August 08, 2004

Say Bill, can you rub some of that on my lips?

naked lunch.jpg

Radar anomalous versus Infinite Thought --- SCRAP!

Seriously though, I look forward to Nina's promised explication of Badioiu. I know little or nothing about him (in fact, what I do know I'm gleaning from Nina and Alberto's delectable translation of On Beckett) but what has always prima facie put me off him is his attachment to trad philosophical terms which have been - for me at least - difficult to libidinize: 'truth', 'rationality'..... etc. Still, given that it is what one does with words - rather than some putative (fixed and transcendent) 'meaning'- that is important, I remain open to the possibility that Badiou can rescue these terms from academic capture.

For my two penn'th though, regarding rationality, as a provisional attempt to libidinize it, a number of things:

'Rationality' is best seen not as some disembodied faculty but cybernetically as the capacity of a body to reflect on its own performance and to re-set its goals. Most cybernetic technical machines remain stratified because, while they are capable of doing the former, they are, as yet, locked out of doing the latter. This is the unique human potential for destratification. Think of it another way: why can't animals do sorcery?

Seen Spinozistically, reason is what allows human beings to decode millions of years of mammal and reptile strata. Reason's function is to disable these old 'defaults' and set new ones. It's a bit like learning how to play a musical instrument. At first this requires intense conscious concentration but after a while performance becomes autonomic as reason migrates from the brain to the (rest of the) body.

Bacon has a good line on this in his conversations with David Sylvester. He made the analogy with a tennis player, whose body makes thousands of micro-decisions at a non-conscious level. In the same way, just because Bacon was not conscious of what he was doing as a painter did not mean that his production was 'irrational'.

As I've said before, I think Burroughs is a Spinozist (This was in fact a problem with Cronenberg's Naked Lunch, which recruited him into a quasi-Romantic cult of the irrational.)

Posted by mark at August 8, 2004 05:13 PM | TrackBack