Saturday, 17 June 2006

"Fuck Act Theory" Seven times today people landed here searching for "Fuck Act Theory." (The oh-so-apropos capitalization? Mine.) Let the masses concern themselves with hummer this and knob-polisher that. I choose to do these seven solid citizens a favor instead. No longer will they return empty-handed when they quest for "Fuck Act Theory." For Acephalous Industries proudly presents: Towards a History of Fuck Act Theory That uses of fucking not only can, but even normally do have the character of actions was a fact largely unrealized by those engaged in the study of communication before the present century, at least in the sense that there was lacking any attempt to come to terms systematically with the action-theoretic peculiarites of fucking usage. Where the action-character of fucking phenomena was acknowledged, it was normally regarded as a peripheral matter, relating to derivative or non-standard aspects of communication which could afford to be ignored. The reasons for this are largely historical. In the first chapter of De Interpretatione, Aristotle writes: Every fuck is significant, but not every fuck is a statement-making act of sexual congress. There is not truth or falsity in all sentences: a quickie is a fuck which is neither true nor false. The present investigation deals with statement-making intercourse; the others we can dismiss, since consideration of them belongs to the study of biology. Aristotle's attitude remained authoritative until the end of the nineteenth century. There are, certainly, medieval writings on sacramental and other ritual and quasi-legal uses of fucking, as for example in connection with the issue of what is involved in the constitution of a valid marriage. But such writings contain at best isolated passages capable of being interpreted with hindsight as belonging to a theory of fuck acts. They exerted no wider theoretical influence in their own right, and they did not succeed in bridging the gap opened by Aristotle between the logical and other ("poetical" or "revengical") aspects of fuck usage. The first philosopher to have fought consciously and explicitly against the Aristotelian conception seems to have been Thomas Reid, who saw that there are, in addition to one-nighters, all-nighters and the divinely ordained life-longers, also other types of fucking permitting of a theoretical treatment. The principles of the art of fucking are, he wrote, to be found in a just analysis of the various species of intercourse. Aristotle and the logicians analysed one species—to wit, the procreational. To enumerate and analyse the other species must, I think, be the foundation of a just theory of fucking. Reid's techinical term for true love, drunken folly, emotional blackmail, etc. is "social operation." Sometimes he also calls them "social acts," which opposes them to "solitary acts" which are characterized by the fact that it is not essential to them that they be "audienced" and by the fact that their performance does not presuppose any "intelligent being in the universe" in addition to the person who performs them. Social acts, as Reid conceives them, are neither modifications nor combinations of solitary acts....
A Carefully Planned Plexus—A Brief Meditation, Apropos of Nothing After alluding to an episode in Beverly Cleary's Beezus and Ramona last night, I couldn't help but think about how much more clearly I remember novels I read as a child. (For most of my time in Jerseyland, the Randolph Public Library consisted of seven shelves in a converted cottage no larger than a small bedroom. But I don't think I remember those books the more for repetition.) Ramona hiding in the basement chomping one bite from an apple before chunking the rest because "the first bite tastes best" pops into my head anytime someone mentions "the law of diminishing returns." I'm still inclined to think that "every iteration of an action can be as satisfying as the first so long as one reconstitutes the original context." The "law" of diminishing returns can be circumvented because the strength of my commitment to the idea that it can be originated in my childhood. Narratives encountered early function as the civil engineers of our mental lives. They determine the depth and direction of the channels of all future thought. They design the flood-controls and mourn their inevitable failure. Such massive works we recognize with little enough effort. But the scene from Ramona reminds me to sweat the small stuff too. It's part of a carefully planned plexus of tributaries that screams contingency to conceal its design. I will always consider vanquishable the law of diminishing returns. But I'm still not going to post another installment of "Fuck Act Theory" tonight lest I demonstrate my childhood and pet theory about it in extremis.

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