Friday, January 2, 2009

On an Anhedonic Tear Here

There is no way to read Infinite Jest without getting the sense that David Foster Wallace prefigures his own de-mapping. I guess you have to honor the literate press for not making hay of this.  It surely does deepen the sadness, however.  And for sure ironizes the truly great book he wrote afterward (A Short History of Infinity), which traces the history of abstraction.  So, not being sure which standards I am beholden to here in the Blogosphere, I feel at least confident that I can, without fear of accusation of digital theft, cite an excruciating passage from the novel:

". . . anhedonic state as a kind of radical abstracting of everything, a hollowing out of stuff that used to have affective content.  Terms the undepressed toss around and take for granted as full and fleshy - happiness, joie de vivre, preference, love - are stripped to their skeletons and reduced to abstract ideas.  They have, as it were, denotation but not connotation . . ." (page 693 of the most recent paperback edition)

There's more.  

But this has been enough to help me to understand just why, in my accelerating anhedonic accomplishment toward perfected denotative abstraction of the very self, my very very tentative efforts at reaching out and friending seem only to leave me with the burden for all the be- part of the friend.  As in, I've got to do all the self-inviting, I guess because I seem so very self contained and likely do broadcast my preference for alonehood, and even more likely am just no fun to be around (not true!).  But I don't want, and am very unsure that I even want to want.

So digital, by definition is abstract.  If it has any existence at all independent of some actual thing, it's what gets left behind when the machinery of its creation is turned off, and that for which the machinery might perhaps be turned on again.  It can never get any more thingy than that (wow, read the ambiguity in that sentence!), and no matter how well embodied, it will never - Zeno again - achieve actual independent thinghood.  It just can't.  Those little diminutive digit thingies are just too damn abstractedly determined.  And reality isn't.

And though it will seem as though to borrow Wallace's own term (de-mapping) is to make light of the act; since there is no machine other than the reader for words to re-embody the mind behind, as it were, the act of the writing, so I mean the usage as an expression of actual love and not dismissal as trivial of what in fact saddens not just me, but readers far greater, and more worthy. How truly and finally sad.

Is digital theft only ever the software's misattribution; and all digital theft just simply identity theft? I guess this is what the Open Source community is so strenuously trying to work out. The battle lines remain blurred, however.

Perhaps identity preserved should claim income from performance and authority, and not from sale of reproduced plans. Though this ancient Chinese order had its issues too. For sure, reproduction of the plot or plan can be inhibited by never quite controlled, so terms, like people, must eventually expire and enter the public domain.

But there is a crisis looming if not already upon us, as more and more actual things are valued only as their plans for disembodied reproduction.  Straight from factory, for manual assembly by the purchaser Christmas eve, with Chinese reproductions even of actual one-of-a-kind crafts overwhelming the draw of personality, even as tacky craft shows proliferate as ways for the semi-skilled to stay marginally e-Bay employed.  Authority has way too much claim these days. Way way way and so damn paradoxically, when the popular claim is so opposite.

Well, duh.  Madoff Made Off with Billions, read the headlines.  (Central casting is never far away!)  The cages were never properly maintained, and the lions made off with the lambs (I hear that many of Madoff's victims were hapless liberals).  I guess it's just the old authority without responsibility issue over and over and over again.

I stake my Intellectual Property claim on the notion that there never truly is an original thought. The ground, after all is out there in the language community, and there's only ever discovery of the particular among the very abstracted possibilities.  And rights attendant on discovery should be mitigated, just as should recompense for windmills which so pit the landowners against the untitled owners of the view. Why not spread the wealth?

So the body/mind false distinction gets turned on its head, so to speak, as the thing thought has, weirdly, more reality and I guess more value still than the thing which manifests the thought. Demapping as redundancy. This trading of words in abstracted space, what used to take months and years for dissemination now assembling instantaneous interfaces among faceless handles in the cloud.  All stupid sounding, but whose words, sometimes at least, can far far outpace what the actual mouthing would excite.

Jesus, I can't even read my own writing.  No wonder that those finely crafted emails of which I have such pride in ownership get filed away behind the eyewash so quickly to be gotten through, and then never gotten back to as even friends must finally admit to me.  

Encryption being a veil over the mask of a face which actually you never really get to see. I think that all art must be performance art, and that all performances are stale the moment they become reproduced.  Even breaking encryption being just a matter of time, which can be compressed by massively parallel processes, until who knows which Oz will be revealed when the curtain draws back.  Intellectual production takes time to disseminate or be visited, and there is simply a necessity to inject some viscosity to the lubricative or is it lubricious injections of identity controls, without which we could never keep track.

Shit man, but a man's reach must excede his grasp, or what's a meta for? (overheard among English lit dweebs).

I try, and do but deepen my aloneness. Meta-existence really sucks.

1 comment:

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