Joseph Weissman | Thursday, November 1, 2012
Paul Klee, “Insula Dulcamara” (1938); Oil on newsprint, mounted on burlap
I began writing this before disaster struck very close to home; and so I finish it without finishing it. A disaster never really ends; it strikes and strikes continuously — and so even silence is insufficient. But yet there is also no expression of concern, no response which could address comprehensively the immense and widespread suffering of bodies and minds and spirits. I would want to emphasize my plea below upon the responsibility of thinkers and artists and writers to create new ways of thinking the disaster; if only to mitigate the possibility of their recurrence. (Is it not the case that the disaster increasingly has the characteristics of the accident; that the Earth and global techno-science are increasingly co-extensive Powers?) And yet despite these necessary new ways of thinking and feeling, I fear it will remain the case that nothing can be said about a disaster, if only because nothing can ultimately be thought about the disaster. But it cannot be simply passed over in silence; if nothing can be said, then perhaps everything may be said.
Inherent to the notion of risk is the multiple, or multiplicity. The distance between the many and the multiple is nearly infinite; every problem of the one and the many resolves to the perspective of the one, while multiplicity always singularizes, takes a line of pure variation or difference to its highest power. A multiplicity is already a life, the sea, time: a cosmos or style in terms of powers and forces; a melody or refrain in its fractured infinity.
The multiple is clear in its “being” only transitorily — as the survey of a fleet or swarm or network; the thought which grasps it climbs mountains, ascends vertiginously towards that infinite height which would finally reveal the substrate of the plane, the “truth” of its shadowy depths, the mysterious origins of its nomadic populations.
No telescopic lens could be large enough to approach this distance; and yet it is traversed instantaneously when the tragic arc of a becoming terminates in disaster; when a line of flight turns into a line of death, when one-or-several lines of organization and development reach a point beyond which avoiding self-destruction is impossible.
Chaos, boundless furnace of becoming! Fulminating entropy which compels even the cosmos itself upon a tragic arc of time; are birth and death not one in chaos or superfusion?
Schizophrenia is perhaps this harrowing recognition that there are only machines machining machines, without limit, bottomless.
In chaos, there is no longer disaster; but there are no longer subjects or situations or signifiers. Every subject, signifier and situation approaches its inevitable as the Disaster which would rend their very being from them; hence the nihilism of the sign, the emptiness of the subject, the void of the situation. Existence is farce — if loss is (permitted to become) tragedy, omnipresent, cosmic, deified.
There is an infinite tragedy at the heart of the disaster; a trauma which makes the truth of our fate impossible-to-utter; on the one hand because imbued with infinite meaning, because singular — and on the other, in turn, meaningless, because essentially nullified, without-reason. That the disaster is never simply pure incidental chaos, a purely an-historical interruption, is perhaps the key point: we start and end with a disaster that prevents us from establishing either end or beginning — a disaster which swiftly looms to cosmic and even ontological proportions…
Perhaps there is only a life after the crisis, after a breakthrough or breakdown; after an encounter with the outside. A life as strategy or risk, which is perhaps to say a multiplicity: a life, or the breakthrough of — and, perhaps inevitably, breakdown before — white walls, mediation, determinacy.
A life in any case is always-already a voice, a cosmos, a thought: it is light or free movement whose origin and destination cannot be identified as stable sites or moments, whose comings and goings are curiously intertwined and undetermined.
We cannot know the limits of a life’s power; but we know disaster. We know that multiplicities, surging flocks of actions and passions, are continually at risk.
The world presents itself unto a life as an inescapable gravity, monstrous fate, the contagion of space, time, organization. A life expresses itself as an openness which is lacerated by the Open.
A life is a cosmos within a cosmos — and so a life opens up closed systems; it struggles and learns not in spite of entropy but on account of it, through a kind of critical strategy, even a perversely recursive or fractal strategy; through the micro-cosmogenetic sieve of organic life, entropy perversely becomes a hyper-organizational principle.
A life enters into a perpetual and weightless ballet — in a defiance-which-is-not-a-defiance of stasis; a stasis which yet presents a grave and continuous danger to a life.
