One more on 'grey vampires',

by CarlD

trolls and insufferable scholars who, as we all know, infiltrate our thoughts and drain our precious energy. My recent perusal of old posts yielded a moment of clarity that came together for me in a dream last night. I’ll let Brigadier General Jack D. Ripper, a real expert on these issues and a subtle observer of the human psyche, take it from here:

Now there’s a man with a project.

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118 Responses to “One more on 'grey vampires',”

  1. I hope you didn’t lose any PBFs to your sheets, Carl. Those sheets WANT to drain you of your essence.

  2. But this is the NEW Donald Rumsfeld army, a NETWORK philosophical internet military designed to mirror and fight the “bugs” of al Qaeda:

    “K-Punk is also right that the standard modus operandi of trolls is to try to enter and corrupt thriving networks. The multifariousness of networks means there are always weak points that allow them to succeed, but also means that networks have no essential center and therefore can recover fairly quickly by rerouting their damaged electrical lines. This sometimes involves a few sacrifices, but ultimately it leads to a stronger network.”

    http://doctorzamalek2.wordpress.com/2009/08/16/k-punk-on-gvs-trolls-and-troll-masters/

    (the guy is a little bit loony, or at least spends way too much time thinking about himself…and his allies)

  3. I do not avoid the sheets, John, but I do deny them my essence.

    Kvond, that undermining-from-within trope has got both McCarthyism and ’50’s scifi monster fear films going for it, so who are we to call it loony?

  4. Yes, loony. I don’t know, someone not in the fray once told me that the vrey best advice Harman could receive for his career is “Stop blogging”. Its a bit like what I believe Woody Allen said about money, “It allows you to be yourself” and in Harman’s case, that might not be such a good thing. Blogging allows a certain kind of unanticipated expanse. As for the Punk and the Larva, they make an interesting trio of undead slayers, and honestly, something interesting may come out of their highly manufactured hysteria.

    At the very least right now its a bit humorous. I say this as a White Ant.

  5. Kvond I was just busy drawing your sexuation graph as Phallic narcissism, but more about that later.

    Dyke you’ve been a BAAD BEAR and didn’t support dr. Sinthome at all in his defense of the Parody Center. I wondered earlier whether Dr. Strangelove isn’t still a brilliant satire because of the way it captured the double-bind operative at the heart of power, which later culminated in Eyes Wide Shut with the rich able to perpetrate Satanic rituals in broad daylight. But I also see the forming of this tight butt triumvirate consisting of onticologists with Messianic properties a kind of a self-parody of themselves. Sooner or later their openness and their crossed networks will end up closing in on them, but the point of brilliant philosophy is to stay open to the bitter end.

  6. So sorry Dejan, I was enjoying that post ‘vicariously’. So nice to see you properly appreciated.

    Kvond aka White Ant, ‘a bit humorous’ is nicely calibrated. So ‘avoid folks who bring you down’ is good advice like ‘get more fiber in your diet’ is good advice, whereas long disquisitions on bowel function and feverish insistence on the merits of full colonic irrigation are a bit humorous.

  7. Just how far do you think this metaphor of academia as “the network” will extend before it snaps?

  8. All I know is that first, you’ve got to get mad.

    You’ve gotta say, “I’m a human being, goddammit! My life has value!”

    So I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window, open it, and stick your head out and yell,

    “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!!”

  9. Ok, that’s it, I’ve had it. Having followed the links provided here, I’ve decided that K-punk is off my own blogroll. This is only a symbolic gesture, and I’m sure he won’t cry himself to sleep over it, but it’s really too bad; I used to think he had something to say. But this isn’t the first time I’ve seen him try to cast himself in the role of the “gatekeeper” of “the network” or “the collective” and it’s starting to disturb me a little. This is the last time I’m going to read about his “project” (whatever that might be) with a straight face, while he moans on and on about how people are constantly trying to deflate it.

    For someone who seems so sure that anything but black and white statements of truth are a form of “mental illness”, K-punk sure seems pretty light on substantial truth-claims and heavy on the pomo cultural fluff.

    I guess I’ll have to miss out on the magnum opus on Michael Jackson *eye roll*…

  10. Gatekeeper sounds like a lot of work. By all means let’s just leave that to him.

  11. Ever notice the camera angle at which this clip is shot? I mean, really, I assume it’s obvious but you never can tell.

  12. Yes, it’s awesome. I also love how Sterling Hayden keeps his focus and manic intensity despite his struggles with that cigar, which he evidently has no idea how to smoke without getting it all up in his eyes. And Peter Sellers’ face is priceless, that neutral mask one puts on when dealing with deranged and volatile people, with just the slightest hint of sadness showing around the eyes.

  13. K-punk admiringly quotes Harman thusly:

    “The method I propose is to replace the piously overvalued ‘critical thinking’ with a seldom-used hyperbolic thinking… In the case of any author who interests us, we should not ask ‘where are the mistakes here?’, as if we hoped for nothing more than to avoid being fooled. We should ask instead: ‘what if this book, this thinker, were the most important of the century? How would things need to change? And in what ways would we feel both liberated and imprisoned?’”

    This sort of hyperbolic thinking is, as I understand it, the premise behind “hyperstition”. By envisioning a fictional reality and then collectively occupying it and letting it expand around you, eventually it becomes a material reality. I think Graham would like his speculative universe to expand in this same way, from fictional reality to really real. Assemble the network, occupy the territory, and act like it’s already real. The connection with Dr. Strangelove is appriate in this context, and played itself out in Iraq with the neocons asserting that “we don’t adapt to reality, we create reality,” or words to that effect. I’m not saying all hyperstitional experiments are intrinsically fascistic, and I do believe that reality-so-called is as much a social construct as a state of nature. But Graham and Mark are allied in seeing the necessity of purifying the essence of the network by denying the existence of nay-sayers inside the hyperstitional reality. They’re mentally ill, weak in the nerves, undead, parasites sucking the energy from the brave and the strong-willed and resolute, not even real except to the extent that we Nietzschean creators acknowledge their reality. Terrible.

    You’d think k-punk would love the hauntological properties of the grey vampires: the return of the repressed, the vague nostalgia for what has been surpassed but that retains its uncanny presence and force inside the new reality. Maybe he does.

  14. That’s very interesting John. You know, I’m not inclined to ashcan Heidegger just because he was also a big fat Nazi, but in my passe’ critical-thinking way I do look for affinities among styles of thought and practice, and you may have found one here. The triumph of the Will is all very well unless Schopenhauer was correct about the nature of the Will.

    Ironically, the work of purification (with its corollary death camps, figurative and literal) is Latour’s target in We Have Never Been Modern, a book Harman correctly identifies as Latour’s masterpiece, says he has read many times, and spends considerable effort figuring out how to undermine.

  15. Anodyne, Yes…removal from the blogroll is a first (and perhaps last) step. And I know that this is not easy for you in the sense you have always tried to turn to the positive (that is, interesting) aspects of his writing. But I felt the same with Levi (and a little bit the same with Harman II). But once the name disappeared from the list, it felt better. With Harman I missed his regular updates on the typical Egyptian fellows, and with Levi his alternations between self-hate and self-brilliance. Honestly, I have never read K-punk much, other than tracing back some thread of blog talk in an investigation that always resulted in “Oh, that’s where they got that crap”. This recent, now long lasting, undead talk is just the acme of that kind of experience.

    John, This is the thing. If we apply this hyperbolic thought analysis to Harmanism, or even Levism, or Punkishness, especially on this Undead trip, you pretty much end up with a horrific century. Or, to put it another way, if you apply Tool Analysis, you end up with a 3 tools.

    Carl, The philosophical blogosphere was a different place before infatuated megamania became the trading card everyone passed around. I supppose if you hype each other enough, invent all kinds of (or even a therapeutic class of) enemies, pat yourself on the back enough, you might produce enough “density” to sell a few books. But, whatevs.

    The worse thing for me is that so much of this is dragging a first rate intellectual and social scientist through some pretty trite muck. I mean Harman is always talking as if Latour is on the edge of agreeing with him about his metaphysics principles, and surely it is nice to have some guy proclaiming your work, seemingly spreading it to the masses (so that he can piggy back his own rather otherwise uninteresting thoughts); but one has to wonder if Latour enjoys the company he is keeping (or the “Network” his name has found itself in). Perhaps my worry for Latour is misplaced, but I suspect the Three Crazies were not what he had in mind.

  16. Kvond, Latour is first and always an anthropologist. I suspect he’s done science and has selected philosophy as his next village of wacky natives to study. He’s doing his fieldwork now. Just a guess.

  17. Purifier of Networks has a nice ring to it. Perhaps we’re in a for sequel.

    I’m impressed with how easily one’s manner of earning income and subsisting becomes a “project” (versus a job or career) over and against the labor of others in the Punktopia–it must have something to do with being picked up by broadsheets and selling books about the vagaries of capitalism.

    Throw something out there into the marketplace of ideas and you’re going to get consumer reports, mostly weighing negative. You could ask anyone who’s been successful in any industry and you’d hear the same story about how higher visibility invites all kinds of death threats and hate mail (neither of which Harman or k-punk receives, unless they’ve been holding out on us). If you’re the type of person who takes a critical blog comment so personally that you believe it’s a serious blight on your career and good name, and a drain on your intellectual energy from which you’ll never recover to “project” on another day, you’re just not cut out for that industry.

  18. Carl: “Kvond, Latour is first and always an anthropologist. I suspect he’s done science and has selected philosophy as his next village of wacky natives to study. He’s doing his fieldwork now. Just a guess.”

    Kvond: Egads. You mean he has stopped studying the village and started studying the village idiots?

    AL: “in any industry and you’d hear the same story about how higher visibility invites all kinds of death threats and hate mail (neither of which Harman or k-punk receives, unless they’ve been holding out on us).”

    Kvond: My goodness, if Harman got a death threat I think he would be in Nirvana. Can you imagine? Remember that “lawsuit” he barely survived?

  19. I was thinking of writing a post adding a new character to the troll taxonomy- basically a pedagogue with imposter syndrome, unipolar depression with psychotic features and a marked persecution complex. But I can’t think of a snappy name. Green ghoul?

  20. But I can’t think of a snappy name. Green ghoul?

    Michelle Malkin

  21. Yeah, exactly. For some reason, I had imagined all of those Malkin caliber psychos were going to slink away as their party crash landed and scattered along the scorched earth- but no, they’re still out in force.

    I get naive like that when I’m desperate and need to believe.

  22. “If you’re the type of person who takes a critical blog comment so personally that you believe it’s a serious blight on your career and good name, and a drain on your intellectual energy from which you’ll never recover to ‘project’ on another day, you’re just not cut out for that industry.”

    One more time, in chorus with feeling – yes, staying away from people who bring you down is a good idea. But for the love of monkeys, AL, you’ve nicely diagnosed this maddening conjunction of fragility and entitled projection.

  23. An old friend who’s now an academic department chair told me about a junior faculty member, brilliant and reasonably productive, who failed to get tenure mostly because people in her field and in the department regarded her work as obscure and boring. She had spent most of her six years systematically dismantling the theories and findings of her old PhD advisor. Eventually she succeeded, but her advisor’s work was itself already ignored as an unimportant tangent. This person got too hung up on overthrowing her personal Big Other instead of developing her own line of research.

