Redrawing the Partition Whereby Philosophical Discourse Leads to Particular Decisions of Route. 

It is interesting to me the various places and occasions that move us to consider things and their lighting.  Here is one of those occasions:

NPR: Gender and Willingness to Compete.

Of course, this is a general overview presented in its brevity for the purpose of the general education of the reasonably intelligent. But nevertheless, what strikes me is that here again is a questioning that appears out of seemingly nowhere, that confronts the perceived natural order of things. This time, the manner by which we figure to find the best candidate performer of any situation, as well as what the best group of candidates means, and the the very functioning of real mechanisms, is brought to issue. But that is not what is particularly significant to me. What appears significant is not that the system is faulty; rather, it is that the way by which the system has been questioned does not open a new vector for discussion. In fact, it does more than bring the situation in to question; it suggests that there is a substantial lack involved in the situation as it is. If we have been following my ideas through this blog: It actually indicates a particular substance, an actual situation of position that is not able to be considered by the present route of real meaning, even while this route poses its total inclusion.

Now, for those so keen, it is difficult to miss the past 50 years of social justice that can be wrapped up in this situation. The too often misappropriated seminal essay by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak’s  on political representational voice, “Can the Subaltern Speak” begins to stir in memory. But the issue I notice on this pass is not a silence that has been left out due to the functioning of a systematic ideology of oppression; i do not propose a recinciliation of parties. So much of philosophy and critical thinking is dead set upon social justice that almost every contemporary philosopher must enjoin her ideas with political meaning, while missing the ‘subject-effect’. We are indeed still confined by the post-colonial/post-modern appropriation of social justice. Spivak’s critique begins to evoke an end, but it is an end that finds its beginning once the political subaltern has been ‘fully colonized’, or perhaps more politically correct phrasing “free”. For, in that great post-modern era, there was still a sort of idealism that felt somehow the colonial motion could be ‘dissolved’; dissolved indeed it was, but into its enforcer that we call ‘Capitalism’. But make no mistake: We all have been colonized, and most thoroughly. (Zizek: The most difficult thing is to imagine outside of capitalism.) The dream of Spivak and her bud Derrida (and the like) was more than that upon the finding of the question that opened the door to ‘nothing’ thus revealed in the destruction of the soveriegn Western Subject that a multiplicity of agents lay hidden in oppression, but that the universe was indeed constituted by this multiplicity, that freedom was in this release; dread for us to find that this was just a deception that functioned for the West to make everyone Subjects. 

Nevertheless; the bodies should be counted and ordered, and everyone has to first speak for this to happen, and there indeed is a value, and a goodness, in bodily freedom, even as it might be theoerticaly bound, (note the first paragraph of pg 68 in Spivak, on desire) Yet those kind of ideal appropriations came about and took place (to take place) in a moment when there was still a kind of exoticism hanging around the West; orientalism still colored the world through the shadow of European colonialism. It was the last age of magical thinking that still could go on with a certain aire of plausibility. Now, though we are still working out the finer details of how the ideals of equality, freedom and human opportunity should be applied, and magically adjusting reality in the processes, even while we try to stamp out the ignorance of at least blatant (if not institutional) racism and bigotry, it is not difficult to see that the World is indeed, and has become, The World in a proper objective sense; as they say, globalism is more than some big idea, media and technology allow us to have good neighbors 3000 and more miles away. It is (now really) a small world after all.

So when we now look at Jean Francios Lyotard’s ‘The Differend’, we might be able to begin to see it in its proper light, apart from the direct appropriations of feminism and race relations; this is to say that while we indeed do involve others in an ethically considerate reflection, we should maybe start, maybe begin to be able, to understand that a reflection never gets further than the view that beholds it – or more precisely, if we have been keeping up, that there are two routes such that there is one type of reflection that does get further than its view.

Consider this latest post in Dark Ecologies about Slavoj Zizek:

REPOST: Stranger in our Midst

The point that is made by Zizek, explained along a particular path in the link, is that the stranger is not someone we do not know. It is not the situation at hand that a stranger is someone foreign to us. Rather, it is that the stranger is the situation that we know all too well. It is not that we don’t know, for his example of the migrants in Europe, these strangers that are coming into our land; on the contrary, we know exactly who and what they are, and it is this kind of knowing that allows the EU to maintain the conditions of its situation as such. We are concerned that these people coming into our country will cause all sorts of catastrophic problems that could lead to the disintegration of the EU (will Britain pull out now? Germany?): Because the integration that is the EU is situated in the terms that tell us exactly what these strangers are, it is the contradiction inherent of the stranger confronting our boarders that frieghtens us and causes all sorts of stir. For example, it is not that migrants are raping our women; everyone is raping everyone all the time no matter what label we put on a group to justify our statistics. We integrate difference into our union by allowing for the stranger to act in strange (or deviant) ways, to thus confirm our boundaries and what we know (qualified by that “we don’t know”) as true.

