This is not a Tumblr.
The Optimality of Love
There’s this concept in Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology of perception called “optimality.” It argues that there is a particular concordance of sense perception, of bodily disposition, that works best in particular situation. An example would be of glasses: to a person whose vision is impaired, the impairment is the norm of their visual perception. It is not optimal for operation within the world because they do not have an accurate concordance of sense. However, it is normal for the individual in so far as the individual does not know a concordance of senses that is better for movement through the world.
When the visually impaired individual is given glasses, a new norm is put in place. We might call this super-normal. This new norm is optimal for moving about in the world in so far as the situation of moving through the world requires a particular concordance of senses, a particular disposition of the body. If the glasses are taken away, vision reverts to the previous norm and is thus less than optimal. This sub-optimality is perceived by the organism as a disruption in the sense experience, a disjunction in the world, and so the body continually strives to attain the optimum that it has lost.
Our affective sensibilities are like this. We can take the example of love. Once one has experience romantic love, a deep connection with another lived body, a new norm is put in place of the old norm. Depending on the depth of the affective relation, the love, the individual will look back on their experience prior to the relationship and wonder how they managed to exist in the absence of this love, this new norm. This new norm becomes the optimal mode of being in the world for the person in question, at least until the relationship ends.
In other posts on the subject, I have indicated how the severing of a relationship introduces a disorientation where a subject keeps reaching out into the world for something to arrest the affective freefall. Further, I’ve written on how the personal time of the individual halts because they are literally attempting to posit a future that simply cannot be. Here, I am prepared to argue that both of these situations are the result of being forced into a sub-optimal being in the world.
That is, in the termination of the relationship, the individual loses the optimality of the intersubjective relation with another person that enhanced and enriched their life. Their life was made super-normal in the presence of another, and when that presence is gone, they return to a norm that they now recognize as sub-optimal for being in the world. To this end, the person attempts to reassert that optimality in their pre-personal world, only to be confronted at each moment by the ending of that world. The realization of the end of their optimal world and the return to a sub-optimal world throws the individual back onto themselves painfully. We experience this as longing, grief, depression, pain, and it comes to characterize our world.
So, how do we get out of this? We don’t. The simple truth of the matter is that, as organisms, we keep reaching for the optimal. But, the optimality that we experience can never be experienced again, that world has ended. It is not that we accept the end of the relationship and “move on,” it is that we accept our new norm in light of the optimality that we once experience. It is the awareness of an optimal that keeps us reaching out into the world: once we know that there is something beyond our normal, that normal is no longer satisfying and we are driven to attain a state of optimality again.
To this end, we don’t really “get over” something or someone until we attain a new optimal, until something enriches our world in a way that is different or beyond the optimal that we experienced previously. That is not to say that an intersubjective relation always provides this new optimality, but our reaching out into the world eventually grasps something that enriches our life in such a way as to make the optimal that we have lost seem diminished in comparison.
The new optimal is never the same as the previous, but it must exceed the previous optimal otherwise the organism will keep reaching out into the world for something, anything. Given the the affective allure of love, the way it throws us back onto ourselves to prompt a whole new way of taking up our own existence and transcendence, very few things can stand in for that intersubjective relation, and it is only in light of a new optimal that we are ever free form attempting to posit the world that we lost.
catsuitmonarchy asked: Hi Matt, I just wanted to let you know that I took issue 3 of Sex Criminals into the strip club I work at and the staff went wild for it. All of your work is apparently popular in strip clubs. Talking about Hawkeye has gotten me nearly as much cash as talking about Batman. I just wanted you to know that for some reason.
Talking about Hawkeye has gotten me nearly as much cash as talking about Batman.
if i give you spoilers for upcoming issues do you think we can overtake that spoiled-ass depressive rich racist or what?
