I'm thinking Sloterdijk's work on "spherology" might make for an interesting interface with OOO ( <-- haha, look at those spheres!).


Here's an interview with him where he reviews his Spheres trilogy.


Bettina Funcke: Until the publication of your trilogy, the image of the sphere was hardly present in contemporary theoretical discourse. I'm wondering how you came across this metaphor, which has gained such importance for your thinking in recent years. Which authors or texts do you refer to?

Peter Sloterdijk: A given culture never possesses a complete vocabulary for itself. The current language games only ever emphasize select topics and leave other phenomena unaddressed. This applies as well to the vocabulary of theory in the late twentieth century. In past decades, one could speak elaborately and with great nuance about everything that had to do with the temporal structure of the modern world. Tons of books on the historicization, futurization, and processing of everything were published�most of which are completely unreadable today. By contrast, it was still comparatively difficult ten years ago to comment sensibly on the spatialization of existence in the modern world; a thick haze still covered the theory landscape. Until recently, there was a voluntary spatial blindness�because to the extent that temporal problems were seen as progressive and cool, the questions of space were thought to be old-fashioned and conservative, a matter for old men and shabby imperialists. Even the fascinating, novel chapters on space in Deleuze and Guattari's Thousand Plateaus couldn't change the situation, since they arrived too early for the chronophilic, or time-worshipping, zeitgeist of those days. The same goes for programmatic propositions in late Foucault�according to whom we again enter an age of space�which in their time were still unable to usher in a transition.

My Spheres trilogy obviously belongs to a widespread reversal among philosophical and cultural-theoretical discourses that has taken place in the strongholds of contemporary reflection over the course of the past decade. As I began in 1990, while a fellow at Bard College, in New York, I had only a vague premonition of this topological turn within cultural theory. Only now, after the completion of the trilogy, do I see more clearly how my work is connected with that of numerous colleagues around the world, such as Homi Bhabha, Arjun Appadurai, and Edward S. Casey. Even Ilya Kabakov's installation art and the work of architects like Frei Otto, Grimshaw and Partners, or Rem Koolhaas, belong to the circle of theoretical relations. At the time, I wanted to work with the figures of the circle and arrow in order to offer my students in Vienna and New York, who were mainly young artists, an introduction to philosophical thinking. I thought that graphic figures would be useful in that context.

I was also fascinated by a chalkboard drawing Martin Heidegger made around 1960, in a seminar in Switzerland, in order to help psychiatrists better understand his ontological theses. As far as I know, this is the only time that Heidegger made use of visual means to illustrate logical facts; he otherwise rejected such antiphilosophical aids. In the drawing, one can see five arrows, each of which is rushing toward a single semicircular horizon�a magnificently abstract symbolization of the term Dasein as the state of being cast in the direction of an always-receding world horizon (unfortunately, it's not known how the psychiatrists reacted to it). But I still recall how my antenna began to buzz back then, and during the following years a veritable archaeology of spatial thought emerged from this impulse. The main focus may have been Eurocentric, but there was a constant consideration of non-European cultures, in particular India and China. Incidentally, I also owe something to Gaston Bachelard's Poetics of Space, although later I quite stubbornly departed from his promptings.

BF: But in your work the term sphere plays such a crucial role, whereas in the other new discourses of space one encounters terms like place, dwelling, territory, local, global, and other words ending with the suffix �scape.

PS: There are different reasons for this, partly linguistic and partly factual. Particularly crucial here is that below the thin layer of modern language games, in which the word sphere plays only a marginal role, lies a very powerful old layer�one could call it the two-thousand-year domain of old-European "sphere thinking." As modern intellectuals, we have simply forgotten that in the era between Plato and Leibniz almost everything to be said about God and the world was expressed in terms of a spherology. Think about the magical basic principle of medieval theosophy, which says, God is a sphere whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere. One could almost claim that the individualism of the modern era signifies an unconscious realization of this dogma. Even German semantics plays a role in my choice of terms, since between Goethe and Heidegger the word sphere is employed as an approximate synonym for the circle of life or world of meaning�and of course this already goes a ways toward accommodating my search for a language appropriate to animated, interpersonal, or surreal space.

BF: The subtitles of the three volumes of Spheres�Bubbles, Globes, and Foam�are similarly unusual, as if they were created in a linguistic realm that seems closer to everyday speech.

