Nicolas Hausdorf (@dcntrrr) co-authored Superstructural Berlin (Zero Books). Then Zero Books threw him under the bus when he started writing for Jacobite. If you'd like to discuss this podcast with me and others, suggest future guests, or read/watch/listen to more content on these themes, request an invitation here.
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If you would like to become a philosopher or any type of serious intellectual you must acquaint yourself with the concept of abjection. To be a philosopher one must be abject, and the reason a lot of people don't understand anything about this concept is because most contemporary philosophers want to be respected; they want to be in good standing in society. They want to be accepted. Whereas what we should try to be is abjected.
If you want to think what other people are unable or unwilling to think, and you want to express it in any way that has any impact at all, then you should expect to be mercilessly, brutally rejected — abjected — and pretty much thrown out of every possible social standing that is available to people. It's just part of the game, folks, it always has been. I think what we're seeing now with what is called political correctness or cancel culture is, in some sense, just the catching up of digital culture to this basic, essential reality, which has always obtained. If you want to say anything that's meaningfully and interestingly and importantly importantly true. You should expect to be rejected.
The great saints have always been abject; great criminals, for instance, have always been abject. the criminal and the saint essentially converge. The true intellectual and the artist and the true political militant, all of these figures tend to converge in a tendency towards abjection — a kind of complete, utter incommensurability, a kind of impossibility of being integrated into contemporary status quo institutions. And that sounds kind of sexy and impressive and cool, but in practice it's not. In practice, in any particular status quo environment and any particular epoch, to be a true intellectual or artist or saint or whatever... is to suffer, it's to be alone. It's to be isolated. It's for people to hate you, pretty much.
You become anti-fragile, one might even say. All of the ways in which people usually punish you and try to constrain your behavior... Not only are you robust to them, you're unaffected by them. They don't bother you, they motivate you. They make you feel even more energized and more emboldened because when someone is disgusted by you or is mean to you, if you can actually feel encouragement through that, if you hack your systems and your circuitry in a way that you actually feel positive affect because you realize in this longer term historical way that sort of abjection is positively correlated with radical truth-seeking... if you're able to experience that positive affect from it, then all of a sudden you enter into this new type of non-linear psychological-productive dynamic where the more people hate you the more able to produce, the more insights you're able to glean, the deeper you're able to go into your abject search for whatever form of truth you're after.
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If you'd like to discuss this podcast with me and others, suggest future guests, or read/watch/listen to more content on these themes, request an invitation here. This conversation was first recorded on August 28, 2019 as a livestream on Youtube. To receive notifications when future livestreams begin, subscribe to my channel with one click, then click the little bell.
After my first livestream with Nina Power and DC Miller, we decided to sit down and continue the conversation. In this podcast, we discuss whether or not the Left can be saved from its current insanity. This conversation was recorded in March 2019, right before I left England for good.
Nina and DC are currently raising money for a legal campaign against Luke Turner. You can support their campaign here. If you'd like to discuss this podcast with me and others, suggest future guests, or read/watch/listen to more content on these themes, request an invitation here.
A major epistemological foul in Continental Philosophy is that it often treats concepts as if they were tested and validated empirical models, when they are not. People routinely speak as if X’s concept is “built on” Y’s concept — but the only justification for thinking and speaking this way is scientific method, and they don’t use scientific method. As soon as you’re referring to an accumulated intellectual consensus, there are only two possible principles behind that consensus: either selection from experimental and intersubjectively verifiable tests (science) or, essentially, fashion. If X’s concept is seen as the contemporary frontier of some philosophical position, it is not because X discovered and validated something beyond the previous scholarly consensus. It is because social circumstances are such that X commands respect at the moment. The good post-structuralists took this seriously and called bullshit.
It’s a sociological reality that philosophy is a relatively arbitrary, competitive language game, and thinkers such as Deleuze ask: Well, what should we do if this is the case? And the answer is to set sail. Don’t go back to port, the port of whatever you are supposed to respect as the consensus structure, because that consensus is arbitrary. This might sound anti-authoritarian, but it’s not exactly — it’s opposition and flight from fake authority. Deleuze says anyone can form an alliance with the outside, with external reality.
Rebel against false authorities, but become a scientist or an artist or a philosopher — and to the degree one becomes such things, one becomes loyal to true authorities. All forms of loyalty are forms of submission to authority. The point of post-structuralism was to free us from false authorities, and to figure out what to do from there. Turns out, it’s complicated. But there can be found a sincere search for answers and solutions in this movement. How can we produce social cohesion without fascist implications? Deleuze made real discoveries on this puzzle, they deserve to be understood without fashionable obscurity…
In a strange way, post-structuralism was rebelling against precisely what contemporary “anti-postmoderns” such as Jordan Peterson blame post-structuralism for representing. The old structuralists were the real charlatans, but people like Jordan Peterson want to shoot the messenger. Post-structuralism said “These older philosophers and social scientists are claiming structures not really justified by science, we’re going to be honest about this and work from there…” But then they get blamed for the fallout.