People tend to use relativism as an excuse for narcissism. they confuse “I can only speak for myself” with “I can only speak about myself.”
The problem with progressive terminology is its double edge: on the one hand, by contracting apparently diffused experiences and conditions into concepts, progressive terminology can have an empowering effect. On the other hand, the same contraction makes the same experiences and conditions manageable for those (already) in power. That is why critical terminology must always evolve – so as to avoid complete appropriation by the state apparatus. Yet under conditions of neoliberal capitalism, this constant evolution becomes yet another tool for marketing and the accumulation of (socia, cultural, monetary) capital. There is no hope. The end.
If conceived in two dimensions, a turning spiral will appear as a sinus wave if looked at from one side, a cosine wave from another side and a circle from yet another side. Our own perspective from above, however, is just another perspective on the same object, albeit in three dimensions. All of these ‘perspectives’ are real. Being particular mathematical expressions, they do not depend on a certain perspective strictly speaking – rather, they manifest the same figure in different dimensions of reality. Although circle, wave and spiral may appear mutually exclusive, they are really just different expressions of the same thing – with the catch that that thing does not exist outside of its expressions. My suggestion is that different takes on philosophical problems (such as: are mind and body one or many? Is there agency or are we necessarily determined? What is infinity? Is there meaning behind signification? Etc.) are really just different expressions of that problem in reality, just as wave, circle and spiral are different expressions of the same figure. Yet, neither does that figure exist outside of its expressions (the three dimensional version is not ‘more real’ than its two dimensional counterparts), nor does any philosophical truth exist outside of its expressions in its critical discourse (no philosophical position is ‘more real’ than any other). Philosophical speech, then, should not insist on the superiority of the circle over the spiral, but rather study the plasticity of philosophical problems. For this purpose, I suggest the dramatization of these problems. Theorizing this process in detail is the heart of my philosophical project.
the existence of a justice system is proof that reality itself is unjust. it is because the world as it is does not equalize harm, does not compensate losses and does not progress towards freedom that justice must be produced actively. in this sense, justice is a construction. yet this construction is malleable and yesterday’s crime may well be tomorrow’s law – for better or worse. so keep on pushing.
A useful distinction regarding privilege is Kant’s distinction between “worthiness of happiness” and “actual hapiness,” where the former is subject to ethical discourse and state legislation, while the latter is not. You can do everything right and still suffer a terrible accident or be depressed for life just because. Justice is a human construct, not a feature of reality itself. Privilege, in turn, is not concerned with actual happiness, but only with the assumption of worthiness of happiness – people may or may not see a trustworthy business partner, an interesting lover or an object of gratuitous violence in you. All this, however, resides in the realm of (alleged) worthiness of happiness and the affirmation or denial thereof, not actual happiness. That s why struggling hard or being unhappy are not arguments against happiness – you may be extremely privileged, but unhappy , unlucky or make bad decisions that turn on you. It is important to keep the two apart. For likewise, more privilege does not mean more happiness. More privilege means more justice. But justice and a happy life are two different things. They are surely not unconnected. But they are not identical either.
The heterosexual family is a secular religion. It continues the ideological function of religion in the full sense: deferral of redemption and happiness into an elsewhere. This elsewhere used to be paradise, the afterlife or rebirth. It is now the next generation: people are ok with oppression as long as their children will have it better. They forfeit their own well being for the benefit of someone else. But despite that promise of social mobility being little more than a broken promise, the point here is this : the heterosexual family structure stands in the way of people s self empowerment. People don’t rise bc their children might have it better. This disempowering libidinal trap must be disarmed for the sake of the pink revolution. Heterosexual childhood and patrimony must be abolished.
The philosophical mind is a factory. Philosophical reasoning is concerned with the contraction and condensation of reality, of thoughts and of relations into units that are easy to handle and quick to trade. Vast landscapes of rich emotional lives and complex experiences shrink into a bunch of terms that can be easily combined and used to speed up thinking. Philosophy is always on drugs, is a drug – it´s pure speed, pure acceleration of the connections between these distilled realities. In this sense, the philosophical mind is the first machine.
The existence of emotional pain is proof of the dysfunctional misalignment between social institutions,
traditions and practices on the one hand and the emotional material, such as psychological
or affective needs and capacities, on the other hand.
In capitalist democracy, the rulers have a common church, named capitalism, worshipping money, which is generally despised by the ruled, who think themselves better or more pure than the rulers by avoiding the chase of money. However, that purity is exactly a part of their oppression, because it keeps them from seeking office and high positions, so that moral superiority works to maintain their oppression.
Wonder if you’re (still) in a relationship? If two of the following three criteria apply, you are probably in a relationship – if not, then not. 1) You have transference (the person is on your mind, is your interlocutor, you recognize things they might like or dislike, you are afraid/excited/insecure/etc about/around them, you project things on them etc.). 2) You have sex with each other. 3) Other people think that you’re in a relationship when they see you together.
