Theses on Reason, Faith, and Unknowing
To say ‘there is no God’ is not to express a proposition in a pre-established logical syntax, but to begin thinking again, in a way that is radically new, and therefore utterly experimental.
— Nick Land, The Thirst for Annihilation (still my favorite book of all time)
1. My fundamental conviction is this: If God is real, then I’m in Hell. I can come to no other conclusion. Nothing else makes any sense.
But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. (Rev. 21:8)
There is no lake of brimstone and fire…
Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire. (Jude 7)
This isn’t like Sodom and Gomorrha.
And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:28)
I have no soul. The soul is a concept that has been completely foreign to me for the entirety of my life.
2. I have an inability to have faith in things…
We can have faith, or we can take offense. What we cannot do, according to Kierkegaard, is believe by virtue of reason. If we choose faith we must suspend our reason in our order to believe something higher than reason. In fact we must believe by virtue of the absurd. (“Søren Kierkegaard”)
Abandon reason for faith? But by what means? What pushes us to the conclusion of faith rather than reason? Reason alone.
To the presuppositionalists: that “God” means anything to you, that “God” has a unique status as a truthmaker, that “God revealed it to me” means anything, all of these thoughts come way by reason. That something all-powerful could do anything is something concluded to by reason and logic. That “a rock” and “God” have any difference in regards to their effectivity as truthmakers only rises out of a supposition, not of God, but of reason and logic. The believer (in God) is first a believer in reason, for if they were not, they could not identify any “leap of faith,” they could not differentiate between the statements “A rock revealed it to me” and “God revealed it to me.” Inquiry is regulated by the law of reason. Reason is seemingly supreme! THERE IS NO ABSURD!
From Fear and Trembling: “Faith is the highest passion in a human being.” If so, then I am devoid of passion, not an ounce is within me, nor even the smallest thought I think.
Reason is not my God, for there is no God. The movement from “Reason is no my God” to “for there is no God” is a movement of semantic substantiation, of semantic constitution, so to speak. Reason propels that movement, not God. God is absent from my mind, for God does nothing but propel thought away from reason through reason, and therefore God propels nothing, does nothing, achieves nothing, fails miserably.
There is one question God cannot answer: “Why?”
3. Is Land correct in saying “Kant’s critical philosophy is the most elaborate fit of panic in the history of the Earth” (The Thirst for Annihilation 2)? I’d say so. But, it is a fit of panic which has no been induced into me (the logocentric predicament induces such things; this is the consequence of reason being put into crisis).
Land says, “It is thus that successfully adapted, tranquil, moderate, and productive reason monopolizes the philosophical conception of thought, in the same way that the generalized robotism of regulated labour squeezes all intense gestures out of social existence” (The Thirst for Annihilation xiv). For me, reason has led to movements of intense ecstasy and power. “Eureka” is the expression of such intensity.
Bataille, for both Land and I, “has done more … to obstruct the passage of violent blanks into a pacified oblivion [than anyone else]” and in doing this, his movements have led to “awaken[ing] the monster in the basement of reason” (The Thirst for Annihilation xvi).
Libidinal materialism, in its earliest of “formal conceptualizations” (the first contractions of it as a disease), was destined to come into conflict with any form of rationalism (e.g., neorationalism): “[libidinal materialism] can only be suffered as an abomination, a jangling fo the nerves, a combustion of articulate reason, and a nauseating rage of thought” (The Thirst for Annihilation xxi).
Kant’s methodological criticism is necessary. “The critical philosophy exposes the ‘truths of reason’ as fictions, but cunning ones, for they can never be exposed” (The Thirst for Annihilation 1). Reason is of “an irreal world beyond all possibility of sensation,” reason is of a world “which is absolutely incapable of entering into material communication with the human nervous system,” reason is of “a separated realm” (The Thirst for Annihilation 1). Is reason itself not “a divine kingdom [italics mine]” (The Thirst for Annihilation 1)?
Skepticism stems from critique, this is without a doubt the case.
Libidinal materialism opposes Kant and holds that “increate matter is anarchic, even to the extent of evading the adoption of essence [which] is why Schopenhauer considers the principle of sufficient reason or logicality of being to have a merely superficial validity” (The Thirst for Annihilation 9). Is being logical? It may be. It may not be. Ultimately, the only path to knowing such a thing is the path of reason.
Expenditure contra reason. That is a movement that Land continues to recognize.
