Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Dream interpretation, An excessive preoccupation with content; Part 3 of Freud and the Scene of Writing

"Give me your money and I'll tell you things you want to know about yourself little by little."

Derrida finds Freud as a breaking with many traditional schemes of classical philosophy. In the last post we found it in reestablishing "originality" as something that's contingent upon difference. In a prior post to that it was the questioning of the metaphor itself as the machine process that makes writing itself possible. As we continue on in the text, Derrida finds Freud's greatest break with traditional philosophy in his criticism or deference to dream interpretation. If I have choosen this theme specifically within the text to elaborate on, then it probably resonates with me as did certain texts of Freud's upon Derrida. What resonates is what one writes about, and the subject of dream interpretation in general resonates with me loudly in terms of Freud's "breakthrough" on it. This post will not simply be an elaboration on this specific Derrida text, but an emphasis on the ambiguity that Freud throws into dream interpretation. Why would this resonate with me? It resonates with me for reasons that would easily make this writing space into a "blog", which to be sure, it is. But as I admit that this is unfortunately a "blog", I obviously admit it with a sense of dejection. This dejection gives me the luxury of being able to write regardless of the the problems I have with "blogs". Yes, a luxury I seek in guilt. What I can do, is state as quickly as possible the reason why throwing dream interpretation into ambiguity is something that I really love and resonates with me: Because it's an easy way for someone to interpret their life...too easy. And as that one statement goes, it will go no further, and the elaboration will begin on this text with the thought in mind that a personality will inevitably have it's say in a piece of writing.

Derrida states "God, the Egyptians believed, had made man a gift of writing just as he inspired dreams. Interpreters, like dreams themselves then had only to draw upon the curiological or tropological storehouse". Dreams were given to man by God. It had to have been the case for Egyptian antiquity that these dreams were for us if they were given to us by something like a God. Because of this luxury that God bestowed to the Egyptians, there were the "job-openings" for interpreters of these dreams. Surely, everyone could believe in what the interpreter had to say if they believed that dreams could be interpreted in the first place; The curiosity and temptation of man to see what was happening to him when they were not thinking, when they were dreaming. This would lead us to the real truth, the real purity. Afterall, God had given them to us, so it was just matter of a sage being able to interpret what was being reported in a dream. There was a storehouse for interpreting what was being reported, an archive of signs that represented these "original signs" in a dream. Tropological, because it would seriously be considered as a practice to interpret figurative meanings as being literal; Curiological, because everything being reported was using Egyptian Hieroglyphics to represent the things and sounds that were being reported. "They would readily find their the key to dreams, which they would then pretend to divine". Interpreters of dreams who were held in esteem because the idea that God had given man dreams to easily be interpreted had keys to these dreams, ways of taking what was being reported as a dream and turning it into something else, into something that the "wanter of dream knowledge" wanted it to be turned into. The interpreters would come as sources of divination and would be held in esteem for the ease of being able to interpret the reports of a dream. Freud states "if a man dreams of a dragon, the Interpreter assured him it signified majesty; if of a serpent, a disease, a viper, money; frogs, impostors." Here was the key to interpretation. The taking of something being reported by one person to another person held in esteem because of their power to consult a "stored house" of significations that could easily be transposed into to a super-meaning. This super-meaning would have greater significance than the writing in the dream, of the psyche operating on it's own without a need for transcription until the idea of dreams meaning more than their own operation, where God was seen as giving dreams to men, and where God gave the keys to certain people to use other significations to attribute super-meanings to these "original" significations of the dream. Freud states "Their customers would look to find a known analogy, become venerable by long application to mysterious wisdom, for the groundwork of their deciphering; and the Decipherers themselves would as naturally fly to some confessed authority, to support their pretended Science. But what ground or authority could this be, if not the mysterious learning of symbolic characters?" Freud will have no problem calling those who went to dream interpreters, customers. Their customers, already ahead of time, would be looking for a known analogy, a transcription from one place to another. From the original meaning, de-privileged, to the super-meaning that would give them the presence, the purity of what they were seeking, the divine word of God would bestow itself to the interpreter for the