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On the Tired Platitudes of Philosophical Apologia

[….] I make no apologies. I’m here because I’m mad for the phrase; for an orgasmic panorama of ink and vellum in textual montage–pleasures shared among curators, archivists, and bibliophiles; a lust for the rare; and a mad-love fire for the intoxication of intertextual play.

J. Lucas II.


§I. How an Ironist Becomes an Aesthetarchon

My POV begins somewhere subsequent to Rorty’s liberal ironism–a self-inaugurating moment of ‘philosopher-as-critic’—which afforded him the wherewithal to subsume a portion of Derrida’s later work under the guise of something he liked to call “private ironism” e.g., with books such as, “Postcard,” “Glas,” etc. These ironists, Proust and Nabokov especially fit this category, turned away from Platonism and classical metaphysics by way of refusing any dialectical stage that would loop back to the Hegelian-like-helix: thesis, antithesis, synthesis: that is, rather than making the same mistakes later Nietzsche, later Heidegger, and early Wittgenstein had, private ironists simply took up their own projects, creating evermore interesting vocabularies–that didn’t so much resolve the older aporias or familiar binary-camp arguments…but such new language-games seemed to obsolesce the old questions, altogether, via supplementing newer and more innovative ways of talking that spawned a whole taxa of different questions. Rather than relapse into The Speculative Turn (our current cultural milieu), Metaphysics, the Absolute, etc., this line of reasoning postulates that there is a time to stop doing traditional philosophy. Here’s where the distinction between Philosophy and Literature, Sophism and Philosophy, for example, ceases to be of any use. However, private projects were never enough for Rorty, and a large part of his concern resided in a democratic liberal utopianism that centered on contingency. He could never allow Nabokovians, or proud aesthetes, to leave Ethics well enough alone, despite his attempt to obsolesce the moral dichotomy between works we label “Public” (socio-political themes and symbols) and those we label “Private” (pursued for enjoyment or self-development). Rorty’s liberalism requires an almost-Nietzschean bias toward self-creation, insofar as Democratic societies thrive from, not merely a K-12 informed citizenry, but a vast amount of experience outside one’s acquisition of local values and native language. Pedagogically, this end makes the inference that there is no separation between personal development and human solidarity – which renders the binary labels untenable, e.g., “private works,” whether one reads them for pure enjoyment or not, opens our POV to Others; consequently, we become more cosmopolitan and therefore more inclined to a political conscience that sees “cruelty as the greatest possible offense,” and human solidarity – our greatest ideal. However, by the last chapter of his most infamous work, “Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity,” my suspicions take hold. See, here’s what happened behind the scenes (if I may infer after years of studying Rorty’s work): If one favors post-Kantian philosophies of “contingency” and/or favors works written by risqué “ironists,” it becomes all-too-easy to see the formulaic potential in connecting the former concepts to “solidarity,” and thus, establishing an ironist Ethics to resolve one’s leftist politics. Certainly, one imagines, it could only be with the fervor of political dogmatism that Rorty would commit the same metaphysical relapse his body of work is geared to illuminate, e.g., Heidegger, after Sein und Zeit, and Wittgenstein prior to the Investigations. My contention is that Rorty is inadvertently tempted back to systematic philosophy, rather than continuing the path of his own heroes in the same edifying-hermeneutic approach he relentlessly praises. And, this is also where Rorty and I part ways: by the end of such a tremendous work, I feel disappointed with having made any sort of prescriptive Ethics from Nabokovian/Nietzschean perspectives, no matter how inclusive liberalism presumes its structural underpinnings to be. The post-Derridean issue of contingency is the climate Meillassoux, Graham Harman, Brassier, Latour, and Garcia are now exploiting (or rather, Absolutizing in a pro-Metaphysical gang under the acronym SR/M) — and to immense commercial success. My position, on the contrary, involves importing more of Nietzsche’s notions of “self-creation” and “giving style to one’s character,” and “aesthetic redemption through singular taste,” where Rorty had emphasized liberal utopian Democracy, i.e., “Liberal Ironism.” For me, even his cosmopolitan “solidarity” is inescapably teleological, i.e., the amenability of democratic institutions only secures an “Ethics” or a “Politics” iff it is demonstrated, via metaphysical self-coronation, to be the ultimate, meta-comparative “best for ALL.” And for Rorty, recall, there are no “final vocabularies” or “hidden secrets” the ironist can hope to find.

