Wednesday, April 6, 2011

This blog (for the few who’ve read it) has been a place to put up rough drafts for essays I wrote for two independent studies I had this year. Any responses I’ve received were used to help me clear up/edit the writing for formal papers. It’s been a place to gather up my ideas and to have independent study professors check the logic of the ideas before it went to a formal paper. It’s helped with my writing in general because these rough drafts were sort of meta-rough drafts making the formal work I did much better than if I didn’t write these drafts. That being said, I won’t have another independent study until the summer (end of June). I think I will still continue to use this space for rough drafts in the future. For now though, it’s break time. I set up a Tumblr account at: which is going to be much more fun for everyone (including myself). The idea is basically the opposite of this blog. Instead of reading long winded rough drafts, About You will specifically be pithy, but still substantial (sometimes). Everyone likes reading quick posts. With that in mind, this blog really has no intention of being anything other than a testing ground for ideas. For those who have read these testing-ground posts, there will be more when I start the next independent study this summer. For everyone else who don’t have the time to digest long-winded (and mostly unnecessary) theory, About You will be much more fun and easy/quick to read. I look forward to it. I will eventually be back on here, but will be having much more fun on the Tumblr space.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Truth of Extinction; Enlightenment and Extinction, Conclusion


Freud's concept of the death-drive found in Beyond the Pleasure Principle can be said to have a philosophical analogy in the concept of the "will to know." This death-drive that we elaborated on with the help of Brassier in the last post showed us the curious nature of the human being that mentally repeats it's traumatic events in order to muster the anxiety required to buffer the shock of any future traumatic event. While Freud's reasoning in Beyond the Pleasure Principle made this phenomena less curious, it still seemed strange for any organism to constantly relive a state of anxiety regardless of any possible shock that may occur in the future (notice how futural time here plays the pivotal role in creating anxiety. It's here where Heidegger as a psycho-theorist works best rather than a philosophical critic that makes claims like "science does not think" for example). Beyond the patient, the philosopher can be said to reappropriate the death-drive in their incessant drive to know. From this, we can understand that the will to know is a drive to death. We will come to understand this in the conclusion of Enlightenment and Extinction. This is important because Brassier isn't grounding the enlightenment of extinction simply on the solar catastrophe he refers to in Lyotard's account of the suns incineration, but on the mental phenomena of the repetition of trauma, and it's philosophical analog in the drive to know. In this sense, I think it would be erroneous to classify him simply as a "nominalist." He has engaged in the theoretical constructs of Dasein rigorously while also engaging in the scientific-material conditions of the universe. This engagement is rigorously sincere to me. This sincerity will lead us to faithfully understand Enlightenment and Extinction. Lets then try to understand as faithfully as possible the analog of the death-drive in the will to know. Much beyond the responsibility to the author is an opportunity for discovery. The only thing holding one back from taking this opportunity is the fear of extinction.

" is precisely the extinction of meaning that clears the way for the intelligibility of extinction. Senselessness and purposelessness are not merely privative; they represent a gain in intelligibility. The cancellation of sense, purpose, and possibility marks the point at which the 'horror' concomitant with the impossibility of either being or not-being become intelligible. Thus, if everything is dead already, this is not only because extinction disables those possibilities which were taken to be constitutive of life and existence, but also because the will to know is driven by the traumatic reality of extinction, and strives to become equal to the trauma of the in-itself whose trace it bears." This explanation of the lack of purpose for being is at a distance from the commonly understood classical existentialism. One isn't simply "left with nothing" because extinction is absolute. On the other hand, one is precisely "left with nothing" because of extinction. The import for Brassier is not to take on a state of consternation, or apathy because of this extinction (notice the taking on which I hope to distinguish from an enlightenment of extinction where nothing personally is being taken on) . Being "left with nothing" need not be existentially symbolized. This existential symbolization is certainly a possibility but one that is relative to symbolic being. Instead, this "gain in intelligibility" that occurs with the enlightenment of extinction does not have to be understood as an affirmation of being's existence, nor an ethical impulse for political freedom. Simply put, the enlightenment can occur completely independent of the subject that it happens to. The concept of "horror" is specifically quoted by Brassier in order to reapporpraite what was once understood as horror into a non-existential connotation. What was at once horrific is now simply understood (thereby losing its "horrific" element). This move past the ontology of being towards a "pure" epistemology loses it's horrific element then. Horror happens to the ontologically invested. Again, this is one possibility; the possibility of an epistemological ontology. Extinction then disables what we can understand as "vital ontology." What was once to be taken as constitutive of life (Aristotelian: growth, or Heideggerian: temporal dying, for example) is now understood through the enlightenment of extinction. We understood this in the last post through Freud's discovery of the death-drive and Brassier's appropriation of the death-drive in cosmological repetition. This enlightenment of extinction is specifically epistemological though, meaning a matter of knowledge. In this sense, it wouldn't be inaccurate to see Brassier as an idealist because of his thinking that thought can come to understand extinction. This idealism is simply not ontologically invested. This thinking, this will to know is always a reduction. Every attempt to know is an attempt to "get at the bottom of things," and when it appears that there is ostensibly nothing more to discover, this sense of "horror" (existentially understood) finds that the will to know was a will to get at nothing. The act of incessant reduction simply discovers itself as an operation of incessant reduction to discover nothing. This nothing is specifically understood philosophically as the "in itself." The will to nothing forms a trace of the "in itself" that's nothing other than its own drive. The philosophically understood "in itself" then is the trace of nothing as the recognition of its own drive to know. But this "in itself" need not be understood philosophically, meaning unitarily in order to establish a "sufficient philosophy." The will to know can simply borrow verbiage from philosophy and use it tyrannically. It would be tyrannical in the sense that it need not feel the compulsion to reference the historical inception of the concept. In this sense, the "in itself" understood non-philosophically could be called historically irresponsible from the philosophical perspective. It's here where the "pure" epistemological break with ontology simply doesn't recognize the classical gestures of philosophy, philosophical gestures that we can say are historically ethical. The use of a concept without reference to its historical inception is closer to what is called "the real," because an expression happens without the ethical responsibility towards history. In this sense, what is called "the real" happens every time something is stated without reference to context or pretext (It's with this in mind that it's not so odd to see how ethical of a thinker Derrida was, broadly speaking). The trace then of the "in itself" is not an ethical drive, but a tyrannical drive to know itself as its own drive. In the drive to know nothing ("in itself"), concepts are used and disregarded at will.

