Thursday, April 28, 2011

For a subject outside of dichotomy Part 1

Parodi: "I would be tempted to say that the body is much more essential for sensation than it is for perception."
Merleau-Ponty: "Can they be distinguished?"

In this beautiful answer lies the whole essence of Merleau-Ponty's philosophy. The philosophical assumption that leads to separate understandings of sensation and perception is that there is a subject and an object. It is commonly assumed that in perception, subject is the one who acts towards the passive object. There is an act of subject and it happens outside. In sensation, there is an internal state of affairs of the one who has been stimulated by something. These two conceptualizations complete each other in the same plane of dichotomy of subject and object. What Merleau-Ponty says brilliantly, is that perception happens both outside and inside. More correctly, the distinction of outside and inside, which refers to two different orders of being, happens to be a false distinction that originates from the doubt of senses. For what is seen is simply not true just because it does not cover all the perspectives that it can be seen and it does not correspond to the thing itself properly. For example, I only see the front of a house if I am standing in front of it and another pair of eyes which are situated at the backyard of the house would see the back of the house. So what enables me to think that what we both see is the same house? It sure looks different. For Merleau-Ponty, the assurance in me that me and my friend are seeing the same house and if I move to the backyard I would see what he is seeing now, is the assurance of perception being of this world. The house would assure the perception of itself by simply being there. In other words, different perceptions of things could not be a reason to doubt perception's adequateness in regard to reality, if we do not will for a reality that is absolute, timeless and unchangeable. On the contrary it would be an evidence to trust the perceptions, because they are the possibilities of things themselves. The possibilities of the world we live in. The character of reality which is in time. The subject-object dichotomy of which the distinction between perception and sensation originates, is based on the will of something fixed, eternal, unchangeable. So it creates these two different orders: one of which is in action reaching out of its cage called body. The other is the one which is being acted on, the body that the acting figure eludes in order to know, to organize, to classify the bodies just like it. How these two orders relate to each other in the first place, is an enigma. And what is it like to have such a view of reality which is so different from perceived world that does not have anything to do with one's own experience?

This will of two different orders of subject and object, is doing injustice to the inexhaustible character of reality as well as inexhaustible possibilities of experience. And more importantly it seems to me that maintaining subject-object distinction in such a way, is working at cross purposes with the salvation of subject herself. For placed on this insufficiently objective as well as insufficiently subjective plane, subject could only be a shadow of what she could become. If we want to save the subject and not a dummy of her, we must first give her the freedom to live in the world and the means to trust her perceptions as if they are the perceptions of the world perceiving itself. Only a moving together with the world could open up the possibility for the subject to create her own style, thus her subjectivity.

Final words from the man himself:

"By these words, the “primacy of perception,” we mean that the experience of perception is our presence at the moment when things, truths, values are constituted for us; that perception is a nascent Logos; that it teaches us, outside all dogmatism, the true conditions of objectivity itself; that it summons us to the tasks of knowledge and action. It is not a question of reducing human knowledge to sensation, but of being present at the birth of this knowledge, to make it as sensible as the sensible, to recover the consciousness of rationality. This experience of rationality is lost when we take it for granted as self-evident, but is, on the contrary, rediscovered when it is made to appear against the background of nonhuman nature." (Maurice Merleau-Ponty)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

I am the truth! Irresistible and unbearable...

Ok, I know that was too much promising for everybody. Give it to my old journalism carrier. I like punch lines. That was all journalism had to offer for creativity anyway. So...
I think that I have the right as everybody to say that I am the truth in person..

What brought my thinking to this point could seem pretty unrelated and weird at first. That is unbearable lightness of being...Is it really light when it is unbearable? Well it is and that is the whole point. Let me tell you something which is one of the reasons I like languages: in Turkish the book was translated as "dayanılmaz" and that means unbearable and irresistible at the same time. It just depends where you use it, in what context. But still, that gives another point of view to Kundera. Irresistible is actually unbearable. The guy there just goes to one irresistible to the other. What life offers is irresistible as the moment itself... just because it forces itself on you. It says something else and you are the idiot that never gets it. Like the famous example of "now here" and "no where". If you could get it you would become it. There is no distance actually, we are inbetween, touching everything and that is the thing we have to understand.

Let's listen some Badiou, here we need him:

"The subject is woven out of a truth, he is what exists of truth in limited fragments."

Yes! Continue...

"A subject is what a truth transits, or this finite point through which, in its infinite being, truth itself passes or transits. This transit excludes every interior moment.

(2) The process of a truth is fidelity (to the event), i.e. the evaluation, using a specific operator (that of fidelity), of the degree of connection between the terms of the situation and the supernumerary name of the event.

A truth is (...)in substance, a procedure of post-eventual fidelity which will have been generic. In this sense, a truth (indiscernible within knowledge), is the metonymy of the situation’s very being – i.e. of a pure or unnamed multiple into which this being is resolved.

(a) A subject is not a substance. If the word substance has a meaning, it designates a multiple which is counted as one in a situation. The intrinsic indiscernibility into which a generic procedure resolves excludes a subject’s being substantial.

(b) Nor is a subject an empty point. The void, which is a proper name of being, is inhuman and a-subjective. It is an ontological concept. In addition, it is clear that a truth is realized as multiplicity and not as punctuality.

(d) A subject is not an invariant of presentation. The subject is scarce in that the generic procedure runs diagonally to the situation. One could add that each subject is rigorously singular, being the generic procedure of a situation which is itself singular. The statement “there is subject” (il y a du sujet) is uncertain or haphazard: it is not transitive with respect to being.

(e) A subject is neither a result nor an origin. He is the local status of the procedure, a configuration which exceeds the situation."

So life's nature for us as subjects (if we are subjects of course), namely it being irresistible and unbearable simultaneously, becomes more clear as subject itself is defined with this tension, this nothing-else-than-a-rythmic-movement between infinite and finite. Like every music is true, understood in this way subject is true if not truth itself (I exaggerated there a little by saying I am the truth, actually the whole point is that I am not the truth or some other kind of thing but I am an inbetween tension).

My fundamental belief is that I am true.
It is not just a belief, that's why I am adding "fundamental" there. It is the ground on which I operate.

If why is the question for an explanation, "why not?" is the interruption to causality. As a subject I don't have a cause to be, I am myself the interruption of that cause and effect. Just like the question "why not?" always searches for a hole in the meaning, I, understanding myself in this way -true to my nature as a tension between finite and infinite- become an engine of truth, tearing down the banale veil of meaning. Constantly running away from being fixed to some point or the other as in causality, but doing so very naturally as the infinite and finite are both guiding me. Where? There is no where, where is the wrong question. There is just the realization of me at every moment as an art piece: randomly taking shape but it becomes something very interesting during.

But I cannot allow myself to vibrate freely if I think that somethig's wrong with me fundamentally. Or if I fix myself just in the finite without having a concept of infinite as the most abstract and simultaneously the most concrete thing that one could ever imagine. So my thinking goes like this: trust both finite and infinite, they will make good music. Or to put another way, for music to be, we need the infinite to form a plane for it and just as we trust the ground when we walk on it, we have to trust it to be true. I imagined truth in Badiou as the very possibility of a play ground as infinite. Everyone has a tendency...

So maybe you are asking what does all this have anything to do with Kundera? Well, he was just for demonstration of simultaneity. Irresistible would be the infinite and unbearable, the finite in my case. Lightness of being comes from this lingering thinking in between.

Maybe...nevertheless it is beautiful now and here, alone with this thought. I will be here for a while.