From: Liano Sharon <lsharon@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 20 May 1997 13:30:43 +0800 (CST)
Hello all! First I want to mention to anyone interested that
while there is quite abit of my and Vadim's negotiation about how to talk
to eachother at the beginning of this post, there is also what may be
more interesting stuff farther down. Somethings on time and paradox and
Also, I'm sorry this took so long to get out, but other work
took precedence for a time as it is unfortunately wont to do. It has
been written over the course of several days at odd moments of spare time
and may seem a bit disjointed, for which I apologize.
Flames and questions are equally welcom!
On Tue, 24 Dec 1996, Vadim Linetski wrote:
> 17 MAY 97
> > I'm afraid I can no longer see my way clear to accept these
> > apologies. You seem to disagree with me, and in some ways seem to
> > patronize me (Liano!-Liano!; sort of like---See the Light!---See the
> > Laight!), while stating (not even arguing) that the ideas I have presented
> > have far different
> > consequences than I believe them to, but at no time do you actually
> > attempt--as you yoourself point out--to engage my arguments directly.
> > Instead, you interpret them, and then slide out your
> > interpretations as you see them related to someone else's argument which
> > you are responding to according to your ideas. You co-opt what I've said
> > to argue your own points without even the curtisy (sp?) of first
> > demonstrating in any way that I actually do say what you claim I
> > have said. I'm affraid that, honestly, after four such posts I have
> > begun to be somewhat offended by this.>
> needless to say that no offense was intended! if you were, on my knees,
> i beg your pardon and promise - for i enjoy our exchange and profit
> greatly from it! -
As do I, let me assure you!
> from now own to comply with your request. But the
> latter as well as my compliance within the context of our discussion
> immediately retranslate themselves into theory. Do not you feel that
I dissagree. In order to have a discussion we must understand
eachother to some degree, and I find that because of your methode of
responce (paraphrasing, generalizing, making connections without clearly
explaining them, etc.) I am constantly having to guess at what your
responce is. If we move farther into "pure" theory than we already have,
then perhaps this is of no consequence, I can respond based on what I
think you say and you can do the same and we could continue in this way
while each of us beleives that we are discussing something different.
Perhaps already this has begun to happen. But the beginning of our
exchange was highly contextualized (John/Jay/Orpheous) and I still have
no idea about what you think of my position on this specific issue (except
that you dissagree with me)
because you have not responded to the specific contextualized points I
made regarding it. You may say that you have provided a theory from
which the answer should be clear, but I don't see it, and I believe that
the reason I don't see it has to do with the way you paraphrase and
generaliize without specific reference to context--I find myself
constantly asking "whats he responding to, whats he refering to from my
argument". I may well be wrong,
perhapse I'm just being overly dense, but at the moment I don't believe so.
> your request contradicts what you have been advocating all along?! on
> the one hand, you argue for "theorizing without rules", for theeory as a
> reflection of one's "mood" (broadly conceived), on the other, call for
> strict rules of the game, for a quite traditional language in which such
> a theory should be voiced.
No, I don't want any restriction on how theory should be vooiced,
but I have been finding it very hard to follow what you've been saying in
responce to my posts. I assure you that if I had understood well what was
happening in your responces and how they related to my posts I wouldn't
have felt as annoyed by them as I've recently detailed here. You have
made specific claims about my posts without specifying how you support
those claims, am I constraining theory be asking you to show how it is
that you arrive at your conclusions? I have not asked you to adhere to
any kind of rules of demonstration or argumentation by which some ways of
(and I use this term here in so brroad a sense that perhaps it loses all
meaning) are excluded apriori or by any other means. But I have asked you
to demonstrate the method of reasoning (insert previous qualifer here) by
which you proceed, and I have asked you to explain this for two reasons:
first I want to see if I agree with
your method of reasoning (this would spawn a different debate), second, I
want to see if your arguments make sense to me.
> BTW that's a contradiction which is
> unfortunately all too widespread in the present day academy, it's
> another instance of res.to th. qua a matter of practical politics: the
> self-apointed guardians of D/G,Derridaetc. feel themselves justified to
> require "clear argumentation", the conventional manner of preasentation
As I hope I have explained sufficiently above, I'm not asking for
any kind of conventional rules of argumentation, but I am asking that you
explain how you do argue. I don't much care if you argue in conventional
ways or not, if anything I hope you don't argue conventionally.
