About S.C. Hickman

I'm a poet, short story author, and philosophical speculator of the real within which we all live and have our being. I take an interest in all things: travel, write, love, and most of all ponder the mysteries of existence.

Our Biogenetic Future: Cladistics, Bifurcation, Enhancement

With rapid improvements in biotechnology and bioengineering, we may reach a point where, for the first time in history, it becomes possible to translate economic inequality into biological inequality. Biotechnology will soon make it possible to engineer bodies and brains, and to upgrade our physical and cognitive abilities. However, such treatments are likely to be expensive, and available only to the upper crust of society. Humankind might consequently split into biological castes.

– Yuval Noah Harari, Are we about to witness the most unequal societies in history?

In his recent Guardian article Yuval Noah Harari, author of Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow, sees the possible nightmare scenario of a bifurcation in the human genome, the invention of selective artificial evolution of a superior species. The twist for Harari is that this bifurcation will instigate a new society and culture on the planet, one based not on racial/ethnic class divisions or economic inequality,  but rather on biogenetic eugenics and biological castes.

The notion of cladistics and clades have been around for quite sometime. A clade (from Ancient Greek: κλάδος, klados, “branch”) is a group of organisms that consists of a common ancestor and all its lineal descendants, and represents a single “branch” on the “tree of life”. Over the last few decades, the cladistic approach has revolutionized biological classification and revealed surprising evolutionary relationships among organisms. Increasingly, taxonomists try to avoid naming taxa that are not clades; that is, taxa that are not monophyletic. A monophyletic group is a taxon (group of organisms) which forms a clade, meaning that it consists of an ancestral species and all its descendants. The term is synonymous with the uncommon term holophyly. Monophyletic groups are typically characterized by shared derived characteristics (synapomorphies).

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The Apocalypse of the Human: Technicity, Magic, and Integral Reality

The overarching theme of these stories is about the perception of reality and the descent into madness as the characters become more aware of the nature of that reality.

—Intro to The King in Yellow and Other Stories: Tales of the Carcosa Mythos 

The human project was and is a metaphysical mystification, a metafictional project that has for two thousand years run its course under the rubric of ‘humanism’ and is now in ultimate decline and decadence. The apocalypse of the human is truly the simple revelation of this fatal strategy.

Here, however, lies the task of any philosophical thought: to go to the limit of hypotheses and processes, even if they are catastrophic. The only justification for thinking and writing is that it accelerates these terminal processes.

—Jean Baudrillard, The Vital Illusion

For Jean Baudrillard the sociological imagination was a mute subject, dead on arrival so to speak. In fact society itself in his later works is already vanishing, disappearing of its own accord because of a simple truth: reality itself had been murdered. In fact, toward the end, Baudrillard himself no longer pursued ‘the Real’. Instead he would speak of Integral Reality, of a realm in which the human and humans had dispersed themselves through a fatal strategy of the kind that was already immanent in the very origins of their technicity.

Gilbert Simondon in an essay on technicity would describe the moment when humans entered into this fatal strategy:

The primitive reticulation of the magical world is thus the source of opposing objectivation and subjectivation; at the moment of rupture of the initial structuration, the fact that the figure detaches itself from the ground is translated by another detachment: figure and ground detach themselves from their concrete adherence to the universe and follow opposite paths; the figure fragments itself, while the qualities and forces of the ground universalize themselves: this parceling out and this universalization are, for the figure, ways of becoming an abstract figure, and for the ground, a unique abstract ground.1

This fragmentation, this process of abstraction, of cutting away and reduplication of the ground/figure – a movement at once of universalization and of its duplicitous fragmentation begins the process of technicity. Simondon would describe this process saying that technicity is one of the two fundamental phases of the mode of existence of the whole constituted by man and the world. “By phase, we mean not a temporal moment replaced by another, but an aspect that results from a splitting in two of being and in opposition to another aspect; this sense of the word phase is inspired by the notion of a phase ratio in physics; one cannot conceive of a phase except in relation to another or to several other phases; in a system of phases there is a relation of equilibrium and of reciprocal tensions; it is the actual system of all phases taken together that is the complete reality, not each phase in itself; a phase is only a phase in relation to others, from which it distinguishes itself in a manner that is totally independent of the notions of genus and species.” (ibid.)

In this sense of phases and transitions one can read the hyperbolic statement’s of Nietzsche’s Zarathustra within this context: “Man is something that shall be overcome. Man is a rope, tied between beast and overman – a rope over an abyss. What is great in man is that he is a bridge and not an end.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra

The various phases through which this becoming human has passed are under a new phase shift, one that presents us with a horizon of thought beyond which we can no longer understand the human as ‘human’; instead, we are becoming post-human in the sense defined by David Roden in his Posthuman Life: the conceptualization the posthuman here is in terms of agential independence – or disconnection. Roughly, an agent is posthuman if it can act outside of the “Wide Human” – the system of institutions, cultures, and techniques which reciprocally depend on us biological (“narrow”) humans (Roden 2012; Roden 2014: 109-113). It’s this stepping outside the humanistic worldview, a phase that has bounded us to a two-thousand or more year cycle of thought and affective relations (the metaphysics of the human, Being and Becoming, etc.) that is both in closure and transitioning into another phase – maybe, even the end phase of the human project as we’ve come to know it.

At the heart of the Weird Tale (think of H.P. Lovecraft!) is this keen sense of contact between incommensurable worlds. The notion that one comes up against something that one can neither explain (Explanandum and Explanans) or interpret (reduce to human meaning). As Hempel and Oppenheim would explain it: “It may be said… that an explanation is not fully adequate unless its explanans, if taken account of in time, could have served as a basis for predicting the phenomenon under consideration…. It is this potential predictive force which gives scientific explanation its importance: Only to the extent that we are able to explain empirical facts can we attain the major objective of scientific research, namely not merely to record the phenomena of our experience, but to learn from them, by basing upon them theoretical generalizations which enable us to anticipate new occurrences and to control, at least to some extent, the changes in our environment”.2

It’s in this sense that we are losing control over our reality systems, our sciences are hedging their bets, and the predictive force of the sciences are coming up against the incommensurable. Over and over I’ve related this to R. Scott Bakker’s notion of ‘medial neglect’: the notion that our brains through a long emergence in the evolutionary process were fitted (adapted) to the natural environment for purposes of survival and propagation. But that with the emergence of agricultural civilization our submergence in the natural world was short-circuited, and we began a process of abstraction – a cutting away from our natural environmental constraints through a process of artificial construction of abstract environments. In our latest phase we’ve displaced the natural for the artificial to the point we are entering what Scott terms a ‘crash space’ beyond which our human modes of explanda and meaning are forever lost and cannot be bridged, ever. This will lead David Roden to contemplate our posthuman future:

We imagine posthumans as humans made superhumanly intelligent or resilient by future advances in nanotechnology, biotechnology, information technology and cognitive science. Many argue that these enhanced people might live better lives; others fear that tinkering with our nature will undermine our sense of our own humanity.3

As Scott in his postscript to the explication of crash space will tell us “Engineering environments has the effect of transforming the ancestral context of our cognitive capacities, changing the structure of the problems to be solved such that we gradually accumulate local crash spaces, domains where our intuitions have become maladaptive. Everything from irrational fears to the ‘modern malaise’ comes to mind here. Engineering ourselves, on the other hand, has the effect of transforming our relationship to all contexts, in ways large or small, simultaneously. It very well could be the case that something as apparently innocuous as the mass ability to wipe painful memories will precipitate our destruction. Who knows? The only thing we can say in advance is that it will be globally disruptive somehow, as will every other ‘improvement’ that finds its way to market. (Bakker, p. 21)”

Over millennia we developed both mental and physical prosthesis, tools or heuristics that would help us technify our environment. In many ways this goes back to the magical rupture that brought about this splitting and phasing of the human across the temporal spectrum. As Simondon reminds us,

We suppose that technicity results from a phase shift of a unique, central, and original mode of being in the world: the magical mode; the phase that balances out technicity is the religious mode of being. Aesthetic thought appears at the neutral point, between technics and religion, at the moment of the splitting of the primitive magical unity: it is not a phase, but rather a permanent reminder of the rupture of unity of the magical mode of being, as well as a reminder of the search for its future unity. (ibid.)

