Monthly Archives: July 2009

Dead Fawn (Things which are alike, in nature, grow to look alike)

“Nonhuman species obey only the law of vitality, but humanity in its distinctive features is through and through necrocratic.” — Robert Pogue Harrison, The Dominion of the Dead

One of my favourite scenes from one of my favourite films (Dead Man, directed by Jim Jarmusch). See also Kevin’s post on finding a dead fawn to see another way to mourn.



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thunderbirds tweeting at dawn / history and ghostly objects

Can’t sleep. The sun’s starting to come up, though with the fog it’s hard to tell (there’s a reason why the locals call this Fog City). The birds are starting to sing their morning songs.

Every week I walk downtown to George Street, which is infamous for having the most bars and pubs per square foot in North America. Every Friday, the Jockey Club gets together to talk philosophy. We have a deal with one of the pubs there where they open early for us (4:30, we’re usually there until 6:30 or so) and we give them regular business for the trouble.

Every week I tell myself I’ll bring my camera to get a photo of a particular piece of graffiti that I love. I am always sure to walk by it on the way there, just to make sure no one has covered over it. Every week I forget to bring my camera. It turns out someone on Flickr already had a great photo of the Thunderbird.


I love everything about this piece, from the design itself, to the dripping halo of colour around it, to the wear and tear, the scrapes and gashes. This is a perfect example of what I mean when I talk about history; I don’t mean some grand system or synthesis. What I mean by history is this, the simple fact that over time (that is, through the work of drive) things change, pieces and relations fall away, while new things attach themselves to the object. These “missing” pieces aren’t truly missing however, as the absences continue to affect the thing, with both the former pieces as well as the gaps coming to define the thing. That is to say, the thing is never merely it’s current properties or relations, but is also in some way all of it’s past forms, as well as its future forms.

Where Graham says that there are dark recesses within objects that are never touched, I see the gap here in the existence of history. It is because the thing is always missing pieces (both the pieces it has lost as well as those it has yet to take on, both of which are part of the thing), existing in this awkward spectral state, that thought fails to grasp the expanse of Being, and ultimately why I’m not doing a new correlationism. This is also why I think hauntology, an acknowledgement of things never being entirely present (in fact, claiming that absolute presence and absence are both impossible), is first philosophy.

I need to try to get some sleep.

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Pixel DJ

Glitched out goodness for your eye meat.

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the object itself is force…

Thanks to Zach (can I call you Zach? I’m gonna go ahead and call you Zach) for this quote from Deleuze which I had entirely forgotten about:

… the object itself is force, expression of a force. … There is no object (phenomenon) which is not already possessed since in itself it is not an appearance but the apparition of a force.

— Deleuze, Nietzsche & Philosophy, 1.3, p. 6

It’s been a couple of years since I really sat down and read any Deleuze and I feel like I’m in a much better place to read it now, so I’m going to find the time to (re-)read as much Deleuze as I can this summer. I started Bergsonism today, which I have never read, so we’ll see how much time I have and how much I can get in (I also picked up his Spinoza from the library along with Bergsonism since his books are never available).

To anyone that’s been following along with what I’ve been writing, this tiny quote packs in a lot that I like, though I’m uncomfortable with the idea of reducing objects to “just the apparition of a force,” but I’m still trying to figure out exactly what I think of the relation of drive to ghost, whether a ghostly object can actually be reduced in such a way, or if time/history doesn’t allow for such a move. I think I want to say that while yes, metaphysically, drive comes first (since things are nothing but accidental articulations of drive), we cannot simply reduce these objects to just the drives of Nature, since in their becoming, they create a whole new level of reality. So in this way, an object is not “just” drive, but is rather a further creative act above drive itself, since it is drive-historicized and relationized, that is, not simply drive as lack or craving, but drive as instinct and creative urging, if that makes any sense at all.

[ADDENDUM: I think this is why I am sort of confused by the problem that both Graham and Levi often articulate with Whitehead and Latour (collectively forming the rock supergroup, The Relationists). Both Graham and Levi say that objects can’t be simply nothing more than their relations or else change is impossible, so Graham (I’m not sure how Levi does this, so I’ll speak only of Graham here) takes the position that we need some substance-like-thing, that is, substance that is not inalterable or eternal, but some dark untapped core at the heart of things in order for there to be potentiality and change (while saying also, like Leibniz, that finite things contain infinity or maybe it’s closer to Nicholas of Cusa’s “relative infinity…”) Graham also says that it is this problem that causes Latour to move to his talk of plasma, which approaches monism or at least quasi-monists like Deleuze and Bergson, essentially the idea of an infinite reserve underlying all objects).

It seems to me though that another option besides positing infinity either within all objects, or underlying all objects, is to work with an idea of drive, will, or conatus. In this way, I think you get a model of change which better reflects reality. I suppose this is the option I’ve chosen to explore, which is why I tie myself to the vitalist tradition so strongly, since they, along with certain neo-Platonists (the ones who claim the world-soul to be more primary than the divine intellect) and voluntarists also seem to make this move, or at least a similar one. I’m hoping to write more about this tradition soon.]


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Something worth machines.

I wanted to write something about Michael Jackson.
I tried to write something about Michael Jackson.
Then I realized there was nothing left to say because a fictional character already said the perfect thing. Thanks Ray.

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