New Translation(s) of Laruelle on Univocal Press

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Uncategorized
Brett Amory, "Waiting"

Brett Amory, “Waiting”

Over at Univocal Publishing there is a new translation of Laruelle’s essay on non-ethics available on their blog. Be sure to go over and check this out here: http://univocalpublishing.com/blog/108-the-concept-of-an-ordinary-ethics-or-ethics-founded-in-man.

Hopefully this translation will help bring attention to the great work they are doing already. Be sure to check out the titles they have already published, and expect to see more Laruelle in the future (I’ll be publishing two of Laruelle’s translations with them next spring. You can find these in their book section). Also check out their two most recent translation on Struggle and Utopia and Photo-fiction!

Risk

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aesthetics / becoming / difference / disaster / laughter / machine

Paul Klee, “Insula Dulcamara” (1938); Oil on newsprint, mounted on burlap

I began writing this before disaster struck very close to home; and so I finish it without finishing it. A disaster never really ends; it strikes and strikes continuously — and so even silence is insufficient. But yet there is also no expression of concern, no response which could address comprehensively the immense and widespread suffering of bodies and minds and spirits. I would want to emphasize my plea below upon the responsibility of thinkers and artists and writers to create new ways of thinking the disaster; if only to mitigate the possibility of their recurrence. (Is it not the case that the disaster increasingly has the characteristics of the accident; that the Earth and global techno-science are increasingly co-extensive Powers?) And yet despite these necessary new ways of thinking and feeling, I fear it will remain the case that nothing can be said about a disaster, if only because nothing can ultimately be thought about the disaster. But it cannot be simply passed over in silence; if nothing can be said, then perhaps everything may be said.

Inherent to the notion of risk is the multiple, or multiplicity. The distance between the many and the multiple is nearly infinite; every problem of the one and the many resolves to the perspective of the one, while multiplicity always singularizes, takes a line of pure variation or difference to its highest power. A multiplicity is already a life, the sea, time: a cosmos or style in terms of powers and forces; a melody or refrain in its fractured infinity.

The multiple is clear in its “being” only transitorily — as the survey of a fleet or swarm or network; the thought which grasps it climbs mountains, ascends vertiginously towards that infinite height which would finally reveal the substrate of the plane, the “truth” of its shadowy depths, the mysterious origins of its nomadic populations.

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Odysseus, the Stranger-subject

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Death Mask of Agamemnon

If we look at the first 111 lines of the Odyssey, we are given a few key elements that paint the scene; the invocation of the muse leads directly to the distress of Odysseus’ situation in his journey home—this includes a) the slaughter and feasting of the cattle of Lord Helios, the Sun, by Odysseus’ men (10-16); b) a second invocation of the muse (17) indicating that he is now alone, held by the goddess Kalypso (20-22) who wants him “for her own” (25); c) but Odysseus was actually saved by Kalypso (cf. book 5), after he was punished by Poseidon, the only god who does not “pit[y]” Odysseus (31-32); d) yet Poseidon at the moment when the Odyssey begins is currently away (we could say ‘suspended’), enjoying sacrifices on the other side of the world (35-42), and so we hear Athena and Zeus plotting to save Odysseus; e) we are shown that Poseidon is angry because of the blinding of his son, Polyphemous (92-92), which will occupy the first event that Odysseus recounts in book 9 in Phaiacia; f) but Poseidon does not kill him, he merely keeps him adrift at sea, as though to torment him (98-99)…nevertheless, since Poseidon is only “one god” (104), Athena and Zeus decide to send the messenger god to tell Kalypso to “let the steadfast man [Odysseus] depart for home” (111).

But this merely sets the stage in medias res.  The action in ‘real time’ instead begins with Telemachus (his name literally means “far-away fighter”, perhaps an ironic nod to his absent father who left for Troy before Telemachus was born). Athena decides to intervene and tell Telemachus to seek out news of his father. Therefore, Telemachus will be the central character throughout books 1-4.  A perhaps overly simple question at this point presents itself: why does the narrative start with Odysseus’ son, rather than with Odysseus?

It is important to note that Telemachus in a sense is acting as the representative of Odysseus, since, for example, Helen almost immediately recognizes him due to his physiological features when he visits Menelaus’ palace, and this gives her a chance to tell a story about Odysseus disguised in rags, along with the first mention of the Trojan horse (book 4). So the drama of the Odyssey begins with Telemachus because he is caught in an awkward situation—he is held suspended, just like his father, and this suspension is in fact the suspension of sovereignty. Furthermore, for Telemachus, Odysseus is primarily suspended as a father. The suitors are brutally feeding off of his family livelihood, and they are all intent upon taking his father’s place. When Telemachus says to Athena, who is in disguise, “My mother says I am his son; I know not / surely. Who has known his own engendering?” (259-260), he is referring to the fact that for him Odysseus is only a name, a name that does not fill the lack of fatherhood or sovereignty. He has never known his father and has only had to go on faith, fiction and fantasy that the great Odysseus is his father; of course, the other side of the suspension is the fact that he does not know whether or not Odysseus is alive or dead, and it is this search that sends him on his journey. If Odysseus is dead, then supposedly Telemachus will be sovereign—the line will continue, and Telemachus will be formally called something like “Odysseides” or “Odysseidon”, the formal title of “son of Odysseus”, retaining the name of his father.

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Exology of the City

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acceleration / becoming / exhaustion / labyrinth / metaphysics / ontology / potentiality

How to think the infinity of the city, where all is fire and shadow? How could we hope to see into its opaque and terrible darkness; or hope to enjoy a view unblinded by its brilliant light? A city explodes into a world; perhaps under the tension of this polar opposition — fragments under the weight of its multiplicity — becomes a cosmos, all streams of flowing light and immense structuring voids…

The dromology at the heart of the city is a politics of speed at once micro- and cosmopolitical — exposing the shocking noological paucity of the city, the blank and empty image of thought which powers urban modernity; it perhaps allows us to take stark measures of the stakes, to grasp the violence which had to be done to thought to permit this way of life. The “noology” of the city is, shockingly and even obscenely, the pious ontology of the void, at once theological and capitalistic — empty schemata, a form without shape, living without ideation.