Cultural Appropriation, Star Wars and the Myths of White Supremacy
“Look, without our stories, without the true nature and reality of who we are as People of Color, nothing about fanboy or fangirl culture would make sense. What I mean by that is: if it wasn’t for race, X-Men doesn’t sense. If it wasn’t for the history of breeding human beings in the New World through chattel slavery, Dune doesn’t make sense. If it wasn’t for the history of colonialism and imperialism, Star Wars doesn’t make sense. If it wasn’t for the extermination of so many Indigenous First Nations, most of what we call science fiction’s contact stories doesn’t make sense. Without us as the secret sauce, none of this works, and it is about time that we understood that we are the Force that holds the Star Wars universe together. We’re the Prime Directive that makes Star Trek possible, yeah. In the Green Lantern Corps, we are the oath. We are all of these things—erased, and yet without us—we are essential.” — Junot DíazEver since I saw this quote I’ve been thinking about my favorite fantasy franchises like Star Wars, and how they function in entirely white worlds while depending on racial tropes and stereotypes in order to build that world. For example, the Jedi Knights very clearly draw from Buddhist philosophies, and yet they are almost all played by white men.Another striking example though is the costuming of Padme, played by Natalie Portman, in the newer SW movies.For example:
This exquisite and elaborate regalia is based directly off off Mongolian royal attire, pictured below:
I mean they weren’t really trying to be subtle about it. They just assumed, as most white people do, that nobody watching Star Wars would care or know enough about Asian cultures to notice.
This exquisite hairstyle is also borrowed from a POC culture, specifically an NDN one.
The above image is titled simply “Hopi Girl” and was taken by a white male photographer named Edward S. Curtis who obviously didn’t care to differentiate his subjects with names. The Hopi nation is based in the Southwestern United States.
Maaaaaaaan fuck Star Wars.
IN THE NEWS
Afro-Futurism class hosts Ytasha Womack
On Wednesday, December 4, we hosted YTASHA WOMACK at for Fall 2013 Afro-Futurism: Pathways to Black Liberation class! Ytasha Womack is a journalist, author, filmmaker who just published Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci-Fi and Fantasy Culture, an exciting new contribution to Afro-Futurism studies, a kind of primer covering a wide range of trajectories in the AF continuum with interview excerpts from AF scholars & practitioners (including yours truly!). She is a beautiful force of nature and we were so fortunate to have a chance to hear from and talk with her in person. I especially appreciated that she spoke with us about the writing and promotion of Rayla 2212 and how it was the first time she had used social media and digital methods entirely to promote and release a book, bypassing the traditional publishing route.
nigitmare asked: oh noooo, a painting or presentation about a historical figure is cropped to focus on the historical figure...
OMG YOU’RE RIGHT
We totally can learn much more about History and Art History from this:
Than we can from this:
I mean, what about this guy???? He’s totally from history!!!
But actually this work is about revolutionizing military painting because this is The Surrender of Breda by Diego Velasquez
Or, let’s talk about Luis Sotelo the Franciscan Monk! Did you know he traveled literally around the world??? He’s so great! So learned! Just look at him from this painting held in the Vatican!!!!!!
But hey let’s NOT talk about the only reason he ever went anywhere, which was because he was accompanied by Hasekura Tsunenaga and his retinue, who were secret Japanese ambassadors to the Pope in Rome, which is where and why they were painted at all:
Are we getting any clearer yet?
ATTENTION AFRICAN ACADEMICS, ARTISTS and THINKERS PLEASE SIGNAL BOOST
2014 John Douglas Taylor Conference: Contemporary Orientations in African Cultural Studies
May 30 – June 1, 2014, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario.
Call for Papers (Deadline: November 15, 2013)
1) Please send 300 word paper and/or panel proposals to email@example.com by November 15th, 2013.
2) Attach a short biographical note (50-100 words).
3) Type “African Cultural Studies Proposal” in the subject line of your email.
For more information, please consult our website, at http://africanculturalstudies.wordpress.com/.