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Monthly Archives: February 2011

“In a world full of violence, destruction and death, or “madness in every direction,” as Kerouac would have said, the subject becomes nothing but a projector of the evil within society.”
Cengiz Erdem

The Nihil Solipsist: a being that knows neither its own nothingness nor the dark self-cannibalizing force of all those others within; trapped within the introjected prison-house of an impure fear, bound to the cross of a symbolic gesture, tormented by the thought of its own paranoid-schizoid position this Nietzschean subject relishes the hunt as a repetition of the life-death drives it seeks to unleash at the hands of all those non-others within its own panopticon of deliriums. Cengiz Erdem in his essay The Nietzschean Subject tells us that the “paradoxical nature of the contemporary Nietzschean subject is a result of the turning of self into the other within in the process of becoming. The self of the present has not only become a prison-house of the others within itself but also it itself has become a self-contained monad with no relation to the outside and no awareness of the external world populated by the others’ selves.”

Erdem tells us that today everything has been reduced to the pure or impure exchange value of Capital; even the invention of subjectivity, which no longer touches the oldest of criteria: use value. Instead we have always already become a cog in the machine, a machinic subject, a zombified cogito serving the greater good of Capital itself. Like somnambulists in a dream matrix we have become the illusory beneficiaries of an inhuman thought:

“With societies based on exchange value the relationship between the subject and the object is confined in the paranoid-schizoid position. There remains no gap between the subject and the object when in fact there should be. Everything becomes a substitute for another thing and everything is substitutable. With the advance of global capitalism the subject itself becomes an object. The subject begins to act itself out as an object for the desire and consumption of the other. The subject becomes a substitute of itself.  With global capitalism the subject starts to feel itself as a machine; it becomes inorganic for itself when in fact it is essentially organic. In other words organs start to operate like non-organs, all organicity is replaced by inorganicity, life with death, and in this kind of a society everyone is always already dead.”

Consuming machines that we are we have been reduced to eating our own… shall I say it: shit! Instead of difference we have all become entrepreneurs of the self-same identity of Capital: trending our way to the avant-garde in our latest designer outfits we speak the local lingo like the good netizens we are, forging identities in a spurious masqueradism of conformity to the latest fashion boutique or philosophical blog, hip-hopping or rapping along to life’s happy nihilism like black metal fetishists apotropaically defending ourselves against the encrustations of an artificial slime world where the gods of filth and dionysian ecstasy infuse us with the abyss of the inhuman. Or, as Erdem defines it: “With the advance of global capitalism this herd-instinct can be said to have become nothing but a result of the exploitation of the life and death drives to reduce life to a struggle for and against life/death. The subject no longer has to carry the burden of being different. In this light and in this time we can see global capitalism creating not only the conditions of possibility for the subject to forget itself but also the conditions of impossibility for a remembrance of self, producing the non-knowledge of self as the counter-knowledge.”

Nietzsche‘s Ecce Homo has become for the new trend setters the glorious cookbook for ‘healthy living’, and all those pesky little ghosts of our forbears otherness has suddenly surprised us as the unmasking of our daily selves in the present. Erdem in a final colloquy relates that ”the the non-reason inherent in reason has become the reason itself, and yet the questions remain:

1. What can be learned from Nietzsche’s failure, which caused and continues to cause many other failures?

2. What are the conditions of possibility for a non-antagonistic and yet non-illusory relationship between the self and the other and how can they be sustained?

Those two questions could and should fill volumes, but being a small blog report upon the workings of such a fine mind we can only hope that Cengiz Erdem will be answering these either fully or partially in his upcoming book?

Addendum: Cengiz published another essay just after the previous one, Barbaric Regress and Civilised Progress contra Deconstruction and Affirmative Recreation, which offers some further reflection on the above topic.

via Dark Chemistry

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Excision Ethos: Flat Ontology and the Posthuman Object/Subject.

Intellectual Mitosis One does not have to do more than a cursory review of intellectual history to find intellectual bifurcations everywhere. There's nominalism vs. realism, rationalism vs. empiricism, analytic vs. continental, and so on. Earlier this month at the Claremont Conference Steven Shaviro nicely articulated the bifurcation between his position and Graham Harman's. Whereas the problem for Harman is how objects can enter into contact and communication with o … Read More

via Aberrant Monism

Alenka Zupančič On Comedy: <i>The Odd One In</i> I picked up (seemingly by chance) a new book by Alenka Zupančič – The Odd One In: On Comedy – and I have to say that I am very much enjoying it. Having only semi-read her book on Kant and Lacan, and honestly not remembering much from that reading, I was simply curious to see what she has to say about such an awkward topic as "comedy" – even though I've only gotten through Part I, it is amazingly erudite discussion of everything from more or less … Read More

via Perverse Egalitarianism

Laughing all the way to the Bank, and eating a Banker – Notes on Subversive Humour and Impossible Violence Events at the G20 protest in London simulate the possibilities of violence as an activist strategy that can step out of the trappings and co-optations of the binaries set up by the media-police. How can the symbolic mechanisms that prop up a hegemonic order be effaced? A partial, potential strategy is not one of opposition and realizable violence, but of and through intrusion and subtraction, which has the effect (not for the dim-witted) of defac … Read More

via counterrealism:

