Tag Archives: the subject

The Being of Art

The same small handfull of themes and questions drive pretty much the entire content of this blog. While I have noticed that my ramblings on the theory of art have been by far the least read, I also have come to feel that they are the ones in which I have been able to express my concerns most clearly. Of course, even there, I find myself in a strangely paradoxical position.

I push the idea of art as pure surface. The apprehension of art is the apprehension of the self in apprehension. It’s a reflex. Art is art only in as much as it is perceived, and even then perceived in a fashion which allows it to function as art. Art sits, then, in a fundamental nothingness. Art is empty. The set of objects which we determine as art is necessarily an empty set. For art itself is not an object, but an object in perception perceived in such a way that art is brought into being.

I have spoken before that objects in perception are undoubtably objects. Having only our perceptions, all that we require for secure knowledge about objects is there continued coherent presentation within our perceptions. Art, however, does not present continually coherently, but flashes out and disappears from the object perceived. Art is an only occasionally present quality of objects. Art instead dwells in a kind of sympathetic perception towards art, not in the objects themselves.

I spoke previously of aesthetic arrest, of moments when the world perceives fails to align with our expectations so dramatically that it freezes us in perception. The artist, I then propose manipulates formal effects to produce such a freezing. The artist is the artist in act of producing an aesthetic reaction. The formal world produces, through chance formal relations, the necessary conditions for aesthetic arrest, the artist, recognizing those relations, skillfully manipulates them to produce the same result. Thus, the progression of art through human history: certain formal effects become institutionalized in the conception of art and over time saturate the societal expectation of art. Art is that which contains these particular elements.

For example, the Neoclassical Movement which dominated the French School prior to the emergence of Realism, Impressionism and the grand proliferation of movements which emerged during the end of the nineteenth century. Art was recognized as art only as long as it possessed the formal characteristics of Neoclassicism, spawning the Salon de Refusés. Certain artists began to feel that the formal elements of Neoclassicism so saturated the idea of art that they no longer necessarily produced the aesthetic reaction which truly elevates mere created form to art in the fullness of its meaning. The transformation of art through time marks the artists’ continual drive towards novelty.

The artist, purely devoted to art, seeks the queer, as previously discussed to turn perception back upon itself, hence art in the twentieth century’s continual obsession with Art History. Art twisted back into the history of its own ephemera in the endeavor to break the whole of its history back apart into moments of perception. What is Suprematism if not an attack on the idea of painting as art itself? The same can be said of Dadaism and sculpture. James Joyce is a novelist in as much as his novels are entirely unlike what preceded them, but reliant upon such precedents to function. The writing of Gertrude Stein is attacks the fundamentals of writing, but relies upon them at the same time.

So why my interest in art here? I am seeking to carve out realms of experience which are entirely related to the Subject, and reliant upon the Subject as Subject. Art seems to be the perfect example for discussing such realms. The being of art, I suggest, is particularly a kind of being in art. The Subject does not encounter art as art, but produces a mode of being in art through the apprehension of art in moments of aesthetic arrest. Art is undoubtably a made thing, it is tied back to the formal world, and yet the qualities which render it art are entirely distinct from the formal. The formal produces the necessary preconditions, but without the apprehension of the sympathetic Subject, the formal cannot produce art in the fullness of its meaning, merely the possibility of its being. The Being of Art is the The Being of the Subject in Art.

I believe that such realms of being, such as Being in Art, are vital to the understanding of the Subject and its relation to the world.

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Continuing Toward a New Ontology

As should be obvious by this point, I have been having a great deal of difficulty with the ongoing Ontology project. Mallory has repeatedly stressed to me a need to move past the fine details and begin working out the bigger picture, which I am now endeavoring to do.

So, allow me to briefly sum up the argument so far. The biggest feature of this project has been the assertion that the Subject is total and indivisible. It cannot be broken into its component features and retain the qualities which it possesses as a subject. Indeed, the Subject, once resolved, is no longer composed of constituent units, but is totalized into a single, coherent whole. In short, the Subject is irreducibly complex. Now, I recognize that term derives from the largely spurious Creation Science movement, and I am not using it in that context. Biology as a science has sufficiently explained the means and mechanisms through which complex structures develop from simpler antecedents. In this context, I use the term irreducible complexity to describe the resolved Subject as that emergent property which cannot reduced to the structures from which it resolves. Indeed, I think this is the only fashion in which a concept like irreducible complexity can be made sensible: as volta. The resolution of the Subject is the volta which transfigures the prior system into something radically different and new. The Subject is irreducibly complex because it is no longer the sum of its parts, but a new emergent being.

