becoming, Deleuze, difference, ontology

Metamorphosis

Metamorphosis. There is a kind of explanatory knot or gap in every narrative model of world history; a thread of teleology which tightens around the throats of every minor voice, every parasite and schism. One of the gravest dangers of the line of the flight is the line itself. The notion of a trauma which fractures history itself is built into the problematic vision of a historical totality. It seems to me that it is a rehabilitation of the concept of the event as substance of history and radical irruption at once which is required, rather than the restoration of the concept of ‘story’ as total historical narratological unity leading to some eschatological utopia — whether Judgment Day or finally-actualized communism, this is the force of ideology at its purest (Nick Land’s recent article in Urban Futures conveys some of the unsettling depths of this problem).

Metamorphosis participates in a series of evental diagrams which collectively assemble situations, gradually ‘applying’ these diagrams in order to accelerate or decelerate certain movements, intensities, affects, passions. The point is not about imitative action but becoming-molecular. The psychoanalytic investigation of the unconscious is effectively deadlocked around this central difficulty — only beginning to be displaced by the gradual transformation of linguistics into a praxis or pragmatics, a diagrammatology. The movement of the signifier is bound within vorticial frameworks that traverse the unconscious like a network; a kind of wormhole dynamics where lines of flight are intimately related to lines of death.

The intermixing of abstract forces and concrete forms, expressions and contents, enables a practice like schizoanalysis to be possible — by subtracting a dimension, the political dimension of a milieu becomes visible, “auto-diagrammed” as a collective assemblage of enunciation. The ‘automatic’ character of the schizoanalytic process should not be dismissed; it is indeed a kind of auto-experimentation, the cautious and deliberate extrusion of abstract machines from within their concretized expressions, gently removing the shackles from desire. Inspiring metamorphosis involves meta-modeling — diagramming tendencies, processes and functions heuristically in order to maximize them. The whole problem is within metempsychosis, in a way — the possibility of ‘de-individualizing’ and ‘re-individualizing’ into another existence, which points towards a pre-individual intensive continuum.

The political dimensions of phenomena like metempsychosis point to the joy and freedom implicit in myths of metamorphosis. Is there a secret or hidden aspect to the animals, to the earth, to moments and becomings? This secret or this withdrawal is related to the possibility of an alternative orientation, which is perhaps to say to philosophy’s radical project of the creation of a ‘free’ subjectivity, one not subservient to the aims of State or the Church — who with critical joy and deliberate freedom aggressively seeks the demystification of world-historical narratives, whose daybreak is the twilight of all false idols, all master codes.

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Three Hundred

We would like to take a moment to celebrate a milestone: Fractal Ontology is now over four years old and boasts more than 300 posts.

We’ve upgraded our theme to celebrate. We are hoping that it might also serve to make navigating through our archives a bit more accessible and pleasant. We would like to invite you to explore!

We would also like to take this oppourtunity to express our heartfelt gratitude for those who have supported us here with kind words and encouragement — or have gone even further, and extended to us a chance to engage in discussion and debate. Thank you. (You’re awesome!)

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Simmel and Simondon: From the Ventures of Life to the Advent of Adventure

I have added a strange note to the end of this post that…trails off at the end. When you see it, if you do, good reader, (ha, old conventions are funny), it will make sense that it does not make sense (to which, they replied, you mean the paper or the note?) What a wonderful audience. Anyway, this paper needs to be cleaned up immensely (as I specify later), so please be patient and suspend all belief/disbelief….In any case, I think that ascetically revised and focused, this work dovetails into questions that Laruelle has elaborated concerning the foundations of the human sciences or what he calls sciences of men. On the one hand, the bricolage translation I threw together on Speculative Heresy of Laruelle on Simondon and technics is a good starting point to connect non-philosophy with Simondon; on the other hand, it would be interesting to engage Simmel in the work of non-philosophy (perhaps as material? ha!). All sketchy thoughts, which can be followed if the route is trekked and mapped…

