ACADEMIC TRAUMA OR NOETIC DREAM: on the vicissitudes of dialogue

Readers may see my blog as just more froth in the prevailing sea of philo-babble, but my goal is more democratic (and more pedagogical), and I have made quite a few enemies in trying to de-esotericise the philosophies I discuss.

The almost universal form that this enmity takes is that of ignoring my very existence, of refusing to acknowledge my work or to cite me. This has nothing to do with my use of the blog form, as the same authors occasionally cite blog posts favourable to their cause.

One notable exception is Babette Babich () who has referenced me in several papers, for my clarifications and contributions. This referencement is in part to highlight and in part to compensate my non-referencement by others who constantly pay lip service to pluralism, openness, and democracy.

Publicity, not dialogue, is their aim. Laziness, not openness, is their method. Tautological self-validation is their pay-off.

These people transpose the power structures of the university to discussion on the web. They seem to be unaware that academics talk of dialogue, its openness and pluralism in order to prevent it from happening. Dialogue would be too traumatic for them, and their careers are based on avoiding it, or repressing it.

In the neo-liberal university there is only one dialogue that counts in the last instance (to cite a cynical expression of the Laruelleans). Money talks to money, and deals are made on that basis.

Power, the power to make and to do, to think and to express oneself, does not count, and is actively discouraged. Anyone who has been to university has witnessed this obscene underside (to talk like Zizek) and its symbolic violence at work, and seen its casualties.

Popper told us that confirming instances prove nothing, yet academics feel content when students agree with them. When I was an undergraduate Alan Chalmers used to beg me to attend his lectures because everyone agreed with him, and he found that stifling. He was already an exception, along with George Molnar and a few others, and such love of wisdom is even rarer today.

Philosophy is not the creation of concepts. Deleuze, who espoused that idea, knew it was false. Concepts are simply the by-product of something more fundamental. Philosophy is dialogue unbound.

The internet makes this dialogue more possible at the same time as the fragilisation of the status of the academic makes it less likely.

This is a highly contradictory situation. Every day I ask myself whether my contributions are worth the effort. Today the answer is yes.

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9 Responses to ACADEMIC TRAUMA OR NOETIC DREAM: on the vicissitudes of dialogue

  1. landzek says:

    Yes they are. You are.
    But people are just dumb. Lol

    My solution to this right now is to write books. And not share many of my ideas online. I hate the internet anyways. Lol.
    Our world of mass media is not helping knowledge, it is consolidating catholic dogma. What knowledge is consosiderd. ‘Valid’ knowledge.
    I know your are a professor and involved in writing more academic papers and such, it seems a sign of our times . People do not feel obligated to give credit where it is due. Maybe be cuase of a certain internet feeling of anonymity . Idk. . It gotta be even more frustrating in your position.

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    • terenceblake says:

      I think your solution of writing books is a good one, and sometimes I think I should do that. However, I dream of a freer and more fluid dialogue than books can give, so I continue to blog for now.

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  2. dmf says:

    sometimes you just seem to get into something like repetition-compulsions that go over and over the same ground (and often hurts) with no real end or purpose in sight, and the occasional flight of grandiosity
    “Dialogue would be too traumatic for them, and their careers are based on avoiding it, or repressing it”
    but those quirks aside when you get on track it’s worth keep tabs, why not try the Deleuzish approach of getting on board with people’s’ lines of thought/flight as long as they serve yer own momentum and get off (knowing they are not going to join you, what is someone like Harman supposed to do when you accuse him of being a clueless/baseless, narcissistic, hack?) when they don’t, just a thought.

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    • terenceblake says:

      What you call grandiosity is the simple truth, and this idea of dialogue as trauma is not original with me, it can be found in Deleuze, Zizek, Stiegler, etc. Thinking means turning repetitively in a spiral around one’s own traumas to extract new impulses and new ideas from them. Our conceptual territories are constructed with ritornellos, as Deleuze confirms. The whole point of the post is that the “Deleuzian” notion of just going off on a line of flight to create your concepts is only a superficial reading of Deleuze, call it “bright Deleuze”, if it ignores the underlying dialogue woven with sympathies and antipathies. Harman is the least of my worries, he served at the beginning as an ideal type to get a handle on the de-concepting of philosophy that I have diagnosed as a rampant disease. People read without seeing the problematics, they see ideas – mostly familiar ones, with a few vaguely unfamiliar ones. Then when they write, they produce the sort of thing that they have read, or think they have read.

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      • dmf says:

        you assume that they are threatened by the critiques which assumes that they have taken them in/on and that they are threatened by them, not much evidence for either as far as I can see.
        Whatever moves you I suppose…

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      • terenceblake says:

        As I explained above my preoccupation is dialogue, not critique. I am certainly not against critique, as anyone can see, but it is only an emphatic foregrounding of conceptual difference. I do not give the slightest damn about particular people, but I use them as figurations of particular mind-sets (and life-sets). For example, I want there to be a fundamental discussion over points raised by Laruelle, Zizek, and Latour. Whether Laruelle himself, or his disciples, or Zizek, etc. participate in such a dialogue is only of secondary concern. My whole argument is that particular people do not take in critiques nor are they threatened by them. But this is not a point against critique, only a shortcoming of their mind-set and habitual practice. It is the same people who are “anti-critique”, because it suits their lifestyle quite well. The rejection of criticism is a bright Deleuzean ploy (I use “bright Deleuze” here as an emblem for what has been called the new spirit of capitalism, a synthesis of neo-liberal practice and hedonist subjectivity). Deleuze himself, the real Deleuze, was a master of critique. He wrote a whole book with Guattari, ANTI-OEDIPUS, critiquing psychoanalysis. Even Deleuze and Guattari were unable to open a dialogue with the Lacanians because Lacan himself gave the order not to discuss the book, to kill it with silence. So the desired dialogue did not happen, but other dialogues did, and the book was quite influential, and it opened up a new phase, a twenty-year period of creative collaboration.

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  3. skholiast says:

    “Dialogue unbound” — very good. But what ‘binds’ it under usual circumstances?

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    • terenceblake says:

      What binds it, in a word, is de-noetisation: treating ideas as dogma or marketised commodities, or tokens of membership, as anything but concepts that provoke us to think and to share our thoughts in words or acts.

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  4. Vassilis Kollias says:

    They are. However some times the work of a person has consequences that mature in the very slow mode.

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