Archive for the ‘author’ Category

The Illuminatus Trilogy: Notes For a Potential Reader

June 26, 2009

It’s been some days now, that I took the farewell from Stella Maris, Mavis, Lady “are you a turtle?” Velkor,  the midget, Hagbard Celine, Malaclypse and, the best of them all, Chips, and went on with my hempless routine. Departure wasn’t easy, for these people have made me really happy.

Never mind, their presence is everywhere:  the books I read, the movies I see, the Game, the media, mediums and the coincidences I’m part of – they are everywhere.

Destroy All Rational Thought

So what is The Illuminatus Trilogy?

Don’t believe a word from that book’s cover – it’s one big rubbish aimed to be “attractive” to some people, as this book is, in its essence, resistible to any categorization. It’s not a sci-fi book, and it’s not a “conspiracy” book, it’s simply an irrational book, which you will find clear and shiny as Lucily diamonds.

R.A.W and Shea rationally destroy all rational thought. Here are some notes on that remarkable process:

Space

“It’s like a split-screen movie, but split a thousand ways, and with a thousand soundtracks.”

This is how the Book describes itself, and indeed, that’s what you are about to experience.

Think of it this way: a film viewed through a thousand-squares’ monitor, like an eye of a fly, each square presenting part of the film. As this is a book, not a film, the way to achieve this sub-framing of narratives is via the Cut-Up Technique – that which Brion Gysin invented and Burroughs adopted.

So there’s a story, but it was cut into endless pieces, and the book is the pasting of them all, not in a rational-linear order, but rather in chaotic one. It takes time to get used to it, to tame our attention to those jumps in Space.

Time

“This tomorrowtodayyesterday time is beginning to get under my skin. It’s happening more and more often”

The Book’s Time’s a liquid, pouring in any direction. There’s no past, present, future in the sequencing of events; it’s the tomorrow-today-yesterday world.  So hold tight, for you are just about to begin a trip.

Personalities

The world of a Book: space, time, people.

Forget what you know about Personalities & Characters. Here, anyone is anyone. There are always more personalities in what is supposed to be a single character, and often characters are seeing the world through the heads of other characters. You will find no salvation in trying to nail your cognition to a single personality – they are all constantly shifting around.

The I

Oh, the I, the Narrator, the one in charge. Who’s, indeed, the one in charge here?! I wish I knew that answer. The I is nothing but an Illusion. Most of the time, if there’s a multiple-parties’ conversation, the I is allocated to the one who speaks currently. So you tap into that conversation where everybody’s  I. Fuck it, get loose, you got nothing to lose.

Fog

There is a thick fog of hemp’ smoke to the ceiling of the Book. This book is meant to be INHALED!

Surprise, Surprise!

And yet, it all makes sense and the reading streams smoothly, and it is funny and intriguing!

I seriously think it’s a mystery. Those guys, Shea & Wilson, have deciphered something about the human brain, i.e. that it can see clearly through Chaos! The Book itself is constantly smoking good, quality dope, so its Characters can clear their mind and open their eyes;  same effect is achieved for the Reader (800 pages of top quality hemp) – you’re tripping all the way to the end, and the trip is lucid and crystal-clear.

The Story

Like any great work of art, the medium & the message, the structure & the narrative,  are synchronized. So, similarly to the free structure, space, time,  the I and the Characters of the book, so is the story telling us about people breaking space, time, the I, and anything else of an ordinary order.

What a wonderful world is this Book.

Robert Shea & Robert Anton WilsonRobert Shea & Robert Anton Wilson

Einstürzende Neubauten – Stella Maris

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The Worst of Authors

July 12, 2007

“The worst of authors will say something which is to the point”. Socrates, Phaedrus

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And see also Words, jamais portés, as well as in the margins of philosophy here (comment#4).

The question, therefore, is not “What did the Author want to tell us?”, but rather “What did the Author want to hide from us?”

Trading Time in InterZone

June 23, 2007

 

You hit Interzone with that grey anonymously ill-intentioned look all writers have.

“You crazy or something walk around alone? Me good guide. What you want Meester?”

“Well uh, I would like to write a bestseller that would be a good book, a book about real people and places…”

The Guide stopped me. “That’s enough Mister. I don’t want to read your stinking book. That’s a job for the White Reader.” The guide’s face was a grey screen, hustler faces moved across it. “Your case is difficult frankly. If we put it through channels they will want a big piece in advance. Now I happen to know the best continuity man in the industry, only handles boys he likes. He’ll want a piece of you too but he’s willing to take it on spec.”

“The Name is Burroughs”, from The adding machine by WS Burroughs.

Burroughs, Interzone

The writer comes to Interzone looking for something that will help him create a world for his book, something that can be arranged by the Continuity Man. Interzone is not a normal place, and neither is that something wanted by the writer. Such deals smell Faust.

So what is it that the Continuity Man can offer?

Maybe it is this alien, yellowish parchment of continuous time on top of which the writer can engrave his space-less story?