[…] there are only little mortal things to be rearranged by being re-described.”

Richard Rorty (CIS, 99)

For my part, I refuse to give “ironism” a genuine substantive “-ism,” e.g., this notion remains consistent only in the event that it refer to a unique object for every utterance-act: the (or indefinite article) ironist. Undoubtedly then, I am weary of today’s philosophico-commercial band-wagon: Speculative Realism/Materialism; Flat Ontology; Object-Oriented-Ontology, and so on. Rather than re-enter ontology via a newly-wrapped first-science, i.e., (post-) cantororian set theory, I opt for a kind of neo-perspectivism and aestheticism (what I believe to be an extension of Nietzsche’s canon that exceeds even Nehamas’ Proustian exegeses) that places “pedagogy” in front of “Truth”: the notion of a capital-w “World” (capable of deciding, independent of humans, the truth-value of sentences purporting to refer to ‘the “World’” as a criterion-specific epistemology; thus, you might say, I’m a ‘P-P-Post-Modernist’; writing my own story that I’ve titled, “Archive Humanitas: from ironist to aesthetarchon,” by way of piracy, anti-apologetic aesthetic appropriation, and palimpsest. Its ends and means are wholly divergent from the reign of New Speculativism and O-O-OHarman-brand philosophy. What I’m after is nuance, idiosyncrasy, and a a turn of phrase altogether different from the history of ‘obvious Western platitudes.’ …If Marxists and Frankfurt Cultural-Theorists think that’s immoral (e.g., a self-indulgent illusion resulting in capitalist complicity)—then, “don’t bother me–I’m sleeping!” Mediocrity is worse than falsity (a maxim preserved from Bloom’s analysis of the great poets and Rorty’s Neo-Pragmatism). The standardization of some novelty (lifted from abnormal science and leveled to mass-acceptance (i.e., normal science)), is the forgotten-procedure which always-already advances our moral currency. Truth, simply is…a moral concept. There is no final vocabulary of Being, Reality, or Goodness; there is innovation and there is the influence of one’s predecessors to worry about. My pursuits are non-epistemic, but unwaveringly tenacious in attempting the employment of new means, methods, and vocabularies conducive for optimum play. This is a manifesto against liberal apologia! …. I make no apologies. I’m here because I’m mad for the phrase; for an orgasmic panorama of ink and vellum in textual montage–pleasures shared among curators, archivists, and bibliophiles; a lust for the rare; and a mad-love fire for the intoxication of intertextual play.


Archive Talks: “Los Angeles in Mad-Love-Monochrome!”

The hermeneutics of film noir and the aesthetic sense of mid-century Los Angeles


An interview with philosophico-curatorial archivist, J. Lucas II


“A Critical Reading of Robert Pirsig’s Metaphysics of Quality in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”

Guest Author Thomas Dylan Daniel


Archive Humanitas celebrates the latest work by Thomas Dylan Daniel – a free-thinking Texan philosopher with degrees from Southwestern University and Texas State University. He has recently published his first full-length work, Formal Dialectics. Additionally, Daniel sits on the Editorial Advisory Board for Philosophy at Cambridge Scholars Publishing. His most significant interest is the emergent properties of complex systems, which has led to deep research and critical perspectives in philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, ethics and the cognitive sciences. The article is available in PDF @archivehumanitas.com (https://archivehumanitas.com/essays/)

