I have the recording from yesterday’s session, and everything came out fine. But I can’t, unfortunately, upload them to the blog. It is a M4 file. I don’t even think I can upload them to Facebook. I’ll talk to the tech people and we’ll think of something. All best, Alberto
I listened again to Jaime´s diatribe against the notion of a historical break–the positing of a before and an after in intellectual history, we could say. It is at the beginning of Part 2 of the recording, so very easy to find. Again, I see the point: the constant claim that something that is out there is exhausted and something new is therefore needed can be annoying, or even highly annoying, for whoever listens. In the Western intellectual tradition that is a line that comes clearly from Kant and his “Copernican revolution.” Kant posits a “dogmatic slumber” that came before and a “critical philosophy” that begins with him. Hegel was even more radical, even more annoying: it ain’t, he said, that there is a before and a after, it is that my thought encompasses and contains everything that has gone on before, absorbs it, refutes it, so that now you only have me, and guess what, this is the end of it, there will never be anything else. Nietzsche very explicitly claimed that history had broken into two with his advent, “Dionysus vs. the Crucified,” and the heavens had opened, and he had the true fundamental doctrine, which he embodied in the Eternal Return of the Same, the Sils-Maria revelation. And of course Heidegger does the same, in a different style. He said that metaphysics, in the wake of both Hegel and Nietzsche`s thought, had in fact been accomplished. But he also said that the accomplishment of metaphysics was historical in nature, that Hegel and Nietzsche had only voiced it or symptomatized it, that it is the metaphysics of animal rationale, or logon echo, that had come to an end, and that a new understanding had become necessary for which we did not yet have the means, did not have the language. That the horizon of our time was nihilism, and that, in respect of nihilism, we could only exert ourselves in, on the one hand, understanding it as thoroughly as possible, on the other preparing ourselves for a new historical dispensation that could be in the making for the next five hundred years. That is the so-called transition time. Derrida and De Man, in their own ways, accepted the scheme, which is really the founding scheme of modern thought, and that it is embedded, in a Hegelian vein, in Marx himself. So my only answer to Jaime really was, yes, we have not stopped talking about a moment of crisis, but it is the same crisis! The crisis of the end of the conceptual architectonics of modernity. I must confess I would not know how to give up on that scheme without losing, it seems to me, the very possibility of thought.
Also for the record, a discussion on Facebook on the basis of the previous comment.
Jaime Rodríguez Matos I think the new here has something to do with achieving a thought that no longer needs to say that it is the new. It does not matter that this sounds like a circle or a contradiction (at least to me). Thought begins only then. Only then do you leave philosophy behind. And only then do you become capable of being at the heart of nihilism without nihilating anything, so to speak. But I don’t think we disagree here. This would be the new that can no longer be used to tell others that they better get with it.
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Alberto Moreiras We need to push this, so I’ll provoke you: Is this like the nouveaux riches finally understanding that it is only when they move from a gaudy Cadillac to a gray and discreet Mercedes and when they stop buying lobsters by the dozen in order to enjoy a simple fish soup that they have truly become rich?
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Jaime Rodríguez Matos I don’t know, but to me it would be more like realizing that becoming rich is a terrible goal to have in life.
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Alberto Moreiras And yet! In spiritual matters becoming absolutely poor and destitute is the only way to access the most ineffable wealth. Recently this has been reinstated by Pope Francisco´s very counselor, Pablo dºOrs, in his book El olvido de sí. But, say, Hölderlin’s Im dürftiger Zeit, is it not the only path to true poetry? Can we not detect here the same scheme, merely inverted?
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Alberto Moreiras’s photo.
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Jaime Rodríguez Matos I’ll read it. This summer I read his Biografía del silencio. Ups and downs.
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Javier Rodriguez Also, do not forget Ishmael’s decision to enroll as a simple deckhand sailor in ‘Moby Dick,’ Alberto.
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Alberto Moreiras Javier, please elaborate!
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Javier Rodriguez What I mean is that Ishmael would seem to be implying that only a certain perspective akin to the one afforded by poverty and subordination, in spite of all the humiliations that may come with it, would enable him to witness, narrate, and eventually even resist and pull himself from the blinding allure of the events that will follow in the novel, and specifically the troublesome idea of power the Ahab incorporates. And that seems to be the case “particularly if you come of an old established family in the land, the Van Rensselaers, or Randolphs, or Hardicanutes. And more than all, if just previous to putting your hand into the tar-pot, you have been lording it as a country schoolmaster, making the tallest boys stand in awe of you. The transition is a keen one, I assure you, from a schoolmaster to a sailor, and requires a strong decoction of Seneca and the Stoics to enable you to grin and bear it. But even this wears off in time” (chap. 1). It looks like this impoverishment requires a spiritual renunciation of sorts too. Nick Carraway, and the entire cast of Beckett’s characters may belong in this prestigious(less) genealogy as well.