The British science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke formulated three adages that are known as Clarke’s three laws, of which the third law is the best known and most widely cited:

  1. When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.
  2. The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.
  3. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

It may be that Simondon’s notion that in a time to come we will once again phase shift into a magical mode of being in the world is arriving, but not as expected. In Clark’s sense of technology being “indistinguishable from magic,” we may be merging with the Integral reality of magical fusion of technology and the human. For Simondon scientific knowledge becomes in this phase a “mediation between technics and religion” (ibid.). We’ve become used to the notion of the collapse of meaning and value in the human context, something we’ve termed after Nietzsche nihilism. In the previous generation this collapse would center on human language or better known as ‘the linguistic turn’ – a phase in which the linguistic signs and signifiers that have been so well adapted to the natural world environment suddenly became a problem. This interlude would push the limits of fragmentation and the abstraction process of the current human project to its breaking point. The severing of sign and its referent would end in a realm of total undecidability, a realm in which humans could no longer agree or come together in a consensus about reality; either in its scientific descriptive form, or through aesthetic form. We are now bereft of even the bare minimum of the Real.

From the Enlightenment to now Western Civilization sought to democratize reality, to impose its universalist discourse on reality (i.e., scientific knowledge) onto all remaining cultures of the planet. Because of this tensions and wars broke out between the globalists of this Universal Enlightenment and other cultures that would not accept its premises as their own. We are living through this problematique at this time so that little or no information and analysis on its outcome is available. One might say that a great civil war for reality or the ‘Real’ is taking place across the planet. A war that will in the coming years decide the very fate of the human and the environment upon which it depends.

That the technicity of objects appears as one of two phases of man’s relation with the world engendered by the splitting of the primitive magical unity (Simondon).  That there is both “something transitory in technicity, which itself splits into theory and praxis and participates in the subsequent genesis of practical and theoretical thought,” and that “there is something definitive in the opposition of technicity to religiosity, for one can think that man’s primitive way of being in the world (magic) can inexhaustibly furnish an indefinite number of successive contributions capable of splitting into a technical phase and a religious phase; in this way, even though there is effectively a succession in genesis, the successive stages of different geneses are simultaneous within culture, and there exist relations and interactions not only between simultaneous phases, but also between successive stages; not only can technics encounter religion and aesthetic thought, but also science and ethics.” (Simondon)

In this sense we are moving into a phase in which non-representational thought (i.e., diagrammatic thought – Deleuze/Guattari) is bringing the ground/figure back into unity, enforcing the reevaluation of our mediations between technics and religion. In the ancient parlance of Latin the notion of religion (relegare) brought forward the relations between humans and the Outside (gods, unknown, etc.). Etymologically it entailed a binding, a bond between the human and the Outside, an obligation on the part of humans and the aporia of this external ground to form an allegiance or alliance between the them in an intensive interplay of thought and praxis.  Because of the machinery of institutionalized systems that would reduce this figure/ground to dogma within the monotheistic frameworks over the past two-thousand years a new phase was instigated during the so called Enlightenment. The Secular Age would cut itself away from the deep seated dogmas and institutions that had forced the figure/ground into a procrustean bed of theory, ritual, and dogma.

Many have termed this phase the Age of Suspicion. A process of demythologization and abstraction from the bindings and obligations to the great institutions of Western Civilization would open a door onto a new science and ethics of the human. This would of course lead to many discoveries as well as dead ends, and yet, it would serve the purpose of decomposing the procrustean bed of dogmas that had covered over the original unity and phases of the continuing human project. It’s this boundary phase, or phase transition between the recent representational construct of the human in which the mirror phase of subject/object became central that is now disappearing. As Baudrillard would term it we are moving into the ecstasy of communication, a world in which the mirror has vanished, and in “place of the transcendence of mirror and scene, there is a non-reflecting surface, an immanent surface where operations unfold – the smooth operational surface of communication” (The Ecstasy of Communication, p. 127).

What Baudrillard would describe in that essay as the miniaturization of “time, bodies, pleasures” is here. Already our mobile devices control our behaviours and our minds, frame our interactions and mediations, exact the algorithmic intensities of our desires and mesh us with the very technologies of communication that are our reality now. The boundaries between public/private spaces has disappeared leaving us stranded in a no-man’s zone of circulation and consumption 24/7 telecommerce. As our visual queues become more and more immersed in 3D coordination of either extrinsic or intrinsic devices  adapted to the smart architectures of the artificial cities of the future being showcased around the world in the Neoliberal densified and segmented world we shall all become fractionated or fractalized into time-scapes and securified zones of a new hierarchical Mechanosphere. The reemergence of the magical modes of existence, the unity of technicity and religion will be redefined not in animistic terms, but rather in hyperreal terms of Integral Reality in which technology and religion disappear into the very virtual enactments of our daily lives in an immersive environment of artificial intermediation.

As Baudrillard would remark there “is in effect a state of fascination and vertigo to this obscene delirium of communication” (ibid., 132). Our contemporary culture is phase shifting into the new unity of technology and religion, a magical mode that as Deleuze/Guattari defined it is the schizo matrix of a schizophrenizing process. Baudrillard for his part would describe it as a game of reality construction that is cutting us loose from the previous representational matrix of “scene, mirror, challenge, and duality”; while at the same time shifting us into a realm of “pure fascination, aleatory and psychotropic” (132).  The very categories of the Kantian mind are being elided and new perceptions and epistemic systems formed by mutant processes that are as yet ill-defined and even less known or elaborated. With the recent advent of the neurosciences and our current understanding of neuroplasticity we are realizing that the very structures of perception and pleasure are being redefined, revised, and entering a phase shift of mutant selective and artificial adaptation as we merge with our technologies and optimize intelligence (i.e., Superintelligence).

New metafictional systems of selective artificial adaptation such as the Transhumanist movement are elaborating new mythologies of technology, magic, and the sciences in experimental venues that may or may not pan out. With the rise of 3D printing and DIY biogenetics like CRISPR and other technologies the very elaboration, composition, and decomposition of the physical structures not only of our brain but of our bodies is in the offing. With every thing from optimized intelligence to supermen/women being offered at the risk of mutant malformations in biogenetic splicing and transcription, in vitro biogenetic editing, and other manifestations of changes in the genome becoming more and more a possibility. As Yuval Noah Harari said recently in the Guardian,

With rapid improvements in biotechnology and bioengineering, we may reach a point where, for the first time in history, it becomes possible to translate economic inequality into biological inequality. Biotechnology will soon make it possible to engineer bodies and brains, and to upgrade our physical and cognitive abilities. However, such treatments are likely to be expensive, and available only to the upper crust of society. Humankind might consequently split into biological castes.

… Consequently, instead of globalisation resulting in prosperity and freedom for all, it might actually result in speciation: the divergence of humankind into different biological castes or even different species. Globalisation will unite the world on a vertical axis and abolish national differences, but it will simultaneously divide humanity on a horizontal axis.

Our whole pact with the Real is being demolished in a generation. As Baudrillard tells it what characterizes our “loss of the real, the light years of estrangement from the real, the pathos of distance and radical separation” is a new “absolute proximity, the total instantaneity of things, the feeling of no defense, no retreat” (133). Now comes the apocalypse, the “end of interiority and intimacy, the overexposure and transparence of the world” which traverses us without obstacle. We can no longer produce the limits of our own being, can no longer play or stage ourselves in the mirror of representational expression. We are all “pure screen,” switching centers for the elaboration of a magical universe of technicity.


