The Technics of Prehension : On the Photography of Nicolas Baier

Nathan Brown, Assistant Professor, Department of English, Program in Critical Theory, UC Davis, 2009

The true philosophic question is, How can concrete fact exhibit entities abstract from itself and yet participated in by its own nature?
‐ Alfred North Whitehead, Process and Reality

The world in which we think is not the world in which we live.
‐ Gaston Bachelard, The Philosophy of No

When I met Nicolas Baier in Montréal last autumn, he spoke of extinction. His own death, even the death of those close to him: these do not entirely trouble him, he said. Though the fact of their inevitability may sadden, that fact is not completely refractory to affect, reflection, resolution. But the extinction of the species—the vanishing of consciousness from the planet, perhaps the cosmos—this he finds unassimilable. It is a source of dread more fundamental than the affection of a body. The thought of extinction lodges in the mind at once as a kernel that cannot be thought through and as a disintegration that cannot be integrated. “Extinction,” writes Ray Brassier in Nihil Unbound, “portends a physical annihilation which negates the difference between mind and world, but which can no longer be construed as a limit internal to the transcendence of mind…because it implies an exteriority which unfolds or externalizes the internalization of exteriority concomitant with consciousness and its surrogates.”1 The thought of extinction exfoliates the thought of death itself: it opens the surface of this thought, exposes it, while casting it off into an abyss of unthinking matter whose thoughtlessness remains inappropriable by cognition.

Baier is a photographer, by which I mean that he digitizes the surfaces of antique mirrors and arrays lush black ink jet prints of their distressed opacities over 30 ft of gallery space.

Nicolas Baier, Vanitas 01, 2007‐2008

Through a microscope, he meticulously photographs a postage stamp‐sized slice of meteorite over 4000 times and then assembles these thousands of photographs into a glossy 6×8 foot enlargement of impeccably precise resolution and immersive depth.

Nicolas Baier, Meteorite 01, 2008

When a computer crash saturates his monitor with a color field of densely pixelated red lines, receding toward an apparently distant horizon over a crimson sea beneath an incarnadine sky, he renders this image as a chromogenic transparency and displays it in a light box under the title Failed (2008).

Nicolas Baier, Failed, 2008

When he travels to the south of France to view prehistoric cave paintings, Baier photographs the bare stone wall beside these inaugural images, recording the nonrepresentational traces, contours, and fractures of the rock.

Nicolas Baier, Grotte, 2010

At Parc des Buttes‐Chaumont in Paris, he photographs a stream of light pouring through to the interior of a man‐made cave built at the order of Napoleon III. The resulting composition, Photons (The World of Ideas), is a digital allegory of the cave in twenty‐five carefully arranged ink jet prints. If we look at the composition carefully, we can see from the angle of the light that Baier has inverted the image, so that light seems to fall up at a diagonal to stalagmites rather than down through hanging stalactites. It is the image of an inverted Platonism: a materialism of the Idea wherein it is the lens rather than the eye that turns away from Simulacra toward the Eidos, if only to render a simulacral image of that turning as a portrait of the medium. Digital photography, here, might be taken as the state of an art of exteriorization that took its course within caves millennia ago, and which now returns to render the materialist truth of those simulacral exteriorizations: that not only the image but the stone wall itself are media.

Nicolas Baier, Photons (The World of Ideas), 2010

Across the gallery from Photons, poised on the facing wall behind an 8 foot square pane of plexiglass, hovers a glass replica of Baier’s left eye ball. It is an eye that does not see, but which presides over the scene as we look at its blind looking. Like Lacan’s sardine can glinting in the sea, it draws our gaze. And insofar as we turn our back upon it, toward Photons, we can feel ourselves prehended by the Gaze itself, occupying a specific position within the field of vision of which the photographic apparatus functions as prosthesis. In Baier’s installation, The World of Ideas is both a visual image upon which we look and a relation, which has to be thought, to an eye that does not see, to in‐visibility. The field of the Gaze is this mediated relation of the sensible and the intelligible, a field in which we come to feel the factical presence of our body situated not only between looking and being somehow blindly looked at, but also between eye and mind, photons and Ideas. Two mediations then: the corporeal presence of a body and the technical reproduction of an image and an eyeball.

Nicolas Baier, Photons (left) and Without Title, 2010 (right)

In Photons (The World of Ideas) the light of the intelligible is cast as material photons into the cave, illuminating within the order of the sensible an opaque surface for an eye that does not see.

In Vanitas 01, Baier’s monumental assemblage of scanned mirrors, this relation of light to surface to sight to the technics of photography is reversed, or approximately so. Here the reflective surface of the mirror is not transmitted as an image; rather, its surface is rendered opaque by a process of digital recording that devours whatever light it reflects back to the sensor. “The scanner captures only the marks or the missing parts,” notes Baier.

“In closed circuit, the reflective plane does not receive information (the mirror facing itself). Once digitized, the avatar is revealed: a somber deep black span.”2

Nicolas Baier, Vanitas 01, 2007‐2008 (detail)

Reflection is subtracted from the surface by an absorptive recording of the light it casts, such that “in these images the surface does not reflect the viewers’ likenesses back to them.”3 The viewer’s likeness—my own image, which I would have seen—is subtracted along with the reflective surface: erased. In its place we are confronted with a “somber deep black span” of “marks or missing parts.” It is as if the tain of the mirror, its obverse, had bled through to its hither side. As if these marks and missing parts, seen in lieu of ourselves, were the uncanny residue of this reversal. As if it had become the vocation of photography to transmit the reversal of the obverse of the image.

As if—but this is not what happens. What we see is not a reversal (itself a function of a mirror), but rather the remorseless exposure of a surface shorn of reflection: facticity rather than phantasm. It is the function of the mirror phase, in Lacan’s account, to give way onto an “inexhaustible squaring of the ego’s audits,” torn as the I is, at the moment of its emergence as imago, by its splitting between identity and alienation, insufficiency and anticipation. And it is the mediation of the image—as exteriorization—that casts the specular “lure of spatial identification” which thus captivates the subject and “turns out fantasies.”4

