Levi Bryant's: Difference and Giveness

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d63
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Levi Bryant's: Difference and Giveness

Post by d63 »

Bryant's book, as those who have encountered it will know, is a secondary text on Deleuze's Difference and Repetition. On top of that, most of the secondary texts that I have read on the book have referred to other texts of Deleuze and other philosophers. This would seem necessary since fully understanding a philosophical text often involves the connections it has with other text.

And I would confess that when I start strings around a book, it is only because I happen to be reading that book and need a place to record the thoughts it sets off -a kind of journal if you will. So it would be unfair and unproductive for me to expect everyone that responds to stay within the context of Bryant's book or have even read anything by or about Deleuze. The book must only act as a kind of strange attractor. Beyond that, it is up to me to guide it back to topic.

That said, I should include a sort of informal bibliography of the books that might make their appearance in this and that I would encourage others to work from:

Gilles Deleuze: Difference and Repetition (kind of a given, isn't it?)
James Williams and Joe Hugh's take on the book
And, finally, Claire Colebrooks Roughtledge guide to Deleuze

And that is only a shortlist. But to give you sense of how informal this is, I start with a response I wrote to a peer on another string:
d63
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Re: Levi Bryant's: Difference and Giveness

Post by d63 »

“Anyways, my "philosophy" is centered around the "Realist" point of view, of that this world is real.”

“BTW: My perspective tends to be centered around the poetic point of view.

But as long as we don't presume to change the others perspective (or be each other's guru), I think we will jam just fine together.”

It appears we have a dichotomy, my friend. But I have to ask if your realist position includes that described by Andreicut in her PN article “Kant and Rand on Rationality & Reality”. As Andreicut describes Rand’s objectivism:

“She launched the objectivist movement, arguing, contrary to Kant, that there is no distinction between appearances and the world as it is in itself – the two are one and the same. This in turn makes it possible for human beings to gain perfect knowledge of their surroundings: objective reality is in front of us at all times, and perception is our key to taking in this reality. “

Of course, this would create a bit of an impasse for us in that my position is that there is no way to get around the subjective interference inherently involved in that regardless of whether the real world exists in the very way we see it or not, it can only exist for us in our heads. As phenomenology points out: for every external event (noema) there is a correlating internal event (noesis). And Rand serves as a perfect example of this limitation in that she conned herself by acting as if her reverence for brute facts somehow gave her license to make speculative assertions and conjectures as if they were brute facts: such as the notion that Laisse Faire Capitalism is the only system under which we can find our higher selves. Not to undermine your position. But from where I stand, it is not enough to claim to be a realist, or use words like “objectivity”, “facts”, or “the scientific method”; you also have to stay consistently within the perimeters of your own criteria.

That said, I’m starting to find a bit of synthesis between our 2 positions in Deleuze’s Difference and Repetition via Levi Bryant’s Difference and Repetition. It appears that both our positions are misguided in that both are mired in the tradition of the subject/object dichotomy. They both act as if we are sitting outside of our relationship with the object making judgments concerning the accuracy of our description of the object. However, if we accept Deleuze’s machine-like vision of being and think of our self as a kind of system interacting with the system of the object, we find our self intertwined with it to the extent that we can know it in an intimate manner while being incapable of doing so without including certain elements of our own system (subjective interference).

We go through a 2 way process when we encounter an object. We start with the process of synthesis in which the object imposes itself on the subject through various singularities or qualia that the (not) subject then constructs into a concept –the passive synthesis. This is followed by the active synthesis in which the concept is imposed on the object through the process of schematism.

And not to undermine your position, but to articulate what is at stake here, one of the main criticisms presented here is that the realist position is based on the assumption that since the first process is passive, it is necessarily non-productive. However, Deleuze asserts that it is creatively productive through what he refers to as the dice role or chance. I hope and look forward to you addressing this. I’ve been fumbling around a lot here because I’m moving out my comfort zone. But hopefully we’ll be able to hash this out together.
d63
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Re: Levi Bryant's: Difference and Giveness

Post by d63 »

“In other words, we are entitled to say that transcendental empiricism is the experience of experience producing experience, on the condition that we understand that the term experience here plays on two registers of signification, between experience as transcendental lived condition, and experience as the given diversity of the sensible.” –Levi R. Bryant, Difference and Giveness

I offer this, first, as one of the most accessible descriptions of what Bryant is focusing on in this book (transcendental empiricism -just in case); secondly, as food for thought for a future point I hope to make; and, lastly, because of its loose connection to what I want to rant about in this window. And I would remind you, as is usually the case lately, I am wandering a lot further out of my comfort zone than I would like to. But as Deleuze writes in Difference and Repetition:

“We write only at the frontiers of our knowledge, at the border which separates which separates our knowledge from our ignorance and transforms the one into the other.”

So if my fumbling around comes to nothing at your expense, I apologize. But enough stonewalling:

At one point, Bryant takes an analytic approach to the problem of being as concerns Deleuze and his univocal take on it -all being is equal: no difference in ontological status between say justice and the rock that stubs our toe. He points to the statement:

Socrates is just.

