Immanuel Kant is one of Alain Badiou’s principle philosophical enemies. Kant’s critical philosophy is anathema to Badiou not only because of the latter’s openly aired hatred of the motif of finitude so omnipresent in post-Kantian European intellectual traditions—Badiou blames Kant for inventing this motif—but also because of its idealism. For Badiou-the-materialist, as for any serious philosophical materialist writing in Kant’s wake, transcendental idealism must be dismantled and overcome. In his most recent works (especially 2006’s Logiques des mondes), Badiou attempts to (...) invent a non-Kantian notion of the transcendental, a notion compatible with the basic tenets of materialism. However, from 1988’s Being and Event up through the present, Badiou’s oeuvre contains indications that he hasn’t managed fully to purge the traces of Kantian transcendental idealism that arguably continue to haunt his system—with these traces clustering around a concept Badiou christens “counting-for-one” (compter-pour-un). The result is that, in the end, Kant’s shadow still falls over Badiouian philosophy—this is despite Badiou’s admirable, sophisticated, and instructive attempts to step out from under it—thus calling into question this philosophy’s self-proclaimed status as materialist through and through. (shrink)
Is your God really God? -- Believing in God -- On the "names" of God -- The meaning of "God" and the common conception of God -- What is salvation? -- Salvation versus spiritual materialism -- The idolatrous religions -- The ban on idolatry -- Idolatry as perverse worship -- Graven images and the highest one -- Idolatry as servility -- The rhetoric of idolatrousness -- The same God -- The Pharisees' problem with Jesus -- Could we be idolaters? -- (...) Supernaturalism and scientism -- Scientism and superstition -- Supernaturalism -- Legitimate naturalism -- Scientism versus science -- The argument for naturalism from true religion -- The phenomenological approach -- The method and the question -- Yahweh's use of the method -- A criterion or an enclosed circle -- Yahweh's criterion applied to himself -- Forgiving the God -- A reply to yahweh's answer to job -- Is there an internal criterion of religious falsehood? -- The pope's criterion of religious falsehood -- A consequence of the pope's criterion -- Religious and scientific fallibilism -- Why God? -- Doesn't substantive reasonableness suffice? -- The fall -- Homo incurvatus in se -- The redeemer? -- After monotheism -- The highest one -- The tetragrammaton -- The paradox of the highest one -- Speaking of the highest one -- Existents as dependent aspects of existence itself -- An alternative to the thomistic interpretation of the highest one -- Process panentheism -- The goodness of the highest one -- The analogy of logos -- Process panentheism -- The self-disclosure of existence itself -- The problem is with the pantheon -- Panentheism not pantheism -- Distinguishing panentheism and pantheism -- Presence -- Presence as disclosure -- Is being almost entirely wasted? -- Ubiquitous presence -- Against natural representation -- Representation and "carrying information" -- Can causation account for aboutness? -- What could replace the representationalist tradition? -- A diagnosis of the representationalist's mistake -- A transformed picture of "consciousness" and reality -- Confirming the surprising hypothesis -- The mind of God -- The objectivity of the realm of sense -- How the structure of presence might impose evolutionary constraints -- Objective mind and the mind of the highest one -- The doubly donatory character of reality -- Does God exist? -- The highest one -- Christianity without spiritual materialism -- Religion and violence -- The Gospel according to Girard -- Where is original sinfulness? -- Original sinfulness as self-will and false righteousness -- Christ destroys the kingdom of self-will and false righteousness -- The afterlife as an idolatrous conceit -- Against "man's quest for meaning" -- The afterlife as resistance to Christ -- Naturalism's gift : resurrection without the afterlife. (shrink)
Not only is Lacan’s repeatedly advanced assertion that Freud categorically denies the existence of unconscious affects a misleading oversimplification of Freud’s various ambivalent discussions of this issue—Lacan’s own circumnavigations around the topic of affect are much more nuanced and subtle than either he or many of his commentators often acknowledge. What’s more, such complexities aren’t confined solely to the tenth seminar of 1962-1963 devoted to a sustained discussion of anxiety, a seminar to which Lacan sometimes appeals in response to criticisms (...) according to which he reduces the psychoanalytic unconscious to the lifeless formal skeleton of pure linguistic-symbolic units alone. Through analyzing Lacan’s explorations of the distinction between signifiers and affects (especially in connection with the Freudian concept-term Vorstellungsrepräsentanz) as articulated across the full span of le Séminaire, this essay seeks to complicate and problematize the standard picture of Lacan’s metapsychology of affective life. In so doing, it strives to clarify hitherto obscure remarks made about affects by Lacan as well as, through this work of clarification, to lay down foundational elements for the construction of a much more accurate and systematic rendition of a Lacanian theory of affects. (shrink)
The theoretical value of talking to the media isn’t hard to appreciate. Who doesn’t want to shape the public conversation, whether to make it more nuanced and reasoned or to bring injustice and wrongdoing to light? Issues you’ve studied are in the news and you get to be the expert, pointing out what’s wrong, or right, or offering another way of thinking about a difficult question. If you’re lucky, you get your name in print—and in a publication your friends and (...) family actually read. But it can also be intimidating. I used to feel like the hapless witness about to be cross-examined by the wily attorney. I’d heard about the twenty-four-hour news cycle and the push to appeal to the lowest common denominator. .. (shrink)
A transition from brittle to ductile behaviour of single-phase polycrystals is shown experimentally to be a consequence of a change in slip character rather than of a change in yield stress. In the case of a b.c.c. Fe-Co alloy, deformation by planar glide induces brittleness, whereas the alloy is ductile if it deforms exclusively by wavy glide. For a series of copper-base solid solutions loaded in mercury, the degree of embrittlement increases with planarity of glide. The Cottrell-Petch equation can account (...) for such behaviour provided the appropriate parameter, k y, is re-considered in terms of the number of operable slip systems and the propensity for cross slip. (shrink)
On 22 July, 2011, we were confronted with the horror of the actions of Anders Behring Breivik. The instant reaction, as we have seen with similar incidents in the past—such as the Oklahoma City bombings—was to attempt to explain the incident. Whether the reasons given were true or not were irrelevant: the fact that there was a reason was better than if there were none. We should not dismiss those that continue to cling on to the initial claims of a (...) wider Jihadist plot behind the actions of Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols as Islamophobes (or merely lacking common sense): for, it is often easier to rely on reason—no matter how fictional—than not to have anything to cling on at all. In many ways, it is even better if the reason is fictional: for, if grounded in a certain fact, or reality, it can then go away. However, if it is in the realm of the imaginary, it is then always already metaphorical: thus, can be applied to any and every situation. And it is this, if we echo Friedrich Nietzsche, that gives us our “metaphysical comfort”; that we can know what is going on. This is why conspiracy theories are so popular: underlying them is the logic that someone—no matter how implausible—is in control of the situation. One would rather believe that all acts of terror stemmed from Osama bin Laden (and the narrative worked even better when he was in a ‘cave in Afghanistan’) than if they were the actions, and decisions, of singular individuals. For, if there is a head organizing everything, it can be cut off; there is no controlling a mass of singularities. As Jean Baudrillard continues to teach us, the term ‘mass’ is not a concept. It is a leitmotif of political demagogy, a soft, sticky, lumpen-analytical notion. A good sociology would attempt to surpass it with ‘more subtle’ categories: socio-professional ones, categories of class, cultural status, etc. This is wrong: it is by prowling around these soft and acritical notions (like ‘mana’ once was) that one can go further than intelligent critical sociology. Besides, it will be noticed retrospectively that the concepts ‘class’, ‘social relations’, ‘power’, ‘status’, ‘institution’, and ‘social’ itself—all these too-explicit concepts which are the glory of the legitimate sciences—but also only ever been muddled notions themselves, but notions upon which agreement has nevertheless been reached for mysterious ends: those of preserving a certain code of analysis. To want to specify the term ‘mass’ is a mistake—it is to provide meaning for that which has none.1 And it is this lack of meaning—this nothingness of not only the mass, but our inability to know in general—that truly scares us. For, if we are never able to legitimately make a generalizing statement, this suggests that we can never actually posit beyond a singular, situational, moment. Hence, we can never claim to know anyone: at best, we can only catch momentary glimpses. It is for this very reason that the insanity plea Breivik’s lawyer will attempt is the one that horrifies us the most. For, if Breivik is insane, this foregrounds our inability to understand, know. And as Aristotle has taught us, it is more important that something is plausible than if something were probable—in this context, we would rather have Breivik as a calculating mass murderer than someone who was completely out of his mind. This is especially ironic in the light of the fact that none of us would say that we have any similarity with Breivik. If that were so, the declaration that he was mad should be no more than a logical consequence. However, we also want Breivik to be accountable for his actions. And in order for that to be so, we need him to be of sound mind. But if that were true, we can then no longer distinguish ourselves from him. And it is precisely this that scares us. For, we are horrified not when there are abnormalities to our way of life. There are usually two different reactions to this—either oppose and destroy it; or subsume it under the dominant logic. We see this most