Despite the seemingly neutral vantage of using nature for widely-distributed computational purposes, neither post-biological nor post-humanist teleology simply concludes with the real "end of nature" as entailed in the loss of the specific ontological status embedded in the identifier "natural." As evinced by the ecological crises of the Anthropocene—of which the 2019 Brazil Amazon rainforest fires are only the most recent—our epoch has transfixed the “natural order" and imposed entropic artificial integration, producing living species that become “anoetic,” made to serve (...) as automated exosomatic residues, or digital flecks. I further develop Gilles Deleuze’s description of control societies to upturn Foucauldian biopower, replacing its spacio-temporal bounds with the exographic excesses in psycho-power; culling and further detailing Bernard Stiegler’s framework of transindividuation and hyper-control, I examine how becoming-subject is predictively facilitated within cognitive capitalism and what Alexander Galloway terms “deep digitality.” Despite the loss of material vestiges qua virtualization—which I seek to trace in an historical review of industrialization to postindustrialization—the drive-based and reticulated "internet of things" facilitates a closed loop from within the brain to the outside environment, such that the aperture of thought is mediated and compressed. The human brain, understood through its material constitution, is susceptible to total datafication’s laminated process of “becoming-mnemotechnical,” and, as neuroplasticity is now a valid description for deep-learning and neural nets, we are privy to the rebirth of the once-discounted metaphor of the “cybernetic brain.” Probing algorithmic governmentality while posing noetic dreaming as both technical and pharmacological, I seek to analyze how spirit is blithely confounded with machine-thinking’s gelatinous cognition, as prosthetic organ-adaptation becomes probabilistically molded, networked, and agentially inflected (rather than simply externalized). (shrink)
In “Psychopower and Ordinary Madness” my ambition, as it relates to Bernard Stiegler’s recent literature, was twofold: 1) critiquing Stiegler’s work on exosomatization and artefactual posthumanism—or, more specifically, nonhumanism—to problematize approaches to media archaeology that rely upon technical exteriorization; 2) challenging how Stiegler engages with Giuseppe Longo and Francis Bailly’s conception of negative entropy. These efforts were directed by a prevalent techno-cultural qualifier: the rise of Synthetic Intelligence (including neural nets, deep learning, predictive processing and Bayesian models of cognition). This (...) paper continues this project but first directs a critical analytic lens at the Derridean practice of the ontologization of grammatization from which Stiegler emerges while also distinguishing how metalanguages operate in relation to object-oriented environmental interaction by way of inferentialism. Stalking continental (Kapp, Simondon, Leroi-Gourhan, etc.) and analytic traditions (e.g., Carnap, Chalmers, Clark, Sutton, Novaes, etc.), we move from artefacts to AI and Predictive Processing so as to link theories related to technicity with philosophy of mind. Simultaneously drawing forth Robert Brandom’s conceptualization of the roles that commitments play in retrospectively reconstructing the social experiences that lead to our endorsement(s) of norms, we compliment this account with Reza Negarestani’s deprivatized account of intelligence while analyzing the equipollent role between language and media (both digital and analog). (shrink)
Beginning with a survey of the shortcoming of theories of organology/media-as-externalization of mind/body—a philosophical-anthropological tradition that stretches from Plato through Ernst Kapp and finds its contemporary proponent in Bernard Stiegler—I propose that the phenomenological treatment of media as an outpouching and extension of mind qua intentionality is not sufficient to counter the ̳black-box‘ mystification of today‘s deep learning‘s algorithms. Focusing on a close study of Simondon‘s On the Existence of Technical Objectsand Individuation, I argue that the process-philosophical work of Gilbert (...) Simondon, with its critique of Norbert Wiener‘s first-order cybernetics, offers a precursor to the conception of second-order cybernetics (as endorsed byFrancisco Varela, Humberto Maturana, and Ricardo B. Uribe) and, specifically, its autopoietic treatment of information. It has been argued by those such as Frank Pasquale that neuro-inferential deep learning systems premised on predictive patterning, suchas AlphaGo Zero, have a veiled logic and, thus, are ̳black boxes‘. In detailing a philosophical-historical approach to demystify predictive patterning/processing and the logic of such deep learning algorithms, this paper attempts to shine a light on such systems and their inner workingsàla Simondon. (shrink)
