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Dear Diana and Jerome,
 
Yes, Jerome, this is the constant problem.  To attribute any idea to Heidegger, Lacan, and Derrida is, precisely, to assume that something or someone or whatever had/ said/ thought/ asserted (whatever) those ideas.  Why even use their names?  What are names but assumptions of agency?  Yet contemporary theory makes names a new canon of great thoughts--presumably thoughts no one had, though the named get credit.
 
As for "agency":  To say that "thoughts occurred" may be aptly to question the Romantic notion of self as prior to any specific idea, as opposed to being constructed by an already existing world of discourse.  One may agree or disagree.  But even in a world of discourse that constructs, there must be selection (since there are different thoughts attributed to different names--or else there would be no reason for Derrida to "say" anything different from Plato), and that takes us back to the original question, because to select is to be an agent.
 
To say "agency occurred" is not at all analogous because the very meaning of "agency" is action or acting, having power to do something.  If there is no agency, Heidegger, Lacan, and Derrida cannot be said to have said anything.  If there is, something is left over, always some residue of whatever makes anything occur.  If only thoughts occur, they must exist in some possibly Platonic realm where there is nothing but thought.  I don't happen to think that makes sense.
 
I think a significant comparison is between a notion of some actual "death" of the author and the question "What Is an Author?"  Foucauld's question recognizes that words in some order, aesthetic or otherwise, get written by some agent.  They do not appear spontaneously like Dickens's character's "spontaneous combustion."  Why, for example, do we bother having any discussion of Eliot if there was no Eliot but only words that somehow "occurred" in the form of TWL?  Why attribute TWL to Eliot?  Or anyone?
 
I think, as in so many issues, when a fallacy or flaw is recognized in a basic concept, as in the "cogito," the typical response is to decide that the total opposite is the truth.  So much theory did that.  But it is as absurd to deny anything called "self" (however that is newly defined) as to accept the Romantic "I" prior to all experience.  It seems amazing that all the world and all language and history and literature would conspire to produce a poem save only who- or whatever puts black marks on paper.
 
I am quite sure I exist, as I said and that I am writing to others who, like Diana, do write poems that do not spontaneously appear in a Platonic realm without any participation by anyone or anything named "Diana."   
Cheers,
Nancy
>>> Jerome Walsh <[log in to unmask]>01/11/10 8:18 PM >>>
Dear Diana,

I appreciate that people like Heidegger, Lacan, and Derrida have made such statements.  But wouldn't it be more accurate to say that such statements occurred, rather than attributing them to individuals who are mere "linguistic implications"?  My point is that, no matter whether one calls the identity of the thinker a "concocted answer" or not, we can't really discourse (or, I would say, think) without it.

Jerry


From: Diana Manister <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Mon, January 11, 2010 5:17:56 PM
Subject: Re: Eliot's poetry: the medium & the message

Dear Jerry,
 
Heidegger's point, and Lacan's, and Derrida's, is that the question "who is doing the thinking?" elicits a concocted answer.
 
Dear Nancy,
 
Please say more about "agency occurs" being an oxymoron. As I said, Bertrand Russell used this syntax when he said "Thoughts occurred" in response to Descartes' positing a self who created the thoughts.
 
Diana
 

Date: Mon, 11 Jan 2010 17:34:45 -0500
From: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Eliot's poetry: the medium & the message
To: [log in to unmask]

It seems to me not only permitted but essential.  "Agency occurs" is an oxymoron.  This language does not, to me, resolve anything no matter who says it or how often.  I think two things are conflated here: consciousness and "I." I do not doubt at all the notion of the unconscious or subconscious.  But a subconscious or unconscious experience still is not detached from any human--or probably animal--existent, regardless of what term you use for that.  I think the whole shift to discourse is the extreme opposite of the assumption of the Romantic "Self," and equally open to challenge. 
Nancy

>>> Jerome Walsh 01/11/10 3:57 PM >>>
But, Diana, is it not permitted to ask who thinks?  And to answer, "I do"?

Jerry Walsh, biblical lurker


From: Diana Manister <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Mon, January 11, 2010 2:47:26 PM
Subject: Re: Eliot's poetry: the medium & the message

Dear Nancy,
 
The I definitely exists, but only as a linguistic implication. Agency occurs without the I.
 
Why is it necessary to ask who thinks? As Russell said, "thoughts occur."
 
Jameson's book "The Prison House of Language" notes among many other things how language forces the identification of the agent. Without language, verbing could verb without a subject.
 
This is Heidegger's great contribution: unselfconscious agency. When absorbed in coping, we are transparent to ourselves, as is any equipment we use. Action occurs without the subject or the object existing in consciousness.
 
Diana
 

Date: Mon, 11 Jan 2010 15:05:53 -0500
From: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Eliot's poetry: the medium & the message
To: [log in to unmask]

I don't disagree with any of this.  But it seems to me really concerned with what we mean by "self" or "I"--not whether some agency must exist.  I'm not addressing the meaning of "self" or the necessity of consciousness; I am simply pointing to the fact that to discuss it all, there must exist (note passive voice) some residue of agency, whatever you call it, that does the discussing or challenges the definition.  To claim there is only discourse would, I presume, mean that discourse exists.  But how if no agency discourses?  I don't find any of the theories get at this, and I did, as I said, read a lot on it once. 
 