Additional works by Author


Remembering A Dream—I Don’t Re-member

J. Lucas II. a.k.a. Aesthetarchon


The only connection I have to it is (presently) not knowing it, but the memory of once having known it; but, if what it is were truly absent, with no imagery or definitive recollection of any kind to assist me, how could I be in the present state of re-membering in the remembering-of-something-I-do-not-remember? Something a priori must linger with neither reference nor transparency. Like a vibration, or an after-shock, something has taken place. . . A feeling washes up that is nearly identical to that of a clear picture, but one that never actually arrives (a haunting of Derridean dream-cinders). Only a tactile sense, that itself evades our confidence, is carried over or remains, i.e., of how one felt, like remembering the hug of a dear friend minus the recall of the friend. It might as well be said that this is the after-effect of the unconscious: somewhere this knowledge must be contained, which would account for its quasi-recollectedconfused, and emotional residue. As if the dream inscription could be apprehended at any of its points; the dream-text dangling like a bunch strings—any part within reach, yet touching on any one detaches it from the whole, relaying a sense with no unity or causality to the whole of which it is related (a hermeneutic of dreams). E.g., I feel a spur to tragedy or romance, of last night’s happening, but that is all. And I know this feeling is somehow connected to the dream, because I’ve been here before, and this peculiarity typically leads to an unveiling of the dream. But some instances fall short, and we remain only with a trace or residuum of the dream inscription (Cf., Freud, who opened the writerly metaphor to the functionality of cognition and perception). This would imply a textuality of the dream somehow tucked away in the unconscious. A mark on the “mystic writing-pad” (Cf. Ibid.) – the transparent wax-sheet stands still, yet to relapse to its opening-and-closing program. But now we have replaced a question with an enigma. Our dime-store dialectic is of little help here. It is at such moments that philosophy ends in Proustianism. And why shouldn’t that suffice!? 

Normativity Before All Lights; Hume’s issue of deriving an ‘ought’ from an ‘is’

J. Lucas II. a.k.a. Aesthetarchon


§a. Supplementing One Scheme for Another

What if I were to tell you that we need not respond to Hume’s charge: ‘how does one derive an ought from an is?’ Here’s the rub. The distinction, whose value today is up for debate, is significant, undoubtedly, in non-philosophical contexts, e.g., when we want to convey that we are not judging what one should do (ought), but merely describing the situation or scene as it occurred (is); that is, in cases that might require emphasizing the absence of an ulterior illocutionary point, for example. Ironically, on the other hand—the philosophical milieu of the dichotomy, i.e., from whence Hume’s moral dilemma first arose—is not only superfluous, but the distinct opposition is fundamentally non-existent. I will soon illustrate how the  ethicico-subjunctive ‘ought’ and the grammatical means of measuring-predication-and-equality, as connective-without-content—the copula ‘is’ (that i sl a n d  left to itself) remain entirely indistinct from one another; ought/is crash as one wave, and always, recede together. In sum, their average employment in idle talk possesses some useful sense; philosophically, on the other hand, its sense is as relevant to our contemporary horizon as a new and sincere a priori treatise of “corpuscles,” “souls,” or “Forms.”

            We need to update our lexicon to better deal with the issues Hume has raised, and bring the conversation to a more contemporaneous palpability, especially one that is free of certain obsolescent shortcomings in the Lockean theory of ideas. One way we might reformulate the Humean issue between “ought” and “is”[2](to better update the conversation) is to bring the matter from an order of “impressions” and “ideas” to a vernacular of “sense” and “propositions” —precisely what we have to thank the Analytic tradition for, i.e., the importation, via transcription, of the same epistemic axiomatics and anoretic binaries— that focuses on the distinction between Descriptive Statements and Evaluative Statements, or analogously, between Brute Facts (e.g., rocks, pencils, weight, height) and Institutional Facts[3](e.g., teachers, lawyers, Lexus dealers, ministers)[4], as found in John Searle’s essay[5]How to Derive an ‘Ought’ from an ‘Is’. Using this updated lexicon, somewhat eclectically for own ends, we can frame and better express Hume’s skepticism regarding “moral judgments”; that is, the lack of correspondence between what he calls “matters of fact” and our sentiments of “duty,” “justice,” and binding “moral obligations,” as a clear case of an argument with a missing premise. Therefore, between “matters of fact” and “moral judgements,” the gap must be bridged by way of deducing an evaluative “ought” from a descriptive “is.” We simply cannot derive evaluative statements from descriptive statements in binary isolation with Hume’s template; but—again—how do we proceed in arriving at one by way of the other? Granted it will do no good to assert: Tom beats women (descriptive) and attempt to derive the statement: Tom should not beat women (evaluative), without reference to an additional supporting premise (i.e., our ‘missing premise’)—one that grounds or underpins the moral “ought,” (whereby, where there is a., there is b.(of necessity), so that where “Tom beats women,” it follows that: “Tom should not beat women”) e.g., via appeal to some theory, creed, custom, community, or institution, etc. The latter simply fails to import any prescriptive duty or maxim from the mere fact that “Tom beats women.” 

