Thursday, July 25, 2013

Techniques for De-Centering Monadologies

Like Foucault, Deleuze and Giattari reject modernist models of subjectivity, which, with their emphasis upon temporality and the State, conceive of the subject as unified, rational, and static. This subject, Deleuze claims in "The Fold," has no place in the present age, which "is now made up of divergent series (the chaosmos) and no which longer tolerates "the differences of inside and outside, of public and private. Likewise, "the Leibnitzian monad is no longer able "to contain the whole world," and instead "opens on a trajectory or a spiral in expansion that moves further and further away from a center." In the postmodern era, Deleuze concludes, monadology is overtaken by "nomadology," the striation of the logos makes way for the smooth space of the nomos, and the sedentary subject-as-monad becomes a decentered, "schizophrenic," embodied, and active subject-as-nomad.
Peta Mitchell, "Cartographic Strategies of Postmodernity: The Figure of the Map in Contemporary Theory and Fiction"

The Greek term nomos is crucial to the "Treatise on Nomadology" where Deleuze and Guattari discuss nomadism most directly and extensively. But the Greek term itself can be internally differentiated, by considering it in relation to a series of distinct concepts from which it is most often distinguished in Greek philosophy: physis, logos, and polis. As distinguished from polis, nomos refers to space outside of city walls (originally pasture land), a space not subject to the laws and mode of organization of the state (or city-state). It is the distinction between polis and nomos that generates the sense of nomadism as a way of occupying space that is characteristic of nomadic people....Far more often in Greek philosophy, nomois is distinguished from physis. In this context, it refers to the domain of human culture as distinct from that of nature. If we were to formulate a speculative topography, we could situate nomos between the unruly realm of nature or wilderness (physis), on the one hand, and the enclosed and regulated space of the city or state (polis), on the other.
Buchanan and Swiboda, "Deleuze and Music"

Monadic Heretical Fates

The sweetest Heresy received
That Man and Woman know—
Each Other's Convert—
Though the Faith accommodate but Two—

The Churches are so frequent—
The Ritual—so small—
The Grace so unavoidable—
To fail—is Infidel—
-Emily Dickinson

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Whale Resurrections

Where, oh where, Aspidochelone?
"The idea that the passage of the magical threshold is a transit into a sphere of rebirth is symbolized in the worldwide womb image of the belly of the whale. The hero, instead of conquering or conciliating the power of the threshold, is swallowed into the unknown and would appear to have died . . . . This popular motif gives emphasis to the lesson that the passage of the threshold is a form of self-annihilation. Instead of passing outward, beyond the confines of the visible world, the hero goes inward, to be born again. The disappearance corresponds to the passing of a worshipper into a temple – where he is to be quickened by the recollection of who and what he is, namely dust and ashes unless immortal. The temple interior, the belly of the whale, and the heavenly land beyond, above, and below the confines of the world, are one and the same. That is why the approaches and entrances to temples are flanked and defended by colossal gargoyles: dragons, lions, devil-slayers with drawn swords, resentful dwarfs, winged bulls. The devotee at the moment of entry into a temple undergoes a metamorphosis. . . . . Once inside he may be said to have died to time and returned to the World Womb, the World Navel, the Earthly Paradise. Allegorically, then, the passage into a temple and the hero-dive through the jaws of the whale are identical adventures, both denoting in picture language, the life-centering, life-renewing act"
- Joseph Campbell

Saturday, July 20, 2013

"Right" Whales in the Economic Oceans - Laissez Faire

from Wikipedia
Laissez faire was proclaimed by the physiocrats in the eighteenth century France, thus being the very core of the economic principles, and was more developed by famous economists, beginning with Adam Smith.[11] "It is with the physiocrats and the classical political economy that the term "laissez faire" is ordinarily associated." The book Laissez Faire and the General-Welfare State mentions that, "The physiocrats, reacting against the excessive mercantilist regulations of the France of their day, expressed a belief in a "natural order" or liberty under which individuals in following their selfish interests contributed to the general good. Since, in their view, this natural order functioned successfully without the aid of government, they advised the state to restrict itself to upholding the rights of private property and individual liberty, to removing all artificial barriers to trade, and to abolishing all useless laws."

