Sophokles “Kuningas Oidipus”

February 12, 2021 Leave a comment

Sophokles 2006. Kuningas Oidipus. Tlk Ain Kaalep, Ülo Torpats. Tallinn: Avita.

Esimene episood

345

Oidipus

Ja tõesti raev mu haarab! Ütlemata nüüd

 ei saa ma jätta, mis ma taipan, sest ma näen:

kaassüüdlaseks peab selles teos ju loetama

ka sind! Ei läinud enda käega tapma sa,

ent kui näeksid, teoski süüdistaksin sind!

350

Teiresias

Tõemeeli?… Nõuan, et sa täpselt jälgima

pead käsku, mille andsid: nüüdsest peale sul

on minu ja nende poole keeldud pöörduda,

sest selle maa su enda roim on reostanud!

Oidipus

Mis jõhkrus sellist mulle näkku paisata!

355 Kus loodad veel sa leida pääsu endale?

Teiresias

Ma pääsin ju – mu jõud on tões ja õiguses.

Oidipus

Kust said sa õppust? Enda kunstist mitte küll!

Teiresias

Su enda käest, sest sundisid mind rääkima.

Oidipus

Mis rääkisid sa? Korda, et ma taipaksin!

360

Teiresias

Kas sa ei mõistnud? Või mu juttu endas vaed?

Oidipus

Ei mõistnud pooli asju. Teistkord ütle veel!

Teiresias

Siis tea: sa enda leiad tapjat otsides.

Oidipus

Kaks korda ei see teotus nuhtlemata jää!

Teiresias

Kas ihkad, et veel rohkem süttiks raev su sees?

365

Oidipus

Las tulla kõik need tühjad jutud korraga!

Teiresias

Ma ütlen siis veel sulle: hirmsat pattu teed

sa teadmatult: sa enda sooga rikud verd.

[…]

Teiresias

Kui võim ka kuulub sulle, siiski õigus on

mul kosta võrdsel kombel, sest mu keel on prii.

410 Ei pea su teenriks end ma, vaid Apolloni;

Kreoni sõltlaskirjas ka ei seis ma.

Ma ütlen: mind sa silmituks küll pilkasid,

kuid enda õnnetust su, nägija silm ei näe.

Kas tea ka, kus ja kelle juures viibid sa?

415 Või kes su ilma kandis? Enda hõimule

nii siin- kui sealmaailmas said sa vaenlaseks!

Kaht ränka needust kannad: isa eest nuhtleb üks

ja teine ema eest. Välja siitmaalt tõukavad

maapakku need sind ning su silm peab kustuma.

420 Kõik kaldad peavad kuulma pea su kaebusi

ja kaigub pea neid kõikidelt Kithaironeilt,

kui kuuled vaid, mis õnnetuste randa sind

siis kandsid soodsad tuuled, kui sa naitusid.

Ka teisi hirmsaid asju sa ei märka veel,

425 mis teevad võrdseks sind su enda lastega.

Kreoni eks siis pilka, teota mindki nüüd

mu jutu eest, kuid saatus ühtki hingelist

ei saada iial hukka julmemalt kui sind!

[…]

Oidipus

Kuis ikka on nii mõistatuslik kõik su jutt!

Teiresias

440 Kes võita saaks sind mõistatuste mõistmisel!

Oidipus

Nüüd pilkad mind. Kuid siiski selles on mu jõud.

Teiresias

Just selle jõuga saatsid enda hukka sa.

[…]

Teiresias

Ma lahkun, andes teada, miks ma saabusin,

su palge ees, su kättemaksu kartmata.

Tea siis, et sa ei peagi kaugelt otsima

450 meest, kelle vastu laususid neid needusi,

sest siin on see, kes surma saatis Laiose.

Veel arvatakse, et on võõrsil sündinud

ta küll, ja siiski selgub: teeba verd ta on.

Ei rõõmu tee see talle: kustub silm ta pea,

455 ta rikkusest saab sandipõlve langema,

maapakku peab ta kepi toega leidma tee.

Pea selgub see, et ta on enda lastele

nii isa kui vend, ja enda ilmakandjale

nii poeg kui mees, et olnud üks on nainegi

tal isaga, kelle tappis. Astu kotta nüüd

ja mõtle järele! Kui sa siiski leiad veel,

et eksisin, siis kiida ennast targemaks!

Kolmas episood

Iokaste

Siis pead sul küll ei maksa murda sellega,

mis sult ma kuulsin. Tõesti võid mind uskuda:

ei oska maa peal mõista endeid ükski hing.

710 Ma selle kohta sulle väikse näite toon.

Ka Laios ükskord ende sai – ei ütle ma,

et Phoiboselt küll otse, vaid ta teenritelt –

ja ütles see, et saatus olla määranud

tal surma leida minu ja enda lapse käest.

715 Kuid räägitakse, et ta tapjaiks olnud ju

on võõrad röövlid kolme maantee risti peal!

Ning lapse, kes veel polnud kolmepäevane,

ta köitis kinni jalge liikmekohtadest

ja laskis heita laane põhja mäestikus.

720 Nii eksis Phoibos siiski, öeldes, et see laps

isamõrvariks kord saab, ja pääsis Laios ka

sest õudusest, et enda poeg ta tapma peab.

Nii ütles küll oraakel, kõik ent tühja läks.

Ei maksa endeist mõelda! Kui on taevasel

725 mõnd asja tarvis, küll ta ilmsiks selle teeb!

Oidipus

[…]

Et vanemad ei saaks teada, läksin vargsi siis

oraakli juurde Delfis. Vastamata kuid

seal Phoibos jättis mulle, hoopis hirmsamat

790 ja õudsemat ta lausus mulle selle eest:

ma emaga heitvat ühte – hõim sest sündivat,

kes kõige rahva silmis jälk on vaadata –

ja isa, kes kord mu soetas, saatvat surma ma.

