Sunday, June 03, 2007

Transcendence Act 5: Revive The Primal Beast

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In light of this, one sees that scientificity dominates the psyche as the myth and metaphor slowly slips into oblivion, and the nexus of knowledge becomes only one more appendage of the ever increasing size of the human subject. This is not necessarily an epistemological function but also a mark toward the human desire of omniscience. As the plane of shadow decreases, that which is unknown to humanity, knowledge reigns as the safeguard against the wrathful hand of transcendence, but, as Baudrillard notes, we are no longer necessarily the creators of “integral reality” but also its byproducts – the circularity of such an existence streams directly to the forefront. It is here that one is reminded of a world Adorno paints when he says, “[r]egressive listeners behave like children. Again and again and with stubborn malice, they demand the one dish they have once been served [,]” and one sees the onset of a macabre reality in thinking which is best characterized as a closed system and protrudes a matrices of synthetic thought (290).
And as the Leviathan, a transcendental paradigm, flounders under the harpoon point of the post-enlightenment subject, one begins to see the correlation between the two. The human subject simply replaces the mystical seat of divine and becomes himself that to which praise is due, but too readily is this shift taken. As the subject inputs into his “integral reality” so is he shaped by its output which forces a technological eternal return. But what does this say about human thought today? It relates that transcendence has become a vulgar word, that nihilistic tendencies are masked as a veiled truth tricking the agnostic masses to buy-in to the conspiracy of an orderly and appropriated objectivity, and reveals the way in which human fear of the unknown creates a mental void in which such topics as “the soul” are ardently dismissed as scientific heresy. The cryptic grip of post-Freudian and Nietzschean thought have reduced the human subject to a mere apparatus of conceptual processes and have ignored the possibility of a basic function of the primal subject, a transcendent force of conceptual cognition – that which lies just behind the line of the objective. How does one seek refuge from an “integral reality”? Progress the noumenal. Seek the transcendent. Let off the synthetic Mosaic veil covering the fascia to see the true noumenal and primal glorification just behind.
This is the paradigm in which one primitive hunter finds himself as he stares into the cold eye of a defeated monster of mythology, that hideous Leviathan, only to realize that the flicker in its eye is not drawn out but merely resting, and that its breath has not ceased but simply slowed for a moment. Soon its bulging muscles and whipping tail shall gather strength again to over throw its predator; it will rise with ever more hideous vitality and primal ferocity. The Leviathan, that transcendent creature of incredulity, shall shake free tight ropes and harnesses that tie him down as if they were but mere spindle strings, and he will once again make his way to his proper place – the unending sea and the unforaged wilderness. The Leviathan will reclaim his grounds in the darkened wild and in men’s dreams; he will dwell in the unknown and free men once more to wonder.

Transcendence Act 4: A Teleological Complaint

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It is in the midst of all this that a formal complaint should be set forth. These fundamental restrictions in the progression of thought walk hand in hand with philosophical development in epistemological history. That is to say, in the most obvious and general sense, that one can glean from the progression of thought the sense of a grand narrative. The supremacy of an “integral reality” forces one to reflect on the way in which the human psyche and philosophical inquiry has seemingly progressed from a state of high transcendental efficacy to a one that is almost devoid completely of it. It is clear, in the progression of human thought, that there are movements away from high transcendental paradigms. This occurs broadly, in a progression: from the mythical, to Platonic thinking, to the Christian thinkers, eventually to the Cartesian Cogito, to the Enlightenment, and presently into an “integral reality.” Thus the complaint: the anthropical nature of a post-enlightenment teleology should in no way lead to the conclusion that teleology itself is dead; though humanity has seemingly “evolved” from a status of lofty and incorrigible transcendental chains, the current interim epistemological king, Scientificity, has masqueraded a type of intellectual libertarianism, the idea which tells the world it actually exists apart from a contingent reality and is explainable within itself, and has caused the negligence of the possibility of any transcendental element in human thinking. On this Baudrillard says, “[i]f, in the past, the world reached toward transcendence, and if, in the process, it fell into other hinterworlds, it has today fallen into reality” (Fringes 25). It is not that humanity has knocked the feet out from under a teleological or even transcendental reality, but the abstraction of Christian thought and the subtraction of a transcendental paradigm have merely replaced the teleological function of service to the will of God.
So, it is that humanity’s purpose, in the post-enlightenment age, is to no longer serve God, but it is to serve the self – High Humanism. The subject has taken up not only the seat of discourse but also the seat of deity. The humanist glorification of the subjective creative ability has left the mind to its own egotism causing itself to become the teleological center of its existence. While Nietzschean thought screams that God is dead and leaves the door wide open for an ebb and flow chaos of a world devoid of transcendent power, the effects can only be seen as a call for permissible appropriation of human deification. In that sense, science and the ability of philosophy to subtract god from a “given” equation of truth has not necessarily executed Him, but rather God, in the post-enlightenment human psyche, is truly alive and well; God cannot be extracted from the human thought process – only His attributes may be shifted. One might say that God is dead, but what that truly means is that the human is now God.

