notes on beyond the pleasure principle, from july 2

Outer layers buffer stimuli exciting Pcpt. Cs. Events encrust on the surface of the organism. Not only in its lifetime, but also on evolutionary timescales.

The surface dies so an inner system of pleasure and unpleasure may survive. An inner system channels excitations. Its channels narrow excitations, but excitations may also breach those channels — breaking over onto other pathways.

Breaches trace over the inscriptive surface. It registers everything.

Cs. is too loose to bind energy to every inscription, though. It can’t keep up with everything that happens.

So some breaches get pushed back. Something represses them onto the timeless archival contrail of the unconscious. A messy archive — incoherent to the ego dominated by the pleasure principle. Bad instincts still wriggle through.

Coherent ego vs what?

An ego keeps things back — overcoming them by loosening itself to supplementarily fresh excitations.

Yet it can’t keep everything back. Not all of the time, at least. Or not for everyone all of the time.

For some, life’s iterations become conspicuous and entrapping. It’s a symptom, and not just a fatal pattern, when compulsions come out to play.

On what iteration does a pattern — even one gone through passively — become a symptom? How many times do I have to “just not see you there” to make you into the annihilated object of negative hallucination?

When must the patterning of fatality turn in its pretensions to involuntarity — to accident — to eventhood without intention?

When must it acknowledge its perversely intentionless and maybe pretenseless non-passivity vis a vis what happens?

When must one affirm “I do what happens”?


One of the things I wanted to establish is that objects themselves — as figures for an actor network — may constitute one of Cs.’s perceptual shells / shields.

That is, objects as mediators in Latour’s sense also mediate excitation in Freud’s sense. Cathexes / energy supplies throng around these shells to modulate the flux of excitation.

If an object can be a shell that dies so consciousness can survive (in Nietzsche’s sense, perhaps), then an aesthetic object might be approached as a mediator of excitation too.

What lets us say a poem is being written?

Maybe its iterative orbits around the Pcpt. Cs.

(This is a reminder to read EKS — the passive condensation of repressed materials into the object — and Derrida’s essay on Freud’s essay on the mystic writing pad in Writing and Difference — and to brush up on / track force and its iterability more closely)

Excitations may trigger repetition compulsions.

Pulling the term apart, I mean to return with and to at least three senses:

1. excitation as excitement construed more broadly and perhaps phenomenologically (but phenomenon in the sense of smth circulated, not smth possessed by a single subject), both among subjects and through the reroutings opened by

2. affective structures — a flow of excitation flows through particular channels — and I want to think of aesthetic objects as an arrangement of such channels into an apparition that makes them irreducible to constituent stimuli / stimuli in formation — affective structures let a flow of excitation leap around or writhe through / within one person but also from one person to another, indefinitely — amidst, phantasmatically or not, strangers — publics, crowds, and the relay that lets one turn into another (in Tarde’s analysis, at least)

3. finally, excitation as a form of citationality — sampling the percepts / affect / concepts of other unconsciouses — giving them different accents or different figurations — letting others lend a gloss to the object’s movement twd a situation — aesthetic or otherwise


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