Front: Beginning

Boyan Manchev's Blog

Front: Beginning


This blog is an experimental philosophical laboratory of Boyan Manchev.

It consists of two autonomous libraries-workshops:

THE RETURN OF PAN

THE NEW ATHANOR

Each of the libraries-workshops can be read as a stand-alone blog. The libraries are available in three different languages ​​(English, Bulgarian, and French), and the different language versions are not identical.

The blog is translated into English by Boyan Manchev (BM) and Philip Stoilov (PS).

The Philosopher’s Star

For Jean-Luc

The star of the philosopher is ablaze 

Born in July, he would not escape the law of excess

Excess, the name of existence itself –

    its ardent heart – dignity

Guardian star, sidereal double of life

Double ray – 

unimaginable music of the stars,

    starry philosophy life

                            July 22, 2020 – July 26, 2021

THE NEW ATHANOR (BG)

Photo: Boryana Pandova

Boyan Manchev

THE NEW ATHANOR

Principles of the Philosophical Fantastic

Metheor, Sofia, 2019/2020, in Bulgarian. Original title: Новият Атанор. Начала на философската фантастика

The New Athanor is in the strict sense volume one of Boyan Manchev’s book series ‘Philosophical Fantastic’, yet it also provides the figure of its unity: Athanor, the philosophical furnace, synthesising new concepts and ontological techniques.  

The stake of The New Athanor is a prolegomenary one. It deals with imagining the horizon of a forthcoming philosophy of nature. To face up to this challenge, The New Athanor opens with the question of the principles, thus drawing on the elementary power of philosophical conceptsIt aims at mobilising conceptual counter-techniques as an alter-ontological force, in order to imagine differently the philosophical becoming-world of the world.

The New Athanor includes the Prologue ‘Principles of the Philosophical Fantastic’, followed by the first five books of the ‘Philosophical Fantastic’: ‘The Perils of Philosophy’, ‘Apeiron, the Boundless’, ‘Fire’, ‘Chaos’ and ‘Chaos Unbound’. The dynamic trajectory of the five books draws the outlines of challenging conceptions about time and causality, readjusting the compass of the subject in the high seas of the world. Will the helmsman of the incoming ship be the one who first embarked on the quest? Is this the same ship? Is this the same world?

The New Athanor is a methodological experiment where the philosophical quest engages in a shared adventure of concepts, theories and hypotheses from the domain of modern science, while at the same time mobilizes the latent potential of mythological and fantastic figures. Anaximander, Heraclitus and Aristotle encounter Chaos, Kronos and Aphrodite, and all of them join with Boltzmann, Prigogine and Atlan.

The New Athanor is a laboratory of the Philosophical Fantastic. The Philosophical Fantastic is not a hybrid genre, it is no mixture of philosophy and the fantastic. It is an experiment with the very form of philosophy: an experiment with new possibilities of articulating the philosophical form. The Philosophical Fantastic is an act of philosophy in the mode of desire. It yearns the invention of the New Athanor

* Athanor, a fragment from the book by Heinrich Khunrath Truthful Report Concerning the Philosophical Athanor, Its Use and Effectiveness (Warhafftiger Bericht Von Philosophischen Athanor, Und Dessen Gebrauch Und Nutzen [Magdeburg: Johan Botcher, 1597]). Engraved frontispiece (signed Hein. Muller) on the title page of the Leipzig edition (1783).

Athanor – the philosophical furnace (from Arabic at-tannūr [رونتلا], ‘furnace’, ‘kiln’, ‘tandoor’, ‘a baker’s oven’, ‘hot spring’), is an alchemical device for maintaining a constant temperature required for the process of alchemical transformation of substance, its crystallization as lapis philosophorum, a philosopher’s stone.

The New Athanor is the philosophical furnace of images, which must synthesize pure concepts, the matter of the philosopher’s stone, of the philosophical crystal. Alchemy of the philosophical image, nuclear acceleration of philosophy. 

Nowadays, when thinking and imagination are being constrained no less than bodies, the Philosophical Fantastic sets the goal of inflaming imagination and thinking, of imagining new possible worlds. It restores to philosophy the task of being an active force in the world, and to the world – of discovering its fantastic pith. 

Boyan Manchev has been working single-mindedly on the project of a Philosophical Fantastic during the past ten years. The trajectory of this experimental methodology includes the books Miracolo, [Miracle] (2011) and Clouds (2017); the method was already outlined in The Unimaginable (2003) and L’altération du monde, [The Alteration of the World] (2009).

