Taylor and I are pleased to present to you the initial results of an ongoing experiment: recording our theoretical jam sessions, so we could capture our thinking more immediately. We invite you to take a listen.
The 99% movement sweeping the globe is indeed something new under the sun. Little molecular revolutions, the occupations are rhizomes; in this clear revolt against neoliberal “realism” who does not see the spirit of sixty-eight, dormant for a long winter of four decades, awakening once more?
Thinkers have not only the opportunity but in many ways a profound obligation to help focus and organize the will of the people, to help inspire and to amplify revolutionary reflection and affect.
While the medium of thinking is primarily writing, nevertheless theory can help crystalize and push complex systems towards transformation — towards becoming-something-else. This transformation need not, as some might have it, be specified entirely in advance; indeed, such a specification is perhaps impossible.
The self-regulated emergence or becoming of the people’s voice through the consensual decision-making mechanism of general assembly, the thunderous roar of the people’s mic, are things that philosophy should not simply note, or even sit back and interpret, but actively encourage and assist.
Nietzsche. That joy and vision should be brought to bear even in the darkest corner of the human soul — and especially upon that within it which surges upwards and beyond the human species entirely; above the world, and so finally able to see, from a vision born of flight. –To “survey” reality as though from an impossible distance, an incommensurate height.
Joyful wisdom. Science is such that it can only truly be said to exist once many powerful and warring social and psychic desires have been tamed, coerced into accord, allowed to achieve their fragile pact. (A difficult enough thing; and, indeed, the conditions for a joyful science are still far from ripe!) The result being that a scientist, insofar as he or she is a scientist, is precisely the one who is unconcerned about whether another agrees to the “truth” of this or that proposition; in every instance it is rather the force or real function which counts, which is to say: the manner in which a given idea alters, amplifies, and re-assembles already existing systems of ideas. The production of a new semiotic system is always coupled to a wide variety of psychic and social machines, together forming a new regime of ideas along with an appropriate “pragmatics” of desire. This “image of thought,” for our purposes here, can be considered simply as a series of collective practices interwoven with a multiplicity of signifying systems, the coupling of productive processes with anti-productive processes, a conjoining of systems of pure affects with order-words. A pragmatic then is precisely a ‘process’ which can be said to function ‘structurally’ only in a heuristic and reductive sense. Indeed, the reality of thought is not a stasis or immanent emptiness but rather (or more fundamentally) a transfinite process of conception, first and fundamentally a flight into new pragmatic regimes. This a conceiving of new practices may be realized or constituted in any particular case, but only insofar as it tends to produce novel and singular functions. It is not true that the repetition of a similar effect is the origin of thinking; rather it is precisely a difference, in the last instance a shift in perspective, sometimes infinitesimal, which is required.
Permutation. An idea, an axiom, and especially a supposedly universal system, cannot help but attach to what is readily available. A finite stock; an endless and chaotic assemblage of variations, as Levi-Strauss’ famous bricoleurs: scientists, artists, philosophers, revolutionaries — what but psychosocial handy-men, making use of what is both close by and useful, what is already and what can be quickly assembled? How could we create new machines, except by utilizing the stock which remains from previous constructions (and deconstructions)?
Novel. The event is rare — is this not an inherently tragic proposition? Would not the souls to witness it discover the event branded upon them indelibly, or else lost forever? For the new can indeed induce joy; yet under different conditions it is capable of producing a strain under which a break is nearly unavoidable. –Is there breakthrough, novelty, only in extraordinary cases? Deleuze reminds us that Spinoza kept for years the coat he wore the day a young man attempted to take his life, in order to remind himself that human beings do not always love thought. That the event is rare seems a platitude; yet it can be an opening for gloomy passions, for a creeping cynicism and an uncanny piety: in short the belief that there are few beings in the world capable of the creation of new capacities — new concepts, new passions, new perceptions… But we do not know the thresholds, we are groping in the dark: the event is an event, they come in bursts, and their frequency depends on the associated rates of flow. An event is indeed infinite, but to seek a living, transcendent meaning in the pure rate of innovation is to fall prey to one of the most dangerous lures for thought today. –An infinite number of effects is not a cause; nonetheless we believe in extracting the cause from ‘within’ the effect, thinking we are ‘objective’ by thus subtracting the true cause from the field of the question, all the while we are actually subtracting the thought itself from the consciousness of thought.
