Nihilism Now! Monsters of Energy by Keith Ansell Pearson and Diane Morgan

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Blurb: Have we had enough? But enough of what exactly? Of our mourning and melancholia? Of postmodern narcissism? Of our depressive illness and anxieties of not ‘being there’ any longer? Enough of enough! We now ask: what of the future of the human and of the future of the future? Is it now possible to produce revitalised ways of thinking and modes of existing that have digested the demand for transhuman overcomings and so are able to navi- gate new horizons of virtual becoming? Is it possible to save thought from its current degenerative and vegetative state at the hands of a smug and cosy postmodern academicism? Can we still invent new concepts?

If one follows certain influential contemporary accounts, it would appear as if the experience and question of nihilism have become passé. Is not the urgency informing the question of the `now’ of nihilism redundant and otiose? For Jean Baudrillard, for example, there is now only the simulation of a realised nihilism and little remains of a possible nihilism (a nihilism of the possible) in theory. In relation to previous forms of nihilism ± romanticism, surrealism and dadaism ± we find ourselves in an ‘insoluble position’. Our nihilism today is neither aesthetic nor political. The apocalypse is over, its time has gone and lies behind us:

The apocalypse is finished, today it is the precession of the neutral, of the forms of the neutral and of indifference. (Baudrillard)

Baudrillard goes on to make the claim, terrifying in its full import, that all that remains is a ‘fascination’ for these indifferent forms and for the operation of the system that annihilates us.

Surely, Baudrillard is being ironic when he claims that this mode of nihilism is our current ‘passion’? How can one be passionate about indifference and one’s own annihilation? As Baudrillard acknowledges, this is the nihilism of the observer and accepter. It is the nihilism of the passive nihilist who no longer aspires towards a transcendence or overcoming of the human (condition), but who simply announces and enjoys its disappearance, the spectator watching the spectacle of his own demise. History, politics, metaphysics, have all reached their terminal point, and willing nothingness appears to be the only desire of the will available to the post-modern mind:

The dialectic stage, the critical stage is empty. There is no more stage . . . The masses themselves are caught up in a gigantic process of inertia through acceleration. They are this excrescent, devouring, process that annihilates all growth and all surplus meaning. They are this circuit short- circuited by a monstrous finality. (Baudrillard)

Diane Morgan and Keith Ansell Pearson Nihilism Now Monsters of Energy

Organic and the Orgiastic. Cartography of Ground and Groundlessness in Deleuze and Heidegger. Thought of the Day 43.0

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In his last hermeneutical Erörterung of Leibniz, The Principle of Ground, Heidegger traces back metaphysics to its epochal destiny in the twofold or duplicity (Zwiefalt) of Being and Thought and thus follows the ground in its self-ungrounding (zugrundegehen). Since the foundation of thought is also the foundation of Being, reason and ground are not equal but belong together (zusammenhören) in the Same as the ungrounded yet historical horizon of the metaphysical destiny of Being: On the one hand we say: Being and ground: the Same. On the other hand we say: Being: the abyss (Ab-Grund). What is important is to think the univocity (Einsinnigkeit) of both Sätze, those Sätze that are no longer Sätze. In Difference and Repetition, similarly, Deleuze tells us that sufficient reason is twisted into the groundless. He confirms that the Fold (Pli) is the differenciator of difference engulfed in groundlessness, always folding, unfolding, refolding: to ground is always to bend, to curve and recurve. He thus concludes:

Sufficient reason or ground is strangely bent: on the one hand, it leans towards what it grounds, towards the forms of representation; on the other hand, it turns and plunges into a groundless beyond the ground which resists all forms and cannot be represented.

