EU Death March: As The Refugee Crisis Turns and Turns and Turns

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German eagerness to fill jobs with Syrians and other refugees is an indictment of the EU’s dysfunctional economy and cultural rigidities. Signs of growing animosity in Finland. Bad Blood Among Old Enemies in the Balkans. Anti-Muslim fervor in Poland, Eastern Europe. Canada’s three main political leaders spar over refugees, trade, terrorism. Refugee Crisis Used in Anti-Muslim Rhetoric. German mayor blames Israel for Syrian refugee crisis. Obama blames al-Assad for creating a power vacuum in the country that has allowed the terror group ISIS to fester. Others thank Obama, then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her successor John Kerry for the crisis.

Can we ask a simple question: Who is accepting responsibility? We don’t give a shit for the blame game, the hate mongering, the innuendos of racism: bloodletting, anti-Muslim, anti-Israel, rhetorics… what we need is leaders to accept responsibility and ACT – do something, anything… but as usual we’ll likely only see more death, bombings, war. The Merchants of Death over Life – is this not the truth of politics today? Enslavement, death, poverty, isolation, bigotry, debauchery, silence, hate… the common people of Europe are inner-émigrés, while the Syrians are from the outer zones: is this the pauperization of Europe at the expense of a self-satisfied elite of rich bankers, politicians, and Corporate scoundrels who have no clue what to do for either the refugees or their own people? The problem with Europe and America is one of Leadership: the true crisis is that the whole capitalist regime is to blame for this crisis – War for Profit and Oil caused it – now their reaping the reward of their efforts. But it’s the common man who is suffering for their leaders stupidity. When will the common man of the street wake up? Act… revolt?

Interestingly Japan has stepped up to the plate: Japan to offer $1.1 billion to support people fleeing Syria, Iraq. Zuckerberg offers a less than altruistic solution: he thinks access to the Internet will do the trick. Google Engages Facebook With Nonstop Solar Drones for refugee crisis. Lebanon steps up while Britain fails to engage. Refugee Crisis is Pushing Lebanon to the Brink. David Cameron: refugee crisis ‘complicates’ job of keeping Britain in EU. France: ‘Assad Or ISIS’ Thinking Means More Refugees. Spain resists EU pressure to take in 6,000 asylum seekers. “This is not an Italian problem,” Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini said. “Refugees are in the EU as soon as they arrive in Italy.” Greeks are taking advantage of the huge influx of Syrian refugees to get business booming in the midst of a broken economy. This Is What Greece’s Refugee Crisis Really Looks Like.

Thomas Ligotti, Miami: The Collapse of the Real

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Speaking with the dead can be so instructive. They remember what the living have forgotten, or would not know if they could. The true frailty of things.
…….-Thomas Ligotti,  Grimscribe

In Thomas Ligotti’s The Mystics of Muelenberg we’re presented as usual with a world which is askew, tipped in favor of the strange and deformed, the grotesque and macabre rather than the glittering façade of some Platonic realm of the marvelous:

If things are not what they seem—and we are forever reminded that this is the case—then it must also be observed that enough of us ignore this truth to keep the world from collapsing. Though never exact, always shifting somewhat, the proportion is crucial. For a certain number of minds are fated to depart for realms of delusion, as if in accordance with some hideous timetable, and many will never be returning to us. Even among those who remain, how difficult it can be to hold the focus sharp, to keep the picture of the world from fading, from blurring in selected zones and, on occasion, from sustaining epic deformations over the entire visible scene.1

From time to time I like to reread these demented stories of a mind that has suffered the bitter sweetness of its own forgotten wisdom. The notion that the world that most of us behold is held together by a secret group of individuals scattered across time, a forbidden sect that has been stamped with the task of binding the hellish deformations of reality and containing its force is strangely disquieting. That this dark brotherhood of the mad and insane, the eccentric and oddball are our only hope against the powers of hyperchaos, the Keepers of the Great Art, those who balance the thin red line between reality and the unreal and weave the invisible threads that ubiquitously connect us all in a timeless world of illusion is a truth that if accepted would in itself drive us all insane. So that the troubadours, jongleurs, tricksters, and mad shamans who wander the broken boundaries of existence and keep us safe, while they move in two worlds at once: split between the real and unreal, brokering the lines of flight that bind and unbind reality. They are the mad ones who defend us against the insane truth, who channel the secrets of existence in parables and allegories, while living out in their own lives and minds the inevitable corruption that would destroy the rest of us.

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Giordano Bruno: The Lucretian Revival and Epicurean Materialism

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Slowly but surely gathering pieces of a puzzle together stretching from the early rise of scientific culture and the different threads of an energetic materialism that would inform such later thinkers as Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Freud, Bataille, Deleuze, Land and others. More and more the Renaissance revival of learning and translation of ancient Greek and Roman texts would form the basis of what we would come to know as Modernity. This is all fairly well scoped out through many histories, science studies, biographies, philosophical studies of the various eras. Yet, it does seem that certain individuals became catalysts within this emergence of science. Giordano Bruno beyond Copernicus and the other usual suspects seems a part of this inner thread of influence.

Stephen Greenblatt in his study of the emergence of Lucretius into scientific culture would attest to Bruno’s importance, saying:

One answer in the sixteenth century was a diminutive Dominican monk, Giordano Bruno. In the mid-1580s, the thirty-six-year-old Bruno, who had fled from his monastery in Naples and had wandered restlessly through Italy and France, found himself in London. Brilliant, reckless, at once charmingly charismatic and insufferably argumentative, he survived by cobbling together support from patrons, teaching the art of memory, and lecturing on various aspects of what he called the Nolan philosophy, named after the small town near Naples where he was born. That philosophy had several roots, tangled together in an exuberant and often baffling mix, but one of them was Epicureanism. Indeed, there are many indications that De rerum natura had unsettled and transformed Bruno’s whole world.1

He go on to report of Bruno in England telling us that during his stay in England, Bruno wrote and published a flood of strange works. The extraordinary daring of these works may be gauged by taking in the implications of a single passage from one of them, The Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast, printed in 1584. (p. 41) This work which would be informed by hermeticism, magic, early science, religious dialogue, parody, etc. would conjure up in hallucinatory detail the hamlet where he was born, and Bruno would stage a philosophical farce, designed to show that divine providence, at least as popularly understood, is rubbish. (p. 44) This strange series of dialogues would show forth Bruno’s indebtedness to the Lucretian view. In Bruno’s view Nature is not an abstract capacity, but a generative mother, bringing forth everything that exists. We have, in other words, entered the Lucretian universe. (p. 45) As Greenblatt would say:

That universe was not for Bruno a place of melancholy disenchantment. On the contrary, he found it thrilling to realize that the world has no limits in either space or time, that the grandest things are made of the smallest, that atoms, the building blocks of all that exists, link the one and the infinite. “The world is fine as it is,” he wrote, sweeping away as if they were so many cobwebs innumerable sermons on anguish, guilt, and repentance. It was pointless to search for divinity in the bruised and battered body of the Son and pointless to dream of finding the Father in some far-off heaven. “We have the knowledge,” he wrote, “not to search for divinity removed from us if we have it near; it is within us more than we ourselves are.” And his philosophical cheerfulness extended to his everyday life. He was, a Florentine contemporary observed, “a delightful companion at the table, much given to the Epicurean life.” (p. 45)

Outspoken and obstinate, Bruno hated the bigoted and superficial culture of the church and would ultimately pay the price for his open and unwavering search for the truth. On February 17, 1600, the defrocked Dominican, his head shaved, was mounted on a donkey and led out to the stake that had been erected in the Campo dei Fiori. He had steadfastly refused to repent during the innumerable hours in which he had been harangued by teams of friars, and he refused to repent or simply to fall silent now at the end. His words are unrecorded, but they must have unnerved the authorities, since they ordered that his tongue be bridled. They meant it literally: according to one account, a pin was driven into his cheek, through his tongue, and out the other side; another pin sealed his lips, forming a cross. When a crucifix was held up to his face, he turned his head away. The fire was lit and did its work. After he was burned alive, his remaining bones were broken into pieces and his ashes— the tiny particles that would, he believed, reenter the great, joyous, eternal circulation of matter— were scattered. (pp. 48-49)

Some of the better works on Bruno available in English:


  1. Greenblatt, Stephen (2012-09-04). The Swerve: How the World Became Modern (p. 41). Norton. Kindle Edition.

Radical Enactivism: Theoretical Pluralism and Empirical Turn in Consciousness

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The first to introduce this notion of embodied consciousness were Eleanor Rosch, Evan Thompson, Francisco J. Varela in their book The Embodied Mind: Cognitive Science and Human Experience:

“By using the term embodied we mean to highlight two points: first that cognition depends upon the kinds of experience that come from having a body with various sensorimotor capacities, and second, that these individual sensorimotor capacities are themselves embedded in a more encompassing biological, psychological and cultural context.” (p. 172-173)

Their argument for an enactivist approach argues that cognition arises through a dynamic interaction between an acting organism and its environment. It claims that our environment is one which we selectively create through our capacities to interact with the world. “Organisms do not passively receive information from their environments, which they then translate into internal representations. Natural cognitive systems…participate in the generation of meaning …engaging in transformational and not merely informational interactions: they enact a world.”1

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Georges Bataille: The Excremental Vision as Solar Ecstasy

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Max Ernst: Birdhead

Waking up I associate the horror of rats with the memory of my father correcting me… this has the effect of reminding me that my father being young would have wanted to do something atrocious to me with pleasure.
………– Georges Bataille, The Dream

Parody and wit are central to Bataille’s vision of the world: “It is clear that the world is purely parodic, in other words, that each thing seen is the parody of another, or is the same thing in a deceptive form.”1 This sense that nothing is what it seems, that appearances are deceptive, that the world is – as Vladimir Nabokov once observed: “Satire is a lesson, parody is a game.” A world lost in the game of time, bound within an endless labyrinth of signs: a floating sea of inference and parodic display where vision and language are tied together in a false totality, connected and connecting word to word  in an endless stream of linguistic copulas to Ariadne’s thread moving further and further into the darkness of a receding abyss. Yet, it was against this false semblance of Idealism that Bataille would lop the head of reason in favor of an interior journey into the labyrinths of the physical body itself, down into the sacred precincts of cruelty, sex, and violence. A voyage into the Solar Anus where love and life are conjugated with “continuous circular movement,” and the “surface of the earth is the image of a continuous metamorphosis”. (Bataille, p. 7)

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Surrealism and H.P. Lovecraft

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In my readings of the underbelly of 19th and 20th Century literature of late from the decadents to the surrealists, gothic to punk I came across an interesting little history of Surrealism by Patrick Lepetit The Esoteric Secrets of Surrealism: Origins, Magic, and Secret Societies which mentions the exile period during WWII when many of the French Surrealists moved to America during that dark time. He speaks of their involvement in many various materialist rituals and practices both playful and serious within their tight knit community. Surrealists were interested in materialist and atheistic forms of the sacred and visionary, incorporating much of the darker elements of the ancient occult lore and hermetic alchemical traditions. They frowned on spiritualism and were adamant about a materialist form of ritual and practice. Officially the surrealist movement continued up to 1969. But even now many of its base notions have been incorporated by various artists and it continues to transform itself even in our era.

My interest in all of this has been to discover certain radical materialist discourses that used the various occultation material for its programs as well as experimental and heretical investigations into drugs, altered states of consciousness, arcane ritual and magical practices all based upon an atheistic challenge to monotheistic religious morality and official social norms. For Breton and his followers there was always a sense of revolutionary spirit underlying the transforming powers of consciousness and its use in art and materialist practices. History of the Surrealist Movement by French philosopher and art critic Gerard Durozoi is still the standard work of reference. But this one by Lepetit gives a nice overview of the magical elements within that history. It offers specific anecdotes, memoirs, fragments from journals, etc. Interesting.

At one point many of them came across the work of H.P. Lovecraft (himself a rationalist) and Lepetit shows how his new mythos impacted many of the surrealists of the age:

Inasmuch as we find ourselves among more or less malevolent powers, let’s add that the path of the surrealists during their American exile even crossed that of the Great Old Ones, Cthulhu, Dagon— the monstrous half-man, half-fish hybrid that makes a brief appearance in the Bible— Nyarlathotep, or Yog Sothoh, who had been awakened by the son of an Egyptian Rite Mason, Howard Phillips (H. P.) Lovecraft. Lovecraft, who was highly versed in the field of fantasy literature, as shown by his book Supernatural Horror in Literature, was the author of texts he called “Gothic horrors,” which possess elements reminiscent of Lautréamont, namely through their “horrifying reversal of the Christian thematic.”  Robert Allerton Parker was the first to devote a text to the author of “The Dunwich Horror,” with “Such Pulp as Dreams Are Made On” (which also examined the work of Lovecraft’s friend Clark Ashton Smith, whose name had already appeared in “First Papers of Surrealism” in issue 2– 3 of VVV in March 1943). Franklin Rosemont of the Chicago group and even Gérard Legrand in France were quick to follow suit; an article by Legrand, “H. P. L. and the Black Moon,” appeared in the first issue of Médium. In it Legrand writes, “Lovecraft’s grandeur resides in nothing less than the creation of a personal mythology that makes modern history look ridiculous. Scattered in pulp magazines until his death, this mythology is evidence of authentic occult knowledge treated with total freedom.” He then concludes this article, “Rarely has so much rigor been used to evoke abysses.” Robert Benayoun, in a brief item titled “Babel Revisited,” appearing in the fourth issue of Médium, sharply attacks the translator of an unnamed work by the “hermit of Providence,” but which could easily be The Color Out of Space, an ad for which appeared at the back of this same issue. Benayoun described the American’s “book . . . as spun from shadow” and saw in it “the greatest endeavor of collective panic of the half-century, the sure progression through the awareness of an anxiety drawn from the source of the ages.” He also took the trouble to praise the author’s “imperturbable, anachronistic, and solemn style.”