The effect of Baier’s Vanitas is more on the order of the scene from Lowry’s Under the Volcano analyzed by Clement Rosset in Le Réel: Traité de l’idiotie. “Why was he here,” the Consul in Lowry’s novel asks himself: “why was he always more or less, here?” “He would have been glad of a mirror,” Lowry writes, “to ask himself that question. But there was no mirror. Nothing but stone.”5 For Rosset, the substitution of stone for mirror is emblematic of the idiocy of the real by which the Consul is confronted. The problem is not, as for Lacan, that of a spatial capture precipitated by the doubling of the real as an image, but rather the recondite and stupid sufficiency of the real to itself, over and against one’s desire for reflective self‐consciousness:
To know oneself, to know who one is and why one is there, one must have a mirror; but the ambient world offers him nothing other than stone….There are, in effect, two great possibilities of contact with the real: rough contact, which runs up against things and draws from them nothing other than the feeling of their silent presence; and smooth contact, polished, in a mirror, which replaces the presence of things with their apparition in images. Rough contact is a contact without double; smooth contact does not exist without the help of the double.6

Whereas Medusa turns to stone when confronted by the mirrored doubling of her own gaze, Baier’s Vanitas draws us into the idiocy of the real by turning the mirror itself to stone, subtracting its doubling function as a specular apparatus through the photographic representation of its underlying opacity. To confront Vanitas is to confront a technical doubling of the real put under erasure, cancelled out, as double, by the transmission of an obdurate absorption. In place of a reflection, a “somber deep black span” which one cannot see through or into. And again: it is the mediation of technics that performs this autosubtraction of the specular double—the mediation of a device (the digital scanner) which traces nothing other than the residue or remainder of a reflective mirage.

Mirror and stone. Cave painting and digital scanner. The rock wall beside the primordial inscription of an image and the somber deep black span beneath the surface of a specular double. These are not only the preoccupations of Baier’s work as a photographer but also of Bernard Stiegler’s work as a philosopher. Both are obsessed by an uncanny teleology of exteriorization—uncanny insofar as it is a teleology without origin or end.7 In Technics and Time, 1 Stiegler will brood upon what he calls “the de‐fault of origin” ungrounding the emergence of both the technical object and the human species. From this de‐fault a coevolutionary process of “the technical inventing the human, the human inventing the technical” takes place through the slow course of a “genetic drift” whereby the development of the who and the what, of the cortex and the tool, take place together.8 Stiegler’s important revision of Heidegger’s existential analytic, via Derridean grammatology, consists in establishing that both historicality (the already‐there) and projective anticipation (being‐toward)—as well as the ruptural temporalizing of their noncoincidence— depend in the first instance upon technics: upon the exteriorization of retention through the tool, the trace, the inscription, the organization of inorganic matter qua recording.

This exteriorization of retention is effected in stone. Stiegler’s questions—“what mirage of the cortex feels itself, as pathbreaking, in the hardness of flint; what plasticity of gray matter corresponds to the flake of mineral matter?”—route the coevolution of technics and the human through a process of “embryonic fabrication”9 that cannot be localized on either side of the apparent divide between animal and man, inorganic and organic matter, technical object and living being. The différance of the de‐fault of origin transpires, at a stroke, between the who and the what as the glacial unfolding of a technological relation of being and time.10 This relation, effected in stone, is what Stiegler will call “a mirror proto‐stage”:

Différance is below and beyond the who and the what; it poses them together, a composition engendering the illusion of an opposition. The passage is a mirage: the passage of the cortex into flint, like a mirror proto‐stage. This proto‐mirage is the paradoxical and aporetic beginning of “exteriorization.” It is accomplished between the Zinjanthropian and the Neanthropian, for hundreds of thousands of years in the course of which the work in flint begins, the meeting of matter whereby the cortex reflects itself. Reflecting itself, like a mirrored psyche, an archaeo‐ or paleonotological mode of reflexivity, somber, buried, freeing itself slowly from the shadows like a statue out of a block of marble. The paradox is to have to speak of an exteriorization without a preceding interior: the interior is constituted in

If, for Rosset, there are two possibilities of contact with the real—the stone and the mirror—for Stiegler the distinction between these modalities of contact (immanent and reflective) is undone by the différance of their double emergence as tools, as technics, whereby the distinction of matter and psyche is “abysmally mirrored” in and as stone.12

Rendered by digital technology, the distressed opacity of Baier’s mirrors returns us to this primal scene: to the in‐difference or différance of the stone and the mirror, the rough and the polished, of immanent and reflective modalities of contact with the real.

Drawing together Lacan and Rosset, we could say that by drawing the mirror’s obverse ground through to its hither‐side, by exposing the dark ghost of its tain where the polished surface of reflection should be, Baier plunges us back into an opaque miseenabyme wherein reflection itself, the capacity for reflexive interiority, is carved into stone, coming into being as the psychic obverse of a technical exteriorization of memory: “the double work of a double différance abysmally mirrored.”13 “Facticity rather than phantasm,” I said, by way of contrasting Rosset and Lacan. But with Stiegler in mind we might say that it is the coevolution of facticity and phantasm that is legible in Baier’s work. The “somber deep black span” of Vanitas is an “archaeo‐ or paleontological mode of reflexivity, somber, buried,” one that has to be located right at (à même) the surface of contact between gray matter and mineral matter, the pathbreaking though which the mirage of the cortex feels itself in the hardness of flint.

It is the sensibility of such contact that we can call “prehension.” The term “prehension” might be taken to designate a regime of sense that cannot properly be grasped through the distinction between the stone and the mirror, as these figures are deployed by Rosset. A prehension entails neither brute contact with the sheer idiocy of the real, of things, which “draws from them nothing other than the feeling of their sillent presence,” nor the specular lure of the mirror, “which replaces the presence of things with their apparition in images.”14 A prehension is a determinate bond, insofar as it either excludes or includes another item in the real internal constitution of an actual entity or occasion.15 A positive prehension is not merely the feeling of the silent presence of another actual entity, since it entails the inclusion of that entity within the percipient subject; nor does it only entail the replacement an actual entity with its apparition, since even the formation of such an apparition already entails the inclusion of the presence of that thing within one’s own constitution, and since even the exclusion of an item through a négative prehension (rather than its specular replacement in experience) still constitutes a determinate bond. To speak of a “prehension” is to speak of a mode of experience that does not entail either the brute registration of material facticity or the reflective doubling of specularity implied by the “mirror proto‐stage” theorized by Stiegler. Prehension, rather, is a term applicable to the double effectuation by flint and cortex of a “somber, buried” mode of reflexivity emerging over evolutionary time. Or it applies to the movement of a scanner’s sensor over the surfaces recorded in Vanitas, its absorption of the light that the reproduction of these surfaces will not reflect back to the viewer’s gaze. Between Photons and Vanitas, it is the technics of prehension that is at stake for Baier: the manner in which contact, recording, exteriorization mediate any relation to the real (through technics), whether the stone wall of the cave or the surface of the mirror, via flint or digital sensor. A term like the technics of prehension might be of use to Stiegler, insofar as the conceptual rigor of his discourse is sometimes compromised by scopic metaphors that effectively anthropomophize the “double plasticity” that he means to specify. “Cortex and equipment are differentiated together, in one and the same movement,” he writes:
The issue is that of a singular structural coupling in exteriorization that we are calling an instrumental maietics, a “mirror proto‐stage” in the course of which the differentiation of the cortex is determined by the tool just as much as that of the tool by the cortex: a mirror effect whereby one, looking at itself in the other, is both deformed and formed in the process [l’un se regardant dans l’autre qui le déforme s’y forme].16

Strictly speaking, it is not clear that either cortex or tool “looks at” or “regards itself” in the other. But what we can say is that they prehend one another. We can say that the deformation and formation each undergoes through its relation to the other opérâtes through a prehensive bond established by the structural coupling of technical exteriorization. And this would be to speak of the technics of prehension.

