Darkening Life/Notes on Henry
Michel Henry’s construction of a purely affective process phenomenology holds wonderful fodder for non-anthropic darkening and spatio-temporal softening. Whereas Henry seems to see the world as pure affectivity with distinc layers and hiearchies (which, unfortuneatly is somehow anchored in divinity) what is philosophically troubling is his assumption of positivity, his attacks on science and his denial of anything worldly or non-affective. That is, Henry’s philosophy is appealing if it is configured as a way of thinking the sensorially engaged human subject (maybe any subject) without, from such a phenomenologically engaged point, deciding ontological worth.
The biggest sign of this is Henry’s conceptualization of Life as a pure sensorium, as a kind of lived invisibility, traversed with the help of the power of subjectivity. In this sense, nature becomes a distant caricature and the epistemlogical seems worn down to mere perception. Furthermore, Henry’s phenomenological life seems rooted in an unjustified positivity and all occult (non-sensed or felt) thinking (if it is still thinking) becomes dark and horrible, the failures of too much weight placed on intentionality and on other externalities. As Henry writes:
“The dereliction of existence surrendered to the world, the dehiscence of the present of the present worn away by a nothingness, the ‘I am not what I am,’ all this pseudo-pathos would not have been prematurely aged if it expressed something other than the old reign of exteriority, if it knew how to find the path which leads to life” (What is Mean by the Word Life?, p. 6).
Yet instead of complexifying the interior/exterior relation Henry seems to spread the interior over the exterior, laughing at the scientist who would ask a microbe about life as if we did not live. The exterior becomes the visible world, all time and space is affectively integrated, thinking and feeling are actualized as the death of all actuality as such – “nothing will be found in exteriority (What is Meant, p. 11).
Furthermore, what is the justification of Henry’s positivity and his attacks upon science and the importance of meaning? Henry writes: “The great malaise suffusing the world will not be dissipated by a progress of scientific knowledge.” If we assert a force (in a Schellingian sense) or an X (in the Laruelleian sense) outside of the affective cloud we are trapped in (as the immersion in the living force, in the ceasless happening) then the horizon of sense and affect becomes troubling.
In the same vein, and following Henry’s treatment of Condillac, the body becomes a site of impressions without throughly knowable sources. With the X creeping outside the border of quotidian epistemlogical limits – the body becomes the possibility of horrors, monstrousities or other torsions. As Ligotti writes in My Work is Not Yet Done:
“I could feel how intimately that body – in both its physical and metaphysical aspects – was connected to that now familiar darkness, that sinister presence…a presence that might well have been named The Great Black Swine – a grunting, bestial foce that animated, used our bodiees to frolic in whatever mucky thing came its way, lasciviously agitating itselt in that black river in which the human species only bobbed about like hunks of excrement.”
Filed under: ligotti, nature, ontology, Schelling, Speculative Realism | 8 Comments