JUNG WAS AN ATHEIST (2): The God-Image is not God

  1. The Death of God – Nietzsche
  2. The Death of God and the Rebirth of the God-Image – Jung
  3. The Rebirth of the God-Image conflated with a monistic God-concept – Edward Edinger and Old School Jungians
  4. The Death of God and the Death of the Rebirth of God – Western Buddhism (Daisetz Suzuki, Alan Watts, Chogyam Trungpa, Krishnamurti)
  5. the birth of multiple gods as images – James Hillman (and to a certain extent Hubert Dreyfus)
  6. the death of the gods as image and their rebirth in the soul’s logical life (Wolfgang Giegerich)
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JUNG WAS AN ATHEIST (1): genetic phenomenology of the numinous image

Carl Jung was an atheist. Standard Jungians know this, but they do not say it outright.

Jung is like Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, etc in that he does not believe in an external entity creator of the universe. Jung’s « God » is phenomenological, not theological, and he allows for many valid varieties of religious experience.

Sigmund Freud was a naive atheist, a scientistic thinker. Like Richard Dawkins, he saw no place for God in the physical universe.

Jung was an atheist in this sense too, only he was more psychological (or existential), as he used « God » as a name for the emergence of numinous events in the psychic process, so he wrote a « theogony », i.e. a genetic phenomenology of the formation, or « birth », of the God-image in the human psyche

From the notebooks of a self-experimentation, a psychological work in a literary and theogonic form was created (Sonu Shamdasani, Introduction to The Black Books).

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BIBLIOGRAPHY OF MY WRITINGS (10): Deleuze and Jung (and Hillman)

JUNG/DELEUZE (1): schizophrenia, individuation, and alchemy

JUNG/DELEUZE (2): Shadow, Anima, and Self as conceptual personae

JUNG/DELEUZE (3): re-naming, purging, and imaging

updated: DESIRE, COMPLEXES, ASSEMBLAGES: Deleuze and Jung

NOTHING TO DECLARE: the language of becoming in Deleuze and Hillman



No Cuts!: Deleuze and Hillman on Alterity

THE JUNGIAN TURN: individuation and sublimation, multiplicity and becomings

IMAGE IS THE MEASURE: Notes on Incommensurability and the Dream

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JUNG’S BLACK BOOKS (1): An A-theological Treatise

Carl Jung’s BLACK BOOKS constitute an a-theological treatise (as in Bataille’s work), the protocols of a long, intense encounter and experimentation with the unconscious. They are the records of a private experience of collective import. These works are based on phenomenological observation and participation, they are not proposed as evidence of some ontotheological outside « reality ».

There is nothing more anti-Jungian than Peter Kingsley’s pretensions, in CATAFALQUE and elsewhere, to accessing ontological « Reality ».

Jung had gone through the Kantian turn, the Hegelian turn, the Nietzschean turn, the pragmatic turn BEFORE his confrontation with the unconscious. All these philosophical encounters were essential parts of Jung’s process of « unlearning » the metaphysics that interferes with a phenomenological approach to experience. https://terenceblake.wordpress.com/2019/12/27/peter-kingsleys-catafalque-1-a-contrary-review/

I say that Jung had gone through the « Hegelian turn », despite his often negative remarks on Hegel’s philosophical thought. In fact he seems to be little familiar with Hegel, and to rely mostly on reductive stereotypes of Hegel’s ideas, rather than a real encounter with his works.

However, Jung’s conscious or surface rejection of Hegel’s thought does not preclude a close unconscious proximity with Hegelian thought-processes, as Wolfgang Giegerich demonstrates quite clearly.

Jung was magna-erudite, but not omni-erudite, and the accepted interpretations of his work need to be broken.

Jung was an atheist. Standard Jungians know this, but they do not say it outright. Jung is like Richard Dawkins etc in that he does not believe in an external creator. Jung’s « God » is phenomenological, not theological, and he allows for many valid varieties of religious experience.

Freud was a naive atheist, a scientistic thinker. Like Richard Dawkins, he saw no place for God in the physical universe.

Jung was an atheist in this sense too, only he was more psychological (or existential), he saw « God » as the emergence of numinous events in the psychic process, so he wrote a « theogony ».

