Monday, January 28, 2008

Existence as a game of chance

In Nietzsche and Philosophy Deleuze discusses the importance of thinking about existence in terms of a game. This game has two moments and compounded with a third term. The first moment is the affirmation of becoming, the second is the affirming the being of becoming, and the third term is the player. Importantly, as with all of Deleuze’s philosophy, this game should be considered as immanent production. To describe the game of existence Deleuze considers it in terms of a dice throw. The first moment is when the dice are thrown and the second is when the dice fall back. The dice are thrown from the earth and the sky is where the dice fall back. However, the earth and the sky should not be regarded as two separate worlds, but rather two moments of the same world. Just like midday and midnight.
The significance of the dicethrow is the game brings chance into affirmation. Through throwing the dice the player is affirming chance as the dice are thrown into the sky from the earth. The problem for Deleuze is the player who does not know how to play the game: ‘The bad player.’ The bad player is the player who regards throwing the dice as a purpose, ‘the bad player counts on several throws, on a great number of throws. In this way he makes use of causality and probability to produce a combination that he sees as desirable. He posits this combination itself as an end to be obtained, hidden behind causality’ (p25). The bad player plays for himself. He uses reason and causality to obtain a desired end. He continually roles the dice and resents not obtaining his desired goal or being the purpose for playing. The bad player does not realise that ‘the universe has no purpose, that it has no end to hope for’ (p25). In short the bad player denies the continual affirmation of chance as the game is played to give it a purpose. For example, to play the game as a bad player would believe man is both the end and the purpose. The problem is this approach fails to realise man is part of the game.
Another problem is each dice throw is a different dicethrow. It is not a question of considering several dicethrows as part of the same act, but rather concentrating on each single dicethrow as the dicethrow is the eternal return of difference. Each dicethrow is thrown from the earth into the sky, an individuation, where the eternal return is the second moment. When the dice fall into the sky all the parts of chance are affirmed. I am tempted to say this is when something emerges. However, when something is affirmed in the eternal return it is a singular throw. If we do not view the dicethrow as singular then the act becomes part of the discourse of identity, where each dicethrow is done for the same purpose.
Lastly, the player should be view as tied to the space of the dicethrow. The dynamics of the game mean the dice require the player to throw them (or to pass a force through them). Deleuze states this point in Difference and Repetition, ‘a dynamic space must be defined from the point of view an observer tied to that space, not from an external position’ (p29). Literally, the player ought to be regarded as being plugged into the game. This means the player and the game are part of the single sense that is being realised/actualised.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

New online Deleuze Journal

From my knowledge here is a new online Deleuze journal.

I've not read any of the papers yet, but the first edition is full of established Deleuzian scholars: Paul Patton; Brian Massumi; Ian Buchanan; John Protevi; Keith Ansell Pearson; Roland Bogue...

Friday, January 18, 2008

Books of 2007?

As we emerge into 2008 I was wondering what every ones favourite books or journal articles they have read in 2007 were. These do not have to been published in 2007, but ones you have read in 2007.

Mine were:

1) Manuel DeLanda: 'A Thousand Years of Nonlinear History'

2) Georges Bataille: 'The Accursed Share: Vol 1'

3) Jean Baudrillard: 'The Intelligence of Evil or the Lucidity of the Pact'

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Production of Silence through Noise

Ibitsu and Beamer have been engaging in an interesting discussion about silence. These entries can be read here (ibitsu) and here (beamer). I was struck by a line from ibitsu where he writes ‘indeed, linguistically silence is always a very noisy matter’ as ‘the fragility of logocentrism which never lets silence be silent, silence must always be noisy.’ From my understanding the noise of linguistics is also the production of silence, and a noisy silence. To write is therefore the production of noise and the production of silence. They are two entangled processes of writing.

This is not an abstract issue, but a day-today issue. For example one only need concentrate on the (re)writing of historical narratives so history can function to produce the present. Composing historical narratives is not merely the act of providing a mirror image to the past. Instead composing historical narratives is a far more complex and political practice that may actively entail silencing the past. My presumption is historical narratives are written in order to bring linguistic noise to past historical events, but in bringing this noise they also produce silence. I mention this factor as the noise and the silence of these historical narratives can bring attention to how history works in the present.

For example, read these Caribbean historical narratives from the all-inclusive hotel chain Superclubs: Jamaica; Dominican Republic; and the Bahamas. Notice how bringing noise to the past Superclubs also silence the past. All the historical narratives write as if Caribbean history only began when Columbus discovered the ‘new world.’ The pre-Hispanic Caribbean is silenced as the white/male/European perspective is emphasised. In all these narratives the noise would suggest the destination were devoid of human inhabitants before 1492. There is no mention of how the indigenous inhabitants help to make the Spanish as much as the Spanish invented these destinations.

