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January 25, 2013

The Topos of the Earth @ CUNY, The Center for the Humanities

I will be talking at CUNY, the center for humanities on February 21, 6:30pm:

The Topos of the Earth:
Telescopic and stereoscopic visions of the abyss-in-one

Yoneda-Pinocchio.jpg
Yoneda construction of Pinocchio

'What are the implications of locating the topos of the earth within a cosmological continuum', 'what does the local have in store for thought', 'what does it mean to be local or regional', 'where am I, where do I come from, in what direction do I proceed', 'how do systematic decisions and rational orientations with regard to local methods and exigencies shape the navigational dynamism of knowledge', these questions constitute one of the most central aspects of the modern system of knowledge, namely, the problem of localization. It is by way of inferring the topoi of knowledge or locating sites through which the world can be thought and the space of the universal can be navigated that the germinal edifice of knowledge expands its frontiers. Whether as the space of the concept or the particular cosmological horizon that brings about the possibility of thought, the local outlines the navigational task of the philosopher with regard to analysis and synthesis, committing to worldly problems and speculating out of this world. Only through a systematic approach to the question of localization is it possible to embark upon a non-trivial philosophy of analysis and synthesis. Furthermore, a modern understanding of the local allows a more thorough examination of the valence of various epistemological tools and modes of inference as normative methodologies for the navigation of the space of the concept qua a local site.

Since the modern system of knowledge is understood as a multi-modal system of navigation endowed with universal orientation, the question of the topos or the site of the local is linked to the question of epistemology and knowledge both in its analytical and synthetic dimensions. It will be argued that the local - like the global - is not an a-priori given datum. Instead the determination of the local is a procedural task always threatened by the impotency of the generic perspective and the localist myopia of the particular. We shall argue that the task of localization needs to be understood as an oblique procedure that operates by means of certain 'perspective operators' and 'epistemic mediators'. These perspective operators or navigational tools are able to interweave depth and surface, the generic and the vague (particular) and diagonally connect the diachronic to the synchronic (telescopic view), or cohere various depths such as the scientific and manifest images of the local (stereoscopic vision) so as to bring into focus the local and determine its relation to the open, the space of the Universal or the real. The dual task of 'focalization' and 'depth-tracking' of the local constitutes the panorama of what should be called a vertiginous enlightenment - i.e. inferring the horizon of the local from both generic-to-particular and vague-to-generic, universal-to-regional and regional-to-universal perspectives. The vertiginous enlightenment is but the reading of the local according to and within the abyss.

The aim of this lecture is to examine the problem of localization and its imports for a speculative cosmology and an ultramodern understanding of the system of knowledge through the theoretical appropriation of two pivotal concepts: (a) Homothetic variations of the local and (b) Yoneda addressing (built on the concept of Yoneda lemma in topos theory and category theory). These concepts assist us in studying the problem of localization in the wake of the vertiginous enlightenment and a new definition of the local: The local is now defined by its continuously unfolding ramified path structures and alternative addresses. That is to say, the local cannot be approached via any conception of given fixed coordinates. Since the local is not invariant under topos-inference, every act of localization finds the local site within a new set of coordinates because each telescopic and stereoscopic inspection into the topos of the local unlocks new addresses and brings to light contingent path structures, further distancing the local from its spurious roots that try to strictly demarcate it. Therefore, we can say that the local is defined not by its roots but by its ramified path structures into the open and its ever-changing alternative addresses which unravel as it is telescopically and stereoscopically determined and brought into focus. An understanding of the local via its alternative addresses and contingent sidetracks should be interpreted as a concept of non-ineffable depth through which the open, the universal or the real freely expresses itself in the local and the local ramifies into the open or gains traction upon the universal. It is this depthwise definition of the local that simultaneously diverges from Nietzschean-Heideggerian and Deleuze-Guattarian variants of a true-to-the-earth philosophy toward a geophilosophy as a local thought procedure whose topos is a true-to-the-universe earth.

Details: February 21, 2013, 6:30pm | The James Gallery

Posted by Reza Negarestani at January 25, 2013 11:40 PM