“Nothing will have taken place…”: Meillassoux and the Repetition of Failure

X-posted at AUFS.

“RIEN N’AURA EU LIEU QUE LE LIEU EXCEPTÉ PEUT-ÊTRE UNE CONSTELLATION/NOTHING WILL HAVE TAKEN PLACE BUT THE PLACE EXCEPT PERHAPS A CONSTELLATION” – Stéphane Mallarmé

Quentin Meillassoux’s The Number and the Siren: A Decipherment of Mallarmé’s Coup de dés is a complex work of literary criticism undertaken by a philosopher that often verges on the fantastic. In this review, which I am circumventing the grinding processes of an academic journal and posting to the blogs in the spirit of supporting the work of Urbanomic/Sequence Press, I want to reflect mainly on the the experience of strangeness reading the book and what potentially this project of philosophically-attuned literary criticism may have to offer to continuing discussions in philosophy of religion and political theology. Now, many readers will already be familiar with Adam’s review of the book and so I will do my best not to replicate what he has already written, but find that my own consideration of the text somewhat differ from Adam’s tongue-in-cheek theory that Meillassoux’s project constitutes an ‘independent discovery of Christianity’. Setting this relatively minor disagreement until later, as it is a disagreement in part regarding the value of this project (if one can really call it a disagreement as such), I will only say now that in addition to an independent discovery of Christianity Meillassoux’s reading of Mallarmé also independently discovers the post-Christian secularism of civil religion and the twin failures of both Christianity and Western secularism. But out of this failure, this shipwreck, perhaps Meillassoux and others may perhaps find points, perhaps forming a constellation, about what sort of things philosophy, poetry, and humanity may build after the death of God.

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Meillassoux in New York

Quentin Meillassoux will be giving a lecture this Sunday in New York entitled “The Coup de dés, or the Materialist Divinization of the Hypothesis” to celebrate the launch of the English translation of The Number and the Siren. The location of the lecture is 88 Eldridge Street, 4th floor (just below Grand Street) and begins, again, this Sunday, May 6 at 7pm. Download the flyer [PDF] for more information. The book, translated by Robin Mackay is now available to be purchased from Urbanomic/Sequence Press. I’ll be posting a review of the text here within the next few weeks, but can already tell you the book will be of great interest to those who were challenged by After Finitude as well as those who have perhaps mourned the passing of philosophical engagement in the avant garde.

Laruelle E-Seminar *Updated*

Update April 10th I have received a good deal of interest. And have sent a syllabus to those who have already contacted me. We will start on May 24th, but the video of the first lecture will simply be online for you to watch when you have time. If you are interested please get in touch. I’m asking that those who can pay now do so by sending the fee via PayPal to anthonypaul(dot)smith(at)gmail(dot)com, but if you would like to talk about paying later or paying in segments we should be able to work that out. Just get in touch.

I have played around with the idea of doing an online introduction to François Laruelle’s non-philosophy. The idea would be to bring together the people interested in such a thing via the internet. I would do a live lecture that would also be record for those who can’t tune in at the proscribed time and this would be followed by question and answer through a blog devoted to the seminar. I would provide PDFs of selections of texts currently being translated and we could work out the mechanics of the other other texts on a case by case basis. I’m thinking that this would span 10-weeks starting either in May or June. The purpose of this post is to get a feel for how many people would be interested. I’m thinking that, for all the work that would go into this, it is fair to charge $50 or £25 for the whole seminar. Please leave a comment here or email me at anthonypaul(dot)smith(at)gmail(dot)com and let me know if this is something that would interest you.

*Update* I would need 16 participants willing to commit to make this worth it, for them, as well for me. So please indicate if you’re willing to commit or not as well.

Laruelle and Non-Philosophy

John Mullarkey and I just sent off the completed manuscript for Laruelle and Non-Philosophy, which includes essays from Speculative Heresy favorites like Ray Brassier, Katerina Kolovzova, and Alexander R. Galloway, as well essays from Anne-Françoise Schmid, Marjorie Gracieuse, Rocco Gangle, Michael J. Olsen, John, myself, and an essay of and interview with Laruelle himself. We think it will be an important volume for those who are interested in Laruelle’s non-philosophy and help set the stage for further engagements with his work. The point of non-philosophy is, of course, not to provide yet another philosopher-guru, but aims to make use of philosophy and other forms of thinking. But understanding the method will help towards that end.

John has also written a short piece, extending on our editors’ introduction, that responds to Harman’s August review of the recent translation Philosophies of Difference.

Laruelle in London Podcast

François Laruelle delivered a workshop presentation followed by a public lecture last week in London. As some of you know I came to London to participate and to get some other Laruelle-related work done. Part of that, it turned out, was producing a translation of his public talk over the course of about five to six hours alongside of Marjorie Gracieuse and Nicola Rubczak. You can listen to a podcast of the lecture and download a pdf of the translation at Backdoor Broadcasting Company. If you haven’t come across this website before I would recommend bookmarking it, as Réne Wolf has created an amazing service there, recording and broadcasting pretty much every interesting talk and event in the London area.

As for the lecture itself, it bears the funny title “Why do philosophers need to use an ethics?” and develops some of what the ethical implications of his recent work in quantum theory. It’s actually rather polemical, though that polemic is mostly coded for those who have ears to hear it, and the upswing of the talk appears to be advocating something like an ethics that can produce ethics but can’t proscribe that ethics. It thinks from little events, rather than big objects.

Prefatory Thoughts for Reading Laruelle’s Anti-Badiou

I’ve crossposted this at An und für sich, but thought it would be of interest to readers of Speculative Heresy as well and a fitting first post here. Shamelessly I’d also like to direct your attention to some fundraising I am doing to help support my academic work. Please consider donating if you can.

François Laruelle has become an unstoppable writing force (or should that be force (of) writing?) in the past few years. After publishing his massive work Philosophie non-standard last year he went on to write three new works in the months that followed. All of which, I understand, are extensions of major themes found within Philosophie non-standard. These include a work with the title Théorie des victimes and another on messianicity with a working title of Une théologie gnostique. I think that Laruelle’s publisher wants to space out the release of these books so that they don’t flood the market and thereby lower demand for them, and I think this with some good information on this but without wanting to commit myself to the ultimate veracity of the claim. So of those three manuscripts the only work we have is his polemical work Anti-Badiou. Sur l’introduction du maoïsme dans la philosophie (which the very talented Robin Mackay of Urbanomic fame is translating into English for Continuum). This is a polemical book. One that Laruelle has himself described to me as often being “very violent”. While I’m looking forward to reading this book, for who deserves a good polemical attack more so than the little prince of contemporary polemical works, I am also a bit worried as polemics produce a lot of attention and often times distract from the more interesting aspects of a philosopher’s (or non-standard philosopher’s) work.

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