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Utopian

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becoming / metaphysics / Politics / sickness / thinking / utopia

“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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Post-media Piracy and the Common: Towards the Resingularization of Subjectivity

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guattari

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In his meditations on the nature of integrated world capitalism, Guattari proposed an idea that has for the most part remained undeveloped despite its obvious connections with the major motivations behind his work. The notion is that of a post-media era. Perhaps such an age would be focused more specifically on the re-singularization of subjectivity rather than on the possibilities of tailoring massive marketing schemes for the reduction of subjectivity to its smallest common denominator and its largest aggregates. This essay attempts to provide an outline of one of the areas of struggle (along with a number of skirmishes) in this post-media era concerned with the sharing and dissemination of media through different means made possible by the internet. Its goal is to evaluate the strategies of capitalism (specifically concerning copyright laws) towards thinking about its looming crackdown of what is termed internet piracy. Rather than dealing explicitly with the moral or legal questions about the legitimacy of piracy in general—do we, for example, resent or applaud the (future) laws (or lack thereof) qua laws or because of their entanglement in the strategies and motivations of capitalism?—here it seems more appropriate to reflect on the means through which integrated world capitalism has endeavored to appropriate what it perceives as potential markets and their consolidation. This investigation will thus have to consider the legal campaigns underway at present to address this issue of internet piracy. This will give us an opportunity to then suggest why this attempt to eliminate internet piracy will ultimately fail and how users online have already formulated practices beforehand in order to navigate the future prospect of legal repercussions for the online trafficking of different multimedia.

It would be fruitful to begin by unpacking the notion of a post-media era. We could of course turn to Guattari[1] and attempt an analysis of his few texts on the issue, but I believe the profundity of the notion may have been on the horizon of his thought for good reason. This notion of post-media both predates and anticipates the somewhat fantastic moment when the internet in its fullest form not only became a concrete possibility, but also an everyday reality for the general public. Although not necessarily perceived at first, the introduction of the internet acted (like any other medium) in such a way that it inevitably affected the position, influence and importance of the other media existing at the time; but it also made possible the distribution of virtually any other medium, and so it therefore functioned as a catalyst for a deterritorialization of an almost unlimited number of media capable of digitization as such that would become evident after only a few years in its activity.

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Dooley on Deleuze: the Dieulieuzian-Dooleuzian Disjunction

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Deleuze / Deleuze and Guattari / Laruelle / transmutation / zero

Thinking in waves

Let me just say that it has been such an honor and such a treat to welcome Brian Dooley and his voice to Fractal Ontology (cf. Brian’s recent work “Schizophrenia of Zero” and “Transvaluation“). I can only inadequately convey my excitement and joy to share a mutual interactive space with a free-spirit like Brian, who, in (not being) himself, constitutes a veritable thought-force, a violence that forces one to think. Nevertheless a positive violence that takes thought to its immanent limit; the violence of the witch’s broom and the dice throw. Obviously not an empirical violence…

How to engage such a violence while coming out unscathed? Wrong question: how to come out scathed, how to love the fate of the wound for which we are born–the nothingness and abyss through which Bryan transports (us). Hence the ethics of transmutation: not to be unworthy of what happens (to us), since the ‘us’ does not repeat in the purity of the event, except as surface effect…But also the ecology of the virtual, or, in another vein, the respons-ibility towards the infinity of dialogue: how to throw down the gauntlet for the exhaustion of the infinite conversation while affirming the negation of agon, the anagonic war at the genital heart of acephalic thought? The encounter where violence is simply the thresholds crossed by reactive forces being tapped into, activated, countereffectuated…

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Spectacles of Hate: Regarding the Disfigurement of Jean-Jacques

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Rousseau

Bacon, “Figure with Meat”, 1954

Particular facialities are bound to power formations which are themselves inseparable from all the interactions in the social field…A face is always tied to a landscape as its foundation in such a way that it shuts off in itself, shrivels away in the grips of an apparatus of power, or reopens on a line of flight in order to provide an exit toward other possibles.—The Machinic Unconscious[1]

De son côté il voudrait les éloigner, ou plutot s’en éloigner parce que leur malignité, leur duplicité, leurs vues cruelles blessent ses yeux de toutes parts, et que le spectacle de la haine l’afflige et le déchire encore plus que ses effets. Ses sens le subjuguent alors, et sitôt qu’ils sont frappés d’un objet de peine, il n’est plus maître de lui…C’est pour écarter de lui cet objet de peine don’t l’aspect le tourmente qu’il voudrait être seul.—Dialogues[2]

            In his first book published in Englishtitled The Sublime Object of Ideology, Slavoj Žižek only once turns to Rousseau briefly in order to find an example that illustrates the difference between two different forms of identification as formulated by Jacques Lacan. Surprisingly, Žižek does not consider any of Rousseau’s works that might more easily succumb to a Lacanian psychoanalytic reading, however superficial or profound it might attempt to be. (For example, the Social Contract could lend itself to the consideration of the instantaneity of the creation of subjectivity and sovereignty enacted retroactively according to a certain creative fiction, i.e. convention as political fantasy/ideology; Confessions as the retroactive taking responsibility of the past as overcoming of Otherness by the subject, as substance becomes subject, as presupposition of the Big Other’s existence; Émile as thinking beyond the entry of the I into the symbolic, as analysis through the looking-glass or mirror stage, etc.).Yet the reference in a perhaps arbitrary but curious way turns to the Dialogues, one of Rousseau’s later and perhaps lesser known books; to a certain extent, it singularly crystallizes and indicates some of the problems of the reception of Rousseau’s texts by his contemporaries that are taken up in this work. Žižek writes:

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Speculative Materialisms: Thinking the Absolute with Meillassoux and Guattari

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guattari / Meillassoux / Politics / speculation / utopia

          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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Theory 1: Epigrams and Involutions

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becoming / Deleuze / language / Nietzsche / ontology / Politics

Theory 1: Epigrams and Involutions

“When I’m dreaming back like that I begins to see we’re only all telescopes.” Joyce, Finnegan’s Wake

“We have to learn to think differently — in order at last, perhaps very late on, to attain even more: to feel differently.” Nietzsche, Daybreak, II.103

“The greater part of the world’s troubles are due to questions of grammar.” Montaigne

Preface. These collected epigrams, my thoughts of the morning — and occasionally late evening — this collection of azure and gleaming obsidian birds, I give to you today. If only you could have seen these terrible thoughts, these wicked birds in life, in joyful flight! I give this gift also to mark a break from this work, this first theory, this Theory 1 — for some of it is now alien to me. We are still becoming. Another theory, to refocus and amplify the first; incipit the second!

With infinite love,

Joseph Weissman, July 22, 2012 C.E.

