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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becoming, difference, flow, recurence, structure, transversality, truth

Return

Rene Magritte, "The Lovers" (1928)

Will. The question of the will is not whether to emphasize cycles or fluxes (identities or events, structures or processes, concepts and percepts or acts and effects); still less how to conduct a grand unifying synthesis of the two — events and processes as differing stages or aspects of what is ultimately some overly ideal dialectical Unity; the question is rather, first and foremost, to determine how we can possibly proceed (vis a vis the unconscious) given the radical discontinuity between the two accounts of thought and existence. A theory of the will (a diagnostics of the sick will and a genealogy of the healthy, that is to say the real analysis of the unconscious) must affirm the divergence of a purely ‘immanent’ theory of flows and a purely ‘ideal’ theory of machines. Yet the very difficulty in convincingly theorizing the will is precisely the fact that these two modes of interpretation beg one another and are ultimately cut from the same cloth; a successful account of the will cannot disguise the deadlocks which have hitherto almost completely blocked the progress of understanding the unconscious. (It was owing to the sterile dogmatism wherein both accounts decayed for centuries, each thinking itself “complete,” that their kinship and even mutual implication had been able to go so long unnoticed.)

Resemblances. The event has an excess over existence, as a surplus; must this intimate some radical intervention of Truth or more simply, an intangible and virtual dimension of immanence — that the event happens to return, perhaps without limit, breaking with the continuity of resemblances, linking up with a pre-individual and differential flux?

Ground. Becoming can also be understood as a terrible guest: a noisy, ill-mannered, and parasitic inhabitant of beings. Both noise and parasites (and bad manners for that matter) indicate pathways to grasping becoming — these transversal or transevental vectors each affirm a dangerous divergence from the smooth severity of the host or background. Becoming fractures (a) being into a prism: it is precisely the assemblages of parasitic flows of matter and of life which collectively constitute “becoming,” the eruption and eviction of Being; and yet, in another sense, the singular, material and sufficient cause of existence.

Degeneration. Growth (whether cosmic or vital) is never simply a question of similarity, it is not a matter of the general but rather precisely of the repeated: not of convergent series but “degenerate” planes and lines which expand only through a rigorous fragmentation, a limitless mechanism of tortuous recurrence. What is ontologically primary are these infested and “aware” surfaces, the resurgence of certain parasitic elements within the event, the systematic degeneration on the part of the surface of being, the positive knowledge of our incapability to maintain the stability of the surface against the rising ground.

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desire, existence, history, idealism, micro-politics, morality, reality, truth

Pathways

Joel Isaacson, James Joyce (1998)
Joel Isaacson, James Joyce (1998)

War on Information. Idealism begins with the proposition that life is futurity, yet attempts to halt before the inevitable futility this produces, the cancerous desires which follow, not from “particular” notions, but precisely from the incorporation of Truth into life, that is, the incorporation of a point of ideality into the social diagrammatics of thought. A bad conscience, alienation, a nullity or ‘nihilism,’ is the necessary counterpart to this process of internalization of the infinite (or at least a “point at infinity”) into the collective machines through which the world is enunciated. Existence as the stability of identity is the absolutely firm foundation upon which all idealism has hitherto constructed its watchtowers and fortresses.

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machine, Nietzsche, ontology, philosophy, truth

Break

Nietzsche. That joy and vision should be brought to bear even in the darkest corner of the human soul — and especially upon that within it which surges upwards and beyond the human species entirely; above the world, and so finally able to see, from a vision born of flight. –To “survey” reality as though from an impossible distance, an incommensurate height.

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Joyful wisdom. Science is such that it can only truly be said to exist once many powerful and warring social and psychic desires have been tamed, coerced into accord, allowed to achieve their fragile pact. (A difficult enough thing; and, indeed, the conditions for a joyful science are still far from ripe!) The result being that a scientist, insofar as he or she is a scientist, is precisely the one who is unconcerned about whether another agrees to the “truth” of this or that proposition; in every instance it is rather the force or real function which counts, which is to say: the manner in which a given idea alters, amplifies, and re-assembles already existing systems of ideas. The production of a new semiotic system is always coupled to a wide variety of psychic and social machines, together forming a new regime of ideas along with an appropriate “pragmatics” of desire. This “image of thought,” for our purposes here, can be considered simply as a series of collective practices interwoven with a multiplicity of signifying systems, the coupling of productive processes with anti-productive processes, a conjoining of systems of pure affects with order-words. A pragmatic then is precisely a ‘process’ which can be said to function ‘structurally’ only in a heuristic and reductive sense. Indeed, the reality of thought is not a stasis or immanent emptiness but rather (or more fundamentally) a transfinite process of conception, first and fundamentally a flight into new pragmatic regimes. This a conceiving of new practices  may be realized or constituted in any particular case, but only insofar as it tends to produce novel and singular functions. It is not true that the repetition of a similar effect is the origin of thinking; rather it is precisely a difference, in the last instance a shift in perspective, sometimes infinitesimal, which is required.

