Click banner for general. | Next page. >

Is there anyone worthy of the heights, the fireworks, the depths, the sweeps, the strokes, the frames like the abyss, and the forces like the bends and binds and trains, of figure? What already holds us all and lays us to waste, decides us before we can decide, relates us before we are related, commits us beyond any vow or intent, inextricably bound to each other across the incommensurable, shows us we do not hold the reins to our hearts. Is there anyone who can really take on love?


You don't think something, you think through something. Figure becomes frame. Everything is figure, the relay of metaphor.


The space of god. The space for god. Reading Derrida about architecture and the church, thinking of cathedrals. And infinite space, or perhaps better, the infinitization that is space. "In" space "itself" the term space.


Belief in representation. Cinematography. This as an example of deconstruction, defamiliarization, and how breaking down this "faith," the constructed way, habit, custom of seeing -- what as if immediate -- is also another way of seeing and thus seeing even more what we see. The fact that with movies we are so in the grip of the figural, of representation of three-dimensional movement and space. But even when it's not a matter of the schooling, or tradition, or culture of vanishing point and those methods of representation, it's still figural, that we take the graphic representation for the thing, as if those who always want to warn us about language would have to warn us about this. It's the way any screen or monitor that is on in a room, especially with all the accretion of "drama" in even the now common, vulgar sense of the word, becomes a window, as if you're looking through to another space that then can become the larger one, enveloping even the "real" space you are in, what supposedly frames it. But if we can also train ourselves to break this spell, using methods that some have already presented to us -- the constructivists, Brecht's distancing, just to name a couple offhand -- and see the screen as supposedly some animals do, animals that, according to Lacan, have no interest in their reflection, do not see this image with the same "recognition" of the self: do not perhaps participate in the same construction of the self, or have the same weakness for it. And that's it, too. That there is the advantage of this detachment, of making a two-dimensional representation two dimensions again, to see composition and arrangement and pattern that way also.


Words, since they are the nodal points of numerous ideas, may be regarded as predestined to ambiguity.

-- Sigmund Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams

Opposing the exigency of the drive, the Symbolic permits the intolerable satisfaction to find expression in the obsessional thought . . . The obsessional idea does not ask for interpretation; to say what it means is useless or even noxious.

-- Dominique Miller, "Obsession: A Name of the Super-Ego"

What I have called paranoic knowledge is shown, therefore, to correspond in its more or less archaic forms to certain critical moments that mark the history of man's mental genesis, each representing a stage in obejctifying identification.

-- Jacques Lacan, "Aggressivity in Psychoanalysis"

No doubt, certainty is what drives one insane . . . We are all afraid of truth.

-- Nietzsche, Ecce Home

What then is truth? A mobile army of metaphors, metonyms, and anthropomorphisms -- in short, a sum of human relations, which have been enhanced, transposed, and embellished poetically and rhetorically, and which after long use seem firm, canonical, and obligatory to a people: truths are illusions about which one has forgotten that is what they are; metaphors which are worn out and without sensuous power; coins which have lost their pictures and now matter only as metal, no longer as coins.

     We still do not know where the urge for truth comes from; for as yet we have heard only of the obligation imposed by society that it should exist: to be truthful means using the customary metaphors -- in moral terms, the obligation to lie according to fixed convention, to lie herd-like in a style obligatory for all.

-- Nietzsche, "On Truth and Lie in an Extra-Moral Sense"

We have reason to believe.

The process of thinking versus what we want to be. Want to be (a la Lacan also) -- this is the force of "being" as truth, value, reality. This is also how the "gnosological," magic, dreams and wishes, forms of faith and belief, come into play and why knowledge is paranoiac, beyond the pleasure principle. But why does it become necessary to have this projection beyond a "pure," and even ignorant state of pleasure? Becoming infected with this recognition, desire or even need for the constative, to assert, as if this supplants "actual" or instinctive or reflexive pleasure itself.

This short-circuit, sheer kneejerk, is an evasion of the process of thinking -- and how painfully obvious this can be in so many cases -- for the value one wants to have, but this in turn requires the very thinking, at some point, the pretense at least as a scaffolding, because one's gratification would be just as short-changed as far as the process, the ascent to esteem, recognition, even worship. This is avoidance of the slippery slope for the bare proposition.

It works something like this: I am the best, how am I the best, am I the best. Substitute any certainty one is desperate for: I will not die, how will I not die, will I not die. Etc.

This is what is called neurosis. Or it could perhaps be a larger category. But it is the stakes, at all. There is no category that can bracket this one, as this undoes category.

Why think about the problem of control when we'd rather just think we're in control.

And there is a practical necessity to this: the truth of this error. We can't lie around thinking about the slippery slope. We must obviate it, as we do at any moment, to get up and go to the bathroom.

