Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Arboreal Structures

This form of communication (or "transmission" if we want to avoid the connotations of "commonality" in the former term) is what Deleuze and Guittari later expressed as "rhizomic". This is opposed to the "arboreal" (tree-like) form, where parts are related to each other only through their relationship to a common root, and whose importance is measured according to their distance from that root. In contrast, the rhizome spreads horizontally through leaps where each germination marks a new root system and one cannot assign an origin or end-point.
- Charles Stivale, "Giles Deleuze: Key Concepts"

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Reterritorializing Rhizomes

from Wikipedia
Reterritorialization is the restructuring of a place or territory that has experienced deterritorialization. Deterritorialization is a term created by Deleuze and Guattari in their philosophical project Capitalism and Schizophrenia (1972-1980). They distinguished that relative deterritorialization is always accompanied by reterritorialization. It is the design of the new power. For example, when the Spanish (Hernando Cortez) conquered the Aztecs, and after the Spanish deterritorialized by eliminating the symbols of the Aztecs' beliefs and rituals, the Spanish then reterritorialized by putting up their own beliefs and rituals. This form of propaganda established their takeover of the land. Propaganda is an attempt to reterritorialize by influencing people's ideas through information distributed on a large scale. For example, during World War I, the U.S. put up posters everywhere to encourage young men to join the war.
What line of flight might this Anthophila (*Apoidea) take?

*Apoidea is from Latin apis meaning bee, and this particular Latin word does not appear to be related to the Indo-European word for bee.

Friday, July 26, 2013

End Times and Loves Mortified

WHITE in her snowy stone, and cold,
With azure veins and shining arms,
Pygmalion doth his bride behold,
Rapt on her pure and sculptured charms.

Ah! in those half-divine old days
Love still worked miracles for men;
The gods taught lovers wondrous ways
To breathe a soul in marble then.

He gazed, he yearned, he vowed, he wept.
Some secret witchery touched her breast;
And, laughing April tears, she stepped
Down to his arms and lay at rest.

Dear artist of the storied land!
I too have loved a heart of stone.
What was thy charm of voice or hand,
Thy secret spell, Pygmalion?
- Edward Rowland Sill

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Eppur si Muove

"And yet it moves" (Italian: Eppur si muove; [epˈpur si ˈmwɔːve]) is a phrase said to have been uttered before the Inquisition by the Italian mathematician, physicist and philosopher Galileo Galilei (1564–1642) in 1633 after being forced to recant his "belief" that the earth moves around the sun. In this context, the implication of the phrase is: despite this recantation, the Church's proclamations to the contrary, or any other conviction or doctrine of men, the Earth does, in fact, move around the sun, and not vice versa. As such, the phrase is used today as a sort of pithy retort implying that "it doesn't matter what you believe; these are the facts".

The Basis of which underlies the fetishistic disavowal.

Omnia sol temperat, purus et subtilis.
Novo mundo reserat faciem Aprilis.
Ad amorem properat animus herilis
Et iocundis imperat deus puerilis.

The sun warms everything, pure and gentle.
Once again it reveals to the world with April's face.
The soul of man is urged towards love
And joys are governed by the boy-god.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Investigating Riemannian Spaces

What Deleuze and Guattari might call the royal sciences of efficient productivity have historically repressed and exploited the nomad sciences of expedient adaptability ([1980] 1987, 362). A royal science is a standardized metaphysics: it is deployed by the state throughout a clathrate, Cartesian space, putting truth to work on behalf of solid, instrumental imperatives (law and order). A nomad science is a bastardized metaphysics: it is deployed against the state through an aggregate, Riemannian space, putting truth at risk on behalf of fluid, experimental operatives (trial and error).
- BÖK 2001, 14

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Surveying New Plateaus

Multiplicities are defined by the outside: by the abstract line, the line of flight or deterritorialization according to which they change in nature and connect with other multiplicities. The plane of consistency (grid) is the outside of all multiplicities. The line of flight marks: the reality of a finite number of dimensions that the multiplicity effectively fills; the impossibility of a supplementary dimension, unless the multiplicity is transformed by the line of flight; the possibility and necessity of flattening all of the multiplicities on a single plane of consistency or exteriority, regardless of their number of dimensions.
- Deleuze and Guittari, "A Thousand Plateaus"

Monday, July 15, 2013

I Like Big Buts...

