Questioning reality is a gimmick. It’s a trick where we hide in the deck the card that we want to find. Every skeptic is more than happy to return to the firmness of things, or, rather, to discover in the world a firmness that he couldn’t perceive in its previous state of confusion.
And yet, such a cartesian clarity necessitates that all obscurities can be brought to the surface and examined, that reality can be laid out before us in all its glory. The Cogito is not only that which cannot be doubted, it is also that which guarantees us that neither can the world. In the confused world, we act through intermediaries, the prejudices and superstitions; to the clear world, we have a direct relation, upheld by the Cogito. But it seems that the status of these intermediaries, the ‘textual’, anonymous, fictional structures, is not as clear as Descartes would want us to believe. The simplicity of the gesture “well, you won’t deny that this glass is here in front of you!” is in itself questionable, where it is used to shut up the interlocutor and to re-establish the hegemony of the common sense. We don’t leave the rumble of the depths behind us when we rise up from the meditations, it follows us to the surface and infuses it with fissures.
This is all to say there are no conciliatory inquiries. All searching digs up something that was buried, covered up. And once one’s dug it up one needs to find a place for it. There’s an image of thought and philosophy that visualizes the activity of inquiry as a ‘putting to rest’, a finding of closure, peace, calm, consolation. But how strange is this? No. If one wants consolation there’s always television. We think in order to complexify, to fragment, cut, dissolve, disintegrate, reverse, invert, and, most of all, build more that then needs minding. These are the (mis)adventures of thought, and as a species here on this orbiting marble whose sentence is to always be thinking, thinking, thinking, the grandest of objects, reality itself, is looking excitedly choppy, gappy, fractured, and coarse with the ceaseless activity of genuine thought.
“You think too much” is the charge made to the jester who flies the banner of ‘more complexity, please’, as they scurry around breaking up the obstinate pale uninterestingness of common sense, that is to say ‘everyday reality’. But the call for complexity is not just about ‘spicing things up’; it arises from the realisation that maybe we approach the whole issue with wrong demands (demands for simplicity, clarity). Not only the demands for a simple and easily interpreted world, but also for an according philosophy that is marked by accessibility. It may also be that we’re asking the wrong questions that have unwarranted underlying assumption; asking, why there is something instead of just nothing presumes that there’s a nothingness underlying what there is.
But there’s also the question regarding the intermediaries. Is it not only possible, but also desirable to get rid of them? Is the textual character of fiction really a distortion of what’s ‘actually there’, or does it not permeate our very lives without being any less ‘real’? Is an aesthetics that tries to reach said ‘real’, an aesthetics of injury, our best way to connect it to ‘reality’? The cartesian ideal philosopher, the private citizen, the idiot, as Deleuze polemically calls him, can perceive the cultural ‘encoding’ only as a distortion. But is the status of the cultural, of the anonymous ‘way of things’ really so easily resolved? Are we not always presupposing ideas of humankind, categorically distinguishing it from the non-human? Is the anonymous ‘they’, what ‘one’ does, really just the fun house mirror that needs to be shatter if we are to reach authenticity? These are the questions our authors invite you to ponder on.
And all the king’s horses and all the king’s men, couldn’t put Humpty together again.