Logic does not have a metaphysical intention

I find that it is extremely common for males from Northern America to try to use logic to do the role that religion otherwise plays for them. In effect, they misunderstand the nature of logic because they assume that it can furnish them with a world view and confirm the difference between absolute truth and absolute error. In actual fact, logic doesn’t quite work in this way. Rather, it is a method to ensure consistency between various statements one may make. If one’s world view is already messed up or nonexistent, pure logic cannot give you a world view. It’s not a means to define what is real and what isn’t. In fact the logical positivists were severely let down when they tried to use it in that way. They grappled endlessly with the statement, “Pegasus doesn’t exist.”

They went mad over it, because they had a very significant problem with trying to get language to do all the work of defining reality for them when language was already capable of asserting a fantastical creature’s existence (despite retracting the sense of its existence with the word, “not”.) If one can use a word, then that means it is necessarily indicative of part of absolute reality — so reasoned the logical positivists. But they were mistaken. Language is a relativistic structure or what Nietzsche calls “a mobile army of metaphors”.

In any case, language and logic can’t do all the work for us of furnishing us with a world view. Our reason is not bestowed from above, but emerges from our humanity. To think otherwise is to embrace a quasi-religious perspective, without realizing one is doing this.

Indeed such quasi-religious perspectives may present a clear and present danger to public health, if one happens to be sucked into the vacuity that is North American “thinking”.

 

Ecstatic experience

It is possible to see things uncolored by your conditioned feelings and fantasies, which is to say colored by basic brain processes, which both reduce and expand awareness at the same time.

To reduce knowledge to material reality, as some might try to do, is altogether unnecessary and unreasonable. It is enough to know that there is a kind of morally indifferent material reality that does not correspond to our needs and wishes all the time, but can be made to do so sometimes.  This form of knowledge is magical in a very inspiring sense, since it makes out that reality is both inside of us and outside of us at the same time. This viewpoint is ecstatic, exciting, as well as potentially dialectical.

Typical Western thinking is nearly always binary — nearly always an either-or proposition: either we believe that our destinies are totally in our hands or we deny we have any power and accept victimhood.  By contrast, intellectual shamanism holds that we take part in a reality larger than us, which sometimes we can influence and other times not, but in any case the participation itself is ecstatic.

the shaman does not transcend anything exactly…….

That is where I am in disagreement with:

JAMES M. GLASS
(University of Maryland)
THE PHILOSOPHER AND THE SHAMAN:
The Political Vision as Incantation

WHY THE ANALOGY between the shaman and the philos-
opher? I have in mind three examples where some correspondence exists:
it is on the matter of the use of a vision or image as incantation,
specifically in the case of philosophy in Plato’s Republic, Rousseau’s
Social Contract, and Marx’ Future Society.

I maintain that the shaman, unlike the philosopher, does not create a field of uninterrupted eros, free of the catastrophes of thanatos.

Rather, the shaman seeks to understand the world experientially, in both of its erotic and destructive proclivities. Cordoning off one part of experience in order to create a realm of ‘the sacred’ does not allow one the experience of taming and mastering the spirits. Thus one NEEDS to experience thanatos, in order to understand how it functions. After that, one can make assessments about the function of thanatos in others.

Two thinkers that I do not particularly like

Two thinkers that I do not particularly have a high regard for — perhaps more due to their effects (and the way that their writings have made society superficial) than because of their ideas — are BF Skinner and Jacques Derrida.

Derrida, for instance — he correctly discerns the inevitability of in interpretive slippage between what is written and what is interpreted in the writing. However, he doesn’t at all seem to countenance that there could be a huge amount of tragedy involved in this. For someone who does not have a voice that anyone will listen to within a particular society, and who therefore takes to writing, so much of what it means to be recognised as human and as vitally real depends upon reception of the work without distortion. So the eternal play of différence may be, in practical terms, within a multicultural society, to some degree entirely necessary as well as inavoidable. Yet the agonising screams of the subaltern who has once again had his attempts to communicate denied should not fail to somehow reach our ears. Derrida’s system which accustoms us to embrace an approach of consumption of meanings as they appear to us on our own terms (that is, without seeking further elucidation, through examinings history and political context) enables us to accept with pleasure — but, on limited terms only, the existence of a mild alterity between oneself and others. One accepts, in other words, the joy of making (necessarily) false interpretations, as a lighthearted game. The radical alterity of the subaltern has nothing to offer us as material for this lighthearted game. His needs are more desperate than that — his necessity to be heard is not even a game, but a matter of life and death (in the emotional sense, and possibly in more ways than this, since actual death can be an outcome of being radically misunderstood.) Let us not be lazy, therefore, with interpretation.

BF SKINNER: He doesn’t really tell us anything, beyond giving us some general principles that may as well be metaphysical, like yin and yang, for all of the predictive value that they have.

Of course, we all behave in certain ways to get rewards in life, and do our best to avoid various aversive stimulii. That is BF Skinner’s grand insight. So let us stop there. Beyond his assertion of this fact, his insights do not enable us to predict any single thing about any single person.