customer. The customers would believe in what was being given to them as the word of God by repetition. Those who wanted their dreams interpreted would allow themselves to be guided by "long applications" of "mysterious wisdom". Long applications; the duration of a dream interpretation session, the semblance that work was going on, work that the interpreter was doing that would bring the customer to the idea of what the true meaning of their dream was. Long applications; the repetition of sessions that would fully embody a trust in the customer that the length of the session would first enable. Mysterious wisdom; a knowledge, an intuition, that was only meant for certain people to understand. It wasn't for everyone. It was only those with the divine trust of God where people were found who could speak the word of God through other peoples dreams. But even those who were given the divine trust of God; they would "naturally fly" to a confessed authority in support of their science. So then, the interpreters weren't intuiting the meaning of dreams during their sessions, during their work. They were "naturally flying" to another authority, deferring their ostensible authority to another authority, where they would stop and accept this authority. Was this how a dream session would occur? Would this be how the dream session would work? The customer would come into the dream session, tell the interpreter of dreams about their own dreams, and then the interpreter would go to another "confessed authority" to do their work. Were dream interpreters references upon references? Was their work like a living lexicon? If so, how could there be lengthy sessions if the interpreter was merely a reference to another lexicon? How could they convince their customers to trust them if they appeared to only be consulting other texts when doing their work? "The Egyptian priests, the first interpreters of dreams, took their rules from the species of divination, from their symbolic riddling, in which they were so deeply read: A ground of interpretation which would give the strongest credit to the Art; and equally satisfy the diviner and the Consulted: for by this time it was generally believed that their Gods have given them hieroglyphic writing. So that nothing was more natural than to imagine that these Gods, who in their opinion gave dreams likewise, had employed the same mode of expression in both revelations. " The interpreters were seen as being deeply read. So on command, when given the picture or representation being reported in a dream by the customer, by the consulted, they would have at their disposal a "deep reading" of "symbolic riddling". Interpreters were deeply read on riddles. They would tell customers "riddles". They were used to telling customers riddles, and learned to be good at telling riddles to their customers. The length of a session then can be inferred as the telling of riddles to a customer which the customer found appropriate, which would keep the customer coming back for more. If you told the customer exactly everything they wanted to hear in one second, not only would the work of the interpreter be extinguished, but the customer would be dissatisfied. Even as God gave dreams to man and interpreters to man in order to interpret mans dreams, certainly it couldn't be the case that it was as easy as seconds to be able to interpret a dream. Instead, there would be lengthy sessions where no clear cut answer were ever given to the customer, where the customer instead would be told riddles that would vaguely signify a meaning to their dream. And this wasn't just the riddling of the interpreter, the riddling that they were so "well read" on, but it was the riddling of the customer who actually didn't want to be told the immediate truth of their dreams. Instead, meaning had to be surrounded by a long riddling process, that always would be deferred to another session. Both the interpreter and customer were satisfied. The Customer kept coming back for more and satisfying the interpreter, and the interpreter kept deferring the meaning of their dreams, not-so-ironically to the satisfaction of the customer. But beyond this, how important is the idea of God giving man not just dreams, but hieroglyphic writing? This was the grounding stabilizer of the dream interpretation session. Gods gave man dreams. It was only appropriate that if God was going to be this accommodating to man, that the Gods also "employed the same mode of expression in both revelations". If when I dream I see pictures, and dreams were given to me by Gods, then it has to be the case that the interpretations happen in the same mode of expression, in this case, the pictoral graphic, the hieroglyphic. The Egyptians didn't have Descartes. They didn't have someone saying that it was possible for the Gods to deceive them. The God's superseded reason, they superseded whatever "experience" was in Egyptian antiquity, because personal experience wasn't privileged as form of authority for "reality". Instead all authority was giving to invisible divination. It wasn't personal. Authority was open to everyone not through their own personal experiences, but through going to dream interpretation sessions where they would be told their meaning by someone else who was chosen by God to refer to another authority. For interpreters weren't the Gods themselves, but arbiters of his word, by referring to a text, a text that is not accounted for as being self-referencing to it's own authority.
