Journal 2009

Subjection: What one desires is not only certainty, but mastery, total control over the known universe. One withdraws into solitude and avoids the play of attractions, flees from the need to be responsive, to go on adventurously without knowing . . . The ability to go on in the face of unknowing is not a violation of our autonomy, a betrayal of our self-consciousness, but an overturning of the great cosmic myth of modernity: Everything is under control. All that is lost is the profound, unspoken lie that there is something permanent with which to identify ourselves, something solid to hold onto . . . But perhaps also the desire to write?

*If one's life is extreme or eccentric, then one is tempted to think: I have a sick mind, and this is how far I have been willing to go to deal with my condition. This is what I have been driven to by my madness.

The more intense and powerful my own conviction, the easier it is for me to feel that I am being unduly influenced by my companion; the more open and democratic my spirit, the more sensitive I am to another's command over my attention. She is not seeking to control me, but still I feel that I am not determining my own destiny. How much control would I have to exert over my own circumstances in order to feel that I am truly self-determining, that my life is truly my own?

It is difficult to believe that war and tyranny could be abolished without altering the fundamental structure of everyday life. After all, these phenomena depend on an intricate web of behaviors and norms that bear no explicit relation to the brute exercise of power. Without altering these mundane patterns (which we must first discover), our desire to transform murderous social institutions is empty.

Variations on Emerson: Seeing the whole world as my own creation; addressing myself to all humankind; realizing a democracy of experience (a democratic relation to the world); feeling myself at home in all company; recognizing no boundary or separation between myself and my neighbor.

Identification (self-identification) as taboo: the marking of a boundary.

The moral sense - or what philosophers typically call the moral sense - is the product of generalized regimes of self-perception laid down from early childhood and reinforced through patterns of sensory association. Most of what we stand for in our everyday judgments of good and bad, right and wrong, up and down, clean and unclean, has no basis in science or reasoning; it is merely the result of impulses squeezed out of us as if from the very substance of the universe. These impulses are rarely examined, or seen for what they are - and yet they determine the fundamental shape of the universe as we know it. If we did on occasion examine them critically (and we do), all hell would break loose.

How is it that our individual acts and manners add up to such a cruel and disastrous whole? Every gesture of etiquette or good intention could be a finger that pulls the trigger on a loaded weapon. What gives us the faith to proceed with such niceties?

Philosophy answers the question: What enables you to carry on in the face of death? Or perhaps philosophy merely asks the question - and in doing so reawakens its own endless search . . .

If ownness (holding one's own) and ethics are two possible exercises of philosophy, then is there also a difference of logical priority between them? Is the need to take care of one's own more fundamental than the obligation to engage in ethical conduct?

Living by a moral code means establishing honor within a particular social order. But the possibility of attaining honor is limited by the judgments and values built into this particular order. Perhaps it is not desirable to live honorably, insofar as honor is defined by the standards of a dishonorable way of life.

A person's dress shows which duties he can be expected to perform. (If it is a uniform, it also shows his rank and affiliation.)

Is it the desire (or the duty?) to know that is responsible for our suffering, our inertia? Could it be that our artistry is born from our willingness to abandon the very impulse of knowing? Oh! To live truly and deeply - but without this misery!

Language can serve in many capacities. It multiplies itself in response to an infinite variety of needs. - But when is philosophical language called for? (By what alarm is it called?)

Stand your ground! There is nowhere you do not belong!

Not only sex, art, nature, death, but every aspect of communal life should be treated with proper respect - the kind of respect exhibited in the performance of ritual.

Perform, pervert, perhaps, permutate, per cent, permit, . . .

Our sexual customs are quite malleable; it is only the ugliness of most men, and my fear of losing respect in the eyes of some women, that has kept me from sharing erotic pleasure with other males. In any case, there is no law of nature that guarantees society will always be organized around practices of sexual reproduction. Soon the traditional, patriarchal family will become obsolete, and sexuality will no longer be governed by a moral code whose implicit end is the propagation of the human species.

Why should the realization that our perceptions of the world are dependent on our brains, our minds, our prejudices, our positions, etc. seem to imply that we should be taking ourselves less seriously? What is given up is not the desire to live seriously - but the idea that doing so would depend on holding true beliefs about the ultimate nature of reality. This is a skepticism that both liberates us from dogmatic philosophy and points the way towards a different way of thinking.

The idea of "receptivity" (with its underlying sense of "empirical content") is the ultimate expression of the world-picture of modern philosophy. The interconnectedness of every particle proceeds from no center. Responsiveness to the transforming textures of experience is a condition that must be actualized as the sine qua non of a life; it is acceptance of contingency; it is fate. My existence is irrepressibly relational; my being is a shifting code in an endless field of polysemic performance. When I call upon my philosophical weapons, it is not as a subject set apart from a world of solid truths, but as a web of fluctuating energies indelibly woven into this mobile field. Language (speech, writing, rhetoric, word-magic) is only one of these weapons - even if it is a weapon of infinite versatility; like other weapons it is deployed on the battlefield in order to make something happen, to inflict changes on the landscape of life. Logos was the founding ritual weapon of Western civilization - but its centrality has been displaced. All of my rituals are open improvisations in the seams of a neverending score. None of my acts are circumscribed within the boundaries of a mythic subjectivity. My acts are tiny brushstrokes on a canvass of boundless variation. What shame would come from missing out on this momentous play of forces!

