Monday, August 26, 2013

A New Religion of the Grotesque: Part 1 Rhythmic Figurality and Platonic Post-Modernism within the Pluroma of Discourse




One need not look very far for evidences of an ancient figurality of rhyme, of rhetorical deployments which 'exceed' simple sonic assonance, consonance, slant, pararhyme, alliteration, homeoteleuton, syllabic, perfect, feminine, dactylic, etc., and move into the conceptual register, even as they include it, as well as occlude it, in some sense, by a figurality of rhythm. Here is an illustration of my original contention by way of an example from Rhetoric and Rhythm in Byzantium: The Sound of Persuasion By Vessela Valiavitcharska:


It is perhaps no accident, or if it is, a happy accident that the quotation ends with a limning of a transitionality, as well as historiography, for it is to transitionalities, and antithetical expressions
which I would like to turn my gaze, and in homage to 'the Asianic style', my transitions may be assumed to be 'choppy, jerky, and childish' as per Cicero.

Firstly I would like to call attention to an oft quoted detail within the corpus of Plato, namely, that Plato believed that the "search for truth is nothing but an opening-up of the soul, with the contents that are naturally within" (Meno). Socrates rejected the word "teach" because it implied "filling the soul with knowledge poured in from the outside." Knowledge, therefore, is recovery through acts of reminiscence. But before we compare this detail from Plato with a set of themes which have arisen in Post-Modernism, let's assume the reminiscence is being performed by the brain of Maxwell's demon..

To compare to Plato's mnemonic demonic, or "Isocritical" opening-up, I would quote from Hal Foster's introduction to The Anti-Aesthetic: Essays on Post-Modern Culture with special attention
paid to the usage of the terms "open", and the qualifying of textuality as itself "allegorical" or "already written" and contingent:


But before we decide the rhyming is complete, there is an alternative example of Platonic 'opening', or 'synthetic contradictions', or "the opening up which is not unlike a closure" from Marshal McLuhan's Notes on Burroughs (1964):

Today men’s nerves surround us; they have gone outside as electrical environment. The human nervous system itself can be reprogrammed biologically as readily as any radio network can alter its fare. Burroughs has dedicated Naked Lunch to the first proposition, and Nova Express (both Grove Press) to the second. Naked Lunch records private strategies of culture in the electric age. Nova Express indicates some of the “corporate” responses and adventures of the Subliminal Kid who is living in a universe which seems to be someone else’s insides. (Descartes' Evil Genius?) Both books are a kind of engineer’s report of the terrain hazards and mandatory processes, which exist in the new electric environment.

You can read the full text here.

Possibly the easiest way to visualize the echo between Platonic philosophy and the vicissitudes of Post-Modern theory is to create an expressive visual dyad, itself a rhyme of sorts, or echo:

pleroma / pluroma

The gnostic figure of the pleroma with some leniency for 'choppy, indiscrete' characterizations is one which views the human body itself as a kind of map of the universe, or holographic inverse of the totality contained in the part.

The pluroma then, must in some equally mysterious materialist way equal the concept, and it does so by simple brunt fact. Life on earth is the only life we know of, and until it is not, our world view will consist in an opening up, a pluralizing consistent with our particular way of organizing
the statistical mechanics and information theory of our own world-self-body.

In part 2, I plan to discuss certain echoes between Post-Modernism, Dada, Surrealism, and the Grotesque while at the same time showing how Modernism itself fulfills certain definitions of the grotesque which have inevitably led to Post-Modernism by some accounts, namely those of Flannery O'Connor as portrayed in Marshall Bruce Gentry's Flannery O'Connor's Religion of the Grotesque, and Hal Foster's The Anti-Aesthetic: Essays on Post-Modern Culture.