Ktismatics

16 November 2007

Immanent Neomarxist Utopia

Filed under: Culture, Ktismata — ktismatics @ 12:12 pm

Empire pretends to be the master of [the] world because it can destroy it. What a horrible illusion! In reality we are masters of the world because our desire and labor regenerate it continuously. The biopolitical world is an inexhaustible weaving together of generative actions, of which the collective (as meeting point of singularities) is the motor. No metaphysics, except a delirious one, can pretend to define humanity as isolated and powerless. No ontology, except a transcendent one, can relegate humanity to individuality. No anthropology, except a pathological one, can define humanity as a negative power. Generation, that first fact of metaphysics, ontology, and anthropology, is a collective mechanism or apparatus of desire…

For generation to take place, the political has to yield to love and desire, and that is to the fundamental forces of biopolitical production. The political is not what we are taught it is today by the cynical Machiavellianism of politicians; it is rather, as the democratic Machiavelli tells us, the power of generation, desire, and love. Political theory has to reorient itself along these lines and assume the language of generation.

– from Hardt and Negri, Empire, 2000

Advertisements

77 Comments »

  1. Sounds a bit New Agey and loveydovey so I’d like to examine first how they concretely propose we go about this business.

    In the passage you directed me to I was under the impression that H and N’s definition of the Empire may be likened to that found in conspiracy theories because they introduce as the new element in their definition the Empire’s universal claim to power – the world government, namely.

    Like

    Comment by parodycenter — 16 November 2007 @ 9:41 pm

  2. You’ve probably read more of this book than I have. I read the first couple sections then jumped to the happily-ever-after utopian section. In context I don’t think it sounds particularly New Agey — more Nietzsche, Deleuze, Foucault, Spinoza. Instead of dialectical reversal of Empire, H&N are looking to redirect it from within. Work, “biopower,” continually fuels and generates Empire as an emergent and widely-distributed social order. The tyrannical forces trying to run the social machinery can’t actually do anything productive; they can only impose limits on the productive forces — the workers. But the workers, who are the source of all productive energy in a society, always have within and among them the seeds of an alternative social order. So the question is how to redirect this latent, widely-distributed motive power in such a way that an alternative social order can emerge from within this one. “Using the master’s tools against him,” as you say.

    The passage I sent you reminded me of the world Nikki falls into in Inland Empire. There is no Big Other controlling Empire in H&N’s scheme. Rather, the pervasiveness of the current social order carries with it the sense that resistance is futile, the vague anomie and impotence that results contagiously from being immersed in a system that seems to have no way out. H&N say that this corruption is part of what makes Empire work, making it seem as though there is some secret conspiracy that’s so widespread it’s impossible to locate, let alone to fight against. H&N say it’s an illusion, that the feeling of paranoiac futility is generated continuously by the social order itself. But the social order emerges from the collective endeavors of “the multitude,” the workers. This feeling of paranoia is just a tool manipulated by the leeches of the system to make the multitude feel as if resistance were futile. But it’s an illusion, like the Wizard of Oz.

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 17 November 2007 @ 6:43 am

  3. The tyrannical forces trying to run the social machinery can’t actually do anything productive; they can only impose limits on the productive forces — the workers. But the workers, who are the source of all productive energy in a society, always have within and among them the seeds of an alternative social order.

    well yes that’s the part that sounds New Agey because it calls on these ”creative forces” inside (Deleuze’s flows) and ”creativity”in general (that k-punk rightly suspects because it’s such an overinvested place in Deleuze’s text) that so far have struck me as pure abstractions, especially because no massive movement of the Multitude has been or is being detected of the sort Hardt and Negri describe as just a matter of opening the bottle as it were.

    yes that’s what I meant in the emails about Inland, that the contagion and the corruption are neither concrete illnesses, nor indicators of a racist discourse (as Colonel Chabert would have it), but remind me more of Cronenberg’s Becomings through the ”pathological” transformations of the Uncontrollable Flesh. The part that I still don’t understand is the hole in the wall of the vagina: on the one hand there is an indication of castrational anxiety (as if the Oedipus hasn’t been properly processed and that’s why she keeps returning to the ”place of suture”, the boulevard where she was killed, to be stabbed again and again) and on the other hand it seems like there is something threatening as well as liberating about that hole in the vagina wall that sucks everything in. In other words it faces me yet again with the dilemma around Lacan’s sexuation formula, is it possible to reinterpret it from the perspective of female jouissance? Because I think the utopian in this narrative is identified with the vaginal: the place of unlimited, uncastrated Plenitude, the Pleroma, the Pomona, is clearly some kind of a vaginal portal with multiple entries.

    Like

    Comment by parodycenter — 17 November 2007 @ 2:03 pm

  4. it seems to me that Hardt and Negri also define the Empire’s power as female?

    Like

    Comment by parodycenter — 17 November 2007 @ 2:06 pm

  5. and I know we are returning to the discussion that started our friendship in the blogosphere, but as soon as it keeps returning the rabbit must be IN THAT BUSH.

    What one keeps stumbling upon is really the question: What is Nikki’s guilt? All throughout the film’s Mc Guffinesque ”narrative” we’re busy searching for clues and directions, but in boomerang fashion the film returns us to the street, and to the traumatic castration scene. We see Nikki as a Phallic woman, an Oedipal threat. As an expert on creation you would probably know better whether this has Original Sin connotations, because indeed Inland Empire is a ”creation narrative” in my mind, something of mythic and epic proportions. She is then killed by another Phallic woman, who could be her double (and I keep thinking all the time that this reflects the narcissistic relationship between Diane and Betty in MULHOLLAND DRIVE). This is all perfectly explicable in Lacanese as an Oedipal setup, including the triangular content of all the other refractions of that central theme – three rabbits, two men and a victimized woman, an abundance of compositions with three in the mise-en-scene. Then you get an image of the Last Supper, the interpretation of which I would leave up to you, you being more familiar with theology. In that scene an emissary is apparently recruited (the ”Phantom”) to resolve the situation by violent and evil emanation – and this is the part that reminded me of Gnosticism, or at least a particularly severe type of Catholicism – who is later shown to be yet another narcissistic refraction of Nikki’s own personality (she sees him as her own face wrapped up in placenta and bleeding to death, another castration image). And in all this I feel that Lynch experiences the same ambiguity about this central issue that I do: an unfettered vagina; a vagina that doesn’t undergo castration. Direct jouissance.

    Like

    Comment by parodycenter — 17 November 2007 @ 3:50 pm

  6. …Nikki stands up after what seems like an unsuccessful attempt at castration and so it is shown that the castration might be just another portal, another product of the desiring-machine. And her ”deliverance” to a higher dimension is first blessed by a lesbian kiss without guilt feelings, the embrace and release of female jouissance, ending with a scene that instead of suggesting – as kpunk argued, the Lacanian desolation and spooky pessimism – suggests infinite temporal extension in stasis, a kind of an ever-expanding utopia that only climaxes and climaxes, reaching ever-new plateaus (and which utopia as I discovered is much closer to Greek Orthodox Christianity than to either the Gnostic vision of Hell or the Catholic utopia). However interestingly it is in this conclusion of the film that I can’t escape the impression that something is missing; it appeared as though evolution just happened, sort of like Hardt and Negri imagine that the creative proletarian forces will simply have to be opened like a bottle and then all that creativity will start flowing.

    Like

    Comment by parodycenter — 17 November 2007 @ 4:04 pm

  7. So Clysmatics even as I consider New Ageism really as something of a heresy because it’s all about worshiping false idols, the New Ageism certainly reflects the issues that plague is at the moment, and in the general movement towards dismantling patriarchy (which as I think Hardt and Negri note as well is one of the Empire’s most potent weapons – the diffuse, distributed, vaginal power) the central political psychological religious issue must be this dilemma about the Father’s Law: was there a snake in the Garden of Eden, or is that a projection of the desiring-machine, which offers limitless plenitude, total Pleroma.

    Like

    Comment by parodycenter — 17 November 2007 @ 4:16 pm

  8. There’s a certain Puritanical force energizing all worker-based utopias, whereas “creativity” does verge toward the New Agey — a characteristic of people rather than something they do. I think Deleuze & Guattari and, from what I’ve seen of it so far, Hardt & Negri do propose that people actually have to DO SOMETHING with their creative virtualities rather than basking together in harmonious creativity.

