Lovelock On The Coming Catastrophe

Saw this on Synthetic Zero. Got to love Lovelock, he pulls no punches and tells it how it is. We’re all doomed, forget about sustainability, green, Rousseauean returns to nature, etc. It’s just stupid now… 50 years ago maybe, but now we’re too late. Better build liferafts than castles in the air…
“Lovelock believes global warming is now irreversible, and that nothing can prevent large parts of the planet becoming too hot to inhabit, or sinking underwater, resulting in mass migration, famine and epidemics. Britain is going to become a lifeboat for refugees from mainland Europe, so instead of wasting our time on wind turbines we need to start planning how to survive. To Lovelock, the logic is clear. The sustainability brigade are insane to think we can save ourselves by going back to nature; our only chance of survival will come not from less technology, but more”

Also, Paul, below pointed out another one on synthetic zero, a video by Guy R. McPherson that is indeed dire: here… He has a new book out: Going Dark. As McPherson states it in his book:

Until recently I believed complete collapse of the world’s industrial economy would prevent runaway greenhouse and therefore allow our species to persist a few more generations. But in June 2012 the ocean of evidence on climate change overwhelmed me, and I no longer subscribe to the notion that habitat for humans will exist on Earth beyond the 2030s. We’ve triggered too many self-reinforcing feedback loops to prevent near-term extinction at our own hand…

 

synthetic zerø

Update: please note that The Guardian piece linked below is from 2008

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Was James Lovelock the first credible scientist to go public with his acceptance of the coming catastrophes of climate change, economic collapse and massive food and water shortages? How many of his colleagues will follow as recognition grows of an end not yet arrived?

Nothing short of a total revolution in human lifeways and social organization is going to derail the accelerating machines of capitalist production. The now standard economies of appropriation and commodified material reorganization are devouring the ecological systems necessary for stable large scale habitation.  “Greening” our communities won’t help and our corporate citizens will continue to do the minimum necessary to appear concerned about sustainability. Growth-mongers and technohyperions alike will drive our societies to the brink and then fail to escape as we this species falls into the abyss of all future adaptations.

Below Lovelock…

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Power, Knowledge, Self-Reference: Guattari’s Triad

Edmund Berger of Deterritorial Investigation Unit has a great post on a little understood aspect o Guattari’s thought, explication his Schizoanalytic Cartographies.

Deterritorial Investigations

DCF 1.0

“Machines,” wrote Gilles Deleuze in his examination of Foucault’s thought, “are always social before being technical. Or, rather, there is a human technology before which exists before a material technology.”i With this simple statement, the entirety of processes in development of Western civilization – achieving a truly global, or even cosmological reach with the accelerations of neoliberal capitalism – is revealed for what it is: a machinic order. Marx had situated labor, or more properly the relationship between labor and the modes of production, as the base for social organization; here, we can see that this is incorrect. Deleuze’s understanding of the machine does extend beyond the purely technical, and into the array of social and power relations that are tangled within it, but it becomes essential to acknowledge that the technical precedes the varying modes of labor. What emerges from this picture is, therefore, a feedback loop, with…

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Neuroenhancement: The Shadow Worlds of Science or Economy?

“Free will is an illusion,” Sam said in a strange tone.

– R. Scott Bakker,  Neuropath 

Happened on an article over at Mindhacks which is actually old hat, but made me think about both the uses and abuses of our new cognitive neurosciences. He talks about an essay in the British Journal of Psychiatry in which the so called new and cognitive enhancement medicines are already set to improve ethical behaviour and we should be prepared for a revolution in ‘moral pharmacology’. In one article the experts conclude that as cognitive neuroscience and related technologies become more pervasive, using technology for nefarious purposes becomes easier.1 As the study suggests “the intelligence community (IC) faces the challenging task of analyzing extremely large amounts of information on cognitive neuroscience and neurotechnology, deciding which of that information has national security implications, and then assigning priorities for decision makers”. You can bet that if there asking questions about the moral implications that there already thinking about how they can use these new sciences for war. With all the new imaging technologies along with new pharmacological neuromedicines a whole new world of human experimentation is taking place under our noses. It could be asked, What types of experiments are being done? How are the experiments being controlled and monitored, and why were they chosen? How would human experimentation be conducted outside accepted informed-consent limits?

And where there is money and corporations involved there are patents. New U.S. and international market incentives are driving this research into neuropsychopharmacology. But as he suggests even though the fact that many currently marketed drugs are or have been major sources of profit the ethical concerns have gone unnoticed. A whole new underground or shadow market economies will arise. Neurotechnology enhancement market is analogous to the athletic performance enhancement market. People will make the choice to take illegal and off-label prescription neuropharmaceuticals even if they do not know the side effects or believe that the side effects are worth the potential enhancement. This controversial market will grow dramatically if evidence becomes available that a specific drug is consistently effective in improving performance.(ibid.)

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Collaborative Project in need of your input: following Deleuze’s Postscript on a Control Society!

I’m excited by a collaborative effort with my good friend Edmund Berger from Deterritorial Investigations Unit dealing with the Control Society as portrayed by Gilles Deleuze in his Postscript on a Control Society(pdf) as our starting point. We believe it is something that both of us have shared in our separate but unique parallax views for a while now. So we’re teaming up to create a new project that will eventually turn into a book based on many of the themes within that essay. With Edmunds deep historical and socio-cultural knowledge and my investment in the sciences, philosophy, and technology we hope to interweave a rhizomatic project that allows for many entry points and exits for further exploration and development. I love philosophy but the broader aspects of our socio-cultural and political issues that come out of our contemporary situations and the thought forms needed to deal with it seem better suited to a larger framework than the creation of concepts in philosophy (in the narrow sense) would entail. Although we need a conceptual framework that is based on an ontological and epistemic or normative account it need not be central to its narrative.

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Surveillance: Virtual Identity and the Control Society

What is more real in this age of late capitalism: your physical presence or the data double of your virtual identity inscribed into the global networks of our information control society? One scholar, David Lyon, and the philosopher of society, Zygmunt Bauman, tell us that in this age of liquid surveillance our information is a proxy for the person, and in the legal sense is made up of ‘personal data’ only in the sense that it originated with a person’s body and may affect their life chances and choices. The piecemeal data double tends to be trusted more than the person, who prefers to tell their own tale.1

That you have become unreal and a sort of supplementary appendage of your own virtual traces inscribed within these systems may seem on first thought utterly absurd, but for the world of border patrols, airport canvases and screenings, DNA and medical imaging profiles, and instant videos that watch the open markets of our major cities nonstop 24/7 we are mere blips of data to be mined, analyzed and controlled. These systems of surveillance are continuously monitoring, tracking, tracing, sorting, checking and systematically watching our movements through this liquid maze of the global world. There is also the ever present threat that this information could be stolen, tampered with, hijacked by information pirates and manipulated for nefarious ends is a part of the risk society we’ve not only created but have unconsciously begun to conform to its logistical rules of movement (Virilio).

Even now there are those that may wake up today and find that their lives have changed forever, that they have become untouchables sought out by the authorities as criminals; or, that they have been stripped of their livelihood, safety, bank accounts. The thought that our ‘identities’ are connected more to our data than our actual real bodily presence is part of the present horror of our own liquid society and culture. We ourselves have become liquid bits of data dispersed among the lightfolds of an electronic ocean that continuously monitors our data rather than in the old Panoptic world, our bodies. Our bodies no longer count in this new world of liquid selves except as the end point of a legal systems final justice.

As Lyon reminds us it is easy to read the spread of surveillance as a technological phenomenon or as one that simply speaks of ‘social control’ and ‘Big Brother’. But this puts all the stress on tools and tyrants and ignores the spirit that animates surveillance, the ideologies that drive it forward, the events that give it its chance and the ordinary people who comply with it , question it or who decide that if they can’t beat it, they’ll join the game.(Kindle Locations 152-155). In a world of barcodes and RFID tags we discover that its no longer just about classifying and selling products, but also to finding out exactly where they are at any given moment within a just-in-time management regime. This goes for that last viable commodity the human person as well. We have all become commoditized, digitized packages bound to a temporal regime of control and management that is for the most part invisible to even our political and social fields of reference. We are blind to its power over our lives because we are immersed in this new environment like fish in the sea.

Bauman tells us that the world that Foucault studied in his conception of the ‘Panopticon’ after Benthem spoke of the prisoners as creatures who ‘could not move because they were all under watch; they had to stick to their appointed places at all times because they did not know, and had no way of knowing, where at the moment the watchers – free to move at will – were’. But in our time the opposite is true we live in the age of speed in Paul Virilio’s sense we are always living under the sign of emergency in which the “violence of speed has become both the location and the law, the world’s destiny and its destination” (167).2 As the details of our daily lives become more transparent to the organizations surveilling us, their own activities become less and less easy to discern. As power moves with the speed of electronic signals in the fluidity of liquid modernity, transparency is simultaneously increased for some and decreased for others (Kindle Locations 204-206).

One concept introduced is social sorting which is as always a part of the global control systems way of filtering and excluding in a sort of transparent virtual ethnic cleansing. More and more minorities both in racial and religious sense are screened and excluded from free movement in this global system. As one scholar Oscar Gandy puts it social sorting achieved by contemporary consumer surveillance constructs a world of ‘cumulative disadvantage’.3

If you haven’t read this new little work Liquid Surveillance: A Conversation between Lyon and Bauman its well worth the effort. I spend Monday’s on my continued tracing of the Control Society which Deleuze/Guattari spoke of in their late essay. Bauman believes we live in a post-panoptic society of control and buys into aspects of Focault’s reading but adds his own further explorations from many of the takes he gathered from Deleuze/Guattari. His writings are not that conceptually interesting, but his sociological readings are of value to anyone interested in this late capitalist era.

