Saturday, July 30, 2011

I Kant Get This Out of My Mind...

The bad are not all bad from the womb, but have learnt base works and unholy words and wanton outrage from friendship with the bad because they thought all they said was true.
- Theognis of Megara (305-308_

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Cave Talk

But we will leave this tale, and do thou pipe unto me and we will both remember the Muses; for they it is, who have given these delightful gifts for us twain to have and our neighbours to hear.
- Theognis of Megara (1055-1058)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wants v. Want

The fairest thing is the most righteous, the best thing health, and the sweetest to have our heart's desire.
- Theognis of Megara (255-256)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Weekend Slippage

Thou hast lost me my good wits, lad, by reason of thy gluttonies, and art become a shame to our friends; but to me thou hast given a little time to refresh me, and with night at hand I lie quiet in haven after the storm.
- Theognis of Megara (1271-1274)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Power Sharing Agreements

Pray to the Gods; with the Gods is power; 'tis certain that without the Gods man getteth neither good nor ill.
- Theognis of Megara
Whom hateth woman most?- Thus spake the iron to the loadstone: "I hate thee most, because thou attractest, but art too weak to draw unto thee." The happiness of man is, "I will." The happiness of woman is, "He will." "Lo! "Lo! now hath the world become perfect!"- thus thinketh every woman when she obeyeth with all her love. Obey, must the woman, and find a depth for her surface. Surface is woman's soul, a mobile, stormy film on shallow water. Man's soul, however, is deep, its current gusheth in subterranean caverns: woman surmiseth its FORce, but comprehendeth it not.-
- Nietzsche, "Thus Spoke Zarathustra"

Friday, July 15, 2011

Silver Bullet Man

In a sore dissension, Cyrnus, a trusty man is to be reckoned against gold and silver
- Theognis of Megara (77-78)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Indefinite Game Continues...

Though fair thou be, thou consortest, through the badness of thy mind, with men of the baser sort, and for this, lad, thou bearest foul reproach. And I that have failed, through no fault of my own, to win thy friendship, have the satisfaction of doing what is expected of a freeman like me.
- Theognis of Megara (1377-1380)

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Tonal Languages

My heart is ever warmed within me when I hear the delightful voice of the babbling flute.
- Theognis of Megara (531-532)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Gas Masks Not Included

If thou wilt fain wash me, the water will ever flow unsullied from my head; thou wilt find me in all matters as it were refined gold, red to the view when I be rubbed with the touchstone; the surface of me is untainted of black mould or rust, its bloom ever pure and clean.
- Theognis of Megara (447-452)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Language, the True Father of Aphrodite?

...or, "Why You Can't EVER Get What You Want"

Hesiod, "Theogony"
(ll. 147-163) And again, three other sons were born of Earth and Heaven, great and doughty beyond telling, Cottus and Briareos and Gyes, presumptuous children. From their shoulders sprang an hundred arms, not to be approached, and each had fifty heads upon his shoulders on their strong limbs, and irresistible was the stubborn strength that was in their great forms. For of all the children that were born of Earth and Heaven, these were the most terrible, and they were hated by their own father from the first.

And he used to hide them all away in a secret place of Earth so soon as each was born, and would not suffer them to come up into the light: and Heaven rejoiced in his evil doing. But vast Earth groaned within, being straitened, and she made the element of grey flint and shaped a great sickle, and told her plan to her dear sons. And she spoke, cheering them, while she was vexed in her dear heart:

(ll. 164-166) `My children, gotten of a sinful father, if you will obey me, we should punish the vile outrage of your father; for he first thought of doing shameful things.'

(ll. 167-169) So she said; but fear seized them all, and none of them uttered a word. But great Cronos the wily took courage and answered his dear mother:

(ll. 170-172) `Mother, I will undertake to do this deed, for I reverence not our father of evil name, for he first thought of doing shameful things.'


(ll. 173-175) So he said: and vast Earth rejoiced greatly in spirit, and set and hid him in an ambush, and put in his hands a jagged sickle, and revealed to him the whole plot.

(ll. 176-206) And Heaven came, bringing on night and longing for love, and he lay about Earth spreading himself full upon her (7).

