Post-Nihilistic Practice: Levi R. Bryant and Arran James

Both Arran James’s ideas on post-nihilistic practice and Levi R. Bryant’s Axioms of a Dark Ontology and …Some further Axioms have some interesting and suggestive ideas. What Levi presents is the Lucretian heritage that we see within modern reductionary naturalism with some modifications and extensions from critiques of this heritage as seen within Levi’s own philosophical project. His work starts with the basic dictum that “There is no meaning to existence or anything in the universe. Life is an accident and has no divine significance (though it’s obviously important to the living).”

Since this is from the first axiom and underpins every other axiom as a sort of figure/ground of the system, then it is here that the system either frees up or fails to meet the criteria of the system as a whole. The stipulation is that there is no meaning in existence nor is there any meaning in anything in the universe. Why not shorten this to the simpler: “There is no meaning.” Period. Why the need to constrain it to “existence” and the “universe”. To do so is to imply that existence or the universe in themselves are already implicated in certain human meanings that we must free ourselves from in order to accept this criteria. Meaning already implies “sense, import, and intent”. Which in itself already implies either a subjective or objective awareness or intelligence to provide such intentionality. So to say that that meaning doesn’t exist automatically refuses consciousness, awareness, or intentionality its qualification as an arbiter for judging the meaning or non-meaning of existence or the universe. Removing human judgment from the equation also eliminates any “sense” of meaning, aesthetic or otherwise, from the equation.

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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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Control Society: The History, Logic, and Methodologies of Control

There is a time in every man’s education when he arrives at the  conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he  must take himself for better, for worse, as his portion; that though  the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can  come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground  which is given to him to till.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self Reliance

To the point that the idea of freedom, a new and recent idea, is already fading from minds and mores, and liberal globalization is coming about in precisely the opposite form – a police state globalization, a total control, a terror based on ‘law-and-order’ measures. Deregulation ends up in a maximum of constraints and restrictions, akin to a fundamentalist society.

– Jean Baudrillard, The Spirit of Terrorism

Everywhere you turn you see the pulpists screaming conspiracy, paranoia, catastrophe as if the earth were the stage of some horrific cinematic apocalypse. Emerson preached a good tune, the great American Myth of the Self Reliant individual who could revolt against history, against the wisdom of the ages and invent himself whole cloth out of the emptiness of his own being, must mix it up with others in the carnival of life open and free. This was Emerson’s version of The Good Life, a personalist version of the pursuit of happiness in 10 easy lessons. Yet, in the pursuit of self-reliance and happiness we seem to have produced its opposite in less than a two hundred years. We are more dependent and unhappy than ever before in history. In our pursuit of the Liberalist Democratic Utopia we have imposed worldwide intolerance, hate, and unhappiness at the forefront. How did this all come about? Where is the history of this dark world to be found? In our pursuit to understand this are we not in ourselves forging the very links to control that feed the beast? Or, are we actually trying to liberate ourselves from its terrible grasp? Caught in the meshes of this fly-trap that seems to permeate the planet is there an escape valve, a way of withdrawing from its dark trap?

A great many individuals fall into the trap of ‘Conspiracy Theory’ narratives, which as Christopher Hitches recently said “are not just false, but are not even wrong” (2004). That is, they do not reach the threshold of acceptability to even be tested, to be falsifiable. If the mind is that sphere that can distinguish between truth and falsity, then conspiracy theories are beyond that sphere. They are para (beyond or beside) the nous (mind). They are paranoid.1 Richard Hofstadter (1967) in his germinal essay “The Paranoid Style in American Politics,” this term transformed a multiplicity of beliefs in conspiracy into a style of thought. Transposing a clinical psychology term onto the field of politics, Hofstadter not only pathologized conspiracy theories, he gave them formal coherence, historical persistence, and intelligibility as a genre of political knowledge.(ibid.) As one scholar puts it:

Conspiracy theory is thus a bridge term-it links subjugating conceptual strategies (paranoid style, political paranoia, conspiracism) to narratives that investigate conspiracies (conspiratology, conspiracy research, conspiracy account). Conspiracy theory is a condensation of all of the above, a metaconcept signifying the struggles over the meaning of the category. We need to recognize where we are on the bridge when we use the term. (CP Kindle Locations 129-131).