See kuuldud, kaugel hoida end Kórinthosest

795 ma võtsin nõuks ja taevatähti jälgides

paopaika seal ma otsisin, kus iialgi

ei peaks ma kartma ennustatud teotusi.

Sel teel ma jõudsin sinna siis, kus käskija,

nagu sa praegu ütled, olla hukkunud.

800 Täit tõtt ma räägin sulle, naine! Viibisin

ses paigas just ma, kus on kolme maantee rist,

kui vastu sõitis vanker, veetud traavlitest,

ees paistis käskjalg, istmel – kirjeldatud mees.

Me saime kokku. Püüdsid teelt mind tõrjuda

805 nii vankrijuht kui raukki jõudu pruukides.

Lõin raevuhoogu sattunult ma kutsarit,

kuid siis sel hetkel, kui ma tahtsin mööduda

just vankri kõrvalt, haaras astla pihku rauk

ja kähku täie jõuga lõi mind vastu pead.

810 Kuid kätte maksin selle eest ma kuhjaga:

mu rännusaualt nõnda ränga hoobi sai

ta selga siis, et kukkus vankrist otsemaid.

Ja kõik ma tapsin. Kuis ses võõras raugas on

ja Laioses üks raaski ühtelangevat,

815 siis terves ilmas ükski mees küll õnnetum

pole iial olnud kui ma, neetu taevasist!

Niihästi võõral rahval kui ka linlasil

peavarju mulle anda, tervist öeldagi

on keeldud siis – peab uste alt mind aetama!

820 Ja teised mind ei neednud, vaid mu enda suu.

Ma surnu voodit teotan selle käega siis,

mis kord ta surma saatis – oh mind jälki küll!

Oh ränka teotus, mis mu pakku mõistma peaks,

mis naasta keelaks enda hõimu juurdegi

825 ja sünnimaale, kus on ootel hirmus oht,

et emaga ühte heidan ning saan mõrvariks

ma isale, kes mu soetas ning mind kasvatas!

Ja see, kes arvaks mingi õela vaimu tööks

kõik, mis on juhtunud mulle, ütleks tõesti tõtt.

Teine stasimon

Antistroof II

Jäägu minugi austusest

maailmakeskme ohvripaik,

Olympia ning Abaigi

900 tõesti ilma sootumaks,

kui kõigi silme ette

tõel ei lasta ilmuda.

Oo Zeus, sa kõrgeim kõikidest – kui selleks

ma hüüda sind võin, käskija! –,

905 su palge ees kõik peagi tulgu ilmsiks!

Mis Laios kord

sai oraaklilt kuulda, see

nüüd on naeruks pandud ju,

võetud on Apollonilt auhiilgus ning

910 ei austata taevast!

Kommos

Stroof II

Oidipus

On Apollon see, on Apollon just,

1330 kes nii mind on löönd ja nii piinanud.

Vaid enda käed ent silmad peast mul torkasid.

Mind vaest!

Miks pean nägema veel,

1335 kui ühtki head ei näinud silm mul ennegi!

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Gaston Bachelard “Corrationalism and the problematic”

February 5, 2021 Leave a comment

Bachelard, Gaston 2012. Corrationalism and the problematic. Radical Philosophy 173: 27–32.

Scientific research demands, instead of the parade of universal doubt, the constitution of a problematic. It really starts with a problem, however ill-posed the problem. Once the scientific self is a programme of experiments, the scientific non-self is correspondingly already constructed as a problematic. (27)

[…] a scientific object is only the instructor with respect to a preliminary, to-be-rectified construction, a to-be-consolidated construction. (29)

[…] every experiment on the reality already informed by science is at the same time an experiment on scientific thought. It is this double experiment of applied rationalism that is appropriate for discursively confirming an existence, in the object and in the subject at the same time. (29)

In order to understand the statement of a problem, it is necessary to normalize the neighbouring questions; in other words it is necessary to develop a kind of topology of the problematic. (30)

Patrice Maniglier “What is a problematic?”

February 5, 2021 Leave a comment

Maniglier, Patrice 2012. What is a problematic? Radical Philosophy 173: 21–23.

A ‘problematic’ in this pedagogical sense is not simply a set of questions; it is rather the matrix or the angle from which it will become possible and even necessary to formulate a certain number of precise problems. For instance, if you pick as your essay question ‘What is self-evident?’ (as is perfectly possible in France), your problematic will consist in discovering the philosophical topos that the term alludes to, perhaps opposing formalist and intuitionist approaches in the philosophy of mathematics. Similarly, if you are asked, ‘Does freedom mean doing whatever I like?’, you could oppose individual and social concepts of freedom, or contrast the notion of pleasure with that
of law, or even combine the two in a dialectical order. But the point is always to go from a rough theme or question to a precise problem, which has the form of an alternative between already elaborated or structured options. (21)

First of all, the concept of problematic initiates a critique of the subject–object relation in the explanation of thought in general and of science in particular. To think is not to try to tell the truth about any particular given objects (be these living organisms, things in motion or brains), as if there was a world out there waiting for us to lay our eyes on it; to think is to try to solve specific, singular problems. (21)

Problems cannot take the form of an inquiry about the essence of things (‘what is matter?’, ‘what is life?’, ‘what is X?’); instead they constitute that which makes it important, relevant, critical, to know about X. (21)

there is not, on the one hand, the world, divided into large ontic domains (matter, life, etc.), each one characterized by a certain number of properties or laws that the various disciplines (biology, sociology, etc.) would have to learn about, and on the other hand, the mind, which would try to map this reality and fill in any blanks with the right information; there are only singular problems which simultaneously determine the subject to think and the object to be thought: ‘We must first posit the object as a subject of the problem, and the subject of the cogito as a consciousness of the problem’ (RA 56). (22)

