Re: language: a plea for tolerance!

Daniel Carter (abz@INCH.COM)
Mon, 21 Oct 1996 14:25:04 -0400

Steve Krause wrote (in part):

>bell hooks, "Postmodern Blackness;" great essay, and here's a nice passage,
>me thinks...
>"The overall impact of postmodernism is that many other groups now share
>with black folks a sense of deep alienation, despair, uncertainty, loss of
>sense of grounding even if it is not informed by shared circumstance" (514)

yes yes, write on!

>>I said, "I sometimes feel that all theory aspires to the condition of
>>>>gibberish." A literary allusion, actually, to Pater's "All art aspires
>>to the >>condition of music."

I would simply say that sometimes theory *is* poetry (or poetic prose, or
prose poetry); in fact, one of the most significant poetries of our times
because it sows seeds that would utterly transform/transmute societal
reality in the direction of radical (real) freedom/anarchism (anarchism
(free association) in the best sense of the word(s)), a life of Play (no
one will seriously believe that Play is inferior to so-called Work in the
area of _healthful_ productivity, will they? yes, it is a matter of how we
define our terms so let us feel joyously free to define freely and divinel
whatever that might be for each of us, even if we're Atheists. after all it
is our "lives and being" that we are defining, re-defining, un-defining,
refusing to define, and/or, allowing others to define.

>Stanley Aronowitz and Henry A. Giroux, _Postmodern Education_; This is one
>of the ways they define postmodernism I found especially clear and useful
>for me:

>... Postmodernism points to solidarity, community, and compassion as
>essential >aspects of how we develop and understand the capacities we have
>for >experiencing the world and ourselves in a meaningful way. More
>specifically, >postmodernism offers a series of referents for rethinking
>how we are >constituted as subjects within a rapidly changing set of
>political, social, and >cultural conditions (117).

yes, again. especially the solidarity, community, and compassion part.
might seem un-hip but those three words are at the heart of the whole
everything as far as human beings on the planet are concerned and our free
enlightened contemplation of them shall have surprisingly wonderful effects
on us all and the planet. sound too New Age? what if it's true? ...that
such a far-reaching thing comes right out of pomo? if I'm not mistaken many
pomo folks, like scientists and mathematicians are humble in the sense that
they seldom make such claims; certainly not to the public. correct me if
I'm wrong.

>Here's Derrida from "Differance" (as it appears in Kaumf's _Derrida
>Reader_). I personally think it has an interesting poetic quality,
>considering the subject matter-- wish I knew what it sounded like in the
>original French...
>What is written as diff=E9rance, then, will be the playing movement that
>"produces"-by means of something that is not simply an activity-these
>diff=E9rance that produces differences is somehow before them, in a simple
>and unmodified-in-different-present. Diff=E9rance is the nonfull, nonsimpl=
>structured and differentiating origin of differences. Thus, the name
>origin no longer suits it. (64)

yep, everything scintillating, oscillating, iridescent, in glorious play.
we are often too bashful for our own good. understandable though, given
what we have to go through. we're challenged to sing dance and play our own
Blues, not hand-me-down ones even though they have been instrumental in
sparking/inspiring/catapulting us. we might take some fire from the
Hardcore Punk movement of the late late seventies and the early early
eighties (think I got the dates at least almost right). their history and
their present set them ablaze, the result being that they, mere kids, were
major innovators of 20th century music, though, tragically, they so seldom,
if ever, get that kind of credit/respect. this is largely because the
academy and consrvatories are myopic and even blind too often, thus
throwing our youth to the wolves precisely when they are possessed by
genius of the most radical kind, degree, and magnitude. it has been our
loss just as much, if not more than, the kids' loss. not to mention that
some of us were those kids and at heart still are except we feel we have to
cover up so darn much of the time in order to be "realistc practical adult
and mature". at what cost. was it really worth it? at least we have pomo,
even and especially in academia, as a way to that fire. they (the kids) ran
with it (the fire handed to them -- also withheld from them; they grabbed
it anyway, even more passionately and determined -- by their times) and so
has Derrida run with what was "given and withheld". it's quite
invigorating/unsettling like real life and its unlimited potential just
waiting for us to unlock/unleash it. many of us don't want to face the
wonder that

>Foucault is one of my favs-- I'd especially recommend "The Discourse on
>Language." Here's a quote from _The Archaeology of Knowledge_, which is
>clearer in some places than others (IMO), but which is filled with
>beautiful and profound passages:
>We must renounce all those themes whose function is to ensure the infinite
>continuity of discourse and its secret presence to itself in the interplay
>of a constantly recurring absence. We must be ready to receive every
>moment of discourse in its sudden irruption; in that punctuality in which
>it appears, and in the temporal dispersion that enables it to be repeated,
>known, forgotten, transformed, utterly erased . . . Discourse must not be
>referred to the distant presence of the origin, but treated as and when it
>occurs (25).

wonderful inspiration for a free improviser, and isn't that what we're all
being called to be? yes, I admit; this much enthusiasm certainly is
dangerous and rousing, but please do tell me the viable alternatives, given
the so-called reality we face in this world "of ours". hope the edge is
useful and not merely...

>Baudrillard to me is a real hoot-- perhaps read best as a
>poet/comic/performance artist as well as a theorist. I think _America_
>(which I guess I'd call theory) is a pretty cool and "accessible" book,
>another example of "beauty;" this is from the beginning of _Simulacra and
>Simulation_, which is the U. Mich. collection of essays:
>Whereas representation attempts to absorb simulation by interpreting it as
>a false representation, simulation envelops the whole edifice of
>representation itself as simulacrum.
>Such would be the successive phases of the image:
>it is the reflection of a profound reality;
>it masks and denatures a profound reality;
>it masks the absence of a profound reality;
>it has no relation to any reality whatsoever; it is its own pure
>simulacrum >(6).
>And I could probably go on, probably, just as I'm sure you could go on
>finding some more "ugly" quotes. Like I said, I'm not sure "stacking up"
>these passages and seeing which pile is most weighty is very useful. But I
>thought I'd go ahead and at least provide some examples of what I mean by
>theory that seems "beautiful" to me.

soon I must be out the door, as it were, but must say that all the examples
you've given are music to my ears body mind heart spirit and soul. this is
where its really at, not that I would ever want to smooth over the ills;
the good and the bad taken together make an even more rollicking and
stimulating journey and tale thereof.