Postnihilistic Speculations: The Ontology of Non-Being

alien ecologies

For speculation which founded itself on the radical falsity of the Principle of Sufficient Reason would describe an absolute which would not constrain things to being thus rather than otherwise, but which would constrain them to being able not to be how they are.
….Quentin Meillassoux

Is this what we’ve been waiting for all along? The movement beyond the troubled circle of Being and becoming, of Time and its figural and literal tropes of disquieting lapses into finitude? The fragments of this lie all around us in such thinkers as Nietzsche, Bataille, Deleuze, Badiou, Zizek, and so many others within this metamorphic thought of a non-thought, this disquisition of an anathema.

My friend Cengiz Erdem in his essay Postnihilistic Speculations on That Which Is Not: A Thought-World According to an Ontology of Non-Beingcharts such a history:

A speculative move in the way of mapping the cartography of an ontology of non-being…

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Ethics of the Anthropocene?

Much appreciated as always dear Craig. I shall return to this post as well as our recent dialogue on the Promethean responsibilities and the Hermetic ambitions of the Anthropocene as soon as possible. Meanwhile here is Catherine Malabou’s take on the subject

alien ecologies

 …the “ancient wound” that, never healed, “lets . . . the stars / Into the animal-stinking ghost-ridden darkness”…
……– Robinson Jeffers

This morning I got a pleasant surprise. My friend Cengiz Erdem, of Senselogi©, a Cyprian who lives in Kyrenia and teaches social psychology, literature, philosophy and critical theory, who received his doctoral degree in Cultural and Critical Theory from The University of East Anglia in May 2009 with The Life Death Drives, his PhD thesis quoted me and provided a wonderful reflection and opening onto his own philosophical stance: Altering the Supposedly Predestined Future. Cengiz in a previous post outlined his basic philosophical stance this way, saying,

To begin at the beginning we shall say that philosophy is the dialectical process of truth in time, it is an infinite questioning of that which is known, a continuity in change of the unknown, a practice of situating eternity in…

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Slavoj Zizek on the Crisis of Democratic Capitalism (2016, Video)

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Slovenian philosopher and cultural theorist Slavoj Zizek has long been considered one of the most influential leftist intellectuals alive today. Foreign Policy magazine ranked him among the top 100 global thinkers in 2012. His fiery rhetoric and forthright Hegelian Marxism have also attracted controversy, prompting some to call him “the most dangerous philosopher in the West.” He recently published a book on the migrant crisis and Europe’s current existential dilemmas, titled Against The Double Blackmail: Refugees, Terror, And Other Troubles With The Neighbors.

In an interview in his native Ljubljana last month with Red Zone, a program produced jointly by RFE/RL’s Georgian Service and Georgian public television, Zizek outlined his views about the current ideological state of left-leaning parties in the West, the connection between democracy and the market economy, and the refugee crisis that saw more than 1 million people arrive in Europe last year.

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Walter Benjamin’s Capitalism as Religion: Is there any chance of freedom?

| Gustavo Racy | Heathwood Press | Walter Benjamin’s fragment Capitalism as Religion has stood out in the philosophical and political left, especially with the outburst of the current global economic crisis. According to his hypothesis, capitalism was not only made possible through the development of political economy, which draws back into the rise of […]

via Walter Benjamin’s Capitalism as Religion: Is there any chance of freedom? — SubSense

The Storm Blowing from Paradise: Walter Benjamin and Klee’s Angelus Novus

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| Stuart Jeffries | Versobooks.com|

The Storyteller: Tales Out of Loneliness gathers for the first time the fiction of the legendary critic and philosopher Walter Benjamin. Each text in the book is accompanied by a Paul Klee illustration. Below, Stuart Jeffries examines the meaning that Klee’s Angelus Novus held for Benjamin.

To celebrate the book’s publication, The Storyteller is for sale at 40% off until Monday, August 8.

In 1921, Walter Benjamin bought Paul Klee’s Angelus Novus

What was so marvellous to Benjamin about this goofy, eternally hovering angel with hair that looks like paper scrolls, aerodynamically hopeless wings and googly if rather melancholy eyes? “This,” he wrote in one of his greatest essays, “is how one pictures the angel of history.”

The German-Jewish philosopher and critic hung Angelus Novus in every apartment he lived in, not quite as a guardian angel but a suggestive presence that would…

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Extract from ‘The End of Progress: Decolonizing the Normative Foundations of Critical Theory’ by Amy Allen

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   | Amy Allen | Heathwood Press|

 In this book Allen, Professor of Philosophy and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, undertakes an important internal critique of the Frankfurt School. Leading with the question of how we might decolonize critical theory, she offers a timely critical examination of Jürgen Habermas’ and Axel Honneth’s respective projects, challenging the way these Frankfurt School thinkers employ such concepts as normativity, history and progress. Demanding that we re-imagine the way critical theory grounds its normative claims, Allen offers an intriguing reading of Rainer Forst before turning to the work of Theodor Adorno and Michel Foucault. In the process, she presents an alternative approach to history, initiating a fertile dialogue on issues of normativity and on the need for the “fuller realization” of certain normative ideals of the Enlightenment. The book concludes by introducing an alternative concept of open-ended practical reason as well as…

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Mr. Robot (Season 2, Episodes 1-2-3) — SubSense

Mr.Robot (Season 2, Episode 1) Mr.Robot (Season 2, Episode 2) Mr.Robot (Season 2, Episode 3)

via Mr. Robot (Season 2, Episodes 1-2-3) — SubSense

The Trouble With Pleasure: Deleuze and Psychoanalysis

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Deldiag

13781804_814568355309280_3122299712074861924_nIs pleasure a rotten idea, mired in negativity and lack, which should be abandoned in favor of a new concept of desire? Or is desire itself fundamentally a matter of lack, absence, and loss? This is one of the crucial issues dividing the work of Gilles Deleuze and Jacques Lacan, two of the most formidable figures of postwar French thought. Though the encounter with psychoanalysis deeply marked Deleuze’s work, we are yet to have a critical account of the very different postures he adopted toward psychoanalysis, and especially Lacanian theory, throughout his career. In The Trouble with Pleasure, Aaron Schuster tackles this tangled relationship head on. The result is neither a Lacanian reading of Deleuze nor a Deleuzian reading of Lacan but rather a systematic and comparative analysis that identifies concerns common to both thinkers and their ultimately incompatible ways of addressing them. Schuster focuses on drive and desire—the strange…

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Interview with Nikola Tesla on Life, Death, Matter, and Thought (Video)

“In 1899, Tesla gave this interview which has rarely ever been published for over 100 years. In it Tesla pulls no punches and reveals the great conspiracy of science that was well under way, the suppression of ether and the introduction of a new fake science to conceal it as well as to suppress the work of Tesla himself.

Once, in 1899, Nikola Tesla had an interview with a certain journalist, John Smith, when Tesla said, “Everything is the light.” In one of its rays is the fate of nations, each nation has its own ray in that great light source, which we see as the Sun. In this interview this greatest inventor and seer of modern time unravels a new vision of humanity which we, the light warriors of the first and the last hour, have created a century later. A must read for every Ascended Master from the PAT.

Part of this interview is dedicated to Tesla’s critics on Einstein’s theory of relativity that discards the ether as energy. I have proved in the new Theory of the Universal Law why Einstein’s theory of relativity is entirely wrong and why there is no vacuum (void), and that everything is energy. Thus I confirm Tesla’s ideas as expressed in this interview.” ~ ✪ Blow Your Mind

Violence, Conservatism, and the Fate of Culture

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In an epic trawl through the heroic narratives of Hollywood action movies, TV crime drama, and their maverick protagonists, from The Maltese Falcon to Dexter via 24, Amanda Beech explores the depiction of law, violence, and the politics of contingency, and asks what the resolute actions of these heroes have to tell us about conceptions of the political force of culture

A standard Hollywood version of the action hero that proliferated in the 1980’s is now the subject of parody from those outside of this system and its original perpetrators alike. This is the kind of hero that ignored the law, pushed his (it was usually a man) personal agenda and was free from doubt, contemplation or anxiety. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, and Bruce Willis set the precedent for these A-list machismo-steroid-pumped agents of destruction, and their presence honed this genre with sequels, franchises and…

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The Great Fire of Democracy – Ece Temelkuran

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| Ece Temelkuran | Versobooks.com|

At what point will the panes shatter from the noise of the fighter jets? When will the approaching shots be at the door? Award-winning Turkish journalist, Ece Temelkuran, author of and most recently Turkey: The Insane and the Melancholy (Zed Books, 2106), responds to the attempted coup on Friday 15th July when the Turkish military tried and failed to overthrow Erdoğan.

This article originally appeared in German in Frankfurter Allgemeine and is translated by Flossie Draper.
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Istanbul the morning after the great fire of democracy…

Sela is called from the mosques

It is half past one in the morning, and from all the minarets in Turkey, this special, long call to prayer, which is used at times of death, resounds unrelentingly. As one ends, already the next starts up. The thundering of the fighter jets over our roofs mingles with this marrow-piercing call to prayer…

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Interview with Althusser on Communist Movements

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 “The dictatorship of the proletariat is not at all the same thing as Stalinism.”
| Althusser | Versobooks.com|

In this interview with Spanish newspaper El Pais from 1976, Louis Althusser discusses his relationship with the PCF and the Prague Spring, Eurocommunism, China, and the contentious issue of the dictatorship of the proletariat. The interview was conducted by Alfons Quintà, translated from the Spanish by David Broder.

Reading Capital: The Complete Edition — the first unabridged English translation of the collective work, including contributions from Balibar, Louis Althusser, Jacques Rancière, Pierre Macherey, and Roger Establet — is out now.

The French Marxist philosopher Louis Althusser, professor at Paris’s École Normale Supérieure and a member of the Parti Communiste Français since 1948, recently spent a few days in Barcelona. The 57-year-old Althusser, born in Algeria, is the author of numerous books of worldwide notoriety. The most important include Reading Capital

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15 Temmuz Darbe Girişiminin Aslına Astarına Kurgulanmış Diyalektik Ötesinden Bakmak

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| Michael Sikkofield | blogspot.com.cy|

Dünyada bu işin amacının ne olduğunu tamamen bilen yalnızca bir avuç insan olduğundan eminim. Haliyle vereceğim bilgiler dışındaki yorumlarım tahminden ibaret olacaktır. Fakat gerçek olma olasılığı epey yüksek tahminler…

Türkiye çoktan iki kutuba bölündü, AKP’liler ve laikler. Bu anlatacaklarım fanatik AKP’lilere işlemeyecek. Bu anlatacaklarım lafta Atatürkçü geçinip, AKP’ye muhalefet etmekten gözü kor olmuş ve Rusya’dan, BM’den, oradan buradan medet uman denyo kesime de işlemeyecek. Duvara karşı da olsa, ben yine amme hizmetimi yapacağım. Önce kısa bir bilgilendirme ve hatırlatma faslı:

Dün gece, 15 Temmuz yaklaşık 22.30 saatlerinde darbe yapılacağı ve köprülerin askerlerce kapandığı duyulmaya başladı. F-16 ve helikopterler tepemizden geçti, silah ve bomba sesleri duyuldu. Çok kısa sürede de işin sadece TSK’daki bir azınlıkça yapıldığını fark ettik. O andan itibaren ben de dahil birçok insanın aklına aynı şey geldi: “Tiyatro”. Evet bu alenen tiyatroydu, fakat bu bir AKP tiyatrosu değildi, değildir, olamaz. O…

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Fredric Jameson: Universal Conscription and the Citizens’ Army

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| Fredric Jameson | Versobooks.com|

An American Utopia radically questions standard leftist notions of what constitutes an emancipated society. “If,” Jameson asks, “business, the professions, religion, even the labor unions (let alone the post office or the Mafia) are inadequate vehicles for dual power, what can then be left in late capitalism as an already organized institution capable of assuming the parallel and ultimately revolutionary role on which alone radical social change depends?” 

This is the moment to mention a final candidate, the only subsystem left which can function in so truly revolutionary a fashion. It is a thought that must have first come to me many years ago, inspired by an image by one of our greatest political cartoonists. I think it must have been during the first year of the Eisenhower presidency, if not still during the campaign, when the last vestiges of the New Deal still survived in…

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A discussion worth revisiting at this historic post-Brexit juncture

Yanis Varoufakis

Today is a historic day. Post-Brexit the EU is entering a new, furious phase of disintegration. DiEM25’s initial response can be read here. Tomorrow I sum up my reaction in two articles (one in The Guardian and one in Project Syndicate – plus a Greek one in Εφημερίδα των Συντακτών). Till then I think it useful to revisit the 26th April discussion I was honoured to have with Noam Chomsky at the New York Public Library.

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Prometheanism 2.0 – Introduction by Bassam El Baroni

Prometheanism is an ‘-ism’ derived from its namesake the Titan Prometheus who stole fire from the Gods of Greek mythology and taught humans how to make their own tools. Prometheus’s name means ‘forethought’, his Titan brother was Epimetheus meaning ‘afterthought’, Prometheus’s course was driven by his brother’s erratic actions when they were both given the mission to develop creatures to inhabit earth. Already – through this ancient mythological component inscribed in the term Prometheanism – we can ascribe a basic lattice of connected ideas that forms a research area for subsequent Prometheanisms thereon. This lattice is composed of: thinking for the future and planning (evident in Prometheus’s name, forethought), a need for rationalism or sound reasoning since thinking for the future, and planning cannot be guided by mere hunches, the contestation of power based on the breakdown of boundaries between what is perceived to be given by nature (the Gods didn’t grant Prometheus permission for fire, he stole it from them) and what is human-made (with the stolen fire he went on to teach humans to unearth iron and craft tools for their survival and wellbeing), putting thought and action in the service of a totality of humans, and finally living with the consequences of such articulations-in-action bent on the progression of humans (for Prometheus this meant harsh punishment by the Gods, ironically through the metaphors of infinite growth and eternal repetition, his regrowing liver devoured by an ever-encircling eagle).