The second important point worth retaining from the Bachelardian concept of problematic is that it is not only (as it might seem in the first instance) a promotion of interrogation over affirmation, as we can find in the Heideggerian hermeneutic tradition for instance. On the contrary, it is meant to oppose notions like ‘wonder’, ‘bewilderment’, ‘curiosity’ and ‘enigma’. To think is indeed to ‘problematize’, but to problematize is not simply to interrogate or to refer to Being as a Question and not as an Object; it is to criticize the questions themselves. (22)

We can call critical a kind of knowledge that does not content itself with filling an already given frame with new items of information, but one that forces the frame itself to be reconfigured. Knowledge is not only an enterprise of acquisition; it is also an exercise in self-transformation. ‘In selfquestioning rationalism [le rationalisme questionnant], the bases for knowledge are themselves put to the test, and brought into question by the question’ (RA 57). (22)

To answer these two questions we simply need to understand that a ‘problematic’ does not involve the substitution of one set of (bad) questions by another set of (good) problems; it is rather an operation on the very substance of our ordinary life, and an operation that is best described as a ‘structuration’. Scientific practices are indeed determined by their relation with ordinary practices, but this relation is negative (dialectical) and progressive (pragmatic). It is negative in the sense that it only consists in diverting and emptying the semantic content of the notions used in our ordinary intelligence of the world, intuitive notions like weight, speed, volume, and so on, through their being redefined in relation to one another. (23)

The problematic is not the theory itself, it is not the set of formulated laws held to govern any particular domain: it is the structure of the theory; that is, the way the different concepts are diverted from their isolated and immediate ordinary semantic sense and redefined in relation to one another. (23)

[…] if we problematize the world, it is neither because the world reveals itself in some enigmatic light, nor because our theories offer different alternative routes of empirical verification, but because our own thought proceeds as a process that structures a set of propositions. The structure is neither given in advance, nor constructed: it is all in the making. (23)

Martin Savransky “Problems all the way down”

February 1, 2021 Leave a comment

Savransky, Martin 2020. Problems all the way down. Theory, Culture & Society 0(0): 1–21. https://doi.org/10.1177/0263276420966389

[…] for Bachelard, the activity of science is not best conceptualised by the relations between subject and object, knower and known, and it needs no appeal to ‘the bravado of universal doubt’ (Bachelard, 1949: 51). Instead, it is characterised by the manner in which both subjects and objects become assembled in relation to a problematic which demands to be constructed and whose articulation as a problem in turn distributes their relative values and positions – the scientific object becoming a subject of a problem, and the subject or knower becoming its consciousness (Bachelard, 1949: 56). Thus, the primary concern of science, according to Bachelard, is not objects but problems themselves. For more than historical facts resulting from observation, the empirical objects of science are also and above all answers to problems. (5-6)

For a scientific mind, all knowledge is an answer to a question. If there has been no question, there
can be no scientific knowledge. Nothing is self-evident. Nothing is given. Everything is constructed’ (Bachelard, 2002: 25). (6)

For as Patrice Maniglier (this issue) argues in his discussion of Bachelard and the problematic, the latter’s reconfiguration of problems as the very vectors that institute the correlation between subject and object implies that neither the world nor the mind precedes problems, but that it is the problems that determine, simultaneously, the objects and the modes of thought. As a result, Maniglier provocatively suggests that rather than treating problems as obstacles to be overcome, the question itself must change, and we must ask in what way one may come to desire one’s problems. (6)

One cannot respond to a problem one has not learned how to pose. And to proceed as if problems were given ready-made, as if they took after jigsaw puzzles and the task before one was merely to arrange the received pieces so as to reveal their prefigured design, is to constantly be in danger of entertaining what, before Dewey and Bachelard, Henri Bergson (2007) would have called ‘false problems’: not problems that are insoluble, but ones that are badly composed, born of a confusion between different orders of reality. (7)

[…] the Herculean image of problems as ready-made obstacles to be overcome is itself the case of a
false problem which presupposes the unproblematic as norm and the problem as anomaly, and therefore assumes that all that is required is precisely the restoration of the norm in the face of its temporary unravelling. (8)

Rather than the problematic situation being less than its eventual state of resolution, therefore, the becoming-problematic of a situation always involves an excess, the unruly insistence of a generative otherwise which introduces an opening and precipitates its possible metamorphosis. Insofar as the problematic insists on the edges of the present, insofar as it calls upon the attention and demands a response without ever saying what that response should be, it is not the solving but the posing of the problem, the very dynamic of invention devoted to the possibility of posing the problem ‘well’, that itself becomes the most vital element in any response. (8)

Whereas the Herculean image would render the relationship between the living being and its milieu into a battle to be won by turning life into an object of investigation, knowledge, and determination, it is the problems posed by life itself, in other words, that precipitate the genesis of the living as such. And they do so precisely insofar as ‘the living being solves problems not only by adaptation, that is, by modifying its relation to its milieu (as a machine can), but by modifying itself, by inventing new external structures, by inserting itself completely in the axiomatic of vital problems’ (Simondon, 2005: 28; emphasis added). (10)

Indeed, what according to Simondon renders the living being singularly problematic is precisely that it retains, within its own individuated being, an active remnant of pre-individuated potential, such that every vital individuation simultaneously involves ‘an interior problematic and its involvement as an element in a problematic greater than its own being’ (Simondon, 2005: 29). Unlike physical individuations, living beings are self-problematising and perpetually problematic. For they are never completely individuated, and as such never constitute final solutions to the problems that brought them into being and that make them go on living. The living individual is more-than-one, and problems insist and persist in the solutions that living beings become, keeping them in the hold of an ongoing and unfinished process of problematisation and individuation with regard to their associated milieu, confronted with tensions and incompatibilities emerging in their relation, and resolving them by virtue of the invention of new functions. (11)

