[-empyre-] the first thought

Nicholas Ruiz III editor at intertheory.org
Wed Jan 6 09:45:42 EST 2010

Many thanks to our guests and contributors for their intimacy and time this month.

In contemplation of all our commentary, it has been helpful for me to revisit the idea that we should recognize a relativity principle regarding our prospective and perspective complicities in the world as it stands. 

Our complicities, be they in art, or elsewhere, enact a set of circumstances we lovingly embrace, begrudgingly endure, or something between. 

Such is the 'fait accompli' of complicity, I think. And such an accomplishment - whatever our interests - allows for the contests that will render the variety of judgments we allow, from the thought that Kapoor's giant bean is a 'success,' to the idea that Obama's shotgun Peace Prize represents an 'honor.' There is a spectrum of complicity that involves us all, I agree.

I suppose the way we are faced each night and day with what we have worked to bring forward is focused by that relativity. And I wonder if a complicit side order of optimism is served equally well, with at least a garnish of pessimism? How else to know how our loyalties have been honored or betrayed? A default, difficult psychological buoyancy seems hopelessly moored to one occurrence of theoretical flotsam and jetsam.

What is in art, or politics, for example, the oligarchical fold that disallows the diverse experiences that so many of our posts seem to desire and value? Does the representative outcome of our complicity with that fold produce better circumstances - in art, or politics? Or does it instead, induce a logic that values image and branding above all else? If some theorists and activists alike surmise that we are subsequently complicit in the production of, increasingly, lower quality art and politics - should we disagree?

Perhaps, as Dienstag describes, with regard to the first biological thought, our creative enterprises are necessary accomplices in the questioning of whether or not art, or politics, for that matter, should continue? As for the relevance of that first thought here,  it is simply, that 'things could be otherwise.' Dienstag:

"'Things could be otherwise' thus meets the two tests I proposed for the first thought. It enables further thought by happening upon the generalizations of existence and time. These are the basic tools that allow thought to continue. And this thought also points to the value of thought with its attempt at negation, which holds out the prospect of an end of suffering." (262)

I agree that it is disingenuous to belie our complicity with the world and its discontents, and because of this, wonder, how well equipped we are to question it? Pessimism and negation - the implements of any vital discernment - are indispensable in that regard; so that we may discern among objects of complicity, and also discern the arts of being complicit.

The extent and manner in which we adapt and adopt positions in the world engender a whole other aspect to the 'art' of complicity, apart from the objects rendered in complicity: styles, fashions, strategies, and so on...all certainly political, in the most basic anthropic sense. Does creative complicity sabotage justice? Perhaps. So will we have justice? It's not that there will not be any, but that there will only be some. And that precious share is what is at stake.


 Nicholas Ruiz III, Ph.D
NRIII for Congress 2010
Editor, Kritikos

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