It is okay to be confused (It may even be better than knowing).まごまごとしどろもどろな事がいいです。(知識を比べて多分もっと良いか)

Brilliant words flowing … From those never knowing, how many lives they touch….

(2001) Connie Marcum Wong



I would like to thank Tsunoda Japanese School and its students for helping me release and promote my ebook. The video we made to advertise the book demonstrates the uniqueness of the poetry me and my teacher strove to share with the world; and again I am extremely grateful to all the Taiwanese Japanese language students that came forward to help me with the release of this book.  Living and working in Asia for some years now I have come to be accustomed to situations where I do not know what is going on… This is not a problem  if an individual harbors honest intentions to learn then every moment remains a gift in itself. The dominant East Asian languages contain fantastic poetic structures but I have to admit other than Matsu O’ Basho and Dogen my understanding of the poetic of works is very little. However, I have in my studies delved deeper into the many interesting and smaller component parts of the language. Take for example the Japanese word  Zappai  meaning playful literature is a descriptive term that could apply to all the writing I attempt. The second example is the famous example of a kind of unique literature to Japan. The work Again in the Hōjōki’  by Kamo no Chōmei is an example of Zuihitsu (Texts that respond to the authors’ surroundings). I’ve yet to read this bit of Japanese literature I look forward to doing so because a work such as this contains an example of how deeply contradictory language is. For me when confronted with the Hōjōki (a ten foot square hut) I’m reminded of a certain confusion regarding language: it appears to us as being limitless infinite in potential but for humans the beings who are known for their dependency on language it is certainly finite and limited. 

Everyone and everything is in a ten foot square hut … 

Nobody and nothing is in a ten foot square hut …’ 

私のエ本を出す事が手伝うのでつのだ日本語学と学生達を有難いです。ビデオは私と森田先生の詩を世界でシェアしたいですので、台湾人の日本語学生ために私は本当にまた「ありがとうございます」と言うなければなりません。アジアでみつの年に住んだに私は知らないの経験を慣(な)れました。もし、すべての経験から個人は真面目な意思と習う事が出来るので問題じゃないです。東亜諸国の言葉は素敵で私的な形があるけど、松尾 芭蕉(まつお ばしょう)と永平道元無し私の知識を狭いです。しかし、私の学ぶ事で言葉の面白くて小さい部分に探りました。例えば日本語の単語で、私の書くので、雑俳(さっぱい)の意味はプレーフルな文学が記述的な用語です。二回目の例えは有名な文学が日本でユニークな物です。「’方丈記’」鴨 長明さんの本は随筆です。私はこの本を読めましたけどこの本が言葉の深い矛盾(むじゅん)を有ります。私の意見は方丈記で言葉のある種の当枠を連想(れんそう)します。言葉は無限と秒秒(びょうびょう)をみたいですけど、人間のために言葉が有限と限り(かぎ)ある。



Language is certainly a contender for one of the strangest things known to humankind. The possibility of a language-less world is impossible; for nature has had its communication long before homosapiens started making complex patterns in sound. The genesis of language can be considered to arise or start from a need to make sense of pictures, of images, and the meaning they enable. Writing on this blog I have already posted about the inspiration of Derrida and Wittgenstein on how language constructs many competing perspectives. The most interesting of these is inherited from an important moment in the history of thinking. The moment which I speak of is the realisation and perhaps the rediscovery of a long held understanding: that if we seek to contemplate existence, what it means to be, we inevitably arrive at the notion that our mental or subjective experience of our own existence distorts and indeed governs the way we are. This is also a Buddhist notion that behind the appearance of things there resides a deeper truth to being. This can be rephrased as suggesting that having a perspective is not at all helpful in understanding the truer Truth. The European articulation of this is to be located in a line from Germany to France a life long conversation between the ideas of Martin Heidegger and Jacques Derrida. This version of our linguistic interest runs as follows: Humans in as far as they exist can only talk of this being. The being of beings, not of Being itself. Now, the scientists amongst you hawk and state this as rubbish and you are entitled to such an opinion; but do not stop reading just yet.



Science and its method always seeks to arrive at objectivity: a position of knowledge considered to be real. It frequently does produce useful information within a given context so the benefits of having this thing called science and the use of language it enables (highly rational, explainable, and believable) are there to experience yet it is also extremely relativistic. What am I trying to say here? Well let me simplify: a perspective that I am keen on nurturing is the one that questions the outcomes or result of language usage or behaviour that produces more knowledge. What happens if it is possible to know everything? What happens to that which is authentically new and relative if we believe it is already known or even knowable. Our perspective becomes impoverished we loose the initial premise knowledge itself is generated from the original position or proposition of not knowing. The fact that objective knowledge so often looses its way and becomes yet another commodity on a market I find unhelpful to living organisms. This process generates bad belief in a possessive type of knowing. In my ebook I’ve made a small attempt to point towards something else: An Uu (Understated-understanding) such an alliterated concept I would encourage to be defined as the potential to resist the pitfalls of objective knowledge and the havoc it wreaks on limiting the life experiences of so many members of the species…

科学と方法はいつも客観(きゃっかん)をくれたい「実な知識」です。科学はコンテクストでよくに便利な報知(ほうち)を作るから、それが可能にする言語の使用(非常に合理的で、説明可能で、信じられる)は体験することができますが、それはまた非常に相対論的です。ここで何を言おうとしていますか? 簡単に説明します。私が育成に熱心に取り組んでいる視点は、言語の使用や行動の結果や結果に疑問を投げかけ、より多くの知識を生み出します。すべてを知ることができるとどうなりますか? それがすでに知られているか、または知っているとさえ信じるならば、本当の新しい相対的なものに何が起こるか。 私たちの視点は貧弱になり、最初の前提知識自体が失われます。知識自体は、元の位置または知らないという命題から生成されます。客観的な知識がしばしばその道を失い、市場でさらにもう1つの商品になるという事実は、私は生物にとって役に立たないと感じています。 このプロセスは、所有のタイプの知識に対する悪い信念を生み出します。 私の電子ブックでは、他のことを指すように小さな試みをしました。Uu(Understated-Understanding)のようなうわべだけの概念は、客観的な知識の落とし穴とそれが制限にもたらす大混乱に抵抗する可能性として定義されることをお勧めします 種の非常に多くのメンバーの人生経験…

This Uu concept I hope can encourage lesser explored perspectives such as how cultures of writing can erase knowledge in a useful way. Or, how things such as the internet or the archival habit of humans (a desire for history and useful fiction and myth) point towards the possibility of collective appreciation of what already is… rather than the propensity to overvalue knowledge and attributing our own meaning over already deeply meaningful things. The fact that you had a past, you are in a present, and will be in a future makes me aware that creative use of language and the act of poetic expression can assist us in finding new moments for appreciation. 

このUuのコンセプトは、執筆の文化がどのようにして有用な方法で知識を消去できるかなど、あまり探求されていない視点を奨励できることを願っています。 または、インターネットや人間のアーカイブの習慣(歴史と有用なフィクションと神話への欲求)などが、すでにあるものを集合的に評価する可能性をどのように指し示しているのか…知識を過大評価して自分の意味を すでに意味のあること。 あなたが過去を持っていて、あなたが現在にいて、将来にいるという事実は、言語の創造的な使用と詩的な表現の行為が感謝の新しい瞬間を見つけるのを助けることができることを私に認識させます。

All I wish is for people who encounter this collection to leave after rethinking the value of having a confusion or being confused. Certainty can occasionally be overrated in some circumstances. 

私が望むのは、このコレクションに遭遇した人々が、混乱や混乱の価値を再考した後に去ることです。 状況によっては、確実性が過大評価されることがあります。

Please buy my ebook here <…>, or there <…>, or over there <..>.

このイービーを買えるのでここに<…>、そこに<…>, あそこに<..>.

Thank you,  Paul Harrison, Taoyuan, Taiwan 


Inorganic Animations

Inorganic Animations:

A Review of Spyros Papapetros’ ‘On the Animation of the Inorganic: Art, Architecture, and the Extension of Life’(University of Chicago Press: Chicago & London, 2012).




Paul Harrison (2019).


To what extent do humans have agency in the worlds they inhabit? What can we consider as animation? How far does life extend? These three questions are but an initial triangle shaped sample of the many questions nestled within the pages of Papapetros’ book. A book that encompasses a vast range of important aesthetic and historical interventions and explorations. Drawing on the work of some influential European art historians such as Aby Warburg, Wilhelm Worringer, Otto lehman, and Ernst Haeckel this book is one of a handful of critical studies of the fluid movements that have been considered as possible explanations for the movement that resides in matter we long considered to be dead. Such is that ingrained assumption inherited from ancient cultures that things that are visibly in motion are alive and that which is opposite isn’t. How then does this text undermine and usurp this assumption?

By taking these mostly conservative German sources and drawing a line from Warburg’s dissertation ‘Sandro Botticellis “Geburt der Venus” und ‘Frühling,’(1893) with its aims of exploring the animated status of the fabrics and clothing decorating the bodies of art on to Worringer’s Abstraction and Empathy (1919) putting forth how this historian saw an inorganic framework of the swirling motifs of the animal ornamentation of the Nordic and Celtic forms. Lehman, who was a crystallographer, coined the term ‘flüssige or fliessende Kristalle’ (liquid or flowing crystals) measuring the changes in expansion under heat and cold temperature. Finally, Haeckel also adds to this liquid crystalline section of the book, but he demands we consider the homophagy involved in the creation and merging of crystals: clearly pointing to, ‘how immobility can become pregnant with a new form of life’. This nod to cannibalism makes me think of how languages swallow other languages; and how some languages manage to resist such a process. German is encountered on every other page of the book because of its unique place in aesthetic thinking.

It is certainly true that next to this gratitude we should have for the book’s capacity to teach and remind the reader of the beauty of the German language; there is another unarguably special quality this book contains. Everyone understands that books are better when they have pictures in them and in this case you shall not be left disappointed. One example of such a visual delight comes from a cartoon in a political magazine called Simplicissimus (1919) the image is of an aggressive German expression of cubes attacking man; the German reads, ‘Die Kurve, die Grundform des Kapitalismus, ist überwunden. Die neue Beist bricht an. Dröhnend marschiert der kubus durch das Universum’ (“The curve, the primary form of capitalism, is overcome. The new day dawns. Threateningly, the cubes march through the universe.”). Other examples of visual events that are striking include a slide of a book, James Furgusson’s Tree and Serpent Worship (1868); on Asian culture and belief that supports a reverence for snakes and their mechanical cold blooded motion.


Next to this Ouroboros reminder we find a delightful reference to a French love of liquor found in the very first advertisements for the tire manufacture Michelin. One poster is titled with the Latin Nunc est Bibendum (“Now let us drink!”) we learn these posters carry a force from the painter Fernand Léger that moved from the ancient pneuma (soul/spirit) and towards a French pneumatique invested in the production of rubber tires; objects that remain just like the beings who invented them something capable of inhaling and exhaling air. Prior to this automotive turn there is the matter of how artists and philosophers such as Picasso and Emile Durkheim wrestled with that powerful form of nature the forest. But, as we soon find out this place of wonder is also a place of horror and so reflects the book’s line of inquiry as it shivers down its spine. Penultimately culminating in perhaps the most iconic transformation or animation in the history of Western art; the flight of Daphne from Apollo. The psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan thought of Daphne as an example of an architectural limit, a plane of identification that is beyond our reach, and so completes this texts invitation to reflect on the inorganic and its maddeningly marvellous movements.    

Such illustrations allow a route into the aim of this book. By highlighting the human’s struggle against reality Papapetros also simultaneously highlights how the struggle itself lends form to an inhuman energy: an animation. One that is in need of special attention and although this book is nearly eight years old it has lost non of its power to enrich the minds of its readers.




Paul Harrison is a graduate of Sheffield Hallam University and KU Lueven University studying Art and Philosophy respectively. His work has always centred around understanding animation but is increasingly becoming interested in language. In the future there are plans to combine these things.


Interactivity and Animation

Interactivity and Animation: Recent Developments in Motion Design


Designing motion is a really interesting thing humans are both capable and incapable of doing it. Moving away from the idea that motion is the sign of life; from the unmoved mover (Aristotle’s god) to our daily experience of consuming oxygen and producing carbon dioxide we are capable of manipulating our directions and the forms which inform our motion. This is the purpose of this post to provide a brief insight into artists that are providing an opportunity to study and look at the space occupied by interactivity and animation. So, we may appreciate their presence and prescience. Studying and learning from their great examples together. […]

# Matthew Williamson

I went to art school with this mad South African animator. When we were studying at Sheffield Hallam University Mathew was interested in sound and experimented extensively with this medium; his degree show exhibition was a soundscape of considerable depth. I am not sure about other influences, but I am sure he may agree with me when I say that it was not only the awesome presence of Chris Cunningham, Warp records, and Aphex Twin that influenced Williamson’s progression. His extensive use of computers to create striking imagery surely must reference the machines which invite talented individuals like Mathew to express themselves to the best of their creative abilities. There was a particular moment that I realised Mathew’s work had taken a leap up to the next level when he made an animation installation for Sheffield’s festival of mind. This Installation was projection mapped onto a curved surface and although I was not there to see this in person the image of it struck me as a moment where Matt realised the full extent of his digital potentials. Since then he has been busy living up to that potentiality recently completing work for the newest series of Doctor Who. Below, are screen shots of said Dr.Who work and other visuals stolen from his instagram you should follow him @mattwilliamsonav. You should also tune into his streaming channel and get zapped by the current.


# Universal Everything

Another resident from that urban urspring of English creativity called Sheffield. Universal Everything is the baby of a certain Matt Pyke. Completing his education in Portsmouth and London he is arguably director of the most prominent and innovative team of motion designers currently swimming around the multi-verse. For a good idea of this creative characters background and person read an interview with him here >>>. Of course you should have already visited their awesome website and gawped at the magic they have drawn into existence. Below, are a few of my favorite examples of this everything which would be universal. The name is evocative and shoves the problematic presence of animation right to the edge of your eye. I will ignore the interpretation or perspective of this studio’s name that is suggestive of an easy relation to capital, ‘if everything is universal, including ourselves, then we can do everything’ – nothing is out of bounds and of course in this case although they cultivate commercial relationships with the worlds biggest companies and therefore supportive of monetary ideology; as long as we are gifted such visual wonders then perhaps we may ignore the hidden flux of finance that powers such innovations. No, not ignore, just be grateful that this group of creators are creating with such ferocity. Also, it is very much a group and this collaborative part is important: Universal Everything could be a precedent for what creatives or human creativity should achieve in the expected third industrial revolution where social networks merge with new technological spaces to produce an entirely new economy.

I really love all their images but the moving images that feature and ask the question about the relation between the organic and machine are mesmerizing. Tribes makes me think of the Anthropocene and the vast size and difficulty of providing an image that is truly applicable to all humans and their behaviour. For the next few years I hope to study language and animation so the work OFFF, a series of hybrid typographic-architecture prototypes is well lodged in my memory and has an immediate association and affinity with the architectural practice of Eniatype.  

# Ryoji Ikeda

A Japanese sound artist who is completely subdued and is continuously seducing with his mathematically inspired work. Ikeda’s work is very Japanese and he has earned his reputation through a unique blending of number and minimal components of sound. Sine waves, bass, sub bass, pitch, blips, high hats, samples, white noise, sets, sub-sets, dots, dashes, equivalences, riddims, horns, digits, bits, and much more could be wielded by this great Asian alchemist. Sound is interesting because of its ontological diversity it exists but so ephemerally and this trace like structure makes us think of the quantum physics that suggests waves comprise the inner workings of physical matter. But, this idea from physics does not portray the whole story with the exact standards of science and therefore Ikeda’s work achieves something remarkable and transforms or should I say animates the physical innards of sound into images. Doing so in such a natural way that his installations often seem to be revealing the workings of the contemporary technology driving the processes that have exploded and will explode even more in the coming decades. I am suggesting that Ikeda-san has really dug deep into sounds unique matter and discovered its affinity with math. I like his work because it has that Japanese aesthetic that we all love and it makes me think of the dynamism and dualism of theories that originate in the original attempts to ground/ discover the source of mathematics. I understand that in the history of this kind of thinking there are two Set theory, and Mereology. The first discusses and determines collections of objects and the extent to which number supports said collections, the second is the study of parts and wholes, and I think that Ikeda’s art invites much more inquiry into these matters. Please enjoy these samples of his work below.