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Deleuze: A Short History of the Human

What were the conditions of possibility of the human sciences, or what is humanity’s true date of birth?
– Gilles Deleuze, Humans: A Dubious Existence

To answer this question of the birth of the Human Deleuze gave a precise and eloquent answer, saying, the “Human can exist in the space of knowledge only once the “classical” world of representation itself has collapsed under the pressure of non-representable and non-representative forces” (91).1 We know that for Deleuze the order of representation consisted of the essential elements of a system of identity, difference, doubling, and reflection. Yet, it could be after the collapse of these categories that the Human could emerge as something obscure. Before the Human can exist, biology must first be born, and a political economy and philology…“(91). Quoting Michel Foucault’s The Order of Things he continues, saying, “Once the living organisms have left the space of representation to lodge themselves in the specific depth of life; and wealth, in the progressive development of the forms of production; and words, in the becoming of language;” then natural history gives way to biology, the theory of money to political economy, and general grammar to philology.(91)

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Alenka Zupancic: Quote of the Day!

Kazmir Malevich – Black Square

One analogy that seems particularly striking could be drawn between Nietzsche and Kazimir Malevich. Indeed, I am tempted to suggest that, at least to a certain extent, Nietzsche is to philosophy what Malevich is to art. “So far, artists have only been portraying, or representing, the world and its objects in different ways, but the time has come for us to create something in this world” – this is how one could express Malevich’s motto. He declares his Black Square to be the first new form that was ever created, the first artistic creation in the strong meaning of the word: it is nothing less than the “birth of the painting-surface.” A painting-surface or a “plane” is not an object that could be found anywhere in the world (and then reproduced or represented in a painting); it exists only as a painting. This is not to say that the painting represents some imaginary fantasy-object that exists nowhere in reality, only in the fictive domain of the painting. On the contrary, Black Square introduces a new object in reality, this new object being precisely the painting-surface as object. A painting such as Black Square is the very materiality of the painting-surface. Therefore, “any painting-surface is more alive than any face from which a pair of eyes and a grin jut out,”‘ and Suprematism is “the beginning of a new culture.” In relation to Malevich, one should stress that his project was far from being simply abstractionist; it was not about purifying the world of images or representations up to the point where nothing is left but its pure form. Rather, his project was to create a form that could count as the first “content” or object created by painting from within its own practice-the “painting-surface” or “plane” being, according to Malevich, precisely this: namely, a painterly object par excellence.

 from Alenka Zupancic’s:
The Shortest Shadow:
Nietzsche’s Philosophy of the Two

*********

Notes:

Is this the thing itself immanently registering its movement on the plane of the painterly surface as it rises from the gap as an Object replete with all its objecthood intact as the subjectal manifestation of the ‘plane of immanence’? Or is this nothing less than the geometry of the Void? Maybe this is the gap itself that gives rise to suture, the ontological crack that cuts through reality itself: because we cannot take in the whole of reality we are blinded by its immensity, situated within its dark concavity where we continuously fill it with a sea of fantasy… but even as our gaze penetrates the black darkness of this object we discover that we are falling into our own abyss of subjectivity rather than the Real, caught between sex and death we become destitute of the illusions that have sustained us and suddenly astonished we grasp for the first and last time the jouissance of life.

Peter Sloterdijk: Anthropotechnics and Homo immunologicus

A theologian would have had no difficulty preserving the mystery… for he can employ contradictions. But since science does not have such a recourse, it is not an exaggeration for me to say that the difficulties of a fantasy writer who sides with science are generally greater than those of a theologian who acknowledges the perfection of God….

– Stanislaw Lem, Microworlds

Robin Mackay in his introduction to Collapse III says that “Deleuze himself told us simply to use concepts ‘like a toolbox’?”1 Such a riposte typifies the most deleterious aspect of the ‘success’ currently enjoyed by Deleuze; for any precision tool must be mastered before it is ‘put to work’, and for this one must understand, in turn, its own workings and its interaction with the rest of the conceptual ‘equipment’ in hand (ibid). Yet, even more than mastering the tool itself, one must understand the use of tools, and even more one must enter into apprenticeship with a Master of the Craft in which these tools are used if one is ever to truly put these tools to work in an effective manner.

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Alain Badiou: The Ethics of Truth

It is a difficult task, for the philosopher, to pull names away from a usage that prostitutes them. Already Plato had to take all possible pains to hold his ground with the word justice, against the sophist’s quibbling and devious usage.

