I woke up to the strange experience of one of Graham Harman’s famous passive aggressive posts, though instead of aimed at young graduate students, this time it was directed towards me and an abstract for an upcoming lecture I’ll be giving in Dublin. It starts with the great line “I’m not trying to pick a fight with Anthony Paul here” and then goes on to try and pick a fight with me by writing, “Smith has wagered his whole career on being “the Laruelle guy,” and I guess he has a vested interested in airbrushing any nuance out of the picture [of the relationship between Laruelle and Speculative Realism]”. Alright, so those of us who haven’t been hoodwinked by Latour litanies or a form of Husserlian phenomenology presented in a pedantic form are kind of used to these occasional passive aggressive bullying outbursts from Harman. The bullying rhetoric from OOOers of various stripes functions in the same way each time, beginning with some proclamation of good intention followed incredibly insulting remarks before then putting the onus of the bullying on the one subjected to the bullying by claiming that it is in fact they who scream at them. It used to bother me when I read this kind of stuff and not just from Harman, but at this point I find it more tiring than anything else and so I frankly don’t want to follow in Brian Leiter’s bullying footsteps either (“John, if it’s war you want, you’ve got it!“). So, let’s see if I can just explain what’s going on with this lecture and maybe respond to a few of the more insulting remarks because, well, they were insulting and I tire of Harman’s unchecked bullying.
Since EUP has been pretty generous in the amount of copies they’ve given me I thought it would be nice to give a copy away. So, email me (anthonypaul.smith(at)gmail.com) with the subject line Laruelle Giveaway by on the 25th of this month and on the 26th I’ll randomly choose a winner.
First let me say that, while this post will likely come across as confrontational, I do have a respect for Harman, particularly for his intellectual energy and literary output. I’ve never met him and can’t count him a friend, but I have corresponded with him on a few occasions. I must admit that his philosophy and politics (or lack thereof) leave me cold. A bit of context: my dissertation of 2001, which became my first book in 2004, is an analysis of networks as political systems, so I feel I have a lot to say about the topic of objects and networks. I’m also a computer programmer and, similar to someone like Ian Bogost, have actually coded the kind of object-oriented systems that OOO describes. (To his credit Harman rejects this association, claiming that “his” OO has nothing to do with computer science’s OO. But that’s a flimsy argument in my view, particularly when the congruencies are so clear. As Zizek might say, channeling Groucho Marx: if it’s called a duck, and quacks like a duck, don’t let that fool you — it really is a duck!) Continue reading “A response to Graham Harman’s “Marginalia on Radical Thinking””
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””
Alexander R. Galloway has prepared a translation of one of Laruelle’s shorter, aphoristic texts entitled “Theorems on the Good News” [warning pdf]. I’ll be using this for the Laruelle eSeminar when we talk about religion, but for those who don’t want to delve into very long pieces, perhaps this short, if enigmatic, text will be of interest.
I realize I haven’t posted anything non-Laruelle (ha!) related for some time now, but I figure my adventures with teaching are basically what every new American university lecturer deals with and so may not be of interest. While I’ve been experiencing some writer’s block in relation to a few ecology pieces I’ve been trying to write for Environmental Critique, and the only other things I’ve wanted to write lately have been snarky remarks on other blogs. While sometimes entertaining, this is not an entirely healthy exercise. So, for now, all you get from me is material related to Laruelle. (I still am accepting people to the e-seminar, so far we have 16 signed up. I figure I’ll cap it at 25 or 30.) Continue reading “Some Short Remarks on Théorie générale des victimes and Translation Announcement”