The Constitution’s guarantee of equality “must at the very least mean that a bare congressional desire to harm a politically unpopular group cannot” justify disparate
treatment of that group. Department of Agriculture v. Moreno, 413
U. S. 528, 534–535. DOMA cannot survive under these principles.
Its unusual deviation from the tradition of recognizing and accepting
state definitions of marriage operates to deprive same-sex couples of
the benefits and responsibilities that come with federal recognition of
their marriages. This is strong evidence of a law having the purpose
and effect of disapproval of a class recognized and protected by state
Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
i am still offline to some degree, dissertating… but would like to invite any and all who have stopped here to read at anytime to visit & take part in one of my recent collaborative projects: w5ran.com
W5RAn is an indie show & tell changing every hour on the hour… and we’re hoping you’d like to participate.
photography, words, images – anything from cell phone grabs of grocery lists to elaborate poetry will be welcomed.
so come, look and see… set us as your homepage to get the best out of our hourly rotation while you warm up and work up to sending us anything and everything you’d like to show and/or tell…
see you soon, then…
nietzsche walked there. though i don’t pretend…
butler, haraway, zizek, badiou, ranciere, hardt, hammacher, fynsk, agamben and
avital walk there. and i do look forward.
if i don’t come back,
it’s hard to leave
the hole-y land.
i am off to switzerland, to EGS, this week.
i will be back near the end of august, if not between.
today i am again reading derrida on husserl
it sounds like zizek.
it could have been the evening. i’ve been meeting weekly over dinner with a very interesting group of people who are thinking and talking and aiming toward sustainability and there is no easy way to ease into the way, tonight, it felt like church. small groups really. the kind that meet in houses, the kind that evangelicalism loves to foster…
either that or an AA meeting.
which is not to say i didn’t enjoy it. that i won’t go back or that somehow all those lose ends and addictions didn’t look just like mine.
at least part of what is at work in groups like these is a new way of filling the community forming gap that has long been bridged by churches, nuclear family models, arts organizations, schools. but today, pick your community-building institution of choice and you will find it either struggling, obsolete, oppressive or bankrupt.
enter sustainability. the movement steps into all the shoes we thought we’d lost… it is, as you’ve heard me rant before, what zizek calls the next utopian movement, the next opiate for the masses.
but if we stop there, we’re just recycling.
what struck me as new tonight was the arrival of derrida and husserl to this same bread-baking table. the convergence looks, loosely, like this:
in an early text on Husserl (1967), Derrida works out the ways in which presentation is always re-presentation. in other words, Husserl hung more than a robe on the separation of what we might (liberally) term church and state. but that is getting way ahead.
sticking slowly with Derrida, Speech and Phenomena outlines the way in which Husserl invokes two arguments related to inward speech, (think: the conversations you have with yourself in the shower, or on your way to work that occur entirely ‘in your head’ like: “today i’ll try to eat lunch before three” or “i really should have taken out the trash,”). The first is that inward speech is imaginary and representational, rather than communicative or indicating. The second states that self-communication is useless and redundant as the self is immediately present to itself and thus needs nothing spoken to it.
