Man is a Bridge:
the Twenty First Century is Nietzsche's Century

This site is a rhizome made possible by the
Beyond Good and Evil, III, 62

 . . .  Man is the as yet undetermined animal . . .

Thus Spoke Zarathustra, I. 4

Man is a rope, tied between beast and overman--a rope over an abyss.  A dangerous across, a dangerous on the way, a dangerous looking back, a dangerous shuddering and stopping.

What is great in man is that he is a bridge and not an end: what can be loved in man is that he is an overture and a going under

The Geneology of Morals, II, 16

Let us add at once that . . . the existence on earth of an animal soul turned against itself, taking sides against itself, was something so new, profound, unheard of, enigmatic, contradictory, and pregnant with a future that the aspect of the earth was essentially altered.  Indeed, divine spectators were needed to do justice to the spectacle that thus began and the end of which is not yet in sight . . . .  From now on, man . . . gives rise to an interest, a tension, a hope, almost a certainty, as if with him something were anouncing and preparing itself, as if man were not a goal but only a way, an episode, a bridge, a great promise..
Man is a Bridge

Eelco Runia, Moved by the Past: Discontinuity and Historical Mutation (Columbia Univeristy Press, 2014), p. 180, 184

How to make evolutionary sense of the fact that humans, alone among species, “took off” on a kind of autonomous development that made it their destiny “to ply the seas eternally"?

The more we disarmed our environment the more we became our own environment.

Homo sapiens as a species unlike any other, whose "nature" it is to be subject to cultural and historical development as a result of its own activity, to be subject to the psychological consequences of such processes, whose behavior contains but cannot be reduced to the "biological."  Homo sapiens sapiens is a species capable of:

1. embarking on projects (progressivism--Vygotsky), originating out of the logic of the Enlightenment whose objective is self- and societal-transformation.  (Hegel's Bildung and Nietzsche's Will to Power--see Dupré, Chase, Nietzsche, and Wikipedia: ❪1❫, ❪2❫, ❪3❫, and ❪4here).  This is the project of Progressivism, both bourgeois and socialist.  A major expression of the enlightenment developmental project is found in the work of Dewey and Vygotsky in education, in Marx, Lenin and Brandeis in politics, and in the Taylor Society in management.  (See The Keynesian Elite in the New Deal State.)

2.  but also embarking on other kinds of projects, originating out of the logics of capital and political power, whose purpose is the stimulation and exploitation of appetite and desire on the one hand, and the mobilization and shaping of resentiment for political purposes, on the other.  Unlike the Enlightenment project, these projects of capital and power have no larger vision--no vision of any kind.  Their object is primarily the axiomatic of accumulation or the drive toward hegemony.  Secondarily, however, their impact is enormous, for there are . . .

3. manifold unforseen consequences of these projects of stimulation, exploitation, and manipulation. Here is one such consequence: Capitalism--at least advanced capitalism--requires advanced minds. Narcissistic regression--the culture of consumption (see Hall et. al., Criminal Identities and Consumer Culture)--undermines the very possibility of advanced cognitive development by undermining the self-discipline that is the sine qua non of such development.  In addition, in the United States the war on science is much more than ideology and politics.  It pentrates and degrades the zones of proximal development that are the sites of intellectual growth.  Figure 1 in part shows the result of this war.  This is discussed in The PISA Results: Evolutionary, Historical, Developmental, and Psychological Perspectives.

Below is an excerpt from this page:
Figure 1.  PISA Math Scores, 2003 - 2012: 25 Nations
Southeast Asian nations are in light blue; Scandinavian nations + Switzerland in dark blue; Anglo-Saxon nations in orange; France, Germany, Belgium and Poland in green; Italy, Portugal and Spain in brown; the United States in red.   These are the advanced capitalist nations (some have been omitted for the sake visual clarity).

Test Finds College Graduates Lack Skills for White-Collar Jobs   (Wall Street Journal, Jan 16, 2015)  ["critical thinking skills"]
from The PISA Results:

It is already clear that in the U.S. fundamentalist whites and blacks (and many working class Catholics) have been disgorged from the project of modernity, and now constitute, by twenty-first century standards, a barely literate mass, concentrated in the central cities, inner suburbs, small towns, and the rural heartland, and removed in toto from the possiblities of cognitive development implied by the term "education."

As the old America--Christian America--dies a sociocultural death*, it is being replaced by newer populations capable, for now, of cognitive development (see "Asian workers now dominate Silicon Valley tech jobs," San Jose Mercury News, 11-30-12.)