– Alain Badiou, Ethics

Against its misappropriation of an ethics deemed a smug nihilism, a conservative order that has proclaimed its own universal ethical dementia through economic enforcement and unbridled conquest of financial resources, Badiou martials the plaintiff case of a an impossible possible: an ethics of truths by which “every loving encounter, every scientific re-foundation, every artistic invention and every sequence of emancipatory politics” tears itself away from such nihilistic smugness.(39)1

Badiou tells us that only a particular kind of animal, the human animal, has – so far as we know, entered into that composition that composes a subject that enables the “passing of a truth along its path”(40). “This is when the human animal is convoked to be the immortal that he was not” (40). But what does Badiou mean by immortal? Badiou explicates:

An immortal: this is what the worst situations that can be inflicted upon Man show him to be, in so far as he distinguishes himself within the varied and rapacious flux of life. … So if the ‘rights of man’ exist, they are surely not rights of life against death, or rights of survival against misery. They are the rights of the Immortal, affirmed in their own right, or the rights of the Infinite, exercised over the contingency of suffering and death. The fact that in the end we all die, that only dust remains, in no way alters Man’s identity as immortal at the instant in which he affirms himself as someone who runs counter to the temptation of wanting-to-be-an-animal to which circumstances may expose him. (12)

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Alain Badiou: Toward a Supreme Fiction

The problem of young people in poor neighbourhoods or cités is the problem of the absence of a fiction. It has nothing to do with a social problem. The problem is the lack of a great fiction as support for a great belief.

– Alain Badiou, Philosophy for Militants

Begin, ephebe, by perceiving the idea
Of this invention, this invented world,
The inconceivable idea of the sun.

– Wallace Stevens, Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction

Alain Badiou encourages us, welcomes us to join him in seeking the, as Stevens once said, “the final belief” a supreme fiction that can sustain us through these troubling times. And not only sustain us but give us hope and truth, for truth is itself – as we have known since Lacan, truth itself is in a structure of fiction. The process of truth is also the process of a new fiction.(77)1

The difficulty lies in the fact that we must find a great fiction without possessing a proper name for it.(78) Or as Stevens so eloquently put it in poetry:

Without a name and nothing to be desired
If only imagined but imagined well….

Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction

Badiou would move us to be unafraid even as atheists to resume the long dialogue between mathematics and religion:

On this point modern mathematics rejoins classical theology. You probably know the famous text of Saint Paul in Romans 7. The direct correlation between law and desire appears here under the name of sin: ‘If it had not been for the law, I should not have known sin. I should not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said you shall not covet.’ Sin is that dimension of desire that finds its object beyond and after the prescription by the law. Finally, this means finding the object that is without name.(70)

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Alain Badiou: The Soldier as Metaphor

Today, this configuration is in a state of total crisis. One of the symptoms of this crisis is the return of the old traditions and the seeming resurrection of old dead gods.

– Alain Badiou, Philosophy for Militants

Is this it? Is this our problem: a return of the old sacrificial gods that bespeak a disjunction between the human and the inhuman?  And not an integration of the inhuman into a new sequence of the historical existence of humanity. “Within our own humanity, we must come to terms with the obscure, violent, and – at the same time – luminous and peaceful element of inhumanity within the human element itself” (41).1 Are the rights of humans also as Badiou suggests the ‘rights of the infinite’ (Lyotard)? He reminds us that humans are irreducible to ‘animality’, that the inhuman is a creative potential, the element which does not yet exist but must become. “Humanity as a natural totality does not exist, since humanity is identical to the local victories that it obtains over its immanent element of inhumanity.”(42)

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Alain Badiou: The Politics of Hope

I am perfectly in agreement with the statement that philosophy depends on certain nonphilosophical domains, which I have proposed to call the ‘conditions’ of philosophy.

 –  Alain Badiou,  Philosophy for Militants

The nonphilosophical domains upon which philosophy depends for Badiou are science, art, politics and love. In science his work depends on a new “concept of the infinite”; in politics on new forms of “revolutionary politics”; in art, the poetry of Mallarmé, Rimbaud, Pessoa, Mandelstam or Wallace Stevens, on the prose of Samuel Beckett; and, finally, on love the context of psychoanalysis and the questions of sexuation and gender that have emerged in our time. (3) 1 And, he offers, we must accept that philosophy always comes in the aftermath of such nonphilosophical domains, is a second rate affair at best.(3)

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Alain Badiou: The Apprenticeship to Signs

It will forever be the case that we must endure our thoughts for as long as the night lasts. … Among such nocturnal thoughts, none is probably more worrying for us today than those that are tied to the political condition.

