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.

Darkness

If I have a belief it’s in the darkness.
I feel safe in that pitiless vacuum.
I cannot see any thing, and the nothing that is cannot see me;
At least that’s the lie I tell myself.
Who knows what the other knows?
We talk and talk and talk…
But do we ever really hear the silence in one another?
And when we come together what then?
Aren’t we something else then, a part of that secret world,
A world only we share but no one else can know?
(Do we even know its secrets?) There’s always this opacity there
Just where you and I make contact. What is that?
Have we ever truly touched each other (not
flesh on flesh, the sensual tracings in the dark,
but that vital center where the flames reside?),
Or is it impossible to caress the darkness between us?

©2021 S.C. Hickman

Drifts

We need to unbind the spherical men,
Let them roll off into the dead lands
Where they can lose themselves
Among the white drifts merciless blanks;
The piercing blasts that hide the black sun.

Need we say what has been lost.
The cities where Ananke’s subtle limits bless;
Lays traps for those mortal liberators
(We’ve seen them come and go
Along that perilous way — )

Who cast their gaze inwardly.
(Do they see as we see?)
Else the measure of the heart
Is less than nothing,
Everything else remaining all we can know or be.

©2021 S.C. Hickman

Flight

Moon-sleeper, night-walker,
Why do you hide among the bones?

Did you really think the old man in the tower
Could invoke the ancient powers of earth?

You cannot return to a world lost among its dreams.
Why do you stand there in the flames?

Sometimes there is no answer to wind…
Why do you fly then?

©2021 S.C. Hickman

Shadows & Light

The shadow of shadows falls
across the afternoon light as if
the time were earlier than it is,
a sifting of the dearth of leaves,
the twining of a season’s turning.

We labor under the illusion that shadows
hold us in translucency —
sun hawk rising, cresting the snow-glint heights
only to fall toward the white flow, a blur;
eyes golden beyond despair seeing what cannot be seen.

Does time shape the curvature of stars?
Impishly the cold blaze of flames smiles
against such thoughts as these;
broken promises that seem amiss
shadowing us as the sea’s light drifts beyond human forfeiture.

But do not be too harsh on her
who came back with these dark anemones:
tears for a final shadow loosening
earth from the glimpse of past wrong:
a lover’s eyes glimpsed in the shadows darkening swerve.

©2021 S.C. Hickman

A Curse or Blessing?

“Your young men will see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.”
—Joel 2:28

Past lives haunt me in old age.
Last night I woke up smelling blood,
Combat and agon riddling my head.
Dark days of war, the clash of steel.
Mead halls full of brash young men,
Bitter words and strong drink,
Hands clasped in friendship and valor;
Eyes crossing old foes and elders.

For years I slept like the dead: dreamless.
But now in fits and starts, awakenings,
Horrors grasp my mind, violent days,
Nights hollowed out, ancestral curses,
Unfinished business, bones rattling
Darkened lairs of shadows and murmurs;
Unbidden rituals of murderous intent,
Where men are broken in anguish and misery.
I sometimes wonder who and what I am;
Such worlds returning now to curse or bless.

©2021 S.C. Hickman

The Blooms That Will Not Rise

Most of us have given up
the myth of everlastingness.
Oh it was fine for the hooded crowd,
a justification against bare plumage:
the splenetic screech of the Peacock’s tongue:
a ceremony of love among so many dismal nights.
But now? Stars explode, dark holes swallow
them whole. What’s left of paradise?
We live, we die, then we’re forgotten. Our names
attached to someone else’s broken image.
Never ours. Instead we slip between
unnoticed and unnamed, an uncreated spark:
never to be known, because never part
of the circling flame – a mere loan to sun and moon.
At least that’s how the knowers know. Who knows?
Any thing risen from the blooms enfolded tomb?

©2021 S.C. Hickman

Lies Never End

Have you felt that desperation of heart?
You know what I mean. When nothing
One says or does changes things;
Only the pain remains, the memory of defeat.
We’ve all been their, right? Especially you.
It’s a look in the eye, a rejection;
A softening of the lips, the turn of the head
As it shifts toward absence; the silence
One is given even when there is so much noise.
Don’t tell me you haven’t felt it. You’d be a liar.
The others always seem to know something you do not.
Why is that? Why do they stare bullet holes in your skull,
Only to turn their deadly gaze away
Challenging their eyes with a curse.
If they care so much why do they pretend otherwise.
You’ve been there, you know the truth…  will the lies ever end?

©2021 S.C. Hickman

The Red Stain

Even now the saurian gaze of his stone cold eyes
Reflects neither the slate tinted sky nor my green mind;
Silent in this stark wilderness, windless rubbings 
Of a scree slide petroglyph’s alien codes forestalls
All confusion between his red threaded tongue 
And my peckish appetite, a tremor vibrating
Through us freeing our intemperate stares 
(Balance of a life hanging
       down…) toward the red stained 
             Sunset

bleeding…

©2021 S.C. Hickman

The Ventriloquist’s Art

“Being a ventriloquist is a lot of fun.” —Jon Padgett, The Secret of Ventriloquism

It moved. Sightless, thoughtless. The wooden armature
Among the fabricated twists and bends, the painted
Lips and hair, the floppy hat, the elongated nose,
The red glitter of shoes: all moved. Self-propelled
Among lifeless wood attached neither by cables
Nor the Puppeteer’s grand schemes of trickery;
A hunk of carved monstrosity, the terror of the corpse
Alive to the inner thrust of dust, the fluid vitality
Animated by its own trifling need to be, and to be free:

             Spoke! 