I’m still reading this work and may append notes along the way… read my original post on Deleuze’s thoughts: here.

1. Bauman, Zygmunt; Lyon, David (2013-04-03). Liquid Surveillance: A Conversation (PCVS-Polity Conversations Series) (Kindle Locations 145-147). Wiley. Kindle Edition.
2. Paul Virillo. Speed and Politics. (Semiotext(e), 2006)
3. Oscar Gandy, Coming to Terms with Chance.(Ashgate; Har/Ele edition (December 28, 2012))

Ian Hacking: What are scientists doing in the world?

…whenever we find two philosophers who line up exactly opposite on a series of half a dozen points, we know that in fact they agree about almost everything.

Ian Hacking, Representing and Intervening

Ian Hacking’s statement above reflected his appraisal of the philosophers Rudolf Carnap and Karl Popper. Carnap a defender of induction and verification: a bottom-up approach to scientific truth in which one make observations then sees if these confirm or refute one’s theoretical statements; while the other, Popper, a defended  deduction and falsifiability, a top-down approach in which one formulates theoretical conjectures then deduces the consequences through a process of testing to apprehend the truth or falseness of the conjecture. That both, as Hacking relates it, shared a common basis in scientific naturalism is both a marvel and a part of history.

Both thought there were distinct differences between observation and theory. Both believed the growth of knowledge is cumulative. Popper may be on the lookout for refutations, but he thinks of science as evolutionary and as tending towards the one true theory of the universe . Both think that science has a pretty tight deductive structure. Both held that scientific terminology is or ought to be rather precise. Both believed in the unity of science.

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The Fourth Estate: InfoSphere, Technocapitalism, and the Eclipse of the Human

It’s time to bring this long digression to a conclusion, by reaching out impatiently towards the end. The basic theme has been mind control, or thought-suppression, as demonstrated by the Media-Academic complex that dominates contemporary Western societies … the Cathedral.

Nick Land, The Dark Enlightenment

An illuminated 24/ 7 world without shadows is the final capitalist mirage of post-history , of an exorcism of the otherness that is the motor of historical change.

Jonathan Crary, 24/7

There is Mark Fischer said “the widespread sense that not only is capitalism the only viable political and economic system, but also that it is now impossible even to imagine a coherent alternative to it” (2).1 As another author Luis Suarez-Villa in his recent Globalization and Technocapitalism tells us “the ethos of technocapitalism places experimentalism at the core of corporate power”, much as production was at the core of industrial corporate power, undertaken through factory regimes and labor processes. And , much as the ethos of past capitalist eras was accompanied by social pathologies and by frameworks of domination, so the new ethos of technocapitalism introduces pathological constructs of global domination that are likely to be hallmarks of the twenty-first century.2

There are those like Steven Best and Douglas Kellner in their now dated The Postmodern Adventure who once believed that democracy was salvageable, that “the future of democracy” they tell us “depends in part on whether new technologies will be used for domination or democratization, and whether each individual will sit on the sidelines or participate in the development of new democratic public spheres” (248).3 Yet, that time has passed, too; and, with it any hope of democracy as we once knew it.

Another author Barry C. Lynn of the New American Foundation in his latest work on the economics of destruction of our monopoly capitalism Cornered states: “the entire system of distributed and oppositional ownership over the American industrial corporation – developed over the course of a century – was undone in a generation” (236).4 Speaking of the Chicago School of Economics and the obliteration of the old industrial economies during the 80’s, 90’s, and beyond. Now the Banker, the Shareholder, the CEO are the central power elite: the Capitalist as Agent is no longer in charge of a thriving system of work in which it protects the livelihoods of its employees and supports their rights, but is now bound by a new economic agenda in which it must reduce the workforce capacity, deplete the older industrial base by no longer maintaining the machines and infrastructures that supported it, and stripping out the various forms of wealth that once kept such systems in place: such as salaries and pensions, R & D funds, and safety and redundancy capital (Lynn, 234).

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Interview with Iain Hamilton Grant

Two things got me started: art and material. Before I discovered that  limitations of talent and technique made this improbable, I was  attempting to be a performance artist, a sculptor and a musician and had therefore enrolled on a BA Fine Art at Reading University.

Interview with Iain Hamilton Grant

Among many other things I’m still catching up on my blog reading and discovered to my delight an interview with Iain Hamilton Grant on After Nature blog of Leon Niemoczynski. I think it is well worth the read for its honesty about the opposing option to materialism in our time. I’ve been a careful reader of Hamilton’s co-authored Idealism: A Philosophical Introduction for a while as a great little reference. This interview offers a bird’s eye view of Iain’s current thinking of that vast subject and history of the Idea. Even if you are a materialist of any stripe it’s well worth your time to understand just who the players are in the other camp, as well as just what they are up to. Iain is the perfect guide with deep roots in the German Idealist traditions stemming from Plato, Kant, Schelling, Hegel, etc. to now.

Check it out here Interview with Iain Hamilton Grant, by Leon Niemoczynski of After Nature blog, © 2013.

Technogenesis: The Emergence of Machinic Sapiens or Homo Cyborgensis?

Nature … is by the art of man, as in many other things, so in this also imitated, that it can make an Artificial Animal. For seeing life is but a motion of Limbs, the begining whereof is in some principall part within; why may we not say, that all Automata (Engines that move themselves by springs and wheeles as doth a watch) have an artificiall life?

– Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan

Our role as humans, at least for the time being, is to coax technology along the paths it naturally wants to go.

–  Kevin Kelly, What Technology Wants

Humans have been fascinated with these strange puppet like beings that move of their own accord as long ago as Greece.  Aristotle once said that the “movements of animals may be compared with those of automatic puppets, which are set going on the occasion of a tiny movement; the levers are released, and strike the twisted strings against one another” (Aristotle, On the Motion of Animals, 350 BC.). Yet, up until our own time most of this has been nothing more than a parlor trick entertainment, an illusion for the masses that played off the strangeness of our own inherent affective hopes and fears.

In our Age of Naturalism the underbelly of our psychic life has for the better part of two hundred years played itself out in those strange genres of fantastic literature. In this literature you will find all the old gods, demons, angels, monsters, vampire, werewolves, etc. to your hearts content. In our own time a branching of this fantastic literature became what we term Science Fiction (SciFi). Yet there was a new twist within that genre, one that brought about the qualification of both extrapolation from known facts, as well as the imaginative leap of forecasting the trends of technology in its socio-cultural and moral-ethical movements.

In our own century we’ve had many practitioners and transformations within the old style fantastic. A few of those masters such as Jorge Luis Borges, Italo Calvino, J.G. Ballard, and Stanislaw Lem – and, personally, I would add Philip K. Dick as a crossover between both. The point of this present post is that a great deal of the philosophy, science, etc. that gets written in top rate journals and books for professional scientists and philosophers never truly seeps down into the public at large directly but only indirectly through the imaginative works of those strange fantastic masters. For whatever reason the marginalia and breakthrough ideas, concepts, and notions always seem to be pushed toward an extremity within these fantastic stories. It allows us to take a break from our serious professional minds cast and suddenly dip down into that realm of marvels where the progeny of our imagination can take on a secret life of their own and play out the logic of their futures without harm or trepidation to that fleshy cast of characters in our present Real.

What is uncanny in the fiction of the above mentioned authors is that each in his own way delved into that intersection of technology and bios. The place where humans and their mechanical cousins in one form or another step on the stage as a rival species sharing for the first time since the Neanderthals went extinct the light of the sun. We seem to fill the vacuum of that strangeness with all matter of affective relations. Our fears and hopes, our search for answers and our need for knowledge. Even that old goat Nietzsche once formulated a fable:

In some remote corner of the universe, poured out and glittering in innumerable solar systems, there once was a star on which clever animals invented knowledge. That was the haughtiest and most mendacious minute of “world history” – yet only a minute. After nature had drawn a few breaths the star grew cold, and the clever animals had to die. (‘On Truth and Lie in an Extra-Moral Sense’)

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Nick Land: The Collapse of Almost Everything

Given the exponential trend of social history, most of what has ever happened has taken place since the Great Depression began, and during this time the world has inhabited — more or less consciously — a deliberately constructed system of illusion, or confidence trick. Whether analyzed from the left or the right, the most striking feature of this situation has been inadequately apprehended, or even interrogated: how has it persisted? How can something that is transparently … unworkable last for over 80…years?

And it’s all going to be over real soon … honestly …

– Nick Land, Suspended Animation

Nick Land has published a couple of new short books on Amazon.com’s self-publishing site worth reading. Most of these little essays have been published before on his various blogs over the past few years, but here you will find them organized around a set of themes. His first work Suspended Animation guides us through the current history of our demise and economic collapse, a sort of poor man’s prognosticator of the already dying culture of the West.

Those good old days of the Postmodern Turn are gone and good riddance, yet as Land tells us “[a]lthough Postmodernism was certainly a fad, it was also a zeitgeist, or spirit of the times. It meant something, despite its own best efforts, at least as a symptom. The disappearance of reality that it announced was itself real, as was the realm of simulation that replaced it. At least in its death, it might have amounted to something” (Kindle Locations 339-342).1 Yet, there is another fad that has of yet not died and that is the political economics of one John Maynard Keynes. Whether your on the left or right of the political spectrum doesn’t matter in the length of this strange shadow, for as Land reminds us “[l]ong before the Derridoids got started, Keynes had taught governments that différance was something they could do. Procrastination – the strategic suspension of economic reality through a popularly ungraspable series of displacements and postponements – quickly came to define the art of politics. Why suffer today what can be put off until tomorrow, or suffer yourself something that could be somebody else’s problem? Postpone! Displace! In the long run we are all dead. Reality is for losers”(Kindle Locations 351-355).

