by Nick Land
Imagine, hypothetically, that you wanted the regime to succeed. Would you recommend Cathedralization? Cynically considered, the track record is, at least, not bad. Planetary dominion is not to be sniffed at. (Suggestions in this direction are not unknown, even in XS comment threads.)
The Cathedral, defined with this question in mind, is the subsumption of politics into propaganda. It tends — as it develops — to convert all administrative problems into public relations challenges. A solution — actual or prospective — is a successful management of perceptions.
For the mature Cathedral, a crisis takes the consistent form: This looks bad. It is not merely stupid. As Spandrell recently observes, in comments on power, “… power isn’t born out of the barrel of a gun. Power is born out of the ability to have people with guns do what you tell them.” (XS note.) The question of legitimacy is, in a real sense, fundamental, when politics sets the boundaries of the cosmos under consideration. (So Cathedralism is also the hypertrophy of politics, to the point where a reality outside it loses all credibility.)
Is your civilization decaying? Then you need to persuade people that it is not. If there still seems to be a mismatch between problem and solution here, Cathedralism has not entirely consumed your brain. To speculate (confidently) further — you’re not a senior power-broker in a modern Western state. You’re even, from a certain perspective, a fossil.
Cathedralism works, in its own terms, as long as there are no definite limits to the efficacy of propaganda. To pose the issue at a comparatively shallow level, if the political response to a crisis simply is the crisis, and that response can be effectively controlled (through propaganda, broadly conceived), then the Cathedral commands an indisputable practical wisdom. It would be sensible to go long on the thing.
If however (imagine this, if you still can) manipulation of the response to crisis is actually a suppression of the feedback required to really tackle the crisis, then an altogether different story is unfolding.
Is reality subordinated to the Cathedral because — and exactly so far as — ‘the people’ are?
That is the question.
The article is taken from here: http://www.xenosystems.net/cathedralism/
Ccru: Writings 1997-2003
In the hyperstitional model Kaye outlined, fiction is not opposed to the real. Rather, reality is understood to be composed of fictions – consistent semiotic terrains that condition perceptual, affective and behaviorial responses. Kaye considered Burroughs’ work to be ‘exemplary of hyperstitional practice’. Burroughs construed writing – and art in general – not aesthetically, but functionally, – that is to say, magically, with magic defined as the use of signs to produce changes in reality.
Kaye maintained that it was ‘far from accidental’ that Burroughs’s equation of reality and fiction had been most widely embraced only in its negative aspect – as a variety of ‘postmodern’ ontological skepticism – rather than in its positive sense, as an investigation into the magical powers of incantation and manifestation: the efficacy of the virtual. For Kaye, the assimilation of Burroughs into textualist postmodernism constituted a deliberate act of ‘interpretevist sabotage’, the aim of which was to de-functionalise Burroughs’s writings by converting them into aesthetic exercises in style. Far from constituting a subversion of representative realism, the postmodern celebration of the text without a referent merely consummates a process that representative realism had initiated. Representative realism severs writing from any active function, surrendering it to the role of reflecting, not intervening in, the world. It is a short step to a dimension of pristine textuality, in which the existence of a world independent of discourse is denied altogether.
According to Kaye, the metaphysics of Burroughs’s ‘clearly hyperstitional’ fictions can be starkly contrasted with those at work in postmodernism. For postmodernists, the distinction between real and unreal is not substantive or is held not to matter, whereas for practitioners of hyperstition, differentiating between ‘degrees of realization’ is crucial. The hyperstitional process of entities ‘making themselves real’ is precisely a passage, a transformation, in which potentials – already-active virtualities – realize themselves. Writing operates not as a passive representation but as an active agent of transformation and a gateway through which entities can emerge. “[B]y writing a universe, the writer makes such a universe possible” (WV 321).
excerpt from the book: Ccru Writings 1997-2003
by Steven Craig Hickman
Perhaps it is time, once again, to acknowledge that we are smaller than we supposed, know less than we hoped, and are more frightened than we care to admit. “Nature,” as Newton famously wrote, “is pleased with simplicity” even if we are horrified.
– R. Scott Bakker
A great post on Three Pound Brain, the blog of R. Scott Bakker: the first, with Scott summing up the quandary of two creative events in his life, the creation of his latest installment in the epic Sci-Fi cycle of the Aspect Emperor The Unholy Consult; and, second, is his attempt to sketch out what he terms ‘post-intentional philosophy.’
In How to Build a First Person (Using Only Natural Materials) we discover that the self is not what it seems, that it is quite different than it at first appears, that our conceptions have gone awry and that we will never be the same again. This will not be an easy journey, it’s Scott’s labyrinth we’re entering, and if you go the distance you will not come out the same on the other end; in fact, you may never find the center of it, discover that the fate of the Minotaur is that he is blind, and that the only answer to his dilemma is the Blind Brain Theory (BBT); yet, if you or persistent in your journey you will discover something else: a central truth dangling down from the scientific world, where the ‘scientific image’ and the ‘human (metacognitive) image’ begin to totter toward each other at an exponential rate. Will they fuse or will they clash like those fated particles in CERN’s sixteen mile Hadron Collider. Will this new theory be the Higgs Boson of the philosophy of mind? Or will it turn out to be just the fruit of that long curve of scientific endeavor to understand human consciousness that started with the early Greek philosophers two-thousand years ago?
So what is this strange beast coming our way? Is W.B. Yeats correct in his appraisal: “And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, slouches towards…” us weary mortals? No, its much simpler than that dark beast, it’s just science doing what it does best, exposing the myths of our long and dubious journey as humans to the light of scientific method and reasoning. Or, maybe not, maybe we are the Beast blinded by our own Brain: a tale of blindness and insight. As Bakker tells us:
It’s all about the worst case scenario. Philosophy, to paraphrase [Ray] Brassier, is no sop to desire. If science stands poised to break us, then thought must submit to this breaking in advance. The world never wants for apologists: there will always be an army of Rosenthals and Badious. Someone needs to think these things, no matter how dehumanizing or alienating they seem to be. Besides, only those who dare thinking the post-intentional need fear ‘losing’ anything. If meaning and morality are the genuine emergent realities that the vast bulk of thinkers, analytic or continental, assume them to be, they should be able to withstand any sustained attempt to explain them away.
But what exactly is the Beast of a Blind Brain Theory? He explains the basic notion in his abstract of The Last Magic Show: A Blind Brain Theory of the Appearance of Consciousness:
The Blind Brain Theory of the Appearance of Consciousness (BBT) represents an attempt to ‘explain away’ several of the most perplexing features of consciousness in terms of information loss and depletion. The first-person perspective, it argues, is the expression of the kinds and quantities of information that, for a variety of structural and developmental reasons, cannot be accessed by the ‘conscious brain.’ Puzzles as profound and persistent as the now, personal identity, conscious unity, and most troubling of all, intentionality, could very well be kinds of illusions foisted on conscious awareness by different versions of the informatic limitation expressed, for instance, in the boundary of your visual field. By explaining away these phenomena, BTT separates the question of consciousness from the question of how consciousness appears, and so drastically narrows the so-called explanatory gap. If true, it considerable ‘softens’ the hard problem. But at what cost? (read here)
We could call this the Great Divorce, the theory of how consciousness departs from our narcissism forever, one that will ask the simple but definable question of what consciousness is in itself divorced from the human – a theory that entails concsiousness not as it appears for-us but as it is divorced from all our human investments and human myths, religious and philosophical musings, and thoughts about what it is for-us… As he states it:
If consciousness as it appears is fundamentally deceptive, we are faced with the troubling possibility that we quite simply will not recognize the consciousness that science explains. It could be the case that the ‘facts of our deception’ will simply fall out of any correct theory of consciousness. But it could also be the case that a supplementary theory is required— a theory of the appearance of consciousness.1
But what exactly does this theory look like? What is he offering us as a replacement for thousands of years of human deception? Well the short answer: any final theory of consciousness will involve some account of multimodal neural information integration. Ah, sweet, so simple, yet what exactly is ‘multimodal neural information integration’? Well, the grand daddy of encyclopedias, Wiki tells us this, saying:
Multisensory integration, also known as multimodal integration, is the study of how information from the different sensory modalities, such as sight, sound, touch, smell, self-motion and taste, may be integrated by the nervous system. A coherent representation of objects combining modalities enables us to have meaningful perceptual experiences. Indeed, multisensory integration is central to adaptive behavior because it allows us to perceive a world of coherent perceptual entities. Multimodal integration also deals with how different sensory modalities interact with one another and alter each other’s processing. (read more)
Scott explains all this in simpler terms, saying,
Consciousness is the product of a Recursive System (RS) of some kind, an evolutionary twist that allows the human brain to factor its own operations into its environmental estimations and interventions. Thinking through the constraints faced by any such system, I will argue, provides a parsimonious way to understand why consciousness appears the way it does. The ability of the brain to ‘see itself’ is severely restricted. Once we appreciate the way limits on recursive information access are expressed in conscious experience, traditionally intractable first-person perspectival features such as the now, personal identity, and the unity of consciousness can be ‘explained away,’ thus closing, to some extent, the so-called explanatory gap.
The Blind Brain Theory of the Appearance of Consciousness (BBT) is an account of how an embedded, recursive information integration system might produce the peculiar structural characteristics we associate with the first-person perspective. In a sense, it argues that consciousness is so confusing because it literally is a kind of confusion. Our brain is almost entirely blind to itself, and it is this interval between ‘almost’ and ‘entirely’ wherein our experience of consciousness resides. (ibid.)
Understanding the implications of this strange theory of the blind brain presents us with that ultimate, as Bakker on his blog has repeatedly emphasized, ‘bonfire of the humanities’:
This is why I continually speak of BBT in eschatological terms, pose it as a precursor of the posthuman: if scientifically confirmed, it means that Man-the-meaning-maker is of a piece with Man-the-image-of-God and Man-the-centre-of-the-universe, that noocentrism will join biocentrism and geocentrism in the reliquary of human intellectual conceit and folly. And this is why I mourn ‘Akratic Culture,’ society fissured by the scission of knowledge and experience, with managerial powers exploiting the mechanistic efficiencies of the former, and the client masses fleeing into the intentional opacities of the latter, seeking refuge in vacant affirmation and subreptive autonomy. (How to Build a First Person)
To understand more about R. Scott Bakker and his Blind Brain Theory read more here and here. Also on Scott’s blog there is a good follow up by Roger Eichorn (read here) The ‘Human’: Discovery or Invention?.