If we graft these components onto more recent portrayals of the promethean, we find them obstructed by questionable notions of morality[2], smuggled into fear-mongering scenarios that deter from more urgent concerns, or damaged by the actual misuse of rationalism. The latter emerged at the point when rationality and reason were thought to be encrypted in objective reality and not socially constructed processes[3]. As for the fear-mongering scenarios, the romanticism of Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus (1818) is a kind of blueprint for a cinema-script imaginary endlessly populating screens today, associated with the limits of the human and the idea that there are givens that we should not tamper with because they are greater than human. The film industry is obsessed with and hammers into our heads the idea that there is something vitally given in nature, an élan vital that if we dare challenge, nature will take its revenge (Prometheus’s punishment), this is opposition to artificiality by an industry that is now almost fully based on artificial man-made technology.

Opposing this, philosopher Ray Brassier calls the embrace of artificiality ‘the promethean trespass’, humans making the given. This is regarded as a sin by many because it consists in “destroying the equilibrium between the made and the given between what human beings generate through their own resources, both cognitive and practical, and the way the world is, whether characterised cosmologically, biologically, or historically.”[4] Prometheanism 2.0, a temporary label for the work of a wide group of thinkers and actors, can be said to be primarily concerned with the development of concepts, methods, and aesthetics for making the given, i.e. the construction of reality through the transformation of the equilibrium between the made and the given. However, its gist has to do with the much broader issue of discerning and contesting the concepts, limits, and powers that stand against “articulating action and knowledge in the perspective of totality”.[5] The event intends to unpack these various dimensions from their political and aesthetical angles offering a snapshot of what a contemporary prometheanism questions, articulates, and is concerned with.

[1] Ray Brassier, 2014, Prometheanism and its Critics. In #Accelerate: The Accelerationist Reader Mackay, Robin and Avanessian, Armen (eds.). Falmouth: Urbanomic, 469-487

[2] Alberto Toscano writes “Prometheanism is precisely the refusal of the articulation between divine (or political) authority and human mortality. […] To the extent that domination is still based on the exploitation of our mortality – and especially of the cares and fears that so often prevent political mobilisation – the figure of Prometheus is […] the bearer of the open question of how we, creatures that draw their breath in gasps, can manage not be subject to the violent prerogatives of sovereignty.” The Plea for Prometheus, 2009

[3] This is the misunderstanding and misrepresentation of science as reason-giving rather than cause-revealing.

[4] Ray Brassier, 2014, Prometheanism and its Critics. In #Accelerate: The Accelerationist Reader Mackay, Robin and Avanessian, Armen (eds.). Falmouth: Urbanomic, 469-487

[5] Alberto Toscano, The Prejudice Against Prometheus

ABOUT BASSAM EL BARONI

BACK TO THE SYMPOSIUM

via Dutch Art Institute

Sinemaya Yamuk Bakmak: Zizek Bize Ne Anlatmaya Çalışıyor?

Sinemaya Yamuk Bakmak: Zizek Bize Ne Anlatmaya Çalışıyor?

Slavoj ZizekWalter Benjamin’den aldığı argümanla “teorik açıdan verimli ve yıkıcı bir işlem olarak bir kültürün en yüksek tinsel ürünlerini, aynı kültürün sıradan, bayağı, dünyevi ürünleriyle birlikte okumayı” [1] deneyerek  popüler kültür metinleriniHegelKantMarxFreud ve Lacan gibi filozofların teori ve kavramları ile açıklamaya çalışır. Zizek’e göre sinema ideolojinin operasyonlarını tahlil edip eleştirmede bir nevi alet edevat çantası vazifesi [2] görmektedir. Sinema Zizek için bir psikoloğun koltuğu gibidir. İnsanlar o koltukta dertlerini, hikâyelerini ve fantezilerini anlatırlar. Lacan’dan aldığı kavramlarla psikolog koltuğunda oturan Zizek ise kendine has yöntemlerle mevcut ideolojiyi ve dünyayı anlamaya ve anlatmaya çalışır.

Sinema hakkında yazdığı en kapsamlı kitap olan Yamuk Bakmak’ın önsözünde Zizek bu konuya temas ederek Jacques Lacan’ın en yüce teorik motiflerinin çağdaş kitle kültürünün numunelik örnekleri yoluyla ve onlarla birlikte okunduğunu söylemiş ve bu örnekler arasında, ne de olsa “ciddi bir sanatçı” olduğu konusunda artık genel bir mutabakata varılmış bulunan Alfred Hitchcock‘un yanı sıra, film noir, bilimkurgu, dedektif romanları, duygusal kitsch eserler, hatta ve hatta Stephen King’in romanlarından bile yararlanıldığını vurgulamıştır. Yani Lacan’a kendi ünlü formülü “Kant’la Sade”ı (Kant’ın eriğini Sade’cı sapıklık açısından yorumlayışını) uygulamıştır. [3]

Zizek işe önce gerçekliğin ve gerçeğin ne olduğu sorusuna cevap arayarak başlar. Ona göre, bir şeye dosdoğru bakarsak onu “gerçekte olduğu gibi” görürüz; hâlbuki arzu ve endişelerimizin karıştırdığı bakış (yamuk bakış) bize çarpık, bulanık bir görüntü verir. Gelgelelim, ikinci metafor düzeyinde tam tersi bir ilişki söz konusudur: Bir şeye dosdoğru, yani gayri şahsi, nesnel bir biçimde bakarsak şekilsiz bir noktadan başka bir şey göremeyiz; nesne, ona ancak “belli bir açıdan”, yani arzu’nun desteklediği, nüfuz ettiği ve “çarpıttığı” şahsi bir bakışla baktığımız takdirde açık seçik özellikler kazanır. Bu da objet petit a*‘nın, yani arzunun nesne-nedeninin kusursuz bir tarifidir; bir bakıma, bizatihi arzu tarafından koyutlanan bir nesne. Arzunun paradoksu, kendi nedenini geri dönüşlü olarak koyutlamasıdır. Bu demektir ki a nesnesi, sadece arzu tarafından “çarpıtılmış” bir bakışla algılanabilen bir nesne, “nesnel” bir bakış için var olmayan bir nesnedir. Başka bir deyişle, a nesnesi her zaman -tanımı gereği- çarpıtılmış bir biçimde algılanır çünkü bu çarpıtmanın dışında, “kendi içinde” varlığı yoktur. Zira tam da bu çarpıtmanın, arzunun “nesnel gerçeklik” denen şeye soktuğu bu kargaşa ve karışıklık fazlasının cisimleşmesinden, maddileşmesinden başka bir şey değildir. Objet petit a, “nesnel açıdan” hiçbir şey değildir, ama belli bir perspektiften bakıldığında, “bir şey” biçimine bürünür. [4] Yani Zizek film okumalarında filmleri “gerçekte oldukları gibi” değil, onlara yamuk bakarak doğru okuyabileceğimizi söylüyor. Film okumalarında Lacan’dan aldığı argümanla anamorfik bir bakış sergileyen Zizek gerçeğe ve gerçeğin arkasında yatan ideolojiye bu yolla ulaşmaya çalışıyor. Burada anamorfoz kavramanı açıklamakta yarar var. Zira gerçeği “yamuk bakarak” çözümlemek anamorfoz kavramını anlamaktan geçiyor. Anamorfoz; görme duyusuyla dolaysız olarak algılanamayan, belirli bir biçime sahip değilmiş gibi görünen nesnelerin özel bir bakış açısından algılanabilir olması anlamına gelir. Anamorfotik cisimler, ancak belirli (ve sıradan olmayan, aykırı) bir bakış açısından, “yamuk bakarak” algılanabilir, ancak bu sayede Simgesel düzende bir yere oturtulabilir. Lacan’ın bakış/nazar (F. regard, İ. gaze) anlayışına göre ancak belirli bir konumdan ve belirli bir açıdan bakıldığında (gözucuyla) görünebilir “gibi olan” anamorfotik nesneye en iyi örnek, Holbein‘ın Sefirler tablosudur. Bu tabloda iki sefirin önünde, yerde duran ve anlamsız bir döşeme deseniymiş gibi görünen şey, tabloya yandan ve hafifçe başınızı yana eğerek (yamuk) baktığınızda, bir kafatası olarak algılanır. [5]

Gerçek çoğunlukla simgeselleştirilmeye ve diyalektikleştirilmeye direnen, sebat eden, her zaman ona dönen sert bir çekirdek olarak kavranır. [6] Fakat gerçek sadece kaba anlamı ile bir gerçek değildir; daima yanılsamayı içinde barındıran bir gerçekliktir. Sinema tam da bu noktada Zizek’in ilgisini çekmiştir. Zira sinema gerçek ile yanılsamayı iç içe geçirir. Bunu The Matrix (1999) filminin ünlü sahnesinde görebilmekteyiz. Morpheus Neo’ya mavi ve kırmızı olmak üzere iki kapsül uzatarak iki seçenek sunar; ya simülasyondan uyanıp gerçeğe adım atacaktır ya da simülakrda neye inanmak istiyorsa ona inanıp çoğunluğun yaptığı gibi enerjisini matrix denilen “kurmaca makinasına” bağlayacaktır. Zizek bu sahneyi şöyle okur: “Kırmızı ve mavi kapsüller arasındaki seçim gerçek anlamda realite ve yanılsama arasındaki seçim değildir. Yanılsama realitemizi inşa eden kurgulardır. Eğer gerçekliğinizi düzenleyen simgesel kurmacayı gerçekliğinizden atarsanız gerçekliğin kendisini kaybedersiniz. Ben üçüncü kapsülü tercih ediyorum; realitenin içindeki yanılsamayı kavramamı sağlayan kapsül.” [7] Gerçek, sembolik (simgesel) düzeni aşan pozitif bir şey olmaktan ziyade, sembolik düzene içkin bir hiçtir. Sembolik düzende temsil edilmesi nâmümkün olduğu içinse kayda geçirilmesi imkânsız bir boşluktan ibarettir. [8]

Peki insan yanılsamaya neden ihtiyaç duyar? Yine The Matrix filmi üzerinden gidersek, burada Neo’nun matrixe uyanıp aslında sıvı ile dolan ve tümüyle sizin enerjinizi çekerek sizi pasif bir  nesneye dönüştüren sahte gerçeğe bağlı bir kutunun içinde olduğunu fark ettiği sahnede, matrixin bizim enerjimize neden ihtiyaç duyduğu sorusu öne çıkar. Bu sahnede alışılmışın aksine Zizek farklı bir yorum yaparak şöyle der: “Matrix enerjiye değil enerji matrixe ihtiyaç duyar. Sözünü ettiğimiz enerji libidodur. Libidomuz bizim mutluluğumuzdur ve libido sahte bir gerçekliğe ve bir fantezi evrenine ihtiyaç duyar.” [9]

Yanılsama ve fantezi insanın arzularına ilişkin bir meseledir ve sinemanın gerçeklik ve ideolojiyi inşa ederken kullandığı şey de arzunun nasıl elde edileceğini anlatması ve bir yanılsama yaratmasıdır. Fakat bu yanılsamayı realitenin karşıtı bir yanılsama gibi anlamamak gerekir. Zira bu yanılsama realiteye içkin olan yanılsamadır; yani realiteyi inşa edendir bir bakıma. Zizek Hegel’in varlık ve hiçlik diyalektiğinin sanıldığının aksine birbirlerini tamamlayan bir şey olmadıklarını söyler. “Özneler arasında dolaşan şey öncelikle bir boşluktur. Özneler birbirlerine ortak bir eksiği iletirler. Gerçek, karşı kutupların dolaysız çakışma noktası olarak tanımlanır. Her kutup dolaysızca karşıtına geçer; her biri kendi içinde zaten kendi karşıtıdır. Bunun tek felsefi muadili Hegelci diyalektiktir. Hegel’in Mantık’ının en başında Varlık ve Hiçlik birbirlerini tamamlamaz. Hegel’in söylemek istediği, bunların her birinin kimliğini ötekinden farkı sayesinde kazandığı da değildir. Söylemek istediği şudur: Varlık kendi başına, onu ‘olduğu gibi’, saf soyutlanmışlığı ve belirlenmemişliği içinde, başka bir özgülleştirmeye gerek duymadan kavramaya çalıştığımızda kendisinin Hiçlik olduğunu gösterir.” [10]

Zizek; sinema seyircisine Freudyen bir soru sorar: “Bir şeyi yaparken ne düşünüyorsunuz?” Bu soruya cevap vermek zorundayız; çünkü libidomuz kendini hayatta tutabilmek için yanılsamaya ihtiyaç duyar. [11]

Sinemadaki yanılsamayı – Zizek’in anlattığı anlamda, klasik anlamda değil – daha iyi anlayabilmemiz için arzunun ne olduğunu anlamamız gerekecektir. Arzu; nesnesinin belirsizliği ile ve kesintisiz, tatmin edilemez zorlayıcılığı ile tanımlanır. Lacan’a göre, ihtiyaç ile onun dile getirilmesi olan talep (ki dil taleplerden ibarettir) arasında doldurulması imkânsız bir boşluk vardır; arzu tam bu boşluğa yerleşir. İhtiyaç, tanımı gereği simgelerle ifade edilemez, talep ise zorunlu olarak simgeseldir. Arzu, bu iki özelliği birden taşıdığı için ona neden olan nesne ile onu tatmin edecek olan nesne daima farklıdır ve bu nedenle de gerçek arzu asla tatmin edilemez. Zizek’in üzerinde ısrarla durduğu “Che vuoi?” (Arzuladığın nedir?Aslında ne istiyorsun?) sorusu, arzunun nedeni ile nesnesi arasındaki bu örtüşmezliğin öznede yarattığı belirsizliğin ifadesidir. Özne daima bir şeyi arzulamakta olduğunu bilir, ama bunun tam olarak ne olduğundan asla emin olamaz. [12]

