A Politics of the Accident


In the very near future, and I stress this important point, it will no longer be war that is the continuation of politics by other means, it will be what I have dubbed ‘the integral accident’ that is the continuation of politics by other means.

—Paul Virilio

Paul Virilio once called for the creation of a Museum of the Accident to fight our habituation to horror and violence, and our daily overexposure to terror, in the name, not of some preventive war, but of a preventive intelligence that would help us deal with both natural and artificial disasters. Maybe what we need in our age is not a museum but a Politics of the Accident to envision a society of the Pharmakon that provides solutions against the entropy of our blind and foolish human proclivities to deny the accident coming at us from so many future worlds.

Not to diminish the impact of this viral infestation I’ve been thinking through the notions of the ancient Greek use of Pharmakon. Pharmakon, in philosophy and critical theory, is a composite of three meanings: remedy, poison, and scapegoat. The first and second senses refer to the everyday meaning of pharmacology (and to its sub-field, toxicology), deriving from the Greek source term φάρμακον (phármakon), denoting any drug, while the third sense refers to the pharmakos ritual of human sacrifice.

Taking the Covid-19 virus into consideration as a wake up call for our civilization one imagines an actual political and social change across the board of the known world in this three-fold event. As said above, not to diminish the actual and real impact to human suffering and lives we should as well see this as an opportunity to open a world dialogue on how best to proceed with other and even more deadly futurial impacts. How to remedy this situation? How to set in place international and global protocols to stem the spread of such dark impacts? Nothing was in place until after the fact. Why is humanity so slow in anticipating and defending itself against the various well-known and unknown impacts arising out of natural (actual and organic/anorganic) and unnatural (artificial and technological) environs? We always seem to end up in a reactionary mode when such things happen, rather than being proactive and protentive. Why?

For thirty years at least the impact of a viral infestation has been discussed in book after book with dire warnings, but only when it has happened do we discover how the entire planet was ill-prepared for such an event. No protocols in place for travel, emergency funds for study and remedy, etc. And the unexpected impact on economics across the board. Why do humans always react rather than act? Why do we continue to live in denial of so many futurial impacts and dismiss the political and social need for protocols in a civilization that for all intents and purposes is blind to its own future demise in the face of such dark portents?

Maybe this is the moment we need to force political leaders to take the various world impact threats seriously and enact world legislation (real protocols with political, economics, legal and social ramifications)? Why are humans so slow to act? Why do they live in denial of such deadly impacts? Faced with a global scientific community that has reiterated for sixty years of the coming impact of Global Warming and Climate Change we do nothing but talk talk talk… now that we are faced with a pandemic we realize that there are no protocols in place even for known and accepted threats of viral impact. Isn’t it time for us to act responsibly for the future? Realize that many of the natural and technological impacts of humans in the Anthropocene are real and actual and that we have made only lip service to this futurial threat against life and humanity?

One doesn’t need to be a pessimist to realize we as humans live mainly in denial and delusion. We always act after the fact rather than in anticipation. Why?

The Ancient Sublime

What about those devoured by the flames within them?

—E. M. Cioran On the Heights of Despair

As you know if you’ve followed me for a while I’ve studied both the deep routes of pessimism and nihilism to their conclusion. That we are living in the age of completed nihilism under computational and surveillance capitalism etc. I’ve realized in the end one can either live with the bare and unadulterated truth of our insignificance in an indifferent cosmos or not. We all have our delusions and anchors, diversions and false trails; and, yet, without these we are nothing, nothing at all. So what if all our ancestral struggles for knowledge and wisdom comes to naught? What if it was all a nice pretty lie to keep us going? So? Shall we just sit in this nothingness and weep? Or shall we begin again to reconnect to these deep roots and routes of the human mind and intellect, affect and the irrational? Or just hollow out the linguistic traces like good late idiot philosophers and horror writers and strip the world of its human meaning, and along with it humans themselves? I guess in the end this path is no longer of use to me while the sublime world of art and thought keeps me interested.

If one is not enthused about something one is already dead. I choose to continue… and, yes, I’m not an anti-natalist nor a full blown heroic or unheroic pessimist. Both these lead to uncreation and suicide of the singular and universal thing we call the human. In many ways pessimism is the central philosophy of capitalism rather than its antagonist. Sadly capitalism in the extreme leads to both an anti-life and a world indifferent to human want and need. At heart it is driven by calculation and risk the twin operatives of a world of pure death in the Freudian sense of absolute circulation and repetition. Maybe it comes down to William Blake’s notion “70 years a worm and then we die,” that’s the truth of it nothing more. But what we do with those seventy years is produce something that is not the universe… an anti-world filled with art, music, and life. That’s our truth… accept or reject it. It matters not. But it gives our life meaning even if it is all a sweet lie. That’s all we have: our lies against time and death. That is the central truth of the ancient Sublime…

Death is Inevitable, but life…

To burn always with this hard, gem-like flame, to maintain this ecstasy, is success in life.

