Saturday, March 11, 2023

What Am I?

"I AM WHAT I AM." Never has domination found
such an innocent-sounding slogan. The maintenance
of the self in a permanent state of deterioration, in
a chronic state of near-collapse, is the best-kept
secret of the present order of things. The weak,
depressed, self-critical, virtual self is essentially that
endlessly adaptable subject required by the ceaseless
innovation of production, the accelerated obsolescence
of technologies, the constant overturning of
social norms, and generalized flexibility. It is at the
same time the most voracious consumer and, paradoxically,
the most productive self, the one that will
most eagerly and energetically throw itself into the
slightest project, only to return later to its original
larval state.

"WHAT AM I," then? Since childhood, I've been
involved with flows of milk, smells, stories, sounds,
emotions, nursery rhymes, substances, gestures,
ideas, impressions, gazes, songs, and foods. What am
I? Tied in every way to places, sufferings, ancestors,
friends, loves, events, languages, memories, to all
kinds of things that obviously are not me. Everything
that attaches me to the world, all the links that
constitute me, all the forces that compose me don't
form an identity, a thing displayable on cue, but a
singular, shared, living existence, from which
emerges-at certain times and places-that being
which says "1." Our feeling of inconsistency is simply
the consequence of this foolish belief in the permanence
of the self and of the little care we give to
what makes us what we are.

Invisible Committee, The Coming Insurrection

Thursday, March 9, 2023

Lines of Flight

Empire rose in oasis, or river valleys caged by desert because there was a lack of any easy line of flight.

Imperial power is today, at its historical peak. The term Imperial is rooted in the verb imperō which means I command, give orders to, impose, demand. It is also composed of the Latin im and parō, which means to arrange, order, contrive, and design. Parō comes from the indo-european root per, as to be in front, to come before, to produce, procure, bring forward, bring forth. Im means inside, within, into, upon, but also against, relating to the prefix in. Therefore Imperial power should be understood, and evidently so, as that which both comes in front of or wants to produce a specific order, but also and in doing so, constantly acts against the coming into being of other orders. 

Imperialism's history has been one of, on the one hand, shutting down lines of flight from its vision of coming into being. On the other hand, it has been one of redirecting the wild, uncontrollable adaptability, power and new lines of flight released when it destroys or shuts down the free coming into being of other orders. Its symbolic and objective structural machinery evolves to harness and capture those very lines of flight as the primary source of power for the engines of accumulation. Therefore its 'cage' has come to resemble the opposite, a mirage of liberation, whose image and glow ease the fact of its distance, or whose potential existence elicits our desperate pursuit. 

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Imposter Syndrome

The only time we find any relief from our imposter syndrome is when we are deconstructing why we always have imposter syndrome... XXOO - Brendon Carlin

"A critical metaphysics could emerge as a science
of apparatuses . .. . " - Tiqqun

Thursday, February 16, 2023

On the Task of the Pedagogue

 Adelard of Bath's translation of Euclid's Elements, c. 1309–1316

The issue is to be subordinated to a priesthood of world makers, to a small cadre of cosmogonic bagpipers, to the operetta types, to the dark magicians; it is that inhabitants of a world have been distanced from an understanding of and from participation in design. To become subsumed in full belief of a fiction’s reality or naturalness (whether of the ancient or contemporary variety), is to be in total existential dependency and therefore be personal invested in its reproduction. It gives you the existences and their essences, the tools and their form of use or built-in constraints, and puts you in command of establishing your own presence; but with the very same gesture that you command, you are commanded. All of this has led us to the precipice of homogeneity, ecological collapse and total captivity. 

When one lives in clear relation and connection with those things that care for them and sustain them – they return the care and nurture them in return. They work on their relationships and can see themselves as both independent, and as part of the whole; as whole or complete. And though one might lose their 'presence' in the face of such wholeness, they might also catch a glimpse of being present without any properties, and be at home. But against the nothingness, we can build and practice a concrete, situated, direct cosmos, a form, a modus; we can construct a rhythm of relationships that tend as much as possible, towards beauty (as a world that can be inhabited). The task of the pedagogue then, is to initiate those who will inhabit a world, into being their own cosmogonic bagpipers. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Notes on Technic

According to Emanuele Severino, we can understand the nature of Technic by looking at its role within the contemporary world. Over the course of recent history, all the different political/ economic/religious systems competing against each other for global supremacy, invariably invested in the expansion of their technological apparatus as their main competitive edge. Consumed by the agonistic imperative to win, they promoted such expansion to the point that this eventually became their sole (and thus, paradoxically, shared) goal. The limitless expansion of the ability to put the world to productive work took over the world as its new destiny and, in so doing, erased all other ideological differences. What else is Technic as the essence of technology, but the spirit of absolute instrumentality, according to which everything is merely a means to an end - where the only ultimate end is, once again, the limitless expansion of the accumulated productive ability?

Differently from economic, political, ethical and religious forces - each of which aims at the production of a specific telos, to the exclusion of all other goals and forces - Technic, which they would like to use as a means, tends to constituting itself as a planetary apparatus that is increasingly free from the conflictual fractioning to which such forces attempt to reduce it; that is, Technic aims not to a specific and exclusive goal, but to the limitless increase in the ability to pursue goals, which is also the limitless ability to satisfy needs. It is thus inevitable that, in the conflictual situation in which those forces find themselves - that is, the situation where these are guided by the will to prevail on their adversaries through the strengthening of the instruments at their disposal, whose efficacy is determined by their technological and rational- scientific character - it is inevitable that such forces eventually renounce to their specific goals, exactly to avoid slowing down, limiting and weakening the limitless strengthening of their instrument - the scientific-technologic apparatus through which they intend to pursue their goal.

Emanuele Severino

In Spengler we saw Technic as the Faustian drive towards infinite uprooting and predation, in Jünger it was the force capable of mutating humans into the universal ‘type’ of the Worker, in Heidegger we observed it as the enframing that reveals the world as a stockpiling of standing-reserve ready to be mobilized for production and finally in Severino we encountered Technic also as a ‘destiny’ of the world and of everything that populates it. In other words, we began to see Technic as a powerful cosmogonic force, capable of taking over the very status of reality, and transform it according to its own principles.

