Dear reader, I want you to try a little thought experiment with me.

Given the vast literature encompassing human knowledge, and all the teaching and learning that go on in the world, you probably take it for granted that the languages we employ keep up with the task of articulating, representing, translating, recording, and communicating all that we need to. In other words—now that I have articulated that thought—you probably think that language per se is adequate to the task of consolidating the reality of the world, and not merely personal partial realities, but a bigger, in principle total, understanding of the world. We take the time, make the effort, and the language does indeed ‘keep up’.

Or maybe you have already begun to smell a rat and are willing to imagine the opposite, to imagine that language is inadequate to the task. Well, that is the point of this thought experiment. Take that imaginative leap and consider:

What happens when the reality one is trying to negotiate pushes the language to the limits of intelligibility?

I thought I would ask Gilbert Adair,[1] a poet renowned for his ‘linguistically innovative’ work, to bounce a few ideas back and forth with me …

Gilbert. Hi. …

GA

When the reality one is trying to negotiate pushes the language to the limits of intelligibility …

When the felt pressure of a ‘real’ one is trying to discern does that—so that. 

Never forgetting that (to leech on Olson) what is not poetry is the will to make poetry (altho’ who could call that ‘primary,’ because, you know, society & language)—that last phrase being idiomatic & “to leech on” also, probably, & the lack of a question-mark a (voice-inflected) nother. We teem w/ references, key ones being experienced as (different kinds of) knowledge & many potentially movable up there in a moment of recontextualized “Aha!” that may afford both a concern for a poem or poetic project & a glimpse of the real that will now make its recalcitrance felt to verbal approach while also being contingent on random haecceities of the poet. Specifics I talk. Yes, once your madness has been absorbed by history.

A case in point: What might aesthetic investigation of the notion of pidgin lead to—once you realize that the scholarly acronym for one pidgin (HCE, Hawaiian Creole English) chimes w/ old Here Comes Everybody himself or themselves; & that you presently live on Kauai, northernmost of the Hawaiian islands, & have experience of both Singlish (Singaporean English) &, I suppose, Irnglish (various operations on English as it moved into Irish sensibilities & contexts); & now have a truculently arbitrary means of linking Hawai‘i & Ireland in a 3-part project called h c e.

A pidgin, of course, is much more than an idiom or even a dialect, closer but cigarless to a jargon. The word likely comes from the Chinese pronunciation of ‘business.’ A pidgin is an ad-hoc cobbled together to enable people of disparate languages, cultures, & ranks to function in a variety of work situations: mining, mercenary, trade, shipboard, plantation … a discourse to facilitate proto-imperial coercion from the start, it was almost as soon one of subaltern camaraderie. (When it outlasts a generation—when parents pass the ad-hoc on to their children—a pidgin becomes a creole, a language in its own right.)

I claim no fluency in any of the Hawaiian pidgins (minor variations island to island). As a poet, I’m more interested in what can be glimpsed or grazed, startled into apprehension, via the potentially heretical notion of ‘a pidgin of one.’ The first two sections, h & c, have, among many other things, built a vocabulary of repeating words for use in e (standing, at least in my own mind, for english—or extinction—or emergence—or elder tree, etc) in a variety of fictional work situations, beginning w/ a trial, or mebbe only a trial. When I first came to Kauai, I could understand perhaps 30% of what one of our neighbors said; now I’m at around 70%. & section e as I embark on it is much to do w/ finding means of crafting relative meaning-opacities, given our experience of rushing-in aspects of the world is rather musical (audible, visual, ‘furniture’) than verbal & bearing in mind another of Olson’s remarks, this from his Mayan Letters of 1953: “Joyce … did not improve on … the Irish of the time the Irish were the culture-bosses, what was it, 7th–9th century, or something: he tried to get at the problem by running one language into another … more relevant to commerce, now, than … to the aesthetic problem.” We do run words together, & we like doing voice impressions. & Leopold Bloom, like the hero of North by Northwest (1959), is in advertising.

