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on transcendental experience … after Mario Levrero

Mario Levrero begins The Luminous Novel… he is a writer from Uruguay, was. An unnecessary detail, perhaps. Alejandro Zambra, a writer I admire, Chilean, as it happens, or happened, like Bolaño, yet very unlike him, writes about Levrero that we cannot, we readers, we cannot hope to understand that mythical beast, that chimaera, that the literature of Latin America is, without taking in the part Levrero has in it. He says something like that.

And we might for a moment consider the chimaera. Mythical, yes, but also a fish…

…although to call it a fish is to dismiss the inventiveness that’s gone into it. …but also man-made, the chimaera:

…here pictured as a kind of babble of bodies.

Chimaera is mythical, fish and … here made by Kate Clark:

Or, consider the following, in view of literature, from E.V. Day:

The chimaera is also a work of conscious and deliberate construction. Matching chicken and lion, bird and reptilian parts. To put on display, and this is the key word, don’t you think? display.

4222 years ago, the Egyptians weren’t engaging in the earliest known taxidermy for the sake of producing chimaera to display. Embalming and processes of corporeal preservation, of animals, including humans, was conducted not for the living but for the dead on whom these practices were being used. Unless we consider that the exhibition of the dead was not as we understand it but for religious purposes.

Was the intended spectatorship some kind of cosmic audience?

Probably not, because the way out into the cosmos was back in through the world, a world of living deities and cosmic entities present rather than having to be presented, not requiring elaborate rituals, for example, in order to be presented, but already there, in attendance. And these were waiting to see themselves join the throng of the dead.

Their embalming and preservation must have seemed like having to join the queue, for the afterlife. Death.

And now they see themselves sail the stygian waters of the Nile into the omphalos of night. They don’t leave their bodies… no Judgement will have to restore the lucky ones who got the winning ticket to their discarded corpses.

Embalmed, taxidermied, they wait in line, the living gods, and travel over into death beside themselves, beside themselves, if everything has gone well with their preservation, beside themselves in the same way as we might think of an other world being beside this one. An early multiverse.

It is also the Egyptians we tend to thank for our first glimpses of chimaerae. (The word itself is something like a chimaera.) The Sphinx, whose riddle is herself. The bird-headed people, the dog-headed, and the alligator-headed dog.

When does this all change?

Is it at the birthplace of the human individual that Siedentop announces with the advent of early christianity? When, he maintains, before a subsequent crackdown by the institutions of a priestly caste, there were just as easily female communities and communities in which women were considered individuals as they were male… children, individually, born with a relation, a corporeal relation, to the living body of Christ, and, to life everlasting?

So Larry Siedentop maintains in Inventing the Individual: the Origins of Western Liberalism, 2015.

If you bear in you this inner connection, in your living body, this special relation that is special to you, would not the display of the dead pass to individuals to behold? Would you not already have in hand your ticket, to join the queue…?

General exhibition would be a thing institutions might want to have some say over, so restricting entry to an other world, and cutting out the ones not worthy for being somewhat… chimaerical. Raising ticket prices, and so on.

Cutting out animals entirely. Women. Naughty children. Saving them who’ve not had time to sin. Little angels. But all would press against the gates, to see… the exhibition.

Instruction enters. Education, and edification. Now it is on how to live beside yourself, next to your immortal part: the real you. It is no longer the practice of separating to be rejoined in the afterlife.

Until we consider resurrection in the body. Then we have to consider which one the dead part is: and it is clear. It is the body of the animal to which the soul is glued on, by cosmic taxidermy. Well, not really. More by transcendental taxidermy:

the human soul stuck to the body of a corpse… and which the afterthought? For the afterlife, the latter.

…Is resurrection in the body metaphorical? or… virtual?

This would make sense. I mean: it would make sense. The rational part of sense, to which the soul is the best proportion, the perfect ratio. … And freed from the body takes off, like this:

Pause.

What part is the insubstantial again? and what the rendered insubstantial? the de-prioritised?

It’s that old body of the animal again, of which the chimaera is the perfect example: a constructed thing.

A mechanical thing, even, that David Bentley Hart rails against with such seriousness. Seriously. (In a nod to Hart I wanted to say, with such wanton solemnity.)

