Albert Camus Reads Richard Morgan: Unsaid Existential Absurdism…(Abstract/Blurb)

For the upcoming conference on “The Intellectual Geography of Albert Camus” on the 3rd of May, 2019, at the Alliance Française, New Delhi. Watch this space..

Imagine the real world extending into the fictive milieu, or its mirror image, the fictive world territorializing the real leaving it to portend such an intercourse consequent to an existential angst. Such an imagination now moves along the coordinates of hyperreality, where it collaterally damages meaning in a violent burst of EX/IM-plosion. This violent burst disturbs the idealized truth overridden by a hallucinogenic madness prompting iniquities calibrated for an unpleasant future. This invading dissonant realism slithers through the science fiction of Richard Morgan before it culminates in human characteristics of expediency. Such expediencies abhor fixation to being in the world built on deluded principles, which in my reading is Camus’ recommendation of confrontation with the absurd. This paper attempts to unravel the hyperreal as congruent on the absurd in a fictitious landscape of “existentialism meets the intensity of a relatable yet cold future”. 


What I purport to do in this paper is pick up two sci-fi works of Richard Morgan, the first of which also happens to be the first of the Takeshi Kovacs Trilogy, Altered Carbon, while the second is Market Forces,  a brutal journey into the heart of conflict investment by way of conscience elimination. Thereafter a conflation with Camus’ absurdity unravels the very paradoxical ambiguity underlying absurdism as a human condition. The paradoxical ambiguity is as a result of Camus’ ambivalence towards the neo-Platonist conception of the ultimate unifying principle, while accepting Plotinus’ principled pattern or steganography, but rejecting its culmination. 

Richard Morgan’s is a parody, a commentary, or even en epic fantasy overcharged almost to the point of absurdity and bordering extropianism. If at all there is a semblance of optimism in the future as a result of Moore’s Law of dense hardware realizable through computational extravagance, it is spectacularly offset by complexities of software codes resulting in a disconnect that Morgan brilliantly transposes on to a society in a dystopian ethic underlining his plot pattern recognitions. This offsetting disconnect between the physical and mental, between the tangible and the intangible is the existential angst writ large on the societal maneuvered by the powers that be… be continued

Post-Foundationalism Versus Anti-Foundationalism. Thought of the Day 58.0


In the words of Judith Butler,

the point is not to do away with foundations, or even to champion a position which goes under the name of antifoundationalism: Both of these positions belong together as different versions of foundationalism and the sceptical problematic it engenders. Rather, the task is to interrogate what the theoretical move that establishes foundations authorizes, and what precisely it excludes or forecloses.

The notion of contingent foundations, proposed by Butler as an alternative framing, could best be described as an ontological weakening of the status of foundation without doing away with foundations entirely. It is on its account, that what came to be called post-foundationalism should not be confused with anti-foundationalism. What distinguishes the former from the latter is that it does not assume the absence of any ground; what it assumes is the absence of an ultimate ground, since it is only on the basis of such absence that grounds, in the plural, are possible. The problem is therefore posed not in terms of no foundations (the logic of all- or -nothing), but in terms of contingent foundations. Hence, post-foundationalism does not stop after having assumed the absence of a final ground and so it does not turn into anti-foundationalist nihilism, existentialism or pluralism, all of which would assume the absence of any ground and would result in complete meaninglessness, absolute freedom or total autonomy. Nor does it turn into a sort of post-modern pluralism for which all meta-narratives have equally melted into air, for what is still accepted by post-foundationalism is the necessity for some grounds.

What becomes problematic as a result is not the existence of foundations (in the plural) but their ontological status – which is seen now as necessarily contingent. This shift in the analysis from the ‘actually existing’ foundations to their status – that is to say, to their conditions of possibility – can be described as a quasi-transcendental move. Although implicitly present in Spivak’s notion of a ‘perpetually rehearsed critique’ as well as in Butler’s notion of ‘interrogation’, this quasi-transcendental turn is made explicit by Ernesto Laclau who, starting from the post-foundational premise that ‘the crisis of essentialist universalism as a self-asserted ground has led our attention to the contingent grounds (in the plural) of its emergence and to the complex process of construction’, comes to the conclusion that ‘[t]his operation is, sensu stricto, transcendental: it involves a retreat from an object to its conditions of possibility’.

Absurdity. Drunken Risibility


I feel that absurdity is not just a human condition but ineluctable and if i deviate from this thought I would just be exhibiting presumptuousness. The thought in here might be lacking brevity, but what is requested is a brickbat. I surely think that it ain’t a bumf. I would like to expatiate on the topic of absurdity; it might be sardonic on myself and at times these collection of phrases might be depicting platitude; for if they fail in their motives; they remain uncanny. Its not a motley; as a matter of fact it isn’t variegated also, due care has been taken not to smudge it; but the thought finds its essence in writing lest it should smother my thoughts and will not remain ethereal. After this prolegomenon, the absurdity is:

1) absurdity is a human condition.

2) culturally i’m an outsider, but would cease to be one and want to be balanced; would like to understand the human soul and escape from triviality, and to do this I need to know how to express myself, for it is the means by which i can know myself and the possibilities awaiting me.

3) destiny is all we want to escape but cannot, and since all our actions are directed against the inevitable they are absurd; because we sense this absurdity, we feel anguished.

4) on god, he is not merely dead, but along with him, even man is dead; standing alone under the empty heaven with no scope of remedy.

5) each man must come to his own personal vision of life, and it is not a particularly happy destiny is suffering and death; which he can defeat by affirming human dignity and participating in a sense of brotherhood with other men (sorry for the theosophical inputs!)

6) like the Tolstoy of “the death of Ivan Ilyich”, the hero can preserve his honesty by continuously fighting death and trying to forget its existence.

p.s. this could be because of my flirting with the surrealist movement in the last century and a complete break with the enlightenment and the romanticism so often in the limelight in the classical philosophy. To conclude I  would like to point out three things as prolegomenon: this will give you an insight into the twilight zone of absurdity:

the poet Cavafy who says:

you won’t find a new country, you won’t find a new shore..there is no ship for you, there is no road, as you have wastd your life here, in this small corner, you have destroyed it everywhere else in the world.

Samuel Beckett, in his often qouted phrase: nothing is more real than nothing.

The 4th century bc Sicilian rhetorician, Gorgias of Lentini:

nothing has any real existence, and that if anything real did exist it could not be known, and that if anything were to exist and be known it could not be expressed in speech.

7) man is seen more clearly as having, if he is honest, no purpose. although he can and does get trapped in fixed ideas about himself and the world which reify him rather than being a Being, he finds the over abundance of things, which limits freedom, nauseating and recognizes that just as habits conceal his attitudes, so, language too has become a dead thing, limiting communication and emphasizing hs solitude. He can no longer think that he has a nature proper to himself; he is simply the sum of his actions, each of which is a delibrate choice in a given situation.

8) existentialists have concluded that self is nothingness which could only ‘become’ through acts and words; scientists have suggested that all acts are meaningless, and philologists have shown that language, too, is arbitrary and meaningless as a means to knowing reality.

9) don’t we think that life as a mechanical quality and has a sense of loss of mystery, the loneliness of individuals and their difficulties in communicating in a language also deadened by habit….