In England, a number of "free trade" and "non-interference" slogans had been coined already during the 17th century.[citation needed] But the French phrase laissez faire gained currency in English-speaking countries with the spread of Physiocratic literature in the late 18th century. The Colbert-LeGendre anecdote was relayed in George Whatley's 1774 Principles of Trade (co-authored with Benjamin Franklin) - which may be the first appearance of the phrase in an English language publication.

Laissez-faire, a product of the Enlightenment, was "conceived as the way to unleash human potential through the restoration of a natural system, a system unhindered by the restrictions of government." In a similar vein, Adam Smith viewed the economy as a natural system and the market as an organic part of that system. Smith saw Laissez-faire as a moral program, and the market its instrument to ensure men the rights of natural law. By extension, free markets become a reflection of the natural system of liberty. "For Smith, laissez-faire was a program for the abolition of laws constraining the market, a program for the restoration of order and for the activation of potential growth."

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Every Man an Author/Director/Producer

The Age of Toffler's Pro-sumer has arrived

No more going to the movies for entertainment... every man produces his own and shares them on YouTube!

Even my work-out is now "art"! ;)

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Humanity's "Absolute" Gains

Slavoj Zizek, in a presentation to Deutsche House at NYU, spoke as a materialist on the subject of history and the role of German Idealism in contributing to human gain. He introduced the subject by stating that humanities "absolute gain" from the Peloponnesian War was Thucydides history, and not the death and devastation that the war produced. He went on to state that humanity's "absolute" gain from the Elizabethan era was the works of Shakespeare, ersatz, "books." And so the world of "thought" and the books that store them are the absolute products of historical epochs, the works of Alfred Hitchcock the "absolute" products of the American Einsenhowerian epoch. And so the real question becomes, what "absolute" and immortal works will our current Age likely will humanity? Hopefully, it will be a bit more than entertaining popular spectacles.

Crossed Signals

This is my wish for you:
Comfort on difficult days,
Smiles when sadness intrudes,
Rainbows to follow the clouds,
Laughter to kiss your lips,
Sunsets to warm your heart,
Hugs when spirits sag,
Beauty for your eyes to see,
Friendships to brighten your being,
Faith so that you can believe,
Confidence for when you doubt,
Courage to know yourself,
Patience to accept the truth,
Love to complete your life.
- Anonymous

Tuesday, July 9, 2013


Although at the start of Seminar X he says little about these two concepts, Lacan situates acting out, as well as the related concept of passage to the act, on the three-by-three matrix that he opens this Seminar with (19.12.62.):

It is only later in Seminar X that Lacan returns to the above matrix when discussing what he describes as the passage a l’acte in the case of Freud’s patient known by the unfortunate moniker of ‘the female homosexual’. She takes a walk with the woman she loves in the neighbourhood where her father works; he sees them and shoots her a menacing glare. It is at this point that she experiences what Lacan describes as a “moment of greatest embarrassment… with the behavioural addition of emotion as disorder of movement”, as per the matrix (Seminar X, 23.01.63.) This emotion, coupled with a disorder of movement, realises what Lacan calls the two conditions for the passage a l’acte which takes the form of the jump onto the railway line. For Lacan, this passage a l’acte reduces the patient to the status of object a:

“What comes at this moment to the subject, is her absolute identification to this a [object a], to which she is reduced. Confrontation with this desire of the father upon which all her behaviour is constructed, with this law which is presentified in the look of the father, it is through this that she feels herself identified and at the same moment, rejected, ejected off the stage” (Seminar X, 16.01.63.).

The desire of the father, in other words, is condensed into the gaze, his scornful glare which precipitates her suicide attempt. Unlike acting out, the passage a l’acte of which this scene is an example is not simply demonstrative. It does not make an appeal to the Other like acting out does.
"What Does Lacan Say About Acting Out?"