A book I am reading. Roland is a dog. He talks to the narrator on serious subjects like the dismissal of the transcendental experience (of living beside yourself, body and soul) by the mechanistic world view. The book’s success will be in the measure to which Roland separates himself from the views of Hart, the narrator.

From instruction, edification, tutelary and educative purposes, to … entertainment, would seem to be the path followed by chimaerae into modernity. Entertainment and art, that is. And we ought to think of those lesser souls belonging to lesser bodies, bodies more chimaerical, like those, classically, of women. And of the children who are yet to be edified and educated; and of non-whites, yet to be colonised, indentured, and given a mission.

Too embodied, these ones.

Will Hart allow his dog, Roland, to be one of these?

And what of the bodies of literature, like Latin American literature? The chimaera of …?

I don’t think Zambra really uses the word, chimaera. χίμαιρα is the female form of χίμαρος, meaning, in Ancient Greek, male goat: female goat.

– Jacopo Ligozzi, c.1600

I said female goat… but we do have here the fire-breathing part, and the querulous lion: is this masculinisation concessionary?

We can ask the same of literature, of course, as well as we can whether it is non-concessionary.

Mario Levrero begins his novel… this happens in the first two pages… by relating the sort of psychologism that Hart might reject.

Levrero tells us that he had a transcendental experience, which he told a friend about in the form of an anecdote. Why an anecdote? Because the etymology of anecdote is clear: it means unpublished account (ἀνέκδοτος = ἀν- not + έκδοτος published. έκδοτος derives from έκ- out of or ex– and δίδωμι, which is the first person singular of the verb to give).

Levrero’s friend says he must write it down. It would make a great novel. A great and luminous novel, perhaps, like we have here in our hands.

And Levrero says no. Impossible. Impossible to recapture the transcendental experience, to do it justice, in anything more substantial than an anecdote. End of discussion.

Except that it’s not, it’s not the end. It’s the beginning.

Levrero forgets, and this is the important point: he forgets the friend’s instruction, the friend telling him what he must do; he has, afterall, rejected it. And, anyway, it turns out they are no longer friends.

He forgets it. Levrero says, of course, what he is in fact forgetting is his resistance to his friend’s advice. And from this resistance comes the whole problem. The problem that is The Luminous Novel, in its published form. Because his opposition to the idea inflames it.

He tries again and again to write down the anecdote in which he relates his transcendental experience. And he dismisses each effort, and destroys it. But, the next important point: the urge and urgency to pursue the idea no longer comes from the friend, the friend who is no longer a friend, but from Levrero himself. It comes from inside him.

He attributes to himself, to his inner being or core, or soul, if you like, the demand, the commandment to write … and even tells himself it was own idea. It came from him…

And what is he doing, then, the poor man, torturing himself, when every effort to write down the story of the transcendental experience is in vain?

One thing is for sure, he can’t write his way out, he can’t write himself out of this problem, because he is the problem!

He is the problem and the cause of the problem and he can’t cut himself into two halves, even if they are unequal halves, returning to himself once he has cut himself off from or cut out the criminal part. The corpse, if you like. The animal. He can’t claim transcendence by following the only part that is transcendental.

As I said a psychologism, or a psychological ghost story. And, like Hart’s, a spiritual one.

The friend is ghosted, dead to you, and you tell yourself it is you yourself who told you what you must do because of what you had done.

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a note on Walter Benjamin, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” from lecture 7, Theory & Context

Walter Benjamin is misunderstood in his essay of 1935 if it is thought he is referring to what is particular to an artwork, or to what is unique and singular in general: the reproduction he is referring to is not so much to do with the reproduction of an original as to do with the overcoming of any sort of origin or process or event of origination as happening in an original and unrepeatable time by the fact that time itself can be repeated, in the here and now, of the shot. That is, the moving image, or movement-image.

The word he uses to cover a sense of loss, without himself giving way to any sense of loss, is aura. And by this word we are to understand not what is intrinsic to the object or the kind of movement that is intrinsic to it but what is and that kind of movement that is incidental to it. This is the action or agency of time: it’s the wear and tear, the traces of history, which mark the passage of time.

And here, in the age of mechanical reproduction, the object and its movement, as the actor and theirs’, that Benjamin also mentions, is freed from time.

The aura is lost, without a sense of its loss: in fact this sense is the coming attraction.

