Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Random Notes on Liturgy’s Renihilation


Revent: The songs sound like something happening/about to happen. Song is typically the sound of its own happening, the self-absorbing of its said into its saying. But these songs sound like something mediating or fitfully flipping back and forth between the sound of a beautiful-terrifying objective happening and an expression that would make such an event happening by sounding like it. This would be a form of unimaginable sonic sympathetic magic, an imitation of the unforeseeable, like the first detonation of a new order of bomb, not by inventing it, but via the performance of its effect. This corresponds to the renihilation/overcoming theme, but I want to stick with the feeling, let it stay first, in keeping with this very process, understanding effect as preceeding and ‘causing’ cause. Such production of event by its sound is analogous to the apophatic business of saying yes by staying within the no. “A negation of a negation is the most pure and full affirmation” (Eckhart). I.e. no is the sound of the unsayable yes. Cf. aesthetics of inevitability.

Rattle: The music works like a rattle, a device whose shamanistic relation to Black Metal I wish Valter at Surreal Documents would explicate. The rattle, after all, is the tool par excellence for making happen what you cannot make happen, what only happens on its own. Rain, grace, etc. The modulated percussive speeding up and slowing down is very rattle like and corresponds as well to body-rhythms of weeping and ecstasy, which proceed through fits of variating intensities. Life-rattle, the faster agressive inversion of the death-rattle (listen to here), the convex to its concave. More specifically, the songs make me lift and shake my hands in the air like rattles in a way that seems kind of tarantellic and pentecostal. And is he screaming in tongues? Maybe this is black metal pentecost. Will keep eyes peeled for tongues of fire. Note a proportional absence of gothic tropes, white Helvetica font, and what it means to write "Liturgy" in it (as opposed to this). I imagine white Cistercian or Carthusian robes. A liturgy without priests, saying the psalms alone at 4 am on a cold mo(u)rning.

Reclipse: Hunter Hunt-Hendrix comments on the cover: "The album art is supposed to represent transcendence, which for us means an ecstatic encounter with the present; a violent, apocalyptic, cosmic joy. And a shattering of ego. But then there's also a certain impossibility of that encounter, like a withdrawing horizon" (Stosuy interview). The beauty of it is that it the light is at once being eclipsed and re-revealed, i.e. reclipsed, something both and neither and neither both nor neither. Or a solar flare on the black sun? In which case an intensity of nigredo, not the beginning of the cauda pavonis (note rose tint though) signaling the imminence of the dawning of albedo, but an alchemist-consoling indication that blackening is well underway.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Severed Hand: Commentary as Ecstasy (another abstract)

“Immediately the fingers of a man’s hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace, opposite the lampstand: and the king saw the hand as it wrote”—Daniel 5:5

“Mais qu’il euvre des mains iteus: / Non pas des main esperiteus, / Mais des mains dou cors proprement, / Senz metre i double entendement.” [But he should work with hands like this, not with spiritual hands, but with actual bodily hands, without putting a double meaning on them]—Roman de la Rose, lines 11479-82

“La représentation de ces deux mains, corporelle et spirituelle, indispensable à l’intelligence du texte, a dû ètre figure dan le ms. original, autrement iteus n’aurait pas de sens.”—Ernest Langlois, note to the above lines

“The manicule is evidently the only sign that . . . is at once icon, index, and symbol” –William H. Sherman, Used Books: Marking Readers in Renaissance England.

