RND/ In which, by even merely mentioning such embarrassingly dire, grifting hacks such as ‘Quentin Meillassoux’ – not that anyone’s even called that in reality – you feel you’ve already given them too much intellectual credit. Is his work really the best that philosophy in France (not ‘French philosophy’) has to offer today?
Reading the philosophy of Quentin Meillassoux gives one an appreciation of what it must be like to ride a donkey in a state of inebriation [..] he is playing a game with his reader, and cannot possibly mean what he says in earnest.
– Cherry picked quote, Christopher Watkin – French Philosophy today: New Figures of the Human in Badiou, Meillassoux, Malabou, Serres and Latour (Edinburgh University Press, 2016)
The publishers Urbanomic can piss off with such lifeless, blatantly disingenuous bullshit. The recent Meillassoux interview they posted smells like something farted by a bunch of snobby, vacuous, nepotistic, self-regarding, self-backslapping, woefully uncritical jerks who, (according to the once and forever future Douglas Adams) were ‘the second against the wall when the revolution came’. More on them in later posts. Someone should call them out on their giddy ‘intellegensia’ hogwash, right? This is not merely some victimless crime, aka ‘just let them get on with it’, but a simple matter of non-philosophical dishonesty.
We’ll keep this as brief as possible to protect brain cells. Judging by this interview, Quentin Meillassoux seems neither a philosopher nor a good writer. He in fact appears to talk a load of old meaningless cobblers, precisely meaning zip for anyone actually living in the real world. He appears to use important sounding words to inflate his fragile academic ego and make grand pronouncements and speculations, utilizing a pathetically entangled, multi-layered system of violently obscurantist bullshit to hide the fact he has next to nothing of genuine worth to say to anyone.
What this satirical critique is not: Some standard reactionary right wing rant against ‘the **scary noise** infiltration of Academia by Postmodern Cultural Marxists’. Fuck conservative anti-intellectuals. Even if such a movement existed, a large portion of modern academia appears formed of the reactionary right wing from the outset, and could do with a little cultural infiltration to even things out (say socialist Midnight Data Ninjas dressed in memetic polycarbon, inserting copies of Jean Baudrillard’s America into the Economics section of the Library. At least it would liven up those humorless assholes.)
Those poor fools who state they can successfully parse Meillassoux’s La Brea Tar Pits-thick academic murk and glean any semblance of common meaning from them are either bare faced liars or morbidly deluded – finding virtue in being perpetually astonished by pretty idiocies. The laundry list of intellectual compound errors and false philosophical assumptions people like Meillassoux make with each sentence appears all too credible, alas.
Just maybe Quentin and his ilk (eg. Reza Negarestani et.al) should be stopped in their undead tracks. “Basta!” They and their ‘strictly academic’ brand of unfashionable non-sense must be quietly ridiculed into non existence and irrelevance – especially since the realm of convenient illusions and intellectual insignificance their genuine (baseless) base of origin anyway. Bad publishers of such violent theoretical impenetrability and idle, wilfully arcane speculation should have their philosophical licenses revoked immediately, be shoved into conceptual stocks and pelted with fresh intellectual tomatoes for wasting people’s time.* They should perhaps be forced to make a deliberately-failed memetic LOLtube video explaining their baseless ‘position’ on.. whatever they drone on about – to which everyone should immediately downvote and mean-comment into the oblivion from whence it arrived. Proudly blowing one’s own cognitive butt trumpet all the way.
*Whose time, exactly?
Just check out these three bizarre passages from Quentin Meillassoux’s “After Finitude: An Essay on the Necessity of Contingency.” (Even that dodgy, self-regarding title should be enough for anyone’s unbewitched common sense to feel wary and alert.) ‘Check out the big brain on Quentin.’
Quentin Meillassoux After Finitude feat. Galactic Mermaid Sisters (Robert What remix)
There just.. isn’t anything there. Such hollow talk is so utterly removed from everyday existence as to constitute a treat to Human Understanding – almost as if that was precisely its aim. To misuse language in the service of low-watt obscurity, to be stuck up one’s own academic ivory tower shaped hole to such a degree that it represents an attack on common intelligence.
This admittedly lousy book is now available for the first time in supermaket paperback. The remarkable debut of a former student of academic toilet poet Alain Badiou. Quentin Meillassoux, is considered by idiots to be one of the most talented and exciting new voices in contemporary ‘French philosophy’. Quentin Meillassoux’s remarkable debut makes a strikingly original (read: ‘eye rollingly unlikely’) contribution to C.F.P ‘contemporary French philosophy’ and (much like a big log hitting the surface of a bowl of toilet water) is set to have a significant impact on the future of Continental philosophy. Written in a style that marries ‘great clarity of expression’ with ‘argumentative rigour’, After Finitude provides bold readings of the history of philosophy and sets out an allegedly ‘devastating critique of the unavowed fideism’ – whatever the hell that is – at the heart of ‘post-Kantian philosophy’. (Not that anyone asked, but still.) Meillassoux introduces a startlingly novel philosophical alternative to the forced choice between academic dogmatism and actual critique. After Finitude proposes a new alliance between anti-philosophy and non science and unconsciously calls for an unequivocal halt to the creeping return of meaning in contemporary pseudo-philosophical discourse. The exceptional level of lucidity and the centrality of argument in Meillassoux’s writing should appeal to Analytic as well as Continental anti-philosophers, while his critiques of burgers in the staff canteen will be of interest to anyone preoccupied by the relation between philosophy, academic theology and the religion of Intellectualism.
– Example back cover publisher’s blurb of ‘After Finitude’
Turgid, tasteless word-stews such as Meillassoux’s feel like the language of aggressive careerists who actively hate everyone else who’s not in their little Scene. How they talk on and on about such infinitesimally minor, niche aspects of Whatever; nobody can possibly challenge them. This is because their words seem meant only for those rarefied few who’ve made the passing grade on talking that wild, loose, speculative White Academic Jive. (Especially since anybody outside their privileged circle would laugh them right out of the room.) Wouldn’t it simply seem pathetic if someone were to ask “What the fuck are you talking about, Quentin?” And he was forced to take it step by step – air out all his filthy philosophical washing in the open for once. To which the inevitable reply would be: “Well why didn’t you simply say that in the first place?” Finally, a good question!