– Alain Badiou, Philosophy for Miltants

Confronting the inevitable apathy at the heart of leftist political struggle around the world Zizek asks:

What are we to do in such depressive times when dreams seem to fade away? Is the only choice we have between the nostalgic-narcissistic remembrance of sublime moments of enthusiasm and the cynical-realist explanation of why these attempts to change the situation inevitably had to fail? 1

Zizek suggests that these small explosions of emancipatory politics that have thrust themselves to the surface of our world are actually subliminal fragments from the utopic future. Our dystopian times should be exposed to a divinatory hermeneutics that allows these strange signs to be read as the distorted (sometimes even perverted) fragments of a utopian future that lies dormant in the present as its hidden potential. But what is this hidden potential? How can we release it into the world, bring about such emancipatory energy to transform our world? What kind of world would that entail? Does philosophy have an answer?

Badiou tells us that the future of philosophy “lies in its past”.2 He sees two tendencies within philosophy: the power of the Academy and the power of the Militant. The academic philosopher is the great transmitter of knowledge and tradition; while the militant is the confrontational antagonist of all knowledge and academic pretensions who offers the challenge of both individual and social change. As Badiou emphasizes the Militant philosophy corrupts; that is to say:

To corrupt here means to teach the possibility of refusing all blind submission to established opinions. To corrupt means to give the youth certain means to change their opinion with regard to social norms, to substitute debate and rational critique for imitation and approval, and even, if the question is a matter of principle, to substitute revolt for obedience. (10)

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Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky: The Concept as Hero

“Yes, remember this, my friend: if there is one more book on the library shelf, that is because there is one less person in life. If I must choose between the shelf and the world, then I prefer the world.”

– Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky

There are some writers who come to one in late life like the memories of old comrades, deceptive yet resilient, leading one into the great outdoors rather than deeper into the labyrinths of the mind. These writers might be termed literary matterphiles. A type of being who confronts Kant and Shakespeare, yet escapes the metaphysical delusions of the one, while embracing the bittersweet valences of the other.

Sigizmund Dominikovich Krzhizhanovsky is such a poet of our despair, yet more than a poet, he is the understated literary master of works no one in the West ever heard of till now. Born into a Polish-speaking Catholic family near Kiev in 1887. He died in his adopted city of Moscow in 1950, largely unpublished and unperformed. Over a period of twenty-five years, while working in editorial offices and freelancing at various jobs (lecturer in the Acting Studio of the Moscow Chamber Theater, proofreader for the Great Soviet Encyclopedia, research assistant for radio broadcasts, translator and stage adaptor), he wrote a dozen plays, provocative essays on Shakespeare and on the philosophy of theater, and some hundred and fifty experimental prose works ranging in length from novellas to one-paragraph miniatures, usually organized in cycles. Krzhizhanovsky’s hero.

Of late I’ve been reading his work The Letter Killers Club, whose hero everywhere is the idea or concept (mysl’, zamysel) trapped in the brain. His recurring plot: how to release an inner thought into the great outdoors of existence at the right time with enough nourishment so it will survive, make contact, explore —without being freighted down or fused with anything else. This idea needs space to test itself and must remain separate from what surrounds it. Traps and obstacles to this process exist both inside the brain and beyond it, but they are more metaphysical than political.

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François Laruelle: Radical Immanence and the Non-Philosopher

“In any case, non-philosophy did not invent ‘the real, or the One, or man (every philosopher can take some credit for the latter), or even the idea of a ‘radical immanence (there is Michel Henry and perhaps others as well –Maine de Biran? Marx? [Deleuze]). On the other hand, non-philosophy exists because it invented the true characteristics of the latter, because it took the requirements of radicality seriously and distinguished between the radical and the absolute.”