clearly in reactions to immigration: there are either calls for immigrants to ‘pack up and leave’ or pseudo-liberal notions of ‘we are all alike’. Both of which are merely version of “all men are brothers”—the brutal translation of which is that you are my brother if you live the same way as me; otherwise not only are you not my brother, you are also potentially not part of mankind (you might as well be, to echo Giorgio Agamben, bare life ). This is played out in our age of what is commonly termed post-political bio-politics —an instance of horribly awkward theoretical jargon that Slavoj Žižek channeling Agamben unpacks rather elegantly: “ post-politics is a politics which claims to leave behind old ideological struggles and, instead, focus[es] on expert management and administration, while bio-politics designates the regulation of the security and welfare of human lives as its primary goal.”2 Žižek continues: Post-political bio-politics also has two aspects which cannot but appear to belong to two opposite ideological spaces: that of the reduction of humans to ‘bare life,’ to Homo sacer , that so-called sacred being who is the object of expert caretaking knowledge, but is excluded, like prisoners at Guantanamo or Holocaust victims, from all rights; and that of respect for the vulnerable Other brought to an extreme through an attitude of narcissistic subjectivity which experiences the self as vulnerable, constantly exposed to a multitude of potential harassments [….] What these two poles share is precisely the underlying refusal of any higher causes, the notion that the ultimate goal of our lives is life itself. That is why there is no contradiction between the respect for the vulnerable Other and […] the extreme expression of treating individuals as Homini sacer .3 This is why the ones that are harshest towards new immigrants are the recently naturalized citizens of any country. For, if there is no longer any “ideological struggle” and all life is reduced to mere automaton-living, there is the realization that we are all the same—not in a tree-hugging hippie sense—but that the immigrant is the same as us precisely because we are all immigrants. And since all nations, and by extension peoples in a nation (especially those who believe in the notion of nationality, and national identity), have to find some manner, no matter from where or what it is, to distinguish themselves from those around them, the other (in spite, and especially in the light, of its absence) is the most crucial aspect of the discourse of nationality. More precisely, in the interests of what Baudrillard calls “preserving a certain code of analysis” (nationality in this case), what has to be maintained is the absolute otherness of the other. Very rarely is Boris Johnson right: “it is not enough to say he is mad. Anders Breivik is patently mad.”4 However, much like Breivik in his manifesto, he should have stopped whilst he was ahead. By attempting to diagnose Breivik—“the fundamental reasons for their callous behavior lie deep in their own sense of rejection and alienation. It is the ideology that gives them the ostensible cause … that gives them an excuse to dramatize the resentment … and to kill.”—Johnson falls into the same trap that he accuses others of: “to try to advance any other explanation for their actions … is simply to play their self-important game.” More crucially, and this is the point that Johnson completely misses, attempting to rationalize Breivik’s actions—to rehabilitate reason—is a desperate attempt at maintaining his otherness. In fact, we’ll end up going one step further, insist on Breivik’s sanity, put him on the stand, and hope that he will display such a difference from all of us that we can rest safe that we are unlike him and his kind. That, in itself, is a dangerous game to play. One should not forget that the turning point in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is in the central part of her novel where she lets the monster speak. At that moment, the monster moves from an ‘it’ to a fully subjectivized person; with his own stories, historicities, emotions, and so on. In Slavoj Žižek’s reading of Frankenstein , this is the moment where “the ultimate criminal is thus allowed to present himself as the ultimate victim. The monstrous murderer reveals himself to be a deeply hurt and desperate individual, yearning for company and love.”5 But, in the case of Breivik, this goes beyond just a risk of us feeling for him: for, no right-minded person should ever deny another the opportunity to put forth her or his own case. The problem lies with us trying to deny the madness of Breivik’s act by putting him back under reason. The problem is in our inability to differentiate the act from the person; the singular from the universal.6 In our desperation to preserve the notion that we are rational beings incapable of becoming monsters, we’ve had to deny the meaninglessness—in the strict sense of it lying outside of reason—of Breivik’ act; we’ve had to “provide meaning where there is none.” For, if this act were a moment of madness—a moment that comes from elsewhere—we cannot say that it will not descend upon us one day. If Breivik’s actions were that of a sane person, one who is in control of his being, his self, we can then locate the otherness in his being. More importantly, this would allow us to distinguish ourselves from that said being. Breivik’s sanity is the only thing that allows us to say that ‘this act of terror is borne out of one with an ultra-right ideology’; and ‘since I am not of that ideology, I would never do such a thing’. By doing that, we attempt to protect ourselves by claiming that people who share Breivik’s ideology are foreign to us, other to us. However, if Breivik’s act was a moment of insanity, his otherness is no longer locatable: and the notion of ‘us and them’ shifts from a geographical, physical, religious, or cultural notion, to one in the realm of ideas. And this is what truly scares us. For, if what is foreign is not phenomenological, then it cannot be seen, detected, sensed. Anders Behring Breivik, Timothy McVeigh, and Terry Nichols, terrify us not merely for the fact that they were white in a white society, but more pertinently that their skin color did not matter: we would not be able to spot them even if they were blue, even if they were right next to us, even if we had known them all our lives. Even as we are grappling with holding Breivik accountable by declaring him of sound mind, what truly terrifies us is that deep down we know that Breivik’s act is a moment of madness; beyond all comprehensibility. And this means that we would not be able to spot the idea; even if it were in our heads at this very moment. We have gone to lengths to rehabilitate Breivik, McVeigh, Nichols, and such perpetrators of massive incomprehensible violence, in order to preserve our difference from them. What we have really been trying to deny is the fact that everyone, at any given moment, could have a moment of madness. And this is the true radicality of Mary Shelley: in allowing us to momentarily enter the head of the monster, she shows us not just the fact that he is like any one of us, but that any one of us could, in the right (or wrong) circumstance, be like him. Perhaps here, there is a lesson to be learned from Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street . The most dangerous thing that one could do on Elm Street was to mention Freddy’s name—once you had knowledge of him, you were open to the possibility of a visit during your dreams. This suggests that Freddy is a combination of externalities (after all, when you die, he survives) and your self (if you have never heard of him, he cannot come for you). In this sense, Freddy would be the manifestation par excellence of what Avital Ronell calls a “killer text”—it is one’s relationality with the text (and the ideas, notions, in the said text) that opens oneself to it, to the lessons of the text, to being changed, affected, even to the dangers of the text. After all, one should never forget Plato’s warning that ideas can corrupt, can be perilous. To compound matters, as Ronell reminds us, “the connection to the other is a reading—not an interpretation, assimilation, or even a hermeneutic understanding, but a reading.”7 Thus, in attempting to differentiate ourselves from Breivik by concocting some reason(s) why we are not like him, we have done nothing but read him, open a connection to him. *** Bang bang, he shot me down Bang bang, I hit the ground Bang bang, that awful sound Bang bang, my baby shot me down. “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)” Sonny Bono, 1966. This is the part that we all know and remember. Whilst never quite remembering that this is a song that is not so much about violence, love, but about remembering. For, after the bridge comes the accusatory stanza: “Now he's gone, I don't know why/ And till this day, sometimes I cry/ He didn't even say goodbye/ He didn't take the time to lie.” Bang Bang is a game that the two lovers used to play; and all she has now is the memory of the game to remember him by. And the only reason she has to recall this game is: he never provided her a reason for his leaving, his death. Not that she will, can, ever get that satisfactory answer. This is precisely the game we are playing with Anders Behring Breivik. Even though he has left a 1500 page manifesto, even though we will allow him to use the court-room as his platform, we will continue screaming at him “tell me why …” For, what we want him to say is that we are not like him: what we really want him to do is, “take the time to lie …” Perhaps here, we should allow the echo of the infans to resound in baby . As Christopher Fynsk reminds us, the infans is one that is pre-language, pre-knowing, pre-understanding: it is the very finitude, and exteriority, of relationality itself.8 And thus, it is a position of openness to the fullness of possibility—and nothing else. This would be, in Ronell’s terms, a “connection to the other” that knows nothing other than the fact that it is a connection. The true horror of 22 July, 2011, is the fact that it is not Anders Behring Breivik who is mad, but the act itself that is. And this is precisely why only “my baby” that could have “shot me down.” For, it is an act that is from beyond, a sheer act of madness that—as Plato warns us—is whispered into our ears (and can so easily be mistaken for inspiration, and even wisdom), an act that can both seize, and cease, us at the same time. And what can this utter openness to an other, the other, be but a moment of love, a true ‘falling in love’. At the moment of whispering, nothing can be known as we are babies as our baby shoots us down …. Hence, all attempts at analyzing this event (including this one) are not only futile, but border on the farcical. The real tragedy is that we forget that all of us have the possibility of becoming Breivik. NOTES Jean Baudrillard. In the Shadow of the Silent Majorities . Trans. Paul Foss, John Johnston, Paul Patton, & Andrew Berardini. Los Angeles: Semiotext(e), 2007. p. 37. Slavoj Žižek. Violence: Six Sideway Reflections . London: Profile Books, 2009. p. 34 Ibid: 35-36. Boris Johnson. “ Anders Breivik: There is nothing to study in the mind of Norway’s mass killer .” The Telegraph . (25 July, 2011): Slavoj Žižek. Violence: Six Sideway Reflections . London: Profile Books, 2009. p.39. What is killing us is the notion that Breivik’s act is beyond reason, beyond knowing, outside understanding itself. This is why Boris Johnson’s plea was for us to ignore Breivik as a madman. But to do so, Johnson conflates the notion of the act and the person; the singular and the universal. This is exactly the same gesture as insisting on his sanity: the ‘madman’ is merely the absolute other, one that we are not. Avital Ronell. The Telephone Book: Technology, Schizophrenia, Electric Speech . Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1989: 380. Christopher Fynsk. Infant Figures: The Death of the Infans and Other Scenes of Origin . Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2000.  . (shrink)
