Friday, May 27, 2005


"Notational irregularities are often the first
sign of philosophical errors."
Bertrand Russell

Two quick corrections to earlier posts. It is important to transpose all terms correctly to preserve harmony. On the other hand, imperfections of notation here may be the way the light gets in.

In "Decency", I had written.

"Intense concepts make us able to articulate desire; we become capable of saying how we feel."

I meant:

"Intense emotions make us able to articulate desire; we become capable of saying how we feel."

"The Critique of Pure Passion?" was a rough sketch. I have polished it a bit:
Institution is that through which power is immediately related to subjects, and to which all feeling is directed as an end. But institution finds its moment only in so far as the subject is taken with stuff. This, again, is only possible in so far as the mind is affective in a certain way. The capacity for imposing representations through the mode in which we are affective subjects, is called motility. Subjects are taken with stuff with the aim of motility, and it alone yields us institutions; they are felt through overbearance, and from this overbearance emotions arise. But all feeling must, either directly, or indirectly by way of certain marks, relate ultimately to institutions, and therefore, as far as stuff is concerned, to motility, because in no other way can a subject be taken with stuff. The effect of a subject upon the faculty of representation, so far as we are affected by it, is called motivation. That institution which is in relation to the subject through motivation, is entitled normative. The undetermined subject of a normative institution is called a surface.

I find it quite illuminating.


Thomas said...

". . .a mass of detail
to interrelate a new ground, difficulty;
an assonance, a homologue
triple piled
pulling the disparate together to clarify
and compress"

Well, the surface functions here like the appearance in the Critique of Pure Reason, which is what you see before you know what you're looking at.

The surface is what you do before you master what you're pushing against.

The surface is the ambivalent ("undetermined") subject of institution. It is the "who" of experience before I have decided who I am.

(Appearances are the "what" of an experience before it has been discovered what it is.)

I wonder if the surface is not the specific locus of Keats' "negative capability" (and whether the appearance must not then, homologically, be understood as the locus of a positive receptivity.)

The surface does not act ON anything, we push against the surface (that's the sort of beast it is.)

"We know nothing. . .
beyond our own coplexities."


Yes, I am reading Paterson. . .
it's like coming home.

Thomas said...

Well, I don't think we should get too sublime about mastery. It takes a while to learn how to eat with a knife and fork, but we get the hang of it. Before that, however, like the first time we pick up a knife, there is only our negative capability in its presence, as it lies in our hands, eludes the grasp of our fingers, etc. I think that's the sort of thing I'm trying to get at here. True, we don't ever "really master" our experiences. There is always an opening of some kind. But the surface is there to be touched.

There should probably be a poet's variant of Socratic humility. That is, poetry is not "about" mastery (power) just as philosophy is not about knowledge. Poetry is about, or better, it addresses the undetermined subject of power.