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- Mitochondrial Vertigo: The New Blog
- Going Dark
- The Becoming-woman of Machine in Avatar
- The Difference Between a Description and an Explanation: Deficits in Latour
- Peking Opera and the Aesthetic Freedoms of Avatar
- Transcendence or Immanence: Cake-and-eat-it-too-ism
- From Affect to Mutuality, Openness to Rational Co-expression: Massumi to Spinoza
- Is the Medium the Message? Avatar’s Avatar
- Massumi’s Cognitive Doubling, Spinoza’s Numerical Affectivity
- Two Vectors of Avatar’s Cinematic Achievement: Affect and Space Interface
- Accursed Share
- An und für sich
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- In the Middle
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- Shaviro's Workblog
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- spinoza research network
- Splintering Bone Ashes
- The Whim
- Utopian Realism
- Varieties of Unreligious Experience
- Velvet Howler
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- Working Notes
Spinoza Primary Sources
- Ethics, Emendation, Tractatus and Letters, in Latin
- F. van den Enden website
- Hyperlinked Ethics, Emmendation, Tractatus and Letters
- Nicholas De Cusa’s “De Visione Dei”, English Translation
- Selected Letters, Elwes Translation
- Spinoza’s Complete Works, Shirley Translation
- Spinoza’s Works in Latin
- The Life of Spinoza, by Johannes Colerus (1705)
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Ode to Man
Tho’ many are the terrors, not one more terrible than man goes. This one beyond the grizzled sea in winter storming to the south He crosses, all-engulfed, cutting through, up from under swells. & of the gods She the Eldest, Earth un-withering, un-toiling, is worn down, As the Twisting Plough’s year into Twisting Plough’s year, Through the breeding of horse, he turns. & the lighthearted race of birds all-snaring he drives them & savage beasts, their clan, & of the sea, marine in kind With tightly-wound meshes spun from all-seeing is Man. Yet too, he masters by means of pastoral beast, mountain-trodding, The unruly-maned horse holding fast, ‘round the neck yoked, & the mountain’s ceaseless bull. & the voice & wind-fast thought & the passion for civic ways He has taught, so from crag’s poor court from under the ether’s hard-tossed arrows To flee, this all-crossing one. Blocked, he comes upon nothing so fated. From Hades alone escape he’ll not bring. Tho’ from sickness impossible Flight he has pondered. A skilled one, devising of arts beyond hope, Holding at times an evil, But then to the noble he crawls, honoring the laws of the Earth, & Of gods the oath so just, high-citied. Citiless is the one who with the un-beautiful dwells, boldly in grace. Never for me a hearth-mate may he have been, never equal in mind He who offers this.
Ode to Man
A BwO is made in such a way that it can be occupied, populated only by intensities. Only intensities pass and circulate. Still, the BwO is not a scene, a place, or even a support upon which something comes to pass. It has nothing to do with phantasy, there is nothing to interpret. The BwO causes intensities to pass; it produces and distributes them in a spatium that is itself intensive, lacking extension. It is not space, nor is it in space; it is matter that occupies space to a given degree—to the degree corresponding to the intensities produced. It is nonstratified, unformed, intense matter, the matrix of intensity, intensity = 0; but there is nothing negative about that zero, there are no negative or opposite intensities. Matter equals energy. Production of the real as an intensive magnitude starting at zero. That is why we treat the BwO as the full egg before the extension of the organism and the organization of the organs, before the formation of the strata; as the intense egg defined by axes and vectors, gradients and thresholds, by dynamic tendencies involving energy transformation and kinematic movements involving group displacement, by migrations: all independent of accessory forms because the organs appear and function here only as pure intensities. The organ changes when it crosses a threshold, when it changes gradient. "No organ is constant as regards either function or position, . . . sex organs sprout anywhere,... rectums open, defecate and close, . . . the entire organism changes color and consistency in split-second adjustments." The tantric egg. After all, is not Spinoza's Ethics the great book of the BwO?
Ode to Man
But human power is extremely limited, and is infinitely surpassed by the power of external causes; we have not, therefore, an absolute power of shaping to our use those things which are without us. Nevertheless, we shall bear with an equal mind all that happens to us in contravention to the claims of our own advantage, so long as we are conscious, that we have done our duty, and that the power which we possess is not sufficient to enable us to protect ourselves completely; remembering that we are a part of universal nature, and that we follow her order. If we have a clear and distinct understanding of this, that part of our nature which is defined by intelligence, in other words the better part of ourselves, will assuredly acquiesce in what befalls us, and in such acquiescence will endeavour to persist. For, in so far as we are intelligent beings, we cannot desire anything save that which is necessary, nor yield absolute acquiescence to anything, save to that which is true: wherefore, in so far as we have a right understanding of these things, the endeavour of the better part of ourselves is in harmony with the order of nature as a whole.
Kvond, I haven’t read past the third sentence of your post, but before I’m too caught up in it, I want to go off briefly in my problem with Latour. Although I think *The Pasteurization of France* is a fairly interesting work, not the least because it poses itself largely in opposition the sign-obsessed nature of post-linguistic turn and deconstructionist literary criticism, I can’t help but think of this “epistemological standpoint” towards Latour as marked by a deeply embedded kind of Americanism: reverence for science against pomo theory, a la Sokal; but more importantly, a complete unawareness of the political-theoretical situation in continental Europe. What I mean by the latter is that Latour’s work really ought to be situated, not in the American-centric viewpoints espoused by Levi and Harman who praise Latour for rebelling against deconstructionist doxa, but rather with respect to the brutal demarxification of France from the late 70s to the present. This, I believe, gives us a new, more geographically, historically, and politically informed perspective on how to situate Latour’s thoughts (as well as a proper angle for ideology critique with respect to how his work has been received in OOP).
