Sikhing Life: Jainity of Jainities, all is Jainity!

Steps to Nuclear Non-Proliferation:

We have been obsessed for a while with the mysteries of the “en-” prefix, and have come to accept its use as if it were a general principle or remedy for our thought: e.g. enfold, enframe, ensure, embody, engage, envolve, engender, entension, enrich, and so on and so on.

We may jokingly suggest it it takes at least two of Zizek’s humorous “and so on’s” to bring us to the appropriate level of a 2-categorical abstraction. More seriously, upon reaching this powerful idea of “enrichment”, it proves time to speak to our obsession with this prefix itself. We can no longer restrict our attention simply to its positive usage in higher category theory and perhaps even in molecular biology and leave out one glaring exception where the term “enrichment” sticks out like a mushroom cloud: Nuclear Physics.

For all this talk of becoming-plasma, all this talk of dealing with experimental physics generally, there has been no single mention of the kinds of atrocities that have been brought forth as a result. Specifically, we have had a historical tendency to weaponize the concept of “enrichment” to horrific ends. That this term evokes memories of collective trauma and great violences in the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, in the tragedies of Chernobyl and Three Mile Island, and most recently in the earthquake-tsunami in Fukushima speaks also to its deeply peaceful importance when used properly.

Particularly when it comes to nuclear arms, bombs, missiles, and other weapons, we cannot overlook this nuclear side of the category of enrichment in our thorough-going thinking through of non-violence as such. When we meet the concept of “enrichment”, we are almost immediately given to think and to resist the violences which have emerged from it. How is it that a concept which has done much to benefit us thus far, in higher category theory and in developing the mathematics behind the internal conceptual logic of satyagraha, can result also in such a disaster?

What were we thinking? Where did we misstep along our path?

We turn back, back to category theory again. Like conceptual engineers, we look to see where the anomaly could possibly have occurred in our usage. As a general rule of thumb, we know it is most likely to be where we started in our thinking, in our first step. Was there not sufficient quality of thought to begin with? Yes, that is probably it, maybe we made a mistake. We must bring ourselves think-together again and again, forming perhaps a global “nuclear family” in addition to our local one. Aha! Here, it appears the problem arises from the essential definition of “category” itself. Because we are speaking in terms of categorical logic, we effectively enforced a certain ordering between the “source” and the “target” objects in order to proceed any further.

You must begin somewhere, they say. Why not begin with a step along a path, like a step from f:A -> B ?

Yes, that is exactly what we did: We assigned one category as the “source” and created a functor all the way on through to the “target” object.

This original principle of fixing source/target is precisely what may give rise to the possible weaponization of categories, including “enrichment”. Sometimes we impose or force our own categories into the picture, and they can become like a box which constrains our future thinking. Perhaps this is due to our maintaining an immediate focus in “categories of thought” and how they give rise to the systematic thinking of satyagraha, rather than sustaining an a thoughtful emphasis on a pure and original non-violence plain and simple.

This “first principle” which guides our steps ultimately escapes any such categorization and all forms of conceptual or structural violence. As such, Gandhi rightly took great care to ensure that satyagraha was not a fully-defined term, that it still needed to be explored further. In this way, he allowed for many possible constructive first steps, while greatly preventing and diffusing several violent first steps that might have otherwise taken hold.

For instance, we now realize that the call to return ad fontes, back to the hermeneutic “source” of the things themselves, sometimes launches unexpectedly and then explodes in a foreign “target” site instead of fulfilling its original and pure entension. There is a certain risk that comes with saying anything at all, but silence will not do in times of crisis: Something must be said, so we take a first step. We instead listen to the silence to give us our courage to speak, to give us the right words that they may help others. Immersed in an environment of radical immanence, we listen to the soundscape for its many violences, and it gives rise to useful concepts and steps that may be employed on the path of Truth.

Without this make-shift source/target distinction in categorical thinking, we arguably could not have proceeded much of anywhere in the first place. We may not have been able to have ‘systematized’ our understanding of satyagraha. With it, though, there is still much beneficial that may come so long as we are careful enough in the conceptual steps we take.

At least now the problem has been better understood.

Sikhing Life: Daggers of War and Peace

Especially as we begin, we may need to continuously double-back upon ourselves.

We must repeatedly check over our thought in order to ensure and re-ensure if possible that nothing is causing violence or harm anywhere along the path. If there is, we must try our best to adjust ourselves accordingly — to take a different step along the path. In category theory, this particular dilemma or scenario might be best named by the idea of a “dagger-category”. It seems as though many new and important worlds of study open up alongside it. Since it is an additional structure on top of categories, a dagger-structure is often considered to be evil. To wit, it encodes certain equations on otherwise free-moving objects and in so doing breaks “neutrality” as we begin to think non-violently.

Daggers become increasingly important at this stage as we return to the fundamental facts of non-violence again and again, continually exploring and enlarging the possibilities available to us.

dagger category is a category \mathbb{C} equipped with an involutive, identity-on-object functor: \dagger\colon \mathbb{C}^{op}\rightarrow\mathbb{C}.

In detail, this means that it associates to every morphism f\colon A\to B in \mathbb{C} its adjoint f^\dagger\colon B\to A such that for all f\colon A\to B and g\colon B\to C.

