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Back When Speculative Realism was, err, Both Speculative and Real

An und für sich has a nice post up on Laruelle, that begins with a mournful nostalgia for a pre-capitalized Speculative Realism. Unfortunately I never witnessed this brief but golden moment for I was introduced to the movement through the exploitive fourth, but I have seen the afterglow:

In addition to making me nostalgic for a time when the very phrase “speculative realism” didn’t also signify “self-aggrandizing marketing tool-being”, but actually introduced me to three thinkers who work I found extremely interesting, challenging, and productive of thought (two as enemies and one as an ally, and a fourth whose work failed to capture my attention), it also served to remind me of the occasional series here about philosophers not understanding Laruelle.

The point of the post is to drive Laruelle’s solution of the Real and non-philosophy between the two Scylla and Charybdis of the ancestral arche-fossil and posterior Nihilism:

The real difference between the two philosophers has to do with the order of the Real as such (and I’m refusing here the difference Meillassoux tries to set up between the Real and realism) in relation to thought. For Meillassoux it is necessary to point to some ancestral moment prior to thought to break from subjective metaphysics, or what Laruelle calls the melange of thought and the Real, and what that ultimately means is that one must think a time preceding any possible thought or manifestation. Brassier flips this and instead of thinking from a time prior to thought attempts to breaks the circle through a radicalized nihilism that thinks a time posterior to all thought in the extinction of the universe. Laruelle’s theory of time can be said to refuse these two empirical theories and instead posits a determination-in-the-last-instance of thought by the Real. This determination does not posit a time prior or after to thought, but instead marks a unilateral determination of thought by the Real in each moment, thought is Real but the Real is not, as such, related to thought. This, in my view, is preferable to either the arche-fossil of Meillassoux or the nihilism of Brassier, because it passes the extensity test in thinking both the human and the Real without the need to rid itself of one to think the other.

I like the point, and find some sympathies with it and my Spinozism, but I wonder as well, what if we treat Speculative Realism itself as neither ancestral nor posterior closure. What if we think it as “a unilateral determination of thought by the Real”. By this I mean something Spinozist. The thoughts of Speculative Realism, the entire assemblage of it, before it became “self-aggrandizing marketing tool-being” (that is appropriated into a model of signifying commerce under the focus of one practice) held a brute determination that gave it its mark upon the world, a mark that can be decoded only through analysis of the power relations of its parts, the degree of reality of its members, partly through the kind An und für sich opens. Which is to say there is no determinative point from which to say when Speculative Realism ceased being Speculative Realism, and in fact ever was. There was only the brute Real of Speculative Realism and the attempt to express and/or harvest it. At one point it seems its name entered into an economy of names which removed a great deal of its potentiality.

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2 responses to “Back When Speculative Realism was, err, Both Speculative and Real

  1. slawkenbergius November 30, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    Well, at least you’ve got to appreciate the fact that SR is an inexhaustible source of pointless and inconclusive dick-swinging, both among its supporters and its opponents.

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