This is a comment reply to a short discussion I was/ am having with HC Hickman over at Alien Ecologies. If you would like to see how it got here, go check out the comments.
Somehow your blog is still interesting to me. It might appear that I am merely stating my position and not hearing anything else, that I want to prove to you something true, or whatever. This is not the case. Though this may sound odd, my purpose is to be proven wrong. I do not state things to prove anything to anyone; I state things to open the possibility for someone to show me where I am incorrect, to prove to me that I am incorrect. I look for people who have the time, but as well the temperament to have an exchange that challenges not only their view, but my view. So I apologize if I push you to answer me. All my statements are questions in the search for an answer.
Oddly enough when I first read Laruelle, and I began to discuss it with a translator of his, our discussions proceeded quite similarly to the way that yours and mine does. I would talk about how apparent the meaning of Laruelle’s books were and are to me and I would convey to him the meaning that was so obvious to me. And he would say basically that I don’t understand what Laurelle saying, and asked me if I had read his books, and indeed offered to take me through one of his books I could kind of study. We barely got through the first paragraph of the first chapter, for even the first paragraphs were blatant to me what he meant. I would tell Adkins (If you are interested in the details of that discussion, but also a more general basis from which I approach click here.At the time, I had only read a few of Laruelle’s essays ( one was here, but at the time Im pretty sure there was a version in english.) but since then I have read four of his books. To me he merely says the same thing over and over in different terms, while also understanding that the different clausal structures will arouse certain particular (what I call ‘subsequent’) questions, and then addressing those questions.
It appears that I am coming upon meaning of authors that appear obvious to me and that pan out to be consistent through not only the one book or essay, but indeed all their individual works, but no-one else seems to have come upon the same meaning, and in fact, they seem to be quite antagonistic to the meaning that I came upon.
The first of this strange (weird) phenomena of coming upon a consistent meaning of text happened with was Kierkegaard’s “Either/Or”. I shall take a moment a recount this weird event:
My roommate who was a grad student in women’s studies, I believe, had left this book “Either/Or” on the living room table. I remember coming home one night and seeing it and thinking to myself that I should probably read it since it is a philosophy book and I hadn’t really ever really read anything by any philosophers, though I (strangely enough) fancied myself a philosopher; Though I was an Anthropology undergrad, I figured I should start to get knowledgable about ‘proper’ philosophical issues. I have only heard of Kierkegaard’s name before this and knew nothing of him or his philosophy.
I figured I would just start at the beginning; sans intro, forward and any other extraneous commentary. I started at the “Diapsalmata”. I read a few pages and was stuck by how evident his meaning was, which is to say, ‘where’ he was starting from and why. But at the same time, I remember thinking “How odd that it would be so obvious; I must be wrong.” So after reading maybe a page or so, I skipped to the first chapter and began reading. Within the first couple chapters again I had the strange sensation I knew exactly what he was addressing, in what manner, what vector, what would cause him to choose this vector, and other sensibilities. This was so odd to me that I was compelled to keep reading. I could not believe that the obviousness that was coming through to me was so. I was incredulous to this odd situation. Yet as I read on, I was more and more confirmed in my estimation and interpretation of his text. I would pause an consider how strange it was; I simply could not believe how obvious his writing was and kept telling myself that my estimation was wrong.
It was at least 15 years ago, but Im pretty sure I read probably the next 10 pages or so until I was too flabbergasted to continue along that line. I took a chunk of pages in my hand and opened randomly to some section further in the thick book and started reading again. Within the first few sentences not only did I know again exactly what I he was talking about, but I looked back to the inch or so of pages that I had skipped and I knew how the argument had developed from the beginning to that point, the vector of reasoning and the vector of logical sense of order. Again, I could not believe what I was coming upon. So to prove to myself I was wrong, that I was not reading what he was saying correctly and that I was being way too presumptuous, I skipped back some random amount of pages — and as I read i could not shake the annoying and mysterious worry that I was right, and that he was discussing points and concerns appropriate to the estimation I had made just moments ago. So I skipped ahead of the last section, to near the end of the book. And he was wrapping up with what I had already known he would talk about and his questions and conclusions. I understood why he was taking the tack he was.
I remember sitting there thinking that I am crazy.
