A storm is coming in. I haven’t written much in the past year; often, I hesitate to write at all. Yet, we may surmise an excellent reason to write and develop our thoughts differently than before in a blind pass when firing a warning shot across the bow…
Occasionally, there are these heuristics one hears reiterated, which because they remind of “youth” unwittingly bring one back to their senses. One familiar didactic metaphor is the prospect of “mind-mapping” in graphic design. I loathe it, as it is frequently nonsensical or incoherent due to the unreliability of “method.” Now I understand they say there is no such thing as learning styles. If there’s ultimately no real way to proceed in practice but from one’s best guidance and education, then no matter how principled, eclectic or self-stitched, or poor it may be, all philosophy of mind is lost in this morass of mental substantiation and prolonged solitary reverie. I can say “Derrida” until the cows lie down. Actually, my first reading of Jacques Derrida was Writing and Difference in English, although his essay on Jean-Jacques Rousseau in Of Grammatology struck a chord with my own Introduction to Philosophy — which was taught by a phenomenal Rousseau scholar.
This instructor first wrote the name “Husserl” on the chalkboard in white.
Teaching and expertise aside, I have no issue with mundane will-power, including the will to knowledge, the will to mastery. There has to be understanding. Observing these invisible lines of determination, those demarcated discussions of “guard-rails” are the core metaphors I remember best in the nascent study of Derrida and différance. Morally, he was fair, or I gather that he tried to be fair to his interlocutors. I reread Rousseau’s Tenth Walk recently, and I’m all the more illuminated because of it. Reading theory is a lot like learning how to bowl, first with bumpers, then eventually, you bring them down and move to strike! The idea of difference was an alley of kinetic friction, différance was walking or skating by in funny shoes on frictionless ice. Literature ought to learn first from classical physics, leaving alone quantum mechanics. The next one was naturally The Post Card, where I initially discovered – “[a] certain process of machination, acceleration in the speed of angels” (44) – the footnote citing the non-philosophy of Francois Laruelle, which is still not “metapostal” per se. Derrida there writes on Destiny: “We have never yet seen each other. Only written” (68).
That’s probably where good conventional reading stops, before those Biblical allusions enter into the formulation. And then we have the problematic of writing. And calculating difference. It’s the same malaise of misplaced concreteness, serried fallacies of number and numeral. Unless and until that transparent moment of insight strikes, I would tend to overwrite and collect the multiple philosophies of life or representations of self I adduced in time, across these years. It’s why I am partial to considerations of ideation, imagination, and intuition — the psychoanalysis of fire — not infrequently at the expense of normal science and technology. We have our own memory, written or other evidence, and other people’s testimonies, etc. to solidify or fragment these many obscure senses of being, identity, personality, and spirit. Far be it from me to think about this opaque body of information overload/overkill, I say I must let be the mind to work its problems out freely. I captured the image of the footnote, and traced it down…
I am writing to work through contemporary problems which may concern you, that have long troubled me.
Confidence, optimism: these mean giving an answer to a question that wasn’t raised to you. We live with this uncertainty. Except I read The Post Card carefully, with an attenuated sense of accrual. It was supposed to pay off, and I was to be “better-off” for having invested in mailing it, etc. Envois, bon voyage. It’s sent. Whereas, this working process of accounting for differences lead to my initial reading of Laruelle, later on, in his book Philosophies of Difference (which I now own in French). I won’t explicate it here, because these are all English translations, sadly. Yet, I became persuaded that if the mind could be mapped accurately in imagery or pictures/photographs, by way of perceptual learning, or via other material representations of what is seen or felt, it would surely look like something unruly and categorically non-philosophical. That creative or practical auto-poiesis is the result or outcome of direct sense perception, the unreliability of eyewitness testimony and narration, and hence the pressing need for independent thinking. Hold that thought: I scorn that image of my inspiration, just as I weave together the story of it; yet I overwrite that prior emotion which is without consciously-applied rule.
We notice the differences in philosophies, all the same. And “we” endure daily this whimsical problem: What is a metaphor? Where is concrete? Even the hardware store has been out of concrete lately. We need mortar. So I return to myself, in asking what went wrong in this phenomenological track from Rousseau-Husserl-Derrida-Laruelle? I feel I am where I ought to be. But I was an early acolyte of Laruelle; it’s now time to repave La ruelle. Given the pandemic scenario, I found the concrete where I left it in my early poetry, in the line: “It’s sidewalk alleys that breed disease…” Evidently, experience does not follow that ideation of visual imagery, and shall not bind to endless metaphorization of Drive. I likened, thereafter, the footnote to the image of track and field: Derrida passing on the baton to Laruelle. Sidewalks, to bowling alleys, back to a different (tartan, all-weather) surface. These days I am playing tennis with myself, as far as conceptual thought goes. Whence the racket of war, the warning shot across the bow.