For example, if no "I" exists, who or what is your "you" who/that thinks of it?  That is the conundrum I am noting. And I do not think it is simple at all--no one, in any case, seems to solve it.
Cheers,
Nancy

>>> Diana Manister 01/11/10 2:57 PM >>>
Dear Nancy,
 
No doubt experiences are experienced, but does that mean some self is experiencing them? 
 
Heidegger took on the philosophical tradition with his description of Dasein as a way of being in the world as selfless agency; going through a door unthinkingly, hammering a nail without cognition of "hammer," "nail" or "I", is primordial coping. A squirrel doesn't have to think of itself as an "I" to climb a tree, a bird learns to fly without intellection. Dasein deals or copes in that a priori manner, in Heidegger's philosophy. He was the first philosopher to write seriously about primordial non-intellectual agency, filling a gap in Western metaphysics.
 
No I exists until you think of it. Simple as that.
 
Not to stray too far from TSE, it seems to me that his poetry problematized the self to extent that was extraordinary for Modernism.
 
Diana
 

Date: Mon, 11 Jan 2010 13:23:38 -0500
From: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Eliot's poetry: the medium & the message
To: [log in to unmask]

Dear Diana,
 
Actually, theories come and go, and I have never accepted this one.  I am really quite sure I am having them--all theorists to the contrary--I have theory also and a no-doubt antiquated certainty that I exist.  What "I" am is another problem. 
 
At one point I read a great deal about this, and I never found in any philosophical or theoretical text any explanation for a residue of agency.  I can't be specific without going back to all that, but I never feel bound by current theories.  And none were, as far as I could tell, complete or satisfying on this.  Who or what even can claim that experiences or thoughts occur? It is an endless cycle.  What is the origin or agency or whatever you choose that produced the claim below that experience occurs?
 
Cheers,
Nancy

>>> Diana Manister 01/11/10 10:24 AM >>>
Dear Peter:
 
It's so outré to talk about consciousness. Neuroscience can't find it, philosophy can't describe it, or psychology either.
 
David Chalmers calls finding consciousness "the hard problem." "Impossible" is a more fitting adjective.
 
Postmodern criticial theory deconstructs consciousness as a function of language. I and You are discursive only, linguistic implications.
 
Experiences occur, thoughts occur. That doesn't mean anyone is having them.
 
Diana
 
 
 
> RE: Aristotle -- the old mantra was time = the measure of motion
> but it only makes sense that he understood motion as
> change.
>
> The thing is, it doesn't matter how good the measurement is,
> or how independent of the observer it is, if some kind of
> result, however accurate or misperceived, doesn't get through
> to some consciousness connected to the measuring, then of
> what use or abuse is it?
>
> Today, given current technology, it takes about a year to get to Mars.
> Given a new Canadian invention which has a way of heating the
> rocket plasma [layman's terms] to unheard of degrees, it will take only
> three months.
>
> Where is consciousness in relation to the result, not to mention the
> development of those technologies?
>
> "To be conscious is not to be in time"
>
> Cheers,
> Peter
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Jonathan Crowther" <[log in to unmask]>
> To: <[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: Sunday, January 10, 2010 5:59 AM
> Subject: Re: Eliot's poetry: the medium & the message
>
>
> > Peter
> >
> > For Aristotle doesn't motion = change rather than only mechanical
> > locomotion?
> >
> > I understand that the quantum effects of measurement / observation work
> with
> > a measuring device which is only conscious in the sense of having been
> made
> > by a consciousness? So separate in one sense (physically) but not in
> > another (causally): an unseen eyebeam?
> >
> > Jonathan
> >
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: T. S. Eliot Discussion forum. [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf
> > Of Peter Montgomery
> > Sent: 06 January 2010 22:43
> > To: [log in to unmask]
> > Subject: Re: Eliot's poetry: the medium & the message
> >
> > I think Aristotle said time is the measure of motion.
> > For me, time is the measure of change.
> >
> > Does measurement exist separate from the consciousness that does it?
> >
> > P.
> > ----- Original Message -----
> > From: "Chokh Raj" <[log in to unmask]>
> > To: <[log in to unmask]>
> > Sent: Sunday, January 03, 2010 7:07 AM
> > Subject: Re: Eliot's poetry: the medium & the message
> >
> >
> > For
> >
> > "only in time can the moment in the rose-garden,
> > The moment in the arbour where the rain beat,
> > The moment in the draughty church at smokefall
> > Be remembered; involved with past and future.
> > Only through time time is conquered."
> >
> > CR
> >
> >
> > --- On Sat, 1/2/10, Chokh Raj <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> >
> >
> > > I for one never cease to enjoy Eliot's "world
> > > of eye and ear",
> > > both for "what they half create, / And what
> > > perceive" --
> > > well pleased to recognise in his "language of the
> > > sense",
> > > the "anchor of my purest thoughts".



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