*see The Immigrant Advantage, by Anand Giridharadas in The New York Times of May 24, 2014. 
Man is a bridge: this can be taken as Nietzsche's key concept (although this is overlooked in the Nietzsche scholarship that I have read).  Ressentiment, the übermensch, nihilism, the will to power, and perspectivism are aspects of this unfinished, never-ending journey.  And Eternal recurrence--the most problematic and exasperating of Nietzsche's concepts--in fact becomes astonishingly straightforward and productive if one knows how to run with it--if one knows how to escape the trap of exegesis (see Bhattacharyya at right).  It is the key to a possible new kind of politics.  It is also a way of living through the impossiblity of a new kind of politics.  When taken literally it appears to embrace the givenness of one's life--when one takes Nietzsche's text rather than its open-ended intentionality at one's point of departure.  When put into practice it has the most revolutionary, transformative, developmental consequences, even if nothing can be "done".  One appearance of eternal return as intelectual praxis is in Deleuze's concept of transcendental empiricism--or rather, not the concept as such, as an object of intellectual contemplation, but as practice, as the production of planes of immanence.  The six pages/links below are products of this practice:

Semiotic Regimes: the Two-Party System in the United States

The GOP as the Stupid Party: an Inadequate Conceptualization

Ressentiment and the Mechanisms of Defense: the Current American Scene

Ressentiment and the Mechanisms of Defense: from the First Crusade to the Limbaugh Tirade

Bildung: Was Mozart a Communist
The Keynesian Elite in the New Deal State, 1910-1939  

from Anindya Bhattacharyya,
Notes on Nietzsche’s eternal recurrence, in (emphasis added):

Treating eternal recurrence as a systematic doctrine fails to do justice in my eyes to the profoundly anti-systematic and indeed anti-philosophical tenor of Nietzsche’s work. The eternal recurrence of the same is a provocation to thought rather than a mystery underlying it. To adapt an image from Gilles Deleuze’s 1962 book on Nietzsche, the thought of eternal return is “an arrow shot by Nature that another thinker picks up where it has fallen so that he can shoot it somewhere else” (Deleuze, ix).

Stambaugh makes a similar point when she states that any interpretation of eternal return is “forced to ‘go beyond’ Nietzsche’s writings, published or unpublished, on the subject… If one adheres strictly to what Nietzsche wrote about eternal return, it is impossible to ‘solve’ the enormous problems inherent in this thought.” (Stambaugh, p103).
This site is a rhizome (see Marks, Gilles Deleuze, at lower right); this page a retrospective on this rhizome as of the year 2015, an attempt to present and represent it.  This rhizome began to grow in 1975, with the publication of my book, The Emergence of a UAW Local.  At the time I had no idea that this was not a book, but the first shoot of this rhizome.  The latest outgrowth, still just a fragment, is Ferguson, Missouri and eternal recurrence.  In keeping with this metaphor, the root of this rhizome is the historical trajectory of the Enlightement to the New Deal (E⇒ND), as embodied in the habitus of a milieu that includes communists and socialists in New York, Detroit, Pontiac and Flint, as well as non-socialist "workers" active in the creation of the UAW.  In 1974-6 I interviewed about 123 individuals from this milieu.  These interviews form a group, in that they contain not just descriptions and reminiscences, but also that the production of discourse within the dialogic space of the interview--itself a subspace of the habitus/historical trajectory E⇒ND--was governed by the cognitive processes characteristic of this historical trajectory of progressivism.  The interviewees are a radically unrepresentative group of auto "workers"--the creators--whose discursive praxis in the context of the interview setting as habitus generated a variety of cognitive effects.  The interview setting as habitus . . . and the loaded term rank-and-file will never be used in this site

The Interviews must be considered as a set of dialogic unfoldings form a lens through which to examine ontologies, transformations

(For the group itself, click here.  For the pages that emerged out of attempting to understand this group, its cognates, and its actions, see: Bildung: Was Mozart a Communist? and QHD-5: The Quantum Heterogeneity of Dasein.)

Thus, Nietzsche's Century and Man is a Bridge: Nietzsche's work, his key concepts, functioning as a lens through which to view the elements of this rhizome; and Man is the as yet undetermined animal.  This, at the bare minimum, includes the concept of development at the heart of Vygotsky's work--"Vygotsky" the name given to a whole current of thought growing out of Hegelian roots (four texts listed below the rhizome).  Also see DevDiverg

from John Marks, Gilles Deleuze: Vitalism and Multiplicity (Pluto Press, 1998)

The rhizome is a figure borrowed from biology, opposed to the principle of foundation and origin which is embedded in the figure of the tree.  The model of the tree is hierarchical and centralized, wheas the rhizome is proliferating and serial, functioning by means of the principle of connection and heterogeneity.

