The Posthuman Other

The Posthuman Other

“Rhetorics of depth or intensity must be sacrificed, not because actual bodies are abstractions, but because unbound posthumanism cannot frame the deracinative effects of the future as the adventure of some given subject (whether human, animal, mundane, or transcendental). If this future can be embodied, it is by remaking and remarking bodies, reiterating the disconnection that lifts the formerly human into the orbit of the posthuman.” (p. 82). …

“Posthumanism explores the possibility space of subjectivity through performance— mutating and experimenting with exemplars and models (biomorphs) rather than by inference or dialectics.” (p. 82). …

“I introduce the idea of limit agency to motivate the claim that our concepts of agency might be too parochial to travel far outside our historical niche. If so, unbinding posthumanism requires us to relinquish them as constraints on the potentialities released by the posthuman predicament. Thus, even the ecological agent of Posthuman Life proves too “speculative” for speculative posthumanism, which thus loses its means of identifying disconnection events. We must withdraw from speculations on technological deep-time bounded by a psychology-free ecological agency to terrain where disconnection becomes “maximally unbound.”” (p. 85).

—David Roden, Posthumanism: Critical, Speculative, Biomorphic

Note: Somewhere within these beings above there is a subtle inflection of David Roden himself. I used his photos, thoughts, both philosophical and fictional to create these posthuman beings who may or may not emerge out of some artificial agency in our coming age of disconnect.

david_roden_4a


©2022 S.C. Hickman All images were created with blender 3D, Photoshop, Midjourney ai, and other digital tools.

A Nice Little Miniature Globe: Have a Horror Holiday!

I just love miniature globes with all the little scenes carefully crafted in them… maybe we are just a scene in some horror merchant’s hellish paradise… what strange beast hides among the bones of the earth twitching and squirming among the tidepools of time…

Happy Holidays in infernal paradise…


©2022 S.C. Hickman All images were created with blender 3D, Photoshop, Midjourney ai, and other digital tools.

Art Inspired by David Roden’s Snuff Memories

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Art Inspired by David Roden’s Snuff Memories

“q-thinks Nessa Map’s sandy hair pale freckled, her skin’s persistent taint of cellulose from rotting books. Ligotti renders such things equivalent and useless: libraries, care homes, monasteries, cemeteries, craters, parking lots – ‘starless cities of insanity,’ the back-street medicine shop where his narrator loiters. ‘Medicine-shop situations’ without exception. I cannot, but if I could, I might except the periodic visits from a floating puppet in an anachronistic Pierrot costume.”

—David Roden, Snuff Memories


©2022 S.C. Hickman All images were created with blender 3D, Photoshop, Midjourney ai, and other digital tools.

Art Inspired by David Roden’s Snuff Memories

Art Inspired by David Roden’s Snuff Memories

David’s work is forcing me to think against myself. I see figural, and not abstract; and, yet, I need to turn myself inside out or outside in and see without seeing. New concepts, new techniques. Reading the passage below one can visually see it as physical, but how to see with the unseeing eye the conceptuality in it? This is my task:

“The Editor bursts from our belly and probes the air with lacy, silky antenna. We sponge the area defensively, soaking up blood and scraping something hard and pliant, like a soft shell below my thorax. This body is an enduring mystery.”

I let you decide…
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©2022 S.C. Hickman All images were created with Midjourney ai and are licensed by them for personal or commercial use.

Visions of a Fantastic Future: Posthuman Visions of the Weird

The anti-representationalist strategies, this aesthetic of ‘abstract horror’, and the fantastic realist use of a conceptual terror fused in sensual abstraction. Along with use abstract concepts rather than metaphors to describe and think the physical against the transcendence mode in metaphysics of two thousand years. —My Aesthetics of the Dark Fantastic

I’ve always been a devotee of the Vienna School of Fantastic Realists whose works unlike the surrealists was not wholly irrational and absurd but dealt with a fusion of consciousness with the unconscious of the world itself. Their philosophy is of a dualistic nature, echoing the philosophies of Nietzsche and Schopenhauer and the psychological theories of Freud and pessimal_2Jung, but one can also detect traces of ancient myths and religions, especially those of Mesopotamian origin and belief-systems and the classic struggle between Apollonian and Dionysian characteristics.

These artists of the Vienna School draw their inspirations from the layered labyrinthine underground which represents the other side of life and psyche, the darker layers of dream and nightmare. I’ve attempted in digital art to bring this out through the use of various omnicide_1techniques and styles always with the intent of fusing my own philosophical preoccupations with pessimism and posthumanism. This other side, which is an inner imaginative-inspirational counterpart to the real outer world, expressed with the help of logic-alogic associations, analogisation and symbolization could be seen as an alternate reality. Like in dreams, the categories of outer reality and of space and time are dissolved, and past and future blends with the present. Cause and effect are interchangeable, and the infinite realm of the soul is traversed with the help of imagination and fantasy, explored, ecstatically experienced and presented through artistic-creative activity. Continue reading

I Have Been Scorched

I have not slept; the darkness would not let me. I have met the daemon within, and he would not let me go till I released him in form…

I’ve been down this path before in my life, but not as intensely as this. I have been scorched by the flames of this dark power and lived. I know I need sleep, and I will. He is burning in me.

