Inhuman Already? Zombies, Vampires, and the Accelerationist Moment

In the Accelerationist Manifesto currently circulating, we find the following passage:

We believe it must also include recov­er­ing the dreams which trans­fixed many from the middle of the Nine­teenth Cen­tury until the dawn of the neo­lib­eral era, of the quest of Homo Sapi­ens towards expan­sion bey­ond the lim­it­a­tions of the earth and our imme­di­ate bod­ily forms. These vis­ions are today viewed as rel­ics of a more inno­cent moment. Yet they both dia­gnose the stag­ger­ing lack of ima­gin­a­tion in our own time, and offer the prom­ise of a future that is affect­ively invig­or­at­ing, as well as intel­lec­tu­ally ener­gising. After all, it is only a post-​capitalist soci­ety, made pos­sible by an accel­er­a­tion­ist polit­ics, which will ever be cap­able of deliv­er­ing on the promis­sory note of the mid-​Twentieth Century’s space pro­grammes, to shift bey­ond a world of min­imal tech­nical upgrades towards all-​encompassing change. Towards a time of col­lect­ive self-​mastery, and the prop­erly alien future that entails and enables. Towards a com­ple­tion of the Enlight­en­ment pro­ject of self-​criticism and self– mas­tery, rather than its elimination.

One of the things that disturbs me about the rhetoric of “posthumanism” or “inhumanism” as a political strategy (rather than something like Laruelle’s non-standard humanism, which I am inclined to prefer) is a certain stunning lack of consciousness about the forms in which such a kind of post- or in-human politics (and subjectivity) is already here.  If we look around us, “post-corporeal,” even “post-affective” forms of subjectivity, grounded on the “completion” of the Enlightenment project of “self-criticism” and “self-mastery,” are far from missing.  These forms may be parodies or perverse dark precursors of what accelerationists are really looking for, but in that case there is much more conceptual work to do.  (For those with the patience to read this long post to the bitter end, you’ll see that what follows is not meant as a cavalier dismissal of accelerationist impulses but an invitation to just that conceptual work). Continue reading “Inhuman Already? Zombies, Vampires, and the Accelerationist Moment”

Indradeep Ghosh on Theology of Money

My collaborator Indradeep Ghosh, who is an MIT-trained macroeconomist who has made a profound and radical transition over the course of his career, to what is now a heterodox and deeply polysemic approach to economics, is currently posting a chapter-by-chapter commentary on Philip Goodchild’s Theology of Money, a text that was the subject of a major book event here at this blog several years ago.  I think his reading will be instructive for anyone interested in the economic endgame and ideological farce of the neoliberal hunger games.  Read, hear, and inwardly mark.

Life Undead and Resurrected

“What is outside the cosmos the sage locates as there but does not sort out.  What is within the cosmos the sage sorts out but does not assess.”

“No one lives longer than a doomed child.”

–Chuang-tzu

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If there is one theme in The Hermetic Deleuze:  Philosophy and Spiritual Ordeal that I think causes the most ambivalence for myself, and for contemporary philosophy, it is the possibility, today, of conceiving thought—any thought, whether hermetic or rationalist—as some kind of affirmation of life. Continue reading “Life Undead and Resurrected”

Conscious Complicity at the Crossroads: A Response to Jacob Sherman’s “What’s at Stake in Hermetic Reterritorialization”

Unlike explanation, the symbol is the identity, the encounter, of the sensible object and the object of thought.  The sensible object is called symbol, and the object of thought, losing all signification, is a hieroglyph or a cipher.  In their identity, they form the concept.  The symbol is its extension, the hieroglyph its comprehension.  Whereupon the word “initiated” takes on its full sense:  According to Malfatti, the mysterious character of mathesis is not directed against the profane in an exclusive, mystical sense, but simply indicates the necessity of grasping the concept in the minimum of time, and that physical incarnations take place in the smallest possible space—unity within diversity, general life within particular life.  At the limit, we could even say that the notion of the initiate is rationalized to the extreme.  If vocation defines itself through the creation of a sensible object as the result of a knowledge, then mathesis qua living art of medicine is the vocation par excellence, the vocation of vocations, since it transforms knowledge itself into sensible object.  Thus we shall see mathesis insist upon the correspondences between material and spiritual creation.

Gilles Deleuze, “Mathesis, Science, and Philosophy” (Collapse III, Ed. Robin Mackay, Falmouth:  Urbanomic, 2007, p. 151)

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What happens when a tradition has to be radically modified, and immediately modified?   A certain ancient tradition of initiation calls for a fire, but the land on which the initiation must take place is suffering from drought and the danger of wildfire is too great.  Yet the initiation must take place.  Those leading the ritual process discern that the initiation will take place, this time by water.  On what basis is this discernment made?   What principle legitimates the change?   The very fact of having to make such a decision seems to violate the tradition, to place oneself outside its gift, to alienate one from its power.  What is the passage, the “pass” (Latour’s term) by which such a tradition others itself, differentiates itself, becomes more itself as it becomes more than itself?   I do not have a direct answer to this question, which is somehow, between the lines, what I suspect Jacob Sherman has asked of me.  I suspect that my confrere Matthew Haar Farris, who conveyed to me this problem in painstaking detail, may have more to say directly about it, than I can.  All I can say, here, is that such crossroads increasingly define tradition, for me, rather than being seen as in any sense external to traditions—philosophical, religious, aesthetic, magical, or simply democratic. Continue reading “Conscious Complicity at the Crossroads: A Response to Jacob Sherman’s “What’s at Stake in Hermetic Reterritorialization””