"In becoming equal to it, philosophy achieves a binding of extinction, through which the will to know is finally rendered commensurate with the in-itself. This binding coincides with the objectification of thinking understood as the adequation without correspondence between the objective reality of extinction and the subjective knowledge of the trauma to which it gives rise. It is this adequation that constitutes the truth of extinction. But to acknowledge this truth, the subject of philosophy must also recognize that he or she is already dead, and that philosophy is neither a medium of affirmation nor a source of justification, but rather the organon of extinction." The death-drive as the will to know for Brassier becomes equal to what is understood as the "in-itself." When seeking something called the "in-itself" what is found is the will to know. This understanding of the will to know is without end because it seeks nothing. It seeks nothing in the sense that it incessant reduces "substances," and in doing so finds something that is epistemically nothing. Thinking then is understood as the "reality of extinction," and the "subjective knowledge of trauma" experienced by a subject without any correspondence between "reality," and "subjectivity;" in other words, without causality between "reality" and "subjectivity." The will to know resembles extinction, and is experienced traumatically by the subject. There is no experience of extinction, and there is an experience of trauma. Subjective trauma and the reality of extinction are absolutely different, but thinking is understood by both concepts. When one acknowledges this truth, one must acknowledge that their thinking is a trace of nothing. In this sense, one is passively in death. In the act of knowing, one is already dead, because the drive to know is knowing nothing. Death is the knowing of the nothing that already happens. If philosophy is the will to know, it's not the static affirmation of something, nor the justification a subjective trauma it may experience. It's the "organon of extinction." We can say that it's "death as text," or "the textual form of death." What we learn here is that while death may have different forms, this has nothing to do with the absolute reality of extinction, not only on physical-material grounds, but on the grounds of what is called "subjectivity." What is called "subjectivity" is not alive but always dead. Because nothing takes on a different form, in this case of what's called "subjectivity," doesn't mean that it's not driven towards its own extinction. What we can say then is that there are different forms in which death always happens, none of which are alive if they are always grounded in death. Death has different ways of happening and repeating itself. It's these different ways of happening and repeating itself that are open to speculation. The question is: how are different forms always dying? Every question put forth to philosophy then is always a will to know nothing. This text of the drive to know nothing is philosophy. Within nothing, discoveries are always made with no end in sight. These discoveries with no end in sight don't have to take on the possibility of "existential conundrums," and/or "political consequences" for example. If the will to know is always the will to know nothing, then there are no "existential conundrums" because there is no meaning to be desired in the will to know. But what if a form of nothing doesn't follow its own drive? If Dasein as a form of nothing stops driving to know, then what is happening? How is it? How does a form stop its extinctive drive. It's crucial to allow these questions to happen without any pejorative adjectives in its questions. If one is faithful towards their own drive, there will be no room for the personality that would allow for the pejorative disposition. In other words, the death-drive is without ideology. As a preliminary question, it can be asked: "How does control happen to the extinctive drive?" How does the drive break? Maybe more pointedly, does the drive take a break, and if so, how does it take a break.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Cosmological Death-Drive; Enlightenment and Extinction, Part 11

Ride the death drive. An organic experience of entropy.