    No creative work comes out of a vacuum; as Derrida observed, on some level everything is a commentary on what came before it. You get lured into danger when, instead of standing on the shoulders of giants or trying to topple them over, you let your passions get fixated on a 98-pound weakling. K-punk implicitly warns against this: don’t let yourself get distracted either by trolls or by troll-masters; get on with your own project. Good advice that.

  24. “But I can’t think of a snappy name.”

    Nor I. But how about this for a diagnosis of some of the cases you’ve been discussing?

    Narcissistic personality disorder(NPD)

    A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:

    1. has a grandiose sense of self-importance
    2. is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
    3. believes that he or she is “special” and can only be understood by, or should associate with, people (or institutions) who are also “special” or of high status.
    4. requires excessive admiration
    5. has a sense of entitlement
    6. is interpersonally exploitative
    7. lacks empathy
    8. is often envious of others or believes others are envious of him or her
    9. shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes

    Pathological narcissism occurs in a spectrum of severity. In its more extreme forms, it is narcissistic personality disorder. NPD is considered to result from a person’s belief that he or she is flawed in a way that makes the person fundamentally unacceptable to others. This belief is held below the person’s conscious awareness; such a person would typically deny thinking such a thing, if questioned. In order to protect themselves against the intolerably painful rejection and isolation that (they imagine) would follow if others recognized their supposedly defective nature, such people make strong attempts to control others’ view of them and behavior towards them.

    Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is isolating, disenfranchising, painful, and formidable for those diagnosed with it and often those who are in a relationship with them. To the extent that people are pathologically narcissistic, they can be controlling, blaming, self-absorbed, intolerant of others’ views, unaware of others’ needs and of the effects of their behavior on others, and insistent that others see them as they wish to be seen. With narcissistic personality disorder, the person’s perceived fantastic grandiosity, often coupled with a hypomanic mood, is typically not commensurate with his or her real accomplishments.

    People who are overly narcissistic commonly feel rejected, humiliated and threatened when criticised. To protect themselves from these dangers, they often react with disdain, rage, and/or defiance to any slight criticism, real or imagined.

    Narcissistic rage is a reaction to narcissistic injury (when the narcissist feels degraded by another person). When the narcissist’s grandiose sense of self worth is perceivably being attacked by another person, the narcissist’s natural reaction is rage and to pull-down the self worth of others (to make the narcissist feel superior to others). It is an attempt by the narcissist to soothe their internal pain and hostility, while at the same time rebuilding their self worth.

    Narcissistic rage also occurs when the narcissist is perceivably being prevented from accomplishing their grandiose fantasies. Narcissistic rage is frequently short lasting, and passes when the narcissist rationalizes the shame that they felt. Rage comes in many forms, but all pertain to the same important thing: revenge.

    Narcissistic rages are based on fear and will endure even after the threat is gone. To the narcissist, the rage is directed towards the person that they feel has slighted them; to other people, the rage is incoherent and unjust. This rage impairs their cognition, therefore impairing their judgement. The narcissist perceives every disagreement – let alone criticism – as nothing short of a threat. He reacts defensively. He becomes indignant, aggressive and cold. He detaches emotionally for fear of yet another (narcissistic) injury. He devalues the person who made the disparaging remark.
    By holding the critic in contempt, by diminishing the stature of the discordant conversant – the narcissist minimises the impact of the disagreement or criticism on himself. This is a defence mechanism known as cognitive dissonance.

    Like a trapped animal, the narcissist is forever on the lookout: was this comment meant to demean him? Was this utterance a deliberate attack? Gradually, his mind turns into a chaotic battlefield of paranoia and ideas of reference until he loses touch with reality and retreats to his own world of fantasised and unchallenged grandiosity.

  25. “retreats into his own world of fantasised and unchallenged grandiosity”

    Yes, you too can have a blog! Just disable that comments facility and post, post away! You’ll be deliriously psychotic in no time, guaranteed. And it’s absolutely free! Why not try it today?

  26. Dude, are you writing an unauthorized biography of Graham Harman?

  27. Hey look buddy, we’re strictly amateur armchair shrinks here. No poseurs with officialish diagnostic verbiage please unless you’ve actually done a personal consult. Try to stick to preposterous fabrications by obvious sock-puppets with ludicrous names like Dr. Hugo Z. Hackenbush or Larson E. Whipsnade. So “Man, I Wish I Had a Project” could be Herr Dr. Prof. Manuel Wichita Duenstuff or somesuch. Cheers.

  28. So “Man, I Wish I Had a Project” could be Herr Dr. Prof. Manuel Wichita Duenstuff or somesuch. Cheers.

    Well it’s not my problem that you’re a good-hearted top bear so you don’t realize that the parody succeeds precisely in crossing over that limit, of the personal, while keeping the victim completely transfixed and unable to launch anything more than impotent rage, like Nate from What the Hell, who told me I was a dickhead because he’s such a Marxist lesbian. You always settle for your 1950s middle class Americana, with your moderate and tempered attacks, careful not to get ”personal”. I mean even Kvond has more sense in this regard than you.

  29. Touche’, dickbreath.

    Eh, it’s just not my style. Most of the time. But I admire and enjoy it when it’s done right. Did you think the long quote from DSM qualified?

  30. The DSM doesn’t get into the detail of Otto Kernberg’s musings on the idea that the narcissist creates a grandiose self because he doesn’t have a cohesive internal self, what psychologists liked to call the LOCUS CONTROLAE. A narcissist, in this view, IS his grandiose, distorted mirror image. What lends crediblity to this view is the clinical observation that the pathological narcissist will suffer experiences of ”defragmentation”, whereby he literally falls apart. This certainly indicates that things inside aren’t glued together properly, that some coherence is lacking, and so on.

    But more in your waters, I am sociologically extremely appreciative of Christopher Lasch’s work, and I think that we ended up in a narcissistic capitalism; only as Jan Svankmajer noted as an intro to his brilliant movie LUNACY, we are not exactly Narcissus, we are now Narcissus’s reflection; there is no danger of defragmentation because it already happened, and there’s only individual fragments of the mirror left.

    We shall see whether the Gothic Horror Nerd club manages to discover that there’s a way for these fragments to function in a network, relate to each other, while staying apart.

  31. “Dude, are you writing an unauthorized biography of Graham Harman?”

    No, but we’ve both witnessed him provide virtual textbook examples of most of the symptoms mentioned in the passages cited – not least the ‘narcissistic rage’ part. Of course, no such list of merely empirical characteristics could ever exhaust his subterranean essence / molten core. However, contrary to his own pet conceit, I think they reveal a whole lot more about him than would the violent impact of an inanimate object upon his skull, however much more entertaining the latter might be for the rest of us.

  32. But before you ask, no, Herr Duenstuff does not advocate wanton violence. Twas merely a joke.

  33. I am sure all of this will be reported to the Master and he will rage against you and me and Carl and the old lady that was walking by… It will be bad, I tell ya, real bad.

  34. Indeed. Brace yourselves comrades, trolls, grey vampires, and all those who have been deemed ‘without a project’ the world over, for the Wrath of Dr Zamalek commeth … Precious bodily fluids have been sucked, and now The Narcissistic Rage shall surely commence …

  35. Sorry I’ve been away from the exchange, but this is absolutely hilarious. Well done:

    1. has a grandiose sense of self-importance
    2. is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
    3. believes that he or she is “special” and can only be understood by, or should associate with, people (or institutions) who are also “special” or of high status.
    4. requires excessive admiration
    5. has a sense of entitlement
    6. is interpersonally exploitative
    7. lacks empathy
    8. is often envious of others or believes others are envious of him or her
    9. shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes

  36. I know, I know. I laughed too. And I know I started this. But diagnosis of borderline-psychotic mental illnesses crosses a line. The thing is, if it’s an accurate diagnosis then that’s a terribly painful way to live (see VPR@33 on Kernberg and the constant threat of coming unglued – I’ve seen that happen and it’s awful), so on the principle of diagnostic point #7 it’s not so cool to poke at it. If it’s not an accurate diagnosis then casting it is slanderous. And if we’re just talking about shadings on a narcissism continuum we all occupy (as VPR@33 suggests in citing Lasch), then this is a mirror trap we might do best to avoid if possible, for our own therapeutic benefit.

    I’ve been irritated as we all have by the whole troll/grey vampire thrust, in large part because it goes crudely ad hominem based on a thin observation of conduct that gives very little purchase on actual persons. A safer and more humane approach would be to address the offending conduct directly, perhaps even just as a difference of style or convention. I’m not saying I’ll accomplish that ideal and I’m not making a rule for others, but I’m not interested in deploying armchair psychologizing as a counter-caricature. And I really liked John’s advice @24. Hey Dejan, how’s this for some hausfrau moralizing.

    It just occurs to me that my principle of discomfort with this turn in our little blogwar is that I do not agree with Harman that object essences are sealed and receding, and I do not agree with Latour that the object is fully deployed in each interaction. So although our nemeses are showing us their uglies, that is not all they are, and what’s left of all they are is still present and potential in the interaction, e.g. as feelings that can be needlessly hurt. We are there as whole persons in each of our interactions, but not all of us is called forth from time to time.

    Look at the consequences of believing otherwise, namely that what you see in each interaction is the whole person, or alternatively that the essence of the person is never there and can’t be touched. In the first instance you can attack without hesitation or remorse because there’s nothing beyond the bad behavior that’s bothering you. Scorch the earth, they asked for it. In the second instance you can do the same, because it’s not going to touch anything important; the object is sealed from any causal alteration by anything you do. Both of these positions license dreadful behavior – the behavior we’re criticizing.

    I realize that at least one bad consequence of my view is a feeling of power as I imagine the devastating effects my behavior can have on seen and unseen dimensions of the Other. But if in fact I do have that power, even if just in a limited dialectical sense, it seems to me the right thing to do is to try to be responsible about it (call me Spiderman).

  37. Carl: “I’ve been irritated as we all have by the whole troll/grey vampire thrust, in large part because it goes crudely ad hominem based on a thin observation of conduct that gives very little purchase on actual persons. A safer and more humane approach would be to address the offending conduct directly, perhaps even just as a difference of style or convention.”

    Kvond: Well, this is the thing, and you touch on this a little latter in your post, this has to be taken as something more than merely an irritation. IF these fellows ideas are to be taken seriously – and Lord knows they are crying out to be taken so – aside from the pevish, gradeschool mentality going on here of name-calling, they are working towards what Graham Harman calls “a full-blown” ethical theory. And while no one of the proponents seems to realize that Niezsche said more on the direction they are heading than 1000 Harmananics could dream up, this “ethical theory” matters. And it is precisely in this vein that the posting of the diagnosis matters. I also agree that if indeed Harman (and the few of his pipers) is a “full-blown” Narcissist this is a painful thing. And I suspect as well that there is a little bit of real “crazy” in Harman; but this is probably nothing more than a character flaw that gets magnified an incredible number of times given the technology. The illusion that you have legions of loyal fans/readership unfortunately goes all to well with Harman’s adolescent theory that the way you write philosophy is under the fantasy that you are going to be taught in schools for centuries upon centuries.

    Carl: “Look at the consequences of believing otherwise, namely that what you see in each interaction is the whole person, or alternatively that the essence of the person is never there and can’t be touched. In the first instance you can attack without hesitation or remorse because there’s nothing beyond the bad behavior that’s bothering you. Scorch the earth. In the second instance you can do the same, because it’s not going to touch anything important; the object is sealed from any causal alteration by anything you do. Both of these positions license dreadful behavior – the behavior we’re criticizing.”

