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Category Archives: Maksimal

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

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

Gallagher's translations of a number of Lacans unpublished seminars can be found for free here. Enjoy! … Read More

via Larval Subjects .

Via the Irish Left Review, here's audio from their 2009 event on the above topic. … Read More

via PHILOSOPHY IN A TIME OF ERROR

Buradaki yazıların kimi önemli başlıklarında, özellikle insan doğası, siyasetin olanakları, bilginin geçerliliği ve toplumsal yapının anlamı üzerine olanlarda, farklı görüşlerden arkadaşların tepkisi yer yer söylemeye çalıştığım şeyin nihilizm olduğu; ya da sonuç olarak nihilizme vardığı/varacağı şeklindeydi. Nihilizm dendiğinde de bir sınıra gelinmiş olunuyordu açıkcası; tamamen olumsuz anlamlarla yerleşik hale gelmiş nihilizm düşüncesinin belirlediği bir sınırdı bu ve bir anlamda artık söyleyecek bir şey kalmadığını, tartışmanın sürdürülmesinin anlamlı olmadığını gösteriyordu. İşte, bu dediğin şey bizi nihilizme götürüyorsa orada durmak ve geri dönmek gerektir, denmiş oluyordu.

Nihilizmin latince nihil’den (hiç’ten) geliyor olması, açıkca hiç’e ya da hiçliğe giden bir düşünceden sakınmak gerekliliğini daha bu noktada bile anlaşılır kılıyor gibidir. Ancak bu anlaşılırlık kendi başına bir sorundur, çünkü hiçten hiç çıkar gibi bir yaklaşımla kaba saba bir inkarcılık meselesine indirger nihilizmi. Bu tartışmalarda “Dikkat!Nihilizm!” uyarısı yapıldığında, ister kabaca bilindiği haliyle her şeyi yakıp yıkmaktan ve değerlere saldırmaktan başka niyet taşımayan hınç politikaları kast edilsin, isterse kendi karamsarlığına ve melankolisine yenik düşmüş siniklik kast edilsin, bundan sıkıntı duymuş değilim! Gönül ferahlığı içinde de olmuyorum, fakat o sınırda nihilizmi üstlenmek bana sorun olarak görünmüyor açıkcası! Yakın tarihimizin ürünü olan, fakat kökleri düşünce tarihinin başlangıcından itibaren süregelen kuşku ve itirazlara bağlı olan nihilizm, sanki yerleşikleşmiş bu algılardan ibaret bir şey değildi ve nihai olarak olumsuz/yıkıcı eğilimleri ve topluma karşı kötücül girişimleri etiketlemek için kolayca kullanılıyor olmasında temel bir yanlışlık bulunmaktaydı.… Read More

via Mutlak Töz

The recent developments in electronic music present us with a good example of how the inorganic has become, at least in sound, more organic than the organic. With the rapid development of sound-producing machines it has become possible to create such sounds that while listening to them one feels like there is a living organism from a strangely familiar realm making noises in the room, or worse still, that the noises are coming from within one’s mind and body. Listening to this kind of music makes the mutual exclusiveness of the somatic and the psychic irrelevant. Especially after the three dimensional medium presented by CDs and DVDs it has become possible to present the sound to masses in a form that sounds more real than the original, live recording.

I will return to the relevance of electronic music in a little while, but first let me revisit Herbert Marcuse’s theory of how capitalism keeps itself alive by feeding on the death of the counter-subjectivities and the life of the dominant consuming subject governed by the life drive which is itself externally constituted within the subject. In a nutshell, Marcuse’s theory in One-Dimensional Man was that the one dimensional market society absorbs and turns the counter-cultural products into its own agents, reducing the two-dimensional to the one-dimensional, hence making the forces of resistance serve the purpose of strengthening what they are counter to. Marcuse’s problem was the dissolution of the two-dimensional sphere of counter-cultural production and its domination by one-dimensional relations. He suggested using mythological imagery  not only to make sense of the pre-dominant social reality, but also to create a counter-social reality which would at the same time be a critique of the existing social reality. What Marcuse said is still relevant to a certain extent, but to be able to use this theory one has to adapt it to the demands of the present situation. What I will attempt to do, therefore, is to ignore the irrelevant parts of Marcuse’s theory and try to find out those parts of it that matter for my concerns. It is true that Marcuse’s theory is no more sufficient in understanding and solving the problems of our Superpanoptic societies. And yet in it there are lots of insights with high potential for development in the service of psychosomatic and sociopolitical progress today.

Today even Madonna’s latest release, Confessions on the Dance Floor, is produced in a DJ’s room in London. The electronic dance music products are mostly produced in people’s bedrooms on a personal computer donated with software especially produced for making electronic music. The recent shift in the gears of electronic dance music, of course, is a cause of the amazing possibilities the digital sound machines present. These machines have no material existence; they are loaded on the computer in the form of digital data. One can have a studio loaded into one’s computer by pressing a few buttons on the keyboard. In this context, making music requires technical knowledge of the tools of production more than the knowledge of the rules of what is called making music. With electronic music the sounds are already there, loaded into the computer; all one needs to do to become a music producer has become putting these sounds together, making them overlap with one another in a positively disordered way and produce something that is neither the one nor the other.

If we imagine for a moment Beethoven making his music after the orchestra plays it, composing the piece after it is materialized, we can see how paradoxical the situation the producer is caught up in inherent in the production process of electronic music is. It is as if Beethoven wrote the notes of his music as he listened to the orchestra play it. We can see that this is in fact exactly the opposite of what Beethoven did. For in the case of Beethoven, unlike the electronic music producer, it is the internal orchestra in the psyche that plays the piece as Beethoven writes it, not an actual orchestra in its material existence. With electronic music that internal orchestra is not in the creator’s mind, but in the computer.

Some of the more creative and experimentalist logics in this field record the noises coming from within their bodies, or from within other animals’ bodies, load them into the computer, and with the aid of synthesizers and effects units, turn these noises into the basic rhythms and melodies of their music. Heartbeat, for instance, can be used as drum and bass at the same time in some electronic music recordings. It is possible to dub-out, echo, delay, deepen, darken, lighten, slow down, or fasten up the sound of heartbeat with the computer. And after a proper mastering process you get something that sounds neither totally organic, nor totally inorganic.  These products are not only digitally bought and sold on the internet, but also exchanged with similar other products.

The affective qualities of these products are extremely high. The producers of the five most developed forms of electronic music, which are Techno, House, Electro, Trance, and Breakbeat, claim that they are the beholders of the threshold between the soma and the psyche, that with their walls of sound they keep them separate and yet contiguous to one another.

