Üç Silahşörler ve Dr. Lawgiverz

Üst Düzey Bir Araştırma Komisyonu’nun ilk icraatı Dr. Lawgiverz’i bulup sistemin temellerini dinamitlemesini engellemek için yargıya havale etmek üzere üç siyasi polis memuru görevlendirmek olur. Üç farklı ülkeden seçilen ve kendi ülkelerinde işlerinin ehli olduklarını ispatlamış bu üç siyasi polisin biri şef, biri müfettiş, diğeri de basit bir çavuştur. Öncelikle üçünün de konuşabildiği ortak bir dil belirleyip, ki bu dil elbette ki İngilizce’dir, işe koyulan bu üçlüye Üç Silahşörler demek ise ilerleyen süreçte açıklığa kavuşacak sebeplerden ötürü sanırız pek yerinde olacaktır. Dolayısıyla da bundan böyle onları üç silahşörler olarak anacağımızı şimdiden belirtelim.

Her neyse, geleneksel romanlarda olduğu gibi durup da bu üçlünün teker teker karakter tahlillerine girişmek yerine, karakterlerini olayların seyrinin açıklığa kavuşturmasını günümüz edebiyatına uyum açısından uygun bulduk. Örneğin göreve getirildikleri o ilk günkü karşılaşma esnasında gerçekleşen şu anekdot bile bize nasıl bir üçlüyle karşı karşıya bulunduğumuzu göstermeye yeter ve hatta artar bile diye düşünüyoruz.

Şef şu sözlerle başlasın mesela konuşmasına: “Arkadaşlar merhaba. Bildiğiniz gibi Dünya Devletleri Ortak Platformu’nun istihbarat şubesi baş sorumlusu kendisine verilen yetkiye dayanarak Üst Düzey Bir Araştırma Komisyonu oluşturdu ve beni de şimdilik üçümüzden ibaret bu komisyona şef olarak atadı. Bundan böyle aramızdaki kültürel farklılıkları geri plana itip ortak bir amaç doğrultusunda, yani Dr. Lawgiverz’i ve Spekülatif Gerçekçiler’i haince planlarını yürürlüğe koymaktan men etmek yolunda birlikte çalışacağız. İstihbarat şubesi baş sorumlusunun bana verdiği dosyaya göre Dr. Lawgiverz şu anda Japonya’da. Sanırım aramızda bir Japon’un bulunması da bu yüzdendir.” Bunları söylerken bakışlarını müfettişe yönelterek başını hafifçe öne eğmesinden anlıyoruz ki müfettiş Japon’dur, ki nitekim öyle olduğu için de sözü devralan o olacaktır. “Teşekkürler şefim. Japonya polis teşkilatı olarak, Dr. Lawgiverz’in iletişim halinde olmanın da ötesinde bir takım bilimsel projeleri hayata geçirmek üzere son derece içli dışlı olduğu bilim adamını tespit etmiş bulunmaktayız. Takamuro Kootaro adındaki bu adam yıllardır zamanda yolculuk, ölümsüzlük ve daha başka doğa üstü hadiselerle ilgili araştırmalar yapıyor. Ne yazık ki arkasındaki güçleri henüz tespit edebilmiş değiliz, ancak Japonya dışından, büyük ihtimalle Kuzey Amerika’dan olduğunu tahmin ettiğimiz bazı şer odaklarından beslendiğini tahmin ediyoruz. Ona maddi kaynak sağlayan birden fazla enstitü olduğu aldığımız duyumlar arasında.” O vakte kadar tüm bunları dikkatle dinlemekte olan çavuş tam da müfettiş sözlerini bitirdiği esnada araya girerek Amerika Birleşik Devletleri vatandaşı olduğunu ele veren bir cümleyle başlayacaktır konuşmasına. “Chicago Haberalma Örgütü’nde geçirdiğim yıllar boyunca edindiğim tecrübeyle ifade edecek olursam Dr. Lawgiverz’in söz konusu Japon bilim adamına maddi kaynak sağlayan enstitülere göbekten bağlı olduğunu söyleyebilirim. Elimizde henüz kanıt olmasa da Dr. Lawgiverz’in Takamuro Kootaro’yla ülkemizdeki birtakım ne idüğü belirsiz enstitüler arasında bir nevi köprü vazifesi gördüğünden eminiz diyebilirim. Oradaki arkadaşlarım gerekli kanıtları bulmakla, bulamadıklarını ise yaratmakla meşguller şimdi.”

Dikkatli okuyucularımızın gözünden kaçmayacağı üzere şefin milliyetini belirtmediğimizin ise elbette ki farkındayız. Bunun sebebi kendisinin Atlantik Okyanusu üzerinde uçmakta olan bir uçakta ve/yani hiçbir ülkenin hava sahasına dahil olmayan bir bölgede doğmuş olmasıdır. Annesi İspanyol-İtalyan, babası ise Fransız-İngiliz kırması olan bu adam sizin de gördüğünüz üzere kırmaların kırmasıdır. Avrupalı diyebileceğimiz şef, artık Avrupa Birliği kurulduğu için çoğu anlamsızlaşan toplam altı ülkenin pasaportunu birden taşımakta ve yedi dili anadili gibi konuşabilmektedir. Elbette ki bunun sebebi herhangi bir anadile sahip olmamasıdır, yani mantık kurallarına özen gösteren okuyucularımızın da takdir edeceği üzere az önce yanlış bir benzetme yapmak gafletine düştük. Zira anavatanı olmayan bir insanın anadili de olmaz, olamaz.

Londra’nın her zamanki gibi o son derece soğuk ve yağmurlu gecelerinden birinde, Dünya Devletleri Ortak Platformu tarafından üç silahşörlere merkez ofis niyetine tahsis edilen, Liverpool Street yakınlarındaki o eski evde vuku bulan bu anekdot, üç silahşörlerin, ertesi gün bazı spekülatif gerçekçilerin Londra’da boy göstereceği bir konferansa, esas amaçlarının ne olduğunu kimseye çaktırmadan katılıp olayın felsefi boyutunu mercek altına alma kararıyla son bulacaktır, ki nitekim sanırız bulmuştur da zaten işte.

