When I was in high school, my American History teacher — the late, great Robert Tucker — had us read Gabriel Kolko’s essay on the formation of the USDA in which Kolko claimed that the USDA and its dispensation of approval — those assuring gradations of meat — were not born of consumer advocacy but were in fact a foil of the meat industry, an industry suffering due to Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle” which exposed the grotesqueries of meat packing.
The USDA, then, was not only not there to protect my fellow citizens and me — it was in fact an elaborate abuse of governmental ethos, a ploy to move product, a product which may very well be harmful to the very citizens the USDA was nominally formed to protect.
At first, I thought I was attracted to this act of revelation, the truth unleashed from the dissimulation of authority. But that was not it at all.
What attracted me, what sent my heart a flutter, was the radical shifting of perspectives. Which is to say, it was not the new perspective per se which interested me: it was the very act of seeing things differently.
It took me some time to realize that I was not in accord with the revisionist Marxists. They wanted to reveal a perspective, their perspective. What I wanted, however, was to have that moment — that moment when the world rearranges itself before my eyes, reorganizes itself into new configurations, that glorious moment when the world is born anew, when everything I thought was the truth turns out to be just another configuration, that moment when the dead world is reanimated — I wanted that moment again and again and again.
And this is what I love so much about taking up new and different philosophers: I want to see the world utterly anew. I want to have everything I know, my ordering of the universe, to be reassembled — Nietzsche’s biting reversals and insistent physiology; Hegel’s schizo chorus comedy of errors; Kant’s mad mad rational wacky architecture; Derrida’s pedantic double gestures; Deleuze and Guattari’s intensities, folds, and planes of immanence; Bergson’s endurance and flash of intuition: I want them all.
I’m not looking for the right one: they’re all right in their way. No, I don’t want what’s right: I want the pleasure, the delight, the delirium of all those different ways.
Each thinker gives me a different way of making sense — and the more I read, the more I digest them, the more this multiplicity plays through my head, through my eyes, through my blood and guts.
And so then I can see the world in radically disparate ways all at once, an endlessly shifting series of planes of understanding, the world aligning and realigning itself at infinite speed. It is a an exquisite vertigo, a thrill of relentless (re)creation, an erotics of the world folding over and through itself. And I love it.