One form of disappointing realism, in my opinion, is the kind that cares more to valorize certain forms of knowledge than to safeguard the reality of the real. My views in this point are already known. The real is something never perfectly translatable, or even percentage-wise translatable into some model of it. This does not mean that the real is an ungraspable thing-in-itself with knowledge reduced to a relativist free-for-all. What it means, r … Read More

via Object-Oriented Philosophy

On The Idea of Communism Here is the speedy write-up of my notes from the three-day conference on The Idea of Communism, hosted by Slavoj Žižek at Birkbeck College, which included Judith Balso, Alain Badiou, Bruno Bosteels, Terry Eagleton, Peter Hallward, Michael Hardt, Toni Negri, Jacques Ranciere, Alessandro Russo, Alberto Toscano and Gianni Vattimo. I have only managed to type up my notes on a few of the papers, although I may try to add Judith Balso's a little later, … Read More

via Total Assault On Culture

Here's another one. All that business about Meillassoux's arch-fossil argument being so immensely and devastatingly novel that surely now all the idealists correlationists will die a horrible death reminded me of Lenin's Materialism and Empirio-criticism, a rather bombastic and, as some argued, not very deep philosophical book, written primarily for political reasons. Whatever the case may be, this is 1908 and here are a couple of quotes (Lenin h … Read More

via Perverse Egalitarianism

“Adrian Johnston’s newest book, Zizek’s Ontology, is an impressive attempt at systematizing Zizek’s notoriously hyperactive writing style. Focused on developing a “transcendental materialist theory of subjectivity” – i.e. an ontology capable of accounting for how subjectivity can emerge from an asubjective realm of matter – Johnston places Zizek’s work squarely in line with the contemporary materialists. As we will see, this perhaps raises some issues about whether Johnston/Zizek can meet the requirements of a truly materialist ontology set out by Ray Brassier (via appropriations of Francois Laruelle and Quentin Meillassoux), but regardless, Johnston’s work presents a huge rejoinder to both naive cultural studies proponents of Zizek and overly simply critics of Zizek. Cutting through the myriad of pop culture references and political interventions, Johnston aims at the heart of Zizek’s philosophical project – a re-reading of German idealism (specifically, Kant, Schelling & Hegel) through Lacanian psychoanalysis.”

the accursed share: Zizek and Materialism.

Several points in the post are indebted to discussions here and here. Derrida’s notion of language play and the purported death of the transcendental signifier seems to have anchored narratology, as it is understood in cultural studies and many veins of literary studies, in the swamp of post-structuralism. Furthermore, the phenomenological and post-Kantian articulation of experience as existence can, as Ray Brassier indirectly argues, can be cons … Read More

via Naught Thought

Bir zamanlar Kıbrıs “Akdeniz’in ortasındaki batmaz uçak gemisi” diye anılırdı. İngiliz-Amerikan emperyalizmi ile Sovyet bloğunun tahtaravallisi, dünyanın en hassas çatışma/ denge noktalarından biriydi yeşil ada. Emperyalist güçlerin kendi oyunlarını Türkiye ve Yunanistan üzerinden kurdukları; o zamanlar iç içe yaşayan Rum ve Türk halklarını birbirlerine karşı kışkırtarak kanlı provokasyonlarla, Rum ve Türk faşist örgütlenmelerinin önayak olduğu katliamlarla, Akdeniz’deki üstünlüklerini ve de üslerini korudukları kritik bir bölgeydi.

Gençler bilmez, ortayaşlılar bile ayrıntıları hatırlamaz. Benim kuşağım “Kıbrıs Türktür, Türk kalacaktır” mitingleriyle, “Ya Taksim ya ölüm” sloganlarıyla “Kızıl Papaz Makarios” söylemiyle  yetişmiştir. Sonraları, yeşil adanın nasıl kana bulandığını, çözümsüz bir sorunlar yumağına nasıl dönüştürüldüğünü, yani Kıbrıs gerçeğini Kıbrıslı arkadaşlarımdan, yoldaşlarımdan dinledim. Yetinmedim kitaplar okudum. Kıbrıs’a birkaç kez gidip her iki kesimdeki insanlarla, siyasal akımların temsilcileriyle, sosyalistlerle, aydınlarla tanıştım. Kıbrıs konusunda ne kadar yanlış bilgilendirildiğimizi, gerçeklerin ne kadar çarpıtıldığını, orada ne büyük oyunlar döndüğünü kavradım. Başbakan Erdoğan’ın Kıbrıslılar hakkındaki talihsiz yorumları, konuyu yeniden hatırlattı; bildiklerimi, sezdiklerimi paylaşmak istedim.

Kıbrıs Nasıl Türkleştirildi?

Burada Kıbrıs tarihini etraflıca hatırlatacak ne yer, ne de benim Kıbrıs tarihi uzmanlığım var. Ancak yıllardır bizlere yutturulan “Kıbrıs Türktür ve milli davamızdır” propagandasının içyüzünü anlamadan olup bitenleri kavramak pek mümkün değil. Önce kısaca ifade etmek gerekirse, Kıbrıs Türk değildir, Türkleştirilmiştir. Adanın yerlisi Kıbrıslılar, ister Türk ister Rum olsunlar, kimliklerini her zaman Kıbrıslı olarak ifade etmişlerdir. Kıbrıs Türkü sözü bile çok daha sonraki dönemlerde çıkmıştır ortaya.

Milattan önce Fenikelilerden başlayıp Ege, Yunan, Asur, Pers medeniyetleri, sonra Bizans, daha sonra Lüzinyanlar, 1489’dan sonra Venedikliler, coğrafi konumu yüzünden başı dertten kurtulmayan Kıbrıs adasında hakimiyet kurdular, 1571’de Ada’nın yönetimi Osmanlılara geçti. Osmanlı fetih yoluyla elde ettiği topraklara Anadolu’dan 20 bin kadar Müslüman Türk nüfus yerleştirdi. 1878’de Ada İngilizler tarafından işgal edildi, Osmanlı, anlaşmayla Ada üzerindeki haklarından vazgeçti. Kıbrıs’ın bu statüsü 1923’te Lozan antlaşmasıyla da onaylandı. Türkiye Cumhuriyeti Ada üzerinde hak iddia etmediği gibi Kıbrıslı Türkler meselesi de gündeme getirilmedi. 1960 yılına kadar İngiliz sömürgesi olarak kalan Kıbrıs 1960 sonrasında bağımsız devlet oldu. Ama tabii ki, oldu da olamadı. ABD emperyalizmi ve NATO çerçevesinde İngiltere, Yunanistan ve Türkiye Ada’da garantör devlet ilan edildiler. Sonraki yıllarda ise Ada’nın Türklerle Rumların birarada yaşayacakları bağımsız ve bağlantısız bir ülke olmasının önüne geçmek için, bir yandan Emperyalist güçler, NATO; öte yandan Yunanistan’ın ve Türkiye’nin askercil, faşizan, milliyetçi çevreleri ellerinden geleni ardlarına koymadılar. En önemli silahları iki halkı birbirlerine düşürmekti. Yunanistan’a ilhakı (enosis’i) amaçlayan Rum EOKA ile, Türk Gladyosuyla aynı dönemlerde ve iç içe  kurulan Denktaş liderliğindeki Türk Mukavemet Teşkilatı (TMT) bu görevi silahlı, kanlı ve başarılı (!) biçimde gerçekleştirdiler. Cinayetler, toplu katliamlar, nice faili meçhuller yaşandı. Çok kaba fırça darbeleriyle çizmeye çalıştığım tabloyu tamamlamak için, 1960- 70’lerde Ada’da güçlü bir solun varlığını ve Kıbrıs Komünist Partisi AKEL’in Türk ve Rum üyeleriyle Ada’nın bağımsızlığı ve bağlantısızlığını savunarak, neredeyse seçim kazanacak güce ulaştığını da söylemek gerek.