IWW GMB meeting: astonishing resemblance to religious liturgy.

The distinction is not simply one between alienated and non-alienated subjectivity. One must contend with power, or live in the midst of it; there is no other place to run, no outside. In so living one is either a practitioner of freedom, or one is not. If one fails to practice freedom, one falls victim to: fear, deadness, conformity . . . One's exercises of freedom are all there is to living; but they are not set apart from one's movements within the realm of power. Power is seduction, eros, attraction, animation. Apart from power there is only darkness, dullness, infertility. The individual who does not open himself to the powers at work in the folds and rhythms of his everyday life is rightly called a coward. Yet this is not to say that we must submit to the dominant ordering of powers. It is to say that the very existence of power - and so the contingency of all aspects of everyday life - must be accepted. But to acquiesce in the particular formations of power that make up this world is unconscionable. Even the act of accepting or submitting to a form of power transforms its very nature. One enters into the contingent field of power, and in doing so one discovers that one's own exercises of freedom are inseparable from the fluctuating movement of an ongoing play of forces.

One cannot practice freedom if one is hiding from oneself; the structure of conscience therefore does not permit freedom as a way of life. One must live on instinct, and without looking back. To submit to a pattern of living whose continuation depends on its own self-sublimation - this equals death. The joy of criminality, deviance, madness, must be given free rein. The spirit must learn to love (and be loved) without taboos, roadblocks, or valuations. All of experience must be undertaken without alibi, without any final accounting.

An end to the ordinary: stateless, without rest

The true gentleman: the true gentleman is tolerant of the cosmos - and level-headed in weathering the winds of contingency.

Guilt is an integral part of the anthropological form of post-Christian civilization; it is accepted as a necessary outgrowth of normal human conditioning; its surface is experienced as something wholly transparent and given: a pure reflection of man's moral essence; but in fact the whole rotting corpus of servile, renunciatory history lurks behind it; the gruesome religion of capitalism, with its morbid systems of debt, and self-flagellation - here, laid bare, is the bloody circuitry of our incessant nausea. We are taught from birth to overlook this genealogy - and to accept morality as the absolute starting point for all possible experience. But underlying this viewpoint are conditions so sinister, and so grotesque, that the whole of culture must be devoted to concealing them from view.

An entirely new way of experiencing the world, a violent recovery of origins, a new old way, is altogether possible.

Kerouac's violent writing style was an expression of his Catholic anxiety and guilt. He was not a gentle man.

One must be trusted by one's word - simply as a matter of honor.

The possibility of an instinctive way of life has always been tied to the release of a deep sexual fatum. To live naturally and freely, the proper attunement to nature's erotic forces must be sustained. But this freedom is not the same as genuine artistry in relation to the world. To attain the latter, one's desire (or the desire of one's world) must be sculpted into a masterpiece of immediate self-creation.

If one wishes to overcome the alienation induced by philosophical anxiety, it does not suffice to defend the proposition that we make contact with reality through our senses. An actual transformation must be cultivated in which the estranged philosophical consciousness is replaced by a life in which sensation becomes the absolute medium of spiritual activity.

Turning one's ultimate concern into a sensory movement; making one's hidden words into flesh . . .

Our affirmative path is something like a scientific absorption - an instinctive science (or aesthetics) of desire. Its practitioners must attain a condition in which nothing escapes them, nothing is lost on them. Consciousness (which is always herd-consciousness) introduces the power of taboo, identification, and the law of exclusion; it engenders fear, alienation, the sense of being where one does not belong. An erotic path must be immediate and instinctive; it must outlive the individual's impulse to bind himself in the chains of subjectivity; one's passion must not be allowed to deflect itself onto a screen of otherworldly simulation.

There are many reasons to write about experience: the man who sings radio songs in the alley, the little boy who passes from behind on un-menacing footsteps, the glum old woman whose phone makes disco noise on the street, the birds, the faces, the scenes. Take it all in stride, my friend, and let it be your gift to burn . . .

THE FIRE, THE STARS, THE DICE-ROLL, THE ANIMALS . . . . . . .

Is it inhuman to search for alternatives when so many others are prevented from doing so? Is there a price for living freely - a price of assimilation, suffering, disappointment; or perhaps of alienation, contempt, and solitude?

Learning to love is always a matter of loving in a particular way.

To live instinctively, with no rules, one must be prepared to stand one's ground. To live fearlessly in the face of danger, one must be ready to take risks. Put simply, one must ignite the full power of the imagination: one must live with a mind on fire.

Cost-benefit or risk-benefit analysis is the characteristic form of decision-making in a world governed by the rule of conscience (subjectivity). One's acts are personal instruments, motivated by calculations of value, against a background of fear.

