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Showing posts from December, 2010

The peace of the polemos

Been thinking a lot about peace - result of being in Beirut, crossing middle east borders, watching the last interview with Edward Said (by ICA) and having experiences like stepping on a giant Israeli flag placed in the floor of a crowded street in Damascus (official and compulsory hatred, of course). Peace not as an absence of conflict but rather as a mode of the polemos, a style for conflict (in the beautiful phrase suggested yesterday to me by my friend Monica Udler). Peace as something that is constantly weaved, not the peace of heavens or that of cementaries (those two often seem the same). Any conflict can be unproductive or merely destructive. In this case, of the conflicting part at most one will have the chance to survive or come to light. Peace could be thought not as the opposite of violence, but as the opposite of prevailing. Like being in line with the productive character of the polemos, the disruptive capacities of conflict. Yes, it is there to disrupt, not to make any f

Jones By The Way in Beirut

Last week I met Ray Brassier in the By The Way bar in Hamra, Beirut. He is quite an admirer of Sellars and has misgivings with the word speculation as it appears in expressions like "speculative realism", Didier Debaise's "speculative empiricism" or "speculative turn". He doesn't seem to share a lot of enthusiasm for the works of Latour and Stengers. Yet, he somehow believes that metaphysics is unavoidable. The interesting conversation around Sellars made me remember my problems with the myth of Jones. I tend to think that Jones would be either a genius who introduced mental vocabulary in the Rylean ancestor's language or he would be a discoverer of mentality but in the latter case not so much of a genius. In order for Jones to be a discoverer, there should be mentality there in the first place, in the Rylean ancestors and that could not be a private issue as that would fly on the face of the basic Wittgensteinian points. I do like the idea tha

Becoming the enemy

Beware your enemies. They slowly become part of you, An enemy is somebody who is too intimate, too close, with whom you exchange your hate, and your fear, and with whom you make alliances in order to keep fighting. one cannot be at an arm's distance with their enemies, as they compel, they force their presence, they are engaged in a relation of becoming. Becoming has no contract and takes place through contact - and intimate contact triggered by a sustained and focused hate is sometimes all it takes. Anthropologist Viveiros de Castro has a piece on groups in the low Amazon that are aware of their choice of enemies: they will end up eating them up. In Cairo and Beirut I keep bumping into a lot of the gestures that I find in the Israelis, those who eat (Lebanese) Houmous with (Egyptian) Tahine. Beware of your enemy, beware of what you eat. The israeli is also a product of their enemies. It is common now to point out that the Israelis act in ways that resemble the Germans. In particul

Lessons from a desertic ontology

A Cairo white taxi took us from Talat Harb to Gize, the last bit of boiling urban life before the three pyramids that still draw a border between the crowded town and the desert. We were then dragged into riding two camels, call them Bahr and Ocean to avoid their tourist sounding given names of Mickey Mouse and Ali Baba that they cutely didn't deserve. Fabi starting riding the Ocean while I was getting acquainted with Bahr. Bahr had a colourful woollen necklace and was the most resistant to kneel down to be burdened and unburdened. Ocean had an elegant tattoo in his back legs and had a subtle way of moving the feet to avoid stepping on the stones. They took us around the three pyramids, us eventually getting down and up again, guided by Muhammad, a boy who would crack all the language-free jokes he could, and Ali, the grown-up worried with time, money and other things that fill up the most expected quarters of a conversation. Eventually we swaped camels and I was then ridding on

Every object is a transcendental subject?

I'm in Cairo. Had lunch, almond tart and wine with Graham Harman. Recorded him answering questions for my project of a cartography of the current metaphysical renaissance with a camera. We were in a place called Estoril. The interview is going to come up soon, in some format. Been considering whether we can read some of the Kantian ideas as examples (or as first steps in a speculative operation, as Didier Debaise would prefer). Then talk about things-for-ourselves as opposed to things-in-themselves would be as much about us as about any other "us" (any other "ourselves"). Hence, things-for-bees, things-for-trees, things-for-ticks, things-for-a grain of salt. The distinction itself doesn't have to be human-centered: everything could be seen as a transcendental subject. Analogously, we can understand the old Vaihingen "as if" idea as applying to everything: it is as if blood is manioc beer for the jaguar and there is nothing else to blood but what it

Nothingness is the rubbish bin of metaphysics

Yes, creation is everywhere. But not ex-nihilo creation. To think of reality without a starting point is to think that the creation of something only happens from something else. It is to Darwinianize creation, if that makes sense: to think that there is no absolute raw material, everything can be used as building material, but nothing is raw. The idea of pure nothingness makes me think of the idea that we through things in the rubbish bin and they cease to exist. Nothingness is the rubbish bin of metaphysics. We through something there and it disappear from everyone's sight. When people say, prefer nothingness to being and therefore don't procreate, they are merely saying prefer to produce something instead of something else. I guess people would say that this way of understanding is blind to the ontic-ontological difference. I can grant that there is a difference. But if it is put in terms of pure nothingness, the difference collapses in the postulation of an external border