1974’te faşist Sampson’un; Kıbrıs Cumhuriyeti’nin başkanı Makarios’u bağlantısızlara yaklaşması ve AKEL’le yakınlaşması nedeniyle darbeyle devirmesi üzerine, Ecevit hükümeti garantörlük statüsüne dayanarak 1974 Temmuzu’nda Ada’ya askeri müdahalede bulundu. Türkiye’nin müdahalesi sonucunda faşist Sampson’la birlikte Yunanistan’daki faşist Albaylar Cuntası da devrildi. EOKA’cı Rumların giderek artan saldırılarına maruz kalan Kıbrıs Türklerini koruma gerekçesiyle geçekleştirilen bu müdahaleden sonra, Türk ordusu gerekli önlemler ve anlaşmalar sağlanarak geri çekileceğine hemen ardından ikinci müdahale geldi ve Ada’ya yerleşen Türkiye, uluslararası hukuka ve Birleşmiş Milletler’e göre “işgalci devlet” olarak bölünmüş, parçalanmış Kıbrıs’ta varlığını bugüne kadar sürdürdü.

1974 Kıbrıs harekatının ardından Kıbrıs’a Türkiye’nin dört bir yanından nüfus aktarıldı ve gelenlere ayrıcalıklar sağlandı. Güney’e çekilen Rumlardan boşalan mülklere Türkiye’den gelenler el koydu. Asker-sivil erkân; evler, villalar, arsalar, bahçeler edindi. 1974’te Kıbrıs Türklerinin toplam nüfusu 150 bin kadarken, bunların özellikle üst gelir gruplarından 40 bini aşkını Türk ordusunun adaya yerleşmesinden sonra Kıbrıs’dan ayrıldı, çoğu İngiltere’ye göç etti. “Beyaz Kıbrıslı”ların kendilerini her zaman İngiltere’ye daha yakın hissettiklerini, Adalı Türklerin Türkiye’ye hiçbir zaman özel bir yakınlık duymadıklarını da burada belirtmekte yarar var. Türkiye’den başka bir ülkenin resmen tanımadığı Kuzey Kıbrıs Türk Cumhuriyeti’nin nüfusu, 2006 yılı resmi verilerine göre 245 bin civarındaydı. Kıbrıslıların ifadelerine göre,Türkiye’den özellikle de son on beş yılda gelenlerin önemli bölümü resmi kayıtlarda yer almadığından, Kuzey Kıbrıs’ın nüfusu halen 300 bini aşmış durumda. Kıbrıslı genç nüfusun Ada’dan ayrılma ve Avrupa ülkelerine göç süreci devam ettiğinden, yapılan hesaplara göre, şu andaki nüfusun üçte ikisinden fazlası, 1974’ten sonra çeşitli dalgalar halinde Ada’ya gelip yerleşen Türkiyelilerden ve onların çocuklarından oluşuyor. Özetle 1974’ten sonra, Kuzey Kıbrıs’ı Türkleştirme politikası başarıya ulaşmış görünüyor.

Çözümsüzlüğü Yaratan Zihniyet

Türk derin devletinin Kıbrıs stratejisini çözümsüzlük üzerine kurduğu; Kıbrıs’ta çözümü engellemek için sadece politik oyunlarla yetinmeyip daha 1950 ortalarından itibaren, zaman zaman kanlı eylemlere, manipülasyonlara, provokasyonlara başvurduğu, konuyu yakından izleyenler için bilinmedik şeyler değil. Denktaş’ta temsilcisini bulan zihniyeti ve ardındaki örgütlenmeyi devletin darbeci, vesayetçi, statükocu geleneğinden ayrı düşünmek mümkün olmadığı gibi, derin devletten ve onun Gladyo, Özel Harp Dairesi, vb aygıtlarından ayırmak da mümkün değildir. Kişiler, yöntemler, kurumlar iç içe geçmiştir. Binlercesi arasından sadece bir örnek: Halen Ergenekon davalarından tutuklu Türk Metal Sendikası Başkanı Mustafa Özbek’in Kıbrıs’ta kendi adını taşıyan sözde eğitim tesislerinden Abdullan Çatlı başta olmak üzere kimlerin geçtiği, Kuzey Kıbrıs kumarhanelerinde kimlerin neler döndürdüğü, faili meçhullerin izlerinin kimlere uzandığı Susurluk raporlarından  Kıbrıs’da bulunmuş emekli paşaların hatıratlarına, akademik çalışmalardan gazete haberlerine, çeşitli belge ve kaynaklarda yer alıyor.