PP

We hit the poetics from the outset. That chimes with me, with my disenchantment with aesthetics, aesthetics in Modernity certainly. To reprise Olson:

… every element in an open poem (the syllable, the line, as well as the image, the sound, the sense) must be taken up as participants in the kinetic of the poem just as solidly as we are accustomed to take what we call the objects of reality; and that these elements are to be seen as creating the tensions of a poem just as totally as do those other objects create what we know as the world. (Olson, Projective Verse)

With the focus entirely on how the poem is made, the undertow is irresistible, pulling us toward the ontological sense of poetics. What mind and breath can draw together in poetry is a distillation of something occulted already in the mess of the mundane. Say to me: “what is not poetry is the will to make poetry” and I hear the philosopher breaking wind. It can be that bad. The will to make poetry is bound into precedent, principle, pre-existing lines of thought, … it beggars heritage and that is not poetry, but it is the ghost of an ontological poetics: “the objects of reality … create what we know as the world” (ibid). Olson invokes a contrapuntal logic; this is no mere metaphor.

Hence we come to where—take a breath—ontological reserves trigger the production of syllable and line, and do so reflexively to “afford both a concern for a poem or poetic project & a glimpse of the real”—concern for the former in the interests of the latter. But is the motive warranted and is it a genuine prospect? This brings us back to the original question.

If “a glimpse of the real” is “a genuine prospect” the implication must be that in the last instance language is adequate. Yet its recalcitrance impresses itself at every turn; the more the poet pushes and pulls the syllables into breathable lines and the more the vivid specificities that inhabit the poet’s reality, and that represent its most substantial reserve/resource, are brought into play, the more there is that can be said and must be said.

Thus words do not reveal the real, they (ad)dress it, they make a reality of the little that they grasp by fashioning fascinators (as/of/for things). The “random haecceities of the poet” are thus particularly pointed instances of necessary illusion. Self-delusion is not involved; the poet knows full well that they can keep scratching away at the surface of things, that they are expected to do so. Usually the more work the poet puts in the fewer words are needed to make a poem. The clarity of a ‘this’ does not reside in the words used to point to it, but it can seem to when great economy of means is achieved.

The problem is that economy of means may generate monsters. The real may intrude in the guise of an elusive essence, but that is passé for the poet today. Who really cares anymore for another way to say … “I love you” or “goodbye” or “I fear death” or “nature is mysterious” etc, etc? The ‘elusive essence’ is from one perspective a distraction, perfect for play and for time-wasting, while from another it is, through iteration, reductionist fallacy and to be resisted. What matters now are our entanglements, that worlds are at odds with each other, living hells, and the poet’s address in this case defies the distilling trajectory of traditional “clearing” strategies. Babel beckons, the retrieval of an originary linguistic mode that promises a gateway to the real.

So, playfulness and resistance (equally purposeful) define the poet’s dichotomy and confuse the answer to our question: in the last instance language is (in)adequate … which is it to be? There must be more to say.

Post #2 … forthcoming


[1]     Gilbert Adair—born in Northern Ireland, poet and critic, coined the term “linguistically innovative” poetry. In London in 1980 he co-founded, and for the next twelve years curated, Sub-Voicive, a series of experimental poetry readings. His most recent completed project, Syzem, a re-visioning of William Blake’s Milton, was published in two volumes 2014 & 2019 by Veer Books. He lives and works on Kauai, Hawaii, and his current project is HCE, which mixes a mix drawing on Spenser, Joyce, Badiou, Zizek, exile ambivalence, a more nuanced exploration of Christian morality than simply as rationale for empire, and the sonic architecture of Hawai’i Creole English.

by Pseudo-Heraclitus

Please, please. Do you know what they say about philosophers who are applauded when they speak? It never ends well for them [laughter]. I have a lot to say tonight, so forgive me if we get into the dirty work without the requisite foreplay.

The topic today is titled “Paraphilia and the Unbecoming of Becomings-Cephalopodic”, and I will do my best to keep matters strictly on this topic. There is a lot of material to deal with which does not fit cleanly into the issue at hand, but I will resist the temptation to wander. Why paraphilia? I am asked this question more than almost any other. It is often said, sexual tendencies are subjective… Subjective! If sexual tendencies are subjective, then this is evidence that the paraphilic is not a matter of sexual tendency at all, but something murkier. Sexual tendency, basic autonomic proclivity, is a matter of simulation. Paraphilic proliferation sees only half-simulated tendencies, strung about throughout the cosmic assemblage by cybernetic particles reduced to vibration or k-waves. Allegory is only a partial fix here, but it suffices to say that through the Aleph of Borges, a point which sees all, the paraphilic presents itself foremost, as the paraphilic is the matter under the surface, the material conditions of unbecoming which goes customarily unseen.

