Friday, July 13, 2007

I Swear

Once again, there is no reason to say that the variables are merely situational, and that the statement remains constant in principle. Not only are there as many statements as there are effectuations, but all of the statements are present in the effectuation of one among them, so that the line of variation is virtual, in other words, real without being actual, and consequently continuous regardless of the leaps the statement makes...there is a constant tendency to seek a 'reduction'...Placing in variation allows us to avoid these dangers, because it builds a continuum or medium without beginning or end"(Deleuze and Guattari,"A Thousand Plateaus", 94).

What happens when we view not just language but our thoughts and our lives as not constants but constant variables? In this scenario, there are lines of possibility flowing from the one actual. We are always aware that beneath the actual lies the endless possibilities of the virtual. This allows a new way to view the world, and our choices. Instead of a loss maybe it's just an awareness of possibilities. This is similar to what Austin gets at. Language is performance. Even as we swear in one way, all the other ways to swear are inherent in that one utterance.

Relooking my own life....the actual: I am a bisexual woman. I am in a monogamous heterosexual marriage. I have three children through this marriage. Yet I still identify myself as bisexual. The actual does not replace the virtual. Behind my marriage trails the threads of the possibilities. The choice I made does not entail necessarily a loss but a different set of actuals. The other actuals are still there. They are always present like a friendly specter haunting the actual of my life. There is no one thing to reduce to. There is no one thing to loose. What could be is always here. It is there when I see a beautiful woman and imagine what her skin would feel like beneath my hand.

13 comments:

John B-R said...

There's a line in an old Little Feat song, "Yew Nork, New York, You gotta choose one" which I always have interpreted to mean that some choices preclude others. In your case of course I have no idea what might preclude what, or if anything would preclude anything. I just know that in my case it means I'm faithful to Kathy no matter who or what. I'd add that in my case, it's a small price to pay.

Ginger said...

I don't think that the virtual is intruding upon the actual. Nor do I think that what I wrote indicates I would cheat on my husband. But I am bisexual, and that means there is a part of my sexuality that is not explored any longer. I think that acknowledging this has less to do with regret and more to do with openness. So for example, I didn't just walk into hetrosexuality blindly. I made a conscious choice. Not something I think many people make.

I'd hate for people to think this about regrets in my marriage. It's not. And it's not intended to be read that way. And I also think that for some people monogmay is too big a price to pay, and I"m not going to knock that either...we all do what we have to.

John B-R said...

Ginger, I didn't think you were talking about regrets or anything. I just thought you told your story, or a bit of it, the least I can to is tell my story, or at least a bit of it. And I thought I saw a commonality: we both have to say no to some things.

Ginger said...

Right, and I guess what excited me about Deleuze is that it offered a way of seeing that no not as a loss.

I just would hate for anyone to see in my post any commentary on my love for H. He is my whole world in many ways, and I have never once regreted the actual I choice.

John B-R said...

If there is no loss what's the point of choice? Or "free will"?

Ernesto said...

--which reminds me: i would have taken a pic of it with my cameraphone but it died recently so i couldn't... but now that England has gone "smoke-free", pharmaceuticals are cashing on nicotine patches and other "aids" to quit smoking. So i saw this advert in a bus stop in central London, that said in small letters: "requires free will".

I thought that was very amusing.

Ginger said...

You know I don't think free will has to be connected with loss. It's an extremely negative way to view the world I think and I wonder what would happen if we didn't see things that way. Call my Pollyanna...

Anyway, the smoking is a funny example. When I quit smoking, everyday I said to myself "I can have a cigarette anytime I want to." It was like in the actual, I was smoke free but the virtual had the possibility of being a smoker.

John B-R said...

Freewill, if there is any, doesn't have to be connected with loss. But often it is. If I choose x, I don't get to choose y (I first typed "why", which is interesting, but leads in a whole other direction).

The only thing I remember about the movie Pollyanna is the preacher shouting DEATH COMES UNEXPECTEDLY ... oh, and some sparkling crystals ...

Actually, I don't know whether I think"believing in" loss is positive or negative. But I've just found out that thing on my face is indeed "abnormal", which can only mean one thing ... So how not think about loss when I'm facing one degree or another of it?