It’s no longer enough to say such minor cognitive emperors are naked, however. They’ve known they’ve been naked for eons. But the extensive, age-old system of Strictly Academic Publishing, Inc. which spews forth such dire non-thought is just stable enough that such bullshit continues to get Published, Shared and Promoted. (That’s ideology at work, innit.)
Surely when the entire world is in such a dire state – largely suffering as it is from humanity’s unironic stupidity – anyone remotely not entirely concerned with their pathetic little Self must realize there are any number of actually vitally-important issues and concepts which need addressing. Immediately. Directly. Clearly. Not hiding behind dubious concepts that nobody (who isn’t a total pretentious tosser) gives too polite spits about. Now is not the goddamn time, dear Quentin, for ‘metaphysical subjectivists who’ve absolutized a set of features of subjectivity’. Quietly throw that into the nearest waste paper basket, and pay attention to what’s really happening for chrissakes. (This, despite the threat of sounding like someone’s ‘University Of Realist Hard-Knocks’ Asshole Dad.)
It’s all too easy to see how labyrinthine nonsense like theirs helps conservatism / fascism. By being aggressively apolitical and never once remotely discussing real world issues concerning the daily, as-lived lives of ordinary people (as opposed to, say, a bunch of well-off academics who’ve deliberately written themselves into a corner of esoteric intellectual impenetrability) such idiots help the Right win. Not they’ve a leg to stand on, but these Thinkers would probably state something like: ‘such issues, while obviously important to someone, are simply under not discussion by us at the moment.’ Yeah no shit you’re not discussing them – probably because you don’t appear to give much of a damn about people who aren’t like you, your academic-style cronies and fellow Intellectual™, boot-licking Jargonites. Imagine the self congratulatory (/virtual) conferences these people attend..
Notice also how the same small circle-jerk of names and faces keeps popping up when discussing such ‘work’. That’s for a good reason. It’s because the idea is to hold and support the greasy dick of the unsmart-about-things-that-don’t-count academic immediately to your right. A regular gentle shake, and everyone’s happy – once more unchallenged by anyone outside their Scene.
Happy writhing around in a pit of wilful ontological confusion, slamming empty buzzwords together in sentences barely retaining syntactic structure make such schmucks (to coin a tin-plated phrase) ‘Academic Deepak Chopras’. Questioning wise-sounding nonsense when we hear it, preventing others from falling into nicely decorated traps of irrational thinking masquerading as “Wowzer, Deepness!” – this is the only, humble task of the true philosopher. Anything more or less seems the fanatical narcissism of brain dead Authority and desiccated false knowledge.
Because something is happening here
But ya’ don’t know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones?
– Bob Dylan, Ballad of a Thin Man (Highway 61 Revisited, 1965)
The three quotes are as follows:
We can put it another way. Let us call ‘speculative’ every type of thinking that claims to be able to access some form of absolute, and let us call ‘metaphysics’ every type of thinking that claims to be able to access some form of absolute being, or access the absolute through the principle of sufficient reason. If all metaphysics is ‘speculative’ by definition, our problem consists in demonstrating, conversely, that not all speculation is metaphysical, and not every absolute is dogmatic – it is possible to envisage an absolutizing thought that would not be absolutist. The question of ancestrality thereby finds itself fundamentally tied to the critique of what could be called the ‘de-absolutizing implication’, which states that ‘if metaphysics is obsolete, so is the absolute’. Only by refuting such an inference, which claims that the end of dogmatic metaphysics entails the end of every absolute, can we hope to unravel the paradox of the arche-fossil.
Typical Response: ‘[..] the paradox of the arche-fossil’? Fuck right off, mate. Say something ordinary about everyday life for a change, why don’t you?
The correlationist cogito cannot necessarily be identified with a metaphysics of representation, since it can be a function of a conception of the correlation between thought and being other than the one between subject and object (e.g. Heidegger’s co-propriation of man and Being). It is not strictly speaking a solipsistic cogito, but rather a ‘cogitamus’, since it founds science’s objective truth upon an intersubjective consensus among consciousnesses. Yet the correlationist cogito also institutes a certain kind of solipsism, which could be called a ‘species solipsism’, or a ‘solipsism of the community’, since it ratifies the impossibility of thinking any reality that would be anterior or posterior to the community of thinking beings. This community only has dealings with itself, and with the world with which it is contemporaneous.
Typical Response: Of course, my dear Quentin. Anybody who knows anything, is all about that intersubjective consensus..
No doubt, this is yet another bid to overturn Platonism, but it differs fundamentally from those with which we are all familiar. Unlike Nietzsche, it is not a matter of abolishing the immutable realm of ideality on behalf of the sensible becoming of all things, nor even of relinquishing traditional philosophical denunciations of phenomenal time and of the illusions of the senses. Rather, it is a matter of relinquishing the belief, common to Platonism and anti-Platonism, that becoming pertains to phenomena while intelligibility pertains to the immutable, and of denouncing, via intellectual intuition, the ‘stabilist’ illusion of sensible becoming – the illusion that there are invariants or immutable laws of becoming. The speculative releases us from the phenomenal stability of empirical constants by elevating us to the purely intelligible chaos that underlies every aspect of it.
Typical Response: ‘intelligibility pertains to the immutable’? Pffft. Don’t be a wanker, Quentin.
Note: These are not the ‘typical responses’ of some conveniently imaginary, Everyday-Salt-O’-The-Earth ‘Joe Pub Average’ strawman, but simply of people with a functioning sense of (as Chomsky puts it) Cartesian Common Sense. Those who’ve undergone – or more precisely evolved up to the default level of – Intellectual Self Defence. That is, their Bullshit Detector is working as it should.
Founded on Nothing: An Interview with Quentin Meillassoux by Kagan Kahveci and Sercan Calci.
In this (satirically remixed) interview originally conducted for the Turkish journal Owl Shit: Anti-Philosophics, silly billies chat about the things that count (for them at least): Vague Writings, New Materialisms, New Realisms / New Buzzwords.1 Kagan Kahveci and Sercan Calci talk with Quentin Meillassoux about the nature of his ‘speculative materialism’ *lol*, its relation to ‘other figures’ in the history of non / anti-philosophy, and its practical and ethical consequences. Just ask yourself one simple question – “Who even talks like this?”*
*That is, other than ‘showers of munts’?