For right above the first layer of my feeling that something is an incentive, there lies an immediate disincentive, and above that the disincentive starts to look like an incentive again, but then through the power of my mind and will, I am actually able to conjure up its image as an overall aversive stimulus.

These are the layers of meanings we have in us — no doubt because we were conditioned through our early years by various experiences. Yet these experiences we had do not rest in our brains as isolated stimulii but in the form of comprehensive ideas and facts.

When I do kickboxing, I go towards an aversive stimulus. I suffer all sorts of mental and physical pains. Above that pain rests the reward of being more proficient. But above that positive stimulus there also remains the aversive stimulus of developing an injury. But, fortunately — above the likelihood of getting wounded rests the almost metaphysical delight of being able to look back in life and say that I’d achieved something.

So, don’t come at me with your aversive stimulus of pain and automatically expect me to pay you any mind. If life were simple like that, we would all be rats in a jar.

industrial logic

As I say and say again, I believe that it is true that in the case of most people, the modernisation processes inherent in industrialist processes give people their sense of ‘identity’ — but only so long as they are willing to submit to such instrumentalisation. (This is what I have previously referred to as the “Westernisation” of culture — this acquiescence to an identity within the industrial machine’s system of processes. It is also what I have termed previously the sense of identity being not organic or experiential, but rather mechanistically furnished and ‘a priori’).

One can, however, resist the acquisition of an industrial style identity — one without history but equipped with the facilitiy of denial concerning self insights; in particular, the way in which experiences have twisted and contorted one’s sense of the world in ways unique, profoundly personal, and incredibly complex.

The acquisition of an industrial identity is a clean slate, which effectively erases the person that one had been when one was a youth. The economic system of industrialism seem to require a fundamental transition from one state of mind — from actually experiencing one’s self as a centre for open possiblities, all things being rendered new in the moment that one experiences them — to the state of mind where one has “forgotten” the experiences that once came to one through having had an open attitude to life. At once, one has become a clean slate. One has been furnished with an identity, arrived freshly out of the box for the one that it will seek to ‘clothe’ (and thereby effectively erase). The new identity is one of industrialism’s manufactured intellectual forms. One then is in the position to “become” some thing: the job; a position in the system; in some senses, a vocation (this, a possibility remaining in our minds, from a preindustrial past).

An excerpt from “A shred of Identity” (by Marechera):

The dustman shrugs, hurls his concrete burden
Into factory hand adjusts the zip of his overalls
And without care awaits his Call – factory’s siren;
The milkman cycles his round; the soldier
Kisses his girl hurries to carry out orders.
They all seem to know their own selves
While I like a madman continue to decipher
The print on a shred of blank paper
The print that is to become the poem behind the poem.

p 99 Cemetery of Mind

—And the poem behind the poem? — In Marechera’s poetry this is always his autobiographical self.

Bourdieu

From Wiki:

Doxa
Doxa are the fundamental, deep-founded, unthought beliefs, taken as self-evident universals, that inform an agent’s actions and thoughts within a particular field. Doxa tends to favor the particular social arrangement of the field, thus privileging the dominant and taking their position of dominance as self-evident and universally favorable. Therefore, the categories of understanding and perception that constitute a habitus, being congruous with the objective organization of the field, tend to reproduce the very structures of the field.
Bourdieu thus sees habitus as the key to social reproduction because it is central to generating and regulating the practices that make up social life.

–Very interesting, because this is what I have elsewhere termed “cultural unconscious”.

Also interesting, because it gives us an idea about how neo-colonial practices can be very subtle:

Bourdieu sees symbolic capital (e.g. prestige, honour, the right to be listened to) as a crucial source of power. Symbolic capital is any species of capital that is perceived through socially inculcated classificatory schemes. When a holder of symbolic capital uses the power this confers against an agent who holds less, and seeks thereby to alter their actions, they exercise symbolic violence. We might see this when a daughter brings home a boyfriend considered unsuitable by her parents. She is met with disapproving looks and gestures, symbols which serve to convey the message that she will not be permitted to continue this relationship, but which never make this coercive fact explicit. People come to experience symbolic power and systems of meaning (culture) as legitimate. Hence the daughter will often feel a duty to obey her parents’ unspoken demand, regardless of her suitor’s actual merits. She has been made to misunderstand or misrecognize his nature. Moreover, by perceiving her parents’ symbolic violence as legitimate, she is complicit in her own subordination – her sense of duty has coerced her more effectively than explicit reprimands could have done.

denying my feminazi roots

So I spent much of today reading Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex, again.

