The long history and rich contribution of Cultural Critique to the world of critical thought makes me feel both honored and moved by its decision to provide a forum for a dialogue with esteemed scholars around my latest book, Epistemontology. For their interest in and support of my work, I am deeply thankful to the journal's editors: Cesare Casarino, John Mowitt, Simona Sawhney, and Maggie Hennefeld.
I am equally honored by the participating scholars' lavish devotion of time and labor in engaging with my work and offering their extensive and thought-provoking review essays. My grateful appreciation to you, my interlocutors, for your active interest in this work and for your inspiring thoughts: Simon Hajdini, Justin Clemens and Joe Hughes, and Warren Montag.
The full title of the book in question is Epistemontology in Spinoza-Marx-Freud-Lacan: The (Bio)Power of Structure—an already long title, since it includes a descriptive subtitle (in Spinoza-Marx-Freud-Lacan) that is awkwardly stretched further through a colon by yet another subtitle, itself saddled with a dubious parenthesis. Yet, this indecorous extension made the cut, as it showcases epistemontology's thesis about the two inextricable sides of being—structure and power—while also pointing to the ambiguous propensity of the latter as both affect, intensity, or jouissance, and as biopower.
To spell out a bit more of epistemontology's main thesis, let us start with its most rudimentary definition of being. Following Spinoza, being [End Page 100] is both the power of self-actualization and everything actual—or, being is the power to actualize itself and the product of this actualization. As the power or potential of self-actualization, being pertains to eternity; as actual product, being is in time. And, since everything that exists is both this actual being and its power of actualizing itself, everything pertains to both time and eternity. Next: everything actual can be determined (which means both produced/constituted and conceptually defined) in two ways, either negatively or positively. Addressing first the negative way, there are two kinds of negative determination, one pertaining to time as diachrony—for example, I am here today, but I was not here yesterday—and another pertaining to time as synchrony—for example, today is the day that is defined in its negative differential relations with all past or future days. The latter negative determination is what we know since structuralist linguistics as (synchronic and negative) differential relations, which are the relations in which the elements of any structure are determined. In other words, everything actual in time is constituted both as a being in diachronic time—as the effect of transitive causes—and as a being in synchronic, differential (structural) relations with any other beings ever. In their double aspect of negative determination, diachronic and synchronic, actual beings are the power of actualizing themselves as countable beings, whether in terms of diachronic units or of structure. Therefore, we could call the power of self-actualization in its aspect of negative determination "structurality," that is, the power of structure to actualize itself—a process that, as Gilles Deleuze has aptly put it in his "How Do We Recognize Structuralism?," is accompanied by the actualization of diachronic time, or, more accurately, of the diverse temporalities or rhythms in which the elements of virtual coexistence are carried out in actuality. Conceiving things in terms of these two negative determinations, diachronic and synchronic, corresponds to Spinoza's first and second kinds of knowledge (imagination and reason), respectively. By contrast, the third kind of knowledge (intuition) has as its object being in its positive determination—being as the excess to the countable and to what can be known in terms of any negative determination. Note that by this excess to knowledge and any form of value (countable), I do not mean the unconscious, since the latter is nothing other than a structure. Rather, this excess is the power of being to actualize itself as sheer (noncountable, nonformalizable, nondiscursifiable) [End Page 101] intensity. Along with Spinoza's joy of the intellectual love of God, Lacan's jouissance (enjoyment) and Marx's labor-power are two concepts that enable epistemontology to approach...