acceleration, anti-gravity, Bachelard, belief, brother, celerity, change, dream, dreams, feeling, flight, future, laughter, love, memory, reality, texture, Thought, transformation, truth, Uncategorized, world

Learning to Fly

Psychologists — and more especially philosophers — pay little attention to the play of miniature frequently introduced into fairy tales. In the eyes of the psychologist, the writer is merely amusing himself when he creates houses that can be set on a pea. But this is a basic absurdity that places the tale on a level with the merest fantasy. And fantasy precludes the writer from entering, really, into the domain of the fantastic. Indeed he himself, when he develops his facile inventions, often quite ponderously, would appear not to believe in a psychological reality that corresponds to these miniature features. He lacks that little particle of dream which could be handed on from writer to reader. To make others believe, we must believe ourselves.
Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space, “Miniature”

The tiniest things are the greatest secrets: focus in on the details, a world, an individual, truth emerges. Love is clarified silence. In the mysterious simplicity of vision, truth escapes and enters being in the very same movement — which is not split in simply two directions, but rather fractured from end to beginning into a billion microscopic fragments of light. Become a prism. What we see is not what is apparent, but rather caused by it. So stop looking — and see. Sensory reality is overwhelmingly powerful, so overwhelmingly convincing it easily tempts us into becoming its willing hostage. But it is no more real than your dreams. What makes us afraid to really trust in sense itself, the reality of our dreams and the dreaming of reality, is the invisible presence of the “enemy.” What we are generally unaware of is that this “enemy” is in fact, our most intimate friend — even a twin brother. Because there are no distinctions when anything is properly distinguished. Infinity is nothing at all, an image of thought: a paradoxical dream that everything is and can be one, and that one is and can be everything. Because we are finally no longer pinned down by the old evaluations, we are free to become anything. We have at long last conquered that ancient negation of laughter which is only now really beginning to lose its sting. We are slowly, so slowly remembering it was we who gave words their weight in the first place. We have remembered that feeling is enough to transform the world — not because it changes what the world is — but because it changes what the world can be. We have remembered that a law of celerity is needed to supplement the law of gravity. We have rediscovered the absurd truth, that the tiniest “push” is all that is required to fly. The transformation of reality is also the transformation of dreams. All that is required — is to do it. Make it shift. Go ahead, give it a try. There are no causes, no effects, only lines of acceleration producing textures — light and sound. So create, invent, experiment! And don’t forget: the future is history. Remember before.

Bachelard, Barthélémy, becoming, bergson, communication, complexity, French Translation, individuation, ontogenesis, ontology, philosophy of science, physiology, Simondon, singularities, Teildhard de Chardin, transindividual, Untranslated Theory

Translation: Jean-Hugues Barthélémy on Simondon, Bergson and Teilhard de Chardin


The following is the first half of chapter 1 from Jean-Hugues Barthélémy’s book Penser l’individuation: Simondon et la philosophie de la nature. Paris: L’Harmattan, 2005. p. 37-48. Original translation by Taylor Adkins on 10/22/07.

Chapter 1

The concept of object and the concept of subject, in the same virtue of their origin, are limits that philosophical thought must overcome. –Gilbert Simondon

1. Ontology and ontogenesis: from Bergson to Simondon

The philosophically fundamental watchword of all Simondian thought undoubtedly resides in the idea according to: the process of individuation cannot be ob-jectified by knowledge, since the former is produced by the latter if the knowledge of individuation is itself the individuation of knowledge. This is why the principal introduction of his thesis ends with these lines:

We cannot, in the usual sense of the term, know the individuation; we can only individuate, individuate ourselves, and individuate in ourselves; this seizure is thus, in the margin of knowledge properly stated, an analogy between two operations, which is a certain mode of communication. The individuation of the real exterior to the subject is seized by the subject thanks to the analogical individuation of knowledge in the subject; but it is through the individuation of knowledge and not by knowledge alone that the individuation of (non-subject) beings is seized. Beings can be known by the knowledge of the subject, but the individuation of beings can be seized only by the individuation of the knowledge of the subject.[1]

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Bachelard, badiou, Boudot, Deleuze, French Translation, guattari, Laruelle, Lautman, Lyotard, Ruyer, Serres, Simondon, Stengers, Untranslated Theory, Whitehead

