Ipseity and Illeity, or Thinking Ethics without the Other of the Other

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ethics / learning / levinas / other

Faceless Care

In conversation three of Ethics and Infinity, Levinas recounts the philosophical and existential implications of the il y a, the ‘there is’ or what he calls the “phenomenon of impersonal being” (48). The “there is” is many things at the same time: it is a belief, a feeling, an experience and even an affect (the source of the Judaic affect proper to one of philosophy’s “turns” in the 20th century) on one side and an ontological claim, an objective state of affairs, and even the (proto-)origin of Being and Nothingness on the other.

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Break

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machine / Nietzsche / ontology / philosophy / truth

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

291702

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

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Novelty

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alterity / eventfulness / incommensurable / language / philosophy / polyvocity

Permutation. An idea, an axiom, and especially a supposedly universal system, cannot help but attach to what is readily available. A finite stock; an endless and chaotic assemblage of variations, as Levi-Strauss’ famous bricoleurs: scientists, artists, philosophers, revolutionaries — what but psychosocial handy-men, making use of what is both close by and useful, what is already and what can be quickly assembled? How could we create new machines, except by utilizing the stock which remains from previous constructions (and deconstructions)?

Michale Brun, A Moment of Silence (1/3)

Michale Brun, A Moment of Silence (1/3)

Novel. The event is rare — is this not an inherently tragic proposition? Would not the souls to witness it  discover the event branded upon them indelibly, or else lost forever? For the new can indeed induce joy; yet under different conditions it is capable of producing a strain under which a break is nearly unavoidable. –Is there breakthrough, novelty, only in extraordinary cases? Deleuze reminds us that Spinoza kept for years the coat he wore the day a young man attempted to take his life, in order to remind himself that human beings do not always love thought. That the event is rare seems a platitude; yet it can be an opening for gloomy passions, for a creeping cynicism and an uncanny piety: in short the belief that there are few beings in the world capable of the creation of new capacities — new concepts, new passions, new perceptions… But we do not know the thresholds, we are groping in the dark: the event is an event, they come in bursts, and their frequency depends on the associated rates of flow. An event is indeed infinite, but to seek a living, transcendent meaning in the pure rate of innovation is to fall prey to one of the most dangerous lures for thought today. –An infinite number of effects is not a cause; nonetheless we believe in extracting the cause from ‘within’ the effect, thinking we are ‘objective’ by thus subtracting the true cause from the field of the question, all the while we are actually subtracting the thought itself from the consciousness of thought.

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New Post on Gabriel Catren’s Critique of Meillassoux via Speculative Physics

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Uncategorized

Over at Stellar Cartographies there is a new post (called: Speculative realism, stamp collecting, and the question of Science) that goes into great detail about Gabriel Catren’s critique of Meillassoux on the basis of theoretical physics and quantum mechanics (lovingly dubbed by the former as “speculative physics”). The majority of the post (in reality almost already essay-length) focuses on Catren’s extensive essay that appeared in Collapse vol. 5 just recently. There are also at least 5 or 6 essays by Catren that can be found online, some more mathematical than others, but all on theoretical physics and the question of objectivity. I even have the chance and honor to translate one of Gabriel Catren’s essays for the upcoming anthology The Speculative Turn, which will feature many of the big names in the “field” of speculative realism (or transcendental realism, as Laruelle has dubbed his approach, thus reviving an older nomination that could, for example, at one time have labeled Spinoza’s approach…although he was usually considered just a dogmatist by Fichte et al.). Definitely go check this out if you have an interest in the current debates about speculative realism.

For catren’s online essays, check out “On Classical and Quantum Objectivity” and “Can Classical Descriptions of Reality Be Considered Complete?” and “Geometric Foundations of Classical Yangs-Mill Theory” and “Notes on Dilaton Quantum Cosmology” with Claudio Simeone, and “Time asymmetries in quantum cosmology and the searching for boundary conditions to the Wheeler-DeWitt equation” with Mario Castagnino and Rafael Ferraro, and finally “Quantization of the Taub cosmological model with extrinsic time” with Rafael Ferraro.

Full Translation of the Dictionary of Non-Philosophy

comments 10
Laruelle / non-philosophy

I have recently finished translating Francois Laruelle’s (with his collectif) Dictionary of Non-Philosophy. Kime: Paris (1998). Please feel free to spread the knowledge far and wide, because I intend this to help encourage people to start engaging with non-philosophical concepts and their inevitable entry into all facets of thinking, including the philosophical.

I also want to thank Sid Littlefield and Anthony Paul Smith for their work on some of the definitions. It makes it all the more fitting that the translation would also be a collaborative effort. In that sense, I also want to thank Joe Weissman and Chris Eby for their intellectual support, as well as Ben Woodward and Nick Srnicek for their efforts in editing the work. Lastly, I want to thank Sid again for his constant efforts towards enriching my own intellectual development and those of many others who have the veritable luck to learn from him.

Also, last but first and foremost, let me extend my thanks to Laruelle and his collaborators (A.-F. Schmid, S. Valdinoci, T. Brachet, G. Kieffer, L. Leroy, and D. Nicolet) for their endeavors to make an economy of philosophical vocabularies, i.e. a non-philosophical dictionary, possible.

Here’s a link to the pdf. Enjoy!

Noises

comments 9
capitalism / concept / desire / difference / event / language / parasite / problem

 

Mark Rothko

 

Non-expression. Speaking is a donation of words; but in this donation is dramatized an idea of alterity, an uncanny and infinite Power mysteriously unleashed, and this by a seemingly peaceful sharing of signs. 

Is it possible? Ten thousand years of speaking, and still we are waiting for a sign.

Problems. We owe to Deleuze the discovery that the difficulty of a problem is not simply the number of differential elements it assembles within a single ideal situation, but rather the process of problematization of an element or elements which somehow causes the contents of the problem to problematize the very situation itself. This marks  a radical becoming-social of problematics — or if you like, the becoming-event of the concept (becoming-problem.) Yet does it not seem as though this method is still profoundly Lacanian somehow, as though the real is being implicitly understood as a strange hyper-real gap between Difference and itself — mysteriously and paradoxically allowing a differentiation to differenciate itself infinitely, suspending both the emotional-organic ontology of desiring-repression as well as the mechanical logic that underlies materialism, allowing thought to move at infinite speed on a hyperplane of immanence — ripping a hole through the symbolic networks, allowing the transpiercing and reprogramming of the assemblage by the outside? The difficulty remains even if we understand the practice of militant problematization or counter-actualization to be a process of differentiating problematic or ‘insurgent’ elements of the situational social assemblage with respect to their capacity for transformation.

A certain noise is all it takes. Parasites can indeed be shaken off and immediately so; but they are chased out only by a greater noise, by the willing invitation of still more powerful parasites. –So at least there are specific cries which are anathema to a given variety of parasite: the roaring of their host-cum-predators. Of collective liberation.

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Supplements

comments 2
decision / Deleuze / mathematics / Nietzsche / nihilism / non-philosophy

 

Philosopher (Dali)

 

Is mathematics discovered or invented? But what if we have misplaced the scent from the start; in other words what if this clear distinction elides the process itself, if the particular and immanent relation between invention and discovery forms the basis of the ‘singularizing’ expression involved in a new mathematical proof? But a rigorous diagram of novelty itself, of the Event, seems to escape the boundaries of mathematical thought. Ontology is not the royal road to reality, any more than dreams are a singular road the unconscious. In a way, it does not even seem to get us very far at all; at least in terms of understanding “truth,” that exceptional ontogenesis of knowledge and/or being, which after all constitutes what philosophers have so far approached as the ideal “problem” according to which all others are to be modeled, and to which the creation of any new concepts must invariably be induced to correspond.

Risk. The utter annihilation of the soul is an unavoidable stage of becoming human. The human soul is restless, without certainties — at least until it has finally inoculated itself to the world, jamming any channels still open to the outside.

Nihil. Philosophy is a whirlwind from which very little can escape; the breaks are not always where they appear to be! A pure negation of philosophy remains pure philosophy; it is coded in the same semiotic, an inverse. Even suspending this decision (to separate essence from appearance) is still a philosophical position. Finally, even if we manage to truly escape philosophy and found a new science which could in turn truly take the “human” science of philosophy and grasp it as raw experimental material, the risks of a new asceticism corresponding to this “higher” rigor are nearly unavoidable. All these risks are not unlike those Nietzsche or Deleuze are continually warning us about. The worst consequence of nihilism is not necessarily that of forgetting our philosophy in our despair; rather there is a stranger, more uncanny possibility — that the pious suspension of philosophy would be capable of sweeping reality away along with it, abandoning us in some non-human plane of transcendent nullity, enslaved to transparent emptiness and arcane jargon. Nonetheless, a positive “nihilism” undoubtedly constitutes an ideal space for the creation of a new kind of science capable of grasping in turn any human science, and even philosophy itself.

 

Supplements. What is true cannot change; what changes cannot be truth — is this not the miserable dream in which too many have diffused their cleverness?

Dream

comments 14
coding / Deleuze and Guattari / dream / freud / joyce / production / psychoanalysis / unconscious / writing

 

appiadominique-legniedelalibert-coc

 

“When I’m dreaming back like that I begins to see we’re only all telescopes.”

Joyce, Finnegans Wake

 

 

Dream-analysis does not necessitate an affirmation of the existence of universal structures of expression; it need not amount to the tiresome interpretation of the same hidden message over and over again, wherein the forms of thinking and speaking and finally reality itself are rendered identical, cruelly reduced to a single and all-encompassing formula. It suffices to mention that the good doctor Freud would have us believe the dream-work is essentially uncreative, that it amounts in the end to an organic process of coding, one of unsteady translation between the sleeping consciousness and the passive unconscious, producing a kind of dense hieroglyphic writing which must then be interpreted through an analytic exchange. 

The dream understood as writing (even schizowriting) becomes poisoned; the dream taken as representation leaves us only with a kind of mindless condensation and confusion of many distinct memories. Even so, the messages are too free; Freud always seems to lose sight here, missing the material process of decoding unfolding before his eyes. We miss the dream-work entirely, we find only translation instead of production. Freud is neither the last nor first scientist to seek relentlessly to crush singularity in favor the universal — a strange moment where it seems reason itself has gone mad, engaging itself in an infinite and searching analysis “beneath” for some powerful and profoundly-hidden writing. It is this desire for some universal “meaning” disseminating itself through the dream in a distorted form which necessitates the uncreativity, the non-productive character Freud ascribes of the dreamwork. And thus the dream has already frozen, and becomes a little analysis in itself.

The interminability of the analysis corresponds precisely with this frozen process, this hideous arresting of the infinite circulation of the dream. It is only possible to open psychoanalysis to the outside by arresting its own process of continuous interpretation: “No longer are there acts to explain, dreams or phantasies to interpret, childhood memories to recall, words to make signify; there are colors and sounds, becomings and intensities… There is no longer a Self that feels, acts and recalls; there is a ‘glowing fog, a dark yellow mist’ that has affects and experiences movements, speeds.” (ATP 180) It is clear enough a non-productive unconscious could not produce a cure; such an unconscious could only accept one imposed from without, a cure intended to code and crush desire — to normalize our unconscious, not to assist its process of production. 

Words

comment 1
channel / Deleuze / desire / difference / habit / language / machine / memory / ontology

 

 

Jargon. A word decodes by assembling: a mobile army, a mob or mass of “blocks,” segments extruded from heterogeneous flows: flows with and without codes, flows of energy and of waste, flows of debt and of money, flows of food and of goods, flows of women and children, flows of pulsing affects and flows of intricate concepts. Speaking assembles together, connects and conjoins or pervades and envelops as many radically divergent elements as possible. Language is at once unifying and fluid, both normalizing and improvised, both static and evolutionary — a system of rules neither abstract nor essentially syntactical but rather constituting a radically material and pragmatic collective assemblage.

Deleuze and Guattari argue as much in A Thousand Plateaus, suggesting the reason for the coextensivity of collective assemblages with language systems, and even with “language as a whole,” is this very fact that these assemblages express a complex pragmatic — a group of transformations which produce the very condition of possibility of language:

“… if the collective assemblage is in each instance coexistensive with the linguistic system considered, and to language as a whole, it is because it expresses the set of incorporeal transformations that effectuate the condition of possibility of language and utilize the elements of the linguistic system…The language-function thus defined is neither information nor communicational; it has to do neither with signifying information nor with intersubjective communication. And it is useless to abstract a significance outside information, or a subjectivity outside communication. For the subjectification proceedings and movement of significance relate to regimes of signs, or collective assemblages. The language-function is the transmission of order-words, and order-words relate to assemblages, just as assemblages relate to the incorporeal transformations constituting the variables of the function. Linguistics is nothing without a pragmatics (semiotic or political) to define the effectuation of the condition of possibility of language and the usage of linguistic elements.”  (Deleuze and Guattari)

 Not language’s “essence” but language’s praxis involves the complex syntactical disjunction of these wildly-varying elements; speaking is not (effectively) tracing-enunciating an ideal form by rote or metempsychotic memory. Pascal notes in Pensées 556: “Languages are ciphers in which letters are not changed into letters, but words into words, so that an unknown language may be deciphered.” It is true that speaking not only defers to but deciphers an ancient and mysterious writing. 

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Guattari

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desire / flux / globalism / guattari / machine / materialism / Politics

 

guattari1981_3

 

On Guattari. The first ecosopher has arisen — but how to read his writings? There is not a single answer, everyone disagrees. To read Guattari without Deleuze seems like violence to the polyphonous fury of their mutually-authored works; yet to read Deleuze and Guattari seems like according primacy to the philosopher, to the authority of philosophy over psychoanalysis — asserting the traditional prerogative of philosophy over science, with the usual absent-minded condescension, a perverse kind of triumphant naivete. Our new ecosopher shrinks into the background of the literary uproar he is unleashing.

 

The strange power of Guattari’s writings is such that his works are less collections than whirlwinds, less toolboxes than roaring vortexes one is apt to be drawn violently towards: to study Guattari is neither a coincidence nor an accident (for an English academic) but rather a symptom, even a political symptom. Perhaps simply an indication of the self-destructive desire inherent to global capitalism in which the dissemination  of essentially “anti-capitalist” literature is not simply allowed but in fact widely promoted — the faint glimmer of global Renaissance. But I think Guattari might remind us of something else.

 

Political struggle is more than a linguistic struggle, a struggle with texts and pure concepts. It is of course involved with these things, but even more than these signifying systems, political resistance connects with the a-signifying as well, an order of reality more primordial than human meaning, where the distinctions imposed upon reality by our signifying regimes are rendered irrelevant and secondary. Where the cosmos as a process of production becomes perceptible, where the inhuman asignifying order of reality emerges, we may perhaps catch a glimpse of the future dreamed by our first ecosopher.

 

To have to emphasize that the asignifying isn’t the insignificant, but the non-signifying, we realize that already, we have hit the white wall. Misunderstanding is a symptom both of the origin and the impossibility of meaning. The gap between us here is not simply an aspect of the mobile wall of obstacles Guattari has prepared for his students, but already of the even more intransigent obstacles of history, society, economy — in short, the entire political “problem” of desire. A history of desire is difficult yet not impossible, but it does not begin by asking what desire is, pretending some kind of perfect and external objective viewpoint.

 

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Cyclone

comments 8
abyss / birth / cycle / disorder / erasure / learning / multiplicity / parasite / trace / transcendence / universal / zero

vortex-street-1

 

A properly ontological investigation is a ceaseless circulation around the notions of emptiness and presence, a rigorous attempt to discern the peculiar concepts of existence and nothingness, always and once again a faithful commitment to seeking out ones and zeroes. Patching up holes; but precisely in such a way that the reality grasped by ontology (like theology) is always-already as a shadow of reality, like the phantasm of another life. Cantor thought transfinite series a pure and untouchable trace of Difference. A proof of transcendence, disguised as a proof of immanence. But how else could a universal theory of events be constructed?

The critique of ontology encounters yet another surprise when it allows its gaze to move beyond the event itself. The patient observer discovers within the folds of interleaving processes an uncanny kind of hidden writing, whose nature is exceptionally difficult to grasp, for the nature of this half-erased or subtle writing ceaselessly shifts its ground as quickly as the question is posed, and can just as easily turn out to have been nothing at all. –A coincidence, upon which ontology has always made a strange decision: that being and nothing are One, existence is non-existence. God may or may not exist, but this subtle writing can be exhumed from the essences of things. It has affirmed this strange paradox precisely in order to allow a meta-philosophical plane of thought to be constructed. 

Being is the first focus of the elliptical orbit traced by ontological thinking. The basic ontological statement is made by Lucretius: all things have within them the seeds of their becoming. Even the void, absolute nothingness, can be seen as a positive emptiness capable of infinite becomings. Being can thus be seen as a kind of positive nothingness, the radically empty pure essence of reality. Hence to be is to become everything — to communicate with infinite becomings, with forces radically exceeding our “individual” structural limitations: the earth, the cosmos; animals, plants, molecules, stars, etc. Thus nothingness is the second focus of the elliptical orbit traced out by ontology, for the reason that to become capable of becoming is the event itself — the paradox which ontology affirms as its rigorous essence: to diagram being. 

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Infrastructure

comments 11
channel / communication / flux / idea / knowledge / machine / network / system

ocean-storm-clouds

 

 

The essence of a channel is to transmit, to disseminate, to yield a flux. The problem of knowledge is correlative to constructing an adequate channel for the reception of an idea, the “proper medium” for a thoughts’ proliferation. Expressed in this way the “idea” is only an ideal problem, which in reality takes on an unsettling and radical complexity. The pure and implacable universality of the idea gives way to the realization of the innumerable fissures and leaks comprising the real — and quite organic — larval origin of thought. 

A kind of thought which, to be sure, still does not issue from myself, and which is neither memory nor imagination, but is rather a thought which breaks through, which traverses me. Hence the universal is always shot through with contingency, a pure implacability which rests precisely upon history, upon the conquering, the decimation of nomad flows indecently refusing to conform. The drive to systematically master desire, for a generalized and radical constructivism, the subtle and uncanny “inner” dynamism of our age, is bent upon a wholesale transformation of the fundamental essence of humanity. 

The breakdown of this machine, this doom upon the universal, is perhaps capable of reproducing itself virally — even as a snapshot of an image of thought in the very process of decomposing (and in relation to which all philosophical gestures seem but supplications, and — so much more rarely — vindications.)

A new medium always is, it must be, painstaking crafted: for once forged, a channel exists only the precondition of a flow, and even upon the continuity of the flux. 

I want to think the concrete peculiarity, the absolute singularity of any channel as such. The continuous flow of water through the machinery of a dam, of a pipe; the unending drift of signals across our always-on global information networks. 

The channel faces every military risk imaginable: takeover, subversion, blockade. But it also faces every theoretical risk imaginable: hyper-specialization, perversion, madness.

Yet the truth is that a channel is only and always a meta-channel, an assemblage, a channeling machine blending very different channels together, and which itself forms a channel in relation to even greater such channels. Whether of water, cement, metal pipe, twisted cable or realized in the very trembling of air molecules, the channel compels us to turn towards what remains, what is not swept away by the flows. 

Machinic Unconscious Complete

comments 16
Uncategorized

I just wanted to throw out there that I have finished the bulk of translating Guattari’s The Machinic Unconscious: Essays in Schizoanalysis. Now begins the revision stage of my project, and a few interpolations of quotes from Proust’s In Search of Lost Time (I’m using the new Penguin editions, which are fabulous translations btw).

I hope this excites some people (I know Joe has been impatient for this…). I, too, am pretty thrilled about this work appearing in English. It has been a difficult work for me to translate, let alone read, but I feel that it is infinitely more valuable to me for all the efforts I have put into it. This book wasn’t necessarily received well in France (one of his interviewers mentions the obscurity and difficulty of this work specifically), perhaps because it is so closely tied to A Thousand Plateaus in scope and timeframe (it was published about 6 months before the latter, being a sort of work book for A Thousand Plateaus, as Gary Genosko puts it). But I hope that this is different for the English, especially with all the work that has gone into translating much of Guattari’s work already, and the Deleuze phenomenon, etc.

Let me just note in passing that this work has helped me overcome one of my own crises. As an English graduate student-dropout, I sort of rebelled against literary criticism, rebaptizing my field of research as philosophy. I gave up on its uses to evoke radical political change, and I felt like it played with the binary oppositions of established culture, not to truly dismantle the phenomena, but to reify them and sediment them more thoroughly.

I can only note with great fervor that the second part of the Machinic Unconscious, which is dedicated to a reading of Proust’s novel, is really something extraordinary, because it takes the obscure theoretical conceptualizations of the first half and propels them into concrete situations, deducing the abstract relations from this reading. But it goes further because it is not just an intellectual exercise: Guattari’s thought, if anything, is so radically enrooted in the outside that every phrase has a rhetorical-micropolitical bent to it.  He proves the validity of literary criticism to really illuminate the inner machinisms of reality, bearing out its political potential in a systematic and pragmatic way.

This book has changed my life. I hope you get a chance to read it.

Transparency

comments 2
activity / alterity / birth / break / darkness / event / evolution / individuation / matter / network / neurosis / sexuality / speech / transformation / world

mandel_zoom_14_satellite_julia_island

 

 

 

The world is hollow. In-itself anything is precisely nothing. 

A thing exists positively only in the precise sense that it exhibits certain forces, that it forms connections or disjunctions with other things, or assemblages of things, in such and such a way. 

Moreover, is it not necessary that at some point in the process of any machine, there is something that may and must become reduced to a generic and redundant unit? 

It may indeed be said that the machine presents us with the most spectacular and dangerous breakthrough in all of history, a breakthrough written into our desires themselves.

Love is not a question of signals, but of production. Not words but noise. The word is hollow: in itself everything means precisely nothing. Yet no thought is ever without its heretical dimension, its strange and apocalyptic promise — the dangerous promise of possible knowledge. 

Not only does nothing “exist,” but it is the essence of existence itself, and so all knowledge is a kind of nothingness: a rigorous silence, a selective and critical passivity, a dangerous and misunderstood weakness. 

Truth is a parasite, we are infected: knowledge is never without this vertigo dimension of being self-imposed, like a sickness which you acquire simply by imagining it. 

I emphasize this point precisely because it is all too clearly understood by the creature within. and is it not so that when its roaring becomes imperceptible, we encounter an ancient silence, without limits? 

Yet everything begins in noise.

Trajectory

comments 7
consciousness / disaster / event / fantasy / intensity / power / recognition / wager

800px-vincent_van_gogh_1853-1890_-_wheat_field_with_crows_1890

A series of imminent and necessary breakdowns are inherent to the production of desire: first, because desires connect up to an outside, with something which is always unrecognized, which is totally foreign; next, because desire is brought to turn upon itself, it is seduced into betrayal (by resentment, fear, hate, etc.); finally, because desires are always collective, but the individual makes these collective desire their own, digests and reintegrates them. In each case, there is a kind of fundamental deadlock to any investigation of the unconscious which reflects the essential paradox of psychoanalysis.

We risk not only our feelings and thoughts but even ourselves as beings entirely: the risk of losing not just our habits, our beliefs and our identities, but the very significance, the subjectivity, of our reality. Everything becomes a trajectory, a cosmic machine, a universal process of production. A becoming-nothing which is the essence of consciousness: and in the end will we know which it is — a disease or an experiment? –But what do we matter? For alienation is becoming a stranger; not trading places with a double, nor a diagnosis, but rather this mis-recognition of an alien consciousness always already present within enjoyment, within our desire itself.

 

The Disaster, the Event, Difference — this is what is always recognized but never known; or rather, you don’t know, you will never know whether this alterity is truly radical or not. We must make a certain wager in order to discover the real, to know our desire, to learn anything at all about ourselves. It is not a question of imitation, but of pure intensities, of movements and singularities and flows. There is always a risk involved in a becoming, a risk which is always recognized and never known to us — a displacement of essence internal to becoming, an infinite capacity which transfigures reality.

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Other

comments 6
badiou / becoming / difference / force / function / metaphysics / ontology / virus

immortal-technique

A science of being is not enough. This subtraction which purifies, this selection and division which makes holy, which ‘invents’ and ‘discovers’ truth — how could ontology do anything but give us theories of the One, of the Law, of the Real, of the existing-as-such? How could it do anything but carefully induce multiplicity to subtract itself into unified theory, divide itself into functions and axioms; endlessly seduce differences into homogeneity, and minorities into conformity; plumb the depths only in order to reproduce an absolute height for an absolute voice?

Ontology is always the political ontology of Power, taken to the absolute point of dispersion where nothing remains, everything is subtracted, except for forces and matter — only functions, pure functions, and even concepts are now only seen in terms of effects, the site they create, “their” ontology. Ontology as both lens and situation, a regime where truths are always the same, is insufficient as long as it remains without a phenomenology of becoming, the concept as event, coming from outside of being which throws existence into doubt.

Multiplicity is first apprehended as risk, as danger; this much seems to be always already understood. The ontological question is how much can we take, what can be subtracted — from the situation, in short from life. Life as subtraction and transubstantiation. The holiness of being should not be misunderstood, for we encounter the most peculiar bifurcation precisely here, the curvature of space itself, the uncanny pull of the invisible — the Other, a zone which implies another reality — where being merges with non-being. The fold between us.

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Involve

comments 4
becoming / language / metaphysics / ontology

 

fractal43-karaka

 

Transiency hurls itself everywhere into a deep state of being. And therefore all forms of this our world are not only to be used in a time-specific sense, but should be included into those phenomena of superior significance in which we partake, and of which we are a part.

 

Rilke

 

 

Ideas arrest and extrude contents from a flux and thus illuminate forms from chaos. An inversion or involution, not the simple highlighting of a pattern or introducing a context — but rather through a constant, asymmetrical, positive communication with the flux, and so in a sense a commingling with the essence of form itself. Yet a bifurcation defers any discernment of the origin of ideas, they are not a memory

 

They do not come from you. (A code has an inventor, to be sure; but like a strand of DNA, these codes are always secondary, indirect, relative — a map with moving parts, not the tracing of a blueprint.) Codes ensure the maintenance of a form only to an approximate degree; in this sense they mimic the behavior of soap bubbles which appear spherical — the question is whether an ideal form exists, or whether we are interpreting patterns from the turbulent interaction of forces. 

 

Does matter dramatize ideas into reality, or do ideas awaken things into being? A code documents a becoming, hence it is not a relationship as such, though it may be connected or disjoined from other codes. What is coded does not necessarily resemble the code which is applied: in fact these cases constitute rather singular exceptions, which have formed the morphological substructure of the concept itself. 

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On the Misery of the Unbeliever

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The Bhagavad Gita, like any text or doctrine rigorously indebted to the religious genre of literature, presents the (post)modern or skeptical reader with all the things that Krishna attributes to “cynical people:” perhaps nothing but misery or frustration (83.3). In the same sense, it is an awesome text due to its absoluteness. The word “metaphysics” in philosophy has recently come to designate a form of thought which perpetuates the belief in the necessary or absolute existence of any entity. Like every promotion of faith, the Bhagavad Gita formulates a clear-cut metaphysics that attempts to evaluate existence, nature, the universe, human life, etc. and asserts a pre-established sense to reality. The most obvious way to begin to ground a pre-given sense of reality is to assert an other-world concealed behind our everyday world. To respect its complexity, let’s assemble some of the axioms to Krishna’s metaphysical claims:

  1. The Atma (True Self), Brahman (God or Godhead) and Purusha (life force) necessarily exist (43.12).
  2. All beings are contingent upon God, who is absolute, and so if a being exists, it exists necessarily through God (53.18-19).
  3. Similarly, God splits into nature and spirit (Divinity), one being non-real, the other real, and God is not dependent upon nature (the non-real), but nature is dependent on God (70.12).
  4. Although God looks over nature, the latter operates by itself and is contingent upon karma (action), whereas God is divorced from all worldly action or karma itself.
  5. Therefore, God, Atma, and the Life Force are not natural, they are divine, or we could say that nature is God’s lower (non-real) nature, and divinity is its higher nature (16.26-27).
  6. All desire is worldly and linked to pleasure and pain. Therefore, the world does not guarantee any pleasure that is not overwhelmed by pain, or since the world does not offer a permanent feeling of pleasure (i.e. bliss) because of the prospect of death, then the belief in a realm beyond death and life becomes the most important goal (73.29). Read More

Pre-eminence and the Status of Politics

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“…all superior men who were irresistibly drawn to throw off the yoke of any kind of morality and to frame new laws had, if they were not actually mad, no alternative but to make themselves or pretend to be mad—and this indeed applies to innovators in every domain and not only in the domain of priestly and political dogma…” (Daybreak, 14).

In contrast to some of the shrewder commentary on Nietzsche’s politically charged philosophy, I would like to try and sketch out my case that Nietzsche’s middle works (Human, All Too Human and Daybreak) do not constitute anomalous representatives of the whole, but a much more thoroughly nuanced discussion of politics than Nietzsche grants his other books. It would be facile to say that Nietzsche is only concerned with morality in these works, and that his true political ruminations will come later. Even if the tone of these works does not immediately resemble that of the later works, there is no viable reason to avoid theorizing some of the most provocative statements I have come in contact with in reading Nietzsche’s oeuvre. Understanding how morality brings about the political conditions of its overcoming will help us to posit a vision of the world and community that does not at all lead to the “great politics”: instead of the latter, in these two books it is always a question of law, history and transformative universalism.

Nevertheless, the importance placed on the middle works is only relevant here to me as a secondary interest (read: they are being used as material or as a foil) insofar as they promote a general (problematic) reciprocity between the political theorization of Nietzsche and Aristotle; it is above all in Human All Too Human’s infamous section “A Glance at the State” where we see Nietzsche coming close to a classical description of the different forms of government which were relevant for his time (hence the critiques of socialism, utilitarianism, and above all democracy).

In fact, a quick skim of Aristotle’s Politics against this section may give some the impression that Nietzsche slept with a copy of the Politics under his pillow during this time. Yet, as I intend to show, the methodology with which these two thinkers approach the subject of politics are almost diametrically opposed: we could say that Nietzsche’s politics here is “open,” whereas Aristotle formulates a “closed” view. This is the same as arguing that Nietzsche, in the middle works, operates according to a logic of transformational politics, and Aristotle is mainly concerned with a generative outlook.

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Diagram

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becoming / Deleuze / machine / ontology

 

modulledyn

 

“We define the abstract machine as the aspect or moment at which nothing but functions and matters remain. A diagram has neither substance nor form, neither content nor expression. Substance is a formed matter, and matter is a substance that is unformed either physically or semiotically. Whereas expression and content have distinct forms, are really distinct from each other, function has only ‘traits’ of content and expression between which it establishes a connection: it is no longer even possible to tell whether it is a particle or a sign. A matter-content having only degrees of intensity, resistance, conductivity, heating, stretching, speed or tardiness; and a function expression having only ‘tensors,’ as in a system of mathematical, or musical, writing. Writing now functions on the same level as the real, and the real materially writes. The diagram retains the most deterritorialized content and the most deterritorialized expression, in order to conjugate them. Maximum deterritorialization sometimes starts from a trait of content and sometimes from a trait of expression; that trait is said to be ‘deterritorializing’ in relation to the other precisely because it diagrams it, carries it off, raises it to its own power. The most deterritorialized element causes the other element to cross a threshold enabling a conjunction of their respective deterritorializations, a shared acceleration. This is the abstract machine’s absolute, positive deterritorialization…


klee-remembrance-of-a-garden

 

“Defined diagrammatically in this way, an abstract machine is neither an infrastructure that is determining in the last instance nor a transcendental Idea that is determining in the supreme instance. Rather, it plays a piloting role. The diagrammatic or abstract machine does not function to represent, even something real, but rather constructs a real that is yet to come, a new type of reality. Thus when it constitutes points of creation or potentiality it does not stand outside history but is instead always ‘prior to’ history. Everything escapes, everything creates — never alone, but through an abstract machine that produces continuums of intensity, effects conjunctions of deterritorialization, and extracts expressions and contents. This Real-Abstract is totally different from the fictitious abstract of a supposedly pure machine of expression. It is an Absolute, but one that is neither undifferentiated nor transcendent. Abstract machines thus have proper names (as well as dates) which of course designate not persons or subjects, but matters and functions. The name of a musician or scientist is used in the same way as a painter’s name designates a color, nuance, tone, or intensity: it is always a question of a conjunction of a Matter and Function. The double deterritorialization of the voice and the instrument is marked by a Wagner abstract machine, a Webern abstract machine, etc. In physics and mathematics, we may speak of a Riemann abstract machine, and in algebra of a Galois abstract machine… There is a diagram whenever a singular abstract machine functions directly in a matter.”

 

(Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, “587 B.C – A.D. 70: On Several Regimes of Signs”)

The Transformation of Psychoanalysis

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guattari / machine / machinic unconscious / ontology / Politics

couv-inconscient

From the back cover of Guattari’s L’Inconscient machinique (1979):

The transformation of psychoanalysis into an essential component of the social order does not justify the renunciation of every analysis of the unconscious; no more than the deadends of revolutionary movements imply the generalized desertion of politics.

Finishing with the tyranny of the cogito, accepting that material, biological, social assemblages are capable of “engineering” (machiner) their own kind and creating heterogenous complex universes: such are the conditions which would make it possible to understand how the most intimate desire can communicate with the social field.

In order to give the reader a little bit more of a taste, I have excerpted from pages 180-182.

No logical or topological category, no axiomatic can subsume all the different types of machinic consistency. Because abstract machines are non-decomposable on an intensional plane, they cannot be inserted into an extensional class. Since no abstract machine can rise above history or be the “subject” of history and machinic multiplicities traverse the strata of different “provisionally dominant” realities on a diachronic and synchronic plane at the same time, it cannot be said of the general movement of their line of deterritorialization that it demonstrates a universal and homogenous tendency, for it is interrupted at every level by reterritorializations upon which microcosmic generations of deterritorialization are grafted once again. The cartography of abstract machinisms makes history by dismantling dominant realities and significations: they constitute the navel, the point of emergence and creationism of the machinic phylum.

            Here again we find the problematic of the alternative between subject-groups/subjugated groups which can never be taken as an absolute opposition. The relations of alienation between fields of competence always suppose a certain margin which pragmatics has to locate and exploit: in other words, within any situation whatsoever, a diagrammatic politics can always be “calculated,” which refuses any idea of fatalism, whichever name it may take on: divine, historical, economic, structural, hereditary, or syntagmatic, a politics which thus implies, in the first place, an active refusal of any conception of the unconscious as a genetic stage or structural destiny. A group requires an ongoing localization of the investments of desire capable of thwarting bureaucratic reifications, leaderships, etc. “Working on” the group’s map would consist in proceeding to the new uses and transformations of the group’s body without organs. One could only do his or her part in such a pragmatics: it can do nothing but challenge every status of the hegemony of linguistics, psychoanalysis, social psychology, and the entirety of the human, social, juridical, economic sciences, etc…Studying the unconscious, for example in the case of Little Hans, would consist in establishing, by taking account of the entirety of his semiotic productions, in which tree or rhizome type his libido has come to invest. At such a moment, it is a question of how the neighbors’ branch is trimmed, following which maneuvers the Oedipal tree is reduced, what roles Professor Freud’s branch and his activity of detteritorialization have played, why the libido has been constrained to find shelter in the semiotization of a becoming horse, etc…Thus phobia would no longer be considered as a psychopathological result, but as the libidinal pragmatics of a child who has not been able to find other micropolitical solutions so as to escape from the familialist and psychoanalytic transformations.

 

 

New wikipage devoted to Capitalism and Schizophrenia

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capitalism and schizophrenia / Deleuze / guattari

Today I’ve just found out that an entire wikipage has been devoted to the works of Deleuze and Guattari here. The site is still in construction, but they have already amassed at least several dozens definition “attempts” (since these are left open for others to add/change, etc.). What I found so interesting about the page was the ability to join the site and add your own bit of commentary, engaging in an intriguing chorus of scholars and voices.  I believe they have also begun reading groups on Deleuze and Guattari, so that is something else to look forward to. I intend on adding a lot of material to the site, especially in order to really engage with some of Guattari’s theoretical developments in L’Inconscient machinique.  I’ve already begun on his Proust section in the book, and so I’m eager to finish and start talking about it with everyone! (75 pages left, and counting).

So go join in and add your bit of knowledge to this incredible project!

Overcome

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continuity / modernity / noise / ontology / Politics / question / reality / signal / silence / state / subtraction

 

A situation tends to bring about the specific conditions of its overcoming. Thus advances in transportation and telecommunication technologies are slowly bringing about not only the collapse of the classical temporal and spatial interval as such, the annihilation of the discrete; but also a simultaneous collapse of classical distribution or dissemination as such, a self-destruction of the sign through optimal transmissivity, and hence finally the death of the voice along with the signal, the annihilation of the continuous. –Twin paradoxes which define and isolate our historical moment: to build channels without yet having anything meaningful to transmit, and to transmit without having any channels or destinations, or any hope of being received. A question disrupts the essence of the situation, its reality; but a greater noise can always drown it out. It may not even be heard the first time. But after long enough, there is another question, or another questioner, and then another to question him, and so on. Repetition and revolution. –Modernity is hatred of the modern. The state itself becomes noise, and hence is drowned in noise. Finally, there is only glare, pure positivity, a non-spectacle: a signal without a sign. What is it to be in excess of the state?

Family contra the State: Problematizing Aristotle and Confucius

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Aristotle / ontology / Politics

“..for the relationship between people and government is the most pervasive ideal relationship upon which commerce between teacher and pupil, lord and servants, father and family, general and soldier, master and apprentice have unconsciously been modeled.”—Friedrich Nietzsche. 

For centuries, the history of philosophy has explored the general opposition set up between Occidental and Oriental philosophy, especially concerning their respective “origins.” Generally speaking, it has been assumed that Western and Eastern philosophies differ over the metaphysical question of the constitution of the (conditions of possibility of the) universe, ending with the antinomy of a decision concerning Being/Nothingness (Plato vs. Lao-Tzu, both of whom subordinate becoming either to the movement of the idea or the non-activity of the Dao). In the same sense, Aristotle’s political ontology has been argued to end up in another binary opposition with that of Confucius: it is asserted that the former makes the state primary to the family, whereas for the latter this formula must be inverted. Instead, these reflections will attempt to illustrate that the opposition of these philosophical decisions should be shown to be inadequately founded and that a more clarified reading can show that this opposition is both untenable and capable of exemplifying that the problem has not yet been sufficiently determined.
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New Lautman Translation “Mathematics and Reality” over at Stellar Cartographies

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Lautman / mathematics / stellar cartographies

Stellar Cartographies has contributed a much-needed translation of one of Albert Lautman’s essays on mathematical reality. Notable themes include Russel, Wittgenstein, Carnap, the Vienna School, Hilbert, philosophy of science, axiomatics, hypercomplex numbers and, you betcha, mathematical reality. Be sure to check this out along with his other translations of Badiou’s logic courses.

Friendship and the State

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Aristotle / friendship / justice / Politics

 In chapter 9 of book III of the Politics, Aristotle discusses the general relation between justice and the state. In the course of examining the relation of equality and inequality, Aristotle proposes that the state “exists for the sake of a good life, and not the sake of life only” (1279b31-32). Notice that the good is already predicated of the state in this statement, and it is because of this bias that Aristotle will conclude: “if life only were the object, slaves and brute animals might form a state, but they cannot, for they have no share in happiness in a life based on choice” (1279b33-34). Although happiness as an end for the virtuous life is one of Aristotle’s primary concerns, the emphasis on the choices that the political situation makes possible seems to conceal the fundamental lack of choices for the individual as well as the a priori nature of any state whatsoever. This assertion stems from Aristotle’s misunderstanding that the political arrangement of a state (whether constitutional or otherwise) has very little to do with the will or mood of the multitude, even if, in the last analysis, they are given priority in power because of their total quantity of property (cf. 1282a37-40).

 In other words, since Aristotle theorized earlier that the state precedes any individual which would constitute it (just as the whole precedes the parts), it seems to be false that the state would only consist of individuals for whom life was founded on a choice. Moreover, when Aristotle claims that the state is a community of families whose goal is self-perfection and self-sufficiency, he seems to undercut the primordial character of the state that would subordinate families for its own ends (i.e. his previous position). More fundamentally, he also seems to negate his earlier statement that political life had anything to do with a choice. He writes: “Such a community can only be established among those who live in the same place and intermarry. Hence there arise in cities family connections, brotherhoods, common sacrifices, amusements which draw men together. But these are created by friendship, for to choose to live together is friendship” (1280b36-38 my emphasis). It then follows that our political environment is contingent and that friendship is only a choice in terms of choosing to live virtuously; only then could we call “living together” a choice, insofar as we choose not to live or strive against one another.

 The concept of friendship, which is analyzed in depth in the Nicomachean Ethics, in relation to political choice can be better illustrated in reference to the pre-eminent individual (1284a10-15). The pre-eminent individual is a person whose excellence, especially in political affairs, overshadows that of anyone else. In fact, Aristotle admits that they are “God among men” and that “legislation is necessarily concerned only with those who are equal in birth and in capacity; and that for men of pre-eminent excellence there is not law—they are themselves a law.” In this sense, they are above the law simply by being at the very center of it. Men of this caliber may find it difficult to find friends because of a lack of equals suitable for them, but the important point is that the example of the man above the law logically leads to the counterexample, i.e. that of the ostracized man, the outlaw, those beneath the law (1284a34-36). 

What is characteristic of these singular positions in society is the fact that they have nothing to do with a political choice, at least in the straightforward sense in which Aristotle presents his argument. If we were to agree that these positions could be characterized by choice, we would be forced to look at the more fundamental phenomena at work in the unconscious of the society as a whole. In other words, ostracizing someone from political life and incarnating them in the very fabric of the law constitute the extreme forms under which the balance of justice and friendship in the state come to take on their most dissymmetrical distributions of equality and inequality. But it is also here that justice as friendship, as the (anonymous) perpetuation of noble deeds in the absence of a telos, can illustrate the very inconsistency of the social bond (Badiou).

Mind

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

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

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

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

Ontology and Science

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being / heidegger / ontology / science

We could say that Heidegger’s introduction to Being and Time is rigorous and formalized to the extreme, like any other great (self-satisfied) German philosopher. Yet Heidegger also denounces any smack of self-satisfaction that would creep up in a philosophico-ontological investigation. What I want to do here in this short essay is to illuminate how Heidegger formulates the question of Being through Dasein, what this has to do with the ontological tradition and its destruction, and also what Heidegger thinks this has to do with the foundations of any science whatsoever. Due to the shortness of this essay, I will attempt to articulate these concerns simultaneously (bear with me).

Heidegger mentions that the structure of an explicit questioning does not become explicit until all the constitutive factors have become transparent (5). It is in this sense that Heidegger analyzes the Being of Dasein insofar as the latter is equivalent with the inquirer par excellence. Thus the elucidation of Being requires that the entity with a pre-ontological understanding of Being (Dasein) be analyzed explicitly. Heidegger will also talk about this as the existential analytic of Dasein or as the hermeneutic of Dasein, since this hermeneutic is the possibility for any ontology or any analytic of the existentiality of existence (38).

However, this question cannot become explicit until a few fundamental concerns are addressed. For example, Dasein’s pre-ontological understanding of Being is only possible because of the former’s being-in-the-world. In other words, for the existential analytic of existence to become fully transparent, Dasein’s ontical constitution (i.e. it’s being in a world) must be taken as the standpoint from which any ontological relevance is to be fathomed. This is why he claims that the roots of the existential analytic of Dasein are existentiell/ontical. Only through existence itself (our existentiell belonging to a world) can existentiality be analyzed into existential data (suitable for the foundation of a real ontology).

Some of Heidegger’s claims become more understandable when we present them in this way. For example, he argues that this analytic of Dasein is only possible through a “radicalization…of the pre-ontological understanding of Being” (15). In other words, since the world is reflected ontologically in Dasein, the latter’s everyday experiences in the former (its ontical constitution) must be taken as data from which to set out upon our quest to rigorously found an ontology. Another way of saying this is to claim that the question of Being must become historiological (42).

What does historicity/historiology imply though? In a sense, if historicality is the basis of any history whatsoever, historiology is involved with the way in which history is passed down through tradition along with the way in which this passing becomes concealed or self-evident in its movement from generation to generation. This is precisely where the question of the destruction of the ontological tradition comes to bear its philosophical fruits. For example, when Heidegger claims that ontology must be self-critical, he is not saying this in an arbitrary way, but he means that for any science whatsoever to evolve in its field, it must takes its problematic historiologically, i.e. it must become suspicious about the traditions that promote it so as not to lose sight of the fundamental question of Being that gets so easily concealed (36). Another example—which is really not an example but a way of reading Heidegger’s project through his reading of others, here Kant—becomes more clear when we read that Heidegger faults Kant for merely presupposing the relations between time and the “I think,” which he has inherited from Descartes. Kant’s procedure is not historiological since it doesn’t question the sources from which he obtains his arguments about the subject, nor does he make Being into a question (this is obvious). Where we see Heidegger actually formulating his own project is when he argues: “[Kant] failed to provide an ontology with Dasein as its theme or (to put this in Kantian language) to give a preliminary ontological analytic of the subjectivity of the subject” (24). If we look at the Kantian exposition of Heidegger’s task, we will see that he relates the problem at hand as one of the analytic of the subjectivity of the subject. This may be another reason why Heidegger begins with being-in-the-world.

What does this tell us about Heidegger’s stance on science? When we quoted the passage where he claims ontology must be self-critical, we were not arbitrarily providing an assertion out of context. Heidegger argues that the basic concepts undergirding any science whatsoever have to be taken as clues from which these sciences can be founded. He argues that the “real ‘movement’” of the sciences is determined by “how far it is capable of a crisis in its basic concepts” (9). It is in this strict sense that Heidegger envisions the destruction of the ontological tradition to be productive and positive, not simply negative. For as a science, ontology must be able to treat its own fundamental concepts—res cogitans, cogito ergo sum, etc.—as material to be reworked in order to make the real problem of Being transparent. It is also in this vein that Heidegger asserts that “ontological science is primary to ontical science” (11). This is why he claims that ontology is fundamental, whereas physics or biology deal with regional, ontical questions, i.e. questions concerning particular entities. However, since the Being of these entities has not become transparent until the advent of universal phenomenological ontology, science has to be subordinated to philosophy (in Heidegger’s view of things). My question is: does this not perpetuate the perennial struggle between science and philosophy? How is it that philosophy can have the pretentiousness to claim to ground real science, when, from the scientists’ point of view, philosophy is the mere recycling of concepts that do not have any factual basis in scientific inquiry? In other words, Heidegger continues the war between science and philosophy, even if he claims the latter is the most universal of sciences. How can we introduce democracy into thought and put science and philosophy on the same footing without claiming to give one or the other any sort of precedence? How can we break down the hierarchy that establishes itself in thought, i.e. how do we establish a peace treaty between philosophy and science, especially from the former to the latter?

Syntax

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axiom / form / image / multiplicity / noise / ontology / parasite / real / spirit / theory / writing

 

 

The actual trace or cutting edge of theory is a veritable penetration into reality, not a moment but a certain force or intensity of thought which maintains its position in relationship to the real (understood as the indeterminate gap between syntax and spirit, or between an axiom and the imaginative power which both conditions and evades its’ grammar.) Reality and image, disjoint but co-present, conjoined only asymmetrically at specific suture points of flux: a coiled loop of time.

This self-interrupting dimorph-system, the ‘formal’ figure of the parasite, is a property of not only every formal system but of formality itself, of the very essence of form; it undermines and coerces the event of transformation itself, as only a symptom of fate, of time. A feeling or noise which never goes away, and then suddenly disappears one day, for no reason at all — an inconsistent multiplicity, an ocean of light, a body. A writing which without being written is beyond any form, a language which without being spoken is beyond any thought. This disjunction is contact which provokes a co-evolution, an involution of every event, every moment into a single moment which effaces them.

Thought captures the self-effacing movement of the mark through a penetration or disjunction, a contact without resolution. The becoming-formal of the indeterminate displaces syntax itself: a rupture which no set of axioms, or finite set of symbols, could encompass or comprehend. This ideal object evades finite inference. No axiom grounds infinite inference, no formal system dividing propositions into nonsense and sound judgments distinguishes its subtle grammar, only constituted within this improbable trajectory from noise to sound, from sound to voice, from voice to light. A parasitic evolution which proceeds from multiplicity and marches towards the empty, the open, the blank, the possible. 

Phantasm

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actualization / event / future / moment

 

Why is every event a kind of plague, war, wound or death? Is this simply to say that there are more unfortunate than fortunate events? No, this is not the case since the question here is about the double structure of every event. With every event, there is indeed the present moment of its actualization, the moment in which the event is embodied in a state of affairs, an individual, or a person, the moment we designate by saying “here, the moment has come.” The future and the past of the event are evaluated only with respect to this definitive present, and from the point of view which embodies it. But on the other hand, there is the future and the past of the event considered in itself, sidestepping each present, being free of the limitations of a state of affairs, impersonal and pre-individual, neutral, neither general nor particular, eventum tantum… It has no other present than that of the mobile instant which represents it, always divided into past-future, and forming what must be called the counter-actualization.

…It is at this mobile and precise point, where all events gather together in one that transmutation happens: this is the point at which death turns against death; where dying is no longer the negation of death, and the impersonality of dying no longer indicates only the moment when I disappear outside of myself, but rather the moment when death loses itself in itself, and also the figure which the most singular life takes on in order to substitute itself for me.

Deleuze, Logic of Sense 151-3

On Recognition, or Why Dogs Make Great Philosophers

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justice / Plato / Politics / sameness / the Republic

There are various moments in the Republic, especially in book II which we will focus on here, where justice is elusively illustrated according to those to whom justice is attributed, i.e. proceeding from types which partake in or lay claim to justice and showing by example not only the essence of justice but how it is in itself good. Now, obviously all of this is evident from the text and does not require repeating except to remind the reader, in a sense, the directionality of the arguments through which Socrates proceeds. It would also be obvious to point out how Socrates dialectically presupposes the subordination of the individual to the polis or State, which is manifested through his own “sacrifice” to Athens memorialized in the Crito and the Apology. What I would like to do here is instead to bear this in mind and stop upon a crucial passage in the text that concerns the “natural aptitudes” fitting for a guardian of the state in order to first analyze an example of this procedure from types and then, from there, to make some remarks about the general role of “philosophy” in the Republic along with the manifestation of an implicit argument of the text: namely, that philosophy is necessary for the cultivation of justice.

Let us situate ourselves, for our paths are narrow and fragmentary. After discussing the different duties which are required for the industriousness of a State, Socrates brings up the crucial question about the guardians of the state. It could be interpreted that these guardians would represent the elite elders governing the city, yet these passages do stress the physical requirements along with the necessity of fearlessness and bravery in battle (II 375). Warriors, Socrates argues, need swiftness, braveness, and spirit. Yet they must be gentle, they must be able to treat those like them with fairness. If you remember from the text earlier, Socrates makes the argument that the just man does not wish to exceed others like him. In the same sense, guardians must have a complex mixture of behaviors and instincts: they must combine fearlessness and gentleness. The example given of an animal that combines these traits is found in that of the dog.

In fact, Socrates asks, “Is not the noble youth very like a well-bred dog in respect of guarding and watching?” But, to complexify the argument, Socrates also argues that the dog is very much like a philosopher because “he distinguishes the face of a friend and of an enemy only by the criterion of knowing and not knowing” (II 376b). Before returning to this statement, we can almost sketch a syllogism with major and minor premises:

Major premise: Every noble youth is like a well-bred dog.

Minor premise: Every well-bred dog is like a philosopher.

Conclusion: Every noble youth is like a philosopher.

The cornerstone to this argument is the very nature of justice, for Socrates remarks “he who is likely to be gentle to his friends and acquaintances must by nature be a lover of wisdom.” And, not to jump ahead of ourselves, the reason why the following pages are concerned with censorship are precisely because Socrates is addressing a crucial question of breeding: how do we breed the noble youth into a well-bred dog, i.e. how do we instill justice into the youth, i.e. how do we breed the philosopher? For we are reminded after the claim that: “he who is to be a really good and noble guardian of the State will require to unite in himself philosophy and spirit and swiftness and strength.”

