Phase 2 of deontologistics started in 2017, with the publication of ‘Transcendental Blues‘ (TR). Up until this point my writing had been mostly very technical and academic in tone. I strove for maximal charity in interpreting my intellectual opponents and kept the relation between my philosophical ideas and my personal interests largely separate. I still think interpretative charity is important, and that the pervasive lack of it in the academy is a symptom of deep underlying pathologies.
However, in the process of writing OOP, I learned that such charity was not just compatible with style and rhetoric, but could be enhanced by it. It was important not just to write about interesting ideas, but to make the writing interesting in its own right. TR was not just the first time I applied this lesson on the blog, but the first time I tried to write in a confessional style, weaving together the philosophical and the personal in a way that might be both informative and liberating at the same time. I’ve tried to cultivate this style since, with mixed success.
There are a couple other important features of the work that falls under the heading of Phase 2, which we might group under the headings of form and content.
In terms of form, this work re-centred the blog as the main medium of my thinking, though it also began to draw on writing done on other platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. This writing would get captured and collated in blog posts in which I could use hyperlinks rather than references to make explicit the context within which my ideas are situated and the connections between them, while also allowing me to extend them with further commentary.
This is one dimension of the commitment to working out Mark Fisher’s legacy announced in TR. He did most of his best work thinking online, in conversation with others, and it should be possible to do this sort of work and have it acknowledged for what it is. Thought should happen only where is can happen, and this is where it can happen for me.
In terms of content, there were two major developments. On the one hand, this work benefits from an engagement with logic, mathematics, and computer science begun in 2014 under the guidance of Reza Negarestani. I actually wrote TR as a sort of prelude to a blog post/book I’d begun writing titled Synthetic Philosophy of Logic. This is a long term project that is still underway, and will be ready when it is ready. On the other, the work strays into territory that I’d previously avoided, discussing normative questions (ethics, politics, art, etc.) in not just abstract terms, but looking at concrete examples and expressing personal opinions that I’d previously felt irrelevant to my philosophical views.
This is the other dimension of my commitment to Mark’s legacy. He used concrete analyses of culture, from TV and Cinema to music and mental health, to articulate complex philosophical and political points in ways that not only made these ideas accessible, but did justice to the real importance of these things in our lives. If the unexamined life isn’t worth living, then we must do our best to examine the lives in front of us, rather than tame examples made familiar by rote repetition.
Intrigued? Get ready for Phase 3…