A little time warp this time. This extract is from the first ‘series’ of scattered early writings, almost two years ago now. I hate looking at old stuff but in practice it can end up teaching you a lot. So here it is:
A personal relationship with the universe is accomplished in the separation which constitutes daily existence. The portion of the universe which is given meaning by my observation and interaction is absolutely separated from the perspective and comprehension of the other. What we speak of is not an absolute reality from which we are separated; our individual perspectives, our relationships–interactions, connections–with external reality constitute appear to constitute a totality. this totality is the self, which we believe to be a unity, that is, to be singular. Common sense suggests that there is only one you. A personal relationship with the universe is the existence of a conscious mind: they are not isolated from one another, but in fact are defined by one another. However, a self-aware creature’s reality is unique, singular unto itself, isolated by an infinite abyss between the realities of other conscious minds, yet the conscious mind is not limited by this separation: a personal relationship with the universe is a linking of finite consciousness with infinity, the absolute, with Being.
Strong but loose. For clarity’s sake, I’ll try to identify two of the major theoretical mistakes I made here. It’s strange indeed to see the resurfacing of themes and examples. Also the way I’d emphasize different aspects of the relation to the other now, like the machinic interfaces and images which mediate the relation between singular beings. I’m now starting to think that the issue of class and money comes into the whole question of ontology much more strongly when you consider the political and sexual connection between systems of knowledge and systems of power. For example, we can’t just say: absolute being is one thing, and processes (natural or human) are different: they have different rhythms, cycles, and so forth. This is because their cycles are all in some sense interdependent even though always seemingly only locally informed–this primal ‘reconnection’ I assumed to be absolute being, but it seems in the light of a more psychoanalytically inclined mindset to be pure narcissism, the desire to assume primary importance in a parasitic modality.
This leads us to the second theoretical mistake: question of ethics remains completely unraised in this text–even as the relation to the other is ceaselessly invoked. It goes implicit, unmediated but ultimately unstated. Perhaps, after all, we cannot state an ethics–but nonetheless, a certain degree of meta-ethics is always required in any project. I would now identify a link within conscious self-reflection to the idea of a bad infinity, a good infinity being represented more clearly in discourse, reason, cooperation, co-evolution. A ‘pure’ meta-ethic would run something like: abuse and addiction are negative forms of infinity; restoration and ethical practice are positive forms of infinity.
This question of being always seems to elude, in one way or another, the traumatic realization that nature’s rhythms are not always sensitive to ours, and likewise that ours are not sensitive to nature’s; but this is no will of a capricious deity, no contradiction– but a fractalized interdependent network of impressions and movements, that is, there’s nothing but different events. And isn’t the ultimate mystery the locus of our own self-difference? The key to this crisis is the relation to the other, and is identified fairly clearly in the text, but still–without any sort of mediation, or modulation of this ‘personal’ relation to the universe.
How is such a relation, after all, not supposed to totalize us, to reduce us to a naked singularity, to quantize us and see us as interchangeable and replacable? It’s only in the rhythm and pulse of the social realm that we are irreplacable–but at the same time, through economy made completely replacable, through politics completely displaced… Society plays a much more complex role in terms of transcendence and sense than can be accounted for merely in the idea of the infinte, or the relation to the other as such… This, then, would mean we need a sort of phenomenology of social forces, or put another way: a meta-psychology of ethics.