Simondon presents technology essentially as a function lying at the core of what he calls the process of ‘individuation’. According to Simondon, a thing (any thing, from a crystal to a single person to large social groups) is never stably individuated as ‘that’ thing, but it is in a continuous process of actualization of its original, overflowing potential. As the process of individuation unfolds, we witness the procession of a long series of‘individuals’, each defined by the specific limits of its interaction with what constitute its surrounding at that particular stage. Beyond the actualized series of individuals, however, a boundless wealth of potentiality always lies unrealized. Within this system, technology functions essentially as the mediator between an individual and its surroundings: it is the very process through which an individual negotiates its own limits, and thus its own form, in the context of a mutual relation with the world around it. As such, technology is both a network of relations, and the very process of defining individuals. On the basis of this notion of technology and of individuation, Simondon claims that we should overcome the traditional opposition between culture and technology (as exemplified for example by Heidegger), in favour of a more holistic conception of the two fields as fundamentally interdependent. This position also goes to influence our interpretation of the present age, where we find technology in a state of alienation which is due only to culture’s reactionary rejection of its ‘true’ promiscuity with it. The monstrosities produced by industrial technology - for example in terms of human exploitation, total warfare and environmental devastation - are, for Simondon, just the consequence of our stubborn application of preindustrial logics to this new, fully industrial environment. If only we were to develop our understanding of technology in accordance to Simondon’s reinterpretation of it, the present situation would supposedly be overcome in favour of a reintegration of technology within culture, and of culture within technology. After all, if any individual is both its own technology and its own product, perhaps our real mistake lies in the very notion of technology as an autonomous field.

Federico Campagna 

Saturday, February 11, 2023

The ‘Problem’ of Insubordination and Nihilism in Architecture and Production

Aldo Rossi, Palazzo, Fukuoka Japan

In his April 1974 “Radical Notes” column, Branzi reaffirms the Radical movement against the other two poles of the debate, orthodox modernism and the Tendenza: “The paradox is that while the Democratic-Socialists offer us an old model, the pseudo-Stalinists have offered an even older one. . . . The clash is between two possible revivals.”P19FIn his May column, Branzi establishes some differences between Rossi – whom he acknowledges as having proposed in the early 1960s a “logical foundation of architecture . . . to transfer it inside a scientific and autonomous system”P20FP – and his followers, who forgo the revolutionary potential of “neomonumentalism” by limiting themselves to the pursuit of an aesthetic quality that is, in the end, no more than a bourgeois myth. For Branzi, Rossi’s followers were “only little reactionaries frightened by the disciplinary vacuum.” In sharp contrast with the postulates of the Tendenza – which were based on the intensification of the architectural object, its typological character, and its communicative potential – Branzi poses a vision of the city where “today ‘architecture’ no longer exists: in the qualification of an enclosed space much greater importance is attributed to air-conditioning, and to the quality of the light and colors, than to the secret logical harmony governing the growth of the whole organism.” In this vision, the city becomes just a “usable structure,” and architecture, just a “theatrical impediment, an old and neurotic system of control.”

Branzi was convinced that modern architecture was exhausted and that the discipline was going through a deep crisis, themes that he had addressed his previous columns. The only way out was to focus on discovering the possibilities of the new situation: “The crisis in architecture cannot be resolved by choosing between two formal qualities, but by getting to the bottom of this crisis until we discover its roots in new mechanisms of production and in the end of the cultural role of the city, which has become a ‘service’ and no longer a ‘representative’ structure, ‘urban identity’ having been transferred to other media.”

For him, the difference between these positions was more superficial than real, given that both shared a vision of architecture privileging the formal, the compositional, and the visual and that both were based on the cataloguing and use of outdated formal repertoires. These positions, therefore, were “both moving in a field of neo-eclecticism.” Branzi was convinced that modern architecture was exhausted and that the discipline was going through a deep crisis, themes that he had addressed his previous columns. The only way out was to focus on discovering the possibilities of the new situation: “The crisis in architecture cannot be resolved by choosing between two formal qualities, but by getting to the bottom of this crisis until we discover its roots in new mechanisms of production and in the end of the cultural role of the city, which has become a ‘service’ and no longer a ‘representative’ structure, ‘urban identity’ having been transferred to other media.”

- An Italian Querelle: Radical vs. Tendenza, Pablo Martínez Capdevila

Monday, February 6, 2023

Axiom 1: Non-typology and Magic

...But what would happen, if such emptiness was to become a more permanent state? What if, along the chain of catastrophes leading from one form of reality to the next, at some point the substitution was frozen at its most disconcerting moment, in full view? How could the characters keep acting, and what in the world could save them from paralysis, if the world (and not just their world) had disintegrated?

 Necessarily connected to the magic risk of losing one’s soul, is the other magic risk of losing the world. ...When a certain sensible horizon enters a crisis, the main risk is constituted by the crumbling of each and every limit: everything can become everything, that is to say: nothingness emerges. But magic ... intervenes to put a stop to the emerging chaos, and to resolve it into an order. Thus, from this angle, magic becomes a tool to restore horizons that have entered a crisis. And with the demiurgery that characterises it, it recuperates for the humans the very world that they were about to lose.

 As observed by de Martino, the disintegration of reality has to do with the dissolution of its limits, that is, of the internal bonds that constitute, not one specific reality, but reality as such. Variations in the arrangement of such bonds allow for the formation of different kinds of reality, but their altogether dissolution leads reality itself to disintegration. Later [...] we shall discuss at length what the indissoluble elements are that, together, allow for reality’s emersion from chaos. For now, suffice it to say that ‘reality’ is the name that we assign to a state in which the dimension of essence (what something is) and the dimension of existence (that something is) are inextricably bound to each other, without merging into one another.7 As different forms of essence and of existence alternate, and as their relationship varies over time, we witness the passage between successive forms of reality. But whenever one of the two overtakes the other, or denies its legitimacy, or severs the ties that connect them, or, even worse, when both of them vanish, then reality as such also effectively vanishes. Reality is a weave made of essence and existence, like warp and weft, and the event of its undoing requires a weaver (for de Martino, a ‘magician’) that is capable of interlacing the two back together, regardless of the specific forms and colours that each of them can take.

The feeling of an undoing of the fabric of reality is far from alien to our current experience of the world. Whether we interiorize it as psychopathology, or whether we attempt to detect its symptoms within contemporary culture, a ghostly presence haunts the age in which we live. It is no longer the old ‘uncanny guest’, the most familiar form of nihilism, that uproots and destroys specific cultural values referring to beauty or morality. Its sphere of action is no longer the stage, and its victims are not just the frail puppets of wood and cloth that traverse it. This is the age of metaphysical nihilism: the nihilism that sets the background on fire and undoes the very fabric of reality. Under its attack, ‘everything can become everything, that is to say: nothingness emerges’. The growing nothingness of things, and their equivalence, emerges as two facets of the same phenomenon. The combined annihilation of things’ full and autonomous existence, and their total transformation into sets of equivalent serial units, is at the heart of the contemporary process of transfiguration of the world into an impalpable cloud of equivalent financial units, digital data, chains of information, items of identification. Yet, it would still be insufficient to describe the effects of metaphysical nihilism as the substitution of a world of things with a world of empty names. Indeed, it is not just the case that ‘of the rose of old nothing remains but the name’, since names themselves have become translucent in their emptiness and equivalence: through them only shines the all-encompassing force of grammar. Once left unbound, grammar separates essences from existence, reduces the former to mere positioning within a syntactic series, and annuls the latter as unnecessary and spurious. What are ‘things’ nowadays, apart from signposts of the position they occupy within the productive syntax of technology, economics or societal norms? Like a novel reduced to pure grammar, the present age has shunned the question of meaning as a sign of superstition and nostalgia, while relegating reality to the status of an obsolete concept which is to be overcome if we wish to fully unleash our productive potential.

