Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Absolute Recoil

At a more formal level of his logic of reflection, Hegel uses the unique term "absoluter Gegenstoss" (recoil, counter-push, couter-thrust, or, why not, simply counter punch): a withdrawal that creates what it withdraws from:
Reflection, therefore finds before it an intermediate which it transcends and from which it is the return. But this return is only the presupposing of what reflection finds before it. What is thus found only comes to be through being left behind... the reflective movement is to be taken as an absolute recoil [absolter Gegenstoss] upon itself, For the presupposition of the return-into-self -- that from which the essence comes, as is only as this return -- is only in the return itself.
Absoluter Gegenstoss thus stands for the radical coincidence of opposites in which the action appears as its own counter-action, or, more precisely, in which the negative move (loss, withdrawal) itself generates what it "negates". "What is found only comes to be through being left behind,"and its inversion (it is "only in the return itself" that what we return to emerges, like nations who constitute themselves by way of "returning to their lost roots") are tow sides of what Hegel calls "absolute reflection": a reflection which is no longer external to its object, presupposing it as given, but which, as it were, closes the loop and posits its own presupposition. To put it in Derridean terms, the condition of possibility is here radically and simultaneously the condition of impossibility: the very obstacle to the full assertion of our identity opens up the space for it. Another exemplary case: the Hungarian ruling class "had long 'possessed' (ie, patronized and cultivated) a distinctive music, the so-called magyar nota ('Hungarian tune') which in educated Hungarian circles was regarded as a stylistic emblem of the national identity, and predictably, in the nineteenth century, with the great nationalist revival, this style exploded in operas and symphonies. When, at the beginning of the twentieth century, modernist composers like Bartok and Kodalyi started to collect authentic popular music and discovered that it "was of an altogether different style and character from the magyar nota," and even worse, that it consisted of an inextricable mixture of "all the peoples who inhabited 'greater Hungary'- Romanians, Slovaks, Bulgars, Croats, and Serbs - and even ethnically remoter people like the Turks... or the Arabs of North Africa." For this, predictable, Bartok was reviled by the nationalists and felt compelled to leave Hungary.

This, then, is the dialectical process: an inconsistent mess (first phase, the starting point) which is negated and, through negation, the Origin is projected or posited backwards, so that a tension is created between the present and the lost Origin (second phase). In the third phase, the Origin is perceived as inaccessible, relativized- we are in external reflection, that is, our reflection is external to the posited Origin which is experiences as a transcendent presupposition. In the fourth phase of absolute reflection, our external reflexive movement is transposed back into the Origin itself, as its own self-withdrawal or decentering. We thus reach the triad of positing, external reflection, and absolute reflection.

In his critical reading of Hegel, Badiou proposes his own materialist rendering of the quadruple structure of the dialectical process: "indifferent multiplicities, or ontological unbinding: worlds of appearing, or the logical link; truth-procedure, or subjective eternity," plus the Event itself, the additional "vanishing cause, which is the exact opposite of the Whole." As we have just seen, we can find this materialist version of the dialectical process already in Hegel- apropos the British colonization of India, first there is the "indifferent multiplicity" of pre-colonial India; then the British colonizers brutally intervene, imposing the transcendental structure of the colonial order, justified in terms of Western universalism; then the Indian resistance to colonization develops, pointing out how, in colonizing India, the West is betraying its own legacy of egalitarian emancipation. The anti-colonial struggle thus refers to the Idea of India as a secular democratic state, an Idea which originated in the West. The Indian version of this Idea, however, is not a "synthesis" of the Western secular-egalitarian spirit and the Indian tradition, but a full assertion of the egalitarian spirit by way of cutting the roots that ground it in the Western tradition and affirming its actual universality. In short, only when the Western Idea is "ex-apted" by India does it achieve actual universality: when Indians embrace the European democratic-egalitarian Idea, they become more European than the Europeans themselves.
- Slavoj Zizek, "Absolute Recoil: Towards a New Foundation of Dialectical Materialism"

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Conveying Meaning w/o Language, the Kuleshov Effect

Oh Beautiful...