Yet the significance I see, that which I have been let unto, is that it is in this knowing the stranger that also allows us to perpetually put off and defer what is really strange, what we might say is alien, to merely a stranger who comes in and disrupts everything and does heinous acts. What is alien is that which defies our sense of truth such that it remains invisible to our view. Effective as it may be, we routinely usurp the power of what may be alien through what means truth by virtue of what we see or are able to view, through what means truth allows us to see.

Before we get to this point, though, and as we remain in the political realm of social justice, and derive discourse from the paradigm of a particular vector cycle of meaning (correlational), there is what I have called a partition that allows for the correlational cycle to appear solute, to appear as though it addresses everything that can possibly be. By this partition, we have a position, identity, but it is an identity that is based in what Francios Laruelle might call a philosophical decision. It is this position, the placement of the partition in meaning that can define a paradigm, but also what we can call an intrinsic mythology, what I call, in short, a route of meaning, by which I may situate True Objects.

Yet, when we consider the studies from the first link that shows that women tend not to enter a competitive situation when they know it is competitive even when they will have excelled in the activity, we have an indication of a situation that is viewed as pervasive and ubiquitous as it is prosaic, a situation the meaning of which and the manner of which is commonplace and taken thereby as obviously true; for, a feminist need not be a woman as well as the statistics are speaking of gender. But not only this; usually such a kind of result that brings the question leaves us in a lurch wondering what might be the content of this hole that was created by the available question. Yet here we have also the indication that indeed we can identify the content of the the ‘subaltern’. But see; this is only similar to the colonial recordings of the colonized practices and beliefs, such as Nicholas Dirks notices in his book “Castes of Mind”. Here we do not have to wonder about what might truly be the content of such proscriptions and then wait for the subaltern colonized bodies to speak themselves. Here we know exactly what the content is, or at least that there is indeed a content we know of that we are merely denying. The difference lay, on one hand, in where we place the partition, but on the other, which way we look, in what direction, and how we see things, what i call orientation. Women, Indian-Asian, Native-American, Latino, and more  –indeed they were and are being denied by the practice of colonial oppression, but they were being denied as a practice or effect of or because of, not what the colonizer did not want to see, but exactly because of the colonizer could not see. In our present considerations we are not nullifying that there are still bodies that cannot be seen who need to find their voice; instead, we are saying that once the bodies are found and the voices heard then the political no longer is the ‘last frontier’, or to put it in specifically post-modern terms: The ‘fact’ that we might be confined and limited by discourse does not mean that the only recourse we have is to the political-ideological realm, nor to the philosophical iterations that serve to reify its domain; similar to what Mr. Vedantam suggests in the NPR story, such an automatic default is most probably a false choice, a recourse that is seen to be the only route due to the placement of the partition of meaning, but that indeed now we might be able to see that there is some content beyond the limit, and as such, the limit would be then proposing itself in denial of the content that lay beyond it.

Hence, I am also reminded of the situation in which I find myself, because somehow I don’t like to compete and routinely go around direct test comparisons of assets, even though I am a man and (i like to think) quite masculine to boot. It is this apparently auspicious combination of traits that then moves me to withdraw from competition while all the while working on subversive means to win. Like Captain James Kirk in the Kobayashi Maru:

Kobayashi Maru
2009 Kirk Cheats
In a way, I don’t like to lose, and because I found myself in a no win (post-modern white wash) situation, I realized that this could not be the absolute case. And in fact, the discourses that revolve around, through and every which way upon a political and ideological, as well as psychological, solution somehow left me out and is leaving me out. Not as a Spivakian subaltern with no voice, but some kind of different invisible content, noticed yet denied.

(Hey; wasn’t there a Vulcan officer in one of the Star Trek movies who was named “Spivak” ???)

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Post-modernism’s Worth. 