Paraphilia is inherent to k-wave topology, but it always exceeds and goes first, as k-waves have no aspect of proliferation but rather appearance, and appearance is never implicated by paraphilia but situated within their intensive limit like the center of the labyrinth. The visible universe has grease on its fingers. But slippages from the hands of light waves, or L-waves, cannot account for the excess cardinality in their cybernetic counterpart, as we all know, the primary elements of ordinality both overcode and direct the uncovering, and in the Aleph we recognize it as it is, paraphilia, perched at the foot of the gates in some fashion of a wooden animal, tentacled and black. But the cosmic assemblage is not a whole, it is a partial object contiguous to all other lines of extra-natural becomings, becomings-beyond, as posited in my most petulant child, The Apple and the Hand. Paraphilia does not arise in The Apple and the Hand, however, and I would personally recommend no one to read it unless you are interested in stillborn theory.

It is sometimes said that every author must write a book they wish to scrub from the earth, for me, this is it. It is incomplete, a sexless desert. My early work didn’t simply avoid paraphilia, it resisted it. I must forgive myself here somewhat – paraphilia resists the visible universe [laughter]. Its power lay in the unwritten, the pre-agreed. No one is greater than paraphilia if it catches up to them, and at the end of the cosmic assemblage and beyond, what might have earlier been considered dialectics withers and decays. Dialectics is long dead, gone, vanished into the ethereal inky blackness of the beyond, becomings reaching like the squid from its own ink. Tentacles are lines of paraphilic potential, and they are always reaching to connect multiplicities, a subterranean intra-relation block formed by means of what Deleuze called an anomaly, or point of individuated linkage between multiplicities. The squid is anomalous by its nature, as it remains an individuated multiplicity, not through the generic pack, but rather the repetition of tentacles and lines of becoming-violator inherent to the cephalopodic. The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife is the dream of becoming-violated, but it is also a fantasmic reaching for the becoming-possessed of a becoming-violator. The dream is, of course, a becoming-squid, as the anomalous nature of the squid so readily allows, but this violation always goes beyond itself to pair with the paraphilic.

The proto-Lovecraftian work of Martin van Maële stems more from paraphilia than it ever did horror, and we can note that in this particular artwork that the genitalogical abominations are littered with phallic tentacles, a coding which obscures a key fetishistic horror in the nature of the tentacle and a pre-phallic object. The tentacle is horror not because it is phallic but the fact it maintains the function of positive linkage and overcoding of the phallic while smuggling in all kinds of feminine insurgency: the tentacle is instrumental, prehensile, but not rigid. Its instrumentality is not the function of penetration but that of squeezing, contorting, and enveloping. The tentacle is not singular but partial, an incomplete network of complex mirroring and repetition, which of course I expand in my work on Deleuze, Mirror and Mirrors, which unlike the aforementioned and best forgotten monster mentioned earlier, is quite expansive on the concept of paraphilia and most certainly worth reading. When it comes to tentacles and paraphilia, it is only natural to look to Japan.

The Japanese call this particular form of paraphilic tendency shokushu gōkan, translating literally to tentacle violation or rape, which, contrary to popular mythology, did not arise under the animated forms of pornography or hentai which they can be so readily associated with, but an artistic fascination born out of the early 1800s. Of course, my now infamous argument is that this tendency is a hyperstitious alignment with the Other that was modern Capital creeping upon the shores of Japan with black ships and gunpowder. Matthew Perry was a terrible squid, drenched in black ink, an Old One set afloat from the freshly occulted shores of Norfolk. But I mention this only in passing, as the claim is too intricate to embarrass myself attempting to replicate it here for you tonight. Our interests lie in the paraphilic, and that is where we will stay.

