Life, Death & Words

The foreclosure of the Real is the starting point of our expedition. An expedition through life, death and words. Don’t panic. It’s a short expedition.

Regarding life and death we could say, bearing in mind the foreclosure of the Real, that our lived experience is prior to life and death (I borrowed this expression from Patrick Jennings out of his post ‘Immanent Beatitude’).

What could this mean? To put it plain and simple, not the slightest of our experiences is ultimately philosophizable. By regarding our experiences as unilaterally determined by the Real, there is no way to capture the Real in our experiences by way of forming words.

There are experiences. There are words. Nothing is wrong with that. What remains is how we relate them, and how the Real is comprised in all of this.

Life, Death and Words. What should we do with them? The unilateral relation between the Real and our experiences shows the futility of our compulsion to determine the Real. There is a radical cut in that direction. Even the agnostic determination of the Real, the concession that we cannot know, forces on us a knowledge about the Real. A knowledge in the form of not-knowing.

So what exactly is cut off by this unilateral determination? It is our liability to constrain our experiences by our attempt to determine the Real. To take two examples, we can see this liability in philosophy and in literary theory. There are philosophers who try to cheat us into believing that they know the Real. There are literary theorists who try to cheat us into believing that they know what a certain text is about.

If those philosophers and theorists act out one potential performance, the performance of producing, is there another way to perform?

There is one. It is the way of creators and inventors. Matthias Steingass made me aware of the distinction between producing and creating/inventing. But what is this distinction?

Well, it is entailed in the words above. Creators and inventors flow within the kaleidoscopic richness of their experiences. Instead of obsessing over how to determine the Real in a sufficient and absolute way, they do not try to cross borders that are insurmountable.

They bring to a halt the clipping of experiences, regardless of whether this clipping emerges in a philosophical or in a theoretical fashion.

We don’t necessarily need philosophers and theorists who preach us their fable about how the Real is determined.

What we have is the possibility to acknowledge the richness of our experiences in a creative and inventive fashion. And we can get inspired by a plethora of creators and inventors.

In my case, those inspirations currently are Thomas Ligotti, Bruno Schulz, Thomas Bernhard and Stefan Grabiński.

The foreclosure of the Real – an artistic stance.

The Wachtmeister is back

When The Wachtmeister disappeared in 2014 people where left wailing and complaining. His hilariously funny parodies seemed to debunk so called X-Buddhist mesmerists to an extent that left the public laughing themselves into convulsions. Only few knew the truth then – and as it goes in times of timelines ever so fast putting into oblivion the truth – still fewer now remember what surly only the strongest could stomach. The Wachtmeister was a scam.

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I see its beauty

A girl, using the Twitter handle @QueenDemetriax_, sent a threat to American Airlines. She gets arrested by the police, attracts a global media storm and becomes the object of both fierce derision and sympathy. Two young men hurt a man, steal him €15 cash and get the death sentence. One of the two lays his head on the executioner’s shoulder, minutes before he and his friend are hanged. The executioner hugs the man in a caring gesture. Death is so cheap that a new word – “permadeath” – has been coined to describe games that turn your demise into something more than a speed bump on the road to victory. In these games, the death of the player character leads to irreversible consequences. There’s no “extra life,” no saved game to restart from, no option to continue from roughly the moment before you began pining for the fjords. An Occupy Wall Street activist is facing up to seven years in prison after being convicted by a jury in Manhattan of assaulting a New York police officer. She hit him in the face with her elbow.

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Immanent Beatitude

William Blake Angel of Revelation1)

For me at least, the concept of the foreclosure of the human real to philosophical, ideological, political or moral capture is a gift; one could call it, in Christian terms, an immanent grace bestowed on one irrespective of ones moral, ethical or intellectual status. It establishes, in thought at least, a condition of immanent beatitude. One could take this possibility seriously, since we have arrived at our understanding in the company of rigorous thinkers of the highest standing .By such a gift we are, in our value as persons, made immune to attack . We can rest unassailable in our already established immunity to judgement, rejection, or feelings of unworthiness. We can, as unique persons, establish ourselves axiomatically in immanence without Worldly justification, since we are already and always prior to philosophy .