The historical narrative continue in this style, which attempts to silence the pre-Hispanic Caribbean, silence slavery, and silence forms of resistance to colonialism and/or imperialism. Instead the noise of the narratives aims to describe the destination in terms of the benefits the visitors have brought to them. Of course, this noise, and production of silence, is used to remove feelings of guilt and unease about visitors visiting the Caribbean. Which 0f course is beneficial to Superclubs as they are in the business of bringing consumers/visitors to their Caribbean destinations.

Yet the silence is also what haunts their historical narratives. When they create noise to produce silence the silence can emerge as counter-actualisation of noise. A noise Superclubs try to silence. The aim is not to moralise or claim an objective superiority when reading a historical narrative that silences the past through narrating the past, but instead to provide (counter) historical narratives that bring noise to the silence in the text. This noise can act to destabilise the production of silence as historical narratives silence the past.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Zizek writings online

Thanks to notebook eleven for bringing this website to my attention Especially the list of links for Zizek writings.

Of note are:

New on lacan dot com
Part 1 -
Part 2 -
section I: Against the Politics of Jouissance -
section II: The Market Mechanism for the Race of Devils -
I. No Man is an Island… -
II. Competition is a Sin -
III. To Read Too Many Books is Harmful -
1. Introduction - Spinoza -
2. Kant - Hegel -
3. …and Badiou! -
Leninism Today: Zionism and the Palestinian Question -
Cogito, Madness and Religion: Derrida, Foucault and then Lacan -
Madness and Habit in German Idealism
Discipline between the Two Freedoms: part 1 -
Discipline between the Two Freedoms: part 2 -
Only a Suffering God Can Save Us
section 1: Hegel -
section 2: Kierkegaard -
Radical Evil as a Freudian Category -
Religion between Knowledge and Jouissance -
Do We Still Live in a World? -
1. Introduction - Bibliography -
2. Lacan Confronts the CIA Plot -
3. Lacan Turns a Prayer Wheel -
4. Lacan with Wide Eyes Shut -
5. Lacan as Viewer of Alien -
6. Lacan as Viewer of Casablanca -
7. Lacan Plays with Bobok -
8. Lacan as a Reader of Bouyeri -
Woman is One of the Names-of-the-Father (Lacan’s Formulas on Sexuation) -
The Most Sublime of Hysterics: Hegel with Lacan -
Connections of the Freudian Field to Philosophy and Popular Culture -
Kant and Sade: the Ideal Couple -
Lacan: at What Point is He Hegelian -
CINEMA:A Pervert’s Guide to Family -

Friday, January 11, 2008

Image over Word

In his article 'War as Game' James Der Derian claims the reporting of the second Gulf War meant 'once again, the image won out over the word.' The argument is an extremely relevant point, which points towards the dominance of visual images in the contemporary world. To a certain extent this can be traced to the emergence of television as a popular home entertainment appliance. One only needs thinks of the importance of television in the Nixon vs Kennedy debate to consider the political influence visual images play. In this debate the majority of radio listeners had felt Nixon had won the debate. However, in comparison those who watch it on television, who saw a underweight Nixon recently out of hospital, felt Kennedy won the debate. This youtube video is a useful insight into the importance of the medium. watch here.

I mention the importance of visual images in politics as this has once again played an important role in politics. Hilary Clinton's tears, whether real or unreal, was a significant image used to win the recent New Hampshire election. So far her image in the media was unemotional and lacked compassion and those tears helped to overcome this image.

There is a larger, and more significant point to be made, and that is I really could not tell you what any of the main candidate policies are. I do admit I have not been following the elections closely, but when I do listen to them being reported the news is only about poll ratings or the candidates images rather than what they standing for. Maybe Baudrillard was not wrong to claim that we have moved into the simulation of politics as the image wins over the word.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The Politics of Fear and the Democrats

Do the Democrats use fear as a technique to play out a Zizekian 'forced choice' of democracy to ensure the 'correct' neoliberal candidate?

According to Something Different they are. Read the argument here.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Beer and Philosophy

Zoepolitics has written a nice entry about beer, good and evil, and philosophy. A very interesting post and I can recommend reading it here.

I like the idea about a self overcoming of viewing beer as either good and/or evil. My own 'philosophical' view would be to regard beer from a material Spinoza sense. Which would consider the (virtual) capacity for the beer to affect (not effect) a mode/body. The consumption of beer could therefore be beneficial to one and/or a society/culture. However, there is also those immanent imperceptible becomings where one can pass a critical threshold that means the body no longer consumes the beer, but rather the beer consumes the body - alcoholism.