In his conclusion, Scott, leaves us neither a definition nor a theoretical calculus of his theorem, instead he offers us a discursive yet prolix proem:
Consciousness as you conceive/perceive it this very moment now is the tissue of neglect, painted on the same informatic canvas with the same cognitive brushes as our environment, only blinkered and impressionistic in the extreme. Reflexivity, internal-relationality, sufficiency, and intentionality, can all be seen as hallucinatory artifacts of informatic closure and scarcity, the result of a brain forced to make the most with the least using only the resources it has at hand. This is a picture of the first person as an informatically intergrated series of scraps of access, forced by structural bottlenecks to profoundly misrecognize itself as something somehow hooked upon the transcendental, self-sufficient and whole…
Maybe in the end this ‘self-reflecting negativity’ as Slavoj Zizek sites it is nothing more yet nothing less than the zero sum estimation of a mystery that will always remain a mystery, yet one that can now begin to realize that it no longer needs the support of all those ancient metaphysical quandaries that were born of a need to know… maybe in this poverty of the gap we can see and hear once again, and listen not to the music of the spheres but to the machines of consciousness as they grind away within the void of our blind brain. Maybe the ‘image of science’ and the ‘image of humanity’ were one and the same all along, but the delusions of a fabricated self kept us from that very simple knowledge. Maybe it is time for philosophy and science to interpenetrate each others jargon filled worlds and forge new links that can help us toward a greater understanding of this strange realm of blindness and insight.
1. R. Scott Bakker. The Last Magic Show: A Blind Brain Theory of the Appearance of Consciousness
by Steven Craig Hickman
There always seems to be a fine line in commentary between teasing thoughts out of the mind of another, and the downright obliteration of those very thoughts by an insidious misappropriation and transformation or distortion that takes place in any philosophical commentary. Over the years – and, I’ve literally read thousands of commentaries of specific authors, books, etc. – I’ve come to the realization that most of us will probably never agree on the meaning of reality, that we all tend to differing conceptions due to culture, natural disposition, and the inexplicable and as of yet undefined modes of our specific existences. We are a mystery that will never be wholly explained. Even the idea that we are ‘critical thinkers’ has recently been called into question with the assertion that the ‘rationalizing brain’ is a thinking machine which is far too complex to be reduced to the older forms of subjectivity and intentionality. As my friend over at Three Pound Brain, R. Scott Bakker iterates over an over: we’re all blind to our own brain, and all the cultural and philosophical baggage coined under the term ‘intentional awareness’ is sham through and through. Scott even reminds us in his provisional manifesto (here) that those of our contemporary literati and philosophical radicals (so called) are actually quite conservative – still believing in the old terms, the old mythology of the Self as Subject even under the auspices of overthrowing such conceptual bric-a-brac, etc. :
Where the Old Theory discusses ‘fragmented subjectivities,’ cognitive science has moved on to fragmented intentionalities more generally, questioning the stability and reality of things–context, affect, normativity, perception, and so on–that the Old Theory still takes for granted. The Old Theory, in other words, continues to anthropomorphize its discursive domain, positing intentionalities that the sciences are now calling into serious question. Ignorant of the truly radical alternatives, it continues to service the same folk-psychological intuitions that underwrite the cultural status quo.
Science treats us as machines, and fragmented machines at best, broken mis-measurers of reality who blinded to their own partial knowledge or lack of such assume meta-cognitive appropriation of the real where none is to be had. “How many puzzles whisper and cajole and actively seduce their would-be solvers? How many problems own the intellect that would overcome them?” So begins Bakker’s The Last Magic Show: A Blind Brain Theory of the Appearance of Consciousness (here). Bakker already admits to his outsider status within the domain of scientific practice and discipline that he has chosen to stake his theoretical proclivities (here), but sees this as par for the course for any viable future theory which for him will embrace “the crank, the amateur, understanding that unprecedented answers tend to come from institutionally unconstrained sources–from the weeds outside our academic gardens.”
As I continue to read Scott’s blog I have slowly ingrained myself to his terminology, which seems to float through many disciplines in search of a key to tap others of like mind. He doesn’t mind the crankiness and quirkiness of his work, or even the castigation of it he receives. For him this is all par for the course of any new theory: the test is that people cannot remain neutral to its impact, they can only love or hate it – never sit on the fence with its conceptions. Scott is an avid reader of current literature dealing with ‘intentionality’ and the sciences and philosophy of mind and consciousness. Over time he has honed his arsenal of tools and approach to his own ignorance and Socratic path. I admire his tenacity and forthrightness. He seems like the proverbial dog of Diogenes always barking at the masters bitter truths realizing that what he sees both exasperates him and astounds him. Sometimes he wants to be kicked, hoping someone will disprove his hunches; yet, time and time again, the veritable panoply of oncomers fail to convince and fall by the wayside as he continues his search for the definitive martialing of his theory.
In the Last Magic Show he alludes to the discrepancy between the appearance and the scientific descriptive portrayal of consciousness, and of the need for a supplementary theory to tease out the appearance of consciousness. But before tackling such a theory one wants Scott to first explain what he means by appearance and consciousness. Should we assume these terms mean something specific for him or that they should be qualified by the history of their use in science or philosophy; or, even as partial of the accepted definitions (ie. the OED, etc.). Do we just assume a complicity between the writer and his audience that we all have the same understanding of these terms and their heuristic use in the text? Why should I even raise this as an issue? Shouldn’t the text itself in the movement of its words bring out the meaning of these two such important terms and their use as Scott continues his discourse.
Since he does not make explicit what he means by such terms up front, then we must continue our reading and see what he is up too. In the next paragraph he unloads a bomb: “The central assumption of the present paper is that any final theory of consciousness will involve some account of multimodal neural information integration.” He actually places a footnote for this (and of course we will assume for better or worse that this is a published paper for a specific audience, and not intended for the general reader who may or may not be knowledgeable of such terminology). And, of course in the footnote he informs us that the underpinnings of much of his theory are idealizations of other theoretical work in the sciences: “Tononi’s Information Integration Theory of Consciousness (2012) and Edelman’s Dynamic Core Hypothesis (2005). The RS as proposed here is an idealization meant to draw out structural consequences perhaps belonging to any such system.”
Tonino starts with phenomenology which ties him to the whole history of a specific set of philosophical presuppositions that I will not belabor. The point is that for Tonino consciousness is ‘integrated information’: a physical and quantifiable effect of the brain and not some substantive entity either immersed or transcendent of the brain. Our consciousness is generated out of neural processes for specific evolutionary reasons. One can see the full lecture:
For Edelman and Tonino on the Dynamic Core Hypothesis one can read their Consciousness and Complexity paper here. I’ll leave this to the reader to pursue. A blog post for the future could delve into both of these in depth but for the moment I’m dealing again with R. Scott Bakker’s proposal. Yet, since these two men’s work seem to underpin his essay it might be good to know just what they are proposing.
We propose that a large cluster of neuronal groups that together constitute, on a time scale of hundreds of milliseconds, a unified neural process of high complexity be termed the “dynamic core,” in order to emphasize both its integration and its constantly changing activity patterns. The dynamic core is a functional cluster –its participating neuronal groups are much more strongly interactive among themselves than with the rest of the brain. The dynamic core must also have high complexity — its global activity patterns must be selected within less than a second out of a very large repertoire.
The point being that consciousness is the effect of a specific set of interacting neurons termed the ‘dynamic core’ and its communicative processes in integrating messages or chemical transformations from the global brain as part of a specific functionary dynamism of complex processes (feedback loops, energy transfer, chemical reactors, etc.). The crux of their goal is a theory that supports the “belief that a scientific explanation of consciousness is becoming increasingly feasible”. The point being for them is to have a scientifically valid theory that relates the phenomenology of consciousness to a “distributed neural process that is both highly integrated and highly differentiated”.
Now Bakker in his reading sees consciousness as the product of a “Recursive System (RS) of some kind, an evolutionary twist that allows the human brain to factor its own operations into its environmental estimations and interventions”(here). The use of the term ‘recursive system’ comes from the technical use made by Dynamic Core theory: “The dynamic core consists of a momentary subset of the thalamocortical system defined by active synapses. Positive feedback/reentrant signals circulate in the network of the dynamic core. The active synapses comprising the dynamic core continually change as the dynamic core updates recursively on the basis of about 100 ms.” (here) For Bakker the subjective personal identity of first person is an illusion, a confusion of our experience of consciousness which is actually a machine of neuronal activity blind to its own emergent processes which become conscious only after these specific sub-neuronal processes have emerged from the function of the Dynamic Core.
Yet, I wonder, is our awareness of being aware an illusion of this process as well? Or is it part of the actual dynamic process in its ongoing neuronal activity, being only one phase of this process and not the whole gamut? Why are we aware of our awareness to begin with? Is it because of these recursive feedback-loops interacting at such high rates and complexity that we confuse the process for something else: a center of self and subjectivity? Knowing the facts of this brain activity does not take away the awareness of our awareness, so how explain this awareness of our consciousness to begin with? This so called science tries to describe the process not the outcome, but we are more interested not in the material processes that over the evolutionary strand have due to some quirk in our natural history brought about this blind brain. What we are interested in is an explanation of why we are aware at all? Why do we need consciousness to begin with? Why this confusion of self and world, this seeming sense of a self to begin with? If we accept that this is a lie, an illusion created by the process itself then is it something useful, a happy accident of evolution? Explaining it in scientific terms doesn’t really get at the heart of the confusion so far as I can see. Knowing that we are just the fabrication of a blind brain immersed in sub-neural and neuronal processes explains only the bare minimum of the brain itself, but this doesn’t really get at consciousness at all. Instead it just complicates the matter with more questions.
Why did evolution bring about consciousness in just this specific form in humans and not in other creatures? Why are other creatures not aware of their awareness? Why humans? What brought about this strange if complicated separation between the brain and its awareness, and of its ability to recursively process its own awareness? Why are there thinking minds to begin with? What in the evolutionary process brought the need for thinking to begin with? And, why just one specific species? If that is even true.
As Bakker informs us over and over we’re we “generally don’t possess the information we think we do!” Consciousness is just the tip of a great iceberg or abyss that we are completely unaware of. Ok I’ll bite, and realize we filter out almost 99% (of course we have no quantifiable measuring stick for this, scientific or otherwise) of the data below our conscious mind. We seem to thrive quite nicely on our ignorance and let the physical brain do the rest in unconscious bliss. But one does not need a rocket scientist to tell us that if we had all that information at our disposal in one moment we’d be unable to see the forest for the trees, we’d be lost in a maze of information. So what we discover is that consciousness is a filter, a selective center of a specific set of processes that integrates the information that is processed below the stream in the brain and brings to awareness only the specific information needed to get on with the physical process of life itself. Is this so hard to accept? Surely not! We all understand that we need only what will help us get on with our work. The crux is not in this, we only become aware of it as a problem when we are unable to retrieve the information needed, when the brain for medical or other reasons does not work, and in fact breaks down and is no longer able to integrate the information: then we call for either the medical or psychological teams to investigate.
