Saturday, March 28, 2015

Stringer Bell, Philip K. Dick and the resistance

You should know The Wire, the most beautiful TV show ever, and not only in my opinion. Since I watched it, and I admit a little late, in 2009 or 2010, I don't recall exactly, I made a habit of making some of my friends watch as well and watching with them all over again. And it was interesting to ask them which character they loved the most. Of course it's never only one character. It's such a show that you love all the characters, even the bad ones, with a few exceptions maybe. But there is always a top three, and the first one, I think, gives away what you're about yourself. The character you love the most is the one you identify with on some fundamental level. We've had rich conversations, shedding light on ourselves as well as the characters in the show.

So, mine was Russell Bell - a.k.a. Stringer. But I haven't been able to figure out exactly why I loved Stringer - he is not usually loved that much - the most until recently. He was always a hero in my opinion, although a little degenerate. His fate made my heart hurt, kind of like a tragic hero. He tried to get out of the thug game in the streets by trying to get in to the bigger and official game of real estate. He studied economics in the university while laundering the drug money, establishing corporations and buying huge amounts of real estate. He was a business man, not a gangster. He didn't like all the killings that brought the police on them. He was trying to become legitimate while Avon - his childhood friend and the king of West Baltimore's drug trade - was conducting the business like a war. Avon was fighting to keep his corners, dropping bodies here and there to intimidate competition while Stringer was thinking that this was stupid. As a business man, not a soldier, Stringer thought that they can get out of this mess altogether if they were smart enough to get legit. So he contacted Clay Davis, a corrupt politician, who stole much of his money and fooled him by giving promises about approvals of real estate licences through his contacts in the high places. We watched Stringer, that cool character, becoming helpless day by day, getting angry, and once he fully understood that he has been fooled, he completely lost his cool and went to Avon trying helplessly to convince him to kill Clay Davis.

All this makes sense in the story. What didn't make sense for me was the reason why I was so impressed by Stringer... I have no inclination whatsoever for business. I am not a business person, in fact I am the opposite of that. So, it couldn't be the business aspect of it all. Then, the other day, while I was reminiscing about Stringer and mourning, it hit me: I loved him because he had a problem with the reality. He didn't accept reality as it is. They were drug dealers coming from the streets and that was it. Avon, for example, in all his naivety, had never suspected that it could have been otherwise. But String thought that they can actually change their reality if they're smart enough. It was only a matter of money, the world was revolving around money and they had enough money now to get out of their illegitimate lives. He studied economics in the college to get to the bottom of the whole system. He educated his crew, forming some kind of college atmosphere at their headquarters. Oh, what a beautiful scene that was...

Anyways, Stringer, in his quest, found a solution out of his reality into to the bigger reality - outer wheels of capitalism - and it is here Philip K. Dick enters the scene for me. Stringer, although smart and educated, followed a solution involving faking the bigger players in the bigger game. If everything was about the money, why not use the money accordingly and enter higher society as one of its members, right? Why not act, work, dress, talk, and walk like one of them? That should be enough to jump from this plane of reality to the plane of another, one that is actually running the business. But it wasn't enough. Stringer is a fake fake, in PKD's term, in the fake capitalist world. What does that mean? That means an authentic being in a fake world. The capitalist game in higher places was - is - much more cruel, sophisticated and most importantly fabricated than the game in the streets. While Stringer was the cunning one in the streets of Baltimore, the throne of cunning belonged to Clay Davis at that higher plane because Davis was already a fake, through and through. He was already a fabrication of capitalism and bureaucracy. He belonged to that plane, and as such, he knew the topography, the paths, the nature of that fake world by heart while Stringer, in all his authenticity, was a complete stranger there, ready to fall prey to Davis. Stringer believed that there was a way out of his reality but he couldn't realize how sophisticated the game was on that other plane. He was a stranger, a fake in this other world merely due to his belief that he could change the game. Nobody believed anything up there. Up there, there was - is - only the inherent acceptance that the world is already fake and that's how it goes. That's why we saw Stringer as helpless as he can be when he encountered the ultimate illusion. His very core, his being was shaken before Clay Davis. He was not that helpless even when he understood that he's going to die. Because he understood that. His death was a result of his doings and he knew that it was fair. Clay Davis, on the other hand, represented something that he cannot possibly understand without ceasing to be himself. What made Stringer himself was believing in another world and when that was taken away from him, he was left with nothing. Sigh...

