The radical denial reprised: skin of the world.

by Arran James

The radical denial of reality, crystallised in the declaration that ‘reality itself is speculative’, does not end in a species of idealism or deconstructive deferral of some real-to-come.Instead it is to assert the real of the Cosmos understood not as in the overmining concept of Universe-as-Totality or Nature as a distinct realm from the cultural but as the in-itself thingliness of which each thing keeps hidden as it gives itself to-us. Cosmos is the virtual source, the withdraw aspect, the generalisation of the Baudrillardian concept of the ‘objective Illusion of the World’, the empty space of the in itself indifferent even to itself. This dark and hermetic real, this Gnostic real, is exactly what the radical denial affirms. The everyday, quotidian reality of phenomenal experience and perception is an epidermal world. It is the ongoing production of the space of Illusion.

Yet Illusion is not a deception. What it produces is real. And what Illusion is productive of is only this epidermal layer. Biology makes no ontological problem of the relation of the skin to the bone. If we got rid of Illusion there would be nothing to conjure that layer of reality that we come into contact with- the Aesthetic Real.

In this sense, all reality is Illusory. The Illusion of reality is what exceeds our intelligibility and what generates that intelligibility, what is and what we can’t represent to ourselves. To deny reality is to affirm this sense of reality-in-itself, approachable perhaps only in Catastrophic instances (or, in computational terms, glitches). Reformulated in poetic and nontheistic sense, the death of God, the nonexistence of God, and the presence of God are all of the Illusion of God.

Virilio once wrote of a new stereo-reality produced by mediatic technologies that generated intense anxieties and ontological disequilibrium, maps that substituted themselves for territories that can’t disappear. What if, instead, this stereo-reality is merely an expression of what reality has always been?

Anxiety. Panic. Doubt. Truth. We only see the skin of the world.