—Walter Pater

Luckily I’ve lead a solitary existence for years so it’s never been much of an issue up here in the mountains. I’m in that over the hill club of risk for this dang Coronavirus, having diabetes and certain chronic ailments along with a nod to age 68. About the only people I see are my sister and her children from time to time, my own living far off in various cities. For me it’s the bi-monthly jaunt to the grocery store that is the only source of contact with the unknowns. The way I see it if it’s my time to part the earth so be it. As for fear who has time for it… I have too many things to occupy my time in reading, writing, and just working through this thing called existence. In many ways I’ve become Stoical in the last years accepting life on its terms not mine, realizing that come what may I as a singular creature will in the end die like all creatures. It’s not about death or fear, it’s about life and how much one can put into it with what little time one has. Maybe I’m still a Paterian at heart:

“One of the most beautiful passages of Rousseau is that in the sixth book of the Confessions, where he describes the awakening in him of the literary sense. An undefinable taint of death had clung always about him, and now in early manhood he believed himself smitten by mortal disease. He asked himself how he might make as much as possible of the interval that remained; and he was not biassed by anything in his previous life when he decided that it must be by intellectual excitement, which he found just then in the clear, fresh writings of Voltaire. Well! we are all condamns, as Victor Hugo says: we are all under sentence of death but with a sort of indefinite reprieve--les hommes sont tous condamns mort avec des sursis indfinis: we have an interval, and then our place knows us no more. Some spend this interval in listlessness, some in high passions, the wisest, at least among “the children of this world,” in art and song. For our one chance lies in expanding that interval, in getting as many pulsations as possible into the given time. Great passions may give us this quickened sense of life, ecstasy and sorrow of love, the various forms of enthusiastic activity, disinterested or otherwise, which come naturally to many of us. Only be sure it is passion–that it does yield you this fruit of a quickened, multiplied consciousness.  Of such wisdom, the poetic passion, the desire of beauty, the love of art for its own sake, has most. For art comes to you proposing frankly to give nothing but the highest quality to your moments as they pass, and simply for those moments’ sake.”1

  1. Walter Horatio Pater. The Renaissance: Studies In Art And Poetry

Redefining Materialism

The predominant philosophical struggle occurs today within materialism, between democratic and dialectical materialism—and what characterizes dialectical materialism is precisely that it incorporates the idealist legacy, against vulgar democratic materialism in all its guises, from scientist naturalism to the post-Deleuzian assertion of spiritualized “vibrant” matter. Dialectical materialism is, first, a materialism without matter, without the metaphysical notion of matter as a full substantial entity—in dialectical materialism, matter “disappears” in a set of purely formal relations. Second, despite being materialism without matter, it is not idealism without an idea—it is a materialism with an Idea, an assertion of the eternal Idea outside the space of idealism. In contrast to idealism, whose problem is how to explain temporal finite reality if our starting point is the eternal order of Ideas, materialism’s problem is how to explain the rise of an eternal Idea out of the activity of people caught in a finite historical situation.1

As Adrian Johnston – a close reader of Zizek’s work, suggests: “I would suggest reading this assertion alongside Žižek’s thesis, central to Absolute Recoil, that “the only way to be a true materialist today is to push idealism to its limit.” In this instance, the only way to be a true Marxist historical and dialectical materialist today is to push Hegelian absolute idealism to its limit.”2

Against the Platonic notion of an eternal realm of Ideas, Zizek harbors the notion of Ideas arising out of a very real and concrete event and interaction between actual material participants (i.e., rather than Ideas as possibles to be realized, he portrays Ideas as the production of actuals). Against non-dialectical forms of scientific naturalism (i.e., democratic materialism in his parlance) dialectical materialism enters the maelstrom of Idealist thought and pushes it from within till it becomes its opposite much like the ancient I Ching pushes through the cycles and poles of male/female in a veritable enantiodramia.

  1. Zizek, Slavoj. Absolute Recoil: Towards A New Foundation Of Dialectical Materialism (p. 73). Verso Books. Kindle Edition.
  2.  Johnston, Adrian. A New German Idealism: Hegel, Žižek, and Dialectical Materialism. (p. 134)  Columbia University Press; Reprint edition (September 3, 2019)

The Age of Unthought

Our tears squander nature, as our terrors do God . . . but in the end, they squander ourselves.