Legrand returned to this subject in La Brèche, n ° 8 (November 1965), adding, “Religious historians generally contain theosophists who don’t know it— those who Lovecraft criticized (not without naïveté) for their ‘blissful optimism.’” Remedios Varo, Jean-Pierre Duprey, and the future leader of the Phases group, Edouard Jaguer— contrary to Breton— also greatly esteemed the American, according to the testimony left by Jaguer personally in his book Le Surréalisme face à la littérature (Surrealism at the Hands of Literature),  as did Yves Elléouët. While deploring Lovecraft’s rudimentary style, Julien Gracq, who seems to have particularly liked “Dagon,” also felt Lovecraft was participating in the renewal of the novel by the efforts of imagination his books presume,  whereas Mandiargues reports in Le Cadran lunaire  on “the success of Lovecraft’s once scorned writings and of the audience granted to the people of his school.” Finally, Sarane Alexandrian, in his Histoire de la philosophie occulte (History of Occult Philosophy), makes this observation, whose full importance we shall see later: “A book on twentieth-century gnosis should also include the fantasy novelist H. P. Lovecraft, who was inspired by the Syriac text by Teodor bar Konaï on manicheism.” Konaï was the eighth-century author of a Liber Scholiorum, which “stands out,” Jean Doresse tells us, “by the strange nature of certain heresies it helped save from oblivion.”1


  1. Lepetit, Patrick (2014-04-24). The Esoteric Secrets of Surrealism: Origins, Magic, and Secret Societies (pp. 114-115). Inner Traditions/Bear & Company. Kindle Edition.

Nietzsche: The Credo of Ultimate Cruelty

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Finally, what still remained to be sacrificed? Was it not necessary in the end for men to sacrifice everything comforting, holy, healing, all hope, all faith in hidden harmonies, in future blessedness and justice? Was it not necessary to sacrifice God himself, and out of cruelty to themselves to worship stone, stupidity, gravity, fate, nothingness? To sacrifice God for nothingness–this paradoxical mystery of the ultimate cruelty has been reserved for the rising generation; we all know something thereof already.
……– Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil

The Occult Revival – Literature, Hermeticism, Magic and Philosophy

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In the night, in solitude, tears,
On the white shore dripping, dripping, suck’d in by the sand,
Tears, not a star shining, all dark and desolate…
………. – Walt Whitman, Sea-Drift

ISIDORE DUCASSE, who wrote the Chants de Maldoror under the pseudonym ‘Comte de Lautréamont’, considered by many the progenitor of Surrealism – a connoisseur of evil and death, a decadent with a penchant for vitriol and numbers; a flamboyant self-indulgent and excessive delight in the necrophilic and erotic affiliation of late romantic death and decadence, the bizarre, and the black comedy of revolt and disgust. Writing under the guise of a “sublime literature that sings of despair” he strove only to awaken in the dead reader a remembrance of the Good is itself a part of the gallows humor he was prone too, a devilish mixture of rage and despair brought to a high pitch of fierce and virulent nihilism: one that brokered the complete annihilation of progressive enlightenment values and politics.

I hail you, old ocean!
……– Comte de Lautréamont, Maldoror

Lautréamont’s great Hymn to the Ocean is still a strange and disquieting paean to the power of Nature over man, to his subservience; a late romantic motif and parodic satire of Romantic Nature and the Sublime. He sought to convey a counter-sublime and a religious inversion of the Romantic poets into perverse decadence, whose dark measure of sex and violence would conclude in the pages of Maldoror. Against the implacable majesty of the Ocean as Romantic Nature he offered us a beautiful and deadly Vampire Queen, a cannibal mistress of deserts and the abyss, against the fetid progeny of a landlocked hollow ape whose demented civilizations were mediocre and deliquescent at best: “The great universal family of men is a utopia worthy of the most mediocre logic”.1

Like those decadent Satanists from Baudelaire to Huysmans (convert to Catholicism) Lautréamont’s dabbling in this downward mythos would be more titillation and symbolic than real. A master of the parodic sublime he would offer a perverse entry into an aesthetic appreciation of the gothic and its dark cousin, the macabre: “Tell me, then, if you are the abode of the Prince of Darkness. Tell me… tell me, ocean (only me, so as to cause no grief to those who till now have known only illusions), tell me if it is the breath of Satan that creates the tempests which whip your salt-water cloud-high. You must tell me, for I would rejoice to know that hell is so near to man.” (KL 629-631). He would like many follow the song of opiates: “The magic poppies of an ineffable drowsiness envelop, like a veil filtering the light of day, the active power of my senses and the tenacious strength of my imagination.” (KL 1124-1125). What Lautréamont’s work sought above all was a Lucretian cosmos, an atheistic return of the pregnant cosmos of vital matter where the natural in man would once again be attuned to the immanent powers of the universe in all its monstrous glory.

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The Dark Side of Sex: Sexbots and the New Misogyny?

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“The Android, as we’ve said, is only the first hours of Love, immobilized, the hour of the ideal made eternal prisoner.”
― Villiers de L’Isle-Adam, Tomorrow’s Eve

Misogyny is as old as the Greeks. Oppression of women by male-dominated androcratic societies is still prevalent in the global civilization of our present era. Men thrive on domination and hatred, fear and fascination of their opposing sex.

Reading an article by misogynist Milo Yiannopoulos (** see Addendum below) on the latest trend in Sexbots the blatant over-the-tope misogyny comes through loud and clear: “In the short term, sexbots will be good news for dudes. For one thing, with a robot, men know the orgasm will be fake, so it removes the performance anxiety of trying to make the grade. … When you introduce a low-cost alternative to women that comes without all the nagging, insecurity and expense, frankly men are going to leap in headfirst.”

Why? Why so much fear and hatred? As Monica Sjoo and Barbara Mor define it the past four thousand years has been accomplished via the “total physical and ideological repression of the female body”.1 The next stage depends on the total physical and economic mechanization of the female body. The global assembly line turning out consumer junk and human consumers (and human-replacing robots) will be the great machine mother of the world— with the eggs, uteruses, and hormone systems of living women attached to it, one way or another, in servomechanistic functions. The current rage for female bodies trussed up in chains, discipline-frames, and even rubber-and-metal garter belts turns some people on specifically because it mechanizes female flesh. The media mechanizes female flesh by making it available directly to the brain via disembodied light technology. A good deal of contemporary pornography has to do, not with the eroticization of the flesh, but with the eroticization of the mechanization of the flesh— she wears all the metallic jewelry of torture. Increasing numbers of men in the world today are turned on solely, or primarily, by torture’s metalloid-mechanistic thrills. The triumph of the anal-sadistic-necrophilic machine equals the total mechanization of the female body: She is screwed by machine, and she reproduces mechanically. (ibid., p. 383)

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Emile Cioran: The Fall into Time

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Everything that aims at affecting man is tainted with a crude sentiment of death. And it is to seek a true, purer sentiment of this kind that the hermits took refuge in the desert, that negation of history which they rightly compared to the angels, since—they maintained—both were unaware of sin and the Fall into the realm of time. The desert, in fact, provides the image of duration translated into coexistence: a motionless flow, a metamorphosis bewitched by space. The solitary retires there less to expand his solitude and enrich his absence than to produce within himself the tonality of death.

In order to hear this tonality we must institute a desert within ourselves … If we succeed, certain harmonies flow through our blood, our veins dilate, our secrets and our resources appear upon the surface of ourselves where desire and disgust, horror and rapture mingle in obscure and luminous festivity.

I often remember how, at the end of my adolescence, enmeshed in mortuary considerations, enslaved by a single obsession, I apprenticed myself to every force that invalidated my existence. My other thoughts no longer interested me: I knew too well where they led me, upon what they converged. From the moment I had only one problem, what was the use of concerning myself with problems? Ceasing to live in terms of a self, I gave death enough rope for my own enslavement; in other words, I no longer belonged to myself. My terrors, even my name were borne by death, and by substituting itself for my own eyes, death revealed to me in all things the marks of its sovereignty. In each man I passed I discerned a cadaver, in each odor a rot, in each joy a last grimace. Everywhere I stumbled against future victims of the noose, against their imminent shadows: other men’s lives wore no mystery for The One who scrutinized them through my eyes. Was I bewitched? I preferred to think so. From now on what was I to do? The Void was my eucharist: everything within me, everything exterior to me was transubstantiated into a ghost. Irresponsible, at the antipodes of consciousness, I ended up by delivering myself to the anonymity of the elements, to the drunkenness of indivisibility, determined not to reintegrate my being nor to become again a colonist of chaos.


  1. Cioran, E. M. (2011-11-21). The Temptation to Exist Arcade Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Nietzsche: The Insanity of a Security State

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…as things now stand, with everybody believing he is obliged to know what is taking place here every day and neglecting his own work in order to be continually participating in it, the whole arrangement has become a great and ludicrous piece of insanity. The price being paid for `universal security’ is much too high: and the maddest thing is that what is being effected is the very opposite of universal security… To make society safe against thieves and fireproof and endlessly amenable to every kind of trade and traffic, and to transform the state into a kind of providence in both the good and the bad sense – these are lower, mediocre and in no way indispensable goals which ought not to be pursued by means of the highest instruments which in any way exist – instruments which ought to be saved up for the highest and rarest objectives! Our age may talk about economy but it is in fact a squanderer: it squanders the most precious thing there is, the spirit.1


  1. Friedrich Nietzsche. Daybreak: Thoughts on the Prejudices of Morality (Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy) (p. 108). Kindle Edition.

Thoughts on Kant’s Motto and Preface: Notes toward an Anti-Kantian Tradition

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Critique is surgical, it begins with a corpse: a dead body of thought, a formal exercise in dissection and forensics. Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason would even serve up the dead letter of the law, the motto of error, a foundation in utility and dignity from Francis Bacon:

Of our own person we will say nothing. But as to the subject matter with which we are concerned, we ask that men think of it not as an opinion but as a work; and consider it erected not for any sect of ours, or for our good pleasure, but as the foundation of human utility and dignity. Each individual equally, then, may reflect on it himself … for his own part … in the common interest. Further, each may well hope from our instauration that it claims nothing infinite, and nothing beyond what is mortal; for in truth it prescribes only the end of infinite errors, and this is a legitimate end.1

This was appended to the second edition. Why? Did Kant suddenly discover after the fact the coincidence in his precursor the long trail of a degradation? A foundation at once utilitarian and moral? A great renewal (instauration) of death, a slicing of time and the corpse of thought; applying a scalpel to the tribe of the dead philosophe’s, exposing in the entrails of their dead words the errors of thinking? Or did Kant after all have aspirations toward criminal intent: at heart a secret vivisectionist who harbored sadistic joys in the slow and methodical cutting away of the tissue of thoughts, a seeker after the entrails and nervous system of living ideas? Already a reason cut off from the outside world, bounded and formed in its own pure interior realm, based on errors and principles that leave it in a muddle and fantasia.

Kant sees himself as a surgeon that must slice and dice the sick body of reason and guide it back into health, deliver it from its dogmatic ways, and fend off the ancient institutions that brought it to its deathbed. Kant seems to become in his own eyes a new Parsifal of the Enlightenment. A barer of the Holy Grail of Reason, a staunch defender of the purity and purification of thought, a proto-Nazi who would deliver the template of the absolute abstraction of a final solution: Ouroboros eating the cannibal truth of past errors, refining the principals that will construct a new world from the ruins of the old one. Is this Kant’s inheritance? The moral imperative as pure evil: devoid of its ancient religious connotations, morality becomes the inversion of the theological into a perverse history of human errors? The perverse logic of Derrida written already in the quest to purify thought of its senses, its experience? Should we read Kant’s works as War Manuals? Isn’t the truth of two centuries of war written in these dark critiques?

Was Kant building a machine to stop time?

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Nick Land On Sino-Robotics

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Nick Land on Urban Future has an interesting article describing the first robotic article written in Chinese that mimics human reporting better than humans; yet, as in all things it is not exactly what you think it is. Quoting a source he tells us a robot called Dreamwriter wrote the 1000-word article, using algorithms that search online sources and data, in just 60 seconds. What’s interesting in the appended section is the simple truth that reporters in China “…are not allowed to express doubt or really investigate reports against the authorities. So robot reporters could easily replace a lot of Chinese reporters like this nationwide.”

Reading Bataille of late on Surrealism my thoughts came this way: “Surreal automatism without the insubordination – totalistic conformity and subordination with the Law. Chinese Society: the perfect Automaton.” It’s as if the Chinese leaders live in a mirror of Narcissism where all truth must mirror only the thoughts of the leaders, therefore the society lives in a box of mirrors, a fun house of lies where the future becomes a machine that is no longer afforded the luxury of short-circuits in the system; rather, the world becomes a puppet world filled with automatons who spout the Party Line – whatever that line happens to be in the minds of the Leaders. But this is not just happening in China. Look around your own backyard… we’re all conforming to the mythologies of imbecility even if we think we’re free to think for ourselves. Our lives are mediated by machines everywhere we are – and, if truth be told, we are ourselves puppets to our own outmoded linguistic automatisms.

Language is the most ubiquitous robot of all and we are its servants. Bataille once said of Hegel’s Master/Slave dialectic concerning language and freedom: “The slave triumphs, but his apparent sovereignty is nothing but the autonomous will for slavery: sovereignty must inhabit the realm of failure.” He would add: “I am sure of one thing: humanity is not composed of isolated beings but of communication between them.” It is only in a “network of communication” (oddly reminding me of Nicklas Luhmann) with others that we reveal our subjectivation:

We bathe in communication, we are reduced to this incessant communication whose absence we feel, even in the depths of solitude, like the suggestion of multiple possibilities, like the expectation of the moment when it will solve itself in a cry heard by others. In ourselves human existence is nothing but shouts, a cruel spasm, a giggling fit where agreement is born from a consciousness which is at last shared between the impenetrability of ourselves and that of others. (Literature of Evil, p. 199)

These machines like Dreamwriter may mimic communication, but they will not communicate. Instead they will mark out the folded immensity of human erasure.

