Thereare lots of fictions around Non-Philosophy.
We all know that this is anecessary part of François Laruelle’s work results. One explicit goal thatcan summarize both the way (the method) and the practice (the deed) of Non-StandardThought, being to set Philosophy free through the recourse of Philo-Fictions, orthrough its metamorphosis/transvaluation into Fiction. And as far as we canpoint to, this leads philosophical thoughts to both invention and harmlessness,to leave both powers and shackles of Sufficiency, i.e. to recognize and to renew the usage of Decision inside Thoughtthrough a process of weakening Philosophy, or, as Laruelle tells: a proposal to degrowth (Aksayam 2012)1.
Nonethelessthis freedom of invention, which can also be described, we now know this toowell, as a Redemption for the Hell of a World that we live in, has a price, theprice that has to be paid to Rigor. And when we are talking about an axiomaticmethod, Rigor is the non-thetic name of Truth, although we might not be ableanymore to bear such a theoretical burden that comes nowadays with that name.Assertions about Non-Philosophy are not assertions about the World, i.e.
about Philosophy, and even lessassertions from Philosophy – at thevery least we should have to be careful, methodologically careful, about themnot to be so. But one trap that we always have to face inside thenon-philosophical matrix, is that we have to deal with two-sided descriptions,and unsymmetrical. The unbalanced price of the rigorous Unilaterality that wetake in, that we greet as an eminent process of the Real, or as an emanatingeffect that circumscribes it from the ground of descriptions… Mostof us, especially since 1996’s Principlesof Non-Philosophy which opened, with Theoryof the Stranger, the third age of the philosophies that Laruelle used to distinguishinside his own work, have welcome and even have acclaimed the statement thatNon-Standard Thought was the long-awaited device (messianic?) for settingDemocracy among thoughts. And that is precisely the meaning that we perceive inthe title of the rightly well-known essay signed by John Ó Maoilearca in 2015: All Thoughts are Equal.
Yet, regardingto the rigorous mechanisms that lead to this result, and keeping in sight the complextwo-sided descriptions that non-philosophical propositions always involve (orimport inside their utterance), we have to remember that Laruelle’s work, fromthe very beginning of his writings, is more about Sovereignty, and releasing aradical affect of subordination inside experience, than about Democracy orequality of status inside Thought. We cannot ignore that Unilaterality is about undisputable hierarchy, or act as if not. Undisputableat first because far from the reach of any contortion of Logos: the One forbids Agora, and incapacitates its pretentions torule any aspect of the Real. Impregnable because putting an absolute one-waydirection inside causality (but maybe rather “inventing” than “putting”, if onewould argue over lexicon); one-way in such an extent that what we now are usedto naming The Last Instance determines its effects without being even known asa cause by whatever undergoes its determination. Here is the strict formulationof what Laruelle early used to call, in an obvious Deleuzian reference andcontinuity, the process of machinicsyntaxes, which were described according to the causality from the Other orfrom the Differance: x distinguishesitself from y which does not distinguish itself from it2. Mostof the present-day readers of Laruelle, especially in the English-speakingareas because of a lack of accessible translations, may feel this posture, orthis reading of Non-Philosophy’s statements, as being a little bit too much ofa Nietzschean taste. After all, Laruelle’s recent publications, especially sincethe “amplification of Non-Philosophy” he has accomplished by quantum collidinginside a generic matrix of thought, have implied a radical stepping beyondprevious formulations of his work (Laruelle 2010).