Recently, given the fomenting protests following the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery (amongst countless others), much discussion has erupted amongst contemporary artist-activists about the proper place for art and the aestheticization of politics. This is, of course, by no means a novel conversation. Historically, the aestheticization of politics has been disparaged perhaps most vocally by those such as Adorno and Horkheimer, but this critique has its most well-known roots in Plato. Plato’s critique is levelled at the (...) theatre and poetry, particularly the habituation effects of its consumption; specifically, Plato saw that the tragedy embodied by those performers inhabiting the stage and the enraptured audiences who engaged at the level of emotions. Plato censured the putatively groundless feelings demonstrated by actors and their transposition, artificiality’s ripple effect. Consider, for example, the actor performing the role of Achilles who extravagantly expresses grief without truly undergoing it. Audience members inhere towards an unmerited emotional hunger-cum-satisfaction for those putatively irrational feelings of loss by way of weeping and wailing. For Plato, such identification is devoid of proper evaluative grounding and, therefore, is corruptive. Plato’s critique can be considered an evaluation of the kind of rational emotional arrest that occurs through artificial emotional uptake. However, one could counter Plato’s position by noting how, regardless of whether these emotions are performed or the actors “truly” feel them, they may serve a political purpose and greater ends—bridging the audience together with performer/artist, allowing an “as if” simulative scenario. (shrink)
Drawing from Arjen Kleinherenbrink's recent book, Against Continuity: Gilles Deleuze's Speculative Realism (2019), this paper undertakes a detailed review of Kleinherenbrink's fourfold "externality thesis" vis-à-vis Deleuze's machine ontology. Reading Deleuze as a philosopher of the actual, this paper renders Deleuzean syntheses as passive contemplations, pulling other (passive) entities into an (active) experience and designating relations as expressed through contraction. In addition to reviewing Kleinherenbrink's book (which argues that the machine ontology is a guiding current that emerges in Deleuze's work after (...) Difference and Repetition) alongside much of Deleuze's oeuvre, we relate and juxtapose Deleuze's machine ontology to positions concerning externality held by a host of speculative realists. Arguing that the machine ontology has its own account of interaction, change, and novelty, we ultimately set to prove that positing an ontological "cut" on behalf of the virtual realm is unwarranted because, unlike the realm of actualities, it is extraneous to the structure of becoming-that is, because it cannot be homogenous, any theory of change vis-à-vis the virtual makes it impossible to explain how and why qualitatively different actualities are produced. (shrink)
Book review of Ann-Sophia Barwich's Smellosophy: What the Nose Tells the Mind (2020), focusing on stereotypic stimulus mapping vs behavioral approaches that a proper study of olfaction, and perception tout court, necessitates.
Postmodernity’s cultural database logic and the consequent filmic characteristics of the digital age were fostered by Lev Manovich’s 1999 essay “The Database as Symbolic Form,” whereby Manovich furthered Roland Barthes’ adoption of Saussurrean sign-systems to describe cultural phenomena. In particular, Manovich applied Saussure’s description to postmodernity, delineating a juncture from modernism’s narrative-thralldom in the computer age, as “[i]nteractive interfaces foreground the paradigmatic dimension and often make explicit paradigmatic sets. Yet, they are still organized along the syntagmatic dimension” (232). The interface (...) design process in new media primarily revolves around choices as in the file/folder metaphor; however, these actions ultimately collapse from the infinite choices into the finite syntagma of narrative structure. Such is the database narrative. (shrink)
Over the last thirty years, once staunchly historical cinema scholars such as Thomas Elsaesser, Jane Gaines, Siegfried Zielinski, and André Gaudreault have abandoned history for historiography and film studies for media archaeology. With increasing attention on the “database” as a symbolic metaphor for postmodernity and the decentered, networked tenants of the global present, cinema is taking on the characteristics of new media, existing in intertextual space. Thus, the term “post-cinema” has been co-opted as a viable intermediary that accounts for new (...) media conditions, as cinema is no longer emblematic of our cultural climate. As Giorgio Agamben wrote in 1992, “[t]he end of the cinema truly sounds the death knell of the ultimate metaphysical adventure of Dasein. In the twilight of post-cinema…human quasi-existence, now stripped of any metaphysical hypostasis and deprived of any theological model, will have to seek its proper generic consistency elsewhere." Accordingly, we are no longer “moviegoing animals” who seek images of ourselves among a collective in the dark but, rather, users interfacing within a network of moving images. (shrink)
A eulogy on the late Bernard Stiegler, reflecting on Ekin Erkan's friendship with Stiegler and Stiegler's influence on the philosophical study of technology, stoking a comparative review between Stiegler and other thinkers in analytic and continental traditions.