I cannot consider someone free if they do not have the desire to sever the bonds of language within themselves.
…….– Bataille, On the subject of Slumbers

Nietzsche: Words are Problems rather than Knowledge

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Words lie in our way!Wherever primitive mankind setup a word, they believed they had made a discovery. How different the truth is! – they had touched on a problem, and by supposing they had solved it they had created a hindrance to its solution. – Now with every piece of knowledge one has to stumble over dead, petrified words, and one will sooner break a leg than a word.1


  1. Friedrich Nietzsche. Daybreak: Thoughts on the Prejudices of Morality (Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy) (p. 32). Kindle Edition.

Georges Bataille: Beyond the Empire of Words

surrealism

I cannot consider someone free if they do not have the desire to sever the bonds of language within themselves.
…..– Bataille, On the subject of Slumbers

Georges Bataille would affirm that the “absence of myth is also a myth: the coldest, the purest, the only true myth.”1 An enemy of surrealism as he would say “from within” he would define it conclusively:

It is genuinely virile opposition – nothing conciliatory, nothing divine – to all accepted limits, a rigorous will to insubordination. (p. 49)

He would sum up Andre Breton with a scalpel precision saying of his timbre and voice that it was “measured, pretentious, and swollen with learning” (p. 38). In fact as he’d relate what “caused me the greatest discomfort was not only the lack of rigour, but the absence of this completely insidious, joyous, and telltale cruelty towards the self, which tries not to dominate but go a long way” (p. 38).

Of Louis Aragorn …”from the first Aragon disappointed me. He was not a fool, but he was not intelligent either. … What we shared was a common feeling of misfortune at living in a world that we felt had become empty – of having, for want of profound virtues, a need for ourselves, or for a small number of friends, to assume the appearance of being what we did not have the means of being” (p. 39).

Of Antonin Artaud … “He looked like a caged bird of prey with dusty plumage which had been apprehended at the very moment it was about to take flight, and had remained fixed in this posture” (p. 43). He would quote a passage that Maurice Blanchot had kept from Artaud: “I began in literature by writing books in order to say that I could write nothing at all; it was when I had something to say or write that my thought most refused me. I never had ideas, and two very short books, each of seventy pages, turned on this profound (ingrained and endemic) absence of ideas. (p. 45)”

For Bataille the failure of surrealism was that it suspended everything in a “rigorous solitude”. It ceased to be “connected to the affirmation of a hope of breaking the solitude (p. 51).”

  1. Georges Bataille. The Absence of Myth. (Verso, 2006)

Report from a Besieged World: Refugee Crisis Devolving into Chaos

a_refugees

What I Saw

To the memory of Kazimierz Moczarski

I saw prophets tearing at their pasted-on beards
I saw imposters joining sects of flagellants
butchers disguised in sheepskin
who fled the anger of the people
playing on a block-flute

I saw I saw

I saw a man who had been tortured
he now sat safely in the family circle
cracked jokes ate soup
I looked at the opened mouth
his gums – two bramble twigs stripped of bark
I saw his whole nakedness
the whole humiliation

later
a solemn meeting
many people flowers

stifling
someone spoke incessantly about deviations

I thought of his deviated mouth
is this the last act
of the play by Anonymous
flat as a shroud
full of suppressed sobbing
and the snickering of those
who heave a sigh of relief
that again it has worked out
and after clearing away the dead props
slowly
raise

the blood-drenched curtain

……– Zbigniew Herbert from Report from a Besieged City


Reading Herbert’s poems of late I’m reminded of other times and scenarios of dark and terrible defeats which seem to be repeating themselves in our world today.  UNHCR warns that time is running out for Europe to resolve refugee emergency. Watching on as Croatia who only yesterday welcomed the refugees has announced closure of its borders:

We cannot register and accommodate these people any longer,” Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic told a news conference in the capital Zagreb.

“They will get food, water and medical help, and then they can move on. The European Union must know that Croatia will not become a migrant ‘hotspot’. We have hearts, but we also have heads.”

Migrants and asylum seekers are being held in abysmal conditions in the two Roszke migrant detention centers on the Serbian border, Human Rights Watch said today after obtaining footage from inside the camp and interviewing persons currently and formerly detained there. Hungarian police intercept asylum seekers and migrants entering via Serbia and detain them for days for registration and processing in conditions that fall short of Hungary’s international obligations

The European Union’s migration chief rebuked Hungary on Thursday for its tough handling of a flood of refugees as asylum seekers thwarted by a new Hungarian border fence and repelled by riot police poured into Croatia, spreading the strain.

This is no longer a blame game, and yes I can understand the overwhelming difficulties for the common people both of the countries involved and the refugees themselves but it appears things are devolving into chaos. Europe is leaderless and cowardly, unable to come together and resolve this crisis. So instead its falling into chaotic devolutionary limbo that can only mean trouble for all involved. This is absolutely stupid. I don’t blame the individual countries and their citizens, but I do blame the EU leadership that seems to be playing out its idiocy like the imbeciles they are. The tough measures being proposed in Germany can only be followed by other countries, who have already followed this Right Wing agenda of command and control exclusion and siege mentality. Smaller countries like Croatia are overwhelmed due to German leadership stupidity and moronic advertising of welcomes that are no longer there. Whether the refugees should have come or not is a mute point now, their there. So the EU as a whole either needs to come up with a humanitarian plan as an economic entity or  Western Civilization is truly at an End.

In an impassioned appeal at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, Jean-Claude Juncker told European lawmakers that it was “high time to act.”

“The refugee crisis will not simply go away,” he added, noting that some 500,000 refugees have entered Europe this year, many from conflict-torn Syria and Libya.

“We are fighting against Islamic State. Why are we not ready to accept those who are fleeing Islamic State?” he said.

Noting that many Europeans were refugees at one time or another, Juncker continued, “It is high time to act, to manage the refugee crisis, because there is no alternative. No rhetoric — action is what is needed for the time.”

Germany has proposed a law requiring passports and papers, etc. As if people were able to get such things from a war torn country? As if “Oh, by the way, we didn’t mean just come: make sure you have your papers in order are we’ll be throwing you out again!” So people who might have left Syria without papers due to whatever insane circumstances will now be left in limbo to suffer whatever miserable fate comes their way? Send them back to the south entry points of already overwhelmed countries like Greece – who are already bankrupt and plowed under by the bankers of Germany?:

The proposed German law would provide food and a ticket to return to the first European Union country the asylum seeker entered, instead of housing and cash benefits. That could mean far fewer people would win protection in Germany or elsewhere in Europe, since countries such as Hungary are generally declining to award refugee status. In addition, asylum seekers deemed to be withholding vital information — such as their passports or proof of their country of origin — would be denied benefits. Asylum seekers also would need to remain in crowded reception centers for six months, rather than three, before earning the right to subsidized housing. Those who failed to comply with orders to leave Germany could be subject to forced removal without advance notice. It was unclear whether the proposed German law, which must be approved by Parliament before it can take effect, would continue to make exceptions for Syrians fleeing civil war.

“This draft counteracts the new German welcome culture,” said Karl Kopp, spokesman for the pro-refugee organization ProAsyl. “It contains a toughness and populism that is not acceptable.”

As German Interior Minister Thomas de Mazière spent the better part of an hour patiently answering questions from high school and college students. Most of them were about development and asylum policy, with the students voicing extreme criticism of the policy whereby economic refugees are treated differently from those trying to escape political persecution. Finally, de Mazière had had enough. “Now I want to say something,” he said, leaning forward in his leather chair and staring directly at one of the students. “We’re sitting high and dry here, but try going to an area like Rosenheim (near Munich), where … a gymnasium has to be requisitioned (as temporary housing). Try talking about refugee policies with the parents of school children there.” The specter is one that has faced many German communities in recent months as the country has dealt with a fast-soaring influx of refugees.

As one academic admitted Where, then, does this leave us? A mix of realpolitik and vision is needed. The broader international community has to accept that simply resettling the majority population of entire countries within the EU is not a viable strategy. Temporary refuge, however, ought to be granted on the largest scale possible. Should its member-states fail to do so, the EU will expire in moral and political bankruptcy, at which point it won’t matter much whether its leaders manage to paper over the union’s seemingly endless fiscal crises.

I don’t see the EU doing much when its emergency session on the 14th was a muddled reaction at best with no clear cut proposals. What’s happening in the EU reminds me of my own country’s dismal ability to deal with our own relations with migrants and refugees from Central America and Mexico which are for the most part run by the vast underworld Drug Cartels.

Our leaders in Washington are in the bed with Corporate cronyism and sit on the fence doing nothing to actually resolve our own issues much less do anything to help in the Middle-East. And too boot most of this current crisis is a direct result from Washington failed policy, which probably was started by our own stupidity and oil mongering elite along with their buddies in Washington as slaves to corporate money. America’s empire of stupidity seems silent while they watch on in Washington while the EU sinks into torpor and chaos. As the world turns…

What I feel for is the common people both in the countries and the refugees themselves who are caught in the middle of this mess. The regular people didn’t ask for this, yet their leaderless nations seem to be unable to do anything to affect change or even agree on what to do and instead seem to be playing out blame games with each other rather than acting…. what’s sad is that if history serves as a sounding board this will only turn ugly in the coming days…. inaction breeds reactionary forces and a dark passionate embrace of terror… is this the future of humanity?

The Excess of Matter: Bataille, Immanence, and Death

abraxas

But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovered country, from whose bourn
No traveler returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have,
Than fly to others we know not of.
– from Hamlet, Shakespeare

How do we face the inevitable? Death, the “undiscovered country” of which Shakespeare’s Hamlet speaks? As a poet of the will Shakespeare’s naturalism aligns well with that Epicurean Titus Lucretius Carus. Shakespeare whose “erotics of being” would ensconce what R. Allen Shoaf in Lucretius and Shakespeare on the Nature of Things would term the naturalism of “great creating nature,” (The Winter’s Tale). For Shakespeare death was not of essence since the fecundity of Nature is endless. Death is but a fragmentary entombing, a little sleep and silence. What matters is the mattering of productive and energetic nature from womb to tomb and back again. The eternal round and return from beginnings to endings, cycles upon cycles a sounding out of the depths of time as time’s return through its own mattering formlessness; a continuous play of life in the shadows of oblivion.

Lucretius would tell us in his stark and poetic response that “death is nothing to us“: “Nil igitur mors est ad nos. . .”. We should not fear it, it is the natural in us fulfilling its destiny; nothing more. There is no unique meaning, no need for constructing fabulous paradises or hells to plunge ourselves beyond the truth of animal death. Death is non-meaning: meaningless in itself, a final terminus of life lived out in a natural universe. Then why do people fear and dread death?

Continue reading

A Philosopher’s Life: Deleuze at Lyon

Gilles-Deleuze

While he was in Lyon, Deleuze developed another important theme from his work on Nietzsche: the eternal return as the return of difference, implying a valorized affirmation and a critique of the logic of resentment and negativity. “That’s the heart of what he transmitted to us in Lyon and which took a somewhat different shape later.” His students in Lyon were dazzled at how scrupulous he was about remaining close to the texts he was reading and how profoundly he examined their particular logic. Deleuze kept apart from most of his colleagues in Lyon, but he attracted the very largest student audiences for his classes. He lectured to two hundred students, and when he spoke, “he was so charismatic that you could hear the flies buzzing.” Even then, many students from other disciplines were coming to his classes and, as was his habit, he gave the impression of improvising. In fact, he had prepared so carefully that he never had to refer to his notes during his classes. “We were all holding our breath because he was such a great storyteller. He was both very intimate and very distant, very much the dandy. He never played favorites and he never changed his bearing.”1


  1. Dosse, Francois (2010-06-22). Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari: Intersecting Lives (European Perspectives: A Series in Social Thought and Cultural Criticism) (p. 137). Columbia University Press. Kindle Edition.

The Refugee Crisis: The Dark Grotesquerie of Parallax Media

Hungarian policemen stand by the family of migrants as they wanted to run away at the railway station in the town of Bicske, Hungary, September 3, 2015. A camp for refugees and asylum seekers is located in Bicske. REUTERS/Laszlo Balogh - RTX1QVYM

We live in curious times and astonishing contrasts, reason on the one hand, the most absurd fanaticism on the other … a civil war in every soul.
………. – Voltaire

In Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection (1982), Julia Kristeva describes the process of abjection as a form of expulsion and rejection of the Other. Neither subject nor object, the abject, or the state of abjection, is articulated in, and through, grotesque language and imagery. The process of abjection is, then, associated with deformed bodies and oozing bodily fluids: blood, pus, bile, faeces, sweat and vomit break down the borders separating the inside from outside, the contained from the released. Abjection is a state of flux, where ‘meaning collapses’, and the body is open and irregular, sprouting or protruding internal and external forms to link abjection to grotesquerie (ibid.: 2).1

The body of Europe is porous and the boundaries between the inside and outside have collapsed, the ideological, cultural, and political realms have formed new and unstable zones of containment to expulse and contain the Other in their midst.  The refugees have become pawns in a deadly game of ideological and virtual/actual terror. The forces of the Left and Right use these human casualties of war to further their own grotesqueries. The Refugee has become the political “other” who is trapped in the blame game between a populist message that enforces messages of salvation or  hate and expulsion into the mix.

Inept leaders and psychopathic bureaucrats with cold reptilian gazes ponder the chaos and seek gated curtains to hide behind while their minions put up barbed wire fences, use tear gas and water cannons to repel the others they fear and stave off the grotesque horde of barbarian invaders in their midst just like their ancestors did before them. Reports of police brutality, tear-gas, water cannons, and barbed wire among other measures ensure a world of real terror not for the nations involved but for the refugees who thought they’d succor a safe and democratic haven from the civil strife of their dark imploding homelands.