Now, the title of this essay, is usually given in English as reproducibility to be closer to the German Reproduzierbarkeit, but this seems wrong to me, since it undoes in part that on which the essay is premised. Where reproducibility suggests the reproduction is yet to come, the work of art in the age of … reproduction suggests it has already arrived. Or its coming is in the future perfect, as having arrived.

Reproducibility would be of the entirety of what is to come.

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this poem departs (introduction to poems that don’t exist #3)

       This poem departs from the idea which is not my own that all that we think of as objective knowledge is subjective knowledge.

       I suppose I can call it a poem, I am introducing poems that don’t exist. It doesn’t exist, this poem.

       When we think of the object of knowledge we think of it as outside ourselves. Someone told us. Or we saw for ourselves. Most often it’s someone, teachers, friends, parents, parents rarely. They are hardly believable. It’s even difficult to think of their existence, of them being objectively real.

       Why would I not call it a poem should it not exist and not if it should? I think in my first introduction, if you go back there, this was the case.

       Most often, more often than not it’s a body, giving out what then becomes public knowledge. That is, publishing, but as such bodies are in the business, they sell it, are selling it. That is, publicity. So they are private bodies, businesses; and even if public institutions, like schools and libraries, and institutions of government, they think of themselves as businesses. They have adopted the business model; even organs of government, those organs telling us what’s going on in our own society, what new laws have been made, these are not, as is sometimes thought, political mouthpieces, organs of propaganda: they are private companies or separate departments engaged in public relations, that is, PR.

       I wouldn’t call my writing all through these years poetry, because it has never been published as poetry for a start. But it has been read as poetry... but not like, and this is where these introductions to poems that don’t exist come in, it has not been read like those people I hesitate to call poets because I all too readily recognise their voices. Yes, I all too readily hear in the voices of those who read their poetry who know it to be poetry, poems, they are reading, who are for the most part published poets, and those who aspire to be published, to have their poetry published, I all too readily hear in their voices other voices. Other voices which all come down to one voice. One voice that we know to be the voice of poetry, which, in other words, serves, pays exactly lip service, to our knowledge of what poetry already is.

       The change from public to private organs of knowledge we recognise as participating in the change from knowledge to information. But this part is exaggerated when we, as some do, maintain the change from knowledge to information to be to the former’s detriment. Or go as far as to say it marks the demise of knowledge. Or complete symbolic breakdown.

       When I read poetry I read it in my own voice. So I’ve never been concerned about what my voice is on the page. It shifts, drifts. I can’t go as far as to say I have multiple voices. I am not Fernando Pessoa.

       There are those informing us of what we take to be the case. With some practice we can separate out commentary from exact description. We can separate the facts from opinion, or from the taint of subjectivity. We suppose we can. I don’t intend in the poem that follows to be gainsaying this supposition. This is not the reason for my poem.

       Without too great an uncertainty, and despite the inroads made into the world of poetry, of poetry publishing, a large part of which relies on its own PR, its own good publicity, in allowing those inroads to be made, by black people, by coloured people, by people belonging to ethnic minorities and by women, queer, trans people, those who are in the middle of transitioning and those whose identities are fluid, among whom I do not count myself, we may call the voice of poetry despite this progress, despite the progress made by all these factors, we may call it his master’s voice.

       This poem then is not so concerned with the passage to privatisation of knowledge where knowledge equals power and the globalisation of that power. It’s not so concerned with the politics of knowledge. It’s not that idea, the idea of science and civilization going hand in hand and then knowledge being taken out of the hands of the civilizing process, siphoned off into privately owned silos, it’s not this idea that it departs from; and neither is it the idea of there being some good attached to the history of knowledge in its relation to power, nor is it the idea of some bad, of the process of civilization being one of conquest, of colonisation, of empire, of slavery or of emancipation.

       His master’s voice takes up poetry in a way that ruins it for me. And it does so for the slam-poetry poet-performer as well as for the academic poet-teacher: the little chat introducing the poem over, he, she, they, launch in, with a change in voice, a change in speech to what is in quotation marks. His master’s voice.

       The following poem, that, remember, does not exist... is not about freeing knowledge or of planting and harvesting it, of stockpiling or of weaponising it in some kind of economic arms race... It’s not about its advantage or disadvantage. It’s not above it. It departs from this... at that point when... all that we think of as being objectively known becomes subjective. That is, the point at which we, any one of us, either stupid or smart, poor or rich, powerful or powerless, grasp it, understand and know. What do we know?

