acceleration, code, light, metaphysics, spirit

Notes towards a Metaphysics of Light

Alchemy-2012-07-13-11-34-38 (work in progress) Neil Nieuwoudt 2012

Every tool carries with it the spirit by which it has been created. (Heisenberg)

I would like to think light as the dynamic interval between events, as a kind of singular tension between time and space, determining in the last instance both the simultaneity of the event as well as the order of succession for chains of causal relations. Light as the luminous matrix of the substrate and the glare of its utter annihilation; as the divergence of the world and the immolation of empty time; as the only term which could bridge these mutually-incomprehensible infinities — the future, the cosmos. What is it to think the photon as ontological fundament, light-like intervals as the atomic relata of eventful worlds?

For phenomenology, consciousness is the “light” in which light itself becomes visible; so from the outset we must carefully distinguish between virtual and actual light, eventuation and ideation — differentiation or diffraction of null space and repetition or refraction of empty time. The phenomenological photon can be determined through a very precise axiom: light is the term which renders intervals of space and durations of time mutually comprehensible in absolute motion. How to think this pure life at the unreachable speed of the photon, asymptote of velocity itself?

Light, then, in both senses at once: information and data, mind and matter, event and subject. The momentary madness of the act; and the perpetual motion of the waves which erase its traces. Light, then, precisely as it emerges from or falls back into space and time. The decoding of illumination as it opens onto the future, time, the world. What is needed is a new prism, a transoptical machine for calculating the conditions for the crystalline explosion of luminous impulses. We have a rainbow series of colors organized by wavelength; but what is needed is pure white light,  differential mixture of all possible values of light, simultaneously resonating with every element of the series.

An event risks being misunderstood as an actual extraordinary point. On the one hand there there are nevertheless certainly extraordinary points which fail to become actual; but there are also certain (series of) lines which develop in singular ways that evade being identifiable with punctuation, with the syntax of history. Alien symbolic matrices, foreign ontological foundations; the event is the intrusion of another scale, leakily-abstracted inter- or infrastructure, a message from an unexpected outside or inside demanding a radically foreign coding and decoding system. A new language, a new subject; but also a de-languaging, a de-subjectivation, de-individuation; in this passage to the ontological limit, the individuated subject risks being compromised by alien memories. Becoming-everything, becoming-imperceptible: the event in this sense denotes a strategic methodology for suturing reality to its outside. The spirit of an evental metaphysics is a being ontologically ‘harassed’ — compelled to differentiate the world from itself without separation or subtraction, in a manner marked by secrecy, darkness and a kind of espionage on behalf of the radical outside.

Such an integrated nodal point-subject submits all too readily to certain utterly inhuman (animal, vegetal, cosmic) relationships to the inhuman; just as it cannot resist certain ‘voidic’ ontological vortexes which engulf the structuring matrix it adheres to.What is the structure of the subject or the world — these self-interrupting, simultaneously virtual, semiotic and biological vectors; these cosmos-machines at once psychic, social and physical? Is it not the case that assemblages become visible, comprehensible in the last instance, only by way of universal history, by way of the experimental mutations of the collective assemblages of enunciation which give rise to discourses and disciplines? The structure of the subject is luminous and territorial, an intensive and topologically indeterminate zone of proximities which has to be mapped anew in each instance. (Thus the paradoxical demand upon the analyst that she generate an effective cartography of a world which isn’t there, populated by people who don’t exist yet.) The structure of a world is irreducible and opaque, a matter of intensive transversality.

To have a world is always already to be madly on the run across it, hunted for simply existing, unless perhaps… –Unless perhaps one is a spirit, or a body of light; unless perhaps I am not this body; unless I am no longer the speaker which says “I”; unless perhaps I am not here at this very moment in this text as it is being written. –Light, glare is also disappearance, traversal to the limit of perceptibility; or subtraction via the intensive reduction or n-1, the erasure of all traces of the subjectile — so that it no longer matters whether one is or is not stuttering along the ego, parroting “I-I-I…”; since at least we have pushed language to an external edge, to its (e.g.) musical or animal limit; we have made failure impossible and succeeded, even (and perhaps especially) if we fall back into triangulation. –The mediation of fantasy, the commercial, bureaucratic, familial reductions of desire in psychoanalysis, reflect a generalized and even globally-extended process of subjectivation, integrated at all costs, however intolerable or mad, into local regimes of semiotic and virtual exchange.

The node already participates with the darkness that permeates the network; every node is a ‘terminal’ point, a vector between the system and the world and between the system and itself — at once the flow and its interruption, the channel and its subversion. This dual differentiation permits the network-system to exist as an irreducibly generative assemblage — which is to say, neither individual or collective (both of which collapse to an individuated matrix in the last instance.) The question of the exploit is therefore primary, the essential matter of worldic, evental and subjectile effectivity and generativity. Power, or voidic and plastic generativity, discovers an infinite deferral of its own origin in this productive assembly which establishes functional inter-relationships between one or several war machines. The generativity of the collective assemblage exceeds its effectivity, it becomes expressive of modalities of existence, when permitted to establish uncertain communications channels with alien machines (with potentially wildly divergent and even mutating universes of reference and value.) The molar subject — that ‘healthy’ consciousness or prepossessed self-awareness of innately-political beings, robust with respect to some permutability of external reality and its own substrate (in other words possessing a unity of identity and differentiation of self-representation and reflected image; the capacity for deception, secrecy, falsehood, “hollowness”) — this psychic effectivity of identity can perhaps be considered as an external agency, one which establishes a kind of universal exchange between various systems of meaning.

