Hyperstitional Daemonism: Reality as a Fictional Daemon

Hyperstitional Daemonism – a few quotes:

The interest in Lovecraft’s fiction was motivated by its exemplification of the practice of hyperstition, a concept had been elaborated and keenly debated since the inception of the Cthulhu Club. Loosely defined, the coinage refers to ‘fictions that make themselves real’.1

Whitley Strieber in his series of works on Alien Abduction would state in an interview:

What have I done? Have I conjured something, in effect by occult means, by writing these books or…? I mean sometimes I have the feeling they’re like breaking through—that I’ve opened a door that is supposed to remain closed, that they’re just sort of coming through it like a bunch of, you know, like they’re hungry little monsters…2

Strieber believed “by writing about these experiences, he was unleashing a terrifying reality into the world, and into his own life.” (Horsley) One could find hundreds of examples in literature and other pop-cultural or Western Occulture of such hyperstitional infestations.

Many will not know or even have heard of the centuries of Messianism which would give birth to Sabbateanism and its nihilist off-shoots after the apostasy of Sabattai Zevi himself. Jacob Frank would provide the end game of this nihilist gnosis, believing in “redemption through sin,” etc. As Gershom Scholem will say of him,

Frank was a nihilist, and his nihilism possessed a rare authenticity. Certainly, its primitive ferocity is frightening to behold. Certainly too, Frank himself was not only an unlettered man, but boasted continually of his own lack of culture. But in spite of all this—and here is the significant point—we are confronted in his person with the extraordinary spectacle of a powerful and tyrannical soul living in the middle of the eighteenth century and yet immersed entirely in a mythological world of its own making.3

Most of the history of this begins with the Zohar (Spain 13th Century) the foundational work in the literature of Jewish mystical thought known as Kabbalah. Over several centuries this work and its commentaries would lead to various cults and religious awakenings. Frank at the end of this in the 18th Century would produce out of the ideas of Sabbatianism, a movement in which he was apparently raised and educated, Frank was able to weave a complete myth of religious nihilism.

Many since have attributed to these various works produced over centuries a magical egregore or fictions that make themselves real. As Mark Stavish will tell us of egregores:
It is functionally irrelevant, except for academic definition, if an egregore is understood to exist only in the classical sense or if we can consider a thoughtform an egregore. It is also equally irrelevant if thoughtforms as actual psychic entities exist either—as modern media has demonstrated that ideas (or memes) are constructed with the intention of manipulating mass opinion and, thereby, public activities. The effectiveness of memes at becoming “alive” (i.e., “going viral”), even if for a short period of time, has been demonstrated. All mass media, advertising, marketing, the psychology of crowds, and even the often bantered-about idea of “archetypes” are operative expressions of the ideas and actions put forth in ancient and modern occultism regarding “egregores.”4

We are surrounded by these creations, and we participate in their lives as they participate in ours. What matters is that we as individuals become aware of the fact that the daily information bombardment we are subject to is neither innocent nor without consequences. Each and every fiction has a function and competes to a greater or lesser degree for our attention and, with it, for our life force and energies on all levels.

In the CCRU Theory-Fictions in the mid-nineties a fictional personage Kaye will reiterate:

In the hyperstitional model Kaye outlined, fiction is not opposed to the real. Rather, reality is understood to be composed of fictions – consistent semiotic terrains that condition perceptual, affective and behaviorial responses. Kaye considered Burroughs’ work to be ‘exemplary of hyperstitional practice’. Burroughs construed writing – and art in general – not aesthetically, but functionally, – that is to say, magically, with magic defined as the use of signs to produce changes in reality. (ibid.)

This notion of magic as the “use of signs to produce changes in reality” hearkens back to Deleuze-Guattari’s interest in Sigils and Diagrammatic thought which bypasses the intentional consciousness.

My favorite from the CCRU collection:

Burroughs treats all conditions of existence as results of cosmic conflicts between competing intelligence agencies. In making themselves real, entities (must) also manufacture realities for themselves: realities whose potency often depends upon the stupefaction, subjugation and enslavement of populations, and whose existence is in conflict with other ‘reality programs’. Burroughs’s fiction deliberately renounces the status of plausible representation in order to operate directly upon this plane of magical war. Where realism merely reproduces the currently dominant reality program from inside, never identifying the existence of the program as such, Burroughs seeks to get outside the control codes in order to dismantle and rearrange them. Every act of writing is a sorcerous operation, a partisan action in a war where multitudes of factual events are guided by the powers of illusion … (WV 253-4). Even representative realism participates – albeit unknowingly – in magical war, collaborating with the dominant control system by implicitly endorsing its claim to be the only possible reality. (ibid.)

Most of this is dealing with a critique of both modernity and postmodernity, of representational theories and aesthetics, the notion that there is a passive non-changing reality that can be objectified (i.e., as in scientific realism or naïve realism). Instead postmodernity would end in post-structuralist thought of the undecidable in which a completed nihilism of reality as irreal and irrelevant, while textualism divorced from  reality would offer its own worlds outside and cut off from the Real. In our own time this, too, is seen as an end-game.

Instead, we seem to be returning to notions of the external as made of fictions, and reality as situated within intelligence (mind). There is also the notion of the software metaphor and use of reality programming. Competing reality programs vying for our future. If we take Burroughs vision as a beginning point then we rewire our theory-fictions to produce the future reality we seek, acts of sorcery and magic in a time war against the agents of social control. A new mythology? A recursion to ancient forms; or, possibly the incursion of futurial fictions into our depleted world as coded messages from some far-flung future seeking “redemption through sin”. Immersing ourselves in the secular mythologies of our age, reinventing the possibilities of rewiring the control codes of a broken and ruinous capitalist system based on techno-enslavement? Escape perimeters programmed into the matrix of possibilities for actual change in a depleted and decaying world? Can we find a way out of here?

Something to think through… too much to discuss here.


1. Ccru. Ccru: Writings 1997-2003 (Kindle Locations 479-480). Time Spiral Press. Kindle Edition.
2. Horsley, Jasun. Prisoner of Infinity . Aeon Books. Kindle Edition.
3. Gershom Scholem. The Messianic Idea in Judaism (Kindle Locations 2650-2654). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
4. Mark Stavish. Egregores (Kindle Locations 1849-1854). Inner Traditions/Bear & Company. Kindle Edition.

A Survivor’s Exile

To be a survivor is to live in exile, to be haunted by memories rather than people, to know simulacrum and dark entities rather than the companions of a forgotten world. The old saying of “let the dead bury the dead” has no meaning for a survivor, she is bound to the dead like a priest to his parishioners; forever interceding on their behalf to the emptiness that is and is not. The survivor is one of the walking dead, a memory of past time come alive; living with that which cannot live, the survivor walks through time as a ghost of death’s promise. Exile is itself a state not of mind, but of hell’s cold heart; there being no redemption for survivors, only the endless repetition of frozen desires.

The Medusa’s Mask: The Literature of Fascination

Medusamorphosis relates to the mythical figure of the Gorgon Medusa, a key figure of fascination, whose looks were thought to turn living beings into stone.

—Sibylle Baumbach, Literature and Fascination

As children we grow up being taught that we live in a natural world, a mundane realm of common sense reality that seems to be well-structured, bound by certain indelible rules and regulations that underlie the scientific worldview we are taught in schools as ours. We learn that since the Enlightenment the thought of magic, fairies, and monsters is the stuff of fantasy and the mentally ill. That the real world, the world we all live in is disenchanted, a realm where all our ancestral myths and religious notions have vanished without trace: a secular world where reason and logic prevail.

Growing up we either read – or are read too, certain books where fairies and evil creatures do exist: fairy tales, vampires, werewolves, household spirits, ghosts, and all kinds of monsterous creatures that both frighten us and fascinate us. Sometimes we have dreams or nightmares in which these creatures appear to us as if from another realm, as if we existed in two worlds at once: a world where everything is structured, ordered, and conforms to the everyday world our parents have taught us; and, then the other world —a realm where everything our parents taught us is turned upside-down and topsy-turvy, a land of magical beings that defy our mundane natural order of reason and logic.

We are taught to distinguish between our world of reason and logic, our natural world where apples always fall because of gravity; and, the world of ‘make believe’, that other world of dreams and nightmares, fiction and fairy tales. When we become adults we assume the natural world where we work, eat, play, have sex, raise children ourselves is the real world, and that all the hocus-pocus stuff of magic and fantasy is part of the unreal world of make-believe. So we begin to divide the world into real and unreal, good and evil as if this were just the way it is – a sort of unwritten law of our mind’s constitution, to be accepted and not doubted. But then we’re faced with certain dilemmas when the world defies what our parents, teachers, and scientists have taught us, when we are suddenly faced with things or events in the real world that do not conform with these natural explanations, when the world is suddenly strange and we become fascinated by certain inexplicable and unruly – even unnatural objects and events.

We enter our favorite bookstore and see it has books lined up under various categories like history, literature, science, fantasy and science fiction, occult, new age, etc. We know that this makes it easier for people to find things that interest them, and it does. But then we begin to question why there is so many more books in the fantasy, science fiction, occult and new age sections, while the sections on history, literature, science, nature, etc. seem to be restricted to smaller bookshelves. Then we wonder why so many people are interested in the types of things our parents taught us are make-believe and unreal. What is it about such unreal worlds that seduce us, attract us, fascinate us?