A dagger category is a category-with-involution, with envolution contained within itself.

When it comes to satyagraha, the idea of “envolution” is in all actuality better understood as this sort of “pseudo-involution”. It is an involution with certain properties (namely those of identity-on-object) affixed to it. For this reason of (ultimate) identity, is intimately related to Buddhist enlightenment (note, of course, the “en” prefix) and non-dual awareness, and also to the idea of moksha in Hindu traditions, namely Sikhism and Jainism. In particular, these categorical steps approach infinity-categories just as (I am speculating…) one approaches an infinite number of higher states consciousness made available with extended meditation and yoga. The goal of enlightenment would be such that such a sustained compassion would become a “primary structure” of thought and action in the course of Life.

The normally unspoken difference between a pure envolution (what Grothendieck, himself a Buddhist practitioner, simply calls an “actual involution” at the level of infinity-categories) and a “pseudo-involution” at the level of 2-categories or satyagraha is the same difference arising between Buddhism and Gandhian thought respectively. This difference, however, may sometimes be exploited to the inverse of both in the service of weaponizing the “dagger structure”.

In these instances, like Zen at War or trends of religious violence and abuse of spiritual authority generally, the dagger is taken out of its proper place in the “spiritual” sheath. Those who are otherwise near to an original understanding of nonviolence may conceptually assault one another to an end which forecloses upon the openness of its Love and therefore also upon Life. Then, the problem of “evil” or other related problems become the justification for future violences, particularly in dominant Christian logics.

Grothendieck recognized this in Pursuing Stacks with his trope of innocence, though here he put it lightly:

There are some choices “neater than others”, indeed.

We find that problem arrives in that the double-structure of the “dagger” is still at work in giving rise to the possibility of a truly non-violent satyagraha. A considerable degree of self-purification must used by the practitioner of non-violence at all times. Ironically, the “dagger” thereby ensures that the concept of satyagraha remains non-violent. It encodes satyagraha with the property of non-violence through a certain self-purification.

Quite literally so: Gandhi’s idea of non-violence was most essentially conceived as a result of his encounters with the Sikhs and Jains in their struggles.

The sixteenth squad of martyrs of five hundred Singhs started from ‘Sri Akal Takht’ on the 17th April, 1925 A.D., Before that Squad had reached Gurdwara Gangsar, Sri Malcolm Heely, the Governor of Punjab gave approval to the Gurdwara Act on the 11th July, 1925 A.D. All the Akalis were released on the 27th July. Freedom to hold ‘Akhand Path’ at Jaito was obtained after one year and ten months.

The struggle ended in 1925 with the passage of the Sikh Gurdwara Act. In the last 5 years of agitation for regaining control of their places of worship, 30,000 men and women had gone to jail. 400 had been killed and over 2,000 seriously wounded. The political results were far reaching. The British lost forever the support and loyalty of the Sikhs. The struggle for independence continued, and Sikhs made a tremendous contribution before independence, the Sikh community was only 1.1% of the total population of India. What they achieved is nothing short of phenomenal.

Gandhi was there, watching when the Sikhs were struggling to regain control of their Gurdwaras, through non-violent means. Indeed he admired their courage and their tactics, sending congratulatory notes on more than one occasion. One such telegram dated Jan. 19, 1922 and addressed to the Sikh leadership, read: “The first decisive battle for independence won. Congratulations.”

Sikhs carry with them at all times a kirpan as a matter of observing one of their five articles of faith.

Etymologically speaking, kirpan has two roots: kirpa means “Mercy, grace, compassion, kindness” and aan, which in turn means “Honor, grace, dignity”. In this way, it notably carries the same hybrid structure as satya and agraha, albeit with a different sense. As a result, Sikhs embody the qualities of the Sant Sipahi or saint-soldier. To carry the kirpan in the proper fashion means to fight first and foremost “the enemy within” ourselves.

Without the origins of satyagraha in this Sikh article of faith in the kirpan, without understanding its profound significance, there was no way for him to ensure that the radical musicology of the hybrid “en-” prefix ever takes hold in the heart. We could not find a way to consider a “generic morphism” in a dual or otherwise synchronous way; we could not be able to take any non-violent first steps at all. In other words, in absence of the dagger there is no way to determine whether our understanding of satyagraha in fact corresponds with Life itself, or if it is just another instance of categorical violence.

Any violence of the dagger is not, as Gandhi wrote, a failure of the law of Love itself, but of the fallible human animal who is prone to act violently. In other words, it is the failure of the one who does not successfully fight off his “demons” as it were. The Sikhs demonstrate a peaceful manner of living with the presence of the dagger, and we must therefore look to them for wisdom in carrying it properly.

Gandhian satyagraha seeks to distance itself from all weaponized language, including the discourses of combating “evil” and “sin”. In doing so, it must recognize that there is a certain kind of violence which can in fact be considered appropriately within the generative ethos of non-violence, as though it were an additional structure of thought. We call this the presence of the “dagger” and it serves as a non-violent pre-condition for the development of the systemic logic of (enriched) category theory and therefore its satyagraha.

