Tag Archives: truth procedure

militant science

i found out about this mathematician, grigori perelman, a couple of years back and then forgot his name and forgot about him. what i didn’t forget about, however, is the story behind his achievements and its relationship to the procedure to truth in the field of science.

i won’t pretend to understand the significance of perelman’s discovery or its larger implications for mathematicians. the significance of perelman is that he rejected all attempts that were made to compromise him, including a $1 000 000 “prize.” not only did he arrive at truth by solving poincaré’s conjecture but he displayed militant fidelity to the event of his discovery by refusing to be awarded for his achievement.

if pure truth can be attained in the manner of perelman in science, there is hope in the other evental sites for the procedure to truth (art, love, politics).

Rage and Politics (fragments not unrelated to jealousy)

The successful politician is one who can successfully conceal the stain of the Real, that irreducible seed of desire that animates sociality in general and ambition in particular. Take note: to recover from a sex scandal is a privilege not usually granted to politicians; professional athletes are more likely to receive a pardon for this so-called offence. However, if infidelity is indeed an “offence” – what or whom could it possibly offend? Even outside of political marriages, infidelity is rather par for the course. If love is a site for truth, it is only arrived at by practicing militant commitment to the object of one’s love. Betrayal is as necessary to the political as divorce law is to marriage: both are and will become ever more common and profitable. A successful politician is free to have extra-marital affairs, so long as they are concealed; a very successful politician may fuck an entire nation, and conceal it behind an empire of screens (Ahmadinejad, Berlusconi, Bush, Putin … our future politics?).

However, what I term “the political” is to be opposed to what I term Politics. The term “political” is to be conceived as a public forum for private interests; a space in which a public order of office is used not for the benefit of the public but for a private individual’s personal gain. This “gain” may be directly sexual, as in the case of Steve Ellis, or it may take the form of a more subtle erotic – in either case, the dynamic is the same, if it is merely the political at stake: an asymmetrical and brutish exchange of power, whether it is a Korean woman who is essentially raped or the entire public of a community put at a disadvantage. Let us not kid ourselves about what we are exactly.

It is the political today that prevents the establishment of Politics proper. Politics proper would establish the names of what constitute “the private individual” and subtract those from the names that register as “public interest.” Such an operation would clearly identify the excess elements (i.e. names) which, although a part of the social situation (the social situation becoming politics in the process of subtraction), are not included within it. Anything less than this is merely political. I do not wish to rehearse the brilliance of Zizek on this point, so please just read his books or believe me.

The problem with the political is that it skips the process of determining which names are to be subtracted from the social situation and simply attempts to form policy out of excessive remainders. This is what is meant by Ideological State Apparatus: the generation of New Names, without first establishing the minimal order of those names. “Names,” of course signifying the different, infinite, myriad forms of human negativity and social antagonism. Today, there are relatively few names to choose among in the realm of Politics (e.g. Right / Left, NDP, Liberal, PC, Labour, Tory). For the loss of Politics, we are compensated with an abundance, a genuine excess of names in the consumer cultural field. This is our anti-oedipal complex (Deleuze, Guittari).

All is not lost and the tide will swing the other way because history is undead and it remembers: even without meaning or at its end history is still dialectical. The rage that keeps the vampire’s heart beating beyond the grave is fueled by blood. Politics now will be the Politics of Rage; the first thing to be subtracted from future sociality will be rage: it will be the paper upon which are listed the conditions for the existence of truth in Politics. True, the state may hold a legal monopoly on violence. But it uses this power sparingly, to intimidate rather than eradicate its enemies (for now). Despite its tactics of bullying, the state is not terrific. It may be horrible, but even it is afraid of being terrorized: like a paranoid miser, it jealously guards what no longer brings it joy (can the hoarder of gold really be said to be enjoying his gold?).

Politics is to be considered the practice of militant fidelity to rage, not necessarily violence but violent indignation at the trivial pursuits of politicians doing the political (more or less playing the jealousy game of lies and secrets, howling when they scent a whiff of Truth). Not terror but its simulacrum: to frighten the state into believing the paranoid threats it dreams have become terminally real and watch as it kisses the phantom.

Jealousy and the Political

The difference between “Politics” proper (the practice of a militant social procedure to truth) and the “political” (indecision due to indeterminacy over a name, a name’s property, or a name’s relation to the Real it represents) is to be inscribed as the difference between knowing one’s “rights” and asserting them. Politicians, as we know, only play at politics in public forums: I call this “play” “the political.” Politics, as we know, is practiced in secret by politicians in rooms behind curtains. Obscenity and scandal are now normal and assert themselves with complete complicity on part of the public: gone are the days when we could charge our leaders with the crime of betrayal – alas! the ballot box is not a guillotine.

There is no need to assert rights when there is individual knowledge of them; when the units operating within a symbolic order are “informed” as to their proper behaviour toward one another – rights are obvious, without being asserted. Of course, economic power relations turn the “obvious” into the obscure; the signs of economic status are ambiguous (as all signs are) – one is never sure what political procedures the Other followed to attain that status. Politics, in this regard, would mean determining whether or not the procedure the other followed was a lawful one according to the status of one’s knowledge of the situation – that is: whether or not the names used in the description of the procedure are the correct ones, whether the properties of the names are correspondences and not merely connections, and whether or not the representation of the name is the one best suited to represent the Real of the situation.

The exact place where jealousy and the political intersect is in the phrase “possession of rights.” Whatever form these supposed “rights” happen to take: human, animal, women’s, men’s, environmental, auto, consumer, employer, employee, “to pleasure, to pain,” etc – the result is the same: assertions. The desire for rights is irreducible but not irremediable: we can change the way we pursue and “act out” certain of our rights, for example: the freedom of speech is better exercised when circulating language (conversation, laughter, meaning, etc.), rather than bringing it to a halt (the internet, for such a refined technology, is filled with shit).