Baier’s latest work—Project Star (Black), an installation exhibited in the fall of 2010 as part of the exhibition Transformations—is a stunning demonstration of his commitment to thinking through the capacity of new media art to experiment with the technics of prehension, and thus with what Stiegler calls an “instrumental maieutics” bound to the somber reflexivity of the de‐fault of origin.

Nicolas Baier, Project Star (black), 2010

If we turn away from Photons (The world of ideas) from our eerie position between a digital allegory of the cave and an unseeing eyeball—and if we look toward the back wall of the gallery housing Transformations, we find our image reflected in a broken mirror, its fractures spiraling outward like a spider’s web from a singular point of impact. Its title is a repetition: Vanitas.

Nicolas Baier, Vanitas, 2010

Arrayed on the walls surrounding this fractured repetition of Baier’s earlier work are several mysterious objects. Immediately to the right, a white ink jet print stretched around a deep frame depicts a caved in hole at its center. Titled Impact, the piece seems to be a non‐reflective double of Vanitas. It appears to be collapsed inward by a collision which the adjacent mirror projects and distributes outward, but in fact it is the image of such a collapse—a somewhat eerily two‐dimensional photograph of an unspecified impact sustained by the wall of Baier’s studio.

Nicolas Baier, Impact, 2010

To the right of Impact are photographs of two circular aluminum paint trays titled Satellite 01 and Satellite 02. Each is mounted on two‐inch deep aluminum tondo, machined as a conic section receding toward the wall, and both trays bear traces of an unspecified grainy black substance. Across the room from these photographs is an oval canvas densely covered with what appears to be the same dark substance with which the trays are stained.

Nicolas Baier, Satellite 01, 2010, Satellite 02, 2010

Nicolas Baier, Monochrome (black), 2010

The stained trays activate a strange sense of the black painting they confront across the room as the residue of its own composition. The substance of that composition, distributed as a rough, somber surface across the canvas, seems to draw in all the light of the gallery’s white walls into is own opacity, stabilizing the play of reflections and repetitions by which it is surrounded. The piece is titled Monochrome (black).

Nicolas Baier, Star (black), 2010

At the center of the installation I have been describing, functioning as a point around which it pivots, is a large acrylic, graphite, and steel sculpture titled Star (Black). It appears to be a massive hunk of silver ore extracted from the earth, polished, and displayed on a rectangular stone plinth resembling Kubrick’s black monolith. But in fact, what we are looking at is a replica of another object that is nowhere present, though its traces surround us: what might seem to be its impact against a white canvas, its collision with a fractured mirror, its liquefied residue in two painter’s trays, the thick distribution of its opaque substance across an oval canvas that is poised, like a pitch black eye, above the sculpture in the middle installation. Based on a digital model generated by a 3D scan and then printed with a stereolithography machine, Star (Black) is a vastly enlarged reproduction of a palmsized nugget of graphite meteorite acquired from Diablo Canyon, Arizona.

Nicolas Baier, Project : photo 01, Star (black)

Having held this piece of meteorite in my hand in November of 2009, having written my name with it on a sheet of paper, having watched its owner toss it in his hand like a magician with something else up his sleeve, a simple question concerning this small but curiously heavy object comes to mind when confronted with Baier’s installation: where is it?

The object which seems to motivate the production of Baier’s installation is not directly included within it. Within the installation, it is nowhere, but it is not nothing. It is vanished, but it has become the remains of its vanishing. One could say that the object is a “trace” (the title of another Baier exhibition). But one might also say that, at once negated and preserved by the becoming of its transformations, the object is mediated in the strict sense of Hegel’s Logic :
The resultant equilibrium of coming‐to‐be and ceasing‐to‐be is in the first place becoming itself. But this equally settles into a stable unity. Being and nothing are in this unity only as vanishing moments; yet becoming as such is only through their distinguishedness. Their vanishing, therefore, is the vanishing of becoming or the vanishing of vanishing itself. Becoming is an unstable unrest which settles into a stable result…This result is the vanishedness of becoming, but it is not nothing.17

Settling into the stable result of the installation’s central sculpture, but also traced through its residual relation to other surrounding objects, the nugget of meteorite participates in the vanishedness of becoming. It is caught up in a process of mediation without origin that I have called, splicing Stiegler with Whitehead and thinking here through Hegel, the technics of prehension.

This process is technical not only because it interrogates transformations that occur through the mediation of 3D scanners and stereolithography but also, from the perspective of Stiegler’s analytic of technics and time, because it involves recording. It is a process of prehension for much the same reason. For Whitehead a prehension is not only “the activity whereby an actual entity effects its own concretion of other things” (“actual entities involve one another by reason of their prehensions of each other”); it is also the activity by which an actual occasion reproduces the “perpetual perishing” of the past and the present.

