Posted by: glue | September 5, 2010

Absolute Pollution

Has the figure disappeared into the landscape?  There is a figure in-formation, the Superfund site in me, gathering various discourses around event.  The scene intimates, rather than revealing or concealing, according to my decision of reception.  That is avatar, understood as a scene of counsel, by means of which I undergo measure, limit, genius, daimon.  The scene imparts contamination, to be heard in part as a keyword describing Derrida’s insight into trace.  Those spheres set apart so clearly and distinctly in the tradition from Plato to Kant, of pure and practical reason, of necessity and freedom, between the empirical and transcendental dimensions of what is comprehensible:  they may not be so separated, and are not, except in theory.  There is circulation, contamination.  Being goes outside itself, through what matters, becoming what it is.  The consequential vicissitudes are a gift/poison of lived life.


What did you learn from Kafka?  Two lessons at least.  First, that you were in a boundary zone, a threshold, that everyone passes through.  This experience still happens unofficially.  It is the old experience, as Giorgio Agamben explained, in which initiates were introduced to their limit, that is, to death as such and to their personal death, their finitude and its context.  You were on your own for this encounter, as we all are, or rather, we have whatever popular culture supplies as ersatz wisdom. “Thus the break with time is often also inseparable from a negation of worldliness and a collapsing of space,” Sanford Kwinter explained, discussing Kafka’s chronotope, his ratio of space-time.  Our emblem of Prudence is a chronotope, to help us notice the categories of experience.  As Kant proposed, time and space are not what we experience so much as what make it possible to experience anything at all.  “One world continues indifferently, unmoved and unchanged, while another spills into it, filling all the cracks and chinks between objects with the swirling indefiniteness of a wanton becoming.  We are assured now that this grotesque inmixing (and this is developed in the narrative as a befouling and as a pollution in every possible sense) is in every manner real” (Kwinter).  In The Trial the two worlds interfere with one another.  In The Castle they remain (mostly) differentiated (one inaccessible to the other).  But which is which, in your own case?

The inmixing is unique to each one (hence avatar).  What remains to be received from the figure is the manner of this inmixing of being and becoming, or of how “I” is another.  The Cabot Koppers Superfund Site imparts the feeling (as unfolded holistically throughout this blog).


  1. It’s first-thing in the morning and I’m sitting in the kitchen with my coffee, waiting for the birds to come to the feeder. Seattle is a bit grey today. I’m also remembering a conversation about Miles City in Saas-fee. Several years have passed and I think that when I read “The Anti Oedipus” now, I really get it; which is to say, that I can thumb through it, sitting on the patio with a drink, while my daughter sings to me in a language she made up.

  2. A beautiful response, confirming that indeed you get it and have it too. It is so simple in one way, and so confoundingly complex in another way. There is only one analogy adequate to the experience of thinking, Hannah Arendt suggested, and that is the feeling of being alive. Is that the dimension that always withdraws modestly in order for us to pursue some project?

  3. Dr. U,
    I’m preparing a short video presentation on “EmerAgency” for a multimedia class at Cal State Long Beach, CA and would like to quote your response, if I may. I’m a 48-year-old English dude just learning about all this electracy stuff and how to make videos. It’s fascinating. Is it fair to say that despite your boffinness on all this stuff, you’re still a poet at heart. Anyhow, I’ve got a million things to do right now b4 I go to bed, but when I found this site and read this exchange between you and Steve I had to stop for a moment, and just dwell in the silence as I contemplated thought/life having the characteristic of modesty, as opposed to, say, indifference. What a beautiful concept. And, for this one moment, in this blink-of-an-eye life we all lead, I am connected with you and Steve. Amazing.

  4. Sean, thank you for your comment and for your confirmation that notes in bottles sometimes arrive. You correctly identify the tone: theory lyric. Of course you may cite and refer at will. That you are working with EmerAgency is great news. Keep me posted.

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