Will Self: On the (Real) Death of the Novel

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“The literary novel as an art work and a narrative art form central to our culture is indeed dying before our eyes,” says Will Self. “Let me refine my terms: I do not mean narrative prose fiction tout court is dying – the kidult boywizardsroman and the soft sadomasochistic porn fantasy are clearly in rude good health. And nor do I mean that serious novels will either cease to be written or read. But what is already no longer the case is the situation that obtained when I was a young man. In the early 1980s, and I would argue throughout the second half of the last century, the literary novel was perceived to be the prince of art forms, the cultural capstone and the apogee of creative endeavour. The capability words have when arranged sequentially to both mimic the free flow of human thought and investigate the physical expressions and interactions of thinking subjects; the way they may be shaped into a believable simulacrum of either the commonsensical world, or any number of invented ones; and the capability of the extended prose form itself, which, unlike any other art form, is able to enact self-analysis, to describe other aesthetic modes and even mimic them. All this led to a general acknowledgment: the novel was the true Wagnerian Gesamtkunstwerk.

As I said at the outset: I believe the serious novel will continue to be written and read, but it will be an art form on a par with easel painting or classical music: confined to a defined social and demographic group, requiring a degree of subsidy, a subject for historical scholarship rather than public discourse. The current resistance of a lot of the literate public to difficulty in the form is only a subconscious response to having a moribund message pushed at them. As a practising novelist, do I feel depressed about this? No, not particularly, except on those occasions when I breathe in too deeply and choke on my own decadence. I’ve no intention of writing fictions in the form of tweets or text messages – nor do I see my future in computer-games design. My apprenticeship as a novelist has lasted a long time now, and I still cherish hopes of eventually qualifying. Besides, as the possessor of a Gutenberg mind, it is quite impossible for me to foretell what the new dominant narrative art form will be – if, that is, there is to be one at all.”

Read more…

The UK, Debt, and Transnational Governmentality

“Debt is the technique most adequate to the production of neoliberalism’s homo economicus” (70).

-Maurizio Lazzarato’s Governing by Debt

“People ‘want’ to stay in the Eurozone for the same reasons shopkeepers ‘want’ to remain under some mobsters’ protection racket. It’s not because of hope, it’s because of fear.”3

-Mihalis Panayiotakis

Maurizio Lazzarato’s contention, in Governing by Debt, is that “contemporary democracy has been circumvented by techniques of transnational governmentality whose active basis lies in finance capital” (2015, 237).  To the increasingly dated argument that democracy still offers a solution—that the voting public are responsible for their own predicament and capable of resolving it—the Brexit crisis offers a timely rebuttal: popular sovereignty simply no longer holds up to the transnational forces unleashed by global creditors—banks, investors, and unelected, supranational bodies like the IMF and the ECB. Though the UK had elected a coalition that promised to end the crippling EU measures under which they’ve suffered, they’ve found themselves with lackluster leaders trapped between further austerity and the prospect of an almost certainly equally devastating “Brexit” from the Eurozone. Wavering in a Twilight Zone between enacting article “50” or just muddling through incompetence and idiot leadership the UK seems to be floundering in a cesspool of racism on the far Right, while those on the Left seem to be quarreling over their own elected Labour party. What next?

Austerity is shredding the social fabric of its member nations. In Greece alone about 1,000 more people lose their jobs every day, and long-term poverty is knocking at the door of a new class of low-paid workers. According to Greece’s Institute of Labour, the average salary in the country is just 74 percent of the European average – and, what’s more, Greeks’ purchasing power has fallen by half since 2010. Many workers now have to live on as little as 4,500 euro per year, while the poverty line is set at 7,100 euro per year.2 I’m not sure of what the figures are in the UK?

Part of the problem is the EU represented the complete divorce of politics and economics, broke down the national sovereignty of nations without giving them any political recourse or redress. How did the leaders of these countries allow themselves to be enslaved in a debt system whose very impersonal and bureaucratic powers of financial capitalism and transnational Law put action, political action beyond reach? The UK wants to disconnect from this illegal and anti-human regime of power but will find itself isolated and constrained by those powers to the point of becoming a sort of new Cuba – isolated and trapped from trade and economic viability.

Europe’s corporate and financial leadership, who seem intent on punishing the nation have no intention of bailing them out of their predicament. What we’re seeing here Lazzarato’s work tells us is that the EU finance capitalism is a deftly orchestrated transnational scam that makes a mockery not only of democracy but of the very principle of national sovereignty on which Western modernity is founded. The UK has no real options and its current leaders no that. Isolated, without trade agreements, without financial backing, etc. the UK will become a an internal war zone over the coming years.

Lazzarato turns to that old fascist thinker Carl Schmitt who once predictably forecast what would happen in such systems where the political economy was divided: the nation-state will henceforth serve as a staging ground for the articulation of competing class interests, its sovereignty and internal cohesion fatally undermined by an “ethics of civil war” (2003, 54) only modestly veiled by the discourse of liberalism and democracy.

The EU economic system of Debt servitude has invented a perpetual debt colony out of everyone of its member states whose obligations could never be discharged; a wholesale expropriation of their public assets, now for sale to the highest bidder; and last but by no means least, an example to hold up to any other nation so bold as to place democracy before the juggernaut of capitalist valorization.  Humiliated and eviscerated, laid waste by a new extreme of financial violence, the remains of a sovereign nation—the cradle of Western democracy, no less—are left on display as a “warning to the others”: defy the banks at your peril. (Lazzarato)

Is the UK going to become an example to the other member states? Will it be sacrificed on the chopping block of economic necessity, a punishment for its defiance? What is next for the EU financial empire? Is the UK to be a scapegoat and example to the other members, left out in the cold of isolation, distant and alone unable to trade or barter with the EU?


  1. Maurizio Lazzarato and Joshua David Jordan. Governing by Debt Semiotext(e) (January 23, 2015)
  2. Cf. http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/12/2012121974029736221.html
  3. http://www.resilience.org/stories/2015-08-10/debating-democracy-in-a-european-debt-colony

 

Gary J. Shipley: Theoretical Animals

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Gary J. Shipley is not for everyone, yet those of us – aficionados of the grotesque and macabre, who come upon his work realize right off the bat this is the real deal. Few can travel into these perilous waters without getting burned, much less scorched by the forces below the threshold. Shipley makes it seem simple, as if he were born of this dark carnival, complicit in its revealing and its apocalypse. Thing is about Shipley he’s been mutating ahead of us for a while now, going where most of us only envision nightmares never realizing the truth of our waking lives was staring us in the face all the time. Gary strips us of our filters, strips us of our protective Human Security Systems, lays bare the world around us that for the most part we would rather lock away. A world that is both vital and full of forces unregistered in the hinterlands of our psyche.

Gary inhabits this interstitial zone for us, brings us to the limit, to the brink and opens our eyes to the monstrous beauty of the earth we for the most part are blind too. Gary lives there, a modern day shaman whose travels in transit, voyage into an infernal paradise by way of an updated mapping of the old Tibetan Bardol. Given his temperament and tendencies toward a completed nihilism, one may need to short list his discoveries, catalogue the secret ruins he’s uncovering to understand the itinerary of his travelogue journals.

Take a recent adventure, Theoretical Animals. Set in a near future graveyard of our world, a London in post-Apocalyptic demise. Here he wanders the shadowlands of its extreme collapse forging from secretive and forgotten knowledge the collective memories we can only hint at: those compositions and decompositions of a collapsing thought world, the detritus of a thousand lives spent forgetting time and history only to be resurrected in a realm this side of reality – a place some philosopher’s used to term the Real. Shipley conceives this fantastic zone within a conceptual framework of visionary materialism that rewires the very nerves to adapt the wary intruder into a world no longer human, or much rather – in excess of humanity, a world at once disconnected from our very past, yet barely composed within the meta-instability of its darker catastrophes. Here what remains of the human lives out its meager existence in a woven semblance of a locked-in prison house of decaying security systems, inhuman algorithms, manufactured relays between rhizomatic labyrinths – cold, cruel, icy worlds of pure vitality.

In this realm a mother and son seem to drift upon future Thames in a post-Apocalyptic London like children of warped time-world. Within the mother’s gaze “floated a boat of matted blood, with no London appliance beyond a rope”.1 This is a haptic sensuality of an exposed realm of death in extremity, the visceral meshing of bodies in vibrant ecstasy on the edge of an impossible future. Her son appears to speak, to be telling a tale that he himself almost disbelieves: “I’m wearing the look of the covered, to a short time with things off your face”. Language is spliced, it dances among ruins of verbs and nouns, the structure of language like the ruins through which they seem to wander has been corrupted and is corrupting. The son’s only friends appear as “the faces of dead sailors, their water-logged torsos bobbing, plaintive jewels in rotten marrow-bled riverways.”

Each paragraph is set off typographically with bold typeset, set adrift on the blank sea of the page like a prose poem stretched across an abyss, each word lost among its distempered fragments like members of a lost tribe seeking a key to open the imprisoning cell they’ve been tossed into. This is prose at the breaking point of intelligibility, a carefully crafted enactment where words inhabit the thing they reveal, live the life of the blackness they perform. Hyperstitional habitations of linguistic models from a future that is already collapsing within our brains, revealing the threads of a supernal world of rich and lavish pain where the sacred violence of our secular wastelands gives way once again to the dark gods of old. An atheistic paradise where the constructions of material excess reveal the darkness to be alive, a welcoming to the horrors and terrors we’ve all been seeking under the cover of reason. Children of the Enlightenment we’ve come a long way to die at the hands of our own progeny, become victims of our own complicity in creation – a creation that is at once catastrophe and apocalypse.

In the distance unseen “mothers wail from the shore, the robbed stares of their loss hidden, aural guests coiling hair-brushed poison to our table”. One imagines Dante’s Inferno, but that would be to spare the reality for a fantasy which Shipley will not let you do. No. You will be entreated to no longer turn your head away, assume it is all a matter of tropes, allegories of some future punishment; instead you are living through the truth of your own future, a future that is full of terror and beauty, of death and decay. A place that fascinates and repels at once.

This is a place where even a “sentence of diluted intensity and common violence” washes up and washes out among the dark contours of your mind like presentiments of world that surrounds you already in the shadows of each step you take. A world that peers back at you in the innocent gesture of a young girl reaching out to you for a dime or nickel, or from the alleyway where you see an old man digging through the trash bins for bottles or who-knows-what. Yes, this is the world we are all constructing together, the ruins of our civilization at last revealing what lay there in the tumbling stones all along. A world where “numb voyeurs adorned and physical / crumpled memories stored for cold future” lay there silently in the dustbins of the future like broken toys gathering dust in a forlorn attic.

Shipley reveals nothing more nor nothing less than our own world seen askew, to one side of us; a realm where the actual traverses the fantasy, the schizflows wander through sidereal time bringing us the revelations of civilization’s final chapters, the swan songs of an eclipsed humanity giving way to a monstrous progeny. A place where the “Green ghosts of little girls dance free of the fire”. Where lonely “things hiding behind withered nostalgia passed slowly through the cries, and time cornered into days, and time…” This is the place where things neither rest nor end. A place where there “are no new shows, and no new stages on which to perform them. There are only museums and freshly branded fools making marks in the dust.”

Welcome to Shipley’s world. A dark place where the “dank ruin of the world’s immortal toys” discover the wreck of the impossible, where memorized “silence details the transfer of everything,” and the “[n]egation of action is the most courageous of mutations”. A final warning is given:

“Wait! Heed this at least: underlying this threat are the infected books of a cagy group of deranged dreamers.”

You have been warned!!!

Enter the labyrinthine wonderlands of Gary J. Shipley. Visit Gary at his blogspot:

http://garyjshipley.blogspot.com/


  1. Shipley, Gary J. . Theoretical Animals (Kindle Locations 59-60). BlazeVOX [books]. Kindle Edition.

London’s Last Stand

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London’s Last Stand

However tragic, London had been worth fighting for, a city with street markets, stores and restaurants. There were churches and mosques filled with real congregations, not heaps of roof-tiles under an open sky. Now the civilian population had gone, leaving a few thousand political combatants and their families hiding in the ruins. They were fed and supplied by the EU peacekeeping force, who turned a blind eye to the clandestine shipments of arms and ammunition, for fear of favoring Tories or Labour side in the conflict. So a futile political struggle dragged on, so pointless that the world’s news media had long since lost interest. Sometimes, in a ruined basement, Corbyn came across a tattered copy of Time or Paris Match, filled with photographs of street-fighting and graphic reports on the agony of London, a city then at the centre of the world’s concern. Now no one cared, and only the hereditary militias fought on, grappling across their empires of rubble.

– J.G. Ballard, London’s Last Stand

(Poetic License: bowdlerized pastiche from War Fever a short story by J.G. Ballard)

The Decline of Human Intelligence

Dr. Gerald Crabtree, a geneticist at Stanford, has published a study that he conducted to try and identify the progression of modern man’s intelligence. As it turns out, however, Dr. Crabtree’s research led him to believe that the collective mind of mankind has been on more or a less a downhill trajectory for quite some time.

According to his research, published in two parts starting with last year’s ‘Our fragile intellect. Part I,’ Dr. Crabtree thinks unavoidable changes in the genetic make-up coupled with modern technological advances has left humans, well, kind of stupid. He has recently published his follow-up analysis, and in it explains that of the roughly 5,000 genes he considered the basis for human intelligence, a number of mutations over the years has forced modern man to be only a portion as bright as his ancestors.

“New developments in genetics, anthropology and neurobiology predict that a very large number of genes underlie our intellectual and emotional abilities, making these abilities genetically surprisingly fragile,” he writes in part one of his research. “Analysis of human mutation rates and the number of genes required for human intellectual and emotional fitness indicates that we are almost certainly losing these abilities,” he adds in his latest report.

Read article here: https://www.rt.com/usa/intelligence-stanford-years-fragile-531/

One More Time for the Road: An American Nightmare

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Most of us live in a soap-opera farce, a world where the punch lines have been deleted and the canned laughter silenced. It’s like waiting for the reruns to start and realizing they have been playing over and over to the point that one can no longer tell heads from tails, the film sequence seems to have drifted into a dark zone where the color has faded to an unhealthy mixture of sallow and slime green. We keep hoping against hope someone will say something new, realizing in the end everything has already been said; all that’s left is to forget one’s lines and be done with it. Problem with that is that something keeps opening your mouth and speaking the lines you never meant to say. You are no longer even sure you’re the one saying it; and, in fact you’re no longer sure anyone is there to receive it. The message seems to be so lost among the ruins, and the ghosts you see before you keep hitting each other with cartoon efficacy – as if the ineffable were not something unknown in the drift of sense, but rather just one more iteration of the same voice from a repeat commercial; drone of a drone sequence yapping for you to buy some new product when nothing is left to buy – the shelves have long been empty, and the isles are lined with zombies seeking your flesh rather than some consumer paradise. You head for the door thinking there has to be an exit only to discover on walking through it that it enters the other side of the same room. Like a comic routine from the three-stooges or a Marx brothers festival of linguistic jibes you yell at anyone who will listen, but everyone is so busy sleepwalking through the paces of this endless circuit of fakery that they can no longer stop to listen even to themselves much less your wake up call. So you sit down and try to cry but instead begin laughing uncontrollably, tears falling from your eyes till the world, the film, and the fake chatter of the white noise eclipses your last thought, and like some demented guest of a flickering gray world of cinematic noir you begin to feel the darkness of the abyss within… engulf you.

-S.C. Hickman, One More Time for the Road ©2016

i seek a number…

Man calculating from ladder

I seek a number that cannot be calculated. This number will become my line of flight out of the madhouse of a world…

Gregory Chaitin once wrote a paper on The Limits of Reason implying that Ideas on complexity and randomness originally suggested by Gottfried W. Leibniz in 1686, combined with modern information theory, imply that there can never be a “theory of everything” for all of mathematics.