I didn’t read it so much for her ideas as for the way she puts things across. I’ve decided that I don’t really like her style. She moves through various phenomena of gender too quickly. I want to linger more to question how this can be. A phenomenological approach is okay, but I want to know why it makes sense for women to succumb to the pressures that they do. I understand that her implicit paradigm is that the structure of society gives women no other choice but to succumb to patriarchal pressures. Yet, still, this answer is unsatisfying to me. If it is the structure of society that compels this, how does it manage to do so? Does society imprint us with neurological markings that make it impossible for us to get out of a social groove, once in one? Otherwise it would be possible for the women in question to go mad at any time, to use their claws to tear bloody hole into the face of polite society.

I understand the imperative of survival — I just do not understand the imperative of not going completely mad. Madness under such circumstances would have been a release; a joy; a way of demolishing the whole cumbersome patriarchal edifice with the smile of Samson dancing upon one’s mystic visage.

Collective madness is the only answer to acute oppression — and I believe that in certain factories of the Phillippines this position on the world is tacitly agreed to, among men and women.

Anyway, madness, madness, madness I say. And not the writing of more books. Simone’s own bourgeois blindspot is not to see that a genius is one who is appraised as being such under a patriarchal scheme of things.

So let us all collectively go mad together! I, for one, have had about enough.

exercise in attentiveness

I’m learning these days to bring my self image more greatly into line with who I actually am. I don’t think I’ve ever had a distorted one as such, but we all wallow a little bit in ignorance because of transcendent identity structures (cultural ideas about who we are). We don’t alway observe ourselves carefully enough, in order to know ourselves. We are inclined, rather, to shop for an identity in the supermarket of culture, and put it on and wear it proudly.

You are not your transcendent identity. Gloriously — you are more than that. Pathetically — you are less than that.

You can tell if your identity is one that you have shopped for or not by the need to be defensive about it. Having bought your identity in the Ladies Boutique, you want to display it in your own Fashion Bizarre. You are defensive of your purchase because it is something external to you, and yet is the product of your internal judgment — a product of your “choice”.

But the desginated role of “choice”, used to express one’s inner self is an atrophication of the inner self and its potentialities. You are not the image you have chosen as the representation of yourself. That is merely a delusion.

You are, rather, as Bataille teaches, “immanence”. You are the pleasure that you receive in the moment, and you are the facilitation of these disappearing moments of breathless life. This is pathos. This is also ecstasy.

Enjoy the close embrace.

harkening back to the golden age.

Well, it’s getting colder in Perth, but I think we will get a few sunny days this week, all the same. Last week I overtrained — especially on Tuesday. I trained again (to a lesser degree) on Friday, and again on Saturday. So, this week I shall not train until Thursday morning when I have a sparring session scheduled with Shannon. It should be fun, and I may be able to get a few pictures of us fighting in the ring, if Mike will lend a willing photographic hand.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about “golden ages” and how as humans we are inclined to look back to the past for a representation of a perfect time, being unable to enjoy the present as much as we feel we did the past. Both conservative and fascist ideologies are built upon the premise that the past was a better time. A few days ago, as I consumed a peasant dish (smoked trout, a grilled king prawn and rice, made for me at a local Indonesian restaurant — Mike ate
gaddo gaddo), I reflected that what appears to be a perfect time has very much to do with one’s state of mind.

Perhaps the past seems so great to us because as children (–and the conservative is in many ways one who remains, for better or worse, a child–), we are more in a state of immanence than we are in a state of transcendence in relation to our human contexts and our material environments. We revel in the surprising aspects of the immediate sensations of everything around us. We are grateful for all sorts of company, and do not judge it according to competitive adult standards. This ecstasy is linked to the attitude of childlike behaviour and reactions. Yet there is no reason — apart from the intervention of adult memories which urge us to be cautious — why this childlike attitude should not be available to you and I in the present. The problem is that as adults we start to atrophy when we presume to know how the world works. It’s not knowledge which is the problem, but the attitudinal castles that we build upon our suppositions that we are people ‘in the know’. Those castles of seriousness are the beginning of thanatos in us — the beginning of rigidification.

But there is no reason that we should allow this to occur. One can achieve a great deal, very much, without being too worried about the meanings of our achievements in our own eyes or in the eyes of others. The two things — the objective value of one’s achievements and the seriousness with which one regards one’s own achievements — are not at all causally linked, even though we tend to associate them together with one particular mental attitude.

So, there is no reason why one should not have one’s cake and eat it too. In fact, the quality of a lot of what we do as humans would improve if only we were able to approach things with a lighter attitude, with more naturalness and more enjoyment.



immanence / transcendence — which are you?

I think that the origination of the terms immanence and transcendence is probably the same in all instances, and that it is mostly associated with Kant. However, I have lately been studying it in relation to Bataille. Here is something I found on him: http://foucault.info/Foucault-L/archive/msg03143.shtml It seems quite acute, although the reasons underlying what is described as pure schema (Bataille’s animalism versus transcendence) are actuallly very politically considered and complex, in my view.

Generally, you could look at it this way: The more a way of thinking is abstracted and thus decontextualised from the circumstances it purports to be describing, the more “transcendent” it is.