But even without that, I think there's a reason the real is real and the virtual is virtual. One OED definition of virtual:

Not physically existing as such but made by software to appear to do so from the point of view of the program or the user.

I take this to mean the real is more real than the virtual. The real may exist without us. The virtual does not. Therefore they are not equal. Therefore any aspect of our lives that remains virtual is in fact lost.

Actually I do know whether I think "believing in loss" is positive or negative. I think it's positive. It hurts, but w/out loss, life would lack the intense feeling it has. For me. At least.

Ginger said...

John,
First I am very sorry about the "abnormal" reading. Please, please keep us updated.

I really hated the terms I wrote in earlier. I don't like to think about things in negative and positive. But again loss...I don't know John, and I'm not sure I am able or willing to dicuss that right now.

As for the virtual and the actual. The virtual for Deleuze is the only real thing there is. He's not using virtual in the sense of the OED. I'm reading more about that and I will come back to it later. But i think that even scifi writers who play with the concept of virtual reality do it in order to challenge our notions of real vs. fake, or unreal. I'm not sure what the real is. I suspect it exists but I am limited by my own body and my own body which egocentric or not is how I experience the world. I can be open to other's experience but I can never LIVE their experience.

Hugs

John B-R said...

Ginger, according to Thomas Metzinger's *Being No One* (neurophilosophy), all internal states of consciousness are simulations based on what the mind does with sensory inputs. The simulation that is ALWAYS accompanied by our experience of having a body is what he calls World Zero (by the way, that's what my recent chapbook is titled ...). World Zero is the simulation we tend to consider to have a higher degree of importance vis-a-vis our survival than the simulations not accompanied by body-awareness, e.g. fantasies. In other words, we had better get out of the way of the car hurtling at us in the World Zero simulation than in any other.

Of course, since we're inside our heads, we can't PROVE than any of our simulations are real. And in some sense we have to take on faith a world beyond our senses. This world-beyond-our-senses is virtual, but only to us. When you write "The virtual for Deleuze is the only real thing there is" - I think he means what I mean by my previous sentence.

I think he also means that we live in such a mediated world that telling the real from the fake is a problem. Baudrillard talks along the same lines.

But does this mean the world isn't real? I don't think so. At least, I would bet that it's real, that it's not dependent on me for its existence. If it isn't real, why should I care whether folks in Darfur starve, or whether Palestinian children are bulldozed by Israeli tanks? Those folks wouldn't exist, they would only be my mental simulations.

But my wager is that they are real, and that an ethics is necessary that recognizes the reality, and the subjectivity, of others.

I won't ask you to discuss loss. I will just say that for me, given *my* wager, how could I not "believe in" loss?

And re: my own mortality (my "abnormal" biopsy), I'll be sure to keep all my friends, of whom you are certainly one, posted.

Ginger said...

Of course I think there is a world outside me but my knowledge of that world is very limited by my body. That is what I mean.

For Deleuze the virtul is very real, I think. The actual is what we know but the virtual encapsulates all that we don't know and all that encapsulates others. So the virtual for Deleuze would be bulldozed houses and starving children.

I think that postmodernists and social constructivists get a bad rap on this. Just because I think that the social creates the worlds we know doesn'tmean that this negates real and physical human pain.

And John, on loss...I don't know how to answer this. My friends, one in particular, are going through many losses right now. So it's not that I think they don't exist...

John B-R said...

Well, what Deleuze and you means by the virtual is what I mean by the real, then. And I don't think it matters much that what I know is a social and biological construct, which of course it is (I agree about the bad rap). It's still real (or virtual), it's out there and it hurts. As long as: "the virtual for Deleuze would be bulldozed houses and starving children", then hell, I don't care what one calls it. I'm sorry to hear about your friends and their suffering. I know you think they exist. Otherwise this wouldn't be important to you. I think all we are doing here is clarifying terms, making sure we understand each other.

Ginger said...

I agree that it really is one the one in the same. What I like about Deleuze is his attempt to hammer out a way to understand the "real" without reducing it to one thing.

And I'm sorry for all my friends right now. It's very painful for them and it is for me as well. Watching and feeling so helpless to do anything is hard for me.