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- Published on Amazon.com
It seems strange to talk about cutting-edge philosophy (considering philosophy’s glacial and perennially wandering spirit), but for a book traveling under the name of the Cut of the Real, it seems oddly appropriate. So much so in fact, that Kolozova claims fidelity not to philosophy, but instead 'non-philosophy', a ‘posture of thought’ that claims to distinguish itself from philosophy altogether, as propounded by the intriguing and enigmatic writings of her mentor, Francois Laruelle. Indeed Kolovoza is one of a handful of recent philosophers - including Ray Brassier, Anthony Paul Smith, John Mullarkey and Alexander Galloway - who have been willing to delve into the thickets of Laruelle’s almost impossibly challenging work in order to dig up the nuggets of gold within.
For Kolovoza, this means using the theoretical resources provided by Laruelle in order to rethink and challenge the practically axiomatic insistence by post-structuralism of the non-unitary nature of the human subject. Instead of considering the subject as essentially ‘riven’, ‘split’, ‘dispersed’, or dispossessed (by language, by the Other, etc, etc), Kolozova asks the question of how it is possible to think of the subject as a stable and continuous ‘One', over and against it’s dissemination into endless multiplicity. As she notes, despite post-structuralism's supposed celebration of the infinite openness of discourse, this freedom is itself sustained by a set of radical prohibitions about what can in fact be spoken of positively: restrictions pertaining to any question with regard to the unity of the subject, which, under the post-structuralist's gaze can only be ‘totalizing’, authoritarian, exclusionary, etc.
Kolovoza’s particular angle of attack is weaved through post-structuralist theories of feminism and gender, which bear the brunt of Kolozova’s fiery analysis. The work of Judith Butler and Rosi Braidotti in particular are singled out as discourses which vacillate between recognizing the continuity of the subject on the one hand, all the while espousing it’s discontinuity on the other. Underpinning this vacillation, Kolozova argues, is a deeper problem: that of the effacement of ‘the Real’, that which functions as a limit and a check on the proliferation of discourse, language and thought (all of which, following Laruelle, are shunted into the category of ‘the transcendental’, over and against the Real). While this is something of an old argument - Slavoj Zizek, among others, has notably wheeled out this line before, and with respect to Butler in particular - Kolozova’s ‘twist’ is to treat the Real in it’s specifically Laruelleian, rather than more familiar Lacanian sense.
Which means what exactly? The key idea here is that the Real (or ‘immanence’), is radically indifferent to thought and language, and that any distinctions made by philosophy (or thought more generally), between say, nature and culture, discourse and reality, fact and fiction, are ‘unilaterally’ generated by thought itself. Insofar as nature does not distinguish itself from itself, thought can never determine the Real, but is instead always subject to the Real’s autonomy and ‘determination in the last instance’. For Kolozova, insofar as feminist philosophy has remained inattentive to this dimension of the Real, it has been unable, in turn, to adequately theorize the singularity of the human subject in it's unity.
As should be obvious by this all too brief summary, for those unfamiliar with the Laruellian lingo - or indeed the philosophical context in which it gains traction - this can be a hard slog. Yet one of the virtues of Kolozova’s book is indeed the meticulous and patient way that she explicates these difficult ideas from a multiplicity of angles. Moreover, it's hard not to caught up in the excitement of Kolozova's iconoclasm; situating herself as a 'heretic' with respect to the 'post-structuralist orthodoxy', the Cut of the Real aims to do away with some sacred cows of theory while at the same time offering a new vision of philosophical possibility. Whether or not the endeavor is entirely successful is open to debate - Kolozova never really explicates what it means for thought to 'correlate', but not 'reflect' the real, a claim she affirms over and over again, and the relationship between the Real and the singularity of the subject is not fleshed out to the degree I'd like. Still, as a manifesto and a critique, the Cut of the Real is a genuinely electrifying piece of (non!) philosophy.