Federico Campagna - Technic and Magic

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Non-typological Architecture

Hiroshima, 1945

Non-typological Architecture is a category that refers to a tendency towards an absence of ideology, system, or science in architectural composition. Specific examples of architecture which make visible a tendency towards the non-typological, lack any obvious attempt to say (parlare), or do (as distributio) anything. They tend towards simple containers of blank space. Examples of architecture that manifest a tendency towards the Non-typological lay bare the inessential fact: that Man is the animal who has no nature, and will never be at home. Thus, Man is the animal who can ‘wilfully’ change its own essence and produce History.

A house with no plan, and no interior subdivisions is the perceivable aspect and consequence of now hegemonic ‘colonising,’ ‘rationalising’ forces that enframe life as a ‘standing reserve’ and accordingly ‘challenge’ into being narrow, instrumentalising forms of life, and relationships with other beings. An endless and accelerating expansion of production has also accelerated a process of de- and reterritorialisation, which exposes us to the raw blankness of this inessential fact. Just as quickly though, that blankness is buried in a phantasmagoria of futures and pasts; of everything that ever existed but no longer lives. Examples of housing that tend towards the Non-typological are particularly striking because housing has, until recently, been perceived as the space of one’s own, or of the family’s intimacy, privacy, and autonomy; the sphere of singular or unique forms of representation, identity, social relationships, and 'world.' The space in which a specific form of life takes shape and unfolds.

Furthermore, Non-typological architecture points to the fact that a system which always reache deeper and deeper with the means by which it calls or ‘challenges forth’ life and relationships as a ‘standing reserve’ for extraction is at its core, non-ideological. Via its emanation of abstractions, its proliferation of unreality, we are suspended in a state of real nihilism. Architecture that tends towards the non-typological is therefore ambivalent. On one hand, it makes visible or manifests the absolute foundation of human freedom and possibility, it manifests a clearing in history and the potential for an absolute turning point. On the other hand, if prolonged indefinitely or prolonged in frozen suspension, it indicates a capture in no-actuality, no-difference, and no-world.  

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Divine Governance and the End


The Annunciation, with St. Emidius (1486), Carlo Crivelli

First, by observation of things themselves: for we observe that in nature things happen always or nearly always for the best; which would not be the case unless some sort of providence directed nature toward good as an end; which is to govern. Wherefore the unfailing order we observe in things is a sign of their being governed . . . Secondly, this is clear from a consideration of Divine goodness, which . . . was the cause of the production of things in existence. For as it belongs to the best to produce the best, it is not fitting that the supreme goodness of God should produce things without giving them their perfection. Now a thing’s ultimate perfection consists in the attainment of its end. Therefore it belongs to the Divine goodness, as it brought things into existence, so to lead them to their end: and this is to govern.

De gubernatione mundi, Thomas Aquinas 1596

Governance and the Constraint of the Field of Action

Chavin de Huntar, Northern Andes, 3200 - 2700 BPE

"Government" did not refer only to political structures or to the management of states; rather, it designated the way in which the conduct of individuals or of groups might be directed: the government of children, of souls, of communities, of families, of the sick. It did not only cover the legitimately constituted forms of political or economic subjection but also modes of action, more or less considered or calculated, which were destined to act upon the possibilities of action of other people. To govern, in this sense, is to structure the possible field of action of others. The relationship proper to power would not, therefore, be sought on the side of violence or of struggle, nor on that of voluntary linking (all of which can, at best, only be the instruments of power), but rather in the area of the singular mode of action, neither warlike nor juridical, which is government. When one defines the exercise of power as a mode of action upon the actions of others, when one characterizes these actions by the government of men by other men-in the broadest sense of the term-one includes an important element: freedom. Power is exercised only over free subjects, and only insofar as they are free. By this we mean individual or collective subjects who are faced with a field of possibilities in which several ways of behaving, several reactions and diverse comportments, may be realized.

- Michel Foucault, The Subject and Power

Religion, the Supernatural and Order

The anthropologist Clifford Geertz defined religion as a:

[…] system of symbols which acts to establish powerful, pervasive, and long-lasting moods and motivations in men by formulating conceptions of a general order of existence and clothing these conceptions with such an aura of factuality that the moods and motivations seem uniquely realistic."

Alluding perhaps to Tylor's "deeper motive", Geertz remarked that

[…] we have very little idea of how, in empirical terms, this particular miracle is accomplished. We just know that it is done, annually, weekly, daily, for some people almost hourly; and we have an enormous ethnographic literature to demonstrate it.

The theologian Antoine Vergote took the term supernatural simply to mean whatever transcends the powers of nature or human agency. He also emphasized the cultural reality of religion, which he defined as

[…] the entirety of the linguistic expressions, emotions and, actions and signs that refer to a supernatural being or supernatural beings.

Peter Mandaville and Paul James intended to get away from the modernist dualisms or dichotomous understandings of immanence/transcendence, spirituality/materialism, and sacredness/secularity. They define religion as

[…] a relatively-bounded system of beliefs, symbols and practices that addresses the nature of existence, and in which communion with others and Otherness is lived as if it both takes in and spiritually transcends socially-grounded ontologies of time, space, embodiment and knowing.

According to the MacMillan Encyclopedia of Religions, there is an experiential aspect to religion which can be found in almost every culture:

[…] almost every known culture [has] a depth dimension in cultural experiences […] toward some sort of ultimacy and transcendence that will provide norms and power for the rest of life. When more or less distinct patterns of behavior are built around this depth dimension in a culture, this structure constitutes religion in its historically recognizable form. Religion is the organization of life around the depth dimensions of experience—varied in form, completeness, and clarity in accordance with the environing culture.

Thursday, October 20, 2022

Axioms and Barbarism

Jusepe de Ribera - Euclid - 2001.26 - J. Paul Getty Museum

"An axiom, postulate, or assumption is a statement that is taken to be true, to serve as a premise or starting point for further reasoning and arguments. The word comes from the Ancient Greek word ἀξίωμα (axíōma), meaning 'that which is thought worthy or fit' or 'that which commends itself as evident'.

