Demodulation. There is always a monadic resonance to which a repetition is coupled in order to form a motor or compose an operational line, assembling at the limit a free phylum of machine interconnectivity. Every machine an operator or operand of another functional aggregate, assigned to an eternal repetition of variability, sweeping out a transversal trajectory through a self-constructing milieu of heterogeneous forces. The abstract machine injects new consistencies into turbulence, extruding flowing lines of fusion and mixture or extracting curved planes of development and organization; filtering out novel functions, concepts or compositions, refactoring or creating in contact with an outside. But does the abstract machine not express mutability in another way — by extending and exponentiating the variadic series of genetic practices (art, science, philosophy…)? Decrypting the image of thought again, in a virtual torsion of equal depth and power — art, science, philosophy, x…? Yet again is it not also the shadow falling upon the modulation of knowledges, eclipsing every enclosed topology determining discursive territories or structuring disciplinary forms? An abstract machine is indeed the shadow of a people to come, of a cosmic science-art-philosophy; unleashing at least in its virtual potentiality a deimaged and meteoric creativity, with a future beyond the terrestrial continuum of variadic practices and discourses.
The essence of a channel is to transmit, to disseminate, to yield a flux. The problem of knowledge is correlative to constructing an adequate channel for the reception of an idea, the “proper medium” for a thoughts’ proliferation. Expressed in this way the “idea” is only an ideal problem, which in reality takes on an unsettling and radical complexity. The pure and implacable universality of the idea gives way to the realization of the innumerable fissures and leaks comprising the real — and quite organic — larval origin of thought.
A kind of thought which, to be sure, still does not issue from myself, and which is neither memory nor imagination, but is rather a thought which breaks through, which traverses me. Hence the universal is always shot through with contingency, a pure implacability which rests precisely upon history, upon the conquering, the decimation of nomad flows indecently refusing to conform. The drive to systematically master desire, for a generalized and radical constructivism, the subtle and uncanny “inner” dynamism of our age, is bent upon a wholesale transformation of the fundamental essence of humanity.
The breakdown of this machine, this doom upon the universal, is perhaps capable of reproducing itself virally — even as a snapshot of an image of thought in the very process of decomposing (and in relation to which all philosophical gestures seem but supplications, and — so much more rarely — vindications.)
A new medium always is, it must be, painstaking crafted: for once forged, a channel exists only the precondition of a flow, and even upon the continuity of the flux.
I want to think the concrete peculiarity, the absolute singularity of any channel as such. The continuous flow of water through the machinery of a dam, of a pipe; the unending drift of signals across our always-on global information networks.
The channel faces every military risk imaginable: takeover, subversion, blockade. But it also faces every theoretical risk imaginable: hyper-specialization, perversion, madness.
Yet the truth is that a channel is only and always a meta-channel, an assemblage, a channeling machine blending very different channels together, and which itself forms a channel in relation to even greater such channels. Whether of water, cement, metal pipe, twisted cable or realized in the very trembling of air molecules, the channel compels us to turn towards what remains, what is not swept away by the flows.
Notes on the Preface of Laruelle’s Critique of Deleuze
“There is reason to revolt against the philosophers,” this is where philosophy, in its greatest triumph, only further encourages itself. This is the moment, when philosophy perhaps no longer recognizes the autonomy of science and art, that it denies their autonomy, and with the utmost subtlety.
Francois Laruelle, “I, the Philosopher, Am Lying: A Response to Deleuze”
Deleuze has discovered a secret — the secret or the property of philosophy, a secret which gives us the impression that it is very old and that it has been lost. He discovers the philosophical idiom, which now becomes alien to itself, but which remains an idiom precisely because it has become the language of the infinite. The language of the good news is absolutely private and absolutely universal. Their coincidence is the peak of the self-contemplation of the philosophical community. Hence the horror displayed towards transcendent artifacts like consensus and communication.
Francois Laruelle opens the preface of his remarks on Gilles Deleuze by stating that it is necessary to thank Deleuze for having said so clearly that philosophical discussion is neither interesting, or perhaps even possible, unless it is directed towards an outside of thought.
This praise should be read with more than a slight nuance. For Laruelle goes on to argue that the authors of What is Philosophy? have another interest than directing thought towards an outside: namely, in what Laruelle distinguishes as “laying claim to philosophical naivete.” [Laruelle, “I, the Philosopher, Am Lying: A Response to Deleuze” 1] Laruelle declares the object of such naivete to be to force us in the corner, figuratively speaking — to make us give up the secret to our tricks. They do it so well, it works.
The effect is generic, perhaps even all-too-human: through its innocent provocation, the laying-claim to “philosophical naivete” itself inevitably calls for the clarification of anyone else’s ultimate presuppositions as regards their own relationship to philosophy. Laruelle calls this “innocent” laying-claim a paradox — Deleuze abandons disputation, while succumbing to the worst excesses of communication.
It would still be wholly necessary, notes Laruelle, to explain the reasons for abandoning communication, and precisely in terms of the reality of thought. Laruelle notes Deleuze’s behavior in this case is symptomatic: the ashes of a critique of communication end up communicating only the reasons for abandoning communication.
Laruelle is rigorous on this point in particular: philosophy, if it it is able to pass for the paragon of dogmatism, the most complete form, is also that which inscribes communication, “relation,” into the essence of Being.
Here we are asked to consider Leibniz, and his concept and practice of communication. They are dogmatic and destroy themselves, Laruelle says, for they are communicated from his philosophy itself.
But what about Deleuze? It is the same paradox in reverse which affects Deleuze’s philosophy, Laruelle argues. A great deal is communicated, little understood — and even less utilized. And so perhaps, Laruelle continues, the problem is undecidable, at least in philosophical terms, since each philosophy defines for itself a concept of “communication.”
