Language in Ernst Bloch’s Speculative Materialism: A Reading of Anacoluthon

Barron, Nathaniel Jerzy Philip (2017) Language in Ernst Bloch’s Speculative Materialism: A Reading of Anacoluthon. Doctoral thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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My thesis reads Ernst Bloch’s materialist ontology with the aim of producing a utopian perspective on language’s materiality. As my Introduction outlines, set against the backdrop of a contemporary renewal in speculative philosophy, the present context is marked by a twofold limitation: (1) the perdurant marginalisation of Bloch’s form of utopian speculation, serving to couch contemporary materialism in thoroughly un-prospective tendencies; and (2), a relative failure of contemporary speculative philosophy to reflect on language, a failure attributable to the long drawn-out dominance of post-structuralism’s linguistic form of relativism. To overcome these limitations I dedicate Chapter I of my thesis to expounding the core categories of Bloch’s materialism, casting a light on what I call its fundamental compositional structure: Incompleteness → Process → (possibility of an) Outfall, i.e. completion or arrival. In light of this, I argue that, placed within the horizon of Bloch’s materialism, incompleteness, process, and futural-directedness ought to be taken as cornerstones of language’s materiality. So as to better position what this means, in Chapter II a reading of the metaphysical Sens of Bloch’s materialism is given. There I consider Bloch’s materialism as a novel form of analogic metaphysics. Insofar as at the core of Bloch’s materialism there lies a metaphysical conception whereby being as such (e.g. Aristotle’s ontōs on) names an ultimate desire and not—pace the classical metaphysical tradition—an already existent beingness—a metaphysical conception Bloch proleptically terms the “ontology of not-yet being“—so then the essential dynamic of this materialism hinges on an incomplete analogy, for all things relate to that which is not-yet in existence; this not-yetness is the sustaining meaning of what is. In the final chapter I concretise my findings by turning to the question of language proper, reading “anacoluthon” as a speculative materialist figure of language which expressive this utopian analogic metaphysics. Anacoluthon denotes an interruption in syntactical flow (Greek: an-akóluthos, “not following“; German: Satzbruch, “sentence fracture/rupture“) and marginally features in Bloch’s corpus. But precisely because of its marginal status the figure possesses a real force in understanding language’s utopian materiality. Indeed, I read anacoluthia as expressive of the Blochian ontological composition. Anacoluthic discontinuities of speech are read as linguistic expressions of ontological incompleteness, ontological novelty, and ontological directedness to what is not yet. They linguistically express both the non-existence of ontological totality, but also, crucially, a real and open intending towards it: a utopian, creative, linguistically-based transgressiveness expressive of the world’s ontology.

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