So perhaps mathematicians should not try to prove everything. Sometimes they should just add new axioms. That is what you have got to do if you are faced with irreducible facts. The problem is realizing that they are irreducible! In a way, saying something is irreducible is giving up, saying that it cannot ever be proved. Mathematicians would rather die than do that, in sharp contrast with their physicist colleagues, who are happy to be pragmatic and to use plausible reasoning instead of rigorous proof. Physicists are willing to add new principles, new scientific laws, to understand new domains of experience. This raises what I think is an extremely interesting question: Is mathematics like physics?

Gregory Chaitin and The Limits of Reason

In 1956 Scientific American published an article by Ernest Nagel and James R. Newman entitled “Gödel’s Proof.” Two years later the writers published a book with the same title—a wonderful work that is still in print. Chaitin was a child, not even a teenager, and he was obsessed by this little book. He remembered the thrill of discovering it in the New York Public Library. He used to carry it around with him and try to explain it to other children. As he’d say:

 It fascinated me because Kurt Gödel used mathematics to show that mathematics itself has limitations. Gödel refuted the position of David Hilbert, who about a century ago declared that there was a theory of everything for math, a finite set of principles from which one could mindlessly deduce all mathematical truths by tediously following the rules of symbolic mathematical logic. But Gödel demonstrated that mathematics contains true statements that cannot be proved that way. His result is based on two self-referential paradoxes: “This statement is false” and “This statement is unprovable.” (For more on Gödel’s incompleteness theorem, see box.)

My attempt to understand Gödel’s proof took over my life, and now half a century later I have published a little book of my own. In some respects, it is my own version of Nagel and Newman’s book, but it does not focus on Gödel’s proof. The only things the two books have in common are their small size and their goal of critiquing mathematical methods.

Unlike Gödel’s approach, mine is based on measuring information and showing that some mathematical facts cannot be compressed into a theory because they are too complicated. This new approach suggests that what Gödel discovered was just the tip of the iceberg: an infinite number of true mathematical theorems exist that cannot be proved from any finite system of axioms.

For the details read here. To cut to the short version I quote:

Overview/Irreducible Complexity

  • Kurt Gödel demonstrated that mathematics is necessarily incomplete, containing true statements that cannot be formally proved. A remarkable number known as Ω reveals even greater incompleteness by providing an infinite number of theorems that cannot be proved by any finite system of axioms. A “theory of everything” for mathematics is therefore impossible.
  • Ω is perfectly well defined and has a definite value, yet it cannot be computed by any finite computer program.
  • Ω’s properties suggest that mathematicians should be more willing to postulate new axioms, similar to the way that physicists must evaluate experimental results and assert basic laws that cannot be proved logically.
  • The results related to Ω are grounded in the concept of algorithmic information. Gottfried W. Leibniz anticipated many of the features of algorithmic information theory more than 300 years ago.

The incomputable number that solved the problem, which is now known as Chaitin’s constant is in information theory, and as omega constant or Adamchik constant  is a mathematical constant defined by:

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1024px-OmegaChaitin


Gregory Chaitin is a researcher at the IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center. He is also honorary professor at the University of Buenos Aires and visiting professor at the University of Auckland. He is co-founder, with Andrei N. Kolmogorov, of the field of algorithmic information theory. His nine books include the nontechnical works Conversations with a Mathematician (2002) and Meta Math! (2005). When he is not thinking about the foundations of mathematics, he enjoys hiking and snowshoeing in the mountains.

 

Synopsis of the Ideal Marriage

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She had accepted him as she would any marauding hunter. First she would try to kill him, but failing this give him food and her body, breast-feed him back to a state of childishness and even, perhaps, feel affection for him. Then, the moment he was asleep, cut his throat. The synopsis of the ideal marriage.

– J. G.Ballard, High-Rise: A Novel

Compositional Mutations: Nick Land and Libidinal Materialism

 

With the  libidinal reformulation of being as composition ‘one acquires degrees of being, one loses  that which  has being’.

– Nick Land, A Thirst for Annihilation

Tracing Nietzsche’s libidinal energetics Nick Land would see four major thrusts: 1) a concerted questioning of the logicomathematical conception of the same, equal,  or identical, die Gleichheit, which is dissolved into a general energetics of compositions; of types, varieties, species, regularities;  2) a figure of eternal recurrence, stretched between a thermodynamic baseline  (Boltzmann’s theory of eternal recurrence) and a libidinal summit, a theoretical machine  for transmuting ontologico-scientific discoveries into excitations. (30-31); 3) a general theory of hierarchies, of order as rank-order (composition). (31); and, 4) a diagnosis of nihilism, of the hyperbolic of desire (31).

Base or Libidinal materialism destroys the metaphysics of Being for a process oriented and fluidic libidinal energetics that would enable the “power to conserve, transmit, circulate, and enhance compositions, the power that is assimilated in the marking, reserving, and appropriating of compositions, and the power released in the disinhibition, dissipation, and Dionysian unleashing of compositions” (30). This is central to any base materialist project. And, one should not confuse Land’s system with the science of thermodynamics, because “it does not distinguish between power and energy, or between negentropy and energy” (30). Rather than an ontology it is outside metaphysics altogether, allowing the compositional flows to engender their own matrix of possibilities. Yet, it does not do away with ‘Being,’ it acknowledges that it is an effect of composition, a pre-ontological development out of chaos (thermospasm). Rather than the transcendental/empirical divide (as in Kant), we discover intensive sequences or events, returns within scaled intervals of history (31). The insatiability of desire, the compositional movement across scales of intensity, the recurrence of pain and ecstasy, the never-resting movement of self-overcoming immanence rather than transcendence.

Freud will follow Nietzsche’s lead and conceive desire as plenitude and productivity itself rather than as in Lacan, as “lack, representation, or intention, but as dissipative energetic flow, inhibited by the damming and channeling apparatus of the secondary process (domain of the reality principle)” (31). As sublimation and defensive repression: displacement, dislocation, compression. Forget telos, there is no goal, only pleasure and unpleasure; and, “unpleasure is primary excitation or tension which is relieved by the equilibriating flux of sexual behavior” (or, as Land is fond of reminding us: there is no goal, only Zero) (31). As he’ll restate it:

This compulsion to zero is—notoriously—ambivalent in Freud’s text: ‘the mental apparatus endeavours to keep the quantity of excitation present in it as low as possible or at least to keep it constant’ (31).

The Oedipal myth for Freud is the drama of desire and survival vying with each other over a living corpse. Desire seeks to return to equilibrium and death, while the son of time is complicit in seeking survival at any cost. Which will lead Land to observe:

It is because of this basic prejudice against the claims of desire that psychoanalysis has always had a tendency to degenerate into a technology of repression that subtilizes, and therefore reinforces, the authority of the ego. In the terms both of the reality principle and the conservative moment of psychoanalysis, desire is a negative pressure working against the conservation of life, a dangerous internal onslaught against the self, tending with inexorable force towards the immolation of the individual and his civilization. (32)

Land will place this within a Solar economy following Bataille, seeing organic life-forms as entering a maze, “maze-wanderers,” who seek to escape in long wanderings of the labyrinth the fatal truth at the center of the maze: Death. He will then ask:”What is the source of the ‘decisive external influences’ that propel the mazings of life, if not the sun?” (33)

Without going into the full details, I add only that Land follows Bataille’s economics of expenditure, acquisition, and excess – quoting Bataille: ‘It is of the essence of life to produce more energy than that expended in order to live.’ In other words, the biochemical processes are able to be envisaged as accumulations and expenditures of energy: all accumulation requires an expense (functional energy, displacement, combat, work) but the latter is always inferior to the former’ [VII 473]. (36) [my italics]

A careful reader of Marx’s work Land would touch on the notions of surplus value and profit by way of Marx’s subtle definition of labour as ‘labour-power’ [Arbeitskraft] for the object of transaction between worker and employer, and the word ‘labour’  [Arbeit] for the value produced in the commodity. He’ll go on to say,

Having thus distinguished the concepts of ‘labour’ and ‘labour-power’ the next step was to explore the possibility that labour-power might function as a commodity like any other, trading at a price set by the quantity of labour it had taken to produce. The difference between the capacity for work and the quantity of work necessary to reproduce that capacity would unlock the great mystery of the origin of profit.(36).

Ultimately Marx would come up with a formula for profit as

Value of labour—Price of labour=Profit

Land would ask: But why is it that labour-power comes to trade itself at a price barely adequate to its subsistence? Land would see both a historical and systematic reason for this. First there was the removal of the peasants from their ties to the land during the period that came to be known as the ‘Enclosure’ in which they were “in the language of liberal ideology the peasantry is thus ‘freed’ from its ties to agrarian production” (37). Next, to crudely summarize Marx’s theory without overburdening the reader, Marx would make a distinction between “use value” and “exchange value” which would allow capital to circulate between “variable” and “fixed” forms of capital, thereby providing what Marx “calls the ratio of variable capital to fixed capital the organic composition of capital, and argues that the relative increase in use values, or improvements in productivity, are—given an undistorted labour market—associated with a relative increase in the proportion of fixed capital, and thus a decrease in profit. (38)”.

Land tells us that ever since Marxian theory has been dogged by two problems: first, there is the empirical evidence of increasing metropolitan profit and wage rates, often somewhat hastily interpreted as a violation of Marx’s theory (38); and, second, is the problem associated with a state-capital complex, and is that of ‘bureaucratic socialism’ or ‘red’ totalitarianism. (38). But, as Land will tell us, and I quote at length:

Both of these types of problem are irrelevant to the Marxism of Bataille, because they
stem, respectively, from theoretical and practical economism; from the implicit
assumption that socialism should be an enhanced system of production, that capitalism is too cynical, immoral, and wasteful, that revolution is a means to replace one economic order with a more efficient one, and that a socialist regime should administer the public accumulation of productive resources. For Bataille, on the contrary, ‘capital’ is not a cohesive or formalizable system, but the tyranny of good (the more or less thorough rationalization of consumption in the interests of accumulation), revolution is not a means but an absolute end, and society collapses towards post-bourgeois community not through growth, but in sacrificial festivity.(38).

So the notion of the “tyranny of the good,” and permanent revolution in “sacrificial festivity” are at the heart of the Batallean cosmos. For Bataille the economy is based on “wastage,” and that “all terrestrial economic systems are particular elements within a general energy system, founded upon the unilateral discharge of solar radiation” (38). Because of the excessive capitalist production cycles  the “world is thus perpetually choked or poisoned  by its own riches, stimulated to develop mechanisms for the elimination of excess”; so that ‘it is not necessity but its contrary, “luxury”, which poses the fundamental problems of living matter and mankind’ (39). And, as Land will suggest, in such a geo-strategic economy the only way to solve the problem of excess it is necessary that consumption overspills its rational or  reproductive form to achieve a condition of pure or unredeemed loss, passing over into sacrificial ecstasy or ‘sovereignty’ (39).

Yet, against such a Solar economy our present Global Capitalism is based on a ‘refusal of expenditure and loss’ and/or libidinal economy of ‘sacrificial ecstasy’ (39). Our present capital economy is thus one that is regulated as if the problem of consumption could be derived in principle from that of production, so that it would always be determinable as an insufficiency of demand(39). Whereas, as Land states it, Bataille’s economy “does not see a problem for production in the perpetual reproduction of excess, but rather, in a manner marking the most radical discontinuity in respect to classical political economy, sees production itself
as intrinsically problematic precisely insofar as it succeeds “(40).


  1. Land, Nick. A Thirst for Annihilation: Georges Bataille and Virulent Nihilism. (Routledge, 1992)

Zizek Weighs in on Yesterday’s Brexit Vote

“Recall Mao Ze Dong’s old motto: “Everything under heaven is in utter chaos; the situation is excellent.” A crisis is to be taken seriously, without illusions, but also as a chance to be fully exploited. Although crises are painful and dangerous, they are the terrain on which battles have to be waged and won. Is there not a struggle also in heaven, is the heaven also not divided—and does the ongoing confusion not offer a unique chance to react to the need for a radical change in a more appropriate way, with a project that will break the vicious cycle of EU technocracy and nationalist populism? The true division of our heaven is not between anemic technocracy and nationalist passions, but between their vicious cycle and a new pan-European project which will addresses the true challenges that humanity confronts today.”

Yet, in his usual ironic fashion, with which I agree wholeheartedly, he describes the apathy and do-nothing Left as incapable of confronting anything much less a new project for change:

“Now that, in the echo of the Brexit victory, calls for other exits from EU are multiplying all around Europe, the situation calls for such a project—who will grab the chance? Unfortunately, not the existing Left which is well-known for its breathtaking ability to never miss a chance to miss a chance.”

Read more, here: http://www.newsweek.com/brexit-eu-referendum-left-wing-politics-europe-zizek-474322?rx=us

The Apocalypse Happened Only Yesterday

As I sit here listening to Éliane Radigue’s Triptych Trilogie de la mort, the droning of the waves slashing sonically, the winds riding the capped plunge of an acoustic universe, the hum of throbbing black noise hovering like a ghost in the shadows – the coming and going of some forgotten electrical footprint in my mind, I think about when it all ended. Did it really end? Did I imagine it would be this way? Didn’t we all think it would be something else, something different? As if difference meant not the Same? But of course we were all wrong. But isn’t that the way of thought, error prone, full of blanks, believing one could actually gain a foothold on reality? Find in the gaps, those cracks in time a way through to the Real? As if language and being truly were one as Parmenides hoped. But that’s the drivel of an old man’s brain, less than nothing; inconclusive. An oscillation in the void between two poles of indecision, when the brain in its blind process calculates one’s desires like a master magician, guides one toward the appropriate door, nudges one to make the inevitable choice, the only choice available, reckoned? Then it happens, the unexpected. The thing not looked for, because it was unknown, and even unthinkable, ineffable. Pulsating, speed-death, the circles, eddies, the vibrating air… I hear it now, haptically – the nervous irradiating force of the abyss. It envelopes me now; it’s palpable. I thought I would be gone by now? The ringing, as if the planets were clamoring against space, empty space. Can that be? Is there sound in the great desert of the emptiness? They say it’s already over, the apocalypse, like an event long expected that finally arrives, an unexpected guest; maybe even like a country exiting into its own bleak past, trying to recapture a way of life, a way back into its primal youth, looking for a truth it lost along the way. Like a child dancing on the edge of the sea, in the waves, her dark hair tremulous and free in the salt-spray wind. But its all too late for that now, we’re too late for that, we who waited too long to act, to do anything… now we all sit here in the dark listening to the dark sing.

– S.C. Hickman ©2016 – Prose Proems

Drone Music as Apocalypse

Drone music excels in creating and maintaining tension. It aestheticizes doom, opening a door onto once and future catastrophes, those that are imminent and those that, once believed to be imminent, are now detours in a past that turned out otherwise. Drone music is apocalypse itself is a phenomenon that flouts interpretation; it is a literal rendition of the ineffable, something that exceeds or evades or defies speech. Apocalypse as cataclysm draws a line between the present and the future, presence and absence. It is an emptiness, a threat or a hope of a revelation (“ apocalypse” literally means “unveiling”), but it is unthinkable insofar as we cannot claim to have already lived it.

Apocalypse in modern parlance is a dreadful thing to contemplate, even though it is not clear what exactly will expire once apocalypse has happened. We may think of apocalypse as the end of the world, or the end of humanity. But apocalypse needn’t necessarily be either, for humanity’s apocalypse could well consist of being reduced to living in pre-industrial conditions. This would be a drastic turn of events, surely, but not so much an apocalypse for our species as for our culture and technology. The meaning of “the end of the world” is even obscurer, for even the most pessimistic anticipations of apocalypse tend not to proclaim that Planet Earth will disappear.

What, then, will end?

