Commenting on a Philosopher without giving him more undue celebrity.

I had an opportunity this morning to confront one of my biases. This one was about THe-Philosopher-Who-Will-Not-Be-Named (TPNN for short).

Look in the comments of my pervious post about Derrida for a short video of a piece of one of his talks.

I historically disliked TPNN Becuase I feel he is missing a key component of what he generallzes as Post Modern. HERE is someone who took the time to take apart another one of TPNN talks. Yet, I am not sure my disquiet about TPNN falls into that his idea of PM appears incomplete or that he does not address deeply the PM position, and then as well that his generalization is that PM is about the infinity of subjective interpretive possibility. So I have had an opportunity to look more thoroughly into my biases about TPNN.

I think my offense comes from that he only has only intellectually appropriated a general PM tenet, and thus, of course, at once misses vital elements of subjectivity as well then indeed suggests by his presence a faulty ideal of ‘going backwards’ to a Modernist position. He definitely says in that short video that the postmodernists are wrong.

One of the subtleties of my work is that I tend to stick with the argument that Graham Harmon makes in his book “Tool Being”, that it is not a power-play of one against the other. It is not that modernism was incorrect and that postmodern pointed out all the problems with Modernity and so offers a more true way of coming up on the situation, and thus we have now to show how PM is wrong. That is a philosophical naive way of viewing the situation.

Also, Zizek’s psychoanalysis does not confirm Peterson’s psychological approach either.

It seems that Jordan Peterson failed to read the authors that came out of the speculative realism conference 10 years ago, And particularly has failed to understand what Quinten Miellassoux termed “Correlationalism”.

TPNN is what I could call an overt advocate for religious reality, which in itself is not an incorrect position to be an advocate. Yet, One of the paradoxes about being in the religious mindset is that while being religious may not be an inherently incorrect or improper way of having a reality to deal with, the developed analyses and The reactionary politics that such kinds of analyses often rely upon if they do not explicitly elucidate them in initial parts of the analysis, Often show that they are not having the awareness that religious allowance does not necessarily convey or have to fall in line with a particular religious truth.

We find in our current democratic system that we can speak about God and we can allow people to have their religious beliefs as an ideal for a good society without having to advocate for the truth any one of those particular religious institutions. TPNN Tends to argue that we must adhere to a particular religious institution if we are saying that the religious view is allowed, but he is using intellectualism as a way to argue for his dogma. In short, he is misappropriating Postmodern thought towards his own ontological argument.

Larval Subjects, the Impetus for Communication and the Common Thought of the Past.

Prof Bryant has an interesting post today.  And it inspired me to comment, below:

As I taught Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics today, I emphasized the manner in which so many of the virtues he lists are social in nature. Although we intuitively value many of the virtues Aristotle lists, I don’t think it would occur to many of us to count these among more or ethical issues. I wonder what the […]

via The End of Dialogue? — Larval Subjects . 

Levi;

It is interesting that you happened to ponder communication right now, because I was also pondering it, but along a slightly different line. I think you are commenting along a different vector of knowledge, perhaps a different category, but still…

I was asking myself if the academic form-method of “papers” and “journals” are even needed any more, if they are relevant in the sense that considers the actual possibility of being human, in the sense of being involved with what can Be. 

I recall a post you made a while ago where you were questioning the academic proper method and presentation of papers, how the whole act seemed in some instances to mock the content of some of the papers themselves, as though the manner by which an author has to present their ideas in academia in order to be taken seriously actually functions to devalue and or discount what they have to say, actually invalidates their ideas, such that the seriousness required detracts from the significance of the meaning of the paper.

heresy-cover_2175694a

I wonder what you might think of this:

I was thinking along these lines:

The reason why ‘papers’ and journals and that whole thing came about (I could be wrong) was because thats what they had. Thinkers had to be able to communicate their ideas at length and so they had these vehicles by which to circulate those ideas so other thinkers could consider them and comment on them. The whole idea of ‘communal’ -cation.

And when you think about the whole ‘modern’ – ‘post modern’. thing, and then this ‘speculative realist’  kind of thing; It seems to have occurred in correspondence with the methods of communication available.

The breakdown of the metanarratives that Jean-Francois Lyotard brought up occurred with the opening up of methods of communicating, namely computers and similar technology. But perhaps, old ways die hard.

Think about back in the pre-computer day: It could appear that everyone was involved in a common progress, every philosopher involved in moving toward some great reckoning of knowledge (of sorts), like knowledge itself was moving in a particular direction (of enlightenment, of progress, etc). because there was only a relatively small number of papers one could come accross, not that one could read, but just the sheer lack of theoretical material, or, at least, people could still entertain the perception that because there was only a relative few number of people who were saying anything significant, we were indeed moving in a progressive motion. Also, though, just the (again relative) small number of people who even entered into “higher education” or were even allowed if not privy to being privileged even to be able to think intelligently and critically, was extremely limited. It was easy to think there was a “manifest destiny” of sorts, an “historical conscious’ moving philosophy and indeed the world. It was easy to discount the ‘ignorant’ as the necessary condition for such ‘thought’, as an historical and divinely ordered hierarchy of progress.