Ours is no longer a trickle-down economy, no, now we have the latest ineptitude flavor of the day: triple-up economics; or, as Land states it:

Risk is centralized, concentrated, systematized, politicized – and that’s in the (entirely unrealistic) best case, when it isn’t also expanded and degraded by the corruption and inefficiency of weakly- or cynically-incentivized public institutions. This is trickle up – really flood up – economics, in which everything bad that ever happens to anybody gets stripped of any residual sanity (or realistic estimation of consequences), pooled, re-coded, complicated by compensatory regulation, and shifted to ever more ethereal heights of populist democratic irresponsibility, where the only thing that matters is what people want to hear, and that really isn’t ever going to be the truth. (Kindle Locations 385-390).

The truth that is out there that your leaders keep postponing interminably is about to come crashing down up your heads Land reminds us. It’s inevitable. And, he pulls this out of his favorite prognosticator that old libertarian front man himself, Ludwig von Mises:

The wavelike movement affecting the economic system, the recurrence of periods of boom which are followed by periods of depression, is the unavoidable outcome of the attempts, repeated again and again, to lower the gross market rate of interest by means of credit expansion. There is no means of avoiding the final collapse of a boom brought about by credit expansion. The alternative is only whether the crisis should come sooner as the result of a voluntary abandonment of further credit expansion, or later as a final and total catastrophe of the currency system involved. (Ludwig von Mises, Human Action)

Usually I append a wary smile to all of this dark enlightenment prognostication, but for once I think he is on to something and whether you agree with his politics or not Nick Land is a straight shooter who pulls no punches and tells it how it is. Shooting from the hip the man is worthy of our support and intellectual perusal. So please check out his latest works on Amazon.com for 99 cents its worth every penny:

Suspended Animation (Urban Future Pamphlets – Series 1)
Calendric Dominion (Urban Future Pamphlets – Series 1)

For those of you that have yet either never read any of Nick Land’s previous works, nor known much about this cultural philosopher he has two blogs of note: Urban Futures (2.1) and Outside In. Check them out, and his books:

The Thirst for Annihilation: Georges Bataille and Virulent Nihilism
Fanged Noumena: Collected Writings 1987 – 2007

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1. Land, Nick (2013-12-30). Suspended Animation (Urban Future Pamphlets – Series 1) (Kindle Locations 321-325). Urbanatomy Electronic. Kindle Edition.

Posthuman Anxiety: Were we ever human?

Every one of these people was convinced that in the future all the important decisions governing the lives of humans will be made by machines or humans whose intelligence is augmented by machines. When? Many think this will take place within their lifetimes.1

Reading this new work by James Barrat got me to thinking. He seems to misunderstand and fear the very scientists that he is questioning about AI. Little does he understand that these very scientists for the most part have left his folk-psychology terrors far behind, that they live the mechanist/eliminativist paradigm with a vengeance. For these scientists we never were human to begin with and all the ancient religious and philosophical bric-a-brac of folk-psychology is just another illusionary stance which our secular scientists will one day very soon replace with something else, something much like themselves: machines with brains. The only difference will be one of invariance. These new machine intelligences will not be so different from our biomechanical brains as such but will be made of other materials that are different only in kind. Our biomechanical brains and their possibly quantum brains may in fact be closer in resemblance than our fears and folk-psychologies have yet to fathom.

James Barrat like many humans is still caught up in the older folk-psychology portraying a wariness of this maneuver of the scientists in their ever expanding dominion of knowledge and power. As he sees it if it’s inevitable that machines will make our decisions, then when will the machines get this power, and will they get it with our compliance? How will they gain control, and how quickly? (ibid. intro) The problem with these questions if that they are couched in the language of an outmoded humanism. He automatically assumes that machines are different and differing from us in some essentialist way. He also speaks of power and control as if these supposed inhuman alien machines will suddenly rise up in our midst like any good science fiction horror show and take over the world. The fallacy in this is obvious: we are the machines that have already done that job just fine, we don’t need to worry about our progeny doing it again; in fact, they will more than likely just fulfill our direst scenarios in our self-fulfilling prophecies not in spite of but because we have invented them to do just that. The Dream of the Machine is our own secret dream, we are afraid not of the AI’s but of the truth of our own nature, afraid to except that we, too, may already be the very thing we fear most: machines.

My friend R. Scott Bakker would probably say: we have nothing to fear but fear itself, then he would say: “Yes, this is one of those actual nightmares I’ve been in touch with for a long while now.” There is still that part of Bakker that harbors the older folk-psychology beliefs that he otherwise so valiantly despises in his eliminativist naturalism. For him everything is natural all the way down, so that would include these strange alterities we label AI’s. Now, for me, the verdict is still out, but my guess is that yes the scientists because of the vast agglomeration of investment from governments, corporations, etc. known as the great late-capitalist hive of networks supporting the practical sciences will at some point in the near future produce something resembling a simulacrum of our present organic intelligence in some other form. What form that may take is still open to debate.

Even Vernor Vinge who wrote the first tract on this in his now classic The Coming Technological Singularity once stated that “if the technological Singularity can happen, it will. Even if all the governments of the world were to understand the “threat” and be in deadly fear of it, progress toward the goal would continue.”2 For Vinge the process was inevitable because “the Singularity, that its coming is an inevitable consequence of the humans’ natural competitiveness and the possibilities inherent in technology. And yet … we are the initiators. Even the largest avalanche is triggered by small things. We have the freedom to establish initial conditions, make things happen in ways that are less inimical than others.”(ibid.)

But what should we do? Should we just pretend this is all a strange far-out surmise on the part of scientists, that surely this is not a possibility for the near future, go hide our heads in the sand? Or should we do something else? David Roden of enemyindustry has been writing about this and other aspects of the posthuman dilemma for a while now. In his essay The Disconnection Thesis tells us that “Vinge’s idea of a technologically led intelligence explosion is philosophically important because it requires us to consider the prospect of a posthuman condition succeeding the human one.”3 For David the only way to evaluate the posthuman condition would be to witness the emergence of posthumans. With this he emphasizes that what we need is an anti-essentialist model for understanding this new descent into the posthuman matrix. This concept of descent he describes in a “wide” sense insofar as qualifying entities might include our biological descendants or beings resulting from purely technical mediators (e.g., artificial intelligences, synthetic life-forms, or uploaded minds)(Kindle Locations 7391-7393).

Yet, reading his work I wonder if he too is still caught up in the old outmoded folk-psychology belief that humans are distinct from machines rather than being seen as part of an eliminativist naturalism that harbors only a difference in kind. It’s as if these practitioners are almost afraid to leave the old box of philosophical presuppositions behind and forge ahead and invent new tools and frameworks onto which they might latch their descriptive theories. Here is a sentence in which David stipulates the difference between human / posthuman in which the “human-posthuman difference be understood as a concrete disconnection[my emphasis] between individuals rather than as an abstract relation between essences or kinds. This anti-essentialist model will allow us to specify the circumstances under which accounting would be possible”(Kindle Locations 7397-7399).

But if we have never been human in the old folk-psychological sense of that term then isn’t all this essentialist/anti-essentialist rhetoric just begging the question? What if this dichotomy of the human/posthuman is just another false supposition? What if these terms are no longer useful? What if we were never human to begin with? What then? If the eliminativist naturalists are correct then these questions should just vanish before the actual truth of science itself. Even Roden is moving in this direction when he tells us that in a future article he will “consider the possibility that shared “non-symbolic workspaces”— which support a very rich but non-linguistic form of thinking— might render human natural language unnecessary and thus eliminate the cultural preconditions for our capacity to frame mental states with contents expressible as declarative sentences”  (Kindle Locations 7418-7421). What is this but an acceptance of the eliminativist program? Maybe this is just it: the audience that David is trying to convince is those not in the scientific community who already understand very well what is going on, but those who are still trapped within the older folk-psychology, who believe in the myth of mental states and the whole tradition of an outworn intentionality that no longer holds water for those very naturalists that James Barrat above fears.

As David unveils his tale he opens a window on the past, saying, “there are grounds for holding that the process of becoming human (hominization) has been mediated by human cultural and technological activity”(Kindle Locations 7448-7449) . Isn’t this a key? Maybe the truth is that culture is itself a form of technology? Culture as a machine for structuring hominids according to some natural process that we are only now barely understanding? In fact Roden goes on if “in which humans are coupled with other active components: for example, languages, legal codes, cities, and computer mediated information networks” (Kindle Locations 7458-7461). But if R. Scott Bakker is right then even “though we are mechanically embedded as a component of our environments, outside of certain brute interactions, information regarding this systematic causal interrelation is unavailable for cognition”.4 For Scott this whole human/posthuman dichotomy would probably be seen in terms of neglect. As he stated in a recent article, which ties in nicely with David’s sense of social assemblages as technological machines, the brain  “being the product of an environment renders cognition systematically insensitive to various dimensions of that environment. All of us accordingly suffer from what might be called medial neglect. The first-person perspectival experience that you seem to be enjoying this very moment is itself a ‘product’ of medial neglect. At no point do the causal complexities bound to any fraction of conscious experience arise as such in conscious experience. As a matter of brute empirical fact, you are a component system nested within an assemblage of superordinate systems, and yet, when you reflect ‘you’ seem to stand opposite the ‘world,’ to be a hanging relation, a living dichotomy, rather than the causal system that you are. Medial neglect is this blindness, the metacognitive insensitivity to our matter of fact componency, the fact that the neurofunctionality of experience nowhere appears in experience. In a strange sense, it simply is the ‘transparency of experience,’ an expression of the brain’s utter inability to cognize itself the way it cognizes its natural environments.4

In an almost asymmetrical movement Dr. Roden tells us that “biological humans are currently “obligatory” components of modern technical assemblages. Technical systems like air-carrier groups, cities or financial markets depend on us for their operation and maintenance much as an animal depends on the continued existence of its vital organs. Technological systems are thus intimately coupled with biology and have been over successive technological revolutions” (Kindle Locations 7461-7464). Yet, for Roden the emergence of posthumans out of this technogenesis machine of networks and assemblages will ultimately be seen as a “rupture” in that very system. Yet, I wonder if this is true. What if instead it is just one more natural outcome of the possibilities of science as seen within the eliminativist naturalist perspective. Not seen as an oddity, but as part of a process that was started eons ago within our own evolutionary heritage?

