being, communication, Deleuze, immanence, language, Laruelle, naivete, paradox, philosophy

Laruelle

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.

Laruelle, ibid.

1.
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.

2.

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.

3.

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?

4.
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?

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

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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 stops. But capital is not quite this virtual flow (e.g., of electricity,) nor its abstract numerical representation — and furthermore, capital is not even the surplus energy guaranteed by distribution, or “real” profits (the actual satisfaction of desire.) Rather, capital appears in the spontaneous transfer of segments between flows of energy.

To be sure, desire makes an appearance here, too. When aspects or “internal relations” of capital grow rigid or supple, forming fields and blocks, they begin to produce breaks in the flow; this process is like an infinite division, a decoding without boundaries. Divide by zero. At some moment within history, the virtual body of capital produces an indirect appearance in the form of money, but its true appearing occurs in the gesture of acquisition, only coinciding with itself as a kind of indigestion which takes hold of the body from without.

What remains is perhaps the husk; capital “realized” is nothing but an englobing retention of matter. “Things” multiply ceaselessly: an obsessional matrix of part-objects, a machine built around “breaks” or “fissures,” places where a flow of energy breaks apart, explodes, ruptures, starts leaking from the seams. When do we discover that these apparent blockages are “really” just a species of more slowly-moving flows of energy? How does this imperceptible differential shift occur, this minimal break between the part and the flow? Is it finally “all” a question of spacings, different speeds, elliptical cycles? If indeed, we walk the thin line of supposing that neither can we presume absolute chaos, nor a fundamental harmony.

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

Purity

escaping_criticism_by_caso.jpg

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 has nothing to do with politics do not know what religion means.

Gandhi

To Gandhi’s way of thinking, self-purification is the straight and narrow path towards realizing God, the only possible means human beings have to allow them become truly and actively non-violent. Purification is not constrained to one or two kinds of activities; religion is inseparable from all human activities, as their essence or content. In order to approach truth, human beings must becomes purified; if they purify themselves, the world around them will become purified as well.

The pathway of purification therefore also leads to non-violence in all ways of life: only once we become pure of heart can we identify ourselves with any living being — even those who hate us. We can love the lowest; we can even find the strength to love our enemies:

Not until we have reduced ourselves to nothingness can we conquer the evil in us. God demands nothing less than complete self-surrender as the price for the only real freedom that is worth having. And when a man thus loses himself he immediately finds himself in the service of all that lives. It becomes his delight and his recreation. He is a new man, never’ weary of spending himself in the service of God’s creation. (MM, 30)

We may begin to grow curious at the absolute positivity Gandhi deduces from self-negation. How can surrender produce freedom? Yet Gandhi claims surrender is the price for the only freedom which is worth having. We must lose ourselves in order to find ourselves (transposed, does this imply God must be infinitely distant from us in order to discover him as truth itself? That in a way, God must die in order to be revived within us, through our spiritual self-purification?)

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Cognition, epistemology, history, multiplicity, paradox, psychosituation

On Epistemiology

Every epoch is haunted by a series of paradoxes: every social formation, every expression or formulation of knowledge is structured by that which it cannot integrate into itself. The epoch defines the series, but the paradoxes structure the limit-boundary of the epistemic situation. There is no radical exterior to a given ‘psycho-situation.’

The ‘outside of knowledge’ is not merely clouded in ignorance, obscurity, but is, in fact, paradoxically absent. There is no ‘outside’ of the historical-linguistic situation, or rather, the position of the unnameable or ‘uncounted’ within the situation is already the structure of a paradox from the standpoint of that historical epistemic formation.

