Dear Diary Moments:

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d63
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Re: Dear Diary Moments:

Post by d63 »

Dear Diary Moment 12/20/2020:


“Certain Chinese philosophers writing in, perhaps, the -5th and -4th centuries explained ideas and a way of life that have come to be known as Taoism –the way of man’s cooperation with the course or trend of the natural world, whose principles we discover in the flow patterns of water, gas, and fire, which are subsequently memorialized or sculptured in those of stone and wood, and, later, in many forms of art.” –from Alan Watt’s Tao: The Watercourse Way


This revisit to Watts (I haven’t read him since the mid 90’s (has pretty much confirmed what I have suspected for some time now: that Watt’s form of Taoism has had a major influence on my conception of the nihilistic perspective. I even began to worry that I was basically rehashing it while making it seem edgier by bringing in the term “nihilism”. However, as the above quote has brought me to realize, there is one clear line of demarcation between the two: while Taoism tends to anchor itself to the general flow of nature, the nihilistic perspective tends to focus more on the very underlying nothingness expressed in the Taoist concept of the yin (the feminine (the negative upon which the positive is interdependent. We can only conceive of nothing because something exists. Still, something only makes sense in contrast to the possibility of it not being. The plot thickens.


But a lot implications and overlaps come out in the thick of it. Taoism defines itself as that which cannot be defined. The nihilistic perspective loses itself the minute it begins to justify itself. Justifying is what results in glum characters dressed in black who punctuate every statement with a long sigh that trials into silence and ends with: not that it matters anyway. What this fails to recognize is that being tapped into the underlying nothingness of things in no way commits us to negativity. I mean how can nothingness have such a fixed trajectory?


But the main compatibility I want to point to is how the two, while having a clear difference of orientation or sensibility, are perfectly capable of accommodating the other. Taoism would tend to accept the nihilistic perspective as just another expression of the flow of nature. The nihilistic perspective, on the other hand, would accept the Taoist approach as just one trajectory out of the underlying nothingness of things among others. As it would with Christianity, it would recognize that while there is no real foundation for embracing such a belief system, there is equally no real foundation for not embracing it.
d63
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Re: Dear Diary Moments:

Post by d63 »

Dear Diary Moment 1/16/2021:

One of the main things that is coming out of this second approach to Donald Bogue’s Deleuze on Music, Painting, and the Arts is the connection Deleuze saw (especially in his work with Guatarri (between the human creative act and nature in general. And, here again, we return to Bergson’s point (a major influence on French culture as well as other cultures): that nature is inherently creative.

But I’m mainly working in initial wider swipes here. And in a general sense, I’m starting to appreciate the extent to which the book goes into zoological and social biological research in order to describe how D & G propped up their arguments. And it may (given my 70’s addled brain (take a few more runs to fully grasp it all. But one that did stick was a point made about the connection between art (in its general sense (and territoriality. Bogue, for instance, points out how the colors on tropical fish that inhabit coral reefs are often determined by the space they occupy on that reef.

And all this makes sense to me given my long held belief that art (in all its forms including literature and even interior design (is about conditioning both internal and external space. We basically do it in order to mark our space. Furthermore, it goes to the extent to which artists find their selves in litigation processes over copyright issues.

Which brings us to another question: regardless of the positive aspects of it described above, doesn’t it also risk landing us in what D & G refer to as a “paranoid center”? I mean we tend to think of art as a liberating force.

But still….
d63
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Re: Dear Diary Moments:

Post by d63 »

Dear Diary Moment 1/17/2021:

One of the cool things about this reading of Donald Bogue’s Deleuze on Music, Painting, and the Arts is that it is really crystallizing a lot of often vague understandings I have arrived at from my extensive library of books by and about Deleuze -w/ and w/out Guatarri.

Take, for instance, D&G’s understanding of the refrain and that music is defined by a deterritorialization of the refrain. Here we can see continuity in Deleuze’s thought going back to Difference and Repetition. As I understood (and still understand it), the cornerstone of the book was a analytic/metaphysical assertion:

That even a pure repetition must consist of different instances of the same thing; therefore, the only thing that can ever really be repeated is difference: a state of becoming.

In other words, for our purposes here, the territorialization that defines a refrain always carries within itself the seeds of its own deterritorialization. And anyone that has engaged in the creative act knows this. It is always a process of repeating what you know until you somehow get beyond it. And we better understand how this very refrain works in nature when we consider the three functions it can serve:

As point of order such as when a child sings a song when walking through a dark and isolated place.