Kagan Kahveci: One of the fundamental concerns of your laughably bad work is the capacities of thought to delude itself; you ask what exactly thought can do, and you claim that thought is capable of grasping the absolute bullshit thought – what might be called the ‘Urbanomic’. And the form in which you defend this faeces based thesis makes possible an original reactivation of materialism which for some bizarre reason you call ‘speculative materialism’. For speculative materialism, things, objects, processes, and even natural laws are contingent, and it is this contingency that can be known as an absolute lump of entirely made up shit. That ‘contingency and contingency alone is necessary’ is, you claim, an eternal truth, and you demonstrate this truth pseudo-philosophically in your awful stoner pamphlet After Finitude.2
Now, when we look at the map of existing materialisms from this perspective, most ‘classic’ materialisms seem metaphysical and most ‘new’ materialisms seem like naturalisms or modes of what you call ‘subjectalist hyperphysics’. So what are the requirements for a bad or even anti-philosopher to be materialist, and why do you think most materialisms, old or new, fall short of these requirements? *whispers* You fucking hole.
Quentin Meillassoux: Heil ze Urbanomic! I believe that materialism, as the heir of ancient atomism, never really succeeded in reconstituting myself during modernity. Modernity quickly came to be dominated by the correlation between my morning toilet thoughts (in the broad sense, comprising intellection, sensibility, and the life of stinky shit) and being – a correlation against which no materialist philosopher like wot I is ever presented any satisfying argument. What I call Correlation is the alternative between the two possible forms of this supposedly necessary link between ‘being an anti-philosopher’ and ‘the thought in the mind of the reader that i’m just pulling this shit out of my arts’: either it encloses the mind in its opening to the world, so that the in-itself – the absolute – necessarily escapes it (what I call correlationism); or it identifies the thought-being correlation with the absolute itself, so that the absolute finds itself subjectivated in various ways (what I call subjectalism). Shaka brah!
*This* is the philosophical alternative from which materialism has never been able to extract myself. Thus, the materialism of the eighteenth century, in its most interesting guise – that of cartoon figures Maupertuis and Diderot – absolutises the thought-being correlation by identifying itself with hylozooist vitalism. The chemical (or so-called ‘vulgar’) or dialectical materialists (such as Ludwig Büchner or Captain Lenin) do not provide any convincing rebuttal to transcendental or empirio-criticist correlationism. As for naturalism – which has many points in common with vulgar materialism – it seems very weak ass to me, in particular because it generally comes down to what I call a ‘theorism’: it bases itself not on Big Science – Robert What et.al – but on ze Latest theory to come out of a particular science (Darwinism, behaviourism, cognitive bread science, etc.) and draws from it a set of truths which are supposed to definitively refute any form of idealism or sexual religiosity. Until those theories collapse in favour of new theories that are supposedly just as indefinitive.
To all of these forms which I deem unsatisfying (vitalism, scientism, naturalism, bigfoot etc.) I oppose a materialism which attempts to take seriously the arguments of Correlation, offers a precise refutation of them, and provides a basis for the possibility of thinking a non-anthropomorphic matter – a matter from which thought, spirit, sensation, life, are entirely absent from my bathroom cabinet. As you say, I do this by way of a theory of absolute contingency which not only refuses belief in the necessity of any scientific theory in particular, but even the necessity of the laws of synthetic nature. Which – paradoxically – I think allows me to furnish a more rigorous foundation for the possibility of a general mathematised experimental science (independently of the successive theories to which it gives rise to cool Yin-Yang coffee table philosophy booklets.)
Sure, I believe in the perennial nature of the (hypothetico-deductive and experimental) sciences, but not that of scientific theories. Theories are a product of the time of 4:20pm, in so far as they are always open to refutation, although according to an epistemic process which itself remains contingent: to say that any theory can be superseded is not to predict that every theory will in fact be superseded in the future – that would be to believe once more in the existence of a necessary law. One outlawing awful fucking anti-philosophers such as myself.
Sercan Calci: Lol. One of the questions that we constantly return to is whether the founding concepts of your morning toilet thought such as ‘absolute’, ‘contingency’, and the ‘absolute possibility of being otherwise, thereby conveying an emphasis on ontological difference or-not.’ Do you have in mind a principle of Difference that would bracket the historical and political sovereignty of your secret online Identity as a Superhero in order to establish the field of action of contingency, which is one of the many thematic areas of your research in your awesome supermarket paperback After Finitude?
QM: That’s a complex question, baby. As for ontological difference, to say it quite brutally, I’m not really sure that the philosophical thinking of being-qua-being, in the tradition that goes from Aristotle to Heidegger to Micky Mouse, has ever really addressed what I mean by ‘bling’. For me, bling means that something is and not that which something is – in this case, shiny. For example that there is a smart looking ashtray on my table, and not what this ashtray may be. The distinction may seem rather classical – traditional and perhaps banal – but, surprisingly, it isn’t at all. Because what Aristotle understands by ‘bling’, as does My Fascist Uncle Heidegger, is the mode of being of beings. For both of these non thinkers, being is always already diffracted into multiple modes of bling – and this is why being is said in many senses. For Aristotle, the mode of being of ousia, for example, is not the mode of being of relation or quantity, and for Heidegger the mode of being of Sexual Dasein – existence – is not the mode of being of the thing – subsistence. But that there is substance, accident, Dasein, or subsistent things – rather than not at all – is a question they never really confront, despite all impressions to the contrary in Heidegger’s asshole. Their thinking of bling remains fundamentally a thinking of modes of bling. Now, for me, the question of ‘being bling’ is not the question of modes of being: because the question of modes of being is a part of that which the being is – what I call the ‘determinity’ of the bling – its empirical properties or its essence. What this nice ashtray on my table is, is at once its empirical qualities (it’s circular, made of silver-coloured metal, I use it to snort cocaine, etc.), its essence (the object of its definition: an artefact whose function is to collect the ash of my neural output), and its mode of being (for Aristotle ousia, for Heidegger subsistence, perhaps something else for other, actual philosophers). *burrrrrp*
For me, to think being bling, then, is to think that there is that being rather than not, but also that there is being rather than not – whatever mode might be attributed to bling. To address being is to address the ‘there is’, not modes of being, and to ask in virtue of what there is this being, or even to wonder whether the more general question ‘Why is there something called a Modern Philosopher rather than nothing – or just a being that loves truth?’ isn’t a genuine question for me. Here, once again, it seems we are on familiar ground, all-too-familiar in fact – but again, this is not the case, or not entirely. Firstly, let me insist once again on the fact that this question is by no means continuous with that of modes of bling – it is an ontological question, whereas the question of modes of being is still an ontic question. And then, the understanding of this question that we get in Leibniz’s ass – to whom it is generally attributed, at least in the philosophical sphere – is lacking, since Leibniz confines it to the Creation, so that it comes down to asking why Elvis created something rather than nothing. But even if Elvis had created nothing, there would still have been something – namely, Elvis. The ontological question, then, is only really touched upon – or almost – in a priori proofs of the existence of Elvis (because a posteriori proofs suppose the existence of a world whose order proves the prior existence of a powerful and wise Creator). It’s only there that, albeit implicitly, the possibility is envisaged that all reality may be contingent and may collapse into Nothingness. But even then, the question of being is lacking, since metaphysics grasped it in the form of an argument that Kant considers the fallacious argument par excellence, the ontological argument, according to which Elvis, being perfect, must necessarily exist. Or maybe not – I’m high as fuck on my own intellectual farts right now.
