Badiou's Gauntlet, the challenge that Badiou issues to any kind of philosophy, is that the categories are three. No more than three, but also no less than three. Badiou's Gauntlet is that there are bodies and languages, but also truths.
The challenge permeates all of Badiou's work. One particularly clear expression of it comes at the start of Logics of Worlds, where Badiou differentiates cleanly between the two-category thinkers and the three-category thinkers. The two-category thinkers claim that there are only bodies and languages, only two basic categories of existence. These “bodies and languages” may appear under any number of alternate names. Some philosophers talk about objects and relations, others about extension and thought. Some contemplate matter and mind, others wrestle with things and information. The names are not as important as the commitment they entail, that there are only two basic things in the world, only real entities and the languages through which they interrelate. Continue reading
I gave an interview to the Frankfurter Allgemeine, which was published over the weekend. (German only)
I recently interviewed Andrew Culp about his new book Dark Deleuze. Read the whole interview here.
Alexander R. Galloway: You have a new book called Dark Deleuze (University of Minnesota Press, 2016). I particularly like the expression “canon of joy” that guides your investigation. Can you explain what canon of joy means and why it makes sense to use it when talking about Deleuze?
Andrew Culp: My opening is cribbed from a letter Gilles Deleuze wrote to philosopher and literary critic Arnaud Villani in the early 1980s. Deleuze suggests that any worthwhile book must have three things: a polemic against an error, a recovery of something forgotten, and an innovation. Proceeding along those three lines, I first argue against those who worship Deleuze as the patron saint of affirmation, second I rehabilitate the negative that already saturates his work, and third I propose something he himself was not capable of proposing, a “hatred for this world.” So in an odd twist of Marx on history, I begin with those who hold up Deleuze as an eternal optimist, yet not to stand on their shoulders but to topple the church of affirmation.
In 1997 I quit my dot-com job and moved to North Carolina to study with Fredric Jameson. Nearly twenty years later I've managed to write something about him and explain why I find his work so valuable. It's been published in a special issue on Jameson published at Social Text. Read my piece "History Is What Hurts: On Old Materialism" along with excellent contributions by Jonathan Beller, Sulgi Lie, Amy Villarejo, Jennifer Bajorek, and Alberto Toscano, as well as an interesting new interview with Jameson conducted by issue editors Nico Baumbach, Damon Young, and Genevieve Yue. (If you're blocked behind the paywall just email me.)
One might query any contemporary artist and, as a kind of litmus test, ask the following series of questions: Do you think of yourself as primarily working “on” the digital or primarily “within” it? Is the computer incidental to your work, a tool like any other? Or is the computer at the heart of what you do? Shall art orient itself toward the digital? Or shall art merely live inside the digital, while concerning itself with other topics entirely?
Continue reading at e-flux
I'm pleased to announce that I'll be a Visiting Professor in the Department of Visual and Environmental Studies at Harvard University for Fall 2016. I'll be teaching an undergrad course on the "Digital Image," and a grad seminar titled "The Nonhuman: Aesthetics and Politics of Personhood." I look forward to working with the students and faculty in Cambridge, and will return to NYU in Spring 2017.
An experiment: Let's take the Principle of Sufficient Reason extremely literally. A common but unfortunate way of understanding the principle is to turn it into an explanatory narrative for how things were made or where they came from. “For any entity, there is a narrative that will explain why it exists and why it exists in this manner.”
Such an interpretation confuses the principle of sufficient reason and limits its utility. It reduces facticity to causality. It reduces givenness to a lurid narrative of origins. It shackles appearance to logic.
To avoid such an interpretation, the principle should be taken literally, that is, in terms of the co-presence of being and thought. “No actual entity, then no reason” (Whitehead). Being in the world requires thought in the world. Being-given requires thought-given. An entity requires a reason. To be with means to think with. Thus to follow the path of being also means to follow the path of co-thought, or com-putation. Continue reading
I've just begun a six week residency at MECS (Media Cultures of Computer Simulation) in Lüneburg, Germany. They have a series of talks and workshops scheduled including their annual conference on agent-based modeling, and I'll also be making side trips to a conference at the University of Konstanz and the European SLSA conference in Stockholm. I'm looking forward to making new connections and renewing old acquaintances while in Germany.
In recent years the name “Deleuze” has come to mean vitality, connectivity, affect, intensity, deterritorialization, machinic creativity, and, above all, compulsory positivity and obligatory joyfulness. In his new book, Andrew Culp returns to a different Deleuze, a dark Deleuze more intent on destroying worlds than creating them, more interested in cruelty than joy, more inspired by communism than democracy. It's one of the best texts on Deleuze I've read in quite some time -- highly recommended!
tl;dr the answer is: 0, 0, 1, 0, and 1. (That's no, no, yes, no, and yes.)
As with many questions of this nature -- where both the vocabulary and the material are subject to interpretation -- the answer depends a great deal on how one defines “digital” and how one reads Badiou's corpus vis-a-vis that definition. So let's look at a number of different ways to answer the question.
1) Is Badiou a philosopher of the digital? If we take a naive definition of the digital as “the tools and technologies of contemporary mass media” we get a naive answer: no. Badiou has almost nothing to say about mass media overall, and even less to say about contemporary computation or digitality in particular. Beyond a collection of incidental pieces on cinema, and beyond a series of essays and books on art and aesthetics -- a rich body of work focused largely on modernism -- Badiou has never written about media as such. (Someone please correct me if I've overlooked something.) Of course Badiou himself has written plays and novels, but this, again, does not constitute a theory of media, much less a theory of the digital. Continue reading