The Leader of Syria now blames the West. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is blaming Western nations for fueling the refugee crisis by supporting opposition groups in his country’s bloody civil war. “If you are worried about them, stop supporting terrorists,” he said in an interview with Russian news organizations. “That’s what we think regarding the crisis. This is the core of the whole issue of refugees.” The stupidity of this statement belies the fact that Assad used chemical weapons to wipe out thousands of his own citizens. So now he wants to blame the West. His communist friend, Putin, gave him this message. Assad isn’t intelligent enough to ponder global politics.

The interior ministers of France, the UK, and Germany, stressed the need to set up “hot spots” in Greece and Italy by the year’s end to ensure refugees are fingerprinted and registered, allowing authorities to quickly identify those in need of protection. Let the Gulags enter a new age. Darkness returns and the human animal falls into old patterns of fear and hatred. Yet, its not all the EU’s fault. The refugee and earlier immigrants are demanding religious changes to the secular worlds they find themselves inside. This in itself has become an opening for the fascist New Right and other organizations to roused the masses with populist rhetoric and bring back a realm of hate and fear we’ve not seen since the early 20th Century.

DW provides current updates of refugee crisis. For now EU is stalemated and decaying into chaos. EU interior ministers have failed to reach a unanimous agreement to relocate 120,000 refugees across the bloc’s 28 nations and take the strain off Greece, Italy, and Hungary. Police in Hungary’s Roszke border crossing have fired tear gas and water cannons to scatter asylum seekers wanting to cross over from Serbia. Budapest has closed down its borders to keep new arrivals out.

As Hungary, Austria, Germany close their borders refugees are now heading toward Croatia where mine-fields that were left unattended from previous wars still exist. An official at the Croatian Demining Centre told Reuters that police asked the organisation to supply a team to the border area in eastern Croatia. Thousands of landmines are left over from Croatia’s independence war that followed the collapse of federal Yugoslavia in the early 1990s and have killed more than 500 people over the past 20 years, according to IRIN News.

The forces of repression and reaction are coming to the fore as this crisis thickens. A world of hate, bigotry and fascist martialing seem inevitable in the madness of the moment. As rationality and the rule of law recedes the force of mysticism and fear, religion and political neoreactionaries everywhere are hell bent of bringing about total collapse of democracy. The folly of nations is a tissue of stupidity, inaction, and leaderless contamination and cowardice in the face of the inevitable truth of modern human institutions to surmount their own global terror. For that is the truth the West has itself brought on its dark and Hegelian night of the world, a world where reason falls into the grotesque and macabre and the demons of the underbelly of neo-reaction rises out of its ancient regime of death and chaos. In a world where leaders fail to act the voice and gambol of populism comes to the fore and topples the inanity of law. What we are seeing the failure of nerve of the EU to act, to do anything substantively to change things in the world. It will pay the price.

The people of Europe already beleaguered and bankrupt see this influx of refugees as a menace to their own survival. The populist right and demagogues who have probably been biding their time for such a moment, an opportunity to insert their reactionary message of violence and racism will now come to the fore. Dark times ahead. One ponders the Terror after the French Revolution.

After the French Revolution a new popular genre of the grotesque and macabre rose out of the auto-da-fé of political purges of the old regime. Dark visions where disgust mixes with laughter and humans begin to merge with the landscape as mutating into animalistic forms and alien monstrosities. The OED tells us, ‘the grotesque is incongruous or inappropriate to a shocking degree’; or, it can consist of ‘comically distorted figures, creatures or images’. The distortions of class in the fluid movements between master and slave offer elements of comic grotesquerie alongside themes that are deadly serious.1

In Hegel’s notion of the master/slave dialectic there was a unique and singular reciprocity or mutual dependence between master and slave rather than a blanket opposition of dominance to subordination. The slave ironically shares in the master’s power because the master defines himself only in opposition to the slave; that is, the master needs the slave in order to legitimate his power and privilege. Franz Fanon would alter this insight of Hegel’s and see it in other terms, in the terms of racial tensions. In Black Skin White Masks (1967), Fanon revises the dialectic to suggest that it underestimates the white master’s dominance over black slaves in Africa and Europe:

I hope I have shown that here the master differs basically from the master described by Hegel. For Hegel there is reciprocity; here the master laughs at the consciousness of the slave. What he wants from the slave is not recognition but work. (220)

As we gaze into the hypermedia circus we understand how much of this grotesquerie of the Real is producing a dark vision of horror, gothic mutation, and a world spinning out of the webs of deceit where the only benefit of the Master is “work” not recognition. In the case of Germany the spigot in the flows of refugees has suddenly stopped. No work here the sign reads. And like a series of Flemish paintings from another era the human factor receded while the monstrous images of the grotesque and macabre enactments rise to take their place. Yet, we see the common people of Germany fearing not only the influx of refugees, but their demands for change, too.

One can only assume that some of these fears come from such religious intolerance as what is happening in Munich. The Muslim community in Munich wants Germans to ban its own Oktoberfest. “We understand that the Oktoberfest is a yearly German tradition, but we, Muslims, can not tolerate this Un-Islamic event, because it offends us and all Muslims on the earth. We are requesting the immediate cancellation of the upcoming Oktoberfest event.” Problem with this is that not everyone is Muslim, and the Germans are still a democracy not a theocracy so the notion that a minority religion should control political and cultural do’s and dont’s – the norms and relations of a majority of the population goes against the grain of two hundred years of democratic rule. It’s one thing to practice your faith, quite another to impose it on others who do not share your faith.

Slavoj Zizek once spoke of the “thing from the inner space” emerging out of the periphery. All the ingredients of a fantasy-staging staging are here – the noumenal “shines through” in what is “in fact” just an optical illusion. That is to say: far from being a simple descendant of the Kantian Thing-in-itself, the Freudian “Thing from the Inner Space” is its inherent opposite: what appears to be the excess of some transcendent force over “normal” external reality is the very place of the direct inscription of my subjectivity into this reality. In other words, what I get back in the guise of the horrifying – irrepresentable Thing is the objectivization, the objectal correlate, of my own gaze… (Parallax View)

Is the fantasy gaze of hypermedia itself promoting a grand distortion, a global narrative of ideological Left and Right programs of ideological infestations?  Political battles of subterfuge and outrage that are both contaminating and prompting the dark and sinister outcomes we are seeing? Watching the global news screams, the facebook vines, and twitter apocalypse of information and disinformation one wonders truly what is reality and what is myth without the truth. Underneath it all is a failure of real imagination and investment in the actual and physical pain and suffering going on beyond the images of the mediascape. People are dying and no seems to give a shit. Here and there you hear a few stories of actual people in the nations going against their governments and seeking ways to help, but as in anything people singularly and on their own lack the resources to do much and become themselves entangled and embroiled in events they soon discover is overwhelming. While the rich and powerful balk at doing anything the citizens of these various nations seem to be falling back on the oldest systems of belief and horror available. Where reason fails passion and the emotive worlds of fear, disgust, anger, and violence come to the fore…

As Vox reports the meaning of the phrase “refugee crisis” can be hard to grasp — until you see the photographs. A Syrian toddler, dead on a Turkish beach, after the boat in which his family was attempting to flee to Europe capsized at sea. Desperate families crowding a Hungarian train station, their children sleeping on floors and sidewalks, fearing Hungary will intern them in sinister-sounding “camps.” Greek tourism towns filling with tents and with humanitarian workers, to accommodate the rickety boats of refugees that arrive daily at the shores.

wwz-wall

It’s as if the nations of the EU were enacting the film World War Z as conservative press and the various police states in the EU now turn against the refugees as if they were hordes of mutated and mindless zombies invading the civilized enclaves of a dying empire. Conservative and Radical mediascapes are all full of the tragic and grotesque portrayal and images of this fall into human degradation and contamination. Are we enacting a filming of the hypercollapse of civilization? Is the flux of shifting bodies, flesh, and blood wandering the edge of humanity our own gaze into a past we’d rather not remember? Are we about to enter that dark realm of gothic relations from which all horror springs?

There is one scene in WW Z where a farmer is coerced into complying with the national emergency, and becoming a part of the securitization system: “As with everyone else, I gave him the choice. I reminded him that winter was coming and there were still a lot of very hungry people out there. I warned him that when the hordes of starving refugees showed up to finish what the living dead started, he’d have no government protection whatsoever.”2 Listening to one Greek report: “The conundrum facing the refugees is they have nowhere to go and nobody wants them. As they sit in queues in sweltering conditions, tension rises and violence breaks out as has been evidenced on the Greek island of Kos. This in turn creates anger and frustration among both the Greek authorities and the people watching the drama unfold. The violence becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and sows anger and ill intent among the local populace.”

The inaction of the EU and U.S.A. to do anything at all will more than likely lead to a reactionary disruption and fatal strategy of enormous proportions over the next year or years. Out of the leaderless vacuum strange voices are being heard on the peripheries of a once sane and reasonable world, new populist voices of reaction and neoreaction; dark hinterlands into former fascisms and communisms; voices of religious and social reaction spouting hate, bigotry, and fear. More and more as we see the ineptitude and leaderless forces of the world deny, dismiss, and even challenge the status quo with their inaction a shift in the active agents of refugees and citizens alike will begin to chaotically rise among the ashes of these dark times and bring with them a grotesque and macabre repetition of ancient and terrible religious, political, and cultural fanaticisms that mark our histories of our earth with pain and suffering beyond toll.

How many times do people need to repeat the old Marxian cliché of history repeating itself “first as tragedy, then as farce”? Problem is the farce is turning to death as the Grotesque brutality of nations parades itself in a Danse Macabre at the end of time, historical time. While the beleaguered children of men cry in the shadows, the machines are rising around us in the cold brutal world of indifference gazing out of the landlocked faces of bureaucrats who speak of rules and regulations while the world burns… the insanity of the Enlightenment has come home to roost and bray in the ruins of capitalism where the dark lords of finance and their minions live and squander what remains of human dignity.

a short history of global ineptitude

The ICRtoP provides a detailed analysis of this sordid history from its beginning. The crisis in Syria was prompted by protests in mid-March 2011 calling for the release of political prisoners. National security forces responded to widespread, initially peaceful demonstrations with brutal violence. From summer 2011 onwards, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad refused to halt attacks and implement the meaningful reforms demanded by protestors. As the crisis continued to escalate, opponents of the Assad regime began to loosely organize, creating several opposition organizations such as the Syrian National Council (SNC), an umbrella organization of exiled Syrians, and the Free Syrian Army (FSA), a militarized element largely composed of Syrian military defectors and armed rebels.

Then the International Commission of Inquiry in September 2011 to investigate the alleged human rights violations. The Commission has since produced seven reports and concluded that the Syrian government and Shabiha committed crimes against humanity and war crimes, as well as that anti-government groups have been responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity. 

The world looks on but does nothing. As early as 27 April 2011, then UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, B. Lynn Pascoe, informed the UN Security Council that sources in Syria had reported “the use of artillery fire against unarmed civilians; door-to-door arrest campaigns; the shooting of medical personnel who attempt to aid the wounded; raids against hospitals, clinics and mosques and the purposeful destruction of medical supplies and arrest of medical personnel”. The Syrian government also allegedly denied access to international monitors, humanitarian groups and human rights organizations while simultaneously shutting off local social media communications. Based on interviews, the Commission of Inquiry on Syria presented its initial findings to the Council in Geneva on 28 November 2011, reporting evidence that crimes against humanity had been committed by military and security forces including: sexual violence, torture, arbitrary detention and murder. 

The crisis brewed on, chemical atrocities escalated, world governments did nothing. Under UNSC Resolution 2118, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) was tasked with implementing a program of destroying chemical weapons sites inside Syria and transporting materials to be shipped abroad for destruction. Despite the deal on chemical weapons, the regime has escalated its conventional weapon offensives, and Human Rights Watch has reported the use of indiscriminate weapons such as barrel bombs and other cluster munitions. The Syrian government has reportedly dropped between 5000 and 6000 barrel bombs since the crisis began, killing 20,000 people, 1,600 of which died in Aleppo in March 2014 alone. Amnesty International has also reported that starvation is being used as a deliberate tactic of war by the regime.

Then the world looked on again as the common people of Syria fled for their lives. As of March 2014, Syria has topped the list of forcibly displaced people. The UNHCR now reports that 9 million Syrians are displaced, amounting to half the population. This included 6.5 million uprooted from their homes within Syria and another 2.5 million who have fled to neighboring countries. The refugee crisis has taken its toll on bordering countries. According to the UNHCR, as of January 2015, almost 1,623,000 people have sought refuge in Turkey, over 622,000 in Jordan,133,000 in Egypt, 235,000 in Iraq and almost 1,168,000 in Lebanon.  The primary reasons for fleeing appear to be atrocities committed against civilians, reported  the International Rescue Committee in January 2013, with journeys to safety made more treacherous by winter conditions. On 24 May 2013, Foreign Affairs noted that refugee populations faced dire conditions in the refugee camps.

Again the world does nothing:

The League of Arab States (LAS) initially stressed that it would not take unilateral action in response to the crisis.

The European Union (EU) imposed economic sanctions, including an arms embargovisa ban and asset freeze, against the Syrian regime in May 2011, and has heightened the sanctions periodically since then.

The Special Advisers of the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide and on the Responsibility to Protect voiced their concern over the Syrian government’s systematic widespread attacks targeting civilians and reminded the government of its responsibility to protect its population in a series of public statements.

As discussed above, the Human Rights Council and Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights were seized of the crisis early on and in August 2011 mandated an independent Commission of Inquiry to investigate human rights violations in Syria.

In July of 2014, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 2165, which not only re-iterated the need for ceasefire in heavily populated areas, but also affirmed that the Syrian government has the primary responsibility to protect the Syrian population.

The General Assembly adopted several resolutions calling for all parties to support efforts to peacefully resolve the crisis.

Russia and China attracted significant criticism from Arab and Western leaders for their economic, political and military ties to Syria, and because they vetoed three UN Security Council resolutions which had included language citing the responsibility of the Assad government.

