Meditations on Psychoanalysis & Noise & Signals & DNA

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I was binge listening to Conner Habib‘s podcast while reading Life Against Death by Norman O. Brown. I had some deep thoughts and now I have forgotten them – so they must not have been that deep!

I am trying to recreate it from my marginalia in Life Against Death. But I just have some notes on Ferenczi and how psychoanalysis is a deeply contextual and relative theory of sexuality. I dont think this is terribly true or profound. However while writing this I did remember what I thought. And I just now now have to marvel at the body and knowledge of the body the wisdom of the body. It is not that by writing we know what we think, because we formulate it in our minds, but by the physical act of writing our bodies can actually create knowledge or can actually know. We do not know anything until we physically express it. This may not be true because people in a locked in scenario can know things – so perhaps I need to re-evaluate this but on to my “deep thoughts”.

Ok so in the title I use the term psychoanalysis not psychology. In Life Against Death there is often a distinction between psychoanalysis and psychology. So I am not really sure of the difference. It seems that psychology is broadly about the study of the mind and the effect of the mind on behavior and interaction and psychoanalysis is specifically about a “psychodynamic” view of behavior …. And by psychodynamic I mean an interplay between the unconscious and conscious. Freud – the father of psychoanalysis quote on quote discovered the unconscious.

Different people have different theories of the unconscious, of what it is and so forth.

I was going to write something longer, but I am watching a movie with my kids so I will keep it brief.

It seems to me that Freud considers the unconscious like noise – that we have these unconscious urges that disrupt us in life or become disrupt us… they are the noise to our conscious signal. Freudian slips and neurotic behaviors are noise they are the unconscious.. and they are only useful in improving the signal.

For Lacan “the unconscious is the discourse of the other.” So the unconscious is not necessarily noise but it is not information, is perhaps something like an encoded string – it has its own structure and must be translated.

For Jung the unconscious is perhaps an opportunity for discovery – an aid in individuation. The unconscious is not noise it is like “junk dna” which turns out to not be junk after all.

Left Hand of Darkness chapter 4

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Here we get a real mad king! Again we are in the realm of anthropology. This is the recording of a story of a folktale. This is a short chapter on the nature of prediction – or augery. Here there is an augery or soothsaying practice called Foretelling. the main foreteller is called Weaver, and this reminds us of the many cultures who compare fate with weaving.

I enjoy practicing various divination methods and my weakness is knowing what kind of question to ask. In this story the problem is the same. The question that the seeker asks is perhaps vague enough that the response is inadequate.

We wonder does fate or destiny proceed in one line- do we have choice. This is a beautiful story – reminiscent of Oedipus Rex. The king asks a question and then tries to prevent the answer or anticipate the answer. Other people intervene and the story spirals or fate spirals to its conclusion of death and madness.

Days have names. Numbers are qualitative. The day the king will die is the 19th day, and this specificity combined with the vagueries of when causes him to become immobile. His kemmerer (lover I suppose), is distraught and tries to help him – offering the foretellers his life in exchange. His life he gives almost immediately after telling the king his story and then shortly there after the king dies on the aforementioned day.

The lover has no money, nothing to pay for his fortune. He must pay with his life – as the foreteller says there is always a price. Why is this? It is not an ethical question – perhaps it is just the nature of the universe that all things exist in equilibrium with mutual exchange and mutual reciprocity. And that us with our judicial systems try to mimic these laws of nature, but nature does not need us perhaps.

The day of death is foretold as the 19th – June 19th is called juneteenth.

Some questions that are alive in me.

What do numbers mean beyond counting?

What are the knots in destiny that move us forward?

Do we have choice?

What is involved in telling the future?

Why does fortune telling involve a price?

Against the Grain – Ch 5

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Today I discussed Against The Grain ch 5 with my anarchist reading group. Against the Grain is a fantastic book.

We are doing a module on slavery.

I have written this before but I will write again.

The first reading was Graeber on Debt, and I dont remember it, the second reading was about how slavery is a transgression/transformation of the social order, the third was about the performance of being a slave and the subversion of the system of slavery, and this final section is about slavery as the heart of nations – that all nations are created from slavery.

I imagine Debt by Graeber and think his notion that colonialism or imperialism has debt as its basis. That you colonized person must may be taxes in my money so you must go out and earn this money. This perhaps can lead to wage slavery or slavery (indentured servitude), but is really setting up a system of control.