What is a life, apart from infinite movement or disaster? Time, a dream, the sea: but a life moves beyond rivers of time, or seas of dreaming, or the outer spaces of radical forgetting (and alien memories…)
A life is a silence which may become wise. A life — or that perverse machine which works only by breaking down — or through…
A life is intimacy through parasitism, already a desiring-machine-factory or a tensor-calculus of the unconscious.
A life lives in taut suspension from one or several lines of becoming, of flight or death — lines whose ultimate trajectories may not be known through any safe or even sure method.
A life is the torsion between dying and rebirth.
Superfusion between all potentialities, a life is infinite-becoming of the subjectless-subject. Superject.
Journeying and returning, without moving, from the infinity and chaos of the outside/inside. A stationary voyage in a non-dimensional cosmos, where everything flows, heats, grinds.
Phenomenology is a geology of the unconscious, a problem of the crystalline apparatus of time. Could there be at long last a technology of time which would abandon strip-mining the subsconscious?
A chrono-technics which ethico-aesthetically creates and transforms virtual and actual worlds, traces possibilities of living, thinking, thinking; diagnoses psychic, social and physical ecosystems simultaneously.
A communications-strategy, but one that could point beyond the vicious binary of coercion and conflation — but so therefore would not-communicate.
There is a a recursive problem surrounding the silence and darkness at the heart of a life; it is perhaps impossible to exhaust (at least clinically) the infinitely-deferred origin of those crystalline temporal dynamisms which in turn structure any-moment-whatsoever.
Is there a silence which would constitute that very singular machinic ‘sheaf’, the venerated crystalline paradise of the moved-unmoving?
The impossibility of this origin is also the interminability of the analysis; also the infinite movement attending any moment whatsoever. It is the history of disaster, of the devil.
There is only thinking when a thought becomes critically or clinically engaged with a world, a cosmos. This engagement discovers its bottomlessness in a disaster for thought itself. A disaster for life, thought, the world; but also perhaps their infinitely-deferred origins…
What happens in the physical, economic, social and psychic collapse of a world, a thought, a life? Is it only in this collapse, commensurate with the collision, interference of one cosmos with another…?
Collapse is never a final state. There is no closed system of causes but a kind of original fracture. The schizophrenic coexistence of many separate worlds in a kind of meta-stable superfusion.
A thought, a cosmos, a world, a life can have no other origin than the radical corruption and novel genesis of a pure substance of thinking, living, “worlding,” “cosmosing.” A becoming refracts within its own infinite history the history of a life, a world, a thought.
Although things doubtless seem discouraging, at any moment whatsoever a philosophy can be made possible. At any time and place, this cyclonic involution of the library of Babel can be reactivated, this golden ball propelled by comet-fire and dancing towards the future can be captured in a moment’s reflection…
The breakdown of the world, of thought, of life — the experience of absolute collapse, of the horror of the vacuum, is already close the infinite zero-point reached immediately and effortlessly by schizophrenia. Even in a joyous mode when it recognizes the properly affirmative component of the revelation of cosmos as production, production as multiplicity, multiplicity as it opens onto the infinite or the future. (Only the infinity of the future can become-equal to a life.)
That spirit which fixes a beginning in space and time, fixes it without fixing itself; it exemplifies the possibility of atemporality and the heresy of the asignifying, even while founding the possibility of piety and dogma.
The disaster presents thought and language with their cosmic doubles; thought encounters a disaster in the way a subject encounters a radical outside, a death.
Only selection answers to chaos, to the infinite horizon of a life — virtually mapping infinite potential planes of organization onto a singular line of development. Only selection, only the possibility of philosophy, points beyond the inevitability of disaster.
The disaster and its aversion is the basic orientation of critical thought; thinking the disaster: this impossible task is the critical cultural aim of art and writing. Speaking the truth of the disaster is perhaps impossible. A life encounters disaster as the annihilating of the code itself; not merely a decoding but the alienation from the essence of matter or speech or language. The means to thinking the disaster lie in poetic imagination, the possibility of the temporal retrojection of narrative elements; the disaster can be thought only through “unthinking” it: in the capacity of critical or poetic imagination to explore the means by which a disaster was retroactively averted. The counterfactual acquires a new and radical dimension: not the theological dimension of salvation, but a clinical dimension — the power to of think the transformation of the conditions of the disaster.