Deleuze and Guatarri argue that the book has been linked traditionally to the model of the tree, in that the book has been seen as an organic unit, which is both hermetically sealed, but also a reflection of the world.  In contrast, the rhizome is neither mimetic nor organic.  It only ever maps the real, since the act of mapping is a method of experimenting with the real: and it is always an open system, with multiple exits and entrances.  In short, the rhizome is an 'acentred' system; the map of a mode of thought which is always 'in the middle'.   p. 45

Man is a bridge . . . Nietzsche's apparent contempt for the "people" is better read as a crude opening up of what is by now a long overdue critique of the people.  This site is an enquiry into the post-paleolithic development of the primate homo sapiens--of culturally, historically, and politically-based developmental differentiation and divergence that is regressive as well as progressive, pathological as well as creative, and which, as Mary Midgley (The Solitary Self: Darwin and the Selfish Gene, p. 52) has noted, can be called "pseudo-speciation."  To see what I mean, consider this example from Sophia Rosenfeld, A Revolution in Language: the Problem of Signs in Late Eighteenth-Century France (Stanford, 2001).  Two other examples are the Musso rant and the Ground Zero debate.  This excerpt from Merlin Donald ("The mind considered from a historical perspective: human cognitive phylogenesis and the possibility of continuing cognitive evolution.") provides a broader context.  The Time Machine (H.G. Wells) foretold the current condition as read through the three major cable Networks:  Morlocks (Fox News) and Eloi (CNN and MSNBC).  (On this site I differ with much of Nietzsche scholarship on the question of nihilism.  The Eloi are Nietzsche's last man.  See Nihilism.) Sellars
1. man is a bridge
2. Ressentiment (mechanisms of defense), the übermensch (the party of a new kind; the uaw creators), nihilism, the will to power (bildung), and perspectivism (Margolies on Hegel)
3. eternal return

-and critique of cartesian metaphysic

Bernard Stiegler

Why Deleuze?
(Elliptical?  How could it be otherwise?  But Bullshit?  Emphatically not.

Any name can be taken as posing a problematic for contemporary thought.  Why Deleuze?  If the name "Hegel" stands for a mode of thought, the name "Deleuze" can stand for a crisis in that mode of thought.  In the era of neoliberalism, and in the wake of the collapse of the historical left (thisd includes the Keynesian Elite in the New Deal state), philosophy suffers a kind of anomie, turning ever inward, making elaborate lateral moves and suffering stylistic excess while engaging in endless commentaries  Thus "elliptical" as a symptom, but definitely not bullshit.  This whole site can be conceived of as Deleuzian, as long as it is clear that this is just a name for the second Copernican revolution in thought.

This site for the most part takes a grim view of the whole developmental dynamic of the semiotisized primate homo sapiens sapiens.  It also takes a dim view of attempts to naturalize fascism.  The latest such intellectual fad centers on the cottage industry of Girard commentary (the growth of these cottage industries--Nietzsche commentary is another--is a moment in the unfolding of the twenty-first century's crisis of will).

One must understand the difference between the living and the dead.  Texts are just so much dead matter--they do not contain meaning absent a living mind--a contextualized living mind--to work them over (some call this reading, but that is too limited an account of what happens or can happen when one encounters a text--see Deleuze on the encounter).  This is what is wrong with exegesis: it assumes that there is meaning apart from life, that there can be correct readings of writers, even of facts (positivism as the death rattle of mind.)

The Cambridge Handbook of Socioculural Psychology, edited by Jaan Valsiner and Alberto Rosa (Cambridge University Press, 2007)

The Oxford Handbook of Culture and Psychology, edited by Jaan Valsiner (Oxford University Press, 2012)

The Cambridge Companion to Piaget (2009)

The Cambridge Companion to Vygotsky, edited by Harry Daniels, Michael Cole, James Wertsch (Cambridge University Press, 2007)
Man is a bridge   On Nietzsche: exegesis must be replaced with philosophically informed empirical practice, whether of an intellectual or political nature.  It is the essence of the Nietzschean textual sensibility (the text as a discursive field that exceeds the boundaries of its "author") that it not be explained or interpreted--it must be transcended in the execution of its own intentionality--Nietzsche was groping in the dark, and his writings, as Bhattacharyya notes, are better taken as provocations to thought rather than as objects of exegesis.  Nevertheless, Nietzsche has given us key substantive concepts--ressentiment, the will to power, perspectivism, nihilism--that make the 21st century intelligible.  Eternal recurrence, on the other hand, is truly what one might called a bounded provocation.  Bounded, because as a provication to thought it is most frutfully pursued within the boundary conditions set by Nietzsche's major texts

This intentionality must no longer be merely spoken or written from within the iron cages of our conventional existences (within disciplines and professions, unions and parties; and as consumers and
victims--the set of incredibly shrinking selves sometimes referred to as "the people").  This is what this site attempts. 
Robert B. Brandom, Perspectives on Pragmatism: Classical, Recent, and Contemporary (Harvard, 2011), p. 36

But classical American pragmatism can also be seen differently, as a movement of world historical significance--as the announcement, commencement, and first formulation of the fighting faith of a second Enlightenment.