Turkey’s border with Syria has seen skirmishes and shelling since July 2012, and in October, five Turkish civilians were killed by Syrian mortar fire, which Turkey responded to with proportional arms. 

Though Lebanon has long had an official policy of disassociation in the Syrian conflict, the influx of refugees and increased cross-border fire from Syria has threatened to embroil the country in its neighbor’s crisis.

As the conflict wears on, without distinctive action from international organizations, several national actors have also increased their support to the Syrian opposition politically, economically and militarily.

World ineptitude, leaderless stupidity, and inaction is the state of the day in global politics. All leads to this new world of refugees where the EU who would do nothing then must now be forced to act:

Austria’s interior minister, Johanna Mikl-Leitner, says the country will start selective controls on its border with Slovenia within the next few hours. She told the Austria Press Agency that anyone wishing to apply for asylum still could do so but at the same time, she said Austria was looking to send “a clear signal” that the country cannot handle an uncontrolled mass arrival of refugees.

Hungarian riot police have used teargas, water cannon and pepper spray against refugees at the border with Serbia. Refugees threw missiles during the clashes, which appeared to start after people forced open a border gate.

Slovenia announced that it was temporary introducing controls at its borders with Hungary. It follows in the footsteps of Austria which did so last night. more…

coda

As Clemens Wergin explicates Germany, which is absorbing by far the largest number of refugees, is reaping the results of its own reluctance to engage abroad and its failure, as the leading country in the European Union, to galvanize fellow member states against the mass atrocities of Syria’s dictator, Bashar al-Assad — crimes that fueled the refugee crisis and helped the rise of the Islamic State.

In recent years two successive German foreign ministers have warned against engagement in Syria and against arming moderate parts of the opposition. The results were predictable: While Mr. Assad has been propped up by Russia, Iran and Hezbollah, and while the Islamic State has seen radical Islamists from Europe and elsewhere rallying to its flag, the moderate forces, which should have been natural allies of the West, have been crushed.

Berlin has repeatedly argued that Western intervention of any kind would just make the situation worse. But Germany and the United States failed to understand that not acting was itself a form of action, and that it has led directly to the battlefield escalation and refugee outflows that the West tried to avoid. more…

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  1. Edwards, Justin; Graulund, Rune (2013-05-29). Grotesque (The New Critical Idiom) (p. 33). Taylor and Francis. Kindle Edition.
  2. Edwards, Justin; Graulund, Rune (2013-05-29). Grotesque (The New Critical Idiom) (p. 2). Taylor and Francis. Kindle Edition.
  3. Brooks, Max (2006-09-12). World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War (p. 140). Crown/Archetype. Kindle Edition.

Philip K. Dick: It’s Alive! – It came here from the future.

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I am tormented with an everlasting itch for things remote. I love to sail forbidden seas, and land on barbarous coasts. Not ignoring what is good, I am quick to perceive a horror…
……– Herman Melville,  Moby-Dick

Fabricius Veiento was discoursing very wisely to us just now on the follies of superstition, exposing the various forms of priestly charlatanry, the holy men’s mania for prophecy, and the effrontery they display in expounding mysteries they very often utterly fail to comprehend themselves. Is it not much the same type of madness that afflicts our declaimers…
…… – The Satyricon by Petronius

“In Ubik the forward moving force of time (or time-force expressed as an ergic field) has ceased. All changes result from that. Forms regress. The substrate is revealed. Cooling (entropy) is allowed to set in unimpeded. Equilibrium is affected by the vanishing of the forward-moving time force-field. The bare bones, so to speak, of the world, our world, are revealed.”1 says Philip K. Dick in his great behemoth of revelation, myth, science, and strangeness The Exegesis.

He would go on to ask: If time stops, what takes place? Not frozen-ness, but revelation. Some might see his mad world as unhinged, fragmented, deeply imploding into the dark gnosis of a twisted mythopoeic series of footnotes to the apocalypse. But they are wrong. Dick was actually quite sane by our standards. We are the ones trapped in a limited set of concepts, metaphors, tropes not P.K. Dick. Dick had already broken out of the prison house of language, left the tribe of academic jargon behind for the great frontiers of the imaginal, the imagination of humanity. He was unafraid of tapping into the ancient flows of religion, magic, occult – all the hidden and arcane wisdoms out of the subterranean realms of our literary, philosophical, and religious  inheritance and legacies.

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Carnival of Violence: The Politics of Rage and Despair

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Mikhail Bakhtin once aligned the carnivalesque of literature and ancient feudal festivals as subverting as it liberates us from the assumptions of the dominant style or atmosphere through humor and chaos. He would categorize it into four categories: 1. Familiar and free interaction between people: carnival often brought the unlikely of people together and encouraged the interaction and free expression of themselves in unity. 2. Eccentric behaviour: unacceptable behaviour is welcomed and accepted in carnival, and one’s natural behaviour can be revealed without the consequences. 3.Carnivalistic misalliances: familiar and free format of carnival allows everything that may normally be separated to reunite- Heaven and Hell, the young and the old, etc. 4. Sacrilegious: Bakhtin believed that carnival allowed for Sacrilegious events to occur without the need for punishment. Bakhtin believed that these kinds of categories are creative theatrical expressions of manifested life experiences in the form of sensual ritualistic performances.

Yet, what happens in a world that turns this same principle into its daemonic parody? When the humor and comedy turn cannibal and violent? When whole societies begin to enter a period of torment and terror? And the world theatre becomes a site of horror shaped by fear and propaganda? I’ve dealt with notions of cannibalistic metrophagy before. We populate the natural world with our fears of apocalypse, climatic catastrophes, sudden storms and tornados, great tsunamis, fitful super-volcanos, a cataclysmic myth of final destruction built up by the capitalist mythologies to keep us surrounded by their protective technologies of security. As the current world wide refugee crisis spreads panic, horror, and threat in its wake we are seeing the Left and Right churning out their hyperstitional scenarios envisioning war and peace on a global scale. The actual humans (Refugees) are caught in the middle of their own failed States, and seeking to escape one life are running into hells in other countries they once thought represented freedom, opportunity, and democracy. The Great Lie sinks in and they realize they made a hellish mistake. Like all the Hollywood Zombie films of the past twenty years we are seeing a festival of tears and blood in our midst. It’s like stepping into a postmodern hyperfilm where Baudrillard, Virilio, Deleuze, David Lynch, Pasolini, and a multitude of others have foreseen the terrors to come, forcasted the inevitable nightmares we are now living in as the actors on a stage of violence and apocalypse that we ourselves have invented.

I once said we are moving into a time of riddance, a time of purging, a new Age of the Vomitorium – a new amphitheatre of the socius: a site providing rapid egress for our zombie-flesh consumers in their binge-and-purge cycles as they cannibalize the last vestiges of civilized life. I added Deleuze & Guattari in their saying,

It should not be thought that a semiotic of this kind [Cannibalism] functions by ignorance, repression, or foreclosure of the signifier. On the contrary, it is animated by a keen presentiment of what is to come. It does not need to understand it to fight against it. It is wholly destined by its very segmentarity and polyvocality to avert the already-present threat: universalizing abstraction, erection of the signifier, circularity of statements, and their correlates, the State apparatus, the instatement of the despot, the priestly caste, the scape-goat, etc. Every time they eat a dead man, they can say: one more the State won’t get. (p. 118, A Thousand Plateaus)

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JFK: The National Security State and the Death of a President

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Even great spirits have only their five fingers breadth of experience – just beyond it their thinking ceases and their endless empty space and stupidity begins.
……..– Friedrich Nietzsche, Daybreak

The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance…
……..– H.P. Lovecraft

Like many of my generation the death of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States was the first in many strange events that would spark the great paranoia against the American Establishment that is with us still. As a kid I was watching that fatal Friday Nov 22, 1963 television with my little sister when the news flashed across the screen. Of course at the time I was only eleven years of age so was perplexed about what was actually going on. I remember my mom telling me to take my sister and go play in the backyard. We did. Only later on would I understand what it was all about when my parents sat us down that evening at meal and tried to explain who the President is, what our government is about, and how bad people in the world do bad things.

Now that I’m older of course I look back like many others with questions. Reading about the death of JFK is like reading the Thousand and One Nights of Scheherazade, its like a tale within a tale within a tale with no rhyme or reason, yet one that seems to fascinate us with both official and conspiracy debates in endless reflective scenarios that never give us what we’re seeking: the actual truth of what happened that fatal day. Information, disinformation, the drift of 26 volume official history in the Warren Report, the flotsam and jetsam legitimate and conspiratorial film, novels, histories, essays, speculation…. a world gone awry, helter-skelter, topsy-turvy, tohu-bohu… chaotic and complex to the point that one wonders if history is creating us instead of it providing us a world of facts. Nietzsche would tell us “there are no facts, only interpretations.” Endless sea of interpretations that seem more like a palimpsest of fictions rather than truth. Who to believe? What to believe? Is the “truth” – as the X-Files once playfully surmised, “out there”?

This week I began reading Douglas Horne’s book JFK’s War with the National Security Establishment: Why Kennedy Was Assassinated. Horne served on the staff of the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB) from August of 1995 through September of 1998, during the final three years of its limited four-year lifespan — and was promoted from a Senior Analyst position on the Military Records Team, to that of “Chief Analyst for Military Records,” halfway through my tenure at the ARRB. The ARRB was an independent federal agency created by the JFK Records Act of 1992; our mission was to locate any and all records that could “reasonably” be considered related to the assassination of the 35th President, and to ensure their declassification (to the maximum extent possible, as defined within our Congressional mandate), followed by their release and subsequent placement within a special open collection (the “JFK Records Collection”) at the National Archives.1

He tells us it was the ARRB’s job to define what constituted an assassination record; to do all we could to ensure that agencies conducted full and honest searches for assassination records; and to review those records which agencies did NOT want released in full. At the end of the ARRB’s lifespan, we had reviewed about 60,000 records that government agencies wanted partially or fully redacted. Our five VIP Board Members, who served part time, voted on the disposition of these 60,000 records that were under dispute, after first receiving and considering the staff’s recommendations; and their votes essentially determined which portions of those disputed records would see the light of day. (KL 59-63)

He’ll also emphasize that during his three years on the staff of the ARRB, and while subsequently researching the manuscript for his five-volume book, Inside the Assassination Records Review Board, he became increasingly aware of the broad levels of conflict between President Kennedy and his own national security establishment — those officials within the State Department, the Pentagon, the National Security Council (NSC), and the CIA who helped him to formulate and carry out the nation’s foreign and military policy around the world. (KL 72-75)

In this current book he tells us that he will demonstrate that, by the end of 1962, the national security establishment in Washington D.C., which had quickly come to know JFK as a skeptic during 1961, had come to view him as a heretic; and by November of 1963, the month he was assassinated, they no doubt considered him an apostate, for he no longer supported most of the so-called “orthodox” views of the Cold War priesthood. Increasingly alone in his foreign policy judgments as 1963 progressed, JFK was nevertheless proceeding boldly to end our “Holy War” against Communism, instead of trying to win it. In retrospect it is clear that the national security establishment wanted to win our own particular “jihad” of the post-WW II era by turning the Cold War against the USSR into a “hot war,” so that we could inflict punishing and fatal blows upon our Communist adversaries (and any other forces we equated with them) on the battlefield. It was this desire for “hot war” by so many within the establishment — their belief that conventional “proxy wars” with the Soviet Bloc were an urgent necessity, and that nuclear war with the USSR was probably inevitable — to which President Kennedy was so adamantly opposed. And it was JFK’s profound determination to avoid nuclear war by miscalculation, and to eschew combat with conventional arms unless it was truly necessary, that separated him from almost everyone else in his administration from 1961 throughout 1963, as events have shown us. (KL 88-99)

So was JFK killed by the Secret Establishment as many once feared? Was his battle against the Cold War Warriors of the CIA and the Military-Industrial Complex his downfall? Did the elite power brokers of this secret world hire Mafia hit-men to take out JFK? Will we ever know? Is it all a tissue of surmise and lies, false trails, facts leading nowhere but into the labyrinth of discourse where nothing is connectable to reality anymore: a postmodern shibboleth of pipe dream conspiracy and mad, fringe truthers looking for a way to bring down the American Establishment? Chaos theory? Dark riders on the hidden frontiers of the illuminati bankers, a sort of science fiction for the pop-cultural banglanders? Take your pick, stand in line, have your own say…

Yet, Douglas Horne makes a case out of the actual records that have been buried in the system itself for forty years, so maybe he’s on to something… read the book and think what you will.

Like other works on the history of this event one will need to decide for oneself. What’s interesting for me is that this event brokers for us our indefinable need to know the truth, to know history, to get at reality behind the interpretive filters of discursive fictions that purport to offer us a view onto reality. We seem to be fed a myriad of fictional narratives that all purport to hand us the actual history of the matter. But what is history? What is fact? What are the discursive techniques that help us get at the actual event itself? As I’ve read the spectrum of official and unofficial works on JFK’s assassination over the years I’ve personally come to the conclusion that history like truth is as Nietzsche once suggested when he asked:

What then is truth? A mobile army of metaphors, metonyms, and anthropomorphisms — in short, a sum of human relations, which have been enhanced, transposed, and embellished poetically and rhetorically, and which after long use seem firm, canonical, and obligatory to a people: truths are illusions about which one has forgotten that is what they are; metaphors which are worn out and without sensuous power; coins which have lost their pictures and now matter only as metal, no longer as coins.

We still do not know where the urge for truth comes from; for as yet we have heard only of the obligation imposed by society that it should exist: to be truthful means using the customary metaphors – in moral terms, the obligation to lie according to fixed convention…

‘On truth and lie in an extra-moral sense’

a short history of conspiracy

As one conspiracy theory scholar suggested it is the CIA itself who first popularized the use of the term “conspiracy theory” in its propaganda against the conclusions of the Warren Report itself.

