Archive for the ‘Freedom’ Category

What happens when the monster becomes simply a sign-post, but a remarkable one of immanent processes of becoming? Recall what Michael Hardt says of the remarkable in Spinoza,

Here we are confronted with the Spinozian principle of the singularity of being. As a first approximation, we could say that singularity is the union of monism with the absolute positivity of pantheism: The unique substance directly infuses and animates the entire world. The problem with this definition is that it leaves open an idealistic interpretation of substance, and allows for a confusion between the infinite and the indefinite. In other words, from an idealist perspective, absolute substance might be read as an indetermination, and pantheism might be read as acosmism. Deleuze’s reading, however, closes off this possibility. Being is singular not only in that it is unique and absolutely infinite, but, more important, in that it is remarkable. This is the impossible opening of the Ethics. Singular being as substance is not “distinct from” or “different from” any thing outside itself; if it were, we would have to conceive it partly through another thing, and thus it would not be substance. … The distinction of being rises from within. Causa sui means that being is both infinite and definite: Being is remarkable. The first task of the real distinction, then, is to define being as singular, to recognize its difference without reference to, or dependence on, any other thing. The real nonnumerical distinction defines the singularity of being, in that being is absolutely infinite and indivisible at the same time that it is distinct and determinate. Singularity, in Deleuze, has nothing to do with individuality or particularity. It is, rather, the correlate of efficient causality and internal difference: The singular is remarkable because it is different in itself. (Hardt, Gilles Deleuze 62-3)

Let us consider carefully this passage from Hardt. (more…)

Monstrosity problematizes becoming. Monsters have been within me and my ecologies for so long, as an immigrant child learning English in Flushing, New York, in my filmi dreams co-evolving with the pirated Hindi and Bengali VHS library spawned by my mother’s VCR, in the desiring conjunctions of friends and lovers, in the improvised fairytales between father and daughter at bedtime. But when does the monster—a discrete figure—become a vector of mutation across a material, embodied field of force? Monstrosity promises a reorganization of force, habit, and the body, but this promise of a line of flight is always submerged under various products or static entities: the monster, technology, difference.

I consider monstrosity a certain type of event in relations of force. What is important about monstrosity, that is, what is problematic about it from the point of view of radical political practice is my central concern in this essay. I argue that this problematising of monstrosity can only happen through the careful yet ad hoc construction of a pragmatic method of potentializing capacities and returning to what Henri Bergson and Gilles Deleuze call the virtual. In what sense is duration a method of counter-actualizing the monstrous event toward the virtual? What experimental forms of thought, exchange, art, politics, and pedagogy would express this method and remain untimely in relation to the event of mutation itself? Thought revitalized by the body far from equilibrium.

To situate this argument I will contrast two figures of thought: the monster as punctum in space and time, and a thoroughgoing ontology of monstrosity rooted in duration, intensity, and the virtual. For example, in Philosophy and the Adventure of the Virtual: Bergson and the Time of Life, Keith Ansell Pearson analyzes what he sees to be the central difference between Henri Bergson’s notion of creative evolution and Alain Badiou’s theory of the event. While for the latter, the event “has no relation to duration, it is a punctuation in the order of being and time (if it can be given a temporality it is only of a retroactive kind)” (71), for Bergson the repetitions (refrains) that constitute lived duration are generative of difference in itself, a qualitative, self-varying, and distributed difference of correlated processes. As Ansell Pearson puts it,

It cannot be a question of reducing the present to the status of being little more than a mere brute repetition of the past – if it were, it would be difficult to see how time could be given in Bergson’s conception of a creative evolution (there would be nothing creative about it and there would not even be a phenomenon we could describe as evolution), but rather of thinking a duration ‘in which each form flows out of previous forms, while adding to them something new, and is explained by them as much as it explains them . . .’. (71; quoting Henri Bergson’s Creative Evolution, 1983: 362).

