If there is a “fearsome friend” for Dwivedi and Mohan, a friend that commentators never cease to confront them with or even try to assimilate into, it is indeed the term materialism; a term that they never cease to “criticalise,” as they call it, from the very beginning of Gandhi and Philosophy: On Theological Anti-Politics when they announce that “Gandhi founded a new materialism” (Mohan and Dwivedi 2019, 1). This assertion, which is made by the authors already in the introduction to the text, is the result of a specific approach to the Gandhian corpus; precisely, the fact of approaching it as such as a body. We propose then to define their method as a “body-to-body“. This method does not resemble Derrida’s deconstructive work, but is rather an effort to construct a systematicity of Gandhian thought. Body-to-body proceeds by building a “counter system” “alongside” the systematicity of his writings, and pursuing him, in a movement which, in the words of the authors, “follow him [Gandhi] closely, proceed in his style and yet at a distance in the manner of a burlesque.” (Mohan and Dwivedi 2019, 2) There will be two corpuses at the end and the distance between them. This is also different from, as we can see, the Deleuzean method of entering the body of the other to make it speak the words of the entrant. The method allows Dwivedi and Mohan to “effect a recoil” from Gandhi’s “corpus” from time to time whereby, while “com[ing] close to the telos of the system of the great soul”, they are never confused with it. This then makes it possible, on the one hand, to allow other conceptual bodies to develop alongside one another without being confused with one another; it allows other lines of thought, to enter this space and, on the other hand, to allow bodies which are others, that is to say lines of thought which are others, to depart from this space.
But let’s return to the affirmation from which we started: Gandhi founded a new materialism, defined from the outset as “the theory of nature as the reification of the spirit.” (Mohan and Dwivedi 2019, 1) This materialism, if it is not to be reduced to a “confused spirituality”, then it should not be conceived as “a creed or ideology.” (Mohan and Dwivedi 2019, 1) In fact, “the reification of the spirit”, like all reification in general, must appeal to the powers of the occult: it is the operation of occulting something, “the spirit” in this case, in and through matter. In doing so, if we are not dealing with a “clear and distinct” ideality in Gandhi, neither are we not dealing with a “historical” materiality, that materiality which, let us say, “can speak for itself”, both about itself and by itself, i.e. that “obscene”, but not for all that “occult” materiality into which Marx had initiated us. This new materialism, that of the reification of the spirit in nature, then requires a new definition of what we mean by “matter”.
This new definition of matter will have to take into account, and be measured against, the powers of the occult that the operation of reification of the spirit mobilises. To this end, we believe we can resort to the lexicographical shift in the English language from the word “matter” to the word “mutter“. From “a” to “u”. There, passively, the “place” of infiltration of the spirit opens up, a place where, in an occult way, like a whisper – eldritch, as Dwivedi and Mohan would say – a serialisation of equivalences in a closed and circular system starts brewing: nature = value = morality = moral law = divine law = God = the Creator = the created world = truth = nature. Then this is not the “matter” of Marx’s historical materialism, that is, one activated by man at the whim of history. It is also not a feminine and uncountable nature (“matter”) in which man puts his seed; nor, is it a nature that is potentially always re-foundable, defying reification. On the contrary, it is a passive matter, the same matter – or nature – that Satyagrahi (he who holds fast to truth according to the etymology of this word), the passive resistant, tries to defend through his passive conduct: the passivity of his resistance is then only the affirmation of a passive matter – or nature – which “is” as it is defined in the occult words of the Creator. The essential question then is what is implied by this passivity?