While Derrida uses page after page to do so with more skill and care than i can here apply, the work being done in unmasking logocentrism begins by outlining the implicit assumptions above inward speech to show that by the nature of the sign/signification itself, presentation is always representation. The same move is made with regard to the implicit speech/writing distinction Husserl rely’s on, defaulting while also pulling at the tradition. At issue in both moves is an understanding of presence that Derrida is about to derail. Looking back to Saussure for the switch, Derrida writes:
Phonic signs (“acoustical images” in Saussure’s sense, or the phenomenological voice) are heard [entendus = “heard” and also “understood”] by the subject who proffers them in the absolute proximity of their present. The subject does not have to pass forth beyond himself to be immediately affected by his expressive activity. My words are “alive” because they seem not to leave me: not to fall outside me, outside my breath, at a visable distance; not to cease to belong to me, to be at my disposition “without further props.” Derrida, speech and phenomena
Of course the false unity of self-presence is what Derrida goes into and after by showing, in the paragraphs to follow the quote above, that both writing and signification, presume and function via distance, repetition and even death. Derrida actually works this connection out first by explaining the way in which signification, language really operates via 1) repetition and 2) difference. in other words, as we’ve examined in past posts, in order for the sign ‘woman’ to be recognizable over time and when assigned/applied to different women, the word ‘woman’ must be repeatable – i.e., not tied to or used up when applied to an absolute singularity or particularity, and also, it must be able to sign over difference, over change – as one woman is short and 35 years old with brown hair, speaking chinese, another will be tall and 58 years old, bald from chemotherapy, speaking english and yet we can still call each a woman. as the sign ‘woman’ is transported and translated from one usage to the next, it is a repetition of itself that always carries difference within it. language itself is the function of this repetition of difference, spoken, written or other-wise, pure presence or as Husserl calls it, ideality, is a myth.
this is moving way too quickly, once again, but as i’m not the first to explicate Speech and Phenomena, or supplementarity/differance/iterability as this movement of difference and repetition is later termed in the Derridian corpus, i will ask you to forgive the rapidity and turn to the source material for greater depth and adequate slowness. save that,
we are back to zizek.
or zizek is still with derrida.
Derrida’s work on logocentrism is an unmasking of the fallible phallus of presence. zizek, by the same token, via kant, takes a similar course of action in his work on/against/up/through Christianity. claiming to be always more christian than the christians Zizek takes the death of jesus to be the death of god. the fallibility of the phallus/master signifier revealed. for Zizek, it is only at the full frontal stop this death should issue that christians can in fact be christian at all as it is this death that loses people to institute their own laws, states, etc that are not already pure extensions of the masterful godhead. it is only then that morality has any meaning as it is a series of self-made rules we agree to hold holy, rather than the actual dictate and ontological reality of life as we know it, to which there would be no choice, no following, only rote remote control robotics.
combining these two, or rather, recognizing where Derrida and Zizek are (oddly and yes, you will hear Zizek protest loudly over this!) on the same page: it is death, it is writing, it is presence that fails that allows difference to emerge. that allows for volition, that allows for political action, that allows for self-forming communities.
while we have been 40 years now with the philosophical/textual implications of this differance, we are only now beginning to see the movement of deconstruction or, if you prefer zizek’s terms, christianity in his radicalized sense, insitu, in operation in lives, objects, networks…
groups like the one i just came from are part of this work. sustainability is a part of this working through. inopperative communities without master signifiers, without hierarchy but not without imperatives, hopes, political possibilities and activated actors. it is a series of works in progress, experiments in ‘unworking’ that we are living in a post-institutional era of institution building.
at least that, amongst other things…
if you haven’t seen it, and you haven’t read The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan, i recommend it about an hour after eating. that it begins with a very clever convergence of the opening credits with standard supermarket signage still gives me pause. (should that let me know upfront that the directors, writers and producers are aware that this film is as prepackaged as the tyson chicken they expose..? is this their way of telling the viewer they are on board with the stonyfield model of becoming goliath? and if so, kudos for consistency in/on labeling…) that it is heavy handed and a bit condescending toward the viewer strikes me as problematic… but all that aside, that it ends with ‘what can we do’ suggestions is what, in more ways than one, i hope to ‘take-out’ from food, inc.
that and the philosophy as docudrama correspondence, though that may have to wait as for now i’m going to let this chicken grow to term without antibiotics, without growth hormones, i.e. slowly…
and see what may or may not develop in the place of over-ripe breasts.
part 2 of Avital’s whirlwind tour through and across Parisian media this month – published in May, 2009 with liberation.fr
Il paraît que la philosophie connaît un regain d’intérêt. Perceptible est la nostalgie des grands maîtres et des «grands récits». On veut des réponses, TF1 appelle cela la «quête de sens». Mais que sait-on de ceux qui font profession de philosopher, de travailler les concepts, d’étudier les textes, de faire et défaire des hypothèses ? Derrière le vernis des hommages, il se pourrait que l’atavique suspicion perdure. «Même avec des collègues de l’université, raconte Avital Ronell,quand je me mets à parler d’Homère, on me dit : “Tu nous ennuies. Homère, c’est pas cool, pas queer !” C’est tellement décourageant.» Dieu que la philosophie serait jolie sans ces pinailleurs de philosophes.