Those who have been touched by the daemon within them know of what I speak. It is not a spiritual disease, nor a physical sickness. To be touched by the daemon is to know the unknown as unknown and unknowable. It is, and it rides you like firestorm, it’s wings beating, beating…


©2022 S.C. Hickman Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the images above without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. All images were created with Midjourney ai and are licensed by them for personal or commercial use.

Self-Portrait in Darkness

The prince of darkness is a gentleman!
—William Shakespeare

“What hath night to do with sleep?”
― John Milton, Paradise Lost

“Perhaps the maniac is the only true keeper of the promise.”
–Jason Bahbak Mohaghegh, Omnicide


©2022 S.C. Hickman All images were created with Midjourney ai and are licensed by them for personal or commercial use.

Art Inspired by David Roden’s Snuff Memories

“We see but do not see, since there is nothing to which the sight can be compared.”

David Roden, Snuff Memories

Art Inspired by David Roden’s Snuff Memories

“We as future corpse. In the wake of the infantas, viscera moths pop and circle in the thermals above the refrigerated cradle. Belleypedes skitter over the floor. Abreactive traumas burst as Hazmats gawp like groggy pugilists at the blind editors, unsure of their next move.”

David Roden’s Snuff Memories is the Posthuman Dream Quest, a 21st Century romp through the futural maze where the algorithms bleed and humans are mere flotsam and jetsam in the black circuits of the new machinic civilization. Written as if William Blake had been resurrected in the Secret Forges of the Demiurge, given the opportunity to rewrite his epic worlds as virtual lore for the Machine Gods: a cross between David Cronenberg and J.G. Ballard in a Deleuzian Nightmare where Dante and Johnathan Swift travel as machinic companions into Death’s Kingdom.

Truthfully… Roden’s work is one of those strange crossover texts somewhere between theory-fiction and scrying on the wall of Time. It cannot be interpreted, only survived. Like those strange maximalist concoctions of James Joyce or Thomas Pynchon one does not so much read this work as assemble it in one’s nightly dreams as one enters the liminal interzones of the Unreal yet possible future. Each fragment is a Deleuzian rhizome forging new links in a bubble multiverse where the time-wars make and unmake us under the various masks of a plasticity unbound…

Minimalist in intention and design Roden’s Snuff Memories replaces our time-worn memories with its own, shaping us to an hyperaccelerating vector of imaginative need, shifting us into spectrums of dark light where the impossible folds us into the labors of the Abyss.

Check out these links for more quotes and art:

One ||


©2022 S.C. Hickman All images were created with Midjourney ai and are licensed by them for personal or commercial use.

She Could Not Forgive

Couldn’t sleep yet, my mind drifted to my dead wife, remembering the abuse she’d suffered earlier in life at the hands of those in her family… and, brought on the mental and physical disease that finally took her… some nightmares never go away… maybe creating such art is like Patrick Woodroffe another favorite artist once suggested: “Painting is a way of exorcising one’s demons…”

I have my share….


©2022 S.C. Hickman All images were created with Midjourney ai and are licensed by them for personal or commercial use.

Anareta

“Anareta”

“Planet earth (terra firma) is a giant time machine for consuming time, a fake delusional prison planet of machines consuming humanity as dead toys…” it said.

Woke up with someone whispering the above to me… and, plugged it into my mad codebase of parodic satire.

A while ago I found someone’s full concordance of all the words used in Cormac McCarthy’s time_prison_8Blood Meridian. So that’s an exhaustive catalog of where in the text and how many times every word gets used — which is pretty intense. This wasn’t a glossary mind you, so I’m gonna start busying myself with giving definitions for all the words I was unsure/ completely in the dark about.

“The survivors lay quietly in that cratered void and watched the whitehot stars go rifling down the dark. Or slept with their alien hearts beating in the sand like pilgrims exhausted upon the face of the planet Anareta, clutched to a namelessness wheeling in the night.”

Anareta is one of my favorite words from Blood Meridian, it’s an old astrological term for a time_prison_6planet that signals ill-fortune in your horoscope — the ‘interficient’ planet, the Destroyer, the ruler of the Eighth House, considered the House of Death.

Apparently, the planets you looked to as beneficial and health-giving were the planets in your first house, and perhaps to either side of the eighth, so the seventh and ninth. The chief of these positive influencers was referred to as the Hyleg or Apheta, the Giver of Life.

the word Hyleg traces back to Middle Persian, hîlâk, meaning nativity. Apheta comes from greek, aphienai, to ‘spring forth’ (hienai ) + ‘from’ (apo-). Aphetic and hylegiac indicate life giving qualities.