Of course, the emergent Subject is reliant upon its substrate: the physical structures are necessary preconditions for the emergence of the Subject. Indeed, when we speak about the sanctity of human life, is this not what we are speaking of? The reduction of this argument to mere cells has produced a cacophony of nonsense arguments and sophistry which are no longer attached to the underlying issue (why ban abortion and legalize capital punishment? The murder of political adversaries is just as egregious if it is the mere cells which we privilege. After all, we’re all made of the same stuff, full grown humans just have more of it than fetuses, so surely, by weight alone, killing an adult is worse than killed a kidney bean sized cluster of cells).

Prior to the emergence of the Subject, there is nothing that would sufficiently differentiate the human body from other complex physical systems. The human body varies from other objects only in scale. Solar systems, atoms and the human body are all of equal importance prior to the emergence of the Subject, due to their engagement within the same network of formal relations. The network itself determines all relations even as it is determined by the totality of its constituent units. Value is not an objective quality.

It would sound as though, at this point, that I am working toward a justification of the soul, or some other ethereal substance unique to human being. Well, after a fashion, I suppose I am. This uniqueness I have been calling the Subject. The reflexive, interior spaces which certain beings inhabit, the realm of the Subject, is what we seek to preserve in our honoring of human life. The emergence of the Subject radically alters the formal network relations. The Subject suddenly emerges as a locus of intent, previously unknown in the formal network. The Subject destroys the equality of objects.

The next important piece is the Subject/Object divide. Subjects are differentiated from objects by the aforementioned interiority. Subjects contain themselves within their subjectivity: subject withdraw into themselves, whereas objects are in relation only to the network in which they are entrenched. Subjects are in relation to themselves in reflexive unity with the network. The network itself is a necessary precondition for the emergence of the Subject, the action of the Subject is primordially reflexive. The reflexivity between Subject and object partially allows for the Subject’s self-recognition as Subject.

I had previously leveled a critique at this project, aiming to entrench it firmly in ontology, as ontology, differentiated from theology need not produce a morality. I have come to feel that I was incorrect in making this claim. While I still hold to the sharp distinction between ontology and theology, I do believe that already we have here the beginnings of a moral concern. If we are concerned with the Subject, our concern must then spread back to the necessary preconditions for the Subject’s resolution. The substrate and the network become vitally important, and both must be maintained in order to ensure the development and flourishing of the Subject.

As this project continues, I intend to further develop these themes, as well as return to the tangled concept of the soul and its complex intellectual history.

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The Being of Being and Time & Towards a New Ontology…

I spoke to Mallory last week about our ongoing Onto/Theological project and we both expressed our frustrations wit the way in which I have presently been handling whole affair. I realized earlier this month that I have been going around in circles, defining and redefining terms, pouring over minutia and attempting to produce a razor sharp set of definitions from which I could then proceed. Unfortunately, I think the end result of all of that work is largely impenetrable. Hence my relative silence on that front. I’ve let that project fall away to focus on other material until I can relax enough to approach it again from a different perspective.

Mallory suggested to me, as a means of re-entry into the topic, that I find a succinct article or some-such on the internet which has already done the necessary work for me and link to it, then move on from the foundation already laid. Well, as luck would have it, upon checking the other blogs that I read this morning, I have found what seems to be the perfect solution. Philosophy & Theology posted this lovely set of youtube videos: Hubert Dreyfus explaining existential phenomenology.

I thoroughly encourage anyone interested in the discussion thus far to watch the full interview. It is split over several ten minute chunks, but it rather thoroughly investigates the movement out of which my own ramblings have emerged. It is worth paying particular attention to the way in which Heidegger describes the human experience, which he calls Dasein: Dreyfus’ explanation of that topic in particular is of crucial significance. It is worth noting that my usage of the Subject (definite article, capitalization) parallels Heidegger’s usage of Dasein in the simultaneity of the singular instantiation and the abstracted set of phenomenon (i.e. a person/all persons). I take, a feel, a slightly more radical position regarding the formation of the Subject than Heidegger does when discussing the presence of a Dasein among other Daseins, but the basic framing is the same, and also quite important.

It’s also fascinating where, and this isn’t directly addressed in the interview itself, the Foucauldian ideas of historicity pick up from Heidegger’s description of being.

