PLURALIST JOY PROVOKES MONIST SADNESS: but that is not its aim

I read BEING AND EVENT when it first came out in 1988 and was bowled over by it. This was quite against my will as all I had read of Badiou before was THE FLUX AND THE PARTY and THEORY OF THE SUBJECT. I read THE FLUX AND THE PARTY (where Badiou is quite virulent in his criticism of Deleuze and Guattari, saying that they “flow like pus”)  in 1981 when I arrived in France.

After reading ANTI-OEDIPUS in 1978 I was so excited that this way out of the Lacanian-Althusserian dogmatism that I taught myself French to read the rest of Deleuze’s books, which were untranslated at that time. I gave up my homeland and traversed the world, migrating from Sydney to Paris for the sake of going to Deleuze’s seminars. So I was understandably negatively impressed when I read Badiou’s little pamphlet.

After that I read Badiou’s little books on models and logic and the dialectic but found them uninteresting. I read THEORY OF THE SUBJECT when it came out in 1982 and was interested by his way of breaking out of the structuralist dissolution of the subject.  However, though I liked the direction the project was taking, I found it too Lacanian to my taste, and so too retrograde. A regression compared to ANTI-OEDIPUS and A THOUSAND PLATEAUS.

When I saw BEING AND EVENT in the bookshops I was thus not too well disposed, but I was curious, and I leafed through it and was immediately wildly excited. I bought it and read it through and was very impressed, but not at all in agreement with many things. It was the sheer conceptual power of the work that impressed me, and I waited impatiently for the promised sequel which came out as LOGICS OF WORLDS in 2006. So the wait was long (18 years) but I was eager to see where his project could go and how he responded to the criticisms that had been made, notably those of Lyotard. The book is very interesting, but remains caught up in a synchronic ontology, and so is still regressive compared to Deleuze and Guattari’s project.

I have been reading and working on French Continental Philosophy for a long time. I have lived in France continuously since 1981, and although I am not a philosophy teacher (as a foreigner with no contacts and no experience of the French educational system this seemed to me to be an unattainable goal) I read the major books as soon as they are published and follow the discussions as much as I can and try to keep up on publications in English as well. It is out of my engagement with these problematics and their crossing with Anglophone pluralist thinking (Feyerabend, Connolly, Pickering, Dreyfus and Kelly) that I decided to begin blogging three and a half years ago, and to try to join in the discussions. This is how I came to discover the OOO phenomenon, and I was initially very interested. However, thinking about the weak points of the doctrine and observing the lack of conceptual rigour in the responses to critiques, I was quickly disappointed, and decided to express my own critical arguments.

For me OOO has the same synchronic style of thought that I found in Badiou. It has the same universal pretentions as the other disciplines that Deleuze and Guattari cite as “state” philosophies: epistemology, psychoanalysis, linguistics, and cybernetics (not intrinsically, but in terms of the image of thought that they usually are subservient to). Deleuze states in several places that the aim of philosophy is to “strike a blow against” stupidity, or to “sadden” stupidity. But this is itself a pluralist statement, and is more descriptive of how stupidity (something which we all partake of as the synchronic, statist shadow of diachronic democratic thought) perceives philosophy.The positive affects of philosophy are wonder and joy and gratitude at the abundance of the world, which means also removing the obstacles to the perception and practice of that abundance. So pluralist joy provokes monist sadness.

My joy is in philosophising, I am no negative thinker, no satirist, I don’t do angry tirades, nor is what I write a stream of nonsense aimed at getting “hits” on my blog. My work has evolved out of a lifelong engagement, and it is full of concepts, and of arguments and analyses, of bibliographic references and allusions, of close readings and putting into context, of intuitive leaps and deductive chains. I have been doing philosophy for a very long time now, and it has determined the path and content of my life. If my detractors can’t see that, then they have no idea of where I am coming from.

I’m sorry some OOOxians find my blog full of nasty nonsense, as it is in fact an attempt to keep my philosophy side alive in difficult circumstances, pressed for time and in a milieu that does not favorise philosophical encounters and dialogue. I am not a professional philosopher, I am an English teacher in a technical college. Each year I am entrusted with six or seven weekly classes each involving two or three hours a week, with a total of a little over 200 students to teach and to correct homework and exams. My spare time is thus very limited, and I devote most of it to reading and writing for this blog. Yet a lot of liberty goes with this situation, I have no philosophical career to maintain or to aim for, and I feel free to pursue my reflections wherever they may lead me.

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2 Responses to PLURALIST JOY PROVOKES MONIST SADNESS: but that is not its aim

  1. Leon says:

    I know that I and many others appreciate the hard work you put into this blog. Know that there are plenty of those who “lurk” here but do not comment or “appear” in any measurable way. The fact that your blog serves as a “fist in the face of cronyism” is laudable, and *only* contemptible for those who have absolutely nothing to support their ideas.

    In the long run justice will prevail over the charlatans – those sleazy blog kingpins who use online thuggery to harass, intimidate, talk down to, degrade, demean, and passive-aggressively “clutch their spot.” Real *arguments* make those kind melt, and so far in response to the request for arguments they’ve only run for cover. The truth of your criticisms is telling in light of this fact. Keep at it.

    A tide seems to be turning and I feel that for them there shall be no recovery from the “blowback” produced by their online behavior over the past four years when coupled with the realization that they *have no* arguments to produce, at least not anything that would qualify their insane troll logic as “philosophy” (“philosophy” being a title none of them now choose to claim, as they’ve realized that that would be too difficult and involve too much accountability).

    The time to put up or shut up has long since past. They’ve failed miserably.

    Like

  2. terenceblake says:

    Thanks Leon, your words of encouragement are much appreciated. My aim is to get real dialogue to happen, and so both to stand up to aggression and to persist despite being ignored.

    Like

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