Sinema arzunun nedeni ve nesnesi arasındaki bu örtüşmezliğin öznede yarattığı belirsizliğe yerleşir. Bu yüzden Zizek’e göre sinema en sapkın sanattır. “Bizim için problem olan arzularımızın doyurulması ya da doyurulmaması değildir. Asıl problem olan arzu ettiğimiz şeyi şu an nasıl elde ettiğimizdir. Sinema en sapkın sanattır; sinema size neyi arzu edeceğinizi değil, nasıl arzu edeceğinizi anlatır.” [13] Zizek, arzunun realiteyi inşa eden yanılsamada en büyük yara olduğunu söyler. “Arzu realitenin yarasıdır. Sinema sanatı arzu ile oyun oynamak için arzunun uyandırılmasından meydana gelir ama aynı zamanda arzuyu belli bir mesafede tutarak, onu evcilleştirerek ve hissedilir kılarak ortaya çıkarılır.” [14]

Arzu ve yanılsama arasındaki bu ilişki sinema kuramcıları ve eleştirmenleri tarafından sıkça kullanılan bir kavramı doğurur elbette: Özdeşleşme. Zizek özdeşleşmeyi imgesel ve simgesel olmak üzere ikiye ayırır. İmgesel ve simgesel özdeşleşme arasındaki ilişki “kurulmuş” özdeşleşme ile “kurucu” özdeşleşme arasındaki ilişkidir. İmgesel özdeşleşme, içinde kendi kendimize hoş göründüğümüz imgeyle, “olmak istediğimiz şeyi” temsil eden imgeyle özdeşleşmedir. Simgesel özdeşleşme ise tam da gözlendiğimiz yerle, kendi kendimize hoş, sevilmeye değer görünecek şekilde baktığımız yerle özdeşleşmedir. [15]

Başat, yaygın özdeşleşme anlayışımız; modelleri, idealleri taklit etmeye dayalı özdeşleşmedir. Gençlerin popüler kahramanlarla, pop şarkıcılarıyla, sinema yıldızlarıyla özdeşleştikleri söylenir. Bu yaygın anlayış iki kere yanıltıcıdır. Bir kere biriyle özdeşleşmemizin temelinde yatan özellik çoğunlukla gizlidir. [16] Özdeşleşilecek özelliğin ötekinin belli bir başarısızlığı, zaafı, suçluluk hissi de olabileceğidir. Öyle ki başarısızlığa işaret ederek özdeşleşmeyi istemeden pekiştiriyor olabiliriz. [17]

İmgesel ve simgesel özdeşleşme arasındaki farkı şöyle netleştirebiliriz; Chaplin’in filmlerinde çocuklara o alışılmış tatlılıkla davranılmaz. Onlara karşı kötü, aşağılayıcı, sadist bir tutum sergilenir. Gelgelelim, burada sorulması gereken soru, bize korunmaya muhtaç, yumuşak yaratıklar gibi değil de alay etme ve dalga geçme nesneleri olarak görünmeleri için çocuklara hangi noktadan bakmamız gerektiğidir. Bunun cevabı elbette çocukların kendilerinin bakışıdır. Yalnızca çocuklar çocuklara bu şekilde davranır. Nitekim çocuklara karşı alınan sadistçe mesafe çocukların kendilerinin bakışıyla simgesel özdeşleşme kurulduğunu ima eder. Öteki uçta ise “sıradan iyi insanlara” duyulan Dickensvari hayranlık, onların yoksul ama mutlu, yakın, bozulmamış, iktidar ve para için verilen acımasız mücadeleden arınmış hayatlarıyla kurulan imgesel özdeşleşme vardır. […] Aynı şey sosyalist “sıradan işçiler”in vakarını dilinden düşürmeyen Stalinizm için de geçerlidir. [18]

İmgesel özdeşleşme bize ideolojinin nasıl işlediğini de gösterir. Bunu Zizek’in James Cameron’un 1997 yapımı Titanic filmi okumalarında net bir şekilde görmekteyiz. Titanic filminde alt sınıfa ait bir yoksul olan Jack ile üst sınıfa ait varsıl bir kız olan Rose’un ünlü Titanic gemisindeki aşkı anlatılır. İzlenme rekorları kıran bu filmin altında yatan ideoloji ise üst sınıfın olumlanması ve kırılan onurunun inşa edilmesidir. Titanic’in buzdağına çarpması erkek ve kadının sevişmelerinden hemen sonra yaşanmaz. Eğer öyle olsaydı bu günahlarına -zina- karşı bir ceza olarak okunabilirdi, ama çarpma geminin güvertesinde kızın Jack’a New York’a vardıklarında varlıklı hayatını bırakarak kendisi ile kaçacağını söylemesinden sonra gerçekleşir. Gemi buz dağına çarpmayıp New York’a varsaydı ne olurdu? Elbette kız o varlıklı hayatı bırakıp yoksulların hayatına ayak uyduramayacaktı, aşk sonlanacaktı; fakat geminin buz dağına çarpması ile bu aşk yönetmen tarafından ölümsüzleştirildi. Gemi felaketi ve beraberinde erkeğin ölümü bu aşkın sonsuza kadar yaşadığı yanılsamasını verir. Bir diğer ipucu da Jack’in öldüğü sahnedir. Jack donarak öldüğü bu sahnede son anlarını yaşarken Rose bir yandan “Gitmene asla izin vermeyeceğim.” der; diğer yandan elleriyle Jack’i suya itmektedir.  Titanic şımarık bir zengin kızının kimlik krizinin hikâyesidir. Jack’in filmdeki fonksiyonu kızın kaybolmuş olan kimlik ve amaç duygusunu geri yüklemektir. Bu, Cameron’un yüzeysel Hollywood marksizmidir. Altsınıf üstsınıfın kimliğini oluşturmada sadece bir “arabulucu” işlevi görmektedir. [19] İmgesel özdeşleşme, mevcut ideolojinin izleyiciye dayatmasıdır. Filmlerdeki masum aşk hikâyelerinin ardındaki ideoloji ancak bu “yamuk bakış” ile kavranabilir.

İmge elbette bakış sorunsalını hep içinde taşır. Sınıf sorunsalını bir kenara bırakıp hâkimiyet ilişkileri üzerinden bakış ve imge meselesini tartışacak olursak Zizek’in klasik feminist söylemin tersini düşündüğünü görürüz. Bu noktada, ünlü düşünür örneğini Basic Instinct (1992) filminden vermektedir. “Filmin o meşhur bacak sahnesinin hâkimiyet ilişkileri üzerine ilkel ama güzel bir sahne olduğunu düşünüyorum. Benim feminizm anlayışım böyle bir şey. Geleneksel feministler Sharon Stone’un orada tamamen erkek bakışının nesnesi olduğunu söyleyeceklerdir. Ama aslında, bacaklarını biraz oynatarak bütün kontrolü eline alıyor. Laura Mulvey’in o klasik feminist teorisinin yanlış olduğunu düşünüyorum. İşte erkek bakışı kadınları nesneleştirir filan… Bence asıl kurban konumunda olan bakışın maruz kaldığı nesne değil, bakışın sahibi olan taraftır. İktidarsız olan bakışın kendisi. O durumda efendi konumunda olan aslında kadındır.” [20]

Zizek; “Bugünün dünyasını anlayabilmek için tam anlamıyla sinemaya ihtiyacımız var. Gerçek hayatta karşı karşıya kalmaya hazır olmadığımız bu kritik boyutu ancak sinema ile karşılayabiliriz. Eğer gerçekliğin içinde ne olduğuna bakıyorsanız; yani gerçeğin kendisinden daha gerçek olan şeyin ne olduğuna bakıyorsanız sinemanın kendi içindeki kurmaca evrenine bakın,” der. [21] Sinema ideolojinin perdesinin aralandığı ve gerçekliğin açığa çıktığı bir kurmaca evren olarak önemli bir sanattır. Filmin içinde ideolojinin konumu izleyiciyi daima nesneleştiren haldedir ve gerçekliğin arkasındaki fantezi; doyurulmamış ve doyurulması mümkün olmayan arzunun yarattığı boşluktan yararlanarak gerçekliğin kendisine dönüşür. Böylece “hiç” olan şey daima “var” kılınmış olur.

*objet petit a ya da objet a: Lacan’ın diğer dillere yapılan çevirilerinde Fransızca olarak korunmasında ısrar ettiği bu kavram, Türkçeye kabaca “küçük öteki nesnesi” olarak çevrilebilir (buradaki “a”, Fransızcada “öteki” anlamına gelen autre kelimesinin baş harfidir). Objet petit a, gerçek bir nesne değildir, bir fantezi nesnesidir. Özne, simgesel sistemin bir türlü sınırları içine alamadığı Gerçek’in bir türlü açıklanamayan, anlamlandırılamayan bu “fazla”sı ile başa çıkabilmek için, daha bir “ben” olarak ilk oluştuğu yıllardan başlayarak bir fantezi nesnesi yaratır. Bu nesne, arzu nesnesi aslında “yok”tur; öznenin ne olduğunu bilmediği, sadece göz ucuyla görebildiği ilksel eksik’inin fantazmatik eşdeğeridir. Ancak özne bir yandan da bu nesnenin fantazmatik özelliğini, gerçekten varolmadığını bilir (Lacan’ın deyişiyle, “Je sais bien, mais quand meme…” – “Aslında çok iyi biliyorum, ama gene de…”). Tam da bu nedenle bilinçsiz olarak objet petit a’ya ulaşmaktan, tatminden kaçınır, yolu uzatır, çıkmaza sokar. Aramaktan vazgeçemez, ama asla bulmak da istemez. (Zizek, Yamuk Bakmak, s.231 )

Kaynakça:

[1] Slavoj Zizek, Yamuk Bakmak, Metis Yayınları, Birinci Basım, İstanbul, 2005, s. 7
[2] Akt. Cengiz Erdem, Kendi Hayâllerinin Kurbanları Olarak Slavoj Zizek’in Film Karakterleri,https://cengizerdem.wordpress.com/2011/03/15/kendi-hayallerinin-kurbanlari-olarak-slavoj-zizek%E2%80%99in-film-karakterleri/, (27.05.2013)
[3] Zizek, Yamuk Bakmak, s. 7
[4] Zizek, Yamuk Bakmak, s.27
[5] Zizek, Yamuk Bakmak, s. 227
[6] Slavoj Zizek, İdeolojinin Yüce Nesnesi, Metis Yayınları, Dördüncü Basım, 2011, İstanbul, s. 175
[7] The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema (2006), yön: Sophie Fiennes, senaryo: Slavoj Zizek, dk: 04.00
[8] Cengiz Erdem, Kendi Hayâllerinin Kurbanları Olarak Slavoj Zizek’in Film Karakterleri,https://cengizerdem.wordpress.com/2011/03/15/kendi-hayallerinin-kurbanlari-olarak-slavoj-zizek%E2%80%99in-film-karakterleri/, (27.05.2013)
[9] The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema (2006), yön: Sophie Fiennes, senaryo: Slavoj Zizek, dk: 50.00
[10] Zizek, İdeolojinin Yüce Nesnesi, s. 187
[11] The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema (2006), yön: Sophie Fiennes, senaryo: Slavoj Zizek, dk: 48.40
[12] Zizek, Yamuk Bakmak, s. 227
[13] The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema (2006), yön: Sophie Fiennes, senaryo: Slavoj Zizek, (filmin açılış sekansında)
[14] The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema (2006), yön: Sophie Fiennes, senaryo: Slavoj Zizek, dk: 47.00
[15] Zizek, İdeolojinin Yüce Nesnesi, s. 121
[16] Zizek, İdeolojinin Yüce Nesnesi, s. 121
[17] Zizek, İdeolojinin Yüce Nesnesi, s. 122
[18] Zizek, İdeolojinin Yüce Nesnesi, s. 123
[19] Slavoj Zizek, A Pervert’s Guide to Family, http://www.lacan.com/zizfamily.htm, (27.05.2013)
[20] Slavoj Zizek, Ben Her Şeyi Biliyorum, söyleşi: Senem Aytaç, Övgü Gökçe, Berke Göl, Gözde Onaran, Nadir Öperli, Fırat Yücel, Aralık, 2007, sayı 62
[21] The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema (2006), yön: Sophie Fiennes, senaryo: Slavoj Zizek, (filmin kapanış sekansı)

Kürşat Saygılı
İstanbul Üniversitesi Edebiyat Fakültesi mezunu. Marmara Üniversitesi iletişim Fakültesi’nde Sinema yüksek lisansını tamamladı. Sinema Kafası’nda başladığı film eleştirilerine Cineritüel sitesinin yanı sıra Dipnot Dergisi’nde film eleştirileri ve makalelerini yayınlayarak devam ediyor.

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How To Fake Your Way Through Hegel

Indeed…

 

Perverse Egalitarianism

Look, it’s the Hegel age – you know it and I know it. It’s been the Hegel age for the past 200 hundred years, but only recently have we come to realize that in all the recent attempts to “overcome Kant” there is no overcoming Kant like the Hegelian overcoming of Kant. Thus Hegel is back (because he never left).