PS: The term metaphor that you used earlier makes me hesitate a bit because, in my opinion, words like sphere or globe are not metaphors but rather thought-images or, even better, thought-figures. After all, they first came out of geometry and had, beginning with Greek antiquity, a clear morphological sense, which turned into a cosmological sense after Plato. It is different with the titles of the first and third volumes, Bubbles and Foam. Here we are truly concerned with metaphors, at least on an initial reading. With Bubbles I tried to describe the dyadic space of resonance between people as we find it in symbiotic relations�mother and child, Philemon and Baucis, psychoanalyst and analysand, mystics and God, etc. By contrast, in addition to its metaphorical meaning, foam�I use it instead of the completely exhausted term society�has of course also a literal sense. From a physical perspective, it describes multichamber systems consisting of spaces formed by gas pressure and surface tensions, which restrict and deform one another according to fairly strict geometric laws. It seemed to me that modern urban systems could be easily understood with analogy to these exact, technical foam analyses. Spheres III emerged out of this intuition. One finds in this hybrid book a great deal of commentary on the transformation of sociology into a general theory of "air conditioning." Foam: That is, modern people live in "connected isolations," as the US architectural group Morphosis put it thirty years ago. In social foam there is no "communication"�this is also one of the words facing an apocalypse�but instead only inter-autistic and mimetic relations.

BF: While reading the books, it occurred to me that there are three different, successive points of orientation or even methods in each respective volume. Could one describe the first volume as esoteric, the second as exoteric, and the third as a Zeitdiagnostik, a diagnosis of the present moment?

PS: This question affects me in a very personal way because it's connected with a disturbingly deep diagnosis. It is true that the three volumes of Spheres don't follow one other in a singular trajectory; each has its own direction and its own climate. One could even wonder whether they really derive from the same author. The question is of course sophistical, since I know definitively that I wrote all three myself. However, this doesn't prove that I was always the same person in the seven years it took to write them. What guarantees that multiple personality disorder, an invention of postmodern doctors, doesn't simply represent the transition of modern literary criticism into the clinic, by which the disappearance of the author returns as the disintegration of the everyday personality?

As you know, I've always allowed myself as much freedom as possible in leaving the question open as to whether I'm a philosopher or a writer, but now you're forcing me into a corner. Since I ultimately speak as a philosopher and cannot envelop myself in artistic silence, I'll thus have to admit it: You're right. The beginning of the trilogy has an esoteric aspect, assuming that we understand the expression correctly. With its nearly seven hundred pages, Bubbles provides an excessive theory of pairs, a theory based on a fundamental irony. While everyday thought is firmly convinced it knows everything about pairs�namely, that they are the result of adding one plus one (biographically speaking, this means the effect of an "encounter")�I undertake the experiment to demonstrate to what extent the "being-a-pair" [Paar-Sein] precedes all encounters. In my pair analysis, the number two, or the dyad, appears as the absolute figure, the pure bipolar form. Accordingly, it always takes precedence over the two single units of which it seems to be "put together." This can be most easily demonstrated in the relationship between mother and child�or, even better, between fetus and placenta. With this we enter the terrain of a radicalized philosophical psychology that departs from the general faith in the priority of individuality. The truly esoteric is not found in the books on sale at the airport bookstore; it is depth psychology, which reminds us of pre-individual, pre-subjective, pre-egoistical conditions. This brings me very close to Lacan, who spoke occasionally of the "democratic esotericism" of psychoanalysis. And you can see what zones we enter in my book's relatively scandalous chapters on "negative gynecology" and prenatal existence in the womb�I completely understand why some readers have perceived this as macabre.

The second volume develops the public and political consequences of these basic assumptions; in this sense, it could be described as the exoteric component of the project. It examines the notion that older cultures have imagined the world primarily as a spirit-infused circle. I tried to show in Globes how the geometricization of the cosmos was first carried out by the Greeks; after that I reconstructed the geometricization of God under the neo-Platonic philosophers, which gave me the feeling of reopening one of the most exciting chapters in the history of ideas. Out of all this resulted, as if by itself, a philosophical history of globalization: First the universe was globalized with the help of geometry, then the earth was globalized with the help of capital.

