« Lucretius seems to feast upon nature with the gratitude and wonder of one who finds her bounty an abundant source of joy. » Amy Olberding, (“The Feel of not to Feel it”:Lucretius’ Remedy for Death Anxiety )
Charles Spinosa takes me to task here on my remarks in my last post concerning a scene from « Pulp Fiction ». HoweverI think that in this post I am agreeing with him that to adjudge the victory to Jules or to Vincent is to oppose them inside a commensurable field, and that such a victory is empty. For me the force of ATS is to describe and exhibit incommensurable understandings of being. Unfortunately, I think that Bert and Sean pose a normative overlay to this descriptive task, and so I accuse them of doing “normative phenomenology”. I do not wish to play Vincent to Spinosa’s Jules, and I think that he too does not accept this distribution of roles and understandings as exhausting the conceivable possibilities. Like him I think that a third way can be articulated, outside this dualism, and this is what makes talking to each other possible and interesting. Each of us has a different way out of this opposition, and sometimes I see Spinosa as trying to transmute Jules’ vision by Heideggerizing it, where I would prefer to transmute Vincent’s vision by Lucretianizing it. In both cases we are trying to see the event as an occasion for metapoiesis, so maybe there is no need to presuppose one unique response. A metapoietic Jules would allow himself to be perfused with gratitude without affirming, or even feeling, that God stopped the bullets. A metapoietic Vincent could resist the affect here as too entangled with theistic sentiments, without refusing gratitude absolutely. “This shit happens” could be a Lucretian enunciation of opennes to and gratitude for the abundance of Nature, the affirmation that the world contains many wondrous combinations.
However, I cannot accept D&K’s solution as it stands. They operate by extracting and decontextualizing from Jules’ theistic perception of the event the pure affect of gratitude that they valorize when it occurs in quite other contexts. My feeling is that this gratitude is somehow a cliché closing Jules off from the encounter with the world, a “comic-book” version of the affect, as Spinosa so aptly calls it. This is why I embraced tne notion of nontheistic gratitude formulated by William Connolly. In the chapter “Nothing is Fundamental” of his book “The Ethos of Pluralization”, Connolly talks of “a nontheistic gratitude for the rich diversity of being” ( p31: http://books.google.com/books?id=228-wACoc04C&lpg=PP1&hl=fr&pg=PA31#v=onepage&q&f=false). But perhaps by still calling it “gratitude” I am implicitly accepting the validity of this extraction of affects and their reappropriation in other contexts. The problem is to determine whether there is a living affect in the cliché or if it is a caricature all the way down.