Monday, April 23, 2018

Chappie

Human consciousness has traditionally been defined as an essence, or a form; a spiritual correlate of a material body; and more recently as "something" beyond data, something that cannot be accounted for by materiality. In this sense it is best understood as residual. Residual being captures three metaphysical distinctions. 

We have received this distinction by another name: mind and matter. Mind things are of the order of "things" that can imagine Pegasus, say; whereas bodily things (the sensory apparatus, which is an interconnected neural relationship between nerves endings, and pathways in the brain), will, short of an hallucination, never verify the image combined (presumably) from a set of previous verifications. Material substance is not immaterial substance; and not everything is one substance. 

We late moderns take it for granted that this distinction is without use. Personally, I took it for granted that the mind was illusory, or at best something unnecessary in explanation. If we can explain morals by way of evolutionary hypothesis, for instance; if we can explain empathy by self-interest, say, then what is the point of the posit? What makes us human doesn't seem like the kind of thing that we have to worry about, if the explanandum has been robbed of the need for an explanans. But an impression managing psychopath is not the real McCoy, precisely because we, on the anti-material side of things, refuse to admit that the spiritual is reducible. Being genuine; being a truth teller, runs counterintuitively to calculation and self-interest. 

Of course, everyone knows that self-interest is not easily distinguishable from empathy, as though the latter were a matter of capping off the former. Why? Because it makes sense to ask: Is there value is doing X, whatever the X. Obviously, the realist point that one might value even self- destruction, say in refusing to lie to save oneself, is well intended; and yet, the question: but don't you do that for some kind of reward, is always on the table. Why? Because we take it for granted that we do things for a reason

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Consciousness, however, does still pique an interest. I recently watched Chappie, a story about a robot that has been given consciousness and then learns how to download consciousness into a data form, with the final result being that one need not "go to the next world" because "one would thereby become fully living cyborg, and, you guessed it, "live immortally". If consciousness can be conceived as data, albeit very complicated data, then the life hereafter is unnecessary. We have then another distinction: the living and the dead. Data is dead; humans are alive; chappie is the living dead; and Deon becomes the living dead too. Of course, the cyborg promise is that our body parts are replaceable, for a fee, of course, if you can't just steal it. 

There is another traditional distinction caught up in Chappie. That is the worry of freedom versus determinism.  Humans are free; Machines are bound by obligation and rule; they are programmed. Determinism is programming, whether from the Maker on high or some less than cosmic maker in the lab. Freedom is precisely what the buffoon played by Hugh Jackman did not have: the capacity to arrest the desire to do ill will, or to calculate motives. 

So there you have it: mind and matter; freedom and determinism; self-interest and morality; life and death. It is because this movie reaches far into these distinctions that it tends to appeal. 

And yet, I am a little less convinced by the premise that these enduring questions can be satisfied by a simplistic middle ground analogy. 

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Obviously the idea that a machine can have consciousness is about as ridiculous as believing that Pegasus is real. And it's not that this is due to the fact that I have religious ideals that I wish to protect from science. It is that these ideas are not well grounded by scientific measure; they are not the kinds of thing that permit analysis by empirical tools. This is a debate that goes back to Descartes, Hume, Kant and the medievals. It didn't get sorted then, and it's now no longer on the table, after 200 and some odd years of empirical investigation. And yet, after all that, it seems to have found an audience. It may very well be the case that we have anxiety about the idea of humans being replaced, outlined in ways above; but these anxieties stem from a common perception of time passed; one that cannot be easily answered without traceable echoes. 

Yes, the Hugh Jackman character is a buffoon. No he isn't bound to act viciously. Yes a machine follows orders. No we do not. Our freedom is residual; minds are residual. 

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Inventing a middle ground between humans and machines doesn't answer anything we are asking; it occludes an old memory, a set of three distinctions that must be articulated and which will always trouble. We still have the same anxieties, only we have a new set of permissible answers. But those anxieties are going nowhere because technology is not in the business of solving problems as much as it offers itself as a distraction. And so we trace them back, and so we profane.  

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Marx and the Eschaton

To suppose that Christ doesn't have anything to do with marxist eschatology is to fail to understand the spirit of the age; it is to fail to grasp the point that Hegel and Marx were both upon; speaking, as they were, in an essentially jewish register. 

