Subterranean Utopia: The Destruction of Reality

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.

—Andrew Culp,  Dark Deleuze 

Karl Mannheim in his classic Ideology and Utopia defines the utopian imaginal in its ideal form as no-place, the place beyond our world, a “state of mind,” a psychological world rather than a real political possibility that one is seeking to realize against the current state of the world:

A state of mind is utopian when it is incongruous with the state of reality within which it occurs. This incongruence is always evident in the fact that such a state of mind in experience, in thought, and in practice, is oriented towards objects which do not exist in the actual situation. However, we should not regard as utopian every state of mind which is incongruous with and transcends the immediate situation (and in this sense, ” departs from reality “). Only those orientations transcending reality will be referred to by us as utopian which, when they pass over into conduct, tend to shatter, either partially or wholly, the order of things prevailing at the time.

The last sentence is the thrust of his argument, and should be attended too in that there is a whole tradition of revolutionary thought that underlies this need to transcend the current state of affairs of one’s political age. And, yet, against Mannheim’s notion of transcendence, I’d turn it toward a more immanent and subterranean need not to seek a beyond, but to uncover what is already hidden, the occult world of obscure forces that exist in the interstices of the political and socio-cultural strata, the gaps and cracks where a secret order of the world is situated not in some absolute Outside but in the very fabric of the world itself.

Continue reading