Friday, April 23, 2010
In the flurry which was the writing of the final two chapters on my dissertation, there has been one idea which has returned in various ways in the last eight months. It is one that Adorno wrote about, of course, in his lectures on metaphysics, which were also a constant companion of this writing. Adorno is talking about the divergence between individual human interests and the interest of humanity at large. His sense is that the interests of humanity at large win out over the individual because the false "instinct" of self-preservation has replaced instincts which are more general, natural, or ideal. Both the nature of the false self-preservative instinct and the real instincts remains elusive, or if not elusive, at least opaque through dialectic opposition. I have since, in part, thought about this situation as one which characterizes the postwar, with its schema of profitability and survival, and with this as a sort of starting point for these considerations, I have wondered how this general state of the postwar relates to both the current discourse of war and the contemporary sense that war is something total, inevitable, and endless.
Still, and in the desire to have some sort of project that most immediately requires collecting as its form of labor, I would find it useful to catalog (empirically!) the false instincts (that is, to do the positive work with the negative). It could be said that psychoanalysis, which operates with a theory of the instincts in mind, in like fashion moves from its false versions in the form of its cases (neurotic and psychotic alike), to affirm and to redraw the characteristics of normal functioning. If the question of the "normal" is raised centrally here, it would be least of all as a part of the complex of questions that surround the notion of the human and of humanity...
photo: covering of ice grass, airplane, and massive re-built environment in San Diego (old barracks now shopping complex and playground)