This nondialectical difference between on the one hand what I will call an ontology of monstrosity and on the other with what might be termed the punctum of the monster has everything to do with the nature of difference and becoming. Is the monster a discourse, is it a metaphor, analogy for something else, i.e. capitalism, patriarchy, or racism? Is the monster a representation that slides across the surface of discourse, something in the nature of a stain or trompe l’oeil? It will come as no surprise that representational analyses have dominated the thought of monstrosity in contemporary Western criticism. There are several reasons for this, but perhaps chief amongst them is the very fact that the monster has become mechanism of producing humanist value. And so the fixation on the punctum of the monster (the monster as state enemy—i.e. the monster as terrorist—as much as the monster as conceptual abyss, as a figure of abjection and exception—Homo Sacer, differance) in fact in differently positioned critiques ends up taking the monstrosity out of the monster, and after some buffing with this or that discourse is presented as the Other—all with very real effects on the life chances of actual people and populations.

But what if monstrosity comes to reenchant the world, as Prigogine and Stengers once put it? Such a reenchantment would have ontological implications because monstrosity-events are involved in the explication of intensive difference in the world. In other words, and conversely, in what sense is monstrosity an effect of a kind of experimentation or creation within intensive multiplicities? Or is monstrosity merely the cultural trace of a bodily intuition, the method of which must begin and end with duration?

“Marketing is an organizational function and a set of processes for creating, capturing [added by the authors], communicating and delivering value to customers and for managing customer relationships in ways that benefit the organization and its stakeholders.” Dhruv Grewal and Michael Levy, Marketing (London: McGraw-Hill, 2008) i

Let us begin with a refrain developed in previous postings: value, sense, force. What follows will differentiate from the trite position that marketing pedagogy is a biopolitical project. That marketing seeks to goad life into mutation and habituation, and to raise the power of information to the nth degree seems almost obvious. This much is true of marketing: sensation-desire-information are its very lifeblood. By adding the participle “capturing” to the definition the authors show clearly that some mechanism (or abstract diagram) is necessary to assemble flows of communication with the production of consumer desire (cf. Virilio, Information Bomb 17). That is not a turgid sentence. It means simply this: that new media advertising builds on the machinery that came before it. Virilio in The Information Bomb tells us that advertising has shifted from the 20th century function of producing consumer desire to what he calls pure communication. Facebook and the spacetime of Web 2.0 (the informatization of everything). Desire needs to be captured and entrained (a neutralizing-potentializing circuit) through and in the flow of information—in the mode of communication—itself. We are all entrepreneurs of the self, even and perhaps in a special way when we disavow that capitalism as the extraction of surplus value from the processes of the world is the destiny of posthumanity. In what sense is marketing pedagogy a biopolitical process? How does marketing situate itself vis a vis the production of desire in the interest of domination? The aim then is to produce mutations in habit that allow an unmediated experience of virtuality. The transvaluation of all values must value becoming.

(more…)

Continuing.

The body is a noncoinciding resonant unity. We have only to demarcate its events. The events of the body, becomings immanent to its intensive processes. It continues in the form of the eternal object, those resonances that move with that tendency or this.

Life moves in clades. Shixmatrics.

‘In other words, the event is not an “object” or a “thing”, which can be represented, but rather a force that creates. Examples of this force can be related to “thought” and “sense”, which are not ways of representing but rather active events that create. As Claire Colebrook notes, “sense is not a faithful double of what is (not a representation) but a cut, fissure, fibrillation or ungrounded difference – not a difference from, nor a difference of, but an event of difference”.’
–The Becoming of the “Event”: A Deleuzian Approach to Understanding the Production of Social and Political “Events” Tom Lundborg

Sense is the event of difference, the becoming of sense.

With these words we announce a program of becoming. In modulating, tweaking capacities to affect and be affected we affirm an ethics of joy and passion, where with Whitehead and Shaviro we as well affirm that the subject–continuous with material flows of biomass, information, energy, and minerals (Delanda)–emerges from the world, as an effect of these intensive flows.

….

