Volume 60, Issue 1, Winter 2016
The Power of the Monstrous
Governed as It Were by Chance
Monstrous Infinitude and the Problem of Nature in the Work of Spinoza
In this paper I explore this question of the ways we might form enabling assemblages with non-human others, by returning to Spinoza’s theory of the composite individual. The challenge, as I see it, is less that of a need to move beyond a romanticized view of Nature as a harmonious whole, Nature as a perpetual threat, or Nature as motivated by a final cause (whether good or evil). The problem that confronts us, rather, is a problem of composition—which Nature do we ally with, what components? How do we understand or define, much less defend, localized ecosystems which are supported (and threatened) by a dizzying and infinite array of intensive and extensive properties? This is a problem of the monstrous infinite.