    I think it’s barely possible that workers would all of a sudden start letting loose their creative juices in disregard of the money-and-surveillance restraints. But the system depends just as surely on consumer desire to complete the circuit. So if the workers start creating things that are really good will they be disregarded by an indifferent consumer multitude? Supply and demand have to line up around similar values; there has to be a discourse about desire and le petit objet a to complement the discourse on immanence and emergence and difference from the worker side of the transaction.

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 17 November 2007 @ 4:16 pm

  9. So if the workers start creating things that are really good will they be disregarded by an indifferent consumer multitude?

    I think that creation would also involve the existence of a device which makes the market perfunctory, in other words a self-sustaining source of energy or maybe an alternative economic system, if such a thing is possible. As the Gypsy woman said: ”Not through the market, you see that don’t you, but in the alley BEHIND the market – THAT is the road to the palace.”

    Like

    Comment by parodycenter — 17 November 2007 @ 4:47 pm

  10. about desire and le petit objet a to complement the discourse on immanence and emergence and difference

    clysmatics, you haven’t realized to what extent my intellectual project is overly ambitious – i want to intertwine these two discourses (on immanence and the petit objet a) and imagine what happens NEXT.

    I think Lynch already went very far in that direction, but I want to go FURTHER and BEYOND.

    Like

    Comment by parodycenter — 17 November 2007 @ 4:49 pm

  11. The hole in the wall of the vagina — I thought it had to do with abortion, with the inability to (pro)create, that there’s a short-circuit in the Empire that results only in barrenness. And isn’t it ambiguous about whether Nikki could have children, had a child that died, has a child that’s restored to life? This is partly why I thought Nikki (full of) Grace is a Mary figure, and the mysterious spectral child is Jesus, or perhaps it’s herself — that she’s in “labor” trying to “deliver” herself from this abortive corruption of the Empire.

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 17 November 2007 @ 4:52 pm

  12. The hole in the wall of the vagina — I thought it had to do with abortion, with the inability to (pro)create, that there’s a short-circuit in the Empire that results only in barrenness.

    Yes but you realize the issue of abortion is also related to the issue of feminine jouissance unfettered by male demand (by the Phallic law).

    Like

    Comment by parodycenter — 17 November 2007 @ 4:54 pm

  13. with the inability to (pro)create, that there’s a short-circuit in the Empire that results only in barrenness.

    certainly, but where does the short-circuit come from, what is the Original Sin here? What causes the tumors, the cloning, and miscegenation? The woman’s very nature?

    Like

    Comment by parodycenter — 17 November 2007 @ 5:02 pm

  14. “Wrapped up in placenta” — this is directly a birth image, as are all the portals she passes through — giving birth to some sort of good creation, giving birth to herself. The Moebius is that she’s inside her own womb, but she’s being violently torn out of herself into barrenness. Oh, and recall Eraserhead and the horrible ambivalence Lynch has about giving birth to a monstrosity and wanting to kill it off. If the men in this movie are also Lynch the director, is he helping the actress to bring something transcendent from her gnostic participation in cinematic reality, or is he violating her, aborting her, bringing a stillborn creation into existence?

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 17 November 2007 @ 5:03 pm

  15. The Moebius is that she’s inside her own womb, but she’s being violently torn out of herself into barrenness.

    precisely, the image looks like she aborted herself

    is he helping the actress to bring something transcendent from her gnostic participation in cinematic reality, or is he violating her, aborting her, bringing a stillborn creation into existence?

    yes and he still experiences ambivalence from his Mother because Lynch is an Oedipal bottom like me, so you’d expect to encounter him having simultaneously sadistic and masochistic visions of women. But this of course is not just my condition, it’s our universal condition vis-a-vis the Mystery of the Pussy.

    Like

    Comment by parodycenter — 17 November 2007 @ 5:10 pm

  16. Lynch is a bit like that character in Almodovar’s brilliant HABLE CON ELLA who jumps into his mom’s pussy and swims there

    Like

    Comment by parodycenter — 17 November 2007 @ 5:11 pm

  17. “i want to intertwine these two discourses (on immanence and the petit objet a) and imagine what happens NEXT.”

    Excellent. I’ll have to go back to Anti-Oedipus, but I think they, like Hardt & Negri, shift all the de-Oedipalized desire to the production side. Freed from the psychoeconomics of lack, people no longer even want to consume — they only want to create. They might be right. You said on your blog that you are relatively immune to consumeristic desire, wanting only books and movies. Welcome to the multitude!

    Does something emerge out of the marketplace if the multitude release their inner creators and find pleasure thereby? If people don’t have to OWN the products in order to appreciate their value, then perhaps there’s a shift away from consumer goods and services to… what? Public sector patronage of art and science for the common weal? Spontaneously-formed collectives?

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 17 November 2007 @ 5:14 pm

  18. If people don’t have to OWN the products in order to appreciate their value, then perhaps there’s a shift away from consumer goods and services to… what?

    Well you know that Shaviro’s aestheticization argument, although I don’t yet know it inside out, would suggest that this is already beginning to or is taking place. We increasingly buy concepts, ideas, emotions, not products. In socialism we had a fairly successful public sector patronage, which save for a few unfortunate incidents like Dusan makavejev, exiled by the Communists for making a film so deeply Communist it would get the Cobra to experience ever newer orgasm plateaus, was fairly functional and good. In this period as I have tried to show you by displaying accessible artefacts of 1970s Yugoslavia was really enjoying freedoms of an unprecedented degree, unimaginable at this point of history in either the West or the East. In quite a few cases you could say that people were creating what they love and living off it as well.

    Like

    Comment by parodycenter — 17 November 2007 @ 5:26 pm

  19. In John Waters’s sexotopia A DIRTY SHAME a spontaneous collective is organised through sex, a kind of a 1968 fantasy, but then that collective turns into an anarchy which experiences its own anticlimax (because truly, sex alone isn’t enough to cum). Then in a truly ingenious turn, the sex addicts discover a new way to climax, which is by headbanging, and they come through their heads as well. But this is presented as a religious scene: one of them can walk on water, like Moses. Their bodies have acquired anti-gravitational fluidity and they can also come directly from their fantasies, sort of embodying their own sex drive. What appears subversive vis-a-vis the body and mind split is the possibility of gaining direct access to female jouissance, which simultaneously appears as a kind of a CONTAGION (the sex addicts are presented as zombies and the headbanging skills are transferred via contagion).

    Like

    Comment by parodycenter — 17 November 2007 @ 5:34 pm

  20. speaking of which i find this incredibly funny

    Like

    Comment by parodycenter — 17 November 2007 @ 5:38 pm

  21. From an evolutionary perspective sexual pleasure is a trick the genes play on the organism in order to get it to procreate. So I don’t think it’s necessary to regard the birth/abortion theme as a secondary theme to sexual jouissance. Perhaps analogously, the urge to create need not be a sublimation or consciously cultivated refinement of the sexual urge. However, I acknowledge a certain loathing for the evolutionary psychology paradigm.

    On the other hand, the desire to goof off and to be entertained and to wield power might not go away for most of the multitude. On some level I’m a Nietzschean elitist, or perhaps a Derridean alterist.

    I don’t know Shaviro’s aestheticization argument. Certainly electronic distribution makes possible low-cost distribution of noncorporeal cultural product like books and music; the trick is to keep the creators supplied with food and books while they produce.

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 17 November 2007 @ 6:48 pm

  22. On the other hand, the desire to goof off and to be entertained and to wield power might not go away for most of the multitude. On some level I’m a Nietzschean elitist, or perhaps a Derridean alterist.

    Marxism is quite possible with the inclusion of Nietzschean elitism. Even birds on the trees know that humanity has been pushed forward by exceptional talent, not by mediocrity. And regardless of so-called ominous Stalinist undertones, a vast majority of humanity needs enlightenment and guidance. It is only in those kinds of vulgar Marxists like the wellknown orthodox Cobra that this becomes an impossibility. As she expressed it, even as she was demonstrating an extraordinary amount of malevolent rhetoric skill, ”I am completely ordinary.” As she poured herself another glass of Don Perignon, she emphasized, ”I identify with the proletariat – do not let my high class position fool you.”

    Like

    Comment by parodycenter — 17 November 2007 @ 7:00 pm

  23. dad i can’t tell you how often i replayed the scene with the gypsy woman. it is both a formal and a stylistic masterpiece – impossible to recapture by anybody else, singularly Lynchian. The Gypsy woman’s speech is so full of doublebinds, contradictions, circular statements and schizophrenic oscillations, but when she says things like ”BRUTAL fucking murder” you realize that she knows exactly what this story is about. Dern is simultaneously magnificent as her upper class mannerisms slowly dissolve to make way for the sheer terror of recognition that something off-the-wall is about to happen.