Read on: “The semester is once more at a close-Summer 2009…”

Getting a hold of Foucault

What happens to the body in Foucault’s Discipline and Punish (hereafter DP)? Let us specify what body we are speaking of here, because after all it is still such a vague term. The body of docility, but also the productive nexus between capitalism and discipline. The body of the norm, but also the body incited to a microphysics of activity and expression. So already we are speaking of at least two bodies in Foucault: that palimpsest in perpetual dissolution invoked in “Nietzsche Genealogy History,” and the more mundane body of habit, of exercise, of experimentation, and regulation. (I should mention in passing how surprised I was to find that Deleuze had organized a conference on Nietzsche–the only one he ever organized in his career–in the early 60s, and that Foucault had taken an active part in the proceedings; and that together they had been involved in the French publication of Nietzsche’s works–all this in Desert Islands. I suppose my surprise was that Foucault had such an early and long lasting engagement with Nietzsche–it always seemed to me that he became more Nietzschean after The Archaeology of Knowledge, but that is clearly mistaken. So then it is through the laughter of the Nietzschean aphorism–its specific intensities, as Deleuze reminds us–that I re-read these crucial sections of DP).

The first body, the body of discourse, the body that is produced by a power that “writes” it, has been the dominant figure of the body in cultural(ist) criticism for the past twenty years. It is the body of performativity, of the mark, piercing, and the tatoo, it is the queered body of drag and camp. It is the body of a curious productive repression, whose productivity takes only the form of a narrow linguistico-psychic expressivity. What does that mean exactly? The body is thought as something that means, that displaces meaning, that figures linguistic traces, and that dynamizes the psyche with its little traumas-turned-to-discourse (psychotherapy). But what of that other transformation, meaningless on a certain level, but nonetheless forceful and historically decisive, because irreversible: the transformation of the body of the soldier into a docile body through constant practice and the inculcation of the automatism of habit.

The classic representation of such automatism in industrial production is Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times. The first few minutes of this classic is worth watching carefully.

The meanies of correct training

Read on: “The problem here is that Foucault straddles both conceptions of the body…”

Bergson writes in Time and Free Will: “To say that the same inner causes will reproduce the same effects is to assume that the same cause can appear a second time on the stage of consciousness. Now, if duration is what we say, deep seated psychic states are radically heterogeneous to each other, and it is impossible that any two of them should be quite alike, since they are two different moments of a life-story. While the external object does not bear the mark of the time that has elapsed and thus, in spite of the difference of time, the physicist can again encounter identical elementary conditions, duration is something real for the consciousness which preserves the trace of it, and we cannot here speak of identical conditions, because the same moment does not occur twice. It is no use arguing that, even if there are no two deep-seated psychic states which are altogether alike, yet analysis would resolve these different states into more general and homogeneous elements which might be compared with each other. This would be to forget that even the simplest psychic elements possess a personality and a life of their own, however superficial they may be; they are in a constant state of becoming, and the same feeling, by the mere fact of being repeated, is a new feeling. Indeed, we have no reason for calling it by its former name save that it corresponds to the same external cause or projects itself outwardly into similar attitudes: hence it would simply be begging the question to deduce from the so-called likeness of two conscious states that the same cause produces the same effect. In short, if the causal relation still holds good in the realm of inner states, it cannot resemble in any way what we call causality in nature” (199-201). 

Now this brings us to some of the fundamental shifts that Bergson hopes to achieve in the history of philosophy. First, causality in nature is not the same causality of lived duration. Causality, the principle of logical necessity between cause and effect, is an abiding concern in Bergsonian theory, from Bergson himself through to Prigogine, Deleuze, Massumi, Hansen, Grosz, Delanda, Shaviro, and onward. One might pose usefully it seems to me the relation between Deleuze’s quasi-cause (as elaborated in the Logic of Sense) and Bergson’s non-linear causality of becoming. What is most important in this relation? First, time is an irreducible component of all physical and psychic being, its being in belonging to mixtures of co-evolution. Assemblages only happen in time, although time is not “of” an assemblage (by which we mean that temporal relations cannot give us “types” of assemblages, only statistical probabilities and their indefinable unfolding, patterned but stochastic). In that sense, non-linear causality helps us to pose becoming as an unfolding of resonant processes, which while statistically regular on large scales (robust to shocks), are nonetheless open to chance and mutation at other scales of interactions. This breaks with the notion that causes are fixed, unified, and predictable–they are none of those things in the short (human consciousness) and long (embedded timescales of evolution) run. 