« From the notebooks of a self-experimentation, a psychological work in a literary and theogonic form was created » (Sonu Shamdasani, Introduction to The Black Books).

In this opposition between theology and theogony, one might say between ontotheology and cosmotheogony, we rejoin the distinction that Jung made between the two types of thinking (directed and fantasy) and between two types of unconscious:

  1. the familial neurotic unconscious of Freud
  2. the cosmogonic schizophrenic unconscious of Jung

Jung’s process of confrontation with the unconscious went further than Freud’s and than what he was able to confront in his relations with Freud, who was limited to the neurotic unconscious. Jung traversed the schizophrenic unconscious without being submerged, without going mad.

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ZIZEK’S QUANTUM DECONSTRUCTION: inconsistency vs indeterminacy

In the preceding post I made strategic use of Badiousian concepts, but this does not mean that I adhere to the system that englobes and ordinates these concepts. Badiou’s system is useful when you want to enlarge your vision from just one type for example, but moving from one to four (truth-procedures) is not enough. I share Zizek’s (and Agon Hamza’s) preference for the « inconsistency » side of Badiou, over his system.

Inconsistency is on the side of the unconscious and of its interplay of intensities and the void. This potency of the inconsistent intensive unconscious is the reason that I have always preferred Zizek’s approach over Badiou’s. However, things change with Badiou’s THE IMMANENCE OF TRUTHS, where he elaborates on infinite subjective intensities residing in reserve in the unconscious, both as an immanent infinite resource of energy and ideas and also as an inchoate perception of new possibilities of which one is as yet unaware that one is capable. (For my summary and analysis see: https://terenceblake.wordpress.com/2018/10/06/my-path-through-badious-the-immanence-of-truths-full-english-text/)

Zizek seems to have been tempted to give in to what one could call a « quasi-system » of inconsistency based on his version of Lacan, and it is only recently that he is talking about the problems with Lacan’s system, and promising a book on this subject.

If Zizek follows through on this project, he would move from cross-capping Hegel and Lacan to assuming his own conceptual Klein bottle, which has always been present as a latency in his work but may now be brought forth more explicitly.

Zizek is able to say that Badiou’s mathematical ontology of inconsistent multiplicities does roughly the same work as his own quantum ontology of indeterminacies, but he finally comes down on the side of quantum mechanics. This means that ultimately he argues that between non-manifest inconsistent Being and the various manifest realities or ontic domains there is a third term, that of an ontologically incomplete « proto-reality », as described by quantum physics.

Laruelle makes a similar argument, and calls his approach a « quantum deconstruction » of Badiou’s system. I think that in his own way, by other conceptual means, Zizek too effects a quantum deconstruction of those systems that he considers contain fruitful elements, including Badiou’s.

Note: I am indebted to a discussion with Agon Hamza for helping me to clarify my ideas on this point.

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WAITING AND OPENNESS vs SUBJECTIVE URGENCY: Althusser’s advice on method

« Politics is a protracted war. Do not be in a hurry. Try to see things far in advance, and know how to wait, today. Don’t live in terms of subjective urgency. Know, too, how to put your defeats to use. » (Althusser in LETTERS FROM INSIDE THE ITALIAN COMMUNIST PARTY TO LOUIS ALTHUSSER, by Maria Antoinietta Macchiocchi, page 23)

Note: I am indebted to Agon Hamza for calling my attention to this quote and for a very interesting discussion that helped me to clarify my ideas.

I think this passage from Althusser gives good advice not only for the practice of politics but also for the other truth-procedures (scientific research, artistic experience, and the experience of love). It does, however, pose the question of the time limit, as neither I nor my collective have unlimited time at our disposal.

The passage also illustrates that good, conjuncturally appropriate, advice is also trans-conjunctural, because it contains within it a universal or generic aspect (which Deleuze called « untimely »).

Althusser is far more methodologically sophisticated than he is usually given credit for. This text aptly illumines the contrast between method (one answer for everything), and « heuristics » as having at hand multiple, evolving responses, including waiting or « doing nothing ».