Now in this phrase, we see 2 types of being as defined by the be(ing)-verb “is” and the subject/predicate relationship. On one hand, we have Socrates is which suggests an individual instance of being that is concrete to extent that we have proof that such a person as Socrates actually existed. On the other hand, we have the predicate and the inferred “justice is” which suggests a kind of universal abstraction. Now, from an analogical perspective, we could assert that justice has a lower ontological status than Socrates because it is a concept. Still, the concept has very real effects. It has being –if as nothing else, as a concept. It would be hard to deny that. Hence, Deleuze’s lean towards univocal being in that a thing either is (a being) or is a complete blind spot (absence ( non-being )). And Being, that is if you look into the definition and the nature of it, is something that does not allow for a spectrum. Therefore, we can’t treat “Socrates is just” as a hierarchy between Socrates as the high ontological status being and justness as the low ontological one, not when their ontological status is the same. They either are or they are not.

Bryant then goes on to suggest a way out by saying something like:

The tree greens.

This seems syntactically weird. But it stays univocal by turning the predicate into an action. And how would we give actions any less ontological status than the subject that committed them?

This gravitates to the generally accepted sense of Deleuze as a philosopher of difference and becoming.

Of course (once again (I’m fumbling….

The beautiful thing about it, for me, is that it all gravitates towards our participation (as meme machines) as mental systems interacting with a universe of external (internal (and enfolded systems:
the plane of immanence.
d63
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Re: Levi Bryant's: Difference and Giveness

Post by d63 »

“Paradoxically, the present is never present, but is an effect of syntheses of retention and anticipation. Such a synthesis is passive in that it is not based on the active usage or employment of the faculties, but occurs, “automatically”, as it were. It is this distinction between the active and the passive that Deleuze seeks to undermine in arguing that passive synthesis is in the mind rather than being carried out by the mind. Despite the fact that such a synthesis occurs in the mind, we thus cannot say that it is based on the sovereign power and self-presence of the subject. As such, the first passive synthesis is not an activity of intentional consciousness, but precedes intentionality and renders intentionality possible in the first place. In this way, the distinction between subject and object is blurred in that the first passive synthesis precedes both subjects and objects.” –Levi Bryant: Difference and Giveness

What I would point out here is that Deleuze’s main agenda in undermining the distinction between the passive and active syntheses is mainly focused on the popular notion that because the passive synthesis is passive, it is necessarily unproductive. And it is the doxa of the unproductive passive synthesis that underwrites the scientific claim to privilege, in its descriptive role, over the creativity of our initial encounters with the world of objects –that is since science, and its emphasis on active synthesis, is necessarily founded on the creative work of the passive synthesis.

I would offer an approach from another angle: that of the three syntheses of time:

First there is the synthesis that involves expectation and habitus. This involves the object/event as it approaches us as subjects with our given mental makeup. In other words, as the encounter approaches us, we are evolutionarily wired and obligated to engage the approach with a tentatively confused state that must, in split second terms, create a momentary stay against confusion. One that is continuously revised as the approach gets closer based on its similarity to previous experiences.

This is supported by the second archival synthesis that takes in the encounter and stores it for later use on later similar encounters: hence the supportive role played by repetition in the expectation and habitus of the previous sysnthesis.

The last synthesis involves chancing or what Deleuze refers to as the dice role. This involves the contingencies at work in how we process the encounter and that tend to bleed into our general sense of how things hang together: our concepts and Ideas.

It would also be important to note here that one of the problems with translating Deleuze’s Difference and Repetition is that there was a double meaning at work in the French word for experience in that same word is used for experimentation: creativity. Therefore, we can see a connection between Deleuze’s early work and his later work with Guattarri in What is Philosophy in which they argue that primary role of philosophy is the creation of concepts, or that which I would revise to:

The creation of and free play with concepts.

This is why I can’t help but feel that Deleuze, as he works through the implications of difference and repetition, is mainly referring to the creative act –even when he is not directly referring to it. And what is the creative act but repeating what you know (repetition) until you somehow work beyond it (difference)?
d63
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Re: Levi Bryant's: Difference and Giveness

Post by d63 »

“According to Deleuze, “the mistake of dogmatism is always to fill that which separates, [while] that of empiricism is to leave external what is separated (Difference and Repetition, G. Deleuze)”. In other words, dogmatism posits an extra-worldly realm of essences that falsely unify the diversity of the world, while empiricism falls prey to a nominalistic atomism which treats all beings in terms of an indifferent diversity.” –Levi Bryant: Difference and Giveness.

In this phrase, we can see the dialectic (in the textbook sense of the thesis/antithesis) that Deleuze was seeing in the 2 extremes of metaphysical and scientific dogma. In the former, we have what is typified by religious dogma in that it concocts this universal principle that must apply to every possible object/event in the universe and is arbitrarily used to fill in every gap. For instance, if we ask a religious fanatic why a benign god would let people suffer like it does, the response is usually that God has his reasons. And we see it in a more malignant sense when some right-wing nut attributes hurricane Katrina to the permissiveness of gays in a New Orleans district that actually didn’t get touched by the flooding. And we see the same dynamic at work in the devotees of producer/consumer Capitalism who, appealing to a vulgar interpretation of Darwinism, assume that dying from a lack of access to healthcare, starvation, or being shot in the ghetto is simply the market’s way of weeding out impurities in the gene pool. But the similar dynamic gets really obvious when you consider the argument that no matter how much we indulge in consumption, the market, in its god-like nature, will step in to save us. Take, for instance, Dennis Miller’s argument in a stand up routine that we’ll deal with the depletion of fossil fuels when they start to run out. Note the unquestioning faith in the market and the technology it picks up the tab for. But how many of us want to bet our lives or the lives of our grandchildren on it?