> and censor critics which try to touch on too many points - whereas
> theorists under whose auspices they place themselves are evey thing else
> than lucid, are dense stylistically, do not bother to write having the
> undergraduate auditorium in mind.
Agreed! On the other hand, and I apologize for saying so, but
your esays on the web that I've seen are, in my opinion, quite
styalistically dense themselves and (again, IMHO) rely on bodies of
literature so large as to be well beyond the reach of many (if not most)
postgraduates--certainly not redily accessable to the undergraduate
> Further you complain about my practice
> of paraphrasing your ideas - and yet argue for a mode of reading which
> is by necessity and basically aparaphrasis
There is a difference between reading, writting and having a
conversation. If I'm reading a book, it may be difficult or impossible
to ask the author for clearification or to respond to counter-arguments I
may make to his/her text. If we were sitting down to coffee somewher to
have this discussion, none of these problems would arise, because when I
made a direct point, you'd probably respond to it directly and if I felt
you didn't respoond to it, or if I didn't
understand your responce, I'd simply ask you for clearification at every
point and I don't think you would end up suggesting that I'm trying to
constrain your theorizing (but perhaps we'd have to try this some time to
see if I'm right or not) by asking for a direct responce. In the current
situation I have done preciesly that--asked for clearification and for
responce to specific points I've made--and have again and again recieved
sidelines added to your responces to other people. Imagine there are
several of us at a coffe shop sitting and talking. . . I make the same
requests and you don't even turn to look at me except occasionally to say:
"see, what I just said to him answers your question too," as you turn
back to talk with some one else. No we're not in a coffee shop, but
carring on a discussion with you when you're always talking to some one
else is equally as frustrating. Do you think you would proceed in this
way if we were in a coffee shop?
> (in your second message you
> celebrate reading D/G as poetry, more importantly, just as your moment's
> disposition would prompt you to read it).For my part, ialso have smth to
> complain about of which later.
> > while you also seem to claim that established theories should not
> > attempt to impose themselves on new textual bodies. I feel imposed upon.<
> Sorry! But rhetorically you deploy here the Formalist device of "making
> strange" (literalization of a metaphor), a practice which might be used
> to corner whomesoever.
Hmmm, this is interesting. By "literalization of a metaphore" do
you mean describing an "existential" situation in which some aspect of the
metaphore is interpreted as realized (what I've done above)? If so, do you
mean that metaphores
should not be used as means to understand actual situations?? More
specifically, are you saying that your theoretical stance against what
you call "resistance to theory" (the imposition of established theory on
new textual bodies) was ment metaphorically and should not be taken as
actualizable? But I recall you gave an (I beleive fictionalized) example
of your idea of res. to theory: "a Derridean perspective on the
literature of Papau-New Guenean". If the New Gueneans made the same
analysis of the Derridean peice ("we're being imposed upon"), would
unacceptable Formalist rhetoric intended to trap the Derridean author?
If not, why is it acceptable in their case but not in mine? If it is
acceptable in neither case, what should people do when they find
themselves in positions where they feel that this kind of imposition has
taken place? My own opinion on this is that on the level of THEORY you
say, "Well, thats nice, but I'm gonna forget Derrida while I go read some
of this new literature". On the other hand, on the level of DISCUSSION,
if you happen to be talking with the author for example, it makes perfect
sense to say "don't you think its a bit unfair [insert stronger term
here] to impose Derrida on this new literature? Why not understand it on
its own terms rather than impose your own? Would you go to China and
insist they say 'red' instead of 'hong Ss'? No? Then why impose your
theoretical language on the New Guenean literature?"
Put another way, theory is meaningless unless it has real
consequences. Reading the literature while forgetting Derrida is a real
consequence of my philoosophy. So is having the discussion with the
author, but the discussion iitself is meaningless as theory unless it
spawns a real effect. This again the reason I felt John's post about
Orpheous to be theoretically meaningless.
I wasn't trying to "corner" you, I was just stating how I was
feeling about the way our discussion has been going, why I was feeling
that way, and explaining how what I was feeling may make sense in your
theoretical framework. If I've made you feel cornered, I apologize, but
I wasn't advancing a theoretical attack, I was participating in discussion.