Yokluk Olarak Varlık

Nesnelerin sadece birbirleriyle bağlantıları bağlamında bir anlam kazanmasının şart olmadığını, bilâkis bunun son derece teasadüfi ve tarihsel süreç tarafından koşullandırılmış felsefi bir varsayım olduğunu anladığımda, kendinde-şey’in, yani varlığı hiçbir şeyle ilişki içerisinde olmasına bağlı olmayan, varlığını çevresinden bağımsız ve çevresine kayıtsız bir biçimde sürdürebilen nesnelerin var olabileceğini de anlamış oldum. Zira herhangi bir nesne insandan bağımsız olarak düşünülebiliyorsa, insan da nesnelerden bağımsız olarak düşünülebilir demekti, demektir. İnsanın ölümlü bir varlık olduğu, söylenmesi bile gerekmeyen bariz bir durumdur. Ölümlü bir varlık olan insan, olmadığı bir şeye, yani bir ölümsüze dönüşmeye heveslidir. Çeşitli devirlerde çeşitli şekiller alan söz konusu ölümsüzlük hevesinin doruğa çıktığı Romantizm dönemi günümüzde kapitalizm tarafından yeniden diriltilmeye çalışılmakta ve bu yolda çeşitli gıda ürünleri ve hap formuna sokulmuş bitkiler piyasaya sürülmektedir. Zararı herkes tarafından bilinen alkollü içeceklerin üzerinde bile “hayat güzeldir,” “hayata içelim,” şeklinde ibareler görmek mümkün hale gelmiştir. Slavoj Zizek’in Nietzsche’nin “insan hiçbir şey istememektense, hiçliğin kendisini ister,” sözünden hareketle verdiği Diet-Cola ve kafeinsiz kahve örnekleri insanın hiçlik istencini, olmayana duyduğu arzuyu gayet net şekilde deşifre eder niteliktedir. İçi boşaltılmış, varlık sebebinden arındırılmış ürünler sağlıklı yaşama giden yolu asfaltlama çalışmalarında kullanılmaktadır. Lâkin akılda tutulmalıdır ki ister şekerli, ister şekersiz olsun, kola son derece zararlı bir üründür ve sadece şekerden ve kafeinden arındırlmış olması onun sağlıklı bir içecek olduğu manasını taşımaz. Tüm bunların ölümsüzlük konusuyla ilgisi ise şudur ey kara bahtlı okur: Ölümsüzlük bir ölümlü için olmayan bir şeydir. Ölümsüzlük ölümden arındırılmış yaşamdır. Gelinen noktada kapitalizm insanlara ölümsüz yaşam vaad etmektedir. Matematiksel adı sonsuzluk olan ölümsüzlük ölümlülüğün bittiği yerde, yani ölünen noktada başlar. Sonsuzluk kavramının başı sonu olmayan bir süreçten ziyade, başı sonu olmayan bir durumu anlattığını akılda tutarsak diyebiliriz ki ölümsüzlük ancak sonsuz boyuttaki bir çelişkinin dünyamıza yansımasıyla zuhur edebilir. Sonsuzluk veya ölümsüzlük birer süreç olmaktan ziyade birer durumdur, çünkü süreçler başı sonu olan sürerdurumlarken, durumlar durağan ve zaman dışı olgulardır. Zamandan ve uzamdan bağımsız bir varoluşsal durum olan ölümsüzlük felsefe tarihi boyunca ölümlü insan bilincinin tamamen dışında konumlanmış bir kendinde-şey olarak düşünülmüştür. Oysa biz biliyoruz ki aslında ölümsüzlük insanı çevreleyen değil, bilakis insanın çevrelediği bir boşluktur. Şu anda ölümsüzlüğü düşünmekte olduğumuza ve/fakat bu söylediklerimizin doğruluğunu kanıtlayacak hiçbir dayanağımız olmadığına göre demek ki ölümsüzlüğün düşüncemizin kendisini sürdürebilmek için kendi içinde yarattığı bir boşluk olduğunu teslim etmeliyiz. Boşluklar olmayan varlıkların yokluğunu doldurduğuna göre diyebiliriz ki düşünmek ölüme ara vermek, yaşamda boşluklar yaratmaktır. Ölümlü ne demektir? Bir gün ölecek olan, yani ölümden kurtulmuş olmayan. Peki ölümsüz ne demektir? Artık ölmesi mümkün olmayan, zira hâlihazırda ölmüş olan, bu vesileyle de işte ölümden arınmış olan.

Alain Badiou – The Communist Hypothesis

      
 
Now, more than ever, one should insist on what Badiou calls the ‘eternal’ Idea of Communism.  – Slavoj Zizek
 
A new program for the Left after the death of neoliberalism. ‘We know that communism is the right hypothesis. All those who abandon this hypothesis immediately resign themselves to the market economy, to parliamentary democracy—the form of state suited to capitalism—and to the inevitable and “natural” character of the most monstrous inequalities.’—Alain Badiou
 

Badiou’s Communist Hypothesis and The Idea of Communism Conference > Resources


 

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Free Sage Journals (via An und für sich)

Table journals

Image via Wikipedia

I’m a little late on this, but you still have a month left to enjoy unfettered, free access to Sage Journals Online. Good times to be had for all you independent scholar types out there. … Read More

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Derrida Interview w/Ornette Coleman (via Perverse Egalitarianism)

AUFS links to a conversation between Jacques Derrida and Ornette Colman from the late 90s. Here. Plus, here’s another interview with Ornette Coleman: Read More

via Perverse Egalitarianism

LAWRENCE FERLINGHETTI > röportaj – tam metin (via Underground Poetix)

röportaj güzel de, yazı karakterleri o kadar küçük ki okunmuyor… güya wordpress bu hemingway temasını yazarlar için yapmış, okunmak istemeyen yazarlar için yapmış belli ki… her neyse, underground poetix elemanları isteseler bu küçük yazı karakteri sorununa bir çözüm bulurlar aslında ama nedense onlar da bu konuda hiçbir şey yapmıyor… dostça bir uyarı ve öneri olarak alınsın lütfen bu, “dost acı söyler,” lâfı hatırlansın… sevgiyle…

Lawrence Ferlinghetti (1969) 1969 Baharı: Jack Shoemaker’la birlikte Ferlinghetti’nin San Francisco’nun Potrero Hill bölgesindeki evine gittik. Sanat ve kitaplarla dolu, sıcak bir tarzda döşenmiş ve rahat bir ev. Bir süre oturma odasında sohbet edip şarap yudumlayarak oturduk. Sonra Lawrence bizi çatı katındaki ofisine götürdü. Pencereleri şehre bakıyordu. Cana yakın ve şakacı bir adamdı; bazen bizi oyuna getirdiğini düşünüyordum, buz mavisi gözl … Read More

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Deleuze in Context Conference, Dundee

Written by Infinite Thought

Deleuze in Context

Deleuze in Context Workshop
University of Dundee
24 September 2010
11 AM – 6 PM, Carnelly Building, Room 2.20
Supported by School of Humanities and Arts and Humanities Research Institute, University of Dundee
Speakers
Jeffrey Bell, Southeastern Louisiana University, ‘Between Realism and Anti-Realism: Deleuze and the Spinozist Tradition in Philosophy’
Ian Buchanan, Cardiff University, ‘Deleuze and the Question of Revolution’
Craig Lundy, UNSW, ‘Historiophilosophy: Absolute Thought and its Historical Milieu’
David Martin-Jones, University of St Andrews, ‘The Child Seer in and as History: Putting the Cinema Books into Context’
Dominic Smith, University of Dundee, ‘Get Beyond Bad Faith and Bartleby: Some Stakes for Contemporary Thought’
Organiser: Professor James Williams, School of Humanities, University of Dundee

This event is free but places are limited due to the workshop format, so please book ahead as soon as possible by contacting James, j.r.williams[at]dundee.ac.uk