Thomas Elsaesser’s recent scholarship has examined the “mind-game film”, a phenomenon in Hollywood that is broadly characterised by multi-platform storytelling, paratextual narrative feedback loops, nonlinear storytelling, and unreliable character perspectives. While “mind-game” or “puzzle” films have become a contentious subject amongst post-cinema scholars concerned with Hollywood storytelling, what is to be said of contemporary European independent cinema? Elsaesser’s timely publication, European Cinema and Continental Philosophy, examines an amalgam of politically inclined European auteurs to resolve this query. Elsaesser concedes that there (...) exists a phenomenological confluence between the mind-game film and contemporary European cinema. For instance, both produce characters afflicted by productive pathologies, designating new socially useful forms of agency and identity. One only needs to consult the amnesiac protagonist M (Markku Peltola) in Aki Kaurismäki’s The Man Without a Past (Mies vailla menneisyyttä, 2002) or, as regards Lars von Trier’s cinema, Beth (Emily Watson) in Breaking the Waves (1996), Selma (Björk) in Dancer in the Dark (2000), “She” (Charlotte Gainsbourg) in Antichrist (2009) or Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg) in Nymphomaniac (2013) to evince this overlap. However, this book is more concerned with performative self-contradictions, whereby cinema-as-enunciator is put under erasure, thus aggravating the inherent discrepancies troubling Europe today. Elsaesser, indeed, evaluates a growing general disaffection with politics, the rise of populist nationalism and far-right fringe parties, as well as an increasing population of economic migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers. (shrink)
François Laruelle has rightfully earned the title of contemporary French philosophy’s archetypical heretic, having fostered the “non-standard” method of univocal genericity and spurred an altogether radical praxis, inciting a new generation of loyal followers that include Jason Barker and Ray Brassier. Laruelle’s method, often referred to as “non-philosophy” (though “non-philosophy” is an abbreviation of “non-standard philosophy”), withdraws from the metaphysical precept of separating the world into binarisms, perhaps epitomized by the formative division between “universals” and “particulars” in Kant’s Transcendental Deduction. (...) Laruelle’s method also rejects the “evental” nature of Being described by Heiddegger as the foundation for philosophy's “standard model,” which Heidegger termed Ereignis (often translated as “the event of Appropriation”). In its immanence, Laruelle’s “One” is understood as generic identity - an identity/commonality that reverses the classical metaphysics found in philosophy’s bastion thinkers (a lineage that runs from Plato to Badiou), where the transcendental is upheld as a necessary precondition for grounding reality. Instead, Laruelle asserts the “One” as the immanent real: generic, non-philosophical and axiomatic. (shrink)
Contra the dominant readings, Hieronymi—refusing to sideline concerns of metaphysics for the impasse of normativity—argues that the core of Strawson's argument in "Freedom and Resentment" rests on an implicit and overlooked metaphysics of morals grounded in social naturalism, focusing her discussion on Strawson's conception of objective attitudes. The objective attitude deals with exemption, rather than excuse. This distinction is critical to Strawson's picture of responsibility: In addition to our personal reactive attitudes are their impersonal or vicarious analogues. There are two (...) such cases: first, cases where we suspend or modify reactive attitudes due to error about the quality of the will. In these cases of excuse, we might include an actor who we learn was innocently ignorant, or whose behavior was an accident, and so we see that he or she really meant no harm. Consequently, we exculpate the injury in question. In cases of excuse, we are mistaken about the quality of the actor's will and, thus, our reactive attitude changes, but the moral demands stay. However, one might view other people as equipped with mental attributes and as people about whom one is disposed not to indulge in with those reactive attitudes of resentment, approbation, and so on; this involves viewing others objectively. We encounter these scenarios in the case of small children, people suffering from dementia, or those with forms of other serious mental illness. This second category involves exemption: Rather than reacting with the corresponding reactive attitudes, we view those actors—who lack the capacities required to fit into the usual system tolerably well—objectively, thereby exempting them from the usual demands of ordinary interpersonal relating. (shrink)
The Guggenheim’s spring retrospective of the seminal Swedish painter, Hilma Af Klint, has, naturally, evoked a multitude of art critics and visual culture scholars who laud her radical abstraction which, at the beginning of the 20th century, preceded Kandinsky, Malevich, Mondrian. Yet, where much attention has been given to the symbology and motifs riddling Klint’s work – bold, private, untethered and nonrepresentational as they are – there has been a modicum of nuanced thought on how, exactly, esotericism and theology fomented (...) Klint’s pedagogical projects. Jillian Steinhauer, for instance, has underscored Klint’s naturalistic watercolors; featuring flowers and lifelike drawings of women; Summer Landscape (1888) suggests Klint’s technical aptitude for rendering light. Jadranka Ryle, in a clever article titled “Reinventing the Yggdrasil,” invokes Klint’s motif of the Yggdrasil, or the holy tree of Norse mythology, as a political axle for Nordic romanticism. Ryle makes the claim that by redirecting the Yggdrasil towards androgynous abstraction, Klint’s engagement with Norse mythology subverts the nationalist and patriarchal romanticism that previously characterized the nineteenth century’s use of the Yggdrasil. Others have adroitly uncovered biographical fragments from Klint’s life, detailing how she and four friends formed De Fem (“the Five”), an exclusively female coven that met weekly, praying, meditating, and holding seances to commune with spiritual guides. Rather than poise the Swedish maverick within the cannon of abstraction qua a political praxis, feminist subject-being, or historiography – projects that have been exhaustively overwrought, to the point of rendering Klint’s work both mute and reductively technical– I would like to take this time to closely examine simply one of Klint’s paintings and foreground it as an axiomatic modernist injunction between metaphysics and epistemology. (shrink)