Then the son from his ambush stretched forth his left hand and in his right took the great long sickle with jagged teeth, and swiftly lopped off his own father's members and cast them away to fall behind him. And not vainly did they fall from his hand; for all the bloody drops that gushed forth Earth received, and as the seasons moved round she bare the strong Erinyes and the great Giants with gleaming armour, holding long spears in their hands and the Nymphs whom they call Meliae (8) all over the boundless earth. And so soon as he had cut off the members with flint and cast them from the land into the surging sea, they were swept away over the main a long time: and a white foam spread around them from the immortal flesh, and in it there grew a maiden. First she drew near holy Cythera, and from there, afterwards, she came to sea-girt Cyprus, and came forth an awful and lovely goddess, and grass grew up about her beneath her shapely feet. Her gods and men call Aphrodite, and the foam-born goddess and rich-crowned Cytherea, because she grew amid the foam, and Cytherea because she reached Cythera, and Cyprogenes because she was born in billowy Cyprus, and Philommedes (9) because sprang from the members. And with her went Eros, and comely Desire followed her at her birth at the first and as she went into the assembly of the gods. This honour she has from the beginning, and this is the portion allotted to her amongst men and undying gods, -- the whisperings of maidens and smiles and deceits with sweet delight and love and graciousness.

(ll. 207-210) But these sons whom be begot himself great Heaven used to call Titans (Strainers) in reproach, for he said that they strained and did presumptuously a fearful deed, and that vengeance for it would come afterwards.

The Symbolic Order (or the "big Other"). Whereas the imaginary is all about equations and identifications, the symbolic is about language and narrative. Once a child enters into language and accepts the rules and dictates of society, it is able to deal with others. The acceptance of language's rules is aligned with the Oedipus complex, according to Lacan. The symbolic is made possible because of your acceptance of the Name-of-the-Father, those laws and restrictions that control both your desire and the rules of communication: "It is in the name of the father that we must recognize the support of the symbolic function which, from the dawn of history, has identified his person with the figure of the law" (Écrits 67). Through recognition of the Name-of-the-Father, you are able to enter into a community of others. The symbolic, through language, is "the pact which links... subjects together in one action. The human action par excellence is originally founded on the existence of the world of the symbol, namely on laws and contracts" (Freud's Papers 230).

Whereas the Real concerns need and the Imaginary concerns demand, the symbolic is all about desire, according to Lacan. Once we enter into language, our desire is forever afterwards bound up with the play of language. We should keep in mind, however, that the Real and the Imaginary continue to play a part in the evolution of human desire within the symbolic order. The fact that our fantasies always fail before the Real, for example, ensures that we continue to desire; desire in the symbolic order could, in fact, be said to be our way to avoid coming into full contact with the Real, so that desire is ultimately most interested not in obtaining the object of desire but, rather, in reproducing itself. The narcissism of the Imaginary is also crucial for the establishment of desire, according to Lacan: "The primary imaginary relation provides the fundamental framework for all possible erotism. It is a condition to which the object of Eros as such must be submitted. The object relation must always submit to the narcissistic framework and be inscribed in it" (Freud's Papers 174). For Lacan, love begins here; however, to make that love "functionally realisable" (to make it move beyond scopophilic narcissism), the subject must reinscribe that narcissistic imaginary relation into the laws and contracts of the symbolic order: "A creature needs some reference to the beyond of language, to a pact, to a commitment which constitutes him, strictly speaking, as an other, a reference included in the general or, to be more exact, universal system of interhuman symbols. No love can be functionally realisable in the human community, save by means of a specific pact, which, whatever the form it takes, always tends to become isolated off into a specific function, at one and the same time within language and outside of it" (Freud's Papers 174). The Real, the Imaginary, and the Symbolic thus work together to create the tensions of our psychodynamic selves.

GIVEN MAN'S RELIANCE ON LANGUAGE for entrance into the symbolic order, it is not surprising that, according to Lacan, we are not even in control of our own desires since those desires are themselves as separated from our actual bodily needs as the phallus is separated from any biological penis. For this reason, Lacan suggests that, whereas the zero form of sexuality for animals is copulation, the zero form of sexuality for humans is masturbation. The act of sex for humans is so much caught up in our fantasies (our idealized images of both ourselves and our sexual partners) that it is ultimately narcissistic. As Lacan puts it, "That's what love is. It's one's own ego that one loves in love, one's own ego made real on the imaginary level". Because we are working on the level of fantasy construction, it is quite easy for love to turn into disgust, for example when a lover is confronted with his love-object's body in all its materiality (moles, pimples, excretions, etc.), the sorts of things that would have no effect on animal copulation. By entering into the symbolic order (with its laws, conventions, and images for perfection), the human subject effectively divorces him/herself from the materiality of his/her bodily drives, which Lacan tends to distinguish with the term "jouissance."Note Through the Law (which we come to acknowledge by way of the Oedipus complex), the human subject effectively chooses culture over nature: "The primordial Law is therefore that which in regulating marriage ties superimposes the kingdom of culture on that of nature abandoned to the law of copulation". That Law, for Lacan, is "identical to an order of Language", specifically what he terms the symbolic order and it is supported by the symbolic fiction of the "Name-of-the-Father."