This is the abyss and one really must dance around it.


Making a society is not rules of conduct or government, or even something else overarching like design or planning or culture. It's having society in the simple sense of that, relating and interacting, with all the factors everyone is. If we leave that only to family, to a dichotomy of private and public where all society is left to a default of parental charge and rule, no wonder our society is dysfunctional: the worst traits of self-validation at the expense of civility.


In the despotic personality* you see the fences. There is an inflation: a ratio of grandiosity to provincialism, where the former is betrayed by the way in which the latter is maintained to minimize exposure, risk. This can even be measured by, expressed by the factor of, envy. How does the person express envy? Do they traffic in it freely, express it frankly, or like a contraband, denying and defying in spite or their reaction? The point here may be labored: it's about the very banal moments of this, and when we see it, it's obvious, but we can then lose sight of it again. Those who deal with the despotic personality in a daily way -- and let's face it, everywhere, all the time, we deal with this, in others and ourselves, and tyrants, people in high positions, are only special cases of this -- this grandeur and exceptionalism are very petty, trivial and common -- can just as easily fall into it, share the dream for all the good social and sympathetic reasons. Out of love one shares want and vision. (And in fact, envy, jealousy, are what show us how we have this same relation within the self.) You think the world of the person, you see their smiles and broad gestures and references to bounty, but then you suddenly see the relief, a contrast, an economy, perhaps even directly the lack or what's being kept out, sometimes very effectively if not conscientiously as the cost. It's a false front, and the greatness depends on this drawing of the circle, its abstraction disguising how much more must be left out to make the inside seem full. This can become a black hole.

* I use this expression, "despotic personality," only conveniently, as a gloss, and because I don't want to use it or any of these others definitively: narcissistic personality disorder, neurosis or obsessive neurotic, paranoid or persecution complex, tyrant, reactionary, the allergic self (this may be the better one to use, see etymology for "allergy"), the authoritarian personality, megalomania, etc. The problem with any of these alone is relegation, fixing, a gesture that is as much a part of this same motivation as any outside of it. And, somewhat in the manner of the Lacanians but again also in a gesture that can't or shouldn't be reduced to that specifically, this is a matter of not relegating, because it is generalizable, and we need to see this as part of "all" psychology, personality, ego, the "self," and not belonging only to other (allo), an other, another, abject, ob-ject, self-evidently distinct from the "I" or "me" who makes the perception or diagnosis. As Lacan says, the ego is these defenses -- already. The self is born of this division, an assertion based on the imago introduced, the other inside it.

Again, in turn, this does not mean normalizing tyrannical behavior, or nullifying where it's more acute. The first part above is precisely about the necessity of dealing with that, how it's unavoidable. It means extending the scope of accounting for it, vigilance, if we want to call it that. We're never off the hook, none of us. Perhaps the best selfishness we can make, where the concern for the self becomes also the concern for the other, is self-vigilance.


Life is sacred: means sacrifice to a god. Is this the definition of a god? Or even life? To think of life as sacred has always been as how it can be proffered, taken, given, lost. The worth of life is always in how it is taken. This is consumption, with or without a god. Plankton shows how life is litter.


At the fair: thought of this: the association of disaster, or the identification with disaster. Disastrous belonging, the disaster of belonging, the disaster of association or identification. (How to say this?) About the San Francisco earthquake again (Loma Prieta, 1989), and watching the account of it, the feeling of that evocation, being returned to something, having it be so familiar, that was such a pang of disruption, the sensation of fear that was an internal earthquake, a loss of foundation to any sense, fear and uncertainty taking over, the undermining of everything as a psychological condition. This was of course the aftershock, the after-effect, as it worked out with the earthquake and the couple of weeks after, for example the Cyprus freeway collapse and all the delayed effects, aftershocks. This was the after-effect effect of all effect. This was -- is -- being effects. (We are thus also in that sense phantoms, phenomenon. Of course this is also what makes us not "is," what puts the "is" under erasure.)

In the moment -- and this measure of time, sensation of time, or time as sensation, how it's done, what is done to that, for example all the accounts of how 17 seconds seemed like minutes -- there are all the metaphors that jump up in order to apprehend, comprehend, the event (the event is what deconstructs -- and the rather bad, flat-footed, literal-minded reaching for this term by meteorologists, at the same time too prim or cute, smug, and hyperbolic, notwithstanding, this is a case where the scale of the very literal solicitation of the foundation can be seen in effect for all the other senses): steel, buildings, solid things, the ground moved like waves or like rubber; it was like all the sound was muted or packed together in a din or perhaps it was an all-consuming roar, etc. But fear did not necessarily kick in immediately, and even if it did as pure reflex for protection, it was not the same as the more profound horror of the knowledge of all the effects in the aftermath in the following days and weeks. This is where the psychological foundation crumbled, fell, collapsed, if it did not do so right away.

