Friday, April 30, 2010
There is no such thing as clean cuts. Rather, what one experiences is in fact merely a fallacy of discontinuity. Those who know this get on with the program and the continuity. This can have various forms of manifestation, all according to what 'the meanwhile' allows for, that is, the moment when going from vigilance to vulnerability is paved with stepping on uneven stones, which means that if you want to survive you have to start flying. But then flying has always been my specialty. I can fly so high that there is simply no goddamn thing that can touch me. Here in Tromsø, I did manage to get on with my program, in spite of cuts and hits, and being crushed by the sublime and having to ask why, and really all the time. All these speculations. You fly over them. Sticking to knowing what you know inspires.
Even before I put the full stop on my almost complete manuscript on epistemologies of creative writing, I found myself writing vigorously on my next project. This one should please my sister a great deal, as she has been anticipating it for years now. As with my writing practice, it always begins with a title. So, here's the new one: Stone, Speak: Stone Games in Motion in Wittgenstein and Gertrude Stein. I got this idea while retracing my steps today on the walking trails that I've been using every day for the past month. I filled my pockets with hibernating stones from under the snow. I wanted to feel them on the plane back home. I wanted them to echo back: I have Norway's power, the power of the Arctic light, and the power of my trust in myself. The third one implies, of course, the idea of eternal return to Norway, forever and ever. I always did like infinities. They are ever so simple. So, why not, indeed, write something on substitutions, replacements, shifts, recursive structures, and intelligent dialogues against the background of the continuum? While objects of desire may be replaced and substituted, the continuum is not. Once the presence of that is affirmed, trust goes up in value. Wittgenstein is right to suggest that when trust is powerful, it costs more: “Look at a stone and imagine it having sensations.” Wittgenstein always rhetorically asks in his Investigations, can one say, can one trust oneself to say... Yes one can, Gertrude Stein answers, in Sentences: “Cesar Onestone, Mr. Einesteine.” Where cuts are concerned, everything should be mentioned at least twice and in at least two contexts, except the cutting one. In the Arctic, everybody flies: yourself, your shadow, your signs, and your stones.
Sunday, April 25, 2010
467. I am sitting with a philosopher in the garden; he says again and again and again, “I know that that's a tree”, pointing to a tree that is near us. Someone else arrives and hears this, and I tell him: “this fellow isn't insane. We are only doing philosophy”.
(Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein & Gertrude Elizabeth Margaret Anscombe: On Certainty)
Saturday, April 24, 2010
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Friday, April 16, 2010
In his short essay, “Two Forms of Mute Speech”, from The Aesthetic Unconscious, Jacques Rancière has this to say: “The silent revolution that we have called aesthetic opens the space in which an idea of thought and a corresponding idea of writing can be elaborated. This idea of thought rests upon a fundamental affirmation: there is thought that does not think, thought at work not only in the foreign element of non-thought but in the very form of non-thought. Conversely there is non-thought that inhabits thought and gives it a power all its own. This non-thought is not simply a form of absence of thought, it is an efficacious presence of its opposite. From whichever side we approach the equation, the identity of thought and non-thought is the source of a distinctive power [...] In opposition to this living speech that provided the representative order with its norm, writing is the mode of speech that keeps silent at the same time, that both knows and does not know what it is saying. But there are two major figures of this contradictory mode, corresponding to the two opposite forms of the relation between thought and non-thought [...] Mute writing in the first sense is the speech borne by mute things themselves. It is the capability of signification that is inscribed upon their very body, summarized by the “everything speaks” of Novalis, the poet-mineralogist. Everything is trace, vestige or fossil. Every sensible form, beginning from the stone or the shell, tells a story. In their striations and ridges they all bear the traces of their history and the mark of their destination [...] The second form of mute speech is likewise at work here [the work of logos and pathos in literature, CE]. In place of the hieroglyph inscribed on the body and subject to deciphering we encounter speech as soliloquy, speaking to no one and saying nothing but the impersonal and unconscious conditions of speech itself” 31-39).
Today I was thinking that Rancière may be a latter day Wittgenstein, apart from myself, of course, and who, although speaking of the significance of Freud's theories today, can be said to elaborate in fact on the controversial Wittgensteinian statement: “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.” The premise for Wittgenstein's formulation, and which has baffled philosophers ever since, in my opinion is precisely this one: “everything speaks.” Only in this light can we understand what Wittgenstein also means when he says that all his writing is meaningless. It is meaningless in the sense that it always relies on a form of mercy, being at the mercy of interpreters. So, it comes down to an interpreter's ability to match both the thought and non-thought in Wittgenstein, the “everything speaks” already, if Rancière's “power” is to be enforced. The subtler implication of such an ability is this: insofar as one has the power to raise himself above meaningless discourse, one also has the power to descend to the lowest level of signification when signification is precisely least signifying. This means that one goes down on one's knees, and instead of stretching an arm, saying, here's a writing tool that will get you out of the gutter, use my hand—one says instead, I have mercy. I give you not writing, but the mute speech of my presence, right down there with you. This descent is the cost of power. Power over the silence that signifies nothing and everything at the same time. With this power comes the obligation to answer to the ethical call: “do not remain silent.” Why? Because mercy must be shown when total surrender has been proven. Mercy for two, oneself and the other, both forms of mute speech, the “everything speaks” and the silent story of “I love you.”
Saturday, April 3, 2010
“How baffling these questions are, questions on which one would prefer not to touch – I understand that standpoint too, even better than my own – and yet questions to which I completely capitulated. Why do I not do as the others: live in harmony with my people and accept in silence whatever disturbs the harmony?" (Franz Kafka: Investigations of a Dog)
“There are three things: Seeing yourself as something alien, forgetting the sight, and remembering the gaze. Or only two, since the second contains the third." (Kafka: Blue Octavo Notebooks)
“The right perception of any matter and a misunderstanding of the same matter do not wholly exclude each other." (Kafka: The Trial)