Category Archives: Abyss

Gelassenheit kicks me in the shins

Some problems evade definition. So do some situations. One of the more difficult things is to live with that and not try to define a situation to death. We like to have a situation as fully defined as possible, it gives us the warm fuzzies. We also like to think we have a problem defined in such a way that we can map out the steps to a solution. Sometimes those very definitions kill the situation, or make the problem insoluble.

mitda and I have been wrestling with this type of situation for a good while. With emmie and I things are more defined, the outlines and contours of the relationship more visible and less shifting. And of course the contrast only added to the urge to overdefine the relationship mitda and I have. It also added to the urge to define the problems in the relationship, after all, every relationship has its problems. The process of defining was nothing more than a process of undoing, though. Now we are feeling our way towards a redoing.

This kind of situation has to be handled in a mode of gelassenheit, an active letting things be what they are and will be. The abyss is all too present to be ignored in this kind of situation, but it is the only abground available for the relationship to stand or to fall on.

Nobody Understands Me! Including Me!

Sometimes circumstances conspire to hit you on the head with something you know full well, but for some reason were avoiding your own understanding of. A few months ago circumstances to do with employment took a major turn from the situation I had been hired under, and wanting to make the best of things, along with maintaining a significant income, caused me to avoid understanding the significance of the change. This although had someone described the new situation prior to my accepting the position I would have run for the hills.

Even within the avoidant perspective I was framing the situation with, I spent much of the last couple of months watching the rest of the people on the project busily building a train and tracks to run it on, all the time knowing the destination wasn’t reachable by land. If someone isn’t ready to hear something, even if they respect you sufficiently to listen, your words won’t make any sense, and gesturing wildly towards the abyss between the current track and the destination is only going to convince people you’ve lost your mind, because not only is their perspective different, they have a different horizon, beyond which nothing is yet visible. This has nothing to do with intelligence or acuity, just the luck of the draw as to what you’re ready to see and hear.

This time circumstances conspired further. About a week ago I was forced to stop avoiding my own understanding and act on it, despite it seeming like the worst possible timing, both in terms of personal as well as financial stability. Already, though, it’s as if a massive fog has been lifted. Avoiding something you fully understand renders other things blurry as well, you can’t put blinders on to only one thing, they affect your vision of everything else as well.

Mastery / slavery ? Digressions in Terminology

How the more extreme forms of domination and submission oriented dynamics acquired the terminology “Master/slave” is an odd question at first glance, and one related to another form of terminology, that of “Owner/property”.
A slave, defined by being-owned, would by definition have an owner.  One who owned a human being would by definition have a slave, owning simple “property” would not distinguish one from any other in our current society.  Masters in various areas of endeavour might have servants, novices, acolytes, initiates, apprentices, etc.  But in the specific area of consensual slavery the slave’s owner appropriates the designation “Master”.  Seemingly in reaction to the ability and responsibility mastery requires, some in domination/submission dynamics opt out of the issue of what mastery entails, preferring to return to simple ownership, but the simulaneous reduction of human property (“slave”) to just “property” signals a felt lack, as if owning a human being without mastery is somehow inappropriate.
Consensual slavery has multiple defining features, but one of the principle features is a vow of obedience that overrules further need for consent, in most cases perpetual, at least in intention.  Perpetual vows of obedience are found in a number of other areas of human endeavour, but are most associated with the religious life.  Within many religious orders a vow of obedience to the order is prescribed.  While it is unusual today, vows of obedience to a particular person were at one time also common within Christianity as in other religions.
The justification for vows of obedience within specifically Christian theology stemmed from the limited perspective available to any given individual, together with the notion that community ameliorated that limitation and provided a brake on unconstrained and potentially mistaken willing by the individual.
Will as Will to Power, in the consummation of metaphysics and therefore Christianity itself, however, is the term for the essence of being itself, rather than a specific faculty of a specific being.  As the essence of being itself the slave’s being is as fully Will to Power as the Owner’s.  Rather than ameliorating the expression of Will to Power, the being of the community, religious or otherwise, is also Will to Power.  A vow of obedience could not in post Nietzschean terms accomplish any constraining of the Will to Power but would simply make the perspective panoramic, and as panoramic all the more perspectival.
A vow of obedience, as central to the slave’s being-a-slave, and hence the slave’s expression of Will to Power, serves two other purposes.  First the vow is a shield against the tempting, in particular the most tempting itself.  Second it is the focus for the more understanding and creative expression of that will demanded by its continuing alignment with the will of the Master.

