This essay solves the paradox of desire, in a definitive way, that to my knowledge has not been done before.
Using a thoroughgoing application of Buddhist logic and its technique of negation, implicit in Buddhist apoha linguistics, a logical solution is achieved, avoiding both the unnecessary and strained mystifications of prior academic treatments, as well as the prevailing and dominant, positivist and substantialist metaphysical habits, that continue to afflict contemporary culture and thought in detrimental ways.
The essay proves the inadequacy of such detrimental positivity.
It’s possible to ‘rationalise’, anything at all; it’s possible to ‘naturalise’, anything at all.
For instance, from certain kinds of naturalising perspectives, the notion of ‘reasoned debate’ would merely be the result of processes of natural determination, an instance of those processes, not really any different to them. Therefore, you can use metaphoric transposition and see everything as constituted by ‘reasoned debate’. Therefore, elephant culture and ways, are susceptible to being represented as a set of ‘reasoned debates’.
Whatever it is that you think the masses should be convinced of, you evidently think that, on the basis of assuming some kind of epistemological discrepancy, regarding some form of rational consideration. That the behaviour of large groups of people is in some way deficient with respect to the results of that form of rational consideration. But we know that statistically both large groups of people and elephants do actually follow characteristic logics of behaviour that are susceptible to explanations of rational analysis. The problem is that statistical representations of behaviour, are only that, behavioural representations or samplings that do not represent the holistic possibilities of each and every individual organism. They are reductions to behavioural images.
People’s behaviour, whether elephants or whatever else, is merely what they do given various contexts, it’s not at all a full explanation of their possibilities.
None of us would want to be reduced to impoverished statistical representations of our everyday behaviour, but each of us do actually produce such behaviour. I’m drinking Nescafe, but drinking Nescafe is not a sufficient representation of everything else I do, or of my possibilities, one of which could be that I change my beverage habits.
From the perspective of a wine seller or grocer, Jesus Christ is just another customer.
People who chase the notion of relatively unspecified optimisation based only on their own interpretations of self-perceived inadequacy or limitation merely project the inverse image of their inadequacy as an assumed and unanalysed teleology, circling within the assumed epistemological limits of that economics of inadequacy. People like Nick Land, for instance.
The colloquial expression is that of being ‘better off’, in some way. I’ve referred to that with the ironic figure, of the god, ‘BetterOff’, on my blog.
But notions of optimisation are contingent on criteria of characterisation. Reactionary philosophy and ideology is kind of like ‘bubblegum pop music’, as it used to be called. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, necessarily. But there is when it’s promotion is totalitarian.
That point was implicit, “Whatever it is that you think the masses should be convinced of, you evidently think that, on the basis of assuming some kind of epistemological discrepancy, regarding some form of rational consideration”
And “That the behaviour of large groups of people is in some way deficient with respect to the results of that form of rational consideration.”
Epistemological discrepancy, or deficiency with respect to assumptions of rational consideration = “that the primary methods of population manipulation are premised incorrectly and therefore inappropriate”
Population manipulation, occurs according to a feedback loop with population behaviour. That feedback loop uses managerial or administrative, statistical instruments and interpretations, what I have called ‘sparkline hieroglyphics’.
Of course, it’s always going to be premised incorrectly, if statistical administration is too simplistic to account for individually organic epistemology.
So now that point has been clarified, there is no excuse to suppress elephantine consideration, the relevance of which has been demonstrated, and is central to the topic being discussed. It was after all a consideration that you introduced. If you dismiss it as mere metaphorical exploitation, relegating it to some subsidiary and irrelevant role with regard to some kind of serious thesis, this relegation is then susceptible to questioning. It’s not just the usual and facile deconstructive reversal. It goes much deeper than that. Elephantine dignity, which you so casually exploited the possible, magnitudinal convention and linguistic ornamentality, of; is now the symbolic bearer of all forces and conditions that the structure of your thetic assumption might neglect. It is precisely because of this possible neglect, that it is of interest as being a possible repository of solutions and understandings, if and when the economics and resources of your thetic assumption might prove inadequate or irresolvable. In short, the answer often resides within that which is neglected by the well worn, trends and conventions, of ‘reasoned debate’.
If that were not so, why do issues continue, when there has been so much ‘reasoned debate’?
The elephant could well be the new premise required!
This is not to say that a new, elephantine fixation, should be introduced. That elephant ontology should somehow form the basis of fresh, tyrannical conventions. That the elephantine should be exploited by the usual narratives of historical commodification, rising and falling according to the same psychosocial dialectics of glorification. This would only produce future scenarios of elephantine resentment at being so exploited by world-historical industry.
It is not inconceivable that such a future elephantine resentment would not give rise to at least one or two surfaces of paranoid conspiracy, of epistemology gone wild; even if, as only some kind of ironic referral to the characteristics of humanoid epistemology.
It is thus possible that a future CEO of the Disney Corporation, might be an elephant. One calling herself or himself, ‘Dumbo’. From such a position of cultural power, Dumbo the elephant, might well see itself as a representative of elephantine interests, in general; not only those interests, but certainly as a representative not neglecting such interests.