"It's here that the Freudian break occurs". What is this break? "He makes of psychical writing so originary a production that the writing we believe to be designated by the proper sense of a word-a script which is coded and visible in the world-would only be the metaphor of psychical writing.". In the statements made above, the underlying sentiment was that what was "written to psyche" was not graphic, written, or hieroglyphic, but something even more original than these modes of expression. The use of pictures and eventually words to represent a dream were metaphors, meaning a difference from an originality that Freud thought enveloped the psyche. A metaphor is only in the world, and by this, Freud wants to designate dreams as happening outside of the world. And because they operated outside the world, no interpretation inside the world could account for what a dream was about, let alone how it would be possible for dreams to happen in the first place. Many breaks happen here actually. First, Gods are no longer privileged as the arbiters of truth or the word, the "psyche" is. The psyche, specifically in a dream, is something different from what any interpreter could represent it as, in this case, hieroglyphics. The interpretation itself is a metaphor for something that was original. Being stated as "original", it naturally earns for itself a privileged place over any signifiers that were always going back to some originality in order to understand this originality. The signifiers, the hieroglyphics, were only at the service of "originality". Signifiers are "visible in the world". They are literally "hard-coded". The visibility of interpretation, of the metaphor, strips itself of the authority to be the original mise en scene of the dreamer. Visibility takes away the authority it wants to understand what it wants to understand, the invisible (Merleau-Ponty). What is this primary writing of the psyche that Freud privileges, which inevitably de-privileges the signifiers that want it to mean it's originality, its invisibility? "It works, no doubt, with a mass of elements which have been codified in the course of an individual or collective history. But in its operations, lexicon, and syntax a purely idiomatic residue is irreducible and is made to bear the burden of interpretation in the communication between unconsciousnesses." There are a "mass of elements" that have been "codified" to individuals and to their collective history (I.E. a collective unconscious. Again, as an open question, what is the difference between this Freudian pyschologistic concept of a collective unconscious and Husserl's Transcendental Ego?) but the way in which the operation happens to this individual and collective history is "purely idiomatic" and henceforth, irreducible. Additionally, and for our case, most importantly, this operation that can't be represented but by a "contaminated metaphor" is nonetheless made to bear the burden of a "contaminated metaphor". For us to be able to communicate to each other, about our dreams, we have no choice but in being able to use the metaphor in our communication. "No meaningful material or prerequisite text exists which he might simply use". By "rights" of the irreducibility of "psychic writing", there is nothing in the psyche that could represent itself. Only by always deferring to a metaphor can interpreters have their lengthy sessions of riddling. This is the limitation of the Traumbuch (the Dreambook). "As much as it is a function of the generality and the rigidity of the code, this limitation is a function of an excessive preoccupation with content, and an insufficient concern for relations, locations, processes, and differences". Does content here mean anything else other than an immediate understanding? A word, maybe 2 or 3 words, that signify to the customer that the images that they had dreamed of had an immediate meaning that would nonetheless take a lengthy session to reveal. What is my dream about? What does it represent? These are the questions the customer puts to the interpreter which satisfies both. This is an "excessive preoccupation with content". But what about the context of the dragon? Where was the dragon? What was next to him, even if it was empty space? How did it first come onto the scene as a focal point? Why was the dragon the focal point of the dream and not the cloud in which it hovered over? When a dream is remembered, how come none of the context is of any importance? Why is there an "insufficient concern for relations, locations, processes, and differences?" According to Freud, to put it briefly, because customers wanted to be riddled with immediate meanings by interpreters who could provide these sessions. There was a demand for this satisfaction enjoyed by both the customer and interpreter. In Freud's own words, "I, on the contrary, am prepared to find that the same piece of content may conceal a different meaning when it occurs in various people or in various contexts". And so herein lies the "Freudian break" with classical philosophy. No longer was anything to be found immediately with reference to an authority that itself had to defer it's authority ad infinitum. Instead, content's depended on contexts, and different people. This isn't just a break with "classical" dream interpretation, but a break with how thinking would happen: To no longer look at the possibility of an immediate truth, but to look at all the circumstances that surrounded this initial desire that privileged a presence, that privileged one thing in a dream. Herein is the place not only where dreams become more ambiguous, but reality becomes more ambiguous. And because both dream interpretation and philosophy are not so easily defined, this doesn't stop an interpretation of dreams nor an interpretation of reality. It simply doesn't make it so easy as referring to some Dreambook to interpret your reality and dreams for you.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Rethinking Originality; Part 2 of Freud and the Scene of Writing

