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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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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art, counter-symmetry, creativity, culture, difference, divinity, enlightenment, equilibrium, history, image, information, life, nature, noise, probability, revolution, Science / Mathematics / Technology, separation, symmetry, war machine

The Future of Information

In reality, goals are absent.

Nietzsche

Rivalry is only a spectacle; it is the state of appearance. Equilibrium is phenomenal, and the distance is real. The law of opposition belongs to phenomenology; the law of irreversibility or of falling downstream is real. Behind all representation.

Michel Serres

A Genealogy of Modern Science
Science appears to begin with the Greeks: somehow, somewhere, a resentful pre-scientific impulse begins to criticize the unity of life and culture. Some say that before this interruption, there must be an alien infiltration (the arguments for Oriental contributions to Greek culture,) but ultimately the “true” source is irrelevant, for it is this real criticism, this faithful engagement with the material culture, with everyday life, that is at once of the greatest importance, that is the authentic germ of enlightenment (Greek or otherwise.) For this criticism already contains a larval critique of creativity, of society, and most important for the development of a scientific instinct, a criticism of divinity and images. By Plato and Aristotle, science will separate itself completely from creativity, from works of the imagination and from art. Plato’s criticism of images (what we would call “advertising”) is well-known; Kant’s rejection of the empirical as a source for truth reproduces the same critique in reverse. In short, it is by rigorously separating life and culture that science discovers itself positively (i.e., as this objective dissocation, this symmetrically dis-sociative personality.)

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chaos, dialectic, dialogue, difference, family, God, multiplicity, nomad, Politics, state, time, war machine

What Can We Create?

If there were an exact center to the current political impasse, the short circuit of process, it would be this fact: that free discourse first demands a difference. It could be said that truth is always in conflict with destiny. An illegality, more universal than the universe, breaking the symmetry spontaneously and opening the way onto a new reality. In other words, beyond non-identity, there is yet a non-equality which goes deeper than a face-to-face opposition. The face is a complex torsion of the discursive space; whereas asymmetry may be the origin of space itself. Talking is terraforming, interring destiny, burying original forms deep underground; a willing hypnosis overcomes swarms of a priori contradictions. The earth does not countermand me; this refutes your objection. Consider, for example, when two entities differ so much they cannot be meaningfully compared, there is no isomorphism, no discursive space which can account for a relation between, which could isolate a structural symmetry. And in truth all situations are partial and fragments in this way, fractured, refracted, as their basic essence. Against appearances, the properly political situation is not only when a mutually valid criteria is inconceivable — but when it is even actually dangerous. Was dialectics ever dialogical? In other words, can a theory of contradiction be anything but itself a theoretical contradiction — could it perhaps trace beyond, beneath conflict? For certainly beneath human faces, human relations, many things flow…

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Anti-Oedipus, Dumezil, epic, incest, kingly function, mythology, sovereignty, war machine

The Hero and the Kingly Function: Starkadr in Dumezil’s Stakes of the Warrior

There are two versions of the story of Starkadr (Starcatherus), one Latin, the other Old Icelandic. Starkadr is forced into a precarious position, caught between Odin and Thor. Here I will follow the Icelandic tale for concision, only referring to the Latin to offset some details.

In the Icelandic tale there are two Starkadrs—the hero’s grandfather is of the same name. The first Starkadr is a powerful giant and is slain by Thor because the king’s daughter has run away with him. In fact, Thor is upset because she prefers the giant Starkadr to Thor and had consented to leaving. Before the giant is slain, though, the king’s daughter has a child who will be the father of Starkadr.
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