Freedom is Toxic. Concretely: In reality, the 20th century realized autonomy in automobility – the car. this picture prevails. In general: really existing freedom is the positive feeling (affect, emotion) of non-resistance. this freedom ultimately remains dependent on external factors (namely the obstacle removed, the technology overcoming the resistance – such as the car, the fridge, the tax break, the nanny). in this sense, freedom is toxic: it proclaims a perpetual dependence relation. Positive freedom (productive external interference such as health care or social obligations) is a nice concept, but it is not how people conceptualize and live freedom – it should better be called ‘sociality’ or something like that (for that’s what society really is or could be: a set of enabling external interferences – social relations, taxes and cultural practices that make our emotional lives communicable and manageable). An example: the women’s march pictures a world free from patriachy on the streets. But a challenged master wouldn’t be challenged if he (sic) wasn’t the master. And so patriarchy prevails through the emancipatory attempt. There is no feminism without victims.
Everybody should change their first name when they leave home. for every (temporally) first name is burdened with oedipal conflict and dressage, the discipline to follow orders. inadvertently, the first name as used and given by parents carries that power with it. it is important to leave it behind on the road to autonomy/independence. this process may be repeated upon departing from a toxic workplace, an abusive relationship or wherever else it comes in handy. changing your name should not be any more exciting than getting a new haircut.
on living without cis men: it’s like living without spaghetti. I am gluten intolerant, so i can’t eat normal spaghetti, which are mostly made from wheat. i could technically eat lentil spaghetti or other kinds of gluten free spaghetti. but it’s awfully expensive – too expensive for me. who really wants to pay more than 2 Euros for just a bunch of spaghetti? so i just don’t eat spaghetti – i eat rice noudles, rice, sweet potatoes and all kinds of other stuff. and people really tend to underestimate how amazing these kinds of food are. sure, it requires a touch of creativity from time to time – but the reward is almost guaranteed. people around me pick up on it too and sometimes we come up with astonishing food creations – together, as a collective act. there’s a whole world of food out there that has no use for spaghetti at all and it inspires co-operation and collective thinking. now, sometimes when friends cook for me, they will use gluten free spaghetti – and that’s nice. but somewhere inside me i am also thinking “why do you need to make me eat like you do? why do you need to normalize me?” Of course, it’s only spaghetti, hospitality always wins and the next time around, i’ll cook risotto or whatever. But the case is analogous: nothing is irreplaceable. Not even cis men.
Mistakes are ontologically necessay – deflection and imaginary existence are necessary inflections of absolute infinity.
Emancipation is always emancipation of matter and not material emancipation of otherwise disembodied minds or consciousness. That is to say: the original oppression is the subjection of matter to spirit (aristotle, neo platonism etc.). This oppression is being mirrored in its multiple inflections (black/white, male/female, cis/trans etc.). In each case, the corporeal, passive, inferior part is subsumed to authority and control of the spiritual, active, superior part (in fact, the former is often omitted, re-invented as a deferred, broken version of the latter). Thus, the original oppression is the inscription of this division in the first place, pitting the two against each other. But nothing is going to move without the radical embrace of the weakened, material, embodied position. Writing, extension, the body, desire etc. are the sites of radical resistance – but only so as to dissolve the opposition altogether (which is opposed to gender-, race-, matter-blindness on the one hand and a new kind of domination on the other hand).
Violence is commonly understood as something external, be it natural or artificial. The disaster, however, is that violence is constitutive of anything potentially violated or commited violence against. Violence, as much as it is a problem, is necessarily part of any possible solution. We are the violence. There is no such thing as “the good” – not just because of relational judgment, but also because the inaugurating force establishing boundaries crossed later on was already violent breach of given conditions. Philosophy is therefore the study of violence and itself violent – the violent study of violence.
It’s because psychoanalysis is not a science that a cure is possible. Otherwise, things would be absolutely determined – our own psychic apparatus and trauma would be the hell within our hearts, the one we carry everywhere and – like the hedgehog in the fable – is always already there when we come around the corner. But that s not the case. Psychological development cannot be determined (lest we knew the full order of causes). The essence of the human mind is indetermined. No one knows what a psyche can do. Re-staging the trauma remains possible.
midlife crisis is really just the second coming of castration – it is the realization that some doors have closed, that you are bound to obey actuality. reactions are as varied as they come – depression, resistance, acceptance, ignorance etc.
