desire, flux, globalism, guattari, machine, materialism, Politics





On Guattari. The first ecosopher has arisen — but how to read his writings? There is not a single answer, everyone disagrees. To read Guattari without Deleuze seems like violence to the polyphonous fury of their mutually-authored works; yet to read Deleuze and Guattari seems like according primacy to the philosopher, to the authority of philosophy over psychoanalysis — asserting the traditional prerogative of philosophy over science, with the usual absent-minded condescension, a perverse kind of triumphant naivete. Our new ecosopher shrinks into the background of the literary uproar he is unleashing.


The strange power of Guattari’s writings is such that his works are less collections than whirlwinds, less toolboxes than roaring vortexes one is apt to be drawn violently towards: to study Guattari is neither a coincidence nor an accident (for an English academic) but rather a symptom, even a political symptom. Perhaps simply an indication of the self-destructive desire inherent to global capitalism in which the dissemination  of essentially “anti-capitalist” literature is not simply allowed but in fact widely promoted — the faint glimmer of global Renaissance. But I think Guattari might remind us of something else.


Political struggle is more than a linguistic struggle, a struggle with texts and pure concepts. It is of course involved with these things, but even more than these signifying systems, political resistance connects with the a-signifying as well, an order of reality more primordial than human meaning, where the distinctions imposed upon reality by our signifying regimes are rendered irrelevant and secondary. Where the cosmos as a process of production becomes perceptible, where the inhuman asignifying order of reality emerges, we may perhaps catch a glimpse of the future dreamed by our first ecosopher.


To have to emphasize that the asignifying isn’t the insignificant, but the non-signifying, we realize that already, we have hit the white wall. Misunderstanding is a symptom both of the origin and the impossibility of meaning. The gap between us here is not simply an aspect of the mobile wall of obstacles Guattari has prepared for his students, but already of the even more intransigent obstacles of history, society, economy — in short, the entire political “problem” of desire. A history of desire is difficult yet not impossible, but it does not begin by asking what desire is, pretending some kind of perfect and external objective viewpoint.


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

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


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 perfect physical causes; and again because one’s mind may enjoy very special relations established between effects in a situation of pure exteriority… The question becomes: what are these expressive relations of events?

Gilles Deleuze, Logic of Sense 169-170

It is no more desirable, if it is even possible — and there is no more absurd “if possible”! — to liberate the soul from fear than to rescue the body from suffering. Could there be a courage without cruelty, and a pure joy devoid of violence? Terror, like joy, paralyzes, breaks reason apart — it distracts with a simulation. Not the void, but the unformed, is the origin of sorcery. We admit the dimension of the terror of the inhuman appears entirely negative, a sickness — a peculiarly “human” horror of the unknown. Lygophobia. Freud called it a manifestation of separation anxiety. The demand for certainty is part of the basic text of human nature. The will to truth is thus paradoxically a kind of poesis, a creative fire driving out the darkness. At the limit of metaphysical interpretation, light signifies pure love, it rips apart the bonds of meaning, it is pure signification itself, the voice or song of the universe — and the noisy soul responding. And it is with a second and far blacker paradox that counter-signification reaches a point of critical mass, where the absolute “material” of destructive terror — brought to an unbearable intensity by a fixated or excessive gaze, by a dangerous exposure (to noise, light…) — is transformed all at once into the positive, immanent criteria for science, that is: for a dangerous and powerful thinking of the real.

Thus at the deconstructed origin of analysis we find a deferral. It is not enough to say deconstruction must be deconstructed. We must be clear: analysis breaks and we desire this specifically. It is part of the text. It’s how literature begins. In psychological terms, we are always about to discover “it” was already broken. Exactly: where it was… But if there is a productive diagram of science itself, its constitutive disjunction may be witnessed in this joyous cruelty of overturning analysis: anti-philosophy, drawing finite boundaries, inventing counter-positions. Experiment! A quantum riot, metaphysical terrorism, a billion home-made atom bombs. It’s how science begins. We know it can be done, but is it enough? There is no answer to this question. You cannot know in advance whether or not an experiment will succeed. But here there is still much for philosophy to do — not say, for even in saying, philosophy still must do.

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

Aristotle and Light


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 as a mere concomitant but in virtue of the contemplation; for this is in itself precious. Happiness, therefore, must be some form of contemplation.