    Like

    Comment by parodycenter — 17 November 2007 @ 10:23 pm

  24. I remember standing in line to get into the Sagrada Familia Cathedral in Barcelona and an old Gypsy woman came up to our daughter, stroked her hair, and said in Spanish — “Beautiful. I have children too.” Gypsies are the tellers of fortune.

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 17 November 2007 @ 11:26 pm

  25. dad Inland Empire works as a boomerang, it doesn’t strike you as very exciting on the first or even second viewing, where i think few people get to the second viewing because they classify the film as incomprehensible. it works retroactively, through discussions and reminiscences, as newer and newer portals are opened to its possible meanings. It is also in this way that its labyrinthine structure generates a spectral dimension outside or better to say all around the screen, if we take the screen as a portal. I think this is what people would vaguely define as mesmerism, cultism, or whatever other simple qualifier they use for the Lynch experience. One of the great things he’s telling us is keep dreaming, don’t leave that utopia, because in the inland space there is still infinite space for dreaming.

    Like

    Comment by parodycenter — 20 November 2007 @ 1:53 am

  26. it sounds like a TM message, and it is doubtlessly inspired by TM, but it has a much broader and deeper reach.

    Like

    Comment by parodycenter — 20 November 2007 @ 1:56 am

  27. “One of the great things he’s telling us is keep dreaming, don’t leave that utopia, because in the inland space there is still infinite space for dreaming.”

    I like that idea. All these utopian visions are fictions, but that doesn’t make them less valuable, less habitable than reality-so-called, which is a fiction that just happens to have caught on. An unlimited number of alternative signifier systems can be strapped onto the same signifieds, in real life as well as in cinematic life. It’s not even necessary to evoke the sort of hallucinogenic state that Lynch shows us — that’s maybe an expressionist analog for the unconscious where this activity of reordering the symbol systems operates in a realm that can be governed at least as much by affect and imagination as by intentionality.

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 20 November 2007 @ 5:01 am

  28. I finished Hardt and Negri’s utopian palaverings and find them not even very interesting, let alone realistic, which I don’t really care that much about. I understand the importance of things like the free mobility of world workers and the necessity of a global minimum wage, but do these stimulate imagination? For most people in the world I’m sure it does, and I would support such policies if I knew which political body could enforce them. But I’m looking for utopian imaginings that stir ME and my petit bourgeois comparison group. H&N offer the occasional bit of Nietzsche and St. Francis for inspiration, but the net effect is meandering and leaden. Deleuze and Guattari are more FUN.

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 20 November 2007 @ 4:26 pm

  29. Interesting discussion here. I haven’t been able to read through the entire thread yet, but I just wanted to make a quick remark. Negri and Hardt, insofar as I understand them, are not suggesting that there’s suddenly a unified worker movement that rises up and changes everything. Multitudes are internally heterogeneous. On the one hand, they are talking about how the development of multi-national corporations is tending towards the dissolution of Nations. This process is occurring due to global communication technologies as well. For instance, Dejan, you and I regularly talk despite being so far apart. This loosens us from being situated in terms of our local customs and assumptions and produces something new. This production is what Negri and Hardt are talking about. Rather than top down centralized hierarchies, you instead get these networks all over the world producing their own forms of life that can no longer be strictly regulated by the state. Some of these things can be great, some really terrible.

    As for Deleuze and Guattar in Anti-Oedipus, they do not deny lack, but just argue that it isn’t ontologically primitive. They argue that desire creates lack, not that lack creates desire. Nor are they denying consumption. There’s a lot more I should say about this because it’s been poorly developed elsewhere and they are misleading in their discussions. However, it’s important to note that Marx himself argues the same thing in Grundrisse, when he claims that production is immediately consumption and consumption is immediately production. On the one hand, desires need to be produced in capitalism (think of advertising and all the junk we’re persuaded to want). On the other hand, basic biological desires are produced in evolution (D&G draw no strong distinction between nature and culture). In claiming it’s all creation and production, Deleuze and Guattari in no way deny ugly desires like fascism and totalitarianism. Those too are produced and aren’t simply illusions. In this regard, desire in and of itself isn’t revolutionary for Deleuze and Guattari. It can be reterritorialized on extremely reactive social formations. Desire itself isn’t the solution for them. It’s a specific sort of desire that escapes reactive power structures that they’re looking for. Whether they’re successful is another question.

    Like

    Comment by larvalsubjects — 26 November 2007 @ 1:02 pm

  30. Hmm, should I reply or not? If I wait, like I haven’t been waiting for him to show up, he might get irritated and leave. But if I respond to quickly it’s like I’m too eager, you know? Oh, what the hell…

    Thanks for stopping by, Larvalsubjects. This post was stimulated by a couple things, one being Traxus’s apparent desire to decouple revolution from utopian thinking in order to stay more materialistically immanent, another being the possibility of imagining what some of the theoretical utopias might look like in a fictional world that perversely distorts them into dystopias. Hardt & Negri I ought to read all the way through but I jumped ahead to the utopian bit at the end. The multitude did seem like the deterritorialized free agents at the end of Anti-Oedipus but not quite so elite in their creativity. I understand Negri, Deleuze and Foucault all used to hang out together? Maybe Negri is less of a Nietzschean.

    Yeah that was my understanding about D&G on lack as a product rather than an initial cause, and I think they’re right (but don’t tell Dejan). Lacan traces forward more directly from Hegel in this regard. One of the issues surrounding “conversations gone bad” is whether discussants can find an energy source that’s an alternative to mimetic desire and fighting over who’s master and who’s servant. It seems to me that if immanence is going to happen then people have to find the interesting thing in the other and engage it creatively rather than competitively.

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 26 November 2007 @ 1:47 pm

  31. Yeah that was my understanding about D&G on lack as a product rather than an initial cause, and I think they’re right (but don’t tell Dejan).

    I am not at all one-sided or decided on this issue, Clysmatics; certain experiences in my life suggest the validity of Lacan’s view – or is it really Lacan’s view, given his later teachings, about which dr. Sinthome wrote abundantly – that desire comes from Lack. Other experiences suggest the other way round. But no matter how you go about the business this seems to come back as a central issue somehow.

    Dr. Sinthome you haven’t been very warm and responsive to my brilliant American dad Clysmatics, whose work is a very interesting and stimulating assemblage of psychology and the creation science!

    Like

    Comment by parodycenter — 26 November 2007 @ 3:20 pm

  32. On the one hand, they are talking about how the development of multi-national corporations is tending towards the dissolution of Nations.

    But have Nations really been diluted or do they come back to ”haunt” us as in the nationalistic-religious backlash taking place in the States right now and to a lesser extent also in Western Europe? The structure of the globalized world really reminds me of the old Yugoslav constitution from 1974, where the federalism and the Commie cosmopolitics were so defined as to hide the underlying favoritism of precisely the nationalistic strivings that the constitution was supposedly meant to dissolve.

    Like

    Comment by parodycenter — 26 November 2007 @ 4:00 pm

  33. I’m sorry Dejan. My schedule has been hell here lately, so I haven’t had as much time to play as I might like. As for Lacan, I actually think Lacan and Deleuze and Guattari are closer on this point than is often noticed. In his response to Hyppolite in the Ecrits, Lacan argues that affirmation precedes negation. This makes sense from a metapsychological point of view. How is it possible for something to be lacking before there as a place from which that thing can be missing? Consequently, it is first necessary for a trace to be instituted, and then subsequently something can be seen as instituting or failing to institute that trace in subsequent experiences. Lacan is pretty clear about this all in his writings from the structuralist period on. This is what the process of alienation and separation is all about. When we fall under the signifier it becomes possible to lack something for the very first time. Lacan gives the nice example of a book missing from its shelf, when it’s the sitting there on the next shelf over. Physically, of course, the book always is and is therefore a plenitude. However, because we have a library code, it is possible for a book to be missing even though it’s right there. To further support my point, it’s worth noting that the Lacan of the early symbolic phase treats the real as a plenitude without lack. It is only subsequently that lack emerges. Granted, in Seminar 4, Lacan does distinguish between real privation (biological want), imaginary frustration, and symbolic castration (lack). But again, privation couldn’t occur were there not first a genetic code that produced the possibility of lack. In this respect, I think Lacan and Deleuze and Guattari are simply talking at different levels. Deleuze and Guattari are interested in all those systems of traces at the level of the unconscious that can be laid down in an unlimited number of ways. Lacan, working in the clinic, was dealing with systems already in place where the analysand experiences the effects of these systems. The key point would be where one falls on the question of whether these systems can be changed. Early Lacan says no, they’re fixed in place and a successful analysis lies in recognizing one’s tragic condition, i.e., that what appears to be loss (the belief that we could find the lost object or that it exists) is in fact an irremediable loss. Later Lacan allows for transformations in the system of the unconscious. Deleuze and Guattari are much closer to this later Lacan. Zizek mucks the whole thing up because of his idealist, anti-materialist, Hegelianism which follows the Hegel of the Science of Logic in treating negativity as ontologically primative or “always already”.

