Boring Stuff About Me

Only slept for about an hour last night. Bleary eyed and can hardly see straight. At any rate, Jeremey Dunham, Mark Edward, and Nick Srnicek’s reviews of my Difference and Givenness are now available on Global Discourses: A Developmental Journal of Research in Politics and International Relations. I am truly humbled and full of gratitude for their thoughtful and positive reviews. I am also gratified to have been selected for a book symposium in this way. In addition you will also find my response to their reviews.

In response to one of my posts over at Deontologistics, Traxus writes:

latour and social constructivism is a tricky issue. he’s not technically a social constructivist, but his metaphysics is anti-normative. if everything is a product of forces (without additional predicate), then no ‘kind’ of force can be superior to any other. any justification for why a given constellation of forces is right in a given case would have not have recourse to metaphysical arguments. in terms of his metaphysics only force decides (naturalism might be superior to theism because it has stronger relations to different types of forces, but this can’t be determined in advance).

i see the OOO-osphere as reacting to the nietzscheanism inherent in this view by asserting objects over relations as the fundamentally real units.

oh, and badiou’s antiphilosophers aren’t necessarily sophists. for badiou they’re essentially religious — they assert a founding ahistorical, moral intuition — for latour it would be the importance of ‘democracy.’ like foucault, latour engages in genealogical (of a kind) critiques of knowledge in the form of case studies, with one rather ironic foray into systematic philosophy with ‘irreductions.’

At the outset, I suppose I should confess that I have an almost visceral suspicion of philosophical and political discourses that make normativity their central focus. On the one hand, I associate this sort of focus with neoliberal and conservative discourses that obfuscate social issues by portraying them as issues of “values” and rights. There seems to be a way in which the moment we begin talking about values and normativity, discussion and politics gets detached from the structure of concrete situations, rendering all of that invisible. This has even been enshrined in the whole distinction between the “is” and the “ought”. Insofar as the “is” is completely separated from the “ought”, normative discourses see themselves as entitled to ignore the “is” altogether. As a Marxist and a historical materialist, I simply think this is the wrong way to go. Moreover, contrary to those who seem to believe that neoliberalism is a discourse where self-interest is the only deciding factor and that Marxism is an axiological discourse independent of self-interest, I can’t help but see that Marx’s arguments are based on interests. What Marx shows is that our self-interest lies with the collectivity. This is why, for example, we join unions, pay taxes, form institutions to protect ourselves, and so on.

read on!

Apologies for the lack of posts lately. For whatever reason I’ve been feeling rather dark, worn down, and misanthropic. If I haven’t responded to your emails or posts don’t take it personally. Occasionally I withdraw into my hole and hibernate. In the meantime, Bogost has put together a terrific aggregator for blog posts relating to SR and OOO.

A storm is rolling in. The horizon looks like the battle scenes on the hill in Spielberg’s remake of War of the Worlds, when Tom Cruise is trying to pull his son back. This resembles my mood over the last few days, but strangely I feel calm. I can smell the electricity in the air.

My review of David Couzens Hoy’s The Time of Our Lives is now available through Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews. All around an excellent book if you’re looking for an exceptionally clear analysis of basic theories of temporality since Kant.

Well voting is now underway for the 3Q Prize. Two posts have been nominated for Larval Subjects. Go here to cast your votes!

Paul Ennis has founded a new blog devoted to Object-Oriented Ontology or (OOO) designed to mirror Speculative Heresy’s blog devoted to Speculative Realism and focusing on the speculative materialist orientations of SR coming out of Nick Srnicek, the brilliant Reid Kotlas, Ben Woodward, Taylor Adkins, Ray Brassier, Meillassoux, and others. Paul has described me as a “notoriously prolific blogger“. This is probably accurate. As Asher Kay has suggested to me in private correspondence, it’s likely that I’m a bit manic depressive in my orientation to the world, oscillating between periods of extreme fecundity and demoralization. When first reading Klossowski’s Nietzsche and the Vicious Circle I thought I was reading a theoretical version of my own autobiography. At any rate, it looks like I need to get a draft of The Democracy of Objects completed soon so I can sit at the “big kid” table with Ian, Graham, Bruno, Isabella, and the now deceased yet still active objects, Alfred, Xaviar, Martin, and Ortega. Hopefully I’ll have a draft of this completed by January.