Despite the fundamental similarity of their conclusions, however, our short overview of Deleuze’s transformation of the Principle of Sufficient Reason has already indicated that his argumentation is very different from Heideggerian hermeneutics. To ground, Deleuze agrees, is always to ground representation. But we should distinguish between two kinds of representation: organic or finite representation and orgiastic or infinite representation. What unites the classicisms of Kant, Descartes and Aristotle is that representation retains organic form as its principle and the finite as its element. Here the logical principle of identity always precedes ontology, such that the ground as element of difference remains undetermined and in itself. It is only with Hegel and Leibniz that representation discovers the ground as its principle and the infinite as its element. It is precisely the Principle of Sufficient Reason that enables thought to determine difference in itself. The ground is like a single and unique total moment, simultaneously the moment of the evanescence and production of difference, of disappearance and appearance. What the attempts at rendering representation infinite reveal, therefore, is that the ground has not only an Apollinian, orderly side, but also a hidden Dionysian, orgiastic side. Representation discovers within itself the limits of the organized; tumult, restlessness and passion underneath apparent calm. It rediscovers monstrosity.

The question then is how to evaluate this ambiguity that is essential to the ground. For Heidegger, the Zwiefalt is either naively interpreted from the perspective of its concave side, following the path of the history of Western thought as the belonging together of Being and thought in a common ground; or it is meditated from its convex side, excavating it from the history of the forgetting of Being the decline of the Fold (Wegfall der Zwiefalt, Vorenthalt der Zwiefalt) as the pivotal point of the Open in its unfolding and following the path that leads from the ground to the abyss. Instead of this all or nothing approach, Deleuze takes up the question in a Nietzschean, i.e. genealogical fashion. The attempt to represent difference in itself cannot be disconnected from its malediction, i.e. the moral representation of groundlessness as a completely undifferentiated abyss. As Bergson already observed, representational reason poses the problem of the ground in terms of the alternative between order and chaos. This goes in particular for the kind of representational reason that seeks to represent the irrepresentable: Representation, especially when it becomes infinite, is imbued with a presentiment of groundlessness. Because it has become infinite in order to include difference within itself, however, it represents groundlessness as a completely undifferentiated abyss, a universal lack of difference, an indifferent black nothingness. Indeed, if Deleuze is so hostile to Hegel, it is because the latter embodies like no other the ultimate illusion inseparable from the Principle of Sufficient Reason insofar as it grounds representation, namely that groundlessness should lack differences, when in fact it swarms with them.

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Spirit is Matter on the Seventh Plane; Matter is Spirit – on the Lowest Point of its Cyclic Activity; and Both — are MAYA. Note Quote.

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In the 1930s the scientist Sir James Jeans wrote:

the tendency of modem physics is to resolve the whole material universe into waves, and nothing but waves. These waves are of two kinds: bottled-up waves, which we call matter, and unbottled waves, which we call radiation or light. If annihilation of matter occurs, the process is merely that of unbottling imprisoned wave-energy and setting it free to travel through space. These concepts reduce the whole universe to a world of light, potential or existent . . . . — The Mysterious Universe

The idea of matter being crystallized light echoes what H. P. Blavatsky wrote half a century earlier in The Secret Doctrine, where she speaks of “that infinite Ocean of Light, whose one pole is pure Spirit lost in the absoluteness of Non-Being, and the other, the matter in which it condenses, crystallizing into a more and more gross type as it descends into manifestation” (The Secret Doctrine). Material particles, she said, were infinitely divisible centers of force, and matter could therefore exist in infinitely varying degrees of density. Our physical senses have been evolved to perceive only one particular plane of matter, which is interpenetrated by countless other worlds or planes invisible to us because composed of ranges of energy-substance both finer and grosser than our own.

Modern science has analyzed matter down to the point where it vanishes into wisps of energy. Energy is said to be a measure of motion or activity. But motion of what? It is a truism that there can be no motion without something that moves. Scientists in the last century believed that wave-motion took place in a universal medium called the ether. This hypothesis was abandoned because the ether proved to be chemically and physically undetectable, and science was left with the unlikely idea that waves are transmitted through “empty space.”

