© 2021 François Laruelle
In _Philo-Fictions_ 2 (2009), p.7-15.
Translated by Jeremy R. Smith[^1]
Download: [[Laruelle 2021.pdf | pdf]]
_To Muriel Mambrini-Doudet_
**Abstract:** As an exercise in philo-fiction, how does one multiply several means with one another, such as fiction, philosophy (which is already by itself ‘imaginary’), a certain scientific (quantum) use of the imaginary or complex number, in order to access an object that is no longer locatable within one or another discipline? Multiplication here is a case in reciprocal translation of two discourses under certain conditions. These conditions are called generic: they allow for the creation of entities with a double-face or double effect according to the way chosen to be repeated as regulating the functioning of the ensemble. In this way, because of this dissymmetry, philo-fiction is not a blend of styles nor a literary fiction about science or philosophy, nor a scientific and positive reduction of philosophy. Philo-Fiction is perhaps one of the only possibilities of invention that can succeed the exhaustion as much as the excess of philosophy. What we call non-philosophy completes or is consummated within this type of invention that finally reciprocally liberates the possibilities of philosophical discourse and scientific discourse.
**Keywords:** undulatory, superposition, tunnel effect, transcendental, immanental, generic man.
Non-Philosophy comes just after the crashing on the shore of the last wave which, according to Foucault, carries away the sand figure of man. Our thesis is that this wave in its withdrawal does not erase man without letting a new figure appear. Like all philosophers, Foucault describes an archaic war of elements between land and water. We ask if a special, more scientific, complementarity of elements is possible and not a treatise of provisional peace imposed by the victory of the ocean. Rather, we ask if a new cooperation of land and water is possible, and if we can hope for a new figure of man among land and water or, if you will, among animal and grace. It is at least utopia or fiction that non-philosophy works upon, as a heritage of the latest great revolution of physics, the better intelligence of man than mathematics is.[^2]
What is the best use of the water, the drowning, the swimming, the navigation, intoxication, and baptism? How does one take on a wave, enter it, and exit it? What distinguishes a philosopher as a transcendental swimmer, as someone hallucinated as in the water, and finally, the white whale and the water-fish? What distinguishes these four things: the description or the painting of a wave, the noematic lived-of-the-wave of the swimmer, a quantum superposition of undulatory phenomena, and the lived experience [*le vécu*] of a water-fish?
## Portrait of the philosopher as a transcendental fish
Let there be a wave. Seen from above and from the sky, the wave is an object that possesses at least two faces: an ascending slope from whence it emerges and rises from the passive depth of the ocean, and a descending slope, the front of the wave, from whence it is said to ‘fall-again’ [*re-tomber*] through a curious repetition, since it had not already fallen a first time as this wave. Insofar as it is a wave experienced by the swimmer, it ceases being an indifferent bi-face seen from above to be precisely lived as this duality of an ascending slope, whose immanence carries the swimmer, and a falling front, by which it falls (again) with the swimmer who thus partially objectivates it. The wave that falls (again) is for the swimmer a semi-object that they cannot perceive in a fully ecstatic way but that the swimmer crosses by struggling against and with the wave. This swimmer who has their head both under and outside of the water is the transcendental swimmer who follows an undulatory movement and the swimmer sees the wave as a baptism ordained by the divine personage, the Ocean.
Who would then be the fully generic swimmer or wave? A very special form of identity of the swimmer and the wave: the water-fish, one that billows [*ondulant*] with or within the undulations of the wave. We will say in quantum terms that the wave and the fish are superposed within and through their undulations. Superposition is a principle that is valid for the concrete of the wave and the abstract of the wave-function, which is mathematical. Superposition is not a total or partial identification, but a special addition that qualitatively produces a result of the same nature as its terms, or what is idempotent. For example: two concepts are not superposed, but occupy a different space and exclude or encroach on one another within an amphibology. However, a wave and a swimmer under the water can stop struggling by superposing themselves, both occupying the same space without harming each other on condition that the swimmer remains at water-level. If the swimmer’s head is outside the water, the swimmer transcends the water all by remaining partially immanent to it. Then, the swimmer is transcendental. The water-fish is generic or idempotent: it is superposed with its element according to a certain relation called ‘imaginary’ or ‘complex’ whose algebra has the rule [*loi*]. The water-fish goes head on into the water like a person who is hallucinated as drowning, at once straight ahead [*tout droit*] and caught up in the vortexes that ‘return’ them.