In other words, what makes the noble youth like a well-bred dog is the presence of philosophy instilled into the essence of his very being. This installation is what allows for the cultivation of justice precisely because justice is defined within the limits of the known and the unknown, i.e. of the like and the unlike. This leads to some startling conclusions: Greek philosophy and ethics are founded on the subordination of the Other, the Stranger, to the Same, which is to say that Greek justice is logocentrically normative or, in another sense, is too worried about the neighbor, the nearest, such that the furthest, in Nietzsche’s political sense, are precisely ignored or non-represented in terms of the situation. Where does this argument stem from?

To come full circle, the dog’s virtue is precisely in his recognition of the face of the Other in relation to that of the Same. As a crucial result, philosophy and justice come to reinforce each other on this basic principle: that the love of knowledge is the exaltation of the Same, and for philosophy to express its domination, the unlike must be rendered unto justice, which is to say that it must be made into the Same. Consequently, the Other and the Stranger are always on the other side of justice, justice always seems to slope off asymptotically upon verging with the unlike. As Laruelle would remind us, though, we are all Strangers in-the-last-instance, which means that the criterion of Sameness and Difference will not help us here if we are to think a completely human notion of justice. On the other hand, Deleuze has convincingly argued that justice does not exist, and where it does exist it must have been constructed, and hence it must have always already been jurisprudence, i.e. it must evolve according to a situation. This is why it becomes disingenuous for Socrates to not only promote the praise of the gods but also to change their very nature through the censorship of literature. Obviously, Socrates’ justice is constructed in such a way that its jurisprudence shows the inherent injustice in the system, for the freedom to know and question are denied to the common folk: what is left is the freedom to obey. Hence the freedom to know must be pre-established: one must be bred for it…

Everywhere

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darkness / determination / difference / form / Hegel / infinity / iteration / Lao-Tzu / light / multiplicity / Plato / purity / safety / situation

 

 

What is the nature of the difference between reflection and immediacy, between the orders of thought and of our inescapable exposure to light, to noise, to the proximity of another person? Between blindness and synesthesia, a word — a universe. Between the instant and the timeless, a positive indetermination which ruptures with the order of both image and essence, disrupting the fragility of duration as well as agitating the eternal time of truth — in short forcibly opening thought onto the pure multiple. 

Determination almost annihilates multiplicity, for unlike the one with its tiny arrow, (beholden to the singular, microscopic graph of substitution) with the multiple there is only noise — no categorical tables, no certain translations. Upon multiplicities, determination (especially as network, as protocol) is the work of almost total negation, a triple erasure whose traces are then painstakingly classified: subtraction dominating the supplement, an order without order. “Science is not necessarily a matter of the one or of order, the multiple and noise are not necessarily the province of the irrational. This can be the case, but it is not always so.” (Serres, Genesis 131) So what is it to “take” pure multiplicity as an explicit object for philosophy, for science, for politics, for art? What is it to think these surging flocks of singularities, or even to produce these dense aggregates of interconnections — dreams, the sea, time? What does the ego become, once one begins to think, to think the multiple as such? 

A transistor, a becoming, open at any rate to the noise of the sea: a model of knowledge, certainly, but also of the world. At once, all at once. Thought circulates, agitates through a radical indetermination in which it finds its singular positivity (if I may be permitted to say so, its humanity or humility.) A rigorous determination of multiplicity can be found in Plato and Hegel — hidden by the divisions characterizing the form of the Good, or the Whole — no less than in the Lao-Tzu, where multiplicity is reflected through cosmic experience itself and finds continuity only though the rupture of assigned identities: “From way-making arises continuity / From continuity arises difference / From difference arises plurality / From plurality arises multiplicity.” (Lao-Tzu, Daodejing 47) Thinking turns away, escapes at once, misses the point, goes astray; it is fluttering and chaotic, in the same way the world is turbulent. Always between sleep and consciousness, word and cosmos, being and nothingness, number and letter. No figure of thought, no poem or formula, could represent the multiple — no gesture could safely reproduce it. What is the multiple but pure risk, the becoming-excluded of the third, the very involution of the “safe” observer? The one in the other, without representation; the me within the multiple, the multiple in me, all at once and without extension. No distance is great enough, exposure is inevitable, we must respond.

The essence of the generic is finitude, an infinite displacement; the meaning of finitude is noise, an infinite repetition. There is a darkness and incompleteness at the very heart of knowledge, a heresy in the most rigorous formulae, a dangerous obscurity and black magic in even the purest thought. Finitude implies iterability, proximity, futurity, in short: society, noise, time, the sea. Being coincides with a generic excess, and essentially refers beyond the situation, to a process of connection to the infinite, to an outside, to pure multiplicity. Thinking — what but a conversation, a dance for two? Being and becoming, logos and chaos, image and essence, time and light, movement and rest. Before the dance begins, and between each pose, there must be a step, a measure, a form or transformation, a pause: a resonance and reception, an order and a response, silence and exposure. 

A suppleness is needed in order to hang in-between, a certain light-hearted spark without which the dance evaporates. Yet hardness is needed in order to maintain the vulnerable posture, tense, pronate. Finitude ceaselessly iterates, rapidly alternates, suddenly disintegrates. Absolute knowledge and absolute ignorance are both impossible; the question is one of phases, degrees, angles, senses. Thought is submission and mastery, learning and teaching, power and humility at once. Mastery without mastery, submission without submission: the situation presented produces a new situation, which itself needs reiteration. How to translate the infinite, the multiple, this conversation without words, this text without image? This formlessness of the purest form, this uplifting of the veil, this pure impurity. 

Ratio

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depth / disorder / dream / language / Plato / space / story / surface / theory / time

 

Between science’s eternal youth, forever sprouting green shoots, and the crumbling timelessness of art’s old age, there may yet emerge a new, a third kind of time, a crossing between the unique and universal which could bestow a new measure. 

The dream is young, the awakening ancient. 

Between the transformation and the formula, in the middle of the two shores of language, a glittering goal which shifts along with us, a nearly-invisible position which threatens to forever slip between the stories and theories into the depths. 

Between itself and itself, the earth is always the story — the only one we can remember or tell, that is, the one we are — this dream, and this awakening.

On the surface, the two series don’t align, cracks burst throughout the volume. A map of hidden tensions is revealed. The lines don’t originate from a central point. They swerve and intersect madly, though they may sometimes seem parallel. 

It is only in the depths, where mixtures reign, that all is equilibrium — a transcendental immanence. All impossibilities are nullified by a smooth consistency of oscillation, a balance without ratio. All formulas, and none. 

Perfect peace, though it may sometimes seem chaotic. 

And between the surface and the depth, an interval, the third space: the profound Being of depth crossed with the mad beings of the surface — a plague or a prophecy? 

Even now, I still do not know. 

The law of bifurcation rules the depths of the sea, of the skies, and of time. Everything is reversible. It is a lesson found in the most ancient books, the law of the parasite, whose tiny silver thread always manages to cross the borderline. 

The least can become the greatest: everything can become nothing, and nothing — everything. 

Thus, upon the surface, reversibility gives way to the irreversible. The law of anarchy, of entropy, rules the surface — a kind of royal madness which sets about organizing chaos, even creating complexity to maximize disorder. Time itself expresses this blistering of the surface, the irreversibility of creation. 

Finally, there could be no formal law for the space in between, spoken of even less than the depths and repressed by the surface-depth system — another wisp of Plato’s ghost. Yet it would be that ratio whose reason was precisely pure love, or humility — the meaning, and perhaps the very reality of humanity.