Whitehead specifies two kinds of process or “fluency,” both of which depend upon the function of prehension. First, concrescence is “the process in which the universe of many things acquires an individual unity in a determinate relegation of each item of the ‘many’ to its subordination in the constitution of the novel ‘one.’”18 Concrescence is the processual composition of one actual entity among others. Second, there is the fluency of transition from particular existent to particular existent. “Transition” (and we might consider Whitehead’s term as analogous to the title of Baier’s exhibition, Transformations) entails a perishing of the process of an actual entity whereby its particular existence is constituted as “an original element in the constitutions of other particular existents elicited by repetitions of process.”19 These two kinds of fluency have a precise relation: transition is the process whereby any actual entity becomes the datum for a new concrescence.20

To speak of “the technics of prehension” is to specify the mutual pertinence of Stiegler’s and Whitehead’s conceptual itineraries as follows: the tool and the cortex each inform the other, they differentiate one another—the tool taking on the character of organized inorganic matter, the cortex undergoing the dehiscence of projective anticipation—insofar as a play of transition and concrescence develops between them in the mode of “structural coupling.” That is: the coevolution of technics and the human, a coevolutionary process that emerges from the mutual prehension of hand and flint, depends upon a particular relation of transition and concrescence whereby the technical exteriorization of memory as recording—what Stiegler calls the tertiary memory of technical retention21—entails the processual constitution of facticity out of which the novelty of further invention (projection, anticipation, planning) will emerge. “It is the process of anticipation itself that becomes refined and complicated with technics,” writes Stiegler. Technics is “the mirror of anticipation, the place of its recording and of its inscription as well as the surface of its reflection, of the reflection that time is, as if the human were reading and linking his future to the technical.”22 Epiphylogenesis is Stiegler’s term for the tracing of time as a process of technical retention and transmission, split between facticity and anticipation: a history of traces in which what develops (process, genesis) is conserved (concrescence, epigenesis) and passed on (transition, epiphylogenesis) through the coupling cortex/flint. Thus “flint is the first reflective memory, the first mirror.”23

To think “the technical inventing the human, the human inventing the technical, technics as inventive as well as invented”24 is not to formulate a theory of prehensions in general, but rather to think the specificity of the sort of prehensions made possible by the coevolutionary development of technics. What is at stake is nothing less than the relation of thought to the object, to technics, and to time.

These relations are precisely what are at stake in Baier’s exhibition, Transformations, and particularly in the installation Project Star (Black). If cortex/flint is the coupling from which the history of technics unfolds (“the first reflective memory”) what sort of prehensions evolve as epiphylogenesis passes over into technical syntheses of memory made possible by digital technologies, “new media”? And how are we to situate the object among these prehensions, these syntheses?

While the destabilization by digital technologies of the indexical function of photographic recording and of the reliability of the photographic frame has often been emphasized by theorists of new media,25 it is evidently the indexical exactitude of digital recording that comes to the fore in Baier’s installation. The capacity to precisely record and reproduce subtle contours of an object’s surface—to formalize its surface in three dimensions, to retain that form in a digital medium, and to characterize a precise threedimensional replica at a larger scale via stereolithography—this is made possible by the superior indexical exactitude of digital technologies. It is made possible by a Superior capacity to retain and transmit complex traces of an existent object. Baier’s Project Star (Black) plays with different instantiations of the index as trace, but all of these obsess over what Stiegler calls the “orthothetic” precision of digital images.26

Vanitas (2010) is perhaps the clearest emblem of this obsession. The piece does not directly present a fractured mirror that has been broken by some unspecified impact. Rather, Baier reports that he scanned the pieces of a broken mirror and then generated a vector document for each of the individual pieces. He then laboriously chiseled out réplicas of these fragments from other mirrors, assembling these replicated sections into an exact reproduction of the broken surface. This process, which took over three hundred hours, constitutes a glacial homage not only to the fraction of an instant during which fault lines initially spread from the point of contact across the mirror’s surface, but also to the indexical exactitude of scanning the broken pieces and then transferring this digital record into the vector space serving as sculptural model. Baier’s “craft” as a manual artist tests itself against the precision of these digital indices. The “reflective memory” first enabled by the coupling of cortex and flint now mirrors itself in carving of traces of traces, inscribing the time of the work into the materials of its production through a complex coordination of object, thought, eye, hand, tool, and mnemotechnics. This complex coordination is what Baier calls a “transformation,” and it this sort of transformation that I want to consider hère by attempting to conceptualize “the technics of prehension.”
As subjects, we prehend an object. And the object, as a subject, prehends us. In this sense, both tems of this relation may be considered what Whitehead calls a “subjectsuperject.”
In Baier’s work, what mediates this relation between two such entities—through retention—is technics. In the process of producing Star (Black) through 3D scanning, vector modeling, stereolithography, manual assembly, and painting (the surface is coated with graphite dust), an “object” becomes a “technical object.” In this case, this becoming proceeds through what Whitehead terms the “division” or what Baier calls the “splitting” (séparation) of the meteorite: its analysis into “a definite quota of prehensions.”27 A sequence of 3D scans of the object divides it into twenty discrète sections, each functioning as the digital map of a determinate surface area of the meteorite.

Nicolas Baier,
Project : photo 01, Star (black)
Project : photo 04 Star (black)
Project : splitting, Star (black)
Project : splitting, Star (black)

This division of the object into “a definite quota of prehensions” (by a series of technical prehensions) then becomes the basis for its enlarged reconstruction via stereolithography. Each of these digitally recorded sections of the meteorite’s surface is “printed” as a discrète unit, and the twenty resulting pieces are then assembled by Baier into a compound object: a “concrescence” of these discreet prehensions.

Nicolas Baier, Project : 9 stages, Star (Black)

Mediating this transformation at every step, as the condition of possibility for its taking place, is a technical process of recording and transcription. This involves the exact retention of the formal constitution of the object as a digital code and its reconstruction on the basis of those retentional traces. To be precise: the division and reconstruction of the object via the technics of prehension entails an articulated processual sequence: formalization, retention, characterization. What is at issue here is not primarily the affective “framing” of digital mediation by a human body (as for Mark Hansen), nor primarily the inhuman transmission of coded information by computational systems (as for Friedrich Kittler), nor the middle road of “intermediation,” involving “emergent” processes operative through dynamic feedback loops between bodies and code, humans and computers (as for N. Katherine Hayles). Rather, what is primarily at issue is the technics of prehension: an articulated, transversal process of recording and transmission, concrescence and transition, epigenesis and phylogenesis (what Stiegler calls epiphylogenesis) mediated by tertiary memory. This terminology enables us to drop not only the initial distinction between “the human” and “the computer” that is implicitly relied upon in common by Hansen, Kittler, and Hayles (however it is deconstructed or intermediated) and rather begin with flat ontology of actual entities/occasions and prehensions offered by Whitehead. Moreover, thinking with Whitehead also enables us to shed the rhetorical entanglements encountered by Stiegler due to his retention of the term “the human” to designate the conceptually deconstructed (yet terminologically retained) site of a structural coupling with technics. From this perspective we can see that it is not the phenomenological nor “emergent” encounter of a “human” and a “tool” that is of interest in Baier’s work (nor necessarily the inhuman processing and transmission of digital code), but rather the manner in which the pertinence of those categories is displaced by the specific particularity of reticulated prehensions instantiated in differential media, constituting and traversing processes of concrescence and transition. It is only from such a perspective, and through such a terminology, that we can grasp and come to terms with what Stiegler refers to as the “default of origin”: it is within this de‐fault (neither “before” nor “after”) that such categories as “human” and “tool” come to make sense in the first place, or seem to. But this is as much as to say that they can neither begin nor end making sense because they have no origin and no telos. They have to be abandoned not because they have been superseded, but because they are always already abandoned to the technics of prehension, to the constitution of the already there as tertiary memory that Stiegler unearths within Heidegger’s existential analytic.

