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NEWSLITTERS, VIRTUAL AND ACTUAL

With a new season comes a new series of "newslitters" connecting metalepsarians in all locations and vocations to what's new on the theoretical front. The newslitter gets a slightly upgraded format and an ongoing index. First issue January 1, 2014. Happy new year!

button january 1 / newslitter 1 / the seminar that forgot how to die

Lacan and Ernst Jentsch have a name for what we're doing ... forgetting how to die. This category of the uncanny will have to serve as the flag for the next session of consultations, some meetings, lots of e-mails, and hopefully some collaborative efforts during the next academic semester.

button january 8 / newslitter 2 / clarify! clarify! clarify!

The latest working paper for the metalepsis "virtual" seminar is "Deductive Binaries," an experiment to connect as many things as possible via demonstrations and exhibits (in the legal sense) that show how something comes out of nothing (and nowhere, and nobody, and no- sense).

button january 15 / newslitter 3 / clarify! clarify! clarify!

The importance of Hegel's parable of Lordship and Bondage has never been doubted. It is possible that Lacan began with this idea and constructed his four discourses out of the elements that were evident in the ironic relationship between masters and servants, mastery itself and those in the service of mastery.

button january 22 / newslitter 4 / chirality and djana/djanus

Of course the question should be, "why should the topics of chirality, silent trade, information theory, inventory/collecting, and fetish be related in the first place?"

button january 29 / newslitter 5 / is chirality a quality of thinking?

Nothing could be weirder than the scene in Mulholland Drive where an agent of the Castigliani brothers, Ray Hott, visits the mysterious Mr. Roque — Lynch fitted out the famous midget actor, Michael J. Anderson (among whose many talents is the ability to speak backwards) with a prosthetic body so that his head would appear to be abnormally small.

button february 5 / newslitter 6 / the case for sinthomatic melancholy

In the good old Structuralism days, patterns, diagrams, and schemas were in fashion, and melancholy — that most toxic member of the family of four humors — again stepped on to the academic stage.

button february 12 / newslitter 7 / the ever expanding idea of chirality

The art of melancholy doesn't arrive on its own; it has to be invited, it has to be constructed. And, we have to be aware of the relation of the gap, the omission, the sudden ending to melancholy's need for nothing, "and a lot of it." Georges Perec's amazing project of lipogrammatology, La Disparition (Paris: Denoël, 1969), translated by Gilbert Adair as A Void, shows how effective melancholy can be without our awareness that we are all the time making, in this novel without the letter 'e', circumlocutions.

button february 14 / newslitter 7.5 / special valentine word: pulsíon

What about the drive, in Spanish or French, where the idea of a energy pointed outward or inward (same
thing in Lacanian), is immediately understood as an energetic force — pulsión? In the frame from Notorious,
above, Cary Grant could be just another tall audience member sitting in front of us, blocking our view of the
screen. When Ingrid Bergman addresses him, however, we realize that this is a special conversation. He
doesn't speak. Only after the other guests have left does the camera rotate 90º to convert this silhouette into
a human being, or rather someone acting like a human being.

button february 19 / newslitter 8 / cathexis and pulsíon — are they two sides of the same coin?

What is it about Lacan? Wasn't Freud's bad experience with his followers clear enough? You use a simple
term, describe it in a straightforward way, and as soon as you look around it has been exchanged with an
impenetrable technical term that no one will understand. Possibly mi-dire, Lacan's habit of saying (less than)
half that was required — "required to do what?" we can hear Lacan saying — was an indication that some
terms, and the ideas behind them, were best left unfinished. In the standard logic of definition, there is a big
difference between the genus et differentia style, you have a thing that belongs to a class but distinguishes
itself in a certain way.

button february 26 / newslitter 9 / the zairja, ideology, (radical) theory as resistance

The zairja is like taking a bet on reality. If the truth is really "out there," then it will come to get us when we are ready. We
have to be active, though. It is not enough to wait. There are two "readiness" activities that are effective: work and love.
Freud identified these as the main sources of human satisfaction, but the reason for this identification comes through their
relation to readiness. When we are having a spate of interesting dreams, we know that writing them down as soon as we
can after waking stimulates the dream-function to be more respectful of our desire to know. Dreams can become more
intelligible, more memorable, more "helpful" if we keep journals. This shows rather clearly that the unconscious wishes to
communicate, wishes to clarify itself. Yet, it is unable to speak in the mode of the Symbolic.

button march 12 / newslitter 10 / nosubject.com, Kearney, and the cathected field of Youngjin Park