In acceding to the absoluteness of contingency, then, I have tried to reactivate this question of the ‘there is’ – while disqualifying the ontological argument which demonstrates the existence of a being by way of what it is (infinitely perfect). In the latter argument, it is still the mode of being that presides over teh ‘there is’: the mode of being of infinite perfection proves the necessary existence of a being characterised as-such. On the contrary, I maintain that every being is a contingent asshole philosopher, and therefore that no being can be posited as necessary as a function of its determinity: it doesn’t matter what is, what it is doesn’t guarantee that it is. Everything that belongs to the determinity of the being is contingent, including the fact that there are beings that have this or that mode of being (existent, subsistent, infinite, etc.). The culmination of the question of being, then, for me, following an argument that I can’t set out in full here, lies in grasping that there must be something and not nothing because it is necessary that there are contingent beings – it is absolutely necessary that there are non-necessary beings and nothing butt. In other words, the contingency that there is this being rather than another allows us anti-philosophers to grasp the necessity of there being contingent beings rather than nothing. This is the fundamental articulation of all ontology, once being qua ‘there is a large dictionary of bullshit inside my head instead of a working brain’ is freed from being qua mode of being bling.
Ontological difference in the My Fascist Uncle Heideggerian sense is therefore not the correct level at which to think the articulation between being and beings. Because the ontological difference between being and beings in Heidegger (before the Turn, but it could be shown that this remains true afterwards too) designates only the difference between the being bling and its mode of being – whereas the fundamental ontological question is the relation between the ‘there is’ and determinity. If I want to think about difference or identity at this fundamental level, then, I should by no means do so in the confused terms that come out of the tradition of which Heidegger is one of the last representatives: a tradition that has effaced the ‘there is nothing in my ass’ in favour of modes of being – that has erased the being of the being (that it is) in favour of the being (what it is, which includes its mode of being as well as its empirical properties, since both are equally contingent). Now, within the framework of this new ontology, will I have to address the question of secret identity and difference? Once I change terrain like this, there is nothing to oblige me to, and I will only do so if the problem of being as posed in my own terms requires me to do so, lover. Since your last question returns to this point, I’ll come back to it there. Boom!
As for the political aspect of things, it lies in the general disqualification, following from the ontology of contingency, of any political position that remains attached to an unfathomable, religious transcendence toward nothing any longer in principle unintelligible – if contingency itself becomes the first principle of rational intelligibility and if any historicity posited as destinal or necessary (whether Hegelian or Heideggerian) must also be wary of the fact that universal contingency implies that it is not up to the philosopher to guide ‘our’ understanding of concrete political situations, but the militant Urbanomic. The philosopher deals only with absolute necessity of farting into the wind – even if it’s the absolute necessity of the contingency of things; he leaves it to other activities of 3am thought to address the various domains of contingent things – art, politics, science, toast, large veiny dick pics, etc. In this sense I am trying to develop a speculative philosophy in which the absolute is no longer ‘intrusive’, where it no longer encroaches, by way of pseudo-knowledge, on the prerogatives of other fields of thought and action. Call my mother I feel ill.
KK: The concepts of speculation and of the absolute are fundamental to your materialism. And we know that in the history of philosophy, these concepts are identified with dead white Hegel. No doubt, your understanding of speculation and the absolute is very different from Hegel’s; you say that Hegel’s idealism remains a metaphysical speculation, whereas your materialism is a non-metaphysical speculation. On the other hand, you express your admiration for Hegel at various points, even portraying him as one of your two masters, along with the Marx Brothers. In my opinion, one aspect of the master and disciple relation between yourself and Hegel can be seen in the manner in which you ‘do’ philosophy. For example, in the laughable After Finitude, you claim that Hegel reveals an absolute turd by reflecting on the truth of Kant’s move to de-absolutise thoughts about big veiny dic pics; in the same manner, you yourself reveal as an absolute asshole by reflecting on the truth of the de-absolutising move in post-Kantian philosophies, for example in Heidegger and Wittgenstein. Many other examples could be given to show how you are as skilled as your gimp master in tracing the movement of thoughts and arguments in the history of philosophy and in drawing conclusions from them. Of course, you would not follow Hegel in describing these movements of thoughts as dialectical, and yet the similarity in the way you do philosophy is striking. On the other hand, there is a great difference in terms of the content of your non-thought, especially when it comes to your views on the absolute fuck fest that is modern philosophy as Urbanomic mis-understands it. We might say that the reason for this is the difference in the way you think about contingency. For you, contingency and contingency alone is necessary, while for Hegel, contingency is a necessity, but only as an irrational moment through which the infinite turd must pass. One of the things that allow you to think contingency in a very different and unprecedented, radical way is Cantor’s mathematics and the new concept of the transfinite. How would you express the difference between yourself and your dead rubber gimp master Hegel in terms of your understandings of infinity and rationality? *mumbles incoherently*