In the latter, we see the limit of science in that it tends to deal with isolated systems. And while this is a necessary and useful approach for science, the problems start when it fails to grasp the finite nature of the system it is describing in the context of the infinite the described system must work within. This, too often, leads to assertions about the infinite (the metaphysical) that sound as if they are describing an isolated system. The most typical example of this is Rand who, based on her concept of objectivism and its supposed fidelity to brute facts, argues for the superiority of producer/consumer Capitalism as if it had the same fact status as 1+1=2. In this sense, the latter extreme transforms into the former. But even without this form of abuse, there is still the empirical limit and the gap it leaves that can be approached by philosophy in its creative/literary capacity.

That said, the failure of these extremes boils down to the failure to recognize the creative productivity of the passive synthesis (the initial encounter w/ the object/event) that, in turn, creates a hierarchy in which the concept (being a product of representation and the active synthesis) must be given privilege over the intuition.

At least, that's my interpretation of it.
d63
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Re: Levi Bryant's: Difference and Giveness

Post by d63 »

“If error is foreign to philosophy, if it cannot be that which philosophy strives to avoid, this is for no other reason than that philosophy is ill equipped to deliver us denotative truths about reality or the world. Philosophy is not an empirical practice, even among those who call themselves empiricists. It is never a matter of making true or false statements about states of affairs in the world, but rather a practice of creating and critiquing concepts. Philosophical claims pertain not to referential truths but rather to the medium of basic concepts that free a region of experience so that referential judgments might be made at all. Before one can discourse about the world, the sense of the world must have already announced itself.” –Levi Bryant: Difference and Giveness

One of things that is emerging for me in this study is the similarity between philosophy, as a form of conceptual play, and mathematics and even science. In the sense of conceptual play, philosophy, given the armchair discipline it is, must admittedly also work with the isolated systems of the abstractions we create. This, for instance, is why paradox is the field in which philosophy dominates. We use the concepts of space and the way distance breaks down into infinite digress in order to establish why it is Zeno’s arrow will never reach its target. But that doesn’t mean any one of us would go prancing around between an archer and their target. One would think us smart enough to recognize the difference between reality and conceptual play. But at the same time, doesn’t this suggest a similarity between what the mathematician and the philosopher does? Doesn’t the mathematician also play with numbers (quite often (simply for the sake of playing with numbers –that is with no regard to whether what they’re doing actually refers to reality or not? But it is this kind of play, a sort of brainstorming, that can lead to some very real implications.

(At the same time, some of the most dangerous people in this world are those who want to bypass the play, because it doesn’t serve their serious purposes, and get to the real implications. These people want to own reality.)

The last sentence:

“Before one can discourse about the world, the sense of the world must have already announced itself.”

:refers to the initial encounter with the object/event in which, for a split second, we are completely stupid and intuitive. This is the point at which the sensible is bombarded with information but hasn’t quite processed it. At this point, the mind/brain complex starts repeating the different singularities through the different faculties (in a sense similar to Dennett’s multiple draft theory) until it composes them into a coherent concept. At this point, the object/event is being passed back and forth between the sensible and thought. The important thing to recognize here is that, given this process, there is no hierarchy between the sensible (intuition) and thought (concept). There is only a relationship that produces our experience of reality. Our initial encounter with the object/event is naturally creative. This is reflected in language in the way we listen to what the other has to say and base our understanding of it on similar sentences we have heard, then proceed to answer it with a sentence unlike any we have spoken based on previous sentences we have uttered. Our encounters, like the language we use to describe them, are inherently creative.

It just seems like philosophy should reflect that.
d63
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Re: Levi Bryant's: Difference and Giveness

Post by d63 »

And just to give you sense of the connection, Ambig, between my present study and what you're doing here, to let you know I'm not just arbitrarily importing this stuff:

"Perspective is the structure wherein the subject unfolds and without which it would not be. In this respect, perspective is similar to Heidegger's being-in-the-world [or Dasein as you like to put it]. Perspective is the inseparability of the subject from its world. In other words, the perspective is not in the subject; rather, the subject is in the perspective." -Levi Bryant: Difference and Giveness

In this sense, we can see how misconceptions, such as objectivism, can result from assuming the subject/object dichotomy or the failure to recognize the truth of Dasein as you would put it. It is also behind Deleuze's assertion of the truth of relativity (that is by virtue of the perspective of Dasein) as compared to the relativity of truth (which results from the dogma of the subject/object dichotomy).

That said, I would also note the role played by the moral dimension of repetition (or that which can be perfectly repeated) as pointed out in the original text:

“Moralists sometimes present the categories of Good and Evil in these terms: every time we try to repeat according to nature or as natural beings (repetition of a pleasure, of a past, of a passion) we throw ourselves into a demonic and already damned exercise [difference –my addition] which can only end in despair or boredom. The Good, by contrast, holds out the possibility of repetition, of successful repetition and the spirituality of repetition, because it depends not upon a law of nature but on a law of duty, of which, as moral beings, we cannot be subjects without also being legislators. What is Kant’s ‘highest test’ if not a criterion for what can, in principle, be reproduced –in other words, what can be repeated without contradiction in the form of moral law? The man of duty invented a ‘test’ of repetition; he decided what could be repeated.” -Difference and Repetition, pg. 4

If we really look at what the pseudo-objectivists are trying to do, we see how the moral imperative of perfect repeatability has bled, through a residual effect, into the assertions of those who would make claims concerning their adherence to the criteria of “objectivity”, “facts” (that is when they’re usually talking about data), and the “scientific method”. In effect, what they are asking us to do is to accept their conjectures and speculations based on their almost religious faith in these terms as a kind of moral imperative –much as we are suppose to accept the authority of a priest based on their commitment to Christianity or any religion for that matter.

