One never knows what to expect from the up-and-coming French philosopher Quentin Meillassoux. I certainly didn’t expect his second book-length work to be a “decipherment” of Stéphane Mallarmé’s enigmatic final poem, Un Coup de Dés jamais n’abolira le Hasard (A Throw of Dice Will Never Abolish Chance). Still less did I expect it to be so absorbing and thrilling. The Number and the Siren is an erudite work of literary criticism, tackling one of the most difficult of modern poets...
Meillassoux’s study, breaking from the general studies and understandings of Mallarmé’s brilliant poem, posits that the poem itself can literally be deciphered, that meaning exists not exclusively in the blatant language or form of the poem itself, but rather that meaning is embedded, coded, within the work.
Also, an excellent take over on speculativeheresy:
First, though, I would like to reflect on the strangeness of the book. Adam and others have already remarked that the trajectory of Meillassoux’s work has been anything but predictable. Perhaps this should be less surprising than it is, since the thesis concerning absolute contingency put forward in After Finitude was taken very seriously by Meillassoux. There is no sufficient reason for anything and so why should we have expected his nihilism to play out as every other nihilism has? Indeed, this term, though seemingly embraced in The Number and the Siren, may not really be apt for a description of Meillassoux’s work. While there is a certain void lying at the center of his philosophy and while the privileging of primary qualities in After Finitude seemed to suggest a kind of scienticism, already we could see there a certain humanism at work. Limiting the law-like powers of Nature (with the capital-N intended) in order to make room for human salvation.