Avital Ronell, 57 ans, figure majeure de la philosophie américaine, est jusqu’à la fin juin l’invitée d’un cycle de conférences au centre Pompidou. Traduite dans de nombreux pays, amie des plus grands – elle tiendra à la rentrée un séminaire commun avec le néo-marxiste Slavoj Zizek et la féministe Judith Butler lui consacre son prochain livre -, elle a été découverte en France avec Telephone Book, enquête fiévreuse sur la signification philosophique du téléphone, qui commence par le coup de fil que Heidegger reçut en 1933 d’un dignitaire SA, qui marqua le début de son engagement nazi. Le philosophe de «l’appel de la conscience» incapable de résister à un appel téléphonique, voilà le genre de vertige qui attire irrésistiblement Ronell. Inutile de dire que Telephone Bookn’apporte pas de réponse.
A première vue, Avital Ronell a tout de l’universitaire de gauche tel que le roman anglo-saxon a pris l’habitude de le ridiculiser. Elle pratique le yoga, ce qui l’apaise. Ecrit le matin, enseigne à la prestigieuse New York University (NYU), habite sur Washington Square, au cœur du Village. S’habille «post-punk», vit seule «avec ses fantômes». Déplore le machisme français et défend la manière américaine de prendre la sexualité comme un moyen de se rendre heureux. Cuisine bénévolement pour les malades du sida. Quelques indices, pourtant, ne cadrent pas avec le stéréotype. Ainsi, l’espièglerie, quand, à propos des dates qui résument sa vie (ci-dessus), elle propose d’ajouter «l’année où je serai impératrice du monde». Ou le besoin de se mettre en danger, comme si, à chaque instant, il fallait qu’elle détricote et retricote ce qu’elle est : avant d’être recrutée à la NYU, elle avait été virée de deux universités, à cause de son look et de sa façon d’enseigner. Et encore sa manie, à contre-époque, d’exprimer sa gratitude, en commençant par Derrida, dont elle coanima le séminaire américain.
Pour le dire autrement : chez Avital Ronell, la philosophie n’est ni une science ni une sagesse, mais une affaire de survie psychique. «Idéalement, un philosophe doit savoir se détacher : un scepticisme sain, distant, qui n’a pas besoin de sa dose. Moi, j’ai un besoin archaïque de la philosophie, dont j’ai un peu honte. J’ai l’impression que cela m’expose trop. Vivre comme Socrate ou Nietzsche de nos jours serait tabou. Un temps, j’ai eu envie faire mes cours au milieu de la foule, à la gare routière de New York par exemple. Mais on m’enfermerait comme folle. A la fac, je suis protégée.» De cette tradition, elle a gardé le corps à corps : empoigner le monde, se saisir des objets «les plus méprisés» (la télé, la bêtise, les tests), les convertir en concepts, bien agiter.
Ce qui donne, à propos du sida : «Ce n’est pas une punition tombée du ciel ; c’est quelque chose qui est créé, un effet de la technologie, qui s’adresse à l’homme, à nos villes…» Sur l’addiction : «Les drogues sont le nom de l’exposition de notre modernité à l’incomplétion de la jouissance» (in Addict).Sur la télévision : «[Elle] s’installe après un traumatisme historique précis, une catastrophe néanmoins irreprésentable, la Shoah […]. Dans presque chaque histoire à la télé, il s’agit d’un meurtre, mais d’un meurtre résolu. Les choses reprennent leur place, le scandale s’efface […]. La télévision pose la question de la violence et de la force» (in American Philo). Partout, Ronell cherche cette imbrication de la vie et de la mort qu’en philosophie, on appelle «l’être».