CIA’s campaign to popularize the term “conspiracy theory” and make conspiracy belief a target of ridicule and hostility must be credited, unfortunately, with being one of the most successful propaganda initiatives of all time.2

The term “conspiracy theory” did not exist as a phrase in everyday American conversation before 1964. The conspiracy-theory label entered the American lexicon of political speech as a catchall for criticisms of the Warren Commission’s conclusion that President Kennedy was assassinated by a lone gunman with no assistance from, or foreknowledge by, any element of the United States government. Since then, the term’s prevalence and range of application have exploded. In 1964, the year the Warren Commission issued its report, the New York Times published five stories in which “conspiracy theory” appeared. In recent years, the phrase has occurred in over 140 New York Times stories annually. A Google search for the phrase (in 2012) yielded more than 21 million hits— triple the numbers for such common expressions as “abuse of power” and “war crime.” On Amazon.com, the term is a book category that includes in excess of 1,300 titles. In addition to books on conspiracy theories of particular events, there are conspiracy-theory encyclopedias, photographic compendiums, website directories, and guides for researchers, skeptics, and debunkers. (KL 116-124)

Smith did a detailed analysis on the New York Times archives and discovered the connection between conspiracy theories and various pejorative terms can be tracked with queries in the archives. What he discovered is that attacks on conspiracy beliefs, as limited as it is, has been quite harsh. Conspiracy beliefs are associated with mental illness, including paranoia, obsession, psychosis, insanity, craziness, and being unhinged; with being outside the mainstream, including radical, left-wing, right-wing, fringe, and extreme; with being implausible as in far-fetched; with being antisocial, including crackpots and despicable and bigoted people; and with being fanatical, as in cults, birthers, and truthers. (KL 1875-1879)

He tells us that in 2006 a new term was introduced in a CIA peer-review journal, the concept of State Crime against Democracy (SCAD) to displace the term “conspiracy theory.”  I say displace rather than replace because SCAD is not another name for conspiracy theory; it is a name for the type of wrongdoing about which the conspiracy-theory label discourages us from speaking. Basically, the term “conspiracy theory” is applied pejoratively to allegations of official wrongdoing that have not been substantiated by public officials themselves. (KL 201-105)

He describes the SCAD construct is useful in pulling back the curtain so that antidemocratic elite conspiracies can be seen in their larger contexts and studied comparatively. By delineating a general crime category, the construct automatically directs attention to multiple examples that qualify, and of course this helps observers rise above a case-by-case orientation. It also directs our attention to elite motives and behavior and inter-elite rivalries relative to political crimes. It assumes that political elites are capable of committing SCADs but that they usually do so only when in their view circumstances call for it and there is little likelihood of detection. Presumably, political elites are capable of “reading” their own circumstances and the circumstances of others through the others’ eyes, so they are able to recognize how incentives and disincentives are lined up for the relevant players. Consequently, they are likely to check and balance one another by anticipating moves and blocking them or minimizing their effects. (KL 2500-2507)

This new form of research has he tells us come about with the rise of the internet and collective forms of intellectual knowledge making. It is no coincidence that the idea for SCAD research— the idea of looking at political crimes collectively and comparatively— emerged in the past decade. The nation is regaining its vision. It is becoming difficult not to notice the spiraling corruption that somehow came with the war on terror. Each additional unconnected dot placed on the page makes pattern perception more likely. The Internet is also a factor. It not only brings suspicious minds together, but also offers to the average person rapid-search access to vast archives of newspapers and magazines, a resource never before available to anyone except military and intelligence analysts. The U.S. citizenry is increasingly like the people in the story of the emperor’s new clothes. It would seem to be only a matter of time before the electorate sees what it is looking at. (KL 2680-2686)

Maybe in the end our search for the hidden truth behind JFK’s assassination is the need to believe in society, to believe that our governments, our lives, our meanings are based not on a tissue of lies, but on truth; but, if Nietzsche is right, we are already lost among conforming illusions, hallucinatory theories of reality, mixtures of fiction from which we discover all too late that we are implicated in a non-event, a world of lies and counterfeits from which there is little if any hope of extrication. Our governments have become Reality TV studios feeding us nothing but lies and narratives to blind us to the actual dealings of global capitalism and its invasive power and entrapment. Yet, in the end will its own blind systems of power not enclose it in its own fabricated fictional scenario, will the hyperstitional world it has enacted in the neoliberal vision not only deliver it to a global world but also deliver it into its own worst nightmare scenario? Are we seeing the acceleration of a hypercapital fiction, a hyperstition that is creating a posthuman world out of a tissue of lies and conspiracy? Is the very anti-conspiracy agenda itself producing its own opposite effect, a telic dynamic of accelerated fiction that will in the end bring this whole edifice of lies into a dark closure of decadent infestation? Will the very nature of the beast end in collapse?

As Smith tells it the conspiracy-theory label does not try to form a new pattern of thought. It simply tries to and does interfere with a logic that would unfold naturally were it not for the presence of an unnatural impediment. (KL 2705) What is this unnatural impediment if not the real or imagined powers behind the masks of civilized illusions? H.P. Lovecraft might have the last laugh on this:

The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.4


Other works:

Six Seconds In Dallas: A Micro-Study of the Kennedy Assassination
The Oswald Affair-An Examination of the Contradictions and Ommissions of The Warren Report, By Leo Sauvage
Ultimate Sacrifice, by Lamar Waldron and Thom Hartmann

  1. Horne, Douglas (2014-09-10). JFK’s War with the National Security Establishment: Why Kennedy Was Assassinated (Kindle Locations 51-57). The Future of Freedom Foundation. Kindle Edition.
  2. deHaven-Smith, Lance (2013-04-02). Conspiracy Theory in America (Discovering America) (Kindle Locations 435-437). University of Texas Press. Kindle Edition.
  3. Lovecraft, H.P. (2014-06-21). Complete Collection Of H.P.Lovecraft – 150 eBooks With 100+ Audio Book Links(Complete Collection Of Lovecraft’s Fiction,Juvenilia,Poems,Essays And Collaborations) (Kindle Locations 1105-1109). Ageless Reads. Kindle Edition.

Kant: Sensibility, Intuition, and Noumenon

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Kant is specific when he tells us that the concept of noumenon is a “boundary concept”:

The concept of a noumenon is therefore merely a boundary concept, in order to limit the pretension of sensibility, and therefore only of negative use. But it is nevertheless not invented arbitrarily, but is rather connected with the limitation of sensibility, yet without being able to posit anything positive outside of the domain of the latter.1

This notion that noumenon is a limit concept, a negative limitation on sensible intuition which binds it to the circle of appearance and representation is a well known aspect of Kant’s system. He makes a point in acknowledging the limits of understanding and its use as empirical sensibility and that it “does not reflect on the sources of its own cognition” but is rather well suited to “determining for itself the boundaries of its use and knowing what may lie within and what without its whole sphere; for to this end the deep inquiries that we have undertaken are requisite.” (KL 8416) So Kant was already in agreement with those scientists who tell us that we might as well give up the notion of accessing the source of cognition since the very device (“cognition”) we would use to do so is blind to its own very real physical processes within the brain. Rather cognition was always built to confront the environment within which our evolutionary existence is tasked. No more, no less.

We’ll come to his definition and limitation of the Transcendental Analytic: That the understanding can never accomplish a priori anything more than to anticipate the form of a possible experience in general, and, since that which is not appearance cannot be an object of experience, it can never overstep the limits of sensibility, within which alone objects are given to us. (KL 8524) In other words we cannot step out of the circle of our sensible intuition to know things as they are in-themselves. Speculative realists want to call this the correlational circle.

Kant says it this way: “Thinking is the action of relating given intuitions to an object.” (KL 8530) Then will qualify it telling us that we have access not to the object-in-itself as it is, but rather we only ever have access to the thought of an object in general through the pure category in which an abstraction is made from any condition of sensible intuition as the only one that is possible for us. (KL 8532) It’s at this point that he introduces the division of phenomena and noumenon:

Appearances, to the extent that as objects they are thought in accordance with the unity of the categories, are called phaenomena. If, however, I suppose there to be things that are merely objects of the understanding and that, nevertheless, can be given to an intuition, although not to sensible intuition (as coram intuiti intellectuali),  then such things would be called noumena (intelligibilia). (KL 8551)

The key here is “intuition”. He will say that sensible intuition is what we as humans are limited too, yet whatever noumena are they might be given to another type of intuition. Then he’ll clarify this telling us that all we have is the sensible intuition of objects that are formed as representations from appearances, and that we never have access to objects directly but only indirectly through these same representations which through inference suggest a “transcendental object” independent of sensibility.(KL 8569) But because all we ever have access too is the representation of this object as sensible intuition it “cannot even be separated from the sensible data, for then nothing would remain through which it would be thought. It is therefore no object of cognition in itself, but only the representation of appearances under the concept of an object in general, which is determinable through the manifold of those appearances.” (KL 8576)

Again Kant will stipulate that sensibility and its field, namely that of appearances, are themselves limited by the understanding, in that they do not pertain to things in themselves, but only to the way in which, on account of our subjective constitution, things appear to us. This was the result of the entire Transcendental Aesthetic, and it also follows naturally from the concept of an appearance in general that something must correspond to it which is not in itself appearance, for appearance can be nothing for itself and outside of our kind of representation; thus, if there is not to be a constant circle, the word “appearance” must already indicate a relation to something the immediate representation of which is, to be sure, sensible, but which in itself, without this constitution of our sensibility (on which the form of our intuition is grounded), must be something, i.e., an object independent of sensibility. (KL 8585)

This notion that if we are not to be caught in a circle of idealism, that appearance itself “must already indicate a relation to something” that is outside sensibility to which the appearance as representation refers as an “object independent of sensibility”. So in this sense Kant is a realist. This is where it gets tricky because its this acknowledgement of an independent object existing outside sensible intuition to which our representations as appearances refer Kant develops his concept of noumenon. And, as he’ll stipulate it “is not at all positive and does not signify a determinate cognition of any sort of thing, but rather only the thinking of something in general, in which I abstract from all form of sensible intuition.” (KL 8591) He’ll continue:

But in order for a noumenon to signify a true object, to be distinguished from all phenomena,  it is not enough that I liberate my thoughts from all conditions of sensible intuition, but I must in addition have ground to assume another kind of intuition than this sensible one, under which such an object could be given; for otherwise my thought is empty, even though free of contradiction. To be sure, above we were able to prove not that sensible intuition is the only possible intuition, but rather that it is the only one possible for us; but we also could not prove that yet another kind of intuition is possible, and, although our thinking can abstract from that sensibility, the question still remains whether it is not then a mere form of a concept and whether any object at all is left over after this separation. (KL 8593-8602).

Humans he will tell us are only given sensible intuition, yet there must be “another kind of intuition than this sensible one, under which such an object could be given; for otherwise my thought is empty, even though free of contradiction.” As he states it sensible intuition “is the only one possible for us”, yet “another kind of intuition is possible” but to prove this is the problem as he suggests: “the question still remains whether it is not then a mere form of a concept and whether any object at all is left over after this separation”. This would be the Gordian knot of consciousness that would lead to so many blind alleys in the following two hundred years. In fact this is where philosophy is situated even today trying to get out of this box of sensibility. It might be that only the neurosciences might provide the clue. Or that we shuck the whole program of consciousness out the window and go with an asignifying form of materialist relations. Either way we’re stuck with this Gordian knot.

This is where he will once again reemphasize the concept of the noumenon, i.e., of a thing that is not to be thought of as an object of the senses but rather as a thing in itself (solely through a pure understanding), saying it is not at all contradictory; for one cannot assert of sensibility that it is the only possible kind of intuition. (KL 8621)

So in this sense the noumenon acts as a heuristic device to limit sensibility within the confines and boundaries of representational thought.  Kant will conclude saying whatever the object is in-itself, the noumenon, “will always remain unknown to us, so that it even remains unknown whether such a transcendental (extraordinary) cognition is possible at all, at least as one that stands under our customary categories. With us understanding and sensibility can determine an object only in combination. If we separate them, then we have intuitions without concepts, or concepts without intuitions, but in either case representations that we cannot relate to any determinate object.” (KL 8660-8667)

Kant came up against a wall realizing that at least from his philosophical notions of sensibility, intuition, representation we could infer that something exists independently of us, but we could not know what this something is; and, yet, he did not exclude that some other type or mode of intuition might someday allow access to this realm of the noumenon. Of course later philosophers, and even Kant’s contemporaries would begin elaborate critiques and problematizations of this whole representational theory of sensible intuition. Even now this is still not concluded. Those within both Speculative Realism and certain materialist philosophies have been trying since Kant to break out of this prison of sensibility, seeking a way into this other type or kind of intuition and a way to think and know the noumenal.

Critique’s of kant’s category theory

Some like my friend R. Scott Bakker say we should forget philosophy and hand it over to the neuroscientists who are already discovering heuristical and hardware devices to do just that. The point is that maybe evolution did not require us to “know” what things are in themselves, but rather gave us other survival mechanisms which allowed us to represent only what the brain gives us after it filters out the excess of reality and delivers to us the fragments and images we need to get on with the tasks at hand. The neurosciences have already shown us that we never perceive reality directly, but only after the fact, after the brain has processed all the data and filtered what it concludes is pertinent. We know and see only the history of this decision.

Kant’s buried himself in feed-back loops of brain and consciousness, where the latter is always bound to what the brain constructs in way of representations of reality objects rather than the objects as they are in themselves; and, truth be told, the brain neglects what isn’t needed or necessary for the task in hand, and it decides even the task. So we are bound to a realm of information neglect, blind to our own knowledge not even knowing that what we know is but a miniscule of the data our brain happily filters out. What we finally perceive as an “object” is but a fragment of what the brain registers then gives us as representation. We don’t even know that we neglect what we don’t know and will never know. Some term this “meta-cognitive myopia“.