Emile Cioran, A Short History of Decay

There are no thinkers anymore, only algorithms perpetrating disruption of all thought. The digital externalization of knowledge has liquified memory, mixing it with predigested formalisms that replace thinking with collective barbarism and madness. Julius Caesar was the first to understand that cultures were based on memory and mimetic ritual, so destroyed the great groves of the Celts tribal knowledge centers where the Druids had transmitted and internalized thousands of years of cultural thought. After that the Celts dissolved into fragmented cells easily reformed by the progressive warlords of Rome. We have done the same in digital time, synchronizing minds through a process of externalization and divestment of singular thought into a massive electronic data world controlled by algorithms and filters.

The age of Books is dead, now comes the mathematical time of synchronous minds controlled by artificial selection and social Darwinism the likes of which will leave humans mindless and without reason. Our progeny will be devoid of thought and live under the assumed world of external masters of data. Already the slow growth of filters (censors) guide our media systems through carefully hidden algorithms that shape our minds to the economic control vectors of a world of dread and apprehension. We are no longer shaped by the memory of cultural symbols, but by the protentive algorithms of artificial thought measured not in time but light.

Why I love Weird Tales

Nothing can change our life but the gradual insinuation within us of the forces which annihilate it.

Emile Cioran, A Short History of Decay

One reason I love weird tales and the horror community is that it anchors one in despair; it does not try to absolve it or deny it, rather it heightens it and allows one’s despair a voice and a community of travelers who share the dark forebodings of our decaying era. Dread has been a central feature of human existence ever since the first panthers stalked our ancestors in the long nights of the jungle, and now in our late hour in the midst of nameless terrors abounding we all cling to the anchors and diversions of shared memory and vision we term horror not as escape but as a coping mechanism and defense against the mindless zombification of life under capitalism.

High Priest of the Hyperstitional Complex


“Even if we think of religions or psychedelic ideations as little more than fictions, fictions have a self-engendering power to shape reality. The play of as if, which is very similar to the science-fiction premise of what if, can produce remarkable reality-warping effects. Indeed, the intertwining of reality and fantasy has become a crucial feature of what some scholars of religion now identify as “postmodern” or “hyper-real religion”—”

—Erik Davis, High Weirdness

Having grown up in the sixties in all its excess, traveling and thumbing my way from city to city across America like most hippies of my generation, and partaking in the psychedelic ensemble of various drugs LSD, Peyote, Psilocybin, Vine, etc. this new book by Davis is like a vintage exploration of what psychedelia did to open our awareness to the plant kingdoms and its consciousness changing powers of awestruck wonder. That the world of such things was outlawed by the prevalent reality police, and the world moved on to a dead heap of capitalist death camps for sleepers is beyond the point. In this book one meets the fringe and their inner light, the changes of a few who carried the madness into our world like troubadours of some strange realms where heaven and hell begin to shake hands like old friends. Most of us live in sub-worlds of lesser fiction now, bounded by the ideological blinkers of dark lords of commerce, not knowing that the prison keepers are themselves fools and con men whose day is coming to an end. May works like Eric’s once again shape us to an awakening of the psyche from its lethargic sleep and allow humans to seek out the mad worlds of psychedelia and high weirdness.

Phantom Airfields – Christopher Slatsky

It all promised a life far more exciting than what was available here. Of better worlds where mysteries were benign, and parents couldn’t be destroyed in one brief moment.

—Christopher Slatsky,  The Immeasurable Corpse of Nature (Phantom Airfields)

I’ve been waiting to afford the paper back copy of Christopher Slatsky’s new offering The Immeasurable Corpse of Nature published by the good folks at Grimscribe Press. It arrived today and I’m relishing the moments ahead in which I will savor the dark and exploratory imaginings of these weird tales from a master who has been to the heart of darkness and back again.

I’ve written a short piece on his earlier work Alectryomancer and Other Weird Tales.

I was going to wait to work through all of these tales but on reading the first in the series Phantom Airfields I was so deeply impacted by its deft handling of a dark subject of grief that I had to get down in words what I felt, what memories it awakened in my own mind.