There comes a moment in David’s essay when he comes close to actually affirming the eliminativist naturalist position, saying:

The most plausible argument for abandoning anthropological essentialism is naturalistic: essential properties seem to play no role in our best scientific explanations of how the world acquired biological, technical and social structures and entities. At this level, form is not imposed on matter from “above” but emerges via generative mechanisms that depend on the amplification or inhibition of differences between particular entities (For example , natural selection among biological species or competitive learning algorithms in cortical maps). If this picture holds generally, then essentialism provides a misleading picture of reality.(Kindle Locations 7520-7524).

Not only misleading but erroneous according to the eliminativist naturalist perspective of many cognitive scientists as the slow displacement of a folk-psychology that has been long overdue.

Now I’ve presented this as a neutral interlocutor, not as either an affirmer or denigrator of these views. I just don’t have enough information as of yet to truly make such a judgment call. So take the above with a grain of salt from one who is working within an eliminativist naturalist perspective that he himself still finds strangely familiar and familiarly strange.

I look forward to Dr. David Roden’s new book Posthuman Life: Philosophy at the Edge of the Human coming out next May on Amazon at least, should shed further light on this subject.

1. Barrat, James (2013-10-01). Our Final Invention: Artificial Intelligence and the End of the Human Era (Kindle Locations 60-62). St. Martin’s Press. Kindle Edition.
2. Vinge, Vernor (2010-06-07). The Coming Technological Singularity – New Century Edition with DirectLink Technology (Kindle Locations 100-101). 99 Cent Books & New Century Books. Kindle Edition.
3.   (2013-04-03). Singularity Hypotheses: A Scientific and Philosophical Assessment (The Frontiers Collection) (Kindle Location 7307). Springer Berlin Heidelberg. Kindle Edition.
4. Cognition Obscura (Reprise)

Tit for Tat

The silence of the community on my recent posts about the work of Adran Johnston has been deafening. I’m not sure if it is his atheism or some other aspect of his work that has produced this great silence or not, yet as usual my friend R. Scott Bakker, valiant troubadour of the sciences of the brain has stepped forward questioning the whole enterprise of philosophy as an atavism. He recently commented voicing his opinion on Adrian Johnston’s new Prolegomena for any Future Materialism, saying:

I actually think ‘turf anxiety’ is a primary motive for this text. One way to see the sociocognitive upheaval Johnston and others are attempting to cope with is in terms of discourse delegitimation. So long as the brain remained a black box, the speculative posits you find in Continental circles never need fear arbitration. But now… Science uniformly revolutionizes our prescientific understanding of every domain it colonizes. The gamble that Johnston and other Intentionalists are making is that the growing flood of information will somehow *redeem* traditional conceptuality (theirs in particular) rather than sweep it away. They think, given what seem to them inescapable metacognitive intuitions, that it simply has to turn out this way.

My prediction is predictably pessimistic. In a profound, institutional sense, the turf war is already over, I think. No one actually involved in the science will bother engaging these kinds of views because they draw no added informatic water, resolve no issues, confirm no hypotheses. The monstrous institutional complex that are the empirical sciences of the human will lumber blindly forward, radicalizing the human by alien degrees, rendering it ever more compliant to commercial interests, and these ontological forays into the problem of cognitive science will be generally regarded as a kind of ultraconservative conceptual atavism. Eckart Tolle with footnotes.

I of course, being the creature I am blathered on, saying, in return:

So for you there is no way forward, only the great feeding machine of capitalism and its blind frenzy? No alternative political regime in our future? No way out? No escape? You’ve just let the great gong of the control society break us and produce the final version of our cybernetic future. AI as the goal, androids as the ultimate worker in a hive economy where everything is folded into the inscape of some meshed society without outlet. A planetary civilization of zombies? No thought, no thinkers just blind brains of machines working in the hives of a global vat?

You are sounding the themes of neoreactionary thought ala’ Nick Land and his cronies over at Outside In Nick of course is clarifying the neoreactionary thought forms and even formulating the new dynasties of the Eastern Front in Shanghai: Urban Future (2.1): http://www.ufblog.net/

He was a philosopher who abandoned this for the life on the lam as reporter of the Eastern Worlds of China and its rising power. Is this the model of the control society of the future? Strange days indeed…

I admit being an atheist. I admit to being a communist. I admit to struggling against this form of apathetic acceptance of the machine. I will fight the good fight till I die. I may be a living anachronism, a creature of the fallen tribe, a being whose pursuit being Wisdom rather than knowledge seeks to enlighten others rather than darken them into slavery. If our ‘self’ is a social matrix, and illusionary dream, a fitful negativity blinded to its own processes: so be it… it is an illusion that has created great art and civilizations in the past, and will hopefully do so again. I blather, I fumble, I fall into rhetoric… yet, I will not go willingly into that dark night (Dylan Thomas) of machinic intelligence.

Yet, the sad thing is you’re probably right when you say: “The monstrous institutional complex that are the empirical sciences of the human will lumber blindly forward, radicalizing the human by alien degrees, rendering it ever more compliant to commercial interests, and these ontological forays into the problem of cognitive science will be generally regarded as a kind of ultraconservative conceptual atavism. Eckart Tolle with footnotes.”

For it is this matrix of “institutions” these false entities that live beyond our codes and are the power centers that control the flow of thoughts, information, and the incessant mind chatter of the hive that will probably through those very unconscious processes that we so willingly hide from ourselves that will fall before the neoreactionary forces of this planetary economy. Dark days indeed… Maybe all that is left is not salvation but the swann songs of humanity. Life boats and hidden centers of learning for this new dark age ahead. Hopefully someone will formulate such a archipelago to channel the frayed boats of humanity across this zone of terror.

In my darker moments I imagine our machinic progeny quaintly looking back at this time indifferent and knowing, neither smiling nor crying – emotion being one of the non-essential ingredients of this new social machine – but observant – their quantum matrix lit up with a million million bits of information connected to the global hive: meticulous in their unwavering and unsleeping and undying lives wondering just what it must have been like to be human.

There are moments when I begin to question just what we really want out of life, what direction is humanity and human civilization taking. We seem to be at a precarious juncture that will set the course for good or ill. No one has that strange prophetic nabi robe to tell us or guide us through such days as these. We surmise and blather at each other. I sometimes think of a sort of Twilight Zone episode in which a comic is invited to play at one of the famed clubs in some future city. The comic steps on the stage and begins his routine. Silence. He tells another joke. Silence. A third.. a forth… and so on, till he finally stops and screams at the audience: “What’s wrong with you people, aren’t you human for god’s sake, don’t you have feelings, I’ve worked on this routine for years and get more laughs from my dog than I’ve heard from you all night!” Then suddenly in unison the whole audience is heard saying: “But we’re not human, Charley!”

Is this our fate? Are we slowly losing our humanity forever? Are we little by little giving up what once counted for ‘humanity’, are we truly becoming post-human? And just what does that truly entail?

Then Scott said:

I remember the sense of tingling revelation I had reading Negative Dialectics for the first time decades ago, realizing that deconstruction was simply a negative dialectical ghost, believing that the point of the negative dialectic – making the incomplete nature of identity thinking explicit via it’s immanent collapse into contradiction – actually did evidence, as Adorno so eloquently and relentlessly argued, some Messianic moment, some thought BEYOND the tyranny of the instrumental, a thought that did not collapse back into the metaphysical circuit that so obviously has Johnston trapped.

Then BBT came. As preposterous as it sounds, I now think I have a good inkling of what those apories that supposedly demonstrate the limits of identity thinking are, that I can frame it in language entirely commensurable with the sciences, that there really is no outside nature as describe by the sciences – that we have been posthuman all along.

Some kind of dehumanization is inevitable. For me, the time has come to bite the bullet, to give up on the (Messianic) CONTENT of the Continental tradition entire, and to try to see our way through using its TACTICS of liminal conceptualization. I don’t expect to find anything redemptive. Once you cut the metacognitive umbilical you realize there’s no more reason to think noocentrism will be affirmed than biocentrism or geocentrism.

But I hope. Teleonomy has some serious people interested. There’s some evidence of ‘backward causation’ at the quantum level. My gut tells me this won’t redeem anything, that it’ll simply reveal even more counter-to-intuition vistas. But who knows? Science is crazier than most people realize. And I have a four year old daughter who will actually have to fend the future that I so dread.