Of course Bakker is not unaware of this quagmire:
..at some point in our recent evolutionary past, perhaps coeval with the development of language, the human brain became more and more recursive, which is to say, more and more able to factor its own processes into its environmental interventions. Many different evolutionary fables may be told here, but the important thing (to stipulate at the very least) is that some twist of recursive information integration, by degrees or by leaps, led to human consciousness. Somehow, the brain developed the capacity to ‘see itself,’ more or less.
This is where my own questions start? Why? What event or strange evolutionary process brought this about? Why us and not other animals as well? If recursivity is game then why did evolution see this for just one specific species? There needs to be something more concrete that a ‘fable’ to explain this? Bakker again has a guess for this in the wings “the RS is an assemblage of ‘kluges,’ the slapdash result of haphazard mutations that produced some kind of reproductive benefit (Marcus, 2008).” But this is more surmise than actual answer. Another scientific fable to confuse more that enlighten us about the fabric of consciousness and its specific form in the human animal.
Yet, Bakker admits to my own point saying “We have good reason to suppose that the information that makes it to consciousness is every bit as strategic as it is fragmental. We may only ‘see’ an absurd fraction of what is going on, but we can nevertheless assume that it’s the fraction that matters most …” Exactly! For whatever reason the information we get is what we need to get own with our work whatever that might be, and yet sometimes we need more we need to invent other avenues of information that the brain lacks. What then? If the brain does not give us what we need what then? Could this lead us to ask other questions as to why we formed a specific type of consciousness that we did? Is brain science the last answer, the be all end all of a physical apprehension of these processes?
Sometimes I get the feeling that Bakker sees consciousness as a bit player, as a passive pony in a parade that is for the most part hidden in the recesses of recursive processes totally out of its control of sway. But is this true? Is consciousness just a passive receptacle, a sort of central void where all these recursive processes finally integrate and divulge their long labors in the unconscious brain? –
The problem lies in the dual, ‘open-closed’ structure of the RS. As a natural processor, the RS is an informatic crossroads, continuously accessing information from and feeding information to its greaterneural environment. As a consciousness generator, however, the RS is an informatic island : only theinformation that is integrated finds its way to conscious experience. This means that the actual functions subserved by the RS within the greater brain —the way it finds itself ‘plugged in’— are no more accessible to consciousness than are the functions of the greater brain. And this suggests that consciousness likely suffers any number of profound and systematic misapprehensions.
His use of the metaphor ‘plugged in’ as if this dynamic core were machine plugged into the greater databank of the brain with consciousness totally blank and devoid of knowledge of this specific engine it is connected too. I sometimes feel like we are reading a new Lovecraft novel written by a scientist rather than a literary fantasist. And of course Bakker is that as well (no pun intended).
So ultimately we come to crux of Bakker’s theory, BBT of Blind Brain Theory: “Blind Brain Theory of the Appearance of Consciousness simply represents an attempt to think through this question of information and access in a principled way: to speculate on what our ‘conscious brain’ can and cannot see.”
So his actual theory is quite specific more toned down that it’s actual portrayal in post after post on his blog. A speculative theory on the brains blindness and insight into its own recursive processes. Simple and sweet, yet infinitely complex in its actual goals. What I like about Bakker’s work so far is that he moves us beyond the quagmires of present philosophical literature. Current philosophy in it anit-representaionalist and representationalist literature Analytic or Continental deal with the extremes of Subject or Object. In Badiou and Zizek we start with the ‘Subject’, with others – such as the SR or OOO gang with ‘Objects’ and a multitude of those in between those two extremes measuring the world in processes. I simplify of course. But my drift is that those such as Zizek deal with the void of self, the abyss within around which consciousness like a satellite revolves in recursive formation; while others like Graham Harman consider objects as withdrawn and unknowable, as recursive dynamic systems that consciousness is totally blind too. Bakker on the other hand coming out of a naturalistic scientific philosophical background seeks scientific terminology of the newer brain sciences that try to move us beyond the use of Subject and Object altogether.
The next question that arises is ‘Time’, and specifically the now of our conscious mind, the first-person singular illusion he speaks of. As he says, “Any theory that fails to account for it fails to explain a central structural feature of consciousness as it is experienced. It certainly speaks to the difficulty of consciousness that it takes one of the most vexing problems in the history of philosophy as a component!” For RS theory time is nothing more that the integration point where the brain becomes conscious: this is the moment we experience as ‘now’. As Bakker would have it “Our experience of time is an achievement. Our experience of nowness, on the other hand, is astructural side-effect. The same way our visual field is boundless and yet enclosed by an inability to see, our temporal field – this very moment now – is boundless and yet enclosed by an inability to time. This is what makes the now so perplexing, so difficult to grasp: it is what might be called an ‘occluded structural property of experience.’”
One could spend an essay or even a book on just what Time is and its relation to consciousness. Yet, it is one of the cornerstones of many philosophical debates. In the older Newtonian universe the spatio-temporal dimensions were extensive and contained in a passive receptacle. In recent time Whitehead offered a more dynamic cross-sectional theory. As most scientists know experiments that might serve as bases for the construction of a physical theory or that might serve as tests for the confirmation of a physical theory are subject to the demand that standard conditions prevail or that suitable correction factors be introduced to ensure the consistency and the comparison of the experimental results. Otherwise, the experimental results would be one-time reports with no significance beyond isolated experiments, certainly not beyond the domain of the peculiar conditions that do prevail in the experiments. Also, were there not an assumption of standard conditions, it would follow that theories would be constructed and confirmed with reference only to peculiar conditions prevailing in particular areas where the experimentation takes place.
I’m not a Whitehead expert but feel there is an important part of his work to be still investigated. In Process and Reality we discover that for him the physical and geometrical order of nature in were described in terms of “a hierarchy of societies” (PR 147-50, 506-08). Basically, a “society” is a grouping of events which manifest a common characteristic, the presence of that characteristic being guaranteed by the relations which the events sustain. The physical and geometrical order of nature is constituted by at least three societies, “the society of pure extension,” “the geometric society,” and “the electromagnetic society.” The point to be noted is the relationship of the geometrical society and the electromagnetic society. The latter is embedded, so to speak, in the former, so that a determination of the variable physical quantities which characterize the electromagnetic society is obtained against a background of relationships which comprise a uniform metric structure:
The whole theory of the physical field is the interweaving of the individual peculiarities of actual occasions upon the background of systematic geometry. (PR 507)
[T] hese diversities and identities are correlated according to a systematic law expressible in terms of the systematic measurements derived from the geometric nexus. (PR 150)
When I think of the recursive embedding of these differing hierarchies of societies I’m reminded of how consciousness too is embedded in a recursive nexus of processes of which it is unaware, but that can be measured through a determination of certain variable physical quanta through an analogous background of relationships that comprise the uniform metric structure of the global brain itself. The now being nothing more than one of those ‘actual occasions’ upon which the background is woven. If one applied the exactitude of such geometrical precision to the brain science one might actually be able to systematically measure the peculiarities of consciousness itself in a scientific way. A testable theory!
Without going into every detail of Bakker’s essay, which I could not begin to do full justice too in one blog post. I will instead leave you with his parting words:
I sometimes fear that what we call ‘consciousness’ does not exist at all, that we ‘just are’ an integrative informatic process of a certain kind, possessing none of the characteristics we intuitively attribute to ourselves. Imagine all of your life amounting to nothing more than a series of distortions and illusions attending a recursive twist in some organism’s brain. For more than ten years I have been mulling ‘brain blindness,’ dreading it– even hating it. Threads of it appear in every novel I have written. And I still can’t quite bring myself to believe it.
This idea that we are machines, ‘integrative informatics processing’ machines at that, who have for so long assumed grandiose dribble about our personal worth and identity seems to be Bakker’s worst nightmare come true. What it seems to me is that he has discovered what is coming toward us, the future belongs to something else… something not quite human, yet born of our own strange informatics processes: the cyborgs and artificial intelligences that we may one day give birth too may look back quaintly at this troubled angel of flesh and blood and wonder just what all the fuss was about anyway. Maybe the last magic show is not for us but for our electronic children. Wouldn’t that be a recursive twist for the comic book heroes of an age to come… or is that age upon us? Nightmares indeed…
by Steven Craig Hickman
Why did human awareness or consciousness ever emerge to begin with, what were the evolutionary conditions that gave rise to it, what problems or obstacles, antagonisms did we as a species face that forced us into such a niche in the evolutionary scheme to evolve such a seemingly anti-natural and uncharacteristic mode of being-in-the-world? By this I mean unlike most of the other non-humans we share this planet with we have a certain ability to know: a self-reflecting system of second-order awareness that structures and functions the modalities and capabilities of our brain, etc. that allow us to store and retrieve information, sense-data, memories and reflect upon these, make decisions based on past, present, or future modes of judgement, etc. How and why did all this come about? (And, in this post, I’ll not even begin to answer the question if all these non-human entities around us share such functionality or not. That would take me far outside the scope of this short post.)
Where to begin? The search for origins in the natural context is always a blend of science, fiction, and interpretation. Interpretation is implicitly hierarchical, and cannot proceed without a usurpation of authority. As one critic suggested contra Foucault that humans cannot conceive of interpretive power without the King. Meaning gets started by a catastrophe that is also a ruining and breaking creation; or else meaning gets started by a transference of a purely fictive earlier authority to a later representative; or else meaning gets started by an act of violence, textual or physical, in a family grouping.1 According to Bloom Freud would blend these three modes of meaning making, incorporating the theoretical formulations he’d discovered in Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, and Hegel. For Bloom Freud was the inescapable speculative thinker of our age, and for him meaning gets started by catastrophes at our origins, by family passion and strife in our development; by transferring repressed earlier ambivalences onto later authority figures in our maturer educations, loves, and therapies. (Bloom, p. 44) But even more than Freud would be those who as Slavoj Žižek would have it “tarry with the Negative,” by which such philosophers as Hegel displaced the “god term” into the Negative of language, where the Negative rather than God performs the work in language as the pre-ontological demiurge of Plato, a malformed god who is not so much an inventor and creator as a tinkerer and craftsman, a carpenter of the universal degradation of our cosmic catastrophe.