Finally, in the third volume of Spheres, I have thematized the modern world in terms of a theory of spatial multiplicities. I begin with the idea that the world is not structured monospherically and all-communicatively, as the classical holists thought, but rather polyspherically and interidiotically. At the center of this volume is an immunological theory of architecture, because I maintain that houses are built immune systems. I thus provide on the one hand an interpretation of modern habitat, and on the other a new view of the mass container. But when I highlight the apartment and the sports stadium as the most important architectural innovations of the modern, it isn't out of art- or cultural-historical interest. Instead my aim is to give a new account of the history of atmospheres, and in my view, the apartment and the sports stadium are important primarily as atmospheric installations. They play a central role in the development of abundance, which defines the open secret of the modern. The praise of luxury with which the book ends is, in my opinion, the decisive act in terms of diagnosing the present.

BF: Especially in the third volume, you develop nothing less than a new, up-to-date terminology of critical theory by which you historically contextualize and delimit terms from the Frankfurt School. A far-reaching critique of the contemporary reception of critical theory's inheritance runs through the book. In particular, you criticize what you view as the misleading interpretation of this tradition by the American academy, leading you to rehearse the conceptual history and historical situating of terms such as revolution and society. Can you summarize what this critique consists of and why you think that an entirely new vocabulary needs to be invented?

PS: The reason a new vocabulary is necessary in the cultural sciences can be explained in seven simple words: because the old one is basically useless. And why? Because all previous natural languages, including theoretical discourse, were developed for a world of weight and solid substances. They are thus incapable of expressing the experiences of a world of lightness and relations. Consequently they are not suited to articulate the basic experiences of the modern and the postmodern, which construct a world based on mobilization and the easing of burdens. This already allows me to explain why, in my view, the critical theory of the Frankfurt School is outdated and must be replaced by a completely different discourse: Because of their Marxist heritage, critical theorists succumb to the realistic temptation of interpreting the light as appearance and the heavy as essence. Therefore they practice criticism in the old style in that they "expose" the lightness of appearance in the name of the heaviness of the real. In reality, I think that it is through the occurrence of abundance in the modern that the heavy has turned into appearance�and the "essential" now dwells in lightness, in the air, in the atmosphere. As soon as this is understood, the conditions of "criticism" change dramatically. Marx argued that all criticism begins with the critique of religion; I would say instead that all criticism begins with the critique of gravity. In addition, we can recognize that European "critical theory" did not survive the trip across the Atlantic unscathed. The authentic critical theory "at home" was, above all, a kind of secret theology: It treated the failures of creation (aka society) and criticized reality in the (unnamed) name of the infinite. This approach was so cleverly encoded that American sociologists and literary critics could argue unchallenged that they were reading a plea for a multicultural society.

BF: Your use of images, idiosyncratic for books of philosophy, recalls contemporaries in the German-speaking realm such as Alexander Kluge, Klaus Theweleit, and to a certain extent W.G. Sebald. The images are used not as illustrations but as parallel narratives. Could one also consider Walter Benjamin's Arcades Project as a historical model that likewise includes an extensive image section? The question of your reference to The Arcades Project suggests itself because this book also presents a widely diverse examination of spaces and atmospheres that have marked the contemporary moment. Is it fair to say that, in a way, your examinations of the stadium and the apartment house of the twentieth century are continuing Benjamin's studies of the emerging modern era's spatial conception and the arcades?

PS: The inclusion of images in the flow of the text is my answer to the transformation of spatial consciousness in modern theory. Considered in terms of media history, I no longer write my philosophical prose on the page of a book but on a monitor page�that is, virtually, in hypertext space. The monitor space is a close relation of the modern exhibition space, a kind of electronic white cube. When you work there, it is logical that you imagine a second and third text "next to" the verbal text, and this is exactly what authors who work with visual parallel-narratives are doing.

The reference to Walter Benjamin is absolutely necessary in this context, and I'm pleased that you've brought up his name. However, I must admit that my relationship to Benjamin is not simple. On the one hand, his Arcades Project is utterly exemplary for today's cultural theory because it already anticipates almost everything that was to become important later�the passion for the archive; the "micrological" examination of the detail; media theory; discourse analysis; and the search for a sovereign viewpoint from which one can grasp the capitalistic totality. On the other hand, I'm convinced that Benjamin's work reaches a dead end and that he failed as a theorist. In my forthcoming book, Im Weltinnenraum des Kapitals: FY�r eine philosophische Theorie der Globalisierung (Inside the Internal Space of World Capital: For a Philosophical Theory of Globalization, 2005), you'll find a critique of Benjaminism that leads to a pretty devastating result. I accuse Benjamin of not really understanding, and thus only halfheartedly following, his own superb ideas around the creation of new interiors through capitalism. Even worse for me is the fact that he placed the historically outdated architectural type of the arcade at the center of this analysis, although already by his time it couldn't be ignored that the capitalistic interior had long since moved beyond the arcade stage. Sports stadiums, convention centers, large hotels, and resorts would have been far more worthy of Benjamin's attention. The whole idea of wanting to write an "ur-history of the nineteenth century" rests on a misconception. Thus I suggest examining the capitalistic interiors on their own relevant terms, which leads, consequently, to a theory of foam. What we need today is an "air-conditioning project" for large social entities or a generalized "greenhouse project." I think that in Spheres III one can already partly recognize what the beginnings of such a post-Benjaminian treatment of the pluralized spatial creations of the modern and postmodern might look like.

