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Saturday, 19 May 2012

Quietism and non-philosophy

I´m lecturing a course on poet Manuel de Barros and his philosophical insinuations. We covered his praise to garbage in many forms and his confort with idiocies (his idiolect is a dialect for idiots to speak with walls and flies) and his love for the useless compared with some dimensions of Rilke´s open (in the elegies and in the Stundenbuch). Yesterday we covered a character he talks about: Bernardo. Quiet, he doesn´t talk but with frogs and birds come to nest in his shoulders. He doesn´t think but he finds himself in a state of tree, of pebble, of a stream of water. Shapeshifters are pleased with him. We then covered quietism, non-thinking and Laruelle´s nonphilosophie. The space of thought is like a medium, open to be invaded like an open city, not owned. It is a space without sovereignty, guided by no decision, like a territory without a government. Non-philosophy looks at this state where the space of thought is available for things - hosting them, welcoming them, as if it were a guesthouse (the guesthouse of Rumi´s poem, welcoming meanness and delight). It is a space to host the passers-by, not a place to grab them. It is not about autonomy, it is about being disposed towards what comes: a disposition. A dispute: something is put there and then something else dis-puts what was put there. Something dis-positions what was positioned somewhere. Something deposes what was posed there. Auseinandersetzung: dispute (and Heidegger´s translation of choice for the polemos).

Such quietism is a state that cannot be forced (or ruled) but that could be encouraged (or insinuated). It is about not governing the space of thoughts and then leaving it to be up for grabs, left to the devices of receptivity. Hosting involves some resignation, but the resignation in question is like the floor´s: it swallows everything, it doesn´t accept whatever is placed to cover it. Quietism is really about the politics of thought with respect to its objects. It suggests that thought leaves its space loose, to be occupied - an open space where things can come and nest. A space with no barbed wire fences, no borders. We then compared Manuel de Barros with Pessoa´s heteronyms, Alberto Caeiro. He preaches non-thought, thought is an obstacle to receptivity drawn from a desire to govern, a desire for autonomy. He goes on saying that nature, just like a territory for thought, doesn´t exist as a repository for things. Thought and nature are no more than assemblages. And yet, he thinks non-though is natural.

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