dangerous emotions

Emotions color the line drawings with which cognition represents reality. The philosophical distinction between the cognitive sense and private feelings can be traced back to Aristotle; it continues to our day in the concept of objective scientific knowledge. We take emotions to be distinctively human phenomena. Outside the crystal ball of the human psyche, there are only grass that does not wince when we tread on it, trees that are impassive as the chain-saw slashes them, water that does not shiver with pleasure when we stroke it, atoms drifting through the void without anxiety and colliding without pleasure or pain. If these things move us, it is because we are moved by the colors we project onto them. All colors, according to John Locke and seventeenth-century epistemology, including the “color” of emotion, are subjective effects within the pscyhe of the viewer.

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What is the reasoning, perceptive, ‘singing’ monad that is only in the passions, affection, and perceptions that it expresses?

Claire Colebrook suggests it’s a queer passive vitalism. Consider this:

In concrete terms, we might begin by thinking of gender. Active vitalism, at least in the form that Deleuze and Guattari trace back to Kant, regards all concepts and categories as originally imposed by the subject upon an otherwise meaningless life. Active vitalism might regard gender as one of the ways in which life or the social ‘constructs’ categories that differentiate an otherwise general or undifferentiated humanity: so the criticism of stereotypes (as clichés or rigid forms imposed upon life) would lead to an overthrow of rigid categories in favour of what we really are (as unique individuals) or would expose that there are no such things as individuals, only effects of gender as it is represented. Genders and kinds are known in the vague and general opposition between male and female, distinctions that are imposed upon life and that need to be reactivated by being traced back to their social and familial origins. By contrast, for Deleuze and Guattari’s passive vitalism genders, kinds and stereotypes are not categories imposed upon life that might be overcome or criticised in the name of a universal and self aware humanity; instead, it is life as a multiple and differentiating field of powers that expresses itself in various manners. Continue reading “Forms-of-Life”

“Forget the Dialectic”

Heres a _rough_ version of the paper I gave at the Marxist Literary Group – Institute on Culture and Society 2010 in Antigonish at St. Francis Xavier University:

Forget The Dialectic

Too many

Movement philosophers,

not enough

moving philosophy.

The curse of





make a motion,

fake e-motion.

We need more





in the heat

of resistance.

–Ron Sakolsky, Swift Winds


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