But we could consider thisas a second trap that any attempt at catching up with Non-Philosophy’stheoretical discourse has to face, but a more external trap than the genuinetwo-sided complex representations at which we were pointing in the lines above.This trap could be identified as a systematic-axiomatic illusion, thetemptation to receive the internal consistency of the axiomatic device, itsinside structural rigor, as having no genetic display or no historical manifestation,i.e. the belief that the theoreticalbuilding is given as a whole as such immediately and the denial that it is theresult of a long lasting work: a characterized confusion between the experienceand the production of its description which brings to the naïve belief in asheer elimination of one step of Non-Philosophy by the following one. Thereis no concept more Deleuzian-Nietzschean, although it is early dressed withinthe Marxist name of Determination in the Last Instance, than the concept of Unilateralityto describe the specific deconstructive causality that stirs Laruelle since hisinitial publications3. Theunilateral syntax of sovereignty (already two-sided as it is implied inside theDerridean protocol of supplementation) goes through the prior period ofPhilosophy 1 until it coagulates with the problematic of Finitude, whichculminates with the question of Power and Mastery: how to articulate a theoretical matrix that embodies its ownfinitude inside the laws of its machinic functioning with the initial Heideggerianquestionings which launched Laruelle’s research: which is the principle of production and reproduction of the variousmeanings of Being? Which is the law of the authentic functioning of theeffects-of-Being, that combines the destruction of their metaphysical andrepressive forms with the production of these effects as such4?(Laruelle 1974, 2) Theturn into Philosophy 2, in the early 80’s, coincides with the renunciationof formulating this principle of Finitude from inside Philosophy and with theacceptance/discovery that this Finitude shall be absolutely immanent only ifreceived from outside Philosophy and Logos.From the point of view of Philosophy, a turn from an internal Finitude to anexternal Finitude. But from a non-philosophical position of vision, atheoretical correction accorded with a lived and contemplative affect ofIndifference that defines in new terms a Science and its own Force (of) Thought,a Science that turns Philosophy into a mere object which can be henceforthtreated as a material and can be incomparably invented from now on.
Butthis affect as such is no affect of Democracy. As described as a pure affect(of) impregnable self inherency without content nor predicate, it is an affectof Solitude and Uselessness (Laruelle 1996, 168), an affect of division whoseCut Philosophy cannot bear, whose sovereign inertia Philosophy cannot stand, especiallysince Philosophy represses its transcendental need for this engine of Othernessas a function in its own economy of movement and becoming (for instance, inLaruelle’s Philosophy 1 case, the question of which energetic libido drivesany deconstructor at labour). Thereis no way which leads with means of equality to a theoretical position whereSolitude is freed from Reciprocity. How could we set unilateral freedom ofcausality, unreciprocal determination, by any kind of democratic interplay?Indifference is the very trait of Sovereignty. The Nietzschean luxury to chooseone’s enemy without being exposed to be chosen by anything, anyone, to be theenemy accepting as valuable events the attacks that one undergoes (there arecountless metaphorical variations in Nietzsche’s writings about this elitistcausality). Actually,we cannot deny that Non-Philosophy provides equality and Democracy. But it is avery strange kind of.
As being a Democracy among Philosophies’ discourses andprocedures, it is more akin to a Democracy of Subordinates, the achievement ofequality among subalterns. From an aristocratic posture, in the way Deleuzecould have expressed this in his anti-Hegelian Nietzsche and Philosophy, we could say that all Slaves are equal (specifically from the master’s perspectives –Deleuze 1962, part 1, chap. 4). Because if theory attains to makePhilosophies equal, this is only from a non-philosophical radical hierarchy, anaffectively lived one. In that sense, we probably shouldn’t talk aboutequality, but rather talk about equanimity, which is one true name ofIndifference; “being equal” in French literally meaning “not mattering”. Yet,since Philosophy becomes inside Non-Standard Thought both an object of interestfor a new science and a raw material for experimenting invention throughfictionalizing Decision (especially as an art of axiomatics), we must be moreaccurate in our formula; the right way to say, rather than talking of Slaves,being: All Guinea Pigs are equal,equal in front of a non-standard posture about which we cannot ignore the useit makes since the turn into Philosophy 3 of a strange unquestionedunethical metaphor to describe an effect of its immediate syntax of device: cloning.
(as a reminder, Dolly thefamous sheep, now taxidermied and resting at the National Museum of Scotland,was born by cloning, using the process of nuclear transfer, precisely in 1996;this scientific issue was on everyone’s lips when Laruelle was writing – andteaching – the Principles…5) Infact, and to get to an end with this matter, rather than All thoughts are equal, we should understand all Worlds are equal, because, in the frame of Non-Philosophy, allthoughts are not. Unless we consider the Vision-in-One not to be a thought, eventhough a very lonely and very hieratic one. Here lies a picky issue ofdefinition, concerning what Non-Philosophy considers as being Thinking,concerning what borders it draws (if so) between Thought and Experience orlived, concerning if it limits Thought to the only domain of Intuition or if itconfines the task of Non-Philosophy not to be anymore Heideggerian “thinkingThought”, purposed to destroy theonto-theo-logical repression of Being’s Sovereignty of production, theoppression of Metaphysics which has always lived on the repression of theseproductive effects-of-Being, and to derive from Being a brand new jouissance(Laruelle 1974, 3). Atleast we already know that non-philosophical thought is described by Laruelleas un-reflected, non-egological, without repeatings, and that it stands as awhole with the given-without-givenness, as a consequence of the fact (thelived) that the given-without-givenness shows itself rather (from) itself and consequently through the form of thethought of which it is cause (Laruelle 1996, 122).
