Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Theory 4 (Email 15)

Hi Jake

  Thanks for this inquiry, which is indeed relevant to our conversation.
Lacan is slippery as we know, so to some extent my account is heuretic and not scholarly, meaning that my reading is in the interests of grammatology and framed by apparatus theory.  In that context, by definition, the digital apparatus emerges from but is not confined to the accomplishments and limitations of the previous apparatus.   Electracy has its own limits but that is not our concern now.  A key to the "optimistic" attitude towards psychoanalysis as ontology for electracy is the provenance of gaze out of existential phenomenology, specifically Merleau-Ponty (and Sartre).  You and I talked a bit about "Flesh" and Lacan's references to M-P's Visible and Invisible, pubished posthumously just at the time of Seminar XI.  M-P argued explicitly that his account was ontological, replacing conceptual or literate "substance" with "element" in the classical sense of earth air fire water.  He overcame cartesian dualism with Flesh, to name the human as within the world in our materiality and sensorium:  we see from one position and are looked at from everywhere.  What attracted me most to M-P is the relevance of his ontology for electracy, in that he insisted that the metaphysics of Flesh exceed the reach of linguistics and language, of discourse (literate metaphysics), so he turned to painters, especially  Cezanne, and then Paul Klee, whose works "authored" so to speak versions  of Flesh as ontology.  As we discussed, Proust was his (and nearly everyone else's, include Deleuze later) prototype or touchstone, referring to his involuntary memory. But he noted that Proust in his novel is composing a hybrid philosophy, and not working directly with Flesh. 

The consistency of M-P's claim is measured relative to Heidegger, for example, who reminded us that Being appears in and is possible for thought only in writing (just as Lacan observed that the Unconscious appears only in Analytic therapy).  The related point from an earlier lecture is that the purpose of therapy is to bring the excluded Real into representation, in order to relieve the suffering you mentioned:  to transform suffering into symptom, as Freud said (into ordinary unhappiness).  We noted in our readings (and my lecture) that Lacan describes a register of drive now accessible that is beyond the pleasure principle.  There are two pleasures (as Barthes noted in Pleasure of the Text also:  pleasure  and bliss).  The apparatus argument is that the tracking of the two pleasures is a map of the discovery or emergence of electracy out of literacy.  The Symbolic (and Imaginary) orders are covered by  literacy, the operations of language and discourse, the defile of the signifier, alienation (in short). That is indeed the locus of the other provoking the emergence of the subject.  The desire of the other.
There is another order, the Real, excluded (until now) from discourse, from appearance, from consciousness, withdrawn completely.  Here is the workings of @ (objet petite a), partial objects, circulating around the void, the hole of lack, the Nothing, the gap between need and demand.  The interest of Seminar XI for us is the account of gaze as one of the partial objects, and how it may be brought into representation, at least as image, but in principle in any aesthetic procution.
What is confusing and important to clarify (to the extent possible) is that the @ proper is nothing in itself, but is only a relation for the libido, the lamella of erogenous zones:  the part objects are the objects cause of desire (as you know), and any particular item or "thing" that is desired, any "object" in the literate sense, is an ambassador for the object cause.  The drive and the @ are best considered together (in fact we are aware by  now of the interdependence of the 4 fundamental concepts in general and all the subfeatures articulated in the lectures to explain them).  The drive includes four operations (source, impetus, object, aim... something like that?).  These four correlate fairly well with Aristotle's four causes:  material, efficient, formal, final.  What interests Lacan early in the seminar is to explain the Unconscious as the "unrealized" dimension of Limbo between potential and actual:  what interrupts living?
So  in class on Wednesday we will discuss how or in what way the camera and the various practices of photography invented in the arts and popular culture support and enable an ontology of the Real in Lacan sense.  Your spotlight is an excellent test case, but to direct the poetics and its test in an experiment, we will want to correlate the CATTt inventories with some clarity.

Theory 4 (Email 14)

Hi Kendra

  "Fetish" is a good anchor for gathering the CATTt.  It is useful even at the basic level of heuretics proper, reminding us to pay attention to terminology.  Psychoanalysis, like any inventive methodology, dealt with the challenge of naming its new areas of inquiry by appropriating some existing vocabulary.  This vocabulary  is catachrestic, meaning that it is a figure for something that does not have a literal sense.  If we keep  in mind the original source of "fetish" we recognize that the term is eloquent, even if Freud used it pejoratively to some extent.  I discuss this in Internet Invention (Marx and Freud both using fetish negatively to name features of the industrial city, versus artists who somewhat later used it positively).  It concerns promoting some ordinary item of everyday life to a position of symbolic power. 

"Castration" is similarly evocative:  a source of much misunderstanding of course, but also eloquent in naming a condition of limit, disempowerment, control, threat--and reminds us of stakes in desidero.  The most relevant thing for us in the discussion is the description of operations and logics associated with fetish and castration.  You picked up on the practical value of Metz's conversation.  He is drawing upon Lacan of course, applying Lacan and psychoanalysis  in general to cinema.  He is using the theory to articulate the match between theory and practice that concerns us also:  that there are features of the camera and photography that correlate with the theoretical account of human primary process (the Unconscious). 