A circle of control such as when an animal marks their territory.

And, finally, as a line of flight such as the repetitions of genetic code that allow us to evolve while anchoring us from becoming deformed freaks.


In short: every refrain, every repetition, every territorilization holds, within itself, the seeds of its own deterritorialization, its own becoming.
d63
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Re: Dear Diary Moments:

Post by d63 »

Dear Diary Moment 1/22/2021:

Reading Ronald Bogue’s Deleuze on Music, Painting, and the Arts, I’m feeling more confident in my sense that Deleuze’s Plane of Immanence is similar to what I call that dynamic background flux of knowledge. I experienced it back in the early 90’s when I took a job at a local university and took advantage of its employee scholarship and found out I could actually be (as compared to high school: just check out my high school transcripts (an A student. It was as if every time I came to understand something new, it felt as if the knowledge was always there, but that I just hadn’t articulated it yet. And this coincides with Deleuze’s recognition (w/ and w/out Guatarri (that concepts tend to emerge out of this Plane of Immanence. And I can see a parallel with (having engaged in a few creative acts throughout my process (the Plane of Composition from which the affects and percepts of creative acts emerge. Furthermore, we can see this as a stepping stone to what D&G recognized as the Body w/out Organs: a concept based on the writer Artaud. Struggle as we may with the concept, it really does help to recognize how lurid the term BwO actually feels. You have to ask why Deleuze would utilize such a poetic concept.

That all said, this is where I blue-collarize (even vulgarize (the term for the sake of a steppingstone towards the more subtle understanding of it that committed Deleuzians have. It seems to me that we can see an overlap with a dialectic offered in Arthur Lupia’s Uninformed: Why People Know so Little about Politics and What We can do About It. He offered a process that started with information (both formal and informal (that is added to a knowledge base that is then cashed in for the sake of competence: the ability to address a given environmental factor or issue.

(And here again we are broaching the pragmatic overlap between Deleuze and Rorty as concerns the endgame described here: competence (that which works (as compared to intelligence.)

I don’t know about you guys, but I can see an expression of the Plane of Immanence at work in the knowledge base described in Lupia’s model, that which is intertwined with our more emotional responses to the information fed into it. I can see it at work in the Plane of Composition from which I was often drawing when I engaged in creative acts: something that was already there waiting for me to crystallize it.
d63
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Joined: Sat Apr 05, 2014 4:55 pm

Re: Dear Diary Moments:

Post by d63 »

Dear Diary Moment 1/31/2021:

I have, as of late, been listening to the audio book for Kurt Anderson’s Evil Geniuses: a book I highly recommend: and came up against a concept I had encountered in a previous audio book I cannot recall the name of: the Overton Window. As it was explained in the previous book, what rightwing factions had done is work persistently to make fringe belief systems more mainstream. Think: Tea Party –the very Tea Party we dismissed as being so frivolous as to not even worry about. And basically what the Tea Party did was do the footwork of stacking government at all levels and use contingent events in order to put their selves in the middle of Overton’s Window. A similar approach was used in the 70’s (as Anderson suggests and Naomi Klein describes in her Shock Doctrine (when Neo-Liberals (kranked on Freidman (charged into the 80’s through the Overton Window created by the stagnation of the 70’s.

But as Anderson also pointed out, we may be looking at an Overton Window for progressives given the self-destructive path Republicans seem to be going down. He even, Lewis, connected it with a Kuhnian Paradigm Shift. On top of that, we as progressives and social democrats have time and demographics on our side as my fellow white baby boomers are dying off and have no way of avoiding what is coming: whites becoming a majority/minority.

This is our Overton Window, our Paradigm Shift. But as Anderson also pointed out, when societies come up against a crisis (such as the emergence of fascism in America (that could change things, people generally turn to the orphan ideas that happen to be lying around (much as America did when the great depression hit: the New Deal based on previous Marxist ideas about how to create a more just society.

This is why we as progressives and social democrats have got to be patient and persistent, why we have to keep hitting the right in the voting booths (at all levels), and why we have to keep having these discourses in the good faith of the democratic process and what is best for all parties involved: the very ideas that might lead to the kind of society we could live comfortably in. Once again: time and demographics are on our side. This is our Overton Window as long as we don’t fuck it up.