“Ultimately, I see non-philosophers in several different ways. I see them, inevitably, as subjects of the university, as is required by worldly life, but above all as related to three fundamental human types. They are related to the analyst and the political militant, obviously, since non-philosophy is close to psychoanalysis and Marxism –it transforms the subject by transforming instances of philosophy. But they are also related to what I would call the ‘spiritual type –which it is imperative not to confuse with ‘spiritualist. The spiritual are not spiritualists. They are the great destroyers of the forces of philosophy and the state, which band together in the name of order and conformity. The spiritual haunt the margins of philosophy, gnosticism, mysticism, and even of institutional religion and politics. The spiritual are not just abstract, quietist mystics; they are for the world. This is why a quiet discipline is not sufficient, because man is implicated in the world as the presupposed that determines it. Thus, non-philosophy is also related to gnosticism and science-fiction; it answers their fundamental question –which is not at all philosophy’s primary concern–: “Should humanity be saved? And how?” And it is also close to spiritual revolutionaries such as Müntzer and certain mystics who skirted heresy. When all is said and done, is non-philosophy anything other than the chance for an effective utopia? Let me begin in traditional terms: what is the essence, what are the possibilities of non-philosophy? From the outset, it originated from four concerns that were coupled two by two; and hence from dualities.”

– François Laruelle, from A New Presentation of Non-Philosophy

Nick Land: The Master of the Infernal Wisdom

True poetry is hideous, because it is base communication… Poetry does not strut logically amongst convictions, it seeps through the crevices; a magmic flux resuscitated amongst vermin.

– Nick Land

There has always been a little of the stench of hell in Land’s infernal writings, a sort of theatre of blood wherein God is slaughtered over and over again for his crimes against creation – of which the greatest truth is that creation itself is the greatest crime: the ultimate catastrophe; neither designed nor fabricated, but born out of the marriage of two voids, the void that is more than something but less than nothing, arising from the dependent void that is the crack we call the universe. The Ruins of Time: the truth of god’s creation… “No profound exploration can be launched from the ruins of monotheism unless it draws its resources from damnation” (216).1 One would rather say: One is creative to the extent that she gathers her truths from the bloody lips of the damned. One must have an inferno within, be singed by the sulfurous flames of the pit, know the blindness of those dark precursors below the surface where the black hells lick the belly of the beast that is Time to speak of paradise. We all seek our infernal paradises like fallen angels of a lost thought, gathering within our minds the trajectories of insane wisdom, marshaling the secret vectors of a frozen insight into futurity. Land has been there before us, wandered the dank cavities of this bleak realm, gathered the flowers of death with glee, and brought back out of that shamanic realm truths that bleed.

The death of God is a religious event – a transgression, experiment in damnation, and stroke of antitheistic warfare – but this is not to say it is pre-eminently a crime. Hell has no interest in our debauched moral currency. To confuse reactive dabblings in sin with expeditions in damnation is Christian superficiality; the Dantean error of imagining that one could earn oneself an excursion in Hell, as if the infernal too was matter of justice. (216)

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Short note on Laruelle’s Anti-Badiou

Up until Badiou, philosophy was educative and pedagogical; with him, it is re-educated by mathematics.

– Francois Laruelle,  Anti-Badiou

Just began reading Laruelle’s new book on Badiou tonight. Already he sets up an oppositional thematics with Badiou’s philosophical project seen as a re-education of philosophy that incorporates a conservative and authoritarian stance:  “mathematicism is the condition of communism, with the authoritarian Platonist model finding a new lease of life in Maoism.” 1 As Laurelle states it, “Is this not a new, Maoist, avatar of universal Aufhebung, a manner of conserving philosophy through its re-education by means of dismemberment, redistribution and subtraction?”

Against such authoritarian re-education Non-philosophy, according to Laruelle, “seeks a way of depotentializing philosophy and making another use of it, but via other, more positive and less authoritarian procedures— formerly on the “non-Euclidean” model, and at present through a scientific (physical) experimentation and performation of philosophy— not at all through a scholarly and “cultural” breaking-in.”

He likens Badiou’s approach as a great Maoist bootcamp for re-education, one in which the new cadre of philosophers will under the rule of mathematics, logic, and a stringent pedagogical discipline enforce a specific, correct ‘image of thought’. Laurelle tells us that Badiou contents himself once more with a “revolutionary philosophy,” a “cultural” revolution “within the limits of philosophy, rather than a scientific and non-philosophical revolution in philosophy”. There will be purges as well, a new purification of philosophy, Laruelle tells us. In fact “the entire system, in its “metaphysical” depths, in its ultimate axioms, can be read as a manifesto of terror or of “cultural revolution” in philosophy.”

