Archive for the ‘self’ Category

Nothing left to confess

June 30, 2008

Given the mass of evidence, there is no plausible hypothesis but reality. Baudrillard, The Perfect Crime

The following is a story about the change in the role of the Body in forming Identity, providing Privacy and knowing the Truth, from the Spanish Inquisition to Minority Report – two time-symbols of body-reference. This is also the story of a rare footnote – one that stands apart in a book that owns it: footnote#3, p. 170, in Paul Virilio’s Speed and Politics.

Paul Virilio

“In the Middle Ages, the question is put to a body under torture, one that “knows the truth” and must let it escape in spite of himself”.

The truth [of a person] is embedded in the body.

“In the 19th century, torture is abolished but not out of humanitarianism, but because they realized that any act (every human movement) leaves external traces, an involuntary stamp. From then on, they scientifically make proofs talk“.

The truth [of a person] is manifested in the body‘s deeds, an involuntary stamp.

“From identical sets of material proofs they could draw different coherent discourses, each canceling the other out, by simply changing the order of elements”.

You stay quiet, Mister, while these two gentlemen, the prosecutor and the defender, tell your story. We’ll see which version of the truth will win. Anyway, your story is no longer relevant.

“We could imagine that the gaps and hazards inherent in the ordering of materials should disappear, since with computers they could make the accusing discourse perfectly coherent”.

… and by that, removing any competing versions of Truth. With the amount of parallel, simultaneous reports about any given event, syndicated and correlated from a mass of individuals, Reality becomes a statistically unified version of truth, Reality, as told by the machine, or as Baudrillard [probably] calls it: the Automatic Writing of Reality.

“At that point, they could do totally without the confession of the accused, who would be less informed about his own crime than the computer, and who, no longer being the one who knows “the truth”, would have nothing left to confess”.

Once Reality is told by the machine (as it is the case in Minority Report), another step forward is taken: Truth is no longer built out of the Past, but is rather an illusion projected into the Future. The computer is using statistics to build patterns of possible behavior out of a single, and somehow correlated event. When that happens, it will suffice to think Murder to be immediately arrested by the Reality Police.

Given the mass of evidence to the contrary, there is no solution but illusion. Baudrillard, The Perfect Crime

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Maybe a Monad (Phaedrus by the river)

July 15, 2007

My Alter Ecko has recently published two posts around Phaedrus – this beautiful dialogue between Socrates and his beloved one, with the impeccable scenery of a mythological river, an oak and a rock, an idyllic setup for discours amoureux.

Yet, while tapping into the conversation between the two, I felt a growing uneasiness. Maybe it was the merciless manner by which Socrates slaughtered Lysias’ speech, unwrapping it from its content (utilitarian love), from its style (rhetoric), from its medium (written on scroll) and [implicitly] from its audience (the crowds), leaving nothing behind, not even some grains of Lysiasian ashes for a hasty funeral.

But most probably it was the erotic love praised by Socrates through never ending parabolas [although beautifully narrated: the black horse, the white horse etc.] that evoked my discontent. For through the mists of heavenly passions I saw a stream, an oak and a rock. By the stream sat Narcissus; by the rock stood Echo [I was hiding behind the oak]. Narcissus-Socrates was looking at Phaedrus, through the watery reflection, remembering the lost heavens of his fallen soul; and Phaedrus, standing by the rock, his heart engulfed with emotions, was watching the figure that was Socrates, seeing nothing but his own image, Phaedrus holding a scroll, echoed back onto his eyes, again and again and again and again.

Echo and Narcissus by Waterhouse

No, this was not a dream: I have it all well written.

The Lover is his mirror.

“And thus he [the beloved one] loves, but he knows not what; he does not understand and cannot explain his own state; he appears to have caught the infection of blindness from another; the lover is his mirror in whom he is beholding himself, but he is not aware of this”.

The Beloved is his clone.

The qualities of their god they attribute to the beloved, wherefore they love him all the more… wanting to make him as like as possible to their own god… for no feelings of envy or jealousy are entertained by them towards their beloved, but they do their utmost to create in him the greatest likeness of themselves and of the god whom they honour.