(Reading) Simmel sans Simondon: Part I

            In his chapter “How Is Society Possible,” Georg Simmel inquires into the unity of society on the basis of an analogy derived from Kant concerning the question of the conditions of possibility of nature. While for Kant nature is synthesized by the mind’s activity so as to structure it, Simmel argues that society is unified without the need for an observer, even if there can be an additional synthesis by an outside observer in terms of a spatial metaphor (6-7). In any case, there is arguably no need for an observer because the elements of a society are individuals investing their psychic energies in such a way as to already be absorbed in the relations that unify it (7). Nevertheless, the answer Simmel derives via the analogy with Kant’s question does not necessarily satisfy him from the start, for he declares that the entire contents of his monumental Soziologie will be devoted to it: “it inquires into the processes—those which, ultimately, takes place in the individuals themselves—that condition the existence of individuals as society…not as antecedent causes of this result, but as part of the synthesis to which we give the inclusive name of ‘society’” (8). In other words, Simmel’s question does not allow for a simplistic solution in terms of abstract conditions of possibility, since it continues to question in what sense the “concrete processes in the individual consciousness” correspond with “processes of sociation”, and how these processes inform how there can be a “production of a societal unit out of individuals” (8). On the basis of these reflections, Simmel will argue that sociation or association (Vergesellschaftung) should therefore be conceived as “functions or energies of psychological processes” insofar as it involves the interaction of concrete individuals; nevertheless, in abstract terms that may not necessarily be realizable, it can also be conceived as “ideational, logical presuppositions for the perfect society” (9). In this sense, individuals are the society they deserve, insofar as they are at the basis of their actual interactions and their idealizations of the perfect society which is from the start fueled by their psychic energies.

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‘Aversi sumus, perversi sumus’ : Augustine and the Eclipse of God

The following is an essay that I composed for a class last semester on the cultivation of the self. It is a work in progress, and I have added idiosyncratic notes to the work in brackets–don’t mind them if they don’t make sense…In any case, the main inspiration behind this work is my ongoing engagement with F. Laruelle and the term vision-in-One–which I believe in some way can be traced back to Plotinus in some fashion, but perhaps further back. My lack of expertise as a classicist will betray itself very quickly as soon as the reader sees the way in which I attempt to engage the Latin; please don’t be put off to much if I seem to fetishize the Latin vers/vert/volt/volu, etc. and notions of light, darkness, and seeing.  Now that I’ve discouraged every reader possible…..enjoy!

In the fifth of his Enneads, Plotinus elaborates a paradigm of seeing that will return consistently in the metaphorical language of conceptualizing understanding and the will in terms of a specific kind of vision, namely that of an inner, intellectual vision that provides access to a domain beyond that of corporeal phenomena.  Perhaps it would be better to call Plotinus’ model an incorporeal theory of vision:

But since the Intellectual-Principle is not to see this light as something external we return to our analogy; the eye is not wholly dependent upon an outside and alien light; there is an earlier light within itself, a more brilliant, which it sometimes sees in a momentary flash…This is sight without the act, but it is the truest seeing, for it sees light whereas its other objects were the lit not the light (Enneads V: 7).

The mind is here conceived as being photoreceptive without the need for a physical, ocular organ. The question of a “sight without the act” and an “earlier light” will come to dominate the language of St. Augustine and, for different yet strikingly similar reasons, also that of Renatus Descartes. In what follows we intend to show how the notion of an inner vision will come to dominate the thinking of Augustine and Descartes to such an extent that their projects would seem less tenable without its utilization. In other words, how does the notion of inner vision come to structure Augustine’s narrative of finding the path to conversion, and what sort of insights can this provide us concerning Descartes’ separation of the senses from the mind (i.e. does the res cogitans have eyes?).

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animal, desire, ecology, individuation, mythology, psychology, Simondon

Simondon in English: “Two Lessons on Animal and Man”

It is my great delight to help announce the publication of one of the first book-length English translations available of the writings of French philosopher of technology Gilbert Simondon (1924-1989), published by Univocal. The volume is available under the title Two Lessons on Animal and Man and was translated by Drew Burk. The work is composed of a series of lectures intended for undergraduates interested in the humanities, especially philosophy, sociology and psychology.

As the translator puts it, “[f]or many, Gilbert Simondon is an unheard of landscape of philosophical inquiry. For other thinkers such as Gilles Deleuze and Bernard Stiegler his work on individuation is essential for the task of moving outside anthropocentric conceptions of identity formation and humanity’s relationship to the technical universe.” (Two Lessons on Animal and Man, Translator’s Note) I might merely add that in this text Simondon offers insights that are of vital urgency and interest, especially to those called by this aptly-designated “task.”

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