Distribution Automatique

Monday, July 11

Process and Object

"It somehow worries us that the thought
in a sentence is not wholly present
at any one moment. We regard it as an
object which we are making and have
never got all there, for no sooner does
one part appear than another vanishes."

from *Zettel* by Ludwig Wittgenstein
University of California Press, 1967

Wittgenstein was fascinated by Freud
and much has been written about the
differences between the two theorists.
Again and again, W seems to be on the
verge of embracing the developmental
aspect of psychoanalytic thinking; then
he ever more staunchly
returns to the behavioristic model.

As W acknowledges above, anyone
fascinated with the process
aspect of thinking
and experience comes to
question the behavioristic
approach with chooses to focus on
object over subject. But the two are
inevitably intertwined.

There is a longing in Wittgenstein for
a clear-cut distinction between what
is correct and what is incorrect, a
mathematician's understandable
yearning for answers.
Pyschoanalysis shows that
the rational element in experience is
never permanently distinguishable
from the irrational element, though
mental health depends on a
continual effort to distinguish them,
especially in times of conflict.

Both Wittgenstein and Freud
were drawn to literary insights
and examples. Both recognized
the irrational element in poetry
and art, but each in their own
way were driven to discover methods
enabling their work to counter
their, you might say, literary
tendencies, with logic and science.
But an argument could be made
that their most durable contributions
remain essentially literary.
It appears now that one of Freud's
enduring contributions was to
transpose literary methods, processes
and insights into a form of psychological
therapy he called psychoanalysis.
Although he acknowledged that the poets
preceded him, he grounded his psychoanalystic
system and organization on scientific models.
Wittgenstein also likened his philosophical work
to a kind of therapy, applicable, he said, to
"philosophical cramps."

Again and again attempts on the
part of philosophers, such as Wittgenstein
and Freud to incorporate
and submerge the successes
of literary processes and
contributions to culture
into an overarching system
of cultural intervention
have faded in time.
What does appear to happen is that
the literary domain grows ever
larger and more complex. Freud
helped to bring literary thinking into the
psychiatric domain; Wittgenstein,
like Derrida, helped to return its
energies and powers into the

Repeatedly, and cyclically,
the literary strain in culture
turns around and absorbs
and encompasses such lasting,
powerful contributions
helping to insure their permanency.
Nietzche is certainly another
striking example of such an effort;
Derrida another. In other words,
philosophy and psychology's
cultural territory expands; only
to be absorbed, historically,
into the annals of literature.
Might this be partly because the
literary river continually gains
in momentum over time due
to its essentially individualistic
international, and time-
defying character?

Of course, during fascist eras
like ours, this ultimate cultural
supremacy appears eclipsed
by the warlike character of
the ruling classes.Yet everyone
suspects the pen is mightier
than the sword- and systems-
but sadly, it appears,
only in the long run.
The Emperor of Ice Cream: What Does It All Mean?

the Limetree (KSM) {click here}
riffs a long, cool, soulful solo on themes
developed on Bemsha Swing
and here of late, including some of our
own wistful whistling of melodies out
of Ludwig W's *Zettel*; Kasey's the
second blogger to jam on

Jonathan Mayhew's theme on
poetic thinking {click here}

until exhaustion. Whose next?