It is in the radicality of the demand of obedience that it functions as a shield against the tempting.  “The most tempting itself” is an odd phrase at first –  temptation is often conflated with desire, yet in a sense it opposes and frustrates the pursuit of that which is most desired itself.  Temptation diverts from the pursuit of desire as much as from the pursuit of perfection, or any other particular pursuit.  As the “most” tempting fundamental temptation is something we always find ourselves in in advance.  Radical obedience, in either expectation or fulfillment, opposes the most tempting in an essential way because it is an extraordinary expectation, and an extraordinary thing to attempt.  “The most tempting”, the founding temptation in which we always find ourselves immersed is essentially the temptation of the mediocre, the averageness of everyday understanding and levelling off any distinctions that might threaten that tranquillizing mediocrity of everydayness itself.

Expecting this kind of vow implictly requires a sense of one’s own unique abilities, a sense that develops with mastery of those abilities itself, a sense that breaks and continually re-breaks the temptation towards a tranquilizing common mediocrity.  Consenting to such a vow requires an honouring of the uniqueness of the Master’s abilities that accomplishes the same severing from the temptation to mediocrity.

Refusal Or … ?

Between my post on refusal and now I’ve had a very odd change in my manner of being.

I had what used to be called, in the conceptual world, a “divine revelation”.  Since I live in the post conceptual (post religious-metaphysical-scientific)  world it was no long divine in any sense.   However it was reflexive in a way that no epiphany could be.  It was a revelation of the nature of revelation itself.

The reflexivity made me suddenly understand Hegel’s Absolute Knowing, Nietzsche’s Eternal Recurrence of the Same, and Heidegger’s vom Ereignis (from Enowning) simultaneously as attempts to provoke the experience.  Not that they do, but they do at least prepare one for it in a similar way to mystic practice preparing one for divine revelation.  Understanding understanding, as it were, doesn’t give you an understanding of anything in particular.  It gives you a different sense of things where understanding precedes self-conscious interpretation.

More on this later …

The Situation and State of Absolute Enslavement

The situation in Absolute Enslavement is that of a limit-situation, but in a sense every situation is a limit-situation, though this is not always transparent to those within the situation. In a transparent limit-situation something of the Absolute comes to the fore. It is my contention that the Absolute is that which partakes of the always excessive-to the-situation, or the Void.

Firstly the Void is not the classical physics notion of “Space”. Unformed matter, as Aristotle pointed out correctly, would be indistinguishable from such a concept of Void. Matter is formed space, as the fundamental particles of matter have no mass, and space has a “fabric” that can be distorted into form.

The Void, then, is punctual (there is a proof of this in the ZF system of set theory but I’ll leave that alone for now). This point is, in itself, the point of Being, that is always in excess of any given situation. This is the Void, the unpresentable, the unnatural, the source of terror to any given Situation, that is hidden away by the situation’s reduplication in the State.

The Site of the Situation is the proper place for some “thing”. Each situation has a “point of Being” that in a hidden way structures the Situation and makes it appropriate or proper for that particular being, yet always remains excessive to the Situation and therefore the point of that Situations finitude and destructibility.

Site and Situation come from the Latin Sitere, which also means to let, permit. “What is permitted” is what is appropriate to the situation. The State of the situation then is what is expressly permitted, while the Situation is the extent of the real possibilities inherent in it. In the M/s situation what is expressly permitted is up to the Master, and is made explicit in the slave’s ongoing training. In this sense the Master is the State. In large part, then, the slave has to follow the Master’s directions, however there are always things extant in the situation that are excrescent or singular to the State.

Depression, Anxiety and other Fun Stuff

Currently emmie and mitda are visiting emmie’s new pdoc (psychiatrist). I am waiting at home, hoping things go well and that emmie can get a more viable treatment plan for her depression and anxiety issues. While she is bipolar other than blips mania hasn’t been an issue for a long while. I am bipolar myself and having two bipolar slaves is an interesting, if somewhat difficult, task to put to oneself. While mitda was diagnosed years ago (myself hundreds of years ago) it is all very new to emmie, who was just diagnosed formally this year. We do attend a local support group on Monday’s (although emmie and I were too tired to go last night, mitda did meet up with E. there – as the only normie in the quad it’s great of E. to bother showing up to support the family).