It would be wrong to assume, as many have done, that this kind of music is in touch with only a few listeners. On the contrary, since not only the listeners but also the producers of this kind of music have started to occupy dominant positions in the advertisement production business, it is not surprising that electronic music, and especially the underground minimal techno, is increasingly being used as the background music surrounding the object advertised in many advertisements on radio and T.V. Based on the erasure of the boundary between the psychic and the somatic, or between the inorganic and organic, the use of minimalist electronic music in the advertisements of today’s hectic life-styles is a very good example of the exploitation of the life/death drives inherent in contemporary nihilistic culture driving and driven by what has almost become transglobal capitalism.  The LG U880 ultra-slim mobile phone advert on T.V. is precisely the hard-core of how this exploitation of the life/death drives takes place. In the advert there is heart beating in the phone. Or, the heart is shown to have a transparent phone surrounding it. And with the minimalist techno at the back, that is, sounds that are neither organic nor inorganic but both at the same time. The beating heart in the phone creates the deep and dark bass sound with extremely electronic and yet organic sounding noises coming from within the phone.  It’s as though it is one’s own heart beating in the phone; this phone is you, so it’s yours… If we keep in mind that the transparency of the phone is fleshy, for there are capillaries of the phone, the overall impression created is one of ultra minimalist life reduced to its bare bones when in reality the LG U880 mobile phone is itself the product of exactly the opposite of an ultra minimalist attitude. The message is that this mobile phone is what attaches you to life, when in fact it detaches you from life as it is. The finishing words, “Life is Good,” only confirms my critique of this advertisement, of this marvellous sound-image which is an inorganic object disguised as a living organism. It is obvious that what’s at work here is the exploitation/oppression of the life/death drives, as the inorganic replaces the organic, and the real of death in the midst of life is expelled.

As I said at the beginning of this article, in this perilous time the three dimensional sounds created by the contemporary electronic music are non-representational to such an extent that it is as though there is a living organism from a completely other dimension making organic noises in the room. And in this room and at this very moment  in which I found myself Marcuse’s theories are unfortunately insufficient in that they do not realize that it is precisely the reversing of the roles policy, that is, presentation of something as its opposite, of an inorganic entity as an organic entity for instance, or of that which is inside as if it is outside, that has to be left behind. As we know from Foucault and Hobbes, Panopticon and Leviathan are within and without the subject at the same time, and a reverse of the roles of the inside and the outside means nothing in this perilous time.

For the solution of problems posed by the advanced projection-introjection mechanisms of what have become Superpanoptic societies, I shall attempt to show that post-structuralism and critical theory have never been as mutually exclusive as many suggest, especially in terms of the wrong and right questions that they have left unanswered. If we look at Adorno’s and Foucault’s writings we can see that most of their thoughts are directed towards finding out how to reconcile theory and practice. Just as theory and practice, post-structuralism and critical theory, too, are always already reconciled, because they come from Nietzsche, Marx, and Freud. They may be always already reconciled but the only way to actualize this reconciliation is to realize their common goal; to put theory in the service of ordinary life, to develop the conditions of existence, and to practise freedom.

 It will almost sound offensive to say that the new emerges only if some people become traitors and shake the foundations of their own mode of being, or at least undertake opening up spaces so that light can shine among all, or death can manifest itself. But one must take the risk of offending some others, for every situation requires its expression, every problem bears within itself at least half of its own solution. It is all a matter of putting theory and practice in the service of one another. Theory that does not match the truth of its time is for nothing. It is important to theorize practical ways of dealing with the banal accidents of an ordinary life. I think what I have just said is one of the things that both Foucault and Adorno would have agreed on.

What we witness in this time is Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World turning into Rave New World.  A world in which the well known and the so called lines between mind and body, fantasy and reality, nature and culture, organic and inorganic, life and death, are not just blurred, but have completely disappeared. And yet, at the same time, these lines are in the process of reappearance.

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Photek – Ni-Ten-Ichi-Rhy [Science]
Solar Chrome – Malevil [Maschinen Musik]
Petar Alargic – EeR NR1 [petaralargic.com]
Octave Mouret – Good News Everyone! I’ve Taught the Toaster to Feel Love [octavemouret.bandcamp.com]
Foul Shape – A Monster Has Created [Entity]
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Adam X – Downbursts [Prologue]
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Blackmass Plastics – Plasixsixsix
Blackmass Plastics – Bad Reflection
Blackmass Plastics – Step Up or Get…
Blackmass Plastics – Ouija Board
Blackmass Plastics – Arpexone
Blackmass Plastics – Biomega
Blackmass Plastics – Klonk Kreator
Blackmass Plastics – Visions of Plastic
Blackmass Plastics – OK Ozzy
Blackmass Plastics – Dial M.
Blackmass Plastics – D for Danger
Blackmass Plastics – Red and Black Rush
Blackmass Plastics – Known Space
Blackmass Plastics – Paranoid Agent
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Blackmass Plastics – Give Me Da Data
Blackmass Plastics – Scope Dog
Blackmass Plastics – T-Rex Powerdrill
Blackmass Plastics – Zargon
Blackmass Plastics – Nothing Nice
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Blackmass Plastics – Get Bigga
Blackmass Plastics – Down Periscope
Blackmass Plastics – Get Jacked
Blackmass Plastics – Tek Tek v3
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Blackmass Plastics – Trauma Centre
Blackmass Plastics – Blindsider
Blackmass Plastics – No Escape
Blackmass Plastics – Get Spooked

Thus Spoke Zarathustra

Stoic: I found some interesting stuff as I was messing about today, you may have come across it before; Nietzsche responds to Flaubert’s idea that one can only think and write while one is sitting by saying that only those thoughts we think while we walk are worthy of thinking. Unfortunately at the moment we are in the position of Flaubert, we will have to think and talk as we sit. But we could as well have talked as we walked. Perhaps we would have had problems with recording what we said, but still, when you think about it, it would be great if we were on the hills with a third party to put down what we say.

Sceptic: I don’t think what’s important is whether you sit or walk as you think. I don’t know how Plato used to think, but I think I know that Aristotle used to walk a lot.

Stoic: Heidegger liked walking. Who else is there from the walkers? Nietzsche is one. Anyway, I want us to talk about our personal experiences of Nietzsche a little bit. How did you come across Nietzsche, did you experience him differently in different periods of your life? I was thinking about that this morning, I met Nietzsche quite early in life. It was a crooked encounter of course, as is usually the case in those ages, but this encounter had a peculiarity to it. Perhaps the first reading is the most truthful reading.

Sceptic: It is difficult to feel the same excitement later on.

