All posts filed under: Politics

‘The Mother or Her Substitute’: Sexuality and Self-preservation in Huxley’s ‘Anti-world’

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Politics

–Our Ford—or Our Freud, as, for some inscrutable reason, he chose to call himself whenever he spoke of psychological matters—Our Freud has been the first to reveal the appalling dangers of family life. The world was full of fathers—was therefore full of misery; full of mothers—therefore of every kind of perversion from sadism to chastity; full of brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts—full of madness and suicide (Huxley, p. 39). For all of its fictional recasting of […]

Exchange

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culture / machine / ontology / Politics / work

Markets effect the generalized dispersion and annihilation of collective power.  Along with the material inputs to industrial production, labor is brutally dismantled by the process, decrypted, dissolved; we sink into the soil or melt into the sky (to become plague-vector of planetary toxicity.) Creation disappears beneath commerce, enfolded within the commodity, its tiny molecular flux occluded by continuous and irruptive exchange. Work in every sense today is turned by the market against itself, against people, […]

Utopian

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becoming / metaphysics / Politics / sickness / thinking / utopia

“[U]topia is a fictive representation of an ideal social structure…”[1] Michel Serres names heaven the rejoining of the rational and the real. Is there not truly a disquietingly infinite distance between the celestial dream of this adjoining and the hell we have made of the world? What then is the utopian? A first provisional approach might highlight temporal disjunction, utopia as uchronia: a no-when as well as a no-where; utopia denoting a world, a city, a […]

Speculative Materialisms: Thinking the Absolute with Meillassoux and Guattari

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guattari / Meillassoux / Politics / speculation / utopia

          Quentin Meillassoux’s recent work After Finitude comes as a breath of fresh air for those who have been languishing under the dominant regimes of philosophy today.  Meillassoux claims to be able to resuscitate the “great outdoors” of pre-Critical Cartesian philosophy, one that would both forgo the correlationist impulses of the Kantian tradition as well as the necessity of an all-knowing, veracious God to legitimize the representational content of consciousness.  To access this “great outdoors,” […]

Theory 1: Epigrams and Involutions

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becoming / Deleuze / language / Nietzsche / ontology / Politics

Theory 1: Epigrams and Involutions “When I’m dreaming back like that I begins to see we’re only all telescopes.” Joyce, Finnegan’s Wake “We have to learn to think differently — in order at last, perhaps very late on, to attain even more: to feel differently.” Nietzsche, Daybreak, II.103 “The greater part of the world’s troubles are due to questions of grammar.” Montaigne Preface. These collected epigrams, my thoughts of the morning — and occasionally late evening — this […]

New Serres in English: Biogea from Univocal

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biology / daybreak / irreversibility / language / Politics / Serres

“Always the same. This history could make a rock cry from boredom and death. How sad that history seems when faced with the crystalline and floral diversity of things; how often human history seems monotonous in comparison to the enchanting adventures of the world.” (Michel Serres, Biogea) The presses at Univocal have caught fire lately. This first English translation (thanks to Randolph Burks) of a major work of Michel Serres, the Biogea, thunders with the […]

Occupy Theory!

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becoming / event / interconnection / language / philosophy / Politics / self-organization / society

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 […]

Genesis

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capitalism / death / difference / disaster / expressivity / future / health / humanity / language / machine / metaphysics / modernity / nihilism / Politics

Genesis. Enormous psychosocial and political transformations were necessary in order to put into place the global transhistorical capitalist institutions we take for granted. Capitalism is different, genetically as it were, from all previous ways of organizing human society. It dissolves society in favor of the decoded flows of pre-individual traits and elements which will form abstract labor and commodities. This dissolution is what previous forms of society had attempted to prevent. They had precisely developed […]

Guattari

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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 […]

The Transformation of Psychoanalysis

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guattari / machine / machinic unconscious / ontology / Politics

From the back cover of Guattari’s L’Inconscient machinique (1979): The transformation of psychoanalysis into an essential component of the social order does not justify the renunciation of every analysis of the unconscious; no more than the deadends of revolutionary movements imply the generalized desertion of politics. Finishing with the tyranny of the cogito, accepting that material, biological, social assemblages are capable of “engineering” (machiner) their own kind and creating heterogenous complex universes: such are the conditions […]

