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

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Paper Abstract - Strange Times: Aliens, Ghosts, and the Non-Event

This is my paper proposal for the CFP here, for the conference Affirmation, Negation, and the Politics of Late-Capitalism. Any questions or comments on the project are welcome.

"Strange Times: Aliens, Ghosts, and the Non-Event".

This paper will develop the concept xenoeconomics by way of a theory of temporality. This will proceed in three parts.

First, I will analyze Jacques Derrida's discussion of spectrality in Specters of Marx as a way of conceiving the time of speculative finance capital, which determines value as an infinitely postponed realization or redemption of debt. I will demonstrate the inadequacy of his formulation of the spectral dimension, and the necessity of supplementing it with another mode of spectrality. I will conjure this 'other specter' by way of challenging Derrida's readings of both Marx and Benjamin, and by drawing from their work, as well as that of Quentin Meillassoux.

Second, I will turn a closer eye on Meillassoux, and distinguish this other mode of spectrality, which I will also call ancestrality, from his version of the latter. I will bring up several points in After Finitude, concerning the temporal modality of the ancestral, that will lead me to complicate, if not disagree with, his arguments. I will then attempt to resolve this complication by reference to Giorgio Agamben's concept of operational time in The Time That Remains. This will allow me to present a consistent formulation of ancestral time, as distinct from correlational time, and the political consequences of this distinction.

Finally, I will bring the preceding analyses to bear on certain questions Adrian Johnston has raised concerning Alain Badiou's political ontology, and what he calls a ‘pre-evental discipline of time’. Xenoeconomic temporality, as I formulate it, can help us treat this problem, and the concrete issues of political praxis it entails. I will conclude by proposing a concept of the operational time of intervention, which will form the groundwork for a future critical engagement with Badiou, and for a political praxis indebted to his theory of the event, as well as to speculative realist philosophy.

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