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Making Decisions in the Age of the Argument
May 24, 2020 08:07 PM PDT
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In Part 1 (see below), I proffer the conditions of the contemporary moment, what I'm calling the Age of the Argument. There is no clear source of truth, no ground of certainty: all there are are arguments. It's not that some are false and some true; it's that all of them make claims, all of them are "true." So how do we make decisions?

That's the subject of this video. We're always making decisions without certainty — about what to eat, what films we like, what sex position to indulge in the moment. Things like what to believe about the corona virus are no different: we make decisions as individuals based on emergent factors and the needs and wants of our bodies. Rather than seeing truth or certainty, we make decisions based on our health and vitality, what serves us best (I borrow this from Nietzsche).

This, in turn, yields a different way of standing towards what we believe and towards others' beliefs. There is an ethics of rhetoric, an ethics of argument, that is dramatically different than morality. It's time, I believe, to use new tools of making sense that befit our times. By relying on antiquated tools of sense making that rely on certainty, we are creating a violent, bile filled culture.

Witnessing Others, or Soft Eyes
May 19, 2020 04:47 PM PDT

Seeing is not neutral or natural: it is taught. As John Berger argued in his incredible, Ways of Seeing, men have a tendency to gaze at women, at life, with a certain will to penetrate, dominate, and such — the so-called 'male gaze.'

To see is to be undone, necessarily. Seeing takes place in the middle voice. Ask yourself: is seeing active or passive? Do you see that tree? Is that tree having its way with you? The phallic gaze is an attempt to wrest control from the world, a transparently absurd gesture.

The painter, psychoanalyst, and theorist, Bracha Ettinger, posits a different gaze, what she called the matrixial gaze, coming from the womb: a pre-subjective mode of holding the other as constitutive of oneself.

I refer to to this as 'soft eyes' which I borrow from The Wire: to see generously, without judgement. I also reference Merleau-Ponty's The Intertwining.

The Age of the Argument
May 19, 2020 02:34 PM PDT

This is part of one of a longer essay entitled, "Making Sense with Pleasure in the Age of the Argument." This part focuses on establishing what I mean by the Age of the Argument—and what I mean by an argument.

An argument is not based on proof. In fact, arguments begin where proof leaves off. If there's proof, there's nothing to argue about! Arguments assemble data and the relations between all the data points. They slice and dice the world—inevitably ignoring most of the world—and create a little engine that makes sense. That's what arguments offer—not certainty, not proof, not truth, but sense.

Sense is a local shape of things, a way things can hang together. It is a nebulous form but a form nonetheless.

Arguments don't lack certainty. They're just not interested in it as certainty is impossible (in this case). It's not that we're uncertain; it's that we're a-certainty.

So how do we make decisions without a ground? That's part 2! Hold tight!

Love is a Practice
September 07, 2019 07:18 PM PDT
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Inspired by this great Erich Fromm quote, “Love isn't something natural. Rather it requires discipline, concentration, patience, faith, and the overcoming of narcissism. It isn't a feeling, it is a practice," I riff on taking acid, being in a relationship, meditation, the way capitalism coerces it all — and how to do it all differently.

How "The Great Hack" Totally Missed the Point
July 30, 2019 06:21 PM PDT
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Not surprisingly, this documentary perpetuates the very problems it thinks its revealing.

On Allen Ginsberg's "Howl" & the Performative Nature of Language & Participating in the Divine in the Very Act of Reading It
March 30, 2019 06:02 PM PDT
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Towards a Politics of the Ecstatic
March 16, 2019 07:46 PM PDT
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Rather than a government and public discourse that navigate and legislate the good or profit, I want to imagine a government and public discourse dedicated to facilitating Nietzsche's great Yes — facilitating the ecstatic.

Why a machine? Or any concept, for that matter?
September 04, 2018 06:55 PM PDT
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Often, when I get excited about an idea — Nietzsche's amor fati, Kierkegaard's knight of faith, Deleuze's fold, and now Guattari's machine — I am often met with a certain confusion by those around me. Their instinct is that whatever I'm saying is "academic" and hence of no real interest.

Believe me, I understand such a reaction. But I believe it's an instinct that's been bred by a certain ideology that makes new, strange sounding ideas suspect. The fact is we deploy concepts all the time in how we make sense of the world, of ourselves, our relationships. Ego, the unconscious, freedom are all concepts that we just take for granted as true things. But they're concepts that were created and perpetually recast — except when we just assume they're true and so never question them.

Concepts are art but, like, really pervasive art in that they inflect everything we see. Sure, seeing a Van Gogh might have you re-seeing the viscosity of the atmosphere. But a concept like the ego has you rethinking yourself and the motivations of everyone all the time.

Concepts aren't true or not true. They can work in that they can explain. They can jibe with you. They may not jibe or explain but they can be beautiful, odd, exhilarating. Long before Maturana's "autopoisesis" began to work for me, it sure exhilarated me!

But why machines in particular? Well, I think it's a concept that radically recasts the very possibility of change in the social or personal or environmental. But there's something else about machines: it's a concept or figure that refuses any sure, natural, or true ground. Everything from atoms and fleas to me and my son to the experiences of love and confusion to airplanes, solar systems, and cosmic undulations are constitutive of ever-shifting machinic flows and distributions. And so, as a rhetorician, I take pleasure in having all my paradigms be up for grabs. It's, once again, exhilarating.

The Art Machine
August 29, 2018 05:37 PM PDT
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Inspired by reading Félix Guattari, here I am trying to explain what an art machine is as distinct from Foucault's discourse, Marx's means of production, and Althusser's ideological hailing.

Deleuze & Guattari's Body without Organs (BwO), Yoga, S&M, Drugs, and a Morass of More!
May 12, 2018 07:29 PM PDT
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I try to bring Deleuze and Guattari's figure of the Body without Organs to life and discuss different modes of access — different drugs, S&M, and mostly yoga. And I play some Boredoms! Fun for the whole family.

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