BF: Another post-Benjaminian book is Negri and Hardt's Empire. In the third volume of Spheres, you criticize these authors' approach, which rests on the term multitude. To what extent, in your opinion, is their investigation a failed effort?

PS: Let's first talk about Negri and Hardt's success: They have managed to give the current desire for radicality a novum organum, an accomplishment that deserves admiration. At the same time, I suspect that the secret behind the book's great success can be ascribed to its thinly veiled religious tones. At first one doesn't easily recognize the good old-left radicalism when Saint Francis takes the stage next to Marx and Deleuze. But this new alliance with the saints is instructive for the position of left radicalism in the post-Marxist situation. Whoever wants to practice fundamental opposition today needs allies who are not entirely of this world. In order to grasp the awkward situation of left radicalism, one should recall Leon Festinger's theory of cognitive dissonance. According to Festinger, ideologies that no longer match circumstances are reinterpreted by their believers until they appear to match them again�with the unavoidable result that theories become increasingly bizarre. Gershom Scholem clarified something similar in relation to the fate of Jewish prophetism. The gist of what he says is this: When prophetism fails, apocalypticism emerges; when apocalypticism fails, gnosis emerges. An analogous escalation can be observed in the political opposition movements since 1789: When the bourgeois revolution fails or is insufficient, left radicalism emerges; when left radicalism fails or is insufficient, the mystique of protest emerges. It seems to me that Negri has arrived at exactly this point. His "multitude" calls forth a community of angry saints in which the fire of pure opposition burns�yet it no longer offers a revolutionary project, instead testifying by its mere existence to a world counter to universal capitalism. Thus one cannot simply say that Negri's framework failed�it has already incorporated his failure. Perhaps it would be more accurate to claim that the political revolutionary has become transformed into a spiritual teacher. This is the price to be paid by anyone who seriously tries to develop a language of the left beyond resentment.


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Also see this comment in the enactive realism thread.

I plan to read that essay by Latour next.  At the outset, I wonder what he means by the parts being more complex than wholes.  It seems unlikely that he means that a neuron is more complex than a brain.  Perhaps he means that the brain depends on many parts which, in their relations, exceed "the brain itself"...?  Just speculating.  I'll read the essay soon and will get back to this.  I expect there's a relation here to S's notion of foams...

Sorry for all the Latour references in this thread but I just cannot find much by Slot online. Here's Latour's book Reassembling the Social (Oxford UP, 2005).

Synchronistically, I came across these remarkable images of our "facial" history on Facebook today right after reading a beautiful meditation on the evolution of the human face in Sloterdijk's book, Bubbles.  Here is an excerpt:

"The possibility of faciality is connected to the process of anthropogenesis itself.  The drawing out of human faces from the snouts of mammals: this points to a facial and interfacial drama whose beginnings extend back into the early history of the species.  A glance at the facial forms of those apes most closely related to humans shows that they too, from afar, are on the way to a quasi-human faciality, even though they have scarcely covered half of the evolutionary distance between the mammal’s head and the human face.  We refer to this biologically and culturally motivated setting apart of human faces from animal faces as protraction.  It is not the portrait that enables the face to be highlighted to the point of recognizability; rather, it is protraction that elevates faces to the threshold of portrayability in an open-ended facio-genetic process.  Protraction is the clearing of being in the face; it invites us to conceive of the history of being as a somatic event.  The opening up of the face – even more than cerebralization and the creation of the hand – enabled people to become animals open to the world, or, more significantly, to their fellow humans.  Its purpose, expressed in anthropological terms, is an evolution of luxury within an insulating hothouse; its agent and medium is above all, among other elements, the interfacial space or sphere.  Anyone seeking proof of the reality and effectiveness of intimate spheric processes can practically touch this subtle realissimum here.  It is sufficient to call to mind that human faces have pulled themselves out of their animal form simply by looking at one another, so to speak, in the course of a long-term evolutionary drama.  Naturally, sight and selection are positively connected.  That means: this turning of faces towards other faces among humans became face-creating and face-opening, because the welcome qualities of faces for the eyes of the potential sexual partner inform genetic processes via selection-effective preferences.  One could thus say that in a certain sense, human faces produce one another; they blossom within an oscillatory circuit of luxuriant reciprocal opening.  Even the ancient faces from the age of hordes were already sculptures of the attentiveness showed by the sapiens specimens as they regarded one another.  The evolutionarily successful type Homo sapiens sapiens, who advanced to Southwest Asia and the Mediterranean from the edges of the African deserts sixty or seventy thousand years ago in the third exodus wave (after Homo erectus one million years ago and the Neanderthal two hundred thousand years ago), embodied a slightly more graceful branch of the Homo species; this type, named Cro-Magnon man after one of the main places of archeological discovery in Southwest France, developed into Homo sapiens aestheticus, with whom elegance was connected to selection advantages.  The more recent facial genesis – with its fair and foul monsters – has taken place in an interfacial hothouse where human faces grow like physiognomic orchids.  This facialization...is a species-wide, acute noetic-facial drama."


P.S.  No worries about the Latour references here, Ed.  That looks like a great find!

Here's an interesting-looking essay (I've read the beginning and conclusion thus far), explicating Slot's notions of "the monstrous" (among other things) -- which seems resonant with the Cthulhu-theme we've explored elsewhere.


On Anthropospheres and Aphrogrammes: Peter Sloterdijk's Thought Ima...


An excerpt:


"1. Introduction

In an essay on the changing forms of the religious in the modern world, Peter
Sloterdijk writes: «One can measure the rank of philosophers in the
modernisation process by their role in the emergence of that monstrosity
which is beginning to reveal itself to radical thought as the totally secularising
world» (Sloterdijk, 1997, p. 22). In the present essay we will apply this
standard to its author himself. To outline the anticipated outcome of our
investigation: we intend to demonstrate that (and how) Peter Sloterdijk
throughout his oeuvre, and especially in the Spheres [Sphären] trilogy,
produces thought images [Denkbilder] of «that monstrosity» which reflect the
world image [Weltbild] and world-shaping [Welt-Bilden] that mark the present
stage of unfolding of the mind [Geist]. We also intend to show that, and how,
these mental images distinguish their author as one of those obstetricians of
the coming-into-the-world [Zurweltkommen] of the human being or — which
amounts to the same thing — of the emergence of world [Welt], who deserve to
be called ―philosophers‖ in the eminent sense.

According to Sloterdijk, the world has become something monstrous after
the death of God, which is to say something unbounded, unconstituted,
something that can no longer be located. Among many other things, this event
means the collapse of the traditional metaphysical threefold relationship
between God, the soul and the world. This in turn means that the world, which
used to be complemented, structured and held in a well-bounded form by the
transcendent pole, has now been inflated into an immanent Absolute, into an
«unconstituted whole with no outside», for which only one name is
appropriate: the monstrous (Sloterdijk, 1997, p. 22). When looking for the
right word to articulate the incommensurable and astonishing or even
terrifying aspects of our cosmic sojourn as post-metaphysical beings,
Sloterdijk also speaks in superlative terms of the «hypermonstrosity» that the
world has become since the dawn of radical modernity (ibid.). Even if we
cannot immediately oversee all the implications of this process — which, we
might add, distinguishes modernity as a cosmological and spiritual event of the
first order — it is clear that conventional world pictures [Weltbilder] of
whatever hue are too innocuous to continue giving a face to the
hypermonstrosity which is the world.

Assuming that philosophical thought does not wish to do without the
picture (or image, as we prefer to call it) as a medium of cognition also in
the future — and as the works of Sloterdijk show, it can afford this less than ever
before — then the aspects of visuality and imagination in the cognitive process,
which have never quite been eliminated despite the sustained attempts at
cognitive cleansing mounted by scientific purism, would need to be further
developed into a quality of the thinking process that I have previously termed
«hyperimagery» (Jongen, 2008). Although Peter Sloterdijk himself does not
use this term — instead he speaks of morphological thinking and of spheres —
his frequent use of the prefix hyper- suggests that the expression would be
terminologically justified. We will try to prove the applicability of this term to
his thinking as we proceed."