Now, the problem with Hegel is that, well, he is too Hegelian – too difficult to understand, too German and inaccessible, too time-consuming. Fear not, dear future Hegelians! Here are a few useful tips on faking your way through Hegel – if you follow these, you will surely come across as the most intelligent and thought-provoking expert on all things Hegelian. 

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Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work

A new manifesto for a high-tech future free from work by Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams

via Verso

Here are some more insightful and in depth takes on Inventing The Future1779303_1505913316339136_2644416062274766485_n

The Future

Neoliberalism has repurposed the idea of “modernity” for its own ends;[11] but now is the time, say S&W, for the left to reclaim it, by devising a “future-oriented politics capable of challenging capitalism at the largest scales.” Change will not come about as a result of wishful thinking, or by turning our backs on the future altogether. The left must approach the concept of the future as a contestable, hyperstitional field.[12] Likewise the concept of freedom ought to be revised as mutable and synthetic rather than fixed and natural. “Whereas negative freedom is concerned with assuring the formal right to avoid interference, ‘synthetic freedom’ recognises that a formal right without a material capacity is meaningless.”[13] Rather than an emancipatory action, freedom cannot be considered as separate from power.[14] The power to act independently allows us to achieve what is beyond our current capabilities, and is the basic requirement for postcapitalism:

One of the biggest indictments of capitalism is that it enables the freedom to act for only a vanishingly small few. A primary aim of a postcapitalist world would therefore be to maximise synthetic freedom, or in other words, to enable the flourishing of all humanity and the expansion of our collective horizons. Achieving this involves at least three different elements: the provision of the basic necessities of life, the expansion of social resources, and the development of technological capacities. Taken together, these form a synthetic freedom that is constructed rather than natural. (p80)

Freedom, in the form of free time, ought to be the basis of any emancipatory movement, particularly a postcapitalist one; not the negative freedoms for further employment or greater consumer choice. It is necessary therefore to “reject the centrality of work” in ordinary people’s lives.[15] Likewise, humanity itself must be freed from the cultural and social definitions of the humanist mould, as “[i]t is only through undergoing the process of revision and construction that humanity can come to know itself. This means revising the human both theoretically and practically, engaging in new modes of being and new forms of sociality as practical ramifications of making ‘the human’ explicit.” (pp82-83)

Orbistertius

Building FuturesInventing the Future

Finally, we will close with a few quick comments to try and clarify some other important points raised in the responses. Sophie and David critique our emphasis on disappointment as a productive affect, and what they see as our rejection of the power of anger. We want to be clear that we absolutely see a role for anger in leftist politics. When Joe laments that we do “not profess an equal love for the present” and warns that “love of the future sits dangerously close to hatred of the present”, we plead guilty. We find the present state of the world intolerable. Our own political stances are mobilised by anger about atrocities small and large that we see every day: anger at friends being beaten by police truncheons, anger at the epithets thrown at the homeless, anger at watching yet another black life snuffed out by the state, anger at the online and offline viciousness visited upon sexual minorities, anger at the mental health issues we see so many friends struggle with, anger at the casual fascism of crossing a border legally, and anger at the outright brutalities forced upon those who cross illegally. Anger has always been and always will be an important resource for those marginalised by society. The anger about abusers and the vitriol tossed at sexists, transphobes, and racists is entirely warranted. And Sophie and David are right when they say we don’t outline the parameters of this argument clearly enough. So to be clear: anger has always had and will continue to have an important affective role in leftist politics. We believe we have to do a lot more work to sort out precisely what we think about social media, along with the ethics and politics that might accompany it. As a society, we are still learning how to use these new tools and develop informal codes of behaviour. But it is clear that social media has been of immense benefit to marginalised communities in finding respect, support, strength, and a voice. We in no way want to dismiss this.

We would also add one smaller clarification to their piece. Sophie and David write “S&W display their ‘only after the revolution’ tendencies here, stating that ‘[p]luri-versalism…relies upon the elimination of capitalism and is dependent upon a counter-hegemonic postcapitalist project as its presupposed condition of existence’”. This is not our argument however, but that of Walter Mignolo (The Darker Side of Modernity, 275). He – we think rightly – recognises that in a world of capital, any vision of many worlds will only be many worlds under capitalism. Any effort to build a pluri-versalist order must therefore simultaneously be one which is anti-capitalist. Not a stagist argument about the priority of Marxism over decolonialism, but rather a simple point that pluri-versalism is incompatible with capitalism.

~ Williams and Srnicek at  The Disorder of Things

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Badiou: Down with Death!

Alain Badiou

Let’s start from the notion of nihilism. What does it mean? Nihilism is a figuration, a diagnostic on the state of the world and of thought, which established itself in the nineteenth century (we could argue that in a certain sense the first nihilist philosophy was Schopenhauer’s) on the ruins of the old religious and class convictions – as if nihilism had come along to name the void in which the collective symbolisation found itself.

So we could say that nihilism is the negative subjectivation of finitude; it is fundamentally the organised or anarchic (either is possible) consciousness that because we die, nothing is important. The most classic figure of nihilism is the statement that everything is devalued, de-symbolised and untenable in the face of death. It is an equalisation of the totality of everything that could be valued, faced with the radical ontological finitude that death represents. This question of the relation between nihilism and values is, as you know, a central question in Nietzsche’s philosophy, which takes up this theme of nihilism in order to make a very important diagnostic and critical use of it.

In reality, the statement ‘because we die, nothing is important’ can remain a theological one. Indeed, we could say ‘Nothing is important, except God, except eternal salvation, except the other life…’; and we would then be embarking on something that is not nihilism, but the vocation for martyrdom or even placing hope in death itself, given that death is the only door to the infinite, and thus the only door to the value that matters, the supreme value. So we ought to say that full, complete nihilism is the nihilism that not only considers death proof of the inevitable devaluation of differences, but which completes this judgement with the death of God himself. So we can speak of complete nihilism only when the death of man is paired with the death of God. It was evidently in this sense that Dostoyevsky made one of his characters say that ‘if God is dead, then everything is permitted’. This is a nihilist statement in the sense that if God is dead, then nothing allows us to claim an inequality among different values. Judgement is itself of no interest, now that death is constituted doubly, both by the empirical death of men and the historical death of the gods.

In reality, this nihilism probably organises a complicated historical disposition – one that is still unfinished even today – which necessarily constructs what I will call a false contradiction, a contradiction that represents the two possible subjective variants of established nihilism.

The first position is a sceptical, atheist nihilism, which is in fact the most widespread ideology bearing it in the contemporary world. ‘Yes, it’s good to doubt…’ – and this is an absolutely fallacious interpretation of Descartes, when we know that what interested him was to prove the existence of God and to remain in doubt for the least length of time possible. It has become a sort of inheritance, with a long history – including in France – and one that results in the view that, fundamentally, the lightly sceptical reign of reasonable opinions combined with a smiling atheism is an acceptable subjective state, even if it does not seem very vigorous or exciting. It is a nihilist configuration, but it is what we might call a ‘non-tragic’ nihilism – the established, peaceable nihilism. The other position, on the contrary, is the frenzied desire for the resurrection of God – after all, the gods make quite a habit of reviving; they have always shown that their greatness is to mount a challenge to death itself.

This is absolutely what we have before us today, including at the level of average opinion: on the one hand, the will to preserve something of sceptical nihilism, of smiling atheism and the way of life that corresponds to it, and then, on the other hand, an attempt at the impossible resurrection of the dead God. This contradiction is, I think, a false contradiction, a contradiction that organises nihilism itself as a primordial renunciation of judgement and in particular as a renouncement of the category of truth. This contradiction – as is always the case with the great contradictions – today has a tragic and a comic form (though it is sometimes a sinister comedy). The tragic form is the extraordinary violent clash – which is always over oil fields (it is an oil-nihilism) – between sophisticated barbarism and what we might call archaic barbarism, killing either with the electronic drone or the butcher’s cleaver. In this latter case you are forced to invest something of your own person, whereas with the drone you can stay in your armchair and command the murder 3,000 kilometres away, before telling the President who signed the murder-order how it went. It is the tragic form because it is, all the same, haunted by death, murder, and occupation; and it is all the more tragic because it is not possible to see any way out of it, to see how it would be possible to give meaning to any kind of way out of this clash, precisely because it is a clash between two positions that are each in a certain sense untenable.

As for its comic form, we see this in the fact that newspapers can devote front-page headlines to the length of schoolgirls’ skirts, as if this were the news of the day. This will go down in history as ‘the skirt wars’… It is not wholly the same as the other nihilism, but in reality it expresses the same contradiction, because sceptical and nihilist atheism is also a whole universe of representations of femininity, of the relation to femininity, etc – and the impossibility of resurrecting the dead God also bears on this point. So this quarrel is the comic form of war.

We could ask what the two sides of this contradiction have in common. What they have in common is, ultimately, finitude. This is clear in the sceptical and atheist form of nihilism, for which it isn’t judgement that matters, but the free play of opinions. As for the figure of the impossible resurrection of the dead God, we know well enough that you can only get to God by manifesting and martyrising your finitude; so this is always a matter of the humiliation of finitude in front of the greatness of the infinite, which transcends and is external to it.

So in both cases it is the power of finitude that is convoked as the ground or territory of the opposition; and it is convoked in its quadruple operating form: that is, of identity, repetition, necessity and God himself. These four terms are, indeed, present at the heart of the contradiction that I am talking about.

Identity, because it is evidently an identitarian war. A ‘war of civilisations’, a war of religions, a war between the West and what is not the West, a war between democracy and tyranny: it has countless names, but it does indeed manifest itself as an identitarian war. Repetition, because in a certain sense it is a scene that has already been rehearsed, particularly in the representation of a conflict between the West and the Orient. Here we can mobilise the crusades, or, in the inverse sense, the expansion of the Muslim religion under the Ottoman Empire, or again in the other sense, colonialism and the Christians imposing their authority over Muslim peoples – in either case, it is a historically constituted scene being repeated. Necessity, because there is the necessity to deploy modernity conceived as the irreducible enemy of tradition. This is the question of symbolisation, of value, which is posed as the need for modernity to be able to develop without the hindrances, the reticence and the objections of tradition. So ultimately we can clearly see that God is the dividing line between, on the one hand, scepticism – which includes the necessity or authorisation of blasphemy – and, on the other hand, the attempt to resuscitate the dead God, which instead speaks to respect for the contents of the faith.

The common term in this conflict is the exacerbation of the power of finitude. What I want to note here is that identity, repetition, necessity and God are in fact concentrated in the theme of death. The thought of finitude is essentially a deadly and mortifying [mortifère et mortifiant] one. Death is the implicit or explicit recapitulation of the four terms.

Firstly, identity. In the logic of finitude, we only know who someone is when he is dead. Death is the seal that allows us to say what someone is – otherwise you still do not know what he is capable of. This is a theme that you will find in Greek tragedy. It is death that comes to seal the destiny of individuals’ identities but also of peoples’ identities: we know of the eighteenth-century fascination for the fall of the Roman empire, which was the point where it was possible to grasp and to consider what the identity of the Roman empire had truly been, in its own being. There is a rather terrifying phrase of Sartre’s on this point, that ‘to be dead is to be prey to the living’. Death is effectively the moment when you can no longer argue back or plead your cause against the verdict that the living choose to pass on you.

Repetition. Death is what makes every individual substitutable for any other. ‘Death is the great equaliser’ – a theme that we find extending everywhere across all religions. At the moment of death you stop being a king or a toiler; you will die, and faced with this terrifying threat of death and the last Judgement, anyone will be substitutable for any other. Death is the means by which humanity indefinitely repeats its constitutive finitude. That’s the meaning of the meditation pursued inEcclesiastes: ‘Nothing new under the sun’. That is, that everything is heading toward death, without death itself changing anything. [Which then brings us to] the magnificent metaphor ‘All the streams flow into the sea, and the sea is never full’. This community-in-death is also an annihilation of time, absolutely cancelling out time’s creative capacity: ‘What are a hundred or a thousand years, when they can be wiped out in an instant?’ (Bossuet).

Necessity. Death is the only thing that we are certain of. Everything else is aleatory and variable – ultimately, the pure necessity of human life is crystallised in death. Malraux has Stalin saying (and it’s been questioned that he did), doubtless on a day when he was feeling melancholic, that ‘Ultimately, it’s death that wins’… even if you are a Stalin. This is Stalinist nihilism.

And then God, evidently. God has always been connected to death. God is the promise of immortality, indeed, immortality in itself. God is the name of non-death.

You see that death is the motif that recapitulates the instances of finitude, also because it is convoked as the ultimate argument every time that we suppose, or invoke, the possibility of humanity’s immanent, effective access to some truth of an infinite power – we always say ‘in the last analysis, man is a mortal animal’. From this point of view, I always admired the canonical example you learn in school of what a logical argument is: ‘All men are mortal, and Socrates is a man, so Socrates is mortal’. Connected together in this example is a triple relation between (1) necessity – that is, syllogism, as the logical form of necessity, (2) the pretention to wisdom or greatness as embodied in Socrates, and (3) the knot between the two, death. This pedagogical syllogism is a toxic vehicle of finitude. That it is why it is given to everyone as a principle of logical wisdom.

Now it would be interesting to ask what the absolute modern form of that is. I think that it’s not at all a matter of insisting on the value of death, giving it an important place, but rather a case of covering up its finitude. That means calmly setting this finitude at a distance, relegating it to lost corners, if possible, with the idea that, in any case, we already live a long time… Fundamentally, the idea is that death can ultimately be covered up by a carpet of commodities. Consumerist mobility, the possibility of humanity always having another go within its reach, the serial ‘another’ of the commodity (another object, another journey…) is in reality what covers up the categories of death, at the same time as being the same as it. If we think about it, commodity consumerism is also, ultimately, the repetition, the identity of objects etc. So it is death in its consumable form. I always have this feeling that when we buy an object, no matter what it is, particularly the most useless objects – that is, the most amusing ones – it is like in the Middle Ages when people used to buy indulgences. It is buying a little guarantee against the vileness of death, a little slice of anti-death fetish. The image I have of that in my mind is that after having little by little been covered up by these commodities, and then finally disappearing behind them, we are dead: and that is where the true reality, the truly immortal reality, triumphs – the immortality of the market. That is the great comfort – life is covered up by little parcels of indulgences, such that this covering ends up displacing death simply because it is identical to death.