Now I’m going to read your post…
I’d be interested in your reception of Fuller’s depiction. It seems to match up pretty well. I’ll send you the article if you’re interested.
Kvond, I thought Fuller’s remarks were definitely perspicacious and reflect some of my own doubts about the nature of Latour’s work, but more generally with regard to the ostensible feel-goodness of ANT itself (its flourishing amongst conventional social theorists has led me to be a bit suspicious for quite some time). I also thought the comparison Fuller draws between how technology functions in fascism and the way in which agency and objects become flattened in ANT was particularly well thought (i.e., regarding how flat ontology, in all of its high language of liberation and so on, in fact serves to stifle change and strengthen the process of commodification).
If you can, I’d certainly like to read the paper in full. My e-mail address is email@example.com
Interesting observation. I read a paper (can’t remember much about it’s title) that claimed that Foucault’s work on neoliberalism must be seen in this anti-Marxist French context. While most commentators believe Foucault to be anti-neoliberal, he in fact has more affinity to neoliberal ideas than most have suspected.
What was interesting about Fuller’s treatment, aside from these connections above, was the very thorough examination of the historical context of sociology in he 60’s through the 80s, and what has been brought out by others, the Latour’s ANT was in part a response to Bourdieu’s dominant sociological embrace of modes of power and class. Latour’s Paris position was that, apparently, of an academia which was more and moe “clinet” driven, wherein research became a form of middleman analysis. Fuller makes the very good point that the supposed neutrality of network thinking is really a positioning of the sociologist as indespensible “translator” for policy, a tertius gaudens. There does seem s very good case to be made here.
Reading The Birth of Biopolitics lately, I can’t see how Foucault had any affinity to neoliberal “ideas”. Maybe to liberal “ideas” (he does say Adam Smith’s invisible hand is a challenge to the police state), but he clearly sees that liberalism is not the same as liberal “ideas”; it’s a practice, a governmentality, and a rationality of that governmentality – and so is neoliberalism, and he doesn’t have any affinity to neoliberalism.
Great. I just want to say that I am kind of intrigued regarding to the critic that you imply here against the ‘flat ontology’ and that the object-oriented defenders (mostly speaking about Levi) are phantomizing to justify their supposed democratic foundment of objects.
It comes to my mind how interesting it would be to remark how this specific ‘flatness’ is depotencialized as it does not take into account the parallel that Spinoza traces to demonstrate how that passions-of-the-body are the same than the passions of-the-soul (an operation that makes possible an immanent conceptualization of potentia and that Deleuze explains in the chapter 2 of his Spinoza and expressionism).
I mean, Levi keeps on saying that his ontology is a flat one while he cuts the aspects that are related to potency. I just think that maybe this is something that you would also want to retrieve to Spinoza.
I honestly find Levi’s prevaricating and pontificating style so incoherent and hotwinded, I wouldn’t even know where to start to cricize his “position”. He makes up his position ever five minutes, retreating into digressive (apparent) displays of his knowledge which are ever and always shallow and over compensating. I some time ago gave up critiquing his “position” which swings wildly.
This being said, Latour is another matter, and insofar as Harman and Levi both trade on Latour, such a criticism echos back up to them. Harman is a very difference case than Levi as well. Not only does he actually understand what his TRYING to argue or get to (even though his theory of causation is evidence to the contrary), his entire sensuous, middle term exotic Orientalism meets firmly up to the logic of Capitalism and commodification. This and his Latourian attempt to glue Husserl to Heidegger makes for an interesting Capitalist fantasy.
Well yeah, as we have coincide before: the foundational imposture that Latour retains is the source of the problem. But its also worth to mention that neither Harman nor Levi bothered themselves to take Latour`s work critically. Like i have said elsewhere, Latour´s work departures from a very and detailed systematic anti-bourdieusian imposture, say like ‘phantomizing’ Bourdieu´s constructive/conceptual preoccupations. So from this reactive foundation he is doing a cinical counterargumentation of all the work done by Bourdieu, and he keeps on feeding his stands by doing that.
Its seems that the position that Latour is occupying between the philosophical and the sociological fields is one of an ideologue who denies the relation that social research is meant to have in respect with other fields of knowledge, and this, in order to presume and to exalt the illusion of an absolute autonomy of the scientific field. But as he does this cynically, those who follow his work without any critical margins are meant to fall into a blinded spot in the exercise of their own practice, while they reproduce it as a naturalized scholastic point of view which gives a ‘fair’ sense of justification to their objectual laboratory. This is what i was trying to say to Nick the other day.
So the problem is also the lack of interest in adapting their work into the social research procedures: neither Harman or Levi are much worried to do this in the right way so to contemplate and conceive other critical angles regarding to what is known about the latourian assertions.They don`t do this because it would imply to realize how urgent is it for their sake to drop out a big part of what sustains their work. For instance, as a bourdieusian, its seems to me that they had never triangulate Latour`s work with Bourdieu`s, not even when there is a clear critical struggle underlined between these two sociologues. So they took an unquestioned part on Latour`s favor without knowing the specific and confronted vis a vis details of this very particular struggle, and obviously without getting to know closer the bourdieusian frame of work.
The results are evident: blinded spots within their practice that are reproduced through their pragmatic academic and granted commodities. This also means that they may not be aware how they are reproducing specific ideological interests that also might point out to their own social class and habitus) and this, in despite their good intellectual and ontological will. An object-oriented-naivety that ends to be self-oriented while they insist to defend it in they mean to fiercely embrace it.
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