Existenzial Inflections

From Simon O’Sullivan:

“In relation to an explicit politics, this non-engagement with the affective complexities of life means accelerationism offers only a partial picture of the issues and problems at hand, and, indeed, of their possible solutions. For capitalism is not just an abstract inhuman agency ‘out there’, instantiated in forms of technology, and so forth (that is, as a supra-molar entity). It is also “in here”, producing our very subjectivity on what we might call a molecular level. Capitalism goes all the way down, determining our affective states, as well as our very desires, dreams and the contours of our inner most worlds. Subjectivity, then, is not solely a rational business in this sense or, at least, those aspects not involved in the project of reason are also crucial to our sense of who and what we are, or, indeed, what we might become.

Any subjectivity ‘beyond’ capitalism (even one produced from within the latter) will have to deal with this, and, indeed, get involved in the whole complex mess of being alive, not least addressing the various affective tonalities that capitalism engenders(from an omnipresent ambient anxiety, to resentment and depression, to all out paralysing fear). It will not be enough to take on, or commit to, a new set of ideas, or put our faith solely in technological progress, subjectivity has to be produced differently at this level. This is not to say that giving attention to this area is the most important aspect of any ethico-political project today, but it is to say that without an account of (and experimentation with) the affective production of subjectivity (very broadly construed), any diagnosis of the problems produced in and by capitalism, or strategy to deal with them (including a renewed Prometheanism), remains too abstract (or, remains abstract in only a partial way).

It is important to note that this does not imply the reinstatement of a phenomenological self that experiences the world (an individual that has the affects) nor, a straightforward vitalism that is pitched against a colder abstraction. Affects, or becomings,  are themselves abstract. They take the subject out of themselves, or they involve the irruption of something different,  non-human, within the subject (when ‘human’ names a very particular historical configuration and self model).Indeed, molecular encounters, that might well involve the biological and chemical in conjunction with the technological and digital, produce unforeseen compounds that themselves are generative of other forms of thought and, indeed, themselves determine what thinking itself might become.”

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