  1. Simondon, Gilbert. The Genesis of Technicity. e-flux journal #82 – May 2017
  2. Hempel CG, Oppenheim P (1948). “Studies in the Logic of Explanation”. Philosophy of Science. XV: 135–175.
  3. Roden, David (2014-10-10). Posthuman Life: Philosophy at the Edge of the Human (p. i). Taylor and Francis. Kindle Edition.

Jon Padgett: The Secret of Ventriloquism

Cover

We Greater Ventriloquists are catatonics, emptied of illusions of selfhood and identity.

-Jon Padgett, 20 Simple Steps to Ventriloquism

Reading these short stores by Jon Padgett, a self-proclaimed “professional–though lapsed–ventriloquist who lives in New Orleans with his spouse, their daughter and cat,” and the caretaker of Thomas Ligotti Online (which is how I first began to notice this young writer’s proclivities for all things dark!), has been both enjoyable and nice addition to the growing corpus of the weird. A Weird that stretches from the early Gothic to the strange and fantastic realms of our late modernist era.

Jon’s work floats between the weird and eerie in the sense that the late Mark Fisher defines it,

What the weird and the eerie have in common is a preoccupation with the strange. The strange — not the horrific. The allure that the weird and the eerie possess is not captured by the idea that we “enjoy what scares us”. It has, rather, to do with a fascination for the outside, for that which lies beyond standard perception, cognition and experience. This fascination usually involves a certain apprehension, perhaps even dread — but it would be wrong to say that the weird and the eerie are necessarily terrifying. I am not here claiming that the outside is always beneficent. There are more than enough terrors to be found there; but such terrors are not all there is to the outside.1

It’s this sense of the outside, of the strangeness of – as Jon will say of it in one of his stories, our “borrowed realities” that gives his stories their unique flavor of fascination and allurement, stories that draw us in and capture our desires in such a way that we are left wondering at the world we live in. No one can walk away from such stories unchanged. Such stories weave us into the strangeness of the world itself wanting to know if we ourselves are living not only on borrowed time, but in a borrowed reality. This sense of the borderlands, of being on the hedgerow between worlds, of a borderline between the weird and eerie in which reality at any moment might give way to dream and revelation, or nightmare and entrapment. It’s this sense of movement in a world not our own, and moreover not only impossible but emptied of our human imaginings. A realm that is at once new and unknown that shifts into a transitional state of apprehension, awakening us to the powers and forces of the noumenal darkness surrounding us.

I don’t want to spoil it for those who have yet to read his new book, only to spark your interest into Jon’s stylistics, the way in which he refrains from imposing a message or a moral as is so definite in many modern fantastic or weird tales. Instead Jon allows the reader to be drawn into these borrowed realities, to measure their worth not in some normative sense but rather in the mode of existence itself – of one’s existential investment and virulent, even parasitical relation to those emotions that force us out of ourselves and into the accidental voids of life we so frequently become enmeshed in.

Against the decadent closure of so many weird tales Jon’s stories seem to flow into one another, cross the borders of their enclosures and meld with each other even as the characters enter into mellifluous fluidity and emerge from tale to tale. I’m thinking of his well known tale Infusorium which relates to a tale within a tale about a now infamous instruction manual for Ventriloquists:  20 Simple Steps to Ventriloquism. What appears on the surface as a simple manual for developing one’s early skills in handling manikins and puppets, wooden blocs of hollow bodies filled with gears and turnstiles, levers, and the hidden appurtenances of the Ventriloquists dummies secret life. All this ends in a movement toward a Greater Art, the art of the  Greater Ventriloquists for whom the secret life of puppets is more than the hand held monstrosities of lip-synching puppetry and birthday party vocations. No, such is the Greater Art that it weaves the staid ventriloquist into a darker world where the secrets of the trade suddenly take on a sinister perspective and the practitioner becomes the thing he fears most.

There’s also the sense that in citing the text on Ventriloquism within the story of Infusorium Jon was following in part the master of citation, H.P. Lovecraft. Lovecraft would never write the full length version of the Necromonicon, but rather would in various stories within the mythos cycle cite passages from this fabled book of shadows of the Old Ones. As Fisher comments “Lovecraft seemed to have understood the power of the citation, the way in which a text seems more real if it is cited than if it is encountered in the raw.” (Fisher, pp. 24-25) I’ll admit that having read 20 Simple Steps to Ventriloquism in the book just before Infusorium was partially a shock of surprise, but also of a let down. For me at least the work should have remained unwritten, and rather than allowed a full blown story we should have had just the citations scattered across various stories (or story cycle). Many metafictional writers such as Stanislaw Lem, Italo Calvino, Jorge-Luis Borges among others would do the same, producing citations that in some ways would produce the very reality they were fictionalizing. Fisher would mention the anecdote that such cited works impart the feeling that they must exist somewhere in the real world, and that people reading of such works have been known to seek them out in a library. This sense of the cross-over of the fictional into the real is part of that ancient affective region of the weird, the feeling of the Outside impinging on the real of our everyday world.

And, of course, isn’t that the point of a great tale to confront you not with what other’s fear, but rather to awaken in you that sense of one’s own dark nature, the violence and dread of one’s own inhuman core? It’s this that Jon succeeds in doing so subtly that the hook and line of the tale is suddenly passed the point of no return when one is left dangling not with the meaning of the tale but rather with the darkness of one’s own nature. “The weird and the eerie … allow us to see the inside from the perspective of the outside,” says, Mark Fisher. (p. 10) It’s this perspectival movement from inside/outside, the ironic interplay and playful instigation of such transitional states of mixed realties that is Jon’s forte.

Jon’s stories in themselves are straightforward exercises in the weird tradition, and as one is reading them one feels at home in such worlds, in the homely/unhomely sense. It isn’t till one is suddenly across the border and in-between one paragraph and the next, lost in the hidden borderlands of some “borrowed reality” that one suddenly realizes that we are no longer at home in our normal everyday world, but that we have entered a secret corridor in-between worlds, become enmeshed in realms of which we know nothing; and, not only that we know nothing, but we can know nothing forever. It’s then that one leaves the tale realizing the world around one has changed ever so slightly, imperceptibly; becoming destabilized, unanchored, leaving us drifting within the endless labyrinths of a weird tale, an alternate reality — or, some other borrowed world, a darker world from which there will be no extrication, no redemption. Have we? Even now I wonder…

Either way, don’t fret about it, read Jon’s work now… this very minute, enter the borrowed realities of his secret world: go here!


  1. Fisher, Mark. The Weird and the Eerie (pp. 8-9). Watkins Media. Kindle Edition.

The Decadence of Democracies: Ressentiment, Hatred, and the Enemy

Tolerance is simply bigotry on a leash – and no matter how strong the leash might seem, it could always snap at any moment.

—Peter King

At the heart of democracy is a disease: ressentiment, the hatred of the self-reflecting enemy in the mirror of one’s nothingness.  The failure to exist is at the core of this dark stain that has tried for two centuries to impose its will to nothingness upon the world as a Universal dictum. Nihilism is the limit factor of democracies everywhere, and we have come to the end game of democracy in our time. A war that began with the enlightenment against humanity is only now bearing its ultimate universalizing message: our hatred of the past, our hatred of Christianity and Christianity’s God has guided this universalizing tendency to replace every aspect of its religious codes with those of the secular and demythologized programs of a radicalized nihilism.

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Move Went Well..

We made it to Wyoming safely. We’ll be in transition for a couple weeks, unloading and getting used to the new home, changing my profiles, updating info, etc. May be a while between posts… definitely enjoying the nice weather here compared to Phoenix, AZ. Where I left it is 105 F, and here in Cody, Wy it was 75 F today….

See you in a couple weeks if not sooner…. (using a friends comp at the moment for updates).

Post-Accelerationism: Dismantling the Social Machine

In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts; they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty.

—Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance

For many of those who have watched the emergence of Accelerationism, and then its slow drift into silence over the past few years it may be strange to revisit this defunct thought form. You’d be wrong. My own contention is that it is still worth considering, not because the critical apparatuses that have appropriated it on Left and Right are viable but that it helps us engage an aspect of our current predicament: the automation of Automatic Society of the Mechanosphere. What we’re seeing in our time is the transformation, transition, and displacement of humans in the hierarchy of capitalist production. What Deleuze and Guattari would describe as the capitalist schizophrenizing process with its attendant technical and social machines bound in a unified system of coding and decoding, territorialization and deterritorialization is in the midst of a great reversal and transformation.

The social machine of which humans are the center and periphery is being overtaken by the machinic phylum. With the emergence of Automatic Society of automation, and the grafting of intelligence onto Artificial General Intelligent machines, humans are slowly being displaced, obsolesced, and excluded from the social machine by the very technical systems they helped create. Because of this a new ranking order and reversal of the capitalist hierarchy is placing intelligent machines above the human in the capitalist production cycle. It’s obviously not happening all at once. This is the point of Deleuze and Guattari’s schizophrenizing process, the movement of technical objects into the center of a new socious is turning us inside out producing changes in the human collective that are for the most part anti-natural and artificial. Revisiting accelerationist philosophy one can see that what is truly being accelerated is not capital itself  but rather this shift in social machines and the reversal of the human/machinic systems in the capitalist schizz’s. For humans this can’t end well. I offer no solutions, only observe the tendencies that are moving us in this direction. What we do to either resist or redirect this outcome remains to be seen. It’s this I wish to explore below.

The story goes like this: Earth is captured by a technocapital singularity as renaissance rationalization and oceanic navigation lock into commoditization take-off. Logistically accelerating techno-economic interactivity crumbles social order in auto-sophisticating machine runaway. As markets learn to manufacture intelligence, politics modernizes, upgrades paranoia, and tries to get a grip.

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

Recently I was reading an essay by Benjamin Noys Futures of Accelerationism, a lecture he gave at the Kaaitheater in Brussels, Belgium on The Road to Post-Capitalism (2016). It was published on NON where it can still be read (here). Benjamin whose study of recent thinkers and thought in The Persistence of the Negative: A Critique of Contemporary Continental Theory provided impetus to this debate was – as he likes to remind us – the first to bring the term of “accelerationism” to the fore as a critical praxis. What spawned his interest was the “new libertarian mood induced by May ’68” in France, and its aftermath as shown in the work of philosophical and critical theorists such as Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s Anti-Oedipus (1972); Jean-François Lyotard’s Libidinal Economy (1974); and Jean Baudrillard’s Symbolic Exchange and Death (1976). All these works had something in common: as he’d state it, the ‘philosophy of desire’. As he’d put it,

These texts all display their authors’ formation by currents of the ultra-left, and each tries to outdo the other in terms of their radicalism. In particular they reply to Marx’s contention that ‘[ t] he real barrier of capitalist production is capital itself’, by arguing that we must crash through this barrier by turning capitalism against itself. (Noys, p. 4)

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The Seduction of the Real

The world is an illusion.” —Valentinus

“…images precede the Real.” —Jean Baudrillard

“What I call Integral Reality is the perpetrating on the world of an unlimited operational project whereby everything becomes real, everything becomes visible and transparent, everything is ‘liberated’…”.1 Child of Kant and Mani, Pyrrho and Valentinus, and of all those for whom the Real is illusion and delusion – delirium, Baudrillard’s objective ironies formulate the underlying features of our panic ridden world of impulse and evil, the irreality of our becomings. As he’d say in The Evil Demon of Images:

I would like to conjure up the perversity of the relation between the image and its referent, the supposed Real; the virtual and irreversible confusion of the sphere of images and the sphere of a reality whose nature we are less and less able to grasp. There are modalities of this absorption, this confusion, the diabolical seduction of images. Above all, it is the reference principle of images which must be doubted, this strategy by means of which they always appear to refer to a real world, to real objects, and to reproduce something which is logically and chronologically anterior to themselves. None of this is true. As simulacra, images precede the Real to the extent that they invert the causal and logical order of the Real and its reproduction.2

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Monstrous Deliriums, Mutant Adventures

…with automation comes a progressive increase in the proportion of constant capital; we then see a new kind of enslavement: at the same time the work regime changes, surplus value becomes machinic, and the framework expands to all of society.

—Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus

To know our true condition, to realize that we are condemned to live under a fantastic mass of darkness, beneath oceans and successive circles; to know that man, atrophied and infirm, vegetates in submarine lairs like the proteus, that blind eel-like creature that lives in subterranean waters, naked and transparent … to know this is the first step in Gnostic thought.

—Jacques Lacarrier, The Gnostics 

Isn’t it true, our fear of Artificial General Intelligence – AGI, otherwise known as Superintelligence, – these radical creatures of our imaginal dreamtime and machinic futures – isn’t it true that they mask the undeniable truth of our inhuman core? Our fear of losing jobs to the machines, of being obsolesced by the new conditions of automatic society, being not only replaced but condemned to exclusion and utter annihilation at the hands of forces we cannot master – isn’t this to acknowledge our hidden collusion with corruption? Haven’t we begun to realize the thing we fear most is the buried truth of our own insignificance in the universal scheme of things?  That Homo sapiens is not the center of exceptionalism in the Universe – much less on planet earth, and that we of the West – and, let us be clear – what we mean by the West is the White man’s West, this patriarchal androcracy of  progressive globalism, with its pretensions to global mastery and enslavement of all other cultures under the universal enlightenment of democracy and profit? This age old male dominated society and civilization has in its bid to Universalize all others, democratize the world – impose upon all those Others the rule of Law and Tolerance – Other’s who would not yield or condone our ways! – to enslave the complexity of the earth under the monocultural Western image of Man. Hasn’t this supposed dream of democracy and capitalism instead unleashed the monstrous underbelly of the universal darkness and disparity of things, brought forward the impossible truth at the core of our Western heritage: the truth of our inhuman telos and trajectory – the temporal engagements of our annihilating fires?

Even now as we face the revenge of the machines, an incestual world of self-replicating clones and artificial life proliferating across the planet, isn’t it true that we secretly desire this embrasure? The slight opening in-between two impossibilities? Isn’t it possible that the impossible dreams of escape and exit, transcendence and our universal desire to be elsewhere and Other – caught in the gaze of our own cloning processes, forever bound to the narcissistic bodies of our own beleaguered infidelity and shame – is forcing us to deface the Other we’ve always been? We who have never accepted the truth of our inhumanity we’ll be condemned to the inhuman mutation at the core of our Western deliriums and nightmares. Becoming monstrous is our destiny, one forged in the necessitous delusions of our forgotten mythologies, our collective dreams of madness.

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The Decline of the Progressive West

The subterranean current that propels such anti-politics is recognizably Hobbesian, a coherent dark enlightenment, devoid from its beginning of any Rousseauistic enthusiasm for popular expression. Predisposed, in any case, to perceive the politically awakened masses as a howling irrational mob, it conceives the dynamics of democratization as fundamentally degenerative: systematically consolidating and exacerbating private vices, resentments, and deficiencies until they reach the level of collective criminality and comprehensive social corruption. The democratic politician and the electorate are bound together by a circuit of reciprocal incitement, in which each side drives the other to ever more shameless extremities of hooting, prancing cannibalism, until the only alternative to shouting is being eaten.

—Nick Land, The Dark Enlightenment

If as Nick Land in The Dark Enlightenment says, “Democracy and ‘progressive democracy’ are synonymous, and indistinguishable from the expansion of the state.” Then truly the decline of the West is this manifest destiny of democracy: it’s success would be its demise, the catastrophe that awaits it. It’s not capital that’s being accelerated, but progressive democracy; and, the faster the better. For as it finalizes its tendency it will resolve itself in the zero point intensity of nullity. Is this not the meaning of decline: decadence. The overabundance that uses itself up, the excess that must catastrophically perform the ‘gift’ of sacrifice, immolate itself on the bonfire of rational expediency? The only equivalence worth its name is the death of democracy, not through some process of external barbarization; but, rather at the implosive and apocalyptic, catastrophic immolation of its subtraction.

