Keywords for Alexander Galloway’s „Laruelle. Against The Digital“

14 theses of Alexander Galloway according to Laruelle:

1) The medial principle: the real is communicable, and the communicable is real.
2) For the standard model of philosophy, everything that is given is split.
3) In non-standard philosophy, the One is a subtraction or a virtualization.
4) The One has no attributes.
5) The attributes of being are quartered: differentialized, dialectical, continuous and generic.
6) The digital means that one divides into two.
7) The analogous means that Two comes together in One.
8) Being is a possible mode; it adjoins the event.
9) Being is a calculative mode; it adjoins the calculative decision.
10) Non-standard philosophy is incompatible with exchange.
11) Non-Standard Aesthetics implies an Aesthetics without representation, an Aesthetics of immanence rather than transcendentality.
12) The political is two.
13) The ethical is one.
14) There is a tendential fall in the rate of the digital.
Alexander Galloway, Laruelle. Against The Digital.219

The One/Real

Alexander Galloway’s book published in 2015, „Laruelle. Against the Digital“ undoubtedly represents the most accomplished attempt to date not only to introduce the reader to Laruelle’s non-philosophy, but also to push it beyond the concept of its inventor. For now, we will only document Galloway’s introduction to Laruelle in key words. When Galloway describes the digital as the One dividing into Two, while the analog means the Two coming together as the One, this kind of integration refers not to a real synthesis of separate parts, but to the non-division of the One, or the Real, which immanently splits into Two. For Galloway, Laruelle’s greatest discovery consists in a new concept of relation that is neither dialectical nor differential, a relation that is non-digital. The idea of the non-digital implies not a mere negation of the digital, but the notion of a digital that is a species of the analog. The analog is the flat, the same, and if Laruelle is against the digital, he favors a flat thinking, a democracy of thinking beyond the hierarchies of philosophy. Every thing is One, and this is first and foremost a performative gesture, not an ontological gesture (which tells us what things are): individuals create sameness, they do not process it (as a philosophical property of difference, multiplicity tec.) What PRESENTS is the essentially multiple, WHAT PRESENTS is the essentially One. (Badiou, on the other hand, operates the inversion of Parmenides‘ position when he says that only the multiple exists and the One does not. For Badiou there are only actual multiplicities whose ground is emptiness. Deleuze thinks instead the unity of being or the equality between being and its expression. Being understood as a generic aliquid).

For Laruelle, it is all about the One: the One is the Real, i.e in the Real the One persists independently of philosophy and of being. For Laruelle, the One is radically immanent, it is not convertible with anything, that is, it does not go out of itself to enter into a relation with something. But it also cannot be equated with existence, it is neither being nor being. In its immanence, Laruelle understands the One as identity. It is given-without-given and thus identity or commonality with itself without ever being fully transcendentally constructed. All transcendentals are to be understood as clones of the One or of the immanent Real. Thus, the One is also the result of a weak transcendental positing; it is given-without-given and at the same time defined as a negative possibility that stands for all „tangibility“ of objects and for the rigor of thought itself. Laruelle rejects out of hand the metaphysical philosophical models that work with concepts such as representation, manifestation, or existence. For Laruelle, the One is never that which can be realized in being. The One simply refuses to be a synoynym for being. Rather, it is to be construed as an a priori condition that indicates radical immanence, that is, that identifies the One as non-manifest and non-reflective. From the perspective of the object, the One is not a thing; from the perspective of the relation, it does not form relations; from the perspective of the event, it does not occur and it does not actualize. Laruelle’s objects are, according to Galloway, black objects without windows, and his preferred relation is unilateral determination, which is irreversible and non-reflective, it is not to be classified as classificatory or differential as in empiricism, for example, nor is it combinatory and synthetic as in dialectics, neither is it considered efficient or event-like as in metaphysics.

It is necessary to note in Laruelle a shift from „there is“ to „is“, from „being“ to „to be“. The real knows no declension or cases, and the One knows no before and after; it is simply real and thus the closest to us. In opposition to the standard transcendental model, the Real, again Galloway argues, is a prevent rather than an event, thus emphasizing the operator virtualization: The real is the condition of pure virtuality. The world without us lies in a nebulous zone of the impersonal and horror.

Metaphysics likes to play with prepositions, while Laruelle tries to avoid as much as possible those prepositions that indicate a link or an affiliation, such as with, of, against, for … He prefers, on the contrary, non-relational links, which often enough exhibit structures of parallelism, in which the entities remain separate, although they somehow belong to each other, that is, they do not exchange each other, or, to put it differently, their parallelism is so radically superimposed that the entities acquire a mutual immanence. The associated prepositions here would be: are, in, as, through, according to, without … In a sense, Laruelle persistently seeks a relation without exchange.

