Friday, 6 January 2012

Trick, schtick, or cut to the quick: on the locating of depths by argument

So what constitutes the village is neither the site nor the huts, but a certain structural pattern... It is therefore easy to understand why the missionaries, by interfering with the traditional layout of the village, destroy everything.
Tristes Tropiques, Claude Lévi-Strauss

Depth model argument achieves its goal, the capture of the statements of an other, by aiming its analysis at the ground beneath its antagonist's statements. 

Depth models, or meta-narratives (such as marxism or psychoanalysis) are energised by the premise that there is, in any given scene, something else that is organising it, and that this hidden pressure can be brought into the light. 

There follows a list of some conventional, and perhaps pathological, moments that are inherent to depth model analysis: i. There must be motives beneath the play. ii. There must be rules beneath the motives in play. iii. There must be a tendency beneath the rules. iv. There must be a force beneath the tendency. v. There must be a relation beneath the force. And I am the one to reveal it. 

The depth model analyst finds his own argument in the ground of the other. As depth model analysts, we are condemned, or we are expected. Or, it is written into our role to find that the emperor is wearing clothes but in fact there is no emperor wearing them. 

This move of mind towards revelation, which discovers inconsistency, or non-coherence in the form of a deeply hidden organising principle, is a prerequisite of mind and so we are condemned, or expected, to continue to perform it. There is a supposed coherence in our compulsion to find out but if it is a compulsion there also can be no coherence. Discovering the rules of the scene is our melancholy vice. 

Look! There is a hole at the heart of everything, even in the hole itself, and even in the gesture of discovering that the hole is not whole. 

Even the compulsion to reveal contradictory depth itself is demonstrated to be ambivalent, multiform, polyvalent, overdetermined and thus a vehicle of other forces which are obscured from the one who is thus compelled to reveal. 

Perhaps, there is a destructive logic in this methodology, something given, something voracious that even now is being substantiated off-stage and which does not manifest itself in the gesture of revealing. There is something hidden in the act of revealing. There is some displaced midden that is accumulating elsewhere, even as we are taking things apart right here

Or, perhaps the leap is too long: i. to say x is not coherent in depth; ii. should not be extended to x has a void in its depth; iii it is better to use the model of the soil core sample; iv there is differentiated depth in the record of the object... there are geological layers and events. v. Perhaps absence is not necessarily an Absence, but only an absence in the geological record.