In reality, I think that the great element of modernity is to have generalised slow death, that is, the avoidance – as much as possible – of catastrophic death. That is why our societies find it very hard to deal with catastrophes. There must not be catastrophes: this is pathological. Tragic, unexpected death is unacceptable. Suddenly, death has arrived – but what is it doing here? What is the government doing? The plane to Thailand is meant for relaxation, not for smashing into the ground and killing you. We are forced to feel this as a terrible drama. Why? Ultimately we have much less chance of being killed in the plane than walking down the steps; this is not at the level of general statistics, but because it is a death out in the open, a death that does not fit into the law of modern death, which means dying very slowly, and, if possible, almost without noticing.

The thesis underlying all this, it must be said, is that death is the constitutive principle of humanity as such. The dereliction of man as ‘the being for which there is death’ – the problem being to deal with the extreme anguish that this conviction provokes. The contemporary philosopher who thought this through most deeply was Heidegger. Indeed, he said that from the point of view of man’s immanent end, he is ultimately ‘a being toward death’, and he mounted a fundamentally important meditation on finitude on this basis. I’ll read you an extract from Being and Time [all quotes used here are from Joan Stambaugh’s English translation]:

Ending does not necessarily mean fulfilling oneself. It thus becomes more urgent to ask in what sense, if any, death must be grasped as the ending of Da-sein […] Initially ending means stopping, and it means this in senses that are ontologically different. The rain stops. It is no longer objectively present. The road stops. This ending does not cause the road to disappear, but this stopping rather determines the road as this objectively present one.

Here Heidegger is distinguishing – and here I’ll return to the terms I used before, between the finite as passive stopping and the finite as an operation. The rain stops: it has disappeared, it has stopped passively. Whereas if the road stops, it is because it is its own end, it has led us somewhere which is its end, an end that constitutes the road as a direction, a track, leading from one point to another. In this case, the end closes off the possibility of operation.

Hence ending as stopping can mean either to change into the absence of objective presence or, however, to be objectively present only when the end comes. The latter kind of ending can again be determinative for an unfinished thing objectively present, as a road under construction breaks off, or it may rather constitute the “finishedness” of something objectively present – the painting is finished with the last stroke of the brush.

So here we immediately have the metaphor of work, in the fact that the last stroke of the brush is the thing that brings us to its finished glory, whereas if the road stops because it hasn’t been built yet, then that is a transitory and passive stopping.

Even ending in the sense of disappearing can still be modified according to the kind of being of the being. The rain is at an end, that is, disappeared. The bread is at an end, that is, used up, no longer available as something at hand.

To put it another way, the bread is used up, but it has fulfilled the role it was made for.

None of these modes of ending are able to characterize death appropriately as the end of Da-sein. If dying were understood as being-at-an-end in the sense of an ending of the kind discussed, Da-sein would be posited as something objectively present or at hand. In death, Da-sein is neither fulfilled nor does it simply disappear; it has not become finished or completely available as something at hand.

To put it another way: in death, Dasein is not like the road, the rain, the table or the bread we ate.

Rather, just as Da-sein constantly already is its not-yet as long as it is, it also alreadyis its end. The ending that we have in view when we speak of death does not signify a being-at-an-end of Da-sein, but rather a being toward the end of this being. Death is a way to be that Da-sein takes over as soon as it is. “As soon as a human being is born, he is old enough to die right away”.

Heidegger’s description of death essentially consists of saying that, in man’s case, finitude is radically immanent. Death is not something external, indicating a passive finitude or a finitude achieved by human life: rather, human life is commanded or oriented toward death, from within; Dasein is ‘toward death’ from the beginning. To put that another way, the thing proper to man is that the question of death, of finitude, is internal to his existence and to his definition, and not the result of fulfilment or stopping, which are but empirical appearances. For human life, the end is at the beginning. It is an ineluctable component of the prospect of life in itself.

I think that here we have got to the densest and most complete form of an organic relation between human existence and finitude. In my view this is the most radical thesis concerning the assumption of finitude, because it is a thesis that makes finitude immanent in an absolute way. Ultimately it makes death play the same role that the absolute plays in Hegel’s thinking (as he ultimately concluded that if we manage to attain the absolute, that is because the absolute is with us from the beginning). If we take Heidegger’s texts seriously, they tell us that death is also the absolute of human life, that is, at the same time its beginning, its origin and its fate.

I want to defend another thesis concerning death, a thesis that, conversely, upholds the absolute exteriority of death – a thesis that makes death radically non-immanent. If you want the complete details, see Logiques des mondes, Book III, Section 4, a chapter entitled ‘L’existence et la mort’, where you will find the whole context that I can only give a brief sketch of here.

The idea I want to defend – and it’s a simple one, truth be told – is that death is something that happens to you; it is not the immanent unfolding of some linear programme. Even if we say that human life cannot go beyond a hundred and twenty years, for biological, genetic etc. reasons, death as death is always something that happens to you. One great thinker on death is La Palice. A truth we get from La Palice is that ‘a quarter an hour before his death, he was still alive’. That isn’t at all absurd or naïve. It means that ‘a quarter an hour before death’ he wasn’t what Heidegger sees as ‘a quarter hour before death’ – he wasn’t ‘a-being-toward-death’ ever since his birth. ‘A quarter of an hour before his death’ he was alive, and death happens to him. And I would maintain that death always comes from the outside. Spinoza said something excellent on that score: ‘Nothing can be destroyed except by an external cause’. Yes, I’ll take that. Spinoza gives a long proof of that, but I won’t give it too. This means that death is in a position of radical exteriority: we would not even say that a human reality, a Dasein, is mortal. Because ‘mortal’ means to say that it contains the virtuality of death in an immanent fashion. In truth, all that is is generically immortal, and then death intervenes.

I would define death as a mutation of existential status in a given world, which I will try to give you a general schema of. We are all in a world, Heidegger is right on that, we are somewhere, we are localised and our very being contains and retains this localisation. The metaphysical approach I propose is the following: the register of being [l’être] on the one hand, and the register of existence on the other, have to be distinguished. Being belongs to pure multiplicity, under one form or another, whereas existence is always existence in a place. So it is necessary to distinguish, as Heidegger masterfully did, between being and being-there [Da-sein]. Thought on being is one thing (as you know, I maintain that it fuses with the analysis of multiplicities, or mathematics), and thought on existence is another.

Let’s suppose that X and Y exist in the world. They have a being of their own, independent of the fact that they are in this world. But what does ‘existing in a world’ mean for them? It means: being in a state of being differentiated from all the others who are in the same world. The singularity of existence is the possible systemic differentiation between an element of the world and an element of the same world. So somewhere there has to be the possibility of evaluating the difference between the two. So we would say that ‘existing in a world’ is to be taken in a practically infinite web of more or less strong differences with everything that is in the world in question: that’s what constitutes the singularity of our belonging to the world.

We will use the term D(x,y) to denote the difference between X and Y, a relation whose value ‘measures’ the extent to which X and Y are different. The difference D(x,y) has a value that will situate itself between a minimum (µ) and a maximum (M). If it equals M, it is because X and Y are very different, they are as different as could be; if it equals µ, it is because they are almost the same, as similar as they could be. A world, in its basic machinery, is a game of differentiations proper to this determinate world, oscillating between a minimum and a maximum.

So on that basis we can say that for some person, ‘existing in the world’ is the measure of difference between herself and herself. This would be written E(x) = D(x,x). That is a very simple and ordinary idea. Existence is always something qualitative, it is an intensity: there are moments when you feel ‘alienated’, that is, very differentiated from yourself; so D(x,x) has a maximal value. And there are other moments where you feel yourself fully exist, where your existence is intense, you feel close to your true identity; so D(x,x) has a minimal value. Between the two it fluctuates via intermediate values, and X and Y are not absolutely different nor absolutely identical, but ‘averagely’ different.

We can also express it by saying that ‘the existence of a multiple something, relative to a world, is the degree to which in this world the multiple appears identical to itself’ (Logiques des mondes p. 285). This time, this is expressed in the value of the function ‘identity to oneself’ (annotated Id(x.x)): if Id(x,x) has the maximum value (M), that is because this multiple exists absolutely in the world under consideration; and if Id(x,x) has the minimal value (µ) that is because its existence in this world has an extremely weak intensity.

As for death, it is, formally, the sudden, contingent passage – imposed from the outside – from the situation Id(x,x) = p [p being some non-minimal value] to the situation Id(x,x) = µ. That’s why we can always say ‘that is what death is’, when we see death and we absolutely know that is what it is. We know that it’s death because x is still there, but the intensity of his existence is almost entirely eliminated. The fable of the immortal soul does not rely on the distinction between mind and body, but it is rooted within it, that is, in the distinction between being and existence. The idea of immortality is that in this world – the world that prescribed the intensity of an existence proper to this world – x is dead, but that does not mean that he is dead in every world.

Ahmed chose this moment to signal to ‘Mr. Badiou’ that he had to leave the stage instantly. The meditation he had been elaborating, alone on the stage, concluded with the slogan: ‘Down with death!’

See more from Badiou here.

What is the University today? (2015)

Apparently the situation of Universities is much worse than we thought it was, and it’s obviously getting worse by the minute to say the least indeed…

Foucault News

Heaney, Conor, ‘What is the University today?’, Journal for Critical Education Policy Studies, 13 (2), 2015, 287-314

Full PDF here and here

Abstract
What is the University today? In this paper, a Foucault and Deleuzo-Guattarian inspired approach is taken. I argue that the University is, today, a site of ‘neoliberal governmentality’, which governs students and academics as sites of human capital. That is, students and academics are governed to self-govern themselves as sites of human capital. This transformation in how students and academics are governed will be identified as a recent trend through the examination of relevant UK-government reports on higher education. Furthermore, it will be identified as a trend that ‘decodes’ knowledge – in the specific sense developed by Deleuze and Guattari – which renders academic knowledge (the knowledge the student ‘consumes’ and the knowledge the academic ‘produces’) meaningless.

Keywords:
Foucault, University, Deleuze and Guattari, neoliberal governmentality, knowledge

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The one percent discovers transhumanism: Davos 2016

“In a related session entitled “A World Without Work” the panelists were largely in agreement that the adoption of AI would further push the labor force in the direction of bifurcation and would thus tend towards absence of public policy pushing in a contrary direction, to result in increasing inequality.

In the near future AI seems poised to take over middle income jobs- anything that deals with the routine processing of information. Where AI will struggle making inroads is in low skilled, low paying jobs that require a high level of mobility- jobs like cleaners and nurses. Given how reliant Western countries have become on immigrant labor for these tasks we might be looking at the re- emergence of an openly racist politics as a white middle class finds itself crushed between cheap immigrant labor and super efficient robots. According to those on the panel, AI will also continue to struggle with highly creative and entrepreneurial tasks.”

Utopia or Dystopia

Land of OZ

The World Economic Forum in Davos Switzerland just wrapped up its annual gathering. It isn’t hard to make fun of this yearly coming together of the global economic and cultural elites who rule the world, or at least think they do. A comment by one of the journalists covering the event summed up how even those who really do in some sense have the fate of the world in their hands are as blinded by glitz as the rest of us: rather than want to discuss policy the question he had most been asked was if he had seen Kevin Spacey or Bono. Nevertheless, 2016’s WEF might go down in history as one of the most important, for it was the year when the world’s rich and powerful acknowledged that we had entered an age of transhumanist revolution.

The theme of this year’s WEF was what Klaus Schwab calls The…

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Revolution of the Present (Full Film)

“Humanity seems to be stuck in the perpetual now that is our networked world. More countries are witnessing people taking to the streets in search of answers. Revolution of the Present, the film, features interviews with thought leaders designed to give meaning to our present and precarious condition. This historic journey allows us to us re-think our presumptions and narratives about the individual and society, the local and global, our politics and technology. This documentary analyzes why the opportunity to augment the scope of human action has become so atomized and diminished. Revolution of the Present is an invitation to join the conversation and help contribute to our collective understanding.

As Saskia Sassen, the renowned sociologist, states at the outset of the film, ‘we live in a time of unsettlement, so much so that we are even questioning the notion of the global, which is healthy.’ One could say that our film raises more questions than it answers, but this is our goal. Asking the right questions and going back to beginnings may be the very thing we need to do to understand the present, and to move forward from it with a healthy skepticism.

Revolution of the Present is structured as an engaging dinner conversation, there is no narrator telling you what to think, it is not a film of fear of the end time or accusation, it is an invitation to sit at the table and join an in depth conversation about our diverse and plural world.”

Copyright 2016, Multiplicities, LLC

Karl Marx: Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844

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The Power of Money

[40] If man’s feelings, passions, etc., are not merely anthropological phenomena in the (narrower) sense, but trulyontological [41] affirmations of being (of nature), and if they are only really affirmed because their object exists for them as a sensual object, then it is clear that:

1. They have by no means merely one mode of affirmation, but rather that the distinct character of their existence, of their life, is constituted by the distinct mode of their affirmation. In what manner the object exists for them, is the characteristic mode of their gratification.

2. Wherever the sensuous affirmation is the direct annulment of the object in its independent form (as in eating, drinking, working up of the object, etc.), this is the affirmation of the object.