The man, if man it could be called, sat silently
As the living wood arranged itself, mimicking
The rigid lifelessness of the man thing — a secret
Complicity between man and wood, ties of strangeness:
A composure of tension subservient to will and power,
A confrontation with the fatalistic art of defiance.
Each unwilling to give way to the other’s will,
The subtle dance of eye and eye channeling
Some well-learned but hidden mystery, a quickening.

The mouth’s aperture, an abyss within which one is lost,
The caustic wit that supervenes between two dead things;
Man and wood, an art that calls both to the dark world,
Where voice and mind seem relative to unbidden relations.
A practice sets the crooked lips which moving hint of cynical forays,
Time’s carnival opening on to broken harbingers of uncanniness.
The tribe of daemons inhabiting neither man nor wood
Take up their positions in-between both, like clowns
Awaiting the Ringmaster’s voice — the act arising of its own accord.

Before words can flow the beginner’s alphabet must
Surface through those wooden lips till each nuance
Binds the machinic wisdom of those crafted traceries:
The ornate obligations that stoop to bend lip and hand;
Fragmented churnings assuring practice of an ancient kind
Welds man and wood to the known paths of illusion’s fakery.
Shape those letters to the air where the ancient throng
Bestir themselves awaiting incarnation in the chance meeting
Between wood and man following the oldest form of magick.
Delusions skein coiled round the lips that speak, a voicing
Only poets know and are known by as if the world and time
Offered all a chance remembrance of the awakening into catastrophe.

©2021 S.C. Hickman

Fastidious

Fastidious. Circumspect to the moment’s crafting light,
my mother. Her eyes lost in those memories, visions;
some called it the ‘inner light’ (what did she see?), othering
worlds just beyond the seen, where the known and unknown

cross each other like lost travelers: puzzled, observant, quickened
by strangeness. Stubborn and focused she’d shape hands to thread
creating dreams made visible, objects both magical and ordinary.
Slipping from one memory to the next, voicing her perplexity with time,

she’d quip and quote women I’d never known except in daguerreotype;
brown tinted lives gone gray in the world we’ve all forgotten; yet, uncanny,
her remembrance bringing such thoughts and images back from somewhere,
somewhen. (Where? When?) I could tell when she was about to drift —

wander into the othering place where men were not allowed. I often wished
I could follow her there, down into that blessed region outside history,
where she seemed to gather strength and power, a woman’s power
               to carry us who could not carry ourselves. 

©2021 S.C. Hickman

Night’s Changelings

Day by day the cracked earth stings,
lips chapped to the sun’s unslaked fiends;
step to step sounding the gray dawn,
circling furrows in a vicious crawl.

Eyes strain against the heat, the fake light
hovering in illusive trailing’s of a rich man’s life;
a semblance of paradise, not the grasping whirl,
a dust wall presaging terror in a knot of icy fire.

Red gasps at end of day, twilight’s reign 
where two worlds shake the inlaid chest;
the silver on the winged cloud lies of change,
where only now the confused cry of a lone hawk fell.

He lays there listening, night’s changeling
rifting paradise of its last silences: a voice
breaks free in the emptiness: a drifter’s mirage,
oak-born owls swinging branch-wise against his mind.

©2021 S.C. HIckman

Chasing Devils In Our Wine

“The world breaks everyone, and afterward, many are strong at the broken places.”
― Ernest Hemingway

Maybe it was best this way. Not belonging.
Not having a home, a place to rest my head.
City after city, job after job, a life alone, roaming…

Never did fit in with the crowd. Tried. Never worked.
Like my mind was cracked. Touched by some unpleasantness.
Kept thinking it would pass. It didn’t. Nothing ever does.

Yet, I was not alone. There were others like me. Nomads.
We’d come together in the night, stalking nightmares we deny.
Bars and lonely women empty as we were and are. Endless.

Maybe we are already dead. Is this the end of it?
Lining the tunnels with our cardboard lives, chasing devils
In our wine. There is no solace in this bitterness. No pity either.

Why rage against the night? What would it do? The stars
Are mindless as we are, indifferent to our plight. We live,
We die. That is all. Stubbornness our only recourse against sincerity.