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Differend

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becoming / difference / language / literature / micropolitics / ontology
Avaishi, "Music of the Spheres"

Avaishi, “Music of the Spheres”

Light. Events are not inherently luminescent, but perhaps in a certain light (to careful observers) they may become perceptible. Part of the difficulty of this logic is that the event cannot be contained within a stable image or duration; they perhaps consist in this inconsistent stuttering of sign-particles, which are in turn capable of directly becoming cosmic, of becoming all the infinite senses of being. What vision could encompass such a multiplicity? Such a vision must be winged, born of flight; yet the event has been almost exclusively seen at ground level… The event presents itself as a simple materiality — this matter being that of stable bidirectional relations, of structured time and historical urgency; but does the event as such not reveal a certain intimacy with series of powers passing into one another, contingently actualizing singular, one-way relationships — in other words: with a kind of parasitical symbiosis? After all is there not an uncanny emergence from absolute zero demanded by dialogical relations, an acceleration of virtual movements to infinite speeds — explosive actualizations “from nothing” commensurate with pestilence, neurosis, hyperinflation, ontological collapse? Why do breakdowns and contagions precede the event, even perhaps the concept of the event? An infernal engine, an unholy workshop is required to induce the requisite uncanny and highly-contingent situations in which they can emerge. A line of flight tearing at the seam of the cosmos: the event rides a wave of radical decoding and weaponization; it presents a body or a subject not only with the problem of transmission but more ominously of cryptanaylsis and disarmament. Events present thought with an unnatural abyss, even a terrifying vortex; the greatest risk of thinking the event is omitting the background noise against which it becomes audible; in this sense the event is wildly contingent, merely an artifact of the white noise, the abysmal depths, the darkness from which it distinguishes itself.

Differend. Only what stirs, what stutters, what shakes is essential; only a minor literature, and only when it directly mobilizes intensification and becoming, is capable of releasing from the bondage of the signifier and the subject (and hence the body, the spirit, the cosmos, existence, time.) Minor literature deploys infinite movements as emancipatory operations; in this sense a literature is not “minor” in a structural or numerical sense, but rather only exists because of a people who are yet to arrive, that is: infinite speeds are the engine of minor thinking and writing, and the acceleration towards them is gravitational; is a minor artist or writer not always already drawn forward into a dangerous course by an unbroken dawn? A knife’s edge of pure mutation permits incision through reality itself; minor writing becomes transcendental through a process of empirical experimentation with speeds and movements. Difference in itself, the recursion of infinite movement repeating-in-itself; repetition in itself, the divergence of infinite speed differing-in-itself: the minor transforms, permits the differend or the different-in-itself to become audible and visible, by shattering the linear order of time in the name of a time to come.

Living

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becoming / black holes / capitalism / creation / difference / language / metaphysics / ontology / power

Francis Bacon, Tryptych (Inspired by Oresteia)

What is modern? It can perhaps be discerned in the radical questioning of the status of piety, a questioning which slowly infects every discipline and discourse — a questioning, in other words, coextensive with a generalized instrumentalization, experienced at the psychic level as a new asceticism. Modernity in this sense includes souls no longer living; it embodies achromatically the spirits of wildly disparate eras. In this way we may perhaps be permitted to speak of the modern both as a regime of forms and as a series of powers — a question of celestial purity and terrestial madness. Thus every people participates in an eternal modernity, or perhaps it is that the modern is always arriving or yet to arrive.

The stable conception of identity is the central problem and “utopian” promise of modernity. Very early on, relatively speaking, the problem was decisively proved to be undecidable. It perhaps took longer to realize that the promise could not be kept; that the modern enacts the irreversible rending of the identical from individuation, that it will not (and perhaps cannot) be halted. The modern is then not irreversible in the sense that a regression is not possible, but rather irreversible in the sense that once intiated we cannot determine when the involution, the deferral, the sickness will stop.

The modern is a health and a sickness of cosmic proportions; a dream of infinitely-deferred waking, which is perhaps to say a nightmare. The modern assembles war machines, and the uncanny and passionate hunger of modernity is the thirst of virtual incorporealities for actualization. This hunger perhaps accounts for a certain globalizing impulse; for the modern at its best populates or resingularizes, it directly engages processes of subjectivity; yet at its worst this same tendency perhaps accounts for the propensity of the modern to provoke the shocking encouragement of complicity with horror and the cynical dissolution of the subject in a transcendent universality.

The symptoms of modernity are radical involution, future shock, motion sickness and infinite deferral. The modern is then perhaps a variety of dreamsicknesses; the dangerous problem of a daybreak eternally deferred. Yet is this very eternity not suspiciously excessive, the deferral not strangely disjointed? Are we, fractured group-subject of modernity, not untimely, not continuously on the verge of actualizing and thereby exceeding  it?

Francis Bacon, “Fragment of a Crucifixion”

Living. The intolerable ignominy of possibilities of life under capital should not be permitted to cause us to forget the reality of infinite becoming. Evolution and genesis, or the development of contiguous spacetimes and automorphisms, are powers of the infinite; and a life is always already this infinity. It is never simply a question of an organism but rather a problem of pure variation: infinite movements compose and condition living; infinite speeds permeate a life. Inorganic life lives exclusively at these speeds, in a hyperaesthetic eternity that traverses history. It moves across a slice of a time, through a supple segment of a world; yet a life is not merely the traversal of a spacetime or a form (territories and landscapes, organisms and faces) but it is also the direct reality of flows and forces: rhythms and speeds, signifying regimens and variable frameworks of production. It is not individual or collective but infinite, neither alter nor ego but singularis. We do not know the limits of what it can do or will become — in fine: what living, thinking, feeling could be. Though the risks of an errant involution are grave and even incalculable; yet any life, any feeling, any thought whatsoever is destined to find itself at some longitude or latitude on the plane of immanence — that is to say, always already in flight, swept up by a line of continuous variation, facing infinite risks with limitless potential.

Mapmakers. Desire becomes perceptible to a schizoanalytic cartography only because such a mapping undertakes anew in each case the cautious assembly of a map of the unconscious with everything included: experimentally activating and quantifying virtual lines of flight, calculating the gravitational acceleration of semiotic black holes — and determining the structural characteristics of white walls.

Geosophy. Geology and geometry both initate absolute surveys; and in their own ways they are each aerial formal analytics, turned inward and outward in a reciprocal relation; at infinite speeds might they not fuse? The earth may be both speculated stratigraphically, or evaluated strategically in terms of virtual movements; and so a geometer offers unknowingly a dangerous secret to a geologist, and vice versa. In both there is the unnoticed presence of an unexplored sense of or practice within the discipline, which when fully articulated would make it possible to organize both evaluative and speculative faculties otherwise. In any case, of course, an enormous divergence has already occurred from their common origin and destiny — the earth and theory each as a life in communication with the other: not the philosophy of genesis but philosophy as genesis. The vertiginous collapse and interfusion of the hard and soft precede the gentle birth of a geosophy, joyous science of the (maladies afflicting the) body of the Earth — perhaps at the end of an arc traced by the flight of a golden ball…

New Serres in English: Biogea from Univocal

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biology / daybreak / irreversibility / language / Politics / Serres

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“Always the same. This history could make a rock cry from boredom and death. How sad that history seems when faced with the crystalline and floral diversity of things; how often human history seems monotonous in comparison to the enchanting adventures of the world.” (Michel Serres, Biogea)

The presses at Univocal have caught fire lately. This first English translation (thanks to Randolph Burks) of a major work of Michel Serres, the Biogea, thunders with the authors’ fierce ingenuity and glows with his gentle wisdom. Michel Serres always versifies, but in the rhapsodic Biogea, this spontaneous musicality becomes symphonic: stories and theories slowly develop their singular contours in high-tension counterpoint. Fabulations and memories pass into theories and critique; celestial and rapturous encomia to the Biogea flow from the most severe of warnings about a biosphere on the verge of irreversible catastrophe.

The essence of the work is profoundly multiple; the Biogea hums and resonates with both intimate and radically alien languages. In prose that openly fabulates and mythologizes, Serres gives immersive voice to a series of critical memories — cautiously re-entering the serpentine fluidity of the waters of his youth on the sea or rehearsing a terrible symphony of wind, wolves and human cries on a dangerous trek up Mount Everest — enveloping these delicate arias within elegant theoretical formulae.

Biogea is an animated, joyous, spiritual work; a new sculpture of Venus rising from chaotic seas. Serres becomes a many-tongued artist of pure mutation; our Joyce, prophet of fire for the hypertext era, here close in spirit to Deleuze. Artaud said the violent blows of Van Gogh’s brush knocked even rivers off their course; suffice perhaps to say the joyous ellipses traced in this work could not help but shift time, life, the world around us from their former trajectory. Biogea is joy: hence a future and untimely book, even a dangerous book, written in vigorous defiance of a melancholy history.

The text is highly recommended to readers of Serres, who will undoubtedly luxuriate in the glowing pages of this powerful and delicate work. For those not yet familiar with Michel Serres, it may serve as a whirlwind introduction to the most urgent themes in his later work; and since to some degree it also provides a personal-critical intellectual history of the author, it might even be recommended before other major works such as the Parasite or Troubadour of Knowledge.

Sorcery

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automation / becoming / difference / event / Hermes / noise / ontology

Sorcery. What is the limit of what a noise can do? A certain noise means extinction for almost all regimes — not only of signs; it is an explosion of intensity or desire which renders the channel inert, background. Semiotosis. Sonority refusing to yield a signal: noise induces a traversal of infinite depths which bursts the strata into pieces, rupturing the semiotic-discursive chains. Noise is also a pure becoming, the becoming-sonorous of an incorporeal field of virtuality. The elements of one or several assemblages are caused to pass into one another, initiating “unnatural” pairings. Noise is the friction, resistance of the assemblage against itself; it always already struggles with a tendency or power which means to control the channel and recode the outburst. The becoming-musical of noise is another development of this problem and involves inducing vorticial structures — establishing rhythms to respond to chaos, refrains to respond to the finitude of the strata. This is perhaps why music introduces us forcefully and as it were intimately to sorcery, direct contact with the Outside, and the annihilation of the judgment of God; refrains and rhythms awaken nomads and their warmachines.

Sorcery is an applied ontology of the depths, the extrusion of a probehead into the sub-depths of being — what passes beneath ontology, what escapes the functionalization-reduction of existentiality; it is thus an empirical investigation into what drives the apparently ‘natural’ deployments of political, legal, scientific, and mathematical hegemonies. Sorcery discovers beneath signs-particles a vorticial and monstrous “recursive” depth; it finds the cosmos inverted: the symbol is determined as that which the depths resist in favor of free expressivities, even as they are witnessed to spontaneously generate free sign-particles, ions of deterritorialization traversing the full body at infinite speeds and creating whirlwinds of reterritorializations in their wake. War machines and becomings are always already threatening to overtake the territory, to overcode the channel; there is always a more powerful molar regime threatening to interrupt our tiny molecular flow. The question of the line of flight and its attendant risks must be understood in both the military and theoretical sense simultaneously; becoming one or several lines means taking on nearly every risk imaginable. The problem involved in desire is machinic, a problem with the non-relation between the signal and the channel: alien everywhere, a nomad is a becoming-deterritorialized, an escaping and an escapedness-from-being into the depths or heights, and is precisely the differential element of two systems which cannot contain their elements. The parasite stands at the borderline between thought and being, permitting a cross-signaling across the infinite gap — activating the components of passage which permit a becoming or involution.

Sorcery discovers the noise and frenzy at the heart of the body — the parasitic-bacterial character which dominates terrestrial biota — and diagnoses the illnesses afflicting the full body, determines the resistant qualities of power to illnesses of various kinds. The sorcerer is the first empiricist in this sense — and the sorcerers’ secret (or dream?) has been to “watch only the movements,” to soberly identify components of passage; he is involved with measuring speeds, establishing coordinates on the plane of immanence. Nevertheless and perhaps uncannily it is also precisely this pure or ‘total’ empiricism which generates a transcendental coherence capable of acting as a relay for radically external powers. The full body resists parasitization by the desiring machines; its original state is blank, like the dancer’s pose and her grace; a potentiality which refuses to yield to possibility, merging desire upon desire into a sublime awakening into blindness. Sorcery is metabiological, metacivilizational — a matter of complicity with the anonymous. The full body is smooth, the surface protected from the violent probeheads of the desiring machines; and yet there are schisms — indeterminate zones where enough force can induce a breaking point, permit an encounter with the outside, which must still pass through a certain barrier. An attempted involution or passage cannot be determined in advance, the trajectory is essentially unpredictable; whether it will be a breakdown or a breakthrough cannot be known. First principle of caution.

A sign-particle erupts from a refrain, from the nomad, from any ‘static’ wave of deterritorialization; even animals, molecules, the stars emit these tiny singularities that correspond without imitation to the constellations of becomings that traverse music, poetry, literature, painting. This molecular dimension of becoming is precisely the noisy determination of universal history, its contingency or continuous torsion into the asignifying; and it is through becoming-molecular that the operations by which sorcery ruptures the barriers of time become conceivable. The movement of the flows of desire correspond to existential coordinates, conditions of becoming of incorporeal virtualities — abstract machines. The vorticial or warmachine-like organizations of the semiotic, computational, financial, ecological, philosophical and sociodemocratic planes of development indicate the intervention of another order entirely — an abstract war machine driving the assemblage into a singularity.

The internet is a terrifying semiotic war machine, even a plane of development for warmachines. It is increasingly clear the parasitic-hegemonic dimensions of globally-connected communication/computation networks, integrated deeply into social life, may very well pass unrecognized until it is far too late. The critical question involves the rate of development of signifying regimes — the extraordinary pace of interaction between elements of the contemporary infosphere permit the collective enunciation not only of particular phrases or images but complex assemblages involving components of expression, partial forms, passage. Becomings sonorous, visual and hypertextual are relentlessly synthesized to construct ever more powerful singularities and vortexes, to ostensibly utilize in an apparatus of capture — but on behalf of whom?

Second principle of caution. Becomings do not come cheap, and involve pacts with radically external or extra-cosmic Powers. Here be demons. Memories/becomings-x involve metamorphosis, mutation, molecular revolution: relationships of movement and rest, accelerations and decelerations are taken to their immanent limits. The dangers are numerous and grave, especially those special dangers for artists and writers (the suicidal trajectories that are inevitable for every line of flight.) Of particular concern in the context of precaution is the issue of deviation, which sometimes means decay and degeneration; a becoming does not always yield a higher, “rarer” type. You cannot know, a heuristic principle of caution: noisy becomings are inherently beyond the grasp of ontological determination. They convoke the involution of unrelated assemblages, spontaneously interchange components and molecular flows, initiate a generalized decoupling of the perceptual, semiotic and affective-desiring orders. We cannot know in advance the sense or consequence of the becomings traversing the smooth spaces of our experiments. A becoming indicates an ulterior dimension to being itself: molecular, spiritual and natural forces emerge from beyond the psyche, beyond the cosmos — memory demands an encounter with a radical outside. The only rule is to be cautious in experimentation: to exercise a calculating prudence in response to the movement of the signifier across the chill black depths of infinite space.

Animal

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The status of the animal raises a number of critical questions — for psychology, for political economy, but also for philosophy, gathering together the problem of the meaning of the animal as well as the question of the nature of the relationship between human beings and animals.

We shall attempt to explore the problematic status of the animal through the investigation of the status of animals in antiquity. What might ancient beliefs in metempsychosis, and the ancient practices of ritual animal sacrifice, indicate about the meaning of animality?

We submit that philosopher of technology Gilbert Simondon, as well as philosopher Gilles Deleuze and militant psychoanalyst Felix Guattari offer singular insights, although in different ways, into these problems. We shall have occasion to turn to both the tenth plateau of Deleuze and Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus “Becoming-intense, Becoming-animal…”, as well Simondon’s Two Lessons on Animal and Man.

For each of these thinkers, the question of the animal becomes an empirical and pragmatic matter suitable for a radical ethology: how do spiritual and natural forces enter into composition with one another? What assemblages do animals and humans compose, and in what ways do they pass into one another? What movements and speeds characterize the abstract machine driving the process of becoming-animal, and what intensities and affects do they involve? What happens to these intensities, becomings and assemblages when they enter into new frameworks of composition?

We will try to demonstrate that there is a revolutionary dimension to metempsychosis that was negated by the theological demands of Christianity. The metaphysics of metempsychosis involves a pre-individual soul capable of transmigrating to another body after death, while the eschatology of a final judgment requires a soul be individualized once and for all, with no transmigration.

[This is an abstract written in response to a CFP. The presentation is provisionally entitled, The Metaphysics of Sacrifice: Metempsychosis and the Pre-individual Spiritual Milieu.“]

About the Authors:

Taylor Adkins is a Ph.D. candidate in Comparative Literature at Emory University.

Joseph Weissman is a computer programmer and blogger. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Georgia College and State University.

Metamorphosis

comments 5
becoming / Deleuze / difference / ontology

Metamorphosis. There is a kind of explanatory knot or gap in every narrative model of world history; a thread of teleology which tightens around the throats of every minor voice, every parasite and schism. One of the gravest dangers of the line of the flight is the line itself. The notion of a trauma which fractures history itself is built into the problematic vision of a historical totality. It seems to me that it is a rehabilitation of the concept of the event as substance of history and radical irruption at once which is required, rather than the restoration of the concept of ‘story’ as total historical narratological unity leading to some eschatological utopia — whether Judgment Day or finally-actualized communism, this is the force of ideology at its purest (Nick Land’s recent article in Urban Futures conveys some of the unsettling depths of this problem).

Metamorphosis participates in a series of evental diagrams which collectively assemble situations, gradually ‘applying’ these diagrams in order to accelerate or decelerate certain movements, intensities, affects, passions. The point is not about imitative action but becoming-molecular. The psychoanalytic investigation of the unconscious is effectively deadlocked around this central difficulty — only beginning to be displaced by the gradual transformation of linguistics into a praxis or pragmatics, a diagrammatology. The movement of the signifier is bound within vorticial frameworks that traverse the unconscious like a network; a kind of wormhole dynamics where lines of flight are intimately related to lines of death.

The intermixing of abstract forces and concrete forms, expressions and contents, enables a practice like schizoanalysis to be possible — by subtracting a dimension, the political dimension of a milieu becomes visible, “auto-diagrammed” as a collective assemblage of enunciation. The ‘automatic’ character of the schizoanalytic process should not be dismissed; it is indeed a kind of auto-experimentation, the cautious and deliberate extrusion of abstract machines from within their concretized expressions, gently removing the shackles from desire. Inspiring metamorphosis involves meta-modeling — diagramming tendencies, processes and functions heuristically in order to maximize them. The whole problem is within metempsychosis, in a way — the possibility of ‘de-individualizing’ and ‘re-individualizing’ into another existence, which points towards a pre-individual intensive continuum.

The political dimensions of phenomena like metempsychosis point to the joy and freedom implicit in myths of metamorphosis. Is there a secret or hidden aspect to the animals, to the earth, to moments and becomings? This secret or this withdrawal is related to the possibility of an alternative orientation, which is perhaps to say to philosophy’s radical project of the creation of a ‘free’ subjectivity, one not subservient to the aims of State or the Church — who with critical joy and deliberate freedom aggressively seeks the demystification of world-historical narratives, whose daybreak is the twilight of all false idols, all master codes.

Three Hundred

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We would like to take a moment to celebrate a milestone: Fractal Ontology is now over four years old and boasts more than 300 posts.

We’ve upgraded our theme to celebrate. We are hoping that it might also serve to make navigating through our archives a bit more accessible and pleasant. We would like to invite you to explore!

