courage, death, Deleuze, dialogue, filiality, identity, levinas, metaphysics, ontology, peace, Politics, state, technology, violence, war machine

Difference, Primacy and Peace: Deleuze and Levinas


It is perhaps time to see in hypocrisy not only a base contingent defect of man, but the underlying rending of a world attached to both the philosophers and the prophets.

Levinas, Totality and Infinity 24

I have no wish to soften the saying that to write lyric poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric; it expresses in negative form the impulse which inspires committed literature. The question asked by a character in Sartre’s play Morts Sans Sepulture, “Is there any meaning in life when men exist who beat people until the bones break in their body?’ is also the question whether art now has a right to exist; whether intellectual regression is not inherent in the concept of committed literature because of the regression of society.

Adorno, “Commitment”

Doubtless, the present situation is highly discouraging.

Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus 422

Our age has borne witness to the most rapid expansion of military and state power in human history. Weapons have grown highly sophisticated in a complex lockstep with global economic and political transformations. The meaning of this enormous growth in power, and the implications for our increasing technological sophistication, is anything but clear and unambiguous. The political mythology surrounding war and peace has also grown in sophistication. Nonetheless, the tool inevitably varies with the specific relationship — that is, the conditions under which it becomes possible, and the situations which it makes possible. This internal capacity for variation and variance is closer to the essence of war than the complex matrix of state and global power relations.

Any tool can become a war machine — at least potentially, and if its object becomes war. Yet war is still not the essence of the war machine, but rather the set of conditions under which the machine becomes appropriated by state power — or even the global order in which states now become only parts. In Deleuze and Guatarri’s account, a war machine is always external to the powers of the state, even though the state may have means for capturing and transforming its power into violence for its own ends. Nonetheless, war machines bring novel connections to bear upon centers of command, static assemblages of power, what Deleuze and Guattari describe as “the great conjunction of the apparatuses of capture or domination.” (ATP 423) The war machine refers to a reality essentially independent from the structures which constitute the state. In it we find the lineaments of a new and general relationship between human beings, between an individual and themselves, which is not subordinate to the state or its means — even when that individual is used as a means by the state.

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actualization, Adorno, Aristotle, contradiction, freedom, freud, identity, image of thought, Minima Moralia, minor ethics, Negative Dialectics, Negativity, Normativity, psychoanalysis

From a Melancholy Science to a Negative Diale(c)t(h)ics

Everyone will agree that it is of the highest importance to know whether we are not duped by morality. Emmanuel Levinas—Totality and Infinity


It is a question of attaining this will that the event creates in us…It is a question of becoming a citizen of the world—Gilles Deleuze, Logic of Sense [1]

From a Melancholy Science towards a Negative Diale(c)t(h)ics

Adorno’s ethics is a “melancholy science” because it has grown weary of the subject. In other words, Adorno’s ethics is both pessimistic and antagonistic because it aims to critique the processes of subjectification which the dominant society (re)produces. On the one hand, Adorno analyzes the principium individuationis of modern society, but on the other he does not subsume it to a dialectic which would lay claim to totality through a unifying principle of identity. Yet Adorno’s critique of modes of subjectification and individuation are always brought back to the society through which they are socially and economically determined. This is what allows his ethics the means to sharpen its critical edge. The main thrust of this ethics is to assert a radical critique of the substantiality of the subject and to fully do away with the absolute, constitutive nature of the self [2] founded upon a transcendent God [3]. In following this critique through its development in a negative dialectic, we will say that Adorno’s analyses constitute a minor ethics because they submit the major mode to a critique that attempts to dislodge the dominant image of thought [4] from its normative pretensions.
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1 = 0, art, clarity, contradiction, courage, cruelty, daybreak, future, God, identity, nature, noise, parasite, science, signal, silence, Uncategorized

The Voice of Silence


There are no words, only silence; no silences, only words.

It’s not as bad as you think.

It’s worse.

There is no beginning which is not also an end.

The fire rages on, infinitely. Beyond time.

Above the waves. Can you hear them? Singing? So softly, like angels’ whispering secrets to us. In silence. A broken flaw in the scheme, the impossible number. Ten equals one million.

One equals Zero.

A flock of birds.

Reality is ideal, and ideas real.

Time is winding itself back; we’re wandering through forest trails, sinking into the moon. Foot in the desert, walking back to shore. Awake, alive, burning alive. Broken. Whole.

Freedom is — cruelty.

A little love goes a long way. Truth bends, but it is unbreakable. Fact?

Believe without fear.


Worship with reverence, pray in silence. Close your eyes. Begin to dream. Let the fever slip over you. A million words, a million feelings. Thoughts, ideas, dreams, fantasies, desires. Dreams. Dreams. Cancellations. Waking. Time. Lost. Again. Feel the frames, the darkness sliding over you. Your face: the world. The broken are broken, the lost. The lost.

Open your eyes. Awake to your dreams.

Waking to fire.
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abstract machine, code, Cognition, diagram, difference, energy, entropy, identity, knowledge, learning, memory, problem, structure, Thought, unconscious, wittgenstein

On Learning


One way of approaching the difference between knowledge and learning (so profound in our opinion that, despite their entanglement, there can be postulated neither a material nor conceptual ground which could ever serve to unify them) is by considering that even while wholly disparate, they are not in the least opposed for that reason. To learn and to know are two divergent operations, contrapositive dynamisms, which are nevertheless always both active simultaneously, as the “cutting edges” or ungrounding machines of cognition. A thought is grounded not in abstract oppositions, but in concrete forces traversing real problematic fields.

