Conclusion Three Endings

  • Simon O’Sullivan
Part of the Renewing Philosophy book series


In place of a conclusion I want to offer three different endings.


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  1. 1.
    See Chapter 2, pp. 46–7.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    See for example Asger Jorn’s Open Creation and its Enemies (1994) (Trans. F. Tompsett) (London: Unpopular Books) for an example of this ‘counter-knowledge’, in this case involving the construction of an alternative scientific system.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Antonio Negri in Time for Revolution (2003) (Trans. M. Mandarini) (London: Continuum), agues convincingly that the construction of a people also involves this future orientation. For Negri, this creative opening up to the potentiality of the future begins with naming (Negri 2003, 147–58). An interesting comparison might be made between Negri’s act of naming, and the work of art. A crucial question here would be whether a people can be called into being without a linguistic utterance (i.e. through a bloc of sensations that is irreducible to signification).Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    As Williams remarks:Google Scholar
  5. By ‘Residual’ I mean that some experiences, meanings and values which cannot be verified or cannot be expressed in terms of the dominant culture, are nevertheless lived and practised on the basis of the residue — cultural as well as social — of some previous social formation … A residual culture is usually at some distance from the effective dominant culture, but one has to recognize that it may get incorporated in it. This is because some part of it, some version of it — and especially if the residue is from some major area of the past — will in many cases have been incorporated if the effective dominant culture is to make sense in those areas. It is also because at certain points a dominant culture cannot allow too much of this practice and experience outside itself, at least without risk. Thus the pressures are real, but certain genuinely residual meanings and practices in some important cases survive. (1980, 40–1)Google Scholar
  6. Williams goes on to outline the sources of what he calls ‘Emergent’ cultures, whilst at the same time alerting us to the importance of ‘very precise analysis, between residual-incorporated and residual not incorporated, and between emergent-incorporated and emergent not incorporated’ (Williams, ‘Base and Superstructure in Marxist Cultural Theory’, in Problems in Materialism and Culture: Selected Essays (1980) (London: Verso), p. 41). Although this particular inside/outside paradigm of political thought is increasingly open to question, it nevertheless remains an important point that any given present is made up of a multiplicity of ‘times’ each with their own specificity and potentialities.Google Scholar
  7. 5.
    Paul Ricoeur puts this well in his essay ‘Life in Quest of Narrative’, in On Ricoeur: Narrative and Interpretation (1991) (Ed. D. Wood) (London: Routledge), pp. 20–33. For Ricoeur this mythopoetic function, as I have been calling it, is to be understood as a world produced by the literary text, and specifically the reader’s involvement with that text:Google Scholar
  8. the sense or significance of a narrative stems from the intersection of the world of the text and the world of the reader. The act of reading thus becomes the critical moment of the entire analysis. On it rests the narrative’s capacity to transfigure the experience of the reader … To speak of a world of the text is to stress the feature belonging to every literary work of opening before it a horizon of possible experience, a world in which it would be possible to live. A text is not something closed in upon itself, it is the projection of a new universe distinct from that in which we live. To appropriate a work through reading is to unfold the world horizon implicit in it which includes actions, the characters and the events of the story told. As a result, the reader belongs at once to the work’s horizon of experience in imagination and to that of his or her own real action. The horizon of expectation and the horizon of experience continually confront one another and fuse together. (Ricoeur 1991, 26)Google Scholar
  9. 6.
    We might understand Richter’s Abstracts as traitors in this sense. Traitor paintings for traitor-subjectivities.Google Scholar
  10. 7.
    As Deleuze and Guattari remark in the plateau ‘1730: Becoming-Intense, Becoming-Animal’:Google Scholar
  11. Our first principle was: pack and contagion, the contagion of the pack, such is the path becoming-animal takes. But a second principle seemed to tell us the opposite: wherever there is a multiplicity, you will also find an exceptional individual, and it is with that individual that an alliance must be made in order to become-animal. There may be no such thing as a lone wolf, but there is a leader of the pack, a master of the pack, or else the old deposed head of the pack now living alone, there is the loner, and there is the demon. Willard has his favourite, the rat Ben, and only becomes rat through his relation with him, in a kind of alliance of love, then of hate. Moby-Dick in its entirety is one of the great masterpieces of becoming; Captain Ahab has an irresistible becoming-whale, but one that bypasses the pack or the school, operating directly through a monstrous alliance with the Unique, the Leviathan, Moby-Dick. (ATP 243)Google Scholar
