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 The tragedy of daemonic consciousness.

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PostSubject: The tragedy of daemonic consciousness.    Thu Oct 25, 2012 6:55 am

I don't think Capable will mind if I make a thread about an interaction we had yesterday:



I discovered the concept of the daemonic in psychoanalyzing myself. It is my "disease." It is also the disease of consciousness itself. I can only finish the ethics of my philosophy (and write the fourth book to my four part work) when I have discovered the cure to it, which I obviously have not.


Perhaps the daemonism of consciousness is a disease, as you say. But a disease which represents something, that which is diseased, disorganized, made to be "unhealthy". An interesting perspective Deleuze offers on Nietzsche is that it was his unhealth and his perspective on unhealth, as he was wrought with ailments and disease himself, physically and psychologically, which gave him a perspective on health, and vice versa. Because of the unhealthy nature of his body and "psyche" and the healthy nature of his thought and mind he was supremely able to contrast these with each other, to be that "inner daemonic movement" constituted by the operations of both natures gaining vantage on the other, trying to appropriate the other. It was only until Nietzsche lost his vital perspective and "higher health" of actively constituting himself within this 'gap' between unhealth and health that he went insane, was no longer able to keep his vitality.

All organisms are some standard of health. This standard is a combination of both self-coherence and 'autonomy' with world-coherence and 'sociality'; in relatively weak and dimensionless organisms these two dimensions more or less mirror each other and overlap, they are consistent and operate "smoothly". In stronger natures who are more dimensional these are more fractured and misaligned, producing much inner tension and as you say excessiveness. Too much of this sort of stress tears an organism apart. This can occur either from within the organism itself or from the perspective outside the organism, its "society", if either of these relations changes or decays. But basically the "goal" is adequate alignment with a manageable quantity of excessiveness that is itself inadequate. An entity that can sustain a stronger more excessive nature will be by definition a stronger, more expansive being capable of more insight, wisdom, power and life. All life is some alignment toward a mean. Only "active" life is that life which is able to integrate some disorder within itself, which is how I see your daemonic consciousness, as such an integrated disorder. "One must still have a little chaos within oneself to give birth to a dancing star". Nietzsche was on the right track.

How can there be a cure for this situation? The situation exists as it is, it is this existing, and cannot be said to be constituted without this condition of vital disregulation and active partial syntheses which "strive for the impossible" but in so striving also continuously push themselves higher, or at the least manage to retard their movement in some more or less stable configuration and "slow dying". There seem to be differences in both the rate of living and the rate of dying, differences in speed, vector and "saturation". A means by which an entity unable to cohere itself with available means comes to organize itself into a new constitution in which the daemonic frenzy may rest, as you say, would be the only "cure" for this condition. And it may very well be the case that there is no going back, that once threshholds have been crossed and points overtaken these are no longer able to serve as stabilizing forces or, as you call them, transcendental goods -- a new and higher principle must always be discovered. The notion of the daemonic consciousness itself, the idea of reason reconstituting reason itself, thought and conception reconfigured in light of the images of their own nature, this would seem like the highest possible principle. Whatever would emerge from such a state would be of a different, possibly totally foreign nature than what has emerged from conscious states prior to this.

There is no 'end', the process, the frenzy itself is its own end, to struggle mightily and achieve great things, to grasp the very principle and possibility of one's own nature, to live higher, wider, more fully, and then to perish and decay like everything else. Only full knowledge of fate could ever provide any real consolation in the face of fate itself, and even a presentiment of fate produces some impulsive need to justify oneself before it, and to justify it before oneself.


All very true, but by cure I mean that which would allow this daemonic process to be sustained indefinitely. As such, it is doomed. Anyone who comes down this path will go down this path, if you understand me. Without some new means of sustaining the daemonic consciousness, in and of itself it is doomed to annihilate the self, as Nietzsche was annihilated, which is worse than merely physical death. The daemonic individual continually rises and falls within different modes of existence- aesthetic, ethical, romantic, solitary, etc. The heroic-daemonic, philosophically awakened individual is continuously rising through new spheres, enlarging the circle of his consciousness. But I do not know how that heroic ethic can be practiced without exhausting one's self, so that in the end there is always a final daemonic descent, the ultimate descent, into spiritual darkness and insanity. But there must be a way to do it, there must be an answer for if there is not then I would have been unable to formulate the question.