Light, or this labyrinth leading to the black heart of the death-drive; a parasite which interrupts the flow of unconscious desire, transcoding it into a series of signifying chains, muffling the articulation of fragmentary collective enunciations. Thought and language reach towards their others and outsides in order to escape syntagmatic isolation or pragmatic identifiability — towards music, silence; towards that infinite speed of thought which manages to discover a way outside the territory. We cannot “think” the disaster, the fragmentariness of the substrate, just as we cannot think our own deaths — at least, not without paying what is perhaps the most dangerous cost exacted by a thought: the risk of the collapse of ontological coordinates or foundations, of infection by mutant or even alien universes of reference. Thinking the disaster is impossible without this risk of breaking, halting, becoming-frozen; of a radical trauma beyond reintegration. A hideous arresting of individuation; a new silence, coldness, darkness: the break risks leaving us “beyond thinking and feeling” (optical nerves burned out, ear drums ruptured.) Perceptions themselves even risk becoming ‘infested’ by alien continuities. In short: we risk no longer being able to trust the ground, the weight of things. A strange coldness and indifference radiates from the paradox, the disaster, the break; it coincides with the invasion of an alter-subject which cannot be reintegrated. An enemy within which doesn’t coincide with another personality, but a radically independent and ontologically-disruptive line of free variation which depersonalizes and distorts perceptual semiologies.

Joshua Kirch, “Concentricity” (Interactive Light Sculpture Series)

axiom, form, image, multiplicity, noise, ontology, parasite, real, spirit, theory, writing




The actual trace or cutting edge of theory is a veritable penetration into reality, not a moment but a certain force or intensity of thought which maintains its position in relationship to the real (understood as the indeterminate gap between syntax and spirit, or between an axiom and the imaginative power which both conditions and evades its’ grammar.) Reality and image, disjoint but co-present, conjoined only asymmetrically at specific suture points of flux: a coiled loop of time.

This self-interrupting dimorph-system, the ‘formal’ figure of the parasite, is a property of not only every formal system but of formality itself, of the very essence of form; it undermines and coerces the event of transformation itself, as only a symptom of fate, of time. A feeling or noise which never goes away, and then suddenly disappears one day, for no reason at all — an inconsistent multiplicity, an ocean of light, a body. A writing which without being written is beyond any form, a language which without being spoken is beyond any thought. This disjunction is contact which provokes a co-evolution, an involution of every event, every moment into a single moment which effaces them.

Thought captures the self-effacing movement of the mark through a penetration or disjunction, a contact without resolution. The becoming-formal of the indeterminate displaces syntax itself: a rupture which no set of axioms, or finite set of symbols, could encompass or comprehend. This ideal object evades finite inference. No axiom grounds infinite inference, no formal system dividing propositions into nonsense and sound judgments distinguishes its subtle grammar, only constituted within this improbable trajectory from noise to sound, from sound to voice, from voice to light. A parasitic evolution which proceeds from multiplicity and marches towards the empty, the open, the blank, the possible. 

being, cur(s)e, discovery, dust, fold, gift, knowledge, language, map, speed, spirit, Thought

Special Operators

How to begin to understand? Yet what is knowledge but the degeneration of learning? “Knowledgeable” thought waits, jealously, to snatch away our hard-won jewels of real experience — why this false patience, this impatience, this now-congenital haste? Thought and speed: thinking, the very light of speed in which all distinctions are blurred, internalized, folded — made significant again, logicized, facified. As though it lived only upon a vulnerable or delicate surface, in which it consumed itself in rapture; as though it perhaps experienced another thought within its detachment which, like the widening mouth of a bell, opens onto the world. Beyond time, the force of thought resonates with an irrevocable futurity: against the fold of the other, against the driving force of time itself, thought breaks free — hearkens and follows, a service without slavery. Thought specifies operations inflecting smooth space, the domain of an essential anti-principality: invention is discovery, a dangerous Gift. To estimate the spiritual progress of man: what else but this is Thinking, that dangerous remedy, the poison which, for a time, “cures” our illegibility? –We must not behave as though everything depends upon the existence or non-existence of an element, a relation, a system, even less a linguistic machine, to anchor thought. Stop interpreting and begin to think. Defy that cur(s)e which incurs, invokes, reverts: procure the logos wrapped within a mythology, unfolded only to become — ashes, a stone, nothingness. Dust. In the place of the sacred, we have substituted this heathen diagram; against the wall the burst recoiled — the remains, artifacts, lost or fallen: a coil of rope, a cross, a star. A map to dawn. Open thought to an outside, by any and all means available. Force your way free. Open the figure, draw without tracing. Begin, again.

art, ascetic ideal, chaos, efficiency, history, humility, illusion, improvement, irony, meaning, Nietzsche, order, problem, religion, resentment, science, socrates, spirit, will to power

The Meaning of Science

What is the Meaning of Science?
Nietzsche and the History of the Human Spirit

What is problematic about science? What does the “progress” of science mean about human beings? I believe this question turns everything which is unsettling, mysterious, and uncanny about the course of human development (and not only human); who can exhaust what is figured within the folds of this strange question — science thought as a symptom, science grasped as a problem?

