Miller on Philosophical Anthropology

Originally posted by 4inquiries at Miller on Philosophical Anthropology
From “Another Lacan”:

Miller explains the structure of the non-neutral subject, which I will try to read transcritically with the Kantian subject of reason. Miller uses Lacan’s graph of the subject to explicate non-neutrality, or the failure of our momentum to know things in themselves (e.g. the world, God) theoretically:

$ - a

On the top register (S1-S2) is Kant’s “homogenous” field of mathematical antinomies wherein there is a regress of phenomena (P1-P2). This regress accounts for the impossibility of theoretically determining an ‘all’ of phenomena (the world-totality). Thus Miller claims that the top register’s “metonymy [the regress of signification, S1-S2] accounts for the impossibility of all the truth being said.”

On the bottom register ($-a) is Kant’s “heterogeneous” field of dynamic antinomies wherein the homogeneous field is totalized (e.g. the world, $) and yet some dynamic element of the field is excepted as a remainder (e.g. extramundane God, a). This doesn’t account for the impossibility of having absolute theoretical knowledge (e.g. of God) - it accounts for the impermissibility (or ‘subjective’ impossibility) of seeking absolute theoretical knowledge, for subjects of faith; subjects of faith find it shameful to try to theoretically know matters of faith alone because such is impossible according to their faith or subjective fantasy. Thus the bottom register’s metaphor (the condensation of signification S1-S2 into $) and subsequent loss or remainder (a) account for the impermissibility of all the truth being said by the subject. [We write $ instead of S for the condensation of S1-S2 because $, as a crossed-out S, signifies the failure of this condensation and hence the remainder, a.]

In other words, the structure of language or the Ucs. (“the unconscious is structured like a language”) is an endless, homogeneous field of signifiers which accounts for the impossibility of reaching the absolute through the unconscious (as the early Freud thought he might). Under this model, fantasy’s metaphor accounts for the impermissibility (or subjective impossibility) of all the truth being said. That is to say, the structure of fantasy is a heterogenous field of phenomena (i.e. illusion and reality) which accounts for the subjective impossibility of reaching the absolute through fantasy - even ‘total fantasy,’ or psychosis, is ultimately tethered to the ('unendurable') real world.</td>

If mathematical and dynamic antinomies are not the same, but are two halves of the reason drive, then the subject of the unconscious is only one half of subjectivity, the other half of which is the subject of fantasy. Either way one attempts to attain absolute satisfaction/knowledge fails, and the structure of the non-neutral subject is split between language (S1-S2, math homogeneity) and jouissance ($-a, dynamic heterogeneity). This is the philosophical anthropology that stands as the continuity between transcendental idealism and psychoanalysis.

Fassbinder on the Uncanny

Originally posted by 4inquiries at Fassbinder on the Uncanny
From Burns’ “Fassbinder’s Angst essen Seele auf - a melo Brechtian drama”:

Brecht intended to remove emotional investments (qua familiarity) from theatrical performances because he wanted to keep the audience in a critical state of mind about the things they are watching. The filmmaker Fassbinder, on the other hand, introduced emotions precisely as the object of critique, for he aimed to “give the spectator the emotions along with the possibility of reflecting on and analysing what he is feeling” (65). In order to make the audience reflect on a wide variety of feelings, Fassbinder drew from Hollywood melodramas while retaining a Brechtian element of alienation in the service of critique, “representing a politicization of Hollywood material” (58). Thus I argue that while Brecht gives us uncanny objects (the alienation of familiar objects) Fassbinder gives us uncanny subjects (the alienation of familiar feelings), which amounts to an alienation of representation itself.

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Fassbinder’s Die Ehe der Maria Braun

American Gothic, 19th Century Style

My love of British Lit has left me devoid of knowledge of American artistic / cultural movements.  Thus, I found the parallelism between George Washington and Queen Victoria interesting.

It might be said that death, art, and fashion went hand in hand in America in the nineteenth century. The death of George Washington in 1799 spurred an outpouring of public mourning that found expression in a new genre of art that encompassed memorial paintings, prints, public monuments, mourning kerchiefs, ceramics, and, not least, needlework. Mourning art was considered a beautiful and appropriate—even sophisticated and fashionable—art form rather than a frivolous or morbid fascination with death. It encouraged an interweaving of religious, social, and aesthetic ideas drawn from the neoclassical ideal of the “heroic death,” as well as the burgeoning Romantic Movement. As literature with macabre gothic overtones gained popularity, emotional expressions of sentimentality, melancholy, and even horror and terror became commonplace.

