Monday, June 12, 2017

fun with thinking

Lohbado is about half way through Différence et Répétition by Gilles Deleuze. The chapter “L’Image de la pensée” discusses thought in a fascinating new way. Before venturing into a précis of this text, Lohbado paused to digest the material.

What is thinking? There’s the idea of thinking as recognition, representation, proposition. In other words, one sees something, a situation or problem, one recognizes what it is, attempts to describe it and to make a statement. This is part of the dogmatic model of thinking handed down generation after generation from school master to student, to keep the individual an eternal child. The idea is to present a puerile set of schoolbook problems, with implied solutions. You answer correct. You get a gold star. It’s all good-natured common sense.

This good-natured common sense, suggests Deleuze, is famously stated in Decartes cogito: “I think therefore I am.” We all know what it is to think. Let’s use this agreement as a basis for further investigation into the nature of reality. This type of thinking works by joining thoughts with objects, or propositions with meaning. It occurs as images, words, signs or symbols. The process depends on making the right connections. If one correctly joins the dots, if a description matches a state of affairs in the material world, the statement is true. If the statement fails to connect with an object, or misrepresents something, the statement is false.

The join the dots or make the right connections model of thinking runs into problems, for example infinite regress. If the object of a proposition, or set of words, depends on another set of words, which requires more words, one tumbles into infinite regress.

Lohbado read Deleuze as a unique type of poetry, very complex. To do justice to the text, one would have to carefully read it two or three times at least. It worked like strong medicine to help Lohbado cheer up as he sat in the park just after sunrise.

Lohbado laughed at the suggestion that the dogmatic image of thought doesn’t involve actual thinking. There’s a difference between spinning around on a wheel of eternal return or socially generated concepts and definitions and thinking generated by an encounter. A somber precursor to the discussion, someone like Socrates comes along, or the Eleatic Stranger to startle one out of routine. Such an encounter throws the wheel of habit and presuppositions off kilter. One’s thought could bounce about like a ping-pong ball between one set of concepts and another until someone, or something startles one out of the familiar. 

One might discover novelty without ever having any insights or awakening about the nature of being until cracks occur. The cogito, the I, or sense of self cracks (le fêlure) under the shock or challenge of something different. One senses the limitations of the dogmatic model. One could be stuck within the literal meaning of a statement without actually experiencing what it means. There’s a difference between the repetition of words, or images and  something ineffable. One could connect with the infinite, something non-conceptual or inexpressible. One could evoke it through art, poetry, music dance or any creative exploration or aesthetic joy combining the passion of Dionysus with the form of Apollo.

 There’s a sense of connecting with the infinite, as opposed to spinning around on a wheel of definitions or common sense agreement. Suffering or irritation is a catalyst to go beyond the familiar, to no longer be satisfied with remaining an infant. One yearns to connect with something beyond routine or strong emotions.

No comments:

Post a Comment