But this brings us to a lingering problem in Bergson–at least in this text (we might usefully compare this to the much later Creative Evolution). Why does Bergson reduce pure succession to lived durations in consciousness? Many times, he insists that pure duration is only so for a consciousness which endures. But does this have to be so? Many today would argue that everything–from a sugar cube on fire or dissolving in a glass of water to the swirling hurricane-like vortex at Saturn’s south pole (see http://ciclops.org/view/2313/Looking_Saturn_in_the_Eye)–endures. Stuart Kauffman asks rightly by what criteria do we say such phenomena (he is mostly talking about dissipative structures like the vortex Great Red Spot on Jupiter, not sugar cubes! See At Home in the Universe 20-21) is or is not alive. There is a lively debate here on the nature of life, and it centers precisely on duration and non-linear causality. 

There are other relations to also keep in mind with the above quote. The insistence that no psychic state can have a predictable causal relation to subsequent psychic states is part of the larger project of grappling with the pure succession “by imperceptible steps” of intensive processes. That time cannot be figured (or pre-figured, as Bergson shows in his analysis of the future in present causality) as space–indeed, once it is figured at all, as symbolical representation, time becomes space–is the central thesis of this thesis (yes, this was his doctoral thesis, sheesh!). Time is a continuous, non-quantifiable multiplicity, and the aim of Bergson’s thought is to aspire to a form of intuitive rationality commensurate with time’s becoming. 

 

Some definitions: endos·mo·sis (en′däs mōsis)noun, in osmosis, the more rapid, inward diffusion of the less dense fluid through the semipermeable membrane to mingle with the more dense

Hylozoism is the philosophical conjecture that all or some material things possess life, or that all life is inseparable from matter.” 

Thus, Bergson glosses a fluid, imperceptible transference as a habit of thought: “We have seen that, though our deepest conscious states exclude numerical multiplicity, yet we break them up into parts external to one another; that though the elements of concrete duration permeate one another, duration expressing itself in extensity exhibits moments as distinct as the bodies scattered in space. Is it surprising, then, that between the moments of our life, when it has been, so to speak, objectified, we set up a relation analogous to the objective relation of causality, and that an exchange, which again may be compared to the phenomenon of endosmosis, takes place between the dynamic idea of free effort and the mathematical concept of necessary determination? But the sundering of these two ideas is an accomplished fact in the natural sciences” (218). Bergson has just suggested that “Here again the mistake made by consciousness arises from the fact that it looks at the self, not directly, but by a kind of refraction through the forms which it has lent to external perception, and which the latter does not give back without having left its mark on them” (217). The aim here as elsewhere is to restore to consciousness pure duration, and to stop treating time “as a homogeneous medium” (220); the obstacle is consciousness itself in its habits of reducing pure succession to simultaneity, difference to the homogeneous, and thus spatializing what ought to be understood as enduring. 

“We have seen that, though our deepest conscious states exclude numerical multiplicity, yet we break them up into parts external to one another; that though the elements of concrete duration permeate one another, duration expressing itself in extensity exhibits moments as distinct as the bodies scattered in space. Is it surprising, then, that between the moments of our life, when it has been, so to speak, objectified, we set up a relation analogous to the objective relation of causality, and that an exchange which again may be compared to the phenomenon of endosmosis, takes place between the dynamic idea of free effort and the mathematical concept of necessary determination?” (218). One could easily object that what after all is “our deepest conscious states”–is it some kind of essentialism of consciousness, and even more troubling doesn’t Bergson assume that he has gotten (we readers) there? Like many of the problematic terms that Bergson uses–purity, for me, most of all–it seems that the deepest conscious state actually turns out to be a confused mixture of imperceptible succession. But, then, could free will be located in something so confused and heterogeneous?

