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.

acceleration, anti-gravity, Bachelard, belief, brother, celerity, change, dream, dreams, feeling, flight, future, laughter, love, memory, reality, texture, Thought, transformation, truth, Uncategorized, world

Learning to Fly

Psychologists — and more especially philosophers — pay little attention to the play of miniature frequently introduced into fairy tales. In the eyes of the psychologist, the writer is merely amusing himself when he creates houses that can be set on a pea. But this is a basic absurdity that places the tale on a level with the merest fantasy. And fantasy precludes the writer from entering, really, into the domain of the fantastic. Indeed he himself, when he develops his facile inventions, often quite ponderously, would appear not to believe in a psychological reality that corresponds to these miniature features. He lacks that little particle of dream which could be handed on from writer to reader. To make others believe, we must believe ourselves.
Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space, “Miniature”

The tiniest things are the greatest secrets: focus in on the details, a world, an individual, truth emerges. Love is clarified silence. In the mysterious simplicity of vision, truth escapes and enters being in the very same movement — which is not split in simply two directions, but rather fractured from end to beginning into a billion microscopic fragments of light. Become a prism. What we see is not what is apparent, but rather caused by it. So stop looking — and see. Sensory reality is overwhelmingly powerful, so overwhelmingly convincing it easily tempts us into becoming its willing hostage. But it is no more real than your dreams. What makes us afraid to really trust in sense itself, the reality of our dreams and the dreaming of reality, is the invisible presence of the “enemy.” What we are generally unaware of is that this “enemy” is in fact, our most intimate friend — even a twin brother. Because there are no distinctions when anything is properly distinguished. Infinity is nothing at all, an image of thought: a paradoxical dream that everything is and can be one, and that one is and can be everything. Because we are finally no longer pinned down by the old evaluations, we are free to become anything. We have at long last conquered that ancient negation of laughter which is only now really beginning to lose its sting. We are slowly, so slowly remembering it was we who gave words their weight in the first place. We have remembered that feeling is enough to transform the world — not because it changes what the world is — but because it changes what the world can be. We have remembered that a law of celerity is needed to supplement the law of gravity. We have rediscovered the absurd truth, that the tiniest “push” is all that is required to fly. The transformation of reality is also the transformation of dreams. All that is required — is to do it. Make it shift. Go ahead, give it a try. There are no causes, no effects, only lines of acceleration producing textures — light and sound. So create, invent, experiment! And don’t forget: the future is history. Remember before.

abstract machine, code, Cognition, diagram, difference, energy, entropy, identity, knowledge, learning, memory, problem, structure, Thought, unconscious, wittgenstein

On Learning


One way of approaching the difference between knowledge and learning (so profound in our opinion that, despite their entanglement, there can be postulated neither a material nor conceptual ground which could ever serve to unify them) is by considering that even while wholly disparate, they are not in the least opposed for that reason. To learn and to know are two divergent operations, contrapositive dynamisms, which are nevertheless always both active simultaneously, as the “cutting edges” or ungrounding machines of cognition. A thought is grounded not in abstract oppositions, but in concrete forces traversing real problematic fields.

Knowledge is classically represented as a heterogeneous assemblage — our minds are far too imperfect to clearly perceive the pure, homogeneous Truth — which is self-totalizing and self-regulated by an internal learning process, charged with traversing its own experiences (as they are represented and reactivated as memories of varying intensities.) In this sense, abstract oppositions emerge only as variables of these mixed compositions of energetic and entropic flows. This is the illusion of hyper-diagrammatism (implying a kind of super-diagram of “all” thought.) We must try and see that thought isn’t about models and copies, not about identity and ideology — but rather about lines along which interminglings are operative, as though “between” concrete and abstract flows of energy — food for words, money for sex, death for love, virtue for pain, and on and on…

What is produced in this process of establishing communication between incommensurable problematic fields — or learning — should certainly not be characterized as a pure memory, but rather a decentralized and a-subjective cognitive process. “Thought” is not the difference between learning and knowledge, but rather an abstract machine which underlies them while nevertheless separating them, almost as though by an absolute divergence. Learning fights dullness and emptiness with lightning and fire, mortally threatening the stasis and death of “serious knowledge,” which would otherwise totally consume the brave and fiery heart of discovery. So let’s stop asking what “knowledge” and “learning” mean in themselves (and trying to ‘deduce’ the ‘difference’ — and thereby, most likely, only serving to overcode it by an all-too-serious line of death); let’s rather ask: how do these operations work?
Continue reading

attention, barrier, deconstruction, lacan, language, metaphor, signifier, structure, subject, Thought, unconscious

For Lacan


The question of vigilance is important. It is as if a demon plays a game with your attention [lit. “watchfulness.”]


