Lacan, Kristeva, Qohelet: Misreading Wisdom (Part II)

Why I Am Such A Genius:

Where are we now? For starters, we are now past the difficult question of enfolding wisdom (see here), thankfully!

Now comes the hard part, our response: We must now do some “heavy lifting” in remaining vigilant as to the ways in which we have enfolded it in the past, are enfolding it presently, and will enfold it in the future. This shouldn’t be so bad, where shall we begin…

Oh, right! Yes..

Well, you see, there are also these variable structures of the “always already enfolding” which often lie in our shadows as though working behind the scenes, which we are called to integrate into our personal unconscious accordingly along the way. The question of trauma also arrives, as someone like Malabou rightly argues in a distinctly Lacanian-Zizekian tone, in the sudden over-turning of the familiar always-already of the Symbolic.

Wait … No, just stop it! I’ve had it up to here! For those of you who by the grace of Althusser can now speak and read French: J’en ai ras le bol! Je m’en fiche! 

I SAID ENOUGH ALREADY! Stop the cutting!

Let us put these critical musings aside for a moment. That is, as we always-already-freaking-know well enough by now — for we have indeed internalized this process to such a high degree — that, for example, “the time is also out of joint” insofar as it is also in joint.

We know that “the moment of decision is madness”, so much that our thought has been conditioned by the valences of dialectics, by looking for dichotomies, by deconstructing or otherwise psychoanalyzing them, by desiring-machines, by the Name-of-the-Father, and by otherwise specialized terms which belong to the obscure corpus of predominately European male thinkers.

May jouissance rain down on me! Or, like “they” always say, thank God I am not “mad” like Artaud was! But then again, Joyce the Irish-mad-man may have had a point himself:  “A man of genius makes no mistakes; his errors are volitional and are the portals of discovery.” So, that is the man of genius, but what of Wisdom? To be a genius is surely to be a genius with the knife. In any case, our “knowledge” is in this way and in large part a traditioned knowledge.

That is, knowledge in the form of “critique” always cuts both ways because that is what it does — it simply cuts, and cuts, and cuts, and cuts. We have a tendency to deal in concepts as one deals in a casino or as one deals on a street corner. I know those e-cigarettes can be annoying to re-charge, but can we learn to quit smoking that Habermas? We know not how much we have been “marked”, as though circumcised by Derrida himself (imagine that!)

We understand, on a more serious note, Bergson’s concept of “duration”, and as such we are pretty well in-tune to the entire dance of continental philosophy. Yes, we step confidently onto the ballroom floor of continental thought with its vast showcase of masks available, choosing carefully which we will wear when the clock strikes midnight. Zizek supposedly doesn’t wear a mask, Lacan wears his own, others infinitely change them as the evening wears on…

We have begun to deal more or less successfully with crises in our own understandings, in our own lives even, such that in our recurrent depressions we evoke the aphorisms, making an offering in front of the altar of Adorno to cure our inner melancholy:

The melancholy science, from which I make this offering to my friend, relates to a realm which has counted, since time immemorial, as the authentic one of philosophy, but which has, since its transformation into method, fallen prey to intellectual disrespect, sententious caprice and in the end forgetfulness: the teaching of the good life. What philosophy once called life, has turned into the sphere of the private and then merely of consumption, which is dragged along as an addendum of the material production-process, without autonomy and without its own substance. Whoever wishes to experience the truth of immediate life, must investigate its alienated form, the objective powers, which determine the individual existence into its innermost recesses. To speak immediately of what is immediate, is to behave no differently from that novelist, who adorns their marionettes with the imitations of the passions of yesteryear like cheap jewelry, and who sets persons in motion, who are nothing other than inventory-pieces of machinery, as if they could still act as subjects, and as if something really depended on their actions. The gaze at life has passed over into ideology, which conceals the fact, that it no longer exists. (Minima Moralia: Reflections from Damaged Life)

Tu quoque, my friend! Tu quoque indeed! How’s this for a reading of Adorno-against-himself! Ha-ha-ha!

We may live the good life at last … yes, thanks only to the “critique of ideology” and the plurality of “tools” provided to us by our favorite critical theorists and other fellow travellers. Nothing passes through the critical car wash with the Big Other still in place, if you know what I mean! I reflect momentarily upon the stack of books I’ve read — thousands upon thousands of pages — and I am in some sense proud of myself, and yet at the same time so ashamed as to what has been left behind me.