CLOUDS. PHILOSOPHY OF THE FREE BODY

Boyan Manchev

CLOUDS. PHILOSOPHY OF THE FREE BODY

Sofia: Metheor, 2020, in Bulgarian: Облаци. Философия на свободното тяло

(Translated from the Bulgarian by Katerina Popova)

Philosophy is in debt to poetry. But it is also in debt to science, whose poetic attitude philosophy has ceased to understand. Philosophy is in debt to the creative power of nature itself, and therefore to freedom. Philosophy must think what makes it possible; only then will it reopen its possibility.

Therefore: the clouds.

Besides being a difficult, if not paradoxical, object of science or figure of representation, or a privileged poetic image, could clouds also be a philosophical concept? Yes, is the answer of philosophical fantastics –

the method introduced by the book Clouds. Philosophy of the Free Body. Yes, because every concept is a cloud. The cloud is a form that thinks.

Neither a Hyperborean nor a white horseman, the cloud is an enigma which, before being thought, thinks us.

Excerpts:

The cloud is a form that thinks. New philosophy means a new form. That is why the book about clouds, the cloudy book, is also a prolegomenon to a new philosophy of form. 

Ontology of the Cloud 

The cloud is a more solid foundation for ontology than any other element. Anaximander knows that crossing the boundless inevitably leads to an area eternally shrouded in clouds. The boundary is a cloudy space, condensed space. There, time bends and warps. 

Anaximander walked in our footsteps. He rode our waves. He drank of our breath, encountering our cloud, our mist that soaked the sea, pale-pink swirls rolling along its shimmering surface at dawn, accompanied by the hollow murmur of the dark water, by the silence of the gloomy depths. The unknown and the frightening visit us in these liminal spaces, in these spectral places. The ship sails on, every breath abates, as though air slides on air, there’s no momentum, no acceleration, nor is there inertia without a force. When the mist clears, what will we see there?

DARK POEM

Front cover of Dark poem, photography: Boryana Pandova
Photo: Boryana Pandova

Boyan Manchev

DARK POEM

Sofia: Metheor, 2020, in Bulgarian: Тъмна поема
Translated from the Bulgarian by Philip Stoilov

36 pages, including 14 black and white photos

Text: Boyan Manchev
Photography: Boryana Pandova
With: Leonid Yovchev and Boyan Manchev
Graphic Design: Boyan Manchev, Boryana Pandova and eMetheor
Typeface: Quasimoda by Lettersoup, courtesy of Botio Nikoltchev

Boyan Manchev’s theatrical-philosophical poem is organically related to photographs by Boryana Pandova. Dark Poem extends Boyan Manchev’s philosophy of body by experimental means, juxtaposing text, image and movement.

The book is the result of experimental work on staged actions and situations with the participation of the actor Leonid Yovchev and Boyan Manchev, related to Metheor ’s performance Hijikata and His Double (2019). Dark Poem is dedicated to Tatsumi Hijikata, the legendary founder of Butoh – a radical Japanese dance form, which played a crucial part in the history of contemporary performing arts. It was inspired by Butoh-fu [舞踏譜], an experimental form of notation invented by Hijikata, as well as by Eikoh Hosoe’s photographic series Kamaitachi, with the participation of Tatsumi Hijikata (1969).

Half a century after Hijikata’s scandalous performance Hijikata Tatsumi and the Japanese people (1969), Dark Poem puts forward the question on the possibility of the (artistic) revolution.

“Together with Tatsumi Hijikata, we raise the question of the rebellion of the body. What does body rebellion of the body mean? We are interested in the way the body always exceeds itself. Life always stands out. The body always stands out: in ecstasy and pain, in birth and in death.” 

Boyan Manchev

*

New Bodies

I, Hijikata Tatsumi, address the people today.
I release my infant warriors. I will not perfrom seppuku, but I will cut off one hundred thousand heads. 

No, I will not cut off one hundred thousand heads, but I will assemble one hundred thousand new bodies. An army of excess. New bodies, a new raw titanic race, a race of football players unmarked by an X-spot, a new anatomy, new organs,
a new gender, a new star. 

My infant football players, my mud-spattered criminals, we will glue together new bodies with mud and slime and loose veins. We will use the loose tongues of the veins to connect the knee joints, while the heels will pass through the ear canals, we will flow into our own veins in reverse, and the violent wind of the North will ventilate the brain folds in our lungs. This is how bodies dance upside down. This is how the small suns of the atom scatter like new constellations, galaxies, universes in our placenta, in our protein soup, in our boneless cosmos.

METEOR. SELECTED TEXTS FOR THEATRE

Ani Vaseva and Boyan Manchev

METEOR. SELECTED TEXTS FOR THEATRE

Sofia: Metheor, 2018, in Bulgarian: Метеор. Избрани театрални текстове

Graphic design: Teodora Venedikova

The book Meteor. Selected Texts for Theatre presents Ani Vaseva and Boyan Manchev’s texts, related to their joint theatrical work within Metheor – a group of artistic accomplices who work with theatrical, visual and experimental theoretical forms, developing their radical poetics. Together with the actor Leonid Yovchev, who participated in most of the stagings of the texts included in the book, the authors are the driving force of Metheor.