We need cameras to write with or through the Unconscious so to speak.  For  example, the logic of fetishism in the psychoanalytic context is that of denial, disavowal (defense)--the child's denial of sexual difference.  This scene must be generalized to the logic, which persists in adult experience, allowing a person to maintain two conflicting positions simultaneously:  "I know, but all the same" (or, the translation I prefer, "I know, but still...").  I know (= science); but still (= belief).  These two version of reality are on different planes.  We have to assume in the context of grammatology that there is a use value for this operation of primary process.  The "still" has choral functionality (it is conductive). 

Theory 4 (Email 13)

Hi Aaron

    A good way to situate your deferred participation in the email back-channel conversation about process.  One's first impression of a week's email could easily be that there is no pattern or tendency, in that each post picks up on a different piece of the elephant, so to speak, and then the response may or may not get around to reminding all that we are talking about a camel (?).  Your primer is a reminder of this gee and haw dimension of the exchange.  The first point always is just regarding heuretics, the logic of invention, and the CATTt , its chief heuristic.  We are indeed appropriating Lacan rather than attempting to be scholars of psychoanalysis (and certainly not wanting to be clinicians of neuroses).  Nor are we repurposing him entirely either, of course, since the proviso is that he is describing a Real for our metaphysics, whose ontology we intend to test and explore in our experiments. 

Next step then is to come to some agreement about what the theory has to offer, and it would be good to be more or less on the same page about this, the same screen, even though each experiment can and should be specific and partial (necessarily), and all the better for it, since an apparatus is not invented in a day by a solipsist.  We left off the week you missed (for a very good reason) with a clear (hopefully) statement of what we needed to get from Lacan:  an idea central to the theory about the nature and operation of the  Unconscious + an example or collection of examples helping locate how the Real of the theory is manifested in experience, such that  we might be able to work with it in our own projects (returning to the Wide Image). 

This past week the concluding lecture, following a productive and creative Band, clarified our purpose, as extracting or extrapolating a pedagogy for general electracy from the procedures of psychoanalytic training analysis, considered as a transitional practice moving from literacy to the new apparatus (from medicine, even from science, to something else, concerning how to enjoy.

Theory 4 (Email 12)

Hi Asmaa

   A wonderful post (worth waiting for!).  You have the feel for Lacanian style (and its Chinese cousin) in working through a theoretical issue by means of an art (or other materialized) example.  Potentiality is the central issue as we know, with the Unconscious located in an interval gap of Limbo between Potential and Actual (central and fundamental theme of metaphysics).  Relevant to the lessons of your case example is Lacan's description of the Unconscious as an alternating current, or as a fish net that opens and closes, a "trap" in this respect, whose rhythms one must learn to notice.  In his  famous talk given at the Johns Hopkins Symposium that kicked off poststructuralism in America, Lacan evoked the Unconscious as a figure, as Baltimore in the early morning, before sunrise, with the neon lights of the city blinking on and off.  I appropriated that image to develop a version of conduction that I characterized as reasoneon.  
We may recognize the Tai Chi symbol referencing the alternating rhythm of yin-yang, closed and broken lines stacking up into sets of 6, a hexagram as two trigrams, moments of time flowing constantly, frame grabs of process, positions as we know--of Shi.  It is the 0/1 F/T off/on switch constitutive of computing (the invention streams converging).  Leibniz who developed the binomial number system was shocked when he learned about the I Ching from a Jesuit friend returning from mission work in China.  He saw that the 64 hexagram configured the first 64 numbers in a binomial system.  Finally, Lacan made the connection with Electracy explicit when he explained this operation of the Unconscious with reference to electricity itself, and the physics of an electric light (having to do with the properties of current). 

But all of that , as in your case also, is to understand this Real, known as the Unconscious, in order to be able to live with it and thrive in that rhythm.

Theory 4 (Email 11)

Hi Jake
    This post, too, remains connected with the spirit as well as the letter (!) of the seminar.  To the extent that familiarity with  context promotes understanding, it is useful to orient the path Lacan has charted for himself by noting its emergence out of existential phenomenology -- not only Heidegger, but also Merleau-Ponty and Sartre (as we discussed).  As you know from Avatar Emergency, early Sartre -- Nausea and Being and Nothingness-- is important for my approach to French theory.  Sartre learns (ruefully)  that being and meaning (as Lacan termed it) are irreducibly split and may not be synthesized syncretized or any other version of completeness.  The absolute is impossible, or, it is the  Real.  Sartre declares, after numerous  failed attempts, that  one must either live, or tell, they  don't happen together.  One has the cake, or eats it, perhaps.  Benjamin's terms were Erlebnis (living) and Erfahrung (telling).  Now as I said it seems that Lacan agrees and shows why it is so, and his situating of what resists the absolute as the male/female division makes his case all the more convincing.  Nonetheless, he also indicates that a characteristic of the human is striving for completion.  Advertisers have mastered the showing of  completion that provokes the  evil  eye and whose nature was recognized in Christianity  as Mary with Baby Jesus (except she should be nursing for it to be precise). 

This striving is life (being), Aristotle's Entelechy, Leibniz's Monad, Spinoza's Conatus, Heidegger's Dasein.  What prevents well-being (is it a fatal resistance?) is that this striving is captured, trapped in the gaze. This aphanisis, this coming and going, place and temporality of the Unconscious, of the  Subject in its split, its dimensions of meaning or being, that is the issue. The "or" is the  vel (Latin or), in Lacan's updating of Tuché, the choice of decision.  So it is evident that numerous motifs are wrapped up in the topic you  pose.  What we need to sort out, perhaps in the band, is that there are two pleasures, two vectors or dynamics, in the circulation of drive.  Everything is interrelated in Lacan's model (the Borromean knot, the R S I rings), but perhaps we may risk a simplification justified in our context, by saying that literacy ontologized meaning in the register of the Symbolic via the (semiotic) signifier. That is the way of alienation.  The other way is opened through  the other beginning, passage through the Real, littered with part objects (letters), whose writing becomes possible in the digital apparatus, by means of a camera. This way becomes Sinthome (in late Lacan), when Lacan apprenticed himself to the littoral litter of Finnegans Wake (Joy/ce).

