becoming, metaphysics, Politics, sickness, thinking, utopia

Utopian

“Dream City”, Paul Klee

“[U]topia is a fictive representation of an ideal social structure…”[1]

Michel Serres names heaven the rejoining of the rational and the real. Is there not truly a disquietingly infinite distance between the celestial dream of this adjoining and the hell we have made of the world? What then is the utopian? A first provisional approach might highlight temporal disjunction, utopia as uchronia: a no-when as well as a no-where; utopia denoting a world, a city, a life (but also a thought) to come. What then is this “to come”? It denotes the trace of a critique of political temporality; in a cautious deconstruction it becomes possible to make concrete the sense in which the future itself has a future. Utopia, not only forcelosed place but also time out of joint. Yet its virtual assembly is inspiratory, and therefore even transgressive since it tends to engender unforeseen but dangerous speeds and forces. Within any city whatsoever, the pathway to utopia is already present, but crossed-out, erased, blocked. The “to come” is therefore a denatured future involving radical transformations of psychic and social faculties. The utopian involves the unleashing of presently imperceptible potentialities.

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guattari, Meillassoux, Politics, speculation, utopia

Speculative Materialisms: Thinking the Absolute with Meillassoux and Guattari

          Quentin Meillassoux’s recent work After Finitude comes as a breath of fresh air for those who have been languishing under the dominant regimes of philosophy today.  Meillassoux claims to be able to resuscitate the “great outdoors” of pre-Critical Cartesian philosophy, one that would both forgo the correlationist impulses of the Kantian tradition as well as the necessity of an all-knowing, veracious God to legitimize the representational content of consciousness.  To access this “great outdoors,” Meillassoux forces us to activate a speculative materialism that would break with the necessitarian impulses of metaphysics. He calls his own path speculative because it claims to access an absolute (though not an absolute entity), and materialism because it claims that absolute reality is indifferent to thought, is an “entity without thought,” and can exist without thought, rendering the latter ontologically unnecessary (36). The paths of this new outlook are various, and Meillassoux does not claim to have formulated all the domains that are now opened.  It is for this reason that we feel a need to supplement Meillassoux’s emphasis on mathematics with an ethico-aesthetic paradigm. Among the numerous materialisms that have been developed in the 20th century, the cartographies developed by Félix Guattari (sometimes with the help of Gilles Deleuze) also merit the nomination of “speculative,” insofar as Guattari himself has also isolated an absolute, namely that of deterritorialization. In what follows, I intend to sketch out the way in which these two thinkers uniquely accent the positions that claims to be “speculative materialism” in order to better exemplify how Meillassoux’s groundwork can be applied outside its original problematic domain.

            The attempt to pair these two extravagantly different thinkers is not the result of sheer caprice, but unfolded due to the overlapping of a series of common concerns. Although they do not espouse the same conclusions, there is a shared impulse to refute the most intractable metaphysical dogmatisms, along with the fanaticism that develops through this refutation, ranging from abstract universals to abstract necessity. Indeed, the theoretical interaction between these two thinkers is required in order to unlock the dimensions of a speculative chaos upon which a speculative politics could unfold. Their conjunction leads beyond a hyper-Chaos to the immanent domain of hyper-utopias.

            One side of the problematic is to break the vicious circle of correlation. One of the ways in which Meillassoux describes correlationism relates to its attempt to disqualify the claim that subjectivity and objectivity can be considered apart from one another (5).  In fact, correlationism goes so far as to make the correlation unavoidable and asserts “anything that is totally a-subjective cannot be” (38). This side of the speculative thesis is also acknowledged by Guattari, who writes in L’Inconscient machinique: “Concepts must be folded onto reality, not the other way around” (155). In the same vein, for Meillassoux, “the materialism that chooses to follow the speculative path is thereby constrained to believe that it is possible to think a given reality by abstracting from the fact that we are thinking it” (After Finitude, 36). Given that language and consciousness are the two prime contributors to the persistence of the correlation, how do we escape from language, let alone take up a vantage point wherein subjectivity can be illuminated and discerned without having to become constitutive?

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apparatus of capture, culture, custom, decay, democracy, genealogy, image of thought, individual, instrumentality, Nietzsche, nomad, overman, Politics, power, religion, society, sovereignty, state, unground, universal, universal politics, utopia, war, war machine, warrior, Zarathustra

Nietzsche and the Capture and Domestication of Peoples

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“You shall obey—someone and for a long time: else you will perish and lose the last respect for yourself”—this appears to me to be the moral imperative of nature which, to be sure, is neither “categorical” as the old Kant would have it (hence the “else”) nor addressed to the individual (what do individuals matter to her?), but to peoples, races, ages, classes—but above all to the whole human animal, to man (Beyond Good and Evil, §188).

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complexity, deviation, form, freedom, information, instinct, knowledge, origin, society, symmetry, utopia

No Utopia

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It is characteristic of our age that we no longer remember how to feel utopia. To experience the absence of place, a break in the flow of time. But the utopian vision is not merely a smooth or well-organized space outside of history, beyond danger and death. It is also a powerful impulse, a primary affect of sociality. The aporetic flash of insight which is glimpsed in the symphonic vision of an actual utopia is so overpowering it actually exerts an unbinding force upon thought, deforming and deconceptualizing, breaking truth down into its rhythms. Utopia as commonly conceived is above all a logical place, a space where things make sense. But what if they don’t make sense to us anymore? A utopian thought imagines radical transformation, and accordingly is a thought which transforms thought, an image taken for a radical act. But there is no act, only images of free subjects. Only endless contradictions. But we forget they are more than contradictions. They are indications. The utopian thought is above all a directed thought, a thought of direction. We can’t remember how to point to ‘nowhere’. We should not allow ourselves to forget how to feel the irony of the utopian thought. We can only sketch the subtle complexity of this ancient impulse, noting this or that feature. A general utopian political project is a false ideal; it makes utopia an act, something hard, inert, dangerous. Futurism is false; we must be against the generic utopia. We must try always to see the more subtle, and political sense of nowhere.
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democracy, justice, nationalism, Nietzsche, socialism, universal politics, utopia

Nietzsche’s Glance at the State: Socialism, Nationalism, Universalism

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In January of 1872, less than a year after Germany officially becomes a nation, Nietzsche gives a series of five lectures at the University of Basel on the future of our educational/cultural institutions. Six years later in section 8 of Human All Too Human we find Nietzsche discussing the future of political institutions and the fate of European nations. One of the questions that Nietzsche asks in his analysis of socialism, nationalism and democracy is whether or not these political orientations are strong enough for an affirmative investment in the development of cultural forces­, investments that one day will lead to institutions that address the true needs of all of humanity (476). Nietzsche always comments on different state organizations in terms of their speeds of evolution and lifespan.

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