Some examples of extremely daemonic characters:

Hamlet. Milton's Satan.

From our modern era, Gregory House. He sacrifices everything in the search for the truth, so that he occupies a moral dimension, but he only searches out for the truth because he finds life to be rather boring and enjoys the mental exertion, making his sacrifice a kind of non-sacrifice, making his very selflessness selfishness, so he continually makes a daemonic descent into mere aesthetic existence.

I would like to write a smaller book when I am done with my major work that interprets many characters from classical literature and the Greek mythos, as well as from our own culture, in terms of their daemonic reality. In the characters I just mentioned and in every intensely daemonic personality, we see the glimmering of the "mens heroica" and philosophic mind. These characters bear the tension and pain of their daemonic reality courageously, though in the end they are always self-annihilated. There is another good example of the daemonic personality and its failure: Nietzsche.

Or perhaps this very endeavor would be a good way to start off the fourth and final book to my work. At any rate, the solution to the problems given here elude me. I figure then, this subject would make for a good open talk. I will post some relevant selections from my writing below:

On the tragedy of the daemon:

" Ει ουν φιλοσοφητέον είτε μη φιλοσοφητέον, φιλοσοφητέον, to speak with Athanasius. (Trans. Rather man philosophizes or not, man must be a philosopher.) We cannot, in the manner of one of the old Greeks, name the world a cosmos and beauty until we have named our own soul a cosmos and beauty; to behold and grasp all the world in an idea we must first have come to know ourselves as one particular being and no other and have had everything good and evil rent from the trembling heart and held, not in time, which diffuses our being like colors from a ray of light, but in eternity, which concentrates it. Every man of genius has believed in the eternal, that belief is the very condition of his vitality and flourishing. Perhaps this belief serves as nothing more than an obscuration of the spirit, which man requires if he is to ascend into the highest possible regions of his genius; perhaps he must find all the earth wanting if, like Cassandra of Ilion, he is to utter things not fit for the earth, but it is always the same, and we become like that angel whose wings were set aflame when he reentered this world, if one can entertain the old Gnostic myth. We suffer upon turning back into ourselves, we suffer from the failure to seize upon that inner motion of the heart's genius, which alone could move us to acknowledge the ideal as fate; the consequence of that strange lust which compels us to embrace obscurity, darkness, and uncertainty, but moreover to prefer this benighted world of the self over that law which strikes against the heart when love, fully matured, overcomes and inspires us to act with proud indifference against the hazards of our mortality. Dei virtutem dei sapientiam, [knowledge, for god, is a virtue] or if one may reverse the old theologian's paradox: yes, and man's sin; or, to reinterpret the account of Genesis, what flowered with the greatest sweetness in heaven is reaped with the most bitterness upon the earth."

On the first expansion of the daemonic consciousness:

"We long to hold on to our identity in the face of all suffering, and the more profound our suffering becomes, so the more ardently do we hold on to this identity like Empedocles who, believing himself to be an immortal god, threw himself into the flames of mount Aetna to prove just that, and perished. In the life of the individual, however, this "Empedoclean" suffering must always lead to its contrary state, the suffering of a Faust, which compels a man to willingly seek after the full breadth of human experience, for both its pain and its pleasure, in the desire to be at last born anew. This later suffering characterizes the aesthetic life and, informed as it is by a hopeless desire, must plunge man yet again into Empedoclean suffering, the defiant suffering of the self against the truth and its own pain. This "frenzy," to use the language of Bruno, is precisely the daemonic, the primal moral reality, for it is the individuating power which works, to one degree or another, upon all men, establishing their peculiar natures.

