Thursday, May 11, 2006

Benign Self-interest

Consider a situation in which you are being chased by murderers--bigots who passionately dislike something about you--the color of your skin, the look of your nose, the nature of your faith, or whatever. As they zero in on you, you throw some money around as you flee, and each of them gets down to the 'serious' business of individually collecting the notes. As you escape, you may be impressed by your own good luck that the thugs have such benign self-interest.

Does capitalism provide the scaffolding for incubating civic ('external') peace? In re-directing self-interest towards the accumulation of capitol, this anecdote illustrates how direct conflict between individuals is avoided. Coming across this prefatory passage in Albert Hirschman's, The Passions and the Interests, I was struck by the charisma of this idea, particularly its historic appeal to an English society emerging out of a "confessional diaspora" (so to speak). The collapse of religious loyalty bonds had necessitated the emergence of a civic religion. The new civic religion was driven by one fear--public disorder. This fear could be ameliorated through a self-interest that sought its 'advantage' through shared linkages of dependency, manifesting in commerce. Essentially, expressing self-interest through capital accumulation neutralizes the passions. Conflict becomes redirected outside of bodies and into the sphere of economic exchange.

But how valid is the fear of the 'passions?' To what extent, was and is the sublimation of the ego a necessary recourse for civil peace?

Examining approaches that aim to redirect the apparatus of capitalism to the local level, we have to ask, what does this do for the ego? How is the ego being re-conceived by these attempts at turning economy to its roots (i.e. management of a household).

This tension between thinking of economic development as basic needs versus its capacity to produce higher yields beyond the domain of local sustainability is not without implications for the subjective dimension. Higher yields become indicative of a system of 'public good' that ameliorates the anxieties and 'passions' provoked by contestations of basic needs. In this sense, the fostering of economies that go beyond local sustainability come equipped with a built in narrative for civil order. In a 'fallenness tone,' individuals are given their economic rights & often national rights at the expense of their passions.

However, to what degree is the association of civility and 'higher yields' constructed? Do 'un-natural' transactions* dissolve an egoism only to uphold a sublimated individualism (a disunious individualism)?

Moreover, do Marxist or solidarity economies offer an appealing brand of individualism that can uphold civil peace?

After awhile, does not all self-interest become benign?

The difficulty is to try and uphold culturally authenticated modes of economy, but to ask whether or not economy is possible at the local level without relapsing into civil disorder. Notions of solidarity economy depend on a moralistic denial of competitive self-interest. But the categorical imperative of solidarity--for eye to eye interaction--is not iself possible without abiding by principles, which threaten the liberty of self-interest. To localize economy is to appeal to localized forms of reciprocity (based on kindness) rather than nationalized dependencies (based on self-interest).

*Aristotle: Natural transactions were related to the satisfaction of needs and yielded wealth that was limited in quantity by the purpose it served. Un-natural transactions aimed at monetary gain and the wealth they yielded was potentially without limits. He explained the un-natural wealth had no limits because it became an end in itself rather than a means to another end.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

desire & the negative

Thereafter rose desire in the beginning, Desire the primal seed and germ of spirit. Sages who searched with their heart's thought discovered the existent's kinship in the non-existent.

the real isobel archer

Comme l'on serait savant si l'on connaissait bien seulement cinq a six livres...

The question of identification when reading has been unresolved in my mind for some time. I first really began to think about it three years ago after reading Nabokov's lecture on 'Good Readers and Good Writers.' Nabokov upholds that a reader's identification with a text is a grand injustice. It is an injustice against oneself (the reader), the author, and the art (the "world" prepared). He argues, we must "approach it [the text] as something brand new, having no obvious connection with worlds we already know."

Initially, I perceived Nabokov's comments as dripping with an elitist self(author)-importance(impotence). His request for 'kindness to authors' was another one of his devices that makes you suppliant to his gaze. As a reader, as a woman, it seems necessary to enter into an author's world with instincts of self-preservation. Particularly, with anything written after 1900, the vulgar (anti)horizon characterized by endless self-referentiality can be deeply disturbing. It wreaks of melancholia & muse phenomena, mirrors & glittery things.

Nabokov wants us naked--without identification, without sy(em)mpathy, ultimately, without the tricks of the ego that turns narrative into an opiate.

Ultimately, how much are we allowed to identify with someone.

At times, it is less about identification and more concerned with

But when such blind theatrics dissolve to warmth:
you reading the Greek way of life
by candlelight, and the rain
refreshed by our stillness.

Perhaps, it is best to direct our eyes upwards, as infants to a mobile, and enter the author's world as a resting place for a mind, which has no need for projection, identification.
what is the relationship between projection and identification (?)