    Kvond: I have made a similar point in regards to Harman’s tounchless object-essences, that this removal enacts the very removal he feels from others and plays into his odd megalomania. It is exhibited in his thinking that he can and should try to touch/effect others and not be touched himself – the perfect blogopsyche. The undead are simply those that get through his defenses.

    But I had not though through on the parallel side to Latour, and I like that. I immediately turned to Spinoza to solve this problem because he is very close to Latour in many ways. A person indeed is fully deployed in each instance, but there is an architecture of drive and possibility and connection that ethically requires us to make the best of other persons and situations, despite this. The force of this indeed is missing from Latour, because the power of rational explanation is missing, something that Spinoza makes the backbone of ethical thought.

    So while I am unsure if the ethical problems can be strictly divided into detached essences, and Occasionalist ephemera, these are very important points to be made. It could be that what draws Harman to Latour is the combination of Occasionalist freewheeling action against other things, with his own brand of videogame attack. In any case, I believe that a full-blown ethics in this direction is something that has to be fought, and ethically so. Maybe this is just three “tools” that have found each other on the Internet, and their own, unique brands of blogged self-aggrandizements have nicely melted together under the thought of a common and perhaps socially diseased enemy, but these people are also trying to theorize for others, to set the tone for what passes as non-instutional para-academic thought. Never mind that each of their thoughts-theory are half-baked and don’t even agree with each other, when its lowest common denominator is the factor that becomes the crude organizing power in the minimizing of others, if there is a blogged community, it should take a stand, and repeatedly.

  38. Yes Kvond, this is all very well said. I very much like the image of the character flaw magnified and distorted into a full-blown psychotic persona by the funhouse mirrors of web technology and discourse (with us supplying some of the optics, of course). This meshes nicely with the analysis by Lasch that Dejan cites.

    Could you say more about a Spinozan “architecture of drive and possibility and connection?” I think I get what you mean but that formulation is very compressed and it’s a very important point.

  39. I agree with Carl in that we do tend to judge people based on a very small sample of their behavior online and it’s just not right and you can insert here any theory of why it is so – now, I don’t think anyone of us can really escape the charge of being a narcissist, yes, I hear your “speak for yourself” cries but still, we are blogging so there must be a narcissistic streak here – but this willingness to dismiss people based on such a small sample is disturbing indeed. I think we all judge people and all, but most think twice before declaring actual real people to be a waste of time and some such, here we are dealing with a group that dismisses people and their questions based on their virtual behavior and in addition creates a whole theory of why such people need to be dismissed, that’s what irritates me the most.

  40. I agree Mikhail. However, what we’re dealing with is not simply the pathologisation of any less-than-wholly-reverential criticism or request for clarification and the insistent demonising of any and all critics. No, what is most disturbing is that this kind of behaviour is not only being aggressively championed as the highest of moral code that others ought to follow, but is even being rationalised to the point that it is said to follow from OOP’s basic metaphysical principles. Witness this, for example:

    “Style is philosophically important because it says things without saying them. This is meaningful to me because I think objects touch other objects without touching them; that’s the core of my position in metaphysics.

    Style is arguably the most important issue in all of philosophy. I do not exaggerate … Consider our knowledge of people. The visible actions of people help us get to know their underlying character, but never do we treat people as a history of explicit actions that they have undertaken; this is a fantasy of existentialism, a school long since discredited. No, we read behind the known actions of a person to gain a sense of some inner personal core that has never been adequately expressed in any number of their actions or statements. We get a “bad feeling” about a person, without being able to state the exact features of their behavior or appearance that generate this feeling.

    This is also why I think that emotion is underrated as a cognitive tool. Emotional reactions to people and things have to do with a general overall sense of the goodness or badness or frightening or beneficent nature of these people and things, without being able to articulate exactly what the feeling is telling us. These emotional reactions can be wrong, but so can reasoned arguments.”

    Thus, according to this, the inarticulate “bad feelings” we sometimes get about certain people when we first meet them, far from being something that ought to be held in check or overridden by our rational faculties, actually count as “cognitive tools” that provide us with “knowledge” about the “inner personal core” of people. This knowledge is defeasible, yes, but no less less so than are rational arguments.

    But it gets worse. Consider how Harman was persuaded of the veracity and moral imperative of employing “grey vampire” label:

    “When I first heard this concept, it sounded vaguely plausible, but I wasn’t sure I knew any grey vampires, and told K-Punk so. But bells rang in my head when I read this part of his post:

    ‘Another tactic – particularly effective at wasting time and energy this one – is the claim [by grey vampires] that all they want is a few clarifications, as if they are just on the brink of being persuaded, when in fact the real aim is to lure you into the swamp of sceptical inertia and mild depression in which they languish.’

    This really nailed it home for me, and finally made sense of a person who made me furious for two whole years without doing anything openly hostile. He was a grey vampire, all right. Apparently open and friendly, but always finding some “problematic” point, although rather than trollish contradiction he would ask for clarifications, then pretend to be “puzzled” about one or two things that he didn’t really care about in the least.

    The bottom line is this … Just pay close attention to whether any given person makes you feel more energized and excited about thinking, or less energized and excited. We all have a perfectly good animal sense of this basic division of human types, but then we paper it over with rationalizations. (The same distinction, of course, works just as effectively and urgently in personal life, where it is possible to spend months or even longer rationalizing the inherent goodness of someone who’s really just draining you dry.)”

    (Notice here that he says he was made “furious for two whole years” by someone who would merely “ask for clarifications” or express puzzlement, then refer back to description of “narcissistic rage” above. One can only imagine that the poor fellow was trying his best to be tactful, knowing full-well the petulant rage that would ensue were he to express his criticisms any less delicately!)

    Thus, one can only assume that the core lesson of the promised “full-blown ethical theory” will be something along these lines: Trust your animal instincts! They are the surest guides for sniffing out trolls and vampires and other energy-suckers! If someone asks you for clarifications or expresses puzzlement about what you say: BEWARE! They’re just trying to sap your energy! Avoid such people at all costs! They shall be as the devil to you! Surround yourself with sycophants and obsequious cheerleaders! This is the fundamental basis for both ethics and intellectual productivity! Mark my words, for I have published BOOKS!

    And we’re even being promised an entire book on this “ethical theory”!

    I agree with Carl that “diagnosis of borderline-psychotic mental illnesses crosses a line” and so, as owner of the blog, if it concerns you that much, please just remove all my posts from the thread. However, while a line may have been crossed here, note that we have by no means even begun to stoop to the same despicable level as some of those we are talking about here.

    But at the end of the day, my only real concern in all this is that intellectual mountebanks and charlatans who pose as philosophers (and I do not include the author of Larval Subjects in this description, by the way) not be allowed free rein to warp and infest impressionable young minds with their pernicious sophistry unimpeded. The fact that they have largely gotten way with it so far comes down to the simple fact that precious few credible philosophers or other intellectuals have yet taken any real notice of their work (or if they have, have had better things to do that to set about laying waste to it in print). However, that will soon change, and I have no doubt that this irrationalist hokum will be exposed for what it is. In the meantime, unfortunately, we can only expect more of the same. (In fact, given that our self-proclaimed Great Philosopher is currently espressing nostalgia for times when people were not only “excluded from this or that intellectual circle” for their heretical ideas, but “were in fact burned at the stake or thrown into dungeons and tortured” – see latest post – we can pretty safely assume that it’s going to get a whole lot worse!).

  41. Carl, I’ll respond to the Spinoza question in a few hours when I can sketch it out. I agree it is of utmost importance to the dichotomy you framed.

    MWD: “We get a “bad feeling” about a person, without being able to state the exact features of their behavior or appearance that generate this feeling.”

    Kvond: Yes, something like the “bad feeling” people got in the South when looking at some Negros.

    MWD: “But at the end of the day, my only real concern in all this is that intellectual mountebanks and charlatans who pose as philosophers (and I do not include the author of Larval Subjects in this description, by the way)”

    Kvond: I honestly don’t know why some want to give the Larva in his relatively underdeveloped psychosis the break here. He has definitively aligned himself with the both of these amigos, and displays something of the same buried “rage”, and its justifications, that Harman does. As you have no doubt seen: http://kvond.wordpress.com/2009/07/04/what-larval-subjects-loves-to-hate/

    Is it for you that Larvus is somehow more “well-meaning” in his hatreds and his lumping of trolls and vampires with the evils of society? Or is it that he is simply innocent as a babe is, not knowing what he is saying? I make not distinction between these three fellows who have worked to make a resilient, and morally superior, network of themselves.

  42. Yep, agreed, including the part where it’s of some importance to oppose the mission creep from ‘I don’t like this’ to ‘this is ethically wrong’ of a particular style preference for interpersonal relationships.

    That said, I’m not actually all that worried about this conversion of tastes, interests and biographical quirks to grand ethical systems per se, because first I agree with Marx, Nietzsche, Wittgenstein and Bourdieu that this is normally how ethics happen and second, because it follows that the ethical system itself has little traction beyond its emergence from and continuing fit with the conditions and conventions of the person or community proposing it. Rawls is very nice e.g. but there aren’t a lot of people out there explicitly attempting to live rawlsian lives. In fact as an intellectual and cultural historian I’ll propose that high ethical systems are among the most gaudy yet least consequential of human artifacts. As I’m afraid Spinoza demonstrates in spades. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

    In this respect all the stuff about “tools” finding each other and recruiting and translating really is very important. The ethics will be like a marketing brochure which, if it’s written right, will flatter and remind some people of what they think already and allure them into the network with their own reflection. It’s interesting in this respect to read Harman’s intellectual autobiography in the interview over at the Heidegger blog. He tells a story of shopping for ideas, adopting the ones he agreed with already and rejecting the ones he didn’t, certainly refining his thoughts in the process, until he became confident and accomplished enough to just chuck the lot and say it his way. I wonder if that’s how he expects his own thought to be treated.

  43. Oops, missed 43/44 in composition. Pardon me if I overspoke.

  44. Carl: “He tells a story of shopping for ideas, adopting the ones he agreed with already and rejecting the ones he didn’t, certainly refining his thoughts in the process, until he became confident and accomplished enough to just chuck the lot and say it his way. I wonder if that’s how he expects his own thought to be treated.”

    Kvond: What is interesting is that this is pretty much HOW his thought is treated. Almost no one actually considers it as rigorous in its own right. There is almost no causal theory, but simply causal fantasy. Even Levi, his loyal compadre, has almost no truck with his vacuum packed objects. What really seems the case is that people VERY loosely like some analogies and thought-images of his thinking (the “cottonball-fire” image operates as something like a meme), and chucks all the rest. In short, there are no OOPers. This is the fun part about “speculative”.

    But then he alternately fantasizes that his thinking is going to be taught centuries from now, that it is written to dominate philosophical discussion. What we really have a case of here is philosophical schizophrenia.

    I like the connection to his “shopping” metaphors. It dovetails perfectly into his almost completely substanceless addresses to Spinoza’s philosophy, which he ended up dismissing as a stock which is currently overpriced. This guy is building a philosophical portofolio it seems, and is pitching Internet Bubble philosophy trying drive his own stock has high as it can go. Pretty much inane.