In opposition to Deleuze and Heidegger's ontologies, Brassier casts Nietzsche's will to power reappropriated as the will to nothing which we discussed in the last post. The will to nothing becomes extended and more specific through Freud's concept of the death-drive found in his groundbreaking work Beyond the Pleasure Principle. Brassier will want to extend the concept of Freud's death-drive into a cosmological framework, meaning an explanation of how organic life always tends towards it's entropic and non-organic nothingness. It's an extension of Freud's original concept in the sense that Brassier will find exact scientific phenomena to represent the death-drive beyond being, most specifically in the suns incineration roughly 4.5 billion years from now. First though, I think it's important to understand Freud's concept of the death-drive and Brassier does this wonderfully. We won't be understanding Freud on our own terms as if we had more authority to speak on the subject than Brassier (even if we did). Instead, we will let Brassier speak for himself regarding the concept of the death-drive. This will help us understand the initial concept of the death-drive and will also help is in understanding this concept within a cosmological context. The concept of the death-drive is one of the most important philosophical insights of the 20th century. It's something that confounded Freud before and during the Beyond the Pleasure Principle text. Freud though was never someone to stop a reduction when in the process of understanding anything (which makes him more of a philosopher than a psychoanalyst.) The understanding of the death-drive within the context of ontology will serve as the grounds for understanding it through the context of cosmology. Only when we can wipe away our teleological presupposition of vitalism can we come to grips of the sense of the death-drive concept. Brassier will help us with Freud, and then we can fully understand the farther reaching extension of arguably Freud's most important work.

"The phenomenon that motivates Freud's investigation in Beyond the Pleasure Principle is that of traumatic neurosis. The latter gives rise to a 'compulsion to repeat,' wherein the sufferer compulsively relives the traumatic incident in his or her dreams. Yet if the function of dreams is primarily that of wish-fulfillment, in conformity with the pleasure principle, which strives to maximize pleasure- where pleasure is defined as a diminution of excitation - and to minimize displeasure - where displeasure is defined as an increase in excitation- then traumatic neurosis poses a problem for psychoanalysis because it resists explanation in terms of the pleasure principle: why is the patient compelled to relive a shatteringly unpleasurable experience?" When Freud confronts traumatic neurosis in his patients, he's confounded by the fact that the patients repeat the traumatic event(s) that happened to them. This is at odds with what Freud preliminarily called the "pleasure principle," which simply put means that beings are driven to pleasure. What beings are driven towards in this classical concept of the pleasure principle is fulfillment of wishes. Beings wish and hope things for themselves and the pleasure principle defines beings in terms of the drive to attain the things they ideally wish and hope for. They are driven by their dreams. It's important to understand more specifically how Freud understood pleasure. Pleasure was firstly the drive to attain ones wishes. But more specifically, it was the "diminution of excitation" and an "increase in excitation." So contrary to the idea that pleasure would mean that one would be overly excited, pleasure is the diminution of excitation. In other words, the more placid one would be would signify a more maximal state of pleasure. This is important to highlight because it can be seen that someone who's overexcited is ostensibly experiencing "pleasure," whereas for Freud, this anxiety was neurotic and not pleasurable. That being said, how come patients were reliving their traumatic experiences not only in their dreams, but in their non-dream states where images would float into someones mind of the traumatic experience. Why was there a temptation and curiosity to relive something that was painful? In general, how is this perversity possible (How is a fetish possible?)? If Freud's patients, and anyone in general relives traumatic events either in dream states or non-dream states, then how much of the pleasure principle is really a principle? This is what leads Freud to write Beyond the Pleasure Principle and give an answer to the repetitive acts of trauma in his patients. Brassier writes, "Freud's answer is that through this repetition, the psyche is striving to muster the anxiety required in order to achieve a successful binding of the excess of excitation released by the traumatic breaching of its defenses." The psyche of the patient then is driven to continually allow anxiety to enter into their psyche in order to successfully bind to the original excitation of the traumatic event. The psyche is driven to equal the anxiety that was originally caused by the traumatic event. The psyche is driven to match the anxiety of a traumatic event. Why does it do this? "The compulsion to repeat consists in an attempt on the part of the unconscious to relive the traumatic incident in a condition of anxious anticipation that will allow it to buffer the shock, thereby compensating for the impotent terror that disabled the organism and staunching the excessive influx of excitation brought about by a massive psychic wound." The patient then repeats the traumatic event in their mind to "buffer the shock" of another hypothetical traumatic experience of the same kind. By repeating a traumatic event in ones mind, any new traumatic event won't be new to it. The patient will already have something in their own mind that they have experienced over and over again by the neurotic repetition of anxiety that drives to equal the hypothetical future traumatic experience. Any future experience of trauma will be staunched because the patient has relived the anxiety of trauma so much that the actual experience of trauma will be nothing new. The patient then is always in a state of anxiety anticipating a traumatic event. The patient can't know if the traumatic event will happen again or not. All that matters to the subconscious mind of the patient is that something traumatic has happened and could happen again, and the patient believes the traumatic event will happen again. If they didn't, they wouldn't hold in anticipation for something they know wasn't going to happen (just because it happened before). "The excessive influx of excitation brought about by a massive psychic wound" will be matched by the subconscious repetition of anxiety it knows will happen to itself, even though it may very well never happen again in reality. They key for the subconscious is to buffer shock specifically. Shock is the traumatic experience. Anxiety is a diminutive form of shock. It's a livable form of shock. One will never be shocked if they're always in a state of anxiety. If the subconscious keeps repeating the anxiety of a traumatic event (a trace of the traumatic event), no shock can happen to it because it constantly keeps shocking itself in smaller, more livable degrees than the initial shock that happened to itself. But for however much shock is buffered by the subconscious repetition of anxiety, this repetition of anxiety is anything but the pleasure principle. If the pleasure principle is defined as the diminution of excitation, then the drive to relive a trace of a traumatic experience is not a pleasurable drive. It's not a pleasurable drive to keep exciting oneself into small states of anxiety. If the preliminary concept of the pleasure principle given by Freud was to be an axiom for the operation of the subconscious, then the subconscious would simply forget about a traumatic event, and wouldn't feel the need to relive it in small states of anxiety in order to staunch massive excitation caused in a shock. The subconscious would say to itself: "because it happened once, doesn't mean it will happen again." If the subconscious said this to itself, it would do the opposite of repeating a traumatic event. It would end the traumatic event in the assertion that one event doesn't mean that the same exact event will happen again, or even more simply, that one event doesn't cause another event. In Freud's thought in Beyond the Pleasure Principle though, the subconscious is overwhelmed by the wound of the traumatic experience to rationally be able to reason with itself. It's here where the rationality of conscious life can take hold of the subconscious' death-drive proclivities by consciously reasserting to oneself that "I will always be shocked by something." This negates the subconscious drive to relive a traumatic experience in order to buffer a hypothetical future one because one is always constantly aware that something "shocking" can happen. Instead of constant bubbling anxiety, there's an acceptance of the constant possibility of traumatic events. Shocks will come and die away. In this sense, conscious life is retraining the ostensible function of the subconscious defined in Freud's death-drive to accept shock as something that will always happen, instead of letting one shock fester to shield from a hypothetical future shock. This is a digression from the post, but something I will want to explore later.