Under the flag of those in the advancing front guard of the imagination, Kearney's The Wake of
the Imagination
(subtitle: Towards a Postmodern Culture) has been the Little Red Book fueling
arguments for a humanist view of the subject. On many points it has undercut the other Red
Guard advance movement, Vico's New Science brigade, always underfunded, misunderstood,
and put at pains to explain Vico's complex theory of history and thought. Why not join forces? The
answer lies in Kearney's silence on key issues, not the least of which is Vico himself, who
receives no mention, not a sausage, in The Wake. Not so in the "other Wake" — Finnegans.

button march 12 / newslitter 11 / sinthome and communications theory

Thanks to the perceptive essay by Youngjin Park, PhD candidate in the Comparative Literature
Program at the University of Toronto, we have two kinds of good news for the metalepsis
seminar. The first is that, if Youngjin Park and we can be arriving at the same point at the same
time, given that Youngjin is competent, well-informed, and downright brilliant, makes us feel
lucky. And grateful. Because: the second good news is that pre-doctor Park has saved us a lot
of time in thinking through the last tricky bit of Lacan that we needed to think our way
from the "symptom," the driving force behind the cathexis of the inventory field, to the
sinthome-dominated unconscious/Real.

THE FALL SERIES NEWSLITTERS …

button august 29 / newslitter 1 / architecture theory for idiots, Hermes, kenosis, a list of possible talking points …

The session will open with some brief statements, introductions, and expansion of the ideas for the semester. Participants may bring an image, book, object in that may help explain their interest in metalepsis. The reading list will be reviewed; the schedule examined; the film list and film series (C. Dayer) will be annotated. There will be a discussion of what theory in architecture is, and should be. After a short break, the lights go down for a presentation about metalepsis and its connections to form in art and architecture. Discussion carries the session to 9:45, at which point there will be several options.

button september 5 / newslitter 2 / the end game, emergence, Pale Fire, Adam Smith …

The second session of the metalepsis seminar (7pm Thursday) begins with the illuminations sparked at the first session — Nabokov’s Pale Fire, Francis Alÿss as a model for the idiot’s perfect project, aphasia lore, scaling giant redwoods, and the lonely horse in Mongolia. The unexpected prominence of the three-fold negations of Hegel (Verneinung, denial; Verleugnung, renunciation; Verwerfung, foreclosure) are a good introduction to the “logic of three’s” that constitute ideology’s lock-hold on space. What can create “loft” within the layers that are clamped together (Lacan: points de capiton; interpolation vs. interpellation) by appropriating this 3-fold lock? Pale Fire suggests a metaleptic answer. Clues clues clues! This second session includes a show-and-tell for members’ “found metalepses.” Short accounts are fine; illustrations or evidence even better. Better still: metaleptic jokes.

button september 5 / supplement (3): "Madame Bovary, c'est moi!"

We have serious material to cover this Thursday session. In addition to continuing the examples from the past — how we know that metalepsis has been important to some important people — I need to convey the basics of the "calculus" by which we will learn how to notate and annotate metalepsis as we find it in art, architecture, literature, philosophy, etc. Without this calculus we will be multiplying our terms to infinity and be hopelessly confused. Now we may be confused with some amount of hope.

button september 12 / newslitter 4 / City Lights

In the last "newslitter" notice I left off the banner (above) and didn't have enough time to mention the movie, Charlie
Chaplin's City Lights, or the story I would like you to read (but failed to mention in the last class), G. K. Chesterton's
"The Queer Feet." Carolina Dayer may be able to show you City Lights some time this week or next, no rush; and you
can find an on-line text of "The Queer Feet" a lot of places, this one is fine. Yes, you are already analyzing Zeuxis
and Parhassius using the calculus (I hope), but once you are warmed up you will not want to stop.

button september 11 (PSU Group) / newslitter 5 / emergence

We made a lot of progress in this session, moving from an "Adam Smith" view of emergence as the "unseen hand" behind self-regulation in free markets (and ideologies), to the biological model (ending with the modification of neurons creating emergent behaviors), to neural networks (the work of Stephen Wolfram, A New Kind of Science), to Benoît Mandelbrot's work on self-referentiality and fractals (a theme familiar to our study of the number nine last spring), to the Greek god Hermes (L. Mercurius) and the practice of silent trade, erotic seduction, theft, and market regulation — we are back where we started!