It was this same register that propelled the disciple and later apostle Peter to slice the ear off the servant alongside Judas in the Garden of Gethsemane; this same individual that wanted to reject the purpose Jesus had. In an ironic moment, in nearly the same sentence, Peter proclaims that Jesus is messiah, and yet denies that Jesus must die; a statement to which Jesus replies: "get behind me Satan". How could one be both understanding and yet so blind? It wouldn't be impossible to read this misunderstanding back into the prophetic works.

Throughout the prophets of the Old testament the promise is that the messiah will release the captives, set the oppressed free; we read this over and over, and yet always with the caveat that this will be a matter of being led by the messiah. And thus, it is not impossible that the same narrative plays in the reality of the Marxist eschaton. We must produce the kingdom of God now (utopia), the new world we have in our hearts. But this position is set in opposition to the desire that messiah has for us; messiah will lead us to greener pastures, while "we all, like sheep, have gone astray." The difference here is subtle: As messiah leads I am made blind to my own. 

Peter was led astray in the garden because, being a Zealot, he expected messiah to lead him and the people of Israel out of political captivity, which is not without truth in the prophets. But messiah never came to release the captives from whatever we pridefully despise; his release includes the denial of self, because it was the selfish eschaton that stole from God's retribution. Retribution (vengeance) is mine, saith the Lord. Thus, can we understand what this looks like? or is that already to desire vision (and so, sin?) (John 9)

It is partially because this position is ambiguous that we might say there is difficulty. God supports the release; it is talked about throughout Isaiah and Jeremiah; but this release on our terms, is already a failure of self. Whatever the release might become is not on our terms. 

To say that God supports whatever we do is to fail to understand prophetic warning. Thus the justice of God cannot be conclusively rallied as support for any world system: socialist, communist, capitalist, or whatever. Any effort to mimic will already fail to address prophetic warning. The God of the old testament led his people himself. 

Will we wager then and hope that what we produce is analogous to the dictates of God, short of being led? Maybe we wonder what its like to be led?


Saturday, March 24, 2018

Indexed Offense.

The idea of partitioned groups of individuals that consent to marry other individuals of their race, doesn’t strike me as something that is morally repugnant; but that’s because there’s nothing that’s morally repugnant, unless one can give a reason. Want of a reason is the trouble. What is usually given is a loose conception of a neatly packaged symbolic reality. And only if you buy into the desires of others.

Reform for individuals tracks a propulsion that anarchists ought to reject. Nothing about reform (better) produces the overthrowing of the system. It is only the overthrow of that system itself that produces whatever, which has nothing to do with the best of the betters. The state will never give us what anarchists want. Therefore, liberal politics, cannot. Etc.,

Being white has at least two senses that need to be discussed: White people in the post-structural sense has to do with being of the ruling class. If being white (this body has the property of being-white) is necessary for rule, we cannot explain how black bodies are in power; if it is sufficient, we cannot explain how many whites do not have any ruling power. Since this is the case, the connection between whiteness and ruling as “the white man” is tenuous, and evidently rhetorical: There is nothing necessary about being white that produces the reality of ruling. The sense of the association comes out a bit more exactly as: whiteness in the ruling sense propels a set of likely potentialities on individuals with white bodies. Ruling propels, however, onto many bodies that aren’t white. Obviously. Therefore, either we affirm that ruling per se is not white; or else, we say, as I’ve said before, that Obama passes (performs) as a white person.

The anarchist tendency is to reject ruling because ruling over people is garbage. If whiteness is synonymous with ruling, then only Marxists are white. Only collectivists are white. Lots of black bodies are white. Everyone should rule together (impossible), or mind to themselves. No human should rule any other. 

The problem of being white is not an individualist's problem.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Post-Technology

Sometimes we wonder what the deeper critique of technology might look like; and for starters, it would seem obvious that it requires a renovation of all forms, until nothing has the identity primed for form, the notion of a repetition, waiting in the wings. To say that there is a big difference between civilization or domestication and wild nature is to reify two forms of life that actually (really) speak inside one another. There are feral cats within civilization; and there are repetitive structures outside of civilization. Being outside, then, implies that one is differentiating by way of another binary. Not the binary then of Nature and Domestication; but the difference between chaos and containment. Nature and Civilization are similar by way of containment; the truth of the matter is that both contain chaos. And of course, this is Agamben's point in the notion of the outside/inside state of the exception; the one being named as the sovereign, the other named as that which falls outside bios. We might make the point in a different way by pointing to thanatos, or, the death drive of society and its negativity, and the chaos in everyone, the chaos of the virus, the chaos of adapting by making new legislation.

