Ktismatics

24 February 2008

On Getting It Up

Filed under: Psychology, Reflections — ktismatics @ 9:25 am

(I first wrote this as a comment on the Body Double post, but I’ll go ahead and give it its own place of consideration separate from the movie.)

The advantage of neoliberalism and its optimistic decide-plan-act psychological underpinning is that it establishes a basis for me to ACT without having to worry about whether I’m my own agent or the puppet of either larger or smaller forces that control me without my being aware of it. In a structuralist world I constantly have to turn the hermeneutics of suspicion not just on everyone else but on myself: why do I want to do this, what makes me want it, etc. So finally I say fuck it, I’m doing this thing anyway because I feel like it, or think it’s the right thing to do, or whatever happens to be my motivation. And as soon as I walk out the door I find myself surrounded by strangers who also have to DO SOMETHING in order for my own project to succeed. So, do I rely on their kindness, turning my ass to the sky and hoping they like what they see? Or do I rely on the passivity of strangers, forcing my project up their asses whether they like it or not because they don’t have the strength or the will to resist?

In my experience, being a Blanche DuBois and relying on the kindness of strangers is a recipe for failure. Most strangers aren’t actively mean; they’re mostly indifferent. It’s that very indifference which makes them vulnerable to aggression and salesmanship: they want to participate in action, but passively, as part of the audience or the mob. Appealing repeatedly to their kindness often brings out the passive-aggressive sadistic impulse in them: fine, if you’re going to keep offering your ass, I might as well stick something in it, since there’s no demand that I return the favor.

Is this binary the only possibility? No, there’s also withdrawal, the refusal to engage as either top or bottom. I put my project out there and it stands alone as mute testimony to my impotence to get/force anyone to notice. This I think is my usual position. I expect people to see my project and to respond to it, without anyone shoving anything up each others’ asses. And what I find is that people do not respond, that passively indifferent self-absorption is the characteristic stance of the stranger.

The ideology of immanence — Deleuze & Guattari’s rhizomes, Hardt & Negri’s multitude, maybe also Agamben’s whatever-being (haven’t read it so I don’t really know) — relies not on the kindness of strangers but on their resonance: that they will pay attention to what’s going on around them and engage proactively and cooperatively and creatively in what draws their attention. But everything clamors for the strangers’ attention. A lot of cultural products demand only a passive assent, facilitating the agglomeration of isolated individuals who together constitute a marketplace or an audience. Immanence seems to demand too much of people — it demands that they be not just consumers but AGENTS. Bending over and inviting my ass for penetration lets them be agents, but at my expense. Making them bend over while I shove my product up their ass, maybe using a little butter and soothing words to make it slip in smoothly, making the consumers believe they’re experiencing anal orgasm while I’m the only one who’s getting off? Or better yet, just shoving it in and letting them get off of the pain? Tempting, but I don’t think I’ve got the temperament for it; besides, I object on ideological grounds.

Dejan said it, and I admit it: I’m like Jake in the coffin in Body Double — paralyzed, can’t get up out of my coffin. But this whole identify-with-the-sadist strategy of getting it up is neither how I want to proceed nor how I believe I ought to proceed. What else? Optimistic decide-plan-act, carrying a stick of butter around with me at all times? Making more of a concession to the marketplace, spreading my cheeks in a really alluring fashion? Fuck if I know what to do. But it’s the question, because I know the kindness of strangers is not to be relied upon.

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25 Comments »

  1. so if this has something of character of a question, I do my best NOT to answer it.

    In truth i don’t have any feeling either way, however i wonder what agamben might say.

    You’re evil bru…

    The advantage of neoliberalism and its optimistic decide-plan-act psychological underpinning is that it establishes a basis for me to ACT without having to worry about whether I’m my own agent or the puppet of either larger or smaller forces that control me without my being aware of it

    See, each of us has an innermost impotence, the possibility of not-being. Agamben tells us that “fleeing from our impotence, or rather trying to adopt it is as a weapon, we construct the malevolent power that oppresses those who show us weakness [as you might say, “if you’re going to keep offering your ass, I might as well stick something in it”]; and failing our innermost possibility of not being, we fall away from the only thing that makes love possible”. For the birth in God of love, creation itself, “is not the victorious struggle of a power to be against a power to not-be; it is rather the impotence of god with respect to his own impotence, his allowing – being able to not not-be – a contingency to be”. Evil then is only our “inadequate reaction” to this innermost impotence, “our fearful retreat from it in order to exercise – founding ourselves in this flight – some power of being.” (tcc 31)

    But ktsmatics, if we see in you the mark of the devil, our gospel also reminds us that, for Spinoza, “the devil is only the weakest of creatures and the most distant from god; as such – that is, insofar as the devil is essentially impotent – not only can he do us no harm, but on the contrary it is what most needs our help and prayers”.

