May 21, 2015

On Expression | In search of missing pieces

Thoughts on voicing, expressing, and taste of the recent events in Albania (Tirana & Gjirokaster). A summary of not only the events, participants, media coverage, public spending, and the generated online waste, of time, effort, and criticism - but, our cultural heritage, folklore, gender identity and (in)equality, history, the making of history, the present, integrating the present, the future, inspiring a future, and so on - via Derrida's Economimesis.
In his essay Economimesis, Derrida examines the terms of the contract to see if it actually does sustain an economy of expression rather than of representation, taste rather than consumption. As fine art is a form of speech, the aesthetic turn away from bodily consumption towards taste does not leave the mouth, which is the site of both bodily consumption and ideal detachment. For Derrida, the privileging by philosophy of expression disguises an economy of secret consumption, of covert representation governed by desire. Everywhere it carries out its work of consumption behind the disguise of detachment, consuming what it detaches itself from. Detachment is but a disguise entrapment. [1]
If hearing-oneself-speak, in so far as it also passes through a certain mouth, transforms everything into auto-affection, assimilates everything to itself by idealizing it within interiority, masters everything by mourning its passing, refusing to touch it, to digest it naturally, but digests it ideally, consumes what it does not consume and vice versa, produces disinterestedness in the possibility of pronouncing judgments. 

What is excluded from it and what, proceeding from this exclusion, gives if form, limit, and contour? And what about this over-board with respect to what one calls the mouth?

There is no answer to such a question. One cannot say, it is this or that, this or that thing. We will see why.

What this logo-phonocentric system excludes is not even a negative. The negative is its business and its work. What it excludes, what this very work excludes, is what does not allow itself to be digested, or represented, or stated-does not allow itself to be transformed into auto-affection by exemplorality. It is an irreducible heterogeneity which cannot be eaten either sensibly or ideally and which-this is the tautology-by never letting itself be swallowed must therefore cause itself to be vomited
. [2]

[1] Mark Wigley, Postmortem Architecture: The Taste of Derrida, Perspecta 23, p.159.
[2] Jacques Derrida, Economimesis, p.20-21


May 15, 2015

On Theory | In search of missing pieces

While going through my bookmark list, I came across this article from The Funambulist, one of my favorites and the most insightful blog & podcast, so I thought I'd share a bit of it with you. The quote below is part of a conversation Gilles Deleuze had with Michel Foucault in 1972, in which Deleuze quotes Marcel Proust to illustrate his interpretation of theory and theoretical work. You can read the rest of the piece here.

On Theory:
A theory is exactly like a box of tools. It has nothing to do with the signifier. It must be useful. It must function. And not for itself. If no one uses it, beginning with the theoretician himself (who then ceases to be a theoretician), then the theory is worthless or the moment is inappropriate. We don’t revise a theory, but construct new ones; we have no choice but to make others. It is strange that it was Proust, an author thought to be a pure intellectual, who said it so clearly: treat my book as a pair of glasses directed to the outside; if they don’t suit you, find another pair; I leave it to you to find your own instrument, which is necessarily an investment for combat.  
A theory does not totalise; it is an instrument for multiplication and it also multiplies itself. It is in the nature of power to totalise and it is your position. and one I fully agree with, that theory is by nature opposed to power. As soon as a theory is enmeshed in a particular point, we realise that it will never possess the slightest practical importance unless it can erupt in a totally different area. This is why the notion of reform is so stupid and hypocritical. Either reforms are designed by people who claim to be representative, who make a profession of speaking for others, and they lead to a division of power, to a distribution of this new power which is consequently increased by a double repression; or they arise from the complaints and demands of those concerned. This latter instance is no longer a reform but revolutionary action that questions (expressing the full force of its partiality) the totality of power and the hierarchy that maintains it. This is surely evident in prisons: the smallest and most insignificant of the prisoners’ demands can puncture Pleven’s [French Prime Minister in the 50’s] pseudoreform. If the protests of children were heard in kindergarten, if their questions were attended to, it would be enough to explode the entire educational system. There is no denying that our social system is totally without tolerance; this accounts for its extreme fragility in all its aspects and also its need for a global form of repression. In my opinion, you [Michel Foucault] were the first-in your books and in the practical sphere-to teach us something absolutely fundamental: the indignity of speaking for others. We ridiculed representation and said it was finished, but we failed to draw the consequences of this “theoretical” conversion-to appreciate the theoretical fact that only those directly concerned can speak in a practical way on their own behalf. (emphasis via The Funambulist)