Depression and Difference

Brief Outline, for navigation:

  1. depression’s essence, as I have experienced it (¶1)
    1. case (a): “good” does not imply “different” (¶3)
    2. case (b): “good” is not ascribed (¶4)
  2. good for human beings must be different analytically, or else it cannibalizes the very idea of a “good difference” (¶5-¶8)
  3. difference as self-ascribed must be good, for it always arises from a feeling of the goodness of being (¶9)
  4. difference as uncritically self-loving and egotistical, sameness as a criterion for criticism (¶10-¶11)

¶1. The essence of all depressive tendency as I have experienced it is a feeling or sense of unbeing which, as a feeling for me, is a feeling wherein I am not recognized or not congratulated as good for my work.

¶2. Now, what does it mean to sense congratulation? This is at once a personal statement, that one has done a good job. It is also a differentiation in the midst of and bound up with this statement, such that the normative ascription “good” also entails a descriptive ascription “different.” This is a more analytic way of simply restating what the past sentence already said in its first half. The upshot hereof is that when (a) good does not entail different or (b) good is not ascribed at all, one is liable to fall into depression.

¶3. How? Well, clearly, if “good” does not imply “different,” then “good” is a term whose predicate value is nothing existential. That is, if good merely implies “same,” then the predicate has nothing specifically different within itself as applied to a subject. If this is the case, then the subject, gramatico-logically speaking, is nothing new when the predicate is applied. If this is the case, then the subject may well incur any other predicate. In existential terms, where the “I” is the subject who is assessed as “good,” if the assessment in no concrete way entails a difference of being, then the emptiness of the subject-predicate relation redounds to an emptiness of all that warranted it. In this case, it is no longer a grammatical or logical posit to say that the subject may well not have been predicated of. Rather, it is an existential fact about the “I” that it may well not have been predicated of. Such a belief not only discounts all that led to the act of predication but, moreover, leads the “I” into a state of disarray where he cannot trust the alignment and configuration of acts which lead to definite ascriptions of self. In this case, the divestiture of “different” from “good” denies the power of good, such that (b) might as well have been the case.

¶4. The issue with (b) is far simpler, so far as one does not incur goodness as to himself. When this is the case, one cannot help but feel a complete languor of existence, as he knows nothing about himself which is worth being or doing. Indeed, when this is the case, all things seem to him worthless for, being in the world, what worth is it to him if he does not feel himself good and different in that world? For, in (b), good already assumes difference analytic to it. If it doesn’t, we are led back to (a), whose conclusions lead us to (b), and if ~(b) does not have difference already entailed, then we are lead to something vicious and vacuous.

¶5. Such is the nature of all depression as I have experienced it: either one sees himself good but does not feel different, or he sees himself neither good nor different. One could imagine a state wherein one imagined himself not good but different, but such a case would be again to divest difference from good, such that difference was a matter altogether descriptive. If this were the case, then we could say that any bad man were different from other men simpliciter, such that the answer to the question “Is a bad man different from most men?” would be “yes”. But if we assert this, then indeed any man could become different simply by being bad, a possibility which poses an issue in and for us so long as what is recognized as “different” becomes the same across goodness and badness. If this is so, then “difference” as present along with good and bad would itself be the same and, being such, there would be no difference from good or bad themselves with respect to difference. We might contend that good and bad are both difference-making but that, rather, their difference is simply a matter of moral degree. But if this is so, then good and bad redound to difference as merely descriptive, and nothing can truly be said of good or bad that is not ultimately reducible to mere difference. And if this is the case, then any man could understand himself as “different” on bad terms, his self-understanding would as yet be good, for he understands something about himself which gratulates him and brings him to a uniqueness which he feels at the bottom of his heart.

¶6. So we have a contradiction immanent to the triad of good, bad, and different. Either (a) difference must be imputed to goodness (b) imputed to both goodness and badness or (c) have some other relation not yet considered. We know (b) cannot be from the above for, if it is, good and bad become nothing but difference. (Why this can’t be is simple. (1) we use “good” and “bad” as though they were something independent of mere difference (a proof from experience). (2) We could no longer call any movement of the heart (the subjective condition for normative assessment, ie. the use of the terms “good” and “bad”) anything except a difference from its previous state, something which would destroy all self-understanding and, thereby, the grounds for the use of the terms altogether (a proof from priors). Clearly (2) is the stronger of the cases. Why self-understanding must be the ground for the use of different, good, and bad is clear – without self, there is no “other” and without the “other” there is no gramatico-logical subject. Without these, predication becomes invalid and the entire discussion collapses. Thus we need the self and thus we need good and bad. Q.E.D.)