    Ktismatics, I’m embarrassed to say I haven’t yet finished Empire, but am still working my way through it. So far I’m fairly enthusiastic about it, though I understand that it’s received a lot of criticism. I think I’m pessimistic about our possibilities of engaging in other ways. Resources being limited, the stakes of these struggles are very real and it’s difficult to engage with someone like say Rupert Murdoch when they’re out to screw me. Similarly in the case of a Christian fundamentalist group who is attempting to make my life more difficult by messing with my sexual freedom. Then I think of all those people, arguably the vast majority, who live very wretched lives, either due to poverty, or working in jobs that give them very little recognition or satisfaction, or who are trapped in horrible relationships, or who just are very isolated. Such people have so little in their life, so little recognition, so little in the way of fulfilling relationships, so little wealth, yet they constantly see images of what life could be like and see others enjoying. I think this is how a lot of us get caught up in ideologies. For instance, you join a fundamentalist church that believes in apocalypse because now your meaningless little life is filled with meaning: you’re caught in the grand battle between good and evil and all your actions are a part of a huge collective shuttling towards that end, working to be on the right side. Or you get caught up in politics to veil the meaninglessness of your life. When these paths aren’t followed it’s difficult not to fall into ressentiment and bitter misogyny, homophobia, racism, nationalism, etc., as a way of lashing out against those you perceive as enjoying unjustly. It’s hard to be open to creativity in such living conditions and when filled with such insecurities.

    Like

    Comment by larvalsubjects — 26 November 2007 @ 5:05 pm

  34. The full Marxist revolutionary agenda seems kind of like Christian premillenialism, with all apocalyptic hell breaking loose followed by the descent of Christ and the thousand-year utopian reign. Hegel was a Lutheran, and among the Reformers Luther was known for his both-and dialectic: both bread/wine and body/blood, both sinner and saint, both already and not yet for the utopian Kingdom. This possibility of transition of real into ideal is I think part of the Christian tradition that’s not really there with either the Greeks or the Jews. I can see why radicals equate the emergent immanent path with neoliberalism, but there must be some way of achieving agency at the multitude level that isn’t captivated entirely by the economy of lack and master-servant.

    Evangelical and pentecostal Christianity exerts a strong draw in the third world, even in already-Catholic countries. I’m not sure whether it’s the by-and-by utopianism that’s appealing or the Protestant work ethic combined with the gospel of wealth that tends to dominate the American scene. I’m betting it’s the latter. I wonder whether the new converts to these forms of Christianity fare better in terms of material well-being than the Marxists and the Muslims.

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 26 November 2007 @ 5:48 pm

  35. Physically, of course, the book always is and is therefore a plenitude. However, because we have a library code, it is possible for a book to be missing even though it’s right there.

    Yes dr. Sinthome I have already read these insights in your original postings, this is why I said that I am not as certain that Lacan posited Lack as ontologically primary. But what is then Lacan’s explanation or what are his explanations of the reason WHY we have the library code? Judging from clinical experience, the code is definitely there – it is operative. What would be a way to break that code?

    How do we go through the hole in the vagina wall? How do we take the bus to Pleroma?

    Clysmatics it’s not like the Protestant work ethic is entirely devoid of utopian qualities, I’ve known ah so many people who want to go to America because according to Protestantism, everyone has an equal chance to work and make money in God’s eyes, getting fair treatment as well.

    Like

    Comment by parodycenter — 26 November 2007 @ 11:25 pm

  36. Apologies for my repetitiveness. Actually later Lacan seems to think that the code is not there. He’d already started making this move around seminar 5. There he used the term “code”, but when he rewrote seminars four through five as “Subversion of the Subject”, he dropped this term. The idea of lalange is the idea that there is no code. Late Lacan thinks the end of analysis as no longer believing in the big Other, i.e., that there’s a master-code. This could be thought in terms of Kafka’s Trial and Castle. Joseph K goes about thinking that there’s a secret to the Law or the Castle. A hidden truth, system, order, or organization that he just doesn’t see. As such, he’s a neurotic subject. Analysis ends when you come to see that the Other just is that chaos.

    I don’t have answers as to how the code gets produced, unfortunately. I tend to think of it as an emergent effect of collective interactions, that is a “fuzzy code” rather than an iron rational system like it’s sometimes thought.

    Like

    Comment by larvalsubjects — 27 November 2007 @ 12:55 am

  37. Apologies for my repetitiveness.

    I will forgive you this time, dr. Sinthome,although I am not happy that you apologized for the repetitiveness instead of for thinking that I do not pay your texts due attention! At the Cultural Parody Center we take our parodic research very seriously.

    Do you think that it would be possible to create a model, whether mathematical, or cinematic, that would explore how these collective interactions produce the code?

    Like

    Comment by parodycenter — 27 November 2007 @ 3:55 am

  38. I’m happy for the two of you that you understand the idea of the code. Pretend like I know too and that I’m asking you to explain it to me. I’m inferring from Sinthome’s brief allusion that the code specifies where something is supposed to be in a structure, and if it’s not in it’s right place then it’s subjectively missing. So then what? If you expect plenitude to arise in some part of yourself or in some kind of interaction with others, you might be looking in the wrong place for something that is actually already there or attainable through other means?

    Parodycenter, I agree that the Protestant ethic is utopian. In its pure Calvinist form the ethic is itself evidence of the utopia already being present both within and among the elect, and through its outworking in the world the ethic gradually brings about the fullness of utopia as its inevitable fruit. It’s a transcendentally-imbued DRIVE to work produced by indwelling pleroma, replacing the COMMAND to work imposed by the Law. In Pauline theology the Law functions as compensation for inner lack of perfection and power, but in the end the Law only serves to reveal that lack. Law also stimulates desire to violate the Law, to fill the emptiness by doing what God forbids and so becoming like God, viz. eating the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. So this whole Judeo-Christian discourse either anticipates Lacan or is best understood through a Lacanian lens. And there’s also the question of how the drive to work has been coopted by capitalism rather than being freed to express itself as something more like a Deleuzian creator’s ethos.

    Paul vacillates on the cause of the lack between the Fall and the Law. Either way the individual can never be a self-contained subject. An original connection has been lost, and the question is how to restore it. It’s a connection both with the transcendent Other, now a source of power rather than condemnation, and with the spiritually renewed multitude.

    I assume that there is no Big Other, no drop-down transcendence. Were the Protestants able to find either within or among themselves a drive to work and to create, or was it just a sublimated sense of insecurity as Max Weber argues? And is the sense of lack generated by a false desire to establish a self-contained self when we are in essence an interdependent species? All idealizations, which are in effect subjective utopias of self, spontaneously generate the gap between the real and the ideal, and that gap is the lack. But maybe even the operation of language, which transforms the tangible object at hand into the representative of an abstract class, is a machine for generating the gap between actual and ideal. In that case maybe lack is intrinsic to the human condition, the price we pay for separating ourselves from the natural utopia of the Real and glimpsing the multiform utopias of Reality. But the drive to separate ourselves from the Real also brings with it a progressive creation of Reality. So there’s something like a continual immanent movement toward utopia, but the vision of utopia can be redirected in any number of ways, and the eye oscillates in its attention between the movement or the gap.

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 27 November 2007 @ 5:33 am

  39. In the original post Hardt & Negri envision working power unleashed, not so much as a mass revolutionary overthrow of the existing order but as something like a will to create, distributed individually among the multitude. “The power of generation, desire and love” — I don’t think they’re using desire in the negatively-charged Lacanian sense — it’s more an urge or instinct of drive. This is the idea in Deleuze & Guattari too. And it has its predecessor in the Puritan ethic, which WORKED whether the attribution to an outside Power imbuing the self was accurate or not. The drive to create unleashed from law and no longer directed toward stoking the consumer’s insatiable desire: this would be the immanent force of a worker’s emergent transformation of culture from within. What would remove this law-desire apparatus, which after all isn’t intrinsic to the Real? I doubt a violent revolution would do the trick.