Oh boy! A mirror and a clone, a love for oaks and rocks.

I’m not sure about my above distribution of the Echo-Narcissus roles; I do feel, though, that this erotic love, although praising the other, is deeply ego-centric to the point that I am willing to concede that indeed each and every one of us is a self-contained monad, all the others being eventually nothing but reflections of one’s own self.

“When I become death” according to Levinas

July 3, 2007

Emmanuel Levinas’ La Mort et Le Temps (English translation in God, Death and Time) opens with a reading of Heidegger´s Sein und Zeit, a reading that evolves around the themes of the carnival, the essence of time, the nature of death, the type of questions to which answers are not the right answer, and finally – literature as a masking process (rather than a revealing one).

[But maybe I’m wrong. It could well be that Levinas says nothing of the above themes, and that it is my own philosophical delusions, the consequences of my posts here on Foucault, Lyotard, Barthes, Deleuze, and Burroughs.]

Emmanuel Levinas

The Carnival.

The carnival represents the absolute assimilation of a human being with the role assigned to him/her by the system. Yet by this assimilation the human being ceases to be a human being, for being a human is to continuously question “Being”, i.e. to be a critical being towards Being, constantly reassessing the possibilities of an always changing existence. This is when Levinas uses the term ek-sistence – existing from the outside (and it is also where the two reasons of the first Emmanuel – K. – are fully present).

The critical spectator stands behind the curtain, looking inside the theater, considering her options on stage. This cannot be done while on stage, while wearing the mask of the carnival.

And yet. “Behind the curtain there is nothing to see… nor beneath it”, says Deleuze, following Foucault. The critical being is therefore not to be imagined out of stage; s/he is not to be imagined as a passive spectator. Rather, the critical being is assimilated into the system’s role, while continuously challenging that role. Indeed, says Deleuze, behind the curtain there is nothing to see, “but it was all the more important each time to describe the curtain”. So we are in the carnival, but we don’t play wholeheartedly. We’re aware of the play, and we improvise whenever we see fit.

The Question.

The question of being is a question to which answers are not the right answer, the first trait of Being, being the mark of that Question. Barthes maintains that those questions of Being can only live within Literature, but he also maintains that Literature is a carnivalesque mask. The only way to cope with these contradictions is to follow Foucault’s advise: “We have to move beyond the outside-inside alternative; we have to be at the frontiers. Criticism indeed consists of analyzing and reflecting upon limits.” (What is Enlightenment).

Cain: marked by the Question of Abel’s death – a bookmark on Cain’s Time axis.

Time.

Time, explains Levinas, is the Other. The infinite time is the antipode of the finite human, the Other remaining necessarily out of our reach. Time, therefore, represents all possible Otherness.

Time is the Other. What a strange sentence. The Rhizome of the nomadic others is a Rhizome of Time Capsules.

Ich und Du.

The Other, through his facial movements conveys a message to the spectator, who is consequently responsible for processing the message, and of providing an answer. We can therefore say that Communication creates responsibility which, in turn, creates individuality: “I” is responsible for this and that person, because there are communication links between us.

We’ll see next that communication is a mask; like literature it does not reveal [things from behind the curtain], but rather conceals [the true essence of being]. Facial movements are answers. But Being is being a Question.

What does the nomadic Rhizome mask? What does Time mask? Is Time the Curtain?

As for Death.

When I become death

As for Death – death needs time for what it kills to grow in. Death needs the Other, just like “I” needs it. But why does Death need Time?

Think of Death as a bookmark, engraving a point on our time axis. This point, says Levinas, opens a gate to a communication-free world – the end of exchanging answers. Finally, we, the dead, can realize our human potential of being a pure question. The cover story of our life, the Literature told by our face, by our facial movements is finally completed. The End.

When we become death, death is the seed from which we grow – the seed of the pure Question.

Cut out the I, Man

May 7, 2007

Cut out the I, Man.

Click to see full size image

Man Ray’ story of the eye had two incarnations and three names: Object intended to be destroyed (1923); Object of destruction (1932); and Indestructible object (1957). The current story is different [as the unplanned typo in the full size  image suggests]; actually, I’m not even sure that it’s the same object.

