(Lyotard) considers atheism to be reactive, repeating a gesture of negation that belongs to theology rather than to the impulsions of an energetic unconscious which, as Freud argues, knows no negativity. What Nietzschean thought requires, he suggests, is a disinvestment of monotheism and not a critique of it. Christianity should not be attacked but abandoned, since atheism merely perpetuates the memory traces that foster the depressive states of ressentiment and disgust. Lyotard seeks to persuade his readers that the thought of the death of God merely dampens libidinal intensities if it is treated as anything other than a matter of indifference. God should bore us into forgetting rather than provoking us into revolt. – Nick Land, The Thirst for Annihilation, p. 12But of course, god and Mab are not the problems which concern us. But this tactic of divestment joins up with the drop-out, escapee, general strike, boycott in negating negation itself.
What is the difference between counting angels on the head of a pin and arguing over the difference between philosophical concepts (identity, being, nothing with-or-without-the-commas) when even presence and absence are problematic? There is a trace of me still in the bathroom. A double amputee still retains identity and wholeness. Obviously one's legs have no significance to one's being, only to behaving which cannot belong to the world of "thing". Like the soul, behaviour has no material existence. It is therefore not objective. Perhaps we should not speak of objective behaviour, but of the behaviour of objects, be they as they may. Can a soul be a thing in and of itself when it is defined as immaterial in the first place? What is immaterial is of no consequence. We divest ourselves from it, turn elsewhere, ignore it, it disappears. Might this be what became of our own lives?
"If men define situations as real, they are real in their consequences" [ – Thomas Theorem, 1928].
I do not ask that you place hands upon the tyrant to topple him over, but simply that you support him no longer; then you will behold him, like a great Colossus whose pedestal has been pulled away, fall of his own weight and break into pieces. – Boétie, 1548Habit and memory are the problem of the collective unconscious and collective consciousness. But we do know that selective amnesia is as possible as selective hearing loss. Someone once said it is possible to quit smoking, but it is never easy, that is, until one is told there is cancer, even when it is obvious that cancer did not become pervasive until we radiated the environment. When informed that they have arrived at the age where death by natural causes is not only possible, but imminent, old folks find it very easy to forget the present.
Communism is neither negation nor human nature, but a desert evening primrose coming up from the crack in a rock, and living only a day or two. Found only in situations, it wilts immediately when picked. You cannot keep it. It is not something we can transplant, yet it cannot be ignored and is not easily forgotten.
This conflict is real enough I suspect and is the source of many problems. Consciousness of it is necessary, but is not itself a solution. It requires the constant practice (in the sense of practicing to throw a ball, not in the overly politicized sense of praxis) of confronting this conflict or disjunction, not with the idea that we ever perfect it, but understanding that the engagement is itself what matters. – C. W.and
It seems to me that not only is capitalism necessary, therefore, for communism, but that communism only exists as possibility out of capitalism and any potential of it prior to capitalist society ought to be treated in the same way that Marx and Engels treated Darwin: it was the development of human beings and our self-knowledge that made it possible to make sense out of the apes, and thus the ape is necessary for homo sapiens, but only the ape. We can't say what prior to the ape led to homo sapiens except after the fact, and even then only tangentially. – C. W.If the ape is a tolerable agent even tangentially in theoretical discourse, why not the !Kung Bushman, who is also homo sapien but not ape?
One point of view suggests that when the colossus has fallen from its own weight, the only ones left will be the !kung (the quote I'm stealing from said "Hmong"). Analogously, when the 'corporation' goes bankrupt, the prole will be all that's left and will be forced to manage things on its own ("All your base are belong to us!").
As you say, "It requires the constant practice". Those left who "practice" (act-as-if, pretend) communism in their own situational engagements will be the source of "communism becoming". We should expect to see many things sprout in addition to "self-managed" proles. The stumbling point for organized revolution (and revolutionary organizations!) is the notion that "we should all be on the same page". Revolution as "taking over" is best played by sending out a questionaire and then rounding up anyone who answered wrong. But then, where's the difference in that?
A different view sees capital itself undergoing a transformation, like from ape-like being to man. This is the Marxist view when it maintains a sense of "natural progress". It might just be that these are not antagonistic processes. In biology, punctuated equilibrium (the "rupture", but only seen as such after the fact) may be the consequence of an imperceptible change in embryology. Any future condition (set of relations) logically or semantically requires collapse of past conditions, else we cannot say "things have changed".
In this view, albeit still a bit progressive, revolution and collapse are equivalent. The difference is between engaging now and putting engagements off till some future time. This brings back the notions of agency and helplessness, and is probably why SI focused on "creating situations". On this line, the justification for doing nothing by the slogan "The revolution is everywhere or it is nowhere" falls on the same ground as "The rain must fall everywhere or nowhere". It is an absurdity for behaving organisms, a necessity only for automatons thinking themselves isolated gears stuck in a fast moving machine. – cf.Thomas Theorem
Capitalism is global, so obviously future possibilities for communism will be seen after the fact as sprouting forth from it. This logical necessity of sequence cannot be used to deny any past existence of communism, which is the primitivist counter to the standard marxian argument against them. A broader research, even within historicism, illustrates that contact between the civil and uncivil, as well as memory traces found in, say, Homer's writings (as well as more modern etymologies) gave us the notion of primitive communism in the first place. It was depicted by early Greeks searching their own roots as the "Golden Age" of hero poets. Later "greeks" co-opted the term to refer to successful pinnacles of civilisation: Clasical Greece and Rome.
In Jungian terms (which I only take as metaphor), communism would represent an archetype, a memory trace, an invariant but fossilized artifact. I'd say, with the ecological perspective, communism is not a matter of human nature, but nature itself, that is, if Kropotkin's views are seen supplanting the neo-darwinists.
If workers/producers are alienated from (and only from or even centrally from) the means of production, and it can be agreed that from the capitalist's perspective, workers are the means of production (along with their tools), then "and only &c" must be scratched out. Alienation is then merely from ownership of tools and design of the job description. Workers are part of the bundle, a component of the tool. This remains important as we move toward the idea of community property. Their alienation cannot merely be from the means of production (they are inextricably interwoven into productive systems) – they are also alienated from the ends of production. For many, this translates as a loss of individuality. In either case, workers are owned, or at least driven by the commodities they collectively produce. It just gets all too confusing. Sociologically, the argument between individual and social agency is only a convenient diversion. The real place of alienation is nowhere, or at least betwixt and between, neither here nor there. Alienation is a contradictory but not inconsequential existence.
I think the only thing workers are not alienated from is the means of production, whether in a capitalist run factory in the private-property state, or the autonomous community property collective – the commune, fasci, kibbutz, soviet. What is reproduced is in every case work for the sake of a product which is 'owned' by no one till it is cut up and distributed equally. Separation is only reinforced.
Alienation does not easily follow any logic outside of specific philosophical or theological dualities, oppositions such as body-mind/soul, praxis-theory, work-play or body-will (desire plus agency). Since workers already 'will' (are disposed, inclined) to work, and revolutionary workers aspire to master their own work through "self-management", even the 'will' part is unacceptable as something alienated, as long as work or production is maintained. This provides the focal logic of class struggle and the impossibility of it's becoming all out war.
In most situations, the producer "feels" alienated in a very general sense: s/he'd rather be doing something else. Anything else! Therefore, the focus for insurrectionist anarchists easily shifts from the means and ends of productive systems to a more generalized "alienation from desire". For the democratically inclined, the focus comes back toward an altruistic sacrifice for the greater good.
