The Jeet Kune Do of Art

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Use what works for you when creating. You can imitate older forms if you must, but eventually, to make something new, you'll have to appropriate other forms.

Every art form that appears new is an accretion of countless others. Ripping off one person is plagiarism. Ripping off ten people is originality.

Take the novel, for instance. It started out in an awkward narrative mode because its only example was epic poetry. It was comprised of letters, diaries from characters, and first hand news reports. The novel leveled out and soon a common standard was imposed on narrative. After a while, these same older methods were introduced back into the novel as means of experimentation.

Use everything that works and throw the rest out. If you try to be too conventional or go out of your way to be unlike anything anyone has seen, you may miss the potential of what can be accomplished with balance.

Don't worry about the style beforehand. The style will take care of itself when you focus on delivering what you have to communicate in the clearest way you can

The Jeet Kune Do of Politics

Bruce Lee on Jeet Kune Do

'I have not invented a "new style," composite, modified or otherwise that is set within distinct form as apart from "this" method or "that" method. On the contrary, I hope to free my followers from clinging to styles, patterns, or molds. Remember that Jeet Kune Do is merely a name used, a mirror in which to see "ourselves". . . Jeet Kune Do is not an organized institution that one can be a member of. Either you understand or you don't, and that is that. There is no mystery about my style. My movements are simple, direct and non-classical. The extraordinary part of it lies in its simplicity. Every movement in Jeet Kune Do is being so of itself. There is nothing artificial about it. I always believe that the easy way is the right way. Jeet Kune Do is simply the direct expression of one's feelings with the minimum of movements and energy. The closer to the true way of Kung Fu, the less wastage of expression there is. Finally, a Jeet Kune Do man who says Jeet Kune Do is exclusively Jeet Kune Do is simply not with it. He is still hung up on his self-closing resistance, in this case anchored down to reactionary pattern, and naturally is still bound by another modified pattern and can move within its limits. He has not digested the simple fact that truth exists outside all molds; pattern and awareness is never exclusive. Again let me remind you Jeet Kune Do is just a name used, a boat to get one across, and once across it is to be discarded and not to be carried on one's back.'

What would Bruce Lee's method look like if applied to politics? One might say that it would be chaos, but the important thing to remember is that his method always keeps the strongest and easiest solution and gets rid of what doesn't or no longer works.

If I had to pick a fundamental principle to get it started, I would posit that a society with more voluntary collaboration would be best suited to experimentation.

The question would arise: Who is organizing and experimenting? Who's getting things done? Perhaps you'd need/want some kind of council. Keeping in mind that the council is voluntary, the people would be able to take their advise or accept their leadership as it suited them, sort of like joining a club or lodge. Perhaps each club, union or lodge would have its own rules, but no one's forcing you in; if you don't like the rules, don't join.

Problem solving would be key. One wouldn't stick to the same tired economic formula if the means of spending started to transcend the goods they represented (no fiat money).

Power would be reciprocal in nature, as it is anyway. Sure, the unions, communes and clubs could trade with one another, but someone is always going to worry about civil unrest.

Perhaps there's a federation that encourages widespread communication between unions. The more groups are overseen, the less actual power is had by the overseer, rather the overseers would make it their specialty to learn about the nature of each union, even the cultures therein.

If a council didn't work, or a federation, they can be adjusted and done away with, or put into some other form altogether. The key is cooperation.

Would problems go away? Of course not. But that's the whole point of such organicity. Problems can be dealt with in a near infinite variety of ways without the rigidity of paper law. By 'paper law' let me refer to those contracts one is expected to fulfill without one's consent, and in some cases, without one's being aware. As things stand now, people can be imprisoned for not providing the right paper in order to have other paper on hand. This isn't reciprocal.

When we focus more on things being reciprocal, with the best, easiest methods in place, problems may arise, but they aren't permanent. The laws we have now aren't even permanent, but the stakes are so high when laws change today. It can mean the difference between health and illness, life and death.

If we use only what is best, the stakes will be lowered to a radical degree.

Passages #3

'I try to remain open, reminding myself that all is permissible as I work. Of course, that doesn’t let me off the hook later—ultimately, I have to live with any work I publish and make public. But it’s a very freeing feeling during the composition process, when I try to keep in mind that nothing is off-limits.

Sometimes, this is very difficult. There have been times when I’m writing about things that are personally embarrassing.  Like any human being, sometimes I can’t help but wonder—what are the people I know going to think about this? So I have to remind myself that all is permissible. Art has to be a free space. Language has to be a free space. And I just shouldn’t worry about that kind of thing while I’m working. I might pay the consequences later, but that’s not my problem while I’m doing the writing.'

