Paper Abstract – Strange Times: Aliens, Ghosts, and the Non-Event


This is my paper proposal for the CFP here, for the conference Affirmation, Negation, and the Politics of Late-Capitalism. Any questions or comments on the project are welcome.

“Strange Times: Aliens, Ghosts, and the Non-Event”.

This paper will develop the concept xenoeconomics by way of a theory of temporality. This will proceed in three parts.

First, I will analyze Jacques Derrida’s discussion of spectrality in Specters of Marx as a way of conceiving the time of speculative finance capital, which determines value as an infinitely postponed realization or redemption of debt. I will demonstrate the inadequacy of his formulation of the spectral dimension, and the necessity of supplementing it with another mode of spectrality. I will conjure this ‘other specter’ by way of challenging Derrida’s readings of both Marx and Benjamin, and by drawing from their work, as well as that of Quentin Meillassoux.

Second, I will turn a closer eye on Meillassoux, and distinguish this other mode of spectrality, which I will also call ancestrality, from his version of the latter. I will bring up several points in After Finitude, concerning the temporal modality of the ancestral, that will lead me to complicate, if not disagree with, his arguments. I will then attempt to resolve this complication by reference to Giorgio Agamben’s concept of operational time in The Time That Remains. This will allow me to present a consistent formulation of ancestral time, as distinct from correlational time, and the political consequences of this distinction.

Finally, I will bring the preceding analyses to bear on certain questions Adrian Johnston has raised concerning Alain Badiou’s political ontology, and what he calls a ‘pre-evental discipline of time’. Xenoeconomic temporality, as I formulate it, can help us treat this problem, and the concrete issues of political praxis it entails. I will conclude by proposing a concept of the operational time of intervention, which will form the groundwork for a future critical engagement with Badiou, and for a political praxis indebted to his theory of the event, as well as to speculative realist philosophy.

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