Anareta — from αναιῥιω — gets used in ancient greek to mean murderer and assassin but I can find no further breakdown of its etymology. I love that in its original use, whatever planet time_prison_7occupied the ‘anaretic degree,’ the region of evil influence in your horoscope, was the Anareta, so different planets could assume the title of ‘Destroyer’ — but in McCarthy’s passage he posits the existence of a planet of pure danger and death, named Anareta.

Reread one of my mad essays on Bill Burroughs:

What Burroughs envisioned was an early version of the Internet of things: Smart cities, AI, Robotics, and intelligent objects and artifacts which will one day anticipate, modify, modulate, and ubiquitously decide and make decisions moment by moment at the accelerating speed of light to produce around us an artificial world so meshed in fabricated and up-to-the-momenttime_prison_11 resolution that the natural world will have long ceased to matter and the Reality Studio of our Virtual Existence will have overtaken the external and substituted its fake systems and machinic life. A time when the nanosystems that inhabit our bodies will have replaced each aspect of our organic for anorganic substratum’s and we will be processed desiring machines bounded by the pure systems of command and control of a Total Algorithmic Environment (TAE).

It’s as if the ai feeds me back a vision of the Gnostic cosmos written by Theodore Sturgeon and P.K. Dick in a strange new language of imagery as mad as I am. 🤣
time_prison_12Is this the world we really live in, while the one we’ve been deluded into accepting is just a fake insanity and delusion of machines? Yes and no…. like the mad-hatter lost in the insane underworld of posthumanity I follow the lead of my daemon.

We are already living in a lie, living in a Reality Studio of fabricated fictions, part of an assemblage of fake worlds in which we have one use value: as desiring machines whose sole purpose is to feed the Authority, System, Unity, etc. with our energetic desires. As Burroughs described it, we are amusing ourselves to death in a Reality Studio Entertainment System,

The Amusement Gardens cover a continent—There are areas of canals and lagoons where giant gold fish and salamanders with purple fungoid gills stir in clear black water and gondolas piloted by translucent green fish boys—Under vast revolving flicker lamps along the canals spill The Biologic Merging Tanks sense withdrawal capsules light and soundproof water attime_prison_13 blood temperature pulsing in and out where two life forms slip in and merge to a composite being often with deplorable results slated for Biologic Skid Row on the outskirts: (Sewage delta and rubbish heaps—terminal addicts of SOS muttering down to water worms and gloating vegetables—Paralyzed Orgasm Addicts eaten alive by crab men with white hot eyes or languidly tortured in charades by The Green Boys of young crystal cruelty).

Ultimately, we are as a civilization reaching an escape velocity of self-reinforcing machinic intelligence propagation (i.e., The Singularity), the forces of production are going for the revolution on their own. It is in this sense that schizoanalysis is a revolutionary program time_prison_18guided by the tropism to a catastrophe threshold of change, but it is not shackled to the realization of a new society, any more than it is constricted by deference to an existing one. The socius is its enemy, and now that the long senile specter of the greatest imaginable reterritorialization of planetary process has faded from the horizon, cyberrevolutionary impetus is cutting away from its last shackles to the past.


©2022 S.C. Hickman All images were created with Midjourney ai and are licensed by them for personal or commercial use.


The Exterminator

We know that The Exterminator exists, but nothing at all about what it is. This makes it the archetype of horroristic ontology.

—Nick Land, Phyl-Undhu: Abstract Horror, Exterminator


©2022 S.C. Hickman Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the images above without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. All images were created with Midjourney ai and are licensed by them for personal or commercial use.

The Cinematography of Time-Scape Wave Convergence

We now ‘see’ that technocommercial systems, who’s catallactic being is strictly analogous to a convergent wave, belong indubitably to the world of horror, and await their cinematographers.

—Nick Land, Phyl-Undhu: Abstract Horror, Exterminator


©2022 S.C. Hickman Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the images above without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. All images were created with Midjourney ai and are licensed by them for personal or commercial use.

A Continuous Slide Toward the Future

Monstrosity is a continuous slide, or process of becoming, that does not look like anything.

—Nick Land, Phyl-Undhu: Abstract Horror, Exterminator


©2022 S.C. Hickman Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the images above without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. All images were created with Midjourney ai and are licensed by them for personal or commercial use.

Beyondness, Considered as a Leading Characteristic

Falling_7

When the others (whose positive nature need not delay us here) are first registered by certain technical indications, they are identified only as “something not us.” In this respect, they reach the initial stage of monstrosity, which is ‘simple’ beyondness, considered as a leading characteristic.

—Nick Land. Phyl-Undhu: Abstract Horror, Exterminator


©2022 S.C. Hickman Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the images above without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. All images were created with Midjourney ai and are licensed by them for personal or commercial use.