    But what shall that prayer be?

    a prayer for ease bru… a prayer for ease.

    Casting us into the Talmud, agamben, tells of a coming substitution. He reminds us that for each of us there is said to be two places in both Eden and Gehenna (or in the bible, “”in their land they receive double,” and of the unjust, “Destroy them with a double destruction””). Thus “the just person, after being found innocent, receives a place in Eden plus that of a neighbor who was damned. The unjust person after being judged guilty receive a place in hell plus that of a neighbor who was saved”. The point here is not the “cartographic distinction between Eden and Gehennam”, but instead, that fact that “at the point when one reaches one’s final state and fulfills ones own destiny, one finds oneself in for that very reason in the place of the neighbor.”

    This is what the original community of Badaliya knew. Taking the name ‘substitution’ (the Arabic for substitution is Badaliya) its members vowed to live “substituting themselves for someone else, that is, to be Christians in the pace of others”. In Agamben’s world, this “substituting oneself for another does not mean compensating for what the other lacks, nor correcting his or her errors, but exiling oneself to the other as he or she is in order to offer Christ hospitality in the others soul, in the others own taking-place. This substitution no longer knows a place of its own, but a taking-place of every single being is already common – an empty space offered to the one, irrevocable hospitality”. This is nothing less than an act whose “secret intention” is the “destruction of the wall dividing Eden and Gehenna”. For the communing community, our Badaliya, “there is no place that is not vicarious”, and where “Eden and Gehenna are only the names of this reciprocal substitution”. To believe that the individual is unsubstitutable is hypocritical rubbish. Against the mythologies of “universal representablity, Badaliya, thus “presents and unconditional substitution, without either representation of possible description – an absolutely unrepresentable community”

    This “multimple common place”, “that each person inevitably receives”, “is nothing but the coming to itself of each singularity, its being whatever – in other words, such as it is” . The “proper name” for this space is ease…”the empty place where each can move freely”. (TCC 23-35)

    This K is only ground for now almost empty adage, ‘love thy neighbor’, and not, at any rate, the insipid generality of the church’s love. Here kindness itself would lose meaning since we find ourselves, as always, already in the place of the other.

    (got really wrong and i didn’t feel like proofing so excuse any fuckups in that respect)

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    Comment by dionysusstoned — 24 February 2008 @ 6:19 pm

  2. […]  [Ktismatics post has something of the character of a question. This response, below, is my best attempt at not answering it.] In truth i don’t have any feeling either way, however i wonder what agamben might say. […]

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    Pingback by dionysus stoned » Ease… — 24 February 2008 @ 6:34 pm

  3. maybe better to read it on my blog…there are lots of fuckups. i claim dyslexia

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    Comment by dionysusstoned — 24 February 2008 @ 6:50 pm

  4. Is there a necessity to either woo or to rape? Are these the only two alternatives that precede action?

    Like

    Comment by samlcarr — 24 February 2008 @ 8:00 pm

  5. Nice post btw

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    Comment by samlcarr — 24 February 2008 @ 8:00 pm

  6. it sounds more like yoú’re using post-structuralist questioning to plug into your system of obsessive ruminations, all serving as defenses of some sort, not that there’s something wrong per se with the post-structuralism. i also agree with the simulated car that the choice is not binary, so there are probably good things about neolib optimism as well as lacanian pessimism. nevertheless i can’t get over the way you started licking jonquille’s feet at that reprimand concerning the book.

