Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Eternal Return CCIII {The Urge to Punish} (watercolor and mixed media on card stock

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Eternal Return CCIII {The Urge to Punish}

Where are the decadent poets who curse at the stars? (Journal Post)

[From November 8, 2008]

I need a program, both for my life and for my philosophy. I feel as though I am getting caught in a certain mediocrity in both areas. I know, in part, why this is, at least for philosophy. There are two factors: 1. I have spent so much time working on my dissertation proposal that most of my philosophical efforts have been in the area of Nietzsche’s epistemology and it is difficult to see how I might have time in the next few years to pursue my other interests. 2. My coursework is such that I am spread so thin that I cannot focus on any single text or problem. I feel all over the place, like I can’t concentrate. Even as I sit here my mind wanders to and fro without a mooring. Next semester after I defend my proposal I intend to spend half of my productive day working on my dissertation, but I also plan to spend the other half of my productive day reading outside my area, outside Nietzsche in both Continental and analytic philosophy, thinking about problems that interest me and expanding my knowledge beyond the narrow realm of my Nietzsche specialty.

bridge wine tempranillo
Me by the Duero River in Peñafiel, Spain
In my broader life, I feel trapped. The women I've been meeting for dates bore me and try to get me to fall in love with them, and the people who I have considered my friends I find insipid, dull, weak, and completely caught up in norms and values that I want no part in. Why is and why has it always been so hard for me to find, make, and keep friends? I find myself despising people. I only seem to like people I date until I can fuck them, and then when they demand too much of my time, I completely lose interest. Part of me just wants to completely lose myself in my studies, discovering everything there is to know about art, culture, and philosophy and just forget about developing relationships with people whom I know I will either let down or they will let me down. I’m not afraid of betrayal. Rather, I am just afraid of not being interested or interesting and of being disgusted or bored to tears. Where are the irreverent, angry, non-conforming decadents who want to compete with one another and build each other up, create new ways of thinking, don't give a fuck about prudish bourgeois mores, write poetry, and who end every evening with by cursing at the stars or by taking someone home. Why is everyone in search of love? Where is the search for an unconventional, non-conforming greatness of character? I'm still looking.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Eternal Return CCII {Larval Becoming} (watercolor and mixed media on card stock)

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Eternal Return CCII {Larval Becoming}

How Capitalism Organizes Our Desires (Journal Post)

[From October 30, 2008]

I’ve been feeling pretty off lately, both philosophically and in life in general. I’ve been thinking about it quite a lot, but I can’t quite put my finger on just what it is that I’m thinking (or not thinking) and feeling (or not feeling). For one, I feel completely uncreative, and I feel like I have absolutely nothing to say; I feel like I’m becoming more and more stupid, incapable of insight or expression. Maybe it’s not stupidity though; perhaps it’s a lack of things to think about, things to say. Perhaps I’ve allowed the world to be too transparent, too unproblematic, for too long. Sometimes things seem so obvious to me that I stop wondering about them. Or maybe it is that my cynicism about political change, moral improvement, and cultural flourishing has greatly limited the scope of what I even think to care about. 
Espana Holy toledo
Puente de San Martín, Toledo, Spain
Why should art matter? Or better, why does art matter to me? Why do I read fiction? Why do I care about who the next President of the United States is? I’m reading One-Dimensional Man by Marcuse right now, and it just seems naïve. Marcuse argues that the form of instrumental rationality of developed capitalism completely determines our form of life and desires such that all opposition to the (oppressive) system is taken in and converted to a desire that functions within the system. In other words, capitalism organizes our desires, creates them, in such a way that the system will continue to function with the smallest amount of hindering unrest. I am fully willing to argue against and fight the place that capitalism puts people, especially those people who live in poverty because of the economic system’s inability (or unwillingness) to equitably allocate resources. But I am completely unwilling to get worked up about capitalism having organized my (and society’s) desires. All I can say is that of course capitalism has created, shifted, and reorganized our value investments. How could it not? Is not every social, economic, and political system constitutive of, if not the particular desires of individuals themselves, at least the field of possible desires. Could we even desire without a culture that includes systems of exchange and will inevitably have power differences and interests? Is it not power that is productive of desire itself? How could we desire anything more than food and sex, there is not a community which depends, in part, on exchange? And then, is capitalism, in terms of what it does to the field of desires, really so much different than any other past configuration of exchange and culture?