The book collects all the texts of Metheor’s performances written by Vaseva and Manchev, among which A Dying Play, Sick, Frankenstein, Phaeton: Miscreants, A Play for You, Lovеcraft, Roadtrip to Hell. The book also includes two not staged texts, The Stone and Bacchae, as well as Miscreants: A Manifesto for a Non-human Theatre. The three thematic nuclei – The New Body, Miscreants and The Irreparable, around which the texts are organised, correspond to the passions in which Metheor persists over the last decade: imagining of new, unimaginable (artistic, political, existential) techniques; from there – the metamorphosis of the body and the subject, the formless figure of the monster – a disturbing but exciting form of life with inhuman sex-appeal, the (ir)reversibility of time.​* * *

About Metheor

Metheor is a group of artistic accomplices who work with stage, visual and textual artistic and critical forms, consistently building their radical poetics. The central figures of Metheor during its ten-year history include Ani Vaseva (author, director, theorist, costume designer and stage designer), Boyan Manchev (author, playwright, theoretician) and Leonid Yovchev (actor, co-author). Metheor’s projects are determined by the group and interpreters of its work as “Theatre of disorganization”, “non-human Theatre” and “Theatre oratorio” and are based on a “strong idea” of ​​Theatre. Each Metheor performance strives to invent a unique form based on experimental work on the text and productive critical use of theatrical techniques, leading to elaboration of system of counter-techniques.

OUT OF TIME

Boyan Manchev

OUT OF TIME

Publication on the occasion of the exhibition Out of Time curated by Boyan Manchev in the series “The Other Eye”, Sofia City Gallery, 1 March – 3 April 2011.

What stands out in this collection, built over the last sixty years, are dominant themes and associative lines such as the relationship between work and leisure, fatigue and rest; the relationship between everyday and holiday (where holiday signifies the transition from private to public or, conversely, the reduction of public to private); the image of nature, intimate, ”domesticated” by human presence. Through those themes one may identify a series of organizing oppositions: private/public, everyday/holiday, human/inhuman, coercion/freedom, ideological utopia/idyllic utopia.

The exhibition Out of Time attempts to examine precisely this imagery – and precisely these images, exploring their enigmatic energy and focusing on the variations and shifts in the repetition, accumulation and dynamics that organize the images in a way that is different from the historical narratives concerning what paintings represent and why they were made, as well as from the immanently historical narratives of the history of art which examine, in their turn, how paintings represent and how they are made. Instead, we are interested in the matter of these images, in their dynamics over time. Over a time that is out of time.

Freedom in Spite of Everything

Boyan Manchev

FREEDOM IN SPITE OF EVERYTHING

Vol. I: Surcritique and Modal Ontology

What is freedom? Is freedom a condition of existence itself, or, on the contrary, is it only its utopian horizon? If freedom is a condition of existence, then can we know it at all, and if yes, how?

What is freedom in the philosophical sense? Must a philosophy of existence, or an ontology, start with the idea of freedom? Is an ontology other than that driven by the idea of freedom, possible?

Based on a surcritical reading of the Critique of Pure Reason focused on the paradox of freedom in Immanuel Kant, Boyan Manchev asserts the idea of freedom as an ontological condition of existence and, at the same time, as a necessary modality of the philosophical act.

The first volume of Freedom in Spite of Everything, Surcritique and Modal Ontology, examines the hypothetical modal foundations of transcendental philosophy, seeking to mobilize them surcritically towards an ontology of the necessary world, thereby opening up the horizon of the second volume of the book.

Freedom in Spite of Everything is the most elaborate expression to date of Manchev’s project for a modal ontology of existence, developed over the past two decades.

Translated by Katerina Popova

The Return of Pan: User’s Guide

This blog is dedicated to the Great God Pan. 

In search of the lost god, the philosophical diary inevitably develops into a philosophical quest. In Pan’s forest the quest branches out and takes various paths: a forest stilled in the midday swelter; a forest fire; unimaginable bounds.

A cutting, a breaking, a section of chaos.

Three sections of the text:

PANIC

THE BURNING GOD: MAY 1945 – MAY 2020

THE FUTURE NATURE

The sections differ in direction, rhythm and mode of exposition. Each corresponds to a different requirement:

Panic, pandemic: figurative ontology of the present.

The flaming god: May 1945 – May 2020 : historical epistemology of poietic forms.

Forthcoming nature: imperative ontology.

In the labyrinth of Pan’s forest, the paths of the quest branch out, but their threads intertwine into a common tissue: the tissue of the second volume of the Philosophical Fantastic. 