Mutter: “an instance of muttering” or “a repressed or obscure utterance”, i.e. a masculine and countable matter, made inactive and unfathomable by man. Let us specify: the infertility of “mutter” is not the effect of the age of nature (nature has no date of birth for Gandhi and cannot therefore be qualified as “old”)—infertility is neither a matter of being too young or too old. But it is in a way “original” in that Gandhian nature, since always and forever, is rendered sterile for man by the fact that it “incorporates divine forces whose action in distans makes equally possible their occult manipulation.” (Mohan and Dwivedi 2019, 16) That is, nature does not yield to man’s manipulations with any finality because there are divine forces at work in it. Thus this “occult manipulation finds moral powers in nature in so far as nature here is amenable to the volition of the sorcerer in addition to its regular efficacy. (Mohan and Dwivedi 2019, 16) Thus, nature is unfathomable for man “since nature is not ‘as brute but as suffused with value‘.” (Mohan and Dwivedi 2019, 25) Faced with this nature, “worked” by God’s moral law – the One Law – passive resistance proves to be the only possible posture for man, in that the attempt to impregnate the infertile would reveal rape. If we consider that nature in the Gandhian system is God, then the attempt to impregnate his own Father will be to infuse His speech with blasphemous words.
When Dwivedi and Mohan use the term “hypophysics”, according to Kant’s use of the term, (Mohan and Dwivedi 2019, 1-2)1 to designate Gandhi’s theory of nature, the adding of the suffix “hypo” to the term “physical” would generate a new “eldritch” meaning. “Hypo” does not imply a physics which is inferior to physics and metaphysics. (Mohan and Dwivedi 2019, 15) Far from representing a simple “addition”, the suffix “hypo” determines the proper sense of the term it accompanies: it is not a physics which is inferior to physics and metaphysics. But, rather, the “inferior” of physics understood as the underlying of physics. Or, again, a physics “of the inferior” understood as the science of that which underlies physics. Or a science of what is not only not “physics” or “metaphysics” but which, moreover, prevents the emergence of either. The “hypo” of “hypophysics” does not designate a “less” of “physics” but rather “another physics”; that is, it is the physics of the “true” status of nature—nature as that which alone is value—in Gandhi. In other words, from hypo-physics both physics and metaphysics deviate, or depart.
Dwivedi and Mohan invite us to approach this status from these external limits: “Gandhi’s system has been allowed its maximum articulation such that it approaches its limit and reveals its telos.” (Mohan and Dwivedi 2019, 12) It is an analysis always carried out “at the limit” of the corpus of Gandhi, which means, it is an analysis which empowers Gandhi’s corpus to reveal what its limit powers are and what its teleology is. At the boundary between his inside and outside, at the boundary between content and contour, we also find the boundary between East and West. Dwivedi and Mohan show how Gandhi’s laments about “the growing distance between man and nature” – ‘Man has gone away from the maker’ – can only be understood in the light of “a proliferation of faculties” given to man “which incline deviantly from hypophysics.” (Mohan and Dwivedi 2019, 20) There we find the sense of East and West: East as that which conserves in nature and West as that which is born by the ‘proliferation of faculties’. That is, the west, in so far as the proliferating faculties are entertained, could be in the geographical east.
Not only is the “mutter” of Gandhian “mutterialism” not the “matter” of Marxist “materialism” but, more profoundly, the ubiquitous presence of the former excludes the possibility of the reign of the latter. It is “a mutter of facts” of Nature = God that must proscribe the “matter of facts” revealed to the proliferating faculties. The dangerous powers of the latter are revealed to the faculties of man which enables him transform the “occult murmur” of the Creator into “fertile matter”. That is to say, the power a “fertile matter” revealed to the faculties of man has to mark the end of the “occult murmur” of the Creator.
One hears then, from the depths of Gandhian “mutterialism”, the echo of a rather Feuerbachian “materialism” or even “Spinozism”: not “God and His creatures” of Duns Scotus (Mohan and Dwivedi 2019, 33) but “God is His creatures”. That is to say that “the Maker is irremovably present in the made.” (Mohan and Dwivedi 2019, 19) So that, as with Spinoza, it is then possible to attribute to nature its own dignity for dignity is no less than the proper and undeniable moral value of God himself. It is therefore a question of the possibility of a “synonymization of nature and value” (Mohan and Dwivedi 2019, 158) or of a “fundamental concreteness of value and nature.” (Mohan and Dwivedi 2019, 1)
“It’s (only) a matter of time”: there is perhaps no more appropriate expression to define Western modernity. “It’s (only) a matter of time, and ‘t will all be over soon” – would we adjourn to these times of catastrophes. The feeling of the irreversibility of time – and of these catastrophes – haunts the only tendentially conservative minds of ‘Western peoples’: “we must not be reconciled with nature,” wrote Jean Baudrillard in an apocalyptic tone in 1992. (Baudrillard 1992, 120)
It is in the light of this specifically ‘Western concern’ that we should perhaps grasp the current fascination of the West for all those practices, ayurvedic, yogic etc., which the East makes available to it. This fascination, which we have been questioning for some time, we had naively tried to grasp it from the West itself, as if the explanation of the charm exerted by these practices was to be sought within the schemas of what is called “Western thought”.