Whether one accepts any of these rational mythologies or not, we are stuck with the notion that all interpretations of origins are part fact, part fiction, and that the models of origins we follow whether those of science like Thomas Khun’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, or those found in Max Black’s Models and Metaphors, or any of the previous examples one is stuck with the notion that all origins are artificial and retroactive interpretations that do violence to the lost object of anteriority. Even evolutionary theory is caught up in such games of origins, caught between a theory of deep time and gradualism; and the notions put forward by Niles Eldredge and Stephan Gould termed “punctuated equilibrium,” which in contrast to gradualisms generally smooth and continuous sense of evolution is seen as more rapid and punctuated by sudden catastrophic change and abrupt morphological transitions during evolution. I’ll not go into the arguments for or against such issues in evolutionary theory only to point out how it has influenced the thinking of Žižek’s thought on origins. In conversation with Daly would say:
Žižek. What I am currently engaged with is the paradoxical idea that, from a strict evolutionary standpoint, consciousness is a kind of mistake—a malfunction of evolution—and that out of this mistake a miracle emerged. That is to say, consciousness developed as an unintended by-product that acquired a kind of second degree survivalist function. Basically, consciousness is not something which enables us to function better. On the contrary, I am more and more convinced that consciousness originates with something going terribly wrong—even at the most personal level. For example, when do we become aware of something, fully aware? Precisely at the point where something no longer functions properly or not in the expected way.
Daly. Consciousness comes about as a result of some Real encounter?
Žižek. Yes, consciousness is originally linked to this moment when “something is wrong,” or, to put it in Lacanian terms, an experience of the Real, of an impossible limit. Original awareness is impelled by a certain experience of failure and mortality—a kind of snag in the biological weave. And all the metaphysical dimensions concerning humanity, philosophical self-reflection, progress and so on emerge ultimately because of this basic traumatic fissure.2
In other words this is Žižek’s grand myth, a catastrophe creation in which consciousness emerges out of the natural due to some unforeseen event, a miracle (strangely religious hyperbole?), out of some catastrophic traumatic fissure in the natural order that force the human species to rapidly adapt and produce this new survival mechanism. Is there actually any scientific support for such an event? What do scientists have to say about the emergence of consciousness during the long course of evolutionary history, gradual or punctuated?
Years ago I remember reading Julian Jaynes book (now dated) The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind where he surmised that about 3000 years ago, all of humankind basically heard voices. The voices were actually coming from the other side of the brain, but because the two hemispheres were not in communication the way they are now for most of us, the voices seemed to be coming from outside. The seemed, in fact, to be coming from God or the gods. Such a notion seems like pure science fictional fantasy today, when our more advanced theories presented in neurosciences. Yet, Jaynes’s notion of a cultural rather than a physiological development of consciousness, and that this cultural acquisition either led to, or was prompted by, a deterioration in the previously prevailing human mental configuration which, in a nutshell, involved hallucinating gods out of the effigies of fallen leaders and was, more or less, schizophrenic in nature seems strangely uncanny set against such philosophical works as Gilles Deleuze’s and Felix Guattari’s Capitalism and Schizophrenia and A Thousand Plateaus, along with Žižek’s on speculations throughout his exploratory researches scattered across his entire oeuvre.
Others such as Merlin Donald in his work Origins of the Modern Mind: Three Stages in the Evolution of Culture and Cognition (dated now) proposed there were three radical transitions in the emergence of consciousness. During the first, our bipedal but still apelike ancestors acquired “mimetic” skill – the ability to represent knowledge through voluntary motor acts – which made Homo erectus successful for over a million years. The second transition – to “mythic” culture – coincided with the development of spoken language. This cognitive advance allowed the large-brained Homo sapiens to evolve a complex preliterate culture that survives in many parts of the world today. In the third transition, when humans constructed elaborate symbolic systems ranging from cuneiforms, hieroglyphics, and ideograms to alphabetic languages and mathematics, human biological memory became an inadequate vehicle for storing and processing our collective knowledge. The modern mind is thus a hybrid structure built from vestiges of earlier biological stages as well as new external symbolic memory devices that have radically altered its organization. According to Donald, we are symbol-using creatures, more complex than any that went before us, and we may not yet have witnessed the final modular arrangement of the human mind. There have been other attempts to create an evolutionary history of human cognition, but they have usually emphasized either cultural artifacts or functional anatomy (such as the vocal tract or the enlarged brain). In contrast, Donald’s theory emphasizes cognition as the mediator between brain and culture. “Origins of the Modern Mind” suggest new areas of inquiry to specialists in cognitive fields from neurobiology to linguistics.
What Donald presents is the not just the history of the emergence of consciousness, but another more subtle history of representation and the externalization of culture, information, and meaning into the external systems of our Symbolic Culture. All the external memory systems from the early clay bricks for taxation, to our architectural, and sculptured artifacts, temples, icons of religious and social signification and cultural memory; our rituals, mimetic and tribal dances, religious and social practices were all ways of carrying forward the external knowledge systems of the tribal mind through time. Carriers of meaning in which the shaman, priest, and now secular scientists become the experts or specialized mediators with between culture and nature, devising, exploring, interpreting, and formulating the worldviews upon which we stabilize cultural and civilization.
When Donald observed the notion of the cogito as mediator I remembered the reference in Žižek of the cogito as the “vanishing mediator” between the Symbolic and the Real:
We cannot pass directly from nature to culture. Something goes terribly wrong in nature: nature produces an unnatural monstrosity and I claim that it is in order to cope with, to domesticate, this monstrosity that we symbolize. Taking Freud’s fort/da as a model: something is primordially broken (the absence of the mother and so on) and symbolization functions as a way of living with that kind of trauma. In short, the ontological necessity of “madness” resides in the fact that it is not possible to pass directly from the “animal soul” immersed in its natural life-world to “normal” subjectivity dwelling in its symbolic universe—the vanishing mediator between the two is the “mad” gesture of radical withdrawal from reality that opens up the space for its symbolic reconstitution.3
I mean for Slavoj Žižek we are caught and absorbed into the Symbolic Order early on in childhood, a solipsistic withdrawal into an interior world of madness. All those socio-cultural signs and meaning, linguistic traces, symbols, icons, language act invade us like word viruses (Burroughs) infesting our brain and physical systems, bringing about that strange and lethal separation and “vanishing mediator” between the brain and the Real – the Subject as Substance: the impasses obstructing the self-grounding idealization of the world demonstrate that, although we are forever stuck within ideality, we are not simply prisoners of the completely solipsistic sphere of the self-referential, masturbatory play of thought within thought and that a metaphysics of the Real, an account of the noumenal, appears to be theoretically possible. (OC, p. 81) In which as Carew’s remarks:
The inassimilable kernel of the Real within our notional, symbolic code points to the paradoxical negative coinciding of inside with outside, the Real and the Ideal, within thinking: the cracks of ideality cast an abyssal shadow that opens up onto the materiality of being, albeit only as refracted through the impossibilities of the Ideal, in such a way that tarrying with the latter offers a way to develop idealism into a science of the Real. (OC, p. 81)2 So that the question in dialectical terms becomes for Zizek: “What is the Symbolic’s relation to the pre-symbolic Real?” As Carew will state it:
The Real sans fissure and the noumenon represent a compensation for the impossibility of an intimate experience of the Real within the Symbolic by claiming that, outside the reach of this synthetic (re)constitution of reality, it can still be said to persist in a state lacking contradiction and antagonism. It safeguards us from the realization that the Real itself is morcelé: it does not merely get itself into traps, producing monsters that disrupt the flow of knowledge in the Real by making the latter howl under ontological pain… (OC, p. 93)
In a previous essay Hyper-Chaos, Thermospasm and Aion: On the Temporal Philosophies of Meillassoux, Land and Deleuze we come to know the Real as Time’s Kingdom, the pre-ontological time of hyper-Chaos (Meillassoux), Thermospasm (Land), and Aion (Deleuze):
“Time is not governed by physical laws because it is the laws itself that are governed by mad Time.”.
– Quentin Meillassoux
“The thermospasm is reality as undiluted chaos. It is where we all came from.”
– Nick Land
“Aion is the eternal truth of time: pure empty form of time, which has freed itself of its present corporeal content and has thereby unwound its own circle, stretching itself out into a straight line.”
– Gilles Deleuze
As Zizek will say it: “The Real – the over-abundant obscene-morbid vitality of the primordial…,” the Virtual as against the Actual: So, to conclude, if we return from the second to the first part of Parmenides, i.e., to the status of Ideas, then the result should be that Ideas do not exist, do not have ontological reality of their own: they persist as purely virtual points of reference. That is to say, the only appropriate conclusion is that eternal Ideas are Ones and Others which do not participate in (spatio-temporal) Being (which is the only actual being there is): their status is purely virtual. This virtual status was made clear by Deleuze, one of the great anti-Platonists. Deleuze’s notion of the Virtual is to be opposed to the all-pervasive topic of virtual reality: what matters to Deleuze is not virtual reality, but the reality of the virtual (which, in Lacanian terms, is the Real). Virtual Reality in itself is a rather miserable idea: that of imitating reality, of reproducing experience in an artificial medium. The reality of the Virtual, on the other hand, stands for the reality of the Virtual as such, for its real effects and consequences. ( Less Than Nothing: Hegel and the Shadow of Dialectical Materialism (Kindle Locations 1738-1746). Norton. Kindle Edition.)
So why mention all this? For the simple reason that our brains are the complex physical system within us that over the course of evolutionary time, by way of empirical trial and error developed filters and defenses against the Real Virtuality of this pre-ontological soup within which we live. All these forms/Ideas/objects/things/entities, etc. we take to real or reality or actually the transforms or translated representations from within the Symbolic Order or artificial systems of signification by which we navigate the sea of hyper-chaos, thermospasm, or Aion around us. The long road to reason or consciousness – the two seemingly bound to each other as figure/ground, is this struggle within the virtuality of the ‘Night of the World’ (Hegel). Yet, we take this Symbolic Order of signs, meaning, and the actuality at face value to be everything – the end-all, be-all of our world, and assume wrongly that through philosophy and the sciences we can reduce this phenomenal realm of sense-data and translated information we receive from the brain as complete, when in fact it is but the tip of the ice-berg. What we think we know is but a miniscule representation, an abstraction out of and into the reductions of our translated neural filters. Or, as Scott Bakker (see here) irreverently tells us we are “blind to the fact of our being blind,” and what we think we know is but the ignorance of our lack of real knowledge. Cut off in a false world of semblances we live like children in Plato’s Cave, but with a difference: the Virtual is not some separate realm outside our ontological catastrophe, but the very Real of our immediate ontological world in which we live and die. As Scott would tell it our consciousness is based more on information loss and depletion, medial neglect than on real knowledge. As Scott will suggest is that we need a “theory of the appearance of consciousness”:
If consciousness as it appears is fundamentally deceptive, we are faced with the troubling possibility that we quite simply will not recognize the consciousness that science explains. It could be the case that the ‘facts of our deception’ will simply fall out of any correct theory of consciousness. But it could also be the case that a supplementary theory is required— a theory of the appearance of consciousness.3
According to Merlin Donald our evolutionary cousins, the apes, have brains which enable them to represent to themselves and remember “episodes” or events, something which their evolutionary predecessors either do not have or have only in a limited form. Homo erectus, the evolutionary link between us and the apes, extended this ability to perceive events, into “mimesis”, a capacity to reproduce events they have perceived by use of their own body. Donald shows how this ability, which involves no modifications of the body and relatively modest changes in the brain, allows for the voluntary representation and communication of events of the past and emotions not actually felt concerning things not actually present, a foundation for the later development of symbolic action. Homo erectus dominated the hominid world for a million years, adapting themselves to this “mimetic” culture. According to Donald, mimetic representation remains with us as a vestige of our homo erectus ancestry, as a fully functioning, underlying mode of representation and intelligence. Homo sapiens in turn developed this ability into speech, with a radical adaption which occurred about 500,000 years ago. According to Donald, homo sapiens had a “mythic” culture hinged around the ability to tell stories, and this ability provided a means to make sense of the world and create a shared understanding of the world. This mythic culture survives to this day, constituting a crucial mode of understanding the world.
