Joseph has written a very nice response to my post declaring all of you mad.

So far, so good. But what about the more personal issues at stake here, which LarvalSubjects links to his obsessiveness, his problems with sleep and enjoyment, his abuse of his body, and his dark fantasies?

I imagine that, outside of public matters of disagreement that preclude difference, LarvalSubjects is thinking about self-defeating phenomena. All of the work I’ve done writing for this blog, and all of my own experiences with the bitter alienation he is describing, persuade me that the essential symptom/syndrome of this moment in Western life is undecidability and indeterminacy. That means, with respect to individual neuroses and psychoses, that all of them are acquired secondhand, and dropped or revised with startling ease.

Is there a single way of abusing one’s body that has not been chronicled in films, television shows, medical handbooks, websites, and so on? Is there a single pathology of sleep that is not known, catalogued, campaigned against, satirized, and vindicated? If, right now, eighteen people are singing simultaneous versions of “Folsom Prison Blues,” is it really possible to talk about a dark fantasy of murder in a shocking manner?

I’m too exhausted to say much of anything. Between marking and faculty council I hardly have a moment to think these days, but I think Joseph here hits on something very interesting. As Nietzsche puts it in his famous parable of the madman from The Gay Science,

‘Wither is God?’ he cried: ‘I will tell you. We have killed him— you and I. All of us are his murderers. But how did we do this? How could we drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the entire horizon? What were we doing when we unchained the earth from its son? Whither is it moving now? Whither are we moving? Away from all suns? Are we not plunging continually? Backward, sidward, forward, in all directions? Is there still any up or down? Are we not straying as through an infinite nothing? Do we not feel the breath of empty space? Has it not become coler? Is not night continually closing in on us? Do we not need to light lanterns in the morning? Do we hear nothing as yet of the noise of the gravediggers who are burying God? Do we smell nothing as yet of the divine decomposition? Gods, too, decompose. God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him.

The madman’s declaration is not a happy declaration. It is the declaration that the world has lost its arche, its ordering principle. It is the declaration that we have lost our naivete and no longer believe that beneath the chaotic flow of experience there is some law or order. There has been a collapse of our sense of who we are as individuals, (the “selfness of our self” as Kierkegaard might say), the orderliness or lawfulness of the world, and of purposes and goals. Or maybe this is just me. I cannot seem to find any fixity for my identity. I am suspicious of any goals I set for myself, suspecting some hidden catch behind them. And the world appears chaotic to me. Where is the joy in schizophrenic processes of desiring-production promised to me by Deleuze and Guattari? Why do I experience this as so anxiety provoking?

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