§b. Hume Re-Formulated

a.    Descriptive PropositionJim, now married, has intercourse with his secretary.

            For Hume, there is no “ought,” and thus no evaluative proposition, or moral sense discernable through reason embedded in the act or report, such that we might derive the following proposition: 

b.   Evaluative PropositionJim should be monogamous and not cheat on his wife. 

            Rather, this would require a further premise, such as: 

c.    Evaluative PropositionJim should not commit “Adultery.”(Institutional Index: “Christianity”).

Therefore, we cannot arrive at moral judgement b.merely from a., without reference to some premise c.

            Now, as Searle might assume, we can derive an “ought” from an “is” in virtue of citing an “institutional fact”[6]—thus implicating and binding us to some “constitutive rule” essential to that institutional fact, which presupposes certain conditions of satisfaction that sanction the performing of unique acts of “obligation,” “duty,” and so on, as necessary for the fact being what it is, or having the sense it has, e.g., by stating “Jim is a Christian,” it is therefore part of the constitutive rules of (the predicate) “Christianity” that he live by such deontological Commandments that include abstaining from adultery; foremost, this is how the statement, “Jim is a Christian,” essentially obtains its sense. For “Jim” to be a “Christian” means that he fulfills certain duties and obligations, i.e., “oughts” derived from pure “descriptive propositions” or “is-es” themselves: 

The Answer—

Descriptive Proposition (“IS”/“Matter of Fact”): Jim, recently married, is a Christian who has cheated with his secretary. 

Evaluative Proposition (“OUGHT”/“Moral Judgement”):Jim, in virtue of a constitutive rule of Christianity embedded in the descriptive proposition (which is an institutional fact), alone, SHOULD NOT commit “Adultery.” 

Thus,

—Commandeering Searle’s updated dichotomy, we’ve solved Hume’s problem. We’ve derived an “ought” from an “is.” 

Now that it’s Solved… Abandon that Theory!

            Now that we have commandeered a contemporary vocabulary to better formulate an adequate response—I feel moved toward a negation of that very sense of “descriptive statements,” outright, as well as the sense of Humean “is-es,” outright. Stated simply, I take issue with both Hume and Searle and reject the answer we’ve constructed. Neither position should satisfy us. Why? Here’s one reason: Institutional normativity, as we will soon illustrate, and “matters of fact” (Humean “is-es”) are far more rich[7]and profoundly embedded in our “average-everyday perceptions,” “interpretations,” and “judgments” than either of them allow for in their analyses. A satisfactory argument (especially for nominalists and anti-essentialists), on my account, would in the least, undermine the privileged autonomy and rigid division of both terms in the categorico-oppositional philosophemes: ought/isevaluative/descriptive, institutional/brute, that they once enjoyed or were thought to possess in traditional Western theory (i.e., Philosophy as a foundationally epistemic discipline—a pseudo-scientism). If the twentieth-century has taught us anything whatsoever, historiographically, it is to be weary of such neatly delineated, rational antitheses. Let’s try another picture on the likely hypothesis that there exist contexts or situations capable of exhausting these simple distinctions.[8]

§c. The Murder Scene That Is 

            The first thing we can probably agree on with little demonstration is that no one arrives ex nihilo, without bringing with her some myriad biases, expectations, (pre-)dispositions, and meanings that bear directly on the context at hand (and as I will argue, on its revelation as such, morally or otherwise). Hume argues that if we examine the Murder Scene, “by all lights,” neither reason nor a relation of ideas will render a moral position from the matter of fact of the scene itself. Whatever “ought” we propose against the act of murder, as it pertains to this case, will be adjusted after some impressions have begun to stir our sentiments and passions. What if we think Hume has moved too fast in presupposing an immaculate and naked “is” from which we could further adjudicate a moral prescription? Are we not always-already arriving on the Murder Scene in fright, stimulation, disgust, or feelings of moral reprehensibility? Are these not potentially bound, for us, to the facts ‘appearing as facts’? Does “murder” exist outside of its relata: capital punishment, highest sin, wrong-doing, self-defense, malicious intent, premeditation and the plurality of connotations that surround its articulation? Has there ever been a Murder Scene that merely “is”? 

