Thursday, March 7, 2013

Theses on Materialism and Ontology, the intro text for SAIC's thesis publication

I. Materialism as a whole is a question of the present. This is meant in two senses that are intimately related. On the one hand we may ask, “what does it mean to be in the present?” This is a question of time. On the other hand we are confronted in experience with that which is present to us. This, conversely, is a question of space. From the traditional Kantian perspective time is the internal quantitative limit of the subject. Change is the substantive quality of time, in the sense that the subject can account for time only through an internal register of change. It follows that we are nothing more than a formal series of changes predicated by the I, or ego, a multitude immanent to the I in the form of memory. Space, on the other hand, is the ideal external limit. It is a given multitude; given in the sense that the external is made present for us. These presumptions have determined our common sense perspective on space and time for much of modernity. The two concepts represent formal epistemological limits through which experience coheres as a whole. Nonetheless, it begs the question, are time and space necessarily bifurcated and independent?

II. The history of materialism occurs in two great moments: first as empiricism and second as physics. Through empiricism, reality is no longer imagined as the relationship between substantive matter and immaterial Idea. As such time and space are the loci of aesthetic sense. Time is the serial presentation of space in the present. Under these conditions of thought, it is no longer sensible to demarcate the two categories. We do not experience the present as that which has occurred already, as the tip of a given multitude, projecting into an ideal future—a future that is the past plus its potential. Nor is space an independent general limit of a multitude of objects. Instead the past and future converge in a concrete now-time. With physics the sensory-aesthetic character of spacetime was proven to coincide with scientific models. Time becomes a dimension of space, by which the behavior of time modulates with the scale of space. Depending on the velocity of an object and its relative position to the observer the effect of time transforms. We are now faced with a complex revolution in thought, “what is the character of this now-time?”

III. In general, philosophical reason has been supplemented by science. This is unsurprising given both the explanatory power of its propositions and total integration of its objective realization as technology. The resultant ideological perspective is scientism, which defines the belief that there is no useful way of thinking outside of science. It is important to realize that a meaningful method of materialism is not the same as scientism. At bottom a rigorous empiricism treats any given fact as a tendency of the present, which is open to change and revision. In this way science and scientism are at odds. The history of philosophy contains a latent tradition of materialism, that remains unrealized. Specifically in the work of three philosophers, Spinoza, Whitehead and Deleuze, we find a description of spacetime in ontological, rather than epistemological terms. What is evident in their work is that it is unnecessary to treat the limits of scientific knowledge as analogous to the limits of actuality. More radically, it is unnecessary to equate human knowledge with truth. The image of reality as a totality of facts is supplanted by reality as a field of problems.

IV. It is essential that philosophy take up the problematic character of the present. As Deleuze describes, we are not faced with a representative totality of facts, but rather a multiplicity of sense, stated as a problem. Thus the breaks between scientific fact are not the limit of thought, but instead the spacetime of thought, in itself. For Spinoza the real is simultaneously a universal whole and an infinitely modular set of parts. Any proposition should be read through this lens. That which is present to us is both an image and a concrete organization of matter. Our problems have a degree of reference to an organization of matter, and a potential sensibility as an image. For instance we may describe a problem of military violence. The problem both references an actual state of affairs and an image of its potential characteristics. The image of reality then has a probabilistic relation to the state of matter. Where a problem articulated in the present may create an image that appears impossible given the present organization of matter, in time it may actualize itself over and against the possibility of the present. Only when thought is taken up as a means to create the impossible out of its own image can we begin to face reality. Materialism is a way to both initiate and master the crisis of our present, of our now-time. But we must act decisively, for our participation in reality is dependent upon our being as matter, a problem as of yet unforeclosed, yet imaginable as such.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Thesis excerpt on "Propositional Triangularity"