The Task of Philosophy: Deleuze and the Pluralist Tradition

“The philosopher-comets knew how to make pluralism an art of thinking, a critical art.”
— Gilles Deleuze, Nietzsche and Philosophy

There seems to be in our present generation a need to overthrow the recent dead in philosophy, to clear a space and move forward into the ‘great outdoors’ as certain speculators would have it. Yet, one wonders why? Why is renouncing the recent work of such philosophical originals as Jacques Derrida, Gilles Deleuze, to name just two of the recent great philosophers of our previous generation, done with such dismissive gestures. We love labels for some reason, we love to peg certain labels on the proverbial donkeys tail; or, should I say, philosopher’s hind. One wonders if such dismissal misleads our present generation? “Stupidity and baseness are always those of our own time, of our contemporaries, our stupidity and baseness.”1

Deleuze, like his progenitor, Nietzsche, always considered philosophy as both critical and untimely: “This is why philosophy has an essential relation to time: it is always against its time, critique of the present world (107)”. Philosophy is the great dymystifier: its task is the rooting out of stupidity and baseness in the present age. There are moments when I need to remind myself of that. Sometimes I forget that philosophy has a task:

Philosophy does not serve the State or the Church, who have other concerns. It serves no established power. The use of philosophy is to sadden. A philosophy that saddens no one, that annoys no one, is not a philosophy. It is useful for harming stupidity, for turning stupidity into something shameful. Its only use is the exposure of all forms of baseness of thought. (106)

Have we lost the art of thinking in our time? Have we all become stupid and base, forgetting the task of philosophy? One doesn’t have to go far to hear certain – so called, new philosophers, decrying critique as if the task of philosophy is no longer critical but is something else altogether. Why is that? What are these so called philosophers up too, anyway? These new philosophers put me to sleep, their thought is dead, it does not quicken me into active thought, but instead hands me a noose and kindly says: “Go hang thy self.” These – so called, philosophers are the great mystifiers, the bringers of grand illusions, utopianists of reality. They offer only to guide the unthinking into a deeper labyrinth of mindless dribble. Instead of such strange speculators who would lead us astray we should all return to such philosophers as Nietzsche and Deleuze not because they offer some great wisdom or knowledge, but because they exasperate, they confound, they awaken us from our slumbers and give us the one thing we need most: thought that is alive and resilient – the figure of the philosopher, thinking. Their thought goes against the grain, against time, it makes one restless and full of life, it disturbs us in our sleep and makes us uncomfortable with the status quo. It expounds on the stupidity and baseness of its age and teaches us to do the same.

This kind of philosophy makes us all travelers of thought, frequenters of tropical zones “frequented by the tropical man, not temperate zones or the moral, methodical or moderate man (110).”

1. Gilles Deleuze. Nietzsche and Philosophy. trans. Hugh Tomlinson (Columbia University Press: 1962)

City of Ruins

There’s a blood red circle
On the cold dark ground
And the rain is falling down
The church doors blown open
I can hear the organ’s song
But the congregations gone.

Come on rise up!
Come on rise up!
Rise up!

———- Bruce Springsteen, My City of Ruins

When one thinks the day after the apocalypse one usually imagines such a scene as above in which everything we have known and loved is now just a giant nightmare of crunched metal: cars strewn along decayed highways, fallen skyscrapers, mashed bridges, impassable routes both in and out of the city. Faced with such a world as this what be your first thought? Survival? Death? Food? Water? Is anyone else alive? Am I alone? Is help coming? Will someone kill me for the little I have? One could run through the post-apocalyptic litany of themes and anti-themes, enough to fill volumes of madness and mayhem for even the hardened aficionado. Yet, what would one truly do?

Would you begin picking through the ruble and scattered remnants for survivors? Or, instead would you join the gangs of hoodlums running rampant stealing everything in site? And, what do they think they’ll do with all that loot anyway? Do we have a philosophy today that could help us to understand what is going on in such a moment of disaster? Or is the academic philosopher so busy with its own internal squabbles and refinements over process or objects that it has lost the true appraisal of just how bad things truly are out there in front of their eyes?  Maybe that’s why I keep coming back to someone like Slavoj Zizek who seems to be looking around him and repeating a song or melody about our present predicaments over and over again. Yes, he is redundant, repurposing his essential ideas and thoughts in new ways, asking questions that keep one looking around to see if reality is truly such a tragic affair. Yes, he returns to the dreamers of the nineteenth century to deidealize the Idealists and turn their dreams toward more material concerns. Is this not the mark of a great philosopher, not that he has the answers, but that he keeps asking the right questions? His is an action philosophy not some contemplative Platonic dream theory. One must embody one’s ideas not stand back and bask in the sun of their abstract light. Ideas are not independent mirrors or lamps, they are living movements and happenings of a collective action that we all share in the sociality of our lifeworld. No one exists in a vacumn, we do not withdraw in isolated solipsistic delight; no, we all share in this real planetary realm as members of one another who need each others broken and fragmented lives.

This is the fragility of time: that we are scared shitless, that we pretend with ourselves that everything is going to be alright, that the future holds promise, that if we just all work together it will turn out just fine. But, my friend, it’s no so easy as that. Things may not turn out at all. We may even now be facing unknown possibilities that even the troubadours of the apocalypse never imagined. But one thing for sure if we don’t begin to open our fragile hearts toward each other and begin to communicate and work together things will end badly for all. Wake up my friends the apocalypse is before you, behind you, all around you. How will you face it? Here’s my suggestion: take out a pin and pop that bubble of idiocy for good. Take off you rose tinted glasses and look into the abyss around you. Begin the long road of healing both yourself and the earth of this disease of dead civilization in your midst.  Rise up from the ruins of your personal life and seek one other person to walk into not out of that terrible city of ruins.

Urban Futures?

The idea that cities have a future is almost quaint in this age of decline and fiscal bankruptcy, yet there are those who ‘keep the aspidistras flying’ – as that indefatigable commentator of the body social, George Orwell, in diaries, letters, essays, novels, stories, etc. so aptly coined that sense of keeping with a positive hope even in the midst of decay and ruin. For as my friend Arran James from attempts at living and synthetic zero  puts it:

…as survivors, we shouldn’t be looking for ways to prevent the catastrophe but to mitigate it; we shouldn’t be looking for means of preventing the destruction but of building already from the ruins about us. The positing of the catastrophe into any kind of futurity is already a disavowal of the catastrophic real. Indeed, this might well be part of the development of a distinctly postnihilist ethics: like the survivors we are, shifting the terms of our thought from survival to rebuilding. Yet this rebuilding is not a question of a return to the pre-catastrophic world, and this is precisely where the importance of the post-apocalyptic comes into play.

—————  The Catastrophic and the Post-apocalyptic

As a part of this process a group of architects, artists, science fiction writers, thinkers, etc. met at MU in Eindhoven to investigate this process of rebuilding cities out of the ruins of ruins. Under Tomorrow’s Sky is a fictional, future city. Speculative architect Liam Young of the London based Tomorrows Thoughts Today has assembled a think tank of scientists, technologists, futurists, illustrators, science fiction authors and special effects artists to collectively develop this imaginary place, the landscapes that surround it and the stories it contains.

I commend their efforts, yet wonder if the utopic possibilities overreach the mark? Are we still dreaming of some technological monstrosity that will pull us out of our present predicament in such efforts? Oh sure the art and concepts are all fine and wonderful, yet as I  pondered the videos and the marshalling of ideas I came away thinking that this was all a pipe dream, the sort of effort that dreamers love to dream but that engineers would stand back and just say “humph… what a crock of shit!” The truth is that it’s going to take one step at a time and a lot of innovative and persistent work from a broad spectrum of pragmatic workers to get this job done if it ever is. As a thinker I too get a little too dreamy eyed sometimes and have to put my thoughts back down into the soil and realize nothing is got from nothing, there is no easy path to rebuilding a world fit for life on planet earth. As in all things there want be some jubilee of happy campers to sing in the greatness of this future, not in our lifetime nor in an semblance of generations ahead. No. It’s going to take several lifetimes of collective social endeavor and a lot of dedicated persistence by a myriad of individuals to carve out of niche in this dark world of ruins. Yet, I still believe it will be done. What else is there to believe: the only alternative is oblivion, the end of the human species. Is this what we truly want?

It always seems that we force our hands into the darkness, to war, famine, disease, chaos before we suddenly realize that there must be another way, a different path to take; yet, have we ever learned from our past mistakes. No. We continuously repeat mistakes over and over and over again. Yet, in the past people could migrate to another locale, find a new home to rebuild their world and lives. Not this time my friends. There is no place to go, no elsewhere, or utopic world of the future to escape into, instead we’re all staring each other in the face with no where to migrate but in the ruins of each others dark cities and rural catastrophes. So look around and think to yourself: “Just exactly what should I do with the rest of my life?” Do I want to leave this to my children? Is this what I worked so hard for all my bloody life? Our leaders have sold us down the river with grand schemes that enslave us rather than giving us happier lives.

Sure, I rant. My prerogative… if you don’t like it go dream in your pie dreams somewhere else. Here is a dark truth: there is no place else, the utopic lie is and has always been just a cop out, a grand scheme to escape reality instead of realizing that we need to face it straight on, take off the blinders and begin the hard work of building and rebuilding a world worth living in. So quit bitching and begin building…

Alain Badiou: The Subject of Art

The point is that the relation, the subjective relation between an event and the world cannot be a direct relation.
————– Alain Badiou: The Subject of Art

One often wonders what truly is going on in Badiou’s mind as he prepares for his lectures. Reading the lecture I quoted above in the link I sit back in wonderment at the childlike simplicity of his statements, as if the audience before him were all ten year old kids and he the master was trying his best to lead them through the intricate yet simple realms of Alice’s Wonderland. His voice is charming and eloquent, decisive and pure, yet one is tempted to smile and realize that the Master has gone over this track too many times, that it is all too confident, too precise and mathematical for our taste. It’s as if he is trying to convince not the audience but himself of the simplicity of his system, to make sure that each and every aspect of its labored precision still fits the measure of his tempered mind. And, does it? Is this trifold world of being qua being, being-in-the-word, and the event truly locked down in such a methodical fashion as to allow for no critical injunctions?