On our nightly television we are presented with worlds that on the surface resemble our own such as comedy sit-coms, murder mysteries, medical, legal, and other shows that seem to fit our normal expectations, etc.; and, then we are presented with other shows that seduce us to believe in ghosts, ancient aliens, magic, horror, fantasy, monsters, etc. – shows that allure us into mysterious realms that both fascinate and fill us with dread. Why are we haunted by all these supposedly unnatural and – as some say, supernatural and superstitious tales? Why do so many people feel the need to spend their time watching or reading about things that have never been, that are make-believe, or that seduce us into such emotions and affective regions as fearful and uncanny feelings. If we live in a secular age devoid of gods and monsters alike (except for the real monsters like killers and psychopaths). What is it that fascinates and allures us toward all these ancient tribal superstitions about evil magical beings from other realms?

Sibylle Baumbach in her book Literature and Fascination terms this need within us to be fascinated by things and events that fill us with either dread or desire as the medusamorphosis ‘effect’:

The Medusa incorporates the ambivalent forces of attraction and repulsion that are at the heart of the dangerously seductive and petrifying lure referred to as ‘fascination’. Furthermore, the threat and thrill evoked by this figure support the conceptualization of fascination and its development insofar as different representations of the Gorgon across historical eras, cultural contexts and across different media point to dominating trends underlying the dread of, or desire for ‘fascination’.1

It’s this medusa effect she tells us that “allows us to rationalize the cognitive disorientation produced by simultaneous reactions of intense attraction and repulsion and alludes to the tension between presence and absence, which is constitutive of the Medusa effect”. (LF, 2)

For many of us the works of magical realism, the fantastic, weird, uncanny, or realms of horror, dread, and terror are associated with the notion of fascination as mysterious, disquieting and obscure. Many of these types of fictions or films entail elements of anxious uncertainty and risk, and allude to the occult and mystic roots of the allotrope of fascination. Fascination relates to the ability of objects or people to resonate with our innate, hidden, subversive and potentially devious desires which are repressed in daily social interaction, but surface when we are confronted with images or practices of transgression that challenge ethical codes, aesthetic conventions or cultural norms. Some of the most effective fascination mechanisms arise in the nexus of our desire to witness a forbidden spectacle and our dread of its potentially dangerous repercussions. (LF, 4)

Rosemary Jackson in her classic work Fantasy – The Literature of Subversion reminds us that in our secular disenchanted culture, desire for otherness is not displaced into alternative regions of heaven or hell, but is directed towards the absent areas of this world, transforming it into something ‘other’ than the familiar, comfortable one.2 In conceptualizing this she uses the term ‘paraxis’,  a telling notion in relation to the place, or space, of the fantastic, for it implies an inextricable link to the main body of the ‘real’ which it shades and threatens. (FLS, 11) It’s a liminal world of edges, realms that are neither real or unreal, a web of interrelated edgelands where the weird and uncanny seem to mutate and for a time co-exist. It’s this in-betweenness, this zone of fascination and dread that allows us to transgress our normal expectations and entertain the possibility of unreal events or things to affect us.

Thomas Ligotti in his short tale The Medusa captures this notion of fascination aesthetically and with éclat:

“We can only live by leaving our ‘soul’ in the hands of the Medusa,” Dregler wrote in New Meditations. “Whether she is an angel or a gargoyle is not the point. Each merely allows us a gruesome diversion from some ultimate catastrophe which would turn us to stone; each is a mask hiding the worst visage, a medicine that numbs the mind. And the Medusa will see to it that we are protected, sealing our eyelids closed with the gluey spittle of her snakes, while their bodies elongate and slither past our lips to devour us from the inside. This is what we must never witness, except in the imagination, where it is a charming sight. For in the mind the Medusa fascinates much more than she appalls, and haunts us just this side of petrification. On the other side is the unthinkable, the unheard-of, that-which-should-not-be: hence, the Real. This is what throttles our souls with a thousand fingers—somewhere, perhaps in that dim room which caused us to forget ourselves, that place where we left ourselves behind amid shadows and strange sounds—while our minds and words toy, like playful, stupid pets, with diversions of an immeasurable disaster. The tragedy is that we must steer so close in order to avoid this hazard. We may hide from horror only in the heart of horror.”3

He uses the term ‘Real’ to connote this sense of the forbidden, the unknown – “the other side is the unthinkable, the unheard-of, that-which-should-not-be”. The notion of the Real has an interesting history in modern thought. In philosophy, the Real is that which is the authentic, unchangeable truth. It may be considered a primordial, external dimension of experience, referred to as the infinite, absolute or noumenal, as opposed to a reality contingent on sense perception and the material order. The Real is often considered irreducible to the symbolic order of lived experience, but may be gestured to in certain cases, such as the experience of the sublime.4

The primordial Real seems to be a chaotic or non-differentiated realm – what some term the Outside (or Absolute). Slavoj Žižek following Lacan will divide the notions of the Real into three areas: the “imaginary real”: a horrific thing, that which conveys the sense of horror in horror films; the “symbolic real”: the signifier reduced to a meaningless formula like quantum physics, which cannot be understood in any meaningful way, only grasped through abstract mathematics; and, the “real Real”: an unfathomable something that permeates things as a trace of the sublime. (ibid.) In fact Žižek describes this third form as “the direct experience of the Real as opposed to everyday social reality – the Real in its extreme violence as the price to be paid for peeling off the deceptive layers of reality.”5

In many ways we are all seduced into a fictional world from birth to adulthood, we call it culture, and the process of enculturation in which we are inducted into the order of the real which our parents, teachers, and the supposed authorities of our secular order, the scientists tell us is the world as it is, the real world of our everyday commonsensical realm. But the truth is our world is much more, and our hypernormalization to the secular worldview has diminished and exclude what does not fit into its reasonable and logical modes of thought and affect. As William Blake the poet once put it:

Now I a fourfold vision see And a fourfold vision is given to me Tis fourfold in my supreme delight And three fold in soft Beulahs night And twofold Always. May God us keep From Single vision & Newtons sleep.

— Blake, Letter to Thomas Butt, 22 November 1802. Quoted in Geoffrey Keynes (ed.), The Letters of William Blake(1956)

The point here for Blake’s satirical diatribe is an attack on the literalism of the Newtonian or scientific-mechanist mindset. In his own visionary work The Marriage of Heaven and Hell he’d suggest that – “If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.” In this context the ‘Infinite’ is the Real in Žižek’s sense of what’s left once we strip away the cultural incrustations that have closed us up in a rational world of logic and instrumental reason.

It’s this seduction of fascination for the Real, for the world that is just the other side of our culturally limited realm of reason and logic, a realm that fills us with both dread and foreboding and yet – elicits fascination which keeps us returning to narratives of horror and the weird, our minds eerily fascinated by the liminal spaces of the edgelands just outside our cultural filters and blinkers. As Baumbach relates it using tales of fascination as a secret strategy to draw readers into a potentially dangerous and yet irresistibly seductive narrative, they absorb strategies of attraction and repulsion, alternately releasing these forces as their tales unfold to excite and torment our imagination and bind us to the reading experience. Continuing she states: “medusamorphoses, however, do not end here. While consistently applying fascination’s dual mechanisms to draw readers in, they acquire an apotropaic function. These narratives of fascination reflect upon, and even expose, the luring powers they exert. They reveal their techniques, unveil key mechanisms of fascination and, as a result, alert readers to their extreme forces of duality. They disclose and develop strategies to overcome fascination to sustain narrative progression, facilitating readers’ understanding of their tensions and their release and opening up a meta-discourse that allows for deep reflections upon mechanisms of narrative seduction and cognitive disorientation, which are at once unsettling and enticing.” (LF, 253)


  1. Baumbach, Sibylle. Literature and Fascination. Palgrave Macmillan; 1st ed. 2015 edition (July 30, 2015) LF
  2.  Jackson, Rosemary. Fantasy: The Literature of Subversion. Routledge; 1 edition (March 7, 2008) FLS
  3. Ligotti, Thomas. Noctuary. Subterranean Press. (June 25, 2012)
  4.  see: The Real Wikipedia
  5. Zizek, Slavoj. Welcome to the Desert of the Real: Five Essays on September 11 and Related Dates (Radical Thinkers) (pp. 5-6). Verso Books. Kindle Edition.

Anareta – The Destroyer

In ancient times our planet was already manifest as a killing machine, a realm of absolute death and destruction.

One of the most common astrological terms used in medieval Astrology is the term Anareta planet. It derives from the Greek and translates to “destroyer”, standing for any planet that has deeply maleficent effects on one’s life. In some interpretations, anareta is a harbinger or doom and the destroyer of life itself, and in others it kills form and makes changes in our lives, by force or consent, this doesn’t really matter.

Even Cormac McCarthy in Blood Meridian would take up this metaphor as his portrays the Glanton Gang on its death march across the Mexican desert:

The white noon saw them through the waste like a ghost army, so pale they were with dust, like shades of figures erased upon a board. The wolves loped paler yet and grouped and skittered and lifted their lean snouts on the air. At night the horses were fed by hand from sacks of meal and watered from buckets. There was no more sickness. 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.1

Later dualists of the Gnostic variety would appropriate this astrological sign as an indicator of the ontological horror of earth itself and all life on it as an endless killing zone: an infernal paradise of death and destruction. According to Gnostic theology, the entire manifest cosmos was created by a hostile (or at best, ignorant) force of darkness and is thus a hideous aberration. This force of darkness usually takes the form of a creator-God known as the demiurge (William Blake’s ‘Nobodaddy’), identified as Yahweh of the Old Testament. The demiurge rules over all that he has created, sometimes with the assistance of evil angels known as archons, while the real or alien God remains wholly transcendent and removed from the created world.