Denktaş’ın Kıbrıs’ı AB’ye Türk ve Rum kesimleriyle bir bütün olarak sokacak Annan planını sabote etmek için yıllar boyunca verdiği uğraş; görüşmeleri kimi zaman katılmayarak, kimi zaman hastalanarak (!), katıldığında da uzlaşmaz tavırlarla baltalaması; hem Ada’nın hem de Türkiye’nin AB’ye giriş sürecini tıkamak için elinden geleni ardına koymaması ilgilenenlerin hafızalarındadır. Referandumlar öncesinde, Annan planının her iki tarafça kabulüne çok yaklaşıldığı bir dönemde, yine hastalık bahanesiyle ortadan yok olan Denktaş’ı temsilen yurtdışına giden Kıbrıs konusundaki baş danışmanı Mümtaz Soysal’ın havaalanında söylediği “imzalamamaya gidiyorum” sözünü unutmak da mümkün değildir. Dönemin Cumhurbaşkanı A.Necdet Sezer’in, Denktaş’ın yerine seçilen yeni Kıbrıs Cumhurbaşkanı Mehmet Ali Talat’a aylarca randevu vermezken, aynı günlerde Denktaş’ı kırmızı halılar sererek Köşk’te kabul etmesinin neyin mesajı olduğu da herkesin malumudur. T.C. devletinin hiç iyi gözle bakmadığı Annan planına onay, Kıbrıs’ta statükonun sarsılması ve AB yanlısı eğilimler derin devlet tarafından kuşkuyla izlenmiş, başarısızlığı için elden gelen arkaya konmamış; o sıralarda sorunun çözümünden yana görünen AKP, başta CHP ve askeri kanat olmak üzere bütün “ulusalcı” güçler tarafından Kıbrıs’ı satmakla, Türkiye’nin bölgedeki çıkarlarını sarsmakla, hatta ihanetle suçlanmıştır.

Eğer Ergenekon veya adı her neyse Türk Gladyosu’nu ortaya çıkarmaya ve defterini dürmeye gerçekten niyet edilmiş olsaydı, o davanın Kıbrıs’a uzanması kaçınılmazdı. Nitekim bir ara gündeme gelen ve Denktaş’ı telaşlandıran böyle bir söylenti veya niyet, hemen ört bas edilmiştir. Özetle Kıbrıs, Türk derin devletinin ve onun operasyonel aygıtlarının en önemli merkez üslerindendir.

Kıbrıslılar artık vesayet istemiyor

Başbakan Tayyip Erdoğan’ın; bunca yıldır her türlü çirkin politikaya ve kanlı oyunlara alet edilmeye çalışılmış, önleri kesilmiş, yoksullaştırılmış çilekeş Kıbrıs Türk kesimi halkına reva gördüğü muamele, kullandığı dil, aşağılayıcı söylem, -onun sık sık kullandığı tabirle- kimse kusura bakmasın ama çok talihsiz, ayıp ve haksızdır. O insanları bu hale düşüren Türk devletinin bizzat kendisidir. Oraya yüzbinlerce Türkiyeliyi yığarak, bunu neo-kolonizatör bir devlet politikası haline getirerek, Kuzeydeki Rum mülklerini Türkiyeli bürokratlara, yüksek rütbelilere veya gizli görevlerdeki üst düzey zevata peşkes çekerek, 30 bini aşkın ordu mensubunu ve bir o kadar da çeşitli gizli teşkilat mensubunu besleyerek, Kıbrıslılara işgal ülkesinin yerli halkı veya kapıkulu muamelesi yaparak, en önemlisi de Türk kesimini dünyadan izole ederek, bugünkü çıkmazı ve tepkileri devlet  yaratmıştır.

Kendilerini Adalı olarak tanımlayan gerçek Kıbrıslı Türkler, kurtarıcı Türkiye’nin kalıcı işgalciye dönüşmesine her zaman karşı çıkmışlardır. Türkiye’den getirilip Ada’ya yerleştirilen nüfusun özellikle ikinci kuşağı umut ettiği özgür, bağımsız ve müreffeh ülkeye kavuşamamış, tek çıkış yolu gördükleri AB’ye katılım umutları da giderek sönmüş, mağduriyet ve kandırılmışlık duygusu giderek artmıştır. Kendi varlığını tehdit eden ordu içindeki vesayetçi, darbeci odaklara karşı siyasi irade koyabilen AKP’nin ve Erdoğan’ın yıllardır iktidarda olduğu düşünülürse, Başbakan’ın “çıkmazı ben yaratmadım” deme hakkı da artık kalmamıştır. Başka halkları, örneğin Mısır halkını ekmek ve özgürlük mücadelesinde cesaretlendirirken kendisine yönelen her türlü özgürlük talebine ve eleştiriye karşı kırmızı görmüş boğa tepkisi veren Erdoğan, Kıbrıs Türk kesiminden yükselen sesleri yanlış değerlendirmekle kalmamış, sözde bağımsız KKTC yönetimine, göstericileri sindirme ve koğuşturma telkininde de bulunmuştur.

Buradaki en vahim yanılgı, Kıbrıs halkının Türkiye’nin uydusu ve beslemesi değil bağımsız Kıbrıslı olma, işgali ve vesayeti reddetme taleplerini, kimilerinin son derece saygısızca ifade ettikleri “mamaları kesildi de ondan tepki veriyorlar” şeklinde okumaktır. Hem Erdoğan’ın hem de AKP’nin diğer sözcülerinin vurguyla telaffuz ettikleri “çirkin” sözcüğü, Kıbrıslıların haklı demokratik tepkilerine değil, derin devletin geleneksel Kıbrıs politikasına ve bu politikaya teslim olan AKP’nin Kıbrıs sorununa bakışına daha fazla yakışmaktadır.

Bu köşede sık sık dile getirmeye çalıştığım gibi, ilk reformcu adım ve atılımların hemen ardından AKP ve Erdoğan kendi sınıfsal- ideolojik zihniyet dünyalarının sınırlarına toslamış görünmektedirler. Fetihçi özlemlerin ve derinlerdeki İslamcı- milliyetçi güdülerin Başbakan’ın kişiliği ve üslubuyla birleşmesiyle çizilen bu sınırlar Kıbrıs düğümünü çözmekten uzak olduğu kadar, hem Kıbrıs hem de Türkiye için AB hedefinden de bir o kadar uzaktır.