The One has no linguistic attributes. It presents itself as a substance without attributes, indeed it simply does not care about them, and thus the One is necessarily the condition of all attributes. Normally, the attribute itself is a way of appearing, it presents multiple aspects of the same being, it is always an appearance as … i.e. the entity appears as something else; for Marx, for example, the epithet is considered as a form of appearance or as an attribute of a body, with which no additive descriptions of the body can occur. On the other hand, the One has no attributes, precisely because it is not sufficient for itself. In contrast, the worldly is always given in specific modes and it is sufficient enough for itself. Being includes the being-end as materialization and/or as structure, work appears as exchange value.

Analogue-Digital

The digital is the most emblematic form of the transcendental. Galloway thinks of the digital not from binarity, as usual, not from the distinction zero and one, but he thinks of it as the representation of a fundamental distinction (one divides into two) that makes it possible, first and foremost, to make ever further distinctions. Digitization, that is for Galloway the division into One into Two, and this already relies on the relation (two terms, no matter which ones, are put into relation here): regarding the in-formation the division into two forms takes place, regarding the language the division into the representation and the represented takes place, regarding the thinking the division between the thinker and what he thinks takes place. The digital thus contains within itself the potential to separate all things and to draw distinctions between them. Thus, the digital is defined as the One that is divided into Two and that ever already divides, that is, makes decisions. The digital describes processes of distinction and decision. Within the Given, all category are ever already divided, whether they are concepts, objects, or events, or in other words, primordial distinction requires that there be distinction. It is a matter of making discrete or separating the hitherto fluid, the whole and the integral. And this is done through operations such as division, individualization, deterritorialization, extension, or alienation. Any process that creates differences between two or more elements can be called digital. The vectors of distinction and integration. If one draws a vector from immanence to transcendence, it is one of digitization, the splitting of one into two. Essence appears alienated into instances, language into grammar, earth appears extended into matter, memory is externalized into media, authentic life is distinguished from inauthentic life.

Conversely, there is analogicity, which is about integration of superposition in one. Analogicity dissolves the relation in the direction of a superpositional immanence, which means nothing else than that the relation, insofar as it is conceived as one between two discrete entities, is rejected, instead a much more elementary relation is indicated, namely the relation from the same, which Laruelle calls „uni-lation“. This kind of auto-relation can only be a pseudo-relation and this is necessarily requires the theoretical construction of a new parallelism. This in turn constitutes a condition of two-ness in which the two is determined from the one. While immanent parallelism accentuates the question of form as one-dimensionality – duality of the One – digitality designs a logic as endless reduplication of the parallel. For Laruelle, the two sides are clones of each other, as clones they constitute a duality, a two-ness, but they are coupled to each other through the relation of identity, of sameness. Digitality, on the other hand, serves a transcendental parallelism.

The superposition can be even better explained with quantum theory, as Laruelle does in his late period. As Karen Barad writes: „Unlike particles, waves can be superimposed on one another. For example, when two ocean waves overlap, the amplitude of the resultant wave is the combined amplitudes of the component waves: the amplitude of one wave is added to theamplitude of the other wave, and the result is a wave with their combined amplitude (see chapter 2). The resultant wave is said to be a linear combination or a superposition of the component waves. Like water waves, Schrödinger wave functions can also be added together to form superpositions. For example, let IjJl and IjJl (the Greek letter 1jJ, psi, is conventionally used to represent the wave function) represent two solutions to tlle SE for a particular situation. 12 At first it may seem odd that there would be more than one solution to a given problem but this is often the case. (It’s easiest to get a sense of what it means for there to be more than one solution by looking at specific examples, which we’ll do next.) There is a mathematical theorem that says that if both IjJl and 1jJ, are solutions to the SE, then any arbitrary linear combination ofthe two solutions IjJl and 1jJ, is also a solution of the SE. In other words, if both IjJl and 1jJ, are solutions, then if we multiply each ofthe individual solutions by an arbitrary (complex) number and add them together, the sum will also be a solution as long as the coefficients are appropriately normalized (i.e., they are related as follows: Ia12 + Ib12 = L …

Using the superposition principle, it is possible to combine (superpose) component waves, each of well-defined wavelength, to form a wave packet localized in space. (Particles are objects that are localized in space, whereas waves are disturbances that are spread out in space.).“