# Team Lab

Are Team Lab Japan’s answer to Universal Everything? I do not think so they are a team of creatives equally matched to deliver moments of animated audacity. Only team lab seems much more concerned with reproducing nature as we experience it naturally and I think this is a running theme throughout their work – after all they are Japanese. Japans relationship with wave forms is well documented from the Hokusai’s ‘Giant Wave’ 神奈川 Kanagawa-oki nami ura and through Asia’s dominant traditional writing style. The calligraphic strokes of Black ink seem to effortlessly harness the force of liquid lines. What I find most interesting about Team Lab is and other creative entities like them is their commitment to shared processes of creativity. In their video works interactivity is blended with floor to ceiling projections to provide an immersive experience. Some of their installations follow the cultural practice of wrapping; the Japanese delight in the representation of things so a precious yet transient equality is maintained. With both the representation and its content bask in the shared ease at which they are transmitted to a perpetually increasing fan base. Here it is necessary to pay Team Lab a great compliment in their own language. Their art is a quintessential visual practice in which they provide memories as a Furoshiki風呂敷 (Thanking present) or as a continuation of Giri 義理 (Gift giving). So I compel you to enjoy these Japanese gift givers. The work below is from the groups exhibition in California, Continuous Life and Death – enjoy

# Evan Roth

An American artist widely acknowledged as an influential contributor to the new artistic domains of the 21st century. Roth can be easily seen as a front runner and already a great influence on artists seeking to use technology in there work. Roth is also a co-founder of the awesome Graffitti Research Lab, and the Free Art and Technology Lab both influential groups expanding into new spaces and potentialities of visual networked communication. The recent aesthetic of his work is very bloody I like the red of these works: Internet Landscapes (2016), a body of work that explores the artists experience of traveling Sweden searching for the physicality of the Internet. The press release from collect the WWWorld. Exhibition (2011) describes this newish realm of creativity,’to demonstrate how the Internet generation is implementing and developing a practice started in the Sixties by Conceptual Art, and further developed in subsequent decades in the forms of Appropriation Art and post-production: the practice of exploring, collecting, archiving, manipulating and reusing huge amounts of visual material produced by popular culture and advertising.’ really simplifies the climate of the last 8 years. Roth in many ways is a fine example of a creator who is well positioned to make good use of the new technologies such as quantum computing and developments in the internet as it grows and changes.

evan_roth_ljus_er-med  2-1

# Rose Butler

Rose Butler primarily works in moving image and video and is a very respected teacher and researcher (again in that beautiful place called Sheffield). A handful of her work makes use of interactivity where the observers of her work are considered as active components. The first example being Butler’s collaboration and commission  for FACT in the UK. This work was perhaps the first time this artist worked with the concept of surveillance; in this case pedestrians and members of the public were recorded going about their daily business and often shocked to see themselves on the big screen. An art installation that simultaneously explores the bigness of screens and how we are now watched and/or watching? Other works and exhibitions that include interaction are Stall, Barnsley (2005) featuring a reproduction of a market stall and then an interactive animation in which due to a loop in the recording participants can re-visit their initial visit to the market therefore offering a commentary and experience on the changing economic structure of markets. Again click on Rose’s Hashtagged name  to see more of her work.

Papers From My Peer’s

Philosophy @Leuven in Belgium; & a Necro-psychoanalyst

The following is a quick and too speedy review of the writings of some of the wonderful individuals I studied with in Leuven. Each person’s paper’s topic will be briefly explored; its ideas summarized and elaborated on so as to share and place this interestingly informed information into the streams of human energy traversing the internet. I hope they travel far…and feed the minds of others…

[I have linked to the original essays where possible otherwise if you wish to speak to the authors then the link goes to their Facebook profile’s]


#Ross Williams, (‘A Certain Kind of Sadness’)

A comparison of the thought of Arthur Schopenhaur and Eckhart Tolle. Starting by showing how a scholar called Warburton suggests this poodle lovers pessimism as not absolute only partial. According to Schopenhaur happiness in an unstable world is inconceivable when William’s quotes Schopenhaur’s Buddhist dependency this makes me smile.


‘“It must be pleasure to me to see my doctrine in such close agreement with a religion that most of men on earth hold as their own, for this numbers far more followers than any other”

(Schopenhauer 1844, 169).

Schopenhaur is interesting because his fondness for Buddhism is a fondness for the oldest kind of Buddhism; the belief system that arose from within the womb of the Indian Brahman. Then, Tolle is referenced referring to how, ‘the dream of a symbolic world allows our consciousness to interpret or interact with the world’(Tolle, 1997, 128). This sounds like Tolle is an exponent, a supporter of the idea that our reality is holographic; After this the paper describes dangerous desire, wish fulfillment being a delusion, and then similarities between the two thinkers. The evidence that Schopenhaur’s pessimism is not absolute is taken from the writer Fernandez who describes it as conditional. Which is where the paper leaves us: as a part of a whole. Choosing to forgo the ‘will to life’ in favour of liberation through our very material suffering.



#Marlieke Bender (‘The Object “is” the Other’)

This writing explores the performance ‘Rhythm 0’ by Marina Abromovich and what it has to tell us about freedom, human nature and abstraction, violence, and their relations to Emmanuel Levinas and Jean P. Satre. I had heard of Abromovich before from a brilliant documentary film made for her retrospective at MOMA, in NYC, and I had understood that this was a very famous performance but I had no idea what it precisely entailed. Reason no.1 to have enjoyed reading this.

The artist was invited by a gallery in Naples Italy to perform “Rhythm 0”. The gallery was Studio Morra in which visitors to the performance where invited to do whatever they want to the naked being of Abromovich; perhaps encouraged by the 72 suggestive objects on the table. One of these objects was a handgun with a bullet. We all like to think that we are calm collected cultured animals, but given a smidgen, a filament of freedom, and we get a little weird.  The last few hours of the performance regressed into violent chaos with one visitor encouraging the artist to use the bullet. Of course (we are not all monsters) a fight with the guilty individual broke out. But, when the performance was over we are told that the moment the artist resumed active agency again and walked towards her audience everyone fled the gallery.

Bender’s interpretation is an interesting one she traces and mines some of the potential philosophical implications of the performance. Referring to Satre’s idea that we are always both subject and object; involving a wholesome process of becoming an object. Exemplified in Satre’s reflections on a waiter in a cafe. Including the pressure of not being someone, but of being an object for others? What is made apparent is the power of a gaze of perception itself. Especially of that of the creator; is this evidence of the artist possessing a gaze apart from others?

Next up is Levinas who suggests that a moment of contact between two beings, between one and the other, is not necessarily a connection between human beings but culminates in an “other”. Marlieke’s choice of thinkers and citations is telling and reveals the greatness of Levinas, ‘speech becomes serious only when we pay attention to the other and take account of him and the strange world he inhabits. It is only by responding to him that I can become aware of the arbitrary views and attitudes where my uncriticised freedom always leads me, and become responsible.’(Levinas…?). Leaving is considering the very nature of responsibility. Who is responsible when those in charge frequently relinquish responsibility?

Abromovich, judging by her words in Marlieke’s essay, does so; saying that her purpose in performing is to create a stage for people’s fears. Maybe her admission is that if we all perform more actively, more intently, with more vitality we may free oneself from our fears? Eventually, our lack of personal completion results in a kind of “involuntary debt”; we are indebted to an otherness that is wholly other to us as active subjects and objects. I enjoy attempting to use art to explore philosophy and visa versa philosophy to explore art; and you can clearly see the possibility of philosophy arising and being authored by art.



#Mathew Devine (‘Suffering the Eternal Remorse and Melancholia Through the work of Vladimir Jankélévitch’)


A masters thesis, reading of Bergson’s Padawan the French philosopher Vladimir Jankélévitch’s work distinguishing remorse from regret and melancholia and mourning in his phenomenology of psychopathology after Freud. Devine characterises these interestingly as experiences. In many ways Devine’s writing is a commentary on the impossibility of nothingness and how this impossibility is embroiled in processes of regret, remorse, despair, melancholia, and mourning. Questions that lurk at the beginning the Devine’s exploration: when does remorse tell us about the eternal within us? Is remorse really timeless? Devine begins by describing Jankélévitch’s own stance, ‘Consciousness is the moment by which the self splits into two. The “I” (le soi) becoming an object of an “I” (le moi )’, a kind of gap, and a drop of Kantianism, ‘perfect happiness would only be possible if one knew nothing of one’s happiness’. We should all make an effort to contemplate these things.

Moving on Freud’s thinking is referenced when he describes the phenomena of ‘mourning’ and this is used by Devine to situate the reader before he articulates remorse and melancholia. Freud saw how work itself can come to replace the searing pain of loss and mourning. Writing in On Transience describes how the loved and lost object is allowed to rest when work is seen as being successful. Furthermore, the individual suffering from melancholia may suffer more because of its a-temporality. Freud’s characterisation of melancholia as a disturbance of self-esteem is absent in mourning. Devine draws our attention to the harshness of Freud’s ego split and how one part goes after the other, ‘we can not easily judge the degree of correspondence between the two versions of the self.

This is also why remorse can be said to be a feeling and guilt as a state. If I have read the paper correctly than this statement may also be so: for Jankélévitch repentance creates a distance between the wrong doer and the wrong. This in turn creates this necessity to suffer the eternal that we can locate within ourselves, that part of each and every one of us that is indeed eternal. Turning remorse into a virtue is dependent on how true the remorse may be thought of? There are many virtues in this study but one I find particularly interesting is a struggle to locate and anchor suffering as a phenomenon; what is the relation between impersonal or personal suffering. Devine resolves this with the help of a different French philosopher called Levinas and his stripping away the (human) world. Does his ilya (anonymous being) lead to an exposure to infinite eternal existence? Jankélévitch’s answer to this is the same as Achille’s speaking to Odysseus, ‘what good is eternity if it is not for living?’ a very good answer indeed, and it is here that Devine concludes successfully arguing that choosing an existence in finitude over an inexistence in eternity.

Vladimir Jankélévitch_ 


#Jens Van Steerteghem

Next up we have the Flemish physics fiend. Studying with Jens and his (“Jensing” a kind of Lensing; a way of seeing”) is awesome and very rewarding always on hand to discuss any and all topics. He is originally trained in Biology and is currently engaged in the critical creation of the European Union’s scientific policy making. His essay I found very rich “Escaping Technology a Dissidents Perspective” is an essay written on the infamous American Unabomber; and his manifesto “Industrial Society and its Future” (1996). Van Steerteghem begins with a good question; as every essay should do: Why did the serial bomber want to escape technology and is such an escape even possible?

Unabomber believed in a power process only satisfied by living as primitive man. Under technological society this process was disturbed according to this terrorist manifesto writer. Steerteghem rightfully questions this and initially makes a connection to thinking of Heidegger. But, a writer called Bijker is also cited and it is here the criticism begins in earnest,  ‘the socio-technological ensemble, where technical success consists in tying together different preexisting artifacts with different preexisting social elements in productive ways.’ (Steerteghem, Ku Leuven, 2018). I think this is a good statement to begin resisting Unabomber in the face of his accelerated technological telos.

To counter act the glum view of the Unabomber’s thesis Steerteghem points us towards network theory and the mathematical structures of advanced connectivity; saying that manipulation of the hubs can lead to control over technology. Then Bruno Latour’s ‘Actor Network Theory’ is discussed. Taking a holistic view of ANT and this culminates in clusters of ‘”Black Boxes” that represent the successful integration and acceptance of new technology and/or a scientific theory. The conclusion of this paper takes Unabomber’s own notion of a ‘power process’ and using it to show how it supports the opposite of anti-technological reality. Technology is in itself a power process and therefore can not be separated from other such processes hastily deemed as natural.

But, this Flemish author has forgot his Marxist potentiality and in the concluding remarks succumbs to a notion of society (“the clusterscape”) that is still an imprisoning one, and overlooks the global revolution’s potentially technological heart.



# Albin Van Latum

Albin is a Dutchman and a dynamic thinker. I enjoyed the conversations we all had; with Jens, Anne, Peyton, Marlieke, Marren, Ross, Alirazor, Amin, and others.

Albin wrote his paper on a very interesting subject the antagonism between myth and science. Beginning with the ancient propensity of creation myths having order being a process of moving away from a prior chaos. Latum will argue that rather than the modern understanding of myths as “a miss-representation of truth.”, myth under Latum’s pen will be shown to be the fundamental bridge between humans and an otherwise chaotic reality and how Science’s modernism is itself a myth. After remembering how chaos is first born in Hesiod’s Theogony; we are then introduced to a beautiful ancient myth about chaos originating from ancient China. In the Zhuangzi Chaos (Hundun)  ) is seen as ‘the creative spontaneity that ceases to exist once one meddles with it by attempting to impose order’. So, in this Chinese myth we see Van Latum’s initial thesis clearly: myths help humans order Chaos into meaning. But, not via means of control rather appreciation.

In the discussion on the relation or development from mythos to logos an interesting point is made, ‘whereas both Plato and Aristotle concerned of different levels of mimesis of reality this plurality went through a process of reductio ad unum (an argument that rests on the absurdity of the opposing argument) the result of which is modern realism.’ It is with the reductio that one feels a kinship with this Dutch brother’s writing and thinking; I feel that many people would agree that this modern realism has a major problem in that it occasionally appears as mythless; leaving us a task to really nurture an cultivate the opposite. Such a line of thinking was also followed and developed by Mark Fisher in his Capitalist Realism (2009). Latum also paints a more useful picture of the philosopher of science Karl Popper; in that his ‘falsification theory’ is seen on preserving a mythical science. Instead of the Popper who unsuccessfully attempted to refute the work of Marx and Freud.

This paper really finds its rhythm when numinous Nietzsche is referenced as Latum starts discussing contemporary Chaos … some much needed Socrates bashing ensues… Overall, the claims of science to rule over the entirety of nature are shown to be unhelpful myths. These claims came into being as the Christian paradigm, or scientific dominance over western thinking began to loose its huge influence. That is why we are still learning from Nietzsche, ‘Truths are illusions about which it has been forgotten that they are illusions, warn-out metaphors without sensory impact’, and we readers are forced to admire this papers conclusions, ‘Chosmos is chaos, of interpretation on the back of a selective process’. Eventually we are left with one certainty if we embrace the myth making capacity of chaos we can see our openness to the pure potential of artistic creation.



# Juste Keturakyte (The Critique of Buddhism and Christianity in Friedrich Nietzsche’s Philosophy)

In an ambitious dance with Nietzsche Keturakyte explores a supposed superiority of Buddhism over its Western counterpart Christianity. Nietzsche’s opinion is well expressed and articulated; as is his appreciation of Buddhism. Reading this text we encounter Buddhist Dukkha (suffering). Then its cause the craving after transient things Trishna; and also a path to the elimination of this suffering ashtanya manga. Nietzsche’s critique of metaphysics is characterised as being one of revenge. That Christian Moralities explained as the one life is littered and scarred by revenge. That the mere essence of metaphysics is the denial of and revenge over becoming and time as the expression of decadent and declining life. So, Nietzsche’s admiration for Buddhism is written to be centred around its capacity to be truthful to the meaninglessness of human existence however he does not like its self denying aspects seeing them as too passive.


I find that Keturakyte’s elegant exploration of the Buddhist influence on Nietzsche to be accurate and refreshingly honest, and very well positioned for  future development. Especially the idea of ‘Euro-Buddhism’ but to offer but a small critical note. I think Nietzsche’s criticism of this passive nihilism of Buddhism is not thoroughly separated from Schopenhaur’s Indian reading and so does not do Chan Buddhism full justice. Keturakyte’s points about the a-temporality of Nietzsche’s ‘Eternal Return’ as transcending both Buddhism and Christianity is not quite attainable. For the reason that in Chan Buddhism especially its passivity is to explicitly do away with distinctions that seek to differentiate. Resulting in an appreciation of how things are: endlessly coming to be and passing away, manifesting and re-manifesting, and all is just inter-being including eternity and its return.

Nietzsche and Buddhism



# Sam Bunn & Grussgott, an artificial intelligence from the future (Imagining an Institute for eUtopia)

Sam along with this A.I have constructed an impassioned defence of how artistic practice can and ought to be used to build the “good place” in contrast to the non-place we so usually are confronted with. Bunn’s Master’s thesis is very interesting and eclectic, yet ordered in its creative energy. I like the format of the study, and the interplay between A.I and human really creates with the material and topic matter very coherently. Beginning by pairing off Sacral art and Fine art Bunn or Grussgott and showing how exactleeeeeeeeeeeeeee this sacral can be seen as a “twisted tear drop”; half a way. There are seven chapters in Sam’s study and I will list them before drawing out some of the highlights that caught my attention when I first read. The contents include; ART or art?, Stories make Sense making Sense, Grasping Utopia, Eutopia as a Tool, Re-imaging Infastructure, eUtopia Explored and Attempted, and the conclusion.

I am not sure about Art confirming the American Dream this feels like it gives to this particular dream too much. But, the conversation discussing the persistence of filmic ideology (ideology is persistent as film? Or, ideology is a film?) moving through this notion that American cannot separate the idea of liberty from liberalism. From this constitution to Adam Smith’s marketised version; here the A.I reminds the human that America is not just full of capitalists, ‘Remember Jameson (influential Critical Theorist) is American.’

Reading through the next section on storytelling and sense, I am reminded of Walter Benjamin’s texts and how this study is a little bit like a new project from the Arcades? Discussing the potentially vegetative state of humans if they fail to grasp Bertold Brecht’s reality shaping hammer. But, Bunn or Grisbott pick up this hammer with a sub-hypothesis, ‘what if this main residue of watching a film is: lasting images?’ This branch is interesting its difficult to interpret but it could be that film’s deep realism is like a hammering of images; like the way a blacksmith would gradually craft a refined metal. It is also interesting that this involves an element of forgetting and remembering: forgetting to remember is absolutely what I do…

Then an utopia lists many influential authors and Ernst bloch keeps the concept of utopia firmly in the everyday rather than just a literary form. I love Darko Suvins/Surins’s idea of a ‘novum’ and I skip Thomas More’s well cited definition of utopia; a non-place. Then we continue to move through the good places of some films and their lasting images.