Take up the White Man’s burden—
Send forth the best ye breed—
Go send your sons to exile
To serve your captives' need
To wait in heavy harness
On fluttered folk and wild—
Your new-caught, sullen peoples,
Half devil and half child

Take up the White Man’s burden
In patience to abide
To veil the threat of terror
And check the show of pride;
By open speech and simple
An hundred times made plain
To seek another’s profit
And work another’s gain

Take up the White Man’s burden—
And reap his old reward:
The blame of those ye better
The hate of those ye guard—
The cry of hosts ye humour
(Ah slowly) to the light:
"Why brought ye us from bondage,
“Our loved Egyptian night?”

Take up the White Man’s burden-
Have done with childish days-
The lightly proffered laurel,
The easy, ungrudged praise.
Comes now, to search your manhood
Through all the thankless years,
Cold-edged with dear-bought wisdom,
The judgment of your peers!
-Rudyard Kipling, “The White Man’s Burden: The United States and The Philippine Islands.”

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Hypocrisy Behind "Progressive" Support for BLM

Yo, we be as BAD as we WANT to be... ain't NO one goin' to HARASS us!

e-r-r-r-r...could somebody now please get these "uncastrated/ homeless" others out of here?

The Hypocrisy Behind Western Political Power

More On Laibach's trip to N. Korea

Nietzsche, "Gay Science" (377)
We who are homeless. Among Europeans today there is no lack of those who are entitled to call themselves homeless in a distinctive and honorable sense: it is to them that I especially commend my secret wisdom and gaya scienza. For their fate is hard, their hopes are uncertain; it is quite a feat to devise some comfort for them—but what avail? We children of the future, how could we be at home in this today? We feel disfavor for all ideals that might lead one to feel at home even in this fragile, broken time of transition; as for its "realities," we do not believe that they will last. The ice that still supports people today has become very thin; the wind that brings the thaw is blowing; we ourselves who are homeless constitute a force that breaks open ice and other all too thin "realities."

We "conserve" nothing; neither do we want to return to any past periods; we are not by any means "liberal"; we do not work for "progress"; we do not need to plug up our ears against the sirens who in the market place sing of the future: their song about "equal rights," "a free society," "no more masters and no servants" has no allure for us. We simply do not consider it desirable that a realm of justice and concord should be established on earth (because it would certainly be the realm of the deepest leveling and chinoiserie) [concluding poem, Beyond Good and Evil: "nur wer sich wandelt bleibt mit mir verwandt" (Only those who keep changing remain akin to me)]; we are delighted with all who love, as we do, danger, war, and adventures, who refuse to compromise, to be captured, reconciled, and castrated; we count ourselves among conquerors; we think about the necessity for new orders, also for a new slavery—for every strengthening and enhancement of the human type also involves a new kind of enslavement. Is it not clear that with all this we are bound to feel ill at ease in an age that likes to claim the distinction of being the most humane, the mildest, and the most righteous age that the sun has ever seen? It is bad enough that precisely when we hear these beautiful words we have the ugliest suspicions. What we find in them is merely an expression—and a masquerade—of a profound weakening, of weariness, of old age, of declining energies. What can it matter to us what tinsel the sick may use to cover up their weakness? Let them parade it as their virtue; after all, there is no doubt that weakness makes one mild, oh so mild, so righteous, so inoffensive, so "humane"!

The "religion of pity" to which one would like to convert us—oh, we know the hysterical little males and females well enough who today need precisely this religion as a veil and make-up. We are no humanitarians; we should never dare to permit ourselves to speak of our "love for humanity"; our kind is not actor enough for that. Or not Saint-Simonist enough [i.e., not a utopian socialist], not French enough. One really has to be afflicted with a Gallic excess of erotic irritability and enamored impatience to approach in all honesty the whole of humanity with one’s lust!

Humanity! Has there ever been a more hideous old woman among all old women—(unless it were "truth": a question for philosophers)? No, we do not love humanity ["Man is something that shall be overcome": Thus Spake Zarathustra, Prologue]; but on the other hand we are not nearly "German" enough, in the sense in which the word "German" is constantly being used nowadays, to advocate nationalism and race hatred and to be able to take pleasure in the national scabies of the heart and blood poisoning that now leads the nations of Europe to delimit and barricade themselves against each other as if it were a matter of quarantine. For that we are too openminded, too malicious, too spoiled, also too well informed, too "traveled": we far prefer to live on mountains, apart, "untimely," in past or future centuries, merely in order to keep ourselves from experiencing the silent rage to which we know we should be condemned as eyewitnesses of politics that are desolating the German spirit by making it vain and that is, moreover, petty politics: to keep its own creation from immediately falling apart again, is it not finding it necessary to plant it between two deadly hatreds? must it not desire the eternalization of the European system of a lot of petty states?