the difference between analytic and continental philosophers might be one of motivation: analytic philosophers are mostly technocrats who believe that philosophical truth may foster scientific progress which ultimately makes everything better. in that sense, analytic philosophers are children of the enlightenment. continental philosophers, however, have a different relation to truth, one that is fundamentally disjointed from any notion of progress or social emancipation. in this sense, they are children of the traumatic destruction of the enlightenment dream – the bastard children of enlightenment and singular occurrences such as auschwitz, the transatlantic slave trade or colonial violence. that is why continentals generally stay closer to social struggles as a field of interest in their own right, shying away from the highways of truth as quick access points to valid conclusions. inversely, that is why analytics look to empirical sciences for guidance in their philosophical endeavors. sometimes, analytic philosophy becomes itself a version of empirical research (such as in the close link between philosophy of mind and cognitive science), while continental philosophy sometimes does itself become a version of certain social struggles (such as poco and feminist philosophy).
three ways of social interaction: a) the narrative approach : telling each other stories of one s life as in a novel, orally presented. serves to keep a distance from one another, people are witnesses to each other s lifes. danger: emotional isolation. b) the anecdotal approach: small sound bites, puns and ironic commentary. allows for close connection (doing things together, being in on the joke) without much exchange of information. danger: may backfire if the joke turns out to be oppressing the wrong people. c) the therapeutic approach: seeking advise with concrete problems, be they pragmatic or psychological in nature. serves to found real social bonds and solve trouble collectively, thus with more power than it may be possible individually. danger: bad advise and an asymmetric, dominating dynamic if applied one widely, also possible renouncement of agency.
on neoliberal ‘philosophy’: recoding existing thought in new terminology is not philosophy but just a new rhetoric, generating a new product. It is thus deeply capitalistic. and that is the drama of the so called ‘new materialism’.
According to Spinoza, things are ratios of motion and rest. We can understand heteronormativity along these lines. Although you exchange the bodies forming a family (cis-male + cis-female + cis-children = family) with other bodies (be they of the same gender or trans* or etc.), the relations between these bodies and their collective actions may well be the same in terms of hierarchies, the structure of the working day, holidays etc. etc. In that sense, the family will follow the heteronormative model physically. Otherwise said: If it walks like a cishet, quacks like a cishet and swims like a cishet, it’s probably a cishet – and the same counts for a family accordingly.
a philosophy of emotions must be emotionally accessible – it must convince emotionally and not just according to abstract rationality. that, in fact, is one of Spinoza s cardinal mistakes: that he does not link his analysis of the affects to his methodological approach. for the latter remains strangely removed from corporeal affection. it proceeds as though a pure mind was reading it. Spinoza’s Ethics constructs a reader that by its own account cannot exist – a reader whose approach to philosophy is purely rational, disembodied as it were.
hormonal self determination should be a general social project just as access to education, health care and legal services. it is the role of the state to balance out the injustice of birth. in that manner, access to hormones is no different from access to schools, shelter, information or clothes or food.
horror stories and comedies often turn on distinctions – the mirror image becoming a doppelganger, Dorian Gray dying upon killing his alter ego, a nose achieving a life of its own and going about life autonomously. in all these cases, distinctions are being mixed up. the conceptual distinction between a person and their mirror image is turned into a real distinction between two people, and so is the modal distinction between a person and their nose. likewise, vampires have no mirror image, while shadows may take on a life of their own.
Where does the fear of theft originate? Answering that question would require its own paper. Suffice it to say that capitalism picks up on the metaphysics of presence in a very material sense. Capitalism manages to exile the otherwise traumatic confrontation with the transient nature of reality into particular characters, people even – criminals, thieves, Queers, Jews, black people, women, deplorables. In this sense, the fear of theft is a general uneasiness about the fragility of the world itself. In the consolidation of property as a social paradigm and the relegation of its downfall into theft, capitalism institutionalizes immaturity (Unmündigkeit), licenses the insistence on a troubled relation to reality itself. Property is the institutionalized incapacity to deal with the inevitable possibility of loss, transience, evanescence.