To put it in more nominal terms, guys: we are in the fight for our lives as citizens of a democratic society. We either meet the challenge and exploit this opportunity (this window (or we are fucked.
d63
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Re: Dear Diary Moments:

Post by d63 »

Dear Diary Moment 2/5/2021:

Presently, in my process, I find myself going back to Walter Kaufman’s Existentialism from Dostoevsky to Sartre, a book I haven’t read since the 90’s. And in this particular run (what, having been a wannabe artist, could be called a layer), I find it appropriate that Kaufman chose to start with Dostoevsky’s ‘Notes from Underground’ in the sense that it demonstrates (and I apologize for my blatant (if not outright vulgar (cherry-picking (what I have thought for some time now: that Existentialism is basically an expression of the nihilistic perspective that has haunted our cultural history since the beginning of civilization. Romanticism, for instance, was the recognition of the lack of a solid foundation for Greek classicism. Skepticism was an application of that lack of a solid foundation while Existentialism was pretty much the nihilistic perspective with an excuse. Postmodernism seems, to me at least, like a form of play in the sandbox that the nihilistic perspective offers.

And we can see this in the way that ‘Notes from Underground’ picks at the underlying foundations (that is if they ever existed in the first place (that prop up some of our basic assumptions. The underground man, for instance, goes after the assumption that reason must (by its very nature (seek the welfare of the individual. But as he also pointed out, the human capacity for chaos and destruction is undeniable: what Freud would later refer to as the “death instinct”. He argues that our capacity for reason does not assure an optimal outcome: an anti-enlightenment position. And America should be really privy to this given the Trump era and what followed from it.

In this sense, the underground man seems almost prescient.
d63
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Re: Dear Diary Moments:

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Dear Diary Moment 2/14/2021:

Just started reading the new issue of Philosophy Now today on Time, Identity, and Free Will. And I’m a little surprised that they’re still speaking in terms of “free will” which I think outdated, that is since the term “participation” (that is since Ken Taylor of Philosophy Talk fame introduced me to it (seems a much better and practical (albeit lower (target to be achieved in the face of determinism. I mean if you think about it (in an analytical manner even), if there is a chance for participation, it has to lie in some vague no-man’s-land between the determined and the chance (or aleatory as Deleuze would put it. And given that, we can think of it in terms of evolution and the feedback loop that occurs between the body, its brain, and the environment it is always attempting to negotiate. It seems to me that it would come out of a kind of inductance (what Deleuze and Guatarri would refer to as the disjunctive synthesis of the unconscious (that involves the tension that might emerge within the individual events at work in any given situation.

I’m mainly bouncing off of Kevin Loughran’s ‘Free Will and the Brain’ (which amusingly sounds like Pinky and the Brain which I own for my granddaughter (but I digress (and have brought Deleuze and Guatarri into this for a reason. In it, Loughran lists, among the kind choices we make, improvisation. He immediately refers to a jazz band. And as luck would have it, I have a little experience with this as I, in my early years, though it my manifest destiny to be rock star. I know what it is to jam. And it is as John Cage described it: not as spontaneous as one might think.

It rather involves the model Deleuze lays out in Repetition and Difference: a matter of repeating a thing until the momentum of the repetition moves one beyond the repletion: difference. Jamming is a matter of repeating what you know (which is why most jams sound, at a fundamental level, the same (until you somehow get to something you’ve never done before. And every creative act I’ve engaged in since has pretty much followed that pattern. Furthermore, it seems to me that the self transcendence involved is analogous to what I’m describing as participation above. In adapting to our environments, we repeat until novel circumstances forces us to tweak the repetition.
d63
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Re: Dear Diary Moments:

Post by d63 »

Dear Diary Moment 2/19/2021:

“We believe the government and its co-conspirators are hiding all sorts of monstrous truths from us— concerning assassinations, extraterrestrials, the genesis of AIDS, the 9/ 11 attacks, the dangers of vaccines, and so much more. We stockpile guns because we fantasize about our pioneer past, or in anticipation of imaginary shootouts with thugs and terrorists. We acquire military costumes and props in order to pretend we’re soldiers— or elves or zombies— fighting battles in which nobody dies, and enter fabulously realistic virtual worlds to do the same. And that was all before we became familiar with the terms post-factual and post-truth, before we elected a president with an astoundingly open mind about conspiracy theories, what’s true and what’s false, the nature of reality. We have passed through the looking glass and down the rabbit hole. America has mutated into Fantasyland.” -Andersen, Kurt. Fantasyland (pp. 5-6). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Just started on Kurt Anderson’s Fantasyland: How America went Haywire: a 500 Year History. And it’s been a bit of revelation meeting his work:

For one, he’s working in the zone that I want to: that which straddles theory and common social/political/economic criticism. This is why, while I’ve pretty much dived into high theory, I’ve always expressed a certain amount of hesitation in doing so. There has always been a question at the back of my mind:

“How much of this do I really need to understand?”