©2021 S.C. Hickman

Wisdom Chaser

Will you trade words, earth wanderer? Know the dark ways
that harry a man down, squander resources, break minds
beyond hope; mix words, riddle the stars,
curse the very land that wastes all. Speak, brother

of the leaf and wind, rock and sea, let them see what is –
eye-spent drifter without hearth or kith. Can you read
the signs, break bread among the warring tribes, teach
children the natural ways; bring back the wisdom

of the deep seas grace. Why trouble the sky
with your lies? Speak plainly, cunning one, else walk away
into the darkness of your kind. Trouble not the elders,
nor the little ones who must survive. Would you learn the lore?

Know loss beyond redemption? Enter the bloody fray
where brave and coward alike fall before the ancient truth?
Then follow the taloned pride of the Eagle to his rocky lair,
the night-winged Owl as she stalks the moonless realms;

know the language of deer and panther in their innocence. 
Unlearn hatred, walk free of spite and terror alike. Cast
your eyes against the broken ways. Give us back the face
you had before the cry of flesh and a woman’s death.

©2021 S.C. Hickman

Oedipal Bastards Like Us

Oedipal bastards like us deserve our fate.
Bitter days in blind disgust. Old men’s memories
Haunting us like a woman’s spiteful curse.
Mangy as a dying dog he wanders between bed and bowl.

He used to be fit and thin, a stubborn man,
Solitaire but not alone; neither clown nor killer
He stalked my nights a ghost, a suicide.
Pain pricks us into thought whether we will or no.

The crossroads always signified a terrible destiny.
The shotgun spent, his skull unpacked,
The world went dark, and silent. Even now
His eyes are blank, the hollows black and lonely.

All his life he’d sought paradise, failing that
He’d plunged his mind beyond all telling, fallen
Now beyond redemption, a shadow walker.
Suffering has no sense, just silence, lost in darkness.

©2021 S.C. Hickman

Night’s Carnival

The sun cannot repair the damage of the night,
The silences between your smile and mine;
The focus of our desperate thoughts and dreams,
The shattered wisdom of our ancient sapience;
For now we dance upon a field of tears
In the twilight of this age of dust;
Two deadly members of that hated race,
Dismembering our blasted world of rage.

©2021 S.C. Hickman

The Vicious Circle

Old bones still twist him back to day,
Her smile, dismissive, finds him young again;
A stubborn fool whose memories bode ill-health:
“Who is he to turn away these bright bolts that slay?”

He’d have it other than it is, but knows how fiercely she asserts
Her sovereign will, challenging all her lovers;
An agon beyond truce – love’s honor the only prize:
Shadowed by the witchery of her ancient curse.

Coldness be my steel against her evil spell,
For I have need of Ananke’s broken shield;
I seek dark blessings worth their deadly tally:
Life, this life, repeated till the vicious circle closes, still and silent.

©2021 S.C. Hickman

Tattoo Apocalypse

Tattoo’s appeared. Curious he let it go on.
Flesh moving with a serpent’s coils across his abdomen.
The clown’s eye opened on an ancient tower curled round his neck,

Where the monkey man swung upon the vine turning
And turning into a woman’s scream upon his buttocks. 
The story of the world slowly unfolded. The barcodes of a sex toy

Erased the history of the Renaissance. No one knows why
But the island sank, and some surmise it was the bad ink
That dripped into his veins when the open sea of sores popped on his nose.

He offered her a dream voyage into the mystery of his primal rage,
But she knew better than to follow him into that rising sun’s bloody haze.
The world is fading now, turning gray. The prospects of change have changed.

Travel agents have bargained with him for new destinations.
The edgelands of his bony scalp have thickened to the storm of memories now.
Even the arresting officer commented on the weather patterns

Drifting on the sea of his cracked skull. At the funeral the tattoos started fading.
So too did the landscapes of our earthly life. Now a uniform darkness covers all.

©2021 S.C. Hickman

Midnight Rendezvous

We walked along the edge of night
like lovers seeking some secret destination —

the slow pace, the glances; kisses,
eyes crossing under the street lamps.

The quickened pace in the rain, surprise:
forcing us to cling in the wind’s sad motion.

Even at the corner, in the dark of that alleyway,
knowing as we know and are known —

emptied of the pain, memories;
we touched and it was too much, reluctant…

reaching at last the place of light
and darkness, our midnight rendezvous.

©2021 S.C. Hickman

This is no time to sleep…

Capture2

This is no time to sleep   death
Will come soon enough, but not now;
No now we must stay awake, listen
And voice our concern. The best
Have already passed by, no return
From the country of the blind. But I hear them whispering
Like those leaves that shatter the morning light. 
Maybe it’s better this way, a difficult gesture 
Whose confusion keeps us asking for more
       life.

©2021 S.C. Hickman

She Sang Me Into Light

I’ve been searching for her all my life.
Under the deathly lights of this black night,
Even as the mists turn white before the sea’s cold foam,
I feel her presence somewhere ahead. She said she’d stop
And wait for me between the darkening sands and the moon born sea.  

I hear her mocking voice who would lead astray. Whispers… wastrels!
Her fierce cry breaks across blank skies where nothing is.
I peer into the wet mesh, faceless as the morning sun I can barely see.
Her voice held me in its power, my mind locked to the sea’s enfolding savagery.
I could not move and yet I moved as she sang me into light.