Yet, as Dwivedi and Mohan remind us, “a statement of the kind: the problem with Western thinking … is, in its style, Western,” (Mohan and Dwivedi 2019, 10) as if, in fact, the East had nothing to do with it. That is, it is only the proliferation of faculties which also sends one in search of the “problems” and limits of these faculties, whether one is in the geographical north, south, east, or west. On the contrary, the reading of Gandhi and Philosophy: On Theological Anti-Politics, in that it moved us, as if catapulted out of the seat on which we were more or less comfortably seated, allowed us to open up a new space for thinking, the very space that we are irremediably ex-posed to when we engage in “an analysis always carried out at the limit'”, as we defined it above. This is also the question, then, of ex-posing the limits of the west and the east.
For Gandhi, “natural” or “divine” catastrophes, far from being a “matter of time”, are rather “mutters of place”. The catastrophes can only be likened to the eventalisation of a divine “reminder of the Law”, either a reminder of Natural Law, whereby the murmur of the Maker incites or forces everyone to return to their proper place; to that place to which everyone is assigned in illo tempore by the Creator, or by nature. Thus, catastrophes are only a means for nature/the Creator to bring about – in Nietzsche’s “de-placed” words – a “perpetual return to the same”. Dwivedi and Mohan would call it a “ceremonial observation” of nature. As they say, “for Gandhi, ceremonial society is the very observance of the value that is nature” (Mohan and Dwivedi 2019, 92) in that it is about “the re-appearance of humanity from each little calamity and every little apocalypse” (Mohan and Dwivedi 2019, 207) to then find fertility again, but only to return again to the beginning via another apocalypse. In other words, if a “benefit” is to be accorded to natural catastrophes, it is not the “historical performance” that one would be tempted to attribute to them since Marx. Indeed, if there is no “historical performance” to be claimed for catastrophic events it is precisely because “in Gandhi’s world, earthquakes, thunderstorms, and famines carry out judgements upon the deviations from the natural and bring about corrections.” (Mohan and Dwivedi 2019, 2)
Let us understand: in the Gandhian system, it should not be the work of men to “make their history.” On the contrary, there is a “back and forth”. It should be about the slow “mutter” of the “Soul” (which is the word of the Creator which says nothing), which in a way brings “back” any event generated by the faculties of man defined by their inevitable direction which is “forward” or “west-ward” to the “east”. This very direction of the mutter of the Maker whose only aim is the re-placement of everything in its proper place, that is to say in its “natural place”.