The Path of the Unnameable

Falling_5

“We can nevertheless avail ourselves of these guides, whose monstrosity — ‘properly understood’ — says much about the path to the unnameable.”

—Nick Land, Phyl-Undhu: Abstract Horror, Exterminator


©2022 S.C. Hickman Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the images above without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. All images were created with Midjourney ai and are licensed by them for personal or commercial use.

Cosmic Alienage

Falling_4

“Horror and the unknown or the strange are always closely connected, so that it is hard to create a convincing picture of shattered natural law or cosmic alienage or “outsideness” without laying stress on the emotion of fear. The reason why time plays a great part in so many of my tales is that this element looms up in my mind as the most profoundly dramatic and grimly terrible thing in the universe. Conflict with time seems to me the most potent and fruitful theme in all human expression.”

—H.P. Lovecraft


©2022 S.C. Hickman Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the images above without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. All images were created with Midjourney ai and are licensed by them for personal or commercial use.

Love is Forever

Falling_2

“To isolate the abstract purpose of horror, therefore, does not require a supplementary philosophical operation. Horror defines itself through a pact with abstraction, of such primordial compulsion that disciplined metaphysics can only struggle, belatedly, to recapture it. Some sublime ‘thing’ — abstracted radically from what it is for us — belongs to horror long before reason sets out on its pursuit. Horror first encounters ‘that’ which philosophy eventually seeks to know.”

—Nick Land, Phyl-Undhu: Abstract Horror, Exterminator


©2022 S.C. Hickman Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the images above without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. All images were created with Midjourney ai and are licensed by them for personal or commercial use.

Falling out of Love – Experimental Abstract Horror

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When conceived rigorously as a literary and cinematic craft, horror is indistinguishable from a singular task: to make an object of the unknown, as the unknown. Only in these terms can its essential accomplishments be estimated.

—Nick Land, Phyl-Undhu: Abstract Horror, Exterminator

Beginning experiments in abstract conceptual horror, developing conceptual moods through various entrapments in base materialism. Rereading Land’s essay on abstract horror and adapting it to ai generated conceptual relations through an ongoing playful dialogue with this abstract idiot god of artificiality. Trying to develop my own unique style rather than referencing anyone at all other than the datasets within the matrix of possibilities of the ai itself.
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©2022 S.C. Hickman All images were created with Midjourney ai and are licensed by them for personal or commercial use.


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

The Light of Nihil

The cold embrasure of the sea,
The taste of brine laced flesh;
Death’s embattled forfeiture,
Giving way to Love’s dark histories;
Where tomb fed birthings rise,
And night gaunts cross black stars.
Sweet the fanged necessities
That hold us dearly to the departed,
Whose memories like honeyed languishments
Distill in us the bitter pangs of gravitas.
Slow the day that suckles us in its darkness,
The slippage seeping of the grave’s hollow soundings;
For here amid the sleepers walk the knowing ones,
Who from their heights fall to raise such light as this.


– Steven Craig Hickman ©2019

Gnostic (Sufi?) influence on Sadegh Hedayat’s “The Blind Owl”?

In the Blind Owl Sadegh Hedayat speaks of a disease that has cut him off from others in agony and suffering as if he’d been branded and marked by this secret and obscure ailment:

“Will anyone ever penetrate the secret of this disease which transcends ordinary experience, this reverberation of the shadow of the mind, which manifests itself in a state of coma like that between death and resurrection, when one is neither asleep nor awake?

I propose to deal with only one case of this disease. It concerned me personally and it so shattered my entire being that I shall never be able to drive the thought of it out of my mind. The evil impression which it left has, to a degree that surpasses human understanding, poisoned my life for all time to come. I said ‘poisoned’; I should have said that I have ever since borne, and will bear for ever, the brand-mark of that cautery.”1

Then Hedayat speaks of fears, along with his course of action (a decision to “remain silent and keep my thoughts to myself” etc.). Then reveals that the only one he will open himself up to is his “shadow”: “It is for his sake that I wish to make the attempt. Who knows? We may perhaps come to know each other better.”* Continue reading

Death’s Mask

Finally began my latest tale… a Grimdark Fantasy to allow me to work through many of the pessimistic themes I’ve been studying for so long this year. Just a snippet from the opening…

Death’s Mask

My first thought was, he lied in every word…
—Sayings of the Outcasts

Watching over the world like an indifferent god, the sun treats the impermanence and fragility of human lives with utter indifference and contempt.
– Book of the Nine

I studied his malicious eyes, seeking in that hoary darkness some sign of deceit, death prone maggot of the lower streets; this cripple, beggar, thief was known to me from womb-days past. We were both of the corruption, born of shadows and broken stones, creatures of the towers long hiding. Even now as I stretched my neck upward to the harsh steel sky where the bone moon shed her skin like a defrocked maiden I listened to the old man as he croaked his tale.

