Tuesday, February 08, 2005

How to Ride the Chaosmos and Avoid the Downward Spiral: Fragments from a Chaos Aesthetic-Ethic

Georges Bataille (from his book “guilty”):

“Life is a result of disequilibrium and instability. Stable forms are needed to make it possible however. Going from one extreme to the other, from one desire to another, from a state of collapse to frantic tension if the movement speeds up, there can only be ruin and emptiness. We have to stake out courses that are stable enough. To shrink from fundamental stability isn't less cowardly than to hesitate about shattering it. Perpetual instability is more boring than adhering strictly to a rule, and only what's in existence can be made to come into disequilibrium, that is, to be sacrificed. The more equilibrium the object has, the more complete it is, and the greater the disequilibrium or sacrifice that can result. These principles conflict with morality, which necessarily is a levelling force and an enemy to alternation. They destroy the romantic morality of confusion as much as they do the opposite morality”.

A whole aesthetics-ethic is compressed in this quote…it needs to be decompressed (with help from Gilles Deleuze and Hakim Bey) into a new ethics… an ethics of chaos…for life is all about what the Greeks called Kairos: the right moment or occasion: at the instant of disequilibrium (the edge of chaos) when something that was of the same causal order (i.e. equilibrium) jumps the linear continuum and passes into something else: an “event” emerges.

Roland Barthes discussing (in Camera Lucida) a Mapplethorpe self-portrait illustrates very well this “right disequilibrium”… this “edge of chaos” cultivated by an ethics-aesthetics of the Kairos - which is an eroticism of lived life desperately fighting the pornographic weight-gravity of life’s downward spiral:

” the photographer has caught the boy’s hand…at just the right degree of openness, the right density of abandonment: a few millimetres more or less and the divined body would no longer have been offered with benevolence (the pornographic body shows itself, it does not give itself, there is no generosity in it): the photographer has found the right moment, the kairos of desire”.

If we miss the Kairos (at any other moment it would have been the mere pornographic repetition of the same) no generosity or real desire is possible, no event happens… the usual dreariness of life... of Schopenhauer’s: “no rose without a thorn. but many a thorn without a rose” sets in…always the downward spiral…?