Posted by Glenn Wallis on November 18, 2011
“Nascent Speculative Non-Buddhism,” the article presented in this post (pdf at bottom and on articles page), represents the fullest formulation of non-buddhism so far. The paper presents a heuristic which, if applied to your reading of Buddhist material and to your listening to Buddhist discussions, will, I am certain, prove revealing. As the title indicates, speculative non-buddhism is just beginning its life. A great deal of work needs to be done on both the theoretical and interpretive sides.
For those of you who will read no further than this post, I give you here the beginning, middle, and end.
“What is true cannot change; what changes is not true”— is this not the miserable dream in which too many have diffused their cleverness?—François Laruelle
Speculative non-buddhism is way of thinking and seeing that takes as its raw material Buddhism. It is a thought-experiment that poses the question: shorn of its transcendental representations, what might Buddhism offer us? Speculative non-buddhism is thus a critical practice. Conceivably, a critical-constructive methodology could emerge from its ideas. Its way, its practice, its ideas, though, render Buddhism unrecognizable to itself. Speculative non-buddhism is an approach to analyzing and interpreting Buddhist teachings. But, again, it results in buddhistically untenable, indeed, buddhistically uninterpretable, theorems. While this process results in a re-description of Buddhism, speculative non-buddhism is not an attempt to reformulate or reform (in any sense of the term) Buddhism. Neither is it concerned with ameliorating Buddhism’s relationship with contemporary western secular values. It is designed with three primary functions in mind: to uncover Buddhism’s syntactical structure (unacknowledged even by—especially by—Buddhists themselves); to serve as a means of inquiry into the sense and viability of Buddhist propositions; and to operate as a check on the tendency of all contemporary formulations of Buddhism—whether of the traditional, religious, progressive or secular variety—toward ideological excess.
Middle (from the heuristic):
Protagonist, The. The progenitor of the Buddhist dispensation. He is referred to by various names, such as “The Buddha,” “Gotama,” “The Blessed One,” etc. Speculative non-buddhism’s designation “The Protagonist” is intended to indicate the irrefutable fact that “the Buddha” is a historical figure entirely overwritten by a literary one. Not the slightest wisp of evidence has survived that sheds light on the historical progenitor. Any reliable historical evidence that once existed has been reduced to caricature by the machinations of internecine Buddhist institutional shenanigans and the stratagems of ideological dupery. The figure of the Buddha in the classical Pali texts is a concoction of the collective imaginations of the numerous communities that, over several centuries, had a hand in the formation of the canon. Add to this imaginative mélange the imaginings—cultural, political, fantastic, ignorant—of all the iterations of all forms of x-buddhism, and the result is Buddha as Cosmic Magic Mirror, reflecting all things to all people. A viable composite human figure “The Buddha” can be salvaged from this protean symbol of buddhistic vanity only with force of the darkest, most atavistic yearning of puerile nostalgia for The Great Father.
Finally, if I may press Nick Land into service and butcher (with apologies), to suit my needs, a comment he made about literature in The Thirst for Annihilation (p. xix.):
Speculative non-buddhism is a transgression against buddhistic transcendence—the dark concealment of an atavistic yearning to rise above the status of homo sapiens ape and to escape, unscathed, from empty reality. Speculative non-buddhism permits an understanding of Buddhism more basic than the pseudo-understanding of Dharma-infused buddhistic discourse. The life of speculative non-buddhism is the death of buddhistic pretension to specular oracularity. It thrives on the violent absence of the dharmic good, and thus of everything that protects, consolidates, or guarantees the interests of the individual personality. The death of this transcendent pretension is the ultimate transgression, the release of narcissistic humanity from itself, back into the blind infernal extravagance of the sun.
The Article: Nascent Speculative Non-Buddhism.
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