A kind of a "dangerous supplement", marked, scarred on a body, post-orgasmically, always, already in anticipation of (a) crisis OR for a desert avec 'agape'. Mindb(l)ogg(l)ing Noise. "Avalanche, would you share my last pursuit?" (Baudelaire)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Tree has roots in true, etymologically [a kind of response]

I was never a big fan of trees. And yet growing up in a city without many of those, one was bound and still is, to get caught looking for one. Especially when in those irreversible states of needing to take a pee, it is true, trees indeed provide the best shade and semi-shelter for those occasions. Yet, what I always found problematic and preposterous - in need for more clarity [by means of what, one might inquire] which by lacking it left me with reservations - is the frantic fetishization of nature; the arbitrary and sporadically ecstatic supra-naturalization of nature. [that is, very much the case with history and archaeological discoveries as well - and Cyprus is susceptible to a plethora of those - where often the fetishization of history, of the past, overestimates the value of the old. Still, we (as humanity) have found no way of either un-covering, re-covering, dis-covering, unbound from this regressive yearning. How do we confront the melancholy of realizing that history is contingent?]. Justice and injustice are not determined by laws. It's the laws that stabilize what is just and what is unjust (anthropocentrically). Like any legal system, nature has its (own? - is there such thing as immanence after all?) laws as well. And they are not called "Laws of nature" (that supposedly castigate us when transgressing them; do they apply to penguins as well? can they be held guilty?). It is us that call them "Laws of nature" and by establishing such laws we predetermine an infliction on trespassers (humanity?) when they (humanity?) do not fulfill those laws constituted in the place (one might even say, in the absence) of nature. Global warming, as the ultimate crime, is punished by the death sentence. And everyone (who?) is held guilty. And such a crime has undoubtly been hovering over the sky as the electric chair and castor oil in a pack and parcel, as the present threat, promising the worst unless repentance and law-abiding are soon to be embraced by the infidels. The end of the world is coming! Or the world is coming to an end.
But, take a pause here.
Where would you have gone anyway? Where are you planning to go, and the end of the world will prevent you from doing so? You have a dentist appointment on Monday, right? Surely you can cancel it. The world is ending after all, you don't want to miss out the end. And where was the world heading to anyway? We all know we need trees. Don't we? Do we, actually? And how do we know that? It is scientifically proven. Oh, right, so we don't need trees for nature's sake, but for science's. Is that what you are telling me? And how did we come to legitimize science? Is it by nature, by the (scientific) laws of nature, that we approve science of making valid statements about nature according to its (science's) laws? Is science naturalized? By the means of what? Yes, but can't you see, summers are turning to winters and winters are turning to springs! And what does that have to do with anything? Teachers will still work eight months a year and get four months holidays. Australians never complained about welcoming Santa Clause in swimming suits year in and year out, why should you? And what about the ice melting? Was it not you that signed a petition a couple of months ago for new measurements in order to provide Africa with clean water? There you have it! And what about the extinction of animals? Natural History Museums have to survive somehow, don't you think? We once had dinosaurs, I thought you were glad we got them out of our way. Oh come on, we are going in circles now. So if we still are (going in circles), why are you worried?
The obscure rationale about the significance of nature, reminds me of that paradoxical story about democracy: How did we come to perceive democracy as the most credible, the one of highest value political system? You know, it is because the majority of people want it. But that is already a democratic precedent and having taken that into account neither negating nor affirming democracy is, to say the least, accessible. OK, listen what we'll do: we vote, whoever is for democracy and who is against it. You don't get it do you?
So, still, even if nature is not important by / to / according to the laws of man and/or science of nature, but is, by / to / according to the laws of nature of nature, that is nature is by nature alone (immanently) significant, what does that tell us anyway? How can you evaluate nature's value by nature's values? What on oblique (an oh, yes, we can get vicious here, circullary vicious and ask "Oblique? By the means of what? Is there a norm?"), what an oblique remark to make: "Nature is important; naturally"
Where does, then, the essence of nature abide, and by the means of what is it essential? In other words, what's the big fuzz?

10 comments:

Χριστος Χ. said...

You definitely persuaded me regarding the self-congratulatory pretensions of certain "naturalists" and "conservationists": fetishistic preservationism! Question: but is there room for the discerning of a more radical ethics of bio-conservation? (Levinasian ethics for example)?

Demetris said...

What then when truth, in the form of parrhesiastic utterance, risque, becomes the tree as urban furniture, let us say - applying to pirate as well - where existenz is no longer lnked with existence, but intrinsically with the other, immediately and defered, immediate and in deferral?
Fuck water; pee, cum, spit! Now you see me, now yo don't.