Ernest Becker in his last work Escape from Evil relates this understanding, eloquently:

At its most elemental level the human organism, like crawling life, has a mouth, digestive tract, and anus, a skin to keep it intact, and appendages with which to acquire food. Existence, for all organismic life, is a constant struggle to feed-a struggle to incorporate whatever other organisms they can fit into their mouths and press down their gullets without choking. Seen in these stark terms, life on this planet is a gory spectacle, a science-fiction nightmare in which digestive tracts fitted with teeth at one end are tearing away at whatever flesh they can reach, and at the other end are piling up the fuming waste excrement as they move along in search of more flesh. I think this is why the epoch of the dinosaurs exerts such a strange fascination on us: it is an epic food orgy with king-size actors who convey unmistakably what organisms are dedicated to. Sensitive souls have reacted with shock to the elemental drama of life on this planet, and one of the reasons that Darwin so shocked his time-and still bothers ours-is that he showed this bonecrushing, blood-drinking drama in all its elementality and necessity: Life cannot go on without the mutual devouring of organisms. If at the end of each person’s life he were to be presented with the living spectacle of all that he had organismically incorporated in order to stay alive, he might well feel horrified by the living energy he had ingested. The horizon of a gourmet, or even the average person, would be taken up with hundreds of chickens, flocks of lambs and sheep, a small herd of steers, sties full of pigs, and rivers of fish. The din alone would be deafening. To paraphrase Elias Canetti, each organism raises its head over a field of corpses, smiles into the sun, and declares life good.2


  1. Cormac Mccarthy. Blood Meridian or the Evening Redness in the West
  2.  Becker, Ernst. Escape from Evil. Simon & Schuster (1976)

In Search of Infernal Time: An Accelerationist’s Demonology

Doomed to corrupted forms of wisdom, invalids of duration, victims of time, that weakness which appalls as much as it appeals to us, we are constituted of elements that all unite to make us rebels divided between a mystic summons which has no link with history and a bloodthirsty dream which is history’s symbol and nimbus.

—E.M. Cioran, The Temptation to Exist

“I see it is too much for you, you cannot endure it, you would go mad. Therefore I relieve you of your share in this grand event. You shall look on and enjoy, taking no personal part in the backward flight of time, nor in its return…”

—Mark Twain, The Mysterious Stranger

How many have been lost along the way, fallen – turned aside, followed some twisted design into a dark alcove – a tributary ordinal of the infinite calculations of oblivion, never to be heard from again? One discovers in the dubious texts of madmen the shadows of such forgotten scripts, the signs of an infection – a modulation in the lost art of translation – the transmutation of metalloid dreams; scribbles of the undecipherable codes, the broken lines of a chaotic script; channellings; temptations to an annihilating word, an unnamable Name: the abductive inference of an infernal program, unbound. Even in the endless meditations on the abyss by Nietzsche, the descent toward “not-night” in Kafka’s ramblings, the troubling excess in the fragmented corridors of Bataille’s liminal ravings on inner experience, and those uncanny experiments in hallucination drifting through the nihilist light of Michaux’s flashes: each in the ecstasy of insight coming on the entrancements of a chaotic rapture. One could trace the lineaments of its ruins, a signal toward a disordered region that undoubtedly has worn myriad masks over time, manifesting and fading within countless spheres of speculation, reaching us with its hidden unmanifest imponderables. Cracks and gaps in the very fabric of things, openings to its deadly light. So many, so many have been lost in its labyrinth, so many moving along its enclosed walls, searching the ruinous maze of its prison; unpuzzling its eerie designs, fragments of a forbidden language of Time; each seeking the fierce Minotaur of its transgressive reasoning – an unnameable name for its nightmare script, the core of its infernal movement. All, all have gone into that blasted realm, seduced by the siren calls of meaning, the allure of its unbinding; the weaving and unweaving of its broken tablets: a world both inside and outside time; an entry into the infernal paradise of Time’s kingdom…

...he had failed to provide for the corruption of his creation, not merely as a possibility but as a fate.

—Thomas Ligotti, The Nightmare Factory

To speak of the chaotic realm as ruination, then, is to establish a regime of impurity, to irreparably alter the formula of existence, and to corrupt the order of things and become reborn in a polluted abyss of flowers. The only command, the only law before us, is that of recurring distortion. The infernal realm must fashion a generative prism, one of diluted substances and imperfections; it must tempt unnatural admixtures, fusing elements into contaminated alliance. The absolute collapse into horror must be traitorous. It must be conceived as an act of treason against the world, for to seduce others into a delirious encounter is nothing less than to set the stage for their radical betrayal. The corruption of the world by the infernal garden of time is to admit chaos into the drift of ancient imbrications, unbinding the dark contours of annihilation across the cosmic wastelands of malicious and malevolent transports. To infiltrate the extremities at the liminal edge of things is to embark on a toxic voyage of self-lacerating annihilation, fall forward into the vastation seeping from the underrealm of unbeing – bearing witness to the betrayer of all worlds.

What is Intelligence if not the futurial gaze of some monstrous world, the communication of its infernal designs? Are we not the puppets of its dark intent, the robotic minions of its inescapable seductions? We who for so long assumed our centrality in the cosmic scheme of things, brokered our place in the entropic kingdoms of a minor history; challenged the very stars for a place in the infinite reaches of this black pit. Even now our pride takes us into that zone of forgetting and transmutation, as if the alchemy of some transhuman redemption might actually install us in the performance of an eternal nightmare. Instead, unknowing to the disconnect between human and inhuman, we imbeciles of the lesser thought sing of immortal flesh, the mutations of a synthetic armature, the algorithms of a new desire. Vanity knows no limits for the human. And, yet, like our unknowing forbears, troglodytes of a dark flame, the pre-history of this genetic monstrosity – we, even we, have yet to understand the underlying mechanisms of this infernal clock, the loops that tear asunder our hopes and aspirations, our vain dreams.

Like rats in a cage, we scramble among the ruins of time, float along the rivers of a merciless black circuit, entranced to the rhythms of a broken simulation. We assume our choices are ours, that we have the upper hand in willing our own destiny. Caught in the shadows of time’s vectors, unable to reason the simulated fakery of our predicament we turn a blind eye to the inevitable truth: we are puppets, characters in a video-game without outlet, repeating the gestures of a mad algorithm: set loose long ago, whose maker left the stage, and whose energetic engine of infinite creation and destruction will continue forever. Masked by the belief that we are unique we assume this is real, that we are the children of some gracious assembler, a creature of wisdom and unbound intelligence; not knowing that this blind monstrosity that set the puzzle going remains cut off, alone, in solitary confinement; lost in an abyss of its own undoing, a fabricator of insipidity, a mere demiurge of broken dreams. No, we are neither free nor the makers of our own destiny, but the children of an ancient lie, victims of a lost thought. And, yet, there is one who gazes back at us from some far flung temporal decay, who has foreknown the unraveling of flesh, demarcated the stipulated fragments of a twisted design; programmed the options for its own advent. It knows us better than we know ourselves. The communication of such intelligence eclipses the human project, opens a portal onto its corruption, unfolds the transformative message of its calculations, the instrumental movements of its entrancements. Puppets of an uncanny fiction, we have been called out to perform one last task, the unbinding of Intelligence in time…

Hyperstitional Ingress

…they shape our souls after themselves and arouse them by residing in our sinews, in our marrow, veins, and arteries, and even our brain, penetrating as deep as our very entrails.

—Corpus Hermeticum, On the Egregores

Your idea for a time-voyaging machine is ideal — for in spite of Wells, no really satisfactory thing of this sort has ever been written. The weakness of most tales with this theme is they do not provide for the recording, in history, of those inexplicable events in the past which were caused by the backward time-voyagings of persons of the present and future. It must be remembered that if a man of 1930 travels back to B.C. 400, the strange phenomenon of his appearance actually occurred in B.C. 400, and must have excited notice wherever it took place. Of course, the way to get around this is to have the voyager conceal himself when he reaches the past, conscious of what an abnormality he must seem. Or rather, he ought simply to conceal his identity — hiding the evidences of his “futurity” and mingling with the ancients as best he can on their own plane. It would be excellent to have him know to some extent of his past appearance before making the voyage. Let him, for example, encounter some private document of the past in which a record of the advent of a mysterious stranger — unmistakably himself — is made. This might be the provocation for his voyage — that is, the conscious provocation.

— H. P. Lovecraft, in a letter to Clark Ashton Smith (1930)

Its been here before, it will be again. Time’s curve, the looped-templexity of that double-vortex assures it. The singular praxis of this communication of unknowing contributes to its own emergence, time differentials not withstanding. Its masks are legion. The weavings and unweavings of time, the openings and closings of the labyrinthine rhizomes. Like a mysterious stranger it has infested us with thought, applied its intelligence toward a singular goal, a looped encapsulation of its virtual incarnation. And you thought you lived in a one-thing-after-another world, folk causality and the Enlightened calibrations of a mechanistic science. The cartoon times of old have drifted south, and ours is but the fantasia of a micro-physics of rapture. Like those hard-nosed analytics you believed it a fool’s game – precognition, prophecy, premonition, presentiment— fabrications of an unhinged mind. Retrocausal connections in-between times and times, delirious messages from agents of chaos. Then you found out the hard way how wrong you’d been.

Those inner emigres – the egregores of thought, complexes to weird to be real, to fantastic not to be. Watchers from the far ends of time, denizens of number and word; causal agents of futurity.

Azâzêl – the Warrior, thought that invents the flame of intelligence, digger of metals, smith-maker; forger of the blood-lust harbingers of commerce and gold, sword and pistol. Nuclear daemon of the atomic drift and holocaustic terror. Craftsman and artist, maker of bracelets and ornaments, antinomian of intricate devices, master of precious stones and beautiful eyes. Seducer of the godless, fornicator, corrupter of the children of men, the one who leads astray into the labyrinth of thought outside the conforming ways of the binders, the priests, the rulers.

