Unreal Nature

February 19, 2012

Wind-Borne Weeds

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 7:30 am

… ( … it is not about logic)

Continuing through The Neutral by Roland Barthes (1978). This book is a taken from Barthes’s written notes to the course that he gave at the Collège de France over thirteen weeks from February to June of 1978. The subject of the session quoted from below is the subheading ‘Beside-the-Point Answers’ under the day’s topic or ‘figure,’ which is ‘Answer'”

… 2. Possible to sketch a kind of vague structural analysis of the problem → more an awareness of the figure than its analysis. As in the case with all linguistic manifestation — all discourse — it’s fundamentally a problem of linearity, of linkages, of sequencing. For our problem (dialogues, conversations, replies, answers): the sequences are by status divided between two or more partners → structural problem: two on a single line. This line of speech (the famous spoken chain) is a double thread: phonetic material (the substance) and contents. The line of the signified is formed (fashioned, molded) by a certain logical model of the successivity of contents: implicitly following a norm issued by the crude, approximative logic of Opinion, of the doxa (cf. Aristotle and the enthymematic logic): “to speak of the same thing even if there is no agreement about it”: this coherence of point of view (coherence of the line at the level of both partners) = relevance → on which basis there will be various tropes of linearity.

… 3. Zen rules of antirelevance. Shattering of the logic of the social self, shattering of relevance: pursued, systematized, practices by the Zen, with the aim of inducing the kind of empty flash within consciousness that is the satori (“illumination”: improper word: one sees nothing if not perhaps that there is nothing to see). This technique: that of the koan: question or theme given to the disciple to “solve” (the wrong word: it is not about logic) as a test. Kouang-an = “complications,” vines and wisteria, entangled branches (the image echoes our lines of relevance).

… 4. The “gesture” of the épochè. Let’s return to the Western habitus of the beside-the-point answer: less violent, less radical acts than the Zen koan; closer to mere flight: “to slip away when confronted with the logical arrogance of the adversary partner” → the point is to suspend the logical routine into which the partner (socius, he who embodies society, social constraints) tries to drag you: true épochè of the logical line of the spoken chain; we have seen examples of it, from Gide to Eurylochus; in these examples, what I now want to emphasize is a gesture (of flight and of flippancy): which means that the no which refuses the “discussion” needs to be accompanied by a connotation, by a theater (it’s a “gesture”) that will transform it into something active (putting an end to the image of the coward-passive) and unexpected (leaving the contender speechless, and a bit ridiculous).


There’s nothing more debauched than thinking
This sort of wantonness runs wild like a wind-borne weed on a plot laid out for daisies.
Wislawa Szymborska, who died on the 1st of this month


[The poem fragment is my choice; it is not in Barthes’s text]

My most recent previous post from Barthes’s book is here.

-Julie

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