Of course, sometimes things just are urgent, and pragmatic considerations must come to the fore, but subjective urgency is often a great force for literalisation of reality, of de-concepting the conjuncture.

On the other hand, doing nothing cannot in the last instance be a method unto itself, to be employed in isolation. Inaction or waiting on one plane needs to be accompanied by action on other planes. One thinks of the activism that accompanies strikes.

There is no magical power of waiting as such, no mono-method, but in specific contexts it can be very potent.

Badiou prefers openness over waiting, but what he is critiquing is « prophetic waiting », which seems to be tied to some idea of the inevitability of the « correct » change: https://terenceblake.wordpress.com/2020/07/16/badious-critique-of-lyotard-1-against-the-subjectivity-of-waiting/

I think it is more useful to see openness and waiting as complementary strategies, and to incorporate them in the more general process of trial-and-error, of, as Althusser says « putting your defeats to use ».

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Bernard Stiegler’s practice of philosophy as re-thinking (or noesis) at its strongest took as its terminus post quem an assemblage of philosophers’ (Heidegger, Deleuze, Derrida, Simondon) texts and concepts. This was what he called his « noetic humus », the dead and decaying conceptual soil. His terminus ad quem was always conceptual creation, in favour of new practices of individual and collective life.

It seems to me that Zizek’s re-thinking is almost, but not quite, the completely inverse movement. His terminus post quem and his terminus ad quem are both Hegel+Lacan, and the creation of concepts is the path, not the goal.

This is not to dismiss Zizek’s thought, or to say that Stiegler’s is « better » (or worse). It is their inverted overlap that inspired me to take them together, as a « temporal pincer » (or Lacanian cross-cap) in the sense of the film TENET: https://terenceblake.wordpress.com/2020/09/25/tenet-and-the-failed-absolute-notes-towards-a-zizekian-reading/

This pincer movement is already practiced by Zizek, sometimes implicitly sometimes more or less explicitly, in his combined use of Deleuze (often unavowed) and of Lacan. This is what he theorised as the « Lacan/Deleuze pact »: https://terenceblake.wordpress.com/2018/07/27/zizek-on-the-lacan-deleuze-pact/

This Lacan/Deleuze pact is one of Zizek’s own temporal pincers or cross-caps. Creative thinkers are full of these reciprocally inverted duos. They are theorised for example by Deleuze as « encounters » or « crossings » and by Laruelle as « collisions ».

The question then, to use Zizek’s terminology, is whether one also attains to the noetic equivalent of a Klein Bottle, the subjective cut as terminus ad quem. This subjective cut corresponds to Deleuze’s concept of « speaking in one’s own name », which is also, at the same time, « becoming-imperceptible ».

See: https://terenceblake.wordpress.com/2020/07/30/sex-and-the-failed-absolute-5-a-puzzling-example-of-absolute-knowledge/

Stiegler it seems to me attains this subjective cut far more consistently, or at least more explicitly, than Zizek, but I may be placing too much accent on the lexical surface of their writings. For more on this aspect of Stiegler’s noetic practice, see my previous post: https://terenceblake.wordpress.com/2020/10/17/bernard-stiegler-traumatic-concepts-and-the-tabula-curata/

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Bernard Stiegler speaks of the rise and transformation of the « technosphere », which is increasingly regulated by algorithmic reason, as a domain of « absolute non-knowledge ». He notes with regret that engineers, technicians, and to an increasing extent « scientists » do not know what they are doing. They make use of uninterpreted algorithms because of their efficacity, rather than their meaning.

The algorithms « work », and that is supposed to enough. This constitutes what one could call in Laruellese the principle of algorithmic sufficiency. François Laruelle’s thought on this point is convergent with Stiegler’s. There is no question of rejecting or condemning the algorithm, but only of refusing its hegemony. The algorithm is no foundation for our desire, knowledge, creation, and action. Rather it is one inhuman aspect of our thought that needs to be supported to the human (what Stiegler calls in a Laruellean use of the « non- » the « non-inhuman »).

Talking about non-philosophy, Laruelle declares:

One cannot separate or isolate pure, formal and algorithmically manipulable rules; non-philosophy solely has an algorithmic aspect (a transformed material) of the machine, even of the automaton, and it’s a machine indeed, but determined in-the-last-instance by Man.

