Technically Nothing: Enframing Life and the Properties of Nature


  • James Dutton University of New South Wales



technology, humanism, Heidegger, Deleuze, Stiegler


This essay will examine what it takes to be two foundational aspects of traditional metaphysics—the “concepts” of nothingness and nature—to offer a critical reading of how they enframe our understanding of “life.” It asserts that these two concepts are the limit point for metaphysical thought: the tangle that emerges when trying to overcome or reimagine them is an impasse encountered in pressing humanist concerns like ecological collapse, nihilism, alienation, and extinction. Readers of this journal may value a detailed, technical attempt at such an untangling; this article will suggest that a heightened sense of technics can be productive of a new image of thought, one that might escape the anthropocentric basis of these concerns.1 In doing so, the argument will insist on the flaw within certain metaphysical schematisms’ desire to appropriate, to form and hold sense into static and reproducible properties—a desire notably critiqued in Bernard Stiegler’s reading of technics. This flaw, it suggests, is constitutive of a sense of nature and nothingness based on property, one Stiegler notes is how we enframe being(s). It will then discuss Gilles Deleuze’s notable critiques of such “proper” enframing’s impossible limits and, following Deleuze, will turn to Marcel Proust’s writing as suggestive of a new image of thought—one that, focused on imagining (or enframing) nothingness through writing, inscribes an indelible remainder as that very imagination, suggesting that it is nothingness “it”self that will always remain.