Brassier states "If the death-drive qua compulsion to repeat is the originary, primordial motive force driving organic life, this is because the motor of repetition - the repeating instance - is this trace of the aboriginal trauma of organic individuation. This death-drive understood as repetition of the inorganic is the repetition of the death which gave birth to the organism - a death that cannot be satisfactorily repeated, not only because the organism which bears its trace did not yet experience it, but also because that trace is the marker of an exorbitant death, one that even in dying, the organism cannot successfully repeat." Here we find the move from the death-drive understood in Freud's sense to the death-drive understood through the framework of Deleuze's concept of repetition that grounds everything. In the psychoanalytical patient, we saw the drive to constantly repeat trauma that put them in a constant state of anxiety, working against their own ostensible "pleasure principle." With Brassier (with the help of Deleuze's meticulously detailed account of repetition in Difference and Repetition), we find the cosmological context for the death drive as the repetition of death. The psychoanalytical patient had a subconscious that repeated the anxiety of trauma that would lead towards its death, not towards its pleasure. The organic in general is driven by a repetition of death just the same way. In this sense, the subconscious classically understood is analogous to the cosmological repetition of the inorganic. The inorganic constantly repeats itself, thereby creating nothing. But this repetition of death "gave birth to the organism." The inorganic constantly repeats itself, and in doing so, creates constant nothings, one of them being what we call the "organism." Being is a "form" of death. It's one that has been repeated, and one which we see with the same functions in our own species. But this death can't be repeated. The death that happened where we are the trace of that death is not something that we can say was the cause of us. Nor can we go back and live any death in general, because being (as idea) has no access to the death-event. This "exorbitant death" is beyond the bounds of reason and image. It's non-symbolic and non-causal. Again, we have to let Laruelle's concept of "unilateral duality" simmer to fully appreciate the non-correlative aspect of identity without difference, and "process" without causality. Even our experience of dying which once thought itself able to ground death can't discover the repetition of death. As we stated in a prior post, the anticipation of dying is at an absolute distance from pure death. We are the trace of a death, not the death itself. If nothing happens, and something is a "form" of nothing, then this "form" is not nothing, nor can this "form" repeat nothing. The organism cannot repeat the death-possibility that breaks nothing. At the very most, we can say with Brassier that this "repeating instance - is this trace of the aboriginal trauma of organic individuation." The trauma of individuation; this concept of the repetition of death is but a trace of inorganic repetition. To speculate just a little further in somewhat of a sporting interest, we can say: "Something had to live to be able to die."

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Will to Nothing; Enlightenment and Extinction, Part 10

Someone literally willing nothing.