            A stronger argument might be constructed that emphasizes the role of the Interpretive Communityand Normativity, in general, (which includes “oughts” among its myriad customs) as the ultimately disclosing power of “is-es” by their first light, “before all lights”; that is, a network or background of institutional-pedagogical custom that constitutes the structurality of facts as always-already moral, useful, offensive, or harmful. 

            This critical path brings us to the issue of immediacy, proper. One might recall, keeping in line with our modus operandi of sense and proposition rather than impressions and ideas, Stanley Fish’s story of the student who asked his colleague on the first day of the semester: “Is there a text in this class?”[9]The professor quickly answers, “Yes. It’s the Norton Anthology of Literature…” but then is interrupted by the student, “No, I mean, in this class, do we believe in the existence of discernible meanings in poems, novels, epigrams, or do they only exist for us?” Here’s the trouble. If the professor is familiar with Fish’s work in literary theory, he would have been perhaps primed for the rouse; on the other hand, since it is the first day of school, the situation seems to solicit the professor to a different literal sense of the question, namely, “which text?” Obviously, the “Norton Anthology.” However, there are various other plausible senses given the structure of the background-context. A passerby with no knowledge of literary theory could assume the first sense that the professor had in mind; or, one might even consider yet another literal sense: “was there a book left behind in your classroom?” In either case, the response is “immediate,” given that the situation is always-already institutionally structured in such a way that delivers over or fixes a sense. Notice, this is not, as Searle would argue, in virtue of the constitutive rules of language itself, but because of the larger, outside, interpretive community that meaningfully organizes that very situation. Despite whatever background one is solicited by, it is never possible to be in that scene without first having a sense immediately at hand. Even having a wholly non-relevant sense would amount to something like the sense of one’s assuming the book was left behind in the classroom rather than the intended sense involving a complicated problem in literary theory. 

            There is never a null, or gappy space, calling for interpretation. One might extend or revise some initial disposition after one’s arrival; but to have arrived—or perceive anything on scene—is already to have been caught up in a “sense” in the horizon of some interpretive community and pre-intentional background. Ultimately, we would have to respond to Hume in the following way. Sense is not disclosed by the “matter of fact” or “is” of the Murder Scene, but a fore-understanding of sense discloses the Murder Scene, initially, as the Murder Scene that it is: whether it is of vice or virtue or neither—but never is there an “is” without sense. Rather, we can now imagine “moral-is-es,” just as all “is-es” are what they are under some such disclosure. Without normativity anything resembling what philosophers have long since referred to as “Perception” would lose its meaning. This contradicts Hume’s assertion: “since vice and virtue are not discoverable merely by reason, or the comparison of ideas, it must be by means of some impression or sentiment they occasion” (Treatise, 470). What we’ve demonstrated is that the occasion does not bring about a sense, but the very occasion is occasion-ed by a sense in its first light, since moral sentiments, if they arise, already organize the structure of the occasion—pre-intentionally and unconsciously inscribed in the milieu or background of any occasion, proper. The scene is a Murder Scene insofar as it is a tragedy, evidence of a sin, or sickening, etc. Arriving to some mute, originary, barren matter of fact of Murder is an oversimplified fiction—useful in systematic philosophy for the purposes of isolating certain ideas, deducing others, and building formal structures; however, this does not reflect the averageness of the Murder Scene—but is purely mise-en-scène philosophical reasoning. 

End Notes


  • [1]CSULA. 03.06.18. 
  • [2]See:Hume, David. A Treatise of Human Nature. New York: Oxford University Press, 1978.
  • [3]Searle, John R. Speech acts: an essay in the philosophy of language. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1970.
  • [4]Whenever I find myself searching for a baseline to begin any critical or deductive inquiry—I ask myself, what would the Naïve Realist say? And work from there. 
  • [5]His theory, per se, is far more parasitic on a systematic taxonomy of illocutionary acts in response to larger topics in the philosophy of language—a subject that exceeds the space of this address. 
  • [6]Ibid. Searle.  
  • [7]Cf., Stroud, Barry. Hume. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1977. On the charge of richness levied against Hume.
  • [8]In philosophy, if something can fall over—push it over! If it’s slipping, it’s better to not be dragged down by the traditional furniture. My contention: the distinctions we’re working with will overflow and exhaust their own delineation: therefore, we need new furniture! 
  • [9]Fish, Stanley. Is There a Text in this Class? Cambridge, MA: Havard Univ. Pr., 1982.