On the other hand: that evening after, what also fell away was the normal order, and, as Antonin Artaud would describe it, the gratuitousness of life could be felt. The time of disaster or catastrophe, natural or human (Artaud's example was the plague) can bring this terror of no foundation, but it can also bring the end of the everyday order that is its own kind of weight. The fall of this order made everyone seem of the same level in the street. In this larger catastrophe, the fears of and differences with each other seemed to fall away. (What this was strangely similar to was the time after Super Bowl victories by the San Francisco 49ers. Despite some cases of looting, however, the night after the earthquake had less that could cause threat or trouble.)

What it means, then, to watch accounts of this so many years later -- 27 -- and "suddenly" see video of 1989 looking at once (parallax) familiar and dated. And to feel that strange familiarity, and in this case the sense of belonging to, with, an event, an experience of such utter alienation, loss of foundation.


Poesis, creation, play. Those who venture far enough with these may come across propositions quite the opposite of doxa -- though to be opposite of doxa also means not wanting to make another doxa out of them, so keep them quiet. (1) Existence is not a condition of perfection. (Existence of conception is even a greater complication.) (2) Infinity, as the perpetuity of the greater, even by orders and not only simple extension (and as the concept that exceeds its conception: Levinas contra Anselm) is the way that even space is exceeding, thus no longer strictly the physical exceeded by the metaphysical. (The infinite is more ungraspable than God.) (3) Creator separated from creation is merely a distinction of convenience like cause and effect. (4) Because everything will always require its space, its frame beyond it, even to be figured -- the space for play -- fiction is greater than God.

To this Anaxagoras would say, "Nous has the privilege of free random choice; it may start at random; it depends only on itself, whereas all other things are determined by something outside themselves. Nous has no duty and hence no purpose or goal which it would be forced to pursue. Having once started with its motion, and thus having set itself a goal, it would be . . ." To complete this sentence is difficult. Heraclitus did; he said, "a game."

This seems to me to be the final solution, the ultimate answer, that ever hovered on the lips of the Greeks. The Spirit of Anaxagoras is a creative artist. It is, in fact, the most tremendous mechanical and architectural genius, creating with the simplest means the most impressive forms and orbits, creating a movable architectonic, as it were, but ever from the irrational free random choosing that lies in the artist's depths. It is as though Anaxagoras were pointing to Phidias and -- confronted by the enormous art object of the cosmos -- were proclaiming as he would of the Parthenon, "Coming-to-be is not a moral but an esthetic phenomenon." Aristotle relates that Anaxagoras answered the question as to why human existence had value for him as follows: "Because it allows me to view the heavens and the whole order of the cosmos."

- Nietzsche, Philosophy in the Tragic Age of the Greeks [trans. Marianne Cowan]


Not only in principle and by implication generally, but how also actually historically, sociologically -- politically -- science and religion have been together in the notion of order, that nature is an order. For example, "In 1829 the eighth Earl of Bridgewater had died, leaving £8,000 at the disposal of the president of the Royal Society, to be distributed among persons selected to write and publish at least a thousand copies of a treatise 'On the Power, Wisdom and Goodness of God, as manifested in the Creation.'" (Dorothy Stein, Ada: A Life and Legend, The MIT Press, 1987.) For whatever they are worth also, as any greater or more influential or at least more famous examples, legendary or imputed or not, take Descartes's arguments and Darwin's in service of the principle of this order, if not pious outright.


The moon: driving on the highway and seeing the dark, orange-red light on the horizon, the snap impression is it's the top of some kind of structure. But what is that so big I didn't notice before? Then realize the scale. As it continues to rise through strands of clouds, the effect through these great slits in the sky is even more as if some giant eye or light peering in. Thought of the parallax of this "effect," of iteration: the moon accustomed to as fact or habit of the sky, and this re-appearance, re-spectacle and re-specter, this perpetual re-spect. There's the sense of something suddenly changing, that it's course suddenly will change, or hanging there it will suddenly drop or veer, and then turn out to be -- what, like a meterological event or a great ball of fire from space, the big one that finally comes to collide, or from the gods. And this sense again, of affect, what surely everything must be loaded with -- the future, nature, time, the turns our conditions, including all degradation, must take on us -- what was always there for the sense of person, of face, and thus of intent, as our first orientation or frame of reference. They say wolves howl at the moon. What this vision is, the sensation it causes, the visitor of darkness, the greatest specter of the night -- is it the herald of the night, a part of it, or is it the respite, the relief of the night and darkness? All the centuries that we looked at this without seeing the physical properties of our situation -- the movement of the spherical bodies -- or who knows how many it might have occurred to who simply took it with them in their minds.