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İmaj ve Yanılsama: Reklam (via Anticopyright-tr Blog)

imaj ve yanılsama: reklam Subliminal! 1957 yılında market araştırmacısı James Vicary sinema ekranında çok hızlı bir şekilde parıldayan mesajların insanların gıda üzerinde tercihlerini etkilediğini kanıtlamak amacıyla yaptığı bir araştırmada teskistoskop adı verilen bir cihazla filmlerin arasına ‘coacola iç!’ ‘patlamış mısır ye!’mesajlarını yerleştirdi. Bu mesajlar saniyenin 1/3000’i kadar kısa bir sürede görünüyor ve her 5 saniyede tekrarlanıyordu. Bu filmlerin ardından N … Read More

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Interview with James Williams

 The Brain: The Places in the Brain Where Space Lives | Mind & Brain | DISCOVER MagazineJames Williams teaches philosophy at the University of Dundee. He has written on French thinker Jean-François Lyotard, Lyotard: Towards a Postmodern Philosophy (Polity), Lyotard and the Political (Routledge) and with Keith Crome The Lyotard Reader and Guide (Edinburgh), on Gilles Deleuze, Gilles Deleuze’s Difference and Repetition: a Critical Introduction and Guide (Edinburgh) and The Transversal Thought of Gilles Deleuze (Clinamen) and a new defence of poststructuralism, Understanding Poststructuralism (Acumen).

 Mark Thwaite: You have written books on Lyotard, Deleuze and now you add three other poststructuralist thinkers (Derrida, Foucault and Kristeva) to your list – before we get into the detail of your books, what is it that draws you to these thinkers?

James Williams: I was drawn to Lyotard’s ultra-realist political sensitivity, not in the grim conservative sense of realist, but in the sense of refusing any misplaced idealism about structures and systems. I like the way he seeks out gaps in those structures through their dependence on desire. His ability to connect those gaps to notions of justice is important to me. Deleuze is a vital metaphysician; in future years it will be commonplace to utter lines like “Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Kant, Marx, Deleuze …” He opens life on to a realm of conditions and potentials that resist modern day naturalism (the reduction of life to the findings of the natural sciences defined in a very limited way) whilst remaining free of dogmatic mysticism. Derrida is a wonderful teacher. He expands our capacity to read between and across lines and texts. I like Kristeva’s combination of literary and psychoanalytical thought. She shows that an engagement with the role of deep processes in the psyche allows us to understand the revolutionary power of literature. As for Foucault, I have a soft spot for the complexity and balance of his style, its measure and cadence; it adds pleasure to the necessity of his understanding of the power of interlaced historical processes in contemporary lives.

MT: Your first book was on Jean-François Lyotard. Lyotard strikes me as a thinker often cited as the writer who defined postmodernism (in The Postmodern Condition), but not as a philosopher whose work has had a great impact beyond this. What is is that you see in Lyotard’s work that is so important?

JW: Lyotard was one of the best essayists of his time. A modern day Diderot, rather than a pure professional philosopher. So his work on the postmodern must be seen as a brilliant idea among many. It must also be seen in its aesthetic and polemical settings. Lyotard’s works are creative provocations with deep philosophical, political and artistic backgrounds. His work on the postmodern is often misread as a defence of postmodernity (an epoch) when it fact it is a plea for postmodern works that defy epochs by retaining a disruptive extra-historical power. Postmodern works remind us of the limits of the rational or irrational consensus that emerges and defines a slice of history. They are therefore outside such time-slices and have a negative power, ‘here are the limits of reason’, and a positive power, ‘here is an event that we must find new ways of doing justice to’. The notion of impact is a suspicious one in this context and I prefer to think in terms of the untimely: ‘That is to say, for as long as that for which it is time, and which the present time has more need of than ever, continues to count as untimely – I mean: telling the truth’ (Nietzsche, Untimely Meditations, 55). There are many current works inspired by Lyotard’s truths, for example, Margret Grebowicz’s Gender after Lyotard (SUNY, forthcoming), Geoffrey Bennington‘s Late Lyotard and Simon Malpas’s Lyotard (Routledge). Keith Crome and myself have a new critical edition of Lyotard’s works out this month! (The Lyotard Reader and Guide, EUP).

MT: Your Understanding Poststructuralism will, inevitably, be sold as an introductory text to students, but I thought it much better than many introductory texts (important though I think many of these gateway books can be). One of your concerns would seem to be that some analytic/traditional philosophers have not bothered to rise to the challenge of poststructuralist thought, but have condemned it tout court and without care. Why do you think that is?

JW: I like Bourdieu’s sociological methodology for answering this kind of question. For example, in his Homo Academicus, he traces the patterns of training and background for French academics. A similar work could be done for contemporary philosophers (where they trained, with which supervisors, their views of the importance of reason and common sense, whether they view themselves and thrive as specialists or generalists, their attitudes to science, religion and the arts). It would be scurrilous to offer answers independent of such a survey in addition to an extensive study of the statements made on continental philosophers. I am interested in raising critical questions that intersect with analytic ones in order to show that poststructuralist thinkers have some of the most original and powerful, in the sense of liberating, answers to traditional problems. Sometimes, the answer is that the problem is a false one. This can lead to some shock and misunderstanding, often based on the most sketchy reading and perhaps some concealed political and emotional motivations. I’d be happy to have shown that this need not be the case.

MT: What do you make of the ethical/religious turn in thinkers like Derrida? Was it inevitable?

JW: Nothing is inevitable, because even if things are causally determined, the meaning of what occurs exceeds facts or states of affairs. That’s why the same event is very different if we know it is to happen, rather than if it surprises us – hence the rich possibilities in literature for scenes where a death is foreseen (I often return to Marquez’s Chronicle of a Death Foretold, even if it was unsettling to read of its origin in true events in his recent beautiful memoirs Living to tell the tale). When we use the term ‘turn’ in philosophy it imparts meaning and weight to what is turned to, but this is always controversial, none more so than when it imposes linearity on to works with much more complex twists in time. For me, Derrida is primarily a great political interpreter of the philosophical tradition – and he never turned – for others, he is an ethical thinker. It is a mark of his importance that this will remain a rich source of debate.

MT: A number of the big beasts of poststructuralism are dead now. Theory’s time has, perhaps, passed. Who in contemporary thought should we be watching out for: Agamben, Badiou, Negri, Virilio, Zizek!?

JW: The philosophy I work on avoids these kind of predictions, except when they are uttered ironically. They encourage a nostalgic view that deflates the present. They also run counter to the view of events as shaped in retrospect and as always retaining an openness to future transformations (theory will return, but not as we know it). They also reflect the consumerist and fashion-led approach that turns us into onlookers rather than makers (see Guy Debord’s not-to-be-missed Comments on the Society of the Spectacle or his original Society of the Spectacle). Don’t look to others: What drives you and disgusts you? Work on them, but without fixing and representing them… Not easy, but definitely good for life.

MT: Lyotard’s libidinal economics – like Deleuze & Guattari’s politics of desire – seem to me to have dated more heavily than other postmodernisms, perhaps because they seem so tied to the jouissance of ’68 … or am I being unfair?