When we are too close to an event, we talk about it as from a distance. That is, what we say is automatically distanced from the event, a maximum distance. The event is thus, by this occurrence, an object. As opposed to our psychotherapeutic model, the closer we are to an event, the more dishonest we are about its true bearings, that is, the truth of the matter, why it is that the (the wholeness of the) event has occurred the way it has. The impetus and the reaction can be come upon as an included item, a truth in-itself, only when we are distanced from the event. The truth of an object, as opposed to the True Object, can only be viewed in its truth from a distance. The equation is thus of inversion, of ratio.

Here then we may have a basis upon which to properly view foundational post-modern writers, namely, Derrida, Deleuze and Guittari, but others also.  To wit: Their descriptions were from a basis too close to the event, such that they attempted to quickly and finally establish a ground for the event; the event being thus so profound and significant, they were compelled to offer a reason.

They were not wrong, only rash. 

It is analogous to an explosion. We have now the data from the explosion, having encountered it ourselves, but also come across the initial first hand rationalization and fact crunching reports of the explosion itself – with that, subsequent explosions, and now the reports and experience of the aftermath(s) of explosions, we can now safely report upon the truth of the whole event. 

Tangent 3.1: Feminism

Readers may be confused by my comment on feminism, like it came out of nowhere and then was shanghai’d and made into a strange, over-milked form. That’s ok; I intend to be clear, so I should take a moment to explain terms that perhaps are not widely understood. Also, I should be clear that what I am describing some may consider just one aspect of what feminism is, a narrow aspect, but I believe that no feminist worth his or her weight will discount my presentation here. ( And I do invite critique.)

In the common world of everyday, feminism means about the same as women’s rights, except maybe a little more hardcore. A feminist of this sort maybe has become a sort of stereotype, maybe wears her hair short, but maybe not; maybe she tends toward more traditionally masculine jobs such as tree trimming or the trades, or maybe is driven to achieve in business and become a CEO, maybe she is just one who is sensitive for typical traditional Western manners such as holding a door for a woman or letting her in first. Maybe, even, she is homosexual. But also maybe – and this could be the most modern form of common feminism – she is none of these. Maybe she is a he: men can be feminists too (but not really, because they are men – wink, wink, nudge, nudge). At minimum, though, feminism is usually associated with advocating for women.

Yes; feminism most assuredly arose from the problem of women as second citizens. But feminism is not just about women’s rights. Feminism proper (and I use this ‘proper’ as a designating term of propriety, of what an end-run of analysis would bring) sees itself more as a praxis. As I explained in an earlier post, praxis can be said to be an alignment of knowledge, thought and activity into effective practice; feminists and social activists like the term ’empowerment’. Feminism thus usually concerns social arenas of human interaction, but especially uses of power.

Feminism is rooted primarily in critical thinking, and along with this, discourse. One of the basic ideas that was brought out by feminism was or is, what can be called, ideological encoding. What this means is that power is supported just as much, if not more so, through talking as it is through physical force. Power is encoded into how we speak of reality, and is developed and maintained as a manner of speaking about what is true, and what is ethically correct; this latter part forms what is called ideology. Such encoded structures of power are called discourse. Feminism arises as marginalized, or oppressed people, people who do not or have little say in what they are to do in life, begin to question what it is that keeps them down. Feminists have thereby equipped themselves with the tools to subvert unjust wielding of power. They see that every discourse has an implicit agenda, and their role is to uncover what this agenda is and how it functions in the ideological reality for the maintenance of power. Much of feminist critique concerns how such discourse occludes itself, or hides its mechanisms, from a notion of power as a part if its effect, so the other half of feminist praxis is to awaken subjects of power, to educate them, the oppressed, to their actual situation within ideological power structures.

*

I mostly agree with feminist intent, though sometimes I think it is over applied.

My comment on feminism in the previous post concerns the implicit and explicit concerns of feminism and how, though they do often and mainly serve well for what can be known as ‘the good’, they tend to convey a limitation of this good founded in social justice, as if justice and fairness is the end, that one then can go on their marry way content that they have been empowered and achieved freedom in its most ideal and essential sense. My complaint is with the ideological structure in which feminism finds its true reality. For if the end run is indeed freedom and justice, once found through social action, they can not be taken as a Mercedes Benz that one has worked so long and saved up for, the prize having arrived. While they are noble things for which we must establish stalwart boundaries to guard against that which would more crassly and overtly impinge upon such freedom and justice, once established we must be obliged by such earned luxury to renounce it as individuals. We owe it to what is known as history not to become spoiled and lax, but to continue fearlessly into the void that is left inside the barricades, that we love, the void called freedom. We should not waste it on selfishly created despair and harbor together in support against the cold, gathering chemicals to ease us and things to appease us, sick minds to comfort us. We need continue onward. This is what I say.