Theory 4 (Email 10)

Hi Adam

  Here is the Adam-theorist as ordered by master ulmer!  There was nothing "wrong" in itself with the  jazz reference last week, except  that  it was an interpretation treating Lacan as object of study when heuretics (game that it is) requires us to treat him as method of study.  He tells us what to do, not vice versa (although like  the good courtier or the Chinese sage we also manipulate our resources to suit our invention).  You get a lot of value  out of this example, nicely and explicitly supporting an important aspect of the theory.  We know from the Lacan's (local) Contrast that Freud is the anti-Descartes.  The interesting point for the new dimension of electracy (supplementing the introspective consciousness of literacy) is to describe what  happens beyond the cogito (I think, therefore, I am), that is, when you include the body (which Descartes abjected as mere meat, with dire consequences, according to many).  The Unconscious (as Jacob observed) turns out not to be "ours," or in us -- or rather, the map of our  positioning relative to the unconscious is a moebius strip, a topological figure showing us that the Unconscious functions as an "edge."  It is the edge of inside/outside, with effects Lacan characterized as "extimacy."

Your poem gives a more elegant variation on Freud's alternative cogito (the desidero), "I think where I  am not, and am not where I think."  This aniti-cogito takes into account the split Subject.  That the subject is split within (the split is not subject-object, or me in here vs the world out there, but I/me/other).  The gaze is a field theory of Subject (bringing psychology into line with the other sciences shifting from reference to field relationality of system networks).  The point is central to electracy regarding added value for Google Glass:  we need not only GPS, but EPS -- existential positioning system.  The split between meaning and being is involved, and what we want to learn from Lacan is how to gather all our informing parts (this gathering we have rightly identified  as montage of a surrealist collage sort for example).  Lacan works hard to help us, suggesting one way to characterize our experiment, as learning how to locate and triangulate to take into account the position from which we are regarded, as well as and along with the position from which we look. Note the "French" term:  regard.

Theory 4 (Email 9)

Hi Kendra

     The continuity of your inquiry, taking up from your  previous  post and my response, is how this email is supposed to work ideally, and in this case, practically.  It sounds like you got some good relays  from the group regarding my attempt to clarify the  heuretics of theory in preparation for the  band review of possible instructions.  Lacan made interesting use of diagrams throughout his career, and especially in the  second half of his seminars, beginning more or less with XI and continuing to  the end. One of the major shifts of emphasis was away from structuralist tropology (although that work remains important given the tropological nature  of dream work), to topology (so I guess he dropped the "r"?).  That is another  matter, as you noted, but with your ability  with  science perhaps worth pursuing at some point.  There are several books on Lacan and geometry.
    Our context in apparatus theory  and grammatology foregrounds the Analytic clinical sessions as a kind of pedagogy, whose rhetoric or poetics we want to identify and extract, to  extrapolate from therapy  to a general education skill crucial to the project of well-being at the core of electracy as metaphysics (well-being is to electracy what science is to literacy or salvation to orality).  In the Analytic session, by means of transference induced through the methods  of the talking cure, the Unconscious appears.  We need to attend closely to Lacan's descriptions of how it appears--oscillation, pulsation, its rhythm and timing, its temporality, since time space cause are matters of metaphysics.  That is what our poetics addresses. We know that there is a dimension of "real" that in principle electracy makes accessible, part of which  depends on the practice we are devising.  We know from Lacan that this "real" (Real), which is not the same as reality, is sexual and is  foreclosed or at least expulsed or abjected outside of speech and even language, but that it nonetheless is a force determining what  happens or not.  
The function of Analytic therapy is to instruct individuals is the means for encountering this Real, to bring it into discourse or representation-- and for our extrapolation obviously this "discursive" practice is not only linguistic, certainly not only narrative.  In fact, part of grammatology is the argument that new media capabilities are what make possible bringing this  Real to metaphysics. For now, as you have done, we learn from the Jullien/Lacan match, declaring and demonstrating that art (both broadly and narrowly defined) is the primary device for actualizing a set up (the subject is a set up, an apparatus).  Any and all the examples mounted in the  seminar can help  us understand how the Real has a phenomenal or perceptual/intelligible aspect, although (like chora) it is not itself perceptual nor conceptual.

 We also  know that we are headed (necessarily  and inevitably)  to cinematics.  And Lacan is helpful here  as well, with  his various  camera reference, as you note.

