Pandora arrested after noise complaint

Today is the first day of public blogging, though I promise not to write with any less speed, or to give up on the ghosts of Thompson and Kerouac. Yesterday I made it out to a lecture by a man named Staten on Derrida and the philosopher Daniel Dennett. Staten’s point was that Derrida was aiming, via deconstruction, at a kind of materialism in line with neuroscientific attacks on the unity of the ego. Apparently, the newest research suggests that our thoughts wander around, homeless, with starving bellies and eyes, in a structure known as a “pandemonium architecture,” until a particularly mean group of them bands together to form an intention. I like this, because I like the anarchistic openness of it and the drama of affiliation, but precisely because it is a model of “demons” (Staten’s term) uniting to form The Decision To Cook Dinner, it’s not very Derridean. When Staten had finished, Gayatri Spivak, moving her arms very slowly in deprecatory gestures, told him that he had re-fashioned Derrida into something subjective and false. It took her a long time to say it: she kept promising to read Daniel Dennett and to argue with him later. She was utterly graceful; her voice was resonant with thoughtful, deep concern; and yet, because she was having an essentially private conversation, the moment bordered on farce. I felt with particular keenness how the drama of “pandemonium architecture” was getting lost in Derrida’s remembrance, giving way to a discussion which reeked of age, of positions advanced and regretted, of a whole school of thought gradually losing its way in a Saramago fog. Several of the Irvine students there were pupils of Spivak’s, or at least intimately connected to the “theory” professors at Irvine, and I imagine this was food to them. I was no part of it. Staten kept stressing that men are machines; that we must think of ourselves as machines; and that, contra analytical philosophy, there are no such thing as “zombies” which appear human but lack the inner experience of humanity. This is all quite true, and quite irrelevant to a world full of unwilling zombies working jobs they hate. Spivak said, “Derrida insists on the double bind,” which is probably true, but it’s also why she and he must discuss this later, when they have read more (she recommended a physicist’s book to him). A little bit later, another book — they will certainly make the trip to the lighthouse tomorrow, if the weather is fair. There was one professor who spent a while arguing with Staten about the Marxist revolution, after which it wouldn’t be necessary to insist on absurd negations like “man is a machine.” I didn’t learn his name, but he did call for “a self-regulating world of human possibility.” It doesn’t sound very utopian, I know — he should have added something about beautiful people in meadows — but it was the best we got. I kept looking at Staten’s hair, which is very long, and was pulled back harshly. Black shirt, black tapered jeans, black shoes. The work of mourning, indeed; while I sat there, they all went looking for their noble father in the dust.

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