As you can probably tell from what I’ve said, “immanence” and “transcendence” are relative aspects of ways of being, which appear to form a continuum from one to the other. To imagine a pure immanence: One would be the complete victim of circumstance, experiencing one moment after the other as a kind of bland — or harsh — continuum, without being able to separate out the meanings entailed in each moment from the meanings entailed in other moments of the continuum. In fact, the moments would all necessarily have the same meaning, since one would be unable to abstract a meaning from one’s experience at all. To be able to do so would imply thinking — and thinking implies using abstractions.

On the other hand, a pure state of transcendence would involve living in realm or state of mind in which there were ONLY abstractions. So, whilst immanence is marked by a state of meaningless change, transcendence is indicated by the sense that everything is firm and unchangeable forever. Whatever words mean, they will always have the same meaning, according to an absolute transcendentalist view of things. You can see how this relates to patriarchy and the right wing — to them, the meaning of the word “woman” is partly entailed in the idea that the material manifestations of this word (actual women) cannot be allowed to deviate from what the word means in some traditional sense. So, right wingers tend to arm themselves with a particular understanding of the word, and then set out to do warfare against material reality, which does not accord with their transcendental perspective!

So, neither pure immanence nor pure transcendence are realistically appropriate for human beings — both would turn us mad if we presumed to practice these approaches as an ideology. Relative transcendence or relative immanence are both possible. Simone de Beauvoir refers to the traditional state of women as being trapped in immanence — by which she means, trapped in everyday routine, undifferentiated by thought or abstract ideas. Bataille, on the other hand, sees transcendence as having become an empty category, puffed up and intellectually and emotionally divorced from the vitality of actual, lived experience.

In the relative sense of these terms, those on the left will often gravitate rather more towards “immanence”, perhaps in some form of empiricism, or attempt to derive data from the material and historical circumstances around them — fluctuating and historically subject to change as they may be. Those on the right will, however, tend to want rather to appear to solve the problems entailed in immanence by morally or intellectually ‘transcending’ them — that is, by presenting ‘solutions’ which propose that the true nature of reality can be captured in thought (largely independently of what the subject is actually experiencing), and for them, thought is, thus, eternal.

giddy postmodern short-circuitry

Maybe it is true that culture has become too heterogeneous (also too primal and self-indulgent), and that this has created problems with communication (since clear communication is necessarily homogeneous and also primal, relying on sharing commonalities). I detect a communicative chasm between myself and another whenever I hear them seem to proclaim that they are “completely free to do what I want”, because what they consider freedom is rarely something that I would have any interest in doing. Yet, I have no means to communicate this to them.  They are free to SMSBig Brother” or free to work long hours in order to pay off a mortgage? These things would be nightmares to me, but I have no way of communicating that, in a way that is taken neutrally and objectively. Far more likely, someone will attack me if I tell them that their world is not my world, and their desires are not at all like mine.

This superfically expressed cultural of individualism (actually, egotistic solipsism, which I, myself, have explored and experienced as part of my self-induction into Modernism)  becomes ursurped in practice by a narrow and emotional tribal force .

Since an assertion of one’s experiential differences is culturally taken as a criticism of the flavour or nature or quality of another’s experiences, then one must certainly refrain from acknowledging differences. To do otherwise would invite censure or misunderstanding, or hurt egos and confused relationships. So the apparent freedom, understood and expressed in terms of being “free to do whatever I want” ends up the majority adopting a very defensive stance,  where what is really acceptable is to do  “whatever it is we are all already doing.”

 

the postmodernist’s reverie

Heterogeneous and homogeneous are both integrated now,” uttered the postmodernist, in pure contempt. I sit upon the tallest icicle this world has ever seen — and it pierceth not my ass!

Why, only yesterday, I decided on my own free will to revel in the wondrous integration of heterogeneous and homogeneous elements! I said to my boss, “Hey boss, check out my desk upon which you will find the most gorgeous little turd, which is to be considered my contribution instead of working for the next few hours!” (The heterogeneous of Georges Bataille‘s theory is “shit”.  I kid you not.  It’s also lumpen proles who, when assimilated, become levers of fascism.)

The boss was very pleased with this initiative. He, too, pronounced that everything heterogeneous was now assimilated to the realm of the homogeneous, and that he could clearly see my point of view.

Today I fester in a lunatic asylum, having confirmed that the postmodernist perspective on things is correct. Homogeneous and heterogeneous are perfectly assimilated, at least in my mind. I haven’t been thrown out of homogeneous society for my transgressions, because we have moved beyond the point in culture when transgression had any meaning!

Actually this lunatic asylum is just another work centre, and feels the same.

FREE.

immanences

Simone de Beauvoir writes about immanence, but her historical context — or more specifically that of women, for she was contemporary with Bataille — was totally different from that of Bataille.

Women in her time hadn’t been able to even claw their way up high enough to develop an ego, yet. This is the meaning of their “immanence”. They were basically egoless goo that fitted the gaps of patriarchal society. They had no self determination of their own.

