More Thoughts in Response to Levi Bryant

This time from his latest God and Mythico-Poetic Thought.

Rather than reject religion outright, how about rejecting the monotheism that requires inward directed souls/subjects to declare their belief in a perfect God? The internalized desire of the believer-subject is reproduced as well in Descartes who then can split himself from the external world of “Nature”, which is then in turn reproduced in the discourse of naturalist science. Both science and religion contain in their theories an ideal observer distinct from the external world; in one case an omnipresent God, in the other a complete world both external to the believer and total at once. Physics too has its religious pretensions in that elusive quest for the theory of everything.

The problem as I see it is rather in conceiving Nature as a whole and not working through its persistent aporias. We’re it not demanded to achieve a theory of Nature that matches or replaces a belief in Everything, scientists could be seen as producing accurate measurements without being hounded by deniers for being “just a theory”.

The mythico-poetic is of a different form than religions which force subjects to believe in a god. It is more like a background of cultural signifiers which make meaningful discourse possible just as much as the “wiredness” of our bodies. They contain many creation myths that do not explain in the same way as an individual explaining a foundational belief because they provide a foundational background for a common, shared cultural imagination.

The distinction I am drawing here is between subjective-belief in The universe and universes of symbolic reference as diverse as their are isolated cultures. This is possibly an ontological distinction, perhaps pertaining to the ground needed to have the the figure of a belief in general. I’m thinking now of the function of “the full body of the earth, the cosmic egg” in Deleuze and Guattari’s 3rd chapter of Anti-Oedipus. It plays the role of a territorial beginning from which flows and codings then implement primordial inscription. Still a rough draft of an interpretation of a massive work though.

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4 thoughts on “More Thoughts in Response to Levi Bryant

  1. Reblogged this on AGENT SWARM and commented:
    Freud is an outstanding example of mytho-poetic thought, and should be read as such outside his rationalist reductions and disguises. One of these reductions is his own monomyth of the Oedipus complex. Deleuze and Guattari’s ANTI-OEDIPUS can easily be seen as a deployment of the pluralist and polytheist mytho-poetic unconscious against Freud’s monist reductions. Lacan takes some steps towards de-theologising Freud but stops halfway. Levi Bryant’s naturalisation of Lacan is a theological move that neutralises the productive unconscious, placing all productivity on the side of a theological notion of “matter”, whose referent is deliberately vague and changing, as are the epithets used to name its components (objects, machines, assemblages, units, etc.). Bryant’s problem should be political, not epistemological. It is in the institutionalisation of the mytho-poetic function of “fabulation” (as Deleuze calls it, following Bergson, but giving this term and the reality it conveys a positive valuation). This is of course yet another name for what Deleuze and Guattari called “desire”, when their principle interlocutors were those contaminated by psychanalysm. This fabulation is described by Deleuze in the cinema books, which are noteworthy for making virtually no reference to psychoanalysis and its hermeneutics. Bryant actively espouses Lacanian hermeneutics, with which he uses doublethink to maintain it alongside his naive “naturalist” hermeneutic of science. Bryant’s pronouncements are religious in the sense of selective synchronic snapshots of the productions of the diachronic mytho-poetic unconscious (one can recall Deleuze and Guattari’s diagnosis of psychoanalysis as based on “photos” of desiring production. His “religious” (in the traditional sense) interlocutors can only be fundamentalists as that is all his critical hermeneutic is capable of handling. hence he must exaggerate with not a shred of proof the proportions of Christians who are naive literal-minded believers, as he himself is of such Lacanian nonsense as his mathemes and of a positivism relooked with more modern jargon (Luhmann, Badiou, Bhaskar). It is an exploit to condemn credulous Christians and to pose smirky questions about voodoo priests, when the Lacanian psychoanalyst is one of the closest things we have to a voodoo priest in our society, at least according to Deleuze and Guattari, but also to many others. just as it is an exploit for Bryant to knowingly discuss Latour, and then speaking in his own name to give an ideological picture of the “inevitable consequences” of contemporary science that regress back to prejudices dating from 50 years before Latour began to deconstruct and dissipate them.

  2. I second your’s, and Terrence Blake’s, criticisms against Bryant’s simplistic naturalism. It is extremely disheartening that a practicing analyst knows so little about the foundational thinkers and of his field that the he goes about vituperating their prime tenets as meaningless in light of the Procrustean bed he calls “science”, in a way that even manages to disparage the philsophy of science [which needs to sycophants possessed of Bryant’s lunatic insistence and conceptual penury].

    Find some of my responses to this affront here:

    http://lacquesjacan.wordpress.com/2013/05/17/on-levi-bryants-axiomatic-absolutism/

  3. I second your’s, and Terrence Blake’s, criticisms against Bryant’s simplistic naturalism. It is extremely disheartening that a practicing analyst knows so little about the foundational thinkers of his field that the he goes about vituperating their prime tenets as meaningless in light of the Procrustean bed he calls “science”, in a way that even manages to disparage the philsophy of science [which needs no sycophants possessed of Bryant’s lunatic insistence and conceptual penury].

    Find some of my responses to this affront here:

    http://lacquesjacan.wordpress.com/2013/05/17/on-levi-bryants-axiomatic-absolutism/

    Errata:
    *foundational thinkers of his field- [“and” excised]

    *which needs no sycophants- [“to” replaced by “no”

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