Before I linked Stringer's problem with the problem of fake, I had thought that he encountered his demon in Clay Davis, his mirror twin. After all, Stringer was very much the Clay Davis of the streets. He was the most cunning of them all: killing D'Angelo behind Avon's back, cooperating with people he shouldn't cooperate, snitching on Avon, deceiving everybody that he thought he should deceive in the name of business... Those are not good deeds. And when he encountered Clay Davis, I thought "Well, yes, this shitty person is probably the Stringer of high places." It was as if he was looking in a mirror, but one that shows the image much bigger. Stringer had, or he thought he had, an understanding with him. But then, I realized that there was something fundamentally different between them. One was sincere, even in his most harmful deeds while the other one was... well I can't find another term: fake.

Then, all of a sudden, this whole thing seemed to me to be related with resistance somehow, more specifically, with Gezi Resistance. Why did we resist? Because we believed in another world, not the world they imposed on us. And who did we resist against? Them, our versions of Clay Davis. The fakes of this geography. Them, who are able to use everything and anything to get their way. Them, who are inferior to us but somehow who are governing us. Them, who impose their vision on us. Them, who do not believe in anything other than money. And, I realized, the reason of the resistance being such a big deal and also the reason for our exhaustion (I had a few nervous breakdowns, for example, and many are feeling the same way now) was that we found a solution quite similar, yet different to the one Stringer found. We, the common mind of the resistance, were faking the fake. It was our method. They were already fake, and moreover they were bringing forth absurd, even surreal arguments such as the resistance being financed by foreign powers and organizations which do not even exist; some men dressed in leather with whips in their hands abusing a head scarfed woman and her baby and peeing on her; that we were trying to manufacture an atomic bomb in the tents in Gezi Park, etc. The list is too long to include everything here but you can see the surreal quality in all this. So, our minds were forced to go to the limit. We started to produce fakes everywhere, fake arguments, fake happenings, fake news much like Onion's. We opened pages on Facebook in the name of these non-existent lobbies they were talking about as foreign organizations, we opened Twitter accounts in their names to make their parody. We had fun like hell as well while doing that. And they were pathetic because they didn't expect this. They thought that we would take a defensive position against their absurd arguments and then, we would be on their plane to comfortably attack. We actually won by taking the battle on another field. Our intelligence and authenticity won over their stupidity. We know that. But the thing was we weren't fake, and they already were. We believed in changing the game, and they were playing it relentlessly. So, at some point, we were exhausted of all this nonsense but they weren't. They continued bullshitting. And they still are. But we are tired now, at least I know I am. We want our sanity back. They don't need sanity (they have been born and raised in a world of insanity - now I understand better why PKD keeps calling evil insane) but we do. So, it appears now as if they won. We know that isn't true but nothing much changed since then, moreover it became worse lately with this internal security package they got through the parliament. Anyway, I didn't actually mean to go into these things but I can't help myself.

Actually what I wanted to say was this: it's a smart solution to fake the fake as Stringer did. But the problem is, for Stringer as for the resistance, the authentic can fake the fake to some extent. After that, a disintegration occurs just as the experience of PKD's characters. The authentic cannot hold itself together in a fake world. It cannot communicate with the rest of the world whose reality is quite different. The authentic person's strength which is believing in himself and his dreams becomes his weakness when he's faced with the all-encompassing illusion which is capitalism in its deepest form in the world we are living today. He cannot fake enough to be a real fake. And this is the very personal doomsday that everyone experiences privately. This is the tragedy linking Stringer to resistance and to me. Of course, Stringer won if you ask me. He won because he was - is - superior to Clay Davis with his authentic reality. That's why he, not Davis, is the one we remember. And Gezi was a success no matter what happened next. I don't believe in their fabricated reality. One day, it will shatter; it's already shaking but one day it will be destroyed completely and we will be there to watch with great pleasure because we are the real reality. We still having a charm of reality in our hearts. "Us motherfucker..."

P.S. After I wrote this and was searching for some images I can use, I stumbled upon this article. So, I wasn't alone in thinking he was tragic, although the article's context differ from mine, fortunately.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The horror and joy of a certain enlightenment

I've had my share of enlightenment in the last few years, and I suspect that I've stolen from the others' share if the quantity of enlightenment is somehow fixed. You know, if a quota exists.

