Monday, May 9, 2016

wall of clouds

"No one is better than Proust at giving the sense that the true interest of a psyche, a landscape, or indeed a sentence may be actually inexhaustible."
--Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, from "The Weather in Proust"
Sedgwick's suggestion, which aligns psyche, landscape, and sentence, as units, or concept-units measured out by an inexhaustible "true interest," speaks to the problem of state change, of the extent to which change in degree also spans a qualitative realm, and how a shifting of interest may or may not bring into question the "trueness"--here, the aspect, perhaps of being "steady, firm, and dependable in allegiance or devotion to a loved one, friend, leader, group, or cause : not false or perfidious" forms a slight tension in relation to "trueness" as "conformable to fact," or as "conformable to nature, reality, or an original : accurate in delineating or expressing the essential elements." What is there in this connection between "trueness" and a condition of "inexhaustible" interest? Where does the psyche/landscape/sentence stand in relation to this "true interest"? 

State change. Cloud formation. Later: an idea about the sublimation of snow, under conditions of low temperatures, high winds, sun, and low air pressure, snow becomes vapor, passing directly rather than moving through liquidity. A rain shadow wind, a wind whose moisture is expended windward and becomes dry leeward, expending nothing, except itself. The "Chinook Arch," a cloud formation that appears as a gathering storm, a wall of clouds, elevated; below the wall, sky is visible above the horizon. This is one of the few illusions the Minnesotan sky engages in, foreboding (or not) snow. This illusiveness is/appears inexhaustible. Inexhaustible, in the sense of only just barely existing. The sense of having an awareness of something being held up, being held, period, having a sense somewhere that this is false even as, through its continued persistence, it appears, in an aspect, true. 

Sublimation, as state change: the "path of energy of the sex drive or impulse towards nonsexual activities" (Laplanche, "To Situate Sublimation"). Yet, in Loewald, in Heimann, even in Laplanche, the suggestion is otherwise, about the kind of transformation effected. Laplanche: "although sublimation is most often regarded as a transformation of some sexual activity into nonsexual activity, as a 'destined impulse', we find several passages where what is in question is the genesis of objects, of myths or illusions" (9). At the edges of this transformation, then, the production of illusion. Commenting on Freud's reading of Leonardo, Laplanche notes how two subliminatory activities take place--pictorial creation and scientific investigation--so that the questions raised by these different activities allows him to "dwell on this notion, so crucial in psychoanalysis": "of an impossibility of transformation, i.e., the fact that in certain areas the passage from, the conversion of, some site into another, some psychic reality into another, is not possible in both directions" (10). If counting in the idea delineated in the windworks above, of an omitted step--for what reasons we might not know, or know yet--then reasons for the irreversibility of this passage or conversion can be seen as already constitutive of the state change, but in addition to this, can yield the state change as less of a transformation from one thing to another, in response to concern for the existential aspect of the before and after, and more as an elaboration of the integrity of the unit-concept--the psyche, landscape, or sentence. 

Through "To Situate Sublimation," Laplanche makes use of what he calls a "dihedron model" to illustrate the idea of reciprocity (labeled dihedron, between mastery (the drive to know) and sado-masochism; top) against the possibility of "another, non-"mutual" way of understanding the return from sadism toward sublimated activities" (unlabeled dihedron; bottom).

He writes, "For example, we an imagine something that would resemble a refolding of the sexual level back into the level of self-preservation" (15). The level of self-preservation, drawn by Freud as that which takes place in distinction to the sexual (and thus here, on the side of mastery or the drive to know) thus can be seen to hold the same place as that of the sublimated activities, if such reciprocity were to be maintained. In Laplanche's reading, however, the drive to know already "'works with the energy of Schaulust', the drive or desire to see" (15). He writes, 
The activity of seeing is thus considered to consist of two sections, one nonsexual and self-preservative [the other, "the sexual drive to see" forms the other aspect of this "propping movement"]: after all, sight enables each creature endowed with it to orient himself in the world, quite apart from any question of sexual pleasure, and from this point of view Freud links it directly to touch: the act of seeing is an extension of the act of touching. This is linked to the whole Freudian theory of perception, which views perception as consisting of a sending out of feelers, of sensitive tentacles, at rhythmic intervals. Imagine the cilia of a protozoan or the horns of a snail endowed with a kind of in and out movement...indeed, the snail's horns do bear sight organs. That is the image Freud has in mind when he connects sight to touch and compares it to a gathering in of samples from the outside world. The non-sexual activity of seeing, in the propping process, becomes a drive to see as soon as it becomes representative, that is, the interiorization of a scene. (15)
Working across the arrows, then, is this register of a passing through seeing, something which we can glimpse as dislocated from either side. In what sense is this "extension" of touching to seeing an illusive "genesis of objects" even when it appears merely as state change or transformation? 

In the above, it's hard not to read the "one nonsexual and self-preservative" as "one nonsexual and one self-preservative," since this highlights the way in which the return appears and is not the same. Laplanche, further: 
Here we have what I was trying to indicate with regard to the dihedron schema, namely, that the plane of self-preservation is so defective that in certain cases it can be almost virtual and cannot be made active other than at the moment when the right-hand plane (sexuality), as it is called, arouses it. Thus we have a propping reinforced or buttressed by something it has itself brought into being. In other words, the notion of propping still holds surprises. (16; italics mine)
I wonder, in relation to some of the point of outset, whether it is the idea of propping itself, or this notion of "still holds surprises" that could be imagined as a condition of inexhaustibility. Is it, instead, not the "true" interest that is inexhaustible, but the defective one? Or, in what aspect must the true appear so as to appear "defective"? There is a later link made between sublimation and repression, which Laplanche describes as the type of propping associated with sublimation, which is, as fitting for sublimation, the "most rarest and most perfect." Here, "the libido stands aloof from representation, it is sublimated from the beginning into the desire to know and reinforces or buttresses the already powerful drive to investigate" (21). Being sublimated "from the beginning," the libido does not stand outside, as an indication of this non-mutual investment; Laplanche notes, "sublimation is not a repression and yet there is still a turning back" (21). But in/of what does the turning back consist? To which: a defective site of an activity of perception on a plane almost virtual, an inexhaustibility that continues to yield a "turning back," a rain shadow wind, a wall of clouds. 

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