Theory 4 (Email 8)

Hi Samantha

   I anticipate your presentation with high expectations!  A terrific move and illustrates a feature of our craft as HEUretics.  Lacan is excessively allusive in his remarks.  The Seminar proper is highly organized, as by now your notes probably have shown you:  it builds systematically, and every move is calculated in the manner of an HBO dramatic series, drawing out the exposition to sustain the  required number of installments.  At the same time, you also may have been frustrated a few times by the disparity in context provided:  Lacan devotes more attention to some examples than to others.  His lecture style is famous as a deliberate attempt to reproduce at least a simulacrum of chimney sweeping for his university audience, to force them to some extent to bring to bear the auditory  skill of listening with  "the third ear" (and this effect no doubt is what Adam responded to with the jazz gambit). 
  It often (if not always) is beneficial to pursue Lacan's allusions beyond what he provides himself, especially if the example is associated with explanation of an aspect of the overall theory that  especially interests you, perhaps to isolate in one of your inventory posts.  For example, in discussing linear perspective, and the grid artists used to achieve the effect (mimesis) -- a Cartesian grid, of course, and the classic 9 square layout is available as an overlay in your iPhone today (to help get the "best" composition).  As linear perspective evolved into the baroque, leading to anamorphic and other "distorting" effects, Albrecht Dürer made an engraving, quite famous, showing the artist looking through the screen "trellis" grid at the model.  The model is a woman stretched out on the table, viewed from an "up-skirt" angle -- concerned with effects of foreshortening no doubt.  But Lacan in his mischievous way no doubt intended us to notice this pruient aspect of the scene.  He does not explain, but drops the reference in for those "who  have ears" (as Jesus said regarding his parables). 

  Same with Viridiana.  Your detour into the details of this example are suggestive, provocative, useful. 

Theory 4 (Email 7)

Hi Jacob
     An insightful, useful discussion of one of the four concepts at issue in the seminar.  Part of the value of your remarks is to remind us that this distinction between the commonplace or preconception or layman's dictionary understanding (or pop culture) of a disciplinary term applies to any  and all of the active vocabulary in play.  Some of the added value is local due to our CATTt, in which for example "position" becomes freighted with significance, as a central term for Jullien.  Because Jullien does so much with "position," it produces connections with "position" in Lacan, which is equally major.  It doesn't take long to get a parallel (or reoccupation) between surveillance in imperial China and gaze in Western modernity.  A concern of behavior (Morality in our MMM metaphysics, action, act) is motivation, how and if acts hang fire, are put in abeyance, suspended ("souffrance"), on demand of something foreign in me:  A good variation on Superego would be "the Chinese Emperor in me." 
 So we have these popular ideas, and studies have shown that a more or less "vulgar Freudianism" is a default of modern common sense regarding human motives.  Then as you documented, it turns out that the disciplinary term is substantially different.  This happens in all fields (the notion of "force" in physics, for example). 

    Your inference about how to proceed is correct.  What I like about heuretics in general, and theory in particular, is that you can't wing it and expect to accomplish anything, or, winging it produces embarrassment eventually, usually sooner rather  than later.  Rather, you  have to suspend common sense, and follow the instructions of the theory (however wacky or counter-intuitive).  You start in the right direction, noting that while the Unconscious may be structured "like"  a language, it does not include many of the features of formal grammar that literacy developed into the rules of logic, not to mention the practices of inference (abduction, deduction, induction).  Rather, as we know from Part One, the Unconscious thinks via conduction (as I put it), or by dream work.  Everything Lacan says about "primary  process" is this alternative inference system.  The instruction is:  use primary  process operations in your experiment.

Theory 4 (Email 6)

Hi Juan

     Really productive post! An exemplary aspect of this post is the interplay  among theory (libido), Lacan example (lamella), and mystory:  asking and locating "what  is this for me, in my own case?"  A point of sublimation, of course, is  that mounting exhibitions, producing a painting, or any activity of civilization, is itself a source of jouissance.  R. Crumb said he started drawing to meet girls.  It worked of course, but the career that followed left the copulation way behind.  And Lacan also asks of the women:  why does this work? In any case, for our purposes, looking for instructions, the principle is (as you dramatize), to identify a theory of how the world works (how reality  is constituted, what forces construct the possibilities of being and meaning); then be sure by means of examples you have an understanding of how these forces are manifested in actuality, in individual experience of the  lifeworld; then formulate a poetics, a recipe, that may be tested with your  own wide image project.

 In this regard, we are not limited to what is already in the wide image, but may  revisit the whole situation charted by part one, to  pick up aspects also available in the field but not necessarily relevant to the first pattern, but now salient because of the Lacan.  Also, this gap is precisely the dimension of the Unconscious, the Unrealized between potential and actual.  That is the place of our metaphysics.  Be sure also to attend to temporality and cause.  These are the big three of metaphysics --  what  makes experience possible.

Theory 4 (Email 5)

Hi Dhanashree

these posts are circling (zooming in) on excellent material, prime for instructions.  We need to know from Theory some version of how reality, the world we experience and observe, what makes it work.  There is a practical dimension to our "pure research," as emblematized in the consultancy theme in Internet Invention (EmerAgency).  And the poetics and final experiment take up a key point of heuretics and mystory, that, as Lacan noted (citing Freud also), this dimension we are addressing (enunciation over/under statement, of desire enframing reflexive consciousness), may not be treated in effigy.  The metaphysics concerns us (it describes the world we are in today, and proposes a mode of action and attitude).  So these phenomena that we observe and the "things" and "persons" with which we interact, what moves them, motivates and causes what we undergo?  Drive.  Everything circulates around a lack/void, including in the empty uncanny place [chora] some materialization that ontologically is objet a (which I write @, for several reasons we should discuss). 