Transcendence Act 3: Behold, My Monster - Ideology

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This example leads to another that lies hidden with the semantic carceration of the subject. The sign, being stripped of all power in its natural objectivity, begins to show the way in which the nexus of semantic imprisonment, the prison of concept in which the mind is held, gives way to the immense pressures of a matrix of totality – an all encompassing linguistic mapping of the sign. As the sign breathes its last gurgling breath, so too do the doors of the semantic prison clang shut revealing something even more horrific – a closed system. The appropriation of the sign points directly to the appropriation of concept, for “[t]he apparatuses, relations and practices of production thus issue, as a certain moment (the moment of “production/circulation”) in the form of symbolic vehicles constituted within the rules of ‘language’” which must necessarily include a specific moment in which the concept within language itself is appropriated as a “symbolic vehicle;” the sign no longer projects from a natural relation with the objective manifold, but it is treated rather as a byproduct of a systemic ideology (Hall 128). If this is the case then the seeming eternal return of the sign in an “integral reality” actually shows the integration, appropriation, and eventual manipulation of the concept itself, for “[…]the universe becomes a universe of fact, a positive universe, a universe ‘as is’, which no longer even has any need to be true. As factual as a ready-made” (Fringes 25). The subject cannot help but be bound by linguistic and conceptual chains, but it is an even greater atrocity that such an imprisonment actually becomes the source of its own binding. It is no longer that “[t]he meaning(s) of a text will also be constructed differently depending on the discourses (knowledges, prejudices, resistances) brought to bear on the text by the reader” (Morley 171). Nor is it the case that the subject merely dwells among the concepts, but, in post-enlightenment thinking, the mind manufactures them, he distributes them, and he patches them together to create his own monster.

Transcendence Act 2: Thus Ceased The Sign

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The death of the sign seems a most obvious point to begin when seeking the process by which the transcendental is lost. The semantic incarceration of the subject (meaning the way in which cognition of the world is necessarily bound by its use of language to make sense of it – humanity created the means by which it knows the world) lends only to the realization of a continual discourse of subject versus object as the two stand opposed to each other. The former must appropriate the latter, but as these signs become more fully integrated into the subjective cognition, they return as synthetic; humanity appropriates and then re-appropriates the sign as a cognitive function so that it no longer mirrors a "reasoning entrapped in representation" but vice-versa (Ellis 193). That is to say that naturally, as the sign moves through the discursive apparatus of the mind, one notices a one to one ratio between the actual phenomena and the subject that interprets it. However, as the sign is appropriated, changed, synthesized, remodeled, and tweeked to perfection, it becomes the case that the normal function of the sign apparatus is no longer a dominant case because "[…] if objects exist outside of us, we can know absolutely nothing of their objective reality. For things are given to us only through our representation. To believe that these representations and sensations are determined by external objects is a further representation" (World 39). In fact, it reveals that the sign may be no more, in the technological age, than an extension of the subjective which seems even more plausible when one remembers that "objectivity can be conceived without a subject; not so subjectivity without an object" (Adorno 502). Humanity has created a synthetic version of the natural sign sequence. On this, it might be suggested, linguistically, that the sequence of the sign originates with the rise of conceptual thinking – man must conceptually discourse that to which he comes in contact and which would be the interaction with the objective world. However, the subjective appropriation of the sign, moving beyond its culturally discursive function, causes an internal use of the sign. That is to say that the notion of an "integral reality" assumes an ideological system that is not arranged by nature but is synthetic and manmade thus revealing that "[d]istance is obliterated, both external distance from the real world and the internal distance specific to the sign" while also showing "a pornographic materialization of everything" – the death of the unknown (Baudrillard 69). So, the employment of a sign discourse is also synthetically enacted or, in other words, within the confines of the ideological system, but what is more striking is the way in which this points to a third synthetic element which is the teleological nature of the ideological system. An modern thinker does not necessarily lay down a teleological system by chasing evidential knowledge, but he recreates it by these means; the appropriation of the sign into an "integral reality" reveals the rise of a new teleological system.

