January 1st, 2011

S.C. Hickman

The Poem of the Sea: Speculative Materialsm and Realism - Part II

"Philosophy will finally be modern only if it can sublate the critical moment, crush the Ptolemaic counter-revolution and deepen the narcissistic wounds inflicted by modern science."
    -Gabriel Catren

Outland Empire: Prologemena of Speculative Absolutism
 


Gabriel Catren in his essay proclaims that far "from simply rejecting the Kantian legacy and its contemporary avatars, the activation of ... a post-critical conception of philosophy requires us to overcome the reactive pre-modern components of critical philosophy and to direct the resulting weapon of criticism towards a truly transcendental dehumanization of experience" (ST: 334). [1] It seems he will begin pushing the envelope of speculative realism to its limits by taking up its posthumanist paradigm and developing its program. The language that Catren develops seems to be more of a vocabulary of pseudo-theological realist propositions that lead not to some transcendent real but into the quagmires of a self-reflexive textuality of mystified derision and spurious grace. One is not sure whether his inquiry is toward a scientific realism or a religious mythology for a posthuman age of cyborgs who have lost their roots in the human and are moving among ghosts of another pre-critical age when carbon based life-forms still used physical skins to touch the face of things-in-themselves instead of filtering data through prosthetic appendages of metal and synthetic amalgams put together by a hyper-alchemist of a new gnostic science of the real as absolute.
 
Before I discount the atonal quality of his self-reflexive discourse, based as it is on a return to German Idealism, weaving and unweaving of a gordion knot of four regulative concepts: the absolute, the (philosophical) system, phenomenology (of ‘spirit’) and (absolute) knowledge, - which he wants to reactivate, distort, and entangle with speculative philosophy, I will reserve judgement - ponder, meditate, and tease out from the tangled skein of his lengthy discourse the message he has so deftly stated in a philosophical and poetic testatment. 

He describes his prolegomena to a systematic philosophy of the real as "a Laputian outland empire freefalling into the absolute" (ST: 367). He continues, saying, "The philosopher, that is the local subjective support of this speculative absolunautics, glides in coalescence upon the surfaces of the extended phenomenal plane, composing concrete mediators out of the prismatic vectors of scientific, artistic, and political disindoxication, potentializing the phenomenological unfolding of the self-experience of the absolute which is always already with us" (ST: 367). He sounds more like what the late J.G. Ballard might have been like had he become a philosopher instead of the surrealist novelist of our postmodern despair. Even as I read his essay I'm listening to Drudkh's Microcosmos, a black metal band from the Ukraine to get a sense of the dark idealistic underpinnings of this strange philosophic tractatus prismatic vectors of the absolute. 

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