       I’m not saying hear me, I am an authority on this, you can bet the academic poet-teacher of poetry does her best not to write, in fact and defensively tries to avoid writing, poetry suited to the seminar. And you can bet the slam-poetry performer does not try to avoid writing and presenting the stuff suited to the society of slam poets: he, she, they, want to belong. The poet-teacher disowns. She, he is, they are uncomfortable in their professional skins. That’s why we laud the laureate’s appointment who manifests to us the inroads poets have made into the poetry business who have different skins: we appreciate their struggle with having to wear them that can only mean progress for poetry, and be filtered back into the process of teaching it, the civilizing process.

       What I am saying, and it’s not an original thought, it’s not an original thought and it’s not because it’s not that this poem departs from it, is, what I am saying is that because all we think of as being objectively known is only ever subjective, is that the poem has to depart. Knowledge is always this departure. And a poem is too.

       I am not saying I have altogether avoided his master’s voice by calling it out. My failure to publish poetry is my failure. It’s not turn-around-able into a successful strategy to avoid his master’s voice that I don’t call my work, my pieces of work, writing, poems... except those, like the following, that doesn’t exist.

       What I am talking about in the poem that doesn’t exist is not freedom from slavery. What I am talking about in the poem is a new I. The new I that follows the departure that to know is and that a poem is.

       I am he who—

       I am she who—

       I am they who—

       Language is a found object.

       I hear its murmuring. A background to the world. And forming it into words...

       It’s said. Is not enough. As if the fault lay with language.

       The impossible to express.

       It does not. And changing it or knowing how to is simply irresponsible.

       The proper response is to let him go let her go let them go

       It’s called this poem departs

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introduction to a poem that doesn’t exist

       This is a poem called ‘a nice friendly chat,’
       or:
       ‘the familiar bathos at the unfamiliar time, at bath time.’ Or:
       ‘as I look out upon the devastation we have caused, I can’t help thinking,
       I should write about this.’ or, have you noticed when ... poets begin to read their own work. 
       Something happens. Cadences occur, that would not, in everyday
       speech. And the words tend not to fly out or up
       but fall down, dying, at the end of the line.
       Is this why I prefer the introduction to poems,
       that don’t exist?

       I don’t think the Beats did this, but I have heard singers who do.
       Who don’t let the song speak for itself, without
       a little chat. This is a song about
       happiness. Listen,

       I was happy once
       before I had to get up in front of you and sing, and this
       is the song I wrote about it—And I was in love,
       now you have forgotten about it—It’s about
       sadness. So the song

       becomes a report, that is sung
       without looking at the words and if looking at the words
       without reading them. Singing them
       ‘a too sincere apology for my insincere behaviour,’ or
       ‘if time heals all wounds then I think I’m running out,’

       This morning magpies were singing omicron
       half a moon lay in the sky like a piece of bone       
       discarded and spilling its contents on the sky
       it lay there rolling I know this tells you nothing
       about how to live since life among people
       has become unbearable

       and we have to wonder today what the function of all this talk is if not trying to tie up like a thousand shoelaces connections some force has undone

       and every effort made, even after a short walk in your shoes I feel I must correct you, you are falling falling further apart,

       and I feel I must, I must tie up your shoelaces for you

       I could guess it’s a moral or a spiritual force, for the—and have you noticed it’s always in writing?—wanting to tie your shoelaces

       I want you to know, it was me who tied them for you.

       This culture of communication we live in, that because it is written we ought not call conversation simply,

       becomes an excuse for constant fucking moralising

       the fatuous comment of those trying to alleviate the situation, whose every attempt at levity is

       equally conservative moral. It’s poetry-heavy.