That is, it is presumed in contemporary scientific ideology that the individual conforms to the world; that harmony is the desire of the system; that balance is the move. And yet, it would seem obvious to this writer that nothing is adapting to anything because nothing is a stable something to which one might adapt. Everything is unfolding into whatever. Even thinking that there will be a bad kickback for a plethora of bad presumes that order is the point. But what we are really saying is that we can contain the disorder that becoming has always been.

Technology is the containment of whatever being into something legible; into something bound by law; bound by identity. If we say that decomposition is the technological critique, then it will become apparent that the rupture of everyday life by the death drive of capitalism will be within our desire; and this is a point that we cannot deny. The destruction of everything for immediate gain is a delightful proposition for the disorder to come. We do not deny that we find it thrilling to see the capitalists managing the nothing they create. And we see it as sad to see our comrades fight for the nothing that the capitalists have created. Society is nothing worth fighting for. Being able to adapt is the ticket; and their monies will never get anyone there; for their forms were always simply technologies of containment that stave off the disaster of life. To live in the disaster then. To adapt to the disaster. Even better: to create the disaster by which one adapts.





Monday, November 27, 2017

Identity Nihilism

1.The term “queer” has been reclaimed as sexualized; for it doesn’t necessarily have sexual connotations. Concrete traces in “deviance”, or “perversion” flesh out an understanding. It is evident that if the State-apparatus, here or there, accepts a gay future alongside a heteronormative future (Schotten 2015), it is only one that isn’t queer in the sense of destabilizing the regular flows of capitalism. In so far as it does disturb, the orbit of queer is anti-social, and this negative position, defined as such by the political apparatus, is perceived as transgressive by conservatives and liberals alike.  
This paper will assess the degree to which queer theory in its negative mode; in its mode that affirms an oppressive pejorative, is thereby made to be a threat. Of course, labelling X as danger, is surely in part a mechanism to lure that named kind away from that which is outside and threatening, into that which is inside and acceptable. But there is an opening here, outside of the intended line that draws back into the fold, that is revolutionary for queer theory. And this position permits an opportunity to get clear on what we mean by a just society without exclusion. The argument then is of a species of deliberative rhetoric; I wish to argue what is independent of the Symbolic drive to impose identity, is better than Oedipal configurations.

2. Society is addressed as heteronormative and reproductive by Edelman’s queer theory (2004); and in this gesture, it would seem possible that social theory might conceive of a consistent class critique. The Marxist story of appropriating the means of production for the purposes of the dictatorship of the proletariat was espied by Bakunin to be insufficient with respect to utopic vision because there was no reason that a newly established hierarchy, however temporary, would relinquish command of the new society. In short, anarchists didn’t believe that the state would “simply wither away.” Along these lines it was theorized after the events of May ’68 that our own libidinal desires had to be “desublimated” to use Marcuse’s term, or “deterritorialized” to use the parlance of Deleuze and Guatarri because they were already captured under identity with its predictions and permissibilities. If we spill our desire onto ourselves rather than onto the future, proclaiming no future instead, we rob the bourgeoisie and its doubles of its protection within the Symbolic.
To follow Lee Edelman and affirm the properly homophobic assertion that queers ought to be destructive of the political apparatus, or, more precisely, to affirm its own destructive (death) drive, which the Symbolic continuously occludes through its forward-looking possibilities embodied in the Child (4), is to transvalue the antisocial and shore up the Symbolic as a sham (7-8). The Symbolic calls us to be forward looking, forever deferring our perversions for the sake of a future that we do not know, but which, we are promised, will be glorious; but for Edelman, seizing desire now, on our own terms (jouissance), however meaningless for others, however counter-productive for others, is within our grasp. The vision of queers going wild, in myriad ways, makes it impossible for a state (and its subjects) to be singular in desire, which, to be clear, is the post-structuralist meaning of fascism (Bersani 1995, 171).
If the Symbolic is forward-looking, fetishizing the White Child, there is no place in its imaginary for queers that do not submit their desires for repression. For us, surely somewhat queer heteros, we might say that we refuse to reproduce identities because we refuse to sacrifice our lives to the future and to the creation of a better world for everyone to come, which, even if not a blatant lie, seems to always exclude us (Edelman, 30). On the other hand, we wager that the death drive of the Symbolic, the capitalist nightmare, is in its death throes, which, we insist, cannot, and ought not, be resuscitated by our children. The capitalist class extracts surplus labour from the working class of tomorrow; but if there is no working class of tomorrow, society will be hard pressed to reproduce itself. Rather than deferring the responsibility of “seizing the means of production” to the future child, if it is even still within any imaginary, perhaps we might commit to leaving unborn children out of the capitalist mess, and watch as our appropriation of its meaninglessness demonstrates the catastrophe of the Symbolic.
The beauty of claiming queer as a mask is that in doing so one is not obligated to exist in an identifiable and so, predictable way. Failing to be predictable is the betrayal caught up in the text below. But, importantly, this doesn’t mean that we always “out” our political nihilism; sometimes we play along, wearing a mask; sometimes we play a different game too; our couplings might be very queer because when you are already out of bounds, there is nothing else out of bounds.