The presentation of grief and sorrow became an art in itself in the Victorian era (1837 – 1901) as England’s Queen Victoria brought the expression of mourning to its zenith following the death of her husband, Prince Albert in 1861. On both sides of the Atlantic, elaborate mourning outfits became de rigeur, along with codified rituals for their wearing. As the American public rapidly assimilated both the social mores and fashionable tastes of mourning, the late nineteenth century became widely known for its prominence of elaborate and ostentatious mourning fashion. Almost a hundred years later, the silhouettes and styles of Victorian mourning wear made a vigorous reappearance with the emergence of the Goth subculture in the late 1970s, although now with a vocabulary of nonconformity and self-expression rather than the moral obligations of earlier years.

Gothic to Goth offers an overview of the nineteenth-century cult of mourning in American art and fashion and indicates how that trend translated into contemporary Goth fashion, a genre now embraced by mainstream couture as well as by the rock subculture of the twentieth century. Included in the exhibition are representative examples of mourning art such as needle pictures, paintings, and post-mortem daguerreotype portraits; mourning jewelry and other accessories; two late Victorian mourning outfits; and examples of contemporary Goth fashion inspired by the mourning excesses of the earlier century. Objects from the museum’s own collections are supplemented by loans from the Everhart Museum, Burns Archive, Lackawanna Historical Society, Sigal Museum, Drexel Historic Costume Collection, the designer Kambriel, Heavy Red Couture Noir and custom jewelry designer and manufacturer Atelier Gothique

Schopenhauer on Love

Originally posted by 4inquiries at Schopenhauer on Love
From "Metaphysics of Love":

Schopenhauer argues that love is (really) the individual human experience of a universal human impulse to procreate, and further that procreation should be (ideally) between a man and woman who are compliments of one another, in order to form a neutral product. The first function of love thus serves a philosophical or teleological anthropology, while the second function of love concerns a heteronormative ethics of procreation.

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Nietzsche on Unity

Originally posted by 4inquiriesat Nietzsche on Unity
From “On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense”:

“This peace treaty [the social contract quelling the war of all against all] brings in its wake something which appears to be the first step toward acquiring that puzzling truth drive: to wit, that which shall count as ‘truth’ from now on is established. That is to say, a uniformly valid and binding designation is invented for things” (2).

What is the status of unity, here? On one hand unity seems to be something that people invent as a convention by which they do politics and overcome antagonism, but on the other hand the imposing of unity on people seems to produce a new antagonism between those that are united (citizens) and those who don’t fit in the unity (criminals/discontents). So on one hand the idea of unity seems like a communist idea, radically inclusive and caring for everyone according to their needs, but on the other hand the idea of unity seems like an authoritarian idea, radically totalizing and granting exception to the ruling class. [For more, see Laclau’s On Populist Reason or Zizek’s contribution the Utopia issue of Umbr(a).]

Nietzsche’s references to the philosophy of science tell us that he isn’t just talking about social unity, but the unity of experience. On one hand unity seems to be something that the understanding invents as a convention by which it experiences and overcomes the incoherence of sensation, but on the other hand the imposing of unity on sensation seems to produce a new antagonism between the senses that fit the unity (objects of science) and those that don’t fit in the unity (illusions). [For more, we could return to Kant’s first Critique.]

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economics and philosophy

Originally posted by anosognosiaat economics and philosophy
It's interesting watching the varied reactions to the surprising success of Ron Paul's campaign in the Republican party.

I've always believed that a knowledge of liberal economics is an important asset for progressives, and that certain traditions in liberal economics sincerely pursue and have something to contribute to the criticism of inegalitarian consolidations of power in our social structures. However, it strikes me that the ultimate failing point of liberal economics is in its orientation to individualism. Liberal economic criticism, where it can succeed in breaking up consolidations of power, has, by virtue of this individualism, a tendency to reduce to a state of competition between labourers or purchasers which undermines the actual results of such a criticism. For example, if some of the initiatives Paul favors met with the sort of success he pursues, such that a greater proportion of nominal capital is returned to the individuals of the middle and lower classes, we might suppose in line with his goal that this would be real capital as represented in greater purchasing power. However, competition among purchasers in the conditions of a liberal market has the result of raising the price of goods, such that prices approach a value set by what the purchaser can pay. In such a situation, the increase of funds made available to the individual by the success of liberal economic criticism would, ironically, not entail any increase in real capital, as in increased purchasing power. We see this dynamic for example in the price of housing.