Overcome

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continuity / modernity / noise / ontology / Politics / question / reality / signal / silence / state / subtraction

  A situation tends to bring about the specific conditions of its overcoming. Thus advances in transportation and telecommunication technologies are slowly bringing about not only the collapse of the classical temporal and spatial interval as such, the annihilation of the discrete; but also a simultaneous collapse of classical distribution or dissemination as such, a self-destruction of the sign through optimal transmissivity, and hence finally the death of the voice along with the signal, the […]

Family contra the State: Problematizing Aristotle and Confucius

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Aristotle / ontology / Politics

“..for the relationship between people and government is the most pervasive ideal relationship upon which commerce between teacher and pupil, lord and servants, father and family, general and soldier, master and apprentice have unconsciously been modeled.”—Friedrich Nietzsche.  For centuries, the history of philosophy has explored the general opposition set up between Occidental and Oriental philosophy, especially concerning their respective “origins.” Generally speaking, it has been assumed that Western and Eastern philosophies differ over the metaphysical […]

Friendship and the State

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Aristotle / friendship / justice / Politics

 In chapter 9 of book III of the Politics, Aristotle discusses the general relation between justice and the state. In the course of examining the relation of equality and inequality, Aristotle proposes that the state “exists for the sake of a good life, and not the sake of life only” (1279b31-32). Notice that the good is already predicated of the state in this statement, and it is because of this bias that Aristotle will conclude: […]

On Recognition, or Why Dogs Make Great Philosophers

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justice / Plato / Politics / sameness / the Republic

There are various moments in the Republic, especially in book II which we will focus on here, where justice is elusively illustrated according to those to whom justice is attributed, i.e. proceeding from types which partake in or lay claim to justice and showing by example not only the essence of justice but how it is in itself good. Now, obviously all of this is evident from the text and does not require repeating except […]

Notes on Totality and Infinity

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being / blanchot / ethics / event / exteriority / future / gleam / Hegel / history / infinity / judgment / levinas / peace / Politics / totality / vision

Does objectivity, whose harshness and universal power is revealed in war, provide the unique and primordial form in which Being, when it is distinguished from image, dream and subjective abstraction, imposes itself on consciousness? Is the apprehension of an object equivalent to the very moment in which the bonds with truth are woven? Levinas I will not say that the disaster is absolute; on the contrary, it disorients the absolute. It comes and goes, errant […]

Invisible Writing

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alterity / desire / difference / freedom / imperceptible / language / metaphysics / nobility / outside / Politics

The outside, or Other, is accorded an incomparable eminence in the work of Emmanuel Levinas. In his penetrating account, metaphysics desires an elsewhere. It persists within an alibi, in which we assert true life as absent. But then our idea of the other would seem to hinge upon the imperceptible — that is, upon an Other which is not other like the bread I eat, or the land in which I dwell. It is not […]

Hegel and Universality

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awareness / Hegel / justice / language / law / levinas / objectivity / ontology / Politics / reason / society / teaching / time / tyranny

[Photograph by Will Godfrey] In an essay Hoffmeister suggests was written in 1808 or 1809, Hegel — certainly not without some irony — identifies an important ethical connection between abstract thought and power: Who thinks abstractly? The uneducated, not the educated. Good society does not think abstractly because it is too easy, because it is too lowly (not referring to the external status) — not from an empty affectation of nobility that would place itself […]

Outside

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alterity / awareness / being / difference / inequality / inhumanity / language / levinas / love / metaphysics / Politics / reason / truth / tyranny / Uncategorized / violence

The relation between me and the other commences in the inequality of terms, transcendent to one another, where alterity does not determine the other in a formal sense… It is produced in multiple singularities and not in a being exterior to this number who would count the multiples. The inequality is in this impossibility of the exterior point of view, which alone could abolish it. The relationship that is established–the relationship of teaching, of mastery, […]

Explosions in the Sky

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ego / freedom / humanity / justice / other / peace / philosophy / Politics / truth / war