Each can be made into the other, but neither need become the other
necessarily. If you insist that they are necessarily the same, then we
re-enter the problem of always being guilty because it becomes impossible
for me to express my feeling without cornering you formalistically
(according to your argument), which I interpret to mean in a manner
derived from a transcendental position.
> > > Now
> > > i am going to address two issues which remain in suspense.
> > > 1. you are certainly right in your critique of Zeno's paradoxes. However
> > > you address them
> > an und für sich,
> > I'm sorry, I don't understand this, is it another language?
> > Please explain.<
> sorry, in German, in English they translate it as "in and for itself"
> > > and there's the rub! what justifies my
> > > = of the two paradoxes is their structure
> > > and discursive effect dubbed
> > > in my NABOKOV AND SWIFT... essay a self-dimunitive one.
> > By my reading of yoour peice, you argue about the
> > self-dimmunition of A&T, but suppose the self-dimmunition of the Liar by
> > equating the two--do you demonstrate that the Liar, by itself with out
> > reference to A&T is also self-diminutive? If so, please point out
> > where. I must point out again that their structure is quite
> > different,
> > so If you have not demonstrated the self-dimunition of the Liar on its
> > own, you may have a problem.<
> Part of the difficulty in our exchange stems from the fact that i refer
> to published texts of mine where the argument has been developed in
> full. To disentangle issues which PoMo theorists were at pains to push
> into an abyss requires a great amount of space. for techn. reasons i
> cannot recapulate my argument in full. the summaries you find obscure...
> i feel that in the referred essay the structural = of the paradoxes has
> been sufficiently spelled out. all i can do is to cut the lrelevant
> passage and post it to the list. however to do this i have first to ask
> the permission of other subscribers (it will be a bit lengthy, and what
> if another john would cry "stop shitting"?!)
No problem, I understand and will try to take a longer look at
> > > On a purely
> > > philosophical level, your critique is quite valid (as Bergson has argued
> > > in MATTER AND MEMORY and Ch.Peirce contended in his notes A. will
> > > overtake the T. - at least as a fact), but i am interested in the use of
> > > this paradox in PoMo theory. Curiously, what i call structure and
> > > discursive effect is situated precisely in the gap /khora (another basic
> > > notion of PoMo) between your two interpretations: in effect, you try to
> > > dissociated the two paradoxes by arguing that that of A&T relies on a
> > > physical setting, that of the Cretan Liar - on psychology of sorst
> > It should be pointed out that this "psychology of sorts" is not a
> > static thing unless the paradox is restricted to a fixed _point_ (not
> > duration) of time. Also, I would argue that the Liar, without temporal
> > restrictions, represents a completely different waay of being, not simply
> > a change in psychology.<
> Interesting! however i fail to see how "a way of being" whatever its
> novelty might be dissociated from "temporal restrictions"? You seem to
> propound a non-restrictive temporality?An a-temporal way of being?
I mean a way of being that does not experience time as a simple
progression 2pm . . .3pm . . . 4pm . . .1997 . . . 1998 . . . 3457 (I hope
not!). . .etc. I would advocate an experience of time that was at once more
mythical and more real. Michels Serres offers the example of a late model car
. . . "It is a disperate aggregate of scientific and technical solutions
dating from different periods. One can date it component by component:
this part was invented at the turn of the century, another, ten years
ago, and Carnot's cycle is almost two hundred years old. Not to mention
that the wheel dates back to neolithic times. The ensemble is only
contemporarry by assemblage, by its design, its finish, sometimes only by
the slickness of the advertising surrounding it."
That is, what we encounter in the world is not new, but new and
old simultaneously. By claiming that a thing is only new simply because
it was made just now is rediculuous--everything is made up from parts
that are as tempporally different as they are physically different, but
this is not only true of physical things like cars and wool sweaters, it
is also true of ideas and debates. When you speak against imposing
established ideas on new textual bodies, in an important sense you are
speaking against the static view of time that proposes the above
progression and coouples it with the idea of being contemporary and
modern. You are speaking in favor of experiencing not just a new
literature, but a new time not derived from the line we've been passing
along. The ideas of contemporeneity and modernity, as the advanced
column of "progress," work to convince us that we are the best, the most
well informed the most technically advanced, generally the most _right_
about everything that it has ever been possible to be, and as Serres
points out, as long as we continue to believe this it will be a permanent
state--a static time where we will always, day to day, hour to hour, be
righter than it was ever possible to be before, and all this for the
simple and rediculous reason that we are living at the present moment.
