Saturday, August 20, 2016

Eduardo Viveiros de Castro: Brazilian Perspectivism?!

... mais le passage de chaque tranche verticale de temps présent à la suivante
s'effectue de façon discontinue, par une sorte de saut qualitatif et
non par une progression chronométrique linéaire et continue...
Francis Bayer, De Schönberg à Cage

Le mouvement simple est une banalité. Eliminer l'élément temporel. Hier et aujourd'hui
come simmultanéité. La polyphonie dans la musique répondit dans une certaine mesure
à ce besoin... La peinture polyphonique est supérieure à la musique en ce sens que
l'élément temporel y est plutôt une donnée spatiale.
Ne définissons pas le donné présent comme tel, définissons dans
le passé et dans le futur; précisons largement, dans une perspective
multilatérale. Définir isolément le présent, c'est le tuer.
... alternance simultanée... il faudrait alors passer
[du rouge au vert, du vert au rouge] par saut...
Paul Klee (traduction par Pierre-Henri Gonthier)

Revenir, l'être de ce qui devient.
Gilles Deleuze

... ce oui-là ne s'efface plus... 
Le temps n'apparaît que depuis
cette singulière anachronie...
J. Derrida (L'Ouia), 
Joyce gramophone

It is said that Lévi-Strauss considered the work of Viveiros de Castro as highly innovative. In Castro’s From the Enemy’s Point of View we read sentences like this: “The invariant of the Tupi-Guarani cosmological structure is the metaphysical encompassment of the domain of the social by the macrodomain of the extrasocial [nature and supernature]. The interior of the socius and its values are subordinated to exteriority” (86-87). They challenge traditional sociological and anthropological views, which tend to understand ceremonies and rites as merely reflecting stable structures internal to a given society.

But on the whole how far does Viveiros de Castro's so called perspectivism go?

His conception of exteriority seems frustrating when compared to, for instance, Blanchot’s. This is a problem that goes beyond sociology and anthropology, and might have passed somewhat unnoticed even to Lévi-Strauss. 

Is it legitimate to conceive of a radical exteriority while maintaining concepts such as presence, pure negativity, and a conception of time which is, in the end, linear?*** 

In key moments of his argumentation, Viveiros de Castro does appeal to concepts such as, on the one hand, “full presence” (210), “presence and plenitude,” and, on the other, “pure negativity,” even if he insists that what is important is the “middle term” between them (252). It is true that he characterizes becoming as “neither identity nor contradiction,” and calls it “an ontological restlessness” (270). But the fact that he doesn’t subordinate “the future to the past” (as Florestan Fernandes does) (278) means very little. In the end, he does something worse: he subordinates future and past to the vortex of the present, to the “temporal cycle of vengeance.” The latter is for him “an absolute present” (291), in which one is “effectively present” (292, original emphasis), and whose aim is the “future” ahead (306).

To put it bluntly, this is time conceived linearly and chronologically, as an arrow. In Deleuze, for instance (and differently), we would have Aion besides Chronos, and they both make up a kind of primordial chaos (Logique du sens, p. 13-14, 77-78). This chaos is made of residues, corporeal and incorporeal. Displayed against this scenario, the Araweté’s notion of specter (ta’o we) (which suffers a “double corruption” transforming itself into a “dead opossum” after the corruption of the cadaver) seems rather something “corporeal” — Artaud’s corps-passoire — than the incorporeal of ancient Stoicism as suggested by Castro (From the Enemy’s Point of View 205-206). The latter is similar only to Araweté’s notion of celestial soul. But Castro says that when the celestial soul is finally cannibalized and scalded by the gods in the sky, “mourning” comes “to an end” (214). Then where are the residues? Without residues, what would be the meaning of the living as “middle term”? 

If my reading is fair, Castro’s “anthropological perspectivism” turns out to be flawed. What he calls “affirmation” (294) cannot be equated to Nietzsche’s. Castro’s conception is much more Hegelian (or rather romantic) than Nietzschean or truly post-structural. 