“We can now formulate our conception of freedom. Freedom is the relation of the concrete self to the act which it performs. This relation is indefinable, just because we are free. For we can analyse a thing, but not a process ; we can break up extensity, but not duration. Or, if we persist in analysing it, we unconsciously transform the process into a thing and duration into extensity. By the very fact of breaking up concrete time we set out its moments in homogeneous space ; in place of the doing we put the already done ; and, as we have begun by, so to speak, stereotyping the activity of the self, we see spontaneity settle down into inertia and freedom into necessity. Thus, any positive definition of freedom will ensure the victory of determinism” (219-20). 

What is after all concrete? Does it have a difference resonance in French? We would need to check the French which I have not done…But strikingly freedom is a relation of a body (a perceiving, cognizing, multiplicity) to specific kinds of actions; but this relation is graspable not as a definition but a definite process with a definite, but non-spatial, non-repeatable, singular, and irreversible duration. 

“To sum up ; every demand for explanation in regard to freedom comes back, without our suspecting it, to the following question Can time be adequately represented by space ? “To which we answer : Yes, if you are dealing with time flown ; No, if you speak of time flowing. Now, the free act takes place in time which is flowing and not in time which has already flown. Freedom is therefore a fact, and among the facts which we observe there is none clearer. All the difficulties of the problem, and the problem itself, arise from the desire to endow duration with the same attributes as extensity, to interpret a succession by a simultaneity, and to express the idea of freedom in a language into which it is obviously untranslatable” (221). 

So what then do we do with this undefinable relation, this fact called freedom? It is to insist the the absolutely undetermined event must be the constituted outside of all relations, all actions of the brain or body, the embodied mind, are constituted by this outside folded into the repetitions of its intensities. But note then that the folding of freedom into a process without end, or foreseeable product, is to insist that the aim of life is to actualize this experience of freedom by giving oneself to a given practice. The outside becomes the most intimate, and even the very stability of subject and object breaks down in duration. The outside simply turns out to be the virtual proceeding of the actual. 

There remains the problem of adequation. Is the language used by Bergson–intensity, sensation, sympathy, duration, succession, freedom, relation, action, perception–is this the language which best expresses the idea of freedom? And if it does, has this language escaped the spatializing tendency of symbolical representation? How?

The obvious, if not quite fully satisfying answer, is that Bergson defines this language as without definition, without visual perspective, the done product grasped in vision as opposed to the imperceptible unfolding of the lived duration of an event: a kind of synaesthesia of time. So in that sense the formulation (as translated) of Bergson’s triumphant sentence last quoted has this double sense, of a thought that has not left the desire for adequation, and thus for space, and a dim realization of a method that has found a kind of transcendental empiricism as its practice. To grow old and young in the event at once, to discover the untimely in all things, at every moment as an affirmation of freedom. But perhaps the post-Nietzschean/ Deleuzian experiment with Bergson is our new spatialization (for an attempt to practice something like that for media assemblage theory see: Deleuze, Cinema, and Zen: Break the Motor)? Is it not possible that concepts once monstrous but now part of the machinery of capture and domestication, as they enter the world of philosophy, of sociology, or literary and media criticism inevitably ossify the durational into the spatial, become the product (with their own cultural capital accruing or waning) of that which has already escaped it?  

How to think durational movement without product, space, simultaneity–without telos (goal, aim)? How could such a thought make a claim to 1. thought, 2. politics, 3. the future?