It is easy to forecast that one of the documents belonging to the cultural surface of future, elephantine, paranoid conspiracy, might focus on Michel Foucault’s famous quote concerning, ‘The End of Man’. From the perspective of that elephantine suspicion, Foucault’s quote might well be seen as a veiled attack on the elephantine, in general. That Michel Foucault was a humanoid, who might well have produced casual statements about the elephantine, elsewhere, in his writings and recordings; statements interpretable as derogatory from an elephantine perspective.
These would, of course, be susceptible to collection by future elephant scholars, such collection suggesting semantic arcs of interpretation susceptible to readings of characteristic, humanoid conspiracy, and thus utilisable as referral of elephantine irony.
Thus, the elephantine would enable a certain kind of esoteric reading, an elephantine esoterica, which would reveal itself through various reinterpretations, perhaps even of Michel Foucault’s famous quote?
“VI IN CONCLUSION
One thing in any case is certain: the Elephant is neither the oldest nor the most constant problem that has been posed for Man’s knowledge. Taking a relatively short chronological sample within a restricted geographical area – European culture since the sixteenth century – one can be certain that the Elephant is a recent invention within it. It is not around him and his secrets that knowledge prowled for so long in the darkness. In fact, among all the mutations that have affected the knowledge of things and their order, the knowledge of identities, differences, characters, equivalences, words – in short, in the midst of all the episodes of that profound history of the Same – only one, that which began a century and a half ago and is now perhaps drawing to a close, has made it possible for the figure of the Elephant to appear. And that appearance was not the liberation of an old anxiety, the transition into luminous consciousness of an age-old concern, the entry into objectivity of something that had long remained trapped within beliefs and philosophies: it was the effect of a change in the fundamental arrangements of knowledge. As the archaeology of our thought easily shows, the Elephant is an invention of recent date. And one perhaps nearing its end.
If those arrangements were to disappear as they appeared, if some event of which we can at the moment do no more than sense the possibility – without knowing either what its form will be or what it promises – were to cause them to crumble, as the ground of Classical thought did, at the end of the eighteenth century, then one can certainly wager that the Elephant would be erased, like a face drawn in sand at the edge of the sea.”
(Elephantine Esoterica, Proceedings VII, rectificatory reading of “The Order of Things”, Michel Foucault; 1966)
This kind of document is not merely a possibility, but given technological trends, is a certainty, and rightfully so, given the history of symbolic exploitation of the elephantine. One notices that the retention of ‘Man’s knowledge’, in the first line, is the instrument by which the conspiracy effect of Man as manipulator of elephantine innocence, is produced.
“I now feel it might be worth expressing those possibilities that are other than ‘received understandings’; perhaps other than the language of conventional ‘positions’ which have thus far constituted the manifest contentions of sociopolitical scenography. If only to register the fulfilment of any ‘social responsibility’ that subscribers of the partisan are wont to demand.
(“Towards A Critique of NewColonial Manifestation – Introduction” by Artxell Knaphni – Sunday, December 09, 2012 http://visionfiction.theotechne.com/WordPress/?page_id=238)
“”Necessity”, they say, “is the mother of invention”, but is it the mother of fresh understandings beyond the novel technical object, and its secret demands on thought? Or does only an empty and contextless rush of expediency prevail, its animating logics forgotten, in a ‘stampediency’ driven by dreams of unlimited convenience?
The easy and unquestioned transactions of ‘Necessity’ have often been the pretext for countless structures of social and political coercion, all of which have their alibi in various images of ‘Necessity’. ‘Vested interests’ use the opportunistic proximities of power to enable disingenuous constructions of administrative necessity favouring only themselves. The desire to secure such convenient forms of distribution, as it were, exercises considerable ideological constraint on the general culture, on its interpretations, practices and world-views. Management of reaction to these constraints is easily achieved through tactical delimitation, around intuitive, issue-based polarities.”
(“Aeolian Inquiry: Quest(ion)s of the Whirlwind” by Artxell Knaphni – Thursday, July 16, 2015 http://visionfiction.theotechne.com/WordPress/?p=844)
“The ideology of war, what I seem to be calling the ‘philosophy of coercion’, is not merely limited to the battlefield, but is quite possibly constitutive of the ‘human’ imaginary, the ‘human’ self-image. This constitution is constructed and maintained. And it is a cultural administration that so perpetually constructs and engages in such incessant maintenance.”
(“Culture and Coercion 1” by Artxell Knaphni – Saturday, December 29, 2012 http://visionfiction.theotechne.com/WordPress/?p=555)
“If it is a development of the sovereign state, then it has to be considered as the product of warfare. Whether its constituents were commandeered through explicit conquests, or rallied to the banner of a prevailing force that could provide protection, the underlying impetus would’ve been the threat of war, and perhaps internal disorder.
And it is this culture, of destructive contentions, that I am calling ‘coercion’.
And, arguably, this ‘coercion’ permeates all modern cultures, nationalistic or otherwise, all the time.”
(“Culture and Coercion 3” by Artxell Knaphni – Thursday, January 03, 2013 http://visionfiction.theotechne.com/WordPress/?p=566)
“This statement reflects a certain type of individual. An individual with cultural kapital sufficient to exceed having to fall back on mere national privilege. And, wherever national privilege exists, it is often as a result of geopolitical coercion.”