William T. Vollmann's take  on a famous aphorism by Hassan-i Sabbah: 'Nothing is true; all is permissible.'

Seems to work best for artists and mercenaries. Go figure.  

The Reactionary Nature of Party Lines

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Historically, reactionaries were those who opposed the French Revolution. Today, 'reactionary' is thrown around to describe anyone who doesn't agree with you.

It's human nature to react. It's a basic instinct for survival. The problem arises when dogma is made out of a reaction.  

Some modern movements have acknowledged the reactionary nature of their ideology, such as neoreactionaries (as one would rightly guess). However, reactionary forces don't strictly belong to some traditionalist Right, opposing the spirit of revolution. You see a similar attitude on all fronts.  

For some, fighting racists isn't good enough: they exhibit the same racist attitudes toward the one group whom they feel is oppressing them. Likewise, people who have bad experiences in church growing up become militant secularists. People who get attacked by their ultra-PC peers find comfort by following a few Alt-Right blogs and pretty soon, you hear them incessantly comparing the average IQ's of different races to make some point. Men who are tired of feminists start claiming that it is actually men who are oppressed.

What do they all have in common? They've found a community, and thus, for better or worse, a new party line.  

The best thing to keep these communities thriving is a scapegoat: whether it's men, women, white people, black people, Jews, Rightists, Leftists, gays, heterosexuals or an aristocracy.  

It's easier to find a scapegoat if the party in question can out-victim another group. The biggest victim wins cosmic sympathy and becomes, in this secular age, something akin to an inverted God; some version of Jesus with narrative emphasis on the degree of wounds rather than the level of innocence.  

Most of this provides mere psychological restitution, more than anything. Each party calls the other 'fascist;' an indication that the conversation has ended.  

We know how this ends, usually. The French Revolution's Reign of Terror and The Holocaust had something in common. Both of them saw some kind of solution in wiping out entire bloodlines. 

Our next step forward, as a species, will have to happen without this enormous degree of scapegoating and its coextensive self-proclaimed victimization.

There will have to come a time when patriotism stops meaning arbitrary pride in something someone else did. We'll have to be personally responsible for who we help and harm. When that day comes, will we describe  our position  as 'auto-reactionary?' Perhaps we will reach such a stage of maturity that all wars and revolutions will become internalized.

 

Passages #2

 

 'Hence, one may infer that to Lao Tzu, a ruler must be more of a guardian of the state, rather than a despot. This view, that a ruler must be more of a guardian, than an actively involved leader, is further supported by his claim that those who are fit for leadership are people who can adequately treat and protect the state as if it were themselves. Finally, he claims that a ruler should neither boast nor make light of his/herself, and rather, should maintain a demeanor that creates a necessary distance between them and their people, for their safety, as well as for the preservation of the honor of their station.

According to the philosopher Machiavelli, there are various ways in which a ruler can control his/her domain. Of the many principalities which can exists, he finds that those which are inherited are easier to rule than others. This is because, the main purpose of a ruler who inherits their position, is to maintain the traditions of their ancestors, as well as to govern in an adaptable manner so that their power may continue to endure. Furthermore, issues concerning how to control a principality that is already established, but comes under the power of a new leader is also addressed by Machiavelli. He recommends that the use of excessive force to control a newly acquired people is to be avoided.18 This is so that they do not grow to despise their new leader, and thus, jeopardize the social order of the state. Also, he recommends that the best way for a new ruler to avoid political turmoil in an already established domain, would be to neither alter the law nor raise the people’s taxes. Hence, one may infer that to Machiavelli, the people of a nation are not to be interfered with, especially if it puts a leader in danger and/or disturbs societal peace.'

I've always thought the writings were different, even in their similarity. Read the whole thing here.  