We would also like to take this oppourtunity to express our heartfelt gratitude for those who have supported us here with kind words and encouragement — or have gone even further, and extended to us a chance to engage in discussion and debate. Thank you. (You’re awesome!)

Simmel and Simondon: From the Ventures of Life to the Advent of Adventure

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I have added a strange note to the end of this post that…trails off at the end. When you see it, if you do, good reader, (ha, old conventions are funny), it will make sense that it does not make sense (to which, they replied, you mean the paper or the note?) What a wonderful audience. Anyway, this paper needs to be cleaned up immensely (as I specify later), so please be patient and suspend all belief/disbelief….In any case, I think that ascetically revised and focused, this work dovetails into questions that Laruelle has elaborated concerning the foundations of the human sciences or what he calls sciences of men. On the one hand, the bricolage translation I threw together on Speculative Heresy of Laruelle on Simondon and technics is a good starting point to connect non-philosophy with Simondon; on the other hand, it would be interesting to engage Simmel in the work of non-philosophy (perhaps as material? ha!). All sketchy thoughts, which can be followed if the route is trekked and mapped…

(Reading) Simmel sans Simondon: Part I

            In his chapter “How Is Society Possible,” Georg Simmel inquires into the unity of society on the basis of an analogy derived from Kant concerning the question of the conditions of possibility of nature. While for Kant nature is synthesized by the mind’s activity so as to structure it, Simmel argues that society is unified without the need for an observer, even if there can be an additional synthesis by an outside observer in terms of a spatial metaphor (6-7). In any case, there is arguably no need for an observer because the elements of a society are individuals investing their psychic energies in such a way as to already be absorbed in the relations that unify it (7). Nevertheless, the answer Simmel derives via the analogy with Kant’s question does not necessarily satisfy him from the start, for he declares that the entire contents of his monumental Soziologie will be devoted to it: “it inquires into the processes—those which, ultimately, takes place in the individuals themselves—that condition the existence of individuals as society…not as antecedent causes of this result, but as part of the synthesis to which we give the inclusive name of ‘society’” (8). In other words, Simmel’s question does not allow for a simplistic solution in terms of abstract conditions of possibility, since it continues to question in what sense the “concrete processes in the individual consciousness” correspond with “processes of sociation”, and how these processes inform how there can be a “production of a societal unit out of individuals” (8). On the basis of these reflections, Simmel will argue that sociation or association (Vergesellschaftung) should therefore be conceived as “functions or energies of psychological processes” insofar as it involves the interaction of concrete individuals; nevertheless, in abstract terms that may not necessarily be realizable, it can also be conceived as “ideational, logical presuppositions for the perfect society” (9). In this sense, individuals are the society they deserve, insofar as they are at the basis of their actual interactions and their idealizations of the perfect society which is from the start fueled by their psychic energies.

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‘Aversi sumus, perversi sumus’ : Augustine and the Eclipse of God

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The following is an essay that I composed for a class last semester on the cultivation of the self. It is a work in progress, and I have added idiosyncratic notes to the work in brackets–don’t mind them if they don’t make sense…In any case, the main inspiration behind this work is my ongoing engagement with F. Laruelle and the term vision-in-One–which I believe in some way can be traced back to Plotinus in some fashion, but perhaps further back. My lack of expertise as a classicist will betray itself very quickly as soon as the reader sees the way in which I attempt to engage the Latin; please don’t be put off to much if I seem to fetishize the Latin vers/vert/volt/volu, etc. and notions of light, darkness, and seeing.  Now that I’ve discouraged every reader possible…..enjoy!

In the fifth of his Enneads, Plotinus elaborates a paradigm of seeing that will return consistently in the metaphorical language of conceptualizing understanding and the will in terms of a specific kind of vision, namely that of an inner, intellectual vision that provides access to a domain beyond that of corporeal phenomena.  Perhaps it would be better to call Plotinus’ model an incorporeal theory of vision:

But since the Intellectual-Principle is not to see this light as something external we return to our analogy; the eye is not wholly dependent upon an outside and alien light; there is an earlier light within itself, a more brilliant, which it sometimes sees in a momentary flash…This is sight without the act, but it is the truest seeing, for it sees light whereas its other objects were the lit not the light (Enneads V: 7).

The mind is here conceived as being photoreceptive without the need for a physical, ocular organ. The question of a “sight without the act” and an “earlier light” will come to dominate the language of St. Augustine and, for different yet strikingly similar reasons, also that of Renatus Descartes. In what follows we intend to show how the notion of an inner vision will come to dominate the thinking of Augustine and Descartes to such an extent that their projects would seem less tenable without its utilization. In other words, how does the notion of inner vision come to structure Augustine’s narrative of finding the path to conversion, and what sort of insights can this provide us concerning Descartes’ separation of the senses from the mind (i.e. does the res cogitans have eyes?).

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Simondon in English: “Two Lessons on Animal and Man”

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animal / desire / ecology / individuation / mythology / psychology / Simondon

It is my great delight to help announce the publication of one of the first book-length English translations available of the writings of French philosopher of technology Gilbert Simondon (1924-1989), published by Univocal. The volume is available under the title Two Lessons on Animal and Man and was translated by Drew Burk. The work is composed of a series of lectures intended for undergraduates interested in the humanities, especially philosophy, sociology and psychology.

As the translator puts it, “[f]or many, Gilbert Simondon is an unheard of landscape of philosophical inquiry. For other thinkers such as Gilles Deleuze and Bernard Stiegler his work on individuation is essential for the task of moving outside anthropocentric conceptions of identity formation and humanity’s relationship to the technical universe.” (Two Lessons on Animal and Man, Translator’s Note) I might merely add that in this text Simondon offers insights that are of vital urgency and interest, especially to those called by this aptly-designated “task.”

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Occupy Theory!

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becoming / event / interconnection / language / philosophy / Politics / self-organization / society

The 99% movement sweeping the globe is indeed something new under the sun. Little molecular revolutions, the occupations are rhizomes; in this clear revolt against neoliberal “realism” who does not see the spirit of sixty-eight, dormant for a long winter of four decades, awakening once more?

Thinkers have not only the opportunity but in many ways a profound obligation to help focus and organize the will of the people, to help inspire and to amplify revolutionary reflection and affect.

While the medium of thinking is primarily writing, nevertheless theory can help crystalize and push complex systems towards transformation — towards becoming-something-else. This transformation need not, as some might have it, be specified entirely in advance; indeed, such a specification is perhaps impossible.