©2021 S.C. Hickman

Blind

i am a blind man which way shall i go
crossing

is this the valley where the bones stitch themselves whole
falling forward

touching her flesh brings nothing back but nothing
rushing

funnel me down step by step until i’m wet with the last wave
collapsing

staring into that warmth burning in my sockets i know
emergence

sluiced it rises to meet what is at last
birthing


S.C. Hickman ©2021

the lingering

death is always lingering in the air
the hoofprints of another always vanishing

and we like wounded deer follow the scent
knowing we will be edged into judgment

no one can speak to those moments
the solitary agon of desperate thoughts failing

in that darkness where even ghosts lose themselves
we find her laying there in a pool of blood

we would like to meld our mind to hers
know what she knows as the last thought leaves


S.C. Hickman ©2021

Bones of the Earth

the bones of the earth have lost their luster
no one left to acknowledge their light

even the rust colludes with the chemical death of giants
somber eyes sinking into black holes lifeless fold into this darkness

it is expected that the weather will change
even now the dead oceans churn to a slow forgetfulness

what will rise out of this ash to sing
when the day is long and nothing remains but these blanched sheaves


S.C. Hickman ©2021

before the plague

we touched flesh      long ago
                       once                           among so many last things
.   
        heart’s entwined among the tubular cells

  .                 networks sounding

  .                                  a cross between thought and flesh

                      non-dual appendages
……………………               fragments of intelligence

.                  grafting’s lower down the matrices
.                          where sonic pleasures
      .                                still vibrate

causal chains releasing fingers

.                                               children still walking in the garden

.                        lost among the foliage


©2021 S.C. Hickman

Time’s Last Kiss

When I reached a river, it was too far below me, and my thirst was unabated.

—Harold Bloom

When one is young…

Time is like a distant cousin that one sees from time to time during some family reunion, a festival of the season like Christmas or Easter, her pretty face smirking and full of mischief she sits across the table known but unknown.

When one is old…

Time presses down on one like a Succubus extracting pleasure from your pain, her eyes glowing fiery with that dark intensity only those who know time is well past absolution would feign suffer. One should have seen coming that which cannot be lightly dismissed, but were too busy forgetting in the daily activities that have always allowed one to be mercifully distracted. Not now that comforting gaze of one’s cousin in her youthful merriment. No. Now is the time of demons and suffering, nights when sleep and death seem not like twins but old enemies who will never be reconciled by touch or care. Falling and failing are one’s lot now, each breath a momentary reprieve from the cold hearth that awaits one in that dank tomb. And, yet, as memory and desire waver over those moments in time, when life seemed so full of grace and vitality, one begins to understand that reconciliation and redemption have already come and gone like old lovers whose last kiss still lingers on the fragrant morning air that carries one forward and downward …

Tom Bland: Time Fucked You Up

 

A poet friend Tom Bland’s poem Time Fucked You Up

that film made me think about the
constantly open
porn cinema that was behind Dean Street

the smell of every type of cum
rising like fumes from the godawful seats
where the men’s elbows had no choice but to touch

their eyes fixated on the screen but the shadows of penises to
the sides: the
vagina projected to a giant proportion on the screen

the very place of their birth     their desire to rush back
inside Continue reading

The Cybergrim Aesthetic – Precarity and the Neoliberal Endgame

Necroliberal culture has injected into the social brain a constant stimulus towards competition and the technical system of the digital network has rendered possible an intensification of informatic stimuli, transmitted from the social brain to individual brains. —Anon

The Cybergrim City is a place where power makes bodies vulnerable to death and exploitation by limiting time in certain spaces, forcing continual mobility, increasing time in toxic, violent and surveilled spaces, justifying these necro-temporal policies through precarity. The dense city or megalopolis of the near future will be a Necroscape, a site of surveillance capitalism, a factory of death where the furnaces of capital and sex play out their games of sacrifice and eros – the pleasure/pain of an occulture of pure jouissance.

The Necroscapes of the future will be sites of surpassing repetition producing liminal zones of necrotic existence. A libidinal economy of necrotic repetition, a sado-masochistic environ of predatory existence; competition on steroids. The marketization and militarization of these necrofeudal enclaves will harbor the architecture of death, much as the ancient cities of Moloch were built around the never-dying ovens of a sacrificial holocaust of babies, or the Mayan cities of blood where obsidian dreams of knowledge and power sacrificed warriors at the peak of their existence, cannibalizing their hearts in rituals of bloodletting to the gods of time.

The ultimate expression of sovereignty largely resides in the power and capacity to dictate who is able to live and who must die. To kill or to let live thus constitutes sovereignty’s limits, its principal attributes. To be sovereign is to exert one’s control over mortality and to define life as the deployment and manifestation of power. —Achille Mbembe, Necropolitics

As Berardi once suggested we “have to look at the cyberspace of global production as an immense expanse of depersonalized human time” (32 Precarious Rhapsody). In a necroeconomy the human body is excluded. Depersonalized time becomes the real agent of the process of valorization, and depersonalized time has no rights, nor any demands. It can only be either available or unavailable, but the alternative is purely theoretical because the physical body despite not being a legally indexed commodity is the last bastion of the connected. (33 PR) The laborers of the future are mere zombies, the living dead of the precarity, whose only access to the market or life is by way of the neuralink implants now attached to their brains at birth. Like denizens of some nefarious underworld they are called forth from their necrohibernation through the necrolinks of their brain-interface like drones reconnecting their abstract time to the necroticular flux.

