attempts at living

to make a system out of delusions

Tag: desire

Allometric engineering of desire

You cannot train yourself to successfully and sustainedly unsee and unhear — you do them all the time, but they also fail, repeatedly, and you cheat, repeatedly, in all sorts of small ways. The book mentions that several times. It is absolutely about absolute fidelity to those particular urban protocols, exaggerations or extrapolations of the ones that I think are all around us all the time in the real world; but it’s also about cheating them, and failing them, and playing a little fast and loose, which I think is an inextricable part of such norms.

– China Mieville

The brand exclusion zone legitimises a certain morphology of desire whilst disavowing that which it considers illegitimate. Yet prostitution continues.

The BBC’s own Caesar Flickerman (the interviewer who extracts maximum sentimental affect from the Hunger Games contestants before they face their deaths in the arena) is the creepily tactile trackside interviewer Phil Jones. Jones’s “interviews” with exhausted athletes, are surely as ritualised as any Chinese state broadcast. Emote. Emote again. Emote differently. Praise the crowd.

-Mark Fisher, The London Hunger Games. Here.

A litany of mirages.

‘Be abject, and you will be true’.- Michel Houellebecq.

We are seduced by life no more and no less than the client is seduced by the whore.

Knowing that while her touch is real her shrieks of orgasm are all faked and that, sooner or later, she will be too worn-out and jadded to fuck any more. The whore’s fool, the consumer of cinema or pornography, and the woman who wakes up each morning, enters the automaticity of routines, and cleaves her way either happily or miserably through the day: victims of a willing seduction. All that separates these figures from the schizophrenic who believes himself a Christ is the stress, the tone, the style and the level of commitment to his belief. Show me someone who is not deluded, who does not participate anxiously in the defence of their sustaining delusions, and I will show you the meaning of God. Even the suicidal think the world, or their share in its misery, is of so much worth or importance as to warrant an escape.

Yes, I too am deluded. The heights of lucidity being pathogenic to the organism, it cannot help but want to rid itself of its share of such consciousness. Occasionally I wonder if the study of one’s own automatisms, the study of the political situation of one’s age, meditations or the study of the nature of civilisation or of being itself are not of the same order as fondling a blade of grass, of idling reading the ingredients of a shampoo bottle whilst turning red in a too hot bath.

There is an equality among all human action. An equality that springs from the mystery of their motivations as much as in their contribution to the ultimate futility. We do not know why we do the thing it is we are doing and we know that in the end it will come to nothing. This can be said of the activity of woodlouse or a hypodermic needle as much as of the secretary general of the United Nations or the black bloc anarchist.

Given such an equality maybe everything is reducible to aesthetics, to preference. Yet isn’t this to reproduce fascism, or the consumer choice ideology of late capitalism? Some preferences can be accorded more weight, I think. For the question might become one of crafting our delusions, actively choosing a delerium both for ourselves and our age.

I am torn between a politics contrived as the organisation of rage and a life lived in tranquility. Each is of equal worth as the other in the face of the extinction of all living and all existing. I played a videogame when I was younger, Planescape Torment. In it there was a brothel, a ‘house of chattering whores’, these we prostitutes of culture…conversationalist cunts characters would have hired to discuss philosophies or the price of bread with. I find myself locked into multiple conversations at once.

If I must be deluded let me choose my delusions, those that I can. If I must have obsessions let me enervate my obsessions. If I must be seduced by life at least let me believe in that seduction; let me come playing the role of the perfect naive client, full of sperm and feigning the ignorance of prostitution’s ancient masquerade.

But it’s true that lacking a designer our design is ill suited to the task. It comes on you after a time the organisation of rage and tranquility, upsetting nature and living according to it, are one and the same thing; dischord and order are falsities, delusions that we ought to shed because of their refusal to conform to their identities.

The one who wants tranquility wants it because it is lacking. It remains among the goals of collectivities because of its impossibility. Renounce impossible things? Impossible.

We are creatures of destruction and chaos as much as anything else. What is History if it isn’t the tracing of best-fit trajectories of the induced births and brutal murders of everything up to this exhausted moment. Even the most negligent student of History can point to our tendency to break with our own tranquility.

The Stoic philosophy wasn’t one of the slave’s consigned resignation but the very organisation of his rage. It forms a moment in a tradition that has felt and not just known that we are drawn towards tranquility, to peace, to solicitude, to love and always find havoc, collapse, fury and abjection.