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 27 November 2007 @ 6:37 am

  40. And there’s also the question of how the drive to work has been coopted by capitalism rather than being freed to express itself as something more like a Deleuzian creator’s ethos.

    Well, evil was born and followed the boy…

    Like

    Comment by parodycenter — 27 November 2007 @ 7:53 am

  41. Read my comment today on “No Country for Old Men” about the immanence of evil. The question is whether evil is good corrupted or a separate force of its own.

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 27 November 2007 @ 8:11 am

  42. But wait a minute isn’t neoliberalism supposed to have co-opted selfexpression/creativity, rather than the ”drive to work”. And how do Hardt and Negri define this drive by the way? What about the commonsensical observation that most people are lazy rather than compelled to work? I don;t have time to read the whole book so you have to translate it a bit from what you have read.
    And what kind of a desire escapes power structures according to D and G? Collective affect – contagion?

    It is too bad that the Serbian overthrowing of Milosevic took place after so many frustrations and disappointments that people were desperate and knew they had nothing to lose. If it weren’t for that preliminary one would surmise from the massive orchestrated move without leaders mind you, that it was a Hardt and Negrian revolution as you just described it. I do remember that many intellectuals who spoke to the masses underscored the necessity for Serbs to give up on patriarchal leaders, on the expectation for the arrival of the Messiah.

    Like

    Comment by parodycenter — 27 November 2007 @ 10:46 am

  43. The question is whether evil is good corrupted or a separate force of its own.

    This will take us to theological waters, maybe better for this thread to define ”evil” as an impediment to free creative work, let’s say and try to remember the historical background which led to the point where work was stolen from the worker or something like that.

    Like

    Comment by parodycenter — 27 November 2007 @ 10:50 am

  44. In the Protestant ethic self-expression and creativity aren’t part of the scene: it’s about doing God’s will, participating in His work of creating the Kingdom of God on earth. Arguably this self-expressive creative ethos is the motivating engine of the neoliberal marketplace, which as you say is coopted. Self-expression and creativity constitute a more individualistic, egoistic ethos than working for God’s kingdom, and some argue that it’s a competing “bohemian ethos.” Bohemian creativity disciplined by the work ethic is the secret formula, allegedly. But from the Reformation onward individualism has undoubtedly been an incipient force in Protestantism as well. And in Protestantism the work ethic isn’t a law-like discipline but a motive force in its own right.

    Hardt & Negri see a productive force endemic to humanity at the individual level, but it’s propelled forward and gains critical mass in the collective, the “multitude.” In a sense this is more like the original Puritan ethos, which manifested itself especially in America as little utopian collectives of high industriousness.

    If most people are lazy all bets are off. Then we need some sort of elitism: the Nietzschean superman, the Calvinist elect, etc. Or we need to re-educate the lazy soul toward industriousness on a society-wide basis — that’s what the Methodists were all about, and in the US it’s been pretty well secularized in various self-help techniques for achieving success.

    I certainly think that good and evil retain their places in the symbolic order of the secular economy. In “impediment to free creative work” and stealing product from the worker you’ve identified two manifestations of it. Laziness is a third.

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 27 November 2007 @ 1:35 pm

  45. If most people are lazy all bets are off.

    That of course was a stupid generalization; I think I was talking out of my ass, or maybe I was referring to my observation that in Communism, the possibility of getting paid for no work didn’t seem to upset too many people; they preferred it like that, and never showed much incentive to develop. But it’s silly to generalize such a thing.

    Like

    Comment by parodycenter — 27 November 2007 @ 1:55 pm

  46. Oh I don’t know — from an evolutionary perspective what’s the incentive for humans to do much beyond getting their basic needs met? Monkees seem pretty lazy. I think the verdict is still out on whether work is a drive or a discipline. And aren’t a lot of our inventions designed to be labor-saving devices? If the injunction to work wasn’t laid on us by societal expectations would our creatorly endeavors seem like play?

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 27 November 2007 @ 6:23 pm

  47. Ktismatics, I don’t think code so much pertains to what’s inside of subjectivity, rather we’re in social relations. Recall Oedipus (the actual play, not the complex). Oedipus doesn’t know that Laius is his father or that he’s married to his mother. However, regardless of whether he knows, he’s still caught up in these social structures and codes and they have a decisive impact on his life. The symbolic and the social is something that exceeds our intentions or ability to master and understand it, yet nonetheless is something we navigate and which impacts our lives. The issue with language is that it introduces lack into the world. A signifier can signify absence. This is a necessary conditions for the possibility of any signifier to function as a signifier. The signifier is thus based on an a priori absence… Not the absence of this or that things, but absence as such without anything absent. As such, once we are introduced into the symbolic, a lack is introduced into the world that can’t be filled. We think this lack is a loss. If this lack were a loss, then it would be something we once had and could regain or something we could find and be complete. Lacan’s point is that this lack is irredemiable and can never be filled. As such, there’s a tragic dimension to his conception of desire. It’s not a question of looking elsewhere, but of coming to see that there is no thing that could fill this lack.

    I wasn’t suggesting that Deleuze and Guattari or Negri and Hardt think of desire in terms of lack. You’re right, they do not. They think of it as productivity. Deleuzian desire is closer to Lacanian drive than desire. What I was saying is that they’re also able to account for how we come to conceive ourselves in terms of lack. It would be absurd to suggest that persons don’t experience themselves in terms of lack. Empirically it’s obvious that we do, and this has to be accounted for. Deleuze and Guattari’s point is more subtle. They accuse psychoanalysis of falling into a sort of paralogism that confuses causes and effects, treating lack as the cause of desire rather than discerning how desire is the cause of lack. The idea, as I understand it, is that the desiring-syntheses made in the unconscious prior to lack are the condition for the possibility of experiencing ourselves in terms of lack.

    Here I think Deleuze and Guattari are very empiricist (in David Hume’s sense) and very Freudian. With regard to Freud you will recall that the unconscious knows no negation or contradiction. It’s just a series of connections and relays. The Freudian unconscious functions not according to the displacement of a lack along a chain of signifiers, but rather through a distribution of unequal forces equalizing themselves along the neuronal connections. There is no lack or absence here. Now what’s important in this case is the connections. This is where Deleuze and Guattari are close to Hume. Hume had argued that each impression or sensation leaves a trace in memory. Freud picks this thesis up (I don’t know if he ever directly read Hume), and argues that the psychic system seeks to repeat the affect of pleasure produced by the impression by repeating the trace left in memory. The problem is that the quanta of pleasure produced by the repetition of the trace in memory is never equivalent to the original experience. The experience is a priori non-repeatable, or rather each repetition differs, and is therefore experienced as a loss (even though it’s the loss of something we never had). This is what I mean when I say that lack is produced as an effect of prior syntheses that themselves had nothing to do with lack.

    Like

    Comment by larvalsubjects — 27 November 2007 @ 7:42 pm

  48. Thanks for elaborating on the code idea, Larvalsubjects. Oedipus operates inside the societal codes and structures and as king he enforces them, even when he proves to be the violator, even when his violation is unintentional. The punchline of the tragedy is the revelation, previously thought not to exist, of a real event, a specific historical instantiation toward which the abstract structure of signifiers points. The hidden signified operates like fate, affecting lives even though it has never been recognized as actually happening. It is a loss that leads to a lack, but it’s an actual event of losing that’s identified and that has consequences. We can regard Oedipus as a myth, as something intended to assuage our sense of living inside an incomplete story, a sense that something is missing that moves us through these seemingly meaningless traversals of the world. But then in our lucid moments we’d know that the myth is an invention, that our father never really wanted to kill us, nor did we really want to kill him. These are personal myths concocted to complete our incomplete personal histories and to explain why we chanced upon our haphazard trajectories.

    “Language introduces lack.” Presumably this isn’t just by introducing signifiers that don’t to anything, or that point specifically to nothing. Something about the mental transformation of the Real via the abstraction of language is what the lack is — the separation of self from the environment, if you like the castration of whatever extension of ourselves would otherwise reach extend into the Real. I don’t think signifiers float free of signifieds; they’re multiply and loosely linked, so they do slip and slide around, but they do maintain contact with the world, or with mental abstractions about the world. But it’s this very process of abstraction that sets us at a distance from the world. WE float free, and our signifiers are all we have available to simulate penetration of the Real. Something like that anyway.