With Brassier's repudiation of Heidegger and Deleuze's conceptions of time as being anthropomorphic and specifically temporal, Brassier moves onto the pure movement of time as nothing, crystallized in Nietzsche's concept of the will to power. Brassier reappraises this notion though as a will to nothing. Nietzsche's writing has been extraordinary for thinking nothingness regardless of his seeing of the will's direct object in power. The fact that his writing is still fresh today within the domain of "thinking the death of thought," is a testament to his unconscious quest for utmost honesty; honesty not as a virtue in itself, but as a compulsion of a certain organism to simply will something absolutely independent of itself. Brassier acknowledges this power found in Nietzsche's writing but tweaks it towards its absolute logical extension; that the will that wills itself can't be understood as willing power, but as willing something that is so absolutely void of substance that at most we can say that the "will wills nothing." We can fully understand this through the tenor of Nietzsche's aphorisms which makes his insistence on power as the ground of existence curious. It's not worth trying to personally analyze the reasons behind this. For one, they would be boring, and two, it takes away justice to be done to the actual sway of Nietzche's writing which is most striking about great writers rather than solidified concepts that often serve as cursory introductions to the very writing of an author that transcends those solidified concepts. This post then will be a reappraisal of the concept of the will to power rather than a reappraisal of Nietzche's writing. We will understand the absolute logical conclusion that can be drawn from the will to power into the will to nothing with the help of Brassier. Being will no longer be understood ontologically, either in it's finitude or micro-biological aspects of difference. Instead it will be understood as a pure difference that couldn't possibly signify an ontology classically understood. The questions of being then becomes a non-question because there's nothing to question. Rather, the question of being becomes the question of nothing. The substance that ontology would like to premise its thought is non-substantial. Ontology then becomes something that can preliminarily be called "non-ontology," but even this idea couldn't be understood in a dialectical distinction to ontology. It would have to be understood purely as nothing regardless of the ostensible duality that the "non" signifies within the context of "ontology" (It's here where Laruelle's concept of "unilateral duality" explained earlier by Brassier is important to understand).

"For Nietzsche, 'will to power' is a synonym for the world interpreted as a chaotic multiplicity of conflicting forces - 'This world is will to power- and nothing besides!' which is to say, a synonym for 'becoming,' then to think the will in its being is to think the being of becoming in its essentially dissimulatory, inherently self-differentiating 'essence' as a flux of perpetual transformation. Thus, the affirmation of recurrence marks the moment when the will comes to know that it cannot know itself in itself because its knowable aspect necessarily corresponds to nothing - since there is nothing, no aspect of the will 'in-itself', for it to correspond to or adequately represent." Lets first distinguish between an immediate understanding of the will to power and the one we want to establish as the will to nothing. An immediate understanding of the will to power would echo a Hobbesian sentiment that conveys a political characteristic. You could conjure up ideas of absolute imperialism in this concept and you wouldn't be wrong considering the recorded time of actual peace in our archived history of the world (which ranges somewhere between 0 and 32 seconds). On the other hand, one can understand the concept of the will to power on a much more personal level. One can see it very simply when one is playing a game against anyone. One is always trying to win, or quitting because they don't want to compete thinking they can't compete, which can often lead to the quitter uttering a masked humiliatory sentiment such as "I don't believe in competition." With Nietzsche, we gain a concept of the will that's devoid of all morality, or at the very least reduced to the fact that if there is a morality in the process of phenomenal power, it's an interpretation of the phenomena and not the phenomena itself. This connotation is what Brassier will want to reappropriate. Because the phenomenal world is interpreted as chaotic forces that are always in conflict with each other doesn't lead to a logical jump of saying that power guides these conflicting forces. It can certainly be interpreted that way, but it can just as easily not be interpreted that way and stay reduced to it's dissimulatory nature. The idea of conflicting forces doesn't have to be understood anthropomorphically as personal conflicts understood in the immediate conception of the will to power. Instead, conflicting forces can be understood simply as entropy; meaning different things are always happening. That this difference can be interpreted as chaotic and conflicting is for the interpretation of an interpreter, not for anything preemptively understood as "the real." If we accept that the will to power for Brassier is a synonym for 'becoming,' then the concept of the will to power transitions into the will to nothing because no substance underlies the concept. What's "self-differentiating" and always in a "flux of perpetual transformation" is something different from the connotations one thinks of when thinking of power. One is taken back to the laconic phrases of Heraclitus. But the idea of "flux" need not symbolize an end point for the power of conceptual thinking, and this is what leads Brassier in a Q and A to say that he's an idealist because he thinks highly of the power of thinking to be able to out-think itself into what it's not. So the speculative opportunity of this nihilism doesn't end in an eternal look-of-awe into something normatively understood as "the void," but into an active movement that's wholly nothing. Thinking about this wholly nothing gains speculative help from the idea of eternal recurrence elaborated by Nietzsche. Briefly, the idea of eternal recurrence is the idea that what happens will always happen again making the idea of free will a non-factor in any sort of action-being; for what will happen now will have always happened and what has always happened will eventually happen again. In this sense, any choice that one thinks they are making at their own discretion has already been made an eternity of times. The ostensible "will" of this eternal recurrence though can't be known. We can describe it but we know that we can't because the "phenomena" is not knowable, or rather, is not a matter of knowledge. We can say that something will happen again that has already happened, but this isn't recurrence in itself because there is no static identity to recurrence. As we stated above, if we accept the will to power as the will to nothing - which is synonymous with "becoming"- and this becoming we understand as inherently self-differentiating, then the will to nothing would be an eternal self-differentiation of recurrence. So then, what is it to grasp the eternal self-differentiation of recurrence? We can first grasp it very simply as difference and repetition, self-differentiation and recurrence. We can understand it as the eternal phenomena of continual differences always reoccurring. The self-differentiating nature in recurrence points to nothing that can be known because no identity can be understood with something that is inherently always in a state of difference (Derrida). If nothing can be known, and the will wills nothing, then the will can't know anything. In other words, what the will "is," is not a matter of knowledge. At the very most, we can vaguely conceptualize the will as a pure process and nothing else. Even this concept of "process" needs to be annotated with a non-dialectical character though, putting the concept of process into the original reduction of the wills direct object to nothing. No aspect of the will can "correspond to or adequately represent" anything. It's important to make clear that the matter at hand seems to be an epistemological issue. While we can say that the will is "nothing," we can also say that it's "something that happens." But this later qualification doesn't pertain to the knowledge one may think it would like to convey. When someone says that at the very most "something happens" in reference to the will, this statement is non-declarative. It's not made in order to archive a truth or establish a philosophy. It's something that's said without any substance, but nonetheless something that is said. It's important to not make this statement into a conviction or declaration. There's nothing in this statement that points to anything personal. If we allow ourselves this, the will then is non-representational, and so one would go too far in establishing the will's "movement" as one synonymous with power. We can certainly understand the idea of the will to power within our context of being (Dasein) but this doesn't always have to be the case. Whatever the will is as becoming is not symbolic, and so is henceforth nothing, epistemologically speaking. The trick is in thinking the will not as it pertains to knowledge for us, but as non-knowledge, or non-ontology, or simply as nothing. The trick again is in thinking non-thought if something called "the real" can be appropriated. This transition from the will to power to the will to nothing is in this sense exactly not an epistemological event, or rather an attempt at making it a non-epistemological event. No new knowledge is gained when the will is understood as willing nothing. If anything, knowledge is lost. With the will to power we could give an innumerable amount of examples of powers sway over the word, but the will to nothing has no examples since it's nature is always self-differentiating, and this self-differentiation doesn't signify a Heraclitean aphorism (it can, but it doesn't have to), it simply signifies nothing. At the very least, it's important to understand that self-differentiating and conflicting phenomena doesn't necessarily point to some sort of conscious or unconscious power being waged in behalf of micro-biological organisms or nothingness itself. It simply points to something that is not a matter of knowledge, and hence close to something called "the real."