‘A tranquil existence is intolerable to us’, said a certain horror writer. Did he mean that it was unbearable? That we would go out of our way to erect tragedies and to launch ourselves headlong into the various quests for Redemption? I don’t think so. I think he meant that we are incapable of enduring it. Or maybe the ambiguous interplay of these two attitudes. We can’t tolerate it in a physiological, organic sense…

Yet we aren’t special in any of this. No ecology ever maintains homeostasis or equalibrium. The entropy of the universe itself writes in the undoing of delusion, of the sustaining illusions that constitute the materials of our reasons for living.

We haven’t even begun to take seriously the purposelessness of nature, and therefore of ourselves. Within this purposelessness all suffering appears as purposeless as well. Imagine a psychiatry or a medicine based on these priniciples? Yet how to go on like that when, against all the evidence, we must go on.

So if we must, we must cultivate our delusions. We must grow rich fields of idiopathic illusions to sustain and nourish our stupid existence. Finally, we must admit that it is these illusions and delusions that constitute our sole experience of reality.

If we are passive victims of a seduction that we nevertheless participate in then let us at least choose what outfit the whore is to wear. If you want to know how to choose…I can’t tell you. How would I know? And why should I care? And if you don’t realise that is the question I have just answered then yours is a stronger delusional conviction than mine.

When we speak of delusions we speak of beliefs. In an exhausted age the difference between them is psychiatry and fashion. It is sane to have no delusions; fashionable to have no beliefs. At least, that is the popular belief of the age.

I am lost for how to end this piece. I have written a mirage of a manifesto. I suppose I should end by reminding whoever reads this that I also believe in truth, in the facts of science, in the materiality of ideas and aeroplanes, in the irreducible equality between human beings (politically) and between all things wrenched into existence (ontologically). I desire no bloodshed. If I’m wrong, I’m wrong. A corpse doesn’t worry about making mistakes.

No man is a ward unto himself

Life is a hospital in which every patient is possessed by the desire of changing his bed. One would prefer to suffer near the fire, and another is certain he would get well if he were by the window. – Baudelaire.

It is easy to detect here the haughtiness of a spiritual aristocrat who has realised the folly and absurdity of the majority of our unfortunate species. But that would be a misreading. Baudelaire doesn’t say that life is like a hospital or that human beings treat it as such. He says that it is such. Should we risk ontologising metaphors? Is the hyperbole of lyricism warranted? Where would that lead us? Only to the stupefying recognition that this is the condition of our life. Indifference to sex, to revolution, to history and utopia may always elude us. If you find yourself in hospital you better learn to make demands of the doctors and nurses, or take control of your own pain relief, otherwise you might well find yourself hacked up by lunatic surgeons.

Baudelaire isn’t taking pot-shots at the stupidity of people, but merely is expressing a resignation that desire is never finally vanquished.

To renounce doubt

What is your name?
Nameless wildness
– Heinrich Suso of Cologne (Brethren of the Free Spirit)

the visitors come in
and there is a lot of talk
about what x. did or didn’t do
and whether lunch was good
the nurses treat you right
and smiles and voices
you wouldn’t speak to a child in
and
there is so much love in those
moments
love or some dutiful shadow
that apes the original so well
you can’t see the stitches
holding it together and i feel
like
an idiot
when my eyes are saying something
that my mouth is too afraid to speak
what if i’m wrong again
as i’ve been wrong before
i’ve done awful things before now
as you say you have
are we here for the long-stay
or merely visiting
I want to get lost in the uncharted
forests of your being and make a fire
in the clearing
to be at home in the wilderness
and speak the language
of those giant Sequoia
trees
and one day i will be x.
and one day x. will be me
its the same
either way

contact

i dreamed
of her
last night

a pale
imitation
of what
might be
fantasy

i hope harder
that this contact
is as real
as the slap
of hand on

flesh
or lips

on lips

intimacy-possibility-time

I read the book she has lent to me; Conditions of Love: the philosophy of intimacy. Violin and acoustic guitar slowly rise from the damp earth of silence. I am thinking of today and of tomorrow. My mind wants me to think about the months to come and to the time provisionally scheduled for her taking leave of this small, modest city. I don’t want to think about these things. I find myself for the first time in a long time unwilling to confront the impermanence of things. Everything is temporary, for how long have I been fond of saying this? And now it isn’t that I want our time in that same damp earth, broken only by the sounds of flesh and minds extending out to one another and by the immediate laughter and demands of her child, to be eternal or endless. Simply, I can’t conceive of such an ending. I find myself refusing to believe in such an ending.

