“You don’t have to think with Kant. Think with your cunt, or if you can’t do that think through saliva.”
This dance event, conceived by choreographer and philosopher Siegmar Zacharias, shares its name and a number of themes with a wonderful 24 hour art event where I participated at her behest at the MDT, Stockholm last April.
I recall Siegmar giving us newbies an introductory talk that included stories of whales washed up dead with plastic in their bodies. She is dressed in an immaculate silk shirt. I recall liking the shirt a lot when she met me at the entrance of the theater. As she speaks, she dribbles on the shirt with the practiced efficacy of a trained dancer, choreographed webs gleam in a beautiful and disgusting lacework.
Were we thinking then, thinking enough? And what is thought if it can spit, or secrete, act through pores, manifest in some obscure histamine intolerance?
Traditionally we associate thought with the ideal, the concept with the abstract or general. But, as Kant himself argued, concepts without intuitions are blind. Thought must engage, somehow, with things. Our bodily encounters constitute occasions for the application of general concepts, the matter of thought. Without this worldly insistence, thought would be locked in a hyperconceptual black hole (Schellenberg 2006). Or as Deleuze put it:
“Something in the world forces us to think. This something is an object not of recognition but of a fundamental encounter. What is encountered may be Socrates, a temple or a demon. It may be grasped in a range of affective tones: wonder, love, hatred, suffering. In whichever tone, its primary characteristic is that it can only be sensed. In this sense it is opposed to recognition (Deleuze 1994, 139)”
If concepts require this “fundamental encounter”, sensory and aesthetic, for its content, concepts must be ontologically embodied.
Of course, we still might insist in the ideality of concepts – their principled repeatability from thinker to thinker, from thing to thing, context to context, their formality and normativity, etc.. But their dependence on the particular encounter challenges this conception of the concept; challenges the image of thought as transcendent organizer. If thought is immanent in the slime dynamic it can’t be transcendent, even if our slime thinks thus.
If thinking is sliming, philosophy considered as a reflective enterprise oriented by ideal norms of thought cannot but falsify or purify to excess. Perhaps cunt/saliva/histamine/blood thought is purer in obviating the decision that subordinates things to reason – which is perhaps where Slime Dynamics can operate in a mode that philosophically cuts across the philosophical.
To this extent, this insistence on the enslimed of thought implies a kind of methodological suspension of the correlation between slime and the thing it presumes to digest (Laruelle 2013, 53-4; Roden 2018). Perhaps sliming is less the absorbing Shoggothic monster than the enzyme which dissolves spirit, splices and disconnects, leaving thing and form on an equal footing. The goo only acts one way.
Deleuze, G. 1994. Difference and Repetition, P. Patton (trans.). London: Athlone Press.
Laruelle, François (2013). Principles of Non-Philosophy. Bloomsbury Academic.
2018. Disconnection at the Limit: Posthumanism, Deconstruction, and Non-Philosophy”, Symposia Melitensia 14, 19-33.
Schellenberg, Susanna, 2006. ‘Sellarsian perspectives on perception and non-conceptual content’. In Mark Lance & Michael P. Wolf (eds.), Poznan Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities. Rodopi 173-196.