Monday, July 8, 2013

Solving the Case of the Disappearing "Big Other"

For Žižek, only Christ makes atheism possible, functioning as a ‘transitional object’ like the favourite teddy bear of a small child negotiating the relationship between internal and external worlds. The teddy bear both is and is not the child, is and is not the external world, and by marking the distinction between the two acts both as a bridge and a border, creating the two spheres between which it mediates. Eventually the bear loses its function as the antagonism between inner and outer worlds is inscribed throughout reality as the child knows it, and is in fact constitutive of this reality. Both inner and outer reality are functions of the human mind, and human subjectivity is possible only insofar as some element of the subject evades the subject’s control. We made the world, but it overwhelms us, and the element of the world which is beyond our control is the ‘monstrosity’ which is Christ. Christ, like the teddy bear, is a ‘vanishing mediator’, expressing our alienation from ourselves, and, by dying, forcing us to the realisation that this alienation is within us, is constitutive of our very selves.

As we rely on alienation for selfhood, so law relies on transgression. Law appears as an imposition from outside, forbidding the satisfaction of our innermost desires, when in fact it is prohibition which creates those desires. The key to escaping the destructive cycle of law, sin and desire is not to move beyond the law to love, but to recognise that both law and sin are within us - that there is no ‘big Other’, no transcendent parental lawgiver - and to fully embrace the law as our own self. Only Christianity makes such an atheism possible, because only in Christianity does God die. This is why Žižek is a Protestant: our ethical choices are not mediated to us by our communities, but each of us is responsible for ourselves alone. ‘The true formula of atheism is “there is no big Other”.'
- Marika Rose, "A modest plea for a Chestertonian reading of the Monstrosity of Christ"


from Wikipedia:
A vanishing mediator is a concept that exists to mediate between two opposing ideas, as a transition occurs between them. At the point where one idea has been replaced by the other, and the concept is no longer required, the mediator vanishes. In terms of Hegelian dialectics the conflict between the theoretical abstraction and its empirical negation (through trial and error) is resolved by a concretion of the two ideas, representing a theoretical abstraction taking into account the previous contradiction, whereupon the mediator vanishes.

In terms of psychoanalytic theory, when someone is caught in a dilemma they experience Hysteria. A conceptual deadlock exists until the resulting Hysteric breakdown precipitates some kind of resolution, therefore the Hysteria is a vanishing mediator in this case.


from the "Critique of Pure Interest" blog:
Thus in the following syllogism:

“Every human is mortal
Socrates is a human
Therefore Socrates is mortal”

the term “human” is the middle term mediating between “Socrates” and “mortal” (each of which Aristotle calls an “extreme”, akron). The middle term allowes the extremes to be linked in the conclusion. Note that the middle term itself does not appear in the conclusion. It is in fact common knowledge in Aristotelian syllogistics that middle terms never appear in the conclusions they make possible by mediating between the premises: middle terms disappear once they have fulfilled their mediating function. Hence the fact that the middle term is traditionally also known as the “silent term”.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Everybody Can Can!

Why was the story of Orpheus THE opera topic in the first century of its history, when there are recorded almost one hundred versions of it? The figure of Orpheus asking Gods to bring him back his Euridice stands for an intersubjecive constellation which provides as it were the elementary matrix of the opera, more precisely, of the operatic aria: the relationship of the subject (in both senses of the term: autonomous agent as well as the subject of legal power) to his Master (Divinity, King, or the Lady of the courtly love) is revealed through the hero's song (the counterpoint to the collectivity embodied in the chorus), which is basically a supplication addressed to the Master, a call to him to show mercy, to make an exception, or otherwise forgive the hero his trespass. The first, rudimentary, form of subjectivity is this voice of the subject beseeching the Master to suspend, for a brief moment, his own Law. A dramatic tension in subjectivity arises from the ambiguity between power and impotence that pertains to the gesture of grace by means of which the Master answers the subject's entreaty. As to the official ideology, grace expresses the Master's supreme power, the power to rise above one's own law: only a really powerful Master can afford to distribute mercy. What we have here is a kind of symbolic exchange between the human subject and his divine Master: when the subject, the human mortal, by way of his offer of self-sacrifice, surmounts his finitude and attains the divine heights, the Master responds with the sublime gesture of Grace, the ultimate proof of HIS humanity. Yet this act of grace is at the same time branded by the irreducible mark of a forced empty gesture: the Master ultimately makes a virtue out of necessity, in that he promotes as a free act what he is in any case compelled to do - if he refuses clemency, he takes the risk that the subject's respectful entreaty will turn into open rebellion.