I remember crouching in her garden alone in the night, composing a poem to the stars about their distance and their destiny, speculating on how many might already be dead. I remember telling myself to keep hold of the line: we’d be miracles were we not accidents. I betray these thoughts when, inevitably, images of her are aroused in my imagination; when suddenly everything appears right and just and full with necessity. What new illusions am I happily cultivating? What new joys might they pierce through the arid parts of this indifferent earth?

Here I am. This vanishing singularity. A precarious and fragile system. The meaning of intimacy: showing to the other one’s fragility, one’s catastrophe, the wounds of one’s tiny history and the offering of these wounds as the wellspring from which some beautiful music might emerge. To be a passionate but unhurried duet in a world of mournful solos and the terrifying grandiosity of symphonies. The music of the two instruments submerged in each other, trying to find a rhythm and a pitch. And I imagine her dancing to that melody, any dissonance offering the chance for an innovation in how we might move together.

I don’t love this woman, let’s not get carried away. Our duet is young in its composition. But what dance might it generate? We met one night by accident, under conditions dictated by separate (if not finally separable) trajectories. The conditions of love? I don’t know… but the conditions of its possibility?

Finished typing, I return to the book. It’s covers are smooth and cold in my hands. I will read for a few more hours. I will sleep and dream and rise and go to university where I will talk and learn and teach and…I will be waiting for the hour when she sends me that text: F. is asleep, you can come to my place whenever you want.

And she will show me her fragility.We will show

one another.

Candle glow.

Cold of night.

Music.

All music.

the bad point

The past refuses its status. Over the telephone it begs for explanations. I’ve been there before myself but there isn’t any dignity in this. The same looping conversations. The same answers for the same questions. She wants to know a new thing: how could I move on so quickly (the time since already longer than we were together for), how could I give this stranger a chance when I couldn’t give it to her. There is no good answer but I give the only one I can.

And I fear for a moment that this is my bad point that L. has been looking for: that I destroyed a young woman. But I remember I didn’t destroy her. It just didn’t work, the timing was all wrong. I was a broken thing then, still hurting from other situations. I am no monster and she is no victim.

My mind turns again to tomorrow. I will allow nothing to ruin this feeling. I really like this woman who is in love with my arms. I must rein myself in, not jump ahead, let flow what will flow. But I like her. And perhaps it is a terrible crime; that I want her more already than I did this past that refuses to let go.

Is it such a sin to leave behind those you cannot love?

Is it so wicked to explore someone you one day might?

But rein it in.

Rein it in.

Everything is new here.

The past can sleep.

Music for an electricity

As the bodies of lovers desperately grasp one another, the desperation of their embrace is borne of this beyond, trying to reach this beyond of the real behind the sensuous, yet without ever being able to do so. This is why the love making of lovers oscillates between aggressivity where it is almost as if there is a desire to rip the other apart to find within them this withdrawn real object and the tender as if the real, due to its fragility, its perpetual precariousness of disappearing behind sensuous qualities and objects, must be delicately cared for to be sustained if only in its glance.

– Levi Bryant

Last Night

Man has no permanent and unchangeable I. Every thought, every mood, every desire, every sensation, says “I”.

– G.I Gurdjieff/P.D Ouspensky, In search of the miraculous

In a fit of madness I’ve let some meatspace friends see this blog. Hopefully they’ll consign it to some vacant car park in their minds. A strange night all in all. Singing, dancing, poetry and tears. Still, once again I feel and- forgetting that its an illusion (who cares if it is?)- the world unfolds gently towards me with the promise of good things. I push the crimes and the sins of the past into a battered old Ford Escort, stress showing from several not very careful owners, and push it towards the water. As it sinks I am able to smile. Last night was someone else’s Last Night…today someone else stands happily in his place.

yes

Something good is happening. The addiction to living kicks. An intoxication. Let’s not dwell or think too far. Tonight I am a yea-sayer. Tonight I taunt the lepers dwelling in the caverns of my mind; the ghoulish things can sleep. Let’s not ask how long for, let’s just be glad the sun is tinted with something living. Desire washes everything a happier colour…I breath and feel my lungs fill. Perhaps this will be snapped away in a day, a week, a month or so. Perhaps…who cares for contingency when everything is contingent… a ceaseless accident that at times delivers an experience that makes you believe it all might be worth it.