3. Insofar as man, and hence also his feeling, etc., ishuman, the affirmation of the object by another is likewise his own gratification.

4. Only through developed industry – i.e., through the medium of private property – does the ontological essence of human passion come into being, in its totality as well as in its humanity; the science of man is therefore itself a product of man’s own practical activity.

5. The meaning of private property – apart from its estrangement – is the existence of essential objectsfor man, both as objects of enjoyment and as objects of activity.

By possessing the property of buying everything, by possessing the property of appropriating all objects, money is thus the object of eminent possession. The universality of itsproperty is the omnipotence of its being. It is therefore regarded as an omnipotent being. Money is the procurerbetween man’s need and the object, between his life and his means of life. But that which mediates my life for me, alsomediates the existence of other people for me. For me it is theother person.

“What, man! confound it, hands and feet
And head and backside, all are yours!
And what we take while life is sweet,
Is that to be declared not ours?

“Six stallions, say, I can afford,
Is not their strength my property?
I tear along, a sporting lord,
As if their legs belonged to me.”

Goethe: Faust (Mephistopheles)

Shakespeare in Timon of Athens:

“Gold? Yellow, glittering, precious gold?
No, Gods, I am no idle votarist! …
Thus much of this will make black white, foul fair,
Wrong right, base noble, old young, coward valiant.
… Why, this
Will lug your priests and servants from your sides,
Pluck stout men’s pillows from below their heads:
This yellow slave
Will knit and break religions, bless the accursed;
Make the hoar leprosy adored, place thieves
And give them title, knee and approbation
With senators on the bench: This is it
That makes the wappen’d widow wed again;
She, whom the spital-house and ulcerous sores
Would cast the gorge at, this embalms and spices
To the April day again. Come, damned earth,
Thou common whore of mankind, that put’st odds
Among the rout of nations.”

And also later:

“O thou sweet king-killer, and dear divorce
‘Twixt natural son and sire! thou bright defiler
Of Hymen’s purest bed! thou valiant Mars!
Thou ever young, fresh, loved and delicate wooer
Whose blush doth thaw the consecrated snow
That lies on Dian’s lap! Thou visible God!
That solder’st close impossibilities,
And makest them kiss! That speak’st with every tongue,
||XLII| To every purpose! O thou touch of hearts!
Think, thy slave man rebels, and by thy virtue
Set them into confounding odds, that beasts
May have the world in empire!”

Shakespeare excellently depicts the real nature of money.To understand him, let us begin, first of all, by expounding the passage from Goethe.

That which is for me through the medium of money – that for which I can pay (i.e., which money can buy) – that am I myself, the possessor of the money. The extent of the power of money is the extent of my power. Money’s properties are my – the possessor’s – properties and essential powers. Thus, what Iam and am capable of is by no means determined by my individuality. I am ugly, but I can buy for myself the most beautiful of women. Therefore I am not ugly, for the effect ofugliness – its deterrent power – is nullified by money. I, according to my individual characteristics, am lame, but money furnishes me with twenty-four feet. Therefore I am not lame. I am bad, dishonest, unscrupulous, stupid; but money is honoured, and hence its possessor. Money is the supreme good, therefore its possessor is good. Money, besides, saves me the trouble of being dishonest: I am therefore presumed honest. I am brainless, but money is the real brain of all things and how then should its possessor be brainless? Besides, he can buy clever people for himself, and is he who has [In the manuscript: ‘is’. – Ed.] power over the clever not more clever than the clever? Do not I, who thanks to money am capable ofall that the human heart longs for, possess all human capacities? Does not my money, therefore, transform all my incapacities into their contrary?

If money is the bond binding me to human life, binding society to me, connecting me with nature and man, is not money the bond of all bonds? Can it not dissolve and bind all ties? Is it not, therefore, also the universal agent of separation? It is the coin that really separates as well as the real binding agent – the […] [One word in the manuscript cannot be deciphered. – Ed.] chemical power of society.

Shakespeare stresses especially two properties of money:

1. It is the visible divinity – the transformation of all human and natural properties into their contraries, the universal confounding and distorting of things: impossibilities are soldered together by it.

2. It is the common whore, the common procurer of people and nations.

The distorting and confounding of all human and natural qualities, the fraternisation of impossibilities – the divinepower of money – lies in its character as men’s estranged, alienating and self-disposing species-nature. Money is the alienated ability of mankind.

That which I am unable to do as a man, and of which therefore all my individual essential powers are incapable, I am able to do by means of money. Money thus turns each of these powers into something which in itself it is not – turns it, that is, into its contrary.

If I long for a particular dish or want to take the mail-coach because I am not strong enough to go by foot, money fetches me the dish and the mail-coach: that is, it converts my wishes from something in the realm of imagination, translates them from their meditated, imagined or desired existence into theirsensuous, actual existence – from imagination to life, from imagined being into real being. In effecting this mediation, [money] is the truly creative power.

No doubt the demand also exists for him who has no money, but his demand is a mere thing of the imagination without effect or existence for me, for a third party, for the [others],||XLIII| and which therefore remains even for meunreal and objectless. The difference between effective demand based on money and ineffective demand based on my need, my passion, my wish, etc., is the difference between being andthinking, between that which exists within me merely as an idea and the idea which exists as a real object outside of me.

If I have no money for travel, I have no need – that is, no real and realisable need – to travel. If I have the vocation for study but no money for it, I have no vocation for study – that is, noeffective, no true vocation. On the other hand, if I have reallyno vocation for study but have the will and the money for it, I have an effective vocation for it. Money as the external, universal medium and faculty (not springing from man as man or from human society as society) for turning an image into reality and reality into a mere image, transforms the real essential powers of man and nature into what are merely abstract notions and therefore imperfections and tormenting chimeras, just as it transforms real imperfections and chimeras – essential powers which are really impotent, which exist only in the imagination of the individual – into real powers and faculties. In the light of this characteristic alone, money is thus the general distorting of individualities which turns them into their opposite and confers contradictory attributes upon their attributes.

Money, then, appears as this distorting power both against the individual and against the bonds of society, etc., which claim to be entities in themselves. It transforms fidelity into infidelity, love into hate, hate into love, virtue into vice, vice into virtue, servant into master, master into servant, idiocy into intelligence, and intelligence into idiocy.

Since money, as the existing and active concept of value, confounds and confuses all things, it is the general confoundingand confusing of all things – the world upside-down – the confounding and confusing of all natural and human qualities.

He who can buy bravery is brave, though he be a coward. As money is not exchanged for any one specific quality, for any one specific thing, or for any particular human essential power, but for the entire objective world of man and nature, from the standpoint of its possessor it therefore serves to exchange every quality for every other, even contradictory, quality and object: it is the fraternisation of impossibilities. It makes contradictions embrace.

Assume man to be man and his relationship to the world to be a human one: then you can exchange love only for love, trust for trust, etc. If you want to enjoy art, you must be an artistically cultivated person; if you want to exercise influence over other people, you must be a person with a stimulating and encouraging effect on other people. Every one of your relations to man and to nature must be a specific expression,corresponding to the object of your will, of your real individuallife. If you love without evoking love in return – that is, if your loving as loving does not produce reciprocal love; if through aliving expression of yourself as a loving person you do not make yourself a beloved one, then your love is impotent – a misfortune.|XLIII||


Deleuze Speaks to Stivale

Comparative Literature

As we all know, the unwanted attentions of Jehovah Witnesses can be deflected simply by invoking the “Old Religion”. But what if you were to be doorstepped by someone hawking “analytical tools for the humanities and social sciences”? Would you know what to do?

[…] In retrospect, I realize now the extent to which I misunderstood completely Deleuze’s interest in my activities. Having viewed his interview with Claire Parnet in the Abécédaire, I now better comprehend how importunate my communications were, especially in light of statements he makes about his ill health and vieillesse (old age). Stating how much he enjoys having been “let go” (laché) and being no longer burdened by society in his retirement, Deleuze admits that what is really bothersome is when something catches hold of him again, for example, when someone who thinks Deleuze still belongs to society asks him for an interview. When that happens, Deleuze says he feels like asking if the person is feeling OK (“ca va pas, la tête?”), and hasn’t anyone told the person that Deleuze is old and society has let go of him? (ABC 1996, “M comme Maladie” [I as in Illness]).

What follows is an account of my discussion with Deleuze that I drafted immediately afterward, in French, in order to share it with friends and colleagues in France that I would meet there. I’ve revised it only slightly, but include parenthetically the text of certain of the prepared questions to which he graciously responded while I was there. I have one reservation about this account: because Deleuze was expressly reluctant to engage in an oral interview, I have been likewise reluctant to disseminate it widely. However, I think some of his thoughts, rendered frankly and spontaneously, need to be aired, so I take upon myself the responsibility (or blame) for sharing them now. In fact, many of his comments to me have now become public knowledge through the broadcast and commercial sale of Deleuze’s Abécédaire.

COMMENTS ON A MEETING

After I explained to Deleuze where I came from and the origins of the SubStance issue entitled “Gilles Deleuze,” we began talking about the American philosophical tradition and American thought, and we discussed the distinction between analytic philosophers in America and so-called continental philosophers. I explained to him that the “continentaux” were beginning to makes some inroads in the United States, and he stated that the analytical philosophers were responsible for killing off what he considered to be “la pensée américaine valable” (valid American thought), for example, by writers like Kerouac, e. e. cummings, Henry James, and even philosophers like Whitehead and others. He was surprised by my impression that, in the United States, scientific questions and research were dominant in relation to the humanities, by my remark that while philosophy was a discipline within the humanities, analytic philosophers were able to align themselves with scientists to the extent that both groups reached their “incontestable conclusions” through proof and reasoning. I described some U.S. discussion groups in which no one ever said anything that called into question the bases of the scientific method, instead practicing a hermetic approach to consider scientific questions. Deleuze did not understand how things could work that way, but he had encountered similar tendencies in some scientific writing in France. But I answered that in both scientific and literary writing in France, there was a great difference from the United States, since in France they knew how to write and to express themselves well. He agreed that one could not separate ideas from style, that if ideas were present there would also be style.

In any event, we spoke considerably about the American situation, and Deleuze spoke about it, telling me that we are in a difficult period, that there are good and bad periods: for example, at the time of the French liberation in 1944, or in 1968, there were things happening (des choses qui bougeaient), and also things that were being invented, during which people discovered new and interesting things. But now it was hollow, both in America and in France. I answered that the establishment of the International College of Philosophy, by the Socialist government, seemed positive, and he said, Yes, it’s a government initiative, but the government was not able to change tendencies that deeply propel societies. So, indeed, the College of Philosophy was interesting, he said, but constituted very little in relation to what was really occurring in France. I tried to press the question regarding the College, and he said that Félix would certainly have something to say about it. He said that Félix was one of the men he loved the most in the world, that he was enormously talkative, with opinions on everything, and that was completely opposite to Deleuze.

We touched on another topic, the material question of his analysis in L’image-movement (1983; Cinema 1: The Movement-Image), in which there are a considerable number of references to a wide array of films. So I wanted to know what sort of material support he had, how he worked, with a VCR or a movieola? In response, he laughed aloud, saying, “Not at all.” I said, “So it came from the fonds deleuze [the Deleuze archives], what he had in his head? He said Yes, from all that he could recall. But he continued, saying that one did not need to see the films again if one possessed an idea. That is what’s essential: with a small idea that one could communicate, no material support was needed; one simply needs to reflect, to present the small idea, thus to show how films, for example, are linked to this small idea. He said that, in the final analysis, he wasn’t interested in the cinema; the only thing that interested him was philosophy, and he only delivered his ideas to cinema in the light of philosophy. I said, “So why write two volumes on cinema?” He answered that he didn’t know why, that there was an idea that he had to communicate, but that there was very little depth in the first volume. The second volume, L’image-temps (1985; Cinema 2: The Time-Image), presented him with many more problems, requiring much more work. He really seemed to say that this work was not very important, that there was much more to be done, for example, philosophy. And work, that he conceptualized in an interesting way: when I told him I wanted to get my book on Vallès published, he said, Yes, that’s essential, to work; one shouldn’t have to be bothered with publication; that gets done all by itself, but it’s the work that counts! I was tempted, but did not say, that this view is easily expressed by him, a famous writer, but for those struggling to get published, it’s a little bit more difficult since one has to deal with both simultaneously.

There was another moment, toward the end of our discussion, which was gauged by the level of whiskey in my glass. When I’d swallowed the last drop, it was clear to me that he felt that the discussion was ending. So I said that I had written to him about the written questions that I was supposed to prepare, and asked if he was still willing to answer them. He then explained how much he held interviews in complete horror, and the only reason he had said yes to the written questions was in order not to have to say yes to the oral ones! Then, he said that if I really felt strongly about him answering these questions, he would do so, but could not promise me when. When he told me that I could send him the questions, I responded that I had them with me, so he said, “So show them, show them.” I said, “Wait; after what you’ve just said, I want us to agree to the following procedure before you look at them: if there is something in these questions that interests you, go ahead and answer it. After what you’ve just said, though, since questions are a priori uninteresting for you, there won’t be anything to answer! I hope, though, that there might be something interesting in them, but if something in them bothers you, just drop them.” He then began looking through them and said finally, “But these questions are serious.”