The term has subtle differences in definition when used in the context of different fields of study. As defined in classic philosophy, an axiom is a statement that is so evident or well-established, that it is accepted without controversy or question. As used in modern logic, an axiom is a premise or starting point for reasoning.

The word axiom comes from the Greek word ἀξίωμα (axíōma), a verbal noun from the verb ἀξιόειν (axioein), meaning "to deem worthy", but also "to require", which in turn comes from ἄξιος (áxios), meaning "being in balance", and hence "having (the same) value (as)", "worthy", "proper". Among the ancient Greek philosophers, an axiom was a claim which could be seen to be self-evidently true without any need for proof."


Poverty of experience. This should not be understood to mean people are yearning for new experience. No, they long to free themselves from experience; they long for a world in which they can make such pure and decided use of their poverty – their outer poverty, and ultimately also their inner poverty – that it will lead to something respectable. Nor are they ignorant or inexperienced. Often we could say the very opposite. They have “devoured” everything, both “culture and people,” and they have had such a surfeit that it has exhausted them. No one feels more caught out than they by Scheerbart’s words: “You are all so tired, just because you have failed to concentrate your thoughts on a simple but ambitious plan.” Tiredness is followed by sleep, and then it is not uncommon for a dream to make up for the sadness and discouragement of the day – a dream that shows us in its realised form the simple but magnificent existence for which the energy is lacking in reality.

Barbarism? Yes, indeed. We say this in order to introduce a new, positive concept of barbarism. For what does poverty of experience do for the barbarian? It forces him to start from scratch; to make a new start; to make a little go a long way; to begin with a little and build up further, looking neither left nor right. Among the great creative spirits, there have always been the inexorable ones who begin by clearing a tabula rasa. They need a drawing table; they were constructors. Such a constructor was Descartes, who required nothing more to launch his entire philosophy than the single certitude, “I think, therefore I am.” And he went on from there. Einstein, too, was such a constructor; he was not interested in anything in the whole wide world of physics except a minute discrepancy between Newton’s equations and the observations of astronomy. And this same insistence on starting from the very beginning also marks artists when they followed the example of mathematicians and built the world from stereometric forms, like the Cubists, or modelled themselves on engineers, like Klee. For just like any good car, whose every part, even the bodywork, obeys the needs above all of the engine, Klee’s figure too seem to have been designed on the drawing board, and even in their general expression, they obey the laws of their interior. Their interior, rather than their inwardness; and this is what makes them barbaric.

Walter Benjamin, Experience and Poverty

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Action, Economy and Politics Have no Foundation in Being, but are Praxis


The Triumph of Divine Providence, 1633, Palace Barberini, Ceiling Fresco by Pietro da Cortona
The Triumph of Divine Providence, 1633, Palace Barberini, Ceiling Fresco by Pietro da Cortona

Just as a good father can entrust to his son the execution of certain functions and duties without in so doing losing his power and his unity, so God entrusts to Christ the ‘economy,’ the administration and government of human history.” Oikonomia therefore became a specialized term signifying in particular the incarnation of the Son, together with the economy of redemption and salvation (this is the reason why in Gnostic sects, Christ is called “the man of economy,” ho anthropos tes oikonomias). The theologians slowly got accustomed to distinguishing between a “discourse—or logos—of theology” and a “logos of economy.” Oikonomia became thereafter an apparatus through which the Trinitarian dogma and the idea of a divine providential governance of the world were introduced into the Christian faith. But, as often happens, the fracture that the theologians had sought to avoid by removing it from the plane of God’s being, reappeared in the form of a caesura that separated in Him being and action, ontology and praxis. Action (economy, but also politics) has no foundation in being: this is the schizophrenia that the theological doctrine of oikonomia left as its legacy to Western culture.


…oikonomia merges with the notion of Providence and begins to indicate the redemptive governance of the world and human history. Now, what is the translation of this fundamental Greek term in the writings of the Latin Fathers? Dispositio. The Latin term dispositio, from which the French term dispositif, or apparatus, derives, comes therefore to take on the complex semantic sphere of the theological oikonomia. The “dispositifs” about which Foucault speaks are somehow linked to this theological legacy. They can be in some way traced back to the fracture that divides and, at the same time, articulates in God being and praxis, the nature or essence, on the one hand, and the operation through which He administers and governs the created world, on the other. The term “apparatus” designates that in which, and through which, one realizes a pure activity of governance devoid of any foundation in being. This is the reason why apparatuses must always imply a process of subjectification, that is to say, they must produce their subject.

- Giorgio Agamben, What is an Apparatus 

The redemptive governance of subjects is what has been secularised and remains fully in force. In order for one to require redemption and salvation though, they must 'fall' into sin. The apparatuses are those that guarantee that we remain in sin but simultaneously provide the means via which we might achieve redemption and salvation. The reality that they want to conceal is the fact that we are always already saved.

Sunday, August 28, 2022

2022, England

The Statute of Labourers was passed at the urgent instance of the House of Commons. A Tory says naively:

“Formerly the poor demanded such high wages as to threaten industry and wealth. Next, their wages are so low as to threaten industry and wealth equally and perhaps more, but in another way.” [4]

“Sophisms of Free Trade.” By a Barrister. Lond., 1850, p. 206. He adds maliciously: “We were ready enough to interfere for the employer, can nothing now be done for the employed?”

Marx, Capital Vol. 1

Saturday, August 27, 2022


Live, you say, in the present. 
Live only in the present. 

But I don’t want the present, I want reality. 
I want the things that exist, not the time that measures them. 

What is the present? 
It’s something in relation to the past and the future. 
It’s something that exists by virtue of other things existing. 
I want only reality, the things themselves, without any 

I don’t want to include time in my awareness of what exists. 
I don’t want to think of things as being in the present; I want 
    to think of them as things. 
I don’t want to separate them from themselves, calling them 

I shouldn’t even call them real. 
I shouldn’t call them anything. 

I should see them, just see them, 
See them until I can no longer think about them, 
See them without time or space, 
See with no need of anything besides what I’m seeing. 
This is the science of seeing, which is no science at all.

- Alberto Caeiro, 20 June 1919

Warding off Anguish

Leon Battista Alberti, Tempio Malatestiano, 1450

Alberti spoke of several of his mental exercises to "dispel anxiety: mentally composing very complex and magnificent architecture... It helped to rationally comprehend the world, but not dominate it. Rationality and architecture itself, wrote Alberti, could provide only a temporary refuge to “ward off anguish” without being able to overcome it.