Yet, beyond this is the encyclopedia of culture, our Symbolic Order of externalized data that captures, absorbs, and transform endlessly the information gathered by the various knowledge workers around the world and filters it into the collective intelligence system of the web. Are we seeing in our time a new evolutionary punctuation, the rapid evolution of a new form of consciousness, one that will no longer be bound strictly to the human system and computational/functional nexus of organic relations? Are humans in other words going to be displaced as the carriers of consciousness and awareness, the mediators of knowledge and data? As philosophy struggles to attain its place in the sun, and the sciences more and more displace the remaining enclaves of the older humanities what awaits us in the next few hundred years? With the rise of machinic intelligence, robotics, nanotechnology, and biotech genetics are humans even relevant in the equation? Is consciousness and the cogito about to abandon ship and become externalized into the very systems of data glut of our Symbolic Order? Will a new life-form emerge more adept at memory and retrieval, intelligence, and knowledge acquisition than the human, an artificial life-form or intelligence capable of far surpassing human mentation and thereby attain a more refined and elegant solution to certain evolutionary dilemmas? Are humans themselves becoming the vanishing mediator between the natural and artificial divide, gap, and crack in time, hyper-Chaos, thermospasm in which machinic life-forms begin to take over and bootstrap themselves into evolution and consciousness?
by ALEXANDER R. GALLOWAY
Second path: digital events. To recap, the event is a relation. The event is a relation when it is understood in terms of analogy. The analog relation is the desire to overcome the rivenness of being by way of a continuous, proportionate, aspiration toward an image of the same self. As information or "data structure;' the givens exist as a structure of relation. Hence information combines both brute facticity of substance and the form or architecture of relation that such substance assumes. Any deeper explanations are moot, because under the standard model no substance can exist apart from form, and no form can exist uncoupled from substance. To exist means to appear as presence, and hence to relate back to one's own givenness. And the reverse too: to relate means to span a differential of states, arid thus to be outside of one's self (to ex-ist).
Following this logic, then, the analog event is clearly part of the architecture of being. But what of the digital event? If the analog event means the continuous aspiration toward the same, how to consider the digital?
To answer the question it is necessary to advance past simple relation and consider decisional relation. To consider event as decision is to consider the event from the perspective of willed action. (Again there is no reason to be anthropocentric; trees and bees can exhibit willed action as here defined.)
Whenever there exists a spectrum or continuum of intensities, there exists immanence. This is why the two becoming one is an immanence, why analogy is an immanence, and why immanence implies analogy. Conversely, whenever there exists difference or discontinuous states, there exists the transcendental. This is why the one becoming two necessitates the transcendental; why digitality implies the transcendental, and why the transcendental implies digitality. To call relations "decisional" is to underscore the fact that they are about cutting, that they follow a deviation from the state of affairs. A synonym would be "trenchant relations" or "trenchant events:'
Such is the theory of the event provided by Badiou. For him events are trenchant deviations from the state of the situation. They interrupt and depart from being. The event is a "pure outside:' Such events are rare, relatively speaking-at least much rarer than Deleuzian events. Badiousian events are attached to subject formation, and, specifically, a set of procedures that a subject can pursue in order to become subject to truth. Badiou's theory of the event is thus properly labeled "voluntarist" in that it requires the active will of conscripted militants who seek to execute the event.
If Lenin is the ultimate Badiousian, the ultimate Deleuzians are the heat vortexes of thermodynamic systems, or enzymes during RNA transcription. The Badiousian event deviates from the state of the situation, inaugurating new paths for a subject's fidelity to truth. The Deleuzian event subtends all matter, catalyzing action and reaction within the immanent transformations of pure becoming.
Now the full meaning of event as decision is becoming clear. Such events are a cutting or separation. But they are also will-dependentwhatever kind of "will" that might be, the will of gravity, the will of the sovereign, or the will of the acorn. So while event as relation implies existence, event as decision implies something else entirely: persistence or insistence. (The ultimate question therefore will be that of time: analog events focus on the present, digital events the future.) If relations are the things that merely exist, decisions are the things that persist. To cut means to insist on cutting. To be cut means to persist in the wake of the cut. And, as the transcendental demonstrates, whatever undergoes division must "insist" that it remain the same in order to persist as such. A nexus of terms thus converges: digitality, transcendental, insistence, and decision. Each works in concert with the others.
Decisional events mean change, change in the normal everyday sense of the word. Decisional events mean action, process, or transformation. Change, as event, is a digital decision. Event as decision combines both static snapshot and active transformation. It is the realm not so much of data as of code, for although data exist, code insists a specific manner of execution. Executables, "machine acts:' or code-these are all euphemisms for decisional events. Hence event as decision points directly to the arenas of mediation, synthesis, language, the political, the ideas of the world, ideology, or protocol. Perhaps this is why Laruelle is so interested in the performative dimension of philosophy, in those things that "say what they do and do what they say:'4
The givens exist, while events insist. But how exactly? There are two main force vectors at play, one moving up the chain from the data to the decision, and the other moving down the chain from the decision to the data. The downward movement is the movement of reality. Such movement flows from the event to the givens. It reveals a kind of realism, but a realism driven by pessimism and an unexplainable yearning for brute physicality. Synonyms include actualization, reification, alienation, objectification, realpolitik, and neutralization.
Running in opposition to the movement of reality is the movement of freedom. This second vector runs from the givens to the event. It states, axiomatically, that the givens appear, naturally and spontaneously, as fodder to be encoded. It states in essence, following Badiou, that although there are only bodies and languages, it is possible to deviate from bodies and languages by way of events. To follow the movement of freedom reveals how the givens predate the event and compels the givens to engage in the event.
Note the counterintuitive tendency at play here. It might seem that going from the givens to the event is repressive or reactionary in the sense that the gaining of an encoded event, such as ideological interpellation, could only ever inhibit the so-called natural existence and operations of the givens, and that, by contrast, going from the event to the givens is liberating or progressive in the sense that the givens are "more real" than the artifice of the encoded event. But this is not entirely the case. The movement of freedom is, quite literally, opposed to reality. It is irreal and illiberal. The goal of the decisional event therefore is not to reduce social conditions to realpolitik, to autonomous realities, or to the various pragmatic realisms. Rather, the movement of freedom seeks an elevated artifice, an artifice constructed not simply from data, but from data as they are assembled within relational and decisional events. Laruelle calls these fictions, artifices, or performations.
To move closer to the fully encoded event means to move closer to freedom. The entity that is the most free is the one that is the most fully folded into the supernature, the one most intimately allied with history and with the real exigencies of matter, because that is where the trenchant events lie. Using terminology from literary criticism and media studies, we can say that the movement of freedom is the movement out of the world-bound, diegetic realm and into the non-world-bound, nondiegetic realm. Consequently, the entity that is the most free is also the entity that is. closest to the sociopolitical sphere. In other words the more one pursues the decisional event, the more one is free. The greater the insistence, the greater the freedom.
Consider the famous slogan from Stewart Brand, "Information wants to be free:' We are now in a position to reconsider its deeper meaning. Data, as a given, want to be free, free as evental information. Digital freedom is thus a question of being "free from" the autonomy of data. Counterintuitively, then, the movement of freedom is driven not by liberation but by increased imbrication with the sociopolitical sphere. It is driven not by a force of loosening but by tightening, not by a newfound flexibility or laxity of structure but by discipline, not by the peace of the real but by the violence of the material. And, as Badiou says, because it tends toward the political sphere populated by political factions and political agents, the movement of freedom will always take as its goal the formation of new subjectivities.
But Laruelle, as will become evident in a moment, offers still another alternative. He parts ways with both Badiou and Deleuze on the question of the event. For him events are not heroic, as they must be for Badiou, and they do not depart from being. Laruelle has little interest in cultivating new subject positions. Events do not create heroes-or if they do, he wishes no part in it. 5 But likewise Laruelle differs from Deleuze, for while Deleuze makes the event coterminous with being, Laruelle will additionally show that the only true theory of the event is one that withdraws absolutely from both relation and decision.6
Thesis VIII. Being is an evental mode; it is coterminous with the event. Before he describes the event as such, Laruelle begins with a much more prosaic description of the actually existing world. The world and the event are, quite literally the same thing; hence Laruelle speaks of them in terms of the "event-world'.
Consider the as-structure and the way in which it frames all the entities of the world as both "aspect of" and "relation to:' Consider Whitehead's prehensions and actual occasions. Consider the principle of sufficient reason, namely that an actual entity and an actual reason are coterminous. Consider simply how being is preconditioned on "reasons": rationales, relations, structures, formations, decisions, and events. And the reverse as well: wherever events pertain, one may be sure to find being. The historicity of being is also the historicity of the event.
Such a modal condition is what Laruelle calls the event-world. We can think of it as a direct extension of the standard model. "The event is not merely the result of superimposing an ontology onto a history;' Laruelle claims. "It appears whenever there is a repression, a cutting, or a collapsing of Being:'7
There are a number of ways to demonstrate this, but the most straightforward is to return to the notion of relation as it was previously discussed. To speak of being, in the framing of the grand illusion, is to speak of the distinction between object and relation, or between data and information. By definition, being is never purely immanent with itself. Even the most immanence-focused philosophies of being, such as those of Deleuze or Henry, rely on differentials and distinctions between states or modes. In fact immanence Itself is often understood more as a resolution of division than as an always-already unified condition of pure singularity. 8
Thus, because being is never purely immanent with itself, it must address the question of relation. It must "repress:' "cut;' "collapse;' or otherwise come to terms with distinction. Sometimes relation is more or less resolved, for example, into immanence. Sometimes relation is given a starring role in the architecture of being, as with the dialectic. Sometimes it is starved and whittled down to nothing, as with the generic. And, as in the case of continuous being, relation alights onto the surface of being, like a ripple of peaks and valleys, surging and falling.