  45. Mmmff. MWD you’ve hit some nails on the head. Let’s listen to General Ripper: “I first became aware of it, Mandrake, during the physical act of love. Yes, a profound sense of fatigue, and a feeling of emptiness followed. Luckily I was able to interpret these feelings correctly. Loss of essence.” Right, how lucky is that – an impenetrably self-confirming conclusion.

    That stuff about using feelings as cognitions could just suggest a point of contact with certain interesting feminist arguments, but to me it’s chilling. A few years ago someone very close to me suffered a descent into paranoid psychosis. She had always believed herself to be a quick and accurate judge of people; as her affliction grew in scope she became convinced that she could interpret the thoughts and feelings of others in detail at a glance. At one point we were on the highway and a truck passed going the other way, combined speed about 120mph. The cab was typically higher than our car, the sun was reflecting off the windshield, and from what I could tell the driver was wearing sunglasses (I could not tell you if it was a man or a woman). My friend turned to me and said with irrefutable certainty, “That man hates me.”

    Now granted this experience, repeated often over two years of unsuccessful attempts to get my friend to seek therapy, has made me hypervigilant where paranoid styles of thought are concerned. I think I know it when I see it, but unlike my friend I am not certain. Which is why I was both the right person for my friend to have around and exactly the wrong one too. And why I’m both quick with diagnostic hypotheses and slow with diagnostic conclusions.

    Re: deleting comments, I’m a historian. I don’t erase history, but if necessary I give it a different frame. You’re welcome here and I appreciate your contributions to this conversation.

  46. “Yes, something like the “bad feeling” people got in the South when looking at some Negros.”

    Yes, but perhaps those crackers were in fact wielding a (nowadays sadly undervalued) “cognitive tool” and had seen through to the “inner cores” of said “Negroes”. Perhaps you just ain’t got the “style” for it, dude 😉

    “I honestly don’t know why some want to give the Larva in his relatively underdeveloped psychosis the break here … Is it for you that Larvus is somehow more “well-meaning” in his hatreds and his lumping of trolls and vampires with the evils of society? Or is it that he is simply innocent as a babe is, not knowing what he is saying?”

    No, I think that the fact that he has apparently chosen to debase himself in this way of late by employing this pathetic tactic of demonising his critics is indeed regrettable. (In this respect I see him somewhat as an innocent child in the playground who has fallen in with a group of bullies who are themselves too stupid to deal with criticisms and have persuaded him that he needs to ‘stick up for himself’ more: i.e., “Don’t give them your time by responding to their requests for clarification! Can’t you see that they’re just trying to sap your energy?! Just call them names and throw stuff at them! Be like us!”)

    However, my point was about philosophical charlatanism, and I do not think that he is, in fact, a charlatan (constant wavering to the point of outright self-contradiction and frequent volte-faces on important philosophical issues, while more than a little baffling to the casual observer, does not in my book make one an intellectual fraud, and on the basis of what I’ve read on his blog at least, I think he can be a pretty damn good philosopher when he wants to be).

  47. Hahahaha, thanks Carl: that quote from Dr Stangelove is uncannily apt here. (I think I’ll even dig my DVD out and watch the film again this weekend – it’s been a while since I saw it.)

    I totally agree with everything else you’ve said, too – and sorry to hear about your friend. Mental illness is, indeed, nothing to joke about (as anyone knows who has had to deal with it first hand) – except, of course, in the context of a masterpiece like Dr Strangelove – and one shouldn’t bandy about ‘diagnoses’ willy-nilly (not something I’m typically disposed toward doing in general anyway).

    Cheers.

  48. MWD: “He tells a story of shopping for ideas, adopting the ones he agreed with already and rejecting the ones he didn’t, certainly refining his thoughts in the process, until he became confident and accomplished enough to just chuck the lot and say it his way. I wonder if that’s how he expects his own thought to be treated.”

    Kvond: Well, when the wavering and self-contradiction cannot be readily and productively acknoledged by the said person (and the alternations between rage and self-debasement that ensue), this pretty much makes one an philosophical fraud in my opinion (who knows, maybe you are the non-causal observer Larval Subjects himself writing this message).

    But perhaps we have a different opinion about what makes a Philosopher. The thing is Philsopher is pretty much like the designation “Poet”, and when you spend a lot of the time calling yourself one, or pretending to be one, it makes it pretty unlikely that you ARE one. And Larvus dearly and deeply WANTS to be a philosopher, which explains his endless retreats into explication (not of HIS point, but someone else whom he is borrowing from). He really doesn’t understand his own thinking, but rather likes to DISPLAY his knowledge in the typical professorial way…wait a second let me write ten pages on Lacan’s diagram of sexual difference, contributing nothing of my own, oh, you didn’t have the patience to yet again read through another one of those, you must not be taking my thought seriously. His arguments almost always retreat into the thistles in this way, like a guy who is supposed to know kung-fu, and breaks into all kinds of memorized katas and yowls, practiced in the mirror, each time his threatened. Hit him once, and he’s down. I’m sorry, he’s not much of a philosopher in my book. In fact Mikhail who is accused of pretty much making book reports, is more philosophical in my view, showing a genuine love for ideas that do not prop himself up. But I reserve the designation of “philosopher” to very few persons.

  49. @50, thanks man. What’s interesting from my experience is how transparently the aggressive certainty and resort to feelings was an attempt to foreclose any possible disconfirmation. Facts in evidence are subject to procedural verification, but our feelings are uniquely our own and immune to dispute. Sort of like a little fortress to hole up in against a big mean old world.

  50. Carl: Sort of like a little fortress to hole up in against a big mean old world.

    Kvond: I do not mean this analogy lightly, because I believe there are conceptual connections having to do with “networks” and their deployment (but not too heavily either…): The name of the organization comes from the Arabic noun qā’idah, which means foundation or basis and can also refer to a military base. The initial al- is the Arabic definite article the, hence the base.

  51. “What really seems the case is that people VERY loosely like some analogies and thought-images of his thinking (the “cottonball-fire” image operates as something like a meme), and chucks all the rest.”

    Now see, I would be content with this. So now we know what’s wrong with me.

  52. @52 Absolutely! Things have gone so far lately that an alleged philosophy is openly proclaimed to the public, in which one does not have to WORK, but need only hearken and attend to the oracle within, in order to gain complete possession of all the wisdom to which philosophy aspires. And this, moreover, in a tone which shows that the proponents of this philosophy are not at all inclined to align themselves with those who – like mere scholars – consider themselves obliged to proceed slowly and circumspectly, but are able, rather – like men of genius – to accomplish by a single piercing glance within them everything that industry can never hope to achieve, and a good deal more besides. In sciences that require work, such as mathematics, natural science, ancient history, linguistics etc., and even in philosophy, so far as it is obliged to confine itself to methodological development and systematic arranging of concepts, may a person perform with pride, in the pedantic style; but none save the philosopher of intuition, who makes his demonstration, not by the Herculean labour of self-knowledge from below upwards, but soaring above this, by an apotheosis (which costs him nothing) from above downwards, can it be given to perform with superiority; since he is here speaking from his own observation, and is not obliged to be answerable to anyone else. … The principle of wishing to philosophize by influence of a higher FEELING is the most suitable of all for the tone of superiority; for who will dispute my feelings with me?

  53. [Back to the Spinoza answer to a Harman/Latour ethical exclusion]

    Carl you perceptively: ““Look at the consequences of believing otherwise, namely that what you see in each interaction is the whole person, or alternatively that the essence of the person is never there and can’t be touched. In the first instance you can attack without hesitation or remorse because there’s nothing beyond the bad behavior that’s bothering you. Scorch the earth. In the second instance you can do the same, because it’s not going to touch anything important; the object is sealed from any causal alteration by anything you do. Both of these positions license dreadful behavior – the behavior we’re criticizing.”

    And I responded: “A person indeed is fully deployed in each instance, but there is an architecture of drive and possibility and connection that ethically requires us to make the best of other persons and situations, despite this. The force of this indeed is missing from Latour, because the power of rational explanation is missing, something that Spinoza makes the backbone of ethical thought.”

    You asked me to clarify the architecture of drive, possibility and connection.

    Indeed Spinoza asserts that the essence of something is fully deployed in concrete reality, so much so that he can be read as a kind of Occasionalist, but he does not collaspe into a Latourian flat ontology because he possesses to distinctions one of which Latour shares but seems to make very little out of. The expression of Substance occurs in degrees of Being, which means that as I possess more adequate ideas I grow both more powerful and more Joyful, and this increases the degree of Being that I have. Spinoza’s ethical argument is somewhat cybernetic, in that our own increases in power are augmented by the increases of power of others who are like us. This puts upon us a selfish imperative to help free other persons with an almost ecological sense of ethical combination. But selfishness is an interesting concept in Spinoza. Each thing strives to preserve itself, but as we through pleasure and joy seek to preserve ourselves the very boundary between self and others is undermined as an ultimate categorical distinction. Instead, the boundary between myself and others (including other objects) is a boundary of specific causal interactions and determinations, the more we know of them, the more powerful or self-determining we become. Our self becomes more powerful the least like an isolated “self” it becomes. In this way, quite distinct from Latour, rational understanding of ourselves, why we think the way that we do, why we feel the way we do, is directly linked to our ability to understand things in the world (and thus our respect for them)

    You also wrote: “Rawls is very nice e.g. but there aren’t a lot of people out there explicitly attempting to live rawlsian lives. In fact as an intellectual and cultural historian I’ll propose that high ethical systems are among the most gaudy yet least consequential of human artifacts. As I’m afraid Spinoza demonstrates in spades.”

    Kvond: I don’t really see such a comparison between Rawls and Spinoza to fit at all. Spinoza’s Ethics is an entire psychology, epistemology, social theory, political theory, hermenuetics of which you cannot extract “the ethical”. He is pretty much the first systematic ethical arguer for a liberal democratic republic, arguments of which likely had lasting effect upon the actual evolution of Democracy in the West. Unless you consider liberal Democracy a “gaudy human artifact” the comparison passes out the door. But even on a personal level, Spinoza’s ethics is extremely easy to deploy, and can make changes in the way the world is seen instantly. I for one experience strong ethical reversals (and necessarily perceptions) simply by applying Spinoza’s rule of thumb ethical prescriptions. In this sense Spinoza presents both a great architecture of rational inclusion and analysis, AND highly effective guidelines for thinking and acting. I would have to understand more the so-called “ethical gaudiness” with which you regard Spinoza’s thinking, and why you feel that way to answer in more depth, but Spinoza’s ethics are designed to be of the most pragmatic natures, making difference here, right now, in this instant.

  54. Ermm, I may have pinched a bit of that from Herr Kant of Koenigsberg …

  55. MWD: “The principle of wishing to philosophize by influence of a higher FEELING is the most suitable of all for the tone of superiority; for who will dispute my feelings with me?”

    Kvond: Nietzche, for one.

  56. (Apologies: I realise that it’s not cool to post long passages from Kant. I just thought this somewhat apt.)