“We know these things. We do! We seen these things, and more; oh yes, we seen too much. We did. They came you know. The ones who do not speak. They came…”

He rambled on in that curved tongue like a swarthy rat chirping from its hole in the wall. I let him go on; it mattered not, I’d heard it before. I knew the tale. I knew where it was going. We both did. And, yet, I let him go on as he must; it was all he had left. These old tales; old illusions. How many deceptions we all live by. We all tell ourselves it’s truth we seek, when what we truly seek is a great lie against the world. We don’t want to know the truth. The truth kills, maims, tears us from our self-deceiving lies; our past. Most of all we don’t want to know that past… the pain is too real. Continue reading

On Carlo Michelstaedter’s “Persuasion and Rhetoric”

Along the usual ways men travel in a circle with no beginning or end; they come, go, compete, throng like busy ants, change places, certainly, since no matter how much they walk, they are always where they were before, because one place is as good as another in the valley without exit.

—Carlo Michelstaedter, Persuasion and Rhetoric

In this book he develops Hegel’s master/slave thesis not as a political thought, but as an existential thesis in which the master is she who living fully in the present has no need of past and future, and therefore has no need to fear death; for death is swallowed up in the present of living. While those who are slaves fear both past and future, because they lack the presence of the present, and therefore are but shadows being sucked forward and backward in time like forgotten ghouls of a lost thought… having no life, they fear death – having no death, they fear life: caught in the trap between past and future they cannot enter the present because they are its shadows.


Read his book… here!

The Horror Story

The horror story, by obeying the terms of the nightmare, is a way that, deviously, some people use to think about the unthinkable, to face what we otherwise would not choose to look upon, and, more importantly, to control and give meaning to that which can neither be controlled nor harbors any meaning. It is a perverted mode of defending ourselves from what would demean and destroy us, from what cannot be helped and should never have been—life itself in all its inane grotesquerie.

– Thomas Ligotti, The Shadow at the Bottom of the World

Rereading Ligotti’s The Conspiracy Against the Human Race

This is sixth reading of Ligotti’s Conspiracy book, and every time something new pops out or a new perspective on various angles of vision suddenly rise up while others fall back into the background. With this reading I honed in on his stance of pessimism and anti-natalism. His vision pushes Schopenhauer’s vision of extreme menace and hooks it with the early rather than late Lovecraftian horror reality. To say the least it is an explosive and somber view of life and cosmos, a view that leaves us in no doubt as to what underpins his corpus of tales. His vision is definitely not for everyone, it’s probably the darkest vision of existence I’ve seen in my sixty-eight years. But that’s only to say that his is a vision very few will ever accept, for the central core of his vision is that 99% of humanity is in denial of this horror reality within which we are all situated.

As he surmise from Zapffe and others it’s not actually our fault either, we have since the origins of consciousness been the victims of our own success. Consciousness gave rise to certain repressive and defensive measures against our natural existence, a “denial of reality” syndrome if you will. As T.S. Eliot once suggested: “Human cannot bare too much reality!” That’s an understatement. As Ajit Varki and Danny Brower in their book Denial: Self-Deception, False Beliefs, and the Origins of the Human Mind suggests somewhere along the way humans were became aware of their own mortality, and the anxiety, terror, and dread of physical death shaped their psyches to the point of madness. To counter this “humans needed to evolve a mechanism for overcoming this hurdle: the denial of reality.” As a consequence of this evolutionary quirk we now deny any aspects of reality that are not to our liking-we smoke cigarettes, eat unhealthy foods, and avoid exercise, knowing these habits are a prescription for an early death. And so what has worked to establish our species could be our undoing if we continue to deny the consequences of unrealistic approaches to everything from personal health to financial risk-taking to climate change.

Optimism, confidence, and courage in the face of these harsh truths are the markers of our denial, defensive and self-deluded deliriums of our escape and evasive tactics to leave our natural world of mortality and degradation behind. We are the mad creatures who have invented artificial worlds to hide ourselves from the truth of our cosmic predicament. As Ligotti says:

“As a species with consciousness, we do have our inconveniences. Yet these are of negligible importance compared to what it would be like to feel in our depths that we are nothing but human puppets—things of mistaken identity who must live with the terrible knowledge that they are not making a go of it on their own and are not what they once thought they were. At this time, barely anyone can conceive of this happening—of hitting bottom and finding to our despair that we can never again resurrect our repressions and denials. Not until that day of lost illusions comes, if it ever comes, will we all be competent to conceive of such a thing. But a great many more generations will pass through life before that happens, if it happens.” (TCHR, pp. 79-89)

What I believe?

