Wild Magic of the Unbeliever (Dave Makin)
How much of our lives are caught up, inextricably, with the imaginary? A dangerous question only because it is silly, and stupid; why? Because it’s answer is both simple and impossible. For we know: none of it is imaginary, it is all real; and we also know: nothing is real, all of it is imaginary. A dangerous idea, a poisonous idea: there is contradiction at the origin. An unrest, a turbulence at the heart of being — not smooth immobility. There is origin only through explosion, individuation, hyperdifferentiation.
Finally, this has the consequence that origin itself takes place only through imagination: the subject finds his mysterious source through, and despite, the principle of differentiation. The collective subject divides into the individual; the individual unfolded is collective. There is no central, single subject, despite appearances. Phenomenology here is our witness, nay, our foundation — a foundation upon separation. In fact, an imaginary foundation, that is, a foundation which is really just an image for a process which we cannot explain. What we are unable to explain, express, or even appreciate adequately, is precisely the power of the void. The void is the grasp, the source of seizure itself. Differentiation is the abyss; it is not void in the sense of empty, it is void in the sense of bottomless, infinitely powerful and deep.
It is an image, a metaphysic: the void is conceived only as a background, an emptiness from which everything differs, glitters in the darkness and half-light. Peering through the fog, we see it is always and ever precisely this process whose self-differentiation defies static logic, defines common sense. It is irony itself, we whisper, it is daylight again. But the void is only an image, an imaginary number whose inscription we cannot justify, only conceptualize. Our axiomatization of its power is parasitic, not original. It is clever, not convincing. It is childish, and not nearly silly enough. Finally, it is magic, imaginary, a forcing without force: it is the weakness of liberalness and the excessiveness of rationalism. Black magic, void magic, caller and sorceror of forms without form, relations without relations: this is the ever the figure of the tragic hero, the one who claims to have mastered the void. But the void cannot be mastered, the gesture is impotent; to struggle for or against is already betrayal itself. The power of the void is precisely the power of the image, of the imaginary.
We again need real power, which is to say, virtual power. For power is nothing once it is actualized, this is the promise of the void. We must expose the possibility of a non-relation to the void. Nothingness is not, along with the One; and a multiplicity is not enough to save us. We must construct new tools for constructing new multiplicities; we must discover new uses for old ones. Transduction is another name for the eternal return of the same problem, that is to say, of creating new modes of differentiation, of individuation. The void is not the constructor, it is the depths of pleasure and pain. It is a literary power source, not a machinic power source. This is important: not the void, but the minimal difference of any process from itself, individuation, or time — this is constitutive of subjects. Subjects do not create individuals, but are the products of individuation, a process which permutes pre-individual fields and fluxes. Energy, not the void, is origin.
The void is energy only from a different perspective, this is its narrative and sophistic value. But in fact only in individuals whose non-relations to the void could eventually constitute a feedback can there even be story. We must escape it for long enough to act. The void is capture, seizure; it is already a beginning, it is even a depth. The void is almost like a surface in its parasitic insulation from being, it is like the wilderness. Proliferating by minimal self-difference. The void is not the principle of origination; we must have substance and void, they are inter-related, the void is attached to everything as its enigmatic future, or even the shadow of its past. The void is then like a ghost, a spectre haunting every place and every being; it would be entropy, the yawning mouth of decomposition. The void affects matter by unravelling it. Not a ghost, a poltergeist. The void is the psychical, founds the intensity of a thought; the ability to focus on a thing’s being, it’s bare difference from the void, is already the origin of number. But mathematics is not ontology; the void by no means stops at mathematics. Again, we must listen to the silence, feel the difference of our world from nothing. Where is the origin of difference? It is “in” the void, but it is not the void. It is matter, or the difference between the void and itself. Substance is the result of processes of individuation; behind the individuation and entropy of substance there is a pre-substantial, pre-individual flux and field of energy. Behind the flux? What could be behind the flux, but a minimal difference? The origin of a flow is chaos and difference; its destination is death. A flow is like a line of flight, or rather, a flow follows infinitesimal lines of flight, lines of least resistance, flows on towards the void. The void is not origin but destination — this is the radical point, the truly religious point. Not atheism but antitheism. Again, this void, the absence of material absolutes, the space without order or God, this is the energy, the wilderness of meanings masquerading behind neo-liberalism.
Freedom of belief for everyone who doesn’t believe, and freedom of speech for the mute! What do we say if asked about God? What does this say about us? At what point is freedom of belief separated from criminality, from insanity? It’s the same question, dangerous, but ultimately silly, that we were asking initially. It is separated by imagination, that is to say, by nothing, by the power and force of the void. Thought is seized by nothingness, it is never a calm contemplation. Form does battle with void, but the void is also oblivion, the death of every form. Metaphysics cannot save us; even if we could construct a smooth space, the void destroys it. Not even deterritorialized; consumed, violent torn apart. But preserved, in some strange sense — in having a past, having been a smooth space. Is the other side of the void isomorphic? Another way of posing the relation of the soul. What if it is inverted — we have bodies like our souls, and souls like our bodies? Just imagination, I’m sure, but this idea of symmetry poses a second and complex question about the void, which we shall have to continue in another discussion.