I can muster but one prayer: Thanks be to Christus Hegel our Absolute Lord and Ideal Savior! In Lordship and Bondage, Amen.

How many of us read now read The Collected Works of Michel Foucault more often than we do The King James Bible? If your hand isn’t raised, well, you know what Derrida (…that’s called a “re-doubling” if you didn’t catch it earlier…. Another Derrida? see here) says about Jean-Luc Nancy in On Touching… what? At least he’s not telling you to cut off the other one, too… am I right?

The sound of your own Vox[el] speaking:

Deconstruction at times shines like “cheap jewelry” hanging off our necks, Marxism ironically becomes its own “alienated form”, SR/OOO reads like “…inventory-pieces of machinery, as if they could still act as subjects, and as if something really depended on their actions” … is that too harsh a critique?

Our self-maintenance, self-control, self-awareness, and self-censorship — This whole “learning to live, finally” business (and it is indeed like a business) should start becoming second-nature to us as we come to know ourselves intimately both in and through our unintended acquisition of Wisdom, we have stumbled upon it as if by accident.

We know that we cannot “actually arrive”, that we can only ever “begin to begin”, that for precise psychoanalytic reasons there is not really such a thing as “accidents” or “coincidences”, that with a radical reversal “precisely the opposite is true”, … and must I continue on? We, the inheritors of the legacy of critical theory, we have become quite autonomous. We need not even think for ourselves anymore, cf. Benjamin in that one book he wrote. Haven’t we become now so machine-like? It is time, I think, to become human again.

I am obviously talking about we who have “mastered” reading some of the most ridiculous passages known to man — and the Germans, from Kant to Heidegger, that means you! We who can pick up the ideas of new thinker, pick up any given “line of flight”, and tear it to shreds with our critical knowledge if we will, if we feel so provoked.

We who can jump freely through all the hoops and knots alike are… are we? …  beginning to realize the fault of our critical ways, realizing this upon being repulsed perhaps by Badiou’s pompous style that “mastery” is itself a significant problem that we have left out of the equation. We are realizing, I hope, that our “auto-positionality” matters, at least just a little bit.

We have seen, along with a few others like Medhi Belhaj Kacem, the need to re-introduce a spirit of creative “free thought” into our lives again, along with the possibility — No, silly me, I forgot to remember, it’s a Freudian “necessity” — of “error” and “slipping up” and even maybe “being wrong”.

 Voxel phantom

That is, can we learn to  think on-the-run, with fast-and-loose demarcations that perhaps fizzle out after their limited use, without such fossilization? A make-shift, rough-and-dirty thought, whose form is perhaps constant only like a polygonal mesh-based voxel phantom, but whose content varies with the (medical) Crisis situation at hand. Transference, yes, albeit transference narrowed so as to reach all the “critical” areas. This is our “vision of the Body”, of the “flesh” in its vulnerability.

And, what’s more, as we begin to rise above ourselves, or rise below ourselves with the movement of the Under-man as the case may be (see here), with construct-awareness (see here) of course included in our midst, these “personal” issues we have will become minor as we open ourselves up to entend (see here) those of an Other.

Was Joyce speaking visibly what Freud thought to be invisible? What is therefore invisible in Joyce, if everything is on the table? Is it perhaps Wisdom’s working? Can we begin to hear the sound of our own Vox [voice] speaking? Can we hear the acoustic vibrations and the way they resonate inside the ear of an Other? Can we see its phantom, its specter, before it even comes to exist as such (see here)?

Ha! – I haven’t said anything new since my first post on Hegel (see here). Sign here, and here, and here! You did read the fine print when you signed up, didn’t you?

Wisdom in the porno-tropics

If philosophical problems arise when language “goes on holiday”, then welcome one and all to Wisdom in the porno-tropics!

Sometimes, it is wise to create a “problem” or to “make a fuss” where there is none, just to be safe. A lack of a (meta-)Crisis may at times be a great cause for concern.

This development of Wisdom thus arguably requires a tropological analysis, or a reading-in-the-tropical sense. It is perhaps more accurately called a “glossing” as one would hopefully cover oneself with sunscreen on a hot sunny day. In some ways a critique of “reading” or “consuming texts” as we do, it is instead related intimately with matters of health, safety, and healing.

If you do not apply it correctly, so to speak, you will be burned by the vision-in-Sun, with its Ultra-Vladimir rays.

