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STUPID UNDERGROUNDS - MANN
Vertical - Page 7

the descent from the head--or from the blank, acephalic space left by the decapitation of reason and the king--down through the obscene, grotesque comedy of the big toe digging in the mud; the descent from the rotting flowerhead of the heliotrope into the obscenity of roots and Marx's "old mole." In Bataille's formulation, one might say, the proletariat becomes revolutionary by being stupid, by being blind: the marxian mole at the opposite pole from Enlightenment reason becomes, for Bataille, the figure of revolutionary criticism itself. For Bataille, in other words, despite every attempt to go beyond good and evil, to ruin the very order of morality itself, everything depends on an inversion that retains the structure of the moral axis, and, indeed, repeats its "historical" reversal: the repressive ethical order of the straight world versus the perversion and hence pleasures of hell, or at least of bohemia. Evil be thou my good; perversion be thou my knowledge. But the inversion is never constant. It is never a matter of simple reversal: the poles are not stable, value is determined by opposition alone. Either pole can be good, either pole can be evil: up and down are indiscriminately positive or negative, so long as they remain counterposed. The fixed form of the vertical axis provides for a certain abitrary migration of value up and down the line. It is a question of what one Blake critic calls "perspective ontology."4 

In Blake's terms, "the eye altering alters all"; an angel consigns us to the inferno of his own imagination, which becomes a pastoral paradise if we believe it so; heaven is thus recast as an oppressive zone of paternal law. "They became what they beheld," but what they beheld is what they projected, either through an active or a reactive imagination. What one must emphasize here is not romantic faith in the power of the imagination, which one might well find rather dubious, but the pure phenomenality of this binary mapping and the ease with which, it appears, the poles can be reversed, flipped back and forth endlessly from hell to heaven to hell, from suffering to pleasure to suffering (a masocritical vacillation in its own right), from "ressentiment" (and hence complicity) to revolution and back to the order of the Same. The stupid underground is available to any ontological or ideological reformulation, and hence a place to test the following paradox: all cultural zones are both overdetermined and blank.

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