JW: There is a beautiful treatment of this kind of problem in Charles Péguy’s great book Clio. Péguy describes history as two intersecting cones: as we look into the future the cone widens and there are always more judges and actors, a bigger potential audience, but equally when they look back there are ever more worthy protagonists around us in the past. Our future audience turns out to have a choice among a much greater range of scenarios than we expected. So the interlocking cones of history grow wider backwards and forwards, and both cones expand through time. This leads to a set of interesting paradoxes. We care about future judgements, but we necessarily matter less and less in the future. Yet when we look back at needy actors just like us, we see them amongst many others. We crave significance, but remove it from others to make space for our own, as they do to us. One of the biggest problems is whether this should be cause for melancholy, or for a release from the burdens of destiny (Péguy’s moods alternate between despair and glory). If it is the latter – and, after all, it is up to us – then Lyotard’s desire will keep returning, but never as a dominating legacy.

MT: In the critical responses to your books, have you learned anything that would make you want to reassess or finesse your arguments? Have you been happy with the responses to your work?

JW: Readers’ responses to manuscripts, commissioned by academic presses, are the most important critical response to books and articles received by academics; they are almost never seen by others. A bad response means no publication, no publication can mean no job. Luckily, I have had many helpful responses that have much improved my books. It is luck because readers and reviewers can often be less well-qualified than the original author or have an opposed agenda (‘this book about guinea pigs should have been about elephants’. There is very little kudos in reading and reviewing, so they are done out of duty, enjoyment in judging others, lust for power, or necessity (junior academics find it hard to get early publications and hence often work through reviews; they are also in need of the tiny sums paid for reading: ‘we offer you £50 worth of our books for a 3 page report on this 400 page manuscript’). I like the way some modern reviewers are trying to re-invigorate the form by turning reviews into more creative pieces, where judgement and categorisation play less prominent roles. A good reviewer jumps off from a work, rather than jumps on it (obviously Nietzscheans do not have regrets, but were I to have any, one would be to have flattened rather than lifted works).

MT: You have a new book about Deleuze coming from Clinamen in March (The Transversal Thought of Gilles Deleuze) – can you tell me a little about it? Will this be building on the arguments in your Gilles Deleuze’s “Difference and Repetition”: A Critical Introduction and Guide?

JW: Clinamen is one of a dwindling number of independent specialist philosophical presses resisting the commercial logic of ‘many introductory primers and few, mainly historical, classics’. Bill Ross, the editor, pays genuine care to his authors and books. My book argues that Deleuze sought to construct a metaphysics, a world-view, with the greatest potential for openness, that is, with the fewest basic exclusions and identifications. A metaphysics that says that humans or nature or God, identified in a certain fixed way, are prior and best is terribly violent and narrow. However, even contemporary forms of empirical scientific naturalism can be narrow, due to the metaphysical presuppositions of their methods: forms of abstraction and generalisation, for instance. My book shows the detail of Deleuze’s arguments in relation to other key thinkers. I trace Deleuze’s work on transcendental conditions in Kant; his ethical thought based around expression, through Levinas; his engagement with science, through Bachelard; his work on reciprocal determination, in Whitehead; his distance from the possible, through Lewis; his radical opposition to the use of common sense, through Harman; and his revolutionary politics, in Negri and Lyotard. The book could have been called Deleuze, Life and Philosophy, but The Transversal Thought of Gilles Deleuze: Encounters and Influences is much less hubristic (the value of a good editor).

MT: What are you working on now?

JW: I’m working on another book-length reading of a work by Deleuze (The Logic of Sense). This book develops his idea of the radical connection of all things and people through the intense sensations that can run through them. He deduces a surface of sense connecting impersonal neutral events to individual singular actual ones, for example, in the way a single battle brings together many different actors, but from myriad perspectives and through multiple emotions and attachments. This notion of the event, as a connecting process prior and constitutive of fleeting identities, has very interesting ramifications for the ways we see life. So I am working on a long-term project of a new philosophy of the event inspired by Deleuze and by Whitehead.

MT: What is the best book you have read recently? Who is your favourite writer/what is your favourite book?

JW: I do not really have favourite writers and books. There are writers that accompany different moods and moments very well (Goytisolo, McEwan, Faulkner, Franquin, Goscinny, Uderzo, Chatwin, Sollers, Barthes, Greene, Borgès, Morris, Nietzsche, Foucault, Golding, Proulx, Waugh, Sempé) but which ones, when and where is unpredictable, sometimes they work, sometimes they do not. When they work they connect a moment to others by making them different; a single fixed and cherished favourite could not really do that – like a jester always telling the same joke to lesser effect. Off with his head.

MT: Has the internet changed the way that you read and write?

JW: I can’t remember a time before the internet. The latest surfing speeds and remote file and email access allow an academic to be almost anywhere in the world and ‘at work’. This ends the old dichotomy of, either, working on a single well-crafted piece next to a hot stove in slippers, or, sitting in a fusty university office teaching and administrating. My only worry with this passing is that it can increase a somewhat typical academic jealousy and paranoia (What are they doing? Why aren’t they reading me? Who is planning my downfall? Do I care?) Less in-the-flesh contact involves a loss of social skills and an increase in lonely self-analysis. It goes without saying that poststructuralists like me never ever suffer from this, and don’t you ever say the contrary, because I will find out.

MT: Anything else you’d like to say?

JW: Thanks for interviewing me. A serendipitous remedy for the above electronic social alienation lies in setting up a network of valued internet sites – something like an archipelago of cultured writing amidst a sea of dross. ReadySteadyBook (and its linked blogs) are pleasant and hospitable islands!

MT: Thanks so much for your time James – all the very best.

RSB-ROBOT
Copyright © 2002-2010 http://www.readysteadybook.com.

Mark Thwaite (13/02/2006)

 
alice, white rabbit, the hole and many doors

 

Interview with Mark Fisher (Capitalist Realism)

Mark Fisher has been writing an acclaimed blog as k-punk for some years now. Focussing on culture, especially music and literature, and politics. His writing also appears in the New Statesman, Frieze, The Wire, Sight and Sound and FACT. A founder member of the Cybernetic Culture Research Unit, he now teaches at Goldsmiths University and the City Literary Institute in London.

In November last year he published his first book Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative?, and also edited a collection of texts on the death of Michael Jackson, The Resistible Demise of Michael Jackson, both published with Zer0 Books.

Rowan Wilson: Your blog, k-punk, is one of the leading blogs for cultural analysis. When did you first start writing it and why did you start?

Mark Fisher: Thank you. I started it in 2003. At the time, I was working as a Philosophy lecturer in a Further Education college in Kent – I reflect on some of my experiences there in Capitalist Realism. I was then quite badly depressed – not because of teaching, which I enjoyed, but for a whole series of long-term reasons – and I started blogging as a way of getting back into writing after the traumatic experience of doing a PhD. PhD work bullies one into the idea that you can’t say anything about any subject until you’ve read every possible authority on it. But blogging seemed a more informal space, without that kind of pressure. Blogging was a way of tricking myself back into doing serious writing. I was able to con myself, thinking, “it doesn’t matter, it’s only a blog post, it’s not an academic paper”. But now I take the blog rather more seriously than writing academic papers. I was actually only aware of blogs for a short while before I started mine. But I could quite quickly see that the blog network around Simon Reynolds’ blog [see the RSB interview with Reynolds] – which was the first network I started to read – fulfilled many of the functions that the music press used to. But it wasn’t just replicating the old music press; there were also sorts of strange, idiosyncratic blogs which couldn’t have existed in any other medium. I saw that – contrary to all the clichés – blogs didn’t have to be online diaries: they were a blank space in which writers could pursue their own lines of interest (something that it‘s increasingly difficult for writers to do in print media, for a number of reasons).

