Nick Land: The Sponge that absorbed God

The labyrinth is the unconscious of God, or the repressed of monotheism. … What God really was is something incompatible with anything ‘being’ at all. Real composition is not extrinsically created nature, but if this is a Spinozism, it is one in which substance itself is sacrificed to the scales. So that atheism is in the end (and end without end) an immense sponge, a mega-sponge, the dissolution of boundaries in all of its positive complexity.

– Nick Land, The Thirst for Annihilation

The darkness shines like the terror of an angel, the clipped wings trailing bloody suns through the labyrinths of time, where the consuming flames like a tortured love are inextricably linked to the death of everything. “Agony alone has the power to seduce us, and it is to our most savage torments that we most ardently cling. We know that a life that was not torched into charcoal by desire would be an unendurable insipidity” (175).1  An ancient music of howls and screams purges this deadly angel, subtracting him from the torpor of a twisted thought, melding his mind to the core heat sink of a black hole where the zero point of eternity and time fold into the labyrinthine scales.

Only those isolates who partake of this anti-logos understand the unbounded freedom of oblivion, they know that it too serves a god. The density between the stars is almost too much for such creatures, they need the silences of immanence rather than the transcendent specters of  those angelic hierarchies to absolve all those crimes of eternity. Its only in the gaps, absences, discontinuities; in the fragments, juxtapositions, and abandoned plans of feral utopias; in the flows of quantum spinal cores collapsing toward the center of an intoxicated dementia that we discover the savage gods of our blasted inheritance. In this wraith-realm the virological horrors begin. Here is Bataille’s community of the disjecta: a scattered remnant, fallen revenants of the Void. “Bataille is less an ‘interesting writer’ than a loathsome vice, and to be influenced by him is less a cultural achievement than a virological horror; far closer to the spasmodic rot of untreated syphilis than to the enrichment of an intellect” (178).

Even as you read these words the fragmented text of your own being is being annihilated moment by moment. The illusions of your habitual mind, the small repetitions of others influences, the traces of fabricated imbrications of thought that mark your psyche undo the very fibers of your own empty reflective nothingness.

“Confronting the absolute posed by our inevitable extinction, we feel brave, proud of ourselves, we permit ourselves a little indulgence, swooning in the delectations of morbidity. To face up to death is more than the others do, our haunted grimace becomes a complacent smile, we run our hands lovingly over the lichen-spattered graves.” (180)

Even the angels envy our infinity of death. “Across the aeons our mass hydro-carbon enjoys a veritable harem of souls” (180). And here you thought Life was for the living, much more the dead. Death feeds on us each second of our lives, the cells you have now do not belong to the creature you were at entry into this labyrinth. “Matter is in flight from the possibility of essence as if from an original pertinency of ontology, and life is merely the most aberrant and virological variant of this flight” (181). Adventurers in the art of death, we travel in a dimension of confusion seeking out the threads of an impossible externality. Quarantined in this compositional ghetto on the edge of a void we sift the slums of creation for signs of God’s body only to find that it is immanent to the  virological madness of our own reasoning minds. Ariadne’s threads are none other than the filaments of our own neuronal tentacles tallying the fragments of an unbounded infinity.

1. Nick Land. The Thirst for Annihilation. (Routledge 1992)

3 thoughts on “Nick Land: The Sponge that absorbed God

  1. “Only those isolates who partake of this anti-logos understand the unbounded freedom of oblivion, they know that it too serves a god.” This quote struck me as particularly Schellingean, but it is also something that I am currently trying to fit into my own evolving perspective of “speculative naturalism.”

    For now the anti-logos is what I would call the “vital negative.” You had alluded to this some time back when you discussed Brassier’s form of naturalism, something which I am not yet convinced is entirely incompatible with the sort of non-theology (or in more 20th-century language, “empirical or naturalistic theism,” according to the figures that I am working with) that I am attempting to work out over the course of time and conversations.

    In any case, one thing that strikes me as interesting in all of this is the penchant for darkness. The need and *thirst* for annihilation. I wonder though if that thirst, itself, could be subjected to a critique from the angle of anthropocentrism: why should *we* get the honor of eternal annihilation? It would actually be more tortuous to suffer eternity, no? Is thirsting for annihilation, an end to suffering, just too optimistic? Not “bleak” enough? What I find attractive about Corrington’s naturalism for example is that it doesn’t pretend to paint a pleasant face upon an indifferent nature (like many process theologians do). It’s an honest, empirical naturalism who takes god to be but one of many orders of the world, if even in its divine “inexistence.” This begs the question of hope. Is it more honest to live with it or without it?

    If anyone knows of the band Emperor, I used to correspond with Faust quite abit (which reminds me, I can post some photos of handwritten responses to an interview that I did with Glyve Nagel, a.k.a. “Fenriz” from the early ’90s. ’94 I think), but anyway, it reminds me of Emperor’s song ‘Wrath of the Tyrant.’ What an unbridled power that anti-logos and oblivion. No one escapes the wrath of the tyrant.

    Just more speculative alchemy on my part. But Schelling was on to that, that “vital negative.” For him, though, the suffering never ended. No end to annihilation. Forever. Eternal. Suffering and pain.

    On the other hand, with my neurological condition and my own diagnosis (and prognosis for this upcoming year), I’d like to say that pain is something that I know a thing or two about. Those who discount it too easily I think aren’t aware of its *metaphysical* meaning.


    • In some ways I think Land’s tipping his hand, a sort of inside joke, since for him there can be no annihilation since matter is already for him eternal in its endless transformations and metamorphosis. The rest I’d have to think on… seems your well into working through your own set of philosophical problems. enjoy the ride!


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