March 05, 2013

Latour, Laruelle, Lovecraft, and Sri Aurobindo

Beyond the human Jawaharlal Nehru University New Delhi 20-23 February 2014
This trajectory is found in the overman of Friedrich Nietzsche, the supramental being of the Indian yogi-philosopher Sri Aurobindo, or as more recently contextualized by Gilles Deleuze through the“superfold,” the result of the folding into the human subject of the rhizomatic triplicity of genetic code, information technology, and a language at the borders of signification… The conference is organized by
  • Makarand Paranjape, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
  • Debashish Banerji, University of Philosophical Research, Los Angeles
  • Richard Carlson, Pacific Weather, Port Angeles, WA.
Call for papers: If you have thoughts on any of these areas and would like to participate in the conference, please send us a resume and an abstract of your talk. Our email address is The submission deadline is August 15, 2013. Those whose abstracts are selected will be notified.

Use those GRE words you memorised – they were made for such occasions! Everything is a discourse and a narrative; do not be afraid to embed yourself in the dasein of the moment. See what I did back there? Use words from foreign languages strategically when explaining key points and your logic fails. It is unlikely that anyone in your audience speaks that language, and if they do, words like daseinding-an-sich, or eudaimonia. Not only will you appear scholarly, but you will be aided by two things: 1. even if someone does know these terms, they are ambiguous enough to merit an entirely different debate, allowing you to skirt the original issue, and 2. actual scholars also use such terms when talking to each other, lending legitimacy to the practice… Assuming you speak two or three Indian languages and the Queen’s English, Western organisations will be grateful for your expertise on that blasted subcontinent. 

Latour is not only one of the world’s most important living intellectuals. He is also perhaps the most polarizing author within Speculative Realist circles (maybe only Laruelle is equally polarizing). Some of us are in awe of Latour’s breakthroughs, while others in SR circles treat him (with what I myself regard as an almost grotesque lack of intellectual taste and foresight) as a sophist and a relativist hack. I’m as confident in my bet on Latour’s long-term importance as I am on just about anything, and this despite serious disagreements with some of his ontology, as I outlined in Prince of Networks.

In the article, I was very hard on the “Kantian” or noumenal reading of Lovecraft and defended a Husserlian reading of Lovecraft that I also linked with cubism in the arts. The difference is that while writing the book, I decided that both strands are operative in Lovecraft. There are two completely different major stylistic devices at work in Lovecraft. One of them is the allusion to the unutterable, and I no longer have any objection to relating that to Kant. The other is the one I was championing exclusively in my article, in which Lovecraft claims to be describing something literally but piles up such a ridiculous number of incompatible descriptions that the bond between the objects and its qualities, while not withdrawn into a noumenal realm, explicitly becomes an operative principle over and above its list of qualities. This is what is most typical of Husserl, who’s as anti-noumenal as it gets but is still a philosopher of objects over and above their qualities. It’ll all be clear when you finally see the book.
There’s an introductory section, then I analyze 100 individual passages (not plot summaries, but short passages) from eight of the key stories, then conclude with some further thoughts. Work on the book only increased my sense of Lovecraft’s greatness as a stylist. I’m well aware of the objections that he overwrites his prose and overloads it with adjectives, but rules like this are always beside the point. You can do just about anything as a writer as long as you know how to handle it. At most there is some unevenness in Lovecraft as a stylist, as often happens with amateurs in any field who are isolated from mainstream critical feedback.

I recently read a quote about writer HP Lovecraft that seemed applicable to Sri Aurobindo’s prose style as well… (Lovecraft was, IMO, a brilliant writer from a purely literary perspective, though obviously nowhere near Sri Aurobindo in any sense. I don’t mean to compare them in any other way than to point out that that comment is insightful.) Of course, even if one is able to get “past” his style and understand him “intellectually” (like a student of English literature might), one will not understand anything if the consciousness is not ready. kkk

The chief import of Tolkien’s Art, as I understand it, is that its example invites us to step into our own roles as cosmic artisans, just at that moment in world history when so much seems headed for disaster… There is also a spiritual side to the strange logic underlying Tolkien’s sub-creative vocation. He says of all his “stuff” that it is “fundamentally concerned with the problem of the relation of Art (and Sub-creation) and Primary Reality” (xiii). Primary Reality is the world of daily life, of biological struggle, and, eventually, of death. The sub-creator, in bringing forth a Secondary Reality (made not of solid matter, but of story and myth), expresses a desire which not only has no ordinary biological function, but which indeed usually finds itself at strife with these functions (xiii). Despite its spiritual motives, the sub-creative desire “is at once wedded to a passionate love of the real primary world, and hence filled with the sense of mortality, and yet unsatisfied by it” (xiii). Death, even ifimaginary, is no less real for all that. We human sub-creators have, again, two paths open to us upon encountering it.

Haridas Chaudhuri writes in The Evolution of Integral Consciousness, “One devious root of war-mindedness is the dualistic logic of the arrogant intellect – the logic of either/or. Dualistic logic says: Either communism or democracy, either socialism or capitalism, is the ultimate truth, and thus creates an irreconcilable opposition between them, diving the world into two warring camps sworn to destroy each other.” Integral Church ~ Religion 2.0: The Formation of the Integral Church By Joran Slane Oppelt
It is a seed that was planted when I discovered the work of Arthur Koestler and Ken Wilber and that sprouted when I realized that their life’s work was a continuation of those who came before them — Socrates, Sri Aurobindo, William James, Aldous Huxley. Continue reading

Tusar N. Mohapatra March 4, 2013 at 1:35 pm
Sri Aurobindo’s notion of human unity doesn’t envisage any antagonistic prospect between India and Europe. Relying upon some stray quote to build a sound economic scenario is therefore anomalous. [TNM55] Reply ~ As Europe goes down, we need to be prepared for consequences 

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