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    Comment by parodycenter — 24 February 2008 @ 8:07 pm

  7. DS this is clear but deep and moving water, and I have to spend more time in it before I can respond properly. I see the idea of letting be, of not fighting my own impotence, but this is an exacting discipline that tries my patience and I no longer feel sure it’s the right way to go. Action WITHIN impotence is the paradox, where there is neither exploiter nor exploited. Is this malevolent power really a construction, an act of personal agency, or does it arise from situations and interactions? It seems like one has to resist this power rather than to create it. I have to go to sleep now, so I suspect by the morning something will have worked itself along a little bit farther and I’ll have more to say.

    For me to explore the nature of my obsessive ruminations and undefined defenses is to turn the hermeneutic of suspicion on myself. Now I not only have to answer the questions I pose but to explore more deeply the reasons I’m asking them. I can act from ease when it’s just me that has to do something, but when I encounter the indifferent or malevolent other I often find myself frustrated, acting decisively only when I get angry enough. It has worked in the past to get me moving, but it never really succeeds.

    Jonquille’s book had been on my mind anyway, an incomplete task that demands my attention. Time to act.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 24 February 2008 @ 10:44 pm

  8. “i can’t get over the way you started licking jonquille’s feet at that reprimand concerning the book.”

    He was not licking my feet by deciding to finish something that hadn’t been. This is your problem, Dejan. And your last post at CPC shows that it’s all YOUR victimization, the Kosovo thing, and you decide you’ll say that ‘my problem was the Paris Hilton thing’ versus ‘your Kosovo thing’, which is so babyish. I was developing my thoughts about Paris Hilton, and I will continue to do so, but OUT OF YOUR SIGHT. When I said ‘everybody has problems’, I meant your use of Kosovo as a vehicle for your own self-pity. That you have legitimate fears and concerns and grief about your parents and friends at home is a different matter. But what YOU do is cheapen it by doing a blog version of this and allying yourself with the stupidest of bloggers, Arpege Bin Laden, who has crucified you at every opportunity she has had. So when you deplore my ‘lack of EMPATHY’, maybe what it is is that I haven’t got time to play your little emasculated girl games. And stop acting surprised when people find me attractive. It’s perfectly normal of them (lol).

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    Comment by percy Q liquor — 24 February 2008 @ 11:07 pm

  9. Sorry about that. ‘Percy Q Liquor’ is a name Watusi Jenkins of West Hollywood came up with the other day, along with Betty Butterfield. He is hilarious, and I can’t tell whether a tranny or a black rapper. I used this name at Childie Bin Laden’s when I realized just how stellar this ‘Martin’ had been.

    Watusi Jenkins is teaching me either Ebonics or Rap Talk, I can’t tell what, but it is very funny.

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    Comment by jonquille de camembert — 24 February 2008 @ 11:12 pm

  10. I was developing my thoughts about Paris Hilton, and I will continue to do so, but OUT OF YOUR SIGHT.

    That’s HOT, darling.

    He was not licking my feet by deciding to finish something that hadn’t been.

    Yes he was. He prostrated himself like Vivian Leigh in front of Carl Malden:

    TARANTULA! TARANTULA WAS THE NAME OF IT! THAT’S WHERE I BROUGHT MY VICTIMS!

    Despite your having told her repeatedly that she’s not good enough to bring home to mother.

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    Comment by parodycenter — 25 February 2008 @ 3:44 am

  11. For me to explore the nature of my obsessive ruminations and undefined defenses is to turn the hermeneutic of suspicion on myself.

    Frances, Lacanian therapy, as you well know, necessitates a transferrential relationship; self-analysis is nearly impossible – that’s something you do in novels, maybe. If you feel your problem exceeds your powers of introspection, maybe you should consult dr. Sinthome. He’s always on the lookout for clients in the ever-dwindling circle of American psychoanalysis consumers.

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    Comment by parodycenter — 25 February 2008 @ 3:52 am

  12. He was not licking my feet by deciding to finish something that hadn’t been.

    I mean if he took that attitude to some actual gossip celebrity like Michael Musto instead of a Paris Hilton asswipe, maybe I could forgive him…

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    Comment by parodycenter — 25 February 2008 @ 3:57 am

  13. nah, k, it wasn’t meant to be meaningful…just playful. anyway i hope it gets better.