Stoic: One does not know the context that well at first. So the text is free floating, one can invest it with almost any meaning one wants, a kind of projective identification operates which doesn’t always have fruitful consequences.

Sceptic: And yet sometimes it does. One has no idea about the context at all. One doesn’t even know that there is such a thing as context. I don’t know which one of his books you read first but I read Zarathustra. It came as a shock to me; it wasn’t like anything I had ever read before, a total confusion. It was out of the question to agree or disagree, I remember having been crushed under the book. And as you said, then you don’t know the context, where he is coming from and where he is heading towards and all that, and all meaning remains hung up in the air. You can’t situate it, it was like a burning meteor coming towards me and I couldn’t do anything other than stare at it blankly.

Stoic: I don’t exactly remember from where I started Nietzsche, but as far as I can remember it was an unauthorized French edition of some fragmentary writings. I was talking about my problems with one of my teachers, thoughts were circulating in my mind, and when I tried to express myself not much made sense. My teacher gave me some names one of which was Nietzsche. He said German philosophers gave a lot of thought to anxiety causing problems of life, their concerns were very similar to your anxieties; Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Heidegger. So I checked out Nietzsche and as I said it was like a crash, a way of expression I had never come across before, an attitude so extraordinary… It’s only now I realize that I was undergoing a very dangerous experience. The danger with Nietzsche is, you know, I had a period of reading Nietzsche through other writers. When I was in my twenties I read Deleuze’s Nietzsche, Klossowski’s Nietzsche, Blanchot’s Nietzsche, and all kinds of other Nietzsche’s, others’ Nietzsche’s. In a way their attitudes served as a kind of directory, they were guides to Nietzsche, they open paths as they close some others, and yet they teach you what and how to look for, what really matters in Nietzsche, but in another way they deprive you of the possibility of one to one, direct encounter with Nietzsche. I remained under the influence of what I had seen through those glasses for a long time.

Sceptic: Did you keep on reading Nietzsche in-between your periods of depression?

Stoic: I was reading, but always within the fields they opened, not beyond their horizon. I still didn’t have my perspective on Nietzsche. And after that period came to an end, the period of reading Nietzsche from the others’ perspectives, I didn’t read Nietzsche for at least ten years. I had a really serious depression in 1988. I looked for remedies in the books; I looked in vain for therapeutic writers. I looked at Kafka, Dostoyevski, I didn’t want to read them, after three-four pages I threw them away, it was all very upsetting. But when I discovered Ecce Homo, I considered it as the deliverance of my salvation, it really came as a relief, and I finished the book in one sitting during a cold and rainy night. To some extent it cured me. When after a while I recovered completely I turned back to Nietzsche only to find out what we all know: One understands what one had read at twenty in a completely different way when one gets to thirty because one changes and with one the book’s meaning changes. The text remains the same perhaps, but we move on to another place and another time.

Sceptic: Even the meanings of words change, free from us, independently of our personal change.

Stoic: In different periods of my life Nietzsche had different effects on me. When I look back now, to what extent can Nietzsche be considered a philosopher, how far out is he from ordinary philosophy? Of course it would be very difficult not to consider Nietzsche a philosopher, but there are many cases where you see academic philosophers turn a blind eye on him, but that’s their problem of course, it’s their loss, not Nietzsche’s. And the reason why he has been so influential especially outside academic philosophical discourse, in literary, critical and cultural studies for instance, is that he has written such exciting texts that one may die of pleasure. You don’t get the same effect from Hegel for instance, you don’t die from the magnificence, the splendour… Nietzsche has a massive poetic potential. Not that I’m fond of all of what I have just said of him, of course…

Sceptic: But I do get immense pleasure from reading Hegel. I even find him extremely humorous at times. Phenomenology of Spirit gives me hope, when I’m too desperate it even fills me with an irrational bliss. Can’t you hear the laughter in Hegel? Or maybe it’s just my laughter which I think comes from Hegel. I can see your point about Nietzsche though, he is much more affective. You can read Nietzsche isolated from his philosophical thoughts, as a writer of literary texts, texts on life itself rather than life reduced to knowledge. It is Nietzsche’s style that gives you the kicks. How about Nietzsche’s poems?

Stoic: To be honest, I don’t like them.

Sceptic: I agree, but there are many admirers of his poems too. Some even see his poetry as prophecy, a kind of expansive message from beyond. But I think Nietzsche’s prose is much more beautiful, especially when read in German.

Stoic: Perhaps. Unfortunately I don’t have the privilege of reading original Nietzsche, I haven’t had that privilege.

Sceptic: That’s the dangerous aspect, he can tempt you, put you off the rails, as he has done and continues to do to many.

Stoic: He has quite an asphyxiating effect. I can’t think of Nietzsche having an ordinary effect on anyone; he either makes you hate him, or love him with a great passion, at least at the beginning.

Sceptic: I believe my attitude was a bit more cautious than yours. I didn’t really get into Nietzsche, or perhaps I should say Nietzsche didn’t penetrate me as much as he did you. Nietzsche came to me naturally and is now in the process of leaving me naturally. I haven’t had a Nietzschean drama, he has never been a writer I turned towards out of hunger and thirst for a way out; I tried to comprehend him and when I finally thought I comprehended him I realized that it is almost impossible to come to a total understanding of Nietzsche, for if one does figure out what Nietzsche really wants to say one becomes a victim of Nietzsche and hates him, and with him, hates oneself. I have never really came to a total understanding of Nietzsche, because he disapproves of so many things, and it is impossible to know what exactly it is that he is disapproving of, so you see, it becomes difficult to follow his story. I was a Wagnerian when I was twenty for instance, and I couldn’t see why he was so reactively critical of Wagner. I had no idea about the history of the relationship between Wagner and Nietzsche, and without this background story you don’t get Nietzsche’s point in Nietzsche contra Wagner. There is always a lot more going on behind what Nietzsche writes than one could possibly imagine, he is the iceberg and his writings are his tips.

Stoic: You still are a bit Wagnerian, you like it that way?