       Heavy with portent, fat with good breeding, stock full of references, and good for you...

       or poetry-lite, it’s called stand-up:

       ‘I yawned so hard I think I dislocated my jaw, ouch’


       It goes,

       I want you to know, it was me who tied your shoelaces


       this poem is about How to fight the endless fucking moralising

       that has become the Other in the world,

       who forecloses the world from me

       with his judgement, with her jokes, just jokes, and doesn’t seem to be able to enjoy herself and doesn’t seem to mind

       A world that is dying, expensive, crushing and disappointing, unjust, controlling, racist, cancelled, sexist, corrupt, sick, I’m sick of it

       The problem is no longer that the self is the synthesis of secondary images, the self is the synthesis of secondhand opinion

       It is no longer a question of what’s true or false and of their contention,

       it is the contention itself as every alternative is raised up to be or lowers itself to be

       . I tie your shoelaces together and watch you fall over .

       the laughing end


       it is a world

       without possibility


       there is no option but to stand outside
       
       

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sketches of Kawaeranga


don’t trust bird stories

they have short lives

	are pleased to please themselves

	tell of quick movement

quick and alive and

don’t trust the pain of trees

	they bear up the sky

	look

the sky is blue


…


	the big kauri on the ridge

supports half the sky

	calls endlessly for help

distresses the children

for brothers and sisters’

	assistance

to the wind

	distresses its

over a thousand

	children


…


my ankle gave way on the tramline

	coming down the cutting

no tram

	no trestle

the dams remains

	no kauri

numbers to support the efforts

	taken to remove them

the exorbitant efforts


…






4 . 1 . 2022

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a short series up to christmas


I think of the demands of people

	they fill my dreams and I

cannot satisfy them. Perhaps
 
	they can’t be satisfied. Yet,

woken by birds and the light of day

	that is always sudden, I still

hear talking. Being polite’s been

	overtaken by the demands of

sociability. That’s a fact. So why do I

	find it so hard to get my head

around? I mean, now children are

	to be heard, and not seen, and,

I mean, it’s a fact of growing up that

	we communicate more and more,

but, by saying we, I don’t know what

	I mean. Who, after all, is
 
growing up? If there’s a threshold of

	respect, I can honestly say

I have not crossed it. So the demands

	turn to insults, with the full meaning

the word has of a physical insult, that is
 
	worse than an injury. And like the

victim of injury, even sleeping I have

	a sense of shame and harbour it

when I am woken. And carry it, like a

	small broken heart or a bird,

hidden in my palm, throughout the day.






23 . 12 . 2021

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a short series up to christmas

a small colourful bundle

	arrived yesterday

We must trade offline



first inclination

	to propose it, in this form

Must be kind



“the mystery you would be

	I would unfold, pausing at the mystery

Be careful



“of unfolding, trembling fingers

	following soft bifurcations...

We must move



moments laid bare, a trail

	"unwound wonder wounds"

To a new form of life



of fragmentary insights, like

	garments, or threads

We must change now



teasing or warning? to propose

	to time, unlike anything in

Now each of us recognises



the original bundle,

	here, its skin

In the other the same need



and every moment of its skin

	unwound, veins and neurons

In a nutshell, I want to say a skull,



minute, fractions of Horror

	and Love,

We are bound



a colourful bundle

	arrived yesterday

We must not break down.







21 . 12  . 2021

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sixty-eighth part, called “on movement LXVIII,” of a series of ‘letters’ written to you, the reader, towards a book called, theatre | writing

on movement

Why is there misapprehension? is it out of malevolence? Is it out of malevolence your signals are misunderstood? that they are taken for meaning something far away from your actual desire? And the desired meanings, they have somehow been wrested from you.

Now they are being used to control you, so you should suppress them. You really ought to exercise self-control. And is it with a kind of malevolence then that you turn on yourself, practice austerities on your own libidinal economy, at least inasmuch as the messaging is concerned? And isn’t it with sadness you look at the comments, take literally the feedback, which might not be unkind, might be of the kindest sort and might have the best intentions behind it, but feeds back by a closed loop into the structured economy of your identity, exercising a control which becomes a suppression?

Must suppress internal difference, you don’t think it, you do it. Especially the most internal difference of all, sexual difference is given over to the comedy of mistaken identity. That is, it is identified with the symbol for it, with which one should, such is its morality, identify oneself.

Fraudulence—what is its source? Well, in play are the symbols, each one of which, like the smallest gesture, expresses a world. But what has happened to the choice of world? What has happened to its decision? And what has happened to the cut?

It’s a craze, a frenzy, we have said, and a froth, buried under layers and layers of similarly mobile surfaces. A metastasis, we have named it, belonging to a metastatic temporality. For each particle of the subject, all the human parts are instantaneously reassembled. And the sign itself is left outside, so each one, static on its surface, is like a doughnut. Each expands with such rapidity, internalising its outside, the hole, externalising structure, so avid for expansion, it goes unnoticed. The misapprehension of the crowd is like a yeast working from the outside and froth of oil slicking and lubricating the surface of the public comedy, the local slapstick.