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 28 November 2007 @ 12:43 pm

  49. “The idea, as I understand it, is that the desiring-syntheses made in the unconscious prior to lack are the condition for the possibility of experiencing ourselves in terms of lack.”

    I’ll have to track that down in A-O, though without an index it’s hard to find anything in particular. I can’t recall if they regard the prior desiring-synthesis as inevitable or generated by a particular set of socio-historical circumstances associated with capital and a specifically market-induced desire.

    “The problem is that the quanta of pleasure produced by the repetition of the trace in memory is never equivalent to the original experience. The experience is a priori non-repeatable, or rather each repetition differs, and is therefore experienced as a loss (even though it’s the loss of something we never had).”

    That would seem to make loss intrinsic to the human condition. I suppose the question is whether some pleasures persist or even increase with repetition, such that the person has some reason to expect the repetition to be something other than disappointing. You’d think that a perpetually-disappointed pleasure apparatus would have led our hominid ancestors into either a self-destructive funk or a pursuit of dangerous pleasures, either of which would have been extinguished through natural selection.

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 28 November 2007 @ 3:55 pm

  50. Some pleasures are less intense after the first experience — this might be the case for the more “visceral” pleasures like taste and sex and mood-altering substances. Then there are the more “refined” pleasures like love, discovery, creation and communication, which tend to intensify before they start to degrade. It’s conceivable that deriving sustained pleasure from these more distinctly human activities would have been adaptive in the human evolutionary environment, where flexible adaptation and learning are the name of the game. If so, then these kinds of pleasures would be intrinsic, organic, and basic, rather than sublimations of other more primary drives.

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 28 November 2007 @ 6:14 pm

  51. “Some pleasures are less intense after the first experience — this might be the case for the more “visceral” pleasures like taste and sex and mood-altering substances.”

    This is your Christian guilt, Clysmatics. My sexual and gastronomical explorations get better every goddam day. Like I just figured out how to make a Strawberry Tart with the Classic Sugar Crust and Kirsch-Imbued Creme Patissiere. And I frequent places where I do all sorts of things you would just love to do if you weren’t so besotted with guilt. And I do all these things with an oscillation of moderation and excess. The love and creativity grow out of these things, not the other way around. That’s what French culture is all about, and even Norman Mailer admitted living in Paris when young would be one of the few things he would re-do if re-doing his life. Well, I got to do that when I was 19 and 20, and Arpege had to wait till she was be-pruned and too old to pick up hot cock–so you can learn much from me, but you won’t, of course; you have already been corrupted by family values. Underneath your veneer of rectitude and responsibility is a wild homo longing to sing the ‘Song of the Loon’ with some lonesome cowboy..

    Like

    Comment by jonquille de camembert — 28 November 2007 @ 8:37 pm

  52. Do you think you need to add creative touches to these sensory pleasures in order to keep them fresh? The tart sounds exquisite, but do you still get the same pleasure out of a simple naked strawberry as you did when you were a country boy picking them fresh from the vine, or whatever it is that strawberries grow on? From an evolutionary standpoint I wouldn’t really expect pleasures to diminish with repetition, except for physically addictive pleasures where larger and larger doses are required. Yet this diminution of pleasure appears to be a widespread experience. How do you account for it, Jonquille — lack of imagination, or too much imagination?

    Tonight I did a basic meal — sauteed lamb loin with red wine moutarde sauce, mashed taters, asperge, and I have to say it tasted as good as I’d hoped it would. If I ate that meal every day I’m sure it would get old after about the second day. Variety is the spice of life?

    I don’t believe I know Song of the Loon. Could you hum a few bars?

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 28 November 2007 @ 9:14 pm

  53. ‘but do you still get the same pleasure out of a simple naked strawberry as you did when you were a country boy picking them fresh from the vine, or whatever it is that strawberries grow on?’

    Yes, I do, or rather it is qualitatively on the same level–just more suited for adult refinement, without those requisite Huck Finn fantasies I see you’re still attached to. People are always thinking they ‘really’ cannot recapture childhood. We had a persimmon tree in Alabama that had naturalized, but we never seemed to find an edible piece of fruit on that OR on the occasional pomegranate tree. Therefore, with all this abundant natural vegetables and fruits that we did have, I discovered persimmons and pomegranated THIS YEAR–in fucking Chinatown–and made Persimmon Pudding for Thanksgiving, while my sister doesn’t even know what part of the pomegranate that you eat, and so just uses them for decoration. The point is to keep discovering new things. I knew a fine pianist/composer when I was about 25 and he was about 50, and he went on about ‘loss of wonder’. That was because he was a masochist and in love with that exquisite melancholic disorder that loves the sense of loss. I bothered with no such thing, and am now older than he was then, and 100 times better-looking, plus full of wonder at almost all times! That’s why I’ve been able to collaborate with Dejan to produce the ongoing opera ‘Arpegeleria Rusticana’ while going on about other things while he fantasizes that I’m his husband…

    “Yet this diminution of pleasure appears to be a widespread experience. How do you account for it, Jonquille — lack of imagination,”

    It is both the lack of imagination, poor education when it comes to discriminating among many choices, and the love of sadness that is cultivated among many persons as they proceed into an inevitable love of sub-prime mortgages instead of ‘basic’ pork loin dinners–that is NOT a basic dinner, but rather one that required some careful preparation.

    ‘except for physically addictive pleasures where larger and larger doses are required.’

    This is the kind of area where you accept conventional wisdom too quickly. It probably applies mostly to drugs, because the more sex I need, the better it gets! It does not lead to pain unless it is combined with actual drugs. Overeating, though, would apply to your formula, because gluttony leads to sorrow. Actually, too much sex will too unless you make sure to get a lot of exercise.

    Like

    Comment by jonquille de camembert — 28 November 2007 @ 10:59 pm

  54. I too am an enthusiast for culture, not crassly reduced to “product” nor even restricted to the arts, but all the ways in which humans transform themselves and their environment. That transformation may involve physical manipulation of the world, or it might be a matter of aesthetic appreciation or contemplation or sensory savor. The Freudian biological orientation often reduces man to an animal like any other, with the same drives and appetites. The cognitivists often reduce man to mind and culture to a work of thought divorced from the body. But man is biologically equipped to create culture, not just in the nature of the world but in the nature of himself. As you say, Jonquille, we can cultivate our appetites, refine our tastes, transform ourselves culturally. Maybe the fading of sensory pleasure affects primarily those who wish either to transcend their organic selves through pure mind or to return to some imaginary realm of the raw inhuman animal.

    I’m encouraged by your persistent sense of wonder, which in the current state of persistent sadness I’ve been cultivating seems to have fallen by the wayside. I recently dined at a new restaurant and ordered the duck breast roulade with pomegranate glaze. There were a few pomegranate seeds scattered on top, but they tasted like they’d come from a specimen that had spent too long serving as a decoration — none of that big flavor of a fresh one. The duck was excellent however. Pomegranate = pomme de Granada,” so I guess it’s Spanish or at least Mediterranean.

    “O that thou wert as my brother, that sucked the breasts of my mother! When I should find thee without, I would kiss thee; yea, I should not be despised. I would lead thee, and bring thee into my mother’s house, who would instruct me: I would cause thee to drink of spiced wine of the juice of my pomegranate. His left hand should be under my head, and his right hand should embrace me. I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love, until he please.” (Song of Solomon 8:1-4)

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 29 November 2007 @ 8:09 am

  55. ‘Maybe the fading of sensory pleasure affects primarily those who wish either to transcend their organic selves through pure mind or to return to some imaginary realm of the raw inhuman animal.’

    Yes, to the first, but I don’t know why they wouldn’t just commit suicide and keep thinking or something. But the second can actually be another variation on the cultivation of appetites and can also bring about greater intensities. However, it is fraught with peril, and can lead the experimenters into a labyrinth, so it is important to keep the mind tuned well as one performs various ‘becomings-animal’. There are many techniques for this–for example, if you think your becoming-equine is, in fact, a mere becoming-Gregor-Samsa-dung-beetle, all you have to do is accept this very quickly, and you are back on the right tracks–but you wouldn’t know before the acceptance of rats and dungbeetles that they disappear in the presence of higher animals. And if they don’t–then just KILL THEM! especially all city vermin like mice and rats, toward which I am always merciless, and people who try to save rats’ lives should be incarcerated.

