Unreal Nature

February 26, 2012

Land Marks

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 8:07 am

… as a place to rest, the open field seems the most anxiety producing. …

… a livable space … = a space with landmarks …

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:

… Hesitation (indecision) can be a discourse (the discourse of the “I hesitate”) and as such a “screen” or rather a “noise,” through which something is being said by the subject, unknowingly or knowingly but unacknowledgedly, little matter = a music, a symphony: it allows for all the themes of the possible to resonate in a vast and long exposition, but in fact there is already a chosen theme (a decision toward which the subject secretly leans), which after a certain period of entanglement, goes tilt, rings like the truth of desire: the subject deceptively undecided (is there any other kind?) bears a great responsibility toward himself: he must ceaselessly lend his ears, listen, guess the decisive theme → there is a difficult management of hesitation that is not (only) a pathos (object of pathology) but (also) an economy, a “praxeology.”

This next is working under the Heading > Subheading of Retreat > Organization:

3. Sitio

All this: organization of the interior space. But another problem or at least another theme: the choice of the place where it feels good to stay, to lock oneself up, where one “feels good.”

1. Decision concerning place: left completely to chance. Probably, many literary examples of travelers stopping in a place, feeling good there and staying + quantity of myths concerning abode, retreat, foundation (of town) designated, assigned by God. …

2. Chance (or God) = marker. What if there were no marker? If the subject had to accommodate himself to a space, to a landscape, to an absolutely undifferentiated horizon, with no possibility of marking? It is, quite simply, anxiety, at least as demonstrated by experiments on  mice: emotional reactions of the white mouse mus musculus: (micturition, body care) = anxious reactions in a circular arena, enclosure stripped of topographical landmarks = open-field = maximum anxiety → diminution of anxiety → square enclosure → labyrinth with four corridors (labyrinths = “devices stripped of all  hidden mechanism, constructed in such a way that to master them it is enough to discover and to choose the shortest path toward a goal whose position doesn’t vary” — (Introduction to the study of animal behavior, Nathan, 1977) → enclosure in T shape → labyrinth in Y shape. Notice this: at least for the animal, anxiety doesn’t arise from having to choose between two paths (labyrinth in Y shape, Buridan’s ass, double bind), but from having all the paths and thus no “path” open before one: virgin space of the open field → all that remains to be seen: but, in any case, as a place to rest, the open field seems the most anxiety producing. …

3. Sitio → therefore: search for the topical place (it’s the right adjective) = absolutely specific, where I feel good: which can depend on infinitesimal variations:

Animals: cats looking for a place to sleep: meticulously, it is a question of a few centimeters = ethological concept of the preferandum: in a biotope, stereotype of spatial localization: an animal preferring one place (for example, temperature) and avoiding others → men: homey idea of “corner” = “the point of comfort” …

… has to do with the sense, always described as mysterious, of orientation → one would need to make an inventory of magical, parapsychological, ethological myths inspired by it. Countless anecdotes: orientation: like a search for the true place = for the “good” place → = an extremely general form, a movement with various contents: can go from geography to sociology (politics). Example: Bali (Bateson), example of very rigid society = markedly dependent on spatial orientation. To do no matter what, first situate the cardinal points; if a Balinese is taken by motor car over twisting roads, loses his sense of direction = is severely disoriented, becomes unable to act: a dancer may become unable to dance. Now (this is what is interesting), same necessity for vertical orientation, social hierarchy, and he might even be paralyzed if it is disturbed: the Balinese needs to locate his caste ranking in relation to the other: if he loses this orientation (if he doesn’t know where the other is located on the vertical axis), cannot speak, cannot address the other (cf. the linguistic strategy of places, of orientation).

4. Spacing. As we saw: a livable space (and such is the eidos, the purpose of retreat) = a space with landmarks (≠ the little white mouse’s arena) → the Neutral would be a subtle art of keeping the good distance between landmarks (including human landmarks of emotional space. … ).

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



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