Now think about now. What does it mean when we have raised the ability of the aggregate and or average of people in the world to be able to consider these once effectively esoteric philosophical ideas? Is it not possible that the product itself (philosophy) might change under different conditions? What happens, say, just as a hypothetical example, when instead of 1 out of 10000 people are able to understand, consider, ponder and respond appropriately to ideas, now 50 out of 100 are able to understand, but 75 out of 100 are able to also give a considerate response. And more: The bare fact that all these people can now actually enter the discussion via our technology. I would think that not simply do we have the situation where many more people contributing to what is possible within the possibility of thought, but more so we have an entirely new arena in which thought is possible. Indeed; do you not think there would be a difference in not only the nature of ‘thought‘ itself but in fact the ‘nature‘ of thinking also? It is an odd perplexion; we need only consider what is occurring all over the world to begin to start to understand that perhaps what we are calling thought or thinking is not something that is commonly understood, but only assumed as common thing, and indeed enforced. Must we stop at the Colonialization of a particular era? Does that now bring into question what we have merely accepted due to the Fact of Colonization?

We might discover that what we are calling thought is really a harkening to another time (time is a construct also; Heidegger beckoning us to that other time), a time when there was indeed a functioning meta-narrative, a time by which we displace our time and are unable to reconcile what we experience with what we are knowing of thought and thinking, this because we are not actually considering what is really occurring right in front if us through the ability of consciousness as it is occurring right now, but are rather considering how things should be with reference to this common thought of the past.

What might happen then if we look with opened eyes upon what is occurring now? We night find that Lyotard was correct, but in a significantly different light. It is not that we become aware in someway that we must now be critical in some form about general descriptive and directive narratives. No; such an approach is missing what is occurring for what we think should occur. It is the fact that we are unable to look at knowledge without an authority as to which knowledge we are supposed to consider, why we should consider it, and how we are allowed to consider it. It is a condition of knowledge and not some logical reductive result of a traditional heritage: The heritage is alive and well in the proposal that we had some choice over whether we should approach philosophy through these tropes (meta-narratives).

Perhaps we might be able to glimpse that what occurs through the convention of Papers is no longer a general communication that concerns a direction and purpose involved in finding out independent, dependent and dynamic aspects of our world, but rather an exclusive correspondence between those who decide which knowledge is valid, a manner by which knowledge is to be contained within a certain traditional lineage of what thinking is supposed to be, presumed to be, but indeed, perhaps, allowed to be.

You, Professor Bryant, who facilitated the very notion of Object Oriented Ontology, who entertains the idea of Being machinery, involved with the Speculative; is it not possible that what before was functioning implicitly (Zizek), invisibly, is now merely staying invisible though the very ideal mechanisms that are supposed to defy such oppression (the Modern by the post-modern: The liberal critical academy) ? Would this not be a minimum plausible factor in our moment of the attempt to account for and displace the nihilism of Modernity not coming to pass?

Think not only about how difficult and fortunate you were (are) to have gained a position as a professor at an institution, but how much more difficult it is now to get one, but also the anxiety that accompanies such a position; I am thinking of The Academic’s Peculiar Dissonance — Samir Chopra, his recent post on this topic.

**

Here I get speculative:

One could argue that it has always been difficult (We have always been disenchanted), but I might venture to say for the cloister itself, that the difficulty has reached a different timbre now, and not merely more of the same kind of difficulty; I think a different type of difficulty might be in play now. Perhaps you might disagree? No?

Perhaps it is not merely an effort to keep one’s position of power and prestige, as well as identity capital that is involved, but a creeping suspicion, maybe not even yet apprehensible, that the academy is no longer involved with the legitimacy it is proposed upon. Perhaps it is more involved in the perpetuation of a particular kind of thinking, and that this implicit agenda is behind the difficulty, and the sheer number of ‘thinkers’ that are just as able and who have just as novel thought hiding under their dresses, pants, belts, bras and jock straps, are eager congregants just waiting to impeach the Ideal Priests of the Academy so they can Preach the message?

LOL.

I do get grandiose; for sure.

 


But I think there is something in there that needs consideration –I mean, if we are indeed involved with something legitimate.

No?

Materialism And Nihilism. (or: What is Philosophy?)

We have to be careful when mining resources from traditional discourse. I have proposed here and there that we need to clean up philosophical discussion, and so I’m going to give an example, a brief and not exhaustive nor rigorously thorough, rendition of what I mean when I say we have to clean up philosophy.

Check out this post on materialism.

From a certain perspective, this ( the link) approach is not incorrect. The basis of his argument and indeed what he is saying is not incorrect in itself, which is to say, the content of his argument is not what is at issue here (though you can see my questions upon the content in the comments of his post). We might recall from an earlier post of mine I suggest there are two routes upon objects; the issue with today’s philosophy is really about one’s orientation upon objects. His argument is in good form in the content that is assumed of some sort of traditional heritage, in this case Wiki as a sort of base from which to place his discussion, is used as a sensible base today to make further statements. The Wiki reference to materialism might be a philosophically established definition, but it doesn’t take into large account that even the idea of materialism is debated as to what it’s really talking about. We might even be tempted to ponder how we are even able to come up with a category that is common enough to call materialism.

Let’s take a look at the opening statements of the wiki entry on materialism:

Materialism is a form of philosophical monism which holds that matter is the fundamental substance in nature, and that all things, including mental things and consciousness, are results of material interactions.

Materialism is closely related to physicalism, the view that all that exists is ultimately physical.

Keep in mind that I’m not suggesting that this entry does not make sense. At least, it does have a certain sense so far as it may reference other ideas to other wiki entries and generally goes on to discuss various ideas around let materialism may be.

