My morning thought. I think what's most incompatible about the way I think and the journal article format as a means of capturing and validating thought is that I have a completely different sense of the relation between tentativeness, rigor, and informatic compression.
The characteristic Pete thought is: wait a minute, this whole area is dominated by an assumption that no one seems to be questioning, and I've got two options to express that: i) outline the logic of the issue in a quick and compressed way, ii) write a small book with references.
The discipline seems to want something in between these poles every single time, and this makes me extremely anxious because I feel (with good reason) like any partially referential engagement with the issue will get instantly torpedoed by anyone outside its referential remit.
To repeat something I've said before: I'm actually quite good at being *concise*, I just find it very hard to be *brief*, because most of the thoughts I have don't permit brevity. Consider what your (referential) reactions are to this brief piece:….
One of the main genres of publication I've actually excelled in over the years is dictionary articles, which I take a lot of joy in writing, and include some of the pieces of which I'm most proud. Consider this one on the crux of Meillassoux's project:…
I take great pleasure in explaining things in an optimal way. A good explanation is like a good anecdote. A rough stone that's been polished by the waves of dialogue so many times it's become a tiny smooth pebble. These waves are the ebb and flow of decompression-recompression.
This is why I enjoy Twitter, because my impulse to squeeze as much information as possible into each tweet hits a hard limit that forces my more poetic instincts to reconsider and revise, polishing each grain in miniature rather than waiting for a complete craggy draft.
I think writing dictionary articles and giving talks has made me a better writer, and that Twitter has had a similar effect, and I hope to improve further. For now, let me point you in the direction of a few more optimally compressed pieces I'm quite proud of:
1. 'Artificial Bodies and the Promise of Abstraction' - an overview of the 'embodiment paradigm' in philosophy that is only possible because the interview format obviates referential constraints:…
2. 'Ray Brassier' - my dictionary entry on Ray's philosophical project in the Meillassoux Dictionary, which I think is the most concise thing ever written on his work:…
3. 'What's in a Game?' - not written up, but as concise a study of the whole (Western) tradition in the philosophy of games as you'll see anywhere, with a synthetic theory to boot:
4. Essay on Transcendental Realism (ETR) - the archetypical Pete piece, too long for an article, too short for a book, too Continental for Analytics, too Analytic for Continentals, i.e., completely unpublishable:…
To close by compressing my point: I struggle to transform tentative thoughts (posts/threads) into journal articles, because this often seems to involve adding referential syntax while subtracting semantic content. Bureaucratic sins against the poetics of explanation.
Here's to finding a happy medium. 🖖

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More from @deontologistics

20 Feb
If you're really serious about talking about the problem of 'cancel culture', rather than either spewing talking points or denying that the term refers to anything, then the first step is to acknowledge that the relevant social dynamics are hardly a new thing.
The piece that I always return to is Jo Freeman's essay 'Trashing: The Dark Side of Sisterhood' (…), and the example that always saddens me the most is Shulamith Firestone (…).
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Read 10 tweets
19 Feb
Here's another dose of philosophical-political sole searching for the morning. People often tell me to apply for things: jobs, postdocs, competitions, blind submissions of various kinds, and my default answer these days is 'no' unless there's a very compelling case for it. Why?
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I spent 6 years applying for everything in sight, both in the philosophy world, and in the regular world, just trying to find part time work to get by on. I even tried setting myself up on sites like Upwork to get editing gigs, because this is one thing I have experience in.
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18 Feb
Here's a long interview with me covering a wide range of topics: from Hegel and Kant to philosophy of science, logic, and computer science, stopping to discuss libidinal evolution, the nature of selfhood, and the catastrophic wrong-headedness of most extant work on 'AI safety'.
If anyone wants an existence proof that systematic philosophy is indeed possible, this is about as good a one as I can give you in ~3 hours (cf.
If you just want my thoughts on the stakes of contemporary philosophy, and its relation to culture and computation, it's been cut out and made available separately:
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18 Feb
I really shouldn't let my adrenal glands do the talking. Let me try be a bit more conciliatory. I love academia. If I didn't love it so much I wouldn't have so much intricately tangled anger and resentment about being kept on its edges for 10 years. But I do and I have.
The same goes for the Labour Party. I was raised by people who were raised by people who could remember the stab of hunger and the fear of being evicted and for whom the Party's entrance into power was the most emancipatory development in their and their family's lives.
There's a link between these two things. My grandfather was what you'd call an organic intellectual. He passed his 11 plus and then couldn't go to grammar school because his father died and he had to start shovelling coal on trains. He eventually became a train driver.
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18 Feb
There are times I wish we could have something like a 'symbolic amnesty' where we just wipe a particular terminological slate clean of connotations so that we can have certain conversations without constantly blundering into excuses to derail them.
Like, it'd be really nice if we could talk openly about the *incredibly tight* ties between governance and finance in countries like the UK without having to be on the defence about accidental associations with accusations of blood libel. It's a discursive minefield.
There's a perennial 'man covered in shit' problem here, where no matter how economically reasoned or anti-racistly seasoned your critiques are there *will* be people who turn up to agree with you dragging flecks of anti-semitic faeces on their shoes, if nothing else.
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17 Feb
I think it's worth recognising that death will always divide us. There are deaths that are intensely positive/negative for me that you don't and can't feel in the same way I do. This is a source as much as a symptom of enmity. Yet the only universal enemy is death itself.
When one dances on another's grave, be it literally or performatively, one is inviting those who feel strongly for the dead to hate you. There's no getting around that. It's the price of doing business in the market of mortality, sorrow, and grief.
But all the same, violating a heuristic taboo (e.g., 'don't speak ill of the dead') is a legitimate way of signalling value (e.g., '...unless it's important'). It's a way of saying: 'Look what this fucker made me do! I only stoop this low as a monument to their awfulness.'
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