Why straight ahead? Undulation is oriented from the slope of amplitude towards the falling front that comes last and closes the sequence. Realistically, the falling front is a completion or a scansion, not a closure over itself. Undulation is constantly thrown back [*relancée*] : it always has some movement, movement to go further. It is linear but at the point of being able to cross its own undulations or to interfere with them. Being like a fish in water is both passing through and crossing undulation straight ahead through a tunnel effect proper to generic means, a tunnel effect typical of undulation, or again like the quantum particle crossing through the mountains and already detectable on the other side. There is indeed a chain of mountains or undulations, but there is also the seismic shift that crosses these mountains, making them rise and be displaced. This is what characterizes the seismic character or the undulatory shift that will have to be thought of as generic.
## The birth of the tsunami, undulatory distance and the tunnel-effect
Neither the water-fish, which is the ocean fashioning itself as subject, nor the ocean itself, ‘throw themselves into the water’ [*se jette à l’eau*]. Here, there is no subject pro-jecting [*pro-jetant*] a space before it to eventually be reflected or drowned within it, to be baptized there as a transcendental, with the head under water and outside of the water alternatively. A lived experience posed as undulation obeys no projection or phenomenological distance. Its structure is not difference or internal objective distance, division, nothingness, or the abyssal void. The wave-subject is full and filled with itself, constantly in progress with filling but without exceeding or lacking itself; the wave-subject can only be added or multiplied by itself. This is the birth of the tsunami and its subject, the water-fish.
The philosophers have their wave and their ocean: it is always a matter of navigation along the coasts, or marking the ‘spots’ [*fixes*], or the fear before the high seas that one interiorizes along the edges, that one aestheticizes and metaphorizes. The physicists also have their wave and ocean with the undulatory principle of superposition by which they go beyond the sublime spectacle, the sea always begun once more, the flat and scintillating calm. Quantum mechanics can explain the intensity of certain exceptional waves that send ships to the bottom. Let us imagine a quantum phenomenology of the tsunami, a decoherent phenomenology of the Great Wave. It will have two principles: superposition, which constitutes and conserves the tsunami; and non-commutability, assuring its exceptional character and inequality with other waves. Phenomenally, it is each time a wave, proximal to its energetic quantity. This unique wave is neither the oceanic whole of undulations – the body of the ocean-without-waves or the infinite plain – nor an individual undulation, the part of a whole or subsumable under a whole. It is the generic wave, once each time a wave. It concerns a Same that is neither purely analytic (it is not contained within a given wave) nor does it produce another. This monstrous growth is neither molar nor molecular. There is a *parousia* of the water within the tsunami, but it is not the parousia of Being; its law of formation is quantic and not philosophic. In several ways, it is possible to oppose the calm philosophical sphere of Parmenides, whose Heideggerian ‘envoys’ of Being are the ultimate barely sheepish echoes, and a thought as a tsunami that comes from nowhere. Heraclitus is perhaps the first thinker of the Giant Wave. It is true that we never bathe in the ‘same’ river twice but only once, in the river of the Same, the Amazonian river named the ‘Same’. Only once, already, under the strict condition that the bather themselves becomes a very special wave that they alone can assume, at once a wave among the multiplicity of others and the governing wave, determining their dynamic. This figure of the philosopher as the transcendental swimmer is still the figure of the speculative swimmer who occupies the current of ‘life’ [*la « vie »*] or the highest of eidetic flows. However, since they Platonize or Hegelianize, since they borrow from the air flows rather than the waves, the most celestial swimmer always remains transcendental or is in struggle with the wave. Within the swimmer is the wave that begins by becoming a subject. There still remains a last stage to cross, a swimmer capable of occupying the whole space of the ocean, the im-mense wave having become the Last Wave [*Dernière Vague*]. This is the swimmer that is this time called ‘immanental’ or, again, the water-fish.
