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The chapter begins with Ulmer remembering the time he went to Spain in 1965. The two most significant events during his visit were his reading of Kafka and one night sleeping in an olive orchard. In one of Kafka’s diary entries, he writes of having to choose between marrying a woman named Felice or pursing writing as a career. Ulmer describes this as an aporia that is “constitutive of experience as such” (109). Using Harold Bloom, Ulmer does further into the relationship between writing and living, often thought of as a false dichotomy (thought/action). There are three crossings: first, the anxiety over one’s vocation, “your potential to write, a feeling of loss, of emptying out” (110). This is an encounter with nothingness; second, the anxiety over one’s ability to transcend solipsism; and third, one’s anxiety over descent into language: this happens if “the sensory undergoing finds its trope in language, or design, by means of which you enter (descend) into writing” (110). Ulmer writes: “The ethos as experience of limit (failure, loss) is countered by pathos, a representation that paradoxically inverts your relation with the precursor (110). Ulmer recounts his waking up in the orchard: “It was a night in an olive orchard, on the border between Spain and Portugal, May 1966” (111).
This experience is described as a rope, referring back to a passage from Kafka in which he is describing a hangman’s noose. The rope become a trope (a “t/rope”) throughout the chapter for its association with death, with reaching one’s limit (being chained down), but also for its calling to mind things, experiences, concepts, etc. that pull one toward it. So Kafka experienced the pull of the rope when he was faced with choosing between marrying (living) and writing. Ulmer experienced in in the Olive Orchard, in Spain: “Isn’t this why you left home? You will have arrived at the outermost limit, the end of your rope” (111). The film Avatar reminded Ulmer of the morning he woke up in the orchard. It was “one sensation … in two different time-space locations” (112). This, again, calls to mind the groundedness of the mind in the body. Returning to Bloom, Ulmer writes: “ethos is character (limit); pathos is response (representation). The latter salvages the former (belatedness is finessed with a trope of transumption, by means of which time is regained)” (112). But this remembering of the orchard while watching Avatar is “a gesture of reaching (of desire) [that] opened the hole and you felt the t/rope” (112). So remembering creates a unity between temporally disparate things that becomes possible with electracy.
Later he describes this encounter with one’s rope as “The Overwhelming.” He goes on to testify: “avatar emergency, the daimonic No, personify the anxiety of the human condition in which you come up against your limit (pathos), your finitude, against what is expected and demanded by dharma (ethos). That rope is irreparable. Yes, and from it emerges a struggle for recognition, a striving to persevere in one’s own being, a drive for self-preservation, because the rope is uncanny (reified)” (120).
The next section elaborates on the rope’s association with death, discussing Blanchot’s reading of the Orpheus myth. In antiquity, the Greeks invented the self and the daemon (114). The self was positivity, the daemon negativity. Ulmer provides an extended quote from Merleau-Ponty about the fact that nothingness cannot be known because knowing nothingness would be an appropriation of nothingness into being, thereby rendering that type of nothingness a “bastard form.” For Blanchot, the Orpheus myth is “an emblem of his theory of writing” (115). For Blanchot (and Heidegger), a hero must descend into a dangerous dystopic place (Hades, Hell, the Underworld) and bring something or someone back to earth (115). When we think of this descent being applied to writing and language, Blanchot argues, it is possible to think of our entry into language as a descent. The ground withdraws so that it may disclose itself to Dasein. The Orpheus myth dramatizes the withdraw: “To write is to descend into the void that language opens in Real, the site of potential” (117). What does this means for avatar? “Avatar as the enunciation of flash reason performs an entry into image, models the identity experience of chora as opening … and must be designed according to this conative or receptive stance … Player to avatar is as artist to work (writer to text)” (117). So between the self and the daemon there appears no mediator. The self is positive, the daemon negative: “You want something (desire, will), but daimon says No. It is to wrestle with angels” (121); however, the avatar emerges as the meditating agent. Ulmer “suddenly” remembers the bridge in the background at Alcántara. The bridge or olives tree becomes the avatar. Ulmer asks: “Can flash reason through concept avatar mediate with a new logic of hegemony the contending forces that identity with one or the other of these drives” (123)?
In “After the Law,” Ulmer begins with an analogy of a crow and the relevance it had for Kafka. “Kafka” apparently means “crow” in Czech, it was his father’s business logo, and it had an association with hope (123). Kafka seems without hope of bridging the two poles of his aporia. But writing gives him hope. Ulmer writes: “Prudence is the virtue that is your capacity to judge the nature of the situation in an instant of time, make a decision based on experience of the past with the best chance of producing through action a beneficent outcome in the future” (124). If there is no interruption, no break, there is no need for prudence. The interruption is “an intuition of daimon, when suddenly you feel the choke chain (rope) around your throat. Call it limit, but a better name is ‘measure.’ Prudence” (124).Ulmer then paraphrases Kafka’s aphorisms before providing his own aphorisms. Ulmer’s aphorisms include: begin with a keyword, take the question literally, find an analogy, apply to one’s own worldview, and recast the personal insight as a tag line (127).
Kafka is used in this chapter because of his aura (Kafkaesque). “The aura is to flash reason what definitions are to literacy. The importance of Kafka for image metaphysics is that he shows us a world in which the literate category has become total and absolute” (128). The chapter ends with a return to Heidegger: “Heidegger proposes that the metaphor guiding the design of the new (image) category be drawn not from the courts, but from some other practice, such as poetry. Electrate judgment shifts from forensics to aesthetics. His invention strategy is generalizable to the practice of an Internet wisdom. To undergo the avatar effect, you impersonate the precursor, in order to address your self (your brand)” (128).
Advert-ar EmergencyHow does the Wiki become me?
How do I become the Wiki?
How does the Wiki seem to know me before I know me?
The Wiki knows there's something I might like at Frederick's.
It knows that I'm traveling to London from New York soon.
It knows that I'm moving to Austin.
Yet, here I am.
Didn't I exist BEFORE the Wiki found something I'd like at Frederick's?
Didn't the Wiki exist BEFORE I knew I'd be moving to Austin?
Didn't the advertisement for American Airlines exist BEFORE my plans to travel to London?
It's more than a question of which came first...
With electracy, the ways we understand causality, origin, and beginnings are at stake.
So, to ask whether some element of human identity stems from nature OR culture is to discount the ways in which nature and culture enact EMERGENT agencies.
Other sections where memory is discussedEdit
xv, xix, 13, 14, 15, 51, 52, 53, 54, 66, 78, 103, 107, 110, 112, 122, 132, 145, 146, 167-69, 173, 174, 178, 180, 182, 190, 195, 211-212, 225, 264, 265, 268.
A rhizome is “a symbiotic relationship between two separate domains brought into mutually beneficial alliance” (117).Edit
Chora is used in this section in reference to Heidegger's notion of disclosure.
Flash Reason is dealt with in this chaper in the following ways:
“Avatar as the enunciation of flash reason performs an entry into image, models the identity experience of chora as opening … and must be designed according to this conative or receptive stance … Player to avatar is as artist to work (writer to text)” (117). “Can flash reason through concept avatar mediate with a new logic of hegemony the contending forces that identity with one or the other of these drives” (123)?
“The aura is to flash reason what definitions are to literacy. The importance of Kafka for image metaphysics is that he shows us a world in which the literate category has become total and absolute” (128).