Ordering Ideas into Ideology

(Continuing the extra-text essay)

Hume did acknowledge nature and patterns of life. He merely argued against reason and rationality. I.E. For Hume, life was too great to contain, despite Man’s efforts of explanation, Life overcame.  This idea has resonance on Diamond Signature. Hume also says that it’s habit that future resembles the past, but it doesn’t make it true. It’s not a fact.  Rimbaud, in this work, builds the linear nature of order as a straw man in which to respond to.  But is it the fallacy of logic Rimbaud is so against? If logic is flawed, because man itself it illogical, why does mankind produce “’a universe of order’, ‘the predictability of the tides’” which sounds a lot like habit.  Hume saw natural order or human nature as largely habit, not an absolute and unquestionable certainty. The failure of social revolutions isn’t inevitable like the tide.  They fail because habit.  Those with no power speak purple prose about liberty, then when they get power, they become megalomaniacs to keep it.  This “order” is different than natural order. Natural order doesn’t follow analytical or scientific logic.  Nature is organized, but a priori, with a logic internal to itself.

17 August 2014 8:35pm.

In taking queue from Hume, all knowledge is from experience. Hume is an empiricist. Knowledge is in impressions and ideas.  Ideas are weaker, more distilled, forms of knowledge, and impressions are immediate. The audio lecturer uses example of a hand clap.  The impression is an immediate hand clapping. The idea is a memory of it, which gets more removed from the clap itself.  The more distant the impression, the more the idea and ideology grows.

This book enquires into the nature of memory, how ideas become ideology.  The inquiry is unsystematic, but it’s there.  It’s lack of narrative coherence is because it tries to present the debate, the fears and feelings, and some historical examples. Present instead of represent. For Hume, matters of fact – relative truth, are created by impressions. But then, if impressions can be falsified, then that last straw of attainable truth can be denied. Matters of fact are contingently true, not what must be true.

How we remember the past doesn’t change the past

(continuing the page-by-page analysis from summer 2013)

He then goes from questioning personal self to cultural histories, “These cultures come and go with a boundless enthusiasm for histories that might never have existed.” (Pg 9).  The Post-modern question sliding from personal to macro-political.  Body and soul. Form and content. Turn from form into content.   [Here’s where I rejected part of the books premise and I still do.  For me, the past existed.  What we know of it now might be shaped through interpretation of history or revising the past to suit and justify the present.  But the past as a material reality existed.  Then it had its own cultural cloud and now it has a different one.  But there’s so much evidence supporting that life existed in the past, that to deny the material reality completely because the explanation or rationalization has been altered, seems to me a logical fallacy that deconstruction falls into with separating the author from what they write on purely philosophical grounds. The separation which leads to being irresponsible for what happened in the past.  Chief example, “Paul DeMann” and the Death of the Author being related to his separating himself from his incriminating Nazi sympathizing articles he wrote during World War Two ]  The narrator responds to this threat of Void, “If there is nothing, I too am nothing. So how can I describe for what this means to me? Easy, I do not dream alone. I’ll borrow words and the pasts that they describe.” (pg 9). 

Deny our memories but you can’t deny our touch impressions

16 August 2014 11:53pm.

All along I’ve been comparing this work to post-modernist philosophy.  But as I listen to an audio lecture on modern thought, this work relates well to David Hume’s skepticism and empiricism.   Hume reduces experience to perceptions, which he distinguishes impressions from ideas.  In his “An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding” (1748) he writes, “By the term impression, then, I mean all our more lively perceptions, when we hear, or see, or feel, or love, or hate or desire or will. And impressions are distinguished from ideas, which are less lively perceptions, of which we are conscious, when we reflect on any of those sensations or movements above mentioned…All our ideas or more feeble perceptions are copies of our impressions or more lively ones.”  In short, an experience degrades into a memory or idea. Memory or ideas can be doubted, altered by the mind over time. The memory of a clap is less than the initial sensation.  Thus, Hume questions the authority of ideas and privileges experience and immediacy.

If perceptions are questionable, then experience can be doubted.  He wrote from a time when atoms were a belief, a corpuscular reality that infinitely small “invisible” particles made up material reality. Because he doubted the invisible and science theory, he doubted matter.  He gets away with these abstract claims by the concept of probability. It’s not always  100 percent certain that an event will happen in the future, thus physics is questionable to the nth degree, and therefore reality and subjectivity is doubtable.  This is known as pure phenomenalism.