This is one of the cool things about French philosophy to me: it doesn’t approach the authoritarian element from an us-and-them perspective; it looks, rather, to the core of the human predicament common to us all to find the source of the authoritarian perspective. In this sense, it has never been as important as it is now.
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Re: Levi Bryant's: Difference and Giveness

Post by d63 »

“63-been away but keeping tabs, nevertheless. Interesting thread, the only block and it's a dusy, is the one of vested interests. Some investiture goes back hundreds of years, by now transformed and renamed , fronted by various corporate entities. The problem with interest, is, beside relentlessly in need of being propped up, is it's dynamic working on a built in compensative effort to counter diminishing returns. “

The scary thing here, Obe, was something brought to my attention by Chris Hedges based on a book by Sheldon Wolin in that what we are dealing with now is a kind of inverted totalitarianism in which the market is given privilege over state. The thing we have to ask here, given those “vested interests” that are confronting “diminishing returns” as the consumer base is depleted by a widening wealth gap that, in turn, increases the differential between the general exchange value and the buying power created, is what will happen when the rich no longer have a market to justify their position of power. We have to wonder if they won’t turn to a classical totalitarianism in which the state they own will be given privilege over everything.

There is, however, one thing in our favor. In order to maintain this classical totalitarianism, the rich will have to also own the military; they will have to use them as a well compensated cushion between them and those they would exploit. And they would have to do as much with the government. The problem is that the very logic of Capitalism is dependent on the flow of money. In other words, their wealth would mean basically squat in a world in which there was no flow of exchange. The rich, in order to hold their leverage, would have to have something else of import like access to food or air (as was the case in the older version of Total Recall). Still, we have no way of knowing that they wouldn’t have some way bypassing that catch.

“As Deleuze and Guattarri point out: Capitalism, technically, should be a force of de-territorialization (freedom); but there is something about it that is constantly re-territorializing (the tyranny of the functional and profitable –or that which enslaves us to our role as producer/consumers).”

“Yes, because it's also the freedom to territorialize outside of state-restrictions. Freedom is not just for those who are relatively relaxed, it's also for those who are very tense and really need to be in control. And I think that's probably about half the human population. It's really not a question of a few bad apples. I never believed in the theory of cruelty as exception. The Prison Experiment is a good example of how the majority of human beings can be compelled by power and hierarchy and -- fear of being different.

Ah, the fear of difference
the fear of ones own difference
the compulsion to repeat the patterns of parents, peers, and professional superiors appears almost omnipotent.”

As luck would have it, F.C., I came across a point in Claire Colebrook’s book on Deleuze that sheds a little light on this:

“Being untimely, for Deleuze, meant being more than anti-capitalist. It meant disrupting the force that had allowed capitalism to emerge: the tendency to sameness, uniform quantification, the fixing of all becomings through one measure or ‘territory’ (of capital). Capitalism is only possible because we can reduce the complexity and difference of life to a single system of exchange.” -Colebrook, Claire (2002-12-07). Gilles Deleuze (Routledge Critical Thinkers) (p. 65). Taylor & Francis. Kindle Edition.

In other words, it is the reduction of everything to what is quantifiable in terms of the exchange of capitol that is the source of the reterritorializing force of Capitalism. And if you think about it, the Capitalist’s use of a hyper-intensification of difference (the constant state of change facilitated by the progress in technology (that which we experience as speed smear( ends up being the reason the competitive model of the base/cognitive sensibility feels so compelled to the order of the quantifiable that Capitalism offers it. In this sense, it becomes similar to the staged event involved in Orwell’s 1984 in which a fabricated rebellion is used as justification for the draconian measures of the state.

But something else I want to point out, F.C., is that my evolutionary backlash model, that in which the base of the brain is struggling to maintain its dominion over the cognitive (that which resists the next evolutionary step of the cooperative model), is not just a matter of the authoritarian element in republicans, but a matter of the authoritarian elements we experience on these boards as well in the form of TlBs (Troll-like Behaviors). We see it, for instance, in the analytical over-reach of those who claim that just because they use words like “objectivity” or “reason” or “the scientific method” or “facts”, they have the right to assert their conjectures and speculations as if they have the same fact status as 1+1=2. We see this in those who make claims like “the mind is just the brain” based on the sense that it sounds more scientific than dualism of any form –that is despite the fact that you are experiencing it as you read this. As Raymond Tallis rightly calls it: the neuromaniac is as much an expression of our obsolete evolutionary heritage (the competitive model) as Capitalism as grand narrative is.

I would also include in this the mentality we know from Satyr and KTS: that of the basement overman, the neo-Nietzscheian gospel of the fearlessly fanciful, and that which Tallis referred to as Darwinitus and Putman as Macho Ethics.