The infinite judgement has long been forgotten and yet, as I am about to demonstrate, it may be urgent to revive it for its critical and productive potential. An infinite judgement is neither analytic nor synthetic; it does not produce logical truths, nor true representations, but it establishes the genetic conditions of real objects and the concepts appropriate to them. It is through infinite judgements that we reach the principle of transcendental logic, in the depths of which all reality can (...) emerge in its material and sensible singularity, making possible all generalization and formal abstraction. (shrink)
Are the emotions elicited by real-life occurrences in analogous with those which occur in fictions? The position that Jonathan Gilmore stakes in Apt Imaginings: Feelings for Fictions and Other Creatures of the Mind is that our emotions are not governed by the same standards of appropriateness or rationality across life and art—there is a kind of separation, barrier or “quarantine” (to borrow Gilmore’s parlance). For instance, we may admire or root for Tony Soprano when watching The Sopranos but would abhor (...) such a person in real life; similarly, we may take great pleasure in the wanton destruction in a film such as Lars von Trier’s Melancholia but would be horrified by this were it to occur. Gilmore queries us to examine this discrepancy and departure, drawing attention to the consideration that, if fictions are simply extensions of our imagination why often times when we imagination something do we respond to what we imagine as if it were to really occur? When we imagine missing a train, for instance, we feel a nervousness analogous to what we would feel were we to really miss the train. On the one side is the pull of continuity, a commitment to invariance, in which our engagements with the contents of fictions and other imagined creations are said to be modeled on our engagements with ordinary real-world states of affairs. On the other is the pull of discontinuity, in which such representations are posed as offering potentially sui generis sorts of experiences that resist assimilation or reduction to those we encounter in the everyday. Thus, questions concerning art and fictive imagining’s autonomy and belief are inherently imbricated within this discourse. (shrink)
Alexander R. Galloway and Jason R. LaRiviére’s article “Compression in Philosophy” seeks to pose François Laruelle’s engagement with metaphysics against Bernard Stiegler’s epistemological rendering of idealism. Identifying Laruelle as the theorist of genericity, through which mankind and the world are identified through an index of “opacity,” the authors argue that Laruelle does away with all deleterious philosophical “data.” Laruelle’s generic immanence is posed against Stiegler’s process of retention and discretization, as Galloway and LaRiviére argue that Stiegler’s philosophy seeks to reveal (...) an enchanted natural world through the development of noesis. By further developing Laruelle and Stiegler’s Marxian projects, I seek to demonstrate the relation between Stiegler's artefaction and “compression” while, simultaneously, I also seek to create further bricolage between Laruelle and Stiegler. I also further elaborate on their distinct engagement(s) with Marx, offering the mold of synthesis as an alternative to compression when considering Stiegler’s work on transindividuation. In turn, this paper seeks to survey some of the contemporary theorists drawing from Stiegler (Yuk Hui, Al-exander Wilson and Daniel Ross) and Laruelle (Anne-Françoise Schmidt, Gilles Grelet, Ray Brassier, Katerina Kolozova, John Ó Maoilearca and Jonathan Fardy) to examine political discourse regarding the posthuman and non-human, with a particular interest in Kolozova’s unified theory of standard philosophy and Capital. (shrink)
Espousing non-reductive physicalism, how do we pick out the specific relevant physical notion(s) from physical facts, specifically in relation to phenomenal experience? Beginning with a historical review of Gilbert Ryle’s behaviorism and moving through Hilary Putnam’s machine-state functionalism and Wilfrid Sellars’ inferential framework, up to more contemporaneous computationalist- and cognitivist-functionalism (Gualtiero Piccinini), we survey accounts of mentality that countenance the emergence of mental states vide input- and output-scheme. Ultimately arriving at the conclusion that functionalism cannot account for problems such as (...) no-cognition reports, we see any robust defense of physicalism must appeal to other principles. Thus we move on to the question of emergence, not as it pertains to the hard(er) problem, but to the matter of conceptual externalization of mental properties from physical properties. Accordingly, we navigate Karen Bennett’s compatibilist solution to the exclusion argument against mental causation for the non-reductive physicalist position, according to which the physical effects of mental cases are not overdetermined, demonstrating that this backfires by offering a path for the mind-body interactionist Dualist to claim causal closure by appealing to this same schema. We conclude with a series of conceptual musings regarding rationality which take into account our challenges and findings, querying about whether phenomenal consciousness is a fundamentally private, or socially configured, notion. (shrink)