Let us return to our question: where is the meteorite that we seem to find everywhere displaced in Project Star (Black)? What counts as the trace of such an object, and where can we find one? Does it help us to grapple with these questions if we know that Monochrome (black) was painted with the liquefied powder of the meteorite, and that the traces of this powder are what we see photographed in Satellite 01 and Satellite 02? Baier states that the oval canvas of Monochrome is intended to suggest anistrophies of cosmic microwave background radiation such as those recorded by the Wilkinson Microwave Anistrophy Probe or the Planck Surveyor.28

Anistrophy of the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation recorded by the Wilkinson Microwave Anistropy Probe

“It was an attempt to paint the universe with some star dust,” he says. So, in the terms of Peirce’s semiotics, is Monochrome (black) the icon of an anisotropy, a symbol of “the universe,” or an index of the powdered object of which its black surface is composed? Perhaps this question would be no more pressing than asking if the Mona Lisa is an icon of the woman it depicts or an index of the oils with which it is painted—were it not for the presence directly beneath Monochrome of an enlarged replica of the very powdered object with which it was painted. This replica is situated precisely where a viewer might stand in order to apprehend the surface of Monochrome. That is: the interrogation of these questions has already been undertaken by the composition of the installation in which Monochrome is included, and a mimetic reproduction of the object we ask after occupies the place of the questioner, in front of a broken mirror, between a universe painted with star dust and the mundane satellites deployed in the process of its production.

If we might infer from the provenance of Monochrome (black) and Star (Black) that both Vanitas (2010) and Impact are indices of the same meteorite of which it is a replica, traces of its collisions with two different surfaces, this turns out to be so only in a complex sense. The impact they record is actually that of Baier’s fist with a mirror and with the gypsum wall of his studio. If, as Baier says, these pieces record the impact of his fist “acting like a meteorite”29 then they record an idea evoked by an object enacted by a body recorded in a substrate. But given that the pieces of the broken mirror are scanned and re‐cut rather than directly exhibited, and given that Impact is an ink jet print of a digital photograph rather than the punctured slab of gypsum that Baier punched, what these pieces have in common is not their immediate presentation of an index but rather the technical médiation of indexical traces shifting through a network of prehensions. And if there is a destabilization of the indexical function of technical retention at issue in Baier’s work, it is not due to the malleability of digital media (since, again, it is the retentional exactitude of the latter that is foregrounded). Rather, it is due to the radical expansion of the category of the index to include any and all traces: conceptual, affective, mnemonic, corporeal, technical.

We can approach this radicalization of the index in Baier’s work by reading Peirce according to Whitehead’s principle of relativity, which asserts that “every item in its universe is involved in each concrescence.”30 According to the principle of relativity, “an actual entity is present in other actual entities” and “in fact if we allow for degrees of relevance, and for negligible relevance, we must say that every actual entity is present in every other actual entity.” To say that a sign functions as an icon or a symbol rather than an index is to account for degrees of relevance. Nevertheless, Whitehead’s principle of relativity entails a recognition of the sense in which every actual entity to some degree functions as an index of every other. Each concrescence, that is, bears a real relation, a determinate relation, to every item in its universe, and the actual entity it composes might be considered a “sign” of such relation. If an index, for Peirce, is “a sign determined by its dynamic object by virtue of being in a real relation to it”31 then a prehension is the vector of that determination, the real relation of an actual entity to an object which it includes within its own constitution as datum, cause, condition.

Thus, if the indexical function is an absolutely general modality of relation, what is crucial to Baier’s work as a photographer and conceptual artist is not only to seize but to delimit the play of such indexical traces: to construct and to specify a particular network of prehensions. He does so by exploring the technical conditions of their seizure and transmission, which I have called the technics of prehension. The problem of Baier’s installation, of his Project, is to specify what the installation includes, and this is largely what it means to ask “where” the object apparently motivating its transformations might be. If the transformations of the installation present differential concrescences emerging from prehensions of the vanished nugget meteorite (dissolved into the composition of Monochrome)—if these variously mediated traces of the object are concretized as a constellation of “art objects”—how are we to specify or to think the constitution of that which traverses this series of transformations? This is proximate to the basic question of Descartes’ wax experiment: where is the wax, as all of its sensible properties undergo transformations in time when held up to the heat of the fire, and what then is the essence of this body—what does it essentially include?

There are too many modifications of the object for the imagination to follow in their unfolding, “an immeasurable number of changes.” Abstracting from the mutability of secondary qualities, from any particular instantiation of the wax as this or that sensible datum, it is the mind alone that is capable of perceiving the intelligible object as extended, flexible, changeable: of grasping its primary qualities as irreducible to the particularity of any given concrescence.

We can situate Baier’s exploration of the technics of prehension by considering his approach to this problem in relation to two responses to Cartesian epistemology: that of Whitehead and that of Gaston Bachelard. For Whitehead the conclusions Descartes draws from the wax experiment would be exemplary of what he terms the “bifurcation of nature” endemic to modern philosophy and encapsulated by the distinction between primary and secondary qualities. In The Concept of Nature, Whitehead rejects this bifurcation of nature into what Wilfred Sellars will call the manifest and the scientific image, “the nature apprehended in awareness” and “the nature which is the cause of awareness.”32 “For natural philosophy,” asserts Whitehead in a famous passage, Everything we perceive is in nature. We may not pick and choose. For us the red glow of the sunset should be as much part of nature as are the molecules and electric wave by which men of science would explain the phenomenon. It is for natural philosophy to analyze how these various elements of nature are connected….We are instinctively willing to believe that by due attention, more can be found in nature than that which is observed at first sight. But we will not be content with less. What we ask from the philosophy of science is some account of the coherence of things perceptively known….The real question is, When red is found in nature, what else is found there also? Namely we are asking for an analysis of the accompaniments in nature of the discovery of red in nature.33

Crucially, Whitehead stresses the amplificatory rather than reductive vocation of scientific knowledge: the manner in which it enables an analysis of “accompaniments” of sensory perceptions without thereby “eliminating” the participation of the latter as part of nature.