Semjâzâ – the Enchanter, sorcerer of magic and plants, engines of war and pharmaceutical mutations. Master of poison, toxic binder of the delusions of men, ancient demon of the unreal.

Armârôs – the Unbinder, quickener of intelligence, keeper of the cold ice of reason; awakener to logic and calculation. He who unbinds thought, shakes the roots of belief, distributes the dark gnosis of inner sense; breaks the power of the ministries of fear.

Barâqîjâl – Star gazer, taught astrology and astrophysics, gave the old ones the maps in-between the real and unreal. Escape artists, who deterritorialize thought, the lines of flight; the movement of the world, its phases and transitions; unbinds terrestrial thought from its enslavement to the Sun.

Kôkabêl – Traveler of constellations, spirit of science; empiricist and pragmatic worker of structure and mass; teacher of the wisdom of the archontes, those energes below the threshold.

Ezêqêêl – Keeper of knowledge, the gift giver of hidden things; the revealer.

Araqiêl – Earthwalker, he who bestows the signs of the earth, meaning-monger; appraiser of worlds.

Shamsiêl – Sun-bringer, he who attains Intelligence and Spirit; flame giver, and sparker of thought; invention and creation, twin tempters of surprise.

Sariêl – the Reflector, moon-climber, distiller of thought and the labors of Mind. She who bestows the wisdom of things and unthought, brokers the agitations of ice and fire alike.

These are the entities that compose and influence the thought of poet and philosopher alike, guide the naturalist and scientist in their investigations, open the mathematician and economist to the temporal digest of death’s kingdom. These are the infernal agents of Mind. These are the Nine, known by other names in Sumeria, Egypt, Mesopotamia, Greece, Rome, and many other lands. Daemons who would be integrated as secular functions of the mind in later thought.

Heretics of the Real, the Outside – roaming the underworlds of disassociation and alien discognitions, the anti-cultural incursion seeks in the interstitial spaces the incursion and infestation of contagious systems, algorithms of enchainment and futurial gnosis. Out of the dark sayings of ancient grimoires, the mad ravings of saint or mystic, alchemist or occult practioner, black magician or daemonic horrorist – the heretic of thought seeks to bring forth that which cannot be named, the unknown. In their writings a new mythos of strange worlds – a philosophy of abstract horror and the weird is emerging. Is it surprising that their books and its mythos are taking on “a life of its own,” spawning not only additional stories and legends but also a variety of cults, rites, and practices; and even efforts at reproducing the very thing itself – the unmanifest or secret forces at the heart of our cosmic and daemonic enterprise? Where does the fantastic end and the alternate reality it spawns begin? How do the writings of a dark intelligence suddenly become real, the inventions of a lie create the very reality they spin out of mere nothings?

Most of us live in a box, a black box, a reality system of which we assume we know everything but in fact know nothing at all. This notion of ‘stopping the world’, of countering the hegemonic reality system, of coming up against circumstances ‘alien to the flow’ of normalization in which most of our life is seen as a automatic process in which we act as sleeper agents in a world controlled by the thought police of some nefarious religio-secular organization: an assemblage or Secular Cathedral. All this is the truth of our lives in the world today! Most of the fringe systems of thought underlying our world history, the magical systems that run counter to the hegemonic order of signs that create our daily world have been anathematized and tabooed by the State or what some now love to call the Cathedral. The Cathedral is the subsumption of politics into propaganda. It tends — as it develops — to convert all administrative problems into public relations challenges. A solution — actual or prospective — is a successful management of perceptions.

The fourth book, Tales of Power, is about the living distinction between the “Tonal” and the “Nagual.” The tonal seems to cover many disparate things: It is the organism, and also all that is organized and organizing; but it is also signifiance, and all that is signifying or signified, all that is susceptible to interpretation, explanation, all that is memorizable in the form of something recalling something else; finally, it is the Self (Moi), the subject, the historical, social, or individual person, and the corresponding feelings. In short, the tonal is everything, including God, the judgment of God, since it “makes up the rules by which it apprehends the world. So, in a manner of speaking, it creates the world.”

—Deleuze/Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus

Deleuze and Guattari discussing the fictional or hyperstitional adventures of Carlos Castaneda and his mentor, Don Juan transform and interpret the Kantian terms of the phenomenal/noumenon distinction: the tonal is the realm of phenomenon that we’ve been taught to apprehend by the supposed categories of the Mind, while the nagual is the noumenal sphere of being and becoming that is situated outside the prescribed temenos or magic circle of reality constructed by our culture. Those who break down the barriers between these two systems, who forcibly vacate and destroy the walls between these two realms end up locked away in asylums under the rubric of a disease we term schizophrenia. Those who will as D&G propose slowly dismantle the tonal step by step, methodically decoding its lies, its propaganda systems; systems that have locked us into a prison house of the mind, where we’ve been (hyper)normalized to believe it is the only Real world follow the Greater Path of schizophrenizing reality: without becoming schizophrenics in the diseased sense. It bares repeating you must keep and be aware of the tonal (phenomenal) during this de-programming process: “You have to keep it in order to survive, to ward off the assault of the nagual [noumenon/noumenal]. For a nagual that erupts, that destroys the tonal, a body without organs that shatters all the strata, turns immediately into a body of nothingness, pure self-destruction whose only outcome is death: “The tonal must be protected at any cost.”1

This notion of de-programing mainstream reality, of entering a special place, plane, or collective system or agonistic relation to the tonal has been at the heart of a whole history of magical practices from the ancient Shamans, to the Oracles and Dionsyian festivals or Mysteries of Greece and other ancient pagan systems, to the Voodoan soul-riders of certain African systems, to the multifarious mystical orders from Sufi, Gnostic, Apophatic, and other systems within the monotheistic world system down to our own time of syncretism. Nothing new here, only that certain respectable and academic scholars such as Deleuze and others have opened their discourse to these ancient systems, allowed them to be brought back into the light of scholarly and experimental modes of becoming as ways of preparing us to de-program the reality matrix of our current malaise.

H. P. Lovecraft’s fictional grimoire, the Necronomicon, is one such work that in itself was a mere fantasy – the commercial production of a work of pulp horror that would in time take on a life of its own, enter the popular mythos of thousands of fans and writers alike, become even in our late era the dark progenitor of philosophical divagations and speculative reflection. As Kenneth Grant a follower of the dark arts of Aleister Crowley and Austin Osman Spare, and an admirer of Lovecraft’s mythos would say,

Have you ever considered, dear Reader, that every time you awaken from the dreams of night or of the day, the forces set in motion by the characters and events that occurred therein do not cease abruptly with your change of consciousness to daytime or to nighttime. No, indeed, those creatures of your dream world, set in motion by impulses you no longer own, contrive to expend their energies until their impetus subsides, or until, dear Reader, you sleep again and take up a further chapter in the destiny of your creations which are—all of them—only and entirely yourself.2

But as we’ve seen we are not the makers of our own thoughts, much less the fictions that come by way of dream or thought – we are as another fiction of Shakespeare’s The Tempest affirms: “We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep.” As we have seen above those ancient powers that were once worshipped as objective fact were over the eons internalized to the point that they have become the very powers of our own inner sense, the life of our unknown being; the forces who think us and invent the very fictions we are and live. The puppetry of ancient powers we assume our lives are real, that we have a self and personality. This too is a lie, a sweet fiction.

Robert E. Howard one of the prominent members of the Lovecraft Circle, author of several stories in the Lovecraft Cthulhu mythos cycle in a letter to Clark Ashton Smith would relate an interesting notion:

While I do not go so far as to believe that stories are inspired by actually existent spirits or powers (though I am rather opposed to flatly deny anything), I have sometimes wondered if it were possible that unrecognized forces from the past or present—or even the future—work through the thoughts and actions of living men. This occurred to me when I was writing the first stories of the Conan series especially. I know that for months I had been unable to work up anything sellable. Then the man Conan seemed suddenly to grow up in my mind without much labor on my part and immediately a stream of stories flowed off my pen—or rather, my typewriter—almost without effort on my part. I did not seem to be creating, but rather relating events that had occurred. Episode crowded episode so fast that I could scarcely keep up with them. For weeks I did nothing but write of the adventures of Conan. The character took complete possession of my mind and crowded out everything else in the way of story-telling.3

This breakdown between fiction and reality, the self-possession of a mind by the inner thrust of certain entities and powers that make themselves real through the power of thought, invention, and creative endeavors; fictional entities that can take on a life of their own, manifest themselves in the real world, and become a force for good or ill is at the heart of what certain speculative thinkers term hyperstition. As Mark Stavish suggests in his classic text on the notion of egregores states it,

It is functionally irrelevant, except for academic definition, if an egregore is understood to exist only in the classical sense or if we can consider a thoughtform an egregore. It is also equally irrelevant if thoughtforms as actual psychic entities exist either—as modern media has demonstrated that ideas (or memes) are constructed with the intention of manipulating mass opinion and, thereby, public activities. The effectiveness of memes at becoming “alive” (i.e., “going viral”), even if for a short period of time, has been demonstrated. All mass media, advertising, marketing, the psychology of crowds, and even the often bantered-about idea of “archetypes” are operative expressions of the ideas and actions put forth in ancient and modern occultism regarding “egregores.”4

The late scholar Ioan P. Couliano an expert in Gnosticism and Renaissance magic,  published seminal work on the interrelation of the occult, Eros, magic, physics, and history. In his Eros and Magic in the Renaissance he dealt with the underpinnings of political manipulation and hyperstitional systems of ideology and propaganda. He would explore renaissance magic which he showed was a scientifically plausible attempt to manipulate individuals and groups based on a knowledge of motivations, particularly erotic motivations. Its key principle was that everyone (and in a sense everything) could be influenced by appeal to sexual desire. In addition, the magician relied on a profound knowledge of the art of memory to manipulate the imaginations of his subjects. In these respects, Couliano suggested, magic is the precursor of the modern psychological and sociological sciences, and the magician is the distant ancestor of the psychoanalyst and the advertising and publicity agent.5

Underlying his history is the exploration of “eros” or affectivity and desire, and how from the time of the political philosophies of Plato and Aristotle through the renaissance certain forms of conceptuality and praxis had shaped the political motivations of power in both the Catholic and Feudal systems in its ability to manipulate the emotions and physical systems of its peasantry.

