Author: Joseph Weissman

Wandering Shadows: Reflections on Morality and Madness

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architecture / banquet / language / machine / metaphysics / Nietzsche / ontology / Politics / time / unconscious / violence / wisdom

In the disparity between the awareness of unreason and the awareness of madness, we have, at the end of the eighteenth century, the point of departure for a decisive movement: that by which the experience of unreason will continue, with Holderlin, Nerval, and Nietzsche, to proceed ever deeper towards the roots of time — unreason thus becoming, par excellence, the world’s contratempo — and the knowledge of madness seeking on the contrary to situate it […]

Minority

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A Thousand Plateaus / abstract machine / becoming / Deleuze / language / machine / ontology / Politics

The scientific enterprise of extracting constants and constant relations is always coupled with the political enterprise of imposing them on speakers and transmitting order-words. Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus 101 Deleuze and Guattari admit that the notion of “minority” is very complex, with references and correlations in all dimensions of human and non-human existence. The opposition is not simply quantitative: “Majority implies a constant, of expression or content, serving as a standard measure by […]

Production, Division, Excess: Spinoza, Nietzsche and the Event

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counter-deity / Deleuze / ethics / event / infinity / light / materialism / music / Nietzsche / Plato / poetry / science / socrates / Spinoza / stoicism / theology / virus / void

The essential is never perceived in sheer multiplicity or in first impressions. Henri de Lubac In Nature there is nothing contingent; all things have been caused by the necessity of the divine nature to exist and produce an effect in a certain way. Spinoza, Ethics The wise person is free in two ways which conform to the two poles of ethics: free in the first instance because one’s soul can attain to the interiority of […]

Modern

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critique / decision / escape / gravity / health / language / love / metaphysics / modern / order / outside / parasite

If a person never contradicts himself, it must be that he says nothing. Miguel de Unamumo Modernity is a mass exhumation, plunging multiple, trembling, accelerating tunnels into the depths of affectivity. An ambiguous anticipation of this pure positivity can be paradoxically grasped already in the very grayness, finality, boredom and gravity of the classical categories of knowledge. For the consistency of the subject in the classical sense is metaphysical, sublime, hidden, like a secret promise. […]

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barrier / break / capital / cycle / difference / economy / energy / flow / paradox / Politics / space / subjectivity

Capital is nothing without energy, without a working which it desires to measure in terms of itself — and often wishes to imagine itself coincident with (and even more original than) this working — so much so that capital is often said to “represent” the flow of energy into the machine. On this reading, the economy is a largely imperceptible field of forces which, like a magnetic field, disappears instantaneously when the flow of energy […]

Affectivity, or What is an Event?

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affect / becoming / body / celerity / cosmos / double / event / freud / God / gravity / Interpretation / liberation / machine / model / outside / resonance

Events are volcanic. The event opens upon an outside, a beyond, a resonant and enigmatic depth. Events move the world, releasing free and untamed vibrations within and without us. They place being into relation with exteriority. But how does evental resonance work? When the new breaks free it is almost like it suddenly becomes “permitted” to us to learn to see all over again. Perhaps it would be better to say: we are allowed to […]

Meta-ontology

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abstract machine / antiproduction / body / code / diagram / diagrammatics / flux / idea / language / model / ontology / parasite / process / symbol / text

It is impossible to conceive the assemblage of a scientific experiment apart from a field that generates plans and topological, mathematical, axiomatic and computational descriptions. But sign-machines can function equally well directly within material and social machines without the mediation of significant processes of subjectivation, something which has become more obvious each passing day. The fact that the common essence of semiotic machines and material or social machines proceeds from the same type of abstract […]

On Learning

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abstract machine / code / Cognition / diagram / difference / energy / entropy / identity / knowledge / learning / memory / problem / structure / Thought / unconscious / wittgenstein

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 […]

Aristotle and Light

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activity / Aristotle / contemplation / God / happiness / idealism / materialism / philosophy / reason / virtue

Aristotle and Light Contemplation, Activity and Happiness in the Nicomachean Ethics For while the whole life of the gods is blessed, and that of men too in so far as some likeness of such activity belongs to them, none of the other animals is happy, since they in no way share in contemplation. Happiness extends, then, just so far as contemplation does, and those to whom contemplation more fully belongs are more truly happy, not […]

Metaphysics beyond Psychoanalysis: The Unconscious, Language and Reality after Heidegger and Deleuze

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anti-philosophy / badiou / deconstruction / Deleuze / difference / heidegger / lacan / levinas / mathematics / metaphysics / negation / poetry / psychoanalysis / unity / writing

