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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being, event, face, gift, infinity, lacan, language, levinas, logic, machine, silence, turbulence, violence

Counter-mythology

Responsibility is what first enables one to catch sight of and conceive of value.
Levinas, Otherwise Than Being 123

Beyond the question of being and non-being, language is not the event — but rather a process of assembling unformed and unspecified elements, an abstract machinics which imagines new forms for itself by correlating the various distinct orders of reality with a plane of consistency in which a unified vision becomes possible — in short uncovering the infinite possibilities of the event. But this apparition of the event in its infinity would be only terror, the dark depth in which all mixtures are possible — and nothing is outlawed — were it not for the ambiguity of silence, the “not-yet” which the event, the “given” or gift, makes possible, and which makes possible the infinite time of cohumanity.

In speaking, reality opens itself up to an order without signification or concept, lost neither in the depths or heights but in the very shape of the world, the surface itself, a topological mode or order of being issuing neither in sound or light but in an idea given me by the other, the gift of language. In expression being can become free. Language is the discovery not only of novelty but justice itself; the enjoyment of discovery is essentially social. The event is not revelation but a secret apology, a map of the vortex. Turbulence is lucidity.

Black holes are everywhere, and this prohibited prohibition permits everything: the torsion of language disarticulates the tension of the soul. Beyond the face there is a paradoxical and two-sided barrier, an apparition which interrupts the symbolic order of discourse, as though by a lateral or diagonal movement between the signified and the non-signified. By an astounding finesse, speech uncovers the world as a lesson or donation.

Debt and faith are born simultaneously. Language is justice — a gift — only when it sheds its anonymity to become universal, not by inventing a world-beyond-the-world, but by reconciling us to one another. It calls us to hear a there-is rustling behind the void.

Hence the notion of event correlates at least three distinct orders of relationship between possibilities: a relative-absolute conjuncture uniting singular events and possible worlds; an absolute disjuncture prohibiting certain events from certain worlds; a trans-evental function sweeping up worlds and events.

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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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courage, death, Deleuze, dialogue, filiality, identity, levinas, metaphysics, ontology, peace, Politics, state, technology, violence, war machine

Difference, Primacy and Peace: Deleuze and Levinas

Preface

It is perhaps time to see in hypocrisy not only a base contingent defect of man, but the underlying rending of a world attached to both the philosophers and the prophets.

Levinas, Totality and Infinity 24

I have no wish to soften the saying that to write lyric poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric; it expresses in negative form the impulse which inspires committed literature. The question asked by a character in Sartre’s play Morts Sans Sepulture, “Is there any meaning in life when men exist who beat people until the bones break in their body?’ is also the question whether art now has a right to exist; whether intellectual regression is not inherent in the concept of committed literature because of the regression of society.

Adorno, “Commitment”

Doubtless, the present situation is highly discouraging.

Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus 422

Our age has borne witness to the most rapid expansion of military and state power in human history. Weapons have grown highly sophisticated in a complex lockstep with global economic and political transformations. The meaning of this enormous growth in power, and the implications for our increasing technological sophistication, is anything but clear and unambiguous. The political mythology surrounding war and peace has also grown in sophistication. Nonetheless, the tool inevitably varies with the specific relationship — that is, the conditions under which it becomes possible, and the situations which it makes possible. This internal capacity for variation and variance is closer to the essence of war than the complex matrix of state and global power relations.

Any tool can become a war machine — at least potentially, and if its object becomes war. Yet war is still not the essence of the war machine, but rather the set of conditions under which the machine becomes appropriated by state power — or even the global order in which states now become only parts. In Deleuze and Guatarri’s account, a war machine is always external to the powers of the state, even though the state may have means for capturing and transforming its power into violence for its own ends. Nonetheless, war machines bring novel connections to bear upon centers of command, static assemblages of power, what Deleuze and Guattari describe as “the great conjunction of the apparatuses of capture or domination.” (ATP 423) The war machine refers to a reality essentially independent from the structures which constitute the state. In it we find the lineaments of a new and general relationship between human beings, between an individual and themselves, which is not subordinate to the state or its means — even when that individual is used as a means by the state.

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architecture, banquet, language, machine, metaphysics, Nietzsche, ontology, Politics, time, unconscious, violence, wisdom

Wandering Shadows: Reflections on Morality and Madness

In the disparity between the awareness of unreason and the awareness of madness, we have, at the end of the eighteenth century, the point of departure for a decisive movement: that by which the experience of unreason will continue, with Holderlin, Nerval, and Nietzsche, to proceed ever deeper towards the roots of time — unreason thus becoming, par excellence, the world’s contratempo — and the knowledge of madness seeking on the contrary to situate it ever more precisely within the development of nature and history. It is after this period that the time of unreason and the time of madness receive two opposing vectors: one being unconditioned returned and absolute submersion; the other, on the contrary, developing according to the chronicle of a history.