For that reason, the temporal proximity of the emergence of opera to Descartes' formulation of cogito is more that a fortuitous coincidence: one is even tempted to say that the move from Monteverdi's Orfeo to Gluck's Orpheus and Euridice corresponds to the move from Descartes to Kant. What Gluck contributed was a new form of subjectivization. In Monteverdi we have sublimation in its purest: after Orpheus turns around to cast a glance at Euridice and thus loses her, the Divinity consoles him - true, he has lost her as a flesh-and-blood person, but from now on, he will be able to discern her beautiful features everywhere, in the stars in the sky, in the glistening of the morning dew... Orpheus is quick to accept the narcissistic profit of this reversal: he becomes enraptured with the poetic glorification of Euridice that lies ahead of him - to put it succinctly, he no longer loves HER, what he loves is the vision of HIMSELF displaying his love for her.

This, of course, throws another light on the eternal question of why Orpheus looked back and thus screwed things up. What we encounter here is simply the link between the death-drive and creative sublimation: Orpheus' backward gaze is a perverse act stricto sensu, he loses Euridice intentionally in order to regain her as the object of sublime poetic inspiration (this idea was developed by Klaus Theweleit1). But should one not go here even a step further? What if Euridice herself, aware of the impasse of her beloved Orpheus, intentionally provoked his turning around? What if her reasoning was something like: "I know he loves me; but he is potentially a great poet, this is his fate, and he cannot fulfill that promise by being happily married to me - so the only ethical thing for me to do is to sacrifice myself, to provoke him into turning around and losing me, so that he will be able to become the great poet he deserves to be - and then she starts gently coughing or something similar to attract his attention... Examples are here innumerable: like Euridice who, by sacrificing herself, i.e. by intentionally provoking Orpheus into turning his gaze towards her and thus sending her back to Hades, delivers his creativity and sets him free to pursue his poetic mission...
-Slavoj Zizek, "On Opera: The Sex of Oepheus"

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Exposing the "Rule of Law" Delusion

. . . the advent of Law entails a kind of ‘disalienation’: in so far as the Other itself appears submitted to the ‘absolute condition’ of Law, the subject is no more at the mercy of the Other’s whim, its desire is no more totally alienated in the Other’s desire. . . In contrast to the ‘post-structuralist’ notion of a law checking, canalizing, alienating, oppressing ‘Oedipianizing’ some previous ‘flux of desire,’ Law is here conceived as an agency of ‘disalienation’ and ‘liberation’: it opens our access to desire by enabling us to disengage ourselves from the rule of the Other’s whim.
- Slavoj Zizek, "For They Know Not What They Do"
"While the public has cried out support of my shining a light on this secret system of injustice, the Government of the United States of America responded with an extrajudicial man-hunt costing me my family, my freedom to travel, and my right to live peacefully without fear of illegal aggression," Snowden wrote.

In his WikiLeaks statement, Snowden lashed out at President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden for pressing Ecuador to turn him away.

"This kind of deception from a world leader is not justice, and neither is the extralegal penalty of exile," he said.

"Without any judicial order, the administration now seeks to stop me exercising a basic right," Snowden said. "A right that belongs to everybody. The right to seek asylum ... Their purpose is to frighten, not me, but those who would come after me."

U.S. Justice Department spokeswoman Nanda Chitre rejected Snowden's allegation that he was marooned, "since he is still a United States citizen and his country is willing to take him back."

"As the State Department has already said, the U.S. government is prepared to issue individuals wanted on felony charges a one entry travel document to return home," she said.