Oya Baydar
09.02.2011
T24.com.tr

"Communique #4 The End of the World The A.O.A.* declares itself officially bored with the End of the World. The canonical version has been used since 1945 to keep us cowering in fear of Mutual Assured Destruction & in snivelling servitude to our super-hero politicians (the only ones capable of handling deadly Green Kryptonite)… What does it mean that we have invented a way to destroy all life on Earth? Nothing much. We have dreamed this as … Read More

via The Necromancer

Zimmermann, 'Basic Concepts of Transcendental Materialism' [Updated] Yet another great recording from Backdoor Broadcasting Company – this time from Rainer E. Zimmermann on transcendental materialism. Blurb from Kingston University: Rainer Zimmermann is a philosopher, mathematician and physicist who currently holds the chair of professor of philosophy at the University of Applied Sciences in Munich and whose general line of research, developed in copious publications including around twenty books, focuses on the a … Read More

via Speculative Heresy

Speculative Humbug isn't dead! I've been terribly distracted recently but I've finally decided to make time to write something new for the blog and this is it.  Hope you find it interesting.  Comments – especially critical ones – are very welcome! To kick things off again, I wanted to write on something that Pete Wolfendale got me thinking about in a conversation we had today, namely the specifically human context of the emergence of novelty in B … Read More

via Speculative Humbug

Somebody dying under the MRI.  

The Immortal Subject Beyond The Life Drive

In our daily lives we create little worlds of our own and invest them with various meanings. These worlds have their own logics, orders repetitively staged every day; this gives us a sense of continuity in time and hence a sense of security. Objects and subjects surrounding us, everything fits in its proper place in this microcosmic self-consciousness of ours.

The thought of being a tiny spot in the middle of nowhere, however, or somewhere in the vast universe is too unbearable to be thought through for many people because it reminds us of death. If one thinks this thought for too long all meaning collapses and life falls apart, the established symbolic order of object relations become disorganized. This is when the journey of the subject towards nothingness begins. If the subject manages to maintain integrity throughout the passage from self-consciousness to an impersonal consciousness reconciliation of self with life and the world takes place. With the advance of this macrocosmic impersonal consciousness in time everything symbolic loses meaning and credibility only to lead to an opening up of a space for the emergence of a new meaning. The new is not independent from the old. But is that which had hitherto been unseen, unrealised, unthought as a new possibility of a progressive movement.

Authentic fidelity is the fidelity to the void itself—to the very act of loss, of abandoning or erasing the object. Why should the dead be the object of attachment in the first place? The name for this fidelity is death drive. In the terms of dealing with the dead, one should, perhaps, against the work of mourning as well as against the melancholic attachment to the dead who return as ghosts, assert the Christian motto “let the dead bury their dead.” The obvious reproach to this motto is, What are we to do when, precisely, the dead do not accept to stay dead, but continue to live in us, haunting us by their spectral presence? One is tempted here to claim that the most radical dimension of the Freudian death drive provides the key to how we are to read the Christian “let the dead bury their dead”: what death drive tries to obliterate is not the biological life but the very afterlife—it endeavours to kill the lost object the second time, not in the sense of mourning (accepting the loss through symbolization) but in a more radical sense of obliterating the very symbolic texture, the letter in which the spirit of the dead survives.[1]

So, neither the work of mourning nor melancholia are progressive. It is the work of death drive to kill death, to cause a loss of loss, to destroy the symbolic texture causing death to take place; death drive is the only weapon against death in life. Rather than symbolizing and then accepting death, the subject as death drive contemplates death as nothingness and fills the space of death within the symbolic with nothing. Zizek points out that there is a great difference between willing nothing and willing nothingness.

What we are implicitly referring to here is, of course, Nietzsche’s classic opposition between ‘wanting nothing’ (in the sense of ‘I don’t want anything’) and the nihilistic stance of actively wanting Nothingness itself; following Nietzsche’s path, Lacan emphasized how in anorexia, the subject does not simply ‘eat nothing’ – rather, she or he actively wants to eat the Nothingness (the Void) that is itself the ultimate object-cause of desire. (The same goes for Ernst Kris’s famous patient who felt guilty of theft, although he did not actually steal anything: what he did steal, again, was the Nothingness itself.) So – along the same lines, in the case of caffeine-free diet Coke, we drink the Nothingness itself, the pure semblance of a property that is in effect merely an envelope of a void.[2]

The object that takes the place of the Real is what Lacan calls the objet petit a. The objet petit a is that which the master-signifier causes to be signified. There is nothing to signify the objet petit a, it is that signifier itself. The master-signifier signifies the objet petit a as its own signifier. Without the objet petit a the nothingness behind the master-signifier would become manifest. Master signifier generates signs that signify their own autonomous existence. That is, they hide the latent content of the master-signifier which is nothingness.  By manufacturing the illusion of its own non-being the master-signifier signifies itself as the transcendental signified. It does this through signifying the objet petit a as the transcendental sign, (signifier and signified at once). The sublime object which stands in for nothingness behind it is the object of desire of masses who fantasize that they are drinking something good, when in reality they are drinking the void and their own life/death.

One simply cannot conceal from oneself what all the willing that has received its direction from the ascetic ideal actually expresses: this hatred of the human, still more of the animal, still more of the material, this abhorrence of the senses, of reason itself, this fear of happiness and of beauty, this longing away from all appearance, change, becoming, death, wish, longing itself—all of this means—let us grasp this—a will to nothingness, an aversion to life, a rebellion against the most fundamental presuppositions of life; but it is and remains a will!… And, to say again at the end what I said at the beginning: man would much rather will nothingness than not will… [3]

In The Fragile Absolute, Slavoj Zizek gives the example of Diet-Coke as a symptom of will to nothingness inherent in contemporary society.