Ultimately with or without mathematics, in Badiou it is not a question simply of a “philosophy of force but of a political practice of philosophy (Lenin) conjugated with the mathematical void, a practice of the force of the void in all domains of thought, in the name of philosophy”. Laruelle asks the question: “How can we oppose Badiou without entering into a mere “relation of forces,” setting against him a force of the same nature as his own?”

Laruelle invites us to join in this struggle or agon against the authoritarian proclivities of such a project asking us if “to protect philosophy against itself, must we purify it through the entirely specular mediation of mathematics, making of it a superior politico-cultural doxa that exalts mathematics as force of the void (like a kind of philosophical brainwashing)? Or should we rather aim for a scientific-type knowledge of philosophy, a knowledge that would no doubt be contingent, but which, this time, would truly escape such doxa?” In the end he describes what must be done:

“The introduction of Maoism into philosophy cannot be a conjunctural accident, even if it is also a matter of a certain conjuncture; this would be to underestimate Badiou as a philosopher. No, it is an essential possibility of philosophy, one that philosophy makes available alongside others; a possibility first actualized by Plato, but one that is profoundly inscribed in the very axioms of philosophical decision, albeit more or less inert or apparently inactive at any given time. We require further details as to the new version of non-philosophy, and as to the analytic means that will allow us to detect in Badiou the indestructible residue of philosophy, and its conservation-reeducation by Cantor and Mao under the sign of Plato.” (ibid)

Looks like this will enact one of Laruelle’s gnosis-fictions: a dualysis masquerade between himself and Badiou, a knowing by way of a dislodgement, an escape from the prison house of Platonism under the sign of Badiou-Mao. But this is no ordinary gnosis, this is the inversion of Gnosticism without god, and venture into the democracy of thought, that is at once an attack upon the academic aristocracy, and a realignment with the scientific movement of thinking and knowing at the conjuncture of the real. And, yet, as we will learn it is not to gnosis that this strange non-philosophy turns, but to philo-fiction where it “becomes possible to transform philosophy, Parmenides’ formula, into a mere symptom of the Real, and then into the material of philo-fiction, and moreover into a model of philo-fiction”. This new form of philosophy must “act upon philosophy, rather than to contemplate it one more time— this is our imperative, and quantum theory is of the order of the means of man as Last Instance; it is not the mirror in which philosophy admires itself again and always.”

The new philosopher “tells a philosophical tale about a positive science”— he repeats the mythological style, whereas the Greek physiologists (rather than Plato) inaugurated a scientific vision of the object “philosophy.” This is a tale that renders philosophy of sciences themselves inventive. He continues, saying,

The Real of immanence, by virtue of the particle that it configures, is the non-dialectical solution to contradiction and to antinomies. It impossibilizes logic and theory without destroying them, instead simplifying them into their materiality, reducing them to the state of fiction— but a logic-fiction or philo-fiction. It gives to deployed theory, to all of fictional materiality, its force of “formalism,” for which reality, the empirical, and ideality are all of fictional materiality, but without constitutive effect upon it. (Kindle Locations 3247-3251).

He envisions a fusion of quatum theory and philosopy, a science ficitionalization of non-philosophy in which the new philosopher must treat metaphor generically, and not leave it either to internal relations or external relations; the correlation, or rather “unilation, of unilateral complementarity is neither substantial nor atomic”. Out of this new creed is born a new ethics, it “will be a matter of passing from absolute poverty (the philosophical loss of philosophy) to radical poverty as non-philosophical loss of philosophy”.

 

1. Laruelle, Francois (2013-01-03). Anti-Badiou: The Introduction of Maoism into Philosophy (Kindle Locations 87-88). Bloomsbury Academic. (all quotes from the preface)

Gilles Deleuze: The Expressive Aesthetic

In Proust and Signs, Deleuze writes,

Certain Neoplatonists used a profound word to designate the original state that proceeds any development, any “explication”: complication, which envelops the many in the One and affirms the unity of the multiple. Eternity did not seem to them the absence of change, nor even the extension of a limitless existence, but the complicated state of time itself (uno ictu mutationes was compiectitur). The Word, omnia compiicans, and containing all essences, was defined as the supreme complication, the complication of contraries, the unstable opposition. From this they derived the notion of an essentially expressive universe, organized according to degrees of immanent complications and following an order of descending explications. (ps, 45) 1