IN short, everything we encounter every day arrives from a
different time into the present which is itself both past and future. I
remember the lecherous old Italian from _Catch-22_ who when told
he was an old man said "yes, but I live like a young one". and when told
he was a crazy man said "yes, but I live like a sane one". Being old and
being insane are both equally archized by a "standard" view of BEING that
insists that you ARE (you exist) according to accepted views. People say
"being old is a state of mind," (a psychology of sorts), and by claiming this
try to relegate divergence from accepted temporality to an exchange of one
accepted psychology (oldness) for another (youngness). But if you watch
"older" people who take this idea to heart and live by it, you see that
they do indeed _live differently_ than people who do not (compare this
with some one who always talks about how young--or how old-- s/he is, but
doesn't seem to do anything that would inspire anyone else to talk about
how young (old) s/he is. Maybe the person talking this way has changed
their psychology in some way, but untill they change how the live it
doesn't seem to make much difference, certainly not to their
cardiovascular system for example) . I have an
uncle who has been 40 for the last 30 years, ever since he was twenty,
and I have a grandfather who took a sojourn at being older, but decided
he liked being 28 better than 75. I don't mean to imply standards of
behavior for specific ages, I'm just trying to give a general idea of
what I mean by reference to things that (while I may not beleive them)
have a certain existance in society and thus may help to convey my
meaning (I am also trying to demonstrate how referencing something you
reject and that could indeed undermine your argument if taken in that
way need not do so). My point is we should understand this
co-temporality (old and new, new and already but not yet, etc.) in the
way we experience the world. Thus not an a-temporality, but a
co-temporality--a non-archical temporality.
Has anybody read a book called "Ishmael" by Daniel Quinn? I
haven't decided if I like the book or not yet, but it certainly presents
some interesting ideas that the above has made me think of again.
This probaly needs further clearification, so fire away!
> However your celebration of diversity, multifacetousness of expirience
> does not make much sense if does not take into account this human
> predicament. what you are arguing for, then, is a strange hybrid of
> quasi-Sartrean existentialism and quasi-idealism.
> The passage to this new way of being may be
> <> concieved of as a change in psychology, but being their is not simply
> > about psychology, since time and space have also changed.
> - ... in a way that does away with their restrictiveness?
In a way that presents different boundaries, which are also to be
played with (see old and young above).
> > > (as
> > > you say we should take into consideration that a Liar could not be a
> > > prioro accused of a continuous flaw of lies). However, it is precisely
> > > the UNCANNY RETURN OF THE REFERENT
> > Please explain what you mean. One reason I'm so interested in
> > paradoxes is that they don't need referents--they appear to have them
> > because of the operation of contradiction. YOu can live paradoxically
> > without refering to it and without referencing any particular objects or
> > actions as being paradoxical to eachother.<
> and would not this new way of living = maximum of abstraction,
> inattention to the lived environment, to the minute details
> constituting "here and now" your philosophy needs referetiality as
> no other does.
> > > a recourse to "naturalism" which
> > > undermines the PoMo project,
> > Please explain the connection between naturalism and "the uncanny
> > return of the referent". <
> i humbly thought that at least this would be self-evident: naturalism =
> recourse to referentiality the latter implied by the sort of
> environmentalism (phisycal, psychic etc) you defend, what makes this
> return uncanny is the fact that PoMo is about doing away with
> referentiality altogether (D/G, Baudrillard, Derrida are in accord re:
> triumph of simulacra) thought to represent the nucleus of logocentrism.
OK, now I understand what you're saying and can respond.
Basically I don't at all agree with the idea that referentiality is a
basis of logocentrism. I believe that referencing _transcendents_ is
such a basis, and this is what I meant above--you can live paradoxically
without reference to transcendents (I was quite inexcusably unclear for
which I apologize, too caught up in my own thoughts it seems). Usually
it is assumed that paradox would
not occur if there where no transcendents around to insist on absolutes
(true/false) as found in contradictions. But you don't need a
trascendent to create a living paradox. This is especially true when
moving in flows of movement--every sailor understands that in most cases
you don't get where you want to go by going there, you get there by going
somewhere else--you tack. This is one instance of a more general
phenoomenon--if you understand the universe to by more powerful than you,
then you understand that you have to negotiate with it like the sailors
do, and this may mean both changing your ends and changing your means for
acheiving them. A bit farther along these lines, you can find a very
interesting paradox of life which relies on no transcendent--Lao Tzu's
"act without acting".