The Nonstyle of Misknown Nonnaming: A Response to Anthony Paul Smith’s The Misknown Desire of the Philosophers: On Evaluation and Hermeticism

“The project of creating in a secular culture an institution that can manifest a dark, hidden reality is a contradiction in terms”

(Susan Sontag in Antonin Artaud: Selected Writings, Edited by Susan Sontag. Translated by Helen Weaver. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1976, p. xlv)

The tense relation between philosophy and hermeticism (increasingly, in my work, “hermeticism” is a generic term for the “spiritual sciences”) is a kind of double-cross. There is a kind of conflicting and twice-over short circuit between necessity and contingency that binds and blocks these two levels or modes of apprehension. On the one hand, philosophical concepts are grounded or founded upon a putatively universal appeal, an appeal to what would be or might be necessary for anyone with reason to assent to. On the other hand, there is the contingency of the perspective from which any such an appeal is made. I have argued in the book that philosophers themselves do a lot of work (and have a lot of work done to themselves) at the level of their perspective, having it shaped by a distinctive but often suppressed or unexpressed spirituality, a set of disciplines or practices that inform and potentially transform their explicit or stated concepts. (This is, incidentally, what the entire opening of Deleuze’s book Nietzsche and Philosophy is cryptically about).

Continue reading “The Nonstyle of Misknown Nonnaming: A Response to Anthony Paul Smith’s The Misknown Desire of the Philosophers: On Evaluation and Hermeticism”

Of Cruelty and Vulnerability: A Response to Dan Whistler’s “The Hermetic Critique of Deleuze”

By the end of his brilliant set of reflections on Deleuze’s very late work, and my own reservations (shared with many others) about the direction and tone of that work, Dan Whistler takes the risk of asking me some extremely blunt questions. He asks, if I perceive his explicit and implicit intentions, 1.) why I decided to write the book, at all, 2.) whether I perceive Deleuze to have either failed in or betrayed his own (disavowed yet on my view undeniable) hermeticism, and 3.) whether I might have been better off, in view of Deleuze’s possible failures and/or disavowals, having adopted a different starting point for thinking through the stakes and possibilities of contemporary hermetic iterations. If I am critical of Deleuze, that is, from an hermetic perspective, what should he have done, or said, and what might I still have yet to say or do that might re-iterate my questions and problems differently, with or without the company of Deleuze and his many concepts and multiple investigations?

Continue reading “Of Cruelty and Vulnerability: A Response to Dan Whistler’s “The Hermetic Critique of Deleuze””

“Nature, driven out through the door, will come back through the window”: A Reply by Joshua Ramey to Rocco Gangle’s “A Shield, a Scepter, and a Crown: Enlarging the Circle of the Natural.”

The actual is contingent in this respect in the sense that the tools with which we think are products or deposits of semiotic relays that cannot by their very nature possess any intrinsic necessity. It is not that they could be otherwise, but that as they are, they are otherwise than necessary. This presents a purely positive characterization of contingency that does not depend upon either the negation of necessity nor the possibility of negation in general and is on the other hand not reducible to the arbitrary. Signs that are contingent in this sense possess a dimension of objective indeterminacy that is a function of the power of their semiotic character.

(Rocco Gangle, “A Shield, a Scepter, and a Crown: Enlarging the Circle of Nature”)

Why is it so hard to talk to those to whom we are closest? Is it nature, squirming and skirmishing against itself, avoiding the prospect of collapse into indistinction, as its creatures occasionally verge on the identity of indiscernibles? Or is it culture, equivocating (at) us through signs, exerting its law of metonymic drift? When do the Ravens belong to Odin, and when to Baltimore, and what, really is the difference, when Beyonce dresses and dances a look raven-worthy, and the lights go out in Voodoo, USA, exactly at the magical 13th minute and equally potent 22nd second, as in the 22nd and final tarot arcana, The World, lights out? But now, thanks to Rocky, the question can change, because we see, in an uncanny flash, that this series of contingencies belong to sign Raven as otherwise than necessary, and the problem is not how any two ravens can communicate (let alone how they can be the same), but why it is so easy, so effortless, so fluid in relay, for raven to make itself ever more indeterminate, ever more redolent, ever more resonant, ever more and yes, never more, thank you Edgar Allen Poe, I heard you. So it is not hard, actually, to talk to those to whom we are closest, as long as we admit that with those one is closest to, or those one also is, there is both nothing left (out) and everything (yet) to say. Continue reading ““Nature, driven out through the door, will come back through the window”: A Reply by Joshua Ramey to Rocco Gangle’s “A Shield, a Scepter, and a Crown: Enlarging the Circle of the Natural.””