comforting abstractions

“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:


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.


8 Responses to “comforting abstractions”

  1. Alex Storino Says:

    McLuhan also has an aphorism that reminded me of the notion of the bent becoming the bender. I’m pretty sure it went like this: “We shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us.”

    P.S. My tool is tubular and fleshy.

  2. Alex Storino Says:

    You are a human being, who has a person. These are separate entities but the gov’t and law society do not want people to understand this. Your human name is Rodger Levesque. Your (fictitious) person’s name is MR. RODGER LEVESQUE (capitalized). See your birth certificate, license, bills, etc… You can give this “person” up, and live under God’s laws free of man’s law in this country and this is what ‘common’ law jurisdiction means. Brotherhood between all faiths as human beings. Muslims, Jews, Natives, Pagans, B’hai, Christian, Hindu etc. The free man on the land then independently contracts his/her work free of gov’t intervention and taxes. All of these institutions (gov’t statute law, religion, banking, taxation) in fact uphold the fiction of “your person”, because they only apply to the fiction created when you are dealt the blow of a birth certificate, we are born into bondage and unaware of it as we move through our lives asking to be further indentured with licenses, insurance, S.I.N.#’s. We give our human lives away for the sake of a “fictional person”, whom we’ve been duped to believe is us.

  3. Rob Bouchard Says:

    With no beginning and no end and something in the middle, to me that explains humans in relation to thier existence in time. Before humans were around something may have or may not have existed in the massive void of space, “no beginning”. And it does not matter because thats the past, before we were here. And “no end” is like even if all of humanity were to parish, and if something remained or replaced us does not matter either, thats the future but something in the massive void of space will still exist. We are in “the middle” existing in the only part of time that matters, the now. Before humans were here and it was just the masive void of space Love was not required. Love is needed to guide humans and thier intincts. Even if Love were here before humans or if Love remains when all of humanity parishes does not matter either, what matters is how humans use love now, while we can.
    We know love exists because of the strong feelings eminating through us when we recognize it. (through births and deaths)
    I think the idea of God or whom ever the creator is listed as in a particular religion was designed to explain and the was exploited and manipulated to harness the power that comes from uniting humans together. This design was observed than duplicated with twists to form the many religions that exist. This error being repeated over and over has lead IMO to the society we have. We need to remove our ignorance that we know more about love than the fact that love is just love and needs no more explaination than being kind and generous and forgiving. But punishing those that cannot show love or choose not to love is required to show love to those who do choose to love.

  4. rodgerlevesque Says:

  5. rodgerlevesque Says:

    I still think fiction should be understood positively or at least neutrally, as the mode by which we communicate. In Alex’s explication of the Freeman on the Land literature, I have a problem with the idea that the law society and government fictions are negative because they are fiction and that somehow God’s law is a truth and positive. God’s law is also fiction. Using God’s authority to challenge a legal or government authority is kind of silly. The government of Canada and it’s legal system also have God at their heads. This quick and easy legitimacy doesn’t really hold up.

    Also a balance between bondage and freedom should to be sought. Human connection, our dependence on one another needs to be understood. I think that is what Jung was getting at with the rhizome metaphor. We, each individual consciousness, are flowers of a deep human mass, existing and historical. I think he was reminding us to understand that connection, or at least factor it into our theories.

    I need to think more about the “duping” and the “ignorance.” Do people choose to or not to love? How does our socialization determine who we are? I’m working on a post. It might be a while. I think I need to go back to Aristotle’s Ethics.

  6. Alex Storino Says:

    I agree that God’s law(s) are also a fiction, Rodger. From my perspective however, Freeman law is far more simple to comprehend as we begin to peel back layers of indoctrination. Common law (not God’s law) afforded to humans as opposed to lawful statutes applied to a legal fiction in Canadian society. Sovereignty of the individual within a society (freeman or native) of other like minded individuals other than Canadian society is totally where I think we’re heading. If people want communism, Canadian society should be flexible enough to accommodate it. If another large contingency want fascism, Canadian society should be flexible enough to accommodate it. If people want anarchism in an individualist sense then Canadian society should be flexible enough to accommodate it… Otherwise it’ll become irrelevant and be swept away by something that works better. There’s always something better, so if power is what politicians want they’ll have to chase it like everyone else, and truly serve, rather than lead.

    Surfing the line between bondage and freedom is the ultimate end and mean and where I find personally find peace. I enjoy learning as much as I do teaching. Ultimately I believe that teaching is a futile expression when compared to the act of personally experiencing a learning moment or movement.

    Jung (so I understand) was terrified to meet Indian yogis who apparently knew themselves as beings (through transcendence and meditation), and this fear of wanting not wanting to know himself and to keep separate his conscious, subconscious and unconscious cannot serve as a model for us for much longer. We live in a world without privacy, where everything is recorded for future reference, to be recalled and used for or against us in making judgments.

  7. Alex Storino Says:

    Sorry, I dropped the wrong link in the last discussion entry:

  8. rodgerlevesque Says:

    If we want to change the world, we need to understand it. Alex has proposed that we have been duped by fictions, to put it simply. I don’t really follow him, but he seems to suggest something “human” or “being” has been hidden by the fictions. Rob has suggested that general ignorance regarding love has led to our troubled world, and that an understanding of love will be world changing. In both suggestions there is a discoverable, or knowable “human” or “love.” The implication is that with the discovery of “human” or “love” the question of how to live will be answered for us; that there is an answer to the question of how to live in this knowledge. This idea, that there is an answer already in existence, is very popular. It carries tones of Eckhart. The idea that everything exists already in this moment, in the “Now.” This is an old idea; that the world has been created and we just need to discover it. Everything has already been done, and done well, done perfectly, and we are just blind to it, we just need to be enlightened. We are blinded by illusions, we see fictions, not the perfect reality behind this flawed social construction.

    This idea itself becomes very confusing. The people who accept these illusions as reality are told by those of this school of thought to question their beliefs. The illusions and fictions, the social constructions are entrenched in belief. So those who believe in a created world call for a questioning of belief on the level of social construction. God’s creation is, for this school, a fact, a reality, a knowledge concealed by the illusions of believers.

    The idea that thought manifests reality is also very popular. The Secret is just one expression of this idea. The variations of this idea make a critique difficult. But there is a relation to the critics of illusion. The truth is covered by illusion, and this illusion is a mental construction, We can actually live in this illusion without knowing the difference, so The Secret is that mental constructions make our reality; thinking it makes it so.

    So is the world perfectly created, but covered by a flawed mental construction? Or is it a mental construction that we can create and recreate at will? One a secret world, the other The Secret. The idea that we need to understand the world and use that understanding to decide how to live is a fairly old idea as well. Aristotle writes in The Ethics that we must base our actions on an understanding of the facts of the world.

    The theory of evolution is a relatively new idea. Humans are not the creation of a Being, but being is a temporal phenomenon. We are a chance occurrence. Continually occurring. Human is a mental construction imposed on a natural construction. There is an evolving form, and in this sense existing is temporal. Human is not infinite, perfect, but in-time, evolving. Our understanding is temporal as well. It has a fictional quality. It is always an attempt to understand.

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