The event-world is the result of,a structural and synchronic digitization. But the event itself, as prevent, is neither a decision nor a relation, neither digital nor analog. Previously we said that the one is unconnected to the event, suggesting instead that the one be considered in terms of the advent or prevent. Let me now try to derive that architecture. What is the structure of the event-world? And how is the event-world related to the event itself?
To repeat: thinking the analog event means thinking the event as relation; but thinking the digital event means thinking the event as decision. Laruelle combines both arms of the event by showing how relationality as such (that is, a world of "information" in which entities form relations) is itself a decision within ontology. In other words, the most important decision is the decision to inaugurate relationality as such. The most important digitization is the digitization of the analog.
The event-world, defined as the given world in which events take place, exists itself in a relationship of digitization vis-a-vis the prevent of the one. For Laruelle the decision to establish philosophy-philosophy as reflection, convertibility, reversibility, interfacing, and so on-is a digital event. (Undoubtedly, to abstain from doing philosophy is not simply a new digitization, a new decision in silhouette. If it were, it would remain trapped as a philosophical abstention from philosophy and therefore no abstention at all! Rather, to abstain from decision means to practice an analogical science that operates, as Laruelle puts it, "according to" the one.)
Deleuze, in a passage from Difference and Repetition, explains this scenario most eloquently: "Univocity signifies that being itself is univocal, while that of which it is said is equivocal: precisely the opposite of analogy .... It is not analogous being which is distributed among the categories and allocates a fixed part to beings, but the beings which are distributed across the space of univocal being, opened by all the forms:'9 What this means is that the relation of the one to the multiple is not a relationship of analogy. Or, to put it another way, the event of being, as the advent of the division between one and many or between being and existing, stems from a digitization (not an analogicity). For if it were not a digitization, then the worldly manifestations of the one would them - selves also have to be, by analogy, one, rather than multiple. Yet because digitization implies distinction, the one can manifest itself in the world as multiple multiplicities, which themselves nevertheless still speak in the same voice of a generic oneness.
The one-multiple, as evental and causal relation, is therefore a twoway split of digital and analog relations. From one aspect, digital. From another, analog. To think univocity in terms of equivocity is a movement of the digital. But to think equivocity in terms of univocity is a movement of the analog. Shifting the orientation of perspective is crucial. The real causes the multiple, both unilaterally and irreversibly. And the real also causes it transcendentally, and hence must do so digitally. But as multiple, the equivocal things of the world all stand in a reverse relationship of analogicity back to the one.
Creation is digital, but the lived existence of the created is analog. To be born is to break with the past, but to live is to act in fidelity to it. Unilateral means the one is oblivious of the two, insisting on its own oneness, but duality means the two bonds in an identity with the one. Laruelle's "unilateral duality" should be understood in precisely this way. As unilateral it follows digital distinction, while as duality it follows analog integration.
The event as indecision and indifference. Thus far the event has been considered as either relation or decision. Now the event can be understood in completely different terms, as a kind of static preemption rooted in indecision and indifference. 10
To say that the event is an indecision is to say that the event is the suspension of the evental regime itself, the regime described previously as relation-decision. Following Heidegger, being is given from out of a primordial event. And hence, following Badiou, for beings to actuate events they must somehow echo the primordial event, supersede being a second time and leave it behind. Yet such a scenario is still too metaphysical for Laruelle, who suggests that the only properly radical theory of the event must begin not from decision (Badiou) but from the indecision of generic immanence. The only true theory of the event-a theory adequate to the one-is a theory of the event that withdraws absolutely from both relation and decision.
So the one is not a simple object, and certainly no kind of All-One super-object. Neither is the one a relation-the warning heard time and again in Laruelle.
The one is best understood as an event. The one is no kind of colloidal substance or "grey goo;' and likewise not an absolute reality, much less an absolute mind. Terms like realism or idealism help very little. To say that the one is an event is not to subscribe to something like ; a "process philosophy" attributed rightly or wrongly to figures like Whitehead or Deleuze. Process is very important, but it pertains to the standard model, not the static preemption of the one. So, because the one is, by definition, the unilateralization of process, it makes little sense to speak of it in terms of process philosophy.
Rather, the one is the event of indifference. In withdrawing from both relation and decision, the one is mo re a question of leaving being than being itself. The one is a waning of presence, a withe ring of being. Both the givens and the given events must be abandoned; both data and information abandoned. Not so much a movement of freedom or a movement of reality, the event of the one is a movement of subtraction in which presence is whittled down to the radical anonymity of something what so ever. Indifference is incompatible with the "philosophies of difference" catalogued by Laruelle in his book of that name. These philosophies have always been d riven by a therapeutic aim. First the primordial alienation chronicled by Marx, but late r the alienation of subjective identity via difference and the deeper ontological difference embedded inside metaphysics. These a re the various sites of the grand traumas. These a re the scaffolding of a traumatized being. They inaugurate the great therapeutic crusades: Marxism, phenomenology, psychoanalysis, deconstruction, or identity politics.
Deleuze's description in The Logic of Sense of the stoicism of Joe Bousquet, the French su r realist poet who was paralyzed in World War I, could not paint a better picture: "My wound existed before me, I was bo rn to embody if'11 (Indeed on this point, Badiou's subsequent theory of the event sounds like a mere echo of earlier passages written by Deleuze.)
Indifference is incompatible with all of this. There is no identity but real identity. The re is no deconstruction of the one. The fractures and traumas, which Marxism or psychoanalysis were invented to solve, a re me rely figments of a mo re general trauma, the nihilism of the reality of the standard model. Thus take caution not to think indifference or indecision in terms of trauma or fragmentation, and likewise not to structure indifference or indecision in terms of a therapeutic strategy. The vital question today is not to rehabilitate being, and certainly not to protect and promote new "health mandates" or "medical interventions;' but rather to demilitarize this life, to stand down, to de-organize and unmanage it into a condition of indifference rooted in indecision.
Some will label this a kind of milksop quietism. Some will view Laruelle as nothing mo re than a license to do nothing. But to view Laruelle in this way is to misunderstand the full force of insufficiency and indecision. The withdrawal from the standard model is as assertive as it is passive, as disruptive as it is peaceful.
For this reason Laruelle stands at the threshold of a new theory of the event. The question for him, as he often repeats, is not so much the decision of philosophy but the indecision of philosophy. Not so much philosophical difference but philosophical indifference. The point is not to revisit a kind of existentialism or nihilism ("Being withdraws from us"), but precisely the opposite, a kind of deterritorialization of the very terms of the ontological arrangement ("We withdraw from being"). The point is thus ultimately not a new enchantment of being-given, but the profound disenchantment of leaving-being.
Something is out there. And "it gives." But whatever it is, it is not being as we know it today. It is, rather, a cancellation, a privative or subtractive event that brings us closer to the generic univocity of the one. (And again we should repress the urge to think of the one as a kind of proxy for God; the one is merely and modestly the undoing of the standard model, nothing more.).
In this sense, no language of repression or liberation will help. This is not Freud in 1905 or Marcuse in 1964. This is not about muzzling or uncorking the desiring machines. Likewise it is not about finding truth in a departure from the state of the situation. If anything, Badiou is standing on his head; he must be put back on his feet again: the event is the only radical real and thus is part of being, yet leaving-being brings us closer to the "void" of the whatever.
If information shines a light on relationships of identity and difference, and if the event-world shows a society in which information entities (humans, strands of DNA, operating systems) enter into networking relationships bound by protocological control, then the event as indecision reveals a structure of notworking relationships, a cosmological desoeuvrement, an inexistentialism, the pure event that withdraws from presence. After the movement of subtraction takes place, the pure event as prevent takes over where being once stood. Being is thus no longer the most fundamental question for thinking. Instead, the pure event whatsoever (the prevent) happens. Merely happens.
The event as static and final. Entities understood from the perspective of the prevent are, in this way, both static and final. Static entities belong to the commonality of the entire class of objects, rather than being instantiated over and over again along with individual objects. To say "static" means to say that something is generic to the class. From one perspective the static nature of entities can be contrasted to "the dynamic;' but from another perspective this logic falls apart. In fact the static is the most dynamic in that it is never instantiated in one particular appearance. It belongs to the entity at large, in its pure commonality. Not a local dynamism of the flexible instantiations of being, the static aspect of an entity is a total dynamism of the common.
But entities understood from the perspective of the prevent are also labeled "final:' This means that their static aspect can never again be changed. Just as they are static (generic to the class), they are also final (generic to the ontological condition). As common, entities refuse further modification. Genericity, as something whatsoever, is thus both static and final. This is another way to -understand why entities are destinies determined by the one. They are radically determined by the supernatural base-determined "in the last instance" says Laruelle-and likewise destined toward their own generic commonality, as the only thing that, in the last instance, is truly their own.
The movement of something. Such are the elemental conditions of the third movement. After the movement of freedom and the movement of reality, there is the movement of something. The one is not the void (Heidegger, Sartre, Badiou). It is likewise not the "other" as defined by post-structuralism. If anything it is the "something or other:'
If the movement of freedom means politicization and the movement of reality means depoliticization, then the movement of something opens up onto a different kind of landscape, an ancient landscape, but one nevertheless still being understood and reinvented for today. Something whatsoever resides within the prevent. And from this blank spot on the map, the something whatsoever aggresses (in prevention) toward the realm of the event as mere event.
The movement of something has absolutely no intention of taking over for the event as mere event. It has no such aspiration. In contrast to the movement of freedom, which moves from the givens to the event, the movement of something deprives the givens of their givenness and the event of its evental state. In this way the movement of something is never a hypertrophy of freedom. It is, if anything, a reversal of direction: to aggress toward the givens and the event through the act of standing down (leaving-being).
Heidegger saw this intuitively, even if he shied away from accepting its full repercussions. "The event of appropriation;; wrote Heidegger, "is that realm, vibrating within itself, through which man and Being reach each other in their nature, achieve their active nature by losing those qualities with which metaphysics has endowed them:' 12 In this way, the generic univocity of being does not mean monism exactly (unity), and it does not simply mean that being speaks as the one (univocity), but instead it means the loss of qualities, the voice of being as someone (anonymous).
The movement of something is not, strictly speaking, opposed to, beyond, under, or transcendent from either the first movement (toward reality) or the second movement (toward. freedom), either the fixation on the givens or the fixation on the event, either realism or materialism. During the movement of the impersonal, something subtracts from both movements and thus is without matter and without the real. It is both an antimatter and an irreality.
The movement of something says: "If you have something whatever, you shall retain it; but if you have nothing, you will lose even more of nothing, up until the point of your impersonality:' So while the movement of something may resemble nihilism, it is in fact slightly different, not so much a nothing-ism but a something-ism, a quiddism.
