Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Against Identity, or Always Difference.

It can be helpful to consider certain philosophical distinctions as playing a role in our practices. One such distinction is the difference between appearance and reality. It was once thought that reality is beyond appearance and that we can never be sure if we have referred to reality because, as Descartes suggested, we might be under the influence of an evil demon, or, in a truncated ontology, that our brains are hooked up in vats like those that were made popular in the Matrix. Perhaps we can see this distinction as a virtue rather than as an issue; perhaps we can see this distinction as guiding our ability to name X under the term P, whatever P. 

The reality that we are not referring to has everything to do with the banal form of predicating that we normally use. By using <P>, it seems that <X is P> may mean either that <X is being P> or that <X is P>--and it makes a difference. To say that X is P, as though 'P' is all that X is, is to reduce an object that is already different from the sign ‘P’ to ‘P’, and nothing can be identical to anything else other than itself. So it seems we are only left with the latter: X is being P, by which I mean X is being like P. 

Of course, the inference that X is partaking in the Reality of P is just as violent as the absurd identification of a functioning object with a stagnant symbol. To say that X is right now functioning in order to create the reality of P is to dismiss as irrelevant all the other differences that are functioning at the site as well. Partaking in the reality of P is the reality of scientific mono-culturing; it is the scientific tendency to reduce a real functioning object to the “reality” of a term <P> which represents some algorithm. But this violent algorithm is necessarily a “violence of fitting”; for it is always a reality-signified that is represented as a signifier. The reference of the term here is not the infinite object of systematic differences but is rather, the object under the imposed sign. It takes a forming apparatus to call into Being--sort of--this particular object as "fitting" <P>.

So it seems that the distinction between appearance and reality can serve to interrupt the conclusion that X is behaving like Y, because the reality X is never subsumable under the appearance Y which can only name an appearance-form.  There is no Womyn; there is no Man; there are bodies. The question we must ask is: Is Y(x) really Present? Is X's total functioning really Y(x)? Or is Y(x) being re-presented(imposed)? But here we are asking whether a reality is Present (Y(x)), rather than an appearance; for an appearance, as we mean it, is nothing more than an imposition of Imperial mono-cultures.