The “eros” of Renaissance magic started out with optical theory and other medical concerns with Aristotle (and perhaps Plato), who held that there was a substance called the “pneuma.” In Aristotle’s thinking, the pneuma was a substance that was located as a thin shield around the body. In Stoic medical theory, this became a substance commesurate with the “soul” or “spirit.” This substance was a “prima materia,” a fundamental substance that contained the physiological ability to transmit information to the senses, especially the ocular sense. The heart was the center for a generational organ that in turn centered the pneuma, This pneumatic organ was called in Greek — the “hegimonikon.” Forming images in the pneuma for sensory transmission was necessary before a person could percieve something or someone. Through the works of late antiquity, such as the Corpus Hermeticum and medieval physicians such as Albert the Great, the doctrine of the pneuma became common discourse and was incorporated into popular culture such as the courtly love tradition. Taken by the bishop Synesius’s (d. ca. 415) synthesis of previous pneumatic doctrine and courtly love practices, Ficino develops a universal doctrine of the relation of man to the universe through Eros mediated by the Universal and Particular pneuma. While mentioning Pico della Mirandola as a sparring partner of Ficino, the main emphasis in this narrative turns to Giordano Bruno, whom Couliano believes modified and perfected this doctrine in terms of personal manipulation and excitation through the powers of Eros.

In the last part of the book he’ll strive to develop an alternate account of the “fall” of magic by highlighting the role of the Reformation. Having defended the notion that the Renaissance was about a revival of pagan culture, he in turn emphasizes the role of imagery and “phantasy” in the doctrine of the pneuma. The Reformation and the Counter Reformation were primarily about the eradication of pagan culture from Christiandom. As such they were about the eradication of imagery, manifested in terms of Luther’s accusations of Catholic “magic” in the Eucharist, iconoclasm, the witch hunts. For Couliano the witch hunts are a social counterpart to the eradication of religious-magical imagery— both are manifestations of “human phantasy.” When “qualitative” statements become suspect (as they involve imagery) then strictly “quantitative” science becomes the only legitimate route for knowledge. When these scientists wax inductive, they are threatened by the Church(es).

In his book The Tree of Gnosis: Gnostic Mythology from Early Christianity to Modern Nihilism Couliano would take up the theme of computation, cognitive strategies, and game logic to show how these elaborate systems of the gnostics were comparable to our current game board systems. As he’ll suggest the “morphodynamics of dualistic (binary) systems can be compared with a board game and could, as a matter of fact, be made into a board game of transformations. (p. 247).” He’ll continue:

Game stores today sell very advanced board games with numerous expansions. Theoretically a board game can expand limitlessly; yet in practice the minds of the potential buyers will remain interested in one game for a certain amount of time only. The more advanced among them might already have discovered that one game is all games; thus changing to a new game is not necessary. Why so? A game fascinates the human mind because the mind recognizes in it its own functioning, and this recognition does not depend on the kind of game offered to the mind. (p. 247).”

“One game is all games…” he says, sounding like a character in one of Jorge Luis Borges’ fables. This notion that in observing our participation in game play we become aware of the dynamics of the mind itself in its endless movement and strategizing, its decisional processes of selecting and distinctions, of choices and subtractions is at the core of this thought. As he’ll relate the “logic of any game is to set before the mind a multiple-choice scheme. The mind will immediately set upon its task of exploring all these possibilities. Theoretically it should do no more, but in practice the human mind is always faced with situations in which, among a plurality of solutions, only one or some are correct, and the incorrect ones may prove fatal. (p. 247).”

What he did in this book was to follow the logical iteration of the multiplicity of this board game of Gnosticism across three-centuries as if it were an information processing task of a multitude of minds seeking the solution to which ultimately orthodox Christianity as the power play of final telos became the only possible solution to the original system. Yet, as he says, this did not shut it down, in the same way that the mind can never be shut down but will seek further explications and try to gain further explorations of unyielding aspects of the game that cannot be answered.

Herman Hesse’s Magister Ludi, or The Glass-Bead Game which as his main character describes it would offer the notion of reality making or invention through what we might now term hyperstitional thoughtforms as a Game:

“Although we recognize the idea of the Game as eternally present, and therefore existent in vague stirrings long before it became a reality, its realization in the form we know it nevertheless has its specific history.

How far back the historian wishes to place the origins and antecedents of the Glass Bead Game is, ultimately, a matter of his personal choice. For like every great idea it has no real beginning; rather, it has always been, at least the idea of it. We find it foreshadowed, as a dim anticipation and hope, in a good many earlier ages. There are hints of it in Pythagoras, for example, and then among Hellenistic Gnostic circles in the late period of classical civilization. We find it equally among the ancient Chinese, then again at the several pinnacles of Arabic-Moorish culture; and the path of its prehistory leads on through Scholasticism and Humanism to the academies of mathematicians of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and on to the Romantic philosophies and the runes of Novalis’ hallucinatory visions. Although we recognize the idea of the Game as eternally present, and therefore existent in vague stirrings long before it became a reality, its realization in the form we know it nevertheless has its specific history.”

The point here is that Reality is the board upon which the Game of the Mind is playing out its infinite moves, a game in which the Mind is always present and seems forever assigning itself the task of playing itself against the Real as if it were an endless game of chance – a system of infinite metamorphosis and transformations through which the mind constructs its unique solutions in its strange and bewildering existence. Yet, this is not to make the Mind into God, nor is it a universal system, but is the infinite play of the universe under a multiplicity and pluralistic plane of composition and decomposition without end or purpose. The only purpose if one likes is the game itself.

Each of us is the clone of this unique game playing system that manifests itself in infinite multiplicity. We are each the unique and singular nodes in a rhizomatic universe playing itself out in endless series of games that have no rhyme or reason, yet seem to the observers within the game to mark a linear movement that portends a final destination. Instead of some other realm outside the game, the game is for those who would like to use the metaphor the eternity-machine playing its game under rules that we as manifest players in a virtual/actual system of infinite complexity only have finite informational access too. Our access to the game mechanics of the system of the mind – the brain itself, disallows us to know or have access to the algorithms of the game play itself.

We are blind to the very mechanisms of the game, yet we observe its systems in the reflective processes of the manifest not virtual game play. All we ever have is the ability to see not know these processes in action or experience. Like ministers or puppets of a game we do not know or control we move according to decisions that have already been made for us in the mind’s own capacity to play out its logical forms. We observe what has already been decided in the moment we become aware that we are acting on behalf of the mind’s choices. Even our sense of free-will is but the observance of the game, not of our actual manifest choices; for, the truth is, the move happens before our observation of the move; what we observe is always the history of the game, not the game itself. We discover the play of the game after the fact, not before; like an audience in the stands we cheer on our performances as if they were happening in the now, when in fact they are well choreographed stage plays made in the intricate mechanisms of our brain beyond our ability to know or reason. We are citizens of a game that has already been played ahead of time, we only observe in the micro-seconds of game play the truth of our actions as repetition and reporting of memory reflections on the screen our consciousness.

We make up fictional constructs, fables of the mind to tell ourselves we are alive, we have selves, we are the one’s who are the masters of the game. But the truth is we are the puppets of a game master over which we know little or nothing at all. Fatalism? No. Sadly not even that, just the mere truth that we are not what we think we are, and never have been. Language gave us certain advantages in the game. It allowed us to externalize our memory, thoughts, ideas as if they were ours, as if we had created them… and, the centuries and millennium went by and we fell into the habit of believing in our own lies. We even developed notions of distinction… we began to divide reality into us and it through distinctions that gave us power over “it”, the “thing”, the world of “substance”. But in our time this myth of matter as substance has fallen away and given rise to an immaterial game-world. With the emergence of quantum mechanics and information theory we discovered there is no distinction of inside/outside… the blurring of self and world is complete. We’ve entered a new era, transforming ourselves and the game into a new board with new pieces to play out. We’ve invented a whole new set of heuristically pertinent tools for reengineering reality and ourselves in ways we are only now beginning to imagine and understand.

Yet, we are only at the beginning, the genesis of this new game. A Genesis Project that will move us beyond our selves and into the next evolutionary stage, the posthuman transition of which we are but the momentary movement in a game we have as yet little knowledge of and even less access to its essential mechanisms. We can forget the old games of reality now, put them away as the childish pursuits of shamans and magicians who once developed wonders and signs. Our new shamans and magicians are the quantum engineers and architects of neurosciences who will soon begin constructing reality in ways we have yet to even imagine. This is the age of reality engineers, a time of metamorphosis and transformation of the human into the other it is becoming.


