5.26.2011

The Pleasure of Proliferating Perspectives

When I was in high school, my American History teacher — the late, great Robert Tucker — had us read Gabriel Kolko's essay on the formation of the USDA in which Kolko claimed that the USDA and its dispensation of approval — those assuring gradations of meat — were not born of consumer advocacy but were in fact a foil of the meat industry, an industry suffering due to Upton Sinclair’s "The Jungle" which exposed the grotesqueries of meat packing.

The USDA, then, was not only not there to protect my fellow citizens and me — it was in fact an elaborate abuse of governmental ethos, a ploy to move product, a product which may very well be harmful to the very citizens the USDA was nominally formed to protect.

At first, I thought I was attracted to this act of revelation, the truth unleashed from the dissimulation of authority. But that was not it at all.

What attracted me, what sent my heart a flutter, was the radical shifting of perspectives. Which is to say, it was not the new perspective per se which interested me: it was the very act of seeing things differently.

It took me some time to realize that I was not in accord with the revisionist Marxists. They wanted to reveal a perspective, their perspective. What I wanted, however, was to have that moment — that moment when the world rearranges itself before my eyes, reorganizes itself into new configurations, that glorious moment when the world is born anew, when everything I thought was the truth turns out to be just another configuration, that moment when the dead world is reanimated — I wanted that moment again and again and again.

And this is what I love so much about taking up new and different philosophers: I want to see the world utterly anew. I want to have everything I know, my ordering of the universe, to be reassembled — Nietzsche's biting reversals and insistent physiology; Hegel's schizo chorus comedy of errors; Kant's mad mad rational wacky architecture; Derrida's pedantic double gestures; Deleuze and Guattari's intensities, folds, and planes of immanence; Bergson's endurance and flash of intuition: I want them all.

I'm not looking for the right one: they're all right in their way. No, I don't want what's right: I want the pleasure, the delight, the delirium of all those different ways.

Each thinker gives me a different way of making sense — and the more I read, the more I digest them, the more this multiplicity plays through my head, through my eyes, through my blood and guts.

And so then I can see the world in radically disparate ways all at once, an endlessly shifting series of planes of understanding, the world aligning and realigning itself at infinite speed. It is a an exquisite vertigo, a thrill of relentless (re)creation, an erotics of the world folding over and through itself. And I love it.

15 comments:

drwatson said...

This relates to what I wrote today - which was essentially trying to deal with the question of living a worthwhile life in a post-religious, post-centered world. I think about that question about as much as I think about any question. It's interesting to be reading David Foster Wallace's posthumous novel after reading the chapter Dreyfus and Kelly wrote on him in their book All Things Shining - not sure if you've seen their book or not, but it's sort of dealing with the same question from Heidegger's perspective, which is certainly expected from Dreyfus.

Wallace basically said that what you have to do is choose what you think about, think hard and stay aware as much as possible - and Dreyfus and Kelly interpret that as a kind of Nietzschean nihilism, which i can't quite agree with. Though, I don't know that I agree with Heidegger's take on Nietzsche - that he was the end of metaphysics, the one who closed the circle opened by Plato.

dustygravel said...

Dreyfus, what a champ.
I listened to his lectures on Heidegger two years ago — been an expert ever sense.(I admit I haven't read more then a chapter of being and time) For me life is good in heidegger land, I'm always thrown into situations, projected out into possible futures, and falling into the stark realization that all I am is a being in the world.

My being in the world is care,
or whatever I give a shit about.

Strange that I used to paint houses as I listened to those lectures, now I am a caregiver at an adult family home. Feeding residents and Cleaning shits, watching a multiplicity of digestions from start to finish day after day. whats stranger is that I actually enjoy this.

But what I really enjoy is all the madness; reassuring an old man that there are no children under his bed, convincing some one that the man in the mirror is gone that he wont come back, handing a lien puppet to an old women when she asks for her baby — I'm flored by the way she will scream and sneer at every human being in the house then with out skipping a beat go back to gently cradling that raged old stuffed animal, its strangely enjoyable to me.

But any way, all that to say that I know what you're talking about, Coffeen.
"Each thinker gives me a different way of making sense",
And I love it.

@drwatson: Whats the circle opened by Plato?

drwatson said...

@dustygravel - yeah Dreyfus is great. I've taught sections of his book On The Internet and have been trying to find a section of his What Computers (Still) Can't Do that would work for my students. I listened to those lectures to and his exuberance is amazing.

In terms of the circle and Plato - which now seems like a clunky phrase on my part - I'm referring to Heidegger's argument that metaphysics extends from Nietzsche to Plato. Plato starts by valuing the suprasensible over the sensible and then after many twists and turns throughout the history of metaphysics Nietzsche reverses the dichotomy, valuing only the sensible. Heidegger basically says that Nietzsche made the last move - there's nothing left to be done in metaphysics.

dustygravel said...