Dwivedi and Mohan writes:
Gandhi made a decisive intervention into the problematic of history by conceiving it in terms of a relation between two kinds of forces and he insisted that the essential domain of man was ever present. The essential domain of man is nature which is value, and is governed by passive forces. History is the dis-essentializing of man; it is the work of active forces. It is the chronicle of active forces erecting Babels, bringing Crete down into mere mythical remembrance, instituting the gods at Olympus, and building and ruining Rome as if it were a day’s work – ‘History, then, is a record of an interruption of the course of nature’. Rather, history can be conceived as the work of active forces which hew into nature to detach value. The separation of value from nature is the proper definition of violence. The quiet labour of the passive force or ahimsa, which grounds even the ascent and the descent of the active force or himsa, is not recorded in history: ‘Soul-force, being natural, is not noted in history’. (…) The quiet work of the soul force, which leaves no great monuments, is rarely even archived. For Gandhi, these rare archives of the soul force are held mostly in religion. (Mohan and Dwivedi 2019, 90)
In Gandhi’s world, instead of announcing the end of man, natural catastrophes ensure his perpetuity because they lead man back to the path of the divine plan: “Gandhi warns time and again that all those who came before us and chased the direction opposite to the maker, West ward, have perished.” (Mohan and Dwivedi 2019, 42) Thus, the re-placement of everything in its place – a replacement that is passive – prevents the work of spacing, especially temporal spacing in the Derridean sense, which is the active product of history. Thus the in illo tempore which ensures that “the essential domain of man was ever present” is not, strictly speaking, a “time” in that it is, rather, a “place”, an “emplacement”. In view of the etymology of the term “space”, which is to be found in the Latin “spatium” which designates both a space that is active (that of arenas and racecourses) and also duration. Nature is therefore not, in Gandhi’s view, a spatium, or a “space-time”, but a place, “the one and only place”, always present and always in the present (Mohan and Dwivedi 2019, 101):2
Gandhi introduces place without another to contrast it. Place is as it is, with the unequal distribution of all beings, and the placement of each being is in accordance with speed. There is a moral equality in nature between all things, in so far as they keep to their naturally assigned speeds; nature renders them equal since they belong to their place. Gandhi was fond of the image of the equality of all the parts in a perfectly working machine which could justify the racial assignment of labour in the subcontinental societies; even if the men who performed manual labour due to their lower racial status were equal when one considered the totality of the system. (Mohan and Dwivedi 2019, 38)
Thus the Gandhian critique of “speed” of which the West—which is no longer a location but a direction opened by the faculties—would embody the main target, the geographical zones of which today continues to be fascinated by the “slowness” of the east and its practices. The west in this moment can be understood on the basis of the potential for spacing or for speeding outside the earshot of the mutter of the Maker since the west is not a particular place. In Gandhi’s world, at the origin, each being is given its place according to a certain speed which was endowed to it by the Maker—the cheetah has its place in nature according to its speed and man has his place according to the speed of his limbs. The assignment of an original speed according to the place for each thing explains the procedure of serialisation of equivalences that we introduced above: nature = value = morality = moral law = divine law = God = the Creator = the created world = truth = nature. That is, to be true to nature is to stay true to the given speed, which as we found is equal to staying in one’s own place.
Now, this ubiquitous system of topographical equivalences can only endure if it is always present, that is to say, always in the present. That is, the possibility of returning to the proper places is always in the present which is guaranteed by the divine forces in nature. A “speeding” or a “stopping of the speed” or a change of speeds, through which things in nature move beyond the speeds prescribed for those things (Mohan and Dwivedi 2019, 35) would render them “out of place”, that is to say, of deviating or from the theo-topo-logical project of the Creator. Hypophysics for Gandhi is a “nature such that there is nothing transcending it nor anything transcendental immanent to it to bring about a crisis of difference.” (Mohan and Dwivedi 2019, 23) Then, deviations, which are nothing other than the product of the properly human faculty “to override the ‘natural’ speed”, are in a position to provoke a “crisis of difference” in the perfectly hypophysical balance of the system of equivalences which as a result, “back and forth”, goes from nature to de-nature, passing through its Creator, His Law and His morals.
Thus we find according to Gandhi, both the verdict of the fall of the West – at full speed, and its remedy – at full slowness:
Absolute speed will be when place has been abolished for space. The abolishment of place is also the end of speed since there are no longer distances to be endured, it is the immobility of the world. For Gandhi, such a state of affairs would spell the apocalypse since ‘nothing remains static in the world’. Nature is the only place and it is here that man had often constructed the means to override the limits of his place, to escape the confinements of his value, and perished. Those who perished never escaped to space, that is a domain other than this world, but this world is enough to entomb all. (Mohan and Dwivedi 2019, 38)
Only the natural speed, or the oriental direction, remains in existence without interruptions [because] (…) those who are content with the natural speed of their legs remaining unimpaired will win in the end. (Mohan and Dwivedi 2019, 42)
The verdict and the remedy:
Many came to ruin a long time ago, not because they were primitive but because they were advancing too fast, and the same will be the fate of the West too: it will meet the end proper to all that is speeding – the apocalypse which the slow survives. (Mohan and Dwivedi 2019, 46)
Thus we believe we have been able to grasp, from the outside, the Western fascination for the East: the imperishable Law of the eastern Maker represents, in the eyes of a “free-falling” West, the star that rises, slowly but surely, beyond the apocalypse. The Gandhian statement on civilisations was that “speeding civilisations are ‘ephemeral.'” (Mohan and Dwivedi 2019, 46) Civilisations can only institute, at most, “temporal laws”, or “mutable law[s].” (Mohan and Dwivedi 2019, 41) Gandhi “sought to reorient the world according to the immutable and the tending-to-immobility of Truth” (Mohan and Dwivedi 2019, 45) where what it means to be True will be indicated shortly. The mutable laws and the immutable Law are both to be apprehended in the face-to-face with the “drifts” of the historicity (“back and forth”) which are destined by the latter Law of the Maker of which what we call the West is only the most recent “forth”.