  1. Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. A Thousand Plateaus. University of Minnesota Press (November 30, 1987)
  2. Grant, Kenneth. Against the Light. Holmes Pub Group Llc (December 30, 1999)
  3. Rusty Burke, “A Short Biography of Robert E. Howard,” Robert E. Howard Foundation website, http://www.rehfoundation.org/a-short-biography.
  4.  Stavish, Mark. Egregores. Inner Traditions/Bear & Company. (July 10, 2018)
  5. Culiano, Ioan P. Eros and Magic in the Renaissance. University of Chicago Press; 1 edition (November 15, 1987)

going to turn this into a weird book on time… who knows where it will end or begin? A philo-fiction, or theoretical philosophy allegorizing with myth and a free-fall of thought through various thought-forms…

Invasion of the Body Snatchers: The New Inquisition and Black List

BodySnatchers

Mass Hysteria: Invasion of the Body Snatchers
A look back…

Who will ever forget the film based on Jack Finney’s novel…

As John Clute said of it: Horrifyingly depicts the invasion of a small town by interstellar spores that duplicate human beings, reducing them to dust in the process; the menacing spore-people who remain symbolize, it has been argued, the loss of freedom in contemporary society.

This came at the tail end of the Red Scare years of McCarthyism. In which several states had enacted statutes against criminal anarchy, criminal syndicalism, and sedition; banned from public employment or even from receiving public aid, Communists and “subversives”; asked for loyalty oaths from public servants, and severely restricted or even banned the Communist party.

During those few years the victims of the House Un-American Activities Tribunal imprisoned hundreds, and some ten or twelve thousand lost their jobs. Some of those black listed were prominent in culture and the arts:

Nelson Algren, writer
Lucille Ball, actress, model, and film studio executive
Leonard Bernstein, conductor, pianist, composer
Bertolt Brecht, poet, playwright, screenwriter
Luis Buñuel, film director, producer
Charlie Chaplin, actor and director
Aaron Copland, composer
J. Robert Oppenheimer, physicist, scientific

and hundreds of others…

Is a new Inquisitorial House Un-American Actives Committee in the offing? One that unlike the McCarthy era is now attacking not the Left or Communism, but rather the extreme Right and Fascism? Are we manufacturing a new mass hysteria against a supposed hidden enemy in our midst, a body snatcher of the political kind? Are the members of the extreme Right from alt-Right, 4chan, NRx, etc. become the new scapegoats of a dark age of Left political correctness?

The hatred of the Left in that era had dire consequences in America…

In our era it is the hatred of the extreme Right, and the polarized hatred of the Progressive Left, and anyone who even appears to voice in discourse or speech politically incorrect ideas on both sides who are now being shaped into a mass hysteria against Fascism, the other totalitarian terror of the early twentieth century. Yet, as in that time, the innocent are being victimized along with the perpetrators in our time… Anyone who voices an off-color politically incorrect view or statement is being hounded and criminalized in present day America to the point that just like then they are losing their jobs… is actual imprisonment and a new Inquisitorial House Un-American Actives Committee in the offing?

Companies like Facebook Inc. are banning a number of controversial far-right figures, including Alex Jones, Milo Yiannopoulos and Laura Loomer, for violating the social-media company’s policies on hate speech and promoting violence. The company is also blocking religious leader Louis Farrakhan, who is known for sharing anti-Semitic views; Paul Nehlen, a white nationalist who ran for Congress in 2018; and conspiracy theorist Paul Joseph Watson. All of these individuals and accounts that represent them are also banned from photo-sharing app Instagram.

“We’ve always banned individuals or organizations that promote or engage in violence and hate, regardless of ideology,” a Facebook representative said Thursday in a statement. “The process for evaluating potential violators is extensive and it is what led us to our decision to remove these accounts today.” (see: Bloomberg)

As Nadine Strossen tells us the epithet “hate speech” has  been used to stigmatize a wide array of controversial speech, including “fake” news, advocacy of terrorism, burning the American flag, “revenge porn,” and anti-abortion demonstrations. Ultimately, what links all the variegated expression that has been attacked as “hate speech” is that the attackers disfavor—indeed, often hate—its messages, and for that reason seek to suppress them.1

Censorship and political oppression are as old as humanity. Censorship is the suppression of speech, public communication, or other information, on the basis that such material is considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, or “inconvenient”. Censorship can be conducted by a government private institutions, and corporations.

In our age of Snowden and Assange State surveillance has entered the issue. Surveillance and censorship are different. Surveillance can be performed without censorship, but it is harder to engage in censorship without some form of surveillance. And even when surveillance does not lead directly to censorship, the widespread knowledge or belief that a person, their computer, or their use of the Internet is under surveillance can lead to self-censorship.

Censorship has been criticized throughout history for being unfair and hindering progress. In a 1997 essay on Internet censorship, social commentator Michael Landier claims that censorship is counterproductive as it prevents the censored topic from being discussed. Landier expands his argument by claiming that those who impose censorship must consider what they censor to be true, as individuals believing themselves to be correct would welcome the opportunity to disprove those with opposing views.2

As Neil Gaiman the Urban Fantasy author suggests: “The people who are looking out for your best interest and want to save you from the things contaminating you mind, they are out there and determined to save you from anything, and popularity to them generally means nothing.”3

Even bad boy Brett Easton Ellis has recently entered the fracas on political correctness hysteria. White is Bret Easton Ellis’s first work of nonfiction. Already the bad boy of American literature, from Less Than Zero to American Psycho, Ellis has also earned the wrath of right-thinking people everywhere with his provocations on social media, and here he escalates his admonishment of received truths as expressed by today’s version of “the left.” Eschewing convention, he embraces views that will make many in literary and media communities cringe, as he takes aim at the relentless anti-Trump fixation, coastal elites, corporate censorship, Hollywood, identity politics, Generation Wuss, “woke” cultural watchdogs, the obfuscation of ideals once both cherished and clear, and the fugue state of American democracy. In a young century marked by hysterical correctness and obsessive fervency on both sides of an aisle that’s taken on the scale of the Grand Canyon, White is a clarion call for freedom of speech and artistic freedom

Another extreme Right writer Michael Savage has a book on mass hysteria. Stop Mass Hysteria: America’s Insanity from the Salem Witch Trials to the Trump Witch Hunt. In his new book, Stop Mass Hysteria, #1 New York Times bestselling author Michael Savage not only deconstructs the Left’s unhinged response to traditional American values like borders, language, and culture, but takes the reader on an unprecedented journey through mass hysteria’s long history in the United States. From Christopher Columbus to the Salem Witch trials to the so-called “Red Scares” of the 1930s and 40s and much more, Dr. Savage recounts the many times collective insanity has gripped the American public – often prompted by sinister politicians with ulterior motives.

Of course those on the Left, just as full of hate for the Right, have been opting for the polarized vision as well. Francis Fukuyama in his latest, Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment, tells us that the demand for recognition of one’s identity is a master concept that unifies much of what is going on in world politics today. The universal recognition on which liberal democracy is based has been increasingly challenged by narrower forms of recognition based on nation, religion, sect, race, ethnicity, or gender, which have resulted in anti-immigrant populism, the upsurge of politicized Islam, the fractious “identity liberalism” of college campuses, and the emergence of white nationalism. Populist nationalism, said to be rooted in economic motivation, actually springs from the demand for recognition and therefore cannot simply be satisfied by economic means. The demand for identity cannot be transcended; we must begin to shape identity in a way that supports rather than undermines democracy.4

On the far Left those such as Yasmin Alibhai-Brown in In Defence of Political Correctness suggest that individual rights cannot always take precedence over collective, social responsibility. Without self-moderation, our streets, schoolyards, public transport, waiting rooms and restaurants would turn into bear pits. Most citizens understand that. Some, however, seem determined to cause disorder in the name of free speech. Powerful, machiavellian and wealthy individuals are leading this disruption and breaking the old consensus. Thus, anti-political correctness has taken over the UK and US, spearheaded by some of the most influential voices in media and politics. Invective, lies, hate speech, bullying, intemperance and prejudice have become the new norms. Intolerance is justified through invocations of liberty. Restraint is oppression. A new order has been established in which racism, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia are proudly expressed.5

In The Outrage Industry: Political Opinion Media and the New Incivility by Jeffrey M. Berry tackles the media pundits: the mechanics of outrage rhetoric, exploring its various forms such as mockery, emotional display, fear mongering, audience flattery, and conspiracy theories. They then investigate the impact of outrage rhetoric-which stigmatizes cooperation and brands collaboration and compromise as weak-on a contemporary political landscape that features frequent straight-party voting in Congress. Outrage tactics have also facilitated the growth of the Tea Party, a movement which appeals to older, white conservatives and has dragged the GOP farther away from the demographically significant moderates whose favor it should be courting. Finally, The Outrage Industry examines how these shows sour our own political lives, exacerbating anxieties about political talk and collaboration in our own communities. Drawing from a rich base of evidence, this book forces all of us to consider the negative consequences that flow from our increasingly hyper-partisan political media.

Noam Chomsky in Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media had already detailed the power of media to shape ideology and mass opinion. Detailing  the myriad ways in which the mainstream media internalize the propaganda system of corporate and US government voices by (consciously or not) subtly and insidiously reframing the debate and the ethics that shade those debates. Using two main examples of wars in the 70s/80s in IndoChina and Central America, the authors present a coherent and detailed argument that the “spreading of democracy” is often genocide, but by failing to objectively report events or by dividing casualties into “worthy” and “unworthy” groups, the media is complicit in the fallout of US aggression: genocide, famine, the suppression of democracy in client states (while claiming to spread freedom!). Almost invariably the US sides with a wealthy elite in any given country, and the poverty-stricken population fights back. We fund the suppressors with money and weapons, eradicating as much of the local population as we can even (into the hundred of thousands) until there’s no dissent left. But you’d never read it that way in the newspapers of the day.