button september 12 / newslitter 6 / lamella, goldfish, the aleph

The third session of the metalepsis seminar must make up for some time lost in playing with Möbius bands and laughing at our own jokes. The aim of metalepsis is to enable us to act meaningfully, decisively, and courageously (cf. the three magical being in The Wizard of Oz), so that we may move from simple negation to renunciation (of ideology) and foreclosure (of its toxic manifestations). This is done first through words, the basis of theory, which gains us the advantage not so much of gnosis (the sensation of knowledge as absolute) but of kenosis, a “knowing without knowing.” The Essenes practiced this, so did Lurianic mystics, so did the Orphics and their Renaissance wannabe’s. We can, too, with a little help from our “revisionary ratios” (askesis, dæmon, tesseræ, clinamen, apophrades, and kenosis proper). These are the chapter titles in the Book of Metalepsis, surely a grimoire if there ever was one! “Give, sympathize, and control.” Datta. Dayadhvam. Damyata (what said the thunder).

button september 16 / newslitter 7 / emergence(y) manifesto

The official Metalepsis Newslitter will have to wait a few days … our last session was filled with implications for the future of the seminar, namely a lot of energy building up over the terms "interpretation," "meaning," and "ideology." Discussion was quite wonderful. I will have to work even harder to deserve your attention! Partly in response to the discussion, I pulled together a EMERGENCE(Y) MANIFESTO, a loose string of related ideas about metalepsis's relation to the science and art of emergence. A new term I found over the weekend is "chirality," — a property of something not being identifical to its mirror image. Don't be too scared by this new technical term. It will save us time in the end. This week I'm working on how to write up the symptom in the calculus. I have referred to two of Borges' writings in the manifesto, "Everything and Nothing" and "Borges and I." I think these introduce everything and nothing as good diegetic terms: E<…>N. Either term works a nice reversed predication: E for the Aleph's "everything" view, N for Hegel and negation. I'm also going to be thinking of the dimensionality introduced by chirality and what that means for the opposition of Eros to Ideology. Work with the calculus on your own with whatever you are reading and bring your results to class.

button september 20 / newslitter 8 / Krazy Kat

"TODAY'S VIRTUAL SESSION ASSIGNMENT" (meaning any time you can get around to it): Begin to think about emergence in the context of the characterizations of George Herriman's long-running comic strip (and a favorite of Marco Frascari), Krazy Kat. First, Google Krazy Kat to get some background. Then, read Gilbert Seldes' introduction to see how this strip was "taken seriously" as a work of art, but then go beyond Seldes starting with the metaleptic elements that abound (playing with the frame, mainly). Also there is the primary item of the causal chain. Where the normal chain has it that dog>cat>mouse, Herriman has: dog>mouse>cat>dog. This is as weird as Lacan's Borromeo knot! You can find plenty of metaleptical elements but you should at first ENJOY the comic strip for its weird playfulness, and there are quite a few facsimile reprints out there that I invite you to find and share.

button september 26 / newslitter 9 / stochastic resonance, polythetic thinking

The fourth session of the metalepsis seminar (7pm Thursday) takes up the burden of representation, interpretation, and meaning in general — a heavy load for any seminar! Metalepsis offers a useful escape, however. It concerns itself with signification in any form, but considers it as the “mimetic content” within a diegetic frame. What is this frame? It can be anything that exceeds the range of signifiers, without itself being subject to signification except when, in the process of metalepsis, the frame is imported to the center of mimesis, typically with the production of game-changing turbulence. This “extimacy” is also characterized by chirality — the impossibility of superimposing mirror images and thus the space/gap in the middle of the two alternating predicates of anamorphosis. In brief, the result is “everything” (the aleph, the small opening which opens a flood-gate of signifiers) and/or “nothing” (pure Hegelian negation, the collapse of dimensionality, the Absolute night of reflection.

button october 19 / newslitter 10 / Lacanian discourses

The question was — "Why THESE four 'characters' (S1, S2, a, $)?". A good question in that it leads to the matter of the form of Lacan's symbolizing the discourses as a four-on-four "matheme" (a word Lacan used to describe his cryptic symbolic abbreviations, akin to our use of the world "calculus — in both cases economy and parsimony are not just motives but ruling spirits that must be brought into the conversation and questioned). Also (a related issue), why "only" four discourses, or why THESE four (hysteria, master-servant, university, analysis). My answer is, again: "don't know!" I have ideas of course, and I refer to Groucho Marx's statement, "These are my principles, and if you don't like them, well, I have others." I would hold on to the idea of economy and take responsibility for why economy is "necessary" or "desirable." Occam, in defending his razor, had no answer for this. The problem is, if you have to have a rule for every particular in the universe, you might as well just have another whole universe of rules, without any room for things to be the case for the rules! Thought IS economy. We think a multitude by thinking of small things, details. IN FACT, the relation of the small thing to the infinite thing is, as in the case of Borges' Aleph, a key to the nature of truth.