This allows us to see a potential critical force to the division that Deleuze and Guattari set up between science (function, algorithm) and philosophy (concept, noesis) in WHAT IS PHILOSOPHY? Scientists, on this account, do not « know » what they are doing when they do not fully conceptualise.

This scientific non-knowing corresponds to Kuhnian « normal science », a de-concepted manipulation of de-noetised procedures and formulae that tendentially abstracts from thought and experience in favour of data and algorithms.

Desire, like thought, thus becomes increasingly algorithmically regimented, and this algorithmic desire is the degraded de-noetised state of desire that corresponds to the new regimes of algorithmic governance. Stiegler, after Deleuze, and in convergence with Laruelle, calls for a (re-)noetisation of algorithmic and functional assemblages.

Bernard Stiegler goes so far as to deny even the status of « desire » to the result of the de-sublimation and dissolution effectuated by algorithmic calculation and governance. The expression « algorithmic desire » would be a contradiction in terms, as for Stiegler the algorithm dissolves desire by unbinding and disinhibiting the drives.

A more Deleuzian approach would permit this formulation of « algorithmic desire », as a de-noetised algorithmised desire remains a desire, and the sharp demarcation made by Stiegler between desire and drive cannot be made within the conceptual landscape of CAPITALISM AND SCHIZOPHRENIA I and II.

Bibliographic note

For the concept of « algorithmic governance » I am indebted to the work of Antoinette Rouvroy. For an interesting and accessible interview in English see: https://www.greeneuropeanjournal.eu/algorithmic-governmentality-and-the-death-of-politics/

For the concept of « algorithmic desires » I am indebted to the work of Maryse Carmès. Her work creates a problematic which synthesises concepts from Deleuze, Laruelle, Latour, Stiegler, and Rouvroy. See her « Désirs algorithmiques de l’action publique : une lecture sémiopolitique », in Algorithmes et décisions publiques (published 31 January 2019, edited by Gilles Rouet).

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One thing that is inspiring about Bernard Stiegler’s philosophising is his ability to set up a contemporary conceptual framework and vocabulary which allowed him to reference and to be influenced by the philosophers of his intellectual path without following them slavishly.

Stiegler treated philosophical systems as assemblages of « force ideas » (« idées-forces » is a concept of the French philosopher Alfred Fouillée). He would take such a force idea as it occurs in another philosopher (e.g. « desire » in Deleuze) and re-think the idea as a living force.

In this way Stiegler managed to avoid both the false ideal of setting out from zero (the tabula rasa) and the untenable position of discipleship (the tabula imitata). He often referred mockingly to the « little Deleuzians » and the « little Derrideans ». Today we could add the « little Laruelleans » and the « little Zizekians », etc.

The idea behind this practice (tabula curata) is that all these interesting concepts are up for grabs, democratically, by anyone. As force ideas they are in constant circulation, and are not the property of any particular microcosm or movement.

The « little » approach is that of microcosmic possessiveness and exclusion, often based on ignorance of the fact that one’s cherished ideas come from outside and return there, all the while continuing to exist and be transformed outside one’s little bubble.

The more the bubble is closed off, the more its force ideas are de-noetised. They decline from concepts into slogans and catchphrases. Stiegler says that from traumatypes they become stereotypes. I think he is right, as there is something inherently traumatic in a concept.

If your idea force doesn’t traumatise you, if you do not ceaselessly wonder and worry, constantly asking yourself « how can this be? how can I be worthy of it? how can I give it its due?, who can help me? who can I share it with? », then it is a cliché, it is not (or no longer) a concept.

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TENET AND THE TIME-IMAGE: sources and influences

Apparently I have offended someone who feels that I have used other people’s ideas, i.e. his own, without citing them, although I am a little perplexed as to what passages on my blog he has in mind.

My blogging style is highly allusive, and that allows great concision, but it may be felt to be problematic in other ways, more particularly in terms of proper citational practices.

A blog is different in style from an academic article or a book, and when I assemble my posts into an article I put in the p’s and q’s and dot the i’s as far as I am able. Even so, I am trying to author and publish « quality » blogging, and certainly wish to appropriately acknowledge my influences and sources.