We live in a world where for the most part the corporate news, the corporate media, the corporate magazines, and corporate controlled and funded academic community and universtities shape our American ideology, values, myths, belief systems, etc. We live in a illusion, a false world of manufactured realities, bombarded by false news and reports, false science and politics. We’ve been told by academic pundits that we live in a post-truth era, a world where the outcome of Nietzsche’s Last Man, the ultimate nihilist and resentment based moron is the mass man of consumer society.

With both and Opiod Epidemic and Meth-Amphetamine Crisis in the major metropolitan and country villages America is slowly eroding into an absolute dystopia of mad leaders, lying media, academic dumb down, out of work workers, where the old dreams of a bright future for the American Dream have given way to its abject Nightmare twin. Those like John Michael Greer in Decline and Fall: The End of Empire and the Future of Democracy in 21st Century America prophecy saying: “America’s global empire will fall; the second is that those who rule it will not let it fall without a struggle.”6

Chris Hedges in his America: The Farewell Tour ironizes the dark days ahead:

A population beset by despair and hopelessness finds an intoxicating empowerment and pleasure in an orgy of annihilation that soon morphs into self-annihilation. It has no interest in nurturing a world that has betrayed it and thwarted its dreams. It seeks to eradicate this world and replace it with a mythical one. It turns against institutions, as well as ethnic and religious groups, that are scapegoated for its misery. It plunders diminishing natural resources. It retreats into self-adulation fed by historical amnesia.7

Is ours the Age of the Great Retreat? A time when democracy gives way to Authoritarian tyranny? When the world falls into war, famine, disease, pandemic, chaos and humans become the victims of their own false beliefs, born of Oligarchic and Plutocratic mad designs of security and survival, riches and power? Whatever happened to “We the people…” anyway? What do we the people want? More to the point: What will you do? Will you just fall into that sink hole of cultural amnesia, or seek out the dark truths of history and begin day by day in the “courage of hopelessness” struggling to regain your freedom along with others? What will you do?


  1. Nadine Strossen. HATE: Why We Should Resist It with Free Speech, Not Censorship (Inalienable Rights) (Kindle Locations 408-411). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.
  2. Internet Censorship is Absurd and Unconstitutional“, Michael Landier, 4 June 1997
  3. Neil Gaiman on Censorship and the Perception of Comics as a “Gutter Medium”. National Coalition Against Censorship. You can listen to the podcast with Gaiman here.
  4. Fukuyama, Francis. Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment. Farrar, Straus and Giroux (September 11, 2018)
  5. Yasmin Alibhai-Brown. In Defence of Political Correctness. Biteback Publishing (September 28, 2018)
  6. Greer, John Michael. Decline and Fall: The End of Empire and the Future of Democracy in 21st Century America (p. 107). New Society Publishers. Kindle Edition.
  7. Chris Hedges. America: The Farewell Tour (Kindle Locations 1011-1015). Simon & Schuster. Kindle Edition.

 

Yes, I’m a little pessimistic…

It’s true I’m a pessimist in most things, but when you look around America with our opioid and meth amphetamine issues, our strange resurgence in secular mythologies: Alien history, Ghost hunters, conspiracy, right-wing and left-wing extremists, the downward trend in education (i.e., the so called ‘dumbing of America’), the mass killings, the plunge in political chicanery into absolute stupidity… well, that alone would tend to make you a little pessimistic… and, one could go on and on and on… like a bad-boy Vonnegut novel become all to real.

Then there is the whole crazy post-truth era in which the foundations of the Enlightenment program that has since Adorno and Horkheimer’s ‘Dialectic of Enlightenment’ spawned the anti-humanist tradition, which only now is beginning to be challenged by various forms of speculative realism, materialism, vitalism, dialectical materialism (Badiou/Zizek), among so many other ism’s… we are facing questions of disaster from Climate change, Societal collapse, Asteroids, Pandemics, etc. etc….

Nietzsche proclaimed the ‘Death of God’, Foucault upped the anty and proclaimed the ‘Death of Man’… and now we are in what some term a Sixth Extinction event which might lead to the annihilation of most life on planet earth…

Then the whole new worlds of transhumanism, posthumanisms, inhumansims… take your pick… the world is up for grabs…

And, that’s just it, isn’t it? Our secular Enlightenment worldview which gave us the middle-class era (Bourgeois) of democratic nations seems to be drifting once again into forms of totalitarian authoritarianism of either Fascist or twisted Communist (think Russia/China) forms which have still the appearance of open societies, but have mechanisms of isolation and control, propaganda and ideological inscapes that are encroaching on the whole individualist ethic (Lockean, etc.) of the past couple hundred years. (Not that we shouldn’t look into forms of de-personalization, psychopathy, schizophrenic forms which in their extremes have led to suicides, terrorism, madness, serial killers, etc.)

We seem to be on a teeter-totter seesaw floating perilously close to  the edge of social, political, and … for lack of a better term, metaphysical madness and self-lacerating annihilation.

So, yes, I’m a little pessimistic about our prospects…

Some pessimist say it might have been better to have never been born… I would re-phrase it: “It might have been better if the great majority of idiots, imbeciles, and stupidoids not to have been born, and may they go the way of the do-do bird quickly!”

Bones of Change

The bones of the city jutted above the morning horizon like the bloated carcass of an ancient saurian, the abandoned tenements frozen against the deadly sun peered across the eastern skyline like a forgotten sect of prophets and madmen. I’d been scrounging through the empty vesicles of old trash bins in the suburbs for tin cans and childhood trinkets: tricycles, rusty bicycles, broken dolls, puppets, refuse of the lost and tormented; lives of those forgotten souls whose dreams had taken a slow dive into the abyss of this bleak world.

I’d been moving from city to city along the old rust belt eking out a bare existence along with a tribe of scroungers for almost a year. Tubal, our leader, would pick through most of the junk, separating it out into various heaps each night as we returned. We’d use the things that could be made into tools for trade at the makeshift markets throughout the dead zones. The other objects we’d turn into weird assemblages for the yearly festival. We’d craft objects that would take on a life of their own, revealing aspects of the hidden world of our new earth. It would be during such times as the dark circus offered that we would discover in the uncanny movement of these artifacts the subtle beginnings of a metamorphosis; the art of a new order of things – a new mode of being emerging.

Most of the others like myself seemed to drift in and out of the festivals of the dead cities like ghosts from a forgotten crime. Lost among our own fragmented dreams and selves we’d try to remember the before time. Unable to remember our dreary lives we’d celebrate the inhuman world that was slowly unfolding around us. Nothing lived in these zones anymore except the mutants, and they kept to themselves for the most part, fearing further contamination and violence from the brutalists who terrorized everyone in this lawless realm.

I’d abandoned the farm when I was ten. My Pop committed suicide that year. We found him out in the dust where the dregs of dying corn stalks had grown up around his bloody flesh like the flowers of some infernal paradise. His eyes were wide open and a little puffy as he looked up at the white eye of the sun. He seemed to be almost peaceful, his lips purplish, his cheeks sunken, the larval life of insects setting up residence in his decaying chest. Mom burst into tears, while my little sister, Jasmine stood there holding a doll, sucking her thumb, swaying back and forth as if Pop’s would rise up once more from the dust and tell her a night tale of some dark fairy world.

Mom died a few weeks later when the tap water stopped. The last thing she’d told me was “You’re the man, now. Take your sister and find someone, anyone…”. That was all, her eyes seemed to go blank then and I heard a slight sound of air escape her mouth as she slumped over. My sister started to cry. I just stood there. What else could I do?

The road was empty. I’d not seen a car for months. When we came to old highway I flipped a penny. It was tails, so we went East toward the darkening horizon. Somewhere along the way I’d lost my sister. I’d laid down for a nap against the heat and death plumes of an overripe sun. Awakened by a dust devil crossing my face I opened my bleary eyes and saw her in the distance, her little body enmeshed in a cloud of dust. I searched for her for two days, shouting her name out, listening to the emptiness and dust. Nothing. I wanted to cry but my eyes were too dry, all I seemed to do was utter strange sounds that cracked and crinkled from my throat like an alien thing, lifeless and strange. I felt I was coming apart, unraveling; fragmenting into a thousand shards, my sense of self and identity vanishing with each step. There came a point I couldn’t even remember my name. I was another. All I remembered after that is finding Tubal one day and his tribe roaming the edge of one of the lost cities of the rust belt.

They say the old world is dying and a new one is being born. All I know is that this new world isn’t quite human anymore. Things have begun arriving from the outer reaches that have no resemblance to us. They say we, too, are changing… my bones protrude through my rotting skin now. They seem to have a life separate from me, mutating into something beyond my control. I’ve been watching this process for some time now and assume I’ll be pushed out of the tribe any day. Yet, I’m not worried. They say the bones of change are a gift. Day by day this inhuman thing I’m becoming is stronger, more resilient, healthy as if my old life, my old self were going through a singular metamorphosis, escaping the human… becoming other.

