Time’s Last Kiss

When I reached a river, it was too far below me, and my thirst was unabated.

—Harold Bloom

When one is young…

Time is like a distant cousin that one sees from time to time during some family reunion, a festival of the season like Christmas or Easter, her pretty face smirking and full of mischief she sits across the table known but unknown.

When one is old…

Time presses down on one like a Succubus extracting pleasure from your pain, her eyes glowing fiery with that dark intensity only those who know time is well past absolution would feign suffer. One should have seen coming that which cannot be lightly dismissed, but were too busy forgetting in the daily activities that have always allowed one to be mercifully distracted. Not now that comforting gaze of one’s cousin in her youthful merriment. No. Now is the time of demons and suffering, nights when sleep and death seem not like twins but old enemies who will never be reconciled by touch or care. Falling and failing are one’s lot now, each breath a momentary reprieve from the cold hearth that awaits one in that dank tomb. And, yet, as memory and desire waver over those moments in time, when life seemed so full of grace and vitality, one begins to understand that reconciliation and redemption have already come and gone like old lovers whose last kiss still lingers on the fragrant morning air that carries one forward and downward …

The Cybergrim Aesthetic – Precarity and the Neoliberal Endgame

Necroliberal culture has injected into the social brain a constant stimulus towards competition and the technical system of the digital network has rendered possible an intensification of informatic stimuli, transmitted from the social brain to individual brains. —Anon

The Cybergrim City is a place where power makes bodies vulnerable to death and exploitation by limiting time in certain spaces, forcing continual mobility, increasing time in toxic, violent and surveilled spaces, justifying these necro-temporal policies through precarity. The dense city or megalopolis of the near future will be a Necroscape, a site of surveillance capitalism, a factory of death where the furnaces of capital and sex play out their games of sacrifice and eros – the pleasure/pain of an occulture of pure jouissance.

The Necroscapes of the future will be sites of surpassing repetition producing liminal zones of necrotic existence. A libidinal economy of necrotic repetition, a sado-masochistic environ of predatory existence; competition on steroids. The marketization and militarization of these necrofeudal enclaves will harbor the architecture of death, much as the ancient cities of Moloch were built around the never-dying ovens of a sacrificial holocaust of babies, or the Mayan cities of blood where obsidian dreams of knowledge and power sacrificed warriors at the peak of their existence, cannibalizing their hearts in rituals of bloodletting to the gods of time.

The ultimate expression of sovereignty largely resides in the power and capacity to dictate who is able to live and who must die. To kill or to let live thus constitutes sovereignty’s limits, its principal attributes. To be sovereign is to exert one’s control over mortality and to define life as the deployment and manifestation of power. —Achille Mbembe, Necropolitics

As Berardi once suggested we “have to look at the cyberspace of global production as an immense expanse of depersonalized human time” (32 Precarious Rhapsody). In a necroeconomy the human body is excluded. Depersonalized time becomes the real agent of the process of valorization, and depersonalized time has no rights, nor any demands. It can only be either available or unavailable, but the alternative is purely theoretical because the physical body despite not being a legally indexed commodity is the last bastion of the connected. (33 PR) The laborers of the future are mere zombies, the living dead of the precarity, whose only access to the market or life is by way of the neuralink implants now attached to their brains at birth. Like denizens of some nefarious underworld they are called forth from their necrohibernation through the necrolinks of their brain-interface like drones reconnecting their abstract time to the necroticular flux.

Power is the agency that reduces the field of possibility to a prescriptive order; power, therefore, is the actual source of sad passions, and their existence can be seen as an effect of the subjugation of the soul to the force of power. —Francesco Berardi,  Futurability: The Age of Impotence and the Horizon of Possibility

This is a world or neocameral City-States, mini-states, or neostates where the rich and elite gather behind protective macropodic security systems to fend off the excluded, anarchic, and outcase outlaws and renegades of a new dark age of man. Nick Land remarks that the macropod has one law: “the outside must pass by way of the inside”. Where humans are no longer singular and free, but rather are machines in an assemblage of desiring machines, plugged into “segmented and anthropomorphized sectors of assembly circuits as the attribute of a personal being”. (Machinic Desire) In his reading of Anti-Oedipus he observes a philosophy of the machine, one which advances an “anorganic functionalism that dissolves all transcendence,” and “mobilizes a vocabulary of the machine, the mechanic, and machinism” (MD, p. 4). This is a black-box theory of use and pragmatic endeavor that asks the question(s) ‘What are your desiring-machines, what do you put into these machines, what is the output, how does it work, what are your nonhuman sexes?’ (Anti-Oedipus, p. 322).

Necrodigital slaves of the futural market, fractalized and fragmented, their bodies excluded, only their minds as info-workers co-habit the black circuitry of capital time where their avatar existence is consumed. The Info-slavery is affirmed as a mode of necromantic, precarious and depersonalized, work. The personal has given way to absolute transparency, a cyber-panopticon that is the necrofluidic vitality of this monstrous system of non-life. An economy of death and its production.

In fact this is a dark virtual materialism that names an “ultra-hard antiformalist AI program, engaging with biological intelligence as subprograms of an abstract post-carbon machinic matrix, whilst exceeding any deliberated research project” (MD, p. 5). This is Land’s attack on all those systems of Transcendental logic like the medieval construction kits of the New Prometheans, Brassier and Negarestani, who seek (after Sellars/Brandom) to build navigational systems in the “space of reasons” into command and control centers of the deontological giving and asking of reasons in a normative throwback of an age when ethics and the epistemological world still believed in itself: – a world updated only in its speculative status as hyperfictional philo-fiction. Land instead following in that other tradition of the dark vitalist curve from Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Bataille, Freud, Deleuze/Guattari, et. al. brings us the machinic desires at the heart of the Real, where a hidden impulsive, desiring machine flows through the compositional and decompositional realms of economics, politics, and scientific endeavor.

Land would have us enter the death realms of Synthanatos – the terminal productive outcome of human history as a machinic process, yet it is virtually efficient throughout the duration of this process, functioning within a circuit that machines duration itself. In this way virtuality lends its temporality to the unconscious, which escapes specification within extended time series, provoking Freud to describe it as timeless. (MD, p. 5) Much like J.G. Ballard’s Chronotopia, or City of Timeless duration and assemblages of interlocked labyrinthine systems actively pursuing the eternity of desire without end, Land offers an ironic take on Anti-Oedipus as less a philosophy book than “an engineering manual; a package of software implements for hacking into the machinic unconscious, opening invasion channels” (MD, p. 5).

This sense of movement or feed-back loops or self-reflecting short-circuiting ride between the virtual Real of the unconscious Subject, and the actual world of the conscious active negativity and self-relating nothingness (Zizek) of awareness is an immanent process of gift exchange and excess. Following Freud (Death-drives, repetition compulsion, narcissism, solipsism, etc.), and Lyotard (libidinal materialism) he will describe certain issues “…the convergence of cybernetic, economic, and libidinal discourses, virtual materialism has considerable problems with this passage” (MD, p. 6). After explicating in detail the inner problems in the several discourses he will reduce it to a minimal statement, saying, that these machinic processes of desiring machines “are either cyberpositive-nomadic, with a deterritorializing outcome, or cybernegative-sedentary, with a reterritorializing outcome” (MD. p. 6). Again, the sense of a circuit or feedback, but one that works to construct, while the other tears down and deconstructs, composition and decomposition.