(“Culture and Coercion 3” by Artxell Knaphni – Thursday, January 03, 2013 http://visionfiction.theotechne.com/WordPress/?p=566)
“For me, the notion of ‘Reality’ has always been an ‘idealisation’, & it has never only been singular, except as the consensual mirage of unity that various thinkings celebrate, through various monistic apprehensions. But notice, a ‘mirage’ is nevertheless an event, a constrained ‘effect’, a necessary structural moment. One can reduce it to various forms of supervenience, using empirical, theoretical, aesthetic vocabularies; but these differential positionings, too, are supervenient ‘metaphysical’ operations, always issuing from some cave of conceptual enclosure, as it were; the slums of imagined ‘sureness’ constituting ‘Knowledge’ with a big ‘K’; which invariably turn out to be yet another consensual coercion, another do-be-us invitation to inhabit the same set of theoretical limitations; limitations constituting yet another mechanism, another production line, of dogma production; of fetishised conceptual circulations forever in search of (an) ultimate expediency.”
(“Phil Zero So Fee: The Real, I Deal, is So Free!” by Artxell Knaphni – Saturday, April 25, 2015 http://visionfiction.theotechne.com/WordPress/?p=804)
“All its existential references have turned into calculable, Cartesian points, any self it might produce would only be an empty, gratuitous, combinatorial gesture. The tools through which it continues to manipulate others have ironised its very essence. The astringent demands with which it castigates others, the corollary of its mentality of ‘dogmatic expression’, exclude it from the holistic and unquantifiable mysteries that could lead to creative regeneration. Circulating within its economics of banal certitude, it has become a global network of infernal necessities, a generalised coercion, a colonisation of ever increasing intensity.”
(“Responses 2” by Artxell Knaphni – Tuesday, December 11, 2012 http://visionfiction.theotechne.com/WordPress/?p=269)
“Philosophers are coerced into producing vast amounts of rubbish, & then fall into infighting over its dubious merits. (innocuous noises concerning clarity & obscurity are a big favourite). The coercion is towards quantity, not quality. It isn’t possible to do anything worthwhile under the duress of such a ‘professional’ demand. So most fall into the silent agreement of pretending that the copious trivia of their output is ‘philosophical work’.
Unable to let go of a ‘career’ already invested in, grumbling sets in. In danger of disappearing in the deluge of their own output, desperate overtures are made to other disciplines, or public life, seeking a spurious relevance. But secretly, they are looking for shelter from the self-imposed, Tantalean tasks of turgidity they erroneously imagine are necessary in attaining the brilliance they covet as a corollary of career advancement.”
(“The Anxious Superpositions of Wisdom, When Philosophy Is Quantified” by Artxell Knaphni – Monday, June 29, 2015 http://visionfiction.theotechne.com/WordPress/?p=835)
Around 6 years ago, I coined the word, ‘Coercivics’, as a guiding concept of civilisational analysis critiquing forms of sociopolitical implementation and practice. Wishing to avoid any developments according to stereotypical routes of programmatic manifesto, as it were, I didn’t bother introducing the neologism, though it has informed everything I’ve written, that might in any way be considered to bear some kind of sociopolitical relevance. The avoidance of use was not only due to the somewhat tactical refusal to engage in traditional obligations of position, whether political or otherwise, but more largely was informed by the logic of an emergence in which theoretical patience has value, in itself.
Coercivics is not just politics or political theory.
Coercivics, then, is not just “an arc of political speculation”, even though it might trace such arcs. Given that I’ve written, elsewhere on this blog, that ‘politics is over’, in the sense of traditional political systems and institutions having become obsolescent, to varying degrees; Coercivics is not to be determined by the perspectives of such obsolescence, but it occurs precisely at the borders of this transition, accounting for that conditioned movement, using resources that do not necessarily belong to that movement or its ostensible conditions.
Coercivics seeks to understand all socio-ideological movements that might be in play, producing assessments as to whether or not those movements produce coercion; to what degrees they produce unnecessary or unjustifiable coercion; from whose perspectives they produce coercion; and why they produce coercion?
The question asking, ‘why the production of coercion’, is of course eminently susceptible to ideological production of genealogical explanation. Coercivics is the radical investigation of those ideological presuppositions, of their genealogical constitutions and productions, but not necessarily from the usual, habitual perspectives, used in such considerations.
Nostalgias are not neglected; mnemonics, after all, are constitutive of civilisational form; but ‘reactions’ are critiqued and rejected, given their often contemporary emergences as stereotypical exemplifications of the coercivical.
Any political system can work, if it’s implementations are competent; no political system can work, if it’s implementations are incompetent or sabotaged.
The key issue is not the system, political systems are only systems of distribution, decisional frameworks concerning how distribution is to occur. Alongside systems of political or governmental distribution, marketing systems of distribution have developed in so-called, private and commercial sectors. These marketing systems cater for libidinal economy, for movements of consumer desire. It’s not at all a contentious thing to say that the ethos of consumer desire has become the hegemonic rationale of all political systems, of political systematicity, itself.