Children learn to despise their bodies, to fear their elders, and to submit to the conventions of the society that owns them. Sexuality, racial mixing, and social deviance are regarded as unthinkable crimes, while warfare, imprisonment, and social violence are promoted as indispensable virtues. When a child's entire sense of self-worth is bound up with his success as a member of a self-destructive society, his only dignified option is to revolt against this regime of normalcy and become - an outlaw.

We do not know how to commune spontaneously with one another, how to bring our minds out into the open; our lives pass us by, and the accumulation of repressed energy and desire builds up beyond our control. A society with any real prospect of survival would have to be a society of lovers, an erotic society. Its people would have to be engaged in a constant dance of self-affirmation - an artistry of love in resistance to fear.

Oh heavenly fatum!
Praised be thy name!
Descend from the outside
And grant me what is mine own!
Lift my soul to the heavens
With all the grace of your sacred force!
Let all the angels sing thy name!
(BLANK)

The form of the digital subject is that of a creature who performs, for fame, against a background of total surveillance. The outside is pure alien force.

Let it be: the wisdom of a creaturely generation, a sensual generation, a generation of sinners and thieves. (Lovely lovely Lennonism . . . )

Young students do not realize that Rorty was joking when he claimed never to have thought of a connection between his "clinical depression" and an "uncertain" turn in his philosophical writing.

What happens when you do not live instinctively is that you say and do things that you do not mean.

More than anything, perhaps, Kant solidified the intellectual conscience around the obligation to obey. He discovered the juridical subject, who fulfills his ultimate duty by conforming to universal law, and the impenetrable subject, who can digest nothing but his own material.

There is pleasure in the discovery that our most profound ideals are encoded in the most primitive impulses and scenes of everyday life. Art and philosophy achieve a higher sophistication only through a ritual accumulation of these elementary meanings.

Here is a problem: I am ashamed of my own writing; it is a part of me that is still outside (still subject to the judgment of the herd).

Here is the aspect that is most difficult: to know your own desires, especially when they are right in front of your nose.

Theft, pure expenditure, having nothing at all (nothing to one's name)

"Sexual desire" - or even better, "sexual energy" - is pure mystification, mana, maguffin. Whether it exists or does not exist - this is immaterial. What matters is that we posit a cosmic force that gives our rituals meaning; there must be a myth that explains and vindicates the activities of our kind.

Caring for children, courting, selection of a mate: what are the spiritual styles that correspond to these practices?

"God," "the soul," and "death": these horizons form the elementary sacred configuration of "Western" civilization (for these are its primary taboos); Logos, the Word, is its primary medium (its substance).

Being out of order, moving against the grain of society, is not simply a matter of disagreeing with the propositions that make up its worldview.

The question "What is an intellectual?" is now increasingly a source of contention for us. The very legitimacy of the intellectual's way of life is in doubt. We no longer have confidence that these are the proper rituals. We are no longer certain that the word-magic is working.

What we feel about our parents, above all, is disappointment - disappointment at their fallibility, at their recalcitrance, their lack of power and wisdom. As children we expect more from them, but without any basis for this expectation; as adults our illusions are gone, but the bitter taste of betrayal still lingers on our tongues. In consequence, we have nothing good to say to them - no words of gratitude, honor, or love; we feel only resentment, and if we overcome our resentment, we are faced with mere indifference.

Our conception of desire is ambiguous; it refers both to a "propositional attitude," a particular intentional state in which a person stands in relation to some object in the world - and also to a motivating force or passion, whose presence is thought to be palpable, but whose origin and content remain mysterious.

The individual's revolt against society enables her to examine every aspect of life, to see the world for what it is (rather than taking it for granted, out of habit or custom). Every scene of life becomes a possible site of insurrection; every object becomes an idol to be overthrown. Nothing is exempt from this ruthless labor of desacralization, demystification; everything must be taken down from the clouds and submerged in the frothy stuff of creation. The world itself is reconceived as an expression of unknown human powers.

We are driven by the myth that reality has a logical order; and so we prioritize certain practices over others, certain language-games and patterns of life over others; we do this without ever elucidating the hidden scales of valuation that give our prioritizations their substance; our unexamined ontologies (of "meaning," "fact," "causation," etc.) are designed to purchase the abstract order of human life without ever exposing its naked forms.

The priest identifies. He claims to have found a basis for his decisions. He claims to be guided. He points at the moon.

How to free oneself to become part of the natural cycle? How to free oneself from subjection? There is nobody behind my thoughts and actions. There is no one to possess them, no one to make my decisions or rule my destiny. All my life is a spontaneous act, an immediate motion with nothing solid backing it up.

People have become more and more like toys. They automatically repeat cute phrases with emotionally generic expression until the image of their personalities is permanently and uniformly imprinted in the memories of all consumers. We are all Energizer Bunnies.

You control your instincts by not controlling them.

Subjectivity means having something up your sleeve. Creatureliness takes us higher. Creatureliness before the flood. . . .

Creaturely awareness leads to a refinement of our sense of human fragility, smallness, mortality. We learn to sense ourselves as minor characters within the universe. Our dependence on each other acquires a new intimacy, a new sense of belonging together.