These enlightening moments had a wide range too. In one, I found myself being in that place where the virtual becomes actual, the place where the world is constantly created, where life creates itself as a current coming from the virtual and transforming into actual, the ultimate now. In another, more mundane one, I suddenly understood something which before constantly escaped the eyes of my mind (which I don't remember now). Of course all of this had a transformative effect on me on some level, otherwise they wouldn't be called enlightenment. But I went through them intact, that is, I always felt an inherent trust in myself, therefore in life that it wouldn't break me. It would only make me more, I would know and feel more, I would become richer... Isn't this the meaning of life to some extent?

Then came the breaker and probably the most superior enlightenment of it all, at least among the others I experienced. I met this guy and had a lot of fun. I felt as if I found "my mirror twin, my next of kin" to quote Leonard Cohen. I don't remember exactly when or where I fell for him. But our encounter was such a forceful attraction that it was as if time itself disappeared and we were in a constant now. To speak more intellectually, it was Aion that I found myself in in contrast to Chronos. No wonder why Aion is identified with Eros... These weird things started to happen: I was dreaming his dreams, or maybe I was moving into his mind while I was sleeping. There I experienced the first tinges of horror. It's not pleasant to come into being in somebody else's mind, no matter how much you love them. It may even be the ultimate horror of life: realizing that you are a figment of somebody else's imagination. Being conscious and ultimately powerless. Having no power of action to change things around...

And his mind was not a pleasant environment either. It was contrary to everything I believe myself to be. So, I was put off a little and we eventually broke up with the addition of some other mundane reasons. But I couldn't really detach myself from this experience. One day, as I was in bed trying to sleep (you can imagine that sleeping has become very hard to accomplish for me after this), I saw myself standing at the edge of the world, where an abysmal wound was constantly opening in the flesh of the world. Yes. I'm sorry, I haven't yet found a more understandable expression to draw the image of that affect. It was the world becoming wounded at every instant and it was the abyss which seemed to me essential to the world's existence. The wound was always there and it was going to be there forever, without the possibility of healing since it was always becoming a wound...

Of course, being me, I approached the matter in a philosophical way, to discern the problem. I solved or am constantly trying to solve all my existential problems with philosophy, so why not this one? First I thought this was related to the material being of the world since the wound was crawling with things, things I couldn't define. It seemed to me, at first, that the world was suffering of the being of matter, in a Bergsonian sense that is matter is in a state of forgetting itself, continuously getting away from itself. World was rotting from within because matter was forgetting itself, becoming stranger every moment. World was not able to penetrate matter, relate to it even though it is made of it. So it was becoming stranger to itself. But the world had a flesh or is flesh, with that I mean matter with soul, something that relates everything with every other thing, invisible connections throughout. So, these connections were constantly breaking because f*cking matter couldn't remember that it was a part of all this. Sorry about that, I always get angry at this point. Can't help it.

OK, this explanation seemed quite right to me but I wasn't relieved of course. Now, my ground was shaken all the more because I believe in the world and matter, I believe that they reconcile somehow, that matter would come back to itself at some point. Maybe some connections are constantly being broken but others are constantly created. So this wound shouldn't be a fundamental wound but it terrifyingly seemed so...

Then, in the hope of finding my comfortable ground again, I started reading everything that made sense to me before. And there it was, in Deleuze's Difference and Repetition:

"Nietzsche seems to have been the first to see that the death of God becomes effective only with the dissolution of the Self. What is then revealed is being, which is said of differences which are neither in substance nor in a subject: so many subterranean affirmations. If eternal return is the highest, the most intense thought, this is because its own extreme coherence, at the highest point, excludes the coherence of a thinking subject, of a world which is thought of as a guarantor God. Rather than being concerned with what happens before and after Kant (which amounts to the same thing), we should be concerned with a precise moment within Kantianism, a furtive and explosive moment which is not even continued by Kant, much less by post-Kantianism - except, perhaps, by Hölderlin in the experience and the idea of a 'categorical abduction'. For when Kant puts rational theology into question, in the same stroke he introduces a kind of disequilibrium, a fissure or crack in the pure Self of the ' I think' , an alienation in principle, insurmountable in principle: the subject c an henceforth represent its own spontaneity only as that of an Other, and in so doing invoke a mysterious coherence in the last instance which excludes its own - namely, that of the world and God. A Cogito for a dissolved Self: the Self of 'I think' includes in its essence a receptivity of intuition in relation to which I is already an other. It matters little that synthetic identity - and, following that , the morality of practical reason - restore the integrity of the self, of the world and of God, thereby preparing the way for post-Kantian syntheses: for a brief moment we enter into that schizophrenia in principle which characterizes the highest power of thought, and opens Being directly on to difference, despite all the mediations, all the reconciliations, of the concept." [Italics are mine] 
There are other passages that are of importance here for me, in one he talks about thought, in the other about the nomadic distribution. Bear with me:

 "It is true that on the path which leads to that which is to be thought, all begins with sensibility. Between the intensive and thought, it is always by means of an intensity that thought comes to us. The privilege of sensibility as origin appears in the fact that, in an encounter, what forces sensation and that which can only be sensed are one and the same thing, whereas in other cases the two instances are distinct. In effect, the intensive or difference in intensity is at once both the object of encounter and the object to which the encounter raises sensibility. It is not the gods which we encounter: even hidden, the gods are only the forms of recognition. What we encounter are demons, the sign-bearers"


"Even when it concerns the serious business of life, it is more like a space of play, or a rule of play, by contrast with sedentary place and nomos. To fill a space, to be distributed within it, is very different from distributing the space. It is an errant and even 'delirious' distribution, in which things are deployed across the entire extensity of a univocal an undistributed Being. It is not a matter of being which is distributed according to the requirements of representation, but of all things being is divided up within being in the univocity of simple presence (the One - All). Such a distribution is demonic rather than divine, since it is a peculiarity of demons to operate in the intervals between the gods' field of action, as it is to leap over the barriers or enclosures, thereby confounding the boundaries between properties. Oedipus' chorus cries: 'Which demon has leapt further than the longest leap?' The leap here bears witness to the unsettling difficulties that nomadic distributions introduce into sedentary structures of representation." [Italics are mine] 

Well, all this made even more sense to me. In a very real sense, his existence opened a crack in me, or my representation since I identified myself with him but he was an "other" nevertheless. I found this crack in the very core of my being, and a terrible alienation took place. It was the result of an encounter which forced me to think as it always is. Of course I had similar experiences before but it was always from a relatively safe place. I was always a good girl trying to make sense of the world. It seems that I had never put myself on the line and this time my very own being - or the structure which represents me - was in danger. What I encountered at the edge of the world's flesh, crawling were demons. The wound was actually the crack in "me," where I actually think. And this crack, this wound was as impersonal as it can be. It had nothing to do with my puny life. It was fundamental indeed, but in a good way, not towards death but creation.

You can imagine life is more endurable again. Because now I have something to work with to create. Now, I'm not drowning in the horror. I still see it, I still feel it but now I gained the necessary perspective to go on and transform the sad passions into joyful ones, to speak in Spinoza's terms. I can look in the eye of the horror of enlightenment and still survive to make something out of it. I was wounded deeply but I was healed in a different sense as well.

To return another deep love of mine, Philip K. Dick, I am now able to take smaller doses of schizophrenia. Dick talks about the unfolding in schizophrenia (in my context the crack in the 'I') as follows:

"This unfolding is not in any sense a causal progression; it is the vertical opening forth of synchronicity rather than the horizontal cause-and-effect sequence that we experience by clock time, and since it is timeless, it is unlimited in extent; it has no built-in end. So the universe of the schizophrenic is, again to understate it, somewhat large. Much too large. Ours, like the twice-daily measured squirt of toothpaste, is controlled and finite; we rub up against only as much reality as we can handle -- or think we can handle, to be more accurate." (Here is the link for the ones who would like to read this beautiful article) 

The space where thinking happens in the speed of light, the crack, the wound at the edge of the world's flesh is not a space you can endure to live. It is too much to allow any kind of activity. You are in the mercy of demons, always passive, being dragged from there to here. That was the source of my deep sorrow: ultimate passivity. All the thoughts that came to me was about that: the forgetful character of matter, the crawling eerie things, death, etc.

But there is no need to give in to death and get incurably depressed. You can and should make something out of everything in life since you are living! So, I thank life for giving me all these opportunities full of wonder to discover its horrifying and beautiful sides. I thank life for constantly destroying and reconstructing everything anew. And I thank life for introducing me such beautiful people like Dick, Deleuze, Cohen, and more who are constantly moving me, renewing the joy that is the essence of our soul, I believe.

"Got something in my eye, a light that doesn't need to live, and doesn't need to die..."