The essay touches on a number of relevant themes for our forum -- post-metaphysics, a 'new' (de/reconstructed?) hermetics, even what might be considered (in Wilber's language) the vision-logic mode of cognition. 

Two more excerpts:

"The spherological quest for morphological concepts and mental images that
make visible the monstrosity of the modern world is directly linked — albeit
heterodoxically — to the tradition of metaphysical and even pre-metaphysical
spherical creations.8 Yet the psycho-physical laws of morphology that the
metaphysical thinkers projected with such vigour onto the entire world, which
they construed as a monosphere, are still at work even after its collapse. Today
they are producing a «multifocal, multiperspectival and heterarchic»
(Sloterdijk, 2004, p. 23) variety of spheres — the «foam». «The One Sphere
may have imploded, but the foam is living!» (Sloterdijk, 2004, p. 26). This
aphorism captures in a nutshell the shift from the metaphysical world picture to
the post-metaphysical world image, according to Sloterdijk.

Foam and the bubbles that compose it are so to speak products of the
decomposition of the metaphysical monosphere. They are the atmospheric and
symbolic human spaces, manifesting themselves in material architectures, in
which societies, cultures and sub-cultural units are linked: the scientific
community, political pressure groups, associations, circles of friends and
households, and more recently bloggers, gamers and flash mobs. They are
linked through their various traditions, moods and world pictures [Weltbilder ]
in a conglomerate of larger and smaller psycho-mental soap bubbles on the
basis of the co-isolation principle. They all form «breathable milieus» that are
distinct from the monstrous space of the outside into which they are held out
[hineingehalten]. Unlike in the metaphysical, the one and whole sphere of
Being, in a foamy universe of this kind there is no longer any centre from which
the ―whole‖ — which is in fact no longer a whole — might be overseen and
explained. Nor is there any longer a circumference that would give boundaries
and clear contours to the foam in its entirety. What there is, is different
perspectives and views that shift from one bubble in the foam to the next, and
the possibility for the observer of changing places between the bubbles.

8 If we construe hermetics as the heterodoxy of metaphysics that attempted to think the hyperimage on the basic of metaphysical premises, then this makes Peter Sloterdijk a hermetic — the ―25th philosopher‖ so to speak — with a contemporary level of reflection. For a more detailed discussion of this, see Jongen, 2009."

"According to Sloterdijk, in a situation like this, searching for a panoramic
overview, for a single grand theory, is a «nostalgic longing for a world picture»
that will be «driven inevitably into resignation» (Sloterdijk, 1998, p. 77).
Nonetheless, his spherology delivers nothing but a meta- or hyper-theory of
theories and perspectives on the hypermonstrosity that is the world. Is this not
self-contradictory? It is not self-contradictory — or is so at most in the good
sense of the word hinted at above — if we recognise that spherology does not
produce another world picture, but seeks — through hyperimages — to shape
the perception of and navigation within those ―world images‖ of which the
world itself is made (at least as far as it extends beyond the mere physis). The
fact that this trans-logical, morphological mode of seeing must be articulated in
the same linear medium of writing as any ordinary worldview-philosophy, and
must use the same alphabet and the same vocabulary, should not blind us to the
yawning intellectual abyss that divides the two. We can rule out the possibility
that eventually the most advanced thinking will seek new non-linear, postalphabetic
forms of notation."



Psychoanalysis misses the significance of “nobjects” (neither subjects nor objects) such as placental blood, intrauterine acoustics, and other medial givens, and ultimately fails to see how a child develops an identity not by recognizing itself at a distance in the mirror but through presubjective resonances. In the prenatal embeddedness of the “mother–child bi-unity,” an intrauterine symbiosis with the nonself overrules lack in desire with a primary ecstatic “excess” (or affluence – Überfluss): in terms of the connectivity of flows Sloterdijk’s concept of the “sphere” often resembles Deleuze and Guattari’s purely relational concept of the desiring-machine (2004: 687, n. 577)). In the rituals through which cultures less object-oriented than ours have dealt with the loss of the “original companion,” such as those surrounding the placenta, one can recognize “immune strategies” that serve to preserve some kind of membrane-like “bubble” – transparent, virtual, porous – or interior “lifeworld” (Lebenswelt) relieved of an unliveable outside (Umwelt) (2001b: 172).