...the fetishist "I know very well...but all the same..." formulation.
Žižek has little time for those who affect a cynical detachment from the world and call it “realism”. He sees this as “fetishistic”: not necessarily in the sense of a sexual fetish, but in the sense that what one really feels is dissociated from its true object and transferred onto another.

He gave a heartbreaking example of this: a friend of his whose wife had died, suddenly and very young, from breast cancer. Žižek and his friends were shocked at how, from immediately after his wife’s death, the man was able to speak openly and without emotion about the terrible suffering she had undergone in the final two months of her life.

Then they realised that, whenever he did so, the man was holding and stroking his wife’s pet hamster. On some subconscious level the man had “fetishised” the hamster so that it now represented his dead wife – and so he could feel that she hadn’t really gone. Six months later, though, the hamster died: and the man underwent a complete emotional and mental breakdown that resulted in his hospitalisation.

So Žižek claimed that when we encounter someone who claims to be totally detached and cynical, to see the world as it is, a meaningless void, then we should not engage with them on the level of rational argument (“The world has so much beauty and meaning!”). Rather, we need (as it were) to “look for their hamster”, the object or concept that enables them to distance themselves from what they truly feel.

As he put it: “We believe much more than we think we believe”.

Let us take, for instance, the often-rehearsed Zizekian argument that in their different guises all totalitarian systems rely on an instance of fetishistic disavowal. Particularly in his early production, Zizek tackles the question of ideological efficacy in both Nazi-Fascism and Communism, frequently resorting to Octave Mannoni’s formula on the contradictory nature of belief: ‘Je sais bien, mais quand-même …’ [I know very well, but nevertheless …] (see Mannoni, 1969). Zizek maintains that in totalitarian societies the power of ideology is, as a rule, reflected in the cynical attitude of the subjects, who know full well that the official ideological line (‘the Jews are responsible for all evils’; ‘the Communist Party represents the people’) is false, and yet they stick to it as a matter of belief – since, as both Pascal and Althusser knew very well, belief has less to do with reason and knowledge than with habit and senseless (from Zizek’s standpoint: unconscious/traumatic) enjoyment.


The same principle of ‘totalitarian disavowal’, Zizek frequently argues, is also in place in liberal Western societies, where the cynical distance we are encouraged to take from any form of traditional ideological belief effectively suggests that we are being caught in the system’s ideological loop. The more we pride ourselves on being ‘free thinkers in a free world’, Zizek argues, the more we blindly submit ourselves to the merciless superegoic command (‘Enjoy!’) which binds us to the logic of the market. As with Hegel’s ‘Beautiful Soul’, the display of purity turns out to be the measure of impurity, innocence the measure of evil. From this angle, the very notion of ‘free will’ (extensively exploited, for example, by modern advertising) might be said to function, today, as a supremely ideological formula, since it binds the subject precisely to that deterministic universe it seeks to escape. Zizek, however, does not deny the existence of free will. His understanding of the notion is predicated upon the German idealist account of the concept developed especially by Schelling. Against the philosophical cliché that there is no place for free will in German idealism, since the world operates according to laws that are ultimately inaccessible to us, Zizek argues that the idea of subjectivity constructed by the German idealists does endorse access to freedom of will – provided, however, that we conceive of this freedom as a traumatic encounter with an ‘abyssal’ choice that has no guarantee in the socio-symbolic order. Zizek’s point is that free will implies the paradox of a frightful disconnection from the world, the horror of a psychotic confrontation with the radical negativity that ultimately defines the status of the subject.