The daemonic institutes the rule of time, which all beings live under and in which they take shape, but which in this case becomes that power in which the individual elects to remain himself in the face of suffering, rather than transform himself. Man can here say with Ovid, nihil est nisi mortis imaga, for the image of his own death is answered by that of universal death. This moral power alone can bring into harmony those two most powerful notes which might alter the meaning of human life, that of man's mortality and that of love, the one which compels man to adopt the profoundest apprehension of his self, and the other which in the same breath makes him wish to be transformed in the image of his longing. A great sentence from the hand of an ancient Greek philosopher says that only he who possesses a glint of heaven in his eye can endure looking at the sun. But we cannot know that this glint is truly born of the heavens and a moral fecundity by looking at meager fires, but we must see if we can endure the sun, the idea, itself. Our love must not be meager, but noble."

And finally, a glance toward the solution:

" Schelling held that it was inhibition, a limiting, that brings things into creation. The original source of all being, the ground of the Almighty, was infinite, but uncreated, to use Eriugena's language. Only when something posed a limit to it could things come into existence, for the almighty was thereby forced by this limit to assume a peculiar structure which we know of as reality. In a similar thought, without something to limit the development of the self it can never become structured. The daemonic being becomes structured, individuated, through the interplay of these two principles within itself, the one limiting it, the other compelling it to expand. Holderlin described a similar situation with his concepts of the aorgic and organic, the spirit and the body, inconceivable nature and nature structured by human thought. But this structure, in distinction to Holderlin's concept of the self, is self-effacing. The frenzied existence of the daemonic, the interaction of the egoic and nonegoic principles, is continually effacing its own productions. This is why I borrowed the term "daemonic" from Bruno's book "eroici frenzie" to describe my concept of the self: it is a self-effacing, frenzied existence. The final destruction of the self, the final renunciation of the self which Holderlin imagined was the apotheosis of tragedy cannot be accomplished through my philosophy: the height of daemonic existence leads to a dramatic reversal through the attaining of "eroici" or heroism, to use Bruno's terms, or what I have called the re-instantiation of the unreflected aspect of the self in reflected self-consciousness.

This philosophy then, I think, would attain the greatest power in not offering itself as something for cohering the self in the manner of old morality and philosophy, through prescriptive ideation, not as a tool for shaping one's self and asserting particular values, but as an instrument for grounding the "daemon." It would do this by fully articulating the middle-ground the daemon occupies, by realizing the continuous discourse between the empirical and transcendental within which man, as a daemonic being, continuously takes form and through which he is continuously effaced.

A necessary step would be in realizing the extremity and depth of daemonic existence: mortality, death. Only from the standpoint of absolute loss, of death itself, can a true philosophy begin. Out of it is born the "mens heroica" or heroicism that will instantiate the discourse between the two spheres itself, constituting a being capable of self-value, capable of weathering the continuous frenzy of its existence as a daemonic being.

Such a philosophy is the great tragic poem, the voice of the not merely broken hero, but the hero defiant in its fate. It is the voice of the sufferer beyond the pangs of all loss and desire, beyond even mourning the death of God, no longer cognizant of any God, dead or living, the voice of identification with the universal tragedy and therefor alone capable of affirming itself as precisely the tragedy's voice, as the recording spirit which passes over the waters and the earth. It is the voice belonging alone to that being that can love itself, for it is the being that alone knows itself, and comprehends out of all the animals its daemonic nature, and is therefor also the voice belonging alone to that being that can love the world-- that world which is nothing less than the middle ground itself, the "middle shrine" as Sophocles named the earth, which is the dwelling place of the daemon, of the being that is born and dies, is created and is effaced, knows itself, and in the next breath is as nothing, which perishes in its own glimpse and image of the eternal.

This standpoint of universal death is the womb of philosophy. Alfred de Vigny penned a few resplendent lines which I took as a quotation to begin this book:

If it is true that in the sacred Garden of the Scriptures,
the Son of Man said what we see reported;
mute, blind and deaf to the cry of all creatures,
if Heaven abandons us like an aborted world,
the just will oppose disdain to this absence,
and will answer from now on with only cold silence
the eternal silence of the Divinity.