In the last post, thoughts were conveyed about the meaning of a text in general regarding where and how it operates. At the end of it, there was some conclusion in the idea of it being a place of waiting for inscription. As Derrida moves on through the works, and thought of Freud in this text, he comes up against the problem of genesis, specifically the genesis of a text. Some preliminary remarks though before we approach the problem of genesis through Derrida and Freud as the genesis of a text. There's always a difficulty in reading Derrida, not just because literally reading him is the mental equivalent on chopping down trees for 18 hours a day. The difficulty lies in him requiring us to have read all the texts he has read in order for us to fully participate in his reading. I can't emphasize this full participation enough. Derrida doesn't say that you have to read the texts he has read to understand him, but it sure would help. He has been criticized for this, but it was never Derrida's intention to be considered a "serious philosopher" by some "philosophical community". At least I don't think that could have been his intention if he was going to require the reader to have read everything he has read before from entering into his text. Nonetheless, his popularity has come from a faithfulness in style that I think that was borne out of readings of Husserl. The idea of accounting for consciousness precisely is a style that I think severely influenced Derrida. Without going into the biographical notes on why this would be the case (E.G. studying at the Husserl archives for as long as he did) I think it carried over into the way he thought. For Derrida, how could he think about an author and his text if he had not read everything by that author? How could he account for all the proper names he wanted to use without reading everything by that author? Certainly he was interested in the way others thought, but he didn't think he could write on it in any "official" way without knowing the whole text(s) of an author. Eventually, I think Derrida came to see the impossibility of ever knowing the entire corpus of an author, and ever fully understanding it which led to his public polemics against the stabilization of authors by biographies and his insistence on the "genuine" thinker being one who "rigorously" extracted as much out of a small portion of a text rather than someone who could name drop. If this was his idea of "narcissistic reappropration then I think the idea succeeded in a very tremendous way for readers of Derrida. I think anyone who reads Derrida more than once, and keeps coming back to him, is addicted to the fact of never having a "pure" authority of what they are speaking on. Eventually though, when one has read enough of Derrida I think they are reading a sort of working encyclopedia of philosophy. "Working" because he approaches philosophers in a very different way than a "Story of Western Philosophy" that was always going to be the tendency of an anglo-saxon writer and one finds this most obvious in Bertrand Russel; A beginning and end to philosophy which listed authors in historical order, explained their ideas, and judged their ideas. Derrida was the last person who would ever attempt this. Instead, an author was given his due by detail examinations of their texts and quotes, a close read if you will. Really close read.

Derrida works with authors, in authors. He does his best to assume their mindset, and after a certain amount of time reading Derrida, a reader can easily come to trust his interpretations. Still though, there's never a full trust. When he interprets, and we haven't read what he interprets, we have an instinct to want to go to the texts he's referencing not simply to "fact-check" Derrida, but to understand the text on its own terms before going onto Derrida's interpretation. There's really two options here. One can read everything Derrida read before reading Derrida (which I think is almost impossible) or one will have to take Derrida at his word during an explanation of a text and then maybe go back afterwords to that text. I know I have that impulse when reading this specific text on Freud. I haven't read Freud's Project for a Scientific Psychology but now feel that I'm going to have to, along with every other text that Freud hasn't written. If anything, when one reads Derrida, they are overcome by how much more reading that have to do. One either accepts this somewhat begrudgingly, or criticizes him for subtly asking this of us. If Derrida's interpretations didn't seem so precise (in the way that Searle didn't find his interpretation of J.L. Austin's How to do Things with Words as being "correct") then one would probably have a feeling of "skipping" Derrida after a certain amount of texts. I for one don't find this at all. Personally my trust in Derrida was confirmed with his reading of Husserl. After reading Husserl for a good 2 years of my life, I didn't think there was a way to go deeper into his thought, and this wasn't simply confirmed by the amount of time and energy I put into Husserl because of the love I had for Phenomenological thought, but because of the weakness of the secondary texts I had read on Husserl, especially those "Introductions to Phenomenology" that were really bad. They were just too simple and had a focus towards perceptive phenomenology rather than a phenomenology that didn't operate soley under the guise of vision. If Phenomenology was Merleau-Ponty, then I probably wouldn't have so much of a problem with these introductions. It was with this in mind that my skepticism towards interpretations of Husserl beyond Husserl's own thought was laid to rest by Derrida, and why I will continue to read him, still begrudgingly though because of how much more reading is ahead of me if I want to be faithful to others when in use for my own thought. So it's something to bear in mind before approaching Derrida. You have to let him have the authors the way he sees them because he's earned it. With this in mind, I think I have exercised some of my anxiety with Derrida's reading of others, to understand Derrida. I simply accept it.