If during the reign of Emperor Tiberius superstitious sailors spread throughout the empire the rumor that the Great God Pan was dead, and if this rumor was furthermore found to be an unconditional truth for two millennia, today the Great God Pan shuts the mouths of liars by his own hand.    

Today Pan returns.

The New Athanor: User’s Guide

The New Athanor is a laboratory of the Philosophical Fantastic.

The Philosophical Fantastic is not a hybrid genre, it is no mixture of philosophy and the fantastic. It is an experiment with the very form of philosophy: an experiment with new possibilities of articulating the philosophical form. The Philosophical Fantastic is an act of philosophy in the mode of desire. It yearns the invention of the New Athanor.

Athanor, a fragment from the book by Heinrich Khunrath Truthful Report Concerning the Philosophical Athanor, Its Use and Effectiveness (Warhafftiger Bericht Von Philosophischen Athanor, Und Dessen Gebrauch Und Nutzen [Magdeburg: Johan Botcher, 1597]). Engraved frontispiece (signed Hein. Muller) on the title page of the Leipzig edition (1783). Digital image: strx.

Athanor, a fragment from the book by Heinrich Khunrath Truthful Report Concerning the Philosophical Athanor, Its Use and Effectiveness (Warhafftiger Bericht Von Philosophischen Athanor, Und Dessen Gebrauch Und Nutzen [Magdeburg: Johan Botcher, 1597]). Engraved frontispiece (signed Hein. Muller) on the title page of the Leipzig edition (1783). Digital image: strx.

Athanor – the philosophical furnace (from Arabic at-tannūr [التنور], ‘furnace’, ‘kiln’, ‘tandoor’, ‘a baker’s oven’, ‘hot spring’), is an alchemical device for maintaining a constant temperature required for the process of alchemical transformation of substance, its crystallization as lapis philosophorum, a philosopher’s stone.

The New Athanor is the philosophical furnace of images, which must synthesize pure concepts, the matter of the philosopher’s stone, of the philosophical crystal. Alchemy of the philosophical image, nuclear acceleration of philosophy.

Nowadays, when thinking and imagination are being constrained no less than bodies, the Philosophical Fantastic sets the goal of inflaming imagination and thinking, of imagining new possible worlds. It restores to philosophy the task of being an active force in the world, and to the world – of discovering its fantastic pith.

The New Athanor is a methodological experiment where the philosophical quest engages in a shared adventure of concepts, theories and hypotheses from the domain of modern science, while at the same time mobilizes the latent potential of mythological and fantastic figures. Anaximander, Heraclitus and Aristotle encounter Chaos, Cronus and Aphrodite, and all of them join with Boltzmann, Prigogine and Atlan.

The stake of the Philosophical Fantastic’s laboratory is a prolegomenary one. It deals with imagining the horizon of a forthcoming philosophy of nature.

The New Athanor. Prolegomena to Philosophical Fantastic

The laboratory The New Athanor accompanies the publication of the first volume of the book series Philosophical Fantastic by Boyan Manchev, the eponymous book The New Athanor. Prolegomena to Philosophical Fantastic. The blog presents fragments and expands topics and concepts, introduced in the book, without being identical with it. Much of the material included here is published for the first time. ∗

Boyan Manchev has been working single-mindedly on the project of a Philosophical Fantastic during the past ten years. The trajectory of this experimental methodology includes the books Miracolo, [Miracle] (2011) and Clouds (2017); the method was already outlined in The Unimaginable (2003) and L’altération du monde, [The Alteration of the World] (2009). The newly published The New Athanor (2019/2020) is in the strict sense volume one of the series ‘Philosophical Fantastic’, yet it is also the figure of its unity. The New Athanor includes the Prologue ‘Principles of the Philosophical Fantastic’, followed by the first five books of the philosophical fantastic: ‘The Perils of Philosophy’, ‘Apeiron, the Boundless’, ‘Fire’, ‘Chaos’ and ‘Chaos Unbound’, all of them unified by the idea of the world’s origins. The dynamic trajectory of the five books draws the outlines of complex conceptions about time and causality, readjusting the compass of the subject in the high seas of the world. Will the helmsman of the incoming ship be the one who first embarked on the quest? Is this the same ship? Is this the same world?

Starstruck, or the Unimaginable Freedom

To my Hollins friends

 

Sirius is rising.

After fifty seasons under Sirius the Scorcher, 25 of them under the sign of Saturn the Philosopher, I never thought the white and black star could set a figure together.

Sirius, the Herald of canicula, the ecstatic days of heat – the apogee of the other time, the time of a world out of joint, of Chaos Unbound, world of wild freedom; days of frenzy and anxiety, of inspiration and turmoil. The Scorcher star hits hard.