In Bataille’s case, he was (as a male) in a position to have an ego. However, his problem was different. His strong ego was functioning to trap him in servitude, according to the narrow dictates of reason and professionalism. Where could he go to get away from such pressures? — Only towards the sought for dissolution of his ego, setting him free from rational concerns, in immanence.

Two very different immanences, then.

I cite

I cite

Contrary to the views of this writer, I think we need to be able to reaquaint ourselves with our humanity, which is definitively experiential. We often don’t have an artistic ear which enables us to distinguish between true and false versions of reality. We need to develop one. Failing to do so makes us not more godlike and objective but more the emotionally-numbed victims of systematic rigidity or victims of ideological predators who would define our meanings on behalf of us.

ninja

I see Bataille’s embrace of abjection (and equating it with the sacred) as a kind of guerilla strategy for messing with the ideological enemy’s rational basis for prediction of human behaviour. It’s like his philosophy has produced a radio scrambling device, to mess with the frequencies that enable systems of economic and social rationalisation — and therefore systems of control.

I also think that there is something of the Ninja in Bataille. The following (about ninjitsu) is totally in accordance with various tendencies within Bataille’s writing:

In this distant era Samurai families that became political outcasts for
multiple reasons (for example their Shogun or master got killed) had to flee deep into the mountains to escape enemy forces. Concentrated in the Iga and Koga regions in the mountains of central Japan, these families settled down and committed their lives to achieving spiritual enlightenment. They learned from wise Chinese sages and monks, as well as from Yamabushi, ascetic Japanese warrior-monks. When they lived close to villages the Ninja families and the village citizens mutually helped and protected each other in times of need. The rulers back in the capitol did not like seeing others achieving such complete enlightenment, out of religious and personal reasons. Frankly they felt inferior and threatened by them. In Carl Jung’s words they projected their own shadows onto the Shadow Warriors (Ninja). They saw the Ninja reaching higher planes of awareness and this showed them the ineffectiveness of their own system of beliefs. Hoping they could extinguish the Ninja for good, they sent warriors into the mountains with the mission to kill whole Ninja families. Then, of course, the Ninja had to defend themselves and so the famous system of self-defense and stealth and many other arts was developed.

Ninjutsu evolved as a very complex art of self-defense, stealth,
disguise, intelligence gathering, espionage, assassination, psychology, acting, horseback riding, geography and meteorology. Ninpo, the spiritually higher form of Ninjutsu, was a way toward enlightenment – its practitioners followed “The Path of the Warrior”.

http://groups.msn.com/Sholungdojo/ninjutsuninja.msnw

before the juddering plunge

As Bataille points out in his short essay, there would have to be two “suns” for us, if we were to process the story of Icarus in accordance with what most people believe (falsely) about the nature of reality. Our priests throughout the ages have taught us to bifurcate reality, so that loss, decline and deterioration do not seem to be part of the essence of humanity at all.

The climbing to the height is one thing, and it is understood as a representation of one kind of reality. Let us call it will to power and ascendence through the ranks of homogeneity.

Then there is the cry of alarm, the melted wings and the terrifying falling, away, away from the sun. This registers to our socially conditioned minds as a state of heterogeneity. It registers as discordance, as formlessness. We are alarmed because we implicitly believe the possibility of continuing to ascend to heaven to be infinite. We relegate all fallen heroes to the parade of shame which is populated by those whom we consider to typify those elements of disruption and shame (the heterogeneous) who have no place in well-ordered society.

There is a certain point in Icarus’ journey when upwards starts to become downwards. What was ecstasy becomes grief. To a compartmentalising mind, there can be no association between the spiritual (or psychological) pathway towards ecstasy and the one which leads to grief. They are two different pathways, with two different results. Thus, the bifurcation of the mind, which demands two suns, for Icarus’s falling to the Earth is also a falling into the sun, to be burnt alive by human demands that prohibit a failure of any sort.

Bataille’s insight is that loss can also be a gain, a thrill, a mode of ecstasy, for it is part of life: Indeed, there is only one “sun” (one realm of human experience), and Icarus is falling into it.

understanding heterogeneity (some more)

Bataille’s categories of heterogeneity and homogeneity are (or course!) not moral categories, although they may indicate, in some ways, moral tendencies. They are primarily logical functions — these terms supplying a way of looking at the way/s we organise social reality.

One could not imagine a bigger mistake than turning them into moral categories in order to make one’s belonging to one category rather than another into a feather in one’s cap. This kind of bastardisation has, of course, been attempted with the philosophy of Nietzsche. In fact, the philosophy of Nietzsche has rather been subsumed into some young men’s arsenals as a rather degrading and anti-cultural barbarism — all because they identify with what Nietzsche (in Genealogy of Morals) called “the strong”, without having sufficiently developed their sense of irony to also understand what he meant when he said that ‘the strong’ are also stupid.

No doubt, Batailles’ reinterpretation of Nietzsche was intended to correct some of this tendential crudity.