“nothing really matters” is a sentence often heard in moments of depression and defeat. yet it is not true that nothing really matters. for the expression “matters” is a two place relation. like identity, “matters” requires two things that stand in a certain relation to each other – but while identity is a symmetrical relation, “matters” is asymmetrical: you can matter to me but I don’t matter to you. however, given that “matters” is such a relation, it is never the case that “nothing matters”. for that would be like stating “I am identical to.” it’s just an unfinished sentence. if “matters” is indeed a two place relation, then there must always be something that matters to someone. in other words: things always matter to a subject, a person, an actor or something like that. if there is no such someone, the “mattering” remains empty, so to speak. the alleged depth of a sentence such as “nothing really matters” is really just its semantic inconsistency. the surprising conclusion then is: it is not and can never be the case that “nothing really matters”, simply because that “really” indicates an objective position that contradicts the way in which things matter – namely in relations to people (or actors or etc). we might even think that the challenge of the question (“what matters really ?”) does itself generate this problem : for in that question, “really” seems to indicate an abstraction from individual positionality. “beyond all the particular concerns – what is it that really matters?” and in that case, of course, the answer must remain empty, because, as pointed out above, it challenges us to go beyond the way in which things usually matter. that said, even if “nothing really matters” did have any semantic content, if it really did mean something, it would be entirely different from what we mean when we say “you matter to me” or “this is a matter of high importance (to the team)” etc. For although “nothing really matters” looks as though it was to be understood in the way in which “you matter to me” is to be understood, it really is a completely different statement: for the latter is a two place asymmetrical relation, while the former is not. they are not any more similar than “you matter to me” and “I am a chicken” – where the meaning of the second part is unknown. there are some other understandings to be analysed here: a) everybody agrees that x doesn’t matter. b) x does not matter to anyone.
a and b clearly make sense, but are much more restricted versions of “nothing really matters” with much less practical or ethical consequences. we could develop the following version out of it:
c) for all actors x: for all objects y: no y matters to x.
we would then say that as a matter of fact, there is no real relation of “mattering to” in the world, although it would be possible. in this case, “nothing really matters” would make sense. however, this version sets very high stakes for its truth conditions and moreover it doesn’t capture what is usually transported in “nothing really matters” – namely that people mistakenly think that things matter which really don’t matter. however, c) doesn’t have much to do with “nothing really matters” in that sense.
the last version of the sentence I want to look at is this one:
d) nothing (really) matters to me.
this can technicay be true and is a common expression of a depressive mindset – “there nothing worth living for for me.” the problem here, however, is not so much philosophical as it is political, social or possibly psychological. true, it may be that the worth is not worth living in – but that doesn’t mean that nothing really matters. things may still matter – for example, that the world is not worth living in may well matter to the people who are actually suffering from that world. this, however, should be interpreted as a political call to arms, a call to become active, to seek therapy, engage in activism and change the world that matters to people, rather than (as often happens) to declare that the game is up and we should just wait for the world to burn down quietly.
an endless contortionist – some people say you need to understand words so as to determine their modal status. but the real catastrophe is that on the level of syntax or the signifier, everything always remains possible. this ultimate possibility allows us to strive for things impossible on the semantic, real or material level. striving for the impossible is not vain – it does, however produce the mountainous wreckage we call life, the debris of the impossible, the material clinamen, reality as effect of adestination.
The future is the shadow of reality. Final causes are but misconstrued virtual causes. Final causes (such as purposes or intentions) pretend that they did pull the present into the future by virtue of some purpose or objective. “You go home because you want to sleep” – contrued as a final cause, this sentence suggests that it is the future state of sleeping that was causing the present movement (‘going home’). That, however, is wrong. What is really the case is that something which may be constitutively absent – the presence of my loving mother right now, a protective device or the imagination of the presence (!) of an academic degree, of my hot girlfriend or of the kick of a philosphical thought – enables me to do something. “[When a] child who begins to walk […], the child constructs for itself […] a virtual object or centre and which then governs and compensates for the progresses and failures of its real activity: it puts several fingers in its mouth, wraps the other arm around this virtual centre, and appraises the whole situation from the point of view of this virtual mother. […] [However,] the real [actual] mother is contemplated only in order to provide a goal for the activity, and a criterion by which to evaluate the activity, in the context of an active synthesis.” (Deleuze, Difference and Repetition, 99) Virtual causes exist in the present, but they are constitutively withdrawn, not actual – such as the back of my head or the body of my hot girlfriend while I am writing this. It is the emulation or simulation of these virtual objects that enable the action. The child “puts several fingers in its mouth” emulating the mother’s breast, making the mother present, though virtually present and not actually present. The frustration experienced through the actual absence of the mother – she is over there at the end of the corridor – is compensated by way of the presence of the virtual mother – the fingers in the child’s mouth. It is not the case that the child’s mother pulls the child onto their legs and through the corridor into the future. There is no future mother acting on the child. It is the virtual mother, active in the present by way of the fingers in the child’s mouth, that helps the child bridge the gap experienced in the fulfillment of its desire, experienced as frustration. In the same way, there are no final causes. Instead, what is sometimes thought of as a final cause is really a virtual cause – a cause that really does exist in the present, but as withdrawn or as an active compensation for a perceived lack (which is not really a lack in existence, but merely a partial apprehension of reality – #spinoza). in this way, then, causation does not require the mysterious final causation (not even in the Kantian remodeling as ‘organism’). it is simply causation wired through another dimension of reality – the virtual (the virtual is, however, oftentimes and easily confused with the future. but the difference is that the future will happen at some point, while the virtual never will. The future is the shadow of reality).