Power is the agency that reduces the field of possibility to a prescriptive order; power, therefore, is the actual source of sad passions, and their existence can be seen as an effect of the subjugation of the soul to the force of power. —Francesco Berardi,  Futurability: The Age of Impotence and the Horizon of Possibility

This is a world or neocameral City-States, mini-states, or neostates where the rich and elite gather behind protective macropodic security systems to fend off the excluded, anarchic, and outcase outlaws and renegades of a new dark age of man. Nick Land remarks that the macropod has one law: “the outside must pass by way of the inside”. Where humans are no longer singular and free, but rather are machines in an assemblage of desiring machines, plugged into “segmented and anthropomorphized sectors of assembly circuits as the attribute of a personal being”. (Machinic Desire) In his reading of Anti-Oedipus he observes a philosophy of the machine, one which advances an “anorganic functionalism that dissolves all transcendence,” and “mobilizes a vocabulary of the machine, the mechanic, and machinism” (MD, p. 4). This is a black-box theory of use and pragmatic endeavor that asks the question(s) ‘What are your desiring-machines, what do you put into these machines, what is the output, how does it work, what are your nonhuman sexes?’ (Anti-Oedipus, p. 322).

Necrodigital slaves of the futural market, fractalized and fragmented, their bodies excluded, only their minds as info-workers co-habit the black circuitry of capital time where their avatar existence is consumed. The Info-slavery is affirmed as a mode of necromantic, precarious and depersonalized, work. The personal has given way to absolute transparency, a cyber-panopticon that is the necrofluidic vitality of this monstrous system of non-life. An economy of death and its production.

In fact this is a dark virtual materialism that names an “ultra-hard antiformalist AI program, engaging with biological intelligence as subprograms of an abstract post-carbon machinic matrix, whilst exceeding any deliberated research project” (MD, p. 5). This is Land’s attack on all those systems of Transcendental logic like the medieval construction kits of the New Prometheans, Brassier and Negarestani, who seek (after Sellars/Brandom) to build navigational systems in the “space of reasons” into command and control centers of the deontological giving and asking of reasons in a normative throwback of an age when ethics and the epistemological world still believed in itself: – a world updated only in its speculative status as hyperfictional philo-fiction. Land instead following in that other tradition of the dark vitalist curve from Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Bataille, Freud, Deleuze/Guattari, et. al. brings us the machinic desires at the heart of the Real, where a hidden impulsive, desiring machine flows through the compositional and decompositional realms of economics, politics, and scientific endeavor.

Land would have us enter the death realms of Synthanatos – the terminal productive outcome of human history as a machinic process, yet it is virtually efficient throughout the duration of this process, functioning within a circuit that machines duration itself. In this way virtuality lends its temporality to the unconscious, which escapes specification within extended time series, provoking Freud to describe it as timeless. (MD, p. 5) Much like J.G. Ballard’s Chronotopia, or City of Timeless duration and assemblages of interlocked labyrinthine systems actively pursuing the eternity of desire without end, Land offers an ironic take on Anti-Oedipus as less a philosophy book than “an engineering manual; a package of software implements for hacking into the machinic unconscious, opening invasion channels” (MD, p. 5).

This sense of movement or feed-back loops or self-reflecting short-circuiting ride between the virtual Real of the unconscious Subject, and the actual world of the conscious active negativity and self-relating nothingness (Zizek) of awareness is an immanent process of gift exchange and excess. Following Freud (Death-drives, repetition compulsion, narcissism, solipsism, etc.), and Lyotard (libidinal materialism) he will describe certain issues “…the convergence of cybernetic, economic, and libidinal discourses, virtual materialism has considerable problems with this passage” (MD, p. 6). After explicating in detail the inner problems in the several discourses he will reduce it to a minimal statement, saying, that these machinic processes of desiring machines “are either cyberpositive-nomadic, with a deterritorializing outcome, or cybernegative-sedentary, with a reterritorializing outcome” (MD. p. 6). Again, the sense of a circuit or feedback, but one that works to construct, while the other tears down and deconstructs, composition and decomposition.