Each has these three mythic parts… then why misapprehension? because the symbolic is exactly that which cannot grab hold of them, only gesture towards them, either inwards or outwards, centrifugally or centripetally …having the structure of a subjective economy: this goes for the whole socius; identity, given the economising motif of its lack, its in-the-hole-ness; and a toroidal, or doughnut-shaped feature of completion and continuity, throughout society: the famous circular economy. The famous circular economy stands here for the myth. The myth stands for the foundation. This is human in that it feeds back, to the extent that power here is circular.

Misapprehension, the flaw in the myth, goes from crowd to individual. Individual is mobilised. But this does not account for the apprehension of, the feeling of not being understood, that, introjected, spirally, becomes, I am a fraud. We might here be describing false consciousness, reinscribing the individual into the ideological state apparatus, except that what we are describing is the object of it, its outside. Where? …the hole… and if we could only join up, not the fatty tissue of inflating yeasty dough suspended in bubbly grease, but the holes, we should see fissures and cracks start to form.

Going from the crowd into the individual, in fact, all shame is from the social institution. The very same can be said of the foundation myth. So there is shame in marriage in the same way as there is shame in the self. Shame in theatre: we have seen before, in the beginning actor, in her hesitancy and indecision, as to what to do; but more powerfully in the confusion of the audience with the action onstage.

In the consciousness of one’s shame being asked to participate, or being required to, by the direction the show has been taken in, one is like anybody before, we might say, the law. But such is the mythic law, the human, and the sad; and not the natural law that would address why it is we are made sad by what should make us happy. In the unhappy consciousness, shame, turning-away, self-suppressing, desexualising at the same moment it auto-oedipalises, we see human consciousness being, acting like the rehearsal for public shaming, turning away, and so on. And, yes, this is its role, given the shape of the symbolic and thrice-greatest foundation myth that is subtractive with being contracted, signed up for the social contract. That this is its role public misapprehension implies, from which private shame draws its inference.

Yet, if the role of consciousness can be seen to be in rehearsal its place is in the invisible work, and the inaudible. Being overheard here on the little stage of the self, the void which makes up that hole, comes before structure, the structure of character, the role, the play, the show and self-display. It prepares it and comes before the production. Only confusion would lead one to invite an audience in to hear one’s private thoughts, and then to take a seat among the spectators. This human participation would be the opposite direction to go in if we want to avoid shame, sadness and misunderstanding.

Should we want to increase joy we might respect the process, attend to the production in ourselves of what is not yet a human subject, overhearing the animal cries and invisible vegetative states, the stony stares, of us, and move from one to an other. We can move by way of fractions, degrees of difference: time fractures the natural surface, it is fractal. In movement, changing the subject, the myth may be undone; because, in turn, founding the myth, we have the dream of being human: to which art is antidote.

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sixty-seventh part, called “on movement LXVII,” of a series of ‘letters’ written to you, the reader, towards a book called, theatre | writing

on movement

The distinction we would make is not that between illusion and reality, or, as Deleuze does, between the virtual-intelligible and the actual-sensible which proceeds from it. And we are in no place to impugn artificiality, the artificiality of symbols, say, and praise the naturalness of stones. But here is the difference: the myth of the stones is charming and remarkable; the myth of symbols is always at our expense. So we would distinguish the artifice, art, illusion, the nothingness of thought and the public or private virtue, from that artifice, art, illusion, appearance of the sensible, and actual public, private and subjective powers which use the myth to maintain their power, their power and our subjection.

The power has to be doubted that needs to enlist myth in its support. And this is the strategic task we are engaged in here; not to distinguish good myth from bad: perhaps, more adequately, good theatre from bad, although the formula rests on a moral distinction. We should ask how symbolic myth makes us indebted, how it takes away from our enjoyment of life, social and individual, if this question were not already substantially answered by Marx: it does so through the medium of capital.

The change I think which has occurred from Marxist analysis is that the mobilisation of capital has led to the mobility of the medium itself. It has metastasised. From it come the metastases of the manmade, that is, the symbolic form as a subject of synthesis. This is what we have talked about in terms of synthesis contracting or synthesising symbolic entities, but we can perhaps see it more clearly in the metastases of for example plastics in the environment: the synthesis which is of plastic particles in living flesh.

