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.
Is mathematics discovered or invented? But what if we have misplaced the scent from the start; in other words what if this clear distinction elides the process itself, if the particular and immanent relation between invention and discovery forms the basis of the ‘singularizing’ expression involved in a new mathematical proof? But a rigorous diagram of novelty itself, of the Event, seems to escape the boundaries of mathematical thought. Ontology is not the royal road to reality, any more than dreams are a singular road the unconscious. In a way, it does not even seem to get us very far at all; at least in terms of understanding “truth,” that exceptional ontogenesis of knowledge and/or being, which after all constitutes what philosophers have so far approached as the ideal “problem” according to which all others are to be modeled, and to which the creation of any new concepts must invariably be induced to correspond.
Risk. The utter annihilation of the soul is an unavoidable stage of becoming human. The human soul is restless, without certainties — at least until it has finally inoculated itself to the world, jamming any channels still open to the outside.
Nihil. Philosophy is a whirlwind from which very little can escape; the breaks are not always where they appear to be! A pure negation of philosophy remains pure philosophy; it is coded in the same semiotic, an inverse. Even suspending this decision (to separate essence from appearance) is still a philosophical position. Finally, even if we manage to truly escape philosophy and found a new science which could in turn truly take the “human” science of philosophy and grasp it as raw experimental material, the risks of a new asceticism corresponding to this “higher” rigor are nearly unavoidable. All these risks are not unlike those Nietzsche or Deleuze are continually warning us about. The worst consequence of nihilism is not necessarily that of forgetting our philosophy in our despair; rather there is a stranger, more uncanny possibility — that the pious suspension of philosophy would be capable of sweeping reality away along with it, abandoning us in some non-human plane of transcendent nullity, enslaved to transparent emptiness and arcane jargon. Nonetheless, a positive “nihilism” undoubtedly constitutes an ideal space for the creation of a new kind of science capable of grasping in turn any human science, and even philosophy itself.
Supplements. What is true cannot change; what changes cannot be truth — is this not the miserable dream in which too many have diffused their cleverness?
Stellar Cartographies has contributed a much-needed translation of one of Albert Lautman’s essays on mathematical reality. Notable themes include Russel, Wittgenstein, Carnap, the Vienna School, Hilbert, philosophy of science, axiomatics, hypercomplex numbers and, you betcha, mathematical reality. Be sure to check this out along with his other translations of Badiou’s logic courses.
“There exists, if I am not mistaken, an entire world which is the totality of mathematical truths, to which we have access only with our mind, just as a world of physical reality exists, the one like the other independent of ourselves, both of divine creation.
“By keenly confronting the enigmas that surround us, and by considering and analysing the observations that I have made, I ended up in the domain of mathematics. Although I am absolutely without training in the exact sciences, I often seem to have more in common with mathematicians than with my fellow artists.
Stellar cartographies has translated two different selections of course notes from Badiou’s lectures circa 1980-82 here and here. This translation is short, but extremely concise, so there’s a lot of material to absorb. In particular, the notes help to explain Godel’s achievement and his theorem and offers good insight into Badiou’s own mathematico-ontological project. Definitely check it out for a quick read on a slightly neglected aspect of this philosopher’s expanding corpus. Also be sure to check out his other posts on Deleuze/Meinong, Heidegger/Lucretius, and an extremely hilarious link to Simon Critchley’s musical side project.
Metaphysics beyond Psychoanalysis
“What does it matter how many lovers you have if none of them gives you the universe?”
“Lacan never pursues purely philosophical objectives.”
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 to ask: which psychoanalysis, and how does it work? Where, when, and how much is it thinking? Where and why does it forget (merging imperceptibly here with a mythical alien outside, or fading transparently there into an empirical illusion)? From what eerily formal abyss “must” the “truth” must be continuously salvaged? Why these specific fixations, abstract algorithms and “critical” meta-languages — and in what ways are these translated (and transformed) into applications as clinical practice?
The history of psychoanalysis is a torus, and offers few instances of non-paradoxical theoretical encounters. It is in this sense that Lacan’s project of critically deconstructing the “origins” of (post-Freudian) psychoanalysis could be said to follow analogically — or even metaphorically — from Heidegger’s project of ungrounding (Platonic) metaphysics via a “detour” through the Pre-Socratics. In a different but curiously parallel way, Deleuze’s distaste for — and now subtle, now overt subversion of — Lacan, especially his analysis of desire (bordering at times on a strange kind of “power struggle” within psychoanalysis not unlike Lacan’s own break with the analysts of his early career) can indeed be said to mirror Levinas’ tense and passionate struggle with Heidegger over the question of desire — which, not coincidentally, Heidegger also characterizes as structured around a central lack.
In terms of contemporary theory, Laruelle and Badiou’s anti- or non-philosophy could be said to present a similarly-effective overturning of literary-deconstructive methods — we find a deceptive model of this technique in the work of Derrida, and in a different sense, the work of Deleuze and Guattari. Badiou’s position could be baldly summarized as a critique of what is really a humanistic or “centralizing,” isolationist move within theory, which claims to be the opposite, or “de-centralizing” — while ancient philosophy suffered badly from a similar “axiomatic” illusion as well, it is especially modern thinkers whose theory is built starting from a promise (instead of a premise,) and so filled with convincing but misleading interpretations of facts (rather than taking a de-subjectivized scientific position capable of producing a rigorous analysis of the “facts” of the matter.) Laruelle expresses this “inhumanism,” or post-metaphysical materialism, particularly rigorously: only science is really capable of moving thought beyond the philosophical as such.
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 come from? The history of the word may afford us a clue to this mystery. We receive the English word ‘zero’ from the French zéro which comes (along with ‘cipher’) from the Italian zefiro. The latter originates in turn from the Arabic sifr (from safira = “it was empty,” a translation of the Sankskrit sunya = “void” or “un-reality.”)