But what distinguishes Deleuze’s (1994a: 140) own version is precisely his gesture of granting to the problematic the character of an insistent, generative virtuality, which is neither recognisable nor representable, but which is sensed and as such ‘moves the soul, ‘‘perplexes’’ it – in other words, forces it to pose a problem’. Which is why, when Deleuze writes that the problematic corresponds to the objectivity of Ideas – or indeed that they are Ideas – it is not because it is merely cognitive or ideational, but because Ideas are real, even when they may not be actual. In other words, it is because “[s]omething in the world forces us to think. This something is an object not of recognition but of a fundamental encounter. What is encountered may be Socrates, a temple or a demon. It may be grasped in a range of affective tones: wonder, love, hatred, suffering. In whichever tone, its primary characteristic is that it can only be sensed.” (1994a: 139) (14-15)

It is this object of an encounter, this sensible something in the world, which is the genesis – rather than the object – of both thinker and thought, forcing thought to invent a manner of posing problems through ‘acts of constitution and investment in their respective symbolic fields’ (1994a: 159). Indeed, it is thanks to the generativity of the problematic that an ‘I’ is born to think at all. (15)

Indeed, to affirm that problems do not exist in our heads but occur in the historical production of an actual world, that they are genetic forces for worlds in the making, is to make present that the sensible encounter happens not in or with thought but with an outside thoroughly populated by differences and events. (15)

This is why Deleuze (1994b: 64) would say that the ‘mode of the event is the problematic. One must not say that there are problematic events, but that events bear exclusively upon problems and define their conditions. [. . .] The event by itself is problematic and problematizing.’ The event is problematic because it introduces an opening, a difference between a before and an after, yet it does not determine what that difference will be to the futures it engenders. (16)

Bruno Latour “‘What’s the story?’ Organizing as a mode of existence”

January 25, 2021 Leave a comment

Latour, Bruno 2012. “What’s the story?” Organizing as a mode of existence. In: Passoth, Jan-Hendrik; Peuker, Birgit; Schillmeier, Michael (eds.). Agency without Actors: New Approaches to Collective Action. London; New York: Routledge, 163–177.

There is such a hiatus, such a gap in between time t–1, time t (the reference point of the present) and time t+1 (tomorrow) that we are meeting in order to carry the school one step further, beyond the gap, beyond the hiatus. It won’t go by itself. It won’t jump the gap by the force of its own inertia. Contrary to celestial bodies, there is no inertia at all in an organization. You stop carrying it on: it drops dead. As Garfinkel has shown so well, you have to achieve it, so that it goes to what he marvelously called “the next first time” – it repeats itself until the next time, which is always the first time (Garfinkel 2002). Repetition, in other words, is never repetitive (Butler 2009 [1878]). (166)

[…] in the thick of being an organizer, it is utterly impossible to distinguish organization and disorganization. There is no way to make a distinction between being organized and being disorganized, or between being well organized and badly organized – which has no meaning for those who are in the middle of it. The state of crisis where you catch up and patch up one crisis after the other is the normal state of affairs […]. (167)

[…] we could say that to organize is always to reorganize. The little prefix “re” is there to remind us of the gap that is always yawning (or smiling) at us between time t and time t+1 and that no momentum will ever allow us to cross without pain. There is the same difference between organizing and reorganizing as between “the first time” and “the next time”. (168)

A description should be careful to avoid the false transcendence of super-organism, but just as careful to avoid ignoring that tiny little transcendence, that little cleft through which any organization should, so to speak, gain its subsistence. To act organizationally (horrible word I know) is to situate oneself at this growth point: that is where the obstacle lies over which the horse should learn to jump. Either you recognize it and you act as an organizer or you don’t and then you simply talk “about” an organization. (168)

There may be no real difference between organization and disorganization – contradictory scripts come to maturity at any time and in any shape – but there is a huge difference between taking up again the task of organizing and ceasing to do so: in this case the institution dissolves for good. No substance will come to its rescue. As to the essence, it will fade away. (168)

[…] organizations possess an original mode of existence – a term I use to point out the various types of agencies that circulate in the multiverse (James 1996 [1909]). (168)

Essence is the consequence and not the cause of duration. Thus such a risky, fragile, provisional character is not what is so strange in an organization since all entities run the same risk and pay for their continuation in the same small change: namely alterations. Or, to say it in still other words, subsistence is never caused by some underlying substance. (169)

[…] from the point of view of organization practice there is never an inside or an outside, there is never a small and a
big. It is some entirely different puzzle that organizing has to solve, and to solve again and again. It is precisely at this point that we might finally distinguish organizing – as a mode of existence with a specific type of agency – and organizations as what is talked “about” when we stop organizing (using the apt distinction made by Czarniawska between “theories of organization” and “organization theory”). Organizations – the things – are the phantoms that appear when organizing – the mode – disappears. (170)

[…] organizations as things are the spurious image produced by conflating two types of agencies: the political and the organizational modes of existence. Everything happens as if social theory, because it could not differentiate the two, had tried to make sense of an artifact: the whole is apparently superior to its parts because of a suspension of organizing practices. (170)

I hope I have made clearer why this flip-flopping has nothing to do with the right link to be made between “individual actors” and the “structure” of which they are a part. There is no individual to begin with but many different characters inscribed into many contradictory scripts with different deadlines (for instance, the “same” dean may be expected to sit in four meetings at the same time); as to the structure, it is never more than what has been inscribed in the script by various authors (the dean and his secretary meet over the schedule to try to clean their common agenda by rewriting it somewhat). This is precisely why, in organizing, the whole is always smaller than the parts – as long as we are in the act of organizing. It should be clear by now that I am trying to replace the individual versus system dichotomy by another rhythmic variation, the one between residing above or under a script. (171-172)