He then began to react to certain ones; for example, “In Le nouvel observateur, they have published that you intend to undertake an essay entitled ‘What Is Philosophy?’” He asked, They’ve published that in Le nouvel observateur? He said he didn’t know how they could have learned that since he’d only mentioned it to a few close friends. I said, Yes, and that’s what got printed, and he agreed, Yes, that’s what got printed, but indicated that he didn’t understand at all how. But later, he returned to this idea of what is philosophy: he spoke of a painting by Francis Bacon that he had in his apartment, and of the importance of true creation, of people who can express their ideas (people who have no ideas, he told me directly, you can read Vallès for twenty years, and if you don’t have your little idea, it’s a waste of time; but if you have your little idea, then you have to read Vallès completely, fully [à fond] and communicate this little idea); speaking of Bacon, he said that Bacon succeeds in creating this painting, but never manages to paint a little wave: Bacon creates a water spout, but not a little wave. And he, Deleuze, would like to succeed in creating a little wave (une petite vague), that is, an essay called “What Is Philosophy?”

Then, regarding a question about “postmodernism” (“What is the relationship between your theoretical projects and practices and those of other so-called post-modern [or even poststructuralist] works, for example, by Baudrillard, Lyotard, or Serres? Does the term ‘postmodern’ have a meaning, and if so what? If not, how might he conceive of the contemporary intellectual conjuncture?”), he laughed at the idea of “postmodernism”: he referred (somewhat inexplicably) to philosophers of the Chicago School, that this was just a way for them to amuse themselves by creating a “postmodernism,” nothing of real interest. Regarding the question on Baudrillard and another on Jean-Paul Aron, both of whom I cited (“How do you respond to Aron’s statement, in Les modernes, that thanks to Deleuze’s contribution, Anti-Oedipus does not cut its bridges with ‘legal culture,’ maintaining ‘literary civility, clannish complicity, fraternal smiles at Lyotard, Serres, Clavel, kindly gestures to Sartre, insistent homage to Marx, and especially writing a hymn to Lacan?”), he said that he noticed I was quoting cretins, real imbeciles, this Baudrillard, Aron. About Baudrillard, Deleuze admitted that he himself had so much difficulty expressing one idea in a book, even one that was long, and that the work of formulating clearly one small idea was very hard for him. So to see these people creating books in a quarter hour, without much thought, really irritated him, he found it absurd (aberrant), not serious, the kind of thing that really drove him to despair. As for Aron, about whom and whose book, Les modernes, he spoke at length, he said it wasn’t a nasty book, but was vulgar, not even a book, something written poorly and of little import.

As he leafed through the questions, he came back to Aron because of a question about Foucault (“Foucault is dead. What reflections does this disappearance evoke for you?”). He said that Foucault’s death was something terrible, not only because Foucault died, but because France lost a very important presence who caused imbeciles to hesitate to speak out, knowing that Foucault was there to respond. For example, Aron would never have written his book were Foucault still alive. Not that Foucault would have read it, not at all, but simply Aron would not have dared to write it. Deleuze maintained that Foucault did not function as “safeguard” (garde-fou), but rather as an “imbecile-guard” (garde-imbécile) and with the passing of Foucault, the imbeciles would be unleashed. He ended by saying that there really was no one now to replace Foucault, that there was a vacuum. And he himself, he said, was unable to do it.

He did not say much at all about Anti-Oedipus. I spoke to him briefly about our experience reading it together at the University of Illinois, about the trouble that some philosophers had with it. I mentioned how one Sartrean philosopher could well accept to read Lacan, but that from the first paragraph of Anti-Oedipus, he felt himself under attack, could not understand at all what was happening, and wanted to undermine our own activity, to makes us drop Anti-Oedipus for something else. He finally left the group after three meetings. Deleuze nodded that he understood completely; for him what they write is absolutely worthless, so he understood how what he wrote would be worthless for them as well, and that he expected nothing any different.

When I told Deleuze that I was working through A Thousand Plateaus and this work was what interested us the most, he laughed as if this were the funniest thing he had ever heard, that someone would continue delving into A Thousand Plateaus. In any case, he looked at these questions and told me that he would answer them during the summer vacation, and he added that, if he said yes, it was a sworn promise. I was very happy finally because he looked through these questions as if he really found them of interest. Surely he was being extremely polite, but he had no need to make such a formal commitment as he did. So we’ll see what happens next.

[…]

In any event, I did not consider the promise Deleuze made to answer my questions binding since he had provided more than his share of answers during our meeting. That same year, he published the second volume on cinema, L’image-temps; in 1986, he published Foucault. As ever, he had his own “petite idée” to pursue . . .

[Charles J. Stivale, The Two-Fold Thought of Deleuze and Guattari, pp. 228-234.]

http://blog.urbanomic.com/sphaleotas/archives/2003/12/the_correct_way.html

 Oligarchy Disguised as Democracy 

Herein is exposed the representation of the real as if it is not a representation but the real itself… In other words, a truth is expressed delineating the representation of the pseudo-real of capitalism disguised as the presentation of the real conditions of existence…

“Such a state of affairs was, in Michels’ view, not attributable to the people in those parties being evil or uncommitted to their cause, but was inherent in the very structure of the new ‘democratic’ political system. In a world of competitive elections, where radical, progressive movements had to overcome opposition from well-resourced establishment elites in order to win power, they would be forced to adopt an internal organization that was both efficient and hierarchical. In the interests of creating a party machine capable of delivering victory at the polls, power would need to be delegated to specific people within the party, and anyone who held power, even for a short time, could be able to consolidate their position and grow that power base. Marginal as that power might be in the beginning, it would grow, and in time the people’s movements would become bureaucratic top-down behemoths, mirroring the very aristocracy they sought to supplant.”

syndax vuzz

He who says organization, says oligarchy.

So wrote German sociologist Robert Michels during the formation of Europe’s big tent ‘people’s parties’ a century ago. According to Michels—a committed realist, as we shall see—even the most radical and progressive of these new parties would eventually succumb to what he termed ‘the iron law of oligarchy’.

Source: How We Can Overcome Oligarchy Disguised as Democracy | Alternet

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Post-capitalism, Accelerationism, communism and the march of the job-eating killer robots

Prometheus unbound to say the least indeed… Below is yet another sign that the capitalist academia actually blinds the intellect and paralyzes the will… The truth is out there for those who have eyes to see it and actualize their visions in accordance with the real conditions of existence in this time…

“The problem posed by the arguments of Srnicek and William, and Mason is to explain why, if they are so sure jobs are going away, jobs haven’t gone away yet? Why if evil capitalist robots are coming for our jobs, are these evil capitalist job-consuming robots taking so long to get here? It can’t take much of a technological leap to produce a robot that can make a hamburger for McDonald’s, can it? What is the hold up?”

“Communism may be free time and nothing else, but it really doesn’t matter to the capitalist if the wage slave experiences this free time as unemployment or as a leisurely day sipping pina coladas on the beach. I can’t think of a single capitalist who cares about how and under what conditions the worker experiences her “free time”. Thus, if it were profitable to replace the entire labor force with robots, no capitalist would hesitate for even one second to do this.”

“The prediction that jobs are going away have been made for decades; what has never been explained is why they never actually finally go away and why the number of workers employed constantly expands even as the need for labor declines.”

“According to Marx, the rate of profit did not fall as rapidly as most economist predicted because of six influences he calls counter-tendencies. Since jobs creation is a direct function of the profitability of capitalist production, these six counter-tendencies to the falling rate of profit are likely the reason jobs don’t go away despite every prediction over the last 100 years that they will.”

“Job-creation is always and everywhere motivated by profit.”

The Real Movement

Two speculative views of what comes after capitalism for those without enough imagination to picture themselves on a beach having group sex.

The first offer some discussion of the so-called Left accelerationist writers Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams. Left accelerationism is a sort of awkward nerdy, pimple-faced techno-fetishism that seeks to make Nick Land palatable to Sanders supporters.

The second discusses the even less credible argument, put forward by Channel 4 News in-house radical Paul Mason. Mason is … well, the Channel 4 News’ idea of a radical, if a radical worked for Channel 4 News. Of course no radical actually works for Channel 4 News, but if a radical did work for Channel 4 News, they would likely be a radical just like Paul Mason.

The starting point of these conceptions of life after the class-war, is the now ubiquitous prediction that soon capitalism will no longer…

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The Neurocognitive Revolution: Triumph or Undoing?

Hickman truly weighs in this time… Many so called academics locked up in their vicious circles, driving and driven by the axiomatics of militarist-capitalism, feeding and fed by the contemporary culture of death, have a lot to learn from him yet again… What is clearly depicted herein is nothing but the mechanism of the exploitation of mortality on a massive scale…

“Is there a silver lining in there somewhere? Hope? A second chance? Yes, for the very death drive that keeps us restlessly churning for the systems of death, is also the very force of creativity and inventiveness we need to get ourselves out of this mess if we would just act, take a stand, face the truth of things as they are not as we would like them to be. The Real is the great horror vacui of our age, the antagonistic calamity of that forced us into the crack of consciousness to begin with. The wound opened up by the poison of existence can only be healed by the instrument of that poison: a conscious decision. Decisions have repercussions, they need commitment and education, pain and memory, an ethical stance not of some external god-infested power but of the very real truth of our semantic depletion and knowledge of our limitations and ignorance, our finitude. Philosophers think we can move past such outmoded notions of limit and finitude when in deed and fact we have and will remain in the circle of consciousness unknowing of the very ground of real physical powers that intervene and create the very freedom and determinations of our being-in-the-world. Caught between external networks of knowledge and power, and internal drives of biological evolution we act as “vanishing mediators” (Zizek) between these intrinsic/extrinsic forces. It is only the courage of our acts, our decisions that sets us apart, not the impersonal and indifferent forces of the natural without and within us. It is the unnatural in us, the artificial that is both our glory and continuing sorrow; yet, it is the only apotropaic charm we have against being aborbed back into the Spinozoistic continuum of the Absolute energetic Real. We must forever desuture thought and being, allow this oscillation between the internal/external powers of the natural to play out in the gap of our subjectivity and subjectivation.”

alien ecologies

Donald Donald in his Origins of the Modern Mind: Three Stages in the Evolution of Culture and Cognition (1993) once argued the australopithecines were limited to concrete/episodic minds: bipedal creatures able to benefit from pair-bonding, cooperative hunting, etc., but essentially of a seize-the-day mentality: the immediacy of the moment. The first transition away from the instant, the present, and toward a more temporal system of knowledge acquisition and transmission was to a “mimetic” culture: the era of Homo erectus in which mankind absorbed and refashioned events to create rituals, crafts, rhythms, dance, and other prelinguistic traditions. This was followed by the evolution to mythic cultures: the result of the acquisition of speech and the invention of symbols. The third transition carried oral speech to reading, writing, and an extended external memory- store seen today in computer and advanced machine or artificial Intelligence and extrinsic data-memory technologies.

At the same time that our external systems…

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Hickman does Chasm

Time Spiral Press

… and still more attentively the MAL atSocial Ecologies. (Also here.)

Chasm2

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The Object Smasher; or, the Philosophy of Rubble

alien ecologies

“Literature is about turning the pre-verbal — if not pre-linguistic — objects into verbal objects with symbolic meanings attached to them. Literature constructs a world in which the objects gain new significance.”
…..– Cengiz Erdem on May 26, 2010

For though in nature nothing really exists besides individual bodies, performing pure individual acts according to a fixed law, yet in philosophy this very law, and the investigation, discovery, and explanation of it, is the foundation as well of knowledge as of operation. And it is this law with its clauses that I mean when I speak of forms, a name which I the rather adopt because it has grown into use and become familiar.”
……– Francis Bacon, Novum Organum: Book Two, II

This is a republish and revised edition of an earlier post on Graham Harman’s Object-Oriented Ontology. Descriptions of materialism below are of those physicalists and reductionsists, rather than…

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The Ecstasy of Kronos from Mortal Thought

It has been said by the poets, servants of the Highest:

Kronos, subduer of his sublime father Uranus,

Was exiled to the abyssal depths in the wake of

His double defeat at the hands of his wife and son.

Kronos castrated the god of the eternal Heavens, and

Aphrodite, goddess of Earthly Love, born of the phallus,

Rose naked from bloody foam upon the surface of the sea.

With the usurpation, haunted by ominous prophesy of his

Overthrow by his child, Kronos began to consume

Each of his children just after their births.

His first defeat came from the wrath of his

Wife Rhea, in revenge for his ingestion of

Her children, as he sought to flee his Fate.

Rhea saved her youngest child, Zeus, by

Deception, giving Kronos, after the birth,

A stone, wrapped in swaddling clothes.

After his upbringing by nymphs and goddesses,

Zeus returned with their arts, and giving Kronos

A poison, made him vomit up his immortal children.

Liberated, his brothers and sisters ascended to

Olympus, whereupon Zeus cast his defeated

Father into the abysmal depths of Tartarus.

The second defeat of Kronos occurred when he and his fellow

Titans rose in insurrection and war against the Olympians, their attempt

Narrowly suppressed, the Titans again consigned to the nebulous abyss.

Kronos endured his time, witnessing the centuries of fidelity

To his immortal children until their worship was silenced by

Agitators of a narrative of salvation, of God made flesh.

Mouths spread the story of Eternity descending into time,

Of a heroic god conquering Time and Death, with

Promises of salvation for the mortals of the Word.

The ancient stories of the gods were cast into oblivion,

Along with their wisdom, for one thousand years by the

Poets of the god-man, proclaiming him to be the final truth.

Yet, with their proclamation, Truth, herself, awakens, contesting

The hubris of the new claim as just another fleeting illusion of time,

As with all stories of mortals, children of Prometheus, the Titan.

The goddess of truth set them each upon the other,

In the agon, the One God, who commanded

There shall be no other gods, descended into Chaos.

The stories of the God proliferated in strife, as a hydra,

The new religion shattered amidst the inexorable flux

Of the Nameless, the god made flesh, captive of time.

Seizing the moment of his liberation, in his ecstasy,

Kronos again castrates Eternity, repeating his first

Godlike act, giving to mortals their allotment of memory.