Pas besoin d’être phénoménologue pour y voir l’effet d’une histoire hors du commun. Allemands, juifs, issus de la grande bourgeoisie berlinoise, ses parents sont partis en Palestine avant la guerre. Max Brod, l’écrivain et ami de Kafka, transporte leurs lettres d’amour lorsque la mère d’Avital retourne en Suisse. Auparavant, celle-ci a été la secrétaire de Ben Gourion, licenciée parce qu’au cours d’une réunion où était évoqué la nécessité de bouter les Arabes hors de territoires qui reviendraient à Israël, elle s’est exclamée: «Mais c’est immoral !»Quand Avital naît, ses parents sont diplomates, en poste à Prague. En 1956, ils n’en peuvent plus, quittent Israël et reprennent leur vie à zéro, en Amérique, au prix d’une chute sociale tragique et d’un rapport survolté à la judéïté.
Berlin, Tel Aviv et New York forment un triangle dont elle dit : «Il n’y avait pas de place pour moi.» Les Etats-Unis ? «Je ne m’y suis jamais sentie bien accueillie, ni par les institutions, ni par les gens, ni par la culture. C’est en lisant Derrida que j’ai pu comprendre les opérations d’exclusion, pourquoi elles sont nécessaires, qui les commande, qui en bénéficie. Ça m’a donné l’espoir de trouver une place.» Israël ? «Le premier mot en hébreu que j’ai appris, c’est “nazi”.» Aujourd’hui, son nom figure sur la liste noire des juifs antisionistes (ce qu’elle n’est pas). Mais son cauchemar préféré reste l’Allemagne, à laquelle, quel que soit le sujet, ses pensées ne cessent de la ramener : «Je ne peux pas me retenir, il faut que je frappe. Pour ne pas cacher le traumatisme.»Spécialiste de philosophie allemande, elle est souvent, dans les colloques sur Heidegger, «la seule femme juive», ce qui en agace plus d’un.«La culture allemande reste responsable de la grammaire guerrière de l’Amérique : voyez Wagner dans Apocalypse Now ou Schwarzenegger. La question est : quels sont les trajets souterrains, les transmissions fantômes, les cellules dormantes ?»
Lorsqu’elle rencontre Derrida, celui-ci vient d’écrire que la métaphysique n’existe pas. Il lui demande son nom, elle répond : «Comment, tu ne me reconnais pas ? Pourtant, tu m’as offensée.» Etonné, Derrida insiste et Avital Ronell s’emporte : «Je suis la Métaphysique ! Et tu as dit que je n’existe pas !»«La Métaphysique», ça lui est resté comme nickname (surnom) pendant une dizaine d’années et ça lui va bien. Car, de fait, qu’est-ce que philosopher, sinon chercher ce qui n’existe pas : la vérité ? Ou, autre définition possible,«espionner, se promener sur les lieux ennemis, où l’on n’est pas bienvenu. C’est ma spécialité, comme une responsabilité qui m’incomberait.» Mission impossible, bien sûr (le feuilleton lui a inspiré quelques pages), mais qui clôt le débat sur la quête de sens : chez cette Américaine, la pensée est une frénésie insensée. «Heidegger dit que nous courons après quelque chose qui se retire de nous.»
Avital Ronell se présente aussi en DJ qui mixerait les concepts et l’argot new-yorkais. Ou encore en standardiste des grands philosophes : «Je les mets en contact avec leur propre avenir. Je suis sûre qu’Aristote aurait écrit Telephone Book.» Son directeur de thèse l’avait prévenue : les Allemands ne comprendront jamais sa façon d’écrire ; les Américains resteront hermétiques à son contenu ; seul espoir, disait-il, les Français. On verra ce mois-ci.