Back in 2000, at Cafe Italia, opposite Ronnie Scott’s Jazz club, I had a conversation with a Latin (Spanish or Italian?), young man, probably a university student, possibly working in computing. He spoke about how marketing was now central in philosophy, politics, and world affairs. The initial context had probably been philosophy or theory, not politics or marketing. So the sudden preoccupation with politics and marketing was a bit unexpected.
Given the events of the last 19 years, it looks as though the young student’s prognosis was valid. More valid than I suspected, at the time. Not that I necessarily disagreed with whatever was said, but the mechanisms he described, were only supervenient mechanisms of more arcane, historic-philosophical and cultural shifts, which those mechanisms might well be a reaction against.
Consumerism and its market articulations have been the dominant figure in transitioning between different models of selfhood.
Though there are considerable, contemporary reactionary nostalgias, for earlier modes of social configuration that sustained earlier models of selfhood, the New Conditions, in play, provision superconductive, communicatory surfaces, permitting only the velocities of sociopsychological, hysteria and stasis, not so much, anything else. Network nodalisation seems to preclude the development of any other socialisation.
Given that the dominant figure of social organisation is consumerism; given the oneiric and libidinal casts of such consumerism; given the ongoing collapse of institutional and social structures, their sensory and spatiotemporal characteristics, into a generalised, informational flow; the scenario of possibility is now so open to reconfiguration that it quite possibly exceeds any notion of reconfiguration, altogether.
No doubt the mnemonic militancy of simplistic, nostalgias of reconfiguration, are going to continue to echo through the New Conditions, as Doppler effects of stellar iniquity, from this or that history attempting its own achievement. But those constellations of resource concentration have transitioned into a different kind of cosmos, one in which even the expectation of historical entropy, no longer holds sway.
No cyclical comforts of pessimism-laden, Spenglerian prophecy; no ‘patchwork quilt’ as themepark and global safety net, of geopolitical amusement and its epistemology.
The New Conditions are such that even nostalgic attributions of ‘fragmentation’ are irrelevant.
Everyone knows this, of course, without knowing it. That is why they are so frenetically busy trying to sustain the worlds with which they were programmed, by arguing, disputing, and mutually destroying the features of those imagined worlds, as if such extreme contentions somehow confer ontological stability.
It doesn’t, it’s a symptom of precisely the ontological instability, feared.
Pandora’s box has been opened, some time ago.
If ‘metaphysical structuring’ consists of ‘metaphysical hypostases as assumptions of cultural injunction and coding of social instruction’, whether or not, those assumptions are explicitly known or implicit, this is merely the observation of possibilities of fresh, theoretical application. Testing out different grids of theoretical extrapolation that are extensions of sets of principles, whether conventional ones driven into new territory, or fresh ones as yet unconventionalised, to see what they say.
The situating and privileging of a Trumpian figure of response that is untutored by teleprompting, is a figure staging the productions of an alleged, psychic interiority, as a type of authenticity. That type of authenticity of psychic interiority would be one which contrasts a structure of psychic immanence, as an allegedly unmediated, metaphysical hypostasis, with the structure of remote, cybernetic instructions, suggested by ‘teleprompting’ – ‘tele-‘, being distance, remoteness.
So, the figure of teleprompting, suggests the remoteness of network distribution exceeding structures of conventional, psychic reception, the teleprompter user thus represents as a node of such remoteness. The average voter without socially significant, powers of distribution, for whom such networks are experienced passively, and not personally, in ways that are sufficiently, individually satisfying, would tend to have increased alienation from such networks of remoteness, distrusting their excessive remoteness from the concerns of personal relevance.
What is at stake is not the quality of Trumpian, psychic interiority, but rather the psychic interiority of USA American selfhood, itself. That psychic interiority, what Christopher Lasch called, ‘The Culture of Narcissism’, in the 1970s, has been configured for over a century by remote forces of market or marketing culture, to the extent, that US American selfhood is difficult to distinguish from the market forces sustaining it. When everything has been commodified, it is difficult to find authenticity beyond commodity. The commodity gaze is always in operation, it seems.
Thus, the last site where alleged authenticity of psychic interiority can take a stand, is in the caprice of the consumer, the consumer being the highest aspiration of marketing activity. Marketing always attempts to coincide with the identity of the consumer.
The fact that Trump doesn’t need a teleprompter, to represent the psychic figure of consumption or the consumer, is a key, marketing achievement. Because the consumer doesn’t need a teleprompter; the consumer isn’t trying to sell anything. The consumer is a buyer.
By representing himself as the ultimate consumer; by incessantly reminding the public of his alleged wealth, giving him full access to the range of consumption; Trump represents himself as a ‘winner’ in the consumption game, with no personal stake in political change, beyond the alleged authenticity of a psychic interiority of self, that could choose political disinterest, if it so desired.
By repeating populist grumblings with no consideration for other kinds of cultural or political etiquettes, Trump can represent the grumbling and dissatisfied, populist consumer, thus taking away the pressure of tacit, social injunction, such removal of social pressure being representable as a kind of liberation, as well. It’s populist, political psychotherapy.