The mirror is an example that either image, reproduction and even infinite regress are "real" or what they represent is already a phantom.

When you look in the mirror, which one of you is the spirit?


The run-on self.


Kant with Sade -- Lacan with Levinas. The subversion of ethics -- was already done, has already been done, is always already done, as the very movement of morality. And Levinas's version of this, the subjugation of "ethics" as hospitality by logic, is given another expression by Lacan. Not just genealogical in the historical and philosophical sense, but in the psychological sense. See also "Aggressivity in Psychoanalysis." Morality is this sort of overbearing of the Law -- perhaps we would be careful to say the "Law," but this vigilance must extend in the most general sense.

Consumption. Morality as the -- advantage? passing the specific for the general? -- the circle where the greatest arbitrariness and self-serving meet the greatest (most presumptive or reductive) moralism. [We are, everything is] One is consumed. One is as dependent, contingent on what one eats as that which is eaten. One is consumed with as much as by.

This has its sense in the voice -- the voices that speak to me, the incorporation of the other -- as in general or as specifically psychotic.

Orientation -- standing on ground. It suffices for a person to be lost in space to realize that all the reaching out that provokes is the orientation to "environment," setting, that one understands the directing and objectification -- here meaning that an object is needed to be drawn to -- of attention, of the senses, and all the sense in thinking as well -- any sense of direction and direction thus presupposed by any sense -- is the matter of this ground to be standing on. Standing on the ground thus also entailing all this directedness, the direction of head, mouth, nose, eyes, alimentary canal, tactile reach for all the extended sense of reach, impetus, impulse, apprehension or comprehension, etc. One is always caught in the net of, situated as, this orientation that is also reach.

There in the grasp, in the flash of the moment, an angle of light -- what the Catholics call epiphany, but which would have to be just as infinitesimal, grainy, gritty -- the moment or instant sense of chance in the momentous (cf. CRM -- the Christ replication mechanism) -- the wholeness or completeness of the circle is empty. Abstraction, pronouncement, all of this sweep, becomes the cry, the plea, the plaint, the weakness, suffering, pathos of this defiance, as Derrida says of the "I am," which can only presuppose "I am mortal." As Nietzsche traces, renders, expresses with Parmenides, the great moment, the crystallization of this thought, to resolve or render or express everything by one of its parts, is a twist, a trope, a stroke, of genius, yes, of ingenuity in the doing of thinking and what that allows for all doing -- thinking forever more already twisted up as doing -- generative, productive, but it is also a feint, a sham, an evasion or defiance, and this metonymy with which one will then attempt to suppress can only be an operation betraying itself, and opening up again on the Babel, the everything that cannot be contained by the gesture for it, only scoops at the water or the air. I hold in my hand a content to represent that all could be a content. This itself an infinite regress.

The voice, the pronouncement, is also that of the desire to end the slippery slope it is born of: repetition that acts as a principle but is not one by its own non-definition, not substance given to its perpetuation, but the sine qua non for any one. Thus the exceeding and surpassing of the one, the self, the itself. Other / voices, the surfeit of life, this living on of the self exceeding itself, and surpassed by the other.


Writing is a lot like shitting. When you sit there and try to do it nothing happens. When you're running around doing everything else, it all wants to come out.


Desire, what is called desire, suffices to make life have no sense in playing a coward. And when the law is truly there, desire doesn't hold, but that's because the law and repressed desire are one and the same thing; this is even Freud's discovery. We score a point at halftime, professor.

-- Lacan, "Kant with Sade"

Equivocation of "coward" and "law." Would this be for or against Lacan? How is this equivocation Lacan? Does it locate the axis shift within him or does it shift him outside, across? For all his own understanding of equivocation, is it only circumstantial here that these statements concentrate this way, for the moment? He's following the figure he's set up, Kant's, of threatening a man with the gallows, and making a point that there would be a type -- Sade or Sadian (if not necessarily Sadistic) -- who would defy Kant. But in generalizing this principle, while we can see the point, or what he's laying out with the statement, about the compulsion to defy that desire itself is, would it not be the desire -- the same? -- that makes cowardice, that is the hollow or the other side of it? Similarly with the law, in the next sentence, there is the equivocation always with the law of the "categorical imperative," the Kantian sense of an "internal" or structural sense of moral imperative, and its psychoanalytic equivalent, but even this law also recognizes its counterpart as the external, artificial, overbearing that must be opposed, overcome.

The scheme of good and evil, its easy reduction, is always very easily given the slip, thwarted, kinked, made difficult, by the simple fact that what is opposed to desire is not some structural or abstract absolute, but something else that is also desire. Of course Lacan has said this if perhaps approaching from the other direction.


Next page. >

All content this page unless otherwise noted © 2016 Greg Macon