And we can also see, in these terms, the influence of corporate sponsorship in universities as state funds dwindle. As Colebrook put it:

“In capitalism everything becomes measured by money or quantity – even the commodity value of art and the information value of concepts.” -Colebrook, Claire (2002-12-07). Gilles Deleuze (Routledge Critical Thinkers) (p. 65). Taylor & Francis. Kindle Edition.

Back when I worked as a part-time janitor in office buildings, I noticed a tendency in a lot of the art I saw to use gold-leaf –like they were jewelry for the designer’s environment. It was as if it was there as an expression of corporate power. And can’t we see a similar quantifiable element in the dominance of analytic philosophy in our universities? Doesn’t it seem far more profitable to produce a Dennett, Pinker, or Searle who will celebrate the power of science and technology (thanks Capitalism) than a Rorty, Deleuze, or even a Marxian Critical Theorist that will question it?
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Re: Levi Bryant's: Difference and Giveness

Post by d63 »

I think the main reason I find myself drawn to French philosophy (specifically that of Deleuze) is what has evolved from its honorable tradition of dissent going back to romanticism. While we can equally develop the tools of dissent through the German tradition (Nietszche, Marx, and the Frankfurt School), Americans such as Rorty (who can at a more pragmatic level can get us to a place similar to Deleuze’s), and I’m certain there are examples from the UK I really wish I could quote right now (Keyene’s perhaps and definitely Russell –not to mention the Sex Pistols), the French have developed it to the point of recognizing phenomenon (almost metaphysical in nature) at the core of our existence that may be the source of our draw to our own oppression, an important problem for me given the authoritarian elements that increasingly dominate American culture. However, I’m not exactly working in my comfort zone here. So please be patient as I fumble my way, via Claire Colebrook’s book on Deleuze, towards connecting some of the revelations that have come to me.

I start with the raw engagement by which we deal with the reality. We see the object. It immediately affects us with a chaotic bombardment of qualities which our brain/mind complexes (either through the faculties as Deleuze describes it or the multiple drafts model as Dennett describes it) form into an experience of recognition due to the repetition of similar experiences that are always different than the previous repetition. This is the passive synthesis which is creative in nature and productive contrary to the ideologies that would insist that the only real work happens in the active synthesis of thought: that which establishes us as a subject forming judgments on the world. The problem is that due to the evolutionary source of thought, all we are really doing when we think is reacting to what we see. As Colebrook puts it:

“This is why we see a simplified world of extended objects, for we see what concerns us.”-Colebrook, Claire (2002-12-07). Gilles Deleuze (Routledge Critical Thinkers) (p. 40). Taylor & Francis. Kindle Edition.

To put it in evolutionary terms: thought is an act; and we act according to what we see. It’s the main reason we evolved the power of sight (or any of our other senses) in the first place. And while this has been useful and even necessary to our being here now, it may also be the source of our fascistic impulses. And this is what lies at the bottom of the absurd reasoning of the authoritarian sensibility. It is, for instance, an explanation for something I have to deal with as an American:

“To give you a sense of the irrationality at work here: if I were to tell a lot of the people around me that Canadians pay less for healthcare per Capita than America, that gets lost on our true believers in Capitalism or outright denied as the bullying of elitist social scientists. But feed them a tall tale of a Canadian pregnant woman put on a 10 month waiting list and they will eat it up whether it’s true or not. And even if you took them to Canada to talk to pregnant women and show it to be nonsense, they won’t admit that they’re wrong. They’ll just wait for Fox News to offer them the latest buzz phrase (such as Palin’s “Death Panels”) to rationalize their self interested desire to keep the healthcare they have even if it means others will die because of it –and that is when many people who have insurance are going bankrupt if they happen to get sick.”

This, in turn, goes back to Colebrook:

“We submit to repressive regimes, Deleuze argues, not because we are mistaken but because we desire certain affects.” -Colebrook, Claire (2002-12-07). Gilles Deleuze (Routledge Critical Thinkers) (p. 40). Taylor & Francis. Kindle Edition.

And the certain effects our American authoritarians seek can be found on Fox News which, via its stamp of corporate approval, props up the absurd reasoning (that which proves to be little more than rationalization) of those who seek to defend pure self interest (based on the dogmatic notion of a subject separate from and passing judgment on the world of objects (our baser impulses passing themselves off as more cognitive than they really are) via a kind of in-crowd mentality.

Now we could approach this at a more blue-collar level by recognizing that we seek our own repression out of repulsion to chaos. And sometimes this can be freeing, as Zizek points out, in that we will commit to certain repetitions or routines in order to free our minds to pursue our higher selves. Take Einstein’s wardrobe for instance. But it can also be taken to a fascistic extreme. This is because, as Colebrook later points out, our need to put things in order is rooted in our very experience of time:

“ Our relation to time is ethical and political precisely because it is our way of living time (or our ‘duration’) which explains the problem of politics: how is it that our desire submits to its own repression ? The very nature of time, for Deleuze, explains the way in which life can react against itself. Time creates certain ‘internal illusions’. (We do not need to posit some deceiving enemy outside life – such as ‘patriarchy’, evil, or ‘the capitalist’ – to explain our repression.) From the complex flow of time we produce ordered wholes – such as the notion of the human self. We then imagine that this self preceded or grounded the flow of time rather than being an effect of time.” -Colebrook, Claire (2002-12-07). Gilles Deleuze (Routledge Critical Thinkers) (p. 41). Taylor & Francis. Kindle Edition.

