Response to Recent Comments

Posted: April 23, 2012 in Uncategorized

Thank you all for these very enlivening comments.

While I can’t respond to each one individually I will try to address some of the important issues raised in your various emails:
1. What is ontology?
2. What does the history of monstrous representations have to do with monstrosity as an untimely event?
3. Is there an opposition between the monster-as-punctum and monstrous ontologies?

I suppose we should begin with some clear declarations: I have been thinking about monsters as the birth of new forms of self-organising life. But by life we understand something akin to what Simondon calls the preindividual or what Deleuze calls affect or what Whitehead calls process. Or what Marx called revolution, or what Pasquinelli calls autonomy. Thus life is the revolutionary becoming of assemblages of perception, embodied media, parasites (vampires—see Michel Serres’s notion of the parasite, and what Pasquinelli does to it in Animal Spirits), info-loops, libidinal fluxes, capacities. Celia Lurry in her book on photography points out how the jugaadwallah (hindi: jugaard a trick that accomplishes something; the engineer-trickster-hacker) is a node of potentiality in any actual field of force.

They say, write clearly! But what would clarity do in this context? Nothing that a well posed problem can’t do better! What is a well-posed problem? What logic (abduction—see C. S. Pierce), what duration (revolutionary surrealism—see Deleuze and Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus), what foldings are necessary to diagram becoming? The logic of the and is not a logic of clear connections but of the creative assemblage of fuzzy sets with material flows that have gradients of speed, viscosity, acceleration, etc.

Well. The monster as punctum is not the Other of the monstrous event or becoming, it is on the other hand a mechanism of capture, a mechanism of reducing qualitative change to quantifiable value in the form of surplus accumulation. I believe that the punctum is once again the illusion endemic to mainstream media—Fox News is perhaps the most prolific purveyors of monsters as punctum, Terrorists, Fags, Socialists, Animals, the Other. But this form of mass mediated punctumization simply celebrates a machine that has been created by people to turn autonomous fluxes of desire and energy into the next viral video.

So we must return to the beach beneath the street, reach through the sedimented layers of our habits of thought—social constructivism is nothing other than a habit of thought, we should develop the capacity for others—and develop styles of repetition that bring in something new without control—patterned but unpredictable. A derive. Such a method goes against one of the “objective illusions” of reason: to cover over process with product.

What then is ontology? We could say that it is the practical philosophy of creating assemblages of information, energy, movement, sensation, perception, and matter. But there are an infinite number of ways to characterize assemblages based in the abstract diagram that traverses it, or based in the domain of intervention that constitutes its field of force relations.
This is only another way of saying that ontology—the practice of an and—is nothing other than one continuous experimentation with and on life.

Thanks again for your thoughtful responses.


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