Difference and Repetition
I am reading this, these, books again and to aid memory, (short circuit thinking?) I am throwing a few notes out here, below.
“repetition is not generality” Introduction, page 1, line 1
an interesting negative start. an inverted heideggerian beginning? rather than following a path only to say ‘ah, but we know better…’ deleuze gives it all away up front. this is work of/on specificity. Singularity.
“to repeat is to behave in a certain manner, but in relation to something unique or singular which has no equal or equivalent.” Introduction, page 1
whether this book is about the business of undoing umbrella terminology in its most insipid appearances or otherwise, whatever was at stake for deleuze, the text makes at least one thing clear: repetition is not generality. what it is, what it might be is a behavior. a certain behavior. and not inconsequentially, repetition is a relation. we can think this relation in human terms, mathematical terms or via language… this is only a start to suggestions, certainly not a sufficient list. difference and repetition moves straight away to poetry:
“the repetition of a work of art is like a singularity without concept, and it is not by chance that a poem must be learned by heart. the head is the organ of exchange, but the heart is the amorous organ of repetition” Introduction, pages 1-2
singularity without concept. behavior with-out habit. recognition without resemblance. as jouissance for no one, each movement, each repetition is the appearing of something different. point being: there is no big Other, no entitler of meaning here. repetition is the appearing of the impossible in that no two things, outside of representation (or rather beneath it’s heavy burden) are ever truly repeated.
how (or rather when) to say that we are treading shared and un-common turf? clearly we are in the domain of derrida’s work on iterability, on differance, yet as difference makes clear we are never in a recurrence of the same. Something shifts. More on this to come…
for now, then, on to law. if generality ‘belongs to the order of the law’ and “Law unites the change of the water with the permanence of the river”… law, meaning, signification are always blanket terms. false in their generalizing blindness, but true in their adopted effects. law, whatever definition you give to it, requires the illusion of constancy. it requires times and places of equivalence wherein dictums can be applied and reapplied across circumstances, spectrums and specificities.
“if repetition is possible it is due to miracle, not to law” introduction, page 2
how to think the miracle and why to think miracle when thinking repetition?
if miracles are ever the question or the problem, they are so in their understood nomination as law breakers. outlaws. that or those that do not abide by the laws of the land. is repetition then, on the side of the outlaws, as that which broaches and breaks the boundaries instilled by law? yet the quote above does not draw an equivalence between repetition and miracle, it implies, instead something like debt: “if repetition is possible it is due to miracle”. what evolves in thinking repetition as indebted, (due to), miracle when thinking miracle as rigorously out-law?
or rather, what devolves? from lacan’s master signifier to althusser and judith butler on the interpellated subject (see past post), what the miracle undresses and will not underwrite is the subject derived by law – paternal, moral or natural.
“if repetition is possible, it is as much opposed to moral law as it is to natural law.” page 5
law as stabilizer, law as guarantor on the debt imbued subject, none of these make their appearance in the court(ing) of repetition. because equality loses its terms, its definition, when no two things are equal. when difference is and is all there is. which is not to say that deleuze’s worlds are entirely groundless. he is a structuralist, after (and in it) all.
 Given by Sagi Cohen, read with John Cochran: the title belongs to all and none.
though it may sound like heresy,
(nod, wink and yes, think the intro to G.K. Chesterton’s book Heretics)
i’d like to think Heidegger’s work on the temporality of spatiality in Paragraph 70 of Being and Time via Google Maps. on an iphone. in nyc.
