︎ Bodies of Thinking and the Fascist Affect

March 12, 2022

Over the long-term, there are two main philological lines with respect to what knowledge appears to be "doing": one line emphasises the aspect of "organising a body of facts or teachings", the other – presumably quite a bit older – relates knowledge to the happening or having of "sexual intercourse".

How to relate such intimacy of knowledge with its publicness?

When we take seriously the new-materialist idea of knowledge as being situated and engendered, then we cannot metaphorically think of knowledge in terms of "building", "canon", or in general any kind of "corpus" – dead, silent, determined, serene. Rather, engendered and situated knowledge is active, there is a quickness to it, an interiority and an embodiment. How to address this? We often refer to knowledge now in terms of "networks", "fields" or "discourses", but none of these are very well capable of acknowledging a scale of interiority, an aspect of autonomy, that would pertain (impersonally) to knowledge. What i want to consider here instead is to think of knowledges' quickness in terms of how it actively co-habits with knowledges in impersonal bodies-of-thinking, abstract but at the same time elemental and tempered. Each a public place - a place engendered by and through the active co-habitation of knowledges. Such public places embody (architectonically speaking) an ethos. They are neither fully undetermined (capital, body-without-organs) nor asexual (pure form, powerful-because-individually-impotent, neither fertile nor productive, but prescriptive).

How to think this? Two lines will be guiding my proposals:

In their quest for an ethical role of feminism in a mode-of-thought-to-come that would not unfold in object-centric formalism, nor in a subject-centric logic of the sexed dyad, Luce Irigaray and Catherine Malabou (among others) remember the tradition of thought in terms of place-making and material "elements" (Irigaray's elementary kind of being-in-touch (con-tingency), and Malabou’s plasticity). With respect to such thinking, there is a re-cycling kind of abundance of distinctness and likeness of bodies and their places; nothing, really, is ever at its proper place here.

The second line follows the ambition to make a place where the "fundamental affects" (of which Descartes spoke) and the monist materialism of affect sub ordine geometrico (of which Spinoza spoke) could co-habit together in one and the same body-of-thinking.

(Vera Bühlmann)