The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

December 30, 2016


in these dark times, in deed

http://www.alansondheim.org/decayofzero.png

dictionaries -

'in truth (often tends to intensify); "they said we would
break down and indeed we did"; "it is very cold indeed"; "was
indeed grateful"; "indeed, the war may still come"; "he did so
do it!" (used as an interjection) an expression of surprise or
skepticism or irony etc.; "Wants to survive? Now?? Indeed!"'

'Indeed \In*deed"\, adv. [Prep. in + deed.] In reality; in
truth; in fact; verily; truly; -- used in a variety of sense.
Esp.: (a) Denoting emphasis; as, indeed it is so. (b) Denoting
concession or admission; as, indeed, we suffer. (c) Denoting
surprise; as, indeed, is it you? Its meaning is not intrinsic or
fixed, but depends largely on the form of expression which it
accompanies.'

but of greater interest, perhaps, as a delay, 'as it were,' a
performative of presence and temporal elongation, since indeed
it conveys, particularly in the 19th century, an enunciation of
a speaker, of a speaking _body,_ the assertion of that body; a
phenomenology may be built upon this. indeed, even zero decays.

indeed, even zero decays; there is not enough time in the world;
what ill gains are to be gotten; how do we resist a world of
evil men, indeed; would they have never been born, indeed; in
deed they might fall; indeed, madam, we might survive, in deed.

(apologies in advance - too much teetering death at the moment)


On Suicide in these times: Stay Alive!

http://www.alansondheim.org/vale.jpg

1. Beginning, which is a beginning of an end, of the end or
endings of others, is difficult, is a problem; at the edge of
one year, edge of another - at a simultaneous moment of
withdrawal and forthcoming - there are too many tremblings, too
much pain in evidence, already too many deaths (from suicide,
from age; from accident; from anything) - which, in all the
accountings of the year, are rarely mentioned here, in this
whatever space, as if discussion were already going too far, too
much of an admittance of the catastrophe upon us. So that it is
well to reflect on what is about these things which are acts,
deliberate or otherwise - what these conjure up, what cessation
means in the face of philosophy (for philosophy and theory share
a face) - not in order to salvage a life or lives (for these are
choices one makes, and perhaps, as long as one is alive, one
makes continuously)... Is cessation in fact the ruined sign of
an end to fecundity, or an impoverished fecundity where breath
itself hardly matters? Is it in fact the end of overwhelming
struggle - against pain, against the turn of our body against us
as we age or sicken or exhaust what little resources we have?
Not having answer to these questions.

Not having answers, but observing these questions, suicide
itself, as a background to the discussion we have, perhaps as
part - and parcel - of a political opposition we share - not
only against a violent regime on the horizon of our country, but
our consciousness itself - and not necessarily such a regime,
but the internalized regime of the body, under duress, under or
beneath pain, which we choose no longer to endure - or it
chooses us - no longer unendurable - and then what?

And then what? Death stalks the words and worlds we write; death
lies within the punctuation of the sentence or the capital
punctuation of a body irrevocably faltering. What battles we
have fought among ourselves, among others, under the graze and
gaze of others?

The gaze of others as a prefiguration of our own gaze, our own
transformation into the thing we may wish to eliminate, and
painlessly, quietly, slipping away in the guise of sleep. For
the sharpness of pain may reverse things, recommence a call
towards life, a call from the living to the still-alive. How
many of us, how many times, do we feel we would simply slip
away, if given the chance to do this in the sense of a world
peacefully and gradually dimming, before the harshness of yet
another sunrise of regret? It becomes clear and clearer that
nothing in the world is deeply susceptible to change for the
'better,' however defined - that the world lurches from crisis
to crisis, that the inconceivable fragility of the good always
collapses, sooner or later.

And sooner or later, _now,_ as exponentials make themselves
felt, exponentially, from population increase to desertifica-
tion to militarization, to the harshness of rhetorics drawing
inspiration from the closure of boundaries from the right. One
assumes that one or another form of rationality, spiritual or
otherwise, will ultimately heal, but the words of a strongman,
regardless of their content, can wipe things away in an instant.

In an instant! Yet we have our bodies to do with what we want,
as long as we have control over their cessation. We have always
already been living among the denouements of the world, of the
thought of the world.

The thought of the world recedes as suicide seems more and more
of an option. The project may increasingly decathect; the
heightening of values is also their evanescent flattening.

The flattening of the signifier is also of course the loss of
meaning; might one even ask what sort of meaning exists in the
face of the firing squad or barrel bomb? Is it possible to
inherit such meaning, from one body to another? Do suicide and
murder share anything in common, beyond someone's death? History
absolves nothing; there is nothing to learn from history except
the useless paradox - that there is nothing to learn from
history.

From history to suicides, intentional deaths - as if discussion
were going too far, just a pointer to a useful absurdity: it is
a crime to kill oneself and a crime to attempt to kill oneself.
And a solution: Let the crime be punished by a firing-squad, and
the sooner the better!


2. Misery: There are as many causes of suicide as there are
suicides, but misery, physical and psychological, seems almost,
but not quite, fundamental. Physical misery in particular is
relatively clean-cut: a way to eliminate chronic pain, to refuse
the corporate-legalistic apparatus that insists on keeping the
body alive at all costs. Psychological pain is all the more
difficult, as it is entangled in personal and communal history,
economic and other struggles; it escapes categorization. It is
here that _thwarting,_ from without and within, is paramount; so
many move from hope to hopelessness to hope, following one or
another illusive goal, however well- or ill-defined - until the
goals themselves become wasted, used-up, paste-like,
stigmatized, exhausted (elsewhere I use the word "defuge" to
indicate this state); this is the decathecting mentioned above,
the effect of anaffect.

Anaffect, think of collapse into the Kristevan chora, choked by
symbolic debris, undercut by absence - holding-on to the
emptiness of annihilation without the Buddhist grounding in
dependent arising. So many deaths already. So many deaths to
come.

Already I am saying nothing new, only that suicide is part and
parcel of the ground among us, within the corruption of ideality
- that it seems almost never to be mentioned here, in any
Foucauldian discursive formation we find undercut by an
increasingly corrosive political, social, and medical climate -
the body politic becoming the political body becoming the body
itself. We are caught up, bootstrapped upon ourselves, with very
little resource or recourse except the memory of theory, the
memory of memory of action, of the province of the signifier,
which we hope to revive, in order to find a place to stand to
move the earth. It's well to look for this, a place perhaps of
refuge or a place attempting to counteract violence of all
sorts; it may also be well to believe that such a place no
longer exists, or exists intermittently only under the aegis of
being-human. And then to act, however one desires, to act
accordingly, while one still has the chance:

Please stay alive!

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