I – The Charter

Text in pdf : Clémence Ortega Douville – The place the hands can’t seek – I – The Charter

We would like to summon here all that in the structure of thinking is sometimes leading us to choose between alternatives. We can either go with the flow of one society’s time, regardless of where it is heading at, or take a step backward and try to think of its direction – and then try to determine whether we should follow it or not.

As to the ecological matter and the impact of neoliberalism on our ecosystems, the response is no, we shouldn’t follow the general statement that we will prevail over any other kind of living. Our economical and (geo)political system is ill, and we ought to drive our generations to another path.

In an article for the Monde Diplomatique, french sociologist Pierre Bourdieu wrote in march 19981 that the strategy of neoliberal ideology was to erase all the collective structures between the corporations and the capital. First of these structures were the States. Then went the Unions and the individuals working.

Violence is a shock2, because in violence you realise that the mean to destruction is a straight line. Aggression can be managed. It can be dodged and danced around. Violence is a mean to be direct on the object of destructive impulse – and it is measured through the harsh restraint of the moral laws.

Violence is an absolute. It is so because as we saw it, it is born from a paradoxal situation : I want to destroy, I want to assimilate, to eat, to love, but I can’t. And I first can’t because I know that there are things that I can’t assimilate without damaging myself.

First of them all, my own hands, that even if seen as outside objects in my vision, cannot be assimilated as one of them without denying my self. There is a sensorimotor paradox, the fact that my hands cannot be at the same time the object of my fascination and the mean to catch themselves – not one by the other, but themselves by themselves, individually. And there is a symbolic paradox : as soon as I try to express identity and unity, the concept of the me, I have to get out of my self to communicate it through some sign – then, language.

This is the fundamental idea, the core of the three paradoxes theory, as to which I invite you to the corpus of articles preceeding.

But first, before entering the ideas of the theory for themselves, we would like to adress a particular question when talking about this matter. What is the ethical point of raising a theory on the probable conditions of possibility and birth of the human mind ?

What if we did actually raise a valid conception of how it could have taken place in the early times of our evolution ? What if, from the sensorimotor enacted – derived from neurobiologist Francisco Varela’s enaction concept – behaviour of the other species, to the morally restrained behavioural structure of the human species, we found a soft and progressive theoretical key to understand their crucial differences ?

What to do with it ?

The program is vast, and the consequences large. It could not only impact the field of science, for it is a question that has been tackled since the beginnings of our time. Then, if someone came to you and told you : « I have the key to understand this », what would you do with it ?

First, it is to hope that you would intent to find your own reason out of it. Secondly, it is also to hope that you would try to reason our societies’ self-destructive behaviour. Because what a theory such as the one proposed here is stating, is that it is all indeed in our hands.

Yet, we do know how ill our societies are, because it has been forged on unsound fundations. Violence is a direct line, and people holding power by force are the most aggressive. Then to come to a position of power, we are taught to be as aggressive, if not even more aggressive than them. It is not a race for survival, it is competition for the ecstasy of ‘jouissance’ – the lacanian ‘plus-de-jouir’.

Because the ‘jouissance’ is the holding of the object of desire, of phantasy, without the capacity to release them.3 The violence of it is a direct line too : I have to hold and I can’t get to it anyway – because the holding is in itself the object of desire. The power to desire is in itself the object of desire. I have to desire to feel that I desire – again, a paradox, because it is meant not to get me anywhere anyway – except for the absolute it aims at : a self-destructive cycle of absorption.

We would like then here to establish a charter. A charter to guarantee that looking at the object of the theory – the mechanisms of the birth of the human mind – we would be entitled with a moral and ethical responsability : not to use it for the worst.

We therefore establish a charter in several points :

1) The mention of violence as a structural feature of the theory of the Three Paradoxes is not a validation of violence. It is more a prototypical structure than an archetypical one. That violence, in its relation to morals, could have been at the origin of the formation of thinking doesn’t mean that its end should be a violent one. Any birth is violent, because it creates the new, but not every born has to be a violent one.

2) Analysing the relation to the hand – as to the paradox of the gazed hand – should not lead to experimentations to an end of enhancing or breaking individuals’ abilities. We oppose any attempt to use a theory meant to understand our private nature, as a species, with any intention to dominate or control our siblings. On the contrary, we wish it could help bringing fluidity to anyone’s own relationship with their identity, as we belong to a same kind, living on the same one planet.

3) We wish that these ideas could lead to better cooperation between the individuals, given that we are all responsible to the way we enshrine our existence in our own cultural narrative. We wish to highlight the necessity to read cultural as well as individual differences as something that is indigenous and idiosyncratic, regardless of the economical and financial globalisation’s attempt to bring uniformity and predicatability to all territories. We believe in heterogenous spaces and indigenous identities inside of a shared heritage as a species on a shared biosphere.

4) These theoretical researches and ideas should help create more egalitarian societies and encourage the reinforcement of counter-powers to the dominant and self-destructive current neoliberal model. It is not time anymore to grant this model with the benefit of the doubt. It is highly harmful and should be up to its end. Bringing an idea about paradoxes and violence in humans’ behavioural structure is not only a scientific act, it is a political act. We act to take side for reason, not a fashionable illusion for an unsustainable and inequitable order.

5) And at last, according oneself to these ideas should lead to favor a more harmonious relation to our natural environments and ecosystems in their specificities and diversity, as well as we wish to favor a greater respect to the diverse forms of living among all the species having been able to develop on Earth. Reason should lead us to limit any destructive initiative that would break the balance of an equitable living to all. It is now that we have to guarantee that. That means rethinking the urban world. That means thinking local and cooperative. That means that we don’t have to live under pressure, because violence is one thing that we invented. Violence is ours, and we can and should decide that it is not a fatality.

We are not talking here of utopia, because the aim of our theoretical ensemble is to prove that there is no mystical explanation to our being here that hasn’t been a deeper part of us.

This is the first page of a say that would try to explain you why.

2And we can think of journalist Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine to remind us how it is accurate in our societies.

3We invite you here to read the accurate analysis on this point proposed by psychoanalyst Darian Leader in his book Hands.

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