It is my ardent hope that Paul’s new blog will be what I’ve called a “difference engine” or a machine that produces differences and new orientations of thought rather than a hub of dogma. Certainly there are a number of differences between Graham, Ian, and myself. Graham’s emphasis is on the withdrawal of objects. Ian might be described as a “Badiousian object-oriented ontologist”, focusing on the unit-ization of objects (I haven’t yet read Persuasive Games and am still working through the stellar Unit Operations. My own orientation focuses on flat ontology and the manner in which objects translate one another when they interact with one another, underlining how OOO provides us with a post onto-theological metaphysics, rather than remaining within the rut of representational realism. Bruno Latour and Whitehead are relationists, treating objects as their relations. Whereas, I think, Harman, Bogost, and myself are united in the thesis that objects are independent of their relations. In short, there’s a lot of room for variation here. If there is anything that unites OOO it is a sort of ontological promiscuity desiring to make things more real rather than less real, wishing to proliferate the sorts of objects that exist rather than assert the hegemony of one type of object. Beyond that it’s all fair game.

Alright folks, apparently there are some out there that want to nominate me for the 3 Quark Prize. Frances Madeson (hopefully she won’t hate me for posting this) contacted me about this yesterday, asking what post I would suggest, and being terribly embarrassed and suspecting her of being the impish, comic, wise, artistic, New Yawker, Jewess (I’m only a crypto or Sephardic Jew Francis… Family name is Andejar on my mother’s side… They took us all during the Inquisition and made us Catholics), brat that she is, I couldn’t bear to respond. Truth be told, I pretty much think that all I write is, as I told her when I finally could bear to respond, so much detritus, flotsam, and shite. I want to get away from it as quickly as I can. Moreover, the posts I like and am proud of are the ones that always get the least attention (this speaks to my point made to my friend Pete or Deontologist, that one’s writing is as much an object to the author as it is to the reader). Nonetheless, simply earning the admiration of folks like Madeson is an honor in itself. At any rate, if any readers have suggestions, send them her way or the way of Paul. I clean my hand of this, especially given that the contest is decided by Daniel Dennett insuring that I don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of placing. Nonetheless, even as I’m deeply embarrassed and humbled, I am also extremely grateful and honored. As is obvious from the manic and obsessive manner in which I post, the blog and blogosphere is tremendously important to me. I am, as it were, full of libido when it comes to this medium. What I want, above all, is to preserve things and send them out into the world, getting others to read the things I have found valuable and exciting so that, in my lonely life, I might have others to talk with or, more aptly, play with.

As a sort of ironic autobiographical caveat, Larval Subjects began one drunken night over Spring break a few years ago when I was infected by the disease of the minotaur. I had read a post by a Deleuzian that was denouncing Lacan and started to write a lengthy response to their post (I had just discovered blogs), when I noticed they hadn’t posted anything for a year. Wanting to preserve my remarks, I started a blog instead, making that post my first diary. As time passed, blogging fundamentally transformed my thought process, curing me of minotaurishness and making me a much uglier beast. In this medium it was no longer possible to play the role of the minotaur defending the “correct” reading of other philosophers. Rather, I was forced to engage with others from entirely different backgrounds with entirely different sets of concerns. Gradually the academic game of mastering a thinker disappeared, I arrived at peace at my institutional place in life or rank, and began to do something else. What that other thing is, I don’t know.

For those who have online access to Project Muse, Ronald Bogue’s review of Difference and Givenness is now available volume 16 of Symploke. From the final paragraph:

His argumentation is dense, yet pursued with rigor and systematic coherence. His reading of Difference and Repetition is one of the finest now available and a significant contribution to the growing body of serious engagements with Deleuze as a philosopher. Bryant’s study will be difficult going for anyone unfamiliar with the Deleuzian corpus, but for those who have struggled with Deleuze’s complex works, this book will prove an invaluable guide and an essential stimulus to further discussion of his thought. In every way, Difference and Givenness is a major achievement.

This is a truly gratifying review, not only because it was Bogue that first introduced Deleuze to the English speaking world and because he has done so much excellent work on Deleuze (particularly his three volumes on Deleuze and the arts), but also because Ronald Bogue’s work has been so influential in my own thought. Difference and Givenness would not have been possible without his book Deleuze & Guattari, and especially the chapters on Difference and Repetition and The Logic of Sense.

In one fell swoop the truth of my domestic life is captured:


Witness me, in graphic detail, trying to figure out the objectness or objectality of the coffee pot as I am asked to take out the trash. As Mel said upon reading this comic, “he’s got your number.” Needless to say I was annoyed and denied everything.

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