7.18.2010

Some Thoughts on Love



This something that I've been working out and, at the end of said working out, is seems achingly, embarrassingly obvious. But I'll proffer it nonetheless. Here it goes:

Love is an abiding attraction to another point of view.

Now, I wanted to say that love is an attraction to another point of view that you want to be around a lot. But that's one version of love, namely, lust. Lust can be for another person but you can lust for a book, work of art, film. When I first saw Sarah Sze's installation sculpture at SF MOMA, "Things Fall Apart," I was in lust, going to the museum everyday just to be near it, take it in, enjoy it. I would giggle at all its moves: I was attracted to its point of view, to the way it distributes the world.

Because love abides, the object need not be close. There are people I love, things I love, that I not only rarely see but rarely want to see. I appreciate how these people, or these things, go. But that doesn't mean I want to be near them. Just as there are things I sometimes want to be around that I don't love, things whose point of view I don't appreciate — I just want to touch a piece of them, their shiny surface, their glimmer.

Love is an abiding attraction to another point of view.

One thing I really like about this formulation is that love is not about unity but difference: I love another point of view, one that is not my own. And yet I am attracted to it. This point of view, then, is not utterly different; it is not alien. It resonates with how I go, fits with my network but without becoming the same as me.

This formulation also removes love from a pure abstraction. It makes love practical, a matter of harmonies and convergences. And yet it does not rely on some radical materialism. On the contrary, this formulation is situated at the juncture of the visible and the invisible, outside the dichotomy that would keep body and spirit apart.

Love is an abiding how that resonates with a different particular how. What I like about this formulation is that it makes love a mode of going with rather than a unification. It's not that love makes me whole. It's that love makes me resonate like this.

7.10.2010

"A Serious Man": Job - God = Kafka

Watch this (can't embed): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vGRrnRvMpTU


A quick though on the Coen Brothers' A Serious Man, a film that slayed me, evacuated me, left me shaking.

They took the story of Job but eliminated the back story — Job, a man of faith, becomes the object of a wager between God and Satan. That back story gives reason to the madness Job endures. Take away God and what are you left with? A shit storm.

But more than a shit storm per se we're left with something more horrifying, more horrible than a world that is as senseless as it is brutal. We're left with the brutality of an invisible, unapproachable, and incomprehensible sense.

What makes "A Serious Man" so brutal is that our poor non-hero, Larry Gopnik, finds himself at the mercy of terms that make no sense to him but seem to make sense to everyone else. He is mired in a discourse that determines him and his role and yet he has no access to these terms. Not only can he not change these terms, he doesn't even know what the terms are. Every move he makes to make sense is thwarted as insane, ludicrous, unacceptable.

He is thoroughly outside the discourse — and yet there is no outside. Hence, the horror: there is no escape, no alternate set of terms, nowhere to run. All we have is the Jolly Roger.

And this — this lack of an outside coupled with no access to an inside — is the horror of Kafka. It is not just the horror of a world without God to make sense. It is worse: it is a life without God that nevertheless does have a sense — a rigorous, hegemonic, over-determinative sense. Only you have no access to it and are offered neither respite nor escape.

7.03.2010

Postures and Gestures

Rather than beings and behaviors, these things that act and these things that do, I proffer this: postures and gestures.

A posture is a way of standing towards things. A gesture is a way of operating with things.

We stand towards things, and we operate with things.

A posture is akin to a state, only a temporal state. A gesture is a type of action — type, yes, but a type of action.

To be affirmative is to have a posture of standing towards the world with generosity and enthusiasm. To be ironic is to gesture the lack of veracity of expression — which can be either affirmative or negative or both affirmative and negative.

A posture — affirmative, negative, disdainful, joyful — can entail certain gestures — the affirmational tends towards the welcoming, elicitive greeting. But that relationship is by no means disease/symptom, truth and derivative: each inflects the other. Postures and gestures are not strictly parallel modes.

By assuming these anything but absolute figures, we avoid the being/attribute dichotomy, as if there were first bodies and then the thing that happen to them. A posture is not a being but a way of being, a perspective, a pov on the scene. A gesture, meanwhile, is any of the number of ways of doing this or that: reversing, exaggerating, downplaying, cutting and pasting.

Together, they begin to proffer an ontology in and of motion, events, time.

The Affect of Knowing

My 6 year old is a know-it-all. He has mastered the art of the declarative claim. "Dad," he'll say, "some planes can go 1000, or 24, fast." Needless to say, such claims are insane. Some are not: "Scorpion pinchers are not long enough to bite through motorcycle clothing."

It's a tone, yes, but it's also the structure of the claim — a thing, its action, a number. Sometimes, the three elements are of a type; as often, they are not. No matter. It's the affect that counts.

And this is what interests me. We learn how to make claims to knowledge as much as we learn facts per se. Learning is a matter of taking on a posture, inhabiting a pose, of making the right gestures. We learn the affect of knowing.