Desire, in other words, has little to do with material sexuality for Lacan; it is caught up, rather, in social structures and strictures, in the fantasy version of reality that forever dominated our lives after our entrance into language. For this reason, Lacan writes that "the unconscious is the discourse of the Other." Even our unconscious desires are, in other words, organized by the linguistic system that Lacan terms the symbolic order or "the big Other." In a sense, then, our desire is never properly our own, but is created through fantasies that are caught up in cultural ideologies rather than material sexuality. For this reason, according to Lacan, the command that the superego directs to the subject is, of all things, "Enjoy!" That which we may believe to be most private and rebellious (our desire) is, in fact, regulated, even commanded, by the superego.

In constructing our fantasy-version of reality, we establish coordinates for our desire; we situate both ourselves and our object of desire, as well as the relation between. As Slavoj Zizek puts it, "through fantasy, we learn how to desire" (Looking Awry 6). Our desires therefore necessarily rely on lack, since fantasy, by definition, does not correspond to anything in the real. Our object of desire (what Lacan terms the "objet petit a") is a way for us to establish coordinates for our own desire. At the heart of desire is a misregognition of fullness where there is really nothing but a screen for our own narcissistic projections. It is that lack at the heart of desire that ensures we continue to desire. To come too close to our object of desire threatens to uncover the lack that is, in fact, necessary for our desire to persist, so that, ultimately, desire is most interested not in fully attaining the object of desire but in keeping our distance, thus allowing desire to persist. Because desire is articulated through fantasy, it is driven to some extent by its own impossibility.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Ieri

Now let us rejoice over our cups, saying good things; what shall come after is for the Gods to look to.
- Theognis of Megara

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Male - Eternally Becoming

Traveling on his way, the Fool first encounters a Magician. Skillful, self-confident, a powerful magus with the infinite as a halo floating above his head, the Magician mesmerizes the Fool. When asked, the Fool gives over his bundled pack and stick to the Magician. Raising his wand to heaven, pointing his finger to Earth, the Magician calls on all powers. Magically, the cloth of the pack unfolds upon the table, revealing its contents.

To the Fool's eyes, it is as if the Magician has created the future with a word. All the possibilities are laid out, all the directions he can take: The cool, airy Sword of intellect and communication, the fiery Wand of passions and ambition, the overflowing Chalice of love and emotions, the solid Pentacle of work, possessions and body.

With these tools, the Fool can create anything, make anything of his life. But here's the question, did the Magician create the tools, or were they already in the pack? Only the Magician knows - and on this mystery, our eloquent mage refuses to say a word.
The Death of Man-Made "Absolute" Time and Restoration of the Natural Eternal Feminine?

On the tragic nature of choice and other so-called "veils of ignorance".

It's what Isaiah Berlin termed "the unavoidability of conflicting ends" or, alternatively, the "incommensurability" of values. He once called this "the only truth which I have ever found out for myself... Some of the Great Goods cannot live together.... We are doomed to choose, and every choice may entail an irreparable loss." In short, it's what Michael Ignatieff summarized as "the tragic nature of choice".

---

The result of this confusion is that one affirms the essence of justice to be the authority of the legislator; another, the interest of the sovereign; another, present custom, and this is the most sure. Nothing, according to reason alone, is just in itself; all changes with time. CUSTOM CREATES THE WHOLE OF EQUITY, FOR THE SIMPLE REASON THAT IT IS ACCEPTED. IT IS THE MYSTICAL FOUNDATION OF ITS AUTHORITY; WHOEVER CARRIES IT BACK TO FIRST PRINCIPLES DESTROYS IT. NOTHING IS SO FAULTY AS THOSE LAWS WHICH CORRECT FAULTS. He who obeys them because they are just, obeys a justice which is imaginary, and not the essence of law; it is quite self-contained, it is law and nothing more. He who will examine its motive will find it so feeble and so trifling that if he be not accustomed to contemplate the wonders of human imagination, he will marvel that one century has gained for it so much pomp and reverence. The art of opposition and of revolution is to unsettle established customs, sounding them even to their source, to point out their want of authority and justice. We must, it is said, get back to the natural and fundamental laws of the State, which an unjust custom has abolished. It is a game certain to result in the loss of all; nothing will be just on the balance. Yet people readily lend their ear to such arguments. They shake off the yoke as soon as they recognise it; and the great profit by their ruin, and by that of these curious investigators of accepted customs. But from a contrary mistake men sometimes think they can justly do everything which is not without an example. THAT IS WHY THE WISEST OF LEGISLATORS SAID THAT IT WAS NECESSARY TO DECEIVE MEN FOR THEIR OWN GOOD; and another, a good politician, "Cum veritatem qua liberetur ignoret, expedit quod fallatur." Pascal, "Pensees" -