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Of the Black Universe: In the Human Foundations of Color

François Laruelle, trans. Sylvia

from: La Décision philosophique 5, April 1988, Paris, pp. 107-12


In the foundations of color, vision views the Universe; in the foundations of the Universe, it views man; in the foundations of man, it views vision.

The Earth, the World, the Universe have to do with man, the Earth a bit, the World much, the Universe passionately. The Universe is the interior passion of the Distant.

Man works on the Earth, lives in the World, thinks according to the Universe.

The Earth is the man's ground, the World their neighbor, the Universe their secret.

The Earth is the strait through which the light of the World passes, the tongue of sand and water on which, upright, man walks against the World.

The World is all that which is too vast and too narrow for the Earth, and a second time too narrow for the Universe.

Man gropes in the World and the World floats in the Universe without power to touch its edges.

Man introduces in the World of narrow thoughts the emotion of the Universe.

The Universe is not the object of thought, a grander object than the World, it is its how or according to.

The Universe is an opaque and solitary thought which has already leapt within the closed eyes of man as the space of a dream without dream.

The Universe is not reflected in another universe, and yet the Distant is accessible to us at each of its points.

The World is the infinite confusion of man and of the Universe; the Universe treated as an object of man.

The forgetting of the essence of the Universe is more inapparent than the forgetting of the World.

The oblivion of man as One-(of)-the-Universe and the Universe as One-by-man, is more inapparent than the oblivion of being-in-the-World.




At the commencement there is Black—man and the Universe rather than the philosopher and the World.

Around the philosopher all becomes World and light; around man all becomes Universe and opacity.

Man, who takes the Universe with them, is condemned, without knowing the reason, to the World and to the Earth, and neither the World nor the Earth can tell them why: only the Universe responds to them by being black and mute.

Black is not in the object or in the World, it is what man views in man, and in what man views man.

Black is not solely what man views in man, it is the sole inseparable “color” of the hyperintelligible extent of the Universe.

Solitude of man-without-horizon who views Black in Black.

The Universe is surd and blind, we can only love it and assist it. Man is the being who assists the Universe.

We can deploy the future only with closed eyes and believe entering it only with open eyes.

Light strikes the Earth with redoubled blows, infinitely divides the World; solicits the invisible Universe in vain.

The Universe was “in” the World and the World did not view it.

Black before light is the substance of the Universe, that which escaped from the World before the World comes to the World.

Black is the without-Fund that fixes light in the distant where man observes it. Here lies the foolish and catatonic light of the World.

Man does not approach the World but through transcendental glooms where it has never entered and which it will never leave.

A phenomenal black entirely replenishes the essence of man. By it the most ancient stars of the paleo-cosmos, like the most venerable stones of the arche-earth show to man as if they were out of the World, and the World itself appears as off-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 umbra where it extinguishes, whether it be its nothingness or its contrary positive. The black universe is not a negative light.

Black is the Radical of colors, that which never was a color or the attribute of a color, the emotion that seizes man affected by a color.

Unlike the black objectivated within the spectrum, Black is already manifested before every operation of manifestation. It is vision-in-Black.

Black is definitively interior to itself and to man.

Black is without contrary: even light which attempts to transform it into its contrary fails before the rigor of its secret. Only the secret views in the secret, as Black in Black.

The essence of colors is not colored: it is the black universe.

Metaphysical white is a simple discoloration, the prismatic or indifferent unity of colors. Phenomenal black is indifferent to colors because it is their ultimate tenor in reality, that which prevents their definitive dissolution in the mixtures of light.

Philosophy, and painting sometimes, treat black and white like contraries, colors as opposites; they mix them under the authority of light as the supreme mixture.

The human science of colors is founded on the black called “universe”. It thinks together man, the Universe, and the theories of colors—and their tenor in Black which is their common reality, but of the last instance only.

A human science of colors makes of the black universe the real or immanent requisite of its physics. Black is the very posture of science and of its "rapport" to colors.



Science is a thought in black and white which treats the light of the Cosmos and the colors of the World. Black by its posture or its inherence to the real, white by its representation of the real. Thought where white is no more the contrary of black, but its positively discolored reflection.

Science is the mode of thought where black determines in last instance white.

The black universe transforms colors without mixing them. It simplifies color in view of producing the whiteness of knowing in its essence of non-pictorial reflect.

Our uchromia: learning to think parting from Black as that which determines in last instance colors rather than as that which limits them.

Philosophical technology was mimetically withdrawn on the World, for reflecting it and reproducing it. It is inadequate for thinking the Universe.

We still postulate that reality is given to us by the paradigm of the World. We commit the inhumane amphibology which confuses the World and the Universe. We believe that reality is horizon and light, opening and flash, whereas it is rather the posture of an opaque non-rapport (to) light. At the moment of exploring the uni-versal dimension of the cosmic, we remain prisoners of cosmo-logical difference. Our philosophers are babies afraid of the Dark.

Philosophy is a thought by generalized “black box”, the attempt to embox black in light and repel it to the fund of the caverns, but the cosmo-logical generalization of black does not save it, on the contrary, of its status as attribute. Black alone is subject and can render manifest the philosophical emboxing of concepts.

Think not at first technology: rocket and payload of the rocket. Gaze rather, as in the fund of a closed eye, in the opacity of thought by which, making body without distance with it, the rocket crosses infinite distances. Think according to the knowledge which directs it as in a dream, more heavy and more transparent than the unlimited night where it nevertheless penetrates within a silent thunder. Think at first science.

Cease from sending your vessels through the narrow cosmo-logical corridor. Or making them climb the extreme walls of the World. Let them cross the cosmic barrier and enter in the hyperspace of the Universe. Cease from putting them in concurrence with light, for your rockets can also operate the more-than-psychic, postural mutation and pass from light to the black universe that is no more a color; from cosmic color to postural and subjective black. Let your rockets become subject of the Universe and present in each point of the Distant.

Simplify colors! View black, think white!

See black in place of believing “unconscious”. And think white in place of believing “consciousness”.

View black! Not that all your suns have fallen—they have already returned, a little paler—but Black is the “color” that falls eternally from the Universe onto your Earth.

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