In this reading, Scott is saying that slavery is at the basis of the state itself- it is the center (the imperialist/colonies are the periphery). At its core a nation needs biopower to create surplus that sustains the state. The way to get this biopower is to capture and enslave other people. There is a discussion that some early nations have capital cities with names etymologically distinct from their native tongues – like Ur in Sumer. That these represent perhaps an earlier culture or tribe that was captured and then enslaved. Notice that they are enslaved, they are not paying tribute.

In this use of people, people become tools, similar to a draft animal. Women are kept in the center to procreate and create more bodies, men are sent to the periphery and used up until they die. Using women as a machine to generate bodies for the state is behind the institution of marriage (says me not scott). Whatever the cosmic wedding is – at its core the oikos or the domus – leads to domestication – the transformation of humans (and animals) into tools for the maintenance of the state.

So this brings us to another point – is slavery and female subjugation connected at its origin? Is the nation state predicated on the subjugation of women. and that you cannot have a nation without female subjugation. What does it look like to have a society that does not being with the enslavement of women?

The title “Against the Grain” – as my friend Camille says – is about against cultivation. That grain cultivation leads to the nation state and slavery and all the rest. However in chapter 5 Scott discusses a prayer that is made before the dedication of a new temple. The prayer is called against the grain. It creates a state of exception, or a ritual space, where the slave and the master are equals. This is against the grain, because in an equal society – the state of exception – no grain will be cultivated.

Left Hand of Darkness Chapter 3

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I just wrote this whole post out and it was lost. I am completely irritated.

Who is the I that talks? This is the first chapter without context, without framing, and it is a continuation of the story in chapter 1, a traditional tale. We have many voices in this chapter. The inner voice of the narrator, the external voice of the narrator, the voice of the broadcast system proclaiming the treason of our narrators dinner companion in chapter one, we have the voice of new shoes going eck eck eck, we have the voice of the ansible responding to the king’s question, we have the voice of the king, we have the reported voices of scientists who have tried to understand where Genry, the envoy came from and who he is. Madness is a voice.

What do all these voices do? How are all these voices used?

The king is the first person to give the envoy advice. Dont be a tool. He is a tool. Someone once asked me, who am I a tool for. Are these voices tools. In the hand of the king they are. Is information a tool? Genry’s backup plan is to collect information.

We hear about desire and motivation. The Ekumen are motivated by knowledge, trade, community, pleasure, adventure. The king is motivated by fear.

At the end of the conversation Genry realizes that his path here is blocked he must do something new, and so he decides to go elsewhere and collect information. Information In form ation.

Marx Capital Chapter 15 section 8

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This is what I am reading for my Capital Reading Group.

Chapter 15 is about surplus value. Surplus value is a kind of value – it is the value that leads to profit.

Section 8 is on machinery. It is actually a really excellent section, I may suggest that my reading group on slavery read it.

This is a long section so I am going to summarize

First what are the social relations that are produced by machinery? This is an interesting question.

Marx talks about different forms of social relations and production

  1. cooperation (we could call this collaboration) – pre manufacturing
  2. cottage industries or some parts of constructing an item are automated (and a person, often a woman or child operates it)
  3. factory – this is the factory system

As a result of this movement from cooperation to cottage industry to factory social relations change that make it impossible for a person to live like a person – to live according to our species being. The family is disrupted, childhood is disrupted, it becomes impossible for parents to care for for their offspring, the ability to make choices is severely impaired by desperate situations.

These include being forced to work as a young child and not being able to get an education. This also involves a lack of moral education, or non existent moral education, since they are treated as adults as children and placed side by side with adults within their milieu – but these are adults that do not care about them. Also they are subject to unclean conditions and disease and in many instances unable to improve these conditions because of the amount of work and the lack of liberal education and moral education.

When I talk about moral education, I do not mean religion or ethics (I am all about the transvaluation of values), I mean the ability to cultivate any value at all the ability to cultivate an inner life and a core from which to make decisions instead of being reactive. Maybe we should call this psychological education.

There is also a discussion of domestic labor impacted by the factory system – but I did not quiet grok it – perhaps the point was that this is where the most unskilled people went.

That in a factory where machines are automated you do not need knowledgable workers, strong workers, or anything like that, you just need cheap workers that can operate the machinery.

There is a brief discussion of laws (the Factory Act), and the impact of laws on business and factory workers, and it seems that the laws do nothing to really change the situation but to perhaps limit exploitation a bit so things are slightly less miserable,

This section is 30 pages and this paragraph is like 30 sentences – But I tried to get the gist of it.