Badiou like Zizek always begins and ends with the Subject as that point in the world where something new happens:

The point is that the relation, the subjective relation between an event and the world cannot be a direct relation. Why? Because an event disappears on one side, and on the other side we never have a relation with the totality of the world. So when I say that the subject is a relation between an event and the world we have to understand that as an indirect relation between something of the event and something of the world. The relation, finally, is between a trace and the body. I call trace ‘what subsists in the world when the event disappears.’ It’s something of the event, but not the event as such; it is the trace, a mark, a symptom. And on the other side, the support of the subjectthe reality of the subject in the worldI call ‘a new body.’ So we can say that the subject is always a new relation between a trace and a body. It is the construction in a world, of a new body, and jurisdictionthe commitment of a trace; and the process of the relationship between the trace and the body is, properly, the new subject. (here)

When I saw that word ‘trace’ rise up in the above sentences I was reminded of another French philosopher, Jaques Derrida, for whom trace became a catch word. In the 1960s, Derrida used this word in two of his early books, namely “Writing and Difference” and “Of Grammatology”. Because the meaning of a sign is generated from the difference it has from other signs, especially the other half of its binary pairs, the sign itself contains a trace of what it does not mean. One cannot bring up the concepts of woman, normality, or speech without simultaneously evoking the concepts of man, abnormality, or writing. The trace is the nonmeaning that is inevitably brought to mind along with the meaning.” Is there a connection? I doubt it, only the connection in my own mind between two distinctly independent and intelligent philosophers that obviously with careful reading probably questioned each other to no end, yet read each other deeply and contentiously. Their thought converges and diverges on the concept of the event. I’d have to spend too much time to tease out the complexity of both philosophers conceptions to do that in a blog post so will end here. Read the above essay if you will for it lays down in a few words the basic architectural units of Badiou’s whole system of philosophy. One could do no better than read it and either follow it up with a deep reading of his major works Being and Event and The Logic of Worlds, or toss it into the trash and follow one’s own inclinations toward other climes. I leave that to the reader to choose. For me it is enough to realize that Badiou is someone you cannot pass over, but must confront with all the rigor that he brings to his own project. That there can be no direct relation between the event and the world to me seems to fit nicely into many of the strands of current philosophical speculation. This is a philosophy of movement, of happening, not of closure and stasis. The idea of indirect relation is processual in its dynamics, yet is also gathered into the net of mathematical precision as the intersection of relations defined as the movement between world and body, subject and its field of newness. Where does this take us? I’ll only leave you with one last tidbit from the lecture:

So the subject of art is not only the creation of a new process in its proper field, but it’s also a question of war and peace, because if we don’t find the new paradigm—the new subjective paradigm—the war will be endless.  And if we want peace—real peace—we have to find the possibility that subjectivity is really in infinite creation, infinite development, and not in the terrible choice between one form of the power of death (experimentation of the limits of pleasure) and another form of the power of death (which is sacrifice for an idea, for an abstract idea).  That is I think, the contemporary responsibility of artistic creation.

————————-
Transcript by Lydia Kerr – The Subject of Art

The Decline and Fall of the Noocentric Empire

R. Scott Bakker with another in our continuing dialogues. I had not read Ben Cain’s blog before, so will work on reading his Rants Within the Undead God today! Either way, as Scott says, and I would agree, “The irony is that although we three actually don’t disagree about that much, the disputed remainder is nothing less than the whole human aspiration since the Enlightenment.” Bull’s-eye! He’s onto something… take a gander… whether you agree or disagree with Scott, he’s worth an effort and engagement as singular voice outside the academic circle questioning, questioning, questioning…

Three Pound Brain

The Semantic Apocalypse debate winds on, with Ben Cain over at Rants Within the Undead God, and Stephen Craig Hickman over at noir-realism. The irony is that although we three actually don’t disagree about that much, the disputed remainder is nothing less than the whole of human aspiration since the Enlightenment.

Philosophically wounded souls disputing existential salvage rights? Or narcissistic dogs fighting over hyperintellectualized scraps?

One way to look at what I’m arguing is in terms of the ‘third variable problem’ in psychology. When presented with a statistical correlation, say between the availability of contraception and a high rate of teen promiscuity, the impulse is to assume some causal connection between the two, even though any number of third variables–‘unknown unknowns‘–could be responsible, say, the ubiquity of pornography or what have you. Once again, it comes down to the invisibility of ignorance, the way the availability of information constrains cognition. Absent information pertaining to third…

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The Gramscian Moment

Jon Beasley-Murray Posthegemony has an excellent review of Peter Thomas’s The Gramscian Moment. You, might enjoy his book Posthegemony as well. (Addendum: I goofed… read the wrong name at the top of his about page. Corrected.)

Posthegemony

Peter Thomas, The Gramscian Moment

Peter Thomas’s The Gramscian Moment is probably the highlight to date of a revival in studies of the Italian Marxist philosopher that has been gathering pace for the past twenty years or so. This revival has been accompanied (and enabled) by Joseph Buttigieg’s edition of the Prison Notebooks, translated into English for the first time in more or less unexpurgated, uncondensed form. The third volume of this massive effort only appeared in 2007. Hitherto, the Anglophone world had to rely mostly on Quintin Hoare and Geoffrey Nowell Smith’s Selections from the Prison Notebooks (1971), plus a few other collections. Given the immense influence that some of Gramsci’s key concepts–not least, the notion of “hegemony”–has had on so many fields, it’s amazing that it has taken so long for his work to be fully available. Or to put this another way: never perhaps has any cultural critic been cited so…

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Tom Sparrow: Levinas Unhinged Arrived!

One recent day I realized that I had written several interrelated essays— which is to say, a book— on Levinas’s philosophy. … Its purpose is to exhibit what might be called a proto-materialist metaphysics leaking through the cracks of the familiar portrait of Levinas as a philosopher of transcendence. It resists the well-worn view that the Levinasian problematic is primarily, if not exclusively, ethical or theological in nature. The singular claim uniting the following chapters is that Levinas provides us with a speculative metaphysics and aesthetics which foregrounds the following: the body in its materiality; the irreducibility of aesthetic experience; the transcendental function of sensation; the ecological aspect of sensibility; the horror of existence. Levinas surprisingly keeps pace on occasion with philosophers of immanence like Gilles Deleuze.

– Tom Sparrow, Levinas Unhinged

I forgot I had preordered Tom’s book on Levinas and got a pleasant surprise this morning when I turned on my kindle fire. I like where he’s going with this and cannot wait to dig in today sitting in my cool pool sipping lemonade. Right… yea, the temperatures have been well above the 110 degree Fahrenheit for well over a week. We’re expecting a little rain later, but in Phoenix when it rains its a monsoon (and, yes, we have a monsoon season) that flushes the skies with muddy waters. But, hey, who cares when you have such great fare to read while the mud flashes by on the desert. I’ll have more to say on Tom’s work if the mud doesn’t float me off somewhere… otherwise I’ll be in that cool pool shades drawn over a too bright sunglint reading… reading… and, thinking as usual…

Yet, already, I’m distracted by the possibilities of Tom’s work. He admits that those rigid defenders of Levinas will probably stand aghast at his work of, as he terms it, ‘impiety’: “I am not trying to “get Levinas right” or advance his ethical program as it is typically understood. What I hope to have accomplished here is an account of Levinas as someone obsessed with matters besides God, the face of the Other, radical alterity, transcendence, and the usual Levinas catchwords.”1 Already the counter thrust, the definitive movement of misprisioning, of thumbing those who so meticulously guard the secrets of the coded world of Levinas, telling them that this will not be such a book, that instead he will offer a book for the uninitiated “so that its metaphysical potential can be fully exploited”. Against the cult of Levinas as a harbinger of some Religious Turn he offer us a Levinas “as first and foremost an engineer of ontology, as someone explicitly engaged in the establishment of a materialist account of subjectivity”. And, most, importantly, this new work is about the “rehabilitation of the sensible,” as against all those other concepts that people tend to fetishize like the “Other, the face, God, infinity, transcendence, or discourse”.

Okay, now I’m off for the pool… have fun all!

1. Sparrow, Tom (2013-06-28). Levinas Unhinged (Kindle Locations 63-65). Zero Books. Kindle Edition.

David Hume as Feminist: On Learned Conversation and the Fair Sex

I know nothing more advantageous than such Essays as these with which I endeavour to entertain the public.

– David Hume, Essays

David Hume was one of the first to break down the walls between the academy of learned professionals and the public at large for whom learned conversation was prized above all else.

I cannot but consider myself as a kind of resident or ambassador from the dominions of learning to those of conversation, and shall think it my constant duty to promote a good correspondence betwixt these two states, which have so great a dependence on each other. I shall give intelligence to the learned of whatever passes in company, and shall endeavour to import into company whatever commodities I find in my native country proper for their use and entertainment. The balance of trade we need not be jealous of, nor will there be any difficulty to preserve it on both sides. The materials of this commerce must chiefly be furnished by conversation and common life: the manufacturing of them alone belongs to learning. (2) 1

What’s interesting in the passage above is the use of economic language to describe the trade between academics and learned public. The idea of innovative ideas manufactured in the hothouses of the academy and then passed into the hands of the public like so many commodities whose value is both entertainment and commerce.

Hume also seems to have been one of the early feminists espousing a sovereignty to the ‘fair sex’ in the domains of communication: “As it would be an unpardonable negligence in an ambassador not to pay his respects to the sovereign of the state where he is commissioned to reside; so it would be altogether inexcusable in me not to address myself with a particular respect to the fair sex, who are the sovereigns of the empire of conversation.”(3) He continues:

To be serious, and to quit the allusion before it be worn threadbare, I am of opinion that women, that is, women of sense and education (for to such alone I address myself) are much better judges of all polite writing than men of the same degree of understanding; and that it is a vain panic, if they be so far terrified with the common ridicule that is levelled against learned ladies, as utterly to abandon every kind of books and study to our sex.(3)

Speaking of the Salons of France he writes tenderly “in a neighbouring nation, equally famous for good taste, and for gallantry, the ladies are, in a manner, the sovereigns of the learned world, as well as of the conversable; and no polite writer pretends to venture before the public, without the approbation of some celebrated judges of that sex.”(3-4) He remonstrates with the fair sex to leave off only one oddity of their learned involvements, and that is of the romanciers, the gallants and the devotionalists, because “the fair sex have a great share of the tender and amorous disposition, it perverts their judgment on this occasion, and makes them be easily affected…”.(4) And, yet,

Would the ladies correct their false taste in this particular, let them accustom themselves a little more to books of all kinds; let them give encouragement to men of sense and knowledge to frequent their company; and finally, let them concur heartily in that union I have projected betwixt the learned and conversable worlds. They may, perhaps, meet with more complaisance from their usual followers than from men of learning; but they cannot reasonably expect so sincere an affection: and, I hope, they will never be guilty of so wrong a choice, as to sacrifice the substance for the shadow.(4)

1. Hume, David; Stephen Copley; Andrew Edgar (1998-06-04). Selected Essays (Oxford World’s Classics) (p. 2). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.