Saturn the philosopher, compelling dark seducer, asking for commitment, for dedication to the consuming delights of thought, to arduous study and teaching, to the sober dignity of a slow and patient formation of a world. The imperative of Common Cosmos.

However, today, for seven summers I know that there is unimaginable constellation out there, where Sirius the Scorcher and Saturn the Philosopher, the ardent white star and the meditative dark star meet.  Freedom and Dignity meet there, and the starstruck terrestrians foresee a possibility for future.

 

31 July 2020

 

*

(Context)

Such is also his guardian Dog, seen standing on its two legs below the soaring back of Orion, variegated, not bright overall, but dark in the region of the belly as it moves round; but the tip of its jaw is inset with a formidable star, that blazes most intensely: and so men call it the Scorcher. When Sirius rises with the sun trees can no longer outwit it by feebly putting forth leaves. For with its keen shafts it easily pierces their ranks, and strengthens some but destroys all the growth of others.

(Aratus (c. 310BC-260BC), Phaenomena, translated by Douglas Kidd)

 

To the Greek mind there was a direct causal connection between the arrival of Sirius and the onset of the hot dry days of late summer. Sirius, as it emerged from its conjunction with the sun, was thought to induce the heat and dryness of August. This heat could not only wither plants but influence the behavior of animals as well. Goats would gaze towards Sirius in the east and emit a cry, the wild Egyptian oryx was said to turn towards Sirius and sneeze. People could contract deadly fevers at this time of year, brought on by Sirius; men could weaken during this time and women could be overcome by carnal desire. People, who suffered from the heat of Sirius were said to be “star struck” (astroboletus). Even Hippocrates, the father of medicine, warned of the effects of Sirius.

Sirius was thought to produce “emanations” which could place people and animals in danger of these effects. The idea that Sirius was a source of these emanations could well be linked to the visual appearance of the star when the atmosphere is turbulent and unsettled. At these times the star appears alive and active; seemingly splashing colored rays of light into the sky. Because of its brightness and bluish-white color, Sirius displays such activity much more prominently than other stars and was therefore perceived to be capable of producing effects in humans, animals, plants, and the environment. There was also a widespread association in the Greek mind of the twinkling and flashing of Sirius with such physiological conditions and states as seething, shaking, emptying, and oppression: as if the star was in distress and spewing its light about the sky. Indeed, Sirius acquired such epitaphs as “the Shaker”.

 
(Jay B. Holberg,  Sirius. Brightest Diamond in the Night Sky, Springer-Praxis Books in Popular Astronomy, 2007, p. 19)

 

Hollins Dance: Under the Ardent Star

For seven years now, I am teaching for three weeks during the summer sessions of Dance M.F.A. program of Hollins University, taking place in Frankfurt and Berlin. These are the days of summer heat under the sign of Sirius, days, in which I was usually, or unusually, experiencing freedom in another realm. That is why, at the beginning it was an unusual experience indeed, which, in few sessions only, started becoming more and more natural, though in an extraordinary way. I realised that it had to happen in these glowing days of summer. It had to happen in the days when experience of freedom seems to know no boundaries, when imagination is enflamed, when thought is ready to drift. When bodies discover what is beyond their limits. When art starts to be something more than cultural practice limited in time and space. When knowledge rediscovers its origin as force within nature, along with nature. When the possibility grows, and the will to a better world with it. When the Arduous Star becomes an Ardent Star.

And the miracle happened, a miracle that repeats. For seven years I continue to encounter curiosity and wisdom, courage and determination, audacity in experimentation and will to face a world in turmoil, to imagine its better future.

Thank you all, dear Hollins students and colleagues, dozens of incomparable Hollins friends, for making me persist in the belief of a better future for art, creation and philosophy.

The trace of our world will grow. It will persist. 

 

31 July 2020

*

Hollins groups in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020: the very last day of studies!
M.F.A. Hollins 2018 and 2019 M.F.A. Hollins 2019 HollinsDanceMFA-2019Hollins2020

 

Comet, Body of Time

Comet-Augsburger Wunderzeichenbuch, Folio 28, c. 1552
Augsburger Wunderzeichenbuch, Folio 28, c. 1552

 

The comet is an enigma. It comes from the spaces beyond the bounds of the world, it brings serene peace and joy.

Secret is the opposite of lie.

The comet’s acceleration, where the breath stops.

Does the breath stop?

Above the roaring continents, miracle traverses the space.

The body of time emigrates into the cloud.

 

30 October 2015 – 22 July 2020

 
Fragment from “Witches, Comets”

The Music itself

To play the body as you play a perfect instrument,

Every organ produces a new melody, a new variation,

To wield perfect mastery over the rhythm of cells.