Left Hand of Darkness – Chapter 2

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Reading Left Hand of Darkness with Aya Natalia… and this is just so much fun.

Chapter 2 is titled The Place Inside The Blizzard. It begins with an attribution that this is from a sound tape, this chapter is from a soundtape. So the anthropology continues. I imagine oral histories and collections of lost languages. The last chapter was a transcription from the ansible, perhaps “supposed” to be a log, but rendered as a story. This story is now an oral history.

It is an origin my it strikes me. It follows a character Gethen. Is this the Gethen who founds the the country Gethen in chapter 1 it is unclear.

We begin with an origin myth of two brothers like the biblical origin myth of cain and able. Except here our brothers are lovers, the twin, the gemini. I am also reading Coming Into Being and there is a curious discussion of the gemini of homosexual male love, of art and culture in opposition to procreation. However here, the twinning is disrupted by procreation. What is happening here? I wonder perhaps biology is different on this world.

Anyway we learn the laws of this culture, suicide is a greater crime than murder. Homosexuality and sex between brothers is condoned. From the creation of these rules a drama is created when the rules are transgressed. We learn the language of this place; kemmer Hearth, Domain. We have sacred numbers 3 days, two days, We also have a sort of somatic, embodied transformation. “He began to crawl forward on knees and elbows. He had no reason to do this.” We then have a mystical experience: the vision of Gethen’s dead brother who is all white (white walker like for you GOT fans). This is the journey. But it is not quite the hero’s journey. It somehow echos the journey of Christian Rosenkreutz. It is a journey of transformation. At the beginning Gethen has a name. Then he becomes nameless, he is exiled, he wanders and then finds a new home, takes a new name, and finally reclaims his old name and can finally die.

I remember from the wizard of earthsea something about names, so this is a LeGuinism.

Some phrases I love

The names are curious Ennoch, reminds me of Enoch (from the Bible and the first occultist), Erhenrang reminds me of the myth of Er that I wrote about yesterday, Gethen remends me of Geth which is the go version of ethereum.

The Myth of Er

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I re-read the myth of er this morning- it is how Plato ends his opus – The Republic.. 100 years ago when I was a student at university I studied Plato. One of the things that surprised me was how every platonic dialogue would end with a myth. I interpreted this to mean that all reason has to be taken on faith, resides in a story, in a dogma – its turtles all the way down – or perhaps the real source of truth/knowledge/meaning is the realm of myth, the unconscious.

The story of Er… Er dies experiences the afterlife and comes back to tell everyone about it. He is in the bardo (that is what we would say in Tibet). This has happened over and over in myth and literature. It is called katabasis – a descent – there are a bunch through out world literature.

So let tell you my experience about reading this story. I was able to focus easily on the how there are judges and how individuals suffer or are rewarded in proportion to their deeds in heaven or hell… and then once they leave heaven or hell they are reunited with old friends and share experiences. They do this in a beautiful meadow – this sounds lovely. I followed all that easily.

What came after I had difficulty following. I don’t know if the translation was clunky, or if the metaphors just made no sense to me, but it was hard to keep focused. There was sort of a description of the architecture of the universe. It involved spindles and whorls and Iwas sort of hoping that someone had made an animation of the myth of er. If someone has can you please let me know. Anyway here are spindles and whorls from the bronze age.

http://www.antiques.com/vendor_item_images/ori_6203_747901732_1139843_bronze_spindle_and_whorls.jpg

Weaving – looms were the first computer – so I imagine that if we were to write an updated myth of Er it would be a computer not a bunch of whorls and things.

Anyway first we learn about the structure of the universe. There is some sort of rope of light that holds the whole damn thing together. There are 8 spheres – corresponding to the plants and the stars and they spin controlled by these spindles and whorls. They have different speeds and colors and they have an associate siren the sings.

Ok so lets just notice the foundational attributes of the universe … speed, color, and music. It is interesting to note that it is not the speed that generates the color or the music that these are all independent. And that the speed is controlled by the spindles with occasional manual intervention (we will get to that). The color comes from ?? and the music is from the sirens – how they end up there what they do etc also big question…. ok so then we have 3 fates – past present future – they manually manipulate different spindles/whorls in different directions. It is interesting how on earth we have four directions, but in the metaverse we have 3.