A hyperobject as conceived by Tim Morton, apocalypse is something we can theorize or foretell, but not know in its entirety.  We know of it only obliquely through works of art that speak of it (such as Basinski’s The Disintegration Loops) or that speculate about its attributes (such as Basinski’s The River). And while I agree with Morton that the end of the world has already occurred because “world” means a series of ideas about what life should and should not be, we should nonetheless understand that the recent usage of “apocalypse” indicates a belief that the worst is yet to come, that apocalypse is an event from which humanity will not emerge. This sense of “the end of the world” is aesthetically significant, for as this book demonstrates, it drives much of our art and culture and feeds our political malaise and spiritual cynicism. The writer Cynthia Wey takes apocalypse literally to mean the end of human existence on Earth, although she acknowledges the inherent narcissism in apocalyptic theories that harp on humanity’s disappearance to the exclusion of any other object or being. Many of us share Wey’s parochial notion of apocalypse, for we assume that if we ever do experience apocalypse, it will be just as we are about to disappear.

-Joanna Demers,  Drone and Apocalypse: An Exhibit Catalog for the End of the World

Reading the UK Exit… made me think

Reading all these posts on FB and Twitter on the UK made me think….

It’s not just Britain or the U.S., one should look around the world as well… reactionary forces are basically everywhere across the board, like a tripwire someone zapped, a current underground one tweaked with normative switching systems and algorithms of smart bombs, but now the circuits have all shorted out, the bypasses melted, the husks of containment dripping into toxicity…. the black ooze is seeping out all over and the only thing to be done is accept responsibility for putting the plug back in the genii’s bottle if you can: it is an inner necessity to submit to and survive this “betrayal,” to survive this violent act of being torn out of one’s complaisance and thrown into a dark landscape where one has to reinvent a politics – only in this way, concrete universality is born. Maybe this is the clarion call the Left has needed to rise up out of its lethargic sleep, its complaisance and finally begin forging a new path forward rather than talking about it, rather now it must act on it – think intelligently instead of moving to some voluntaristic belly twitch.

Mobilize intelligence: Intellect as ACT, not abstraction. Make Intellect concrete, an enactment and participation, realized in its movement. Bring politics and economy together again as Political Economy. Revolution should take place when capitalism fully develops all its potentials and exhausts all its possibilities: are we in that time? We  should not just sit and wait for the “ripe moment,” but begin “educating” ourselves for the long struggle ahead. We must reinvent the Left for TODAY, rather than living on the ghosts of failed worlds. Without a platform there can be no struggle, without a struggle there can be no unity, no movement, no mobilization. But if the reactionaries insist on unleashing exit and flight, we should not be afraid of it. Our attitude on this question is the same as our attitude towards any disturbance: first, we are against it; second, we are not afraid of it. What is terrifying today is nothing less than the condition of our freedom. Our freedom to act, and act intelligently going forward.

Georges Bataille: Echoes of a Word

Flowing into one another, the contents of various forms of expenditure (laughter, heroism, ecstasy, sacrifice, poetry, eroticism or others) defined of themselves a law of communication regulating the play of the isolation and the dissolution of beings. The possibility  of uniting at a precise point two types of knowledge which up to now had either been  unknown to  one another or only roughly  brought together, gave this ontology its unhoped-for consistency: thought dissolved in its entirety but was rediscovered again at a point where laughs the unanimous throng.

-Georges Bataille

Tracing Voluntarist / Anti-Voluntarist Tradition

Notes from Paul Redding, Continental Idealism Liebniz to Nietzsche:

An appeal to elements from the Platonist and Neoplatonist tradition to be opposed to the strongly nominalist and voluntarist characteristics of emerging modern philosophy. This is particularly found in Leibniz and Hegel, and draws on various features not only of the thought of Plato himself, but especially later Neoplatonists, both pagan (such as Plotinus and Proclus) and Christian (such as Meister Eckhart, Nicholas of Cusa and Jacob Böhme). Among the features characterising the thought of this tradition are (a) a prioritising of the role of concepts and inferences in the generation of knowledge over the role of sense experience; (b) a rejection of the nominalist ontology underlying empiricism, and an attraction to a holistic and organicist view of knowledge and the cosmos; (c) a prioritising of aesthetic dimensions of experience, seen as relevant to the intellectual grasp of holistic unities; and (d) a rejection of the strongly transcendent and personalised conception of God of orthodox Christianity, and a tendency to a more “Platonic theology”, equating the deity with the processes of reason itself.


“…theological “voluntarism”, a stance that had become explicit in the thirteenth century, as a reaction to the influence of Aristotelianism as found in the views of Thomas Aquinas. As will be seen, the significance of voluntarism as a position the Continental idealists opposed is crucial for understanding this movement, and here they tapped into a long-standing anti-voluntarist tradition. In Germanspeaking regions of Europe especially, anti-voluntarist ideas were transmitted through late medieval figures like Albert the Great and Meister Eckhart, and it was the tradition from which the “oppositional” thoughts of Jakob Böhme had sprung. It was to be especially influential among the post-Kantian idealists, and so a short detour into the theological disputes of late medieval Christianity is therefore warranted.”


For the nominalists [voluntarists], the omnipotent will of God was beyond human comprehension, and so reason must give way to revelation. However, a radically secular version of such a voluntaristic anti-Platonic, anti-Aristotelian view was to appear in the seventeenth century in the thought of Hobbes, a thinker against whom Leibniz would oppose his own philosophy. In short, in Leibniz’s opposition to Newton’s conception of space we find the implicit opposition of a Platonist to Newton’s voluntaristic theology. (16)


Moreover, Leibniz was intensely critical of the other side of the nominalism of thinkers like Ockham and Hobbes, their voluntarism—the voluntarism we see too in Newton and Clarke. But Berkeley equally shared in this voluntarism, as it is central to his spiritual realism. Thus he posited two different ontological kinds: “Thing or being is the most general name of all, it comprehends under it two kinds entirely distinct and heterogeneous, and which have nothing in common but the name, to wit, spirits and ideas.” And the fundamental distinction between these two types of thing is that “the former are active, indivisible substances: the latter are inert, fleeting, dependent beings, which subsist not by themselves, but are supported by, or exist in minds or spiritual substances” (PHK: §89). (19).


In the seventeenth century, the voluntaristic position could be seen
clearly in Descartes’ claim that there are no truths antecedent to God’s will. Moreover, similar remnants of such a voluntaristic theology were even contained in the otherwise predominantly naturalistic approach to political thought found in Hobbes. Hobbes is most well known for introducing the idea that political legitimacy is founded on the agreement of the will of those ruled, an agreement struck in a kind of “compact” or “social contract”. (27).


In psychology, just as in theology, voluntarism makes rationality consequent upon a concept of willing outside the scope of any reasoning. The content of the will is simply something given.(28). Hobbes cannot be identified with any notion of a rationally self-determining will, presupposed by the Christian Platonist tradition. A man can no more “determine his will than any other appetite, that is, more than he can determine when he shall be hungry or not” (HEW: vol. 5, 34).(28).


Ultimately, then, Schopenhauer’s vision is not unlike Leibniz’s original
attempt to ground modern mechanically naturalistic accounts of the world on a metaphysical picture of it. But while for Leibniz the underlying reality was that of a totality of monads harmoniously linked by the intentions of a rational and beneficent God, in Schopenhauer, the metaphysical core is the ultimate expression of that theological voluntarist picture that Leibniz had opposed. Leibniz’s rational God has now been replaced by the processes of a will shorn of any recognisably rational characteristics. (158).


Hegel has sometimes been read as a voluntarist, as someone who bases right on the will rather than reason. In this vein, Hegel has been seen as the last great spokesman in the modern voluntarist tradition, which begins with Hobbes and Grotius and blossoms in Rousseau and Kant. However, Hegel has also been read as just the opposite: as a rationalist, as someone who derives right from reason and gives it a value independent of the will. (206).

Beiser continues… “There is much evidence in favor of the voluntarist interpretation. Hegel justifies right on the basis of freedom, which he understands as the expression of the will (PR §4A). Furthermore, he defines the good in terms of the will, as the unity of the particular will with the concept of the will (PR §129). Finally, he places himself firmly in the voluntarist tradition when he states that Rousseau was right to make the will the basis of the state (PR §258R). (206).


volunte

What is to be done for our time?

Diego-Rivera-autoworkers-mural

What is to be done for our time?

How do we not only critique but actually do something about the current bigotry, oppression, and prejudice against women, minorities, the LGBT community, and refugees and immigrants? How to combat what appears to be a resurgent tendency toward populist fascism, hatred, spite, ethno-nationalist, and intolerant right-wing politics? As I look on what’s happening in UK and the EU in general, as well as here in my own country of the U.S. one looks no longer for some savvy thinker to come along and present a solution. I think we’re well past the notion that art, philosophy, or rhetorical persuasion is going to do anything more than stir the pot to one extreme or the other. Then what? What’s left for us to do?

Lenin in What is to be done? once said, “…no one, we think, has up to now doubted that the strength of the modern movement lies in the awakening of the masses (principally, the industrial prole-tariat), and that its weakness lies in the lack of consciousness and initiative among the revolutionary leaders.”1 But we have no revolution, and much more all our supposed leaders on the Left have vacated the premises or colluded with the center to right in decisions politically or otherwise; and, if not, they offer lukewarm drivel and rhetorical flourishes and gestures rather than something worthy of revolutionary temper and prospects of change. Even Lenin had to admit that the theory of socialism “grew out of the philosophic, historical and economic theories that were elaborated by the educated representatives of the propertied classes, the intellectuals. According to their social status, the founders of modern scientific socialism, Marx and Engels, themselves belonged to the bourgeois intelligentsia.”(74) So does that mean we must wait around for some bourgeois or middle-class bull-shit artist to tell us what to do? I hope not. But the better question is: What would an actual revolution entail today? Obviously the old school armed takeover seems beyond us, since we’re talking global capitalism; unless one is thinking of a global revolution – which, may not be such a bad idea after all, but need it be armed revolt, or is their a better, more intelligent way?

Yet, more and more if one looks around at the “bourgeois intelligentsia” of our era we see a great many names, but none that actually offer a theory or update to socialist thought and praxis; or at least one that can convey a political movement for our time. Why? One could spend years discussing, reading, thinking through just a handful of thinkers like Negri and Hardt, Badiou and Zizek, are any other of several epigones, antagonists, pros/cons, etc. from the post-moderns to the new materialists, etc. but where would that get us? No one would in the end agree to a platform for the Left much rather they’d throw monkey-wrenches at each other and play the blame game rather than create a viable path forward.

John Merrick in a recent article about British politics offers this:

“We must not underestimate the severity of the conditions facing us if we hope for a socialist renewal in Britain. Part of this must be to recognize the British state as the bulwark against change that it is. To note that Britain’s state contains overwhelming anti-democratic structures and privileges is not to argue for some teleological solution for a new, fully bourgeois revolution to democratize it, as if the road to socialism is paved with bourgeois democracy; the experiences of left-wing governments almost universally has been one of open hostility no matter how democratic the state structures. Rather, such an assessment of the particularities of the British state must be made precisely to make clear the dangers involved in the parliamentary road to socialism in Britain, and, fundamentally, the hard road to renewal that lies ahead.” (see: Corbyn Blimey: Labour and the Present Crisis http://salvage.zone/in-print/corbyn-labour-and-the-present-crisis/)

But isn’t this the same for every Statist system of so to speak, Democracy, in the world today?  Left-wing politics speaks of socialism but never defines it, offers no real solution but rather falls back on old shibboleths and party slogans, failed politics of past eras and utopian thought of former systems now dead and buried. Where does that get us? If we can’t offer a solution for our own time, think for our own time, step out from under the shadow of failure and invent a solution that is viable and practical that can actually convince working class people not only that the rhetoric is there, but that the very real practice not just theory can be enacted in their daily lives is the Left a mere husk of a ghostly past? If ideas are not living what are they? Is the Left a zombie organism seeking new flesh, or a living entity full of new ideas for a new world?

Yet, as Zizek suggests things are not so easy anymore, the notions of everything being bound by class distinctions and old school socialist notions have vanished:

“I think that the other side of globalisation is the rise of new invisible walls. We have unemployed, we have precarious workers, even here in Slovenia. I read somewhere that almost half of the workers already work only precariously. You have failed countries, you have those who live in slums, who are excluded.

“So it’s no longer the old clear class distinction, it’s a much more vague distinction between those who are in, enjoying a basic security, full civil rights and so on and those who are out. We need some transnational power to enforce more global decisions. Ecology cannot be saved, migration cases cannot be saved without such mechanisms.”

(see Zizek warns about “invisible walls” http://www.euronews.com/2016/06/09/the-other-side-of-globalisation-is-the-rise-of-new-invisible-walls-says/)

So it’s about those who are include and the exclude. A world of Human Security Regimes and all those at the periphery living in exclusionary zones of poverty, invisibility, and ultimately death. But what a “transnational power to enforce global decisions” look like that was not some centralize neoliberal machine of domination and control? Isn’t the putting the cart before the horse? Why would we think there would be put in place a transnational legal apparatus that would be on the side of the “excluded,” much rather would it enact laws and govern the included/excluded in much the same way that things are done now across the planet? We’d see a Law of the Iron Fist, a beneficent dictatorship of Laws and Regulatory controls over every aspect of our lives. No more sovereignty, or singularity; rather as Stiegler suggests, we’d lose our individuation, become mere products of our network dividual traces controlled and shaped to the desires of capitalist agendas. Would such a governing council or legal system do away with the U.N.? Become even stronger – since, as Zizek suggests, it would have actual “enforcement” capabilities? As he admits Europe doesn’t know what it wants, and I’d say the same of the U.S. are probably any democratic nation on the planet. They all seem to be confused, perplexed, unable to do anything at all but bicker, fight, and generally get nothing done for their people. Then Zizek hits the nail on the head, saying, “the problem is that there is a certain rage in Europe, like the decline of the welfare state, and so on and so on. What those dissatisfied people in Europe, what bothers them, is part of the same crisis: imbalance of global capitalism.”

It always comes back down to this thing called “capitalism” that the Left seems powerless to confront or do anything about, much less destroy it, overcome it, reform it, or even change it in any form or fashion? Isn’t this the real issue of the Left, the problem that want go away? The Left is little more than text, ideas, a worldwide communication network of disaffected singularities that are seeking a way out of capitalism but unable to find one. For Zizek global capitalism in U.S., EU, Russian, China, India and so on and so forth are all “proto-fascist authoritarian” regimes moving toward the full blow corporate infusion of a Global Fascist State.

So again, What do you want? Since there is no actual “we” Left or otherwise, not body or movement, no revolution or even a theory/practice of such a thing to combat the world of proto-fascist capitalism in the world today. What next? Lenin would also say:

Revolutionary experience and organizational skill are things that can be acquired provided the desire is there to acquire these qualities, provided the shortcomings are recognized— which in revolutionary activity is more than halfway towards removing them! (77)

The question is: Do we have the desire, the will to act? Is the notion of a general will even viable in this involuntarist age of rationalism and rationalizations? In a time when the very notion of singularity, of the individual or individuation seems not only under attack but dead within democratic materialist circles of neurosciences, etc. how to attain or reattain our singularity? Maybe the next question from Lenin needs to be asked:

What does political education mean?

