File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2001/lyotard.0106, message 77

Subject: Re: Tantalizing times - arguing for atheism....
Date: Sun, 17 Jun 2001 06:38:35 +0800

G'day Hugh,

> > Is there a unitary definition that incorporates subjective
> >interpretations
> >of that which is generating the experience?
> Isn't all experience subjective?  Don't different people having different
> consciousness, different memories, experience so-called "same" events
> differently?

Not when people 'imagine'...

> > >So let us imagine ourselves "outside" the so-called real >>world,
> >>Universe(s), observing all that "is" - Including all that is >>to
> :scientists,
> >>deists, atheists - the "facts" we obey to survive
> > But we cannot escape everyday life, there is no panoptic >point of view.
> "Imagine" there is.
> >We can only reference ourselves relative to >the :world :around :us. Like
> >in  astrophysics and how >they :place the Earth, for there is >no centre
> >the
> > universe (or if there is no one has told me:).
> "Imagine" a center.

 ...then there is a collective subjectivity, and we have people telling each
other that they believe and feel like they are Christians, or Communists, or
KKK members, or something like that.
Don't you think as soon as we imagine a centre for arguments sake, we have
done exactly that, given those we argue against (whatever the ideological
positioning) some ground to stand on.

> > Is that which you call sublime sort of like an acutely affective
> >experience  (i.e. that which does not require the binary logic >of the
> social
> >for some level of understanding)?
> Assuning binary logic of the social means two people agree, events,
> or not, seem to be understood without being confirmed by another person.
> Sometimes, not being sure, we
> ask another person if they saw the same object, heard the same sound.

No I meant in a Zygmount Bauman-esque binary, where there is always an
inside-outside logic to language, or in terms of Baudrillard, there is
always social residue. Boundaries are being placed around subjective
experience so they can be communicated and shared. Human success in this
domain can be found in, for example, some love poems, and failure in racist

> > >From Nietzsche's point of view, there is no exit from the >labyrinth of
> >interpretation; everything is 'interpreted through and through'.
> > There is only essential relativism, that is what is shared across >all
> >humanity.
> To "believe" there is "only" essential relativism, or "only any other ism
> seems to be a failure of imagination.
But what are we imagining exactly? Following what I call the binary logic of
the social there is always something discarded, some residue produced... but
that is not to say that experiences between persons aren't so similiar that
some are practically the same, or the persons can come to an agreement
regarding the similarity. That is, for the practical use of language, so
there can be a social at all.

In po-mo I meant there was seemingly essential relativism (not that there
definitely was, sorry:), compared to modernity's relative essentialism. And
by essential relativism I mean in western societies (I am not in the U.S.)
there seems to be a culture of victims appearing. Or not neccessarily
victims, but people taking the relative stance of something like "I refuse
to be a victim!" (Sort of like in the film American Beauty, but that is
stretching it, I just needed an example to illustrate what I am talking
about.) As a victim you are oppressed or dominated, and thoroughly
subjectified. You become the 'residue' by physical or ideological force.
However, it is only the threat of being a victim, not actually being
(although, of course, there are real victims) a victim. Thus they create for
themselves a position that seems to be that of 'residue', of the Other, an
'authentic' subject position, so as to 'authenticate' actions and
ideological viewpoints. Or, perhaps, to authenticate an essentially relative
subject position.

I realise (see no 'z', not in U.S.:) that the above seems orientated towards
a politically right tajectory, me saying that there are culprits of
self-victimhood, eh, it only seems that way. If anything, I am a flightless
bird with no wings...

> >Perhaps, then that is why  the focus on the 'sublime'? For it is
> > (normatively) a trans-cultural experience... it doesn't need to > be
> >referenced, for it can't be communicated, only >experienced. >It can't be
> >communicated because the >boundaries of language can only >communicate
> about
> > the experience, rather than the experience itself.
> It seems that experience is a function of an individual's life-history,
> accumulation of memories, vs.environmental stimuli i.e. perception of
> events.

I meant that because of the apparently transcendental nature of the sublime,
something is shared (on a certain level) with others. Trancendental of the
insufficiencies of language that is, and hence, reason (of the binary logic
of the social) itself.

> It is said that a newborn human sees flashes of light and dark, and
> to recognize its mother's face, by repetition and memory.
> Memories are notoriously inaccurate, even short-term, as witnessing and
> describing an accident or a crime.  Language is
> often inadequate, except for simplest objects and events where much-used
> words serve well.
> Years or decades afterwards, recollection of an event, recollection of a
> feeling, is likely to be in some degree inaccurate.

But which memories are you more certain of? The ones that happened, say, 4
hours ago, or the ones you have had for 10 years? The certainty here is not
of the events in the 'real' world, but of the events as they are recorded in
your head. The memories of 10 years have had more time to, umm, stew (?). So
that the actual events themselves the are part of the memory are fuzzy, but
the experience of what is remembered is not. E.g. when you were a little kid
did you burn yourself on a stove (or some such thing)? Do you remember what
colour the stove was (or what the time was, or the day, or the brand of the
stove, or what type of pants you were wearing), or that is was bloody

> If the sublime is "beauty and terror" as it is sometimes claimed to be, it
> must be very rare.
Or maybe we just don't like to let ourselves feel such things (because then
we lose control, and hence are vulnerable (on some base instinctual level))
and we shy away from experiences that we know are going to result in
something sublime?

> If it is an experience of beauty for which one "cannot find the words" to
> describe it to others, one does not have the "language" to  verbalize it
> idea, thought or concept, even for ones'
> self.  Visual and aural arts are languages without words.

But still languages, still approximations of something not definable?
Which is why art appreciation could be regarded as normatively subjective.
Subjective, but a shared (collective) subjective (as mentioned above), for
'something' prior must be shared between audience and artist for 'something'
to be communicated. In terms of Frege, the artist and audience need similar
'senses' of the same 'reference.'

Glen Fuller.


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