The essence of the tsunami resides within the phenomenally invisible property of crossing a multiple of half-wholes, indeed quarter-wholes, but never a complete Whole, like a ray that would only cross the half-droplet and never an entire droplet as the philosophers imagine. Most philosophers know and practice a certain minimal phenomenological distance that conditions the appearance of a mundane phenomenon to the subject. This distance towers [*survol*] over a gulf or bypasses an abyss, suturing the two banks of the river. Let us oppose this to what we call the undulatory distance that is a half, then a quarter of the distance, a division carried out not on the length but on the thickness of the distance. Like a distance between two peaks or two successive troughs, a semi-ecstatic distance, the amplitude of an undulation does not go along its peaks and troughs, it does not borrow their own movement to make a trajectory (as does a particle of matter), but seems to soar over them though immanently. If there is a special soaring-over within the wave, it is not geo-stationary and, therefore, circular like the soaring-over of the concept by itself. Rather, it would be oceano-stationary, both finite and unlimited: the wave towering over itself and crossing itself. The dynamic of the amplitude neutralizes the excess of transcendence in one direction [*sens*] or another, ascending and descending from one side and the other along the midline [*ligne de moyenne*], which is like a sort of waterline [*ligne de flottaison*] [^3] of the wave along the ocean. Undulatory distance is an indivisible but immanent by-passing, immanent to the diversity of peaks and troughs. There is a materiality of excess but not of lack as within philosophy (the undulatory trough is not a lack, but an amplitude or makes up a part of the amplitude). Undulatory distance is not made through suture, for there is only a suture along the banks of nothingness or transcendence. Rather, undulatory distance enchains the amplitudes through their immanent crossing, completes them without ever closing them: it is a tunnel effect from immanence through any obstacle. The half-whole and, what is more, the quarter-whole tower over themselves perpendicularly without ever collapsing [*se perdre*] each other: this is the secret of the tsunami and its immanent force of propagation and absorption. The tsunami is a passive thrust, an undulatory earthquake [*un séisme ondulatoire*]. Phenomenological distance does not cross its nothingness; it is its underside, the underside of the band (hence the transcendence within the Möbius doublet), while undulatory distance is an immanence that crosses the obstacle of the Möbius band. It is why the essence of the tsunami, when it is seized by the lived and tears it from the individual, is a throwing [*jet*] that generically crosses through the linings of the ego or the cosmic wall that redouble one another. Undulatory idempotency is not content with remaining the same against the wind and tide of the world or Being. This is because it is the wind and tide that comes from No Where, from the Banklessness [*Sans-Bord*] of the ocean that it elevates to a myth, imposing itself as the impossible or imaginary measure that exceeds the imaginary itself.
As soon as idempotency makes up a superposition or undulation of whatever property, and as soon as it is interpreted phenomenally, it becomes a formal materiality. Thus, the undulatory as the before-first jection cannot be a conscious intentionality but an inekstatic, unclosed jection that is propelled in a transfinite way. The wave does not displace matter: it is materiality’s displacement of a form within the matter of the world, ‘transformation-in-person’ (idemmorphism). According to Bergson’s impeccable formula, it is an *élan* that runs through [*traverse*] matter,[^4] except for this nuance that it is about the *élan* of the lived rather than the *élan* of life. We will add that if philosophy does not stop turning itself around things including willing ‘the eternal return of the same’, then the generic quantum places itself in a state of immersion (Dirac’s Sea) to find the right environment [*le bon milieu*], the Same. In particular, the water-fish, as long as we imagine it inhabiting the tsunami, is what finds the most adequate environment such that it is no longer condemned to inhabit it. Philosophy turns to the Same as a circle, but the wave is a Same without a circle: all alterity is annulled by idempotency, which is a demi-circle but neutralized or not developed; idempotency can be indefinitely prolonged. If philosophy sutures with a bridge the two banks that it confounds with the river, the wave within its seismic thrust is a tunnel effect rather than a bridge effect, crossing secretly [or underground, *souterrainement*] the mountains of water that dream of hindering it.
