becoming, celerity, confinement, control, history, humanity, intensity, multiplicity, nature, Politics, power, production, spirit, swarm

Outline for a Philosophy of History

If we listen closely to the breath of the spirit as well as to the word of being, an entirely new kind of history may become possible.

Disclosing a lethal truth (into) power, organization trembles before the disorganized generativity of decentralized multiplicity.

Are we transmitting history backwards through time? Are languages transforming themselves through us?

Is it by nature that we are socially-oriented creatures? Or does “humanity” on the contrary mark with precision a moment of originary disarticulation of (biological) organization — is a “human” a swarm?

The machine precedes the apparatus and the model just as noise precedes the relation, swarms precede the face, and an absolute nothingness precedes the other. The grinding of war machines, the art and engineering of multiplicity, networked disciplinary techniques — all these emerge long before the complex “legal” apparatus like tribes, states and religions.

How do we become world-oriented? How do we open onto manifold processes of becoming?

Segmented procedures carefully separate of bodies from capabilities — the social articulation of the “human,” the technologization of the body. Segment-rules inscribe society upon itself, through the operation of collective assemblages of enunciation.

Mass confinement of bodies and minds within the illusory ‘certainty’ of a segmented social process. A false naturalization of the organism upon which follows the miraculation of pure operativity — war, religion, capital, psychoanalysis, cybernetics. A natural history of celerity.

Multiplicity does not exist in a substantive but an operative sense. The “being” of a network (an ensemble of interdependent elements including their relationships) is a very nearly nonsensical question, for it unites the fertile middle ground between universals and particulars — intensity.

Does spirit, force, intensity, or “breath” in fact name a machinic phylum underlying reason, nature, even life itself — as the very process of production?

We must catch multiplicity operating in a field of intensities.

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2 thoughts on “Outline for a Philosophy of History

  1. J (pimpin') McDaniel says:

    Interesting post Joe.
    There are some interesting possibilities when we speak of bringing forth ‘a new kind of history’, as you say… As well as some interesting dangers that may result if we (figuratively used) regurgitate an understanding of history that serves ‘our’ purposes. Eugenics, Hegel, Marxism, all share in common a radical ‘distortion’ of history to fit the presupposed model (we have to admit the model appeared first and then looked through biased lens at history to validate itself, a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts). History is DANGEROUS in a very real way if not approached carefully. In accordance to this we must strive to at the least be extremely careful when speaking of new ways to interpret history (and keep in mind all history in interpretation!)

    “Disclosing a lethal truth (into) power, organization trembles before the disorganized generativity of decentralized multiplicity.”
    From where do we turn to get this ‘truth’, as you say? Metaphysics…;-(

    “Are we transmitting history backwards through time? Are languages transforming themselves through us?”
    Yes and know, language, and other cultural ‘ways’ of coming into being (developing cognition) have a give and take relationship with the pre-existing, pre-imposed ‘structures’ such as language. As we learn about the world we do so through language, most of our brains are hardwired to enable linguistic development, and thus it is through the veil of language that our ‘being’ is situated in the world (yuck, Heidegger). Though this does not mean that we can not escape the ‘house of language’! We simply need to shift our focus from ‘language’ and its inherent (though hindering) structure, to communication! The transfer of information, of state, most importantly of being … body to body, cell to cell, life to world, world to life. Language is just THE MOST EFFICIENT and there for by virtue of selection the (literally) strongest means of communication (emphasizing means).

    “Is it by nature that we are socially-oriented creatures?”

    Absolutley it is ‘by nature’ that we are socially oriented.

    “Or does “humanity” on the contrary mark with precision a moment of originary disarticulation of (biological) organization — is a “human” a swarm?”