Inorganic Thanatos wrecks order, organic Eros preserves it, and as the carbon-dominium is softened-up by machine plague, deterritorializing replicants of nomad-cyberrevolution close in upon the reterritorializing reproducers of the sedentary human security system, hacking into the macropod. (MD, pp. 6-7)

Ours is a traumatic world full of fissures and horror, and “Freud characterizes trauma as an ‘invasion’, ‘a breach in an otherwise efficacious barrier against stimuli’, infiltrating alien desires — xenopulsions – into the organism.” (MD, p. 8)”. We may be entering the moment of a phase transition in which the inhuman death drive is enabling a machinic explosion of intelligence based on quantum mechanics and other NBIC technologies (nanotech, biotech, Information and Communications Tech, etc.) that will lead to a necrotic explosion at the heart of the Real, a release of toxic spoors from the nether regions of a hyperaccelerated future no one could have imagined, and none shall survive. Thanatos is dead, long live Thanatopia!

I keep thinking of a cross between Jeffrey Thomas’s Punktown books and the deathworlds and necroscapes of video games like Doom Eternal; J.G. Ballard’s later novels where the psychopath becomes the new agent of change; or the necrotombs of Gary J. Shipley where the end game of our terminal malaise of a civilization terminates in a zone of pure repetition and death. Pushing Neoliberalism to its ultra end-game as the pure worship of death, and the production of Hell on Earth in a toxic game of precarity and sacrifice to the gods of competition. Ultimately pushing the Grimdark aesthetic to its hypernecrotic finale…

Entangled

A teaser from my Cybergrim Novel in process… opening sequence.

Entangled

“Precarity, wake up dammit!”

Hell is waking up and realizing you’re a program in someone else’s digital mindware. There is no escape, no exit, and you know the algorithmic truth – that the quantum information in which you find yourself entangled has been scrambled beyond redemption or retrieval. You can only repeat the endless life codes someone else controls, like a puppet in a diabolical engineering plot you roam the electronic void like a mythological agent of an alien mind.

“Ok, ok, give me a sec…” Rubbed my bleary eyes and synced the bioscreen. Green and red LED’s flashed on the folds of the inscape relays, left to right / up and down. Scanned and ported the neuralfeed to on position. The holochron on the the datatab was the only thing glowing in the quantum darkness beyond: 02:30 SMY. If you’d been a CI operative – Competitive Intelligence Division – for as long as I had you learned the hard way to take it all in stride. I sat up, popped a pill, bled the almost empty tumbler dry and queried: “Who the frack is this?”

“Who do you think, Jones?” A voice like a hippo intoned.

I knew who it was, couldn’t mistake that arrogant bastard. Bossman Joe a.k.a. “Joseph R. Greathouse”, or at least his facsimile – twitching on the neurofeed like a neon diamondback ready to strike. My crew and I’d done odd jobs from time to time for Greathouse Enterprises, an InfoCorp Bioweapons firm in Shiva City – Harbinger Quadrant. He has a place on the Lux River, a Light Tower that brought the Three-Worlds together. Headquarters of the Gaian Conclave. Some said the Tower was alive, heart of the Sentient City, a living goddess… but, we knew better it was an AGI that had its hooks in everything, ran splice rhizomes through a trillion sensors that seemed to know your every move and thought before you did. Yea, a real nice place. That is if you liked angels, real decopunk jobs, slick nanobots like hypervalent flyers from a transtemporal universe. But me and my crew? No. We were of the demon clans. Undercity denizens. Wouldn’t have it any other way. Liked our little hideaway in the tunnels below Shibatsu.

“I’ll bite, so what’s the pitch?” I yawned. Hated the bastard but he kept my crew and I in the mix, so I’d suffer his crap till something better came my way. That’s the way of it in the Shibatsu.

“Listen, Precarity… listen hard,” a seriousness I’d not expected. “We’ve got to meet. None of your slipshod excuses either. Got me?”

Dam I hated going up city, but more that that I despised being in his presence. Fat, ugly, smoked those two-bit cigars from a steamcopy catalog, Old Havana biochems, 3D print jobs tasting more like homegrown algae than tobacco. But hey, no one is perfect, right?

“Ok, I’ll fast-track it and slide in tomorrow morning.”

I was about to shut the neurofeed down when he said: “Take the Shev-Train, Precarity. Be here tonight.”

“Frak it if I’ll take that slime train tonight.” Dam, fool, I hated that quant-tube. Who the hell liked being demolecularized? Always left me feeling like a burned-out hypersuit, razed and shredded.

“You’ll do it are be wiped! Kapeesh! And…” he paused.

“Yea?”

“Bring the crew, Precarity, this one’s business… and, I do mean BUSINESS! Got that?”
Well, when he said it that way I had to think hard – nah, even if I was a pawn in a script of coded nausea I’d begun to like our datavillain lifestyle here in the dark zones. It had its perks!

“No problemito… I get it!” I wanted to reach through the neuralnet feed and fry his ass, but knew that wasn’t goin’ to happen.

“Good! And by the way Precarity there’s the matter of Chogan’s Run to clear up, too!” He blinked off.

I felt the back of my mind blink off, too. Why Chogan’s Run? And, why now? Shite! Dam the bastard.
———————————–

©2020 S.C. Hickman

A Post-Democratic World? Or, How We Got Here…

It’s apparent that the USA is undergoing a massive shift in its social, political, and cultural world view. I don’t think we can return to the old two-party system that existed before the Trump era. Both parties that represented the Conservative and Liberal traditions under the auspices of Republican and Democrat offer the solutions we so desperately need to truly unify our nation.

Philosophically the pressure toward alternative solutions of socio-cultural and political mobilizations have moved on already. Even the extremes of political anarchism and libertarianism are dead, and those of socialism and communism are no longer viable. Philosophers have been moving beyond the underpinnings of Enlightenment thought based on disenchantment, secularization, and scientific culture for decades. The first sign of this was the Postmodern critique of analogue culture of cinema, television, and analogue media propaganda and ideological systems of consumerist society. From the Frankfurt school to Fredrick Jameson’s late capitalist reflections there was a slow and methodical deconstruction of the mechanisms that gave rise to what has now been termed Neoliberalism.

At the heart of the Postmodern critique lay the tradition of the liberal humanist Subject, the individual as promoted within the ideology of Western Individualism. The core principals of Neoliberalist tradition were based on the moral economy of life that is configured in its ideals of formal freedom, individualism, and personal responsibility. The core values of the Neoliberal world view are respect for the rule of law, protection of the individual’s right to self-determination, the re-creation of civil society as a place of free exchange (of capital, ideas, culture, etc.), and the limitation of governmental powers were presented as essential conditions for a peaceful and prosperous world order. This was the central motif of the Mount Pelerin society from which the whole complex of Neoliberal free-market ideology would emerge. The atomistic individual was the bedrock of this social control mechanism against the perceived threat of both Fascist and Communist forms of socialism during that era. Hayek and others of this period believed that the individual must be protected from collectivist ideologies of any stripe or persuasion, otherwise they believed the individual tends to become a cypher of political and economic powers that seek to control society as a whole and thereby loses its power of spontaneous self-realization.