And, again, because I just can’t get off my soapbox, these concepts are also precisely why I despise the vast majority of occult philosophy, especially nearly everything produced by Hermeticism.

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All or Nothing: Science Fiction, Law & The Subject

A while ago, I wrote an essay concerning Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission and the Supreme Court’s curious decision to rule in favor of Citizens United. The essay is too long to post in fullness here, but given my recent discussions of the subject, I wanted to return to some of the arguments presented in that essay.

I really do suggest that anyone interested read the ruling, it is a fascinating document. What I found so striking about it was the way in which the Justices, particularly Justice Kennedy, took the subjectivity of the corporation for granted at the very outset. There is, of course, a strange contradiction here. When we think of the subject, of a person, we are inclined from the outset to think of something like us. However, is it absolutely necessary that this be the case? We work from the presumption that all subjects must appear like us. However, how do we actually judge the presence of another subject? This has, in various forms, been a fascination of science fiction nearly since its inception. The android, the robot, the alien are all basic challenges to our traditionally held views on subjectivity. All of these forms are more immediately recognized as subject when they more closely resemble the human, but frequently the tension within a work of science fiction arises when the encountered being resembles us less and less.

Let us consider a small handful of examples. Stanislaw Lem’s classic and frankly quite bizarre Solaris spawned two quite different films made almost thirty years apart, each dealing with the encountering of a vastly different and strange form of intelligence. The terror of the film develops out of the strange manner in which the titular phenomenon, Solaris, interacts with the crew of the space station sent to study it. The manner of interaction, the creation of eidolons out of the minds of the human crew, is so shocking that the nature of Solaris goes unrecognized until nearly the end of the story. The basic presumptions of the crew, that only that which resembles us can be a subject allows them to mistake the apparitions which appear to them as real people, as true beings, and not extensions of the subjectivity of the planet Solaris circling below them, even when the synthetic beings behave in ways utterly unlike humans (the miraculous resurrection of Hari/Rheya).

Star Trek: The Next Generation tackles the issue much more directly with the presentation of the character Data. Data is an entirely artificial humanoid robot who does not, apparently, experience human emotions. A great deal of his character arc deals with the tension between his synthetic nature and his subjectivity. The unspoken question which follows him around is quite simply, “Must a man be flesh to be a man?” Data resembles the human in manifold ways, but is clearly inhuman. Yet, despite his superhuman abilities, he is regarded by the vast majority of the people who interact with him as human. His struggle is largely, save in a few key episodes, presented as an internal one: the android wondering if he is human enough to be human. Star Trek answers the question of Data’s humanity quite succinctly and tacitly: all the outward signs signal that Data has an interior life, that he behaves as a subject in the proper sense. Data is as subject because he behaves like one.

Oddly enough, that seems to be the logic which guided the Supreme Court to rule in favor of Citizens United. Citizens United was granted the legal status of a subject (at least within the realm of campaign finance) because it acts like a subject. The decision was essentially a pragmatic one. If Citizens United was not considered a subject, what would it be considered, and what would the ramifications of such a decision be? Given that it displays all the outward signs of subjectivity, is it not then deserving of the recognition of such? More simply put, how do you sensibly define the subject so as to include all beings which we traditionally accept as subjects and exclude those which we do not without also removing the traditional subject from that definition? The idea that the subject must resemble the human form seems insufficient, for what, precisely, about the outward appearance of the human produces its subjectivity? If the recognition of the subject is reliant upon the recognition of the presence of internal states, then mere behavior becomes the only viable rubric for judging the human.

Now, of course, the comparison of Citizens United to Star Trek’s Data is insufficient. Despite is variance, Data is still recognizably humanoid. A much better analogy would be to the Borg. The Borg are the most well known presentation of a corporate subject within popular science fiction. The Borg are no longer quite human, though they look human, they realize a strange paradox, the human embodiment which no longer contains a human mind. The Borg reverse the traditional problem of the subject as expressed by science fiction (and, perhaps, return to an earlier, folk loreic conception of the problem of other minds), here the body is human and the mind is substantially other. While the Borg are, for various reasons, horrifying, the basis of their terror rests upon their inversion of the subject. The Borg subject is moved out of the singular body and into the mass of the population. The Borg are not subjects, but subject. Each component entity within the Borg acts as an extension of its bodily mass. The more entities which comprise it, the larger its field of action becomes. The mind of the Borg is elsewhere, the bodies which compose it are merely limbs.