    Hmmm. Maybe the human should be thought of as an ‘organized swarm’?
    “The machine precedes the apparatus and the model just as noise precedes the relation, swarms precede the face, and an absolute nothingness precedes the other. The grinding of war machines, the art and engineering of multiplicity, networked disciplinary techniques — all these emerge long before the complex “legal” apparatus like tribes, states and religions.”
    To say: ‘the machine precedes the model’, is that not to say that form precedes substance? Following contemporary cosmology, relativity, big bang, we could make a strong argument that substance precededs and form, substance creates its own space, it fills its own void, and conversly has a tautological relationship with its void.
    Sartre would argue that being precedes (gives rise to) nothingnes, which is in turn the ultimate ‘other’. I would argue that the relationship, similarly between substance and void, is mutually contingent. One cannot precede the other, as the other is neccesarily only a relationship, a form of communication, a transfer of one mode (being) to another mode (nonbeing). Again, emphasis on communication. I would also argue that tribes and primitive social groupings arose quickly, in varing degrees, out of absoulte neccesity. Selection favored tratis that proved applicable for the social domain, and the social domain itself created new evolutionary space for it to continue its expansion.
    “Segmented procedures carefully separate of bodies from capabilities — the social articulation of the “human,” the technologization of the body. Segment-rules inscribe society upon itself, through the operation of collective assemblages of enunciation.”
    Sounds like some sort of half baked Stalinist wet dream. You seem to be hinting towards a notion of society as externality; as exiting apart from its ver ‘humanistic’ nature. Society is not a separate machine operating outside of the human animal, but a greater incarnation of the vary nature of our particular verion of animal. This is why society is and never will nor has been utopian; its essence lies fully in its animality, its viciousness, “C’est la vie”!
    “Mass confinement of bodies and minds within the illusory ‘certainty’ of a segmented social process. A false naturalization of the organism upon which follows the miraculation of pure operativity — war, religion, capital, psychoanalysis, cybernetics. A natural history of celerity.”
    “mariculation”…?? Celerity, velocity? Only periodic surges, no constant rate of increasing acceleration is found in human history nor particle physics.
    “Multiplicity does not exist in a substantive but an operative sense. The “being” of a network (an ensemble of interdependent elements including their relationships) is a very nearly nonsensical question, for it unites the fertile middle ground between universals and particulars — intensity.”
    How can we posit a ‘ground’ between universals and particulars, none the less position it in the middle. Nonesenical indeed. Network may infact be our ground, particular and universal only unfullfilled perspectives, illusions of solidarity, self, sameness, absolute relation, etc.
    “Does spirit, force, intensity, or “breath” in fact name a machinic phylum underlying reason, nature, even life itself — as the very process of production”
    THIS is the biggy. The quesiton of which we should neccersarily find ourselves posing. “What is the FORCE” behind the production of energy, matter, life. What causes the organization, or is the organization a property only found in the organization, unable to eralized independent of it. Is our nature the great product of some design, some great plan, or Spirit? If only we could resurect Hegel and Heidegger and have some sort of midieval joust, armed with bullshit for lances, and idealism for shields.
    J.D.M.

    Amazing painting BTW!!

  2. I am grateful for your careful reading, Justin.

    Before I respond I feel I should emphasize the embryonic or experimental character of this line of thinking.

    However, I believe there is a strong claim here about the possibility of new histories.

    Framing this idea a little more more rigorously — ‘swarm’ and ‘network’ and ‘procedure’ are somewhat informal ways of speaking — we should perhaps speak in terms of multiple histories. This idea opens onto a field whose horizons we are only beginning to suspect.

    My gut feeling here is that we are always already discovering, underneath historical singularities, a field of noise or intensities.

    This pure trauma requires us to rationalize the past, to formulate a future — in short, to work, to think, to produce History.

    Historical consciousness, then, also has its own historical position — I am of course cutting the bridge out from myself as I write this, but this is OK because I want these bridges to be cut! In other words, you’ve turned around and subjected my writing to a kind of philosophico-historical analysis.

    You’ve performed a transformative reading of a ‘text’ which yet is still not the final word, and can itself in turn be subject to a historical analysis and deconstruction.

    I guess my real point running through this idea of history is as follows:

    Imagination is just as if not more important than what is ‘reasonable,’ especially concerning human behavior (and its interpretations.)

    So rather than a unified essence, we ought to admit that histories are multiple, that history is ‘dense’ and ‘heterogeneous’ and ‘self-conflicting’ — that History itself has a history.

    Certain positions are always already privileged; all history is far-from-equilibrium.

    Turbulence is much rather the essence than an orderly development; again, multiple celerities — and this can even mean multiple temporal topologies active within the same ‘story.’

    In some sense, all stories are composed of various impulse-momenta (or what I term generative ‘celerities’) and relate them to one another, we gather together event-spaces and map them onto other event-spaces.

    What is history but this translation, always supplementary or opening minimally onto an outside of History?

    Put more simply, the argument I’m advancing is more or less that classical ontology is insufficient for understanding even its own history except in a very limited, historically-determined way.

    We ‘rationalize’ instead of ‘diagnose.’

    As opposed to a traditional metaphysical ontology of unity, stasis, representation, etc., I think real historical analysis has an urgent need for concepts like multiplicity and celerity.

    I even think this represents, in some sense, a liberation of history and of analysis at once; in short — the notion that histories are multiple, and not unified; that they are composed of differential speeds, not unitary measures; that historical reality has an irrational substrate, a proper incommensurability which ultimately eludes rational speculation…

    Joe

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