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The Museum of Freedom

The West is merely a museum – or, more accurately, a dump – for freedom and the Rights of Man. If deep-freezing was the distinctive (and negative) mark of the Eastern universe, the ultra-fluidity of our Western universe is even more disreputable, because thanks to the liberation and liberalization of our mores and beliefs, the problem of freedom can simply no longer be posed. Rather, it is virtually resolved. In the West, freedom – the Idea of freedom – has died its fine death; all the recent commemorations have clearly shown that the idea of freedom is gone.

—Jean Baudrillard, The Transparency of Evil

Mixed Reality (MR): The Augmentation of the World

Today we skip the history lessons and move right up center stage to the latest gadgets seeking catch your attention, money, and desires: VR/AR/MR. Virtual, Augmented, and Mixed reality systems are beginning to emerge as the hot topic for investors. So as in the old days one must follow the money trail to understand how our lives are going to modulated, transformed, and enslaved in the coming years. Immersive technologies have been around for a while, the notion of Virtual Reality (VR) having already emerged in the good ole days of Cyberpunk fiction. Before the real thing became available the early SF writers imagined us plugged into (literally) the net with wires and apparatuses injected into our spines directly like a bunch of cyberspace cowboys. Here’s William Gibson’s version from Neuromancer:

A year here and he still dreamed of cyberspace, hope fading nightly. All the speed he took, all the turns he’d taken and the corners he’d cut in Night City, and still he’d see the matrix in his sleep, bright lattices of logic unfolding across that colorless void. . . . The Sprawl was a long strange way home over the Pacific now, and he was no console man, no cyberspace cowboy. Just another hustler, trying to make it through. But the dreams came on in the Japanese night like livewire voodoo, and he’d cry for it, cry in his sleep, and wake alone in the dark, curled in his capsule in some coffin hotel, his hands clawed into the bedslab, temperfoam bunched between his fingers, trying to reach the console that wasn’t there.1

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Against Hate

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Sometimes I wonder at the blanket hate of Christianity. Even as an atheist I do not hate the naïve and sentimental, the one’s who genuinely believe and care, those who follow their master’s actual living example. I’ve always envisioned him as a radical, a man who stood up against the power and system of his day. A man who did not cower against the hate of politics or religion, but fought for the poor and the rejected. He died not for some unearthly kingdom, but for the people of this world who remained outside the care and protection of power. For whoever he was the man Jesus – lost in the palimpsest of parchment – the gospels present a man who hated the rich and powerful, and cared for the sick, weak, and outcasts, the poor and excluded – the lepers, the untouchable caste of that day.

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Bataille’s Revenge

In truth, Bataille seems to me far less an intellectual predicament than a sexual and religious one, transecting the lethargic suicide upon which we are all embarked. To accept his writings is an impossibility, to resist them an irrelevance. One is excited abnormally, appalled, but without refuge. Nausea perhaps?

—Nick Land, A Thirst for Annihilation

Bataille’s “devil’s share” was still part of the ultimate romanticism of political economy. Now it’s something else.

—Jean Baudrillard, Forget Foucault

Shall we once again wander down there? Haven’t we already been down that path before, but then again don’t all paths lead down? The ocean receives the tears of the earth, the sky, the stars? Are we not children of the sun? Haven’t we seen the returns of so many cycles, so many nights and days, the slow progression that never moves forward but always seems to return to the same place: the place of death, of life. But is not life another form of death? If we seek for ourselves in the other, in the bright life of the other’s eyes, the recognition that reveals a certain disenchantment, a certain uncertainty that nothing is assured, that we are after all mere shadows on the wall of time. What then? Shall we call out to the emptiness that surrounds us, that abyss from which laughter is the only defense?

Bataille in Inner Experience quotes Nietzsche from Ecce Homo:

Another ideal runs ahead of us, a strange, tempting, dangerous ideal to which we should not wish to persuade anybody because we do not readily concede the right to it to anyone: the ideal of a spirit who plays naively-that is, not deliberately but from overflowing power and abundance-with all that was hitherto called holy, good, untouchable, divine; for whom those supreme things that the people naturally accept as their value standards, signify danger, decay, debasement, or at least recreation, blindness, and temporary self oblivion; the ideal of a human, superhuman well-being and benevolence that will often appear inhuman… (xxxi).1

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Lost in the Maze: Futurity and the Inhuman Economy

We’ve all become mere data points in the consumption cycle, our dividual lives of labor running the course of commodity production and exchange as informational agents and products in a knowledge economy. Sipping at the brothel of capital, neither prostitute nor pimp, we’ve become substitutions and commutations of a hidden financial world: blips in a blockchain, ciphers in a maze of code, transactional accomplices of a criminal enterprise – all absorbed into the endless labyrinths of a world system without beginning or end.

“Neither Saussure nor Marx had any presentiment of all this: they were still in the golden age of the dialectic of the sign and the real, which is at the same time the ‘classical’ period of capital and value. Their dialectic is in shreds, and the real has died of the shock of value acquiring this fantastic autonomy. Determinacy is dead, indeterminacy holds sway. There has been an extermination (in the literal sense of the word) of the real of production and the real of signification.”1

Having severed our relations with the referent there is no inside/outside, the irony has itself vanished and been absorbed into the indifferent and impersonal world of code. “Algorithms are no longer seen as tools to accomplish a task: in digital architecture, they are the constructive material or abstract “stuff ” that enables the automated design of buildings, infrastructures, and objects. Algorithms are thus actualities, defined by an automated prehension of data in the computational processing of probabilities. (13)”2 Prehension in Whitehead’s sense is the experiencing of past events, these being necessary conditions of the experience.3 Yet, there is the possibility of prehending futurity as well. Futurity is, as Aristotle said, potentiality, or as Epicurus put it, a mixture of chance and necessity. The necessity is that the experience must somehow become datum for some further experiencing; the chance, or lack of necessity, is the freedom or indeterminacy as to just how or in just what further experiences this status as datum may be brought about.

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The War Against Humanity: Technology, Capital, Apocalypse

In Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844 Karl Marx would ask: (1) What in the evolution of mankind is the meaning of this reduction of the greater part of mankind to abstract labor? (2) What are the mistakes committed by the piecemeal reformers, who either want to raise wages and in this way to improve the situation of the working class, or regard equality of wages (as Proudhon does) the goal of social revolution?

In political economy labor occurs only in the form of wage earning activity. But political economy knows the worker only as a working — as a beast reduced to the strictest bodily needs. Quoting Proudhon Marx will show that the goal of work is to eliminate labour time and replace it with free time:

“To develop in greater spiritual freedom, a people must break their bondage to their bodily needs-they must cease to be the slaves of the body. They must, therefore, above all, have time at their disposal for spiritual creative activity and spiritual enjoyment.”

Noticing the discrepancy between the ideal and the actuality of work, automation, and time Proudhon would remark: “Consideration has not been given . . . to this big distinction as to how far men work through machines or as machines.” Of course Proudhon in his Utopian vision thought that automation would bring about the elimination of work and the introduction of free time: “In the future life of the peoples, however, the inanimate forces of nature working in machines will be our slaves and servants.”

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We Have Never Been Communists

We have never been Communists… a veritable contradiction has always seeped into each and every manifestation of the Communist Idea.

In Plato the abolition of the family accompanies the abolition of property: property is patriarchal, communism fraternal. So also in Marxism: Engels connected the family with private property and the state; society has been patriarchal and will become fraternal. Marxism, in succession to Locke, picked up the cause of brotherhood. The history of Marxism shows how hard it is to kill the father; to get rid of the family, private property, and the state.