  12. 8.
    Although not within the scope of these concluding remarks an interesting project would be to locate Barney’s complex Cremaster cycle of films within Deleuze’s film ‘history’. For example, the notion of opsigns and sonsigns would seem to be particularly pertinent in relation to Barney:Google Scholar
  13. Pure optical and sound images, the fixed shot and the montage-cut, do define and imply a beyond of movement. But they do not strictly stop it, neither in the characters nor even in the camera. They mean that movement should not be perceived in a sensory-motor image, but grasped and thought in another type of image … the pure optical and sound image, its opsigns and sonsigns, are directly connected to a time-image which has subordinated movement. (C2 22)Google Scholar
  14. This time-image, and the break with the sensory-motor schema (i.e. narrative) involves:Google Scholar
  15. the rise of situations to which one can no longer react, of environments with which there are now only chance relations, of empty or disconnected any-space-whatevers replacing qualified extended space. It is here that situations no longer extend into action or reaction in accordance with the requirements of the movement-image. These are pure optical and sound situations, in which the character does not know how to respond, abandoned spaces in which he ceases to experience and to act so that he enters into flight, goes on a trip, comes and goes, vaguely indifferent to what happens to him, undecided as to what must be done. (C2 272)Google Scholar
  16. This is not to say that the Cremaster films abandon the movement-image altogether. Indeed, we might say that a film such as Cremaster 3, although involved in opsigns and sonsigns, also stages a kind of hyper movement-image, or even an absurd one, in its programmatic direction (the climbing of the Chrysler building, the overcoming of the ‘architect’). 9. A very recent example of this kind of practice is John Bock’s ‘Retrospective’, Klutterhammer, at the ICA London in 2004, which stages less a survey of previous works than an idiosyncratic and chaotic collection of the artists’ influences, from art works to pop culture, presented in an equally idiosyncratic series of home made buildings and passages. As Bock remarks in relation to the show: ‘This is my history’ (2004).Google Scholar
  17. 10.
    See also Kodwo Eshun’s account of Sun Ra’s myth-science in his essay ‘Synthesising the Omniverse’, More Brilliant than the Sun: Adventures in Sonic Fiction (1988) (London: Quartet), pp. 154–63. As Eshun remarks, Sun Ra’s myth is one of the posrhuman:Google Scholar
  18. Soul affirms the human. Ra is disgusted with the human. He desires to be alien, by emphasising Egypt over Israel, the alien over the human, the future over the past. In his Myth-Science systems, Ancient Africans are alien Gods from a despotic future. Sun Ra is the end of soul, the replacement of God by a Pharaonic Pantheon. (1998, 155)Google Scholar
  19. For a further exploration of this myth-science in relation to science fiction and ‘Afrofuturism’ see Last Angel of History (1995) directed by J. Akomfrah, distributed by Black Audio Film Collective.Google Scholar
  20. 11.
    Again Kodwo Eshun is interesting on this point as it relates to the music of Sun Ra. Here he is from the aforementioned essay:Google Scholar
  21. Traditionally 20th C science sterilises all myth: myth starts where science stops. But the recording medium acts as an interface between science and myth. Every medium opens up a continuum from technology to magic and back again. Magic is just another name for a future, an as-yet unknown medium, a logic identified by both Arthur C. Clarke — ‘Any sufficiently advanced technology becomes indistinguishable from magic’ — and Samuel Delaney: ‘At the material level, our technology is becoming more and more like magic’ Ra’s Myth-Science extends the technology magic continuum into sound. (1998, 160)Google Scholar
  22. For Eshun new technologies, and specifically musical technologies, from synthesisers to turn tables, open up new worlds. See also Paul D. Miller’s Rhythm Science (2004) (Massachusetts: MIT Press) for a parallel account to that of Eshun’s. For an interesting example of myth production in relation to new technology see the activities of CCRU as they appear in Mute magazine and at See also CCRU’s essay ‘Who is Pulling Your Strings?’, in Frozen Tears (Ed. J. Russell) (2001) (Birmingham: Article Press), pp. 329–45.Google Scholar
  23. 12.
    Brian Massumi has attended to this complex utilisation of affect, specifically by the mass media, in two recent papers, at the Neuroaesthetics Conference at Goldsmiths College, London, and at The Ethics and Politics of Virtuality and Indexicality Conference at the University of Leeds, both in 2005. To drastically reduce the complexity of Massumi’s argument, we might say that the media increasingly operates on a self-consciously affective register — as a kind of nervous system — utilising the temporally indeterminate aspect of the event as singular point in an ever expanding exercise of power (what we might call a colonisation of the virtual).Google Scholar

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© Simon O’Sullivan 2006

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