On the other hand, neo-marxism insists, there are workers whose desire concerns the problem, "I'd rather be doing this job differently!" (My way?) and their frustration (the capitalist contradiction) represents a lack of control over their situation. This is the appropriate revolutionary consciousness, a will to autonomy and self-management by workers. No more bosses, but keep our jobs, as the same ends are desired whether or not there is a revolution.
But with a fair distribution of commodities, and the elimination of unnecessary work, the masses will be those whose desire takes them outside of production altogether. The everyday living will be artists. The workers with the appropriate revolutionary consciousness (now and still a minority) become the slaves of the masses disguised by their fetish for production and the label given them: "Dictator". Dictator is just another word for "public servant" until consumers tire of the banality of necessities and desire the resurrection of luxury, the rare commodity necessary to spark their imaginations.
Even when (and especially when) desire is added to the equation, "from each according to ability to each according to needs", the master-slave dialectic remains. I'd call this the hegelian conundrum. Desire, for the sake of egalitarian justice, must be removed from the equation. Everyone must put in their time at the factory and farm, if only three hours a day and four days a week, and through a somehow newly acquired sense of altruistic sacrifice, activity centers around the "essential" commodity and its production. Art is so bourgeois!
This is Maoism. Mao became a counterrevolutionary when he suggested the bureaucrats spend two weeks a year on the farm shoveling shit. The bureaucrats wanted to bring in coca cola, macdonlds and boeing to help build up and manage industrial production. Bureaucrats could not take time away from their desires to maintain their function as movers and shakers of the revolution, which tied to and based in production, is the same job description as prior to the revolution, movers and shakers of production and distribution. This is stalinism. The revolution was not recuperated in either case (Soviet Union, China), the revolution was an illusion in the first place. Just a variation on a theme.
When discourse centers on the means of producing commodities or even their distribution, commodity fetishism is not only maintained but reinforced. Social relations are still mediated by the product. With a shoe fetish, sexual desire cannot be fulfilled without footwear. Alienation from unmediated sexual desire is motorized at the shoe factory. The shoe factory requires cattle ranches, abattoirs, oil wells, riggers, coal miners, dam builders, typesetters, programmers, painters and rap singers to establish the rhythm and sense of merriment to work by. But at least it's not capitalism, right?
Historicism posits universal stages which must be experienced prior to their eclipse. It is one-dimensional in that it sees autonomous lines, independent of or controlling toward intervening variables and discounts the influence or even existence of other "lines". It sets itself up as a singularity before it even gets airborne. At least historical materialism acknowledges contextual and sequential influences, but there are more influences than the material, unless, consistent with calvinism and reductive rational positivism, the dog-eat-dog material flow of energy and resource is the basis of everything. In that case, the supersession of labour and production is an absurdity. So goes the revolution into the realm of wishful thinking and other faerie tales.
To avoid the trappings of unilinear stage theory, it may be helpful to introduce the notion of entropy and noise. In a cartesian sense, capital is located everywhere, true. But it is not into everything and hasn't near the control over intervening variables it wishes (and advertises). Hence, periodic crises which escalate right alongside the (historically successful) attempts to capitalise on them. But what is my noise (meddlement and inconvenience) is their staple diet; what I thrive on is just inconsequential system chatter to "them". It passes by even professionally trained analysts of chatter.
Dead labour? We all float down here, amidst dead folks and worn out ideas, artifacts and archetypes. I would not be silly enough to try to resurrect them, but keep certain memories alive, so to speak. Capital will die not from a mystical collapse, a progressive transformation or revolution toward utopia, but suicide – self-induced system crash. Call me mad, my own death-drive is a civil artifact I no longer find pleasing or wish to share. "They" (the engineers and protectors of the present) are unwittingly doing more toward their own end than any amount of revolutionary agency set against them. Historic revolutions have only prolonged matters. Kropotkin said the real revolution won't have even started until the fighting at the barricades is over. This is the social revolution, and at this point, whether at the barricades or on the bleachers, we cannot predict what it will entail. There is some reason to believe the barricades are not even necessary. But I am a utopianist: when I think of the future, I can only hope there will be air to breathe and room to breath it.
Marx was no less utopianist than Rousseau. He early on talked about the supersession of production to free up creativity. It is said the supersession of work by art will generate the supersession of art by life – communism. Rousseau talked of ends, Marx laid out means. I am not suggesting their ends were even commensurable except in the broadest sense, but they were equally romantic – the romanticism of harmonious machineworks is equivalent to that of free spirited factory management and free love by forest-dwelling sprites. There are no demands placed on possibility. I have no problem with romance or utopia or their combination. Certainly there is a need for imagination?
The tradition which has followed Marx has rarely posited the end of production. First and last, we have to take over its means. Even for Marx, there is no such thing as communist production. Freeing creativity is where the human of humanism comes in. It has to respect difference, not unify it, or individual creativity is gone. Otherwise, we thereafter work, all in the same factory. This is the new argument of sustainable production.
This is as absurdly non-reactionary as separating use and exchange value, when what needs broken is the bond between use and value. The inherent tit-for-tat exchange can then disappear into its own entropy. But we will lose interest only when we can no longer bear it.
Locality is the important clue in an economic interpretation of communism. Within the local group (like used to occur within families) things are shared. Between groups, there is "trade". But without the notion of property, this is only a simultaneous coming together at a specific point in time bearing gifts. Federated locality is a state when it maintains value and obligatory return, supply and demand (or needs and ability) in a pragmatically balanced equation. Exploitation is always waiting in the wings, within the background noise, to leap upon us like a cougar from a tree.
I don't think that "the real movement of the contradictions of capitalist society" is communism. The identification suggests they are the same – communism becomes the new avant garde of capitalism just as capitalism is the present avant garde of civilisation. We've been through this before. Capitalism is the movement (a forward as well as tangential extension) of contradictions, but may contain the space from which communism may irrupt.
I'm thinking of bad apples in the barrel, ghosts in the machine, miscalculations in the project, flukes in the digestive tract. I therefore do not discount the idea that communism is immanent, but that is not the same thing as the position of stage theory or correct procedures taken to predictable ends. It exists in the noise with which capitalism has no interpenetration. Because it is noise, most of us as well do not interpenetrate, except in brief or specific situations where or when the telescreen is off. It jumps out at us, and we say, "WTF?" Communism is a local phenomenon, a phenomenon of locality, a general (even if not generalised) social relation in a specific social situation. Locality is not a "merely" and therefore inconsequential thing.
We can give whatever name we want to an interacting spiral of environment and agents but 'real movement' refers to an incremental historical process in which communism develops within the 'womb' of capitalism. The argument is that before capitalism, social relations dictated to capital but when capitalism became established (i.e. production and productive relations developed in pursuit of capital) capital began to dictate to social relations. The argument is that because actual social relations then withered as they became increasingly dominated by productive relations so a new socialisation was taking place 'beneath' or 'within' the economic system and that when capitalist relations reached a crisis point, this historically developed movement of resource rich subjectivity would be able to reexpropriate productive relations and put them in the service of this new higher form of social organisation. Plainly, the failure of this movement to appear marks instead the appearance of an attempt to think an anti-movement communism. – frere dupont
Entropy in systems theory describes the notion of non-extensive and a-temporal interregnal space. Thermodynamics suggests that entropy increases with expansion resulting in implosion or explosion of those expanding or unifying (accumulating) systems. It's common sense: increasing power to a vacuum cleaner will result in a burst bag or loss of vacuum or a burnt up motor. We shall soon see if thermodynamics applies to sociological systems as well. It seems to have had in the past. The a priori logic says that society demonstrates systemic or cybernetic relations so therefore, must abide by general laws of physics, which are only regularities observed generating certain limits to possibility, not inscriptions on stone tablets.