When “the West” announced with Nietzsche the death of God “the East” affirmed with Gandhi the perpetuity of His word: “Nietzsche would be the proper exterior of Gandhi’s hypophysics.” (Mohan and Dwivedi 2019, 67) The Nietzschean announcement was opposed only a few years later by the Gandhian statement: “the mutter of God will never come to his end, no matter what”. Thus we have arrived at the umpteenth opposition, this one, like the others, being subsumable of the East-West opposition. Or the east-west opposition being subsumable in the others; in reverse, the announcement of God’s death – the affirmation of the perpetuity of his reign, temporal laws – natural laws, human laws – divine law, speed – slowness, space – place, time – place, hypophysical – (meta)physical, activity – passivity, materialism – mutter, matter – mutter. “And so on”, it will be said: indeed, we could go on indefinitely because, as Dwivedi and Mohan point out, all this is a perfect balance of reciprocal resistances, one resisting the other and vice-versa, which indicates their major difference with Derrida; that is, for the latter deconstruction is both resistance and also the revealing of a fundamental resistance within all metaphysics to metaphysical ambitions without which there is no metaphysics. Then, we are experiencing a thought which is “neither hypophysics nor metaphysics” as Jean-Luc Nancy found of Dwivedi and Mohan.
Resistances could at the most lead the system of oppositions towards an accommodation that would benefit both the two poles in question without ever inventing a new foundation for something new. Dwivedi and Mohan assign a conservative role to resistance, that is, resistances are the reciprocal adjustments of a system to remain as that particular system while conserving the foundations of that system. Therefore,
Resistance in the usual sense does not challenge the system of power (…) and instead it seeks to find better accommodation within it, in so far as the conductance of power does not involve an imminent transition of form. ((Mohan and Dwivedi 2019, 174)
Dwivedi and Mohan allow us to grasp the truly “critical” scope of Gandhi’s project—here critical should not be understood in the usual sense or criticism, but leading to a critical state, or the limits from which there is no return—which seeks re-placement of everything back at their origins3 from where there should be no new departure. Gandhi, not content with participating “actively” in the maintenance of the oppositions through resistances, proposes “irresistance” (Mohan and Dwivedi 2019, 171) or absolute yielding, “[to] bring the opponent to his end,” (Mohan and Dwivedi 2019, 170) Irresistance is pure conductance, or it is to let the Maker’s Law be conducted through oneself absolutely, bringing absolution; that is, total dissolution of humanity.
If in the battle of resistances the “active” resistance of one pole only reaffirms the power of the other, the Gandhian solution—its “final solution”—must not be, as with Hitler, the attempt to exterminate the other; but rather it is the annihilation of self, because the self in this case is the whole of humanity. Gandhi pursued irresistance to the point of “reducing man to zero” so that the reign of God (of Truth, of Nature) can, alone, be perpetuated. In doing so, Gandhi sought to thwart the power of human temporal laws in order to see to it that the imperishable divine Law reign ad infinitum. This ultimate end of man, which is his only proper end, is qualified as “semantic annihilation” by Dwivedi and Mohan since “the two senses of the end – teleological and eschatological – are not distinguished in hypophysics.” (Mohan and Dwivedi 2019, 128) The Gandhian conception of the “end” proper to each thing is a species of semantic annihilation. Dwivedi and Mohan recoil from these moments into the corpus of the other system from which we observe Gandhi, without surrendering to his irresistance. The distance is effectuated through the concept of calypsology.