Thus it is this cold silence the philosopher finds in the life of all things. Out of that cold silence with which we return the silence of the divinity philosophy learns to speak."


A sik þau trûðu

Nisus ait, "Dine hunc ardorem mentibus addunt,
Euryale, an sua cuique deus fit dira cupido?"

Have the gods set this ruling passion in my heart,
or does each man's furious passion become his god?
- Virgil.

It is not opium which makes me work but its absence, and in order for me to feel its absence it must
from time to time be present.-- Antonin Artaud
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PostSubject: Re: The tragedy of daemonic consciousness.    Sat Sep 20, 2014 12:22 pm

I may have come up with something here.

Not the eternal return but the eternal reset; that the 'problem' of consciousness as the "One Idea", as the end of philosophy and thought, posited as the heights of daemonic speculation, is required to instantiate itself individually in new and lesser modes descending back toward the ground of experience, toward instinct and feeling and toward those emergent forms that have thus-far historically cohered the body in its thinking; "value", "love", "hope" and expectation, desire, etc; these concepts have led in their furthest extension to the one idea, the daemonic consciousness and self-valuing which even encompasses the will to power and all science, all reason, in so far as the "psychological-epistemic" idea of the daemonic and the "ontological-epistemic" idea of self-valuing unite in this "epistemological" core, but that one idea is only a resting place for conception, a widest-possible view that has no way of actually stimulating our affects, our instincts and feelings, because these respond only to particular images and stimuli. The daemon does not rest in its highest idea of itself, it is only dislocated and forcibly removed from that in which is actually does rest, namely its own self-frenzy of activity as the continuous engendering of antitheses and the reconciliations of these and their elements back into synthetic whole-images which then, afterward, must be re-integrated back into the daemonic whole. The daemon basically accomplishes what nature has accomplished in human self-consciousness: rendering itself impossible to continue being what it is. Nietzsche conceived the eternal return and the overman because these were moments of his highest thought descending back downward to be instantiated into particular, living existence in terms of the body, of his affections and feelings, values, hopes, dreams, terrors, loves. Nietzsche made living again his own 'one idea', the idea of the will to power as the universality of "becoming" apropos and contra all "being", by creating the ideas of the eventual coming of the overman and of the eternal recurrence of all things, the eternal infinitude of everything and all things. This was his health-- until he began to posit the concept of the transvaluation of all values as a third 'instantiating idea'; the transvaluation of all values cannot operate as the other two ideas, as the overman or the eternal return, not because it does not flow from Nietzsche's one ideas as these other two do but because it does not provide a means of engendering response in the body of his affects, instincts, feelings; it rather gives more cause to dislocate and dissociate these from themselves, which means from their objects and the apprehensions of their objects.

To cohere the daemon and prevent it from disintegration it would be required that it continuously "renew" itself again and again, not in the typical anti-dialectical operations of which it is made and which it properly expresses but in a new kind of thesis-antithesis that does not give synthesis but comes from synthesis -- comes from the one idea itself, the most complete, most possibly complete synthetic idea. If the daemonic consciousness is able to engender "lower" ideas from itself, from its highest idea, and if these were able to speak directly to the body and to the objects of affection and instinct, as value, hope, joy, pleasure and pain in the mutability of actually living, momentary experience then that one idea would effectively cohere itself by producing a series of modes from itself that would re-orient it back into the living world of consciousness. But this is not yet an "eternal reset".