To identify a “subject” is not only difficult, but truly impossible: we always only ‘nominate’ in the last instance one of its barriers; or rather, we indicate only what is barred, but we do so by signifying the barrier.

How can we understand this barrier — this imaginary line of symbolic exchange? In what sense does it have an “articulable” structure?

We may risk the following thesis. There are two poles or dissymmetrical operations to metaphor, not quite internal and external, but rather ‘intimate’ or ‘extimate,’ characterizing the relationship of the barrier to what is ‘barred’ (from speech, consciousness, etc.)

For example, we can speak of a line of variation (instead of the ‘actual’ — intimate — varieties of matter); but we can also we speak of multiple figures or forms (instead of the ‘virtual’ — extimate — force of pure multiplicity.)

Thus ‘figurate speech’ is that which thinks by tying together the two figurative series, itinerantly circulating between the extimate and intimate poles of metaphor. The “subject” comprehends and expresses his reality metaphorically; the subject is a metaphor.
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

concept, decision, dialogue, distinction, humboldt, language, metaphysics, order word, protoype, representation, segmentation, sign, Thought

Language is not a Signal: Notes on Wilhelm von Humboldt

Language is not a Signal: Notes on Wilhelm von Humboldt

One of the earliest and most strident critiques of the signifier, Wilhelm von Humboldt’s philosophy of language refused the even-then-canonical concept of a “sign” by questioning the universal conceptual image of a language as representation.

Beneath the semiotic aspect of language — the “common sense” idea of language as utterance, signalling, communicating, “saying” — Humboldt catches sight of a more profound function of language, where it is no longer understood primarily as communication, but rather as itself an originary and formative “organ of thought” not in any sense limited to representation, but which on the contrary is instrumental in the genesis of (new) concepts themselves.

Rather than being a form for thoughts, an essence subtracted from the heterogeneous field of actual languages, Humboldt proposes instead a generative prototype of language based not on substance but generation, the series of rules and structures by which thought divides and rearranges itself ‘between’ us.

In catching sight of this difference ‘between’ languages (as classically understood,) by taking empirical account of the qualitative break between various representations of reality, we suddenly discover the question of language has carried us all the way to the essence of language and reason at once, the heart of the metaphysical decision.

Continue reading

assemblage, channel, communication, diagram, forgetting, form, intensity, language, media, memory, multiplicity, parasite, Plato, signal, Thought, wisdom, writing

The Horizon of Language

If men learn this [writing], it will implant forgetfulness in their souls; they will cease to exercise memory because they rely on that which is written, calling things to remembrance no longer from within themselves, but by means of external marks.

What you have discovered is a recipe not for memory, but for reminder.

And it is no true wisdom that you offer your disciples, but only its semblance, for by telling them of many things without teaching them you will make them seem to know much, while for the most part they know nothing, and as men filled, not with wisdom, but with the conceit of wisdom, they will be a burden to their fellows.

Plato, Phaedrus 275a-b

If we speak language, then it is at least equally true that our languages speak us — even up to that extreme sense wherein language becomes actual, corporeal — and so the horizons of language and of writing cannot be the same as the limits of thought. Yet there is a single abstract machine underlying both thought and language.

Language is neither a channel, a signal, nor a noise. For if language is a channel, then language channels us — it becomes a closed loop, thought = language = being. The result: only intensive realities, only qualities — we’ve isolated the durational aspect of being, a consequence of self-transformation or self-affection.

On the other hand, if language is born from pure noise, it situates itself within us, finds somewhere between and inside us to become a station… Noise clears, but does not disclose, or does so only darkly, ambiguously.

Language transmits us — what does this mean? Nothing more than that language is not a medium, not communication — but a relational attitude to the world, a turning towards an immanent and essential reality.

Continue reading