    Agree with most of what you say at Dejan’s about continuing to make better products, none of this negative crap that Kenoma was writing. In that sense, in spirit at least, I agree with some of k-punk’s ideas, but with ‘The Sopranos’ alone, we already saw Teevee grow up all the way.

    That Song of Solomon passage is gorgeous. I’m so glad mention of pomegranates made you put it in. I am now considering reading some more of ‘
    Song of Solomon’. I’ve spent too much time on I and II Kings, because I love to read about Jezebel…who, by the way, wrote a most amusing line for me this morning that I quoted at Dejan’s…she’s occasionally clever, but really did have to be put in a Herpetarium, because kept biting young cock.

    Like

    Comment by jonquille de camembert — 29 November 2007 @ 10:10 am

  56. Pomegranates, by the way, do not shew their ripeness by becoming-softnesses. They is ripe when they is a certain red colour…and even then, they is best chosen by a young Mexican or some such, as employed by one’s greengrocer. It is only the seeds you eat, and even then the crunchiness makes the crimson silky seeds a bit difficult to acquire a taste for, so that if you use them, you should sweeten them overnight. As you note, they’ve become popular in sauces, and work well with bechamels sometimes, with a little curry and very good on poached salmon, but this should be strictly done, not experimented with, because pomegranates are very singular. they don’t ‘behave well’ like apples and pears, etc.

    Like

    Comment by jonquille de camembert — 29 November 2007 @ 10:16 am

  57. clysmatics i hope you’re not going to put up with this from kretinoma

    ktismatics seems like a nice guy, but quite ingenuous, which is probably not the best attitude for a budding psychonalyst to have.

    Like

    Comment by parodycenter — 29 November 2007 @ 10:45 am

  58. “it is important to keep the mind tuned well as one performs various ‘becomings-animal’.”

    I recall the first (= only?) time I took mescaline, I had the sense of being wolflike as I walked through the lanes of my university and emerged, somewhat warily, onto the larger streets where the cars shone brightly and moved noisily on their linear trajectories. It was not at all an alien sensation; more like the wolf-man hybrid that I might naturally be, at least underneath. Probably I was just stoned like k-punk.

    Well, Parodycenter, there are worse things than being an ingenuous nice guy. And to be called a budding anything at my age is rather flattering.

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 29 November 2007 @ 10:57 am

  59. Personally, I think Kretinoma should start a General Services Human Resources Corporation, from which she can place all kinds of professions, being omniscient. Can call it ‘Central Office Arpege–the MooVee’, since neither of these bitches does anything but rave on and on with PMS problems.

    Like

    Comment by jonquille de camembert — 29 November 2007 @ 10:58 am

  60. I do wish someone with more traditional Marxist sensibilities would come forward with a direct critique of the Nietzschean left agenda as in Hardt & Negri on this post and also Deleuze. It seems that any pathway that doesn’t entail armed proletarian revolution is indistinguishable from neoliberalism, and anything that extols excellence at the expense of crass common tastes is indistinguishable from master race mentality. I understand that all this goes without saying among the cognoscenti, but we nice ingenuous types really would like to hear it straight, without the sarcasm substituting for clarity of exposition.

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 29 November 2007 @ 11:16 am

  61. “It seems that any pathway that doesn’t entail armed proletarian revolution is indistinguishable from neoliberalism, and anything that extols excellence at the expense of crass common tastes is indistinguishable from master race mentality.”

    Yes. that’s all they ever say, and that’s why nobody lets them in their clubs.

    ‘understand that all this goes without saying among the cognoscenti, but we nice ingenuous types really would like to hear it straight, without the sarcasm substituting for clarity of exposition.’

    There you are flattering the prolistics again, calling them cognoscenti, when they are just drunk bullshitters that the real cognoscenti ban from their websites as well as clubs. They will NEVER give it to you straight, and you really are asking for hell if you keep asking, because wasting your time is what they want to do. Dejan already hit a nerve with ‘communocapitaliam’, which freaked kretinoma’s ass out, and they don’t want to hear from people who actually lived in the system. In my case, of course, being around these people just turned me into a Nazi, because that is Arpege’s great gift, to manufacture Nazis who are repelled by Commie toilet paper…but once Dejan told them about what it was like in the Commie beauty, they couldn’t stand it, and went out to Gerard Depardieu’s restaurant and got drunk on expensive Pommards…

    Like

    Comment by jonquille de camembert — 29 November 2007 @ 11:31 am

  62. hi

    ktismatics, sorry i didn’t follow up on that comment i made a while back, i probably won’t really be into the swing of things again for the next couple weeks.

    but i wanted to respond to your call for critiques of hardt & negri. these are some i’ve read from a while ago:

    malcolm bull

    lenin’s tomb

    this thing from interactivist

    and this one, probably the most thorough

    if you want to read a whole book (it is short) ellen meiksins wood’s ’empire of capital’ is a good counterpoint to h&n as well.

    the major points of contention are their ideas of the role of the state and their analysis of the information economy.

    hopefully i can come back later with my 2 cents.

    Like

    Comment by traxus4420 — 2 December 2007 @ 3:43 pm

  63. Thanks very much Traxus. You’re right, I have been looking for just this sort of thing. I’ll review these over the next few days and maybe write some thoughts about them here.

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 2 December 2007 @ 4:26 pm

  64. this is also good on inter-marxist controversies, from e.m. wood.

    Like

    Comment by traxus4420 — 2 December 2007 @ 5:30 pm

  65. Traxus have you ever met Hardt? He’s at Duke isn’t he?

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 2 December 2007 @ 6:16 pm

  66. yes i have. he’s a really nice and smart guy, and just as confused by zizek as everyone else.

    no really close involvement though.

    Like

    Comment by traxus4420 — 2 December 2007 @ 7:08 pm

  67. also i’m reading his and negri’s book ‘multitudes’ at the moment so hopefully one of us will post and we can have a post-neo-whatever-marxist party.

    Like

    Comment by traxus4420 — 2 December 2007 @ 7:10 pm

  68. Okay, I’ve read Bull, Leninino, the Interactivist, and Wood, all of which were interesting. The long one about biolabor I started but it’s too long for me to get through right now. I’ll come back to each in turn and think out loud about them.

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 3 December 2007 @ 11:25 am

  69. Re the nation: I don’t know if you’ve been following the latest histronics fest over at Rabbit Eater’s, but the current tension building up around Kosovo is a good illustration. The old Yugoslavia was original and a precedent in many ways, but most conspicuously in the way it promoted nationalism/particularism under the guise of federalism/cosmopolitism. You must have already read about this at the Parody Center. There are several questions in this regard: a) is the Empire doing the same, i.e. breeding nationalism under these new-fangled universalist guises (which would forcibly explain the current right-wing Renaissance in the States)?; b) how does this relate to the Apocalypse narrative or the Babylonia tale; c) what would be Deleuze’s answer? K-punk wrote somewhere that we must embrace deterritorialization, following Marx’s dictum. But do we really find any really-existing equivalent to Deleuze’s desiring machines on the political plane?

    Like

    Comment by parodycenter — 3 December 2007 @ 5:32 pm

  70. As I understand them, Hardt & Negri contend that nationalism is increasingly less important to sustaining Empire, that cross-national flows of capital and labor are the driving forces of global capitalism. In such a world H&N see the importance of local resistances and eruptions of revolutionary worker energy, which conceivably would include nationalistic worker movements. But I think they see greater potential in distributed flows and networks than in geographically concentrated pockets of resistance. Nationalism tends to restrict flows of people and money, which H&N see as crucial to anti-Empire. As they acknowledge, however, it’s also crucial to Empire. So I’m confused.

    Nationalism seems to restrict movement of people rather than money. So US nationalism restricts in-migration of Mexican workers but fails to restrict activity of multinational corporations in moving production capabilities to countries with lower-wage workforces. In more socialistic countries nationalism is an effort by the rich to prevent sharing their wealth with the poor, as you’ve pointed out was the case with Slovenia. And I believe you’ve mentioned that Slovenia has also pumped capital investment into Kosovo, so that like the US the Slovenian corporate interests can take advantage of a lower-wage workforce. I haven’t been following the Rabbit Eater discussion, so maybe if there’s something there that’s relevant to this discussion you can enlighten me here or point me to some comments there.