First, the simple question has to be “what is materialism?” Then, there are two routes to go in finding out what ‘materialism’ might mean. One route is to do a Google search (above) or go to a professor of philosophy or critical thoery and ask all these places or look up in these places, “materialism”. And you get the usual type of philosophical answers. This route is so common that it is never even questioned; in fact, I would venture to say that it is usual and of course not to question this route, but more, that the contents of the search is likewise not questioned for what it contains (as a discursive form), but the only valid manner of questioning is upon meaning of the content as if the syntax is automatically correct as a (redundantly) syntactical form that conveys direct and equivocal meaning (that can be reduced to common) .

This may sound as if we are rehashing old postmodern modes, but it is distinctly modern in the sense that the reader cannot dismiss herself from that fact that is taking place at this moment: This moment is modern. Even if we were to attach some theoretical qualifiers to define this moment as post- modern (or post-post modern, as I like to call it), the manner by which we are able to come to the idea that this particular reading is postmodern is a modern manner. The segregating present modes or forms into categorical definitions is a modern form. The theoretical denial of this fact allows us to come to certain sensibilities about what is occurring in this moment, that is, the moment of this reading (now – are you dismissing yourself from your reading! you are reading this right now. Not in the present: Only in this moment, this modern moment) which we will not go into detail here.

The question on the table is “what is materialism”? Where do I look for this answer is the next question, the supporting question. Then, for this route that we are shedding light upon (a light that many are ((color)) blind to), the next question is: What am I trying to accomplish by taking this route? I think this is really the fundamental philosophical question involved in everything that we call philosophy; but as well, it is a question that philosophy in general, I think, largely ignores. So I can say this in the original sense of postmodern, a sense that is not the common sense of our day’s view. It is a different sense that few people care about because its basis of value is different. What is the purpose I am fulfilling or attempting to complete through taking this route? To answer ‘to gain information’ is too vague, and too redundant, but if you are OK with that answer then perhaps it is not philosophy that you are involved with (hence another reason why I say we need clean up philosophy).

The first answer to the first question shows what is involved with philosophy. If my first answer is to seek the answer somewhere else, then we already know about a certain orientation upon things, and we need not look anywhere else: This route is the route which places modernity within a prior structural situation by which the agent of that structure lives out her days. This is found because the first answer is not so often: I already know what materialism is. The answer to the first question is: Materialism is a philosophical category that is defined by or otherwise associated with material. If this question is not asked and answered first, then we have a particular kind of philosophical undertaking that yields a particular kind of philosophical answer. When this is asked and answered first, then the next question becomes: What is material? And the answer again comes automatically to sense: It is the stuff that things are made out of or otherwise constituent of.

Now; lets look at a simple definition of ‘material’ without all the previous hoopla:
{Btw: I have not yet looked it up; the definition I am putting here is after I wrote this promt. So lets see:}

– Material. “The matter from which a thing is or can be made”

So now:
– ‘matter’: “That which occupies space and has mass”

OK:
– ‘space’: (we will forego the strict mathematical definitions that are given first):
“An extent or expanse of a surface or three-dimensional area”

– ‘Mass’: “1. a coherent, typically large body of matter with no definite shape. 3. physics
the quantity of matter that a body contains, as measured by its acceleration under a given force or by the force exerted on it by a gravitational field.”

I don’t know about you, but there is no definition here, in this series, that is anything unexpected forme. I bet I could go on defining the various terms, in a plain an uncomplicated manner, and never encounter a meaning that I didn’t expect (even though with physics I would probably begin to encounter definitions that I don’t immediately understand, in particular, if they began to use mathematical symbols to denote the specific meanings).

So I will ask the same question I asked at the beginning, again: What am I trying to accomplish, not only by asking the question, but by taking the route to find the answer?

*space-supernova-hd-wallpaper1

The problem I am seeing must take into account that there are different levels of learners, and that when doing a blog, I must consider the possibility that people are of various stages in their learning, but are coming across (online; through text) with a strong sense of assertion and propriety, like they have been taught to act like (sometimes, I do come across people who are humble enough to admit to their shortcomings, and that is a breath of fresh air, because then I get to learn in a whole new way also). What I mean is, while online I tend to take everyone on the same level, and deal and treat them as equals, the facts tend to show themselves to the possibility that many people are actually somewhat, either, immature in their thinking, or representative of a certain type of thinker. It is this latter that brings me to consider why we need to clean up philosophical discussion: We are not only talking about different things, we are indeed using different methods to come to various answers. But because no one has delineated or come up with a way to distinguish these types, everyone takes philosophy as a general category in which everyone participates in a sort of common arena of ideas. I am saying that there is no such common arena, or, that the common arena is an assumption that is not, or becoming, no longer a valid assumption. The common arena is not only assumed, but enforced.

It is not merely that people are in various stages of learning or in different departments, different philosophical aspects, such as epistemology or ontology, nor the worn-out continental and analytical traditions. It is that there are two different manners of enacting, appropriating and elucidating philosophical problems as well as solutions, and the assumption that these two arenas can cross-communicate is creating a situation of philosophy that we can rightly call miscommunication, or just plain, no communication. (see Leotard, Badiou and as well as a few others who grapple with this same problem, but who were, frankly, not able to enact or accompany the ‘impossible’ solution. Laruelle may be the only one who actually takes a chance – but there are probably others). The assumption that the discrepancy can be overcome is a categorical error that is enacted due to the traditional modern mode of philosophcial thinking, what we can loosely call Enlightenment thinking – but we might also loosely categorize these thinkers as those who view the failure of this Enlightenment to equate to The failure of civilization. And, in so much as we can also rightly understand modern and postmodern as complicit in the maintenance of a particular program of Enlightenment, it is then not too far off the mark to call the perpetuation of this enterprise post-postmodern, or just get un-theoretically honest, and call it Neo-modernism, a type of ages old effort of declining civilizations to rehash, and reinstate a dying ‘realism’ of yesteryear, a ‘return to the good old days’ of definite real truths (Realism).