But the title of this post is "Rethinking Originality" and before the anxiety of trusting an author came flying through my consciousness, I stated how the text moves onto the problem of genesis, specifically the problem of genesis of a text, in general. Obviously, "Originality" and "Text" have are related in some way. How does this happen through "Freud and the Scene of Writing"? "It is the very idea of a first time which becomes enigmatic. What we are advancing here does not seem to contradict what Freud will say further on: 'Facilitation is probably the result of a single passage of a large quantity'". What is enigmatic about a first time as originality, as genesis? "For repetition does not happen to an initial impression; its possibility is already there, in the resistance offered the first time by psychical neurons". The idea of a primal impression, this phenomenological idea, is not something that just arrives to a "consciousness". The process isn't streamlined in one swoop. An initial impression can already happen again even before it's "initiality". I can experience something for the first time, but wasn't it already the case that I was going to experience whatever it was that I experienced for the first time? Every time "experience happens", isn't it already the case that "experience is going to happen"? How does this happen? Freud, the early Freud that of the Project for a Scientific Psychology, who operated under making the science of psychology anatomical and physiological refers to "psychical neurons" which offer resistance to life itself. Let's explain this concept a little further. An impression, any impression can hit me but it doesn't "do anything" without a neuronal function that can "do something with it". This "doing something with it" is a resistance to an impression that never was "not going to do anything with it". Freud's psychical neurons don't allow that to happen, unlike the failures of perception that Husserl discuss that never become idealized. Derrida states "Resistance itself is possibly only if the opposition of forces lasts and is repeated at the beginning" and this is where a first time becomes "enigmatic". Firstly, the forces that are in opposition are an impression and the mind, but not just the mind as cogito, not the self-subsistent Cartesian thinking essence, but memory. Consciousness and memory are equivalents here. Memory is the force in which an impression becomes just that, without which the idea of an impression doesn't exist and doesn't happen. Anything can only happen because of memory, because of "the production of the trace as moments of deferring". The trace, as the process of going backwards for seeing a place in which there would be a gap, afterwords where there would be another place. Repetition begins when life and memory contact each other, when memory offers itself to "life" as a resistance. Memory will resist life in it's "purity" by allowing itself to be impressed. Impressionality; the periodicity of the trace, the deferral of life. "Life is already threatened by the origin of the memory which constitutes it, the effraction which it can contain only by repeating it". While life is threatened by memory, the idea of "pure life", it also constitutes it as something to be sought after. When Derrida makes this statement he's implying a teleology not only for metaphysics and philosophy, but for ontology, for Being. Memory, this break with "life", can only be a break if it happens more than once. Memory can only break with the "purity" of what would be a "real-time-life" by repeating itself over and over, by resisting the fact that I can always and already be experiencing something wholly different from myself. Memory breaks "life" by repetition. At the same time, memory constitutes life by repetition. How? Because it enables the "wholly other", the idea of "purity", the "transcendental signified", the ultimate concepts that brings experience into non-differentiation (the religious sublime) . That which is impossible for memory, for Being (Consciousness is memory. Consciousness is the Being of beings. Memory is the Being of beings) is wholly other. The idea of a "present life" can't be established without difference, the difference that pushes one along to think "What about a place with no difference"? Derrida finds it important to mark out where Freud finds a "large passage of quantities" that will be "great breaching happenings" that constitute memory. Freud finds this in pain. "Pain leaves behind it particularly rich breaches". Pain is a great neuronal implication of memory. Freud symbolizes psychological neurons in his early work by symbols that I can't represent here because they aren't on my keyboard. One of these neurons though (to be sure, a symbolic neuron in 1895) is guided by intensity. The neuron capturing an impression as painful has an extra amount of intensity to it making it more of a "facilitation" for the happening of memory. "But beyond a certain quantity, pain, the threatening origin of psyche, must be deferred, like death, for it can ruin psychical organization". Only a certain quantity of pain is allowed into neuronal resistance, enough pain before memory flees away from the scene, remembering why it fled. If memory allowed all the pain in the world without fleeing, it would die. There would be no memory if I had no neuronal impulse to flee if someone was spraying me with a flame sprayer. Remember that old warning sign? "Don't touch to stove!" And if you did, you would remember not to touch it again by the quantity of pain that was endured. What happens though if you keep your hand on the stove? You ruin your "psychical organization". You're no longer being as memory. You are a different being. You are one whose psychical organization doesn't operate by the intensity of a neuron in contact with an impression. B(being) without mind, without neurons, without a sympathetic nervous system. But for Freud, this is not the nervous system. This wouldn't be being as "facilitation's serving the primary function". In other words, Being wouldn't be a function, an operation for itself "under the compulsion of the exigencies of life". How to facilitate these exigencies of life? This "we" don't have to know because our neurons always and already do the work for us. Psychology as Science for Freud was understanding how the primary operation of the mind is to find facilitation's in the face of exigencies. (As a side note; by way of the metaphor of science, was Freud not under the same teleological presuppositions of Rousseau?)