We are never in a present moment but are rather the resonant effect of what is slipping into memory and that future we are projecting into. No matter where we think we are, we are either 1 step behind or ahead of it. Imagine how hard that must seem on a self that wants to believe it is a self in complete control. Why wouldn’t it want to turn to dogma and higher principles (transcendence) in order to feel the fullness of being it cannot? Why wouldn’t it turn to:

“….the sensible intensities of political rallies: the anthems, the rhythm of speeches and marches, and the use of colour.” -Colebrook, Claire (2002-12-07). Gilles Deleuze (Routledge Critical Thinkers) (p. 40). Taylor & Francis. Kindle Edition.
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Re: Levi Bryant's: Difference and Giveness

Post by Bill Wiltrack »

.






Before someone begins weight training they may rightfully pay heed to the many good books, forums, & videos on how to properly weight train for the best expected results desired.


An individual can read all the books they want but until one begins their training exercise in the gym they would not be considered a physical trainer.


As in philosophy or in other disciplines.



Do you make a distinction between reading about philosophy and doing philosophy?






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d63
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Re: Levi Bryant's: Difference and Giveness

Post by d63 »

Fair question, Bill. As I see it, the same is true with philosophy as with any discipline such car repair, art,medicine, computer programming, science, pick your flow and burden, etc. etc.. Anything you might read or watch on a video or listen to on an audio book is ultimately supplemental to engaging in the actual act. And I would say as much for the educational system. I have managed to pass several certification exams in vocational fields only to realize that there were many uncertified people, who had learned hands-on, I would have sent someone to to solve problems relevant to those fields. All I really learned was how to pass a test.

And I think it is the same with philosophy. Ultimately, what it comes down is what many people will do naturally: observe and think about what they have observed. And I have always believed that most significant accomplishments must begin in play and return to it frequently. And in that sense, I'm in full agreement with you as to the important role these boards can play in a process. But I wouldn't underestimate the value of gathering knowledge from other sources than the act itself.

However, I have lately begun to reconsider my approach and taking more time away from the books to work on more finished pieces of writing -that is compared to the spontaneous drive-by postcards I've been posting. I've begun to feel that I should show a little more faith in my own process, and not worry so much about how well I understand what the greats have done. As I'm finding out with Deleuze, that can become a bit of a carrot on a stick in that no matter how much I learn, I'm not sure I'll ever fully understand what the hell is going on in that Frenchman's mind. There is just some of it that I may have to work towards on my own.
d63
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Re: Levi Bryant's: Difference and Giveness

Post by d63 »

“….but the one thing that jumped out for me is your comment about Rorty getting us to a similar place as Deleuze. I am not at all sure about that! nor do I think that is so. But of course I may not understand what you mean. So if you like say why you belief that please.”

“Well Orla (hi first) "Rorty = Derrida", ok, at least in this case Rorty would acknowledge the influence, but maybe "equal" is a little to much (exaggerated).”

Yes, Keywan, I would tend to sympathize with you on “equal” being too strong a term. At the same time, it’s a little like comparing apples and oranges. But I’m not sure Rorty goes to the subtle depth that Deleuze does.

My main point, Orla, is that from a practical (or pragmatic) perspective, Rorty offers the same solution in undermining representation (the notion that the mind can represent reality perfectly if we just tweak our mental mirrors just right) and putting the emphasis on discourse and what we can produce through conceptual play. And we can see a commonality in Rorty’s given privilege to discourse in that he, like Deleuze, seems to treat language like a machine interacting with the machine of reality or, better, one kind of system intertwined and interacting with a vast universe of intertwined and interacting systems. As Deleuze and Guattari write in The Anti Oedipus:

“A book does not reflect the world; it forms a rhizome with it.”

And while I agree with you, Keywan, that the influence of Derrida is certainly more present in Rorty’s writings (I think I’ve only read Deleuze mentioned once in the text I’ve read), there still seems to be a common sense of how language works with reality and a common agenda of undermining the intellectual arrogance of trying to dominate the discourse with what Rorty refers to as the epistemological underwriting of such terms as “objective”, “reason”, or “the scientific method”. They both seem equally opposed to the intellectual arrogance of the ideological goon that is going to walk into the room and set everything strait. The beauty of both of them, to me, is that they make the promethean effort (despite their obvious talent) of democratizing the intellectual process, of standing up against the vertical hierarchy of knowledge that too many intellectuals indulge in.

At the same time, one of the experiences I have had in my study of Deleuze is one of having grown beyond Rorty. While Rorty can serve the same agenda as Deleuze, at a more practical/pragmatic level, I’m not sure he goes to the level of metaphysical grounding and depth that Deleuze does. While Rorty presents the argument at a prescriptive level of what best suits a democratic approach to philosophy that supports a free and just society (leans towards the socio-political side of philosophy), Deleuze grounds it in the raw encounter with reality: the way we go from the sensible to recognition.

I’m about at the end of this particular study. And after some writing, I’m looking at a Rorty study surrounding Philosophy and the Mirror of Reality. And hopefully it will change my present feelings about it. But I can’t help but feel that Rorty has become for me, because of Deleuze, a little like Ginsberg’s Howl was for me as concerns poetry: a steppingstone to enthusiasm about a given discipline due to its accessibility, but something you move beyond while always respecting it as essential to your process.