What obstructs this question from being thought? How do we interpret this ‘secondary’ problem which intervenes at the critical moment to derail thought — this “problem of the problem” of the meaning of science? At any rate it is clear the difficulty we encounter in formulating this problem are manifold, altogether formidable, but taken separately…? For science itself always already understands, justifies, and regulates itself in turn upon the basis of something non-scientific. Science as such is ultimately foundationless, and furthermore, this is one of its necessary conditions. This is a warning for those who would seek to regulate philosophy by means of “scientific” protocol; for these would in turn require their own justification… Which is not to say that such justification exists or should be sought after — but rather to pause right here, so that we can open up our profoundest capabilities of insight in order to ask: what is science as a problem? What is the meaning of science?

We should stop for a moment and reflect upon this question. We are looking for a meaning specific to science, but the meaning of science as it actually operates in history (and not, for instance, an abstract image of “science” considered in isolation of real problems.) We must try to seek the meaning of science in the more general context of human development, and ask what science means for the human species; or even more pointedly, what it means about what the human species has become. This question should be read as signifying science’s concealed meaning-about-us, a partial truth about what we are becoming as a species. The meaning, if we can but attune ourselves to it, indicates something real — albeit darkly, indirectly and only with constant resistance — about the “rate” and “direction” of human development. In this sense the problem of meaning of science reveals a way to diagnose civilization itself.

Continue reading

asceticism, attunement, commerce, desire, exteriority, instinct, metaphysics, Nietzsche, noise, nothingness, spirit, strength, Thought

On Asceticism


We know what the three great catchphrases of the ascetic idea are: poverty, humility, and chastity. If we now look closely at the lives of all great, prolific, inventive spirits we’ll always rediscover all three there to a certain degree. Not at all (this is self-evident) as if it were something to do with their “virtues”—what does this kind of man have to do with creating virtues?—but as the most appropriate and most natural conditions of their best existence, their most beautiful fecundity.

It is indeed entirely possible that their dominating spirituality at first had to set aside an unbridled pride or the reins of a wanton sensuality or that they perhaps had difficulty enough maintaining their will for the “desert” against an inclination for luxury, for something very exquisite, as well as a lavish liberality of heart and hand. But their spirituality did it, precisely because it was the dominating instinct, which achieves its own demands in relation to all the other instincts and continues to do so. If it did not, then it would no longer dominate. Hence, this has nothing to do with “virtue.”

Friedrich Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morals III.8

In the third and final essay of On the Genealogy of Morals, Nietzsche argues the ascetics’ isolated withdrawal into the “desert” of chastity, poverty, and so on, has nothing to do with his, or for that matter, any “virtue” at all. What is really concealed behind the will to renunciation? Is there a terrible strength behind this veil of humility? What is gained by the voluntary withdrawal into obscurity?

Or is there rather some terror which must be escaped, some great trauma which precedes the ascetics’ flight? In fact, it is the worldly situation itself which drives the independent to withdraw. The noisy world of appearances tantalizes and terrifies the classical philosopher, the ascetic tout courte, and that which he negates through his existence. It must be degenerate, corrupted; there must be a pure world. In this maxim, he founds a unique subjectivity which is no longer solely of “this” world, but also not yet really of the “other.”

The ascetics’ strongest instinct is to affect this opening in the fabric of reality by means of a negation of the world, his desires, and his body. In this way an “attunement” to the voice of being-as-such becomes possible, even a moral obligation which we must love for its own sake. In this way ascetics’ spiritual path of renunciation is his right to exist: for a long time, the only way one could be a philosopher was to withdraw into some desert or another, some degrading form of categorical denial. Have brighter, sunnier atmospheres really prevailed in the meantime, that we have reached the day when such vengeful self-torture is no longer already spiritual greatness?
Continue reading

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

Outline for a Philosophy of History

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 of originary disarticulation of (biological) organization — is a “human” a swarm?

Continue reading

breath, celan, expression, flowers, growth, heidegger, humboldt, inorganic life, intensity, language, life, light, organism, speech, spirit

Speaking (of) Flowers…

The stone.
The stone in the air, which I followed.
Your eye, as blind as the stone.

We were
we baled the darkness empty, we found
the word that ascended summer:

Flower – a blind man’s word.
Your eye and mine:
they see
to water.

Heart wall upon heart wall
adds petals to it.

One more word like this word, and the hammers
will swing over open ground.

Paul Celan, “Flower”

Continue reading