Re: Quick guide to postmodernism (was: Re: Gibson

Subject: Re: Quick guide to postmodernism (was: Re: Gibson
From: Eliot Handelman (
Date: Mon Oct 03 2005 - 18:48:07 EDT

Richard Wentk wrote:

> At 21:50 03/10/2005, you wrote:
>>> So a normal person might say 'I feel invisible.' A schizophrenic
>>> will believe they actually *are* invisible.
>> Well, that's a kind of comic book craziness.
> Actually that's an example from life, based on someone I used to know
> who had occasional schizophrenic episodes.

Ok, I stand corrected, assuming this person wasn't misdiagnosed. Were
the episodes brought
on by drug use, eg.

>> We ALL experience things like this at one time or another. An "omen"
>> is basically
>> an idea of reference. The belief that the stars somehow determine my
>> possibilities
>> is such an idea. The the universe was created by a moralizing
>> intelligence who demands that
>> you go to church is another such idea. By creating personal meanings
>> that don't exist, the
>> schizophrenic is only being human.
> With the difference that normal humans have more functional models of
> reality that have genuine predictive power, surely?

You can have perfectly functional people who have just one crazy shtik
-- a so-called encapsulated

> I'd guess from this point of view it's the modelling process that's
> broken. Put very crudely there's a model labelled 'self' and there's a
> map of relationships between 'self' and various points of reference in
> the outside world. If the map making is broken, the results can look
> very strange.

I'd agree with that. The seriously threatening problem of schizophrenia
is that the world may seem to be
flowing into you, stealing pieces of your sense of autonomy, robbing you
of your identity, etc. The "map" is,
first of all, a kind of emotional landscape interconnected with many
forces beyond your
control that generates meanings. But then as the poet said, Hell is a
place, much like seville.

>>> What's the difference between 'I' as a complicated social narrative,
>>> and 'we' as the same?
>> Are "we" in fact a social narrative or a narrative at all?
> I don't know, because I'm not clear what you're saying here. My point
> was that I don't understand on what grounds 'we' wouldn't be
> considered a social narrative, if 'I' is, because they both seem
> similar kinds of labels to me, and not absolutes.

Ok, I get you. My concept of "we" is that we can never really know it in
the way that I think I
have a feeling of "I". In my usage, "we' isn't necesarrily human at all
-- consider again the problem
of "the hand."

"we" could be the whole complex organziation ofthe hiuman body. Jaynes
was ruinating on
this problem: the white blood cells move in on bacteria. Does that make
them conscious in some way?
He thinks no. But who knows? A body is a society of cells that somehow
create a mind that
thenm thinks its in possession of its underlying elements. Of course,
the mind -- "I" -- is in reality
in no way "the captain of the ship."

If I use the metaphor of "society" for the body -- or consider Monsky's
phrase, "society of mind" --
then "I'm" narrating its organization, but this is just a way of thinking.


> Is music narrative in that sense, or not? A lot of the psychology and
> politics that surround music making seem to be. But as for music
> itself - personally, I don't think it is.

I think that music is in fact narrative, and I'd throw people like
Ferneyhough into that bag as
well -- because it's a very big bag. On the other hand I think that Cage
really was explictly non-narrative,
because of his zen belief that narration kills the possibility of any
encounter with the underlying
reality -- "let the sounds be themselves."

Clearly any sense of expectency in music, the feeling that music
"should" go this way or that
is narrative, because "go" is a narration all by itself. In reality, as
Bergson pointed out,
the sounds of music "go" nowhere at all. That's just how we hear, but
music is to be heard.

-- eliot

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