Perhaps in most cases, this dagger is in fact carried peacefully like the Sikhs teach us, but whenever there is too much force carried in a given concept or category we may say that this category becomes both wielded and weaponized. It is this idea which prevents a dangerous nuclear enrichment, the dropping of bombs conceptual or otherwise, and

All categories, including weaponization itself, seem to have the ability to become weaponized. However, some categories – like satyagraha - actively seek to resist the possibility of this violence due to their internal tension and their serious holding-to-truth, and a more construct aware enaction of a pure non-violence emerges as a result.

It was important at the time of the Indian struggle for independence, for instance, that when Gandhi constructed the term satyagraha it was an entirely new term subject to his own essential definition. Other terms such as “pacifism” or “civil disobedience” were already to some degree or another weaponized in unfortunate ways. Perhaps this came as a natural result of their own expedited thinking and missteps. We have now in our view a certain idea which arises of nuclear disarmament, bomb-diffusion, de-compression or de-escalation of conflict in the world as well as in our categories that they may no longer be loaded.

Let us follow the example of our Sikh friends, and look deeper into the meaning of the “dagger”.

Let us try to look further into the pure source of nonviolence within us.

The Nuclear Mysticism of the Pants of Life:

What do we do with our recognition of the “dagger”?

How are we to wield this “dagger”? How exactly do we ultimately prevent such a weaponization from occurring? What is it that otherwise escapes higher category theory? It is not something that is exclusively in the domain of mathematics; it cannot be entirely encompassed by any present form of mathematics to my limited knowledge. It persists in the non-mathematical and non-physical side of Life, implicit in the humble doings of, say, thoughtful mathematicians like Zalamea among many others. Is it perhaps Life itself?

What is Life, anyways?

It is a question to be pursued in our greatest humility guided by both Truth and Love, as we come to feel its gravitational pull on us. It is the same question to which Erwin Schrödinger gave the answer: aperiodic crystals. He tried to explain the storage of our hereditary information, in its inner structure. Molecules he understood were simply too small, whereas the “amorphous solids” were far too wild and perhaps we might say chaotic. Thus, he settled on a kind of “crystalline” structure, but specifically one with certain key properties to it. Namely, it had to be a-periodic. The helical structure of DNA was soon discovered, and, although not exactly crystalline in this way, it possessed similar kinds of properties.

Of course! How could we forget our many repeated adventures to the alchemical salt-point! The conceptual primacy of the salt-point!

Yet, this does not answer the question of “What is Life itself?”

We can only hesitantly give, by way of our wandering expedition, a certain salt-like idea which speaks to its forever-emanating Form as we receive it, to its categorical container within our Body as we perceive it, or to our collective experience of it in a generative (en)closure. The idea of salt-point is only there as though it were a thematic feature which serves to remind us to re-direct our focus to the question of Life itself when we are unsure. Contrary to Schrödinger, we recognize that it is certainly not the answer to his question. Nor, therefore, is satyagraha which is the manifestation of the salt-point. Nor, therefore, is category theory which maps its internal logic.

According to Nils Baas, category theory may falter precisely on this question of Life itself.

Nils Baas has been emphasizing for many years, in print and in private communication, the conviction that the usual notions of n-category, infinity-category, omega-category in higher category theory are not naturally suited for describing extended cobordisms such as appearing in the tangle hypothesis in extended quantum field theory; and hierarchical systems such as appearing in complex systems and biology.

There is a rather important discussion emerging on mathematical biology started by Nicolas Rashevsky and his student Robert Rosen on the question of category theory as applied to biology.

Rosen returned to Schrodinger’s unorthodox text towards the end of his own life and, recognizing the radicality of the question, began his own exceptional piece Essays on Life Itself by suggesting that we need to live in a universe sufficiently large enough to deal with the question. This requires an increase in the number of dimensions open to our thought. In the same way, satyagraha works only when it is enacted in the humble service of Life, when it corresponds frequently with Life. At the infinite boundary of satyagraha, we define the conformal boundary which is Life itself. In a word, satyagraha is like the “space-time” of Life.

As Gandhi writes: Where there is Love, there is Life! 

A concrete example of a “dagger” category can be found in the notion of “cobordism” as shown above. The term “bordism” comes from French bord, meaning boundary.”Bordism” is  the study of boundaries. At present, we are interested in the boundaries of Life at the limits of satyagraha.

Cobordisms tend to be hyperbolic in shape, as in the above morphing of two circles into one. At the “waist”, its shape is rather like a nuclear cooling tower with its large pant-legs anchoring it below the surface to the fleeting ontological essence of Life. This image reminds us that the weaponization of the “enrichment” process is a bit more remarkable than we had originally imagined, and that discourses of “evil” run contrary to Life as does the dropping of a nuclear bomb.

These extended cobordisms are “compact-closed” categories which occur “in nature” that are not-quite-categories after all. Here, there is certain effacement or fusion of the distinction between “source” and “target”. As a “dagger” category, they break the principle of equivalence-invariance and in so doing give rise not only an originary non-violence in thought, but also the problem of “evil” and its violences if one is not enlightened sufficiently. Thus, in lieu of “enrichment” Life as we experience it in our mind and memories may evolve (or envolve) by way of a certain nuclear fission-fusion hybrid. The Pants of Life gives us to think of our unique circuit-contingent experience in the course of Life itself, which is a measure of the quality and quantity of our personal Experiments with Truth.