The transition from the will to power to the will to nothingness is not a subtle one, but for thinking it appears subtle. The move isn't the easiest in the world because thinking something without an intentional-direct object is contrary to a metaphysics of thinking. It's something that one lets simmer after an initial understanding. Much like Laruelle's concept of unilateral duality, the more the idea simmers, the more it becomes "appropriate." Of course, a brief but close reading of Nietzsche will acquire a deeper perspective of the will as becoming, and hence as the will that wills nothing, and that eternally reoccurs. For better or worse, it's in Nietzsche's style that we can best attain this perspective and not necessarily in a scientific understanding of the will. If there were a scientific understanding of the will, it would learn from science but would appear philosophical in style. It's not as if scientists concern themselves with the will to nothingness, not yet at least (it's not a matter of discovery). But being in the work of science is something like the will willing nothing. In regards to the speculative-philosophical perspective though, it takes a certain style to conjure this perspective and there's never been anyone before or after Nietzsche to do this. To understand this, the best thing to do is let Nietzsche speak for himself: "Becoming must be explained without recourse to final intentions; becoming must appear justified at every moment (or incapable of being evaluated, which comes to the same thing); the present must not be justified in reference to the future, not the past by reference to the present. Becoming is of equivalent value at every moment; the sum of its values always remains the same; in other words, it has no value at all, for anything against which to measure it, and in relation to which the word 'value' would have meaning, is lacking. The total value of the world cannot be evaluated..." - The Will to Power. The world is a different nothing. The world is nothing different.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

An errant attempt at phase cancellation

Tom Goes to the Mayor, "Bass Fest"

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Time is the Difference; Enlightenment and Extinction, Part 9

What a difference time makes.