That is what the text says and we adopt as the correct account (provisionally).  We find its slot also in Jullien, where we learn that the Chinese observed something similar, a circulation of force organizing all experience, but they accounted for it with reference to the season cycles, yin-yang (the tai chi).  The Chinese, that is, like the West (Greeks) were attending to life as bios.  Lacan acknowledges the reality of that dimension (obviously), but adds another dimension that must be accounted for as well in metaphysics, libido (beyond need into demand, desire, jouissance).  Drive is the force of libido, and its paradoxical features include the fact that humans are able to gain some bit of satisfaction (of jouissance) without achieving the aim.  It has to do with the capacities of our sensory organs, their polyvalence, and with the integration of nature with culture, hence sublimation.  There are many ways to say being, Aristotle observed.  Lacan would add, there are many ways to enjoy.  No wonder I get a kick out of writing books!

Theory 4 (Email 4)

Hi Anastasia
     The question of adaptation of Lacan to electracy is central to our heuretic concerns.  I mentioned in introducing Lacan relative to the CATTt that psychoanalysis is one of several sites of apprenticeship, transitional forms, suggesting practices that may be appropriated and repurposed and moved into "general electracy" (part of an electrate education).  Our project frame in any case prompts us to ask about this adaptability, since we are doing grammatology.  "Tragedy" was a transitional institution for Classical Greece, partly religious ritual, partly modern theater.  A symptom of the new mode of identity experience and behavior emerging in literacy was manifested in theater in the figure  of Thespis, the first actor to perform as an individual fictional person (stepping out from the Chorus to speak as a person).  The grammatological analogy (using apparatus comparison/contrasts to find opportunities for invention) is that "subject" as theorized in psychoanalysis names and develops a new mode of identity specific to electracy.  The account of subject in Seminar XI (and throughout all the seminars) is not so much about the identity we have had all along, but of a sort that we may achieve within the capacities of the digital apparatus.  The experience of being referenced, of course, is not new (desire, for example), but the account of how it works, and the behaviors recommended for accomplishing well-being, are a new possibility for how to address the irreducible human condition (mortaltiy, finitude associated with the fact that sexuality or sexual reproduction for survival of the species and the lure of pleasure that goes with it condemns individuals to death).  Apparatus always includes identity formation and institutional practices along with technology in the analysis and invention of culture.
 The related point of adaptation is to assume -- just as you noted -- that Analysis as clinical therapy, in its treatment of patients (Analysands) suffering with various degrees of disabling neurosis, perversion, or even psychosis, models styles of self-knowledge that may be generalized to everyday thriving. The historical analogy -- one that  Lacan himself used frequently-- is with Socrates, who practiced dialectics without writing.  Freud managed the Unconscious without a therapist (although his correspondence with his friend and colleague, Fliess, is considered to be a kind of proto-analysis, and these letters are the scene of the invention of psychoanalysis).  The four fundamental concepts name the elements of one experience that Analysts-in-training must undergo (an encounter with the Unconscious). Our poetics proposes to extract from the training features of a practice that  may be generalized for electrate being, relative to the metaphysics of pleasure-pain (jouissance), productive of well-being.

As you said, our question then is:  what are the details?  what is the nature  of this reality now supposedly accessible to ontology, such that we may access and manage it?

Theory 4 (Email 3)

Hi Jacob
     A nice transition from my response to Juan, to your post referencing structuralism...
  As noted, we are looking to Lacan for help in defining the account of reality opened up to metaphysics in electracy.  We can approach this account initially just by means of our common sense or popular understanding of psychoanalysis, which, according to some, is now (in its popular or vulgar version) the default explanation of human behavior (psychosis, neurosis and the like).  A quick statement of the reality to be ontologized is the Unconscious.  A virtue of Seminar XI is that (for reasons already discussed) Lacan took a break from pushing forward his more experimental speculations in order to regroup, to review the fundamentals of his project (the four Freudian concepts).  Part of the fun and challenge of heuretics has to do with our appropriation of a theory for purposes of invention, rather than as scholars let alone as experts or masters. 

As with any specialized knowledge, with psychoanalysis there is a vocabulary, touchstone examples and cases, methods.  We orient ourselves by coordinating our  own understanding relative to the unfamiliarity of the theory.  A good point of departure is to track vocabulary, technical terms, not just the four concepts, but the terms used to describe and explore them.  We may correlate and test Lacan's usage relative to Jullien's vocabulary, the terms used in the Cinematics overview (forthcoming), Internet Invention, and of course our own background as students and in popular culture.  Some terms will be foregrounded in this way: for example "position."  We know that a central debate in China (and between East and West) is the role of position in a set up, whether it is entirely deterministic, or the extent to which an agent may manipulate events by means of position. 

 The formula you discussed is a central point of reference, as you noted, scene of many book chapters and mis/understandings.  In heuretics we are responsible not for correctness but for invention.  We need to understand the functionings and manifestations of the unconscious, so we should be able to do something with the analogy (it is like a language).  Part of an instruction would be to note that our interest in electracy is not to return to the function of language in literacy, in alphabetic writing, so there  must be more to language, or language extends beyond what could be managed within the previous apparati, and this more is to be brought into general practice by means of experiments such as ours.