“….to straddle the (still, unfortunately) divide between analytical (Anglo-American) and continental (mainly French) philosophy. “

As I have always said, Keywan: I’m drawn to Continental concepts while being equally drawn to the Anglo-American style of exposition. I consider myself more of a writer than a philosopher. But philosophy seems to be what I mainly want to experience right now. So that’s what I mainly want to write about.

But something I’ve been experiencing lately is the sense that Deleuze’s approach (despite being generally considered Continental) is a little more analytic than I realized. And put in mind here that throughout much of my process I have generally considered the analytic approach a little too anal for my taste. As he pointed out (w/ Guattarri ) in What is Philosophy, it is about the creation of concepts. And I have revised this to it being about conceptual play that involves the creation of concepts. And the experience I have had, working from this, is one of playing with concepts in the same way a mathematician plays with numbers. In a sense, you have to set reality aside as you work with the concepts you have arrived at thinking about problems in reality. You have to see what they can do in your own little mental lab then test them against reality, see how they work, then go back to your mental lab and either discard them or revise them. This, I have come to realize, is why French philosophy seems so obscure: because it works with abstractions (concepts) with less effort to make real world connections than most people would like or that they can more easily understand.

I once read something that associated Deleuze with the analytic approach. And I didn’t get it at the time. But given the mathematical feel of playing with concepts and creating them, I’m starting to get it. Take for instance what seems to lie at the core of Difference and Repetition: that which happens when you consider them in a pure sense without the objects in space that define them as little more than relationships between those objects:

At best, a pure repetition can only be a different instance of the same thing, which means that what must always be repeated is difference.
d63
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Re: Levi Bryant's: Difference and Giveness

Post by d63 »

“While I can fully appreciate the value of the boards for someone into philosophy (the equivalent of the jam for a musician), this would not be near the fun for me if I did not read PN or famous philosophers like Deleuze, Rorty, or Zizek among others. I'm not sure I would achieve the depth I have in my process without them.

I mean we all have to find our flow and I have nothing against the path you are taking. But nothing I have seen in your posts justifies your acting like actually reading PN and engaging in the dialogue it presents is an inferior approach.”

“Do you make a distinction between reading about philosophy and doing philosophy?”

“Fair question, Bill. As I see it, the same is true with philosophy as with any discipline such car repair, art,medicine, computer programming, science, pick your flow and burden, etc. etc.. Anything you might read or watch on a video or listen to on an audio book is ultimately supplemental to engaging in the actual act. And I would say as much for the educational system. I have managed to pass several certification exams in vocational fields only to realize that there were many uncertified people, who had learned hands-on, I would have sent someone to to solve problems relevant to those fields. All I really learned was how to pass a test.

And I think it is the same with philosophy. Ultimately, what it comes down is what many people will do naturally: observe and think about what they have observed. And I have always believed that most significant accomplishments must begin in play and return to it frequently. And in that sense, I'm in full agreement with you as to the important role these boards can play in a process. But I wouldn't underestimate the value of gathering knowledge from other sources than the act itself.

However, I have lately begun to reconsider my approach and taking more time away from the books to work on more finished pieces of writing -that is compared to the spontaneous drive-by postcards I've been posting. I've begun to feel that I should show a little more faith in my own process, and not worry so much about how well I understand what the greats have done. As I'm finding out with Deleuze, that can become a bit of a carrot on a stick in that no matter how much I learn, I'm not sure I'll ever fully understand what the hell is going on in that Frenchman's mind. There is just some of it that I may have to work towards on my own.”

As luck would have it, Bill, Colebrook brings up a point of Deleuze’s that puts a little shine on this issue:

“If I try to learn to swim by mechanically copying the instructor's movements as they are demonstrated out of the water then I will never learn the art of swimming. (I will never learn to compose music if I just repeat the sonatas of Beethoven. We will never do philosophy if we just repeat learned arguments.) I will only learn to swim if I see what the instructor does not as a self-contained action but as a creative response. I do not repeat his arm movements ; I repeat the sense of the water or feel for the waves that produces his arm movements. My arms need to feel the water and become in the way a swimmer's arms become.” -Colebrook, Claire (2002-12-07). Gilles Deleuze (Routledge Critical Thinkers) (pp. 135-136). Taylor & Francis. Kindle Edition.

She then goes on to point out:

“Similarly , composing in the manner of a great composer would mean feeling the inventive force at the heart of Beethoven's sonatas. Producing great philosophy would require feeling the force of a problem, not repeating all the answers.” -Colebrook, Claire (2002-12-07). Gilles Deleuze (Routledge Critical Thinkers) (p. 136). Taylor & Francis. Kindle Edition.

Now this is important for reasons that straddle both sides of the issue here. On one hand, it points to the import of doing things hands on (output) while also pointing out the supplementary role (input) that things like reading or education must play.

At the same time, this can be d.constructed in recognizing the import it suggests that those supplementary resources can play. We would first have to hear a Beethoven sonata in order to know its “inventive force” or read philosophy in order to feel the force of the problem it confronts. We are what we take in –something I think compliments Deleuze’s transcendental empiricism and notion of the mind (the thinking machine) as one kind of system interacting with all the various sub and supra systems (all of which are intertwined) that constitute reality (univocal being).

