Non-philosophy and The Specter of the Full Turn
February 3, 2013
What ghosts tell
Laruelle offers to describe a state of philosophy after the determination-in-the-last-instance leaves it without a life to harass, without a shadow of itself to receive the masochistic blows of its decisional intoxication: “There is no longer any relation but only an alterity of the One, which is an immanence without relation to philosophy—even though it gives or manifests philosophy while separating itself from it” (The Non-philosophy Project, 129).
Such condition of separation is necessary for non-philosophy that takes philosophy, or its death, for that matter, as its material for fiction. One can say here that philosophy has now turned into a ghost. Yet a ghost that is authentically proper to its existence. This ghost now roams the World that has ceased offering a placement to philosophical binding, of self-returning reflexivity. Philosophy needs to feel threatened by its own ghost, its alterity, its other-than, its future (needless to say, philosophy has no concept of the future), its non-philosophical trajectory that it desires to suppress even as that which it stifles responds by offering a true hospitality by taking its name (non-philosophy) as the name that dies in philosophy. For what?
The ghost, suddenly devoid of the World that it used to engender, can tell something in this respect in the manner of a philo-fiction. In the meantime–“Left to itself the World contains many specters and many simulacra and it becomes both one and the other” (Struggle and Utopia At The End Times of Philosophy, 104).
They must tell something or it would be totally unreasonable to believe they exist in some way. That’s the way they exist, or must exist. On the one hand, they exist on account of giving their presence a distinct voice. On the other hand, they must exist and exist they do on that account.
And that’s why ghosts exist: they must exist. In fact, we cannot freely imagine existence itself without its double, its shadow, the antinomic exteriority of existence. It is the curse of existence, if at all it can be said of human life which is already ontologically bereft.
Already in mourning of a true unconditioned purpose, human life must cling to the unimaginable to sustain its troubled existence, its rather proxy existence, an essence without the full credentials of existence, a soul without a proper nourishing body. A pure soul but not the soul as a pre-existent entity, rather the pure exteriority of being. As pure exteriority a being exists without a substitutable double, without connections, without a proxy body which is what a body is to the human soul. Thus, a pure body, a perfectly essential body is a pure exteriority, an atomic structure to say the least, existing as an independent physical reality. But since, as we emphasized, human life is in mourning, the pure essential body is a thing of the past as the first gesture of creation where a certain death was already achieved, a de-naturing, displacement and separation of the pure body (the state of being as an improbable being) from an active, present being-ness in the manner of proxy existence (the birth of being in culture),engendering a living human being, by all accounts a post-atomic being, a real being that as real is unrepeatable. Indeed, life can only exist once.
Nonetheless, the price of earning a culture is the quiet, discreet dependence of being on the memory of pure exteriority. That is how it sustains its troubled existence—by nourishing the ghostly exteriority of the past to the degree that we can only exist as proxy beings, surrogate atomics mourning of metaphysical purpose.
Ghosts tells us some fundamental facts about existence. We mean facts as the outward evidence of a lie, a fabrication which on account of its powerful historical character it will be difficult to tell a lie from a fact. History is presence and to that degree the absentee character of existence in the ghostly exteriority of being is either tolerated or suppressed.
On the one hand, history tolerates ghosts if only to say that here ghosts are considered a fault, a conditionality of being subject to the examination of history utilizing the categories of reason.
On the other hand, history suppresses the memory of pure exteriority due to its liberating force, but most of all its natural violence against all forms of system or regime. In any case, history does not have complete metaphysical power to suppress pure exteriority, its subaltern challenge to the interiorization of being in common existence, with respect to the ghosts’ obligatory existence even within presence, by all accounts the co-habitation of common existence as a livable structure of being and the suprasensuous within the time of being.
Ghosts tell us that only ‘they’ are real. In this regard they pose a challenge to objective realism. They demand an impossible attention by according them a presence which gratifies the ‘Real’ but in the sense of an inversion, in the sense of epistemic falsehood, of a negativist celebration of ontological grief, mourning of the ghost of Being, the chimera of pure exteriority, the pure soul. Meanwhile, common existence subsists as an essence without the full credentials of being. Its subsistence already betrays a transcendental act of deprivation. Existence is forced to comply with unrealistic demands one of which is to render existence to presence in one’s individual capacity as a being, to outward categorial appearance, to an appearance of truth and individual integrity, in short, to-the-World that the ‘act’ has previously engendered, at the same time that it (common existence or just existence) must persist (with or without the threat of deprivation) as a being forced to imagine it has those credentials. In this sense, there is no such common existence. Existence is uncommon, strange, ghostly, suspicious across the board.
To imagine one has the credentials of existence outside the hegemony of fate, of the destiny of common existence to live a life of difficult ontology by which we mean the necessary life of conceptuality—the practical even the rational, moral, religious, and political conception of beings according to predefined essences, living according to the effectuations of the thought-world or philosophy—it will take as much lie as to imagine oneself existing as a be-ing within an embodied essence, its fullest credential, so to speak. In this sense to philosophize is already to lie.
It is to ecstatically imagine oneself as a be-ing having those credentials, a being freely conscious of itself imagining itself for-itself, hence, the heuristic value of its self-grounding in the meanings it fabricates. Add to this complication the demand of transcendental existence to render one’s being to the evidentiality of time and space but where evidence of existence escapes all forms of ontological validation. In any case, the life of a be-ing is loaned by the pure exteriority of its past, its ghost which gives/hosts its temporal ground in the sense of giving it an authority to ex-ist. But not every human being is a be-ing. It takes a decision to-be. It takes an impossible leap, from being to be-ing, from existence to ekstasis. To give oneself to this leap is to listen to the ghostly voice of freedom. Where freedom is, there the possibility of ghostly existence haunts the living. And since ‘every-where’ there is freedom, which does not mean it is essentially realized, anywhere there are ghosts. They tell of the same thing.
Once more: to ex-ist is to occupy a realizable condition of being outside the realism of the objective, hence, be-ing. It is ekstasis. It is to exist as a be-ing, a being in pursuit of the credentials of existence, seeking credence, self-respect, autonomy and dignity. A be-ing in pursuit of a true unconditioned purpose which is the goal of every human freedom.
And here is where the process makes a full turn: As unconditioned, this purpose is no longer of the world. As a goal it does not have anything to do with the present. The process is completed in a non-philosophical simplification of philosophical fictionality (unaware of its behavioral structure). But if this simplification is also other-than the self-enclosing turn then rightly so it can only be achieved out of the future, the other-than (as Laruelle would emphasize) whose character is also simplified. It has a human character but not of the world and presence, rather of the last-instance of the world and presence, which is the ghostly presence of the what is to come, Man in the last-determining-instance, what could be the purity of the post-atomic being, the promise of every immanence where nothing can ever take place “save matter,” to parody Kant.
But are we not post-atomic already since the birth of time in the World? Are we seeing a repeat performance? Philosophy, encore. It has all the same cinematic elements assembled within the World that has not aged. Philosophy has not aged. One may wonder if philosophy has a concept of the planet, for what ages is the other-than-the-World. We can ask non-philosophy of the same thing. Does non-philosophy have a concept of the planet other than a non-planet like Pluto?
Once again, this is another way to say that ghosts must exist, or we don’t exist at all. Or, what amounts to the same thing: philosophies must exist, or humans don’t exist at all.