Shit

“Let us at once add that, on the other hand, the fact that there was on earth an animal soul turned against itself, taking sides against itself, meant there was something so new, profound, unheard of, enigmatic, contradictory, and full of the future, that with it the picture of the earth was fundamentally changed. In fact, it required divine spectators to appreciate the dramatic performance which then began and whose conclusion is by no means yet in sight—a spectacle too fine, too wonderful, too paradoxical, to be allowed to play itself out senselessly and unobserved on some ridiculous star or other! Since then man has been included among the most unexpected and most thrillingly lucky rolls of the dice in the game played by Heraclitus’ “great child,” whether he’s called Zeus or chance.* For himself he arouses a certain interest, a tension, a hope, almost a certainty, as if something is announcing itself with him, something is preparing itself, as if the human being were not the goal but only a way, an episode, a bridge, a great promise…”

Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morals

1

Now I have you! Certainty stands behind me: the walls are getting smaller. I know this because the distance between the toilet and the bed is less than it was yesterday. If there were a window to this room I could use the position of the light to calculate more precisely but they’d taken even that luxury away from me. So, yes, I can’t say for sure how much they’ve moved, but I know that they did. God is benevolent, he wouldn’t deceive me. And for what? Such a small joke, the smallest in fact? They’d already taken the window, so why this? Why even this? Or what if nothing’s moved and the joke’s on me? If only they’d give me  a window I could precisely calculate the distance using the position of the light!

2

If, running as fast as you can, you inadvertently run into a wall, or any structure really, and you splatter yourself against it,  then it has changed you. For the better? Worse? You know now to watch for walls when you run, but little bits and ounces of you remain on the floor where you fell; these have learned nothing, they simply remain. So you now also know that besides the sheer sense of your running as fast as you can there is an inside to you as well. Watch for walls or you’ll splatter your delicate insides. But under and below your newfound awareness are the bits and ounces you’d originally splattered all over the floor. They’re still there.

3

Every expenditure necessarily leaves behind a wasteful remainder, whether it be sweat, heat, or a toxic cesspool. So the construction of a city should always figure into its architecture the creation of a ghetto – such an intent has never taken place. Anyone who’s strolled through a modern ghetto, say, the west side of Chicago, knows first hand of the stretches of undeveloped land, boarded-up buildings, and people slowly strolling nowhere in particular. Left behind in the global movement of capital, a movement whose triumphs produces an increasingly disproportionate remainder, the only thing that remains for the membership of waste is to ensure they don’t get out of hand, that they don’t take on a life of their own.

This last principle can be illustrated rather simply: if you shit in the middle of your kitchen, and leave it there, you shouldn’t be surprised if maggots are birthed and fungi find a habitat. This invitation extends onwards to other consumers, and upwards to their predators, until an ecosystem has situated itself around the feces you left in the kitchen. And perhaps it now becomes improper to speak of the kitchen as your kitchen, but rather as a home, a world.

This illustration also sheds light on a well-known conclusion of both Friedrich Nietzsche and Sigmund Freud: that the “depth” of the human psyche is a product of an animal homo sapiens finding itself material for figuring by the exigencies of civilization; that in the movement and mechanism of the psyche, our inner turmoil, the roots of cognition, is the waste of processes unknown to that cognition. So the purpose of moral Law, the super-ego, is to ensure that this waste product take on no life of its own. Spontaneous generation is the theory of life that permits life to take root even in the lowest recesses, shit in particular. The quotation of Nietzsche which prefaces this writing could thus be understood as a revitalization of spontaneous generation, now less a strict theory of biological reproduction than the preservation of the possibility that life become whatever else without precedent.

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~ by Benoît on April 30, 2010.

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