- citing Leon Battista Alberti, In Profugiorum ab aerumna libri III [The three books on the refuge from mental anguish] from Amir Djalali, Common Space: Politics and the Production of Architectural Knowledge


Friday, August 26, 2022

On Praxis

Wisdom is always taste —in both Latin and Hebrew, the word for wisdom comes from the word for taste—so it's something to taste, not something to theorize about. "Taste and see that God is good", the psalm says; and that's wisdom: tasting life. No one can do it for us. The mystical tradition is very much a Sophia tradition. It is about tasting and trusting experience, before institution or dogma.

Matthew Fox (Theologan)

Sunday, July 31, 2022

Eternal Infancy

Somewhere inside of us, the careless neotenic child continues his royal game. And it is his play that gives us time, that keeps ajar for us that never setting openness which the peoples and languages of the earth, each in its own way, watch over in order to both preserve and hold back-and to preserve only to the extent that they defer. The plurality of nations and the numerous historical languages are the false callings by which man attempts to respond to his intolerable absence of voice; or, if one prefers, they are the attempts, fatally come to nothing, to make graspable the ungraspable, to become- this eternal child-an adult. Only on the day when the original infantile openness is truly, dizzingly taken up as such, when time has come to fullness and the child Aion has wakened from and to his game, will men be able finally to construct a history and language which are universal and no longer deferrable, and stop their wandering through traditions. This authentic recalling of humanity to the infantile soma is called thought-that is, politics.

Giorgio Agamben, The Idea of Prose, 1995

Friday, July 29, 2022


Harappa Tell and Walls

Chimeric Deity, Dennys Frenez, Massimo Vidale

An important feature of the Indus civilization is that it opposes itself at every point to nature. The now common anthropological cliche about “culture and nature” is suggested, but this would be misleading since that dichotomy is related to the simple imposition by people of order on the natural world (and our particular post-enlightenment concept of “nature”). In this case, however, as will be shown, we are concerned with an order that is opposed to the “natural” in both the human environment and the nonhuman environment. For example, previous village sites may well have developed in relation to the particularities of the local conditions, a small hillock, a depression, and so forth; equally in their form they betray the particular developments of the society of their inhabitants, a free pattern of contraction and expansion of housing units that can develop alongside the contingent social relations, the relative growth and decline of family, lineage, faction, etc. This is a common pattern in later “peasant” villages and can be studied from their spatial layout (e.g., Wright 198 1)

In the Harappan, however, we see the establishment of an order in the settlements that opposes both the natural environment and the human. The sites are often laid out within geometric forms, on single or dual mounds with ordered streets on cardinal orientations. There is the creation at great effort of massive brick platforms to create a base for nonresidential activities. All sites seem to include the construction of such a “tell,” as opposed to the natural ground. Equally, if the Harappan is considered in terms of its own historical trajectory, that is, the sequence of developments which precedes it, there is evidence for the suppression of a number of evident trends which were manifested in regional and social differentiation.

The second major characteristic of the Harappan is that it represents a standardization of and around the mundane. There is more evidence for variability of ritual practices than of everyday artifacts (Fentress 1979). There is the elimination of anything which might challenge the order that this standardization represents. The plainness and the lack of decoration of both buildings and artifacts mean that these lose their possibilities of specific reference, and tend rather toward formalism. Thus, rather like modernism in recent times, they tend toward a kind of symbolic closure in which they refer not to groups of people, regions, or other external factors, but only to the style, that is, the order within which they were created (Miller 1984).

Daniel Miller, Ideology and the Harrapan Civilisation, 1985

Monday, July 25, 2022

The Centre of the World

Hain, Selknam Initiation Ceremonies
Hain, Selknam Initiation Ceremonies 

Intel Silicon Wafer and Manufacturing Equipment (Philip Cheung for The New York Times)

 Again, in his magnum opus Patterns in Comparative Religion, Eliade further characterizes the idea of the ‘centre’ as follows:

The symbolism of the ‘centre’ embraces a number of different ideas: the point of intersection of the cosmic spheres (the channel joining hell and earth; cf. the bethel of Jacob § 79 f.); a place that is hierophanic and therefore real, a supremely ‘creational’ place, because the source of all reality and consequently of energy and life is to be found there. Indeed, cosmological traditions even express the symbolism of the centre in terms borrowed from embryology.69


In line with most archaic forms of thinking, the idea of the centre combines ritualistic, metaphysical and architectural aspects. A temple or sacred building is built specifically in a place that is supposed to be the centre of the world (for example, around the omphalos stone in Delphi, considered to be the navel of the world), yet at the same time it is exactly its definition as sacred, that singles out a certain place as a ‘centre’. This circularity returns in the apparently contradictory fact that there is not one, but countless and potentially infinite ‘centres’. Every sacred space, according to Eliade’s analysis, is a centre, precisely because its sacredness endows it with the quality that is essential to every ‘centre’: being the place traversed by the axis of the world {axis mundi), that is, by the axis that connects the dimensions of heaven, earth and hell. Consecration and ‘centring’ thus appear to go hand in hand, to the point that every house or city built according to proper ritual can and should be considered in itself as another centre of the world.70 The notion of centre is thus rooted in that of sacredness, which, in turn, is embodied by the figure of an axis connecting the world’s multiple dimensions. In terms of our present work on Magic, Eliade’s intuition expresses the fundamental quality of the normative imperative traversing the whole of Magic’s reality. Every hypostasis, and everything that exists in Magic’s world, is structured as a centre, in that it is always necessarily traversed by an ‘axis’ connecting the ineffable with the linguistic dimensions of existence. While in the case of Technic’s reality this connection was made unnecessary by the absence of any actual multiplicity in its reality - to the point, as we said earlier, that Technic abolishes reality tout court - in Magic’s fourth hypostasis it is revealed how the imperative of ‘centring’ runs through the entire reality-system as its organizational and architectural principle.