On page 59 Gussbotts and its human friend find agreement and I think I have stumbled upon the essence of this text and its true purpose; what it really engenders and supports. The A.I asks, ‘you are talking about popularizing socialist politics in mass consumable story form, aren’t you? The answer is yes; we now need to find our second yes to affirm as indeed the true aim of this paper, the formal desire of this intellectually creative event. I like how part of this discourse throughout this study is its cautious character; it permeates an awareness of the pitfalls of over-stating content and one’s thinking.

This and the idea of “socialist politics in a mass consumable story” is really evident in one of the many artistic projects Bunn completed as part of his time in Linz. The project Reise in die Zuhunft a journeying into the future with today’s children, and art’s radical potentialities are immediately enacted as social reality is seen as uniformly and universally creative in the artistic sense. Such play is then carried on into a ride of sorts; the brilliantly named ‘Far-see-er’; a series of interconnected rooms exhibited together as a ride designed to be ridden, of course, at the Architektur Forum in Linz. Overall, one, everyone should journey through and re-experience this journey that Sam Bunn and the A.I took because this study is refreshingly in its diversity, honesty, and creativity. The Agent Author’s humility is constantly present in this study; a good example is the response to the dilemma that the discussion on eUtopia might be unresolvable and we may be forced to accept the Utopia the negative option.

‘perhaps one should just learn to live with the dust that is stuck to the word utopia and not to confuse people with this ‘eu’. Generally they just think that I make some kind of obscure comment about the European Union.’

I wish this creator and fellow lover of art all the best for his future eUtopian film making.


# Julie Reshe (Beautiful Monsters: On Destructive Plasticity)          

Julie Reshe is the necropsychoanalyst par excellence and one half of the directorship of a new educational model for the future. Operating within a Post-Lacanian landscape Reshe is constantly expanding on the richness of Freud’s brilliant Venetian verisimilitude. I am not entirely convinced the notion that humans are “living dead” can overcome the negative imagery of the Zombie; yet one thing is more certain Freud’s Thanos remains important as ever for today’s epoch. Below are some thoughts on Reshe’s essay on ‘Destructive Plasticity’.

The essay is written as a critical response to the great French philosopher Catherine Malabou; who years ago introduced me to the idea of epigenetics (how feelings encode meaning and trauma can be distributed across generations biologically via way of the genome). Homing in on the scientific neurobiological conception of synaptic plasticity Reshe wants us to reflect on the negative side; the formalism of synaptic connective via way of destruction; and in attempting to hastily attribute a “cure” to such a destructive plasticity, Reshe reminds us of Foucault’s insight: that, the concepts of illness and health are socially constructed.

Running, both with and against Malabou, Reshe reformulates the notion that the child, can be a little monster, and therefore after encompassing a kind of destructive plasticity or a Lyotardian ‘primordial susceptibility’ – the child that remains throughout life. Yet, this writing really on one level is very comforting considering the biographical and important personal references to real lived experiences. This is then complemented by the text’s desire to critically think through psychoanalysis. Freud’s idea and its Greek influence is referenced that, ‘Psychic traumatization is understood by the analogy of physical traumatization.’ A difference imposed by the foreign body entombed with the local body.

After rightfully questioning the ease at which a disorder may legitimate the presence of an illness. I find Reshe’s conclusion compelling and ripe for much more development. If we are all beautiful monsters then we are all still susceptible, still receptive to these powers that are both organic and inorganic; power that we still marginally understand. Yet if we join Reshe in refelecting on our beautiful little monstrosities then we may increase such a thing.


Three Essential Film Makers: Bo Choy, Sasha Litvintseva, and Stuart Croft

Created with GIMP

#Bo Choy

It can be a hard profession or even reality if you call yourself an artist. There is so much self directed pressure to succeed to show the value of what you create. In my case, such pressure to fulfill such an expectation gradually grew to unbearable and so like the following artist I also had to navigate a difficult period where due to my own inability to communicate ideas and also deal with both the tedious difficulties of bringing a project to fruition and then coping with the immediate sense of disappointment (often following completely irrational expectations). Such things still draw my considerations because there is a connection between feelings and economies. Such things may be initially freely associated with a concept such as alienation. But, this term and other related notions need a visualization and so Ms. Choy did just that. When Bo Choy makes new work these days it will be after leaving behind and resolving unhelpful feelings of being inauthentic as she explained in the recent Y.A.C interview (watch her film ‘Unfolding’)  I conducted with her a couple of months ago. This artist has shown recent work in a festival in Greece and when I met her for the first time she expressed a deep satisfaction with the country and a love of the Greek locals including the environment of the the 6th Thessaloniki Biennale.

Bo, has obviously overcome the feeling that initially was a little problematic for her, and one of the signs that she has indeed surpassed the difficulties is her film “Anat’s Party”. A beautifully crafted film that uses the very issue we have started discussing to lay open an inviting narrative. The film features the artist Anat who has organised a party in which the camera is representative of her perspective the narrator’s gaze. The party has guests including Richard: a gallerist, Francois: a painter, Franziska: ex professor now marine biologist, Eulya: who is Anat’s cousin, Cecil: a recent graduate and assistant to Anat, and Amelia: the creative director of an advertising house. The characters are ready and the stage is set; we the viewer are situated ready for a peek into creative people celebrating in a great gathering.

It is actually a birthday party; the celebration for Anat’s birth is kickstarted with white lilies then a sequence of sorts: Haitus + Patronage + Pay Off + Critical Acclaim… in Anat’s own questioning words, “Is my career riding me, or am I riding it?” An active disavowal (by active disavowal I simply mean the state or condition of knowing and not knowing something…) can be seen; such a process is very real and many artists go through such a process. Yet what is so fascinating about this work (there are many things totally fascinating about this piece of work) is that as a viewer you are completely aware that it is scripted, it is staged but this only adds to the power of the eulogy because as we progress through the party everything seems to be rather pleasant; a reunion of very good and close friends. Eventually though this is shattered  by a confession and admission by Anat. I wont relay it here, in writing, because it should be watched by many people. The way the film incorporates this narrative tactic shows a mastery of the manipulation of storytelling. The way the characters are so rich and allow for a deep questioning of what an artist actually is? How an artist has to navigate the “huge beast of capitalism”. The film really naturally invites those consuming it to join in its fictional speculations. Including expressing gratitude (immensity and wholeness) in the face of mortality + reflection, the measuring of success (inertia and the stretching of the imagination). At one point Nietzsche, a philosopher always chilling in his own relevance is quoted by Anat. But these words are from his thoughts on good and evil.

‘Actually, why do we even assume that “true” and “false” are intrinsically opposed? Isn’t it enough to assume that there are levels of appearance and, as it were, lighter and darker shades and tones of appearance – different valuers to use the language of painters? Why shouldn’t the world that is relevant to us – be a fiction? And if someone asks: “But doesn’t fiction belong with an author? “ – couldn’t we shoot back: “Why? Doesn’t this ‘belonging’ belong, perhaps, to fiction as well? Aren’t we allowed to be a bit ironic with the subject, as we are with the predicate and object? Shouldn’t philosophers rise above the belief in Grammar? “(1)

‘Quidquid luce fuit, tenebris agit (What happened in the light goes on in the dark.): but vice versa too. What we experience in dreams, as long as we experience it often enough, ends up belonging to the total economy of our soul just as much as anything we have “really” experienced. Such experiences make us richer or poorer, we have one need more or less, and finally, in the bright light of day and even in the clearest moments when minds are wide awake, we are coddled a little by the habits of our dreams.’ (2)

Nietzsche’s words support all artists and support art as a realm in which processes of all kinds can exist without a naff sense of morality but with an ethos that is self sustaining; even without the living breathing members of reality being aware of this special distinction. Things that are both real and unreal can contribute to the soul. Moreover Nietzsche’s suspicion of philosophical grammar moves us towards special spectrum[s] of reality. They are observable in Choy’s film as it makes us think about many customs and arts and how we experience them between Versuch (attempt or experiment) and Versuchung (temptation). Is this between-ness a desire for a feeling to last forever? After, the turn of feeling within this party what other thoughts could this work of art incubate? There are so many but a strange thought that entered my head is how art can immediately challenge the idea that the body is always a site a location for consumption or communication. Lastly, how language may be a dead material that generates a necessity to invest more life into it, and the most interesting thought this film forced upon me was, ‘how the very concept of communication as a spectrum between inner and outer is deeply related to the movements of our breath? A wholly natural economy full of drama, full of mechanical and organic periods of acceleration and deceleration.

It is a pleasant perspective to see from; that in the near future art will potentially  help us build a new economy, or rebuild one which we have perhaps forgotten in these times of heady reputations, instant identifications, and many a selfish self. Such an economy will be or should be all inclusive and in this sense it is strictly in tandem and identical to art. I was for a long time immature and arrogant, I over valued the scope of my talent and so I abused it and let it be abused. Bo Choy’s capacity to create has gifted us moments in moving image that indirectly exhibits something very important for those of us who strongly embody creativity. We struggle to build relations (Not only between humans), we are fundamentally bound by this struggle to relate. Or, instead this film involves how the figure of the artist resides outside the understanding of others even those who are the closest to us. This is indeed a deep burden for those attempting to bring difference itself into existence. Such a process may be something extremely existential and that is what one is getting at with the idea that art may have something to help alter the stagnant and turgid realm of the financial and knowledge based economy. Furthermore the fictional relations of this film softly suggests the vast unknowable scope of what can be contained in a special three letter word called art. If one thinks about these topics and if we follow language freely a person may arrive at a thought such as this: everyday is someone’s birthday, and a person’s birthday is not always a day of celebration. But, in some sense it is because everyday is a day of birth, both for the day and for people?

Before you watch this small but great artist’s film, perhaps a paragraph I found in Spyros Papapetros’s discussion on the animation of the inanimate. In a section of the book under the subheading, ‘Two External Worlds’ will serve as a nice step into the drama of Choy’s film. Will these words be most suitable in promoting this work as an example of what can be achieved by the honest artist whose labour is the most valuable of all? A Sentiment that I think is shared in this paragraph. Below this collection of words, ‘Anat’s Party’ can and must be watched.

‘Far, then, from being disengaged from context, Worringer’s “ethnopsychological” abstraction is largely determined by it. Following contemporary biological and aesthetic theories, Worringer claims that the main factor distinguishing the different types of art-producing-humanity is the “shifting juxtaposition [Auseinandersetzung] between man and the external world.” The polarity between abstraction and empathy is in fact the product of two different external worlds, both of which appear to be equallytreacherous. The first is “the world of phenomenal appearances [Erscheinungswelt]” - the world of the “Pure Greek” who lives in emphatic plenitude with his comfortable surroundings and its “evershifting play” of perceptions. The second is the hostile world of the Northerner, who maintains a contested relationship with the in “inharmonious nature” he lives in, but never comfortably inhabits. This second external world has a Haunting permanence in contrast with the transience of the first. Both worlds have a problematic relation to the visible.”(3)

#Sasha Litvintseva

Born in Russia, I met Sasha in London after I had selected her film …. for a touring screening The Lumiere Screening curated with my good friends Catriona J. Mackie, and Leon Read. Sasha is a very interesting film maker she is currently completing her phd at Goldsmiths proposing the concept of ‘Geological film making’ and I find this interesting in terms of the vast scale of film making it reminds me of the writings of one of the great contributors to political aesthetics. In professor Esther Leslie’s book Synthetic Worlds we see a history of how electronic chemical and technological developments culminate, a long a side the progression of the cinema, as a commercial site of escapism. Here Leslie builds upon the great Frankfurt school’s critical investigation of supposed rational progress. Leslie in a wonderful waltz through the essential German Gang of: Kant, Hegel, Marx, Benjamin, Goethe, Adorno, and many others; retraces the very fabric of synthesis both in our thought and in material, historical, and cultural events. I feel like this book at least helps me to understand the Geological in a much wider sense than what the word entails…such an understanding is also surely what Sasha is also wrestling with and because she is Russian via way of birth I can not help but offer up an historical dismissal of my homeland. The country is described in this way, ‘England is just as unkind and inimical to Art as the Arctic zone is to life. This is the Siberia of the mind.’(4) Of course I do not agree, this is quoted only as a passing note establishing a relation between the countries, but I also feel that it is very fitting when we think about geological film making. Leslie references this dismissal in relation to a group of artists based in the North of England. These artists, the Vorticists published a journal called ‘Blast’ designed to resist in healthy competition to whatever the south could muster. The title was chosen to embody a hygienic gale but on the cover this took the form of a ‘storm cone’ a signal used by coast guards. Here I am not sure that the Vorticists choice of title is fitting surely ‘Blast’ better commentates on the heat of a furnace or the production of new metals? Yet, this reference to the coast is interesting: it forces the figure of nature in all it’s powerful liquidity and madness into our considerations of the geological. Then, Theodore Adorno makes a small relation between society and landscape.

‘Adorno perceived in the American landscape of lightness, brightness and substitution a kind of madness. Adorno’s description of a bookcase in a villa he visited in Maine in 1959 conveyed his terrors in the phoney society. The great titles of literature faced him and he reached out to take one. The whole display collapsed. It was all fake. The world as a simulation of itself is a crazy thought, but a true one too. In Adorno’s story there is something else at play. It concerns the death of learning, the death of culture and the victory of the ‘culture industry’. But the phoniness is present everywhere. Adorno mentions wily restaurants that sell bottles of ‘counterfeit’ red wine coated by a layer of synthetic dust. Time itself is synthesized.’(5)

If I were Sasha a part of my thesis would have to wrestle with competing and chaotic ideas. Ideas such as those found in the texts of the scientist James Lovelock, Philosopher Nick Land, and Edward W. Soja. Lovelock is the author of the Gia Hypothesis the notion that the earth with humanity included constitutes a self regulating system akin to that of other living organisms. In Soja’s book ‘Postmodern Geographies’ (1989) the notion of space is explored in critical social theory. The relevancy of this for Litvintseva is that the text explores the spatio-temporality of being (something which film is explicitly also engaged in), and Soja does this by commentating on how philosopher Jean P. Satre’s movement towards Marxism contains a praxis that Martin Heidegger’s insistence on “place” concealed within history does not. Satre, is described by Soja, ‘he links to a movement whose fundamental direction is determined by ‘scarcity’ and which provokes the formation of groups to struggle collectively for such scarce necessities, such ‘worked matter’. Satre describes this horizontal vertical movement as a spiral’.(6) This description then reminds us of the Vorticists ‘storm cone’ and makes us question this spiral and cone. In one of Litvintseva’s recent film works ‘Salarium’ the artist explores the appearance of sinkholes on a boarder between Isreal and Palastine. In combination with her text ‘Sinkholes In Signification’ we are presented with a real opportunity to grasp the artist’s recent research. The essay ends, after referencing the Zionist Archives and their technique of punching holes into images, and uses this to draw a link between a lack of an archive and the puncturing or suturing of a historical narrative.



So, we have these routes through history these holes in the ground and these empty spaces that swallow human things; this sinking may be read in line with Gia Theory and this is the total organism decaying it’s skin being breached by the entropic activity of the energy traversing and underlining its very existence (Adorno and Horkheimer also have a form of Gia in The Dialectic of Enlightenment). Next to this is an interesting development in terms of thinking about geological thinking, and this musing about the earth comes in a description of Trauma from the contemporary philosopher Nick Land. In a series of texts the notion of ‘Geotraumatics’ is made; a notion that when the earth was born 4.5 billion years ago the psychological echo of the earths violent birth when it’s molten core was formed as it’s volcanic activity burnt its own terrestrial skin. Land see’s this as an unconscious pain that reverberates throughout current matter both living and non-living (Cthell).(7) However rupturing and interesting in terms of being empathetic towards the earth Land’s Arche (first principle) may not be that useful to Sasha’s research but it does offer another Geographic perspective. It is the other project which one prefers and finds most dramatic. Universal Syntax attempts to unravel how we experience the world as a text. For this project Land also has something to say about language and its way out of a body (not necessarily human), in ‘KataςoniX’.(8)

Speaking in terms of the interests of such a Syntax I feel like Leslie’s mining of modernism in the spirit of so many great European thinkers offers more to a filmic perspective on language. In particular Leslie cites a universal language. Literally, a pamphlet under an identical title, Viking Eggeling and Hans Richter sent this Universal Language to the director Einstein. The language focused on a system utilizing analogies and polarities derived from an abstraction of nature. Resulting in geometrical forms that express the German Schopenhaur’s sentiment of looking at the world from the perspective of a blessed star.(9) A perspective that Schopenhaur’s countryman the poet Geothe may have appreciated as both men had developed advanced theories of colour and what can be seen within the eye that spies is of utmost importance (against the Newtonian and Leibniz inspired picture of a mechanical existence). Sasha’s work of course makes one consider other concepts such as the Anthropocene, terra-forming, and the like, but is it not true that it will be your eye another spherical object that constitutes the ground which you walk on? Perhaps, these great projects will succeed in generating a correlation between spaces, places, and faces but it is comforting that Sasha Litvintseva is pushing film and moving image closer and closer or further and further into this world.

