acceleration, becoming, control, Deleuze, machine, Nietzsche, subjectivity, virtual

Technoscience and Expressionism

Alfred Muller -- Plaza Juarez, Mexico City 2006

Alfred Muller — Plaza Juarez, Mexico City 2006

Technology and Control

The technocrat is the natural friend of the dictator—computers and dictatorship; but the revolutionary lives in the gap which separates technical progress from social totality, and inscribed there his dream of permanent revolution. This dream, therefore, is itself action, reality, and an effective menace to all established order; it renders possible what it dreams about (Gilles Deleuze, Logic of Sense)

Gilles Deleuze’s indication of a certain affinity between technocrats and dictators seems prescient. By Postscript on Control Societies the new realities resonating between society and its machines, in the middle of technological acceleration and social upheaval, have become so intense that every interior is in crisis, and the entirety of society has to be organized to resist the eruption of these dreams into reality.

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noise, subjectivity, truth, violence

Irreal

Irrealism. Modernity can be seen as a kind of victory for realism, but this victory was always already betrayed by capitalism, disseminated to death. Despite all appearances, the masks and pseudonymity of the postmodern era indicate not an abandonment of the war against cynicism and superstition, but rather a renewed undertaking of this same battle with a greater degree of caution, pragmatism and assiduity than the modern age could have imagined necessary.

Will to think. Philosophy at its very best is saddening, a cautious disenchantment: a deciphering of the hidden resentment with which we have crafted our values, the nihilism behind the idealities humanity has raised above itself. Yet how could philosophy ever have taken hold and prospered without a certain artistry in masking its true purpose from us; how could it not begin by seducing us to another reality — seducing us to reject this life and this reality? Consider that the will to think must partially close the “field” of thought, in this way allowing it to acquire definite shape and form: the force of thought severs thought from becoming, reducing the chaos of becoming into an organized noise. In this sense, the force of thought disjoins not only a given thought from what it can do but transforms the very categories of thought in order to render existence inert, harmless and ready for transmission. The innate becoming reactive of thinking is what philosophy opposes in all ages and throughout all its disguises.

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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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Christianity, existentialism, freedom, marxism, ontology, project, responsibility, Sartre, subjectivity, teleology, universal

‘A Doctrine for Specialists and Philosophers:’ Sartre’s Existential Universalism

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In his Existentialism and Human Emotions published in 1947, Sartre notes that what existentialists have in common is the fact that “they believe that existence comes before essence—or, if you will, that we must begin from the subjective” (3). Yet immediately after establishing this as his existentialist slogan, Sartre begins to argue that objects have essence because they were made according to a certain plan and because they serve a definite purpose. So the essence of the object precedes its existence because of its determined production and because of the use to which it is put. Continue reading

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