Metaphysics beyond Psychoanalysis 0: Entryways “What does it matter how many lovers you have if none of them gives you the universe?” Lacan “Lacan never pursues purely philosophical objectives.” Badiou Questions, not meanings, are forgotten. May we therefore at last refrain from inquiring what psychoanalysis means, or asking what it is supposed to signify? And, since this alone is clearly insufficient, could it also be possible to take a cautious step “backwards,” simply in order […]

Intensive Depths: Notes on Difference and Repetition

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affirmation / Deleuze / depth / difference / Difference and Repetition / extensity / heterogeneity / illusion / quality / representation / sensibility / unground / volume

In Difference and Repetition, Deleuze proposes what we may be permitted to term a differential phenomenology capable at last of setting mathematics and logic themselves upon a proper “ground” — that of difference, and multiplicity… Not only is it possible to overturn representation, but we can begin right away — if we immediately cease to encode relationships between singularities as identities, oppositions, analogies, and so on — but instead in terms of constitutive inequalities. Deleuze’s […]

Expressive Networks

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boundary / diagram / expression / form / knowledge / language / machine / network / organization / parasite / relationship / representation / topology / wikipedia

expressive networks towards a new diagrammatic model for the abstraction and representation of relational knowledge How can we apply distributed network theory to knowledge representation? In this paper, we advance a new hypothesis regarding the role of the network topology in information science. In particular, we argue for the need (and significant advantage) of thinking in terms of a parasitic or “counter-network” topology. While networks are certainly good at representing many things, we need to […]

Imperceptible

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abstract machine / assemblage / becoming / code / cosmos / diagram / God / intensity / language / molecular / segmentarity / semiotics / sign / subject / truth

“Regimes of signs are not based on language, and language alone does not constitute an abstract machine, whether structural or generative. The opposite is the case. It is language that is based on regimes of signs, and regimes of signs on abstract machines, diagrammatic functions and machinic assemblages that go beyond any system of semiology, linguistics or not. There is no universal propositional logic, nor is there grammaticality in itself, any more than there is […]

Purity

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asceticism / gandhi / God / love / nihilism / non-violence / paradox / Politics / purity / religion / truth

To see the universal and all-pervading spirit of Truth face to face one must be able to love the meanest of creation as oneself. And a man who aspires after that cannot afford to keep out of any field of life. That is why my devotion to truth has drawn me into the field of politics; and I can say without the slightest hesitation, and yet in all humility, that those who say that religion […]

For Lacan

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attention / barrier / deconstruction / lacan / language / metaphor / signifier / structure / subject / Thought / unconscious

The question of vigilance is important. It is as if a demon plays a game with your attention [lit. “watchfulness.”] Lacan To identify a “subject” is not only difficult, but truly impossible: we always only ‘nominate’ in the last instance one of its barriers; or rather, we indicate only what is barred, but we do so by signifying the barrier. How can we understand this barrier — this imaginary line of symbolic exchange? In what […]

The Meaning of Science

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art / ascetic ideal / chaos / efficiency / history / humility / illusion / improvement / irony / meaning / Nietzsche / order / problem / religion / resentment / science / socrates / spirit / will to power

What is the Meaning of Science? Nietzsche and the History of the Human Spirit What is problematic about science? What does the “progress” of science mean about human beings? I believe this question turns everything which is unsettling, mysterious, and uncanny about the course of human development (and not only human); who can exhaust what is figured within the folds of this strange question — science thought as a symptom, science grasped as a problem? […]

On Asceticism

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asceticism / attunement / commerce / desire / exteriority / instinct / metaphysics / Nietzsche / noise / nothingness / spirit / strength / Thought

We know what the three great catchphrases of the ascetic idea are: poverty, humility, and chastity. If we now look closely at the lives of all great, prolific, inventive spirits we’ll always rediscover all three there to a certain degree. Not at all (this is self-evident) as if it were something to do with their “virtues”—what does this kind of man have to do with creating virtues?—but as the most appropriate and most natural conditions […]

Evaluating Value

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aristocracy / Christianity / evaluation / evil / good / human / judgment / life / morality / nobility / origin of language / power / psychoanalysis / question / reality / subject / the future / utility / value

Under what conditions did men invent for themselves these value judgments good and evil? And what inherent value do they have? Have they hindered or fostered human well-being up to now? Are they a sign of some emergency, of impoverishment, of an atrophying life? Or is it the other way around—do they indicate fullness, power, a will for living, courage, confidence, the future? Friedrich Nietzsche, Preface to the Genealogy of Morals Why is this work […]