II. primitive plucked to throne

These aches align narrative to flesh
telling requiring a pulse, authority a duration
under a moon dance, connecting dots of circumstance
recording its childhood to spur a design, a proof of love
otherwise, that altar barren with impotent worship
needed: the pain of becoming stark monument—
a stuffed species hiding a tale of the hunt
for if pure, like glossy eyes’ caress, or the absence in a museum display
then moments as daggers, fight for record
such anti-heroes, frightening the spectacle, that sacred now

Courage murdered by alien histories, we pause to weak reflection
bracing the illusory condition, forced to, by misguided semblances
they squint so her blurred female form may move miracles
better to suffer and confess the leanness of sin, the duties of post-enigma[ERD1] , she thinks
and content embarks
phantoms to labor
milking centaurs for provisions[ERD2] :
nutrients for seekers, myths in their spinning
from impulse the reign conforms
not to power, but its expectation,
makes a mockery of ruler and ruled
sores on the hips of atmosphere
but imagining the essential moment, cherub curls at attention[ERD3]
and sighs being the means of passage[ERD4]
which given endless vacancy,
causes targets to recede in and out of security[ERD5]
like mood awaiting a new goldfish
the purgatory of retrieval from a death not felt, but repeated
in a blink of inattention[ERD6]

That darker blush (anxiety) removes the wandering eye[ERD7] instantly, retaining the tortured will
blowing at a daffodil for fortune, but self-consciousness,
that lengthy umbilical cord
strangling an omen with ethics
devised in possessing pattern, that of parental kinesis
or a brute history, abstract vultures
and talons polishing crystal[ERD8] ; with a cripple by the ear—
summoned from a vagrant archive to stroke a modern beard

So from this here blurred perspective, memory,
like a conduct manual, otherwise dormant
a doormat for self axels, which later grow rusty or bored
nature’s utility altered with a smear
watercolor sense
predecessor and plucked meet in a vortex, ahistorical and sitting with crowns of glory,
ears buckling to a lethargic ornament.
& in daydream, trusting desires, meeting again, closer
free from the gravity of spectators[ERD9] ,
evading turf wars, those dramatic plots of identity[ERD10]
loosing all that conflict on an equation’s whiteboard[ERD11]
a radiant annihilation, duties without monument falling to wayside[ERD12]
a kaleidoscope unity emerges
until awake in conscious disunity, another fit
when alienation and suicide fondle each others lairs
indigenous pride hints at that trinity[ERD13] of motion: pistol, terror, elegy
stir in the mundane bathwater, saying nothing of that desperate end (absolute)
nor the right to womb, by now paint-peeled from metaphor
again that thought fleeting to joint management[ERD14] : object and beloved

So with a principle of irreducibility[ERD15] :
knowing is piracy, awareness hisses[ERD16] in the rustles of migratory desire
a mother tongue scribbles, recoiling at stages of life[ERD17]
burning the borderlands of spirit, lost context
to clouds, a veiled artifact embroidered in uncanny design
how vacant and strangely alive
is flesh subject[ERD18] to shifting heavens,
that falling formula halts[ERD19] :
(Without tribute to--its being in motion or the slope of its mood)[ERD20]
it just happens, as a desert language of water seeks--
alone, trembling, conviction indents to widows’ peaks,
thirsty for sequence, asking--beyond, the shared space heater
question: does memory create identity?
Subtext: which one?
Hypothetical: But if grazing similar grass—postures melting to pastures
But he has left the field, willed death, that fool
A divine right of kings in flames
So again, that thought to joint-ventures
Never learning to see how the phoenix does
Our heroine resurrects to confront
But given only a livelihood of reflection from a guest friend[ERD21]
Will she choose to testify? And force speech from the cracks of her diaspora
-That vulva without constant-[ERD22]
Choice is postpartum[ERD23] , reflex brings variables--
Those relative and noble cells taught to defend a lifetime

[ERD1]Becoming human rather than inhabiting fantasy…just as grey-eyed Athena must do to falsify herself.

[ERD2]Imagination = sustenance

[ERD3]Like in a portrait, moment captured with angel babies at attention.

[ERD4]The lightness of movement. But sighs are heavy too.

[ERD5]‘All Men are Mortal’/ immediacies change;

[ERD6]what if in that blink you forget yourself, like a blink dream…utterly transposed.

[ERD7]Is agency lost? That will-to-constructivism made damp by anxiety, and fear remains, just coping…

[ERD8]Crystal palace

[ERD9]Connoting the community-initiated awareness of flesh, as a mundane organizing principle.

[ERD10]Hegel, “other”s

[ERD11]The optimistic essentializing of lord and bondsman. There is no one meta-narrative for conflict, multiplicity of dependence…and dialogics (?)