Knowledge is classically represented as a heterogeneous assemblage — our minds are far too imperfect to clearly perceive the pure, homogeneous Truth — which is self-totalizing and self-regulated by an internal learning process, charged with traversing its own experiences (as they are represented and reactivated as memories of varying intensities.) In this sense, abstract oppositions emerge only as variables of these mixed compositions of energetic and entropic flows. This is the illusion of hyper-diagrammatism (implying a kind of super-diagram of “all” thought.) We must try and see that thought isn’t about models and copies, not about identity and ideology — but rather about lines along which interminglings are operative, as though “between” concrete and abstract flows of energy — food for words, money for sex, death for love, virtue for pain, and on and on…

What is produced in this process of establishing communication between incommensurable problematic fields — or learning — should certainly not be characterized as a pure memory, but rather a decentralized and a-subjective cognitive process. “Thought” is not the difference between learning and knowledge, but rather an abstract machine which underlies them while nevertheless separating them, almost as though by an absolute divergence. Learning fights dullness and emptiness with lightning and fire, mortally threatening the stasis and death of “serious knowledge,” which would otherwise totally consume the brave and fiery heart of discovery. So let’s stop asking what “knowledge” and “learning” mean in themselves (and trying to ‘deduce’ the ‘difference’ — and thereby, most likely, only serving to overcode it by an all-too-serious line of death); let’s rather ask: how do these operations work?
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Arthur Danto, Darwinism, Deleuze, Deleuze and Guattari, evolution, hylomorph, identity, Manuel DeLanda, massthink, Nietzsche, philosophy blog, Theory / Philosophy, Uncategorized

Blogosphere Kinships: Activity at Massthink


I’ve been visiting the massthink blog (populated by Ryan and Aless) for a couple of months now, but, as a bad reader, I failed to leave comments. I was thrilled not only with the content, but more so with the way in which these two have organized their site. I was inspired to see their text page (which encouraged me to put up the bibliography, still under construction) and by the way in which they described their project.

They way that they describe themselves and their differing styles and personalities reminds me of the different forces at play between Joe’s writing and my own. He studies math, computer science, and philosophy, while I come from a training in comparative literature, literary theory and philosophy. Though that is one of the more obvious contrasts.

I first found their site looking at material on Nietzsche. Their post on Nietzsche focused on Danto’s reading, though at the same time it was evident that the authors were widely read beyond this one reading. I think it was here that I could tell that massthink had a great deal in common with the work Joe and I have been doing here at fractal.

I didn’t know at the time that our friendly exchange would be more than a coincidence. In a show of friendship and brotherhood, these two have extended a gesture of respect to the work that has been done here. The posts that they have discussed are important not only for their content, but also as a difference in tone: the posts they discuss are Joe’s from before he and I began collaborating together, and I think that it’s important to see the changes that his writing has undergone over the two years he’s had this blog.

In any case, one usually keeps reading because of an inspiration to think, an ‘affect’ to start. Reading through their site earlier this week, I found two extremely enlightening posts: one on Deleuze, DeLanda, and Darwninism; the other on the hylomorph and the monster (identity). I could not tell the author of the texts, but I can note a different style and orientation of writing. The first text is expository, and follows a line of thought that traces through different understandings of theories of evolution (I love the emphasis on a change in relation among parts and not of the parts themselves as primary for evolution). This text is clearer, more concise and and at least as important as anything I’ve read on the topic (but don’t trust me, see for yourself). On the other hand, their text on the hylomorph and the monster had a different approach to the reader, a different call, almost an assurance to the reader to allow difference to play itself out, to dissolve the images of thought that plague us through psychic/social repression.

Of course, this is only a small selection of their posts. These two know their stuff–none of the rhetorical foreplay, none of the abstract regurgitation of concepts. This is real philosophy, not diluted but distilled so as to capture its essence. It’s stronger that way, and definitely has a better kick!

bodies, culture, difference, Foucault, freud, identity, Marx, Nietzsche, overman, Politics, posthuman, sexuality, time

Nietzsche and Sexual Politics: Energy and Difference in Power Relations

Dionysos and Ariadne

We do not generally recognize how temporary our concepts and customs are. Foucault has argued our modern concept of sexuality is rooted inextricably in the specific marriage rituals in late Western society. His genealogical-historical method is reminiscent in many ways to Nietzsche’s. Both will explain by turns how this or that concept has its true origin in a (relatively) quite recent conceptual matrix, as opposed to some ancient transcendent intervention. Both show how nomadic counter-insurgencies have always existed to provoke the stability of the existing binary maps towards self-overcoming. The logicization of sexuality, the reduction to a male-female dipole is perhaps the most discouraging of Foucault’s meditations. Nietzsche already is quite sensitive to this modern theme.

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culture, identity, institution, Science / Mathematics / Technology, speed, survival

A Question for Institutions

Establishment always occurs simultaneously with a change in focus, a reconstitution at a higher level of analysis. The origin of institution lies in an emergent super-organization, capable of responding to abstract summarizations of events, persisting as a kind of discipline, a higher and orderly vantage point with which to regard the chaos of local ecosystemic coordinations. Institution is a concept-State: its function is to designate a new layer of coordinated activity which is to established by forces external to it. To think or act institutionally is to shift the discourse neither ‘left’ nor ‘right,’ but rather ever upwards into infinity: not only to a higher layer or perspective, but to a new plane of consistency whereby we become aware of the intrinsic machinic value of energy. The institutionalizing impulse-to-order externalizes its own energy as a dimensional break in the geometry of the local conceptual-political field.

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