Distinguishing the General from the Generic / Lectures / The Alphabetic Absolute

Abstract // Incandescent materialism, literacy in quantum writing

abstract for my talk at the NEW MATERIALIST POLITICS AND ECONOMIES OF KNOWLEDGE CONFERENCE, 2 – 4 OCTOBER 2015, MARIBOR, SLOVENIA

Philosophy has to reconsider how it addresses the world, Michel Serres maintains in his “materialism of the incandescent void” (L’ Incandescent, 2003). This, for him, is an issue of metaphysics: the world, as we ought to address it, is a world that actively knows. The metaphysics Serres advocates revolves around a principle of invariance, it operates with “white concepts” (concepts considered as spectra rather than form), it draws upon an anonymous, impersonal agency at work in “knowing”, and it addresses the world by a six-fold proper name: Pantope (all of its places), Panchrone (all of its durations), Panurge (not demiurge, the public worker, but the universal worker), Panglosse (all of the spoken tongues), Pangnose (all of knowledge), Panthrope (all sexes, instead of only man as in ‘anthropos’). This talk provides a tentative introduction to Serres’ architectonics, and it suggests addressing his materialism of the incandescent void as a materialism of identity that articulates itself in the language of a mathematical realism: mathematics does not provide support or foundations, it provides a lexicon, according to Serres. I will attempt to speculatively develop this thinking further towards what it might mean to become literate in a kind of writing that is, irreducibly so, a “quantum writing”.

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