References to the sacred are equally appropriate, especially if the sacred is understood in terms of what the German theologian Rudolf Otto defined as the ‘numinous’. According to Otto,71 the sacred as numinous, is a mysterium tremendum et fascinans (‘a terrifying and fascinating mystery’). A force that at once attracts and repels its witness, while remaining shielded in its own ineffable dimension. Within Magic’s reality, however, the space of the sacred imposes itself as the space par excellence. As noted by Eliade, a centre, that is a sacred space, is ‘a place that is hierophanic and therefore real\ Likewise, within Magic, full ontological legitimacy - the possibility of being fully ‘real’ - is granted only to entities that are built as centres, that is, that are traversed by the life of the ineffable. For this reason, most of the creations of Technic’s cosmology, inasmuch as they embody the structuring principle of absolute language, do not find any ontological legitimacy within Magic’s reality. The notion of the individual as a processor, for example, or of an entity as pure ‘stockpiling of productive reserves’, are deemed by Magic as mere - and deadly - fantasy. The normative aspect of any reality-system accounts both for creation and for destruction: the basis, on which certain things are made to emerge within it, is the same upon which others are denied existence. In the case of Magic, the line between ‘meaning’ and ‘noise’ is drawn in reference to the ‘liveliness’ of an entity: hence the fact that most of Technic’s ontological creations don’t find any room in Magic’s reality-system. For individuals currently living within Technic’s regime, this constitutes a call for the reconstruction of their reality that is as tremendum as it is fascinans. Not everything will be able to move from one system to the other, and the sudden discovery of a living dimension in non-human entities and in inanimate objects as well as in immaterial symbols, for example, would bring forward an unfathomable mysterium that might be difficult to approach at first. Likewise, suddenly facing the absolute unreality (as in, their unreality even as conventions) of commonly accepted social institutions, might repel those who invested in them their whole presence in the world. Every sacred space is surrounded by a limit - as the guardians or the labyrinth surrounding a treasure, in several mythological traditions - and not everything will be able to pass this threshold.

Federico Campagna - Technic and Magic 

Sunday, July 24, 2022

Essence Existence


"Although everything is fundamentally made of existence (which in itself is one and undifferentiated), there are still real differences between individual things - differences that can be appreciated and described both sensorially and conceptually, that is linguistically. But how are we to understand the relationship between undifferentiated existence, and linguistic differentiations? How can it be that all things are at the same time ineffably one, and linguistically many? Mulla Sadra answers this question with certainty: differences between things should be considered as functions of the varying intensity with which existence shines through each of them.26 Borrowing a metaphor that was dear also to the Sufis, we could say that the realm of essence is like a slate of glass (though this glass should be imagined at a near-liquid state) varying in colour and thickness at different points. As the light of existence traverses it, individual things appear as the catalogue of detectable modulations in the colour and intensity of the light. Although the boundaries between individual things are somewhat fuzzy, it is possible to appreciate the difference between various modulations of the light, as functions of the varying intensity and colour taken on by the first emanating principle. Yet, all things are at the same time in perfect seamless unity with each other, inasmuch as they are all made of one and the same light, that is, of emanated existence."

Federico Campagna, Technic and Magic

Saturday, July 23, 2022

The Limit

The 'problem to be fixed' is the imperative that the cosmological machinery of Technic demands of its (re)producers.

What is impossible to resolve in its totality, is considered in its parts as a cluster of individual possibilities of resolution. By selecting increasingly minute portions of the impossible, and by turning them into small possible victories, Technic denies its own limits while progressing indefinitely in its infinite chase after itself. In this perspective, we can also appreciate the role played by incremental innovations in all fields of contemporary activity, and the conspicuous absence of any authentic instance of groundbreaking innovation in recent decades.

A possibility is thus to be understood, not as a radical form of indeterminacy, but rather as a gap that exists only inasmuch as it is possible to fill it. A possibility is a ‘not-as-yet’ that, in Technic’s own conception of time, is always-already resolved, since its presence is exactly as ‘that which can be resolved’. The problem that can be fixed is always-already resolved exactly in its being resolvable, that is, in its being reducible to the productive discourse of seriality. On the contrary, what escapes entirely the discourse of productive On the contrary, what escapes entirely the discourse of productive resolution, that is, of ontological mutation and annihilation, is not even allowed a negative form of presence. Nothing is impossible, because the impossible, by claiming to be irreducible in its nature, also claims a nature of its own, that is, a nature which isn’t reducible to the linear seriality of Technic’s cosmogony - and to anything advancing such claims, no form of presence whatsoever is allowed.

The irreducible mystery of life, stubbornly escaping Technic’s capture, is converted into a theme park for Technic’s triumph. By resolving its resistance into a case of vulnerability - that is as endless possibility for resolution - life is turned into the stage for Technic’s denial of its own limits. Resolution by simulation indicates exactly this condition of ceaseless postponement of the end. This is what happens, for example, when we consider most contemporary discourses over health and illness, and particularly mental health and mental illness. That which most stubbornly resists the process of reduction-to-work operated by Technic, is turned into a medical problem, that is, into a problem that functions as a not-as-yet-accomplished possibility of resolution. From this angle, we can understand more generally the contemporary focus over illness, diseases, catastrophes, even pseudo-apocalypses (as in most contemporary cultural productions), as a further case of possibility. The crumbling support that life as vulnerability offers to Technic’s unfolding, and which would eventually lead to Technic’s own demise, is frozen in the very instant of its crumbling; it is never a resolved situation, or a complete defeat. The permanent state of crisis that characterizes most contemporary discourses in virtually every field, from politics to economics, from medicine to culture, embodies exactly this aspect. By maintaining its relationship with its own limit as a state of endless crisis, Technic is able to freeze it into a suspended condition. For example, the current epidemic of mental illness is not presented as a symptom of Technic’s own limit, as it encounters the resistance of life, but rather as a problem of life itself that Technic has to tackle and fix through socio-medical means. Like Saint Augustin denied the existence of evil, defining it instead as the contingent absence of good, so Technic denies the existence of anything that would authentically escape it, defining it instead as a possibility that hasn’t as yet been fulfilled. For example, life’s mortality is included within Technic’s cosmology as an as-yet- unreached (but by no means unreachable) state of immortality; medicine and medical technologies are working on it, and it is only a matter of time - or so the discourse goes - before we can achieve it. Of course, the notion of immortality as infinite presence is not in the slightest a discourse over life as such, but merely an application to life of the very temporal structure of Technic itself.

Federico Campagna - Technic and Magic 

Thursday, June 30, 2022


It is possible that to seem, it is to be. And the sun is something seeming, and it is. The sun is
an example. What it seems, it is. And in such seeming all things are.

Wallace Stevens

What makes something intelligible is the paradigmatic exhibition of its own knowability.

What is a Paradigm, Giorgio Agamben

Monday, May 9, 2022

Magical Objects

Todd McLellan, Things Fall Apart

[The role of architecture and art in the world of total commodification becomes] a legitimation process, displacing to a certain degree such classical mechanisms of domination as authoritarian conditioning and formal ideological indoctrination. The claims of classical ideology could to a certain degree be assessed as objectively either true or false. But when ideology is embedded in the objective order of things (as ideology invades and increasingly pervades the fabric of ethos), it ironically escapes the realm of objectivity. Adorno defines the commodity as “a consumer item in which there is no longer anything that is supposed to remind us how it came into being. It becomes a magical object.” In effect, you can’t argue with magic. This is the character of advanced forms of domination: they operate in ways that leave few obvious traces of their functioning. Thus… domination operates increasingly through two divergent but complementary means, through values of mass consumption and the harnessing of desire (repressive sublimation) on the one hand, and through the mechanism of techno-bureaucratic control and instrumental rationality on the other. These are the two poles of the historic tendency away from traditional dominance and subordination and toward impersonal mechanisms of social domination.