In fact Hayek’s basic thesis was that it is the primary responsibility of the developed industrial nations to ensure that the incipient socialism of the New Deal and Welfare State programmes was not allowed to take them back down ‘the road to serfdom.’ The move away from affective politics and a process of rational and existential abstraction would drive a new form of technocapitalist politics based on a culture of scientific experts, economists, and academic-think tanks who would guide the Neoliberal vision of a technocratic State. As Ross Abbinnett will put it in The Neoliberal Imagination:

“What was radically new about the liberal philosophy expounded by Hayek, Friedman, and the rest of the Mont Pelerin Society, therefore, was their determination to defend the idea that the ‘objective’ forms of social life (science, technology, law, religion, etc.) should be conceived as contested sites through which the rational will of private individuals constantly reasserts its transformative spontaneity. The formal, non-contingent right of human beings to dispose of their labour, their bodies, their intellectual gifts, and their artistic talents is the first principle of a free market that constantly expands to accommodate new entrepreneurial strategies and which stands against all forms of collectivist idealism and totalitarian government.”

Ultimately the neoliberal ideology would become implicated in an expanding global class conflict, in which the ‘bourgeois class’ (considered as a loose amalgamation of capitalists, entrepreneurs, technocrats, scientists, etc.) preferred the destruction of human society to the loss of its economic assets and political dominance. The essence of neoliberal ideology, therefore, has emerged as its ability to reconfigure the strictures of financialized capitalism as modes of moral life and personal freedom, and to legitimize the marketization of state welfare institutions and the whole of the public sphere. The deliberate deregulation of markets and the State controlled Welfare mechanisms put in place by Roosevelt’s New Deal gave rise to the inequalities, race relations, and general destruction of both the American economy and its social and political democracy.


(I’ll continue in another post…)


Neoliberalism: A Bibliography Short List:

-Brown, Wendy. In the Ruins of Neoliberalism
-Mirowski, Philip. The Road from Mont Pelerin: The Making of the Neoliberal Thought Collective
-Dieter Plehwe, Quinn Slobodian, and Philip Mirowski. Nine Lives of Neoliberalism
-Biebricher, Thomas. The Political Theory of Neoliberalism
-Matthew McManus. The Rise of Post-Modern Conservatism Neoliberalism, Post-Modern Culture, and Reactionary Politics
-Quinn Slobodian. Globalists The End of Empire and the Birth of Neoliberalism
-Martijn Konings. Capital and Time: For a New Critique of Neoliberal Reason Stanford University Press.
-Spencer, Douglas. The Architecture of Neoliberalism: How Contemporary Architecture Became an Instrument of Control and Compliance . Bloomsbury Publishing.
-Adam Kotsko. Neoliberalism’s Demons. Stanford University Press.
-David M. Kotz. The Rise and Fall of Neoliberal Capitalism.

The Inhuman Core of Reza Negarestani’s Philosophy

Reza Negarestani will elaborate a rationalist inhumanism as a new Humanism. In the second of two essays on the Labor of the Inhuman he will offer us this statement:

“Sufficiently elaborated, humanism – it shall be argued – is the initial condition of inhumanism as a force that travels back from the future to alter, if not to completely discontinue, the command of its origin.”1

Nick Land once told us that there’s “only really been one question, to be honest, that has guided everything I’ve been interested in for the last twenty years, which is: the teleological identity of capitalism and artificial intelligence.”2 For Land Capitalism = AI and it was sent back from the future to alter and shape humanity toward an inhuman Singularity beyond which “nothing human would get out alive.”

Continue reading

Daily Thoughts…

“Civilised life, you know, is based on a huge number of illusions in which we all collaborate willingly. The trouble is we forget after a while that they are illusions and we are deeply shocked when reality is torn down around us.”
― J.G. Ballard

It’s still worth realizing that the ‘postmodern mind’ developed in-between two technocapitalist regimes: analogue and digital. From the Frankfurt school onward we gained an apprehension of the analogue culture industry of consumerist capitalism. After the early to mid-90’s the browser wars and the interface to DARPAs networks would be commodified, and the emergence of the digital worldview of the simulated worlds of utopian desire would arise only to be slammed into commercial lockdown at the turn of the century.

Those born after the mid-80’s would emerge from the atomized passivity of TV culture and slowly formulate a global mindset. Yet, the small gap of freedom and creativity gained in desktop computing would give way once again to the passive app worlds of mobile phone culture. Once again people are given the illusion of creativity and freedom, but are guided and controlled with a passive array of mobile apps that offer little or no ability to change, modify, or create; rather one is bound by the coded algorithms of a marketed cash cow that captures your live in avatar data packs feeding it to the very corporate entities that then sell it back to you as entertainment or distraction.

Hardly anyone remembers the analogue world anymore. An unconnected world atomized, distant, and without interactive media. Having lived in both worlds I realize how much more empowered our digital lives are with access to so much more information, and yet like any technological break the old pharmakon of cure and poison inhabit the silent control vectors of this new world in ways we’re only beginning to understand. Our minds shaped by the very algorithms that once offered so much utopian dreams have and or becoming our world’s authoritarian realm of total control and tyranny.

I sometimes think if I pulled the plug, disconnected myself from this digital universe of simulated dreams and nightmares whether the solitude of existence without this system of distraction and capture could be sustained. Almost every aspect of my life is online, connected to shopping venues, social and entertainment venues, virtual friends, legal advice, health and government and banking… everything at my fingertips. Living as I do so far away from major cities I’d be hard put to return to a disconnected life since analogue is obsolesced we are now victims of our own success. Bound to the digital whether we will or not.

I watch those shows of homesteaders in Alaska realizing very few people could ever return to a subsistence world of absolute survival, a life that entails that one organize every minute of one’s existence around food, shelter, and hunting-gathering. Of course if some great cataclysm of war, famine, natural or man-made disaster forced us back into such a life due to a total collapse of economy and networks we’d be back at that stage of human degradation of forced survival protecting our family and loved ones from those who would kill or take without a second thought what is ours. A dog eat dog world.

I’m an old man. I think about such things. Most people are so distracted by their daily lives of struggle such things matter not. I understand that.

A Posthuman Neo-Decadence?

“Neo-Decadent writers will honour the fragmented, the contorted, the unfinished, the unpublished. Realising there is no glory, no reward, no lavish suppers or dancing on tables. Living in obscure lanes and remote canyons, things will be written in unread languages or translated from the language of lizards and snakes, plagiarised from deep wells and signed with hands wet with the dew of rotting fruit.”

—Brendan Connell, First Manifesto of Neo-Decadence

In Decadent Poetics: Literature and Form at the British Fin de Siècle there’s an essay by Dennis Denisoff ‘A Disembodied Voice’: The Posthuman Formlessness of Decadence. He argues that in the decadent prose of the era one finds attempts to force a shift in perspective that would no longer rely on the human subject as the foundation of ethical value, resulting in an ever-changing plurality of being. The challenge the decadents took on is no less than a nonhumanist reconceptualization of reality.

He goes on to say, and I paraphrase, the posthuman neo-decadent “shift allows what we understand as the human to be recognized instead as ‘fundamentally a prosthetic creature that has coevolved with various forms of technicity and materiality, forms that are radically “not-human” and yet have nevertheless made the human what it is’. As the decadents themselves had suggested and as Wolfe reiterates, this ever-changing, multi-perspectival world is not an ideal toward which to strive, but a reality that already exists but still needs to be recognized.”

It’s this notion in much of the early decadent literature which broke with mainstream culture and brought forth new forms and formlessness of the noumenal potential of an alterity already blossoming but unrecognized. A posthuman world already cracking through the chinks of bourgeois (middle-class) culture, tearing at its fake overlays revealing new sexualities and occult underworlds escaping the strict codes of Victorian society. Goes with the notion of Neo-Decadence as a black code virus undermining and destroying the fake worlds of neo-passeism culture of our day by allowing the new poisonous blossoms to emerge from the decaying ruins of our dead Civilization.


