Link to new podcast: http://agentswarmpodcast.wordpress.com/
RATIONALE: For a while now I have been getting fed up with my habitual way of expressing myself (a habit by the way that didn’t exist 2 years ago, where my decades-lasting habit was rather not to express myself at all, this was one of the reasons I created this blog in the first place) and I feel a mutation coming on. Nietzsche spoke in favor of “brief habits”, so I am trying to write differently: I ressuscitated my tumblr, I amalgamated my posts to form more synthetic articles that I published on Scribd, I filmed myself talking and uploaded the videos to youtube, but all this is inconclusive. I have decided to try out making a podcast where I can do monologues if I want, but where I will dialogue with people and hopefully get myself moving.
I have come to realise that I am not as “clear” as I thought and have sometimes been a victim of and sometimes provoked avoidable misunderstandings. Feyerabend strove for a less academic style and he recounts in his autobiography KILLING TIME how the big intellectuals picked him up, told him in a teacherly fashion where he was wrong, and then put him down again, leaving him in what to them was obscurity. When people have wanted to seem up to date and a bit daring in the philosophy of science they have tended to quote Kuhn, finding in him a “serious” reference. Yet Feyerabend is by far the more serious philosopher: broader and deeper and more thought-provoking. I feel that I have been in a similar situation of being picked up by the high-powered intellectuals, « refuted », and put down again. However, like Feyerabend, I refuse to stay « put down ».
A « severe critic » accused me of fetishizing Feyerabend and of being unable to say anything in my own name but hiding behind the authority of Deleuze, Feyerabend, etc. I can however talk in my own name without quoting Feyerabend as an authority, and that is when I give an argument. In reply, I argued that if counting the number of occurences of a term was an indication of level of fetishization then I was not fetishizing Feyerabend to any great extent, and that concepts trump words any day. I then claimed that if I fetishized anything it was not Feyerabend or Deleuze but « pluralism » and not just the word but the concept of pluralism. I further asserted that this was in my opinion still a bad thing and that I was trying to go beyond that (hence, for example, the podcast). That’s me talking, but I gave Feyerabend as an example of the danger and as indicating one way of trying to get out of it. I think I am allowed to give examples when I am speaking in my own name. As I am talking about pluralism at a methodological level and at a meta-methodological level I don’t have much choice in the way of examples, but the argument is mine and I have been giving it from the beginning. I also have developped this argument on my blog over 2 years and that has been one of the principal aims from its beginning, speaking in my own name, which includes speaking about authors I love.
One could accuse me of me being « submerged » by the ideas of Deleuze, Nietzsche and Feyerabend, but I prefer to talk about being « insufflated ». This is an allusion to Klossowski as he is the reference Deleuze cites when talking about our individuality as being a process of multiple insufflation, an individuation composing with the presence of multiple breaths in us. I am no naked eyeball gaping at the world and at your words and barking out replies in some mcdonaldised fast sensory-motor circuit. This goes back to the basic critique of inductivism and of the inadequacies of, for example, John Stuart Mill’s philosophy of science. We express ourselves in a conceptual and problematic context, insufflated by all sorts of ideas and arguments that we can only allude to by such shorthand devices as proper names, key words worked out in long arguments etc. It is interesting to note that Paul Feyerabend showed that Mill’s ON LIBERTY deconstructed the dogmatic elements of his earlier works, and so he gave in fact a Nietzschean (ie pluralist) reading of that text that was not however Nietzsche’s own reading of Mill.
So what I am looking for is more dialogue, what Feyerabend called an « open exchange », where there is no dogmatic grid to guide the conversation and rob it of its transformative power. I am not looking for a « debate ». For Deleuze the word « debate » is negatively connoted (or is it the word? maybe it’s the concept, and perhaps I have transformed things over time? But is that a bad thing? after all,we must assimilate what we read, that is to say individuate it and individuate ourselves at the same time. Deleuze proceeded in exactly this way, he metamorphosed any concepts and values he took over, or « insufflated » and was « insufflated » by. He recognised the ontological and noetic imortance of subjectivity and singularity, of what I am calling individuation. So my answer to the accusation that Deleuze is just doing Deleuze no matter who he seems to be talking of is that this is only half-true, as Deleuze functions in terms of what he calls »double-becoming ». Thus, because it is only half-true, only one side of a double-becoming, it is totally false, as you can’t decompose a becoming without destroying its nature). A debate does not have the sort of conceptual creativity and the fluidity outside the grids of « reflection » that he sought. In other words, debate is fetishising and Deleuze wanted to de-fetishise, as do I. My own key to reading Deleuze, and many other philosophers, is to be found in his NIETZSCHE ET LA PHILOSOPHIE, page 4: « The philosophy of Nietzsche has not been understood as long as one does not take into account his essential pluralism. And to tell the truth, pluralism, in other words empiricism, is indistinguishable from philosophy itself. Pluralism is the properly philosophical manner of thinking, invented by philosophy ». If I fetishize anything, I fetishize pluralism as I find it in Nietzsche, Feyerabend, and Deleuze. But luckily Feyerabend warns expressly against such a fetishization that he considers he was guilty of and then overcame.
Let’s consider in more detail this example of taking issue with the word « debate ». I say that Deleuze has a negative appreciation of the word. But is this invoking Deleuze’s « authority »? Not really, as I spell out what I find negative about debates, situating myself in the vague affective and conceptual atmosphere of Deleuze’s discussion of these sorts of issues. I give only a thumbnail sketch because I presuppose that people reading me must be familiar with Deleuze’s ideas on debate, or have had similar ideas themselves. Well I have shocking news: Deleuze does not say this about debate, but made some negative remarks about the conceptual basis of the interview and and elsewhere gave a negative analysis of the concept of « discussing » philosophy. Worse, nowhere does he say what I claim he says, in the sense that he does not use those particular words « conceptual creativity » and « fluidity » in relation to debate or discussion. So a critic would have a field day proving that I was erroneous and that Deleuze said no such thing. But he did, just not in those exact words. And anyone who has read even a little Deleuze with a modicum of understanding would agree that it is so. And yet I have gone out of my way to show that it is me talking and arguing all the way through, and not Deleuze at all. Very strange, isn’t it?