But did we ever really stop moving forward ? Re-read (or read) “The Postmodern Condition” again and tell me if Lyotard was not situating things in light of techne. Is it any wonder that a certain Realist has attempted a discussion about over- and under-determinations? Over and under – mining ? Despite how short those discussions may extend, various truths about the ability and function of human consciousness must always show itself in time even if through different frequencies and angles. We are caught in a technical motion that has little to do with how we constitute our state of Being: The State is known, that is how, logistically, we are able to interact with technology the way we do. The various issues of consciousness are now inseparable from our technical world (if they were ever understood as separate). Any argument to the contrary is nearly superfluous (if not different).

*

This is not bleak; it is not an apocalyptic prophecy. Such gloom and doom are from the “prophets of the old Testament” projecting their dismay on the manner by which they only have to make a (dishonest) living (in the production of “honest” theory). They misunderstand reality; they are caught in a kind of upside-down ‘hope’ (faith), a kind of transcendental yearning for a ontological justification of a religious affect. 

In a way, we could see this effort (here, behind this essay) is the uprooting of the whole discursive paradigm by which we come to not only traditional philosophical conclusions, but indeed the manner that the tradition remains intact as a common method. By this, I mean to alarm the philosophical police, those philosophers that Slavoj Zizek mentions in his book “Event”. The philosophical police are on guard for philosophical statements or proposals that would seek to undo all our social political and ideological structures; basically, the philosophical police are the clerics of our current religious ideology (reality).

We have to ask what exactly these philosophical police might be on guard against, because so many of the philosophical police don’t even know that they’re working for the department; they naturally uphold a traditional sense of rationality and reason without even contemplating or being able to approach the idea that the sense that they have of rationality is itself an actual religious attitude. In short, what the philosophical police do is look for nihilism. They look for philosophical statements that represent or argue for, to them, nothing (good), and then basically assert their religious identity upon that which otherwise appears to them as chaos, anarchy or just plain nonsense (they have no criterion by which to discern real nonsense from logical nonsense: Real nonsense makes no sense to the practical and actual living that occurs in the real world; logical nonsense has no sense and cannot be made to have sense). They are apparently incapable of understanding what nihilism means without the context of their traditional religious dogma. The content of nihilism to them is effective negation of their belief system, or what should be more probably called a real religious scaffolding of meaning, even extending into the philosophical metaphysical justifications. Indeed; we only use the term to indicate where it lacks.

But we already know, if we understand what Jean-Francois Lyotard said in The first chapter of his essay “The Postmodern Condition”, what happens to people that are attempting to develop a discourse of the content of what is traditionally known as nihilism: They are ignored, de facto; they are unheard and they are automatically and axiomatically excluded from what is already understood – through the modern religious dogma (if I may be so bold) – as knowledge. Those who would discuss the content of what has been X’d-out and marked off on the map of real and valid knowledge as “monsters be here” are unheard.

So it is with this small and quick primer that I say as soon as someone said the word ‘materialism’, 150+ years or so ago, to continue along various definitions of how that materialism may be wrong in its definition or this materialism is a more proper way to situate it, the basic problem has been that these subsequent authors, the subsequent religious philosophers who basically are unable to consider their position as a religious position due to the same phenomenon that I’m talking about with materialism, founded nihilism – where such philosophers, who want to argue against and improve upon the definitions of fundament or and establish terms (what are they doing?) cannot bring themselves to understand the nihilistic intention behind the term itself, there do we have (do I have to really say it), the philosophical police. We then need to reflect upon where my capacity as a philosopher is breached. We have to consider that what I understand as true is different from what is real (has differentiated), and we have to consider the fact that I am able to make sense out of it that is communicated in one moment, and not in another.

So; if I am in to remain in good form, as form is form despite what tradition might say, then I can no longer take the term materialism and add or subtract something to it, like Badiou talks about. The addition and subtraction of term identities must occur in an arena that is different from that which posits the ordinary definition.

*

Then all the alarms go off with this one. If my readership goes down to zero then I know I have succeeded in offending religious sensibility. (Just kidding! Please keep reading.) Getting back to the question: Is there any part of the definitions above that indicate or inherently and automatically attaches to a referent? An imperative where things in-themselves are automatically and mutually excluded from the thoughts about them? From where does such an exclusion take hold and for what purpose? What is offensive or incorrect in the statement “Only material exists”? Material is that which we deal with. It is that which we deal with always and at all times. It is ultimately and always discursive, and any reference of discourse to something outside or beyond discourse is automatically discursive. The proof is found in the question: If there is something outside of discourse? What is it? Can you tell me without using discourse? Can discourse refer to something that is not discursive? These questions are foundational and pivotal to discerning what philosophy is able to do and what it is allowed (permitted) to do.

I see nothing in this which contradicts any of those extsnsions of definition above. Yet, once we understand this, once we see that there are indeed people who will have issue with this, then we can begin to notice where people, philosophers in general, are being somehow deceptive or at least being or carrying on a certain incognition about the state of affairs; and we have to ask them: For what purpose? I call such people ‘real philosophers’, or philosophers that are concerned with reality. Nothing wrong with that; just there is discussion that is as valid and pertinent to what is occurring that those kind of philosphers will not consider. This is not an accusation; it is a mere fact of what occurs. Am I ‘incorrect’ or am I accused because I have breasts? This is also a foundational and pivotal type of question.

