Time Rolls On

Here are some new things: I have an article out on the silence of the pyramids in Hegel, in Excursions: An Interdisciplinary Journal; I’m organizing a panel on Bataille at the ACLA; and I recently finished my project on water, below:

September

Desist, desist:
There is no allaying
the sunset,
to destine this crumbling palace,
Palestrinian resonance, elsewhere.
Din, din,
the aura that what
arrives leaves hazed,
a hazed shaded sound
light in the depth of glass,
dim, dim,
till there, naught,
and no one nor zero,
but an echo: the dwindling given,
the coming and going
goes without you
or your aid.
And why should it not?
What might be a silhouette
but to fade?

Bach: Two Studies

Here’s a couple of meditations on Bach, and a short essay that attempts to explain the thought process behind them. Thanks for listening, as always.

 

Listen

abandon all hope ye
and shut up
all our gods, in wayward beauty line,
Sanguinis Domini,
the abbatoir silent autumn
of pusillanimous chatter, toward
the inane, forge of rebirth and redeath:
the violence and the redolent
echo and echo and echo
the fossils and diluvium
the piss of episstemology:
to be drunk till full, and confused
and old, and uninterested in it

 

On the Arachne Myth: The Writing of Spiders

…her hair, touched by the poison, fell off, and with it both nose and ears; and the head shrank up; her whole body also was small; the slender fingers clung to her side as legs; the rest was belly. Still from this she ever spins a thread; and now, as a spider, she exercises her old-time weaver-art.
Ovid (1971: 299)

The spider produces the symbolic act of writing by turning back on itself in a monstrous coupling.
Catherine Clément (1975: 25)

Minerva[1] descends to confront the famed weaver Arachne, a girl who would contend with the gods. Disguised as an old woman, Minerva implores the mortal to humble herself, to ask for forgiveness and, Arachne, in hubris, refuses. “Let her but strive with me” (Ovid, 1971: 291). In response, throwing aside her disguise, the goddess presents herself to the young weaver, and offended, accepts her challenge. Minerva weaves a tapestry with the twelve heavenly gods adorning its center, royal and full, bordered by a wreath of olive branches—and in the four corners, scenes of mortal failures to challenge the rule of the gods. Arachne’s tapestry depicts, within borders of flowers and ivy, without any one dominant figure, scenes of celestial dishonesty: gods masquerading as mortals and animals, changing their forms, impregnating women, giving false gifts. The goddess’s tapestry is beautiful, but not even Envy himself can find fault with Arachne’s work (Ovid, 1971: 297). Minerva, however, while forced to acknowledge her opponent’s supremacy in weaving, becomes indignant, destroys Arachne’s tapestry, and strikes her. Unable to live in the shadow of such a scattered and empty victory, which comes at the price of losing her work, Arachne hangs herself; but Minerva takes “pity” on her and, rather than let her die, transforms her, with a poison,[2] into a spider. “Live on, indeed, wicked girl, but hang thou still; and let this same doom of punishment (that thou mayst fear for future times as well) be declared upon thy race, even to remote posterity” (Ovid, 1971: 297). Accursed, henceforth Arachne weaves in the dark corners of the world, unable to finish her work, unable to take pride in it, unable to practice her craft save in the service of her basest drives, out of the sight of others. In short, Arachne’s curse is to become unreadable. However, in thus damning her, does not Minerva confirm the prescience of Arachne’s tapestry, bringing its horrible beauty to life?

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The Non-representational Character of Unconscious Phantasy in Kleinian Psychoanalysis

Phantasy comes from light, φῶς, its etymological root. Those things that appear in light, φαίνεσθαι, that, in other words, are projected in and by it, figured and disfigured by it, split in two ways. First, there are those things that are comprehensible, legible, and ordered in a consciousness (those things that appear according to a logos), which end up in the méconnaissances of phenomenology. What does not submit to discourse and understanding, however, what precedes, lacks, or exceeds its logic, merely appears as phantasy.

This doesn’t clarify much, except perhaps a certain obscurity, which is why phantasy is such a difficult concept—that is, if one can grasp it in a concept at all. Nonetheless, for psychoanalysis, phantasy is as important as it is hard to define. The idea of phantasy was in fact so contentious that, in 1940’s London, an entirely psychoanalytic school of thought had to be created in part just to account for its consequences.[1] And although it is no longer considered to be a particularly controversial issue, there is still no consensus on the exact role of phantasy in psychoanalytic theory. Thus here, far from saying anything definitive, I will merely attempt to trace one particular lineage of the ‘concept’ of phantasy through its development in (Sigmund) Freud and its interpretation and modification (becoming “unconscious phantasy”) by Melanie Klein and Susan Isaacs.

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Why There Are No Stars In Baudelaire

“Baudelaire’s abyss is starless…”
Walter Benjamin[1]

The light that obscures Baudelaire’s poetry is one that eluded him, and yet one that he could not fail to see. Its diffusion opens reading to darkness. There the Platonic sun is a myth, as is the world seen in the light of its good. The light neither burns nor shines, but lingers, distorted: a poetics of the afterglow, then[2]—of a light no longer to clear the opaque, to enlighten, to blossom in a photo-synthetic dialectic, resolving the darkness that turns against it. The chiaroscuro between the good light and opaque matter, the evil that resists it, no longer obtains. The morality play of good and evil reflected in specular metaphor, between light and darkness, day and night, sun and cave, work and prodigality, is itself doubled along the mirror’s edge that created it, put en abîme so that the opposition between good and evil is revealed to be already a reflection of the good, so that evil no longer therefore opposes the light, but issues from its redundancy. This light illumines the darkness not by clearing it away, but by suffusing with it in a cold modern lamplight, or in the gulf illumined by it of a shopwindow’s reflction where “tout est abîme,[3].

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