  57. @58 Of course, there need be no intrinsic objection to one’s using any means of expression one likes. But in the case of metaphysics we find this situation: through the form of its works it pretends to be something that it is not. The form in question is that of a system of statements which are apparently related as premises and conclusions, that is, the form of a theory. In this way the fiction of theoretical content is
    generated, whereas, as we have seen, there is no such content. It is not only the reader, but the metaphysician himself who suffers from the illusion that the metaphysical statements say something, describe states of affairs. The metaphysician believes that he travels in territory inwhich truth and falsehood are at stake. In reality, however, he has not asserted anything, but only expressed something, like an artist. That the metaphysician is thus deluding himself cannot be inferred from the fact that he selects language as the medium of expression and declarative sentences as the form of expression; for lyrical poets do the same without succumbing to self-delusion. But the metaphysician supports his statements by arguments, he claims assent to their content, he polemicizes against metaphysicians of divergent persuasion by attempting to refute their assertions in his treatise. Lyrical poets, on the other hand, do not try to refute in their poem the statements in a poem by some other lyrical poet; for they know they are in the domain of art and not in the domain of theory. … Our conjecture that metaphysics is a substitute, albeit an inadequate one, for art, seems to be further confirmed by the fact that the metaphysician who perhaps had artistic talent to the highest degree, viz. Nietzsche, almost entirely avoided the error of that confusion. A large part of his work has predominantly empirical content. We find there, for instance, historical analyses of specific artistic phenomena, or an historical-psychological analysis of morals. In the work, however, in which he expresses most strongly that which others expressthrough metaphysics or ethics, in Thus Spake Zarathustra, he does not choose the misleading theoretical form, but openly the form of art, of poetry.

  58. @51 Well, I don’t consider myself qualified to go around bestowing the honoric “Philosopher” in such an exalted sense to some and denying it to others. My point was simply that, from what I’ve seen, I don’t regard Levi as a charlatan, and believe that he may have (in spite of all the vacillations), something valuable to offer to philosophical discussion – something I do not believe to be the case with regard to his two comrades-in-arms.

  59. MWD: “My point was simply that, from what I’ve seen, I don’t regard Levi as a charlatan, and believe that he may have (in spite of all the vacillations), something valuable to offer to philosophical discussion – something I do not believe to be the case with regard to his two comrades-in-arms.”

    Kvond: Hmmm. If the standard is merely “something valuable to offer to philosophical discussion” I’m really unsure why you deprive the Great Harman this distinction, for the by so-granted philosophical Larvus’s lights Harman indeed is the inspiration of a whole host of discussable items. If you find Larvus so very philosophical, what do you make of his philosophical inspiration taken from those you otherwise regard as “charlatans”? The baby is splashing around in his philosophical bathwater, isn’t he?

  60. Herr Doctor, take for example Levi’s absurd by favorable comparison of the philosophical worth of Harman’s book-report on Latour “Prince of Networks, to Deleuze’s work on Foucault:

    “If Graham’s study of Latour is so unique and exciting, then this is because he approaches Latour not as a sociologist, but as a philosopher. In form of reading not unlike Deleuze’s approach to Foucault or to great artists, novelists, and cinema, Harman reveals a highly original– and relevant –philosopher in his own right. Thus, extending the comparison of Graham’s Prince of Networks to Deleuze’s Foucault, Deleuze in his great Foucault book, approaches Foucault’s thought not as a series of historical or sociological analyses of various things such as madness, discipline, the human sciences, etc., but rather as the work of a great philosopher proposing a very new and highly original account of the nature of knowledge. While Deleuze certainly touches on all of Foucault’s great archeological and genealogical studies, it is this question of the nature of knowledge that is at the heart of his book. Likewise, while Graham certainly delves into Latour’s various sociological investigations, his approach to Latour is so unique insofar as he reads Latour primarily as a philosopher proposing a new ontology.”

    http://larvalsubjects.wordpress.com/2009/04/

    For anyone who has read Graham’s book the comparison is flat out embarassing. If indeed the Larva is the source of significant philosophical discussion, I have no idea how you would eliminate both the supposed chef’s palate, and the ingredients he uses. Graham has produced a profound book worthy of Deleuze, says Levi. Graham is a charlatan, says you.

  61. @62-63 I don’t think it follows from the fact that I don’t share Levi’s opinion of Harman’s work that if I regard the latter as a charlatan I must also, on pain of consistency, so regard the latter. I clearly haven’t spent as much time reading Levi’s stuff as you have; but yes, I find the influence of Harman’s ideas on his recent musings lamentable indeed (even if it’s clear to me that he’s by no means buying into them wholesale). But I take it that even an intelligent (let’s say) student of philosophy can at times allow themselves to be temporarily swayed by the suave rhetoric and flattering solicitations of a wily mountebank, especially if the former believes (however misguidedly) that there is some valuable symbolic capital to be gained from such an association.

  62. Ah, let’s see.

    Levi is a fine example of a philosophical mind whose worth is to be weighed by not reading his posts too thoroughly (or too often), and is based upon understanding his recent, largely unfortunate (intellectual and ethical) inspiration taken from Graham Harman and K-punk. I’m not sure what is left of this worth, given these qualifications, but hopefully there is enough for you to enjoy in the future. (One wonders if you have read those you consider to be “charlatans” equally as improximately as you have Levi.)

  63. Well, put words in my mouth as you will; I’ve said all I have to say on this subject for now and it’s getting quite tiresome, so I’ll leave it at that.

  64. Forgive me if I summarize your points and opinions in a way that seeks to either discover their non-polemical nature, or their justification. If all you mean to say is: I like Levi and I don’t like Graham Harman and K-punk, hey, why not just say so?

    For my part if Levi wishes for distinctive political and intellectual reasons to ally himself with the rhetoric/reasoning of these two, he is also distinctly responsible for his alliance. The good of Levi by my experience has been exhausted by either his “I am but a bricoleur” (hear the heavy French accent on the last word), or endless class explications of the position of others. I suppose in a sense the ethical alignment of his professed hatreds with the reasoning of so-called and diagnosed Grey Vampires and Trolls only proves his thinking more hollow, and a touch more dangerous because so aligned.

  65. Now now, friends, I see little to gain other than gratuitous inflammation from splitting hairs over Levi’s status as a philosopher. Kvond has said he sets a high bar, so that’s that for Kvond. At a more conventional bar Levi is a philosopher because that’s what his degree and paycheck say, and it would be silly to dispute that. As for the quality of his thought, we’ve reached the point where agreeing to disagree may be prudent. I personally find him interesting because of the sources and some of the products of his bricolage, a method I wish he would adopt so thoroughly as to abandon his apparent yearning for grand metaphysical system. This would make him less of a philosopher no doubt, but for me that’s not automatically a bad thing.

    MWD, both the Kant and the Carnap quotes are a scream. Apt and hilarious. Kvond, thanks very much for the Spinoza clarification. There are a lot of claims on decisive influencing of the Western democratic tradition, including all manner of Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Iroquois, women, and suchlot. But it turns out that the narrow range of ethics that will get a democracy to work are pretty universally rediscovered in the normal course of things when for other reasons the occasion appears to give democracy a go. Saying this does not, in my view, diminish Spinoza as a philosopher. As a pragmatist I’m thinking he would agree. Anyway, as usual you’ve made me think I should read some Spinoza.

  66. I agree with Carl’s admonitions up there; the disorders a few of us have tossed out there are seriously debilitating, and the way I made a joke of them may contributed to a sort of “victim blaming” as regards the mentally ill, which I’ve loudly denounced when I’ve seen it happening elsewhere.

    But I will say in my own defense that, as others have suggested, I wasn’t at all serious, and I don’t think any blogger I’ve ever read actually suffers from these illnesses–I think the internet itself is an inherently narcissistic medium, and can amplify or conjure up otherwise latent/non-existent traits in someone who is, in their everyday life, an all-around stand-up, certifiably normal sorta guy. There’s a performative dimension to this space we call “the network”, and I think some of the characters we’ve created need a little reigning is, is all…

  67. Carl: “But it turns out that the narrow range of ethics that will get a democracy to work are pretty universally rediscovered in the normal course of things when for other reasons the occasion appears to give democracy a go. Saying this does not, in my view, diminish Spinoza as a philosopher.”

    Kvond: Forgive again, but I’m in the mood to take people’s statements literally, or at literally enough to investigate them (and pissed off a bit that MWD grants himself the right to the same loose name calling he condemns others for, “charlatan philosopher” is fine, “Grey Vampire” evil).

    I don’t get it Carl, Spinoza’s ethics (the whole book is called Ethics) is a gaudy artifact whose historical role of argumentation had no real bearing upon the development of the ethical goods of Democracy, because the same “narrow range of ethics” would have come up from somewhere, each of these ethical exemplications themselves not gaudy artifacts, but genuine historical influences (if I follow you). Huh?

    In fact, there is some strong evidence that liberal Dutch democratic thinking, of which Spinoza likely presents an acme, heavily influened the Dutch Settlement of New Amsterdam (and for instance the adoption of the some of the said Iriquois principles or practices. And while this is not directly due to Spinoza, Spinoza’s teacher Van den Enden did have influence upon some of the most radical democractic colonial experiements of the day. As Spinoza presents the most systematic conclusion of these sentiments and reasonings, I’m really unsure how his work falls into mere, gilded artifact, since the gilding itself (its rational coherence) is the very thing that likely give it is historical staying power, and influence over the 100s of years.

    As to Spinoza’s arguments for civility, differing a great deal from the Hobbesian model that “man is a wolf to man” (is Hobbes also a mere producer of gaudy artifacts, instead of a genuine influencer of real politial decision and action???), provide a mode of analysis which shows that human beings are socially bound by both imaginary relations and rational reasons. Is not this imaginary vs. rational the very basis of your preferred Marx? (Is Marx’s Capital another encrusted artifact of human beings?) When Althusser turns to Spinoza to clarify Marx is this artifaction? When Negri moves to Spinoza to criticize and explain Capitalism, is this mere ethical showmanship. I just don’t get your distinctions.

    If you read Spinoza, If you haven’t read it, you might like his Theologico-Political Treatise. Very easy to read, fairly radical.

  68. Kvond having read this attack on my client I concluded that your discours may be represented by Le Graph Discourse Kvondique in which all the S’s, small or big, stand for Spinoza, while the equation is encircled by a huge Phallic shape indicating the Phallic narcissism that the equation generates in the anamorphic distortion. In this way you have transformed into Spinoza’s cock.

  69. Murmured Psychotic Explanation,

    “For example, Salvador Dali, in attempting to reproduce his delusions, may go at length about THE rhinoceros horn; he had not for all that left neurotic discourse behind. But when he starts comparing goosebumps to a fielf of tiny rhinoceros horns, we get the feeling that the atmosphere has changed and that we are now in the presence of madness. Is it still a question of comparison at all? It is, rather, a pure multiplicity that changes elements, or becomes. On the micrological level, the little bumps “become” horns, and the horns, little penises.”

    Deleuze and Guattari, 1000 Plateaus

    I realize that you are still high from Levi’s elevation of your status from Grey Vampire, to Pervert and therefore Analyst (he’s like a royal with these knightings, sword in hand), but as Deleuze and Guattari describes, you see penises everywhere.

  70. you see penises everywhere.

    Ok so you’re a Spinozian pussy. But anyhow, Kvond, irrespective of dr. Sinthome’s adulation, I feel that I have protected your ass from both the narcissistic cat’s and the other audiences’ booing, while all I got in return is your injured Spinozissism manifesting itself now and then in snide remarks. I have truly been CHRISTIAN to you, Kvond. But you like the Cross so much, that you’d rather play Judas on Dr. Sinthome’s table. You are a profound masochist, Kvond, and it’s about time you faced it.