*

To wrap this little ditty up, to really nail it home and sew it up tight, we must bring in Lyotard postmodern condition again and point out how so utterly honest and true his statements were: The state will be no longer of concern and eventually will be left behind all together.

Damn. What the hell was I talking about?

Bye.

Post-post-modern-modernism: The Mistake of Irony; Or, The Ironic Mistake.

Perhaps a little bitty on postmodernism and the, what could be labeled of our current situation, post-post-modern-modernism.

Here are a couple links that roughly define the conventional problem I will address in this essay. The first is a little less ridiculous than than the second. The first offers us an argument for why postmodernism is not dead, but is rather the condition upon which people find a new agency. David Foster Wallace is talking from so far down the conventional hole – at least, that he was at some point- his polemic reveals how deep his confusion is or was, as the case may be ( no disrespect intended).

http://partialobjects.com/2011/08/what-comes-after-postmodernism/

This is not to say that there was not this postmodern thing-era that these authors are talking about; it is also very interesting, and possibly ironic, that postmodernism has been seen as first represented in architecture (so says the first link). Nevertheless, the era was the conventional reaction to a large misunderstanding that continues.

It is not difficult to find a link between Constructive Undoing and postmodernism, especially with the irony/convention duality that has arisen here. So, in light of this parallel, and that irony is too often defined to postmodernism through deconstruction, sarcasm, posed apathy, withdrawal, multivocality and the like, as well that irony does not stem from any sort of reaction (though pm may) as it merely takes the proposed new as old hat, as already given before it became new, one has to hit it straight on, as a tangent, one might say. As the post of the link says, with “arms folded tight” one continues to lift; irony works, despite the conventional reaction.

We should look into this reaction. To do this, we will use the framework of the definition of irony, taken from Dictionary.com ( as of spetember, 2013) since the typical conventional misunderstanding involved with the coupling of irony and postmodernism is at play; the reaction allows postmodernism to be placed outside of its ironic bearings.

[Note: This essay is a shortened version.]

Irony:

1.)the use of words to convey a meaning that is the opposite of its literal meaning: the irony of her reply, “How nice!” when I said I had to work all weekend.

Literature.
A.) a technique of indicating, as through character or plot development, an intention or attitude opposite to that which is actually or ostensibly stated.
(especially in contemporary writing)

B.) a manner of organizing a work so as to give full expression to contradictory or complementary impulses, attitudes, etc., especially as a means of indicating detachment from a subject, theme, or emotion.

3.)Socratic irony. (which is defined as feigned ignorance.)

4.) dramatic irony.

5.) an outcome of events contrary to what was, or might have been, expected.

6.) the incongruity of this.

7.) an objectively sardonic style of speech or writing.

8.) an objectively or humorously sardonic utterance, disposition, quality, etc.

Generally, all the definitions reiterate the fifth definition; basically, the opposite of what is expected expressed in the various arenas. (A) and (B) are literary devices of turning plot or meaning. (3) is an idiomatic expression of the complete misunderstanding of Socrates, a one-sided view. (4) is little more than (3); (5) restates all the definitions. (6),(7) and (8) are the key definitions, the ones that have been elicited from the most offense of irony, in the postmodern sense.

The really interesting thing about irony is the absolute comedy of its seriousness; in all seriousness, this is the most offensive aspect of irony, and is the reason postmodernism has become a kind of stigma in philosophy, a kind of joke for modern thought so much that it had to ‘die’. Where do I laugh? Where do I nod? How can I tell if what is being said is really meant for what it says? The irony never ends, and everyone wants ends. Most every one wants to be told the punch line – but not overtly; everyone wants to be in on the joke. But the joke and the deep meaning are one in the same; if you have to guess or wonder, then you get embarrassed: you are offended.

Though I can’t be sure about the intent of definition number 6, I assume it refers to definition number 5. In fact, unless it is a type-o, the definition is probably intended to mean irony as the incongruity of what is expected and what actually occurs, in distinction to def. 5 where irony is the “outcome”. If I say I am a liar, and then I lie, the irony could be not very ironic or be very ironic depending on what has been signaled, but the incongruity of this is that one would have to guess, that is, unless the liar while telling the truth were indeed poetic as he lay, for then he would indeed be lying. But what if he were telling the truth?? As it is, the definition number 6, as a definition for irony, is quite ironic, because none of the other definitions reference the other definitions, but we are expected to see that number 6 does. It is a simple pleasure then to think that the authors of this definition included just this presentation (of 6) as a particular definition of irony because probably the best definition of irony is the incongruity of this, as it is not only a definition, but also an example. And just as such a simple pleasure could be a proclivity of some people, this paragraph itself will find many quite fed up and see no humor or pleasure in this exposition; they find it corny or even lacking in a certain finesse or refinement, or perhaps they find it too subtle. Yet it is just this kind of insensitivity or intolerance that seeks ends, that, if not indicated to the punch, will develop a position highly distanced from it, the ironic move so lowly and indistinctive as it is patronized.

Such a humor is of the most inside that one can fathom, so it is no wonder that most cannot help but develop a resentment concerning its irony. To them, they are being made the butt of a joke; like some sort of transcendent wit they miss, they maintain their seriousness as they pull the heavenly act down to their mundane decisions and proclaim and accuse and dismiss. It is not a wonder postmodernism has a bad rap; the dense can hardly hold a tune, let alone wish to appreciate the finest symphony in the world without the liner notes. Grinding their teeth together they talk lightheartedly and then seriously about this and that fashion, all the while truly being the object of ridicule that was never intended for them except that they made it such. “We are not laughing at them, we are just laughing,” and they have much more serious things by which to set their recreation.