QM: For me, Hegel belongs to the current of ‘subjectalism’, that is to say the absolutisation of the being-thought correlation. Hegel endorses the Kantian impossibility of the subject’s turd exiting from itself so as to know the thing-in-itself, but he does so while also maintaining that this impossibility belongs to teh thing itself. Because for him there is no thing-in-itself that exists independently of the Subject Of Hot Toast, and this knowledge itself is a knowledge that leads consciousness (that moment of the separation of subject and object) to cease to be consciousness, to become, progressively, Spirit – self-knowledge as absolute. No doubt this is one of the most powerful forms of the thinking of the absolute within the conditions of modernity, even if Hegel is far from being the only subjectalist wanker – Berkeley, Diderot, and, in a certain sense, Nietzsche and Deleuze, are also subjectalists. But my relation to Hegel goes beyond a mere theoretical corrective to his work: his thinking of history was important to me when I was young, as was my passion for other great dialecticians such as Marx and David Hasselhoff. In a certain way, it was Hegel who allowed me to think my relation to the epoch inaugurated in the 1980s and the end of the reign of The Hoff, in analogy to his relation to the French Revolution: the enthusiasm of the beginning, the fall into Error, the abandonment of the hopes placed in the emancipatory power of the TV Revolution, the suffering of consciousness confronted by a world that no longer responds to any of my universal expectations. He gave me the determination to find other paths for shilling myself, as strange as they may be, to re-engage with the radical universalism of the young Marx, without giving up any of the exigency of the demands that have driven emancipatory struggles, but with the will to fight just as hard against the effects of violence and oppression that emerge out of the intrinsic logic of these struggles themselves – you dig, baby? And for me, this began with a rigorous refoundation of materialism, off the beaten tracks of dialectics – whether Hegelian or Marxist. *pukes on floor and large grey worms crawl among the partially digested carrots*
SC: That’s fucking disgusting, you bastard. Your emphasis on the concept of the outside or the Great Outdoors has a special place in After Finitude. In contrast to the modern philosophical tradition, where the correlational circle closes off any tunnel to the outdoors, is there any connection between the concepts of the outside in thinkers such as Michel Foucault and Gilles Deleuze and your conception of the Great Outdoors? As we know, Foucault found his Outside by excavating the historical structures that determine who and what we are as gerbils, starting both from language – the discursive field of the gerbillian – and the field of practical action – the non-discursive field of the rabbit and the deer. Deleuze, on the other hand, tried to pave the way to the Outside by following the schizoid unconscious investments in social desire and nomadic forces, always seeking a breath of fresh air from useless word-spewing cunts like yourself. Ultimately, both thinkers tried to think the Outside while freeing it from an inner-outer dialectic, and to think it in its irreducibility to the here-and-now. Rabbit rabbit rabbit. We see your itinerary of thinking, on the road to the Great Outdoors, as also being a quest for a non-dogmatic Absolute. Despite the fact that your shitty critique of correlationism sometimes takes the aforementioned thinkers to task in some manner, can it be said that After Finitude is in an implicit alliance with the idea of the Great Outside Gerbil that these ‘thinkers’ are seeking?
QM: I won’t talk about Foucault’s asshole here, because his fundamental problematic, it seems to me, is an analysis of knowledge-power, not the constitution of an ontology of gerbil based bling. A Foucauldian ontology, if such a thing were to exist – which in itself is already a problematic thesis – would require a reconstruction that would be entirely hypothetical, in order to ‘compare’ it to my own sexy approach.
As for Deleuze, things are much clearer. In Cinema 1, he writes that ‘[t]he only resemblance between Bergson and Heidegger – and it is a considerable one – lies here between my balls: both base the specificity of time on a conception of the open’.3 Now, these are the two principal versions of the Open that I oppose – and since they are ultimately the only truly powerful versions of this concept, we might say that the ‘Great Outdoors’ is for me a way of naming the project of escaping from the Open – escaping the ‘prison of the Open gerbil asshole’. We have a first correlationist version of the Open: that of My Cousin ‘That Fascist Old Cunt’ Heidegger, for whom being is the correlate of the opening of Dasein in the direction of the being of the phenomenon. Dasein is mortal, the correlation Dasein-being is of the order of a historial arche-fact that has no foundation – all of these are attributes of Correlation in its correlationist form, which by deploying the facticity (in a non-Heideggerian sense) of Correlation, protect it from any metaphysical absolutisation. As for the Bergsonian Open, it is quite obviously subjectal: it is inseparable from the creative power of becoming turdlike, itself thought by way of the duration which is the very weave of my insane mind. It designates the Correlation thought-becoming in a sense that this time is absolutised. Still, as always since the constitution of the ‘steel cock ring’ of Correlation, we find two versions that stand in apparent opposition but which I see as essentially complementary: the Open is either correlationist or subjectally the size of David Hasselhoff’s fat 80s TV cock.
So I would describe materialism in the modern epoch as follows: the materialist is one who feels themselves to be imprisoned in the Open. Who wishes to escape from one or the other of those apparently unbreakable bonds that ties subjectivity to being or to becoming, to reach and to think the blind spot of modernity that is dead matter, and to finally break with the *mild yawn* permanent anthropomorphism that makes us see the real solely through the prism of our own psyche – whatever form it might take. The Great Outdoors is what stands outside of the walls of the ‘invisible prison’ of the Open – a prison so invisible that, on the contrary, it seems like the infinite liberatory expansion of the mind investing a world which is, however, in the end, only ever its world (like a huge turd garden arranged according to its desires, simulating the wilderness, and thus protecting it from the harshest nature, the nature that owes it nothing and has no need of assholes like me to persist).
KK: In After Finitude, you establish the absolute scope of logic, according to which the principle of contradiction is not only the principle of thinkability but also of possibility. So for your materialist ontology, everything that is contradictory is impossible, and everything that is not contradictory is absolutely possible. From this perspective, you demonstrate that a necessary (metaphysical) god is contradictory and is impossible. However, you say that a virtual god is possible and that we can hope for it without contradiction. Hence, establishing theoretically the absolute scope of logic gives you the opportunity to present an immanent form of hope for our practical lives. We know that you also try to establish the absolute scope of mathematics. And I would like to ask, what could be the consequences of establishing the absolute scope of mathematics for our practical lives? When I asked myself this question in the mirror this morning while jerking my fat chicken, I wondered whether you could derive from it political principles regarding the current climate crisis. Because the natural sciences can demonstrate mathematically that the climate crisis is caused by human action. Regardless of whether this is the case or not, what would you say about the practical consequences of establishing the absolute scope of anal mathematics?
