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Up Your Arts
05 Jan 2013


In his recent article for Artforum, ‘Tedious Methods’, leading Brooklynite Jeff Nagy speaks to many of our concerns regarding Speculative Realism as but the mere ideological appendage of capitalist technoscience. Indeed, in this review of The Number and the Siren by Quentin Meillassoux, Mr Nagy has not shirked the gruelling labour of philosophical exegesis and, by means of a dense sequence of argument rarely seen in a trade paper (or indeed, outside of the more technically demanding elements of Frege’s œuvre), has irrefutably demonstrated the coterminous nature of ‘speculative realism’ and ‘financial speculation’ – where the new breed of charlatans, trailing an enthralled audience of shills that outnumbers even the throngs habitually met with at ‘fast poetry’ readings, would likely have been satisfied to draw conclusions from the mere fact that they share nine letters in common.
As sagely observed by Nagy, who did not enjoy math class at school, Meillassoux’s counting up of the words in Mallarmé’s poem falls far short of its purportedly innovative approach to the Riemann zeta function and arithmetic L-series: in fact it ‘is not so much mathematical as merely arithmetical, not so much a mathematization as an accounting’, and as such, therefore, given its cynical, abject relationship to the positive sciences and their political masters, a ‘sure bet’ and ‘infinite success’.
It would be wrong, however, to portray Nagy’s review-article as being somehow inaccessible to a philosophical lay readership, for he has been careful to leaven his critique with witheringly funny examples of where Speculative Realism’s objective, disinterested façade falls away, and we are all forced to conclude that it is all so much ‘money for old rope’.

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