(7) and (8). The definition of ‘sardonic’: characterized by bitter or scornful derision; mocking; cynical; sneering: a sardonic grin. In other words, the distasteful, ‘dark side’ of irony: “objectively sardonic”. The attitude behind this irony is an anxious individual, almost despairing of the world. The irony is a type of ‘sick’ humor; his denial is palatable. This one has come close to his theoretical, indeed actual, demise and spits out his fate upon everyone and the world (the objects) because it is the world. Ironically, the world has let him to know, and he doesn’t like it; he doesn’t like being dominated but he has found his distance from it in one of two ways: a) The world is shitty. The world of history is not the place of his childhood dreams; it has brought everything opposite childish happiness had more than hoped for. He wants to be free, but his conscience tells him its all a sham, and this is known to him due to the world’s history coming upon him. The oppressive world. b) His attitude is justified in righteousness. The offense of the shitty world is countered by the nobility of human presence: the world is great, it is working in his behalf. This nobility is held in countenance for the world, but soon the world rejects it, it counters every move. A suitable image must be maintained; the oppressive individual. In both, the object is prominent; in (a), it is the object proper to convention, in (b), the individual, the subject-object, the subject of convention. Whether it is in reference to some ‘childhood dream’ or the ‘grown-up’ approach to reality before him or her, the motion is that the nobility rejects the rejection and the world crumbles; it deconstructs because the individual is no longer complicit with the world, but again, offended by it. The individual perpetually lives in a fear of his own making, cast upon the world that is surely going bad from the activities of himself – if only he could just leave, or, can he save it in time!

*

The reaction here is ironic; the ironic-sardonic postmodernist and the individual that sets postmodernism to a proper era are both implicitly involved in the conventional reaction. Consciousness, by its very nature, is a retreat from the world; perhaps more precisely, the world is consciousness’s retreat from existence. The individual who is being ironic by realizing that the world of the great (at least, modernist in the last, but conventional in its beginning) human history has brought itself to destruction, is reacting not to the world, but to her inability to reconcile it to her knowledge; her knowledge does not ‘reach’ the object. The reaction is completely of alienation, which is to say, the individual is not alienated due to some historical social motion where she is offended at the state of the world and so withdraws from it, but rather the individual is alienated from herself due to her rather un-ironic belief (faith) in the oppressing thing of the world, that is, that there is this world, which is reality, the conventional world of the true object. This is not so much that the world brought itself to its own destruction, but that the world did not destruct, and this is to say that the world did not find solution, but that the world is insolvent. The result of the world finding a new way due to the old way not working, or bringing itself upon destruction, is not finding a solution in this new way, the result is that the new way is exactly the same as the old way, that the two ‘ways’ could not but have caused and resulted from each other necessarily, that the causes will be found conventionally. The reaction is thus not of the world but of the meaning that the individual has derived from it, which contradicts that the human was ever part of the world in the first place. Then the reaction becomes dismissive, yielding the ‘that’s just life’ tail. Asserting the priority of beliefs and their function for finding ‘the good’, the reaction wields the power of resentment in hopes of stifling and ending all dissension.

The belief itself, the act or motion the term ‘belief’ signifies of faith, is what creates or allows for the alienated individual; the condition of the human being in reality is the separated individual. This separation, basic to the individual, is what constitutes freedom, the great future of progress, as well as its complimentary spiritual form of union (yoga) and ‘return’ (Christ, messiah, or ‘anointed one’; the motion as ‘to anoint’ connotes a uniting of separate substances, yet where one significant or uncommon element is rubbed on a regular or common element, and in this moment the two are transformed; the blessed oil becomes merely oil, the common, significant. The misused idea of ‘karma’, so prevalent in the West, falls in here also.) Nevertheless, it is recognition or realization, a coming into knowledge, that develops ‘alienation’ as a lived experience. But the inherent and unavoidable condition of human consciousness is separation.

Anxiety and despair over such a realization is usually understood to be relieved by two moves, though there are really three; the first two are conventional. The first is denial, where the realization is avoided. This reaction replaces the old with the new as part and parcel of willed, reasoned progress. The initial problem here is replaced with the solution that is human agency, the negotiation of parties, be it spiritual negotiation or mundane. The second is insanity. Both of these reactions are complicit in the resolution to the problem, since there is no true overcoming of the discrepancy; faith in reality accomplishes this feat through denial; hence, denial and insanity are the only real options. I emphasize real options, in the sense that I have already been developing conventional faith; anything else is absurd, insane. Thus the third option is the non-conventional, the ‘not-real’ option (Francois Laruelle might call this the Real option); the reconciliation that can come only does so with existence, through the experience of irony: denial and acceptance become not mutually exclusive.