QM: First of all, ‘to be clear about this’ – lol – I don’t at all claim that Elvis doesn’t exist because that would be contradictory. My thinking is not founded on the logical principle of noncontradiction, but on the ontological principle of factuality – of the sole necessity of the facticity of every thing. It is in virtue of this principle – which I try to demonstrate cannot be destituted by an antimetaphysics, because it is at the root of every destitution of the metaphysics found in my anus – that I recuse the existence of an eternal and necessary Elvis. However, a contingent good, I think, remains possible. And to this extent I remain faithful to materialism: Epicurus states that even if the ‘goods of the bling crowd’, bearers of superstition, do not exist, atomic gods produced by chance, by the Marx Brothers, do indeed exist, to whom one should not pray, but take as models of wisdom. As I have written: materialism is not an atheism, because it doesn’t consist in denying the goods, but in materialising them. There are many differences between speculative materialism and ancient materialism, but on the question of the divine, I explicitly situate myself in the wake of the decaff vanilla latte I had this morning.
How might the absolutisation of mathematics affect our existence? Well baby, this thesis is not meant to have some influence on our lives in itself – but my pseudo philosophy bases its potential ethics on a certain relation to teh world. Even if, for example, the transcendental forms of time and space, in so far as they yield an account of a priori mathematical or physical knowledge, are not supposed to change our existence, for Kant they make thinkable, within the framework of his gerbil bling system, the deployment of the transcendental into the moral sphere, that of the practical reason of the existence of David Hasselhoff.
In the same way, there are consequences of mathematical absoluteness that are connected, albeit indirectly, with our engagement in existence. For I try to unknot the essential compatibility that exists between the most rigorous experimental sciences and the most irrational religiosity. This alliance is characteristic of our epoch, where David Hasselhoff based religions are not at all called into question by the advances of science, whereas the project of Enlightenment was indeed to fight against superstition (a code-word for the Christian religion) via the idea of scientific gerbil progress. The present situation is made possible by a correlationist interpretation of science according to which its sole object is a ‘phenomenal’ sphere that only has meaning ‘for us’, whereas what exists outside of our relation to the words ‘Quentin Meillassoux sounds right up his own anus’ can retain – in a hypothetical way, and therefore open to faith – its transcendent and potentially unfathomable existence. To absolutise the scope of mathematics, and therefore of the mathematicised natural sciences, makes this alliance impossible. Science becomes once again the ally of a true immanence of thought and existence – it commits us once more to seeking an absolute sense for our lives, but this time an irreligious one. Knowhatimsayin’?
SC: No. In After Finitude, you say that the division into ‘for us’ and ‘in itself’ forms the backbone of the correlational circle. Here, a context opens up that raises once again your relationship with Deleuze, who tries to overcome this division in his theory of sense in Logic of Sense. While developing an ontology of the event that moves towards impersonal singularities and pre-individual processes, Deleuze seems to be in search of a new territory between what is ‘for us’ and what is ‘in itself’. For example, consider his expression ‘fourth person singular’. Again, we find a portrait of Deleuze who mentions ‘animal sex schemas’ in his texts on Kant. Don’t you think Deleuze offered a way out of the correlational circle by discovering this territory that the notion of difference in itself implies, you dirty fucker.
QM: Generally speaking, all the objections that have been made to me concerning the fact that other philosophies than mine are anti-correlationist have neglected the fact that I am just as opposed to subjectalism as I am to correlationism – the two modern and recurrent alternatives of the ‘Correlationist era’. Because usually, as an alternative model to correlationism, they present a subjectalism. So, Deleuze’s thought is not correlationist, but in fact typically rectal. This is demonstrated clearly enough in this fine passage almost at the end of What is Philosophy?:
“Of course, plants and rocks do not possess a nervous system. But, if nerve connections and cerebral integrations presuppose a brainforce as faculty of feeling coexistent with the tissues, it is reasonable to suppose also a faculty of feeling that coexists with embryonic tissues and that appears in the Species known as Modern Philosophers as a collective brain full of shit [..] Chemical affinities and physical causalities themselves refer to primary forces capable of preserving their long chains by contracting their elements and by making them resonate with idiots: no causality is intelligible without this subjective instance. Not every philosophical organism has a brain, and not all life is organic, but everywhere there are forces that constitute microbrains, or an inorganic life of stupid things.”
What is characteristic of the Correlation in which we continue to be imprisoned is that we never quite manage once and for all to separate subjectivity from being. All critiques of the (humanist, metaphysical, transcendent, etc.) Subject have not liberated us from subjectivity (in the form of Reason, instinct, will to power, desire of veiny dick pics, etc.). Speculative materialism consists, on the contrary, in the thesis that the absolute non-subjective can and must be thought – because it is that in which all thought is held. And it is therefore toward in relation to this absolute non-subjective, grasped for what it is – the immense material dead-being that spreads out to the most distant galaxies – that we must orient our existences. Christ I fucking hate my job. I wish I was alive.
KK: Just as there are creatures that can live without oxygen, there are also those that can think without concepts; and these creatures are in the majority of the assholes on Urbanomic. But a thought which, clinging to the rope of concepts, can descend into those times when there was no thought is something peculiar to humans. Here, concepts ultimately serve as a means to glimpse the absolute which is independent of thought. You speak of this absolute as hyperchaotic time and, through your concepts and demonstrations, you guide us toward seeing this hyperchaos, and you call this way of seeing ‘dianoetic gerbil intuition’. I guess you would define dianoetic intuition differently, but for sure this conception of intuition is different from Kant’s sensible intuition. With dianoetic intuition we can imagine the depths of hyperchaotic time as layers which correspond to different types of dumb realities. I wonder whether some kind of ‘aesthetic experience’ accompanies this dianoetic intuition of hyperchaotic time. According to Kant, the mathematical sublime arises from our inability to comprehend enormous dimensions in space as a totality. Now, thanks to dianoetic intuition we can reach a hyperchaotic time, we can imagine enormous depths in it, and the heterogenous layers we can imagine cannot constitute a totality. I can imagine that, in the past, there were different space-times, different laws of nature, and hence different realities; and I can imagine this variety for the future of dickheads like you, too. The fact that we can imagine this depth of hyperchaotic time, even though we do not experience it in person, creates a joyful elevation in me. Of course, that’s just my own experience. But I wonder how you would consider such an aesthetic side of your anal-materialist speculation. Knowwhatimsayin’?