 

Passages #1

  'A commitment to an-archy is itself a commitment to the discovery of that excess-ive and ill-defined portion of matter that shatters the short-sightedness of the idea(l) within the restrictive economy of epistemology (what the great Max Stirner has called the “Spook” (c.f., Stirner, 1970: 50–54)), it can rightly be referred to as the general economy; in turn, the general economy, being itself the economy of the base, is bolstered by what I would like to call the general State. The analytical distinction that I employ between economy and State is important in the following respect: where the general economy refers to the excess-ive energy that transcends the particular uses to which it is put (which, in turn, implies the fundamental impermanence of the current conception of the restrictive State and restrictive economy), the general State refers to the no-thing upon which the general economy founds its logic and enforcement outside of logical time (if the economy is the mirror of means, then the state is the mirror of ends); on the other hand, the subject of the restrictive (Marxist) State tries to grasp what Bataille has called “some object of acquisition, something, not the no-thing of pure expenditure [found in the general State]. It is a question of arriving at the moment when consciousness will cease to be a consciousness of something; in other words, of becoming conscious of the decisive meaning of an instant in which increase (the acquisition of something) will resolve into expenditure; and this will be precisely self-consciousness, that is, a consciousness that henceforth has nothing as its object” (1980: 190); it is not a wonder that money has no value in the jungle, but that it requires the power of ritual and the placement of an impermanent some-thing into successive intervals: the economy of utility, therefore, is still nothing but an economy of play without the imposition of the restrictive State, a single instant of the State-form.'

The whole article is interesting.

Candidate-isms #4

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To say Trump is wrong is becoming something of a mantra, but let's look closer at why he's wrong.  

Yes, weakness might embolden terrorists, but strength threatens them, causing them to react.  

I would never make the masochistic argument that the United States creates terrorists out of the otherwise peaceful thin air. However, violent people react to violence. If representative government insists on committing violence on behalf of other people, then those other people will always be targets of violence, because they're less protected than those who represent them. They're more protected because they count as more than one person (among other reasons). 

Terrorism is certainly a channel of violence, but it's only one of many. If someone wants to go to another place and kill murderers, so be it, but don't represent me. Let the Trump empire or the Clinton empire or the Obamas and Bushes of this world act on their own behalfs.

Trump promises the same tired solution Obama did and which Clinton already does. They want to end war, which for some odd reason specifically involves going to war. I have no faith that Trump will get less children and civilians killed as either of the Clinton's, Obama or Bush have.  

A strong Hillary is as much of a problem as a strong Trump. Terrorism thrives not on weakness, but the abstractions of impersonal, representative  strength. 

Candidate-isms #3

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True words. In fact, public voting, in a large state context, is fundamentally a means for the government to, not let the people rule, but to offer choices in the government's interests. The choices pre-suppose that there is a general public interest in a given subject and also that there is a common public preference attached to the issue (even if there only ends up being a common public preference after the choice is posited, as it sometimes happens).  

By dint of majority vote, the minority receives the message, not only that they go against common, public interest and have thus suffered defeat, but that they were already against the common public preference. The cause and effect swallow one another like a snake eating its own tail.

It is not only oppression of one over another, it is the psychological punishment of dissenters for being wrong from the very beginning. The best that a minority can do in this situation  is hope that someday, even if it takes fifty years or more, the general zeitgeist will change its mind in favor of the opposite value (even if that value is only the abdication of another). This is political Manichaeism of the most poignant sort. All issues are dichotomies--the constant play of a good god and an evil god, but which in this case are willing to mis-identify the other and the self, respectively. 

Those who reject a specific dichotomy say 'neither the yay or the nay represent my interest concerning the issue,' which is to say that either they're indifferent, or that the perimeters of a choice are too narrow for the scope of their concerns. 

It could be better said that voting is as little about the minority vote as it is about the non-voter. It is about providing an apparent providential affirmation of loyalty (better phrased as compliance) thus providing psychological satisfaction for obedience, and a declaration of blasphemy (better phrased as dissention) thus providing guilt for disobedience. 

This way, the government gets support for what it would otherwise do even if it was in the unfortunate position of not having any public support.

The villain asking a mother which of her children's life she'd rather spare is the ultimate democrat.

 

 

Calasso Contra Bataille

Roberto Calasso said, in his Paris Review interview:

'The point is, man has a surplus of energy which he has to dispose of. That surplus is simply life. There is no life without surplus. Whatever one does with that surplus, that decides the shape of a culture, of a life, of a mind. There were certain cultures that decided they had to offer it in some way. It is not clear to whom, why, and how, but that was the idea. There are other cultures, like ours, where all this is considered entirely useless and  obsolete. In the secular world, sacrifice shouldn’t have any meaning at all. At the same time, you realize that it does, because the word has remained very much in use. In discussions of the economy, analysts speak all the time of sacrifices, without realizing what is inside the word. Even in psychological terms, sacrifice is a most usual word. It is considered illegal—for instance, if one celebrated a sacrificial ritual in the middle of London or New York, he would do something illegal, he would be put in jail. Sacrifice is connected to destruction—that is an important thing and the most mysterious one. Why, in order to offer something, you must destroy it. '

This statement strikes me as very Bataillean, though with Calasso's particular flair.

