Saturday, 15 March 2008

Don't give me what I want, because that's not it...

IT is fantastic on the contemporary abuse of language, and the happy role that the art-world plays in it. It is a sad world indeed when you can pick up Sokal’s latest book, with its attacks on the utilisation of ‘postmodern’ tropes by scumbags in order to defend the indefensible, and find an urge to agree with him.

I’ve been re-reading Anti-Oedipus recently, and not only is there a real patina growing upon D&G’s work now, but there’s a certain melancholy feeling, knowing how totally and absolutely their line of flight has been reterritorialised. In my opinion the age of deleuzoguattarian politics, or at least the age of the possibility of them, died with the 9/11 (November ninth?) attacks. What looked almost, for a second, with Seattle and Genoa etc… as if there was a growing resistance now seems a world away. Their work is still outstanding, but IT is right to point out that there is a strong smell of naivety that lingers around D&G now.

Regarding aphasia, I’m often brought back to Lacan’s retort to the agitators:

But outside what? Because when you leave here you become aphasic? When you leave here you continue to speak, consequently you continue to be inside.

Can we understand aphasia to have a power ascribed to it here? Aphasia as failure of communication? Where Lacan posits aphasia as an impossible ideal limit, the impossible outside of communication, the Virno quote suggests a residue of communication, something that always remains unclear, a remainder even when communication is ‘successful’. This is not a new idea, and there are many words for it, but does it follow that this must be defended, that this is the grain of authenticity within a degraded and depthless language? Is it the case that our society demands a logic based upon success? Is there anything critical in failure?

Perhaps aphasia can be related to a term that is of significance for my work: ruination. If aphasia, understood in this context, is the radical inability to speak, the productive failure of language, I would like to stress a particular concept of a ruin, the archival object whose signifying link has been short circuited, referring now only to its own materiality. The perfect example of this is the gravestone from which the names have been effaced, leading to a specific leap from the particular to the universal. In a way, part of the power of a ruin-object is its obscene presence; when its link to immaterial information has been severed it becomes radically useless. Perhaps the ruin is the aphasic condition of an archive, a sort of Bartleby object, but I remain unconvinced of (or unable to work out the details of) the true radical qualities of these terms.

What are the possible responses to this condition, when you can buy revolutionary literature in Borders, does that necessarily negate its power? It is absolutely correct that the language of the ‘creative industries’ (and has there ever been a more sure way of knowing that someone has not a creative spark in their entire brain than hearing them use the phrase ‘creative industries’ without killing themselves?) performs a self perpetuating fog of obfuscation that is almost identical to that of contemporary politics, but does this mean that all critical communication is worthless? There may not be an outside, but does that mean that all attempts at true creativity are failures? What if failure is what is attempted?

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