A Blog by Virgilio Rivas

Of Eating Well, In lieu of critique

We agree that Bourdieu is right about the scholastic fallacy but so is Laruelle who renamed this fallacy as the sufficiency of philosophy. The quest for a new mode of critique is first of all borne by philosophy’s failure to abandon its decisional structure, its failure to account not only of the finitude of the subject (of philosophy) but also of the way philosophy thinks about its relation to the World. We can see the extent to which the various meanings that philosophy has deduced of the World (subject or object-oriented) has only worsened our relation to it, not much because we have a basic problem of philosophical digestion, of eating as well as digesting Man and Thing or Object, of cannibalism or what have you. The thing is we have a problem with how to eat well, how to become better cannibals or a machine-eating machine.

But how we eat is different from some form of flesh-eating, what we were already (already a lived ‘us’) before we even think about how a general economy works. About this non-decisional lived life cum flesh-eating (a flesh that can eat well without being formally taught how to eat!) Laruelle says to the point:”…the Lived is without purpose or ecstacy” (Future Christ, 29). Some radical concepts are at work here. Some ways to critique a critique. But not as radical as Derrida who (in his interview with Jean-Luc Nancy) regarding the non-decisional structure of a certain type of cannibalism proposed:

“Everything that happens on the edge of the orifices (of orality but also of the ear, the eye–all the senses in general) the metonymy of eating well would always be the rule…The moral question is thus not, nor has it ever been: should one eat or not eat, eat this and not that, the living or the nonliving, man or animal, but since one must eat in any case and since it is and tastes good to eat, and since there’s no other definition of the good how for goodness sake should one eat well? And what does it imply?…”(“Eating Well”: An Interview, in Who Comes After The Subject?, 114-15)

Derrida proposes a mode of eating that is not up to the ‘subject’ of philosophy but one that is already revealed to the human-without-life, without the truth of life–

“‘One must eat well” does not mean above all taking in and grasping in itself, but learning and giving to eat, learning-to-give-the-other-to-eat. One never eats entirely on one’s own: this constitutes the rule underlying the statement “One must eat well.” It is a rule offering infinite hospitality.” (Ibid, 115)

Laruelle and Derrida may not be good eaters to one another. But Laruelle has eaten an odd flesh of hospitality in terms of situating anthropophagy within the immanence of a radical past that is absolutely indifferent to the dictum ‘one must eat well’, granting hospitality may also be eaten, as with Derrida, even the Good can be eaten. It may suffice to say here that this radical past is the ‘in-past’ of Man, his being already suffering from a non-decisional separation from the World, which determines the historical fate (read: eating) of humanity.

Bourdieu may be averse to Heidegger’s scholastic disposition but Heidegger has more intelligible words to spare to describe this already-ness, the non-decisional form of the howness of the instancing of Man (as cannibal): thrownness. Here we can champion Heidegger against Bourdieu for Heidegger’s non-thetic conception of the universality of thrownness. The non-thetic is not up to Heidegger or Heideggerian scholarship. It is up to the human-in-the-last-instance who has come to a realization that thrownness can also afford us horrible potentials (cannibalism is one; machinicism another). The point is: thrownness is the unmasterable past “that which is never disclosed by the world, but can only suffer in the world” (Ramey, in Laruelle and Non-philosophy, 89). With Laruelle this appropriation of Heidegger is beyond the question of collaborationism. Derrida is even harsher–Who has not eaten a flesh? It is rather a question of eating well.

And what is thrownness other than its being fundamentally derivative of  solar economy as Bataille would have us understood the finitude of human digestion? For Bataille this form of reappropriating a waste is an act of transcendence. But it is an act that is not guaranteed of redemption. If anything redemption is an illusion to which we are condemned to relate. And yet redemption is not strictly confined to theological musing. There is also an illusory redemption like a Nietzschean steely necessity of objectifying a non-value in repetitive differential ways if only to suspend the full force of the unknown that is already arriving anyhow, to protect the species against Chaos while it has not reached our time yet. To this end Nietzsche proposed a constant reinvention of one’s values as values compel the self to reinvent itself in the sameness of difference.

What a way to eat.

And yes, there is an illusory redemption in a kind of thinking which proposes the end of anthropophagy.

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