Common to both capitalism and democracy is competition as the basic principle of social organization. Politics in a purely competitive key has a majoritarian ring — it is monistic, totalizing, self-absorbed — whereas philosophy from the competitive perspective — and we may wonder whether there have yet been any others — are egologies. The complementary model, or sharing, has been more frequently preached than practiced. Yet it is the meaning of language: the demand for […]

Difference, Primacy and Peace: Deleuze and Levinas

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courage / death / Deleuze / dialogue / filiality / identity / levinas / metaphysics / ontology / peace / Politics / state / technology / violence / war machine

Preface It is perhaps time to see in hypocrisy not only a base contingent defect of man, but the underlying rending of a world attached to both the philosophers and the prophets. Levinas, Totality and Infinity 24 I have no wish to soften the saying that to write lyric poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric; it expresses in negative form the impulse which inspires committed literature. The question asked by a character in Sartre’s play Morts […]

The Poetics of Psychoanalysis: Towards an Ethics of Expression

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art / cruelty / difference / language / love / metaphysics / morality / nature / Nietzsche / Politics / rigor / science

Introduction: Rationality and Affect The lofty prize Of science lies Concealed today as ever! He has no thought To him it’s brought To own without endeavor! Goethe, Faust (1st part, 2567-2572) Intelligence is a moral category. The separation of feeling and understanding, that makes it possible to absolve and beatify the blockhead, hypostasizes the dismemberment of man into functions. Praise of the simpleton has an undertone of anxiety lest the severed parts reunite and put […]

Wandering Shadows: Reflections on Morality and Madness

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architecture / banquet / language / machine / metaphysics / Nietzsche / ontology / Politics / time / unconscious / violence / wisdom

In the disparity between the awareness of unreason and the awareness of madness, we have, at the end of the eighteenth century, the point of departure for a decisive movement: that by which the experience of unreason will continue, with Holderlin, Nerval, and Nietzsche, to proceed ever deeper towards the roots of time — unreason thus becoming, par excellence, the world’s contratempo — and the knowledge of madness seeking on the contrary to situate it […]

Minority

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A Thousand Plateaus / abstract machine / becoming / Deleuze / language / machine / ontology / Politics

The scientific enterprise of extracting constants and constant relations is always coupled with the political enterprise of imposing them on speakers and transmitting order-words. Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus 101 Deleuze and Guattari admit that the notion of “minority” is very complex, with references and correlations in all dimensions of human and non-human existence. The opposition is not simply quantitative: “Majority implies a constant, of expression or content, serving as a standard measure by […]

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

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 […]

Purity

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

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 […]

Outline for a Philosophy of History

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becoming / celerity / confinement / control / history / humanity / intensity / multiplicity / nature / Politics / power / production / spirit / swarm

If we listen closely to the breath of the spirit as well as to the word of being, an entirely new kind of history may become possible. Disclosing a lethal truth (into) power, organization trembles before the disorganized generativity of decentralized multiplicity. Are we transmitting history backwards through time? Are languages transforming themselves through us? Is it by nature that we are socially-oriented creatures? Or does “humanity” on the contrary mark with precision a moment […]

Happiness or Justice? Ethics and the Politics of Friendship

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Aristotle / difference / ethics / ethnology / friendship / happiness / humanity / justice / light / Plato / Politics / science / society / spiritual evolution

No one would choose a friendless existence on condition of having all the other things in the world. Aristotle In poverty and other misfortunes of life, true friends are a sure refuge. The young they keep out of mischief; to the old they are a comfort and aid in their weakness, and those in the prime of life they incite to noble deeds. A true friend is one soul in two bodies… ibid There is […]

Outline of Aristotle’s Ethics

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Aristotle / character / classical philosophy / ethics / eudamonia / happiness / justice / law / Plato / Politics / virtue

“We make war that we may live in peace.” Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics — 1177b (Book X, Chapter 7) Let’s try to understand this work first through the method by which its project is assembled, the way the text functions. In general Ta Ethika has three phases or stages of development: (a) a general, in-depth study of the “good” and the “good life”; (b) an analysis of moral virtue or excellence; and (c) an investigation into […]

