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.


Such L o v e l y Pictures

Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange: a hermeneutic—contra apologia

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).


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

“ […] we imagine a brunette singer who reads Proust with sexy tattoos—out of place, in a cool-blue, historiographic dream.”

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

“The last flickering light of the city of angels…inorganic prostitution.”

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–strike through a 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.”

Mad-Love-Mechanical-Head

Tribute to Haussmann: appropriating and aestheticizing Dadaist anti-art and dialectical materialism

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


Tribute to Haussmann: appropriating and aestheticizing Dadaist anti-art and dialectical materialism

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

IMG_0209-3
*Omit/Replace: -38/6