Inorganic Thanatos wrecks order, organic Eros preserves it, and as the carbon-dominium is softened-up by machine plague, deterritorializing replicants of nomad-cyberrevolution close in upon the reterritorializing reproducers of the sedentary human security system, hacking into the macropod. (MD, pp. 6-7)

Ours is a traumatic world full of fissures and horror, and “Freud characterizes trauma as an ‘invasion’, ‘a breach in an otherwise efficacious barrier against stimuli’, infiltrating alien desires — xenopulsions – into the organism.” (MD, p. 8)”. We may be entering the moment of a phase transition in which the inhuman death drive is enabling a machinic explosion of intelligence based on quantum mechanics and other NBIC technologies (nanotech, biotech, Information and Communications Tech, etc.) that will lead to a necrotic explosion at the heart of the Real, a release of toxic spoors from the nether regions of a hyperaccelerated future no one could have imagined, and none shall survive. Thanatos is dead, long live Thanatopia!

I keep thinking of a cross between Jeffrey Thomas’s Punktown books and the deathworlds and necroscapes of video games like Doom Eternal; J.G. Ballard’s later novels where the psychopath becomes the new agent of change; or the necrotombs of Gary J. Shipley where the end game of our terminal malaise of a civilization terminates in a zone of pure repetition and death. Pushing Neoliberalism to its ultra end-game as the pure worship of death, and the production of Hell on Earth in a toxic game of precarity and sacrifice to the gods of competition. Ultimately pushing the Grimdark aesthetic to its hypernecrotic finale…

Entangled

A teaser from my Cybergrim Novel in process… opening sequence.

Entangled

“Precarity, wake up dammit!”

Hell is waking up and realizing you’re a program in someone else’s digital mindware. There is no escape, no exit, and you know the algorithmic truth – that the quantum information in which you find yourself entangled has been scrambled beyond redemption or retrieval. You can only repeat the endless life codes someone else controls, like a puppet in a diabolical engineering plot you roam the electronic void like a mythological agent of an alien mind.

“Ok, ok, give me a sec…” Rubbed my bleary eyes and synced the bioscreen. Green and red LED’s flashed on the folds of the inscape relays, left to right / up and down. Scanned and ported the neuralfeed to on position. The holochron on the the datatab was the only thing glowing in the quantum darkness beyond: 02:30 SMY. If you’d been a CI operative – Competitive Intelligence Division – for as long as I had you learned the hard way to take it all in stride. I sat up, popped a pill, bled the almost empty tumbler dry and queried: “Who the frack is this?”

“Who do you think, Jones?” A voice like a hippo intoned.

I knew who it was, couldn’t mistake that arrogant bastard. Bossman Joe a.k.a. “Joseph R. Greathouse”, or at least his facsimile – twitching on the neurofeed like a neon diamondback ready to strike. My crew and I’d done odd jobs from time to time for Greathouse Enterprises, an InfoCorp Bioweapons firm in Shiva City – Harbinger Quadrant. He has a place on the Lux River, a Light Tower that brought the Three-Worlds together. Headquarters of the Gaian Conclave. Some said the Tower was alive, heart of the Sentient City, a living goddess… but, we knew better it was an AGI that had its hooks in everything, ran splice rhizomes through a trillion sensors that seemed to know your every move and thought before you did. Yea, a real nice place. That is if you liked angels, real decopunk jobs, slick nanobots like hypervalent flyers from a transtemporal universe. But me and my crew? No. We were of the demon clans. Undercity denizens. Wouldn’t have it any other way. Liked our little hideaway in the tunnels below Shibatsu.

“I’ll bite, so what’s the pitch?” I yawned. Hated the bastard but he kept my crew and I in the mix, so I’d suffer his crap till something better came my way. That’s the way of it in the Shibatsu.

“Listen, Precarity… listen hard,” a seriousness I’d not expected. “We’ve got to meet. None of your slipshod excuses either. Got me?”

Dam I hated going up city, but more that that I despised being in his presence. Fat, ugly, smoked those two-bit cigars from a steamcopy catalog, Old Havana biochems, 3D print jobs tasting more like homegrown algae than tobacco. But hey, no one is perfect, right?

“Ok, I’ll fast-track it and slide in tomorrow morning.”

I was about to shut the neurofeed down when he said: “Take the Shev-Train, Precarity. Be here tonight.”

“Frak it if I’ll take that slime train tonight.” Dam, fool, I hated that quant-tube. Who the hell liked being demolecularized? Always left me feeling like a burned-out hypersuit, razed and shredded.

“You’ll do it are be wiped! Kapeesh! And…” he paused.

“Yea?”

“Bring the crew, Precarity, this one’s business… and, I do mean BUSINESS! Got that?”
Well, when he said it that way I had to think hard – nah, even if I was a pawn in a script of coded nausea I’d begun to like our datavillain lifestyle here in the dark zones. It had its perks!

“No problemito… I get it!” I wanted to reach through the neuralnet feed and fry his ass, but knew that wasn’t goin’ to happen.

“Good! And by the way Precarity there’s the matter of Chogan’s Run to clear up, too!” He blinked off.

I felt the back of my mind blink off, too. Why Chogan’s Run? And, why now? Shite! Dam the bastard.
———————————–

©2020 S.C. Hickman

A Post-Democratic World? Or, How We Got Here…

It’s apparent that the USA is undergoing a massive shift in its social, political, and cultural world view. I don’t think we can return to the old two-party system that existed before the Trump era. Both parties that represented the Conservative and Liberal traditions under the auspices of Republican and Democrat offer the solutions we so desperately need to truly unify our nation.

