Both Levi and Ben have written more on vitalism. Who knew it was such a hot topic? It is comforting to actually have these discussions with people I read and like and not with some weirdo who doesn’t know what they’re talking about (see YouTube for that).
What I’m especially happy about is that the connection I asked about before between Zizek and vitalism is becoming more clear. I’m glad that it seems other people are maybe starting to see the same thing. I have this problem where some times I see connections between things and assume it to be obvious and then find out that people have no idea what I’m talking about and because the connection is obvious to me, I don’t even know how to explain beyond comic pointing.
Johneffay posted the following quote from Deleuze over at Larval Subjects, and I think it’s quite helpful for seeing this connection:
There’s a profound link between signs, life, and vitalism: the power of nonorganic life that can be found in a line that’s drawn, a line of writing, a line of music. It’s organisms that die, not life. Any work of art points a way through for life, finds a way through the cracks. Everything I’ve written is vitalistic, and least I hope it is. (Deleuze, Negotiations, Columbia UP, 1995, p. 143).
Now, I wanted to talk briefly about my use of the term vitalism. I think I defined it fairly well in my last post, but I feel like there’s still some confusion. Levi said:
“I have an immediate negative reaction whenever vitalism is evoked as I think the accomplishments of biology in the last fifty or so years have been monumental and have been accomplished through a departure from occult vitalistic hypotheses about the nature of life and its processes… At least under my reading. Certainly Deleuze is deeply indebted to Bergson, but I wonder if the claim that Deleuze draws heavily from Bergson is equivalent to the claim that Deleuze advocates Bergson’s concept of elan vital?”
Now, I don’t have that negative reaction, but I also view vitalism differently. I’m not talking about the old biological theory, but of a metaphysical one which states that the proper name of Being is Becoming (or Life). I also think one of the conditions of a vitalist philosophy is the self-organization of matter, or fluid in Schelling, or really whatever is taken as the bottom of the metaphysical reality (even if it’s an endless string of objects). Essentially, what I mean by vitalism is that causality arises in some sense from within the stuff that we’re talking about, that there is some element of freedom inherent in reality itself and that this freedom (or life) exists beyond the things which we commonly say “live.” I want to say that the Lacano-Zizekian lamella is the quintessential ‘thing’ of my metaphysics, so long as it is understood to be in some sense incomplete or imperfect, that is, existing also as a spectre, and and therefore frail or evanescent. So the lamella can go on “living” in that it can exist without body, but without a body it no longer lives as we know living, but rather, it haunts. Or rather, nothing lives and everything haunts. So when an object is destroyed, what I would say happens is that the ghost remains, that there is always a remainder and that the things which “are” are degrading, fading out, to eventually fade in anew. It is this persistence that is vitalistic, this idea that while the things of reality fade away, reality itself allows for them to fade back in, to live, to haunt.