Within the history of the ‘evolution’ of the philosophizing species, the strictly human-stage (whose model could be the water-fish) has been preceded by the philosopher-stage strictly speaking. The philosopher has traits of the primordial (but not the most primordial) animal, striving to exit its first element, the water, attempting to swim to ‘dry land’ to find foundation and dwelling there, an inexplicable motivation if not by a phenomenon of ‘decoherence’ or a process of transformation of a quantum nature. It is true that it is impossible to ground anything solid or ‘*inconcussum*’ along the water, and otherwise, philosophy begins with the ‘burial’ [*enterrement*] of this question. Descartes in particular had experienced it and made an effort worthy of the first fish who attempted to exit the water and to stand up on their two legs: thought and being. Yet the being-undulatory, as water or sound, is associable with different forms of matter and can provide an ampler model of the process of thought. For the swimmer, the wave is opened in-before-priority and the swimmer closes it through occasion. Superposition is then no longer an act of self-surmounting (like the will to power), and furthermore, not a transcendent or speculative *eidos* that would remain an *a priori* invariant despite and not only through the diverse phases, but consequently an act that crosses itself through the right angle [*angle droit*] or vertically. Waves or undulations are not the phases of an object posed *a priori* within a classical space of trajectories. Automorphism has become an idemmorphism, the quarter invariant through immanence.
Our undulatory and anti-Cartesian myth breaks the symmetries that would subsist within or outside of the transcendental or speculative *eidos*. The invariancy is made unilateral or non-commutable. Integrally physical and positive, it is enough for the water-fish to glide [*glisser*] along its algebraic or idempotent form so that it becomes thought and lived, not merely an object of mathematization. The matrix of thought is always with three terms: it is transcendental if it is philosophy, or transcendence is redoubled, but it is no longer transcendental if it is the quantum or undulatory superposition that is repeated: it is then immanental. With this hylomorphism of the algebraic form that makes up the lived materiality of superposition, allowing to take the lived, rather than life or the geometrized object, as matter, it concerns a phenomenology of-the-last-instance: it is lived and nevertheless objective in an immanent (algebraic) way. It is the completion or accomplishment of transcendental baptism.
The water-fish is the messiah of the ocean. The water-fish needs more than the closed space of an aquarium. The water-fish needs more than the lived experience of the swimmer’s wave, even if they had Captain Ahab’s spyglass. The water-fish needs more than the closed enclosure or the ring of an accelerator. The water-fish also needs more than the waters of Lake Tiberias.
[^1]: Any and all errors are my own. – Trans.
[^2]: In English, *l’homme* can be translated into multiple ways: either as man, the human, mankind, humanity, person, or even simply as one. In this context, I have chosen to follow *l’homme* as man here, for the first sentence references Foucault’s famous concluding statement of the figure of man as a “face drawn in sand” (*The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences*, New York: Vintage Books, 1994, p.387). – Trans
[^3]: A water line is the meeting point of the hull of a ship and the surface of the water. – Trans.
[^4]: I have chosen ‘runs through’ in this instance of *traverser* to follow in line with Bergson’s statement, *le courant qui traverse cette matière*, translated by Arthur Mitchell as “the current that runs through this matter.” See Henri Bergson, *Creative Evolution*, trans. Arthur Mitchell (Mineola: Dover Publications, Inc., 2018), p.238. – Trans.