Lobotomist, the knife, and re-claiming sexuality

First reference to the lobotomist, “These are virgin births. Yes, the lobotomist is bathed in light.” (pg 7), and after an inane conversation with an old lady at the café, he asks, “Have I so demeaned my body that I am no longer seen to exist?”(pg 7). Existence without body is not existence.  “I speak with a voice that is not mine, articulate platitudes with great facility.” (Pg 7). He desires to attain a more meaningful existence.

First reference to Lilith, pg 7.

Example of word play, “I tear myself from the seat. The reality that I leave behind groans in bodiless anguish.” (pg 7).

First Christ ref, pg 7.

The narrator throws up outside the supermarket, “the puke is the only true reiteration of my existence. I’m sick of the sight of myself.” (pg 8). Puke being abjected from the body.  A form of self/non-self that’s a more bodily rejection that excrement which is more routine self-purging.  Then “Vade ad gehennan”, approximately “Go to the Valley of Hinnom, (Valley of the Wicked).”  Possible footnote required for clarity.

From there, the critical question, “Is my body now so lost? Is it drowned in seas of guilt and remorse? What kind of inheritance is this?” and the brilliant image describing social/cultural suppression of sexuality in one phrase, “I’ve got the balls for it, but they’re bound in cotton-wool rhetoric.” (pg 8).  Followed by the defeatist-not-yet-defeated “So how do I reclaim a lost manhood when in all probability that manhood was never found in the first place?…For as long as I fear the stirring of my own sexuality, I am lost.” (pg 8). The question of searching for his body is asked like the question of searching for identity.

Immediately after these questions, he first refers to his schoolboy photo and questions his association with the way he represented as a child. It’s the larger theme of reconciling static images of repressed public self with the fluid, personal evolving self.

“The Diamond Signature: A sub-contract reality”

(Original attempt to write about Rimbaud’s Diamond Signature begins here)

Early July 2013

Notes on Penny Rimbaud’s “Diamond Signature”  beginning July 2013. Note: actual quotations are Italicized in bold.

One of the most difficult aspects of this book is the lyrical nature of the philosophy.  Although contained within it are brilliant images or linguistic sets that linger for years in my memory, its abstract nature makes it daunting to explore.  One of my intentions is to map a coherent logical argument as best as I can.  Although the book’s overall tone is bleak and possibly defeatist, it responds to defeatism.  The book is not without its content and stylistic merits.

To enable a more thorough look at the flow of the book, I intend to summarize key points in each its sections.  It’s divided into 4 books. Within each book are 10-20 parts.  Each Book begins with a passage from Walt Whitman’s poem “I Sing the Body Electric”.

At the end of the book Diamond Signature, is a spoken word discourse that divides the main points of view of the story into characters Yes, No, and Maybe.  The book offers a well-spoken, well-written summary of the Diamond Signature, but I’m returning to the book itself to look at the more raw writing, hoping to get better insight into the book’s intent.


Full title:  “The Diamond Signature:  A sub-contract reality”

Beginning epitaph from Genesis 1, about God dividing dark from light, earth from sky, body from soul.

Book One: I Sing the Body Electric.

Part One. The Tempest.  

The opening scene is of a man and woman making love on a city rooftop, on a bed of white.  Here’s the first of many questions the narrator asks, “Why white?” (pg 5)

Her answer is she’s white because she’s the virgin of his dreams to be used.

He wants to celebrate his own name and identity in exalted tones across the drab skyline.

The narrator refers to the subsequent story as his “satori”, Japanese word for Sudden Awakening.

Says his touch distorts everything, but  “the lines are so well described.” (pg 6).  Here he establishes his theme of lines and perspectives.

First reference to the knife, a reoccurring theme: “I pay for the tea, toast and egg. I slice the yoke. In a stroke the deep yellow follows the knife across the plate…already there are redefinitions.” (pg 6). Knife, slicing, redefinition.  This turns to body and cutting later.

Writing to Crass lyricist and philosopher Penny Rimbaud

So, in April 2013 I contacted Penny Rimbaud, saying his book “Diamond Signature and Death of the Imagination” has post modern significance. It’s a product of its time, it has literary merit, and deserves a critical reading.

To my surprise, he wrote back two weeks later saying it was a good idea, and he appreciated my attention to his more abstract writing, which to him was primary to his soul.  Punk, as he’s known best, is more a vessel for spreading his words.  I ordered this book last summer and wrote a line by line page analysis until October 2013 where I stopped at page 56.  Other things got in the way. I wasn’t in the mind for it. I was overwhelmed.  Now, July 2014, I hope to resume.  Why?  To finish what I started.  Why? Because this book begs a response. His style unique and his position pounded so clear. It should be looked at not as a gospel of truth, but as an insular voice – listen to – spoken to, interpreted.  It is post modern and more. A dialog open.