I was once described as a "beautiful, intelligent iguana".
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A quick double reflection on nihilism:
(1) the introduction to this Nietzsche reader I’m looking at notes that nihilism functioned as an irreversible ‘event’ for Nietzsche. If we pick up this thread, that nihilism forms a contemporary event, then it has (at least) two different forms or stages: (a) the more culturally-based form of nihilism that typifies Nietzsche’s approach and is summarized in the ‘death of God’ and (b) the scientific-rational nihilism of Brassier, which sees the point of the enlightenment as a fundamental disenchantment of the world. This split marks why the former is some kind of idealist while the latter is some kind of realist.
(2) if nihilism is defined as the ‘meaninglessness of life’, then we’ve failed to adequately characterize nihilism because we’ve only focused on the lack of meaning and not what is meant by this ‘life’ which is lacking. Towards this end, Thacker’s done good work, but I think it needs to be linked up to nihilism (especially since his goal is to clear space for a ‘critique of life’, which could perhaps focus on its stupid meaninglessness - why not?).
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…nobody, it seems, is prepared to dump the system that writes 7,654,321 in place of seven million, six hundred fifty- thousand, three hundred twenty-four; the unwieldy prolixity here is too obvious to ignore. But why stop at numbers?
Brian Rotman - Thinking Dia-Grams
Seriously, this essay is so good. Holy crap.
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Before Newton’s laws were discovered, they were not ‘true’.
Heidegger - Being & Time
This is the kind of absurdity that arises by Heidegger reinscribing truth into the existential Being of Dasein and why it should probably be avoided.
Wouldn’t it be better to say that the truth of Newton’s laws was being continually rediscovered in the interactions between bodies outside of human science, in the way that they ‘uncovered’ principles of gravity through those interactions, and that Newton, as a Dasein, was simply bringing this already actualized relation into the sphere of human ‘assertion’ and ‘knowledge’ - i.e. Newton brought a truth of nature into human intelligibility, but that truth (not it’s expression) existed before him?
It’s more wordy, but a lot more accurate I think.
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…the proposition that ‘Dasein is in the truth’ states equiprimordially that ‘Dasein is in untruth’.
Heidegger - Being & Time
You sober people who feel well armed against passion and fantasies and would like to turn your emptiness into a matter of pride and an ornament: you call yourselves realists and hint that the world really is the way it appears to you. As if reality stood unveiled before you only, and you yourselves were perhaps the best part of it—O you beloved images of Sais! But in your unveiled state are not even you still very passionate and dark creatures compared to fish, and still far too similar to an artist in love? And what is “reality” for an artist in love? You are still burdened with those estimates of things that have their origin in the passions and loves of former centuries. Your sobriety still contains a secret and inextinguishable drunkenness. Your love of “reality,” for example—oh, that is a primeval “love.” Every feeling and sensation contains a piece of this old love; and some fantasy, some prejudice, some unreason, some ignorance, some fear, and ever so much else has contributed to it and worked on it. That mountain there! That cloud there! What is “real” in that? Subtract the phantasm and every human contribution from it, my sober friends! If you can! If you can forget your descent, your past, your training—all of your humanity and animality. There is no “reality” for us—not for you either, my sober friends. We are not nearly as different as you think, and perhaps our good will to transcend intoxication is as respectable as your faith that you are altogether incapable of intoxication.
Friedrich Nietzsche, “To the realists,” The Gay Science, §57 (via darkvvaste)
This is one of the passages I was talking about a while ago that was making me rethink OOO.
Not because this passage is anti- (or non-)realist, but because no OOO writer would disagree with anything in this passage. They’d make fun of these naive realists in the exact same manner. Given that, I’d have to question: what exactly is so ‘realist’ about OOO? Given that question, I’ve just realized how reactionary OOO is; not because it’s “complicit with capitalism” or whatever, but because in its ideological positioning of itself as ‘breaking’ away from previous philosophy, it covers up its connections to that philosophy and its radical politics.
Heraclitus as strategist, combat philosopher: Heraclitus says that all things become fire, but is precisely not thinking of a universal conflagration, which he leaves unthought as the nothing of nihilism, showing nihilism necessarily self-overcome or overcome by what is unthought in it, in the local fires that unite the peoples of the earth.
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Serenity is merely a kind of armistice between irreconcilable impulses
Klossowski - Nietzsche and the Vicious Circle
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towerofsleep said: I think you're making this more complicated than it has to be. I'm pretty sure one of the basic tenets of OOO is that basically all "French theory" is correlationist and stuck within language. I think Derrida is maybe a more explicit target than Foucault, but I assumed that the unspoken message of Harman's books is "you were doing it wrong yall" and "let me fix it for you" in a tabula-rasa, let's-start-over way. Which is why he pisses a lot of people off, no? (I still haven't read Meillassoux.)
[Sorry for making this public, I hope you don’t mind. I just thought it was useful to share. If you want me to take it down for some reason, though, let me know.]
I’ve actually been thinking about this a lot lately and have been meaning to write something up about it [I will do something more in depth at a later point, I think]. I think the reason that reactions to OOO and Speculative Realist stuff is so polarized (most everyone I’ve met either LOATHES is or is TOTALLY PSYCHED for it) is because of how it presents itself as a ‘break’ away from previous (specifically ‘french postmodern’) theory. I think that’s why they appeal to Badiou and Zizek a lot, because they’re seen as being ‘beyond’ that stuff too.