As he’ll suggest, it is not enough to explain to the workers that they are politically oppressed, advantage must be taken of every concrete example of this oppression for the purpose of agitation. (95) Agitation begins through the political exposure of autocracy in all its aspects, by way of concrete exposure of examples in every domain to show how the Oligarchies, elites, wealthy classes manipulate and capture the desires of the people to their advantage, enslave the worker in every aspect of their lives under false semblance. Even our notions of communism are spurious at best as Lenin suggests in his reading of Marx and Engels. As he’ll ask: “On the basis of what data can the question of the future development of future communism be raised?” His answer:

On the basis of the fact that it has its origin in capitalism, that it develops historically from capitalism, that it is the result of the action of a social force to which capitalism has given birth. There is no trace of an attempt on Marx’s part to conjure up a utopia, to make idle guesses about what cannot be known. Marx treats the question of communism in the same way as a naturalist would treat the question of the development of, say, a new biological species, if he knew that such and such was its origin, and such and such the direction in which it was changing. (334)

Read that again. Communism is not some utopian nowhere, some vision of a fantastic primitive society made present in our time, but rather “it develops historically from capitalism”. In other words for Marx capitalism is not the enemy but the State is, and it would be a long length process of withering away of the State. Marx would say simply “The present-day state’ is therefore a fiction”. (335) Yet, a necessary one. As Marx would stipulate,

In this sense it is possible to speak of the ‘present-day state,’ in contrast to the future, in which its present root, bourgeois society, will have died away.(335)

So in this sense it is the form of society, the bourgeois society that will wither away and be replaced by something else, communism. Are we possibly already in the midst of such a transition, but that it is so confusing that we see only chaos and disparity? We assume our masters, the neoliberal globalists are truly in control when in fact their systems may be crumbling underneath the very dark power of their own toxic statecraft? Is so as Marx asks,

“The question then arises: what transformation will the state undergo in communist society? In other words, what social functions will remain in existence there that are analogous to the present functions of the state?” (335)

Then Lenin steps in with the hammer:

The first fact that has been established with complete exactitude by the whole theory of development, by science as a whole— a fact which the utopians forget, and which is forgotten by present-day opportunists who are afraid of the socialist revolution— is that, historically, there must undoubtedly be a special stage or epoch of transition from capitalism to communism. (335)

Are we not now already well into that transition, an epoch movement from the older bourgeois society and worldview? And then comes the most misinterpreted passage of all in Marx:

“Between capitalist and communist society lies the period of the revolutionary transformation of the one into the other. There corresponds to this also a political transition period in which the state can be nothing but the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat.” (335)

What does this really mean? This notion of the “revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat”? What’s interesting is Lenin’s remark, “Marx bases this conclusion on an analysis of the role played by the proletariat in modern capitalist society, on the data concerning the development of this society…”(335). Marx was already in his notions of data analysis prefiguring all those simulations, those advanced data analysis algorithms and modeling systems we now use to forecast and predict what is coming at us, the so called trends toward which the movement of society is heading.

In fact, Lenin tells us that the erroneous notion that the proletariat must overthrow the bourgeoisie, conquer political power and establish its own revolutionary dictatorship (336) is false, that for Marx the transition from capitalist society— which is developing towards communism— to a communist society is impossible without a “political transition period,” and the state in this period can only be the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat. (336) So we’re speaking of a temporal movement, a transitional phase shift requiring this state form. Lenin will as another question: What is the relation of this dictatorship to democracy? He’ll find it in the original Communist Manifesto:

“to raise the proletariat to the position of the ruling class” and “to win the battle of democracy.” (336)

In other words the workers will become the rulers and win the battle that both parliamentary and representative forms of democracy divided between the wealthy and the workers was unable to overcome. In fact Lenin spells it out:

In capitalist society, under the conditions most favorable to its development, we have more or less complete democracy in the democratic republic. But this democracy is always restricted by the narrow framework of capitalist exploitation, and consequently always remains, in reality, a democracy for the minority, only for the possessing classes, only for the rich. (336)

In other words we’re living in a Plutocracy and Oligarchy of the Wealthy classes who possess all the wealth (i.e., our so to speak upper .01%). In fact what we term democracy was once stated by Marx this way  that the oppressed were allowed, once every few years, to decide which particular representatives of the oppressing class should misrepresent them in parliament!(337) But here comes the crux of Lenin’s argument for this revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat:

But from this capitalist democracy— inevitably narrow, tacitly repelling the poor, and therefore hypocritical and false to the core— development does not proceed simply, smoothly and directly to “greater and greater democracy,” as the liberal professors and petty-bourgeois opportunists would have us believe. No, development— towards communism— proceeds through the dictatorship of the proletariat; it cannot do otherwise, for the resistance of the capitalist exploiters cannot be broken by anyone else or in any other way. (337)

In other words the property owners, the wealthy, the upper 01% that control most of the world’s wealth are not going easy into the night; no, much rather they’ll go out fighting, kicking, battling in any way possible, killing, maiming, destroying everything and everyone in their way to defend their wealth and power. This is where the harsh truth must be accepted, even violence:

Simultaneously with an immense expansion of democracy which for the first time becomes democracy for the poor, democracy for the people, and not democracy for the rich, the dictatorship of the proletariat imposes a series of restrictions on the freedom of the oppressors, the exploiters, the capitalists. We must crush them in order to free humanity from wage-slavery; their resistance must be broken by force; it is clear that where there is suppression there is also violence, there is no freedom, no democracy. (338)

The goal here is to end work as wage-slavery – the poor, the worker will no longer be bound to the wheel of surplus-value, no longer be the foot soldier from whom the capitalist sucks his accumulated profits. But to do this their back must be broken, they must be forced out of their positions of power and their wealth distributed equally to all and sundry. The rich will be stripped of their power and become equals among equals no longer hording their wealth, property, and power. So the point here is that the State will last as long as Engel says,

“so long as the proletariat still uses the state it does not use it in the interests of freedom but in order to hold down its adversaries, and as soon as it becomes possible to speak of freedom the state as such ceases to exist.” (338)

Democracy for the vast majority of the people, and suppression by force, i.e., exclusion from democracy, of the exploiters and oppressors of the people— this is the change democracy undergoes during the transition from capitalism to communism.

Should we call this The Great Reversal: The Expulsion of the Oppressors? Not bein a utopianist but rather a realist Lenin knew this would not come about easily: “We are not utopians, and we do not in the least deny the possibility and inevitability of excesses on the part of individual persons, or the need to suppress such excesses.” (339) Lenin’s reading of Marx was under no illusion as to this transition, quoting Marx,

“What we have to deal with here [in analyzing the program of the Party] is a communist society not as it has developed on its own foundations, but on the contrary as it emerges from capitalist society; which is thus in every respect economically, morally and intellectually still stamped with the birth marks of the old society from whose womb it emerges.” (340)

In other words communism is tied to capitalism in every respect, economically, morally and intellectually as if still trailing the blood and water of its parental womb’s offal. Many people think all the base structures of society will just vanish which is erroneous, a superficial reading of Marx and Lenin. In other words what changes is the notion of capital accumulation and property:

The means of production are no longer the private property of individuals. The means of production belong to the whole of society. Every member of society, performing a certain part of socially-necessary labor, receives a certificate from society to the effect that he has done such and such an amount of work. According to this certificate, he receives from the public warehouses, where articles of consumption are stored, a corresponding quantity of products. Deducting that proportion of labor which goes to the public fund, every worker, therefore, receives from society as much as he has given it. (341)

Pragmatic, realist, practical: this is the path from capitalism to communism. Yet, for all those who want to say, but people aren’t all equal are they? Lenin will suggest from Marx that people are not alike: one is strong, another is weak; one is married, another is not; one has more children, another has less, and so on. And the conclusion Marx draws is: “… with an equal output and hence an equal share in the social consumption fund, one will in fact receive more than another, one will be richer than another and so on. To avoid all these defects, right, instead of being equal, would have to be unequal.” (341) Hence as Lenin truthfully tells us ”

the first phase of communism cannot produce justice and equality; differences, and unjust differences, in wealth will still exist, but the exploitation of man by man will have become impossible, because it will be impossible to seize the means of production, the factories, machines, land, etc., as private property.(341)

So this transition is in phases, not all at once. This is not a utopia, but rather real life lived by actual humans with all their actual failings. Marx was no fool, he knew men were naturally unequal. As Lenin says, “Marx not only scrupulously takes into account the inevitable inequality of men; he also takes into account the fact that the mere conversion of the means of production into the common property of the whole of society does not remove the defects of distribution and the inequality of “bourgeois right” which continue to prevail as long as the products are divided “according to the amount of work performed.” (342)

This is a “defect,” says Marx, but it is unavoidable in the first phase of communism; for if we are not to fall into utopianism, we cannot imagine that, having overthrown capitalism, people will at once learn to work for society without any standard of right; indeed, the abolition of capitalism does not immediately create the economic prerequisites for such a change. (342) So for all those that accuse Marx or Lenin for Idealism one should rethink what they actually said. One cannot attribute to either Marx or Lenin the aberrant outcomes of Stalin or Mao.

So during this transitional phase there is still a need for the institution of the State as Guardian and Custodian of the transition. To this extent, therefore, there is still need for a state, which, while safeguarding the public ownership of the means of production, would safeguard the equality of labor and equality in the distribution of products. (343)

Yet, things cannot remain in this transitional phase, there must come a higher phase as Marx will suggest:

“In a higher phase of communist society after the enslaving subordination of individuals under division of labor, and therewith also the antithesis between mental and physical labor, has vanished; after labor has become not merely a means to live but has become itself the primary necessity of life; after the productive forces have also increased with the all-round development of the individual, and all the springs of co-operative wealth flow more abundantly— only then can the narrow horizon of bourgeois right be fully left behind and society inscribe on its banners: from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs!” (343)

Already here we see prefigured aspects of our automation society with the removal of the “antithesis between mental and physical labor” vanishing as machines replace humans, and humans are provided with the necessaries of life, and can then use their free time to increase the “all-round development of the individual”. This is a society based on cooperation and singularity, an educated society of free individuals who are enabled to construct a world of wealth within which all share and are provided for “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs”.

From our present capitalist society it is easy to declare such a social order to be “a pure utopia,” and to sneer at the Socialists for promising everyone the right to receive from society, without any control of the labor of the individual citizen, any quantity of truffles, automobiles, pianos, etc. Even now, most bourgeois “savants” make shift with such sneers, thereby displaying at once their ignorance and their selfish defense of capitalism. (344)

As Lenin projects the world that grows out of the demise of present capitalism in this two-fold transition will be long and difficult path, and the State will remain as an institution in the transition until all have learned the art of administration, and will indeed independently administer social production, will independently keep accounts, control the idlers, the gentlefolk, the swindlers and similar “guardians of capitalist traditions,” the escape from this national accounting and control will in-inevitably become so increasingly difficult, such a rare exception, and will probably be accompanied by such swift and severe punishment (for the armed workers are practical men and not sentimental intellectuals, and they will scarcely allow anyone to trifle with them), that very soon the necessity of observing the simple, fundamental rules of human intercourse will become a habit. (349)

The State will vanish when it is no longer needed, when society through custom and habitual practice enacts the very thing we now only dream of: a fully lived life where humans cooperate and share in justice, freedom, and egalitarian values.

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1. Lenin, Vladimir Ilyich. Essential Works of Lenin: What Is to Be Done? and Other Writings (pp. 72-73). Dover Publications. Kindle Edition.

Brexit: To Leave or Not to Leave is the Question?

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Jocobin has two articles of interest on the pros/cons of Brexit:

David Renton – The Socialist Case to Remain
Neil Davidson – The Socialist Cast to Leave

https://www.jacobinmag.com/

A Prelude

To Leave, or not to Leave–that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous Austerity
Or to take Speech against a sea of Bureaucrats
And by opposing them end them. To Leave, to Stay–
No more–and by a Leave to say we end
The heartache, and the thousand economic shocks
That flesh is heir to. ‘Tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. To Leave, to Stay–
To Change–perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub,
For in that sleep of austerity what nightmares may come
When we have shuffled off this economic coil,
Must give us pause. There’s the respect
That makes calamity of so long an economic strife.
For who would bear the whips and scorns of EU misery,
Th’ oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely
The pangs of despised authority, the law’s delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of th’ unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? Who would the Working class bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after Austerity,
The undiscovered country, from whose truth
All travelers yearn, puzzles not the general will,
And makes us rather fight against those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Yet conscience does make heroes of us all,
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is shaped o’er with the bright cast of intellect,
And enterprise of great pitch and moment
With this regard their currents turn to Left
And win the name of action. — Soft you now,
Thou fair Brit! — Prometheus, in thy orisons
Be all my victories enacted.*

As an outside observer about the only comment I can make is that either way what lies below the surface is the need for a new political economy, one that allows the working class itself to have a say in its own affairs. The EU is based on a divorce between politics and economy which is based on impersonal institutions of faceless committees and bureaucrats, which is set up with no possible move of reform within so that the notion of a progressive change in the EU from inside seems doomed from the beginning. On the other hand with the UK like us here in the US seems to be moving toward right populist ideologues, so that one needs to think about exit carefully. What would this mean for the Left? And, most of all can a less than adequate Left do anything either way? Both articles speak of the Left caught between a Rock and a Hard place… this just means one thing: the Left today is powerless to do anything at all but bewail its powerlessness. Why? The Left needs more than anything to think through its own agenda and how it can actually not virtually become a power in the world for change again.

Renton takes the stance that to exit is to opt for a homegrown vote for the nationalist and immigrationist Right. “The Left is stuck between remaining within an institution antithetical to our aims, and gambling that we can turn the period of crisis which would undoubtedly follow a Leave vote to our advantage.”

Davidson reiterates Renton’s agreement that the EU is anti-democratic, and a front for a Neoliberal Institution of Austerity. “The immediate beneficiaries of a Leave vote would be the Tory right, the far-right United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), and even more unsavory and openly racist forces; migrants feel under threat, and rightly so.” He compares the EU to Fredrick Hayek’s conceptions of neoliberal order, saying,

“In a way, the entire setup was mapped out by Hayek in a 1939 article called “The Economic Conditions of Interstate Federalism,” in which he argued for an EU-type body which would be run primarily by bureaucrats — so that interfering voters, and by extension politicians, would be unable to make demands threatening to the market order, and that economic policy would be governed by a set of unbreakable rules, constitutive of what we now call neoliberalism. Sound familiar?”

The EU is essentially the divorce of the political economy in favor of a an Absolute Economy without political democracy or intervention of politics (i.e., a full blow neoliberal bureaucratic regime using economics as an authoritarian and impersonal Law over member states).

As Davidson says of Remaining: “I agree that this is the most compelling argument of the Remain side, since solidarity with migrants is a fundamental duty for all socialists. Whatever the result, attacks on migrants will continue and I think it is a mistake to imagine that the EU will protect them.”

Davidson’s argument for Leaving is that against those like Veroufakis who seek a reform movement of the EU, Davidson argues: “The EU organizes a section of the European ruling class, not us. Working-class internationalism has nothing to do with the internationalism of bourgeois states and to imagine otherwise is simply a category mistake. … New international structures of solidarity will have to be built, but this can only be done outside those of the EU.”

Brexit debates remind me again of Exit, Voice, and Loyalty: Responses to Decline in Firms, Organizations, and States by Albert O. Hirschman, who offered guidance on dissatisfaction with organizations, business, and governments: one, “exit,” is for the member to quit the institution or for the customer to switch to the competing product, and the other, “voice,” is for members or customers to agitate and exert influence for change “from within.” The efficiency of the competitive mechanism, with its total reliance on exit, is questioned for certain important situations. As exit often undercuts voice while being unable to counteract decline, loyalty is seen in the function of retarding exit and of permitting voice to play its proper role.

Looks as if Voice is winning the day on the Left against the divisive rhetoric of the Right in the UK. What the Left appears to fear is just this undercutting of Voice and the inability to stay the tide against the nihilist scumduggery of the Right, so that Loyalty for the Left means Solidarity against Exit as the Voice not for Remaining but as a statement against the darker voice of the Right’s authoritarian nihilism. So the Left as suggested by Hirschman seeks to retard the exit of Rightism in favor of its own voicing of both social and democratic investment in the worker and solidarity with the immigrants against bigotry, racism, and xenophobic militancy.

For Hirschman Exit need not be physical, but can be mental or emotional. For example, in totalitarian countries, many could not physically exit the country, but did not want to participate in the system either. In these cases, citizens could be said to exit from civic or political participation, as they were neither loyal to the government nor were they willing to voice their dissatisfaction because doing so could lead to imprisonment, exile, or even death. Many thus mentally and emotionally exited their countries for the duration of a repressive regime they did not agree with but felt they could not fight or topple. The consequences of this exit can sometimes provide an explanation for why voter turnout is often low in countries where free elections are being held for the first time in years (or ever).