The self-regulated emergence or becoming of the people’s voice through the consensual decision-making mechanism of general assembly, the thunderous roar of the people’s mic, are things that philosophy should not simply note, or even sit back and interpret, but actively encourage and assist.
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Spectral

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becoming / language / machine

Treated drawing, Steve Calvert. (http://www.mechanicalbrides.com/stevecalvert.html)

“The greater part of the world’s troubles are due to questions of grammar.” (Montaigne)

Protocol. Perhaps one dimension of the aesthetic appeal of the mechanical is in the ‘purity’ of the interleaving of dynamisms — the quality of being a kind of ‘moving’ and even ‘living’ diagram that excites certain sensitivities. Each machine is already a manifold network of various configuration-spaces (involving significant mechanical, environmental, logical factors, etc.) — its singular and intricate behavior produced ‘simply’ by becoming activated and operated. I ask: how was it possible to lay out a common plane where signs and objects, code and data and things and people could all participate ‘democratically”?

Everything unfolds as though some master plan were pre-existent, as though the very organization of society, language and thought itself implicitly support a certain orientation, a certain set of virtual borderlines and existential territories establishing a kind of plane of consistency. The capitalist mode of production engenders the conditions for a radical destruction of the consistency of classical plans in place of a generalized decoding of flows; that is to say, flows of words, devices, actions, passions, people, all swept up into a decoded ‘polyvocity’, a collective elocution of a machinic assemblage complete with black holes and lines of flight, bursting with fractal islands of knowledge and complexity. The network illuminates.

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Earth

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acceleration / Deleuze / machine / metaphysics / motion / Nietzsche / ontology / Serres / sign

In the duplicity of beauty there is the strange trope of a presence which is the shadow of itself, of a being which, anachronously, lurks in its own trace. (Levinas, Otherwise than Being)

Loyalty to Earth! There is a primordial immanence of the body, a primacy of lived experience; natural-and-spiritual forces are firstly constellations of singular point-signs, assembling lines of flight or death, and merely falsified (explicated at best) through signifying abstractions incapable of unleashing — and in fact devoted to nullifying — their chaoid variability. The Earth, whose infernal and howling depths unground the transcendence of organic representation, purifies the living death of abstraction through oblivion.

Consider the transcendent death-carrying agency transmitted by the sign, its inherent duplicity and danger. Signals hide virulent spiritual and natural forces beneath their opaque transparency, imperceptible and uncanny agencies strategically and fiercely engaged in combat against the tyranny of heaven.

The speech of angels would be the unvoice of the Godhead, the planetary annunciation of a regime of point-signals (logospheres) ungrounding or self-awakening. Desertification indexes fiery pathways to aridity, holey spaces desiccated by an eternal fire. Consider Heraclitus’ paradox of the inescapable proximity of  warmth and dryness: “[h]ow, from a fire that never sinks or sets, would you escape?”

For the destiny of matter is to be swept up and conjoined to a differential field of explosions, overturnings — to be thrown into a combat zone. Read More

Genesis

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capitalism / death / difference / disaster / expressivity / future / health / humanity / language / machine / metaphysics / modernity / nihilism / Politics

Genesis. Enormous psychosocial and political transformations were necessary in order to put into place the global transhistorical capitalist institutions we take for granted. Capitalism is different, genetically as it were, from all previous ways of organizing human society. It dissolves society in favor of the decoded flows of pre-individual traits and elements which will form abstract labor and commodities. This dissolution is what previous forms of society had attempted to prevent. They had precisely developed various auto-immunities against this total subversion of traditional sense and value engendered by the radical deterritorialization attending the development of capital.

Modernity is this insane and universal cosmopolitan social order which encircles everything within its technocratic grasp; degeneration, death, disaster and apocalypse are both its legacy and sense. What remains for subjectivity but the twin messiahs of nothingness — the state and the market? A timeless celestial burrowing-machine and a timely sociopolitical ungrounding-device — messenger and channel, rex and flamen.

"Cosmic Ovulation" by Claude McCoy

"Cosmic Ovulation", Claude McCoy

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Statement

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assemblage / becoming / code / differentiation / disorder / escape / grammar / heresy / language / Nietzsche / structure / virus

Hypermediation. What is a statement? But the problem is already determining the singular projection of the statement onto life: both to identify the variously formed matters contained within it, with each of their constituent speeds and trajectories; but also the strata which capture and isolate (or ramify and merge) these intensities through one another. A statement is attached to productive networks which run throughout society; it is an auto-projection of the truth of society onto itself, which is perhaps to say the power of the false characteristic of a time.

Power induces, but also overflows and overdetermines the statement. The formations of power are composed of segmented, modular processes resembling and indeed modeled on the ‘rational ordered liberty’ which statements engender. The  statement surveys power itself as the structuring concept for philosophy, science and politics. Yet the productive networks negotiate the statement via a complex assemblage of enunciations in an asignifying and seamless process to which no subject may be attributed. The revolutionary potential of a statement can never be said to have been completely annihilated. Furthermore, this constituent impossibility of attribution which characterizes the statement can also be seen in the way it forms a projection of the social landscape as if from any position whatsoever — or from no position at all.

New Translation of Laruelle’s ‘Biography of the Eye’

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night / other / speculation / vision-in-one / world

Biography of the Eye by François Laruelle

Originally published as “Biographie de l’oeil,” La Decision philosophique 9 (1989): 93-104.

for Adolfo Fernandez Zoila

“Man is this night, this empty nothingness that contains everything in its undivided simplicity…he is this night that one sees if one looks a man in the eyes.”

Hegel

Supplement to Hegel’s judgment concerning man

A philosopher has never looked a man directly in the eyes. The philosopher is the man who turns his eyes away to look man in the eyes: he is a man with a distorted gaze. The philosopher misrecognizes the immediate for he himself is not immediate.

To look in the eyes: a maxim of philosophical curiosity, of its oblique indiscretion.
The philosopher is the man with an oblique gaze who lacks the straightforwardness of man.

To look in the eyes: this multiple sounds like a singular, like the penetration into the unique depths of the soul, if it isn’t simply a possibility of untruthfulness or contradiction between the eyes, quickly effaced.

The philosopher looks at man from outside: in the eyes, and he can only see the void and the night, a haze that thickens into nothingness or dissipates in the light of day.

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Irreal

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noise / subjectivity / truth / violence

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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Event

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change / creation / rupture / turbulence

Events are decentered and non-relational, and always a kind of creation (the event is the very introduction of novelty into existence.) As the substance of history events amount to  chasms splitting the world in two, and sometimes sweeping it away, or even shattering it to pieces. The event insofar as it is always already the production of revolution, is the very becoming of becoming.