- John P. Clark, 2013

Thursday, April 21, 2022

No City

lt is well known that, in Plato, the difference between oikos and polis is not presented, as it is in Aristotle, in terms of an opposition. In this sense, Aristotle is able to criticize the Platonic notion of the polis and reproach his master for pushing the unitary nature of the city too far thus running the risk of transforming it into a household: 

Is it not obvious that a city may at length attain such a degree of unity as to be no longer a city -since the nature of a city is to be a plurality, and in tending to greater unity, from being a city, it becomes a household [ oikia]. (Aristotle, Politics, 126Ia)

Giorgio Agamben
The Kingdom and the Glory: For a Theological Geneaology of Economy and Government


"The charm of history and its enigmatic lesson consist in the fact that, from age to age, nothing changes, and yet everything is completely different. " 

-  Aldous Huxley

Monday, March 28, 2022

Capitalism and Behaviour

 Nation-State Capitalism is merely a system of sorcery for the determination of future behavior.

Saturday, March 19, 2022

schema 1

to abstract into the measurable, quantifiable, modulable, moldable, 

 and therefore

                to at once alienate - to de and reterritorialize

but alienation is always violent - and thus the cultural intermediary smooths things out, for themselves, yes, but by extension, for the rest.

to avoid the limit while always simultaneously tending towards it 

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Essentialism, Idealism

In the fourth Millenium BCE, the Sumerian god Nimuta was god of the plow, thunderstorm and spring flood. However by the third century Nimitz had become the god of war and irrigation. Shifts such as these have been understood by scholars not as crude political legitimations but a kind of genuine attempt to grasp the nature of life (and particularly in its search for order during Empire).

This observation reminds us of one of the most important points when building any genealogy of Empire and its infrastructures: historíes greatest waves of mass colonisation (as the imposition of forms of life for production) are compelled not by maniacal intent but by other motivations: idealism, attempts to save, attempts to solve a problem, attempts to systematise explanations and define substances or essences - then also broadly applying these kinds of essences, substances and ideals to everyone.   

Monday, October 11, 2021

What is a Subject?

I wish to propose to you nothing less than a general and massive partitioning of beings into two large groups or classes: on the one hand, living beings (or substances), and on the other, apparatuses in which living beings are incessantly captured. On one side, then, to return to the terminology of the theologians lies the ontology of creatures, and on the other side, the oikonomia of apparatuses that seek to govern and guide them toward the good.

Further expanding the already large class of Foucauldian apparatuses, I shall call an apparatus literally anything that has in some way the capacity to capture, orient, determine, intercept, model, control, or secure the gestures, behaviors, opinions, or discourses of living beings. Not only, therefore, prisons, madhouses, the panopticon, schools, confession, factories, disciplines, juridical measures, and so forth (whose connection with power is in a certain sense evident), but also the pen, writing, literature, philosophy, agriculture, cigarettes, navigation, computers, cellular telephones and—why not—language itself, which is perhaps the most ancient of apparatuses—one in which thousands and thousands of years ago a primate inadvertently let himself be captured, probably without realizing the consequences that he was about to face.

To recapitulate, we have then two great classes: living beings (or substances) and apparatuses. And, between these two, as a third class, subjects. I call a subject that which results from the relation and, so to speak, from the relentless fight between living beings and apparatuses. Naturally, the substances and
the subjects, as in ancient metaphysics, seem to overlap, but not completely. In this sense, for example, the same individual, the same substance, can be the place of multiple processes of subjectification: the user of cellular phones, the web surfer, the writer of stories, the tango aficionado, the anti-globalization activist, and so on and so forth. The boundless growth of apparatuses in our time corresponds to the equally extreme proliferation in processes of subjectification. This may produce the impression that in our time, the category of subjectivity is wavering and losing its consistency; but what is at stake, to be precise, is not an erasure or an overcoming, but rather a dissemination that pushes to the extreme the masquerade that has always accompanied every personal identity.


It would probably not be wrong to define the extreme phase of capitalist development in which we live as a massive accumulation and proliferation of apparatuses. It is clear that ever since Homo sapiens first appeared, there have been apparatuses; but we could say that today there is not even a single instant in which the life of individuals is not modeled, contaminated, or controlled by some apparatus. In what way, then, can we confront this situation, what strategy must we follow in our everyday hand-to-hand struggle with apparatuses? What we are looking for is neither simply to destroy them nor, as some naively suggest, to use them in the correct way.

For example, I live in Italy, a country where the gestures and behaviors of individuals have been reshaped from top to toe by the cellular telephone (which the Italians dub the telefonino). I have developed an implacable hatred for this apparatus, which has made the relationship between people all the more abstract. Although I found myself more than once wondering how to destroy or deactivate those telefonini, as well as how to eliminate or at least to punish and imprison those who do not stop using them, I do not believe that this is the right solution to the problem.

The fact is that according to all indications, apparatuses are not a mere accident in which humans are caught by chance, but rather are rooted in the very process of “humanization” that made “humans” out of the animals we classify under the rubric Homo sapiens. In fact, the event that has produced the human constitutes, for the living being, something like a division, which reproduces in some way the division that the oikonomia introduced in God between being and action. This division separates the living being from itself and from its immediate relationship with its environment— that is, with what Jakob von Uexküll and then Heidegger name the circle of receptors-disinhibitors. The break or interruption of this relationship produces in living beings both boredom—that is, the capacity to suspend this immediate relationship with their disinhibitors—and the Open, which is the possibility of knowing being as such, by constructing a world. But, along with these possibilities, we must also immediately consider the apparatuses that crowd the Open with instruments, objects, gadgets, odds and ends, and various technologies. Through these apparatuses, man attempts to nullify the animalistic behaviors that are now separated from him, and to enjoy the Open as such, to enjoy being insofar as it is being. At the root of each apparatus lies an all-too-human desire for happiness. The capture and subjectification of this desire in a separate sphere constitutes the specific power of the apparatus.

- Giorgio Agamben, What is an Apparatus (Dispositif from positivity)?

Saturday, October 2, 2021

Ecstatic Politics

Lucrecia Martell, Zama

On closer inspection, biopolitics has never had any other aim but to thwart the formation of worlds, techniques, shared dramatizations, magic in which the crisis of presence might be overcome, appropriated, might become a center of energy, a war machine. The rupture in the transmission of experience, the rupture in historical tradition exists, is vehemently maintained, in order to ensure that Bloom is always left entirely driven back onto "himself," onto his own solitary derision-to his unbearable mythical "freedom." Biopolitics holds a monopoly over remedies to presence in crisis, which it is always ready to defend with the most extreme violence.