A practical way to go forward here is to compare some of Bergson’s theses on duration to Suzuki on Zen. In his 1951 paper “The Philosophy of Zen” (Philosophy East and West, 1:2, 3-16), Daisetz Suzuki writes that “When I say that Zen is life, I mean that Zen is not to be confined within conceptualization, that Zen is what makes conceptualization possible, and therefore that Zen is not to be identified with any particular brand of ‘ism'” (3). I take conceptualization here to mean symbolical representation, that it comes out of life itself, or what Bergson calls lived duration. Suzuki goes on to say that the experience of Zen is best expressed–again we are to contemplate what forms of expression, language, indeed (non)conceptualization best describes the non-conceptualizable–by the doctrine of sunyata which “means emptiness” but has no direct equivalence in English. It is not a negative term, it “is a positive concept with a definite connotation, but it ought not to be considered an outcome of abstraction or generalization, for it is not a postulated idea. It is what makes the existence of anything possible, but it is not to be conceived immanently, as if it lay hidden in or under every existence as an independent entity. A world of relativities is set on and in sunyata; sunyata envelops, as it were, the whole world, and yet is in every object existing in the world” (4). Sunyata is the experience that reconciles the contradiction between immanentism and transcendentalism. 

When we are out of sunyata we experience the duality of object/subject, but in it we are “in Zen.” “To experience means to become aware of, but not in the way in which we become aware of the world of sense-and-intellect. In the latter case, we always have a subject that is aware of something and an object of which the subject is aware, for the world of sense-and-intellect is a dichotomous world of subject and object. This unique way consists in sunyata’s remaining in itself and yet making itself an object of experience to itself. This means dividing itself and yet holding itself together” (5). Clearly, sunyata would be an experience that would fundamentally call into question causality and non-contradiction, and in that sense Bergson’s notion of the qualitative multiplicity of lived duration before symbolical representation would help us to affirm this experience. But, on the one hand, Suzuki is too categorical in his dismissal of logic. Aren’t there different logics which proceed through the pragmatism of functional mixtures and dynamic thresholds? Topological reasoning would be one example, tactical media (see Race, Perception, and the Institutionalization of Networks) would be another. More, isn’t intuitional reason a kind of logic of sense? On the other, sunyata helps us to critically engage the desire for adequation that marks Bergson’s final passage quoted above. 

Sunyata can help us to focus, to stay focused on the interminable process of a method, that is like one continuous mistake. A practice of the false. “Reasoning defeats itself, finds itself altogether futile, in its attempt to reach sunyata, because reasoning, instead of trying to see sunyata itself in the process of reasoning, strives to reach sunyata as the goal of reasoning, that is, when all the reasoning comes to an end” (6). Suzuki’s Zen and Bergson’s duration converge here on the insistence that one cannot substitute analysis for process-practice without turning time into space. 

But we should not lose site of the fact that for Suzuki, in Zen there is the experience of “sudden enlightenment.” We should not take this too seriously, or too lightly. “When sunyata is awakened to itself or becomes aware of itself, which is ‘knowing and seeing’ itself, we have another name for it: sunyata is tathata. Tathata is everyday thought, it is “an affirmation through and through” (6). But tathata is sunyata, and sunyata is tathata. “A Buddhist philosopher declares: A mountain is a mountain and water is water before a sunyata-experience takes place; but after it a mountain is not a mountain and water is not water; but again when the experience deepens, a mountain is a mountain and water is water” (7).

