Expenditure and Dance

One must become nothing,

Again and again,

Lost in the flames.

The rational mind is fine-tuned, engineered to maximize production. A rational man has the content of experience filtered through the questions “how can this make me money? How can I get more?” Rationality is a construction of capital which attempts to justify it. It presents the image of a perfect rationality of self-interest, of accumulation, and proclaims that capital has finally allowed this rational man to thrive and become free. However, this is only the perfect image of rationality in that it is a product of the system which forms it, thus being ‘perfect’ within it. The bourgeois myth of rationality tells us “this is rational man, and capital will allow him to thrive” but this truly means the man which capital allows to thrive becomes the archetype of rationality within this system.

This regime of rationality produces and is reproduced by capitalist subjects. These subjects believe they are transhistorical, and hold on dearly to their concept of a transcendental subject. The economic calculation problem (ECP) is a perfect example of the way this rationality functions and presupposes its own validity. They evaluate communism with the metrics they set for a good capitalist economy; they presuppose a capitalist rationality when they say communism can’t be rational. It’s criticizing a movement which aims to negate a regime of rationality from the very view point they wish to demolish.

A mind of science or rationality attempts to statically represent existence, to stabilize everything and repress chaos, but chaos is the movement of the universe, thus always breaking down the rational repression of it. Chaos, as said by Deleuze-Guattari “is defined, not so much by its disorder as by the infinite speed with which every form taking shape in it vanishes. It is a void that is not a nothingness but a virtual, containing all possible particles and drawing out all possible forms, which spring up only to disappear immediately, without consistency or reference, without consequence.” (Deleuze and Guattari) Existence is constantly fleeting, utterly new conditions and possibilities at every instant with no discernible moment. The scientific man essentially attempts to count the sand in a dessert, blind to tendencies and becomings. The breakdown of this mind allows us to move along with consistency, ‘cutting through the chaos’.

There is negation of our existence which is necessary to be called “rational”. This is a core idea of Freud’s work Civilization and its Discontents, that despite the alienation and restriction in rationality it is ultimately preferable to the animalistic, ‘barbaric’ nature of the alternative. But whereas freud would say this restriction is rational and necessary — it civilized man so it must remain in tact essentially — Bataille challenges this, taking more interest in the animal in man, dealing with desire rather than the intricacies of the understanding. Similar to Stirner, rationality is but an authority — it replaced the parents — that represses desire for the sake of productivity, or utility, or any “higher cause”. These negations separate us from our abilities. The dichotomy of an animal or the current state of civilized man is false. It assigns a universality to this productivist structure of the mind, and fails to take into account the space between the rational and irrational: a motion towards a new rationality.

Any given regime of rationality is a homogeneity, one which cannot function without its lower, supposedly inferior heterogeneous parts. It’s the ‘mad’ or the ‘evil’ or the ‘queer’, or the ‘jew’ etc. These heterogeneous parts can not be consumed, they are shown aggression, exploited for profit, and attempted to be destroyed. But they always return, they are the ones who create and who change. Deviation brings potential for the new. (a deviant act is not necessarily a “good” or “beneficial” one, I only claim it is what brings the possibility for change.) Not only resisting production, but simply ignoring the need to produce value which is pushed on us. To dance, to do something “useless” to the modern man, it is an act of communism, an act of destruction to create potential. Fanon recognized the importance of dance and its ability to break the social restriction called custom, saying, “Everything is permitted in the dance circle. The hillock, which has been climbed as if to get closer to the moon, the river bank, which has been descended whenever the dance symbolizes ablution, washing, and purification, are sacred places. Everything is permitted, for in fact the sole purpose of the gathering is to let the supercharged libido and the stifled aggressiveness spew out volcanically.” Dance allows the pure flow of energy, the continuity of all matter. It allows one to fall into the ground and feel pure motion. A motion which the subject restricts, and whose heat is felt in continuity. Lacan may see his trinity of the structure of existence as a necessary function, Bataille seems to break it down. He wants to go beyond the confines of the subject and what Lacan calls imaginary and symbolic. He wants to stay in the heat of the Real, letting himself melt away into existence, into the general movement.

To break down down the rational subject is to escape mental experience and let yourself become fire, losing yourself in the ashes of everything you’ve known and regaining yourself, to feel the heartbeat of the world. The process of breakdown is filled with anguish and death, a rupture of your discontinuous experience as it melts together and separates, becoming. Antoni Artaud is not an individual, and — as with Nietzsche — each text, even each paragraph, is an assemblage of different concepts, meaning different things in different contexts. Artaud even proclaims his turn away from capitalist rationality into the abyss, saying,

“I have chosen the domain of sorrow and shadow as others have chosen that of the glow and the accumulation of things.

I do not labor within the scope of any domain.

My only labor is in eternity itself”

Artaud cannot be held in a territory, for he is immanence. He has lost himself and become the connection between things, producing untimely concepts and aimlessly dancing. He is tethered to nothing and connected to everything. Artaud and Nietzsche are, “Untimely or Inactual — the unhistorical vapor that has nothing to do with the eternal, the becoming without which nothing would come about in history but that does not merge with history?” (Deleuze & Guattari) The work of Artaud was an active laceration of the head, an arrangement of concepts sending one into madness, situated necessarily in non-being. This laceration increases the potentialities of the thinkers connections, making him nomadic. This is made clear when Deleuze-Guattari say “Artaud said: to write for the illiterate — to speak for the aphasic, to think for the acephalous. But what does “for” mean? It is not “for their benefit,” or yet “in their place.” It is “before.” It is a question of becoming. The thinker is not acephalic, aphasic, or illiterate, but becomes so. He becomes Indian, and never stops becoming so — perhaps “so that” the Indian who is himself Indian becomes something else and tears himself away from his own agony. We think and write for animals themselves. We become animal so that the animal also becomes something else”

Baudrillard criticizes Bataille’s concept of the general economy as still trapped in the symbolic, but this is exactly what the general movement escapes, and to me what the entire project of Bataille aims to articulate. Falling into the abyss holds no symbolic value, it is truly Nothing. 0 is nothing and signifies nothing. Expenditure’s only function as a sign is to erode the duality of signs, bringing them to their eventual point of destruction. A destruction which returns to continuity, with the subject/object as well as the signifier/signified split destroyed, thus making it an active threat to any existing power structure, any semblance of stability crumbles in Expenditure’s movement. Expenditure is the “sign which does not signify”, and threatens order, as Evan Jack recognized, saying “What is to be argued later on in this essay is that what is signified in expenditure is NOTHING, that is to say, what is signified in expenditure is that base sign which doesn’t signify but corrodes other signs. Thus, what will be argued is that expenditure is the only thing which can contest immaterial power, as Bifo would say, or hyperreality, as Baudrillard would say, or as I would say, expenditure is the only thing that can contest semiocapitalism.” It throws existence into indiscernible continuity; the subject and object, the signifier and signified, are broken down and lost in the flame of becoming. It is the tendency towards destruction which rational man cannot see until catastrophe explodes in his face, he too is lost in the flames of the explosion, shedding his shame, and with it the subject and the construct of ‘rational man’. The structure of the subject — the symbolic and the imaginary repressing the Real — lost in contradiction as the heat of the Real becomes too much.



Anarchist and Communist, affinity for schizoanalysis and ‘post-structuralism’

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Marxian Ivy

Anarchist and Communist, affinity for schizoanalysis and ‘post-structuralism’