In her seminal text, What Should We Do With Our Brain? (2008), Catherine Malabou gestured towards neuroplasticity to upend Bergson's famous parallel of the brain as a "central telephonic exchange," whereby the function of the brain is simply that of a node where perceptions get in touch with motor mechanisms, the brain as an instrument limited to the transmission and divisions of movements. Drawing from the history of cybernetics one can trace how Bergson's 'telephonic exchange' prefigures the neural 'cybernetic metaphor.' (...) It is elsewhere, however, that What Should We Do With Our Brain? finds its crux: inspired a dialectical-speculative opposition between plasticity and flexibility (wherein plasticity is the way in which time shapes or fashions us, constitutes our subjectivity and at the same time allows for resistance), Malabou invalidates the 'telephonic exchange' metaphor for failing to take into account synaptic and neuronal vitality. Bolstered by neurologist Marc Jeannerod's research in The Nature of Mind (2002), Malabou further demonstrated, in her past work, that the cybernetic metaphor has also had its day. In Morphing Intelligence, by problematizing intelligence as strictly empirical and biologically determined, Malabou also troubles the traditional distinction between intelligence and intuition. This division is perhaps best exemplified by Bergson’s analysis of intellectual measurement magnitudes in his appeal to intensity, and intensity alone. Malabou, drawing from Dewey and the pragmatism mode of thought, characterizes this fetid standstill as little more than provincialism, charging that, ater Bergson, no truly new argument was offered to counter intelligence as defined by psychologists and biologists, including the most recent cognitivist version. Despite I disagree with her claims regarding cognitivism, in echoing Georges Canguilhem, Malabou castigates psychology’s instrumentalist regard for intelligence, making the claim that it is able to measure only the human ability to “become an instrument.” Malabou contends that Alfred Binet (who heavily critiqued Bergson) had it right—intelligence is constituted by intensities and qualities. This book picks up from this critique and works genealogically; in my exegetical review, I engage with Malabou's and its implications, given her past work. (shrink)
While many film theorists declare Agamben as, in equal part, a Deleuzian film theorist, I pose that, through this Benjaminian lens, we can parse distinctive cinematic questions that Agamben exclusively pursues - in particular, cinema's potential as a repurposive counter-dispositif to combat dominant forms via critique. This is not to suggest that parallels do not exist between Agamben and Deleuze’s approaches: as Meillassoux has noted, Deleuze's logic of representation (also known as "correlationism") develops an "image of thought that attempts to (...) overcome the binary separation” between matter and spirit, mind and body. Furthermore, Agamben is unequivocally astricted to the Bergson-bound Deleuzian tradition of "untimeliness," whereby cinema extricates "the fallacious psychological distinction between image as psychic reality and movement as physical reality." Furthermore, both Agamben and Deleuze are committed to a notion of "cinema-thought," as Jean-Luc Nancy terms it, or haecceities of Oneness—a commitment to cinema-as-immanence, or indexing thought, rather than mediating it via hermetic historicism. However, Agamben's concept of gesture, as a prelinguistic mode of communication, suspends the symbolic, replacing taxonomy and, therefore, offers a sublime breach: "Gesture is the communication of a potential to be communicated." In other words, Agamben’s gesture is something of an “enigmatic signifier,” insofar as it is impregnated with a primitive and unconscious meaning. (shrink)
As one of the seminal theorists further developing François Laruelle’s politically-poised “non-standard philosophy,” Katerina Kolozova’s approach to animality and feminism is part of a particular post-humanist Marxist continuum (which includes Rosi Braidotti, Luce Irigaray, Donna Haraway and N. Katherine Hayles). Nonetheless, Kolozova distinguishes herself from this lineage by adhering to Laruelle’s method, liquidating philosophy of its anthropomorphic nexus. Thus, Kolozova also belongs to a more recently inaugurated and nascent tradition, working in tandem with post-Laruellean philosophers of media, technology, aesthetics and (...) feminist critique, such as Bogna Konior, Yvette Granata, Jonathan Fardy and John Ó Maoilearca. Within this variegated assemblage, Kolozova’s most recent project, Capitalism’s Holocaust of Animals(2019), saliently reconciles and radicalizes Haraway’s epochal dyad of the “inhuman”—a bifurcation riven by technology on one node and the animal on the other—by a resolution of superlative unity. This methodology, adhering to Laruelle’s system of“synthesis-without-synthesizing” attempts to dissolve the spectral chimeras that have haunted philosophy’s metaphysical heredity, proffering a generic identity. (shrink)
