MEHDI BELHAJ KACEM AND HARMAN: nihilism and intensity

Mehdi Belhaj Kacem argues that the quest for newness which characterises modernity has led to a lowering of intensity, a generalised depression. The solution he proposes is not to replace the quest for the new with something else, which would be a contradictory gesture, still playing the same old game of the new, and yet pretending it was different (something “else” = something “new”, again)! The idea is to live in the drive to newness but change our relation to it, so as to reintensify it.

I think this sort of concern is behind Alexander Galloway’s critique of Harman’s OOP that it is a truncated Badiousian ontology: Being without the event. Any intensity in Harman’s system is uniquely at the unreal “sensual” level. This means that the deep “real” level is not intensive but rather extensive, containing “equally” real objects. Any values we may consider are sensual too, defining OOP as a form of nihilism in which all values are voided of any application to the real.

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