Temporality and Power: The Politics of Absence

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alterity / concept / critique / ethics / infinity / language / metaphysics / morality / ontology / Politics / power / production / theory / time

In the relation of the human being to language, a process is reflected that extends to the relation of the human being to beings in general: The scientific knowledge has become the standard knowledge! The other: thinking, spirit of language, history, culture is still there, yet dragged along into a certain indeterminateness. It is decisive that the consciousness was lost as to where this other belongs and of what kind must the reflection be in […]

Being and Revolution

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critique / decision / determination / epoch / expression / freedom / history / illusion / Marx / metaphysics / networks / Politics / practice / production / religion / slavery / struggle / Thought

  The materialist doctrine concerning the changing of circumstances and upbringing forgets that circumstances are changed by men and that it is essential to educate the educator himself. This doctrine must, therefore, divide society into two parts, one of which is superior to society. The coincidence of the changing of circumstances and of human activity or self-changing can be conceived and rationally understood only as revolutionary practice. Karl Marx

Event and Decision at Claremont Graduate University

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badiou / Claremont / conference / Deleuze / ontology / Politics / Whitehead

Joe and I arrived in California on Wednesday for the conference on Badiou, Deleuze, and Whitehead concerning ontology and politics. On Thursday, Justin Clemens and Oliver Feltham (both translators of Badiou) gave a wonderful paper on a rapprochement between Deleuze and Badiou (focusing on the Logic of Sense and Being and Event–seemingly a strange synthesis at first). One of the juicier comparisons was made when Justin reminded us that Deleuze’s nonsense–that which says its own […]

Cyborg Nietzsche: Conscience, Affect, Transvaluation

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algebra / complexity / decay / diagnosis / ethics / insanity / language / literature / machine / mathematics / Nietzsche / Politics / prejudice / psychoanalysis / schizophrenia / Science / Mathematics / Technology / society / structure / transformation / truth / unconscious

Part One: Criticism and Untruth-Machines A. Neurosis and Transcendence: the Algebra of Bad Conscience We are healed of a suffering only by experiencing it in full.  Marcel Proust For Nietzsche, uncovering the peculiar logic of the unconscious, revealing the function of this or that unobserved striving, would only form part of the analysts’ role. A rich, analytic transformation of the real space of mental (political) activity is the full meaning of diagnostic criticism. Any real […]

Nietzsche and the Capture and Domestication of Peoples

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apparatus of capture / culture / custom / decay / democracy / genealogy / image of thought / individual / instrumentality / Nietzsche / nomad / overman / Politics / power / religion / society / sovereignty / state / unground / universal / universal politics / utopia / war / war machine / warrior / Zarathustra

  “You shall obey—someone and for a long time: else you will perish and lose the last respect for yourself”—this appears to me to be the moral imperative of nature which, to be sure, is neither “categorical” as the old Kant would have it (hence the “else”) nor addressed to the individual (what do individuals matter to her?), but to peoples, races, ages, classes—but above all to the whole human animal, to man (Beyond Good […]

Zarathustra and Genealogy: Where the State Ceases…

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apparatus of capture / genealogy / Nietzsche / nihilism / nomads / overman / Politics / state / warrior / will to power / Zarathustra

In Book 1 of Thus Spoke Zarathustra, there is a speech on the state (“Of the New Idol”) that is surrounded by a speech on war and the warrior prior to it and also a speech “On the Flies of the Marketplace” following it. All three speeches in a way need to be read together (not only in order but also juxtaposed in other ways) to be fully understood. Having said that, I want to […]

Nietzsche’s Social Ontology: (Un)harnessing the Chaos

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coding / Deleuze / grand politics / guattari / individuality / instrumentality / Laruelle / Nietzsche / ontology / Politics / society

The individual is a chaos necessary to every political and social order, a chaos enveloped in a structural social machine. This chaos should be distinguished from a random distribution of intensities or an undifferentiated aggregate but instead should be thought of as overdetermined. From our point of view (against a flow of power that remains obscure in origin) this is precisely the problem that must be addressed according to the collective nature of the individual, […]