I’m more of an Anti-Gnostic Gnostic – or a pessimist who no longer ontologizes the universe as pure evil per se as in the Gnostics, but rather as a part of our epistemic inheritance: a mood and temperament, not a realism. The only horror being consciousness itself. I’m not a religious creature and like Ligotti I believe there are no objective values (moral anti-realism), only the indifference and impersonalism of a dynamic universe without gods or God. We are part of the insanity of processes that have no rhyme or reason as attested by the various evolutionary histories in our planetary history, all bound to various cataclysmic events which have cycled through time producing a myriad of different species. All of which (or some estimate 90%) have for the most part seen their day and gone extinct just as we will in some future time to be determined. Even now the notion of our replacement or substitution is in the offing with all the various philosophies and sciences of the post-human divide. Who knows what will come? Certainly not I. I’m no prophet or even doomsayer. Just someone who has by temperament and situation been drawn to the pessimistic worldview rather than optimists.

The Great Filter, in the context of the Fermi paradox, is whatever prevents non-living matter from undergoing abiogenesis, in time, to expanding lasting life as measured by the Kardashev scale. The concept originates in Robin Hanson’s argument that the failure to find any extraterrestrial civilizations in the observable universe implies the possibility something is wrong with one or more of the arguments from various scientific disciplines that the appearance of advanced intelligent life is probable; this observation is conceptualized in terms of a “Great Filter” which acts to reduce the great number of sites where intelligent life might arise to the tiny number of intelligent species with advanced civilizations actually observed (currently just one: human). This probability threshold, which could lie behind us (in our past) or in front of us (in our future), might work as a barrier to the evolution of intelligent life, or as a high probability of self-destruction. The main counter-intuitive conclusion of this observation is that the easier it was for life to evolve to our stage, the bleaker our future chances probably are. (wiki)

As Ligotti suggests:

Consciousness is an existential liability, as every pessimist agrees—a blunder of blind nature, according to Zapffe, that has taken humankind down a black hole of logic. To make it through this life, we must make believe that we are not what we are—contradictory beings whose continuance only worsens our plight as mutants who embody the contorted logic of a paradox. To correct this blunder, we should desist from procreating.” The Conspiracy Against the Human Race (p. 49).

Do I believe that will ever happen? No. Humanity will continue as it always has in denial and self-deception, full of optimistic hope and dreams of either some heavenly paradise or earthly one just beyond our present degradation. All religions are based on the notion of transcendence for the most part, the notion of a beyonding… hoping for some form of soteriological or redemptive clause in the sad state of affairs that will allow them to overcome human organic depletion and death. Sadly they are wrong. But, hey, I’m in the minority here. So I’ll just let it sit or stand at that.

Summing up the pessimistic imagination Thomas Ligotti in his The Conspiracy Against the Human Race: A Contrivance of Horror states:

Here, then, is the signature motif of the pessimistic imagination that Schopenhauer made discernible: Behind the scenes of life there is something pernicious that makes a nightmare of our world. For Zapffe, the evolutionary mutation of consciousness tugged us into tragedy. For Michelstaedter, individuals can exist only as unrealities that are made as they are made and that cannot make themselves otherwise because their hands are forced by the “god” of philopsychia (self-love) to accept positive illusions about themselves or not accept themselves at all. For Mainländer, a Will-to-die, not Schopenhauer’s Will-to-live, plays the occult master pulling our strings, making us dance in fitful motions like marionettes caught in a turbulent wake left by the passing of a self-murdered god. For Bahnsen, a purposeless force breathes a black life into everything and feasts upon it part by part, regurgitating itself into itself, ever-renewing the throbbing forms of its repast. For all others who suspect that something is amiss in the lifeblood of being, something they cannot verbalize, there are the malformed shades of suffering and death that chase them into the false light of contenting lies.

That says everything that needs to be said on the subject.

 

A Great Horror Philosophy: “The Will-to-Die” in Philip Mainländer’s Philosophy of Redemption

“But at the bottom, the immanent philosopher sees in the entire universe only the deepest longing for absolute annihilation, and it is as if he clearly hears the call that permeates all spheres of heaven: Redemption! Redemption! Death to our life! and the comforting answer: you will all find annihilation and be redeemed!”

― Philipp Mainländer, Die Philosophie Der Erlosung

Thomas Ligotti mentions Philipp Mainländer one of Schopenhauer’s followers whose Philosophy of Redemption exposed an inverted Gnosticism, one in which the supposed alien god of the Universe decides long ago to vacate his Outside Exile and die through his creation in a great festival of annihilation. The myth that Mainländer envisions is one in which this God rather than seeking to save humanity decides on another plan of redemption, one in which his secret wish to end himself becomes the path to redemption. This God sacrifices himself and his sparks are spread throughout the known universe, secret energeia or egregores that inhabit every living thing in the universe with this God’s corruption and horror reality of the “Will-to-Die”. So that unlike Schopenhauer’s Will-to-Live, this universal method of self-suicide or Deicide is instilled in every aspect of natural existence.

