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- Mitochondrial Vertigo: The New Blog
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- The Becoming-woman of Machine in Avatar
- The Difference Between a Description and an Explanation: Deficits in Latour
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- Transcendence or Immanence: Cake-and-eat-it-too-ism
- From Affect to Mutuality, Openness to Rational Co-expression: Massumi to Spinoza
- Is the Medium the Message? Avatar’s Avatar
- Massumi’s Cognitive Doubling, Spinoza’s Numerical Affectivity
- Two Vectors of Avatar’s Cinematic Achievement: Affect and Space Interface
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Spinoza Primary Sources
- Ethics, Emendation, Tractatus and Letters, in Latin
- F. van den Enden website
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Ode to Man
Tho’ many are the terrors, not one more terrible than man goes. This one beyond the grizzled sea in winter storming to the south He crosses, all-engulfed, cutting through, up from under swells. & of the gods She the Eldest, Earth un-withering, un-toiling, is worn down, As the Twisting Plough’s year into Twisting Plough’s year, Through the breeding of horse, he turns. & the lighthearted race of birds all-snaring he drives them & savage beasts, their clan, & of the sea, marine in kind With tightly-wound meshes spun from all-seeing is Man. Yet too, he masters by means of pastoral beast, mountain-trodding, The unruly-maned horse holding fast, ‘round the neck yoked, & the mountain’s ceaseless bull. & the voice & wind-fast thought & the passion for civic ways He has taught, so from crag’s poor court from under the ether’s hard-tossed arrows To flee, this all-crossing one. Blocked, he comes upon nothing so fated. From Hades alone escape he’ll not bring. Tho’ from sickness impossible Flight he has pondered. A skilled one, devising of arts beyond hope, Holding at times an evil, But then to the noble he crawls, honoring the laws of the Earth, & Of gods the oath so just, high-citied. Citiless is the one who with the un-beautiful dwells, boldly in grace. Never for me a hearth-mate may he have been, never equal in mind He who offers this.
Ode to Man
A BwO is made in such a way that it can be occupied, populated only by intensities. Only intensities pass and circulate. Still, the BwO is not a scene, a place, or even a support upon which something comes to pass. It has nothing to do with phantasy, there is nothing to interpret. The BwO causes intensities to pass; it produces and distributes them in a spatium that is itself intensive, lacking extension. It is not space, nor is it in space; it is matter that occupies space to a given degree—to the degree corresponding to the intensities produced. It is nonstratified, unformed, intense matter, the matrix of intensity, intensity = 0; but there is nothing negative about that zero, there are no negative or opposite intensities. Matter equals energy. Production of the real as an intensive magnitude starting at zero. That is why we treat the BwO as the full egg before the extension of the organism and the organization of the organs, before the formation of the strata; as the intense egg defined by axes and vectors, gradients and thresholds, by dynamic tendencies involving energy transformation and kinematic movements involving group displacement, by migrations: all independent of accessory forms because the organs appear and function here only as pure intensities. The organ changes when it crosses a threshold, when it changes gradient. "No organ is constant as regards either function or position, . . . sex organs sprout anywhere,... rectums open, defecate and close, . . . the entire organism changes color and consistency in split-second adjustments." The tantric egg. After all, is not Spinoza's Ethics the great book of the BwO?
Ode to Man
But human power is extremely limited, and is infinitely surpassed by the power of external causes; we have not, therefore, an absolute power of shaping to our use those things which are without us. Nevertheless, we shall bear with an equal mind all that happens to us in contravention to the claims of our own advantage, so long as we are conscious, that we have done our duty, and that the power which we possess is not sufficient to enable us to protect ourselves completely; remembering that we are a part of universal nature, and that we follow her order. If we have a clear and distinct understanding of this, that part of our nature which is defined by intelligence, in other words the better part of ourselves, will assuredly acquiesce in what befalls us, and in such acquiescence will endeavour to persist. For, in so far as we are intelligent beings, we cannot desire anything save that which is necessary, nor yield absolute acquiescence to anything, save to that which is true: wherefore, in so far as we have a right understanding of these things, the endeavour of the better part of ourselves is in harmony with the order of nature as a whole.