Notes to Deleuze and Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus: November 20, 1923 — Postulates of Linguistics

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abstract machine / assemblage / chomsky / content / diagram / expression / hegemony / indiscernible / information science / intensity / Labov / linguistics / pragmatics / production / rhizome / semiotics / signifier / variation

In truth, the nature of the abstract machine is the most general problem: there is no reason to tie the abstract machine to the universal or the constant, or to efface the singularity of abstract machines insofar as they are built around variables and variations. Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus (92-93) Deleuze and Guattari’s analysis of the Chomsky-Labov debate exemplifies a well-developed but perhaps under-emphasized aspect of their thinking — namely, their theory of […]

The Language Mechanism: Notes on de Saussure

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continuity / diachrony / evolution / institution / language / linearity / linguistics / logic / sign / synchrony / time

A language thus has this curious and striking feature. It has no immediately perceptible entities. And yet one cannot doubt that they exist, or that the interplay of these units is what constitutes linguistic structure. That is undoubtedly a characteristic which distinguishes languages from all other semiological institutions. Ferdinand de Saussure (Course in General Linguistics, 105) After having investigated the physiological mechanisms of speech, Saussure turns to consider the nature of linguistic signs. In his […]

Notes on Eros and Civilization

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alienation / death drive / Eros / eros and civilzation / freud / herbert marcuse / metaphysics / pleasure / psychology / reality / superego / unconscious

Notes on Eros and Civilization In Eros and Civilization, Herbert Marcuse presents Freud at the level of metaphysical psychology. That is: we find Freud engaged in overturning “conventional” metaphysics through psychoanalysis — methodically substituting pleasure and imagination for reason and logic — but paradoxically in so doing he produces a “theoretical” practice which, through its “diagnostic” methodologies and even in its “axiomatic” structure, still reflect profoundly traditional conceptions of humanity. For example, Freud analyzes the […]

Who’s in Control?

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being / control / energy / essence / flux / function / ground / heidegger / machine / order / power / revolution / technology

Who’s in Control? Heidegger and Technology We have for a very long time presumed to be in control of machines. We have claimed to be the masters, and pretended to “govern” technology. So Heidegger is more poignant than usual when he reminds us (in the 1969 Der Spiegel interview) that we do not even control that within us which drives us towards technicity. We are not masters of the secret desire which compels us to […]

A Brief History of Nothing

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fibonacci / form / Laplace / mathematics / nothing / number / origin / sign / value / void / zero

The point about zero is that we do not need to use it in the operations of daily life. No one goes out to buy zero fish. It is in a way the most civilized of all the cardinals, and its use is only forced on us by the needs of cultivated modes of thought. Alfred North Whitehead Leibniz called zero “a fine and wondrous refuge of the divine spirit.” But where does the idea […]

Thinking Cybernetics

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algorithm / apparatus of capture / authority / biopolitics / call for papers / code / control / cybernetics / desiring machines / einstein / ethics / humanity / language / media / metaphysics / technology

(Matt Dixon) Thinking Cybernetics: Mapping the Intersections between Metaphysics, Technology, Biopolitics (abstract for panel) The purpose of this panel is to gather together ideas, perspectives, and questions from a diverse variety of thinkers and disciplines relating to the theory and practice of cybernetics. Our goal is to raise a series of critical questions concerning the intersection between biopolitics, metaphysics, and technology. While each paper is devoted to a specific author or authors and is generally […]

Outline for a Philosophy of History

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

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 […]

Happiness or Justice? Ethics and the Politics of Friendship

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Aristotle / difference / ethics / ethnology / friendship / happiness / humanity / justice / light / Plato / Politics / science / society / spiritual evolution

No one would choose a friendless existence on condition of having all the other things in the world. Aristotle In poverty and other misfortunes of life, true friends are a sure refuge. The young they keep out of mischief; to the old they are a comfort and aid in their weakness, and those in the prime of life they incite to noble deeds. A true friend is one soul in two bodies… ibid There is […]

Language is not a Signal: Notes on Wilhelm von Humboldt

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concept / decision / dialogue / distinction / humboldt / language / metaphysics / order word / protoype / representation / segmentation / sign / Thought

Language is not a Signal: Notes on Wilhelm von Humboldt One of the earliest and most strident critiques of the signifier, Wilhelm von Humboldt’s philosophy of language refused the even-then-canonical concept of a “sign” by questioning the universal conceptual image of a language as representation. Beneath the semiotic aspect of language — the “common sense” idea of language as utterance, signalling, communicating, “saying” — Humboldt catches sight of a more profound function of language, where […]

