Monday, September 3, 2012

On the Edge of Glory: Constellations of Being

"Before we kiss the other side, tonight, we are finally alive... dancing in the flames. I'm hanging on a moment...
I'm on the edge, with you, with you, with you..."

Lady Gaga, the Edge of Glory


This blog post is an expansion on a thought which had a note in an unpublished piece of mine on Queer Christian theology and in a Facebook entry where I wrote the following over the loss of a meeting house where I shared many a happy night:

"Amidst the Turbulent Noise of so many Comings-and-Goings, there are rare Arrivals: Little Glories which call out 'for Me have things come-to-be, for This have we struggled,' and after that instance are never seen again; the loss is real. 'Other things, other blessings, other glories...But never that. Never in all worlds, that.' --- And so we rejoiced and gave thanks for Critter Den. Now we begin to mark the Coming of something new: not a Void but an Absence."


1. Being, An Exception

"A dark world aches for a splash in the sun"
Young the Giant, Cough Syrup

Little Glories create things --- in and of themselves.

This post will premise itself on an ontology of change. So called process theologians and philosophers in Europe whose thought traces back to Ovid affirm that Creation is as much a verb as a noun. At times the universe is considered a monad and the expression of a pantheistic entity, but whether or not there is any cohesive whole, things in the universe are in a perpetual state of change. Thus we might say they travel but never arrive, become but never are.

Thus a significant distinction would be between these thinkers of perpetual charge and what is often presented as a sort of antithesis in thinkers of being (or coming to be); Aristotle as one of the most prominent. These beings may have existed for all time, from outside the system of the universe, or are emergent from it, but whether or not they have a clear genesis things in the universe perpetuate a state of being despite changes to appearance or qualities.

Following a basic dialectic, I will propose that granted a general root in the first class of thinkers, we might find points at which a thing which is perpetually changing may appear to and may actually be something static. In the great flow of existence, the turbor (as Ovid calls it), little crusty bits may hold on and assert themselves as distinct and with a self-cohesion, as important, as glorious.

Here I work off some of imagry from the work of Manuel de Landa and his Thousand Years of Nonlinear History--- itself a kind of extension of Deleuzian plateaus or “haeccieties", the momentary configuration of the flux of things in a theoretically frozen moment of time, “defined by a relation of movement and rest, speed and slowness, by a combination of atoms, an emission of particles." The distinction I make is to emphasize these moments as entering into a whole new mode and model of existence, more akin to being than becoming, while it persists in this state. At this moment then and from this perspective, it is conceivable to see being as a kind of life and becoming as death.

However from the vitality of perpetual becoming, these temporary exceptions into a state of being may be like a static dead period, or hibernation. As Lewis puts it in Out of the Silent Planet, "little collections of the low floating in the high." I would stress that neither is an escape from the system, both are in the middle, but like siblings, these two fight to define themselves from one another and think life the essence of their mode of existence. And since we premised ourselves on an ontology of change, such extended events of being would constitute the exception to the rule, one that will be undermined and overmined by the force of the turbor. Within this speculated flash of light, of difference, which sets the flow off as background, there are some significant implications which might be explored.


2. Glory, An Arrival

"These clouds we're seeing, they're explosions in the sky"
Placebo, Sleeping with Ghosts

Little Glories create Teleologies --- in and of themselves.

As noted in the posts on Trans-Guerrilla Warfare and Deleuzian State Apparatuses, when things form into self-perpetuating systems, they employ and enforce their own codex of signification which operates throughout bodily interactions to orient certain kinds of relations. This code designates kinds of attractions and divisions, propping up certain modes of relating and policing others. Thus roads may be carved out, directions given, fates designed.

Taking a different tune on this process than in prior posts, I will here note that from the position of such beings, this process may be said to bring about a special order and direction to the relative chaos. Whether or not the flow has a collective direction, within the gravity of such beings, a kind of progress is established by which things are referenced as behind and others ahead. Making things into itself, this being enforces a logic of "coming to be."

Again, within such networks of being, this coming-to-be will then form certain marked points to serve as grounded centers and exterior frames by which other things will be judged. The result is a series of constellations of things, times, and places having come to a point -- having arrived at a special kind of being which gives direction and force to the others. These events, explosions, eruptions, which light the skies and draw things into their orbits, I call glories.

The skies are littered with stars beyond number and beyond our ability to know. On this point I stress that there are glories which exist not only beyond the human, but which we would never see even if they are right before our eyes. Some are too small, some too large, most too different for us to register or make sense of in relation to our own small little sense of glory. The universe (and possibly more) retreat from us and hold private consul. Where the stars whisper to one another, I am left in the dark. Thus the field may be so full of lights as to be blinding, but with these eyes I will only ever see pockets of brightness in the night sky.

By invoking glory, I mean to assert that each thing asserts a kind of goodness, beauty, and truth. They emanate from it with the light that I have suggested. By these they order their relations. Within this, each thing presents its own manner of dignity and value for itself & those it excludes from the self in respective relations.



3. Little, A Limit

"I call it tiny ontology, precisely because it out not demand a treatise or a tome... An alternative metaphor to the two-dimensional plat of flat ontology is that of spacelessness, of one-dimensionality... the infinite density of a dot... the point of tiny ontology"
Ian Bogost, Alien Phenomenology

Little Glories create Ends --- in and of themselves.

Where the thing has more force, it may regard itself as the primary glory, where it is in the gravity of other forces it may consider itself a servant. In this way and for this reason I distinguish "little glories" from "the greater glory" which would be a completely new assertion of principle Thing or set of Things which exhibit the most powerful of all relations and may be considered the Whole of which all things form (such as in pantheism or monism) or an Other (which may exist in any degree of alienation with other things).

In so distinguishing, I clarify that Little Glories (as opposed to being call Lesser Glories) may be considered without reference to any over or under arching Foundation or Ideal. These little things may be experience and observed, even reasoned to degrees. The triumph and tragedy of these glories is that they are limited -- they can neither know nor subjugate a universal order, or grab it for themselves if it exists. They might trace or feel the presence of greater things, but these things may likewise may consider themselves lesser to others still or else simply a little bigger.

I think of gravity and gravity wells --- as I throw a ball up into the air. There is a push up and fall down, but for a moment when the force of acceleration in either direction is reduced to 0, there is a kind of glory where in might forget either the force of my arm or else the pull of the earth. Yet the Earth too is a ball thrown around the sun, the sun around a galaxy's super-black hole, and this around constellation of galaxies and these around... our knowledge and speculation eventually fails and shows us its limits. We dig smaller, particles, atoms, quarks, God particles, energy and to the same effect. High and low we throw our bouncy ball and for a long time yet we may see the summit of its arch and feel the strike of its return.

In this way, my consideration of a Thousand Little Glories is not aimed at asserting a comprehensive ontological scheme or methodology, no foundations, principles or models and no final limits or ideals. From its own middling perspective, perhaps even the dignity of these stars may be only be a flash in the pan or explosion in the sky, but as a poet and a lover of wisdom (not its despot), I would hope the light of such a try may be in its own respect --- a little glorious.


1 comment:

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