The human being in existence cannot but help behaving in the only way it can: ultimately determined in every activity. But this activity, this existence, is also human consciousness; it can only behave the way it does. This is to say on one hand that consciousness does not behave or operate in any way separate from the behavior of existence, but also on the other that its operation is to have a world that is sufficiently separate from itself by which it can then perform its functions, and these are exactly formed and allowed for through the partition we call free will, that is, choice. Human consciousness must have a true object, it cannot function without it, but in order for there to be a true object there must be a correspondant of at least equal stature, and this is the individual thoughtful human being. The evident aspect of consciousness is thought, and is itself a mode or motion of the existing universe. Thought thereby retains an effectively universal operational structure as part of its nature, which is to say, the processes and features of knowing resonate the very motion of the universe as course, which is unity. Yet unity, unfortunately for the individual, can only exist by separation; only in the condition of separation can a notion of unity have meaning. Separation and unity have a significance for the meaning making existent human being; the tension or motion thereof, which is vacillation, is not allowed in the progressive reality: reality relies upon the equanimity of subject and object as real things, absolutely true objects, and its privileging of either dependent upon the circumstance at hand as the circumstance is foundational in indicating progress.

Stepping back from this, we can say nevertheless, once the equilibrium, or symmetry, of the statures of true object and thinking subject are upset, existence effectively takes over its proper imperative, that is, the sanctity of the true object begins to fail for knowledge, and knowledge likewise is compromised of its ability to ‘hold off’ the encroachment of the operation of thought upon itself: consciousness then must uphold its existential operation, as its foundation is the differend between thought and object, and the reduction of the knowledge of the object to the object of knowledge eventually brings thought into a consideration of itself, as an object of itself. Only in the balance that holds the (inner) subject and (outer) object at sufficient distance in consciousness can one say that the objective dominates; psychology is the conventional method that attempts to keep the distance of thought and object, to maintain the balance. Once this symmetry is lost, however, the motion never falls toward the object, the motion is always toward the knowing subject, falling in upon the subject of knowledge until consciousness almost comes upon itself and faith is reestablished; this can be called, what is typically known as a ‘psychological breakthrough’ or a ‘spiritual experience’. Where it indeed truly comes upon itself, we call this insanity or death. Where the individual is incapable of functioning constructively in the group of humanity, conventional reality is upheld by the group through a faith that functions to keep the balance and maintain the symmetry of the subject and object in knowledge, as an objective aspect, and thought, as a subjective aspect, which is to say, in knowledge that such an individual is insane defined as a true object for the purpose of establishing the standard for the individual: the subject (subject-object), and in thought for the purpose of establishing the objective standard of reality: the object.

*

The usual reading of postmodern exposition is contained thus far; not for a reiteration of it, but to a step from it. Though more than a few authors either contributed to the development of postmodernism, or step from it, to offer their version, I address two authors here: Jean-Paul Sartre and Francois Laruelle. Through a particularly conventional lens, each offers a stating of the point of contention, a reiteration, as well as a reconciliation of the ironic problem, while saying, really, ironically, the same thing. The punch line: the discrepancy (the individual is established in separation) is solved through an assertion of essential freedom. Again, this is to say that both proposals arise through a denial of existence and an assertion of the true object. This, in effect, is the definition of what Sarte terms “bad faith”, as I have argued of Laruelle in the Direct Tangents of Constructive Undoing.

Sartre’s points are foundational. The reduction of thought to an object of itself opens meaning to an ‘abyss’ of freedom, where meaning comes to its own essential lack. To (here now) reiterate the foregoing, the essence of meaning (if we can say there is such a thing) is seen to be vacant, void, nil, as Slavoj Zizek has said of the subject. This knowledge of contradiction, meaning that is no meaning, causes the individual angst, or Kierkegaardian ‘despair’; in my terms, the individual understands that the reality through which he or she was moving, that has been established and motivated through basic, what was before thought, true tenants of reality, true objects, is found to be not true. Sartre’s move then is to ‘revolt’ from this ‘nothingness’, since the individual supposedly sees now that meaning is arbitrary, and thereby find true freedom because the individual sees that he is no longer constrained by any essential, determined, or otherwise actual truth of any matter whatsoever.

Laruelle, if we are able to set aside the conventional-temporal object for one moment, where Laruelle builds his non-philosophy due to Sartre’s and others’ ideas before him, we may find his address through what I shall use as his basic idea. While all of his terms interact and compound upon one another to indicate the same thing, which is the point of contention, his ‘unilateral duality’ works to indicate the last conventional object. The ‘future Christ’ he terms as a culmination or basic differential which allows or accounts for the total meaning of, what I call, the scheme of meaning that is conventional reality, the meaningful organization of true objects. By summoning total meanings of significant oppositional objects, his critique of philosophy proper reduces its operational terms to explain conventional reality; he limits conventional reality to the arena of ‘philosophy’ for strategic reasons, and calls the consequence or result of this reduction the ‘Real’. Using the idea of future Christ, his reconciliation poses some sort of radical agency – mind you, ‘agency’ has been likewise re-situated in non-agency – that, one is to gather, comes about through a proper understanding of reality. The reason he can appear, as we say, ‘in the last’, is the real and the Real remain for him ‘lateral’ or maybe better, parallel but are situated more properly upon a parallax. The freedom of Sartre is similarly re-situated with the ‘radical’ form of knowing and proposes some more evolved state of humanity.

Again, keep in mind that I am presenting a typically conventional reading of these authors, that the fact of their presentations are routinely and faithfully, in Laruelle’s terms, ‘made into another philosophical object’, a representation of the point of contention. The problem is at all times conventionally upheld for reality, Real or free. The problem is not the presentation that these authors enact, but the re-presentation: the overcoming of the true object is impossible for conventional reality.

Hence, perhaps a better rendition of the matter at hand can be better situated to address the impossible. To put it directly into conventional grasp, we might then see that to confront the impossible is a matter of insanity.