Modern physicists believe that underlying the material world there is a quantum field, also called the quantum void or vacuum. The quantum field is said to be “a continuous medium which is present everywhere in space” (The Tao of Physics) and matter is said to be constituted by regions of space in which the field is extremely intense. Scientists assert that the quantum field is non-material, but deny that it is mere nothingness. Paul Davies states that the quantum void is not inert and featureless but throbbing with energy and vitality, a seething ferment of “Virtual” particles and “ghost” particles. (Superforce) It therefore seems to be actually a form of ether, which is non-material only in the sense that it is not composed of physical matter. Rather than material particles being “knots of nothingness,” as Davies calls them, they may therefore be seen as vibrations in an etheric medium composed of a subtler, superphysical grade of substance. The same reasoning applies to all the other “non-material” fields and forces postulated by science.

Everything is relative. Physical matter is condensed energy, but what for us is energy would be matter for beings on a higher plane than ours, as is suggested by the fact that energy does not exist in a continuous flow but is composed of discrete units or quanta. Likewise, the energy on the next plane would be matter to an even higher plane. The loftiest form of energy in any particular hierarchy of worlds is what we call spirit or consciousness. As H. P. Blavatsky put it: “Spirit is matter on the seventh plane; matter is Spirit – on the lowest point of its cyclic activity; and both — are MAYA.” (The Secret Doctrine). To say that spirit and matter are “maya” or illusion does not mean that they do not exist, but that we do not understand them as they really are. Any particular plane of energy-substance can be understood only with reference to superior, causal planes. Everything — from atom to human, from star to universe — is the expression of something higher.

Throughout the ages, sages and seers have suggested that hidden within the phenomenal world in which we live there are inner worlds of reality — astral, mental, and spiritual — and that the physical world is but a pale shadow of the spiritual world. These inner worlds cannot be investigated with physical instruments, but only by delving into the depths of our own minds and consciousness, and this requires many lives of self-purification and self-conquest. Scientists using only materialistic methods are in no position to deny point-blank the possibility of such higher planes.

Most scientists, in fact, now believe that some 90% of the matter in the universe exists in a state unknown to them; it is called “dark matter” because it is physically unobservable, and its existence is known of only by its gravitational effects. Such matter is suggestive of the higher subplanes and planes postulated by theosophy, which are composed of matter of increasingly slower rates of vibration and are therefore beyond our range of perception. Given scientists’ confessed ignorance of most of the matter in the universe and their inability to explain satisfactorily the evolution of life and consciousness and the “laws of nature” along materialistic lines, any suggestion that they are on the verge of discovering the innermost secrets of nature or of reducing the mystery of existence to a single equation is premature to say the least!

In theosophical philosophy, the physical universe is regarded as no more than a cross section through infinitude. Universal nature is composed of worlds within worlds within worlds, filled full of conscious, living beings at infinitely varying stages of their evolutionary awakenment. Our finite minds cannot embrace the infinite. As G. de Purucker says in his Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy, we can do no more than to try and form a simple conception of the Boundless All: never-ending life and consciousness in unceasing motion everywhere. The ancients, he says, were never so foolish as to try to fathom infinitude. They recognized the reality of being and let it go at that, knowing that an ever-expanding consciousness and an ever-growing understanding of existence is all that we can ever attain to during our eternal evolutionary journey through the fields of infinitude.

A Theosophist Reading of Spinoza and Bohm. For Whom the Bell Tolls.

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To Spinoza mind and matter were parallel attributes of God or Substance, the great essence of the universe sometimes called in theosophical literature Svabhavat, primordial nature, mind-substance. Svabhavat (from the Sanskrit sva, “self” and bhu, “to become”) means self-becoming. Nothing can exist other than as an emanation from this primordial nature’s eternal action. Nothing, said Spinoza, can exist except this Substance and the unfolding of its attributes. This being so, “creation” had no beginning and will have no end; all things come forth from the Boundless and will therefore continue forever — theosophical ideas found also in Neoplatonism and Gnosticism.