It all depends on how much unification and permanence one wants. Extralocal unification is the beginning of the state and states have historically had little room for diversity. The only creativity allowed is that which is authorised. I do not intend to reify. Communism is a behaviour or sets of behaviour between people, specific people in specific situations. It may or may not spread. If it is attractive, it no doubt will – living things tend to mimic and repeat pleasurable encounters or those which seem to anticipate such ends, even if one's definition of pleasure is the rather pessimistic "avoidance of pain"
Human universals are apparent at the phenomenological level: "You know them when you see them". There is a recognizable gestalt or form. If we look from a behavioural level alone, we see differences: humans do thus and so. Behaviour more than "race" has always fueled ethnocentrism. There are some universals seen from a bio-structural level, such as the perception of the spectral wavelengths into named articulations (colors) which hardly vary from one group to the next. What varies is the name applied. Likewise, there is a phenotype expressing a genotype which comparatively shares more sameness than difference. From the linguistic perspective, there is the pharyngeal/laryngeal modulation of expressed air which almost universally coincides with or appears to facilitate cooperative navigation and territorial assessments, among other things. The assessments and expressions vary from here to there, but the process and effects of articulation are the same.
What is universally shared is communication within communities. This does not, of course, distinguish us as a species from other social beings. That is an unnecessary and often dangerous distinction in the first place. If we cannot get past the moralistic position of "I am not an animal!" and all its implications, we will never fathom disalienation, which to my thinking, as simplistic as it seems, is a goal of "communists" everywhere, even those stuck in economic paradigms. It is the double-negative avoidance of mis-givings (sacrifice) and mis-takings (theft) evident in modern mis-communication. Communisation is a process of sharing expressed noise and impressed movement. If payment is insisted upon, communism can be had for a mere song and dance.
I see communism as a process of communication which no longer thinks of itself as a debate form with winners and losers. Communication is a sharing first and foremost, even from a cellular or molecular level. Sociable behaviour is a no-loss (entails neither theft nor sacrifice) communication system if we can call it an economy at all. Seen as only an exchange system which ought to be balanced (fair distribution of equivalencies) allows no movement out of present social relations. This is no romanticism, utopianism, nor primitivism, and when primitivists and all the other ists, who have asked some very good questions (like concerning division of labour and the neutrality of technology and the alienation inherent to bureaucracy, questions we should not discard just because of "who" said them) begin to be able to periodically adjust their lenses and share the eyepiece, they might begin to formulate some better answers, or better yet, none at all, unless it is "Hey! Check it out!". But this is just a question in disguise. It is an invitation, not a demand.
Bear in mind that communism is just another word with a history. It is a stage of nothing, a space of possibility. It is only useful as a convenience toward mutual explorations and experimentations into unknown regions.
"Decoherence can be viewed as the loss of information from a system into the environment (often modeled as a heat bath). Viewed in isolation, the system's dynamics are non-unitary (although the combined system plus environment evolves in a unitary fashion). Thus the dynamics of the system alone, treated in isolation from the environment, are irreversible. As with any coupling, entanglements are generated between the system and environment". – Quantum_decoherenceBut a loss? Waste? Certainly a hot bath represents progress over the cold, when loss is recuperated as a gift from Lady Luck, when the heat from an incandescent light bulb keeps pipes from freezing but its light is inconsequential to the water flow, where fortunes may be accumulated or passed on, where an incoherent idea in the noise of the unconscious bursts into flame and fuels a new coherency or entanglement, where noise is not a bath but a pool. How one spends a fortune, in other words, it's return into the noise for other entanglements defines the future. Fortune must refer us to the future. Even in the entropy of background noise there are entanglements. The difference between loss and investment is only a matter of aesthetics. Isn't one man's shit another's fortune?
Was George Pontifex one of Fortune’s favoured nurslings or not? On the whole I should say that he was not, for he did not consider himself so; he was too religious to consider Fortune a deity at all; he took whatever she gave and never thanked her, being firmly convinced that whatever he got to his own advantage was of his own getting. And so it was, after Fortune had made him able to get it.
“Nos te, nos facimus, Fortuna, deam,” exclaimed the poet. “It is we who make thee, Fortune, a goddess”; and so it is, after Fortune has made us able to make her. The poet says nothing as to the making of the “nos.” Perhaps some men are independent of antecedents and surroundings and have an initial force within themselves which is in no way due to causation; but this is supposed to be a difficult question and it may be as well to avoid it. Let it suffice that George Pontifex did not consider himself fortunate, and he who does not consider himself fortunate is unfortunate.
True, he was rich, universally respected and of an excellent natural constitution. If he had eaten and drunk less he would never have known a day’s indisposition. Perhaps his main strength lay in the fact that though his capacity was a little above the average, it was not too much so. It is on this rock that so many clever people split. The successful man will see just so much more than his neighbours as they will be able to see too when it is shown them, but not enough to puzzle them. It is far safer to know too little than too much. People will condemn the one, though they will resent being called upon to exert themselves to follow the other." – Samuel Butler, The Ways of all Flesh
In spatial (extensive) as well as durative (invariant) relations, one can always argue the question of chickens and eggs. In intensive and temporal or sequential relations, one must always ask "which chicken and which egg are you specifically implying?" Generic answers will not do. Butler solved the problem by referring to the generic or specific chicken and generic or specific egg as different perspectives of the same living organism, a good blending with Bergson's "duration". A diversifying invariance. Bergson is accused of vitalism, Butler of teleology. For them and an increasing number of "modern" biologists, life itself is a singularity. The noun or nominalised verb, "life", has, of course, a much longer history, going back at least five thousand years as a term of duration, from PIE *lip- "to remain, persevere, continue, live". We tend to associate it with animation, particularly when self directed or reactionary, while the inanimate have no agency whatsoever. We've been told we are the best of the best, but the biggest question of the age is not any longer the meaning of life in a circular argument, but "whatever became of our agency?" Vitality no longer serves as the empirical proof of life, but the urgency in getting it back.
For interpretations and desires to actually conflict means that there is an attempt to simultaneously stand on the same point with great urgency. If they are not extracting different resources from the same mine, in which case, where's the problem, there is no conflict over desired ends, there is an identity between ends, it is only an argumunt between immediate and delayed gratification. Stripped of impatience, a free for all is a wonderful idea. A sort of reverse bucket brigade, sharing with those in the back of the line negates vital urgency. Back in the day, we used to do this with a platter of fish at the dinner table.
Revolution is unanticipated. It is not a teleological process. Intended ends always bring forth enough entropic material from past conditions to sprout disappointment. Synergy is as uncontrollable as sponteneity. Inner urges carry us forth, but not all of them are of our own making, and this discovery, the discovery of exterior forces causes great confusion as to the difference between inside and outside, but only if we demand to make our stand, to take up residence here or there, a pitched contest between creation and constraint. As long as this war is waged, we will never come to understand the notion of mutuality in social relations.