*

Yet before we venture into the impossible, I would like to offer a small quote from Thomas Nagel, and his effort from the possible, of staying in the possible:

“However, I do not find theism any more credible than materialism as a comprehensive world view. My interest is in the territory between them. I believe that these two radically opposed conceptions of ultimate intelligibility cannot exhaust the possibilities. All explanations come to an end somewhere. Both theism and materialism say that at the ultimate level, there is one form of understanding. But would an alternative secular conception be possible that acknowledged mind and all that it implies, not as the expression of divine intention but as a fundamental principle of nature along with physical law?”
~ ‘Antireductionism and the Natural Order’, in Mind and Cosmos, p.22.

One should see that Nagel’s situation is nothing larger than what Soren Kierkegaard offered 160 years ago: Is there a teleological suspension of the ethical? For the question Nagel asks here is nothing greater than conventional, though he might be trying to indicate something more (we shall see). Nagel is asking if there is a way to bring the remnants or basics of the bifurcated real meaning wherein we have idealist subjectivism and religious transcendence/immanence versus materialist objectivism, into a scheme of meaning that does not indicate upon such distinction, which is to say, does not reify the insolvency. The answer is: conventionally, no. All human reality depends upon the duality of meaningful categories; the real is the universal is the ethical. The answer ironically is: yes.

Direct Tangent 3.1: Appropriation of the Rhetoric of Power, part 2

There is a book called “Castes of Mind” by a man maned Dirks. It is an historical analysis and critique of 19th century English colonialism through an overtly cultural difference, caste, and how this feature of Indian culture was dealt with both by the English in an attempt to rule, and the Indians attempting to assert cultural autonomy and agency. I do not remember what his argument is beyond a picture of this interaction, but what I inferred from his presentation was this idea of appropriation of rhetoric, what feminists and modern theorists and activists call, but from a slightly but significantly different view, ‘hegemonic discourse’. Dirks is giving us a picture of how ideology asserts itself through a process of discourse, where those who have the power, in the case of colonialism in India: England ( but colonialism in general), dictate the terms of the cultural negotiation upon the colonized, namely, the indigenous Indians. The scheme or group of terms and their definitional relations are seen as a mechanism or tool of asserting power (read: violence) upon those who are colonized, and, as a very light definition, this is called ‘hegemony’.

What this means is that those in power bring the terms by which those not in power may be allowed to exist. And this is literally the case. Dirks paints a picture of how this really means for us that people are permitted to exist through discourse. One example (keep in mind I am not doing a research paper here; I am merely recalling the book from memory – one can easily look up the book for themselves if interested) he gives is about some Indian ritual. If I remember correctly, Dirks is drawing his analysis from written material of the time of the events, from various sources. The significant point here, is that the English there had trouble making sense of it. When they would ask the locals what was going on, or their feelings about it or the reason behind it, the English had no context by which to understand them. The Indians were effectively silent; they could not be heard: they effectively did not exist. Because of this, the English could only act upon the events through the understanding they had, which was total misunderstanding. The English, because of their position of power, were righteous in their view, having little or no ability to understand that they perhaps did not understand the Indian context: the Indian context was exactly what the English thought it was. Thus, the Indian context, the reason and meaning of the ritual in this case, was ultimately written by the English. The Indians, in an effort to establish their cultural legitimacy thus, in various ways and circumstances, developed a position in relation to what the English were saying, and doing, and in this way the Indians began to exist, for if they did not respond to such rhetoric in that fashion, they would in effect ‘remain silent’, and would thus be forced, physically, existentially, out of existence.

This is the typical feminist reading, analysis and comment upon such a situation; there are many such analyses upon various cultural contexts. The feminists propose to reconcile this hegemony, to balance this abuse of power and infringement of human autonomy and rights, by advocating that the colonized people, whether it be women, blacks, Hispanics, Argentinians, Koreans, hair dressers, union workers, or what, raise their voices, as the Indians did, by asserting themselves actively into the discourse, what one could call, the priority discourse, or the discourse of power, what i call a ‘rhetoric of power’ for reasons I will develop later.

What I am saying is a critique of such feminist rhetoric. The Feminists say that one needs to appropriate the hegemonic discourse, so that there is enacted thereby a shift in power, so it loses its effective hegemony. See, hegemony is read to imply agenda that is not recognized or approved of by those who are the subjects of the hegemony. But I suggest that what occurs is not that the people are empowered to their agency, but rather, they themselves become subject of the rhetoric of power such that they then too get to partake in the spoils of – what has developed out of – the hegemony, of colonialism. The people who appropriate the priority discourse lose their identity as individual cultural agents, and instead become, as Paulo Freire might agree ( maybe, but his was not at this level of critique), oppressed: involved in the game of oppression, both the oppressor and oppressed likewise caught in play. The oppressed, who learn the ways of the oppressor, become acculturated such that they are rewarded for their complicity, and thereby sustain the game of oppression. Neither have enacted a true free agency, neither have come upon praxis; both are oppressed.

* *

This is the position Laruelle appears to be presenting, the position I present here. Laruelle has appropriated the rhetoric of power, the priority discourse, in order to present his minority view, which is exactly silent – but as opposed to the movement of feminist-colonialist theoretics, which present the possibility of pushing agencies out of real existence by virtue of the establishing reality of the hegemonic (priority) discourse. And, it is because of this feature of his proposing Non-Philosophy within or by the priority discourse that he appears to be in Bad Faith.

It is thus the explicating of this appearance that is my task at hand here. The existence Laruelle proposes is exactly real opposed to the reality of the rhetoric of power.