We who are homeless are too manifold and mixed racially and in our descent, being "modern men," and consequently do not feel tempted to participate in the mendacious racial self-admiration and racial indecency that parades in Germany today as a sign of a German way of thinking and that is doubly false and obscene among the people of the "historical sense." We are, in one word—and let this be our word of honor—good Europeans, the heirs of Europe, the rich, oversupplied, but also overly obligated heirs of thousands of years of European spirit. As such, we have also outgrown Christianity and are averse to it—precisely because we have grown out of it, because our ancestors were Christians who in their Christianity were uncompromisingly upright: for their faith they willingly sacrificed possessions and position, blood and fatherland. We—do the same. For what? For our unbelief? For every kind of unbelief? No, you know better than that, friends! The hidden Yes in you is stronger than all Nos and Maybes that afflict you and your age like a disease; and when you have to embark on the sea, you emigrants, you, too, are compelled to this by—a faith!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Dialectical Materialism

I was thinking about dialectical materialism at the supermarket,

strolling among the Chilean tomatoes and the Filipino pineapples,

admiring the Washington-state apples stacked in perfect pyramid displays
by the ebony man from Zimbabwe wearing the Chicago Bulls t-shirt.

I was seeing the whole produce section
as a system of cross-referenced signifiers
in a textbook of historical economics

and the fine spray that misted the vegetables
was like the cool mist of style imposed on meaning.

It was one of those days
when interpretation is brushing its varnish over everything

when even the birds are speaking complete sentences

and the sun is a brassy blond novelist of immense accomplishment
dictating her new blockbuster
to a stenographer who types at the speed of light
and publishes each page as fast as it is written.

There was cornbread rising in the bakery department
and in its warm aroma I believed that I could smell
the exhaled breath of vanished Iroquois,
their journey west and
delicate withdrawal into the forests,

whereas by comparison
the coarse-grained wheat baguettes

seemed to irrepressibly exude
the sturdy sweat and labor of eighteenth-century Europe.

My god there is so much sorrow in the grocery store!
You would have to be high
on the fumes of the piped-in pan flutes
of commodified Peruvian folk music

not to be driven practically crazy
with awe and shame,
not to weep at the scale of subjugated matter:

the ripped-up etymologies of kiwi fruit and bratwurst,
the roads paved with dead languages,
the jungles digested by foreign money.

It’s the owners, I said to myself;
it’s the horrible juggernaut of progress;

but the cilantro in my hand
opened up its bitter minty ampoule underneath my nose

and the bossa nova muzak charmed me like a hypnotist
and the pretty cashier with the shaved head and nose ring
said, Have a nice day.

as I burst with my groceries through the automatic doors
into the open air,

where I found myself in a giant parking lot
at a mega-mall outside of Minneapolis,

where in row E 87
a Ford Escort from Mankato
had just had a fender-bender with a Honda from Miami;

and these personified portions of my heart, the drivers,
were standing there
in the gathering Midwestern granular descending dusk

waiting for the troopers to fill out the accident report,

with the rotating red light of the squad car
whipping in circles above them,
splashing their shopped-out middle-aged faces
with war paint the hue of cherry Gatorade

and each of them was thinking
how with dialectical materialism, accidents happen:

how at any minute,
convenience can turn
into a kind of trouble you never wanted.
-Tony Hoagland, "Dialectical Materialism"

Sunday, February 12, 2017

The Lovers of the Poor...

