philosophy as not philosophy: para-ontology, hauntology, schizoanalysis

"Articulating the past historically does not mean recognizing it ‘the way it really was’. It means appropriating a memory as it flashes up in a moment of danger. Historical materialism wishes to hold fast that image of the past which unexpectedly appears to the historical subject in a moment of danger. The danger threatens both the content of the tradition and those who inherit it. For both, it is one and the same thing: the danger of becoming a tool of the ruling classes. Every age must strive anew to wrest tradition away from the conformism that is working to overpower it. The Messiah comes not only as the redeemer; he comes as the victor over the Antichrist. The only historian capable of fanning the spark of hope in the past is the one who is firmly convinced that even the dead will not be safe from the enemy if he is victorious. And this enemy has never ceased to be victorious."
- Walter Benjamin, Thesis VI

"The materialist doctrine concerning the changing of circumstances and upbringing forgets that circumstances are changed by men and that it is essential to educate the educator himself. This doctrine must, therefore, divide society into two parts, one of which is superior to society. The coincidence of the changing of circumstances and of human activity or self-changing can be conceived and rationally understood only as revolutionary practice."
- Karl Marx, Thesis III

Monday, March 26, 2007

Desire and the Question

In Difference and Repetition, Deleuze describes an unconscious that is composed of problems and questions; more precisely, a problematic field whose terms (problems) are distributed in the wake a question that is always displaced, out of place in its place, constantly mobilized in an evasion and escape. Problems show up as disguised, masked components of reality that share a clandestine solidarity, connected through lines of alliance drawn by the obscure movements of the question. The 'secret' that they share in is no more than a concealed opening onto pure difference: behind every mask is only the disparate; never a 'true face', but rather only another mask, another disguise, an endless repetition of disguise.

What is hidden, left out, obscured, is no more than the (non)-being or extra-being of the question: the disparate in itself. It is that pure opening of the question onto the yet to come - not any answer, real or possible, but that space of difference drawn by the desire to question, to bring forth something else. It is the force of desire that drives the question, always displacing it within the problematic field, thereby drawing this field as such and making of every problematic instance a disguise veiling the disparate. The disparate is the definitive characteristic of the question: the affirmation of chance, the aleatory instance in which all chance is affirmed and set free. The question, before seeking any specific answer, functions as an affirmation of any answer that might come, any approach, any complication that may, by chance, present itself. Insofar as the question affirms all of chance, all of the difference onto which it opens, it has the disparate at its heart as that ecstatic, vibrant, and untamable force of desire.

It is this force that is always displacing the question in the field it draws, and that is disguised in every problematic instance. Desire makes the real, 'makes the difference', through these elements of disguise and displacement: every component is itself a 'different' in relation to other 'differents' that hide no true face or identity, but only difference itself; this difference in itself is always displaced, in a movement that distributes the singular terms by virtue of their difference, abolishing all identity and resemblance. Every component exists only in terms of the problems in which it is implicated, and these problems exist only in the drawing of a problematic field by the question.

Hence, we have two figures of desire as it makes up the unconscious: the machinic components that disguise difference in intensive variations (stable states), connections and breaks of flows of force; and the instance of variation itself, bifurcation, in which the machinic connections are suspended and redistributed by the disjunctive synthesis of the Body without Organs. The problems or singular points, point-signs, whose constellation define the machinic components, compose a problematic field in the wake of the purely disjunctive instance of the question, the disparate or aleatory point. It is the composition of this field, and the conjunction of newly stabilizing states of solution (those generated by the distribution or 'posing' of problems) on it, that defines the cycle of the unconscious that 'terminates' in a nomadic subject capable of gathering or producing new problems and posing them through the instance of questioning.

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