Also Laruell writes in Christo-Fiction: „What is opposed to all these philosophical corpuscular solutions that go from identity to difference and to the dialectic is obviously the quantum act of vectoriell superposition, which responds to a logic other thanthat of dualities such as form and matter, all of which are inscribed in the doublet of transcendence such as it is reflected both in form and in matter. Superposition stems from a property of certain algebraic operations,it is idempotence (A + A = A) that escapes an analytic or even synthetic operation as classically defined. The dualities of instances, originally of the corpuscular, classically nonsuperposable type, are found under certain conditions in unilateral complementarities. There is superposition when immanence is the same through and through, and traverses the transcendences that it brings about rather than contains, but that do not change it by being added to it. Two terms can be superposed if they are of such a nature that they conserve the same unchanged immanence despite their adjunction or their addition, which reenters under or in immanence. Not just any matter whatsoever is susceptible to superposition, it must be of a wave type; and not just any logic works for it, it must be an idempotent logic, one that responds to the imaginary or complex number.“

Laruelle is not concerned with producing a new absence, since this would still remain within the relation of „presence and absence,“ but rather with a positive replication of the One. The analogue means that the two comes together in the one, it produces a relation without distinction, through the process of differentation (not difference). It brings heterogeneous elements back to the state of identity, it produces a relation of non-differentiation.

In analogy, the comparison or proportioning of two things, there is no difference, only commonality. Laruelle is concerned with immanence, which is so immanent to itself that it becomes generic or common. The immanent One is also what Laruelle calls the Indivisible, Without-Divisibility, or the Uninterpretable. This identity, however, does not refer to the individual, but to the heterogeneous, which alone can establish the conditions for a relation of the common. The heterogeneous is not to be understood as a collection of different things, but as pure differentiation. Laruelle does not say that the real is virtual, for it is always in superposition, but nonetheless the real, while remaining immanent in itself, presents itself at every point, and is therefore virtual to every point.

The analog possesses two modes or two poles of immanence, i.e. there are two ways of thinking immanence: finitude in person (Laruelle) and infinity as a plane (Deleuze), the latter as immanence of everything, in which heterogeneous entities acquire material existence and assemble in streaming attraction. There are no complex aggegates in Deleuze, only assemblages; there is dividedness, but in a multiplicity of times, so that it comes to a unitary mode of immanent being, for each entity. The unity here is in the power of the sublime totality of multiplicity. There are so many pure multiplicities and they are singular, they are so absolutely immanent to themselves that they are One. Univocity in the pure sense. One-as-multiples means comes One, comes All.

The Standard Model of Philosophy

Galloway distinguishes in philosophy, first, transcendentality as negation and affirmation, and second, immanence as negation and affirmation.

Affirmation and negation are thought here purely as operators. Affirmation has a positive operator whose steps are x+1, or let us say it differently, we are concerned here with the absolute operator /1/ which removes negation. The affirmative sui generis demands the positive presence of things, or to put it differently, one-two perpetuates separateness in the terms of a never-ending two-ness.

Negation, on the other hand, is not positive but critical. It operates with the negative operator x-1; one also speaks of a multiplicative inversion of valence (XX -1). The force field that moves from affirmation to negation is that of profanation, in that associated entities are simultaneously separated and reassembled. Moving from negation to affirmation, on the other hand, is the vector of alternation, connection, and association, which has nothing in mind with continuous mixing and interfacing, but instead calls for a movement toward the common.

Let’s move on to the distinction between immanence and transcendentality. Immanence means, first, that one can subtract or subtract something from an entity without changing its immanence. Laruelle’s immanence is one of logic and not one of nature (Deleuze, Spinoza) or of the self (Fichte, Henry). Transcendentality, on the other hand, includes forcing, by the method of subtraction or addition, the complete reworking of what is separate or unseparated from the entity. (Laruelle modifies his non-philosophical definition of the transcendental to mean that it should always refer to that which remains unchanged). In Laruelle, the immanent is non-essential, and the transcendental remains essential; in the latter, the essence cannot be interrogated without changing, while the generic or the immanent can be reshaped to infinity without ever changing. The One tends to be nothing, while at the same time it always remains something (anything, whatever). If the generic is essential, then only as emptiness, i.e. it includes the essence of emptiness. The transcendental, on the other hand, gives us the conditions of possibility for division as such and for relation as such, insofar as something in itself divides through all metamorphoses and thus also persists: the transcendental orders the question of emergence, not that of immanence. It establishes relations, but only to return to itself again and again, to complete itself anew and to persist in itself.