Reenchantment of the world cannot be achieved through mere logical analysis. The obstacle to our salvation is not logical confusion, but the illusion that salvation could be approached through mere intellectual means. The crisis we face calls for something more extreme.

The point is not to look around for extraordinary events, but to realize that the whole organism of everyday life is already suffused with myth, magic, and ritual.

Awareness of creatureliness can make it more difficult to live as pure, fearless instinct - for the shock of animal danger is like waking up from a dream (when experienced by a human being). Ultimately there is no escape from the human consciousness of death; even our most immediate absorption in animal activity is hardened by its icy touch.

Our dependence on the sky for our survival, on the sun, on the natural cycles of water, light, and planetary movement - this is unshakeable. The ancient practices of supplication, repayment, and gratitude for these processes must have a present-day counterpart. Science lacks the force of community, the element of festival and aestheticization; it does, however, make predictions while seeking to control the natural order through the mediation of a specialized priesthood.

In dreams, attention is not a factor. It is not necessary for the dreamer to choose where to direct his awareness. Images and events flow with the rhythm of their own inner associations. The whole field of experience becomes magic. Anything could transform into anything else, at any moment. The universe (if that is what one experiences in a dream) seems to possess a mind of its own. Everything is perfectly singular and impermanent; it happens once, and that is all. Events leave no trace.

It is especially important for countercultural movements to have rituals of their own. It is through ritual that outsiders and rebels make themselves at home in an otherwise inhospitable world. Artistry and collective performance become necessary when one's way of life has been relegated to the margins. One's stylization and culture become imbued with the urgency of survival.

Ritual provides a solution to the problem of decision: all meaning must be examined in relation to an immediate material scene of possibilities; all linguistic acts are considered as gears in the clockwork of a predestined, automatic activity; the transcendence of language is continually effaced.

Heard them church bells ringing
When the music went away
Then my heart, it did discover
That the song was here to stay

When Freud says that "we" envy and admire the imaginative writer, what he means is that he harbors these feelings - and that, despite his conservatism, he regards the creative artist as the ideal character-type of psychoanalytic practice.

If philosophy is conceptual music, then what lifeless music Wittgenstein's thought has proven to be.

Philosophy is what we tell ourselves to get our art going.

Tell yourself to save your words for acts of sacrament and ritual. Do not be amazed by any foreign sky-god. The goods are all around us; let us not put ourselves on trial.

Thinking without thinking: the dream of a true community.

Black cat, sabotage everything in sight.

Does cannabis produce merely the illusion of purity, effortlessness? Is its magic more than a membrane against thinking differently?

All art goes the way of life
Only footsteps heed the power
To consecrate solid ground
Wish me a pebble - raised up
Into our clouded senses
Dance again
The tune of a silver wind
Show to all the intimate light
In the fleeting fate
Of your presence

But you know
More than sage and sire
Eleven dirty bridges
Brought you from where
You are
And thirteen new paces
WIll take you home

Good behavior: is there any art beyond morality? Is "morality" merely another name for something indelible - a philosophy that remains perennial only in its form (or formal starting point)? Does morality mark the destiny of philosophy, the edge of its constant self-reflection? Or is "philosophy" the name for what happens when we threaten to jump off? Salto Mortale

Thinking the in-between: Seven vital bridges for the work of electrical philosophy:

1) The brain 2) The city 3) The design 4) The movement

5) L'ordre 6) L'art 7) Le moyen, la musique

In praise of skepticism (with the styles of Oscar Wilde): hipness is not a state of knowingness, but an openness to not-knowing, or to discovering that one does not know; it is the true launchpad of anarchy, the passage-way to an infinite festival of masks.

Miles Davis' album On the Corner marks a new point of departure in the long 20th-century diaspora of American music. It bestirs a breakout of deeply repressed tribalism and paleo-consciousness in American jazz, thus contributing to its further Africanization, its movement towards magic and festival, and its departure from the conservative academic jazz establishment.

Question: Is the world rigged in the way that a film is rigged - in favor of the hero's perspective, with its particular scope and standards of value? Question: Who is the hero?

There are as many "others to reason" as there are "visions of Johanna." But this does not mean that someone must be left out. What is called "reason" never was anything more than a battle-cry. And now that the battle is over, we no longer have anything to go home to.

Look Around

Ultimate nonviolence: to let things abide as they are. The fellow who achieves this tender patience is indeed a true gentleman.

Decline of the crime genre in contemporary film; fall of noir, private-eyes, mysteries. Parade of insignificant characters, confederacy of dunces; no one anymore is hip, no one knows how to roll with the punches.

Always in on the joke.

We do not decide what to remember. Our bodies take care of it for us. This natural selection from experience has a founding value. Its arrest marks the emergence of a standpoint, the beginning of a self-hypostatization.