Omnicide: Mania, Fatality and Future-in-Delirium (2019) finds Iranian-American philosopher and comparative literature theorist Jason Bahbak Mohaghegh carving the figure of the diffracted neo-Bedouin wanderer, whose mania we tail through the book’s haunted pages. The book’s namesake, “omnicide,” refers to the complete and total erasure of the Earth--the term has most recently been generally applied in ecological contexts, most markedly in regards to the Anthropocene and futurology. However, it is the explicitly poetic and literary intersection between mania and the grotesque that (...) Mohaghegh inches us towards, lifting omnicide from its proscriptive use in the Western philosophical/sociological tradition and goading it towards an unfamiliar cryptic terrain. Surveying ten contemporary Middle Eastern poets and fiction writers, including Sadeq Hedayat (Iran), Réda Bensmaia (Algeria), Samuel Adonis (Syria), Joyce Mansour (Egypt), Forugh Farrokhzad (Iran), Ibrahim al-Koni (Libya), Ahmad Shamlu (Iran), Ghada Samman (Lebanon), Mahmoud Darwish (Palestine) and Hassim Blasim (Iraq), Mohaghegh parses curious stanzas and plucks spectral paragraphs from myriad texts so as to navigate the largely occluded and excised narratives of the contemporary Middle Eastern philosophical-literary canon. Not only does Mohaghegh acuminate the multifaceted question of mania and its variegated networks, chambers, byways and sunken burrows--so as to juxtapose two different world literatures (East and West)--but Mohaghegh also illuminates this oeuvre to affront the Western psychoanalytic treatment of mania as an exclusionary vessel. Thus, despite Mohaghegh avoiding any explicit references to Western philosophers and scientists, both the codified dictum of the medical decree and the hyper-genealogical superlative tradition of Georges Canguilhem, Michel Foucault and their contemporaries rankle Omnicide’s annals. (shrink)
Mark Wilson argues that the standard categorizations of "Theory T thinking"— logic-centered conceptions of scientific organization (canonized via logical empiricists in the mid-twentieth century)—dampens the understanding and appreciation of those strategic subtleties working within science. By "Theory T thinking," we mean to describe the simplistic methodology in which mathematical science allegedly supplies ‘processes’ that parallel nature's own in a tidily isomorphic fashion, wherein "Theory T’s" feigned rigor and methodological dogmas advance inadequate discrimination that fails to distinguish between explanatory structures that (...) are architecturally distinct. One of Wilson's main goals is to reverse such premature exclusions and, thus, early on Wilson returns to John Locke's original physical concerns regarding material science and the congeries of descriptive concern insofar as capturing varied phenomena (i.e., cohesion, elasticity, fracture, and the transmission of coherent work) encountered amongst ordinary solids like wood and steel are concerned. Of course, Wilson methodologically updates such a purview by appealing to multiscalar techniques of modern computing, drawing from Robert Batterman's work on the greediness of scales and Jim Woodward's insights on causation. (shrink)
Ian James has carved a rigorous analysis of four philosophers—Jean-Luc Nancy, François Laruelle, Catherine Malabou and Bernard Stiegler—who not only engage with the limits of thought through variegated, albeit embedded, disciplinary tendencies but have also, arguably, spearheaded a critical reorientation of continental philosophy, slowly opening the doors for transcending the traditional terms of the analytic-continental divide by engaging with a pluralized understanding of the sciences. A parallel plexus of American naturalist philosophy accompanies James’ analysis, as he stakes the claim that (...) these four thinkers engage with pluralist ontologies and the limit-conditions of the real to stoke a proximal entanglement between philosophy and science. However, The Technique of Thought is by no means a synoptic account of Nancy, Laruelle, Malabou and Stiegler, as James surveys discourses in philosophy of mind, quantum gravity, causality and biosemiology to index various recent horizons of thought and their developments. The rigor and deft with which James approaches scientific-realist perspectives produce a rich picture of post-metaphysical thinking. (shrink)
This review of Alain Badiou’s The Pornographic Age—as well of the essays included in the book by William Watkin, A.J. Bartlett and Justin Clemens—illuminates that this is one of the few, if not only, texts where Badiou reverses the operational directionality of the event qua category theory, so as to “dis-image” power. In doing so, Badiou provides a theory of power based on intentionality and relation, rather than the more common Foucauldian genealogic-historical methodologies so often co-opted by contemporary thinkers of (...) biopolitics and power. Using Jean Genet’s play, The Balcony, as a fulcrum with which to strip apart the representative regime vis-à-vis the Platonic gesture, Badiou posits a politically exigent critique of contemporary neoliberal democracy. (shrink)
Drawing on Adorno and Horkheimer's oft-quoted 1944 essay, “The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception,” Bernard Stiegler’s The Age of Disruption affirms that the Frankfurt School duo scrupulously envisaged a “new kind of barbarism,” or an inversion of modernity’s Enlightenment project illustrated by our contemporary political semblance. Surveying the critical social fissures that index contemporary Western civil society—from 9/11 to the 2002 Nanterre massacre and the 2015 Charlie Hebdo shooting—Stiegler diagnoses that our epoch is plagued by the “absence of epoch,” (...) whereby computational capitalism and algorithmic governmentality have extirpated the “transcendental imagination” underlying vital primordial narcissism. In short, these are symptoms a world increasingly “going mad,” in a thousand ways, possible because we are the bearers of “a negative protention of a becoming without future,” yet “we prefer not to say so: we do not want to know about it.”. (shrink)
Giorgio Agamben's Creation and Anarchy is comprised of five meditative essays compiled over the last few years and presented as an anthologized collection. The initial few chapters' survey postmodern art qua divinity, with particular interest to a contradictory dialectic: inspiration and critique. Drawing from an idiosyncratic amalgam of thinkers–ranging from bastion thinkers such as Kant and Heidegger to zoologist Jacob von Ueküll and prescient media philosopher Gilbert Simondon–Agamben carves a historiographic lineage between politics, animal studies, landscape painting, and religion.