In this regard there are many Buddhist texts useful to an immanent practice. From my own limited reading and experience (of Dzogchen in particular) I have been able to retrieve a lot that stands the test of critical decimation or deconstruction. Much rewriting would be necessary to make such texts usable from a non-buddhist perspective.  It is, of course, a lot easier to do this for oneself, since it is not necessary in that case to be explicit about the non-philosophical presuppositions that need to be in place to make such texts usable in ones personal life. Some things, though, could be said to make these non-buddhist presuppositions explicit.  As always the points I make are a provisional guide. Many other responses to the material are possible.
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Material and action – Some heretic thoughts

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Over the Christmas days, I’ve read a little bit about a dispute between the so called Laruellians and those who see him as just another decisional philosopher. These discourses are predominantly above my head. These are mostly lead by academics who sometimes like to talk in an opaque fashion to demonstrate their authority over the ragtag and bobtail like me.

So far so good. What I want to do now is to share some thoughts that emerged out of my rudimentary engagement with Laruelle. My engagement with him has changed my way of thinking. And to me this is quite interesting. So what could this be what I’ve learned?

Some notes in the beginning: Real, material, thinking, acting.

For a long time I thought that some day I will reach a point when my thinking will be solid, my position will be established. My main fellow in this undertaking was science. Having had a wrong picture of what science does, I thought that with the help of science, I will more and more know what is real and what is not real.

But as time went by I realized that science does something else. It does not determine the Real, but uses the material given by the Real. And we should always be ready to be surprised by the Real.

What we experience, what we think is material unilaterally determined by the Real. In other words, our experiences and thoughts do not represent the Real. To me this is not an ontological statement, but one about what we can do with our thoughts. If they don’t represent the Real in an ultimate sense, we are free to use all the thoughts and look what they do.

The picture above shows a man with a hiking pole wandering through a mountainscape. This is just one tiny expression acting as material from the Real. I don’t know if it conveys some ultimate truth. And I will never know. I don’t have to. The tiny picture, the itinerant monk has an impact on me, on my acting. This is because of my very personal relation to this picture.

So I don’t need to worry about an ultimate Real. To me it is enough to play with the material the Real offers to me.

To be continued.

 

The resilient Subject (2)

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If large corporations like Google are factoring resource depletion and eco- crisis into their profitability calculations, they are also enabling the resilient subject who, they hope, will negotiate this precarious future on their behalf. More and more such entities are introducing their high and middle ranking employees to inner technologies of a pseudo spiritual kind – meditation, mindfulness, detachment practices, fusions of esoteric wisdom and cognitive science, integral theories of this and that, relaxation and stress reduction techniques – practices custom-made for those among the drones who need more to keep going.

If one were to search for a term that would bring these practices and discourses under one roof, one could find no more useful a term than Buddhism. Not the Buddhism of a Chandrakirti, Je Tsongkapha or Dogan,  mind. (to name three out of a long list of outstanding thinkers). Anyone who has taken even a cursory glance at classical Buddhist philosophy will hear the voice of erudite, complex individuals thinking at the limit of their thought/world

I mean, rather, a Buddhism invented in European philosophical discourse as Christianity came under pressure from science and militant rationalist and materialist critiques; a Buddhism that was a small part of the wave of reactive and often reactionary resistance against the destructive aspects of capitalist acceleration, which routinely overturned established customs, traditions, and ways of life, and in the process reduced all values to exchange value, to the accountants bottom line.

This new Buddhism was a marginal preoccupation of scholars and enthusiasts imbued with a hankering after the exotic philosophical, spiritual and religious systems and practices which became accessible as a result of imperial conquest. In the middle twentieth century it fused with the insights and practices of the inner potential movement, popularising  a therapeutic antidote to the materialist culture which scientific and technological progress had made possible for the post war generation. By the nineties contemporary Buddhism had emerged as the mindset of a liberal subject who was, more or less, happy to leave the political field to the neo-liberal ideologue. Continue reading

Ontology as diachronic process: Non-Philosophy as superposition.

Over on “Agent Swarm” Terence Blake has posted a series of short texts on Badiou, Non-philosophy, and the analytical/continental divide that I highly recommend. There is enough here to keep me going for months but I would like to explore  an earlier argument Terence makes against Laruelle’s concept of “determination in the last instance” and the related concept “syntax of the real” (link below).

Laruelle posits the concept syntax of the real as the possibility of speaking from a state of immanence in the last instance. Furthermore, he claims this possibility for himself, or at least for Non-philosophy as such. Blake rejects the concept syntax of the real as an anti-pluralist and exclusivist trajectory of thought. I agree.

One of the good things about Laruelle is that he presents his thinking as subject to sudden breaks and reformulations. He openly celebrates its provisional nature as a trajectory of thought subject to an evolutionary dynamic likely to result in a few dead-ends. One such dead-end is his early flirtation with a  thinking  which tried to produce a science of the study of philosophical material grounded in something other than empirical evidence or the “laws” of  logical argument . Continue reading