northanger (northanger) wrote,

art of the libidinal

世阿弥 元清

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#3383-KOYAMA ~ #6866-KUKAI ~ #21014-DAISHI ~ #5454-KOJIKI ~ #10223-ZASHIKIWARASHI ~ #8946-YOSHIMITSU ~ #4157-IZU

This is again a remarkable piece of contrarianism. Usually, social critics (like Stuart Ewen) attack capitalism for colonizing leisure, and for soliciting artificial desires; while defenders of capitalism (like Virginia Postrel) indignantly reject these charges, and insist that the market gives us everything we truly want. But Schumpeter has the perversity to celebrate capitalism precisely for its creation of artificial “new wants,” and for its commodification of leisure time. [+]

Now, as Haldane readily conceded, it is clear that not every desire has an objective correlate: for example, the human desire to fly must remain, for the moment at least, unsatisfied. Thus Lewis is forced to argue that the desire for existential completion is in some sense a 'natural' rather than an 'artificial' desire, that it is innate rather than acquired, spontaneously-occurring rather than cultivated, non-eliminable rather than eliminable. [+]

Hungry for intellectual reasons-to-be-cheerful, CCRU simultaneously renounce postmodernism's wan fatalism (the idea that we're at the end of everything) and the guilt-wracked impotence of the Left. In the process, they've jettisoned the concept of “alienation” in both its Marxist and Freudian senses. They speak approvingly of “surplus value,” sublimation and commodity-fetishism as creative tendencies. Where “Cyberpositive” noted how how runaway capitalism had accessed “inconceivable alienations,” CCRU's collectively written essay “Swarmachines” goes further and climaxes with the boast: “alienated and loving it.” The idea, says Fisher, comes from a mix-and-blend of Lyotard and Blade Runner—“the proletariat as this synthetic class, and revolution that's on the side of the synthetic and artificial. The concept of ‘alienation’ depends on the notion that there's some authentic essence lost through the development of capitalism. But according to Barker, everything's already synthetic.” If reality really is a bio-mechanical, geocosmic continuum, there's no reason to resist capitalism’s escalating dynamic of anti-naturalism: addiction to hyper-stimulus, the creation of artificial desires. [+]

The idea that advertising creates artificial desires rests on a profound ignorance of human nature, on the hazy feeling that there existed some halcyon era of noble savages with purely natural needs, on romantic claptrap first promulgated by Rousseau and kept alive in institutions well isolated from the marketplace. [+]

Alongside drug addiction, pornography serves as one of Burroughs’ chief examples of a control process. Pornography assumes a privileged position in Burroughs’ cut-up texts because it exemplifies the process he calls “image addiction”, exposing the mechanisms by which desire is simultaneously artificialized and channelled. [+]

So where is the build-up of information and of more complex networks and exchange protocols taking us? This article argues that we cannot even fully conceptualise this question; and this is where we come to the work of Jean-François Lyotard. [+]

(snips from Lyotard and the Political by James Williams)

But Zeami's semiotics seem to be passed through, sometimes thwarted, by a quite different impluse, a pulsionnal drive, a search for intensity, a desire for power ... Signs are then no longer taken in their representative dimension. They do not even represent Nothingness. They do not represent, they allow 'actions'. They function like transformers that consume natural and social energies in order to produce affects of great intensity. (DP: 92)

Active passivity, in the sense of a strategy designed to let things affect one unconsciously, is a logical conclusion of the drift away from the subject and from systematic control. In the libidinal Lyotard, passivity is an essential part of politics and morality, understood as a way of living.

So any opposition between the positions sketched above does not lie with the will as such. It lies with the privileging of the will, defined in terms of representation, desire and organic needs, as the source of increases in power. Lyotard, Deleuze and Foucault do not deny that there are such things as decisions and that these decisions can be defined in part in terms of something that makes the decision. What they do deny is that this decision is wholly explicable in terms of free will, that this something is in full possession of any part of itself when it makes a decision, or that the proper goal of the decision in terms of power is directly to take possession of something that has been represented. So they do not fall into a performative contradiction of the form 'I deny that there is a subject'. It is rather that they say 'There is something more than the subject in all of its actions. That something cannot be approached through representation and consciousness. So it cannot be willed. Yet power lies in that something.' Thus the philosophy of passivity is not straightforwardly nihilistic, since it affirms power. Neither is it straightforwardly self-contradictory, since it does not deny the possibility of actions that have been decided upon; it is just that those actions only approach power obliquely.