Historical force of strategists and tacticians interrupted originary cycles or conditions, and continues to interfere with enterocentric energy, libinal drive, anarchic desire, communistic tendency. Having been allowed to grow and develop and perfect to the point that most force is tolerated and even encouraged, it is an absurd project to apply counterforce to bring them back in order to take force itself out of the equation and endorse mutual influence. Growing systems will take themselves out of any box or equation, but unfortunately, eventually is never soon enough. If we do not go extinct before this process is complete, we might embrace our dumb state of no communication (alienation, isolation, separation) and concentrate on communicative primes -- body language – which require no dictionary. A smile, nod, wink, grimace. From there, our children will teach us to speak again, when we begin to fumble about with human vocal language as opposed to verbal warfare, the preceding condition for clubs, sticks, swords, guns. But this is not a return to any former state or condition. It probably in no way resembles the evolutionary origins of homo sapiens and their language. You cannot go home, particularly when you never had one to begin with.
The whole discussion of agency is the resultant of our separation. It is a matter of placing bonds on identity. The fact that there are choices to be made always passes over our heads. To paraphrase Vine Deloria, if you live in a place where your identity is not always called into question, you can simply be yourself. Notice he chose the word, "simply". It's just not that complex of a notion!
Post script to Antonin Artaud's Van Gogh: The Man Suicided by Society (see Artaud Anthology edited by Jack Hirschman. City Light Books San Francisco.1965. Page 139.)(translated by Mary Beach and Lawrence Ferlinghetti):
"Van Gogh did not die of a condition of delirium proper but of having bodily become the field of a problem that the iniquitous spirit of mankind has debated since the beginning of time, the predominance of flesh over spirit, or body over flesh or the mind over one or the other.
And where in this delirious thinking is there room for the human ego?
Van Gogh searched for his during his entire lifetime, and with a strange energy and determination.
And he did not commit suicide in a fit of insanity, in terror of not succeeding; on the contrary, he had just succeeded and had just discovered what he was and who he was, when the collective consciousness of society punished him for tearing himself away from it, and suicided him.
And it happened to Van Gogh as it usually happens, during an orgy, a mass, an absolution or any other rite of consecration, possession, succubation or incubation.
and possessed of the devil,
effaced the supernatural consciousness he had just acquired,
and like a flood of black crows in the fibers of his internal tree,
submerged him in a last swell
and, taking his place,
For it is the anatomical logic of modern man to never have been able to live nor think of living except as one possessed."
An abundance of food relieves the urgency about eating. It does not cause one to lose interest in food, we can become selective rather than desperate. Perhaps mutually engaged polyamory would result in fewer divorces than the monogamous property relations we engage in today. We can exercise aesthetic abilities, make choices, create situations, move and even return. I do not desire urgency or hunger nor equate contentment with boredom – maybe it's my age. I once had an idea that the most oppressive societies produce the most bland (monotonous) diets, but I think it is as much the outgrowth of religious asceticism, where a little spice is considered sinful. Then there is the matter of stimulus deprivation, a form of torture which does wonders on the imagination equivalent to oversaturation (shock).
Habituation allows us to let go, but also to come back. Property is a binding which ties us to banality and produces the suppressed urge for conquest and ruptures. When we proceed in this direction, all we get are ruptured spleens.
But we are to liberate desire, to become desiring machines, factories where desire is shat out from the assembly line and soldiers are ever waiting in line for the next battle. This describes our present circumstance pretty well. We are not in a state of war but of want.
The authentic (I use this term lightly, or perhaps only to piss folks off) social revolution would obliterate, not liberate desire. We will wont for nothing concerning our well-being. Free movement, "our one aim to move" as Kerouac put it, peaks interest. When "goods" circulate as well, they can become novel intrusions or the return of an old friend, which is to say, they again draw our interest. I do not desire desire, except to put an end to it. It is not something to hold on to like a security blanket and a wet thumb. Gary Snyder suggested embracing the ordinary, like a fuzzy teddy bear. My conclusion from a study of pataphysics and evolution is that natural selection favours a state of exceptional mediocrity where the new and different brings us to consciousness.
Isn't the obliteration of desire the conquest of nothing? Health and well-being is a matter of nurturance. Notions like "armed joy" and "desire armed" bring to mind the clown soldier, militant nurse and tough love at the boot camp. Not a far cry from the revolutionary theme song, "Onward christian soldiers" marching into Jerusalem to take back baby jesus' manger from the heathens.
To lack what is needed produces ill-health, a lack of well-being. If one requires a specialist to inform dietary consent, probably a biologist or nutritionist is a better reference than a political revolutionary or social philosopher. Why should we want to become bodies without organs except as it suggests a more holistic approach? Our organs inform us as to their needs. They give us tastes. They should be our friends. We are perfectly capable of recognising a healthy diet when we listen to them.
Medical science specializes in organ removal. It is the arm of a cultural system producing battles and dependencies. Can modern medicine be any less neutral than a cotton gin or tank? Prociv deliberators demand this to be so. Think of all the folks in iron lungs and dialysis machines who would die without it! Sorry, everybody at some point dies. Besides, how many of these patients would have to endure this situation had they not spent a lifetime breathing smog and imbibing biotoxins we call processed food and medicine? The argument will stand only when they can achieve immortality. So far, all they've achieved is the well-being produced in a state of cryogenic stasis.
I often talk about other people and other lenses and conditions of abundance. The appropriate response is: "What good is that? Those are not the conditions we experience and we have only our own logic to work from." I insist that I only offer a perspective from which the inevitability of present conditions might be questioned. Two other (largely flippant) remarks come to mind: "Oh, so you want us to go back to the harsh existence of the cave?" and "We can keep the good progressive shit like penicilin and high speed trains and higher education and factory production and digitial watches and treatment centers for the mentally disturbed and jails for pederasts and prosthetic testicals &c., and just eliminate the bad shit". What these sorts of response indicate is that no change is desired after all but the maintenance of desire itself. It's not only too absurd to think outside the box, but as well to explore its edges and corners from the inside.
We have rehearsed here (and elsewhere?) objections to ‘the forces of production’ argument, and these mostly focus on the continued domination of lived activities by accumulated capacities within revolutionary situations, and on the manner in which any ‘revolutionary’ lived element is reduced to that of administrative procedures – historical/objective production of needs and activities related to needs will settle the character of any possible process of communisation at the level of technology. We settle with the question of, 'how much of production may we really seize hold of?'
If the determinism of the forces of production position is problematic to our conception of communism then what about a ‘forces of consumption’ argument...?
Is it the case that the mass sensitisations which are generated within consumerism (‘I like the shape but it is not my colour, I like the taste but it is a little dry, I wanted the Mark 2.1 model but they only have the Mark 1.9, I liked his 2nd lp but not the 3rd, shall we attend the Picasso show or the Ernst, shall we watch the football or Pop Idol’ etc etc), where the mechanism of conscious choice based on personal preference (accepting that this prevarication, this investment in decisionmaking, is directed entirely towards an order of objects which make no real difference to life) is historically being developed to a fine point where it may be transferred (i.e. socialised) to more significant questions? Certainly, already we can see preferences being deployed within interpersonal relations which now follow a consumerist model, in which certain life decisions are selected as if from a shelf. A speculative example:
The latest technological developments would make possible the individual’s unbroken contact with cosmic reality while eliminating its disagreeable aspects. Stars and rain can be seen through glass ceilings. The mobile house turns with the sun. Its sliding walls enable vegetation to invade life. Mounted on tracks, it can go down to the sea in the morning and return to the forest in the evening.