Such L o v e l y Pictures

J. Lucas II. a.k.a., Aesthetarchon


Here’s how New Critical lemon-squeezing works. Question: what’s the theme of Clockwork? Answer: the moral dilemma of science and technology in criminal rehabilitation; specifically, where the possibility of immoral decision and action is removed—and “genuine” ethical responsibility becomes nil; consequently,  we face the binary oppositions: freewill/determinism, individual/state, mind/matter, etc. Congratulations! This sophomoric term paper is en route to an ob(li)vious A+! Yet, some of us witness the continuation of this modus operandi and its ready-moral platitudes, and we’re. . .  just. . . bored and old. We sigh and fight the perpetual urge to declare, “Could anything be more passé, academically, philosophically, intellectually?”  

What makes Clockwork an unparalleled post-Joycean masterpiece…? The heart of the work resides in Burgess’ self-manufactured rebel-youth colloquialism, i.e., a language he calls Nadsat. The meter or rhyme is nothing we would want to schematize: an onslaught of hurly-burly neologisms that brush against a mania uniquely reminiscent of Ludwig Van’s 9thsymphony, itself. Through onomatopoeia and the morphological play of affixing heterogeneous roots, the reader can pick up a textual orchestra—finding the feet moving and flowing, despite the carnage and violence of whatever mis en scène Burgess is choreographing in the semantic content of his lines. It’s no wonder Kubrick captured the balletic aspects of his menacing prose so well (McDowell’s improvisation of “Singing in the Rain” was so inexplicably fitting, Kubrick shot the scene for a week prior to acquiring the rights). One does not come to know the milieu of Alex and his droogies, but plays alongside the hyper-colored hedonism, e.g., there is a jollying-along to the “Old Town” robbery, outright, or there is a lost and offended reader. A reader of the kind we spoke of earlier (s/he missed the Yale Critics but read enough Aristotle and Kant to annoy us for life).

-Anthony Burgess

Aesthetic Bliss—of the Nabokovian variety! That’s where we ought to journey, but only by way of a distinct detour from today’s reinvigoration of Nabokov studies—which ceaselessly looks for any element, autobiographical or fictional, to mount a logically coherent apologia for his aestheticism. These “scholars” are so ideological and politically charged, they even find reason to ignore Nabokov’s declaration of what constitutes Orwellian “topical trash.” This is an unabashedly popular cause. One comes across it everywhere. One can’t read about Fitzgerald’s life without hearing a tangent regarding how much, at heart, Scotty “actually” hated wealth, privilege, and elitism. –I am Jack’s perpetual disillusionment with the upper-echelons of academe—. At this point, I don’t care if Scotty bootlegged hooch for a year in an effort to self-publish This Side of Paradise, buy designer suits, and coerce Zelda into marrying a cat-fish author. The age of Apologia is over. Neo-Marxism is over. The Frankfurt School is over. We’re all still asleep in our (under-) graduate-level epistemology lectures…and, deciding now, on the precedence of . . .“s u c h lovely pictures”. . .  to choose falsity before mediocrity. 

An Interview with J. Lucas II. a.k.a, Aesthetarchon: from pages to images?