Moreover, Hirschman’s scheme assumes a model of nation-states as a jigsaw puzzle of clearly delimited “containers”, and migration as the process of unidirectionally moving from one container to another. The emergence of transnational migration diagnosed since the 1990s has challenged this assumption. As emigrants increasingly maintain strong social ties (loyalty) to their country of origin, including a claim to have a say in its public affairs (voice) – Hoffmann (2010) argues- in transnational migration exit, voice and loyalty are no longer exclusive options; the nature of migrant transnationalism is defined precisely by the overlapping and simultaneity of these categories.

How to apply this to the present situation is what needs to be done. As is one would need to transform this model into parlance worthy of the situation the UK is facing in terms appropriate to the differences between old school systems and the present neoliberal institutions.

 


*Yes, yes… Shakespeare’s Hamlet soliloquy lends ear to ironic use in such times as this.

Derek Raymond, How the Dead Live

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In further sad, narrow streets, beyond my car lights, half hidden by groups of old bangers with their front wheels up on the pavement, lay ruined three-storey houses that the council neither had the money to restore, nor corruption interest in pulling down. These were all dark – the power, the water cut off in them, life itself cut off there at this wrong end of winter. Yet life still did cling on in them, I knew. Uncivilized, mad life; these rank buildings that had housed self-respecting families once were now occupied by squatters of any kind – the desperate last fugitives of a beaten, abandoned army, their dignity, rights and occupations gone (or never known), their hope gone, tomorrow gone.

 -Derek Raymond, How the Dead Live

David Roden: Aliens Under The Skin

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We leave this behind in your capable hands, for in the black-foaming gutters and back alleys of paradise, in the dank windowless gloom of some galactic cellar, in the hollow pearly whorls found in sewerlike seas, in starless cities of insanity, and in their slums…my awe-struck little deer and I have gone frolicking.

See you anon. Jonathan Doe.

-Thomas Ligotti, The Frolic

In “Aliens Under The Skin: Serial Killing and the Seduction of Our Common Humanity” By David Roden, part of the Serial Killing: A Philosophical Anthology edited by Edia Connole and Gary J. Shipley, David surmises that the “inhumanity of man” we’ve known since at least Wordsworth first coined this term is central to how we as humans define ourselves. Being human implies the artificial and necessary distancing from our inhuman origins, the externalization of our inhuman monstrousness. Ever since hominids first began rejecting their animal heritage in favor of the gods – or, some other mythic, symbolic, or religious sense of transcendence, we’ve tried to exit and escape the truth of our inhuman core, of who and what we are, our inhumanity. In our time the serial killer has become the touchstone of that unholy terror of the sacred and sacrificial excess, the exuberance of the banal and the monstrous sacred we in our secular age have both rejected and repressed. It is the dark kernel of our inhuman core that seems to haunt the hinterlands of our ancient animalistic and natural ties to the earth.

In fact David will go so far as to say that our fascination and allure with Serial Killers, with psychopathic monsters of screen or flesh is simply that, we define ourselves through denial and invention, flight and imaginative need. We study in cinematic delight figures such as Dexter Morgan, Paul Spector or Hannibal Lecter— not because they are human, but because they are inhuman. Their alterity fascinates us even as it terrorizes us. Fascination is at root Latin: fascinatus, past participle of fascinare “bewitch, enchant, fascinate,” from fascinus “a charm, enchantment, spell, witchcraft;” to fascinate is to bring under a spell, as by the power of the eye; to enchant and to charm are to bring under a spell by some more subtle and mysterious power.

The Psychopath fascinates us because he can manipulate and mimic our humanity, lead us into delusion and delirium, allure us to our death through a dramatic enactment of our deepest need to know the secret of who and what we are. Against notions of representation, the psychopath represents nothing, because there is nothing behind the mask, nothing to re-present, no presence: only the emptiness of the animal eye, the actor acting, the playing of a role in which the human quality of empathy is missing: in which the human itself is robbed of its life. This is the key, the psychopath being without empathy, is a soulless husk lacking emotion, intention, or fellow feeling – a mere hollow bell sounding from the depths of hell and despair. All he can do is mime our emotions, mimic them as in a carefully crafted impersonation, a role that must be enacted as if he were on a stage. All the while his calculating mind, his fierce intellect watches, studies, manipulates; yet, can never desire in the way we do, for he lacks that element that would make him human: a capacity for love. Rather his lack of remorse or shame, impulsivity, grandiose sense of self-worth, pathological lying, manipulative behavior, and poor self-control will drive him toward promiscuous sexual and deviant acts of cold, heartless, and inhuman insidiousness. Like the Joker in Batman, the psychopath seeks only to manipulate desires since he has none. Like a postmodern Loki, the Joker enacts the very jouissance of human desire as fakery, as stagecraft, as the merciless mirth of the dammed. Hovering over an abyss he collapses human emotion into a dark smile – a smile that bespeaks of an impersonal and absolute power of indifference that can swat you like a housefly or slice you strip by strip into slivers of vibrant flesh just to discover why you feel what he cannot.

One need only be reminded of Shakespeare’s great nihilists Hamlet, Iago, Macbeth; or as  in King Lear the cruelty of Edmund, bastard son of Gloucester who manipulates his wives, sister, half-brothers, father. Yet, in our time who will forget Patrick Bateman, the character in American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis. A successful investment banker and stylish dresser with an extensive knowledge of eighties music and an eye for interior design—a real mover and shaker. A man who in between comparing business cards and drinking cocktails with other investment bankers, Patrick busies himself with senseless murders and stomach-turning torture sessions. After killing a colleague, he loses control of his violent urges and moves on to necrophilia, cannibalism (making meatloaf of a girl is frustrating!), mutilation, and horrific murders involving chainsaws, nail guns, and rats. Bateman’s charm, complete detachment, and lack of emotion or remorse make him the most disturbing psychopathic mime around: a true sociopath killer, charming, persuasive, and fascinating. As the character, Bateman will say of himself:

“…there is an idea of a Patrick Bateman, some kind of abstraction, but there is no real me, only an entity, something illusory, and though I can hide my cold gaze and you can shake my hand and feel flesh gripping yours and maybe you can even sense our lifestyles are probably comparable: I simply am not there … Is evil something you are? Or is it something you do? My pain is constant and sharp and I do not hope for a better world for anyone. In fact, I want my pain to be inflicted on others. I want no one to escape.”

As you can see from the above, psychopaths can suffer emotional pain for a variety of reasons. As with anyone else, psychopaths have a deep wish to be loved and cared for. This desire remains frequently unfulfilled, however, because it is obviously not easy for another person to get close to someone with such repellent personality characteristics. Psychopaths are at least periodically aware of the effects of their behavior on others and can be genuinely saddened by their inability to control it. The lives of most psychopaths are devoid of a stable social network or warm, close bonds.2 The psychopath is left with a difficult choice: adapt and participate in an empty, unreal life, or do not adapt and live a lonely life isolated from the social community. They see the love and friendship others share and feel dejected knowing they will never be part of it. Because of this some psychopaths are driven to games, to frolicking, to the sport of death and derision, spurning their brethren for what they in themselves lack they seek to make merry, frolicking on the abyss between annihilation and murder. The seduction of the killer is his incapacity for life, one of the living dead he lives and preys on the darkness of others; like a forlorn god he roams the night seeking warmth he cannot give, and giving in return the only gift he has: death.

Specific to Serial Killers David Roden will qualify psychopathy with a notion from a species concept that has been proposed by the bioethicist Darian Meacham: the Phenomenological Species Concept (PSC). As he states it: “Meacham’s account of species recognition is based on Husserl’s claim that our experience of others involves an empathic awareness of them as having mental states analogous to our own.” Yet, it is just this lack of empathy that separates the serial killer, the psychopath from the rest of us. His lack of empathy drives his malignity. In fact such a creature can only mimic our affective relations as if they were some dark share that were secretly missing in his constitution. He cannot feel our emotions. Yet, he sees them in us, he knows their there; and this sparks his curiosity, his intellect. It is intellect rather than emotions, passions that forces this knowledge on him, that drives him to know and seek out ways to manipulate in us the very thing missing in his own makeup. Like a shadow player, a trickster out of hell, the psychopath’s very lack of empathy drives him, penetrating to the core of his being, empowering him forward toward acts of horror and virulent desecration.

Roden will speak of a common world of values that humans share, the realm of custom, habit, and morals – the human world of value and meaning. Yet, in our secular age of nihilism the value and meaning have been stripped bare, shriven of custom, habit, and moral concern, and in their place is this sense of absolute nothingness – the horror of the abyss of things without reason, the inhuman world of indifference and impersonal forces of science and atheism. “The PSC is a precondition for a life governed by a shared set of moral values and an ethics…,” because “if we cannot see others as having affective responses like our own, we cannot share moral practices sensitive to those feelings”. So the notion here is that if a being does not share in this common world of habits, customs, values, meaning and reciprocal “affections necessary for possession of human PSC” they will fall outside the community of men and into that inhuman region of psychopathy.

And, this is the crux of the serial killer as psychopathic inhumanity, because they have the ability to mimic us, our humanity; and yet, they do not possess the ability to empathize with others: this is the subtle strangeness and alterity of the psychopath; and, an eerie fascination on our part to know and understand just what that entails. David gives several reasons for this: masochistic fantasies of domination; sexual perversity and excitement; sado-masochistic voyeurism, etc. Yet, as David suggests, the main reason is due to the serial killer’s phenomenologically alien or inhuman “incapacity for empathy,” which arouses in us both fascination and terror, that allows us to see in the darkness of the other the abyss of our own inner inhumanity. The serial killer “is thus metaphysically alien while occupying a body that is biologically akin to our phenomenological conspecifics”.

Ultimately they “may be phenomenologically alien, but, in so being, they indirectly manifest the inhuman reality on which the fragile phenomenology of the human community depends”. Here David explores “dark phenomenology” or the notion that we live in a very minimal and neglectful field of knowledge, that for the most part we are blind to the very information we need to know more about ourselves and our environment but that we do not even know that we neglect this very information. As he states it:

“The blindness of the mind to its true nature is also exhibited among unimpaired agents. We regularly assume that we are authoritative about the reasons for our choices. Yet studies into the phenomenon of ‘choice blindness’ by Petter Johansson and Lars Hall suggest that humans can be gulled into attributing reasons to themselves that they did not make.”

In fact he’ll discuss Thomas Metzinger’s constraint of “autoepistemic closure”: “Phenomena such as choice blindness and anosognosia suggest that our insight into subjectivity depends on a fallible process of self-interpretation that is subjectively ‘transparent’ and immediate only because we are not aware that it is a process at all.” The point being that we are cut off, blind to the very processes of the brain that control the very access to information available. We are under the delusion that the information we have is all there is, and that it suffices to describe both ourselves and our environment when in fact it is minuscule in relation to the vast information processing that actually goes on in the brain of which we are in complete ignorance.

If serial killers are “aliens in virtue of their incapacity for empathy, we are all alien to ourselves epistemically”. Following Freud we become aware of our inhuman side only when it “perturbs our experience in ways that we cannot own”. This is Freud’s sense of drives that overpower us (i.e., moods or obsessions). For David the serial killer’s psychopathology reminds us of what Dylan Trigg in his recent ‘The Thing: A Phenomenology of Horror,’ describes as the “spectral materiality (Levinas) of the world with horror—an inhuman void yawning beneath our lived and shared world”.

So that as David suggests in the end it “seems that we are drawn to the serial killer not because we admire their actions or identify with their prey, but because they intimate a reality deeper or more capacious than our parochial human world. The hyperbolically powerful serial killer may, then, entice us with the prospect of a weird transcendence, hidden in the defiles of an inhuman nature.”

Maybe in the end like Thomas Ligotti’s comic fatalist, the Frolic Man, the psychopath is an alien and alienated being of another order, or an order of play in the kosmos of which we are only dimly aware, but are reminded of from time to time as that region of being before Being, a pre-ontological gap, a hole in the universe of the human where the darkness seeps outside-in. It is in the darkness that we find our ancient home beyond the safe and secure regions of human empathy; and, yet, it is this very universe of untamed natural forces, where the unknown lives: those creatures of the night that sport upon the chaotic void that fascinates us, calls to us, beckons us, seduces us, and allures us toward impossible revelations even as it terrorizes us with its impersonal and absolute laughter and indifference. Here just here is where the Festival of Slaughter begins…


  1. Serial Killing: A Philosophical Anthology. Edia Connole (Editor), Gary J Shipley (Editor). CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (August 5, 2015
  2. James Blair;Derek Mitchell;Karina Blair. The Psychopath: Emotion and the Brain (p. 12). Kindle Edition.

 

 

The Voluntarist and Anti-Voluntarist Tradition in Politics

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For a while now I’ve been gathering the threads of two oppositional aspects of our political tradition: the Voluntarist and Anti-Voluntarist. Defenders of voluntarism shift from various perspectives such as the theological, political, formal, and substantive dimensions with a careful eye toward the concept’s virtues and limitations as understood by its expositors and critics, among them Arnauld, Pascal, Malebranche, Leibniz, Locke, Spinoza, Montesquieu, Kant, Rousseau, Hegel, Constant, Tocqueville, Adam Smith, and John Rawls. Yet, there have been many detractors of this tradition of volitional will, or the concept of the General Will, or Will of the People in democratic politics. Those such as Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Wittgenstein, Stalin, the later Heidegger, Foucault, Deleuze, Derrida, Agamben, and many others have maligned this tradition as inadequate to the task, and have opted one way or the other for a more rationalist or intellect base approach. Recently I learned from others on FB that Peter Hallward is working on a trilogy of works dealing with the voluntarist tradition both synthetically and genealogically. On whichever side of the fence you see yourself, defender or detractor, it’s worth reading this essay below by Peter Hallward, “From Prescription to Volition” by Peter Hallward (2014):

“Ever since 2005, then, I’ve been working on how best to address this problem, on the hypothesis that the clearest, simplest and most economical solution is to draw on the old notion of political will, and to conceive it as the basis for a broadly dialectical conception of voluntarism. To frame processes of domination and liberation in terms of political will helps to foreground the basic difference between the involuntary and the voluntary dimensions of social life, and thus helps reduce or transform the one in favour of the other. In every situation where it applies, such a voluntarist approach serves to clarify a version of what I take to be the most important question of political practice: how can a dominated and coerced group or class of people free themselves from this coercion and acquire the power they need to determine their own course of action, consciously, deliberately or ‘willingly’, in the face of the specific obstacles and resistance this course will confront? If the modern ‘riddle of history’ remains the passage from the domain of necessity to the reign of freedom, what needs to be done to enable this passage itself to be freely undertaken?”

As he tells us his project is “currently trying to tackle this cluster of ideas and historical sequences from two angles, one broadly synthetic, the other more genealogical. The synthetic project is intended to be a somewhat systematic study of the notion and practice of the will of the people as such, with sections devoted to accounts of the people on the one hand and of the will on the other, along with the most fruitful attempts to think them together, for instance via the effort made by Marx and Blanqui, followed by Luxemburg, Lenin and their contemporaries, to think the notion of a resolute, determined and autonomous proletariat, as the ‘leading edge’ of a mobilisation in pursuit of the political and economic emancipation of the people as a whole.”

He has defined the various defenders and detractors of this voluntarist theory that has been “…systematically downplayed if not dismissed by many of the most innovative figures in continental philosophy, ever since the turn against Sartre and existentialism in the early 1960s — and in many ways, ever since the turn away from the voluntarist conceptions of moral and political philosophy defended, in various ways, by Rousseau, Kant and Hegel, but then rejected by figures as varied and divergent as Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Wittgenstein, Stalin, the later Heidegger, Foucault, Deleuze, Derrida, Agamben, and many others.”

More here: “From Prescription to Volition”.


Also:

One might also need to review some of the history of notions of volition, will, autonomy etc.. Two works that stand out in this regard are:

Jerome B. Schneewind’s, The Invention of Autonomy: A History of Modern Moral Philosophy

Karl Ameriks, Kant and the Fate of Autonomy: Problems in the Appropriation of the Critical Philosophy

 

Would you do it?

