against the day,  Foucault,  literature,  philosophy,  thomas pynchon

Chums of Chance, Lines of Flight, Thomas Pynchon

Reading Against the Day, by Thomas Pynchon…

“Structures are defined by that which escapes them…” V2, hyperbolic narrative arc traced across the sky, its silent and unannounced arrival among the humble homes of wartime wine-jelly-feasting Londoners known only by the anticipation manifest by Slothrop prescient anatomy… An arc drawn out by Brenschluss, motivation on the launch pad is matched by motivation at the landing site, that is, a hard on for culture and women… Arcs are drawn also by Altman and Paul Thomas Anderson, each of whom permits himself a little divine intervention: earthquakes, frogs, and an operatic moment to bind coincidental relationships with song. Vineland, a mad defenestrator has worked out that it takes but one annual performance to obtain government funds… Structures are defined by who escapes them… And a Line of Flight, yes, no doubt now that Deleuze and Guattari’s Book of Italian Wedding Cakes contains some useful recipes, is drawn by the Chums of Chance (again, chance in the V2, chance in altman/anderson) as the Inconvenience drops from the sky to mark points on the map of the world. Distributed according to Poisson, Deleuze, or God himself, points on a line are described by our man Pynchon’s narrathmatical and aerognostical operation…

“The new archivist proclaims that henceforth he will deal only with statements. He will not concern himself with what pervious archivists have treated in a thousand different ways: propositions and phrases. He will ignore both the vertical hierarchy of propositions which are stacked on top of one another, and the horizontal relationship established between phrases in which each seems to respond to another. Instead he will remain mobile, skimming along in a kind of diagonal line that allows him to read what could not be apprehended before, namely statements. Is this perhaps an atonal logic?….
“But in the space of two chapters Foucault rigorously demonstrates that contradictions between statements can be measured only by calculating the concrete distance between them within this space of rarity. Comparisons between statements are therefore linked to a mobile diagonal line that allows us, within this space, to make a direct study of the same set at different levels, as well as to choose some sets on the same level while disregarding others (which in turn might presuppose another diagonal line.) It is precisely the rarefied nature off this space which creates these unusual movements and bursts of passion that cut space up into new dimensions. To our amazement, this ‘incomplete, fragmented form’ shows, when it comes to statements, how not only few things are said, but ‘few things can be said.’ What consequences from this transportation of logic will find their way into that element of rarity or dispersion which has nothing to do with negativity, but which on the contrary forms that ‘positivity’ which is unique to statements?
“Foucault also tries to reassure us, though: if it is true that statements are essentially rare, no originality is needed to produce them. A statement always represents a transformation of particular elements distributed in a corresponding space. As we shall see, the formations and transformations of these spaces themselves pose topological problems that cannot be adequately be described in terms of creation, beginning or foundation. When studying a particular space, it matters even less whether a statement has taken place for the first time, or whether it involves repetition or reproduction. What counts is the regularity of the statement: it represents not the average but the whole statistical curve. In effect the statement is to be associated not with the transmission of particular elements presupposed by it but with the shape of the whole curve to which they are related, and more generally with the rules governing the particular field in which they are distributed and reproduced.”
Foucault, by Gilles Deleuze pp 1-4

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