Michel Foucault, Madness and Civilization 212 (“The Great Fear”)

If there is something in literature which does not allow itself to be reduced to the voice, to epos or to poetry, one cannot recapture it except by rigorously isolating the bond that links the play of form to the substance of graphic expression.

Jacques Derrida, Of Grammatology 59

There is no antagonism here between a true world and an apparent one: there is only one world, and that world is false, cruel, contradictory, misleading and seductive, deprived of meaning… such a world is the true world. We need deceit in order to conquer this reality or “truth,” that is, in order to live. The fact that deceit is necessary in order to live still has to with the terrible and problematic nature of existence… This faculty by which he rapes reality with deceit, this essentially artistic faculty in man, is something he has in common with everything that exists…

Nietzsche

Preface

How do we situate the metaphysics of language? The stratification and fragmentation of the signal goes so far beyond the empirical consciousness bound to its immediacy that the difficulty of the project is comparable only to its necessity. The original direction or deflection of the word, the passing-over of the word into image, and the collapse of meaning, follow a schema with which we are familiar. It is precisely here that it is most important not to interpret directly.

The point is not about suffering, but determination. Knowledge begins in delirium. The universe begins with a conjunction, an operator of connection. Everything moving is already a machine, plugged into a world of celerities, issuing regular pulses, gradually transforming itself and its surroundings. Thus the degree of transformation is also the degree of risk to the hidden operators. “ Oh, the poor bird that felt free and now strikes the walls of this cage! Woe, when you feel homesick for the land as if it had offered more freedom — and there is no longer any land.” (Nietzsche, The Gay Science) The problem is not only that names are caught up in ascending and descending chains, an infinite series of minimal differences; the problem never was identifying the limit, and at any rate, this is precisely where our organs overtake us. Creativity is nothing more than acceleration. Have we forgotten so quickly?

Our real problem can be provisionally summarized as follows. How to situate language itself in terms of metaphysics? A phase-map is not enough. The origin of language is indiscernible from a continuous transformation, not a signal but a teaching-learning that the Greeks had innocently called mathemata. A mark and not a symbol, a map and not a trace. Saturated, simple, deep. For the unforeseen origin of the code occurs precisely on the boundary of the unacknowledgable, the imperceptible rupture at the heart of every science. The parasite thus invents learning as well: it all begins with a difference in intensity, a tiny divergence accelerating into a raging vortex. Learning is becoming imperceptible. We are therefore with Artaud, when he writes of becoming-unspecified: “The soul could be reborn; however, it is not reborn. For although eased somewhat, it feels it is still dreaming, it hasn’t yet transformed itself into that dream with which it cannot yet fully be identified.” (from “Who, in the heart…”)

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being, domination, irony, numbers, Science / Mathematics / Technology, truth, violence

Irony and Science

0. Empiricism lives and studies in the future anterior; thus order and number appear, as though already in their most sublime perfection, and involve themsleves in the experiment as though always fully formed from the outside. They are a key to the symbolic universe and thus a virtual island of hope — but survival demands we must be harder than mere forms. Faith in number, the pure form of being, isn’t even ironic; it’s messianic, a hermits’ opium dream. For truth can be unveiled only on the basis of differences, and among these only those which make a difference; therefore sets already contain a measure of sublime violence. Any enterprise ironically founded upon the abyss cannot overcome its own implicit transcendence and lapses into reaction– if it fails to rise forward towards any kind of ‘bright future’ other than one already fully formed. And in any case, science is never an end, but a means; and insofar as this remains true, it will function transcendentally, and even ironically, as a form of institutional violence.

1. For upon what does reason does stand, if not itself — if not upon it’s own virtuality, it’s unconscious investments? Reason is like freedom because it speaks upon its own authority: it does not dominate, yet effortlessly counters every effort towards domination. Could we not identify it as a species of sublimely misplaced aggression, purged first of violence, and finally — even of the sacred?