There is, however, another Brazilian intellectual who confronted similar problems more effectively: Haroldo de Campos — he understood the thought of authors such as Derrida much more thoroughly. In books such as O Sequestro do Barroco na Formação da Literatura Brasileira, Haroldo truly challenged the basis of Brazilian traditional conceptions of culture, which have always depended on a linear conception of time and history (as elsewhere in the Occident). In anthropology, Aracy Lopes da Silva is also worth mentioning. In the end of her book Nomes e Amigos: da prática Xavante à uma reflexão sobre Jê (1986), she engaged with concepts such as "difference" and "alterity" in a quite singular way. One of her main references was Pierre Clastres' conception of "primitive war" (fundamental also to Deleuze and Guattari's "Traité de Nomadologie" in Mille Plateaux). Her ideas, however, were not fully developped.

***Questions such as this emerge many times in the work of Derrida. I will quote just one passage which I have not referred elsewhere: "C'est cette evenementialité-là qu'il faut penser mais c'est elle qui résiste le mieux à ce que on appelle le concept... on ne la pensera pas tant qu'on se fiera... à une temporalité historique faite de l'enchaînement successif de présents identiques à eux-mêmes et d'eux-mêmes contemporains" (Spectres de Marx). 


Totonac carving 
c. 1500, Jalapa, Mexico
Image taken from Julian Bell's
Mirror of the World

*****See also:
- Liste des figures du chaos primordial: la cartographie;
- Écriture/Violence;
- Xingu and Rio +20;
- Jaguanhém;

And also:
- A Strategy for Writing: Contracting Contemplation in Budapeste and Leite Derramado;
- Luso-Brazilian Encounters of the Sixteenth-Century;
Ontological Excess & Metonymy;
- The Indians Who Came From Ophyr;
- Cannibalism and Women Gift in Early-Modern Period, Brazil;
- Santísima Trinidad del Parana;
- Misiones (Argentina);  

Friday, August 19, 2016

Facebookers, Pokemongoers & Francophonie

Mas um campo de concentração não é diferente.
Gerald Thomas, Entre Duas Fileiras

Suddenly, you find yourself thinking about ozone depletion, chiggers, and dead babies.
James St. James

... il aurait vu dans l'électricité de nos machines à écrire à la fois une exténuation de
l'électricité vivante et une violence retournée contre elle...
Jacques Derrida, Artaud le Moma

While the American Revolution had produced a republic, and a founding 
constitutional document, strong and flexible enough to survive until our own times, 
the French Revolution of 1789 had soon collapsed into terror and then Bonapartism. 
What explained these very different trajectories? Arendt's essential line of argument 
was that, in France, 'political' questions to do with freedom receded from the public 
stage to the degree that they were overtaken by utopian 'social' demands to end poverty. 
In the process, the very meaning of 'freedom' had been turned on its head... 
Peter Baehr

(Aleppo Media Center Image, edited)
- Boy in the Ambulance


(Alexandr Sokurov, La Francophonie, 2016)

"Avec ce qu'un Michelet (par exemple) dit de la patrie, de la nation et de la France, l'universalisme allégué ne peut s'accorder qu'à la condition d'une logique exemplariste dans laquelle nous avons reconnu la stratégie profonde de tous les nationalismes, patriotismes ou ethnocentrismes."

"France, affranchissement, fraternité."

"J'entends ce mot français au sens de la chasse, là où acharner revient à disposer un leurre de chair. Ce livre s'acharne lui-même auprès de la chose nommée France."

"... la fraternité n'est universelle que pour être d'abord française..." (ironique)

Jacques Derrida, Politiques de l'amitié (1994).

See also:
Facebook let companies read and delete your private messages (Vice News);
Google shut out privacy and security temas from secret China project (The Intercept);
- Google's "Smart City of Surveillance" Faces new Resistance in Toronto (The Intercept);
- Google Walkout: Employees Stage Protest Over Handling of Sexual Harassment (The New York Times);
- Facebook says it is deleting accounts at the direction of the U.S. and Israeli Governments (The Intercept);
- Google and Facebook are quitly fighting Californias' Privacy Right Iniciative (The Intercept);
- 'Facebook is a morality free zone': tech chief lambasted by MP (The Guardian);
- Facebook executive defends leaked memo saying growth is good even if 'someone dies in a terror attack' (The Independent);
- Facebook: is it time we all delete our accounts? (The Guardian);
- "Syria's civil war explained from the beginning" (Aljazeera);
- "Children trapped in building under attack in Aleppo" (The Guardian);

And also:
- Facebook, community Nudity...