“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.