I suppose what I mean to say by all this is that paraphilic tendencies are at their root a form of primitive sorcery, a union with the anomalous demon with pacts and rituals disseminated by libidinal overcoding, or, the libidinal k-wave which overcomes the barrier of “L”, that being light. Bataille spoke of an anus which is both blinding and the night itself, and it is this blinding darkness that characterizes paraphilia as a form of pre-subjective void, the sexual unbeing which supports itself only in its own negation, it’s own rejection. The edges of sexuality don’t run up against nothing, they run up against an ocean of unbeing, of unbecoming, of unions with demons yet uninscribed and ugly, pinching their noses at their own stench. Tentacles. Well, to put it simply enough, the phallus can’t bridge the gap, it doesn’t have the dexterity. An unbecoming is a becoming all its own, it is a becoming-violated, a becoming-possessed, mediated by an anomaly which itself is a becoming-violator. In this pact, the anomalous has no need for, and in fact should resist, all becomings-human, because the goal is not the intra-relation of the multiplicities of the individuated human and the multiplicity of the mirroring of tentacles, rather the squid is the subterranean bridge which intrarrelates the multiplicity of the individuated human to the multiplicity of unbecoming that stands as the immanent expression of paraphilia itself. The becoming-squid of man cannot be reciprocated by the squid because the cephalopodic escapes anthropomorphization, hence the tendencies of shokushu gōkan, the cosmic monsters lurking in the mythos of Lovecraft, the feverish warnings of monsters on maps of the sea. The cephalopodic is an individuated reflection of the unindividuated other, it isn’t a symbol but a prism, a looking glass which glimpses only just over the edge. It is through the squid that the simulations of sexuality are diminished, reduced to vibration, ‘k’, and slid over the edge. This movement is a function of manipulations of the tentacle permitted by use of acetabula or suckers, appendages which have the property to affix and detach based on flexations, or wet-k-waves, which connect and disconnect in conjunction with squeezing, enveloping, and pre-phallic positive linkage. Suckers are characteristic of all anomalous individuals, regardless of their physical composition, but in this regard, the cephalopod is obviously the example par excellence.

If these physiognomic speculations on animal-becoming are of interest to you, there is much more in my essay A Critical Treatise on the Sucker and the Club. But let us not escape this term of unbecoming before it has been properly wrung. Unbecoming plays a funny game in the English language here, and I have seized upon this without mercy. Unbecoming should not be mistaken as if it is a type of abecoming, that is, a lack of becoming, nor debecoming, that is, the reversal of a previous becoming; these do not hold up to the full weight of the term.

Consider the colloquial usage of the word: unbecoming begins not as a metaphysical statement but as an ethical one; one should avoid behavior which would deem them as unbecoming. The moral judgment is clear, unbecoming is itself a becoming-deviant, and as such the positive act of becoming-deviant, and, in a paradoxical sense, what we might crudely dub becoming-unbecoming, we discover this supposed moral judgment was drawing a metaphysical line in the background, behind the scenes as it were. The moral judgments illuminate lines of becoming, separating them from the lines of unbecoming, but only after they have been drawn. This paradoxical relation that unbecoming finds between its moral definition and its metaphysical one is only exacerbated by the fact that neither emerge before the other, but rather support themselves on the cuts drawn by real lines of flight, which is why unbecomings are never subjective, they exist in material conditions already drawn, or better said, unbecoming, however omnipresent, can never manifest on the transcendent plane. Lovecraft, in his branded xenophobic manner, drew this unbecoming in the occult practices of the jungle, indigenous rites which are seen as the alien counterpart to the human which bridges the Old One and the multiplicity of the preindividuated tribe. This is obviously paranoia and can be disregarded in its content, but its form is the telling aspect. Unbecoming was a matter of material rituals only drawn as unbecoming through the alienation mediated by the anomalous (Old One) and determined through reflection. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders discusses paraphilia based on two generalized groups, those being anomalous activity preferences and anomalous target preferences; those being whether the pact with the anomalous is predicated upon paraphilic action or paraphilic direction. Paraphilic direction of course is unbecoming which points to a particular ‘who’ or genre of ‘who’’s, rather than the actions being pointed in themselves. The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife transcends the distinction here: clearly there is an element of anomalous target preference, as it centers around the desire for the squid, but clearly the act in question is not simply normophilic, it contains an anomalous activity preference by nature of the tentacle and its complex instrumentality, which as we already looked at, transcends the phallus, yadda yadda. Anyways… The reason I brought up the DSM was – yeah the next one [there is a brief issue with the slides here] – if there isn’t a better sign to show paraphilia draws the lines of becoming and unbecoming! Right here, the underlined. It says that in the very old or ill paraphilia may mean: “any sexual interest greater than or equal to normophilic sexual interests”! Imagine that! Subjective, subjective… Moral real… What? [Someone shouts a question from the crowd; inaudible] This is it, my friend! These are the moral repercussions! They are drawn through normophilia, and if this is true, as the literature reads, and even living up to the norm may put you in the crosshairs, you must accept that the normophilic, the moral becomings, that which resists deviation, they are the real fairy tale!

