Vancouver Unconventional Books Message Board › Musings on The Sirens of Titan

Musings on The Sirens of Titan

G
Ailorus
Vancouver, BC
Post #: 30
Yesterday, with more new faces and the 2 separate booths, there was so much nervous and positive excitement (for me) at The Tipper—a delightful chaos—so much so that I am now trying to sort out what was said about The Sirens of Titan. I think the main ideas I recall are
1) We humans have a need to ascribe Purpose/Meaning in/to our lives,
2) We humans have a need to create a God/Religion [this is in sync with #1],
3) Time: examined and approached in so many different ways in the book,
4a)Chaos: now I can’t recall exactly what was said about it. ( I was caught in a tornado formed from all the energy whizzing in the air—experiencing a Disorder of my own!) This conversation in earnest was between Rachael and Dean. Wait, I remember Dean saying that there was no such thing as chaos in Nature (?), am I remembering this correctly? Perhaps Dean, here you mean chaos as we humans define it. Which is what? (Wait, I remember asking Rachel what her definition of Chaos was, which unfortunately, I don’t recall, groan.) Chaos then, is it only based on perception? What is Chaos? Something unpredictable, you don’t expect it and wham it hits ya and you are confused, disoriented, cortisol galore is released, them little soldiers in ya are on high alert. Order resumes when you find a solution which is to turn the Spaceship upside down! So Chaos is only based on perception then?, 4b)Order/Control: We humans have a need to feel in control, if not #4a happens! (Cycles of Order and Disorder, now this reminds me of Ligeti’s Etudes.)

PS: The feeling I get is that we humans have a need to feel unique, to feel like we are special (I think this may be measured on a spectrum based on specific cultures and history)...thus, the need to ascribe meaning and purpose in/to our lives, thus the need to feel in control and not used/manipulated. On the other hand, there is then the scary feeling that maybe we are just “a dot,” a speck in something a whole lot larger (or worse still, just "a dot" on a blank sheet of paper, not part of any larger meaning)...which perhaps requires us to lower our noses and bend our knees, and so we are not more special than say the simple and edible Harmoniums in Mercury? If there is no higher purpose for “I”, then is everything in vain? Sometimes I feel that way, and just wanna die (yes, Drama Queen at work here, Regi!). Then I say, fuck it, Death is gonna come get me anyways, so Live punctus to punctus, and maybe the dots will connect and I'll leave a message for some other being and if not, maybe I'll just make a pretty picture or not...
G
Ailorus
Vancouver, BC
Post #: 31
The Sirens of Titan and the question of Genre explored in this essay:
http://webdoc.sub.gwd...­


A former member
Post #: 38
The Sirens of Titan, could be described as a deliberately juvenile and comically improbable meta-science-fiction-fantasy that discloses its philosophical-aesthetic nuggets of postmodern "significance" by turning traditional signifiers inside out through jokey ironic modes of parody and pastiche.

Thus, when the traditional sign of the "Absolute" (i.e., God, religion, the master narrative of human history) is artfully made ridiculous as the punchline to a cosmic joke, Vonnegut's conceit evinces a quintessentially postmodern theme: the instability of all epistemological and metaphysical claims.

Jacques Derrida famously explicated this theme in "Structure, Sign and Play" (1966) as the "free play" of signs, occurring in the aftermath of the seismic philosophical "event" that had decentralized man's place in the universe. This event resulted from a recent destabilizing of the traditional logocentric assumptions (i.e., "the metaphysics of presence") embedded within the very language of all Western philosophical texts from Plato to Husserl.

Derrida heralds a brave new postmodern universe in which signs have become unfixed from their ancient metaphysical moorings, and are now freely moving about in a kind of new diaspora of meaning, exiled from any precise point of origin within the structure.

Perhaps Derrida had discovered his own chrono-synclastic infundibula ("those places...where all the different kinds of truths fit together") amidst all the semiotic slippage of "free play".

In Titan, Rumfoord's unpredictable materializations and de-materializations at different points in the cosmos symbolically evoke the ambiguous "undecidability" of Heideggerian ontology (e.g., Being necessarily participates in Non-Being -- the two are not mutually exclusive and opposed categories, and one cannot be formally prioritized or preferred over the other).

For Derrida, a proper recognition of this "undecidability" (through post-Heideggerian methods of deconstruction and "archi-writing") undermines the old structural mechanism of generating pre-valuated binary oppositions (e.g., presence over absence). These dichotomies are a function of logos that necessarily orders and undergirds (and taints with primal bias) all traditional arguments and texts.
James M.
user 14454827
Group Organizer
Vancouver, BC
Post #: 33
Hi Jason,

The title of Derrida's essay is actually "Structure, Sign, and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences."

biggrin
James M.
user 14454827
Group Organizer
Vancouver, BC
Post #: 34
But, of course, I like the way you bring these two text together.
A former member
Post #: 39
Hi Jason,

The title of Derrida's essay is actually "Structure, Sign, and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences."

biggrin

Thanks. I could only recall the abbreviated title offhand.
G
Ailorus
Vancouver, BC
Post #: 32
Jason: "Free Play"--- okay, this sounds intriguing...I need to chew on it some.

Jeez, I'm seeing more connections with Ligeti's works and The Sirens of Titan--- orredy mentioned his The cycle of Order and Disorder in his Etudes, then there is Atmospheres featured in Stanley Kubrick's film 2001: A Space Odyssey, and then now I'm thinking of his opera, Le Grand Macabre, the "anti-anti opera."
A former member
Post #: 41
Part of my train of thought about connecting The Sirens of Titan with Derrida's "free play" came from our earlier discussion about Teorema.

In his study of Pasolini, A Certain Realism, Maurizio Viano suggests that the individual members of the bourgeois family are just signs that have been set adrift in a world where traditional humanistic meanings have lost their fixed central position within the discursive structure -- i.e., the central sign of God the Absolute was once present and now He is absent and cannot be adequately replaced by any other sign. When the signs are abandoned by God the Absolute, they are confronted with the reality of their own diasporic exile and marginalization, and they long to return to the center.
Powered by mvnForum

Sign up

Meetup members, Log in

By clicking "Sign up" or "Sign up using Facebook", you confirm that you accept our Terms of Service & Privacy Policy