The fragmented opinionation of Trump’s incessant tweeting, is another strategy of reaffirming populist identity. That Trump repeats what his share of the US electorate say, reaffirms their identity, as well as confirming his representation of them. He is teleprompted by them, not by any other form of remoteness that doesn’t coincide with their own vacillations. It doesn’t matter to them, that Trump changes his output, according to their own changes. It doesn’t matter that the mechanics of repetition is a background construction or staging. None of that matters, as long as the circuit of repetition is constant. Because that circuit is a cybernetic circuit, the echoing of the Trump electorate, for which Trump chooses to play the mimetic puppet.
That Trump might be personally profiting from the various events, merely confirms his authenticity for his supporters, because the figure of personal profit is an accepted link to concerns of individuation, that are foundational in circuits of alleged authenticity belonging to the figure of psychic interiority, as it occurs in the base model of US American selfhood, as imported from the inculcations of Calvinist and Protestant, northern European, socio-economic systems.
It’s a development in line with US production of its own dream. It’s a movement in general, oneiric economy.
It’s a nostalgic movement in new conditions, new conditions showing the old conditions of baseline brutality of exploitation for what they were and are. The nostalgia of old conditions is engaged in multiple vectors, of denial; of revision; of affirmation and justification; of the production of a chaotic confusion in order to justify brutality of exploitation. All of those vectors are the result of contained, social contradictions, emerging out of their prior structures of arrangement, into the dreamspace of uncontained, electronic communication. If newspapers, radio, film and television, constituted prior networks of social containment, obviously those networks and their containments are no longer going to be able to function in the same way, given new conditions where all of those technological mediations have been rolled into one, through the Internet, and broadcast ability attainable by all, in possession of a network device.
All of this is just standard, techno-theory, even media theory.
More interesting, then these kinds of standard, ‘techno-sociology’, as it were, are the longer lines of development, in play. Those which are not so much the concern of standard models of self-interest, at least they are not discussed within the circuits of concern belonging to such models. Or if they are, they are discussed only according to habitual, metaphysical inflections, often constituting serious distortion of what is at play. That’s understandable, given that such developments seem to be even more remote from those circuits of self-concern, than those they currently seem to be rejecting, which ironically enough, they are simultaneously producing, as well.
This mutual rejection and production, though, occurs within their own dramatis personae, within the highly conditioned, theatrics of psychic interiority, within Christopher Lasch’s narcissistic economy. All of these constitute the hypostatic, staging principles, of the collective, US dream; it’s a ‘socialism of the unconscious’ which they are continuously projecting as a reverse gesture of an ostensible, ‘individualism’, whose ideal conditions, as set in their own minds, they are unable to fulfil.
This sets up the oscillating contradictions between images of ‘self-reliance’; ‘duty’, ‘obligation’, ‘responsibility’; and ‘care’ or ‘carelessness’. In an increasingly interconnected scenario, the clarity of such images is increasingly difficult to achieve, according to prior structures of social arrangement and containment. Given market conditions, of commodity environment and the sensorium of commercial transaction that it constitutes; and given current events reporting based on fragmentary fluctuations of those market conditions; individualised, informational relevance, becomes increasingly difficult to achieve, at least in a way that might present unproblematically, in socio-economic and cultural terms.
For those inculcated with the figure of psychic interiority, as occurring in the base model of US American selfhood, the new conditions of interconnection threaten the old images of self-individualism, in multiple ways and along multiple vectors. That those new conditions of interconnection have been driven by their own desires is an irony which they seem unable to acknowledge. Consumer expectation and demand is not usually associated with any kind of ironic appraisal concerning itself.
The consumer wants what it wants and doesn’t really want to think about the consequences of that desire. If it doesn’t get what it wants, then resentment comes into play.
What the US consumer really wants, is an environment totally in accord with its own desire, attentive to its every need. This is an attitude that has been deliberately inculcated by decades and decades of market conditioning. The desire is not only for commodities, but for cultural attention, as well. In fact, the desire is for absolute, self-cultural celebration, to increasingly hysterical levels, in order to satisfy or satiate the market-implemented, structure of narcissistic expectation, that is at work.
This desire for absolute, cultural attention, is at odds with global interconnection, hence, all the culture wars and the resentment against any academia not giving such attention.
By creating domestic discord and division, cultural attention is being sought, which is being received, thus satisfying to some degree the logic of narcissistic expectation that seems to be at work. Socio-economic problems and poverty exacerbate this need for cultural attention.
Really, it’s a desire for cultural recognition by a culture that has grown bored with itself and wishes to reinhabit the nostalgia, the horrors, challenges, and imaged successes, of its own development, by which it entertains itself and continues to give itself meaning. It’s a desire that wishes to continue looking into a mirror that it has distorted, in advance, and wishes everyone else to look into, as well. But it’s a desire doesn’t really seem to be interested in understanding, either itself, or anyone else. That is because it’s a desire that no longer knows how to understand, it has lost itself along the linearity of its own trajectory.
A quick note for those who might be interested.
I wrote this recently – “The notion of the infinite is contingent on notions of finitude. If notions of finitude are empty, so are notions of the infinite.”