So, when, some years ago, the advertising slogan for Coke was ‘Coke is it!’, we should note its thorough ambiguity: ‘that’s it’ precisely in so far as that’s never actually it, precisely in so far as every satisfaction opens up a gap of ‘I want more!’. The paradox, therefore, is that Coke is not an ordinary commodity whereby its-use value is transubstantiated into an expression of (or supplemented with) the auratic dimension of pure (exchange) Value, but a commodity whose very peculiar use-value is itself already a direct embodiment of the suprasensible aura of the ineffable spiritual surplus, a commodity whose very material properties are already those of a commodity. This process is brought to its conclusion in the case of caffeine-free diet Coke – why? We drink Coke – or any drink – for two reasons: for its thirst-quenching or nutritional value, and for its taste. In the case of caffeine-free diet Coke, nutritional value is suspended and the caffeine, as the key ingredient of its taste, is also taken away – all that remains is a pure semblance, an artificial promise of a substance which never materialized. Is it not true that in this sense, in the case of caffeine-free diet Coke, we almost literally ‘drink nothing in the guise of something’?[4]

By drinking Diet-Coke, the subject, rather than being really healthy, is being merely less ill, since Diet or not, Coke is itself unhealthy.  Coke as we know it is miles away from its medicinal uses for which it was invented in the first place. The measure of health is not Coke without caffeine and sugar. So the Diet-Coke cannot be a sign of healthy living. Worse than being unhealthy, it is death disguised as an object of desire, that object of desire being healthy living. So we can see the process through which the Real of the subject’s desire, which is the death-drive, is turned into desire for healthy living. As the subject thinks he/she is moving towards greater health, he/she is in reality moving towards death. We have to be clear about where exactly the life-drive and the death-drive become separated from themselves and hence their roles are reversed, turning them into their opposites. It is precisely at this point of separation- unification of the life-drive and the death-drive that the conflict-event takes the place of the place itself.

This place is a playground on which this conflict-event between the life-drive and the death-drive is played out as a confrontation between the therapeutic society and critical theory. If the aim of psychotherapy is to adapt the subject to the environment, then it is by definition a normalizing practice. But asks critical theory, what is the definition of health? On which grounds are we talking about health? What are the values that make health? All these questions may lead down to the big question of ontology: “What is the meaning of life?” There is no meaning of life. It is my actions and words that invest my life with a particular meaning. What determines the meaning of objects surrounding me is the use I put them into. In this context, progress in therapeutic procedure is signified by an increase in the subject’s ability to use the objects surrounding him/her.

But critical theory says: you are confusing use-value and exchange-value. You are forgetting the need to remember that in your world the exchange-value preceeds the use-value. You are always already born into the world of objects with their values attached to them, how can you say that you are healing these people by telling lies to them concerning the cause of their desire and the Real of the objects they choose to put to use. Isn’t their choice already determined by the pre-dominant symbolic order?[5]

Critical theory agrees with psychotherapy that it is the use value of the object that is important. But what critical theory wants to say is that what psychotherapy presents the subject with, as the use-value, is already the exchange-value, so psychotherapy is presenting the subject with death disguised as life. It is there that there has been a shift in the gears, where Nietzsche conceived of himself as the stage of confrontation between Christ and Dionysus, as the conflict-event that shifted the gears at a certain moment in history. At this precise moment in time negation and affirmation change roles for the very reason that negating the symbolic order becomes the same as affirming the Real. One creates a fantasy which negates the symbolic and affirms the Real as it is, that is, with all its inconsistencies, internal conflicts, imperfections, and incompleteness. Something in the symbolic order is caused to fail by these interventions of the affirmative subject. Here a question awaits us: Does that mean that for creation to take place destruction is necessary? The answer to this question is a yes and a no at the same time. Because destruction causes a split in the order and yet this split’s consequence depends on the future of the response to it. Destruction is not essential to creation but is an inescapable result of it. [6]  So there may or may not be cases where there is something in the process of being created without anything being destroyed. For when one thinks about it, creation is not a subtraction from nature, but quite the contrary, an addition to it. For subtraction to become creative it should be a subtraction from culture, that is, from knowledge, or from the already existing symbolic order. Badiou’s subtraction opens a void within the already existing symbolic order and through this void a new truth flows. It is only in so far as the mortal human animal chooses fidelity to this truth-event that it becomes a subject, that is, an immortal indifferent to death.

André Kertész     Window, paris     1928

The Immortal Subject Beyond The Death Drive

The creature called human can cease being a passive non-being and become an active being only insofar as it produces love against the negative power of the already existing capitalist law. As we all know, the laws’ negative impositions give birth to the vicious cycle of the life and death drives, which is in turn exploited in the way of more money.

With the domination of nihilist global capitalism all over the world social life has become a masquerade. The silence diminishes and noise pollutes the lives of all. This noise is what Nietzsche calls “the noise of the marketplace.” The subject neither questions its being in itself nor its being for itself. The system provides the subject with innumerable facilities to keep boredom at bay so as to sustain the conditions for the possibility of the non-being of thought to take place. The subject simply does not feel the need to think and in time the subject loses the ability not only to think but also to act consciously. It all becomes an empty and meaningless spectacle to live. Every subject takes on a role, or an identity in accordance with the demands of the show business and hides behind this role turning into a solipsistic monad acting itself out in the way of satisfying the big Other. Just like Judge Schreber who had to endure inordinate measures of suffering to satisfy the demands of those cruel gods he populated himself with… And Schreber, satisfied as he was with the mere pleasure of sharing the high profile mission of satisfying cruel and invisible gods, becomes a madman when in fact he was a woman enduring privation.[7]

In the banality of ordinary social reality the subject forgets to think of its death as its own. Absence of the thought of death brings with it the presence of the thought of being, which means that the subject has lost his/her sense of self/other distinction, and is governed by his/her unconscious drives. This leads to the subject’s ignorance of an external world, or perhaps an unintentional neglect of an external reality other than the one it imagines, for it has itself become exterior to itself.