Plastic—not a symbol, you will say: yes, but a commodity: the commodity form is the symbol-thing and, converting one into the other, makes them completely reversible. The non-fungible token is so through the fungibility of thing-person-signature-sign-and-symbol as an economic unit. We can’t attack mobility directly, however, and will have recourse to the symbolic reference, not in the thing, person, author, artist, meaningful sign referred to, but in the myth.

Movement changes the subject, moves it from where it has been fixed by an established power. Establishing power are what we had as three subjective powers. These have their use to power and are its founding principles, for as long as they are animated by another world, since they are at once mythic principles.

Symbols turn to face them, and we gain from these the sense of our own desire being animate, autonomous and automatic: our own desire is animated, given autonomy, becomes automatic by virtue of subjective powers made founding principles, establishing and emblazoning their power, maintaining subjection as that that we have chosen for, the three myths. They are, of a structural economy, identity, and just causation. The latter we had formerly identified, specifically because of its symbolic character, with a poor excuse.

How are these founding myths? To take the second, identity: it describes the personalisation of desire. If we consider ourselves compartmentalised, this part human, this other part too, that one sexual human, then over here, a human consciousness, a social unconscious that is human, then, in part deriding all the parts, and ruling over them regardless, no, not the limbic system, but desire, the system of desires distributing the parts, accounting for them: why am I like this? because of desire.

It was instilled in me. And, therefore, like a genetic inheritance, it is what I must choose. But is this the choice in which we found for a kind of freedom?

No. The movement here is all inside. A full inside. A bound inside, bound to oneself, and, in this way, what one is bound to do.

If Oedipus has any part in power, it is here. What we have in the myth of desire being a governing principle is not it was always like this but I am a fraud. And with all the more avidity, I will bind myself up in a destiny, not the brave destiny of Oedipus, but one of auto-oedipalisation. What else can I do?

I am bound to do nothing other than choose the soft-furnishings over the hard. And shift them around the deck, like private prostheses publicly displayed. Making myself comfortable, or, practicing austerity, faced with the inevitable.

The law of desire is binding inasmuch as it cleaves to the stage and is obedient to it. However, due to the mobility of the surface, auto-oedipalised immobility, in stasis, follows the mob—traversing desire at once in every direction. We should listen to that ‘at once’ because it is a clue to there being a static time, a time of war, of drama and movement. We don’t tend to hear it, or listen to it without hearing it. As if we don’t want to hear its judgement.

Instead the misapprehensions of the crowd, travelling in every direction, as we have said, at once, go to the individual. And the self is groundless. Or these are bits of the self demanding synthesis, demanding its contraction, of which it is no longer capable. They go to the self inside it. We have also claimed theatre to be a good way of addressing the inside.

The mobile swarm of public opinion, symbolically expressed, with the mobility of signs, across the void, out onto which, sooner and later, an individual steps, fill the space. We might consider space here to signify a time, and this temporality to occupy a pure spatium. But what do we do with all these signs, gestures, symbolic of the mythic constructions of others?

We attempt their synthesis. Hence the pulling apart of the self, its fragmentation occurs according to a time, on the timeline traced along the surface: to live each day. To endure the at times unendurable passage of the hours. Cleaving to the stage, its surface escaping us, leaving signs the only mark of passage. Down to minutes, seconds, microseconds, nanoseconds, a metastatic time: this time corresponds to the mobility of the surface, a temporality where the movement of subjects in which every bit of time is synthesised is indiscernible and there is only speed: a temporality of the metastases of synthesis. And no longer audible is the clicking of tongues, but a human hum.

note: source references available on request–these will be part of the book, if it should come to pass.

If you would like to help it come to pass, and show your support for what I’m up to, please sponsor it: become a patron, here.

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sixty-sixth part, called “on movement LXVI,” of a series of ‘letters’ written to you, the reader, towards a book called, theatre | writing

on movement

Clarification might be needed. Clarification is always needed, not necessarily to avoid confusion. And not necessarily to avoid the confusion of what we have called misapprehensions around symbolic connectivity. Clarification is not needed in the way of a clearing made and for there to be communication. Clarification is always needed to let in a little air. …Although, the question of air is immediately perilous: how polluted is it?