Architecture is the simplest means of articulating time and space, of modulating reality and engendering dreams. It is a matter not only of plastic articulation and modulation expressing an ephemeral beauty, but of a modulation producing influences in accordance with the eternal spectrum of human desires and the progress in fulfilling them.
Is it possible then, that through the pin-hole appeture of severely constricted behaviours that the historically accumulated forces of narrowly defined consumerist choice are flooding in full colour the white wall of the social relation with an inverted image of potential, communist, decisionmaking behaviours; are we being trained to decide the content of human relations?
The arguments against relate to both the role ‘choice’ should take in human relations (that is the extent to which it adequately expresses the full range of consciousness – you are old and smelly, I choose not to care for you), and to the rather limited spectrum of interactions/participations that the mechanism of choice produces. Certainly, with regard to the latter, we can say that although there are many choices to be made between options, the options themselves (because of the manner of their appearance in relation to choice) become flattened into the status of objects of choice – I cringe at the idea of Western Buddhists, i.e. at the idea of a consciously chosen spiritual path.
There other aspects of consumption (deriving energy from activities for activities) which I have not dwelt on, probably because these other aspects cannot be considered separately from aspects of production.
Our perspective as consumers is always drawn toward delivery.
Until the discovery of Oldowan tools associated with australopithecus (Southern ape) did we invite the species into humanity. Not only did this animal walk erect, display human-like teeth, but it made and used tools. Evolutionists always considered our genus appeared with bipedalism. Even the ancients referred to us as two-legged beasts. They argued with with the lutherans and Marxists, who thought the distinctive feature was an opposable thumb capable of making and holding a hammer or sickle. All agreed fire made us "truly" human, agriculture made us civilised and industrialisation & specifically motorization made us modern.
For a postmodern solution, I would suggest double leg amputation, which would reduce the human biomass on the planet by a third, and provide important nutritional supplements, if only as fertilizer in green-houses or fish-food for home aquariums. Automated mass rail transit would bring all needs directly to our homes and any movement still required could be accommodated by electric wheel chair. Who could complain?
Periodic technological crises would ensure populations would not spread beyond the city gates. Outside, nature would be given a chance to reclaim the former suburbs.
So laugh, but this sort of interference with bipedalism instituted with the first cities on the banks of whichever historic river is currently in vogue with historians is no joke. For the first time in human history, the words "Feed me!" came popping right out of our collective mouth. Camps are portable. Villages are seasonally occupied. Only cities provide year round comfort, but they demand a delivery system and a class of folks to push it.
On the other hand, in settled life there is a list of workers which might fit the bill of essentiality. The list has never been compiled to my knowledge. The job titles are often absent, or euphamised. The job descriptions are not descriptive of the actual performances. When we are familiar, these positions exist over seas or in distant lands. With this class of employment at home, citizens by and large do not engage. It is work performed often by immigrants, and ironically, not only out-of-work citizens accuse them of "stealing our jobs", jobs few locals are desparate enough to perform. Most do not create any product. They are made invisible when lumped into the category "service industry". The industrial product is servitude.
At home or abroad, these people work in the most despicable of conditions. Americans know of coal miners in china, but that is so far away and besides, it is always a tyranical government or lack of technology which is at fault, never the job itself. Most of the tasks cannot be mechanised, and mechanisation itself only creates more shit jobs, usually performed somewhere else, out of sight. What is not considered is that without desparate conditions, no one would consend to do the work. Pay scale is not a consideration. If there was a choice in the matter, workers would gladly take a reduction and seek other employment. Higher pay only results in higher turnover, folks can now afford to leave in search of better conditions.
The fact is, there appears no choice or these jobs could not be filled. If there is hope, it is the hope of rising through the ranks. It is the same rational, with about the same pay-off potential as spending rent or food money on a lottery ticket. It only takes one win out of four billion tries to provide the justification for continued risk. What we are talking about are the most dangerous, most toilsome, most despicable tasks which all of civilisation depends upon. It is the work of prisoners or slaves given a token wage. Seek out the lowest of low-level position in any enterprise, remove it and everything else crumbles. We are talking of janitors, shit sweepers, dishwashers, sewage handlers, miners of toxic resources, farm workers, cna's and even less well trained personell wiping asses and changing bed pans (you didn't actually think nurses did this, did you?). We speak of sweat shops, as if sweat is the problem. Even the sweatshop relies on support at lower levels. The lowest level in this hierarchy is death – death by starvation, illness, suicide.
Revolutionary or technological utopianists, workers who aspire to self management rarely discuss this group. Every radical who desires self management at the work place considers her or himself the essential proletariat. If those who support them with raw materials, feed them, clothe them, unplug their toilets or clean the shit off their ass when infirmed, the drug dealers and methlab workers who supply their goodies are even considered within the framework of future utopian social engineering, it is considered these are all no-skill tasks everyone will have to volunteer to perform for short periods.
We will exploit ourselves over the short haul in order to live the good life in the interim, a cycle repeated indefinately. Every party will end on the note of death, toil, physically and emotionally demanding work tomorrow, if only for a while. Stalin discovered quite early how well this sort of voluntary system works – it only works for enemies of the state. It is forgotten that these are tasks no one would volunteer for without force or desparation, one cannot be fooled into making a carreer of them. That is how bad they are. The altruistic ideology defining itself as sacrifice for the greater good only goes so far. Particularly, most are not even essential for living. They are only essential to support a certain lifestyle for others, and as long as they remain in the loop, this lifestyle is exploitative. Revolutionary and insurrectionary theorists who do not consider this essential proletariat expose themselves as bourgeois frauds.
But there is an objection! Civilisation is man's invention which allows him to transcend nature. Initially, there was the mystical sense of transcendence, but after many years of theological discourse and rational enlightenment, it was deduced that this sort of transcendence can only be acheived in death and immolation. This was no help at all for the toiling living. Technological progress was accelerated to increase immunity from the contingencies of nature. We could live outside of nature in culture, that is, if properly managed.
After milennia of civilised progress and its historical documentation, it was noted that struggle had in fact increased, and not from nature so much as from culture itself. Marx had deduced that civilisation had merely taken a wrong turn with the invention of capitalism. Today, the anticapitalist movement is more pervasive than ever, after nearly two centuries of workers trying to take over their workplace. The shift in emphasis has completely turned to economics. What is needed is a more just distribution of needed goods. Happier workers will be more productive in the project to immunise humanity against the exigencies and contingencies of nature. Community property as opposed to private property should remove the necesity of a ruling body or single tyrrant and provide the supersession of struggle.
Anarchists and libertarians correctly showed that the state itself is maintained if hierarchy is not as well removed from consideration. There is a problem, since civilisation itself is not put to question. There is still a fear of nature. It is not considered that the very definition of civilisation includes a mass or concentrated state. Without the state, lives savage struggle. Wildness. Wilderness. Wildestness. That is the animal, and not therefore human. It is suggested if we take hierarchy out of the state, there will be no state. This is logical and semantically correct, but no attempt at this has ever negated hierarchy. Our entire taxonomic and dialectic view of the world is hierarchic. Progress itself is hierarchic movement from bad to better to best. We are saturated with it. It is not considered by anti-capitalists that it is not capital alone which embodies a state of contradiction, but the state itself. It far precedes capitalist economies. But to question the state is to question civilisation and its progress, and that is forbidden territory. Best not to think about it.