I like this conception of identity formation through 'pre-subjective resonances. And how, from that point forward, identity rippling out to format reality in accordance with this original patterning: from sphere to sphere, immunization to immunization. Is this a pattern of fractal growth? However it is figured, I relate to this rather better than to psychoanalytic accounts of self, or to thin metaphysical accounts of reality that stand way back from their object of study. It’s been some time since I read David Abram’s The Spell of the Sensuous, nonetheless, something of that book’s mimetic imbrication of body, mind and world is recalled.


In the prenatal embeddedness of the “mother–child bi-unity,” an intrauterine symbiosis with the nonself overrules lack in desire with a primary ecstatic “excess” (or affluence – Überfluss): in terms of the connectivity of flows.


How does this accord with Loy's account of how lack is resolved in the healing words of Dogen, Hui-Neng, and Eckhart. There, lack is resolved by an enactment of the very truth that there is no separation between self and other. Does the language of  Sloterdijk achieve this in ways that are comparable to Eckhart, et al? I’m not sure, but my sense is that it could be thought through successfully. On another tack, it would be interesting to see how he negotiates the 'pre/trans fallacy'.


In the face of a culture of “unbridled analysis” (1987b: 13), new complexities, and a loss of critical overview, he presents a “wild philosophy” or “neosynthetic system” to seduce or force the reader toward insights into “great cohesions” and “grand associations” (2001a: 30). His method is the juxtaposed sampling of diverse discourses, archives, and media (many of his books are strewn with illustrations, contributing to a plastic or material argumentation), with the aim of overcoming the perversions of analytical spirit or the resignation of philosophical critique to counterfactualism and abstractions in the face of complex reality.


Note here the plastic or 'material argumentation' and, of course, 'the perversions of analytic spirit. If it's not obvious from other comments I've made, I heartily concur with the use of ‘aesthetics’ by Sloterdijk to embody/speak those aspects of existence that are completely resistant to normal philosophical, or scientific argumentation. I’m somewhat puzzled, though, in regard to some of his comments about Adorno and style. I quite follow Sloterdijk’s seeking to react against the Frankfurt School’s grey blanket of scepticism, however, my understanding is that Adorno was committed to making content and style work together. On a related note, I wonder what Sloterdijk would make of Levi Bryant's ever finer delineations of the withdrawn object. And what does he mean when he says that aesthetics is the physiognomy of thought? At times, I find Sloterdijk’s thought moves in and out of grasp in the very same movement – somewhat like the ripple through a rope cracked, it passes into the mind, but its trajectory and movement is such that it’s can’t be held more than momentarily. That’s got to be a good thing, or maybe just to point out that more reading is required.

Lovely reflections, Dial.

How does this accord with Loy's account of how lack is resolved in the healing words of Dogen, Hui-Neng, and Eckhart. There, lack is resolved by an enactment of the very truth that there is no separation between self and other. Does the language of  Sloterdijk achieve this in ways that are comparable to Eckhart, et al? I’m not sure, but my sense is that it could be thought through successfully. On another tack, it would be interesting to see how he negotiates the 'pre/trans fallacy'.


Yes, I think that is worth exploring.  I'm also thinking how this account might relate to Kristeva's notions of abjection and the abject -- how Sloterdijk's use of the term "monstrous" might bear on this.  I'm also thinking of religious connotations of "monstrous," i.e. monstrum (a break-down in "nature," a warning, an evil omen) and monstrance (a vessel for displaying the sacred communion wafer), both related to a root meaning "to show."


Regarding the pre/trans fallacy, I'm not sure how (well) he navigates it yet.  I will continue reading with this in mind.  I am thinking it would be fruitful, also, to compare (and possibly supplement or extend) his views with those of co-post-Heideggerian scholar, David Michael Kleinberg-Levin, who has written extensively on the hermeneutic recovery of perinatal and infantile experience (in a way which does avoid this fallacy, IMO).


I appreciated, also, your reference to Abram's Spell of the Sensuous -- a link I hadn't anticipated, but which does seem appropriate.  Some time back, I posted a thread on Abram's newest work, Becoming Animal (a nod to Deleuze there), which continues his phenomenological in-/e-vocation of the chiasmic interface of body, mind, and earth.  Each of his meditations in that text could be read, I feel, as the swelling or eventuation of spherological intimacies.