What is reason? Aristotle tries many times to answer this question; but perhaps most vivid and penetrating among his responses is the spiritual “answer” he offers in the conclusion of the Nicomachean Ethics. There we find Aristotle claiming that the exercise of human reason cultivates ‘something’ in the human animal which is the “best and most akin” to God (1179a11). God loves and honors those who love and honor reason: those who “care for the things that are dear to them” and act “both rightly and nobly” (1179a14). In this sense the philosopher is dearest to God (1179a17) and is the one who “will presumably also be the happiest,” moreso — potentially, anyway — than any other (1179a18).

Why may we presume the philosopher’s life to be happiest? Even assuming he were to possess the virtues attendant upon a cultivated exercise of reason, does this ensure him a happy life, even the happiest of lives? Aristotle repeatedly acknowledges the serious difficulties barring the way to human happiness, perhaps most importantly our need for external sustenance. (It seems clear to Aristotle that it would be difficult to contemplate anything but food if you are starving — thus leisure, freedom from activity, is an essential requirement for contemplation.) Yet in this respect, too, the life of the philosopher is superior, even to other men of virtue, since his virtues require neither money nor power in order to be recognized.

Indeed, the philosopher’s contemplation may even be hindered by the sorts of conditions and resources which allow other kinds of natures the opportunity to exercise their highest virtue — money for the liberal man, power for the brave man, a tempting hint for the temperate man, and so on (1178a28). Moreover, despite the human need to attend to the health of our bodies, “we must not think that the man who is to be happy will need many things or great things, merely because he cannot be supremely happy without external goods; for self-sufficiency and action do not involve excess, and we can do noble acts without ruling over earth and sea; for even with moderate advantages one can act virtuously (this is manifest enough; for private persons are thought to do worthy acts no less than despots–indeed, even more); and it is enough that we should have so much as that; for the life of the man who is active in accordance with virtue will be happy.” (1179a11)
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capitalism, commodity fetishism, consumption, Debord, image, isolation, marxism, materialism, May 68, reification, representation, separation, simulacrum, Society of the Spectacle, spectacle, Theory / Philosophy

Notes to Guy Debord’s Society of the Spectacle: Chapters 1 and 2

Separation Perfected

But certainly for the present age, which prefers the sign to the thing signified, the copy to the original, representation to reality, the appearance to the essence…illusion only is sacred, truth profane. Nay, sacredness is held to be enhanced in proportion as truth decreases and illusion increases, so that the highest degree of illusion comes to be the highest degree of sacredness.
–Feuerbach, Preface to the second edition of The Essence of Christianity

Feuerbach—copy/original—simulacrum—Deleuze and Baudrillard?
Accumulation of spectacles—”All that once was directly lived has become mere representation” (12).
Detached images enter into a common stream—partial aspects of reality congeal into a pseudo-world set apart as object of contemplation/autonomous image where deceit deceives itself–autonomous movement of non-life.
Three aspects of the spectacle—society itself/parts of society/means of unification. This is the place of false consciousness because it is where all consciousness converges–it is merely the official language of generalized separation
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body, caress, cruelty, difference, ethics, geometry, God, image, joy, materialism, Politics, power, sex, the void

Power and Cruelty, Difference and Sexuality: Towards a New Sexual Politics

Reproductive knowledge is power itself. Self-organizing, libidinal desire is the only kind worth (re)producing. Sexual desire annuls systems of control, unties authority, opens the future itself to re-ordering. It unleashes a molecular intensity which vibrates across orders of scale, provokes spontaneous self-organization. Reproduction is entire, mystically whole in its transversal rejuvenation. Paternity is miraculous, the creation of the world. How to teach one’s children is also how to make children. We must close down mythologies, we must assert a materialist sexual politics.

We cannot get lost in writerly festivals of cruelty. The real cruelties are far more dangerous and useful. Reading and writing are double-operators with a single form: the disclosure of desire, the inscription of machinic reproductions within distributed networks of sensorimotor molecules. The textual body is made no differently than the work speaks; the segmentations are isomorphic, not only existentially but essentially one. Yet by the tiniest differences between the text and itself, by what we would call the text’s inner urging or the body’s desire — by this difference we find interpretation overcoming, translating, reformulating the text through the body, the world through the idea.
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