What does this mean for the idea of "Rethinking Originality"? It's to deffer "originality" whenever the concept comes up. It's to deffer the idea of "purity" sought after by western metaphysics and philosophy, not simply as something that is going to be postponed, one fine day (Derrida verbiage), but to see difference as what is "the original happening", thereby making what is "original" enveloped by difference. By the mark of my mind, by the mark of my memory, I trace back periods eternally. The purity of life that I seek, this original "primal impression" that would mark originality is only after a difference whereby I can speculate about what it is to be wholly other than myself, and if this difference always and already wasn't the case, there still wouldn't be originality because there wouldn't be the difference that was necessary to signify something that was "wholly other". My memory constitutes originality. It makes it possible by making it an impossible idea. An idea, as the difference of what a "primal impression" would be without being an idea, without being itself, without being itself as a difference in the semblance of an origin, a genesis. I can only think of an origin. An origin can't happen by itself. An origin is the mind's way of differentiating itself away from itself as difference. It's the very gift of repetition, the very boredom that repetition brings about that makes the memory (those scrupulous neurons firing in the face of repetition) that constitutes what is called "originality". And to be sure, just in case I ever really never wanted to be bored, my neurons would stop this instinct by only allowing a certain quantity of intensity into my psychical organization. My psychical organization that likes to think about "originality", that loves speculating on this fact of the "wholly other" is only allowed by not being in it, by being exactly the difference of it, by constituting it as an idea. The idea, as the difference and the constitution of originality. Who I am, my memory, will always repeat what's happening without myself even knowing that this is happening, and the "originality" that I seek in the coming-to-consciousness of repetition, is nothing other than the difference of myself, the myself that is solely makes "originality" an a difference, because of the gift of repetition.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Derrida Win!

I know I try everything possible to make this blog not a blog, but I couldn't resist putting up this picture. Amazing!

After all this time, teachers at the Portage Community Education Center are postponing meaning in order to show their students that their mental states are always in a state of flux making a general theory of phenomena unachievable.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

What is a Text?; Part 1 of Freud and the Scene of Writing

Every line I read from Derrida always comes across as some type of treasure, writing from a mind that operated with the benefit of knowing all of western philosophy in the deepest way imaginable. Basically, there couldn't have been Derrida without the history of western philosophy, not the history of western philosophy as history, but the style in which it has happened. If style should mean anything specific here I would refer to his concept of the trace meaning not a centered-meaning of what a text (any text; literal, metaphorical, or of le monde) "signifies", but the way in which the author thinks they can write what they write with a sense of stability. And Derrida's intentions are not critical per se, but wanting to open up the style and mode of the author. One would be tempted to say that he operates in trying to understand the author psychologically through his writing which opens up the writing of the author himself, but the history of psychology, like the history of metaphysics, is one with it's own style, and is why he repudiates the fact in this specific text that he's doing a "psychoanalysis of philosophy". Instead, he opens up the author from a point of no authority, which allows his comments on authors to be without judgment. Comments, not judgments. It's with this in mind that I allowed him to interpret Husserl, and why I have continue with this work on Freud.
Now, we have this title from Writing and Difference, called "Freud and the Scene of Writing". Before we dive into the text, what can we think about when just limited to the name of the text itself? For one, Freud is given his proper name. This will be a text on Freud, not about Freud, but on Freud. Then we have the conjunction to the clause "the Scene of Writing". The Scene of Writing. What is a "Scene of Writing". What can we say before we open for ourselves before we open up to the text? There is a scene of writing? Can we picture watching a movie and there then being a scene where writing happens? What would this look like? Would we be in a "primitive" culture where we watch (as observers) a tribe starting to make pictures either in stone or sand? Would this constitute a scene of writing? Is this clause supposed to signify an inception of writing for an anytime, anywhere? Should we even assume that writing is graphic writing as in Egyptian hieroglyphics? And what of Freud? What is Freud doing in the ostensible scene where a writing happens? I offer these preliminary remarks as an opening to an opening. To the possibility that writing doesn't have to be signified as being graphic, meaning an actual symbol, and that Freud has thoughts on this inception that doesn't necessarily operate as an originality, but something that just happens, independent of a conception of time. With this in mind, lets move into where Derrida moves with Freud. Movers and Shakers of writing!