3. Jean Genet follows this negative line of thinking. He wishes to reclaim evil, but in a way that doesn’t fall necessarily into the difference of social order. Rather, his position is outside; for it is a betrayal or “d├ępassement of the field of transgressive possibility itself” (Bersani 1994, 10). According to Leo Bersani’s reading of Genet, in the properly figured act of homosexuality itself, the bodies reject the idea of reproduction because they mythically emphasize “the sterility of a relation from which the woman’s body is excluded” (1994, 10). Inside the anus, positioned from behind, bodies are not in a face to face exchange that produces intimacy; these bodies are “cruising”, pleasure seeking machines. The difference then is doubly transgressive: the betraying act gestures in a pure form as an affront to the human world that defines (sexual) desire as reproductive purpose; and positionally, these bodies, with respect to each other, deny intimacy. It is not impossible to say that for Genet, the inhuman act of pleasure seeking is the betrayal of everyone, and that such a gesture ultimately leads to the possibility of betraying anyone.  
            For Genet, the value of reclaiming the negative, is to point at a world that may not be oppressive. In the final analysis, for Bersani, this is possible only if we will the death of our desires for ordering other people, to destroy the desire to become new masters for potential slaves. No future! For Genet, profaning the social and betraying it by individual gesture, which we might call radical homosexuality, allows the birth of the new after the destruction of Oedipal desire. Pure stimulation, pure affectuality, with utter disregard for what’s proper and socially reproductive, allows for the possibility of life without prediction (Bersani 1994, 17). And it is unpredictability as a prior category, that turns mere evil within the Oedipal apparatus into a chaos prior to Oedipal politicization. In the best possible light, one might very well support the ultra-left revolution, right up until the moment comes where it no longer serves ones’ interest, say, because the revolutionary moment has been lost and Oppression has reorganized with its variety of compatible reforms (Bottig, 410). And, on the other, one might find pleasure in supporting a fascist cause merely because it undermines social order. And so on. For Genet, only creative unpredictability can save us from repetitions within Oedipus. In the place of unpredictability; in the privacy behind the mask; one has remained a letter, and denied the possibility of being captured and signified by the Symbolic. One is here, perhaps, only for the cause of pleasure, which doesn’t necessarily exclude pleasure in death.

4. One might object here saying: isn’t pleasure always desired? What then of suicide? Metaphorical suicide, of course, seems odd because it denies the self; but we said above that this doesn’t preclude a new birth in a solitary, unpredictable self, behind the mask. On the other hand, if we think that pleasure as a value includes its permanent arrival to sense, we fail to understand that there are degrees. A life of moderate pleasure, or even minimal, might not be worth living; and so, the rush of suicide or an erotic physical death, might be better on the whole. As Epicurus articulated: death means nothing to us; for one would not be around to lament the loss. In general, the choice of pursuing oneself unto death, creates an indifference towards everyone else, that also happens to translate into a rejection of unborn babies, which we can spin as positive and caring.
            In the view that has been put forward in this paper so far, Identity is something that we are socialized into; we are nurtured as women and men; and if we are discovered to not fit with the desires of being as such, sexually or otherwise, that is, to fit with the heterosexual future, we are named queer. But rejecting identity and how it constructs us, opens the possibility of forever queering. Being in opposition to the reproductive future for the immediate now of desire is not, then, the explicit privilege of Queers. It seems to me that resistance to Identity is the beginning of an unravelling that queer theory holds for denying class and social investments. But if we are to go all the way, queering everything, we need to be open, too, to betraying the Oppressors on both sides of the political spectrum, which may mean finding ourselves at once in opposition to the left and the right, or fighting alongside either project because such provides the conditions for an immediate jouissance.  In the words of the authors of Baeden: “Queerness marks the space which is outside and against political logic” (22).
           
