“If one may give some advice, it is better to be a floating and inspired reader, as the author must sometimes be, an undulatory reader rather than a corpuscular one. He must begin like someone diving into the water, or like someone who is already in it like Descartes, and who is anxious at getting out of his depth, acts on the flows that carry him, and becomes that transcendental swimmer the philosopher, his head both under and out of the water. He will hasten to get out of the water, like the archaic fish, Descartes again, and will support himself on solid ground on his two legs, Being and Thought, discovering that the Sky exists. Unless another destiny is still possible, that the swimmer return to the depths and experience them like that chimera that one could call the *water-fish*” (François Laruelle, Philosophie non-standard, p. 10-11, my translation).
Those who get out of the water and cling to solid ground are the disciples. They take a philosopher, for example Laruelle, who has some interesting insights and turn these insights into a fixed requirement, a boundary condition for thought. As this system is based on a loose assemblage of insights and reminders, on an open set of partial and provisional heuristic tips, it can never be complete. So the disciples will seek not only to fixate it, but to supplement it by importing external elements.
In the case of Laruelle’s non-philosophy that will mean supplementing the system by means of Marx, Freud, Althusser, Lacan, or some idiosyncratic religious haze. What the disciples cannot imagine is being an undulatory fish, and exploring the openness, the fluidity,and the multiplicity of these insights, and the secret passages between them and insights of other thinkers.
A little over two years ago I asked the question “Will non-philosophy win out over non-standard philosophy and create a new scholasticism based on a performative contradiction?” I was hoping that the answer would be no, and that non-standard philosophising would win out over the non-philosophical systematising, that the fluid fish would win out over the particulated professor. Two years later I must conclude that my fear was well-founded and that the habits of scholasticism have triumphed. I have met with the same pattern of ignoring, then condescending to, then ostracising alternative approaches with which another participant in the discussion over non-philosophy, Adrián Romero Farías, was “welcomed” by people who now wax lyrical about “pluralism” and “democracy” on every possible occasion.
Adrián Romero Farías put forward an hypothesis, that the professed opinions and values of the Laruelleans were a case of “false radicality” and that
“in the case of non-philosophy, it seems to be founded in a sort of lack of effectuation of epistemological ruptures, which is to say it only enunciates these ruptures as part of its text, but not as an ethical work of scholastic de-subjectivification, deterritorialization etc”.
This hypothesis of the continued pursuit of dogmatic and exclusive academic mores has been confirmed over and over again during the last two years, culminating, in my case, in my being banned from the official François Laruelle group and being denigrated on that page by a tribunal of Laruelleans (with no right of reply, as I was already banned).
As regards Laruelle, I think that it is no use making him a symbol of those who remain behind in the academic enclosure all the while talking about the Great Outdoors. In Laruelle’s terms, we should rather suspend his own philosophical sufficiency and treat him as material for our non-standard philosophical activity.
In Laruelle’s defence I would quote Jean-François Lyotard from the end of LIBIDINAL ECONOMY where he makes this same objection to himself (something that Deleuze did too, and that Laruelle would be well-advised to do), and refuses the dualism and the implied notion that there exists some “good place” to be, that would be superior to all the compromised or recuperated intensities. Lyotard’s conclusion is that there is no right place to be, and that there is only being open to the intensities that we encounter in us and around us, and refining ourselves to become ever better as conductors of intensities (and I would add to become ever more open to dialogue and to the free exchange of intensities). This would correspond to non-standard philosophy winning out over non-philosophy.
Without judging on the empirical question of persons, I think it is useful to examine two questions:
(1) Academicism: when academic philosophers think they are making the leap into immanence (remembering Deleuze’s expression of “making the movement” as opposed to staying immobilised in reflection) are they necessarily deluding themselves or is this, as Deleuze and Guattari suggest, a real possibility. Is a critical and temporalising and democratic approach enough to make the leap?
(2) Anti-academicism: when non-academic thinkers consider that they have made the leap, are they being over-confident in their intensities, or are they in fact expressing and incarnating an important part of the immanental process?