Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Tinned chunks - an introduction to the rejection of everything through moments in the description of deep opposition (part 4 in an extended series)

Say okay, I have had enough, what else can you show me?

There are perhaps three broad fields of meaning within the proposition, Live without dead time. These have different significances, which I list in descending order of plausibility:

1. To live exuberantly or fully. That is to say, live productively. That is to say, live intentionally. That is to say, live ideologically. That is to say, live agitatedly. That is to say, life must be reduced to a set of subjectively conjured precepts.

2. To live in the present. To live severed from the accumulated momentum of past forms. To dictate from the present to the past. To live as if, death were not 'the condition of life.' To refuse the counsel of elders.

3. The meaning lies in its meaninglessness. It is a rhetorical device to galvanise an immediate reaction which has no programmatic significance. In the moment, it is an imperative, a command, to melt before the flow of events - to suspend reservations. After the events have passed, there is an air of mystery.

Of these three fields of meaning, the first two are of little interest. They belong to the left-subjectivist imaginary where fantasies of self-assertion (oedipal, bourgeois) and of weightlessness are presented in a political register. In both, the exhortative form of the statement asserts the imminent prospect of overcoming objective constraints and also encourages the generalising of the immediate form of subjectivity on the principle that a statement or sentiment becomes truer according to the numbers repeating it.

Politically, 'live without dead time' when considered as a rephrasing of 'seize the day' is not only as flimsy as any other self-help slogan, it also obscures the hidden imperatives that are surreptitiously extracted from the principles of authenticity - i.e. if we think we have succeeded in living without dead time, then we also imagine we have demonstrated the possibility of subjectively exceeding the limits of our subjectivity (thus the problem of alienation is set at the level of our efforts at building consciousness and/or organisation).

The third field, where meaning is struck from and sucked back into meaninglessness is, of the three, by far the most profound... there is, as in the best advertising slogans, a perpetual slippage between the constituent terms, a metallic, sword-like, clashing between values. Thus, a meaningless slogan becomes a work of 'meaning in progress'. No doubt this third meaning, which is also first order meaninglessness, conforms to the contents of Freud's third casket:
The free choice between the three sisters is, properly speaking, no free choice, for it must necessarily fall on the third if every kind of evil is not to come about [...] The fairest and best of women, who has taken the place of the Death-goddess, has kept certain characteristics that border on the uncanny, so that from them we have been able to guess at what lies beneath.
We must choose the third form of 'opposition' as this is the casket of lead, or more poetically, the crock 'o shite, which is also a form of reconciliation with, or acceptance of, the world. We must choose that which is also a relinquishment, we must let go of that which is also a seizing hold of. Where we forego the 'loud' and 'obvious', the self-evident silver and gold aspects of revolt, and where we do not 'flatter' ourselves with the supposed power and capacity of our own subjectivity, it seems we are enabled to evade the traps, dead-ends and delusions of activism. 

The casket of lead, draws us to the realisation that it is possible to oppose the world as it is without being obliged to suspend critical awareness of one's own subjection and containment, and without having to engage in spurious 'solidarity' where the alibi of an identifiably shared enemy is always to hand.
On these terms, 'deep opposition' is another form of reconciliation. It contrasts with the immediately given form of reconciliation belonging to facile opposition. The latter is reconciled with the given form of subjective capacity, it immediately opposes the world on the basis of its acceptance of what it assumes are its historically granted capacities. It responds positively to the world's command to 'live without dead time' (the ideology of capital's 'perpetual revolutionising of the means of production', its moving contradiction by which necessary labour time is reduced before the increase in superfluous labour time) and thus embody the endless malleability of labour, living out the essentialised adaptability of human beings. 

Facile opposition is driven on by the imperative of world-changing activity which it must give frenetic form to, and which, as it accumulates cues, triggers, stimuli which it cannot refuse, or stand back from.

By contrast, and absurdly, deep opposition is reconciliation with the, or rather a, Goddess of Death. Because it is reconciled with the Goddess, it is thrown into a state of deeply opposing its conditions. It finds itself in opposition via its refusal of refusal, not that this ever arrives at a formulation of refusal. It finds itself miscast in the role of inadvertent opposition, opposition by accident, which it accesses via its self-conflicted response to protest movements, direct action, and militancy.

Deep opposition finds not just futility in the given forms of facile opposition but a blasphemous error committed against the Goddess. From the position of deep opposition, it is an error to assume that one might decide, or assert, a life without dead time unless one were also proposing a ritualised immortality of revolt, a rite where, as it were, the leopards have long since been incorporated - and where 'without' implies 'outside of' rather 'negation of' death (the deathless visage of Che).

Facile opposition's vitalist revolt succeeds as a depthless variant of the given world's ur-slogan from which every maxim, jingle and pithy remark must be drawn. Then, perhaps we should land none too neatly at the end of this with yet another would-be slogan: deep opposition must move through the world, plummeting through the clouds, as if bound to a lead casket.  

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