Rather than making the enormous mistake of identifying with one side of human experience or the other, it is better to understand Bataille’s terms in relation to Lacan’s philosophy, which arguably came out of Bataille’s own writings.

Heterogeneity and homogeneity are assuredly within all of us — although certain individuals and cultures may tend towards one side of this psychological polarity rather than the other side. In general, heterogeneity refers to those aspects of ourselves that we ‘give up’ or repress (the same thing, more or less) in order to fit better into society and gain for ourselves security through stability of identity in relation to others. Heterogeneity means the aspects of individuality (in potential or actuality) which are self directing and without reference to utility or social mores. Rather, they are elements which exist for their own sakes. Heterogeneity (as repressed psychological elements) gives shape to ego, through ego’s tendential exclusion of these elements. Ego (and homogeneity) is what we see. The unconscious (and heterogeneity) is that which we don’t normally see, but that which gives shape to what we do see. This is true as a tendency, but not as an absolute condition of either term.

Beyond this way of psychologically conveying the status of the different categories there are fluctuations and discrepancies on a sub-paradigmatic level (in relation to the implied stability of the metaphysical model. (This is a recursive feature of heterogeneity within the dominant paradigm which is explained logically and in terms of stability — and hence is understood in a homogeneous sense.) Some societies, as well as some individuals, do not repress aspects of individualism (and therefore permit more of that which is tendentially heterogeneous (spontaneous action and thinking for the sake of it) that what other cultures and individuals do. So, Bataille’s concept of heterogeneity implies the instability of elements (or, indeed, a system) within what appears to be a stable paradigm demarking norms of conformity and repression. The paradigm (for instance, Lacan’s) is not stable, but is subject to the disrupting (heterogeneous) counter-forces which conditions what appears to be stable and predictable with a powerful counter-condition of “formlessness” or unpredictability.

Just as homogeneity seems to represent “will to power”, heterogeneity seems to represent that other tension in Nietzsche’s philosophy: “Lord Chance.”

The literature of ambivalence

The move from the heterogeneous realm to the homogeneous realm via the Oedipus complex and its resolution, well, apparently, takes us away from feelings of ambivalence. I guess that one’s dislike for one’s authorities is repressed at this point. One no longer love-hates them. One just feels positive and represses the aspects there are to dislike. Or, in other words, one’s heart is filled only with love.

I suspect, though, that there is a peculiar literature of the heterogeneous, which just reeks with the kind of irony which is facilitated by emotional ambivalence. Such a form of literature is not read well (and is certainly, moreover, not read correctly) by those who have made a perfect translocation to the ‘other side’. From the other side of the Oedipus complex — the non-ambivalent side, the conforming from the heart side — there is very little to laugh about, in all probability. There are just “types” either acting in obedience to, or in defiance of, their clearly allocated and well-defined social roles. (From this other side, one does not find a “type” in rebellion to be funny, but rather appalling, or shocking, or pathetic, depending on one’s most accustomed reaction to a revelation of the flimsy nature of the social fabric.)

Identity politics, then, is not the politics of ambivalence towards one’s own social role. From the point of view of identity politics, one challenges from the basis of the post-Oedipal social power that had been granted one’s particular group within a particular economic setting. One does not challenge anything at the level of being issued with a role or identity. Identity politics, then, is for those who have implicitly acquiesced to power on an individual level, and are still unhappy with their public status. There is a certain place for it. That goes without saying. Still, it is not Marechera’s politics, since he did not acquiesce to power in the first instance. He has not accepted the definition applied to him of “black”, but rather pairs the term with “sunlight”, thus deconstructing it.

marechera and the Oedipus Complex

Adrenaline tells the amygdala that what’s happening at that moment is worth remembering, that this is a memory to be writ in neurological ink.

Could this be why Marechera found it hard to repress his knowledge of the oppressive relationships of power, (as required as a successful outcome of the Oedipus complex, for example)?

Marechera’s work is obsessed with the reworkings of memory and autobiographical trauma. He makes reference to the Oedipus complex (quite a lot), but he himself does not seem to have repressed, in any way, his knowledge of his violent engagements with power.
The normative outcome of the “Oedipus complex” is arguably, if nothing else, an outcome of acquiescing to a power relationship. The weaker must accept ‘the way things are’ as determined by the stronger. As the weaker one, one must bury one’s differences with power, in order to get ahead. So, one “adapts”; one becomes “mature” by acquiescing to the existent forces of power first at home and then further afield.

Yet, what happens if the repressive devices of memory are not allowed to fulfil their tendencies of repressing a sense of frightening and unequal relationships of power? This could happen if one lived in an environment which was already violent — making one hyper-alert to danger, and flooding one’s body with adrenaline which makes one more likely to remember than to forget. Such a dangerous environment was Marechera’s context of upbringing.

How well could “normative” repressive devices, (which enable one to conform by forgetting threats to one’s essential being), be expected to flourish in the ghetto?