Intermission: 3:40-4:13


Russian Formalism, Heideggerian Phenomenology, and Post-Structuralism

Pop-Princess Fatale: Lana Del Rey & the Art Deco, Los Angeles Style

J. Lucas II. a.k.a. Aesthetarchon


In 2016 James Franco released a small poetry book, Straight James/Gay James, dedicated to Lana Del Rey. The work’s ostensive homosexual theme is illustrated in the cover art: “Lana” is tattooed on his forehead; the image of her face trails down his neck. He stares into a mirror, gazing at himself, allowing his other-self(“Gay James,” perhaps), in turn, to gaze back at him, reflecting the duplicitous identity that ruptures the product— “James Franco.” He rather be Lana Del Rey, but qualifies this longing in an early stanza, “Not because I don’t enjoy my man/Body […/] but because I love yours.[1]” So he is left to lament the tragedy of having to wear a mask; one face, the surface of the mask itself, is “branded,” concealing the “naughty face,” and “A secret devil/Beneath/The slick surface/Of the Gucci smile.[2]” At night both merge in a singularity, “They are but/One: me.[3]” What strange phenomenon is at play that desires to split the actor’s persona? This love for Lana Del Rey, the pop-star, consumes him so completely, reducing the authentic to the sleepy shadows of private-midnight? The answer, I dare entertain, resides in a sinuous captivation of Lana’s two-fold aura. When she alludes to David Lynch’s Blue Velvet, for instance, we feel ourselves collapse into that smoky nightclub, hanging on every word the neo-noir singer electrifies. For the duration, I am the criminal mad-man “Frank,” infatuated and bewitched, while equally assuming the naïve, inquisitively pale, awe-struck role of “Jeffrey.[4]” The latter, an enticed school-boy, out of his element, and the other, a crazed addict, whose only distraction from nefarious cruelty is the antiquarian tune of the velvet singer. We might trace the origin of the fracture Franco speaks of in the dichotomy that is Lana, herself. The faces of Franco are, or so I conjecture, an aesthetic-response to the mid-century Los Angeles aura she embodies, coupled with a contemporary celebrity style, i.e., the art deco, beach-bikini princess. This is what draws us in. A juxtaposition of irregular qualities (e.g., we brush against this same feeling when we consider the psychological appeal of steampunk): we imagine a brunette singer who reads Proust with sexy tattoos—out of place, in a cool-blue, historiographic dream. We rhythm with the base while tuning in to her subtle references, e.g., Nabokov’s Lolita, post-modern filmmakers—all staged in a monochrome mish-mash reminiscent of Los Angeles in 1944. The grasping of both faces, simultaneously, produce an auratic emergence, and an alluring marriage of distinct horizons. The songs of the West-coast siren[5]break us apart on the California shore. There is no one identity to Lana or ourselves when we enter her contemporary noir-pop milieu.  For a small interval, we are taken to the past, but only as a slippery past-presence, summoned by our current-present. Neither can exist on its own. Neither is a hindrance to the other. One opens the other. This is a hermeneutic of iconography.  

End Notes


  • [1]Franco, James. Straight James/Gay James. New Jersey: Hansen Publishing Group, LLC, 2016. 
  • [2]Ibid. MASK, 14. 
  • [3]Ibid. 
  • [4]Frank: Denis Hopper; Jeffrey: Kyle MacLachlan 
  • [5]Ironically enough, “Sirens” is the name of one of her early, pre-chart albums.

No Plexiglass in Our Future: “Bladerunner 2049” and Macrophilia in Advertising

J. Lucas II. a.k.a. Aesthetarchon


Theory Fiction—INTERFERENCE— 2036. 
Los Angeles has become a thick industrial fog; a blackness that forever lingers on like a human stain too vast and toxic to lose its own trace; this haunting devolves into the silence of history with each passing moment on our way to the shadowy-phosphorescent tomorrow. Those periwinkle clouds–opaque projections of post-human-AI-working-girls: their blue-bell mascara, teal locks, and magenta plether legs–shine in a vivid, low-glow, placid mist. The last flickering light of the city of angels…inorganic prostitution.  Ad-men have developed a neo-Freudian tact to their entire creative production line;  behind the topless interactive holograms, and mini-subway television screens that loop the same twenty-four, or -five, fifteen-second spots, a palpably keen operandi is underway: meeting in private; mapping the topographic scales and gradients; assessing contingency plans; calculating financial loss in the same equation as human loss, i.e., straight from the hot-line in the BIG-B O A R D-War-Room, where Peter Sellars frantically argues all night for the specific marketing-means necessary for this upcoming season; this is a preemptive strike on bio-agency. Luckily, the late-night-think-tank-team rarely gets on to the other side of the “fluoridation”debate and the topic of  “preserving the purity of our precious bodily fluids.” —I mean, let’s be really (capital-r) R e a l for a moment: what possible value could be placed on our so-called “human agency”? Straight to my point, without so much as a quip, no one has quite captured the answer as clearly and distinctly as one post-modernist director, David Cronenberg:

“L O N G

L I V E

T H E N E W F L E S H !” 


