How to Do Things with Non-Buddhism
Posted by Glenn Wallis on April 6, 2013
Non-buddhism is something that is done. It is not a program to be accepted or rejected. It doesn’t offer a doctrine to be refuted or believed. It can’t fail or succeed. It can only be applied or not. This site contains instruments for its application.
These instruments will enable you to deflate, flatten, and simplify the object of the application: x-buddhism. Then, you can place x-buddhism’s raw material next to mute reality. You can also democratize totalitarian x-buddhist material by putting it in dialogue with local knowledges. It is in enabling such acts of decommissioning that non-buddhism is a radical practice, “radical” meaning rendering some x-material minimally transcendental.
The results of your application of non-buddhist instruments will surprise you. But your application will require struggle and resistance. For, x-buddhists themselves struggle furiously against and resist the force of Buddhism. Those who are faithful to its force are rare. If anyone believes that x-buddhists will let stand the flesh and blood humanizing of their specular materials, let the fate of Nagarjuna at the hands of the reactionaries and obscurantists be an abject warning. (Or, for that matter, consider the fate of one Siddhartha Gautama.)
How to do things with non-buddhism? What follows is an encouraging example. What makes it so? Qualities such as creative re-description, shared, communal dialogue; use of the logic of question and answer; indefinite abstraction; fictional rigor; and performance. Most importantly, work–application–like this has the potential of producing real effects–in reading texts, in interpreting doctrines, in using concepts, in thought and imagination, in subject formation, in action.
The Sutra of Hallucinated Destruction Since transference of identity is impossible, destruction of identity is impossible. The x-buddhist subject-practitioner is thus disabused of its exalted claim to destruction—of the taints, of desire, of delusion, lust, and anger, of ignorance and of the ignorant, of sorrow and lamentation, for instance. The x-buddhist subject-practitioner dreams its purity in bloodless reverie. The subject-practitioner is a fleshless phantasmagoria, fashioned from rootless language, thought, and desire. Regarding the person of flesh and blood, the x-buddhist subject-practitioner is the destroyer of nothing (from “Sutras of Flesh and Blood,” Sutra 07, at non + x).
Tomek Idzik: Glenn, could you make a short exegesis of the sutra 07 from “Sutras of Flesh and Blood” piece? I mean, particularly how the first sentence “Since transference of identity is impossible, destruction of identity is impossible” relates to the rest of this fragment ? Thanks.
John Connolly (JRC): An exegesis on Sutra 07 (The Sutra of Hallucinated Destruction) of “Sutras of Flesh and Blood,” as refracted through a non-buddhist lens:
As the axiomatic identity is foreclosed to thought, one is compelled to think according to the axiomatic identity rather than of the axiomatic identity. Transference and destruction imply separation and division, or more pointedly identity-with-transcendence. Thus, any claims to the cessation of suffering are fictive, as any and all instances of suffering are inextricably born of axiomatic identity. As such, one becomes incorporated into perpetual ideological struggle, the siteless site in which one observes oneself in all situations so that he or she might become one who persistently works to observe oneself in all situations and in turn makes real choices. As flesh-and-blood individuals, our living is rooted in our language, thoughts, and desires. Any attempt to subtract ourselves from ourselves would be to alienate ourselves from the truth. One can destroy only from a position of radical immanence and in doing so render oneself immortal neither from above nor below.
And onward ho…
Image: Front cover from Joshua Landy, How to do Things with Fictions (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012).
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