Theory 4 (Email 2)

Hi Samantha
      Lacan is an interesting case among the primary French theorists of post/structuralism in that most of his work is in the form of lectures.  His collection of papers, Ecrits, includes pieces reworked into essays  from lectures.  There are some 26 or so lectures (as far as I know), now mostly available in some published form or other (albeit still unofficial versions in some cases).  I tried to avoid reading them all, but by now have read more than half.  They really are engaging, and reward attention, more than reading works actually composed as books in some cases (Zizek, to name one egregious case, has published more than 60 books).  That Proustian syntax to which Anastasia alluded is apparently the way Lacan spoke, his natural style -- multiple subordinate clauses putting off the direct object.  His speaking style confirmed or demonstrated his point about the role of the quilting point (point de capiton) not just in syntax but at every level of discourse and action:  that we cannot be sure what the meaning of a statement is until the period is closed, and that signification thus is retroactive.  At the same time, the quilting point is at work  all along and a purpose of style is to play with the expectations of interlocutors, to  manipulate hopes and fears (as in narrative and drama). 

  Your comments motivated my opening, to get around to say that the beginning of Seminar XI is not planned in the way a book introduction would be, but is circumstantial, or historical, at least in part, addressing the fact that he had just been excommunicated and hence could not hold the lecture he planned, and had to find a new site -- place and institution -- in which to work (recalling Adam's post also).  The opening is relevant, certainly, as we learn over the course of the year, since Lacan has in mind the comparative history of the two apparati that are our precedents:  religion and science -- wondering where psychoanalysis falls, and what may be learned from his experience of innovations undertaken in the name of a return to the founder of the new practice, Freud himself. 

    Looking back could connect with the adage, reculer pour mieux sauter, crouching in order to leap more forcefully.  His audience is no longer primarily professional or vocational, so he shifts discourse positions, from master to university  (as he  later articulated the available positions:  master, university, hysteric, analyst).  He returns to the four fundamental concepts, inventions of Freud, in order to take them up and develop them further, in order to advance the "Freudian Field."  As our theorist, we consider him to be performing "first philosophy" (metaphysics), opening a new dimension for ontology, just as the Classical Greeks did when  they invented Philosophy and the new institution of the Academy. 

  As for narcissism, we understand by this term in psychoanalysis an orientation necessary for everyday functioning.  Kendra noted a keyword for this new ontology -- desire.  A reduced version of the shift from literacy to electracy would be to say that literacy took care of an ontology of knowledge:  the love of wisdom (sophia, knowledge) at the beginning.  They assumed that this "love" or desire for knowledge was in the  nature of the human (even its defining characteristic).  Psychoanalysis, functioning as electrate metaphysics, takes up the other side of the project:  the love, the desire that motivates and frames knowledge.  This love yields at least a few secrets under scrutiny, and much of the seminar is devoted to understanding the primary role that desire plays in transference, which is the medium that must be made to emerge within the analytic treatment if there is to be healing.  "Transference" is not exclusive to psychoanalysis, and has always  played some role in intersubjective institutions, such as education, religion, politics, but it is foregrounded in psychoanalysis. 
Your comments are valuable in noting Lacan's references to his own ontology, and in looking for instructions.  In the context of our project, the  poetics, we do not want to be psychoanalysts any more than we want to be Chinese.  Rather, the final poetics emerges from the intertext of the  CATTt resources.  For  the  moment we recognize "transference" as an experience for this new institution of the electrate era that may be generalized, with consequences and opportunities of practice for the general population of egents.

Theory4 (Email 1)

Hi  Anastasia
    Thanks for getting us started on this conversation.  An ambitious post including the transition:  The points of reference you defined are good, useful for our purposes, in grounding sufficiently general operations.  We are defining "metaphysics" not in the specialized sense of the science of being qua being (as Aristotle had it), but taking being in its general sense as an attempt to state the truth about what life is, not just THAT nature is, but what it is, how it works, its axioms or principles (the arche). This life refers to us who are living, learning how to act in accord with reality and what is real, so as not to be mistaken, in error, and repeat the same stupidities, such that we may be happy and thrive (so to speak).  Aristotle treated all of that in several text, inventing several different fields of knowledge (not only metaphysics but also logic, ethics, and poetics). 
    I put it that way to pick up on your point about repetition, one of the 4 fundamental concepts of psychoanalysis.  Literacy committed to rationality, developing logic out of the affordances of written Greek, in order to get some control over error, the false, the stupid, the deceptive. Socrates as gadfly felt obligated to point out to his interlocutors that they didn't know what  they were doing or saying.  Was reason the answer?  Civilization made a great attempt in that direction, following up the first beginning as Heidegger put it.  And yet, today, we still do  not know what we are doing or saying.  Freud introduced a theoretical concept, the Unconscious, naming this condition.  Our  stupidity does not work the way  literacy thought, it seems.  Try  again, with the other beginning.  People who sought or who seek out psychoanalytic treatment suffer dissatisfaction to the point that they are no longer able to function.  They repeat the  same mistakes, find themselves in the same impasse repeatedly.  Why? what is the cause? What may be done about it?
    Lacan as Theory in the CATTt provides our anagogy:  we accept his account of the Real, reality (provisionally, always), to  explain how things work.  That is what we need from our Lacan instructions, so that our instructions tell us what reality we are looking for and testing in our experiment.  You are right to focus on the examples, just as we noted with  Jullien:  there is a general principle but the examples help orient us to its quality:  crossbow vs spear for example.  The game you rightly featured is famous in the literature, observed by Freud watching his grandson playing with a bobbin on a string.  He was playing "gone" Freud said, and Lacan sites this case.  The bobbin is a signifier, the game is the means by which the child deals with the absence of his mother.  The bobbin is about something else (this is always the case in art, dreams, language).  A relationship is set up, a semiotics, associating the two sounds the child made with two German word (Fort! = Gone; Da! = There); the words in turn associated with the position of the bobbin:  thrown away; retrieved.  In psychoanalysis, of course, games, dreams, jokes, stories, art, literature are not "just" analogies but the very material of the discipline. 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Shi (Instruction)