A politics that challenges this monopoly takes as its starting point and center of energy the crisis of presence, Bloom. We call this politics ecstatic. Its aim is not to rescue abstractly through successive re/presentations- human presence from dissolution, but instead to create participable magic, techniques for inhabiting not a territory but a world. And this creation, this play between different economies of presence, between different forms-of-life, entails the subversion and the liquidation of all apparatuses.

Those who, as a final reprieve from their passivity, insist on calling for a theory of the subject must understand that in the age of Bloom a theory of the subject is now only possible as a theory of apparatuses.

- Tiqqun, This is not a Program

Ecstasy (from Ancient Greek ἔκστασις ékstasis, meaning 'outside of oneself') is a subjective experience of total involvement of the subject, with an object of their awareness. In classical Greek literature, it refers to the removal of the mind or body "from its normal place of function."

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Sorcery and A Materialism of Enchantment

It is striking to see, year in, year out, how beings increasingly slip between their predicates, between the identities that THEY give them. & surely as ever, Bloom makes progress. 


It goes without saying that even behind the wheel we rarely actually act like drivers-and we don't need anyone explaining to us how a television, a PlayStation, or a "built environment" conditions us. Instead, a science of apparatuses, a critical metaphysics, recognizes the crisis of presence and is prepared to compete with capitalism on the playing field of magic.



TO BECOME A SORCERER. " [T]o prevent this disintegration, one must go deliberately to the limit of one's own presence through a clearly-defined practice; one must go to the very essence of the outer limits and master it; the 'spirits' must be identified and evoked and one must develop the power to call upon them at will and profit professionally from their activity. These are the steps taken by the sorcerer; he transforms being-in-the-world's critical moments into a courageous and dramatic decision, that of establishing himself in the world. If being-in-the-world is taken as a given, it runs the risk of being dissolved: it has not yet been given. The magician, through the establishment of his vocation and successful initiation, undoes this presumed given and reforms it through a second birth; he goes to the limits of his presence in order to reform himself into a new and clearly-defined entity. The techniques he uses to increase the instability of presence, the trance itself and other related states, are the expressions of this being-there that disintegrates so that it may be reformed, the being that goes to the very end of its confines in order to discover itself as a sustained and guaranteed presence. The mastery that the magician has acquired allows him to penetrate not only his own instability, bur also that in other people. The magician knows how to go beyond himself, not in the ideal sense, but actually, in the existential sense. The man whose being-there is made a problem and who has the power to establish his own presence, is not just an ordinary presence, bur a being-there that makes itself present to others, understands their existemial drama and influences its course."24

- Tiqqun, This is Not a Program

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Against Interpretation

Karl Marx 1845
Theses On Feuerbach

Written: by Marx in Brussels in the spring of 1845, under the title “1) ad Feuerbach”;
Marx’s original text was first published in 1924, in German and in Russian translation, by the Institute of Marxism-Leninism in Marx-Engels Archives, Book I, Moscow.


The main defect of all hitherto-existing materialism — that of Feuerbach included — is that the Object [der Gegenstand], actuality, sensuousness, are conceived only in the form of the object [Objekts], or of contemplation [Anschauung], but not as human sensuous activity, practice [Praxis], not subjectively. Hence it happened that the active side, in opposition to materialism, was developed by idealism — but only abstractly, since, of course, idealism does not know real, sensuous activity as such. Feuerbach wants sensuous objects [Objekte], differentiated from thought-objects, but he does not conceive human activity itself as objective [gegenständliche] activity. In The Essence of Christianity [Das Wesen des Christenthums], he therefore regards the theoretical attitude as the only genuinely human attitude, while practice [Praxis] is conceived and defined only in its dirty-Jewish form of appearance [Erscheinungsform][1]. Hence he does not grasp the significance of ‘revolutionary’, of ‘practical-critical’, activity.#


The question whether objective truth can be attributed to human thinking is not a question of theory but is a practical question. Man must prove the truth, i.e., the reality and power, the this-sidedness [Diesseitigkeit] of his thinking, in practice. The dispute over the reality or non-reality of thinking which is isolated from practice is a purely scholastic question.


The materialist doctrine that men are products of circumstances and upbringing, and that, therefore, changed men are products of changed circumstances and changed upbringing, forgets that it is men who change circumstances and that the educator must himself be educated. Hence this doctrine is bound to divide society into two parts, one of which is superior to society. The coincidence of the changing of circumstances and of human activity or self-change [Selbstveränderung] can be conceived and rationally understood only as revolutionary practice.


Feuerbach starts off from the fact of religious self-estrangement [Selbstentfremdung], of the duplication of the world into a religious, imaginary world, and a secular [weltliche] one. His work consists in resolving the religious world into its secular basis. He overlooks the fact that after completing this work, the chief thing still remains to be done. For the fact that the secular basis lifts off from itself and establishes itself in the clouds as an independent realm can only be explained by the inner strife and intrinsic contradictoriness of this secular basis. The latter must itself be understood in its contradiction and then, by the removal of the contradiction, revolutionised. Thus, for instance, once the earthly family is discovered to be the secret of the holy family, the former must itself be annihilated [vernichtet] theoretically and practically.


Feuerbach, not satisfied with abstract thinking, wants sensuous contemplation [Anschauung]; but he does not conceive sensuousness as practical, human-sensuous activity.


Feuerbach resolves the essence of religion into the essence of man [menschliche Wesen = ‘human nature’]. But the essence of man is no abstraction inherent in each single individual. In reality, it is the ensemble of the social relations. Feuerbach, who does not enter upon a criticism of this real essence is hence obliged:

1. To abstract from the historical process and to define the religious sentiment regarded by itself, and to presuppose an abstract — isolated - human individual.

2. The essence therefore can by him only be regarded as ‘species’, as an inner ‘dumb’ generality which unites many individuals only in a natural way.


Feuerbach consequently does not see that the ‘religious sentiment’ is itself a social product, and that the abstract individual that he analyses belongs in reality to a particular social form.


All social life is essentially practical. All mysteries which lead theory to mysticism find their rational solution in human practice and in the comprehension of this practice.


The highest point reached by contemplative [anschauende] materialism, that is, materialism which does not comprehend sensuousness as practical activity, is the contemplation of single individuals and of civil society [bürgerlichen Gesellschaft].


The standpoint of the old materialism is civil society; the standpoint of the new is human society or social humanity.


Philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it.