no use arguing for life in the provinces, here… or then again, without further ado:
70. The Temporality of the Spatiality that is Characteristic of Dasein
We must now make an existential-analytical inquiry as to the temporal conditions, for the possibility of the spatiality that is characteristic of Dasein – the spatiality upon which in turn is founded the uncovering of space within-the-world. We must first remember in what way Dasein is spatial. Dasein can be spatial only as care, in the sense of existing as factically falling. Negatively this means that Dasein is never present-at-hand in space, not even proximally. Dasein does not fill up a bit of space as a Real Thing or item of equipment would, so that the boundaries dividing it from the surrounding space would themselves just define that space spatially. Dasein takes space in; this is to be understood literally. It is by no means just present-at-hand in a bit of space which its body fills up. In existing, it has already made room for its own leeway. (p. 419 of Being and Time translated by Macquarrie & Robinson)
it’s a quick easy leap, i admit. but it goes like this:
imagine yourself coming up out of one of new york’s many subway stations. you’re headed to see a show, or perhaps meeting a friend at a bar or bookstore you’ve not been to before… whatever your destination, the point is you are going somewhere and you need to figure out how to get there. you, like all good soon-to-be-directionally-challenged city dwellers, turn to google maps, courtesy of the iphone in your pocket.
if you’ve done this before, you’ll remember that when the phone is still down in the subway station, and even when you are clearly above ground, there is often a few second’s delay between the moment when you, the little blue glowing orb, appear onscreen and the time when the map fills in around you. in those moments it is you as blue orb on a grey field. you might say dasein is in the process of worlding, in fact. yet, as the map fills in, the world worlds and you, Dasein, are temporalizing space in the simple act of reading the map in hand. because you aren’t just thinking space. you are looking at city blocks, blocks that break up the landscape, or rather, that compose the landscape… and with composition comes cadence, comes tempo, comes time: as you think ‘each block is how many minutes away from the bar?’ you are temporalizing spatiality as the blocks spatialize temporality.
so far… well,
not so good: there is a serious flaw in this google maps argument, but until we get to it, we can cheat and imagine that it is in the above way that, ‘literally’ as Heidegger inveighs, “Dasein takes space in… In existing, it has already made room for its own leeway.”
As Simon Critchley pointed out during his lecture on this section of Being and Time, the word leeway above is translated from the german word for something like ‘play space’. whether we think play space as Lacan’s chess board or simply as a child would think a sand box, the very problem with the google maps example above is that Heidegger directly resists representational modes and separations such as I have set up by linking you, the recent subway exitee and soon-to-be walker, with a blue dot on a handheld screen. rather than opening into and becoming play space via Dasein’s world worlding, the iphone gives us a picture of that process which is necessarily and detrimentally stilting and reifying. Picking up with Heidegger mid-thought:
To be able to say that Dasien is present-at-hand at a position in space, we must first take [auffassen] this entity in a way which is ontologically inappropriate. Nor does the distinction between the ‘spatiality’ of an extended Thing and that of Dasein lie in the fact that Dasein knows about space; for taking space in [das Raum-einnehmen] is so far from identcal with a ‘representing’ of the spatial, that it is presupposed by it instead.
the problem with my google map analogy is thus clear: the knowing holder of the iphone, standing above an appearing map is precisely the errant present-at-hand and ‘knowing’ entity Heidegger is working to explain around and away. in order for the google map analogy to work, you would in fact have to be the blue dot.
and that is, oddly, easy enough.
if you had left your phone behind, if you had never taken it from your pocket to begin with, if you had simply mounted the subway stairs and come out street level, you would have the same experience. the city opens up around you, the sidewalk sections, the blocks, the buildings all create spatial cadence and tempo and there you are, Dasein, ‘taking space in’ and ‘breaking into space’.
despite Heidegger’s thieving language here (what’s with all the breaking and taking…?) this doesn’t mean that technology is the enemy. as i began with Chesterton, and as Critchley articulated in his lecture on the above paragraph in Heidegger when he said there are at least two ways to read Heidegger on technology, we might agree that heresy is the true domain of the hipster, or rather, now, post-luther, simply that which is a cool re-instating of the orthodox.
now, if i could find an iphone app to quickly orient us all through heidegger’s relationship to orthodoxy, well then, that might truly be time and space worth mapping.