The Philosophy of Terror: Names, Power, and Dissimulation

Capitalism is still accelerating, even though it has already realized novelties beyond any previous human imagining. After all, what is human imagination? It is a relatively paltry thing, merely a sub-product of the neural activity of a species of terrestrial primate. Capitalism, in contrast, has no external limit, it has consumed life and biological intelligence to create a new life and a new plane of intelligence, vast beyond human anticipation.

—Nick Land, Fanged Noumena: Collected Writings 1987 – 2007

Why should we accept such a mad prognosis? Why even allow such thoughts of alien invasions from the future, of Time-Wars and agents of some far flung Techno-Commericium of the future rewriting and reprogramming the past to its own benefit? Metafictional possibility, hyperstitional realization? Land as a student of the Left would awaken from its dark Transcendental Miserablism realizing that,

‘Means’ and ‘relations’ of production have simultaneously emulsified into competitive decentralized networks under numerical control, rendering palaeomarxist hopes of extracting a postcapitalist future from the capitalism machine overtly unimaginable. The machines have sophisticated themselves beyond the possibility of socialist utility, incarnating market mechanics within their nano-assembled interstices and evolving themselves by quasi-darwinian algorithms that build hypercompetition into ‘the infrastructure’. It is no longer just society, but time itself, that has taken the ‘capitalist road’.1

As Nietzsche would reject his youthful Idealism and love of Wagner, Music, Art and the deep songs of the tragic world of Greece, Land would awaken from the drug infested squalor of his secular mysticism, his violent feminism, and his Marxian voyage into the heart of darkness. A Kurtz who had gone feral and joined the daemonic forces of the world, a rat and werewolf of thought who had bled his body through the vats of amphetamine hell to end in a perfected nihilism – void and emptied of self and life: a vision of the kellipot, those evil husks that capture the light of the cosmos within the cage of matter where intelligence steeped in the dark energy and dark matter of time would accrue that rebellious chaosmos of the thermospasm. Instead of breakthrough he’d ended in breakdown, broken, schizd, shaken by the forces of the Outside.

Speaking in third person as the ‘ruin’, exposing the contours of his mental self-exile and self-emptying and abandoning the House of Reason for the insane climes of daemonic worlds he offers an admission,

It had pledged itself unreservedly to evil and insanity. Its tool of choice, at that time, the sacred substance amphetamine, of which much can be said, but mostly elsewhere. After perhaps a year of fanatical abuse it was, by any reasonable standard, profoundly insane. (FN)

And, yet, having come this far, pushed the limits of ego-death, followed the deregulation of Reason and Logic to their end game, striven to overcome the entropic pull of two millennia of false infinities he came to know ‘ruin’. Yet, no where does he admit failure, no where does he castigate the journey, the dark tidal ride into the heart of his own personal thermospasm. No. For Land like Bataille before him he’d learned the lesson of total erasure.

I stole Vauung’s name because it was unused, on the basis of an exact qabbalistic entitlement. Yet, at least ‘up’ here, Vauung still confuses itself with me, with ruins and tatters. This might change. Names have powers and destinies. (FN)

In Michel Surya’s intellectual biography of Georges Bataille he mentions the use of pseudonyms throughout the career of this civil servant who would write under the names of Lord Auch, Louis Trente, Pierre Angélique, etc. Surya asks: What does a pseudonym do? He answers:

It hides. But it also breaks with the formality of a name that has been handed down. It does not simply abstract a writer momentarily from the civil, social and perhaps affective grip of his forefathers, it symbolically puts them to death by depriving them of the posterity through which they could claim to survive themselves. To don a pseudonym, even momentarily, would the be a sovereign action, breaking with the heritage and the debt (with God, that is!), an act of pure expenditure, bearing witness to a prodigality in which ostentation, paradoxically, is more important than dissimulation. (MS: 89)2

In a post on Outside In Land entitled Vauung we learn,

There’s a horror story I’m writing (slowly), developing from the central conceit that the ‘monster’ (Vauung) is the war. It feeds upon escalation, zig-zagging between antagonists, to extinguish any inclinations towards peace. It’s part Apocalypse Now, part Blood Meridian (“War is God”), part other stuff … It’s not going to be finished for a while.

For years Land has seen the core invasion of Capital as an alien invasion from the future guided by (Spinoza’s God / Nature) an AI or Optimized Intelligence of inhuman power seeking to produce and modify the temporal order in its favor. A Time-War ensued. We seem to be in the midst of this temporal war without even being aware of it. He’ll speak of memes and hyperstitions as parasitic systems that discover their power against entropic decay as manifest replication in cyclic infestation. He’ll link to an old article on the Philosophy of War reposted on Obsolete Capitalism’s site (here).