But how is this power known, if not by representation? How are oblique actions to be guaranteed, and hence guaranteed against nihilism, if not by the direct representation of goals or values? These questions challenge Lyotard to explain why his philosophy is not the simple paradox of an anti-theory and why it is not reduced to a position where no decision is possible in the face of an indistinct chaos. The first question has been answered in the previous chapter through the idea of dissimulation. The belief that theory and representation are governed by a law of either/or (either theory, reprsentation, consciousness or pure sensation, pure intensity) is a false one; instead it is a question of both/and (theory dissimulates intensity and intensity dissimulates theory). The second question is more difficult. What exactly is passive activity? How does it avoid nihilism in practice? More precisely, why does it not fall prey to the return of nihilistic forces? Is it possible to put forward a politics that can resist capitalism without falling back into resistance as pure negation?


In the collection of essays that prepares the way for Libidinal Economy, Des Dispositifs pulsionnels, Lyotard tries to answer these question in the context of modern art. He defines modern art as an active passivity that breaks with the tradition of representation. But more than this, he begins to write about art as governed by dissimulation, as defined in Libidinal Economy: all art is both representative and intense. The question is how to create in response to art forms and materials so as to exploit that dissimulation to the full: "so all those calculations, the painter's measurements, the formations of tense rules and habits, the actor's training, are not there to show their futility, as Western nihilists believe. They are there to make possible what Zeami calls the wonderful flower and its evanescence, that is, the effect of the most strange emotion in an instant that cannot be located' (DP:223). How can we maximise intensity in structures that are also open to a response in terms of further structures and representations?

I determine six ideas (dialectical, critical, indifference, position, theology and expression, affirmation) within which I distributed all my thoughts in the form of items.

Lyotard describes the passive creative proces that works through Libidinal Economy thus:

we are [this book's] effect, pushed aside, and to do this, there are a few moments, a dozen moments ... an idea on fire, an image, the smell of a tear gas grenade or an intolerable denial of justice, a face, a book, a tensor sign we had to act on, conducting it and letting it course through a few quick pages, rapidly arranging words into sentences and paragraphs, so that this heat and its chill, this force, may pass through. (LE: 260)

What distinguished the work form others is his attempt to bring this way of thinking and writing into philosophy. It is another reason why Libidinal Economy is an important book. It is rare not only in professing passivity as the way out of the death of the subject, but also in taking the risk of acting it out as philosophy:

Stop confusing servitude with dependence. We would like a book of complete dependence: these pieces of the ephemeral patchwork would be composed and added to the body, the fingertips, all over the sheets; and these formulations would, for a moment, make us dependent upon them. (LE: 261)

Lyotard learnt much from Cézanne, Cage, Zeami, Delaunay and Monory about the ways in which we can allow intensities to flow through works as well as undermine and renew structures.

Zeami, who brought the art of the Noh theater to perfection, wrote in works such as Fushi Kaden and Kakyo that hana — flowe — was the life of Noh. NOTE 26 The aesthetic of hana is one of the symbiosis of heterogeneous elements, of disparate moods or feelings. In Fushi Kaden Zeami instructs the actor who portrays a demon to perform in an enjoyable way, combining the qualities of frightfulness and enjoyment. In the role of an old man, the actor should don the mask and costume of an old person and portray and old man while still possessing the Flower." NOTE 27 When one performs Noh during the day, he tells us, he must act with the dark energy of night inside himself. Zeami's aesthetic is a characteristically Japanese one of symbiosis that has much in common with the original meaning of wabi. I invented the term hanasuki because I am convinced that Zeami's aesthetic of the flower is identical with the true meaning of wabi. [+]
Tags: izu, kanji, libidinal, lyotard, noh, zeami
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