New Awakenings, to Getting Trapped in the Now

From time immemorial artistic insights have been revealed to artists in their sleep and in dreams, so that at all times they ardently desired them. Then their imagination could work wonders upon wonders and invoke the shades of the philosophers, who would instruct them in their art. Today this still happens again and again, but most of what transpires is forgotten.. How often does a man say as he wakes in the morning, "I had a wonderful dream last night," and relate how Mercury or this or that philosopher appeared to him in person and taught him this or that art. But then the dream escapes him and he cannot remember it. However, anyone to whom this happens should not leave his room upon awakening, should speak to no-one, but remain alone and sober until everything comes back to him, and he recalls the dream.
-Paracelsus, "Spagyrical Writings"

Dreaming has been characterized as “single-minded” [17]. In waking consciousness, we usually are able to reflect on, compare, or recall experiences, or thoughts, apart from the current one we are experiencing. It is not that these processes are completely excluded during dreaming - a counter-example is lucid-dreaming. It is rather that they are massively attenuated so that dreaming is “isolated” from other capacities or functions of consciousness. One finds a similar inability to transcend one’s current perspective, to reflect on, monitor or consider alternative views in acute psychosis of schizophrenia. As in dreaming, one is trapped in the “now” [2,18,19]. Kafka’s stories and novels often depict this sort of single mindedness which we find in dreaming. For example, the sudden appearance of the unexpected or bizarre is met with the protagonist’s blasé acceptance as matter of course. In his novel, The Castle, Kafka describes his protagonist, K., as taking the unexpected as matter of course: “The particular instance surprised K., but on the whole he had really expected it” [20], p. 5.


Kafka deliberately scheduled his writing during the night in a sleep-deprived state. It is also known that he drew from hypnagogic imagery in his stories [40]. In his Diaries, Kafka describes his nocturnal writing as conducted “entirely in darkness, deep in his workshop” [26], p. 518; see also [14]. As Kafka reports, writing without sleep enables access to unusual thoughts and associations which otherwise would be inaccessible: “How easily everything can be said as if a great fire had been prepared for all these things in which the strangest thoughts emerge and again disappear” [26], pp. 293-4, my translation). With regard to this transformed state of consciousness, he writes, “all I possess are certain powers which, at a depth almost inaccessible at normal conditions, shape themselves into literature...” [41], p. 270.” Similarly, Kafka writes in his Diaries, “Again it was the power of my dreams, shining forth into wakefulness even before I fall asleep, which did not let me sleep... I feel shaken to the core of my being and can get out of myself whatever I desire. It is a matter of ... mysterious powers...” (cited by Corngold, [42], p. 23). Sleep deprivation may serve as a non-drug “psychotomimetic” model (i.e., producing a psychotic like state in healthy individuals) with attendant changes in dopamine in the striatum and NMDA and AMPA ionotropic glutamate receptorfunction in pre-frontal cortex [43]. Indirectly, this suggests a possible relationship between intrusive hypnagogic imagery (which is increased with sleep deprivation) and the experiences of beginning psychosis [44], and below.

Kafka’s “great fire” suggests a creative process which provides its own illumination even in darkness. It also suggests a state of cortical excitability (and resulting hypnagogic hallucinations) following Kafka’s withdrawal from sensory/social stimuli coupled with sleep deprivation. Kafka longs for “complete stillness” (as Gregor in The Metamorphosis) eager to separate himself, while writing, from his argumentative family with whom he lived for a good part of his life.xix The Hunger Artist “withdraws deep within himself paying no attention to anyone or anything” [10], p. 268. Kafka is avoidant of unnecessary stimulation, which may also be prompted by his severe headaches [15], and sleeplessness [12], p. 231. However, the withdrawal from photic and social stimulation is also prerequisite for the self-induction of hypnagogic-like trances.

Kafka marveled at the automaticity of his own writing. In a letter to his future betrothed, Felice Bauer - whom he persistently tries to discourage, as evidenced by this letter, from wanting to marry him - Kafka writes: “I have often thought that the best mode of life for me would be to sit in the innermost room of a spacious locked cellar with my writing things and a lamp. Food would be brought and always put down ... outside the cellar’s outermost door. ... And how I would write! From the depths I would drag it up! Without effort! For extreme concentration knows no effort” [41], p. 156). Here we find solitude, the reduction of sensory stimulation in the cell’s darkness, and the automaticity (effortlessness) of the writing process. According to Kafka’s own reports, he experienced writing (at least in its initial phases) as automatic, effortless and informed by hypnagogic imagery.xxx When writing is effortless, it is the product of a trance-state called “flow” shown to facilitate optimal mental functioning (Csikszentmihalyi, [45]). Kafka writes, “All I possess are certain powers which, at a depth inaccessible under normal conditions, shape themselves into literature...” [41], p. 270). In a letter to Max Brod, Kafka [46] writes that it is “not alertness but self-oblivion [that] is the precondition of writing” (p. 385).
- Mishara, "Philosophy, Ethics, and Humanities in Medicine<"