 

Marechera’s feminism

I consider Marechera’s relationship to feminism to be compelling, although it is controversial. Certainly, he makes much of female sexuality in a metaphysical sense, implying that it is both a revealing gnostic force, as well as a psychologically overpowering and destructive quantum. Despite that, I would consider him a feminist sympathiser. He makes a female a dominant and mystical force in BLACK SUNLIGHT. 
He sees that not every female finds that she can adapt her character to the strictures of femininity expected by society. His humourous rendering of the female makeup artist who ended up smashing the faces which she was unable to transform is very telling. It implies his promotion of revolutionary change so that women can express their innate characters (which can include their antifeminine, destructive impulses). He spells out that this is superior to conforming to the conventional feminine characteristics of patience or faith in  producing more superficial cosmetic affects (being a good make-up artist).

two levels in BS

So, there are at least two levels of interest with regard to heterogeneity in Marechera’s BS.

1. The autobiographical and additional sociological reasons for alienation. ( This speaks to the author’s drive to increase self awareness and achieve healing.)

2. The metaphysical experiment of exploring (and exploiting) heterogeneity through a confrontation with one’s own death. The metaphysical approach is predicated on the notion that the ego is itself a social construction, the existence of which is directly derived from that which is excluded from it on principle (these are presocial or antisocial elements aspects of being, which are relegated to the unconscious to become repressed). The same forces get a different treatment, depending on whether they pertain to the ego or to the unconscious. Thus, the possiblity of incest (at a presocial level) becomes the character of the father and conformity (after working through the Oedipus complex) at the level of ego. Thus, also as we see more generally today in the West, the continuously strong tendency to engage in imperialist wars and neocolonialism as part of the unconscious identity of Westerners becomes a kneejerk condemnation of the colonialism of the past at the level of ego. And so on.

facing death

Heterogeneity is also about confronting one’s contingency and therefore one’s death. According to Bataille, facing death was one of the sternest tasks he took upon himself to do. I guess that death is precisely what we are compelled to face when all ego defences are bypassed. It is at the end of BLACK SUNLIGHT that the author faces his own death in the most obvious way. Yet, throughout the book, there are various experiences which bring the writer/protagonist very close to danger, and to some extent close to confronting his own death (whether through existential threat, psychosis, injury, of the deaths of those around him).

A confrontation with death is in fact sobering, rather than intoxicating.

A confrontation with life without its masks, is both ecstatic (intoxicating) and grief-ridden (sobering) simultaneously. Here, we enter the heterogeneous realm of deep and joyful ambivalence.

heterogeneity and trolls

Heterogeneity is expressed when we do something which doesn’t have the value of promoting us or emphasizing our abilities with regard to a production context. It is behaviour for its own sake, and not for the sake of the good of society. A troll  is one who engages in heterogeneous behaviour. Perhaps the troll mistakenly thinks that he is placing himself against the productive behaviours of others, through his trolling. Trolling becomes his very minor and affected way of expressing his heterogeneity, which he achieves by subjectively placing himself against the behaviour which he thinks produces public value.

There are positive manifestations of heterogeneous whims, although it is in the nature of heterogeneity that one can never prove aspects of heterogeneity publicly, no matter how good they seem. All expressions of excitability and pleasure which do not serve to put you into the positive books of some denizen of the production process could be considered positive aspects of heterogeneity (at least, as I am inclined to think of them.)
Well, I’m off to grade some martial arts students.

Through the open window, blows the slashing winds

The heterogeneous parts of our beings are the parts which our educational processes teach us to eschew. The goal of a modernist educational project is to make us all into interchangeable parts -- highly calculable, highly predictable, and highly transparent, in terms of our beings. Once we are transformed into such a pattern of thinking and behaving, we can fulfil a productive role in society. 

The spontaneous and unpredictable parts of who we otherwise would be will have been eradicated from our minds and bodies. We can then be utilised as part of a machine within a giant and more or less (depending on the efficiency of our education) predictable machine. That machine is social order.

To the degree that our educational processes have fit us for the modernist order in an efficient and thorough way, the lure of heterogeneity will lose its attraction for us. In fact our now much more narrow egos (identifying with self and its sense of social order but not with others) will exclude heterogeneous aspects from our conscious minds, automatically. That which is heterogeneous about life will not seem attractive at all (as stated), but these elements will rather appear to be “silly”, “trivial”, “beneath us”, “repugnant”, and so on. This all has to do with the processes of ego defence. We have internalized the lesson that in order to be accepted in society, we have to reject the elements of non-uniformity in ourselves and others. This outcome is a product of the metaphorical working out of the Oedipus Complex (I do not take this too literally — it depicts the dynamics of weaker human beings and their developmental processes in relation to unbending authorities). For those who have been processed fully by the factories of education (and who are therefore, in an almost entirely negative sense, “mature”), to realistically entertain thoughts of heterogeneity is to invite the descent of the superego — a punishment for thinking to break the rules of homogeneous conformity!

