Deconstruction Doesn’t Say That Religion and Atheism Is The Same

As Kenneth Goldsmith seemed to believe after listening to an interview with Derrida on religion (if you want to hear it, go on to youtube and type in “Derrida on religion”. Goldsmith’s claim is to be found on itunes in the avant-garde series from ubuweb.

Goldsmith jumps fast forward to his conclusion through a couple of clips from Derrida’s interview. It’s through an argument on semiotic unsureness and witgensteinian viewpoints that this so called resume of Derrida’s statements can be made. But this relativism has it’s roots in misunderstandings from the very beginning of Derrida’s publication of his texts in the 60’s. One is led to believe that deconstruction is all about nonsense: everything can mean everything. And even though Derrida himself sometimes lived up to such a surrealism through the playfullness of his texts, one can not squeeze out such a cliche of relativism from this clear and reasonable interview. What then is the point of the trace if there is nothing to search for?

Derrida’s claim as I see it was rather this: one can never be certain of weather one is calling upon the name of God while praying, or if you simply is mentionig it, and that’s how pure faith accualy is very close to pure atheism.

The Possibility of Criticism Under the Existing Conditions

Now and then I remember a debate about the possibilities for an independent critical avant-garde literature in our society because of the last words from one of the debaters: »If there is anyone out there (I know there is some) who wants to maintain a critical approach to his project, let’s hope this claim is not 100 pro cent true: if you let them (his opponent, my remark) publish you, the critical potential for your literature will be gone. For ever.

This has made me wonder weather I’m able to write critical literature that can maintain such a criticism under the existing conditions, or if, as Eric Hobsbawm puts it: »It is not surprising that in the 1950s, in the heartland of consumer democracy, the leading school of painters abdicated before image-makers so much more powerful than old-fashioned art. ‘Pop art’ (Warhol, Lichtenstein, Rauschenberg, Oldenburg), spent its time reproducing, with as much accuracy and insensitivity as possible, the visual trappings of American commercialism: soup cans, flags, Coca-Cola bottles, Marilyn Monroe.«

If religious sects are to religion what the avant-garde is to the spectacle, the difference between them is that the latter implodes into the mainstream dullness of commercial art and entertainment, while sects are able to maintain a resistance in a political-religious dominated society.

The Death and Resurrection of the Avant-garde

true detective hope

In 2001 Will Self declared the avant garde long gone and dead with the suicide of Guy Debord in 1994, but it’s not as easy as it sounds. Considering the fact that he refer to how the mainstream media has described the avant-garde, Will himSelf (sorry, I couldn’t help for putting a big S into that word) obviously doesn’t want us to treat it the same way (Will Self wrote this article in New Statesman). The difference between this and the superficial journalism is that for the latter the avant-garde remains dead. The true avant-garde goes beyond a question of life and death, it doesn’t ask »To be or not to be,« but knows deep inside themselves that survival is always the attitude one goes towards death with, weather it’s the death of a particular avant-garde group or a personal friend. The spiritual environment we live in can not be separated from the spectacle, but both of them requires an attitude of action, of life, of beyond the simple question of life and death that the passive acceptance of mass media offers.

Rust Cole offers a extreme nihilism that calls for action in matters of humanity and empathy with the living being. Fortunately he comes up with brighter thoughts later on (look at picture above).

true detective suicide

On the Nature of Situation Construction

One of the things that the situation construction makes clear is the responsibility of the humanistic value in the age of the spectacle. This derives from and into kantian imperatives. One of them is this: However beautiful a person is, I have to accept that I can not have a relation to this person, and this would have been applying to an infinite number of fellows even if it meant that one could never have a relationship to anybody.

critiqueseparation 2


But the very paradox that this reveals, is that an inhuman condition like the one described, which seem to be our condition according to the appearance of the spectacle, shows that human relations is necessary. Those who understand that the following quote from a poem emphasizes the completed separation as described in The Society of the Spectacle, those are also capable of understanding my project:

If I write NUDE, what do you see? NAKED.
Do you fold it or censor yourself?
NAKED. Are you satisfied or do you want me to write more
words, so you know what to think? Naked woman, beautiful,
long, wavy hair, bruised, crying. Bare breasts,
hanging over you, milk burst. Do you think, do you feel? Oh, baby.
My child, confuses the words you? Nude legs,
thighs. Confuses the short skirts you?

From Linda Therese K. Utstøl and Unnveig Aas: «Mannen er vakker fra livet og opp» (the quote is translated by me, in english the title would been something like »The Man Is Beautiful from the Waist and Up«)

Global Warming

Global warming as spectacular derivation is even regarded an infirmity more than a conspiracy necessary for a changed mentality. Those who write for the newspapers and magazines of our time are not concealing their intelligence: what we see is all they’ve got. They don’t really care for an implementation of the totality the global warming requiers, all that means something is the posing of pseudo-integraty in lifestile alternatives. But like a smoker whoms unability to quit gives him a becoming of-self esteem, granting herself more potential than she might would have considering strength, health, happiness and so on, the journalists of the romantic-apocalyptic environment era and of the society of the spectacle, which more or less has been whirling into one another, needs this discourse to make even less change than required, because a spiritual environments day of apocalypse is the only secular force with a power of real change.

Will Self on Guy Debord

I sholdn’t go on and say something as simple as »Here you go!« or »Check this out!« for the same reasons that Guy Debord had his reservations in his late 80’s comments to The Society of the Spectacle:

These comments are sure to be welcomed by fifty or sixty people; a large number given the times in which we live and the gravity of the matters under discussion. But then, of course, in some circles I am considered to be an authority. It must also be borne in mind that a good half of this interested elite will consist of people who devote themselves to maintaining the spectacular system of domination, and the other half of people who persist in doing quite the opposite. Having, then, to take account of readers who are both attentive and diversely influential, I obviously cannot speak with complete freedom. Above all, I must take care not to give too much information to just anybody.

Anyway if you are devoted to anything that goes beyond the constructed, and still capable of knowing that you can’t get there just like that, you should read Will Self’s article in The Guardian on Guy Debord or listen to the podcast where he discusses Debord’s thoughts with several people, including an audience. Take specially into account what’s been said in the very last part of the podcast, where questions of the domination of the spectacle as it is described by Debord, costitutes the whole of the world, or only the West and the developed economies, the center or both that and the margins and so on. A quote like: »There’s no doubt that Al-Qaida is spectacular, but they seem to view things a little different then we are, don’t they?» (sic) says it all (as if »it all« could be said).

Secularization and Idealism

Kaja Schjerven Mollerin writes about the intended lack of a manifesto (that’s not the word she uses, but I don’t have her text in front of me) in the currant issue of The Window, one of the norwegian magazines which ignored a text I sent them last month. However it’s interesting to read the seemingly oulipo-inspired way she uses words by look them up in a dictionary and put a couple of meanings into the signifier, and how this leads to an idealism for a secularized world. I don’t mind giving elaborated details of any infinite circles of universalism and ideality in i.e. geometry, or to put up puns with windows, clarity and secularization to prove any point here, but allows George Lukács to have the last word in this post:

»Then, suddenly, the God-forsakenness of the world reveals itself as a lack of substance, as an irrational mixture of density and permeability. What previously seemed to be very solid crumbles like dry clay at the first contact with a man possessed by a demon, and the empty transparence behind which attractive landscapes were previously to be seen is suddenly transformed into a glass wall against which men beat in vain, like bees against a window, incapable of breaking through, incapable of understanding that the way is barred.«
(The Theory of the Novel)