But they’re really not a ‘break’ away from it at all. I was reading Nietzsche saying something about ‘realists’ the other day (the “To The Realists” paragraph that begins book 2 of The Gay Science, if you’re curious), and he keeps on listing beliefs that realists have - a belief that the presence of an object corresponds to it’s being, a belief in the power of ‘common sense’, a belief in ‘objective reality’ that is both static and can be known through scientific reasoning - and all I could think was “OOO [at least] is directly opposed to every one of these values”. So then I started thinking: what’s so ‘realist’ about OOO then? It’s opposed to all everything that the ‘naive realists’ believe in, and simply swallows a lot of previous theory from the past century but then adds “but objects exist!” In that move, then, it’s really conservative - it wants to have all the progressive gains of theory from the past ~50 years, without identifying with any of it explicitly (note: a lot of this questioning is born from me wondering what Harman’s relationship to Deleuze is - I know he took a seminar class on ATP in graduate school, and he opens Tool-Being with a quote by Deleuze from D&R, so there’s something there. But then again, Harman’s new book that he marketed as a collection of essays discussing his relationship to other philosophers, is painfully silent about his relationship to any ‘postmodernist’. There’s just a gaping lacunae there - he refuses to talk about it).
So, yeah, I think you’re right, that’s the element that pisses off a lot of people about OOO. But I think Levi Bryant at least has shown some reasons for why OOO is important, at least on some level. The focus on multiplicity, on difference, and the debasement of Truth (while all awesome!) in ‘postmodern’ theory have led to a kind of cultural value of relativism (note how this is different than ‘cultural relativism’), which is really bad for politics on a lot of levels. I think Latour illustrates this nicely when he talks about how his neighbor thinks he’s the ‘deluded’ for believing that 9/11 was carried out by ‘terrorists’ (or at least, not by our own government). And yes, all this relativistic stuff is based on really bad readings of ‘postmodern’ thinkers, and the ways those readings have trickled into pop culture at large, but it’s a legacy we have to deal with now. We need to start thinking and discussing politics in a way that allow us to make bold statements like “global warming is caused by human actions” while incorporating all that we’ve learned from French leftist theory (and leftist theory otherwise). And I think OOO is at least a first awkward attempt at trying to find some way of doing both at once, but because it keeps on relying on this posturing of ‘breaking away’ from previous theory, it’s really reactionary.
All this considered, I think Meillassoux, with the exception of Grant because I haven’t read him, is the only one of the original Speculative Realists to have (possibly?!) offered a new orientation and position for philosophy (and I’ll add an aside for Adrian Johnston too, but that’s just because I’m hopeful for his trilogy on materialism that’s coming out). Harman is just a puffed up Heideggarian (but a puffed up Heideggarian that I like), and Brassier’s just a cranky guy who thinks he’s above all contemporary theory (he’s does the similar “break” move - his claim to brilliance isn’t unfounded though). Meillassoux at least takes the original step of saying that we can know the Absolute, at least one thing about the world ‘as it is’ or whatever. But this ‘as it is’ is exactly what a lost of ‘postmodern’ thinkers were talking about in terms of difference and multiplicity and all that - hyper-chaos and the necessity of contingency. So he’s actually able to synthesize both those elements that I was takling about above - we can still be critical deconstructionists, critiquers of systems of power, and lovers of rhizomes, but we can also (cautiously, tentatively) appeal to scientific facts (because scientific facts point towards a ‘Truth’ of the ‘as it is’, but that ‘Truth’ is contingent and could change at any moment). So maybe that’s why I’m so interested in Meillassoux, because I think he offers at least the possibility of finding a way out of this problematic stance a lot of theory has backed itself into (that makes it useless in terms of praxis, that makes it such a good place for a-political academics to spend their lives ‘deconstructing systems of power’ or whatever).
All this is to say: yeah, you’re probably right. I probably am overcomplicating this.
P.S. If you’d like a quick intro into Meillassoux just to see if it’s up your alley at all, look up the essay: “The Immance of the World Beyond”. It’s like ~30 pages and a short read, and a good introduction to Meillassoux and covers all of his thought (even the more recent stuff about the ‘spectral dilemma’).
P.P.S. Sorry, this went overboard.
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Can anyone explain to me what Derrida is referring to or pointing at when he’s talking about the hymen? I ask because I’m fairly sure he’s using it as a metaphor of sorts, but I don’t know how he’s using it.
I know he develops the concept (supposedly) in Dissemination, and he’s working in this book as if the reader had already encountered his use of hymen before, so I thought I’d ask.
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Nietzsche, as is everywhere evident in his texts, is a thinker big with thought. He is the thinker of pregnancy which, for him, is no less praiseworthy in a man than it is in a woman. Indeed one might imagine Nietzsche, who was so easily moved to tears, who referred to his thought as a pregnant woman might speak of her unborn child, one might well imagine him shedding treats over his swollen belly.
Derrida - Spurs/Éperons
This goes really well with Deleuze’s thing about ‘buggering’ and a ‘pregnancy from behind’ or whatever the line was.
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