Matt Tettleton is writing this chapter, but feel free to make edits!
If you thought that Ulmer was going to drop his opacity in order to provide a clear and accessible afterword in which he ties together the loose threads of his argument in a satisfying way, then you haven’t been paying much attention. “Afterword: Class Portrait With Daimon (A Remix)” materializes the preceding chapter, Wisdom’s metaphor of the gyroscope. A gyroscope allows for motion while maintaining a constant orientation. Ulmer drops us in a chapter that is filled with disparate voices, and the narration jumps from one voice to another with seeming randomness. At one instant we are hearing about the career path of a bartender, and at the next instant (or the previous, or the same instant) we are being admonished: “There is no excuse for playing The Captain like a slightly irritable bank clerk!” (264). With the title of the chapter telling us that we are looking at a Class Portrait, we can imagine that we are seeing snapshots in the lives of different people in a class portrait. We see them at times as being and at time as becoming.
What these vignettes allow us to see is that they maintain orientation. The people in these vignettes are oriented towards “exile.” Exile, according to Ulmer “is an academy of intoxication…it is a limit-situation and resembles the extremity of the poetic state” (264). Exile is the state in which we find ourselves in the avatar situation, our selves exiled into avatar spaces. Ulmer uses the metaphor of a book to illustrate his attitude towards exile. Speaking of death as exile, Ulmer compares the avatar to an author’s book. “On the bookshelf your place will be occupied not by you but by your book. And as long as they insist on making a distinction between art and life, it is better if they find your book good and your life foul than the other way around” (267). Ulmer goes on to say that “what is essentially the object of perception is something that exists in himself, not in something else” (269). Thus Ulmer presents the avatar as not just symbolic but as an extension of self, something in which some piece of the self exists. Ulmer’s concept of exile in relation to the avatar remains unclear to me. Are we exiled from our avatar? Are we exiled to our avatar? Is the presence of some part of our selves in the avatar mirrored by the absence of that part within our selves?
The idea of the daimon appears in the Afterword only as a reference to a daimoness, one that is attendant and in control of some world of fire. This usage is more consistent with Heidigger’s “demon” presented in “Moment,” one who brings both joy and pain in his revelation of “eternal recurrence” (95). Eternal recurrence is evoked when Ulmer discussed Being as “unengendered… Being does not fluctuate…it has no end. It never was. It never will be. It is all NOW—one continuum” (268). In this formulation, being becomes permanent, while becoming is attended by the avatar or daimon and accompanies exile.
Other sections where daimon is discussedEdit
In Prudence, Ulmer mentions daimon as "character" (19). According to Ulmer, prudence (good judgement) works at the speed of life precisely because of character, by which Ulmer means intransigence, permanence of character. Ulmer notes that Goethe identifies character with daimon, the spirit of creative genius.
In Descent, Ulmer mentions daimon as representative on an online incarnation of the self.
In Moment, Ulmer presents daimon as used by Nietzsche. Nietzsche's linguistic background makes him familiar with the concept as used by the Ancients. Ulmer defines daimon in this section with its Latin designation, "genius," and notes that the Ancients saw moments of discovery as attended by a daimon. Ulmer's "Moment" is the moment when the daimon is present and flash reason occurs.
In Measure, Ulmer briefely mentions Emerson's use of daimon as "the god within of self-reliance" (139).
Daimon is often mentioned synonymously with avatar throughout much of the book.