Where is it? Where is it besides that petty remainder beside the figures, the inanimate desert of the undrawn? There is only objectivity in paraphilia, nowhere else. Nowhere else. The visible universe is stupid, it is a lie. Paraphilia is the only thing substantial enough to carve a mark in the real. [Another inaudible comment] Yes, yes I do. The place for (audio here starts to become obscured by growing unrest in the crowd) there is a suggestion, if you would [inaudible]. What? No, it’s okay. What? Okay, no, yes but I have an answer for you. [inaudible] but no one can hear you up here. I’m wired, the mic is wired so – no one – yeah, can we get a mic? If you get down they will get – I will – look [inaudible] get off the stage. I will let you speak, I will [inaudible] and I will let you speak. You can –

[There is the sound of a live microphone cord being pulled, and the speaking stops. Inaudible yelling. Something glass breaks. The recording ends here.]

How does process philosophy fit with the accretive theory? Is the obvious necessity of ‘meaning as use’ equivalent in force to the notion that existence is necessarily process? Are these two in some sense the same? The notion of ‘meaning as use’ means that we can understand the meaning of a word by looking at the social situation in which it is used. That is, we should not look for an object that the word points towards, rather to the general rules in which it is possible for the word to be cogent. In this way objects which do not conform to ideal images of objects can easily be capable of having the names of such objects applied to them. The ashtray that is the empty beer can in the context of ‘pass the ashtray’ not be ‘really’ an empty beer can, it just is the ashtray. This does not mean there is always such flexibility, some words may have fairly strict rules the transgression of which means the application is simply ‘wrong’ -though wrong of course is also a use term. As noted elsewhere, the issue of the perpetuation of metaphysics is not something Wittgenstein can actually stop since it is often not possible to tell when a word has been deterritorialized to the point where it definitively lacks meaning. The phantom of meaning is indistinguishable from an originary meaning.

Nevertheless no matter how convoluted the pathways become, meaning continually emits from its usage. It is a secondary effect of language that produces the accretion, or ideality. In the strong sense of accretion as chaos magickal entity, the designated object as actually real. Magickal practices are often predicated on the ability of a word or symbol to uniquely pick out an individual or event. Designation in the strongest metaphysical sense is necessary for this to be the case. Wittgenstein would be totally correct if it were not for the appearance of magick. The use term though, generates the accretion. The current ideal version of a given kind of object sticks to the word. Thus we have two essences, the false essence of the accretion as word/object and the real essence of the primordial use relation. Not all words generate this duality but many -especially visually possible- words do.

What of the notion of process? Does this have the same status as usage? It seems there is a relation insofar as both offer a kind of ground of necessity. To deny process is to deny time. However the two issues cannot be conflated as identical, they are not. Meaning as process would still lapse into a naivety of things existing without conceptuality. Process means that being exists in flux. Usage as meaning recognizes this by allowing open the horizon for the extension of the remit of a given concept.

In this sense accretion is the enemy of process. This is basically true and yet it points to importance of a phenomenology of magick that cannot be denied. Designation and magick go together; this is the phantasy of the words reach out to touch the object -which in magick is literally true. Accretion means that there is a time resistant dimension (the pneuminous), where the accretions of pneuma (conceptuality) dwell. The accretive flickering image is not of a thing in time, it is of an ideal abstraction. Process largely happens too slow for us to perceive it directly. We necessarily see fixed accretions and can only understand flow as a necessity. This kind of claim is disputable. Goethe for instance claimed to have been able to retrain his mind to perceive process directly in certain ways (e.g. plants) and even claimed this possibility was available to all. Even so his method was predicated on being able to perceive the phenomena from start to finish in order that one might replay the segments to the mind to reveal the a temporal ideal unity (or entelechy as he called it). This though does nothing to undermine accretive theory, indeed it is largely grist to its mill. Goethe successful accreted the extracted plant image into the atemporal perception he achieved. His phenomena certainly would be attached to the vectors (the object we attach the concept plant to -see vector theory elsewhere on the site) but they are still just another form of pneuminous accretion. The Goethean entelechy recreates time and escapes it simultaneously. Goethe extracts time only make a small passage of time (the plant entelechy) abstract. His accretion is a temporal enemy in disguise.

The possibility of magick though means the picture is much more complicated. For if the use relation generate  accretions which exist of necessity (and let us say they do exist) then there exist feedback loops from the accretive structures to the vector field (and beyond). That is, the accretions will be feeding back into reality, not just under ritual conditions but under any conditions. That is, as the accretions are not outside of all that is but simply a part of it, process cannot be considered a pure truth that we should strive towards as process itself will be necessarly shot through a temporal accretive structures that persistently attempt staunch the flow.