"In the perfect crime;' wrote Baudrillard, "it is the perfection that is criminal:'13 The prevent means both "to stop or hinder" and "from what comes before the event:' What does the prevent prevent but the catastrophe, the perfect crime of politics? The (mere) event is always the perfect crime, because its perfection is a completion of the real world. And in its perfect completion the real is eliminated. The prevent prevents the event from occurring.
But prevent also means what comes before the event, the a priori. The realm of the prevent does not present an additive predicate to an entity. Thus the only judgments that the prevent will confirm are those traditionally labeled the "analytic a priori;' which is to say, those that come before the event and that do not present additive predicates. If the mundane event affirms a normative judgment of the form "One ought to act in such and such a way;' and the givens affirm predicated judgment of the form "a is b;' the prevent affirms the most elemental form of statement: Something is whatsoever it is.
All the necessary topics are now on the table. We have offered a brief snapshot of Laruelle's project, including his take on the philosophical decision and the principle of sufficient philosophy. Some attention was given to the one and its actualization into the four modes of being that are contained in the standard model. Then, because the standard model is premised on the division of the one in two, we spent some time defining both the digital and analog, with an eye to how these terms relate to existing theoretical discourse. Finally, we considered the division of the one in two as an event itself, an event of decision. This entailed a discussion of other kinds of events that aren't decisions, namely relation events and indecision events.
Now the question remains: How does Laruelle withdraw from the standard model? What is Laruelle's stance on digitality? When Laruelle unilateralizes the standard model does he not also unilateralize digitality? How is Laruelle "against the digital"? And what is the future of the digital?
Admittedly the Against ... of my title is not entirely Laruellean, since "being against" reinstates the philosophical decision and the resultant amphibology between two things. But as Laruelle himself admits, given the pervasiveness of the philosophical world, it is often necessary to speak using existing philosophical language even if the goal is something other than philosophy.
Laruelle is against the digital, but do not assume that, in withdrawing from the digital, he will necessarily find refuge in the analog. Laruelle is just as uninterested in the analog as he is the digital. In fact, following Laruelle, it is possible to conceive of analogy as simply a subordinate mode of digitality, because analogy is still a kind of distinction like anything else. So in his withdrawal from digitality, Laruelle is charting an exodus out of representation more generally. Thus, the true withdrawal from digitality will lead to immanence, not analogy. The ultimate withdrawal from digitality will lead to the generic.
excerpt from the book: Laruelle: Against the Digital (Posthumanities) by ALEXANDER R. GALLOWAY
pdf of the book here
thanks to https://non.copyriot.com for the book
by ALEXANDER R. GALLOWAY
What is an event? The question is typically answered in one of two ways: events are relations, or events are decisions. Depending on context, events often appear as either relations or decisions. In one sense, an event is a relation between two moments in time, or between two states of affairs. Likewise a relation is only a relation by virtue of being able to be actualized into an event.
Yet in another sense, an event is a decision. As a more or less conscious action, it must be willed into existence by someone or some kind of catalyzing agent. Following this line, an event is simply the mirror image of a desire, aspiration, affordance, or drive: overladen snow desires the avalanche; an enzyme aspires to catalyze a chemical reaction; a person decides to jump.
Relation means to bring back. Decision means to cut off. So the question may be rephrased: Is an event a bringing back, or is an event a cutting off? In other words, does the event bring something back into being or cut something off from it?
For his part, Deleuze is satisfied with the event never deviating from the material world (after all, he is opposed to classical metaphysics), while Badiou's event breaks from being. In Deleuze the event consists of intensive or extensive transformations within the furious plane of immanence (see Furienmeister, The Furie, the . frontispiece of this chapter). But for Badiou the givenness of being is fundamentally profane and therefore must be superseded by a voluntaristic deviation. Badiou's voluntaristic event is an instance of the generic. but, as I suggest here, even if Badiou's the event as either relation or decision.
To say that events are relations is to say that events remain within the core substrate of being. Here an event is not a deus ex machina descending into the scene from somewhere beyond, modifying or rescuing the world. All changes to the world are immanent to the world. An event is not different from a relation; on the contrary, an event is simply a new relation. Actuate an event to make visible a new relation; identify a relation and one will have identified the aftermath of an event. Again, this is the kind of universe described by Deleuze. Events are immanent to material processes. In fact, events are these processes themselves and therefore cannot be distinguished from them. Events as relations are workaday events. They are not particularly special and there is no miracle in their being occasioned. The election of the first black president of the United States is an event, but so is cellular mitosis, and so is choosing to have coffee instead of tea at the breakfast table.
To say that the event is a decision is to say that an event is wholly different from the basic ontological categories of object and relation. An event is not merely a relation. It leaves the world behind and, from an alternate vantage point, actuates a transformation in the state of the situation. It is the principle through which a specific kind of world changes into a different kind of world. Such is the universe described by Badiou, in stark contrast with Deleuze. For Badiou, events are external to worlds. As such, events are always special, like miniature miracles.
Choosing coffee or tea never rises to the level of the event, for such a pseudo-choice does not effect a change in the state of the situation. Event as decision means that the event itself must be so affecting, so seductive, so total, so cataclysmic that it tears apart the fabric of the world, so that new objects and new relations, and indeed new aftershock events, will come into existence.
So, on the one hand, the event as relation describes a vitalist, processoriented, or superlative materialism. The world consists of countless, endless events wrought by the inexhaustible wellsprings of life known as the desiring machines. But, on the other hand, the event as decision describes a voluntarism, a labor willed into existence by the militant subjects of the holy warriors, the activists, the campaigners, the evangelists, the committed. (One need not be anthropocentric on this point; flowers and fawns can and will be their own kind of holy warriors, can and will exude a desire, just as much as humans do.)
Is the fabric of the world good in itself? Or does something stink here? Is the good a deviation from this life or merely a reconfiguration of it? Deleuze, while hardly ever trafficking in moral platitudes, must still claim that the fabric of the world is good in itself, because he locates events in the world. Badiou, by contrast, must claim that the fabric of the world, which he calls the "state of the situation;' is wanting, since Badiou's events are deviations from the world.
Indeed these philosophical modes carry their own theological tendencies, many of them Christian or pseudo-Christian. Heidegger's Ereignis is a thinly veiled creationism, is it not? And Badiou's event is a kind of miracle, the rapture that grants a departure from this profane world. Deleuze, for his part, illustrates a form of non-Christian, heretical creationism, in which the new issues forth from pure immanence (not from the word or the spirit). And for his part Laruelle's return to the One smacks of a mystical neoplatonism.
First path: analog events. The previous chapter asserted that, properly speaking, there is no such thing as an analog event. But that was something of a white lie, a temporary placeholder until the question could be addressed in greater detail. In order to make any sense of the event, it is first necessary to step back for a moment and mediate further on the concept of givenness, particularly as it was formulated in Theses I and II, that the real is given over to a mediation divided from it.
The "things that are given" can be truncated to the "givens;' or more technically the data. Data are the very facts of the givenness of Being. They are knowable and measurable. Data display a facticity; they are "what already exists;' and as such are a determining apparatus. They indicate what is present, what exists. The word data carries certain scientific or empirical undertones. But more important are the phenomenological overtones: data refer to the neutered, generic fact of "the things having been given".
Even in this simple arrangement a rudimentary relation holds sway. For implicit in the notion of the facticity of givenness is a relation to givenness. Data are not just a question of the givenness of Being, but are also necessarily illustrative of a relationship back toward a Being that has been given. In short, givenness itself implies a relation. This is one of the fundamental observations of phenomenology.
Even if nothing specific can be said about a given entity x, it is possible to say that, if given, x is something as opposed to nothing, and therefore that x has a relationship to its own givenness as something. X is "as x"; the as-structure is all that is required to demonstrate that x exists in a relation. (By contrast, if x were immanent to itself, it would not be pose sible to assume relation. But by virtue of being made distinct as something given, givenness implies non-immanence and thus relation.) Such a "something" can be understood in terms of self-similar identity or, as the scientists say, negentropy, a striving to remain the same.
So even as data are defined in terms of their givenness, their nonimmanence with the one, they also display a relation with themselves. Through their own self-similarity or relation with themselves, they tend back toward the one (as the most generic instance of the same). The logic of data is therefore a logic of existence and identity: on the one hand, the facticity of data means that they exist, that they ex-sistere, meaning to stand out of or from; on the other hand, the givenness of data as something means that they assume a relationship of identity, as the self-similar "whatever entity" that was given.
The true definition of data, therefore, is not simply "the things having been given:' The definition must conjoin givenness. and relation. For this reason, data often go by another name, a name that more suitably describes the implicit imbrication of givenness and relation. The name is information.
Information combines both aspects of data: the root form refers to a relationship (here a relationship of identity as same), while the prefix in refers to the entering into existence of form, the actual givenness of abstract form into real concrete formation.
Heidegger sums it up well with the following observation about the idea: ''All metaphysics including its opponent positivism speaks the language of Plato. The basic word of its thinking, that is, of his presentation of the Being of beings, is eidos, idea: the outward appearance in which beings as such show themselves. Outward appearance, however, is a manner of presence:' 1 In other words, outward appearance or idea is not a deviation from presence, or some precondition that produces presence, it is precisely coterminous with presence. To understand data as information means to understand data as idea, but not just idea, also a host of related terms: form, class, concept, thought, image, outward appearance, shape, presence, or form-of-appearance. An entity "in-form" is not a substantive entity, nor is it an objective one. The in-form is the negentropic transcendental of the situation, be it "material" like the givens or "ideal" like the encoded event. Hence an idea is just as much subject to information as are material objects. An oak tree is in-formation, just as much as a computer file is in-formation.
All of this is simply another way to understand Parmenides's claim about the primary identity of philosophy: "Thought and being are the same"; or as rendered by Heidegger: "For the same perceiving (thinking) as well as being:'2 Thus, as a way to deepen the original description of the standard model, we may now reiterate the gist of Theses I and II using new vocabulary: Being is the same as being in-formation. The standard world is an information world. There is no such thing as "raw" data, because to enter into presence means to enter into form. Information is part and parcel of the standard model. And this is why explorations into formlessness are always so profound, often bordering on disorientation, shock, or horror. 3
For these reasons it is indeed possible to think the event as analog event. Following Deleuze, analog events illustrate an immanent relation. Not pure immanence per se, but a relation of givenness that strives toward immanence. (The analog is always "aspirational" in this sense.) Information is the ultimate analog event: a "something" is given and enters into a relation with itself as specific identity of the same, in the same proportion, in the same way and manner, in a continuously variable immediacy with itself. The analog event par excellence therefore is nothing more than the event of self-similarity.