François Laruelle's system of non-standard philosophy and its univocal radical immanence is highly indebted to Henry's non-representationalism. Admittedly, in contrast to Laruelle's "heretical" Christology, Henry's theological-realist determination is astricted by the idealist paralogisms of a cogitativist Ego, which transpires most markedly in Henry's account of Faith-after all, Henry is a Jesuit phenomenologist following in the tradition of Jean-Luc Marion and Jean-Louis Chretien. Nonetheless, Henry's work on immanence, deanthropocentrized and universalized as generic, takes us much further than both Spinoza's speculative immanence, (...) which is diluted by the necessitarian world of negative determination, and Deleuzian immanence, which is characterized by multiplicitous difference. In The Michel Henry Reader, editors Scott Davidson and Frédéric Seyler weave together a comprehensive anthology of essays that survey Henry's phenomenology of life, stitching together an oeuvre than spans Marxist political philosophy, phenomenology of language, subjectivity and aesthetics, and ethics qua religion. Rather than analyzing specific objects and phenomena, phenomenology is tasked with disclosing the structural manifestation and conditioned appearance of objects. Drawing primarily from Husserl and, consequently, Heidegger, Henry examines a kind of "pure phenomenology" that, contra intentionality and the inert world of visible objects, examines affectivity's "radical invisibility". Whereas Husserl and Heidegger's analyses emphasize the self-transcending nature of appearances, for Henry appearance is never independent or self-reliant but, instead, genitive and denotative. (shrink)
Review of The First Person in Cognition and Morality by Béatrice Longuenesse, formulating how Freud’s genealogy of the moral imperative is compatible with Kant’s investigation of the justificatory structure of a priori cognition and moral reasoning.
Walter Benjamin’s oft-quoted 1936 essay “The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility” advances the claim that, for the first time in history, the “function” of the work of art is political, as evidenced by cinema. For Benjamin, film is the “first art form whose artistic character is entirely determined by its reproducibility” and Giorgio Agamben, a contemporary Benjaminian philosopher, further elucidates this “function,” positing that cinema essentially ranks with ethics and politics, not solely with aesthetics, and, (...) consequently, is proximate to philosophy itself. Whereas Deleuze’s Cinema books posed cinema as enacting time in a pure state, Agamben, in his “Notes on Gesture,” breaches from Deleuze’s spatial and cartographic theory of cinema, drawing on Guy Debord’s “détournement via montage,” Simone Weil’s “decreation” and, perhaps most implicitly, from Benjamin. Agamben’s political theory of cinema, motivated by cinema’s “stoppage and repetition of time,” is directly informed by Benjamin’s: “optical unconscious,” appropriation of Brecht’s “social Gestus,” and the relationship between technological reproducibility and aura. Agamben’s “gesture” fastens cinema’s aesthetics not only to ethics and politics, but to the “ontological consistency of human experience,” or to a way of being. (shrink)
As a philosophical paradigm, differential heterogenesis offers us a novel descriptive vantage with which to inscribe Deleuze’s virtuality within the terrain of “differential becoming,” conjugating “pure saliences” so as to parse economies, microhistories, insurgencies, and epistemological evolutionary processes that can be conceived of independently from their representational form. Unlike Gestalt theory’s oppositional constructions, the advantage of this aperture is that it posits a dynamic context to both media and its analysis, rendering them functionally tractable and set in relation to other (...) objects, rather than as sedentary identities. Surveying the genealogy of differential heterogenesis with particular interest in the legacy of Lautman’s dialectic, I make the case for a reading of the Deleuzean virtual that departs from an event-oriented approach, galvanizing Sarti and Citti’s dynamic a priori vis-à-vis Deleuze’s philosophy of difference. Specifically, I posit differential heterogenesis as frame with which to examine our contemporaneous epistemic shift as it relates to multi-scalar computational modeling while paying particular attention to neuro-inferential modes of inductive learning and homologous cognitive architecture. Carving a bricolage between Mark Wilson’s work on the “greediness of scales” and Deleuze’s “scales of reality”, this project threads between static ecologies and active externalism vis-à-vis endocentric frames of reference and syntactical scaffolding. (shrink)