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I am left considering sleep paralysis (have you ever experienced this? It’s LOUD. It’s like being violently squeezed by sound), John Donne’s undoing, and times when I’ve come across something so beautiful and unscrutable it seems to destroy strategy.
Yes, I am having a discussion over at Complete Lies on this aspect of jouissance interpretation: http://buymeout.wordpress.com/2009/05/28/the-jouissance-beyond-life-and-death/#comment-144
Holderlin calls it “the skull’s roar” of the Scamander. I think that there are something interesting phenomenological/conceptual negotiations to be unwound here. My sense is that yes, if there is too much energy, too much intensity (looking at God’s face, if you will) dumped into the system, then yes, paralysis (or dissolution) is the result. And we make protocols for these kinds of experiences (horror movies for one), but I also sense that there are modulated ways in which our experiential limits are worked to produce experiences of wholeness and action, levitant effectability. And then the careful line/oscillation between the two.
Maybe Rilke’s “Archaic Torso of Apollo” which works like a distant detonation.
The literal limb-loosener:
We cannot know his legendary head
with eyes like ripening fruit. And yet his torso
is still suffused with brilliance from inside,
like a lamp, in which his gaze, now turned to low,
gleams in all its power. Otherwise
the curved breast could not dazzle you so, nor could
a smile run through the placid hips and thighs
to that dark center where procreation flared.
Otherwise this stone would seem defaced
beneath the translucent cascade of the shoulders
and would not glisten like a wild beast’s fur:
would not, from all the borders of itself,
burst like a star: for here there is no place
that does not see you. You must change your life.
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Can you say a little more about levitant effectability?
I don’t know. Spinoza makes it nearly a defining aim of the The Good, an increase in the capacity of the body to affect others, or to be affected. Increases in “pleasure”, the loosening of limbs, while it can lead to a paralysis which is a phase in which it seems that the number of ways we can be affected or affect others is diminished, perhaps this is not so. It is that we are being affected beyond “count” so to speak. I think that these kind of terr-ific experiences can be and are modulated, and when cultivated produce an end result which places the body in a kind of levitation, a lightness (much as how a surfer is on a wave, lightly), which becoms highly efficient/effective. The capacity to act is increased. Arists, atheletes, craftsmen I think experiences this daily. But all of us do, in degrees.
The reason why I say “levitant” is that much like Rilke’s marble statue, there comes a point where the expected laws and relations of habitual perception do not apply. We experience a certain perceptual violation which in the end (can) produce new capacities to act.
Thank you. Here’s how I’m understanding it at the moment.
It’s natural to invest a lot of effort in avoiding the power of the terrible. People spend entire lives tied up with the things that they’re phobic about. So if/when there’s a convergence between the self and the terrible object, if the other shoe drops, so to speak, a certain set of heavily laden /emotionally dense mental ramparts become useless, and a person may feel that they’ve broken open and become weightless. They feel less internal division. The intense energy tied up in avoiding certain truths seems to disappear, as if ground away by the power of the terrible. This involves surrender, it involves “yes.”
I like that very much, the self and the terrible object I recall reading the biographical note of a world-leading entymologist. She had a dreadful fear of certain bugs, and decided to take a class in them to confront her fear a bit. She soon found herself dedicating her life and passion to them.
I think it is a “yes”, but I see it more then mere submission, a kind of nuanced and articulate engagement, allowing the object to “speak”. But again, I am wary of binaries. Such “speaking” always comes at cross currents, and involves a host of nearly topological tides.
I thought you might enjoy a another angle on the terrible object which I came across in Marcus Aurelius. I’ve quoted it here. http://brooklynometry.blogspot.com/2008/11/split-at-surface.html
Thank you. I will take a look.
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