Klaus Fiedler describes “meta-cognitive myopia”, using a term once suggested by Robyn Dawes, is the phenomenon that people are pretty accurate in utilizing even large amounts of stimulus information, whereas they are naive and almost blind regarding the history and validity of the stimulus data. This uncritical reliance on the information given is the most conspicuous when the task context makes it crystal-clear that the stimulus data (Kant’s sensible intuition) should not be trusted. In the introduction, MM is located within a broader framework of meta-cognition research, and several examples are provided to illustrate the phenomenon. The central message is laid out that MM offers an alternative account of many biases in judgment and decision making, which have been traditionally explained in terms of capacity constraints, limited reasoning ability, motivational forces, or severely biased environmental input. The explanatory power of the MM construct, and its theoretical potential to predict new findings, is then demonstrated in a major review section with reference to five paradigms:

  1. inability to discard irrelevant information;
  2. utilization of selectively sampled information;
  3. conditional inference biases;
  4. sample-size neglect;
  5. and myopia for the impact of aggregation levels.

The final discussion Fiedler tells us is concerned with the learning origins of MM and the question of why evolution did not equip Homo sapiens with more effective meta-cognitive tools. An analysis of the costs and benefits will reveal that MM may serve important adaptive functions, and that eliminating MM may have maladaptive effects. Nevertheless, in the context of many real decision problems, the costs and irrational consequences of MM cannot be denied.

R. Scott Bakker in a post The Metacritique of Reason will argue that Kant and his followers up to our own time believe that philosophical reflection possessed the capacity to apprehend the superordinate activity of cognition, that it could accurately theorize reason and understanding. We now possess ample empirical grounds to think this is simply not the case. There’s the mounting evidence comprising what Princeton psychologist Emily Pronin has termed the ‘Introspection Illusion,’ direct evidence of metacognitive incompetence or neglect, but the fact is, every nonconscious function experimentally isolated by cognitive science illuminates another constraining/constitutive cognitive activity utterly invisible to philosophical reflection, another ignorance that the Intentionalist believes has no bearing on their attempts to understand understanding. For Scott we are blind to our own cognitive capacities because of medial neglect, the way structural complicity, astronomical complexity, and evolutionary youth effectively renders the brain unwittingly blind to itself. Medial neglect means that the limits of cognition systematically elude cognition. We have no way of intuiting the swarm of subpersonal heuristics that comprise human cognition, no nondiscursive means of plugging them into the field of the natural. And so we become a yardstick we cannot measure, victims of the Only-game-in-town Effect, the way the absence of explicit alternatives leads to the default assumption that no alternatives exist.

Yet, we must go back to Kant’s original statement which stipulated cognition of this nondiscursive domain as a boundary concept in my opening remarks where he makes it obvious that sensibility has limits and is bound by limited capacity to cognize due to a lack of access to the “sources of its own cognition”. Kant was well aware that we are encompassed by a world of information to which we have no access too, and was trying to build tools to access only what is “given” to us through the mental fabrications that the brain “sources” constructs through its mechanisms. I think if Kant lived today he’d admit just how little philosophers truly know, and how much we coming to realize that the little we do know neglects a great deal. We build reality out of bits and pieces of what the brain sees fit to give us in way of evolutionary processes of signifying and asygnifying systems. For Kant we are limited to the boundary zone beyond which the “pretension of sensibility” has little access:

The concept of a noumenon is therefore merely a boundary concept, in order to limit the pretension of sensibility, and therefore only of negative use. But it is nevertheless not invented arbitrarily, but is rather connected with the limitation of sensibility, yet without being able to posit anything positive outside of the domain of the latter.

  1. Kant, Immanuel (1998-01-13). Critique of Pure Reason (The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Immanuel Kant) (Kindle Locations 8633-8634). Cambridge University Press. Kindle Edition.

Darkness Visible: Refugees and Immigrants – The Shock and Awe Doctrine

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A few years ago Naomi Klein’s excellent book The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism caught the truth of permanent crisis when she described Milton Friedman’s flippant statement on capital opportunities during crises:

[Milton Friedman] observed that “only a crisis— actual or perceived— produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. That, I believe, is our basic function: to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes politically inevitable.”1

In my last post A Planetary Crisis: The Dark Side of War and Refugee Plight I’ve been wondering about both US and EU policies and how most of what we see in the world today has been brought about by the shock doctrines that Klein portrays in her detailed examination of global capitalism under the auspices of this neoliberal doctrine of exploitation. Her work deals mainly with Latin America where many there saw a direct connection between the economic shocks that impoverished millions and the epidemic of torture that punished hundreds of thousands of people who believed in a different kind of society. (p. 8)

Can we not see the same in the middle-east and Africa? Many dispute the term neoliberalism as even relevant, yet the persistence of this term is widespread and well known. One doesn’t need to be a rocket scientist to understand how inequality and poverty works. War, famine, disease, soil erosion, climate change and an varied assortment of other known and unknown factors are all contributing to the current crisis. But one of the greatest crisis is in that age old dictum that Wordsworth once described as “man’s inhumanity to man”. We’ve become cynical and deaf to the pleas of innocent victims of the darkness around us, as if the people of these less than habitable zones of poverty and death were responsible for their own fates, as if we could wash our hands and rid ourselves of their stain and corruption. As if we, too, were not a part of the evil in the world, that our very passive inability to treat these others as unique, and with dignity and worthy of our love, respect, and help in their time of need. Watching videos and listening, reading, and exploring the plight both in Asia, Africa, the Middle-East, and Latin America one wonders why the Western press beyond a few youtube.com documentaries rarely covers this realm of darkness. It’s as if they could just sweep it under the rug of political correctness, absolve themselves of these oblivions and annihilations, genocides, famines, wars, and apocalypses of human degradation by simply not showing that it exists. The Western media, a Hollywood extravaganza and Reality Studio for the elite would rather worry over the latest non-event than to show forth the dark side of capitalism and its degradation of humanity and the earth.

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Marcel Schwob: The Death of Lucretius

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The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom.
…….– William Blake

One of my favorite tales of Marcel Schwob takes the legend of Lucretius’s death and marries it to the decadent music of the eros and thanatos. One of the great late decadents or Symbolists he was a friend to almost all of greats of the era: Léon Daudet, Paul Claudel, Anatole France, Edmond de Goncourt, Jean Lorrain, J.-H. Rosny aîné, Alphonse Daudet, Auguste Bréal, Paul Arene, Maurice Spronck, Jules Renard, Paul Margueritte, Paul Hervieu, Charles Maurras, Rachilde, Octave Mirbeau, Catulle Mendès, Jules Renard, Guillaume Apollinaire, Henri Barbusse, Georges Courteline, Paul Valéry, Colette, Oscar Wilde, Pierre Louÿs, George Meredith, Maurice Maeterlinck, Alfred Jarry, Aristide Bruant, Marcel Proust, Robert de Montesquiou, Édouard Manet, Auguste Rodin, Camille Claudel and Jehan Rictus.

To read the French Decadents and Symbolists is to enter the music of language, to know the inner contours of affect immanently, to feel the body’s motions in the senses – the haptic movement of flesh on flesh, the sensual patterns of decay and life at the edge of dissolution and corruption. Yet, in the midst of death and decay there is life, a life felt with such gusto and intensity that the subtle flavors of the mind barely grasp the intricate art of its baroque embellishments and arabesques. Painter, poet, journalist, he wrote over a hundred short stories, essays, biographies, literary reviews and analysis, translations and plays. Marcel Schwob was a monstrous being of energy and grace.

The lover is eventually united with his beloved, but in death rather than life. His Cleopatra is scornful of his apparent immersion in imaginative need; and, yet she yields to its ritual intent, considering one moment of living ecstasy infinitely more valuable than an eternity of disembodied companionship.

What we discover in this tale is the simple truth of ecstatic Dionysian life, of energic power under the sign of death and dissolution. In the moment of sex and violence the organismic self-feeling of excessive life brings with it the madness of inhuman truth even at the expense of duration. We’d rather feel the power of ecstatic life in a moment of pure rapture and excess than live out our dire existence under the burden of banality and mediocrity. Only in the moments when we move beyond the human into that mad terrain of erotic ecstasy do we begin to touch the power flowing out of chaos from within us, to ride the loa of daemonic life like annihilating sparks severing the root and tree and following the line of flight into that broken world where our inhuman becoming merges with the electric night. Like Shamans riding the Tree of Time we scurry up and down the branches into heavens and hells seeking the lost embrace of our hidden lives, momentary glimpses of an alternate bliss where corruption takes on the hue of a many splendored light beyond the gray world of our decaying and transient flesh… in that abyss where all light devolves into darkness beyond darkness, where time and space revolve into a final kernel of the void and fade into the eternity of endless death we begin to know and see the “visible darkness” of the annihilating light…

Below is one of my favorite tales from Schwob…

The Death of Lucretius

LUCRETIUS was born into a grand family that had long since withdrawn from public life. His early days were lived in the shadow of the black porch fronting a tall house built on a mountainside. The atrium was severe and the slaves silent. Since his childhood he had been nourished with a contempt for politics and men. The noble Memmius, who was the same age, suffered the games that Lucretius imposed on him when they played in the forest. The two of them marvelled at the deeply wrinkled bark of old trees, and at leaves quivering in the sun like a green veil streaked with light. They mused on the striped backs of the wild piglets which snuffled the earth. They passed through swarming streams of bees and moving columns of ants on the march. One day they broke through from a thicket into a clearing completely surrounded by cork-oaks, which were growing in a circle so densely packed together it seemed like a well sunk into the blue sky. The place was infinitely restful. As though they were on a clear, wide road that led to the rarefied air of the divine. Lucretius was touched there by the blessing of calm spaces.

Accompanied by Memmius, he left the serene temple of the forest to study eloquence at Rome. The aged gentleman who ruled over the tall house found him a tutor to teach him Greek, and enjoined him not to return until he had learned the art of despising the world and all its ways. Lucretius never saw him again. He died alone, railing against the tumult of society. When Lucretius returned, he brought with him into the tall empty house, under the severe atrium among the silent slaves, an African woman who was beautiful, barbarian, and perverse. Memmius had returned to the paternal home. Lucretius had witnessed bloody factions, feuding parties, and political corruption. He was in love.

At first his life was an enchantment. Against the wall-tapestries the African female pressed her tangled mass of hair. Her languid body married with its full length the contour of every couch. She held mixing-bowls full of foaming wine, with her arms encrusted in translucent emeralds. She had a strange way of lifting one finger and shaking her head. Her smiles had their deep source in the rivers of Africa. Instead of spinning, she would shred the wool patiently into tiny flecks that floated round about her.

Lucretius wanted nothing more ardently than to melt into that beautiful body. He squeezed her metallic hands and placed his lips against her dark, scarlet mouth. The words of love were exchanged and sighed out; they made them laugh and became worn out. The pair of them brushed against the supple and opaque veil that separates lovers. Their desire grew ever fiercer and sought to become the other. It reached an inflamed extremity that is released over the flesh rather than deep in the entrails. The African withdrew into her remote heart. Lucretius grew desperate at being unable to consummate his love. The woman grew haughty, grim and silent, like the atrium and the slaves. He wandered into the library.

It was there that he unfolded the scroll on which a scribe had copied out the treatise of Epicurus.

No sooner had he done so than he understood the huge variety of things in this world, and the futility of trying to turn them into ideas. The universe seemed to him similar to the little flecks of wool the African scattered through his halls. The bees in their clusters and the ants in their columns and the leaves in their moving tissue were like groups and sub-groups of atoms. And within his own body he felt an invisible mutinous people, eager to fly apart. The gaze seemed to him to be more subtly embodied rays, and the image of the beautiful barbarian was now a pleasant and colourful mosaic; he felt the end of this infinity of movement to be sad and vain.

He viewed the bloodied factions of Rome, with their armed and insulting partisans and claimants, as analogous to the swirling of troops of atoms dyed with the same blood, fighting for some obscure supremacy. And he understood that the dissolution that comes with death was nothing other than the releasing of this turbulent mass that rushes on to a thousand further futile movements.

So when Lucretius had received instruction from the scroll of papyrus, on which the Greek words were interwoven with each other like the atoms of the world, he went out into the forest through the black porch of the tall ancestral house. He saw the stripy backs of the piglets, with their snouts still snuffling at the ground. Next, slashing through the thicket, he was once more in the middle of the serene temple in the forest, and his eyes plunged into the blue well of the sky. And it was there that he placed his repose.

From there he contemplated the teeming immensity of the universe; all the stones, all the plants, all the trees, all the animals, and every single man, in all his colour, with all his passions and his instruments, and the history of the most diverse things, and their birth, their diseases, and their death. And as part of all-encompassing and necessary death, he perceived the individual death of his African bride. And he wept.

He knew that tears spring from a special movement of little glands underneath the eyelids, and that they are caused by a procession of atoms arriving from the heart, and that the heart in turn has been struck by a succession of coloured images emanating from the surface of the body of the beloved woman. He knew that love was caused by nothing more than the swelling of atoms which desire to join with other atoms. He knew that grief at the death of a loved one is the worst of all earthly illusions, because the dead person has ceased to be unhappy and to suffer, while he who is left to mourn does no more than afflict himself with his own miseries and dream darkly of his own death. He knew that there remained of us no simulacrum to shed tears for our own corpse laid out at our feet. And yet, for all his close knowledge of grief, and love and death— that they are but vain images when contemplated from the calm space where he would seal himself off— he continued nevertheless to weep, and to desire love and to fear death.

Which is why, on returning to the tall and gloomy ancestral house, he went up to the beautiful African, who was brewing something up in a metal pot on the fire. For she too had been thinking, and her thoughts had joined the deep source of her smile. Lucretius looked at the boiling liquid on the brazier. He lightened bit by bit and became like a green turbulent sky. And the beautiful African shook her head and lifted her finger. Then Lucretius drank off the potion. No sooner had he done so than he lost his reason, and he forgot the Greek words on the scroll of papyrus. And for the first time, because he was mad, he knew love. And in the night, having been poisoned, he knew death.

