All 8 entries tagged Geophilosophy

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May 16, 2005

The guide and the explorer concept

Follow-up to Spirit and the virtuality of concepts and their personae from Transversality - Robert O'Toole

Thinking about my lost friend, I realised something important about myself, and about one of the impulses that could be a powerful driver behind events in the world.

I discovered something in me that is much more powerful than I had expected – a trait that perhaps determines the choices that I make, my actions, the things and people that I value.

There were many reasons why my friend was so great. But one thing, at least right now, stands out from the rest. The world was to her a constant source of wonderment, of fascination. She had the kind of mind and attitude to the world that is increasingly rare. Disturbingly rare. She had a way of just experiencing things as they were, and of always seeing something bright and sparkling. Certainly she was someone who had grown up in a world without special effects, in a world from which Hollywood was barred. And then in England, being an alien (in fact she said that she felt foreign everywhere), so much was genuinely new and strange. But her inquisitiveness was never just the effect of a lack of belonging, of always being abroad. It was a powerful and genuine trait in her way of living. A way that could exist anywhere, that could connect with anyone.

This to me is the most important trait in others. It is something that attracts me to people: my wife the infant school teacher, Ted the travel writer, Gilles and Felix the philosophers, Kate who writes strange songs from all kinds of odd sources, and Mari the adventurer. And perhaps it is why I like foreigners in England more than I like the English, even more than the eccentric English (and their fake difference). Deliberately leaving one's own culture, the place of mundane sense. What an amazing thing to do.

So why am I still here, in England, in Coventry? Strangely, even as a child, I would fantasise about aliens and ghosts. Not in a menacing or confrontational way, but rather as friends. I still often wonder what it would be like if some historical figure were to be sitting next to me now, looking in amazement as I explain the glowing moving screen covered in text and images in front of us. Or how it would be to tell Thesiger about the Iraq war, or T.E. Lawrence about modern sports bikes. I have these strange ideas all the time. You see the trait that I value in others is the wonderment and openness of the traveller, the explorer. But what I like myself is to be the guide, to be the one who leads the other to those experiences. Now I know that one thing that I have lost with my friend is someone who really appreciated me for doing that. But I've lost even more. This concept of being 'the guide' also implies a care and a knowledge of the place through which the guiding is happening. I have lost any reason to care about, to know what is valuable, in my world.

So the concept that I have discovered is this. The pairing of guide and explorer is a powerful one. But not in the obvious way. It is the guide and their territory that benefits, that makes sense and value by bringing the explorer into it. Maybe it is this 'guide' that drives adventure, exploration, deterritorialization.


February 15, 2005

Schizoanalysis as philosophical imagination, as philosophical method

Follow-up to The double agenda of this thesis: a method and an application from Transversality - Robert O'Toole

Schizoanalysis as a method brought together a psychotherapist (Guattari) and a philosopher (Deleuze). Guattari was concerned with the provision of philosophical concepts to patients in an attempt to give them room to manouvre, the chance of escape, freeing them up from patterns of addiction and inescapable habits. Deleuze moved in the opposite direction, from his studies in the history of philosophy, seeking to re-personalise, situate, and re-animate philosophical concepts, restoring their vitality and application, reconnecting them with their generation in a powerful philosophical imagination, with 'conceptual personae', and hence making the emergence of new concepts a real possibility for us.

The method that resulted, schizoanalysis, tends towards the production of concepts, philosophical creativity and experimentation. The elements of this being:

  • the creation and pedagogy of the concept, its creation and re-creation, its journey (deterritorialization and reterritorialization) in time and space, localized in and transported between people, places, societies, texts and other abstract machines;
  • the result of what could be called a 'philosophical imagination';
  • an imagination that acts to 'free-up' abstract machines, not simply by offering a novel set of possible-worlds, but more radically by offering new sense to what it means to be possible and impossible, to be a world;
  • an imagination capable of taking us beyond the permutations of our operational ontology;
  • doing so in response to and to enable changes in the material of thought and the apparatus of reality, for example at the extremes of physics, or the social production of the human;
  • freeing up and enabling new directions in science and art otherwise locked-in to the currently operational ontology;
  • providing a special class of concepts that can be relied upon to help carry us through these changes, concepts such as 'art', 'science', 'imagination', 'schizoanalysis', and perhaps also 'creativity';
  • whilst guarding against concepts that appear to have this power, but which in fact are empty, meaningless, black-hole concepts that merely absorb energies that drive towards such freeing-up, that act on every such desire with indifference – transcendent.

November 09, 2004

Philosophy

philosophy was something Greek although brought by immigrants. The birth of philosophy required an encounter between the Greek milieu and the plane of immanance of thought. It required the conjunction of two very different movements of deterritorialization, the relative and the absolute, the first already at work in immanence. Absolute deterritorialization on the plane of thought had to be aligned or directly connected with the relative deterritorialization of Greek society. Deleuze, What Is Philosophy?, p.93
Chaos is an infinte speed of birth and disappearance. Now philosophy wants to know how to retain infinite speeds while gaining consistency, by giving the virtual a consistency specific to it. What is Philosophy? p.118

…conceptual experimentation without limit but with a principle of consistency, direction, becoming something.