Je lui ai associÉ un court extrait d'une revue de questions portant sur le même thème. Implicit memory is revealed when previous experiences facilitate perf on a task that does not require conscious or intentional recollection of those expces. Explicit memory is revealed when perf on a task requires conscious recolelction of previous expces. Il s'agit de defs descriptives qui n'impliquent pas l'existence de deux systs de mÉmo sÉparÉs. Historiquement Descartes est le premier ˆ faire mention de phÉnomènes de mÉmo (...) implicites, Leibniz, Maine de Biran, Bergson en ont Également parlÉ. Korsakoff (1889) avec ses travaux sur les amnÉsiques montre qu'ils sont capables d'utiliser de l'info qu'ils ont acquises dans des Épisodes rÉcents sans pour autant manifester le moindre souvenir de l'Épisode. L'interprÉtation de ces phÉnomènes Était alors que ça renvoyait ˆ des traces en mÉmoire trop tÉnues pour accèder jusqu'au champ de la conscience. Cette interprÉtation va pouvoir être ÉcartÉe par les travaux rÉcents. Thorndike a Également conduit un nbre important de travaux sur MI. Les trauvaux un peu plus rÉcents ont montrÉ qu'un apprentissage antÉrieur pouvait faciliter une perfce sans qu'il y ait ref explicite à l'Épisode d'apprentissage. On a montrÉ aussi l'effet de stimuli subliminaux, qui en tant que tels ne peuvent pas être rappelÉs consciemment, mais qui influencent la conduite ou les jugts ultÉrieurs. Par ex, la prÉsentation de formes sur des temps très courts qui excluent la possibilitÉ d'une perception consciente influence significativement lechoix de formes dans une pÉreuve ultÉrieure de choix forcÉs où les sjts doivent indiquer la forme qu'il prÉfère entre deux. Ils choisissent prÉfÉrentiellement celles qui leur ont ÉtÉ prÉsentÉes de manière subliminale. De même Bargh et al. ont montrÉ que des sjts soumis de manière subliminale ˆ des mots hostiles portent ultÉrieurement des jugts plus nÉgatifs sur une personne target. Il ya Également eu des travaux sur l'apprsge ou le condt without awareness en particulier apprsge implicite de règles de grammaire (ie le sjt peut construire de nouvelles phrases conformes ˆ la syntaxe de celles qui lui ont ÉtÉ prÉsentÉes sans pour autant petre capables d'noncer les règles de grammaire qu'il utilise) Rem: N'est ce pas un pbe de typemÉtacognition??? Enfin, tous les travaux sur le priming sont des elts en faveur de MI: Facilitation in the processing of a stimulus as a function of a recent encounter with the same stimulus. Type de perfce sur lesquels les effets de priming ont ÉtÉ dÉmontrÉs: -T‰ches de dÉcision lexicale: Le sjt doit dire si la cha"ne de caractères qu'on lui prÉsente est un mot ou pas: Le temps de latence est beaucoup plus court si la cha"ne a dÉjˆ ÉtÉ prÉsentÉe une première fois. -Mesures de temps d'identification de mots en rpÉsentation tachitoscopiques -ComplÉmentation de mots: les sjts ont tendance ˆ complÉter pour crÉer les mots qui leur ont ÉtÉ prÉsentÉs antÉrieurement. L'intÉrêt pour le paradigme de priming se retouve chez les gens qui s'intÉressent ˆ: -reconnaissance de mots et organisation lexicale. les effets de priming permettent de faire des hyps sur l'accès lexical et la reprÉsentation. -M. Épisodique: travux sur les amnÉsiques qui ne se souviennent pas qu'on vient de leur prÉsenter des mots mais qui manifestent une mÉmoire implicite lorsqu'on leur fait faire de la complÉmentation de mots. DISSOCIATION ENTRE M.I. ET M EXPLICITE 1-Si de nombreux travaux montrent que la M explicite est influencÉe par le travail d'Élaboration (profondeur de traitement) en jeu pendant la première phase d'Étude des stimuli, il semble que la MI ne le soit pas. 2-Le changt de modalitÉ (par ex auditif -> visuel) entre la phase d'Étude et la phase de test provoque une attÉnuation importante de l'effet de priming si le test est un test de MI mais pas si c'est un test de ME. 3-Les effets de primings persistent assez largement sur plusieurs jours ce qui n'est pas le cas des perfces ˆ une Épreuve de reconnaissance. 4-Les perfces sur des tests de MI ne semblent pas influencÉes par des manipulations d'interfÉrences proactives ou rÉtroactives dont on sait qu'elles influencent les perfces en ME. 5-Absce de corrÉlation entre perfces ˆ des tests de reconnaissance et perfces ˆ une Épreuve de complÉmentation de mots. SIMILARITES ENTRE PRIMING ET REMEMBERING 1- A certaines conditions les durÉes de rÉtention on des effets parallèles sur les effets de priming et les mesures de ME (REm: en partie contradictoire avec 3 ci dessus) 2-La manipulation du contexte de la liste lors de la phase d'Étude affecte ˆ la fois les perfces en reconnaissance et en identification de mots. 3- ME et MI sont influencÉes par des associations nouvellement acquises entre des paires de mots non reliÉes (Rem: contradictoires avec 4 ci dessus ??) 4- Rem: Le contraire de 1 du pt "dissociation" !!!! dans une manip particulière 5-Johnston et al. ont montrÉ que des mots identifÉs plus rapidement Étaient plus svt jugÉs comme 'old' dans une t‰che de reconnaissance que les mots identifiÉs plus lentement. Il n'est pas exclu que les phÉnomènes que l'on interprètent comme relevant de MI soient parfois de la ME involontaire cad des cas o les cues fournis dans le test conduisent ˆ un souvenir involontaire mais totalement conscient. LES INTERPRETATIONS THEORIQUES DE MI 1-Les effets de priming sur des test de MI sont attribuables ˆ l'activation temporaires de reprÉsentations ou structures de K prÉ-existantes . Cette activation est supposÉe avoir lieu de manière automatique, indÉpendamment des processus d'Élaboration nÉcessaires pour Établir de nouvelles traces Épisodiques. 2- les difÉrences entre ME et MI sont dues ˆ la nature et aux relations entre les processus d'encodage et de rÉcupÉration. Une version de cette approche est celle qui s'appuie sur la distinction entre processus dirigÉs par les donnÉes et processus dirigÉs par les concepts. Ces derniers reflètent des activitÉs initiÉes par le sjt comme l'Élaboration, l'organisation et la reconstruction, c'est sur ce type de processus que reposerait la ME alors que la MI reposerait sur des processus data-driven. 3-ME et MI renvoient ˆ des systs sous jacents diffÉrents. Pour Cohen & Squire (1984), la ME est supportÉe par une M DECLARATIVE , syst qui est en jeu dans la formation de nouvelles reprÉsentations. La MI repose sur un syst PROCEDURAL dans lequel la M se manifeste par des modifications on line de procÉdures ou opÉrations de traitement. Le syst de M Épisodique est vu comme la base pour le souvenir explicite d'evts rÉcents tandis que la M sÉmantique est responsable des perfces sur des tests de MI. Chacune de ces approches est conforme ˆ certaines des donnÉes recueillies mais pas ˆ d'autres. (shrink)
"An American psychologist, Daniel N. Robinson, traces the development of the insanity plea...[He offers] an assured historical survey." Roy Porter, The Times [UK] "Wild Beasts and Idle Humours is truly unique. It synthesizes material that I do not believe has ever been considered in this context, and links up the historical past with contemporaneous values and politics. Robinson effortlessly weaves religious history, literary history, medical history, and political history, and demonstrates how the insanity defense cannot be fully understood without consideration (...) of all these sources." Michael L. Perlin, New York Law School "Daniel N. Robinson has written a graceful history of insanity and the law stretching from Homer to Hinckley. He attempts no final theory as to how the law should cope with the insane; he seeks, rather, to use the shifting notions of when madness exculpates criminal activity to illuminate the core self-perceptions of the cultures developing ever-evolving resolutions of the problem...[T]he grandeur of the theme...commands attention and respect." --Neal Johnston, The Nation . (shrink)
continent. 2.2 (2012): 76–81 Comments on Eugene Thacker’s “Cosmic Pessimism” Nicola Masciandaro Anything you look forward to will destroy you, as it already has. —Vernon Howard In pessimism, the first axiom is a long, low, funereal sigh. The cosmicity of the sigh resides in its profound negative singularity. Moving via endless auto-releasement, it achieves the remote. “ Oltre la spera che piú larga gira / passa ’l sospiro ch’esce del mio core ” [Beyond the sphere that circles widest / penetrates (...) the sigh that issues from my heart]. 1 The axiomatic sigh of the pessimist is in a way the pure word of philosophy, a thought that thinks without you, speaks where you are not. The live pneumatic form of the soul’s eventual exit from the dead body’s mouth, the sigh restores consciousness to the funeral of being, to the passing away that is existence. Pessimism speaks in piercing aphorisms because first it sighs. “Beyond the sphere passeth the arrow of our sigh. Hafiz! Silence.” 