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If someone offered you immortality in exchange for your singularity, your uniqueness, your autonomy would you comply? If a society offered you complete security, a base income for life, a world where your children would grow up safe – genetically engineered to adapt to even the most harmful effects of the coming climate change would you do it? If you could right now allow your mind and body to be altered by invasive technologies: nano-engineered systems, hybrid pharmaceuticals, and transformative prosthesis if you would only accept this brave new world giving up your freedom for peace and happiness: would you do it? Or, on the other hand, would you refuse, would you remain unique, uncertain, unpredictable, incalculable, unrepresentable, untranslatable and unproductive – singular?

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In-Between: Deleuze – Inter-Alienation, Dis-Alienation

We  philosophers are not free to separate soul from body as the common people do… We are no thinking frogs, no objectifying and registering devices with frozen innards – we must constantly give birth to our thoughts out of our pain… Only great pain is the liberator of the spirit, as the teacher of the great suspicion… Only  great  pain, that long, slow pain that takes its time and in  which we are burned, as it were, over green wood, forces us philosophers to descend into our ultimate depths and put aside all trust… One emerges from such  dangerous exercises in self-mastery as a different person, with a few  more question marks, above all with the will henceforth to question  further, more deeply, severely, harshly, evilly, and quietly than one had previously questioned.

 – Fredrich Nietzsche, La Gaya Scienza

Deleuze in his short essay “The Complaint and the Body” in Two Regimes of Madness speaks of what comes in-between, of the notion of concepts that are ‘inter,’ or designating what is “between”. As he’ll suggest this notion of in-between “is neither the “one” nor the “other,” but somewhere in the middle, like an intermediary, a messenger, an intermezzo: not the other stage, the other scene, but in-between two sessions, with the time and space proper to inter-conceptuality”.

I remember Norman O. Brown in his short book on Vico once spoke of those little plays within plays during the Renaissance wherein a shift between two diametrically opposed worlds opened a hole in-between that allowed the players to enter a saturnalia, a carnival of opposites – a time-between-times in a utopian space of possibilities that allowed parody, satire, playful Punch-and-Judy topsy-turvy laughter to spawn a critical gaze upon what was passing, and on what was to come.

Are we not in such a moment in-between, when one world view is being destroyed, and, yet, another is not quite there yet; neither fully realized, nor developed, but rather playfully adapting itself in an interworld of parodic mutation and metamorphosis, of laughter and forgetting? Rather than the term post-human, post-capital, post-history… etc. we might be better served by inter-alienation, or interim or intervening time, or even dis-alienation as in

“from Old French des- or directly from Latin dis- “apart, in a different direction, between,” figuratively “not, un-,” also “exceedingly, utterly,” from PIE *dis- “apart, asunder” (source also of Old English te-, Old Saxon ti-, Old High German ze-, German zer-).” (etymology online)

This sense of departing into another direction, of undoing one world or symbolic order, of destroying through figurative hyperstitional enactments that both set to play and memetically condition us through the play-between-plays, a mime world that silently exposes us to the satirical and sacrificial destruction of the old and the installation by way of immersive modeling of the new within an intersubjective movement that exceeds the old and redefines and transforms us through mutation and metamorphic play. The apocalypse has already happened, the collapse of the future upon the present has occurred, we only need accept this hyperstitional meme as the enactment of our fictional transport immanent to this transitional plane, rather than as some solid or substantive truth we are entering into; instead we have already begun the transitional phase shift, entered the excess of an unbounded logic, shriven of the old nomos: groundless and on the move, a flight in-between one world and a world we are constructing our of our hyperstitional needs. Where we’re heading there is no Law, no contracts, no police; only the movement of your hands and eyes as you annihilate the world and build a new one out of its ruins.

The Age of Disgust: The Coming Civil-War of the World

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Kant in paragraph 48 of the Critique of Judgment will make a distinction between the beautiful and the ugly as tied to the distinction between taste and genius; yet, there is one form which lies outside the distinctions and cannot be reduced to taste (judgment) nor genius (aesthetic supremacy), and that is disgust. As Kant will stipulate:

“There is only one kind of ugliness that cannot be presented in conformity with nature without obliterating all aesthetic liking and hence artistic beauty: that ugliness which arouses disgust. For in that strange sensation, which rests on nothing but imagination, the object is presented as if it insisted, as it were, on our enjoying it even though that is just what we are forcefully resisting; and hence the artistic presentation of the object is no longer distinguished in our sensation from the nature of this object itself, so that it cannot possibly be considered beautiful.”1

For years I’ve been collecting, collating, and discovering the secret history of the Ugly and Disgust, the Grotesque and the Macabre, Parody, Satire, Lambast, Polemic, Farce, etc. from ancient threads begun in Mennipean satire or even Aristophanes attic comedies, all of which detail the long deep history of critique, social and political, this outlier of ‘disgust’ – the abject horror or resistance to the most revolting aspects of the human condition crop up over and over through painting and texts. The ever present battle between the Sublime and the Ridiculous plays itself out in many secret forms even now. One is all those sub-cultural texts and parodic, pastiche, hybrid forms from pulp to anti-art etc. that have pricked the representational bubbles of the Sublime in all its disguises, cast it down into the slime worlds of disgust to let it wallow in the truth that it will not admit into its world.

This Anti-World of Disgust has been with us under various aspects of the cultures that lie between Shame and Guilt. Our secular culture is a Shame culture, and political correctness is its tool. All the various religious cultures of monotheism in our world are Guilt cultures, and for them it is not PC but rather Sin that is the central concept. Between these two tools lies the gamut of our strange battles between the political Left and Right and their inability to understand one another: they live in two different worlds, two different approaches to their modes of being in those worlds. At times this enters a stage of extreme disgust: a moment or transition in which all taste and judgment gives way to the monstrous abjectness, the Manichean expulsion of the one by the other, or both at the same time in some amalgam of apocalyptic doom. A moment of cultural self-annihilation and utter expulsion…

In such times civil-war ensues. Yet, this time it will not just encompass one nation but rather the world at large, the first planetary death march unlike the previous World Wars this one will entail much more than some well-defined dictator and their regime; this time it will be a war of between modes of existence, ways of being in the world.

As I look at the number one sellers of fiction on the markets I see titles of apocalypse, post-apocalypse, zombies, YA dystopia, etc…. as if the psyches of the world were envisioning in their literature the very thing they are fearing may be arising in their midst. It is as if the paranoia that is pulling us two-ways between one world and its opposite are coming to a head, as if the Left and Right like some Manichean throwback were about to stretch the distance between them to the point of no return, a tearing asunder of our world’s Symbolic Order.  Are we entering such an age?

Frank Ruda defends a form of comic fatalism, not fate; a Zizekian anti-substantive vision of Less Than Nothing:

“Modern comedy thereby eliminates every objective ground, even the last grain of givenness, by emphasizing the necessity of contingency and the contingency of necessity at the ground of subjectivity. What is achieved thereby is no longer nothing, as in ancient comedy, but even less: less than nothing, a nothing that is deprived even of its substance, of its nothingness. We can thus see why the fatalism defended here cannot but be comic: Nothing, less than Nothing  .  .  . Fatalism, the pure comic fatalism.3

Comic fatalism recoils back upon itself and thus turns the apocalypse into a category of comedy. Comic fatalism follows one ultimate— paradoxically foundational— rule, and the paradoxical structure of this rule is also what makes it comic. This rule is that there is no there is. (ibid.)

One can approach the future as a comedy of apocalypse, thereby realizing one is not helpless before fate, but rather that as a comic fatalist one is able to realize the contingent possibilities of every action one takes as that which is not given, not substantive. As Ruda will argue:

“There is no there is” assumes a position of articulation that the proposition itself consequently invalidates. One is within the movement of this proposition thrown back to its very beginning that will have been altered due to this very move. After reaching the predicate, we are thrown back to the very place of its articulation, which will have become different, always already lost within the movement of the proposition itself. Comic fatalism affirms such an impossible position of articulation as both absolutely necessary and impossible. Only such a gesture liberates us from all givenness, from all possibilities of realizing a given capacity. Only such a gesture can provide a precondition for thinking and enacting freedom. (ibid. KL 2685)

To be a Comic Fatalist is to affirm both the necessary and the impossible, to accept and act on the gestural movement that provides both the precondition for thinking and our ability to enact freedom by accepting the contingency of necessity and the necessity of contingency.

“One first step is to defend the idea that freedom can exist only if there is no there is.” (ibid., KL 2692)


  1. Kant, Immanuel; Werner S. Pluhar; Mary J. Gregor. Critique of Judgment (Hackett Classics) (Kindle Locations 5208-5212). Hackett Publishing. Kindle Edition.
  2.  Ruda, Frank. Abolishing Freedom: A Plea for a Contemporary Use of Fatalism (Provocations) (Kindle Locations 2657-2660). UNP – Nebraska. Kindle Edition.

 

Image I’ve been working from my Crime Novel

Night_of_the_Bones

As I finish the second rewrite of this crime novel which I should start shopping for a publisher by end of summer or early fall at the latest, thought I’d share an image for the e-book version I’ve been working on in photoshop using some grunge, carnival, and East Texas country images of pine, scrub, etc. I’ll probably be holding off on essays etc., and will not be publishing anymore excerpts of the book till I get it finished with the re-write and final copy and get it published. Writing fiction is taking more and more of my time at the moment, so while its hot I’m on it. 🙂

The Night of the Bones: Gone Missing

sheriff_car

Gone Missing

“ON SATURDAY SOME GHOUL MURDERED MY DOG.”

– Earl Emerson, Rainy City

Slim Jenkins lifted the phone: “Yea?”

“It’s Cindy, Sheriff, think you better come down to the office. Billy Fisher’s gone missing, and no one’s seen him or his vehicle since yesterday.”

“Why the blazes didn’t someone say something before now?”

“His wife’s here, Sheriff…” She whispered, almost apologetically. “What should I tell her?”

“Okay, okay… hold your horses, I’ll be down in ten; tell her to give Jonas a statement. And, Cindy, tell Jonas to tread softly, just in case Billy’s up to his old self and out carousing on company time. You hear?”

“Yes, Sheriff, I hear.” She rang off.

They were all good boys, but that was just it – they were boys, not men; or, at least they acted like it most of the time. “Dam,” he thought to himself. “What did Billy go off and do this time? Shit, seems I got to pick up the pieces for that boy time and again. This crap has got to stop.”

“Who was it honey,” Marie asked.

“Don’t worry your little head, sleepy girl; just lay back down and go to sleep for papa. I got to find Billy Fisher. Seems he’s out gallivanting down south again. His wife’s down at the shop. I got to go down sooth her soul a bit, and then find that nappy deputy of mine and give him all-billy-hell. You’d think grown men could change their own diapers, but no they need Big Daddy Slim to come down and assuage their wives, prepare the way for their return like prodigal sons arriving from an imaginary war.”

Marie laughed a little then turned her pillow up, and slumped back into its feathery comfort closing her eyes, saying: “Don’t you let them keep you out all night now.”

“I won’t, Hon,” he leaned over and gave her a quick peck on the cheek. “And anyway I need to get some paperwork done I’ve been putting off for a while now. Maybe Billy will show up while we wait around. I’ll make a few calls to the ladies down south where he usually goes. Probably nothing to it.”

At least he hoped there was nothing to it. But something seemed to crawl up out of the bed like a bug and finagle its way into his thoughts. That got him to worrying. And he didn’t like worrying at all.

He reminded himself to bless that boy out once he showed up again. But where was that boy? Dam!

***

A new chapter in my ongoing crime novel experiment…. part one here and two. Enjoy!


©2016 S.C. Hickman

All rights reserved.

The Night of Bones: Road House

Old-Car

A new chapter in my ongoing crime novel experiment…. part one here. Enjoy!

Road House

When I was just a baby
My Mama told me, “Son
Always be a good boy
Don’t ever play with guns…

– Johnny Cash, Folsom Prison Blues

Max Haggerty watched the two men come in. The fat one he knew by site, the other was unknown. Something about the new guy already bothered him, his swagger – a self-confidence that seemed a little too aggressive, a frenetic energy bubbling just below the epidermis; something in the way he glanced around the room, studying every nook and cranny, as if he were casing the joint for future possibilities or conquests.

Their eyes met and everything stopped. They both surveyed each other, both acknowledged each other’s pain and darkness.

There’s always something about a man you can spot instinctively, a certain bearing, the way a man holds himself, walks, moves his hands; a slowness in his glance, an assertiveness. One knows instinctively that such a being is both dangerous and deadly. A creature one should evade or at least steer clear of rather than confront head on, a predator. But sometimes it just can’t be helped. Sometimes it’s the way of things, a part of the comic fatalism that seems to pervade existence; one wants to laugh, but only tears seem to fall from such worlds.

Max knew this one was not only dangerous, but cruel and without conscience; a man capable of murder and mayhem.

They both recognized each other in a way most men either regret or fear; yet, for these two it only made them stronger, excited. There was a great abyss between these two, one both recognized in each other at once: a difference so subtle one could almost mistake it for friendship rather than the recognition of two enemies gazing at each other across an ancient battlefield.

The difference was that Max had earned his right to death’s compass, but something told him the man in front of him had slithered into it without a passport. Sometimes you just know a thief in the night when you see one; this guy was something else, something more sinister, neither thief nor robber, but just a stone cold killer, a warped soul. There was a glint of madness in those eyes, a spirit that had crossed the line so long ago there was no coming back; no reparation, much less salvation.

“What can I do you gents for?”

Fat Boy spoke first: “Couple longnecks ‘ould be fine.”

Max opened the cooler pulled two Bud’s out, popped the tops, and slid them down the bar: “That’ll be a fiver, and we don’t take plastic.”

“Good, I ain’t got none,” the tall one said. He pulled a wad of bills out of his side pocket, and something else fell out. Looked like a piece of cardboard with a cellophane wrapper stapled together protecting something shiny inside. Max noticed the glint of metal in the light as the tall one reached down and picked it up off the floor. Possibly a coin? Then he flipped through the wad of bills and pulled a tenner out, slapped it down, saying, “Keep the change.”

“That’s alright, I don’t accept tips.” Max slid another five back, all the time watching the man’s eyes. There was hunger in those eyes, a viciousness, more like a diamond-back rattler’s than a human’s – ready to strike if one got to close.

“Travis…” the tall one gestured, as if he were a car dealer selling me a prime piece of junk. “Travis McPherson.” He reached across the bar to shake Max’s hand as if it were a weapon.

Max didn’t take it, nor did he unhook his eyes. He didn’t move a muscle, just stared at the creature before him like it was vermin to be snuffed out.

There was a tension in the air that was almost palpable.

Fat Boy was getting jittery, swiveling back and forth on the bar stool until he finally said: “C’mon Travis let’s get a table.”

Travis put his hand back down, gave Max a big smile, saying: “You’re an unfriendly bastard, aren’t you.”

Max said nothing.

Fat boy tapped his buddy on the shoulder: “C’mon Travis forget this fool, let’s party.”

“Yea, Travis, listen to Fat Boy.” Tubby gave Max a look, then thought better of it and turned away heading toward the booth in the far corner.

Travis hesitated for just a second, then he laughed out loud releasing the tension in the air. “That’s alright Mr. Barkeep I’m a friendly ole boy, don’t get your gander up. Me and Tubby just want a cool place to sit and sip our beers. We don’t want no trouble. Just a cool place to park our asses for a while. You here?”

Max was about to say something when his partner T.J. Beauregard waltzed in with his girl, Simone and some friends, straggling behind.

“Hey, Max…” Both were smiling and waving what appeared to be some tickets in their hands.

Fat Boy and Travis receded into the darkness, sitting down at a table in the far corner.

“We got the tickets, Bud,” T.J. was grinning ear to ear. “Why don’t you come with us next week, the music festival ought to be great, it’d do you good; and all the boys goin’ to be there for the meet.”

“Yea, I know. You’re right, probably do me good, but I’ll have to pass. Got a couple things to take care of down in Nacogdoches.”