Wearing the Pants of Life, we progressively come to engage with the many questions of Life itself. If this engagement were itself a category it might be called the “nuclear ideal” like the fulfillment of Salvador Dali’s impossible dream of nuclear mysticism. This is the abstract matter of Life, with its underlying hyperstructure. Life itself, like a generalized conformal field, the weighted limit of satyagraha, would then be considered a “nuclear functor” in this gravity.

Satyagraha, as a gauge-like concept that is itself perturbative or approximative of Truth and Love, seems to point us simultaneously forward to non-perturbative string theories as well as backward towards early-Hindu, Sikh, and eventually Jain ontologies. Satyagraha and Life thus correspond with one another like the gauge-gravity dualism in AdS/CFT correspondance to ensure the other is continuing and enfolding along the horizon of envolutionary progress.

At last, Life leads us to topological quantum field theories (TQFT) in pursuit of a more clear and complete understanding of the gravity of the ancient Hindu question: What is Life itself?

Jainity of Jainities, all is Jainity!

What is Life itself? In some ways, the answer is on the side of mathematics itself; while in other ways, it is, and it is not entirely on the side of the abstract practices of physics or mathematics. Whether we are string theorists or monks, is it in fact the mystery of Life itself which strikes us the most? In some ways, it is, and it is also not entirely the “mystery” of Life, but rather simply Life itself. Therefore in some ways, it is, and it is indescribable…

Read Gandhi: There is a unity of life and a unity-of-means-and-ends. To him, all life is sacred. Yet, in some ways it is not quite “sacred”, and it is simply indescribable…

Read Feyerabend, who re-states it a bit better: There is an abundance of Life. Yes, we may say that in some ways, it is indeed sacred, that it is indeed not sacred, and that it is indescribable. There is an abundance…

Read also Gregory Bateson, who perhaps said it best:

The point… I am trying to make… is that mere purposive rationality unaided by such phenomena as art, religion, dream and the like, is necessarily pathogenic and destructive of life… it’s virulence springs specifically from the circumstance that life depends upon interlocking circuits of contingency, while consciousness can see only such short arcs of such circuits as human purpose may direct.

Most astonishingly of all, we may experiment to find an extended cobordism which comes to look roughly like what Jain texts describe as the shape of the Universe: “A man standing with legs apart and arms resting on his waist. The Universe according to Jainism is narrow at top and broad at middle and once again becomes narrow at the bottom”

Finally, we are given to think of Jain ontology, just as we had figured out in struggling to answer the question:

  1. syād-asti—in some ways, it is,
  2. syād-nāsti—in some ways, it is not,
  3. syād-asti-nāsti—in some ways, it is, and it is not,
  4. syād-asti-avaktavyaḥ—in some ways, it is, and it is indescribable,
  5. syād-nāsti-avaktavyaḥ—in some ways, it is not, and it is indescribable,
  6. syād-asti-nāsti-avaktavyaḥ—in some ways, it is, it is not, and it is indescribable,
  7. syād-avaktavyaḥ—in some ways, it is indescribable.

To avoid weaponization, then, we must maintain a robust hybridity that demands we frequently re-trace our steps so as to not lose sight of either satyagraha or Life in the process. We must somehow ensure that they correspond with one another at all times.

From the Sikhs, we may learn that to ensure that this communion happens a certain “dagger” must encode an additional structure of self-purification upon our use of categories to guide the practitioner. From the Jains, we learn more in detail how to actually carry out this process through an extended humility in the face of the question of Life itself. Ultimately, the answer requires that we remember to look into the essence of Life, what it actually is. 

At last, we may take this cobordial shape as the last side of our modelization or desired “objective externality” of non-violence from inthesaltmine.

Related Posts:

8 thoughts on “Sikhing Life: Jainity of Jainities, all is Jainity!”