  71. “I like the connection to his “shopping” metaphors. It dovetails perfectly into his almost completely substanceless addresses to Spinoza’s philosophy, which he ended up dismissing as a stock which is currently overpriced. This guy is building a philosophical portofolio it seems, and is pitching Internet Bubble philosophy trying drive his own stock has high as it can go. Pretty much inane.”

    Kvond, I’m very curious about whether Harman, Bryant (whose work I’m mostly familiar with through his blog), and K-punk have ever worked in a corporate setting. I’m guessing that they haven’t, since it was immediately striking to me how closely some ANT rhetoric resembles the sort of garbled corporate-speak I was subjected to while working in the private sector.

    This isn’t to say I don’t admire Latour, I just recognize how the logic and lingo of ANT might “dovetail” quite nicely with stuff of corporate seminars on “How to bypass gatekeepers and influence people” and “Building morale: how good managers leverage human resources”. As Zizek fans are fond of asking: what does the political economy of this philosophy [ANT] look like? I’m not sure, but I know it sounds a lot like the rhetoric of multi-national corporations, globalization, and the triumph of finance capital. This is the kind of objection I figured to hear from K-punk’s camp about ANT, but I don’t see it happening; I see what looks like three very disparate groups joining along a set of points that they don’t even agree upon.

    It’s all quite confusing to watch on unfold the level of personal blogs, to be honest. I’ve had to refer to Harman’s books in an effort to understand why he was adopted by people like K-punk in the first place, and I still don’t fully understand why.

  72. Well first off Kvond, we all know that rigorous, systematic, propositional exposition is not what I’m good for. So you’ll get this instead:

    The problem is that the sketch you offer @70 to support Spinoza’s significance is nowhere near an adequate network analysis even of Dutch democratic thinking, let alone its translations to and from the Americas, the general context of the development of European mercantile democratic practice through the Hanseatic League, the Italian city-states, the Swiss cantons, the English Civil War (Hobbes, Locke, theory-spinoffs of forces in play); the joint-stock company, insurance and other risk-management instruments, coal deposits in northern England, the creation of ‘free’ labor through destitution of the countryside and so on; not to mention the horrors that could be both financed and exported through the discovery of those Americas in conjunction with the opening of the African coast (so much for civility) and so on. And the thing is, when people actually do sit down and grind through that kind of analysis, as for example the Annales School did in their own way, they never find individual thinkers or even thinking at all, except in the pragmatic sense of working with constraints and affordances, as the critical threads. Now you know why I’m so ironic about Harman’s ‘project’ – it’s not that it could have been important instead.

    It’s a form of charming but delusional self-flattery, when it’s not just laziness, to pick out high intellection as the motor of anything but itself. Involved, yes, peripherally. Expressing and translating other stuff that’s going on, at its best yes. Nice to see, given that we’re humans and we like ourselves better than the climate and sheep reproduction rates under different grazing regimes, yes. A liminal nudge in some non-linear ways, sometimes; but that must be shown. And now I see I’ve hopelessly compressed an argument that’s animated my field for generations, and made us incomprehensible aliens to our peers, so I’ll hope I’ve made some sense and stop.

  73. Carl, [sorry I was delayed, but believe it or not I’ve written three responses, and all of them were lost to computer freeze up, geez]

    I have to say that I find your dichotomies extremely curious, though perhaps this is due to my status as a lazy thinker, as opposed to your robust, ab-hard Network thinking.

    I’d say that your list-analysis of causes for early American ideas on democracy (ignoring the fact that you think that things like “the romans” or “the Greeks” exist in influence without highly influential texts) suffers from two fatal problems. The first one is a problem of history itself, the second is conceptual.They are related.

    1). Your muscle-flexing list of course exclude the figure of Van der Donck who in the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam excersized incredible political and ideational influence (the two cannot be separted out). This West Dutch India employ fresh from his course in Law at the University of Leiden, where he was indoctrinated by the Father of international law, Grotius, distinctly bears the mark of the Cartesian rationalism (those gaudy artifacts). Indeed Van der Donck parlayed his intimate knowledge of the Law (both in fact, and conceptually) into tremendous personal influence upon the events and conceptions at New Amsterdam. Perhaps more than any of other factor (though surely all that is needed is that he be a significant influence) Van der Donck steered the proto-democracy values of early America, not to mention that he was an Early, if the the first American Indian ethnographer to give decisive value to the principles of both Mohawk and Mohegan practices. Clearly his evolving position as both a political figure and a lawyer wielding the Law was distinctly shaped by the Rationalism of Descartes in very important ethical ways. Pile on all the other causal chains, and without the line from Descartes to Grotius to Van der Donck you have a very different picture.

    2). The enormous problem is that NONE of factors on your list precludes the very influence I am speaking to, which is the philosophical manifestation of a risely free, Capitalized subject, the very thing that Spinoza theorized to the most systematic degree. In fact some of your causal forces are VERY closely aligned to the philosophical conceptions Spinoza wrote on, in particular the coming of Insurance and stock companies. Several of Spinoza’s close contemporaries worked on actuary calculations (both his partial collaborators Hudde and Huygens), and Spinoza himself was a former merchant very familiar with these changes. At the time there was no ultimate distinction between the mathematics of insurance, that of optics, and the search for metaphysics that grounds each of these. In fact the former could not occur without the latter. The sociological creation of a individualized, free subject ran quite parallel to the metaphysical conceptual structuring of one. But more than this, as I have argued elsewhere [http://kvond.wordpress.com/2008/09/20/why-spinoza/ ], it is your list of economic, political, commerical and factual causes that actually gives Spinoza’s metaphysics its greatest traction for current times. In that his metaphysics bubbled up precisely at a time of democractic and Capitalist experimentation (read Negri on this if you like), that his condensation of those events into a systematized analysis of the social and the ethical is of the greatest importance for us. Our Age is composed of much of what had been aborted in the Early Dutch Republic, and much of those ideals/causes/organizations are captured in its texts.

    Related to both of these points. Apparently you view Spinoza’s writings (I wonder if you feel this about his conversations and friendships) as mere trinkets of history. I sincerly don’t understand. Are you not aware that Spinoza was having real effect upon real historical figures and movement of his day? The De Witt brothers were thought friends of his. The radical Koerbagh brothers even closer. Spinoza’s role in the Collegiants seems to have been rather significant. His radical teacher Van den Enden was executed for conspiracy against the throne of France, after a trial. Clearly these fellows all regarded ideas as sacrosanct. Are you really of the impression that texts and arguments to be to nude of the world that “It’s a form of charming but delusional self-flattery, when it’s not just laziness, to pick out high intellection as the motor of anything but itself.” Van der Donck’s “high intellection” and profound effect on actual events. Van den Enden attempted an assasination on Louis come out of the “high intellection” of his theories. Or to take another example from the realm of science, Kerckring, an anatomist of the day (as were nearly all microscopists then) strongly influenced in his discovery by Spinoza-like Cartesianism, determining just what the microscope told him. I have no idea if “high intellection” is the motor of anything, and I don’t recall myself using such a mechanical metaphor. What is clear is that “high intellection” has heavy historical consequences, just as inventions do, and coal shortages and what not. I have no idea why you would categorically divorce the one from the other.

    As a sidenote: I see though that you ignored completely the influence of Spinoza’s gaudy artifact upon your favorite son Marx.

    In short, I’m all in favor of a network analysis, but not one that that doesn’t understand the influence of the objects that express ideas. To think the 17th century without the real influence of Descartes upon real persons, is not really to think the 17th century.

  74. AL,

    Yes, there is some sympathy between Latour (or at least Networkism) and corporate strategy. It is directly relatable, but in fact really Network thinking has strongly influenced military strategy, and buisness organization almost always follows military organization. I’m reading The Scientific Way of Warfare (whichI hope to post on soon), and it makes this point forcefully.

  75. Paranoic One,

    Your intimate confesions projected onto me are of course endearing, and I have already noted to you that I observed your “coming to my rescue” when the Larvus as so busy attacking me – I note though that this simply provided you with an opportunity to Strike At Father, which as a perverse son you do quite well. And I savored that momentary alliance for it confirmed for a moment the “crazy” I saw in Larval. So if you have been Christian to me, this I already know. But I’ll leave your beneficient diagnoses involving penises and vaginas to the more honored guests at your table.

  76. Freudian slip up there @69 with “reigning” for “reining”…

  77. Carl,

    I’ve been thinking a little bit more on your thought that works of “high intellection” are nothing but “gaudy artifacts” of very little historical cause, existing in only one narrow band of a causal chain: works of high intellection only produce (or are the motor of) other works of high intellection. I am wondering which of the following qualify for you as works of “high intellection”:

    1. Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigation.

    2. Marx’s The Communist Manifesto.

    3. Freud’s Beyond the Pleasure Principle.

    4. Descartes’ Regulae.

    5. Vico’s New Science.

    6. Hobbes’ Leviathan.

    7. Nietzsche On the Genealogy of Morals.

    8. Negri’s Empire.

    9. Lucretius’s On the Order of Things.

    10. Gödel’s incompleteness theorems.

    If you identify any of these as works of “high intellection” do you honestly believe that they ONLY, that is categorically ONLY cause other workds of “high intellection” and nothing else?

  78. I feel my precious bodily fluids draining away…

  79. John D.: I feel my precious bodily fluids draining away…

    Kvond: They are gone John, but who has them?

  80. “You always settle for your 1950s middle class Americana, with your moderate and tempered attacks, careful not to get ”personal”.”

    …as if that’s a bad thing. Parts of this thread play out like a case study of Girard’s mimetic desire. It’s energizing to be sure, which according to Harman’s and Fisher’s criteria makes it Good Project. It seems that all of us contributing to this thread agree that the broad-brush demonization of critique/critics is a Bad Project worthy of counter-attack. I’m not averse to speculating about personal motivations and even pathologies that might fuel publicly-held positions. But in my view the personal bashing of individuals in a public forum is just another Bad Project. And also, I subscribe to the generally-held position that no one need feel obliged to reply to anyone else’s comments. Sometimes continuing a conversation is worse than cutting it off.

  81. Kvond, I apologize for my failure effectively to condense a couple of centuries of materialist analysis into a couple of paragraphs fully convincing to the staunchest idealist. Suffice it to say that I see no reason to blanch before any item on your list, Marx least of all since he is one of the original sources of the hash I am slinging, along with Spinoza just as you say, although my field competence does not extend that far back. And I am not speaking categorically, which is the wrong discourse mode for my side of the conversation and one of the sources of our disagreement here. In which, btw, you find yourself shoulder to shoulder with Harman who is equally offended by this sort of crass plebeian degradation of the noble concept.

    It’s ok man, I can hang with a toff idealist if you’ll stoop to consort with a vulgar materialist.

    AL, that’s a good one!

    John, I live to serve.

  82. Carl: “I apologize for my failure effectively to condense a couple of centuries of materialist analysis into a couple of paragraphs fully convincing to the staunchest idealist.”

    Kvond: So if you had say, reams of paper you then would produce just such an argument? From the base assumptions you start with it seems you just are not making sense. But are you under the impression that I, or even Spinoza, am/was an Idealist? Harman pulled this on me once when he claimed that it would take an entire book to explain why he finds Spinoza objectionable. Come on, an entire book? How about a few coherent paragraphs?