Sceptic: Yes I like it… Nietzsche objects to the whole of European thought from Plato through Hegel and Schopenhauer and why he does so is linked to his personal experiences of this collective history of European thought. And we are not born with the knowledge of Nietzsche’s experiences. His critique of Christianity, I don’t know, I’m not a believer, but I don’t approve of Nietzsche’s reactive aggressiveness as he attacks the Christian God. As I said one has to know Nietzsche’s life but how possible is that? Unlike you I have never read the secondary literature on Nietzsche, I’m only familiar with the names you mentioned earlier, but I don’t know what they are up to with Nietzsche. For me Nietzsche is one of those who do philosophy departing from a wound, from a deep-seated internal problem… The wound is internal to Nietzsche but the source of this wound is external, so you see, he is in-between. He attacks both sides at the same time, there is a profound neither/nor relationship, an endless struggle between the life drive and the death drive in Nietzsche’s books. As for Hegel, I’m not so sure what kind of a man he was. His philosophy doesn’t seem to give me “the kicks” as you say. But to me Hegel is sobering, and that is what I require. In Kant’s books you see everything divided and subdivided into sections and subsections. And you see Kant’s idea is there in three books. I find the life philosophy-academic philosophy distinction ridiculous and luxurious for our times. It deprives us of many great philosophers. Nietzsche’s is neither academic nor life, but a kind of open philosophy; philosophy without the final judgment. Nietzsche has never said and will never have said his last word.

Stoic: Never?

Sceptic: And that there is no such last word or final judgment is itself Nietzsche’s last word and final judgment. It is with Nietzsche that we come to realize this paradoxical situation, this vicious cycle, within which we have come to be entrapped.

Stoic: But Nietzsche also makes us ask, what would be the price paid to escape from this vicious cycle?

Sceptic: That’s indeed another thing that he does. It is precisely because of these endless questions leading to one another, each question the answer of another, and this incompleteness of his philosophy is only one of the reasons that make Nietzsche attractive for many. The second is this: Nietzsche has four-five teachings, the first one is, which for me is the most important, that “knowledge is perspectival by nature.” As soon as he says this, his philosophy becomes an opening up to a new field for thought and life. Everyone can enter Nietzsche’s new space and take what they want, it is like a toolbox. There is something for Hitler in that work, something else for Bataille, for Heidegger, Freud, so you see how clear it all becomes in this context, what he means when he says on the title-page of Thus Spoke Zarathustra, “A book for no one and everyone.” You can translate this as a book for everyone who will understand but at the same time for no one, since no one can completely understand what exactly Nietzsche means. This formula is applicable to his philosophy as a (w)hole, a philosophy for none and all at the same time. And there is no (w)hole of Nietzsche’s philosophy to be comprehended as a (w)hole anyway. This attitude would reduce “Nietzsche” to its bare bones when in fact it is a very fleshy writing. It wouldn’t be fair on Nietzsche. Mine is a stance from which I try to justify Nietzsche, save him. It is the tendency of most readers of Nietzsche to be his advocate. And yet I now realize that this attitude, too, is not so true to the spirit of Nietzsche. And this is the reason why I distanced myself from Nietzsche, after witnessing what has been happening in the world for the last one hundred years, since Nietzsche’s death. You might as well read “there can be no poetry after Auschwitz,” as “there can be no philosophy after Auschwitz.” Or you at least become compelled to admit, “after Auschwitz it becomes very difficult, almost impossible to unconditionally affirm Nietzsche’s philosophy.” You might, and you should, feel the need to introduce a distance between yourself and Nietzsche.

Stoic: Another paradoxical situation emerges here, for Nietzsche is himself against himself in this respect and on this subject.

Sceptic: Yes, he is indeed.

Stoic: And this indicates a self-deconstructive reading at work, that is, you are already deconstructing your own reading as you read Nietzsche.

Sceptic: But isn’t this a natural outcome of philosophical thinking? I think Nietzsche’s grandest illusion was his excessive self-assurance, a pathological self-confidence which led him not to use his critical eye in relation to himself as much as he did in relation to others. He perspectivizes truth but he never situates himself in the nineteenth century as a priest who had been influenced by the likes of Wagner and Schopenhauer; he never comes to terms with his finitude, and so he never manages to reconcile himself to life.

Stoic: In 1889, when his passage to the other side is semi-complete he is about forty-five.

Sceptic: Yes.

Stoic: The most interesting aspect of his work is its posthumousness. He left behind a multiplicity of texts in complete silence and yet all his work, this multiplicity of texts, is itself an unceasing and singular voice at times causing nausea. When one is looking at this oeuvre one wonders what kind of a will to power is Nietzsche’s, it’s not clear, some say it should be translated as will towards power. I think will to power and will to nothingness are one and the same thing. Will towards power and being towards death are the two constituent parts of becoming what one always already is. And what use of a will to truth if it is not in the service of becoming true to one’s being. Perhaps if his work had not been interrupted by illness, he, and we with him, would have been better able to make sense of these circular movements of thought.

Sceptic: Nietzsche’s working method involves taking notes as he walked… And then revising those notes…

Stoic: …Organize those thoughts, put them in order? But it’s different when Zarathustra speaks. He wrote Thus Spoke Zarathustra locked in a room, sitting in a chair in front of a table on the mountains after his devastating Lou Andreas-Salomé experience. There is a close relation between aphorisms and steps, fragmentary writing and walking. It is the same in the case of other aphorism writers, there are flashes of insight involved, always fragmentary, little thoughts complete in themselves and yet to be formulated in relation to one another. Nietzsche’s process of thinking is itself discontinuous, fragmentary; it’s an attempt to give birth to partial objects without relation to an external idea of wholeness. As soon as something strikes him he feels as though if he doesn’t put it down immediately he never will. And since he thinks about the same thing from different perspectives through a period of time, the result is a plurality of partial objects all somehow linked to one another rather than to a whole outside them. He didn’t have time to make sense of all he thought. His thought was larger than his life. He used to write so rapidly but still his infinite speed of thought always left his writing behind.

Sceptic: If only he had lived longer and thought with less speed.

Stoic: Perhaps he could have finished the work of his life in a much more precise way. If he were able to write a second Ecce Homo at sixty years old, he could have survived his thought. But of course I’m assuming too much here.

Sceptic: Actually it is good to throw some light on where Nietzsche is coming from and where he is heading towards. It makes visible the great potential of Nietzsche’s thought; explicates the possibilities of new ways of thinking and living it has to offer.

Stoic: In a new light everything becomes other than itself.

Sceptic: Plato criticized his own concept of the Idea later in life. Perhaps if Nietzsche had lived longer he would have had a critical look at his earlier work.

Stoic: The other day I had a look at On The Genealogy of Morality as a preparation for our conversation. In it I saw Nietzsche thinking about two hundred years ahead of his time. And this prophetic stance is not very common among philosophers. Usually poets tend to tell of the future.

Sceptic: Poets do tend to have messianic expectations.