Thus, Citizens United, or any corporation, functions similarly. The total mass behaves as a subject and so is recognized as such regardless of the particular embodiment of that subject. Of course, the analogy is loose and fails to meet the conditions of the corporation on one very important point. Within the corporation the component entities which compose it do not lose their individual characteristics in their incorporation (indeed, they gain another characteristic, that of incorporation). The horror of the Borg arises in the deletion of the individual in favor of the collective, the corporation does not, in fact, behave in that manner (despite the insistence of modern capitalism and its drive towards total homogeneity). If the corporation is to be recognized as subject, that recognition derives from the subjectivity of its constituent subjects.

The corporate subject, as recognized by the Supreme Court functions as a subject due to the powers of the subjects which compose it. Each subject functions autonomously yet cedes a certain realm of action to the corporation, and lends to the corporation the use of its subjective capacity. Thus, the corporate subject is the sum total of its constituent subjects acting in unity with the corporate identity. The corporation behaves as a subject do to its composition, in other words, the corporation’s embodiment is such that it is capable of producing a subject. The particular embodiment of the subject need not take any particular form, the only requirement for such an embodiment is that it be capable of producing a subject. The subject, judged from without, it recognized through its behaviors, and as such, the corporation, the corporate subject, can be recognized as a subject if its behaviors are sufficient to produce such a judgement.

Within the essay which I wrote I do not use the above analogies, though they seemed fitting for the present purposes. My primary argument, however, is the same: behavior is the only appropriate rubric against which to judge a being’s subjectivity. There are a great deal of ramifications for the recognition of the corporate subject, primarily the effects which such a subject would have on its constituent subjects. Due to the unique nature of the corporate subject and its embodiment, I believe that the only way in which the corporate subject is truly capable of maintaining its subjectivity is by allowing for the full expression of its constituent subjects’ subjectivity and that the negation of any individual subject’s rights compromises the subjectivity of the entire corporation. However, I think that is a long and complex argument which doesn’t have much place in the present discussion (though I may return to it later if there is sufficient interest).

I wanted to return the this set of ideas because I realized some time ago that the set of arguments that I developed in favor of the corporate subject were popping up in the project I’m currently engaged with Emjay in developing. If we are working towards an Ontological Subject and the Theology of the Subject, then the definition and exploration of the subject becomes the center out of which everything else expands. Essentially, we are working backwards to the center of experience so that we make work forwards to the world and the divine.

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Through the Subject

Rather than launching into a very long digression, which I already partially engaged in, to be fair, within the massive project that is Toward a New Ontology, I have decided to take a moment here to explicate further my conception of being in relation to objects and the Subject. In as much as I wear my influences on my sleeve, I should state that these ideas are heavily influenced by Phenomenology (no one is surprised), in particular my recent reading of Heidegger’s Being and Time as well as Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenology of Perception. That said, I do think that I am veering wildly from their intended readings, particular in my metaphysical/ontological focus.

For the sake of clarity, here I will refer to the Subject on in the singular, though I by no means am making claims to an idealized Subject, such as a deity. The singular capitalized Subject is meant to refer to all singular instantiations of the Subject in their singularity. In as much as all subjects, as discrete entities, share sets of relatable characteristics which define and guarantee their subjectivity, the Subject is used to refer to that set of instantiated qualities. Therefore, the Subject is emphatically instantiated and does not refer to idealized form. It is used to describe a collective set, with the intention of maintaining emphasis on the singular units within that set.

Previously, I claimed that objects are not with the same intensity as the Subject is. Allow me to explain myself, I hope, more clearly. Objects certainly and indubitably exist. While it is true that all knowledge we possess of objects is subjective, is filtered through our senses and reasoning, we are forced, by the nature of our subjectivity to accept the presence of objects discrete of our subjectivity. Of course, the precise nature of objects need not necessarily correspond to our impressions of them. All that is required of objects for us to have assured knowledge of their presence is that, regardless of their private natures, they continue to impact upon our consciousness in coherent fashions. Therefore, we have knowledge of objects because our perceptions of them are such that they present consistently and coherently. Objects are known in as much as they present a network formal relations which we are able to process and comprehend.

Now, the presence of objects must be of a nature different from the presence of the Subject. Only the Subject is capable, as previously mentioned, of the reflexive actions of perceptions, that is to say only the Subject is simultaneously aware of itself and the World. It is not required of objects that they be aware of either. Indeed, it is not, I believe, controversial to claim that objects lack interiority. By this I do not mean that objects lack interior spaces, merely that they lack internal conscious states. Consciousness, in general, demands an interior, a presence withdrawn from the World, wherein only consciousness abides. I would argue that consciousness demands both interior and exterior, for it appears to be incoherent to claim that an object, possessing no exterior awareness, could be filled interiorly with consciousness, as then, lacking true exterior, the consciousness would have no interior space, either. If consciousness is withdrawn from the World, the presence of the World is vital for the necessary retreat of consciousness to its private demesne.