    Carl: “Marx least of all since he is one of the original sources of the hash I am slinging, along with Spinoza just as you say…”

    Kvond: Hmmm. Spinoza is both a man who produced works of “high intellection” which ONLY produce other works of “high intellection” but then some of his works of high intellection also produced Marx who begins the stuff you follow, (which you regard as not “high intellection” I presume). It sounds nonsensical.

    Carl: ” And I am not speaking categorically, which is the wrong discourse mode for my side of the conversation and one of the sources of our disagreement here.

    Kvond: Hmmm. Well, if you are not speaking categorically, you are speaking incoherently. One doesn’t have to be very abstract to ask the question, what does “high intellection” mean (this is your term), or please tell me what it means to “…pick out high intellection as the motor of anything but itself.” This sounds pretty categorical. That you also attach to people that would be so bold to think that “high intellection” does produce something other than high intellection, self-flattery, or simply laziness just adds to the insult a bit. Am I really being lazy because I think that people are organized by ideas as well as material causes? Or are you being lazy because you think that “high intellection is the motor of only high intellection” is a self-explanatory and rather obvious claim.

    Carl: “In which, btw, you find yourself shoulder to shoulder with Harman who is equally offended by this sort of crass plebeian degradation of the noble concept.”

    Kvond: If I am offended it is that you have called my questioning a form of self-flattery and laziness, not because you are plebian in your degredation. I am actually finding discussion with you rather similar to those I had with Harman. He says something that sounds a little interesting or provocative, but then when questioned is pretty incoherent in the kinds of explanations he offers. It is not the “nobility” of the concept I am defending, its the power of the concept, especially for explaining historical and social phenomena. When you take the concept out of the explanation (all the while using concepts to do so), and refuse to replace it with anything that does the job (for instance as I explained, referring ONLY to coal mines, and not to Descartes, Grotius and Van der Donck…i.e. being categorical about it), its not the cry of nobility that rises up, but simply the begging for coherence and sensemaking.

    If anything, the Dutch Republic in the 17th century was about taking the power of the concept away from the aristocracy, and putting it in the plebian hands of others who could to some degree control their destinies through the conceptual understanding of their causes. This is the source of the ethical consquences of the concept, quite in keeping with Marx, who you seem to favor.

    (In case you don’t know, Spinoza does not place the concept above the material, but makes them parallel. He is neither a materialist, nor an idealist – though all materialist descriptions are welcome. Everything has a parallel material cause/s and an ideational (or one might say informational) cause/s.)

  83. The senate, again, is full of squabbling delegates. You can’t do anything against the Triumvirate like this, GIRLS!

  84. Ah, Kvond. I’ve seen you go all badger on other people before. It’s never been the right thing yet, but there’s always a first time.

    “Spinoza is both a man who produced works of “high intellection” which ONLY produce other works of “high intellection” but then some of his works of high intellection also produced Marx who begins the stuff you follow, (which you regard as not “high intellection” I presume). It sounds nonsensical.”

    It would, yes, if I regarded the stuff I follow as not high intellection. Did I ever say it wasn’t? When did I say what I followed was important? Illuminating sometimes, maybe, in the way understanding turbulence is illuminating when you’re going over the falls in a barrel. Again, there’s a reason I’m ironic about Harman’s ‘project’. It’s not because it could have been important instead. Go ahead and ignore both of us. Nothing will come of it.

    “Well, if you are not speaking categorically, you are speaking incoherently.”

    Good philosophical point. But again in the understanding turbulence mode, these are not the only two options. Relations are neither stable categories nor incoherent noise. Marxian dialectics gets pretty close sometimes to showing how the world is no kind of stable categorical stuff but rather networks of relations. Latour thinks he’s gotten beyond dialectics in this regard in We Have Never Been Modern and when I’m in the middle of reading that book (but not other times) I agree. Serious people chuck this whole lot and learn the math to follow chaos theory, non-equilibrium thermodynamics, and suchlike. Or they do real network analysis. I am not a serious person.

    For all us lazy dinosaurs in the humanities, what are we to do with our thinking when the categories won’t sit still? Nietzsche’s good for this too, although if you’re not careful he leads to postmodernism which is just a give-up move. If I was going to be any kind of philosopher at all, it would be a ‘philosopher of the dangerous maybe’.

    Kvond, it’s possible we haven’t learned anything since Spinoza. What would that mean? I have a colleague who would substitute Aquinas. Still happy?

    “Am I really being lazy because I think that people are organized by ideas as well as material causes? Or are you being lazy because you think that “high intellection is the motor of only high intellection” is a self-explanatory and rather obvious claim.”

    I know I’m lazy, for you I don’t have enough data. And perhaps I’ve misread, say, Pierre Bourdieu’s oeuvre, starting I think for this conversation with Distinction. If not, it’s pleasant to have some matters settled and not subject to endless re-debate.

    “I am actually finding discussion with you rather similar to those I had with Harman. He says something that sounds a little interesting or provocative, but then when questioned is pretty incoherent in the kinds of explanations he offers.”

    I think it’s awesome that we’ve both found a way to accuse each other of harmanizing, as if that was a mortal insult. Dejan is right just now, you know.

  85. “I feel my precious bodily fluids draining away…”

    John, you nailed it @24. I can’t imagine a better demonstration of the point than this thread, even though I’ve cherished much of it. I’m out; when I recover I’ll do what I can to change the subject with a new post.

    Btw, this has been by far my most ‘hit’ post ever, I’m afraid.

  86. I suppose that I made the mistake Carl of taking your request for a clarification of what you called an important ethical question in regards to Spinoza, as a clarification for something important about the world, (and not just an clarification in the rules for how Spinoza plays chess). If it was nothing more than this why did not not just leave my “but there is an architecture of drive and possibility and connection that ethically requires us to make the best of other persons and situations” as it was? Why did you press for an explanation, if this explanation was just some very non-important, non-world concerning mastabatory “high intellection”? “Could you answer this important question…p.s. whatever answer to give isn’t important at all.” This is how I experienced our digression.

    Now I understand, if I guess this right, that the “stuff you follow” isn’t very important. Ideas are the pastime of the elite, it seems you believe, and as an semi-elite you like to partake in them sometimes or another, nibbles of caviar and toast. Not very important, nothing that really matters. It seems that rather than me who has made the “concept” into a noble, non-plebian thing, it is you who has.

    I rather regard concepts and ideas as determinative of actions, the degree of our freedoms to which we are capable. How we think about things changes our possibilities. Just what form these ideas take, the genre in which they are expressed, is more a taxnomic question. The “idea” or “concept” of the clock, as we can see and as a recent book was telling me, expressed itself in any number of ways, including actual clocks, in the 17th century. The notion that one or several of those expressions simply don’t categorically count as historical significant seems pretty silly to me. The idea/concept of the clock actually mattered quite a bit to the Dutch Republic, not only for how sea navigation was done, but also who society was conceived (and how society is conceived to a great extent influences how it turns out, what it is capable of). So if I “go badger” on you, it is that I do not take ideas as the flatulence of the Aristocracy, as they feed off the poor. If you want to talk about ideas, lets not pretend we are playing parlor games, but take them seriously. Let’s not use terms like “high intellection” without definition or specific class reference, as if we are really saying something in our smoking jackets. It is quite a hypocracy to decry the noblity of the idea, while leaning back in your armchair, conceptualizing.

    Indeed, I take concepts and ideas to be the very things that DON”T belong to the aristocracy, that people, regular people, can think about themselves and their circumstances and discuss things, and be freer, relatively freer for it. And this goes for supposedly stupid things like “blogs” that people deem to be necessarily narcissitic. When people discuss ideas, they are not grasping the “noble” thing, they are grasping themselves, in a circumstance, and working themselves toward something that may not fully understand.

    But I take it a compliment to be found a Grey Vampire among the otherwise said Grey Vampires. Surely a sign that something is going right.

    I actually like your ways (mores) quite a bit, perhaps my favorite on the Internet, but the professorial, and the non-reflective nature in which you hold your own conceptual position of privilege is not in keeping with your better, altruistic and often expressed intentions. So, you like to dabble, and I like to dig. Don’t fault me for it. And by the way, I love Bourdieu (I think we are better persons for reading both him and Spinoza.)

  87. I like your ways too, Kvond. Perhaps we are just fighting different battles here.

  88. Btw, this has been by far my most ‘hit’ post ever, I’m afraid.

    The network feeds on malevolence. There is nothing in the world that people like more than tits ass and gossip. But why take Eloise Doyle’s Purist stance and see this as a threat to bourgeois quaintness, when you can feed on this endless source of malevolence in order to seed and fuel conversations. Conversations generate hits, and hits become memes. But to go there, Carlo, you need to unleash the butch top bear within. Not that submissive politically correct bear top, but the malevolent one who doesn’t want to conform.

    Kvond as I expressed at dr. Sinthome’s, but you didn’t have the guts to start a debate, is that your DISCOURS KVONDIQUE seems to convey something like this: you come in and you shit horribly on the opponent, dismissing him with a kind of a scorn of the righteous but peace-loving Buddha; then you suddenly open the opponent’s ass and you lick lavishly. ”OF COURSE Carl I didn’t mean to say that you’re horrible. I’m your number one fan.” The act is a bit like that woman in Stephen King’s MISERY, and I think you have a similar effect on the narcissistic cat.

  89. Sure. but as a White Ant I like to understand other people’s battles, so that they don’t just devolve into mere local War Lord skirmishes of habitus. Hopefully this is what battling is about. And while I thought we shared a great number of value points, I still am unclear just what your battle is. Perhaps you can post on what you are battling for, and what you think is at stake.

  90. #92 was addressed to Carl.

    As to the self-parodying: “Kvond as I expressed at dr. Sinthome’s, but you didn’t have the guts to start a debate, is that your DISCOURS KVONDIQUE seems to convey something like this: you come in and you shit horribly on the opponent, dismissing him with a kind of a scorn of the righteous but peace-loving Buddha; then you suddenly open the opponent’s ass and you lick lavishly. ”OF COURSE Carl I didn’t mean to say that you’re horrible. I’m your number one fan.”

    Kvond: I really don’t care to come to a conversation to “start debates” for those that have the desire for this really are those who just like debating for debate’s sake (and they generally don’t care what side they are on). What I am ever interested in when I enter a conversation is finding possible grounds for agreement. Part of this pursuit is discussing thoroughly the areas of disagreement (do we disagree because we don’t understand each other, or for some rather siginficant and intractable reasons). This can be contentious, but it can be also fruitful. Ever I want to get back to the grounds of agreement (and this was one difficulty I had with Harman, he wasn’t interested in our agreements at all, it seemed to deprive him of his “originality”).

    While of course as the continual pervert you would enjoy it if my contest with Levi or now with Carl was “shitting” on persons, and of course you hate it when it is called off in the name of genuine affection or uselessness. I am supposed to hate Carl, or hate Levi. Because you seem to think only in binary terms of orifices and organs, affection for you is only ass-licking, or vagina fucking, blah, blah, blah. Geez, Lacan did a lot for mental health. Well, I have a kind of affection for you which involves no oriface, and no organ.

    And I mean very much all that I said in criticism of Carl’s position, just as, if you noticed, I expressed my affection for Carl in terms of a criticism (which he was confident enough not to take up as an offense).