Stoic: Yes, poets too operate at messianic levels but Nietzsche is assured that what he thinks will take place in the future will actually take place; he believes in the truth of what he assumes. And worst of all, we now see that what he thought would happen is really happening. Have a look at what he says:

What meaning would our entire being have if not this, that in us this will to truth has come to a consciousness of itself as a problem? … It is from the will to truth’s becoming conscious of itself that from now on—there is no doubt about it—morality will gradually perish: that great spectacle in a hundred acts that is reserved for Europe’s next two centuries, the most terrible, most questionable, and perhaps also most hopeful of all spectacles…[1]

He sees the rise of Nihilism. And we see him say this in Genealogy published in November 1887. It has been 117 years and we can say that his prophecy has proved to be true for the first 117 years out of 200. On this account we can bet that this truth will increasingly maintain its truth status in the remaining 83 years. Looking backwards he tells of the future. With a messianic force he writes Ecce Homo in which he proclaims himself Christ and Dionysus. What he means by that self-fashioning is that he has passed across the Nihilism, went through the will to nothingness and reached the point after the fantasy is traversed where Christ and Dionysus confront one another. But Nietzsche never says that he is the overman. Nietzsche, in Ecce Homo, fashions himself as the one who remains the man who wants to die. In Gay Science we see the theme of God’s death merging with the story of a madman wandering around with his lamp, looking for God. He distinguishes two forms of Nihilism: one is an active nihilism he associates with destruction, the other is an exhausted and passive nihilism he identifies as Buddhism.

Sceptic: Perhaps it’s true; today we know the West is turning towards the East.

Stoic: He sees not one, but two distinct futures of a Nihilist Europe. But I don’t really get what he means when he says he has himself overcome nihilism. Has he really overcome nihilism or is it just wishful thinking?

Sceptic: I don’t know whether he has or he has not overcome nihilism, but what I can say concerning why he thinks in that way is this: In a nut-shell nihilism is the absence of “where” and “why,” or “direction” and “intention.” Nietzsche is convinced that he is showing humanity a new direction towards which to head. His project of revaluing the values is itself an attempt at overcoming nihilism, but this attempt only partially overcomes nihilism, for even after all the values are devalued there remains the new values to be created out of the ruins of the old. Revaluation cannot be completed unless destruction is left behind and creation takes its course.

Stoic: Absolutely. Nihilism is necessary for the devaluation of values, but should be left behind before revaluing the values. So nihilism is a useful tool in turning the existing order against itself but when it comes to creating the new it is nothing other than an enemy. Nietzsche’s discourse is almost a Marxist discourse without Marxist terminology. To see this aspect of Nietzsche more clearly let me give you a brief account of the master-slave relationship in Hegel and Nietzsche. For Hegel everyone is a slave and some slaves, out of a dissatisfaction with slavery, fight to death for mastery, win the fight, and through recognition by the slaves as the masters, become masters, and dominate the slaves. Dialectical process, however, does not end there and in the next stage, and “as history has shown us” in Marx’s words, since in time everything turns into its opposite, slaves eventually become masters. Whereas for Nietzsche from the beginning there are masters and slaves, which he calls active and reactive forces, but the ones who play the role of masters are in fact the slaves and the slaves the masters. So what Nietzsche wants to say is that slaves dominate the masters because of the false values upon which human life is built. Reactive forces are the slaves who occupy the master position and active forces are the masters who occupy the slave position. It is always the reactive forces who win because their reactions are contagious and it is extremely easy for them to multiply themselves and degenerate the others. The active forces, however, although they are the strong ones, are always crushed under the false value system created by the reactive forces. If Hegel is saying that everything eventually turns into its opposite and the roles are reversed only after a struggle to death, Nietzsche is saying that the roles are always already reversed and the way to set things right, rather than passing through reversing the roles, passes through a revaluation of all values on the way to a new game. How would you respond to that?

Sceptic: Well, Nietzsche looks at things otherwise. Through eternal recurrence everything is continually inverted into the spotlight and everything turns into something other than itself in time. So he comes to the conclusion that everything is so reversed that the weak wins. That’s what he sees as the outcome of nihilism. In Nietzsche’s world what everyone understands from improvement is in fact the opposite of the real meaning of improvement. Look what he says,

One should at least be clear about the expression “be of use.” If by this one intends to express that such a system of treatment has improved man, then I will not contradict: I only add what “improve” means for me—the same as “tamed,” “weakened,” “discouraged,” “sophisticated,” “pampered,” “emasculated” (hence almost the same as injured…)[2]

Stoic: I admire him for what he achieved but at times doesn’t he become more than self-confident. I occasionally feel that he saw himself as a prophet.

Sceptic: Well, it is obvious that he suffered from a certain megalomania. No doubt he lacked self-critical eyes.

Stoic: Does he give you the feeling that he regarded himself a prophet from time to time? Could he have thought he was revealing the word of God?

Sceptic: The thinker talking through Zarathustra’s mouth has that prophetic quality. Zarathustra is himself a prophet. There are various speculations concerning Nietzsche’s entry into the realm of madness. When it occured and so on. Some say when his books are read with a clinical intent there is no trace of madness in his work. I don’t agree with this. Already in Zarathustra there is a deterioration of his thought processes. An exaggerated self-confidence appears in Ecce Homo. But to be considered a prophet is what Nietzsche dreaded most. He says it in Ecce Homo: “I have a terrible fear that one day I will be pronounced holy.”

Stoic: One still wonders whether he is the first prophet without a God, if he thought himself to be the first prophet without a God, and with this thought he went off the rails?

Sceptic: Are you listening to what I’m saying?

Stoic: He also sees himself as the disciple of Dionysus.

Sceptic: Have you heard what I’ve just said?

Stoic: He signed Dionysus the last letter he wrote to Strindberg.

Sceptic: And Crucified at the same time. Nietzsche’s thought is full of paradoxes. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons why it is a philosophy for everyone. On any topic, on this or that subject, there is this perspective and there is that. You can choose whatever works for you and ignore the others. But that’s not what I’m really concerned with. The contradiction at the heart of Nietzsche is that his theory of eternal return and the becoming of overman cancel each other out. There are two distinct layers of time at which Nietzsche’s teaching operates. First is the linear time of history, the time in which animals live, it is a measurable time. Birth, reproduction, internalisation, metabolism, dissolution all take place in this time; it is the time of life and death. The exact opposite of this time is the circular time of the spirit. It is a time that transcends the linear time and the physical world. It is a product of man’s dissatisfaction with the physical world; a will to go beyond the physical and/or outside time. He conceived of both of these forms of time (Aeon and Chronos) and he existed in both at the same time. He was a man who knew that there is nothing outside physical time and/but who still strived to go beyond this time.