Whatever the metaphor or the concepts put to work to follow organizations, they remain useless if they don’t manage to register this flip-flopping of positions distributed in time and varied in capacity. In my view, this flip-flopping is not well understood by saying that there exists a dialectical tension between tradition and innovation, order and disorder, actor and system, and so on. As soon as you lose the rhythmic pulsation of the scripts, the spurious after-image of an organization as a whole “inside” which “we” as individuals try to act jumps out at you. (172)

[…] we are never “in” an organization, no matter how “gigantic”: rather, organizational scripts circulate through a set of actors that are either attributed some tasks or are in a momentary state of crisis to re-instruct the scripts with new instructions for themselves or for others. (172)

The creation of a path that links the parts and the whole is a crucial feature of the political regime, what I have called, for this reason, the circle of representation and obedience (Latour 2003). “Are we one or many? Is the whole more than the sum of its parts? Should the whole really consist of its constituents?” Those are some of the essential questions for making the Body Politic continue its existence for one more turn. (173)

That the two processes can be distinguished may be exemplified by the small crisis that made us bow to the bust of Emile Boutmy. For once, this time, it is not political at all. There is no question inside the board that we are a coherent bunch of co-directors, that we agree on who is the leader, and that we belong to the same ensemble. In brief, we know the assemblage that is designated when we say “we” – “we should”, “we don’t know”, “we have to decide” and so on. And yet, while the composition of the “we” is not in question, we have no idea what we should do! In other words, the political assemblage is not in crisis, while the organization is very much in trouble; proof enough that the two regimes can and should be distinguished. (173-174)

We may thus advance the suggestion that when Durkheim (and so many social scientists after him) had invented the notion of a “society” which is at once what is above us and what we have internalized, he tried to register the organizational mode of existence but had forgotten its peculiar rhythm. When we are “under” scripts, we are not individual actors but are trying to follow the many contradictory characters delegating us to do many different things at once; and when we are “above” scripts, we are simply rewriting highly localized instruments in order to reshuffle characters and deadlines. In other words, the real collective experience is never that of being an individual in a society (Dewey 1954; 1927). Sociologists have taken the notion of organized actions for the whole of the collective (Thévenot 2006). (174)

There is no transcendence (the whole) except this tiny transcendence, namely this tiny gap we managed to overcome this morning in the council room. By contrast with its mystical version – the chimera of the political fused with the organizational whole – this is what I call the secular definition of organization. (175)

To use again Whitehead’s term: what lasts (the essence of the school) is generated by what does not last (the constant work of taking it up again). (175)

Matthew Ellis & Tyler Theus “Is it happening again?”

January 22, 2021 Leave a comment

Ellis, Matthew; Theus, Tyler 2019. Is it happening again? Twin Peaks and ‘The Return’ of history. In: Sanna, Antonio (ed.). Critical Essays on Twin Peaks: The Return, Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, 23–36.

If oedipal relations between children and fathers are invoked—as in the case with Agent Cooper’s doppelgänger Mr. C (both played by Kyle MacLachlan) and Richard Horne (Eamon Farren)—they tend to be relegated to the margins of the overall narrative or generally treated as narrative dead ends. This reading of the new series in terms of a move from the oedipal to the pre-oedipal has the advantage of partially explaining its peculiar narrative logic. No longer concerned with the law of the father and its relation to an obscene, forbidden enjoyment, The Return presents a ‘paranoid-schizoid’ world of phantasmatic relations between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ objects (Klein 1986, pp. 295–296). Accordingly, the narrative is not centered on solving a crime and assigning guilt, but on unambiguously separating good and bad so that the source of persecution can be identified and isolated, if never successfully defeated—something attested to by the frequent representation of eating and vomiting throughout the new series. Cause and effect relationships—even of the non-linear variety—become less important, and characters become much more two-dimensional. (24)

In much the same way that Fire Walk with Me (David Lynch, 1992) ‘returns’ to the scene of Laura Palmer’s (Sheryl Lee) murder to problematize spectators understanding of the original event, The Return presents a story haunted not by the memory of ‘the little girl who lived down the lane,’ but by the ungraspable past where she still resides. (24)

The reference to the pre-oedipal also suggests that implicit in this relation between the two series is a certain conception of history and its narrativization, one that moves forward only to problematize conclusions drawn about its own enigmatic beginnings. (25)

We are told repeatedly throughout the entirety of Twin Peaks that ‘it’ is ‘happening again.’ But is it really happening, again? And beyond the diegetic question about what “it” is, what is the meaning of repetition in this context? The Return asks us to repeat the past with a difference. Whereas the postmodernism emerging in the latter half of the twentieth-century treats the past as a collection of so many reified tropes able to be mined for empty aesthetic purposes, The Return treats its original historical moment as something the meaning of which has to be continuously worked through in the present. If ‘the past determines [35:] the future,’ as the title of the first episode of the two-part finale suggests, it is not in a linear causal way. Rather, it is the past’s own indeterminateness that determines the future. (34-35)

Bruno Latour “An Inquiry into Modes of Existence”

January 14, 2021 Leave a comment

Latour, Bruno 2013. An Inquiry into Modes of Existence: An Anthropology of the Moderns. Cambridge, MA; London: Harvard University Press.