@drwatson deleuze is a different metaphysics then? He's talking about imminence — right, how is he able to make sense of that word?

And
If metaphysics as plato would have it is done and the sensible is all that maters then
why can't computers be Dasein too? Being for its self.
Is that the question Dreyfus answers in that book? All I remember him saying about Ai is that you cant get it by punching in patterns for recognition. It was a while ago its all kinda hazy now.

@Coffeen I wonder what Lacan would say about the guy that screams death threats in the mirror?
(referring to my story above)
Just a thought

Daniel Coffeen said...

Heidegger Shmeidegger.

Badiou calls Deleuze a metaphysician. Which he is. I think. Certainly "more" than Nietzsche. But I'm not sure "metaphysics" can be so clearly delineated or defined. Is metaphysics that which claims the invisible determines the visible? Ideas determine the world? What about concepts and affect? Are they phenomenal or metaphysical? Is Merleau-Ponty's chiasmus metaphysical?

As for Lacan: Lacan Shmacan.

How's that for no response?

Chad Lott said...

USDA trivia:

Salughterhouses in the U.S. are required to have a special bathroom for the exclusive use of their USDA inspector.

drwatson said...

I don't understand Lacan. I read, but I don't get it. All the psychoanalysis people - Kristeva too - I just don't understand what they're talking about half the time.

Heidegger - I just don't agree. He got me thinking in ways that I will always be indebted. I had the pleasure of studying with a professor who had met Heidegger in Germany and studied with Gadamer. Heidegger changed the way the world looked for me and I would say his books on Nietzche, his essay The Question Concerning Technology or his writings on objects - The Thing, Building, Dwelling, and Thinking are wonderful. And I'm not sure have a Deleuze without a Heidegger. Foucault on his deathbed said Heidegger was the guy for him. Derrida, it goes without saying.

drwatson said...

@Dustygravel - I'm still a bit confused about Immanence. Coffeen, maybe you could help here?

drwatson said...

In terms of metaphysics - this isn't me prodding your dislike of Heidegger - but I've thought he was write that metaphysics is ontotheological. Metaphysics is the science that determines beings by Being. So, I guess yes, the invisible determines the visible. But I've never thought Merleau-Ponty was doing that. I think what's great about him is that he made me rethink the nature of the invisible. I'm preaching to the choir, I know, but his invisible is always bound by the visible - like a twisted rope, or some better analogy I can't think of.

dustygravel said...

@drwatson: The way I look at lacan his self reflection is a type of objectification where one makes one self in to an object of thought, there by projecting oneself into the objective world. If that makes any sense at all.

So if its through projecting our subjectivity into the object of our reflection in a mirror that we enter the world and gain our ego, than I wander what's happing to an alzheimer's patient when he's screaming death threats at the guy in the mirror.
I mean it sure seams like his egos is still intact but the object that is supposed to hold his ego is a intruder.

Wandering what the fuck I'm doin?
Just an Amateur trying to make new configurations thats all. Long live metaphysics

dustygravel said...

@Coffeen: Is Lacan really a shaman?

"As for Lacan: Lacan Shmacan."

69959e5a-57e2-11e0-a3a5-000bcdcb2996 said...

Government has nothing to do with radical thinking. All social change comes from the passion and aggression of individual minds.

Daniel Coffeen said...

A flurry of fragments here.....

Immanence: a way of thinking of boundaries that move, bodies that are bodies rather than pure dissemination. For Deleuze, the world is always already coming into shape, coming into form: it is becoming as differentiation. But in order for something to differentiate itself, it has to be(come) something — that, to me, is immanence.

Now, I have no idea what pure immanence is.

Lacan: I've read some things I've loved; other things were silly.

As for Heidegger, I haven't looked at it for 15 years or more. Back then, I found him humorless and joyless. But I am willing to admit I was wrong. But it's more fun to dismiss him offhand.

@Chad: fucking perfectly hilarious.

drwatson said...

I will readily admit that Heidegger isn't funny. I would love a philosophic exploration of comedy. The phenomenology of the laugh or something. I feel the same way about music. I'm not sure anyone's written on music that way. Someone must have, but I am not aware of it.

dustygravel said...

@drwatson: Henri Bergson wrote Laughter : an Essay on the Meaning of the Comic, cant recomed it never
read it - but its Bergson so there you go.

Deleuze talks a about music in a Thousand plateaus. Yes, A becoming music, In taking the quality of a child, a women, a horse, a bird, the musician changes into those things, without ever arriving at any of them. The women, the child, the horse, the bird are also changed, enter into a becoming.

Man, there's this really awesome part in phenomenology of perception where m.merleau-ponty talks about how when you close you're eyes while listening to music you become more aware of the way it changes your experience of the size and shape of a room. Maybe you've read it you're self?