The brethren, as Plato saw, should have all things in common, including wives. Locke’s commitment to brotherhood is deep enough to produce another inner contradiction: communism and private property. The world was given to the children of men in common, he says. In one sentence he affirms both principles: “Though the things of Nature are given in common, man (by being master of himself and proprietor of his own person, and the actions or labour of it) had still in himself the great foundation of property.”1

Communism from Lenin to Mao never enacted the requirements for it, rather than abolishing family, property, and state they retained all three through a centralized system of collective fatherhood of elite intellectuals (the vanguard: the elite intellectuals vs. the greater proletariat). So that the backdoor of the ancient familial relations were grafted onto the Great Leader as Patriarch, Father, God: Lenin, Stalin, Mao. Each of whom inherited the mantle of the Absolute; or, God.  (Ask yourself: Why did they take such in ardent care to preserve the mummified bodies of Lenin and Stalin, putting them on display? The God must not die or decay: his is eternal life, and in him the power of the State lives on. So instead the god sleeps in eternal quietude, allowing his cultic followers to worship him in earthly obeisance. A parody of Marx’s system…) For as we see in early Christianity the communist principles were there without a visible representative:

Sonship, or brotherhood, freed from its secret bondage to the father principle—sons after the order of Melchizedek, without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like unto the Son of God—would be free from the principle of private property. And in the first form of Christianity the brethren had all things common. Sons without fathers share everything and own nothing. (Brown, Norman O., Love’s Body: p. 7)

Without the abolition of family, private property, and the state Communism as an Idea  will remain a fantasy in the minds of elite intellectuals who have truly never known what Communism is.


  1. Locke, Two Treatises of Civil Government, 138; cf. 136.

The Techno-Human Condition: Beyond the Fourth Revolution?

“The so-called ‘change agent’—capable of transforming the genetic sequence of living people—could radically alter the world as we know it.”

—Daniel Suarez, Change Agent

Arthur O. Lovejoy once described in his now classic The Great Chain of Being: A Study of the History of an Idea the pre-Copernican Cosmos as:

the conception of the plan and structure of the world which, through the Middle Ages and down to the late eighteenth century, many philosophers, most men of science, and, indeed, most educated men, were to accept without question – the conception of the universe as a “Great Chain of Being,” composed of an immense, or – by the strict but seldom rigorously applied logic of the principle of continuity – of an infinite, number of links ranging in hierarchical order from the meagerest kind of existents, which barely escape nonexistence, through “every possible” grade up to the ens perfectissimum – Of, in a somewhat more orthodox version, to the highest possible kind of creature, between which and the Absolute Being the disparity was assumed to be infinite everyone of them differing from that immediately above and that immediately below it by the “least possible” degree of difference.1

This sense that the universe was fixed and stable, that order reigned and everything from the largest (macro) to smallest (micro) thing in it had its place in the chain, one that put man and the earth at the center of a cosmic House of Being of which both the secular and the religious worlds were reconciled to God and the Absolute. Along with this was the hierarchical relation of power and divine right of Kings descending from the Absolute or God (whether in its secular mode of philosophy as Being, or its religious mode as exegesis of God’s Sovereignty).

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Fear of Technology: Being Alone Together in the Machine

…we are in a sort of bubble of irreality: spurious world generated by— the plenary powers, astral determinism, whatever the fuck that is.

—Philip K. Dick, The Exegesis

John Dewey once said that the “serious threat to our democracy is not the existence of foreign totalitarian states. It is the existence within our own personal attitudes and within our own institutions of conditions which have given a victory to external authority, discipline, uniformity and dependence upon The Leader… The battlefield is also accordingly here– within ourselves and our institutions.”1 Of late I’ve begun to see Erich Fromm’s point that what men fear is what drives them to escape into tyranny rather than freedom, and it is autonomy and freedom above all that humans fear most.

Couched as his work was in Freud and Existentialism Fromm would seek an understanding of why humans feared freedom or, as he’d suggest – aloneness, isolation, independence. In his simplistic diagnosis he’d discovered over time that people choose two paths of escape from aloneness. The first path was a positive acceptance of autonomy and separateness, and these individuals would confront themselves and the world in such a way they can relate themselves spontaneously to the it in love and work, in the genuine expression of emotional, sensuous, and intellectual capacities; each can thus become one again with man, nature, and themselves, without giving up the independence and integrity of their singularity. (Fromm, 120) The other form would take a darker turn, one that would force such individuals who suddenly awakened intto aloneness, freedom, and autonomy to feel anxiety, panic, and ultimately run scared,  leading them to seek complete surrender of their unique and singular lives, and the integrity of the self,  to an external authority in total self-abnegation of their former freedom and autonomy. (Fromm, 121) As he’d remark of this second path of escape, such persons “show a tendency to belittle themselves, to make themselves weak, and not to master things.

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The Experiment Has Begun

As Stanley Aronowitz said in his short history of radicalism in contemporary America the failure of the Left hasn’t been due to repression, capitalist propaganda, business ‘s control over the means of information, or the internecine wars to which American radical organizations have become habituated (even if much of that is partially valid), it has been the credo and success of the spirit of capitalism itself. American’s bought into the liberal humanist vision of John Locke long ago, the rugged individualism and fear of collectivities of any type. Any sign of socialism and most of the populace runs for the hills.1 Capitalism keeps churning along without causing the proles to get too anxious so that they’ll continue to be enamored by the techno-gadgets, political lies, and promises of a good retirement packages in their portfolios. For some capitalism offers the only game in town, for others it is the game that excludes them automatically. The insiders turn a blind eye to the outsiders, while the surveillance cameras and profiling systems keep the bomb squads at bay, and the favelas spinning with nightly drone raids and gang busting armored tanks roaming the buffer zones of this dense hell. Yes, America is the home of obsolescence by design. Someday they may even replace the Presidency with a talking head, an AI that can operate the military drone arsenal with a flick of the digital Zero.

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Death of an American Dream: Or, The End of the World as we Know It.

Nights dark beyond darkness and the days more gray each one than what had gone before. Like the onset of some cold glaucoma dimming away the world.

—Cormac McCarthy, The Road

For the vast majority of Americans – and, for that matter, all those around the globe who have cherished it, the promise of the American Dream is over, the utopian desires of the Good Life and Society are crumbling into an Oligarchic cesspool of Global War and Strife. There was a time when the American dream was the dream of human possibility, of a society in which all persons would be encouraged to do their best, to achieve their most, and to have the reward of a comfortable life in exchange. It was the dream that there would be no artificial obstacles in the way of such individual fulfillment. It was the dream that the sum of such individual achievements was a great social good—a society of freedom, equality, and mutual solidarity.1 It was the dream of America as the shining beacon to a world that suffers from not being able to realize such a dream. It was the dream of an American Utopia that people without hope hoped for, a dream that has turned sour and become for many both in America and around the world a toxic wasteland full of poisonous nightmares.

The dream didn’t fail us, but we did.

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The Intelligence of Capital: The Collapse of Politics in Contemporary Society

Capital is the intelligence of the world. Capital does not need the nation state, the old mythologies of the sovereignty of nations is giving way to the logics of the Global Empire of Capital. Reactions to this state of affairs across the globe has brought on the crisis and end games of nations everywhere, one that will break apart the old sovereignties and dispel the illusion of power in the political. From here forward Capital is divorced from the politics of nations, and what remains is the hollow men who rule under the auspices of the Sovereign Empire of Capital. A world without a Leader. A world where there can be no center, only the disparities of the network and its technopoles.