We are so jealous of the rights of others – especially if they have none, in which case we force them to assume the pose of “liberty” – we are forced to act and seem as free as possible. It seems as if the assertion of “rights” (ours or others) is an imperative or injunction that impels us to perform freedom: the political as a process of excess – politics as a process of subtraction. “Political” in the sense of a dramatic ritual, reduced to its bare elements, and reproduced as a code ad infinitum. “Politics:” actions / gestures to be interpreted, not for their dramatic significance but for their validity pertaining to the current situation (which may or may not be the site of an event for politics).

Paradoxically, as mentioned above, it seems for us to be a perverse desire to “liberate” those who are not free – or who do not want to be free. So-called political, medical, social “intervention” is nothing but this perversity. We want to make the slaves like us: into masters who do not know their own desire – except in the performance of the slave, constantly amused but never satisfied. Or the reverse: we are slaves that desire to see the masters’ in chains’ – to see them perform our fantasy. These examples are examples of the “political” at its worst: when the desire of the Other becomes little more than a game of possessive jealousy, to add to the other what they lack (or vice versa) in order to make them the same as us!

The current trend in our political situation, as far as I have observed, is to possess “difference” – as if difference were a thing that actually existed or an object with a clear definition. It is impossible to tell whether something appears different or whether its difference is singular; the decision to judge something in the name of difference is now the criteria of justice. However, difference itself is split: between being condemned to villainy and being a grace beyond reproach. My government (Canada) seems to be bent on promoting “difference for the sake of difference,” rather than pursuing difference as a possible evental site (which is not limited to politics). Asserting difference, not being different.

When there is no knowledge left – just names: this is where politics can emerge, where difference can be itself, and the social can begin to build a system based upon the basic elements of the situation. When knowledge becomes the prerequisite criteria for political representation – when even the signs of knowledge translate directly into political power: this is trying to own the language of the situation, a process of exclusion that, paradoxically, is ready, willing, and able to include any term as long as it’s new or belong to any trajectory of thought as long as it’s trendy. The state of “just names” means that each term must be evaluated by each: its value determined from localized points of view that both belong to and are included in the situation to be altered by the practice of politics proper.

critique of valentine’s day: why love is no longer a site for truth

No rose without a thorn. Yes, but many a thorn without rose. – Schopenhauer, A Few Parables

The lover would test the beloved, friend would test the friend; the testing no doubt is based on love, but this violently burning desire to test, this wishful craving to put love to the test, nevertheless testifies that the love itself in unconsciously insecure. – Kierkegaard, Works of Love

Sex without a condom now exists only in fiction. Only novels and films preserve the memory of free copulation, with no precautions – old, immoral practices which future generations will doubtless laugh at unrestrainedly. What will they make of these irresponsible images of entwined couples obeying the dictates of pleasure alone? But they will understand the eroticism of chastity belts even less. – Baudrillard, Cool Memories IV

Love: the most personal site for an event that would initiate the procedure to truth is opposed to Art, Politics, and Science. That truth can be established between two beings in the forum of love is now an almost utter impossibility; the encroachment of the economy (which is not a site for the event of truth) into the sphere of love turns the pursuit of truth into a game.

Who can say that they love the Other with the militant fidelity that the Truth requires? Very few, if any, I would say. We are reminded of the story of two lovers who are too impoverished to buy each other gifts; she sells her beautiful hair to buy him a diamond studded watch strap, he sells his platinum watch to buy her tortoise-shell combs. Sacrifice is the essence of this story, and sacrifice is precisely what is missing from the site of love today.

Love can no longer provide the site for the establishment of truth between two human beings; how many lies are there? how many proofs of love are necessary in order to either love or be loved? how many lovers are willing to sacrifice their beloved for “something / someone better?” No, for all the discourse containing love we may be sure it has disappeared entirely from our being; this is not unlike the Romantic vision of Nature: it could only be an object of reverence after it had been laid waste.

The commidification of love via Valentine’s Day is none other than this: a challenge to believe in love, a challenge to men to give tokens of their love, a challenge to women to accept their lovers’ gifts. If you really believe in love, you will “celebrate” Valentine’s Day! If you really are a man, you will shower your beloved with confections of all sorts, flowers with the scent of beauty, precious jewels mined by children. If you are really a woman, you will accept these gifts as your due (not unlike a prostitute – but at least the prostitute has the dignity of not being deluded into believing that she is loved).

So, why do so many “rise to the challenge” of love posed by Valentine’s Day? The need to “prove” that one loves can no longer be sustained by the simplicity of the sentence, “I love you.” Words are cheap, they are free. Anything that costs money is more a proof of love than a sonnet, or a villanelle, or a rondeau – and this is the sadness of our age of supposed “free love.”

To love should be a duty (‘Thou Shalt Love’), not an injunction (‘Thou Must Love’). We will take up love to display our militant fidelity to the beloved – whether we are loved or not. To put it in the words of the poet who never wrote a poem:

“But when it is a duty to love, there no test is needed and the insulting stupidity of wishing to test is superfluous; since love is higher than any proof, it has already more than met the test, in the same sense that faith “more than conquers.”

The reality is that we look upon love not as a duty, not as serving a cause, not as a limitation in which there is a certain kind of liberation (the kind of liberation writing a sonnet bestows: infinite capacity within a finite form). Today, “to love” is, at best, a tedious chore that one only goes through the motions of; a chore serving the principle of performance, not the cause of desire; a “freedom” that no one wants but knows not what to do with.