November 19, 2012

Seas inlaid with eloquent gentle wires

I think Bostock would have an unlikely ally in Walt Whitman, no Luddite, who celebrated the trans-Atlantic telegraph cable  in his poem “Passage to India,” which is largely about the unfinished journey of Columbus. Whitman writes about this journey symbolically (not from a historical perspective, which would reveal Columbus’ mission to Christianize and enslave the indigenous West) as an attempt to unite East and West by bringing Europe and India together to begin a global civilization. (Columbus’s journey is also Edgar Morin’s historical starting point for the beginning of the planetary era in his book Seven Complex Lessons in Education for the Future, which I’ve written about recently here)…
The work of uniting the world is still in progress, but whether the means consist of ships, cables, or the internet, technology always provides the backbone. In “Song of Myself,” we encounter Whitman’s version of extension, his body taking flight and touring the nation. However, he is not disembodied. His journey is concrete and rooted to the land… His flight is rooted in the American landscape, in the vast extension of the material world, the expanses of nature on the continent…
Camille Paglia argues in her 2000 Salon article The North American Intellectual Tradition, that a kind of earthy, visionary pragmatism is the dominant philosophy on this side of the Atlantic. She argues against the continental philosophers (such as Heidegger, Derrida, and Lacan) whose works are too dry, abstract, and jargon-laden to appeal to the American sensibility. Instead of the disembodied mind, she embraces the body:
“My argument is that the North American intellectuals, typified by McLuhan, Fiedler and Brown, achieved a new fusion of ideas — a sensory pragmatism or engagement with concrete experience, rooted in the body, and at the same time a visionary celebration of artistic metaspace — that is, the fictive realm of art, fantasy and belief projected by great poetry and prefiguring our own cyberspace.”

We always like to return to Whitman one of the poets with whom Sri Aurobindo’s concludes his Future Poetry.  Fittingly Ferlinghetti on his journey to the West concludes by invoking Whitman whose oracular voice echoes through the bohemians and the beats from the east village to north beach, it is here given over in what will surely be one of last great exhalations from a founding member of that generation (al)

Fichte and Romantic Self-Assertion The Isaiah Berlin Virtual Library THE ASSAULT ON THE FRENCH ENLIGHTENMENT
Fichte is the figure who betrayed the rationalist and ultimately libertarian and even democratic ideals of Kant, and the harmless, benevolent, decent, populist ideals of Herder, who thought that there were many flowers in the garden and that they need not struggle with each other at all.
The person who foresaw where this was going to lead was the poet Heinrich Heine, who in a very famous passage said, warning the French, I think after 1830, not to down their weapons, not to disarm, because of the fearful danger from their neighbours: ‘Kantians will appear who will … ruthlessly with sword and axe hack through the foundations of our European life … Armed Fichteans will come, whose fanatical wills neither fear nor interest can touch.’ 26 And who shall say that he was altogether mistaken? Page 30 FICHTE AND ROMANTIC SELF The Isaiah Berlin Literary Trust 2005 11:33 AM

Tweet 13h - Steven Shaviro @shaviro I accept the parts of Deleuze that stem from Bergson, Spinoza, Leibniz, & Kant, but reject the parts that stem from Nietzsche & Hume.

What I’m trying to think– along with many others –is multiple causation or how a variety of different causes interact with one another from both the plane of expression and the plane of content.  My gripe with a theorist like Lacan, for example, is not that he’s wrong in pointing out that the signifier– another example of an incorporeal machine –plays an important causal role in human subjectivity and social assemblages.  My gripe lies in the way in which he tends to treat language as a “primary modeling system” for everything else– “the universe is the flower of rhetoric” –treating it as structuring an unformatted matter (everything else), without exploring the causal contributions (“difference contributions”) made by non-signifying entities.  It’s not that Lacan is wrong, but that he is not sufficiently thinking in terms of overdetermination.  This is why much in Guattari’s work represents a significant advance over Lacan.  So basically, without sharing her thesis that culture is universal, I’m on the same page as Aprell…
The mark of the universality of culture in the anthropocene thus does not lie in the universal reign of the signifier structuring everything– cultural narratives and signifiers structure very little in Antarctica –but rather lies in the universal effects of contemporary technology and capitalist modes of production that have managed to transform the fabric of the planet at the atmospheric, chemical, and biological level no matter how remote the region.  In this respect, the anthropocene does not entail the erasure of the biological, chemical, or geological, but rather the emergence of a new dominant actant that every other actant must contend with.

From this perspective, The Kingdom and the Glory represents a crucial turning point in Agamben’s project, deepening his account of Western theologico-political structures by beginning to work out how the logic of sovereignty is deployed and transformed in order to penetrate the fine-grained textures of everyday life. In place of the easily delimitable “state of exception” where the sovereign suspends the law in order to save it, we are directed toward the workaday realities of flexible management.
Though it is perhaps surprising that he derives this logic from the Christian theological tradition, it appears in retrospect that many of his key points were more or less hiding in plain sight. For instance, who could deny, after reading Agamben’s account, that Adam Smith’s infamous “invisible hand” is modelled on theological accounts of divine providence? 

It is a bit of a mystery why Panditji called his theory Integral Humanism in English. Not many of his articles really concentrate on “humanist” aspect. On the contrary they concentrate more on “national character” and the role of “individual character” in it… Deendayal Upadhyaya Institute has been doing some fabulous ground work, especially with the Chitrakoot project. However, unfortunately, there has not been much of intellectual activity from the institute… We need to reestablish The Integral Approach as the core of the right in India.  

In ancient times, the world was invested with spirit everywhere, in all things. Sri Aurobindo describes it thus: “Ancient belief…saw a soul, a living godhead everywhere in the animate and in the inanimate and nothing was to its view void of a spiritual existence.”
The development of the logical mind and its focus on dividing, classifying and simplifying through trenchant separation rejected this view of life. It does not mean, however, that this is the final answer to the question. Sri Aurobindo describes a process of development that is one unified continuum, and this implies that soul exists, in some form, not only in the human and the animal existence, but even in the earlier, more primitive forms of life…
Further work with crystals and minerals has even begun to uncover the responsiveness that Sri Aurobindo has posited in the world of material forms. One consciousness, one existence, in a unity that spans from the most inconscient Matter to the heights of Spirit, implies that there is a continuum and our attempt to divide and classify and separate is an artificial mental construct but not an essential underlying Reality of the manifested universe. We find that the ancient view of inclusion has more ultimate truth in it that the modern view of fragmentation. 

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