What does one do with grief so palpable that it takes over not only one’s mind, but one’s complete existence? A grief that slowly erodes the barriers between sanity and insanity, leaving one in a dark and surreal world of nightmares without end? In a world where coping is not an option, and the only path forward is a return trip to an old WWII airfield of phantoms and darker dreams? This is the world of a young father whose only son has suddenly vanished into the inexplicable and impossible landscapes of nightmare. In such a world facts no longer hold our attention, only the most outlandish theories and scenarios will keep us going. If the mundane truth is revealed to us, a truth so apt that it smacks us in the dark places of our souls we must not accept it. No. We cannot accept such truths where child rapists and murderers, sadists and psychos exists on the edges of awareness.  We must seek out others, more impossible truths, fantastic tales of spacemen and alien abductions; yes, only the strange and improbable will keep us holding to a hope in our hopelessness.

On the surface we see the unraveling of a father’s mind, marriage, job, and existence slowly devolving into nothingness. But this is just the surface tension of the tale, the bare and minimalistic anchor of its narrative. It is the other tale, the tale of loss and tragedy, the undermining of both mind and landscape, the intermingling of those surreal breaks and psychotic interweaving’s that filter the world and our own thoughts and images in a realm in-between. It’s the place of no-place, this strangeness that brings with it a forbidden knowledge that no amount of therapy of common sense reasoning will ever touch.

Randall’s story of loss is our story as well. Have we not all lost something, someone? Have we not all clung to the desperate hope that we can reverse this dire process, somehow turn the clock back, retrieve the past from its cold recesses and lift it into our present moment. Regrets. Failures. The slow and methodical unraveling to our minds as we deny the present and seek out the temples of memory and desire. Sitting in his truck at the edge of an old airfield our protagonist ponders the world of pain: “Life doesn’t just pass from living to non-living; there were quiet moments in between, little snatches of sleep and dream and hope along the way. Such thoughts helped him get through each day.”1

Isn’t this what we all do? Seek out those few thoughts that will get us through each day? Otherwise we’d all end it right now, wouldn’t we? Certain landscapes become inscapes of our mind and memories commingle to shape our lives, give us back again certain indefinable thoughts. A geography of the imagination and imaginal: “This geography drew him in, spoke in a language that refused to be ignored. Here the ground kept luring him back, seducing him to walk among the broken buildings.” (ibid.) Randall returns again and again to this site, this place of no-place where his son vanished one day inexplicably into thin air. It’s the grief and madness of this loss that has left him in utter despair, ruined his marriage, his job, his life. Only this secret haven of snow and waste, a ghost world of phantoms and old WWII planes and buildings in disarray will serve his needs.

Filled with such grief he is tormented by aliens and spacemen, toys and children’s playthings. The real world of detectives, investigations, lurid photo books of dead children’s corpses, none of this will hold him anymore. Randall does not want the truth, he needs his fictions, anchors and supports of madness and insanity are the only thing that will keep him alive now. “He’d stopped returning the detective’s phone calls. Cooperating with the investigation meant accepting their interpretation of events. He was done sifting through photos of children’s corpses. Done with everything.” (ibid.)

In such states of mind reality is the last thing one wants. No. In the world of grief one only wants escape, fantasy, the drift of nonsense and sense commingling in the artifices of edge lands and ruinous landscapes, portals in-between worlds where the possibility of awakening that lost memory may be the only thing that can keep one alive. And yet even this will not hold, the world outward only brings knowledge of the impossibility of finding any comfort whatsoever. Randall while on one of his jaunts into the haunted landscapes of the airbase sees a Raven that reminds him of this stark truth:

A raven dipped its beak into a puddle of antifreeze fluid on the pockmarked blacktop that led to the trailer park. It shook its head. Feathers rippled like fur. Randall felt a pang of remorse. This creature meant no ill will, was only obeying its basic survival needs. But the poison would finish it off soon enough. (ibid.)

Maybe this is what Randall needed after all. To know that nothing matters, that in the end we will all drink the poison of life to the last dregs willingly or not. That nothing we do or say will make an iota of difference, change nothing of the past, nor bring our dead loved ones back from their dark places. In this tale of Christopher’s there is a subtle power of sublime terror and dread that leaves us in awe of this truth, but I will not reveal its nihilistic light here. You must read and ponder it yourself…

Randall even in the downward turn toward madness reveals a subtle irony and truth we should all ponder, a truth that even though on the surface trite and full of that home grown wisdom and custom brings out an ancient notion: “The haunted were capable of depths of compassion most were not capable of expressing. Those who’d suffered tragedy were less likely to trivialize the tragic.” (ibid.)

Maybe in the end this is the only wisdom for the grieved and mad in this world of horrors.

  1. Slatsky, Christopher. The Immeasurable Corpse of Nature . Grimscribe Press. (January 28, 2020) Find a copy on Grimscribe Press site: here.

On Pessimism

And it is death, the most intimate dimension of all the living, which separates humanity into two orders so irreducible, so removed from each other, that there is more distance between them than between a vulture and a mole, a star and a starfish.

