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BRITISH-IRISH-POETS  1998

BRITISH-IRISH-POETS 1998

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Subject:

(Fwd) Re Prynne Revival

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Date:

Thu, 30 Apr 1998 15:37:46 GMT

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If this didn`t get to the list first time round, then here it is.  If 
it did, then you don`t need to read this.  I`ve taken the liberty of 
removing the `las` from `Douglas`, despite amputating the accidental 
reference to GLAS in the process.

Dear Doug,
 
Thanks for your fascinating post.  I`m no expert in any of the fields 
you examine, I`m not even an amateur, so please excuse the naivety of 
the following suggestions...

>h)...take the mind in the action of becoming aware: that too is accompanied
>by a miniscule biological process, and is therefore open to quantum level
>phenomena.  The Black Hole mathematician, Penrose, has latterly been claiming
>that the fact of consciousness, of mind, can't be explained without examining
>the quantum level - and he is convinced that there's a new mathematics to be
>invented which will resolve the Schroedinger equation and bridge across from
>the probability wave, the cat alive and dead, to the single resolution of it
>in real life, alive or dead.

Doug, you are incomparably more familiar with this stuff than I 
am.  I speed-read the occasional review in the TLS et al and that`s 
all.  But Derrida might argue (and I`m aware of how stupid I`m sounding when 
that I say) that your "miniscule biological process" can only relate to 
some other element in its immediate past, and another in its 
immediate future: that this relation would create the "present" 
moment of becoming aware in its connection to a lack of awareness and 
an already-awareness.  The "miniscule biological process" would then 
itself be divided by its extension in space, whether at a quantum 
level or not.  And you could argue that your example is not an 
arbitrary one (not that you argued that it was) as it represents the 
invention of the self-presence of presence in its self-awareness, 
the, or one, cornerstone of metaphysics.  Penrose`s argument could be 
said to suppose "that, prior to the sign and outside it, excluding 
any trace and any differance, something like consciousness is 
possible.  And that consciousness, before distributing its signs in 
space and in the world, can gather itself into its presence." 
(Derrida, "Differance") And perhaps Penrose`s interminably patient vigil for 
a math-to-come is a stalling exercise; the math-to-come would, it is 
hoped, explain consciousness without recourse to explaining it as "an 
effect or a determination" because Penrose has decided that`s not 
what it is without being able to explain why.  The inability to 
locate or define consciousness, which he readily admits, is perfectly 
adequately explained by Derrida`s differance.  Stephen Hawking 
criticises Penrose for an excessive attachment to "reality" or to a 
particular definition of it or to a wish to define it (I`m not too 
clear on this sort of thing.), an excessive attachment to the reality 
of reality in its self-presence, hence the need (not felt by Hawking) 
to diagnose the cat.
 
Re: "two axes of 
linguistics".  Can a working linguistic theory afford to do away with 
these yet?  Prynne`s own William Matthews lectures explain why 
literary criticism routinely transgresses Saussure`s doctrine of the 
arbitrary nature of the sign, but, it seems to me, does so on the 
basis of a necessary retention of the two axes.  Lit. Crit`s (and 
Lit. Lang`s) transgressions are founded upon exploitation of the 
ladder of the paradigmatic or vertical axis.  

These are no more than tentative forays, and there is much in your 
post that I don`t feel qualified to comment upon.  The elucidation of 
Prynne`s poetry by reference to the advanced sciences was of great 
interest to me and I hope you can be persuaded to enlarge upon the 
subject.

all best

robin 


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