Saturday, October 31, 2009

On Ghosts and Such

It is fitting, as tonight is Halloween, to speak of ghosts. Ghosts of memory (we are haunted by memories), ghosts of our dreams and phantasies (what Freud called "wish-fulfillment"), and the specters that disturb the vitality of our meanings, that scare the wits out of any deepest intention.

I refer in the last instance, of course, to the ghostly "quality" of our language. What we breathe into life with speech is haunted also by a g(h)as(tly), presence. The terror of the absence of a secure, tangible body of meaning to hold, which casts our speech cast-away, derelict, waifish.

When we speak what we mean we mean more than we wish. And less. Our language itself, our grammar and its laws, is possessed of itself, and in itself always bear the mark of a a history beyond (but within) the singular unity that is spoken when we say what we mean. When it says more than we mean as we speak. As I write.

Nietzsche reminds of this, exposes this to us--for we always knew it, and our love sprang from this polysemia. Nietzsche loved too deeply to let the lie persist, upon which time he realized he couldn't love any longer.

We are introduced to a new concept, which emerges for the first time with Nietzsche, and in another context, with Kierkegaard: the concept of the will to power, which is nothing more or less than the will to belief, or, what is the same, a will to fiction, to the profoundly superficial, to Baubo's mystery, to laughter.

And to language. Many commentators on Nietzsche do not understand the extremely creative manner of Nietzsche's prose, of his lyrical ping-pong match of meanings that resound throughout the corpus of the sheaf that is the envelop of Nietzsche's meaning. What does he mean, after all?

Nietzsche is the first person who wites for us to ask this question, with the trembling apprehension of a lover.

We shouldn't be surprised. Love is spectral, phantastic, hauntingly possessive, terrifyingly intrasitive; profoundly narcissistic. Love delivers our messages, but never to anyone other than ourselves, the ghosts of meaning that are intangible, but which elicit the electrification of our skin, our hair stands on end, our spine wavers. We sent these devils away without question itself: we exorcised ourselves of them.

And when you allowed the tighly bound appendage to remain mummified, the bone one eats around, then the ghosts seemed to have evacuated the burial ground of my love. The dry, dead earth chaps whatever friction might have generated heat, and the gasp of the ghastly rasps its way out of parted lips. Heraclitus' heat banishing moisture, drunkenness, Dionysus.

And I was left with parted lips, with the return of the question, of the phantastic wheeling-back-upon of the repressed, which refused to be condensed, rarified; entombed. The death of narcissus, the death of the cicada.

The death of love, when that ghost is exorcised--or what is the same: when it re-possesses in the return of the repressed: the haunting of memory--this is the moment at which point Nietzsche takes up his spur and writes (the trace). As if to conjure back those life-giving specters.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I Need You To Pretend That We Are In Love Again (or: It's been a while.)

Fragility is utterly terrifying. I realized last night, while with J., that I avoided what I imagined was a hostile reception at school, a knowing reception. I claimed sickness, and stayed home. Sleeping, mostly. Recovering from a weekend spent running around Manhattan and Brooklyn, trying to keep up with my friend, the Pearl Diver, and presenting a paper before an unsympathetic "analytic" audience. I barely slept. I barely was able to think on my feet. I was still able to dance. This is what is so frightening: when reduced to the ultimate bare minimum degree of functionality, I still can dance. Shoot a question regarding Plato, I parry; again with a volley on Aristotle, I deflect, absorb, pause... then fire. A deep breath, the fire of reckless daring, and I fire. The question, so triumphant, so haughty in its knowing conceit... it limps now, shot through the knee: unable to swagger. I smile, a drunken smile--tinted green and hazy (I want to be, after all, a sailor--and a murderer, and a poet).

