Dispatches to Massia – Cervical Prospectus


Moynihan’s book sets out to be a hypergeneaology. Classical genealogy questions the fundamental structures of human history that claim to be the result of rational arguments – ‘capitalism is widespread and robust because it works so well’ (Marx says no) – ‘western civilization is so advanced because we have mastered our own minds (Freud says no) – ‘everyone has a stable sexual identity’ (Foucault says hold on a sec). In general genealogy is about see what is taken to be reasonable, good, or dominant as being the result of contingent history – as also with Nietzsche Christian morality is not necessarily better than other forms its just worked really well for justifying the domination of others but it pretends to be more advanced or more reasonable.

While classical geneaology then sets up a counter narrative using different reasons and vaules to show the historical contingency of the dominant structures of human life, Moynihan’s hypergeneaology is an almost paranoid extension of this – rather than looking for better explanations it is just a wild version of always looking deeper for stranger and stranger causes in place of reasons – the deeper rather than the better.

So the spine, its the spine and its traumas all the way down…just go with me on this. The first chapter focuses on the cervical chunk of the spine – that part that holds up our fat head. Kant, who as we saw in the last entry, insists that there are fundamental categories to our experience that go beyond our embodiment, suggests that we humans are operating in a normative space – for us it is more important to say what we judge to be the case rather then what is and when we say this or that is, this or that exists, we are really making a judgement about reality not seeing or conceiving reality in any direct sense.

But then the difficulty (as we saw with the Jue text) is how do we understand the relationship between the formal understanding of reality and the narrativized or metaphoricalized understanding of our experience. And this is where both time and space (or space-time) works for human’s to carve up the planet (p13) – global trade requires time zones to know when shipments arrive.

But as Moynihan discusses this chronoperception (p 21) is (for Kant) reliant upon a shallow model of mind, it is only the surface. As soon as we look deeper into biological time (such as in the relationship between physical processes and the circadian rhythms) the correlation between perception and external processes becomes incredibly difficult as it is built on a vast span of evolutionary time.

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