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The Great Outdoors and Geist

Been exploring the conflict between the general (cosmopolitical) tendencies of envisaging a future by entrenching humans in this planet or, in any case, in their territory on the one side and accelerating or intensifying a drive towards the artificial, the detterritorialized, the alien. The two cosmopolitical parties are, among many things, stances that arise from a rejection of human exceptionalism. Reza Negarestani argues that the best way to depart from the fixation on the human is neither to dissolve human features in what is also common to other animals, plants or minerals - the animist or the geontological line where humans are pictured as part of a somewhat panpsychist universe where they enjoy no special status - nor to produce artificial devices that will be the successors of humans in some sense while keeping their nature unchallenged. Negaretani rather chooses the Hegelian path of betting on the Geist as an abyss of negativity that permanently challenges not only human nature but nature in general. Geist appears as the very artifice contrasting with what is natural and its movements extend no special protection to any human feature (or to any centrality or exceptionality of the human). Geist is a building block for the inhumanist cosmopolitical party - albeit arguably not the only one - which contrasts to a party centered on territorialization. I also describe the latter as connected to the imaginary of the movement that gathered in Rio in 2014 in the A Thounsand Names of Gaia while the former is derivative of the Warwick´s CCRU images and terms. To be sure, there is much diversity both in the Rio and in the Warwick poles, but there is a friction when it comes to attaching or detaching to the territory and its natural inhabitants. It is perhaps a battle between earthbounds and humans in the Latour´s terms from his Gillford lectures of 2013 (see Facing Gaia); or perhaps a tension between physis and techné. In any case, I reckon it is a deep-seated contrast with roots in the 20th century and even before: think of the 1960´s tensions between civil rights and party politics on the one side and the movements of return to the land on the other or, more to the point, the tension between Marxism and the luddites in the 19th century. As I argued recently, a question arises as to whether a principled alliance could be built between these two cosmpolitical parties.

Chatting with André Arnaut yesterday, we considered my idea that indexicalism and the metaphysics of others - developed in Deictic Absolutes - could be of help. The main idea is that the Great Outdoors are actively part of what exists and therefore, the address of something with respect to what is outer is constitutive of what there is. The Great Outdoors is conceived in terms of a Levinasian absolute Other that has a mark on me - my subjectivity is from the beginning built on its traces - but I also intend to explore the Great Outdoors in terms of Derrida´s logic of the supplement, Bataille´s notion of excess and Severino´s conception of the inevitable horizon. In any case, the outer is constitutive and therefore the Great Outdoors is everywhere - it it is taken to be the drive of techné, it is not alien to physis. Well, it is arguably the drive of techné: the Great Outdoors is what creates the enterprise of knowledge - I think the Great Outdoors is the general economic point of departure for restricted responses like the project of metaphysics in the sense of Nietzsche´s nihilism read by Heidegger. Levinas argues that the Other is what brings about disagreement and the plurality of voices that are inevitable - a trace of alterity that constitutes knowledge. The Great Outdoors is what makes revision permanently required. It drives us out of anything Given, just like Geist. In other words, the transcendence of the outer plays much of the role that the abyss of negativity of Geist plays. The outer is perhaps a form of negativity, but it is surely a trace of infinity that shakes off what is established at any point. The negativity of Geist is perhaps a response to the openness of the Great Outdoors - in that case, it is the transcendence of the Other that presides the force of negativity.


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