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Alberto Moreiras Thanks, Javier. No doubt that is a powerful position, with a very long tradition that we cannot necessarily say is ultimately religious, as we find it already in the so-called post-Socratic philosophies. In fact, Socrates himself is a good example of the same general position. Still, what we have here is a claim that only a general divestiture, a general renunciation of worldly perks and vanities, can lead to true riches (of a philosophical or spiritual kind). But is that position not a mere inversion of the position that holds the worldly master to be the subject supposed to know? We are dealing with the vexed notion of epistemic privilege. The question that comes up through the two distinct issues under debate is whether the positing of a radical break from the world (by assuming a position of destitution, which flaunts worldly values, or by positing the exhaustion of previous values) is in fact a claim of epistemic privilege or rather it is the very opposite–the claim that epistemic privilege is what needs to be given up, that unlearning and-or unmastering is previous to any possibility of an alternative learning.
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Gerardo Munoz the question Alberto, as I also ask myself something in the similar vein of Jaime’s concern, is whether Derrida’s thought, say deconstruction, could really be a project of a substantial “break”, of an “end”, of exhaustion with anything…isn’t deconstruction a project that also speaks to the perseverance of transmission beyond breaks (putting under erasure the breaking of the break)? And this is crucial, as it speaks to our prior exchanges about university and institutionalization, which Derrida criticized Heidegger on his effort to de-institutionalized thinking (not possible)….The question is you see infrapolitics in the wake of deconstruction as the opening of a space for the inscription of a critical distance of the break or destitution as such (the end of institutionally as such)? It seems to me that to hold a position of break already calls for a radical transformation of a “basic position” of Derrida himself, no?
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Alberto Moreiras I may be mistaken, but if so it is a thirty-year mistake: I have always thought of deconstruction as a radical thinking of the break. Of course that doesn`t mean it would be banal about it: it considers the break, which gives it energy and sustenance, while considering everything else as well, such as the ties of language, basic tradition, social bond, etc. But I do indeed think and have always thought deconstruction is a thinking of the break, in Heidegger´s wake. What we have in this discussion is very crucial, it seems to me. One of the really early books by Levinas, I forget the title right now, is about it as well. There Levinas says, look, Spinoza could not afford to think the break, because the notion of perseverare in suo esse screwed him up. Which is the reason why Spinoza can only be a partial thinker of subjectivity. Because he could not countenance the very possibility of the traumatic awakening to otherness. And, after all, otherness is what we are discussing, isn`t it? But let me raise the political stakes a bit: if deconstruction is not a thinking of the break, then there can be no cosmopolitical philosophy.
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Javier Rodriguez Or maybe both, Alberto. To go back to Melville’s quotation, I wonder to what extent the issue is not precisely the impossibility to distinguish between the objective and the subjective genitive of that “decoction of Seneca,” where the philosopher maybe stands as a metonymy of the entire philosophical tradition. Does Ishmael need a distilled, concentrated version of stoicism to endure his new position in the whaling business (as you say, just an iteration of the promise of Theodicy: from rags to riches)? Or does he need to be de-cocted, divested of all intellectual aspiration in order to hold that position that approaches the white whale of nihilism from a different tack, other than the awe-inspiring one of schoolmasters and sea captains?
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Jaime Rodríguez Matos Of course there is a break. But after it the break itself is different. It cannot be a logical or reasoned break, cannot be deduced from the exhaustion of anything. Otherwise, I would think, you end up within a historicizing thing–like when the students of Badiou tell others that psychoanalysis and deconstruction are the past, and not to recognize this makes you an obscure subject, and so on. I think Heidegger’s text about the line and crossing it is crucial here. It would be useful to see the difference between Heidegger and your position Alberto. It would be a way to clarify things. I mention it because Guillermo García Ureña also alluded to it last Tuesday in connection to the reading of Leyte and Marzoa.
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Jaime Rodríguez Matos I also think that Ronald’s question about historicism is relevant here.