The creation of perspectives, the creation of personalities: this is not merely the work of a conceptual imagination. One's art engages the whole of one's character. It makes up the very substance of one's life. "Aestheticism" should not be taken to refer to a special fondness for theatre and paintings, or a philosophical privileging of literature over science; rather, it describes an exercise of constant affirmation, a total orientation of life, the birth of a new way of experiencing - sensing - reality.

"First there must be recognition."

This was the beginning of our love.

"Only then will we relate to each other with equal standing."

And so our romance was born and devoured with one founding act. What it was we thought we had achieved, this was impossible to say. The only certainty was that an ontological shift had occurred. Our obscure contract had fundamentally altered the nature of the cosmos. All subsequent experience would be elevated to a higher plane. All mundane acts would henceforth be imbued with a new authenticity.


Our love was born with a flash of obscure recognition. Our gazes met, and it was if the distance between us momentarily vanished. Neither of us had the courage to become fully absorbed in this rapture - but neither could we simply recoil. We were moved by a force more powerful than our finite selves, more powerful than the chemistry of our bodies, or the light from our eyes . . .


Everything we said to each other had the force of the universe behind it. I will never know for sure whether you were honest, whether I was exaggerating the gravity of my ordeal. That trust we sought was something beyond the reach of earthly beings. It was foolish and desperate to make one another carry such a burden; the balancing act we performed was always destined for failure. That was its inner logic, which we did not have the power to revoke.


The orientation of memory, of mourning, is central to the dynamic of self-imprisonment. Each act is reflected and displaced into something outside itself. Each thought must stand before the tribunal of divine judgment. The mind must be scrupulously inspected. If its contents are deviant or unsound, then it must be ritually purified. For this, one must turn to the pastor, the priest; one must seek forgiveness and absolution before the natural order can be restored.

We believe that somehow - through some profound act of violence - we must get inside. This is the condition of modernity, the misbegotten legacy of God, the Father, creator of heaven and earth, of all that is seen and unseen. For the world to function, there must be something for our creatureliness to emerge from. There must be an Absolute Reality behind the magic show of our passing experience.

Philosophy does not seek to provide an explanation; it aims at confrontation, prepares us to confront the world of experience. This is how its maxims should be carried: as secret weapons, or tools.

To what extent is it necessary to think the contents of our experience? To what extent is it necessary to hold our time in thought?

The mind is a god we should be rid of.

To what extent is it necessary to think the contents of experience - if only to gain access to the meaning of the world? To what extent is logos - rationality - the appropriate method for facilitating this access? (Or is reason merely the violent instrument passed down from generation to generation, newly systematized and refined with each incarnation?)

RItual thought must proceed from an awareness of perspective. It must bear within itself a sensitivity to the openness and criticizability of its own performance. In order to take flight, it must be set free from "consciousness." It must be untethered from the worldly axis of subjectivity, released from the tribunal of judgment (the judgment which comes from the inside and passes sentence).

The key is knowing what needs to be done. (Who's got the key? Gus . . )

The unconscious, too, is something we create.

There is no use in holding on to propositions in the abstract; each act is unique and cannot be repeated. No value can be assigned, for the statement itself cannot be frozen in time and identified. It must be known on the run.

My first political act is to stand my ground, to be my own man. This is accomplished by standing up for what I believe - even if my belief is not explicitly "political" in its content.

Postmodernity is not a matter of saying: Reason up to a certain point, and beyond that - something else. Rather, it is an attempt to show that the Claim of Reason is naught but a lie in which we have imprisoned ourselves. Our departure is not a repudiation of thought, but an antinomian revolt against its sacred principles, a heresy against its alleged right to rule. We cannot return to a time before Reason was worshipped as the supreme law-giving power, but we can cultivate a new, blazing rituality of thought - and in this way rescue thought from Reason's founding myth.

What do you hear when the winds stop blowing?
What is your life divine?
How do you know when you've reached the old bottom?
What runs through your mind?

How will you tell when the lights are in service?
Will you stare up at the sky?
What will you do if the city goes black
Just as quick as you're closing your eye?

Keeping straight in
Times of trouble - was
Never a task
For men. What it wouldn't
Take to retire his number:
Oh, what it wouldn't take.

There are so many rhythms, so many economies to the human spirit. Is all this really our own work?

Someone will say: mind is repression. But here again we are setting ourselves up for disappointment.

Mutiny: A Blueprint for GI Resistance in the 21st Century (an alternative curriculum for soldiers in basic training)

Alternatives to the myth of "job creation": job invention (self-determination and self-management of work; each citizen proposes his own pattern of constructive activity); job negation; etc.

The Nation (national identity, pride, loyalty) has become subconscious. Its allegiances no longer need to be articulated - and yet they are implicated at virtually every level of the public discourse.

Ritual acts: the movements of my life must accord with the transformations of my spiritual physiology. My character must re-create itself in resistance to the solidification of any particular neurosis. Imagination (art, concrete world invention) must overgrow the standpoint of judgment. All power must be consumed in the fires of nonviolent transformation.

The planting of the flag,
The drawing of the line,
The gestures of idolatry,
It happens every time . . .

