17 October 2006

Exhaustion and the Inexhaustible

Spurious has recently written on writing and the inexhaustible in such a way that I cannot help but experience it as a purloined love letter addressed to me given my recent exhaustion or despair with writing, discourse, and thought. Of course, emphasis must be placed on "the purloined" here. Like Althusser's example of interpellation, where the man walking down the street experiences himself as the addressee of the police officer's "hey you!", even though it could have been addressed to anyone on the crowded street, I was interpellated by Spurious... Or should I say, I was "spuriously interpellated"?

The oldest topic on this blog, which is also what makes writing here possible, even as it seems also to deny that possibility, excluding it from any kind of project, and making it only the repetition of its exposure to the impossibility of beginning: how to mark that writing born from the exhaustion of strength, the 'merciful surplus', as Kafka called it? How to mark that turn in exhaustion, where suddenly - and by what miracle? - it becomes propitious, allowing there to begin what seemed to have no chance of beginning.

Exhaustion: the limits of strength. A limitless limit, because exhaustion seems without end, and that is its trial: who are you that cannot collect himself into a task? Who has fallen from anything but a waiting for waiting, that has forgotten the realm where a task might be completed and waiting takes an object? A forgetting of forgetting, too - for you must have exhausted all kinds of nostalgia for action, all memories of power, so that something might begin.

These strange formulations are necessary if the time (the non-time) of exhaustion is to be remembered. The word waiting, like the word forgetting, is suspended between transitivity and intransitivity, each falling back into what deprives them of object. So they can be put into play such that they echo exhaustion and let it speak in the way it, too, seems to strip possibility of itself and then, sometimes, bestow it again, the chance of action.

Then exhaustion is part of the rhythm of the withering and regaining of strength, of the ability to be able. A mysterious rhythm that allows, in with the withering of your powers, power to be regained, and not by an initiative that belongs to you. This is what Kafka calls the 'merciful surplus': the capacity of writing to come to itself, and for you to write of the exhaustion that kept you from writing...

Read on!

I suspect that I'm traumatized by my writing and that one of the reasons that I write as much as I do here is to unwrite what I've written by pushing it down the page or by assaulting my readers with so much mass that they lose interest and cease reading. What is it that might render the experience of writing traumatic? Why do I always suspect that I might have unwittingly written something that I shouldn't have written, as if my words might rearrange themselves when I'm not looking? Transferentially, what is suggested in suspecting that one's writing always harbors the seeds of disaster and one's own destruction? What is the unconscious desire or intention behind such paranoid thoughts?


Anonymous N. Pepperell said...

Hoping not to over-literalise when commenting on your post, but I actually often do feel that I "bury" content I'm a bit uncertain about, and I have definitely written posts in the hope of quickly pushing earlier posts into more obscure positions... I'm particularly prone to worrying, once a piece of writing has been sent off into the wider world, that I might have said something in a particularly inappropriate way, or might have omitted something essential - it's actually these kinds of worries that caused me initially to take up blogging: my own personal kind of aversion therapy - an attempt to force myself to make these kinds of mistakes, if I'm actually going to make them, in an extremely public forum. My hope was that, over time, sheer practice would decrease the volume of fears that crop up when I do more serious forms of writing... It's been a... partial success, in the sense that I'm much more likely now to share writing in very rough form, which then makes possible a more interactive revision process that is inevitably (for me, at least) more creative and effective...

October 17, 2006 4:12 PM  
Blogger Sinthome said...

Thanks! Actually it's not half bad... As Lacan would put it, truth arises through error, so we should look to these phantom thoughts and troubling "fantasies" to discern the contours of our desire. In analysis there's a sort of standard interpretive gesture that the analyst engages in when the analysand confronts the analyst with worries like this: "you would like to say something inappropriate?" The idea is to give the analysand the opportunity to embrace a disavowed desire. Now, inappropriateness can, of course, be anything. Given that all speech is addressed to some Other, the real question might be "inappropriate for whom?" I'm inclined to believe that such instances are indicative of a desire to say something that one feels forbidden or prevented from saying.

October 17, 2006 5:17 PM  
Anonymous Mark Crosby said...

Here's a trauma of writing sinthome: I have just deduced that my employer's wonderful new Web blocking software reads my Internet history files and identifies any cases of posts to blogger.com/comment.. and subsequently blocks the related site as a "chat site"!

My employer is the US government and I am a civil servant working 50 hours a week. Nothing radical. Nothing repressive. But now my favorite site for a stimulating intellectual break during the day will be blocked -- all because of a frivolous post made here the other day!

I am making this post from home, but cannot afford to do this daily, as I live in a household with 4 other people all sharing the same dial-up line.

So, I've exhausted my ability to read your stimulating posts, but keep up the good work!

- Mark (still dedicated to a delirium logic like the "delirious carnival of sobriety, COLLAPSE operates [in] its war against good sense not through romantic flight but through the formal insanity secreted in the depths of the rational" ;)

October 17, 2006 6:00 PM  
Blogger Sinthome said...

Marc, This is tremendously disappointing to hear. I've gained a great deal from your commentaries, references, and the connections you draw. I hope you'll find a way to visit now and then, when time permits.

October 17, 2006 6:08 PM  
Anonymous N. Pepperell said...

I'm open to the concept... I tend to be afraid of saying something inappropriate in the specific sense of revealing the absence of some very basic form of knowledge or insight into whatever it is that I'm writing about - something everyone else recognises intuitively or through very basic education. It's difficult to say, though, whether this represents desire, or just a sort of flashback to an earlier, "real" subject position - I come to formal academic work somewhat late, and from a less traditional background - I'm still adjusting, I think, to the notion that I have some aptitude for the work that I do.

October 18, 2006 2:43 PM  

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