Whitehead’s challenge to the bifurcation of nature subverts the distinction between “causal” and “apparent” components of an object by reframing both causality and appearance according to his theory of prehensions. But Whitehead does not account for the specificity of the technics of prehension in the constitution of scientific knowledge, and doing so will help us to grasp the specificity not only of scientific practice but also, in a different but closely related register, of an art practice like Baier’s.

The conclusions drawn by Gaston Bachelard concerning the epistemological implications of non‐Euclidean geometry and post‐classical physics might seem starkly opposed to those of Whitehead, insofar as Bachelard may seem to affirm the bifurcation of nature into regions of the manifest and scientific image. Bachelard affirms that “the world in which we think is not the world in which we live,”34 where the world in which we think is that of scientific representation and the world in which we live is that of affective and pragmatic sensory perception. What Bachelard calls “the philosophy of no,” he asserts, “would become a general doctrine if it could coordinate all the examples where thought breaks with the obligations of life.”35 The philosophy of no is Bachelard’s term for a scientific epistemology capable of making the distinction between intuition and scientific knowledge and clearing away the epistemological obstacles of the former as impediments to the latter.

Like Whitehead’s, however, Bachelard’s project is driven by a critique of what the former calls “the fallacy of misplaced concreteness.” The fallacy of misplaced concreteness abides by the doctrine of simple location, the notion that you can “adequately state the relation of a particular material body to space‐time by saying that it is just there, in that place; and, so far as simple location is concerned, there is nothing more to be said on the subject.”36

According to Whitehead, “this fallacy consists in neglecting the degree of abstraction involved when an actual entity is considered merely so far as it exemplifies certain categories of thought.” The problem with this fallacy is that “there are aspects of actualities which are simply ignored so long as we restrict thought to these categories.”37

The implicit critique of Kant these sentences contain is likewise leveled by Bachelard, who points out that the conditions of all possible experience laid out by Kant obtain only for a particular class of objects, one which turns out to be relatively restricted. Against the fallacy of misplaced concreteness and the restricted purview of the Kantian categories, Whitehead and Bachelard agree that “we must think of objects as being essentially in movement and seek for the conditions under which they can be considered to be at rest, as if fixed in intuitive space; we must no longer conceive objects, as we used to do, as being naturally at rest—as things used to be—and seek out the conditions which permit them to move.”38

For both Whitehead and Bachelard, this philosophical inversion is necessitated by the results of mathematics and the physical sciences. And indeed, though Bachelard’s theory of the epistemological break might seem at odds with the mainline of Whitehead’s persistent appeal to “concrete facts” and “immediate actual experience,”39 his theory is in fact an effort to situate the specificity of scientific knowledge in a manner that largely accords with basic principles of Whitehead’s thought. “Only too often,” Bachelard writes, the philosophy of science remains corralled in the two extremes of knowledge: in the study by philosophers of principles which are too general and in the study by scientists of results which are too particular. It exhausts itself against these two epistemological obstacles which restrict all thought: the general and the immediate.

It stresses first the a priori then the a posteriori, and fails to recognize the transmutation of epistemological values which contemporary scientific thought constantly executes between a priori and a posteriori, between experimental and rational values.40

This “transmutation of epistemological values”—a toggling between the a priori and the a posteriori, the empirical and the rational—is at the core of Bachelard’s epistemology of science. He recognizes that “empiricism and rationalism in scientific thought are bound together by a strange bond, as strong as the bond which joins pleasure and pain.” The “epistemological polarity” which he insists upon is not to be understood as a form of dualism. Rather, the “double pole” of scientific epistemology entails holding rationalism and empiricism apart in order to understand their intersection, their complex complementarity. “Indeed,” Bachelard states, “the one triumphs by assenting to the other : empiricism needs to be understood; rationalism needs to be applied.” “The one completes the other,” and to think scientifically is to place oneself in the epistemological terrain which mediates between theory and practice, between mathematics and experiment. To know a natural law scientifically is to know it as a phenomenon and a noumenon at one and the same time.”41

Like Whitehead’s, Bachelard’s epistemology is amplificatory rather than reductive: science conjoins perception and reason by constantly exposing each to the imperatives of the other.

This is what Descartes misses in his analysis of the wax experiment. For Descartes (to adopt Bachelard’s somewhat deviant use of Kantian terminology), the phenomenon is displaced by the noumenon, rather than amplified by and held together with it. To deploy a term used in passing by Althusser, we could characterize Bachelard’s epistemology as a rationalist empiricism.42

What Bachelard attends to more directly than Whitehead—and what will bring us back to the technics of prehension—is precisely the mediation the relation between rationalism and empiricism, theory and practice, which constitutes the “epistemological terrain” of science. What we find in this terrain, mediating between empiricism and rationalism, is the conjunction of technics (technique, technology) and formalization (proofs, formulae, inscribed chains of logical relations). “In order to establish a determinate scientific fact, it is necessary to put a coherent technique to work,” states Bachelard.43 A coherent technique conjoins technics and formalization: a rational coherence attested by legible demonstrations (formalization), an empirical rigor enabled by the disciplined application of procedures and instruments (technics). Extrapolating from Bachelard, we might also say that what mediates between these—between technics and formalization— are inscriptions. Rationalism and empiricism are conjoined, in their complex complementarity, through retentional traces of technically processed phenomena and relations among mathematical signs. We might graph this conjunction as follows:

Whitehead rejects the bifurcation of nature because it sharply distinguishes a “nature which is apprehended in awareness” from a “nature which is the cause” and then holds that “the meeting point of these two natures is the mind.”44 But Bachelard’s epistemology has no more place for this function of “mind” than Whitehead’s. Bachelard holds that “the world in which we think is not the world in which we live,” but what he means by thinking in this passage is the constitution, production, and representation of scientific knowledge: that is, its construction. If what he terms “the philosophy of no” is the general doctrine which would “coordinate all the examples where thought breaks with the obligations of life,” it is not “mind” but the practical, a‐subjective mediation of technics and formalization which is the organon of this coordination. The epistemological terrain of science is not merely that of prehensions but of the technics of prehension: of the transformation of technical retentions into chains of signifiers whose relations are strictly subject to correction.

Perhaps we begin to see how this encounter with the technics of prehension and its bond with formalization—through the detour of scientific epistemology—might inform our understanding of Baier’s photography. A photograph from Baier’s 2006 exhibition, Traces, provides a simple demonstration, an argument as it were. The photograph is titled Prehension.