By doing so, they scramble any codes which would allow an “objective” evaluation of both communicational and non-communicational powers.
The combination of these powers, along with the power of miscommunication, defines the philosophical, according to Laruelle.
This book, What is Philosophy?, is highly anticipated, critically acclaimed, and widely successful — in short, completely assured of its own force. It makes the affect of the philosophical depend upon science and art, but not “themselves” or practically, rather upon the philosophical concept of science or art. Not upon geology, but the philosophical concept of geology; not upon x, but the philosophical concept of x. Philosophy denies the autonomy of science and art, declares their immanent practices without concepts to be heretical.
This is the point, precisely, where philosophy encourages itself to deny the autonomy of art and science with even more subtlety: Laruelle observes the “concordant” style of the work, its “local” style of reciprocal respect. He grants this is undoubtedly that within it which is opposed to communication — but is it not, he declares, also its most unapparent ruse, its greatest danger, and also the remedy itself for whoever knows how to identify in it — this last sleight of hand?
The self-affirmation of philosophy does nothing but trouble other philosophers.
Laruelle wonders: how do we make this immaculate book into a problem — a new type of problem, since it’s already the solution to the problem of what a problem is?
Suppose there is a book, Laruelle says, and that it is called What is Philosophy? Suppose further that it claims to respond to this question, and through its own existence, in its very manifestation.
It would therefore be impossible to discuss the book, because it would be at the very center of philosophy, and philosophy would be at the very center of this book. Because one does not converse with God, one does not communicate with natural phenomena.
One does not argue with Spinoza.
This book is absolute, Laruelle writes.
It has written, spoken, and made itself into a response to this question: ‘what can a book do — what can a philosophy book do, especially?’
In other words, it can do nothing but auto-write, write itself right in front of you.
And so, Laruelle asks, what could readers do — but get off on a philosophy being done without them?
Laruelle admits he can no longer give in to the tone of Deleuze’s voice, that is: if it is indeed a question of doing what they’ve done, rather than saying what they’ve said.
And perhaps, Laruelle quips, there still remains one last situation they have not foreseen: really doing what they have said they have done, or what they have only done by saying it, once again mixing doing and saying under the name of ‘creation’ — as all philosophers have.
It remains to do the immanence they say, Laruelle asserts. Laruelle is clear about the point here: not to comment on the work, not to make a problem of it, is “perhaps to no longer want to do something besides what they have done.”
Is it still perhaps possible, Laruelle asks, to really do what they have thought to do?
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 things without teaching them you will make them seem to know much, while for the most part they know nothing, and as men filled, not with wisdom, but with the conceit of wisdom, they will be a burden to their fellows.
Plato, Phaedrus 275a-b
If we speak language, then it is at least equally true that our languages speak us — even up to that extreme sense wherein language becomes actual, corporeal — and so the horizons of language and of writing cannot be the same as the limits of thought. Yet there is a single abstract machine underlying both thought and language.
Language is neither a channel, a signal, nor a noise. For if language is a channel, then language channels us — it becomes a closed loop, thought = language = being. The result: only intensive realities, only qualities — we’ve isolated the durational aspect of being, a consequence of self-transformation or self-affection.
On the other hand, if language is born from pure noise, it situates itself within us, finds somewhere between and inside us to become a station… Noise clears, but does not disclose, or does so only darkly, ambiguously.
Language transmits us — what does this mean? Nothing more than that language is not a medium, not communication — but a relational attitude to the world, a turning towards an immanent and essential reality.
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 for 21st-century readers. We cannot simply forget the history of writing, which is also the history of humanity — a spirit which is more like a ghost successively inhabiting our bodies, then our writing-instruments, then our machines, and next…?
Science, Information and Time
There are no whole truths: all truths are half-truths. It is trying to treat them as whole truths that plays the devil.
Alfred North Whitehead
It is necessary to go beyond all the pieces of spoken information; to extract from them a pure speech-act, creative story-telling which is as it were the obverse side of the dominant myths, of current words and their supporters.
It is also necessary to go beyond all the visual layers; to set up a pure informed person capable of emerging from the debris, of surviving the end of the world, hence capable of receiving into the body the pure act of speech.
Gilles Deleuze (The Time-Image)
Becoming unfolds along spatial and temporal symmetries. Biogenesis is the slow process of isolating extensive differences (from a million intensive differences) and making its form hard, becoming like a diamond or like a stone in the river — so that the difference become invisible to the stream, to the flow, but resists and therefore modifies the flow imperceptibly. Continue reading
Theorem: the history of science obeys the law of diminishing returns. The first attack on the narcissism of science…
Second: if we examine the set made of the problem and of the actions that transform it, there is no doubt that it is, at the beginning, more complex than the thing itself or the process. Clearer perhaps, yet more complicated. The question can then be reexamined in order to try to illuminate this new complexity and maybe, to transform it. Thus we form a set: the chain seems unending. The strategies of intervention, the interruption of the process or of the thing, observation that seeks to clarify, photon bombardment, the inseparable association of the knowers and the known–all make complexity increase, the price of which increases astronomically. A new obscurity accumulates in unexpected locations, spots that had tended towards clarity; we want to dislodge it but can only do so at ever-increasing prices and at the price of a new obscurity, blacker yet, with a deeper, darker shadow. Chase the parasite–he comes galloping back, accompanied, just like the demons of an exorcism, with a thousand like him, but more ferocious, hungrier, all bellowing, roaring, clamoring.
Have I described the elementary link of a system of knowledge or its pathology? I do not know. Anyway, it makes work, gives sustenance. One parasite drives out another. The second attack on the narcissism of scientists. The shadow brought by knowledge increases by one order of magnitude at every reflection.
Can we henceforth do without an epistemology of the parasite?
Michel Serres, The Parasite 17