Over the last thirty years, once staunchly film history scholars such as Thomas Elsaesser, Jane Gaines, Siegfried Zielinski, André Gaudreault and Benoît Turquety (to name just a few) have abandoned history for historiography and film studies for media archaeology. Considering the heightened attention given to kulturtechnik (Siegert), the database as a dominant symbolic metaphor,1 and the decentered networked tenants of the postmodern global present, cinema is taking on the characteristics of new media, existing in increasingly intertextual space. Thus, the term (...) “post-cinema” has been co-opted as a viable intermediary that accounts for new media conditions, as cinema is no longer emblematic of our cultural climate. It was once presaged in 1992 that “[t]he end of the cinema truly sounds the death knell of the ultimate metaphysical adventure of Dasein. In the twilight of post-cinema, of which we are seeing the beginning, human quasi-existence, now stripped of any metaphysical hypostasis and deprived of any theological model, will have to seek its proper generic consistency elsewhere.” Accordingly, we are no longer “moviegoing animals” who seek images of ourselves among a collective in the dark but, rather, users interfacing within a network of moving images. By locating post-cinema within the semblance of social media, we are allocated a newfound series of theoretical interventions, the most marked of which is that of media archeology vis-à-vis dialectical materialism. This is a lens through which Brian Winston has recently deftly decried Virtual Reality’s “empathy machine” utopic illusionism, bolstered by Chris Milk and a slew of neurohumanities researchers, steadily maintaining that the fundamental myth of “technologies of seeing” is in disguising “their artifice, their cultural formation and their ideological import.” However, this approach, which illuminates the bifurcation between Max Horkheimer/Theodor Adorno and Walter Benjamin, neglects what Benjamin identified as occurring to the work of art in the age of its technological reproducibility—a shift from a technology’s “cult value,” associated with the unique work, to its “exhibition value,” associated with the social act of viewing as part of a mass. Speaking to this divarication, Benjamin Barber, in Strong Democracy, foresaw new media’s two-fold potential—as they are organized and networked, new media and communications technologies possess the possibility to both energize citizen information and political participation but, simultaneously, to supplement the deterioration of public debate. As evinced by Mark Adrejevic’s concept of Infoglut, this two-pronged possibility has only been exacerbated by the interlocking relationship between the advent of a “glut” of information, post-truth politics, the demise of symbolic efficiency, and a renewed focus on the role of affect and emotion as “alternative modalities for thinking about the role of communication in a post-referential era.” Manuel Castells qualifies Barber’s pessimism, noting that the Internet can “be an appropriate platform for informed, interactive politics, stimulating political participation.. […] beyond the closed doors of political institutions,” but that the Internet, like any technology, “is shaped by its uses and users.” Thus, if there exists a positive correlation between exposure to post-cinema media artifacts and political participation, then I seek to explore the revelatory political possibilities of “exhibition value” by way of a particular “post-cinema” case study: the Marxist-Leninist Turkish hacktivist group Redhack’s YouTube-circulated documentary RED! (2013), a project that demanded—by way of the moving-image—to galvanize cyberprotest and democratize a “hacktivist commons. (shrink)
Since the advent of media archeology, a deep-seated bifurcation has found one end of the field arguing for the interventionist and appropriative weaponization of media whereas the other side has championed a “total war” with technology itself, insisting that new media’s military-industrial roots inherently color its drivability. Here, I implore a moment within the cultural history of net.art and post-internet art to examine how contemporaneous queries about control after militarism and decentralization, as prognosticated by Paul Virilio and Gilles Deleuze, are (...) part of a more deeply entrenched discourse on neural nets, predictive processing algorithms and machine learning, which the current media theory and post-cinema literature has yet to rigorously respond to. Simultaneously parsing philosophical and media sociology corollaries to ground this overview, I push for more attention towards psychopower, autosurveillance and algorithmic governmentality while distancing critique from the standard Foucauldian discourse of biopower. (shrink)
In Recursivity and Contingency, Yuk Hui prompts a rigorous historical and philosophical analysis of today’s algorithmic culture. As evidenced by highspeed AI trading, predictive processing algorithms, elastic graph-bunching biometrics, Hebbian machine learning and thermographic drone warfare, we are privy to an epochal technological transition. As these technologies, stilted on inductive learning, demonstrate, we no longer occupy the moment of the ‘storage-and-retrieval’ static database but are increasingly engaged with technologies that are involved in the ‘manipulable arrangement’ (p204) of the indeterminable. It (...) is, in fact, extricating the indeterminable or the Inhuman and its cosmic anti-capitalist imperative that concerns the core of Hui’s project of technodiversity. (shrink)