The cells trained to perfection

To sense the shining sting of the genius infiltrating your biological course,

To cut through the body like an icebreaker,

through the ocean

To master the complexity

To overcome the ethical abyss

To never get stuck in the shallow waters of pettiness

To not survive the wreck of unbearable exigency

Yet to not humble yourself, to not haul in sail and leave the stock rust in the shallow waters  

To be your body

Stasis without metastasis

To not allow death catch up with you in malice

To be right and to look the worthy life into the eye

Like in the morning when you look at yourself in the mirror

To gaze not at death but at the serene life in dignity

To be exactly this death of yours and this life of yours

Measured as a perfect mechanism

Like the perfect mechanism of the unfathomable

The disorganised choreography of the starlings murmuration in the springtime

The splashes of the sea the waves of the storm

To collect every memory so as to see it in the eyes of worthy life 

To shelter it in the wilderness

To not rescue it or give it promises

But to stop it, to humble it, to nourish it

The images are the fragments of the body

Of our body remain only fragments

The hedgehogs of the images

Yet hedgehogs that

collect the forest mushrooms with dignity

at dawn

at dusk

 

*

No scale playing no register studying

But the music itself, outright, all at once

The music itself.

 

 
Excerpt from the philosophical poem The Virtuoso of Life (2011-2012)
Translated from the Bulgarian by Filip Stoilov

Cloud, Script

The cloud isn’t a mysterious script (as Theophrastus believes), a hieroglyph, an ideogram in the open book of the sky. The book of celestial omens, the alphabet of paranoiacs, of necessity, fate and determinism, has been outlined by the Chaldean readers ever since the first Morning Star lit up the night of reason. But no, the cloud is neither a secret code nor a primitive alphabet. A dynamic of meaning of the adventure-here, it is a meaning which, before writing and drawing, before meaning anything, persists in metamorphosis, in an unravelling form; it paints, swirls, thickens, strikes and attacks. The meteor is a stellar cloud, or stellar lightning. It isn’t an omen, it is a rupture of the fabric of omens, of the looming signs. It rips a hole in the void where the cosmos draws the stunned gaze into the vortex of the void.

*

The cloud isn’t a script, a cryptogram of fate, a meteor, a comet, an avenging supreme force, a giant brain in the sky – its vapours, a thinking cosmos, solaris, a plastic brain of matter; it is a neuronal dispersion, an agent, subject, agency without a place and in a synchronous time that unfolds in parallel times and spaces, an alter-actualization that sediments matter in anachronous forms, an immanent dynamic, an unimaginable technique, volcanic cartography.

Yes, the cloud isn’t a writing system but it is an agent of writing, it is an author of the revolution, it is a force of cosmic history, being also its effect. It is a front of Chaos – the cloud of all clouds that stretches along the ridge of the Universe as its unbeginning but also unending core – it is a force not of the finality but of the counter-finality of the world.

The cloud isn’t only a part of the meteorological system, it is a force of the metabolism of the biosphere, of the noosphere, of neuronal, insect-like dispersion.

Excerpt from Boyan Manchev Clouds. Philosophy of the Free BodyTranslated from the Bulgarian by Katerina Popova, Sofia: Metheor, 2019 (2017), Chapter II: “Ontology of the Cloud”, p. 47.

The quarks create

The Creator is not gone. Let us quit the apophatic mysticism of the God gone missing, of the gods in retirement. We know no less than Hölderlin and all the delirious patients in the waiting-room of the Messiah that the gods who have retired may fancy coming back. No, the creator never chanced upon the creation and this is why the creation never stops creating. An open universe is a creating universe. And this means that even the quarks create.

This impulse of creation, Chaos as a force of differentiation, Eros as clinamen, the flux of the apeiron, the creating vortex – the meteoric time that binds together thermodynamics and alchemy, cosmology and magic, this practical extremization of knowledge, is the passion of the philosophical fantastic.

Bruno’s definition of the Magician – the Magus – precedes and seemingly preconditions Marx’s famous definition of philosophy as transformative praxis (Theses on Feuerbach):

‘So as it is used by and among philosophers, ‘magician’ then means a wise man who has the power to act.’

(Giordano Bruno, Cause, Principle and Unity, And Essays on Magic, trans. Robert de Lucca, Richard J. Blackwell, Cambridge University Press, 2004, p. 107).

[A philosophis ut sumitur inter philosophos, tunc magus significat hominem sapientem cum virtute agendi.

(Giordano Bruno, De magia naturali, in Giordano Bruno, Opere magiche, Adelphi, 2003, c. 166).
Excerpt from Boyan Manchev, The New Athanor. Prolegomena to Philosophical Fantastic (Sofia: Metheor, 2019/2020), Book V: Chaos Unbound, p. 205-206.

