Saturday, 11 June 2011

Nostalgia for what was not.

It is too easy to know everything, as long as it was recorded. Rarely, I glimpse a past that never was, a past that tugs at my chest and flashes brightly from behind my eyes. And then, it is gone. An echo might remain, just long enough to be remembered and then recognised at the next occurrence. Familiarity, an unreality, and not-reality always just out of reach. Sometimes, the historians among us catalog the signs of that history. These historians are inevitably like us, the forever unfulfilled and their actions, their motivations are understandable. Yet whenever they complete their work, the results are not dissimilar to violation. Private longings, invested affections, splendid imaginings all laid bare for the purpose of objective posterity. Once rendered, they become banal, generic and even hostile. Such is nostalgia.

I do not wish to take you to my own nostalgia zone, after all should we meet - and we would - then we would both know where and when. And so that place that never was, will be and through being brought into existence, it will be lost. Rather, I want you to come with me so we might explore a technique for comprehending those non-places, non-times without destroying them. But let me warn you, should you learn a way to and then spend too long there, the result will and can only be one of such minor grief that it will soon be forgotten. And to reduce something so fleeting and magnificent to a something to sad and insignificant as to be forgotten is a crime against beauty itself.

Have you read Deleuze? I have. So many times in fact that I hardly know what I know about him any more, so many times that I wonder were the fetishes different, the proclivities slightly tweaked, would the writing be my own? I may be arrogant but not sufficiently so to claim his as my own. My point is that the continual resonance I experience while reading him suggests an affinity more than superficial. Undoubtedly, not being the most astute nor informed participant in philosophy there is much that I miss, mistake and simply cannot see in him. Yet, roaming upon the logic within his pages, I find that I dig up, put together, am dug up and reconstructed in ways both familiar and foreign. I trace this affinity to Zen. As a young boy, I loved the seeming paradoxes of Zen Buddhism, the way that explanation of even the simplest principle would take such a long, convoluted path leading back to the initial utterance. A thought, a moment that must be apprehended as it exists. The elegance of Deleuze and of Zen is that we are allowed moments to experience non-existence.

Deleuze’s legendary equation:


Where n is the multiple and one is the single, unified whole. In the same way, Zen urges us to consider existence without a self. To me this has never been about mediation, trances or drug taking. Rather, non-existence is a subtraction of the self. Now, while this is clearly impossible, this is also what makes it possible, for there are simply too many gaps and just too much infinity for our stubborn assemblages of culture, memory and language to categorise and cognise.

Thus, the rush toward and the flight away from our infinity realm nostalgia, the accompanying anticipation and loss is an integral part of the experience. It is an unpredictable recurring melody relying equally on the movement in space between as on the articulations themselves. The momentary fragment may not be inhabited for longer than the time taken to see it, but it may be recognised as always existing.
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