Body/Language: Barthes-Foucault vs. Gater’s Taboo

April 16, 2007

Body/Language

Remixed by Methods & Black Squares 

 

Click to play:

[Barthes]
Parler, et à plus forte raison discourir, ce n’est pas communiquer, comme on le répète trop souvent, c’est assujettir.

[Foucault]
À ce lieu là, dès que j’ai les yeux ouverts, je ne peux plus échapper.

[Barthes]
La langue, comme performance de tous langages, n’est ni réactionnaire ni progressiste, elle est tout simplement fasciste.

[Gater]
We do it every weekend,
I like to do it with my friends
Sometimes we videotape it,
Then we watch it and do it again.

[Barthes]
Fasciste

Fasciste

Les signes n’existent que pour autant qu’ils sont reconnus, c’est-à-dire pour autant qu’ils se répètent.

Qu’ils se répètent.

[Foucault]
Mon corps topie impitoyable.

[Barthes]
Malheureusement le langage humain est sans extérieur, c’est un huis clos.

Répète!

[Gater]
Some people don’t understand what we do,
They say its Saturday they go to the club,
They say it’s no fun, but we don’t care,
We sit here and we do it.

We do it every weekend,
I like to do it with my friends,
Sometimes we videotape it,
Then we watch it and do it again.

[Barthes]
Répète!

En chaque signe dort ce monstre, un stéréotype. Je ne puis jamais parler qu’en ramassant, en quelque sorte, ce qui traîne dans la langue.

En chaque signe dort ce monstre, un stéréotype.

En chaque signe dort ce monstre, un stéréotype.

[Foucault]
Tous les matins, même présence, même blessure. Sous mes yeux se dessine une inévitable image qu’impose le miroir, visage maigre, épaules voûtées, regard myope, plus de cheveux, vraiment pas beau.

[Gater]
Some people don’t understand what we do…

[Barthes]
Répète!

[Foucault]
Mon corps c’est le lieu sans recours auquel je suis condamné.

[Barthes]
C’est un huis clos.

Fasciste.

[And see The Gaze of the Sign – a follow up on Gater’s role in this remix]

The DJ of the Self; The Genealogy of the Mashup

February 21, 2007

Michel Foucault sees all humans as a mashup of what has always existed, and the great human endeavor being the rediscovery, then the analysis of those tracks from which we have become the remix that we are. It’s only when one is in front of and confronted with those rediscovered tracks, that s/he can start being the DJ of his/her own Self. The praxis herewith described is called the Genealogy of the Mashup.

Mashed

Mashed is a mis en abîme, a recursion of mashups, an explicit work of Genealogy, presenting fourteen Vs. kind of tracks (The Doors vs. Blondie; Iggy Pop vs. Peggy Lee..).

The first layer in our genealogical process is that which we see first: “Mashed” the CD, and the assertion “This is a collection” which is an overt awareness to the impossibility of being original – content-wise; “these 14 tracks of which I am made of are not mine”, thus spoke the 1st layer.

The 2nd layer, any of the fourteen tracks, is again a special kind of a remix, i.e a remix with a sense of History, each track bearing a Vs. kind of title, explicitly stating its genealogy – “I consist of these two voices in the minute of their meeting”. And you can experience the magic of the remix, the phantasmagoric world of the unoriginal for yourself: you can hear The Doors – they are there, fully present, and you can hear Blondie, and you can hear a third voice, that omnipresent voice which reappears only in the minute of their meeting: the voice of the dead author.

Of course, nothing is sacred; from those rediscovered voices, only the poetic moments have been remixed into the 2nd layer, the meeting layer. And that’s the work each DJ should be doing on his/her self.

On the 3rd layer there’s this rediscovered, separated track, or the leftovers of what used to be a glamorous song by The Doors: Riders on the Storm. We know today that the genealogy goes further into the past, till the dawn of mankind. Riders on the Storm belongs to the history of implicit mashups. There’s a work of genealogy to do here too.

Mashups are poetics. If you need another proof, please help yourself with Cathrine Vs. ?.

deneuve70.jpg

Catherine Deneuve (Photograph by Douglas Kirkland)