As Ligotti puts it: “Mainländer was confident that the Will-to-die he believed would well up in humanity had been spiritually grafted into us by a God who, in the beginning, masterminded His own quietus. It seems that existence was a horror to God. Unfortunately, God was impervious to the depredations of time. This being so, His only means to get free of Himself was by a divine form of suicide.” (TCHR, p. 35)

Mainländer was so sure his ideas would be adhered too that on the day of publication of his magisterial edifice he committed suicide. Ligotti concludes:

“In Mainländer’s philosophy, “God knew that He could change from a state of super-reality into non-being only through the development of a real world of multiformity.” Employing this strategy, He excluded Himself from being. “God is dead,” wrote Mainländer, “and His death was the life of the world.” Once the great individuation had been initiated, the momentum of its creator’s self-annihilation would continue until everything became exhausted by its own existence, which for human beings meant that the faster they learned that happiness was not as good as they thought it would be, the happier they would be to die out.” (ibid. p. 35)


  1. Ligotti, Thomas. The Conspiracy against the Human Race: A Contrivance of Horror. Penguin Books; Reprint edition (October 2, 2018)

What Could Be Said Wasn’t Worth Saying

Even now as he sat at this desk, doing this work, pondering the strange and unfathomable events that had brought him here to begin with he was tempted to believe it was like everything else an illusion. More than that – a delusion of old age, a demented dream of an ailing body. But he knew it wasn’t, knew this is where he was meant to be, doing what he had to do. It had always been this way, and it would always be this way.

Even when he felt the first palpitations, the slow draw in his chest, moving toward the big window where in the distance he saw his wife Martha kneeling down, her delicate hands kneading the newly turned earth where she was planting flowers for the Spring. Even then he didn’t want to believe what was happening was happening. But it was. And he knew it, and knew nothing he could do or say would change the fact that this was it. He wanted to say something to his wife, but he knew that what could be said wasn’t worth saying. He’d said everything and nothing. In the moments before he fell he tried to remember what it was he’d wanted out of life, knowing as he knew that it didn’t matter anyway. Nothing did then, nothing would now. He’d be gone, and memory and desire would fall back into the great emptiness of things.

But they didn’t, nothing is ever lost in this emptiness. Everything goes on and on till it doesn’t then it changes.

Even now as he sat at the desk waiting for the first client of the day he wondered if they too felt such strange disquieting thoughts. Most of them like he was when he came here the first time were dazed and in shock not believing what was happening to them, each like he had been living in denial of what was very much the truth of their situation. To be here in this place, to know what he knew now was almost too much. As he’d sunk down into the thick carpet on that day he’d thought it would just end, that the enveloping darkness would obliterate all thought and there would be nothing left, nothing remaining. He was wrong.

And yet everything here was just as confusing, or more so, than it had been there. But where is here, and where is there? He was still confused. Everything he’d been taught “there” was meaningless “here”. All the preachers, all the philosophers, all the cynics; they’d all gotten it wrong. Nothing was as it seemed.

That was his job, to help those who were confused to realize it wouldn’t get any better. That no one here knew any more than those back there. Things were just what they were; no meaning, no reason, just a sort of inarticulate confusion. All those that came here were like he had been at one time, seekers of the final solution to why… they’d discover soon enough that it was the wrong question. We’d all been asking the wrong questions for far too long.

Sometimes he really wished there had been someone here to answer the deepest questions, the deepest yearnings of his inarticulate heart. But after a while, when no one came forward, when he realized there was no one here, there had never been anyone here with the answers; he wanted to die, but couldn’t because this was both and wasn’t… death. Death had been a lie, too; just one more deception among so many. What it was no one could answer, everyone he’d met here was just as confused as he was living as all do who live here did without meaning or purpose. Everything was pointless, and yet everything went on, pointless or not. Nothing would end, not even our belief in the end.

The first client of the day, confused as he was, stepped through the door. His eyes full of that inarticulate madness of those who believed things would be different than this – whatever this is. Each, like he, had believed the end was just a complete cessation into nothingness. As if death were a blissful sea of forgetfulness and nullity from which nothing but nothing would emerge ever again.

It wasn’t. Everything returns in the end, but changed. Changed forever. And nothingness was not what people assumed. It was something else, something other.

He stood up and greeted the new client:

“Welcome to the Void!”

The client blinked his eyes, thought about saying something but realized that what could be said wasn’t worth saying.


– Steven Craig Hickman ©2020 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited.

Michael Griffin: Armageddon House

“A complete series of cultural memories came to mind: the Egyptian masrabas, the Etruscan tombs, the Aztec structures . . . as if this piece of artillery fortification could be identified as a funeral ceremony…”

—Paul Virilio, Bunker Archaeology

“Nature has a master agenda we can only dimly know.”

—Camille Paglia, Sexual Personae

CaptureIn The Folly of Fools Robert Trivers reminds us that for our species “deceit and self-deception are two sides of the same coin”. Lying and the art of lying are as old as human kind, and our ability to deceive others as well as ourselves is a part of some deep rooted aspect of our survival mechanisms that in our late stage and civilizational decay have become neither healthy nor part of that age old propagation of survival tools that can keep us safe from the perversities and horrors of our own dark minds.