Constantinos said...

@ xristos: my knowledge of Levinas ethics is only a step over wikipedia. But still how could an ethical position that derives from the other towards calling into question the same would manifest a radical ethics of bio-conservation? As far as I am concerned, the principal element of ethics - and by that I mean morality, which as far as I understand Levinas is trying to detach his ethics from (please help on that) - is the being bound to a code of action. The question would be, not even why ethical, but even primordially why be bound to preservation (and seek for radical ethics to discern such an unfamiliar desire). What do you think, as it sounds like you have something in mind?
@ Demetris: How, if in any way, does this utilitarian boldly uttered manifestation of a tree, immediate or mediated, as an urban furniture - and specifically as an organ of hide&seek - would privilege the tree? Couldn't the car, the building, the sign pole, the bin, the sand bag - any element of the histos of the city - by utilized in a similar "Now you see me, now you don't" way? Why privilege the tree?

Demetris said...

In so far as the tree is part of the process, it is not the tree that is privileged but the process. By subtracting it though from the process you de facto privilege it both in a positivist and a nihilist way. Similarly, it goes without saying by allowing for the prioritising of the car, the sand-bag, the sign pole, the building -which is what the cutting down doe, or any elimination for that matter, especially ones that claim aesthetics as politics- you are bound to enter a contest of authoritarian existence(s) that wont back down until death do them apart. The tree in this case then becomes de jure - whoever the magistrate - a battle ground. As it has become. But here we are not siding with anyone but with everyone. The Third, of which Levinas speaks, in this case the accumulation of wellcomings, the city, is no longer, in such a battle, a process - of trees, cars, sand-bags, voids, piss- but a battle ground. And battles always have winners, losers and missing. Don't we have enough of them? Haven't we learned enough? En egine i psychi mas mavri, diladi, mian jai thkyo fores, pale? This, the tree, is also another point to start from again, anew, with Nicosia (and not with this and that and the tit-for-tat.

Demetris said...

Or, akou na deis: "If, as Derrida argues, the violence enacted in the name of reason is never reasonable, it will not be disturbed by any demonstration that this is the case. (...) Legal resource must be replaced by a quasi-ethical injunction, a call to some sense of responsibility. (...) It needs to be remembered that the sense of of ethics written into Derrida's argument that deconstructive violence violates that which is already violentis indebted to the writings of Emmanuel Levinas. (...) The necessity of this doubling of violence is related to the inevitable haunting of space. This can be seen by looking at the tacit argument about the haunted house in Derrida's later reading of Levinas in 'At This Very Moment in Whose Work I Am', which opposes inhabiting to haunting by looking at the way Levinas's interventions violently 'tear' familiar language in a way that locates another language, the language of the other, within it that 'doesn't inhabit it, but haunts it'.' The familiar 'is there, but dislodged so as to leave room for (though not to establish residence in)' the other, which produces the sense that 'as if from now we didn't dwell there any longer, and to tell the truth, as if we had never been at home'.(...) A house never simply houses. (...)
(T)his disruption of the house's image of itself as secure involves indigestion. Through Levinas's violent forcing of the familiar text, the house of language 'disassimilates' the other, throwing it up into the space, making visible in the space that which the space always attempts to conceal, the indigestible that is normally thrown up into an internal pocket in the lining of the walls. The haunting of the space of the house that can be exposed by a violent and yet vigilant reading is sustained by the encrypting movements of incorporation.
The indigestible other that haunts the space is not simply at odds with the law that governs that space. On the contrary, it is its very possibility. (...)"

Mark Wigley, The Architecture of Deconstruction, 1993 (2002), pp.170-171


Jai paei legontas.

Constantinos said...

