art, experiment, Laruelle, non-philosophy, philosophy, text, textuality, Uncategorized

Philo-fictions and Experimental Texts: Philosophy as Artistic “Whatever” Material

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A few years ago, I took a graduate seminar on experimental texts at Emory University. Some of the work I have done during my studies I have put up on Fractal Ontology, but I never included this one. I will run you through the basics of the project.

First, I wanted to showcase the “consumption” of philosophical texts that I have participated in over the course of my reading. This usually entails me, pen in hand, marking and re-marking texts with underlines, brackets and marginalia. At the end of the course, alongside my own reflection in text-form, I produced an artistic artifact. Basically, I ripped out the pages from 25 of my favorite–and most marked–texts, juxtaposed them as partial objects, and grafted and glued them onto a desk chair. So, the seat and center of the chair looks something like this:

IMG_0299Below, I will include my experimental essay reflecting on this project and the questionnaire I had to fill out for the project. Here is the questionnaire:

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abstract machine, antiproduction, body, code, diagram, diagrammatics, flux, idea, language, model, ontology, parasite, process, symbol, text

Meta-ontology

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It is impossible to conceive the assemblage of a scientific experiment apart from a field that generates plans and topological, mathematical, axiomatic and computational descriptions. But sign-machines can function equally well directly within material and social machines without the mediation of significant processes of subjectivation, something which has become more obvious each passing day. The fact that the common essence of semiotic machines and material or social machines proceeds from the same type of abstract machine is the decisive step we must take in order to found a political pragmatics on something other than good intentions.

Felix Guattari, L’Inconscient machinique: essais de schizo-analyse. Paris: Editions Recherche, 1979. p. 67.

That we underestimate machines is an understatement. Human language itself is a code which produces codes, hence an always already over-coded decoding — and the decoding processes, for their part, go as far as you like. Let us be cautious, then, and attempt to linger for a moment on the side of the symbolic. Every discourse, every instance of language, every explicit “saying” — is also implicitly a kind of abstract program. A program gives us in turn the language in which that program is expressed — and also in which completely new programs can be expressed. Finally, every text also contains an irreducible element of pure ontology, thereby encoding — between the lines — the very principles for organizing discourse itself. Whichever metaphor obscurely prefigures the communicative passage, tracing these interdependent “resemblances,” or “differential” networks of “abstract” models, (or even “ethico-spiritual” traces of traces) necessarily takes us on an adventure outside of the text — but mysteriously or ironically, always into other kinds of texts! This infinite indeterminacy — or antiproductive rupture — is the basis of a “parasitic” logic, the logic of interruption, inequality, a constitutive non-determination.

Hence, in addition to these four distinct but interwoven layers or aspects co-existing in even the shortest text — indeed in a single word — it seems we must also suppose some pre-logical flux of intensity, a matrix of differences, in which these varying aspects would themselves become locally codified and relatively grounded. A diagram needs a space in which to be built and materials from which to be constructed; ideas needs relational fields in which they realize themselves sensibly and and dramatize their “break” into reality to one another — how, why and where they fall to their death onto the depths of bodies — but even this as though organically or by divine judgment. Bodies break the recursive cycle of language through the intervention of a partial object (programmer-parasite.) The parasite, the cold body sucking the warmth, writes new programs, and in doing so inevitably scrambles the meanings of the old instructions. The parasite is ontological rupture or antiproduction, phenomenological transduction — its work, grounding relation, is itself grounded only by an act of invention, translation, dramatization. Grounded in metaphor, in a productive diagram, in an abstract machine. Or, in other words: the parasite, whose provisional ground or counter-network is the minimal subject of the abstract machine, guarantees the consistency of the abstract programs’ specific productive diagram simultaneously as (1) a single variation, which is also (2) a model for variations; yet this is model is at once a (3) variable language of models, as well as the (4) machinic meta-ontology pragmatically governing the organizational principles of languages themselves.

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culture, difference, God, grammar, human, labor, literature, Nietzsche, Politics, power, text, theory, will to power

The Power to Will: Nietzsche and Becoming Free

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Reaching Out

The will to power is not essentially political; it aims beyond politics towards a more subtle possession. The will to power is articulated as a higher expression of the will to live, as opposed to the will to survive. It is the will to exercise power. Its primary function is to be functional, that is: dynamic, active and creative. This kind of willing indicates not a static ideal will rather an energetic, even libidinal force to overcome, to dominate one’s environment as well as to exploit and control others. Importantly, the will to power does not function as some kind of pure essence of vitality, even less an aesthetic ‘taste’ or ethical harmony.

Rather, it is struggle itself, the will to raise oneself up, out joyfully from nothingness, into higher and more rarefied regions of becoming. It is not a duty, but a desire to feel energy being actively employed; it is the surging of this power itself. It aims to transcend but is not itself therefore transcendent; rather, the will to power is material, and always more concrete, more real than we are comfortable admitting. The will to power is our desire to possess, to exploit, to dominate, to control. Hence the primary articulation of the will to power is as a singular thrust rather than a multiplicity of drives. Though clearly each will struggles against every other, ultimately every will struggles against itself, operates upon itself, upon its own form or nature in order to improve itself, to overcome.
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daybreak, desire, difference, ethics, freud, joy, Nietzsche, Politics, style, text, unconscious, Zen

Nietzsche and the Unconscious: Ethics, Desire, Politics

Cy Twombly, Untitled
Cy Twombly, Untitled [1970. Oil-based house paint and crayon on canvas. The Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Photo: © 2004 Matthew Septimus]

Granted that nothing is ‘given’ as real except our world of desires and passions, that we can rise or sink to no other ‘reality’ than the reality of our drives – for thinking is only the relationship of these drives to one another: is it not permitted to make the experiment and ask the question whether this which is given does not suffice for an understanding even of the so-called mechanical (or ‘material’) world? … Granted finally that one succeeded in explaining our entire instinctual life as the development and ramification of one basic form of will as will to power, as is my theory; granted that one could trace all organic functions back to this will to power … one would have acquired the right to define all efficient force unequivocally as: will to power. The world seen from within, the world described and defined according to its ‘intelligible character’- it would be ‘will to power’ and nothing else. (Beyond Good and Evil)

My goal in this paper to develop a theory about the role of the concept of the unconscious in Nietzsche’s later writings. Many commentators have decided there is not one, but many functions of the unconscious in Nietzsche’s work. As it often is, the question about Nietzsche is his polyvocality: he speaks from so many voices, which one is “his”? We have needed for a long time to show definitively his continuity of intensity throughout the multiplicity of adopted perspectives. It is not his position on this or that problem which “makes” him Nietzsche; it is his subtle ability to jump in and out of problems, his refinement of spirit which accepts no resentment, no guilt, no shame — nothing but affirmation. We do not have space for such a broad rediscovery of the body of Nietzsche. In this paper I want to focus narrowly on what would be a necessary part of such a rediscovery. I shall try to demonstrate the complex relationship which Nietzsche describes between the unconscious and the political. Exploring this relationship will allow us to show the inter-relations in Nietzsche’s text between the functions of desire, ethics and sexuality. In particular, we will read Daybreak and The Gay Science for a theory of the unconscious as it relates to these themes.
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