Goethe, Webern

In the introduction to his Theory of Colour, Goethe speaks aphoristically of the “impossibility of accounting for beauty in nature and art … We want to sense laws . . . one would have to know them.” But Goethe sees this as almost impossible – but that doesn’t make it less of a necessity to get to know “the laws according to which nature in general, in the particular form of human nature, tends to produce and does produce when she can …”

What was that? Goethe sees art as a product of nature in general, taking the particular form human nature. That is to say, there is no essential contrast between a product of nature and a product of art, but that it is all the same, that what we regard as and call a work of art is basically nothing but a product of nature in general. What is this “nature in general?” Perhaps what we see around us? But what does that mean? It is an explanation of human productivity, particularly of genius. You see, ladies and gentlemen, it does not come about as ” Now I want to paint a beautiful picture, write a beautiful poem,” and so on and so forth. Yes, that happens too but it’s not art.

And the works that endure and will endure for ever, the great masterpieces, cannot have come into being as humanity, more’s the pity, imagines. What I mean by that must be clear to you from those Goethe sentences. To put it more plainly, man is only the vessel into which is poured what “nature in general wants to express. You see I would put it something like this: just as a researcher into nature strives to discover the rules of order that are the basis of nature, we must strive to discover the laws according to which nature, in its particular form man,” is productive.”

 

(Anton Webern, The Path to the New Music, transl. by Leo Black, Theodore Presser Company / Universal Edition, 1963 [1960], p. 10-11)

Magia Naturalis: User’s Guide

Magia Naturalis is the new library of the New Athanor: Boyan Manchev’s experimental laboratory for philosophical fantastic.

Magia Naturalis mobilises the hypothetical core of the philosophy of the (future) nature, crossing it with the anachronistic history of the idea of creating nature.

MAGIA NATURALIS: CONCEPTS, THINGS, FORCES AND STAKES

Is nature an artist? Is creation peculiar to stars, metals, fire? What does the stone imagine? What does the cloud want?

It is high time we took on these problems in all seriousness and on the level of their eccentricity. Magia Naturalis – not so much an exhibition, as an artistic environment, a reflexive space and a reflexive time – sets itself the goal of introducing these problems into an experimental dimension. At the very heart of it is the fantastic question of the possibility of (creative) subjectivity beyond the bounds of the human subject.

In this respect, at the heart of this reflexive space is not so much the question of how we reflect on nature, how we creatively relate to it, how we refashion or transform it, how we invent or create it.

Quite the contrary, the question posed is: how ‘nature’ reflects on ‘us’. How it reflects on ‘itself’ through ‘ourselves’.

In what way do forces correlate with themselves, so that where was once oneness there is now a multitude, and where was once a multitude there is now oneness?

Where is the beginning of ‘this’? Where is the beginning of ‘the other’?

Does the track traverse the force, so that it becomes knowledge of itself?

What is the scope of (con)scientia?

How does substance reflect (itself)?

Is art natural?

Is nature artificial?

What does the nature’s desire imagine?

What imagines us?

What do forces reflect on?

What reflects on us?

What creates? Does it create?

What does desire in itself desire? Does it desire?

*

It is not so long ago that philosophy proclaimed the end of anthropocentrism and anthropocentric metaphysics; philosophy of science and anthropology followed up, imposing the idea of different types of metaphysics, as well as different concepts of nature, concepts of different natures. Their criticism is necessitated, urgent: in a world deprived of its own foundations, reaching the boundary of the possibility for the production of meaning (a production, of which nature remains both a universal imaginary foundation and a universally proposed justification), nature demands a turnover. Nature bursts into luxuriance, cracking up the shell of its ossified concept. It demands to be conceived not as nature, but as something else, as something completely different: an unnamable span of forces and constellations whose temporary traversing constitutes the human perspective.

Hence, upon this foundation the interest towards the ‘things of the world’ has been affirmed anew. The common denominator of this new front: the rejection of anthropocentrism and the central category of humanist metaphysics – the subject. Regrettably, the legitimate radical criticism has led to an overdetermined privilege of ‘objects’, while the concept of object remains inseparable from the subject/object dichotomy, i.e. it has been negatively re-affirmed by this concept. 

In opposition to this unreflected tendency, the dynamic ontology I have been struggling for the last two decades insists on the surcritical retention of the concept of subject, that is to say an agent.  We cannot exclude the forces, the dynamics and the negativity from the world; we cannot reduce the poietic and transformative power of chaos or the cosmos. Our task is to confront things – or rather confront them in their midst – as agents of complex simultaneous or even hetero-simultaneous processes. In this respect, dynamic ontology, and the transformative materialism related to it, establishes the preconditions for understanding and experimenting with the poietic and auto-poietic potentiality of things.