button november 2 / newslitter 11 / the hermes-hestia controversy

Thanks to in inquiry started by Berrin Terim, I began to do a "close reading" of Alberto Pérez-Gómez's description of the prytaneion, Πρυτανεῖον, the building that contained the civic hearth-flame of Athens. Unlike the College of Vestals in Rome, this facility was not only open to men, but men only, an apparent reversal of the cult of Hestia whose priestesses are not only women but virgins "wedded to the flame." APG's account and Fustel de Coulanges' on the subject of Hestia could not be more opposite. There is a lot of explaining to do here … APG's use of Vernant's classic study and subsequent essay seems to leave out the warning about the lack of evidence that Hermes and Hestia had any association whatsoever outside of Phiedias's group sculpture, where they are paired symmetrically in a series depicting the Olympian gods and goddesses. APG's essay is preceded by a similar essay by Jean Robert, a colleague of Ivan Illich and a nice guy I met in the 1990s. I'm attaching his essay. You can find the full text of Fustel de Coulanges' The Ancient City on our reprints list or on the web.

button november 13 / newslitter 12 / don't back-project abstractions on to the ancient psyche

The literature dealing with the soul is rife with sentimental rot. You have to develop a strict disciplinary attitude here, meaning you must follow my advice about "parsimony" (finding the simplest possible means of describing things so that you can notice how the "variations on the theme" contribute and interact to the traditions of art and literature). As we have seen in the case of Hestia-Hermes, there is a temptation among scholars to see what they wish to see, to make a "case" for some value or outcome. This has led to a back-projection of a conceptualization — something the mythic mentality could not do! — on to the behaviors and beliefs of the past. We can see correlates of concepts in mythic thoughts, but mythic thought does not and cannot think "conceptually." There must be some drive to impose an alien structure onto the past by seeing it as content rather than performance. We all do it, but we try, like all good psychoanalysts, to "reduce the number of symptoms" and make them less harmful.

button november 19 / newslitter 13 / what's notorious about Notorius?

Once in a while it becomes possible to see several important points at once. We are at just such a moment with the1945 Hitichcock film Notorious, which pops onto our scene just as we are grappling with the gender issues surrounding Hermes and Hestia. Grousing about certain famous architecture theorist's fascination with the prytaneion, the Old Boys Clubhouse of ancient Athens, off limits to all of Athens' mothers and daughters (notice I did not say lovers), dedicated to the kinds of false remembering that Nicole Loraux cited in her even more fascinating book, The Divided City: On Memory and Forgetting in Ancient Athens. Let this dog sleep a bit longer.

button november 23.2 / newslitter 13 supplement / what's love got to do with it?

The subject can escape ideology (think "university discourse," and paranoia) through psychoanalysis (again, think a/S2>$/S1). The formulæ for the discourses are tough going. What if we convert the standard Lacanian mathemes to a "calculus of metaleptic predication"?

button november 23 / newslitter 14 / so, this is love?

The rule that "all those who choose to call themselves men" must obey is the complete surrender to the symbolic, a rule generating laws that must be obeyed by "all but one exception" (the "Big Daddy" figure), who "keeps the Real for himself." Those "who choose to call themselves women" are not-all, and there are no exceptions. But, there is some traveling in this diagram! The cancellation of the "The" (La) of The Woman (Lacan's scandalous dictum "The Woman does not exist!" underwrites the phallic law (ø) to which all men are subject. My terse and not-always-that-helpful essay on "Negation, Fathers, and Sexuation" tries to adjust this to Ginnie Lemoine's wonderful essay on sexuation. Lemoine was a friend of Nicole Loraux, I think. The Divided City tells the story of two Athens existing side by side, but only one is noticed by archeologists and anthropologists who, like Vernant, forget about Hermes' many-sided personality and ability to steal, both love and distances.

button december 3 / newslitter 15 / "smart" is not having to say "I don't know" (a compendium of seminar topoi)

Intelligence is a matter of relations and structures. Definitions and concepts quickly deteriorate unless one can relate things to general patterns and coincidences. A thesis should not be the boasting of a know-it-all but the provocation of an eccentric curiosity that can be shared with a few hints and invitations. Our ideas do not reside "inside our heads." We don't "have thoughts" until we see them live in the heads of others, fleeting glimpses and moments set afire by things we can say or do that excite the imaginations of our readers. Ideas are not ours to give, only ours to borrow and then set free. At best we can nourish them before their departure; at the least we should not harm them; they are old and fragile. We should never try to say they are not what they are, or are what they aren't. The "I don't know" is at least a sign of respect and humility, but we should replace it with, "I think we might know if we try" (there is no knowing without work, and no solitary knowing without conviviality). There really are answers to some questions, and no answers to others; but some questions are not really questions but attempts to bully and intimidate. We say what we can, and let the rest sing for its dinner.