The philosophical sieve, as plane of immanance that cuts through chaos, selects infinite movements of thought and is filled with concepts formed like consistent particles going as fast as thought. What is Philosophy? p.118

November 06, 2004

Habit

Follow-up to Deleuze and Guattari on the (relative) superiority of English Imperialism from Transversality - Robert O'Toole

Habit! Of course the important concept in understanding Deleuze and Guattari's ethics (derived from Spinoza). Habit and habitat. The quote continues…

The English nomadize over the old Greek earth, broken up, fractalized, and extended to the universe…
…a concept is acquired by pitching one's tent, by inhabiting it, by contracting a habit. In the trinity Founding-Building-Inhabiting, the French build and the Germans lay foundations, but the English inhabit. For them a tent is all that is needed. They develop an extraordinary conception of habit: habits are taken on by contemplating and by contracting that which is contemplated. Habit is creative....We are all contemplations, and therefore habits. I is a habit. Wherever there are habits there are concepts, and habits are developed and given up on the plane of immanence of radical experience: they are "conventions". That is why English philosophy is a free and wild creation of concepts.

Habit, a creative nomadic dwelling with the concept.

Contemplation is the positing of a virtual field of incompossibles. Actuality is a path through that virtuality. A habit is the repetition of an actuality, a path through the virtual.


Note on creativity

Follow-up to Deleuze and Guattari on the (relative) superiority of English Imperialism from Transversality - Robert O'Toole

I think that this is one of the few and most interesting examples of Deleuze and Guattari using the term 'creativity':

We do not lack communication. On the contrary, we have too much of it. We lack creation. We lack resistance to the present. (What Is Philosophy? p.108)
Art and philosophy converge at this point: the constitution of an earth and a people that are lacking as the correlate of creation.

The power of the migrant versus the authority of Heidegger and the Volk–State

Follow-up to The ethics of rivalry, friendship and the creation of concepts in Ancient Greece from Transversality - Robert O'Toole

Deleuze and Guattari on Heidegger's membership of the Nazi party:

Perhaps this strict professor was madder than he seemed. He got the wrong people, earth and blood. For the race summoned forth by art or philosophy is not the one that claims to be pure but rather an oppressed, bastard, lower, anarchical, nomadic and iremediably minor race – the very ones that Kant excluded from the paths of the new Critique. Artaud said: to write for the illiterate – to speak for the aphasic, to think for the acephalous. (What is Philosophy? p.109)

Geophilosophy then is about the engagement with minor races, or better (to avoid the mistakes of the English) the engagement between minor races: at the edge of understanding, in discomfort. And then to take that a step further, which is the point of so much literature that comes out of this geophilosophical deterritorialization, to make oneself, ones body, path, existence, a composition of such minor races, minor species:

I looked at myself in the same light, as a monkey given my life to play with, prodding it, trying to stretch it into different shapes, dropping it and picking it up again, suspecting always that it must have some use and meaning, tantalized and frustrated by it but always unable to make any sense of it. Ted Simon, Jupiter's Travels

Travel writing, deterritorialization, creativity and philosophy.


Deleuze and Guattari on the (relative) superiority of English Imperialism

Follow-up to Migration and geophilosophy from Transversality - Robert O'Toole

We do not lack communication. On the contrary, we have too much of it. We lack creation. We lack resistance to the present. (What Is Philosophy? p.108)

In consumer capitalism, Deleuze and Guattari claim, the milieu of the Greeks, the relative deterritorialization of concepts, is impossible. Philosophy is impossible. The firgures of communication, of an ecstacy of communication as Baudrillard described, repeat a single concept, consumer acquisition. No two incommensurable concepts are brought together in a state of relative deterritorialization. There is no resistance. Everything is immediately deterritorialized absolutely (the acquisition claims to make all the difference), and just as quickly reterritorialized (the acquisition makes no difference, follows the same familar order).

There is a diifferent English capitalism, they claim. In the chapter on Geophilosophy, they describe the real drive behind the English imperialism, as something by which neither the Germans nor the French were motivated. Not just a desire to be Greek (as in Heidegger) but more importantly:

…the English are precisely those nomads who treat the plane of immanance as a movable and moving ground, a field of radical experience, an archipelegian world where they are happy to pitch their tents from island to island and over the sea. The English nomadize over the old Greek earth, broken up, fractalized, and extended to the universe…a concept is acquired by pitching one's tent, by inhabiting it, by contracting a habit. (p.105)

English philosophy then is a curious form of travel writing, of travelling along with the great heroes of the Empire (what a misnomer): T.E. Lawrence and Alexander the Great.

And the point at which English Imperialism becomes violent, imposing, extending a State, is at that point at which its subjugated people's pack up their own tents and seek to move on, move away from the romantic ideal: Lawrence being appalled by the Arab desire for Rolls-Royce rather than camel, for their own Capital as much as the oasis:

Europeanization does not constitute a becoming but merely the history of capitalism, which prevents the becoming of subjected peoples. (p. 108)

It just isn't cricket anymore.


November 03, 2004

Migration and geophilosophy

Follow-up to Ted Simon and the art of deterritorialization from Transversality - Robert O'Toole

Two perspectives on migration and deterritorialization, the recieving milieu and the migrant…

…philosophy was something Greek – although brought by immigrants. The birth of philosophy required an encounter between the Greek milieu and the plane of immanance of thought. It required the conjunction of two very different movements of deterritorialization, the relative and the absolute, the first already at work in immanence. Absolute deterritorialization on the plane of thought had to be aligned or directly connected with the relative deterritorialization of Greek society. Deleuze, What Is Philosophy?, p.93
I looked at myself in the same light, as a monkey given my life to play with, prodding it, trying to stretch it into different shapes, dropping it and picking it up again, suspecting always that it must have some use and meaning, tantalized and frustrated by it but always unable to make any sense of it. Ted Simon, Jupiter's Travels