> Since in practice their theories require a recourse to referntiality
> (and your theory is exemplary in baring this necessity), the effect is
> uncannilly deconstructive.
> > Also, please explain how it is that naturalism
> > undermines the PoMo project, since it has been my understanding that
> > Postructuralism (which you often seem to equate with postmodernism)
> > rejects naturalism.
> Precisely due to this rejection. See above.
Undestood, and hopefully my responce is clear
enough--"naturalism" (under your definition) need not be rejected so long
as it does not rely on transcendents. (see below)
> > > and this is my theme. In other words, it
> > > is the naturalization which PoMo identifies as one of the logocentric
> > > moves which returns in its own discourse...
> > This may well be true, but please support this claim. In doing
> > so, pleaase be clear about the definitions of "naturalism" and
> > "naturalization" you are using. If you mean a humanist naturalism, then
> > you may be a victim of over theorization.
> all along i was trying to clarify my use of "naturalization" which is
> certainly a rather loose term. Could you perhaps suggest a better one?
What I was getting at by suggesting that there may be an
overtheoriization of the term "naturalism" here is this: most of the PoMo
arguments for rejecting naturalism I've heard focus on the humanist
naturalism of people like Rousseau who pose a transnscendent essence as a
basis for this naturalism. But the whole point of the reliance on such a
transcendent is to answer the question "what makes us human" while
avoiding the obvious but paradoxical answer: "being human" ( Note that
contrary to the exppectations I often encounter, here a transcendent is
used to _avoid- a paradox, rather than being implicated in creating
one). This answer
is, by the way, fully compatible with D&G's idea that things are
determined by their effects. It was only a certain form of conciet that
forced the transcendent essence definition of human-ness while accepting
relatively calmly the notion that a rock is a rock because it is a rock and
not a tree. Note that anamism, by supposing that everything has its
poses the paradoxical and not the transcendent answer to the question of
being human. Thus the way in which "naaturalism" is often used in PoMo
discourse I find to be over theorized since the problems attributed to it
have to do with a theory of transcendentals and not a theory of what is
or isn't "natural".
> > > (In another chapter
> > > ,"BAKHTIN'S WORDS...", i further develop the notion of Cretan
> > > discursivity)
> > > 2. you are right that what i am arguing against is the view of
> > > deconstruction as a theory which requires smth to deconstruct. This is
> > > one of the most common rebukes. My aim is to conceive of deconstruction
> > > of the second degree
> > What does "deconstruction of the second degree" mean? It sounds
> > something like the theory of types most mathematicians seem to use to try
> > and deal with Russell's paradox or the spirals of language and
> > meta-language used to try to run away from Godel's proof. Both of which
> > don't really work.
> Nothing of the sort! Esp. since it's precisely this "mathematism" which
> decons of the first degree is all about. Again you are over-literal.
> Decon of the second degree retains the aims (urgent as they are) while
> rejecting the propounded means (that of Gödel incl)
Can you summarize (briefly) the means and aims you have in
mind? If this is an unfair question, no problem, just say so.
> > > as a theory which would not need anything
> > > antedating it , would not be parasitic.
> > > However, the sine qua non is the
> > > baring of the discursive moves common to all versions of
> > > poststructuralism. I think that we are justified to speak of
> > > poststructuralISM: consider fo example one of the most radical versions
> > > of feminism: recently Braidotti has made a special point that the
> > > reconstruction of the female subjectivity requires a consolidated
> > > (oedipal) subjectivity in order to proceed. there obviousy ARE some
> > > fundamental discursive moves common to all, and it is this moves which
> > > matter.
> i wonder why you've found this clarification unclear. which explains
> why, were i as sensitive to "being heard" as you seem to be, i could
> have re-direct your complaints to their author.
> TO REITERATE:
> > > Thank you very much for your provocative remarks, i am looking forward
> > > to hearing more of them.<
And On my part, I apologize If I've been overly coarse. I have
indeed enjoyed and benefited from our discussion and look forward to more
of it and others.