5. Marxists of many stripes have taken issue with individualism for being petit bourgeoisie, the privilege of white males; and they have not resisted making similar remarks about queers, to find themselves ashamed, at least by those queers willing to play along with their social justice project. The queer that affirms the death drive, however, lusting after jouissance, doesn’t fit into the futuristic thinking of Marxists; and it is from this tension, between being free from responsibility and also wanting to demolish the entire apparatus, that the Marxist doesn’t know what to do with the space of jouissance and whomever might occupy it with masks or genuine intentions. However, it should be unequivocally clear, that the death drive is a problem for social Marxists, specifically because it is the production of the upper class against the poor; and it is from that reason that their scandalous claim fits the queer individualist. But the argument we have followed above notes that fascism requires the organization of classes, which structures by identity, and that the subjects of each class behave according to reproductive futurism. Thus, queers that fall outside of the destiny of the left and its future reproductive drive, queers who reject the claim that their sexuality just isn’t figured into an identity yet, note the fascistic tonality of politics (Identity) and aim to be apolitical or anti-political. Given this telos, if individuals affirm the death drive as their own, if they appropriate the meaningless logic of the Symbolic in their own jouissance, the only question is whether they are individually passive or active in their nihilism. That is: are they decadent, or dangerous? To get the idea here, we ask: have we been, all along, just talking about circuit parties and gay narcissistic cruising? Edelman himself is a gay university professor—hardly the sort that would carry out social war. The articulation, then, in this critique, is that queer negation must be of a different order than a plain gesture at the destruction of society in terms of its ontological decadence. Destruction falls outside of the social order, and remains outside; decadence is perfectly compatible.
            The criticism from the authors of Baeden against Edelman is, at least in part, that his jouissance is repetition, and therefore fits too neatly into the Identity of being-gay. Negation as something outside the social order requires more. Following jouissance to our death pulls at our sense of ourselves. It is therefore beyond individual control in the sense that one is given to the drive, one gives, come what may, whatever might come. Thus, it is not conservative; it is not ‘come’ as predicted in the repetition of the same. Thus, simply being gay might have its consequences in Afghanistan; but not in San Francisco. Queer negation means actually being outside the social order, relative to the order.
This is generally the tension between apolitical passivity, and anti-political activity; but problems arise on both sides. Apolitical passivity falls easily into the order, as a kind, however invisible; whereas anti-political activity, too, falls into a kind. The problem is that if you don’t commit to the revolution, at any point, others will affirm that you are passive. But it is not clear how activity doesn’t fit into yet one more identity by which you might invest or divest, and therefore, how this isn’t just one more operation of the potential Symbolic to “suture ones’ empty subjectivity to some abstraction outside of oneself in an attempt to find some meaning” (Baeden, 23). We have implied that Genet’s betrayal cuts across both lines, brokering no commitments. Genet calls for the death of repetition, along with the death of Symbolic order in favor of the unimaginable queerness of appropriating the death drive. And this is why we have suggested a form of straddling; where we pass willingly back and forth between activity and apoliticity, the former only to escape the latter, and vice versa.

6. In the context of prefiguring a new world to live within, after the state has been made to wither away, queer negation posits a world that isn’t well ordered. And yet, if the state is made to stay away because people no longer find it necessary to order other people, because jouissance flourishes, we have the beginning of an ethical vision that resists exclusion. People would simply be people, queer to every imaginable degree, and not valid because of structural permissibility, sublimated according to appropriate desire. Presumably in such a world there would be no centralizing force that sublimates permissible desire. Individuals might take it upon themselves to be unrelational, of course; but the sense of Oedipal, or Symbolic, deviance would be lost.
            What I am not saying is that in this world everything is good and permissible. What I am saying is that a world in which desire is desublimated, or unhinged, or no longer repressed, is a queer world that the question of queer forces us upon us, and that this question addresses the question around making sense of “the state withering away”. Without a centralized Phallus administering law, we wouldn’t have the capacity to lock away criminals for failing to fit; we would be forced to live with criminals. It’s a queer proposal, surely; but perhaps we can find room to grow. 