RW: You’re almost one of the elder statespeople of blogging now. How has it changed since you started?

MF: Blogging networks shift all the time; new blogs enter the network, older ones fall away; new networks constitute themselves. One of the most significant developments was the introduction of comments; a largely unfortunate change in my view. In the early days of blogs, if you wanted to respond to a post, you had to reply on your own blog, and if you didn’t have a blog, you had to create one. Comments tend to reduce things to banal sociality, with all its many drawbacks.

Yet blogs continue to do things that can’t be done anywhere else: look at the way that Speculative Realism has propagated through blogs. Originally coined as term of convenience for the work of the philosophers Ray Brassier, Graham Harman, Iain Hamilton Grant and Quentin Meillassoux, Speculative Realism now has an online unlife of its own. This isn’t just commentary on existing philosophical positions; it’s a philosophy that is actually happening on the web. Graham has his own blog, Object-Oriented Philosophy, but there are a whole range of Speculative Realism-related blogs, including Speculative Heresy and Planomenology. Reid Kane of Plamomenology has gone so far as to argue that Speculative Realism is “the first avatar of distributed cognition”, that, in other words, there is a natural fit between SR and the online medium.

RW: You were one of the co-founders of the Cybernetic Culture Research Unit (CCRU), described by Simon Reynolds as the academic equivalent of Apocalypse Now’s Colonel Kurtz. Who did you form it with and what was its purpose?

MF: The main driving forces behind it were Sadie Plant and Nick Land. But Sadie Plant left quite quickly so the CCRU as it developed was much more shaped by Nick Land. Nick’s 1990s texts – which are to be issued in a collected edition this year, by Urbanomic, who publish the Collapse journal – are incredible. Far from the dry databasing of much academic writing or the pompous solemnity of so much continental philosophy, Nick’s texts were astonishing theory-fictions. They weren’t distanced readings of French theory so much as cybergothic remixes which put Deleuze and Guattari on the same plane as films such as Apocalypse Now and fictions such as Gibson’s Neuromancer.

Jungle was crucial to the Ccru. What the Ccru was about was capturing, (and extrapolating) this specifically British take on cyberculture, in which music was central. Ccru was trying to do with writing what Jungle, with its samples from such as Predator, Terminator and Blade Runner, was doing in sound: “text at sample velocity”, as Kodwo Eshun put it.

RW: The writing of the Ccru seems very different to your current style. Are you still involved with the Ccru – and indeed is it still operating?

MF: It was never formally disbanded but then again it was never formally constituted. It’s odd because, it’s only a decade on that the stuff is starting to get published in book form. As I said, Nick’s texts are just about to be published. Steve Goodman (aka Kode9) has just had his book Sonic Warfarepublished on MIT Press. As for the change of style, I suppose a number of things happened. One was the slowing of the UK cyberculture that had inspired the Ccru throughout the 90s. Gradually, the exorbitant hypotheses of the Ccru seemed to have less purchase on a culture that increasingly seemed to correspond more with Jameson’s ideas of retrospection and pastiche. In the 90s, it was possible to oppose a vibrant cyberculture to the malaise which Jameson identified. But in the 00s, the blight of postmodernism spread everywhere.

Also, I found that, as I started teaching regularly, and as I got used to writing for an audience – and there’s no form of writing that makes you as aware of having an audience as blogging; print publications just don’t compare – I rediscovered rhetoric, argument and engagement. The exhilaration of the Ccru-style was its uncompromising blizzard of jargon, text as a tattoo of intensities to which you just had to submit. But it’s hard to maintain that kind of speed-intensity for longer writing projects; and I found that I enjoyed producing writing that was expositorier and which tried to engage the reader rather than blitz them. I like Zizek’s line that the idiot he is trying to explain philosophy to is himself; I feel the same. Much of my writing now is me trying to explain things to/for myself.

There were also political schisms. The Ccru defined itself against the sclerotic stranglehold that a certain moralizing Old Left had on the Humanities academy. There was a kind of exuberant anti-politics, a ‘technihilo’ celebration of the irrelevance of human agency, partly inspired by the pro-markets, anti-capitalism line developed by Manuel DeLanda out of Braudel, and from the section of Anti-Oedipus that talks about marketization as the “revolutionary path”. This was a version of what Alex Williams has called “accelerationism”, but it has never been properly articulated as a political position; the tendency is to fall back into a standard binary, with capitalism and libertarianism on one side and the state and centralization on the other.

But working in the public sector in Blairite Britain made me see that neoliberal capitalism didn’t fit with the accelerationist model; on the contrary, pseudo-marketization was producing the pervasive, decentralized bureaucracy I describe in Capitalist Realism. My experiences as a teacher and as trade union activist combined with a belated encounter with Zizek – who was using some of the same conceptual materials as Ccru (the Freudian death drive; pulp culture, technology), but giving them a leftist spin – to push me towards a different political position. I guess what I’m interested in now is in synthesizing some of the interests and methods of the Ccru with a new leftism. Speculative Realism has returned to some of the areas that the Ccru was interested in. What I’m hoping will happen in the next decade is that a new kind of theory will develop that emerges from people who have been deep-cooked in post-Fordist capitalism, who take cyberspace for granted and who lack nostalgia for the exhausted paradigms of the old left.

RW: One of the most exciting things to happen in publishing last year was the development of the Zer0 Books imprint. Can you explain how that came about and the purpose of the project?

MF: The imprint was set up by the novelist Tariq Godard. He asked Nina Power and me if we’d like to do books, and we suggested a range of other people. What we wanted was to produce the kind of books we’d want to read ourselves, but which weren’t being published anywhere. In mainstream media, the space that had drawn Tariq and myself towards theory in the first place – the music press, areas of the broadcast media – had disappeared. Effectively, that kind of discourse had been driven into exile online. So part of what Zer0 was about was harvesting the work that has been developed on the blog networks. Zer0 is about establishing a para-space, between theory and popular culture, between cyberspace and the university. The Zer0 books are a reminder of what ought to be obvious, but which the imbecilic reductionism of neoliberal media would like us to forget: serious writing doesn’t have to be opaque and incomprehensible, and popular writing doesn’t have to be facile.

RW: Your first book, Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative?, was published by Zer0 in November. Why do you think that capitalism, even in the wake of the financial crisis, has such a grip on our consciousness?