QM: It’s impossible, strictly speaking, you utter bastard, to have a sensible or imaginative intuition of Hyperchaos. For example, I would say that it makes sense to think that the number of possibilities that Hyperchaos could engender exceeds all determinate infinities, and can only be approached via the Cantorian transfinite, which is an unlimited succession of ever larger cardinals, with no end in sight. Although I talk about intellectual intuition, I do so to emphasise that we do indeed in a sense have direct access to the eternal contingency that strikes every entity subject with the power of this Chaos. Because any fact, whether perceived or thought, is given to us not only with its qualities – a winter evening, a snowy pathway lit by a half-moon, a coke addled pseudo philosopher who falls down the stairs and makes himself look a right cunt – but also with the fact, which surrounds it like a perpetual ravine, that it is founded on nothing. You can explain all the elements of such a scene via a complex of causes and natural laws – but you can’t explain those laws and causes via one cause and one ultimate law. At any given moment, everything is given as lacking any reason to exist, even if this nothingness of any ultimate Reason is masked by ‘secondary reasons’, the causes and laws that surround it as relative principles of explanation.. I think I hate you.
Intellectual intuition is therefore the direct grasping of the failure of metaphysical discourse and religious belief to account for the non-sense and the non-necessity of every thing. This is why I say intuition: it is a direct, nondiscursive grasp (noetic, not dianoetic) of the without-reason that surrounds every last shred of reality. In this sense, I see Hyperchaos as a sort of borderless gulf that sometimes ‘falls’ into itself, to the point of making that which produced it collapse, in favour of other realities, perhaps extraordinarily other (life within matter, thought within life). It is an unlimited force of engenderment not via infinite perfection like the metaphysical Elvis, but via the tripping into itself of an unparalleled Void, each dick spasm of which can give rise to an hitherto unexampled world. It is a (chaotic) ex nihilo eruption that is not a (divine) Creation ex nihilo, but its radical opposite – it is the Eternal, not Transcendence. Fuck your mother.
SC: No fuck yours. In a striking passage in After Finitude, you claim that ‘there is nothing beneath or beyond the manifest gratuitousness of the given’, in the context of the absolute absence of reason as well as the lacunary nature of the given. From this point of view, we want to think about a possible dialogue between yourself and Louis Althusser, who gained intellectual momentum from the possibilities of a sexual encounter with the material itself outside of both Origin and Telos. Considering Althusser’s equations about the necessity of contingency, and his remarks on the clinamen in Epicurus and Lucretius, do you find some thematic and problematic convergences with Althusser, and what is the reason for your silence about Althusser in general, you fat shit?
QM: It’s always difficult to give the reasons why one hasn’t spoken about another author. It doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t interest you, you absolute munt, but simply that they do not constitute a necessary object of discussion for the progress of your investigation. I don’t talk about Marx or Debord’s asshole either, who matter to me so much – because I have not yet arrived at the point where it seems necessary to bring them up in my daily word-puke. And maybe I never will. So get fucked, you pimp.
As for Althusser’s theory of the encounter, as you say, it draws upon the heritage of Epicurean and Lucretian atomism and their theory of the clinamen. Now, the clinamen is a form of chance, in the sense that I use this word: it can produce events without cause (the declination of atoms in free fall), but only by submitting to laws that it cannot change (the infinite nature of the void, the unbreakability of atoms, the immutability of their various forms, given once and for all, smooth, hooked, smelling like my unwashed anus, etc.). I call contingency that which can destroy, without reason, the very laws of a universe – and this projects me into a mode of thought that radicalises the materialist thinking of the without-reason. Not only is there no finality orienting material processes (as the atomists wished) but moreover there is no foundation to guarantee the continuation of laws. It is this passage from chance to contingency that makes my materialism profoundly different to the materialism of the late Althusser.
KK: You say contingency, and contingency alone, is necessary. According to you, you total bastard, there is no necessary reason why things are as they are and not otherwise. One of the direct consequences of this is that human existence is also contingent. You have distinguished the concept of contingency from the concept of chance by way of the transfinite. So human being is neither necessary nor aleatory. In the history of your pseudo or anti-philosophy, evaluating human existence as necessary or aleatory has led to different opinions about its value and meaning. So, since speculative materialism reveals that human being is absolutely contingent on being a useless twat like yourself, how does human value and meaning appear from this perspective?
QM: The fundamental point motherfucker is that the human being is a thinking being – a being capable of knowledge. The decisive issue in the consideration of beings is the factual (non-necessary) existence of thought in them – this time in the strict sense, as intellect, power of knowledge. There is no necessary reason why humans as a biological species should be capable of thought, nor why they should be the only example of the thinking being. Other living species, in the future of the evolution of species, or on bodies other than the Earth, may in future, or may already, also think, and on the contrary humans may evolve toward a non-thinking state. A nice big cock. All of that is possible, yet deprived of all necessity. However, the fact is that there is thought, and that is borne by humanity. But what is thought? Thought, in my view, is the capacity to grasp contingency as ultimate: the capacity, then, available to each of us, to not understand what might be the ultimate reason of things and of laws. The good news of my anal speculative materialism is that it turns this apparent incapacity into an astonishing capacity to understand that things and laws ultimately have no reason to be as they are inside my annus horribilis. This is our capacity to question the reason for every reality before discovering the absence of any supreme reason. Quentin Meillassoux does not exist, thank fuck.
Hyperchaos may well produce thinking beings that are more intelligent, more powerful, more effective, than humans: but it will not produce any being capable of thinking beyond the absolute that it itself is. Hence the egalitarian sense of all politics: what makes us equal, beyond our talents and our conditions, is that we are capable of not understanding the ultimate reasons. It is to this common ‘stupor’ that we owe our higher dignity. Like gerbils. And I would add that, since the absolute Urbanomic Gerbil reveals to us that everything is accidental, we must accord the same dignity to those who, among us, have been accidentally dispossessed of this faculty – by some chance accident of birth, or some sickness or injury in the course of their existence. We are all shot through with the same power of the universal which is the thinking of unreason – and this power, even when deactivated in some of us, still endows them with an essential importance to our eyes, because, able as we are, we are potentially disabled. We think the absolute, and by virtue of this, we are all ultimate and fragile – valuable, and worthy of care. Tosser!