When death is thought about, this thought never takes place in terms of the death of the self. It is always through the death of the other that the subject thinks of death. It is always a “they” who die. Death is conceived as a symbolic incident. The reason of that reductive attitude towards death is the will to preserve the banality of ordinary reality and sustain the conditions for the possibility of an illusory sense of oneness with the world. All this, of course, is done to keep the Real of the external world at bay.

Global capitalism produces subjects who cannot stand the thought of the outside; they cannot conceive the absence of an external world within them. The fear of death is so strong that with the force of its negativity it totally negates death in life, erases the slash in life/death, and vainly erects statues to attain immortality.

It is a strange subject, however, with no fixed identity, wandering about over the body without organs, but always remaining peripheral to the desiring-machines, being defined by the share of the product it takes for itself, garnering here, there, and everywhere a reward in the form of a becoming an avatar, being born of the states that it consumes and being reborn with each new state. “It’s me, and so it’s mine…” Even suffering, as Marx says, is a form of self-enjoyment.[8]

Today the purpose of life has become keeping the subject busy for the sake of the business of not thinking death. The subject is bombarded by objects of introjection to such extent that it has no time for feeling anxious about its own death. The objects form a transparent sheet between the subject and its death. As inorganic substances the objects fill the space of death within life. What we witness in this time is life turned into a project aiming at erasing the silence necessary for thought; and not only erasing but also replacing it with an unceasing noise causing nausea.

The infinite, then, is within finitude, so in order to think the infinite we have to think the finite, that is, the thought of death. Although the thought of death has a high price which the subject pays by a loss of mental and physical health, it is nevertheless useful in opening up the way to limit experiences. The death drive devastates the predominant conceptualisations of the “good” of civilized progress and the “bad” of barbaric regress. The subject of the death drive situates itself as the traitor on the opposite pole of belief and faith in immortality. In the place of statues representing immortality, it erects nothing. That way it confronts the promised land of total security and harmony with a world governed by the anxiety of the feeling of being surrounded by nothingness. In this world there remains no ground beneath the symbolic order. Death is in the midst of life; it is life that surrounds death.

How would our lives change if we were to become capable of imagining ourselves as immortal beings? If we keep in mind that we are always already locked within the vicious cycle of the life and death drives governed by the law of capital, it becomes easier to understand why we need to break this vicious cycle of Capitalism and its governor, liberal-democracy, based on unjust representations, in order to create, produce or present the realm of love beyond the rotary motion of drives. But it must also be kept in mind that when we say beyond, we are talking about a beyond which is always already within the pre-dominant symbolic order and yet not within the reach of mortal beings. It is a beyond only from the perspective of the present state. In our scenario, immortality is not something to be attained, rather, it is a virtual potential or an actual capacity within every mortal being, awaiting to be realised. The realisation of the immortality within us, or the realisation of the infinite potential that life contains, depends on our proper use of our powers of imagination. Let us imagine ourselves as immortal beings then, which we already are, but cannot enact because of the finitude imposed upon us by the already existing symbolic order. Would we need to get out of this order to become immortal? Yes and no. Yes, because the within which we said infinity resides is a within which is exterior only from the point of view of the already existing order. No, because only from within the already existing order can we present an outside of this order, “an outside” in Deleuze’s words apropos of Foucault and Blanchot, “which is closer than any interiority and further away than any exteriority.”

 In his Theoretical Writings Alain Badiou attempts to separate himself from the Romantic understanding of infinity, and the pursuit of immortality. According to Badiou, contemporary mathematics broke with the Romantic idea of infinity by dissolving the Romantic concept of finitude. For Badiou, as it is for mathematics, the infinite is nothing but indifferent multiplicity, whereas for the Romantics it was nothing more than a “historical envelopment of finitude.” Behind all this, of course, is Badiou’s strong opposition to historicism and temporalization of the concept. It is in this context that Badiou can say, “Romantic philosophy localizes the infinite in the temporalization of the concept as a historical envelopment of finitude.”[9]

Mathematics now treats the finite as a special case whose concept is derived from that of the infinite. The infinite is no longer that sacred exception co-ordinating an excess over the finite, or a negation, a sublation of finitude. For contemporary mathematics, it is the infinite that admits of a simple, positive definition, since it represents the ordinary form of multiplicities, while it is the finite that is deduced from the infinite by means of negation or limitation. If one places philosophy under the condition such a mathematics, it becomes impossible to maintain the discourse of the pathos of finitude. ‘We’ are infinite, like every multiple-situation, and the finite is a lacunal abstraction. Death itself merely inscribes us within the natural form of infinite being-multiple, that of the limit ordinal, which punctuates the recapitulation of our infinity in a pure, external ‘dying.’[10]

The political implications of the move from Romantic infinity to mathematical infinity can be observed in Badiou’s Ethics: An Essay on the Understanding of Evil. In this little book Badiou criticizes the hypocrisy of human rights for reducing being-human to being a mortal animal. Of course Badiou admits that what is called human is indeed a mortal animal, but what he objects to is the exploitation of this state of being. Against this deprecative attitude, Badiou pits the immortal subject, or rather, the subject who is capable of realising his/her immortality.[11]

Badiou says that “being is inconsistent multiplicity.” As an advocate of immanence, unlike Heidegger, he doesn’t think that there is an ontological difference between Being and beings. As a matter of fact, he altogether refuses that there is such a thing as Being transcending the multiple beings, or beings as inconsistent multiplicities. To understand where Badiou is coming from we only need to look at his critique of Heidegger’s equation of being in the world and being towards death. For Badiou there is no such thing as being in the world, because for him there is not one world but multiple worlds and consequently being in the world as being towards death is a rather impoverished idea doomed to result in the mistaken assumption that consciousness of human finitude is self-consciousness. And I agree with Badiou that consciousness of human finitude merely serves to justify a life driven by death.

