Game Players in the Cosmic Night

Mark Fisher in one of his essays Eerie Thanatos on the work of Nigel Kneale and Alan Garner implies that long ago humanity was abducted out of historical time into a timeless mythic traumatized time-world as game players in a deadly game of chance and necessity; and, yet, forgetful of our roles we’ve become utterly oblivious of the patterns that move us through the dynamic and repetitive motions of endless traumatic time-loops. Like comic and tragic jesters we unconsciously align ourselves to the eternal return of mythic forms shifting red or blue among the time-worlds, playing out ancient and catastrophic dramas for the pleasure of malevolent forces in the endless darkness of the cosmic night:

The impression we form is that it is not that linear time perception or experience that has been corrupted by trauma; it is that time “itself” has been traumatized — so that we come to comprehend “history” not as a random sequence of events, but as a series of traumatic clusters. This broken time, this sense of history as a malign repetition, is “experienced” as seizure and breakdown; I have placed “experienced” in inverted commas here because the kind of voiding interruption of subjectivity seems to obliterate the very conditions that allows experience to happen.

It is as if the combination of adolescent erotic energy with an inorganic artefact … produces a trigger for a repeating of the ancient legend. It is not clear that “repeating” is the right word here, though. It might be better to say that the myth has been re-instantiated, with the myth being understood as a kind of structure that can be implemented whenever the conditions are right. But the myth doesn’t repeat so much as it abducts individuals out of linear time and into its “own” time, in which each iteration of the myth is in some sense always the first time.

…the mythic is part of the virtual infrastructure which makes human life as such possible. It is not the case that first of all there are human beings, and the mythic arrives afterwards, as a kind of cultural carapace added to a biological core. Humans are from the start — or from before the start, before the birth of the individual — enmeshed in mythic structures.

Like dark gods who have fallen into our own traumatic void we follow each others lives even as we die each others deaths. Gifted with forgetfulness our memories serve only the energetic dynamo at the heart of our unconscious desires. Game Players in the endless Cosmic Night we seek to let the Outside seep into our cold minds, indifferent to the slippage of time revolving in our inner being we seek neither redemption nor triumph, only the annihilation of all desire. And, yet, that is the one thing in the Kingdom of Death one cannot extinguish: desire. This is the eternity of our hellish paradise…

If one were to seek out one novel that brings such a thought together it would be Fritz Leiber’s The Big Time… A war is underway to determine the fate of the universe. Both sides use time travel to change the course of historical events to suit their own ends. These opposing powers, known only as the Spiders and Snakes, exist outside of our known time-space continuum, and thus are able to move freely throughout space and time as we know it. They recruit soldiers and agents by plucking people out of their mortal existences in regular time and offering them a sort of conditional immortality as spatial-temporal nomads if they fight in this universal conflict known as the Change War. Outside of our universe exists an isolated pocket of space-time that serves as a recuperation station (kind of like a USO center) for the Spider soldiers. A motley crew of characters end up together at this facility, including a Nazi commandant, a Roman legionnaire, a Civil War soldier, an ancient Greek amazon, a prehistoric moon creature, and a Venusian satyr. Though they’ve all come to this way station for rest and relaxation, they soon find themselves faced with a predicament possibly even more perilous than the war that rages outside.

  1. Mark Fisher, The Weird and the Eerie (pp. 96-97). Repeater (January 31, 2017)



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