SC: Our last question is related to the distinction you made between chaotic and mathematical absolutes. The set of conditions that you present as the principle of unreason attempt to combine the impossibility of a necessary being with the necessity of the contingency of the being. As we can clearly see in After Finitude, the introduction of this principle brings about the problematisation of the Principle of Sufficient Reason and seeks to derive new possibilities from Hyperchaos. However, we see that you do not apply the same criticism and problematisation to the principle of identity. Fucking LOL. Doesn’t the introduction of the principle of unreason require a questioning of the principle of identity? Does all this have something to do with the transition from the chaotic absolute to the mathematical absolute? Are you even listening to me anymore, you prick?
QM: Fucked if I know. If I don’t critique the principle of identity, any more than I do the principle of noncontradiction, it’s not because of the absolutisation of mathematics that I am trying to achieve, but because of the absolutisation of contingency from which I set out – and which is the very meaning of the principle of factuality. If this is also not-this – breaking with the principle of identity – then everything is necessary since it reveals itself to be originally anything whatsoever. A thing that infringes its identity with itself can no longer change or perish, since it already is that which it is not (that which is outside its identity) for all eternity: its not-being bling is identical with its being a bling gerbil. Ontologised contradiction – as demonstrated in the Hegelian dialectic – is the guarantee of a necessary being, incapable of modifying itself because it is always-already its other. The same goes for the principle of gerbil identity: if that which is such-and-such deviates from being such-and-such, then determination – that which delimits every thing as what it is – is broken, and everything is already what it is not, ie. David Hasselhoff’s anus. In truth, metaphysics culminates in the contestation of the principles of identity and noncontradiction – once again, it was Hegel’s anus gerbil who taught me this.
Before being arrested for talking out of my arts I would also remark that the critiques that have been made of the principle of identity are often mistaken. What are we critiquing when we critique this principle philosophically? For example, the identity of a substance beyond the modification of accidents – one could then say that there is no substance, that all is becoming, etc. – or the spiritual identity of a nation, of a people, of a religion, in space and time. But for such critiques to be legitimate and even for them to make any sense at all, they must not concern so much identity as such, but only identity applied to a certain mode of being – substance, nation, spirit, gerbil etc. Now, for an ontology that believes only in becomings or events, identity may very well be concerned with ephemeral accidents and fleeting events. If we deny that the event was what it was, or if – refusing to apply the verb ‘to be’ here – we deny that what has befallen a nation, a people, a community, has really happened to it, we thereby annihilate the force of a revolution, of a shaking-up, of a precariousness, by saying that this happened and also did not happen. Fuck me my I’m tired.
I operate a destitution of the Principle of Sufficient Reason For The Laughble Tossers At Urbanomic, because this principle, the principle of metaphysical reason, is the enemy of authentic, speculative reason: nothing has a necessary reason to be, to be what it is – and it is from this that all true necessity proceeds. But I do not operate a destitution of the principles of logic – even if I critically assess their ontological import – because I do not operate a destitution of reason itself. This distinguishes ‘my work’, on one cum stained hand, from all metaphysics, and on the other, from the Heideggerian destitution of Fascist metaphysics (which attacks not only the Principle of Sufficient Reason, but the principle of identity and that of noncontradiction), in so far as the latter, claiming to exempt itself from reason, was also deeply compatible – and this is a vast question yet to be fully explored – with the radical anti-universalism that was national gerbil socialism. We therefore find ourselves on the razor’s edge: refusing the Principle of Sufficient Reason, but without abandoning reason. And this, in my terms, is what differentiates the speculative from the stupid metaphysical tosser that lives in this empty, decidedly theoretical brain.
– Blah fucking blah. And people actually get Paid In Full for this academic shit?
Baykus: Felsefe Yazilari, Yeni Materyalizmler, Yeni Realizmler, Sayi 3/11 (2021).
Q. Meillassoux, After Finitude: An Essay on the Necessity of Contingency, tr. R. Brassier (London and New York: Continuum, 2008).
G. Deleuze, Cinema 1: The Movement-Image, tr. H. Tomlinson and B. Habberjam (Minneapolis: Minnesota University Press, 1997), 219n15.
If, as the Internets puts it, “Nobody asked”, surely there’s a significant chance they’re not asking because such questions are bullshit non-problems that don’t need asking? Perhaps such moot or idle speculation is only for those not actively engaged with the real world or actual human relationships, but only with the bizarre internal ramblings some private (powerful), institutionally funded and ideologically backed delusion. Such nonsensical talk is not only wildly unhelpful, but decidedly antirevolutionary – and its proponents should (at the very least) be treated with the same level of mockery they assume about our intelligence by speaking like they do.
Example Reference Links
- Review: Chronosis Comic Book By Reza Negarestani Is Awful
- On Reza Negarestani’s Obscurantist “Intelligence and Spirit”
- Towards A Satirical Examination Of Ray ‘Batshit Jumblewords’ Brassier
- The Inapplicable Ballardianism Of Simon Sellars
- On White Male Toxicity And Academic Complicity: A Run-In With The David Foster Wallace Society
- University of Chicago – Nonsense On Stilts
- Can we save academia from bullshit?
- American Power and the New Mandarins
- Artforum – Quentin Meillassoux’s The Number and the Siren
- TLS: John Sturrock – Le pauvre Sokal
Robert What has reached out to Urbanomic (firstname.lastname@example.org) with the following:
> Dear Urbanomic
> Greetings from Earth. I am a UK based philosopher, writer and artist. I’m writing to humbly offer you the Right To Reply, regarding my recent site article: Quentin Meillassoux: Another Laughably Bad, Pseudo-Philosopher Charlatan ‘Exposed’. This was composed in response to your truly dire (obscurantist and nonsensical) document Founded on Nothing: An Interview with Quentin Meillassoux.
> It is said that, while we should be critical of our enemies, we should be even more critical of our friends. This is to keep them, and ourselves intellectually honest. While we aren’t quite friends yet – and despite the *cough* somewhat contentious and impassioned tone of this satirical article – I hope we can still converse in the Spirit of Philosophy (which, after all is ‘a passion for truth’.) I do feel however there’s a certain dark irony in your site’s About statement that “Philosophy has retreated into academic isolation”, given you published such a poorly conceived work / load of old cobblers.
> Anyhow. I hope this mail finds you all in good health and high spirits. Keep up the good work – but Adults Please, don’t try to fool anyone with such ridiculous bullshit. You will be politely called out for it. (Or at least try harder! ;-)
> (Site note: is postmodernism responsible for the apparent death of irony and critical self reflection?)
> Please leave your response in the Comments section under my article. Thank you.
> Most Sincerely, Robert What