I myself have been plagiarised (in academic papers and at least one book), and I wish to remain vigilant in my own practice.

As my readers may know, I live in France and my reading in contemporary philosophy is mainly in French (Latour, Badiou, Laruelle, Stiegler, and others). I also follow what is podcast or published on youtube of the various French philosophers I read.

In particular, I have listened to every seminar of Bernard Stiegler’s on pharmakon.fr for the last 10 years. I mention Stiegler because I have often wanted to recommend his more recent work (on algorithmic governmentality and the de-noetisation of desire) to people working in media studies, more especially from a Zizekian standpoint, as being potentially useful to read for their diverse research projects.

A problem in the reception of my recent posts on TENET (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) has arisen, in that their theoretical apparatus and terminology has seemed to be derivative in the eyes of certain micro-bloggers of a Zizekian ilk.

I wrote these five posts on TENET as an extension of my ongoing review of SEX AND THE FAILED ABSOLUTE (most recent entry here). I have previously reviewed other of his books, including DISPARITIES and INCONTINENCE OF THE VOID.

My initial training was in the philosophy of science, so I have concentrated a lot on this aspect of Zizek’s work. Further, Bernard Stiegler in his seminars and in his latest books (some still untranslated) talks about algorithmic production of entropy versus the need to produce negentropy and a Neganthropocene/Negentropocene (his terms). So TENET seemed to me to be an ideal occasion to explore the possible convergence of these two problematics.

I must add that I actually physically attended Deleuze’s seminars on the cinema, and I retain from that experience an abiding interest in the time-image and its more popular literalisations. So this makes explicit where I am coming from in my blog posts, if that is any help to understand their underpinnings.

As I understand it one particular micro-blogger is using the uninterpreted results of academia.edu’s algorithm to suggest a possible « influence » of his texts on my work. He is able to show, thanks to this algorithm, that I have consulted and-or downloaded a dozen of his texts. He does not consider the « magpie effect » of such platforms, nor my publication history, nor even other signs of my reading. The actuality of this purported influence thus remains to be demonstrated.

My actual blogging shows my real influences, including many works by Zizek, some of which I have explicated in depth. As I have explained, my texts on TENET derive from an interest in Stiegler and in science fiction as contributing to the plurality of the time image.

An early example of my interest in anamnesis, negentropy, noesis and bifurcations (all of which enter into my account of TENET) dating from 2016 can be found here: https://terenceblake.wordpress.com/…/the-house…/.

A similar contemporaneous assemblage of concepts is mobilised in my paper on Deleuze and Dune, delivered in 2013 (in French): https://terenceblake.wordpress.com/…/deleuze-et-dune…/.

Another influence was my cinematic experience as a science fiction fan enamoured of philosophy. For example, I saw BLADE RUNNER in Paris, in 1982 and liked it very much. This was during the period when I was attending Deleuze’s seminars on the cinema (another enormous influence on my thinking). I have evolved intellectually a lot since then, but it’s not a bad start..

The greatest recent influences on my thinking on science fiction and philosophy have been Jean-Clet Martin’s LOGIQUE DE LA SCIENCE FICTION (which argues that the logic underlying sf as a genre is the logic of Hegel’s SCIENCE OF LOGIC), François Laruelle’s TETRALOGOS (which argues that philosophy’s logic is one of a genericised science fiction), Alain Badiou’s IMMANENCE DES VERITES (which argues that algorithmic logical processes cover over infinities of higher magnitude in the finitising logics of ideology), all of which have been reviewed on my blog, and I would add Bernard Stiegler’s BIFURQUER (which describes algorithmic governmentality and the digital de-noetisation of desire).

Each of these books have greatly influenced me, they are major works by outstanding philosophers, in whom I have maintained a long-term interest and I have done my best to give back as much as I can to these thinkers to whom I owe so much.

My one regret is that I have not written as much on, or with, Stiegler’s thought as with the others, and my texts on TENET were in part an attempt to redress that lack.

I am grateful to the occasion for this post, as it has given me a chance to come out on some things that have remained perhaps too implicit on my blog.

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