Counter-action: Reflections on Sensory Anthropology

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counteraction / difference / ego / experiment / infinity / information / intensity / light / machine / media / metaphysics / monad / noise / origin / society / structure / transcendence

Towards a Metaphysics of Noise Let us return to the ‘alternate’ origin in noise, the conditions for any structure. From background noise to blank nothingness to signification: three distinct moments. Back again to the process of the development of the other structure: from noise into information. Mediation: the propagation of light which opens up space by filling it, makes absence present, sensible. The other structure: from spirit to letter; from ruptures, an alien coherence; from […]

The Horizon of Language

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assemblage / channel / communication / diagram / forgetting / form / intensity / language / media / memory / multiplicity / parasite / Plato / signal / Thought / wisdom / writing

If men learn this [writing], it will implant forgetfulness in their souls; they will cease to exercise memory because they rely on that which is written, calling things to remembrance no longer from within themselves, but by means of external marks. What you have discovered is a recipe not for memory, but for reminder. And it is no true wisdom that you offer your disciples, but only its semblance, for by telling them of many […]

Speaking (of) Flowers…

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breath / celan / expression / flowers / growth / heidegger / humboldt / inorganic life / intensity / language / life / light / organism / speech / spirit

The stone. The stone in the air, which I followed. Your eye, as blind as the stone. We were hands, we baled the darkness empty, we found the word that ascended summer: flower. Flower – a blind man’s word. Your eye and mine: they see to water. Growth. Heart wall upon heart wall adds petals to it. One more word like this word, and the hammers will swing over open ground. Paul Celan, “Flower”

On Fractal Geometry

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boundary / continuity / dimension / disorder / evolution / fractal / mathematics / mobius / rupture / science / topology / turbulence

Fractals are an example of a discovery from what claims to be a very new kind of science — a science of feedback, turbulence and emergence — which harnesses an old but ubiquitous species of chaos. A fractal can informally be defined as a recursively self-similar figure. They are not extrapolated from a geometric logic based on units. Rather fractals are constructed on the basis of an infinite program, such that the result ‘overflows’ any […]

Deconstructing Cybernetics

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abstract machine / catastrophe / chaos / communication / conservatism / cybernetics / decentralization / derrida / distinction / exteriority / godel / humanity / machine / metaphysics / ontology / spencer-brown / spirit / writing

Notes on Derrida and Cybernetics Let us conjecture that the invention of the transistor — an auto-controllable circuit — indicates the attainment of a critical level of development in cybernetics, a “tipping point.” Then for writing the corresponding moment is the invention of the video camera, perhaps more precisely the photograph: now seeing is writing, literally marking. Visio-literature is the only kind that can ever exists for us today — even ancient literature is post-modern […]

Deleuze and Schizophrenia

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Deleuze / delirium / God / molecular multiplicity / psychoanalysis / Rimbaud / schizophrenia / Schreber / translation / video

[My translation follows. A particular difficulty of Deleuze’s unique expressions here is that a verbal form of ‘delirium’ is often used in the original French and in its Italian rendition. I have used the word ‘hallucinate’ to translate ‘delire’ and related words, but have tried to keep the word ‘delirium’ and ‘delirious’ whenever possible.’] Perhaps schizophrenia reveals something that comes to us in pieces, always transforming, constantly enough and everywhere. Don’t stop to be taken, […]

Outline of Aristotle’s Ethics

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Aristotle / character / classical philosophy / ethics / eudamonia / happiness / justice / law / Plato / Politics / virtue

“We make war that we may live in peace.” Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics — 1177b (Book X, Chapter 7) Let’s try to understand this work first through the method by which its project is assembled, the way the text functions. In general Ta Ethika has three phases or stages of development: (a) a general, in-depth study of the “good” and the “good life”; (b) an analysis of moral virtue or excellence; and (c) an investigation into […]

Systems of Control: Derrida and Machines

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automation / control / cybernetics / derrida / history / human / machine / metaphysics / nonhuman / system

(notes for an abstract) If the theory of cybernetics is by itself to oust all metaphysical concepts — including the concepts of soul, of life, of value, of choice, of memory — which until recently served to separate the machine from man, it must conserve the notion of writing, trace, written mark, or grapheme, until its own historico-metaphysical character is also exposed. […[E]ven before being determined as human… or nonhuman, the gramme — or the […]