preface to the 4th edition (w/ pierre klossowski)

3 06 2009

B • something to the effect of wonder. I mean, here we are. here we all are. I mean … what’s happening? I mean … I

P • well … an intensity is at work in everyone. I’m pretty sure. It’s flux and reflux forming the significant and insignificant fluctuations of thought. and while each of us wants to claim a certain portion of this intensity for his or her very own, in point of fact, Bon, it belongs to no one and has neither beginning nor end. contrary to this more or less undulating element, if each of us forms a closed and apparently limited whole, it is precisely by virtue of a … momentary embrace, if you will, of certain traces of this intensity; that is, by a system of signs we call language. so far as the beginning or end of our own fluctuations are concerned we know nothing — even if the sign be the ME, the I, the SUBJECT of all our propositions! it is, thanks to this sign, however, that we constitute our selves as thinking, that a thought as such occurs to us, even though we are never quite sure that it is not someone else who is thinking and will continue to think in us.

B • but what is this OTHER that forms the outside in relation to the inside that we hold our selves to be?

P • well Bon, the sign ME in the everyday code of communication, so far as it verifies our various internal and external degrees of presence and absence … comes to us gratuitously (thank you Peter), all the while assuring a variable state of coherence within our selves and amongst our surroundings. be that as it may, what have you. Everything leads back to a single discourse, Bon, to fluctuations, of what have you, that correspond to the thought of every one and no one. Everything remains a function of the chaos out of which meaning is generated. boing! thus the thought of no one, but this intensity itself, finds its necessity in him or her who appropriates it, and comes to know his or her destiny in a lifetime of memory and … forgetfulness. I’m sorry, Bon, what was your question?

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writt enf orm

1 08 2008

gra
phein
/ rhy
me / wr
ite /
careless in our trans
lation, we call it write
they meant
much more:
carving, draw
ing, painting
(but always clear)
fitting form on
meaning / but
meaning differs
as we write; while writing preservers
it also reserves / that which we
write is cooled from the moment’s
passion which engenders speech / it betrays
it is ever
judicious / punctuation replacing
the voice’s cadence with the rigor
of the eye, enforces an evermore
austere rhythm / we must struggle
to be known, manifest in
our writing /
we enlist, knowingly,
in our impossible attempt

~lawrence wheeler





translator’s preface by larry bowlden

21 07 2008

It is interesting to me that the author of the Prefaces would prefer to call my contribution/critique a Translator’s Preface; perhaps even the author realizes that his work stands in need of a translation or explanation. Unfortunately, I cannot supply it.

Since I am of the opinion that meaning requires a context (that it presupposes a background), I should not be surprised that (for the most part) the meaning of these prefaces eludes me. For even if there is meaning there (which I often doubt), I have not read Derrida (or other deconstructionists), and thus haven’t the context to illumine the meaning. I must admit that each new reading makes the text more interesting, more suggestive, but at this point the prefaces continue to exhibit the character of an inside joke, and I’m not at all sure I want to be on the inside.

I am happy to be reminded (again) that philosophy is at least in part performance, persuasion, art. Just as it is important to remind social scientists that value-free stances are not possible and that the pretense of such a stance only serves to mask (and thus make more dangerous) the underlying values, so philosophers need to be reminded that (contrary to Plato) there is no telling of the truth simpliciter, no language-free or paradigm-free or performance-free discourse. I agree with Heideggar that (by the very nature of the case) all revealing conceals, and conceals just because it reveals as it does. Still, Royer and Lyotard fail to convince me that one cannot use language in some ways where performance is less a feature than in others; I cling to my (perhaps naive) belief that there are uses of language in which the attempt to speak the truth, to describe, to disclose, takes precedence over art or performance. (I admit, however, that I sometimes think that philosophers are suspicious of Nietzsche precisely because he is such a wonderful writer, such a weaver of words; it must be the case that some, even many, philosophers believe that philosophers are in general bad writers for a reason, namely, that speaking the truth requires not-art.) Still, we must be reminded that all speaking/writing is (in part) an attempt to convince, and that all disclosing (unconcealing) conceals, lest we give in again to the grave error that we are getting closer and closer to THE TRUTH.

I also applaud the at least implied claim in the Prefaces that the Russell/Carnap/early Wittgenstein attempt to reduce all meaning to the meaning of the word, and then build from these atomic word units back to a sentence, the paragraph, the whole, is a misguided attempt (for natural language is not a calculus, semantics is not syntax, and this is not a weakness but a strength of natural language). Still, I cannot agree that the text is self-referential (as Derrida seems to), that there is no reference at all (aside from text). I find myself applauding Foucault‘s rejection:

Today Derrida is the most decisive representative of a (classical) system in its final glory; the reduction of discursive practices to textual traces; the elision of the events that are produced there in order to retain nothing but marks for a reading; the invention of voices behind texts in order not to have to analyze the modes of implication of the subject of discourse; assigning the spoken and the unspoken in the text to an originary place in order not to have to reinstate the discursive practices in the field of transformations where they are effectuated … It is an historically sufficiently determined little pedagogy which manifests itself most visibly. A pedagogy that tells the pupil that there is nothing outside the text, but that within it, in its interstices, in its white spaces and unspokennesses, the reserve of the origin reigns; it is not at all necessary to search elsewhere, for exactly here, to be sure not in the words, but in the words as erasures, in their grill, “the meaning of being’ speaks itself. A pedagogy that conversely gives to the voice of the teacher that unlimited sovereignty which permits them to read the text indefinitely.

Finally, both Royer and Lyotard applaud themselves for making no claims. If this were true there would be even less reason to read them than there is. Fortunately, both do make claims, some of which are interesting reminders (others, when intelligible, which are neither interesting nor true).

With some reluctance (not unmixed with pride in the fertility of this young man’s mind), I release the reader to the text, with a final suggestion that it really cries out for a contemporary rock background.





foreward by michael reardon

13 07 2008




ladies & gentlemen … ludwig wittgenstein

13 07 2008

for more than one reason what i publish here will have points of contact with what other people are writing today
if my remarks do not bear a stamp which marks them as mine
i do not wish to lay any further claim to them as my property

i make them public with doubtful feelings
it is not impossible that it should fall to the lot of this work, in its poverty and in the darkness of this time, to bring light into one brain or another
but of course, it is not likely

i should not like my writing to spare other people the trouble of thinking
but if possible, to stimulate someone else to thoughts of their own

i should have liked to produce a good book
this has not come about
but the time is past in which i could improve it





contents (under pressure)

12 07 2008
  • forward by michael reardon
  • translator’s preface by larry bowlden
  • written form by lawrence wheeler
  • preface to the 5th edition
  • preface to the 4th edition
  • preface to the 3rd edition
  • preface to the 2nd edition
  • preface to the 1st edition
  • introduction (with rosalee goldberg on bass)
  • acknowledgements
  • textural inspiration (pages omitted)
  • epilogue by jhan hochman
  • afterword
  • appendix




towards

12 07 2008

an objective interpretation of the ontological reduction of the sign in woody allen’s humor

or

talk about your pouvoir/savoir, a good joke can kill you