Stoic: How agonizing is that? I think it is none other than himself he is talking about when he says,

Precisely this is what the ascetic ideal means: that something was lacking, that an enormous void surrounded man—he did not know how to justify, to explain, to affirm himself: he suffered from the problem of his meaning. He suffered otherwise as well, he was for the most part a diseased animal: but the suffering itself was not his problem, rather that the answer was missing to the scream of his question: “to what end suffering?”[3]

All his life he tried to make sense of the inordinate measure of suffering and privation he had to endure. In vain he looked for a way of exposing “the vanity of all human wishes.” He was dissatisfied with his life and he hated himself for that. He kept resisting the Stoic within himself. But his Sceptic side was incapable of putting something other than the teachings of Socrates in the place left empty by the demolition of his Stoic side. He equally resented having remained under the shadow of Socrates. To escape from Socrates he attacked Plato’s metaphysics of presence and did this with the tools he borrowed from Heraclitus; a pre-Stoic philosopher who has deeply influenced both the Zeno of Citium, who was the founder of Stoicism, and the Zeno of Elea, who explained how it could be possible for a tortoise to pass Achilles in a race. If you look at the latter Zeno’s paradox carefully you see that what he wants to say with all his arrow business is that there can be no motion out of immobility. Yes, the arrow is at rest at every instant and the mind unites those individual instants each a picture in itself. What the eye receives is already what the mind’s synthesizing force creates. We see the arrow in motion when in fact it is, at every instant of its existence, at rest. You see where Zeno is coming from there. He is coming from Heraclitus’ idea that “one cannot step into the same river twice.” The river which is stepped into is a different river at each instant of its flow. You can see that Heraclitus is making a distinction between the flowing water and the bed in which it flows. It is Heraclitus who first splits time. So Zeno finds himself in a split time and can say that before rational thought unites time there is no movement to be perceived.

Sceptic: But this means that Zeno thinks reason creates something out of nothing, or movement out of immobility.

Stoic: And this is very similar to the foundational truth upon which Epictetus builds his therapeutic philosophy. Epictetus says that we create our history, our past, present, and future. It is up to us to change the way we perceive things, put them in a new light, see ourselves differently, and act in way which would be in harmony with nature, in accordance with reason, and for the benefit of all. Epictetus doesn’t see the care of the self as other than the care for the other, he reconciles the interior and the exterior of the subject. So knowledge is a construct of the synthesis of the internal and the external; we project what we have introjected. Between projection and introjection there is a synthetic activity that unites the internal and the external, or the psychic and the material. And a balance between the truth of what’s really going on outside and how the subject perceives this truth is a sign of health. An internally constituted external authority, the truth of universal humanist rationalism, governs the subject in harmony with nature. Listen to what nature says to you and you will know the right thing to do, truth is of nature, say the Stoics. But Plato says: “I, the truth, am speaking.” How megalomaniac is that?

Sceptic: It is quite megalomaniac indeed. And that is the Platonic side of Nietzsche, an exaggerated self-confidence.

Stoic: But with the thought of eternal return Nietzsche is shattered. He realizes how random and chaotic life is and I think his thought of eternal return is a response to his fragmentation at the time he was in Turin. The contingency of all things led him to formulate the eternal return, a circular time with no beginning or an end. In this circular time “a throw of the dice will never abolish the chance,” as Mallarmé put it. So after the nihilistic fantasies and Dionysian hallucinations are traversed the new age of bliss begins for the ones who have learned to learn from what happens to them in this life and rather than fall into the wound pass across it and affirm life as it is. Amor fati is both the driving force and the outcome of the eternal return. Everyone is born free. One who loves one’s fate whatever happens is free. It is a very Stoic thought; as long as the mind is free who cares about the body in chains. But this is not to despise the body, on the contrary, Stoics do care about their bodies; cleanliness, appetite, health, good behaviour, humour, kindness, affirmative attitude; it is a very naturalist social philosophy.

Sceptic: I didn’t know that you were so off the rails. If I understood you correctly, in eternal return there is no room for Darwinist linear evolution. Evolution is peculiar to linear time. Nietzsche is after finding a new form of progressive movement in complicity with the circular movement of time. The idea of eternal return is a very vague formulation of what he was really after. It is Bergson who came closer to saying what Nietzsche wanted to say. In his Creative Evolution Bergson investigates Zeno’s paradox and comes to the conclusion that Zeno’s idea that there can be no movement in-itself because time is infinitely divided within itself is not sufficient to theorize a practical and creative evolutionary process other than a linear progress. Bergson says that cinema achieves what Zeno thought was impossible. By creating motion pictures out of pictures at rest at every instant he introduces mind as a projection-introjection mechanism just like a camera. “But while our consciousness thus introduces succession into external things, inversely these things themselves externalise the successive moments of our inner duration in relation to one another.”[4] Bergson doesn’t differ from Zeno as much as he thinks he does, in that, it was Zeno who said mind projects what it had introjected. And this projection-introjection mechanism is a binding-splitting force at the same time. It binds the subject to the social as it splits the subject within itself, right?

Stoic: Well, almost. It is a matter of working through ways of dealing with history, with the contingency of every event and the randomness of what happens to us in time. Stoics look down on death and suffering. They say that which has happened cannot be changed in linear time, but in circular time everything can be changed in perception and then projected onto the present so as to leave behind the traumatic incident and move on towards becoming present. So, you see, you are always already present and yet this presence is always changing in relation to your past and future, and hence while you are always present you are never present, you are always a non-presence becoming present. So the way in which you relate to your past, the way in which you read your history, determines your actions at present, so why don’t you read your past in such a way as to enable yourself to become self-present. It is about creating the self so as to create itself as a perpetually renewed self-presence. It is not out of nothing that something is created, there never is nothing for the self. You can see that it is all very closely related to the thought of death in Stoics. “Let death and exile and everything that is terrible appear before your eyes every day, especially death; and you will never have anything contemptible in your thoughts or crave anything excessively.”[5] It is one of his principal doctrines always to start from sense-experience. Life is a process of breaking down and remaking the sense of experience.

Sceptic: And after his intense sense-experiences Nietzsche dies, leaving behind words that have long ago ceased to be his. Writing is a process of transforming the sense-experience to make it visible for the others. But at the same time writing is itself a sense-experience. And in Nietzsche we very occasionally see writing about the experience of writing. There is an intense meditation on the affective quality of language in Nietzsche.

Sceptic: But he is partly blind to what’s going on not only inside him but also outside him.

Stoic: He gets too excited about the affect of language. And together with the will to experience more of it he falls on the side of total dissolution. He pushes his thought to its limit after which there is nothing, but he goes on and in utter dismemberment he finds himself. But when he finds himself he is already dismembered and so finds that there is no self outside the social. To find that out he had to push his thought to its limit and pay the price with the loss of his mental health. Perhaps he was a bit too aggressive towards the Stoics who could have shown him a way out of his dilemma: “Remember that what is insulting is not the person who abuses you or hits you, but the judgement about them that they are insulting. So when someone irritates you be aware that what irritates you is your own belief. Most importantly, therefore, try not to be carried away by appearance, since if you once gain time and delay you will control yourself more easily.”[6] But Nietzsche was busy with struggling with Stoics for their rationality and universality.

