Dark Vitalism 2/10 – Unprethinkable Nature


/2/ – Nature-as-becoming is an un-prethinkable becoming contra Deleuze’s image of thought or by any kind of virtuality. Any sense of prethinkability must be replaced by a darkness of onto-epistemlogical indistinction.

Unprethinkable nature, in Schelling, comes from a combination of his dark absolute (famous because of Hegel’s black cows comment) and the concept of prius or firstness. My frequent connecting of Lovecraft and Schelling centers on the fact that the Prius is indicative of Schelling’s use of deep time, a concept which runs throughout is texts; from the naturephilosophie to the final works on religion and motivation. Schelling’s Ages of the World would be the obvious text to look at as he never manages to escape the past. It could also be argued that Schelling’s appeals to divinity increasingly function as an escape from the  primordial darkness even as god still remains connected to it.

Deleuze flirts with such a concept of primordial darkness (especially in the dark precursor passages of Difference and Repetition) but allows the strange conectivity within it to remain inherently graspable by thought. If thought neither carves solidity out from becoming to make being, or identity, or objects, and if thought cannot make sense of anything evolutionarily that the ground of reason becomes very shaky. This uncertainity leads to the onto-empirical indistinction mentioned above. The term bears much similarity to Schelling’s (and perhaps Hegel’s) use of  the indifference but indistinction is used as the former has connotations in english which are too apathetic. The indistinction means that the unknown is unknown as being, as a knowable fact, and in regards to how the lines between these are to be drawn. Yet, at the same time, as Dennett and OSR folks argue, our thinking gives us acess to ‘real patterns’ which can be applied in predictive. Here Nick’s post from some time ago is very helpful.

To cling to logical frames or material virtualities, gives too much to thought as thought is a process which recapitulates the processes of nature in a very narrow realm (hunks of gray matter). What work the brain can do (in altering processes of nature) is what troubles Schelling in his brief engagement with Descartes. If we drop the pretext of the self/subject (a power which still holds court in much postmodernism) then we have thought and nature undivided, a thought which is troubling and terrifying. This problem is for later points.


2 Responses to “Dark Vitalism 2/10 – Unprethinkable Nature”

  1. Maybe I’m saying this here because there are 121 comments on Nick’s post (lots of them from someone who really annoys me…). When I see references to Bergson and epistemology and early quantum conundrums I think of early 20th century vitalism. So I think I get the vibe. The Bernard-Bergson-Deleuze line is interesting…In its deep underlying strains of skepticism, irrationalism (read “anti-rationalism”), and concern with the boundaries of science. The talk of the “folk” elements of this Speculative Realism (in the comments of the above post?) make my think of Feyerabend and an anarchic understanding of the “myth” of science among other paradigms. But maybe that’s already too pragmatic for the idealism that seems to breathe through your mention of Schelling.

    Anyway, I feel a lot of sympathy for your visions.

    Looking forward to Vitalism, Vol. 3.

  2. …To cling to logical frames or material virtualities, gives too much to thought as thought is a process which recapitulates the processes of nature in a very narrow realm (hunks of gray matter).

    In agreement, well said. Reflective thought is an overworked, sickly mule, asked to perform things it can’t. Looking forward to later points and relief for the mule.

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