Another memory goes with this

Filed under: event, difference, text, narrative, fiction, the political — sdv @ 01:20:59 pm

Another memory goes with this. At Cowes, one summer day, on the yacht which was moored in the harbour, side by side with all the other yachts. Father and Mother had gone on shore, and the men had gone on in the dinghy to buy things to eat and had not come back. Yesterday they had brought me a pair of new shoes. The dull brown leather shoes with a strap and a boot button, worn before the days of sandals, before the blessed summer nakedness of children today: at a time when two kind of drawers and two kinds of petticoats, a pinafore and serge frock imposed, as I can still remember, a very real strain on one’s vitality…. Mary Butts


quasi-religious, anti-realism and constructs

Filed under: culture, philosophy, event, difference, the political — sdv @ 08:43:15 pm

Not accepting the default assumption that all social constructions are ‘real’ but are constructions does not mean that I am being quasi-religious, internal to their discourse religions are realisms.  The default understanding of an anti-realist is to assume that the object  is invented, constructed. Why would religion be considered as any different from racism, sexism, sheep,  domesticity, the quark or popular genetics ? The list of comparable objects and events is long but not limitless.

A comment then “My concern with both of you is that you seem to refuse the insights of evolutionary psychology and neurology to understand religious phenomena because you seem to want to foreclose prematurely on understanding it by simply labelling it instead as a kind reactionary ideology based on superstition. ” A scientific proposition which addresses an ideological/social construction  and  consequently reproduces religion as a unique set of real phenomena is not a scientific phenomena that I can consider as valid. It is difficult and perhaps impossible to separate the religious phenomena from the ideological concept that is being supported by the misidentification of ‘religious phenomena’.  It has the equivalent status as the assumption that since homosexuality exists as a social phenomena no society can exist without the concept of ‘homosexuality’, whereas in fact ‘homosexuality’ has nothing to do with male/male and female/female desire, it is an ideological concept that exists because of very particular societal requirements. Science which declares the existence of a ‘gay gene’ is carrying out a purely ideological operation that is founded on a society that requires the social concept of homosexuality be proven to have a cause. It is this same ideological operation which the science that declares that ‘religion’ is understandable as a phenomena having a genetic, neurological and physical cause which is encoded in some peoples genes is engaged in. What is present as science is much better understood as an ideological operation and only afterwards as a phenomena worthy of scientific investigation. (they are of course the  wrong sciences, but this scarcely matters). The problem is that science frequently presents ideological facts as ‘real’ as if evolutionary psychology and neurology are producing scientific laws equivalent to the second law of thermodynamics and clearly they are not. There can be no matheme that describes religion and religious phenomena, because they are simply social constructs. We can perhaps leave the question of whether the matheme itself is a wrong turn for another time.

A second comment was this “…A cynic might argue that you both hold such a position because your ‘everything is politics’ stance tends to mask a quasi-religious position itself and you are afraid that rational scrutiny in this area might hit too close to home…” Politics is immanent, where there are human beings there will always be the political. That we believe it is necessary to extend the concept beyond the human realm, for reasons to do with the radical extension of equality and equivalence out from the current reactionary and truncated form, to pre-establish an alliance with the non-human is not in any sense quasi-religious, it is however a deliberate political and philosophical decision, axiomatic to a fault. How to distinguish “…political and religious movements…” ? Everything is political, not everything is religious, where now we exist in societies where science and scientists function as jurists supporting the state, from physics, biologists, economists and beyond, ((Even the quasi-religious Bush regime depended on its coterie of western Economists arguing for the free-market and increased globalization, the support for capital coming ever closer to destroying the world)). Whereas religion is increasingly restricted to the social personal areas on the margins of our societies. Margins to be understood in the sense of marginalized from power, authority and juridical issues. The other aspect of this is that all aspects of human existence are always political;  science (physics,  biology,  economics,  the psychological sciences),  religion (who can forget the  extraordinary struggle of homosexuality in the Anglican churches?, the Islamist fatwas on writers !) -  no all human ground is political and it always has been. Before the neolithic invention of farming, perhaps even as far back as the first hominids inventing tools - the political. And that in brief is how I would distinguish the political from quarks and religion,  in brief one could be called eternal  whilst the others are temporal…


of "spirituality"

Filed under: philosophy, difference, the political — sdv @ 07:23:06 pm

I am a little reluctant to speak of  “spirutality” as I am rigorously aspiritual, but still why would I not consider issues of the spiritual as being essentially political ? If a metaphysics is always a political ontology, (Negri says “in some sense” but his logic argues “always")  and if you accept a description of “politics as power relations” which basically I think that one must then it is a small step to considering the spiritual as existing on a immanent plane. However I think we need to avoid the equally problematic trap of thinking politics as consisting of a territory such as the Deluezian binary machines of social classes, of sex and gender,  ages, childhood into adulthood, of mythical races, sectors and segments, subjectivations, sciences and technologies - because whilst these can be thought of through power relations it’s also clear that some of these apparatuses are not necessarily well understood through power relations. My hesitancy lies in the inherent tendency to think of power relations negatively, along the lines of the master/slave dialectic rather than as an immanent plane where power/politics are always apparent component parts of any objects. In contemporary terms I am (especially) thinking of the way that physics and the information sciences have always offered themselves in service to the State,  in the way that religion did in the not to distant past and so desperately wants to again. And you can identify this tendency through the vast growth in the numbers of religious schools of all faiths that are supporting the development of control and management structures of the State.  In this sense then there are as many politics as relations between singularities, as many as the devices of power that we cannot really understand in relational terms because on such a plane the relations may finally be simply non-existent. But nonetheless if the only way to consider politics outside of the spectre of the “formal structures"  is relational then  this is an acceptable compromise, but still the image of politics I have is something more liquid, the continuum’s of intensity and flux that seem to reflect the actuality of our lives.

If however spirituality is considered in terms of what makes humans and non-humans alike ‘happy’ then let me add that nothing can make us humans and non-humans happy, better surely to recognize and then to admit that happiness does not come with the territory of  being and never will. The psychoanalyst Adam Philips put the scale of the problem rather well “Freud said the purpose of psychoanalysis is to turn neurotic misery into everyday unhappiness, and what he meant by that is that people aren’t going to be transformed magically.”  For really everyday unhappiness is quite good enough. It is not then that there is a limit to politics, for politics like science and art is not about happiness, but rather there are some things that are recognizable as simply impossible.


Filed under: philosophy, difference, the political — sdv @ 02:28:53 pm

Another example - paul and i can freely use the concept of ‘ideology’ because thinkers such as Deleuze/Guattari and Foucault broke with the theme of ideology that defined the Freudo-Marxism of the decades around the 50s and 60s. It was the break with the concept of ideology which rather allowed people like us to begin to use it again. So when you hear the word ‘ideology’ do not think back to those moments, but instead think of the zero-point of ideology when what was being taught was ‘ideology and discourse’ and really what we began to need was a way back from language to universals, difference, equality and equivalence.

“…Were politics a genre and were that genre to pretend to that supreme status, its vanity would be quickly revealed. Politics, however, is the threat of the differend. It is not a genre, it is the multiplicity of genres, the diversity of ends, and par excellence the question of linkage. It plunges into the emptiness where “it happens that…” It is, if you will, the state of language, but it is not a language. Politics consists in the fact that language is not a language, but phrases, or that Being is not Being, but There is’s. It is tantamount to Being which is not. It is one of its names…” Lyotard Differend 138

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