In Condition for a postmodern Time travel I have offered an interpretation of a Lyotard’s paragraph, depicting stories as parallel worlds that have different time axis – not only because the story’s time does not correspond with our time axis, but also because it is architected differently, the time of the story being space-less and continuous, making the story incompatible with the process of memorization and accumulation [of facts], a feature that turns the story into a world whose relevance is always the pragmatic present.

[It’s strange how Lyotard can explain Burroughs’ Interzones and Continuity Men, and how all these posts eventually encounter each other…]

And see “When I become death” according to Levinas for more on Time.

The Metaphor of the Hidden Interlocutor

March 30, 2007

I’m always very happy with ecko4inc’s comments, as they form a very special continuation of a dialogue. By “very special” I mean that they cannot be seen as a common feedback in which the interlocutor feeds back her reactions or her anti-thesis or her bifurcated, parallel thesis (as it is too often the case) into the fireplace of the dialogue; rather ecko’s comments should be seen as a genre, having probably the margins of philosophy as its lieu of happening.

[ The margins of philosophy

Following my thoughts on the word “minor” – that word used by Kant to signify an immature human being not using his reason; that word used by Poe and {jump through hyperspace} Foucault to signify the only possible, or valuable, spatio-temporal frame of reference; that word practiced by Deleuze in his way of teaching the different philosophies, the different philosophers – I got an official feedback to the above minor associations by a Philosophy professor [Philosophy with a capital P], who laconically said that Derrida made a career out of analyzing footnotes (This Professor doesn’t like Derrida in particular and post-modernism in general, because, he says, they don’t offer any hope. Indeed, Deleuze and many others maintained that “there’s nothing behind the curtain”, if hope is to be associated with the discovery of a hidden reality. Surprisingly, this Professor, who dismisses Derrida for he brings no hope, happened to devote his entire life to Leibniz, being the first official “Leibniz Professor”. What puzzles me here is my intuitive association between “there’s nothing behind the curtain” and the Monadology – I don’t remember anything substantial behind the Monad’s curtain…)

]

So ecko4inc is not feeding back; ecko feeds on, feeds further. He joins the flow of thoughts, expressed in the post’s words and images, and uses them as ad-hoc rafts, on top of which he jumps and flows-on in that great {collective [but private (but collective)]} stream of consciousness, showing where else those ideas could have streamed, are streaming. I become a hidden interlocutor for ecko, my stream of consciousness finds itself included in his stream of consciousness in a most natural way, an echo for ecko, an echo for inclusion.

The only real thing is the interaction among people; all the rest is an illusion. Any monad includes and relates to all other monads – and this inclusion and that interaction is the only real thing in a monad’s life.

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Click the image to make a jump

Foucault’s Fault

March 27, 2007

I had a conversation recently with a sociology professor who doesn’t like Foucault. “Clearly”, claimed the professor, “Foucault was reusing Weber’s theories, to name just one evident theft, never mentioning Weber as a source, pretending to be original”.

This is a well-known accusation against Foucault: “C’est un simulateur qui ne peut s’appuyer sur aucun texte sacré, et qui ne cite guère les grands philosophes”, is among a long list of “Against Foucault” with which Deleuze opens his book “Foucault”.

Michel Foucault

Forget Foucault; let’s deal with the underlying question: does an Author have the right to keep his sources private?

Journalists, who see themselves obliged to reveal and tell the truth, fight for their right to keep their sources private. And philosophers – can they reveal the truth without disclosing their sources?

Since the Author is Dead (or rather, has been dead since the very beginning (or rather, has existed only as a fiction, as a function)), then why bother quoting at all? No one is the Author of an idea.

What about using known concepts – is that as good as quoting? In “Qu’est-ce que la philosophie?” Deleuze & Guattari describe philosophy as the art of creating concepts (“la philosophie est l’art de former, d’inventer, de fabriquer des concepts”), and that a philosopher is recognized by the concepts she has created. Indeed, philosophical concepts are easily exchangeable with the philosophers who coined them: Idea, Cogito, Monad, Noumenon, Dasein, and Rhizome easily resurrect their dead authors.

But don’t get confused by this romantic description of the philosophical work: if someone is recognized as a philosopher only by the new concepts that he has introduced into the philosophical discourse [D&G], and if new and original are nothing but an illusion [Barthes], then philosophy is not the art of creating concepts but rather the art of rebranding preexisting concepts. The philosopher doesn’t have much choice but to refurbish and rebrand old concepts and present them as original ones.

This is a tough situation: if you don’t quote you are accused of plagiarism and of the hubris of being original; if you quote (explicitly – by referring to philosophers; implicitly – by reusing known concepts) you’re accused of not being original, hence – not a philosopher. The game is, therefore, to quote all along your thesis until that point where you bring up your own rebranded (yet necessarily preexisting) concept – that which you present and pretend to be your own.

Foucault, probably, refused to play this political Homo Academicus game. After all, it is not the concept that matters, but rather how it is told, to whom, and when. Nevertheless, Foucault acknowledged the rules of the game by tagging his work Fiction. He embraced the position of an outsider, accepting being labeled as a non-philosopher, non-historian, non-sociologist. A Fiction writer is free from disclosing his sources; moreover, he is free to refer to any known figure while asserting a clear disconnect between the signifier and the signified, between the Kant in his story and the Kant we all know.

