Friday, January 9, 2009


to start things off, i'll make an example of how we could use this site...
what is the deal with "erewhon"?

it was in the preface, pp. xx, last paragraph, dealing with empiricism:
"empiricism is by no means a reaction against concepts, nor a simple appeal to lived experience.  on the contrary, it undertakes the most insane creation of concepts ever seen or heard.  empiricism is a mysticism and a mathematicism of concepts, but precisely one which treats the concept as object of an encounter, as a here-and-now, or rather as an Erewhon from which emerge inexhaustibly ever new, differently distributed 'heres' and 'nows'....
pp. xxi:  "following samuel butler, we discover erewhon, signifying at once the originary 'nowhere' and the displaced, disguised, modified and always re-created 'here-and-now'.  neither empirical particularities nor abstract universals: a cognito for a dissolved self.  we believe in a world in which individuations are impersonal, and singularities are pre-individual: the splendour of the pronoun 'one' - whence the science-fiction aspect, which necessarily derives from this Erewhon."

(from wikipedia "erewhon" article)

Erewhon, or Over the Range is a novel by Samuel Butler, published anonymously in 1872. The title is also the name of a country, supposedly discovered by the protagonist. In the novel, it is not revealed in which part of the world Erewhon is, but it is clear that it is a fictional country. Butler meant the title to be read as the word Nowhere backwards, even though the letters "h" and "w" are transposed. It is likely that he did this to protect himself from accusations of being unpatriotic, although Erewhon is obviously a satire of Victorian society.

The French philosopher Gilles Deleuze used ideas from Butler's book at various points in the development of his philosophy of difference.

In Difference and Repetition (1968), he refers to what he calls "Ideas" as "erewhons." "Ideas are not concepts," he explains, but rather "a form of eternally positive differential multiplicity, distinguished from the identity of concepts."[2] "Erewhon" refers to the "nomadic distributions" that pertain to simulacra, which "are not universals like the categories, nor are they the hic et nunc or now here, the diversity to which categories apply in representation."[3]. "Erewhon," in this reading, is "not only a disguised no-where but a rearranged now-here."[4]

  1. ^ Deleuze (1968, 288).
  2. ^ Deleuze (1968, 285).
  3. ^ Deleuze (1968, 333 n.7).

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