Emile Cioran: A Short History of Decay

On Pessimism

The central dictum of pessimism is that life is futile, that the universe is indifferent too all our wants and needs – even hostile to every human aspiration; and, that humanity is a “meat puppet” (Ligotti) whose mind is controlled by malevolent forces just below the threshold of awareness. Born into this menagerie of existence humans seek solace in myth, religion, and tribal customs no matter how sophisticated to stay them against the world’s harsh truths. Reality is a nightmare from which none of us shall awaken, and the only hope is none at all; it being but an anchoring fiction to fill our futures with meaningless imaginings of progress and futurial redemption. Bound by determinate forces of unreason humanity has built the cage of reason as a defense against this universe as it is, living out their lives in sublime ignorance and bliss of the dark and bitter truth of a chaotic and inhuman world.

Some would say if this is all true then why continue. The pessimist would say why not end it now and be done with this madness. Yet, being bound by the interminable puzzles of our existence we assume our fictions and trite narratives will save us even from this dark truth. We are sadly mistaken.

Of course the pessimist is rejected outright by all but fellow laborers in the outlands of human imaginings, for humans cannot bare such absolute indifference to their blind faith and will to life. They see in the pessimist an enemy of life and their sublime dreams of salvation and redemption. And as in days of old they would seek to slay the dark harbingers of such hopelessness, and make of them a sacrifice to their unknown futures. The pessimist merely nods that it does not matter either way, life will have its own way with humanity willing or not. There is no defense against the truth of the uncreated.

Breaking Free

Men can be classified according to the most whimsical criteria: according to their humors, their inclinations, their dreams, or their glands. We change ideas like neckties; for every idea, every criterion comes from outside, from the configurations and accidents of time.

Emile Cioran: A Short History of Decay

Most of us live in a world programmed by our culture, indoctrinated from an early age, one that sets the basic limits of our reality and allows us to feel at home in the world. Whether through social, philosophical, or religious indoctrination we all succumb to certain well-defined road maps to life’s course. We in the West have for two-thousand years lived under the tutelage of a Christian worldview for better or worse, and yet as we all know this world of tropes, images, icons, thought, etc. has for several hundred years come under scrutiny and a critical gaze. The lineaments of its framework and inherent substance found lacking by certain counter or heretical thoughts and interpretations from the rise of the sciences, Enlightenment, and two hundred years of inward gazing psychological pondering ending in the quasi heritage of Freud and Lacan.

The crumbling edifice of Christian culture and society as it frayed into a myriad of sects during the so-called Protestant succession has brought us to the point of extreme awareness of its failure to hold our attention and frame our worldview. Most of modern and postmodern art and philosophy began the slow and methodical undermining and deconstruction of our Western civilization and its conceptual frameworks over the past sixty years or so. Stripped of the old anchors we’ve been flung into the weird seas of a world whose conceptual frameworks have lost their luster and entered what Nietzsche and others after him termed the Nihilist stage of unmaking in which even the common man sees through the fictional constructs that have kept him safe and guided his life. For better or worse we no longer trust authorities who would shape our lives with the old worldviews, and yet we have nothing else to anchor us and hold our lives together in some semblance of human community. This is an age of transition, an interregnum; and world between worlds, a wavering world of competing ideologies, philosophies, religious and social credos that all seem to be struggling against the chaos and unnamable horror of the future we face.

It’s as if we are all waiting for something, waiting for something new and different, something that we all know will reveal a sense of change; a change that will redefine what it means to be human and alive on planet earth freed of the old worlds crumbling around us, and opening us to something more stable and alive and fulfilling. We go about our daily lives, the humdrum of existence like automatons without will or purpose. Each in his/her own private hell trying to make sense of this deep malaise and anger at the heart of our lives. We pretend with each other that it’s all okay, that the future holds promise and hope. Yet, underneath the veneer of our facades of white lies we tell ourselves each morning we know that it isn’t alright, that nothing is alright, and everything is tilted, off-center, wrong… the world seems to be falling ever further into madness and chaos around us. We pretend that our leaders will figure it all out. We pretend that someone else will know how to fix this shambles of a world we all share. Yet, underneath it we know better. We know that no one can fix it, that it needs to go, fall, break…

We all know that this break with the lies of the past is something we all seek even if we do not exactly know why. It’s there in the back of our mind like a bad dream; and, yet, like many nightmares we also know there is a way out, a way forward. We know that it will take all of us together to do it. We must all wake up together and enter this new as yet undiscovered country of the Mind. If we do not we know the alternative is to harsh to believe.