I haven’t been following the recent blog discussions about speculative realism, but I did happen to see this interesting suggestion on Larval Subjects of an alternative to readings of Deleuze that posit the virtual and actual as opposites:
My strategy, by contrast, is to affirm that there are nothing but actualities and that when we speak of the relation between the virtual and the actual we are not referring to something other than the actual, but rather other actualities, such as genes, as they relate to a different actuality.
This is great, and captures a kind of materialism that also came up in something else I read this week, Poulantzas’s State, Power, Socialism. Poulantzas discusses the way in which capitalism has changed space and time and criticizes the fact that analyses of these changes
often follow the line of the history of thinking. New social production of space and time is regarded as a straightforward transformation of “the mental framework,” “the view of the world,” or “mental structures”…. For its part Marxist research has up to now also considered that transformations of space and time essentially concern ways of thinking: it assigns a marginal role to such changes on the grounds that they belong to the ideological-cultural domain—to the manner in which societies or classes represent space and time. In reality, however, transformations of the spatio-temporal matrices refer to the materiality of the social division of labour, of the structure of the State, and of the practices and techniques of of capitalist economic, political, and ideological power; they are the real substratum of mythical, religious, philosophical or ‘experiential’ representations of space-time. Just as these changes are not reducible to the representations which they ocassion, so they cannot be identified with the scientific concepts of space and time which allow us to grasp them (98).
Poulantzas’s suggestion that space and time are not constitutive of materiality but are materially produced is fascinating. Of course it makes me think of Kant’s idea of the unreality of space and time; but, where Kant makes the individual subject the ground of space and time, Poulantzas suggests that they are founded on an assemblage of activities. This seems like a much more satisfactory position.