Transcendental affirmation implies the one-two of differential being, while transcendental negation refers to the non-one of dialectical being. Immanent affirmation includes the one-as-multiple in the context of a continuous being (Deleuze), while immanent negation refers to the one-and-done of generic being (Laruelle).

Metaphysics means that the one is always re-organized in the context of two-ness, and that qua difference. A specific form of staccato arises here, that of binarism, or to put it another way, the generic form of staccato here is called digitalization. It describes the conditions of possibility for making distinctions that are those of difference to infinity. Based on difference and representation, the One is ever already related to the Two of differential being, i.e. transcendentality. Laruelle, however, sees in transcendental philosophy ultimately always the 2/3 matrix at work, in which two terms meet to form a third synthetic term. Or, conversely, we find the 3/2 matrix at work: Here philosophy begins with excess, is itself the 3, and then establishes relations of representation (2) with everything and everyone.

Dialectical being functions in and with direct and continuous negation, whose form is opposition or critique. Here, the two-ness is no longer understood as a mere affirmation of the positivity of two entities, as it is with transcendentality, but is conceived as the negativity of the not-one. The one and the not-one continually form a new twin. In dialectical thought we find the eternal antagonism or emergence and disappearance of entities through structures of contingency or metamorphosis; the crucial passwords here are point, position, opposition, struggle, critique… Dialectical entities are not particles but points. However, dialectical processes can also lead to harmony, because in the processes of translation and transformation there are permanent resonances between the different tonal entities.

Deleuze-Laruelle

Let us come to the philosophers of immanence. If continuous, infinite immanence (this is how Laruelle articulates his perspective on Deleuze) occurs at the level of nature, his own generic immanence focuses on the level of the person, of shared lived experience and existence. Immanence, for Laruelle, is always finite. And it works as generic being with, among other things, the figures of subtraction, negation as a pure „bunker“ of thought. The negativity of the one-and-the-same is not that of contradiction, but rather of absence, of loneliness: passwords here are subtraction, withdrawal, nothingness, commonality, something, whatever, exodus, disappearance … It is about a static parallelism consisting of the one and the person, which is parallelized in superposition. So you also have to radicalize the two. Laruelle, unlike Deleuze, is not concerned with the immanence of the Any and Everything, but with the immanence of the Something (whatever). While Deleuze prefers the space of endless multiplicities, Laruelle is more concerned with the space of the entity, be it the person or the One itself. We find in Laruelle’s non-philosophy not a generic totality, but the closedness of the particular, by which infinity is to be avoided and finitude advocated. While the splitness of being is „solved“ by the proliferation of endless repetitions or differences, Laruelle simply pretends that it never existed. There is no multiplication or reduplication for him; rather, the generic event refers to an ethical practice that, however, no longer establishes a subject position – proletariat, gender, Negro, etc – , but only affirms n=1 or the multiple-without-everything; there is no synthesis between identity and multiplicity.

Deleuze’s univocity is not completely differentiated from being; on the contrary, the unity of the One is expressed for Deleuze in all multiblen permutations of being. Deleuze’s univocal being is populated by multiplicities that become infinite. Or to put it another way, every determinate and finite event is relativized, and even relative becoming is still relativized. The relative permutations or deterritorializations are grounded in an absolute deterritorialization, the virtual-real eternity of timelessness. This is the univocity and every actualization is its expression. The relativization of becoming consists in its ente opposition to being, whereby becoming as a transcendental decision occupies the role of being, an immanent and differential being. The One remains related to the univocal mode of being, a proliferation of real multiplicities, all of which are unified in relation to their oneness, regardless of their real differences. Deleuze’s immanence of the Any or Nature is found in the smooth aggregation of heterogeneous multiplicities or entities, all inhabiting the same material-machine phylum. And each individual entity is in turn a heterogeneous singularity, together with the multiplicities it creates a plane of immanence that is flat; there is no duality here at all, only variations and differences of univocal intensity; nature is immanent in itself, it does not have to emerge externally to realize itself. The generic is located in Deleuze on the level of (open) totality and at the same time the continuous being is an immanence of the any, i.e. the One does not appear finite but moves in the infinite undulations of the earth. Deleuze’s One always means One-All. The reproach that Laruelle addresses here to Deleuze is that the latter, following Nietzsche, would have made a transcendental decision for immanence that would have made impossible not only the possibility of transcendence for finite, empirical objects, but any real transcendence that could limit the creative-destructive power of difference. Difference here is pure difference, insofar as it is situated in a milieu of perpetual differentiation and no longer permits any distinction between thought and being and between diverse entities. Insofar as the real are always events of immanent and differential productions, syntax always maintains the upper hand over reality, the latter being situated only within the problem of philosophical syntax. Collectivity implies for Deleuze the question of the totality of matter and physical processes. Deleuze is not a metaphysician, but he is a physicist. His important terms are integration, multiplicity, analog, univocity, process, modulation, autopoiesis, etc. In Deleuze, the sets of singularities always form pure events.

