The Principle of Sufficient Theology: Some Remarks on “Theology and Non-Philosophy”

My copy of The Non-Philosophy:Project: Essays by François Laruelle arrived in the mail yesterday. Up front I will admit that I have been nervous about this volume, since generally I think it is safe to say I’m part of the inner-circle of some kind of non-philosophy cabal and so tend to hear about projects related to non-philosophy. But, I knew basically nothing about this volume other than one of the editors is a theologian and that it was coming out with Telos Press Publishing and this made me very nervous since I consider Telos essentially a right-wing press, often publishing or supporting right-wing Christian political theologians work.  But that said, I was happy to see that Ray Brassier, nowhere near a right-wing Christian and often quite critical of Laruelle’s work, appears to have had a heavy hand in the volume. That suggests to me that the translations are at least excellent and though many of the essays were previously available on-line or in journals, it is nice to have a set of the occasional essays that have been floating around for a bit now. Some readers will be especially happy to see that a chapter from Introduction au non-marxisme is also included, so that will be a preview of the larger book that I’m translating and which should be out in early 2013. Continue reading “The Principle of Sufficient Theology: Some Remarks on “Theology and Non-Philosophy””

Future Christ: A Lesson in Heresy UK Release

Officially the UK release of my translation of François Laruelle’s Future Christ: A Lesson in Heresy (Amazon: UK, US [pre-order]) was last week, but it didn’t feel real to me until I received a physical copy today. Continuum has posted a preview of the book online. This is the first time I’ve seen the endorsements, which you may read below. I’ve said a lot about this book so I won’t say much here except that it feels very good to have a physical manifestation of all the work I did.

Future Christ announces and enacts The Last Good News, as a non-Christian Heresy and a universal non-religion are conjoined to call forth a new Messiah or a new Humanity which is the new Christ. Laruelle here thinks philosophically and theologically to enact a universal rebellion realized through a heretical science, and if this book is above all an enactment of the heretical imperative, it not only brings a whole new meaning to heretical thinking, but sanctions it as that thinking which is now most our own.” – Thomas J.J. Altizer

“This lesson in heresy is a programme for thinking as a decent human being, thinking according to the victim each time a worldly description turns out to be a denunciation. At once Gnostic in its unlearned knowledge, heretical in its separation from the world, and Christian in its appeal to universal salvation, it performs a radically immanent struggle in the name of a future Christ that could be each and every one of us. Learning yet diverging from the centrality of the Shoah for modern thought, Laruelle makes a distinctive contribution to the political redeployment of a messianic motif.” – Philip Goodchild, Professor of Religion and Philosophy, University of Nottingham

Heresy and the Godhead

I was quite taken with Laruelle’s calling forth of the heretical imperative in the Future Christ but disappointed with the actual heresies that he evoked, and this awakened me once again to the ultimate importance of heresy to which so few of us are open. Despite the fact that Arianism has been the most popular and pervasive of all heresies, it is not really interesting as a heresy except in its most radical expressions such as Milton, leading me to distinguish between a lighter heresy and a heavier heresy, the latter almost invariably a deeply heretical knowing of Godhead itself, such as occurs in Spinoza and Hegel. Now just as Spinoza is a far deeper heretic than is Leibnitz, and Hegel the deepest heretic in his world, Milton and Blake are the deepest heretics in the world of English literature, and yet Hegel, Milton, and Blake are all profoundly Christian. Of course, the theological world doesn’t know what to do with great heretics of this order, but at the very least they are an overwhelming challenge to faith, and to the deepest faith. Continue reading “Heresy and the Godhead”

Adventures in Translating: Final Reflections on Translating Future Christ

The last week was spent dealing with the final typeset proofs and compiling the index for  Future Christ: A Lesson in Heresy (Amazon: US, UK). This means that all my work on this project is done it is completely in the hands of Continuum now. It brings to a close a project that I started last summer (after the months of waiting on the French publisher for the rights and then all the business to do with contracts) and that I’ve tried to occasionally document here as adventures in translating. I would have liked to write more, but the actual work of translating while co-editing another book, translating two public talks by Laruelle while organizing one of the events, and working on my dissertation took precedent over any reflection. I simply didn’t have the energy to step outside the situation; I had become a proper worker. Continue reading “Adventures in Translating: Final Reflections on Translating Future Christ