Philosophy begins in aporia, with a paradox or inconsistent consensus. Thus, the most ancient metaphysical figure, which we also recognize as the most simple, the shadow of the parasite upon the unconscious: a thought which denies and provokes, which produces a paradox through its utterance, through its very way of existing. Precisely, then: a prohibition which prohibits its paradox from being thought. The most ancient trope of philosophy begins and ends with this “must,” which exceeds its limit, and so cannot “seriously” be interpreted as a prohibition. But now what does this injunction become? It functions as a portent — a premonition: do not think this now, but perhaps some day. Thus a portent in the precise sense that the paradox prohibits itself from being resolved, and so remains inextricably open, ex-posed to an outside of thought — to a possible future. A denial of the impossible — which follows as a necessary consequence of the possible. Thus the prohibition is not a “discipline” of mind but a rigorous passivity or vulnerability which allows the compulsion of a result, even against the heart’s own desires. Hence the labor, and danger, of thought.
The prohibition barring the very Thought is a portent in the literal sense that it proclaims the immanent Reality it simultaneously denies. The world is swept away and transfigured, merely by a breath, a word, a thought: the originary paradox of becoming, already giving birth to both those of language and being, of discourse and discipline. The philosopher’s stone is only an implosion; to philosophize is to make legible this indecipherable transformation, to reveal this uncanny origin of writing, and to uncover the divergent roots of sensation and signification: in short philosophy’s task today is to crack itself open… Philosophy is a vulnerability, not a power but precisely a humility before thought, a restrained reason which is finally capable of inventing a way out of the black hole, of engendering immanent becomings… We are only beginning to diagram this machine. Philosophy sometimes realizes itself to be one with its result, and poses the question of its foundational prohibition in rigorous terms as the force of a concept: this “strange” energy attending the donation of signs. We may well ask: why are we continually returning, or rediscovering this result, this symptom? Reality itself become symptom; of what origin is this “hidden” glare, this resonance, this infinite inter-mediation, this fold?
An odd but simple paradox which is immediately the production of an entire system of mixtures, a complex and diversely-constituted assemblage, rigorously but madly constructed — axiomatic and diagrammatic by turns. A machinic immanence, where we had thought to discover life; and a new humanity, where we had “only” thought to invent machines. We are moving outwards from the middle of language, turning towards an outside. The essence of language is not this journey but the sound of pure silence, the tension of the saying without a “said,” which indicates a unique vulnerability before truth: the sincerity or truthfulness which is the very donation of the sign itself; thus beyond essence or before being, this giving without a given, this ambiguity.
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?
In just the past few days, Nick from Accursed Share, Ben from Naught Thought and I have created a new joint blog gathering together translations, book reviews, commentary, reading discussions, etc. on Laruelle, speculative realism and non-philosophy called Speculative Heresy. We conceive it to be an open discussion and collection of different perspectives on this new and still slightly obscure discipline.
Generally conceived, non-philosophy is opposed to revolution which is much too often the mode associated with new philosophical decisions. Modeling the “non-” after the non- in non-Euclidean geometries, non-philosophy aims to suspend some of the fundamental axioms which support the principle of sufficient philosophy (or PSP). According to Laruelle, non-philosophy proceeds through mutation rather than revolution, and this mutation lately has taken the form of heresy (testified most explicitly in Laruelle’s The Future Christ: A Lesson in Heresy (2003)). The site is still fresh, but within the week there should be quite a few posts to sift through. Other contributors may include Stellar Cartographies and Ross from Apeiron, but we hope to include as many critical voices necessary to create a chorus (though not one which is a priori harmonious). One of the first projects we hope to proceed with includes an open discussion on Ray Brassier’s dissertation Alien Theory: The Decline of Materialism in the Name of Matter, which is more or less conceived as a defense of Laruelle’s non-philosophy. Luckily, Brassier has made his dissertation accessible online for free, so anyone can join who wishes to. The file is made available on Accursed Share, but it will also be linked to on Speculative Heresy very soon.