12. Invoking the phantoms of the political

If politics has to be “crooked”, this is first of all because it encounters stakes that oblige it to turn away, to bend, to shift positions. Its path is curved because on each occasion it turns around questions, issues, stakes, things – in the sense of res publica, the public thing – whose surprising consequences leave those who would rather hear nothing about them all mixed up. So many issues, so much politics. Or, in the forceful slogan proposed by Noortje Marres: “No issue, no politics!” It is thus above all because politics is always object-oriented – to borrow a term from information science – that it always seems to elude us. (337)

The political institution has to take into account the cosmology and the physics through which things – the former MATTERS OF FACT that have become MATTERS OF CONCERN – oblige the political to curve around it. (337)

[…] what form of life can bring off the following feat? Start with a multitude that does not know what it wants but that is suffering and complaining; obtain, by a series of radical transformations, a unified representation of that multitude; then, by a dizzying translation/betrayal, invent a version of its pain and grievances from whole cloth; make it a unified version that will be repeated by certain voices, which in turn – the return trip is as least as astonishing as the trip out – will bring it back to the multitude in the form of requirements imposed, orders given, laws passed; requirements, orders, and laws that are now exchanged, translated, transposed, transformed, opposed by the multitude in such diverse ways that they produce a new commotion: complaints defining new grievances, reviving and spelling out new indignation, new consent, new opinions. (341)

What is most magnificent in the political, what makes those who discover its movement shed tears of admiration, is that one has to constantly start over: beginning again with the multitude – perhaps this time more confident, more reassured, more protected – to take up the thread of representation again – perhaps more easily, and more faithfully, too; then go through the unification phase (the millions become one: what a strangling bottleneck!); next – the operation may have become a little less risky thanks to the preceding turn – establish the prescribed order, which may be a little better obeyed (unity becomes [342:] millions: can you imagine the impossibility of this new translation/betrayal?). (341-342)

The best one can hope for is that, by dint of tracing the Circle and starting it over again, beings form habits that make it possible, little by little, to count on a reprise. Each segment feels obliged to act and able to speak in such a way as to avoid interrupting this paradoxical movement [HAB : POL], as if each were preparing to take a position in anticipation of the following stage. When this happens a political culture begins to take shape and gradually makes the maintenance, renewal, and expansion of the Circle less and less painful. DEMOCRACY becomes a habit. Freedom becomes engrained. But things can also turn in the other direction: they can literally “take a turn for the worse”, “turn out badly”; obstacles can accumulate and make it less and less possible, more and more painful, to renew the Circle, the defining exercise of the political. Then it’s over: time indeed to abandon all hope of being represented, of being obeyed, of being safe. (343)

[…] the proof that one is not lying is given by what follows in the curve and by the anticipation, the hope, of its necessary return, its renewal, and its future extension – return and renewal and extension, a reprise that depends entirely on the followers, all along this chain in which the lack of a single one would suffice to make it collapse. (344)

[…] the TRANSCENDENCE of the political; what we are sketching in here by the overly geometric notion of curve that makes it necessary to distribute the little transcendences all along what is becoming a Circle, against the temptation to go straight. It will have become clear by now that everywhere there are only little transcendences. (347)

This definition of the curve also has the advantage of keeping the State of exception from needing an “exceptional man” who would “be decisive” because he would be “above the law”. Schmitt’s error lay in his belief that it is only on high, among the powerful and on rare occasions, that the political mode has to look for exceptions. Look at the Circle: it is exceptional at all points, above and below, on the right and on the left, since it never goes straight and, in addition, it must always start over, especially if it is to spread. This exception is what cuts this mode off from all the other modes that the true political philosophers all have tried to capture. (347-348)

Nietzsche proposed to replace moral exigency with the thought of the Eternal Recurrence: “Act in such a way that you can wish for your action to be repeated eternally”; his readers quaked at the harshness of such a demand. What must we think of the yoke of this maxim: “Speak publicly in such a way that you will be ready to run through the entire circle, coming and going, and to obtain nothing without starting over again, and never to start again without seeking to extend the circle”? If there is such a thing as the dignity of politics, the truth of its enunciation, it lies in its having agreed to put itself to the wheel in this way, to have yoked itself to such a grindstone. (349)

The case of the political mode is actually simple enough: without the Circle, there would be no groupings, no group, no possibility of saying “we”, no collecting, quite simply, and thus no collective, either. All the other modes thrust themselves into being and alteration. This one […], this one alone, comes back to assemble those who otherwise would disperse. This one alone comes full circle. But it comes back through the effect, constantly renewed, of a reprise that has an exhausting aspect, since it cannot, it must not rely on some substance, some form of inertia, for that would amount to substituting a different body for the Circle and thus suspending its own movement. (350)

A body that is not one; harmony that never harmonize; unity that disperses immediately; dispersal that must be reassembled at once; different issues, every time, around which people have to assemble because they don’t understand each other … We have to admit that this Circle, constantly renewed is a pretty odd creature. (351)

Here is the particular alterity that the political extracts from being-as-other, an alternation, an alienation, that no other mode has ever attempted: producing oneness with multiplicity, oneness with all, but doing so phantomatically, provisionally, by a continual reprise and without ever being undergirded by a substance, a durable body, an organism, an organization, an identity. It is for just this reason – Walter Lippmann may be the only person who really got it – that one can respect the ontological dignity of the political mode only by grasping it in the form of a PHANTOM PUBLIC to be invoked and convoked. Neither the public, nor the common, nor the “we” exists; they must be brought into being. If the word PERFORMATION has a meaning, this is it. If there are invisibles that one must take special care not to embody too quickly – for example in the State, that other cold monster – this particular phantom is one of them. (352)

Johannes Fabian “The other revisited”

January 8, 2021 Leave a comment

Fabian, Johannes 2006. The other revisited: Critical afterthoughts. Anthropological Theory 6(2): 139–152.