When trying to destabilize the ontological notion of time through it's temporal existentiality, Brassier doesn't find this ontological gesture simply through the work of Heidegger, but also finds it's extension in Deleuze. Brassier confronts Deleuze specifically in his Difference and Repetition text which stands as Deleuze's most theoretical work. To compare this work to Deleuze's work with Guattarai is like comparing applies to oranges. At the very least, one is extremely difficult to understand (Difference and Repetition) while the other is much easier (e.g. Anti-Oedipus). It's the difference between reading a pure philosophical text and reading a text which is more sociological with a philosophical style. Regardless of Difference and Repetition's difficulty, it will be important to understand the basic premise of this latters text in order to fully understand the pure and empty nothingness that Brassier continually tries to convey in Enlightenment and Extinction. While Heidegger finds time as the constituting form of Dasein (or the human being), specifically in its temporal nature, Deleuze digs deeper to find time as a differentiable operation that is made up of a logical emptiness devoid of sequence, meaning time as temporality is pure difference, and not an observed and objective sequence of time. It's with this explanation that we have a preliminary understanding of the slippery difference between time and temporality. While the earlier would like to serve as the pure objective sequence of phenomenal nature, the latter would like to serve as an abstract difference that works as a sort of difference maker between anything at all. While the observation of time entails nothing else other than the fact that things are happening at different times, the observation of temporality entails a difference that constitutes not just the being of Dasein, but anything in general. Temporality as time functions specifically as the sense of difference. The emphasis on time is the unconscious observation of phasing, while the conscious emphasis of time as temporality is the recognition of time as difference. One can understand then how time as temporality serves a correlative sense since it emphasizes a difference between things, most conspicuously to us, while the pure observation of phasing seeks nothing other than what's already happening in a observation. To understand this basic premise of Difference and Repetition (that Brassier explains in order to throw the shackels off the privilege of time "de-vulgarized"), lets take a look at what Deleuze specifically states regarding time and difference.

"It is the empty form of time that introduces and constitutes Difference in thought; the difference on the basis of which thought thinks, as the difference between the indeterminate and determination. It is the empty form of time that distributes along both its sides an I that is fractures by the abstract line [of time], and a passive self that has emerged from the groundlessness which it contemplates. It is the empty form of time that engenders thinking in thought, for thinking only thinks with difference, orbiting around the point of ungrounding." First, we have an explanation of time as an empty form. For us to understand this, we have to think of something with no form, and in this case, we apply to our previous conception of time. Whatever one's conception of time was needs to be emptied to have no form. Time is nothing then. It's not the sequence one may have first thought it was or was initially taught. Rather, it constitutes difference in thought. What we understand here from Deleuze is time as the possibility of there being thought independent of thinking. The logic of this statement is grounded on the premise that this is thought and the formlessness of time makes a difference for thought. Thought is no longer what it is because of time. Time makes thought different. While thought was ostensibly happening without having to think anything, time engenders a difference for thought whereby it no longer simply happens without having to think. Instead, the difference of time engenders thinking into thought. Thought then no longer is in pure space, but temporalizes itself by a difference. This difference is time. Thought can no longer be thought but ends up thinking something. While thought didn't have a direct object for whatever it was, it now as a direct object in its process of now becoming thinking. It's difficult to think of what thought is without thinking. At the very most, it's being-nothing which means we can't think thought. We can't understand it as an activity of thinking because we are thinking beings as the difference from being-nothing. Attributing a character to being-nothing is on Deleuze though, and calling it something like "thought" is on us to try to understand through Difference and Repetition. Nonetheless, we are given a difference from thought by way of time. Time separates the being-nothing of thought into thinking. Deleuze further describes this distinction as the difference between the indeterminate and determination and this makes sense within the explanation of thought and thinking given above. Thought is indeterminate or simply being-nothing. Thinking on the other hand is determination in the sense that it has a direct object. We won't go so far to say that it functions in intentionality, but was can say that was it does, is give a direct object. The difference here is between saying what something does, and calling what something does, intentionality. We certainly can understand Husserl's gesture of making this leap because the arrow of what something does can be synonymized with intentionality, but this arrow is always for us, as much as thinking is for us. But if we are working past us, then we can understand the break at wanting to formalize the doing of an operation as an intentionality. So far then, we have thought as something completely indeterminate and thinking as determination. When we move forward in Deleuze with this passage, we find two characters that time distributes. One is the fractured I. What is the fractured I? What is an I that is fractured? What Deleuze means to say with the concept of the "fractured I" is the fact that the I is never unchangeable. The I will always change because of the abstract line of time. Now, we can't forget that this line of time is abstract which means we can't think of it in terms of a symbolized sequence. Instead we understand it as a difference that always happens. It's easier to understand time here simply as difference. The difference of time fractures the possibility of an I, meaning an identity. Nothing can ever be identified because abstract time as difference will not allow identity of something understood as an I. The identity of something is then never possible. Time breaks the possibility of being an identity. On the other hand, a passive self "happens" that has "emerged form the groundlessness which it contemplates." So time as difference does two things here. Firstly, it makes the possibility of the I as identity impossible since something can never be identified as the same thing. Secondly though, something called a "passive self" happens that emerges from the groundlessness of abstract time. To be more clear, for Deleuze, time engenders a fractured I, and also engenders a passive self. From this, we can understand there's a difference between an "I" and a "passive self." The passive self is an organism that is the receptor of passive phenomena which it may or may not allow to receive passive syntheses, meaning it has no choice in how "reality" happens to its own faculties. On the other hand, this phenomena that happens to to the "passive self" never is understood as an "I" because the very idea of the "passive self" is enveloped by continual phenomena because of its passivity. In other words, passivity doesn't allow for identity. Something that continually receives something passively can't stand ground and neurotically stop the passive phenomena. In the human being, it can try to, which we learned leads to the neurosis of Dasein (understood in our previous explanation of Deleuze and Guattari's Anti-Oedipus). But even this attempt at a stop to the phenomena of reality which eventually gives way to any number of modern-day labels of "sicknesses" where one has "lost their mind," (meaning the "I") has been fractured by the absolute nature of abstract time. From nowhere then, time contemplates this nowhere, and from this, a "passive self" is derived, meaning something which receives nothing. The contemplation of nothing engenders passivity. We can say that an organism receives something from pure nothingness. This is the difference that time makes. The break in nothingness is the difference of time and this break constitutes something that receives nothing, but this difference mimics this nothingness and changes it into something that's other than nothing; a different nothing if you will (because time breaks thought, thinking takes places which can only think about what ever is available, that being the nothingness of thought). We can understand that how "thinking only thinks with difference, orbiting around the point of ungrounding." The key here is how thinking orbits around the point of ungrounding. Ungrounding is a "taking-apart." It's an "explanation." It's an "enlightenment." Psychoanalytically, we can call it a "want to figure out." Thinking excavates nothing that was thought. Thinking hovers around the idea of discovering something from nothing. How much can be discovered though if there's nothing to be discovered? What we understand from this preliminary question is that thinking doesn't operate off some pragmatic virtue to "truly understanding what's outside of us" for example, instead, it's "content" to simply to unground nothing for the sake of ungrounding anything at all, even if there's nothing to unground. When time creates the difference of thought in thinking, this thinking that ostensibly ungrounds nothing doesn't think in order to discover something from nothing, but wills itself for no reason. Thinking is "content" with pretending it's doing something when it's really uncovering nothing. But the action of pretending it's doing something is the operation of thinking. In this sense, its discovery of nothing is the difference from nothing. This difference that breaks thought is the essence of time. It's the difference from being-nothing; essentially to think there's something to unground in being-nothing when there's nothing to unground. It's the eternal failure of thinking in time that makes the difference. And boy, what a difference it makes. Within this context that Deleuze sets up for the reader, we can fully appreciate the existential analytic of Heidegger, specifically the being that is looking around for something to do.