That which perceives must have an interior to perceive against, it must have a portion of itself discrete from the world for perception to penetrate. Objects lack such an interior. Of course, objects still interact, they merely have no consciousness of such interaction. Object relations are governed by formal properties according to the natures of the objects in relation. Indeed, this is the way in which we recognize objects are emphatically present. Objects will always relate to each other in coherent, consistent fashions. Inter-object relations come, then, to describe a complex set of formal relations which govern the actions of objects across a network. The complexity of actions within that network is determined by the number of objects in relation and their discrete natures in relation to each other. It is as a result of the formal coherence of the object network, and the formal nature of objects that we are guaranteed their continued coherent impact upon our consciousness.

Now, the presence of objects is not the same, I argue, as their true being. How is it that presence is distinguished from being? Being rests upon awareness. The confusion and complexity emerges from the simple fact that our entire conception of being rests upon our awareness of it. We are aware of our being, and being so aware are also aware of the being of other things. This entire action, the action of being, is fully embedded with the fascinating reflex of conscious awareness. Indeed, the action of being is embedded by its nature within the Subject. Being is an emergent property of the Subject just as the Subject is emergent, that is to say transcendent, of objects. Objects, incapable of awareness, are incapable of being. Any being which is ascribed to an object is ascribed outside of itself, being is not a property possessed of objects themselves. It is merely that our awareness of being makes incoherent the assertion that objects are not, when, in truth objects are through our awareness of being distinct from ourselves in the manifold of the interior/exterior divide necessary for conscious awareness. The intensity of being is dispersed through the conscious awareness of the Subject into the World. Thus, objects persist, amongst themselves, bound by their formal network. Only the emergence of the Subject, with its fully realized capacity for being is capable of bringing being into the World around it. Being, as an active state, is instantiated with the Subject.

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Towards a New Ontology, Part 2

So, then, having outlined the necessary conditions for its instantiation, what is the Subject? Simply put, the Subject is that mode of being which is reflexively self-aware and, so being, is emphatically engaged with the act of being at all points in its existence. One could claim that objects, which lack awareness of any sort, be in the most basic and fundamental sense. However, I would interject what may in fact be a radical reworking of the the verb, and suggest that being, in its most fully empowered sense, requires the Subject to actuate it.

Now, let us examine being. To be, without conjugation, is more than the state of mere existence, which I suggest objects possess. Objects do not be in the same sense as Subjects, they merely exist, subsist, or persist, but they have no active participation in the act. Objects are passive to the state of being, whereas Subjects are at all moments actively engaged in it. Therefore, being itself when applied to the Subject is modulated always into an active, perpetually refreshing state. The Subject is caught up in being by its nature in such a way that it must be constantly aware and interacting with its being. All action of the Subject is an effect of its own awareness of its being in a fundamental way. Objects lack this awareness, and so lack this direct engagement with being. Objects are bound up in a set of formal relations which determine all potential effects between all objects within a network, and so objects appear in being in a relatable fashion, yet are not possessed of being, meaning here both made full of being and possessing it as a manipulatable quality. Indeed, the Subject, I argue, is embedded within a strange reflex of being, both made of it and capturing it. The Subject is in such a way that being is altered by its presence. Being itself is enriched and fulfilled by the presence of the Subject. Being is realized in the Subject: no mere object can bring about the state of being.

I argue, thence, that the Subject is by its nature transcendent. What is transcendence? Well, now I must digress. I have always flexed against traditions which aim towards transcendence as a spiritual state, because such traditions universally fail to define transcendence in a way that leads the practitioner towards a recognizable goal. Transcendence is always something lost in the horizon, or else possessed only by the elect few, the transcendent masters (be they corporeal or ghostly), and never by the layman (unless they be a martyr or a saint, and then they must be dead to be so recognized). Now, I do not mean to say that one should not seek growth and expansion within one’s spiritual pursuit, merely that transcendence is something entirely different. The Subject, fully realized, must by its nature transcend the realm of objects. Indeed, the Subject, by becoming Subject has its basis entirely within transcendence. The Subject has, by brining itself into being, fundamentally altered its state of existence and has made itself transcend from object to Subject. The Subject is transcendent in as much as it is a Subject. To aim toward transcendence is to aim toward the most basic act of the Subject, the act which the Subject realizes fully upon its transformation into Subject.

