A study of “ways of life”, “projects”, ethics – a sociology of philosophy. What does it mean to believe something? Whether it’s “true” and whether it’s flawed isn’t important because ethics were never “hard”, algorithmic. When I say “true”, I’m conflating belief with ethics because they’re contingent I think. Axiology – ontology – ways of living – ways of being.
→ Jean Baudrillard’s “Fatal Strategies” – Intersubjectivity, Seduction, Sorcery. In addition to this, his theory of “disappearance”. A way of life encompasses all things – ways of thinking, ways of acting, ways of moving, ways of dying.
→ Deleuze – Anti-Oedipus, Dividual, Nomad, Orphan – Whether a thing is “less a way of living and more a way of being” is irrelevant – what is relevant is that it’s a “way”. Whether a thing is systematised or simply hinted at is also irrelevant – what is relevant is whether it can serve as a springboard-component in the production of a way of life.
→ Does Latour’s ANT imply a way of life? I think it does. Forming alliances is desirable and so we’re encouraged to live socially. Not only this, but the conception of things as “black boxes” offers new points of interface – new options on behaviour – frameworks. The black box metaphor enables new paths for action.
→ Lastly we should distinguish between “skepticism” and “cynicism”. Where the cynic critiques, the skeptic critiques and offers new frameworks. Where the cynic critiques by “matters of fact”, the skeptic critiques by “matters of concern”. Every “moral skeptic” I’ve met has been more like a moral cynic – they don’t believe in morals, but they’re unwilling to offer an alternative. I think moral cynicism is just another brand of nihilism. It’s a path to nihilism. Although “there is no absolute should”, we have an ethics, and that ethics has some influence on how we perceive and act.
P.S. Reading the intro to Manuel DeLanda’s “War in the Age of Intelligent Machines” helped me understand what Deleuze was talking about in “Postscript on the Societies of Control”. Management science, systems analysis, military “Operations Research”. I think part of why I had trouble understanding the “society of control” is because Deleuze didn’t contextualise it in the ongoing discourse between the military, the economy and society.
In that vein I was thinking we could assemble books from fragments of other books, words, articles, media. Something more like painting than writing. Transverse books.
My line of inquiry has to do with “projects of the self”, like Hadot’s “spiritual exercises” and Foucault’s “ascetics”. I hear Nietzsche was big on projects of the self, but I’ve never read him. I also think I was being a bit misleading when I placed an emphasis on philosophy. Projects stemming from faiths such as Gnosticism and Sufism, and mystic projects such as Gurdjieff’s “Fourth Way” are just as important. Beyond that, we should search for the ethics “hinted at” throughout history. Like for instance I was watching this forum with David Byrne yesterday (0:59:43 – 1:01:37) and what he said struck me as very important – it seemed very Deleuzian – rhizomes, plateaus, the Anti-Oedipus as social structure.
These excerpts from “The Sunset Limited” complement the section on fragmented, “hinted at” ethics to be reassembled. It’s also a great way of explaining what I meant by the part on cynicism and skepticism:
Black: “I ain’t a doubter, but I am a questioner.”
White: “What’s the difference?”
Black: “A questioner wants the truth. A doubter wants to be told ‘there ain’t no such thing’.”
When I mentioned the word-painting, I think this work by Anna Maria Johnson is something like a first step. It’s an incredible first step but I think we have to go further! I think the next step is putting it all on one page. But then imagine a work like this painted with books instead of words. All books, or books constituting a strata – Nature, Ethics, Fire. Imagine if we assembled every account of fire throughout history! This method constitutes a “transverse” – a temporary crystallisation of “category” prelude to a radical explosion of meaning. Any text is valid.