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Gerardo Munoz Interesting that you mention Spinoza, since for Deleuze that is the only philosophy of break that has ever existed (a break, that is at the same time, a return to thinking the Greek miracle – presocratic as d&g pose it in WiP?), the break here is with the transcendental and the figural in the name of the “concept”…reading the Gasche’s book on Geophilosophy, and connecting to one of your first articulations of Infrapolitics in the first session (“It is not a concept.., but a theoretical practice”), I see how infrapolitics advances beyond the deleuzian limit at the concept (creation, etc). But the question it is still relevant i think – and I am glad jt came up – since just today, in fact, during our first seminar on Derrida with Avital Ronell and Ed Cadava, the question also came up and they were relunctant to affirm any kind of break. In fact, as I recall Eduardo’s words (Pablo, ¿me equivoco? ¿Se dijo algo mas? ), if deconstruction is anything is it not a thought delimited as a radical break from anything, especially not from philosophy as techne, as Heidegger tried to posit it…the deconstruction can think break, but is never truly a break…De ahi la actualidad inmediata del deluzianismo, y diria que de cierto espinosismo (ni hablar del espinozismo marrano), en una constelacion que estudia Peden en su libro, pero a la que habria que colocar el ultimo libro de Willy Thayer tambien…ya que hasta cieto punto la pregunta por la ruptura o el agotamiento es la pregunta por la ctítica…
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Alberto Moreiras We’ll have to ask Guillermo and Ronald to repeat their questions here, and then I`ll try to answer them. Regarding yours, I recently reread Heidegger`s essay on Junger’s Over the Line and found myself in agreement–I am not aware of any divergence, but then again, I am still learning from the jefe, bad jefe as he may be, and I never look consciously for disagreements–a refutation of Heidegger is not in the books for me, as I consider him historically. So I don’t stop with him, but there is no desire in me to take my distances (philosophically, not politically). In any case, something comes to mind. I have always been struck by a sentence in Georg Büchner’s Leonz und Lena, which runs something like “A love that dies is more beautiful than one that begins.” Perhaps because for me there is no love that dies, there has never been, I am fascinated by Büchner’s, or Leonz’, capricious remark. So let me say that, for Heidegger, the sentence is probably not interesting, but for me it is, and that is probably the extent of the difference. If I love Plato, I love Plato. For ever. This is not to say he didn´t. But he had a more capacious soul than I do at the level of dismissing things–I get stuck trying to understand them and never move past that. And I would say it is precisely this that does not allow me to stay within the boundaries of an affirmation of nihilism, as total and unique and impassable epochal or “historial” position, which is what I understand Leyte and Martinez Marzoa’s position to be. I do want to move past the notion that understanding is all there is. Not that I do not respect it–it is just not my style. It seems impossible and counterintuitive for me to have terminally processed the history of thought to the point of an impasse. So that is one thing. The other thing is what Javier brings up, and is also implicit in your line of questioning: how to develop a style commensurate to the challenge of nihilism–this is the way I would rephrase both your questions. And I could tell you I have never thought about anything else, but that does not mean I am ready to talk about it, and it would seem glib no matter how accurate it really is. Perhaps because I at the same time take and do not take nihilism very seriously. So that my futural horizon is in a sense freer than, say, Leyte, or Martinez Marzoa, so there is more of a need for me to say, yes, that stuff is over, let’s move on, whereas they can only say that stuff is over, and that is all there is. Yes, I understand their position is neater, less messy.
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Alberto Moreiras Gerardo, te leo, pero ya no me puedo hacer cargo de todo eso. Para mí el deleuzianismo en general, aunque interesante, no es atractivo, y desde luego las filigranas del derridianismo norteamericano no son las mías. El espinosismo es una regresión, y es infumable hoy en mi opinión.
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Gerardo Munoz Pensando en alto Alberto, pero pensando tambien en lo que hace mas de un año proponias como un movimiento interno a pensar ‘alianzas’ mas alla de la solidaridad; como yo lo veo, la geofilosofia (no todo Deleuze, ni mucho menos el deleuze de De Landa o las micropoliticas vulgares) es efectivo para pensar mas alla del sujeto y la subjetivizacion…
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Jaime Rodríguez Matos I think this is the question for me: a style commensurate to the challenge of nihilism. (Love is for ever. No disagreements there.)
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Alberto Moreiras Sì, por supuesto, y sin duda Deleuze es un aliado filosófico como lo es Althusser como lo es Foucault como lo es Badiou, Agamben, etc. Son grandes pensadores a los que yo leo siempre y siempre con gran admiración. Pero hay un camino que lo escoge a uno y no todo es lo mismo. La dificultad es seguir el camino, precisamente, ante tantas posibilidades de meandros y recovecos, desvíos y pérdidas. Pero el camino es solo el camino de uno, no el de todos! Como acaba de decir Jaime, cuestión de estilo, que es lo más difícil.
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Alberto Moreiras Javier is right to point out two great masters of style in the face of nihilism: Melville and Beckett.
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Alberto Moreiras I would add, in the messier way, Bolaño and Marías. And there are others, certainly.
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