MF: I’m not sure that it has a grip on our consciousness so much as on our unconscious. It shapes the limits of what we can imagine. It does so because it has enjoyed 20 years of unchallenged domination, blitzing our nervous systems with its intoxicants, paralysing thought. Put at its simplest, capitalist realism is the widespread idea that capitalism is the only “realistic” political economic system. The response to the financial crisis only reinforced this belief – it was (on every level) unthinkable that the banks could be allowed to crash. The problem is imagining an alternative that anyone believes could be actually attained. Which isn’t to say that an alternative can’t ever come about; in fact, after the financial crisis, we’re in the bizarre situation at the moment where everything – very much including the continuation of the status quo – looks impossible.  But this is already an improvement from how things seemed only two years ago. The financial crisis forced capitalist realism to change its form. The old neoliberal story was no longer viable. But Capital has not yet cobbled together much of a new narrative, or come up with any economic solution to the problems that led to the crash in the first place. It’s as if capitalism has suffered its own version of shock therapy.

RW: How is your argument different from that put forward by Fredric Jameson in his work on the culture of postmodernism?

MF: Well, as I say in the book, in many ways what I’m calling “capitalist realism” can be contained under the rubric of Jameson’s theorization of postmodernism. Yet the very persistence and ubiquity of the processes that Jameson identifies – the destruction of a sense of history, the supersession of novelty by pastiche – meant that they have changed in kind. Postmodernism is now no longer a tendency in culture; it has subsumed practically all culture. Capitalist realism, you might say, is what happens when postmodernism is naturalized. After all, we’ve now got a generation of young adults who have known nothing but global capitalism and who are accustomed to culture being pastiche and recapitulation.

RW: In the book you move from describing the problems of capitalist society to how it is making us mentally ill. What do you think are the central lasting effects of neoliberalism on our psyches and, with its collapse, how do you see these unravelling?

MF: Neoliberalism installs a perpetual anxiety – there is no security; your position and status are under constant review. It’s no wonder that, as Oliver James shows in The Selfish Capitalist, depression is so prevalent in neoliberalized countries. Widespread mental illness is one of the hidden costs of neoliberal capitalism; stress has been privatized. If you’re depressed because of overwork, that’s between you and your brain chemistry!

I do think that the financial crisis killed neoliberalism as a political project – but it doesn’t need to be alive in order to continue to dominate our minds, work and culture. Even though neoliberalism now lacks any forward momentum, it still controls things by default. So, sadly, I don’t see the deleterious psychic effects of neoliberalism waning any time in the immediate future.

RW:You identify the madness of managerial bureaucracy, the incessant and pointless ‘auditing culture’, in contemporary public services, specifically education. You discuss how this auditing culture is now, along with capitalism’s PR network, a new big Other, a replacement for God. It’s the ideological matrix that we all cynically dismiss (not just privately – this cynicism is now the accepted public language; see the Guardian’s G2 section for daily examples) but nonetheless remains the binding authority. Why are we not simply able to shrug it off?

MF: PR is not limited any more to specific promotional activities – as I say in the book, under capitalism, all that is solid melts into PR. In so-called “immaterial” labour, the effect of auditing is not to improve actual performance but to generate a representation of better performance. It’s a familiar effect that anyone subject to New Labour’s targets will know all too well.

Neoliberalism reproduces itself through cynicism, through people doing things they “don’t really believe”. It’s a question of power. People go along with auditing culture and what I call “business ontology” not necessarily because they agree with it, but because that is the ruling order, “that’s just how things are now, and we can’t do anything about it”. That kind of sentiment is what I mean by capitalist realism. And it isn’t merely queitsm; it’s true that almost no-one working in public services is likely to be sacked if they get a poor performance review (they will just be subject to endless retraining); but they might well be sacked if they start questioning the performance review system itself or refusing to co-operate with it.

RW: So now we move from the critique to the positive proposals. In an interview with Matthew Fuller for Mute you tentatively suggest that the left needs to come up with a new big Other, one that is more representative of Rousseau’s ‘general will’. How is this to be distinguished from the capitalist big Other and how would it be prevented from becoming reified, a new system of mystical dominance?

RW: Reification isn’t a problem per se; in fact, it’s something we should hope for. Evan Calder Williams, whose book Combined and Uneven Apocalypse is coming out on Zer0, talks of an “anti-capitalist reification”, and I think that’s what we need to develop. It’s capitalism that poses as being anti-reification; it’s capitalism that presents itself as having dissolved all illusions and exposed the underlying reality of things. Part of what I’m arguing in Capitalist Realism is that this is an ideological sleight of hand; it’s precisely neoliberal capitalism’s ostensible demystifications (its reduction of everything to the supposedly self-evident category of the free individual) that allow all kinds of strange, quasi-theological entities to rule our lives. But I don’t think the aim should be to replace capitalism’s fake anti-reification with a “real” anti-reification. Reification can’t be entirely eliminated. I take this to be one of the important lessons that Lacanian psychoanalysis has to teach. Being a speaking subject at all involves a minimal reification; the big Other is coterminous with language itself. But this is very far from being a problem for the left. It’s the left that needs to insist on the reality of something in excess of individuals, whether you call it the “general will”, the “public interest”, or something else. When Mrs Thatcher famously denied the existence of society, she was echoing Max Stirner’s claim that all such abstractions are “spooks”. But we can’t ever rid ourselves of these incorporeal entities – neoliberalism certainly hasn’t. As I argue in Capitalist Realism, neoliberalism hasn’t killed the big Other – for who is the consumer of PR (which no actual empirical individual believes) if not the big Other? The point now – and I would affirm this forcefully, not tentatively – is to invent a leftist big Other. This doesn’t mean reviving authoritarianism; there is no necessary relation between the big Other and a strong leader. On the contrary, in fact, authoritarianism happens when there is a confusion between the big Other (as virtuality) and an empirical individual. What we need are institutions and agents that will stand in for – but cannot be equated with – a leftist big Other.

RW: You talk about the re-formatting of memory that is a symptom of capitalist realism, where history can be altered almost instantly (as in a Philip K. Dick novel) as we stand agog before the supposed ceaseless innovation of capitalism. You were also one of those to start using the concept ‘hauntology’, the idea that there was a cultural meme that acknowledged the collapse of a moment and picks through the remains for the lost futures buried within (it’s probably fair to say that Owen Hatherley’s Militant Modernism, the first Zer0 Book, is operating within this terrain). Similarly, we are in a political landscape littered with ‘ideological rubble’ (as you quote Alex Williams). My suspicion is that for you the ‘moment’ that has collapsed is the politics of ’68, one that was perhaps guilty of the re-formatting of history and memory in its own way, before many of its ideas were taken up by a post-Fordist capitalism. So what is the detritus that you are picking through? What of the discarded remnants of left politics would you dust off? And is it possible to give old ideas new momentum?