How soon we forget that every evidence for progress is only a reconstruction in response to a self-imposed crisis. We still think the sanitation industry and it's offspring, modern medicine gave us longevity, but this is only by comparison to life in plague-ridden medieval cities. Interestingly, state of the art military technology as well as food-processing reintroduce plagues of bio-toxins in response to progress in the sanitation industry. The H-bomb is always in the medic's bag in case we need a final solution.
Every progressive leap is accompanied by a degree of amnesia. How soon we forget that Marx himself put to question the nature/culture dialectic. Culture is natural. More and more we are seeing that some animals posess degrees of it. Many of us have said it is, in fact, culture which we have lost to civilisation! Not ironically, it is the "savage" who we think of when we are referred to the culture studies undertaken by anthropologists. We are starting to come to understand that our self-alienation from nature, a seperation born of the original linguistic opposition with culture, is destroying the natural environment we depend upon to feed and fuel the political economy by progressive technology itself. Yet we, even anti-statist we's, still look to technology, politics and economics to resolve the contradiction that civilisation is progressively killing us. Freud saw it and proclaimed the natural urge for immolation, the death drive. Bataille, convinced of this, saw it in the nature of sunlight itself. We are back to the starting point: Struggle is the nature of all things. Resistence to struggle is unnatural. The proper attitude is stoicism, the gesture is sacrifice and the position is one of aceticism.
We still yearn for egalitarian social relations unmediated by commodity production, and the negation of struggle hierarchy imposes, but for heaven's sake, don't cage us and call us primitivists! Nature is what occurs outside of cages. If you must call, call us naturalists, or better yet, magicians.
The world that we have made as a result of the level of thinking that we have done so far, has created problems we cannot solve at the level of thinking at which we created them – Albert Einstein.
The transgression of, rather than the strict compliance with category boundaries are inherent in any critical/analytic undertaking but the truthful framing of these incursions is essential if they are not to be misinterpreted as projections on the part of the text's author. Necessarily, such transgressions take the form of magical thinking (meaning the transport of defined sets of discursive/interpretive tools from one category or frame to another). However, a conscious acknowledgement of the magical thinking element within the text produces subtle but significant transformations within the relation of the transmitter and receiver positions – where magical thinking goes unacknowledged (as it does in most pro-revolutionary texts) there is produced a chaotic and partial propagandistic relation in which the transmitter simply projects redundancy onto the receiver.We scoff at the notion of a "power of magical incantation"! We give authenticity to "sacred influences" only if we preface the phrase with "Batesonesque" or suffix it with "a quantum effect". It is only a diversion. We forget that the black-fanged cannibal of the nothingness, of the pure negation, of total consumption living at the center of our cosmos, who must eventually consume his own offal before sucking up himself into his dungeon of pure void, is just another archaic god who has outlived its usefulness. That is, until our scientists, high priests that they are, resurrect him and give upon him the name, "black hole", only begotten son of the "god particle" formerly known as "Original Substance".
Where magical thinking is acknowledged as the rules of a particular experimental endeavour, its message is reframed into a narrative or even fictional format, the transmitter no longer prescribes but gives an account of... we can imagine how the Call's text would read if it were reframed in these terms: the communising party, the supposed direct contestation with capital, the practice of new relations all become narrativised, we now see them as belonging to a small group of people who are conducting their own experiments.
Adopting such self-limiting devices within the text undoes the lie of its prescriptive politics and the false representation of the totality of human relations, whilst it reconnects to the truths that belong to storytelling, or the real universality that is found in the particular's true account of itself in relation to the world – frere dupont.
There was a misapplied quotation mark in the operating manual and the text was rejected at the publishing house. The machines malfunctioned. Their technicians failed to perform the appropriate rituals at the super-colider. God did not make an appearance. Neither did the void, which all the nay-sayers had predicted.
But such is how patterns are reproduced and also transgressed. Magical thinking comes closest to poetic thinking when it is admitted "sometimes the magic doesn't work". However, the poet does not care about, or at least does not necessarily transmit belief or endorsement of the metaphoric patterns portrayed. The modern magician, like the literary or social critic, is an illusionist. Determinism is the project of his/her discourse: "This is that!". The actual deception lies in the stance of authenticity of categorizations. The intermittent reinforcement in an older sort of magic makes it only suggestive. It portrays possibilities more than answers, making it experimental. It says, "Let's try this!" Supernatural forces are only called upon (fates, will of god, etc.) to explain why it doesn't work. It is self-explanatory when it does. For the illusionist (even as a true believer) to fail always brings cat calls from the audience. For the magician, we are entertained, even if not impressed. We can say "good try".
"Bateson talks about the system of teethbaring in animals, how it is transmitted as 'for real' and yet it is somehow also communicated that it is not for real but a part of play – perhaps it is the refusal to receive it as a real threat that persuades the transmitter that actually s/he is not for real.
The weakness of magical thinking is its sense of causation (because we did not follow the ritual, the volcano has erupted etc) but its strength is its capacity to include and describe within a net of subtle, associative relations an entire system (which may be called 'holistic'), this complete system collapses within scientific aetiological approaches which tend ever more towards explanation by separation. The holistic 'magical' descriptions of humanity are often more true/practical/profound/useful than scientific explanations. Furthermore, the reductionism of the scientific approach tends to then produce its own 'magical thinking', wild extrapolations which are either brutal or flaccid" – frere dupont.
Sophistry is a special case of magical thinking. Most discourse and all legal argument lives here. It begins with a belief, tendency, behavior and goes on to justify, rationalise, excuse it. For example, I will say the colloquial notions of chicken behaviour which portray rigid hierarchy (the "pecking order") stemming from competitive beaking in the free for all toward the food-tray is a view from a limited data set. It is natural only in the sense of the nature of caged birds. Might it be that outside the cage, among free-ranging chickens, we will observe different behaviours? My stand is to question the inevitibility of competition and hierarchy. For every "rule" you come up with, I will illustrate an exception and further, tell you it is the pervasive existence of exceptions which define rules in the first place. There is a circularity here which is unavoidable in western (modern) thinking.
There is a counterpoint, which is to say, retaliation which shuts me down, but not up. "What about fish?" The fish is constrained to a body of water. To extract the fish is to kill it! An ecological niche, by any other name, is still a cage. Freedom is an absurditity. Zoos bring out the best in beasts. They are free to enjoy the life of Riley, peace and liesure. Beyond the cage there lies madness.
We go on all day long and well into tomorrow. I am tempted to hit one of us in the head with a brick!
I change the subject. It may be that our upright posture leads us to think in terms of hierarchies and vertical arrangements. Most four-legged creatures display horizontal relationships. I am trapped in my own logic with generalization based on a limited perspective. What about the baboon who sits erect when pondering life? The bird on a wire? The gibbon hanging from a limb?
We find we have completely reversed perspective and use each other's arguments to prove our respective points. I posit generalizations to his specifics. Yet the basic premises remain unchanged. In fact, in many cases they do not even come to light. I cling to horizontal social relationships. My interlocutor still insists on struggle necessary to establish dominance hierarchies. If, in my frustration over a lack of persuasive agency, I bonk him on the head, I've only proven his point. We are engaged in politics. It is a magic which causes blood to boil. We retreat to find authority. To improve our argument with further research. To accumulate audiences who, by their superior numbers, give the credence of consensus. To find an impartial judge or mathematician to evaluate our logic.