The manicule—a marginal representation of a hand indicating the presence of special significance—constitutes a kind of originary conjunction of writing, deixis, and commentary. As sign of its act and act of its sign, the manicule is intelligible as the pure potentiality of commentary, commentary ‘itself’ before and beyond any specific content or determination. This potentiality is paradoxically grounded in the voidal aura that surrounds it, an aura whose focal point is the necessarily detached state of the indexical hand. Just as “the face is produced only when the head ceases to be a part of the body” (Deleuze & Guattari), so the hand becomes sign via its phenomenal separation from the body, a separation that the manicule typically materializes into a literal severing. Focusing on this negative attribute of the manicule, comparable to the essential negativity of deixis as glossed by Hegel (when we say this, a sign whose significance is wholly constituted by the contextual instance of its own event, what is said is in fact a not-this, a universal which annuls the singularity of what is meant), my presentation will argue for the importance and value of commentary as the production of the mutual exposure of text and world to the negativity of something hopelessly beyond or outside them: emptiness, void, absence, nothing, space, non-meaning . . . Commentary situates, nourishes, cares for, nests its text, but only by also cutting it open to something unknowable. I am interested then in commentary’s ecstatic capacity, the moment of the comment as an enraptured manual labor. The sense of this might be illustrated by picturing Bataille’s definition of ecstasy as a manicule in the void: “THE OBJECT OF ECSTASY IS THE ABSENCE OF AN OUTSIDE ANSWER. THE INEXPLICABLE PRESENCE OF MAN IS THE ANSWER THE WILL GIVES ITSELF, SUSPENDED IN THE VOID OF UNKNOWABLE NIGHT.”

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Post-Abysmal Roundtable Abstract: Getting Anagogic


What miracle is happening in your mouth?
Instead of words, discoveries flow out
from the ripe flesh, astonished to be free.

Dare to say what “apple” truly is.
This sweetness that feels thick, dark, dense at first;
then, exquisitely lifted in your taste,

grows clarified, awake, luminous,
double-meaninged, sunny, earthy, real—:
Oh knowledge, pleasure—inexhaustible.
—Rilke, Sonnets to Orpheus

The anagogic sense is totally post-abysmal by virtue of being an experience of significance as palpably crossing the gap between word and thing, as fulfilling signification by overcoming signifying as such. Being the sense that proverbially gives a foretaste (praegustus) of heaven, anagogy fuses in principle the sensuous and the intellectual, the temporal and the eternal, the immanent and the transcendant. It is accordingly conceived in the medieval period as the mystical sense of textual understanding, that “which perfects through spiritual ecstasies and sweet perceptions of wisdom” (Bonaventure) and provides “the foreseeing of hoped-for rewards” (Richard of St. Victor). Anagogy is thus defined by a simultaneously double movement, a going at once beyond and more deeply within the terms of the present. This double movement is intelligible, as Henri de Lubac explains, as anagogy’s eternalizing trajectory, its entering into the place that holds everything, its finding of the something that includes what searches for it: “[anagogy] forms the total and definitive sense. It sees, in the eternal, the fusion of mystery and mysticism. Alternatively, the eschatological reality attained by anagogy is the eternal reality in which every other has its consummation.” Crucially, the mode, the substance, the how of anagogy is pleasure, the savoring of the sense itself, which is (typically) sweet, fragrant, brilliant, and perfectly subjective is an absolutely objective way: “Every person . . . is free to pursue the thought and experiences, however sublime and exquisite, that are his by special insight, on the meaning of the Bridegroom’s ointments” (Bernard of Clairvaux). The anagogic sense is deeply positive, good, a flavor from a wonderfully/terribly absolute perspective that precludes the possibility of not saying yes to it, of not tasting it for yourself. Who does not enjoy actually sensing the inevitability of her utmost bliss? Anagogy idealizes the real, preempts the abyss.

So the question I will pursue is: Where is the anagogic sense now? Where has it gone? Nowhere. The anagogic sense is always present. Every hermeneutic realizes some form of non-dualistic psycho-sensual fulfillment. Every thought and interpretation revolves around a taste for something immanent to itself. The issue is: what? In dialogue with medieval and modern authors (Rilke, Richard Rolle, Bachelard, Jacopone da Todi, Wittgenstein, Julian of Norwich, Agamben, Ibn Arabi), my paper will venture into the potentiality of this what beyond its traditional theological determination.

Cf. Sympathy's Anagogic Tyranny!