Wisdom sits at such a base-level of intellect, a level we all may grasp as human beings. It is a level consisting of fundamental questions pertaining to “harm” and “violence”, and therefore also the possibility of amelioration and of an originary, thoughtful non-violence put into action.

We are met at this fundamental intersection by those whom we have so long critiqued (I mean the “moralists”, we know them all too well), finding a strange friend in those who are Wandering over slowly from the other direction, from their long winding (“idealist”) path of mysticisms and spiritualities, with its own New Age worries handled accordingly just as a skilled post-Marxist may handle neo-liberals.

It is at this cross-roads that I believe Wisdom sits, for her great critique — if she has one — is always an immanent one. Here, for us, she hands down the tomes entitled The Critique of Critical Reason or perhaps even The Critique of Pure Interest (see here). Wisdom is “rigorous” therefore in the sense that it covers thoroughly all the “critical” areas, and yet remains strangely informal insofar as it blends into your skin and often goes unnoticed.

Like, perhaps, mentioning Heidegger’s concept of techne ever so casually, while wearing a Hawaiian shirt, eating the latest seafood catch somewhere in a Tiki-bar restaurant. Or, maybe, like writing Saussure’s diagram on a napkin, applying just the right dose of “structuralism” or maybe of “enlightenment” at precisely the right time.


The answer to this peculiar question of enfolding Wisdom is in the last instance revealed to be a matter of style.

In building upon our prior tacit axiology (see here), we are reminded that this is a unique and personal question relating to individual values. In realizing the actuality of the “salvic archetype”, for instance, how are we as individuals to live out our “salvation”?

Anne McClintock famously writes in Imperial Leather that there is a phenomenon of European cartographies which serves as “…a porno-tropics for the European imagination- a fantastic magic lantern of the mind onto which Europe projected its forbidden sexual desires and fears”. It is here where we become wary of even the most well-thought out onto-cartographical or otherwise diagrammatic projects, whether in the Lacanian tradition such as with that of Levi Bryant, or with Felix Guattari’s recently published and quite important work Schizoanalytic Cartographies (see here).

That is, if it bears the mark of “Europe” and the West in general, it already warrants a certain amount of suspicion (My words included!).

Even the most frequently-used tropes in my own project, namely “Wilderness” and “Wanderer” (see here), have the potential to become loaded in such a way which is perhaps reminiscent of a terrible Manifest Destiny if we pay attention to the tropes. There is, let us not forget, Eros at work. There is the Apollonian working alongside – and not against – the esteemed Dionysian life-affirming spirit.

Wisdom demands: when enfolding, it is important to sometimes misread and attend primarily to well-being in its place. It may well be the “necessarily foolish” counter-point to the genius’ series of volitional errors.

Misreading wisdom is question of (re-)enchantment in the right way, that is, in a balanced way which enfolds the mise-en-scene non-violently .

Universal ability to enchant:

What have we gained as critical theorists, as “readers” of any “text” we can get our hands on? My argument is simple: We have gained the “universal ability to enchant”.

Do we, like Lacan and the Christians, affirm the R-S-I Borromean knot or the Trinity as kept together by the fourth, the sinthome which ought to be [but often is not] the feminine wisdom and general orientation of the Qohelet? Or, do we, like the Gnostics, like the occultists, like some Buddhists, and like many others affirm a four-quadrant structure of balance, placing her as though directly in our view (often in the Lower Left)?

Well, it depends. We must be flexible so as to be able to work with both or neither. A great paper by David Miller can be found here connecting J.L. Marion and questions of “saturation” to Jacques Lacan and “the Real” to Jean Gebser’s call for integralization, the latter not unlike my own calls for continuous integration (see here).

At its basic levels, it is a pragmatic and perhaps also aesthetic question of choosing between three or four. A three-legged stool is more stable than a four-legged one, but is it “stability” we have come to value? In some situations yes, but in others absolutely not.

Indeed, three must eventually become four as our under-standing increases. But to what extent do we value standing-under? At its more complex levels, however, it seems there are many more options: four must become … six, eight, ten, twelve, – more? It is related, at least initially, to a question of how much we wish to endure, how much we wish to cut, and at what point we will just let-go of our grip and let the Other breathe.

Let’s re-start, then, from the other extreme, from the other way around, coming back to where we began.