2. The experimenter is a creature of an obscure delight, whose most intimate and secret desire– is to become invisible; in the wake of this daring closely follows the ‘moral’ scientist who wants nothing more than to be a “good” and “shameless” observer. In terms of bearing witness to the singular ‘truth’ of a process, our testimony is only as good as we have become equal to the process in question. The experimental subject thereby becomes the secret and esoteric origin of the scientific situation. Not that science is to be relegated to narration; on the contrary, it may be that the path of the shaman and that of the biologist in the future could converge…

3. The scientist dreams of a time when knowledge will spread and conquer fear. Collective reason abhors the abyss, and cannot authentically envision the emptiness of the void as constitutive; yet for all our higher reason, as science approaches the edge, it grounds more and more of itself upon its own shadow. Science must rather illuminate: the void is not the ground but a kind of sickness, and the paranoid certainty of a egoistic-rational framework already demands a recovery– a transvaluation. On this point, our position ought to be that the global and the local are neither distinct nor indiscernible. Thus we can observe (and without paradox) that the universe is evolving in time, that it is both orderly and chaotic, that some parts are hidden and others are revealed, that the whole is both being and becoming, all this at once, and in very many different kinds of ways. Thus we also must understand, and henceforth without mysticism, that existence — visible or invisible — is only ever spoken about in one sense.

4. Of course, there may be unseen dimensions of being– but this is a conceptual boundary. For even these belong upon the same material plane when we indicate ‘being’ in its pure verbal and infinitive sense: to be as an infinite multiplicity.

5. We can now easily understand how reason is a meta-strategy: it is the thinking behind thinking, a sort of combinatorical game. More precisely, meta-strategy is calculating odds on the duration that a certain method (of prediction, explanation, control) will (continue to) succeed in ‘approaching’ being. So even though scientists are attempting to find ‘universal’ answers, transcendence is rarely explicitly invoked in scientific discourse. Yet the subject of science is such that experimenters cannot escape that they are concerned, in a specifically human way, with illuminating a species of ‘timeless’ truths.

6. The ‘science’ of language makes this particular paradox clear: enunciation, is after all, only a bridging of two different ways of measuring time.

7. Let us introduce a new understanding of the term by saying that analysis begins with the mutual understanding that something in a situation is existentially intolerable. This is, as it were, the heart of the vortex — an (or even ‘the’) object which will not ‘let us alone.’ Thus the fundamental operation of analysis is the inscription of a transversal line through the heart of the obscurity, it is a kind of torturing which could possibly heal. It could turn out to be the creation of a new science, but undeniably more often it is simply the scientific creation of a desired objective process (removal of the feared or dangerous object, etc.) In light of the preceding arguments, we can now present the thesis that analysis traces these transversal lines of flight towards new senses of being. The displacement of aggression into a process of healing is a particularly fascinating inversion to which we shall have to return.

8. At the time, it is enough to say: for too long has the scientific position been tainted by irony, been thought refuted even by its ‘refined’ position. Science certainly must play the role of the ‘ignorant,’ but of course it is already an elegant and Socratic ignorance– laced with irony towards public opinion, and for ‘established but unfounded’ explanations. The ambiguity of the position of science does not account for its ironic origin. Latent hostility towards authority can indeed open spaces for dialogue, but is this really the production of the possibility of a experiment? So it will perhaps seem unusual to suggest that the ironic may in fact be the classical basis for all scientific knowledge, though even Descartes’ reformulation of the basis of knowledge in terms of doubt and Lacan’s in terms of paranoia seem to indicate a deep psychological connection between science and the position of irony — of the “not so ignorant”!

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event, interface, machine, Politics, sense, sex, violence

Theses on Sexuality and Sense

Propositions

(1) Ontology is the geometry of assemblages, and logic the topology of evolving surfaces.

(2) The face is the ultimate object of political violence, or counting.

(3) Politics precedes being.

Axiom I: The face is an abstract political machine.

Proof: Faciality is the enigmatic source of radical freedom, the paradigmatic social assemblage. But in the face we also find the primary form of education, even of confidence — a critical power, and a critical powerlessness. Since the deployment of an ontological framework is always an operation, facialization is to functionalize, to become-abstract and even become-machine. Thus the question of sense becomes: how does our belief-desire constellation gain its apparent autonomy– or conversely, whence emerges the face’s power of making sense, of teaching, of bestowing confidence and trust? More simply, we quickly see this question is also: are freedom and power only to refer to social assemblages, in short, to particular historical spaces (and faces)?
But we can still conceive of a yet more primordial break and flow to sociality. Where the state-machine encounters the war-machine, we find the first true encounter. To be certain it is not the face, but rather the interface which is to be read as the immediate experience, a direct encounter with the overflowing infinity of being’s being. Thus the ontologically transversal encounter must be understood as unleashing the pure flow of social desire and belief, as unravelling or bifurcating the very medium of sociality. The inter-face is the mode of becoming two at once — thus also the primary machination.

Corollary: Infinity now appears as the impossible smoothing of an already ‘pre-stratified’ encounter, a transcendent light encountered as one approaches the exterior limit of being’s being. The dimension opened up by the face is one of a radical but immanent alterity, the overdetermined prerequisite, or becoming-in-motion of a state-signifiying machine.