arrive. The Ladies from the Ladies’ Betterment League
Arrive in the afternoon, the late light slanting
In diluted gold bars across the boulevard brag
Of proud, seamed faces with mercy and murder hinting
Here, there, interrupting, all deep and debonair,
The pink paint on the innocence of fear;
Walk in a gingerly manner up the hall.
Cutting with knives served by their softest care,
Served by their love, so barbarously fair.
Whose mothers taught: You’d better not be cruel!
You had better not throw stones upon the wrens!
Herein they kiss and coddle and assault
Anew and dearly in the innocence
With which they baffle nature. Who are full,
Sleek, tender-clad, fit, fiftyish, a-glow, all
Sweetly abortive, hinting at fat fruit,
Judge it high time that fiftyish fingers felt
Beneath the lovelier planes of enterprise.
To resurrect. To moisten with milky chill.
To be a random hitching-post or plush.
To be, for wet eyes, random and handy hem.
Their guild is giving money to the poor.
The worthy poor. The very very worthy
And beautiful poor. Perhaps just not too swarthy?
perhaps just not too dirty nor too dim
Nor—passionate. In truth, what they could wish
Is—something less than derelict or dull.
Not staunch enough to stab, though, gaze for gaze!
God shield them sharply from the beggar-bold!
The noxious needy ones whose battle’s bald
Nonetheless for being voiceless, hits one down.
But it’s all so bad! and entirely too much for them.
The stench; the urine, cabbage, and dead beans,
Dead porridges of assorted dusty grains,
The old smoke, heavy diapers, and, they’re told,
Something called chitterlings. The darkness. Drawn
Darkness, or dirty light. The soil that stirs.
The soil that looks the soil of centuries.
And for that matter the general oldness. Old
Wood. Old marble. Old tile. Old old old.
Not homekind Oldness! Not Lake Forest, Glencoe.
Nothing is sturdy, nothing is majestic,
There is no quiet drama, no rubbed glaze, no
Unkillable infirmity of such
A tasteful turn as lately they have left,
Glencoe, Lake Forest, and to which their cars
Must presently restore them. When they’re done
With dullards and distortions of this fistic
Patience of the poor and put-upon.
They’ve never seen such a make-do-ness as
Newspaper rugs before! In this, this “flat,”
Their hostess is gathering up the oozed, the rich
Rugs of the morning (tattered! the bespattered. . . .)
Readies to spread clean rugs for afternoon.
Here is a scene for you. The Ladies look,
In horror, behind a substantial citizeness
Whose trains clank out across her swollen heart.
Who, arms akimbo, almost fills a door.
All tumbling children, quilts dragged to the floor
And tortured thereover, potato peelings, soft-
Eyed kitten, hunched-up, haggard, to-be-hurt.
Their League is allotting largesse to the Lost.
But to put their clean, their pretty money, to put
Their money collected from delicate rose-fingers
Tipped with their hundred flawless rose-nails seems . . .
They own Spode, Lowestoft, candelabra,
Mantels, and hostess gowns, and sunburst clocks,
Turtle soup, Chippendale, red satin “hangings,”
Aubussons and Hattie Carnegie. They Winter
In Palm Beach; cross the Water in June; attend,
When suitable, the nice Art Institute;
Buy the right books in the best bindings; saunter
On Michigan, Easter mornings, in sun or wind.
Oh Squalor! This sick four-story hulk, this fibre
With fissures everywhere! Why, what are bringings
Of loathe-love largesse? What shall peril hungers
So old old, what shall flatter the desolate?
Tin can, blocked fire escape and chitterling
And swaggering seeking youth and the puzzled wreckage
Of the middle passage, and urine and stale shames
And, again, the porridges of the underslung
And children children children. Heavens! That
Was a rat, surely, off there, in the shadows? Long
And long-tailed? Gray? The Ladies from the Ladies’
Betterment League agree it will be better
To achieve the outer air that rights and steadies,
To hie to a house that does not holler, to ring
Bells elsetime, better presently to cater
To no more Possibilities, to get
Away. Perhaps the money can be posted.
Perhaps they two may choose another Slum!
Some serious sooty half-unhappy home!—
Where loathe-love likelier may be invested.
Keeping their scented bodies in the center
Of the hall as they walk down the hysterical hall,
They allow their lovely skirts to graze no wall,
Are off at what they manage of a canter,
And, resuming all the clues of what they were,
Try to avoid inhaling the laden air.
- Gwendolyn Brooks, "The Lovers of the Poor" (1963)

Are We All Discontent Enough, Yet?

Marketing Revolution in support Of non-Free Market Revolutions?
When the economy tanks
Unregulated globalized free market capitalism run amuck
People are told to be thankful to have a job
Even if you are miserable with that job
And with service sector jobs making up 80% of employment
Misery is widespread
Underpaid, undervalued, underappreciated
We are human beings for fucks sake
We are starved for more than selling shoes
If being thankful for misery is the best option
It's time to re-evaluate
- The Jolteon, "Misery Loves Companies" (1/16/15)

Welcome to the new "Revolution without revolution". Watch as the elite entertainment media provide us with this brand-new outrage track for the new and improved interpassive made-for-Wall-Street version of, "Don't just stand there, watch me pretend to DO Something!"