A Further Defence of Pop Philosophy:
Comments from Terence Blake

Following Simon Obirek’s recent post about the old/new blogosphere — discussed here the other day — Terence Blake has added some further comments of his own.

For what it’s worth, Terence is one of my favourite bloggers and if we want to talk about writers who have continued to stay true to the old blogger’s sentiment, even continuing to find new and exciting ways to use blogs productively for philosophical research and debate, I can think of no person more deserving of credit than him.

Terence has added to this discussion over a series of threads and responses that add further context and a number of interesting provocations regarding the nature of the blogosphere going forwards:

I am appalled that the re-writing of intellectual history and of Continental Philosophy blogging history that is now accompanying it. The idea that Deleuze-ism was the default position is simply false. [1]

The default position was “post-Deleuze”, in the sense of having already learned from Deleuze and gone “beyond”. This was Harman’s position and that of the tiny circle of mutual admiration and lobbying that clustered around his blog style. [2]

Deleuze’s idea that philosophy is creation of concepts means creation of problems. Philosophers create far more problems than they solve. Being “Deleuzian” would mean creating even more problems within Deleuze’s problematic legacy, not systems and studies. [3]

Deleuze constantly re-problematised his own concepts, and his last book with Guattari, WHAT IS PHILOSOPHY?, is a mess. It contains a huge number of references to the “infinite” and the “absolute”, but leaves them in a problematic state. [5]

Those who think like Deleuze turn all his solutions into problems. This gives not Deleuze studies or aggressive narcissistic blogging but Badiou, Laruelle, Stiegler, Latour thinkers who think in their own name by problematising and estranging. [4]

Badiou and Zizek are the continuation of Deleuze’s gestures of thought, and the academy is still trailing behind. [6]

Later he writes:

I think that @gregeganSF WANG’S CARPETS plus the @SFFAudio discussion shows the convergence of accelerationism and correlationism – its epistemological shadow driving it and that it can never overcome. This is @BrunoLatourAIME‘s notion of the “META” [1]

Tying this idea in with an earlier discussion @xenogothic of the genealogy of the Continental Philosophy blogosphere. The active, aggressive post-CCRU crowd were busy creating their own correlationist bubble, a quasi-solipsistic sub-meta-verse. [2]

The performative contradiction: all this “schizo” creativity is in danger of reinforcing “digital autism” (analysed by @babette_babich). This converges with Franco Berardi’s analysis of the ongoing passage from the second unconscious (schizo) to the third unconscious (autist). [3]

Later still, Terence discusses Arthur C. Clarke’s “The Star”, in a discussion of the priest-protagonist that resonates with Mark Fisher’s disappointment with the blogosphere too, I think — he often invoked a Deleuzian image of the priest in his critiques of what this space was becoming — later connecting back to Simon’s post and my own:

I posted on Arthur C. Clarke’s classic short story THE STAR as being more optimistic than it may seem at first sight as expressing perhaps the first phase in a future self-transformation of the priest. [1]

The story works as expressing the subjective drama of the Jesuit when faced with a crucial objection to his beliefs. He believes in the literal truth and historical accuracy of the Christian narrative and in the theological conception of God as all-loving. [2]

“The Star” dramatises the familiar problem of evil and suffering and the failure of theodicy by transposing it onto the cosmic scale, thus making it difficult to explain away by references to God’s transcendent wisdom and his Divine Plan. [3]

A dogmatic believer could have reacted by deciding that the date of Christ’s birth had been miscalculated or that the Bible story is all symbolic, and implies no real birth or historical dating. [4]

Viewed statically the story presents us with the possible nihilistic collapse of his faith if our Jesuit hero once allows himself to view his religious belief system scientifically and integrates his observations as constituting an insurmountable refuting instance. [5]

He is bringing back Bad News to the Vatican. [6]

Viewed dynamically (as there is an unfinished aspect to this tale) we can see the astronomer-priest as deeply moved by the religiousness of this alien people, and so perhaps as capable of moving on to some sort of secular spirituality that would not be in conflict with science [7]

I think the story works even better when viewed in this dynamic perspective. He is bringing back Bad News for the Vatican, but Good News for Mankind – the love of God is refuted, but the love of Life (even under desperate circumstances — cf. the aliens) is confirmed. [8]

The priest-protagonist is confronted with the refutation or negation of his faith, but I think that this is not the final word. There is also an underlying Clarkean affirmation, as figured in the life-affirming testament of the alien civilisation. [9]

See also @SFFAudio https://sffaudio.com/reading-short-and-deep-202-the-star-by-arthur-c-clarke/ [10]

Expressed in the terms of Laruelle’s A BIOGRAPHY OF ORDINARY MAN the priest-protagonist is unable to attain the reconciliation of theoretical rigour and human truth. This book of Laruelle’s corresponds to the static reading as it has no room for individuation. [11]

Laruelle’s TETRALOGOS is entirely based on individuation and on the parallel between philosophy and science fiction. This corresponds to the dynamic reading, and allows us to see THE STAR as an incomplete fragment of the voyage more fully expressed in 2001 A Space Odyssey. [12]

Still meditating on the dialogue between @xenogothic and @SimonObirek on the intellectual genealogy and conceptual infra-structure of the Continental Philosophy blogosphere and its progressive succumbing to entropic decline due to its social and intellectual closure. [13]


This decline will continue unless new anti-entropic resources can be found and absorbed, or else a wider anti-entropic research programme can include, absorb, transform and give new life to this sub-programme. [15]

I was surprised to see the combining of science fiction and philosophy treated as the mark of academia mainstreaming the originality of the (post-)CCRU syntheses. This combination is far older. [16]

I consider myself a latecomer, but my own syntheses long precede the “greats” of CCRU (self-)fame. I first knowingly read SF when I was 8 or 9 years old (in 1962 or 1963) and philosophy when I was 11 or 12 (1965 or 1966) and from then on they were firmly linked in my mind. [17]

This led to many problems in academia as my arguments were often rejected as irrelevant, off-topic, appealing to mere logical possibility but nothing real, incoherent etc. That sort of synthesis was not pursued or encouraged in the early seventies. [18]

I am a “latecomer” as the synthesis of sf and philosophy was there from the beginning. @JeanCletMartin in his LOGIQUE DE LA SCIENCE-FICTION traces the underlying conceptual logic of SF back to Hegel. [19]

So the post-CCRU crowd are even more belated late-comers than I and the many others that lived and thought within the Philo-SF meta-programme. [20]

When I first read Nick Land I found his verbose style unbearable and his dumbed-down “Bataillo-Deleuzian” thinking even more so. Gregory Sadler @philosopher70 has some useful analyses here. [21]

So I think that the CCRU’s interlocutor to come is a time-traveling future Zizek once his Hegel has eaten up all his Lacan (a still ongoing and unbearably SLOW process) — as expressed in the film TENET. [22]

Much to chew on here, and I may come back to Terence’s comments in a later post. Let this do as a space to gathered his interjections for now, so as not to lose them to the Twitter tide.

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