I must immediately clarify that I am not trying to establish a scheme for the division of historical eras; rather, I mean to investigate the series of human cognitive acts as an intentional evolution of the relationship between language and power. The question of what we shall call a ‘psychosituation’ is that of the interdependent reproduction of forms of truth-expression and systems of truth-repression. In other words, the epistemological schema is interwoven into the socio-political organizations as conflict; in fact, they emerge only later, as a result this paradoxical struggle, as separate, self-perpetuating, atheoretical forms of knowledge or historical formations of power. The question which can only be answered within a later psychosituation (as it is always an unresolved paradox within the episteme) is about the relationship between the ‘accidental’ multiplicity of sociality and conversation and the ‘deliberate’ generality of knowledge forms and power-relations, whether pyramidal and axiomatic or dis-associated and subtractive. Thus we are asking an epistemo-technological as much as a sociohistorical question. The boundaries of the psychosituation are formally paradoxical, which is equivalent to the impossibility of traversing, from within the given social formation or epistemological paradigm, any rational structure which is paradoxical from within the psychosituation. Since the relation between knowledge and the social (‘real’) situation exposes radically the inextricable bondage of cognitive potentiality to political, cultural and biological forms, how do we account for the true, episteme-shattering act of cognition which represents an authentic yet radical break with the traditional forms of knowledge tradition?

We shall say a psychosituation is the functioning of language/power as it (subjectively) investigates/dominates truth/the real. The psychosituation is only traversed paradoxically, that is, it is traversed at the same time it is traversed e process of technological progress as it relates to real historical development is essentially paradoxical. This is because the psycho-situation is the most real, functional unit of progress, that is, an epistemic co-ordinate: a mapping of power and technology to knowledge and ‘truth’ in a society. The given “psychosituation” is always particular, unique, an historical accident, but also an inevitable result of the resolution of earlier ‘paradoxes’ (and we’ll get into what exactly we mean by that in a second); thus the psychosituation is the multiplicity of the social relation. Thus it is a singular multiplicity; the birth of the psychosituation is the inauguration of a new language, the ground or staging for a new set of paradoxes.

The question of historical analysis, then, would seem to revolve around reconstructing narratives of previous epochs around the new psychosituation–in a sense, we see them clearer because we have the benefit of hindsight, of having many of the paradoxes which haunted earlier eras resolved. Psychosituational analysis means considering the relationship between tools, power, language, etc., and the ‘real’ web of social organization. The primary hypothesis is that we must view historical social organizations (inevitably) as positive, creative formations–the criterion is as always never whether the formation (the idea, the act, the organization or the technology) is good or bad in itself, but whether it successfully reproduces its own mode of existence, i.e., as the resolution of a paradox and the staging of new paradoxes. The present moment is an accidental conjuncture, a nonsensical sense-event, which is produced as the disjunctive epicenter of dual, interlocking corridors of non-symmetrical paradox. The structure of the paradox is both delightful and humorous as much as it is alien and horrifying because it is an epistemologically-directed ‘logic bomb.’ It is aimed at the heart of what we can and can’t know, and blurs the distinction so that no traversal is possible within the structure of the paradoxical narrative; it is a description, nonetheless, of a particular though somehow logically inconsistent universe, which causes the very reason which enabled us to comprehend the structure somehow unable to continue. The paradox does not aim to point out a contradiction in anything but truth itself; hence the convoluted ‘dual’ structure where its very particularity implies its address is universal, extending from the tiniest particles in the universes to the black holes our galaxies spin around.

An epoch cannot traverse its paradoxes, for once the traversal is made the epoch upon which they depended for their staging disappeared; then the new paradoxes become the old paradoxes, and the stage is set for a new escape. But ultimately this is inadequate, right? Let’s say paradoxicality possesses a rational structure which yet cannot be traversed by reason; you could say paradoxes are post-sensical. There is no escape from the structure of paradox–which we now understand as the entire process of the creation of a space between psychosituations, so there’s no escape from the epistemological present within the epistemological present, we have to go, in a sense, beyond space, beyond time. Multiplicity is the basis of paradox, the infinite depth of the original abyssal contradiction: self-interpretation; yet a paradox, The reproduction of the structure of the singular multiple establish the boundaries between epistemes at the same time it stages questions, disarms and dissolves boundaries in the same, contradictory movement–and this movement is the evolution of reason.

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