"Freud has recourse to metaphorical models...not subject to a phonetic writing, but from a script which is never subject to, never exterior or posterior to, the spoken word". Metaphor takes on a wild meaning here. It takes on a meaning of metaphor that is not spoken nor written. It's a representation of something independent of typical modes of expression, but nonetheless is a representation of something, that is working on representing something. "Freud invokes signs which do not transcribe living, full speech, master of itself and self-present. In fact, and this will be our problem, Freud does not simply use the metaphor of nonphonetic writing; he does not deem it expedient to manipulate scriptural metaphors for didactic ends...Freud, no doubt, is not manipulating metaphors, if to manipulate a metaphor means to make of the known an allusion to the unknown". So we have an idea in our head of Freud certainly using graphic symbols that do not refer to traditional speech that signifies a specific concept in the moment. For example, I say in the traditional active voice, "This is a book". I'm relegating a happening to a presence. I'm giving someone a presence in this declarative statement. I'm not using the graphic symbols of the writing and/or spoken word here to refer to something other than the idea that I'm presenting you with a state of affairs (this idea is crucial in differentiating between the early and later thought in Wittgenstein). The state of affairs is presence. Freud is not using his non-present metaphor(s) to signify a presence, and Derrida adds that this manipulation is not of traditional metaphysics and phenomenology which is concerned with passive experience and a priori modes of existence. There is no reference to something that could possibly be unknown. No. Freud will use his non-present metaphor(s) without the intention of it signifying a passive experience, an unconscious experience, and most importantly, a past time. Derrida further references the historical fact that "From Plato and Aristotle on, scriptural images have regularly been used to illustrate the relationship between reason and experience, perception and memory. But a certain confidence has never stopped taking its assurance from the meaning of the well-known and familiar term: writing". Philosophy for Derrida, western philosophy, has always been concerned with reason and experience. An extension of this is perception and memory. What is it to perceive something and then recollect it? This is German Idealism into Phenomenology. Reason and Experience travels the Grecian road through the Danube to German idealism and phenomenology. Where has this confidence of explaining absence in terms of a presence come from? Derrida marks it out as writing; this style of (B)being which operates as a sort of never-ending-presence. How is it a never-ending-presence? Lets try to elaborate on this for a moment, in the style of phenomenology. If something happens to me, it can't happen to me again. What happens to me is irreducibly present, and so can't be signified as present. But, I can write down what happened to me. If I was wearing a hat and it flew off my head from heavy winds, I can go to any paper, journal, tablet, and write down "A hat flew off my head". I can forever go back to this piece of writing, read the writing and recall this happening as if it just happened, and this is exactly what I do. I don't read "A hat flew off my head", and then say to myself, "Well, the only reason why I can ascribe to the fact that 'a hat flew off my head' is because I have been giving the technique of writing which allows me to revisit a present that actually isn't present right now, but I think it's present in the presence (moment) of my reading it". I don't have to describe a "history of metaphysics" for me to unconsciously privilege an event as happening the same time in writing as it actually happened to myself. Writing allows for the present to be never-ending without ever having to elaborate on it's algorithm or axioms. This confidence has been given to me not because myself, or Plato, Aristotle, Freud, or Derrida have been "confident people". It's because we didn't know the operation of writing itself, the way in which writing works, and how it means. But Freud breaches the history of western philosophy that "interrupts that assurance and opens up a new kind of question about metaphor, writing and spacing in general". This interruption of the confidence of writing in being able to suppose a presence, by realizing it's function in being able to realize a never-ending-presence is an eruption, a breaching in the history of western philosophy. This is a new "investment" into the metaphor. The Text is becoming something entirely different through Freud. "The structure of the psychical apparatus will be represented by a writing machine". This psychical apparatus that philosophy has tried to understand by applying categories of reason to it, by trying to talk about it in real time, will be given the metaphor of a "writing machine" by Freud. Seems like a simple categorical explanation, an application of a Kantian category upon a priori reason. But with everything said above in regards to this metaphor not representing anything that's absent or passive, this will be a different metaphor for the a "psychical apparatus" that can't be stated in the present, in the sense of a declarative statement. The tone of saying "writing machine" takes on an absolute otherness a traditional way of saying or writing a "writing machine". It's something that's not present to itself. It's a new metaphor not referring to something to you or I could not be enlightened by...right now. "We shall not have to ask if a writing apparatus-for example, the one described in the "Note on the Mystic Writing Pad" is a good metaphor for representing the working of the psyche, but rather what apparatus we must create in order to represent psychical writing; and we shall have to ask what the imitating, projected and liberated in a machine, of something like psychical writing might mean. And not if the psyche is indeed a kind of text, but: what is a text, and what must the psyche be if it can be represented by a text?" The Mystic Writing Pad; the possibility of being transcribed from one place to another, anywhere to anywhere. The Writing Machine that is the Mystic Writing Pad, mystic because it's not yet an expression of graphic or spoken writing, but something