Genesis (Studies in Literature and Science)
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This English translation of Michel Serres' 1982 book Genèse captures in lucid prose the startling breadth and depth of his thinking, as he probes the relations between order, disorder, knowledge, anxiety, and violence. Written in a unique blend of scientific discourse and lyrical outburst, classical philosophical idiom and conversational intimacy, by turns angry, playful, refined or discordant, Genesis is an attempt to think outside of metaphysical categories of unity or rational order and to make us hear--through both its content and form--the "noise," the "sound and the fury," that are the background of life and thought.
Serres draws on a vast knowledge of such diverse disciplines as anthropology, classical history, music, theology, art history, information theory, physics, biology, dance and athletics, and Western metaphysics, and a range of cultural material that includes the writings of Plato, Kant, August Comte, Balzac, and Shakespeare, to name a few. He argues that although philosophy has been instrumental in the past in establishing laws of logic and rationality that have been crucial to our understanding of ourselves and our universe, one of the most pressing tasks of thought today is to recognize that such pockets of unity are islands of order in a sea of multiplicity--a sea which cannot really be conceived, but which perhaps can still be sensed, felt, and heard raging in chaos beneath the momentary crests of order imposed by human civilization.
Philosophy of science or prose poetry, a classical meditation on metaphysics or a stream-of-consciousness polemic and veiled invective, Serres mounts a quirky, at times rhapsodical, but above all a "noisy" critique of traditional and current models in social theory, historiography, and aesthetics. The result is a work that is at once provocative, poetic, deeply personal, and ultimately religious--an apocalyptic call for the rebirth of philosophy as the art of thinking the unthinkable.
About the Book:
"An intensely beautiful and rigourous meditation on the birth of forms amid chaos and multiplicity from a major philosopher who is also an exquisite craftsman of the written word." --William Paulson, University of Michigan
"Serres exhibits a rare, raw tendentiousness refreshing in its vitriol . . . it's the sort of light-hearted, perverse, and basically liberal tirade one hears too infrequently of late." --Word
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there are only two solutions. One can seize the place shouting parasite. death to the And this is the solution of the parasite, for a parasite is put to death only by a stronger parasite. And the place has not changed in nature. Or one can give the place up and flee. To take a place or to give up a place, that is the whole question. Those who are taking the places are in a stable position, for Collective Furor 75 they lean on those who hold them. Places are attacked tooth and nail by the
it beneath their tumult, and the 78 Genesis original ones give up the place. The blank place is the place of the continuous cession. There is no blank white place, there are only the blank white ones who step aside. There is no blank place, there is only a blank step, the step of giving up a place, there is only a trace of a step, that white foot, exquisite, alive, in the midst of the nOISe. Do not say: no man is a prophet in his own country, that's just a banality. Say rather, such a one
on the mul tiple, on the mix, on the speckled, variegated, tiger-striped, zebra streaked aggregates, on the crowd, I have attempted to think a new object, multiple in space and mobile in time, unstable and fluctu ating like a flame, relational. When we think about society, we are the victims of our images. In the schema of the one and the multiple, the structure goes from the ground up to the rafters. Power belongs to the one perched at the top. Pyramids, skyscrapers, massive cathedrals, tow
codes a classing. We can try to pinpoint this class ing, it always comes under combinative art. A method, a certain kind of rationality, analytical intellection unmake, remake this combinatory manifold, as a tapestry is unwoven and woven. But we can attempt to describe the flux and its way of coding, we can also try our luck in following the processual, to see how it slows down everything surrounding its codes. I speak once more in the language of history, processual time and its multiple
ruins. Upon these rocks no one has ever built anything but Babel. Babel is not a failure, it is at that very moment when the tower is dismantled that we begin to understand that one must understand without concepts. Here and there, Babel is unified, a few great stretches of bare wall appear 123 124 Genesis and remain, colossal cathedrals, half-swamped in the rubble, monumental temples overrun by the jungle and its chattering apes, vertiginous twisted paths on huge slopes, there and here,