The reset would come from the fact that the daemon would not only instantiate itself 'downward' in this manner but would also assume the grounds of these lower experiences, of the body and the senses, back up through itself and toward its one idea at the same time, effectively "negating" its own self-preservative, self-fragmenting procession downward. This would not require a new idea so much as it would require only the complete one idea, which it already has and is, in combination with the enlivening of other of its prior, pre-generative ideas back into the primacy of consciousness not as refutations of previously realized or salient content but just as moments within that consciousness, small moments that do not "defeat" or push out the wider moment. How might it achieve pushing such ideas through and in itself without dislocating that wider moment? Precisely the one idea, or more specifically the idea of the one idea as self-partializing, self-instantiating process; namely the whole serial order of regress from which it partializes itself back toward the body and its own formative ground, this thought would act as the mechanism by which it would then be capable of holding onto parts of itself without refuting the whole in which those parts are only momentary, and even negative themselves. This new form becomes the ethic of the one idea applied back to that self from which it has come.

What would result from this in action would be a huge excess of mental and physiological effort and "energy", a great drawing of energy and restlessness as each instinct struggles to remain fixed in both being itself as well as being made to participate forcibly in these higher-order syntheses. Thus the eternal reset would also imply a need for rest, for for absolute reprieve so that the body and mind could actually reset themselves in this manner. In other words the continuous 'resetting' via the daemon applying its one idea ethically as the downward slide into instantiatory partial modes and corresponding sense would need to be supplemented by the periodic shutting-down of this whole process -- namely, sleep. Sleep would become a willing termination of this active effort, and the self would fall to sleep exhausted "unconsciously" from the effort needed to sustain itself and awaken later refreshed, the body's store of energy renewed so that the mind can again begin drawing upon these.

Sleeping would need to become deliberate and desirable for this effect of allowing all the psychological, physiological excess to dissipate. The daemonic ethic would need to be restarted every waking period, or at least periodically upon having previously awakened.

Another example of deliberate reset would be making art, in particular art that allows thought to rest in its own image as daemonic process and super-daemonic ethical series of regressive modes and their corresponding values and senses. "Virtue" would be a third possible way of sustaining the eternal reset.

In this scheme, thoughts become off-shoots of the daemonic consciousness not only following through with its proper activity, as it has been doing, but also working to split itself off from itself by creating specific ideas that re-work the old ideas in which "psychology" and "conscience" had been located. Personality would appear as a particularly important form of automatic regulation of the daemonic process, as over time certain structural pathways out of the one idea and back into the grounds of the self would take precedence over others. Thinking would still occur as normal in addition to this more deliberate production of ideas, and the balance would be settled over time how much effort is needed to deliberately work one's ideas back into one's completed, synthetic and anti-synthetic thinking. Most important would be the process of daemonically re-categorizing thoughts in terms of this higher ethical process, in terms of those new ideas engendered by that process. For example, how I re-categorized Nietzsche's ideas of the eternal return and the overman in terms of how these allowed Nietzsche's one idea to remain undivorced from the ground of his actual, momentary, lived experience, from his self. The will to power itself could also be re-categorized in this sense, not only as Nietzsche's complete idea in which his self rested (became absent in time to itself) but also as another possible ethical procession through which lesser idea arise that do instantiate the downward movement of the daemon.

It would only be this idea of the transvaluation, the re-valuation of all values that could not participate in that process; this idea instead is like the empty form of the idea of self-valuing, and I can see perhaps why Nietzsche's thought failed here. The eternal return could only act as an ethical idea instantiating the daemonic if that idea included a concept of the universal-subjective nature of being (for Nietzsche, of becoming) in so far as the thought of re-, de- and un-valuing all previous "values" would not then also give cause to remove the ethical possibility from the daemonic process, would not cut it off from its own distant ground, would not curtail the self in its living experience. Thus self-valuing, VO frees Nietzsche's final and terrible idea to also become participatory in the wider daemonic consciousness and correspondingly to preserve and enliven the self, to expand its freedom and allow for its natural and naturalizing health rather than, as was the case with Nietzsche, constricting that freedom to the pre-existing daemonic constituents of moral objects and object-relations; no matter the depth and heights of those objects and relations they would be unable to allow the daemon of consciousness to cohere itself as a lasting process if those same ideas and relations were at the same time cutting-off the daemonic overflow from that which it must seek to eniven and reconnect back into itself at its 'end'.
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