“An Online Orgy of Stupidity”

This morning I shared a link to a delightful interview with Ray Brassier, but became increasingly aware that I should probably give it some main page love. Not least because of the savagery of the following:

“The ‘speculative realist movement’ exists only in the imaginations of a group of bloggers promoting an agenda for which I have no sympathy whatsoever: actor-network theory spiced with pan-psychist metaphysics and morsels of process philosophy. I don’t believe the internet is an appropriate medium for serious philosophical debate; nor do I believe it is acceptable to try to concoct a philosophical movement online by using blogs to exploit the misguided enthusiasm of impressionable graduate students. I agree with Deleuze’s remark that ultimately the most basic task of philosophy is to impede stupidity, so I see little philosophical merit in a ‘movement’ whose most signal achievement thus far is to have generated an online orgy of stupidity”

So, yeah, have fun with that.

About these ads

18 Responses to ““An Online Orgy of Stupidity””

  1. Alex Andrews Says:

    Wasn’t this published on the internet thus making it too stupid? Duh dur dur!

  2. Anthony Paul Smith Says:

    I have to confess to being annoyed by this interview. I have been challenged by Brassier’s work and on a personal level find him to be very kind, but his anger towards all other forms of thought has always turned me off. On the one hand, he links to a blog whose author he does share sympathies with (Pete Wolfendale) and on the other, why does a nihilist give a fuck about an “appropriate medium”? I realize he’s not a “bad nihilist”, but I do get the impression that he thinks everyone is stupid aside from a few grumpy scientists (out of the multitude of philosophically clueless scientists) and that’s just… boring. Being an asshole is just as philosophically uninteresting as being stupid. And I’m not so sure that Deleuze saw the basic task of philosophy as “impeding stupidity”, it seemed to me that his was a far more joyous activity that had very little to do with policing. Again, I like Brassier’s work, but who would ever want to live like this? Or, as the song goes, “Woke this morning and it seemed to me
    That every night turns out to be
    A little bit more like Bukowski
    And yeah, I know he’s a pretty good read
    But God, who’d want to be
    God, who’d want to be such an asshole?
    God, who’d want to be
    God, who’d want to be such an asshole?”

  3. Brad Johnson Says:

    It all seemed a little unhinged, but delightfully so in my estimation.

  4. Adam Kotsko Says:

    In terms of needlessly lashing out at a place where your work is being promoted and discussed, this strikes me as weirdly analogous to Jonathan Franzen’s infamous snubbing of Oprah’s book club.

  5. Pedagogy of the Depressed Says:

    This pleased me greatly.

  6. Sans Oeuvre Says:

    My problem with Brassier’s project is that it’s original only if you have no idea what’s happened in analytic philosophy of mind over the last thirty years. He basically presents the same tired arguments of people like Churchland (without dealing with the devestating critiques from Fodor et al) as though they’re groundbreaking.

    On the other hand, he’s light-years beyond the buffoonery of the OOO crowd.

  7. marcegoodman Says:

    Anthony, I think you’re right about that Deleuze, but there’s also this Deleuze who answers Negri’s remark, “But I seem sometimes to hear a tragic note, at points where it’s not clear where the “war-machine” is going.”

    He says, “You say there’s a certain tragic or melancholic tone in all this. I think I can see why.” After a brief discussion of Primo Levi, he continues, “And we can feel shame at being human in utterly triv­ial situations, too: in the face of too great a vulgarization of thinking, in the face of TV entertainment, of a ministerial speech, of “jolly peo­ple” gossiping. This is one of the most powerful incentives toward phi­losophy, and it’s what makes all philosophy political.”

  8. Anthony Paul Smith Says:

    Sure, I just don’t think that he means something like “be serious all the time!” You know?

  9. dbarber Says:

    Marc, I think you’re absolutely right to point to this aspect of Deleuze’s work, it’s certainly central for my interpretation of / work on him. For what it’s worth I would distinguish this “melancholic” aspect from Brassier’s anti-stupidity, just in the sense that for Deleuze there is an aesthetic response that draws on the fabulative, on tendencies that would be seen by Brassier as more or less straightforwardly bad.

  10. marcegoodman Says:

    Oh, for sure. Even Deleuze’s discussion of the “problem of stupidity”, which he designates as “transcendental” in D&R, seems quite joyful.

  11. Pedagogy of the Depressed Says:

    The generation of that critical community of participants is always an awkward time.

  12. Hollis Phelps Says:

    Brassier sounds like Leiter.

  13. Adam Kotsko Says:

    The ultimate insult!!!!

