death and rebirth of ideas and theories of but of realities.

… well, let’s actually pause briefly to consider this link I above make, between reality and the thinking of reality. Can we really equate the two? We resist this link because we tend to think of philosophy as “unnatural”, we distinguish between the conscious and the unconscious, between declared and secret intention, so that we (somewhat idiosyncratically) call “objectivism” would be the unconscious, ultimate way we arrange the world, differentiated from merely our impression of the world, our way to describe the world. But this opposition, on the one hand, seems to be a dead end in that it already assumes the form of ultimate reality. And if it isn’t — then why would we assume that the habitually constructed of “objectivism” were substantially different from the thoughtfully constructedness of thinking?

It goes onto say:

“Sympathy for the theorist” — this is a feeling I get, like a real soft-heartedness, at the attitude of the theorist towards the world. Since he is definitely, you know, working backwards, trying to come up with examples that match his network of concepts — while at the same time of course trying to flesh out and develop this pool of concepts — trying to find situations to match something that he might have experienced in flesh and blood at one point but then there only as an error.

So what’s interesting here is that the theorist is characterized by both (1) a kind of struggle, and a kind of awareness, an attempt to avoid failure, and (2) a memory which he always falls back on — and perhaps this is overly sentimental — the memory of the “flesh and blood” of the past, erroneous world. This “nostalgic” moment is unexpected here, it seems out of place, since we seem to be merely talking about a process of “purification” or a pragmatic moment of theoretical development. Yet this purified, abstracted, conceptual remnant, whatever, is now associated with the “flesh and blood” of a past memory or past experience. As with the above consideration, this is another case where we seem to move beyond some method of philosophy and towards some notion of “survival”.

The second part of the essay is quite interesting because it deals an instance of such a process, but, as always, the coincidences seem to pile up. The idea is the movement from:

The Subconscious –> Automaticism –> Exoticism / Home

The subconscious is what we originally start off with, we perceive it as “real”. But we then realize that what we really need is some more generalized notion “automaticism”, which is the philosophical leap we spoke of above. And, furthermore, asking about automaticism leads us to the concept of home, exoticism, and the uncanny, the unhomely home. “Automaticism is the uncanny” I said — thereby displacing a procedural account of the world with a more fragmented, even phenomenal account. Everywhere that the uncanny occurs we can talk about automaticism.

The uncanny has some very real referents, I mean, in the world, in my opinion. It is the continuation of the home:

… they are not really foreigners even though they are lost — cf, the weird sense in which Conrad nonetheless “makes his home” in the jungle. The story in that novel about the Dane Fresleven seems really relevant: he is the captain of the steamboat who Marlow suceeds; he manages to kill himself by going onshore and violently beating the elder of the village over a matter of two black chickens. The son of the elder was said to have “taken a tentative jab with a spear” after just sort of standing there completely completely apalled. So for me this is a scene where Fresleven has, you know, has had enough and has started to treat the jungle as his home, or rather his home away from home. Not because the jungle has somehow “corrupted” him but rather because this sort of behavior is what he “falls back” to, a sort of inevitable logic.

So at this point I seem to circle back to the world and propose a scene that is basically about the continuation of the home, the continued “life after death” that we spoke of above. The jungle “corrupts” someone only when they have, you know, allowed it into their heart, the jungle “corrupts” only when one insists on not being corrupted, of remaining who one is. But in any case it is not a matter of someone, you know, becoming one with the woods or anything — that would be “exoticism”, that would be for someone still in search of a home. “Blessed are those who remain at home”, so the expression goes.

But this is actually an impasse, since we are back to the question of what survives: what is the essence of the home? This seems the same as asking what the essence of the subconscious is, since the home is basically, here, merely a reduction, a purifying, of who we had been before. What I want to propose instead is that the shift from life to afterlife is more radical — and this is “virtuality”. This is the “possible red herring” , the uncertain conclusion, that I spoke of.

Before we move on, to sum it all up, in this draft I had written, I bring up two ways in which a transformation or a “passing on occurs”: first, passing on, the circuit of passing on, is seen as a philosophical model. But this was conceived in the original essay as a process of developing ideas, a method, as the engine of philosophy perpetually turns towards abstraction / purifcation and then back again towards the world. The despearation of the theorist involves his attempt to “work backwards” to find instances in history that match his theory, not so much out of sheer perversity as the awareness of inevitable failure when working descroptively with the world. The second moment involves, well, (1) a conceptual passage, from the subconsiousness towards the home, which is an instance of the philosophical engine at work, and (2) a consideration of the jungle as the uncanny home, which is itself a passage from some earlier notion of work. So… the whole thing is rather jumbled and there is may not a lot of use in attempting to untangle all the connections that really reach across the declared relational structures.

x x x

But let’s talk about virtuality. The question is, what allows this passage to take place, the passage from the real towards the abstract? Is there any way to move away from the essentialist tendencies? In fact, the home that we come to occupy may have been radically transformed, virtualized, present only as a promise. The uncanny home would then not be the actual, essental occupation of the home but rather the promise of the home. Well, to be more precise, this promise is merely, here, the concept — so that there is no difference between the philosophical and the … “objectivist”, the intellectual and the objectivist.

That is, I propose here that the uncanny is not the sudden rediscovery of a home-like configuration but rather dependant on the very ability to “abstract”. But this process of abstraction is …TBC


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