I usually write for nobody in particular, no audience, and I typically want to be left alone.
With no available thematicization beyond unbound perception, here it matters all the more what one actually thinks and adjudicates — albeit not in lessening or diminishing what one is able to write. Where the quality of my thinking has dissipated, it verges again on the poetic register: it’s necessary to think about ability. I am able to ask questions, though I often pass on this opportunity. On principle, originary phenomenological intuition often holds strong enough, while imagination bolsters and fortifies, strengthening those percepts and cognitive impressions. It does this at several threshold levels, similar to electron orbitals, to the point at which it cannot overcome its own biases which it considers real. At this junction, the illusion is possible, likely even. Intentionality recoups the losses.
Action reduces to your best understanding, it doesn’t enlarge your interest in topics that rightly ought to concern you. We have a felt and bodily need for cultivating good judgment, making distinctions, and pausing for discernment. At times, the entire sequence of ideation gives way at once to a callous or calcified truth. There is a different fundamental mood, ontology, epistemology at work. And the latent or unconscious material is fodder for rebuilding the conceptual castle or fortress; knowing the theory of knowledge to be false, it is sufficient to repudiate that which the vision is an instance “of” using some logic of term and proposition. A simple, straightforward universal conditional removes years of anxious worry when so swiftly enacted. It puts us again in the mood for doing philosophy, the insight yields a second chance at working it out, without putting down philosophy. I hadn’t understood the details, those lofty transcendental stakes, until I scanned through Husserl’s Experience and Judgment.
So I was enamored, this time in French, with Laruelle’s Christo-Fiction, before the English translation was released. While I had caught wind of their exchanges, I stuck with Laruelle against my judgment. My experience, however, continued on this journey of understanding. And when questioning is dormant, opportunities are passed up, and occasions are missed, the mind is lazy. It returns to its Christian meditations, to those subjective moments of Descartes and Pascal. I was able to rebuild, from the boiler room as it were, how it came to be that non-standard philosophy concerns me. There are other names I haven’t read, authors I’ve averred, and to whose judgment I might defer: yet, it’s been my own gamut to run. And I was a long-distance guy; in swimming, they said I could have been All-American if I had kept up with it. In the light of Pindar’s glory, Olympian philosophy is non-pushing. Then it forcefully shoves its way onward to victory.
A judgment: The footnote in question arrived after the entry on 7 October 1977: “No, the truth, that’s the dose” (118). I have since thought of the thematic of confession, from St. Augustine to Rousseau, etc. only to find there is nothing to say. But, true to the Derridean way, the truth is in a footnote. For all the talk of Socratism, it should be granted that Laruelle has something of the truth in him. And it has made a difference to me. Derrida marks multiple “non’s-“, namely: non-identity, non-truth, non-family, non-secret, non-answers, and the absolute non-addressee. After the images in that book, the footnote is here on page # … after the Notices (Warnings), after Freud’s legacy, the mention of Jung on 330, Kant and the Mystic Writing Pad in the Paralysis section, Seven: Postscript, Hegel’s Aufhebung, etc. Here it is on 405 in black and white text:
“11. Could what I was then attempting in a seminar, on the basis of a reading and a “monographic” exercise, in the environs of a single text by Freud, join up or intersect in some way with the project that provides the title for Laruelle’s latest book Au-delà du principe de pouvoir (Paris: Payot, 1978)? I am not yet certain. Without directly treating the Freudian text, Laruelle’s book refers to it and displaces it in depth, beyond the citational parody of its title. From Machines textuelles (Paris: Seuil, 1976), Nietzsche contre Heidegger (Paris: Payot, 1977), and Le Déclin de l’écriture (Paris: Aubier-Flammarion, 1977) onward, a powerful elaboration is following its course.”
I followed that course, so to speak, and it was Machines textuelles which remains to be read. I am reading it, of course, in French. There are many sections, in the Cinquieme Section. I suspect Derrida missed the rhetorical and philosophical import, in 1980. Four years prior, the more accurate account herein is that of Laruelle: sujet-de-l’écriture et suject-du-désir beginning at 37 on page 260-1.
L’écriture, encore. La ruelle is spaced out. Let’s lay the pavers…