The problem arises from the idea that thought (i.e. rationality) puts us in a special relation with the objective world; from this follows each phase in the imaginary infrastructure of "mind" - the connection between human nature and reason, the obligation to think in conformity with logic, the obligation to believe (and to defend one's belief with argument), the obligation to speak the truth (to reveal the Word), the obligation to obey divine commandments, etc.

*Revolt against the intellect (as a form of spirituality)

What is the relation between spirituality and writing? Can one cultivate the art of living, while at the same time devoting oneself to a highly disciplined regime of literary work?

Contempt for the female body, disgust, revulsion, fear; resentment against one's mother; revolt against her control over one's own body, behavior. Inability to take pleasure in the woman's form, beauty, appearance. Vilification of her powers, purifying oneself by reference to her evil influence, etc.

Every session since the first visit had been essentially the same. He would come in, sit down in the red leather chair with the high, throne-like backside, and begin describing the misery he felt after she left last August. It was a ritualized torture, which he inflicted on himself while paying for the privilege. If there was any question whether he was mad when he first entered therapy, now there could be no doubt.

There is something more than madness in our continual fleeing from the bonds of human community. The anxiety that wells up in each of us as adults, possesses us, and takes over the direction of our lives, is a force whose origin has been glossed over and mythologized for too long. Every philosophy or theory that tries to reconcile the individual human being to the misery of his isolated existence is merely another tool in the dominance of a sick society over the powers of individual passion, humor, and hope. To create a decent and noble community is not to live with one's head in the clouds, but to insist on the reality of the desires that exist here-and-now in each of us - desires which every feature of the "practical" world seems designed to repress. It is to insist on hope as the natural wellspring of human survival, and even happiness - and to focus one's energy on the only part of our world that is ultimately worth conserving, the part that brings us light and love, joy and laughter, freedom and possibility, and all the wondrous blessings that the forces of hatred would banish to our absent dreams.

What is the creation of an unconscious but an overstepping of the normative bounds established by one's parents, and of the mechanisms of ego-construction in general? It is a process of coming into one's own as a sexual being, allowing one's own desires to rule the day. The unconscious overflows every classification and identity, every cult of personality and ego-ideal. It is always the secretion of an excess, a desire that is not contained by the categories of the dominant world order. By disseminating the symbols of my desire according to my own pleasure, I mark out the contours and curvatures of my own existence, and free myself from all exercises of self-enslavement through self-identification.

Our task is to determine the ways in which the moral and spiritual economy of psychoanalysis is in fact an extension of the regime of subjectivity inherited by Christianity (decipherment, knowledge, prohibition).

It is only men who believe in unconscious sexual "drives" that saturate all experience. The image of rationality as a system of rules and principles superimposed onto the substratum of these "drives" is an expression of the social forms arising from patriarchy - the forms of male dominance, in which male desire is held as a mysterious, unexplainable force underlying the whole system of practice (the "given" substance). Women, on the other hand, and sexually abnormal men, are more apt to recognize eros as part of the intelligible world, sexual energy as present in the materiality of life itself, part of the substance of immediate experience.

What would be the point of understanding human life as one elaborate mating ritual? What would have to be assumed about the place of sexuality in human culture? (Would there not have to be some reference back to a metaphysics of libido, orgone, or some other substratum of desire?)

Life is a flood that remains forever unconscious: an unimaginable flux of experience, a lightning storm. The emergence of consciousness is the beginning of the origination of Law, the establishment of the standpoint of knowing what one is doing. Against this violence of knowing and accounting there is science - the science of experience, of opening each door of thought and moving from passage to passage. This is a life of no rank, no position, no claim of place or standing; it is the life of a creature with no identity, no class, no holdings, no dimensions.

The problem is not that the social order represses our instinctive impulses - but that it expresses them according to a particular pattern, regulates them through the enforcement of a complex logic, which through its very operation renders them invisible and mysterious. Through the development of erotic arts, these impulses are restored to the natural order and made perceptible through the active performance of an erotic culture - a culture of desire and pleasure.

Intellectual conscience persists only by way of a hypostatization of language, a conversion of the soul into a separate realm of Law, obligation, and belief. (It is the consciousness of a system of credit, a scorekeeper's consciousness, abstract economic consciousness, consciousness of the judge.)

The founding violence of capitalism is the impulse of self-contraction that leads to the formation of a private subjectivity. By holding on to one's own desires, a private economy is formed, and life is consolidated into a personal calculus of credit and debt. Desires become my desires, fixed quantities within this calculus; my person is invested with a phantasmic presence, a reified force or possession that serves as the grid of my self-activity.

The storm, it swam me,
Through and through
Over cliffs and hills
And edges of despair
Wasted to a desert of myself,
Feed for the fearing vultures,
Raised up into great
Fathomless rocks of distress,
And back into pits,
Between jagged and forgotten passages,
Until, alone, I consume myself,
And tearing away all the rudiments,
Reap the half-rotted fruits
Of yesterday's dream

The fluctuations of sexual energy are evident in the ordinary facial expressions and bodily movements of human beings absorbed in daily life - if only we had the courage to look.

