Erik (eriktrips) wrote,

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what is it good for

after watching Platoon I dreamed that I was in a bunker being bombarded with exploding cannonballs being launched medieval-fashion from catapults by german troops across the narrow channel of water which separated us. am having some difficulty placing the motivation for making them german other than simple data leakage from recent d-day commemorations. I suppose that channel could have been the english channel.

but you do not want to hear about my dreams. neither do I for that matter except insofar as I like to mark the imagery in my memory so that I can call it up at will when I feel like taking a dip in my strangely linear but non-linear nighttime life.

I guess the most troublesome character in Platoon is Sgt Barnes right? I mean I suppose he is supposed to be the least sympathetic and you are supposed to want his men to kill him after he shoots Elias but in my compulsive need to dissect everything I'm supposed to hate in order to make sure of whether I hate it or not I sat thinking about Sgt Barnes even as "Homer vs Lisa and the 8th Commandment" unfolded as the nightcap feature.

what got me was the line from Elias where he says that Barnes' problem is that he believes in what he's doing which was ambiguous enough because you aren't sure just what it is that Barnes is doing. I mean he could simply be fighting the war with patriotic fervor or he could have lapsed over entirely into the enactment of a totalitarian death drive but perhaps the interesting thing is the extent to which these two might overlap. which suggests something frightening about belief itself insofar as it is able to go to such lengths that it is willing to kill anyone and be killed by anyone in order to sustain itself--which sustenance is of course ultimately defeated in death but that seems to be the paradoxical motivating force of the whole campaign: death as both the justifying and constitutive gesture of imperial self-assuredness.

which gets me to thinking about fundamentalisms and patriotisms and administrations whose beliefs allow them to consider torture as a workable tool in undertaking the will of god and I don't mean to tar all christians with the same brush but this one strain of christianity that I was brought up with and against which I will probably be arguing till I die is for me a logical extension of the desire to end history that motivates Western thought: that is not only the willingness to kill whatever needs to be killed in order for teleological goals to be met but the very compulsory fact that the completed circle of a fulfilled law requires large numbers of the damned to make it worth anything.

that is in order to enclose yourself in the group of the elect it is necessary to make an outside to that enclosure and it is necessary to condemn what falls to that outside. which is more or less what has been going on in Western metaphysics for 2500 years. this is not news.

where it gets complicated is when we start to think of what that outside consists of and if it is not simply beings who have been cast out but the entirety of that which the gesture of casting out is not. that is, the outside of casting out would be a gesture that does not cast out and perhaps even not be, strictly speaking, a gesture at all insofar as it would be absolutely alien to the work of drawing the line.

on the other hand, the emergence of such a non-gesture would only become evident with the drawing of the line to begin with: that is, only a primary differentiation, or articulation, would be capable of bearing articulation's own undoing, by offering it as an other to articulation itself, by the very means which it calls into question: the marking of inside and out, of same and other.

this is the paradox and it is very simple but very complex. you draw a line and it excludes precisely that which cannot be separated from it: any thought of not drawing a line. because the line itself defines what is drawing and what is not. or, perhaps, the primordial gesture that is not yet drawing marks out this necessary initial distinction which then falls immediately apart, were one to retain a thought of this gesture which is not yet a gesture. this then would be the oscillation between signification and nonsense, between constitution and chaos. it would be the shiver of the question, of the never decided, of the zone of indistinction between self and other and between elect and damned, which would always contest any ultimate closure of the circle of the self or the elect. to draw or not to draw and to remain there, always drawing and erasing at once.

see here is an interesting thought, and that is, outside of what some characterize as the blood cult of totalitarian christianity, whether a christianity that cares more for the potential of the gesture that cannot enclose than for its ultimate fulfillment could find itself oddly aligned with a certain esoteric judaism in which the messiah never arrives: a christianity in which the messiah never comes back. heresy of course. not christianity at all.

and this too gets complicated if this oscillation, this drawing and erasing, this relation which is not an entity between entities who are not entities because they cannot congeal as such without forgetting their own prehistories as this indistinct oscillation, this movement of indecision and potential, turns out to be what the monotheistic conception ultimately stands for, and monotheism becomes dispersed into the infinity of relations between incomplete and incompleteable beings: subjects, objects, the animate and inanimate, the repetitive gesture that cannot finish itself or even start, over and over and over and over.

totalitarianism would call this impossible gesture satan himself. which is ironic if it is also the impossible gesture of love, or god himself. which leads one to suspect that, like male and female, god and satan dissolve and disperse at this point as well and become simply their own potential. to go too far in naming, for the potential is not "theirs" at all.

the point, then, would be a point at which articulation both never begins and never ends, where no articulation completes itself or ever finds its original, as oscillation is no original at all but infinite movement; and where no articulation finds its ultimate interpretation, its ultimate fulfillment. this is both more and less than allowing whatever at all to be said, until there are no more speakers: it is an acknowledgement of the impossibility of saying as it unfolds in a paradoxical excess of saying.

and now we're back to the comic and why Beckett never did kill himself. an infinite amount of hope, but not for us.

in any case for just a second I identified with Sgt Barnes as the benumbed drive to death, which is the almost identical but just a little different obverse of the impossible gesture of articulation, resulting, as it does, in a kind of catastrophe of its own: "the fine line," as Scholem wrote, "between religion and nihilism."

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