Some orientations

1. The thinking of singularity. The old metaphysics consisted of a thinking of the infinite, which took the name of God—i.e., what Heidegger called onto-theology and Marion the “theological destitution of metaphysics”. In France, Bergson’s “introduction” to metaphysics consisted of a rejection of this tradition not, as some would say, into a preoccupation with conceptions of difference, but into a thinking of singularity (without negation and, of course, without death). The problem for (metaphysical) thinking today remains this thinking of singularity (which Lévinas gives the name of infinity, but in this he is just as much a “philosopher of the event” as Deleuze and Badiou). But as the preeminent thinkers of singularity have warned us, this thinking is perhaps not best described by the term “metaphysics” and “concept”, for the singular is precisely that which cannot be grasped. The singular is presented, rather, in an image (something like what Deleuze calls the “image of thought”).

As a corollary: the hegemony of vision from Plato (the “solar eye”) to Husserl (in intentional analysis) is the hegemony of the concept over affect. What is needed is to assert the rights of listening and of sound.

2. Discourse is inherently ideological. As a corollary, “discourse ethics” is a contradiction in terms.

3. To avoid the conflation of politics to democracy (or, equivalently, to fascism), the proper marriage is not that between politics and ontology but politics and aesthetics (neither the politicization of the aesthetic nor the aestheticization of the political but the production of images at their point of intersection). One presupposes, of course, the necessity of radical politics just as in the thinking of singularity one presupposes the necessity of radical alterity.

4. The fundamental error of analytic philosophy is the conflation of ontology and logic; the fundamental error of continental philosophy is the conflation of science and technology.

Useless information
(Again, I had hoped that the friend who sent me this article and some comments would post here, but apparently my powers of persuasion require an upgrade. I raise here what I take to be her major points with an extension of my own.)

Like much of the work done in sociology, one needs to proceed with care. One is probably advised, for example, to separate Glassner’s thesis of the “culture of fear” from its connection with the power elite. In so doing, what is left is a useful rubric for understanding the generalized fear (pre-dating 9/11, which probably contributed to the subsequent depolitization of discourse under the Bush administration) disseminated by and through information systems (or what is usually, fairly imprecisely, termed “the media”).

This article is no exception, since only two responses are possible given the information provided; these two responses, however, while practically different, are theoretically equivalent. On the one hand, since the article only names one additive, one can react with a generalized suspicion of food additives and proceed to the nearest Whole Foods to look for organic labels. On the other hand, one can for the same reason ignore the information altogether and eat all the soda, chips, and candy one wants.

In both cases, what is taken for granted is a naïve conception of what “healthy food” is or, better, what the relationship between food and health is. Instead, one doctor (from MGH, no less) is quoted worrying about whether the clinical significance of increased hyperactivity outweighs concerns of social ostracism if children don’t eat the same foods as their peers. Aside from being too stupid for rebuttal, one wonders what this doctor would say to the schools who have already eliminated vending machines and junk food from their buildings in favor of juice, fruit, and vegetables after finding that these latter foods improve students’ energy and focus.

Or, perhaps we need further to separate the “social” aspect of these kinds of questions from the “science”. That this study found that some food additives raise hyperactivity already begs certain questions and, in so doing, masks certain presuppositions in the discourse concerning health. Suppose, as an intelligent skeptic ought, someone faults the method of the study or a particularly belligerent rival performs a counter-study. Nothing in the business of conducting studies provides a measure for theoretical judgment. So much is banal. But what is not as easy to see is the active work of ideology that bloats practical judgment at the expense of theoretical judgment. Taking studies such as this one seriously requires a certain frame of intelligibility according to which the important issues are things like assuming “hyperactivity” is a coherent category, that the relevant focus group is children, and so on.

Panagia: the poetics of politics

Why the image? Panagia has also answered this question, though perhaps less emphatically as one might like (for one, Panagia explicitly avoids the term “the musical” in favor of “the poetic”). In proposing a poetics of political thinking, Panagia has taken important (though early) first steps, faithful to the spirit of Rancière, in the diachronous (or what Desmond would call the metaxological; or what could even be called metaxiological) thinking of aesthetics and politics. But the insight expressed by Panagia’s method is not simply the value of aesthetics for politics and political thinking (although the reading of Rawls given therein, for example, is second perhaps only to MacAdam’s deconstruction of the original position) but the development of a poetics of thinking that preserves the (not just formal) distinction between ontology and logic and the refusal to reduce ethics to either (a poetics of political thinking is, rather, an account of the ethics of representation).

In other terms: the image is what, in representation, exceeds the subject. But of course this is unhelpful because everything exceeds the subject. It is something like, in the Lyotardian-Kantian sublime, the experience of this excess. Or, succinctly, the image is precisely what Bergson said it was (no one else has managed to say it better): the universe is simply an ensemble of images.