First, it seems, we must clear the air. We must clear the air of what we have done to it. But look at us.

We have this pretense we speak the same language. We come to the same point on the page, presupposing we’re on the same page. A sentence runs out of breath.

And, with an intake of air, we start again. At least, we try to. What for?

What for, if not to be understood, to have clearly before us… and to ask for clarification… of the subject…? Or should it be, simply to connect? Yes, to connect fills me with apprehension. Does it you?

I mean, as if clarification were necessary, I am filled with apprehension about the task at hand, or would be, were it, if it is, for the sake of connection. Those office minds who say, You can’t write a book that noone will read! It’s like they’re infected with business.

You can’t eschew connection. Unless you at once admit—and commit to it—that you have a pathology; that you have concurrently undergone. We all feel a little that way sometimes.

How much?! How much is it just about breathing? And here clarification would mean a little life. Not such a big demand. Life seeking to expend its energies… as Nietzsche writes.

Alphonso Lingis, Al. Are you there? In a beautiful passage you are standing at a supermarket checkout counter. You are in a country where you don’t understand the language—just like us?—and you have gone there in the vacation, in a break from academic life.

You have bought the plane ticket you could afford. Your criteria were preferably a country where I neither speak, nor understand the language, and price. You don’t mind spending your whole pay, to be somewhere where you have never been before. Perhaps it’s Mongolia.

In front of you in the checkout queue is a woman. I think she has a coat on, and right now you wished you’d worn something warmer. She doesn’t look to see what’s in your basket. She doesn’t look you up and down, assessing what you’re wearing, or say You’re not from around here are you. She looks you in the face and in her eyes you see a spark of recognition. Before saying a word, that anyway you wouldn’t understand, not giving you a chance to shrug apologetically in incomprehension, you both break out laughing.

What sort of connection is that? It is one of mutual recognition but recognition of a minimal intent: you and she both intend to go on breathing, are both in this climate, which isn’t exactly hot. You’ll each need to eat at some point, and take a drink. Isn’t that why you came to the supermarket? And now you’re both standing in this checkout queue, seeing each other for the first time and recognising in each other the minimal elements, the minimal requirements of life.

It’s not a need or a desire you recognise. It’s an imperative you each see in the other, and recognise. Like a spark that each in the other you would shelter with your hands. And so you burst out laughing.

If I should seek to clarify this, it’s in that spirit: what is it at stake in the symbolic? And why ‘symbolic’? Wouldn’t a better word be semiotic? seeing as how Guattari writes about the present phase of capitalism being a semiotisation, and this semiotisation permeating social life, suffocating it?

What I have in mind is that the signs semiotics studies have a gestural part, a working part, which Guattari also calls asignifying. He is theorising a semiotics of the asignifying that for us is caught up in, is the gesture. You recall it: that gesture of which the smallest is a world.

Having a gestural part the signs, produced, reproduced through, as Guattari writes, semiotisation as the current form of capital, can be taken to be symbolic gestures, gestures with a symbolic, mythic quality, invested gestures. What Guattari calls the asignifying part, the gesture, puts the sign to work in a way that is symbolic, mythic. Causing it, the gesture-sign-symbol, to be invested, is what is at stake in the symbolic. That is, desire.

The question of the symbolic is: what then are the myths animating desire, in the current era of its semiotisation? It is in service of these myths that there is and will be symbolic production and reproduction. We know the prompting, eliciting of desire to serve production, through something which is called consumption, but that through its semiotisation has become significant, has become sign and is sign-production, or straightforward production. The asignifying and the signifying work together, in the symbol.

Yet there has to be a will to desire. For it is required a myth of the personal. For it the myth is the personal, where we can ask such questions as, Should we abandon desire? As if it is ours to be taken on its word or to be given away.

note: source references available on request–these will be part of the book, if it should come to pass.

If you would like to help it come to pass, and show your support for what I’m up to, please sponsor it: become a patron, here.

If you would like to receive these posts, as they are written, as letters addressed to you, please send me your email address.

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...
Ἀκαδήμεια
CAPITAL CAPITAL CAPITAL
hommangerie
imarginaleiro
immedia
infemmarie
point to point
textasies
textatics
theatricality
theatrum philosophicum
thigein & conatus

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