Nothing special, like a frog just sitting. We are reminded here of another Suzuki, Shunryu Suzuki who in Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind (New York: Weatherhill, 1970) wrote: “Zen stories, or koans, are very difficult to understand before you know what we are doing moment after moment. But if you know exactly what we are doing in each moment, you will not find koans so difficult. There are so many koans. I have often talked to you about a frog, and each time everybody laughs. But a frog is very interesting. He sits like us, too, you know. But he does not think that he is doing anything so special. When you go to a zendo and sit, you may think you are doing some special thing. While your husband or wife is sleeping, you are practicing zazen! You are doing some special thing, and your spouse is lazy! That may be your understanding of zazen. But look at the frog. A frog also sits like us, but he has no idea of zazen. Watch him. If something annoys him, he will make a face. If something comes along to eat, he will snap it up and eat, and he eats sitting. Actually that is our zazen—not any special thing. Here is a kind of frog koan for you. Baso was a famous Zen master called the Horse-master. He was the disciple of Nangaku, one of the Sixth Patriarch’s disciples. One day while he was studying under Nangaku, Baso was sitting, practicing zazen. He was a man of large physical build; when he talked, his tongue reached to his nose; his voice was loud; and his zazen must have been very good. Nangaku saw him sitting like a great mountain or like a frog. Nangaku asked, “What are you doing?” ‘Tampracticingzazen,” Baso replied. “Why are you practicing zazen?” “I want to attain enlightenment; I want to be a Buddha,” the disciple said. Do you know what the teacher did? He picked up a tile, and he started to polish i t . In Japan, after taking a tile from the kiln, we polish it to give it a beautiful finish. So Nangaku picked up a tile and started to polish it. Baso, his disciple, asked, “What are you doing?” “I want to make this tile into a  jewel,” Nangaku said. “How is it possible to make a tile a jewel?” Baso asked. “How is it possible to become a Buddha by practicing zazen?” Nangaku replied. “Do you want to attain Buddhahood ? There is no Buddhahood besides your ordinary mind. When a cart does not go, which do you whip, the cart or the horse?” the master asked. Nangaku’s meaning here is that whatever you do, that is zazen. True zazen is beyond being in bed or sitting in the zendo. If your husband or wife is in bed, that is zazen. If you think, “I am sitting here, and my spouse is in bed,” then even though you are sitting here in the cross-legged position, that is not true zazen. You should be like a frog always. That is true zazen.”

This is too beautiful not to quote in full, and in any case, as Patricia Clough and I affirmed to each other just before we saw Wall-E with As’sia, my daughter, we only aspire to bring together in a new diagram the force of innumerable quotes!

In any case, Daisetz Suzuki differentiates sunyata-tathata from pragmatism by radically de-linking practice from teleology, and Zen from time. “Time and teleology are interwoven, and Zen transcends time, and therefore, teleology also” (8). But what Bergson has shown throughout his life’s work is that time is teleology only after the done is separated from the doing, the product from the process, that is when time is spaced. But lived duration, and the intuitional reason that gives it its singular dynamism, its pure potentiality, is radically free, and also and for precisely that reason, non-teleological. 

But that is not all Susuki has to say here on time; indeed, he goes on to suggest that momentalistic Zen is not, because each moment has eternity in it. “To Zen, time and eternity are one. This is open to misinterpretation, as most people interpret Zen as annihilating time and putting in its place eternity, which to them means a state of absolute quietness or doing-nothingness. They forget that if time is eternity, eternity is time, according to Zen. Zen has never espoused the cause of doing-nothing-ness; eternity is our everyday experience in this world of sense-and-intellect, for there is no eternity outside this time-conditionedness. Eternity is possible only in the midst of birth and death, in the midst of time process” (8-9). So eternity is the difference immanent to process (of course in Zen Buddhism, eternity is inseparable from divinity). The (non)aim would be a kind of motionless duration, echoing with a future that will only ever remain potential. I would think this potentiality is divinity, if I needed divinity to make this thought, how shall we say, living. But the thought needs nothing, because it is isomorphic with the life it models, enters into mixtures with it, and emerges as multiform expression. Only certain of the expressive forms–narrative, sign, icon, figuration, discourse, metaphor, montage, syntagmatic unit, character–are recognized and legitimated through pedagogical institutions of gridding and exploitative value, even when they are part of movements of counter-actualization (anarcho-Marxism, ecofeminism, womanist anti-imperialism, Maoist postcolonialism, poly-sexualization). Couldn’t we think of a political practice of counter-actualization in various media–from literature to the screen to the cellphone–that begins with a new lexicon: attach and attack the grid in the grid, denaturalize it, and then radically naturalize it. Expressive forms are thus refunctioned, and the political becomes the untimely in the potentialities of co-evolution. By calling into question the stability of the category “political” itself, new gradients will emerge as a froglike practice reassembles media and their intensities. Strictly, nothing special. 

 

I don’t mean to fetishize Suzuki’s Zen, because we know of the use Japanese Zen buddhists made of their practice during World War II. Zizek speaks about this in his talk at Google, and his words are important to think about.