2 … pessimism is guilty of that most inexcusable of Occidental crimes—the crime of not pretending it’s for real. To the pessimist, the ‘real’ world—the world on whose behalf we are expected to wake up in the morning—is a ceaseless index of its own unreality. The pessimist’s day is not an illumined space for the advancement of experience and action, but a permanently and inescapably reflective zone, the vast interior of a mirror where each thing is only insofar as it is, at best, a false image of itself. Within this speculative situation, inside the doubleness of the mirror, pessimism splits into two paths, false and true, one that tries to fix pessimism (establish a relation with the mirror) and decides in favor of the apparent real, and another that totally falls for pessimism (enters the mirror) and communes with the greater reality of the unreal. These two paths are distinguished by their relation to pessimism’s guilt vis-à-vis the world’s reality-project. The first form, that which remains pessimism for the world and puts on a smiling face, stays guilty to itself (i.e. unconscious) and thus turns hypocritical, becoming at once the pessimism of the commoner who really just wants things to be better for himself and the pessimism of the elite who wants to critically refashion reality in his own image. The general form of this worldly, hypocritical pessimism is the impulse to ‘make the world a better place’, which is the global mask under which the world is diurnally made worse. The second form, that which follows pessimism away from the world and ceases to put on a smiling face, refuses guiltiness as itself theessential Occidental mode of pretense and turns honest, becoming at once the intelligent pessimism required of all ordinary action and the radical pessimism necessary for self-knowledge: seeing that no one is capable of doing good. The general form of this universal, honest pessimism is the impulse not to worry, to give up and embrace dereliction, which is the only real way the world is actually improved. Where worldly pessimism is the engine productive of interminably warring secular and sacred religions (good-projects), universal pessimism strives hopelessly for the paradise of a supremely instantiated pessimus: things are getting so bad that there is no longer any time for them to get worse; things are so constantly-instantly worst that this is BEST. Cosmic pessimism is the mode of universal pessimism which can yet discourse with the world, which has not chosen silence and can spread the inconceivably BAD NEWS in an orderly form ( kosmos ) that the world can understand (if it wanted to). … the result of a confusion between the world and a statement about the world. That is what the world is (the result of a confusion between the world and a statement about the world). … a generalized misanthropy without the anthropos. Pessimism crystallizes around this futility—it is its amor fati , rendered as musical form. Pessimism’s love of fate is a blind love, a love of the blindness of being human in a cosmos conceived around the human’s eclipse, a heavy levitation in the contradictory space between the inescapability of its having been and the impossibility of its will-be. Pessimism’s song of futility is a sensible way of loving fate, with a minimum of eros, by means of a kind of matrimonial love of the fatal. As music, pessimism stays open to the irreparable and the inexorable without the binding of affirmation, in the apparent absence of the radical, infinitely surplus will that absolute amor fati seems to require. Crying, laughing, sleeping—what other responses are adequate to a life that is so indifferent? “Unless a man aspires to the impossible, the possible that he achieves will scarcely be worth the trouble of his achieving it. We should aspire to the impossible, to absolute and infinite perfection [….] The apocatastasis is more than a mystical dream: it is a norm of action, it is a beacon for high deeds [….] For true charity is a species of invasion [….] It is not charity to rock and lull our fellow men to sleep in the inertia and heaviness of matter, but rather to arouse them to anguish and torment of spirit.” 3 … the impossibility of ever adequately accounting for one’s relationship to thought. “The paroxysm of interior experience leads you to regions where danger is absolute, because life which self-consciously actualizes its roots in experience can only negate itself [….] There are no arguments [….] On the heights of despair, the passion for the absurd is the only thing that can still throw a demonic light on chaos [….] I live because the mountains do not laugh and the worms do not sing .” 4 It took three attempts before she was fully decapitated, all the while she continued, perhaps miraculously, to sing. According to the earliest account of Cecilia’s martyrdom, the beheading turns out worse. After not severing her head in three strokes, “the cruel executioner left her half dead” (seminecem eam cruentus carnifex dereliquit). 5 Cecilia’s effortlessly powerful endurance of the three strokes—a fitting icon for pessimism as an art of dereliction—demonstrates the “passivity and absence of effort [….] in which divine transcendence is dissolved.” 6 There’s a ghost that grows inside of me, damaged in the making, and there’s a hunt sprung from necessity, elliptical and drowned. Where the moving quiet of our insomnia offers up each thought, there’s a luminous field of grey inertia, and obsidian dreams burnt all the way down. Like words from a pre-waking dream. There is no reason to think that they are not. NOTES 1. Dante Alighieri. Vita Nuova . ed. and trans. Dino S. Cervigni and Edward Vasta. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press. 1995. 41:10. 2. Hafiz of Shiraz. The Divan . trans. H. Wilberforce Clarke. London: Octagon Press. 1974. 10.9. 3. Miguel de Unamuno. The Tragic Sense of Life in Men and Nations . trans. Anthony Kerrigan. Princeton: Princeton University Press. 1972. 305-6. 4. E.M. Cioran. On the Heights of Despair . trans. Ilinca Zarifopol-Johnston. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 1992. 9-10. 5. Giacomo Laderchi. S. Caeciliae Virg[inis] et Mart[yris] Acta. . . Rome. 1723. 38. 6. Georges Bataille. On Nietzsche . trans. Bruce Boone. London: Continuum. 2004. 135. See Nicola Masciandaro. “ Half Dead: Parsing Cecilia .” A Commentary on Eugene Thacker’s "Cosmic Pessimism" Gary J. Shipley Pessimism is the refusal to seek distraction, the refusal to remodel failure into a platform for further (doomed) possibilities, the refusal of comfort, the acceptance of the sickness of healthy bodies, the cup of life overflowing with cold vomit. If, as Ligotti suggests when discussing Invasion of the Body Snatchers , 1 humans prefer the anxieties of their familiar human lives to the contentment of an alien one, then the pessimist, we could argue, represents some perverted combination of the two, preferring (presuming he has a choice) the defamiliarization of human life to the contentment of its unquestioned mundanity. The quasi-religious state of mind that Wittgenstein would mention on occasion, that of “feeling absolutely safe,” 2 is a state the pessimist could only imagine being approximated by death, or perhaps some annihilative opiate-induced stupor. This Wittgensteinian commingling of certainty and faith looks every bit the futile gesture, a mere rephrasing of collapse or partial collapse. The only certainty open to the pessimist is that of the toxic formula of life itself—a formula known and lacuna-free. Certainty, far from being the gateway to deliverance, becomes the definitive impediment; and the possibility of salvation, as long as it remains, becomes crucially reliant on postulations of ignorance, epistemic gaps, a perennial incompleteness: “the perfect safety of wooed death […] the warm bath of physical dissolution, the universal unknown engulfing the miniscule unknown.” 3 The height of Leibniz’s Panglossian insanity nurtured the idea that our knowing everything—via the universal calculus—could be accurately described a triumph, as opposed to a nightmare in which our every futility is laid bare. Stagnancy and boredom are perhaps two of the greatest ills of Western civilisation, and the most potent pessimism tells you that you’re stuck with both. The most we can hope for, by way of salvation, is to throw open our despair to the unknown. The fact that Schopenhauer’s pessimism stopped short of morality and allowed him to play the flute, as Nietzsche complained, highlights the predicament of a man who despite having adorned nothingness with a smiling face still found himself alive. The demand here is that it be felt: a cross-contamination of intellect and emotion. The safety net of numerous parentheses makes for a failed philosophy, rather than a philosophy of failure. Depressives make bad pessimists, because, unless they choose to die, living will always infect them with necessities of hope, forcing them to find something, anything (all the various “as ifs”) to make existence tolerable. For as Cioran observed, while “[d]epressions pay attention to life, they are the eyes of the devil, poisoned arrows which wound mortally any zest and love of life. Without them we know little, but with them, we cannot live.” 4 And even when cured of our depressions we’ll find ourselves consumed, eaten alive by the hyper-clinical (borderline autistic) mania that replaces them: a predicament captured all too clearly in the microscriptual fictions of Robert Walser, where spectral men and women stifle their depressive madness with protective comas of detail, their failed assimilations buried beneath thick crusts of remote data. Like Beckett’s Malone their stories may have ended, but cruelly their lives have not. Pessimism is an extraneous burden (a purposeless weight) that makes everything else harder to carry, while at the same time scooping it out and making it lighter. If pessimism had a sound it would be the harsh non-noise of tinnitus—the way that every person would hear themselves if they refused their distractions long enough to listen: a lungless scream from the extrasolar nothing of the self. The music of pessimism—if indeed we can imagine such a thing—is the reverberating echo of the world’s last sound, conjectured but never heard, audible only in its being listened for. The one consolation of this hollow paradox of audibility being, that “he will be least afraid of becoming nothing in death who has recognized that he is already nothing now.” 5 The pessimist suffers a derangement of the real, a labyrinthitis at the nucleus of his being: he’s the stumbling ghost relentlessly surprised that others can see him. If Cioran’s refusal is manifested in sleep (when even saying ‘no’ is too much of a commitment), then Pessoa’s resides in the dreams inside that sleep. Pessoa chooses to exploit the fact that he’s being “lived by some murmuring non-entity both shadowy and muddied” 6 by growing more voids to live him. His is a Gnostic breed of sleep, “sleeping as if the universe were a mistake,” 7 a sleep that dreams through Thacker’s cosmic pessimism (“a pessimism of the world-without-us.”, “the unhuman orientation of deep space and deep time” 8 ), through the critical error of there being anything at all when there could be nothing. The metaphysical pessimist is someone who, however well life treats them, still desires to wake from it, as from the poisonous air of a bad dream. Pessimism is a paradox of age, being simultaneously young and old; its youth residing in a refusal to accept the authority of existence (its rich history, its inherent beneficence), a refusal to “get over” the horror of what it sees with its perpetually fresh eyes, and its maturity in the unceremonious disposal of the philosophical playthings (those futile architectures) of adolescence. As Thacker remarks: “Pessimism abjures all pretenses towards system—towards the purity of analysis and the dignity of critique.” 