"It is essential that philosophy overcome that which has benighted it. The common critique of language, one which centers the relativist theoretical system, is focused upon two objects that are often conflated: identity and representation. In truth, identity and representation have a triangular relationship with the proposition, each determined by their presentness. In materialism it is always paramount that we return to the present and in doing so get back to the matter of a given state of affairs. A proposition refers to an identity, and this identity occurs as an event with more or less accurate fidelity to the proposition. This relationship inheres whatever the syntax or grammar of the statement; it is the concrete context of 'truth-value' in the logical sense. The representation also relates to the proposition in this elliptical way, it is an image with no relationship to the concrete context of the proposition. An image as representation has value only in its potential to be imagined. Thus the proposition relates with its representation with a degree of sensibility. What is most often mistaken in the critique of language is the relation between representation and identity. For the materialist identity is immanently differential, in the sense that an identity is simply the metastable value of a series of identities transforming over time. As such the representation as a potential has a probabilistic character in relation to the identity. A representation that lacks sense at one time may be actualized in the future through a transformation of identity. For instance in early science it was proposed that we inhabited an Earth centered universe. Innumerable complex mathematical explanations were produced to describe the movement of celestial bodies, these formed a field of representational images with a probable degree of actualization. As the truth of this observation degraded, new propositions generated new representations (with varying degrees of sensibility in relation to the proposition). Eventually the sensibility will give way to new representations as former images degrade into non-sense or actualize as objective sensual events. This is what is meant when Deleuze differentiates between the virtual and the actual; matter exists as a singular state of affairs which occur as an event, and have a concrete existence in the present. The representation has a probability of actualization, which relates it with actuality over time, disallowing the representation to ever be a representation in the conventional idealist sense of the word. Language as such always carries with it a substantive relation to the world. It is not the world itself, and like any other means of relating, is constitutive of the peculiar embeddedness of humans in reality. It is counter productive for the materialist to treat language in a privileged way, as all characteristics of reality must be simultaneously differentiated by analysis but also synthesized into the whole."

While this excerpt focuses upon language, this analysis may easily extend to the entirety of human objective relations. Human activity operates upon an imaging and a contextual evaluation; the act constitutes its meaning over time through the future relation between the act in itself, and its relation to the imagining of the act's effect and value. The virtual and actual are the relation between the probable actualization of the imaginary and invisible with the concrete complex of objective sense, which determine future complexes of objects and relay with  the sensibility of the image. Obviously there is a third element, which is signification; but this cannot be addressed until I evaluate history, symbol and the internal-external character of the object. Which I will post soon.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Conversation II and the representational content of "99%"

I had another excellent conversation today, this time with some men I met in Dunkin Doughnuts. They were each commenting on the economy, on its causes and on our general lack of understanding of esoteric content of politics. For the sake of those in need of an image, these were two older black gentlemen, one with a slight African or Carribean accent. Just before I had been spending time with a friend, talking about certain things while remaining silent about others, it was a consistent sort of speaking. When he left, I sat in Dunkin Doughnuts nursing a coffee until my 8:30 train came, next to these two men.

One was quite astute about absent average understanding of tax laws. He laid out a clear set of ideas surrounding the tax laws. His thought was that we take necessary loans, the FED sets interest rates and the government and banks collude to produce a surplus. 'There is never not enough money, have you seen those sheets of money coming out one on another, they can just print it.' There is a direct materialism in this. Money is an actual object whose representation is modified by its actual circulation; this creates inflation wherein a set of necessarily independent institutions take this real circulation and abstract it into a revised value. The transition between these abstractions actualizes itself as a new relation between money and goods. Given the apparent closeness of goods, especially necessary goods to the West, is consistent with his disregard for 'economics professors...a load of bullshit.'

But soon his conversation diverted; it was not simply the economic situation at hand and its modulations in history, but the Jews that produced this fact, whom for him have a direct coercive relationship with black people. He points to the music industry, to banking, etc. The basic sentiment is true. Banking and business in general have enacted racist, or at best socially indifferent methods--predatory lending, loan offices; and the racism of the music industry and its use of blacks to reproduce American economic principles, trapping artists in crippling contracts and a lack of protection for its cash cows--everyday I miss Sly Stone--equally involves the culpability of the industries.

Nonetheless, I had to intervene, which is rare for me outside classes, given my shyness. I said something like, 'there is nothing Jewish about what you describe, if there are a Jews behind this, they certainly don't do it out of their Jewishness. Blacks should identify with Jews, these are races who have both had repeated violence enacted on their being of some origin, and before that they were not even recognized as humans. And what about Martin Luther King? He was steeped in rabbinical studies.' Then the other man chimed in, 'now you can talk about it being about being everyone's problem, just money, like you're the 99%...' to which I responded, "I have nothing to do with that movement." And immediately the conversation opened up, he spoke of TIFF funds, needing about 10,000 bodies to stop G8, various changes in income laws, Rahm's destructive relations with Unions.