From the idea of queer non-identity, it is not impossible for social workers to see that the reformist, leftist, inclusive vision that encodes capitalist survival in the out of control experiment that is civilization, even if given rhetorical appeal by labels such as “radical” and gestures at liberatory Marxism, is liberatory only for a repressed Identity. What gender fluidity, or identity nihilism, permits us to see is that identity is in trouble in this post-structural age of anti-essentialist desire. 

Friday, July 21, 2017

Passive Nihilism

The sense that there is something wrong with the anarchism of active nihilism is proper to thinking about nihilism. Deleuze’s Nietzsche suggests that active nihilism ends in passive nihilism, specifically when there is nothing left for activists to do; that is, when there is nothing left to correct. This kingdom of heaven—oppression free—makes it so that “nihilism” and traditional anarchism can be easy bedfellows. The projected world of anarchism, like the idea of the end of history (utopia, the secular kingdom of God), requires the destructive engagement of active nihilism to carry out anti-oppressive (punitive) justice, prefigured as the goals of the properly oppressed—as defined by liberal reform. Passive nihilism, thus, is the plateau supposed to be present at the end in liberal free market capitalism, or, in the marxist telos, desires of economic redistribution. Passive nihilism ends active nihilism; the end of active nihilism, that which is responsible for it, is passive nihilism. Those are the definitions in Deleuze’s Nietzsche.

In anarchist thought, passive nihilism as a pejorative, takes Nietzsche’s meaning for it: “there is nothing left to do”, further beyond, to the slothful and despairing “do nothing”. Anything that contains even a bit of pessimism is labeled as such, implying not so much that we have won and there is nothing left to do—which capitalists would say of Fukyama’s End of History—but rather that one has given up on doing anything at all, for some reason forever found to be inadequate. But are there good reasons to suppose that there is Nothing we could do? Or will the enemy always win anyways? (On the point, one might reckon that bite sized winning is preferable to the ridiculously immature presumption that the Rev is immanent. And the reason for this position is, of course, that most people that live in civileges don't wish to destroy leviathan, thereby biting the hand that feeds their wealth. Full stop.)

The ontology of nihilism without traditional anarchism is caught up in the materialism of marxism; or rather, the anti-idealism of marxism. And yet the question we have is: Just how much of the projected future of a stateless society is theological, or ideal? To posit that there is no god, defines the idea that there could be a secular kingdom of god-as-us, waiting at the end of history, waiting finally for when there is nothing left to do. In this sense then, the idea of a secular kingdom of god is like the final cause that calls us away from the individual “I will” to the “we can, together” waiting at the end of history; our better selves that do not require God to help us overcome our failures. From this (project)ed ideal, we might very well build a morality, democratically; and out of it we might derive a sense of justice to come; but justice is the kind of thing that seems difficult to approach form a non-hierarchical position. Is such a matter of the wild-west where we let individuals sort matters themselves? What of bad people that go against the morality we democratically adopt? Jail? Prison? Exile? Secular kingdom of God, indeed!

Under these auspices, nihilism would be on a leash; it serves the phallic goals of unity and togetherness, come what may; and yet it is exactly the nihilist implication, desired for the purposes of the secular kingdom of god, that would still continue to nevertheless rupture every secular theology. Nihilism is rupture, sedition; it cannot be contained by utopia.

The idea that we are either passive in our nihilism or active in our nihilism is flatfooted and designed to create the need for utopias, whether of the older workerist variety, or the garden variety in primitivism. Crucially it is important to realize that we are islands of desire, and yet, too, that we are built for relationships. Thus, we might recall the word of ‘disassociation’, a gentle echo in anarchism, if not forgotten, which is already happening with respect to unity: People don't really go to events; only opportunists care about mimicking and parroting the scenesters; for they too are looking to be among the next round of paid leaders in activist NGO’s. Nihilism calls us to divisiveness and sedition; and yet our hearts call us to find others, somewhere. The left would have the nihilists force states to make leftist governments; the active nihilists would follow in lockstep; the passive nihilists seem unbothered, unhinged like monastic ascetics. The trick to overcoming final causes made for us (state-programs), is to take these notions and use them, or (better) cut them out, here and there, like pruning, so that we might be free to create new ones, for ourselves, to turn the purposes of what we do, altogether, into things that we do authentically for what we want. 

The nihilist questioning of whether it is possible to have a utopia is a correct response to the absurdity of the anarchists that oppose this question of nihilism. But just because we note that we cannot win, doesn't mean that we might as well lay down and die, as they say we are if we are not doing anything. We might act or we might not; we are human; we have the capacity to be active or passive. No one is fully active or passive after all; we are usually grades between. Some of us are more active, some of us are more passive. No one is so stuck, so irredeemable that they might not grow this way or that; but no one has to do anything, because being human just means that you have the freedom to design your own purposes, which may or may not go against the secular kingdom of god, which, practically, is always open to sedition because it is so built on the shoulders of nihilism. 

——

I propose that we follow the distinction advocated by Deleuze’s Nietzsche, and yet fold the difference back into the notion of passive nihilism if only because passive nihilism, or hopelessness, seems adequate with respect to the projections of our “friends” on the left. We will not win, we just don't have power, as Thrasymachus was correct to articulate in saying justice just is power, to an incredulous Socrates in Plato’s Republic. But there is no prima facie reason that this makes it so that we cannot just leave to find others to act with their purposes in mind, passive or actively, to whatever degree we like, as many of us have already decided. In so far as Nihilism is an ontological thesis, the idea that there is nothing that is going to make the world better for us, places the creation of that world onto us; and yet the leashed active nihilist, the nihilist leashed by the left, is instructed to follow a prefigurative program, a dictatorship of the precariate in determining this utopia. Nihilism of the active variety pushes us towards open revolt and sedition; and it remains leashed so long as it seeks revolution of an order that is fixed in someone’s ideology-for-us. The seditious act of nihilism shadows its own pessimism if its goals are human sized; this invisible community here, that squat there, this life there, that life there; this indifference towards activism here; that activism there. If folks become free to do as they please then it follows that we will not have a well oiled utopia but rather an incredible weirdness, sort of like international relations, but without the extension of my penis into your affair. If you want to do active-ism in your crew, the result may be sedition or unity. Or whatever. 

Anarchy under passive nihilism is just this whatever-being, flourishing and opening more sedition or unity or whatever. Nothing from heaven will make things better, under the proper nihilist banner; nothing from the left will make things better, under the properly seditious nihilist banner; only the birth of whatever is what I mean by anarchy under an unhinged nihilism without end that stands in opposition to anarchism. 

While it is difficult to see that the world is or could be ruled ultimately by justice/God, there can be no mistake that the world is largely ruled by punitive consequences and incarceration. Of course this isn’t necessarily so. Most crimes remain unpunished; most interpersonal conflict is absorbed by survivors. But that doesn't mean revenge isn't an option. The question is: where does retaliation stop? In “the weakness” of absorption, of course. We hit back, they hit back; we hit back, ad infinitum. They give up? Unlikely, but possibly… Unless you say: It stops with me; unless they say it stops with us…. To arrest this ongoing once and for all, we leave; and so we stop participating; and so we walk away; and so we become invisible. And so we become invisible to be free to act as we please, or whatever. And so we adopt passive nihilism, they say, as if we weren't deliberate in our indifference.

They say that 
  1. active nihilism is the shit 

and that

2. passive nihilism is apathy. 

We respond to 1] saying,

R-1: Active nihilism must become unhinged from the swinging door of revolution or reform because,

3. nihilism is always seditious 

and 

4. Pessimism about the capacity to win is proper and useful.

Moreover, we say
5. None of us are completely active or passive. 

We affirm 5 because it would seem obvious that passive and active modes are proper to a flourishing life; sometimes we are passive, other times we are active. The term passive nihilist as a pejorative can be spoken against civilians, of course; for they often simply live according to the final causes designed for them by capitalist flows; but in the sense of being unfree, the active nihilist or the activist, we would say, is passive in their meaning with respect to sedition and creating personal final causes. Wanting to oppose our passivity and activity to the ideology of the utopians, we affirm passive nihilism as our start, and out of our desire to birth whatever, we affirm that while those on the left might say we are passive, we know that we are just unhinged, ready to join in a fight if it suits us, or sit out if we think the project is ridiculous and lacking intelligence. 


From this it would seem that passive nihilism is far more complicated than some would suppose. With activity folded into a proper human life focussed on eudaemonia (happiness), the gesture of being whatever includes both forms. Not only one or the other, then, but an incredible weirdness without prediction caught up in a properly frustrating both/and. 

Sunday, April 30, 2017

What is Truth?

Truth is the kind of thing that doesn't make for anti-imperialist programs. For if something is true, it is so independent of whatever you might think about it. It requires a kind of humility towards the thought that one has the truth already, locked and sealed; it makes it so that one has to revise ones' reasons. Realist conceptions of truth therefore imply falsifiability--not by virtue of ones’ peers, necessarily--but by virtue of revelation itself. Thus, truth and justification are at odds, to some kind of degree, as we note in the definition of knowledge as justified true belief, which opposes mere justification.

The possibility that something might be be false and yet fully justified entails that some proposition might fail utterly in being justified, and yet still be true. Thus, truth is not the kind of thing that depends on justification, not even in the sense that it could be justified by some audience, pace Richard Rorty. This was Bertrand Russell’s realist point about truth. The gloss that makes better sense while avoiding Kant’s ding-an-sich is just that truth is not dependent on what we do make of it, which contains the reminder that it is not dependent on whatever we make of it; for truth might very well rupture our justifications, even to the point of being without justification. It might then be unverifiable. We might say truth is sovereign in the sense that it is free to come and go as it pleases. It is therefore unlike the Form that is contrary to the instances; it is instead like the form in Avicenna that is indifferent to being justified or unjustified. Therefore it is not that it cannot be justified, like the ding-an-sich.

William James had truth of a different order in mind when he described it as bearing fruit. In particular, what he had in mind was the notion of truth that attends the creation of the kingdom of God, which we might very well find to be useless (at least for the moment) for our own self-constitutive desires. If God makes something true, it bears fruit, as the wheat is discerned to be unlike darnel seed in the instantaneous harvest. “I am the way the truth and the life”, then, just means “I can be tasted to see that I do in fact bear fruit.” And this doesn't mean, necessarily anyway, that the justification will be objective; it might very well be subjective. It is a path through the thicket of failed efforts that seek to correspond to the good; but what is good is not the kind of thing that seems good to anyone: Christ was notorious at shielding the kingdom of heaven from anyone that would fail to hear it. “He who has ears, let him hear…” And yet, this cannot be exact because there is also the sense that one will see the kingdom, the face of God. So it would seem anyway, that the secret is seeing the truth, is seeing the kingdom of heaven, of hearing it, of understanding it, despite the doubt and sin that would draw us onto a different path. 

The order of the kingdom of heaven is impossible to figure in its entirety; and similarly, I would say that truth is impossible to discern by standards of the world. Therefore the secret order of truth is always of a different sort of thing than the order of objective discernment. It is important to understand, fully, that justification and truth are at odds like the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of the world (two orders of truth). Sometimes these worlds collide and the kingdom of heaven is built, as Christ was executed without cause--innocent, yet guilty (cf. Agamben, Pilate and Jesus); other times it is left to the secret, as Christ continuously ran from town to town and specified that spreading the good news (of this or that healing) was often times to be avoided (kept secret). Pilate wanted to know the truth but couldn't hear it, and so he handed over Christ to be crucified, after deliberating in a way that was visibly uncomfortable, after being allured beyond his own conception of justification...


It is because truth is not completely hidden that the truth can be seen, here and there, for a taste; but the fact that it is secret makes everything difficult to hear. Truth is easy as disquotation and (mere) justification under the kingdom of the world (the demonic); truth in the kingdom of God, which adequately bears fruit with respect to anti-worldly values, is of a different order that will always be counterintuitive for those without ears to hear, and with those that are human  and so, cannot have perfect ears. The kingdom will forever rupture our expectations because the order of truth resists being ours. The important intuition of realist conceptions of truth, finally, is that the final cause of truth is God himself; therefore, anything on the way, anything justified, might be spoiled and fail the order of the kingdom of heaven. The kingdom of truth (heaven) is beyond justifiability as the sky is beyond the sea.