Adventures in Translating: Agonizing over Particular Words

I’m nearing the end of the translation and my deadline is fast approaching for Future Christ and I’ve been struck by a certain phrase that is very central for the book. The phrase was the one that first hit me when I read the book two summers ago on a long bus ride from Paris to Nottingham. In French it is l’Homme-en-personne. As Ray Brassier’s project, which he describes as a transcendental nihilism, has been a singular influence on English language reception of Laruelle’s project I at first assumed there was some kind of kenotic element to this phrase. A kind of “Man-as-nobody”, emptying the concept. But this didn’t seem to really fit the tone of the book, which didn’t strike me then as sharing in the nihilistic orientation of Brassier, nor does it now (which isn’t to say that Ray’s work isn’t valuable for understanding Laruelle, it really is). Thus I played around with reading it as “Man-in-anyone”. But I didn’t know if that quite captured it either. I note that others have felt a similar confusion as evidenced by  Noëlle Vahanian’s review of the edited volume ThéorieRébellion [warning PDF], which includes an essay by Laruelle using this concept, translates it both as  “man-as-anyone” and “man-as-nobody”. I emailed Laruelle about this question and he explained that he sees the term between the individual and the human race, a kind of species-being or proletariat or “function of humanity” that stands between the universal and the particular without mixing them. He ruled out the “nobody” idea and thought perhaps the “anyone” would work, but didn’t seem to think it was the final word on it. I’ve been translating it as “Man-in-person” but I’m still not sure this is the best way to go about it. I think it holds this radical immanence of the universal and the particular, but I’m not sure that this is so obvious to someone reading it. I thought I’d ask the readers of the blog to tell me what they think. Man-in-anyone or Man-in-person – what feels best when you read it?

Adventures in Translating: Deciding between Equally Valid Translations

First, I want to say thank you to everyone who made suggestions in the last post. It was all very helpful and interesting. Secondly, a general thank you to the great response these posts have received. I wasn’t planning on making this a regular feature, but because it has been helpful to me and interesting to readers it has turned into, at least, an occasional feature.

Since gnosis and Gnostic systems are a dominant material suspended from their own self-sufficiency, or in more familiar language, since Laruelle makes use of gnosis and Gnostic systems I have been reading up a little bit on them. Mainly reading through a few of their scriptures, inspired by the having to track down the epigraph, and by reading Hans Jonas’ synthetic introduction The Gnostic Religion: The Message of the Alien God and the Beginnings of Christianity. I have been familiar with the popular understanding of Gnosticism, mainly as a dualistic religion that Christianity rightly put down, and have some schooling in the Church Fathers’ writings against various gnostics and Gnosticisms, and some regrettable interactions, from my first years as an undergraduate, with contemporary attacks on gnostic trends in contemporary thought from the likes of neo- or paleo-conservative thinkers like Eric Voegelin and David Bentley Hart. Reading Jonas has proved a very interesting, if only because, next to Laruelle’s exciting but very abstract writing, his writing is incredibly clear and lucid and because it shows a very different, that is more sympathetic, reading of Gnosticism than what I’ve encountered before.

This research has also been helpful generally with regard to the translation, allowing me to get a sense of how some words are already used in literature on gnosticism (already having that background in Christian and Jewish thought). It can’t be emphasized enough how important this kind of knowledge is when translating. Continue reading “Adventures in Translating: Deciding between Equally Valid Translations”

Badiou on not understanding Laruelle.

Ben Woodard, student at the EGS and specualtive realist partisan, has scored an interview with Alain Badiou. I’m glad Badiou is feeling better as he was unable to attend the Film-Philosophy conference at Dundee and I’m also pleased to hear that he is is apparently not currently on a mountain in the middle of France as he, allegedly, always is, or at least that’s what the email explaining he had a very violent bladder infection said. Anyway, comedy aside, it is interesting in that it gets one of the great living philosophers to comment on a new, popular philosophical trend. Ben, after Badiou says something about the Real in relation to Meillassoux, asks Badiou about his thoughts on Laruelle.

Continue reading “Badiou on not understanding Laruelle.”