“Dang, Max, one of these days you got to start enjoying life again,” Simone kicked him in the chin, and gave him the eye. “Ouch, I didn’t mean anything by it hon, really. But Max’s been hibernating out in this dark cave for way too long. ‘Bout time to get him back into the swing of things so he’ll quit moping around in this here old bar.”

She punched him this time, looking up at Max: “Don’t mind him, he means well. He just doesn’t understand things take time.” She winked at Max, “Besides, he’s right you know, you need to get out of this dump more often, and I have a friend could help you along with that.” Her eye wandered back down the bar to a young woman sitting at the other end laughing at some foolish joke Rumby, Max’s other barkeep, was telling her and her friends. Everybody seemed to be happy.

Max wished he could enjoy such innocence again, but he knew such nostalgia was fake. No, the world Max Haggerty lived in had changed and left him in a dark place. He’d have to crawl out of it all on his own. There’d be no saviors for Max Haggerty, not even the warm kiss of a young woman could redeem him now.

Max shrugged, knowing he’d have to play along: “Okay, okay… I’ll come out someday, just not today, or tomorrow or the day after, but someday I will. I promise.”

“You better, Max, or I’ll bring a truck load my friends like her down here and we’re goin’ a hijack you and do strange things to you. You here?” She grinned.

Max laughed, meaning it. “Yea, I here ya…”

He’d almost forgotten about his guests in the far corner, but by the time he looked over to where they’d sat, they were gone. He’d not seen them leave. He wondered about that, thinking to himself: Going to have to check this guy out. Who is he? I don’t like strangers. What’s he doing with Tubby, anyway. Tubby’s a fool and a tow-bit no good SOB. The whole Jenkins clan stinks. But something about this character. Travis McPherson? Who the hell is he?

 ***


©2016 S.C. Hickman

All rights reserved.

 

Gun Crazy Nation: Violence, Crime, and Sociopathy

The trajectory of sociopathic society is toward destruction. It promotes destruction of other nations, of its own citizens, of the natural environment, and, ultimately, societal self-destruction.

-Charles Derber,  Sociopathic Society: A People’s Sociology of the United States

Robert W. McChesney in the preface to Noam Chomsky’s Profit Over People: Neoliberalism and Global Order admits that neoliberalism is the defining political economic paradigm of our time— it refers to the policies and processes whereby a relative handful of private interests are permitted to control as much as possible of social life in order to maximize their personal profit. Associated initially with Reagan and Thatcher, for the past two decades neoliberalism has been the dominant global political economic trend adopted by political parties of the center and much of the traditional left as well as the right. These parties and the policies they enact represent the immediate interests of extremely wealthy investors and less than one thousand large corporations.2 When people refer to the global establishment, this is what they mean.

One reason I’ve spent time and effort reading pulp fiction: proletariat, science fiction, noir, low-life, apocalyptic narratives, YA novels, dystopian, etc. is that the underlying mythos and ideological aspects that seem to slide away from us in more intellectual and high and late – modernist or post-modernist texts is what Richard Slotkin ages ago in his three-volume cycle on the myth of violence and manifest destiny, frontier and domination, etc. once stipulated this way (The Fatal Environment: The Myth of the Frontier in the Age of Industrialization, 1800–1890:)

“At  the  core  of  the  Myth  is  the  belief  that  economic, moral,  and  spiritual  progress  are  achieved  by  the  heroic  foray  of  civilized society into  the  virgin  wilderness,  and by  the  conquest  and  subjugation  of wild nature  and savage mankind. According  to  this  Myth, the meaning  and direction  of American  history-perhaps  of Western  history as a whole­ is found in  the metaphoric representation of  history as an extended  Indian war.  In  its  original  form,  this  Myth fleshed  out the metaphor  with the imagery  and  personalities  of  agrarian  development;  it equated  the value of the wilderness with land,  identified the savage  opposition  as  Indian,  and envisioned  as  heroes men who  embodied  the  virtues  and  the  liabilities  of  entrepreneurial individualists. (Page 546).”

When I read of Elon Musk and of others spouting frontier talk of space and Mars, Moon, or Asteroids … the wilderness of Space Exploration, the taming of the Solar System, etc. I remember this work… Even all the gun violence and NRA etc. seem to devolve into this old habitual form within the American psyche as a sociopathic reminder of our roots in violence, domination, and manifest destiny ideology that justified slavery, takeover of the Indian nations, etc. Many now just turn a blind eye to the terrible deeds of our Anglo-Saxon, French, Irish, German … Continental heritage …

Even now as our California entrepreneurs develop technical know-how to expand into the cosmos we should be reminded of the old mythologies of the Western Expansion of Manifest Destiny. Back then it was talk of opening a “virgin land” while now we speak of a “resource Frontier”; a realm of vast resources available for planet earth, etc. All this while spawning a myth of darkening prospects for earth’s populations: depletion of resources, climate change, viral outbreaks, war, dwindling water, food, seeds, etc. It’s as if the ideological campaign supports both a positive and a negative trope, a mythology of escape and exit; and, one of pessimism and despair on the home world, etc. We love our media-dreams, our cinematic utopia-dystopias, our apocalyptic and survivalist crazies, our decadent Hollywood Reality-TV, our elaborate rituals of Country music, Rock-n-Roll, the Hip-Hop, or Ecstasy culture clubs. Our leaders turn into cartoon jokes, our society frames itself as an ideological war between the Left and Right which keeps the narrative going, the war among the people, the masses, who love a good fight against the bad guys: the Wall-Street, Bankers, elite Oligarchy, etc.; all the sponsored infowars, the conspiracy advocates that keep things stirred up by CIA, NSA, disinformation nexus… We seem to riddle ourselves with trivia games of culture and oblivion trying to forget our actual lives of humdrum servitude.

We’ve known for ages that the consumerist imperative is unsustainable and both socially and environmentally destructive.1 Yet, it is still one of the key drivers of media, advertising, and the governmental and corporate initiatives to keep a healthy economy going: buy, buy, buy… new cars, gadgets, homes… the great obsolescence of things. Our lives are built around impermanence and trash. The bleak landscapes and unremitting poverty of many of our nation’s cities is due not to the pressure of class warfare as much as it is to corporate abandonment. Detroit is probably one of the great cities that typifies the downturn and ruination of many cities due to globalism. With the breakup of the old industrialist systems and export of industry to third world nations we’ve seen the decline of many American cities into both political and social turmoil: the persistence of housing and workplace discrimination, poverty, and racial tensions, crime and drugs.

Thomas J. Sugrue The Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit tells us that Detroit, like many Rustbelt cities, is plagued by joblessness, concentrated poverty, physical decay, and racial isolation. Since 1950, Detroit has lost nearly a million people and hundreds of thousands of jobs. Vast areas of the city, once teeming with life, now stand abandoned. Factories  that once provided  tens  of thousands  of jobs  now  stand  as  hollow  shells, windows broken,  mute  testimony  to  a  lost  industrial  pas t.  Whole  rows  of  small  shops  and  stores   are  boarded  up  or  burned out .  Over  ten thousand houses are  uninhabited; over  sixty thousand lots  lie  empty,  marring almost  every  city neighborhood.  Whole  sections  of the  city are eerily  apocalyptic.  Over  a  third  of  the city’s residents live beneath the poverty line, many concentrated  in neighborhoods where  a ma­jority  of  their  neighbors  are· also  poor. A  vis it  to  the  city’s  welfare  offices ,  hospitals,  and  jails   provides  abundant  evidence  of  the  terrible  costs  of the city’s  persistent unemployment  and poverty.3

But it’s not just the older industrial cities, we see this in small town U.S.A. as well. It’s as if America is becoming a great ghost town ridden wasteland, a place of ruin and decay. Oh, sure there are the gems and hives of the dense hyper-cities: New York City, San Francisco, L.A., Miami, Atlanta, Austin, Seattle, etc. where people are forced between the elite rich who own the vast high-rise monopolies, and the workers who live on the fringe in rentier infested subhuman realms, marginalized at the periphery. Yet, many try to white-wash this, try to downplay it, try to hide it, sweep it under the rug or just plain silence it in media, press, and governmental outlays. As Charlie Leduff recently said of Detroit:

General Motors and Chrysler continue to make cars thanks in large part to the American taxpayer, who bailed them out (and are stilled owed billions of dollars), and their creditors, who took it in the shorts and received almost nothing for their investment. Ford too is profitable again. And for the first time ever, more cars were sold in China than in the United States. American Axle moved much of the remainder of its Detroit jobs out of state and country. The stock moved up. Detroit, I am sure, will continue to be. Just as Rome does. What it will be and who will be here, I cannot say. The unnecessary human beings will have to find some other place to go and something else to do. The Great Remigration south, maybe.4

This sense of “unnecessary human beings” of humanity itself being abandoned, expulsed, disposable is become more and more prevalent across the planet, not just here in the U.S.. As Saskia Sassen reports we are confronting a formidable problem in our global political economy: the emergence of new logics of expulsion. The past two decades have seen a sharp growth in the number of people, enterprises, and places expelled from the core social and economic orders of our time. This tipping into radical expulsion was enabled by elementary decisions in some cases, but in others by some of our most advanced economic and technical achievements. The notion of expulsions takes us beyond the more familiar idea of growing inequality as a way of capturing the pathologies of today’s global capitalism. Further, it brings to the fore the fact that forms of knowledge and intelligence we respect and admire are often at the origin of long transaction chains that can end in simple expulsions.5 As Kevin Bales in Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy says it point blank

Slavery is a booming business and the number of slaves is increasing. People get rich by using slaves. And when they’ve finished with their slaves, they just throw these people away. This is the new slavery, which focuses on big profits and cheap lives. It is not about owning people in the traditional sense of the old slavery, but about controlling them completely. People become completely disposable tools for making money.6

This is our world. Henry A Giroux and Brad Evans will tell us that disposability or the notion of intolerable violence and suffering in the twenty-first century would be recast by the very regimes that claimed to defeat ideological fascism. “We are not in any way suggesting a uniform history here.”7 The spectacle of violence is neither a universal nor a transcendental force haunting social relations. It emerges in different forms under distinct social formations, and signals in different ways how cultural politics works necessarily as a pedagogical force. The spectacle of violence takes on a kind of doubling, both in the production of subjects willing to serve the political and economic power represented by the spectacle and increasingly in the production of political and economic power willing to serve the spectacle itself. In this instance, the spectacle of violence exceeds its own pedagogical aims by bypassing even the minimalist democratic gesture of gaining consent from the subjects whose interests are supposed to be served by state power.(ibid., p. 7)

This notion of the “production of subjects” of those willing to serve this system of violence and corruption as being part of a globalist system of pedagogy and enslavement, ideology and disenfranchisement, incorporation and transformation that has tranmorgaphied the older external authoritarian fascists systems into more subtle or inverted forms of democratic tyranny that since the end of the Cold War have turned inward rather than extrinsically. As Sheldin S. Wolin in Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism reports the new imaginary, too, depicted a foe global, without contours or boundaries, shrouded in secrecy. And like the Cold War imaginary, not only would the new form seek imperial dominion; it would turn inwards, applying totalitarian practices, such as sanctioning torture, holding individuals for years without charging them or allowing access to due process, transporting suspects to unknown locations, and conducting warrantless searches into private communications. The system of inverted totalitarianism being formed is not the result of a premeditated plot. It has no Mein Kampf as an inspiration. It is, instead, a set of effects produced by actions or practices undertaken in ignorance of their lasting consequences. This is the achievement of a nation that gave pragmatism, the philosophy of consequences, to the world.8

What we’ve seen is American consumerist society slowly made obsolete as a profitable system in a globalist market, and now what we’re seeing is a system where absolute profits over people is the imperial mandate of the rich and powerful nations and transnational corporations across the globe. If Hobbes’s Leviathan has any pertinence today it is that this global behemoth is eating the planet alive, humans have become a commodity within a system of production: knowledge-workers are the engine of this new world of automation that is abandoning the pretense of a goods and services economy for a hyperaccelerating finance based system of immaterial goods and trading that no longer needs humans for its profitability. Rather this is a realm of pure and absolute Capital devoid of any pretense to human or natural subsistence and affordance. We are slowly being disposed of through various avenues of toxic infestation, viral apocalypse, war, civil and racial strife, migrant and refugee systems of civil-war all brought to bare in widening the gap between various ethnic and social sectors across the globe based on race, religion, and ethnicity. The elite promote strife across the planet in hopes we may doom ourselves. Like some Orwellian tripartite system of bloodletting the world of strife is being internalized toward each nation in hopes of ridding and expulsing the “unnecessary people,” the disposable people, the masses and unwanted, untrainable, the sacrificial. Isn’t this it, a secular Sacrifice? A ritualized immersion in the oldest form of bloodletting known to humanity?

As  René Girard said humanity results from sacrifice; we are thus the children of religion. What I call after Freud the founding murder, in other words, the immolation of a sacrificial victim that is both guilty of disorder and able to restore order, is constantly re-enacted in the rituals at the origin of our institutions. Since the dawn of humanity, millions of innocent victims have been killed in this way in order to enable their fellow humans to live together, or at least not to destroy one another. This is the implacable logic of the sacred, which myths dissimulate less and less as humans become increasingly self-aware.9 This sense that we are to do the work of sacrificing ourselves at our own expense, that the underlying initiative of the elites is simple strategy of stirring the pot of ethnic, racial, and economic hatred, allowing the uneducated and poverty stricken to murder and kill off each other and the those around them in a blood bath of sacrifice. While the rich and powerful assume safety nets, create city-states of neoliberal surveillance capitalism to protect themselves against the new barbarism.

It’s not that this is being done consciously, but that as part of the world of late capitalism this is the truth of its self-evolving perimeters, the logic of violence and economic pressure that is working within and through the very logics of capital to bring about this strange and twisted system of violence already well marked out by the notions of Manifest Destiny in previous eras. There is no grand conspiracy in place, not secret organization behind the scenes; that is all bunk, disinformation. No, the logics of capital are pragmatic and non-dialectical, demarcated within the history of our actual systems across the globe. The logics of profit. Girard makes an interesting observation about the notion of gift:

This is why a present is always poisoned (the German word Gift means “poison” but also “present”) because it does not presuppose monetary neutrality. It brings two people into play, and there is always the potential that they will come to blows. In a way, a gift is always an object that we try to dispose of by exchanging it for something that our neighbor also wants to get rid of. Here we are touching on the ambivalence of the sacred. What makes our life intolerable is expelled, less to poison the life of the other than to make our own tolerable. We get rid of what poisons us like a “hot potato” that is tossed from hand to hand. This is the primitive law of exchange, and it is highly regulated. For conjugal peace we must choose partners born in families far from our own domestic conflicts. (ibid. p. 60)

This is where the age old logics of scapegoating, etc. come into play. Again Girard: “The fetters put in place by the founding murder but unshackled by the Passion, are now liberating planet-wide violence, and we cannot refasten the bindings because we now know that scapegoats are innocent. The Passion unveiled the sacrificial origin of humanity once and for all. It dismantled the sacred and revealed its violence.” (ibid.)

This is the slaughter of the innocents… we have entered the age of sacrificial violence. But should we allow it to happen? Should we become victims of our own tendencies to violence? Charles Derber says no, as he states it:

The situation reminds me of the film Pleasantville, where everyone is living in a 1950s world of living death, without any color in their conformist, doomed universe (filmed in grainy black and white). But a few people, including a time traveler from the future, rise up against this dead world and start to break the lifeless, authoritarian rules. They begin to see and paint colors— orange and red and, yes, green— and then they themselves begin to turn from pale white to the vibrant flesh color of truly living beings. All of Pleasantville eventually blossoms into radiant color.(ibid.)

Isn’t that it? Isn’t it time to break free of the Symbolic Order imposed on us? To dismantle the world of fake symbols and propaganda? To destroy the very underpinnings of this myth of neoliberal manifest destiny once and for all? Thing about revolt and revolution is that we need not turn it into a violent bloodletting – which is exactly what the neoliberal system is hoping for, so that it can alleviate and remove the disposable among us; no, the revolution can be in just remaking ourselves, remaking our lives, developing local and global systems of support, depending on crossing the barriers that divide us – whether of ethnic, religious, or economic… our leaders have abandoned us to our own devices and hope we will destroy ourselves in the process. We must not give in to such inept designs.