For the reasons of this particular dynamic governing our access to things relegated to the unconscious as forbidden to the rational human being, BLACK SUNLIGHT is the hardest book to read in a fluid and persistent manner, from beginning to end. That is because the book is made up almost entirely of aspects of life which we have all (more or less) eschewed as aspects that serve to make us less civilised than we would be. To read BLACK SUNLIGHT persistently is therefore to challenge one’s own unconscious to become more flexible, less rigid, in what it allows one to see.

BLACK SUNLIGHT is the most resistant book to read also because the unconscious will keep clamping down, as if to suggest that what is being read is “merely trivial”, “ridiculous”, “offensive and irrelevant” and so on. This is all the more indication that one is dealing with genuinely heterogeneous material, which the blindly conformist part of one’s mind automatically seeks to protect one from!

I spent more than a year trying to read this book. I read parts of it, and digested parts of it. The parts I read were intense — but always, inevitably, my mind would keep switching off from what I was reading. I took in small sections of what seemed like hilarious and acute political observations and criticisms. Yet, as the writing fragmented or changed pace, I couldn’t keep up with it. There were too many windows to look out of, as well as too much outside of the windows to take in. I had to put the book down and allow my mind time to digest it all.

Finally, one day, I’d made enough progress that I did manage to read the book through from beginning to end. I must admit that my nerves were shattered by the experience! I no longer was reading the book as if it was raising issues which were really trivial or desperate means of attention-getting using material designed to be offensive. It was almost like a different gestalt had seized my mind. Through the open window, I now saw the actual state of life as it really was, vulnerable, delicate and endangered — without any safety nets. My ego was no longer defending me from other people’s realities — nor even from my own experience of reading.

I now felt the ubiquity of danger all around. I experienced the lack of protection of the homogeneous mindset. The book seemed to race from one situation of danger to another, without relief. I felt my heart (and my stomach!) dropping out of me, within a series of “juddering plunges”. I came to feel that this book contained throughout the multidimensional aspects of its storyline, a deeply intimate exposé of both a universal and highly specific self, and its vulnerabilities in the face of the impersonal forces of life. From a perspective of homogeneous life and its concomitant quality of social conformity, this theme of the nakedness of self must also, I believe, imply an authorial self-pity. However, I did not find any self-pity in this book, but rather a courageous facing of reality as it actually is, in its broadest dimensions, with an approach of black humour and deep layers of style. It is the sheer courage of the book in exposing what it does, and in allowing us to see what we would not normally dare to see, which invokes tears.

This is a powerful book — but due to its power, it is resistant to reading on the first attempt. An opposing power relating directly to the reader’s need for security and one’s  desire for social homogeneity serves to insulate us to a large extent from experiencing this book, so that it’s only on the forth or fifth readings that we can truly engage with it.

the anguish of heterogeneity (exclusion from the homogeneous herd)

“I don’t care what you do with me, Brer Fox, says he, “Just so you don’t fling me in that briar patch. Roast me, Brer Fox, says he, “But don’t fling me in that briar patch.”

“It’s so much trouble to kindle a fire,” says Brer Fox, says he, “that I expect I’d better hang you,” says he.

“Hang me just as high as you please, Brer Fox, says Brer Rabbit, says he, “but for the Lord’s sake, don’t fling me in that briar patch,” says he.

“I don’t have any string, ” says Brer Fox, says he, “Now I expect I had better drown you, ” says he.

“Drown me just as deep as you please, Brer Fox,” says Brer Rabbit, says he, “But please do not fling me in that briar patch, ” says he.

“There’s no water near here,” says Brer Fox, says he, “And now I reckon I’d better skin you,” says he.

“Skin me Brer Fox,” says he. “Snatch out my eyeballs, tear out my ears by the roots,” says he, “But please, Brer Fox, don’t fling me in that briar patch, ” says he.

Of course, Brer Fox wanted to get Brer Rabbit as bad as he could, so he caught him by the behind legs and slung him right in the middle of the briar patch. There was a considerable flutter when Brer Rabbit struck the bushes, and Brer Fox hung around to see what was going to happen.

By and by he heard someone call his name and ‘way up on the hill he saw Brer Rabbit sitting cross-legged on a chinquapin log combing the tar pitch out of his hair with a chip. Then Brer Fox knew he had been tricked.

Brer Rabbit hollered out, “Born and bred in the briar patch. I was born and bred in the briar patch!” And with that he skipped out just as lively as a cricket in the embers of a fire.

heterogeneity

Take a look at the list of things heterogeneous below. When I was growing up, a lot more of these things were permitted as normal — although certainly not to an absolute degree! Compared to my experiences in growing up in Africa, those who grow up today have an inner life which is totally spiritually emaciated. It seems to me that their schooling system has been designed to remove all things heterogeneous from their lives and thinking.

It is almost like you are all castrated by the time you reach early adulthood!

(My exclusion from the homogeneous herd will be my punishment for having said this.)