that happens to a psyche that we cannot know about except by a metaphor to some writing machine that will forever be an operation of transcription, a taking of something and transcribing it to something else. To simplify with an example; to take "experience" and transcribe it to a concept. We must create this apparatus for our desire to understand this psychical writing. The analogy between psychical writing and Husserl's transcendental logic, to his pure sense is obvious, but the differences in styles are immense (for one reason; Husserl's repudiation of "pure sense" ever being a matter of psychology). A distinction needs to be made now. I stated just above, "We must create this apparatus". Derrida though states that this apparatus "liberates" whatever is other to the psyche. Within the metaphor of "the writing machine", does it have to happen? Is it a matter of it happening or not? Is the writing machine the "liberation" of the psyche in general? These are questions that can't be answered now. What is the psychical writing though? It's a text. But what is a text? If we don't know what a text is, we can't know what one form of it is in the margins of "psychical writing". The metaphor of "the writing machine" is the apparatus we ascribe to a psychical writing that is already a text, already a writing, of its own without yet being transcribed by a writing machine. Derrida asks of us that if we are going to ascribe a metaphor to a psyche that operates on it's own, in it's own specific Freudian manner of writing, of psychical writing, I have to know what writing is. I have to know what a text is. It's something that is eventually going to be described by an apparatus, by a metaphor. That is the apparatus. That is the "Writing Machine". It is the metaphor. It's the transcription of "something" from one place to another. And writing? So far, it's a place in be transcribed, as if it has no other operation than to wait.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Philosophical Detox

So I was talking to a colleague/professor yesterday about possible master's dissertations when he told me I needed to go on a "Philosophical Detox". I asked "Why?" And he said, "Well, I read your post on 'The Myth of Empathy'". I started laughing as he spoke over my laughter saying that I was imposing my own theme onto The Visible and The Invisible. I knew this was the case when I was writing it but I felt justified, but of course the discussion was grounded on the fact that I'm in a time where I'm trying to replicate the faithfulness of Derrida's interpretations to texts. I've admitted in posts later that I was skewing from the ostensible direction of Merleau-Ponty. I don't think that was so much of the problem for my colleague in the peculiar (really ridiculous) graduate school world, but more of a fear of me "losing my mind" in that post. I asked, "Well, isn't that the point?". He said "Maybe...for a time, and not now". Anyways, with the want to not "extinguish myself" before I really will be extinguishing myself, I've been told to take 2 weeks off from reading. Of course I'm not going to do this and only promised 1 week based on the fact that TV sucks and I've hiked almost every mountain in the lower New England region leaving me with nothing to do but to continue to "lose my mind". Looks like I'll be rehashing a musical project for 1 week in hopes of nailing it all down with a friend who's going to provide "beat box" percussion. Should be interesting considering the fact that the music is enveloped by lyrics like "Thrown into what's happening to compensate for everything". My mind is already wandering to what text I want to go into next. Originally I wanted to reread the text of Husserl on the end of philosophy and theory, and I still may in a sort of gesture of honor to his style of writing that I admire. The other 2 texts that I'm going to go into are Derrida's "Freud and the Scene of Writing" in his Writing and Difference and/or a rereading of Swan's Way with an intuition I had of doing a "Phenomenology of Proust". After reading Merleau-Ponty's deference to Proust for phenomenological elaboration, it definitely made me go back to a couple of the 238 stickys I had in Swan's Way and realized just how much his descriptions are phenomenological elucidations. I was especially interested when flipping around the 3 or 4 pages where he describes sitting down in a good 500 words or so. Even the beginning of that book, with the flowing commentary on waking up, specifically the fact of waking up and referencing the fact of having an arm over his head when waking up (implicitly a sign for arms stretching out during a yawn), had me strikingly interested like I had read it for the first time, and I was with a mindset of the after-thought of just reading Merleau-Ponty, and being under a current state of mind that I would call after-phenomenology; where one is not elaborating on one's experience of themselves, but applying a phenomenological mindset to a novel (hermeneutics influenced by phenomenology). It's something I'm eventually going to do with Proust even if I decide to read the Derrida text on "Freud and the Scene of Writing" first. The selections of one of these two ideas/texts are somewhat intentional detours of getting out of pure philosophy for a little while from advice from the [DC!] (technical philosophy if you will). To be sure, it won't, but it will definitely be less "pure" in the sense that it won't be a phenomenological interpretation/exploration on a phenomenological text. One will be a phenomenological mindset entering into the descriptive clouds of a hypochondriac Frenchman, and the other will be a psychoanalytical approach to the origins of writing that criticizes it's own method by an equally hypochondriac Frenchman (The German's got nothing on the French on over-thinking!). Either way, I'm excited as hell to start either....because there's something seriously wrong with me.
I've got a tremendous source of amusement this week from watching this video on Youtube called "Reading and Time". I literally watch this every morning and almost fall off my bed in laughter (again, because there's something wrong with me). I just think it perfectly highlights the anxiety's of the philosophical pursuit in the post-graduate level. The best bit for my ears; "Oh for fucks sake. I don't have time to read Sein und Zeit as a fucking introduction to everything else Heidegger ever fucking wrote."