Philosophically the pressure toward alternative solutions of socio-cultural and political mobilizations have moved on already. Even the extremes of political anarchism and libertarianism are dead, and those of socialism and communism are no longer viable. Philosophers have been moving beyond the underpinnings of Enlightenment thought based on disenchantment, secularization, and scientific culture for decades. The first sign of this was the Postmodern critique of analogue culture of cinema, television, and analogue media propaganda and ideological systems of consumerist society. From the Frankfurt school to Fredrick Jameson’s late capitalist reflections there was a slow and methodical deconstruction of the mechanisms that gave rise to what has now been termed Neoliberalism.

At the heart of the Postmodern critique lay the tradition of the liberal humanist Subject, the individual as promoted within the ideology of Western Individualism. The core principals of Neoliberalist tradition were based on the moral economy of life that is configured in its ideals of formal freedom, individualism, and personal responsibility. The core values of the Neoliberal world view are respect for the rule of law, protection of the individual’s right to self-determination, the re-creation of civil society as a place of free exchange (of capital, ideas, culture, etc.), and the limitation of governmental powers were presented as essential conditions for a peaceful and prosperous world order. This was the central motif of the Mount Pelerin society from which the whole complex of Neoliberal free-market ideology would emerge. The atomistic individual was the bedrock of this social control mechanism against the perceived threat of both Fascist and Communist forms of socialism during that era. Hayek and others of this period believed that the individual must be protected from collectivist ideologies of any stripe or persuasion, otherwise they believed the individual tends to become a cypher of political and economic powers that seek to control society as a whole and thereby loses its power of spontaneous self-realization.

In fact Hayek’s basic thesis was that it is the primary responsibility of the developed industrial nations to ensure that the incipient socialism of the New Deal and Welfare State programmes was not allowed to take them back down ‘the road to serfdom.’ The move away from affective politics and a process of rational and existential abstraction would drive a new form of technocapitalist politics based on a culture of scientific experts, economists, and academic-think tanks who would guide the Neoliberal vision of a technocratic State. As Ross Abbinnett will put it in The Neoliberal Imagination:

“What was radically new about the liberal philosophy expounded by Hayek, Friedman, and the rest of the Mont Pelerin Society, therefore, was their determination to defend the idea that the ‘objective’ forms of social life (science, technology, law, religion, etc.) should be conceived as contested sites through which the rational will of private individuals constantly reasserts its transformative spontaneity. The formal, non-contingent right of human beings to dispose of their labour, their bodies, their intellectual gifts, and their artistic talents is the first principle of a free market that constantly expands to accommodate new entrepreneurial strategies and which stands against all forms of collectivist idealism and totalitarian government.”

Ultimately the neoliberal ideology would become implicated in an expanding global class conflict, in which the ‘bourgeois class’ (considered as a loose amalgamation of capitalists, entrepreneurs, technocrats, scientists, etc.) preferred the destruction of human society to the loss of its economic assets and political dominance. The essence of neoliberal ideology, therefore, has emerged as its ability to reconfigure the strictures of financialized capitalism as modes of moral life and personal freedom, and to legitimize the marketization of state welfare institutions and the whole of the public sphere. The deliberate deregulation of markets and the State controlled Welfare mechanisms put in place by Roosevelt’s New Deal gave rise to the inequalities, race relations, and general destruction of both the American economy and its social and political democracy.


(I’ll continue in another post…)


Neoliberalism: A Bibliography Short List:

-Brown, Wendy. In the Ruins of Neoliberalism
-Mirowski, Philip. The Road from Mont Pelerin: The Making of the Neoliberal Thought Collective
-Dieter Plehwe, Quinn Slobodian, and Philip Mirowski. Nine Lives of Neoliberalism
-Biebricher, Thomas. The Political Theory of Neoliberalism
-Matthew McManus. The Rise of Post-Modern Conservatism Neoliberalism, Post-Modern Culture, and Reactionary Politics
-Quinn Slobodian. Globalists The End of Empire and the Birth of Neoliberalism
-Martijn Konings. Capital and Time: For a New Critique of Neoliberal Reason Stanford University Press.
-Spencer, Douglas. The Architecture of Neoliberalism: How Contemporary Architecture Became an Instrument of Control and Compliance . Bloomsbury Publishing.
-Adam Kotsko. Neoliberalism’s Demons. Stanford University Press.
-David M. Kotz. The Rise and Fall of Neoliberal Capitalism.

The Inhuman Core of Reza Negarestani’s Philosophy

Reza Negarestani will elaborate a rationalist inhumanism as a new Humanism. In the second of two essays on the Labor of the Inhuman he will offer us this statement:

“Sufficiently elaborated, humanism – it shall be argued – is the initial condition of inhumanism as a force that travels back from the future to alter, if not to completely discontinue, the command of its origin.”1

Nick Land once told us that there’s “only really been one question, to be honest, that has guided everything I’ve been interested in for the last twenty years, which is: the teleological identity of capitalism and artificial intelligence.”2 For Land Capitalism = AI and it was sent back from the future to alter and shape humanity toward an inhuman Singularity beyond which “nothing human would get out alive.”