Michel Foucault's The Order of Things, a thorough account of categories or classification in the history of Western literacy (in other words, a grammatological approach to metaphysics), begins with this declaration:
This book first arose out of a passage in Borges, out of the laughter that shattered, as I read the passage, all the familiar landmarks of my thought - our thought, the thought that bears the stamp of our age and our geography - breaking up all the ordered surfaces and all the planes with which we are accustomed to tame the wild profusion of existing things, and continuing long afterwards to disturb and threaten with collapse our age-old distinction between the Same and the Other.

This passage quotes a `certain Chinese encyclopedia’ in which it is written that `animals are divided into:
(a) belonging to the Emperor,
(b) embalmed,
(c) tame,
(d) sucking pigs,
(e) sirens,
(f) fabulous,
(g) stray dogs,
(h) included in the present classification,
(i) frenzied,
(j) innumerable,
(k) drawn with a very fine camelhair brush,
(1) et cetera,
(m) having just broken the water pitcher,
(n) that from a long way off look like flies’.

In the wonderment of this taxonomy, the thing we apprehend in one great leap, the thing that, by means of the fable, is demonstrated as the exotic charm of another system of thought, is the limitation of our own, the stark impossibility of thinking that. (
Jullien's Propensity of Things removes the mystery of this effect when he explains that such collections are indeed an alternative system of knowledge, functioning not like Western abstract categories that unify by genus and species according to shared properties, but a series of positions (shi) for performing some skill, anything from playing the flute to the equivalent of the kama sutra.  Chinese knowledge does not work with concepts and definitions, but gathers into coherence by means of networks of affinities and contrasts, correlations.

The relay for a heuretics of electrate metaphysics is the refinement of the very notion of "apparatus" itself, the resonance between the "disposition" or configuration of a situation, producing a potentiality, with dispositif and the Wide Image matrix.   Works of art, especially landscape painting, are the prototype for actualizing and exploring a specific "set-up," and set-up as such.  The formal coherence of relationships within a set up, the design of tensions, the style (efficacy) of the design, create an effect of vitality.  This vitality or dynamism has metaphysical significance, emblematized in the dragon as the icon of a Chinese disposition.  The vitality or dynamism experienced in making and contemplating art directly concerns our inquiry into metaphysics, with ontology as the study precisely of being (life).  The feeling of vitality in art expresses the force of being.

A rule for heuretic instructions is to note in Jullien any points of analogy, as well as direct comparison/contrast between East and West.  The categorial theme concerns shi as the guiding notion for observing Chinese metaphysics (despite Jullien claiming that Chinese landscape painting evokes the invisible force governing reality without resorting to metaphysics).  The instruction is first to locate the relationship, and then to ask:  what is that for electracy (to be answered by means of the CATTt)? There are numerous useful analogies, but the one featured  here as instruction is the following (commenting on the list of shi or positions for learning a skill such as playing a musical instrument).
 These positions in movement (and of movement) defy thought cast in the mold of dichotomies.  For us too, the only way to describe them is through metaphor, by resorting to a cinematographic technique, for instance, and envisaging these series of shi as so many "freeze frames."  Alternatively, using the terms of graphic representation, one might liken them to "sections" made for a drawing of an object imagined as divided across planes; the series of shi could thus be thought of as so many different sections cut through a continuous movement. Each section reveals in itself a fixed plane, but one reads it as a "configuration" matching the dynamic force invested in it (114).
The choice of this particular analogy (shi as cinematographic freeze frame), is motivated by our CATTt Analogy-- a book on "Cinematics," treating artists's explorations of relations between photography and cinema.  The instruction is: Art forms capture and realize potential set-ups, even in an experimental way.  Specifically, be alert for a pattern (a configuration) emerging across the CATTt referencing freeze frame and related photographic and filmic devices.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Generating Instructions

Image of Wide Scope (personal metaphysics: Ulmer).

Heuretics requires several levels of process:  the first step is to take a set of notes on a resource, in order to generate the inventory of possibilities for the intertext poetics. The notes must be an accurate if reduced and condensed representation of the resource, useful in any project.  The instructions generated from the notes (second level) are relative to the specific experiment (in our case, an electrate metaphysics).  In the spirit of translating hermeneutics into heuretics, the analytical and interpretive arguments of the original are rewritten as rules for production.  The caveat is provided by the history of drama:  the prestige of Aristotle's original poetics, describing the features of an ideal tragedy (Oedipus Rex), became prescriptions for Neoclassical tragedy, having a constraining and ultimately negative effect.  Caveat duly noted, but still at this initial stage the procedure is to select key descriptions to revise into provisional prescriptions. 