Deleuze affirms the univocity of being, but he does so not at the level of substance, but at the level of expression itself. For Deleuze, univocity is not a given, but a generated and generative power, productive only as a “power of thinking which is in itself equal to the power of producing or acting” (E, 181).2 He goes on to say that “expression characterizes both being and knowing. But only univocal being, only univocal consciousness, are expressive. Substance and modes, cause and effects, only have being and are only known through common forms that actually constitute the essence of the one, and actually contain the essence of the others. (E, 181)

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Anthony Paul Smith: On Laruelle and Non-Theology

“The invention of an afterlife would not matter so much were it not purchased at so high a price: disregard of the real, hence willful neglect of the only world there is. While religion is often at variance with immanence, with man’s inherent nature, atheism is in harmony with the earth — life’s other name.”

– Michel Onfray, Atheist Manifesto

Even if I am diametrically opposed to the theological and non-theological trend within nonphilosophy, I thought it worth exploring, and allowing for a review of Anthony Paul Smith’s essay from After the Postsecular and the Postmodern: New Essays in  Continental Philosophy of Religion. That I am an atheist goes without statement, but I have never allowed it to color my judgments toward other forms of philosophical speculation. To close one’s thinking off  from every aspect of philosophical speculation contrary to one’s belief system is to tyrannize thought itself. One must be open even to the oppositional trends in philosophical speculation. Most of all one’s integrity requires an honest appraisal of that thought, not its distortion.

Philosophers of late seem to be moving into nonphilosophical territory seeking out both orthodox and heretical philosophies, opening dialogues between opposing worlds to experiential practices rather than the abstract worlds of thought. It looks like Laruelle is presenting a modified form of some of those ancient practices within a secularized form that is offers religious and materialist scholars a new path forward. In a few posts now I’ve seen Laruelle as a key figure within many of those who are within or on the fringe of what was once termed Speculative realism. Whether this term and its key figures is worthy of its appellation is not my concern. What is of concern is this return to the hermetic and the neo-platonic One with its attendant resurgence of all those heretical counter-currents within the history of Christianity.

Much of this same turn to religion can as well be used by neo-materialists projects as part of a speculation on dissidence, political struggle, and the shaping of those lost ideas and practices that emerged in the utopian communal worlds of those very heretical historical groups, and of their very material experiential practices (theory in action) that have been at odds with all orthodoxies everywhere. For this reason I do think Laruelle’s thought is of value and might be turned to other more materialist confrontation with the Real-that-has-been-excluded from our very material world. Now for Anthony Paul Smith’s essay What can be done with Religion?

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Quote of the Day: Emile Cioran

Fate’s Mask

However far our thought ventures, however detached it is from our interests, it still hesitates to call certain things by their names. Where our supreme terrors are concerned, the mind evades them, spares and flatters us. Thus, after so many ordeals, when “fate” reveals itself to us, our mind bids us see it as a limit, a reality beyond which any quest would be pointless. But is it really that limit, that reality, as our mind pretends? We doubt it, so suspect does our mind seem to us when it seeks to bind us here and impose a destiny upon us. We realize that there cannot be an end, and that through it is manifested another force, this one supreme. Whatever artifices and efforts our mind produces to dissimulate it, we end nonetheless by identifying it, by naming it even. Then what seemed to accumulate all the claims of reality is no longer anything but a face? A face? Not even that, but a disguise, a simple appearance used by this force to destroy us without colliding with us.

“Fate” was only a mask, as everything is a mask that is not death.

– E. M. Cioran, The Temptation To Exist

Laruelle: Prophet or Charlatan? – Or, Philosophy as Neo-Baroque

“The baroque style always arises at the time of decay of a great art, when the demands of art in classical expression have become too great. It is a natural phenomenon which will be observed with melancholy—for it is a forerunner of the night—but at the same time with admiration for its peculiar compensatory arts of expression and narration.”

– Fredrich Nietzsche

In the last paragraph of D&G’s What is Philosophy? we discover something strange, something that in the previous two hundred or so pages has never entered thought, the term nonphilosophy:

“The plane of philosophy is prephilosophical insofar as we consider it in itself independently of the concepts that come to occupy it, but nonphilosophy is found where the plane confronts chaos” (218).1

Just after this statement we find Deleuze quoting Laruelle:

“Philosophy needs nonphilosophy that comprehends it; it needs a nonphilosophical comprehension just as art needs nonart and science needs nonscience” (218).