Nicolas Baier, Prehension, 2006

Nicolas Baier, Invitation Card, Traces Exhibition, 2006

In the photograph directly above, the invitation card for Baier’s Traces exhibition, we see a “realistic” representation of the boundary of a cemetery in winter, marked in particular by the leafless branches of somber trees extending and twisting across a pale grey sky illuminated by a muted sun. In Prehension, a 3.5×4 foot ink jet print exhibited in the gallery at that exhibition, we find the particularly contorted tree toward the left of the image on the card inverted, as though growing upside down from the top of the frame. A text on a wall placard at the exhibition explains:
A friend and I were sketching out the premise of a video at the Mont Royal cemetery. While he was struggling to film a few rushes, I spotted this magnificently emaciated tree. It seemed as though it was trying as hard as it could, sick and deformed as it was, to hug the space around it close to itself.

The tree prehends the space around it: such is Baier’s prehension of the tree. It “seemed as though” it was doing so. In the photograph of this tree included in the exhibition, the frame has probably been cropped and the contrast and the color appear to have been adjusted (the sky from grey to a pale white background, the snow standing out more clearly against a rich brown trunk than it might otherwise). But the main gesture of the photograph is a simple one: the inversion of the image spatially disorients the viewer, more thoroughly involving us with the manner in which the tree “hugs” the space around it as we grope for a grip on the image in the absence of a gravitational foothold. In this case the technical mediation performs a reversal. The technical processing of Prehension entails a subtle mimesis of Baier’s prehension of the tree: of its deformity and its groping after space. Considered through its title, this relatively minor transformation of the digital image might be taken to reflexively encode the manner in which an object becomes a technical object (and an “art” object) through the sequential relation between a perception, an affect, a concept, and the technical mediation of digital photography.

In the case of Transformations, and of Project Star (Black) in particular, the treament of the object is obviously more complex. In November 2009 I hold in my hand an object; I perceive it. It is compact, heavy, uneven but smooth, scored with narrow crevices traversing its surface, pale black speckled with rust colored patches in its indentations. In September 2010 I see a pitch black material evenly spread across an oval canvas on the wall of a gallery, fading in places toward an opaque grey, broodingly matte but with glinting speckles distributed across its roughly pebbled surface. And in between this art object and the residue of its production (photographs of stained painting trays) is a massive reproduction of the object I once held, at once entirely transformed and uncannily faithful to “the original.” Again, what mediates these transformations is not only labor and “technique” (foregrounded by Satellite 01 and 02)—Baier’s manual skill as an artist and the conceptual integrity of his project—but also the sophisticated digital instruments enabling the production of Star (Black). The installation circulates around this object, this artwork, because as an icon of the nugget of meteorite it also functions as an index of a precise series of traces, of inscriptions that have conjoined technics and formalization. The form of this object as replica—a sort of “proof,” as it were, of the retentional exactitude of digital traces—is produced through the technics of prehension. The object is formalized by technical mediations: a complex series of instrumental recording techniques that construct and instantiate a model of the object in digital code, enabling that model to be reproduced in physical space.

It is the rigor of this process, “a coherent technique,” that lends the installation its conceptual integrity: the object is nowhere present, but nevertheless larger than ever and right in the middle of the room. It has become the coherence of its technical construction, and the coherence of its construction thus circulâtes throughout the becoming of its traces.

These traces both circulate and cohere. Everything is very still, an unstable unrest which settles into a stable result. What Whitehead would term the “conceptual feeling” of the installation is this “result” not so much as one piece or the other, or as their assemblage, but rather the feeling of an ambiguous yet determinate coherence among them. The object, existing neither here nor there as a simple location—but rather modulated in and through a series of particular transformations—has become the transversal resonance of their differential actualization. It inheres as much within the technics of prehension, the retentional/transcriptive mediation of its traces, as it does within the stable result we observe.

We can now return to the involvement of Baier’s work with the thought of extinction, with which we began. The thought of extinction involves us with the problem that Quentin Meillassoux has termed diachronicity: the possibility of thinking “a temporal distinction between thinking and being.”45 The problem is that if we are capable of thinking this disjunction, the temporal excess of being over thought, then we encounter the nonbeing of thought from within it. Whether we consider an ancestral past antecedent to the emergence thought or sensation, or a future ulterior to the extinction of thinking beings, dia‐chronicity confronts us with a question dismissed by the correlationist tradition of post‐Kantian philosophy: “how is thought able to think what there can be when there is no thought?”46 This question is speculative, insofar as it calls for a capacity to discourse about the outside, about that which is not constrained by the ambit of the human/world correlation. It calls upon thought to speculate upon an excess of being that confronts thought from within itself, wrenching it outside and projecting it beyond its own temporal finitude. To speculate about such an outside in a manner that is rational rather than purely conjectural requires the capacity of reason to address itself coherently to the in‐itself, to the absolute. This entails, for Meillassoux, a reassertion of the distinction between primary and secondary qualities, a reassertion that affirms the bifurcation of nature by orienting thought toward that which cannot become the datum of a prehension “for‐us,” since what we aspire to think is an in‐itself, qua in‐itself, existing both prior to and ulterior to the forus.

For Meillassoux this is a properly Cartesian project : In order to reactivate the Cartesian thesis in contemporary terms, and in order to state it in the same terms in which we intend to uphold it, we shall therefore maintain the following: all those aspects of the object that can be formulated in mathematical terms can be meaningfully conceived as properties of the object in itself.

All those aspects that can give rise to mathematical thought (to a formula or to digitization) rather than to a perception or sensation can be meaningfully turned into properties of the thing not only as it is with me, but also as it is without me.47

“To a formula or to digitization”: in his return to the mathematical rationalism of Cartesian philosophy, Meillassoux touches here upon a theory of inscription and of technics, though he does not elaborate such a theory in After Finitude. To situate the technics of préhension at this crux of his thought—where the mathematization of nature is recorded in a formula or by digitization—is still to think the complicity of technology with reason in producing a discourse that is inhuman and noncorrelational, a discourse that is capable of grasping diachronicity.

Thinking this complicity might enable us to account, for one thing, for the undertheorized problem of measure at the core of Meillassoux’s work (through what devices, instruments, and metrological procedures do we gauge the duration of ancestral time?). Furthermore, thinking this complicity allows us to grasp dia‐chronicity in a manner that does not rely upon an immediate access from within thought to its own outside, but rather operates through the filtration of correlational knowledge by technical systems of selection, retention, and transmission. It allows us to think the manner in which technics and formalization function as the filter or the sieve of the transcendental subject.

