I am extremely excited to see that Re.Press has announced the edited collection Nick, Graham, and I are putting together. Contributors will include Ray Brassier , Nathan Brown, Levi R Bryant, Gabriel Catren, Manuel DeLanda, Iain Hamilton Grant, Martin Hägglund, Peter Hallward, Graham Harman, Adrian Johnston, Francois Laruelle, Bruno Latour, Quentin Meillassoux, Reze Negarestani, Nicole Pepperell, John Protevi, Nick Srnicek, Isabelle Stengers, Alberto Toscano, and Slavoj Žižek.
I conceived the collection one drunken night as I was cooking dinner, full of warm and euphoric sensations from the chardonnay I was drinking (yeah I know, lame, but for some reason chardonnay makes me very euphoric, sentimental, expansive, affectionate, and happy whenever I drink it), and flush with excitement from reading Meillassoux’s After Finitude and from encountering Graham’s work, much to my embarrassment, for the first time. Prior to that, I only knew of Graham as the guy from DePaul (Loyola’s Continental rival) who had published a book fresh out of grad school and who was wearing a fidora in his books cover picture, i.e., I encountered him as an object of my envy and ressentiment. The original title of the collection was to be Post-Continental Realisms, but that title quickly got shot down– rightfully –by Bruno who observed that we have far too many “posts” in philosophy. “Let’s just do philosophy, eh?” At any rate, with the project fresh in my mind and wine diminishing my judgment, I immediately contacted Nick Srnicek, whose work I admire tremendously, who knows far more about the speculative realists than I ever will, and who I also owed for so generously citing me in his thesis.
Nick and I set about contacting the “big four” (Brassier, Grant, Harman, and Meillassoux), as well as others doing important work with a realist orientation (Stengers, DeLanda, Johnston, Hallward, Badiou, Protevi, Hagglund, Pepperell, etc). We were shocked and overwhelmed by the enthusiasm with which our proposal was met. Along the way we struck up a friendship with Harman and he did so much work promoting the collection that there was no way we couldn’t make him an editor. Graham is a work-horse, filled with enthusiasm for everything he does, and a mover and shaker. I really don’t know where he gets the time to do all that he does while also doing such creative and original philosophy.
As I sit here today, not even a year later, watching the articles begin to roll in, I am amazed by how much this project has changed my own thought process and philosophical orientation. One of the things I really like about this collection is that it is a work written by moles and being published by moles. Here I am not using the term “mole” in the sense proposed by Jon Cogburn, but rather in the sense of the old spy movies as someone who infiltrates a foreign organization and undermines it from within. On the one hand, nearly all of the contributors to this collection are moles in the sense that they are on the fringes of mainstream Continental philosophy, somewhat excluded from academia and traditional Continental scholarship. What made this strange alliance of moles possible– as moles are generally solitary creatures –was the internet, which allowed for networks of burrows to be formed, creating the possibility of strange cross-fertilizations of ideas and philosophical orientations that are otherwise so disparate. Although moles are generally peaceful creatures, content to burrow and feast on the grubs and delectable roots they find, nomadic mole armies are fearsome forces, despite their myopia. Indeed, their myopia or devotion to burrowing lines of flight are their strength.
On the other hand, Re.Press is a mole press, publishing the work of authors and thinkers that otherwise would have a great deal of difficulty getting their work published by more mainstream Continental presses, due to the manner in which these works tend not to be organized around commentary on a particular thinker. In this respect, the name “Re.Press” is a double entendre, capturing Freud’s dictum that repression is always accompanied by the return of the repressed.
However, if Re.Press is a mole press, then this is because through open access publishing that makes its texts available to the general public online, it allows for networks of burrows to be formed, alliances to be forged, that would otherwise be significantly restricted by exclusive paper publishing. Like the scene in Fight Club where Ed Norton’s character beats himself up, the voice-over remarking that something has been growing around and behind his boss that couldn’t be seen, open access publishing as well as blogs allow for mole collectives to be formed that skirt the established hierarchies of the academies and the morphogenetic role they play in defining the canon. If you read Peter Gay’s biography of Freud you discover that a mere handful of psychoanalytic theorists managed to transform the world through weekly meetings in Freud’s living room over coffee. The internet intensifies the formation of such networked assemblages and alliances. Moreover, it is high time that we Continentalists shoot back at ridiculously priced presses like Continuum and Palgrave that both inhibit the propagation of thought, hurt academic careers by keeping the work of emerging authors in obscurity due to the price of their texts, and that promote a sort of implicit elitism by restricting readership to those that can either afford the texts or who have access to a good library. And, of course, there are all the ecological issues behind paper publishing as well.
As far as my own contribution to this project goes, I’d like to express my great thanks to Jon Cogburn, Nick Srnicek, Reza Negarestani, John Protevi, and Nathan Gale for the exceedingly helfpul comments they gave me on my article “The Ontic Principle: Outline of an Object-Oriented Philosophy”. While not shirking on critical comments, all of you have been extremely encouraging and helped me to better develop my own vague intuitions. I owe all of you.