BERNARD STIEGLER, TRAUMATIC CONCEPTS AND THE TABULA CURATA

One thing that is inspiring about Bernard Stiegler’s philosophising is his ability to set up a contemporary conceptual framework and vocabulary which allowed him to reference and to be influenced by the philosophers of his intellectual path without following them slavishly.

Stiegler treated philosophical systems as assemblages of « force ideas » (« idées-forces » is a concept of the French philosopher Alfred Fouillée). He would take such a force idea as it occurs in another philosopher (e.g. « desire » in Deleuze) and re-think the idea as a living force.

In this way Stiegler managed to avoid both the false ideal of setting out from zero (the tabula rasa) and the untenable position of discipleship (the tabula imitata). He often referred mockingly to the « little Deleuzians » and the « little Derrideans ». Today we could add the « little Laruelleans » and the « little Zizekians », etc.

The idea behind this practice (tabula curata) is that all these interesting concepts are up for grabs, democratically, by anyone. As force ideas they are in constant circulation, and are not the property of any particular microcosm or movement.

The « little » approach is that of microcosmic possessiveness and exclusion, often based on ignorance of the fact that one’s cherished ideas come from outside and return there, all the while continuing to exist and be transformed outside one’s little bubble.

The more the bubble is closed off, the more its force ideas are de-noetised. They decline from concepts into slogans and catchphrases. Stiegler says that from traumatypes they become stereotypes. I think he is right, as there is something inherently traumatic in a concept.

If your idea force doesn’t traumatise you, if you do not ceaselessly wonder and worry, constantly asking yourself « how can this be? how can I be worthy of it? how can I give it its due?, who can help me? who can I share it with? », then it is a cliché, it is not (or no longer) a concept.

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3 commentaires pour BERNARD STIEGLER, TRAUMATIC CONCEPTS AND THE TABULA CURATA

  1. My God, Terence, that last paragraph of yours says it all.

    I’m trying to read Deleuze at the moment and finding it such hard going. One of the things I think I have understood is that Deleuze regards thinking as a form of ordeal in which one’s conceptual persona is undermined by a virtual becoming that peculates up from god knows where and cannot be assigned an origin as such. Thinking, in other words finds it’s force in an uncanny or non-assignable region prior to or beneath rationality.

    This prior is simply our life as it is lived, bracketed between birth and death and all that implies. Of course, for most thinkers, in the thick of life as it were and driven by all sorts of “ambitions”, death illness or loss is often a remote possibility existing on the edge of one’s world. But we are driven by ambition from below, and that’s a sort of deadly suffering too, despite our rationalisations.

    Aimé par 2 personnes

    • terenceblake dit :

      Yes, Deleuze is quite clear on the deadly suffering involved in thinking (but also in all creating, and thus in living). He talks about being « seized » in the grip of a more-than-human power » that fractures our organism, cracks our mind and bodies. He talks of the incalculable amount of suffering contained in a work of philosophy. It is for this reason that his exemplars of non-ego are not the smiling Buddha and the friendly neighbourhood lama but Van Gogh and Artaud.

      Aimé par 1 personne

  2. Ping : CROSS-CAPPING ZIZEK AND STIEGLER | AGENT SWARM

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