I feel, now, like we are capable of addressing a question which should have arisen already. Why is a new ontology necessary? It is my belief that prior attempts to explain the creation of the World have always subjugated being to artifacts. By this I mean that attempts to explain being have reduced to an effect, a by product of other forces, of God, of Science. Rarely has the question of being itself been addressed, especially in a spiritual sense. God, Science, all these artifacts are secondary to being, and I do mean the enriched being of the Subject, and not primary forces. Only being itself is full enough to bring about the world, before which there was nothing, as there must have been, as something requires a something to notice it. Prior to being, there is no mechanism of creation. Being is not subjugating: nothing is declined in its presence. Being enriches and fills: it creates.

Is the Subject, then, being? No, the Subject is of being, and being is of the Subject, but they are not reducible to the same thing. Thus, objects are, in the minimal sense of the word, yet their being is made into being by the presence of the Subject. Being washes over and permeates, it transcends. There is an important difference, here, between extension and intensity. All things, objects and Subjects, possess extension. Everything extends through space, everything which exists exists dimensionally. Therefore, in extension, all things have equal ontological weight. Within pure extension, there is no greater value assigned to any thing, purely spatial relations govern all. The barest possibly meaning of being relates to pure extension. Intensity, however, incorporates much more into the meaning of being. Intensity relates to the powers of discrete beings. The Subject possesses greater intensity through its reflexive relation to being itself than objects. The intensity of the Subject, then, in relation to being grants it greater ontological weight than mere objects. The Subject is capable of being in a fashion which empowers it over the mere persistence of objects. Only the Subject can be in the fullness of the state of being, reflexively awash in being and being.

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Towards a New Ontology, Part 1

Emjay and I recently spent a brief handful of days pouring over our years of experience, research and theorizing, and in the span of what could not have been more than six hours pounded out a strange, unsettlingly coherent ontology based around the subject which allowed us to produce, quite cleanly, an expansive theology. It has been an interest of mine for quite some time to explore the idea of a primordial theology, an ur-theology, to borrow a phrase, of deep magic from before the dawn of time.

I must, now, admit that I, at the summation of our discussion, felt arising within me, a deep, intuitive dissatisfaction with the system which we had constructed that I was not able to properly articulate. Emjay was confused with my sudden hesitation. She told me quite flatly that she did not understand why I was having difficulties so late in the game, after us having spent so long in total agreement. I suspect that now, after several weeks of reflection, that I am nearing an answer to her. However, first I must do what I can to elucidate the system which we developed. I sincerely doubt that I will be capable of doing it justice, and this project will likely take several posts to properly explore, however, I shall endeavor to present our conclusions justly and fairly.

Let us begin with the three fundamental precepts which I believe are necessary to develop a Subject Oriented Ontology.

First: the Subject is Total and Irreducible. There is no such thing as a partial Subject. One cannot fracture the Subject without destroying its fundamental nature. That which is Subject is only Subject in its Totality. The Subject is not partes extra partes, but a total coherence, a part in and of itself. Indeed, this coherence is the justification and reification of the Subject. Once the Subject passes from potentiality into concrete instantiation it radicalizes all that was mere partes extra partes within its organization into a single discrete whole. While the Subject may face damage and mortal peril, such stresses do not, as a starfish, mutilated, produce new Subjects. The result is either a denaturing of the Subject, or its total dissolution. There is, within the concept of the Subject Denatured a Pathological Subject, which is not of direct interest to this present discussion, but I note it now as a point of reentry later on.

Second: the Subject is necessarily Embodied. The Embodiment of the Subject need not necessarily conform to any particular structure, all that is necessary is that the structure be capable of supporting the Subject. The Embodiment of the Subject serves as a necessary substrate out of which the Subject emerges, and so doing radicalizes its structure into its very nature as Subject, dissolving the structure into its totality as Subject and inserting itself through all points in time along the structural substrate’s existence. Once the Subject emerges, the structure disappears into it. The Embodiment of the Subject is then that which necessarily is the Subject as a result of the Subject’s reflexive embedding within the world at large. The structure of the Subject serves as the locus of Being within the World which contains and defines the Subject’s range of potentialities within the World. The Subject, embedded in the World is embedded within its Embodiment as a means of action and perception within and of the World.