On the other hand, we may go off to hide out. We embrace immolation and ostracism and the negation of social relations altogether. In the refusal of buying in, we may even sell out. This cannot be, so we try again. Transgression is, after all, the better part of valor.
"If ideas only have an impact when caught up in circuits of capital or power, then, in themselves, regardless of their content, ideas have nothing and mean nothing, and are only units of undifferentiated labor power.Good idea!
...An idea, in itself, has little force beyond a gesture in a moment. But, a little gesture can mean something, and though gestures do not add up in a whirlwind to social revolt, they do mean something on an intimate level, which is all that counts, if communism is human community". – Lopez
I think these are key points. Ideas live in an aesthetic or behavioural context: gestures. One cannot extract ideas, only repress them (for example, through the association of seizure-producing electric shock when the context is revealed), or share them, which is a matter of mutual recognition of the field or context and mimicry or reproduction of its gestures. One cannot extract the idea of running from a runner, even by double amputation. If the field is semantics, the idea exhibits a syntax. Changing syntactic arrangements in the reproduction is a kind of détournement, as is placing them in a different context (eg., producing a new idea of "guilt by association"). The new context may thereafter change, or merely provoke an emotional reaction such as is expressed by laughter or a grimace. If the reaction is favourable, there is still the matter of mimicry and repetition to encounter before it can be said to stick. There is no such thing (in my context) as an autonomous meme, like an ideomeme – the idea in and of itself. "An idea" is just a way of speaking. To develop an idea is to establish a syntax, make connections, formulate a sentence. When writing, the connections within define the parameters or boundaries of the paragraph. I should say these are not so much connections as portrayals of continuities.
Sharing sentences modulates ideas. For example, a phoneme has no sound, an isolated morpheme is never meaningful, a human gene is just one of four classes of protein molecule, one of whose constituent atoms is carbon, which steel also contains. In other words, ideas are not flying objects like steel-tipped arrows, but they may exhibit similar (metaphoric) functions. Without field or context, they are only an empty form which can be placed in any new field. Because there is a history (memory of former contexts), it does contain tracings, but they are only revealed in the new context. Contexts and ideas change together. Capitalism is both behavioural and ideological context. Not unlike any other context, everything placed within it conforms to it. The less ubiquitous the pattern, the more the pattern itself changes in a process of mutual conformation. We call this co-optation or détournement, depending on our position and the pervasiveness of the context.
But of course, there is more. Simply put, co-optation is always a matter of appropriation. The state creates nothing, it appropriates and then, if there is any resistance, force-fits everything to its own appearance. Hence, "the spectacle is the monopoly of appearances". Détournement is not necessarily expropriation (taking it back) but disrupting the "target's" relationship in its "new-found" context. Very often, the context itself is détourned. It is considered an "impropriety" against property. Objectivists must always deny that their context can change. Imagination must be strictly regulated.
Liberation is never theft. What is expropriated is possibility and potential. It creates the question mark, superseding the prematurely ejaculated period at the end of the fixed idea, the end of the answer. Détournement is not necessarily an insemination, it points to polysemination. Laugh if you like, the etymology is sound between property, the state and filial responsibility. Polysemy indicates a provisional nature – implying both non-permanence and gifting – of semantics, the supersession of tit-for-tat thinking with the situationally poetic.
Without questions, the answer to the problem of culture change comes back to unifying and diversifying forces. All social planning (the design & construction of utopias) attempts to impose topical unity. The smile is no longer spontaneous and therefore genuine or authentic. Ideas transform to secrecy or disappear altogether. Gestures are automated, mimicked, exchanged, repeated. Quotes of others are cut and pasted for the purpose of masquarade, and true to Baudrillard, there may be nothing behind the mask. We think we have discovered a new idea.
New ideas fly over our heads until we have made a place for them, in which case, their novelity must be put to question. Questions are not ideas, they represent the process of diversifying forces, of possibility. Gesturing in the direction of possibility, undertaking an adventure, gives rise to ideas which justify our gesture. We've created a provisional answer. I'm not sure if this is all a question or an answer. There is possibly a kernel of both because the context is to me confusing. But your kernel may fit my sensible pattern, my pattern may be a kernel to you, it may be nothing to both of us. And vice versa. I cannot reduce the world to questions and answers, ideas and gestures, theory and praxis. Ideology is a "process", not a product of ontogenesis, growth. Religion announces a project with a finished product – dogma – ending growth altogether. Ideologies which represent systems of answers, absolutes, become religion. But everything can be questioned even if all questions may not be available. Civilisation may be itself just another state ideological aparatus.
There is history and theory to be found in colloquialisms and "old wives tales". A big one for me is "stream of thought". From this, I've tendered the fish theory of cognition. Fish is the best fertilizer for gardening in deserts. The subtitle is therefore fish-farming in desert streams.
A well formed idea places articulations, boundaries, submerged nets within the stream in order to catch fish, food for thought, which we go on to gesticulate, even ruminate if we are familiar with cows and goats. We kick them around to see if they're dead or alive, a matter of "fitness". We are never sure whether we caught them with our net (or hooked onto them) or created them from our net. Sometimes we remove the "trappings" (net) and find nothing there. We throw it back into the water for "fresh" ideas. In this sense, communication is a boat for two which not only contains fishers, but doubles the size of the river. Bigger rivers support more fish. We compare our nets and find they were patterned (mimicked) after the same model. We do the same with our lines and hooks. But a river is like a box of chocolate for Forest Gump, and every hook, line and sinker is adorned with its makers signature.
Before the urge toward democratic institutions, "common sense" implied the integration of sense data. This is what was called "the sixth sense". It just happens that when ideas are communicated, they become shared. It never referred to extra-sensory perception or any other metaphysical process we give it today, although it may have been lyrically or absolutely linked with an incubus or ghost in the machine at one time.
The problem of uncertainty is the problem of epistemology. We know there are "real" articulations in the world. We, our individual selves as well as the fish we eat are proof of this. Bishop Berkeley got it backwards when he heard Descartes was to be the only natural articulation (known being) in the universe. Recanting, he took the hindu stance and proclaimed himself just another idea, thus proving the existence of god.
I've always been attracted to signs and symbols, made a study of them, but am still uncomfortable when I turn to the experts. Jung goes right over my head and Saussere is an amateur. Perhaps I'll never get it. There are attempts at representation of natural (external) articulations for sure. My word "fish" is a sign. Its juxtaposition with idea is a symbol. Further investigation into the fish realm indicates my fish is only a net holding diverse "forms". There are long dead and yet unborn fish here. I am told the whale and dolphin is no fish at all. I perform extractions and reductions. Is a dead or future fish more "real" than my category? What Descartes didn't understand is that real fish are unconcerned with our labels or even our existence, except that their swimming is much more free-form when we are not there muddying the stream. We just can't leave well enough alone.
The prevalence of dysphasia should be a big clue that neither is the word the thing, it is not the idea. The idea is only a local fishing hole. The word is only an index to it. It is a map, not a territory. If we are already there, why should it be considered a great loss to lose the map? When we think in words, we are only rehearsing a potential communication to an other. We are constructing a map and an invitation to others to share our secret spot. But no, finding ourselves at a loss for words, we think we are having an out of body experience, a mystic, transcendental moment, a private enlightenment. Others call for the men in white coats, a doctor prescribes the latest pharmacological intervention. The social worker ponders whether there has already been an unauthorised pharmaceutical ingestion. It is important to know whether to charge the insurance or call in a police for charges to be brought up.
