update: I received an email complaining about the obscurity of this post and asking me for clarification. I hope that it is more comprehensible now.

Levi Bryant’s recent posts (eg here and here) embody the claim that « cultural studies » is predominantly given over to a study of discourses and signifiers to the point of not only diminishing or excluding all recognition of the role of things, but also of rendering very difficult even the awareness of the non-discursive power and importance of things. We get the impression of Levi being surrounded by correlationists, with him and a few others defending realism.

This idea can best be expressed in terms of the diagram:

The function Φ refers to correlation (i.e. castration) above all in its cultural studies form of those who believe that everything is text. The upper left side corresponds to Levi’s current position, and must be read: all theorists are textists, there is at least one theorist  (Levi) who is not textist.

On a personal note: I have almost never met anyone silly enough to talk as if everything were discourse, and even those two or three were 35 years ago in Sydney. 30 years ago I came to live in France and I went to seminars by Lyotard, Deleuze, Foucault, Châtelet, Baudrillard, and Michel Serres and Jean-Toussaint Desanti, and I never came across anyone in those very well-attended seminars who thought like that. Now I live in Nice and the same is true not only for the University but also for the High Schools where I have taught (where philosophy is taught not only at the end of secondary studies, but also to many of the tertiary students there). On the radio I regularly hear Michel Onfray who is a realist, as are Michel Serres (yes, he’s still going!) and Alain Badiou. Almost none of the philosophers that I meet have read Meillassoux, and none attribute him any importance, despite all of them being realists.

Levi Bryant accuses others of « confirmation bias », of taking the few counter-examples to his thesis as indicative of a majority position. I think Levi himself is an example of a variant of this that we may call « frequentation bias ». As I cannot believe that he is lying, I can only assume that he chooses to frequent the few conceptual rednecks that may exist, and to refute a position that is too ridiculous to take seriously. So I can only agree with Peter Gratton (No, it isn’t) and Mikhail Emelianov (Pointing Out the Obvious Hurts). See also AFTER NATURE.

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Un commentaire pour LEVI BRYANT’S DIAGRAM OF TEXTUATION: A Case of Frequentation Bias

  1. Bill Benzon dit :

    Though I had a substantial commitment to Continental thought early in my undergraduate and early graduate days (Merleau-Ponty, Nietzsche,and Lévi-Strauss mostly) I pretty much abandoned it in favor of cognitive science and other things. But I did check in every now and then. I pretty much assumed that extreme discursivity was pretty much a strawman invented by opponents of Continental philosophy. Bryant seems to be using it as a backdrop to highlight what seems to me his rather thin articulation of materiality.


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