The science of the ends of each individual thing is the science of the relation between the means and the ends of that thing which follows the rule that means and ends are one and the same. Passivity of the passive resister, then, is both the means and the end of passive resistance, whereby it will be a mistake to think it as a method in politics. This science is called calypsology by Dwivedi and Mohan, according to which “the reciprocal immurement of means and ends”(Mohan and Dwivedi 2019, 188) to the point of immobility shows the truth of each and everything. Man, as we found, through his multitude of faculties, creates ever new means and ever new ends confusing the science and passion of calypsology.
Dwivedi and Mohan’s effort to “date” the birth of Hinduism4 is another means to create a breach in Gandhi’s hypophysical system, and also in the hypophysical and calypsoplogical system of caste: establishing a “date of manufacture” for Hinduism would indeed imply having to contemplate the possibility, and perhaps even the inexorability, of an “expiration date” for that term ‘Hindu’, through which Gandhi designated often the eternity of the east. The caste system is one of the exemplars of a calypsological system, which after all is what the term ‘Hindu’ designates. Dwivedi and Mohan explain the caste system as,
the social order, or the caste system, which reproduces itself faithfully as the only invariant of the subcontinent, must be conserved. That is, the strict observation of caste rules as a means reproduces the caste order as the end generation after generation. (Elsewhere we have called the general principle of this reproduction Calypsology). Today we hide the realities of the social order under the neologism “Hindu”. (Dwivedi and Mohan 2019)
For Dwivedi and Mohan, it is then a question of trying to “historicise” while constituting a new political history, through which freedom from the political calypsology of Hinduism is opened. The breach in political history to liberate the old relations between means and ends, breach the hypophysics of an older society, also brings us to the corpus of Dwivedi and Mohan, which as Nancy noted is “neither hypophysics nor metaphysics”, is the opening of anastasis, which can only be indicated here.
Anastasis is not critique because, “Critiques are weathered and eroded by the very thoughts they make inadmissible, by the events they cannot anticipate, and by the exhaustion of their essences – the well-determined possibilities.” (Mohan and Dwivedi 2019, 214) Dwivedi and Mohan affirm that “the enemy of the Gandhian system is anastasis“(Mohan and Dwivedi 2019, 200, empasis added), which is also the enemy of metaphysics, for two reasons: on the one hand, the possibility of resurrection is implied by the caducity of matter, that is to say by exposing it to the possibility of its own disappearance; on the other hand, resurrection implies, irremediably, “a new beginning”, that is to say the possibility of the gush of a new sense. Matter is exposed to a new “fall” or cadence when a system in which it, the matter in question, is defined. Now, Gandhian hypophysics, like metaphysics – and it is in this sense that “anastasis is neither oriental nor occidental” (Mohan and Dwivedi 2019, 217) – cannot expose itself to such risk taking, and therefore they both follow a conduct of resistances and irresistances. The “new end” and a “new beginning” are, here and there, signs of another sense; or, as Dwivedi and Mohan call it, of the inexhaustible “polynomia” which creates sense – beyond both the “mutter” and the “matter”. Anastasis is not a matter of spontaneity or accident but active work as we hinted above through the example of inventing another political history, without which we will “fall” into the risk of the lure of “idyllic a prioris”,
Anastasis requires of us that we do not fall back on the idols of old in our moment’s crisis; a mistake which arises in thinking of anastasis as the reappearance of the same thing. For example colonialism was indeed a crisis which continues to criticalize the zones seized by it in manifold ways […] Anastasis is neither oriental nor occidental; it is a horizon outside the limited directives of orienting stars which asks of us to fold these directives over a dimension outside them, as when the end points of a straight line are brought into contact over the third dimension. (Mohan and Dwivedi 2019, 217)
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Benedetta Todaro is completing her doctoral dissertation in Philosophy at the Université Paris-Est Créteil. She teaches and researches at the Department of Psychology at the Université de Picardie Jules Verne. Todaro pursued her clinical training at Università degli Studi di Padova resulting in the dissertation titled Melancholia(s): From Phenomenology to Michel Foucault.