9 A sentiment shared with Pessoa, who duly categorizes those that choose to enact this futile struggle: “The creators of metaphysical systems and of psychological explanations are still in the primary stage of suffering.” 10 If the pessimist has shared a womb with anyone, it’s with the mystic and not the philosopher. As Schopenhauer tells us: “The mystic is opposed to the philosopher by the fact that he begins from within, whereas the philosopher begins from without. […] But nothing of this is communicable except the assertions that we have to accept on his word; consequently he is unable to convince.” 11 The crucial difference between the mystic and the pessimist is not the latter’s impassivity and defeatism, but his unwillingness/inability to contain in any way the spread of his voracious analyticity, his denial of incompleteness, his exhaustive devotion to failure. The truth of our predicament, though heard, is destined to remain unprocessed. Like the revelations of B.S. Johnson’s Haakon (“We rot and there’s nothing that can stop it / Can’t you feel the shaking horror of that?” 12 ) the pessimist’s truths are somehow too obvious to listen to, as if something inside us were saying, “Of course, but haven’t we gotten over that?” Pessimism is simple and ugly, and has no desire to make itself more complex or more attractive. The true moral pessimist knows that the Utilitarian’s accounts will always be in the red. He can see that for all his computational containments, his only honest path is a negative one, and that such a path has but one logical destination: that of wholesale human oblivion. Thacker notes how at the core of pessimism lies the notion of “the worst,” through which death is demoted by the all-pervasive suffering of a life that easily eclipses its threat. And so with doom made preferable to gloom, death begins to glint with promise, “like beauty passing through a nightmare.” 13 But even among pessimists suicide is, for the most part, thought to be an error. Schopenhauer, for instance, regarded suicide a mistake grounded in some fundamentally naïve disappointment or other. Pessoa too thought suicide an onerous escape tactic: “To die is to become completely other. That’s why suicide is a cowardice: it’s to surrender ourselves completely to life.” 14 There is a call here to be accepting of and creative with the puppetry of your being, an insistence that it’s somehow a blunder to attempt to hide in death from the horrors you find inlife. 15 Tied up with this perseverance is the slippery notion of the good death, for maybe, as Blanchot warns, suicide is rarely something we can hope to get right, for the simple reason that “you cannot make of death an object of the will.” 16 “Even in cases where the entire corpus of an author is pessimistic, the project always seems incomplete,” 17 and this is not simply because the project itself belies something yet to be disclosed, but because the project itself is a thing waiting. It waits on a cure it knows will not come, but for which it cannot do anything (as long as it continues to do anything) but wait. NOTES 1. See Thomas Ligotti. The Conspiracy Against the Human Race . New York: Hippocampus Press. 2010. 91. 2. Ludwig Wittgenstein. “A Lecture on Ethics.” Philosophical Review . (74) 1. 1965. 8. 3. Vladimir Nabokov. Pale Fire . New York: Vintage. 1989. 221. 4. E. M. Cioran. The Book of Delusions . trans. Camelia Elias. Hyperion. 5.1. (2010): 75. 5. Arthur Schopenhauer. The World as Will and Representation. vol. 2 . trans. E .F J. Payne. New York: Dover. 1966. 609. 6. Eugene Thacker. “Cosmic Pessimism.” continent. . 2.2 (2012): 67. 7. Fernando Pessoa. The Book of Disquiet . trans. Richard Zenith. London: Penguin. 2002. 35. 8. Eugene Thacker. “Cosmic Pessimism.” continent. . 2.2 (2012): 68. 9. Ibid. 73. 10. Fernando Pessoa. The Book of Disquiet . trans. Richard Zenith. London: Penguin. 2002. 341. 11. Arthur Schopenhauer. The World as Will and Representation. vol. 2 . trans. E .F J. Payne. New York: Dover. 1966. 610-11. 12. B.S Johnson. “You’re Human Like the Rest of Them.” in Jonathan Coe. Like a Fiery Elephant: The Story of B.S. Johnson . London: Picador. 2004. 177. 13. Fernando Pessoa. The Book of Disquiet . trans. Richard Zenith. London: Penguin. 2002. 415. 14. Ibid. 199. 15. “Suicide is, after all, the opposite of the poem.” Anne Sexton. No Evil Star: Selected Essays, Interviews and Prose . ed. Steven Gould Axelrod. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. 1985. 92. 16. Maurice Blanchot. The Space of Literature . trans. Ann Smock. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. 1989. 105. 17. Eugene Thacker. “Cosmic Pessimism.” continent. . 2.2 (2012): 75. (shrink)
continent. 1.1 (2011): 3-13. / 0/ – Introduction I want to propose, as a trajectory into the philosophically weird, an absurd theoretical claim and pursue it, or perhaps more accurately, construct it as I point to it, collecting the ground work behind me like the Perpetual Train from China Mieville's Iron Council which puts down track as it moves reclaiming it along the way. The strange trajectory is the following: Kant's critical philosophy and much of continental philosophy which has followed, (...) has been a defense against horror and madness. Kant's prohibition on speculative metaphysics such as dogmatic metaphysics and transcendental realism, on thinking beyond the imposition of transcendental and moral constraints, has been challenged by numerous figures proceeding him. One of the more interesting critiques of Kant comes from the mad black Deleuzianism of Nick Land stating, “Kant’s critical philosophy is the most elaborate fit of panic in the history of the Earth.” And while Alain Badiou would certainly be opposed to the libidinal investments of Land's Deleuzo-Guattarian thought, he is likewise critical of Kant's normative thought-bureaucracies: Kant is the one author for whom I cannot feel any kinship. Everything in him exasperates me, above all his legalism—always asking Quid Juris ? Or ‘Haven’t you crossed the limit?’—combined, as in today’s United States, with a religiosity that is all the more dismal in that it is both omnipresent and vague. The critical machinery he set up has enduringly poisoned philosophy, while giving great succour to the academy, which loves nothing more than to rap the knuckles of the overambitious [….] That is how I understand the truth of Monique David-Menard’s reflections on the properly psychotic origins of Kantianism ( La Folie dans la raison pure ). I am persuaded that the whole of the critical enterprise is set up to to shield against the tempting symptom represented by the seer Swedenborg, or against ‘diseases of the head’, as Kant puts it (535-536). An entire nexus of the limits of reason and philosophy are set up here, namely that the critical philosophy not only defends thought from madness, philosophy from madness, and philosophy from itself, but that philosophy following the advent of the critical enterprise philosophy becomes auto-vampiric; feeding on itself to support the academy. Following Francois Laruelle's non-philosophical indictment of philosophy, we could go one step further and say that philosophy operates on the material of what is philosophizable and not the material of the external world.  Beyond this, the Kantian scheme of nestling human thinking between our limited empirical powers and transcendental guarantees of categorical coherence, forms of thinking which stretch beyond either appear illegitimate, thereby liquefying both pre-critical metaphysics and the ravings of the mad in the same critical acid. In rejecting the Kantian apparatus we are left with two entities – an unsure relation of thought to reality where thought is susceptible to internal and external breakdown and a reality with an uncertain sense of stability. These two strands will be pursued, against the sane-seal of post-Kantian philosophy by engaging the work of weird fiction authors H.P. Lovecraft and Thomas Ligotti. The absolute inhumanism of the formers universe will be used to describe a Shoggothic Materialism while the dream worlds of the latter will articulate the mad speculation of a Ventriloquil Idealism. But first we must address the relation of philosophy to madness as well as philosophy to weird fiction. /1/ – Philosophy and Madness There is nothing that the madness of men invents which is not either nature made manifest or nature restored. Michel Foucault. Madness and Civilization (283). The moment I doubt whether an event that I recall actually took place, I bring the suspicion of madness upon myself: unless I am uncertain as to whether it was not a mere dream. Arthur Schopenhauer. The World as Will and Idea, Vol. 3 (168). Madness is commonly thought of as moving through several well known cultural-historical shifts from madness as a demonic or otherwise theological force, to rationalization, to medicalization psychiatric and otherwise. Foucault's Madness and Civilization is well known for orientating madness as a form of exclusionary social control which operated by demarcating madness from reason. Yet Foucault points to the possibility of madness as the necessity of nature at least prior to the crushing weight of the church (23). Kant’s philosophy as a response to madness is grounded by his humanizing of madness itself. As Adrian Johnston points out in the early pages of Time Driven pre-Kantian madness meant humans were seized by demonic or angelic forces whereas Kantian madness became one of being too human. Madness becomes internalized, the external demonic forces become flaws of the individual mind. Foucault argues that, while madness is de-demonized it is also dehumanized during the Renaissance, as madmen become creatures neither diabolic nor totally human (70) reduced to the zero degree of humanity (74). It is immediately clear why for Kant, speculative metaphysics must be curbed – with the problem of internal madness and without the external safeguards of transcendental conditions, there is nothing to formally separate the speculative capacities for metaphysical diagnosis from the mad ramblings of the insane mind – both equally fall outside the realm of practicality and quotidian experience. David-Menard's work is particularly useful in diagnosing the relation of thought and madness in Kant's texts. David-Menard argues that in Kant's relatively unknown “An Essay on the Maladies of the Mind” as well as his later discussion of the Seer of Swedenborg, that Kant formulates madness primarily in terms of sensory upheaval or other