Thought at its Limits

Foucault praises linguistics and psychoanalysis as examples of thought at its limits which discovers at the center of knowledge not humanity, but a sort of anti-humanity, a dead end if you will. Both linguistics and psychoanalysis find humanity suspended in a web of language, a language which mediates humanity and allows humanity to constitute an image of itself. But language is not such a stable support network; rather language’s promise of solidity is something like quicksand, an infinitely regressing system which cannot comprehend its own foundation since it has no center or originary meaning to rest on. “From within language experienced and transversed as language, in the play of its possibilities extended to their farthest point, what emerges is that man has ‘come to an end’, and that, by reaching the summit of all possible speech, he arrives not at the very heart of himself but at the brink of that which limits him; in that region where death prowls, where thought is extinguished, where the promise of the origin interminably recedes.” If humanity reveals itself only in and by language, humanity must accept a certain condemnation of silence to never be able to speak of its own origins and ends. Humanity is thrust into the foreground only to be distanced from its foundations, its background, a horizon which cannot speak and which, when approached, undoes thinking (as meaning is undone at the roots of language, the self at the roots of psychoanalysis), leaving only a horizon of the dead.

It is, then, in this context that Foucault speaks of humanity as a recent invention. Only with the elaboration of specific systems of thought which could inquire not into humanity’s ideal or essence, but the functioning of the foreground and the silhouette of humanity against the enabling background. “We shall say, therefore, that a ‘human science’ exists, not whenever man is in question, but wherever there is analysis – within the dimension proper to the unconscious – of norms, rules, and signifying totalities which unveil to consciousness the conditions of its forms and contents.” The subject of humanity was constituted during a certain moment in history which “dissolved” language, that is, an era which knowingly constructed its understanding of humanity “objectively,” in between the spaces of representationality which show how humanity is deployed. According to Foucault, the human sciences address humanity in so far as people live, speak, and produce (biology, philology, and economics), and create its model by isolating and questioning the functioning of humanity when the norms and rules break down, and on that basis rebuild knowledge by showing how a functional representation of humanity can come into being and be deployed (and thus, Foucault will later argue, perfect the techniques of normalization and socialized encoding of rules via totalizing methods of power).

As language is now re-coalescing at its limits, combining thought and unthought, the Other of knowledge must give itself over to the Same. Where the limits of thinking reveal its own basis as its foundational limitations, a new way of thinking is constituted which, as Levi-Strauss says, “dissolves humanity.” Foucault writes, “Since man was constituted at a time when language was doomed to dispersion, will he not be dispersed when language regains its unity?” The “death of man” seems a relatively peaceful event, not where humanity explodes with enormous violence, but a moment where humanity withdraws into the background such that a new array of knowledge can be foregrounded. Foucault does not yet have the advantage of a fully elaborated theory of language; however, if such a unity of language is not philosophized, humanity will forever find itself in a dying state, undoing itself by its own logic without our awareness. Foucault seems to ask that humanity die gracefully so that we can direct our energy to elaborating what is not yet thought, and approach a new horizon of articulation.

Helplessness and the Passing Under

mitda in her current blogpiece talks about an experience we shared on Friday.  She had been rendered helpless in a play session completely, and suddenly “something” came over us.  I put something in scare quotes because it didn’t have attributes or anything one could describe, it was just presencing pure and passing over, with a simultaneous (for me) passing under.  I have had this experience before but under very different circumstances.  I felt from it a huge sense of refusal, refusal of worship, refusal of description, refusal of communication.  It seems to be a rare occurrence, and one that one needs to be partially prepared for, but the preparation can never be enough, and it remains the most overwhelming, the definition of overwhelming itself.  The Abyssal.

The Abyssal

The cause of the irrupting of the Abyss is our urge to closure. Responsibility is in this sense an experience, something to be undergone, suffered, endured. And in the undergoing the something, in this case responsibility, itself comes to pass. There is no closure to experience, and this lack is itself the limit of experience. There is therefore only grasping of the experience in the as-if of the limit situation. Responsibility is responsibility only in the as-if of seeing no limits to responsibility, hence the arising of the Abyssal. But the Abyssal doesn’t exist in-itself or as something apart from the experience that gives rise to it. The Abyssal’s arising becomes the negative confirmation of that experience at the limit of lack of limits.

The Abyssal

The cause of the irrupting of the Abyss is our urge to closure. Responsibility is in this sense an experience, something to be undergone, suffered, endured. And in the undergoing the something, in this case responsibility, itself comes to pass. There is no closure to experience, and this lack is itself the limit of experience. There is therefore only grasping of the experience in the as-if of the limit situation. Responsibility is responsibility only in the as-if of seeing no limits to responsibility, hence the arising of the Abyssal. But the Abyssal doesn’t exist in-itself or as something apart from the experience that gives rise to it. The Abyssal’s arising becomes the negative confirmation of that experience at the limit of lack of limits.