by François Laruelle
In the beginning there is Black – man and Universe, rather than philosopher and World
In the foundations of color, vision sees the
Universe; in the foundations of the Universe, it
sees man; in the foundations of man, it sees
The Earth, the World, the Universe have to do
with man: the Earth a little, the World a lot, the
Universe passionately. The Universe is the inner
passion for the Remote.
Man works the Earth, lives in the World, thinks
according to the Universe.
The Earth is man’s ground, the World his
neighbor, the Universe his secret.
The Earth is the strait through which passes the
light of the World; it is the tongue made of sand
and water upon which, standing, man strides
against the World.
The World is everything too vast and too narrow
for the Earth, and again too narrow
for the Universe.
Man gropes around the World and the World
floats in the Universe unable to touch its borders.
Into the World of narrow-minded thoughts, man
brings the emotion of the Universe.
The Universe, an object greater than the World,
is not the object of thought, but rather its how or
its according to.
The Universe is an opaque and solitary thought,
which has already leapt through man's shut eyes
as the space of a dream without dreaming.
The Universe is not reflected in another universe,
and yet the Remote is accessible to us at each of
The World is the endless confusion of man and
Universe, the Universe treated as man's object.
The forgetting of the essence of the Universe is
less noticeable than the forgetting of the World.
The forgetting of man as One(-of-)the-Universe
and the Universe as One-through-man is less
noticeable than the forgetting of being-in-the-
In the beginning there is Black--man and
Universe, rather than philosopher and World.
Surrounding the philosopher everything becomes
World and light. Surrounding man everything
becomes Universe and opacity.
Man, who carries away the Universe with him,
is condemned, without knowing why, to the World
and to the Earth, and neither the World nor the
Earth can tell him why. He is answered only by
the Universe, being black and mute.
Black is not in the object or the World, it is what
man sees in man, and the way in which man sees
Black is not merely what man sees in man, it is
the only “color” inseparable from the hyper-
intelligible expanse of the Universe.
Solitude of the man-without-horizon who sees
Black in Black.
The Universe is deaf and blind, we can only love
it and assist it. Man is the being who assists the
Only with eyes closed can we unfold the future,
and with eyes opened can we conceive to enter it.
Light strikes the Earth with repeated blows,
divides the World infinitely, solicits in vain the
The Universe was “in” the World and the World
did not see it.
Black prior to light is the substance of the
Universe, what escaped from the World before
the World was born into the World.
Black is the without-Ground which fixes light in
the remote where man observes it. Here lies the
crazy and catatonic light of the World.
Man approaches the World only by way of
transcendental darkness, into which he never
entered and from which he will never leave.
A phenomenal blackness entirely fills the essence
of man. Because of it, the most ancient stars of
the paleo-cosmos together with the most
venerable stones of the archeo-earth, appear to
man as being outside the World, and the World
itself appears as outside-World.
The black universe is the opacity of the real or the
“color” that renders it invisible.
No light has ever seen the black universe.
Black is anterior to the absence of light, whether
this absence be the shadows that extinguish it,
whether it be it nothingness or its positive
opposite. The black universe is not a negative
Black is the Radical of color, what never was a
color nor the attribute of a color, the emotion
seizing man when affected by a color.
As opposed to the black objectified in the
spectrum, Black is already manifested, before any
process of manifestation. This is vision-in-Black.
Black is entirely interior to itself and to man.
Black is without opposite: even light, which tries
to turn it into its opposite, fails in the
face of the rigor of its secret. Only the secret sees into
the secret, like Black in Black.
The essence of color is not colored: it’s the black
Metaphysical white is a simple discoloration, the
prismatic or indifferent unity of colors.
Phenomenal blackness is indifferent to color
because it represents their ultimate degree of
reality, that which prevents their final dissolution
into the mixtures of light.
Philosophy and sometimes painting treat black
and white as contraries, colors as opposites; they
mix them, under the authority of light as the
The human science of color is founded on the
blackness known as the “universe.” They
cognitively unify man, the Universe, and color
theory--and their potencies in Black, which is
their common reality, but in the last instance
A human science of color makes the black
universe the requisite that is real or immanent to
their physics. Black is the posture itself of science
and of its “relation” to color.
Science is a way of thinking in black and white
which studies the light of the Cosmos and
the color of the World: black, by way of its posture
or its inherence to the real; white, by way of its
representation of the real. A way of thinking
where white is no longer the opposite of black,
but rather its positively discolored reflection.
Science is the mode of thought in which black
determines in the last instance white.
The black universe transforms colors without
mixing them. It simplifies color in order to bring
out the whiteness of understanding in its essence
of non-pictorial reflection.
Our uchromia: to learn to think from the point
of view of Black as what determines color in the
last instance rather than what limits it.
Philosophical technology has been withdrawn
mimetically from the World, in order to reflect
and reproduce it. Such technology is inadequate
for thinking the Universe.
We are still postulating that reality is given to us
through the paradigm of the World. We
perpetuate the inhuman amphibology that
confuses the World and the Universe. We believe
that reality is horizon and light, aperture and
flash, whereas it resembles more the posture of
an opaque non-relation (to) light. When
exploring the uni-versal dimension of the
cosmic, we remain prisoners of cosmo-logical
difference. Our philosophers are children who
are afraid of the Dark.
Philosophy is thinking by way of a generalized
“black box”; it is the effort to fit black into light
and to push it back to the rear of the caverns.
Yet, the cosmo-logical generalization of black
does not save it from its status as attribute, quite
the contrary. Black alone is subject and may
render manifest the philosophical interlocking of
Do not think technology first: rocket and the lift
off of the rocket. Look instead, like in the depths
of a closed eye, into the opacity of knowledge
where, forming one with it, the rocket passes
through infinite distances. Think according to
the knowledge that steers the rocket as if in a
dream, heavier and more transparent than the
boundless night it penetrates with a silent
thunderclap. Think science first.
Stop sending your ships through the narrow
cosmo-logical corridor. Stop making them climb
the extreme walls of the world. Let them jump
over the cosmic barrier and enter into the
hyperspace of the Universe. Cease having them
compete with light, for your rockets too can
realize the more-than-psychic, postural mutation,
and shift from light to black universe which is no
longer a color; from cosmic color to postural and
subjective black. Let your rockets become subject
of the Universe and be present at every point of
Simplify color! See black, think white!
See black rather than believe “unconscious.” And
think white rather than believe “conscious.”
See black! Not that all your suns have fallen--
they have since reappeared, only slightly
dimmer--but Black is the “color” that falls
eternally from the Universe onto your Earth.
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