‘The holes punctured in the representation are slowly migrating to the object of reference: the landscape itself. That is, ‘killed Images’ become ‘killed landscapes’, with holes and lacks puncturing their surface. The sinkhole is that lack: not merely a lack of matter or soil, but an archival lack that punches holes into the stability of the historical narrative. If history – as the Zionist Archives demonstrate – leans on a representational regime that aims to signify the landscape and the humans that dwell within, the sinkhole defies clear signification and threatens linear history with a discrepancy, an interruption, or a plot hole.’(10)

#Stuart Croft

Stuart sadly died in March 2015, and I was recently reminded of this… it made me very very sad for one important reason. I met Stuart Croft in 2011, he had selected my animation ‘Away From The Unknown’ for a touring screening of Artist Film and video supported by Outpost Gallery in Norwich. When you begin on doing something  anything, by yourself for the first time, it can be difficult. And, even if you had done such a thing many times before when seeking to take it to the next level you need encouragement. Meeting Croft and having work shown next to such great creators was such an encouragement in those early years. Stuart’s use of actual film set him apart from others and in this way perhaps the only other male film maker who operates within the same unbelievable realm of finesse is Ben Rivers. Stuart made a decision whilst still a student that could be said to have defined and determined his entire body of work; this is the deep interest in the relation between film as a material medium and the concept of cinema itself; including all the unique culture that comes with it. Then, a question, ‘how to take this and put it into a contemporary art gallery?’ His work easily answered this question.

Stuart Croft The Stag Without a Heart still 2 2010

A Stag Without a Heart

My personal favourites from Croft’s filmography are ‘A Stag Without a Heart’ (2011), and Drive In (2007). Both of these films show Croft’s genius at its very best. In the former the title represents a character next to a fox and a lion. The narrator’s voice draws us through the ensuing drama, trauma, and re-animation. The film reminds me to actually watch and re-watch such films as Der Himmel über Berlin (the Heaven Over Berlin), and Last Year in Marienbad (films that I once edited under the force of Gravity). Croft’s film features a narrative that grows the soundtrack feels as if it is sneaking up on you and the narrator. The dialogue of ‘A Stag Without a Heart’ fluctuates within a trinity of two predators and one prey. The phenomena of ‘fear’ is felt by the stag as the predators are perhaps expressing regret or remorse after they made their fellow animal shiver. These events of fearing and shivering of intuition and effect fit nicely within a larger and fundamentally more powerful effect the film carries. After watching it I felt that although all I saw on screen was human this human was now closer to the animals carried within his speech. Drive in features a car journey with a lady describing a story in which a paradise is lost. The film is beautiful both for the story and its believable utopia; one in which we are reminded by way of a mistaken object, “It’s not coconut juice it’s a Piña-fuckin-colada” that all paradises are paradises lost most forcibly put in the world of literature by Marcel Proust.(11)

Loosing one’s way in another person (in being with…), or as another person (becoming someone different)? There is a novel that is birthed within the passenger lady’s narration. The plot twists within this reading of human desires and human empires and “doing some [fucking] thinking in the middle of the ocean”. In terms of the male author he has a dreamy encounter with a dreamy female painter washed up on a dreamy beach. Dreaming he continues to be driven by his drives inwards and onward. Stuart’s fantastic films carry us into the psyched up philanthropic psychology we all share, sell, and partake in. Stuart Croft’s work makes me want to become a film maker, and his life serves as a timeless reminder that our achievements will remain long after we have left this world, and if you were Stuart Croft your achievements where many, so many. What more could be more inspiring, more encouraging, and more vital than a human being’s capacity to create?


words by a Paul Harrison.

(1)  Friedrich Nietzche, (2002). ‘Beyond Good & Evil: Prelude to the Philosophy of the Future’ (Cambridge University Press), 34.

(2)  Ibid, Nietzsche, 193.

(3)  Spyros Papapetros, ‘On the Animation of the Inorganic: Art, Architecture, and the Extension of Life’, (University of Chicago Press, 2012), 143.

(4)  Esther Leslie. (2005). Synthetic Worlds:Nature, Art, and The Chemical Industry, (Reaktion Books, Great Britian).123

(5)  Ibid, Leslie, 239.

(6)  Edward W. Soja, ‘Postmodern Geographies: The Reassertion of Space in Critical Social Theory’, (Verso, London/New York, 1989), 136.    

(7)  Nick Land, (2012). Fanged Noumena: Selected Writings 1987-2007 (Urbanomic/Sequence Press, London, Berlin)

(8)  Ibid, 481

(9)  Esther Leslie. (2002) Hollywood Flatlands: Animation, Critical theory and the Avant-Garde, (Verso, London/New York). 56

(10) Sasha Litventseva, Daniel Mann, ‘Sinkholes in Signification’, (SONIC ACTS Academy 2018) 66.

(11) Marcel Proust, (1992) ‘In Search of Lost Time: Swann’s Way’,(The Modern Library, New York). Sorry for the lack of pagination; I promise Proust does say this {}




A.I.D.S (Adding Infinite Dimensions)


(Adding Infinite Dimensions)


Paul Harrison 


“In the early days, we just wore black onstage. Very bold, my dear.

Then we introduced white, for variety, and it simply grew and grew.”

 Freddie Mercury



What can be gained from viewing philosophy as a disease? Such a proposal may or may not be greeted with a macabre curiosity or an uncomfortable dismissal by those who would wish to see thinking maintain a clean healthy body. One wishes to strongly suggest this to be wishful thinking at best these well wishers may achieve cleanliness with philosophy however they may be disappointed to discover that thinking itself is resistant to such honest labels. Healthy? Just look at the madness of its practitioners, even the calmer professors are in possession of mental issues so that society has deemed it necessary to house them in institutes and universities. Calling their manic obsessions “research”, and funding them so as to keep them away from members of the public who already have to deal with enough schisms in daily life. Imagine if on top of this some philosopher infected with thinking was given free reign to exist amongst the people although they probably would have good intentions seeking to uproot excepted thinking and undermine any nasty unhelpful doxa, it would probably end badly as the bewildered citizen might be left wondering what they did to deserve such a clinical clarification or quizzically questionable inquiry. (I am of course partially joking but how to locate healthy from unhealthy thinking is often harder than one would maybe assume?)

In this essay one desires to simultaneously express a perspective that Nietzsche expressed most clearly, ‘Plato is the name of a disease’… this may not be an authentic quote yet nevertheless let us continue. Wishing to invite the reader to consider an argument arrived at through a speculative consideration of the implications of this utterance. It has come to be my belief that a newer articulation of the origins of consciousness is more than possible, it is in fact essential for this time. A period of history that is really demanding an understanding of this topic. Just think about radical developments in our awareness of the complexities of our brain. The initial reason is precisely this very strange line of thinking: if philosophy is a disease it is to be considered as an unnatural practice, and if this be the case then it is possible to suggest that conciousness itself has a relation to this articulation. That, we can say if the highest points of human thinking carry a diseased existence then it follows that it could be that conciousness is a result of a similar process. So, in this text I will conclude whether or not such a deduction is strong enough to be offered up as a potential explanation for the origins of the phenomena known as conciousness.

Nietzsche and Plato are not the only thinkers that will feature in this discussion, but they will play a pivotal role because of their unique achievements and positions in the history of thinking. From the beginning they both will be referred to as Nietzschia and Platonitis, after dementia and meningitis. Two more philosophers Hegel and Gille Deleuze will be associated with Pneumonia and fear resulting in: Hegelonia and Deleuzaphobia. To begin with this creative act of naming will offer the reader a way of grasping this line of reasoning that runs against the established story of philosophy being an age old success story of man’s victory over secretive reality. This pairing of philosopher and disease or ailment will be designed to allow clear access to the idea which is at stake, that their success in the realm of ideas correlates to a physical infliction. From this one will reference a variety of sources to build an argument for consciousness being also a result of disease. Concluding on an affirmation or invalidation of the proposition: consciousness is a material result of an infection.

Before describing the diseased status of philosophy a brief detour is necessary to explain the title of this essay. The sexually transmitted disease known as aids or HIV is appropriated to form an acronym for mostly historical reasons. The historical element of the appropriation of the title’s virus is its early stigma and social reality. For instance I have a very positive memory of growing up listening to the British rock band Queen. Of course an essential part of this entity was the front man Freddie Mercury who died of the virus. Thankfully, in the modern world medicine and science is nullifying what used to be fatal for an Aids carrier, yet it was often the case that an individual who suffered from this virus found their consciousness heightened. The same thing is also true for those who have been through or had the experience of cancer this change in mental function is not just due to the relation to death it is moreover something that has much more to do with the individual living condition.

Nietzsche, who one has likened to dementia because he unfortunately existed for a considerable time in a similar state. His philosophy also carries with it this insistence on ‘tragedy’ as an all important aspect of his thinking. What could be more tragic then to slowly forget all one’s memories – at the time of writing there is no known cure for Alzheimers and it continues to effect so many. Nietzsche’s decline ended in a stroke and then death by pneumonia. It is also rumoured that he was infected by syphilis and if this were true than the connection between an infection and a change, even creation of a concious state is obviously more than a suggestive speculation. Next to this is the extent to which Neitzsche’s thinking was expansive and possessed the imagination of so many; now its seen as a doctoring of a disease.

The essay The Philosopher’s Diagnosis by Anna M. Daniszewski is very suggestive: Nietzsche himself saw the thinking of his time as in need of doctoring, ‘Nietzsche’s diagnosis functions differently from that which came before: he detects the illness not within philosophy itself, but in the philosophers understanding and pursuit of life without its object.’ From this Daniszewski elaborates on the psychological part of the diagnosis (philosopher’s are hypochondriacs), clearly explaining how Nietzsche saw Socrates’s as believing in the good outside of itself, and ‘it is not that Philosophy is in itself sick, but that its constant belief that it has to cure itself makes it sick’. Interestingly, Nietzsche saw this predicament as being self induced and used a metaphor of seasickness and the state of nausea to describe this. The important thing to grasp is that it is the “belief in a cure” that causes the sickness … but how does this show consciousness itself to possess similar qualities? Following Nietzsche’s logic this result is from states of fluctuation (the sea), followed by a higher state of awareness (nausea), yet this seems to be slightly contradictory.

‘Before a function is fully developed and mature, it constitutes a danger to the organism; it is a good thing for it to be properly tyrannized in the meantime! Thus, consciousness is properly tyrannized – and not least by one’s pride in it! One thinks it constitutes the kernel of man, what is abiding, eternal, ultimate,  most original in him! One takes consciousness to be a given determinate magnitude! One denies its growth and intermittences! Sees it as ‘the unity of the organism’! This ridiculous overestimation and misapprehension of consciousness has the very useful consequence that an all too-rapid development of consciousness was prevented.’

How can a state of motion sickness be a state of higher consciousness unless the initial use of the word “higher” is miss-leading; of course this adjective can synonymously mean greater than. Moreover, what one is explicitly attempting to argue is not ‘consciousness is a disease’, but what we all comfortably understand consciousness to be: i.e, a state of ‘being aware’, or having ‘an awareness of…’ is the result, or the product of an infection or primal diseased state. The quote from Nietzsche’s happy science shows clearly how he understood that this aspect of the miss-understanding of consciousness in its infinitely expansive qualities has been rejected, and therefore we are happy to dwell in the less abstract comforting idea.

Although, in the same text, Nietzsche adds evidence to overcome this. His writings show that consciousness moves from awareness and into a larger abstract bodily entity one that adds dimensions to itself: this is represented in his alteration of the German word for consciousness. From Bewuβtsein and into Bewuβtheit; a change which demonstrates the implication one is debating. Nietzsche, argued against the importance of this abstract quality and in doing so failed to see how it was a positive result from the artificial awareness generated by Socratic ‘will to truth’, and could in fact serve as a sufficient understanding of how consciousness relates primarily to error. This mistaken everyday awareness is hard to fathom, but nevertheless we should attempt to read those prior victims of the illness of thought, thinkers that Nietzsche saw symptomatically. In Beyond Good and Evil (1886) Nietzsche affectionately describes his famous countrymen: Schelling, Hölderlin, and Hegel, ‘the young theologians of the Tubingen seminary – ran off into the bushes – they were all looking for “faculties.” … when Romanticism, that malicious fairy, whispered, whistled, and sang’ at a time when the difference between discovery and invention was not known.

Even today, regarding the origins of consciousness Nietzsche’s less then complimentary description of the idealists could very well match our lack of confidence in what it is. With the absence of a discovery of what it actually is, and the use of a definition and the meaning ascribed to it would then be an invention?  Hegelonia, could then be the condition of this struggle to breath or an inflammatory impeachment of the lungs of philosophy, when regarding the same subject? Why? Let’s paraphrase Foucault and say that Hegel’s famous system is so all encompassing in its absolute valuation of history (we are lucky Marx rescued it from its perpetual headstand). Again we find what is now called analytic philosophy is a result of Hegelonia, it too relying on mathematics and formality to comment on the abstractness of our consciousness. Again, without the scientific discovery that provides the sole meaning to what consciousness is, we are called upon to invent.

One’s inventive interpretation, relies on this black origin of physical suffering, of discomfort, of painful intrusion into the animal body leading to the white recovery and expansion of a consciousness lucky to have such good health. But, it’s important to explain this consequential effect the infective material origin has on consciousness – that is it being abstract, and secondly its ability to expand, to grow, and to become greater. There are two more philosophers that have enacted this aforementioned movement. First we have to suffer Platonitis; meningitis and arthritis befit this great Greek because he is very old and very common. Besides, Plato certainly helps explain this abstract creation of an abstraction (consciousness). For assistance let us turn to a thinker Brian D. Prince who completed his Phd on Plato, Souls, and Motions (2011), commentating on movement in the Timaeus dialogue, ‘For example, the power for movement belonging to a particle of earth manifests one way if that particle is inside the cosmos and not in any other structured whole; but if the particle is also within a living body, its power for movement may manifest differently.’ It becomes aware?

In the Timaeus we see the same aspects: unnatural increase, and a lacking, or the more materially problematic, ‘a given bodily part accommodates a particular variety [of element] that is not appropriate for it. When these things happen they bring on conflicts and disease.’ This section of Plato’s text does not go far enough but it paints a sufficient picture of the movement that exists before the state of consciousness. Plato, in a section after the one on diseases; in one of the translations of the dialogue, titled Disproportion of Soul to Body describes the movement into abstraction from its bodily locality.


‘Of motions, again, the best is that motion that is produced in oneself by oneself, since it is most akin to the movement of thought and of the universe; motion produced by another is inferior; and worst of all is that whereby, while the body lie inert, its several parts are moved by foreign agents.’      


But, wait wait wait! This is a miss-reading you say, ‘Plato is talking about the movement of the soul’! More than likely this is true, however do you see the word mentioned here? The way one reads this is Plato’s fear “worst of all”, his admission that his anti-materialism contains a large degree of futility. The body, our body, is alterable by foreign agents, and was altered in an extremely aggressive way. A fact that we should not fear away from but as science marches on wards, potential falsities can be accepted if we are not careful with the many dimensions we add to thought.

The thinker that is perhaps responsible for a great deal of the many extra dimensions added to consciousness since Nietzsche is Gilles Deleuze who even though he has left this world still generates a great deal of Deleuzaphobia. The extend to which Gilles Deleuze generates a type of fear in certain individuals is that: a) they have not yet been fully initiated into the wonders of Deleuze’s thought, or b) they fear his rejection of the logic of the tree – thinking it to be an unjust threat in their belief in the correct and of falsity. You remember Deleuze starts this renouncing of the benefits of this type of logo-centric thought in favour of nomadic musing in a Thousand Plateaus (1980). His words show clearly a disenchantment that this Frenchman felt towards traditional manners of thinking.


‘‘We’re tired of trees. We should stop believing in trees, roots, and radicles. They’ve made us suffer too much. All of arborescent culture is founded on them, from biology to linguistics. Nothing is beautiful or loving or political aside from underground stems and aerial roots, adventitious growths and rhizomes.’


Deluezaphobia” is then a fear of either consciousness trapped in a forest of rules generated by the capacity to analyse reflection until it is governed by natural laws, or its a state of being scared of what may happen if thought was allowed to roam. The relation of this to consciousness is Delueze’s unique articulation of the feverish condition of thought – for him it is schizophrenic. As is well known Delueze collaborating with psychoanalyst Félix Guattari developed this notion in response to what they deemed to be problematic in Freudian pschoanalysis: mainly the Oedipus complex, and the authority of the analyst. Culminating in conflicted thoughts, but as Freud said, ‘can a currently given “conflict” be exhausted, can the one who is sick be forewarned against ulterior conflicts, can even new conflicts be awakened for a preventive purpose?’ Such a conflict could be what is called the Anthropocene a period of the earth’s history in which humanity taken as a whole is a geological force. One wishes to mention the radical way in which James Lovelock’s Gia theory pre-empted many possible discussions on this topic. Secondly, and more relevant to this commentary on consciousness is a recent lecture given by French thinker Catherine Malabou stated that the idea of the Anthropocene demands a change in our consciousness; it asserts that we have to lose consciousness. For the human to understand itself on the planetary scale one has to cure older methods of inquiry.

Having derived enough evidence from philosophy we can temporarily say goodbye to these deceased (highly conscious) specimens of history, focusing on what exactly is being suggested, and the argument that puts forward this idea of the material origins of human consciousness being: one of our initial ancestors, perhaps Homo habilis fell ill with an extremely strong virus not too different to influenza; only stronger than the modern version of the flu. At least one victim subjected to such suffering from an external source experienced a neurological change. One which produced the brain and its cognitive uniqueness, that we possess today. This is because as we have seen unnatural compression of information in a short period of time creates growth and this growth is possessive just like the initial infection’s compression; it took, is taking hold of something, and this is essential to sentience.