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Green Language Primer

As is known, it is in the realm of experience inaugurated by psychoanalysis that we may grasp along what imaginary lines the human organism, in the most intimate recesses of its being, manifests its capture in a symbolic dimension.
- Jacques Lacan

Each man is given two eyes to see,
two ears to hear and
one mouth to speak.
What they see, hear and say is up 2 the.m.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Erecting Kantian Monstrosities

Ethics cannot be based on the notion of sacrifice, which substitutes the approval of the big Other for the pleasure of the thing sacrificed. Ethics must not concern itself with the way our actions are seen by others, but only with consistency and fidelity to the self: ‘I do what I have to do because it needs to be done, not because of my goodness’. Such ethical ‘naivety’ requires a ‘monstrously cold reflexive distance’, and the book concludes with Žižek’s second description of ‘how I would love to be: an ethical monster without empathy ... helping others while avoiding their disgusting proximity’.
- Marika Rose, "A modest plea for a Chestertonian reading of the Monstrosity of Christ"

The commonplace wisdom today is that "our extraordinary power to manipulate nature through scientific devices has run ahead of our faculty to lead a meaningful existence, to make human use of this immense power." Thus, the properly modern ethics of "following the drive" clashes with traditional ethics whereby one is instructed to live one's life according to standards of proper measure and to subordinate all its aspects to some all-encompassing notion of the Good. The problem is, of course, that no balance between these two notions of ethics can ever be achieved. The notion of reinscribing scientific drive into the constraints of the life-world is fantasy at its purest--perhaps the fundamental fascist fantasy. Any limitation of this kind is utterly foreign to the inherent logic of science--science belongs to the real and, as a mode of the real of jouissance, it is indifferent to the modalities of its symbolization, to the way it will affect social life.
- Slavoj Zizek, "Desire: Drive = Truth: Knowledge"

Friday, July 5, 2013

Max Empath

Wizard of Oz: As for you, my galvanized friend, you want a heart. You don't know how lucky you are not to have one. Hearts will never be practical until they can be made unbreakable.

Tin Woodsman: But I still want one.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Stepping Out of Character

Now my charms are all o'erthrown,
And what strength I have's mine own,
Which is most faint: now, 'tis true,
I must be here confined by you,
Or sent to Naples. Let me not,
Since I have my dukedom got
And pardon'd the deceiver, dwell
In this bare island by your spell;
But release me from my bands
With the help of your good hands:
Gentle breath of yours my sails
Must fill, or else my project fails,
Which was to please. Now I want
Spirits to enforce, art to enchant,
And my ending is despair,
Unless I be relieved by prayer,
Which pierces so that it assaults
Mercy itself and frees all faults.
As you from crimes would pardon'd be,
Let your indulgence set me free.
- Shakespeare, "The Tempest"

Monday, July 1, 2013

Revolt without Revolution

In this context, the manifesto of the Spanish indignados, issued after their demonstrations in May, is revealing. The first thing that meets the eye is the pointedly apolitical tone: 'Some of us consider ourselves progressive, others conservative. Some of us are believers, some not. Some of us have clearly defined ideologies, others are apolitical, but we are all concerned and angry about the political, economic and social outlook that we see around us: corruption among politicians, businessmen, bankers, leaving us helpless, without a voice.'

They make their protest on behalf of the 'inalienable truths that we should abide by in our society: the right to housing, employment, culture, health, education, political participation, free personal development and consumer rights for a healthy and happy life'. Rejecting violence, they call for an ‘ethical revolution ... The indignados dismiss the entire political class, right and left, as corrupt and controlled by a lust for power ... And this is the fatal weakness of recent protests: they express an authentic rage which is not able to transform itself into a positive programme of sociopolitical change. They express a spirit of revolt without revolution.
- Slavoj Zizek, "Shoplifters of the World, Unite!"