hallucinatory theaters (85). She writes: “madness is an organization of thought. It is made possible by the ambiguity (and hence the possible sub- version) of the normal relation between the imaginary and the perceived, whether this pertains to the order of sensation or to the relations between our ideas” (86) Kant's fascination with the Seer forces Kant between the pincers of “aesthetic reconciliation” – namely melancholic withdrawal – and “a philosophical invention” – namely the critical project. Deleuze and Guattari's schizoanalysis is a combination and reversal of Kant's split, where an aesthetic over engagement with the world entails prolific conceptual invention. Their embrace of madness, however, is of course itself conceptual despite all their rhizomatic maneuvers. Though they move with the energy of madness, Deleuze and Guattari save the capacity of thought from the fangs of insanity by imbuing materiality itself with the capacity for thought. Or, as Ray Brassier puts it, “Deleuze insists, it is necessary to absolutize the immanence of this world in such a way as to dissolve the transcendent disjunction between things as we know them and as they are in themselves” (3). That is, whereas Kant relied on the faculty of judgment to divide representation from objectivity (2) Deleuze attempts to flatten the whole economy beneath the juggernaut of ontological univocity. Speculation, as a particularly useful form of madness, might fall close to Deleuze and Guattari’s shaping of philosophy into a concept producing machine but is different in that it is potentially self destructive – less reliant on the stability of its own concepts and more adherent to exposing a particular horrifying swath of reality. Speculative madness is always a potential disaster in that it acknowledges little more than its own speculative power with the hope that the gibbering of at least a handful of hysterical brains will be useful. Pre-critical metaphysics amounts to madness, though this may be because the world itself is mad while new attempts at speculative metaphysics, at post-Kantian pre-critical metaphysics, are well aware of our own madness. Without the sobriety of the principle of sufficient reason (following Meillassoux) we have a world of neon madness: “we would have to conceive what our life would be if all the movements of the earth, all the noises of the earth, all the smells, the tastes, all the light – of the earth and elsewhere, came to us in a moment, in an instant – like an atrocious screaming tumult of things” (104). Speculative thought may be participatory in the screaming tumult of the world or, worse yet, may produce its spectral double. Against theology or reason or simply commonsense, the speculative becomes heretical. Speculation, as the cognitive extension of the horrorific sublime should be met with melancholic detachment. Whereas Kant's theoretical invention, or productivity of thought, is self-sabotaging, since the advent of the critical project is a productivity of thought which then delimits the engine of thought at large either in dogmatic gestures or non-systematizable empirical wondrousness. The former is celebrated by the fiction of Thomas Ligotti whereas the latter is espoused by the tales of H.P. Lovecraft. /2/ – Weird Fiction and Philosophy . Supernatural horror, in all its eerie constructions, enables a reader to taste treats inconsistent with his personal welfare. Thomas Ligotti Songs of a Dead Dreamer (212). I choose weird stories because they suit my inclination best—one of my strongest and most persistent wishes being to achieve,momentarily, the illusion of some strange suspension or violation of the galling limitations of time, space, and natural law which forever imprison us and frustrate our curiosity about the infinite cosmic spaces beyond the radius of our sight and analysis H.P. Lovecraft. “Notes on Writing Weird Fiction” Lovecraft states that his creation of a story is to suspend natural law yet, at the same time, he indexes the tenuousness of such laws, suggesting the vast possibilities of the cosmic. The tension that Lovecraft sets up between his own fictions and the universe or nature (as we know it) is reproduced within his fictions in the common theme of the unreliable narrator; unreliable precisely because they are either mad or what they have witnessed questions the bounds of material reality. In “The Call of Cthulhu” Lovecraft writes: The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age (355). Despite Lovecraft's invocations of illusion, he is not claiming that his fantastic creations such as the Old Ones are supernatural but, following Joshi, are only ever supernormal (89). One can immediately see that instead of nullifying realism Lovecraft in fact opens up the real to an unbearable degree. In various letters and non-fictional statements Lovecraft espoused strictly materialist tenets, ones which he borrowed from Hugh Elliot namely the uniformity of law, the denial of teleology and the denial of non-material existence (7). Lovecraft seeks to explore the possibilities of such a universe by piling horror upon horror until the fragile brain which attempts to grasp it fractures. This may be why philosophy has largely ignored weird fiction – while Deleuze and Guattari mark the turn towards weird fiction and Lovecraft in particular, with the precursors to speculative realism (Nick Land) as well as contemporary related thinkers (especially Reza Negarestani, and Eugene Thacker) have begun to view Lovecraft as making philosophical contributions. Lovecraft's own relation to philosophy is largely critical (making critical remarks about Bergson and Freud for example) while celebrating Nietzsche and Schopenhauer (especially the latter in the guise of the former). This relationship of Lovecraft to philosophy and philosophy to Lovecraft is coupled with Lovecraft's habit of mercilessly destroying the philosopher and the figure of the academic more generally in his work, a destruction which is both an epistemological destruction (or sanity breakdown) and an ontological destruction (or unleashing of the corrosive forces of the cosmos). Thomas Ligotti's weird fiction which he has designated as a kind of “confrontational escapism” might be best described in the following quote from one of his shortstories, “The human phenomenon is but the sum of densely coiled layers of illusion each of which winds itself on the supreme insanity. That there are persons of any kind when all there can be is mindless mirrors laughing and screaming as they parade about in an endless dream” (I Have a Special Plan for this World). Whereas Lovecraft's weirdness draws predominantly from the abyssal depths of the uncharted universe, Ligotti's existential horror focuses on the awful proliferation of meaningless surfaces that is, the banal and every day function of representation. In an interview, Ligotti states: We don't even know what the world is like except through our sense organs, which are provably inadequate. It's no less the case with our brains. Our whole lives are motored along by forces we cannot know and perceptions that are faulty. We sometimes hear people say that they're not feeling themselves. Well, who or what do they feel like then?(Venger Satanis, 2008) This is not to say that Ligotti sees nothing beneath the surface but that there is only darkness or blackness behind it, whether that surface is on the cosmological level or the personal. By addressing the implicit and explicit philosophical issues in Ligotti's work we will see that his nightmarish take on reality is a form of malevolent idealism, an idealism which is grounded in a real, albeit dark and obscure materiality. If Ligotti's horrors ultimately circle around mad perceptions which degrade the subject, it takes aim at the vast majority of the focus of continental philosophy. While Lovecraft's acidic materialism clearly assaults any romantic concept of being from the outside, Ligotti attacks consciousness from the inside: Just a little doubt slipped into the mind, a little trickle of suspicion in the bloodstream, and all those eyes of ours, one by one, open up to the world and see its horror [...] Not even the solar brilliance of a summer day will harbor you from horror. For horror eats the light and digests it into darkness ( Songs of a Dead Dreamer , 208). Clearly, the weird fiction of Lovecraft and Ligotti amount to a anti-anthrocentric onslaught against the ramparts of correlationist continental philosophy. /3/ – Shoggothic Materialism or the Formless Formless protoplasm able to mock and reflect all forms and organs and processes—viscous agglutinations of bubbling cells—rubbery fifteen-foot spheroids infinitely plastic and ductile—slaves of suggestion, builders of cities—more and more sullen, more and more intelligent, more and more amphibious, more and more imitative—Great God! What madness made even those blasphemous Old Ones willing to use and to carve such things? H.P. Lovecraft. “At the Mountains of Madness” (797) On the other hand, affirming that the universe resembles nothing and is only formless amounts to saying that the universe is something like a spider or spit. Georges Bataille. “Formless” (31). The Shoggoths feature most prominently in H.P. Lovecraft's shortstory “At the Mountains of Madness” where they are described in the following manner: It was a terrible, indescribable thing vaster than any subway train – a shapeless congeries of protoplasmic bubbles, faintly self-luminous, and with myriads of temporary eyes forming and un-forming as pustules of greenish light all over the tunnel-filling front that bore down upon us, crushing the frantic penguins and slithering over the glistening floor that it and its kind had swept so evilly free of all litter (802). The term is a litmus test for materialism itself as the Shoggoth is an amorphous creature. The Shoggoths were living digging machines bio engineered by the Elder Things, and their protoplasmic bodies being formed into various tools by their hypnotic powers. The Shoggoths eventually became self aware and rose up against their masters in an ultimately failed rebellion. After the Elder Ones retreated into the oceans leaving the Shoggoths to roam the frozen wastes of the Antarctic. The onto-genesis of the Shoggoths and their gross materiality, index the horrifyingly deep time of the earth a concept near and dear to Lovecraft's formulation of horror as well as the fear of intelligences far beyond, and far before, the ascent of humankind on earth and elsewhere. The sickly amorphous nature of the Shoggoths invade materialism at large, where while materiality is unmistakably real ie not discursive, psychological, or otherwise overly subjectivist, it questions the relation of materialism to life. As Eugene Thacker writes: The Shoggoths or Elder Things do not even share the same reality with the human