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    Comment by dionysusstoned — 25 February 2008 @ 5:30 am

  14. First I’ll describe my dream from last night. I was getting ready to go on an airplane flight (how obvious is that?). At the airport a staff member of the airline — maybe a stewardess — approached me: she said that the pilot couldn’t make it so she asked if I’d do the flight. Fine, I said, I’d be happy to. On the shuttle bus on the tarmac heading toward the plane I called the stewardess over. I can’t fly the plane; I don’t know how to fly an airplane. I was picturing myself going through the pre-flight systems check, like in the movies, and I realized I’d have no idea what to check for. At first I figured, how hard can it be to fly an airplane, but I have no idea how to do it. Another guy who’s on the shuttle, a friend from high school, a very self-assured sort of fellow, overhears this conversation. He’s incensed. NOW you tell us you don’t know how to fly? Why didn’t you say something before? You FOOL! And now I’m mad too, and so I make a lunge for this guy and start fighting him. Three or four African guys are on the shuttle, and calmly they separate us, saying it’s okay, it doesn’t matter. And I wake up.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 25 February 2008 @ 6:35 am

  15. Three or four African guys are on the shuttle, and calmly they separate us, saying it’s okay, it doesn’t matter.

    I sense that the part you repressed is that the pilot ended up forcing you to suck the African guys’ huge tools, a combination of repressed homoeroticism with inverted White Colonial Suprematism.

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    Comment by parodycenter — 25 February 2008 @ 8:59 am

  16. Well that’s one interpretation I hadn’t considered — which must mean I repressed it. Perhaps this could be a DePalma film version of my dream. The calm Africans I think might be some conflation of DionysusStoned, whose virtual acquaintance I’ve recently renewed, The Color Purple, which I watched a couple nights ago and which presents Africa as the source of calm strength, and maybe also Sam, who as I recall was born in Africa. Another association from life is that my wife took my daughter out for her first lesson in driving a car yesterday. In that instance I was like the absent pilot, since I didn’t go along for the ride, but in the dream I’m also my daughter confronting her inability to drive.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 25 February 2008 @ 9:22 am

  17. “I mean if he took that attitude to some actual gossip celebrity like Michael Musto instead of a Paris Hilton asswipe, maybe I could forgive him…”

    Oh well, that’s the official end then, I don’t care what happens to you now. You are now forbidden from me forever and under no circumstances will I be returning to your blog. I hope Arpege gives you all the punishment you deserve. I will never ever meet you, Dejan. I no longer even have an affection for you based on funny things, you’re just a vindictive queen who thinks you can make a living on parading as pitiful. You’re a troubled and unstable person and I am extremely sorry I sent you my books and CD.

    I was going to send you an email pronouncing all further communication over, but I don’t want the possibility of any spam coming in with your name on it. You were just jealous that John wanted my book. That I sent you the books and CD with quite a postage fee is of no importance to you, because in your usual style, you are desperate and needy in all directions. You’re pathetic, but at least you have Arpege. Hey, she’s lookin’ for some action, you know, thought she’d hook up with you now with Kosovo all in the news and she’s read up on it–I can’t wait till she turns it on you: But wait, she might not, because you now seem willing to go the whole emasculation route, and that is really all she requires out of someone–that he have his sex changed. For you, that won’t be a long stretch, of course.

    Your Parody Center is over. You can still do some sort of blog, but you haven’t the pizazz to really do anything sharp on your own. Congratulations on your re-entry into the lowest precincts of Communism.

    This is not a joke. You disgust me.

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    Comment by jonquille de camembert — 25 February 2008 @ 9:47 am

  18. “For the birth in God of love, creation itself, “is not the victorious struggle of a power to be against a power to not-be; it is rather the impotence of god with respect to his own impotence, his allowing – being able to not not-be – a contingency to be”. Evil then is only our “inadequate reaction” to this innermost impotence, “our fearful retreat from it in order to exercise – founding ourselves in this flight – some power of being.””

    Now I tend to believe this, DS, this allowing a contingency to be, not through force but through something like love as an immanent force that connects me to the other but that respects the other’s autonomy. On the other hand, I see the danger of this essentially passive position, not just to be violated by the malevolently forceful other but also to be ignored by the indifferent other to whom I am invisible and irrelevant. So at certain points I reconsider identifying with the sadistic other, like Jake in Body Double, in an attempt to make something happen through force. But ideologically I’d rather be in this position of loving impotence, allowing creation to come into being contingently, as the becoming-actual of the possible, as immanence made tangible. And then I worry that this is the self-justification of the weakling who can’t or won’t get it up.