There is no intransient thing. Things are agents – actions that effect transformations of complex multitudes and constellations of forces. This is why the central problem of transformative materialism is the problem of change, the problem of movement, μεταβολή, hence the problem of the dialectical connection between things and processes, between compositions and transformations. In the perspective of transformative materialism, things are conceived as dynamic forms and forces. Therefore, things can and must be conceived only as elements of dynamic ontologies.

Furthermore, the experimental hypothesis of this reflexive domain is based on the suggestion that the presently proposed method of transformative materialism is grounded in the very origin of the concept of nature. 

Art does not just imitate nature: already Aristotle moved beyond his own revolutionary idea which has become a misconceived dogma. What we call art is a complex conceptual instrument, allowing first and foremost the manifestation of potentiality that has preconditioned the definition of nature as nature – its poietic, creative character. Thus, in his Physics – rightfully considered to be the key work for the invention of the concept of nature, at least within the ‘Western tradition’ – Aristotle states the following: ‘generally art in some cases completes what nature cannot bring to a finish, and in others imitates nature.’ (199а14). However, this posits nature and art in an initial relation of supplementarity that will be elaborated and radicalised for centuries onwards. 

The idea of magia naturalis, natural magic, is grounded precisely on such dynamic foundations, developed and elaborated by philosophical and scientific conceptions, as well as by the practice of mystical knowledge, primarily by Neoplatonic Aristotelianism. This idea was to be further developed by Renaissance humanists where it expressed the heretic notion of creative acts produced by natural forces and of nature itself as a creator. The concept of creative nature, later on termed by Spinoza as natura naturans, which progressively attains self-autonomy detached from the idea of an all-encompassing Creator, or rather conceives itself as an absolute Creator, was at the very heart of alchemy and astrology, while giving impetus to the development of natural sciences. The magical power of nature: uncanny figures, unimaginable forces, inhuman desires.

 

*


Magia Naturalis expands the reflexive and experimental field of MAGIA NATURALIS, Phase 1, the eponymous exhibition conceived and organised by Boyan Manchev and Vesselina Sarieva with the participation of Bignia Wherli, Marta Djourina and L.

 

MAGIA NATURALIS, Phase I: EXHIBITION, REFLEXIVE ENVIRONEMENT

Magia Naturalis

by Boyan Manchev and Vesselina Sarieva, with Bignia Wehrli, Marta Djourina, L

Magia Naturalis, a meeting ground of complicities, coincidences and clashes, explores nature as force by way of fantastic philosophical acts and unexpected transformations of artistic media. It operates not so much with objects, acts or relations, as with a scope of intensities where ephemeral constellations and stark powerful lines flash forth. In this respect, the exhibition raises the question of cooperation: the agents, the subjects, the forces. The forces that animate concepts and (art)works.

Magia Naturalis will therefore open up an experimental space of reflection where simulated possibilities of the unimaginable (forthcoming) nature and the unimaginable (forthcoming) art will be investigated. It is not a question about nature conceived as an ungraspable origin duly furnished as a museum herbarium – it is about nature as an ever forthcoming unimaginable force, as an art of what is yet to come.

Natural magic: an experimental possibility for creative intervention into the space-time coordinates of a singular system of relations, which sustains it on the level of a delicate, yet intensive meta-stability.

So, magic is to be here conceived as the unimaginable power of forthcoming nature which can be grasped either through some sort of fantastic science, or through the creative potentiality of matter itself – the artistic poiesis. At this point, the future of nature and the future of art will be conceived as one and the same thing.

Nature is a space of sprouting forces: it is forthcoming by necessity. The reflexive space where the problematics of Magia Naturalis will operate in the experimental-fantastic mode of this philosophical laboratory will also provide a scope for the activity of these unpredictable forces.   

 

(To be continued)

The Knot of Time, Meteora

Every beam of space is tightened into a knot of time, every fiber – into a stitch. A spider-orifice, this hole in the belly whence time passes through. We are the dis-paired, the paired children of time, our cobweb is the insect-star dissemination, our vice is the section of the event. There, under the meteor shower, is the section of the event. There, under the meteor shower, we unfold the feathery fan of the comet. 

*

Thus, weather manifests as existential alter-temporality: it is the weather of potentiality as opposed to the time of actuality.

The weather of our potentiality.

Hence, we are obsessed with meteorology: our shared obsession is a symptom of our co-partiality, or even our complicity with the weather of fluids, with the unpredictable and potent weather of meteors. We are accomplices of the fluids and the meteors.

We are meteors.

The weather of meteors is ripe with (unconditional) contingency, with (fatal) exigency, with energy and with beauty.

Excerpt from Boyan Manchev, The New Athanor. Prolegomena to Philosophical Fantastic (Sofia: Metheor, 2019/2020), p. 172-173.