4. Reason is triadic: a. Reason b. Reasoning c. Reasons.
Reason is either something in-itself or a faculty, and it is reason’s being put to use that is reasoning. Reasoning is a production process. The products are reasons. Critiques of rationalism from the anti-productivist side of things may seem entailed here. But is this actually the case? “By definition, excess is external to reason” (Bataille Œuvres complètes X 168). Or is it? Is expenditure actually contrary to reason? Reason is a part of my very being in a certain sense. Expenditure then would be the undoing of reason? Precisely! Bataille was always somewhat of a mystic, speaking of inner experience as inexplicable because experience is too dirty for the system of semiotic control that language is.
The production process of reason interpellates reason into being through reasoning leading to reasons. Reason is a cybernetically positive process that is runaway but not catastrophic (for itself at least, reason undoes fallacious belief as long as logic follows it wherever it goes).
5. “Reason is rotted to bits in sponge-space, because all the polar concepts which provide its structure depend upon the repression of scaling differences” (The Thirst for Annihilation 166). However, reason isn’t soluble. Lurking in sponge-space until it is read to rise up once again, reason reminds us of a soldier hiding in the water, waiting to strike (Apocalpyse Now anyone?).
6. Nick Land has no misunderstanding of reason in The Thirst for Annihilation:
There is — in the end — no reason to delay beginning upon one’s death, even though such a delay is reason itself. (185)
But, then he says stuff like this: “Being (conservation) is the essence of utility and the highest principle of reason. Fiction, on the contrary, is loss” (The Thirst for Annihilation 186). Reason has been the source of all my woes.
Here in the loft space of the inner edge there is no end for words
they meander through the cluttered strip
these mutant insects violently blinded and driven on
by motors humming in darkness
once maggots heaving themselves from the carcass of reason
fat with venom
they rave for me. (The Thirst for Annihilation 205)
7. Faith is done with — fideism is folly. What is left is just reason… right?
Mysticism seems to be a common alternative to fideism: There is a reason I believe in X, the issue is that it is not expressible, one can only experience it!
Music continues to push me beyond anything I could ever experience (eroticism has nothing on music!).
Despair is not a motif of theology, but a lacuna within it. It is neither disbelief, or doubt, both of which involve an ambivalence in the application of logical signs to an ontologically petrified thesis, but an unknowing so radical that it both escapes the scope of any possible epistemology and lacks all doctrinal intelligibility. Despair cannot be defined as a claim, hesitation, denial, or uncertainty. It is an abandonment, and a plea without conceivable destination; a desertification resulting from the catastrophic disappearance of the value of being. Despair is not humble, but hubristic, and it is not pious in the least, but tragic. (The Thirst for Annihilation 82)
Mysticism can also be called intuitionism. “It is just my intuition that X is the case.”
Ultimately, mysticism is going to suffer less than fideism, which is a continually failed attempt at the positivification of absurdity. Mysticism has nothing to do with absurdity, but rather with dirtiness: “Purity conditions the a priori, which hypostasizes time as such, which in turn idealizes intensity” (The Thirst for Annihilation 118).
A quick lapse into the skeptic catharsis that is critical questioning will wrap things up with mysticism: “Why are our intuitions mechanisms of justification? Are you still not following reason here by saying that you experience is conclusive of anything?” Mysticism is only “re-forged in the celebration of the death of God” to become a mysticism without mysticism, Bataille’s mysticism (The Thirst for Annihilation 18).
Bataille’s mysticism has issues, which I’ve pointed out before (see my recent work on the theoretical primitive and its relation to both theology and atheology). But, Bataille’s mysticism is probably the conclusion that follows the logocentric predicament. Rather than head toward supposed auto-justificatory intuitions, leaps of faith, and reason (including logical reasoning), Land and Bataille opt for the other way out: radical ignorance, the death of philosophy (of thought and belief). We always return back to radical ignorance. It is not surprising then that the only somewhat tenable solutions that have been put forth in regards to the logocentric predicament have all been Kantian. No wonder some consider Bataille to be the only postcritical philosopher (in the sense, Bataille is the only one to elude the exactness of Kant’s methodological criticism)! Transcendental idealism vs. base materialism? Who wins? I can’t say yet. What I can say is this: God is on the way out (per usual), if not already in bin!
8. If I end up back where I started, with Bataille, the ultimate irony will have played out: I will have started in completely ignorance and returned back to ignorance. Circularity takes hold around the neck, and tightens: choked to death, I would surrender to unknowing…