It has been many years since I last considered pursuing philosophy as a profession. I like my relative stability intensely acquaintances with the funk of life sans the vertigo of managing massively inflated abstractions. I’m also not smart enough. Many of you philobros and sisters are hella slick with the intellect, and I believe overall better suited to such things – and please, people, do continue! I enjoy reading your fantasies and watching your public therapy sessions immensely. And I promise to keep scavenging and squandering all the beautific discourses if you keep generating them. That’s the least I can do.
I wonder, though, in considering the kind of ecosystems (material, media, semiotic) we exist with-in if we in the Western enclaves are all just varieties of lunatics put randomly in-charge of the asylum that is hyper-modern capitalism? Academics, the avant garde, bloggers, oil-riggers, feminists, junkies and used cars salesmen – all of us. Perhaps, “philosophy” in its many iterations and permutations is just a certain kind of lunacy taken up a notch, and weaponized for use on the low-intensity battlefields of institutionalized speculation? Or, to paraphrase the anonymous commenter I quote at length below, aren’t professional philosophers just lunatics like the rest of us, rocking back and forth repeating their “notes” and inquiries, as self-affirmations and mantras, hoping to set up psychic defenses against the dark arts of the world? Coping-beings all?
There are people who ask about reality and go into the laboratory or go the route of high level mathematical abstractions, and there are those who work from the nihilistic constraints of Darwinian axioms and are happy to remain within more or less modest statements. The particular problem of the philosopher seems to be his fundamental autism. He doesn’t for a second even begin to understand the world. The world itself- or words like the Real or Being or what have you- are his problem because, holy shit, he hasn’t got a clue what it is or how to operate in it.
Philosophy doesn’t begin in wonder or in disappointment or in the discovery of systematic error per se, it begins in the traumatic horror that I don’t know how to live- I’m a sick man, a maladjusted animal, I mean, look at the others, the millions of others, who seems perfectly content to get on with their lives without ever once really getting stuck on the question of consciousness. The philosopher is sick, damaged, wounded. And not in a romantic swooning way…
This is a time when ISIS is as seductive as Socrates and we’re all trying our best to keep up beat in the face of our own irrelevance and probably annihilation. The end of a cycle? The next stage? I’m sure there is a clever way to talk about it. We’d be just as well calling it what it is: self-induced catastrophe. We’re like the suicide who has jumped from the bridge and changes his mind on the way down. Too late- better make the fall pass more pleasantly, better survive while we plummet and plunge. So we see a resurgence again of that idea of philosophy as a way of life, we see the continued appeals to mysticism Western and Eastern, we see the religious fundamentalisms and their soothing solutions. [source]
And here we are playing in the cyber-muck attempting, with variable effort, to augment “the happy madness of everyday deludedness and self-deception”. But for what ends?
Harold Bloom, an old gnostic fabulist – if there ever was one, once described our universe as a Cosmic Disaster Zone, that the moment of creation was a catastrophe from which we’ve never recovered. For Zizek this catastrophe is an ontological fable of our brokenness, all the up and down. We exist in a realm of pure antagonistic chaos, caught between the mesh of a Lacanian Borromean knot of the Imaginary, Symbolic, and Real; and all our systems of finitude are but the apotropaic charms of the Human Security System (Land), our ideological and fictional safety net we’ve constructed around us, a flimsy film against the monstrous truth: a system that seeks to stave off and defend us from the incursion of the Abyss of the Real. To ‘traverse the fantasy’ is to become like Milton’s Satan in Paradise Lost a navigator of the Abyss. Call it madness, call it Chaos and old Night, call it what you will: the bottom line is that the open wound and trauma of this catastrophe is what drives us onward, our creative and inventive power we so lamely term the human condition hides the inhuman core of our non-being. The spur to our creativity is this very death-drive, both our glory and our sorrow. (Hickman) [source]
I’ll call it Χάος (Khaos), with its dark flesh creeping out into an expansive hyperverse, creating pockets of cosmos with tiny strains life coping, and struggling, and fucking, and speculating their way through existence. And I’ll embrace it because it is me (the very material of ‘I am-ness’), and because there is zer0 that can escape the wild pre-conscious immanence of being.
Even our language and significations participate; which is why Kant was wrong – or at least right in a way he didn’t intend – and the endgame of our attempts to flee the correlationist circle will always result in a return to our experiences of and as the funkadelic flesh of things. Coping-with and rationalizing the world forces us into violent and productive confrontation with the constituent madness at the extimate core life. From this register, perhaps its healthier to stop hiding and just be the best lunatic we can, remaining paranoid and schizoid and nomadic in our confrontations with and as the Real?
I can imagine Slavoj Žižek having his Joker war-paint on when he wrote:
[A]t its most radical, the unnamable Unconscious is not external to Logos, it is not its obscure background, but, rather, the very act of Naming, the very founding gesture of Logos. The greatest contingency, the ultimate act of abyssal madness, is the very act of imposing a rational Necessity onto the pre-rational chaos of the Real. The true point of “madness” is thus not the pure excess of the Night of the World, but the madness of the passage to the Symbolic itself, of imposing a symbolic order onto the chaos of the Real… If madness is constitutive, then every system of meaning is minimally paranoiac, “mad.” [source]
This is the way of things; a creeping unknown that requires a khaotic embrace with new identifications.