It seems from this that progressive goals can only be met through the organization and cooperation of the labourer or purchaser, as a remedy against the competition within these groups which drives down wages, drives up prices, and prevents these groups, via the correction of the market, from accruing any real capital. The counter-objection from the liberal tradition is that any such shift in social-economic activity from the individual to the organization is an alienation of the individual's interests and the oppression of the individual to an agency distant from his or her concerns. To the extent that both sides of this issue raise legitimate concerns, the dialectic of social-economic development is manifested in this tension between the individual, whose logic represents a criticism of the alienating logic of the collective, yet whose dominance ironically results in a war of all against all which is self-undermining; and the collective, whose logic represents a criticism of the self-undermining conflict among individuals, yet whose dominance ironically alienates social-economic activity from the aims of the populace of actual persons.

Philosophers ought to recognize this dialectic as another instance of the problem of the one and the many. Probably what socialists found so interesting in Hegel was his careful diagnosis of this dialectic, and his attempt to synthesize the antithesis of the one/individual and many/collective. It seems that this is still the problem we face today, in our own political situation.

Reality or Fantasy?

I have been reduced to encounters with a second party through the medium of a third party - you know, one of those situations where you post your own thoughts on a third party board and you know the second party is reading them because he uses your words, expands his likes to encorporate yours and begins to sound like the perfect mate for you (before he was just a beautifully alabastered, Greek statue tucked neatly into the corner of your heart room - aesthetic decoration).
Now the statue has come to life.  This complicates matters.
A living statue is no longer an object, and a muse-in-the-flesh is always daunting and perpetually intimidating.  What to do with something that moves and breathes and has life?  Ah, that's the question.
Of course, I can romance a man as well as any Renaissance knight - scribe poems and pronounce my affection until he's giddy with delight like some ivory-towered princess.   But when he proclaims (from some far removed place) "ask me out, ask *this* and I'm done," I cease my efforts altogether.
What is the worst that could happen?  I could be ignored or he could say "no".  Would that wreck my life? No.
It would, however, wreck my work.
I could no longer sing his praises through rejection.  He would no longer inspire me - he would not be my "source" of divine madness.  In short, I'd have to find another muse, and they are so damn difficult to find in today's world, at least for me.  A beautiful man either lends himself in that capacity or he does not.  Most don't.
A chance at something *real*, or the perpetuation of inspiration?  An impossible choice.

Sex and Chess

Many people associate sex with death, but very rare is the individual who associates sex and chess.

This is the result of mating a scientist with an "artist".

Chess becomes a metaphor for sexual power struggle as a sort of foreplay.  Psychology is right when it asserts the dominant one in the relationship inevitably prefers the inferior position, and the inferior the dominant.

In short: I like a man who can intellectually beat me; it turns me on.

He, however, uses that to his advantage, to distract me from the actual game ( a strategic ploy in true warfare), but I am certainly not above hitting below the belt, and will return tit for tat, which - though he challenged my assertion that by such distractions he would not be able to think straight either.

I proclaimed victory when he admitted he was wrong.

So, though I lost the game of chess, I won the game of sex.

Apollonian Delight

The transition between part I and II is stark but I'm not bothering with it - I'm lazy.

 Written while staring at the beauty that is Chace Crawford's face.

You are
An Apollonian delight to the eye,
A divine revelation to man,

Your hair
A million honeyed velvet strands
Foretelling days of Spring

Your eyes
Two bluebirds on high
Twittering black haloed mysteries -

The love for Hyacinth
And Troilus,
The beauty of Narcissus
And Venus’ dead Adonis.


Our universe now stands
As testimony to the impermanence of man;
Blue shores dyed red
In the fading light of Aldebaran,
The sun’s bright future
Drawn in Armageddon sand.

But for all of this
He blesses us
With the grandeur of nature,
The rain-drop glistening upon the delicate oak leaf,
The dappled heavens draping Autumn twilight
The crystal moon’s lulling blue rays

And your face - AH!
The crowning king of current creation
The song of the siren’s call
That lures me with glance or gaze
To shipwreck my soul
In beauty’s solemn thrall.

So let your lips blossom
Forever, like honeysuckle in September,
And transform these honeyed strands to gold
And blue eyes to platinum silver.