If we are to place this incomprehensible and paradoxical “actual infinite” at the ground of the Real so to speak (see here) as a condition of possibility of understanding, then the “proper” answer is: There is surely an infinite amount of “rings”, or “quadrants”, and so forth. But then our orientation becomes like that of the poet-philosopher Novalis, as if we were perpetually intoxicated or caught up in a wind of chaotic inspiration. This is, after all, what we do when we try to comprehend infinity — we spontaneously break out into song and dance!

To move with-and-beyond Novalis is therefore not a matter of surpassing or overcoming Novalis at what he does best (…for how could one do that outside of, say, a poetry-slam?), rather it is about letting him step into the limelight to shine given what he does best. It is as though we are overcoming the will-to-overcome. Then, anything less-than-infinite or less-than-nothing is a matter of instrumentality as related to our finite human understanding.

Novalis’ intensity may not at present be the wise thing to do. This heightened level of theo-poetical sensitivity is sometimes too overwhelming and harmful for many of us to handle, except in the rarest of occasions. Kristeva and Lacan are indeed sister and brother in this Freudian drama — And it is to be dramatic!

One (admittedly large) step below the actual infinite may be the “actual trans-finite”, or an expansive “bio-cosmic” perspective. Can we perhaps locate ourselves here? It is desirable, it seems, as it would allow for communication between all traditions — just as Latour seems to intend — while keeping ecological concerns fixed right at the center. Yet, to what extent can a single embodied individual really think so globally in an ameliorative way? Aren’t we instead “condemned” as it were to think and enact wisdom locally, under certain spatial and temporal conditions, in certain communities where the Other has a differing level of understanding? Where not all traditions are present, for instance?

Here, it seems as though we may articulate ourselves alright, but we will not be understood well except for a few exceptional Wanderers. This trans-finite, or otherwise “post-, or better yet non- religious/traditional” sentiment has its strengths and weaknesses as does every other level. Ideally though, I wish to sit just about here where possible. There is on one hand, I believe, a minimized violence and harm due to the “Angelic” mediation, presently with the cost of a greater alienation, with a greater chance of being misunderstood (…and therefore of causing conflict…), but also coming with the grand possibility of bringing-together in a unitive way traditions and individuals which otherwise seem radically divergent.

Resonating trans-sub-lation

Where the poetry becomes incomprehensible, by then “forgetting transcendental realism” (see here), I have gained the non-acrobatic advantage (see here) in being able to explain to others on the ground and despite their back-ground what it is a mad-man like Novalis is doing up there on the tight-rope. It is clear that he, like also Kierkegaard, is enduring so much more in way of despair than I am able or perhaps even willing to carry alone.

This leads me to understand that I am still “marked” as it were by “tradition” (even if it is understood as a plurality) by my past and by those around me, and not necessarily a “religious” past. While we may praise rhizomatic rootlessness, we nonetheless are forced at this stage to recognize the roots — here, I mean the “critical” roots — that are in our very call for rootlessness already, and especially those which condition our thought. To what extent can we lift the revelatory anchor, to what extend is it dragging behind us? (see here)

So, with the critique of critiques, we fall away from this “intellectual capitalism” with its bourgeois-sounding ballroom dances. We realize suddenly that our place of speaking is in the porno-tropics, that we have had the privilege of reading (no matter if it is European philosophy or sacred religious texts) where others cannot, and that it is not enough to disseminate copies of Sartre for all to read so that they may be freed as it were from their ideological chains.

Now, instrumentally speaking, ends and means are to be spun together at this base-level so as to enfold the wisdom, which is a wisdom of non-cutting and non-violence as opposed to such cutting knowledge.

Misreading wisdom means among other things enfolding wisdom in such a way that a 3 or 4-fold re-enchantment takes place that is at once the Good, the Beautiful, and the True woven together with considerations of the Just. Here, we seek not as much “portals of discovery”, but more so “portals of healing” where there is the presence of pain and suffering. We seek “portals of non-violence” where there is a great violence.

Resonance diagramWe seek to bring Synchronicity out of the noise of our Crisis, for this point of resonance is precisely the moment of non-violent resistance where the rigid structures of oppression give-way to the flux of Truth.

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One thought on “Lacan, Kristeva, Qohelet: Misreading Wisdom (Part II)”

  1. I like it that you have such a positive attitude. Your full of that innocence of first philosophy in all its original splendor. Keep it up! Yours is still within the surround of the Sublime. Let’s hop the crusty old farts like me never dampen your enthusiasm! Of course I’ve always been enthusiastic …. just don’t let anyone else know! shooosh!

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