Fernand Braudel would speak of two universes, two ways of life foreign to each other. yet whose respective wholes explain one another: the ancient feudalistic autarchies, and the modern market societies.1 He’d liken such a history as one of “conjunctures and economic crises, and it is the vast and structural history that evolves over many, many years. Indeed, that is the whole problem, for when dealing with the entire world over four centuries, how does one organize such a file of facts and explanations?” (Braudel, 5) For Braudel the old feudal worlds of primitive accumulation were static, inflexible, and entropic realms of inertia, while the modern market economies were just the opposite: dynamic, flexible, and negentropic realms of energetic forces being unleashed in technological innovation, production, and socio-cultural relations.(Braudel, 5-6)

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Optimizing Intelligence: Time, Technology, and the Human Condition

“It is not possible to step twice into the same river.

—Heraclitus

We always get back to this definition: the machinic phylum is materiality, natural or artificial, and both simultaneously; it is matter in movement, in flux, in variation, matter as a conveyor of singularities and traits of expression.

—Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus

For Heraclitus the river fragment is not that all things are changing so that we cannot encounter them twice, but something much more subtle and profound. It is that some things stay the same only by changing. There is something in the process of change that stays with us, that moves even as we move but is stable through all the multifarious motions of time. In this sense Heraclitus believes in flux, but not as destructive of constancy; rather it is, paradoxically, a necessary condition of constancy.1 Shall we call it intelligence?

Deleuze was not a vitalist as some would have you believe, rather as he and Guattari would have it “there is no vital matter specific to the organic stratum, matter is the same on all the strata. But the organic stratum does have a specific unity of composition, a single abstract Animal, a single machine embedded in the stratum, and presents everywhere the same molecular materials, the same elements or anatomical components of organs, the same formal connections.”2 In this sense matter is a form of intelligence rather than a vital vibrancy. It moves, it connects, it thinks… but not in the human sense.

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The Disinheritance

The acceleration of scientific and technological development has become so obvious that one does not have to be an expert to notice it. This disruption to the models of activity and their ideals by the very element of constant mutation is actually masked by another process, one that is more distinctive and that certainly has more serious immediate consequences. This process involves accelerating the oscillations of the self-awakening system of positive feedback…

—Stanislaw Lem, Summa Technologiae

Positive feedback is the elementary diagram for selfregenerating circuitry, cumulative interaction, auto-catalysis, self-reinforcing processes, escalation, schismogenesis, self-organization, compressive series, deuterolearning, chain-reaction, vicious circles, and cybergenics. Such processes resist historical intelligibility, since they obsolesce every possible analogue for anticipated change. The future of runaway processes derides all precedent, even when deploying it as camouflage…

—Nick Land, Fanged Noumena

If as Nietzsche proposed over a hundred years ago that modern capitalist democracies are nihilistic (i.e., based on the very notion that there are no objective standards or valuations upon which truth can be based), then its’ not doxa (opinion) that is the cause of stupidity but rather the very democratic processes that have reduced humans to a flat world of equalization. The notion that there is no ranking system, no hierarchy of value, meaning, thought: that by its very nature – a nature under modernity that has no eidos (essence), the liberal modernisms of our world have tried to universalize a singular instrumentalist reason that negates all normative and classical values in the defense of an equality that has brought about the very stupidity and ignorance that it sought to transcend.

In their bid to destroy Western classical reason and cunning intelligence our Enlightenment forbears began a process that has devolved and left us without an arbiter, a “filter” by which to think or reason (i.e., without an objective standard of values there can be no consensus). It the sciences were at one time based upon objective knowledge and consensus, this is no longer so. For knowledge even in the groundless for we discover in quantum theory is based on probability and statistical equations, invention of theoretical entities that must be tested against reality, etc. There is no static, grounded reality of values against which a mathematical equation can verify its truth or validity (One reason why the observer (subject) has become a part of the very equation). The whole movement of modern sciences and philosophy has been to destroy the logic and metaphysics of the classical world. What do you think that would do to those who have come late into the game? We are the product of two hundred years of destruction of Classical Mind, Self, and Thought.

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Babalon Rising: Amy Ireland, Artificial Intelligence, and Occulture

Conspiracy: to conspire, to breath together, to play the world upon the windpipes of time uniting the disparities of madness and order, conjuring or coniuracioun (Old Latin: “conspiracy”) out of nothing the veritable power of the abyss a machinacion (Old French: “device, contrivance, plot, intrigue”). There’s a sense that conspiracies always begin in the dark, in secrecy, in the unbidden zones of the hidden worlds below the threshold of culture, in that zero world of the occult or occulture. Science, politics, religion, and magick seem to play havoc, combine, and re-combine, bind and unbind the black codes of an energetic cosmos that few would admit exists, and even more would fear as the cold and impersonal power of the Abyss.

When an otherwise rational creature, a scientist begins delving into the dark arts, into High Magick: its rituals, invocations, conjurations – we begin to wonder whether the forces of the irrational cosmos have suddenly absorbed his mind and brought forth strange worlds. Amy Ireland in her essay on e-flux Black Circuit: Code for the Numbers to Come (here) conjures the events of Jack Parson’s short life in the realms of occulture. This term, a neologism which first emerged in print in Evil and World Order (1976) by cultural critic William Irwin Thompson, would gain a wider audience in the work of Simon Dwyer’s Rapid Eye:

“Occulture is not a secret culture as the word might suggest, but culture that is in some way hidden and ignored, or willfully marginalised to the extremities of our society. A culture of individuality and sub-cults, a culture of questions that have not been properly identified- let alone answered- and therefore, do not get fair representation in the mainstream media. It is a culture that has been misinterpreted. Not because it is ‘evil’ or wrong, but because it is generally apolitical and amoral, unashamedly artistic, experimental, undogmatic, intellectual and oddly evolutionary. It is a sub-culture that is forming a question that ‘reality’ alone cannot answer.”

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Amy Ireland: Gyres, Diagrams, and Anastrophic Modernism

Anastrophic modernism tells us that we have only discounted the perpetuation of the modernist avant-garde because we have refused to accept the possibility of its inhumanity.

—Amy Ireland, The Poememenon: Form as Occult Technology 

Theory-fiction or philo-fiction as it is sometimes called has become all the rage within certain circles of the academic community in the past few years. Moving away from the strict economy of thought that has come down to us as so many concepts hashed and re-hashed through so many iterations of abstraction to produce something new and unprecedented only to discover it is but a turn, a trope, a shift in perspective and masking of previous thought some thinkers have jettisoned the whole nexus of philosophical discourse for the Outside. As François Laruelle recently said in Struggle and Utopia at the End Times of Philosophy:

Those who are spiritual are not at all spiritualists, for the spiritual oscillate between fury and tranquil rage, they are great destroyers of the forces of Philosophy and the State, which are united under the name of Conformism. They haunt the margins of philosophy, gnosis, mysticism, science fiction and even religions. Spiritual types are not only abstract mystics and quietists; they are heretics for the World

This sense of being a heretic for the World situates certain thinkers who no longer fit within the designated straight-jacket of philosophical or political thought. Such is the work of the now defunct Ccru and its most antagonistic anti-philosopher, Nick Land.

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Pics of where we’re moving in a few weeks….

Thought I’d share a few pics of the South Fork outside Cody, Wyoming where we bought property and we’ll eventually be building our final home. ( I should say, we’re getting the hull, the framing done by a local contractor, but we’ll be doing all the finish work on interior from sheet rock, electrical, floors, mudding, interior walls, windows, doors, etc. ourselves!). You’ll see why we decided on this property below:

From Our back yard

View of lake just a half mile from our back yard…

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Daniel Suarez’s Change Agent

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Just started reading Daniel Suarez’s new near future SF Change Agent. While Singapore, Shanghai and other techno-commercial capitals move forward into the 21st Century shaping the future of technology, capitalism, and the lifestyles of the new Technocracies, America and Silicon Valley along with the populist anti-scientific politics of the U.S.A. with its traditions of anti-intellectualism leave it in debt, decadence, and economic collapse. At the center of this biopunk SF is the use of CRISPR technology and its repercussions on society (here’s a snippet):

Synthetic biology was the transistor of the twenty-first century. Yet political realities in America made it increasingly unfeasible for entrepreneurs there to tinker with the building blocks of life. Every cluster of human cells was viewed as a baby in America. A quarter of the population wasn’t vaccinated. A majority of Americans didn’t believe in evolution. Social-media-powered opinions carried more influence than peer-reviewed scientific research. In this virulently anti-science atmosphere, synbio research was hounded offshore before it had really begun. Activists crowed over their victory.1

One imagines how the progressive Left along with the religious Right will ultimately bring about the collapse of EU and U.S. through protest and civil strife as China, India, and other major countries emerge and integrate these new technologies and the techno-economies arising out of the NBIC revolution. A passing of the economic baton to the East.