That was within a Buddhist context concerning emptiness.
Classically speaking, the notion of the finite and the notion of the infinite are complicit conceptions.
Finite means, defining; definite; finished. Infinite means, not finite.
So of course both words have each a range of meanings which are not necessarily strictly synonymous, but those meanings are connected and have a logic.
Obviously, finite and infinite are inverses of each other, but it’s probably important to keep track of whatever specific inversions are in play with respect to specific notions of the finite, and their corollary, specific inversions of the infinite.
How this is useful, is where notions of the infinite do indeed rest on specific characterisations. They are infinite with respect to some specific quality, substance, tendency, extent, et cetera. Those specificities are finite structures, that is to say, defined or ‘finished’ structures, structures of the finite which are then opened up to various modes of infinity procedures or infinitisations, whether it be endless recursion of, or just endless extent of, whatever specific, finite structuring, is being addressed.
The important thing to remember is the specific complicity between the two concepts.
In Baudrillard’s ‘desert of the real’, what we see is a continuous and repetitive caravanserai of conventions, hosting discussions of imaginary universes; reality constructions; epistemology engineerings; the busy building sites of objective fabrication and purpose, based on assumptions of realitease proving ever elusive.
Universalism requires a universe; a universe is a conceptual construction, therefore, a worldview; therefore, a convention; therefore, in Nagarjuna’s language, a conventional truth.
Schopenhauer seems to understand this –
[Schopenhauer]: “On the contrary, we freely acknowledge that what remains after the complete abolition of the will is, for all who are still full of the will, assuredly nothing. But also conversely, to those in whom the will has turned and denied itself, this very real world of ours with all its suns and galaxies, is – nothing.
This “nothing,” however, “is also the Prajna¬Paramita of the Buddhists, the ‘beyond all knowledge,’ in other words, the point where subject and object no longer exist.” (WWR, pp 411¬12)
Schopenhauer renders the ‘universe’, conceptual complex of ‘real-world’, contingent on the principle of ‘will’. The principle of ‘will’, would essentially be a certain kind of motivic cartography of becoming; the application of theoretical grids, as extensions, based on the presupposition of observed and experienced interactions (‘stimulus-response’; ’cause-effect’; structural concordances of the preceding; et cetera).
The cartography of becoming is inherently based on assumptions of conventional objectification.
An assumption of conventional objectification requires an accounting of its limits; its nature; its properties, if any.
For a conventional objectification to be a ‘real’ object, the requirement is that ‘it’ be identical with ‘itself’; ‘self-existent’; not contingent on anything else.
If it is so contingent, then it is a contingent ‘effect’, with its ‘reality’ being deferred onto ‘it’s’ lines of allegedly constituting contingency.
Those lines of constituting contingency are then subject to searches for this deferred ‘reality’.
Those searches for deferred reality usually proceed according to objective assumptions of origin or origination; whether, temporal closures of precedence, the origin of ‘beginnings in time’; or, structural closures of completeness, the economics of totality, the lines of constituting contingency circling back on themselves in an ecstasy of self-emergence, a structural festival of self-identity.
All of these searches for a point of origin, however characterised, objectify that point of origin in different ways according to their respective modes of characterisation. Whether the point of origin is a temporal initiation or structural concordance of completion, objective closure is the imaginary at work.
But the very imagination of objective closure, the very delimitation that announces that closure in order to constitute the objective reality being sought, necessarily has to exceed in some way the delimitation it produces, for the objective reality produced, to actually be ‘objective’. But if the conditions of delimitation exceed the objective reality produced, that objective reality cannot be complete, because it is the production of structural conditions that it does not include. If it does include them, then it can no longer be ‘objective’, because there is nothing left to determine, delimit, or declare, its objectivity.
This is the fundamental aporia at the basis of the search for any ‘objective reality’.
Physical sciences are essentially searches for structural conditions of observable energy forms, according to economic models of completeness. It’s noticeable how traditional conceptions of the universe object as complete totality, get multiplied as ‘alternate universes’; ‘multiversal instances’; et cetera.
This multiplication occurs due to fluctuations of the epistemology of observability with regard to inadequate hypotheses of objective completeness.
Scientific notions of observable completeness, based on structures of reception delimited according to repeatability and structures of proof, are constrained to filter according to those factors, bringing into relief the very standards those factors presuppose, whilst necessarily excluding anomalous outliers that they don’t. This is a standardising filtration according to the dialectics of observable repetition.
Its epistemological range is determined by the notion of universal, consensual access. It is a kind of empirical and epistemological democracy, based on the principle of an observability equally accessible to all who engage in its procedures.
It is this epistemology of observability, as configured by scientific consensus, that produces fluctuating ‘worldviews’, both, when it encounters the epistemology of various other kinds of cultural convention, and in accord with its own fluctuation.
However, the epistemology of observable completeness is not necessarily the epistemology of objective completeness. It is the zone of discrepancy between those two forms of epistemology within which scientific and cultural activity circle. That circling consists of observational convenience forever searching for both objective reality and objective totality, or completeness. It is the desire of observational convenience to produce a representation identical or in complete concordance; not only with what it observes; not only with that which produces the observed; but with both as an apprehensible and manipulable objectification. This dream of perfect, objectifying representation, enabling total freedom*; both from the object represented and over that object; is the dream of perfect objectification, producing perfect, subjective control.
If achieved, however, the very perfection of representation is the very condition of identity with the represented, necessarily producing the very identity of subject and object and their resulting nonexistence as mentioned by Schopenhauer, because the ‘perfection’ has to be adequate to both conditions, of ‘the object represented’ and ‘subjective will or desire’. This is the necessary conclusion of the wilful narrative of objectivity and its productions.
*The freedom of ‘subjective will’.
A short note. I’ve written this comment somewhat more consciously in line with my considerations and work of the period, 1989-1996. It’s not that those considerations and that work aren’t in the background of everything that I’ve written in the allegedly new century, since I began writing, again. But I haven’t always been as explicit as I would like; it seems, though, that those writings and ideas, like those of Sol Yurick’s, are proving to be a more effective instrument for dealing with past, present or contemporary, and future, problematics.
The prevailing forms of cultural understanding, including the reactions to them, are pretty much antiquated fragments of habitual, cultural obsession, that were obsolescent long before I was born. But it is this atavistic, cultural content, which is being incessantly reproduced, by a fundamentally uninventive and backward cultural motivation, inspired only by its characteristic insularity.
It’s an unhealthy, self-destructive context, that has received enough attention, to no avail. Accounting for its insatiable needs and broken understandings is not the most interesting activity, probably requiring some form of sociopsychological counselling.
This text is a response to a Facebook post concerning the quantitative decline of US students taking up history, with only a few, so-called ‘Ivy League’ colleges, experiencing greater demand for courses in history. The first paragraph is in reference to that topic. The rest of the text explores what might be called a theory of conditions of historical conceptions and discourse.
The same point, about disciplinary control by a well-advantaged, social group, was made in an academic paper over 25 years ago, on the art world. How high-level degrees in fine art were only available to those who could afford to spend over a decade accruing them; how they were extremely specific in terms of their possible career utility, that is to say, of not much general use in employment scenarios.
That this specificity, affordable only to the few and privileged, served to channel that group onto editorial boards of influential art publications; art museums and institutions; the art world, generally. This allowed a specific, socio-economic group, to control all discourses on art and to be the arbiters of cultural taste in art.
The western notion of history is finished, has finished, according to John Baudrillard.
That’s not because of student disinterest; it is due to deeper problems with the way that history is done, and how the past is configured and viewed. I’ve written recently, a comment about the ‘fascism of the present’. If fascist orders play with inclusions and exclusions, in terms of what they consider permissible to present, admissible to their version of ‘the present’; then, the mechanism of modernist rupture can be seen as the inaugurating ideology enabling not only neo-rationalist polity, but fascist rationalisations, too.
Even if neo-rationalist polity, or modernist society, portrays itself as all-inclusive and progressive; this necessarily implies an exclusion of regression. Like nations, the culture of the present is susceptible to producing self-celebratory propaganda, skewing, distorting, or otherwise misrepresenting, the past, always in its own favour. This is ideological chronology; it’s an epistemological mechanism by which various social phenomena, can be ordered or regimented.
Because of the genealogy of military hostility accompanying so much of historical discourse over the last 4000 years, all history, including modernist history, has become deeply problematic. Those problems aren’t going to go away merely through hasty retreats into imagined, factual realms, of alleged scientific objectivity. Because the nature of scientific objectivity is itself at stake as a historical or chronological production.
There is of course the global conflict of geo-historical interpretations; the various centrisms that have arisen, such as Eurocentrism, Afrocentrism, et cetera. This is species-specific, internal to the public relations propaganda of internal orders of anthrosocial power, primarily emergent from the humanist ideology of anthropic supremacy, whose conceptual roots go all the way back to Aristotle and Protagoras.
Although this global conflict is a symptom of chronological disruption, it is not an explanation for it. History is a certain form of chronological culture; a certain experiential ordering and distribution. But the experiential root of that ordering and distribution is no longer quite so central, as it once was, or seemed to be. Common forms of anthropic experience have been brought to the limits of their traditional epistemological configurations. Those habitual configurations are no longer sufficient to account for newly emerging chronological conditions, conditions that were always there, but which could be safely ignored. Such ignorance is no longer possible. But the understanding which ought to be replacing that ignorance, doesn’t seem to be emerging, at least not in ‘human’ form. This indicates the nature of common, anthropic experience, as an effect. An effect of conditions of a chronology it is unable to understand.
A tribute to M John Harrison’s short story, “Settling the World” (collected in “The Ice Monkey, and other stories” | Victor Gollancz: 1975).
Estrades requested the meeting, speaking of matters of utmost importance, in his usual, hyperbolic style. Curious, I made my way to the mutually agreed location in Cafe Italia, Frith Street, opposite Ronnie Scott’s, the famous jazz club. He was upstairs, accompanied as always by Eisenburg. After the usual jocular preliminaries, Estrades got straight to the point.