Textual Landing Fields – Edgar Allen’s PoeTic

February 14, 2007

I was happy and surprised to reread Poe’s The Poetic Principle, for I unexpectedly met there, right on the first page, some recently acquired friends, namely the 2nd and the 3rd, paragraphs.

Two paragraphs, 20 lines, that few words, and still – the impact is that of a tactical nuke.

Lyotard, Foucault, Derrida – to name just the recent French figures – were, I feel, regulars over this textual place. I’m talking about the revulsion of the epic, “the best epic under the sun, is a nullity: – and this is precisely the fact”, says Poe. But this concluding sentence does not, in any manner, preclude epic oeuvres. Rather, it’s the reader who should slice and dice the oeuvre: “Follow the Poetic Principle”.

The reader may rely on the author’s suggested division – like chapters, numbering, or any other structural indices (starting, as Poe suggests, from Paradise Lost Book II); or the author’s thematic division – here I am reading Foucault, who is always suggesting several possible starting points to his essays (at least those I’ve read) by constructing as many in-world landing fields (“Wait… wait! Time, a landing field”, but that’s another borrowed poem already).

“Minor Poems”: If there’s something I’ve noticed, although Tabula Rasa, while reading Foucault, is his lovely insistence on adding the minor tag to almost everything. A precaution, I thought; a necessity, I reckon now. So when Foucault starts his formidable lecture of Kant’s Was ist Aufklärung by stating “a minor text, perhaps” [3rd paragraph…] – well, that’s a great sign of admiration and respect.

I’ll make it short, than:

Lyotard: my previous post on Lyotard’s modern/post-modern should be placed in a dialogue with PoeTic.

Foucault: finding the PoeTic principle in the epic which is our life is what makes a human a human. (and see Foucault’s “What is Enlightenment?”)

And finally – blogging – the author deconstructs his own epic.

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The Death of the Author; the Birth of the Voice

February 10, 2007

In my post DJ Spooky’s Remix Simulacrum I questioned the concept of an “authentic voice” in general, and the concept of a “remix” in particular:

“Given that the human history of ideas, progress, art, etc. is the history of remix, i.e. the unexpected association of different, seemingly unrelated memes, should “remix” be classified as an authentic voice or an unauthentic one?”

That post ended with only questions. I might have now a sort of an answer, which will be based on literary criticism, specifically on Roland Barthes “The Death of the Author”, as well as on our memory, or rather on our capacity to… forget.

In “The Death of the Author” (1967) Barthes states that “the writer can only imitate a gesture forever anterior, never original”. Any text, therefore, be it an “original” or a “remix” is deemed to be the reincarnation of older texts. Let’s forget, than, the illusion of authenticity [, or of truth, or of reality etc.] – there’s no such thing.

Here’s an excerpt from Barthes:

“We know that a text does not consist of a line of words, releasing a single “theological” meaning (the “message” of the Author-God), but is a space of many dimensions, in which are wedded and contested various kinds of writing, no one of which is original: the text is a tissue of citations, resulting from the thousand sources of culture. Like Bouvard and Pecuchet, those eternal copyists, both sublime and comical and whose profound absurdity precisely designates the truth of writing, the writer can only imitate a gesture forever anterior, never original”.

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Yet I’d like to suggest a distinction between the authenticity of the text and the authenticity of the voice (leaving aside concepts of author, writer, speaker etc.). Indeed, the text is essentially unauthentic; the author is being dead, and the reader is, righteously, the new meaning-provider. Yet from all this destruction, I think that something new is born: the voice.

The Voice

Barthes continues the above quoted text with what can be understood as a minor observation on his part, but a one that I think is key to understanding the essence and the role of the authentic voice – that which tells an essentially unauthentic story:

“his [the writer, the dead author, the layman speaker] only power is to combine the different kinds of writing, to oppose some by others, so as never to sustain himself by just one of them”.

I’d like to interpret this last sentence as suggesting that authentic voices are those associating old texts in a certain way in a certain time for a certain society. And even if the last sentence from Barthes doesn’t say that, I’d still like to stick to this idea, and to maintain that this role of the authentic voice is of an extreme importance.

The authentic voice is that which reminds us of old, forgotten texts. What I’ll say now is not original, but it’s important: the past contains many answers for us, mostly in the form of unanswered questions (yes, I noticed the paradox). Faulkner has this saying that the past is never dead and that it is not even past. This insight, I think, is critical for our survival, for our progress. The right old question [or text in its broadest meaning] brought up in the right moment in the right context can change things. What Barthes cannot take from the dead author is his choice of the texts and of the moment and context of their reincarnation.

In other words, the role of the authentic voice is to bring up, to remind, in a certain point in time, some old texts so that the “reader” will start his/her process of creating meaning – actual, relevant meaning – around them. The authentic voice is the catalyst, the trigger of the whole process.

Remember (for future use): a society that cannot forget is a society that cannot remember.