  1.  Jason David Hall (Author, Editor), Alex Murray (Editor). Decadent Poetics: Literature and Form at the British Fin de Siècle (Palgrave Studies in Nineteenth-Century Writing and Culture) 2013

Death and Zero

“We get lost in the death of death.”
-Gary J. Shipley

The tattoo is a map and trap, it guides death toward absolute zero, and yet in the labyrinthine passages of each step it divides the fateful event into a series of series – a false infinity of dark chambers, pockets of desire. Written in blood and pigment the hounds of death pulsate forward endlessly through the broken, twisted passages lost among the details of its overdetermined stonework. Each step in this infinite sea becomes a non-repeatable event repeated infinitely among its apophatic undoings, the subtraction of a self among its own memories and desires. To name something is to unname its desire, kill its recorded events, tame its wild charms; see it as it is not, so that it can be as it is. The mystery of a thing is its resemblance to its image, a lie that confounds all mysteries. Zero and Death never reach each other, cannot touch; for to do so would undo creation itself. Like those monks who die without dying, whose mummified flesh is a life within death, we roam in-between that which is and is not keeping the distance between nothing and nothingness at bay. We are not so that we can become other than we are. We are condemned never to desist from our infinite task.

On the Cult of Trump

“Make no mistake about it: great spirits are sceptics.” —Fredrich Nietzsche

How can you write about people who live in their own paranoid novel? It’s not possible, instead you’d have to dismantle their universe of delusion and free them from the prison world of their own self-inflicted madness. The time-loops and feedback systems of their fictional universe are like those old vinyl records that when scratched would loop endlessly in the mad interval of an eternal repetition. But unlike the record, there is no one to lift the diamond needle out of the abyss of repetition. Their stuck repeating the insane gestures forever…

“…in a way, paranoia is kind of a machine, it’s an engine for making connections, and for building stories on top of these connections that you’ve made. So, it’s a connection machine, in a way. And in a way, you start going, this is it; he’s actually modeling this looping process, this is eternal return that we’re stuck in.” – Erik Davis

Conspiracy theory is like that, it’s a fiction about fictions, a paranoid quest bound to the errors of a profound misapplication of thought. Facts? There are no facts in conspiracy theories, only the unwinding of an insane positive-feedback loop entwined with a culture based on persecution and shame. Shamed by its own inanity it strikes out against all who would belabor the point of its insane beliefs. Sartre was wrong Hell is not other people, Hell is other peoples insane meta-fictions…

Actually the Trump’s Cult believers have entered P.K. Dick’s Exegesis as temporary visitants of his paranoia without its sublime transformation into art, instead they’ve literalized his dark gnosis as a form of sacrificial violence become all too real and bloody. QAnon once asserted that Trump is planning a day of reckoning known as the “Storm”, when thousands of members of the cabal will be arrested. Problem is he got it wrong, instead of some deep conspiracy of the Left-as-Cabal it was a self-fulfilling prophecy of the insane Cult of Trump’s Q followers who are now in process of being arrested all over the USA as the FBI slowly unravels the images uploaded by the true believers. A positive feed-back loop that no one could have predicted…

Carl Sagan once said to Charlie Rose: ““We’ve arranged a society on science and technology in which nobody understands anything about science and technology, and this combustible mixture of ignorance and power sooner or later is going to blow up in our faces. I mean, who is running the science and technology in a democracy if the people don’t know anything about it.”

Trump began his campaign against the sciences when he first unplugged the CDC as the authority over the COVID-19 pandemic, and has ever since undermined every aspect of the medical and scientific community at every turn. He has suborned the anti-intellectual populists and evangelicals with their already fear of intellectuals, sciences, and political institutions to the point that we have now 75 million people following a perfect storm of absolute irrationalism. I saw Ted Cruz on twitter berating Biden for calling the truth as he sees it, that Tec Cruz and his minions along with these insurrectionists were fascists undermining the institutions of democracy.

One thing we have to face is that there is a Civil War rumbling below the threshold of this nation and no amount of talk of reconciliation is going to overcome the sheer inertia of 4 years of Trumpism. We also have to realize that for the most part the police forces across this nation are on the side of the populist right-wing white Trumpists. Biden’s going to have to take a hard line against both those within government who like Ted Cruz and Hawley are anti-democratic forces of fascism, along with the masses of populist believers in Trump and QAnon. No amount of talk in the press is going to make this go away…

Sadly we may wake up across this nation to a more deadly world in the coming months unless we face the hard issue of reeducating these masses… else we’ll become their victims as they become more and more emboldened and violent.

“There’s a sort of bleak Gnosis that I occasionally contemplate. There is a kind of freedom, but the freedom comes only in this profound acceptance, not only in the determined course through linear history, but in the Nietzschean sense, that it’s just like this again. All you get is a certain kind of spiritual acceptance, or some kind of affirmation. That’s what Nietzsche was on about. Your only way out is to just radically affirm your life, in all of its mess, and all of its confusion, and all of its fear towards mortality, and all the same mistakes you’ve made over and over again in your struggle.” – Erik Davis

Enigma One

Enigma One

There are places, zones of despair, slinking, wet miserable alleys and back streets, corners of abandoned buildings, spots of pooling darkness; fluidic as night, where the stars flow among black channels roaming an abyss deeper than midnight. Most will never know of such places hiding in plain sight. Pedestrian creatures whose busy lives distracted by the minor apocalypses of daily routine go about their petty existence without a thought of what lies right next to them. The unknowing ones, sleepers of time, trivia artists whose only delight is the boredom of family life. Couch potatoes, mindless and passive, shifting in a sea of death like happy campers oblivious of the deadly hues of this dark zone of madness. I know, I was once like them…

Sometimes I wish I could go back to sleep, enter that safe harbor of mindless simplicity as if all this had not happened. It would be so much easier. But there is no return for creatures such as I. None now, none ever.

When did it happen? When did I slip into this strange void in between things, suddenly awaken to this insidious existence? Time? Time had nothing to do with it. Time’s an illusion like everything else. The casual violence and sex no longer bother me. Like others I’ve found such rituals and bloodletting to be beneficial if only for a solitary night. The oppressive atmosphere of the zone offers no reprieve or deliverance from our secret knowledge. Condemned by our own curiosity we wander among each others dreams like forlorn ghosts of a forgotten world.

I met her in one of the lesser known clubs that seem to come and go in the shifting reality of the zone. The first time we met neither of us was really interested in conversation, but the knowledge that we shared a secret complicity allowed us to enjoy the evening in silence. No one bothered us, and left each other to our own misery. Her eyes had that inner darkness that speaks of unreal dreams and visions. Most of us slept little. We all knew what happened when one shut one’s eyes.

Her name was Sarah. Her skin was pale and tattooed. She had short frag hair, shaded cotton snow, jet streaked filigrees dangling down like seared tears from a dark angel; edged and boyish it was razored against her scalp giving one the impression she’d seen too many old cyberpunk movies. And, yet, there was something that seemed right about it; like it matched something in her, a ghosted presence surfacing from a haunted inscape that like a fungus touched the deep-rooted curse of the land we inhabited. I was tempted to start up a conversation. But as she glanced furtively at me from time to time I could see that conversation was the last thing she wanted from me.

Our eyes met and locked. Communication. Does anyone really know what passes between flesh and flesh in such moments. A knowing almost magnetic, an intensity that seems to distill time, softening its edges so that whatever is real seems to fall away leaving this unreal afterglow. Not so much meaning as a melding of two voids. We both knew. Nothing had to be spoken. I got up and she followed.