To what extent is beauty built into the material structure of the world? To what extent is it comprehensible (reproducible?) through a quantitative analysis of material arrangements?

The problem with not-thinking is its tendency to reproduce the forms and limitations of existing social orders. By thinking one apprehends the normalcies of existing life and places them in an order of self-creation. (At this level, pure thought is intrinsically utopian.) One gives oneself the opportunity to master these norms and overcome them, to identify them and by identifying them assert one's freedom over their influence.

But here it is a question of orienting oneself - and not of producing world-historical transformations.

Dividing up the world
According to your fears
That's what you're bound to do
When you get on in years

Music, dream, utopia. Music is a ticket into the instantaneous power of conversion. The conversion of the world into a dream, the restoration of immediacy. All the potentials of natural playfulness are released in the moment of musical creation; all the energies of utopian desire are returned to the sensuality of immediate experience.

A fool is astonished by his own power.

Fame is essential to the structure of subjectivity in this age of total surveillance. Every channel of possibility is a conduit for our desire to be exposed, recognized, known, evaluated.

Revolutionary science, science as un pratique de soi: Observation of material forms is already an experiment, already a manifestation of revolutionary desire. Science is already the creation of a path; its discoveries are erotic arrows of affirmation; its assertions are movements of positive life. To call this an attainment of human nature (i.e. an exercise of natural human capacities) does not impugn the underlying genius, which after all is unaccountable. If "attainment of human nature" is simply the name one gives to the work of finding a congenial rhythm - then let it not advertise itself as something more than this. (Metaphysical pretensions, etc.) Let it be revealed as one man's fate - and let the fate of others be left to their own trials.

Is there any way of standing before my self, of examining where I stand, without asking the question of how to live, without setting the stage for a moment of decision? - It would seem that the notion of "self" must be discarded. But what is left then is not a way of thinking that is "social" or "collective". (Shall it be a thinking of the in-between, of love, of power and desire, of autochthonous and subterranean forces without name? Or shall it be mere performance - and another rolling of the dice of authenticity?)

If subjectivity is torment and self-enslavement, the multitude creates itself through the production of polyamorous pleasures. It is the imagination of different ways of loving, the casual, collective discovery of new patterns of desire and satisfaction, that catalyzes the alchemical effervescence of social revolution.

The question is whether taboos, norms, laws will inevitably arise from the rhythms of common human activity. If the limitations that currently govern our lives are unconscious, we think that the solution is to make them conscious - to take control of their constitution and become their sui generis authors. But what then is left of the individual, with his desire for an absolute expression of his personal autonomy? Must he align his self-expression with the creation of these common habits - or is it possible to design a community in which no structure is imposed beyond the imaginative interweaving of individual paths?

If science is an erotic absorption in the warp of sensation and action (let us not be confused; it is the same warp), then knowledge is a diremption of the sensual flux of science, and a violent, cataclysmic eruption of power-identification. Knowledge is the violent black hole of consciousness. Science (or "experience") is the kaleidoscopic color and pleasure of life.

We feel that an act of violence would have to take place in order for the individual to penetrate into the realm of the "social." Some founding sacrifice or primordial plunge would be needed to actualize, to sanctify, the relations between self and others.

Fear is the dominant disposition of life in our society. A person "grows up" (i.e. comes into his own) and enters a state of constant warfare with himself and those around him - at home, at school, at work, etc. The wall that separates him from his fellow men is also the wall that keeps him from his pleasure. A life locked inside one's self, hygienically sealed from the uncertain forces of desire and contingency, is both a dull life and a life cut off from all the sources of real human satisfaction.

How to make thought pleasurable? Or - must pleasure be mindless?

Our challenge is not to defend a regime of civilization by subjecting its powerful enemies to norms of justice, but to create an erotic circuitry that makes it impossible for any system of enforcement to be constructed.

Most people do not seem to have any sense of justice. They have a sense of normalcy, and if new habits and expectations were formed on a large social scale, they would abide by them. But justice is not found in conformity to a just order.

The struggle for moral perfection and self-overcoming has always been the most profound crucible of human imagination. To disparage all conscience as a form of imprisonment, self-rule, or personal cowardice is to refuse the very task that defines the basic problem of living. It is to deny the experience of living - as a problem that one must confront in every moment of critical decision.

What is modern philosophy but an affirmation of the anti-social impulses that define life under capitalism? What are its sources but fear, instability, and the solipsistic anxiety of a species turned violently against itself? Is there no escape from this nauseating prison? Are the faithless destined to wallow forever in the dark?

The self - with its architecture of normative statuses and its founding impulses of envy and anxiety - is fundamentally an institution of death and domination. It grasps at the world and claims whole territories as its own. It moves through human society like a traveling meat-trap, waiting hungrily to seize enemies and consume them in its death-grip. All captures form a collection - a museum or mausoleum upon which the self inscribes its own name, written in dark capital letters above the central gate.