Why this sudden intrusion of non-philosophy just here at the moment of finalization of a movement whose trajectory has taken us through the events of philosophy itself. At the beginning we heard those primal keys ring out:

“The greatness of philosophy is measured by the nature of the events to which its concepts summon us or that it enables us to release in concepts.  So the unique, exclusive bond between concepts and philosophy as a creative discipline must be tested in its finest details. The concept belongs to philosophy and only to philosophy” (34).

So what is it that intrigues Deleuze about nonphilosophy? Surprisingly it comes here at the end again when we see D&G qualifying this nonphilosophical subterranean submersion remark “… it seems that there is extracted from chaos the shadow of the “people to come” in the form that art, but also philosophy and science, summon forth; mass-people, world-people, brain-people, chaos-people – nonthinking thought that lodges in the three, like Klee’s nonconceptual concept or Kandinsky’s internal silence” (218).

So we listen to this strange and prophetic tone about nonphilosophy, its facing toward chaos, its submersion in this nonceptual sea where a praxis is performed, one that is proleptic and as Laruelle will tell us in a later work it is part of a “lost paradigm” coming to us from the future. That what is extracted from the chaos of the future is “another image of man; a being that does not live, which stopped living on earth or in the heavens, the nomad of the future” (4).2

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Ray Brassier on Laruelle: Objects Thinking; or The Transcendental Cut

“Metaphysics conceived of the autonomy of the object in terms of the model of substance. But successive critiques of the hypostatization of substance from Kant to Heidegger have undermined the plausibility of metaphysical (substance based) realism, thereby securing the triumph of correlationism. Laruelle’s work challenges this correlationist consensus by proposing a version of transcendental realism wherein the object is no longer conceived of as a substance but rather as a discontinuous cut in the fabric of ontological synthesis. It is no longer thought that determines the object, whether through representation or intuition, but rather the object, that seizes thought and forces it to think it, or better, according to it. As we have seen, this objective determination takes the form of a unilateral duality whereby the object thinks through the subject.”

– Ray Brassier, Nihil Unbound: Enlightenment And Extinction

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Also for those interested in François Laruelle’s project of non-philosophy Anthony Paul Smith will be talking in Dublin Wednesday 9 January 2013:

Faux amis?: François Laruelle and the Speculative Turn

Interest in François Laruelle’s project of non-philosophy continues to grow, in part because the seeming closeness of his project to that of speculative realism. In this talk Anthony Paul Smith aims to introduce the basic contours of Laruelle’s works in relation to those of speculative realism. While Laruelle has championed a form of thought that is in many ways more virulently non-correlationist than even Meillassoux, he attends to political and ethical questions in a way that appears to weave seamlessly this non-correlationism with a revised, non-standard humanism very different than the anti-humanism present amongst the speculative realists. Exploring this may show how Laruelle’s version of philosophy of science is amenable not with a cold world, but with a vision that simply isn’t worldly.

For more information about D.U.S.T please visit http://dublindust.wordpress.com/

Lecture by François Laruelle

Lecture by François Laruelle
The Degrowth of Philosophy: Towards a Generic Ecology
Tuesday, November 20th, 7:30PM

Miguel Abreu Gallery, 36 Orchard Street, New York, NY

François Laruelle is one of the most creative and subversive French philosophers working today. He is the founder of ‘non-philosophy’ – or what he now calls ‘non-standard philosophy’ – and is the author of more than twenty books, including A Biography of the Ordinary Man, Theory of Strangers, Principles of Non-Philosophy, Introduction to Non-Marxism,Future Christ, The Concept of Non-Photography, Struggle and Utopia at the End Times of Philosophy, Anti-Badiou and Non-Standard Philosophy.

One of Laruelle’s fundamental claims is that all forms of philosophy (from ancient philosophy to analytic philosophy to deconstruction and so on) are structured around a prior decision, but that all forms of philosophy remain constitutively blind to this decision. The ‘decision’ that Laruelle is concerned with here is the dialectical splitting of the world in order to grasp the world philosophically. Laruelle believes that the decisional structure of philosophy can only be grasped non-philosophically. In this sense, non-standard philosophy is a science of philosophy.

Seating for this event is limited, and available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Doors open at 7PM.
For more information please contact Sequence Press, located within:
Miguel Abreu Gallery 36 Orchard Street (between Canal & Hester), New York, NY 10002
Tel 212.995.1774 • post@sequencepress.com