    I can’t quite understand the EU’s interest in opening borders between rich and poor countries rather than reinforcing the boundary restrictions and pumping capital investment money into Eastern Europe. Chirac was explicit about building a counterweight against American economic dominance — maybe American corporations are better equipped to exploit low-wage countries than their Western European counterparts, who often have strong representation from Labor on their directorial boards. So they’ll tolerate deterritorialization of labor as the next-best thing, allowing free movement of low-wage Eastern workers into the high-wage West. Even Slovenia has to allow in-migration of low-wage labor, doesn’t it?

    Can you tell me more about what you’re thinking with respect to the Apocalypse and Babylonian narratives?

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 4 December 2007 @ 2:25 am

  71. Nationalism tends to restrict flows of people and money, which H&N see as crucial to anti-Empire. As they acknowledge, however, it’s also crucial to Empire.

    Yes I felt also that they’ve fallen into their mouths on this issue, and saying merely that every sword cuts both ways is a bit simplistic for my money. I am thinking of my everyday observation that Western nations are actually extremely nationalistic, but the strong and rich market keeps that from manifesting itself in a self-destructive way. The internationalism seems to me as merely poseuring, because the globalist culture actually imposes Western systems and values. Just because Coca Cola has ”local editions” for its outposts in the world doesn’t mean that it’s not selling the Western Weltanschauung that is to say Western capitalism.

    So they’ll tolerate deterritorialization of labor as the next-best thing, allowing free movement of low-wage Eastern workers into the high-wage West.

    I don’t know yet where that one is going. In Holland there was a lot of resistance to the recent Polish influx, but that may be just a question of time as Western Europe definitely needs fresh workforce if it is to sustain economic growth.

    nd I believe you’ve mentioned that Slovenia has also pumped capital investment into Kosovo, so that like the US the Slovenian corporate interests can take advantage of a lower-wage workforce.

    No actually Slovenia never wanted to pay for Kosovo, that was one of the main reasons they left Yugoslavia – that the federation required them to pay into the development budget for Kosovo. But right now Slovenia is upset like anyone else in the Balkans because Kosovar independence might jeopardize the precarious balance accomplished in the past decade, which would for example damage Slovenia’s exports to Yugoslavia (still the more important resource for their economy). This I find hypocritical because Kosovo wants to do exactly what Slovenia did twenty years ago, and yet dr. Zizek feels they don’t have the right…

    Can you tell me more about what you’re thinking with respect to the Apocalypse and Babylonian narratives?

    Well God sent a bolt of lightning on Babylonia because people wanted to speak one language (globalism). And the crux of conspiracy theories is a Communist conspiracy to build ”the world government”.

    Like

    Comment by parodycenter — 4 December 2007 @ 3:58 am

  72. I haven’t been following the Rabbit Eater discussion, so maybe if there’s something there that’s relevant to this discussion you can enlighten me here or point me to some comments there.

    well the Marxian Cobra was on her usual anti-Zizek spree, reprimanding him (justly) for the way he championed the erasure of non-Slovenlian citizens after the breakup of Yugoslavia. But I noticed that she was using the term ”Muslim” (parodied as Moozlim) and had to draw her attention to history; namely, this term is an invention of the Titoist constitution (co-written by the Slovene Edvard Kardelj) which gave the status of a nation to islamic Serbs and Croats. In this way the Communist constitution fostered nationalism, because the ”Muslims” later used it to claim their right to an independent Bosnia (same thing happening in Kosovo). At this point the Rabbit Eater, who is normally composed, serious and rational, found himself insulted by my bashing of Communism and all the numerous ways it assisted the victory of Neoliberalism. He called me a Nazi, too, for suggesting that certain factions of the Islamic society can be quite fascist, because you see in the Cobra, Leninuni and Rabbit’s Communist utopia, Islam is impeccable (the one thing you will NEVER get from Sherbert is a thorough criticism of Islam). Jonquille jumped to my rescue, which reinvigorated the 9-11 debates: how Qlipoth even goes so far as to suggest that Al Quaeda Bin Laden and islamic terrorism don’t exist, all in the name of this Leftist Islamophilia. In the conclusion I reminded the Rabbit Eater that he is repressing his anal desire and projecting it onto the Parody Center, where he indulges in his more psychoanalytic motives even as he vehemently disses them in other places. This in turn earned him a new nickname – Rabbit Shitter. There was also a link to this old discussion between Sherbert and K-punk, where K-punk qualified her as a sentimental capitalist posing as a socialist, precisely because of her idealization of Islam, which K-punk ascribes to a large portion of the British Left (like the SWP).

    Like

    Comment by parodycenter — 4 December 2007 @ 4:32 am

  73. The American Stranger also participated, full of sarcasm, switching allegiances between the three of us in accordance with the programing of his iPod shuffle; I later explained to Jonquille that the Mistress has a special wireless system connecting an intelligent chip in her labia with Childie’s lips, so that whenever he tries to lick something else or say something against Missus’s opinion, the labia send an i-shock to Childie’s eardrums. All this as part of his upcoming oral serfdom at the Chabert Xanadu.

    Like

    Comment by parodycenter — 4 December 2007 @ 4:36 am

  74. “…that cross-national flows of capital and labor are the driving forces of global capitalism. In such a world H&N see the importance of local resistances and eruptions of revolutionary worker energy, which conceivably would include nationalistic worker movements”

    What I’m seeing in India and in China now is that there is minimal investment from MNCs. They much prefer to ‘partner’ with the strongest of the existing manufacturing facilities. One also sees a lot of ‘technology transfer’ and other euphemistic stuff that basically means that factories that are defunct in the West are being imported whole by the developing country where neither excess pollution nor excess labor are issues.

    The result for labor, interestingly, is that these locally grown giants do pay a higher wage and do have opportunities for exporting temporary labor to developed countries. Those who go on this temp basis do get to earn significantly more for a short time and then they have to come home, but now with enough cash in hand to live well above the local middle class standard, and many find this to be a good compromise, so that, in effect, there is no net export of labor either. Naturally the flow of capital is also minimised.

    In other words, the MNCs have already neutralised any nascent H&N trends before they can happen.

    Like

    Comment by samlcarr — 4 December 2007 @ 5:41 am

  75. Regarding nationalism, it’s been said that the English think of themselves as British while the Scottish see themselves as Scottish. Similarly only the Austrians saw themselves as Austro-Hungarians — maybe only the Serbs saw themselves as Yugoslavians? Maybe only Americans could think of themselves as globalists because they dominate the alliance. Hardt & Negri point out how wealthy nations derive profit from low-wage workers in poor nations until such time as the poor nation catches up, at which point it joins the association of rich nations and looks for still-poor nations to exploit. This works only so long as the rich nation maintains the security of its borders, preventing poor workers from flowing in. Nationalism helps the rich nations in this regard, providing motivation to keep the outsiders out.

    But Kosovo isn’t a wealthy place is it? I thought Slovenia didn’t want to finance Kosovan increases in standard of living through redistribution of wealth, much as West Germans have grown tired of financing East Germany.

    Regarding the Tower of Babel, I’ve read interpretations saying that God confused the languages so different peoples would be motivated to establish their own nations, thereby assuring multiplexity to the eventual utopian unification of all nations. I.e., God is a multiculti Empire-builder rather than a monocultural hegemon.

    I’ve not looked into the idea that the CIA or Cheney was complicit and not just negligent in the 9/11 events, mostly because it seems so implausible and there seemed to be other less self-destructive ways of achieving neocon momentum. It is remarkable, though, that no subsequent al-Qaida activities have come anywhere near the impressively coordinated destruction they accomplished in NY.

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 4 December 2007 @ 4:56 pm

  76. I read somewhere that MNCs tend to invest in or buy out existing production facilities rather than building new ones. I presume that would mean buying into these local facilities rather than acquiring them outright — probably less politically objectionable, plus it spreads capital across a broader spectrum of investments. I agree that the MNCs are doing for Empire what H&N would invoke as strategy for anti-Empire. This is the reason why so many leftists regard H&N and fellow neo-Marxists as neoliberals in disguise.

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 4 December 2007 @ 5:00 pm

  77. […] was tempted by “d’s” (who I’m really curious about) suggestion that I throw a (b)log into a discussion coming out of some of Negri’s work (I wonder…is that’s ‘d’s’ blog?). The discussion is an interesting one, but in spite of […]

    Like

    Pingback by Naval Gazing 101 — dionysus stoned — 6 December 2007 @ 5:13 pm


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: