Archive for January, 2010

comforting abstractions

January 17, 2010

“Individual consciousness is only the flower and the fruit of a season, sprung from the perennial rhizome beneath the earth; and it would find itself in better accord with truth if it took the existence of the rhizome into its calculations.” — Carl Jung

I didn’t think too much of, or about, this quote before posting it to facebook. It was a pointless post, disconnected from any attempt at communication, but clearly a seed. What caught my attention was the use of the rhizome metaphor. The rhizome may be a revolutionary concept. Or simply a signifier of knowledge of Deleuze and Guattari’s philosophy. And there was also the definition, or analogy, of individual consciousness.

I’m not going to profess any knowledge of Deleuze and Guattari’s philosophy. They might be on to something. When I read them I feel like I’m on to something, but I’m also wary of any academic interest in their philosophy, and without citing any sources, one way or another, I’ll just say outright that the interest of any revolutionary philosophy will not coincide with academic institutions.

I am not yet up to the task of separating the interests of existing institutions and revolutionary theory, but if I were to propose a course of study, A Thousand Plateaus would be required reading. A concrete example of coinciding interests is the health of the body. It is in the interest of institutions of state capitalism to maintain a relatively healthy workforce. A reactionary impulse is to destroy what the state values. This reactionary impulse is then counter to a revolutionary theory(praxis). The health of the body is also in the interest of the revolution. (The baby is in the bathwater.)

That brings me to Alex Storino‘s comments.

Deleuze and Guattari explain that there is no hierarchy in the network, merely a system of decentralized and interlinked nodes in which no order is ideal. “A rhizome doesn’t begin and doesn’t end, but is always in the middle, between things, interbeing, intermezzo”. (in Strickland, 2005, p. unnumbered, in activism section under brown page tag, article three). This is also described in Tao of Jeet Kune Do, “Where there is no centre and no circumference then there is truth. When you freely express you are the total style.” (Lee, in Lee, 1975, p. 204). McLuhan, describes this as something that has caused him to never stop deep thinking.

…[sic] the characteristic modes of acoustic space as a sphere whose center is everywhere and whose margins are nowhere (which is, incidentally, the Neoplatonic definition of God). …The basic structural fact about simultaneity is that the effects come before the causes in such structures, or, the ground comes before the figure. When the figure arrives, we say ‘The time is ripe’. (McLuhan, 1972, in McLuhan & Staines, 2003, p. 196).

I couldn’t respond on facebook because my response, even so far, to this unconsciously seeded discussion has been too much for a facebook’s format. I am also bringing into this a few other comments from Alex’s facebook page:

BELIEVE NOTHING & QUESTION EVERYTHING

GOVERNMENT is a fiction.
STATUTE LAW is a fiction.
RELIGION is a fiction.
BANKING is a fiction.
TAX is a fiction.
MEDIA is a fiction.

And also:

Alekz Storeenoe  believes knowing love is all that matters. Everything else is an illusion.

I’m not disagreeing with these comments, but I do think that Alex is attributing negativity to these qualities of existence (“TRUTH??”). Yes, there is a fictional quality, and/or an illusionary quality to existence. But these qualities are necessary. Consciousness and reality, because of reality’s unfinished quality, and it’s manipulatable quality, can only have a fictitious relationship. That reality, because of this temporal quality, can seem illusory should not be a cause for dismissal. For the revolutionary, the temporal, unfinished and manipulatable qualities of reality should be cause for optimism. That reality is not fixed, should be cause for celebration, a reason to work.

I dropped this quote a few weeks back.

“If your everyday life seems poor, don’t blame it; blame yourself; admit to yourself that you are not enough of a poet to call forth its riches; because for the creator there is no poverty and no indifferent place.” Rainer Maria Rilke

The idea is that, yes, the dominant institutions are fictions, but look at yourself. How are you a character in these fictions? Rilke was aware that these fictions have created us as characters, but as bodies we have creative powers.

Imaginary Career

At first a childhood, limitless and free
of any goals. Ah sweet unconsciousness.
Then sudden terror, schoolrooms, slavery,
the plunge into temptation and deep loss.

Defiance. The child bent becomes the bender,
inflicts on others what he once went through.
Loved, feared, rescuer, wrestler, victor,
he takes his vengeance, blow by blow.

And now in vast, cold, empty space, alone.
Yet hidden deep within the grown-up heart,
a longing for the first world, the ancient one…

Then, from His place of ambush, God leapt out.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke

How do you read that? It’s relevant to this discussion. The bent becomes the bender. Again we need to look at ourselves, as creators of reality and truth. All this in response to Alex’s comment invoking Deleuze, Guatarri, Strickland, Lee and McLuhan!! What I’m responding to is the abstract thought. Guattari especially was a concrete thinker. The revolutionary fucks and shits, and doesn’t forget it. And if you are aware of, and living in a concrete world, McLuhan’s abstractions, while sure, deep thinking, are ridiculous, because we’re not talking about God, and we’re avoiding His ambush!! And avoiding the shit, which while it is everywhere, has a physical form and a margin, and the stink too, a vapour, has a physical form and a margin, it’s less easy to avoid or fix in a narrative consciousness, but the idea of a vapour and the vapour itself are not the same, and while ideas are creative, and while I’m not disparaging thought, I am warning of comforting abstractions.

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