For however much Deleuze's account of time as temporality digs deeper than Heidegger in understanding ontology beyond existential being, this time understood as temporality still relies on a view of time that Deleuze wishes to convey under the auspices of an ostensible first-person perspective. What's privileged for Deleuze is the fact that something called a "first person point of view" is something worth understanding, and the fact that the "person" is something worth understanding . These presumptions lead to the correlationism that Brassier is trying to move away from in order to establish the absolute de-personalized science of non-correlationism where reality happens on its own. Difference need not be simply temporal, but may be something that happens in pure objective time. To understand this though, time can't be conceived of as something happening to us. It has to be "seen" happening completely independent of being's existentiality. It's here where time becomes de-privileged for Brassier. Instead, space as something that "is" independent of time (as we observe) is something that we can preliminary call "reality." How much can this space be understood in the third person perspective though? Maybe though, all that there "is" is the third person perspective, meaning everything that is understood (thinking) comes from a place that is always and already an observation, and that the ostensible access to being via absolute "knowledge of oneself" independent of the knowledge that one is a knowledge-being (discoverer of nothing) is a hopeless wish somehow brought about by the will that wills itself for no reason. How can this happen? How can being not realize it's own operation of actively seeking to know nothing? How can it not know itself as a knowing-being that simply wills to know nothing? How can it think that it's something other than the pure operation to know nothing and not ever find anything in the process because nothing is ever possible to be found? In other words, how can an impossible end come about? It's not as if the end of knowing-being is to know that it's simply a knowing-being with no other end. It's certainly has other ends in mind whether that be "being a good person," or "trying my hardest," etc. And it's not as if one can simply reduce this phenomena down to a christian-judeo historical context because the reduction can keep going endlessly. How one finds out about these "how's" is the trick that non-correlationsm and speculative realism is trying to convey. Ultimately, I think, it's trying to defer the authority of these questions to a pure third person scientific perspective at the destruction of any other perspective. The answer is really established though. Time breaks thought into thinking which makes an "I" impossible but at the same time creates passive organisms. Take this last statement, bracket out the "I" and "organisms," and substitute them with " pure and empty form of nothing" and then ask the "how." In the next post we will explore this pure movement further with Nietzsche's concept of the will, but Brassier will re-appropriate it to a place that's truly a will that wills itself, meaning a will that wills nothing other than its own operation; it's own end without ever knowing anything understood as an "end."

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Reaction to being a stepfather

Tom Goes to the Mayor, "Bear Traps"