© S.C. Hickman (2021)

Alien Modernity

“As I sat there, catatonic but incredibly present, plugged into the pulsating grid that enveloped me, I realised I’d forgotten my humiliation…”

—Simon Sellars, Applied Ballardianism: Memoir From a Parallel Universe

The truth is we all love energy, vibrancy and full-tilt danger; as long as that danger isn’t too real. We enter our alternate realities, our game worlds, video avatars strung with metalloid dreams of violence and adventure. We go to clubs that smell of sweat and sex, the violence of the soundscapes roiling us in ancient worlds of ritual and sacrifice. Like initiates of some dark religion we seek to comfort ourselves in dystopian nightmares because those we can deal with unlike the droning imbecility of our everyday lives spent in dread of our actual all too real world of sociopathy and psychopathy. Thomas Ligotti was wrong… what people really want is a dystopian paradise, a holodeck full of adventures and danger without all the bodily violence it entails. Set Theory as an infinite video game; rhizomes to virtual elsewheres where avatars romp among the hyperworlds like alien visitors from a forgotten universe. The enhanced distractions of some sublime nightmare realm that energizes us and keeps us treading the glitz of violent mindscapes. Obsessed, dammed, and full of lurid energy we’re like “a motley band of revelers picnicking in the graveyard of the Real, leaving behind all manner of rotting delicacies and toxic baubles in their wake. ” (Neo-Decadent Reader)

Rereading Simon Sellars novel of the cyberdelian culture of the mid-90’s when utopian desire melded with the dystopian rage of artificial worlds he speaks to us of this temporal void where energy, music, and desire mix in the hollows of memory like temptations to exit reality for the alien raptures of some dark hellish paradise:

“The club was a shrine to jungle, the new and thrilling dance music that was unlike anything anyone had ever known. The five-level building was a rabbit warren of different dance floors. Each floor contained different beats per minute. Different dancers. Different pills. Different ideals for living. Yet all were linked in a cornucopia of psychic energy, a multiverse of mind-bending complexity. The DJs were incredibly exciting, their hyperfast hands wired to the decks. The music was phenomenal. Clattering metallic percussion that injured the brain. Skittering, liquid-synthetic bass lines that ruptured the bowels. Helter-skelter rhythms pierced with dialogue samples from Blade Runner, Predator, Robocop and The Terminator. It was a sci-fi dystopian soundscape, an alien planet brought to life by artificial mindstates and synthetic beats.”

—Simon Sellars


Pick up a copy today: Applied Ballardianism: Memoir From a Parallel Universe

Ponderings Upon Paul Nash, The Ancient Soul With A Surrealist Heart, And How Art Enables New Ways of Seeing Archaeologically

Rebecca ponders the surrealist work of John Nash… excellent read!

Lady Liminal's Wanderings

“The great stones were in their wild state, so to speak. Some were half covered by the grass, others stood up in cornfields or were entangled and overgrown in the copses, some were buried under the turf. But they were wonderful and disquieting, and as I saw them then, I shall always remember them”

Nash remembering back to his first encounter with the Avebury Megaliths in 1933 (1942); (Nash 1951, 11 – posthumous publication)

Paul Nash (1889 –1946) and I have a history. I vividly remember the first time I saw one of his works, The Menin Road (1918), painted during his tenure as an Official War Artist, during the Great War. It made an immediate, and profound, impact on me. To my young eyes, the burnt out, broken trees, reminded me of the standing stones which I was lucky enough to see peppered throughout the landscapes I roamed as…

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Slavoj Zizek’s Confusion

For years I’ve listened to Slavoj Zizek’s misunderstanding of Gnosticism as he confuses it with the whole tradition of Hermeticism. Hermeticism and its Magical systems would culminate in John Dee’s ideology of the ‘exaltatio’ or the self-divinization of humanity. As György E. Szonyi tells us the Magus was central to the Hermetic tradition of Occult in the West, and the whole struggle of Alchemy and the Hermetic Arts culminated in the Great Work. György E. Szonyi in his magisterial John Dee’s Occultism – Magical Exaltation Through Powerful Signs states:

“This is, the ideology of exaltatio, that is, the deification of man, which I see as the intellectual foundation of magic, a foundation that even today validates magical aspiration and its scholarly research. I also argue that it was the desire for exaltatio which framed and tied together the otherwise amazingly heterogeneous thoughts and activities of John Dee.”

John Dee and the magickal traditions arose out of Hermetic and Alchemical thought rather than Gnosticism proper. At the heart of both Hermetic and Alchemical thought and praxis was the ‘Great Work’ which as Szonyi explores it is this process of exaltation or self-divinization or immortalization, etc. Gnosticism is not the exaltation of self but its opposite. The Gnostic’s soteriological thought and praxis was the erasure and decreation of self, while releasing the hidden god or spark through the power of negation or unnaming in an apophatic process. Whereas the Hermetic Magus sought to reinforce the self and exalt it into absolute godhood and divinity, the Gnostic sought to void the self releasing the god-spark of the Alien God. Two completely different metaphysics and meta-techniques. It’s this difference that makes the difference between the Transhumanist adventure which is steeped in the Hermetic-Alchemical Great Work metaphysics of self-divinization and exaltation that separates it from many Posthumanisms. This is where I disagree with Zizek who confuses Gnosticism with Hermetic-Alchemical traditions in his new work and thereby gets it all wrong.

Confusing the Hermetic-Alchemical traditions with the Gnostic-Kabbalistic traditions has been one of those undercurrents in scholarship and culture that pervades philosophical speculation in Transhumanism, Posthumanism, and Rational Inhumanism. It’s this lack of clarity between the various counter-cultural or underground traditions that have accrued errors over the years.

I’ve seen the same argument from Zizek about New Age obscurantism and his incessant confusion of the the positive Hermetic traditions with negative Gnostic apophatic traditions. As in this passage from his new work on the Wired Brain and Neuralink:

“Today, this theological dimension of the wired brain is making a spectacular return, just (as expected) deprived of the Communist underpinning. The sublime obverse of Musk’s cynical insight “let’s try to catch up with the machines so that we will not become apes in a zoo” is the gnostic New Age reading of Singularity as not only the new stage of post-humanity but a key cosmic event, the accomplishment of the divine self-actualization: in Singularity, not only we, humans, become divine, god himself becomes fully divine. Insofar as Singularity also implies a kind of synchronicity of minds, no wonder it calls for theosophical speculations. That is to say, when synchronicity is debated, the obscurantist temptation is almost irresistible – no wonder Jung loved this notion.”

———————————————–
Funny that he brings up Jung who in my own opinion did the same confusing and merging the Gnostic and Hermetic-Alchemical traditions producing a literalist objectivization of Hegel’s notions of Spirit-Geist as the Objective Psyche or Collective Unconscious. Instead of separating Gnostic Soteriological thought from the Exaltatio of the Great Work in Hermetic-Alchemical lore and techniques Jung became one more obscurantist as Freud knew all too well. Freud was a dualist, Jung a monist. Freud followed Schopenhauer and took the blind Will as Drive and developed all his scientific mythology of pleasure/pain (Lacanian jouissance) into eros / thanatos etc. While Jung would objectify and literalize it as real agents or entities existing in the Objective Psyche. Freud internalized it as a dualist, while Jung externalized it as a monist.