Sceptic: Well, Nietzsche’s aim has never been to write therapeutic prescriptions for the ill. He sees this as taming. And yet this is what he is doing. With Nietzsche therapy and critical theory confront each other. “With priests everything simply becomes more dangerous, not only curatives and healing arts, but also arrogance, revenge, acuity, excess, love, lust to rule, virtue, disease; though with some fairness one could also add that it was on the soil of this essentially dangerous form of human existence, the priestly form, that man first became an interesting animal, that only here did the human soul acquire depth in a higher sense and become evil—and these are, after all, the two basic forms of the superiority of man over other creatures!…”[7]  Here he is talking about Christianity and Buddhism, but you can imagine the same criticism directed against not only Plato but also the Stoics. Nietzsche’s sees the Jews as the beginners of “the slave revolt in morality.”[8] You see, he is after an attitude to life that would be neither Jewish nor Greek. And the common ground on which both the Greek and the Jewish civilizations are built is an assumption that man is superior to other animals. It is not difficult to see where he is coming from if you remember that Christians thought Jews to be as inferior as animals. As for Buddhism, it is passive nihilism, a will to nothingness, for what is Nirvana if not a mystical union with God, with nothingness. After dissolving all these belief systems in a universal cesspool Nietzsche moves on to a revaluation of all values in the light of the Genesis in The Old Testament: “At the beginning was the word.” But what God is, for Nietzsche, is precisely this: nothingness. It doesn’t start from nothingness, it starts with language, and everything comes from language which has neither a beginning nor an end.

Stoic: But I think you are missing Nietzsche’s point there. For there is a pre-linguistic domain which is not nothingness, but something in between nothingness and everything that there is, that space between is the realm of partial objects which serve the purpose of relating to the world even before the language is acquired. And with this he comes back to what Zeno was saying. At the beginning there is no-motion, but that state of the being of things is not perceivable, for the mind unites partial-objects to form a sequence of events, before which there is nothing perceivable. Zeno says, movement in-itself and for itself is impossible because there can be no movement prior to the synthesis of the individual states of being at rest. But with cinema we see that motionless pictures are put one after the other in a particular sequence and when the film revolves a continuity of images, a flow of pictures is created. There is the illusion of one continuous motion of events when in fact each event is a motionless picture in itself.

Sceptic: But if it cannot be perceived how can you say that at the beginning there is nothing and immobility?

Stoic: Well, that’s not what I’m saying. There is nothing at the beginning precisely because nothing can be perceived before the beginning. You see, there is the absence of something, there is nothing as the object of perception. You have to assume that beginning itself has no beginning so that you can begin living, acting, and doing things. Otherwise how can you live with the thought of being surrounded by nothingness and death at all times? Death is where you cannot be. It is absolutely other to you, its presence signifies your absence and inversely. Perhaps we should have said there is nothing before the beginning and after the end. That fits in better with everything.

Sceptic: Yes, and with this sentence the riddle is solved to some extent; it is not a matter of beginning or ending; everything is in the middle, and nothing is before the beginning and after the end. The eternal return has neither a beginning nor an end.

Stoic: Even when you die your body is still in the process of dissolving; you dissolve into other things and become something else. It is not resurrection I’m talking about here. Nor is resurrection what Nietzsche attempted to theorize with the thought of eternal return, but a very materialist understanding of nature and its relation to man. Nietzsche never says what exactly the eternal return means but from what he says we come to a grasp of what it might mean. Let me quote Nietzsche at length. In this one of the best descriptions of what the eternal return might mean we see Zarathustra talking with a dwarf about time, the moment as a gateway to possibilities, and the passage of time.

 ‘Everything straight lies,’ murmured the dwarf disdainfully. ‘All truth is crooked, time itself is a circle.’

‘Spirit of Gravity!’ I said angrily, ‘do not treat this too lightly! Or I shall leave you squatting where you are, Lamefoot—and I have carried you high!

‘Behold this moment!’ I went on. ‘From this gateway Moment a long, eternal lane runs back: an eternity lies behind us.

‘Must not all things that can run have already run along this lane? Must not all things that can happen have already happened, been done, run past?

‘And if all things have been here before: what do you think of this moment, dwarf? Must not this gateway, too, have been here—before?

‘And are not all things bound fast together in such a way that this moment draws after it all future things? Therefore—draws itself too?

‘For all things that can run must also run once again forward along this long lane.

‘And this slow spider that creeps along in the moonlight, and this moonlight itself, and I and you at this gateway whispering together, whispering of eternal things—must we not all have been here before?

‘—and must we not return and run down that other lane out before us, down that long, terrible lane—must we not return eternally?’[9]

You see, what renders the eternal return possible is saying yes to difference in repetition. The eternal return is Nietzsche’s grand conception which excludes all binary opposition and defies the binary logic of being and non-being. You can see that it is far away from what Diogenes Laertius was saying concerning the relationship between absence and presence. For Laertius where there is absence there can be no presence and inversely. But Nietzsche thinks that being and non-being, presence and absence are intermingled, are the two constitutive parts of becoming. One side of becoming accomplishes its movement while the other fails to accomplish its movement. So the persistence of being can only take the form of becoming. It is the becoming of being that counts as the immaculate conception of the eternal return. The eternal return is not a metaphysical concept, rather it renders possible attachment to the material world, the world as it is before turning into a fable in and through a linear narrative of history. The eternal return is a tool for interpreting the world in its infinity and finitude at the same time, and its legacy lies in its rejection of both a purely transcendental and a purely immanent interpretation of the world. When Nietzsche makes the dwarf say “everything straight lies[…] all truth is crooked, time itself is a circle,” he is pointing towards an ethical imperative, namely, that one must give free rein to the unconscious drives so that in time, as these drives are let to manifest themselves in and through language, it becomes apparent that it is ridiculous to repress them for it is repression itself that produces them; so the more one represses them the more one contributes to their strengthening. As you see what at stake here is a way of governing the self in relation to others. Eternal return is will to power and will to nothingness at the same time, it is the name of the process of becoming through which the subject becomes other than itself. This becoming other than itself of the subject is in the form of an emergence of the new out of the old, that is, realization of an already existing possibility and will towards its actualisation through this realization. So the subject assumes what it was in the past and upon this assumption builds its present as already past and yet to come. It is in this context that Foucault says genealogy is “a history of the present.”