For this reason the 'Occupy' protest methods are implicitly flawed. They produce a transcendental category, the "99%" by which they bestow upon themselves an inhumanity which had previously been forced upon others. There is an appropriation of a visceral and violent experience which most never get, now worn as a badge of pride and moral superiority. However horrific things are in Oakland, its use as material for political transformation is plainly self-contradictory. The violence is very easily taken into a narrative form, identical to media practice. Take for instance the image of the beautiful young woman bruised by whatever object, the 'two tour veteran wounded by the police'. These are methods used by the most base media outlets to coerce viewership and interest, but only in the mode of entertainment. The movement has shown the media savvy of a corporation.

This is in no way a justification of the police behavior in Oakland. Every non-violent political practice has protection from violence Quid Juris. However, the police are an essential function of public life, and the range of their authority is explicit and extensive. While these images of police violence may initiate those who are unaware of its extent and essential force; those who have direct experience of local politics, of discrimination, of the prison system, and of most of all, of police brutality will find it more difficult to experience themselves as part of a 99%.

Heidegger says that a thing or truth is 'unconcealed' as it 'presences' itself; as one intuitively experiences an object, the object autonomously presents an aspect of itself to the subject. The economic reality was unconcealed at a time after it had been machinating below the surface, concealed or appearing only in prophetic flits. It was unconcealed in a natural way, as the abstract concepts of corporations began to fall in on themselves--Enron, the "dot com bubble" among others. But Heidegger also notes that any unconcealing includes a concealing aspect. A way in which some aspect of the thing is hidden, or, worse yet, simulates the appearance of something else. The media conceals extensive economic thought because it is itself corporate, and therefore a large portion of information is effectively hidden. But the "99%" simulates the actuality of our political situation. While the media is the consistency and form of concealed truth, the "99%" is the representational model which acts on this plane, and alters the consistency of the media. The media requires an object to create narrative content; the notion of the "99% "and its implicit problematic, resign its concept to being a simple representation in collusion with corporations, all the while reducing the basic proposition about our political situation. That there is a huge economic disparity between different groups of people in the country is the natural predisposition which justifies the "99%"; but time, history and empirical account demonstrate a much more heterogeneous and singular form of discontent that is outside of our present.

The police first and foremost should be asked to change their tactics, quite simply. The "Occupy" movement has a much more difficult task. How to find a sign immanent to the motivations and histories of the movement; one which opens the movement to more heterogeneous participants as well as acknowledging its own finitude and crisis? How to convert passion and desire into planning and enacting? These are difficult questions that will likely take many more articles to begin to answer, but we all must start if we aren't interested in playing the game that we naturally critique. There is no good protesters and evil police, backed by evil corporations an evil politicians. But instead indifferent subjectively motivated protests related axiomatically to a police presence. The result is dependent on specific factors by which one can assign blame or goodness and badness, to whatever degree they wish. What separates corporations and politicians from the evil, aside from its impossibility, is that American democracy and world capital operate in a corrupt way that is natural to power. Natural corruption is implicit to natural freedom, but we must end our own freedom, ex post facto, the moment at which we realize our own dominance. The end is in simply affirming our right to police politicians so that they may police corporations. We must destroy the stupidity of the media first and foremost so that we no longer sit idly as the problem develops, and can have the foresight to predict the next fall of our economy, be it capitalism or any given name.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

New thought about Deleuze. The naive tendency is to interpret him as pre-critical and ontological.  I get a different reading from his works.  His metaphysics and ontology is one of pragmatic relations and, as such, describing Being as unfolding through combinatory and transversal events. Ontology is then an indifferent ordering of chaos and a description of an object's dissimilarity of itself in time.  This is essentially an epistemology of the ontological tendency of our thinking. It is not that a given ontology is real, but rather that it produces a specific sort of ordering out of which one must evaluate its conceptual consistency, interpret the sense of its thought-events and construct its immanent prephilosophical image of thinking.  This is critique in the Nietzschean sense.  A critique of value as constituted by the prephilosophical image that determines our common concepts.  They become uncommon only insofar as we ontologize critically about ontology.  An immanence communicating with others in the midst of implicating itself in this whole game of thinking. Deleuze's greatest move is to present the most powerful aspect of philosophy as its own construction of that which precedes it but does not exist. It offers philosophy to anyone who thinks things through fully, and recognizes the natural philosophical tendencies that generate our place on earth.

...just thinking out silent.

Deleuze from Difference and Repetition

I have begun reading Eric Alliez's Signature of the World ~or what is Deleuze and Guattari's Philosophy? and the introduction includes a great quote from difference and repetition that essentially inverts and negates my commentary on Foucault--or rather, since I do not so much as believe Foucault as much as don his mask in parody, it clarifies a difference that I was trying to draw but couldn't.

