Saturday, April 3, 2010

Conceptual Stand-Up

The function of tale is as vehicle for the CATTt inventories.  Users encounter the emergent poetics of the invention through some form that partly demonstrates and partly explains the new method (or concept).  Plato introduced his new concept of "method" in the form of "dialogue."  Commentators remind us that Plato invented this form, but we recognize the heuretic practice in it:  the scene of Socrates conversing with interlocutors is an interface, embedding the encounter with dialectic in a familiar situation.  Dialectic (method) is a core practice of literacy, unfamiliar in the oral culture of Athens, transitioning from orality to literacy.  In the terms of our Theory (D&G), "Socrates" is Plato's Conceptual Persona.  Part of the nature and purpose of "method" (the concept) is communicated by the aura associated with Socrates as an iconic type:  the gadfly.  The image of thought associated with this icon is complex, including the representation of Socrates as a sophist in Aristophanes's The Clouds.  D&G provide many examples of this holistic effect of the Conceptual Persona portraying the image of thought.
Kierkegaard's "knight of the faith," he who makes the leap, or Pascal's gambler, he who throws the dice, are men of a transcendence or a faith.  But they constantly recharge immanence: they are philosophers or, rather, intercessors, conceptual personae who stand in for these two philosophers and who are concerned no longer with the transcendent existence of God but only with the infinite immanent possibilities brought by the one who believes that God exists (WiP?, 74).
Here is the first dimension through which we understand Routine as our concept:  the image of thought evoked by the figure of a stand-up comic.  "Stand-up comic" is for us what "gambler" was for Pascal's thought:  a vehicle evoking the tenor that is Routine.  The image of thought shows the attitude that frames thinking through Routine.  "Attitude" concerns the state of mind within which the thought happens, concerning belief or desire (for example) directed towards our Target (the problem in the world, the disaster).  Taken as a whole, or as a position of enunciation within the culture, comedy implies a certain attitude towards reality, which is the answer Routine gives to a fundamental question of philosophy -- the transcendental question (where are we when we think?).  Alenka Zupancic offers an insightful description of the comedic stand, relevant to Routine.
There is something very real in comedy's supposedly unrealistic insistence on the indestructible, on something that persists, keeps reasserting itself and won't go away, like a tic that goes on even though its "owner" is already dead. In this respect, one could say that the flaws, extravagances, excesses, and so-called human weaknesses of comic characters are precisely what account for their not being "only human."  More precisely, they show us that what is "human" exists only in this kind of excess over itself" (Zupancic, The Odd One In, 49).

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