Laruelle & Neurosis: Operations of Exaggerating and Distancing.

Laruelle’s non-philosophy is something that I am thinking through and with at the moment. I will refrain from trying to reduce his ideas or even properly describe them (I am still struggling!). What I wish to do however is suggest how his thinking chimes with certain areas of my philosophy of neurosis and assimilation, and, what I see as an implicit escape route which he sketches out (he would probably disagree with this escape however).

Regarding his belief in a ‘real science’ that works with ‘absolute immanent data’, which comes before philosophy, and regarding the unilateral relationship Being has with ‘The One’ – the problem doesn’t seem to be one of ‘objectivity’ (he denies that his work is initially advocating this) but of a kind of Heideggerian ‘clearing’ ; the ‘space’ between the pure affectivity of philosophical thinking (the ‘decision’) and that of ‘radical immanence’ (the One before identity).

At least for the sake of this post I can see two common operations of thinking this clearing; one of exaggerating and one of distancing. I believe Laruelle does both (and myself too), but whereas my form of distancing is more Derridean (allowing concepts/signifieds to play with themselves or qua the productions of differences beyond that of present-at-hand experience/discourse), Laruelle’s distancing is more from the realist/scientific spirit ( i.e how can I make a meta- discourse that defines human perception/how can I make a meta-discourse that shows the former’s redundancy or inability to encounter ‘the real’?). This ‘realist’ distancing in Laruelle is not simply problematic because of those famous critiques of realism (From Kant to Heidegger) but also because he advocates BOTH scientific progression (regarding the scientific status of the real) AND a form of mysticism, in his words – ‘this outside is an immanent a priori that cannot be conflated, related or totalized (by philosophical thinking)’. Obviously traditional epistemology (or philosophical thinking) is not what is going to get us to the ‘outside’ (even though this ‘outside is immanent), but one of my claims is that the ‘believability’ and ‘use’ of ‘decisional thinking’ (neurosis) may want to tell us that it can. It may not simply tell us that it can but can also simulate (or assimilate) a form of reality that conforms to such thinking (and of socio-political-material reality). The point here is not to argue that decisional thinking (neurosis) creates reality, or that it has to necessarily effect the real, but simply that the realist-scientist or non-philosopher cannot absolutely vanquish this operation of thought. For all of Laruelle’s acceptance of ‘cloning’ (cloning the real) he doesn’t explain how one floats above all these clones to achieve the proper untarnished axioms.

The operation of exaggerating in order for the Heideggerean clearing is common in philosophy. Kant could be seen to exaggerate in his theory of the ‘transcendental aesthetic’; by constituting a realm of sensibility/representations which dialectically points to a field outside of such (the ‘thing in itself’). The philosophical theory of neurosis exaggerates the experience of human thought (defining such as neurotic) by bringing out key features of thought-production (desire/obsession-compulsion, repetition, trauma/memory, disturbance of thoughts, awareness of thoughts) in the hope that such thoughts constitute rather than inhibit a ‘subject’.

Laruelle makes a move of exaggeration by stating that ‘thinking’ is ‘imaginary’ or ‘illusorily self-sufficient’. By describing thinking, the decision and philosophy as ostensibly subsisting unilaterally from ‘The One’ he exaggerates the field of human affectivity to the point where it becomes an asymmetrical epiphenomenon. That thought can generate and auto-produce without starting from ‘the real’ or ‘the one’ chimes well with theories of autopoiesis (systems that reproduce and maintain themselves regardless of both larger or smaller factors/determinations). Again, it is a theory of neurosis that affirms this; the concept may have only a minimal relation (or no relation proceeding the relation) to a ‘real’ or even a conventional socio-historical reality. A concept can relate to other concepts either aleatorically, through the subjects neurosis or through the discreet history of conceptual systems without laying claim to a reality or even a conventional use. This is the concepts autonomous or tautological power, but Laruelle claims that this ‘auto-cloning’ is not ‘real’ (conflating illusion with what is unilaterally/asymmetrically produced but not caused qua ‘The One’) whilst a theory of neurosis would be content in saying that ‘reality’ is both a use term (“did you watch that reality T.V show last night?) and also that reality is simply assimilated in the last instance (or that reality is one assimilation of many planes of assimilation).

If there is any import in stating that reality is unilateral (Laruelle) then the most illuminating question (instead of attempting to undermine this or simply disavow it) would be to ask how the realm of thinking and the realm of radical immanence co-exist  (think Descartes dualism). For example, is there a clue in Laruelle’s language;  there seems to be an un-approximated distance and intimacy of ‘The One’ that destroys the relative constitution of representations and their signifieds (the impossibility and idealism of deconstruction). In other words, is Laruelle’s critique of words and deconstruction (and his use of ‘representationalism’ as solely a pragmatic enterprise) a way of disclosing an experience that not only does away with the reduction and positivism of representationalism (a critique that Bergson and Deleuze have already made) but also of the notion that words, concepts and other possible entities do NOT exist solely as or through representations (signifieds) but only as a unilateral side-effect of the prior ‘vision-as-one’ (i.e radical immanence and universality)?


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