And in the spirit of Deleuze’s engagement and “making connections”, I would note one of the most influential pieces of advice I have ever gotten concerning the creative act. As a famous cook once pointed out:

The primary ingredient (excuse the pun) of a great cook is a great taster.

In other words, we don’t read the works of those who have gotten further than us in order to learn how to do something; we look to them to figure out what it is we are aiming for, which we will, in turn, take our own serendipitous path in getting into the ballpark with.

It is in this spirit, I think, that Deleuze (among other French philosophers) utilizes free indirect discourse. Rather than try to control the reader’s process through clear and direct exposition, Deleuze approaches it in the poetic oblique manner of allowing the reader to arrive at their own conclusions –hopefully in a way that bares a family resemblance to what it is that Deleuze has arrived at through his. In other words, the idea is not to impose meaning, but allow the reader to arrive at their own eternal return of difference that carry traces of what Deleuze arrived at through his engagements.

“Oh, by the way. My introduction several years ago to Deleuze was also via the excellent Claire Colebrook book you cite. I was immediately captivated and went onto his own books. But he is heavy going sometimes, but really worth every word. “

While I cannot speak for Deleuze, Orla, I can’t help but feel he would respect your willingness to turn to secondary texts as a form of engagement. You are, through your own series of engagements, trying to get at what Deleuze had to offer. For my part, it shows integrity. Too many people on these boards would take the elitist position of acting like you could know nothing until you read the actual text. They would snub down their noses at secondary text. This suggests that they believe there could be any final interpretation of Deleuze when I’m almost certain that Deleuze wanted his philosophy to be in an ongoing state of becoming: the eternal return of difference. Those who do otherwise tend to treat philosophy as a means to an end (power, authority, etc.). And while, once again, I cannot speak for Deleuze, I cannot help but feel that the elitist position is one of those pockets of fascism that must be sought out and undermined.
d63
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Re: Levi Bryant's: Difference and Giveness

Post by d63 »

Yes! To revise Russell's famous description:

Philosophy lies in that no-man’s land between science and literature.

And it is this spectrum that defines the distinction between the analytic and the continental. And Deleuze definitely exploits the literary side of it –which is a good thing given that a lot of time your reading his work and not understanding a damn thing he’s saying (as I often describe Difference and Repetition: that goddamn book by that goddamn Frenchman) the beauty of some of his writing is the only carrying you through. Case in point:

“We head for the horizon, on the plane of immanence, and we return with bloodshot eyes, yet they are the eyes of the mind.”

A phrase that definitely caught my attention. (But then I have the taste for spirits that Deleuze must have been reminiscing about at the time –after he had to quit for health problems. I would also offer the beginning passage of The Anti-Oedipus:

“It is at work everywhere, functioning smoothly at times, at other times in fits and starts. It breathes, it heats, it eats. It shits and fucks. What a mistake to have ever said the Id. Everywhere it is machines –real ones, not figurative ones: machines driving other machines, machines being driven by other ones, with all the necessary couplings and connections. An organ-machine is plugged into an energy-source-machine: the one produces a flow that the other interrupts. The breast is a machine that produces milk, and the mouth a machine coupled to it. The mouth of the anorexic wavers between several functions: its possessor is uncertain as to whether it is an eating machine, a talking machine, or a breathing machine (asthma attacks). Hence we are all handymen: each with his little machines. For every organ-machine, an energy machine: all the time, flows and interruptions.”

At the same time, it would be prudent to hesitate before attributing all the poetics to Deleuze. I would note, for instance, that it was when he got with Guattarri that his terminology became more colorful which such terms as the BwO, rhizomes, nomads, and abstract machines. And if you ever read Guattarri’s Anti-Oedipus Papers, you might find it (as I did (more surreal and stream of consciousness than the work he did with Deleuze (you might begin to suspect that Guattarri had as much to do with the literary lean as Deleuze did.

(But I digress. And getting back to the original point: Deleuze definitely leaned to the literary/continental side while warranting analytic respectability. Once again, I point to the metaphysical core of Difference and Repetition that is as semantic as it is descriptive:

Even a pure repetition can only be a different instant of the same thing which means that what is always repeated is difference.

What makes this important to me is that the continental/literary tradition must be maintained in order to distinguish it from analytic agenda of reducing it to little more than cheer squad for science and, in turn, producer/consumer Capitalism. The analytic has its place and it is all fuel for the fire. But reading guys like Dennett and Searle, you can’t help but feel the influence that corporate sponsorship (as state funds decrease (is having on our universities (which use to be our primary defense against the excesses of Capitalism (and is threatening our freedom. The analytic seeks to make philosophy functional –which it ultimately fails to do because nothing philosophy can do can be turned into exchange value (it can’t create a new technology) outside of the few books it sells.

Therefore, philosophy, on the continental/literary side, serves its purpose best by distinguishing itself from science in its embrace (much like that of the fine arts (of the perfectly non-functional act of the free-play with and creation of concepts. In this capacity, it serves its most supportive role to science in acting as the brainstorming discipline that both acts as check and balance to science while facilitating it by articulating the issues (those of the human condition (it is up against.

As Camus said:

"Ultimately, all arguments for beauty are arguments for freedom."
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Bill Wiltrack
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Re: Levi Bryant's: Difference and Giveness

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