What is the difference between Association and the State?

Jehu is making a very important point here… it shows the difference between Marx/Engels and Baukin, and the key to the abolishment of the State resides in knowing just what an Association is. His point is valid and central to a real understanding of Marxist thought. Read him at The Real Movement!

The Real Movement

Certain Marxists have their own weasel words to cover their statist inclination. Unless pressed to demonstrate it, they routinely  refer to the Dictatorship of the Proletariat (as one person stated to me) as “a ruling class’ instrument of the suppression of class enemies”. The employment of coercion against the capitalists, they assert, means the association of the working class is a working class state.

This idea is not to be found in Marx or Engels writings and it isn’t even in the anarchist criticism leveled against Marx by Bakunin.

This really makes it appear as if the difference between working class association and a bourgeois state is who gets suppressed by violence. It poses the problem of association in  a way that isn’t even close to understanding how association differs from the state.

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The Global Cartoon: Empire in the 21st Century

Today, the new corporations and sectors associated with technocapitalism are influencing how we view human existence, life and nature, and are well on their way to impose new realities.

–  Luis Suarez-Villa

What I’m about to portray is the sort of open nightmare of a neoliberalist future, a dystopic vision of the control machine of this corporatist socio-cultural complex extended to maximum overdrive, an open-ended structure for an unfinished history of the future. As I think through many of the current issues of my dystopic novel trilogy I’m working through the layers of this world building scenario, stretching the canvas and extrapolating based on certain known givens in our present society and technologies.

As food scarcity becomes more and more apparent in the years to come, and as a result health, nutrition, and global food production take on ominous priority within the socio-political spectrum we will begin seeing technology and capital merging in ways that may become irreversible. The use of bioengineered seeds may introduce anomalies that in the short term resolves the food crises but introduces unknown variables into the genetic heritage of life on earth as we’ve known it. With the promise of bioengineering and synthetic life forms corporate entities are transforming inorganic matter into living organisms, all the while patenting them as private property for marketability in some future economic system. These corporate entities operations will very likely lead to the creation of myriad living organisms, from viruses that can generate disease to microbes that produce fuels, to human organs for replacement, to new animal species and possibly humanoids, all created as corporate property. A new industry and a vast new market may thus be created for synthetic life, affecting most any aspect of human existence and of nature.

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Quentin Meillassoux, divine inexistence and split rationality

Christopher Watkin has an excellent post up as a continuation on the dialogue concerning Peter Gratton’s new essay on Quentin Meillassoux’s Ontology of Divine Inexistence. Christopher is the author of Difficult Atheism: Tracing the Death of God in Contemporary Continental Thought. After condensing his conceptual arguments for the logics atheism as imitative, residual, and integrated he critiques Meillassoux’s argument. He tells us he has five reasons why Meillassoux doesn’t succeed in his efforts, but he only details out one: ‘split rationality’. I’ll let the reader investigate just what that means by visiting his site and reading his excellent post…

Christopher Watkin

Meillassoux

FinitudeWith a new issue of Analecta Hermeneutica just out there has been some discussion this past week of Peter Gratton’s article on Meillassoux’s ontology of divine inexistence (here, here and here, with some reaction on Gratton’s own blog, Philosophy in a time of error). The discussion put me in mind of a paper I gave way back in 2010 at the UK Society for French Studies conference (a paper that eventually became part of Difficult Atheism), which I reprint here. I by no means offer this as a reaction to the recent discussion (the current mountain of marking precludes any such luxury), just as a small contribution to the more general debate.

For more on Meillassoux, and specifically whether this split rationality critique need necessarily undermine his claim to post-theological thinking, see my ‘Quentin Meillassoux’s Oedipal atheism‘.

Quentin Meillassoux’s ‘L’Inexistence divine’

 Introduction: varieties of atheism

The…

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Ralph Waldo Emerson: On Comedy and the Comic

The secular art of homily like its cousin served Emerson well, he was able to find that fine line between conversational prose and the scholarly rhythms of the street. He gave us behind the façade of a formalist essay the honesty of a man thinking. Much of his life and thought drifted between Society and Solitude, the give and take of a life lived in the midst of others, and the marginal worlds that fly beyond the edges of our solitary lives amid a vast ocean of stars. Some see Emerson as some old fuddy duddy, a serious if not overpowering rhetorician of the transcendentalist movement. Yet there is another Emerson, the comic or humorist of thought who instead of wandering away from society entered its contours and byways, alleys and thoroughfares, its civic centers and its radical trade centers where he study men and women in the midst of their everyday lives. He’d studied his Aristotle, too:

Aristotle’s definition of the ridiculous is, ” what is out of time and place, without danger.” If there be pain and danger, it becomes tragic; if not, comic. I confess, this definition, though by an admirable definer, does not satisfy me, does not say all we know.

The essence of all jokes, of all comedy, seems to be an honest or well-intended halfness; a non-performance of what is pretended to be performed, at the same time that one is giving loud pledges of performance. The balking of the intellect, the frustrated expectation, the break of continuity in the intellect, is comedy ; and it announces itself physically in the pleasant spasms we call laughter. With the trifling exception of the stratagems of a few beasts and birds, there is no seeming, no half-ness in nature, until the appearance of man. Unconscious creatures do the whole will of wisdom. An oak or a chestnut undertakes a function it can not execute; or if there be phenomena in botany which we call abortions, the abortion is also a function of nature, and assumes to the intellect the like completeness with the further function to which in different circumstances it had attained. The same rule holds true of the animals. Their activity is marked by unerring good-sense. But man, through his access to Reason, is capable of the perception of a whole and a part. Reason is the whole, and whatsoever is not that is a part. The whole of nature is agreeable to the whole of thought, or to the Reason; but separate any part of nature and attempt to look at it as a whole by itself, and the feeling of the ridiculous begins. The perpetual game of humor is to look with considerate good nature at every object in existence, aloof as a man might look at a mouse, comparing it with the eternal Whole; enjoying the figure which each self-satisfied particular creature cuts in the unrespecting All, and dismissing it with a derisive smile. Separate any object, as a particular bodily man, a horse, a turnip, a flour-barrel, an umbrella, from the connection of things, and contemplate it alone, standing there in absolute nature, it becomes at once comic; no useful, no respectable qualities can rescue it from the ludicrous.

– from The Comic

Was this the first critique of Speculative Realism, and of OOO in particular? Or is this a comic hilarity of objects overmined and undermined by a transcendentalist poseur? Emerson as speculator of relations, what comes next?

1. Thoreau, Henry David; Ralph Waldo Emerson (2008-01-01). The Complete Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson & Henry David Thoreau (The Complete Works of Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson) (Kindle Locations 11071-11073). C&C Web Press. Kindle Edition.

J.G. Ballard: The Calculus of Desire and Hope

The narrators are in these texts caught in a triangular pattern of relationships in which they are drawn to authority figures who urge them to accept and embrace the twisted social logics they uncover.

– Andrzej Gasiorek, JG Ballard

‘Not really.’ Gould finished my coffee and pushed the empty cup back to me. ‘It isn’t only the psychopath who can grasp the idea of absolute nothing. Even a meaningless universe has meaning. Accept that and everything makes a new kind of sense.’

– J.G. Ballard, Millennium People

Have we entered the last stage of the game, a game-theoretic that has played itself out in ever more duplicitous cycles within cycles for the past hundred years or so? I’m speaking of the shifting sands of both economic and political ideologies as played out in the modeling hijinks of its greatest ideologues as each in turn has vied for the space of politics?  It was Henri Lefebvre who once, optimistically said to us that the declining State would be dissolved not so much into “society” in an abstract sense as into a reorganized social space. At this stage, the State would be able to maintain certain functions, including that of representation. The control of flows, the harmony between flows internal and external to a territory, will require that they be oriented against the global firms and, by implication, will also require a general management of a statist type during a certain transitional period. This can only lead toward the end goal and conclusion by means of the activity of the base: spatial (territorial) autogestion, direct democracy and democratic control, affirmation of the differences produced in and through that struggle.1 Do we believe in such myths anymore? Is this another throwaway idea that has had its day and gone under the crunch of globalism? Is Democracy like Communism before it running scared? Is capitalism like some dark infestation freed of a shadow substance leaving its cloaked narrative of freedom and democracy in the dustbin of history like all other lost causes?  What comes next? Will the totalitarian regimes of the future offer us everything we always wanted rather than depriving us of our livelihoods? The blueprints for our postliberal dictatorships are in the works even now: the totalitarian future will be subservient and ingratiating, catering to our every need, and only asking in return that we willingly give up our freedom for the security and comfort of a fully posthuman life. Cyborgs or transhumanists of a technocratic future we will live in the terminal zones of a paradise run by executives who are as affectless and apathetic as an alien from some machinic universe.

They like that. They like the alienation … There’s no past and no future. If they can, they opt for zones without meaning – airports, shopping malls, motorways, car parks. They’re in flight from the real.