With Spinoza we find emphasis on the essential unity and continuity of all existence, while Pythagoras, Plato, and Leibniz distinguish countless monads in it, centers of activity in every conceivable grade of self-expression. Combining the monad theory with Spinoza’s philosophy, a worldview emerges remarkably in accord with ideas from the Upanishads, Vedanta, Buddhism, and many a thinker from ancient Greece. We find corresponding ideas in the writings of theoretical physicist David Bohm, who also believed that the distinction between animate and inanimate nature is arbitrary, of use in some contexts but ultimately incorrect. He came to the conclusion that, far from being empty, space is an immense ocean of energy, and matter no more than a superficial ripple on that ocean. Everything lies concealed in an “implicate order” and comes forth from it. To illustrate this idea Bohm used the following experiment: the outer of two concentric cylinders is filled with a viscous fluid, such as glycerin, into which is placed a drop of insoluble ink. When the outer cylinder is rotated very slowly, the ink drop threads out, growing thinner and thinner, and eventually becomes invisible. The dye molecules become distributed among the molecules of the liquid as a grey shade. Rotating the cylinder in the opposite direction yields a surprising result: slender threads appear, growing thicker and thicker until, suddenly, the globule of ink is seen once more. This suggests that out of the “holomovement” of the ocean of energy comes forth the known universe with all that is in it.

From the “reality of the first order,” or implicate order, issues the explicate order, the world of forms and living things. In this “reality of the second order” these things have a relatively separate existence, as the Gulf Stream and other currents have a relatively separate existence within the Atlantic Ocean. From atoms to galaxies, all the phenomena of nature emerge from the ocean of the implicate order, make their appearance as “relatively autonomous subtotals,” and at the same time are linked with everything else.

Bohm regarded the universe as an undivided whole, a continuously ongoing process whose “ultimate ground of being is entirely unutterable, entirely implicit.” Space is not a nothingness but is in essence this ultimate ground of being. He employed the image of a crystal through which at absolute zero, according to quantum theory, electrons would pass as if it were empty space. The crystal would then be perfectly homogeneous and would seem nonexistent for the electrons, as space seems nonexistent for us. But when the temperature is raised, inhomogeneities appear, scattering the electrons. If one were to focus the electrons with an electron lens to make a picture of the crystal, it “would then appear that the inhomogeneities exist independently and that the main body of the crystal was sheer nothingness”. Like the school of Parmenides and Zeno in ancient Greece, Bohm regarded space as a plenum, utter fullness, the ground or substratum of all that exists. The matter that we sense is, like flaws in the crystal, inhomogeneities in space, which is the unity that includes both matter and consciousness.

Another physicist whose work endorsed the interconnectedness of things was John S. Bell. Two particles moving away from each other at the speed of light were thought to have lost contact forever, since no signal from one could overtake and influence the other. In 1964 Bell proposed his theory that particles like these do influence each other all the same and therefore, somehow, never lose contact. The theory was experimentally confirmed for the first time in 1972. Science seems to be overstepping its own boundaries, penetrating a realm where mystics have been long before. Not surprisingly modern thinkers are taking note of ancient ideas with amazement and admiration.

When H. P. Blavatsky published The Secret Doctrine in 1888, she stated that the ideas it contained were neither her own nor new. She sketched in bold strokes once again the existence of infinite Space, ground of countless universes, populated and ensouled by numberless monads: not as unconnected, separate things, but as differentiations within the whole. She spoke of “The fundamental identity of all Souls with the Universal Over-Soul,” and gave a vertiginous panorama of the evolutionary track, not of bodies, forms, but of centers of consciousness, monads, from their differentiation within the Oversoul to their grand consummatum est, the attainment of fully self-conscious realization of cosmic consciousness at the end of the world period. A work like The Secret Doctrine could not fail to cause a commotion in those days; recent developments have paved the way for us better to appreciate these thoughts and subscribe to the fundamental unity of man and universe.