French Translations: Works in Progress


My last six posts have all been translations; they range from philosophy of science to paradigms for approaching and studying Nietzsche. I plan to continue working on translating Boudot’s work (including sections from three of his books on Nietzsche, featuring comparisons of Nietzsche with Bataille, Camus, and Bachelard); Ruyer’s work (Genesis of Living Forms, Cybernetics and the Origin of Information, and The Paradoxes of Consciousness and the Limits of Automatism); Guattari’s work (Schizoanalytic Cartographies; The Machinic Unconscious; and Psychoanalysis and Transversality); Laruelle’s work (Nietzsche contra
Heidegger; Beyond the Power Principle
); Badiou’s (early) work (Theory of the Subject; Of Ideology); Simondon’s work (The Individual and Its Physico-Biological Genesis; Psychic and Collective Individuation; and
On the Mode of the Existence of Technical Objects); and Serres’s work (Hermes II, III, and IV; The Origins of Geometry).

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assemblage, Bachelard, becoming, bergson, Deleuze, difference, duration, image, intuition, memory, metaphysics, metapsychology, ontology, problematics, time, virtual, Whitehead

Bergsonism, or Philosophy of Sub- and Superhuman Durations


Deleuze, Gilles. Bergsonism. Trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Barbara Habberjam. New York: Zone, 1991.

Bergson on several occassions compares the approach of philosophy to the procedure of infinitesimal calculus: When we have benefited in experience from a little light which shows us a line of articulation, all that remains is to extend it beyond experience—just as mathematicians reconstitute, with the infinitely small elements that they perceive of the real curve, ‘the curve itself stretching out into the darkness behind them.’ In any case, Bergson is not one of those philosophers who ascribes a properly human wisdom and equilibrium to philosophy. To open us up to the inhuman and the superhuman (durations which are inferior or superior to our own), to go beyond the human condition: This is the meaning of philosophy, in so far as our condition condemns us to live among badly analyzed composites, and to be badly analyzed composites ourselves (Gilles Deleuze, Bergsonism pg 27-28).


Deleuze’s project in Bergsonism is to render a systematic understanding of Bergson’s concepts in their interrelations. Of course, this book is an experiment in philosophical buggery, and so there is a clear Deleuzian ring to it. There is much in here that is strictly related to Deleuze’s project, but in itself it still retains a lot of theoretical value and stands as a concise and intriguing reading of Bergson. The first chapter on intuition as method lays out clearly Bergson’s project in three moves: (1) state and create problems; (2) discover the genuine differences in kind; (3) apprehend time in its reality as duration. To construct this method in its rigor, we must set out some rules as we go along.

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Bachelard, Deleuze, image of thought, philosophy of science, problematics, psychoanalysis, unconscious, value

Bachelard and the Psychoanalysis of Affective Stereotypes

A word will suddenly reverberate in us and find too lingering an echo in cherished, old ideas; an image will light up and persuade us outright, abruptly, and all at once. In reality, a serious, weighty word, a key word, only carries everyday conviction, conviction that stems more from the linguistic past or from the naivety of primary images than from objective truth…All description nucleates in this way and collects about centres that are too bright. Unconscious thought gathers around these centres–these nuclei–and thus the mind is introverted and immobilised. —Gaston Bachelard, Formation of the Scientific Mind

In this work Bachelard theorizes a pedagogical psychoanalysis that will attempt to reinstate the sense of the problem in science and remove any unconscious valorizations that occur through the development of scientific knowledge. The sense of the problem is at the forefront of Bachelard’s project because he believes that all knowledge must be an answer to a question (24-25). Moreover, the conservative instinct takes a stunting grip on science insofar as it becomes self-satisfied with the solutions it has already established. These solutions are the same platitudes that teachers and textbooks command us to memorize. A psychoanalysis of the scientific mind is called upon when epistemological obstacles encrust knowledge that is not questioned.

In fact, this is Bachleard’s main thesis: knowledge becomes overcoded with affective images that reduce the efficacy of thought by burdening it with so many coefficients of values. This instructs us on a difference between the historian of science and the epistemologist: the former considers the errors of a previous mode of thought to still constitute facts insofar as they entail real investments and beliefs. The latter, however, proceeds to link facts to a system of ideas that can show how these errors harbor a specific power of the problematic insofar as they represent counter-thoughts. Thus Bachelard believes that truly scientific knowledge always mobilizes its forces against previous knowledge.

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