I am afraid of revealing before J. the weaknesses that make me fundamentally human. The notion that after seeing and hearing such abjection he would be so thoroughly repulsed, so wholly put-off... I fear and loath my own frailty. Without sounding too presumptuous, I think it is impossible to fully divulge oneself to another human being and have that wholesale outpouring received, reciprocated, and loved. Fundamentally, we are ugly creatures. We adorn ourselves with some many trappings, so many disguises, so many postures--all to conceal what we most fear.

It is, I think, more likely that we allow ourselves to, as if in a peek-a-boo box, flash those moments of disgusting human frailty. But these moments are dispersed--not only in time, but in space: we reveal certain moments of ourselves to others--but only so much.

I think this is why we need friends. Nietzsche writes, of the friend, "A friend should be a master at guessing and keeping still: you must not want to see everything. Your dream should betray to you what your friend does while awake.//Your compassion should be a guess--to know first whether your friend wants compassion. Perhaps what he loves in you is the unbroken eye and the glance of eternity. Compassion for a friend should conceal itself under a hard shell, and you should break a tooth on it. That way it will have delicacy and sweetness."

And, "You do not want to put on anything for your friend? Should it be an honor for your friend that you give yourself to him as you are? But he sends you to the devil for that. He who makes no secret of himself, enrages: so much reason have you for fearing nakedness."

And, from The Things People Call Love--"... Here and there on earth we may encounter a kind of continuation of love in which this possessive craving of two people for each other gives way to a new desire and lust for possession--a shared higher thirst for an ideal above them. But who knows such love? Who has experienced it? Its right name is friendship."

Friendship, for Nietzsche, is the 'venue' in which the slivers of despair may be exposed, to be shown so as to be ridiculed, mocked, laughed into oblivion. For lovers who one trusts--with one's body: such laughter is curative.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Brief Relexions

Reading again, like a mad man. She assigns only 50 pages, but from a book I should have read long ago. I read the whole thing. I read with an audience, always already, in my mind: my archivists, myself in 3 weeks, 3 months, 3 years, and my peers who will hear my reflections based on these readings. I become increasingly fevered, increasingly critical, increasingly self-critical--I am slowed in my reading: everything says too much. I hear the reverberations of all those prior books, the matrix begins to adjust, to incorporate this book, too, into its web: the connexions are re-strung, new resonances ring: I am full of noise, like a mad-man; a Rite of Spring: a riot ensues.

And there is J., who in his innocence I simply adore and grow simply more and more fond of, more indebted to, more alive with. It was hammers and nails tonight as he worked, and when I arrived with his requested sustenance we retreated from the storm to the fold of an awning and lavished one another with the banalities of our days that I have come to see as the "stuff" of our life together--these tenuous threads that only ever get woven (again) when the sun rises (like Penelope at her loom): our fabric. There is J., who is so admirably accepting me, as a mad-man, in the throws of a riotous re-stringing, of all this tension and contortion. That he can find concord in this discordance is a miracle: the miracle of being welcomed, which can neither be earned nor explained.

My miserable neighbor, who earlier this morning (1am) was incapable of getting into his apartment (again), and who I had to help into his apartment (again), only this time with the boy he brought home--he was just denounced as an asshole by this same man, who hurled it behind him in the time it took for the screen door to open and then slam shut. I heard this from my desk, through my door, at 3.34am. Miserable because he is a rank alcoholic, a sorry example of the sort of homosexual who cannot be intimate with another man unless drugged or drunk, and who, thus, cannot be intimate with himself. I return, again, to Freud's insight: the homosexual as the paradigmatic example of civilization's discontents: a hyperbolic case, to be sure, but an apt one, too.

The Rhetor (my new moniker for my long-time friend now in Canada) is having troubles with his g/f. I love them both, though I will always "side" with him, I suppose. Out of loyalty, out of shared experiences, out of fraternity(?).

And then there is J. What an anomaly in my life! A mad-man, himself, perhaps. There is, as Nietzsche writes, always some madness in love, but also always some reason in madness... I am pleased with the madness, and need not look for the "kernel" of reason. That is, I am happy with the love.