The human mind is not extraneous to the mind of the universe. In fact, nothing is conceivable apart from the fundamental space-energy-mind to which the ancient Vedic poet would not give a name. Names indicate qualities, and so imply limitations because every quality excludes its opposite. So the Vedic sage spoke simply of tat, That. In the subtle logic of Buddhist thinking, the absolute fullness of space is called sunyata, emptiness: all that exists is as ripples in this boundless ocean which cannot be said to have this or that form, and which in that sense is “empty.” With their plenum or pleroma the Gnostics and other ancient Mediterranean thinkers emphasized its “fullness,” which comprises all worlds, our visible as well as numerous invisible ones. These worlds may be symbolized as rungs on the unending “ladder of being.” Whether the inhabitants of realms higher than ours are called aeons, angelic orders, or dhyani-buddhas makes no difference. The world is the interaction of a variety of monads, but not all monads necessarily express themselves on the physical level. Although in essence all monads are aspects of the ultimate ground of being, in their forms of manifestation they are infinitely varied. In their totality they constitute nature, the Jacob’s ladder of evolving beings, conjointly weaving the fabric of visible and invisible worlds, the multiplicity of “parallel universes” modern thinkers are beginning to surmise.

Empty Geometry : Absolute Nothingness

For the Russian cosmologist, Alex Vilenkin, the multiple universes are separated and disconnected from one another. Each arises out of nothing by a process called quantum tunneling, spontaneously crossing the boundary between existence and non-existence with no expenditure of energy. Universes spring into action with precisely zero total energy, the positive energy of matter being opposite and equal to the negative energy of gravitation. Mass comes free, because energy is zero.

As Alan Guth says,

Putting [general relativity and quantum mechanics] together, one can imagine that the universe started in the total empty geometry – absolute nothingness – and then made a quantum tunneling transition to a nonempty state. Calculations show that a universe created this way would typically be subatomic in size, but that is no problem . . . Vilenkin was able to invoke inflation to enlarge the universe to its current size.

and Vilenkin explains,

[T]he state of “nothing” cannot be identified with absolute nothingness. The tunneling is described by the laws of quantum mechanics, and thus “nothing” should be subject to these laws. The laws of physics must have existed, even though there was no universe.

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Classical theory dictates that the system can break apart only when it is excited with energy beyond the barrier height. In quantum theory there is a certain probability to tunnel out under the barrier.

Heidegger, Sankara & Cosmic Capitalism…a para

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How and what is nothingness for Heidegger? Firstly, it is essentially un-grounding human existence. Secondly, it still is human-privileging. Why the second, when the first seems to rule out the second totally. This is where existentialism comes in: One dictum says that there are degrees of freedom associated with nothingness. So, in a state of un-groundedness, there are grounds of freedom that beckon humans still ruling the roost. So, nothingness dissolves into the nothing here, as far as I am concerned. Now, Sankara’s Brahman is nothing like the “it”. Why? “It” is not absolute to begin with. It swells, it contracts. It moves, it carves. It designates, it denominates, and it dominates. Domineering is the steering angle of “it”. It is the reason why I call it the “cosmic capitalism”. It is the all-pervasiveness of capitalism that is brutal to the point of driving humans to existential depravity. So, it is potent, it is flowing in the vastness of galactic spaces (remember Bataille’s “solar anus”), in the voids one cannot sense, but nevertheless ethereal.

Phaneroscopy/Phanerology de-agentify

Yes, it is a limitation to break the world/universe, or what have you into the binaries. A resolution of the same ain’t possible, until one either exercises an asymptotic progression/regression machine on it, and thus relegating the whole into an aporetic point of philosophical frustration that goes by the name of dialectics, or, one somehow experiences an event of binaries morphing into one another. Such a collapse of the one into the other gravitates the defining points of differences into identities, and this goes by the name of Laruellean “decisionism-in-the-last-instance”. So, dialectics with the second method goes on a honeymoon where minds of the left spend countless nights trying to get it back to the realistic domain (pun intended!!!).