Gnostics being dualists did not internalize the entities (i.e., psychologize them as part of psyche, etc.) … the Gnostics believed the Archons were part of what Kant would term the noumenal or our later sense of the Outside. Not the inside… it is the Hermetic-Alchemical traditions that Jung used to internalize and symbolize the various objective entities of his Objective Psyche later Collective Unconscious. Two different things… Jung’s epigones and disciples would confuse this as well. But Freud would impersonalize these entities as trieb-drive, while Jung would personalize the entities as archetypes. For Freud these entities were the irrational drives (Trieb), while Jung literalized and personified them not as impersonal drive but as actual archetypal persons. This is why Freud is a dualist and saw these as impersonal and irrational forces playing havoc with humanity. Jung was a monist and literalist seeing like Plato’s realism archetypal powers as actual Ideas-Forms and Agents internally in the Objective Psyche, etc. This is why Freud and Jung parted ways…

Barbarism Rising

“Barbarianism is the natural state of mankind. Civilization is unnatural. It is the whim of circumstance. And barbarianism must ultimately triumph”
― Robert E. Howard

Most of us are ill-prepared to face that hard truth, but under the veneer of our civilized façade humanity is just as barbarous now as it ever was. The pathology of human evil lives in each of us, and no matter what we may think otherwise people under the right circumstances would and will commit the darkest atrocities. We have all the technological gewgaws one can imagine, and yet the slip-shod civilization within which we blindly live as if this is all normal is declining moment by moment into the darkest worlds imaginable. What is normal? Normal is this blind world of distraction and denial we all pretend will last, a safe haven against the bitter fruits of our inane leaders and economics of destruction. No this too will pass… and the nightmare of our blindness will be stripped away as the illusion of civilization falls away from our eyes revealing the beast in all its ferocious savagery.

Post-Apocalyptic Novels that will wipe the veneer of human civility from your blinkered normalcy, and give you back the vision of what lies ahead of us:

Damnation Alley by Roger Zelazny
Eternity Road by Jack McDevitt
Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer
On the Beach by Nevil Shute
The Death of Grass by John Christopher
The Slynx by Tatyana Tolstaya
The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham
The Inhabited Island by Strugatsky brothers
Doomed City by Strugatsky brothers
The Time Trilogy:
The Drowned World by J.G. Ballard
The Drought by J.G. Ballard
The Crystal World by J.G. Ballard
The Children of Men by PD James
Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi
The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi
The Jerusalem Man Trilogy by David Gemmell
The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Age of Paranoia, Hate and Persecution

Carl Schmitt, fascist and right-wing theorist, in his political theology would follow Tertullian against the Gnostics in creating his notion of friend / enemy distinction and decisionist thought. Basing it on a secularization of the Inquisitorial notions of faithful / heretic and all its legalisms. A politics of conflict and agonistic dualism would enter the fray. Has it ever left? Are we not even now still living under this daemonic politics of Left/Right Order and Chaos, Friend (those who side with our politics – Progressive/Conservative, etc.?), and Enemy (all those heretics and hate-mongers of our political stance, etc.).

So much hate, paranoia, and persecution is still the major threat even as mediocre mainstream democracy enters the arena of the American Presidency. The supposed right-wing enemies will not go away quietly into that political night. No. We’ve only begun to enter a decade of struggle and turmoil as the age-old battles of Left and Right transition into a new decade of paranoia, persecution, and hatred of each other.

I’ve often wondered why we fall back into ancient dualistic scenarios, whether we truly are driven by deep forces as Freud and his disciples once mythologized in their drive theories. As Byung-Chul Han in Psychopolitics suggest:

“We are living in a particular phase of history: freedom itself is bringing forth compulsion and constraint. The freedom of Can generates even more coercion than the disciplinarian Should, which issues commandments and prohibitions. Should has a limit. In contrast, Can has none. Thus, the compulsion entailed by Can is unlimited. And so we find ourselves in a paradoxical situation. Technically, freedom means the opposite of coercion and compulsion. Being free means being free from constraint. But now freedom itself, which is supposed to be the opposite of constraint, is producing coercion. Psychic maladies such as depression and burnout express a profound crisis of freedom. They represent pathological signs that freedom is now switching over into manifold forms of compulsion.”

Freedom as the production of coercion pervades our moment, and the pathology of hate, paranoia, and persecution is with us still. Sadly.

On Failure

Most of us live with the possibility of failure, if not its consequences. Failure is that pinnacle of overreach in which flesh taps mind at the point of its plunge from sun to sea; and, yet, to have seen the glint of wings desperately clinging to the fractured rays of light is a darkness to great to dispel.

Old Age and Dreams

As I grow older I’ve begun dreaming more lucidly again as I did when a child, and do find myself at times waking up speaking to someone in my dreams… it’s always eerie, as if I had been roaming through other lives, on other worlds, and strange landscapes, foreign cities with alien beings who seem to implant information and speak to me of things in our own future… it’s this eerie feeling that we are being warned of coming tragedies that we are ill-prepared for and that we need to act on now. When I do awaken from such dreams I feel haunted, this sense of great loss as if I had seen the end of things and my inner sense had still felt the lingering pain of some horror that I feel deeply but cannot remember: a fleeting series of after-images always follows and I try to sit and place them in memory but they just dissolve in nothingness…

The Great Interregnum

The only dangerous and radical critique is the political critique of democracy. Because the emblem of the present age, its fetish, its phallus, is democracy. So long as we do not know how to construct a large-scale creative critique of State democracy, we will remain, stagnate, in the financial brothel of images.—Alain Badiou, The Pornographic Age

“The basic premise of the Hegelian dialectics is that the path to truth is a moment of truth itself: truth is ultimately nothing other than the systematic articulation of a succession of errors.” —Slavoj Žižek, Hegel in A Wired Brain

Badiou calls it the interval, the gap between a failed world of images and our subtraction from that hall of mirrors. Market democracy rules the planet under various guises of political corruption. But let’s be clear there is no exit, no place to go, no island or safe haven from its ugly face. We are all trapped in the prison house of an economic system of State Democracy. As long as we collude with it we will all fall-fail with it. Badiou would like us to subtract ourselves from this false system of images, bound as we are in a world of social media that entraps us like victims of our own success.

Russia and China have returned to despotism with a capitalist face. The EU is a stateless State of austerity in which economics rules rather than democracy. America is in ragnarok, eclipsed by its own blindness, overreach, and corrupted dreams of globalism. Both reactionary and progressive politics is dead with only the semblance of a farcical comedy of corporate controlled minions left to do its bidding. We pretend with ourselves that we can change it, reform it, modify it by political means… we can’t. But those who still believe in it will continue to merge with its images till the mirror world finally folds them in its dark economic enslavement.

The Pandemic is a natural and unnatural process that in itself is only one pebble in a slow but methodical avalanche of disasters coming our way on this planet. Already we see how the façade of market democracy has failed us, and will continue to fail us. Oh, don’t get me wrong, people will cling to the sinking ship till they drown… people don’t really want to change. They want their utopian dreams, their little petty lives to go on as before, as if their little lives mattered. They don’t. No one gives a shit about your petty lives. Especially those who mask power in the halls of government. True, I’m pessimistic about our prospects because people for the most part are like compliant and passive prisoners awaiting a judgment that will never come. They’ve judged themselves.

Oh, sure, people will protest this or that, but revolt… revolution? No. People have become domesticate animals entrapped in the comforts of false desires, minions of a technocratic worldview that offers them simple distractions and images of freedom rather than freedom itself. Justice. How can there be justice in a world of images?

