The Figures of Dorsal Thinking

Dorsal thinking enables us to consider what comes from behind. What comes from behind is replete with energy and can be thought to be much allied to quantum vacuum. Our openness to that which we cannot see coming is the manner in which otherness manifests itself. It comes forth from the unexpected and the unthought. It irrupts so to say from the silence of light and night of our life, where night remains impenetrable. It counters the oculo-centric eye habituated modes of thinking.

It points to the excess or surplus in our thinking that cannot be embedded by our logocentric frontal thinking. Logocnetric frontal thinking may be said viewed as a practice of totalitarian thinking. We may have to grant that the time of Nietzche’s Mad Man has come. This indicates that there is no zero point of thinking. Maybe what Michel Serres Umbilical thinking find an alliance with what we have called frontal thinking. We may trace a common space between Serres Umbelicism and Derrida’s logocentrism.

Dorsal thinking, therefore, opens the figures of our thinking. Dorsal thinking that we have come to embrace maybe lead to opposing frontal thinking by multiplying it or opening its frontiers to include dorsality. For Plato, there is only one single zero point that drives away all the shadows and we have to get out of the cave and see the sun. We really do not have one single zero point but there are several such zero points to think from. This means the dorsal thinking, thinking from the back opens us to thinking with our skin (tactile), nose ( olfaction), ears ( audition) tongue ( gustatory ). This means we do have touch, smell, hearing, tastes images besides the images of the eyes. We are in the world with our eyes, skin, nose, ears and tongue. Hence, we have to understand ourselves and the world through our integral sensorium that marks our being in the world.

Oculo-centric or frontal thinking is impoverishing. Hence, we have to add tactile, olfactory, auditory, and gustatory figures of our thinking to the familiar frontal thinking. It is important to employ figures of thinking as they enable us to think beyond forms of thinking that have their roots in Plato. Forms of thinking seem to impose sameness while figures open us to diversity and difference. Forms of thinking do embrace difference and otherness but seem to position a kind of eclecticism at best and rigid hierarchy at worst, while figures of thinking operationalize interrelated differences. Forms are fixed and do not carry potencies of emergence. Figures are not just emergent products of chaosmosis of life. Chaosmosis is a tensive state that irrupts into being due to the movement of life, of the universe, of culture and of thought. Figures also figurate and initiate a new cycle of chaosmosis that pushes older figures to evolve or figurate into novel figures.

Figures of thought may enable us to overcome what Serres christians as umbilical thinking which is practising forms of totalitarian thinking. This is a way of depetrification or deconstruction of the practising totalitarian thought. Figures of thought are not concepts. They are upstream to concepts and are operative and not content-oriented or semiotic in charecter. Figures belong to the hermeneutics of production and are as such asemiotic in character. They are phenomenal in character. Concepts belong to the downstream. Figures belong to the ways we become beings in the world. Serres presents figures like episteme of Foucault, deconstruction of Derrida. Figures enable the emerging of what Serres calls global intuition which is a forceful vision that brings about a new way of being in the world.

This means global intuition is a way not merely of thinking but is a way of living, behaving, desiring, feeling and moving in the world. It concerns the way we resonate with the changing world. This means our desire synchronizes with the world. The dorsal thinking that we bring forth does not fully abandon frontal thinking. It subjects it to hermeneutics of suspicion. Dorsal thinking thus thinks with centrifugal as well as centripetal thrust. But we have to integrate the role of desire into our dorsal thinking. Maybe we have to take our cue from Jean Francois Lyotard to discern the role of desire. Lyotard in his book, Discourse and Figure, teaches us that discourse belongs to the order of signification while the figural to him belongs to the desire to be seen (to see and not to read). Although his integration of desire still remains within what we have named as frontal thinking and opens us to the multifarious dynamism of the visible, we can extend the desire to see, feel, touch, smell, hear the invisible through what we call the dorsal thinking. This suggests that we have to overcome the imperialism of desire to reduce everything to scopic experience as Jacques Lacan teaches. This means we have to transcend the scopic reductionism of our desire to see. This expansion of desire may enable us to overcome the homogenising tendency of oculo-centric thinking.

There is another aspect that we have to stay on guard with regard to this embrace of desire and the figural in Lyotard. Lyotard does see form, image and matrix as belonging to the domain of the figural. To us, form and image are still semiotic and hence to stay upstream and above the semiotic realm of the signifier, we truly embrace a matrix that is more fluid and truly figural. In the power of this openness, we may be enabled to transcend the discursive limits of reason and thought. It offers us the opportunity to open the geometry of our thinking. We are enabled to move from the linear frontal thinking whose geometry is a line to more complex geometries on the wings of figures like the circle, triangle, cone, parabole ( thinking that oscillates between two centres) etc. This means the figures of thought lead us to embrace multipolar thinking that is open and all embracive. It stays beyond the closures of binary thinking and is thinking that yes to life in all its shades.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao