For Reid


Since I have some free time and also since I’m kind of tired of all the yelling (both “ours” and “theirs”), I’d like to address some of Reid’s observations about “speculative realism” made here. I think my major problem is found in the use of so many familiar terms that seems to mean nothing when I put them together, I’m tempted to present my ideas in a very dumb form, so forgive my simple-mindedness here.

1) Non-assimilable remainder that resists conceptualization.

So there is something (matter, for example) that is outside of thought. Agreed. It is independent of thought and cannot be thought. In fact it actively resists conceptualization, by its very nature it cannot be conceptualized. It is necessarily non-conceptual. That is to say, it’s not a problem of us not trying hard enough to conceptualize it, it’s a problem of its very nature. Now let’s push all the obvious epistemological objections aside for a moment (“how can you know that something is necessarily unknowable?” and so on) and look at this carefully:

“…this absolutely independent and unintelligible Real is the condition of possibility for any thought in each case, although in different ways. This is despite the fact that it cannot itself be given in thought or exhausted in conceptualization.”

This non-conceptual remainder is not really a remainder but a condition of possibility for the conceptual. Again, let’s hold our epistemological horses. So we have the non-conceptual condition for the conceptual, that is, somehow that which is not conceptual and therefore cannot be thought conditions/grounds/produces that which is conceptual and can be thought. What conditions the possibility of this very transition from non-conceptual to conceptual? To put it in more traditional philosophical terms, how do things become thoughts? I’d like to hear some new speculative realist reactions to this old question.

2) Somehow thinking/knowing that which cannot be thought/known is possible.

Non-conceptual conditions conceptual and this very conceptual knows that it is conditioned by non-conceptual. Things not only make thoughts, but things also become thoughts, and are somehow conceptualized without bringing the non-conceptual under the umbrella of the conceptual. I’m not really sure how this works and sending me to read some books is not going to help me understand this issue. We all know the Kantian solution: things appear to us, we structure those appearance in a certain way, we conceptualize and we have a world as it appears to us; even if this world is exactly the same as the world in itself, it does not matter because as far as we can know, we’re stuck with this one. There’s something outside of thought, there are things that can be thought and things that cannot be thought (basic law of contradiction). Let’s again assume that we can (somehow) think/know that which cannot be thought/known – what then? Is this where the speculation comes in? Is speculation here a version of “intellectual intuition” of sorts? Do we think/know that which cannot be thought/know via speculation?

3) Faith in the non-conceptual.

I know that no one likes to talk about faith where one can talk about speculation or something less embarrassing, but what else can we mean when we say that we are convinced that we can have knowledge of that which cannot be known or that we can think the unthinkable. It’s one thing to suggest that thinking or knowing in general are all wrong ways of going about doing philosophy, that we need to look at some, for example, affective dimension, but if we are going to use the language of knowing the unknowable or conceptualizing the non-conceptualizable, then we must at least hint at how that’s possible and a simple affirmation that it is possible smacks of fideism:

“[There is] the conviction that such knowledge [of that which cannot be thought] does not thereby posit the non-conceptual as internal to the concept, and that, on the contrary, the non-conceptual is in some sense a non-reciprocal condition for conception.”

Later:

“Speculation is not belief, it is a use of reason that goes beyond the self-imposed limitations of Kantian epistemology by, in one way or another, claiming the noumenon is not simply an epistemological postulate or concept, but is a non-conceptual identity.”

Just a quick point here: Kantian epistemology is not claiming that we have “self-imposed limitations” – our limitations are real, we cannot lift them when we feel like it. If we go for a simple traditional distinction between “knowledge” and “faith” then what is not knowledge, what cannot be shown to be knowledge is then faith. Is speculation a process, a method of approaching the subject matter? How does it work? Is there a difference between thinking and speculating?

“You can designate it however you want, but it is marked as non-conceptual to indicate that it is not conceptual, that it cannot be reduced to an internal condition imposed upon thought by itself. You do not, however, need to be ‘outside thought’ to conceive of something outside thought, or more precisely, to conceive of the outside of thought as more than the ‘thought of what is outside of thought’. One can conceive of the outside of thought as an identity which thought attempts to identify, and which thereby conditions thought, without being given by thought in turn. This identity is not simply transcendent to conceptualization, but is immanent in it even while not given by way of it.”

Alright, I see and yet I still cannot rid myself of the strange theological overtones of such postulation of the existence of the non-conceptual. Does this non-conceptual show itself to us in some sort of revelatory action? Ok, we don’t posit this true exteriority (to distinguish from false exteriority of thought positing its own outside and defining itself against that outside), it somehow makes itself known to us and we therefore can think/know it as well, does that then reveal to us our dependency on the non-conceptual, our reliance on the material remainder to ground our thought? But wait, you say it’s not transcendent, but immanent – I’m lost at this point (honestly), because I see the words that I know but I cannot put them together. I think it would be more productive for my thinking to leave the issues of “realism” aside and to begin with “speculation” instead…

73 thoughts on “For Reid

  1. “Things not only make thoughts, but things also become thoughts, and are somehow conceptualized without bringing the non-conceptual under the umbrella of the conceptual.”

    Yes, in the sense that a conception of what something is cannot completely overlap with the fact that it is, which can resist and undermine the former and moreover serves as its condition.

    I agree with your points about Kant. As I said, Laruelle does not reject but radicalizes it by claiming that the extrinsic difference between thing and thought is not one that must be reconciled through synthesis that nonetheless respects their separation, but is artificially derived from their immanent identity. His point is that by remarking the foreclosure of identity within the space of conception, we can transform thought into a ‘transcendental prosthetic’ for the thing itself.

    In other words, Laruelle refuses that the gap between ‘us’ as the ones who think and that which we think is original and must be overcome through a synthetic structuring. Rather, thought can become aware of its immanent identity with its object by recognizing this identity as a non-reciprocal or unilateral condition for separation and synthesis.

    This of course only speaks to Laruelle, who strongly influences Brassier. The other SR philosophers have different approaches, but I’ve already said all I can about them without risking misrepresentation.

    • Sorry, that first paragraph should have continued:

      The concept is determined by this facticity which nonetheless always resists it, hence it is both a condition and a remainder that undermines what it conditions. Brassier’s claim is that, rather than simply positing this factical remainder as conceptual, as internal to the concept, we can subordinate conception to this identity which determines it without permitting reciprocal determination by the concept.

  2. Really great post Mikhail. I always love it when you put your formidable book-review skills down (as they have been known), and dig into a question.

    The paramount distinction, as least as far as I read it, and as it follows from your own Kantian reading, is the difference between “reasons” and “causes”. Reasons are the justifications of our knowledge, causes are not justifications or appeals to critia. There always is a kind of nexus, a place in which reasons ALSO operates as causes. For Kant these are the categories that are imagined to produce our mental objects, but also are part of the processes of justification. For someone like Davidson who denies the whole Scheme/Content distinction (that there is some kind of mental scheme which then organizes the content of our minds, ie thought), the nexus of reason and cause is at the level of beliefs. Our beliefs both cause our intentional actions, but also work towards their justification.

    I suspect Reid is going to answer without reference to Harman nor Levi Bryant (as these two positions don’t seem, in detail, to be taken very seriously by those that feel that Speculative Realims is substantive), but I would like to have the reason/cause nexus identified in either of their thoughts, for this is really a driving point in any comprehensive approach to thought/world, or thought/matter distinctions. What plays the part of the reason/cause nexus or conflation?

  3. Sorry, my post came AFTER Reid’s, which I had yet seen. Because Reid’s explanation of Speculative Realism seems to flow specifically from Laruelle, in order to understand the Speculative Realism coherence of a movement, and the said figures Harman and Levi Bryant, we have to assess just what their position is unto Laruelle. This is difficult at least in Levi’s case, as in recent discussions with Levi, Reid found Levi might not even have read or understood Laruelle, as within 10 minutes of the same thread Levi had asserted:

    Larval Subjects: No, I haven’t read a whole lot of Laurelle.

    Larval Subjects: I have read quite a bit of Laruelle and about Laruelle.

    I personally have not read Laruelle, but if the sense we are to make of Speculative Realism is predicated on connecting everyone to Laruelle, we may be in trouble in the case of the more “internet” versions of the imagined movement, Harman and Levi Bryant.

  4. The thing is, I’m mostly on board with Meillasoux, at least to an extent, but also on board with Kant. Basically, I think we need to distinguish, as Hegel does, between pre-critical metaphysics, and (critical) speculation. Some sort of reconciliation ought to be possible (but not without leaving both sides transformed).

    What I’m not down for is the OOP/O “spinoff” show, which plays *Maude* and *Archie’s Tavern* to SR’s *All in the Family* (or, if you prefer, *Joanie Loves Chachi* to *Happy Days*).

    • The weird thing is, Levi’s erratic philosophical and dispositional behavior actually makes Harman look like a solid philosophical figure in comparison. If Harman is “joanie love chachi” Levi’ is “Scott Baio is 45…and Single” (reality television at its height). And I do think that there is a point behind the comparison. There is a certain sense in which when philosophy is blogged it does undergo a kind of “reality tv” transformation. It becomes demystified a bit, messy, transitional…and, you get to see the emotional disposition of the “author” something of what drives the abstract conceptualizations, the “unphilosophical” part. Is this to the benefit or the worsening of the philosophical. For me seeing Levi “in action” makes his frantic combination of ideas much less interesting. Maybe philosophy is more like congress and laws and sausage. You don’t want to see it being put together. Harman’s blogged behavior also exposed some very unpleasant revelations. If there is an interesting future of blogged philosophy, and the freedoms of publishing allowed to grad students before they stop thinking as a professional, it must consider these messy aspects, the stuff of which it is made.

      As for those who wonder why all of us are interested in OOP and OOO it is because this is happening in OUR neighborhood (not in the big world stage), with people living on OUR block, and there is a kind of investment in what goes on in our neighborhood (no matter how much it is expanding). We don’t really care about Meillasoux in the same way because he is not in our neighborhood. Now Levi wants to get out of our ghetto. He wants to be a REAL thinker, part of the revolution of philosophy, an army he thinks he has joined. We are interested, not because Levi is the Derrida and he threatens all paradigms of philosophical thought and we have to stop him, but rather BECAUSE we think that what happens in our neighborhood matters, we ethically connected to it. It matter to us, but it also connects us to what what we think matters in the world. In this way when Levi imagines that he is on the high horse while pretending to be philosopher (playing the part), all the while ostricizing everyone in the neighborhood who even dares question him, calling on references to Nazis and KKK and other ugly terms, well, there’s a crazy person who lives down the street. We either have to let him live in his castle of self importance, or we have to engage what is local, ethically, with a view towards what we feel is important in the world.

      • Well put Kvond, and I enjoyed the riff on the “TV” theme. I suppose at the very least, Harman has actually offered theories that could be qualitatively described as unique his own, maybe even as Jemeinigkeit (it just happens to be the case that said theories are the least coherent aspects of Harman’s work). On the other hand, from what I can tell, Levi’s work amounts largely to a kind of pick-and-choose, Frankenstein patch-work of limbs and organs robbed from the graveyard of philosophers’s corpses. “Flat ontology” and “all difference makes a difference” are basically just haphazard modes of legitimating his a priori right to incorporate every idea under the sun that he fancies—even if they make no sense when placed together. This makes his theory, to some extent, critique-proof, since it includes the entire pedagogically-narrativized history of philosophy immanently in it already (no wonder it’s a realism, since ‘realism’ amounts to having the least amount of commitments possible—it’s like a cheap buffet at the Harmanian Circus Philosophicus booth in Coney Island, step right up, step right up!). Yet that’s its critical downfall: it can’t really ever say anything since it tries to say everything at once.

      • Yes, Frankenstein philosophy also allows him to defer explanation of the connection between his ideas when questioned (or even the means by which he has severed the living limb). What happens is that when pushed he simply retreats into professor mode, and posts eye-glazing paragraphs which are long-winded explications of positions borrowed from. This is designed to tire out his interlocutors and in I guess 2-year college fashion, display his own knowledge in the manner he likely does for his students. Levi in fact is really good at this. He likes to present positions. I couldn’t even wade through his latest Bhaskar lecture knowing how many of these I’m slogged through without ever getting to the determinative point. A sure sign of someone who doesn’t understand something is someone who can never use it briefly (not as some kind of term or priniciple evoked, but ) condensed out of all its lengthy articulation, to get to the determinative point, and to make it clear in a short paragraph. Levi’s excessive position statements describing other position are a kind of fake philosophizing. See how well I can talk about this stuff, I must really know what I am talking about when I say I am borrowing it for my own uses.

        Consider the lesson in Hume he just gave Mikhail. He’s like the guy at the park who can’t play basketball, but when asked if he can play performs fancy dribbling excersizes, spins a ball on his finger or shows you his shooting form with out the ball, saying “Swish!”. I’m surprised he didn’t tell Mikhail about “phase space” again.

        I remember asking him about his much touted “difference that makes a difference” Principle that he borrows from Bateson. It didn’t have much to do with Bateson, he just borrowed it from him, like a coin he found on the street. Its not only Frankenstein philosophy, its magpie philosophy.

        Of course I would be so hard on him if he wasn’t such an arrogant ass, so condesending to people who disagreed with him, and didn’t pretend that he was onto a great philosophical truth project. The guy is out of control in the way that he characterizes his hatred for his interlocutors. Hell, I borrow stuff all over the place. Spinoza and cybernetic theory, Spinoza and Information theory. Spinoza and absolute cold, blah, blah, blah. I conduct a radical critique of almost all of Western Continental philosophy in so far as it is driven by optic metaphors. But I am simply investigating. I’m telling you what I see, if you don’t like it big deal. If you aren’t inspired by it, so? I’m not inventing “fallacies” and “principles” and propounding endlessly upon the authority of my claims. I’m very much against the scholasticism of Continental schools, but I do not imagine that it is oppressing me, or that I am radically altering the future of philosophy.

        To take an example, when people have praised my work, and I have had world “experts” praise some of it to great degree, my usual assumption is that they probably haven’t really read it in depth. Not because it doesn’t deserve praise, but because praise is cheap. What I object to I guess, is the way that praise gets passed between the Objectologists, and the internet halo; sometimes its as if they are spitting up the scone and tea too rich to swallow.

      • Bryan,

        I should say that Harman does something of the same but to a much more elegant degree. If I could be really brief about it, his is a kind of imposture of Heideggerian objects and Husserlian ones. Never mind if EITHER of these object-kinds are appropriate or defendable ones (radical problems with either Husserl or Heidegger sink his ship rather quickly), the actual issue of whether these two kinds of objects should be combined, or if combined, how in the world they interact, is one huge aporia for him. Instead you have the great Husserlian body of work floating on one side, and Heidegger’s on the other (he’s trying to pull in Latour, but failing to), with him standing in the middle pointing this way or that.

        This is a far cry from Levi who is yanked in every direction, ever and always betraying his Lacanian wedlock for every passing fancy, and then atoning for it with serious contrition, and the ideal of psychoanalysis.

      • its magpie philosophy

        Yes, emphatically yes, I say Yes.

        Nonetheless, we should remember the medium we’re working in. I’m not much for note-taking myself (I tend to think and write on my feet, relying on marginalia, and a basic picture I’ve worked up in my head [somewhere in Cairo, Harman shudders; “Someone is writing inefficiently!”]), but some people swear by it. I don’t imagine that anything Levi posts online actually makes it into his serious work unchanged. (My big problem with blogging is that nothing I wrote in this medium could ever be integrated into my serious work, which left me totally exhausted with writing). If the blog is a scratchpad, then we’re totally over-reacting. Really, reading LS is like reading the marginalia in a library book. Sometimes it’s helpful, most times it’s something you try to erase — and sometimes you freak out that someone actually wrote that in RED INK ALLOVERTHEFRICKIN PAGE. NNNNNNNNNNNN. We don’t have to moon over it; it’s not mandatory reading, and it won’t be on the PE test next weak.

        We can, of course, question the jottings, but we shouldn’t imagine that we’re actually doing philosophy when we do so — and we shouldn’t worry about consistency any more than we would when we sit down for a beer with friends and they start by telling you that the red socks have a great short ball game, but then end up conceding that they botch every bunt. Just make fun of them for a few minutes, and then buy a round.

        But really, maybe it’s time to leave the poor guy alone. He likes what he does. He’s passionate about it. And life tends towards so many greys, burdens us with crow’s feet, and causes us to compromise and sacrifice things that are actually important. Then we finally give up. Maybe a bit of magpie colour helps him. We don’t all have to be of the same feather.

        Bromides aside, I agree with everything Kvond and bryan are saying. It’s simply not interesting to engage levi or harman anymore. We’ll see where the whole SR thing is in 10 years or so. Until then, I’m going to wait for developed, vetted, and published work before i say another word about Levi’s philosophy — or harman’s or whomever else.

      • Alexei,

        My personal point, if you agree with what I sum, is that the blog world of philosophy is OUR neighborhood, and yes, if some guy down the street thinks that he is the major of the town, and goes around spouting about how these people on that side of the tracks are Nazis, or Racists, yes, you can certainly ignore him.

        But if the same guy buys himself a mayor’s suit, buys air time that has convinced some of the fellows in the neighborhood that he is a mayor, and sometimes some forget that this town doesn’t have a mayor, then all the rantings and ravings have a different sort of effect.

        The difference of course is that you don’t live in this town much, you are away on vacation in your summer home. You don’t believe that anything can be done SERIOUSLY in blogged philosophy, and have not only shut down your blog, but deleted it (actually in Harman like fashion). Blogging intellectual ideas isn’t productive for you, so magpie philsophy is the most that one can get. This magpie has picked up these trinkets, and this one these. We all just rumage through the nests of each, looking for something shiny.

        Okay, there is a strong element of this in blogging philosophical ideas. But I think there is more. In fact I think that there is much more. Perhaps this is not a thought that is shared by most.

        Let’s put it this way. The chances of my finding a substantive (and not just a shiny) idea that might point towards the real ethical merits of philosophy and its work are much larger visiting an active minded blog (let’s say like Immanence), than if I picked up a typical philosophy journal.

        There’s more than this, for those that believe that ideas matter, and that the ideas we advocate have the potential to active better or worse practices in the world, there is kind local ethic, blogged responsiblity to engage what passes for adequate thinking, in particular when it is making claims for ideas that matter. It is strictly, or signficantly important, the nexus between REAL philosophy, and internet philosophy, to watch the quality and condition of claims to transcend the latter towards the former. When Levi attempts to gain what Bourdieu called “Symbolic Capital” by playing the philosopher through any number of rhetorical techniques, and so to parlay this symbolic capital of knowledge into REAL capital, what is at stake is the inflation of the entire “economy” of blogged thinking. The very Substance of blogged philosophy, its position in society and in study, is at risk.

        Take for instance this very seemingly benign Internet Blog mythology, which I’ve mentioned:

        http://anotherheideggerblog.blogspot.com/2009/11/too-cool-not-to-mention.html

        Now its not a big deal, a few college students or even one that put a page. Does it matter if Speculative Realism is depicted as being a blogged philosophy movement, an open-flowering of dialogue between its main members and the public at large? Does it matter if suddenly Harman who has deleted an entire blog that had comments, and refused them now, that Levi who considered removing comments only to exact severe banning restrictions? Does it matter that almost no one of Speculative Realism even blogs? For me all this is yes, it matters. It matters because black is not white. And railing against comments and stigmatizing commenters, is not trying as hard as one can to answer every question.

        In a sense, what is at stake are the most local, but also the most Ideal of ethical considerations. This is just my thought that what happens in blogging, if a professor decides to attack an undergrad by exposing them, or if private email communications are used destructively, things matter.

        I think a lot can be done in blogged philosophy. I consider the possibilities quite rich. But it requires investment in community. At least that is how I feel.

    • Alexei, I should add that when you decided to delete your blog I feel that this was to dis-service everyone. You, in your highly self-critical modes, may have felt it was filled with chicken-scratch, but I know for a fact that was not the case. When seaching the internet for a position that would enlighten the point I was trying to bring out in regards to Badiou, your posted review of him, some years old (I believe) was the only existent, google-able bridge-point I could find. Your thoughts, no matter how random or unoriginal you found them to be were wonderfully expressed, and in fact made my own point clearer to me. Yours, at the time, was not a blog I ever visited, but I thought it odd that this adversary (and we were adversaries in the Kant dispute) had such a reveal piece on Badiou, one that clarified my own position in regards to Spinoza and mathematics and Cantor. This was destroyed when you deleted your blog. That small resource, gone.

      I know that it doesn’t matter to you. But it matters to me. And in fact blogging philosophy isn’t really for “me” the author. I hope to get alot of out of it, but I really don’t know what my products are worth. And I suspect you didn’t know what your own blogged products were worth.

      The world is less for that blog having been deleted (as it is for Harman’s blog having been deleted).

      • I’m enitrely sympathetic to all of your claims concerning community, responsibility, and the dynamics of online discourse, Kvond. I’m an advocate of Symphilosophie. So I think we share the same hopes in this regard, even if I think the medium and subject matter structurally preclude some of the higher registers we would both hope to see.

        the most detrimental element of internet life to serious academic community is the 1000 words or less phenomenon: people tend to simply skim material online, and anything longer or more complicated than a newspaper article isn’t really read all the way through. It’s not specific to the internet either. Newspapers have similar problems. But this is not even a problem specific to online philosophy. I’ve seen people deliver brilliant — nuanced and subtle — analyses of something in public only to watch the audience lose every bit of interest. I’ve yawned my way through some amazing analyses of Kant’s Anthropology for instance. I also recently saw Malabou totally tank a presentation, and then self-destruct in a question period. It was embarrassingly awful. Meanwhile, Zizek says virtually nothing in 20 minutes, but gesticulates wildly, sweats, and touches his nose every other second, and he’s somehow a compelling individual. My point in all of this is that philosophy itself has serious structural limitations that don’t allow for the easy — or at least quick — give and take of online or face-to-face communication. I don’t think philosophy can be done well live and in person

        Honestly, though, I hope I’m wrong about all this. I would love to see a vibrant internet philosophical scene, capable of minimizing the difference between ivory ensconced guild members and genuinely passionate people. I would love to see a genuinely free environment of philosophical discussion, research and education. I would love to see Carl’s networking hypothesis become a reality.

        Moving on. I think your points about Levi and neighborhoods are simply wrong. I used to worry a great deal about Levi’s ‘influence’ on students and whomever else, since some of the stuff he was saying was in at least three cases factually wrong. I worried about the dissemination of bad arguments and falshoods. But all that is crap in the end. I was simultaneously giving Levi too much credit and his readers too little credit. If I can see it, so can others. And I think this is born out by the fact that very few people actually comment at LS (the private scholar, Bob Wallace who’s a Hegel expert and a damn fine german translator once stopped by to leave a comment, and realized instantaneously that Levi wasn’t on the right page; he left. Others have done the same), and almost none of the so-called OOP folks do either. In any event, I’m not sure who Levi has convinced. He may walk around with a mayor’s sash and a top-hat, he may buy all kinds of add time for his re-election, but everyone is quite capable of seeing him for what he is. Besides, every neighbourhood has some such character: my last one had a bum we called doc, because he only ever utterly loony toons quotes (from what I can tell).

        All things said, Levi is his own worst enemy and everyone who reads him can see he’s way off when he starts talking about the kkk and nazis. They don’t need us to point out that these lines of thought are simply crazy. If we want to build a community, we do so by cohering around common values, texts, exigencies, etc. Only then can the scapegoat logic — and that’s what’s going on here: two groups are using one another to consolodate their respective identities — really work. You want a community, I’ll help you build one, but that requires us to stop a few other things.

        Finally, I’m sorry to have disappointed you by deleting my blog. My feeling was and is that to simply let it malinger in virtual space was a cop-out, and to write a ‘farewell cruel blawgosphere’ final post simply prententious. The funny thing is this: every one who mentions the loss of that blog also says in the same breath something like ‘well i never visited it much.’ So really, it can’t be much of a loss, since like 4 people a day ever went there (and two of them were me checking whether the stat-counter was actually working). It’s only if you think of some set of counterfactual, or possible scenarios that some sense of loss comes about. But that’s a really speculative kind of claim: you did the world a disservice because in some possible world accessible from our own someone actually READS what you wrote….

        Fact is, Archives tend to be bunk, and I don’t believe in the permanence of the word. were we sitting down together over a beer having the most intense discussion about some philosophical point, there would be no record thereafter either, and no one besides you and me would care about it the day after. Blogging is similar in this respect. If I’ve helped you or anyone else, by writing something, then I’m happy to have done it. I did my meritorious service. Deleting my blog can be no dis-service, since it is no different than talking to you in a bar. What has been said reverberates for you an me (and whomever else read it), but has no significance to anyone else. And that’s how it should be.

  5. Reid, can you say a bit more about the “immanent identity” between thing and thought and the proposition that “we can transform thought into a ‘transcendental prosthetic’ for the thing itself”?

    Per your recommendation I read Ch. 5 of Brassier’s book, mostly finding myself at sea staring at an impenetrable wall. Occasionally I’d get a glimmer, but I had no confidence that I was getting it. Something like this maybe… The objects of thought aren’t the real, but rather the real is some kind of essence in which both thinking subject and the object of thought are linked. Thinkers don’t think objects, or even representations of objects; they think thoughts, which are themselves a kind of object. A thinker’s thought is a way for the real to manifest itself, so in a sense the real that’s “out there” thinks itself through thinking subjects. Thoughts about things are thus themselves real; thoughts bring about the real in the form of thought, which is, as you say, a “prosthetic” for the thing rather than a representation of it.

    Anywhere in the vicinity?

    • JD: “The objects of thought aren’t the real, but rather the real is some kind of essence in which both thinking subject and the object of thought are linked. Thinkers don’t think objects, or even representations of objects; they think thoughts, which are themselves a kind of object. A thinker’s thought is a way for the real to manifest itself, so in a sense the real that’s “out there” thinks itself through thinking subjects. Thoughts about things are thus themselves real; thoughts bring about the real in the form of thought, which is, as you say, a “prosthetic” for the thing rather than a representation of it.”

      Kvond: I find this to be completely compatable with (or resolvable to) Spinoza.

  6. That could well be, Kvond, assuming I’ve not distorted Laruelle and Brassier beyond recognition. Instead of the subject thinking about the real, leaving the remainder to speculation, the thought is itself a form or manifestation of the real that links the subject with the object. The real is the context in which subject, object, and thought all participate. Or something.

  7. Mikhail,

    By the way I posted a lengthy crticism of the Flatness of Latour by Fuller, which makes more clear to me the problems you were having with the demotion of human beings through the elevation of other objects. He does a very good job of drawing out the problems of increasing agency to everything, especially from the political perspective. I understand your point to a much larger degee. Perhaps you will enjoy his perspective:

    http://kvond.wordpress.com/2009/11/20/fascists-bindings-in-latour-the-blinding-glory-of-non-human-agency/

  8. Hm. Well, that could be. Or we could be brains in a vat hallucinating the world while the aliens run their experiments. Or we could be thoughts in the minds of gods, or of big cats with great imaginations. We could be representations of the Will, why not?

    Call me a vulgar empiricist, but my standard to get on board with a metaphysical speculation is that it has to be somehow demonstrably more true than the vatbrain hypothesis and its kindred, that is, not just another flight of fancy. So what would such a demonstration look like in this case?

    Trying to play nicer by not changing the game, “the real out there thinks itself through thinking subjects” is, for one, a return to the Hegel who Marx criticized so effectively; and for another, a return even farther back to Descartes, who also imagined he knew what was doing the thinking; and finally, a slight of hand. Thoughts are real enough, yes, including the mistaken and delusional ones. What does saying they mediate or represent or express or bring about the real add to their realness? Nothing, as far as I can see.

    • Carl,

      To extend the speculative metaphor, I’m not sure how much stock you should take in my Brassier-for-Dummies miniature. Have you tried to read Nihil Unbound? For people with the right background it might be lucidly presented, but I find myself in headscratch mode when confronted with even some of the shorter sentences, viz:

      “This is the merely negative positivity of ‘non-‘ as allowing the synthesis of the given and givenness to be given ‘without-givenness’.” (p. 161)

      It appears that Reid has opted out for now, but I for one would welcome some plain speaking that summarizes Brassier’s position on the real. I think he regards human perceptions, thoughts, beliefs and so on as a kind of illusion generated by the interactions of human biochemistry with the world. But then he also regards the real as nothing — not the ineffable remainder of thought, but foundational to thought and to life itself. So somehow this illusory human engagement of the outside nothingness is a way for the real to objectify itself as thought. Presumably even my erroneous thoughts, or differences between your thoughts and mine, wouldn’t matter. It’s the thought itself that’s a real object, not the content of the thought.

      But why do I keep going on like this, acting as if I understand? I could probably do it for hours, riffing on these premises that I might have completely misunderstood. Maybe I should start my own branch of SR? Wait, that’s dead now… Dangit.

  9. Not to ruin your fun, but I think Speculative Realism is no more!

    Harman, who barely survived football riots, informs us:

    “In short, the Speculative Realism group did the work it was designed to do, and the fragmentation I foresaw in the spring happened faster than expected.”

    Not only is Speculative Realism effectively OVER, Harman also predicted it long before – can this guy ever lose? Give me a freaking break!

  10. I don’t think Collapse was ever really into SR, I know they did one issue on it, but all the other issues were about other topics – I think Harman’s just trying to do that thing where he will say in the future “see, I predicted it long time ago” because Meillassoux doesn’t want anything to do with this, and Brassier is aggressively against the association (and Grant is kind of a quiet kid in the corner – did you know that he translated Lyotard’s Libidinal Economy in the 1990s when Harman was still in grad school), so it’s becoming harder and harder for Harman to claim any sort of “movement” – he’s now with OOO/OOP “split group” – awesome!

    • For the record, Harman’s “prediction” was not quite the one he is claiming now. He predicted:

      “What if I could wake up every morning and the big debate was between the eliminativist and non-eliminativist wings of the post-SR landscape?”

      Feb 09.

      It was one wherein his position had a kind of permament position of importance, as a “wing”, rather than the loss of his Network, and an imagined replacement alliance with a blog-philosopher Lacanian.

      • Well, in light of Graham Harman’s recent titular dissolution of “speculative realism” qua abyssal, traumatic Real, Levi has provided us with the proper ideologico-historical meta-narrative to heal the narcissistic wound of contingency’s necessity, replete with heroes and villains, sensuous vicars, non-human actors and networks, and an all-star cast of characters claiming fidelity to the Truth-Event of the philosophy blogosophere: http://larvalsubjects.wordpress.com/2009/11/20/a-brief-actor-network-theory-history-of-speculative-realism/#more-2761

        Of course, one can only revel in the irony undetected by our hapless Michelet of the Introduction à l’histoire universelle de réalisme spéculative when he nostalgically recounts that

        The academy was simply too powerful and set in its ways focuses on celebrity or figure worship, on commentary and hermeneutics as the primary form of theory, for such a thing to take place… If the internet made SR possible– perhaps even at the level of the Goldsmith’s event –then this is because it opened a venue or space outside of the hegemony of SPEP that allowed for the emergence of conferences, journals, articles, and books not driven by that celebrity worship industry.

        And yet…he writes several paragraphs prior:

        At the same time Nick was churning out all sorts of reviews and posts on the major figures in the SR movement. In particular, there were a number of stellar posts on Harman and Brassier early on. Then along came Naughtthought, Austin of Complete Lies, and Reid of Planomenology. Ben and Austin were busily pushing the ontology of Iain Hamilton Grant, while Reid intensified discussions of Laruelle and, to a lesser degree, Brassier.

        Hmm. Well, history was never without its contradictions, as Hegel knew very well. Perhaps one should use this as an opportunity, whether tragedy or farce (though let’s be serious—it’s farce), to end the dialectic with a little one-liner that Hegel, despite his genius, always forgot: Zing!

  11. Poor kid Michael Austin must be gutted to find out in this way that his favorite band really has broken up! It is a little like the teenager who runs the Take That fan club writing to Smash Hits saying “I cannot believe that people have the balls to suggest that Take That has broken up … Such people know nothing! …. I mean, are we about to hear a press release?!” only to have it published alongside a statement from Gary Barlow saying that he is no longer even in touch with the other members of the band and that they are all working on solo projects now. One can only feel for the kid, thoiugh next time it might be wise for him to wait and see if the rumors about the band being formed are well founded before he sets up a fan club and Wikipedia page dedicated to them.

  12. Alexei: “Finally, I’m sorry to have disappointed you by deleting my blog. My feeling was and is that to simply let it malinger in virtual space was a cop-out, and to write a ‘farewell cruel blawgosphere’ final post simply prententious. The funny thing is this: every one who mentions the loss of that blog also says in the same breath something like ‘well i never visited it much.’ So really, it can’t be much of a loss, since like 4 people a day ever went there (and two of them were me checking whether the stat-counter was actually working). It’s only if you think of some set of counterfactual, or possible scenarios that some sense of loss comes about. But that’s a really speculative kind of claim: you did the world a disservice because in some possible world accessible from our own someone actually READS what you wrote….

    Fact is, Archives tend to be bunk, and I don’t believe in the permanence of the word. were we sitting down together over a beer having the most intense discussion about some philosophical point, there would be no record thereafter either, and no one besides you and me would care about it the day after. Blogging is similar in this respect. If I’ve helped you or anyone else, by writing something, then I’m happy to have done it. I did my meritorious service. Deleting my blog can be no dis-service, since it is no different than talking to you in a bar. What has been said reverberates for you an me (and whomever else read it), but has no significance to anyone else. And that’s how it should be.”

    Kvond: This is straight up bullshit, and risks sounding like you deleted your blog because not enough people were paying attention to you. I have no idea what it means to “believe” in the permamence of the word”, but complaining to me that I never read your blog when I tell you that the one time I did, made a difference to me is VERY self-oriented (perhaps a positive value for you).

    Blogging is not having a beer in bar. It is writing. Writing possess a very different character and form than blabbing on about something, or even lecturing about it. You wax poetic about at least the POTENTIAL for philosophical blogging, but then it becomes gabbing over drinks. You whine (is that the word?) that people never read more that 1,000 words (and yes, philosophy can be done in under a thousand words), but then the medium is a few sentences or paragraphs burped up between beer gulps, for you. I DO realize why you STOPPED blogging, but aside from self-pity or self-deprication, what in the world does it mean for your blog posts to “malinger” in virtual space? What is it that they should be doing. When Kafka told Bloch to burn all his stories, this is exactly this kind of bullshit.

    As for malingering, to take an example, when I wrote my criticism of Harman’s Orientalism many months ago, perhaps 10 read it, only one of whom actually read the whole thing, Harman. No one got it, it died a malinger’s death. Who cares. I wrote it, I discovered something about myself and about my relationship to Harman’s thiniking and Heidegger’s as well. I was not mumbling on my sixth scotch. It was dead. But now, again, it became relevant. When I raised the question of Harman’s Orientialism in conversation and it was said that this was some sort of “Random” charge, well I had at least 8,000 non-random words that few had paid attention to suddenly to show that this wasn’t the case. It was in my history.

    But it is more than this. No one could pay attention to it for 20 years, and some researcher could dig it up for what its worth, take the kernel of the ideas and make something of it, if they wish.

    Then again, I could just delete it, you know, because it malingers.

    • I deleted the stupid blog because it had become an albatross around my neck. It was taking me away from important things, and embroiling me in counterproductive arguments. It was, in short, a bad way for me to spend my time, and ultimately to engage with others. It made my life worse, not better, and began affecting my relationships with people I see on a daily basis. And then there’s the self-deprication and self-pity that all vodka producing national stereotypes must engage in in order to maintain there green-cards in foreign lands. Regardless, I don’t buy your argument that taking the blog down is a disservice to anyone, because I don’t buy into the idea that a blog that has consistently attracted zero people can have the kind of renaissance you mention. And in any event, I never set the thing up to become a player in the blogosphere. I thought, naively, that I might meet like minded people to engage in a form of workshopping with.

      As I’ve already said, I’m happy that something I wrote turned out to be helpful. And we can disagree about the relationships among writing, blogging, and conversation (for better or for worse, my academic work is completely different in tone and style from my ‘bloggy’ work; that may not be the case for you, but I would never even dream of submitting what I write online — usually after a single pass — to an academic journal, my supervisor, or a conference committee. I won’t be submitting the piece Jon has mentioned to any journal any time soon because I don’t want my online self to converge with my offline self. I don’t want the objectologists to be able to adversely affect the rest of my bloody life.

      I was originally drawn to this medium by the hope that it would allow my rather stuffy academic style breath a bit, and that perhaps I could create a better style of expression for myself. What I ended up with is essentially how I talk in person… plus the new anxieties of dealing with a bunch of obsessive, vindictive, and just generally unpleasant people.

      And those posts would have malingered in the sense that they were originally offered in the hopes of conversation pieces, which would be effectively impossible if I were no longer maintaining the blog. I retract the word if you don’t like. I’ll even retract my claims about ‘not believing in the permanence of the word.’ In fact, I’ll retract my claim that blogging is like having a conversation in a bar. Is there anything else you would like me to retract, while I’m at it?

  13. Did you see the history of SR quickly produced by Bryant (overnight) in response to your unfounded claims that “Speculative Realism” band broke up? Someone save the text of that post for posterity, I have a feeling in a good Stalinist fashion, it will be rewritten many times in the future with faces appearing and disappearing from the pictures.

    http://larvalsubjects.wordpress.com/2009/11/20/a-brief-actor-network-theory-history-of-speculative-realism/

    My favorite part, you ask?

    “Object-oriented ontology, and to a lesser degree the other orientations of Speculative Realism, have been described as the first internet driven philosophy.”

    Umm. YOU called it that or that kid from Illinois who put up some links together as part of the class project – really? This way I can start my autobiography in the following way: “Jackson S. have been described as the best lover to ever exist.” When will the bullshit stop? I can’t take it anymore!

  14. Again with your zeros:

    Alexei: “Regardless, I don’t buy your argument that taking the blog down is a disservice to anyone, because I don’t buy into the idea that a blog that has consistently attracted zero people can have the kind of renaissance you mention.”

    Kvond: I already told you, it did not “attract” zero people. And zero is not one. Someone with your brilliant acumen should be able to understand that. I’ll repeat it. 0 does not equal 1.

    As for retracting things, retract nothing. As for deleting things that other people esteem, this is bullshit and self-hatred, nothing but fucked self-indulgence. Maybe it would be better to write and philosophize without all the (disappointed) fantasies of the great number of people that are going to read your work. Perhaps write for the ONE person, the one person who is going to be affected in a positive way, a person you have likely not met yet, or might never meet.

    As far as having other people read your blog, the method is easy. This is 101. You GO to other people’s blogs, you find their opinions and arguments that are interesting. You then quote their own postings on your own blog, you criticize or praise them (after having read them with the kind of reading you wish you would recieve), and you link your post to them. Two things happen when you do this. You insure that ONE other person will read that post (the blogging person you have cited, your link appears in their stats), and you have created a small network wherein you take a POSITION between yourself, another writer, and a potential third reader. You do this over and over again, and you have a community of readers and mutual discussionists. It is the cure for the lonely pontificator of “real” philosophy. You take an INTEREST in other people’s ideas, and they take an INTEREST in you. Otherwise you sit in the corner of the bar, sipping your vodka, LISTENING to what everyone else is saying, wondering why no one else is interested in what you are THINKING. Hell, the reason why I didn’t read your blog, I didn’t even fucking know you had one, and by the time I noticed it, you weren’t posting there often.

    Perhaps you DID post on other person’s postings, but you certainly didn’t post on any of mine. I strongly suspect by your tendency to lick your own wounds compulsively that you seldom quoted and linked other blogs, probably because you were NOT very interested in what others were say, certainly not enough to build a community of commentary which makes bloggind different than sitting around the old watering hole.

    • C’mmon guys – we are hecklers of speculative realism, not each other – make up right now, as a master of this beer hall I order you to shake hands!

      Seriously, I think you’re both making good points about blogging, let’s just agree that everyone’s right or I will punish you two by writing you out of my “History of Perverse Egalitarianism” book I’m working on.

      • Hilarious Mikhail. I actually have strong feelings about this, as you can tell. They are not strong feelings about Alexei, but about our implied responsibility towards each other. And as a Kantian you perhaps have a kind of argumentative glimpse of this.

        As Alexei realizes, I can be particularly harsh on him because my whole argument is that HIS writing matters, and his whole argument is that his writing doesn’t. Alexei has the problem of simply not believing in himself and his writing sometimes. People beg to read his imperfect papers, beg, and he wallows in self-hate, and how nothing is the way he wants it to be.

        AS for being hecklers, it is by bringing our principles to bear upon each other that we gain legitimacy in our complaints against others.

    • You’re mistaking my propensity for exaggeration for a something significant, Kvond. The stats don’t matter, the readership doesn’t matter, the position-taking ultimately doesn’t matter either, because we all revise out positions and commitments. For my part, before I allow an intuition to be pumped up to a full blown commitment, I like to know what I’m talking about. If I don’t take an explicit position, it’s because I don’t know what stance I want to take yet.

      as for this:

      As for deleting things that other people esteem, this is bullshit and self-hatred, nothing but fucked self-indulgence. Maybe it would be better to write and philosophize without all the (disappointed) fantasies of the great number of people that are going to read your work. Perhaps write for the ONE person, the one person who is going to be affected in a positive way, a person you have likely not met yet, or might never meet.

      We disagree about the nature of writing in general. I certainly don’t write for the grand audience, and again it was never about stats. I’ve explained already why I began blogging, and why i quit. Again, I appreciate very much the compliment you’ve given me by saying that something i wrote was actually worthwhile. I appreciate your disappointment with seeing it disappear. But frankly you’re in no position to lecture me about my responsibilities to the blogosphere and future geenrations. We disagree on the effects my decision has had. Or, more accurately, since your whole argument is based upon a possible world in which my writing could have had a further effect, we disagree about the possibilities that might have been actualized were my blog still extant. I refuse to deal in this kind of counterfactual speculation because there is simply not enough data to support any argument one way or another. You’re writing from conviction — deeply held — rather than reason.

      And it’s true that, outside of a handful of blogs, I didn’t get around much, and didn’t express much interest in other people’s posts. Guilty as charged. Call in the hangman.

  15. Alexei: “We disagree about the nature of writing in general. I certainly don’t write for the grand audience, and again it was never about stats.”

    Kvond: Then I have no idea why you go on and on about how few people read your blog. It wouldn’t even pass my mind how many people did or did not read my blog, as motivation of what I should do with my writing. Its just a new-tech old-saw of the writer who complains that no-one reads his/her writing, in the usual self-indulgent bull.

    Alexei: I’ve explained already why I began blogging, and why i quit.

    Kvond: And none of that explains why you DELETED your blog.

    Alexei: Again, I appreciate very much the compliment you’ve given me by saying that something i wrote was actually worthwhile. I appreciate your disappointment with seeing it disappear.

    Kvond: Well deserved.

    Alexei: But frankly you’re in no position to lecture me about my responsibilities to the blogosphere and future geenrations.

    Kvond: Actually I’m in perfect position. This is the thing about blogging, everyone is in position.

    Alexei: We disagree on the effects my decision has had. Or, more accurately, since your whole argument is based upon a possible world in which my writing could have had a further effect, we disagree about the possibilities that might have been actualized were my blog still extant. I refuse to deal in this kind of counterfactual speculation because there is simply not enough data to support any argument one way or another. You’re writing from conviction — deeply held — rather than reason.

    Kvond: For an adept philosopher this is not only wrong, its crap. We are not talking about “counterfactuals” here (who am I talking to Levi who tries to retreat into rehearsed arguments?). As I have already told you, your article made a difference to ME. And, your deletion of it has had a determinative affect upon ME, I can no longer read it, I can no longer return to it. Now, you don’t seem to care about me, which is fine, but this is not some kind of bull about conviction vs. reason.

    But I will say another thing here about conviction. When blogging and commenting there is a kind of public trust in which the material is placed in a semi-permanent collective sphere, and that though the blogger owns or controls the site, he or she does not control or own the mutuality that the site participates in. And part of this mutuality is the belief that investments in site “x” will persist in some sense or form. For instance when Harman deleted his blog, all of the positive comments, all the interesting dialogue parts, are the aspects of clarity that came of its investment, and from its place in a community was suddenly, well, betrayed. Not that it matters to him, but now I have countless articles I wrote in response, quoting and citing him in part have dead links. The context of an evolving conversation has been amputated. In a certain way, it was CONVICTION that generated them, and it is in the context of conviction, or possibly trust, that they should have been perpetuated. When he deleted them I lost a lot of respect for his character as a person, when I realized that there is a true selfishness, or perhaps self-absorbtion to his writing. It was and is wrong.

    It is in the context of this conviction that your deletion also shows itself to be, well, a kind of faithlessness. Perhaps this is a common faithlessness, something everyone plays with. And I find this faith to be integral and unseperable from “reason”.

    Alexei: And it’s true that, outside of a handful of blogs, I didn’t get around much, and didn’t express much interest in other people’s posts. Guilty as charged. Call in the hangman.

    Kvond: Its not about hangmen, ts about stop your whining that no one paid attention to your blog, about the WRITING at your blog, when you didn’t give a damn about anyone elses. When people wonder why no one pays attention to ME, its almost always because they don’t pay attention to others.

    Now you certainly are part of a community, and a strong part of it, but the place you have in it is likely mirrored by the KINDS of investments you yourself made. And if your own blogged writing isn’t part of this place, this too also mirrors that you detached this process from the writing of others.

    But this is not really about you, though your example makes a fine question. Its about blogging, about what it is and what it COULD be (not drinking beers). There are tons of people out there who have blogs but never think to engage others, quote others, link others, and so are pretty isolated. Time and time again I visit interesting sites with interesting points being made and I forget to link them, to quote them, to engage them in a PUBLIC way, a way that brings the technology alive. And I do this because my head is upon my own points, my own reasons for blogging. This is really kind of buried selfishness. It doesn’t take much. Take what is wonderful about Mikhail’s PE here, it is constantly pushing the read out beyond the PE borders. That is why we read it. Not because Mikhail is a genius (some of which he may reveal when he occasionally grabs hold of philosophy). Or take Levi’s engagement with the blogosphere. Unforunately is tarnished with a kind of sychophantic ass-kissing designed to make political alliances…we know the story “So and so in another characteristically brilliant post…” The point is, there is a social dimension to blogging, and really one has to say, writing. Even the writing of reason.

    Hopefully, people will start “triangulating” on ideas, and putting trust in the conviction that already governs the very impulse to blog in the first place. That is what I believe is included in, at base of, Carl’s hope for blogging.

    • The whole stats exaggeration plays out like this Kvond: If no one reads X, then X has no effect, since writing can only have an effect on or through people who read it (or write it, but that’s effect has already been produced, etc). When something has no effect, one has no moral responsibility to maintain or delete x, since it doesn’t produce differences and by common wisdom, simply isn’t. Exaggeration for effect: No one was reading my blog, etc. etc. Making the appropriate change, your speculative argument concerning my responsibility to maintain a dead blog is premised on the idea that people might/could read it. But zero readership is as likely a possible world as the one in which google lands some random dude on my Badiou-piece. That’s the gist of the argument I’ve been essaying here in the comments. You’re claiming that I have some responsibility to a possible future. You’re right. But my blog does not contribute to a possible future (especially now that its gone), for whatever reason. So my responsibility does not include preserving what was written there. The two are separable.

      Now the effect a piece of writing had on you is absolutely no different than something I SAY to you. Unless you record conversations there’s no conceptual difference between me writing something online and deleting it and me saying something to you out loud. Since I have no responsibility to preserve conversations, I have no responsibility to preserve online conversations/writing. I don’t preserve my class lectures either, and I have no responsibility to do so. Why would the stuff I write and put online be distinct from the lectures I give in person and the conversations I have with others?

      I see that you want writing to be distinct from other modes of communication. That’s fine. I simply don’t agree. And since so much of your argument depends upon this difference, we’re really at an impasse. I see no reason why I would treat blogging differently than conversation — especially since the kind of networking and intellectual work being done through them has, as its model, the Salons of the 18th and 19 C and the philosophy Cafes of the 20th. It’s about conversation first and foremost; the written aspect is a fluke of the medium.

      And I have explained why I deleted my blog. At least twice to you, now. I see no reason to reiterate. To quote a fine interweb meme: Do Not Want…..

      So Look: it has nothing to do with attention, or feelings like beating myself up. If you want that stupid paper, email me and ask for it. I already sent it to asher. I’ll send it to others too. It simply will not appear online (or in a venue where the objectologists can connect to my online persona) for the reaons I’ve already stated.

  16. Alexei: “Exaggeration for effect: No one was reading my blog, etc. etc. Making the appropriate change, your speculative argument concerning my responsibility to maintain a dead blog is premised on the idea that people might/could read it. But zero readership is as likely a possible world as the one in which google lands some random dude on my Badiou-piece. That’s the gist of the argument I’ve been essaying here in the comments. You’re claiming that I have some responsibility to a possible future.”

    Kvond: The question is, What is the effect of the exaggeration, is it the blurring of the difference between zero and one? The fact is that indeed zero is false, and the possible world where google sends no-one to your Badiou piece is actually an IMPOSSIBLE world, because Google sent ME to your blog piece. It is not only unlikely that no-one will be sent to your blog, it is false. As far as a POSSIBLE future, we are not only dealing with some kind of moribund future in which No-Human being ever reads your Badiou piece again (a fantasy of yours that you have an strong emotional stake in: “my work is worthless to everyone”), there is also the respect for the possible future between you and I. That is, you ALREADY knew that I valued your piece. I praised it a great deal, and told you that it was quite helpful. It was part of a community of communications between us, and when you then effaced the future of THAT relationship, the continuity of what they piece was between you and I (all in the name of an fantasy future in which you work was necessarily meaningless – counterfactual to the history your work had already played), you discredited what had gone on before between us (and who knows who else who had had positive experiences of your written material, all the the name of your own self-hatred, self-absorbtion. In otherwords the facts of our relationship through your writing, and the value I placed upon it, MEANT NOTHING TO YOU, are nullified by your own projected fantasy of authorial nihilism.

    Alexei: “Now the effect a piece of writing had on you is absolutely no different than something I SAY to you. Unless you record conversations there’s no conceptual difference between me writing something online and deleting it and me saying something to you out loud. Since I have no responsibility to preserve conversations, I have no responsibility to preserve online conversations/writing.”

    Kvond: This is actuallly untrue. It is not NO different. What you wrote, as opposed to what you may have said (but did not say), is something that I engaged in at a very particular level. I reread passages, I tested sentences, I became engaged with the text in a very braided way. This was a function of the very powers of what writing is, and how it relates to conceptual argument. It is for this very reason, for instance, that I am asking for written copies of the audio lectures I recently listened to from the Spinoza and Bodies conference. There is a different kind of engagment that occurs in written, one not available in spoken word. And that difference creates a difference in relationship and stake. I had already revealed to you the personal worth of your written material, a value you consider to be of no importance to you. On-line writing participates in this difference is stake, this difference in possibility. By destroying what was declared valuable to me, under the pretext that it wasn’t valuable to anyone, is, in effect, nullifying my existence as a person. And I am not saying that I am all that important, but the part that I play in the commitments between writing is signifying, I would say.

    There are also ways in which we are also obligated to “preserve” conversations. That is to say, one is considered in ethical violation if indeed we DENY what we have said when in discussion, purposively, if we ignore, or erase the social trace and possibility that occurs out of the very form of our conversing. And if indeed there existed a recording of our conversation which you then destroyed under the pretext of denying our conversation, this is a violation of social trust. Now the bonds that occurred between us in my appreciation of your piece (which I expressed to you, and upon which you became rathe dourer, if I recall), simply cannot be recaptured because I simply cannot recall, with any valuable detail or structure, what you had said about Badiou and mathematics. What you have cut off is the, let us say, generative possibilities of our history, as it incorporated your writing.

    And indeed if you had posted video or audio of your lectures, and I (or some othe sop) expressed to you how meaningful or rich these audio/video records were, you would indeed have every “right” to take them down, but if you did so you would be doing so in the act of nullifying the value they have for me, so expressed. You would have the “right” but not the ethical merit, to do so.

    Alexei:” I see no reason why I would treat blogging differently than conversation — especially since the kind of networking and intellectual work being done through them has, as its model, the Salons of the 18th and 19 C and the philosophy Cafes of the 20th. It’s about conversation first and foremost; the written aspect is a fluke of the medium.”

    Kvond: I didn’t realize that the blogosphere had a particular model in mind when it developed. I guess I wasn’t in on the planning stages. Who was in charge of that? Bill Gates? I consider the intellectual work being done through blogosphere to be much closer for instance to the circulation of letters that often contextualized major philosophical works, let’s say, in the 17th century. For instance when Descartes circulated copies of his Mediations (I believe) among friends to see if it passed the theological test of heresy, or when he openly soliciated from the public ANYONE to write to him on his metaphysics so as to answer somewhere he had been unclear or appeared unsound, the letters of which I believe came to be published by him, and answered. Yes, there is a bit of salon sitting, but as well, it is a written medium, and as such carries with it a conceptual weight, whether it likes it or not.

    Alexei: “And I have explained why I deleted my blog. At least twice to you, now. I see no reason to reiterate. To quote a fine interweb meme: Do Not Want…..

    So Look: it has nothing to do with attention, or feelings like beating myself up. If you want that stupid paper, email me and ask for it. I already sent it to asher. I’ll send it to others too. It simply will not appear online (or in a venue where the objectologists can connect to my online persona) for the reaons I’ve already stated.”

    Kvond: Your reasons for deleting it were, as far as I can tell…

    1). You didn’t want it to “malinger” (since retracted, but perhaps onlly sarcastically). A nonsense worry.

    2). No one was reading or getting any value of your blog anyways. False.

    3). It was taking too much of your time and energy. Perhaps the one compelling reason. Perhaps there was too much temptation if it even existed, and you could not simply ignore it. It had to be erased.

    Personally, because I did not get a chance to read much of your blog the only thing I am interested in is your criticism of Badiou and mathematics. kvdi@earthlink.net

    • Come on, Mikhail. We’re not hecklers, get it straight. We’re a motley crew of trolls, vampires, creatures from the black lagoon, zombies, grey minotaurs, etc. Do hecklers have a plan 9 from outer space? I don’t think so!

    • Ok, this discussion has taken a strange turn towards me, which I would like to extract myself from (minimally, because I don’t like the assertions of self-hatred, etc. I may be skittish, and pessimistic, and even a tad Eastern European in my professional outlook, but I’m confident I don’t hate myself). Regardless, I sincerely apologize for deleting the blog, and for any slight or invalidation my actions have expressed. For what it’s worth, I think you’re placing too much emphasis on the physical aspect of blogging, the traces it leaves, but we can certainly disagree in productive ways about that. For my part, I don’t think anything has been lost (save for a very specific ordering of words), and nothing has been invalidated. Again, we can disagree.

      As for the three reasons you’ve listed, I would simply note that (1) and (3) coincide with on another, and (2) was supposed to be a counter-argument rather than a reason. But anyway it doesn’t matter.

      Finally: you’re right to point out that my use of ‘model’ is not felicitous. My point was that the way in which blogging seems to work (so far as I understand it) has much more to do with the cafe culture and salons of Europe than it does with the 17th Century traditions of correspondence — primarily because correspondence is by definition a private affair (and why everybody’s hackles go up when Harman publishes email exchanges), whereas the radically democratic and egalitarian potentials of blogging seem to parallel what was so revolutionary about the french Salons (minimally that woman could participate in intellectual exchanges in public as the equals of men, etc.). But this is neither here norr there. We’re all allowed to have our own perspectives on what blogging is and could be. It might make for an interesting post (hint hint Mikhail…).

      • Sorry, I just got a rather strange book that sent me all the way into my childhood – Les Enfants du Capitaine Grant – I used to love Jules Vernes (and Walter Scott) which in my Soviet imagination was such an alternative universe. I will be back in a couple of weeks.

      • Thanks Alexei for considering my points, however forcefully I expressed them. The point in matter I suppose is that I think were are great, even when we disagree, and we all wish we had more of you.

  17. kvond you say: alexei is as so good but nobody reads him and always say how good the other posters here are. just like harman you are propagandist like you say but for a lonely crew of people who do not have any effect on anything. its clear you have too much timeand spend it online all day making enemies with everyone except people who do nothing. you need to go back to class as your going slowly crazy online all day and annoying all the other people.

    erik
    eiksolem@gmail.com

    • That is awesome! Kvond, Erik’s really got our number. I’m pretty useless, and you’re definitely a propandist!

      Cheers, Erik, you made my day.

      • I think eric is the guy who threw up the Speculative Realism link page which imagined that the movement was driven by the blogging of its central members, members marked by their open-mindedness to the questions posed to them from all quarters.

        It was just the silliness of that page (and my cricism of it over at AHB) which got Levi to write the very nice history of how important he had been the the Speculative Realism movement.

      • Nah, that was an Eric, this is an Erik. Different people. My sense is that Erik is actually one of those dreaded pseudonymous Commenters! Let the inquisition begin. Break out the comfy chair!

        Welcome to Perverse Egalitarianism, Erik. I think your brand of snark will fit in just perfectly here.

      • Well, he wants me to go “back to class” and Levi once told me that it was “classy of me” to repost a post he had deleted.

        p.s. “Eric” sorry to impune you as “Erik”. My propogandist mistake.

      • Only if it turns out that Erik is someone really important, like Santa Claus, or someone who’s supposed to be against pseudonymous blogging.

      • 🙂.

        Yes.

        First one has to be indoctrinated into the Speculative belief that indeed “Santa Claus” or “Larval Subjects” is a real object, whose essence is ever in retreat.

        Second, one has to pass beyond this exoteric belief and enter into the esocteric dotrine that in order to be a legitimate Speculative philosopher, you must adopt your “real” name and take on a “real project”.

        Lastly, you have to transcend the entire matrix of real and unreal, and realize that although Speculative Realism never existed in the first place, it has already served your purpose of creating it. (And if you were a mere pawn in this unfolding “‘network”, consider yourself lucky.)

        After embracing the Machiavellian reality of this creation, pinch self to see if you are dreaming.

      • Bryank,

        I think you mean “brushed by the allure of the Ministry of Mediating Substances”…Approval always comes by way of a brushing.

      • Gotta say, I just finished reading a large chunk of *Tool-Being*, and after making my way through the commentary on Zizek, I’m… horrified.

      • Honestly, I kinda liked Tool Being as a grasping point for Heidegger. But if you are horrified by the book you are horrified by the cornerstone of Harman’s philosophy. I look forward to your blogged response Bryank, if you’re inspired enough to post.

      • Dude… I wouldn’t even know where to begin… it’s *astounding*. His critique of Zizek basically amounts to saying that Zizek’s fear of realism plagues his entire corpus and so Z is therefore symptomatically anthropocentric (this conclusion, after a good 20 pages of HUH?), while for Harman “fantasy” and “desire,” as ontological categories, should be transposed to rocks and almonds and rivers just as much as they should be to humans… He then even refers to Fichte’s Anstoß “Abstoss.” I am literally baffled.

      • Keep reading, I think you’ll get it if you get object-oriented enough. It’s breaking away from the “ivory tower” we are told.

    • Hmmm. Back to class huh? Is this the dear “eric” who called me “elitist” for questioning whether he had ever read Harman’s blog seriously when he characterized it as “answering all comments as best he could” (or something like that?). What class would you like me to go back to?

      I don’t know how good all the posters are here. Alexei is a very cool philsophical mind, and he undervalues his work. We’ve had acute philosophical disagreements in the past, but that does not threaten our ability to communicate (as cannot be said to be the case with other blogging Objectologists).

      As for being a propagandist, I was speaking to Alexei himself, not describing the whole host of PE commentators. I have criticisms for everyone, as they likely have for me. The only “crew” I am interested in is the lose confederation of bloggers who make up a mutual community which is NOT defined by its position in some sort of new orthdoxy of philosophical revolution. I don’t really care if people do nothing, or do alot. I care about what they write.

  18. This is, fellows, what I call awesomeness. I’m unmasking myself: I invented “Erik” to unite us all in our hatred and envy against SR – mission accomplished!

    PS. I threw in the email address to make it look realistic – I request the highest of fives!

    • pfft. I call this undeserving of high-fiveness. You get a nod and a raised eyebrow instead. I mean really: silly typos and the totally random inclusion of an email address? Did you even create a gmail account in case someone tried to email your Erik? Lack of effort on this one ME….

      But I can’t stay unimpressed for long. Random high five just for kicks!

  19. UPDATE: As you can see from this site the Harman references, Spinoza’s stock DID go up in 2009! (at least against Leibniz stock, which experienced a downturn):

    http://hypertiling.wordpress.com/2009/12/16/quasiuseless-statistics/

    Obama’s bailout must be having a decided effect on Spinoza Corp. Also Heidegger has been riding high for quite a while, exempting the blimp of Derrida’s death, suggesting that Heidegger is a bit recession proof, something like the Shirley Temple Effect.

    • Thanks, Kevin. You know I’ve been thinking about this and I think I realize now why this talk is really annoying: it’s supposed to be a kind of unspoken and secret discourse of choosing and investing your energy into a thinker/idea that everyone knows exists, but no one explicitly discusses, but making it so explicit is similar to hippy parents having sex in front of their child thinking that it will help his/her sexual development and make them more “relaxed” about life while it is most certainly going to fuck the child up. You know what I mean? Yes, we all to a certain extend attach ourselves to thinkers/ideas, we choose to do it often before we know what the thinker/idea is really about, that’s what graduate school is, but revealing this “secret” and acting as if doing it more openly will help people (“invest in Deleuze and Levinas connection” as objectologist the Father recommended) is stupid – it won’t…

  20. M.E.: “it’s supposed to be a kind of unspoken and secret discourse of choosing and investing your energy into a thinker/idea that everyone knows exists, but no one explicitly discusses, but making it so explicit is similar to hippy parents having sex in front of their child thinking that it will help his/her sexual development and make them more “relaxed” about life while it is most certainly going to fuck the child up.”

    Kvond: Nail hit on head.

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