beings who encounter them—and yet this encounter takes place, though in a strange no-place that is neither quite that of the phenomenal world of the human subject or the noumenal world of an external reality (23). Amorphous yet definitively material beings are a constant in Lovecraft's tales. In his tale “The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadatth” Lovecraft describes Azathoth (an Outer god like Nyarlathotep) as, “that shocking final peril which gibbers unmentionably outside the ordered universe,” that, “last amorphous blight of nethermost confusion which blashphemes and bubbles at the centre of all infinity,” who, “gnaws hungrily in inconceivable, unlighted chambers beyond time” (410). Azathoth's name may have multiple origins but the most striking is the alchemy term azoth which is both a cohesive agent and a acidic creation pointing back to the generative and the decayed. The indistinction of generation and degradation materially mirrors the blur between the natural and the unnatural as well as life and non-life. Lovecraft speaks of the tension between the natural and the unnatural is his short story “The Unnameable.” He writes, “if the psychic emanations of human creatures be grotesque distortions, what coherent representation could express or portray so gibbous and infamous a nebulousity as the spectre of a malign, chaotic perversion, itself a morbid blasphemy against Nature?” (260). Lovecraft explores exactly the tension outlined at the beginning of this chapter, between life and thought. At the end of his short tale Lovecraft compounds the problem as the unnameable is described as “a gelatin—a slime—yet it had shapes, a thousand shapes of horror beyond all memory” (261). Deleuze suggests that becoming-animal is operative throughout Lovecraft's work, where narrators feel themselves reeling at their becoming non-human (240) or of being the anomalous (244-245) or of becoming atomized (248). Following Eugene Thacker however, it may be far more accurate to say that Lovecraft's tales exhibit not a becoming-animal but a becoming-creature. Where the monstrous breaks the purportedly fixed laws of nature (or nature as we know it), the creature is far more ontologically ambiguous. The nameless thing is an altogether different horizon for thought (Thacker, 23). The creature is either less than animal or more than animal (Thancker, 97) – its becoming is too strange for animal categories and indexes the slow march of thought towards the bizarre. This strangeness is, as aways, some indefinite swirling in the category of immanence and becoming. Bataille begins “The Labyrinth” with the assertion that being, to continue to be, is becoming. More becoming means more being hence the assertion that Bataille's barking dog is more than the sponge (171). This would mean that the Shoggotth is altogether too much being, too much material in the materialism. Bataille suggests that there is an immanence between the eater and the eaten, across the species and never within them ( Theory of Religion , 17). That is, despite the chaotic storm of immanence there must remain some capacity to distinguish the gradients of becoming without reliance upon, or at least total dependence upon, the powers of intellection to parse the universe into recognizable bits, properly digestible factoids. That is, if we undo Deleuze's aforementioned valorization of sense which, for his variation of materialism, performed the work of the transcendental, but refuse to reinstate Kant's transcendental disjunction between thing and appearance, then it must be a quality of becoming-as-being itself which can account for the discernible nature of things by sense. In an interview with Peter Gratton, Jane Bennett formulates the problem thusly: What is this strange systematicity proper to a world of Becoming? What, for example, initiates this congealing that will undo itself? Is it possible to identify phases within this formativity, plateaus of differentiation? If so, do the phases/plateaus follow a temporal sequence? Or, does the process of formation inside Becoming require us to theorize a non-chronological kind of time? I think that your student’s question: “How can we account for something like iterable structures in an assemblage theory?” is exactly the right question (“Vibrant Matters”). Philosophy has erred too far on the side of the subject in the subject-object relation and has furthermore, lost the very weirdness of the non-human. Beyond this, the madness of thought need not override. /4/ - Ventriloquial Idealism or the Externality of Thought My aim is the opposite of Lovecraft's. He had an appreciation for natural scenery on earth and wanted to reach beyond the visible in the universe. I have no appreciation for natural scenery and want the objective universe to be a reflection of a character. Thomas Ligotti. “Devotees of Decay and Desolation.” Unless life is a dream, nothing makes sense. For as a reality, it is a rank failure [….] Horror is more real than we are. Thomas Ligotti. “Professor Nobody's Little Lectures on Supernatural Horror” (211). Thomas Ligotti's tales are rife with mannequins, puppets, and other brainless entities which of replace the valorized subject of philosophy – that of the free thinking human being. His tales such as “The Dream of the Manikin” aim to destroy the rootedness of consciousness. James Trafford has connected the anti-egoism of Ligotti to Thomas Metzinger – where the self is at best an illusion and we plead desperately for someone else to acknowledge that we are real. Trafford has stated it thus, “Life is played out as an inescapable puppet show, an endless dream in which the puppets are generally unaware that they are trapped within a mesmeric dance of whose mechanisms they know nothing and over which they have no control” (202). An absolute materialism, for Ligotti, implies an alienation of the idea which leads to a ventriloquil idealism. As Ligotti notes in an interview, “the fiasco and nightmare of existence, the particular fiasco and nightmare of human existence, the sense that people are puppets of powers they cannot comprehend, etc.” (Cardin, 2006) And then further elaborates that,“[a]ssuming that anything has to exist, my perfect world would be one in which everyone has experienced the annulment of his or her ego. That is, our consciousness of ourselves as unique individuals would entirely disappear” (Ayad, 2004). The externality of the idea leads to the unfortunate consequence of consciousness eating at itself through horror which, for Ligotti, is more real than reality and goes beyond horror-as-affect. Beyond this, taking together with the unreality of life and the ventriloquizing of subjectivity, Ligotti's thought becomes an idealism in which thought itself is alien and ultimately horrifying. The role of human thought and the relation of non-relation of horror to thought is not completely clear in Ligotti's The Conspiracy Against the Human Race . Ligotti argues in his The Conspiracy Against the Human Race ,that the advent of thought is a mistake of nature (23) and that horror is being in the sense that horror results from knowing too much (109). Yet, at the same time, Ligotti seems to suggest that thought separates us from nature (221) whereas, for Lovecraft, thought is far less privileged – mind is just another manifestation of the vital principal, it is just another materialization of energy (“The Materialist Today,” 75). In his brilliant “Prospects for Post-Copernican Dogmatism” Iain Grant rallies against the negative definition of dogmatism and the transcendental, and suggests that negatively defining both over-focuses on conditions of access and subjectivism at the expense of the real or nature (413-414). With Schelling, who is Grant's champion against the subjectivist bastions of both Fichte and Kant, Ligotti's idealism could be taken as a transcendental realism following from an ontological realism (415). Yet the transcendental status of Ligotti's thought (and arguably Schelling's in the period of his positive philosophy) move towards a treatment of the transcendental which may threaten to leave beyond its realist ground. Ligotti states: Belief in the supernatural is only superstition. That said, a sense of the supernatural, as Conrad evidenced in Heart of Darkness, must be admitted if one's inclination is to go to the limits of horror. It is the sense of what should not be- the sense of being ravaged by the impossible. Phenomenally speaking, the super-natural may be regarded as the metaphysical counterpart of insanity, a transcendental correlative of a mind that has been driven mad ( The Conspiracy Against the Human Race , 211). Again, Ligotti equates madness with thought, qualifying both as supernatural while remaining less emphatic about the metaphysical dimensions of horror. The question becomes one of how exactly the hallucinatory realm of the ideal relates to the black churning matter of Lovecraft's chaos of elementary particles. In his tale “I Have a Special Plan for This World” Ligotti formulates thus: A: There is no grand scheme of things. B: If there were a grand scheme of things, the fact – the fact – that we are not equipped to perceive it, either by natural or supernatural means, is a nightmarish obscenity. C: The very notion of a grand scheme of things is a nightmarish obscenity (14). Here Ligotti is not discounting metaphysics but implying that if it does exist the fact that we are phenomenologically ill-equipped to perceive that it is nightmarish. For Ligotti, nightmare and horror occur within the circuit of consciousness whereas for Lovecraft the relation between reality and mind is less productive on the side of mind. It is (hopefully) easier to ascertain how the Kantian philosophy is a defense against the diseases of the head as Kant armors his critical enterprise from too much of the world and too much of the mind. The weird fiction of both Lovecraft and Ligotti demonstrates that there is too much of both feeding into one another in a way that corrodes the Kantian schema throughly, breaking it down into a dead but still ontologically potentiated nigredo. The haunting, terrifying fact of Ligotti's idealism is that the transcendental motion which brought thought to matter, while throughly material and naturalized, brings with it the horror that thought cannot be undone without ending the material that bears it either locally or completely. Thought comes from an elsewhere and an elsewhen being-in-thought. The unthinkable outside thought (the thing in itself) is as maddening as the unthought engine of thought itself within thought (the mind or the self) which doesn't exist except for the mind, the rotting décor of the brain. /5/ - Hyperstitional Transcendental Paranoia or Self-Expelled Thought Weird fiction has been given some direct treatment in philosophy in the mad black Deleuzianism of Nick Land. Nick Land along with others in the 1990s created the Cyber Culture Research Unit as well as the research group Hyperstition. The now defunct hyperstitional website, an outgrowth of the Cyber Culture Research Unit, defined hyperstition in the following fourfold: 1-Element of effective culture that makes itself real. 2-Fictional quantity functional as a time-traveling device. 