– JG Ballard, from Millenium People

Yet, as Ben Woodard says in his new and excellent work, On an Ungrounded Earth: Toward a New Geophilosophy: Here we wish to subject the earth to pain – not as a somatized creature, but as a planet, the glob of baked matter that it is – in order to test its limitropic porosity and see how much ungrounding the earth can take before it ceases to be simultaneously and example of nature’s product and also its productivity.“2 Maybe we’re entering a new era, an era of planetary upheaval, of political and socio-cultural instability and transformation, that from one perspective might look like the grand collapse of civilization, but from another might tend more toward some form of breaktrhough in which the great wars for the earth take on a new and insidious meaning… Maybe what we’re seeing is the end of the Liberal worldview, with its system of enlightened governance that has ruled Western Civilization for at least two centuries. If this is so then what is coming our way?

A postliberal world of decay and decadence, fraught with both internal/external conflicts within science, culture, politics, and love? With the death knell of tyrannical communism and the slow death of liberal democracy is there something else on the horizon? We see the old guard  on both sides of the fence crying foul, saying that neither of these are finished, that there will always be one of these two views of life resurgent in our midst in one form or another. But is this true? Isn’t the devil out of the bag? Hasn’t capitalism in our time finally slayed the dragon of its own duplicitous  marriage to democracy? We’ve heard this before, haven’t we?

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A Theory of What Constitutes the Heart of the Žižekian

Daniel Tutt of spirit is a bone introduces a new book on Žižek, Žižek and Education by Antonio Garcia. Nuanced and calibrated he lays out the parade of scholars succinctly and with his usual aplomb! Looking forward to the reading the new work.

Description

Zizek has spoken very little on the subject of education, so how could a book be devoted to such a subject? For many years, educational theorist and philosophers have incorporated Zizek’s work, but none have taken on the project of developing an identified “Zizekian line of thought” (Butler), how Zizek and Education might be a matter of “Public Pedagogy” (see The handbook on Public Pedagogy by Sandlin, Schultz, and Burdick), or what renderings of education in the vein of Boris Groys (and Badiou) anti-philosophers.

Daniel Tutt

Here is the introduction of my essay for a new book on Žižek and Education edited by Antonio Garcia, with contributions from many of my favorite Žižek scholars.

In this piece, entitled “The Threshold of the Žižekian” I argue that the heart of the Žižekian, can be located in the way that Žižek modifies the discourse of the Master by putting the disciple (reader) into a new relation towards what I call “emancipatory knowledge.”

The threshold of the Žižekian consists first of a demand put onto the reader (subject) bringing them into a new relation to the Real – a process that makes any identity or reality inherently paradoxical, and thus the orientation towards the Žižekian is disorienting by its very nature.

After outlining the threshold, I develop a theory of Žižekian pedagogy that can be arranged like a musical score, reaching its crescendo at the point of the act, where the subject (disciple)…

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Nick Land: Shuggoth’s Revenge

Capitalism is still accelerating, even though it has already realized novelties beyond any previous human imagining. After all, what is human imagination? It is a relatively paltry thing, merely a sub-product of the neural activity of a species of terrestrial primate.

– Nick Land, Critique of Transcendental Miserablism

Robin Mackay and Ray Brassier adeptly situate this swan song at the end of their book of Nick Land’s essays, Fanged Noumena. If one were to take this essay as a finis, a final statement of the departed philosopher-turned-social-critic then it would have to be his swan song for lost hope, for all those who once believed in alternative economies, alternative societies. Instead of lost causes in Slavoj Zizek’s sense we get the dark enlightenment of Landianism: a supercapitalism of thanatropic intensive predation without end. For it is here more than anywhere that Land enters the ranks of those neoreactionary forces he so well chronicles on his blog Outside In.

In his diatribe against the old guard he opens the pit and tries to bury Marxism: “The Marxist dream of dynamism without competition was merely a dream, an old monotheistic dream re-stated, the wolf lying down with the lamb.” And, for all those who dream of hope, of a post-capitalist world free of consumerism he reiterates his stance: ” ‘Post-capitalism’ has no real meaning except an end to the engine of change.” In Land’s new SimWorld he forcasts the future as fiction: reality turned inside out, or outside in. It’s as if he had taken Baudrillard one step further: instead of the simulacra or copies of the real taking over, we have the real swapping out sim-chips from the simulacra and reverse engineering the hyperworlds as reality itself. Fiction is Real: but reality with a vengeance, a self-constructed polyp that resembles not so much our world as it does a horror novel by H.P. Lovecraft. Land’s blog becomes the fictionalized game-theory of the new Zombielands of the future history. He explores the zones beyond our neoliberal worlds where escape is no longer an options because the great Outdoors has already imploded. We are the citizens of an alternate world, creatures of a ready-made vision of apocalypse that is more intensive than imagination could ever dream. Welcome to the real void… Landtopia!

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Peter Gratton: On Meillasoux’s Speculative Politics

Peter Gratton of Philosophy in a Time of Error fame has a paper up on Analecta:  Meillassoux’s Speculative Poltics: Time and Divinity to Come (.pdf). I’ve admired Peter’s posts for a while now, but haven’t read much of his published work. Not sure why that. Be that as it may, this is a superb reading of Meillassoux’s work. I’ll be purchasing Peter’s new books as well: The State of Sovereignty and one that should be out soon Speculative Realism: Problems and Prospects.

I noticed right off the bat that he hits quickly in pointing out a discrepancy in Meillassoux’s argument for ‘contingency’ in moving from the singular to the universal in a sleight-of-hand way that if one were not a careful reader one might step over without ever realizing that one had just been hoodwinked:

Meillassoux provides no warrant for moving from “the only veritable” absolute (note the singular) to “everything” (note the universal) from one page to the next, even if we take this absolute contingency to be part of what “everything” would be. In other words, as far as we can tell, he only proves what the correlationist has already known: that thinking did not need to be and that, yes, it is absolutely true. This only changes things if one depicts the correlationists as denying all reality as such, which probably was not the case.(4)

Another thing Peter points out is that Meillassoux purports to term his project a speculative materialism, but that it relies on the incorporeal and immaterial for its justification. What he means by this is that Meillassoux affirms creation ex nihilo: “there is no necessary being, yet there is a hyper-chaos that is “eternal” and beyond the dictates of physical time: “Time is not governed by the physical laws because it is the law themselves which are governed by a mad time.” What is interesting about this Time as creator is that it is not a part of process or becoming, but is in fact static time and the creator of becoming and process. Ultimately this contingent unfounded conception of creation out of nothing, ex hihilo, leads to Meillassoux’s notion of divine inexistence. This remarks Gratton, states that “if there is no necessary being, then there is nothing subtending the world. And his rejection of the principle of sufficient reason means that he has arrived at what he calls an “irreligious” conception of creation, not just of the world, but of events taking place within this world: “Advent [surgissement] ex nihilo thus presents itself as the concept par excellence of a world without God, and for that very reason it allows us to produce an irreligious notion of the origin of pure novelty.”(5)

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The Cathedral of Time: A Sci-Fi Novel in Progress – A Teaser

 A politics of escape, flight, exodus, leaving, refusal, secession…

– Mark Purcell, Unrepresentable Citizenship and the City

Some say the Outside is a myth, a fabrication of silly troubled minds – neuronets on the frag. Others say that the progenitors instilled such myths of freedom in our biomech cores to goad us toward greatness and change. The Cathedral of Time says such heresies need to be stamped out, forbidden and that even the mention or hint of such places, such alternate zones should be slit from our biochips and distributed to the lower echelons of Slay Town as so much fodder. I do not know about such things, I’m no philosopher, just a citizen who knows something great happened in our midst and is now no more.

No one knows when it began. The search for origins are useless in such matters. It wasn’t one of those things that happened over night. Things like that take time, or should we say they happen in neither our clock-work world, nor in those interstices between time present and time past; no, there is another site of time, a third order of time: a Time out of joint, set to one side of our time, helter-skelter, skewed. We always knew there were pathways into such strangeness, but most of us were so blinded by our everyday worries that we were unable or unwilling to slow down enough to register the speed of such spaces as they intersected with our own troubled world. But a time came when people began to disappear, withdraw, secede into the interior zones of that other realm; a realm just the other side of our own, just outside its control lanes, its dark enlightenment, its angular time quadrants. Even I didn’t notice it until it was too late, till all avenues of escape grew less and less, till the elements of control shut the doors for the last time and allowed no further access to the other realm. Yet, even those within the Cathedral of Time, those controlling all knowledge were unable to control the anomalies that surfaced from time to time.

It all started for me one bright day when my neighbor, John Fullerton and his family, disappeared along with their cy-home into one such zone. It didn’t just vanish it took flight or withdrew from our world into somewhere else; or, was it, somewhen? I’d have never noticed except that my son, Billy, who came home wistful and restless that day, asked, innocently: “Hey Dad, did you notice our new neighbors, yet?”

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An Odd Post

As a long time coder, a software engineer, and now architect of systems I’ve learned the art of detection as a part of the arsenal of tools I have needed to maintain things. Being a software detective is a somewhat dubious profession, but it seem analogous to much of what we do in our daily lives. What do we do when things break down? When your automobile goes on the blink, when your boss says: “Roger, you lost the account…”, when one of you kids comes to you with the vestiges of a favorite toy that lies in a thousand pieces looking up at you as the fixer, the woman/man of the hour, the one who has all the answers and will solve the mystery of this dark and fragile world.

Coming back to software I discovered long ago that most problems one faces are marked with traces, with subtle cookie crumb trails that lead back to the kernel of the issue. There’s a logic to failure. And debugging software algorithms becomes a process of elimination rather than of positive feedback. Yet, in the process of discovery we have to rely on specialized tools, apparatuses that can make it easier to trace down the illusive code lost in the maze of algorithms. Debugging tools that we can set up to observe the actual process of an algorithm as it works in collusion with and in relation to a multiplicity of others methods, functions, procedures, etc.

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