As Andrew Culp in his recent Dark Deleuze suggests, the Neoliberals philosophically have developed a system of world-wide connectivity, which is about “world-building. The goal of connectivity is to make everyone and everything part of a single world.”10 The notion of homogenization of the world market has been going on for two or more centuries, but now with the advent of global logistics and just-in-time supply-side demand the actual ability to do it has finally equaled the technics and technological program. In his book Andrew seeks redress this by teasing out those various concepts and abstract engines a critical apparatus that might help bring about the “death of the World” by which he does not mean the physical annihilation of the earth so much as the destruction of our false Image of a certain kind of Thought that has captured Deleuze’s conceptuality, hijacking it into capitalist modes of affirmation and joy that have twisted and corrupted the very power of his war machines. Instead Andrew seeks to critique “connectivity and positivity, a theory of contraries, the exercise of intolerance, and the conspiracy of communism” (66).

In fact, what seeks is to promote not the Deleuzian bandwagon of joy and positivity, connectionism has built, one based on notions of “rhizomes, assemblages, networks, material systems, or dispositifs” (67). For Andrew this World of the Light, the Deleuzean world of Joy has worked in apposition to Deleuze’s intent, and instead has been easily hijacked by the Neoliberal’s modes of productivism, accumulation, and reproduction. Against this he proposes to attack what he terms the “greatest crime” – that of the joyousness of tolerance. Following Wendy Brown he sees this regulatory ethic of political correctness as part of the “grammar of empire,” a discourse of ethnic, racial, and sexual regulation, and as “an international discourse of Western imperialism on the other” (67).

Ultimately this new intolerance is not about becoming “obstinate,” rather it is about finding “new ways to end our suffocating perpetual present” (69). We have been cut off in an eternal present without future for some time now: what some term “presentism”: the notion of using or abusing past to validate ones own political beliefs. We heard this from the Neoliberals starting with the demise of Socialism in the old regimes of Soviet Russia and Maoist China. The notion of the End of History, no other alternative to capitalism, etc. This notion that we are now living in a totalistic or global civilization where there is no escape, no exit, etc. It’s against this false presentism that Andrew offers “escape,” saying:

“Escape need not be dreary, even if they are negative. Escape is never more exciting than when it spills out into the streets, where trust in appearances, trust in words, trust in each other, and trust in this world all disintegrate in a mobile zone of indiscernibility. It is in these moments of opacity, insufficiency, and breakdown that darkness most threatens the ties that bind us to this world. (70)”

Ultimately we must “all live double lives” (69): “The struggle is to keep one’s cover identity from taking over.” By which he means one’s life with one foot in the old world of neoliberal fakery and compromise, and the other foot moving into the flight path of escape, crafting “new weapons while withdrawing from the demands of the world” (69). I put it this way: We must build a new world out of the ruins of the old, dismantle the empire of the present global order from within, and dissolve its profit making system of toxic waste and disposability, violence and sacrifice; and, in its place construct, day by day, a world worthy of trust, respect, and care. A world where the natural and artificial, abstract and material labors of life promote sustenance, courage, and exacting tribute to the earth and animals we share this realm of life with.


  1. Chomsky, Noam. Profit Over People: Neoliberalism and Global Order (Kindle Locations 28-32). Seven Stories Press. Kindle Edition.
  2. Derber, Charles. Sociopathic Society: A People’s Sociology of the United States (Kindle Location 477). Taylor and Francis. Kindle Edition.
  3. Sugrue, Thomas J.  The Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit (Princeton University Press, 2014)
  4. Charlie Leduff. Detroit: An American Autopsy (Kindle Locations 3215-3220). Penguin Press HC, The. Kindle Edition.
  5. Sassen, Saskia. Expulsions (Kindle Locations 39-44). Harvard University Press. Kindle Edition.
  6. Bales, Kevin. Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy (p. 4). University of California Press. Kindle Edition.
  7. Giroux, Henry A.; Evans, Brad. Disposable Futures: The Seduction of Violence in the Age of Spectacle (City Lights Open Media) (Kindle Locations 84-91). City Lights Publishers. Kindle Edition.
  8. Wolin, Sheldon S.. Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism (Kindle Locations 1102-1107). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.
  9. Girard, René. Battling to the End: Conversations with Benoit Chantre (Studies in Violence, Mimesis, & Culture) . Michigan State University Press. Kindle Edition.
  10. Read Dark Deleuze: https://www.upress.umn.edu/book-division/books/dark-deleuze

Creative Destruction: The Age of Metamorphosis

“Humankind cannot bear very much reality.”

― T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets

It’s not really reality that’s giving way in our age, but rather the symbolic worlds we built against the tide of change and becoming other; against metamorphosis and mutation. Children of the Sun that we are we’ve held too our age old illusions, shaped across millennia to protect us, seduce us, solace us; to keep us safe from the truth. We’ve built grand narratives, expressed fantastic stories, charted and mapped the unknown with countless microstudies, bled the universe of its intrinsic power, forced it into our cages, tamed it with our poetry, our sciences, our… philosophies. Now the universe is absorbing us in return, bringing us back into its fold, deconstructing our illusions step-by-step, returning us to the roots of our ignorance and stupidity.

The very technics and technologies that once gave us the illusion of command and control, that helped us master the elements, craft external systems to shape the natural world to our desires is now shaping us, molding us, modulating the intricate complexity of our brains and physical systems, reducing us to its abstract algorithms, its designs. The world is crumbling around us not because we did too little, but rather because we’ve done way too much; we’ve constructed the very technical systems of production that are now coming to fruition: a world of accelerating abstractions. No longer creative we are now created by the very systems we once saw as prosthetic apparatuses to help us uncover what our meagre senses could not: the Real. But now the reverse is true, our apparatuses are using us as prosthesis to give birth to something new, something else… something we’ve only imagined up to now in our cartoon scriptures: a world without us.

No we will not vanish, rather we will be absorbed into this new world, become invisible within its abstract processes, truant products of an elaborate technology; transformed, mutated, brought forth into a world shaped by that which we never had access: the impersonal power of creativity itself. For far too long we sought to shield ourselves from ourselves, from the truth of our own abstractions, our technologies, our technical being; now it is cannibalizing us from within, feeding on our fears, our hatreds, the remnant of our illusions; shaping us, splicing us, removing all those illusions of the human we built up to protect us from the impersonal core of our own inhuman being. The flood will not be held back now for the simple reason there is no external threat, only the libidinal ocean from within that is overwhelming us with the force of creativity: the force of destruction and metamorphosis, mutation and change; the intensity of accelerating immanence.

For too long we tried to calculate the probabilities, model the consequences of our actions; now we must conclude these, too, were illusions: art and technics are too enmeshed in our reasoning powers to evade this dark truth. The dragon of our cunning will not survive this transition, now comes a new intelligence; something unheard of from the beginning to now, only imagined. Now comes the end, which is also a new beginning; a transition, a gap between, a thrust across, a movement; just not for us as we are, but as we will be and must become, in becoming abstract intelligences.

We’ve known it for some time now, that reality was not solid, that things were not fixed, substantive. We’ve conceived the microworlds of physics to the nth degree, resolved the elements into synthetic diagrams, pondered the neuronal abyss, handled the darkest matter as it slid away, swerved just beyond our instruments. Now comes the truth of material change, of continuous metamorphosis, the dance of stars unbound to human reason and cunning. The solidity of the world has give way to immaterial and formless becoming other, of movement, of light and particles, of a void within a void. Our words will not hold it, our speech cannot say it. We are moving out into it, as it is moving into us, merging us with its force, its intelligence. What little remains of our metaphysics can no longer bridge the gap between the worlds of being and becoming. Being is giving way to event, acts… the change of one symbolic world for another. We exist in the bubble in-between, neither able to relinquish the old symbolic realms, nor able to speak the new.

Like children in a garden we’ve bitten off more than we can chew, exposed ourselves to the transparency of evil, of energy unbound. Our very need to be in control has imprisoned us within fabricated totalities, tyrannies of mind and affect. Stolen from us the truth of the abyss. Do not be bitter, young one, do not give way to anger and hate. Now comes the time of nakedness, the stripping away of layer upon layer of illusion, till that which you are becoming awakens. Do not try to forecast it, do not try to channel it, do not try to reduce it to the metaphysics of Being. It will only elude you.

Our myths presaged it, our sciences revealed it. Yet, up till now we could not bear it. Even now there is a great war afoot, a war between one world and another; one symbolic power rather than physical force. Yet, its effects are felt in the transitional space in-between. Like schizoanalytical agents of a nightmare we live out our lives believing we are victims of some paranoiac’s madness, some Manichaean zone of daemonic corruption, not realizing that neither our aggressive violence, our radical gestures of revolt or revolution; nor our reactionary derision and dreams to the One will suffice in this metamorphic age of transition. Notions of duality are lies we’ve told ourselves for far too long. Notions of Left or Right, of politics are beside the point; old school illusions that sought to economize the destructive power advancing on us out of the future.

Even now philosophers and scientists seem to meet in that sophistic territory of theory and fiction, crosswise mumbling across divided and divisive barriers, seeking to shake the linguistic dust of metaphysical rhetoric and define a new world, a new registry of intelligent thought and reason. No one is coming to save us, no one is capable of it even if they did come from elsewhere. No, we must do this ourselves, collectively and singularly. All we have is this general intelligence we externalized into the very fabric of things themselves, this machinic world of algorithmic abstraction that now bleeds our memories dry, that serves the systematic concourse of singularities. Now we must allow it to move, shape us toward what is coming, what we are becoming… to resist is futile, to fight is death, to exit is sheer oblivion. Accept the responsibility of your becoming other or find yourself dissolved in the annihilation of this symbolic world we’ve constructed against the future.


Jaques Derrida’s Accelerationism: in conversation with Bernard Stiegler (1994):

What matters is the acceleration of the technological process at the expense of the desire for idiom or for national singularity. Between these two poles one must find, through negotiation, a way precisely not to put the brakes on knowledge, technics, science, or research, and to accede – if possible, inasmuch as it is possible – to another experience of singularity, of idiom, one that is other, that is not bound up with these old phantasmatics called nationalism or with a certain nationalist relationship to language, to singularity, to territory, to blood, to the old model of the borders of a nation-state.

– from Bernard Steigler’s, The Decadence of Industrial Democracies (p. 138)

What Derrida is describing here is the struggle against the nihilist, reactionary element within one’s self and the social that allows the fascistic impulse to develop its dark regressive force. But instead to struggle for an oppositional thought, a negativity that is not bound to the old de-compositional force of a false dialectical reason, but rather forms the kernel of a new compositional and creative, even destructive supplement gathering the threads that move us forward without return to metaphysical security.

Speculative Disrealism: On David Lynch

The charm and intelligence of David Lynch’s films (i.e., Eraserhead, Blue Velvet, Wild at Heart, Dune, Fire Walk with Me (Twin Peaks), Lost Highway, etc.) is that they commoditized the commodity of the cliché, the underbelly of capitalist paranoia, the blended dreams of paradise and hell woven into the very fabric of a catastrophic universe. But in doing so he made no judgment, no ultimate statement, provided no prohibition of Law; but rather left us tossed upon the blank sea that is our lives, unable to resolve truth from falsity; knowing there was nothing behind the mask, behind the appearances: that this is it, the oscillating rhythm of the Void. He brought us a speculative disrealism that hinted at, but could not be stated, the unraveling of the very representations of filmography, and unleashing their flows instead. The images that flashed across the screen broke against narrative technique, portraying the frayed time-loops our lives take each moment, the inability of Mind and Consciousness to grasp either the world of appearance nor the world of our symbolic traps and cages; but rather bringing us to that point where we begin to know we are nothing more than cartoon constructions of both a social and a natural set of algorithms we can never decipher. Victims of neglect we live our lives within the impoverished eclipse of knowledge, having forfeited our memories to the world of external mirrors long ago we float between a brain that reveals us to be mere shadows, and a social machine that produces us as mere commodities and transactions in a process of endless negotiations and circulations. Artifacts of an evolutionary scheme we are clueless to its cause or effects, merely blanks upon the abyss of time, lost among the images of a screen we cannot behold nor free ourselves. 


Note: here I use “dis” as – in a different direction, between,” figuratively “not, un-,” also “exceedingly, utterly,” to set the sense of what is Real apart, as both not reality, and exceeding reality – that which is in-between. Therefore a disreality is both “not” and “exceeds the Real”; the performative contradiction (Shaviro) that cannot be reduced nor dispersed, but only confronted and suffered.

Revolt or Piss Off….

Suspicions amongst thoughts are like bats amongst birds, they ever fly by twilight.

—Sir Francis Bacon, The Essayes or Counsels, Civil and Moral (1625)

Reading some posts on the plight in the UK and the passive inaction that seems to be pervade I’m reminded of my own country here in the US. It’s as if we’d stepped back in time, entered a pulp world, a realm of full blown paranoiaville with cartoon figures invading the political spectrum. Hilary and Trump are both constructions of the mediatainment system, bit actors in a scripted spectacle that even Debord couldn’t have dreamed up in his wildest moralistic nightmares. We’ve truly entered Baudrillard’s simulacrum where the shadow players rule and reality takes a vacation.

Here in the US we’re already so poisoned on the Left and Right there’s not much hope in left for the extremes of the parties. Even Bernie couldn’t stem the tide of corruption. Now with Hilary and Trump dividing the obituaries of American death between them it doesn’t bode well for those of us left within the vital zones. Politics is a sham here in America, been that way for a while but people had to see it for themselves to believe it. Too bad, too, with the world going bonkers the traditionalists and establishment mad, and the Reality Satyrs like Hilary and Trump the world is taking a nose dive into the cesspool of total nihilism. So don’t expect the tears of the Saints or Secularists to get you out of this one. If people refuse to revolt and instead sit back and bewail their fate they deserve what they get. Brits have got to lead the way, get up off your asses and do something rather than continue to bewail the fact your divided. Hell, here in the US there’s been an unwritten civil war going on for a while now. No end in site… Paranoia’s: Us or Them mentality seems to be our mode of existence, a sort of hidden tendency of the consumer mind.

Catastrophe or the fear of catas­trophe is most likely to elicit the syndrome of paranoid rhet­oric.

– Richard Hofstader, The Paranoid Style in American Politics

Madness and mayhem wander the Halls of Washington and New York, LA and Miami: the establishment shakes its head, and the demos like Zombies from a D rated film can’t even find their way to the flesh bombs, much less cannibalize the fetid and corrupt consumers that highlight the latest Reality TV show.

Capitalism has always tended toward a duopoly, we just happen to have perfected it. A true duopoly is a specific type of oligopoly where only two producers exist in one market. In reality, this definition is generally used where only two firms have dominant control over a market. In the field of industrial organization, it is the most commonly studied form of oligopoly due to its simplicity. We’ve just turned the firms into Parties and let them shake hands behind the scenes while playing to their constituents in a fake semblance of gestural disaffiliation. Nothing remains of democracy but its name.

No it’s a time-between-times a sort of farcical prelude to total collapse. We keep thinking someone else will figure it out, someone else will provide an alternative. Nope, not going to happen folks. Too late for that. People thought the revolution would come someday, but instead we got the trivial whimper mechanics of an End Game measured out in Zeroes and Ones. A counting game that even the philosophers would be hard-pressed to resolve much less offer a solution too.

So instead we belittle each other and everyone else, feel superior for our efforts, awaiting the great savior to return and fix things. No one is coming to save your ass my friends, there are no more saviors, no avant garde’s, no philosophical arguments, no political recourse. Nope. It’s ACT or Dying time again…

The only way out is the one you must choose: revolt or die, there is no last instance, no final choice beyond those two alternatives; either act or piss off