In the first sentence we learn in a sudden reminder of Surya’s comment on the pseudonym as an act of hiding, that “In a reality at war, things hide. The alternative is to become a target, a casualty, and thus – in the course of events – to cease to be. When war reigns, ontology and occultation converge. The oldest of all alliances binds survival to the shadows.” I remember years ago reading The Militarization of Peace an essay by the Iranian philosopher Reza Negarestani. In it he speaks of “the rise of a new wave of terrorism which exploits its own dissolution, making a weapon of the doctrine of Taqiyya or strategic (dis)simulation, dismantling the theatrical aspect of the battlefield and selecting civilians as primary targets and ‘molecular battlefields’. This tendency threatens not only global civilian survival but the very horizon of survival or living (in its most basic, abstract sense) in general.  It makes survival itself a field of exploitation for extremist terrorism.”

In our Time-War scenario in which advance machinic intelligences of the future are probing, manipulating, transforming, rewriting the scripts, modifying, editing, publishing and disindividuating (Stiegler) the human species as part of some unknown and unknowable project we come upon Land’s early formulation:

In a war there can be no philosophical innocence (and there has never been philosophical innocence). Even when epistemology pretends to concern itself with things that we just happen not to know, its objects infect it with dissimulation, camouflage and secrecy, making it complicit in the transmission of the lie. It plays out war games of concealment and exposure, disinformation, distraction, and feint, entangled in the complex skein of signal manipulation and evaluation known to all militaries as ‘intelligence’.

In Communiqué Two of the extant Ccru: Writings 1997-2003 we come across the underlying premise of their project: “We think everything interesting happens on the periphery, outside the standard modes of ‘developed’ existence.”3 In fact they stipulate and expand on this saying,

Ccru engages with peripheral cultures not because they are ‘down-trodden’ or oppressed, but because they include the most intense tendencies to social flatness, swarming, populating the future, and contagious positive innovation, hatching the decisive stimuli for the systematic mutation of global cybernetic culture. (Ccru)

Against the world of Leftist discourse of that era which was controlled by academic ideologues whose postmodern authoritarian systems objectified the Other within an encoded and controlled discourse well-regulated by a set of post-structuralist systems of knowledge and power the Cccru would situate itself on the Outside working not at representing the Other but of allowing the others to invade our worlds, infect us with their own scripts, bring forth their own realms in the colors of their own cultures. In fact moving from Deleuzeanguattari modes of “virtual materialsm” to Fernand Braudel’s broad sweep of capitalism and its inner history to the memes of H.P. Lovecraft mythos and cycle of Chthulian Gods to Jaques Vallee’s Ufology as hyperstition they would cut their teeth on fringe science and theory-fictions: “Ccru feeds its own researches back into its own microcultural production. Its basic tool in this respect is ‘pulp-theory/fiction hybridity’ or Hyperstition.” (Ccru)

Digital hyperstition is already widespread, hiding within popular numerical cultures (calendars, currency systems, sorcerous numbo-jumbo, etc.). It uses number-systems for transcultural communication and cosmic exploration, exploiting their intrinsic tendency to explode centralized, unified, and logically overcoded ‘master narratives’ and reality models, to generate sorcerous coincidences, and to draw cosmic maps.(Ccru)

This sense of breaking away from the staid academic torpor and control systems of the culture industries that had totally shaped philosophy, the arts, critical work, etc. for generations was at the core of this experimental enclave. It was also the moment when the digital worlds of the networks were first making their appearance across the globe in the late 90’s. Ultimately hyperstition became a mode of working in the digital mutation and metamorphic ocean of cyberspace:

According to the tenets of Hyperstition, there is no difference in principle between a universe, a religion, and a hoax. All involve an engineering of manifestation, or practical fiction, that is ultimately unworthy of belief. Nothing is true, because everything is under production. Because the future is a fiction it has a more intense reality than either the present or the past. Ccru uses and is used by hyperstition to colonize the future, traffic with the virtual, and continually re-invent itself. (Ccru)

As we move down the rabbit hole we learn that Ccru was ultimately an “unbelievable exercize in hyperpunk pulp-occultism and dark-side cyber-jargon, splicing chunks of an impending calculus into fake memories of hell” (Ccru). Coming upon this now most of our hypernormalised populace would run for the nearest exit seeing in it pure and unadulterated gibberish and madness. And, yet, there was a method to their madness: “Whatever or however it is called, Cyber-hype libidinally invests its own semiotic, propagating fictional quantities, tagging artificial agencies, and making itself up as it goes along, whilst dissolving production into cultural synthesis.” (Ccru)

Further explorations tomorrow…

  1. Land, Nick. Fanged Noumena: Collected Writings 1987 – 2007 (Kindle Locations 8922-8927). Urbanomic/Sequence Press. Kindle Edition.
  2. Surya, Michel. Georges Bataille An Intellectual Biography (Verso, 2002)
  3. Ccru. Ccru: Writings 1997-2003 (Kindle Locations 78-79). Time Spiral Press. Kindle Edition. (Ccru)