Clean Shave, by CSP – and other postmodern avoidance.

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What is the relationship between art and philosophy?

That is the issue I treat.

In “The Postmodern Condition”, Jean-Francois Lyotard speaks of this dichotomy in terms of ‘narrative’ and ‘scientific’ discourses. Emmanuel Kant speaks of the difference between Practical and Pure reason. And others also divide essential Being into dichotomous factions and never seem to approach the ‘final frame’, as Slavoj Zizek might (maybe) call it. While they are all most commonly understood to be speaking of different aspects (all of them) of reality or whatever, the significant issue involved with all of them is that they are really using different terms to characterize and position the same thing, the same aspect of being itself (that which is being itself). This is the issue that Francois Laruelle attempts to show us, that philosophy, what we might call ‘conventional’ philosophy, understands these divisions, these decisions, as indicating essentially real and localizable essences, what we may now call ‘objects’, but also a condition that no human being can get out of (No Exit).

The conventional philosopher sees terms as identifying actual distinct and segregate idealized (there is not situation that escapes what is of an idea) situations as these situations are indeed thus due to the manner by which clausal arrangements are made: Discourse determines reality because that is what has been argued successfully, and this argument thus can no longer be questioned without determining reality in a manner whereby reality is thus determined. This is called idealism: The idea is transcribed into reality because the idea is that the idea is able to be transcribed into reality intact (is the idea itself real?) But again, conventional philosophy cannot admit this generalization, or will vehemently as casually set it aside (whatever works), and will then move to discount its idealist situation by defining further terms and clausal arrangements. They simply cannot stop seeing ‘more things’, or simultaneously ‘the comparison of things’ in their use of discourse as these lineages of meaning are understood to extend through an essential temporal substrate. 

See, though, that of course, this is not incorrect. It simply locates, evidences and positions a particular kind of thinking and the method that supports that thinking. The ability to find this philosophical situation thus, at once, understands that conventional philosophy views itself as a kind of essentialist science through its ability to situate itself above and around every assertion that is made upon it, to thereby deny that it is an idealism (religion); this type of maneuver once noticed cannot escape its scientific attitude, an attitude that ironically denies that it is any sort of science.

When we locate this situation, oddly enough, we have found an opening that places philosophy as an object; we are able to ‘see’ it as an object, and once an object can be located and defined for what it does (is something more than it does? IS more than AM? ), it becomes an object of science. This means that people are going to get nervous (isn’t this what we are already seeing?) . While philosophy will continue on in its conventional manner, there will be (is) another kind of philosophical manner that cannot help but supersede what has been traditionally the jurisdiction of philosophy as a whole kind of endeavor. This philosophy that moves beyond philosophy can therefore be called a kind of ‘science of philosophy’ and works to be able to define humanity in a manner that is better able to control and or first describe, then predict the outcomes of humanity even while humanity denies that it is being determined. The irony of this latter situation is that such control is not subject to the fears of totalitarianism or dictatorship (but neither democracy or communism) because such an understanding does not occur within the purview of real estimations; what falls into its purview will be checked by the regular political mechanisms which are around for any moment.

What in the past has been called ‘religious’, and then soon after ‘esoteric’, and then soon after ‘heretical’, now changes the stakes of the game. What has been the arena that these terms denoted has been dispelled (the term no longer ‘denotes’) in all effective ways save the enforcement of the meaning of the term itself: There is no ‘effective’ esoteric occasions but those which are defined within the general political arena as another political case, another political identity. What goes on behind closed doors is subject to the same rules as any other ‘closed door’ policy.

Due to this ideological upset that the concept of science brings about (along with its appropriate narrative support), the human situation is turned on its head and reality, by virtue of its ubiquity and omnipresence, becomes a religious institution. Once this happens, everything remotely ‘spiritual’ goes out the window into the the bin of science, yet even while it retains an effectivity within the meaning of the transcendental clause by which narratives afford, convey and maintain real worlds. What occurs then, is what otherwise would have been classified as ‘esoteric’ by modern analysts becomes the effective means to define parameters upon the human creature in such a fashion which moves beyond the ability for the real narrative to keep up with; power is enacted which does not fall into the modern ‘structural-Marxist-humanist’ designations for how power is supposed (proposed) to be used. As we have just said, what does fall into the lap of such analysts, regardless of what it means to such analysis, nevertheless functions to acquiesce data which is thus used to support the determinate scientific use of power upon reality. This is to say that what has been the problem of modern philosophy, that of what to make of essential difference and its interface, interaction or intersection, has been solved, albeit in a manner that leaves a particular mode of philosophical knowledge playing in the white wash despite its best efforts to paddle out into the monsters of Mavericks. Philosophy (conventional) becomes the means to make sense of what is already occurring, a manner to keep everyone calm and centered upon the practical business of living life, understood in the context of tradition though contingency, randomness, and the vicissitudes of free will. Religion is indeed the opiate of the masses, but to the extent that, as Giles Delueze might argue, knowledge of how this might be the case cannot and does not allow us to avoid its satiating glamour because within each attempt to overcome the oppressive and limiting aspects of our Leviathan, humanity functions to sedate itself through the very terms of its systemic freedom.

What is left is enacted by a contingent that, while recognizing the limits imposed and demanded, does not, as Zizek makes sense of the Buddhist philosophy of detachment, after all, totally comply with those limits, and indeed, lives a double life. Yet this one is not the conned apathetic agent of futility and happiness; on the contrary, it is the engaged and living aspect of the limitation itself.

There is a point, a moment, where Philosophy is split: one Philosophy continues in its traditionally real ontological approach and will see every discourse as a sign to be placed back into the correlational  (real) limit; the other Philosophy sees philosophical statements as the material of a science, as it begins to show what philosophical statements establish, what they do as objectival acts, as things in themselves, behaving in characteristic manners to establish typical situations, that can be identified and predicted along certain lines of purpose. 

This type of knowledge is deemed invalid in the narrative of reality despite every effort to validate it in narrative (the philosophical science is negated in the act of narrative) and so occupies a kind of knowledge that is usually categorized and classified as esoteric, but indeed is a science that is offensive to real agents of transcendence, which is to say, to practical reason. 

This situation always is the case (see my book “The Moment of Decisive Significance” for the description example) as history may be discerned along lines of the relationship of this polemical constant over the motions of ideological climate and of their reactionary politics. 

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