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being, flaw, impossibility, knowledge, language, machine, message, metaphysics, ontology, trace, truth

Mind

Where is truth — in knowledge or learning? If truth is processual, it is therefore also non-definitional; if it therefore exceeds classification, it annihilates a priori any possibility of its subtraction or division as such. Hence truth is impossible; yet this “impossible” subtraction of truth from an inconsistency, once postulated, nonetheless functions, it even begins to produce something, the impossible even becomes possible — and so perhaps produces everything. Thus the question remains, like a bone in our throat: how?

Just as it is the subtlety of silence to express that which language cannot, it is the very non-being of truth which is the origin of being. This answer may sound like madness, but it is actually a calm and clear way of speaking: behind both the world and the word, a silence lingers. And just as the voice emerges from a background of noise, from sublime meaninglessness the truth is subtracted. It traverses the warp of both language and experience. Knowledge bursts along particular lines, through circuits of learning which are in no way arbitrary and contingent, but rather the expansionary fault-lines of history, the exposure or blistering of time itself which results from precisely this trace of impossibility exuded by the irreversible relation: a pure non-functioning, a subtraction and division of an irreversible flow, a growth which is only as biological as technological.

The machine is again the proper metaphor here, and yet it is not even a metaphor: against time itself, learning struggles to function, and functions only so long as it does not understand — hence this struggle is not a spirit but a trace of the spirit, a flaw in the univocal sense of Being, a break in the signal which itself signals. Like a halo, the flaw is a messenger, a fragment which doesn’t belong and never did, and is included only by being excluded. From this inconsistency the wor(l)d inevitably and irrepressibly flows.

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

Outside

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, of transitivity–is language, and is produced only in the speaker who, consequently, himself faces. Language is not added to the impersonal thought dominating the same and the other; impersonal thought is produced in the movement that proceeds from the same to the other, and consequently in the interpersonal and not only impersonal language. An order common to the interlocutors is established by the positive act of the one giving the world, his possession, to the other, or by the positive act of the one justifying himself in his freedom before the other, that is, by apology.

Emmanuel Levinas, Totality and Infinity 251, “Beyond the Face”

Levinas argues forcefully that the truth of our being is compromised when we submit to tyranny. It is neither suicide nor resignation to declare this truth, but rather love itself, revolted by the violence of reason. There is a plane of reality that must be indicated, whose very existence at once presupposes and transcends the revelation of the other, wherein the I bears itself beyond death.

Yet in this movement, where subjectivity itself is posited as a function, the I also recovers from its return to itself. This plane is certainly love: the other who faces us arouses an infinite desire, and reveals a mode of subjectivity which is the meaning of language, or justice, and which is the very actuality of love, living for others. The mere existence of this plane implies both separation and transcendence — a revolt against the violence of a “reason” that would reduce interpersonal discourse to silence.

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

Explosions in the Sky

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 social justice is expression par excellence, the very thirst for peace. Both violence and love aim for the other in their vulnerability, but only in non-violence can truth reconcile us together.

Like a smooth or empty space, peacefulness operates without principle, without direction, without form. Yet even as a formal relation to another, it connotes a kind of difficult freedom, a consciousness which refuses to compete, which questions not its abilities but rather itself as such. A force grasps hold of us, an explosion which limits without thereby enslaving us — a relationship which forms the lineaments of a new kind of relationship between human beings, as well as between human beings and themselves.

Yet non-violence would never really be an emptiness, a pure void or absolute gap — even if war enjoys the practical status of something like an ultimate cosmic principle. While the future may appear bleak, I believe we can find a way to think, act and speak together, singularly as well as plurally, and to do so more peacefully — that is to say: more freely, more honestly, more creatively, more joyously.

The difficulty of freedom is also the problem of war: it lies entirely within the fact that the future demands our service as individuals. There is no middle-ground. We become responsible for slavery, which faces us at every turn as the “primal” injustice. The material conditions of others, the ravages wreaked upon human beings by historical “consequence,” present us with a non-transferrable ethical demand, one which is active in a concrete and fundamental sense in every dimension of life. Inhumanity is a silent anonymity, the obliteration of language, freedom and society all at once — a negative indication of the primacy of our responsibility.

Peace can only begin with myself. The passivity such a mode of human existence implies indicates a kind of subjectivity completely different than the one we have inherited from Greek philosophy. Yet passivity indicates not a lack of reason, but rather the submission to a dimension of absolute externality: a responsibility which is unlimited, which is not a debt, which is not restricted by the extent of an active commitment.

The hostages’ responsibility for their captor.

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