The technics of prehension—the transformation of the sensible by technical processes and the formalizations they enable—constructs “the thing not only as it is with me, but also as it is without me,” yet does so in a manner that cannot only be situated as a capacity of “reason.” It is not only philosophy that is “the organon of extinction.”48 Since time immemorial, as Stiegler shows, it is always already technics that projects thought from the de‐fault of origin to the time of extinction. The thought of extinction, then, is the exappropriation of thought by technics, the manner in which the vector of reason, of thinking, already bears its own outside within the default of its constitution.

This vector, this technical tendency which already throws thought outside itself before it comes into its own is one among the traces that Nicolas Baier photographs. It is the non‐site of his investigations, and the reason why his encounters with mirrors and meteorites are agitated by the problem of extinction. Thinking Meillassoux and Whitehead together with Bachelard and Stiegler, we can try to specify the nature of that agitation. For Whitehead, to split the real into two different realities, one of speculative physics and the other of intuition, is to construct “two natures,” where “one is conjecture and the other is dream.” Whitehead rejects this schism, while Meillassoux affirms it. But both fail to adequately theorize the manner in which it is the technics of prehension which médiates the relation of these “natures,” these two sides of the split real thought by modernity. With Stiegler, we can say that it is the technics of prehension which at once institutes and ungrounds the very project of speculation in the first instance. With Bachelard we can say
that the technics of prehension mediates a dialectic of the rational and the empirical which
constitutes the object as other than for‐us. Extrapolating from Meillassoux, we can say that
technics and formalization (a formula, a digitization) are the organon of the outside. With and against Whitehead, we can say that it is the technics of prehension that we encounter between speculation and intuition, conjecture and dream.

The technics of prehension, projecting thought outside itself from the somber mirror proto‐stage of mineral inscription to the monochrome opacity of a black star, is the ek‐stasis of conjecture and dream, the rigorous tracing of their différance by an inhuman mediation of rationalism and empiricism. To arrive at such a formulation is not only to think with Whitehead and Meillassoux and Bachelard and Stiegler, but also to think through the photography of Nicolas Baier.


1 Ray Brassier, Nihil Unbound: Enlightenment and Extinction (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2007), 229.

2 Nicolas Baier, “Vanitas” in Paréidolies/Pareidolias (Musée regional de Rimouski, 2009), 29.

3 Baier, Vanitas, 29.

4 Jacques Lacan, “The Mirror Stage as Formative of the I Function” in Écrits, trans. Bruce Fink (New York: Norton, 2006), 78.

5 Malcolm Lowry, Under the Volcano (New York: HarperCollins, 2000), 306. Qtd. in Clément Rosset, Le Réel: Traité de l’idiotie (Paris: Minuit, 1997), 43.

6 Rosset, 43 (my translation). Thanks to Knox Peden for first drawing my attention to this passage.

7 “Technics is the vector of any anticipation, only insofar as there is only de-fault of origin…the origin is at the end, and the end at the origin—it is with this one différance that there is time.” Bernard Stiegler, Technics and Time, 1, trans. Richard Beardsworth and George Collins (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1998), 260-261.

8 Stiegler, Technics and Time, 137.

9 Stiegler, Technics and Time, 135 (translation modified).

10 Stiegler, Technics and Time, 133.

11 Stiegler, Technics and Time, 141.

12 Stiegler, Technics and Time, 155.

13 Steigler, Technics and Time, 155.

14 Rosset, Le Réel, 43.

15 Alfred North Whitehead, Process and Reality (New York: Free Press, 1978), 41: “An actual entity has a perfectly definite bond with each item in the universe. This determinate bond is its prehension of that item. A négative prehension is the definite exclusion of that item from positive contribution to the subject’s own real internal constitution. This doctrine involves the position that a negative prehension expresses a bond. A positive préhension is the definite inclusion of that item into positive contribution to the subject’s own real internal constitution. This positive inclusion is called its ‘feeling’ of that item.”

16 Stiegler, Technics and Time, 158.

17 G.W.F. Hegel, The Science of Logic, trans. A.V. Miller (New York: Humanity Books, 1969), 106.

18 Whitehead, Process and Reality, 211.

19 Whitehead, Process and Reality, 210.

20 Whitehead, Process and Reality, 211.

21 Stiegler, Technics and Time, 246-248.

22 Stiegler, Technics and Time, 153.

23 Stiegler, Technics and Time, 142.

24 Stiegler, Technics and Time, 137.

25 See, for example, Lev Manovich, The Language of New Media (Cambridge, MIT: 2001) and Mark B.N. Hansen, New Philosophy for New Media (Cambridge: MIT: 2004).

26 On “orthotheticity”—the retentional exactitude of inscriptions—and for an investigation of the situation of contemporary techics within the theoretical framework developed by Stiegler in Technics and Time, 1, see Bernard Stiegler, Technics and Time, 2: Disorientation, trans. Stephen Barker (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2009).

27 Whitehead, Process and Reality, 19.

28 Email communication with the author, 11/03/10.

29 Email communication with the author, 11/03/10

30 Whitehead, Process and Reality, 24.

31 Charles Sanders Peirce, Semiotic and Significs: The Correspondence Between Charles S. Peirce and Victoria Lady Welby, ed. Charles S. Hardwick & J. Cook (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1977), 33.

32 Alfred North Whitehead, The Concept of Nature (New York: Prometheus, 2004), 31.

33 Whitehead, The Concept of Nature, 29, 41.

34 Gaston Bachelard, The Philosophy of No: A Philosophy of the New Scientific Mind, trans. G.C. Waterston (New York: Orion, 1968), 95.

35 Bachelard, The Philosophy of No, 95.

36 Alfred North Whitehead, Science and the Modern World (New York: Free Press, 1925), 49.

37 Whitehead, Process and Reality, 8.

38 Bachelard, The Philosophy of No, 94.

39 Whitehead, Process and Reality, 20.

40 Bachelard, Philosophy of No, 5.

41 Bachelard, Philosophy of No, 6.

42 Louis Althusser, “The Philosophical Conjuncture and Marxist Theoretical Research” (1966) in The Humanist Controversy and Other Writings, trans G.M. Goshgarian (London: Verso, 2003), 1-18.

43 Gaston Bachelard, The New Spirit of Science, trans. Arthur Goldhammer (Boston: Beacon, 1985).

44 Whitehead, The Concept of Nature, 31.

45 Quentin Meillassoux, After Finitude: An Essay on the Necessity of Contingency, trans. Ray Brassier (London: Continuum, 2008), 112.

46 Meillassoux, After Finitude, 121.

47 Meillassoux, After Finitude, 3.

48 Brassier, Nihil Unbound, 2007.