Funny enough, when offering criticism of Levi-Strauss for not engaging with the subject of sacrifice in his anthropological work, Calasso was then reminded by the interviewer of Bataille, for whom sacrifice played a major role. 

Calasso replied: 

 'Bataille is the opposite. Bataille wrote of sacrifice all his life. His best book on that was La part maudite, a very audacious work. But Bataille was not a rigorous thinker. He wrote too much and had a terrible habit—ressassement, endless repetitions. Yet in a way, he put the question at the center of everything.' 

After dismissing Bataille, he goes back to the subject of sacrifice and makes yet another Bataillean statement: 

'Maybe it’s simply because sacrifice brings us into dealings with the unknown. In the act of sacrifice, you establish a relation with something that you recognize as enigmatic and powerful. Our collective psyche seems to have lost touch with it, although science is providing countless motives for being overwhelmed by the unknown. The unknown itself is in our own mind as well—our mind is in its largest part totally unknown to us. Therefore, it is not only a relation to the exterior world, it is a relation to ourselves. We establish a connection with the unknown through the act of giving something and, paradoxically, the act of destroying something. That is what is behind sacrifice. What you offer and what you destroy, it is that surplus which is life itself.'

Throughout Calasso's work, however, he makes frequent mention of Rene Girard, who's work also dealt largely with sacrifice, but from a far different perspective than Bataille. While Calasso seems to claim a much greater affinity with Girard than Bataille, I tend to think he has far more actual affinity with Bataille.

For Girard, sacrifice is examined solely in a configuration of jurisprudence. This he links to religion and ancient myth, with the Judao-Christian tradition offering the first signs of the divine scapegoat's narrative innocence. It is a simple equation that Girard sees everywhere. 

Calasso and Bataille, on the other hand, both set the course of their configurations onto a different path; one which doesn't trap itself in the different codings of one text against many, but which is slightly more epistemological. They concern themselves fundamentally with the impulse to destroy and its relationship to reciprocal surpluses of energy. 

It is interesting that such rigorous critiques of something so morbid, so hidden deep within our past, could happen at the hands of a group of men with such a strange relationship to the secular west and the intellectual environments around them in each respective case. Calasso speaks with reverent forbidding about the unknown and the mythical gods he revisits in his texts. Georges Bataille, though an atheist, started a secret society called Acephale, which he described as intensely religious. Girard was a Catholic. Calasso, paradoxically, says that the west has always been secular, but then claims that the modern secular world is the last great myth. Girard often seems to suggest, rather, that the secular world is a crude extension of the Christian tradition--a sort of inverted Nietzscheanism. Bataille radicalized the headless destiny beyond the summit.   

Girard is always trying to enclose the world. Calasso and Bataille seem to be reaching beyond it.

 

 

Bataille Contra Marx

 'There are already North Americans who have learned to gurgle the phrase "Bataille contra Marx..."'

-Nick Land, The Thirst For Annihilation: Georges Bataille and Virulent Nihilism

 

It would certainly be an arduous task to set Bataille up as an alternative to Marx, though one could say, rather, that Bataille swallows Marx up into his theory of general economy (along with all sorts of phenomena usually unaccounted for in economic theory, such as human sacrifice in the Aztec civilization, or wife-bartering among Native Americans).

Bataille's theory of economy, found in his three-part work, The Accursed Share, was deduced on a plane beyond good and evil. It is more of a Nietzschean/Sadean economics than an extension of Marx, though it is certainly that too. 

Not being a moral economics, however, it poses an unprecedented evaluation of redistribution which would have certainly baffled his more conventionally socialist friends and peers. Marx's evaluation of redistribution is almost entirely moral, even when it doesn't set out to be: capital is turned over to the workers and all class hierarchy done away with. 

For Bataille, revolution is simply one way of dealing with surplus. He goes entirely against contemporary scarcity narratives and posits that the flow of life fundamentally produces a far more abundant degree of resources than what could ever be used up, but only intermittently. It is then necessary to lavishly use up what is left or it goes to waste. 

In the case of the Bolshevik revolution, the surplus was the monarchy itself. We deal here with a common historical contingency in which the surplus is maintained by a minority of people who have the most social power. As they have a monopoly on both the means of production and the means of squandering, the revolution acts as the squandering of lives, paradoxically, to free up the share not put to use by the working class. For Bataille, whether or not this worked in the favor of the proletariat is not a matter of concern; he simply describes this situation and re-configures it over and over to different degrees of intensity throughout history. 