Whether a noun or verb, the word is only an index if it is to "have" meaning at all. Whether sign or symbol is a matter of its reception and not always predictable. Intensions are not even clear: were we being figurative, literal or deceptive?
Otherwise it is merely a connecting or syntactic device – is, of, or, with, under, demonstrative, tense, number. Unwitting that these are themselves theoretical articulations to what is (to a stranger) a fluid or melodic intertwining of vibrating tissues, philosophers search deep for meaning in "connective devices" leading to such absurdities as the essence of "toward" and other extensivities, the meaning of "negation", what it is to "be", the priority in sequencing essence and existence, the absolute nature of junctures and other turning points: conjunctivity, disjunction, adjunction. They wonder if gender is a position in the kama sutra rather than merely a more direct "this" or more specific "that", or a meaningless artifact from ancient times held over purely for the sake of conventional form. Syntax itself is endlessly pondered with concerns on the quantities and qualities of identity and equivalence, sequences and terminations. Then they mistake these for adjectives and think they have written poetry. The big surprise comes when we realise they have.
There is another problem I have with the idea of ideomeme. Words are learned well before their semantic component arrives. I'm not too old to remember that children are into tactile vibrations. Vocalisation is a self reinforcing activity. Music is just the interpolation of at least two articulating or modulating vibrations. It's fm (frequency modulation). Speech may be more articulated but not more modulated. Children create their own sounds and then match them to the sounds which surround them (mom's voice). The words are therefore arbitrary until later when "meaningful connections" are not only mimicked but sufficiently repeated. We see (if we care to look) enormous divergences between cultures and languages. Semantic systems diverge with time and distance.
As I said, I still don't understand, so I must come across as if ravings of a madman in order to simplify it. A true madness takes the symbols and metaphors (pattern-matching), their hooks, lines and nets, as more important than the fish – magical thinking. So many forget the fish altogether. I would say they come up with fishy ideas. Like imposing relatives, dead fish stink after three days. There are rotten fish in Denmark. There are corpses in many mouths. We say "That's a line of shit" or "you stink". I'm attracted to semiotics, but I always come away thinking "those poor people". I stay away for a while, but keep coming back. Sometimes there are interesting lines into deeper waters and foreign shores, but one must leave the cacaphony for a good catch.
But so often, instead of fisherfolk, we become taxidermists, comparing and judging all being with the dead forms we mount on the wall. How they become us. No wonder we can't let go, we cannot stray far from our collection. If we are hungry, the fish must come to us. We send out proxies and representitives, but all they return with are stale bits of bread. Fishing, afterall, is a commercial enterprise. They tell us there are no more fish, and sometimes I think they're right. A little garnishing with food additives, pesticides and red dye number seven and the commodified fish-substitute is born. Progress! In this day and age, a really good idea is edible plastic.
I think there is too much emphasis on cause-effect chains and too much demand for rigid coherence – tighter nets and stronger boxes. Pygmalion learned from the succubus (and only he might get the inference, as this is a private joke, a code within codes for secret transmissions, non-pervasive meaning existing within everyone else's noise, even though it is proper grammatical form) the term, "Interregnum". This gives me a certain authenticity to the waters I'm trying to describe. It is only from this stream that novelty jumps like a fish for a flying bug. It is also the source of critique. In a democratic utopia, it is the source of madness. But it is the madness of a child, not of a king.
Interregnum is a time between regimes. Before the bourgeois revolution, it was a time between kings. Tracing the etymology even further, it was the space between paths. It is the space outside the box, the transcendence from believed categorisations which existed prior to the category. Only magic rituals keep us from drowning in the interregnal river. We perform our magic and think rather arrogantly that magic is dead. We think because we are in the same box (species being) all the contents represent an identity. It may be that those whose rituals correlate with dead volcanoes do not posit a cause-effect relationship between the gesture and the eruption, but merely use the volcano as a reminder to children of the importance of maintaining traditions. I always wondered why we call magic a "practice".
The long search for human universals has only found diversity or mundane banality. Hardly anyone but mathematicians can make sense of the deep structure of generative transformational grammar. It is a snipe hunt for the anal-retentive. But even here, there are some interesting fishes, and sometimes the expedition itself is a source of pleasure, whether or not our net comes up empty.
Of course, I don't believe in a dialectic between life and existence nor ontological ultimatums. When I say everything's alive, it is not an ideological sentiment or claim for the supernatural. I would not wish to be placed in the box of theology I had no part in constructing. If I cannot make a distinction, it is not necessarily a positive afirmation. It is nothing and that is not subject to proofs or demonstrations. The burden of proof is always on the accuser and denier.
On the other hand, I would afirm the world itself is not shit, but there is much shit in it, much more so than is tolerable for any good outing. The good shit transcends the cacaphony of phony shit. This current onset of madness may not be a permanent condition.
Explain yourself! Am I not a poem because my form does not rhyme with yours?
The interchangeability of toilet paper, pickles and slabs of meat between two slices of bun generates the poetic of babble because of an inverse relation between food and thinness, in which case, babble is no babble at all, and all vices verse. The universe is just a cover-up, just like any other uniform. Whether extruded or intruded between the buns, is it still shit in between?
The metaphoric euphamism of toilet paper pickles demonstrates the illusive nature of spectacular progress in the latter half of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty first, where we witness a progressive thinning of toilette paper along the same perforated lines of a sheet of pickle on a nineteen cent Arctic Circle hamburger in Seattle in 1971. Both have been reduced to transparency, inviting a provocative increase in consumptive attacks which even Arizona will not relieve. There are 24 burgers in my bag cause that's what it takes to feel fed.
Since a noun-like "rainforest" is only an abstract theory of behaviour in a theoretically articulated universe of association by way of originary identities diversifying, every name is interchangeable in its adjectival state. There has never been a unity of original substance. But-symetry is not a dialectc face-off. Thus, "I survived in a flush, wiping my thinning pickle with the burgermeister of Brittany, opus number 2" makes perfect sense, if only as a blurred image with a bad smell to which everything is commensurate.
Since we are all inhabitants of the same universe (or so we think), that we share a context is assumed and need not be communicated (the redundant noise in the background), assumes as well generalised gnosis. It may not be considered that sharing secrets may be impossible in the same room. We only wish it were so. The mad do not care. There is no catcher behind the plate. The outfield is empty. It is not mad to anticipate an amazing catch by an intruding phantom or a pitch from an internal voice.
Poetry admits the difference of perspective is the difference which makes a difference so is inclusive of all interpretations. Only Jesus' pa would kill all their wives and cattle, selling virgin children into slavery. We must pour blood on our roof tops to keep safe from the author of goodness passing over on his way to exteriminate another poor bastard who pissed on a wall. How crazy is that?
Bad poetry pays no mind to externalised environments. It is not mad, even though internalisation feels good ("feel-good poetry"), it shares to no one else but where am I in that picture? The more authentic its exteriorised altruism, the more the intended pattern emerges, because every pattern points to it, it points to every pattern. All interpretations are acceptable in inclusive toleration, else we must kill them. We are also god's children, so why not?
Reader/observer and writer/performer engage on a joint exploration, either and both performing an observance, observing a performance. This is not possible with the King James version, making all literature, as offal litterarium officialis, absurd or war-like. This is how we created the word world void of exploration: all voiding needs wiped with a map or on it. Is there anyhing left to say but "garnish" in a pinch of recongnition?