Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Reading Eric Packer and Elise Shifrin Through Destiny

On The Continental Divide Trail
Against this assumption into generalized exchange, this movement of convergence towards the Single and the Universal: the duel form, irrevocable divergence. Against all that is striving to reconcile the antagonistic terms: maintain impossible exchange, lay on the very impossibility of that exchange, lay on that tension and that duel form, which nothing escapes, but everything opposes.

At all events, this duality governs us. Each individual life unfolds on two levels, in two dimensions - history and destiny - which coincide only exceptionally. Each life has its history, the history of its successive events, its twists and turns - but elsewhere, in another dimension, there is only one form, that of the absolute becoming of the same situation, which occurs for everyone in the form of the Eternal Return. The form of destiny, which Nietzsche also calls 'character, to distinguish it from any psychology of the ego and its successive changes. (79 IE)
Somewhere in Colorado there is a demarcation line where the waters part - the so-called Continental Divide - some running off to the Atlantic, the rest to the Pacific. It is a line almost as imaginary as the one separating the past from the future - that line we call the present. And the two dimensions of time themselves run off and vanish into oceanic depths of their own. The instant, that dividing line, is a line of destiny, past and future part there, never to meet again. And existence is merely this ever-greater divergence of past and future, until death reunites the two in an absolute present.

The line where the waters divide - the line where thoughts divide. No planispheric extension.  Waters and destinies always divide. (1 Cool Memories IV)

In man, it is thoughts which divide - the 'mental divide'. Like the continental waters, they run off unpredictably in opposite directions, and often those which were closest together will end up furthest apart.

Map of Eric Packer's Journey Through the Grid of NYC Traffic
There are always at least two occasions when two persons, unwittingly, almost meet. Each time destiny seems to have prepared this meeting with the greatest care, attending first to one possibility, then another, ordering the tiniest detail and leaving nothing to chance. But each time some tiny, unattended eventuality intervenes to prevent the coming together, and the two lines diverge once again at a greater rate... But destiny iis much too persistent to allow itself to be put off by a failure. It arrives at its ends, by such subtle machinations that not even a click is heard when at last the two persons are brought together. (Nabokov)(IE 81)

Agnes Martin Print
We can recall moments in the past when we had equal chances of living or dying - in a car crash, for example.... Every time someone finds himself at a crossroads of this kind, he has two worlds before him... It is the same with each decisive moment, both with birth and with death. Just as the virtual dead man that I am continues on his way on the other side, carries on with his existence which runs just beneath the surface of mine, birth is that dividing line where on the one side I exist as myself, but on the other I begin, at the same moment to exist as other Such is the form of alterity...(Impossible Exchange 82)
Continental Divide - Mark Tansey

That which has separated definitely  - for example, the I from the non-I at birth - continues none the less to run along another line. These lines, or these parallel lives, meet only in death. But at certain moments, you can jump from one to the other, cross one of these other lives. Destiny dooms us to a personal death, but something of this multiple predestination remains. Alterity  is a trace of these crossings, which provide one of the grids of becoming...(IE 82)

Thus each existence is the product of a double declension. It is in this sense that it is a dual, not an individual form.  We are not free to exist just on the side of our ego,, or just on that of the so-called real world. We are wholly the products of this relation of adversity, this twin complicity. Destiny is divided, like thought, which comes to us from the other. Each is the destiny of the other. There is no individual destiny. (IE 82-3)

Destiny has been arranging the day for Elise Shifrin and Eric Packer. Elise - The Symbolic Order of Seduction/destiny/surprise/challenge/duel -  is ahead of Eric all day, moving West into the sunset and the night. Eric has been following her. Each time they meet, their selves diverge and divide like the waters at the Continental Divide. They split and then split again. Until they end pure and lorn, naked under blinding light.

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