Transcendence Act 1: Thus Ceased the Leviathan

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The land shakes, and darkness rules. The thunderous breath of the Leviathan steams from its oversized nostrils as it rampages through the wilderness, through the darkness, amid the unknown. The leaves and shrubbery shake, and the stark glint of flickering torches fight the rush of air that blows passed them as they are carried at a sprinter's pace in hot pursuit of the mythical creature. Tonight, it will die. Tonight, man will dine on his own self-discovery. The creature is circled, entrenched, captured, and slain. Each man in turn looks deep into the eye of that which, until this very instance, was mystery –myth . This night security subsumes, this night the babes breath will coo in the ease of its safe-keeping, but more than this, man, the tribe, humanity, will be ever more assured that he is the truth –it is he to which all succumbs.

But what is gained by this high humanism? Is humanity ever endowed with greatness in the absence of the beasts that roam the unknown? And what place does God, the soul, or even the subject have when all bows to the reasoning power of human cognition? These complaints of the neglect of the transcendental become ever increasingly problematic when one sees that the human psyche has not necessarily killed God, but he has replaced Him with himself. So, the human subject becomes the all to end all and lights everything with the torches of the technological age. As Baudrillard has suggested, humanity has entered a period of "Integral Reality" in which the out stretch of the human subject seeks to appropriate and transgress that which separates it from the objective, creating a discourse suited and tailored to itself and creating a world that merely projects from the mind; it is a reciprocal relationship where both continually create and influence the other. This is where one might suggest that God has been slain by the bloody hand of post-enlightenment, but this is not the case. Rather, what has been slain is the transcendental or unknown aspect of human existence. The Leviathan, that which constitutes the dark and transcendent aspect of what it means to be human, lies open and dead to a humanity that depends only on that which can be manifested and manipulated in a carceral nexus of technology. What can this possibly mean? Here, it is most significant to see the processes by which the transcendental is lost.

Transcendence: The Sources

Adorno, Theodore W. "On the Fetish Character in Music and Regression of

Listening." The Essential Frankfurt School Reader. Ed. Andrew Arato and

Eike Gebhardt. Continuum: New York, 1993. 272-299.

---. "Subject and Object." The Essential Frankfurt School Reader. Ed. Andrew

Arato and Eike Gebhardt. Continuum: New York, 1993. 497-511...:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

Baudrillard, Jean. "The Murder of the Sign." The Intelligence of Evil or The

Lucidity Pact. Oxford: Berg, 2004. 67-74.

---"On the Fringes of the Real." The Intelligence of Evil or The Lucidity

Pact. Oxford: Berg, 2004. 25-38.

---. "On the World and its Profound Illusories." The Intelligence of Evil or The

Lucidity Pact. Oxford: Berg, 2004. 39-46.

Ellis, John. "Ideology and subjectivity." Culture, Media, Language. Ed. Suart

hall, Dorothy Hobson, Andrew Lowe, and Paul Willis. London: Hutchinson,

1986. 186-194.

..:namespace prefix = st2 ns = "urn:schemas:contacts" />Hall, Stuart. "Encoding/decoding." Culture, Media, Language. Ed. Stuart hall,

Dorothy Hobson, Andrew Lowe, and Paul Willis. London: Hutchinson,

1986. 128-138

Morley, David. "Texts, readers, subjects" Culture, Media, Language. Ed. Suart

hall, Dorothy Hobson, Andrew Lowe, and Paul Willis. London: Hutchinson,

1986. 163-173.