Ontopower: War, Powers, and the State of Perception
Brian Massumi is Professor of Communication at the University of Montreal. He is the author of The Power at the End of the Economy, What Animals Teach Us about Politics, and Parables for the Virtual: Movement, Affect, Sensation, all also published by Duke University Press.
Embroilments and History
This chapter centers on the difference between historiography and the philosophy of history. The tension between the two bears on the question of tendency, as transhistorical formative force. The actually existing empirical formations populating history come in complex cohabitation. This makes it necessary to evaluate the polyphony of tendential forces at whose crossroads each formation is located. This involves assessing which tendency is most intensely in-forming a given formation’s functioning. Processual tendencies must be distilled from their historical in-mixing with other tendencies, and with other orders (systems of function, structures of meaning). This is done through an evaluation of the ideal end points animating and orienting them. The chapter drafts William James’s concept of the processual “terminus,” a key element of his radical empiricism, into service toward this end.