But, look, mishap aside, employing this psycho-social rubric involves surfacing what is most influentially basic in the recessess of archaic fathoms that silently steer human decision and action; our unconscious familial psyche, according to recent studies, exhausts its energy by sublimating Freudian-type fantasies. If corporations and ad-men access the base-instincts, and, harness its  bottomless power, then commercial-consumer “desire” can be instilled with one-hundred percent invariable affectivity. Such a feat would render advertisement-schemes immune to the passive attitude of indifference: no sleepers on the subway; no disinterested tricks, etc. The target audience, today, among those who have yet to evacuate Earth, is nearly 96% male. Here’s why: primordially repressed male instincts revolve around the Mother. This is old news. However, off-Earth scientists argue that it is some über-Oedipalism that accounts for whence all transcendentalism (theism) took root in our species (Oedipal Religiosity Theory (OR Theory)), e.g., recall the anthropomorphic deities, e.g., the humanoid-characters of Greek and Egyptian polytheism: Osiris, Ra, Prometheus, Athena and so on. The emergence of religion, once believed to be the result of prehistoric agricultural development and the inexplicable nature of non-static weather conditions, —was in actuality, an unconscious, self-deluding ploy aimed at—‘fucking our Mothers’ (now even harder!)—and in the worst way possible: not “fucking,”  but “getting fucked,” “eaten alive,” “stepped on,” “destroyed,” in one great masochistically divine Oedipal-annihi-jaculation!!!!! 

Therefore,
“God” = “Mommy-coitus”


The off-Earth argument begins at childhood (cf., Freud, of course). “Nurturing”—e.g., the suckling “child” is no more than a cradled individual (a singularity of affection); survival requires a necessary “benevolence”  and an insatiable dependence, where for the first time, “omnipotence” is counted on like clockwork. Subsequent to individualism, collective involvement (i.e., entering the social world) will open the feminine connotation of the planet, i.e., Mother Earth. The child takes her with him into adulthood. “Family” is the (a.) Child + (b.) Love[Mother]+(c.) Law[Father].  The triad = Father-Mother-Child. The latter answers to one binary, i.e., the Mommy-Daddy, which promises domesticity, sustenance, and warmth; in contradistinction to the worldly Mother, Father is Law (even the unholiest Fathers bask in this phallocentrism), whose criterion is beyond recourse, Mother, and Earth


What was left of Madison Avenue and the big-shot firms that once owned Los Angeles—(roughly 2038)—soon realized that the “conscience” was not something they could count on, especially after the off-world migration, and the new wave of post-human psychological research.  There were simply far too many unknown elements and unpredictable patterns that impeded any algorithmic attempt at understanding consumer-confidence. The theory of Oedipal-religiosity (O.R.) arrived, coincidentally, at a time when advertising firms were looking for some universal niche in all men, or even better, all men and women. However, working backwards from any Neo-Skinner/Neo-Pavlov-type behaviorism did little more than provoke the think tank into week-long debates, and worse, even more perplexing questions than those they had intended to discern in the first place. This is the conversation that eventually led to erecting “E-Street (see 4×6 card).” If one thing is for certain, “desire,” an old Doctor of Philosophy exclaimed, “can be counted on…and it can be counted on universally–just not the object (or variable).” Within a month of their last meeting “O.R. Theory” had supplied “desire” with an invariable object. The unconscious universal male fetish, i.e., the familial-masochism of the Giantess Mommy-Goddess… the glory of the future. 


Prime Time at the Neon Cathouse

Cf., BladeRunner 2049: the interactive advertisement built from the same physiologic code as “Joi.”

QWERTY-BASS; Typographic Jazz on the Mad-Bionic-Writing-Machine!

J. Lucas II. a.k.a. Aesthetarchon



Smith-Corona, Classic 12

Analogue & Digital Word Processing

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*Omit/Replace: -38/6