When I reaproached, I entertained some of the authors introduction (Hong and Hong), and started at the beginning, keeping in mind that I was going suspend my idea of what he was saying. I found through “Either/Or a further confirmation that my original estimation was — not only sometimes or generally correct — but entirely correct. Yet even as I read the whole book and was confirmed in my initial view, I still doubted that my appropriation of his book was correct, figuring it was some sort of fluke, some sort of weird mass coincidence, that I was holding on to some incorrect view and conforming the reading to my preconception. So I decided to read another of his books to see. Again I was confirmed, and indeed through reading his books (I count about 10 over the years) I continued to uphold the idea that I was delusional somehow, and that at some point he would talk about something in a certain manner that would show me that I was incorrect in my estimation of his work, as well as prove to me that I was correct in my doubt of the meaning I had gained from his works. I was to find that this was irony indeed.
I approach each author with an open mind ready to apprehend what the author might be saying in itself, through the words there in front of me contained of the book and what theoretical and historical contexts the meaning that the author (might have) intended, but I often find rather quickly, even as I try to fend off and argue against the idea, that I’m gaining from whichever author, a repetition of ‘the central idea’ in different terms; it is as if all these authors are talking about the same thing.
Strangely, this occurs to me through reading many other authors. I just happened upon Zizek’s “Parallax View” one day 10 years after the Kierkegaard happening ( I had no idea who Zizek was; his book was in the philosophy section of Barnes and Noble and so I took it home. I liked his name) and the same thing happened, though with a little less ease; Zizek likes to put in a bunch of contemporary anecdotal examples; I have to wonder just how much theory there would be without all the pop examples (lol). Badou I hadn’t heard of either and just happened upon one of his essays somewhere and in one sentence that I just overheard (over-looked ? read-over?), I knew the whole presentation of “Being and Event”, but I had to actually go through the book (of course!). At some point I want to write a book where I go through “B and E” and describe just what is occurring there. I went back to Sartre and again was confirmed; Wittgenstein; Hegel; Faeurbach; Neitzchze; Adorno; and even Graham Harman. I went back to Plato, mainly because everyone says Plato is ‘the great philosopher’, but also at Kierkegaard’s prompting with Socrates. Aristotle. Kant. Spinoza. Hume. And even Heraclitus. Foucault stems from this consistency, and Delueze and Derrida reek of it. Heidegger is saturated in it; I am going to read Husserl very soon and we will see what happens there. Every new author and book is an adventure. Some authors merely touch their pinky toe in it, while others are submerged in it. Though it takes now a little effort to see various authors’ approaches upon what I (now) call the point of contention, at some point I just had to admit there is no escaping this ‘lens’ through which I see things. My only hope through all this is that someone will explain to me how I am incorrect.
I call this a first philosophy, because this is the issue that strikes me of all these authors first. My work thus concerns the dichotomy involved in the obviousness of the thing that they are talking about, the single thing that they are addressing through the various topics, approaches, books etc., and how when I go to convey the meaning that is common through all of these authors and all of these books, to whoever I am talking with ,who are usually people who know these authors fairly well or the individual authors at least (all the people that I have discussed with are usually privy to a different set of authors then other people I discuss things with) these knowledgable and informed people always tend to not only disagree with me, but more so shoot me down as some sort of incompetent. They usually become aggravated and impatient and end the conversation. And what is very weird is that this is the talking point of Lyotard’s “The Differend”.
While Lyotard tends to defer the situation (again strange) to a possibility of ‘essential differences’, if I’m allowed to use such a term for him , even while I may understand that this indeed may be the case , within this situation I feel compelled to explore every facet of a single voice of this strange plurality . So, The way I usually explain this strange reaction of people is that they are not involved with finding truth. They do not care about the truth and have already decided what the truth is; I call this faith. I may be incorrect in this appraisal, but I see myself as willing to address the issues, and that they are not. I see myself in an effort of wanting to find the truth; I seek and yearn for argument. I want people to take their best shot and then address themselves to what I say in rebut, but I have not found anyone who will stay the fight; but I do consider that it is my approach, and not theirs that is problematic, but I can’t really know because no one will engage with me thoroughly enough. I have found that the discussion often becomes personal, and they leave the discussion for the personal insult. I truly hope this is not the case, but almost every time, it seems, I come across the same reactions. In all my short time, only two people have been open, and one of them is Christian. He does not take my arguments as personal insults, nor has he insulted me personally though I do not hold back in my appraisal of Christianity.
Its pretty fkg silly, I gotta say, but also perhaps that is just a curse of mine. No-one seems to want to tell me where I am incorrect (well, they want to tell me, but they do not want to put forth an argument that proves to me I am indeed incorrect, one that stand up to critique), what argument I am putting forth that is incorrect; most often they simply want to refer to arguments that are pre written without really putting forth a defense of it. It appears to me that they get short in having to address whatever issue to what is actually occurring, and that they’d rather just talk about distant ideas and assert their personal truths/opinions.
Ok well. if thats my plight, then so be it. I can only do what I do. And thats all I can do.