Third: The Subject requires a network of Subjects and objects for its fundamental resolution. It is not apparent to me how a Subject may arise in isolation, as the complex action of Subjectivation, wherein the Subject emerges from its structural substrate appears to rely heavily on the presence and action of other Subjects. The Subject becomes through a complex set of interactions that require not only the surrounding network of other objects, but also the presence of action of other Subjects. Before the Subject is a subject, it is merely an object, a presence governed purely by formal object relations. It is through these inter-object relations that the Subject may begin to recognize its difference from other such objects through the presence of, I suggest, perception and intent. However, the total action of Subjectivation requires the presence and interaction of other fully formed Subjects, so that the Nascent-Subject may come to cognizance of its own subjectivity in relation to the subjectivity of others. I do think that it is possible for the Nascent-Subject to fail to achieve this final step in remain in a pre-subjective state of mere perception and reaction. The totally realized Subject becomes such once it recognizes the full power of other Subjects and the potential for that power within itself. The Embodiment of the Subject need not necessarily produce a Subject, it need only allow for the manifestation of the Subject. The human form, its bodily structure, appears strongly predisposed to produce a subject, but it is not necessarily so that it will, merely that it may. A human, deprived of the network of relations in which it is commonly embedded would not achieve the transformation from object to Subject, but would remain merely flesh.

And so now, we have three basic premises: the Subject is total and irreducible, the Subject is Necessarily Embodied, and the Subject cannot emerge in isolation (or the Subject requires a network of other Subjects and objects). Where do we go from here? What does an ontology which takes these three premises as its starting point look like? I will, of course, continue with this project and further elucidate the work which Emjay and I developed, but at this point, I would love to hear what thoughts and feelings occur to you all.

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Being and Divinity

After having written my last entry, I had a long discussion with a friend of mine who holds not dissimilar views to mine. However, that conversation led me to realize that my own views, as previously explicated, require further refining.

I do firmly hold that the only useful definitions of Divinity are those which arise out of experience, however, I also feel that Divinity is not a thing which exists in the objective, formal world. It is my belief that Divinity is entirely entrenched within subjectivity, that it is a mode or aspect of the subject, and not a thing in the world, like a table or the sky. It seems to me that Divinity is a thing experienced, purely, in being.

As I stated earlier, I posit that being, as a verb implying continued action, requires a subject to execute it. Objects cannot be in the same sense as subjects. Objects subsist. Their presence is one without awareness, and therefore one without the sort of action which only the subject is capable of. Were I to posit a grammar of being, only subjects would take the perfect and progressive tenses, objects would be left with the simple present, the simple past & the simple future. Objects do not execute actions through time, but exist in successive present states, each moment a totality isolated from former and future positions. It is only the subject who presses itself against these objects which recognizes, through its own temporality, a temporality of objects. Objects subsist devoid of time.

Therefore, Divinity, belonging solely to the subject, cannot be constrained by the same sets of rules which apply to objects. This is not to say that there are no rules of the subject. There undoubtedly are. The subject, being within the objective world, is constrained by the formal nature of the world, yet, by its presence, radicalizes that world. That which would be purely formal, possessing no awareness or change, is transformed through the primary action of the subject, that of being through time, into something significantly queer. Within the objective world, all which can exist must exist. All relations are carried out explicitly and totally according to the natures of those objects in relation without variation or change: the initial conditions of such a world define explicitly the conditions of its conclusion. However, the subject, through the experience, mutates the world with the addition of meaning, quantification, categorization, organization and manipulation. The objective world is no longer simply formal, but thoroughly suffused with intangibles, theories, concepts which could never be present without the being of the subject. All of these are entrenched thoroughly within subjectivity, yet arising from the objective world as experienced by the subject, and, through that movement, pressing back upon the objective world in the reflexive nature of  being.

By its presence within subjectivity, Divinity possesses the mutable powers of the subject. The Divine, as mode of being, is given by pure experience: as the subject resolves itself out of the experiencing of the objective world, so does Divinity manifest through the subject. I suggest, then, that first we must have a subject, and then we may have the Divine. Divinity, then, acts upon the world in as much as the subject does, or through the same motion or set of processes: the action of the Divine is analogous to the action of the subject.

As yet, I have made no attempts to define Divinity, merely explore its nature in relation to subjectivity. In short, I am at this point merely attempting to establish the proper conditions in which the Divine can be explored. As a mode of being, as a thing which dwells in and resolves out of experience, I suggest that the only proper way to define Divinity is phenomenologically. Any definition of the Divine must begin within experience and then seek to clarify and comprehend, but, always and at every moment, maintaining its link to pure experience.