MF: I would say that, in many ways, the politics of ’68 haven’t collapsed enough. ’68 is a spectre which still hangs over theory. Yet the forces which ’68 railed against no longer exist; there is no Stalinist Party or State that we need to blow apart with a Cultural Revolution. Which isn’t to say that we should want to return to Stalinist authoritarianism, or that it is possible to do so; the oscillation between these two options is the sign of a failure of political imagination. It’s necessary to go all the way through post-Fordism, to keep looking ahead, especially at times when there seems to be nothing ahead of us. Part of the importance of the concept of hauntology is the idea of lost futures, of things which never happened but which could have. On one level, late capitalism is indeed all about ceaseless reinvention, nothing is solid, everything is mutable; but on another level, it is about recapitulation, homogeneity, minimally different commodities. Some of Jameson’s best passages are about this strange antinomy. Deleuze and Guattari, too, emphasize the way in which capitalism is a bizarre mix of the ultra-modern and the archaic. The failure of the future haunts capitalism: after 1989, capitalism’s victory has not consisted in it confidently claiming the future, but in denying that the future is possible.  All we can expect, we have been led to believe, is more of the same – but on higher resolution screens with faster connections. Hauntology, I think, expresses dissatisfaction with this foreclosure of the future.

So it’s not now a question of giving old ideas new momentum, it’s a matter of fighting over the meaning of the words “new” and “modern”. Neoliberalism has made it seem self-evident that “modernization” means managerialism, increased exploitation of workers, outsourcing etc. But of course this isn’t self-evident: the neoliberals fought a long campaign on many fronts in order to impose that definition. And now neoliberalism itself is a discredited relic – albeit, as I argued above, one that still dominates our lives, but only by default now. Part of the battle now will be to ensure that neoliberalism is perceived to be defunct. I think that’s already happening. There is a change in the cultural atmosphere, small at the moment, but it will increase. What Jim McGuigan calls “cool capitalism”, the culture of swaggering business and conspicuous consumption that dominated the last decade, already looks as if it belongs to a world that is dead and gone. After the financial crisis, all those television programmes about selling property and the like became out of date overnight. These things aren’t trivial; they have provided the background noise which capitalist realism needed in order to naturalise itself. The financial crisis has weakened the corporate elite – not materially so much as ideologically. And, by the same token, it has given confidence to those opposed to the ruling order. I’m sure that the university occupations are the signs of a growing militancy. We need to take advantage of this new mood. There’s nothing old fashioned about the idea of rational organisation of resources, or that public space is important. (The failure to rationally organise natural resources is now evident to everyone; and the consequences of letting the concept of public space decline are equally obvious to anyone living in Britain, with its violent crime and drunkenness, both of which are symptoms of a kind of despair that is as unacknowledged under capitalist realism as it is ubiquitous). Similarly, what is intrinsically “modern” about putting workers under intolerable stress? The pseudonymous postal worker Roy Mayall put this very well in his LRB blog:

We used to be told that there were three elements to the postal trade: the business, the customers and the staff, and that all were equally important. These days we are clearly being told that only the business matters. So now the ‘modernisers’ are moving in. They are young, thrusting, in-your-face and they think they know all the answers. According to them, the future is the application of new technology within the discipline of the market. But the market doesn’t tell us what to do: people tell us what to do. The ‘market’ is essentially a ploy by which one group of people’s interests are imposed on the rest of us. The postal trade is at the front line of a battle between people’s needs and the demands of corporations to make ever increasing profits. That’s what they mean by ‘modernisation’, and it’s not ‘nostalgia’ to remind ourselves that things used to be different.

But the fight will only be won when we can say with confidence, not only that things used to be different in the past, but that they can be different in the future too. I’m hoping that, before long, the neoliberal era will be seen for what it was: a barbarous anti-Enlightenment atavism, a temporary interruption of a process of egalitarian modernization.

RW: At the end of last year you edited a collection of essays, The Resistible Demise of Michael Jackson, brought out almost at the speed of John Blake Publishing! What was so important about Michael Jackson’s death that made you put such energy into this project?

MF: Yes, it’s rapid-response theory! There’s no doubt that Jackson’s death arrived at a punctual moment. A whole thirty year reality system had just collapsed with the bank bail-outs. Obama had been elected. There was no-one who personified that thirty year period more than Michael Jackson. In the few days after Jackson died, I found myself watching his videos over and over again. I surprised myself by moved from a position of detached cynicism to feeling increasingly sad. There was something in those videos – particularly the Off The Wall clips – which afterwards disappeared from Jackson personally and from the culture in general. So I listened to Off The Wall and “Billie Jean” obsessively. I probably listened to “Billie Jean” forty times, but it was like listening to it for the first time; there were depths to it I’d never got to before. I wrote a post on my blog which elicited some positive responses; and it struck me that the network around Zer0 – which includes many of the world’s music writers as well as theorists – was in an ideal position to produce a book that could deal with MJ as a symptom. Which isn’t to say that the book is some desiccated analysis that doesn’t engage with the sensuous qualities of Jackson’s music – there are some wonderful descriptions of the tracks and Jackson’s dancing. The book was put together very quickly, but I’m extremely pleased with the results. It was heartening to see what music writers can do when you give them space and let them pursue their interests. There are some pieces in the book – such as Chris Roberts’ and Ian Penman’s – that are so sui generis that it is difficult to imagine them appearing anywhere else.

RW: You’ve had a busy year, what with the blog, teaching, finishing a stint as reviews editor at The Wire, conference papers, marriage, Zer0 and the publication of two books – is it time for a rest now or will 2010 be just as busy?

MF: This is not the time for a rest. On a personal level, a rest is impossible. Most of what I do doesn’t make me much money, so I have to keep working at a furious rate to keep my head above water. On a wider cultural and political level, this is a highly exciting time, not a moment to be convalescing. This year, in addition to the teaching, blogging, freelancing and editing for Zer0, I will be putting out Ghosts Of My Life, which will bring together my writings on hauntology and lost futures; in some ways, it’s the other half of Capitalist Realism. There’s another big project that I’m involved with which I have high hopes for, but we’re not ready to go public on that yet.

RW: And finally, I hope it’s not too late to ask what were your favourite books of last year?

MF: Apart from the Zer0 books – and I’ve almost certainly forgotten something really important – they would be:

Fredric Jameson, Valences Of The Dialectic. A genuinely monumental work that I expect to be referring to for many years.
Graham Harman, Prince Of Networks. A stunning reinterpretation of Bruno Latour’s work that is also Graham’s most lucid account yet of his object-oriented philosophy
Jodi Dean, Democracy and Other Neoliberal Fantasies: Communicative Capitalism and Left Politics. Jodi’s sharp analysis of the impasses of the left is also a kind of requiem for much the 2.0 bluster of the last decade.
Slavoj Zizek, First As Tragedy, Then As Farce. Much more focused than some of Zizek’s recent books, this was a reminder of his supreme relevance to the current conjuncture.

RW: Thanks Mark.

Rowan Wilson (22/02/2010)
RSB-ROBOT
Copyright © 2002-2010 http://www.readysteadybook.com.

Turkish blog (via Object-Oriented Philosophy)

Actually I am from Cyprus, not that it matters much. And no, we haven’t communicated before. And yes, Cengiz is the Turkish form of Genghis. That said, thanks for the appreciation though.

