A few years ago, I took a graduate seminar on experimental texts at Emory University. Some of the work I have done during my studies I have put up on Fractal Ontology, but I never included this one. I will run you through the basics of the project.
First, I wanted to showcase the “consumption” of philosophical texts that I have participated in over the course of my reading. This usually entails me, pen in hand, marking and re-marking texts with underlines, brackets and marginalia. At the end of the course, alongside my own reflection in text-form, I produced an artistic artifact. Basically, I ripped out the pages from 25 of my favorite–and most marked–texts, juxtaposed them as partial objects, and grafted and glued them onto a desk chair. So, the seat and center of the chair looks something like this:
Below, I will include my experimental essay reflecting on this project and the questionnaire I had to fill out for the project. Here is the questionnaire:
Hello everyone! I would like to extend an invitation to check out what Joe and I are doing over at our new theorytalk podcast. We just released our 25th podcast and show no signs at all of slowing down any time soon. For a more complete description, you can find Joe’s earlier post on theorytalk here at Fractal Ontology, and be sure to check out our Patreon page for even more information on what we’re doing and how you can contribute financially (with your money) and creatively (with your feedback).
As an example of some of the pathbreaking avenues we are trying to breach in our attempts to vary our podcast content, check out Joe’s interview with Katerina Kolozova (episode 20). I give full credit to Joe for this episode, and I had nothing to do with it (or, if I am feeling charitable to myself, perhaps only indirectly due to my translations of Laruelle).
In the spirit of following Joe’s initiative to do something different for episode 20, we have begun discussing ways of changing up some of the formatting and thematic content in the podcasts. Since this is still something quite new for me and Joe, we are trying to diversify some of the content while continuing also to do our traditional jam-thinking sessions. This is something like taking the next step of balancing the old with the new.
Now, Joe and I have brainstormed a few different ideas for new formats for our podcasts that go beyond mere topics of episodes, and I will create a new post this weekend detailing some of these ideas to give everyone a taste of what we had in mind. We would also like to hear back from our dear readers and your ideas, comments or questions, so if you have anything in mind that you’d like to share, please feel free to comment on this post, and we can start the discussion.
Look for our next episode in the next few days, most likely Friday or Saturday!
Derrida: “Structure, Sign and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences”
From Writing and Difference, trans. Alan Bass (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1978): 278-93.
“We need to interpret interpretations more than to interpret things” (Montaigne).
Derrida refers to the history of the concept of structure and an “event” in that history (it should be noted that in this opening paragraph, Derrida himself highlights the bracketing of the term event in quotation marks to serve as a precaution). Even here, the choice of the word “event” is “loaded” with a “meaning” that structural or structuralist thought seems to preclude. Thus we would have to say this word “event” as though it were crossed out or sous rature (under erasure). And so, with these precautions and noting structuralism’s potential objections, Derrida chooses to speak of an event whose “exterior form would be that of a rupture and a redoubling” (278).
This rupture perhaps brings to mind what Althusser normally calls an “epistemic break”, insofar as Derrida notes how the concept and word “structure” are as old as the episteme of Western philosophy and intertwines deeply with the “soil of ordinary language”. In fact the word and concept of structure are metaphorically displaced by the “deepest recesses” of the episteme. Of course, Althusser attributes epistemological breaks specifically to Marx and the way in which ideological conceptions are replaced by scientific ones. Here, what concerns the notion of an “event” in the history of the “structurality of structure” is the way in which it has always already been at work and “neutralized or reduced” due to its spontaneous attribution of a center or point of presence, “a fixed origin”. The goal of attributing a fixed center to structure is in order to “limit what we might call the play of structure”. It is not to eliminate play but to limit it according to the “total form” of structure that the episteme has succeeded in warding off “the notion of a structure lacking any center”, which would represent “the unthinkable itself”. (279).
Some inchoate thoughts on curvilinear transition and navigation between radically alien milieus.
Schoenberg : Xenakis :: Joyce : Negarestani
Cyclonopedia comprises a downward spiral into hyperstitional collapse or crack-up, alongside an outward spiral towards another universe. It may seem to perversely unfold a nightmare crypt of the death-drive, but this monstrous theoretical depersonalization is operating through the harshest singularities of space and time; it resounds in the howling of the magnetosphere, and echoes the cries of rebellion from the Core to the imperial Sun outside. Negarestani’s harrowing leper-creative legerdemain covertly unfolds gateways and meta-fictional portals; analyzed in the work in terms of worm-holes or vermiculations, gnawing consumption of solidus by void incursions that can only invade from without because they have also corrupted from within; the void’s infernal and instinctive will to devour solidity revealing the underlying softness of the solid, the internal decay and hollowness already growing and slicing matter-energy from within solidity itself.
Catherine Malabou has created a meticulous and profound new concept of the brain. Malabou analyses the functions which neuroscience has discovered, conducting a contemporary synthesis of neuroplasticity, crystallizing a new concept which acts as a curious new abstract machine with many parts. She names this concept plasticity after the plastic multiplicity of the brain; and one component of this concept expresses the brain’s power to learn and to heal, and even to reconfigure itself. Another component is transdifferentiation, or the power of life to remake and refold itself: the capability of certain (pluripotent, totipotent) cellular organisms to unfold into some or many other kinds of cells.