In response to this argument some individuals correctly raise the objection as to where is my evidence or ground for such an assertion? This process of being limited then vast expansion is empirically observable consider a few examples: the fallibility of our memory; when one forgets (limited) an individual usually makes the effort to rediscover (expand). Information partakes in these qualities when you take information and you compress it you limit it then expand or decrypt it in an act of communication. Even light can be said to carry this quality when split it carries a spectrum of colour. Furthermore, if we invite in some claims that the mind has computational capacities then does this material notion of an infective cause still apply? Well, yes, because firstly even if your computer is unfortunate enough to be infected and temporarily limited. Through a reset or even the acquisition of a new computer, expansion still takes place. Keeping with this computational example its possible to understand more accurately. The computer would be the material reality of the brain, its hardware the grey matter. The virus infects its thinking (data generated in the program’s process) and distorts and corrupts what it had encountered.

Here is the greatest evidence for philosophy, which from the very beginning held a distinct challenge towards the existence of illusions, and has always faced accusations of being a corrupting force. In the same way consciousness, in and by itself was originally an infection and long may it continue to be effective in this invasive or intrusive way. One last point to sign off on, the reader will remember that scene in the Matrix film (1999) where Morpheus has been captured and is under interrogation, Agent Smith utters something nasty, ‘humanity is the name of a disease a virus.’ This virtual humanoid machine is completely misguided it is not our existence that is diseased, but our mysterious mental capacities that came from such a thing may well be?


Francis M. Cornford. Plato’s Cosmology: The Timeaus of Plato translated with a running commentary, (Liberal Arts Press, New York, 1937).

Daniszewski, Anna Menaker, “The Philosopher’s Diagnosis: Sickness in Plato, Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, and Heidegger” (2014). Senior Projects Fall 2014. Paper 23.

Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil: Prelude to the Philosophy of the Future , (Cambridge Texts in The History of Philosophy, ed. Judith Norman and Rolf Peter-Hortsman, 2002)

Friedrich Nietzsche. The Gay Science, edited by Bernard Williams, (Cambridge University press 2001).

Gilles Delueze, A Thousand Plateaus, (The University of Minnesota Press, 1987).

Gilles Delueze, Félix Guattari, Anti-Oedipus, (University of Minnesota Press, 1983).

Hemelsoet D, Hemelsoet K, Devreese D. The neurological illness of Friedrich Nietzsche. Acta Neurol Belg. (2008) Mar;108(1):9-16. {} accessed: 01/02/2018

Catherine Malabou, The Brain of History or the Mentality of the Anthropocene, (Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Published on 27 Feb 2017, {}   

Plato, The Timaeus. (Macmillan & Co, London, 1888).
















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Latin prepositions used in the following definitions:

a or ab: ‘from’ ad: ‘to’ or ‘toward’ de: ‘from’ or ‘concerning’

ex: ‘from’ or ‘out of’ per: ‘through’ or ‘by’ in: ‘in’ or ‘on’

sub: ‘under’ post: ‘after’ pro: ‘for’ or ‘in exchange for’ propter: ‘because of’

A fortiori: preposition + the ablative neuter singular of the comparative adjective fortior/fortius (literally: ‘from the stronger thing’): arguing to a conclusion from an already established stronger statement (e.g. ‘All animals are mortal, a fortiori all human beings are mortal’).

A posteriori: preposition + the ablative neuter singular of the comparative adjective posterior/posteriorus (literally: ‘from the later thing’): things known a posteriori are known on the basis of experience (e.g. ‘We can know only a posteriori that all swans are white’).

A priori: preposition + the ablative neuter singular of the comparative adjective prior/prius (literally: ‘from the earlier thing’): what is known to be true a priori can be known independently of (or prior to) empirical investigation or confirmation (e.g. ‘Kant held that we can know a priori that a straight line is the shortest distance between two points.’)

Ad hoc: preposition + the accusative neuter singular of the pronoun hic/haec/hoc (literally: ‘to this thing’): a proposed solution lacking in independent justification (e.g. ‘Aristotle’s view that nous is the kind of knowledge we have of the first principles seems entirely ad hoc.’)

Amicus Plato sed magis amica veritas: Plato is a friend but truth is a greater friend’, based loosely on Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics 1096a.

Argumentum ad hominem: the nominative neuter noun argumentum/argumenti + plus preposition + the accusative masculine singular of the noun homo/hominis (literally: ‘argument toward the man’): an argument attacking the person rather than addressing the question.

Barbara: A name employed as part of a mnemonic system devised by medieval students to remember the valid forms of the syllogism (‘Barbara’, ‘Celarent’, ‘Darii’, etc.). Since one of these syllogism consisted of three universal-affirmative (or ‘a’) propositions it was associated with a woman’s name containing three a’s). Aristotle held that Barbara was the most appropriate argument form for presenting a scientific explanation.

Causa sine qua non: the nominative feminine singular of causa/causae + preposition + the ablative feminine singular of the pronoun qui/quae/quod + adverb (literally: ‘a cause without which not’): an indispensable cause.

Causa sui: the nominative feminine singular of causa/causae + the genitive singular of the pronoun sui, sibi, se, se: ‘self caused’ or ‘cause of itself’. Associated with the view proposed by Spinoza and others that the reason for God’s existence lies in its essence (thus sometimes associated with the Ontological Argument).

Ceteris paribus: the ablative neuter plural of the adjective ceter-a-um + plus the ablative neuter plural of the adjective par-paris, an ablative absolute (literally: ‘if other things are equal’ or ‘other things being equal’): a phrase commonly used to consider the effects of a cause in isolation by assuming that other relevant conditions are absent (e.g. ‘An increase in the price of oil will result, ceteris paribus, to people using their cars less often).

Cogito ergo sum: the first person singular present indicative active of cogito/cogitare + adverb + the first person singular present indicative of the verb to be: ‘I think therefore I am’. From Descartes, Principles of Philosophy (1644); the first proposition Descartes encountered in his exercise of methodic doubt he believed could be know clearly and distinctly to be true.

Conatus: the nominative masculine singular of the perfect passive participle of conor/conari, a deponent verb meaning ‘attempt’ or ‘endeavor’; derived from Greek hormê (‘force’ or ‘first start’), term used by the Stoics and later philosophers in speaking of the innate tendency of things to exist or enhance themselves.

Contra: adverb: ‘against’. To be distinguished from Pace (see below)

Credo quia absurdum est: the first person singular indicative active of credo/credere + conjunction + the nominative neuter singular of the adjective absurdus-a-um used as a noun + the third person present indicative of the verb to be: I believe because it is absurd’. Based loosely on a remark in Tertullian, De Carne Christi V, 4.

Credo ut intellegam: the first person singular indicative active of credo/credere + subordinating conjunction + the first person singular subjunctive present active of intellego/intellegere: ‘I believe in order that I may understand’, a view associated with St. Anselm of Canterbury, based on a saying of St. Augustine.

De dicto: preposition + the neuter ablative singular of dictum/dicti: ‘concerning what is said’.

De re: preposition + the feminine ablative singular of res/rei : ‘concerning the thing’.

The phrases de dicto and de re are often used to mark a kind of ambiguity found in intensional statements (statements concerning what a person knows, believes, wants, etc.—also known as attributions in an opaque context). When we say that ‘John believes that someone is out to get him’ we might mean either that John believes that someone (unspecified) means to do him some harm (the de dicto interpretation) or that there is some particular person John believes is out to do him some harm (the de re interpretation).

De facto: preposition + the neuter ablative singular of factum/facti (literally: ‘concerning what is done’): in accordance with the way things exist or events happen (‘John is the de facto head of the organization although he has not been authorized to take charge’).

De jure: preposition + the neuter ablative singular of ius/iuris (literally: ‘concerning the law’): in accordance with the law or some authorizing condition (‘John may be running the organization but he is not its leader de jure’).

Deus ex machina: the nominative masculine singular of deus/dei + preposition + the ablative feminine singular of machina/machinae (literally: ‘god from the machine’). From Horace, Ars Poetica, where it refers to a mechanical device used to transport the representation of a deity onto the stage; more generally it designates any attempt to resolve a problem by means of an unwarranted or un-natural contrivance.

Eo ipso: the ablative neuter singular of the pronoun is, ea, id + the ablative neuter singular of the pronoun ipse/ipsa/ipsum: ‘through or by the thing itself’ (as opposed to through some consequent factor or action). ‘The fact that one disagrees with a particular church doctrine does not eo ipso make one an unbeliever.’

Ergo: adverb: ‘therefore’.

Esse est percipi: the present infinitive of the verb to be + the third person singular present indicative of the verb to be + the present passive infinitive of percipio/percipere (literally: ‘to be is to be perceived’). For Bishop Berkeley, being perceived was a basic feature of all sensible objects.

Ex nihilo nihil fit: preposition + the ablative neuter singular of nihil plus the nominative neuter singular of nihil + third person indicative active of fio/fieri: ‘Nothing is produced or comes from nothing.’ One of those metaphysical principles supposedly evident to ‘the light of reason’; first stated in fragment B 8 of the ancient Greek thinker Parmenides of Elea.

Explanans/explanandum: the nominative neuter present active participle of explano/explanare and the nominative neuter singular future passive participle of explano/explanare: ‘the one explaining’ and ‘the thing needing to be explained’. In the plural: explanantia/explananda: ‘the things explaining’ and ‘the things needing to be explained’. (A clue: remember that the nd in explanandum marks the item needing to be explained.)

Ex vi terminorum: preposition + the ablative feminine singular of vis/vis (‘force’) + the masculine genitive plural of terminus/termini (‘end’, ‘limit’, ‘term’, ‘expression’): ‘out of the force or sense of the words’ or more loosely: ‘in virtue of the meaning of the words’. ‘We can be certain ex vi terminorum that any bachelors we encounter on our trip will be unmarried.’

Felix qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas: ‘Happy is he who is able to know the causes of things’. From Vergil, Georgics 2.490, said with reference to Lucretius.

Fiat justicia ruat caelum: ‘Let there be justice though the sky should fall’. (One of many versions.)

Floruit (fl.): the third person perfect indicative singular of floreo/florere: ‘he flourished’. Used to place a person in a historical period when the precise birth and death dates are not known (e.g. ‘Heraclitus of Ephesus, fl. 504-500’).

Hypotheses non fingo: the accusative plural of the Greek noun hupothesis + adverb + the first person singular present indicative of fingo/fingere: I do not feign (invent) hypotheses’. From the second edition of Newton’s Principia.

Ignoratio elenchi: the nominative feminine singular of ignoratio/ignorationis + the genitive masculine singular of elenchus/elenchi (literally: ‘ignorance of a refutation): mistakenly believing that an argument that has proved an irrelevant point has proved the point at issue.

In cauda venenum: preposition + the ablative feminine singular of cauda/caudae + the nominative singular neuter of venenum/veneni: ‘the sting is in the tail’. Originally used to describe the scorpion, the phrase is sometimes used in connection with a text or speech that begins in a friendly way but ends with a stinging rejoinder (cf. Winston Churchill’s remark: ‘You can always count on the Americans to do the right thing—after they have exhausted all the other alternatives’).

Ipse dixit: the nominative singular of intensive pronoun ipse/ipsa/ipsum + the third person singular indicative active of dico/dicere: ’He himself said it’, based on the Greek autos êpha, a phrase associated with the Pythagorean practice of crediting all discoveries to the founder of their community.

Ipso facto: the ablative neuter singular of the adjective ipse-a-um + the ablative singular neuter of factum/facti: ‘By the very fact’.

Ipsissima verba: the nominative neuter plural of the superlative adjective ipsissimus-a-um + the nominative neuter plural of verbum/verbi: ‘the very words’ or ‘the words themselves’.

Lex talionis: the nominative feminine singular of lex/legis + the genitive feminine singular of talio/talionis: ‘the law of retaliation’.

Locus classicus: the nominative masculine singular of locus/loci + the nominative masculine singular of the adjective classicus-a-um: the ‘classic place’ or original location (‘Iliad II 454-57 is the locus classicus of the view that gods know all things and mortals know nothing’).

Modus ponens: the nominative masculine singular of modus/modi + the nominative masculine singular of the present active participle ponens/ponentis: ‘by means of putting or placing’, from pono/ponere: ‘put, place, set out, assert’: the name of the valid argument form ‘If P then Q, P, therefore Q’. (Also known as modus ponendo ponens: ‘the way that asserts by asserting.)

Modus tollens: the nominative masculine singular of modus/modi + the nominative masculine singular of the present active participle tollens/tolentis, from tollo/tollere: ‘take away’: ‘by means of taking away’; name of the valid argument form ‘If P then Q, not-Q, therefore not-P’. Also known as modus tollendo tolens: ‘the way that denies by denying.’

Mundus intelligibilis: the nominative masculine singular of mundus/mundi + the nominative singular of the adjective intelligibilisintelligibile: ‘the intelligible world’, the world known to the intellect’. For Kant, this was the noumenal world or things in themselves.

Mundus sensibilis: the nominative masculine singular of mundus/mundi + the nominative singular masculine of the adjective sensibilis-e: ‘the sensible world’, ‘the world known through sense perception’.

Mutatis mutandis: the ablative neuter plural of the perfect passive participle of the verb muto/mutare + the ablative neuter plural of the future passive participle of the verb muto/mutare, an ablative absolute: ‘those things being changed which have to be changed’ or more loosely: ‘making the appropriate changes’.

Natura naturans: the nominative feminine singular of natura/naturae + the present active participle of the verb naturo/naturare (literally: ‘nature naturing’): ‘nature doing what nature does’, associated with the philosophy of Spinoza.

Non sequitur: adverb + the third person singular present of the deponent verb sequor/sequi: literally: ‘It does not follow’; used to characterize an inference as invalid.

Obiter dictum: adverb + the nominative neuter singular of dictum/dicti (literally ‘something said by the way’): an incidental or collateral statement.

Obscurum per obscurius: the nominative neuter singular of the adjective obscurus-a-um + preposition + the accusative neuter singular of the comparative adjective obscurior-ius: the error of attempting to explain the obscure by means of the even more obscure.

Pace: the ablative feminine singular of pax/pacis: literally ‘by means of the peace of’; more loosely: ‘with all due respect to’, used to express polite disagreement with one who holds a competing view.

Per se: preposition + the accusative neuter singular of the third person pronoun sui, sibi, se, se: ‘through or by itself’. ‘Aristotle held that the essence of a thing is what that thing is in virtue of itself or per se.’

Petitio principii: the nominative singular feminine of petitio/onis + the genitive neuter singular of principium/principii: literally: ‘a request for the beginning’, used to accuse a speaker of begging the question, i.e. assuming the truth of that which needed to be proved.

Post hoc ergo propter hoc: ‘After this therefore because of this’, used to accuse a speaker of inferring a causal connection simply on the basis of temporal precedence.

Prima facie: the ablative feminine singular of the adjective primus-a-um + the ablative feminine singular of facies/faciei: ‘on its first appearance’ or ‘at first sight’. Often used in an ethical context (following Ross) to distinguish a duty from an absolute moral obligation.

Quale/qualia: the neuter singular and plural forms of qualis/quale (‘of what sort or kind’); used to characterize either a property (such as redness) independently of the object that possesses it, or the contents of subjective experience (sometimes spoken of as ‘raw feels’).

Quid pro quo: the nominative neuter singular of quis/quid + preposition + the ablative neuter singular of quis/quid: ‘something in exchange for something’.

Quod erat demonstrandum (QED): the nominative neuter singular of the pronoun qui-quae-quod + the third person singular of the imperfect of the verb to be + the nominative neuter singular of the future passive participle of demonstro/demonstrare: ‘that which was to be demonstrated’. Traditionally used to mark the conclusion of a mathematical or philosophical proof.

Quot homines tot sententiae: ‘(There are) as many opinions as there are men’ (from the Roman playwright Terence).

Reductio ad absurdum: the nominative feminine singular of reducio/reductionis + preposition + the accusative neuter singular of the adjective absurdum: ‘reducing to absurdity’, a form of argument which seeks to disprove a proposition by showing that it implies an absurd consequence.

Salva veritate: the ablative singular feminine of the adjective salvus-a-um + the ablative feminine singular of veritas/veritatis: literally ‘with saved truth’. Two terms or statements can be interchanged salva veritate when one can replace the other without loss of truth value.

Solvitur ambulando: the third person singular present passive indicative + the ablative gerund from ambulo/ambulare: ‘It is solved by walking’; more broadly: ‘the problem is solved by a practical experiment’. Diogenes the Cynic is said to have introduced the idea of a refutatio ambulando in response to Zeno’s arguments against motion. After Zeno had presented the argument against motion Diogenes got up from his seat and walked out of the room.

Sub specie aeternitatis: preposition + the ablative feminine singular of species/speciei + the genitive feminine singular of aeternitas/aeternitatis: literally under eternal appearance’: viewing some matter from an eternal or cosmic perspective.

Sui generis: the genitive neuter singular of the adjective suus-a-um + the genitive neuter singular of genus/generis: ‘of its own kind’ or ‘unique in its characteristics’.

Summum bonum: the nominative neuter of the adjective summus-a-um + the nominative neuter singular of the substantive of bonus-a-um: ‘the supreme or highest good’. Ethical theorists since Plato and Aristotle have sought to identify the ‘highest good’ or ultimate aim of all human action.