It is now time for some remarks on Time and the Other (Fabian, 1983 and second edn, 2002b). The aim of the book was not to develop a theoretical concept of the Other (or to give an anthropological twist to a philosophical concept). Nor was the other proposed as a sort of methodological device – as if I had deployed the concept in order to see where it would get me. Though it was a short book it told a complicated story. It is not difficult, however, to state the major points of the argument. The beginning was a simple observation: As a discipline of practices of making and representing knowledge, anthropology is marked by a contradiction. Anthropology has its empirical foundation in ethnographic research, inquiries which even hard-nosed practitioners (the kind who liked to think of their field as a scientific laboratory) carry out as communicative interaction. The sharing of time that such interaction requires demands that ethnographers recognize the people whom they study as their coevals. However – and this is where the contradiction arises – when the same ethnographers represent their knowledge in teaching and writing they do this in terms of a discourse that consistently places those who are talked about in a time other than that of the one who talks. I called the effect of such strategies a ‘denial of coevalness’ and qualified the resulting discourse as ‘allochronic’. (143)

One of the likely misunderstandings of my critique of ‘denial of coevalness’ is that it is an attempt to ‘overcome’ otherness, alterity. (146)

The confusion arises when what I called allochronism is equated with creating alterity (see later). The failure of anthropological discourse has been a failure to recognize the epistemological significance of alterity. Here is a possible way to argue this: Recognizing an other = alius as other = alter is a condition of communication and interaction, hence of participating in social-cultural practices (or whatever sociological categories, from
group to society, apply); or of sharing a Lebenswelt. (147)

When I argue that alterity is constitutive of the project/object of anthropology this could also mean that denial of coevalness is denial of otherness in the Levinasian sense. Without otherness there would not be a problem of coevalness. Like Levinas I probably want to overcome a philosophy of immanence and autonomy, or, as I would prefer to put it, of identity. Except that my target of critique is not so much a philosophy as an ideology of identity. Therefore there is no contradiction when I criticize anthropology for constructing in its allochronic discourse on an other with the help of conceptual and rhetorical devices that deny coevalness to that other. (148)

Dominic Lash “The dangers of getting what you asked for”

January 6, 2021 Leave a comment

Lash, Dominic 2020. The dangers of getting what you asked for: Double time in Twin Peaks: The Return. Open Screens 3(1): 1–26. https://doi.org/10.16995/os.21

It is easy to agree, and to believe that Lynch and Frost would agree, with Pacôme Thiellement’s comment, in one of the two issues of Cahiers du cinéma devoted to The Return, that ‘to try to replay past happiness exactly like before, as the majority of current film production does (superhero films, reboots or remakes), is to freeze the past and seal up the world in a kind of dead non-time which keeps us powerless’ (Thiellement 2017: 11; my translation). But it is nevertheless surprising, particularly given the fantastic dimensions of its narrative, the extent to which The Return insists that time is something real that cannot simply be wished – or conjured
– away. (9)

We confront time’s passage and the irrecoverability of the past in the aging of the actors, reinforced by the fact that many viewers will barely, if at all, have seen any of the original cast onscreen in the intervening years. Dale Cooper has clearly aged twenty-five years, even though he has spent that time trapped in a magical place “between two worlds”; Matt Hills points out that The Return ‘collapses together the extra-diegetic and diegetic passing of time since its original 1990s incarnation’ (Hills 2018: 311). (9)

It is the fact that time’s very determinateness is often impossible to grasp, rather than any supposed discovery of its ‘indeterminateness’, that The Return so frequently and distressingly insists upon; Cooper, after all, announces in episode seventeen that ‘the past dictates the future’ (my emphasis). (10)

We might say, then, that The Return both insists on the reality of death and exploits the resources of film for confusing the boundary between life and death. It is useful in this context to bear in mind two different senses of the word “confusion”. There is both the familiar affective sense (“I’m confused!”) but there is also an older sense that was employed, for example, by Alexander Baumgarten – who has cause to be considered the founder of aesthetics – in the eighteenth century. As Terry Eagleton explains, for Baumgarten confusion ‘means not “muddle” but “fusion”: in their organic interpenetration, the elements of aesthetic representation resist that discrimination into discrete units which is characteristic of conceptual thought’ (Eagleton 1990: 15). (I make use of this distinction extensively in Lash 2020; see pp. 13–17 for an introductory discussion.) Both senses are helpful in coming to terms with the doublings of The Return and the (mis)recognitions they give rise to; our confusion in the first sense, and that of the characters, is frequently prompted by confusions in the second sense; The Return frequently resists ‘discrimination into discrete units’. (11-12)

[…] The Return builds to a similarly intense consternation about when they are, as expressed by Dale Cooper’s
final question, the last words of the entire season: “What year is this?” The Return hints at different possible ways of interpreting its temporality, bewildering in themselves as well as in conjunction. Mike, the one-armed man (Al Strobel) repeatedly asks “Is it future or is it past?” The possibility that “it” is in fact present is conspicuous by its absence, but one possible answer to Mike’s question is that it is neither; “it” is a single moment which can, by definition, be neither future nor past. The ringing sound that intrigues a number of characters in The Return seems to be a stretched out version of the sound the mysterious ring with the owl insignia makes when it falls to the ground, as happens a number of times when characters wearing the ring are sucked into the Black Lodge, their body disappearing but the ring remaining behind in the outside world. Does the elongated sound indicate that the whole season takes place in one such moment? In the climactic scene in the sheriff station in episode seventeen, the clock hovers permanently at 2:53, and after the final defeat of the evil BOB, in one of the simplest and yet most perplexing effects in the whole season, Dale Cooper’s puzzled and distressed face is superimposed over the action for more than three minutes (see Figure 3), in what Britt calls ‘one of The Return’s foremost examples of visual montage reinforcing the theme of “that which is, and is not”’ (Britt 2019: 115). Superimposition becomes literal as the image itself is doubled,
leading to serious difficulties in answering the question of when these things are happening. Is everything in The Return “confused” into a single moment, perhaps the aforementioned moment in the Red Room in which Laura Palmer whispers in Dale Cooper’s ear, to his mounting confusion and distress, in the final image of the season? But we have already seen Ellis and Theus point out that we cannot be sure that this moment is but a single moment. (13)