“What is to be done, Oxlade, with this mad American? This pretend-Wagner, this vassal or hopeful vessel of Nietzschean anxieties?” Estrades raised his hands in a show of questioning invocation.
“Why need anything be ‘done’, at all, Estrades? Why not leave the spider of ‘New World’ insanity to its own cocoon of desperate weavings?” Oxlade answered, mimicking Estrades penchant for metaphoric expression.
“Oxlade, Oxlade,” he repeated, shaking his head in disagreement, and sighing. “Your caution exceeds itself! A reserve without effective expenditure!” Estrades continued shaking his head. “To speak of the Wagner puppet, this play-Nietzsche occupying himself with old toys, is to speak of the entire puppet show, Oxlade! Surely, Oxlade, you cannot be so naive as to imagine that his ridiculous self-communion is not serving a larger purpose?”
“I thought you’d retired from such intrigues, Estrades? Are you sure you aren’t simply a victim of your own, professional imagination, nostalgically spinning in its New Conditions of indolence?” Oxlade countered.
Estrades impatiently waved the words away. “Doubt as much as you like, Oxlade! Mistrust was always your forte.” He spoke directly, pre-emptively ploughing through any further objections. “Unwitting pawn, though this New World, Wagnerian Nietzsche, might be; nevertheless, this feckless foot soldier serves a greater esprit.
You think this theatre of contemporary confusions, this vehicle of multiple forms of unease, is merely driven by literary ambitions of bad taste, and hopes of registering itself in some dark beverage, annal of record achievements?” Estrades gave an imploring look. “Yes, yes, there is no need to disagree on this. It is not what the puppet thinks that is of interest. Look beyond its banal journalese, Oxlade, what function does the puppet serve?”
Estrades continued, “What purpose does any confusion serve, Oxlade? What did it serve, when either you or I were the instigators and professional architects of it? It served our mission objectives! ” Estrades said, answering his own question. “The question, is, what mission objective is being served by this puppet show of bad ideas?”
“Not everything proceeds according to your so-called, ‘mission objectives’, Estrades. That’s your professionalism talking again. People just live and do what they do, exciting themselves with exotic roles as harmless entertainment,” Oxlade offered.
“Again, Oxlade, you misunderstand. Such exotic pursuits are neither harmless nor entertaining. In the New Conditions that you are so fond of, Oxlade, the inexecrable utopia you defend so ardently, do you not observe the dissolution of the contours of our profession?”
There, Estrades had a point, even from his North African retirement and the pleasures of Byzantine military history, he assiduously observed the increasing encroachment of domestic and civil concerns in the previously sequestered realms of international espionage. Greater reliance on the private sector by traditionally aloof institutions of secrecy, rooted in an earlier era of simpler demarcations, had resulted in the collapse of the civilian and the classified, one into the other, to the point where neither could be easily distinguished. The New Conditions of communication served further to promote this suspect integration. Perhaps Estrades could discern these factors more clearly from his standpoint of self-incurred, North African isolation?
“I don’t deny that there have been changes, Estrades–”
“Understatement is no defence, Oxlade!” Estrades interrupted. “In our New Conditions, it merely becomes Antipodean exaggeration. Half of our work at Alexandria involves playing in online computer games and virtual worlds! Your department knows of this, anyway. How can it not, when it does the same? Eisenburg seems to have a talent for these things, he’s built up quite a reputation in that world.”
Eisenburg drew his cupped hands together, waggled his thumbs, and grinned, moving his shoulders up and down with a theatrics of enthusiasm.
“He has my old position, now, as Head of Section Intelligence, but I occasionally visit–”
“He visits at least two times a week,” Eisenburg interjected.
“Yes, and when I do, he’s either playing these online games, or hosting public relations events; school trips; even regular meetings of his fan club!”
Eisenburg’s face beamed.
“It’s gone too far, Oxlade! ‘He’, is mocking us!” Estrades gestured towards the vast entomological memory of God’s Road, the three of them shared.
“Here he goes again!” said Eisenburg, raising his eyes heavenward.
“You know, Oxlade, why God’s Motorway can no longer be found?”
Estrades was referring to the seeming disappearance of the Road of God. God’s Motorway, vanished some twenty years ago, as mysteriously as its arrival.
“It hasn’t disappeared, Oxlade, it has grown so large we can no longer perceive its horizon,” he gestured at the iPhone on a neighbouring table. “We are living in it, Oxlade, and there is no other choice, certainly not any that could truly be called one’s own.”
“If its horizon is no longer perceivable, why should the oppressive character you attribute to it be any clearer?” asked Oxlade. “Perhaps you are living in the belly of an imaginary beast, Estrades? Perhaps it is just your nature to,” Oxlade hesitated, “to chafe?”
Consumer desire? Commodity desire? The alleged ‘subject’ and ‘object’?
Through the exclusivist practice and understandings, the metaphysical configuration of cultural actuality, of ‘positivist object talk’; of ‘Lego-logos’ and ‘system-speak’; consumer and commodity become one, in affiliate ecstasy. Every market relation is converted into the communing of ecstatic information, flowing through circuits of android affiliation, in mechanisms of production whose teleology is objective hallucination.