Tabula rasa: the nominative feminine singular of tabula/tabulae + the nominative feminine singular of the adjective rasus-a-um: ‘an erased or blank tablet’, a phrase used by Aristotle, Locke, and others in connection with the view that the human mind is wholly lacking in content prior to the onset of sense experience.

Tertium non datur: the nominative neuter singular of the substantive tertius-a-um + adverb + the third person singular present passive of do/dare: ‘the third thing is not given’ or ‘there is no third option’, often used in connection with the principle of the excluded middle.

Tertium quid: (as above) + the nominative neuter singular of quis/quid: ‘a third thing’, originally used in debates concerning the nature of Christ.

Tu quoque: the nominative masculine singular of the second person pronoun tu + adverb meaning ‘also’: ‘literally ‘you also’, used to accuse the speaker of acting inconsistently with his doctrine; a form of ad hominem argument.

Vade mecum: the second person singular present imperative of vado/vadere + the ablative singular of the first person pronoun joined with the governing preposition: literally: ‘go with me’, a handbook or manual. Compare ‘Fodor’s Guide to Mental Representation: the Intelligent Auntie’s Vade-Mecum’ (Mind, 1985).


Here are definitions or explanations of some ancient Greek terms and phrases (or some English terms and phrases derived from ancient Greek) you may encounter in your study of philosophy. (A superscript caret () serves to distinguish the long vowels êta () and ômega () from epsilon () and omicron (o) respectively.)

Aesthetics: from the Greek aisthêtikos (adj.) relating to aisthêsis, which can mean either ‘sensation’ or ‘perception’. The use of the term to designate a branch of philosophical inquiry dates from the 18th century when the German philosopher Baumgarten assigned it the meaning of ‘sense of beauty’.

Agapê/philia/erôs: The three most common Greek words for love. Agapê (rarely found in the Greek of the classical period but common in the New Testament) is a caring concern; philia covers various forms of affection ranging from friendships to a mother’s love of her child to a miser’s love for gold; erôs is passionate desire, typically sexual in nature.

Aitia: ‘cause’ or ‘reason why’, related to the verb aitiaomai: ‘charge, accuse, blame’. Aristotle held there were four kinds of aitiai—material, formal, efficient, and final. In Plato’s Phaedo Socrates defends the view that only formal and final causes are deserving of the name, all other factors being mere necessary conditions.

Akrasia: ‘not having power’, ‘weakness of will’, ‘incontinence’. Socrates’ identification of knowledge with virtue raised the question of how a person can fail to do what he or she believes or knows to be the best course of action. Aristotle proposed a solution within the context of his theory of the practical syllogism.

Alêtheia: ‘truth’ (literally ‘the state of not being forgotten or concealed’). In Homer one who gives an alêthes (adj.) account speaks openly and withholds nothing. Heidegger mistakenly took this to mean that alêtheia originally designated ‘a kind of being that has come out of hiding’ (Verborgenheit).

Antinomy (from anti: ‘against’ + nomos: ‘law’), a pair of incompatible principles or theses each of which we have reason to accept. According to Kant, using the categories in any way other than as rules for the organizing of sense experience will generate a set of ‘antinomies of pure reason’.

Aretê: (Pronounced ar-eh-tay). By the 5th century BCE aretê had come to mean ‘virtue’ or better ‘excellence’, especially in the qualities that made for success in civic affairs. Plato devoted most of the Meno to a consideration of the question: ‘Can aretê be taught, or is it acquired by practice, or does it come to us as a gift from the gods?’ In Plato’s Republic ‘justice’ (diakaiosunê) became the focus of attention, but aretê regained its central place in Greek moral thought when Aristotle defined the single highest human good as ‘activity in accordance with aretê’.

Atomic theory: In the 5th century BCE Leucippus and his associate Democritus introduced the idea of ‘the uncuttable thing’ (to atomon) in an attempt to reconcile a belief in plurality and change with the arguments for an indivisible and changeless reality devised by Parmenides of Elea. Thus, as Jonathan Barnes put it, ‘the first atoms came from Elea.’ The idea of an indivisible material building block was later taken up by Epicurus and Lucretius and established on a scientific basis by John Dalton and Ludwig Boltzman in the 19th century and Ernest Rutherford and Niels Bohr in the 20th.

Cosmology (from kosmos: ‘order’, ‘the ordered world’ + logos: ‘account’ or ‘reason’): ‘an account of the physical universe’. A scientific approach to cosmology begins with the Milesian thinkers (Thales, Anaximander, and Anaximenes) who were the first to offer accounts of the universe that were (loosely) based on experience and subject to critical evaluation, correction, and improvement. Greek kosmos, at least as used by the Pythagoreans and Heraclitus, conveyed the idea of an elegant or beautiful arrangement (cf. the English derivative ‘cosmetic’).

The demiurge (ho dêmiourgos); ‘the artist’ of Plato’s Timaeus who uses the Forms as a blueprint in fashioning the best possible universe from pre-existing matter (from ho dêmos: ‘the people’ + ergon: ‘work’, i.e. a public worker).

Deontological ethics: from to deon: ‘that which is binding or needful’ + logos: ‘word’, ‘account ‘ or ‘reason’. Deontological approaches focus on the question of what action is required or must be done, typically in order to comply with a rule or set of rules rather than on the basis of the consequences of performing the action.

Dialectic: from hê dialektikê technê: ‘the dialectical art’, ‘the art of debating or arguing’. In Republic VI I Plato identifies a form of dialectic that consists in the examination of philosophical concepts and theses without making use of any information gained from sense experience. In Aristotle, dialectical arguments seek to establish a conclusion using premises granted by one’s opponent and play an important role in the presentation and defense of scientific knowledge. Dialectic assumes a central importance in Hegel’s philosophy as the historical process through which one natural development is negated and yet to some extent preserved in its successor. Marxian ‘dialectical materialism’ represents a variation on the Hegelian theme.

Elenchos/elenchus: ‘examination by question and answer’, ‘testing’, ‘refutation’. Although the word makes its first appearance in Parmenides B 7.5 when the goddess directs the youth to ‘judge/decide the elenchus on the basis of the account spoken by me’, the best-known ancient practitioner of elenchus was the Socrates of Plato’s dialogues. The elenchus usually consisted in the assertion of a thesis by Socrates’ opponent, Socrates extracting a few seemingly innocuous concessions, then Socrates pointing out that one or more conclusions implied by those concessions contradict the original thesis.

Endoxic method: Aristotle typically began his discussions of philosophical questions by reviewing ‘the received opinions’ (ta endoxa) on a subject—‘the opinions of the many and the wise’. At least in ethical contexts, a philosophical theory would also be evaluated on the basis of how well it accorded with the endoxa.

Epistemology: (from epistêmê: ‘knowledge’, especially ‘scientific or explanatory knowledge’ + logos: ‘word’, ‘account’, ‘reason’): ‘theory of knowledge’. Greek epistemology begins with some brief remarks by Xenophanes, Heraclitus, and Parmenides. It becomes a major topic of interest for Plato and Aristotle, and a major problem among the Skeptical philosophers of the Hellenistic period.

The ergon argument: (from ergon: ‘work’ or ‘job’): In Book I of the Nicomachean Ethics Aristotle argues that the supreme human good (aka eudaimonia) must be defined in connection with the exercise of the rational part(s) of our soul since this is the ergon or distinctive activity that serves to distinguish us from all other kinds of living creatures (perhaps an offshoot of the principle affirmed in Plato’s Republic that a person’s role in the ideal state will be determined by his or her special abilities).

Ethics (from êthikos: ‘relating to moral character’): ancient Greek ethics can be divided into five main phases: the largely normative teachings of the early Greek poets and philosophers (including Xenophanes and Heraclitus), the skeptical attack on objective moral values launched by the Sophists of 5th-century Athens, Socrates’ questioning of conventional Athenian values and search for the essential nature of the virtues, the systematic theories developed by Plato and Aristotle, and the more-action oriented reflections of the Stoics, Epicureans, Cynics, and Skeptics.

Eudaimonia: (literally: ‘being under the protection of a good daimôn or spirit’): usually but misleadingly translated into English as ‘happiness’. The term is perhaps best understood in connection with the success or good fortune a person would enjoy when under the protection of a guardian angel; sometimes rendered as ‘human flourishing’. Eudaimonia was the winner of the contest Aristotle organized to determine the single highest good of all the goods achievable by action.

‘Focal meaning’: pros hen legomenon or ‘being spoken of toward one’. The philosopher-scholar G. E. L. Owen coined the phrase to characterize Aristotle’s view of the way in which words such as ‘health’, ‘medicine’, and ‘being’ possess meaning. Although things can be said ‘to be’ in various senses (e.g. to be as a substance, as a quality, as a relation, etc.) there is one basic sense in connection with which all the other things are said to be. This basic or core sense is the ‘focal’ sense of the expression, and in the case of ‘being’ it is ‘to be as a substance’. Owen held that it was Aristotle’s discovery of the phenomenon of focal meaning that enabled him to think that there could be a single science of being (i.e. metaphysics).

Form: eidos. Eidos appears to have begun its life designating the ‘visual appearance’ or ‘look’ of a thing (from the Greek verb eidô: ‘see’) and to have acquired the meaning of ‘kind’ or ‘form’ of a thing in early medical writings (where people who had a certain ‘look’ were associated with suffering from a certain kind of ailment). In Plato’s dialogues Socrates asks a number of his interlocutors to identify that single common characteristic (eidos) all its instances have in common. In dialogues such as the Symposium, Republic, and Timaeus, Plato characterizes Forms (eidê) as the only true realities, with the things we encounter in sense experience representing merely imperfect and short-term copies of their ideal prototypes. Like Plato, Aristotle regarded the eidos of a thing as the proper object of knowledge but he rejected Plato’s contention that eidê could exist as independent substances. At Parts of Animals 642a Aristotle describes his conception of immanent form, i.e. a fixed set of attributes inhering in a substance and constituting its ‘what it is to be’, as his major advance over his predecessors.

Greatness of soul: megalopsuchia (from megas/megalê: ‘great’ + psuchê: ‘soul’). In the Nicomachean Ethics Aristotle speaks of greatness of soul as ‘the crowning ornament of the virtues’. The great-souled man possesses all the individual virtues, a great deal of interest in the specific virtue of honor, and an unshakable confidence in his own excellence. He also ‘moves at a sedate pace and speaks in a deep voice’. Some students of ancient Greek thought regard megalopsuchia as one of the less appealing aspects of ancient Greek ethical thought.

Hedonism (from hedonê: ‘pleasure’): the view that pleasure is the chief or sole good to be pursued in human life, associated primarily with the ancient Greek thinker Epicurus (cf. also ‘hedon’: the unit of measure of pleasure in Jeremy Bentham’s ‘hedonic calculus’),

Hylomorphism (from hylê: ‘wood’, ‘lumber’, ‘matter’ + morphê: ‘form’ or ‘shape’): usually associated with Aristotle’s view that substances (including living beings) cannot be adequately understood either simply as material beings (as, for example, the ancient atomists had supposed) or simply as form (as the Platonists had held), but as compounds of matter and form. Aristotle’s hylomorphic conception of substance is one of the most difficult and historically influential aspects of his philosophy.

‘Justice writ large’: The English phrase often associated with the reference to dikaiosunê en tôi meidzoni in Book II of Plato’s Republic. Having failed to determine the nature of justice as a quality in persons, Socrates proposes that he, Glaucon, and Adeimantus, consider justice ‘writ large’ or justice as a quality present in cities or states.

The ladder of love: The usual way of characterizing the simile introduced by Socrates in his speech on ‘passionate desire’ (erôs) in Plato’s Symposium. Although ‘the ladder of love’ (or ‘the celestial ladder’) became a commonplace in the writings of Neoplatonic philosophers and early Christian writers, it was a somewhat inaccurate representation of the Platonic original (which was epanabasmos: ‘a step on a staircase’, literally ‘a thing one steps on in going up’). Philosophically, it matters whether one views the pursuit of philosophical understanding as a ‘ladder’ (Greek: klimax) or as a staircase, since the former but not the latter must be a rather solitary enterprise.

Logic (from hê logikê technê: ‘the art of reasoning’). Although philosophers before Aristotle devised arguments to support their claims, and Sophists such as Gorgias identified various forms of persuasive argument, logic as a systematic study of the valid forms of inference begins with Aristotle. Within several centuries the limitations of Aristotelian logic had become apparent (non-syllogistic argument forms were identified and investigated by the Stoics), but for roughly two thousand years Aristotelian logic provided the basic tools for the analysis of immediate, syllogistic, and modal inferences.

Logos: ‘word’, ‘account’, ‘reason’. Logos is arguably the single most important term in ancient Greek philosophy. In Parmenides it is the ‘account’ or ‘discourse’ through which the goddess announces Parmenides’ epistemology and metaphysics. For Heraclitus it is both his ‘message’ to the world and the larger rational order he sets out to explain. For Plato and Aristotle it is the ‘rational account’ the possession of which serves to distinguish knowledge from mere true belief or experience. The logos became the ‘word’ of the gospel of John I 1 which was ‘in the beginning’.

Metaphysics: Since Aristotle, metaphysics has been identified as the study of being qua being, or an investigation into the conditions that must be satisfied by anything in so far as it can be said to be at all (to this extent, metaphysics coincides with ontology). Later philosophers defined metaphysical inquiry more broadly (e.g. Kant identified its three concerns as the existence of God, the immortality of the soul, and the freedom of the will). We owe the term metaphysics to the Roman scholar Andronicus of Rhodes who edited and organized the surviving Aristotelian treatises during the 1st century BCE. When after completing the editing of the Physics Andronicus came to a treatise that had no obvious unifying theme, he entitled it ‘the things after the Physics’ta meta ta phusika.

Nous: ‘mind’, ‘intelligence’, ‘clever intelligence’, ‘insight’, ‘intuition’. Nous appears early on in Greek literature as the ‘intelligence’ that is either impressively shown or woefully lacking among the characters of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey. For Heraclitus, nous was the ‘deep understanding’ that could not be acquired through ‘the learning of many things’; for Anaxagoras nous was the intelligence responsible for the cosmic order; for Plato nous was the certain grasp of truth we gain in connection with thinking about the Forms of things; and for Aristotle nous was (among other things) the mind, the ‘moral insight’ possessed by those who have learned from long experience, the kind of ‘intuitive grasp’ we can have of the first principles of a science, the ‘active intellect’ or ‘maker mind’ described in De Anima III 4 and 5 as a condition of our knowledge of intelligible form, as well as the divine ‘mind’ that moves all things by being the object of thought and desire.

Ontology (from ontos, genitive of the Greek participle ôn: ‘being’ + logos: ‘word’, ‘account’, ‘reason’): the branch of philosophy that seeks to give an account of the nature and properties of being.

Paralogism: from para: ‘against’ or ‘beyond’ + logismos: ‘reasoning’: in general: ‘an invalid or fallacious argument’. In the section of the first Critique known as the Paralogisms Kant attacked the attempts by rational psychology to gain knowledge of the nature of the soul.

Pederasty (paiderasteia, literally: ‘boy love’): the formalized relationship known to have existed in different periods and regions of ancient Greece between an adult male lover (known as the erastês) and the younger male ‘beloved’ (the eromenos). Pederastic relationships were typically short-term quid pro quo arrangements in which the older male offered guidance to the younger (typically post-pubescent) male in return for sexual favors. Plato depicts a number of individuals who are in pederastic relationships, perhaps most notably in the Phaedrus and Symposium, but his depiction is not uncritical.

Philosophia (from philia: ‘love’ + sophia: ‘wisdom’): ‘the love or eager pursuit of wisdom or knowledge’, perhaps coined by the members of the Pythagorean communities.

Phronesis: ‘practical wisdom’, as opposed to nous: ‘insight’ and epistêmê: ‘scientific or explanatory knowledge’; related to ho phronimos: ‘the man of practical wisdom’.

Phusis: ‘nature’, ‘the nature of a thing’. One of the key terms in the development of ancient Greek thought, phusis began its life as a noun formed from the verb phuô: ‘grow’ or ‘come to be by nature’. Early Greek writers spoke of the phusis of some individual thing as ‘the specific nature it had developed’, but the Presocratic philosophers used the term in a novel way in speaking of ‘nature’ as the physical universe.

‘Platonic love’: the phrase amor Platonicus was coined by the Renaissance scholar Marsilio Ficino in speaking of the special bond of mind and heart between two men Plato had depicted in a number of his dialogues, especially in Socrates’ speech in praise of erôs in the Symposium. ‘Platonick love’ (which by this time had become heterosexual) became a popular theme among artists and writers of 17th century Europe. Today’s ‘Platonic relationship’ (i.e. a relationship between two people devoid of any physical or sexual dimension) is a distant cousin of the Platonic original.

Recollection. In the Meno, Phaedo, and Phaedrus Plato develops the Doctrine of Recollection (or Anamnesis), the view that what we ordinarily speak of as learning is in fact ‘recollecting’ or ‘being reminded’ of things the soul knew in some previous lifetime. Plato’s theory is perhaps best understood as an attempt to account for our ability to grasp concepts (rather than the truth about empirically knowable matters). In some respects Plato’s proposal anticipates the later doctrine of ‘innate ideas’ as well as contemporary varieties of nativism developed by Chomsky, Fodor, and others.

‘The Socratic method’: instruction in the form of question and answer, perhaps most usefully employed (as in law school) when a sizable shared body of information can be assumed. See also elenchus.