Continue reading

Daily Thoughts…

“Civilised life, you know, is based on a huge number of illusions in which we all collaborate willingly. The trouble is we forget after a while that they are illusions and we are deeply shocked when reality is torn down around us.”
― J.G. Ballard

It’s still worth realizing that the ‘postmodern mind’ developed in-between two technocapitalist regimes: analogue and digital. From the Frankfurt school onward we gained an apprehension of the analogue culture industry of consumerist capitalism. After the early to mid-90’s the browser wars and the interface to DARPAs networks would be commodified, and the emergence of the digital worldview of the simulated worlds of utopian desire would arise only to be slammed into commercial lockdown at the turn of the century.

Those born after the mid-80’s would emerge from the atomized passivity of TV culture and slowly formulate a global mindset. Yet, the small gap of freedom and creativity gained in desktop computing would give way once again to the passive app worlds of mobile phone culture. Once again people are given the illusion of creativity and freedom, but are guided and controlled with a passive array of mobile apps that offer little or no ability to change, modify, or create; rather one is bound by the coded algorithms of a marketed cash cow that captures your live in avatar data packs feeding it to the very corporate entities that then sell it back to you as entertainment or distraction.

Hardly anyone remembers the analogue world anymore. An unconnected world atomized, distant, and without interactive media. Having lived in both worlds I realize how much more empowered our digital lives are with access to so much more information, and yet like any technological break the old pharmakon of cure and poison inhabit the silent control vectors of this new world in ways we’re only beginning to understand. Our minds shaped by the very algorithms that once offered so much utopian dreams have and or becoming our world’s authoritarian realm of total control and tyranny.

I sometimes think if I pulled the plug, disconnected myself from this digital universe of simulated dreams and nightmares whether the solitude of existence without this system of distraction and capture could be sustained. Almost every aspect of my life is online, connected to shopping venues, social and entertainment venues, virtual friends, legal advice, health and government and banking… everything at my fingertips. Living as I do so far away from major cities I’d be hard put to return to a disconnected life since analogue is obsolesced we are now victims of our own success. Bound to the digital whether we will or not.

I watch those shows of homesteaders in Alaska realizing very few people could ever return to a subsistence world of absolute survival, a life that entails that one organize every minute of one’s existence around food, shelter, and hunting-gathering. Of course if some great cataclysm of war, famine, natural or man-made disaster forced us back into such a life due to a total collapse of economy and networks we’d be back at that stage of human degradation of forced survival protecting our family and loved ones from those who would kill or take without a second thought what is ours. A dog eat dog world.

I’m an old man. I think about such things. Most people are so distracted by their daily lives of struggle such things matter not. I understand that.

A Posthuman Neo-Decadence?

“Neo-Decadent writers will honour the fragmented, the contorted, the unfinished, the unpublished. Realising there is no glory, no reward, no lavish suppers or dancing on tables. Living in obscure lanes and remote canyons, things will be written in unread languages or translated from the language of lizards and snakes, plagiarised from deep wells and signed with hands wet with the dew of rotting fruit.”

—Brendan Connell, First Manifesto of Neo-Decadence

In Decadent Poetics: Literature and Form at the British Fin de Siècle there’s an essay by Dennis Denisoff ‘A Disembodied Voice’: The Posthuman Formlessness of Decadence. He argues that in the decadent prose of the era one finds attempts to force a shift in perspective that would no longer rely on the human subject as the foundation of ethical value, resulting in an ever-changing plurality of being. The challenge the decadents took on is no less than a nonhumanist reconceptualization of reality.

He goes on to say, and I paraphrase, the posthuman neo-decadent “shift allows what we understand as the human to be recognized instead as ‘fundamentally a prosthetic creature that has coevolved with various forms of technicity and materiality, forms that are radically “not-human” and yet have nevertheless made the human what it is’. As the decadents themselves had suggested and as Wolfe reiterates, this ever-changing, multi-perspectival world is not an ideal toward which to strive, but a reality that already exists but still needs to be recognized.”

It’s this notion in much of the early decadent literature which broke with mainstream culture and brought forth new forms and formlessness of the noumenal potential of an alterity already blossoming but unrecognized. A posthuman world already cracking through the chinks of bourgeois (middle-class) culture, tearing at its fake overlays revealing new sexualities and occult underworlds escaping the strict codes of Victorian society. Goes with the notion of Neo-Decadence as a black code virus undermining and destroying the fake worlds of neo-passeism culture of our day by allowing the new poisonous blossoms to emerge from the decaying ruins of our dead Civilization.


  1.  Jason David Hall (Author, Editor), Alex Murray (Editor). Decadent Poetics: Literature and Form at the British Fin de Siècle (Palgrave Studies in Nineteenth-Century Writing and Culture) 2013