  1. Hello. Interesting brief of nonviolence; I didn’t know there was a critical theory of it.
    I should begin with a skepticism: life is violence. It seems that, at least from this post, that it is recognized as a problem. It seems to me, though, that it approaches from a position that then must be argued ‘back down’ from, so to speak. I am not very acclimated to mathematical type formulae, symbols and such that support the verbal argument; I am just not so geared that way. But I get the jist, and then from your explanations.
    It appears that one might be able to reflect upon oneself, as to his actions and words, so as to mitigate or lessen the violent aspect inherent of being human. I would say that such a discussion is granted upon a position where violence is already problematized, as a given problem, so then the motion is then the considerate attempt to reel in the potential to its minimum.
    I think it is revealing in the formation and presentation of argument that one makes a ‘point’. The dagger you speak of. Because of the ever present situation of violence, one could then use the dagger as a scalpel, surgically applying precise cuts to the ‘diseased body’ that is ubiquity of life, so to minimize what violence is done.
    Perhaps I should add that at times overt and direct violence is the best method to subvert future potentials of violence. A shock value, a sudden kick to the senses of dialectic sleep of discursive violence, is itself a violent act; a tough love for the sickened.
    But it seems that this type of prescription stems from a particular type of ‘vehicle’ of understanding life. That this vehicle gains its truth from a lesser vehicle that does not require such corking of natural effervescence, since what is natural then is a perversion of the meaning such nonviolent activity aims for. For what is violence? It seems only for the existent for whom violence is a problem will wish to solve it. Such a solution then reaches out to those who are aware and unaware of the violence, so as to procure a best path for both.
    If I may take your disclosures your have given to me, it seems that the vacillation would indicate to you a certain violence involved, as it should. The question that developed for me concerned how I was able to comprehend the violence when my purpose stemmed from love, from a desire to forfill loves re-quest. I suppose my idealistic heart needed to punish itself in order to understand what violence really is.
    In reading your post here, I cannot help but feel something that i cannot quite put into words at this point; its as if the ‘direction’ or the ‘vector’ of meaning is opposite the way I would formulate it. “…A certain dagger must encode an additional structure of self purification…”. This appears quite cumbersome to me, weighty and unwieldy, like I would forever be unable to enact such an ‘encoding’ but would always have to be ‘conscious’ of my propensity for violence, thus have to be aware of myself at all times. To me this seems contrary to the ‘spirit’ of nonviolence, even aggravating to its purpose. It seems that what ‘is’ is already encoded to a specific rendition, a particular orientation of what ‘is’ is. Life is violence, but If this is the case, then as much as I am nonviolent, I am denying that I live. This is not to say that I should try to be violent, but perhaps that I am not ‘accepting’ of what life is, in so much as I have to attempt to enact a procedure to be nonviolent.
    But, I may be missing some nuances to your essay.

    1. There are many theorists who work at the intersection between Gandhi and “critical theory”.

      People like Jonathan Schell, for instance, consider Gandhi and Hannah Arendt as the only two consistent thinkers of non-violence and justice. Fair enough, let us assume they are right. It is true, after all, that they are thinking in a “this-worldly” way which is clearly in touch with “reality”. That is very important. I have very much respect for those who, like you, hold firmly to this kind of negotiating-this-reality mentality especially when it concerns issues pertaining to non-violence and justice. I often will emphasize it myself, and go to great lengths to prioritize this kind of thinking as opposed to my own, when arguing against prevailing conventional Christian logics. This world would be better off with many more people who are like you in this regard — I am very sure of it. As you know, Nietzsche developed this kind of gravity-critique very powerfully. However, the strength of the Arendt/Gandhi pair is that there is not this menacing will-to-power bit lurking in the background. It opens the space for things like truly “imaginative solutions” and “constructive programmes” respectively. So, yes, with you I would presumably share, despite what I am seeing as our emerging differences as to what is in the final analysis “reality”, a generically non-Nietzschean view of non-violence. This is a very good thing, I think, so thanks be to Laruelle, I’d say. We have more positive similarities that can be developed from simply this point of convergence (which very few seem to ever arrive upon) than in any of our other potential disagreements — however fundamental they may prove. Let’s see if we can take a deeper look…

      Recently, your insightful posts have been showing me a few things about myself, perhaps which have long been known to me intuitively but not with such clarity as I am seeing here, namely that despite all of this talk about radical immanence, my MO remains precariously “other-worldly” in its weight. It is not exactly like that of Leo Tolstoy, with the idea of “active reconciliation” in view, nor is quite like the Arendt/Gandhi pair, nor is it a “revolutionary non-violence”. I do think it is rather new, while still containing elements of the old. Perhaps to you I am in bad faith insofar as I use the language of satyagraha. But that assumes a political reading of Gandhi (via Arendt’s idea of polis) perhaps not too far from that popularized by Gene Sharp, while mine appears a more spiritual one and so risks all of those violences. I do not think there is necessarily any bad faith from here on forward, so long as I am open to others about being rather “other-worldly”. Precarious is definitely the right word here; it describes well my uncertainty. I feel pulled to the peace of the “other-worldly”, but alas I and my body live in “this” one. You know, this is probably the first time I have honestly confessed as much publically without any desire for its concealment. For all the critical distance I have sought to put between myself as a preacher’s kid and my Christian background, at least formally I nevertheless share much in common with Christians and Gnostics given this “other-worldly” mentality. It is there in me even if I wish to resist the Christian, dualyzing logic and hold dearly to a markedly non-Christian posture. Yet, due to the question of identity, I’m also in a decidedly non-Buddhist space (e.g. no “third way”, no Brahman=Atman, etc.). I think this may in large part be due to all of the continental thought I’ve read regarding “the Other”, for better or worse.