‘The Socratic paradox’: The view expressed in several Platonic dialogues that knowledge is both necessary and sufficient for virtue, or that all wrongdoing is a product of ignorance.

‘The Socratic problem’: the classic, perhaps insoluble difficulty created by the fact that we have only three contemporary portraits of Socrates—those provided by Plato, the historian Xenophon, and the comic playwright Aristophanes—and they offer us radically different accounts of what Socrates believed and taught.

Socrates’ disavowal of knowledge: Socrates famously claimed that he knew virtually nothing, but this claim sits uncomfortably with his identification of knowledge with virtue as well as with the various passages in which he claims to know some things (e.g. at Apology 29b when he says that he knows that disobedience to a superior is shameful and wrong). Students of Plato’s thought have sought to avoid this inconsistency either by distinguishing between ‘two senses of know’ (Vlastos), between knowing instances of virtue and knowing its essential nature (Lesher), or between ‘expert’ and ‘ordinary knowledge’ (Reeve).

‘Saving the phenomena’ (sodzein ta phainomena). The phrase appeared originally in a statement of Eudemus quoted by Simplicius on the authority of Sosigines. Plato is said to have challenged the mathematicians and astronomers in his Academy to ‘save the phenomena’. This meant, specifically, to come up with an explanation of the apparently irregular motion of the ‘wandering stars’ (the five planets visible to the naked eye) that would enable the observed phenomena to be regarded as real rather than dismissed as deceptive appearance. The astronomer Eudoxus is credited with responding to Plato’s challenge by reducing the apparently disorderly movement of the planets to a combination of regular circular motions, an approach which provided the basis for the Ptolemaic system of astronomy. The incident, real or fictional, illustrates Plato’s preference for the more theoretical, especially more mathematical approach to the study of nature. The phrase reappears in a modern context in Pierre Duhem’s instrumentalist view of scientific explanation.

Sophrosyne: ‘moderation’, one of the five cardinal Greek virtues (along with piety or holiness, justice, courage, and wisdom). Exemplified by the two sayings inscribed on the ancient temple to Apollo at Delphi: gnôthi seauton’ ‘Know Thyself’ and mêden agan: ‘Nothing Too Much’. In 1962 the students at St. John’s College in Annapolis (where Greek is required of all students) organized a popularity contest and crowned the winner ‘Miss Sophrosyne of 1962’.

Substance and essence: ‘Substance’ came into English from the Latin substantia which served to translate the Greek ousia: (‘being’, ‘substance’, ‘essence’) and hupokeimon (‘substance’, ‘underlying subject’). Ousia originally meant ‘substance’ in property or wealth (e.g. ‘a person of substance’), but in Aristotle ousia became the term of choice for ‘the basic reality’ or ‘that of which things are predicated but itself not predicated of other things’. In the Metaphysics Aristotle identified ‘being as an ousia’ as the basic or ‘focal sense’ of ‘being’, and held that the question asked since the time of the first philosophers, ‘What is being?’, was the same question as ‘What is ousia?’ The central books of the Metaphysics contain a convoluted and deeply perplexing account of the hallmarks of ousia along with a review of the most promising candidates. Book Lambda contains a famous and influential account of God (aka ‘the divine mind’, ‘the unmoved mover’ and ‘the best thing’) because God is a substance that in many ways is implicated in the existence of all other substances. Unhelpfully, Aristotle sometimes used ousia in speaking of the essence of a thing, its ‘to ti ên einai’ or ‘what it was to be’ that thing. The relation between a thing and its essence is only one of a number of difficult questions raised and at least partially answered in the Metaphysics.

Sun, line, and cave: The three literary figures deployed by Plato in the central books of the Republic to explain his a priori theory of knowledge and its metaphysical foundations. All three embody the same basic analogy: the light from the sun and the objects that are directly and fully illuminated by that light relate to each other as the form of the Good relates to the objects of thought (the Forms). As a consequence, a ‘full, direct, and sure grasp of the truth’ (saphêneia) requires that we turn our attention away from the realm of shadows and reflected images (i.e. physical objects) and direct it toward the Forms.

Syllogism (from sullogismos: ‘connected reasoning’). Aristotle did not invent the term sullogismos but he was the first to develop a conception of valid inference on the basis of which he could distinguish valid from invalid syllogistic arguments. Although Aristotle’s account of the syllogism represented only part of his logical system, it is usually referred to as ‘Aristotelian logic’).

Teleology (from telos: ‘end’ or ‘goal’ + logos: ‘word’, ‘account’, reason’. A teleological account or approach regards the end state or goal of a process as either the only or the most important explanatory factor. Both Plato and Aristotle attacked various materialist cosmologies and promoted strongly teleological conceptions of the natural world.

Theôria: ‘contemplation’ (literally: ‘a looking at’, from the verb theôreô: ‘look at’, ‘view’, ‘behold’). The Pythagoreans may have introduced the term in connection with their attempt to discover the mathematical principles that order phenomena, but both Plato (e.g. in the Symposium) and Aristotle (e.g. in Nicomachean Ethics X) identify the life of theôria as the best possible kind of life for a human being (see eudaimonia and the ergon argument above).

‘Thought thinking about thought’: Aristotle’s Greek is kai estin hê noêsis noêseôs noêsis: ‘And its thought is thought about thought’ (Meta. XII, 1074b34-35). Aristotle reaches this unusual characterization of the divine through a series of binary decisions, grounded in the conviction that since the divine must be the best being in the universe it must live the best kind of life (which is the life of thought). And since its thought must be the best kind of thought, it must be about the best kind of thing (which is itself); hence it must think about itself. And since thought is just what the divine is, the divine’s thought must be thought about thought. Not surprisingly, this conception of the nature and life of the divine posed no small difficulties for later thinkers who sought to reconcile Aristotelian philosophy with Christian doctrine.

‘The third man argument’ (TMA): Although the title comes from Aristotle (Meta. 990b), the classic statement of the TMA occurs in Plato’s Parmenides 132a-b, formulated in terms of the Form of Largeness. Since the Form of Largeness shares the property of being large along with all the other large things that participate in it, we must posit some ‘third thing’, a second Form of Large in virtue of which the first Form of Large and all other large things share the property of largeness. The argument became the focus of much discussion thanks to a famous paper by Gregory Vlastos. Vlastos attempted to formulate the argument as a deductively valid proof of an infinite regress, articulating all the essential but un-stated assumptions (such as that Forms are self-predicating and that nothing that has a character can be identical with that in virtue of which it has it). Vlastos’ own interpretation of the TMA was that it was a reflection of Plato’s honest perplexity about the viability of his Theory of Forms, but many other interpretations were subsequently proposed in response to Vlastos’ paper. The philosophically rich and stimulating papers published by Vlastos and Owen in the 1960’s and 1970’s sparked a renaissance in the study of ancient philosophy in the English-speaking world.

The unmoved mover: One of Aristotle’s alternative ways of referring to the divine mind, thought thinking thought, or ‘the best thing’. Aquinas drew his First and Second Ways directly from Aristotle’s argument in Metaphysics XII that the series of moving and moved things cannot go on forever. (The argument is sometimes referred to disparagingly as ‘the taxi cab argument’ since when it gets to where it wants to go, it conveniently forgets about the general principle it used to get there.)

‘Zeno’s paradoxes’: Zeno of Elea (mid-5th century BCE) was a follower of Parmenides who developed a series of arguments intended (evidently) to reinforce the teachings of his master. On one interpretation, Parmenides had sought to show that plurality and movement were unreal (or at least that we can think of what-is only as existing in a complete, indivisible, changeless, and eternal way). Zeno argued that those who disagree with Parmenides in so far as they think that many things exist and that they can move about from place to place can be shown to be committed to various absurdities. Zeno’s best-known arguments are the ‘motion paradoxes’ (The Bi-section, Achilles, Arrow, and Moving Rows), although there is also a set of plurality paradoxes each of which trades on our normal and somewhat loose ways of speaking about parts and wholes. Although the paradoxes seem in some ways to be trick arguments, and are obviously belied by ordinary sense experience, it has proven difficult to kill them off. A number of recent studies maintain that resolving the questions raised by the paradoxes requires that we address some fundamental issues relating to our ways of thinking and speaking about time and movement. For a useful set of essays on the topic, see Wesley Salmon’s Zeno’s Paradoxes (Hackett 1970, 2001). ‘Paradox’ in this context relates not to the embrace of two conflicting but apparently true theses (e.g. a logical antinomy), but rather to ‘paradoxos’ in its ancient meaning: ‘that which is contrary to popular opinion’, ‘unexpected’, ‘strange’—the same sense in which Plato spoke of his most outlandish proposals for reforming existing societies as ‘three great waves of paradox’.

[I hope J. H. Lesher (2010) does not mind me re-posting, re-sharing this resource here. If he does then I am more than willing to delete the post.]

For the best resource for these terms see F. E. Peter’s Greek Philosophical Terms (New York University Press, 1967). Those terms with the asterisk will be the list from which the first terms exam will be drawn.  The rest of the terms will be the possible candidates for your second terms exam.

*Hyle. Aristotle’s word for “prime matter.” Translated by Thomas Aquinas as material prima. Aristotle’s concept arose out of a critique of Anaximander’s notion of apeiron.

*Morphe. Aristotle’s term for form. In Aristotle’s Metaphysics there is a duality between hyle as prime matter and morph‘ as that which forms this matter into the sensible things of the world. Latin translation: forma.

*Apeiron. Anaximander’s concept of the first material or prime matter. Literally translated it means the “unlimited.”

*Logos. The Greek term for “reason” for “giving an account” (Plato). The verb lego both to speak and to put together. Thus Plato’s emphasis is on the living dialogue as the only context for the unveiling of logos. Socrates claims that the logos speaks through him in the Platonic dialogues. The Latin translation is ratio, and this had led to a more strict use of reason in the confines of mathematics, science and logic.  For much more click here.

*Sophia. Wisdom. Becomes an intellectual virtue in Aristotle, as contrasted with phron‘sis the intellectual virtue that makes the good life possible. Last stem of our word “philosophy.” Used in a derogatory way in naming the Sophists, those pretending to be wise.

Phronesis. Generally used to describe practical knowledge.

Pragmata. Objects seen in terms of practice and not theoretical investigation.

*Episteme. For Plato knowledge that has been derived by justifying an opinion with an argument (logos). Hence the Platonic formula doxa + logos = episteme.

*Kosmos. Order, form, fashion, rule, regulation, or regulator. The world or universe according to its perfect order or arrangement. Non-philosophical use in Alexandrian Greek as known or discovered world.

*On = being. Onta = beings. Root for our word ontology.

*Kosmos Noetos. Plato’s real (transcendental) world of forms.

*Eidos (plural eide). The Greek word Plato used to designate his “forms.”

*Eidon. Image. The images of the sensible world, the poor, inexact copies of the perfect eid‘.

*Kosmos Aisthetos. The sensible world for Plato.

*Aisthesis. Sensation, the sensible. Translated into Latin as sensatio.

*Nous, Noesis. Intellect to intellection. Translated into Latin as intellectio. Anaxagoras’ cosmic mind.

*Philo, Philein. Love of and to love. First stem of philosophy.

*Physis. Trans. As natura in Latin. Basic meaning in Greek much more living and active than what we term as physical nature today. Physis could be better translated as creativity or creative coming forth according to a certain logos. Aristotle called the pre-Socratics “physicists” (physikoi).

*Psyche. The soul. First stem of our psychology with logos at the end.

*Atoma. Indivisible. Democritus concept of the basic units of the world.

Energeia. Aristotle’s concept of act or actuality.

Dynamis. The power in things.  Aristotle’s concept of potentiality.

*Homo mensura. (Latin). Man is the measure. Protogoras’ theory of epistemological relativism.

Chorismos. Ontological gap between world of forms and world of appearance.

*Ouk on vs. me on. Absolute non-being vs. relative non-being. First mentioned in Parmenides but there is no consistent distinction until the German theologian Paul Tillich defined them as absolute and relative in the first volume of his famous Systematic Theology.

*Dialektike. See essay at this link.

Eros. Love, usually now in terms of passion as in our erotic love vs. Platonic love.

Hypodoche. Plato’s word for the primal stuff or receptacle which is equiprimordial with the perfect forms. According to the Timeaus, the Demiurge (the artisan or creator) impresses the forms on this stuff and the sensible world of appearance (kosmos aisth‘tos) is the result. Aristotle uses his own hyl‘ as a replacement for the Platonic hypodoch‘.

Hypokeimenon. Aristotle’s substance or substratum that which persists throughout all change. Translated as subiectum by medieval philosophers. The original meaning is corrupted in modern post-Cartesian subjectivism but is retained in our subject as a subject of research or investigation or our subjects in school. Click here for the full hypokeimenon story.

*Aporia. No way out, nothingness, or the impenetrable. It is something which is not porous which cannot leak. The interlocutors in the early Platonic dialogues cannot get out of the dead-ends into which Socrates leads them. They are in aporia; hence, the locution “aporetic” dialogues, the early dialogues where there seems to be no positive result.

Ergon. A finished work, as opposed to energeia the work in process, the actuality of the work.

*Axios. Value or worth; hence, our word axiology, theory of value in ethics and political philosophy.

*Nomos. Law, custom, convention. Nomos was referred to as divine law in Heraclitus, the Sophists thought that nomos was only conventional. Our word, antinomians to indicate revolutionary sects like the Gnostics or the Anabaptists who took seriously the idea of going beyond the law as a way of spiritual redemption.

*Hedone. Pleasure, hence our term hedonism.

*Theos. God hence our “theology” or “theophany” the revelation of theos because the “phany” stems from the Greek phainos, to come to light. Ontophany is the revelation of being. Phenomenology is the logos of phenomena, those things that appear.

*Heiros. The sacred, hence our “hierophany,” the revelation of the sacred.

Agathon. The Good in Plato’s republic, which is not identified with the theos. This is the Form above all the Forms.

*Arche. The first, or first principle (s).

*Gnosis. Knowledge, hence agnostics, not-knowing, and our word “agnostic.”

*Deontos. Law, hence “deontological” ethics, strictly non-utilitarian with strict adherence to the law in all situations.

*Doxa. Opinion, the quasi-knowledge we obtain from the sensible world as opposed to the true knowledge that we get from the realm of Forms.

*Monas. Unit, the one. Hence, Leibniz’s “monads” and the “monadology.”

Polis. Originally meant fort or citadel and then came to mean the Greek city states. Out terms “politics” of course stems from this root.

*Telos. End, purpose, or goal. Hence our “teleological” ethics, utilitarian ethics that urges actions according to their end and purpose.

Dike. Law or justice, as in the opposites having to pay for their coming out of Anaximander’s apeiron.

Aletheia. Unveiling, uncovering. The Greek notion of truth. The German philosopher Martin Heidegger maintains that we ought to return to this concept of truth rather than the modern “correspondence” or “coherence” theories of truth.

Elenchos. Scrutiny, refutation, interrogation. Socrates method in aporetic dialogues.

Entelecheia.  Lit., “having a telos inside.”  It is the essence of anything and allows t

Sophrosyne.  Usually translated as “temperance,” but it literally means “moral sanity,” i.e., a personal stability and integrity that comes from the harmony of the appetites, passions, and reason.

Dianoia.  For Plato the type of cognition that stands between doxa and noesis. It is that faculty that allows the mind to connection mathematical forms to geometrical and numerical figures in the world of appearance.

Aletheia.  The Greek word for truth as the uncovering (lit. meaning) or coming forth of a thing’s essence.

Anamnesis.  The Greek word used to indicate Plato’s theory of recollection.

Arete.  Most generally anything “functioning excellence”; most specifically as phronesis operating to develop the virtues, viz., human functional excellence.

Daimon.  Lit. “spirit,” good, evil, or indifferent.  For Socrates it meant his “conscience,” the voice within that told me not to do certain actions.

Demiourgos.  The creator god of the Timaeus who takes the Forms and impresses them on a primordial stuff (hypodoche) to produce the world of appeance.

Diairesis The Platonic method of division found in the Phaedrus and the Sophist.

Eudaimonia.  Lit. “having a good spirit,” usually translated as “happiness,” but more accurately “contentment” or “well being.”

Theoria.  For Aristotle the activity of nous that requires a logos, viz., a truth that is demonstrated.  As opposed to nous as phronesis that does not require demonstration.  These practical truths are lived rather than demonstrated.

Megalopsychia. Lit. “great souled,” most often translated as “pride,” the virtue of knowing one’s own worth without falling into the deficient of humility or the excess of boastfullness.

Ousia Aristotle’s basic words for substance or fundamental being.

Epoche.  Pyrrho’s term for suspension of belief.

Ataraxia.  Pyrrho’s word for a state of “unpeturbedness” or “quietude.”  It is the moral and spiritual end of the philosopher’s quest.

The Nøtel: The Architecture of Acceleration

PH (2017)
  • The Nøtel: Lobby

Welcome to the Nøtel your stay here will be more than comfortable as there are no human guests. This is a Hotel like no other, it has been built by future Chinese multi-billionaires in a manner that was imagined, and simulated in a computed architectural space. It’s origins are also from the musical habits, experiments, and imagination of Steve Goodman (aka. Kode 9). Who is the owner of London’s independent record label Hyperdub. The names of his earlier albums include ‘Memories of the Future’, and ‘Black Sun’ eluding to this man’s thinking in a continuous analysis of rhythm. This special sonic hotel features initially as a track on his most recent album titled simply ‘Nothing’. Kode 9 was in a hotel when the news of his long term collaborator the Spaceape’s tragic death reached him. This sudden loss of this gifted poet is what inspired and speeded up the creation of this scarce minimal album. Yet, the most suitable word to describe the Nøtel is in fact dystopia, the absence of humanity is replaced by the eerie glow of holographic ghosts. Although initially the name of a track on an album this has been expanded through a collaboration with the German artist Lawrence Lek into a virtual environment, that can be explored by possessing the robotic drones that inhabit the space.