Lemma I The infinity of the face is the only possible ethical criterion.

Proof: There is no ethics beyond the face, beyond the content or source of a self-coordinating vitality. Indeed the face is the very origin of radical social molecularity. Thus there is politics only behind the face, that is, between segments of responsibility-distribution. Political intensity is invested where it will produce affects and counter-actualizations in the social body– the very primordial molecular forms which structure, for example, facial expressions.
So the political comes before the face, but is always and immediately re-facialized. Can we derail or delay this moment of reification? But the political question would still always be: what is not shown? What lies behind the surface? The surface remains the whole of the ethical, the depths and heights already an ontological breach of the immanent revelation in the face of the other.

Corollary: Hence the vigor of dialectic involved within the political process as well as by its commentators. Yet dialogue is not the essential form of the political, but of the ethical. The form of the political is secrecy– the anonymous universal. A political system is built not by institutions but secret phrases, passwords, which magically transform the everyday into the eternal. The ‘dirty secret’ of politics is that it’s structure is inherently religious, indeed overtly sexual: the separation of church and state is no more than a slogan, a sort of geometric imbalance in a unified social energy field. We can take as a classic example the de-facializing authoritarian power source. The fulcrum of power is always an analogous point of radical divergence: we consider the full extent of social and biological ‘accomplishments’ to be the starting point of revolution, as witnessed in, for example, the constructed separation of genders, sexual orientations, political parties, social classes, etc.

Axiom II Therefore any ontology of sense would have to be able to distinguish between ideologies, and even to indicate where ideology is irrelevant: thus, such an ontology would be more like an ontology of nonsense. The aim of such a project must be to critically analyze process of the evolution of the political, before it questions the event of the political as such (or the molar and undifferentiated being of the political conditions.)

Proof: Political events create the spaces they act upon; the ‘pure’ political event would only alter the very topology of the political universe, for example, to open a new space for public enjoyment, or to close off a space for privacy. The question of an ontology of sense reduces the question to self-observation, the genesis of hiding away: for example, this division between the hidden and the visible could be read as a tension between the geometry (or grammar) of sense and the algebra or topology of the conditions of the event.
Perhaps more simply, there cannot be an ontology of sense per se because events are meta-logical interfaces which transcode energy. The ontology itself is an event, it is an oscillator or transducer–and thus it follows from the political which conditions and energizes it. There are only ever ontologies of nonsense: the conditions of the political are never stable, even for the serial time of contiguous moments. But the temporality of the political attains to an imperceptible time, as though from a cosmic energy-source. Thus singular, historically-contingent unities charade as both one and infinity: so the law manifests and miraculates itself as pure infinite judgment, born of an alternate temporality, perfect assemblages of an ‘eternal’ time.

Corollary: Thus we can understand the autogenesis of sense and sexuality at once. For sense partakes of yet a third order of temporality, as an interface between evolving forms and static forms. The flow is reciprocal: we should try as hard as we can to view sense as a kind of radically comprehensible mediation between the (infinite-dimensional) temporality of the law and the cartography (or four-dimensional tensor geometry) of bodily affects. Thus the categorizers of being’s being always miss the encounter. For sense is already the first permeable membrane, the mending of a gap, not the void but a breaking and recomposing. Sense is an intermediation, an interface, a transimulation: the sense event happens within, or between two layers or stages: sensitive zones, sensual coordinations, sensible conjugations.
This break is sexuality, or the real of the sexual encounter. A contact interwoven with non-contact, an infinite reflective image-density, in short: a distance more precious than contact. This infinitesimal or pure difference between surfaces mirrors the abyss of the depths of bodies, but spectrally, transcendentally, vocally — it engenders the very production of sociality, even perhaps of light itself. For there is a face before being and the void. Neither God, the Universe, nor Nature is silent–why, then, should we fall quiet before the very specters which shape and haunt our world, which speak through static? Why should we not sing with the boundless chaos just behind the glittering splendor of exteriority? We would rather howl than fall silent: for the true danger of a critical mass is never in relation to the social order which it would threaten to fragment, but only in relation to its own trajectory of escape.

Axiom III: Just as politics precedes ontology, an ‘ontology of sense’ would be a map of the singular points and vortexes of the process of social abstraction, or the tracing of flows, of machinic and virtual surplus-values.

Proof: It should now be clear that this is true because no event is possible on its own. Events are subjects in an autometric space, or a radically extrinsic geometry: events are possible only when compossible with every other event in their (pseudo)logical space.

Corollary: This also means subjects are events within an autopoetic space, or radically intrinsic rhizome: the pure difference between the event and itself is a minimal cut or hole which stitches the interface back onto historical praxis.

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