¶7. Therefore difference must either be analytic to goodness or it must have some other relation to good and bad not yet considered. Why no other relations are possible is simple. Either difference is good or it is not good. Of course, “is” is said in many ways and, consequently, we might mean it as (a) identical to (b) a species of (c) merely some-such sometimes. We do not mean (a), for we can call x different from y without saying x is better than it. We neither mean (c), because if difference were sometimes good and sometimes bad, we would be left in ¶5. Thus we must mean that difference is a species of goodness. Now, being that by “difference is good” I mean that it is a species thereof, we must ask: is difference a species of goodness or is it not? Clearly it is for, if it isn’t, then we are again left in ¶5. But is this sufficient to deny another possibility? Yes, because no other possibility is conceivable save merely temporary characterizations of the relation which, if indiscernible a priori, have no meaning except in the situations in which they present themselves and, consequently, have nothing to them except then and there. If this is the case, then discussion hereof becomes null and no universal validity is possible. If this is the case, then the terms have no meaning whatsoever. But they do have meaning, so this meaning must be capable of being adduced. Being capable of being adduced, it is discernible (not necessarily so but sufficiently so) a priori.

¶8. Now that difference is a species of goodness analytically, the romantic-synthetic meaning hereof can be given. For, when a man understands himself as different, he always understands this as a mark of his character, that he is who he is and that none else stands beside him as such. He is different from all else, and this at bottom feels to him worthy of praise. Indeed, if a man felt himself different in any other sense, we might say he felt nothing of himself at all. The man who thinks “I am different – I am no good. Everyone else is good while I am inferior.” Does not really consider himself “different” but merely inferior, so that he really considers everyone else the same. His “difference” is in name only and, though he might use this word, this is truly a misnomer. How? For, a man who feels himself different from a uniform sameness really thinks nothing, as he has imputed all things together as One, a move which he cannot carry to finality because he still senses himself. But he senses himself in such a way as to chafe against the Oneness he posits and so, knowing this, he ascribes the minimum normative content hereto, the notion that he is inferior. But already on this analysis, we see that this is incoherent, for he simultaneously posits the Other as the Same and the Self as Different. For to propose the Self as Different against an Other Sameness proposes a cosmological binary whose validity is entirely solipsistic and, as such, it has nothing to it but this binary. But either this binary is a part of the Same or the Different, for nothing else exists. If the Same, then the “I” is lost as is the sham inferior difference. If the Different, then the world is all “I” and I am no different from it. Thus solipsism refutes itself. Thus inferior difference collapses into a nothing, as was said at the outset. Such is the nature of depression.

¶9. Now, if a man senses himself different in the true sense, he knows himself to be a one among many, such that any cosmological binary is an impossibility. No one can feel himself different and inferior among many. Why? Plainly: there is too much among many for any to feel inferior in a real sense. Rather, he only feels it in a homogeneous-depressive sense as in ¶8. Thus, the romantic-synthetic meaning of difference is always goodness, for self-difference is a feeling of self-love which, in feeling, destroys all solipsism and knows itself to be a being-in-the-world, and a difference-making and difference-being one at that. These notions redound only to the sense of being which opposes the sense of non-being of depression.

¶10. To not be recognized is, then, to feel a dull banality that the world keeps churning while your work goes on, that the manifold structure of all things retains itself while you persist and that, while some others are recognized more quantitatively in this manifold, you are not. Such is a legitimate-circumstantial feeling when one really senses this banality and sameness, and that the self-love that furnishes different modes of recognition does so in an uncritical manner which reaffirms this sameness. This is different from a depressive-cosmological feeling which imputes Difference to Sameness, such that the sense of Sameness is homogeneous and all-encompassing. No, loci of possibility are found in a legitimate-circumstantial sameness, such that difference internal to itself can come to the fore and break open all that has been heretofore seen as the same. This is the project of socio-ontological explosion (exploding sameness by criticizing it as such, as a loss of uniqueness) and it finds the consciousness of homogenous sameness as a moment within itself, for those who notice the Same are those who are just as likely to see themselves as the only Difference against it. It is no surprise that those who see only Difference are often the happiest, for they are quick to judge themselves Different and, therefore, to gratulate themselves whenever possible. They are the pseudo-difference-makers, the tech wizards who think their numbers will reformat all of life. Perhaps it might, but only because of extraneous factors over and above, rules making possible, their movements. Only those who see the Same are privy to these rules in concreto – those moving in the world as Different experience them as temporary abstractions, “rules of the game” to be manipulated.

¶11. If there are such rules, how do we change them?

Summary Outline:

  1. depression’s essence, as I have experienced it (¶1)
    1. as normative and descriptive (¶2)
  2. case (a): “good” does not imply “different” (¶3)
  3. case (b): “good” is not ascribed (¶4)
  4. good for human beings must be different analytically, or else it cannibalizes the very idea of a “good difference” (¶5)
    1. this point restated as a contradiction between good, bad, and different (¶6)
    2. this point restated as a deduction from the meaning of “is” (¶7)
    3. conclusively: because “bad difference” is solipsism, and solipsism is self-contradictory (¶8)
  5. difference as self-ascribed must be good, for it always arises from a feeling of the goodness of being (¶9)
  6. difference as uncritically self-loving and egotistical, sameness as a criterion for criticism (¶10-¶11)

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