Whereas dialectic continually processes through the chain of negations by formulating dynamic oppositions in series, continuous being processes immanently through inductive, emergent affirmation. Entities lose their importance in comparison to process; the universe is no longer divided into objects here, rather we are primarily dealing with a nexus of relations that rise and fall and are thus permanently out of balance. Deleuze thinks repetition and difference in terms of additive and differential expression, i.e. the one is the product of pure multiplicity. And he proposes against the dialectic the entanglement of virtualization and actualization. Actualization here is a process of digitalization insofar as the One becomes a One, this One that exists in difference to other Ones. Badiou, on the other hand, is a subtractivist; the event here is never conceived as part of the situation, but it is subtracted. The term being is that of emptiness, the one is absent. Laruelle, in turn, thinks neither additively nor subtractively in this context, but demands radical equality or identity, the same. This is radically immanent.

Hegel. What is given is divided, this is Hegel’s true principle. In a sense, Hegel uses both the digital (The One divided into Two) and the analog (Two synthesizing in the One) as the elements of his dialectic: the moment of analysis, in which the One is divided into Two, and the moment of synthesis, in which the Two is combined as One. Through synthesis, Hegel aims to overcome alienation. There are contradictions, but they must be soch reintegrated into the great whole, the absolute spirit. In Marxism, on the other hand, analysis is often overemphasized via the figure of struggle. The Marxist dialectic is an inexhaustible process of negation via reflection or opposition; the original dividedness of a term is answered with the reiteration of newly invented negations, in the self and in all subsequent products of the dividedness of the one of a differential digitality, the other and the self are precisely not synthesized – the worker and the capitalist remain eternally irreconcilably separated.

Laruelle. Finally, there is the immanence of the something (whatever), the generic being. Since the something (whatever) rests in itself, there is no reason for it to go outside itself; it forms neither relations (transcendental relations to itself) nor prehensions with objects outside itself. It is something because precisely nothing specific can be attributed to it. If something remains in itself, then there is also no predication by which specific predicates are attached to subjects, for instance a is b: the subject a is endowed with the attribute b – no, generic being negates its attributes. Generic being is then to be equated with the notion of virtualization insofar as actual entities are de-individuated (not divided) (brought into an indivisibility with themselves and with other things) in order to be released into a new stream of non-dividedness precisely in the course of differentiation. The specific now becomes generic insofar as the two becomes one. The individual becomes quite impersonal.

For Deleuze, the analogical indexes a two-ness or multiplicity of entities insofar as they return to the baseline of the continuous oneness of univocal being in its totality. For Laruelle, the analogue indexes a break with the two sides of attribution (a is b, this is that) in order to return to the generic oneness of univocal being. A is a, a is it itself, whatever it is. We find here the pure analytic immanence of the a priori. The tautology ratifies the law of identity in order to take the step to radical immanence (One-in-One). The real is an a priori real; radical anti-emprism reigns for Laruelle. Events, on the other hand, are digital.

Deleuze’s procedure of unilateral duality can be formulated as follows: The one-multiple as an eventful and causal relation generates the rupture in analog and digital terms. If univocity is thought in terms of equality and bivalence, it is digital. Conversely, the movement is analog. The real then conditions the multiple, unilaterally and irreversibly. But the real conditions the multiple transcendentally and so it must be digital. But the multiple – equivalent things in the world – are always already in a relationship of analogicity, related to the One.

For Laruelle, creation is digital, but lived experience remains analog. Unilateral means that the One is oblivious to the Two and thus insists in its oneness, while duality indicates two connections in an identity with the One. Unilateral it is followed by digital distinction, while duality is followed by analog integration. The One requires the unilateralization of the process, it is the event of indifference, subtraction from decision and relation. Unilateralization involves a strong theory of causality. An irreversible and rigorous causality that works through cloning; a logic that produces duality only through an identical copy. Nothing is synthesized during the act of cloning. And the clone, as a copy, is dependent on the One, while the One remains closed to the clone, at the same time determining it in the last instance. The One is in a relation of non-relationship to the clone. There is as no low-level convertibility between the One and Being. The One is the non-convertible.

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