Speculative Realist Nature Philosophy and Dark Phenomenology


Complete Lies further elaborates the Grantian faction of Speculative Realism which leans towards vitalism and Deleuze (in Harman’s definition).  A cold vitalism and a spectral vitalism are both noted and, while I may fall in the former I might be more tempted to go with emanationist in the sense of Plotinus (if the religiosity and idealism can be evacuated).

I think the distinction lies with one’s articulation of immanence and, in particular, the degree to which that immanence requires forms of non-being.  That is, expression for Deleuze seems somewhat related to a folding or a shift of material or matter whereas emanationism is more suggestive of a leaking or ongoing consequence of an original event (in the cosmic sense not in a Deleuzian or Badiouian sense).    However, the non-being of the virtual may require more examination particularly through DeLanda’s Virtual Philosophy.  In my case, the Laruellian One (as name of the Real) gives way to the originary immanence – the cosmological cascade which becomes various forms of matter which participate in the propagation of forms and powers.

To relate to Alex’s excellent comments as well as Michael’s addendum, the nihilist existentialism (or perhaps dark phenomenology) suggested by a cold vitalism is the conceptual collision of our subjectivities and the heartless momentum of the universe.  That is, given an elminativism taken to the gates of negentropy – how are we to live?

For me, this implies a Ligottiesque or Lovecraftian view that does not deny the awful truth of scientific ramifications but takes on the phenomenological world as a macabre carnivale – where our limited mammalian eyes spare us from a reality of ‘meat-nonsense’ and awful vaporizations – of living in the painted world of Francis Bacon.

As Nick suggested in an appropriately gray-skied saunter through the Bowery, this may be what Brassier’s articulation of Michel Henry is setting after.  Fields of non-rabbits and senseless clown puppets.

6 Responses to “Speculative Realist Nature Philosophy and Dark Phenomenology”

  1. Really good post Ben– asking the key question for post-Speculative Realist thought: Given the cold-vitalist “meat-world” unveiled by eliminativism, how to live? To live “as-if” the pre-elimination world were still real, but acknowledging intellectually that all phenomena are epiphenomenal, (as I have intimated Levi of doing, to a greater or lesser extent…) or live in accord with the intellect, with the concomitant erasure of personal agency, self-hood, the intrinsic power of norms etc (even unto the death of time)… this would be a nihilist existentialism without the power of consciousness to break through the in-itself, to intervene, and without such categories as authenticity to guide human activity. But it is also a radical (perhaps from our current standpoint properly unbelievable) freedom, in the end of ethics tout court. This freedom may well translate as paralysis to many, what is crucial is to articulate it as a precise diametric opposite: as a profound activation- that the problem with Ligotti is that he remains a writer of horror, and that a residually pathic dimension remains at the core of the libidinal functionality of his work… once this dimension is PROPERLY overthrown, then the results of cold vitalism, or eliminativism more generally, are voided of their horrific portent (the problem with the Collapse issue on “Concept Horror” being that eliminativism, once it fully inhabits the human realm and re-orders our culture, need not be horrific in the slightest- moreover it is the hypocrisy of living as if the epiphenomenal were true that is the deepest horror of all…)

  2. 2 battleofthegiants

    If a foolish man looks at the finger, the Hysteric asks “why are you telling me to look at the moon?”…

    A fool tells it like it is: “I want what you want; I want your desire; the moon is plain to see, but your finger hides something.”

    And, like the old man in Brecht’s ‘days of the commune’, the pointer doesn’t want the other to look so much at the moon, but themselves: Why pay a dime to see a balloon in the sky that you can easily see for free? Why look where I tell you to look? The answer given is (more or less) ‘because you wanted a dime, so I gave you one’.

    In the end, then, it’s not only the fool that should look at the finger, but the pointer who should look at the finger. Rather than focusing on the moon (desire) one must focus on one’s relation to it (drive).

    Where does that quote come from, anyway?

  3. 3 Don'tForget


  4. 4 meilin

    The idea of not mistaking the finger for the moon comes from the sixth patriarch of Chinese Buddhism, Hui Neng. Speaking of Chinese thought, given your interest in vitalism, immanence and non-being, I’d suggest a look into Chinese philosophy where all three figure prominently.

  1. 1 post-speculative realism « Object-Oriented Philosophy
  2. 2 Transcendental Dynamism/Dark Vitalism « Naught Thought

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