Then there is a long and involved discussion of how we select our next lives. This is a story of metempsychosis (mispelled). lots are cast to decide who goes first, and then people pick the life they want. There are so many lives, more lives than people who need to choose lives, that I sort of feel even if you are last you may be able to get the kind of life you want. People appear very reactive, picking their next life based on their last life and their reward or punishment. They are not picking according to which life will allow them to be the most just. I mean even if they thought this way this would be a hard question to answer.

It is interesting what this story focuses on versus say the divine comedy, which is about what happens in the afterlife, not what happens after after the afterlife. And I wonder what a katabasis for our contemporary society would look like.

Faust vs Gilgamesh

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I am reading Coming into Being by William Irwin Thompson. It is really fantastic. There are gems everywhere. It is exactly the kind of book I love to read.

I was reading a section on the story of Faust retold from Marlow to Mann, and the tale of Gilgamesh. For Thompson these two stories represent two different epochs or world views. Man selling his soul to the devil for worldly success and man going on a journey to create an ego against nature, the goddess/god and death/time. This is a paraphrase.

This I found quite profound. Ancient man was creating a self, differentiating herself from the natural cycle and from fate. Natural man creating her own destiny. It is really about the creation of destiny apart from fate. Then modern person was about crafting the self, presenting the self, valuing the self. It was an ethical turn. We could say the first movement was ontological and the second turn was ethic. What is success? It is a value. I almost called this aesthetic. But I do believe that beautify / aesthetics is eternal. It is the harmony. Ethics is always changing, it is balancing the harmony, it is brining the aesthetics into being. This makes me think that our current age is about the aesthetic turn. It is about beauty about deep somatic resonance with a creation. It is about pleasure, about feeling good. But it is not a narcissism. It is communal. We will be in true bliss when everyone is in true bliss – and this is why the bodisattvas keep reincarnating.

A Meredith Analysis of Pat Lipsky’s Paintings

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So I have been taking a bunch of classes with Pat Lipsky. I was looking for a painting class like my poetry writing groups where we share work and get feedback – and I manifested it – just like I manifested this delicious cup of coffee next to me as I write this.

For me learning from Pat encapsulates everything that is unquantifiable about education (or learning), what it means to be a student or a teacher, the notion of linages, and I even think a little about tantra and the importance of a guru – that you make a decision as to the path you are going to follow, who is going to be your teacher, who are you going to be influenced by. I think that Pat is quoting someone when she says the most important thing you decide is who you will be influenced by – or maybe she said it herself or maybe I just made that up. What I have learned I cannot record in a blog post, but the records are in my body, my body as expressed in my work, my body as expressed in my decision making on what to be influenced by, my saturday mornings in bed with artist monographs and journals (Paul Klee or Van Gogh) – although I do have a ginormous tomb of Duchamp’s that I keep on my desk. Maybe I am not fully ready to give myself over to a guru.

Anyway lets talk about Pat’s paintings. I took an art history class with Pat and the last class was discussing her work. And now I have opinions. I am not going to display the paintings here. Instead I will put the link and then go to Pat’s site.

And this is going to be very fast and loose – because that is the way I roll

Wavy Lines

Pat says here that some of these paintings represent lines that are related logarithmically … or are the results of logarithmic calculations. I am not sure. In any case some lines go off the page, some end in splatters, some seem influenced by Rothko.

What I see is a perception of the world. The world is continuous. What does it mean to be continuous – it means one thing flows into another, there may be boundaries but there are no ruptures, there are no gaps. And of course I would see this because this is one of my questions is… is the world continuous or discrete.. and I direct you to the paradox of zeno’s arrow. So in Pat’s work are color worlds and lines and composition and I am moved and I can look at these pictures for hours. BUT there is the metacontext – the mind of Pat and in this mind perhaps the world is continuous. The world here also has directionality but I would not say orientation. Again this is another meredith-ism. But I will save this for later

Squares

Keep clicking on next and eventually you come to the squares. I did ask Pat why she did the squares, but I am not going to write it down, because it does not feel right. How ever her answer was about what doing squares did materially, how it alllowed her to paint differently (it was not a conceptual answer). So what is the square/ the grid…

This my friends is discrete. The world is discrete. It is filled with quantum jumps and holes in the number line. It is the why the arrow never reaches the destination. It is the world of the analog computer, of quantification of Descartes. So the world Pat is now painting is descrete.

It also has all four directions. It has microworlds that one can control. The squares sometimes contain little triangles, they have different colors, they need more attention, the paint handling is different. Each square could be its own world. This is a lot of work, a different kind of work than the continuous flow of log I mean doing quantitative analysis is a lot of work. But yes, here directionality has expanded, perhaps we can even say dimensionality. We have four directions. The line has become the square.