 I therefore propose a consciousness of infinitude rather than of finitude for a sustenance of the conditions of possibility for an ethical life and for an ethical death. For when you think about it, if we were immortal, that is, if our lives were eternal, we wouldn’t be so destructive of the environment, not so harsh on nature and one another, because no one would want to live in such a hell eternally. Since it is obvious that as humans we have been turning the world into a hell in the name of progress for a while now, and since death has been the end from which we have come to think we have been striving to escape in this progressive process, it is obvious that a forgetting of death, or rather, a remembering to forget our mortality would make us fear an eternal life in hell, rather than a finite life in an illusory heaven.

If we keep in mind that the global capitalist system, as we have tried to explicate, takes its governing force from its exploitation of life and death drives, that it is based on our fear of death and consciousness of finitude, it becomes clearer why a subtraction of death from life not only shakes, but also annihilates the foundations of capitalism.

To What End Last Words? To What End Suffering…

Throughout this article I have tried to develop a mode of critique in and through which nothing is excluded and/or determined. This reflective mode of critique itself enabled me to situate myself in the middle of the reflective and the determinative modes of judgment. The critical mode employed in this article is still context-bound to a certain extent, and yet it tries to restrictively dissociate itself from the predetermined context, rather than freely associate within it. A new field is opened, the conditions are created for the possibility of a decision beyond the Law of Militarist Capitalism and the Welfare State driven by and driving the exploitation of mortality on a massive scale.

There is this transcendental field that requires a non-mortal mode of being in the world, neither for nor against it, but engagingly indifferent to it in such a way as to turn its own alienation from mortality into its driving force in its attempt to demolish the faculty of finite judgment and create the conditions of possibility out of the conditions of impossibility for an infinite judgment to take place beyond the subject/object of a Law that is mortal, all too mortal.

A truth comes into being through those subjects who maintain a resilient fidelity to the consequences of an event that took place in a situation but not of it. Fidelity, the commitment to truth, amounts to something like a disinterested enthusiasm, absorption in a compelling task or cause, a sense of elation, of being caught up in something that transcends all petty, private or material concerns.[12]

The immortal subject within and without the pre-dominant symbolic order is not only the cause, but also the effect of its own alienation from mortal life. This regulatory idea of immortality, which is also a constitutive illusion, is inspired by the post-structuralist theme of becoming non-identical as we see in Deleuze and Derrida. If one could become non-identical, why would one not also become non-mortal? If one could become alienated from one’s identity, why would one not also become alienated from one’s mortality?  Why not become immortal so as to become capable of criticizing the exploitations of this mortal, all too mortal life? But what motivated me to take immortality as a virtual mode of being was Badiou’s theory of infinity which aimed at secularizing the concept of truth. Badiou’s technique of secularizing the truth is inspired by the 19th century mathematician Georg Cantor’s technique of secularizing the infinite. As Badiou claims, the secularization of infinity started with Cantor who stated that there was not one, but many infinities varying in size and intensity. From then onwards it became possible to link Deleuze’s concepts of impersonal consciousness and transcendental empiricism with Badiou’s theory of infinity and Kant’s assertion that for reflective judgement to take place and turn the object into a subject a transcendental ground is necessary.  Now I can say that for me a transcendental ground is necessary only to the extent that it enables the subject to shake the foundation of its own mode of being and opens a field for immanent critique to take place. In other words, the untimely indifference of immortality is required in order to actively engage in an exposition of the exploitation of mortality in this time.

I don’t know if it is worth mentioning that in this time we are all slaves and yet some slaves dominate the others. Where time goes no one knows. There are necessary illusions in this life, some for life, some not. Both the extreme belief in civilized progress and barbaric regress are good for nothing. These two are now in the process of being left behind. A third possibility of developmental process is emerging in the form of a becoming-reconciled which is based on the recognition of the otherness of the other as it is, that is, prior to the additions and the subtractions imposed upon the self and the other, nature and culture, life and death. For a non-normative and progressive work it is necessary for the participants to become capable of making distinctions between their natures and cultures, their cliniques and critiques. It is a matter of realizing that theory and practice are always already reconciled and yet the only way to actualise this reconciliation passes through carrying it out and across by introducing a split between the subject of statement (the enunciated) and the subject of enunciation.

It is indeed true that sometimes it takes a long journey to get there, where one eventually got to, and realise that one is other than one thinks itself to be. Apparently the numbers indeed start with zero and continue with two, but it takes time to realise this actuality and become capable of actualising this reality. Perhaps we should indeed know that absolute reconciliation is impossible and yet still strive to reconcile ourselves as much as we can to all the living and the dead.

Memory Void-Fallen Leaves By Yellowbagman

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[1] Slavoj Zizek, Organs Without Bodies (London: Routledge, 2004), 13

[2] Slavoj Zizek, The Fragile Absolute (London: Verso, 2000), 23

[3] Friedrich Nietzsche, On The Genealogy of Morality, transl. Maudemarie Clark and Alan J. Swensen (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1998), 118

[4] Zizek, The Fragile Absolute, 22

[5] Marcuse, Herbert. One-Dimensional Man: Studies in Advanced Industrial Society (Boston: Beacon Press, 1964)

[6] Alain Badiou, InfiniteThought, trans. and ed. Oliver Feltham and Justin Clemens (London: Continuum, 2005), 132

[7] Sigmund Freud, Psycho-analytic Notes On An Autobiogrophical Account Of A Case Of Paranoia (Dementia Paranoids), trans. Strachey J. (London: Hogarth Press, 1986)

[8] Deleuze and Guattari, Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia I, trans. Robert Hurley, Mark Seem, and Helen R. Lane (New York: The Viking Press, 1977), 16

[9] Alain Badiou, Theoretical Writings, trans. Ray Brassier and Alberto Toscano, (London: Continuum, 2006), 38

[10] Badiou, 38

[11] Alain Badiou, Ethics: An Essay on the Understanding of Evil, trans. Peter Hallward (London: Verso, 2001), 41

[12] Peter Hallward, “Introduction” in Alain Badiou, Ethics (London: Verso, 2002), x

 

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