What really drives this fantastic piece of creative culture is a meditation on the number Zero. Many people and perspectives have been touched by, or actively embrace nothing as a muse. Theoretically Steve Goodman entered musically into the vacuums and voids inherent in quantum physics. You can see much more has influenced this album if you look at the track names: holo, void, vacuum packed, zero work & point energy, 9 drones, respirator, mirage, and nothing lasts forever. You can glimpse the sonic influences of the films: The Shining (1980), and Philip Glass’s Koyaanisqatsi (1982). The latter Goodman claimed, ‘rewired my brain’, after realising the film accurately described the reality of socio-technical acceleration. Goodman collaborated with Lawrence Lek a German simulation artist who is a trained architect. It was watching Lek’s recent project Unreal Estate, which is a part of Bonus Levels – an experimental virtual novel that embodies the artists interest in site-specific reproductions of existing buildings/places sampled from reality. Persuading Goodman, that Lek’s creative practice was an ideal match to expand the sonic concepts in his recent album. Unreal Estate, can show what the Royal Academy of Art would become if it was purchased by a Chinese multi-Millionaire.


  • Lawrence Lek, Bonus Levels: Unreal Estate,
This work is accompanied with a vocal narrative that describes how the super rich should treat their staff. To understand the many contemporary topics this collaboration makes visible one watched a great interview with Kode 9, and Lawrence Lek. Conducted by the journalist Lisa Blanning for the 2016 festival Sònar in Barcelonai. Blanning’s brilliant questions solicit many topics that lend themselves to Philosophical consideration. So, this small article explores these concepts and attempts to spread the work of these two creators. Their work supports Leftest causes and aesthetically sets a precedent for how art can produce experiences based upon cybernetic and politically pertinent ideas. The biggest idea that runs through the concept of the Nøtel is Accelerationism. A belief that the one way to defeat capitalism is to speed it up, so as to guarantee a future with some level of human freedom and autonomy outside of capital relationsii. The ism’s ideological call is one of There must be an outside? What exists outside of capitalism has kept human imagination busy, but after generations of critical analysis. It seems that the economic and cultural superstructure has resisted repeated revolutionary alternatives. Therefore multi-media dystopia is useful to leftest discourses, it is not needlessly politicised, but rather it enables a path towards resisting capital’s destruction of life anew.

‘Despair seems to be the dominant sentiment of the contemporary Left, whose crisis perversely mimics its foe, consoling itself either with the minor pleasures of shrill denunciation, mediatised protest and ludic disruptions, or with the scarcely credible notion that maintaining a grim ‘critical’ vigilance on the total subsumption of human life under capital, from the safehouse of theory, or from within contemporary art’s self-congratulatory fog of ‘indeterminancy’, constitutes resistanceiii.’

If one watches the interview and listens carefully, you might criticize the two creators for not denouncing capitalism. But, they do not have to, what they have created is sufficiently haunting to offer valuable perspectives on complex ideas. Lek speaks about Unreal Estate with an opinion that many people might share. He admits to a pro-capitalist point of view, yet also confesses to the necessity of a subjective imagination. This dualistic dynamic is anchored to a desire to be rich enough to join the elites, but because this is not realistic for him as an individual he is happy to confess the power the creation of fiction holds. It’s at this stage that the economic or material norm of the super wealthy is brought into sharp focus. Goodman furthers Lek’s initial answer, ‘There seems to be a Zero as the engine of capitalism … if you look at the spaces the rich live in. The more richer you become the space you live in becomes bigger and emptier.’. Not only is this logical it is already very very visible. Paradoxically, the super well off’s wealth may be invisible (hidden in offshore investments, or in the oligopoly they have amassed!), however the rich are not hiding, they reside in the aforementioned spaces.

What’s more interesting is the notion that architecture is a visual vessel for ideologies. Lisa Banning get’s Lek to describe this through buildings such as Apple’s new headquarters, Campus 2, one Infinite Loop, Cupertino California, and the Barcelona Pavilion designed by Mies van der Rohe, and built in 1929iv. Compared to Apple, which screams ‘Zeros’, in both its vocal support for a hyper-designed ideology, next to the mundane march of additional digits on it’s huge profits. The pavilion is rightfully considered a classic of Modernism, Lek explains how the building has continuously staged differing ideologies (Mostly from other artists). Moreover, this fantastic building is symbolic and important today because of it’s connection to National Socialism. This Bauhaus legend created a building that uses formal geometry to suggest physical planes. It has the worlds first glass walls that display the ambition of it’s author. Mies van der Rohe is inspirational, but his relevance to the Nøtel is not just visual. The architect so famous for being apolitical and possessing a single-mindedness that surfaces perhaps in contrast to his socialist background. Although, his lack of serious resistance is regrettable considering his fame, his story can be appropriated to invite the present into this discussion. A now-time that is explicitly defined by the election of a person who is publicly racist, sexist, overtly aggressive, and derogatory. Let’s hope America’s decision is not one of self destruction.


– The Nøtel – Apple Campus 2, California, USA


  • Mies van der Rohe, Sketch for the Barcelona Pavillion
Mr Trump could be America’s fascist boogeyman, he is certainly in favour of unbridled exploitation, manipulation, and the protection of his surnames place, perched in the comfortable nest of billions of dollars. In fact his son-in-law is an equal puppet in this financial superstructure that turns all of us into hypocrites enslaved to the circulation of money. Bizarrely, Trump, Hitler, and der Rohe all share a pre-occupation with buildings. Hitler and Trump in one’s opinion share scarily similar traits, they both are impudent and mask their failure as human beings in psychopathic hatred and machismo. By failure one is referencing specific failures in their lives. For Hitler it was the rejection from art school in Vienna coupled with an idea of the weakening of the ‘Fatherland’ under the Weimar Republic that fuelled his egoism. Trump’s equally narcissistic, and has experienced a slightly different disappointment, that may fuel his distaste for Muslims and Iran. This negative event one speculates as originating in two experiences Trump has had, firstly when his brand of luxury encountered the superior version of his own hotels owned by the Arab rulers. The second experience was the public put down he experienced at the hands of Barack Obama in 2011. This is perhaps the moment that Trump the paradigm shifter came into being. It is easy to dismiss a man such as trump, but being British one is attuned to the power of precedents. Trump is a rather large one.

In fact one more reference to Mies van der Rohe connects this brief discussion on Trump, Hitler, and this architect; a seemingly strange trinity to look at for human origin’s for the Nøtel ‘s ideas. Take Accelarationism, it embraces speed in it’s ant-capitalist theorising. One cliché has always been used to warn of the dangers contained in succumbing to your desires for a better version of what you have: The grass is always greener on the other side. When this is placed next to what van der Rohe is supposed to have said as he began to flee from Nazi Germany, arriving in America, ‘Freedom! This is a kingdom!’ (“Freiheit! Es ist ein Reich!v) you glimpse a very human dilemma: too much desire and you enter utopia, not enough nature (i.e grass) and you enter utopia. The gauntlet this virtual space lays down describes how non-places (or worse?) are pre-destined. This is how Goodman and Lek’s creation should be viewed or read; a masterful play on a potential structure made from dystopia. Therefore when the Nøtel a Shanghai based state-owned hospitality enterprise, and it’s zero-star™ range of luxury hotels opens, you enter. In the lobby one is confronted by a very important idea, that is key to a full understanding of this accelerated Accelarationist architecture. The miss use of the commons? FALC (Fully Automated Luxury Communism) is the belief that robots not humans will work in the future, so it could be said to be a post-work theory. Seeing the frequent habit of Capitalism to automate labour, to remove the human as a productive force generates a demand for everything to become automated, and then followed by common-ownership over all things.

The Nøtel brilliantly showcases ultra-pertinent concepts using a narrative; a scientific fiction that in an apparently neutral way takes this concept of FALC and openly misreads it. Hence why there are no actual human beings in this Hotel the inversion of this concept means that even a society of abundance, itself eventually becomes an automation. Visually the Nøtel bathes in this green nuclear illumination, referencing the strong glow presumably from this structure’s basement’s nuclear power, and the empty depiction of what remains of the human. The holograms directly reference a unique particular quality about digital reality; musicians enjoy an after-life through their music (Spaceape & Dj Rashad R.I.P), however using digital material this becomes an extension of a kind of living. Perhaps, the use of a holographic optical illusion in the holographic reincarnation of 2pac at Coachella 2012 describes something about the nature of immortality. One only becomes immortal when your image as an individual is commonly accessible, in other words it can be owned and reproduced by others. This life after death element of this collaboration really invites philosophical reflection. Observing what British Philosopher Peter Osborne articulates reading Walter Benjamin and Heiddeger, ‘Death is the material meaning of Messianic exteriority … History is a democratic utopia of’

‘… as a result of the accelerating temporal rhythm, the new itself appears as the ever-always-the-same: ‘the ever-always-the-same within the new’. It is the pure temporal logic of this new social form (the commodity as fetish), the modern ‘measure of time’, that Benjamin detects in fashion (mode). … The projected allegorical reading of modernity as Hell vii.’

These two quotes really emphasise that humans are trapped with a choice between two utopias, and this is a good interpretation of the Nøtel. Although are we really bound by this hotel’s vacuum of human social autonomy trapped in a presupposed essence of temporality? Walls constructed from double negatives, and positive multiplications as sums equate to negatives. Moreover, positive and negative aspects in the hellish modernity of this hotel shrouds the zero at the core of it’s idea in a notion of a strange ruination, maybe all hotels are just ruins that appear new? To summarise one’s attempt to think about this real virtuality (see Slavoj Žižek’s interview The Reality of the Virtual, 2012) one shall solicit the assistance of a great critical analysis of accelerationism. An essay written by professor of Continental European philosophy Patricia MacCormack. In a brilliant dissection of futurity and ethics, MacCormack starts by referencing aesthetics and Steven Shaviro’s Post – Cinematic Affect, apparently the prison has no outsideviii. One can immediately see the importance of MacCormacks thought to the Nøtel, when she invites Deleuze and Guattari’s work into focus. This in turn reconfigures our observation on this virtual architectural zero-driven wonder. To acknowledge the becoming inhuman of manix, nudging one to ignore the drones, and imagine what kind of being may one day exist to occupy the rooms of the Nøtel? Still referencing Shaviro, MacCormak lays bear the ethical value of the Nøtel claiming, art should explore the dangers lurking in futurity.

Lek and Goodman’s project achieves this in abundance. This Hotel sets a standard, ‘These non-spaces are found between the leaps of replacement culture … imperceptible zones that add elements of slowness to accelerationist aesthetics by readdressing the lost time that was never perceived … in-between spaces that are the minoritarian planes of duration.x’ One can not distil into words a better description to describe the lure of the Nøtel. There is so much to consider, but unless one desires to end in the democratic death of a narcissistic utopia. Then much worse could be done than engaging in the cybernetic possibilities this work of collaboration represents. If one does so then the ecological harmony native to MacCormak’s Cosmogenic ecosophy may be a practical approach as our species continues actively creating it’s world. The Nøtel, has plenty of space to host many more interesting points of discussion. For example Orientalism defined as ‘how Asians view fellow Asians’ represented by the presence of Shiseido, which is a real cosmetic company, on some screens in the hotel. In many ways the route to the Nøtel is haunted by the current shadow of A.I and a super intelligence’s role in the potential dark side of automation. This year a Japanese life insurance company sacked thirty four employees in favour of IBM’s artificial intelligence. Let us end on an optimistic materialist utterance. If humanity can slow down acceleration, so as to truly grasp it’s affects. This might lead to us avoiding the absolute death, that is an extinction. Would it not be better to continue with understanding, that zero-marginal cost economies have thus-far not sustained life. We need to ensure that in the future we aren’t resigned to counting the cost of acceleration, nor becoming undead holograms?

‘Child is father to the man,

impressions imprinted years before regrown

clean up your own mind, no memories ingrafted,

repeated recycled

treated like the original is copyrighted, recited.

we can just about see, …

shadows haunting shadows

the Rhizome and sophi

my skin tightly bound

I hear the screeching sound of seagulls

circling with endeavour

flesh strokes with an abstract line become blurred

overwhelming feelings of something you hearrrd

once before

like sound waves battering the shore

storm clouds gather

I remember them well.

(The Spaceape)



  • The incomplete verse of the poet Spaceapexi. Kode 9, Third Ear Transmission,
  • Sónar+D, Behind the Show: Kode9 & Lawrence Lek present The Notel,published 1st July 2016.
  • Editors: Robin Mackay, & Armen Avanessian, #ACCELARATE: The Accelerationist Reader,Falmouth: Urbanomic, 2014. pg.5
  • Tom Dyckhoff, Mies and the Nazis,Gaurdian, Saturday 30th November 2002.
  • Peter Osborne, The Politics of Time.Verso, London/New York, 1995, Pg. 147
  • Pg 137.
  • Patricia MacCormack, Cosmogenic Acceleration: Futurity and Ethics,in The Internet Does Not Exist, E-Flux Journal, Sternberg Press, Berlin, 2015, Pg. 299
  • Ibid, Pg.302
  • Ibid, pg 304
  • The Spaceape & Kode 9, Third Ear Transmission,Trailer, 2015


Tanabe Hajime’s Zange 懺悔: The Power Of Tariki

南禅寺 雪景色 -1024x576

Tanabe Hajime’s Zange 懺悔: The Power Of Tariki •

‘Although Socratic ethical intellectualism did not develop as far as the
self-reflective (für sich) stage of metanoetics mediated by salvation of
Other-power, metanoesis is already implicit in its ironical dialectics.[ Tanabe Hajime, Philosophy as Metanoetics (1986), University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles, California, Pp.17.]’

The above quote is in the section explaining the meaning of a translation of Tanabe Hajime’s major work, Philosophy as Metanoetics. What one wants to explore with this short reflective piece is Hajime’s concept of Tariki 他力(Other-power), and briefly understand what it is and the power it contains? In the beginning quotation we gain an insight into how this idea is active in the mediation of the self reflective part of Metanoetics. So one can observe that this Other-power mediates via a salvation or by being saved. Tariki is best explained in its superiority over Jiriki (Self-power) which Hajime abandoned, in his own words: ‘Yet insofar as this entails an act of self-denial, it points to a paradox: even though it is my own act. It has been prompted by a Power outside of myself. This Other-power brings about a conversion in me that heads me in a direction along a path hitherto unknown to me.[ Ibid, Tanabe Hajime, preface, ]’ So, the concept of Tariki 他力 is that which the process of a regeneration in life starts from through practice and faith found in Zange 懺悔(confession/repentance – conversion). This term is so powerful because it appears as an innate concept to philosophy of both the West and East. If in need of further explanation one should consider two things: 1) we may discover the Truth, but not anticipate its effects. 2)Being wrong, or incorrect is a state unavoidable in existence – Hajime and his support of Japanese Nationalism is a way to understand Other-power. Moreover, the Japanese social concept of omoiyari 思いやり[ Kazuya Hara, The Concept of Omoiyari (Altruistic Sensitivity) in Japanese Relational Communication, Intercultural Communication Studies XV: 1 (2006). ], sometimes translated as: ‘always considering the other [person]’ is also useful to understanding this concept, so meta-ethically important.[ Tariki, allows, and enables for thinkers to think about the “ethics of ethics” because Other-power maintains there is something in the world that causes a certain reflective reaction on an individuals behaviour and the qualities of one’s being. ] Are there any western thinkers that come close to expressing a kinship with Hajime’s concept? Tentatively put, a western thinker close to this idea is Emmanuel Levinas who’s notion of the “other” and “being is two” in his writings could be read comparatively. However the two concepts of “Other” differ in that for Levinas the “Other” is an unreachable distance readable in his concept of Illeity in his later writing.

[ (Emmanuel Levinas, Enigma and Phenomenon, (1965)
&, Darren Ambrose, Levinas, Illeity and the Persistence of Skepticism, IAPL Conference
Chiasmatic Encounters, Helsinki, (2005) ) For Hajime it would not necessarily have such an emphasis on separation it would be more positioned towards external events in relation to an individual’s consciousness of their actions and the following mediation of the two.]
Finally, the force of Other-power in this process of repentance one has personally experienced. After living in Japan, and desiring cultural assimilation one eventually confessed that Tokyo was not a suitable home. Its Capitalism uncreative, unkind, and enslaving for me.

  • Paul Harrison, November (2017)


—Hajime, T. Philosophy as Metanoetics, (University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles, California 1986).
—Hara, K. The Concept of Omoiyari (Altruistic Sensitivity) in Japanese Relational Communication, Intercultural Communication Studies XV: 1 (2006).
—Levinas, E. En découvrant l’existence avec Husserl et Heidegger, (2e éd. Paris: Vrin, 1967).
—Darren Ambrose, Levinas, Illeity and the Persistence of Skepticism, IAPL Conference Chiasmatic Encounters, Helsinki, (2005).