The gift has its origins here. The gift comes not only from an acknowledgement of surplus resources, but from the radical affirmation of the reciprocal play of forces which supposes that if something which would otherwise be squandered is given away freely, something might be received in kind. The gift is related, if remotely, to revolution. It is its non-violent counter-part. 

I'm simplifying Bataille here, but who doesn't? His readers can be excused to some degree for offering conclusions since he, by nature, refused to provide any. 

9-15-2016

There's a journal I found recently when looking into the work of Lewis Call. It's called Interstitial Journal . There's a link to it here

The only one I have read is the interview with Lewis Call, so that's the only one I can rightly recommend. He has some interesting things to say about fragmenting identity so that it can't be co-opted as a commodity.  

Against The Left/Right Dichotomy

Alain de Benoist on the Right and Left:

'In the historical scheme, we have the habit of dating the Left-Right cleavage to the French Revolution, but in reality – in France at least – these terms only spread into the public discourse in the last years of the nineteenth century. It would never have come to the mind of Karl Marx, Georges Sorel, or Proudhon to define themselves as ‘men of the Left’! The alliance of the worker’s movement with the progressive Left did not occur earlier than the Dreyfus Affair. Moreover, far from being assigned a fixed residence, a number of ideas have not stopped strolling across the political countryside: liberalism passed from the Left to the Right, colonialism was first defended by the Left before being on the Right, ecologism passed from the Right to the Left, and so on.

The truth is that in every epoch and in each country, there are always many Rights and many Lefts. Some of these Rights have more affinity with some of these Lefts than with other Rights.'

 

Gore Vidal

I have been saying for the last thousand years that the United States has only one party—the property party. It’s the party of big corporations, the party of money. It has two right wings; one is Democrat and the other is Republican.'

 

 

Candidate-isms #1

A recent @HillaryClinton Tweet 

Clinton's definition of honor is similar to cutting off a man's hands and offering him a cookie.  

American honor in particular, for Clinton, was best indicated by the fact that Bin Laden's killers made sure terrorists' families were safe. 

This is the least radical definition of honor I have heard in a while: That people who didn't commit the crimes their family members committed shouldn't be held responsible for said crimes.  

At least she has a basic standard to aspire to.  

 

A recent @realDonaldTrump Tweet

Donald Trump will only work for YOU. Does this mean he'll back out of the race if all of us require him to fill out a job application? Perhaps this is a method of voting I could get behind. But all kidding aside, seeing how Obama has been laid off, we can't justify putting someone else in.   

Idleness Guilt

Idleness is one of the most demonized behaviors in the west. The guilt people get for being idle, whether self-induced or handed to them by family and peers, causes them to go to university and major in something they don't care about. 

Idleness isn't the enemy. It's restlessness and constant, arbitrary activity.   

How often do you hear parents say today, 'At least my kids are reading SOMETHING'? 'At least they're getting out of the house, even if it is Pokemon.'  

Seizeless activity, in and of itself, without thought behind it, is fear of death. Every activity requires its own degree of thought. Sometimes it's better to quiet your mind altogether. Your intellect is a tool that can wear itself out just like your body.  

No two people are the same. everyone has a different level of ambition. Figure out the proper nutrition for your mind and body and ambition  will take care of itself. You can't favor ambition over idleness, as they complete each other. 

How Consensus Could Work

One might say it's unrealistic to expect everyone to agree on one thing, but how realistic is it to change laws every few years and months on issues that are entirely personal and cultural? 

People often get thrown in prison for terms that last longer than it takes for the crimes which put them there to become legalized. Our system of law-making is completely schizophrenic. 

One could argue that consensus poses a problem similar to democracy but working in the opposite direction: The smallest minority could prevent real progress.  But if one keeps in mind that small, localized group negotiation is the most effecient way to deal with most minor issues, there is room for compromises of all sorts. Negotiation is the key word here. Nothing has to be finalized. Dissenters could reason with the majority to have concessions made for them, or compromise on getting what they want in some manageable form that doesn't disrupt anyone. 

It sounds like a lot of planning and talking but it's quite organic. Think about how things get done between you and a group of friends. There is consensus where possible, and where that doesn't work, small scale negotiation. Greater society could work this way concerning most issues. Compromises can only reasonably be made when you can look someone in the eye and know where they're coming from.