Immanence does not belong to something. It opposes transcendence by insisting that all individuals, all singularities, are on the same plane. No one individual or singularity has priority over any other. Immanence, the entirety of this plane, has no outside. It is autonomous. Its laws of expression belong only to themselves, and these laws of immanence can be found, but only in what is expressed. Immanence is expressed everywhere, because everywhere is already immanence. Yet, this everywhere existing universe of whatever, which is not nothing but belongs not to something: what are we going to call it? All that is, every event, every affect, every sensation, every idea—all of it is expressed, but what is the immanence thus expressed? Whatever shall we call it? Spinoza called it “substance.” Yet he also called it “God, or Nature.”
Immanence cannot be reduced to a name, even the very name of immanence, or substance. Immanence is nameless. Immanence is namelessness. Immanence is nameless because it is namelessness. Nonetheless, we cannot avoid naming it. It is just that the names we name will be improper. So it is proper to name it, improperly. We make it up, and so we must. We are right to give it a name, but this name will not be the right one. There is one substance, only one, and it is immanent to itself. But immanence is not the right name. There is not one name. Spinoza, like the DJ some have imagined him to be, mixes substance with some other names. Like God, or Nature. Spinoza knew the namelessness of immanence, but for the same reason he knew the necessity of signification.
We like to call substance God … and when we call substance God, we amplify it, we take the deaf and blind universe to the highest power. Love it, assist it, say it in plenitude. Say everything you want to say. It is the maximum of desires. We also like to call substance Nature … and when we call substance Nature, we deflate it, we remind ourselves there’s nothing worth saying. Our desires are unmasked as so many improper fictions, names spat upon a universe unable to recognize or receive them.
Which one of these is the world? Does the world belong to the names, or does it belong to the silence of the mute? Is it divine or natural? And how do we find the world—through the expression of our desires or through their humiliation? … Apocalyptic refuses to answer these questions. Do not look for the world, it says. And especially, do not look for the world in one place rather than another place. Apocalyptic says: Let the world go down. Let its names perish. Abandon your investments in them.
Too often apocalyptic is imagined as the arrival of something positive from beyond. This is not the case. Apocalyptic is, on the contrary, the breakdown of the world as it presently is, the emergence of an immanent instability. To be apocalyptic is to be different from, to be utterly other than, the historical course that has been taken, as well as the course that is being taken. So apocalyptic is not historical. But neither it does it arrive from the beyond. It refuses to choose between being inside of history and outside of history. Apocalyptic is the membrane between history’s prison and eternity’s resignation. It reminds us that there is not just history and eternity, that something else still remains. And what remains is the discontinuity of history. Apocalyptic articulates discontinuity. It takes as its enemy continuous history, which lies about the present, which lies about the possibility of being in the present, which lies about there even being a present to be in … all of these lies, apocalyptic takes them as enemies, apocalyptic breaks them up, breaks them down, breaks them open. But apocalyptic does not try to tell the truth. Instead, it knows the lie, in the present, in the world. Apocalyptic reveals, but it does not reveal the truth; it reveals the discontinuity haunting the lie; it reveals the world as a diasporic discontinuity.
Yet in the first place, and too often the only place, the world is a sickness. The discourses and names it presents to us afflict us. How, then, can we cure ourselves? What would it mean to escape affliction? It will not work to try, once and for all, to get the world’s discourses right, as if a purified version of their names would provide resolution. Nor will it work to look for a cure that transcends our sickness, that comes from outside of our affliction. A transcendent cure must fail, for it remains incapable of responding to the discontinuous nature of the affliction. Neither will it do simply to possess the knowledge that a transcendent cure is impossible. If anything, awareness of this impossibility may immerse us more deeply in the longing for transcendence, as if there were a new, better version of what afflicts us. It is as if there is a positive feedback loop between the impossibility of a transcendent cure and longing for one.
What is required instead is the capacity to imagine a cure that would be mimetic in character. An immanent, mimetic cure is one in which the source of affliction enters into the cure, one in which the cure stems from exposure to the affliction. Transcendence claims that healing comes through renouncing affliction, through imagining and committing oneself to a future that will never have been shaped by the source of sickness. For immanence, on the contrary, the transcendent cure appears as a fantasy, a fantasy that functions to conceal the very nature of the affliction. The transcendent cure not only fails to heal, what’s worse is that it directs our attention away from the source of affliction. However, an immanent, mimetic cure, re-stages our exposure to this source. It re-stages it so as to divide up, or break down, the elements that afflict, in order to recompose them in the name of health. Affliction is a relation between elements, a relation that makes a world. The cure of immanence is to repeat these relations, and in doing so, to divide them up, to reveal the discontinuity between them.