  1. French Decadent Tales (Oxford World’s Classics) (2013-05-09). Oxford University Press, USA. Kindle Edition.

A Planetary Crisis: The Dark Side of War and Refugee Plight

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The Plight of Refugees, the Shame of the World gives us a clue. Death of children. UK response. Yazidis faced with genocide. John Kerry on US lottery. Merkel has made a dire situation worse. An estimated 9 million Syrians have fled their homes since the outbreak of civil war in March 2011. The European Union’s leaders go to shocking lengths to get refugees out of sight, out of mind and out of Europe. EU struggles to reconcile values with barbed wire fences. Map of countries accepting refugees. Syrian refugees stranded in exile may go back to war-ravaged homeland. Hate crimes against refugees up in America and Europe. Ten largest refugee camps in the world. Housed in a notorious concentration camp: Refugees who fled to Europe for a better life are living in former Nazi barracks at Buchenwald.  On its eastern border, Hungary is building a barbed-wire fence to keep out refugees, remarkably like the barbed wire “iron curtain” that once marked its western border. Choose whatever image you want — ships full of Jews being sent back to Nazi Europe, refugees furtively negotiating with smugglers at a bar in Casablanca — and it now has a modern twist.

Veronika Pehe, editor at Political Critique, interviews Budapest-based activist Bálint Misetics, who offers some observations on the Hungarian response to the refugee crisis: What is visible is the compassion of the Hungarian people, which is of course very strikingly juxtaposed with the vicious xenophobia and petty political maneuvering of the Hungarian government. There is also a lot of harassment going on. Volunteers providing food are regularly verbally assaulted by other locals, and there have also been some attacks by far-right-wing groups at Keleti railway station. The public is really polarized, however. When this situation started early in the summer, with the government putting up posters with messages for the so-called migrants (but in Hungarian!), saying that if you come to Hungary, you have to respect our culture, not take jobs from Hungarians, and so on, there was an interesting upsurge in direct action and civil disobedience. And this was not only in activist circles, but amongst ordinary people, who tore these posters down or painted over them. So I think what is happening is that—and this is something we also witnessed with anti-homeless propaganda a few years ago—the government always needs to find a scapegoat. In this case, it’s the refugees. But what the government is doing is so obviously inhumane that it encourages many to find a way to help or in any case to sympathize with the refugees, because the other position seems morally untenable.

According to UN more than 43 million people worldwide are now forcibly displaced as a result of conflict and persecution, the highest number since the mid-1990s. Others like NY Times report closer to 60 million. Several million people remain displaced because of natural disasters, although updated statistics are not available. UN says three specific challenges facing humanitarian efforts: 1) the protracted nature of many modern conflicts, some of which have dragged on for years or even decades; 2) the dangerous climate in which humanitarian actors must work today, or what UNHCR calls the “shrinking of humanitarian space”; and, 3) finally, the erosion of the institution of asylum. This is particularly of concern in industrialized countries trying to cope with so-called “mixed movements” in which migrants, asylum-seekers, refugees and victims of trafficking travel alongside each other.

In terms of hosting displaced people, developed countries pale in comparison with nations bordering conflict zones. Combined, the United States and France had 760,000 refugees last year. Ethiopia, for example, is host to some 665,000, most  from Somalia and South Sudan. Rich nations offer most of the funding to aid refugees in the developing world. The United States contributed about a third of the United Nations refugee agency budget in 2014. Refugee Council USA supports more influx of Syrian refugees. China and Russia also have close ties with Syria so why aren’t they doing anything?

One of the drivers of this is not only cheap labor, but slavery, trafficking, and prostitution rings. This new variant of slavery arrived with the twenty-first century. Today slaves are cheaper than they have ever been. The enslaved fieldworker who cost the equivalent of $40,000 in 1850 costs less than $100 today.1 The second factor pushing these growing millions toward slavery is a collection of dramatic social and economic changes, many of which were supposed to make those people’s lives better. Corruption, especially police corruption, is the third force that drives the growth of slavery. For slavery to exist, the slaveholder must be able to keep the slave where the law can’t protect them. The pattern is strong and clear: more corruption means more slavery. This is a special challenge when corruption becomes institutionalized. The bribes pass up the chain of command and into the hands of politicians and government officials. Soon law enforcement is dedicated to protecting systematic law violation. (Bales, KL 244)

Scores of the Syrian women who escaped to Jordan are turning to prostitution, some forced or sold into it, even by their families. Some women refugees are highly vulnerable to exploitation by pimps or traffickers, particularly since a significant number fled without their husbands – sometimes with their children – and have little or no source of income. Despite strong traditions against sex outside marriage, prostitution takes place in the Arab world, as in other regions, though it is largely more hidden. While there may be known cruising areas in cities, overt red-light districts are rare, and some prostitutes even wear face veils to hide their activities. Arrangements can be made by phone, and short-term or informal marriages are sometimes used as a cover for prostitution or sex trafficking. Among the casualties is an 18-year-old native of Homs, Syria, who arrived in Zaatari camp last summer. Soon after, her father married her for $1,000 to a 22-year-old Jordanian man who frequently visited the camp. The husband then handed her over to a brothel in Irbid, where she is among 20 women pimped out by a man who calls himself Faroun, Arabic for Pharaoh.

One of the many documentaries dealing with the breakdown of society and how the refugee crisis affects both the populace and the people seeking asylum. This is a larger issue than any one country and seems that it is not being addressed as a global issue, which means dealing with the problems in Syria and other nations: war and tyranny:

UN Refugee Agency latest news.
Refworld updates and information.
USA’s own immigration crisis.
The International Rescue Committee (IRC)

  1. Kevin Bales. Ending Slavery: How We Free Today’s Slaves (Kindle Locations 171-172). Kindle Edition.

Alberto Manguel: The Power of Stories

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In 1940, sixteen years after Kafka’s death, Milena, the woman he had loved so dearly, was taken away by the Nazis and sent to a concentration camp. Suddenly life seemed to have become its reverse: not death, which is a conclusion, but a mad and meaningless state of brutal suffering, brought on through no discernable fault and serving no visible end. To attempt to survive this nightmare, a friend of Milena devised a method: she would resort to the books she had read long ago and unconsciously stored in her memory. Among the memorized texts was one by Maxim Gorki, “A Man Is Born.” The story tells how the narrator, a young boy, strolling one day somewhere along the shores of the Black Sea, comes upon a peasant woman shrieking in pain. The woman is pregnant; she has fled the famine of her birthplace and now, terrified and alone, she is about to give birth. In spite of her protests, the boy assists her. He bathes the newborn child in the sea, makes a fire, and prepares some tea. At the end of the story, the boy and the new mother follow a group of other peasants: with one arm, the boy supports the mother; in the other, he carries the baby. Gorki’s story became, for Milena’s friend, a sanctuary, a small safe place into which she could retreat from the daily horror. It did not lend meaning to her plight, it didn’t explain or justify it; it didn’t even offer her hope for the future. It simply existed as a point of balance, reminding her of light at a time of dark catastrophe, helping her to survive. Such, I believe, is the power of stories.1


  1. Manguel, Alberto (2011-05-26). The City of Words (CBC Massey Lecture) (pp. 12-13). House of Anansi Press. Kindle Edition.

La Sorcière: Jules Michelet and the Literature of Evil

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La Sorcièreis one of the more reputable books on magic…
………..– Georges Bataille

Evil attracted them, almost overwhelmed them: without evil, their existence would have been … vacant. They were right, those ancient philosophers who identified fire with the principle of the universe, and with desire, for desire burns, devours, annihilates. At once agent and destroyer of beings, it is somber, it is infernal by essence.
………..– Emile Cioran

Thomas Ligotti in his famed short story “Medusa” will reiterate a refrain that is surely the leitmotif of all those dark and vitalistic counter-currents of the literature of evil and the philosophical peregrinations against which we comprehend those who know the true liberty of the rebel: “We may hide from horror only in the heart of horror.”1

Jules Michelet’s La Sorcière, originally published in Paris in 1862. A text that would fascinate certain of the late decadents and moderns. As he said of it: “The object of my book was purely to give, not a history of Sorcery, but a simple and impressive formula of the Sorceress’s way of life, which my learned predecessors darken by the very elaboration of their scientific methods and the excess of detail. My strong point is to start, not from the devil, from an empty conception, but from a living reality, the Sorceress, a warm, breathing reality, rich in results and possibilities.” (Michelet, p. 326)

The Japanese anime Kanashimi no Belladonna would be inspired by this work and stage the erotic and violent enactments of a dark world of rape and rapacious vitalism. It follows the narrative of Michelet’s Sorceress and her resistance against feudalism and the Catholic Church which is fudged into that of Joan of Arc (Jeanne d’Arc), whom Belladonna’s Jeanne is revealed to be, and her execution by burning.

Georges Bataille would devote one of his essays in The Literature of Evil on Michelet and his work La Sorcière. In it he would show forth the true power of art as that ability to stage manage anxiety: the “arts … incessantly evoke these derangements, these lacerations, this decline which our entire activity endeavors to avoid” (p. 68).2 One is reminded of the poet Rimbaud who practices the “long, immense and reasoned deranging of all his senses” in order to reach a transcendent state, which he calls the “unknown.”3

Bataille in his discussion of sacrifice and its dark history in the human corruption of society and its criminal bonds would see it as the supreme form of excess and immanent transgression, a fusion and a degradation so compelling that all participants were united in the evil lust of sex and violence. Bataille would disagree with Michelet’s almost beneficent view of the Black Mass, the malefice sacrificial darkness that was the rapture of an infinite defilement. One Bataille would describe as an “unrecognized greatness of ritual defilement which symbolized a nostalgia for infinite defilement” (p. 72). We must remember this was the age of decadents, but also of the world of the naturalists; a time when both religion and the religion of Reason were still working their political, social, and personal disenchantments out through the literary circles of the day.

“It is to Michelet’s credit to have accorded these nonsensical feasts the value due to them, ” says Bataille. Michelet was able to see the political anguish of the pagani, of peasants and serfs, victims of a dominant order, and a dominant religion.” (p. 72) Michelet was able to reach down into the lives of the neglected and abandoned, the dark hinterlands of the poor and outcast and pull them up into the realm of art where we could see these broken reflections as the dark face of our own beleaguered humanity. Michelet, a defender of women, of “exaltation of women and love”; a book that would at first find itself banned, and scandalized, only to finally be published by the Brussels Lacroix and Verboeckhoven – who, as Bataille reminds us published that great Book of Evil, Les Chants de Maldoror. (p. 73)

Bataille will align our need for the liberty of evil with excess and intensity, the need to go beyond the limits of social and human survival. He would provide an anecdote on Michelet who he felt never resolved the issue of evil’s intensity, and would impose limits to its excesses. Bataille relates that at times when Michelet was no longer feeling inspired and needed something to awaken his sense of evil he would walk the streets into the dark districts till he would come upon the stench of death, then he would breathe in deeply, having ‘got as close as possible to the object of disgust’, and return home to work. (p. 75) In a final note Bataille will relate: “I cannot but recall his face – noble, emaciated, with quivering nostrils.” (p. 75)

  1. Ligotti, Thomas (2012-06-25). Noctuary (Kindle Locations 388-389). Subterranean Press. Kindle Edition.
  2. Georges Bataille. The Literature of Evil. (Marion Boyards, 2006)
  3. Arthur Rimbaud. A Season in Hell and The Illuminations Kindle Edition.

Time, Fate, and Mercury: Transmodernity and the Shape of Time

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Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. – Arthur C. Clarke

“How could we drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the entire horizon? What were we doing when we unchained this earth from its sun? Whither is it moving now? Whither are we moving? Away from all suns? Are we not plunging continually? Backward, sideward, forward, in all directions? Is there any up or down left? Are we not straying as if through an infinite nothing? Do we not feel the breath of empty space?”
  Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra

I was reading Emily Segal’s essay on e-flux Mercury Retrograde which is part of a new set of essays dealing with information and planetary computing. What struck me about this essay is not its humorous shift between modes of thinking and temporal forms of influence and its reversals, as much as its implicit acceptance of a fatalism that goes unregistered in the very diagnosis it tries to encapsulate in ironic statement.

She begins telling us about the retrograde motion of Mercury as an illusion, saying: “Mercury is still the god of information, governing speed, communication, transportation, and ideas. And in astrology, when Mercury goes into retrograde, the powers of the planet reverse their influence. Information goes haywire. Emails fail to reach their destinations. Dick pics get sent to dads. At least that’s how Mercury Retrograde has been traditionally described.” Has it? In this late age are we still defining ourselves by horoscopy? Is the arrow of time and quantum reversal part of some astrological table of calculus against a backdrop of imperial stars?

fate and fatalism

Agricultural civilization developed a notion of “fate” or the rule of stars over the religious life of crops and men: being influenced or locked into a world ruled by the power of stars, of external forces that impinge on our daily lives moment by moment. Temporal determinism: the Sun, Moon, and Stars guiding our crops: planting, sewing, reaping rhythms; as well as our hunting and gathering regimes. Watching over our every decision, and in fact forcing us into molds and modulating our very existence on Earth is as old as agricultural civilization if not before that. As she explains: “But even though this retrograde motion is an illusion, Mercury is still the god of information, governing speed, communication, transportation, and ideas. And in astrology, when Mercury goes into retrograde, the powers of the planet reverse their influence.” Since the beginning of modernity or Enlightenment we’ve been trying to dodge the bullet on this predicament. The transcendentalists from Kant through Hegel would develop notions of teleological capture or Zeitgeist, while Schopenhauer through Nietzsche would develop antithetical and anti-teleological notions of “Amor Fati” of the love of fate… of eternal returns, wheels within wheels, the procession of gods and men within the cosmic malfeasance of Time.

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