And this thought,without affirmation nor negation, without any kind of position, mere and”neutral”, enjoys clearly a different status, because it invalidates everyobjections brought by the philosophical thought. That is precisely the terms ofan essential asymmetry between obvious different kinds of thought, if notdifferent natures or essences. Theonly very reason why we stomach this blatant lack of Democracy in thenon-standard apparatus, the only reason why we tolerate it, and even are proneto support it, is because the undisputable hierarchy that it builds places anabsolute lack of contents, a radical void of attributes and an indescribableabsence of self-consistency or self-sufficiency, at the position of unilateralDetermination, which is a position of absolute (auto)nomy, absolutesovereignty, if not (precisely because it consists of no substance) absolutetyranny. Is it what Derrida was tempted to see as a transcendental reign ofterror in Laruelle own practice?…
(Laruelle & Derrida, 1988) Admittedly,being invisible, being intangible, being impregnable, being immaterial orunsubstantial, i.e. being radicallyelusive, cannot be described as an authoritarian position, or as an aggressivepotential, but neither can it be denied to be a radical power. The radicalpower to drive anything or anyone powerless. There are numerous mundanerepresentations of such power, or of the endeavour to reach it somehow, fromthe Marvel mutant character Kitty Pride to the fog-convertible Count Dracula,from the martial art of Aikido to the unspeakable truth of Tao, from Christiannegative theology to the uncategorizable and unfigurable God within Muslimtraditions…
In the ability not to support any predicate, i.e. in the capacity to avoid being an object in any way – even inthe dual and circular contemporary mode –, lies the power to thwart anyintention, to defeat any law, to frustrate any knowledge, even, in the epistemo(logical)case of Non-Philosophy, to escape any intuition. Theabsolute hierarchy that such a power lavishes is tolerable in a democraticdevice only because of emptiness, only because of an essential disruptive breakaway.
But on the other hand it is its tight (rather than hermetic) emptiness thatprovides its utter power. Here we begin to catch some of its immanence exactsyntax. Yet we are also able to discern that this power, which deeply lies indisappointment, is rather radical than it is absolute, in the sense that itneeds an occasion (an intention, the beginning of an attempt, the habits of apractice or the reflex of a movement) to be exerted, to affect anything oranyone. Indifference meaning nothing without a stimulus to experience it or tosort of trigger it, to manifest it as an effect, even from a cause identifiedwith its foreclosure.
With these lines, we attain precisely the terms thatredistribute the respective positions and functions of transcendence andimmanence inside the model that Philosophy 3 displays in the 90’s. ButLaruelle goes further. Not only this Sovereignty gets its power and itsultimate hierarchic position in the sequence of determinations from itsabsolute weakness and inconsistency, its allergy or its immunity to any predicates,any content, any objectification or any self-intuitive fold, – Laruelle alsoprevents it from ever being privatized or appropriated – even by science itself(as he acknowledges Philosophy 2 being too near to such a risk (Laruelle1996, 59)). UnilateralSovereignty, as a pure dispersive efficiency, as an absolute repulsive might,as the causality of the unconditional Otherness that refuses ontologicaldeterminations (of knowledge, of mastery, of Being as the ultimate frame ofPhenomenology…), has already been used and defined in former ways as a toolof exception, in Levinas for example, enabling Jewishness to avoid therequisition from philosophical Greekness (and here stands the messianic featureof revolutionary discontinuity, as Ernst Bloch, for example, has shown aboutThomas Münzer6).And we could somehow describe the same uses nowadays around Blackness and thedevelopment of Radical Black Thought.
