Thursday, 30 October 2008

Contra Affirmationism

[This is the prospectus to my book, thanks to Gilles Grelet for its original publication.
In retrospect I realise it has more of an 'accelerationist' and quasi-anarchist feel that I'd now feel comfortable with - still a record of my continuing series of errors]

[1] Theory has become hegemonised by affirmationism – the doctrine of adaptation to the world in the name of the affirmation of the world. Create! Organise! Produce! – these are the master-signifiers of the affirmationist, the blackmail to either live in this world or make a “new” world.
This world we must leave.

[2] “All that exists is good”. This is the slogan of what we could call vulgar affirmationism. It appeals, simultaneously, to the density and fragility of the world. In its density the world cannot be subtracted from but only added to or affirmed. In its fragility we must cosset the world and protect it from any hint of violence. At once we are superfluous to the world and its heroic protectors. What we are left with is the patient labour of weaving of new links, new connections, and new material. Build your networks! Extend your own empires of thought and practice!

[3] “All that comes to be is good”. This is the slogan of “critical” affirmationism. Now it is not so much the world itself that is dense and fragile but all that can be actualised in this world. We are called not to affirm the world as we find it but to affirm the construction of a new and better world. The world as it is is doubled by the reservoir of potential, of the virtual from which everything can, and must, be drawn out. A dense realm of possibility, and so fragile it must be carefully brought out by us. Build your networks and extend your counter-Empire!

[4] In its more seductive “critical” form affirmationism maintains and appeals to the signifier of revolution. This takes place in two forms. The first is that of the affirmation of becomings and flows, where all that is good exists in reserve to be actualised in movement. We release or unchain the “spontaineity” of flows, we accelerate through and beyond capital. This is the fantasy of movement, or of the “movement of movements”. The buried moment of negation secreted deep within this orientation is only that of flight.
The second is that of the affirmation of the void or event. It has at least has the merit of beginning from the necessity of some minimal negation against the density of the world, or of allowing this possibility. Of course all it can then do is to supply that void, that unleashed negativity, with its “proper” form. This is the patient work of organisation and fidelity, where heresy is only a point of departure.

[5] Since Nietzsche we have learnt to be ashamed of negation. We see it only as the sign of ressentiment or, even worse, idealism. Of course the great gesture of Hegel was to make negation function as the motor of philosophy, the motor of the fundamental and repeated scission that generates the circle of the empirical and transcendental. Out of the ashes of Hegelianism emerged the signs of catastrophic negativity. No sooner that this possibility had composed itself then it was refused through the construction of “great ontological machines” (Bataille), re-tooled as the new war-machines of counter-philosophy.

[6] The fatal irony of affirmationism is that it releases a catastrophic negativity no longer attached to ontology or philosophy. We refuse the pseudo-liberation of the great ontological machines for the liberation of “unemployed negativity” (Bataille) against and outside those machines. This is no counter-philosophy, no new move in the theoretical game, but a rupture that proceeds indifferently, which no longer requires us.

[7] The axiom that unemployed negativity proceeds without “us” is the refusal of the blackmail of practice as it is currently staged; it is the refusal to produce a humanism of negativity. Non-dialectical negativity offers no work of purification or production, nothing new that would take the form of a semblant, and nothing that would form a new subject. The “subject” of non-dialectical negativity is the sorcerer’s apprentice, who finds that negativity rebounding on their constitution as “subject”. This rebounding does not depend on the triggering of the subject – unemployed negativity is as much the effect of the supernova as it is of revolutionary violence. At no point does the subject posses negativity, but exists as the remainder of its traversal; the subject is unemployed.

[8] On the other side, the “matter” of non-dialectical negativity is the negation of the prison house of the matrix immanent-transcendental-transcendent (as well as all existing materialisms). It is “active” but not as force, or even worse “life” – which would reinscribe it in some Nietzschean affirmationism, quasi-philosophical physics, or miserable neo-vitalism. If it is anywhere unemployed negativity “beneath” philosophy; we hate most of all that it should be mistaken for the grandness of the tout Autre – another new name for a deracinated God. This is matter that does not stay in place and refuses theoretical assignment.

[9] The true heretic does not make a new church.

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