The Return engages with the most derided of all serial television devices – “it was all a dream” – by pushing it
so far that it empties itself out. What exactly would it explain if we were to learn that the events of Twin Peaks “never really happened”? Did we think that they did? (16)

That Cooper’s entire plan could be misguided is a possibility that is masked by our desperate desire for him to “wake up” from his “Dougie-state”, a desire that is excruciatingly sustained over sixteen out of eighteen episodes. The audience’s energies are thereby aligned with Cooper’s; our desires double his own. On this reading, “What year is it?” might acquire an overlay of savage sarcasm – the answer being: “Not 1991 anymore!” What we most wanted – to have the old Dale Cooper back – turns out to be about the worst possible outcome. What we learn about Cooper parallels what Cooper learns about Laura, that – as the narrator of Proust’s novel puts it – ‘[w]e can sometimes find a person again, but we cannot abolish time’ (Proust 2001: 262). (19)

Jean-Philippe Tessé articulates this interpretation of the conclusion to The Return very well: “Why did Cooper not sense the complete absurdity of such a project? It is because this agent’s chivalric spirit – driven to delirium by the inflexibility of his oaths (to the FBI in the first place) – tends spontaneously towards the ultimate romantic gesture, romanticism being the continuation of the chivalric novel, and then becomes Don Quixotism: his quest, his commitment turns into a remake that is catastrophic, tragic, even pathetic, of the finale of The Searchers, leaving him hunched, impotent, stupid, condemned to wander endlessly in the limbo of time, Ulysses lost forever, without destiny.” (Tessé 2017: 13; my translation) (20)

A further possibility, however, is that Cooper is attempting a ‘catastrophic, tragic, even pathetic’ remake not of The Searchers but of Twin Peaks itself – an impossible remake in which Laura Palmer did not die. (20)

The delicious paradox is that it is by destroying the possibility of a return to Twin Peaks, or of successfully constructing its doppelgänger, that The Return ends up faithful to what was really so remarkable about the original series: its capacity to remain at one and the same time utterly distinctive and perpetually elusive. (22)

Philippe Descola “No politics please”

January 6, 2021 Leave a comment

Descola, Philippe 2005. No politics please. In: Latour, Bruno; Weibel, Peter (eds.). Making Things Public: Atmospheres of Democracy. Karlsruhe: ZKM Center for Art and Media; Cambridge, MA; London: The MIT Press, 54–57.

[…] the only reason the Achuar get together is to wage war. Indeed, it would be unimaginable for them to resolve a dispute except through the use of force, or at least the threat of it. They do not particularly care for one another’s company, either, which is why their houses are scattered throughout the jungle at a distance of many hours’ walk. They have no chiefs to tell them what to do or to encourage them to seek consensus: At the most, they have war-leaders, or “great-men” who are in charge of setting up transient coalitions in times of crisis. The Achuar are not organized into clans nor do they have lineages founded on shared descent, a common way of arranging groups of individuals who have the same interests and a shared identity. In the world of the Achuar, there is no space reserved for mediation, no desire to discuss a common destiny and almost no opportunity to conceive of themselves as a political body extending to the outermost limits of the tribe – to say nothing of national borders. (54)

Factionalism and the enthusiastic practice of feuding shatter any supposedly general will into a plurality of antagonistic particular ambitions. (54-55)

The head of each family is sovereign, and it would be unimaginable for him to submit his interest to a common good. In fact, he would be hard-pressed even to imagine such a common good in the first place. Apart from waging war, opportunities for families to have contact with one another are relatively limited. Of course, they do visit each other – not, however, to establish good relations or to settle a dispute but rather to plan a revenge attack or to demand payment of a debt. The aujmatin ceremonial dialogues that inaugurate these visits attest to their agonistic dimension, even between the closest of relatives. Highly formalized in their delivery and regulated by a strict system of alternating speakers, these dialogues are virtuoso rhetorical performances; the only thing they lack is the intention to persuade. Despite their length, the ritual dialogues of the Achuar are as poor in content as they are rich in stylistic ornamentation. The point of these verbal exchanges is not to swap points of view, to convince each other or negotiate something; rather, they aim to demonstrate the inner strength of each of the interlocutors. The aujmatin dialogue is expressive of the Achuar way of speaking to others – as a contest aimed at establishing control over a specific interlocutor, not as a collective deliberation over topics of common interest. (55)

[…] the interactions with non-humans follow the same logic as the interactions with humans: They are relations between individuals, not between collectives. This is why the Achuar make do without diplomats: In their dealings with other denizens of the world, just as in their ritual dialogues, their relations are always dyadic. (57)

Contrary to the anti-speciesist militants of late modernity who are motivated by the desire to see certain animals achieve political representation, the Achuar actually prefer to give non-humans the privilege of being like them, that is, fully autonomous but non-representable. (57)

Political philosophy has popularized a rough opposition between, on the one hand, societies born in Western Europe from a union between capitalism and the ideology of the Enlightenment – wherein the individual, the source of rights and the proprietor of his own person, is the touchstone upon which the collective edifice rests – and, on the other, pre-modern societies, totalities structured by immutable hierarchies – in which the individual is absent, or at least has meaning and existence only as an element in a greater whole that defines him or her inherently. But although societies founded on the pre-eminence of the whole over the parts certainly covered much of the Earth’s surface before the triumph of parliaments, there are, in contrast, other collectives that have placed the very highest value of their social philosophy upon the realization of an individual’s destiny, freely mastered and within reach of every man. The Achuar belong to this latter category […]. (57)