Beauty as Brutality

by rsbakker

Aphorism of the Day: All we have is surprise and the question. Only these make the infinite plain because only these make ignorance visible.

Aphorism of the Day II: Earwa, like Biblical Israel, smells of balls.

So I’ve posted what will be the final version of “Four Revelations” on the site. It feels much, much tighter to me now. The non sequiturs feel pregnant with meaning. The flashbacks all feel like they’ve been torn from greater narratives. The parallels between the flashbacks and the present strike some odd and allusive semantic notes. The language feels fresh, the images raw. For me anyway. I’ve also injected a note of imperial condescension into the Nonman’s observations – something I might expand in subsequent tinkering.

This is precisely the way I work with novels, though typically I find myself streamlining the language, paring the lyricism back, unlike here. I run through it, take some time, then run through it again, killing the lame and looking for alternate opportunities. When I think about writing, I literally think about rewriting: this is where it begins to feel like sculpture to me, like a non-linear exercise, when I have a blob of meaning already given that I can shape and detail.

Of course it’s all in my head. Everything I’m discussing here exists nowhere but in my head (and perhaps not even there!), which really shows both the presumption and the risk that underwrites all creative writing: to assume that these things happening here will also happen out there, in the heads of others. That’s what makes this an indulgent piece, and from a brute marketing standpoint, probably the worst one I could have chosen as my first Atrocity Tale!

But I’m happy with it. Earwa is where brutality goes to be beautiful, and insofar as “Four Revelations” continues the examination of this paradox, I’m happy with it. For those of you who think it… just… is… ‘brutal,’ You got me all wrong! This story literally leaps across the line that I force all the novels to walk – intentionally so.

On a different note, I’ve opened a small kiosk in the Speculative Fragments section called “Adventures in Recent Continental Thought”  for the hard core philosophy wankers out there. A lot has happened in the last ten years, and I’ve finally grown curious enough to check it all out. Academic philosophy underwent a radical split around the turn of the 20th century, with ‘Hegel fatigue’ and the new logic inspiring a number of German and English thinkers to abandon the 19th century preoccupation with Idealism, and to take a second-order linguistic approach to philosophical problems, while others on the Continent decided to only wipe part of the blackboard clean, and to continue the original Kantian project with an eye to the priority of examing appearances as they appear, and life as it is lived. The Analytic/Continental divide in philosophy was born, and having attended a PhD program evenly split between the two, I can tell you first hand that it was so radical that parties from either camp literally could not understand each other.

The fact that no one in the real world could understand either of them didn’t seem to make much of an impression (beyond a kind of condescending defensiveness). Nor did the fact that they often couldn’t understand themselves. But then philosophy is where languages are birthed just to watch them die. In present Continental Thought, there’s a huge attempt to go ‘backward,’ to free philosophy from Kant’s critical bottleneck, and to return to the ancient work of Metaphysics. In certain circles, it is cool to be ‘Cartesian’ once again. 

If you can see past the jargon it’s quite interesting, but as far as I can tell it lacks the obvious genius of some individual figure to provide the cohesive framework of implicit or explicit consensus to survive long as ‘movement.’ Viewed for a certain institutional distance, the key to the success of any Continental philosophical movement seems to be the provision of some kind of wholesale perjorative label, the ‘Problematic Ontological Assumption’ that has bottled all other philosophy in a blind alley. This is the most efficient way to accomplish two central goals: explain why it is you have won the magical philosophy lottery and hook impressionable grad students hungry to stake new ground. The new POA turns of ‘Correlation,’ the way post-Kantian philosophy are all philosophies of ‘access.’ At this point, I don’t think Correlation has the mileage a POA needs to keep a movement going, but the rules of philosophical contagion have radically changed – in just ten years, no less. I find it interesting the way the proliferation of so many philosophy blogs has the effect of displaying how much philosophical transformation is driven by good old fashioned social competition.

But anyway, if you’re into these sort of things, and your jargon tolerance is epic, I’ll be posting my impressions and evaluations as I read on. I begin with a partially tongue-in-cheek critique of the ‘philosophical book,’ then consider Francois Laruelle’s ‘non-philosophy’ philosophy, ending with the invention of something called ‘Rhapsophy,’ as philosophy’s ‘other other.’

Three Pound Brain remains, as ever, the crossroads between incompatible empires.