      It is very tricky at this point — for what space do I have left on which I could possibly stand? The island beneath my feet (call this your “reality”) is rapidly shrinking due to the Ocean waves eroding my sand-castles away. You can maybe see how the prospect of the “other-worldly” grows as that of “this-worldly” shrinks. Why does mine shrink while yours doesn’t? It is about acceptance, and perhaps that is a function of my youth. Maybe someday I, too, will have to punish my idealism and stop playing in the sandbox. Maybe some direct violence will shock me, as maybe it has you… (?) But as for now I find it difficult to think otherwise, for whatever reason. We have been over this already. In any case, I have placed a certain critical distance between myself and philosophy, Marxism, psychoanalysis, atheism, Buddhism, Nietzscheanism, etc. and even Laruelle himself by basically “non-”ing everything back into the Ocean, seeing it all as fragmentary in various ways instead of accepting them otherwise as you do. Hence: an ethos of wisdom/gnosis (and you are quick to note the problems of community in “this-world”), and the “vanity of vanities” lament…

      Yet, I also “non-” Christianity, so my response is not an unbound vanity which requires salvation or pure messianism. Only partially so, since Vanity becomes more like Jainity. There seems to be a non-vanity, too, a reason for optimism in a world full of violence, however small it shines. I do think that I’ve found (in both senses) a certain space on which to stand in “this world”, while still welcoming the “other-worldly”. This is like a generative enclosure within being, established through continually reflecting upon the question “What is Life itself?”. It is often a lonely space, perhaps, filled with much solitude, but I do feel I have happened across one. Perhaps that will change, but as of now I think it is found in all places where there is a continual correspondance between Non-violence < ---> Life itself, including and especially those who do have a “this-worldly” view of things. There remains, for all of my generalized “non-acceptance” of reality (which is becoming a recurring theme in your responses, that my stance is generally non-reality), a certain acceptance reserved for the multiplicity of particular forms of life, like the Sikhs and Jains or any community (including certain subsets of the aformentioned “non-”ed) which rallies around the category of “non-violence” in their own creative ways. It comes also with meeting people like you, in relationality and in our dialogues together.

      It makes much sense, then, given all of this, that I’m now dealing mostly with concepts like moksha in the Hindu tradition. Alongside R. Radhakrishnan, Ashis Nandy remains one of my favorite post-colonial theorists. Himself a “non-believer” (he was raised in a Christian Bengali household) and a kind of “neo-Gandhian” mystic, Nandy speaks of the “inviolable core of Indianness” which might be an interesting concept to consider in this discussion. While he does something similar as I do with abstracting categories, he nevertheless chooses a more Christianized category (e.g. that of “suffering”) to focus his attention upon whereas my selection is that of “violence”. I am sorry to throw out random names like this, but I mention Nandy and Radhakrishnan because they sometimes employ the concept of “tacit axiology” which might help us to communicate better. I wrote an early blog post on the issue when I was just beginning inthesaltmine, I think. Maybe here is where you and I differ on the subject of negotiating the “this-worldly” and mediating the “other-worldly” — and what are the differences between them, anyways? Is it a matter of difference in degree, as though this and other are attached by a temporal string? Or is it something else, a difference in kind? Etc. This might be a worthwhile conversation for us to have.

      Perhaps you can successfully demonstrate that my thinking on non-violence is not consistent with “reality” or “this-world” as it were. That is, of course, what you basically just did in your post. Fair enough, let us assume you are right. I tend to do this with the Gandhi/Arendt types as well, typically deferring to them on questions of justice for all of their tried and true experience when compared to my youthful inexperience and error. I will even support you in saying as much. I agree, for instance, about “the shock value of direct violence” — but even still I would not be willing or able take part in it, preferring perpetually to seek out alternatives. Yet, I maintain in this post that if they are taken as consistent thinkers of non-violence then they are “inconsistent” on the meaningful questions of Life itself in all of its fleetingness. I struggle also with the “a-” prefix which is involved here, as I am with your use of “a-philosophy” or “a-theism”, finding it too negatory, like the same hard “neg-” as in negotiation. This is the challenge I would like to pose to you: to reflect upon the question “What is Life itself?” Perhaps you would wish to rephrase this as “What is True Life?” or philosophically we often ask the question “What is the Good Life?” Maybe these questions are misguided, and perhaps it is a non-challenge. Yet, I think to simply say that “Life is violent” is to do from my view an injustice to this question in all of its importance and meaning for us as humans. Is it not more accepting to say that “Life is life” and “Violence is violence”…? In a way, this would imply I am more accepting of Life than you, which means in turn (to you) that I am more accepting of all of its violence. Surely then you are more consistent on the question of Non-violence. But there is still the question of Life, its mystery, etc. Precisely because as a human I feel that there is a weight to this question in particular, I do not begin with such a skepticism. I think, however, that it all bursts forth from Life itself. Put otherwise, any success that non-violence has is only because it is in harmony with the rhythmns of Life. Perhaps it is contrary to the “spirit” of this this-worldly, and so also politicized non-violence, but then I maintain it is not in fact contrary to that of (“True”) Life itself which unfolds far more slowly and silently. This gets us into a difficult space of contemplation, where we must be careful to make appropriate distinctions. I think this conversation can take hold better in your blog because of your talk of True Objects. I do have a response for you incoming over there, eventually…

