On the Occasion of the Ordeal: A Response from Joshua Ramey to Dan Barber’s “Experimental Life and Ordeal’s Necessity”

Joshua Ramey was moved to respond to Dan’s post immediately and that response follows below – APS

First I would like to say how grateful I am for the opportunity to respond to these comments about The Hermetic Deleuze.  Those of us who are able to write academic books, and there are many of you following this blog who write those books, know that it is, in the end, a solitary and even an isolating affair, and that even with publication the chances that one’s work will be noticed or responded to are slim.  In this age of increasing destitution and de-investment in higher education, blogs like this one are becoming more and more important as places for those of us compelled by these thoughts can meet and take our chances together.  Each of the writers who have agreed to respond to my book are people whose work I deeply admire, and the opportunity to continue to think with them, and with those of you who read and respond to that thinking, is an extraordinary occasion in my life.  Continue reading “On the Occasion of the Ordeal: A Response from Joshua Ramey to Dan Barber’s “Experimental Life and Ordeal’s Necessity””

‘We Dance These Beasts’: Capitalism, Animism, Believers of the Future

“Here we see more distinctly the structure of ‘animism’ haunting Deleuze’s ontology: under the spellbound conditions of composition, notes become birds that become souls. Notes do not represent but become horse steps, bird flight, or lovemaking. But this transmutation only occurs because in this process horses, birds, and love enter into new assemblages, and on that basis become something new, as yet unknown.” (158)

“Techno and jungle beats, for instance, are as much the untamed rampage of buffalos and the eerie longing of hyenas. We dance these beasts not to comprehend something, to understand the ‘spirit of our times’, but to connect the digital and the animal in an obscure filiation, out of step with the times, untimely with respect to the slaughter of animals and police-statist use of technological onslaught.” (160)

It’s not always a strange practice, to wear animals. We are, arguably, animals bound up in the leather of our own strange skin. It is more odd, admittedly, to imitate hoofed creatures and strap on the leather of a shoe. Or to double our skin with the leather of a coat. Or to shear the soft wool from a lamb’s body and weave it into a web that wraps around us a like a cocoon. Then again, we might think of these costumes as forms of protection. What is most uncanny (at least on the surface), for many of us in capitalist America, is the practice of wearing an animal whose carcass does not disappear: the fur coat. There are vegans who refuse to wear any leather at all. But, for those who cannot go quite so far, ascetic restraint seems to begin with the undead shroud that is the fur coat. Is this a gesture of solidarity with other creatures, against the rapacious teeth of the garment industries and the cult of fast fashion? Or is it a gesture of denial that sanitizes our public spaces, casting a hygienic light on death’s shadow?

Continue reading “‘We Dance These Beasts’: Capitalism, Animism, Believers of the Future”

Experimental Life and Ordeal’s Necessity

“How would the eschatological ethos of a transformed people be, per impossible, the ‘lived reality’ of immanence?” (25)

“Some kind of mediation may play a genuinely constitutive role in [Deleuze’s] system, even if the redemptive function of such mediators is not something Deleuze explicitly theorizes. … those who belong to this series of humorous avatars would index the contours of viable experimental life.” (215)

There is no such thing as a philosophy without a practice of reading. This is to say not only that philosophies, in being received, are bound to a reading practice, but also that philosophies themselves, insofar as they are produced, have reading practices as part of their causal nexus. This may be obvious, but it is something worth reflecting on given that our image of thought—where this thought is imagined as being philosophical—tends not to include reading practices. Or, at the very least, it tends not to include reading practices in the way that other images tend to include them. Consider, for instance, the differentiation of philosophy and religion: it is much easier to imagine religion as including reading practices than it is to imagine philosophy as including them. I would even venture that part of the reason for the occlusion of the constitutive role of reading practices in philosophy has to do with philosophy’s interest in differentiating itself from religion. Continue reading “Experimental Life and Ordeal’s Necessity”

Introduction to The Hermetic Deleuze Book Event

Today we start our book event on Joshua Ramey’s recent The Hermetic Deleuze: Philosophy and Spiritual Ordeal. Many of our readers will have noticed that our book events have changed their format over the past year, but for those who are unfamiliar with our book events I thought a few remarks on why we do them would be useful before then turning to a few remarks on the book itself.

The purpose of these events is to highlight recent texts that we feel are making an important contribution to the field that we inhabit, which might be described as a liminal space between philosophy and theology proper, but that also includes religious studies, scriptural criticism, literary studies, and so on. When we originally began these events we would ask our authors to write summaries of the books followed by a short paragraph that would hopefully generate discussion. However, we have moved to something that I think is a bit more substantial. Our authors now are asked to simply respond to the texts in whatever way they see fit within the confines of what a blog can do as medium. This gets closer to the spirit of what we are trying to do with the events. Since the people we ask tend to be very involved within the discipline, producing their own highly original work, this freer engagement allows them to think of how this thinker fits or challenges the work they are already undertaking, it creates a conversation about the work that picks it up and moves beyond just the work itself. In short, we get a true, if virtual, symposium on the work.

Many of our readers, though, will not have read the texts we are discussing, though we hope and invite you to do so. For the sake of those who have not we provide a short synopsis of the text that will help them at least get the basic contours of the text so that they can follow the discussions of the main post authors. Joshua’s introduction to the book, “The Secrets of Immanence“, lays this out very clearly, and so we are happy that he has made that available to our readers. What I will do here is simply situate the text in recent scholarship of Deleuze and explain some of the reasons I think the book will be of interest to many of our readers.

Continue reading “Introduction to The Hermetic Deleuze Book Event”

The Hermetic Deleuze Book Event Announcement

Today I woke up to a very good review of Joshua Ramey’s The Hermetic Deleuze: Philosophy and Spiritual Ordeal [UK] by Dorothea Olkowski at NDPR, which seems as good of a reason as any to announce the schedule for the upcoming event on the book. [It’s been pointed out to me now that today is actually Deleuze’s birthday, so fortuitous in a number of ways. – APS]

We will be starting on January 28th with a chapter-by-chapter summary of the book, as our respondents will not be summarizing individual chapters but responding in whatever way they see fit. For those who can get the book, I’d highly recommend it, but the summary should help you to orient yourself in our discussions.

The respondents will then be as follows:
January 29th Daniel Colucciello Barber
January 31st Beatrice Marovich
February 2nd Rocco Gangle
February 4th Daniel Whistler
February 6th APS
February 8th Jacob Sherman