Minor Rationalism


Minor Rationalism entails the synthesis of two schools of thinking currently happening online. The two camps are „libidinal materialism“ and „neo-Rationalism.“ Thinkers of the first camp include Bataille, Klossowski, Lyotard, Deleuze & Guattari, early Nick Land and CCRU. Thinkers of the second camp include Reza Negarestani, Peter Wolfendale, Ray Brassier and Fernando Zalamea.

This show attempts to find a hyper-rational pure structuralism. This could be „pure mathematics“ itself. Or „scientific structuralism“ in the philosophy of mathematics. The best illustration is if one were to ask what is more fundamental than biology, one would respond chemistry. But again if one were to ask what is more fundamental than chemistry, one would respond physics. If one were to ask again what is more fundamental than physics, one would respond mathematics. And if one were to ask yet again what is more fundamental than mathematics, one would respond philosophy of mathematics. From this we can conclude that society is a particular instantiation of the philosophy of mathematics. The aim of such an approach is to find a more abstract generalization of the socio-political world (the art world included, albeit a small part of society).

On the other hand, culture is facilitated by the advancement of the vanguard with the art world most commonly leading the torch of the cosmopolitan nous. The „minor“ in minor rationalism entails the opening up of a singularity from the artistic field itself. Certain artworks and practices can tear open the fabric of our lives to reveal a deeper singular Truth, albeit highly individualized and even personal.

But how exactly do we synthesize these two camps? In my „Minor Rationalism“ essay, I write:

„Minor rationalism has two meanings. First, a political meaning of “minor”. And second, an epistemological meaning of some basic intelligibility to the world predicated on some transcendental computationalist intelligence. A mind which is unmoored from temporality and properly universal in scope because of its transhistorical meaning of a sociality which re-attempts the failures of the Enlightenment project (i.e. Reason). Reason is anchored not in the capitalist engine of exchange-value (i.e. communication), but rather the most essential contours of a structure through a universal construction which finds a geometric invariant above varying ideologies, philosophies, programs, perspectives.“

The „minor“ here refers to Deleuze’s „minority“ which means a thing/being/movement which has been marginalized and escapes the canon of conventional (art) history or the State or the status quo. The State imposes an „order of things“ as Foucault said and this order is our epistemological means of understanding the legitimacy of certain beings.

But what about the „rationalism“? Alex Boland, in his afterword to my Prolegomenon to a Treatise on Mathematical Structuralism (available here: tinyurl.com/philofmath ), writes:

„This method is at the heart of Eric’s treatise, where the genetic epistemology of Piaget, the individuation of Simondon, the theories of difference of Deleuze, and the “non-philosophy” of Laruelle dovetail with the synthetic approaches of emerging areas of mathematics such as category and type theory to sketch out a kind of idealism by which one can play out new tactics for addressing the Real through a rigorous construction of the universal where the active craft of epistemology replaces the endless regress of fundamentally constipated questions that refuse to further develop and differentiate their affordances. Or, to put it another way, rather than naively positing a static a-priori backdrop as either a set of building blocks or a stage upon which everything else fundamentally acts, one effectively converges on an ideal through the construction of universalities rather than merely uncovering a passive a-priori.“

In mathematics, the universal construction (universality) allows us mathematically to gain a higher generality/vantage point in order to unify varying modalities or particularites, but without necessarily subsuming the particularity into the generality (See contemporary research in the field of Topos Theory). The universal construction is the inherent invariant of the constituents of the ambient topological space, i.e. a universal topos to organize the different topologies. This has huge ramifications for organizing social topologies. Minor rationalism can be understood as a means of unifying the typologies of varying „counter-cultural“ practices. Here the particular can reach infinity (specifically infinity-categories) and cut through the fabric of everyday life and achieve a significance and influence in its dense singularity. But these practices themselves can be abstracted, de-contextualized and isolated into a higher vantage point (the universality), some kind of symphony of moving parts. In my „Minor Rationalism“ essay, I write:

„This manifesto is a call-to-arms for a new artistic movement, what I have dubbed “minor rationalism”. What unifies the artists in this exhibition, is that they operate on a decentralized network as opposed to a centralized hierarchy. They exhibit or don’t exhibit. They have run legendary project spaces that were at the vanguard of Context / neo-Conceptual art. They were the brother of a famous painter, but they were committed to being a Genius Dilettante. They exhibited at a Bed-Stuy project space for grit-minded artists. They ran a tape label anonymously, fortifying a certain rhythmic non-techno aesthetic. They were the background figure of an irreverent art collective and post-ironic trend forecasting group. They made work for years that was the outré to the Downtown scene. They recorded for years anonymously under a pseudonym and performed cold wave nights. They had an internet practice which transformed into being a jack-of-all-trades. They made irreverent work that was guest curated at a former-project-space-turned-LES-gallery. They were obsessed with Odilon Redon and made a body of work that attempted new topologies of Redon’s space. They went to Städelschule and found a home for being a total weirdo/freak. They ran a project space that exhibited every artist that was “off the beaten path” at that time. They were in an outsider rock band and became an avant-garde composer. They ran an LES gallery that was a home for conceptually-visionary artists. They made sound poetry/sound compositions that were simultaneously elegiac and lowest fidelity. They were America’s Greatest Noise besides Emil Beaulieau himself. They curated a non-exhibition in Milan. They were in an industrial band. They are a „record head“ and made paintings about post-digital abstraction. They ran a seminal art blog that was formative for many artists 10 years ago. They started a gallery as a student. They frequently exhibited besides/alongside other austere conceptual artists. They theorized about noise and capitalism. They institutionally critiqued a gallery. They knocked off Kippenberger. They released on a legendary Detroit label. They ran an apartment gallery focusing on the intersection between the art world and music world.“

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