For another (and closely connected to the above), he writes in a style I aspire to: not hard to understand but clever (even humorous (in its offhand references. I mainly started with him with audio books in which he did the narration. And I’m amazed at the writing style I should have seen at work in the banter I listened to him engage in on the Studio 360 podcast.

But most important here is his exploration of something I’ve been seeing at work for some time: the surprising extent that fantasy is playing in the sensibility of the right. It’s like they have been watching way too many Rambo movies. And nowhere was this clearer than in their invasion of the Capital Building. They clearly thought of their selves as modern day patriots fighting off their version of the Brits. But fancy met with reality and they developed authentic imaginations. And note how many of them are renouncing their association with the group that instigated it, including QANON Shaman.

And the sad thing about that is how many of those people, who would have never had any encounter with the law were it not for getting caught up in that moment (that fantasy), are now facing extended jail sentences.
d63
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Re: Dear Diary Moments:

Post by d63 »

Dear Diary Moment 4/10/2021:

Having just embarked on Rorty’s Truth and Progress for the second time, I am starting to see more clearly the bias at work in my claim of a pragmatic overlap between Rorty and Deleuze. It’s just that they both seem to give me license to do what I’m instinctively inclined to do (that is not being formally trained: take in a lot of different information from a lot of different sources (the rhizomatic approach), let it churn around in my head, see what happens and what I produce, and see what withstands the test of time and reality: the pragmatic approach.
d63
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Re: Dear Diary Moments:

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Dear Diary Moment 4/22/2021:

As I ride up to the end of Rorty’s Truth and Progress, I’m starting to better appreciate what a radical break he made from his analytic roots. It was as if he found Jesus and decided to convert to the Continental approach in that he chose to bounce off of philosophical history (very much like Deleuze, BTW…. Once again: the pragmatic overlap (while abandoning the more a-historical approach of the analytic movement –that which works in the spirit of science by working off of the latest and greatest research.

Even more radical was how good he got at explaining that history (as well as the historical context of the given philosopher (going back to more ancient forms such as Plato right up to his contemporaries such as Davidson.
d63
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Re: Dear Diary Moments:

Post by d63 »

Dear Diary Moment 4/29/2021:

In this run through Claire Colebrook’s Routledge guide to Deleuze, I’m starting to get a better understanding of Deleuze’s univocal being, something that stuck to my filters on the first reading. Of course, these types of experience often end in frustration. (Once again: it’s often like a hot French woman who makes you think you can have her then, when you approach her, walks away –that very much like one of the final scenes in Sartre’s Nausea. And I mean it: damn the French and their weird/obscure philosophies anyway.) As I understand it now, we have to let go of this idea that there is a subject (some distinct thing observing its experiences) and an object (the outside world that is “out there”). What this results in are dichotomies like that of Idealism and Empiricism that seek to establish some kind of hierarchy based on what Rorty referred to as Ontological Status: an issue of what kind of things are more real or are a truer expression of being. This is why Deleuze rejects Baudrillard’s distinction between the real and the virtual, the days when things were more real and the eerily ubiquitous Simulacrum. As Deleuze saw it, the so-called Simulacrum was always with us as can be seen in the syntheses he offered in Difference and Repetition (based on Kant (that starts with the sensible, moves on to the imaginary (I’m guessing in the spirit of Lacan), then to memory and on to recognition.

What Deleuze asks us to do is see the observer and observed as one and the same thing in a situation in which neither has a higher status. For instance, when we embrace Idealism, we see the mind as having more ontological status than what is out there. When we embrace empiricism, we see what is out there as having more ontological status than what we experience. But if we see ourselves as little more than a collection of experiences in a causal (even fractal (matrix of exchanges of energy, we work our way beyond the competitive evolutionary mode we started out with and take a major step towards a more cooperative mode in which we see our interests in expanding circles of the other’s interests.

And, at first, I saw univocal being as a threat to my own conceptual model of the Perceiving Thing: that which is looking out of (in an isolated way (objects occupying each other’s space. But I think it survives it much as it did Dennett’s Multiple Draft Theory (think Deleuze’s variation on Kant’s synthesis), that which he presented to undermine the notion of the Cartesian Theater. Much like Deleuze’s univocal being, all Dennett’s Multiple Draft Theory does is make the actors observers (perceiving things (of their own play.
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