Yet this is only the most elemental description of the analog event. Broader, more prosaic phenomena can also be understood as analog events. In fact all phenomena are given within a world and thus derive their fundamental identity via such relation to givenness. These kinds of events are not rare. They include all manner of continuous differentiation, autopoiesis, and individuation. Frogs and birds and subatomic particles are thus analog events as such by virtue of their consistency as objects.
But is there a contradiction? It depends on whether the term analog is interpreted strictly or loosely. In the previous chapter we observed a strict interpretation: there are no analog events (only analog prevents) because analogicity means a full integration and collapse of the two into the one. Yet now a loose interpretation is also available: analog events are indeed possible because analogicity means a provisional reconciliation of the two into a relation of pseudo-identity as one. In other words, within the standard model-which is by definition the realm of digitality, distinction, separation, differentiation-analog events do exist precisely because objects persist as self-similar. Objects may morph and change, of course, but the analog event is the event of championing reconciliation over rivenness and union over division. The analog event is the event of the same.
excerpt from the book: Laruelle: Against the Digital (Posthumanities) by ALEXANDER R. GALLOWAY
pdf of the book here
thanks to https://non.copyriot.com for the book
by François Laruelle
The highest formal act of the philosophical Decision through which philosophical faith in the real enables the latter to be posited as the Real in an illusory way. It is consequently the real cause of the appearance of philosophy. Auto-position as real of the transcendental Unity proper to philosophy is that which prioritizes the vision-in-One.
The formal trait of auto-position is structural and completely exceeds the presence of this concept in Fichte (Self=Self). Not only the transcendental One—the peak of philosophical knowledge—but whichever concept (cf. Deleuze) is itself posited or is in a state of pairing, doubling, self-survey…Philosophizing is concentrated in the inasmuch and the as [l’en tant que et le comme], in the repetition of a more or less differentiated Same. This trait forms a system with philosophy’s no less structural debt to perception as its point of departure and to transcending it as its essential organon. Object and objectivity, phenomenological self and disinterested and philosophical self, consciousness of object and self-consciousness, transcendent One and transcendental One, all philosophy repeats itself because it copies itself. This is the activity of philosophical faith and this faith itself.
The vision-in-One supports the specific faith-in-the-real of philosophy, i.e. the philosophical hallucination of the Real. But this support is still nothing but a partial condition which is completed through a different suspension, the unilateralization of the transcendental One, of the divided One of philosophy. This suspension is performed by the transcendental Identity which the vision-in-One clones on the basis of the former. Auto-position (its sufficiency, its desire for mastery, its violence) is annulled while non-philosophical thought renounces every idealism so as to be allowed-to-be determined-in-the-last-instance by the Real. Hence the characterization of non-philosophical a prioris as non-auto(decisional, positional, donative, etc.). Concretely, the vision-in-One dismantles the importance of any dyad. The object is seen-in-One or dualyzed on a noetic and transcendental side and on a noematic content on the other side which is the reduction of this object to the state of occasion.
In the order of phenomenal instances, Being takes “third” place after the One-in-One and transcendental Identity, or second in the order of the (non-)One, between the One and the equivalent of Being (the experience or given of philosophy): it is the transcendence or nonautopositional Distance of the force (of) thought. If understood in a broad, for example Heideggerian, sense, we shall say that it is decomposed into transcendental Identity and a priori Identity which then correspond to their respective symptoms which are transcendental being or being proper (philosophically convertible with the One) and division or duality which are, for example, the Intelligible (Plato) or Intentionality (Husserl), etc.
Being or more precisely the existent is primarily one of the transcendentals (alongside the one, the multiple, the true, the good, etc.) and the support of the other transcendentals which are its predicates that, as such, are in it by essence. They add nothing real to it and form ontological knowledge, knowledge without reality if not specularity. When the existent is understood on the basis of the meta which makes it the transcendens par excellence and the meta- thematizes as such in turn, together they form “Being” insofar as it is distinguished or differentiated from the existent now assigned to functions of the empirical pole of ontological Difference. Difference (being of the existent, existent of being [etre de l'etant, etant de l'etre]) is then speculative and ontology is primarily ignorant of the existent fulfilled as speculation. The becoming-speculation of ontology takes on its divided-doubled structure by the meta- which adds nothing to the existent but relates it to itself as existent. This doublet or this auto-position of the existent, and thus also of Being, is the heart of the speculative or non-naive experience of philosophy.
Heidegger tried to reunite in “Being” as ontological Difference (with the existent) the multiple significations and modalities of Being which philosophy had elaborated and dispersed. There is then no concept not only more general and more transcendent, but also more enveloping than that of Being and then its own unity and provenance (sense, truth, locality, etc.). Heidegger confirms the telos of every philosophy, even if Being is his principal object (Being qua Being) and its element, even if it is an originary-transcending, an ekstatico-horizontal and temporal opening, a “rift” and “clearing,” (Heidegger), or even a void and a pure multiple (Badiou). A law of essence wills that the concepts of “being” be inseparable from the duality of a division and from a more or less divided, indeed disseminated, horizon; from a multiple and a void without which it is unthinkable. Hence Heidegger’s effort to simultaneously protect nothingness, the void, the nihilist “vapor” and to deliver them from Being by “barring” it in a nonmetaphysical way. But nothing of this touches upon philosophy, upon its effort to think itself and discharge itself from the metaphysics which cannot avoid positing Being as a presupposed which has primacy not only over the Existent but also over the One which it affects from its own division, and partially over the Other.
In non-philosophy, the nomination “Being” is still possible but under the reserve of its universalization of-the-last-instance. It only intervenes in the nomination and formulation of nonphilosophical instance via a mode of separation or abstraction of the axiomatic type: the Onewithout-Being, outside-Being, etc. But it is possible to elaborate a “non-ontology” taking general metaphysics and ontology–autoposition, either speculative or not, of Being–for material: a theory of Being such as it is cloned on the basis of Being as such. The instances of which it is the philosophical symptomatic indication decompose the totality of functions which it has fulfilled through becoming: on the one hand pure transcendental Identity, whose symptom is the One as convertible with Being or intricated with it, or ordered in it: on the other hand, a priori Identity, i.e. transcending here reduced to its phenomenal nucleus of Exteriority or non-autopositional Distance. Together they are the “force (of) thought” which henceforth takes the place of Being or is Being-in-One.
The most extensive suspension of metaphysical authority is this: Being is determined or given inthe-last-instance-in-One. “In-the-last-instance” because it must be–as force (of) thought–cloned from philosophical and metaphysical Being. The “question of Being” is attached to philosophy and transformed into a problem capable of resolution according-to-the-One. As non-ontology, non-philosophy secedes from the “first science of Being” or, better yet, radically effectuates it by making of Being-according-to-the-One, and not “as One,” the object of a science in effect first but having lost the priority of metaphysics because this science is “divorced” from the One, which indeed is not the object of a first science but determines it. Finally, the statements of nonontology, cloned from ontology under the effect of the One-in-One, are knowledges said of Being-in-One-in-the-last-instance or related to the force (of) thought.
excerpt from the book: Dictionary of Non-Philosophy by François Laruelle
Translated by Taylor Adkins
by François Laruelle
The secret does not need communication in order to be what it is, to be known and to be an “object” of a rigorous science. But communication needs the secret in order to be what it is. Between the secret and communication there only exist determinative relationships that are unilateral, asymmetrical, or irreversible. The secret, being radically finite, has its own mode of communication: through another secret, on the one hand; and on the other hand, insofar as the secret, in its radical finitude, determines the communicational games in the last instance. This determination is the only way in which the secret can be communicated to the World and act on the networks of communication without passing through them or borrowing their channels.
by François Laruelle
Sense (of) identity of supposedly Real philosophical faith when the vision-in-One transforms it into its correlate (unilate) or gives it its sense (of) identity. The chora is the site through unilateralization that philosophy has become (as identity) by wanting to be equal to the Real (still not as transcendental unity). It is the phenomenon or given-without-givenness (of) this real hallucination.
Chora designates the spatial emplacement, or better yet the receptacle, indeed the prima materia through which it ends up being confused with Chaos, thus generating the dialectic of the One and the Multiple developed from that of the One and Being. Chora is the site of a pure multiplication: after its idealist reduction, when chaos becomes sensible diversity, the chora becomes its transcendental condition as spatiality, indeed, for certain philosophers, a name for a particular mixture of the transcendental and empirical, the…feminine.
The vision-in-One is the Given, it gives-without-givenness. Its first correlate (it should be said: its first uni-late) is that which it extracts or manifests from the first object to which it is opposed and which is philosophy: not as doctrine or system, but as faith-in-the-real that finally supposes itself to be the Real. Philosophy is not the only site of its doctrines and all existents, a universal site, it is the total site, that which envelops itself and which can thus only believe itself to be the Real or the absolute Site, including its self-knowledge. The vision-in-One can only exclude this belief or more precisely back up its supposed validity. But it gives it also without givenness under the form it extracts, that of an identity or a sense (of) identity which is that (of) this Site. The theoretical illusion, the supposed validity is supported but not the materiality of this belief consubstantial with philosophy. We shall call chora not this Site spontaneously aware of itself, but that which the vision-in-One sees of this pretention, including the reduced identity (of the) philosophical Site. This chora is not an emplacement of the spatial order in the manner of the philosophical imagination. It is the instance which, in the order of the sense (of) identity (of the “noema”), determines-in-the-last-instance the other philosophical contents (more specific and constituting the structure of the philosophical Decision) as at least given-in-One and reduced to their sense (of) identity. The One thus determines through its acting a more originary or more transcendental site equally foreign to every topo-logy, where the World and its contents, the Authorities, and the philosophical Decisions themselves come to be emplaced.
As an expression of being-separated/given from the One, the chora is “unilateralized,” it is a non-self-positional position (of) the World, impossible to be dialectized or topologized, to be scanned by a transversal gaze. The One is in effect indifferent to what it determines due to the fact that it determines it in-the-last-instance and through its being-foreclosed. The chora is the absence of every reciprocal determination, every unitary correlation of contraries, every sufficient philosophy. It is more than an a priori: if the Real is nowhere, utopic, it finally gives a real Site (in-the-last-instance…) to philosophy which no longer magically springs from the head of the latter but where it finds its emplacement. Instead of constituting an (anti-)thetic a priori susceptible to being-coupled, which would only be at the price of some “infinite task” or “différance” with its philosophical contrary within some unitary dyad of the One and the Other, the chora is the extreme counterpart of the Vision-in-One, that which, without forming a relation or correlation but a unilation, “faces” it after philosophical faith. It defines the object of the world par excellence; it is even its first determination.
excerpt from the book: Dictionary of Non-Philosophy by François Laruelle
translated by Taylor Adkins