      ALl in all, my perspective is not quite as “heavy” that of Christians when it comes to balancing the weight of “eternity” versus the weight of a single lifespan, since it is more about an “eternal” present, and as such maybe I’ll suggest it is a bit more long-term oriented than yours. I’d like to think, as mediator, that I arrive at an appropriate balance between “this” and “other” worlds, and where I falter it is because I am out of balance somewhere. This position may be a bit unwieldly for most of us in this-world — you are not the first to use that word in your response to my view, by the way. However, even still I think that with a practice of humility and self-purification, with a certain awareness of self, that this truth becomes significantly easier to carry in the world. One may carry it merrily, even, just as I tend to carry myself most of the time – with a peaceful smile. By disposition, “INFJ” if you will, I find it difficult to work with the more “tough love” or even “stoic” types (like the Arendt/Gandhi non-violence types) — again for all of my respect and esteem for their work. They get much done in “this-world”, they do in fact and in truth enact much justice. As such, my approach clearly runs the risk of delaying the present justice (and so, as they say, in the same gesture denying it) insofar as I personally grapple with this non-acceptance of this “reality”. Yes, mine is definitely a “weighty” procedure — you’ve successfully understood me, if that was your task. You have me pegged the right way, as they say. For me it is indeed about, as I said in another post, these “weighted colimits” of Nonviolence and Life and their correspondance. You and I seem to “calculate” these weights differently, and so our emphases differ accordingly. Or, perhaps more accurately, you do not wish to calculate it at all, the “a-philosophical” of which you speak, and so you are more about the non-vehicular, non-barometric, etc. This would be an acceptance of life as it is, yes, I can certainly see that in you. This would probably imply that my challenge to you would be positively resisted in the spirit of Nonviolence… but what happens to Life itself in the process? What happens to that of God? What happens to personality?

      You can see now why I enjoy the friendship of the Quakers, as George Fox writes: “Then you will come to walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in everyone.”

      All my best.

      1. In no way do I mean to negate or deny that reality needs to be negotiated; I think you have gathered that much from me (obviously, since at root, you and I are negotiating- lol) But somehow it seems to me that I have different idea of what such key terms (of negotiation) mean. Through much trial and error (probably mostly error, but then trials of those) I guess at some point I came to the acknowledgment to myself of this case; opinion or interpretation always seemed to leave me, um – still ‘kicking against the pricks’ so to speak.

        By the way; I don’t know if I would say I’m developing an aphilosophy; more that aphilosophy is particularly a rebuttal against non philosophical method. The idea of method is key here; I am unsure, have not reached a conclusion, if methods achieve anything but a complicity and a continuing progress of reality. I am pretty sure that conventional methods get us nowhere (where is everyone going -and so fast!) At first, before I had ever heard of Laruelle, I wrote a silly essay called ‘aphilosophy’, wherein I developed a kind of wordplay in rejection of what is typically considered philosophy, what I call ‘conventional methodology’, as method toward truth, what I later saw Laruelle also, but his much more thorough and precise, developed against philosophy (I hold to the legitimate ‘philosophy’ where Laruelle calls this ‘non-philosophy’.) Finding Laruelle held quite a significance for me when I came across him. In reading Laruelle, and then having a discussion with one Taylor Atkins, I found that what I intuitively understood of Laruelle upon first reading, was not understood or seemed to be not understood by someone who was much more informed as to his terms, as they develop a method, as if someone can learn a method by which to then act non-philosophically. So I decided to stick with the term aphilosophy to denote a sympatico with non-philosophy as a basis for critique: a critique I still think is the only valid critique that can be made once having understood that non-philosophy is in-the-last not so much a method but rather an explanation of primary experience, Laruelle’s in particular. Sure it is a method, but in the sense that there is a philosophical object: in reality one must negotiate objects. As non-philosophy: a unilateral duality is a duality where one includes the other and one excludes the other: his ‘philosophy’ excludes: objects ‘decide’, or are based upon a prior decision. Well,no need to go in to all that right now.

        As to the question of life itself: at this point I can only say that it is nothing more than the meaning we have of it. The difficulty involved with this question is similar to the discussion I am having along “issues and existence” in my blog with another blogger; his blog “Big Story Guide” takes us through the whole Bible, with commentary about the Big Story. The question of what life itself is seems to me to somehow resonate with ‘what is your big story?’, which our discussion has developed along lines of him asking me what I would say my big story is. After a while of discussion, the question came around again, and I was finally able to give him a version of what my ‘big story’ could be (its in one of the replies in that thread): here is a slightly different version:

        At some point consciousness arises to awareness of itself. This awareness is coincident with discovering objects, or the world, that is separate from oneself. Consciousness functions by creating meaning. Because the basis of the functioning is to make sense of the world, there is no getting beyond the ‘making of meaning’, since whatever meaning is made of it, is merely more making sense of objects, terms. Yet, we cannot but make meaning, including meaning that frames within frames within frames – the effort of consciousness of ‘behaving’ separation that allows itself, because that is its function – that appears that we are describing actual truths of the universe, but at most, we are merely expressing the truth of any moment.

        But this is merely one way to speak about it. The issue as I see it is how to be consistent with oneself in reality, ethically. The nonsensical solution is you already are – but then why might I think I am not? This is the non-philosophical and aphilosophical situation. The solution is, as I put it, not real; Laruelle appears to have a more conventional solution: as placing the ‘non’ in the ‘actual’ positive: the Real, the ‘one-in-one’ or ‘vision-in-one’, as if there is some ‘more real’ individual subject at the heart of it all: only in reality is this true. Hence his method; hence the aphilosophical rebuttal. I am closer to Badiou it seems at times.