I can't remember if I've previously noticed the MINIMAL VE MAKSIMAL YAZILAR blog before, out of Turkey. But it's run by Cengiz Erdem, and contains a lot of good stuff. (And by the way, is the name "Cengiz" the Turkish form of "Genghis"? Sure looks like it. I hope I haven't communicated with him before and simply forgotten about it; looks like the sort of blog I would have noticed before.) … Read More

via Object-Oriented Philosophy

Is Deleuze a Speculative Realist? (via Aberrant Monism)

At first it might seem he is. If Bruno Latour is on the right track with respect to speculative realism, as Graham Harman and others would argue, then it might seem that Deleuze is on the right track as well for there are a number of areas where their philosophies converge in significant ways – especially concerning events, multiplicity, and their embrace of an ontological monism. I cover much of this in Deleuze’s Hume. It would also seem that De … Read More

via Aberrant Monism

Eternity and Duration in Spinoza (via Aberrant Monism)

In the context of Spinoza’s famous letter to Lodewijk Meyer (Letter 12) where Spinoza lays forth the differences, as he sees it, between the infinite and the finite, substance and modes, Spinoza makes an important distinction between eternity and duration: The difference between Eternity and Duration arises from this. For it is only of Modes that we can explain the existence by Duration. But [we can explain the existence] of Substance by Eternity … Read More

via Aberrant Monism

Saramago is dead… Long live Saramago… Long live this sweet sweet love of life…

If you can see, look.

If you can look, observe.

FROM THE Book of Exhortations.

Blindness

The moral conscience that so many thoughtless people have offended against and many more have rejected, is something that exists and has always existed. It was not an invention of the philosophers of the Quartenary, when the soul was little more than a muddled proposition. With the passing of time, as well as then social evolution and genetic exchange, we ended up putting our conscience in the colour of blood and in the salt of tears, and, as if that were not enough, we made our eyes into a kind of mirror turned inwards, with the result that they often show without reserve what we are verbally trying to deny. Add to this general observation, the particular circumstance that in simple spirits, the remorse caused by committing some evil act often becomes confused with ancestral fears of every kind, and the result will be that the punishment of the prevaricator ends up being, without mercy or pity, twice what he deserved.

Blindness

…we’re so remote from the world that any day now, we shall no longer know who we are, or even remember our names, and besides, what use would names be to us, no dog recognises another dog or knows the others by the names they have been given, a dog is identified by its scent and that is how it identifies others, here we are like another breed of dogs, we know each other’s bark or speech, as for the rest, features, colour of eyes or hair, they are of no importance, it is as if they did not exist, I can still see but for how long.

Blindness

Doctor’s wife.

A blind man is sacred, you don’t steal from a blind man.

Blindness

Car thief.

…anyone who gets up early by inclination or has been forced to rise early out of necessity finds it intolerable that others should go on sleeping soundly, and with good reason in the case to which we are referring, for there is a marked difference between a blind person who is sleeping and a blind person who has opened his eyes to no purpose.

Blindness

…just as well that we are still capable of weeping, tears are often our salvation, there are times when we would die if we did not weep…

Blindness

Doctor’s wife.

As the saying goes, in the country of the blind, the one-eyed man is king, Forget about sayings, But this is not the same, Here not even the cross-eyed would be saved…

Blindness

Recalling the H. G. Wells saying.

Attention, attention, the internees may come and collect their food, but be careful, if anyone gets too close to the gate they will receive a preliminary warning, and unless they turn back immediately, the second warning will be a bullet.

Blindness

Voice over loudspeaker in mental asylum.

Perhaps only in a world of the blind will things be what they truly are.

Blindness

The Doctor.

…a longing to curl up inside herself, her eyes, especially her eyes, turned inwards, more, more, more, until they could reach and observe inside her own brain, there where the difference between seeing and not seeing is invisible to the naked eye. Slowly, ever more slowly, dragging her body, she retraced her footsteps to the place where she belonged…

Blindness

Doctor’s wife.

…for the authorities had no humanitarian scruples when rounding up the blind and confining them here, they even stated that the law once made is the same for everyone and that democracy is incompatible with preferential treatment.

Blindness

…for dignity has no price, that when someone starts making small concessions, in the end, life loses all meaning.

Blindness

Say to a blind man, you’re free, open the door that was separating him from the world, Go, you are free, we tell him once more, and he does not go, he has remained motionless there in the middle of the road, he and the others, they are terrified, they do not know where to go, the fact is that there is no comparison between living in a rational labyrinth, which is, by definition, a mental asylum and venturing forth, without a guiding hand or a dog-leash, into the demented labyrinth of the city, where memory will serve no purpose, for it will merely be able to recall the images of places but not the paths whereby we might get there.

Blindness

…just like everything else in life, let time take its course and it will find a solution.

Blindness

There’s no difference between inside and outside, between here and there, between the many and the few, between what we’re living through and what we shall have to live through…this must be what it means to be a ghost, being certain that life exists, because your four senses say so, and yet unable to see it…

Blindness

…you do not know, you cannot know, what it means to have eyes in a world in which everyone else is blind, I am not a queen, no, I am simply the one who was born to see this horror, you can feel it, I both feel and see it…

Blindness

Doctor’s wife, the only person who retains her sight through blindness epidemic, to her blind companions.

Inside us there is something that has no name, that something is what we are.

Blindness

Blind people do not need a name, I am my voice, nothing else matters…

Blindness

It is a great truth that says that the worst blind person was the one who did not want to see…

Blindness

On their way to the home of the girl with dark glasses, they crossed a large square with groups of blind people who were listening to speeches from other blind people, at first sight, neither one nor the other group seemed blind, the speakers turned their heads excitedly towards their listeners, the listeners turned their heads attentively to the speakers. They were proclaiming the end of the world, redemption through penitence, the visions of the seventh day, the advent of the angel, cosmic collisions, the death of the sun, the tribal spirit, the sap of the mandrake, tiger ointment, the virtue of the sign, the discipline of the wind, the perfume of the moon, the revindication of darkness, the power of exorcism, the sign of the heel, the crucifixion of the rose, the purity of the lymph, the blood of the black cat, the sleep of the shadow, the rising of the seas, the logic of anthropopagy, painless castration, divine tattoos, voluntary blindness, convex thoughts, or concave, or horizontal or vertical, or sloping, or concentrated, or dispersed, or fleeting, the weakening of the vocal cords, the death of the word, Here nobody is speaking of organisation, said the doctor’s wife, Perhaps organisation is in another square, he replied.

Blindness

The difficult thing isn’t living with other people, it’s understanding them.

Blindness

The Doctor.

…all the images in the church had their eyes covered, statues with a white cloth tied around the head, paintings with the thick brushstroke of white paint… that priest must have committed the worst sacrilege of all times and all religions, the fairest and most radically human, coming here to declare that, ultimately, God does not deserve to see.

Blindness

I don’t think we did go blind, I think we are blind, Blind but seeing, Blind people who can see, but do not see.

Blindness

Blindness, an allegorical novel about a mysterious epidemic of blindness that paralyzes a major city, was written by Portuguese writer Jose Saramago and published in 1995. Born on November 16, 1922, Saramago was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1998. He died on June 18, 2010.