Also there is something about the prints that remind me of pixels. The paintings dont, but the prints do. Prints are mediated by technology, the print making device, and this is a further reduction of resolution – so the pixel vision makes sense to me. Just throwing that out there. Pixels are how images are made with discrete math (versus the continuous math of me moving a paint brush).

Up and down squares

So we are going to skip decades and move to the up and down horizontal bar paintings. So these have directionality and orientation. I have no idea why these have orientation but the earlier ones do not. I have to meditate on that. But it is true. What is direction via orientation. Direction is the way something goes, orientation is something that is relation to bodies. So maybe these paintings are embodied in a way the earlier ones were not – I dont know.

So yes color line composition – these are all different. But here there are long rectangles not curves and they have distinct edges for the most part and they go up and down at different rates within the paintings. Why are they embodied in a different way? It could be the color, it could be the way they are distinguished from one another, it could even be their inter-relation on the canvas in that some rectangles start at different points than others.

So this is still a discrete world. It is a world with boxes, but it is a discrete world with orientation. A piece of information has signal and noise. This is how you measure it. It does not have orientation, it does not have a body. Maybe it has direction in that you read it in a certain way for the bits to make sense. And here is a link to Shannon and information theory so you know how smart I am.

So this is beyond information there, the information theory of discrete math. But it is still discrete.

2020-21

So we are back here at the wavy lines. But notice! they are different! The have spaces between them. They are distinct. Continuous yet discrete. The wavy lines are very constant in color, except for one painting that has obvious paint handling and seems a bit Rothko inspired. What sort of world is this now, the discrete continuous… the biological.. the organic. Logs are a way to measure biological phenomenal. Sound volume exists for us to hear on a logarithmic scale. The rectangles and squares are a-personal. The wavy lines with spaces between the lines give me orientation in a way that the ones without do not. For there to be a body there needs to be space within which the body exists. it needs to perhaps be a space that I can imagine my body … my body is perhaps what gives the painting orientation. Or maybe the painting itself has a body, and maybe some paintings have bodies and some dont. Anyway I really loved looking at this paintings and the history of art, and this body of work. For myself I would love to have a body of work, and I suppose I do, but it is not really painting.

Coda

Originally I was going to write about the waves as FFT, fast fourier transforms, and how this describes Pat’s wave paintings. They are like sound waves, or harmonics, and then I was going to talk about the squares as pulses or individual notes 440Hz for A yada yaa. Then I was going to talk about K-space and gaussian distributions as a way to explore painting and visual language. But I am not I am just going to put it here – so I sort of did talk about it.

The Left Hand of Darkness- Chapter 1

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I am reading Left Hand of Darkness with Aya. We are both blogging. Something will come of it, I am not sure what.

How do I write this post? Do I write it for people who have read this book? Do I just write what I feel? Of course I write what is in my spleen.

This book is a book by an anthropologist. We get a structure of society, of kinship, kingship, friendship, we get a discussion of protocol for interaction, we get a notions of gender and sexuality. Sometimes these are introduced via exposition, like that story of the border skirmish. Sometimes these are introduced via the inner ruminations of the narrator, talking about pronouns or referring to certain actions as effeminate or masculine. Sometimes these are introduced via description of events, like the cornerstone made of human blood and bones, and then made from animal blood.

What does it mean to tell a story anthropologically? what other modes are there? This book begins with a framing device. It does not frame the context, like in the arabian nights, these tales are being told one night after another to forestall death. But it frames the story – this is going to be a story, not a regular report, or a log (like in star trek -the captains log). This is interesting – what is this ansible report – it is a story. Stories, as the narrator says has perspective. But this does not make it any less true.

Some quotes and rememberings:

The first investigators called the planet winter

bill dull rufous moon

mindspeech

a man must cast his own shadow

when I say patriotism I mean fear, fear of the other

hire services not people (no slaves)

gongs (instruments, musical)

Orgoreyn

his was the darkest

self-alienation (capitalism is not the only cause of alienation or is it)

The Ekumen doesn’t rule, it co-ordinates (ecumenical and consensus algorithms blockchain)

insane vs sanity (various people are described as insane or sane, the king, the orgoreyn, mr ai)

an integral man

patronage

the common utensil to break ice off beer

Hainish grain

more teeth

gratitude

report

parade

sweat

musical instruments

32 different meanings

Here is a link to Aya’s chapter 1 post.