        Strangely enough, I needed no analysis or contemplation to understand the non-philosophical unilateral duality because, in one frame, there is obviously negotiation of philosophical objects that result in apparent progress, and in another, there is the explanation that accounts for the philosophical real progress, Laruelle’s ‘Real’.

        In one way, aphilosophy is the impossible expression that the world is what meaning I have of it, but without excluding what meaning you may have of it, because what meaning you have of it is the ‘previously’ unaccounted for aspect of ‘me’ in existence. Aphilosophy is at root, a rebuttal.


        My wife is very involved as a educator in critical race theory, and empowering marginalized learners to agency in a educational system that is ideologically oppressing them. I am quite familiar with the need and moral necessity for negotiating progress toward human justice. Non-violence I see has a complicity with this type of human education.

        My issue, I think is that I do not feel that I have a problem with being non-violent or violent. Sure, I may be ignorant so far as I may act within anachronistic ideological structures, but I am open to learning. As I say, we all must negotiate reality and this by attempting to remain concordant with some ‘higher’ ethical standard, which I do feel is human justice.

        Yet I treat existence; it would be unethical, or at least inconsistent with the truth, to claim or argue to one who would ask that social justice is the purpose of life; for, what happens when everyone is ‘equal under the law’? The most nonviolent activity I might do I sit until I expire; but then perhaps I am being irresponsible to that ‘other’ that is ‘me’. . .? But I can only be responsible in the manner that I am able.


        In Ram Dass “be here now”, he describes a holy man of a village he goes to who sits, and the people tend to all his needs because he is enlightened. Someone must be with him at all times the villagers say because he might just disappear, so enlightened he is, so tentative to this world his substance is. At times, if he wishes to interact with someone (I think) he eats oranges to develop karma.

        I always though this picture was a good thought experiment.

      2. Nonviolence I imagine would be an innate capacity, whereas life as violence, a real situation. It seems your approach is a move to bring the real back into what is innate – if I can frame it that way.

        Calculation. Your arguments appear sound to me; I can follow your line. It seems somehow, though, that you are not satisfied with what they mean, like, their meaning as force of argument is not sufficient to bring you to accept the bridge it offers, as if the argument may actually prevent you from actually crossing that bridge.

        I guess you are correct; I am not so geared to calculate results from definitions, I suppose. Hence I think why Laruelle’s dictionary of nonphilosophy seemed to me so much extraneous and misleading gratuity. As if I could or would want to calculate his meaning from an assemblage of his definitions; I am pretty impatient with people gnashing things together to come to some conclusion about the truth; their arguments are too easy to rip up. Besides, what is real I already know and or find out, and it’s pretty interesting, but the claims of such methodological arguments to truth just reveal to me the authors’ ignorance and self righteousness, and, if it is reveals the same fault of mine, I tend to have compassion on them in the end. The authors that talk or assemble ‘from’ the truth have significance to me; those who assemble ‘towards’ the truth are too easy to shred, because they are invested in a future that never exists except in faith.

        The first thing I read of Laruelle, like the first few paragraphs, I already knew his whole bit. When I read his dictionary the definitions made sense, and I already knew where they might lead, or rather from where they stemmed. I can’t account for that, really. There was no book research I did to amount to my then understanding him so completely and intuitively. I mean, the only accounting I can do of how that came about is that he had the same or similar experiences as I have: the results are obvious and necessary. Perhaps you have had a similar experience? I too in reading Logico-Tractaticus knew right off what Witt was going to say, again, retroactively because I intuitively knew he must have had the same experience. The same with a few other authors. The issue was how these guys were putting the issue into terms, what angle the were taking, but also how it could be possible to understand them with no prior priming or educations about what they have to say.

        It seems that way when I read you also, that you have had the same experience; but then I don’t really know this. It is interesting and quite stimulating to interact with someone who introduced himself as someone who was ‘of the few’. I always figured maybe someone would, but I figured it would be in the extreme minority, the few, and maybe not even while I was alive.

        But I am not that well read; I read very slowly. But I might be interested in many of the authors you talk about. For now, I have to stick with Wikipedia, but that’s just lame, I know.

        Buenos Noches.

  2. (Part 2) yes perhaps I missed a nuance. It seems that you indeed are saying that the weapon, the move to progress I could say, need not be ‘of the progressive tambre’ so to speak, but can be tempered with humility.
    Still; it seems a weighty procedure. Perhaps I may be being obstinate though. ;)

    1. On the subject of Fox, by the way, one of the concepts he employs is that of “tenderness”. We are after all talking about temperaments. That also helps in contrast to the “tough love” you mentioned. It is something I will have to work on if I am going to be able to communicate with you better, because I am somewhat of a “tender” person. If you are being obstinate, then surely so too am I in my own ways…

      And maybe that is precisely your “point”, with a wink, that I come to the negotiating table with certain non-negotiables…

  3. (Part3) it seems my time for editing posts expires quickly, so I’ve had to make new replies. Lol.
    *I enjoy you knowledge of what appears to me as Hindu terms. I am lacking in this knowledge, and I feel that I need to investigate the Hindu/Buddhist/Vedic type terms, for I am sure that they are saying much that needs be discussed in the context of my work also. I wonder if you know of a good source for such knowledge?

Leave a Reply