Thank god for the feminist infantry who man the lines; but what they offer is not the goal, it is just the beginning.

Direct Tangent 3.1: Appropriation of the Rhetoric of Power, part 2

There is a book called “Castes of Mind” by a man maned Dirks. It is an historical analysis and critique of 19th century English colonialism through an overtly cultural difference, caste, and how this feature of Indian culture was dealt with both by the English in an attempt to rule, and the Indians attempting to assert cultural autonomy and agency. I do not remember what his argument is beyond a picture of this interaction, but what I inferred from his presentation was this idea of appropriation of rhetoric, what feminists and modern theorists and activists call, but from a slightly but significantly different view, ‘hegemonic discourse’. Dirks is giving us a picture of how ideology asserts itself through a process of discourse, where those who have the power, in the case of colonialism in India: England ( but colonialism in general), dictate the terms of the cultural negotiation upon the colonized, namely, the indigenous Indians. The scheme or group of terms and their definitional relations are seen as a mechanism or tool of asserting power (read: violence) upon those who are colonized, and, as a very light definition, this is called ‘hegemony’.

What this means is that those in power bring the terms by which those not in power may be allowed to exist. And this is literally the case. Dirks paints a picture of how this really means for us that people are permitted to exist through discourse. One example (keep in mind I am not doing a research paper here; I am merely recalling the book from memory – one can easily look up the book for themselves if interested) he gives is about some Indian ritual. If I remember correctly, Dirks is drawing his analysis from written material of the time of the events, from various sources. The significant point here, is that the English there had trouble making sense of it. When they would ask the locals what was going on, or their feelings about it or the reason behind it, the English had no context by which to understand them. The Indians were effectively silent; they could not be heard: they effectively did not exist. Because of this, the English could only act upon the events through the understanding they had, which was total misunderstanding. The English, because of their position of power, were righteous in their view, having little or no ability to understand that they perhaps did not understand the Indian context: the Indian context was exactly what the English thought it was. Thus, the Indian context, the reason and meaning of the ritual in this case, was ultimately written by the English. The Indians, in an effort to establish their cultural legitimacy thus, in various ways and circumstances, developed a position in relation to what the English were saying, and doing, and in this way the Indians began to exist, for if they did not respond to such rhetoric in that fashion, they would in effect ‘remain silent’, and would thus be forced, physically, existentially, out of existence.

This is the typical feminist reading, analysis and comment upon such a situation; there are many such analyses upon various cultural contexts. The feminists propose to reconcile this hegemony, to balance this abuse of power and infringement of human autonomy and rights, by advocating that the colonized people, whether it be women, blacks, Hispanics, Argentinians, Koreans, hair dressers, union workers, or what, raise their voices, as the Indians did, by asserting themselves actively into the discourse, what one could call, the priority discourse, or the discourse of power, what i call a ‘rhetoric of power’ for reasons I will develop later.

What I am saying is a critique of such feminist rhetoric. The Feminists say that one needs to appropriate the hegemonic discourse, so that there is enacted thereby a shift in power, so it loses its effective hegemony. See, hegemony is read to imply agenda that is not recognized or approved of by those who are the subjects of the hegemony. But I suggest that what occurs is not that the people are empowered to their agency, but rather, they themselves become subject of the rhetoric of power such that they then too get to partake in the spoils of – what has developed out of – the hegemony, of colonialism. The people who appropriate the priority discourse lose their identity as individual cultural agents, and instead become, as Paulo Freire might agree ( maybe, but his was not at this level of critique), oppressed: involved in the game of oppression, both the oppressor and oppressed likewise caught in play. The oppressed, who learn the ways of the oppressor, become acculturated such that they are rewarded for their complicity, and thereby sustain the game of oppression. Neither have enacted a true free agency, neither have come upon praxis; both are oppressed.

* *

This is the position Laruelle appears to be presenting, the position I present here. Laruelle has appropriated the rhetoric of power, the priority discourse, in order to present his minority view, which is exactly silent – but as opposed to the movement of feminist-colonialist theoretics, which present the possibility of pushing agencies out of real existence by virtue of the establishing reality of the hegemonic (priority) discourse. And, it is because of this feature of his proposing Non-Philosophy within or by the priority discourse that he appears to be in Bad Faith.

It is thus the explicating of this appearance that is my task at hand here. The existence Laruelle proposes is exactly real opposed to the reality of the rhetoric of power.