    I’m sorry if I missed your no doubt expansive writing at Levi’s house, but I don’t really read over there much (hence it is removed from my blogroll), and I certainly do not enter into the false section that is called “comments”.

  91. I’m sorry if I missed your no doubt expansive writing at Levi’s house, but I don’t really read over there much (hence it is removed from my blogroll), and I certainly do not enter into the false section that is called “comments”.

    Yes yes Kvond it all makes sense in your system until you get to the end part, you might have removed It from the blawgroll, but It stays with you regardless. It is what makes you tick, Kvond.

  92. While of course as the continual pervert you would enjoy it if my contest with Levi or now with Carl was “shitting” on persons, and of course you hate it when it is called off in the name of genuine affection or uselessness

    No I claim responsibly that your affection isn’t ”genuine” what a loathsome humanist psychotherapy term, but generated by enormous bile. This Spinozissism you preach me is a passive-aggessive maneouver, you’re saying ”I turn the other cheek” but what you really mean is my cheeks need spanking.

  93. VoPR: “Yes yes Kvond it all makes sense in your system until you get to the end part, you might have removed It from the blawgroll, but It stays with you regardless. It is what makes you tick, Kvond.”

    Kvond: You are so funny. Its also hilarious that what got me and Levi off on a bad foot, originally, was my attempt to make heads or tails to the kind of abuse he likes to take from you. I didn’t realize then the incredible intimacy between you, or the symbiotic way in which the two of you flirt — I suppose Lacanians have bond that only those in the cult feel.

    As to the Larvus himself, god bless him. I know its important for you that Levi is important to others, what can I say…

  94. VoPR: “No I claim responsibly that your affection isn’t ”genuine” what a loathsome humanist psychotherapy term, but generated by enormous bile.”

    Kvond: Is “genuine” a psychotherapy term? I’m sorry, I’m not familiar with the lingo, sorry if I spoke in code to you. What I meant of course is that it is genuine, that I am not aware of anything that is counter to it. I like your sense of humor and your general modes of parody criticism. Though I can see of course your sadism of pleasure in hurting others through the extremity of your comparisons, and do not approve…truth be told your sexualized attacks on Graham Harman was really what set him off from Good Natured Philosopher to the road of Vehement Abuser and Victim, before he shut down his blog. I pretty much take it that it was you that provoked him to close shop. He simply was not prepared psychologically to be attacked in this way, and surely your continous sexual attacks also pain him, which makes me wince a little.

    But bile, I have no bile for you. (Nice try at an orificeless and organless affection.)

  95. truth be told your sexualized attacks on Graham Harman was really what set him off from Good Natured Philosopher to the road of Vehement Abuser and Victim,

    Poor Diva, she couldn’t take the heat. But what you say (”set her off’) implies that she already had it in her; she just needed a trigger, and I gave her what she needed. That’s my business, not hurting per se, although purely in comedy terms I do enjoy it when bitches take it up against each other.

    What I meant of course is that it is genuine, that I am not aware of anything that is counter to it.

    Whoever said you had to be ”aware” of it? It’s also quite possible that you find yourself an extremely generous and courteous person, whose whole being reverberates with Spinozian equilibrium between mind and matter.

  96. VoPR: “Whoever said you had to be ”aware” of it? It’s also quite possible that you find yourself an extremely generous and courteous person, whose whole being reverberates with Spinozian equilibrium between mind and matter.”

    Kvond: [to continue our discussion at Carl’s blog expense – but maybe blog hits are piling up, and some can stumble upon his more interesting posts – you can always transfer your transference over to my blog]…

    …I don’t consider myself to be generous at all, I simply say what I think. I wouldn’t even know what it would be to think of myself as generous. As for courteous, I’m regularly accused of being incurteous by those I take to be rather over-sensitive and unconscious of their abuse. I do say thank you when I have gotten something of value, but that is about the extent of my courtesy. I generally treat others as I am treated, which often involves giving them a helping of what they dish out…as to being Spinozian, ha, I am very unSpinozian in character, much more Nietzschean, another fellow that was in need of Spinozist perspectives. Almost at no time do I try to model myself after Spinoza the person, its not really my way. Instead, at times, it is helpful to think using his analysis and prescriptions. This is something that Deleuze did as well, another rather unSpinozian Spinozist (though that is perhaps where the similarity between us ends).

    So, out of courtesy I have to thank you for giving me the opportunity to think on these things again, how Spinozian I might be, something of course your preoccupation with me affords. Forgive me if I do not thank you for much more at this time.

  97. People usually feverishly propogate misunderstanding/absurd stereotypes in order to generate and justify acts of violence. So, what is the act of violence here and who exactly is it that we are supposed to believe is a ‘vampire’? Who are we supposed to be ‘killing’ and why? What exactly is the background to all this? And who exactly is going to put a stop to it all?

  98. RadioRwanda, those are great questions. I’m sure this whole post and comment thread must look pretty odd to readers who are not in on the original little spat that motivated it. To be honest I’m not sure it’s worth backfilling those details, which are a little like a soap opera that only regular viewers could possibly find interesting, but I’ll try to see if I can respond to your more general points when I get a spare moment.

  99. Carl, I hope you realize that you have been named as the Keyser Söze of the cabal against Levi Bryant:

    “I mean there is clearly a conspiracy against him, but honestly I am blaming one person, one man who single-handedly organized and perpetrated this whole attack – Carl Dyke! You heard it, it’s all his fault! Why else would PE be so often associated with Dead Voles?”

    Your mild-mannered ways have be exposed.

    http://pervegalit.wordpress.com/2009/10/02/objectology-in-action/#comment-5937

  100. Fun fun. Thanks for the headsup. It’s always been my dream to be a dark figure of malevolence, but failing that I suppose I can settle for occupying that role in fantasy.

  101. I know I’m way late to the party, but that’s never stopped me before. I just want to say, it’s been a lousy day and this totally just made it better: “Nate from What the Hell (…) told me I was a dickhead because he’s such a Marxist lesbian.”

    That’s awesome.

    For the record, I am indeed a Marxist lesbian.

    Also for the record, what’s-your-face, I didn’t call you a dickhead cuz I’m a marxist lesbian, I called you a dickhead because you are in fact a dickhead.

  102. Due to an email prod I’ve revisited RadioRwanda’s questions; this is what I’ve come up with. Anyone who retains a shred of interest in this whole stupid business please feel free to amplify, correct or contest as needed.

    I liked RR’s questions but ultimately did not respond substantively because I decided that everything that needed saying (and much that didn’t) had already been said to the satisfaction (or not) of the interested parties. I also didn’t see any value in illuminating what was essentially a family spat for ‘outsiders’. If you’ve had trouble tracking the action without a scorecard, this is why. The blog medium is an odd hybrid of public and private – it’s out there for everyone to see, but the interactivity of it tends to concentrate into small in-groups that quickly evolve histories, private languages, jokes and overmagnified petty hurts like any clique.

    I’m actually not a clique kind of guy, so I’m fairly peripheral to the grey vampires thing. As I understand it, the originator of the typology was a blogger who goes by K-Punk. He’s something of an iconic figure on the edgy cultural Left, apparently; I read a couple of his posts at some point and decided he was too unbearably precious and smug for me, so he’s not part of my usual rounds, but others I pay attention to pay attention to him. Anyway, the general point I gather was to badpile people who he felt were interacting with him counterproductively and sucking his energy.

    This categorizing gambit was then picked up, that I know of, by Graham Harman of object-oriented ontology fame (also a blogger who has pissed away my attention) and Levi Bryant of Larval Subjects. I have watched both of these guys tend to overdramatize ordinary interactive dynamics and make self-serving snap judgments of people based on very little information. The troll/grey vampire thing seemed to appeal to them as enabling labels for this sort of operation. Here is the violence nexus you’re looking for, and as usual there would be (at least) two versions of the story: they would say that they get assaulted by these trolls and grey vampires who nefariously attempt to disable and wreck their projects, so they legitimately defend themselves; I (and some of my confederates on this thread) would say that the troll/grey vampire categories are far too simplistic and rigid to do any useful work of analysis in fluid ongoing interactions, and end up being nothing but power moves to stereotype and dismiss inconvenient people. Taken to a rhetorical extreme, the typology looks classically paranoid, which is the joke I was telling with the Dr. Strangelove clip.

    Given this process of conceptual evolution, I’m not sure any one person is the model for trolls (which is quite a common insult in blog circles, of course) or grey vampires. The idea again is that there’s a ‘type’. Dejan at CPC is certainly (and intentionally) a candidate for uber-boss-troll. The grey vampire label would be reserved for someone whose assaults are more subtle, taking the form of apparent dialogue with the apparent purpose of clarification and agreement, only to lead into a morass of confusion that kills momentum and saps energy. I think Levi might have Mikhail at Perverse Egalitarianism in mind as a grey vampire, since Mikhail kept wanting to talk about what Kant thought about this or that without ultimately being much interested in following Levi’s lead to a different way of thinking. Of course Mikhail’s perspective is that Levi had Kant wrong, and therefore the new thing Levi was trying to do was fatally flawed from the inception. Not surprisingly, that’s not what Levi wants to hear. Anyway, with this post on grey vampires and the sometimes undisciplined discussion that followed in the commentary, I have apparently been badpiled as a grey vampire myself. Which, from their perspective, I certainly am.

    The whole thing is funny to me, and a little bit irritating when I pay too much attention to it. No one involved has any real power to speak of and there’s nothing at stake but delicate feelings; it’s all a tempest in a teapot. The Huffamoose song I quoted and linked in a previous post captured something about my amusement and irritation. It’s ironic, sung from the perspective of someone who thinks he has recovered from being messed up and now wants to pass judgment from on high about other messed up people. He’s a new man, and his new problem is everybody else. Of course that’s just another stage of being messed up.

    Sorry I couldn’t supply any great insight on important doin’s. As for who’s going to put a stop to it all, that’s a question to worry about for eastern Congo but not for stupid little blog spats. These adults can stop it their own selves whenever they get sick of it.

  103. This should be a wikipedia entry.

  104. Eek! Lol – I know how little you think of wikipedia.

  105. Not at all. I love wikipedia!

    I just don’t like it when people quote wikipedia to me as if it were the substance of their own thinking (John Doyle does this sometimes), or when certain people beg to be included in wikipedia articles instead of just writing themselves in.

    Wikipedia itself is a beautiful example of how knowledge grows knowledge.

  106. Oh yeah, agreed then! Anything to add to my limited perspective on it all?

  107. Ha. I thought your summary pretty darn good. Perfect for those e-historians who go back and try to figure things out centuries in the future.

  108. These adults can stop it their own selves whenever they get sick of it.

    Who you callin’ an Adult?!

  109. Nah Kvond, they’ll all be getting their data from remote viewing and packing the true facts into knowledge pills for general consumption.

  110. Ah, that means they’ll remote view you typing that wonderful wikipedia entry. Talk about Eternal Return.

  111. Kvond, they already are; ‘Alexei’ is really a projection from that future, and once they get the Collider sorted out they’ll take care of all the grey vampires.

  112. Didn’t you read my post????! They will never get that collider sorted out! Grey Vamps are safe, all due to Higgs Bosons. Long live object oriented networks.

  113. Drat. You’re always trampling my dreams. And never not trampling my dreams.

  114. I tread…err…trample lightly.

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