Monday, May 09, 2005

The mind can imagine nothing, nor recollect that ewhich is past

A recent exchange in the comments to a post includes my attempt to read a passage from The Logic of Sense without knowing what sort of speech act was being performed by the reader who quoted the passage. (I also didn’t know it was a quotation; I assumed the text was written by the reader.) (I still don’t know what The Logic of Sense is.)

What philosophical texts can mean out of context: Joan Retallack, Cage scholar and language poet, has written a book about this, or of this, (Errata 5uite), and its epigraph, from Ben Jonson, goes: In no labyrinth can I safelier err, Than when, etc.

Now, one might say that of course you’re safe in a labyrinth: a labyrinth, in the strict sense, is unicursal, having only one possible path—you can’t get lost (though you might not know where you are). But in a maze—which is multicursal, a network of multiple conjoined passages—there one can err for real.

Let us safely err and conflate the two and imagine with Ben Jonson a labyrinth that is non-trivially low-risk (like the biology classroom in which I assist special-needs students—a declared “Failure-Free Zone”).

Shakespeare is a labyrinth in which one can safely err—He smote the sledded Polacks on the ice versus He smote the sledded pole-axe on the ice: I’ll take both. (I’m talking about the reader’s safety, not the scholar’s.)

Ulysses is a labyrinth in which one can safely err (though Joyce, as Hans Walter Gabler has it, was “intensely conscious” of printers’ errors in the first edition and helped compile the errata published with subsequent printings; though God bless Hans Walter Gabler for the corrected text!).

Retallack suggests that philosophy is a labyrinth in which one can safely err: break up philosophical texts, isolate concepts from their accounts, propositions from the arguments that make them responsible, splice together texts from philosophers of different eras and different intentions—see what it says anyway, what it can’t help saying.

Errata 5uite juxtaposes fictional errata slips (left page) with collages of philosophical fragments (right page) (whether these collages are composed or the product of chance processes is unclear (Cage infamously tampered with his chance processes to get good results (any statistician will tell you that random distributions don’t look random (experimental subjects mistake composed scatterings of points for random ones and vice versa)))).

Let’s read:
Kapital, is it not the stage director of noises and silences themselves (L1) revisionists yield to the negative features of the very reality principle (M1) the mere idea of promoting human pleasure (M2) he justifies the terrible, the evil, and the questionable (N1) the “Assurance from Reasoning” if you desire it (P1)

Retallack: time wuz when tales told philosophers & they died laughing (for what reply does one make).

Barthes: The brio of the text (without which, after all, there is no text) is its will to bliss: just where it exceeds demand, transcends prattle, and whereby it attempts to overflow.

Charles Bernstein:
“Artifice” is a measure of a poem’s
intractability to being read as the sum of its
devices & subject matters. In this sense,
“artifice” is the contradiction of “realism”, with
its insistence on presenting an unmediated
(immediate) experience of facts, either of the
“external” world of nature or the “internal” world
of the mind
I have been unable to locate a passage I misremember from Derrida, something like: deconstruction aims to articulate a site from which philosophy can appear to itself as other than what it is or: deconstruction aims to articulate a site from which philosophy can appear to itself as what it is. If we are Joan Retallack, we need not choose between these misrememberings, for they amount to the same.


Anonymous juan said...

You should change the blog's name to Fort Advil, due to the headaches your strange, exhuberant yet dull prose causes. I mean that in a good way of course.

When do Hill's nudes go up? a pic of wifey pudenda worth a 1000 yawps......

Aw yeahhhhhhhhhhhh

5/10/2005 6:33 PM  

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