Agreed, the tree is indissoluble of a urban battle to maintain the disequilibrium [if any, in Nicosia], of urban furniture. Not siding, and not fighting for privilege over. And the tree is indissoluble of this process, so if that is the process what and how is the "how to go aboutness" of this process, as generic and simultaneously as peculiar. I am simply not convinced that this is the motivation of such periodic drops and passionated endeavors that shine like Radiomarathonios - yes, almost phylanthropically deceiving - and are over by Monday morning.
The battle for privilege in the urban landscape, only becomes one (a battle) - if ever, in Nicosia - at the moment of / in the sight of (either projected or retrospected, but regardless to whether that is a projection or a back-projection it is always from a short distance), in the sight of annihilation. Not even the moment of crisis - and therefore never a critical battle - but in the face of an alleged coming fatal disaster. It is a battle not for the proliferation o f privilege(s), not the porosity of urban furniture, but always a battle of rescue at the moment of death or dying. That is, possibly, what you would have said not the heterogeneouty of the wannabe privilege(s) but the homogeneouty of rescued forces. That is not a battle, that, if anything, resembles a process of embalming. Rescue and redemption have been key terms in Cyprus, at least for the last as many yeas as I remember and plenty more to go back to. It has not been even three weeks that a new president has been elected and like all his predecessors the very first statement he made, on the very night of his election was: "Our ideology is the rescuing of Cyprus". The Save Nicosia's Trees later closes with "Παρακαλούμε προωθήστε γιατί καιγόμαστε!". This is not a battle for privileges. Hardly a battle. Hardly a confrontation with the urban space. Not even a haunting. It is a dis-engaged peculiarly specific (to the tree now, to the archaeological discoveries in previous times, to the Eleftheria Square once in a while - but never as a unified front for the urban space, instead more as fragmented fetishized objects) perspiration in the face of death or a possible lost. If a battle is always an alleged battle for survival. Mourning is our national talent. As well as self-victimization. Yes, always an alleged battle for survival. A brute concealed vitalism. It is not the ecstasis, the pathos, the love, the desire of utilizing the urban scope not only as furniture but also as a lover; or as many. It is fetish-preservationalist take on how to embalm the city (Nicosia) and museofy it. Remember do not climb up the walls, they have been recently renovated. Nicosia is turning - or it has a tendency to do so - into an immutable equilibrium of dead embalmed entities: chicken wired archaeologies, untouchable renovated master plan(ts), glassed off monuments, sealed of tress, policed districts.
Rather than living in a museum (Zampelas has partly tried to do or at least imply, this by determining pathways in the navigation of the within the walls city and Marangou used that museum-city in Italy - its name slips me - as her model), rather than living in museum then, one of "fighting" to preserve its becoming dead ornaments, one of fighting to rescue and live upon its nostalgia time and time after, the answer to that will be, vandalism!

Constantinos said...

Not to be forgotten: En na mas pian oi Tourtzioi!

Demetris said...

Indeed, then, no one is to side with them - apart from granting them the awareness that has facilitated this contrarianism ('don't expect to be thanked') - yet vandalism can not be demolition, or uprooting, but prolonged, sustained even, dysfunctionality in view of the aim to functionalise, make it easily digestable, the city (even if it takes a bit of chewing up the chewed fat) within the structures of urbanity. The municipal-governmental dysfunctionality of 3-5 months (with the necessary carrot at the end) can not after all take the place of anti-museum practices (even if it gives rise to a battle ground). Imagine though a square under every tree, a 'sandwich per kilo' cycles next to every bush, a cast concrete facade in the old town, a car-sharing kaimakli (which can effect an economic vandalism to the extremely priveleged car-structures).

The question returns to forms of responsibility (and of course not petty petitionary demonstrations).

Χριστος Χ. said...

(I'll try to catch up. Sorry if you find me out of focus)

I take it that some people have called for an uprise out of genuine empathy (let's leave the fetishists out of the question; we caknowledge them but our concern is to see whether a conservationist bioethics can be discerned beyond fetishism). Constantinos attacks the opportunistic and convulsive reaction of certain "activists". I think the reaction can be explained by means of empathy: empathy manifests in that way. Yet, empathy can easily transform into fetish through habituation and detachment. Let’s disregard the times empathy becomes habituation and let’s stick to the moment of empathy.

Here lies the primordiality of action. An encounter of the tree as an other organism, an other hypostasis that wills.

Primordiality is lost the moment we convert it into a moral code (a moral prescription). (This is what Levinas –I think- would say. Now whether I personally agree with primordiality: I do, but it's fragmented and heterogeneous).

The tree calls for responsibility, by means of empathy. Responsibility and empathy are two sides of the same coin. (Doesn’t empathy exceed any morality, since it occurs only as singular enchantment)?

Empathy entails the sense of an other as other: i.e. as an other organism that resists incorporation. An asymmetrical relation, that relates while it differentiates.
Any moral/political code to be discerned will inevitably miss the primordiality and singularity of the tree, because it will miss the empathy. But this is not an indication of illness: rather, this is the nature of meta-physics: the occurrence of something only after the physical event has taken place.


P.S: I remember when we were kids that Constantinos used to climb a lot of trees, yes?!!

Χριστος Χ. said...

Here's something that could neutralize my previous post: on the very grounds of empathy one could demand the cutting of trees if that would enable handicapped people to use the pavement. Empathy for a tree versus empathy for another human being: we inevitable privilege the human being...

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