Posthuman Control

Unlike his friend Badiou, Zizek accepts that the technocratic worldview will replace our current chaotic interval, that we are already in the midst of this transitional phase, moving in that demarcated zone of Singularity beyond which no one can see but the wise among us can at least speculate:

“The prospect of total digital control of which we are not even aware confronts us brutally with the basic philosophical question: is our only chance of freedom in isolation from the space of Singularity, or is there a dimension of being-human which in principle eludes Singularity even if we are fully immersed in it?”

–Slavoj Žižek, Hegel in A Wired Brain

Broken Dreams, Broken Promises

At the moment that Spengler wrote The Decline of the West modernity was in decline… WWI had devastated Europe and the supposed Great Powers were all losing or had lost their pirate Empires across the Third World. Mechanistic science and philosophy were under attack from all sides as Einstein’s revolutions began to modify and take hold of Newton’s worldview that would soon fragment into an array of competing theories leading to the Quantum revolution of the 30’s…

So the vitalism of Goethe and Nietzsche seemed to flow into such prequels of fascism with its notions of Eliot’s Wasteland, Pound’s Cantos, Yeats nostalgic Celtic Twilight… visions of ancient utopias that never existed but that could still hold sway over an age of bitter defeats and late romanticism, decadence, and disenchantment…

The postmoderns would later try to destroy the metanarratives of modernity, try to relativize history and all its theories; its historicist mythologies… did it accomplish its task. No. Humans are in love with the Mind’s inventions, and even now people project their wants and fears into dreams of past or future narratives. One reason Fantasy and Science Fiction still hold sway over a vast swath of readers imaginations.

I think one thing most fear above all is that modernity, progress, and democracy all arose with this strange amalgam of the Enlightenment’s dreams of Reason, Disenchantment, and Western Civilization. That this seems now to be crumbling around us due to our ill-choice in an economic system that embodied both the central motif of this worldview, along with all its ruinous consequences for the planet and for the stability of Western Civilization is coming to fruition.

We attack it and label its economic engine, and yet we do not see that one cannot rip out the engine without destroying the vehicle within which it has mobilized its forces. Spengler along with his mentor Nietzsche believes that somewhere in the decades of this new century we are living in that Western Civilization would enter it’s last stages of decline and fall… is this myth, metanarrative, or just a mental fiction about a process we still do not have much control over but that the Mind in its inventive powers dreams forward? As Spengler said:

“At last, in the grey dawn of Civilization, the fire in the Soul dies down. The dwindling powers rise to one more, half-successful, effort of creation, and produce the Classicism that is common to all dying Cultures. The soul thinks once again, and in Romanticism looks back piteously to its childhood; then finally, weary, reluctant, cold, it loses its desire to be, and, as in Imperial Rome, wishes itself out of the overlong daylight and back in the darkness of protomysticism, in the womb of the mother, in the grave.”

Valhalla Steel by Sean Crow

Capture1

Enjoyed the hell out of this one. Sean knows how to pack a punch, a cybergrim speed bolt of thunder ripping down the whale road of a post-apocalyptic death road. What a twist to match ancient Norse and Brit mythologies of Vikings vs. Fae into a high-tech world of augmented gun jockeys and net runners, Mongols with Sky-Seekers roaring across the skies on grav boats, and Primordial kin with weregelded eyes of amber smoking pure fire across streetscapes of Twilight City.

It’s a tale of revenge and survival, of a dead father and the last of his Clan seeking vengeance in a new world far removed from their Icelandic enclaves. Angus – Jarl of the Clans leading a remnant from the Fae wars to make their way in a brutal world where only the strong and intelligent hope to survive. Forging alliances between monstrous creatures and a city of shadows where nothing is ever as it seems.

About the only thing I found lacking was a longer work, it was just way too short and need three times the length we were given. The narrative arc itself is perfect, but I felt like this was a trial run of a much longer work to come, a prequel or preamble of an epic fantasy done up in noir and grimdark world of cyberpunk tech. I just hope Sean will take his time and not rush the next one, spend more time of creating more detail in landscape and characterization. Otherwise this is the start of something empowering and quite different from anything out there in this sub-genre.


Visit Sean’s site: Home – (lordofcrows.com)
By Valhalla Steel on amazon: buy it!

Philosophers of Irrationalism, Will, and Vitalism

Most who have followed my blog have probably gathered that most of my thought goes under the lineage of philosophical voluntarism, irrationalism, and vitalism; all with a reserved qualification. That aside the following are the main influences in that tradition as opposed to all Rationalist Philosophies of all persuasions. Each of them touches aspects of the lineage without all being of the same pedigree. Some are of opposing political stances, and even at the extreme opposite of the political spectrum. I could have added many others. Some tend toward non-dialectical thought, others dialectical; some Idealist, others Materialist; but all touch base with the Irrational driven nature of human beings over those philosophers who believe humans are guided by Intellect and Reason. It doesn’t take much to realize that our immediate human world is driven by irrational forces more than Rational. Not all are voluntarist, not all are vitalist, but all are part of that Irrationalist worldview. Irrationalism has always stressed the dimensions of instinct, feeling, and will as over and against reason, intellect, and Geist (Spirit). In our own time the Rationalist philosophers seem to be in the ascendant, but there are still those of the Irrationalist mode to be found…

Below are a few of the Philosophers of Irrationalism, Will, and Vitalism (this is not an exhaustive list):

Empedocles
Saint Augustine
John Duns Scotus
Blaise Pascal
Immanuel Kant
Johann Georg Hamann
Friedrich Schelling
Arthur Schopenhauer
Julius Frauenstädt
Eduard von Hartmann
Philipp Mainländer (Batz)
Julius Bahnsen
Wilhelm Dilthey
Frederich Nietzsche
Søren Kierkegaard
Charles Sanders Pierce
William James
Sigmund Freud
Henri Bergson
Ludwig Klages
Oswald Spengler
Jean-Paul Sartre
Albert Camus
Georges Bataille
Adorno
Marcuse
E.M. Cioran
Jean Baudrillard
Gilles Deleuze
Nick Land
Franco (Bifo) Berardi
Slavoj Zizek

Gnostic Films for the Holidays

Gnostic Films

A group of gnostic films I want to rewatch over the holidays: Vanilla Sky (2001), The Thirteenth Floor (1999), eXistenZ (1999), Dark City (1998), and Pleasantville (1998). Dead Man (1996) and Altered States (1980) with more hermetic and alchemical themes. And of course The Matrix (1999) and The Truman Show (1998) with gnostic imprisonment and escape themes. Those with gnostic undercurrents: The Ninth Gate (1999), Jacob’s Ladder (1990), Blue Velvet (1986), and Excalibur (1981).

Should keep me busy…

For those who need a primer in gnostic thought…

Depends on your reading. I’m not a Gnostic, but rather an Anti-Gnostic Gnostic… a misnomer, but for me there is no alien god hiding or exiled beyond the universe awaiting its moment of redemption or salvation of my spark. Yet, as in pessimism there is a sense that something is wrong, something at root malevolent and dark within the immanence of our energetic (Will) cosmos. The early Gnostics were of course soteriologically minded, believing that this malevolent demiurge (Old Testament’s Yaweh-Ialdabaoth) and his minions (Archons) had lured the sparks of God into this universe to trap them and feed eternally on their suffering and pain. Kabbalistic thought would engender a myth of the broken vessels and the Tree-of-Life and Tree-of-Death or right hand path/left-hand-path of white and black magics to describe it. For Gnostics we are all Strangers in a Strange Land (Heinlein), lost in a labyrinth of time, cut off from the source or Plato’s One, etc. Christ in their scenario is Lucifer the Light Bringer who makes a call to the faithful through personal experience. That’s the crux… that was the central heresy and why the Catholic Church hounded them out in all forms: the Church had a hierarchy of intercessors, the Pope being the ultimate intercessor between humanity and God (Demiurge-Yahweh). Gnostics had no need of intercessors or Churches, worldly power or organization… only the personal experience of each human alone with the alone.