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I Am Here

After my fusillade against traditional western occult philosophy (which, I also suspect, could land some decent strikes against certain eastern philosophies as well), I feel like it is necessary for me to outline my own metaphysical constructions. As I said before, foremost the flesh must determine our explorations. I hold by this as the major tenet of my philosophy. I firmly hold that Divinity must be immanent and present at all times, in all things. Indeed, I argue that in order for a concept like Divinity to actually refer to anything, it must refer to something entirely present in the world.

Of course, I recognize the difficulty with such an assertion. If divinity is a thing in the world, where is it? The response, as stated above, that it is in all things, everywhere, at all times,  seems, well, easy and useless. What does it honestly mean to refer to Divinity if everything is, by its nature as a thing objectively present, Divine? Well, in a practical sense, I think it means absolutely nothing. Everything, being equally Divine, is stripped of any intensity, and left in the same state as a world evacuated of Divinity. I don’t mean to say that Divinity requires a contrast, indeed, the Divine should be that to which no contrast is possible. What use is there in comparing the Divine against the Profane, if the Profane, in order to exist, by its nature as existent, is infused with Divinity?

Here, then, lies the volta. The subject, that which is not object, but, existent and contained with the objective world holds the key, and thus my fascination with the flesh. The primary action of the subject is to infuse the flesh with being. Being, existing, as a state, requires an a priori subject. What does it mean to be, without a being already present to grasp such being? The objective world, merely existent, is not aware of itself or the relations contained therein. The objective world is purely formal, governed by relations according to the natures of the objects contained. Those objects act only as they must in accordance with their natures and the natures of the other objects pressed upon them. As such, mere objects cannot be in the same sense as subjects. They have no being inherent to them, merely presence in relation to other objects. Objects have no in-themselves and for-themselves, only systems of relations which tie them to other objects in a coherent total unit. All objects, absent of the subject, represent a single unity of relation, devoid of any individual being.Objects possess no interior states. In contrast to the vast interiority of the subject, this is the defining characteristic of the object.

The flesh, mere object, does not, nor cannot experience nor possess Divinity, as experience is, by its nature, embedded within the subject, an interior state. The subject infuses and transforms the flesh from mere object to total subject. All of the flesh, the body, through the action of the subject is transformed from mere thing to total experience and invested with interiority, with states which are no longer merely objective and formal. The rebuttal that all interior states are the result of mere objective relations is quite obviously facile, as formal relations fail to describe the experience of those objective relations by the subject. The subject, then, is, by its nature as such, transcendent.

The primary action of the subject transforms itself from mere flesh to total being. The flesh represents the lens through which the world is experienced, and as such, the vehicle of the subject, though the subject, save under duress, does not recognize the flesh as mere vehicle, but as a totality of being. Indeed, it is this totality of being which, I believe, describes the normative state of the subject. It is within this total being, this primary act of existence as performed by the subject, that Divinity can be grasped. Divinity is an experiential thing, embedded within the nature of the subject as possessing interior states. Divinity, then, is an interior state (that which is Divine may describe a being, but Divinity is the attribute possessed by the Divine as an interior state, and may be grasped by other subjects as relating to the Divine). The effulgence of Divinity is directly linked to the effulgence of the subject. Where the subject presses itself against the objective world, and doing so, renders a transformation upon it, Divinity is present and recognizable. Indeed, the resultant implication seems to be that Divinity is linked purely with being in itself, as reliant upon the a priori subject.

I recognize a certain deistic bent with this argument, and I admit that I am fairly uncomfortable with that. I flex against the Divine as mere presence, and yet I wonder if the distinction of the Divine as pure being is strong enough. The Divine is not an object, but a form of being, resting upon the nature of the subject as being. I feel, as well, like there is much more to be done to in order to resist dangerous elisions between the nature of subject and the nature of the Divine (yet are such elisions dangerous? Are they elisions at all?). There is something uneasy, to me, in the implication that all subjects are, by their natures, Divine. I happily ascribe transcendence to the subject as its most basic and primary act, yet I shudder at following through with Divinity.

Clearly, I have a great deal of work left to do, as this represents a relatively short period of personal reflection when weighed against the mass of merely my own life, let alone the grand sweep of history, and yet I feel like it is a more honest starting point than most which I have encountered within my readings.

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