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The Principle of Accelerationism: The De-territorialization of the Socious

The Principle of Accelerationism = extreme de-territorialization:

Capitalism is in fact born of the encounter of two sorts of flows: the decoded flow of production in the form of money-capital, and the decoded flow of labor in the form of the ‘free worker’. Hence, unlike previous social machines, the capitalist machine is incapable of providing a code that will apply to the whole of the social field. By substituting money for the very notion of a code, it has created an axiomatic of abstract quantities that keeps moving further and further in the direction of the deterritorialization of the socius.
(Deleuze and Guattari Anti-Oedipus: 33)

Unlike the social morphologies of antiquity and feudalism, capitalism strives to absorb, overcode and subsume every population and loyalty on earth. Now ‘we can depict an enormous, so-called stateless, monetary mass that circulates through foreign exchange and across borders, eluding control by the States, forming a multinational ecumenical organization, constituting a de facto supranational power untouched by governmental decisions’ (Deleuze and Guattari 1987: 453).

Instead of asking like Kevin Kelley does: What does technology want? We should be asking: What does Capital want? For it is the intelligence of capital that has escaped our human systems of command and control, and is even now reformatting the very systems of human and geo-resources toward an algorithmic governmentality beyond the human; or, the becoming non-human of capital.

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The Emergence of a New Technocracy?

Khana Parag, author of Connectography’s  new book Technocracy in America: Rise of the Info-State  supplies us with the emergence of – to take the title of a recent novel, Infomacracy, or the combination of algorithmic compliance and governmentality by experts:

Technocratic government is built around expert analysis and long-term planning rather than narrow-minded and short-term populist whims. Technocrats are not to be confused with the complacent establishment elites that were just stunned by Trump. Real technocracy has the virtues of being both utilitarian (inclusively seeking the broadest societal benefit) and meritocratic (with the most qualified and non-corrupt leaders). Instead of ad hoc and reactive politics, technocracies are where political science starts to look like something worthy of the term: A rigorous approach to policy.1

The notion of technocracy is not new but that people are actually contemplating this form of governance in our moment when both the Left and Right are in the extreme modes of embitterment, and the common man is fed up with both, and the populist revolt that sparked Trump and brought both the Left and Right into an end game for Democracy is. Are we staging a new Technocracy in our time? With the looming sense of catastrophe, climacteric collapse, Sixth Extinction events, and the immersion of most of the world in drought, famine, and austerity the mobilization of a technological fix is being hyped in all quarters. Where do we go from here?

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Revolutionary Violence: Libertinism, Rationalism, and the New Barbarism

Since the time of Plato and Aristotle the ‘question about the sense of being’ has ‘fallen into oblivion’ (BT, 1f.). ‘Oblivion’ is Vergessenheit , ‘forgottenness’, from vergessen , ‘to forget’.

—Martin Heidegger: The Question of Being

Many know my involvement in the study of ancient and modern forms of gnosis and Gnosticisms, but few realize that there is a dark and revolutionary impetus to this world view which harbors at its heart a violence against the human. For the Gnostics the enemy was the natural order the Greeks termed heimermene. The Stoic philosopher Chrysippus considered that “the cosmos is permeated and given life by the Pneuma, the same…makes a man a living, organic whole.” They considered *Pneuma* (Spirit) as an all-pervasive intelligent force that mixes with “shapeless and passive matter” and “imbues it with all its qualities.”1 The Stoics also referred to *heimarmene*, an orderly succession of cause and effect. To quote: “Heimarmene is the natural order of the Whole by which from eternity one thing follows another…[and] embodied in the definition of heimarmene follows its meaning as *Logos* (Eternal Reason), as the divine order and law, by which the cosmos is administered.” [Ibid, p. 58.]

Against this natural order the Gnostics would judge it as absolute evil. Most scholars of Gnosticism have identified the rebellion against the idea of cosmic order (Heimarmene) as its essential characteristic. The Gnostics do not deny to the world the attribute of order, but they interpret it as an abomination rather than a good. They do not say that the cosmos is disordered, but that it is governed by a rigid and hostile order, by a tyrannical and cruel law. Their God is not just outside and beyond the world, but against the world, and this is where they break away from Christianity. Moral rebellion reflects a metaphysical rebellion. Therefore, the Gnostic position leads to the obliteration of ethics, as refusal to respect being and to be faithful to objective norms. This refusal was the common root of two opposite attitudes, libertinism as desecration of reality and asceticism as its radical rejection.

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Gothic Futurism: Decopunk, Templexity, and the Shadowlands of Modernity

The strongest counter current in Europe to modernity’s embrace of light, linearity and evolutionary advance was the Gothic Revival. The movement began in England at the heart of the industrial age. Its emergence and subsequent spread posed a dramatic challenge to the ideology of reason and progress that seemed so married to the machine age. The Gothic expressed the dark side of reason, the anti-enlightenment, the unconscious of modernity.

—Anna Greenspan,  Shanghai Future: Modernity Remade

Cities of the future are shaped by intense competition, because tomorrow is a tight, fiercely contested niche.

—Nick Land, Templexity

Michael Lewis cited by Anna Greenspan in her book Shanghai Future: Modernity Remade noting the emergence of Gothic style, says: ‘During its years of greatest influence, it subjected every aspect of art, belief, society and labour to intense intellectual scrutiny, using the Middle Ages as a platform from which to judge the modern world … In the broadest view, [the Gothic Revival] is the story of Western civilisation’s confrontation with modernity.’1

She speaks of Horace Walpole and his gothic novel The Castle of Otranto: A Gothic Story which emerged from his fright at his own life lived in the haunts of his monstrous gothic mansion, its ‘vast distances and ramblings, deserted or ruined wings, damp corridors, unwholesome hidden catacombs, and galaxy of ghosts and appalling legends’ (SF: 75). As the foundational novel of the weird this emergence of the past in the present with its return of the daemonic and unconscious elements of former epochs would impact the shadows of modernity, and as Greenspan remarks that the Gothic revival with its nostalgic recollection of the past, would like modernity itself, immerse itself not in some return of tradition but seek its identity through a futurist orientation. (SF: 75)

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The Technocommercium: Assemblages of the Mechanosphere

Everything becomes imperceptible, everything is becoming-imperceptible on the plane of consistency, which is nevertheless precisely where the imperceptible is seen and heard. It is the Planomenon, or the Rhizosphere, the Criterium (and still other names, as the number of dimensions increases. At n dimensions, it is called the Hypersphere, the Mechanosphere. It is the abstract Figure, or rather, since it has no form itself, the abstract Machine of which each concrete assemblage is a multiplicity, a becoming, a segment, a vibration. And the abstract machine is the intersection of them all.

—Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus

Over the years my interest in technology, capitalism, and philosophy have lead me into some very strange territory, territory of thought that has for the most part deterriotorialized my assumptions, prejudices, and beliefs in what it means to be human. Lately this convergence to technology and commerce have begun reformatting the very structures of political economics and the liberal world view that have since the Enlightenment Age been the cornerstone of modern society and civilization. Our universalists pretensions which guided most of the globalization of commerce during this era of expansion have led us into war, climacteric devastation, and the collapse of the very value systems that once embedded us in the world.

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