Locus Amoenus

‘The friends that have it I do wrong
Whenever I remake a song
Should know what issue is at stake,
It is myself that I remake.’ —W.B. Yeats

The picture on the wall is work [in process] in a work completed, then coming undone. it’s an incomplete cartoon of Henri Rousseau’s ‘Eve’ (1). Eve has left the enclosure, the locus amoenus (2). Merleau-Ponty says, ‘Inside and outside are inseparable.’ But they are separate, like contrary or opposed pairs. The art/wall separates and joins the opposites–behavior and experience,  joy and desire. Eve is walking away, arm and arm, with a man who could be a god or a corporate devil. More opposites?

Merleau-Ponty again ‘We are nothing but a view of the world.’ The artist–his legs, at least–is our point of view here, call him Adam, if you will. But really if you think about it, ‘in the beginning’ there was ‘me’ reflecting on my reflecting. Me reflecting upon being nothing except by ‘looking at’ something, thereby being as much that something as the invented ‘self’ I foolishly call my own, when in fact it’s as much part of all else that’s out there as what’s in here. ‘Inside and outside are inseparable,’ again.

The naked (3) woman is the desirer’s desired, she, outside the wall, is ‘figure’ and inside, on the drawing, by her absence, is ‘ground.’ She’s subject and object, forever connected but held as apart as the desirer is from his desiring. The desirer is his desiring. but is that which is desired (his memories, fantasies of, feeling for her) more him than her? How does she does feel about her part of his looking-at her–if she notices at all–is she amused, honored or repulsed? Of course, she is a desirer too, but she desire obviously doesn’t desire him.

 “Love’s pleasure drives his love away,
The painter’s brush consumes his dreams;” —W.B. Yeats

Then there’s the guy in the suit who looks like Michelangelo’s god, but is wearing the grey coat of a corporate devil. Gods were the first and corporations the second attempts the we humans have made at artificial intelligence. (3) We’ve attempted to be more than human though both of them. The god in Genesis said  ‘Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever.’ He was not happy.

The god in Genesis didn’t know he was created by humans not the other way around, and happy or not there was nothing he could do to stop us from trying. Gods as A.I. have had their time and that is now past. That vengeful-forgiving patriarch of the Judeo-Christian tradition as well as the natural gods and goddesses before him, and the indifferent watchmaker of enlightenment science after, are gone. They have become history.

Not so for corporations, they are still with us. They were created by humans to be like humans when it suits the creators and unlike them when that suits. Like the way the gods of old were made. Corporations are combos of immortal being and an amoral institution. that’s above the human law. But they are actually lower, more reptilian than human, hardly ‘in our own image, our own likeness.’ More the cunning serpent, who’s back with a vengeance, more immoral than amoral.

notes:

1– In Gen.1 the woman was created at the same time as the man. They have no names.  In Gen.2, the god tells the man to name things. The god names the man ‘Adam’ in Gen.3, and after the fall Adam names the woman Eve. The woman in Gen.1 could easily be the later-named ‘Lilith’ who’s  described in other ancient literature as a demon and in medieval texts as merely demanding equality with man and leaving upon being refused it.

2–‘Pleasant place’ in Latin, an artistic trope, often ironic, either as a scene of uncivilized (lust)  or violent (anger) behavior

3– Nakedness, it’s association with both shame and desire, is especially confusing in western art. the woman here in an ‘art’ lacks shame altogether, she’s proud to be able to create desire in others and thereby use them. she’s definitely more Lilith than Eve.

4– Round three is computers. the first one that are not really dependent on humans. gods and corporations require ‘churches’ ‘priests’ and ‘believers,’ computers in the long run will not. will we who remain be pets or pests to them? Only time will tell.

Advertisements