    I was looking through your back pages the other day, DS, and came across some encounter you had with an autistic person. In effect he was challenging the claims of the neurologically normative who claim that by looking into the other’s eyes you can see who they are. But, says the autistic guy, what I bring is the unshakable awareness of the other AS OTHER, as someone you can never know, who is always set apart from you as an integral and unassailable entity. So here autism presents itself not as an illness but as a gift, a kind of special power reserved only to the few.

    I think my obsessive perseveration on the issues of action-inaction almost always reflect the even longer obsession with visibility-invisibility. Can I see something others cannot? If so, then how can others ever see what I can see? This paradox, this dilemma, this tragedy, might be my illness or handicap that I somehow cannot cure. But it might also be my gift, what drives my thinking and my writing, my own impotent superpower.

    “for Spinoza, “the devil is only the weakest of creatures and the most distant from god””

    But god’s strength is made perfect in weakness, as Agamben and Saint Paul observe. Maybe god’s magnificence is also made perfect in his invisibility — the movement toward the mystical sublime. This sort of paradox, where the devil is almost the alter-ego of god, brings about the moebius-like movement of impotence and power, of visibility and invisibility, that I find inescapably compelling.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 25 February 2008 @ 9:50 am

  19. Ktismatics: What else? Optimistic decide-plan-act, carrying a stick of butter around with me at all times? Making more of a concession to the marketplace, spreading my cheeks in a really alluring fashion? Fuck if I know what to do. But it’s the question, because I know the kindness of strangers is not to be relied upon.

    Try the will to power.

    Like

    Comment by Nietzsche — 25 February 2008 @ 9:55 am

  20. “to some actual gossip celebrity like Michael Musto instead of a Paris Hilton asswipe”

    You never linked to him anyway, but since you are ignorant in the matter, he would be more the original Paris Hilton asswipe, never says anything bad about her, and is often interviewed purely for his details on her. In fact, he wrote me that ‘I’ve NEVER been so hot as I’ve been since she was incarcerated’. I agree with Arpege: Go get yourself a good shrink. That’s what you need more than continually trying to analyze psychologists such as John, who has hurt your sissy feelings by not excluding me. For that, you are out of any contact with me forever. You claimed the other day that ‘it’s sometimes better to be a loser’, and then you went ahead and proved you meant it. Wow. WHAT an accomplishment.

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    Comment by jonquille de camembert — 25 February 2008 @ 9:55 am

  21. “self-analysis is nearly impossible – that’s something you do in novels, maybe.”

    That’s part of what happens in writing a novel or making a movie, though it’s usually better if it’s a side-benefit rather than the focus. Allowing the unconscious to speak, but then also interacting with it consciously, triggering more unconscious material to express itself — the process demands a splitting of the self that need not result in a more transcendent unified and enlightened ego at the end. The end isn’t necessarily arbitrary, but it’s also not final or eschatological.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 25 February 2008 @ 9:59 am

  22. k, apart from the unease of being a possible dream association, i’m enjoying this blog very much. i’m standing at the bad end of a work deadline, which is good since it gives me an excuse to be brief. But a few friends and i have something in the works (maybe we can call it a manifesto) which maybe speaks some of these questions – so, i will send it when its done.

    on a not altogether unrelated note, have you read Q, by luther blisset? if not something tells me you might enjoy it.

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    Comment by dionysusstoned — 25 February 2008 @ 11:46 am

  23. Q sounds bizarre, as does Luther Blisset. I’ll definitely track it down — thanks.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 25 February 2008 @ 10:35 pm

  24. I agree with Arpege: Go get yourself a good shrink.

    So you mean she was RIGHT in sending you medication?

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    Comment by parody center — 26 February 2008 @ 4:16 am

  25. So you mean she was RIGHT in sending you medication?

    How could she be RIGHT about that since she didn’t send it? She was RIGHT that you need several more shrinks.

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    Comment by jonquille de camembert — 26 February 2008 @ 10:02 am


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