Sceptic: Very interesting. You seem to have figured out the ways of passing across the avenues Gilles Deleuze opened in the way of explicating the meaning of eternal return and its use. Look at what he says in a passage, perhaps the most lucid articulation of Deleuze’s conception of time and its passage in Nietzsche and Philosophy:

What is the being of that which becomes, of that which neither starts nor finishes becoming? Returning is the being of that which becomes. “That everything recurs is the closest approximation of a world of becoming to world of being—high point of the meditation.” [Will to Power, 617] This problem for the meditation must be formulated in yet another way; how can the past be constituted in time? How can the present pass? The passing moment could never pass if it were not already past and yet to come—at the same time as being present. If the present did not pass of its own accord, if it had to wait for a new present in order to become past, the past in general would never be constituted in time, and this particular present would not pass. We cannot wait, the moment must be simultaneously present and past, present and yet to come, in order for it to pass (and to pass for the sake of other moments). The present must coexist with itself as past and yet to come. The synthetic relation of the moment to itself as present, past and future grounds its relation to other moments. The eternal return is thus an answer to the problem of passage. And in this sense it must not be interpreted as the return of something that is, that is “one” or the “same.” We misinterpret the expression “eternal return” if we understand it as “return of the same.”[10]

Stoic: It is true. Let me explain. With the big-bang a substance of infinite intensity begins its still ongoing process of expansion-contraction. And this process must always already be complete for it to even begin taking its course of becoming; everything happens at present and for that reason there is neither a beginning nor an end of time. The force combinations are infinitely repeated but because of its previous repetition the quality of the forces themselves change and give birth to its becoming different from itself through repetition of what it assumes itself to be in relation to time. So the subject always already is what it strives to become and yet the only way to actualise this becoming what one is is this: one has to realize that what one is striving to become is already what one is. All the configurations have to repeat themselves eternally for the return of the same to take place. But when this same returns one sees that it has never been the same but always already different from itself. When the future comes it becomes present, the subject is always at present and can never know what it would be like to exist in another present. There is nothing and the present.

Sceptic: Eternal return is the first conceptualisation of the death drive. It is not death drive but it operates the way death-drive operates, and since none of these have any existence outside their operations they are the two different forms the same content takes. The subject of the eternal return wills nothingness and this willing nothingness always returns as a will to power. You can see that Nietzsche uses this grand conception of the relationship between creation and destruction to invert destructive and reactive Nihilism into the spotlight; he turns Nihilism against itself through the thought of eternal return as the thought of becoming other than what one thinks one is. What was repressed and locked into the unconscious once turns into its opposite and becomes the order of the day in a new light and in another time. In this light time is itself the fourth dimension of space. That is how Nietzsche can see the rise of Nihilism in its material, historical conditions. We all come and keep coming from inorganic substance and will end up there. Nietzsche’s confrontation with truth was the confrontation of brain with chaos. And out of this confrontation emerges the truth of the death drive, the will to nothingness disguised as the will to truth, the internally constituted external governor of a Nihilistic Europe.

Stoic: Yes. They are in our midst and yet exterior to us. We are surrounded and governed by nothingness and death which have neither a beginning nor an end. Well, at least not for us, who are those governed by them. For when we die we are nowhere to see our dead bodies or experience death as our own. Death occurs where there is the absence of my self’s sense-experience, all the rest is a process of being towards death, dying, becoming-dead. When death finally arrives even my name ceases to be mine, or rather, it is realized that even my name has never been mine. There remains no one to carry out my life in my name once death is here.

Sceptic: Death and nothingness are interior and exterior to us at the same time. Most of us, however, keep the thought of death at bay at all times; those of us are the ones who live their lives without thinking about death, for they think, in a Spinozan fashion, that “he who is free thinks of nothing less than of death and his meditation is a wisdom not of death but of life.” This is the time of good-sense where everything is identical and everything can be substituted by something else.

Stoic: The will to power and the will to nothingness reverse the roles. We break down as we go along the way towards the completion of passing across the field of partial objects.

Sceptic: Precisely. You told me what I was trying to tell you.  And what is thought worth if it is not in the service of the present? Sacrificing the present by scarfacing yourself for the sake of a better future face is itself the worst thing that can be done to your face at all times. In vain is he/she who strives for immortality.

Stoic: Let us move on to the subjects of finitude and infinity, then. Here is a question for you: Are we finite becomings or infinite beings?

Sceptic: We might as well be neither or both of these. It’s a matter of taste depending on whether you see being alive as a process of dying or a process of living.

Stoic: I think we who are alive, or at least think we are, are infinite beings by nature, but turn into finite becomings in and through our cultures. I say we are infinite beings because infinity has no beginning or end, so it’s impossible for an infinite entity to be a becoming, only a being can be infinite, whereas a finite entity has a beginning from which its becoming starts taking its course and comes to a halt at the end. Since the concept of time is a cultural construct imposed on nature by human beings, because we see other people die, we have come to imagine that we are limited by finitude and surrounded by infinity, when in fact it is the other way around; that is, we are infinite beings and death constitutes an internal limit to our being in the world, giving birth to our idea of ourselves as finite becomings. Do you understand?

Sceptic: Yes I do. We don’t have to strive for immortality, for we are always already immortals who are incapable of realising their immortalities.

Stoic: Shall we leave it at that, then?

Sceptic: Let’s do so.

Stoic: No last words?

Sceptic: None at all.

Stoic: No worst of all words.

Sceptic: None worse than last words.

Stoic: Well then, the end to which we are all devoted shall be to raise our glasses to this worsening suffering!

Sceptic: To what end last words?

Stoic: To what end suffering?

Stoic and Sceptic: Oh, dear!


[1] Friedrich Nietzsche, On The Genealogy of Morality, trans. Maudemarie Clark and Alan J. Swensen (Cambridge: Hackett, 1998), 117

[2] Friedrich Nietzsche, On The Genealogy of Morality, trans. Maudemarie Clark and Alan J. Swensen (Cambridge: Hackett, 1998), 103

[3] Friedrich Nietzsche, On The Genealogy of Morality, trans. Maudemarie Clark and Alan J. Swensen (Cambridge: Hackett, 1998), 117

[4] Henri Bergson, Time and Free Will, 228

[5] Epictetus, The Encheiridion: The Handbook, trans. Nicholas P. White (Cambridge: Hackett, 1983), 16

[6] Epictetus, 16

[7] Friedrich Nietzsche, On the Genalogy of Morality, 15-6

[8] Nietzsche, 17

[9] Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, 178-9

[10] Gilles Deleuze, Nietzsche and Philosophy, 48

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