Now, an ontologist naturally grasps the event precisely through its diaphanous non-identity, in its differential externality, and especially as a kind of infinite multiplicity. The event is understood then as a kind of hyper-being, a without-being which enters into being through –what, precisely? The void — which is to say, it must create itself through a bizarre repetition, but whence? An infinite dissemination is demanded. And what of the turbulence of the Event, its volcanic or cyclonic roaring?

CMS_Higgs-event

Emancipation can be understood as the liberation of forces necessary to produce the will to resistance. This event is indeed “eternally recurring”: strained ears may catch the distant footfalls of daybreak, and the dangerous voice of a love without a history and without hierarchies — which is, after all, not a signifier to be interpreted, not a “meaning,” but an asignifying rupture, already an act of creation.

Quiet

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counter-linguistics / derrida / resistance / schizophrenia / silence

white-mountain-top-wallpapers_11371_1280x1024

Silence, that shadow of language in which everything is nevertheless said, is today almost always but a lapse, the momentary oversight of an animal which acts as though in speech it found its very reality, its absolute and primary function. The distinction between language and noise dwindles, and yet is taken all the more seriously. Too often our silence seems but a desire to escape noise; it is so rarely to evade our enslavement.

And so one but barely and insubstantially glimpses that Silence which is both resistance and elevation, even a kind of victory against a terrible foe, which is not without its spoils. To discover language is in fact to be without a language, a radical immediacy which at once shatters every moral or political claim, and every shred of symbolism; and at this point many things are possible, indeed, too many things: a violent regression to the prelinguistic, a wispy and premature transcendence to the postlinguistic, or finally the immanent resistance and spontaneity of the counterlinguistic.

The necessity of silence in the transformation of the soul cannot be overstated. That indeterminate silence in which sublime meditation, the uncanny intermediation of thinking, takes place — is a warlike silence. For language as such does not think but merely tyrannizes, blindly suturing truth to meaning, a neuroticized “schizophrenia” whose experiments lead inevitably into a cavernous abyss.

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Soul

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aesthetics / beauty / escape / God / kant / psychoanalysis
World War I, Wasily Kandinsky

World War I, Wasily Kandinsky

A man like Kant can explain the beautiful in terms of a pure disinterested pleasure — such a knotted definition is not in itself surprising, nor is the kind of cynicism about the potential and limitations of life which is quite effectively communicated thereby. What is curious is that he in fact means to enhance the importance of artistic creation by converting the unsettling power of the artist into a kind of channel to a familiar universality. Is the beautiful not, then, grasped – but grasped in precisely at its most narrow and isolated state, through a transcendental enframing, even as an annihilation of life itself: as a kind of dazzling infinition which nonetheless does not interact with our conscious interest but with our immaterial, intangible “soul”?

There is even almost a kind of foundational axiom of psychoanalysis embedded in Kant’s definition (of course a paradox): there is no pleasure except in losing the possibility for pleasure — the glare of infinite Being when one has finally completely lost one’s identity, and dissolved oneself into the universal (father-mother)… The deep pessimism expressed in this kind of escape, this resentment of life which is by no means peculiar to Kant, is nevertheless quite clearly the pulsing thread underlying his patchwork labor in his “critiques” of the mournful becoming of things. We find in psychoanalysis as well such a stoic willingness to defend the infinite ‘metaphysical’ essence which refuses to escapes its container: and always he leaves open the possibility that human beings are indeed the receptacles of divine messages, channels of pure truth. Frames…

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Return

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becoming / difference / flow / recurence / structure / transversality / truth

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.

Differently

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certainty / disorder / history / intensity / number / rigor / rupture / system / value

fractal_t_web03

This creature Life, beyond all evaluations, remains an uninterpretable difference — a kind of difference which is primary with respect to a differential identity, a difference which directly induces individuation, and thereby also seduces us to imitation, to the law of identity, and the shackles of representation. Difference for itself becomes the enemy and not a single word is possible on the value of life; how can we interpret this chaosmogenetic reality, arrive at by subtraction this very truth which endlessly ruptures with the signifying systems we use to interpret the world to another? It seems to verge on a kind of heresy, a prediction of apocalypse with respect to philosophy as such: can a mathematization, an axiomatization of the real take place?

The enormous suffering which has gone into everything beautiful is a misery which not only fails to become sensible in the light of Being, but which forcibly undermines the notion that all descends from pure forms (existence from Idea; God as pure and liberating Force of truth) rather than through the violent admixture and interpenetration of wildly heterogeneous forces and bodies (existence from cruelty; God as the tortuously circular Process of differentiation.) A metaphysics from the absolute will to tragedy is an anti-moral, materialist, atheist metaphysic: the singular vision of the real in which our decisions could be dangerous (need I mention also the only one in which knowledge necessarily involves suffering and self-deception?)

Thinking is precisely this adventure which connects its desires not to an identical reality or a primary nullity, but precisely to the an-identical, the differentiality of existence. Not a kind of compromise between two poles of the idea but a war with the arbitrary division of the idea into isolated components, the body of Life into organs without bodies. “We have to learn to think differently — in order at last, perhaps very late on, to attain even more: to feel differently.” Nietzsche (Daybreak, II.103)

Firestorm

comments 16
automation / capitalism / control / desire / exchange / immanence
Bomberg, The Mud Bath

Bomberg, The Mud Bath

Twins. Capitalism is nihilism, an endless betrayal of production in favor of an infinite — imaginary — debt or Void, which implies the transcendental equivalence of all processes, their essential or characteristic meaninglessness. Indeed the hostility towards life evinced in the machinations of capitalism are strictly correlate to the heterogeneous means by which nihilism achieves its destructive victory: through a generalized deterritorialization which can barely halt before its radically external, schizophrenic limit.

Firestorm. Heidegger reminds us that despite our apparent control over the machines we create, that in fact we do not even control the desire within us which causes us to create, to use them, or to extend our control over the world through the conception and production of new machines. To this problem, indeed, there is no solution, and very likely there will never be any solutions. The mystery, the secret truth of desire, lies within the machine.

Woman

comments 4
Eternal Return / Nietzsche / women

Valentin Bazarov, Flowers

I mean to say that the world is full of beautiful things but nevertheless poor, very poor when it comes to beautiful moments and unveilings of these things. But perhaps this is the powerful magic of life: it is covered by a veil interwoven with gold, a veil of beautiful possibilities, sparkling with promise, resistance, bashfulness, mockery, pity, and seduction. Yes, life is a woman.

Friedrich Nietzsche

Pathways

comments 2
desire / existence / history / idealism / micro-politics / morality / reality / truth
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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