Absolute Sovereignty is of great use, orcarries great positions of freedom, in the formalization of a process ofdecolonization of thought and feelings. But from a Non-Philosophical point ofappreciation, these remain local deconstructive praxes, mid-term recourses, andunrigorous depiction, if not fraudulent extortion of the non-mundane Force (of)Thought in the name of one remnant predicate. Theunilaterally sovereign One doesn’t share (or if so, only by an illusory residueinvolving a theoretical incompleteness) its indivisible power (of) effect withany predicate withdrawn from Logos orfrom World, and it belongs to none. Even when Laruelle grants this Sovereigntyto ordinary man, or to man-in-man, he exposes Non-Philosophy to an accusationof anthropocentrism (and what John Ó Maoilearca’s work raises in his book isprecisely the possibility of a non-human thinking from inside non-standardmatrix). The One, and its slightest epekeinomorphic divergence in regard toPhilosophy, holds sway, from an absolutely privileged position in a hierarchictopology of thought, over the only empty cell (of) Real that it (is) among aneutralized Hell of ideological mesh of illusions, of philosophical compound ofdenials and of dizzying mixes of transcendences in which consists ourtheoretical World. But what the One holds sway (over), prior to whatever and inthe last instance, is itself – because of its mystic inherence (to) itself. Andas such, it is subordinate, and at a pinch even coordinate, to nothing. Theimpregnable asymmetry and the absolutist haughtiness which characterize thesyntax of the theoretical structure described above might surprise many ofLaruelle’s present-day readers, especially those who had the chance toencounter him and to get acquainted with the discrete and nice person he is,even more the few who had the chance to listen to his teachings or to work withhim in anyway.
Even when dealing with a highly technical point of metaphysics,or explaining the traits of some thinkers which he would work to analyse orcriticise or deepen, Laruelle has always appeared to be far from arrogance,self sufficiency or contempt. Yet there are obvious traces of prowess ofNietzscheism inside Philosophy 1, and there is flagrant condescendencetoward philosophers’ self-deception or semi-blindness when he analyses (andsharply abstracts) the mechanisms of their processes throughout most of hisbooks, and sometimes with an amusingly cruel shark pen. Let’s quote one of thisimpressive purple patch to give a taste of the initial aggressive-affirmativestyle which Laruelle was using in his prior works in the neighbourhood ofDeconstructionism and Differentialism; he is dealing at this moment withancient doctrines of liberation (Marxism, Pychoanalysm) which yet require theapology, voluntary or not, of the Master (and the auto-position of Mastery) asa visage of the reactive Other inspiring love rather than subversion:1 All quotes, unless indicated, will be translated by myself, and allreferences will be taken from French original editions and paginations.2 This axiom is initially taken from The Decline of Writing (Laruelle 1977), but the oldest formulationof this syntactic matrix can be found in Laruelle’s PhD dissertation: “theseries of emissions (noeses) only moves forward by following the traces of theother of which it distinguishes itself at the same time it is identical to it,but more powerful, more sovereign, never separated from what it produces.”(Laruelle 1974, p. 183), and we can read the same syntax published for thefirst time in Textual Machines andapplied to define the term machinicas specifying a functioning of drives: “the effect of a drive distinguishesitself from this drive which do not distinguish itself from its effect”(Laruelle 1976, 10)3 It is hard to identify quickly inside Nietzsche’s work, becauseNietzsche is quite obsessive about causality (just having a look at The Joyful Science, frg. 112, 127,217, 360, 374… illustrates this clearly enough), but the easy reading of the 1st§ of Deleuze’s Difference and repetitionChapter I: “Difference in Itself” will convince anybody of what is taking placeat this very moment of European thought.
4 From an initial formalization of the syntactic essential processesof Deconstruction through the ontological embedding of Decline (i.e. Finitude as a becoming) – Declineof Writing, and thereupon of Hermeneutics –, Philosophy 1 can besummarized as the ornery attempt to melt the esoteric transcendental deviceshaped by both Nietzschean Will to Power and Eternal Recurrence (of the Same/asthe Other), with an active-affirmative interpretation of Finitude taken fromLevinas’ sharp demur to Phenomenology as an ethical ascendency ofpowerlessness.5 … and Laruelle has never spared in funny slightly cheesy referencesin his discourse.
In the 80’s, it was obvious for French ears that the acronymfor Non-Thetic Transcendence (Laruelle 1985) was referring to Trinitrotoluene,T.N.T., an explosive; but nowadays it rather indicates Digital TerrestrialTelevision..
. That is the sad becoming of humoristic otherness (thoughnon-autopositional) lost inside the coming and going waves of culture.6 We sure wait henceforth for a serious publication confrontingLaruelle and Bloch on Utopia, Ethics and futurability.