The Gnostics had no need of outer form, ritual, Churches but rather relied on absolute inner sense and experience (see Bataille). None of the above films is a pure Gnostic rendition, but all have elements and undercurrents either overt or askance of the notion of gnosis or an irrational (beyond reason) knowledge that awakens one from the sleep of timespace, etc. One could spend years developing and reading through the literature, I’ve spent a lifetime reading on it and its roots in philosophy etc. Hell, even one like François Laruelle makes use of it in his non-philosophy. Classic texts like Hans Jonas gives you the base or skeleton key. The aphorist E.M. Cioran gives you the inner forms… there is literally hundreds of good works on it, and thousands and thousands of secondary commentary and historical, mythical, philosophical works… for a light economical reading The Gnostic New Age: How a Countercultural Spirituality Revolutionized Religion from Antiquity to Today by April DeConick brings much to the table in easy to know and understand popular parlance from a scholar who does have more stringent works.

I’m no scholar, just a widely read bibliophile and maniac in search of wisdom and knowledge. I’ve hounded the streams of so many currents in thought that none of them can reduce me to its view. Singular and dividual I stand amid the ruins of our Western culture not in some nostalgic take or to save what’s left, but to explore what’s still vital and alive in it.

Eric Voegelin’s Anti-Democratic Worldview

I’ve never been much of a fan of such thinkers as Voegelin, and yet let us be clear we need to understand such right-wing reactionary thinkers and their attack on progressive liberalism and its roots in Modernity. The reactionary spirit is not going away, as we see in our recent political debacle, so understanding and thinking through the ideologists of that form of political theology and its underpinnings is needful in the times ahead.

The German Catholic Eric Voegelin a reactionary conservative and anti-democratic ideologist of constitutional liberalism would equate it and its traditions with Gnosticism as the core of Modernity. His attack upon all forms of progressive and socialist thought would stem from his right-wing religious ideology. For him much of our current civilization was under the sign of a “falacious immanentization”, an “End of History” ideology based on a recurring theme of gnostic thought.

Voegelin found in the Calabrian monk Joachim of Flora a hook for his own reactionary thought, believing that this monk created a speculative history that satisfied the desire to endow mundane human existence with a meaning which Christianity, and especially the Augustinian conception of history, had denied it; and he did so by relocating the end of transcendental history, the Christian eschaton, the ultimate transfiguration in God out of time within historical existence. Joachim’s project, according to Eric Voegelin, was the “first Western attempt at an immanentization of the meaning of history.”1

What unites the various manifestations of this spiritual disorder according to Voegelin’s reactionary thought—positivism, progressivism, Marxism, psychoanalysis, liberalism, fascism, National Socialism—is the radical “will to immanentization,” the closure toward the transcendent dimension of human experience, that underlies their construction. Indeed, the most extreme modern ideologies go a step further; their proponents not only reject the transcendent ground but seek to “abolish the constitution of being, with its origin in divine, transcendent being, and to replace it with a world-immanent order of being.” They aim to bring about the transfiguration of human nature through human action in history and to build a terrestrial paradise endowed with the meaning and salvational qualities of the Christian eschaton. In short, the ideological constructions embody, in Voegelin’s famous terminology, a radical and “fallacious immanentization of the Christian eschaton.” The Christian conception of man’s ultimate transfiguration in God was brought “down to earth,” transformed into the notion of human transfiguration in time, to be accomplished through strictly human and immanent action; the transcendent Christian end of history was transformed into a mundane “End of History” to be realized in the immanent future. The ideologists carried the process begun by Joachim to its limit; the transcendent dimension of reality was fully absorbed into mundane existence.

Voegelin saw Gnosticism all over the modern age. He even considered liberalism, constitutionalism, and “democratism” to be gnostic ideologies, and some of his students were extremely hard on John Locke, who had a sizeable influence on the American Founding. If he lived today he’d be attacking Transhumanism and the notion of the Singularity as one more manifestation of the Gnostic Spirit of transcendence in immanence or the “End of History” ideology, along with its notion of hermetic revival of self-divinizing cyborg or AGI merger as the new Golem-Homunculus – as Immortal Man.


  1. Raeder, Linda C. Voegelin on Gnosticism, Modernity, and the Balance of Consciousness. Voegelin Review 2020

Negative Capability and Our Predicament

If I had a basic stance it would always return to John Keat’s notions:

“The Man of Achievement especially in Literature & which Shakespeare possessed so enormously—I mean Negative Capability, that is when man is capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact & reason…” (Letter to his brothers Tom and George)

Over and over I seek out such thinkers and writers who seem to be situated in that in-between space where one is faced with the nameless and unknown without grasping for some religious or scientific reason or image to dispel its mystery. Certain forms of horror and the weird come closest to this region of thought beyond which all is silence of mysticism. One reason philosophies of Will rather than Intellect fascinate me is just that, we are driven creatures, irrational and prone to error both in judgment and vision, our brains filling in the gaps of our knowledge and vision of existence with invention.

As Andy Clark in Surfing Uncertainty puts it:

“The mystery is, and remains, how mere matter manages to give rise to thinking, imagining, dreaming, and the whole smorgasbord of mentality, emotion, and intelligent action. Thinking matter, dreaming matter, conscious matter: that’s the thing that it’s hard to get your head—whatever it’s made of—around. But there is an emerging clue. It is one clue among many, and even if it’s a good one, it won’t solve all the problems and puzzles. Still, it’s a real clue is prediction.

To deal rapidly and fluently with an uncertain and noisy world, brains like ours have become masters of prediction—surfing the waves of noisy and ambiguous sensory stimulation by, in effect, trying to stay just ahead of them.” (Andy Clark. Surfing Uncertainty: Prediction, Action, and the Embodied Mind)

In other words we are the creative animal, we live by and in inventions, worlds of imaginative leaps bounded by reason, logic, and imagination. It’s a world that was well adapted to the natural realms within which we developed and maintained our material existence for hundreds of thousands of years. But that all changed somewhere around ten thousand years ago when men began taming themselves and the natural world around them. We began domesticating ourselves and the natural worlds, began a process of domination and control of which our unnatural or anti-natural realm of artifice, technology, and civilization is the outcome.

With all our philosophical prowess we have yet to encompass the big picture of this actual heritage.

The Labyrinths of the Asemic Night

The Labyrinths of the Asemic Night

The Priest reminded him of the Sin Eater’s of old whose open sores gave acolytes and bearer’s of sin alike visions of infernal worlds of hopeless love. Asemic mappings of the invisible noumenon surrounding us in the Abyss, the slow insectile elaboration of a secret legacy hidden in the seams of broken masonry or the pools of blood found in dark alleys of inner cities. Listening to the chittering patter of the night, the clicking clatter of millions of legs across the rain-soaked stones of the labyrinth he heard in the distance the lonely song of some darkened siren of the veil, her song slipping between the folds of the coronal horizon of dying stars. Here at the center of the darkness he felt the cosmic night drifting through his mind like a hint of closure, an exposed moment of stylish and incipient emergence of some unknown and unknowable future.