“Was not their mistake once more bred of the life of slavery that they had been living?—a life which was always looking upon everything, except mankind, animate and inanimate—‘nature,’ as people used to call it—as one thing, and mankind as another, it was natural to people thinking in this way, that they should try to make ‘nature’ their slave, since they thought ‘nature’ was something outside them” — William Morris

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Ethical Underminers, Political Overminers

 Isn't it also the case that the very terms we use—“ethics” and “politics”—tend to map onto the undermining and overmining views, respectively? 

Ethics seems to want to reduce the field of action to one-on-one encounters between beings. 

Politics says that one-on-one encounters are never as significant as the world (of economic, class, moral and so on relations) in which they take place.

These two ways of talking form what Adorno, talking about something else, would have called two halves of a torn whole, which nonetheless don't add up together. In other words, some nice compromise “between” the two is impossible. (With respect to my integral ecology friends.)

Aren't we then hobbled when it comes to issues that affect society as a whole—nay the biosphere as a whole—yet affect us all individually (I have mercury in my blood and ultraviolet rays affect me unusually strongly)?

Would OOO be able to recast ethics and politics so that it was no longer a performance of intelligence in either domain to undermine or overmine?

1 comment:

isaaclinder said...

Not directly related to this post, but I was listening to the Early Lit Theory class in which you discuss La Monte Young today, and it reminded me of a recent aesthetic event from which we may be able to learn something about this 'asymmetrical' era we seem to be involved in. Another Tim (Hecker) recently submitted a guest podcast to XLR8R (a contemporary electronic music publication) consisting of Young & Zazeela's 1969 Black Record, stretched to 10 hours in length. I haven't had the chance to sit with this piece yet, but wanted to send it your way as the thought of it seemed to dovetail nicely with the Dreamhouse listening you conducted at the end of class. Just exiting the Romantic era, artists are still very much engaged with pursuing the experience of 'freed' nonhuman objects (Pollock's brush, La Monte's polished 60hz electrical hum, etc.), though the objects do not dissolve into some ahistorical miasma, acting instead as whorls through which the reader is whiplashed into some rethought period of history, commentary or speculative footnoting occur, and the nonhuman objects stand in equal and asymmetrical proportion to the histories artists have fabricated them into. No longer is art characterized as a disproportion between the experience of the author and the perceiver but a disproportion as well between the human and nonhuman (perhaps a division that isn't fully fleshed out) aspects of the work at all levels?

My line of thinking is very fuzzy as I've just plopped down from work to write this, but I'd love to hear your thoughts on the piece, maybe it's just an artifact of remixological whimsy.

The mix can be found here: http://www.xlr8r.com/features/2011/07/listen-tim-heckers-exclusive-mix