A goddess again ascends from bloody foam, Historia,

The youngest daughter of Kronos, who inhabits the

Vortex of love and strife, a still monstrous site.

Agitators of denial still fight to the death over that

Which must forever remain incomprehensible, destroying

What is Holy in the name of a religiosity of hubris.

Religions of power, unholy politics of the soul, the

Poets of immortal illusions still seek to poison

Time and Earth, the Kronian revolution still on its way.

Yet, there are other poets, however, who are still here,

Amid the strife of mortal existence, who maintain

The remembrance of the Holy, and of the gods.

Traces remain of that which is nearest, and in intimacy

Seek to incite the urgency and intensity of a feeling

That awakens the ecstatic openness of the possible.

James Luchte: Philosophy

This is a poem which opens Mortal Thought: Holderlin and Philosophy, which will be published by Bloomsbury on July 28, 2016.

kronos

It has been said by the poets, servants of the Highest:

Kronos, subduer of his sublime father Uranus,

Was exiled to the abyssal depths in the wake of

His double defeat at the hands of his wife and son.

Kronos castrated the god of the eternal Heavens, and

Aphrodite, goddess of Earthly Love, born of the phallus,

Rose naked from bloody foam upon the surface of the sea.

With the usurpation, haunted by ominous prophesy of his

Overthrow by his child, Kronos began to consume

Each of his children just after their births.

His first defeat came from the wrath of his

Wife Rhea, in revenge for his ingestion of

Her children, as he sought to flee his Fate.

Rhea saved her youngest child, Zeus, by

Deception, giving…

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earthlings | dünyalılar

Synthetic Edifice: Postcapitalism

Philosophy of Mythology and Revelation (Schelling & Hegel)

Footnotes2Plato

I meant to post this back in August when Levi Bryant finally started blogging again, but it somehow got stuck in my drafts (a veritable grave yard of unfinished thoughts and undead ideas). The philosophical spirit Bryant expresses in his writing is rather unique in its capacity to inspire me to resist. I am very grateful to him for this. So many of my posts on Footnotes2Plato have been provoked by the ideas he has shared on Larval Subjects. I’ll add another to that long list.

In his post on the trauma of speculative realism (etc.), Bryant draws on a passage from Foucault’s Archaeology of History to link the essential structure of myth to the synthetic activity of the subject, that is, to the “temporalizing activity of the subject capable of forming a totality for itself in how it links historicity and futurity in the formation of a present” (Bryant’s words). [Speaking of the present…

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Identity and Universality + Radical Grace by Alain Badiou (Video)

Being, Non-Being and Becoming Non-Identical of the Subject as ∅

tumblr_na0c5enkVT1rpco88o1_500

If the one is not, nothing is. ~ Parmenides

In a recent article citing my Postnihilistic Speculations on That Which Is Not: A Thought-World According to an Ontology of Non-Being, the giant of philosophical blogosphere and my fellow para-academic colleague S.C. Hickman has succintly outlined the roots of contemporary ontology. Drawing upon Parmenides, Plato, Meillassoux, Žižek and Badiou in praticular, he has provided new insight concerning the relationship between being, non-being and becoming. After quoting my take on the retroactively speculative new direction in philosophy he goes on to say this:

“As I was reading this post of his I felt a deep underlying, almost religious tone in his voice; the power of the absolute filtering its banal surprise (maybe a non-God, non-All, rather than the mundane gods or God religion or the philosophers). Whatever the absolute may be, it seems to ride the edges, or borderlands of between thought and non-being rather than the metaphysical realms of Being. Though secular through and through the incorporation of the themes of eternity, time, mortality, immortality, etc. like those others who have influenced our thinking: Nietzsche, Badiou, Zizek, Laruelle, Henry, Deleuze, etc. – and, lest we forget, Freud (Lacan: lack?) with his mythology of drives, that endless war of eros and thanatos, life and death, love and war – comes through Erdem’s essay. What struck me above all is the underlying mythos and movement toward transcension, toward elsewhere, immortality, transcendence. Of course as he says, this is nothing new, and it is everywhere in our present transcendental field of speculation, as if between a totalistic closure upon metaphysics had brought with it – not a rational kernel, but rather an irrational kernel of ancient thought. For do we not hear that oldest of songsters, Orpheus, the Greek singer, theologian, poet, philosophical forbear out of whose roots Parmenides, Plato, Aristotle and their ancient antagonists Leucippas, Democritus, and Lucretius down to our day still wage a war over the body of a dead thought (God?).”~ S.C. Hickman, Social Ecologies

When it comes to philosophy I usually avoid dialogue, in that sense I am strictly Deleuzean, a man of “free indirect speech”, always sustaining a kind of internal dialogue with the philosopher’s image of thought he created in his mind. Rather than engaging in polemics with the philosophers, Deleuze used to think with them, although not always in accordance with them, sometimes for and sometimes against them, always disjunctively synthesizing affirmation and negation as well as transcendence and immanence. For Deleuze the important thing was to bring out that which matters in thought. So, what I intend to do in this brief note will be an active reading of Craig’s article rather than a reaction to it. I shall therefore point out that which is missing in his account, namely the relationship between time and change.

Now, for Kant the thing-in-itself, or the noumenon, could be thought but couldn’t be known. We could only know the transcendental ground of our thought, and therefore the thing-in-itself is not submitted to change. For change requires the transcendental constitution of the subject to take place in time. The subject constitutes and is constituted by the transformation of the thing-in-itself(noumenon) into the thing-for-us (phenomenon).

In his Critique of JudgementKant distinguishes between the determinative and the reflective modes of judgement.

If the universal (the rule, the principle, the law) is given, the judgement that subsumes the particular under it is determinative. If, however, only the particular for which the universal is to be found is given, judgement is merely reflective. [1]

If we keep in mind that the reflective mode of judgement reflects on particulars in such a way as to produce universals to which they can be subjected, and that the determinative mode of judgement determines a particular by subjecting it to a universal, it becomes understandable why among these two it is the reflective mode which splits as it unites the subject of enunciation and the enunciated subject. But it must also be kept in mind that the subject of enunciation which refers to the universal is itself a constitutive illusion, or a regulatory idea necessary for the emergence of the subject as the enunciated content. It is only in and through a position of non-being within and without being at the same time that the becoming non-identical of the subject can take place. For change requires the localisation of being in a particular world submitted to time as Badiou puts it in his Being and Event. Therein Badiou asserts that there can be multiplicities not submitted to change and there can also be ones submitted to change. Change is not on the side of multiplicity but on the side of the relationship between multiplicities. There can only be a relation between multiplicities in a particular world. Change is the property of being when being is localised in a world. Change is not the destiny of being as in Heraclitus, but is submitted to the relation between multiples. Hence Badiou can say that “the one does not exist.” It exists neither as a totality as in Parmenides, nor as a multiplicity as in Heraclitus. While for Heraclitus being is in constant change, for Parmenides being is that which never changes. Kant splits being into two halves, one half of being ever changes(phenomenon), while the other half of being never changes(noumenon). For Heraclitus there is only multiplicity, while for Parmenides there is only one. If we have mutltiplicity then there is also change, if we have the one there is no change at all. Being an atomist, Democritus says that being is composed of atoms and the universe is composed of an infinity of atoms. Democritus is the atomic explosion of Parmenides and the sub-atomic implosion of Heraclitus at the same time.[2]

We find ourselves on the brink of the decision, a decision to break with the arcana of the one and the multiple in which philosophy is born and buried, phoenix of its own sophistical consumption. This decision can take no other form than the following: the one is not.[3]

Is there an existing totality before thought? If there is one, is there a part of this existing totality which is outside change? We exist in a world of change and when we think the world we think its change. For change to be thought there has to be an identity first. The relationship between identity and difference is probably the oldest and most complicated philosophical problem. The two orientations of thought concerning the problem of change and the interaction between identity and difference have their roots in Socrates and Zeno as analysed by Badiou in Being and Event.

If one allows that being is being-in-situation—which means unfolding its limit for the Greeks—it is quite true that in suppressing the ‘there is’ of the one, one suppresses everything, since ‘everything’ is necessarily ‘many’. The sole result of this suppression is nothingness. But if one is concerned with being-qua-being, the multiple-without-one, it is true that the non-being of the one is that particular truth whose entire effect resides in establishing the dream of a multiple disseminated without limits. It is this ‘dream’ which was given the fixity of thought in Cantor’s creation. Plato’s aporetic conclusion can be interpreted as an impasse of being, situated at the deciding point of the couple of the inconsistent multiple and the consistent multiple. ‘If the one is not, (the) nothing is’ also means that it is only in completely thinking through the non-being of the one that the name of the void emerges as the unique conceivable presentation of what supports, as unpresentable and as pure multiplicity, any plural presentation, that is, any one-effect. Plato’s text sets four concepts to work on the basis of the apparent couple of the one and the others: the one-being, the there-is of the one, the pure multiple and the structured multiple. If the knot of these concepts remains undone in the final aporia, and if the void triumphs therein, it is solely because the gap between the supposition of the one’s being and the operation of its ‘there is’ remains unthought. This gap, however, is named by Plato many times in his work. It is precisely what provides the key to the Platonic concept par excellence, participation, and it is not for nothing that at the very beginning of the Parmenides, before the entrance of the old master, Socrates has recourse to this concept in order to destroy Zeno’s arguments on the one and the multiple.[4]

Badiou proclaims “the multiple as heterogeneous dissemination,”[5] while Žižek rightly criticizes Meillassoux in particular and Speculative Realism in general for not having an adequate theory of the subject for the present, for the time of being in change.

I think that, in its very anti-transcendentalism, Meillassoux remains caught in the Kantian topic of the accessibility of the thing-in-itself: is what we experience as reality fully determined by our subjective-transcendental horizon, or can we get to know something about the way reality is independently of our subjectivity. Meillassoux’s claim is to achieve the breakthrough into independent ‘objective’ reality. For me as a Hegelian, there is a third option: the true problem that arises after we perform the basic speculative gesture of Meillassoux (transposing the contingency of our notion of reality into the thing itself) is not so much what more can we say about reality-in-itself, but how does our subjective standpoint, and subjectivity itself, fit into reality. The problem is not ‘can we penetrate through the veil of subjectively-constituted phenomena to things-inthemselves’, but ‘how do phenomena themselves arise within the flat stupidity of reality which just is, how does reality redouble itself and start to appear to itself ’. For this, we need a theory of subject which is neither that of transcendental subjectivity nor that of reducing the subject to a part of objective reality. This theory is, as far as I can see, still lacking in speculative realism.[6]

Today philosophy has a tendency to think outside the contemporary world, whereas the goal of Ancient Greek philosophy had been to find an orientation of thought for the good life in time. The quest was how to live in accordance with a conception of goodness in mind. This is not an abstract goal, but rather aims at transforming subjectivity as it is here and now.

If one took the point of being which seemed to be the smallest, much like a dream within sleep, it would immediately appear multiple instead of its semblance of one, and instead of its extreme smallness, it would appear enormous, compared to the dissemination that it is starting from itself.[7]

In his Logics of Worlds, Badiou makes a distinction between being and existence.

I have posed that existence is nothing other than the degree of self-identity of a multiple-being, such as it is established by a transcendental indexing. With regard to the multiple-being as thought in its being, it follows that its existence is contingent, since it depends—as a measurable intensity—on the world where the being, which is said to exist, appears. This contingency of existence is crucial for Kant, because it intervenes as a determination of the transcendental operation itself. This operation is effectively defined as ‘the application of the pure concepts of the understanding to possible experience’. In my vocabulary—and obviously with no reference to any ‘application’—this can be put as follows: the logical constitution of pure appearing, the indexing of a pure multiple on a worldly transcendental. But, just as with the object, Kant will immediately distinguish within this operation its properly transcendental or a priori facet from its receptive or empirical one.[8]

As the subject’s intensity of self-consciousness increases, so does its pain and anxiety in the face of death. This causes hopelessness and despair which may or may not lead to a total devastation of the project of inverting and putting into the spotlight the nothingness at the centre of the subject. Heidegger repeatedly puts all this down in Being and Time when he says that “being-towards-death is angst.” One cure for expelling anxiety has been to believe in god, any other metaphysical construct, or in some cases it has even taken the form of a materialist system of thought; in all these cases, however, an escape is seen as a solution when in fact it is the problem itself. For our concerns, an escapist attitude, and especially one that tries to go beyond the present, does not work at all, for what we are looking for is a way of learning to make use of the reality of the death drive as an interior exteriority constitutive of the subject as a creative agent of change at present, in the time of the living and the dead at once.

And finally here is the Lacanian definition of the subject referred to by Badiou towards the very end of Being and Event

I am not, there where I am the plaything of my thought; I think of what I am, there where I do not think I am thinking.[9]

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Reference Matter

[1] Immanuel Kant, Critique of Judgment, trans. James Creed Meredith (London: Wilder Publications, 2008), 13

[2] Alain Badiou, Being and Event, Meditation Two: Plato, trans. Oliver Feltham (New York: Continuum, 2005), 31-7

[3] Badiou, BE, 23

[4] Badiou, BE, 36

[5] Badiou, BE, 33

[6] Slavoj Žižek, Interview with Ben Woodard, in The Speculative Turn: Continental Realism and Materialism, Graham Harman, Nick Srnicek, Levi Bryant (eds.), (Melbourne: re.press, 2011), 415

[7] Badiou, BE, 34

[8] Alain Badiou, Logics of Worlds, Section Two, Kant, trans. Alberto Toscano (London: Continuum, 2009), 237

[9] Badiou, BE, 431

Zizek and Badiou on Philosophy and Psychoanalysis (Videos)

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2011

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2010

VIDEO 2

2009

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2003

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