The assignment describes the project and experiment, providing the goal the instructions address.  The experiment is to test the conductive image logic used in the Wide Image to perform and communicate the electrate poetics generated in Part Two.  The method is to use the assignment to help read the CATTt texts, beginning with Jullien.  In this context we recognize a certain homology between Jullien and the Wide Image.  The Wide Image was produced from a mystory by means of the Emblem--itself an unpacking of a basic image form: vehicle as material icon with properties and connotations; tenor as answers to three questions, concerning "metaphysics" (the nature of reality), "morality" (how one behaves), "mood" (feeling, attitude).  Jullien's Propensity of Things, not by chance, manifests a similar organization.  The book includes three parts, each with a conclusion: 1: A Logic of Manipulation.  This Part corresponds with Morality (how does one act). 2: The Dragon Motif. Part Two concerns aesthetics, art practices expressing attitude, mood of this world. 3: Conformism and Efficacy; Part Three makes explicit the understanding of reality.  These are an alternative three "Ms" of the H'MMM disciplines (counterpart to the STEM disciplines of literate science) -- a relationship that calls for a separate post.

The immediate point is that in generating instructions for the poetics, one understands that a metaphysics is precisely that cultural environment that directs collectively, as a set-up for a civilization, comprehension of how reality is, how one must behave to thrive in that reality, and the attitude of feeling of this living.  The Wide Images designed in Part One are intuitive, folk metaphysics.  The experiment in Part Two is to correlate and augment the personal metaphysics with a potentially collective version.

The Propensity of Things

(Cover Art) Dragon in Clouds
Jullien's study functions as Contrast in the CATTt for an electrate metaphysics.  Given the rule of heuretics-- that the poetics must be confined to the assigned resources -- it is desirable to have generous resources.  The looseness of the heuristics can be frustrating.  The first thing to note is that we are not contrasting with Jullien himself, but with the literate metaphysics he describes.  Some confusion may arise to begin with since Jullien himself produces our contrast for us.  A stricter CATTt might have placed Aristotle's Metaphysics in Contrast, in which case an inversion of that inventory might have resembled an ersatz "China" (just as, in Heuretics, an inversion of Descartes's Discourse on Method resembled a certain "Deleuze").  Derrida recommended in Of Grammatology that a theory and history of writing must include all literacies, not just alphabetic writing but also Chinese, Mayan, Egyptian (et. al.). Electracy in other words learns from and also distinguishes itself from all existing writing.

Thus Jullien occupies Contrast in a complex manner.  His method is to explain Chinese metaphysics for Western readers by a systematic comparison and contrast between Classical Chinese culture and Western (especially Classical Greek) culture.  Our inventory extracts several levels of generative material from this arrangement: 1) Every major point of contrast may first be read as identifying a slot of any metaphysics.  Our understanding of "metaphysics" as such derives from Jullien's survey of these two civilizations:  we need to generate an entry for these slots by extracting from our Analogy and Theory our own version of what the contrast defines. 2) Chinese metaphysics may be construed as "opposite" to Alphabetic (Greek), and certainly it is "different" in principle, beginning with the difference between Chinese and Indo-European languages.  This difference accounts for why at times there are parallels rather than oppositions found in our inventories, so that Jullien produces some analogies as well as contrasts.  At the same time, the Chinese case is still a literacy, albeit calligraphic and ideogrammic.  While it is true that some major inventors of electracy, such as Sergei Eisenstein and Ezra Pound, used Asian writing and arts as relays for their exemplary innovations, nonetheless an electrate metaphysics will not be Chinese anymore than Greek.  Its exact relation to extant civilizations is not oppositional, however, but syncretic, operating as apparatus for a global civilization.

Designing a Metaphysics for Electracy

Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going? (Paul Gauguin, 1897).
Gauguin's masterpiece, whose title alludes to a catechism Gauguin learned during his school days, introduces our heuretics of metaphysics.  In the first part of the semester we used Internet Invention as guide for composing an Image of Wide Scope. In the second project the goal is to develop a theoretical framework situating the wide image in an electrate metaphysics.  In fact, the claim is that a wide image is a mystorical metaphysics.  The electrate metaphysics is generated using the CATTt heuristic:  Contrast = Jullien, Propensity of Things; Analogy = Cinematics; Theory = Lacan, Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis; Target = the Internet; tale = blog.  One purpose of the seminar is to gain some experience operating the CATTt, which was derived from a pattern emerging withing the genre of discourse on method (see Ulmer, Heuretics: The  Logic of Invention). A rule of thumb is: any hermeneutics may become heuretics: it happens through a certain style of reading:  description becomes guide to prescription -- look for instructions.

The CATTt slots function like a spread in Tarot reading (or in any template): the slot itself is active and inflects any resource it receives.  The syntax of CATTt begins with the articulation of a problem: Contrast repels; Target attracts.  Contrast: the extant metaphysics of literacy are fine as far as they go, but are relative to their apparatus. Target: The Internet requires a native metaphysics.  The C & T are kenotic, emptying out, opening a site for invention.  The procedure is to inventory the respective resources to understand the terms of the problem, both what is being rejected, that for which an alternative is sought, and the affordances of the new condition.  Solution is generated from an inventory of Analogy and Theory.  Analogy is an extant related practice suggesting possibilities of the new discourse; Theory identifies the principles structuring the invention as a whole (the What of the enterprise).  The heuretic produces four inventories, four lists, each list inflected by its slot.  A pattern of correspondences emerges in the intertext created by the juxtaposition of lists.  This pattern is configured into a poetics, a forumla or recipe of instructions for composing (in our case) an electrate metaphysics.  The blog medium supports and organizes this process of collection, inventory, and correlation.

In our project, this poetics is immediately tried, correlated with the first project, the Wide Image.