The bunker marks off a military space – that of the last war game, a game that all nations elaborated and perfected together in the course of the last century.

—Paul Virilio, Bunker Archaeology

Armageddon House. Already the name beckons us toward doomsday, toward some strange apocalyptic world of deadly consequence. Four adults, two men, two women: buried alive in what all assume is a Test. A test for what? As one of the members of this motley crew, Polly, in Michael Griffin’s new horror novel tells us

 “We’re like a simulation of the big test they’ll do later, somewhere farther away. Isn’t that right? Like, a test for a test. I mean, humanity is just a trial run anyway. Preliminary, that’s the word. Preliminary test. Each test is practice for another test, and that’s practice for the next one. Only, how many? Like, which one is this?”1

af190d929775ce05b478fecccf0333beOne is reminded of those elite bunkers for the rich, doomsday escape holes in the middle of nowhere, underground caves like those reviewed on Forbes: Billionaire Bunkers. Except in the novel the personnell seem more like unwilling participants in a private hell for beleagured denizens of some forgotten nightmare. In this grotesquirie each of the four must willingly or not submit to clean up, a biological disposal project of clearing this enclosed world of its human detritus. One of the members:

“…uses tweezers to gather organic detritus from each work stand into the larger stainless-steel tray atop the roll cart. Tiny snips of detached skin, unwanted eyelids, lobes and appendages, discarded trimmed nails, hairs and eyelashes pulled out by roots, all the flesh scattered amidst blood smears and spatters. Every day, the shedding of these parts leaves behind more waste than all the days before. This avalanche of decay, a kind of incremental death, is necessary for the renewal it brings.”

The morbidity of this sequence adds to an already strange and paradoxical stage set. As if we were watching some old Outer Limits or Twilight Zone parable of our late modernity, of the collapse of civilization into a purified world of decadent enclosure where the minutiae of physical being becomes the last parade of sensual delight under duress. Using an incinerator to sterilize the environment one member lifts the days remains into a wall-mounted oven: ” Inside is yesterday’s tray, now cool, bearing only a trace of sterile ash, easily rinsed away. He removes the clean pan and replaces it with today’s, which bears the last, unwanted remnants of who they were until this morning, and never will be again.” It’s as if each day the groups identity is erased and renewed through this act of ritualized incineration. As he closes the air-tight mechanism and turns on the fire the day’s participant Mark ” is certain he smells life burning away.” One wonders what is being released, what is being renewed. Are the participants slowly shedding not only their skins but their humanity as well.

Each day the four are set with certain routines that have up to now kept them adjusted to the insanity of their situation. But on the occasion of our entry into the novel the routine is disrupted by one of the member’s Polly who has for a while been in search of certain meds she believes lie hidden in one of the out of bounds chambers in this labyrinthine bunker world. As if one had entered one of those Ballardian speculative scenarios in which personalities begin to clash in some psycho ward style dysfunctionalism we begin to see the characters perversities rising to the surface. A hidden tension of subdued violence pervades the various innuendos of conversation until the most physical of the group Greyson as if on que suddenly burst the civil decorum of their secure world and manhandles Mark to the ground over some ape like territorial infraction between himself and his partner Polly. The tone of the work begins to go south from there…

Polly vanishes into the darkness of the immense bunker world. The others follow. They discover a great crack in the walls, a tree root that must reach down from some enormous tree far above the complex, a door in the furthest reaches of some forgotten region with a plaque which states in simple letters “Utgard”. It’s as if we’ve suddenly entered some mythical time and world where the ancient Norse World-Tree and the doorway to the giants – the out world of Jotunheim is situated. Closed off, locked, bound in darkness and unreachable. Even as the shock of this takes hold, they all feel a change in the atmosphere, something has changed, a new sense of things to come; and, Jenna – the most sensible one up till now, seems to awaken from some dream throwing her head back and spouting like an ancient Völuspá:  “The wolf won’t cry forever,” Jenna says, voice high and keening. “Someday he’ll climb out, he’ll ride, he’ll rear up and devour god. Then who’ll be crying?”

Ultimately this is a novel of memory, of lost time, of fragments of lives lost amid disasters and ruins, of picking up the pieces here and there in bits of conversation, remembering what one was and is: the quick and the dead. Most of all the novel is seen through Mark’s eyes and mind, and he seems to have lost something long ago, a part of his mind, life, memories in an alternate past or future – one that each of the others understands and keeps repeating in strange and disquieting ways like the trickle of water against darkness and hopelessness. A knowing, a world refreshing and dying to itself each day, a gun in hand, a darkness turning to light in a glow of blue nihil… a shock.

Visit Michael on his site: GriffinWords
Buy Michael’s book on Undertow Publications or Amazon.com


  1. Griffin, Michael. Armageddon House. Undertow Publications (May 12, 2020)