"A new Meno would say: it is knowledge that is nothing more than an empirical figure, a simple result which continually falls back into experience; whereas learning is the true transcendental structure which unites difference to difference, dissimilarity to dissimilarity, without mediating between them - not in the form of a mythical past or former present, but in the pure form of an empty time in general."

It is not that knowledge extrapolates from humanity and enacts itself outside of humanity, but rather that learning is a normative process which extrapolates from knowledge an axiom or law, by which the differential aspect of an object is excised and reduced to the continuous formal time of the transcendental subject.  I have to look for this page directly, because I cannot tell if this is said as affirmative of transforming Meno with this new thought-event, or rather in critiquing the tendency to treat knowledge as a transcendental. I assume the second.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


I had a great conversation today.  Synchronously I am reading What is Philosophy?, in which  Deleuze describes a 'thought-event', by which the Greek prephilosophical consistency and its philosophical concepts are conjoined.  The figure he uses is that of "the friend", as in the Socratic 'friend of wisdom'. The question for him becomes what is the relation of friend to friend, in philosophy. It is one of rivalry and claim.  The friends become claimants of a mutual wisdom, through which their bond inheres; they are rival in their claim to this mutual intensity.  I bring this up because of my actual conversation.

The major proposition became that there was a certain betrayal in Deleuze's making this prephilosophical field itself textual, thereby recapitulating it into a series of reproducing texts--an accrual of information upon itself. Not in a Derridean sense in which one accepts the fact of text as truth, divested of content outside of its interpretation; but rather the whole process of text, the economy of academia and its competition make any attempt at a text an impossibility without reinscribing transcendence.  Text begets text, text establishes a network of texts--this texts can feign intensity toward objects but they also resist it. I called this Bergsonian and he said, 'Bergson did it too'.

And this is all so real to reading and living out philosophy. This pathos of self-contradiction and self-questioning; of taking something to its maximum and being left to say, 'what force has appropriated me, prior to this freedom.' And the problematic becomes, when a philosophy lays out a prephilosophical field as its presumption, when will philosophy be unnecessary? Is it the end of Deleuze that you forget him and this whole game once and for all?

The friend had suggested that we must master the language of a thinker and then immediately forget it, or at least that was his imperative.
And so as a friendship, what do we mutually lay claim to?  An absent object.
What is our rivalry?  A rivalry of our own historicity.
No! The energy came from none of this.
It was a tit-for-tat; a parry and a one-two-two-four-seventeen.

I said near the end. We are really on divergent paths, 'I am moving in a direction that is more concrete'; he replied, 'no, it is more complicated'.  That is true.

Friday, October 14, 2011


Drugs and alcohol are something so strange.  For a moment one chooses life in them.  There is a moment of self-affirmation, a 'me against the outside'.  Why feel this, why experience this when I can experience something else?

As Kant says, and Deleuze is one of the few to note this; time is the auto-affection of the subject.  Kant says, 'space affects us and through time we affect ourselves'.  Well drugs are at the limit of this auto-affection. How to absolutely transform the time emerging from us?  How to grasp the time once appropriated by private suffering--by our own personal suffering and internalization?  But soon time becomes a hell.  It becomes a wait or a search for something to bare this load. How to get it next, how to acquire the proper means.  Maybe its once you cannot remember a prior mode or state of your body.  Or when the world comes to take on all the qualities of your muscles, emotions and thinking.

The drugs become their own force and take you up in them.  You are grabbed up by their hand and dropped somewhere else. Anyone who has used consistently knows what I mean; you sit up, look around and ask, "where am I?"  And it is just as he says in this.  The limit is a non-identity, the end is the "penultimate".  We identify or desire an end, but we stop only at the point which will allow us to continue on the next day.  And then we really stop when everything breaks below us and the bottom falls out. Today things must change!  But not always in our own voice. Although often of the choir of voices.  A friend's voice in one's own voice, or one's own as the mother or father, etc.

This is why I am so skeptical of OOO's thesis that time emerges from objects.  What does this mean?  That the heroin is the emergence of its slowing of time, that it has this time as a property?  That use of acid at such and such a time has that historical moment emerging from it, in itself?  "This is only a manner of speaking," one has to say. Rather any object may have some internal relation within itself that is it's private means of translating the world; of grasping transformation.  Maybe if that internal process includes a brain, it also may include time.  Animals can do drugs, I have seen first hand...but can they say "today things must change"?