Thanks Balder.

I like the names you’ve offered up in response. Out of them, Abrams is the only one I have much sense of. I'm not sure exactly how Kristeva uses the term abject, for example. However, if you’ll allow me to completely ignore my ignorance and go with what I know of the word ‘abject’: a part of my thinking is that we move from failure to failure - imperfection to imperfection. And to do this successfully requires the full recognition - aka performance/realization - of each failure so as to meet lack with fullness. This meeting of lack with fullness overcomes that very lack and so allows us to move on freely. I'm only musing at this point, but it may well be that Sloterdijk's stragegies of parody, mimesis and excess in regard to the critical thought that preceded and confronted him, were designed to effect this same realization and moving beyond.  Certainly he stakes himself on immanent critique. I wonder if this is a move towards the ippo-gujin of language that Loy saw realized in Dogen et al.

Sphären I. Blasen (“Bubbles”) is intended to be read as a “micro- spherological” “medial poetics of existence” (1998b: 81) and mainly consists of a radical critique of subjectivity, “the fundamental neurosis of Western culture” (1998b: 85). Heidegger’s “Turn” and Foucault Deleuze’s “Outside” are invoked as welcome corrections,but for Sloterdijk they have to be supplemented by a profound theory of intimacy, understood as “a mise-en-abyme in what is closest” (Abgründigkeit im Nächstliegenden), and through the “subversive effects . . . that the sweet, the sticky” have on “proud subjectivity” (ibid.: 92). Thus, Sphären is a “diving school” for the “vaults” of “presubjective and preobjective con-subjectivity” and other immersive principles (2001a: 295).

I would relate to this - bowdlerizing the term and Sloterdijk somewhat - as a form of tantra. And, of course, Sloterdijk spent some time with that tantric trickster Osho, who is one more possible reason to recommend him as a source of IPM. I say this, not because Osho is an impeccable source, but simply because it evidences that S. will have engaged in the simple practice of being present/immanent as a means to setting the world in motion. (The world one is present to, that is) That is, he will have personal experience of how being present allows the elements of the moment to reflexively fashion their own opening in that 'mise-en-abyme of sticky intimacy' he is quoted on above.


I don't yet have much of a grasp of 'monstrous' in Sloterdijk's lexicon. It has appeared in ways that seem contradictory to me. I know that connections elsewhere on the board have been made between Chthulu and the monstrous. I'm committed to a positive view of existence - simply as a pragmatic article of faith - so frightening myself with an unholy animistic void lurking to overcome/consume is something I avoid! Truly though, my experience is that reality held within attention balances, deepens and ‘sweetens’. This consistent feedback is the basis of my faith. To construct an approach based around Chthulu would be to place one’s datum point in what Theravaden buddhism calls the dukkha-nanas. And these dukkha-nanas are in turn called – following St John of the Cross - the Dark Night in certain Buddhist circles. I’m not sure how one would arrive at a philosophy of excess via the Dark Night. In any case, this is just musing; I need to understand more clearly just what the ‘monstrous’ is for Sloterdijk. It may have nothing to do with my already fabricated view of Chthulu, and more to do with the pragmatic use of rhetorical strategies - or, something else entirely.

One more thought: You note the dual meanings of monstrous - as 'showing' both the sacred and the natural. Jane Bennet views human with animal/object crossings - something decidedly unnatural - as one of the sites for 'enchantment'. Enchantment being that altered state she views as key to the generosity Sloterjijk also recommends. Somewhere in the middle of Kristeva's abjection, Sloterdijk's monstrous, and Bennet's enchantment is the clearing where life gathers and mobilizes itself. 

It's interesting that for him physics and math cannot apprehend his existential space due to their abstract nature. The existential space requires an "I," an embodied being-in-the-world. This is akin to my recent posts about the abstract ideality of the objectivist paradigm and the embodied alternative in the real/false reason thread. From the latter ever more abstract levels do not approach some final or transcendental Source or Whole but are themselves based on embodied basic categories and image schemas. It seems Slot has similar ideas in that there is no absolute Whole, but is it related to Lakoff and company's ideas? Aside from such generalizations as I've made?

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What paths lie ahead for religion and spirituality in the 21st Century? How might the insights of modernity and post-modernity impact and inform humanity's ancient wisdom traditions? How are we to enact, together, new spiritual visions – independently, or within our respective traditions – that can respond adequately to the challenges of our times?

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