[-empyre-] week four: Pain, Suffering, and Death in the Virtual

Alan Sondheim sondheim at panix.com
Thu Oct 25 15:25:18 EST 2012

On Wed, 24 Oct 2012, Maria Damon wrote:

> Dear all,
> Alan, Peter, thanks for your comments. I'm in a slightly awkward position of 
> being in MLA-DAOC meetings through Friday, so my ability to really post with 
> an appropriate fullness of attention is somewhat compromised right now. 
> Peter, this is really powerful. Biting the hand that feeds one?that is, ones 
> own hand?seems an angry rejection of a life that has betrayed one?an 
> appropriate response to an overwhelming loss.
> Alan can you say more about what you mean by the "ultimate collapse" in 
> relation to the "ultimate risk/control of the body by the self"? there seems 
> to be a tension between these two concepts, control and collapse.
> The word "smart," btw, also is related to "mord," with the sharpness of 
> intelligence apparently a very late development in the word's history 
> compared to the sharpness of stinging or other pain.
> Is intelligence a kind of suffering, pain and death?
> "Si on sait tout, c'est la mort."

I think of ultimate control as leading (as in category theory, which I'm 
trying now to understand) to a _terminal object,_ which absorbs everything 
- cutting is among many other relevant things, an exerting of control over 
the body, but it also reduces the body to a cipher; catatonia is another 
example. I knew an anorectic artist years ago who was going with someone 
incredibly wealthy; she said that her greatest joy was to have him take 
her to an expensive restaurant; she'd then go into the restaurant bathroom 
and vomit everything up; this was control; she was also on heroin; this 
was cipher. Vito's piece demarcated and imagined the control-space of the 
mouth on the body; it also reduced the body to meat with an uncanny 
relationship to eating.

On a light note, MLA - I was invited years ago to speak in San Francisco - 
they - someone - flew me out. I couldn't relate to anyone there - so I 
ended up staying up to 3-4 am - roaming around the meeting rooms and 
gathering up the graffitied napkins - I felt I was a ghost haunting the 
conference. I felt I didn't belong - the control was in taking the rooms 
over in the night - the cipher was in the non-entity I felt and knew I was 
at the event. So it veered between 0 and 1 or 1 and 0 or null and non-null 
- but there was also incredible pleasure in the roaming - as there may be 
in cutting as well.

To return the question - does knowledge bring pain? Are they en/tranced?

- Alan

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