Friday, October 1, 2010

Brian Massumi Evening Lecture

NOTE: As with all my notes from the EGS, there will likely be mistakes because I did not record the lectures, I made notes as they spoke, so I am perhaps interpreting what they are saying as I am writing.

The students are required to attend evening lectures given by the faculty each evening as part of our curriculum. Brian Massumi was the fourth person to give an evening lecture during the August sessions.

[I must apologize for the quality of my notes for this talk: I was very sick during these several days and my ability to write what I heard was very much compromised.]

This paper has a long and checkered history: exploring ritual action and not employing the symbolic but an ontogenetic force.

Thinking of ritual action also gets us reflecting on artistic practice - how art and ethical action are a force. Radical empiricism holds that everything real is felt

Walter Benjamin discussed the difference between how our ancestors danced as clouds is different from how we think of semblance today. "What is this semblance that paradoxically represents nothing?" Benjamin states, "It is relation."

What we feel in the billiard balls is the continued movement, the momentum. Semblance can't be found in snapshots - the relationship of movement is felt rather than composed of discrete units, these units exist, but the dynamism is expressed in relation to their affective tonality - the quality of movement.

The yoking of diverse moments can bring an extreme diversity because it is an expression of nonsensuous linkage (similarity?)

Being nonsensuous, activation contours are a-modal and can jump across orders. Cross-modal transference is inferior to a-modal because [....]

The body is on a life path, a worldline in movement, they are a-modal and present the opportunity to yoking a diversity of potential experience.

To this point, we've been operating with the assumption of a given subject-object relationship. Affect brings form qualitatively to life.

The emergent parent form is an a-modal emergent yoking of diversification. The child will learn to separate-out the sensuous and the objective separation of relationality.

Each new event retraces the historic unfolding traces, even as they advance the worldine. Every body stands for a potential expansion of the universe and are an archive of the shared relationship. Language is where skipping intermediaries is possible.

The autonomy of the qualitative ordering of life [....]

It's not that the world and world order are lost in thought, but language takes up these orders and moves forward the worlding. Language is the potential for movement nonsensuously [....]

Language presents worldlines in advance, language can return us to the sensuous; it's not that the world is lost in language but that we are lost in the delusions of language-speculation.

The constructive truth is pragmactic.
[thinking-feeling (xin 心)]
Through the activity of language (the coming non-local activation, aggregate relation potential), the affective is directly experienced.

Nonsensuous semblance has nothing to do with metaphor or allegory

Thought can be a force toward composition of the world operating on these relational potentialities.

Is the political in need of redefining?

Semblance - ritual action reorders the worlding in its doubling of the event; the [....]

The political needs to avoid reintroducing the content of one locality and imposing it onto another context. A bare activity that animates the other contexts as part of an expansive yoking.


[NOTES TO SELF: ritual propriety (li 禮) requires radical pedagogy which is informed by the transmission of radical empiricism as it teaches the generation of novelty, not aberrance.

Why is peut-être both "maybe" and "perhaps" because this is an event that is activated.

Look at Deleuze's "The Exhausted" about Beckett. Also Benjamin's "On the Mimetic Faculty"

The problem with politics as a term for relationality is like the problem of pharmacy - in both concepts there is this exclusion of the pharmakoi for the purpose of maintaining an economy of what can be yoked in the City's life.

The logic of peut-être both "maybe" and "perhaps" is relationality; it's magical in that it is the allowance of expansive possibility.

Whitehead uses the term penumbra, like a cloud of gnats (from Process and Reality):
Thus, in our actual world of today there is a penumbra of eternal objects, constituted by relevance to the Battle of Waterloo. Some people do admit elements from this penumbral complex into effective feeling, and others wholly exclude them. [...] The elements of this penumbra are propositional prehensions, and not pure conceptual prehensions; for their implication of the particular nexus which is the Battle of Waterloo is an essential factor. Thus an element in this penumbral complex is what is termed a 'proposition.'(185)
Whitehead's is a philosophy of novelty generation so is ritual propriety (li 禮), Ames and Hall use Whitehead in their translations, necessary to avoid aberrance, or is aberrance even possible?]


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