In crude forms of Marxism, one finds the most naive metaphysics - a mystical materialism, belief in an ultimate nature of reality, talk of "converting the material into the ideal," etc. In Hegel, one finds the reverse motif - treating "the ideal" (i.e. Geist) as equivalent with "the Real." (McDowell combines these two mysticisms by returning to the claim that the material world itself is conceptual, that reality presents itself to our senses in legible form.)

By treating someone (i.e. a human being) as a subject, we are saying that he will be counted on, and held accountable, in a way that the rest of nature will not.

The philosophical ideal of self-knowledge, as expressed by contemporary followers of Kant, is an aping of the pious believer who prostrates himself before Divine Law. All the basic terms of this conceptual formation refer to a structure (of subjectivity) that no longer exists - belief, judgment, sensory perception, action, knowledge. These are concepts that are no longer relevant to the living of my life; they shed no light onto anything I experience along my path.

What is needed, now, is a new form of economic self-organization, a new model for the production and engineering of livelihoods. Labor unions were created as a means of enabling productive workers to fight against the capitalist bosses. The forces of production already existed, and the capitalist ownership structure was already in place; what workers needed was a way to free themselves from slavery. Now, in the United States, there is an urgent need to create new techniques of production - which means that the social forms of management must also be created anew.

The desire of ritual is to control the daily rhythms. When one loses rhythm, one also loses meat, mojo.

Has philosophy since the rise of post-Christian metaphysics been a search for the animating substance of the universe, a quest for the inner power that keeps the bodies of intelligent beings in motion?

Technique, technology, techne: a political art or physics, a dynamic investigation into bodily forms of self-mutation. A science that is at the same time an art of living. A material science of self-transformation. A practice that is simultaneously science and conscience.

There can be no doubt that the emotional patterns handed down from the parents are a guide to the impulses and ambitions that appear in the life of the child. One way to get a prima facie sense of where a man is headed is to take a look at the biography of his father. The same structures, the same directions, the same victories and defeats will reappear. It is only by unburdening himself of the decoded meaning of these correlations that a man begins take care of himself as a free agent.

The whole registry of the subject offered up by post-Kantian analytic philosophy forms an elaborate mythology of reason with no bearing on the lives of ordinary humans striving for freedom and happiness. It is a mythology presided over by the legal accountant of the soul, the doxastic auditor of knowledge - a role for which the academic philosopher has been rigorously groomed.

The obligation to think; the obligation to believe; the obligation to speak the truth; the obligation to confess.

In dream, the meaning of one's experience is concealed in symbols. The body creates a simulation in which the fears and compulsions arising from one's character are dispersed, multiplied, infused, confused.

I am not a "subject" that must open itself to "sensory content" in order to gain access to "reality." I am an animal whose very existence is conditioned by a constant immersion in the flux of sensory stimulation.

There must be a scientific attempt to grasp the historical forces of one's present political moment. The mode of experience that makes this possible is attained by opening oneself to the dreamlike animation of everyday events. One must become a tuning fork able to pick up the political frequencies vibrating throughout society. One must become an experimental archaeologist of the political unconscious.

What must the philosopher conceal from himself in order to carry on with his work? Is it not his biography, his personality - the idiosyncratic habits and character-structures that guide his conscience and ignite his will to speak? What would the philosopher be without the myth that his questioning originates in a pure will-to-knowledge? Would he not be - just another featherless biped?

The basic physiological impulses of life reveal themselves at the moment of emergence from dream-consciousness. It is through these rudimentary movements of energy that the essential creative force of a character (and of a culture) can be discerned.

The scientific attitude of disinterested natural observation must be brought to bear on the events and structures of everyday life (within "our own" culture). The forms, processes, and affiliations that constitute our active lifeworld must be engaged from an orientation of open criticism and responsibility. The practical operations of collective life must be illuminated with the full power and intelligence of our sensory perception. We must break down the divisions between practical and theoretical understanding, psychological and social analysis, and relate to every aspect of life as an expression of our deepest creative desires.

To analyze any content of the world, revealed to sensory experience, is always to trace the form of the subjectivity which perceives that content. This does not mean that there is no "external" contact with reality, but that all of our thought is equally "objective" - and equally subject to criticism.

Overcoming the imprisonment of one's desires by parental authority also means overcoming the idea of oneself as the product of abstract parental influences (i.e. overcoming the abstract concepts of psychoanalysis). Psychoanalysis, in this respect, is less the antidote to religion than a substitute for it. "Father" and "Mother" are still identified as the ultimate sources and progenitors of one's character; their role as such has merely been transferred from the supernatural to the social plane.

A restructuring of the human character according to the principles of sex-economy is desirable only if human beings desire it. The need to mobilize political will behind particular social initiatives does not go away simply because the natural (i.e. biological) structure of the orgasm has been uncovered. Indeed, this uncovering does not exempt us from the need to make moral determinations about what to do, nor does it provide a criterion for measuring the quality of these determinations sub specie aeternitatis. Even if I make the necessary adjustments in my sex-economic orientation, is there not still the question of what I will do in each new situation? (And does this question not make its own demand in each case - a demand that must be addressed in its own terms, and perhaps without reference to sex-economic considerations?)

changed August 22, 2013