3-Coincidence intensifier. 4-Call to the Old Ones. The distinctively Lovecraftian character of hyperstition is hard to miss as is its Deleuzo-Guattarian roots. In the opening pages of A Thousand Plateaus Deleuze and Guattari write, “We have been criticized for over-quoting literary authors. But when one writes, the only question is which other machine the literary machine can be plugged into” (4). The indisinction of literature and philosophy mirrors the mess of being and knowing as post-correlationist philosophy, where philosophy tries to make itself real where literature, especially the weird, aims itself at the brain-circuit of horror. The texts of both Lovecraft and Ligotti work through horror as epistemological plasticity (too much/not enough knowledge) meeting with proximity (too much space in Lovecraft and not enough in Ligotti) as well as the deep time of Lovecraft and the glacially slow time of paranoia in Ligotti. Against Deleuze, and following Brassier, we cannot allow the time of consciousness, the Bergsonian time of the duree, to override natural time, but instead acknowledge that it is an unfortunate fact of existence as a thinking being. Horror-time, the time of consciousness, with all its punctuated moments and drawn out terrors, cannot compare to the deep time of non-existence both in the unreachable past and the unknown future. The crystalline cogs of Kant's account of experience as the leading light for the possibility of metaphysics must be throughly obliterated. His gloss of experience in Prolegomena to any Future Metaphysics could not be more sterile: Experience consists of intuitions, which belong to the sensibility, and of judgments, which are entirely a work of the understanding. But the judgments which the understanding makes entirely out of sensuous intuitions are far from being judgments of experience. For in the one case the judgment connects only the perceptions as they are given in sensuous intuition [....] Experience consists in the synthetic connection of appearances (perceptions) in consciousness, so far as this connection is necessary (43-44). Here it is difficult to dismiss the queasiness that Kant's legalism induces upon sight for both Badiou and David-Menard. Kant's thought becomes, as Foucault says when reflecting on Sade's text in relation to nature, “the savage abolition of itself” ( Madness and Civilization , 285). For Badiou, Kant's philosophy simply closes off too much of the outside, freezing the world of thought in an all too limited formalism. Critical philosophy is simply the systematized quarantine on future thinking, on thinking which would threaten the formalism which artificially grants thought (and philosophy) its own coherency in the face of madness. Even the becoming-mad of Deleuze, while escaping the rumbling ground, makes grounds for itself, mad grounds but grounds which are thinkable in their affect ( The Logic of Sense , 7). The field of effects allows for Deleuze's aesthetic and radical empiricism, in which effects and/or occasions make up the material of the world to be thought as a chaosmosis of simulacra. Given a critique of an empiricism of aesthetics, of the image, it may be difficult to justify an attack on Kantian formalism with the madness of literature, which does not aim to make itself real but which we may attempt to make real (but such mental effort of course only reinscribes the unreality of fiction). That is, how do Lovecraft's and Ligotti's materials, as materials for philosophy to work on, differ from either the operative formalisms of Kant or the implicitly formalized images of Deleuzian empiricism? It is simply that such texts do not aim to make themselves real, and make claims to the real which are more alien to us than familiar, which is why their horror is immediately more trustworthy. This is the madness which Blanchot discusses in The Infinite Conversation through Cervantes and his knight – the madness of book-life, of the perverse unity of literature and life (388-389) a discussion which culminates in the discussion of one of the weird's masters, that of Kafka. The text is the knowing of madness, since madness, in its moment of becoming-more-mad, cannot be frozen in place but by the solidifications of externalizing production. This is why Foucault ends his famous study with works of art. Furthermore extilligence, the ability to export the products of our maligned brains, is the companion of the attempts to export, or discover the possibility of intelligences outside of our heads, in order for philosophy to survive the solar catastrophe (Lyotard, 122). To borrow again from Deleuze, writing is inseparable from becoming ( Essays Critical and Clinical , 1). The mistake is to believe that madness is reabsorbed by extilligence, by great works, or that it could be exorcised by the expelling of thought into the inorganic or differently organic. Going out of our heads does not guarantee we will no longer mean we cannot still go out of our minds. This is simply because of the outside, of matter, or force, or energy, or thing-in-itself, or Schopenhauerian Will. In Lovecraft’s “The Music of Erich Zahn” an “impoverished student of metaphysics” (174) becomes intrigued by strange viol music coming from above his room. After meeting the musician the student discovers that each night he plays frantic music at a window in order to keep some horridness at bay, some “impenetrable darkness with chaos and pandemonium” (179). The aesthetic defenses provided by the well trained brain can bear the hex of matter for so long, the specter of unalterability within it which too many minds obliterate, collapsing everything before the thought of thought as thinkable or at least noetically mutable on our own terms. Transcendental paranoia is the concurrent nightmare and promise of Paul Humphrey's work, of being literally out of our minds. It is the gothic counterpart of thinking non-conceptually but also of thinking never belonging to any instance of purportedly solid being. As Bataille stated, “At the boundary of that which escapes cohesion, he who reflects within cohesion realizes there is no longer any room for him” ( Theory of Religion , 10) Thought is immaterial only to the degree that it is inhuman, it is a power (a process rooted in an object itself the side effect of forces and processes) that tries, always with failure, to ascertain its own genesis. Philosophy, if it can truly return to the great outdoors, if it can leave behind the dead loop of the human skull, must recognize not only the non-priority of human thought, but that thought never belongs to the brain that thinks it, thought comes from somewhere else. To return to the train image from the beginning “a locomotive rolling on the surface of the earth is the image of continuous metamorphosis” ( Visions of Excess , 7) this is the problem of thought, and of thinking thought, of being no longer able to isolate thought, with only a thought-formed structure.  One of the central tenets of Francois Laruelle's non-philosophy is that philosophy has traditionally operated on material already presupposed as thinkable instead of trying to think the real in itself. Philosophy, according to Laruelle, remains fixated on transcendental synthesis which shatters immanence into an empirical datum and an a prori factum which are then fused by a third thing such as the ego. For a critical account of Laruelle's non-philosophy see Ray Brassier's Nihil Unbound. (shrink)
Machine generated contents note: -- Preface -- Acknowledgements -- Notes on Contributors -- Introduction; Z.Radman -- The Mystery of the Background qua Background; H.L.Dreyfus -- PART I: ECHOING SEARLE'S AND DREYFUS' VIEWS ON THE BACKGROUND -- Ground-Level Intelligence:Action-Oriented Representation and the Dynamics of the Background; M.Cappuccio& M.Wheeler -- Exposing the Background: Deep and Local; D.D.Hutto -- The Background as Intentional, Conscious, and Nonconceptual; M.Schmitz -- Social Cognition, the Chinese Room, and the Robot Replies; S.Gallagher -- Contesting John's Searle' Social Ontology: (...) Institutions and Background; J.Margolis -- Music and the Background; D.Schmicking -- PART II: EXTENDED VIEWS ON THE BACKGROUND -- Implicit Precision; E.T.Gendlin -- Enkinaesthesia: The Essential Sensuous Background for Co-Agency; S.A.J.Stuart -- Steps Entailed in Foregrounding the Background: Taking the Challenge of Languaging Experience Seriously; M.Sheets-Johnstone -- The Body as Background: Pragmatism and Somasthetics; R.Shusterman -- The Background: A Tool of Potentiality; Z.Radman -- Embodied Technology as Implicit Knowledge of Modern Civilization; K.Mainzer -- Index. (shrink)
Finitary sketches, i.e., sketches with finite-limit and finite-colimit specifications, are proved to be as strong as geometric sketches, i.e., sketches with finite-limit and arbitrary colimit specifications. Categories sketchable by such sketches are fully characterized in the infinitary first-order logic: they are axiomatizable by σ-coherent theories, i.e., basic theories using finite conjunctions, countable disjunctions, and finite quantifications. The latter result is absolute; the equivalence of geometric and finitary sketches requires (in fact, is equivalent to) the non-existence of measurable cardinals.
A succinct introduction to mathematical logic and set theory, which together form the foundations for the rigorous development of mathematics. Suitable for all introductory mathematics undergraduates, Notes on Logic and Set Theory covers the basic concepts of logic: first-order logic, consistency, and the completeness theorem, before introducing the reader to the fundamentals of axiomatic set theory. Successive chapters examine the recursive functions, the axiom of choice, ordinal and cardinal arithmetic, and the incompleteness theorems. Dr. Johnstone has included numerous exercises designed (...) to illustrate the key elements of the theory and to provide applications of basic logical concepts to other areas of mathematics. (shrink)
This article is a sequel to ‘The Liar Syndrome’. It answers in detail the various criticisms of the latter expressed by Roy T. Cook in his article, ‘Curing the Liar Syndrome’, appearing in SATS/Nordic Journal of Philosophy, 3 (2): 126-141 (2002).
Notices Amer. Math. Sac. 51, 2004). Logically, such a "Grothendieck topos" is something like a universe of continuously variable sets. Before long, however, F.W. Lawvere and M. Tierney provided an elementary axiomatization..