[ERD12]Duties need a spark, but a unity of sparks? Without monument, the constellation of virtues becomes kaleidoscoped.

[ERD13](being ironic): about the causality/intervals of pride. What would relative pride look like? Relative pride = postmodern…various “confessional” communities internalized into the psyche for censorship.

[ERD14]The objective/subjective dualism…love corrupts the object, redefines autonomy

[ERD15]Without reducing nothing can be a priori. Everything suffers from Humean comparison. Desire/sentiment is distinction.

[ERD16]Awareness is somehow outside of thought. But intuited. Like, the thing-in-itself for Hegel which can only be conquered through idealism.

[ERD17]Experience corrupts self-determined will. This is Augustine-Rousseau movement. Archetype: Stirner

[ERD18]Subject= a. submissive b. the topic or axis (this formula = constancy or balance of ego)

[ERD19]The Fall/s do/es not destroy metaphor or intuiting…It is not totalizing. But is metaphysics, is punishment, is a degree. Nonetheless, very strongly orienting; but as discourse/allusion never inescapable.

[ERD20]Newton vs. Einstein

[ERD21]Anthropomorphized god/creator as ‘guest friend’—connoting reciprocity

[ERD22]Luce Irigaray: E=MC^2
vs. Placenta


I. encountering/ King Lear & Artemiza

Now from bird’s eye
Conflict provides the winged words of virtue:
That forlorn plot exiled
And growing without time chatter
Until the island acquires sails
The poison of the spotlight strikes our noble savage
With rumors of Aphrodite, frightening the very subject
Who merely conceives herself:
An apron woman intact with vegetable garden
And nature-made means
Feeling hostile to a gaze asks: ‘who is it that can tell me who I am?’
In like time or taste so returns that artistic patriarch willing his escape
Soiling the steadiness
But in complimenting our heroine’s simplicity
Actually, first storms the affinity, late arrives the elective signs to perch
Accurately now: drawn to a radiance while forgetting to blink
Her naked bathing equips him—
‘free from the gnawing cares of seeking and getting’
But in his pupil she spots her reflection
And crumbles with stolen spirit, suffering the death of his salvation
The chorus beseeches:
He is blind to the larger eyeless rage
While she tears at his white hairs
He calls her the wind, so proving the heavens just
But such an angled man, deformed in self-denial, we cannot trust
For without Necessity he lacks a guide
And plays with shapes: casting off Leviathan for alchemy
But such a move, alas, his power gives distrust
Thrust from her peace to stale air
She suffocates, at his whim, that arbitrary box
Her only friends, those dark shadows, Dionysian clocks
She makes them into daughters and begins her miserable reign
The phoenix again ascends to morning’s warning: the ego topples
But falling now in dream she hits the sea
Her island lost in proclivity
Fright murmurs: refuge in throne
Again, the throws of superflux are staged

Sunday, May 07, 2006


there are some sentiments one unconsciously waits to be articulated...

"love is the basis of magic" --Marsilio Ficino, Commentary on Plato's Symposium

* * *
I have promised an allegorical and, to that extent, a mystical exercise of the wits, in the name of Phoebus the oath-orderer, whose gifts these are. The Muses never argue with Apollo, they sing. And indeed even Mercury himself, the first artisan of argument, although he may discuss weighty matters with Saturn or Jupiter, yet with Apollo he plays, their jests not only fitting but divine. May our play also not be unfitting!

Antipodes as Toads…/Socratic Frog Prince

*Cornel West accuses Socrates of abandoning poetics.

Memories of the night past trickle through a Sunday. Large candied apple types--raw content caramelized with emotional feedback. The remembering is a process, unconscious, beginning to twirl faintly in this haze, to a music box tune (which avoids quaint through sips of café espresso). Ink blots form memory’s hand crank. It is the absence of configuration, which gently coaxes the mind to iconic trails.

The will postures its command. It wants the bottom-feeder reading—the ugly Socratic shovel that leaves two antipodes…The antipodes that a clerk files into personality. This file is then reproduced in telling, accessible by outsiders, conditioning expressivity (like a room décor or a subtle lighting configuration for the “deep ones”). “It is inescapable,” cries Virginia Wolf, “the vulgar reproduction of antipodes.”

File à Room à House à Nation à Empire. Where in this mimesis do we heed the I = eye? The I = Nation? Without the epithet of reason, the equations of spirit will fossilize. To accept reason’s member we risk forgetting, the ethereal dimension, zat uncontingent authenticity. But the alternative is grim. So we suspend double consciousness (as remembering) "until" a better opportunity commences.

I suggest, says the spirit, above the rustling of Will and haze, we make the antipodes hop. Instantaneously, the dissected antipodes are made into toads, driving the mind to new pre-human horizons. The category of self is pasteurized.