  14. Sans Oeuvre Says:

    Of course, unlike Leiter, Brassier has presumably read the people he’s attacking.

  15. marcegoodman Says:

    Apropos Brassier and Leiter, has anyone else been reminded of this footnote from The Puppet and the Dwarf:

    Today, it may seem that nobody finds Nietzsche shocking anymore—this
    holds, however, only if one reduces Nietzsche to a philosopher who professed a set of “opinions” (for example, about the origins of morality, about religion, about the crisis of modernity . . .), and then goes on to compare him with others (like Freud), and to argue for or against him. What gets lost here is Nietzsche’s style—not what is often misperceived as the “pathetic” character of his writings, but, rather, the opposite, the unbearably naive seriousness of his most excessive statements: in the Schillerian opposition between the naive and the sentimental, Nietzsche is thoroughly naive. It is on this level that Nietzsche remains unbearably shocking—let us imagine that, apropos of a feminist deconstructionist close to Nietzsche, somebody were to pose questions like: “But is she human at all? Is she a person or, rather, the name of a disease? Is she not a hyena who poetizes on the graves of masculinity? A milch cow drained of all milk, but with a ‘fine style’? ”Furthermore, let us imagine that someone were to take a mainstream theoretician, and set him or her against the deconstructionist (as Nietzsche did with Bizet against Wagner):
    “How much more life is there in a simple statement by Martha Nussbaum than in the deconstructionist’s entire hysterical rumbling?”…Anyone who finds these questions “inadmissible” (which, to avoid any misunder-
    standing, I do) and professes to be a Nietzschean is a complete fake.

  16. Kenneth Says:

    Sans Oeuvre Says: “My problem with Brassier’s project is that it’s original only if you have no idea what’s happened in analytic philosophy of mind over the last thirty years. He basically presents the same tired arguments of people like Churchland (without dealing with the devestating critiques from Fodor et al) as though they’re groundbreaking.”

    Hmmm: I’m a little concerned that you seem to be borrowing your criticism of Brassier here from a satirical comment from over at PE a while ago:

    http://pervegalit.wordpress.com/2011/01/21/i-wonder-who-the-target-is/#comment-10257

  17. Sans Oeuvre Says:

    That’s not where I got the criticism. Based on my own readings, I think that Brassier’s project is not (as far as I can tell) particularly original, except that he uses the arguments of Churchland, Metzinger et al. to address the work of people (like Latour, Deleuze, Badiou, etc.) whom these analytic folks can’t be bothered to deal with. On the other hand, I wouldn’t claim that my criticism is particularly original either. I’ve certainly heard it voiced before.

    Regardless, I enjoy reading Brassier, and I think that he’s much more *correct* than most of the folks he’s criticizing. I was also pleased to see that in his recent piece in ST he’s willing to acknowledge that Kant isn’t just Berkeley (which some of the “SR”(RIP) crowd don’t seem capable of grasping).

    Again, my problem with his work is that aspects of it sometimes seem like arguments from authority, i.e., “Look you continental idiots, in the analytic tradition real philosophers like Churchland have proven…etc.” As someone with an analytic background, I can’t help but feel like citing Churchland as a trump card to continentalists is comparable to citing Baudrillard as a trump card to analytic folks. It might be unfamiliar but it’s also kind of random and outmoded. Churchland’s “science” doesn’t really follow from the facts — again, check out Fodor’s short review of Churchland’s work.

    The difference between citing Churchland and citing Baudrillard is, of course, that most continental folks are (at least a little bit) self-hating — we’ve heard dismissals from Leiter, etc. so many times that many of us assume that there’s probably real “scientific” work going on it analytic circles. Citing Baudrillard (or Zizek, or Derrida, or Badiou…) to analytic folks, on the other hand, will probably just get you waved off.

  18. Sans Oeuvre Says:

    One more thought:

    I know that being an “original thinker” is always a good thing, but I wonder if it’s becoming a kind of weird fetish in certain circles.

    I hear a lot of “In my ontology entities are…” or “My philosophy would answer that claim with….” I think that Brassier made some sort of comment about a new generation “philosophizing in its own name.” The upshot seems to be a lot of people building “systems” with cool sounding titles (usually presented as [spooky-sounding adjective] + [more familiar philosophical position], e.g., “Cavernous Anti-Realism” or something), but ignoring any attempts to ground their claims.

    Anyway, the reason I’m mentioning this is that I didn’t want my comment regarding Brassier’s lack of originality vis-a-vis analytic thought to be taken as a dismissal of his work. OOO looks like a pretty original position to me; it also looks like total BS.


Comments are closed.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,182 other followers