Sunday, May 29, 2005

Marks and Stuff

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 Critique of Pure Passion

(For those who are confused, I will post a longer explanation of what the Critique of Pure Passion is, and how it works, next weekend. I hadn't expected it to interest me as much as it does.)

I want to draw our attention first to those "marks" [Merkmale], by which I mean (though I'm not sure if this is what Kant meant) first and foremost written signs, words, the stuff of poems.

Second, note that a subject is taken with stuff just as objects are given to us: "subject" replaces "object", "taken" replaces "given", and "stuff" replaces "us". Generally, "people" replaces "things", but in this case there's this sort of general "we" entity in Kant that needs a just as vague "you know what I'm talking about" sort of designator. So I chose "stuff".

Intuition, for Kant, denotes the sense in which things are given to us to be known. For me, institution denotes the motive by which people are taken with stuff in their power.

Institutions are specific ways of being "caught up in" in historical activity, just as intuitions are specific ways of being "set before" the world's facticity.

Kant does not do much with the role of the "us" in his Critique, even though (as Heidegger showed?) it is probably in this very "us" that the "categories" are born.

But we must not forget the order implicit in the stuff we are so taken with. It moves us, constituting our motives. We are always moving--the roll of the us in the motion of stuff.

Contrary to various esoteric doctrines, stuff does not just respond to our desires, and I think emotion is structured by the tension between our capacity for motion (motility) and the difficulty of moving stuff around (immobility). This tension is the proper theme of poetry.

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