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I’d be sorry to be getting into territories that speak the language of failed poets/prose writers, for otherwise, I’d not be able to justify how bad a writer I really am!!! The lightened poetry of non-sense and/of Being: Even if such a poetry did exist (for me, at least it never did), then it was probably the romantic ideal of the by-gone philosophical ages, and we seem to have come a long way out of it, but still cling on to the symptoms of such an era. Pity!! It is not conjoining the obscure with the nothingness, or the Other World. It is rather the tunnelling of the lyrical aspect with the nothingness, a Schellingian approach to when he says that without confrontation, there is nothing of the creation possible. Dialectical, yes, in a way, but also the underside of it, which is considered a pariah, an outcast, an avoided and avoidable theory of creativity, or what I understand as Leper Creativity. Yes, losing identity could be viewed as relative here. But as I said, “could be”, and I refuse to truck with it imposed-consciously. And hereby, I also answer a subsequent point: “it” is uncharacteristic of holding true to the pillars of what constitutes it. Far-fetchedly, “it” is like what Wittgenstein would say: rise up the rung of the ladder and then discard it. But, a difference is to be spotted here. For Wittgenstein, the climber discards the ladder, whereas in this the present context, with each rising up on the rung of the ladder, a sort of dehumanization takes place in terms of awe/sublime/incapacitation. In other words, a sense of belonging to the “it” is bred in the “we” (agents/agencies) undoubtedly, but is lost sight of due to the intense flows of the “it” in time. A sort of exponential hypertrophy of the “it” due to “we”, or loosely saying emergentism in which node/nodes of “we” are simply sucked in. So, “we” build up the “it”, and lose it identity-wise in the process.

On similar lines, the knowledge of surplus is bluntly replaced by the awareness of it, an excess that is wasted more than it is used, and a kind of “solar anus” in the Bataillean sense, truly. Philosophical aesthetics falling in the hands of terrorizing hermeneutics: yes, I concur on this. This is one of the reasons, why I have started advocating phaneroscopy/phanerology over phenomenology, and it comes close to your recent studies on the quantum physics. But, then do we have a choice? We are yet to be defeated by the exploding solar anus, even though we are well on our way to a crushing defeat. Analogically, when someone says that “a world without capitalism is possible”, I tell of such Occupy/World Social Forum pundits that it is, but in a way that is stripped of agencies, and not otherwise. Sorry for the hubris here on my part, but my way of looking into these aspects could either mean that I am going a bit too far in my analysis, or getting really cracked brain now. On the point of polarity between order and disorder becomes unidentifiable when I say of lemniscate obscuring the horizon. Why do I say this? For me, order is nothing but an echo of a disordered anarchy that still reverberates. With this, I quash ethics, and I have no qualms in doing so, for a whole new set of rules need to be rewritten/rethought in this very darkness, which incidentally is on the avoidable radar still, but is making a stealthy invasion upon us, and before time will annihilate us, and de-anthropocentrize. Can’t help feeling sorry for Kant now for sure.

“It” is the cosmic “capitalism”.

The Dark Prose of the Voidic

It is questioning in itself, an inmost, deepest amazement, which often moves towards nothing, and yet quiets the flux of what was just lived: lets one reflect into oneself such that what is most deeply meant for us appears there, regards itself strangely. More deeply, it are the values of amazement that are carried by the state of presentiment, and ultimately reflected: something small, the kernel within so much impressive empty emballage, a messiah who appears not in a flash but in warmth and is nearby, as our guest, the discarded within a metaphysical perspective, the wafting comprehensible/incomprehensible symbolic intentions of the whole. The simplest word is already much too for it, the most sublime word much too little again, and yet what is true of these small, penetrating, and yet, followed through to the end, always the most authentic of all emblems, was true until now only of the greatest things: of the Delphic, of the reverberations of the primordial experiences of great dark poetry. What is felt, meant here is the same every time; our life, our future, the just lived moment and the lighting of the darkness, its all containing latency, in the most immediate amazement of all. Our moral-mystical concern and our self-ascertainment in itself is meant; some surplus based on nothing extrinsic, the surplus of the mutual mystical existence meaning in itself, is proper to every such experience and especially to symbol intentioned profundity. That gives them their immense promiscuity with respect to time, space and the terminus: that marvels through these constructs in a philosophic lyricism of the final border standing above every discipline, spiritually, arch jamming immanence and thus meta-religiously superior, exterior, even to the formations of faith, to the other world. Can we escape this depression of the visualization of the other world; a world object-less, not even ether, but not objection-less. Is there an answer to the nothingness in which all of us are in an awe struck moment if we try comprehending it?