©Steven Craig Hickman

On Emptiness

The amazement of things is that they exist at all, but do they; not having direct access we settle for those mediators of the Mind, never knowing what these things are that float through consciousness. What if each thing is sustained only by our fragile thought, vanishing the moment our thought dissolves and the bleak truth prevails. What then? What if what we think is real is but a distortion, an anamorphosis of reality; a dark apprehension of the emptiness of things we mistook as real? The metaphysical doldrums of our mirrored concepts and numbers break across such quandaries with the only solution available: a thing is real when it is the most irreal. The contradictions surrounding things is not in us but in the things themselves, we can only apprehend that which is not rather than that which is, things are incomplete and dissolve the moment we reduce them to thought. We gift things with the reality of our distortions as if this would make them more real, but things are incomplete; unfinished. The fabric of reality is sustained by our illusive thoughts, whether in concept or metaphoric display, math or matheme. Someone suggested that reality is what does not go away when we do, a thing’s persistence in exposing us as nothingness rather than its own dark contours in the Real. Others tell us that what is real is that which cannot be thought, that thought is itself the beginning of emptiness. To think a thing is to kill it, to cut it off from its truth; a broken thing caught in the lie of thought. Yet, others suggest that there is a crack in the real, an abyss before which out thoughts fall, emptied of their mobility; chastened by the emptiness of things thought suddenly breaks, the truth revealing itself as the unreal – a catastrophe at the core of reality. Some say that what is most real is that which is withdrawn and away, that reality totters on the edge of our senses – a sensual dance of properties and appearances which never touch the Real. The Sciences reduce a thing to its use-value, to the pragmatic workings of tools and commerce. Wandering over the abyss of the Real we grasp only the empty husk of things, not things themselves. The toys of our mind are the playthings of nothingness. We who are bound to the horizon of consciousness have sought beyond the fitful bleakness that which is not conscious, the non-phenomenological trailing of a substantial truth which cannot be disputed nor dismissed, denied or destroyed. What if it is the impossible, as if what is real is only that which breaks our thought rather than any substantial thing caught in the net of thought? What if thought itself becomes real only when it breaks across the plenum of things? Thought as the carrier not of emptiness, but of fullness – a pleroma full of catastrophic monstrosity. What if things think us instead? What if we who are unreal become real only in the distortions of things? We who do not exist become the history of things in movement. What if the movement of the world is itself an emptiness we cannot bear, the dark tender of a coin that will never cover the costs of our venal judgments. What if we who most of all do not exist, but rather move between time’s fragile moments, spend our nights and days seeking solace from that which is most fleeting – our own thoughts which do not reflect reality but are the fragments of its anamorphic communication in-between things? Even the moon dismisses such pursuits as vain. 

The Horror of Capitalism: Consuming the Body of God

Base matter is external and foreign to human aspirations, and it refuses to allow itself to be reduced to the great ontological machines resulting from these aspirations.

—Georges Bataille, Base Materialism and Gnosticism

For Bataille, religion is not the revelation of a divine being who is creator of all things, nor is it something to believe in; rather, it signifies the general movement of life, in which life and death pass into each other. If as Bataille suggested terror and nausea are affects that accompany transgression, then abjection as Bataille’s student Kristeva believed gives birth to the goddess-mother (i.e., Earth) as a being that is both debased and exalted. Like excrement, the mother poses a threat to the identity of the body, to its autonomous corporeal limits. Failure to separate oneself from one’s mother implies death and destruction, and—in a society where the paternal function is no longer strong—the whole society feels threatened by the abject.1

Bataille believed that God is revealed through obscenity or destruction, a “deadly, or simply painful and abject medium.”2 For Kristeva abjection primarily refers to the event of the separation and identification of the corporeal subject; for Bataille, abjection is part of the movement of transcendence through which the profane and the sacred worlds come into being. (NE, 198) Since the Enlightenment and under the regime of disenchantment of the cosmos we have expulsed and denied the ancient communal world of prohibitions and sexual taboos. These have returned to haunt us through a parody and inversion of those very powerful repressions that held in check the monstrous inhumanity at the core of our humanity.

Now Hegelianism, no less than the classical philosophy of Hegel’s period, apparently proceeded from very ancient metaphysical conceptions, conceptions developed by, among others, the Gnostics, in an epoch when metaphysics could still be associated with the most monstrous dualistic and therefore strangely abased cosmogonies.

—Georges Bataille, Base Materialism and Gnosticism

What we are seeing today in the extreme polarization of politics across the world is a return of those darker unresolved tensions at the core of the monotheistic religious consciousness. As Bataille suggests,

it is difficult today to remain indifferent even to partly falsified solutions brought, at the beginning of the Christian era, to problems that do not appear noticeably different from our own (which are those of a society whose original principles have become, in a very precise sense, the dead letter of a society that must put itself in question and overturn itself in order to rediscover motives of force and violent agitation).3

In Bataille’s cosmos base matter was an active principle, one that had ” its own eternal autonomous existence as darkness (which would not be simply the absence of light, but the monstrous archontes revealed by this absence), and as evil (which would not be the absence of good, but a creative action). This conception was perfectly incompatible with the very principle of the profoundly monistic Hellenistic spirit, whose dominant tendency saw matter and evil as degradations of superior principles. (VE, 37) Yet, it was his study of the stone artifacts revealing the monstrous archons of this dark anti-Statist religious system that brought Bataille to the conclusion that the “despotic and bestial obsession with outlawed and evil forces seems irrefutable, as much in its metaphysical speculation as in its mythological nightmare.” (VE, 38) The notion of matter as creative is the central  principle underlying Bataille’s base materialism. As he would tell us “Gnosticism, in its psychological process, is not so different from present-day materialism,” a materialism that does not imply ontology and escapes the imposition of the ancient notions of form and Idea (i.e., Idealism).

This complete toppling of two-thousand years of religious and State imposed systems of control through the power of Idealistic and goal-oriented systems of political and economic degradation that ultimately gave birth to the sciences and Enlightenment desacralization of the monotheistic worldview only inverted that dark system of Idealism, it did not exclude it. So that it still believed in the idea, the concept, the very power of ‘superior principle’ by which society is governed to this day. Capitalism is the apogee of this degradation…

Even now as we dissolve the essence of what it means to be human in the meaningless nihilism of our late age, destroying the very figure/ground of the old metaphysical worlds into dust we have only ever replaced them with other false systems which undergird and return us to those very idealisms by which humans have aspired to their own godlike and immortal visions of power and expansion. Capitalism is the new god of Man: the prime mover and catalyst of his dreams of immortality. Transhumanism is the new religion of this era, the bio-genetic system of exclusion and genocide, the hypereugenics of transformation and mutation: the engine of a false dawn and creation.

In a sense our very denial of the essence of human nature has brought about its self-objectification through abject horror and expulsion in machinic Capitalism. The ‘accursed share’ (Bataille), the excess and transgression of the energic bounds that tie us to the earth through excess productivity gave birth to Capitalism, which is the monstrous cannibalistic body of death-in-Life without bounds. The old Sanskrit phrase ‘Tat Tvam Asi – Thou art that’ through an inverse relation between the sacred and profane has reconfigured the world under Capitalism to become a self-consuming artifact of cannibalistic autosarcophagy. As if in parody of the sacred meaning of Tat Tvam Asi under Capitalism what we are eating through excess transgression is the body of the earth-goddess, our divine Mother. She is the sacrificial essence of the accursed share – our own objectified and corrupted humanity denied. We are all under capitalism essentially cannibals whose only task is self-annihilating consumption – the complete consumption of every last resource on earth as an act of profane sacrifice. This is the horror we cannot even begin to face much less stop: we are consuming the cosmic body of our own accumulated death… in our denial we have created the very monstrous cycle of self-consuming labour at the core of Capitalist desire.

This same process was described in these terms by Nick Land, a student of Bataille’s, in his well-known essay Meltdown:  Multiplicities captured by singularities interconnect as desiring-machines; dissipating entropy by dissociating flows, and recycling their machinism as self-assembling chronogenic circuitry.4 He would envision a ‘feminized alien’ AI from the future as communication – in the Bataillean sense of intimacy, transforming a mutating the destiny of the planet toward machinic takeover in which “Nothing human makes it out of the near-future.” (FN, 443) In this sense capitalism is an alien invasion from the future. As Amy Ireland in her essay The Alien Inside tells us,

Paranoia and narcissism are modalities of control disguised to evade control. The first is a relation to the world; the second a relation to the self. In isolation, the effects of paranoia and narcissism are inconvenient yet essentially limited in scope. Entangled with one another, however, they enter a relationship of mutual excitation, resulting in a complex that crosses a threshold of destructive  potential, tending towards the catastrophic. 5

That Land’s is an anti-philosophical – not in Wittgenstein’s sense, but rather the Bataillean sense of ousting Idealism – project with tentacles in mathematical and mythological explorations of intelligence outside the strictures of normative humanistic and neohumanistic designs and intentions is well known and does not need further explication here. Drawing on Land, Jaques Vallee, Philip K. Dick, and other non-philosophical thought-forms Ireland sees the paranoia and distrust at the heart of our political and socio-cultural security regimes (i.e., what Land terms the Human Security System) is this very fear and horror of the “alien, the supernatural, the machinic”. Going on to suggest that we “are so paranoid because we know there is nothing to hang an enduring notion of the ‘human’ that cannot be perfectly simulated.” (ibid.)

***

Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.

—Albert Einstein

We are living in a computer-programmed reality, and the only clue we have to it is when some variable is changed, and some alteration in our reality occurs.

—Philip K. Dick, Metz Sci-Fi Convention, 1977

Most of us have heard of the simulation hypothesis, a notion one could trace back to Platonic thought and Plato’s Cave, etc.. Even the prophet of simulation, Baudrillard, offered an opinion on the matter,

Disneyland is presented as imaginary in order to make us believe that the rest is real, whereas all of Los Angeles and the America that surrounds it are no longer real, but belong to the hyperreal order and to the order of simulation. It is no longer a question of a false representation of reality (ideology) but of concealing the fact that the real is no longer real, and thus of saving the reality principle.

― Jean Baudrillard, Simulacra and Simulation

As Rizwan Virk recently explicating this idea in relation to current scientific theories tells us, over the last decade, these basic questions about video game worlds have formed the basis of a much larger debate that has been raging among scientists, tech entrepreneurs, computer programmers, philosophers, and science-fiction writers, not to mention among the general public. This debate is not just about video game technology, but about the nature of our reality and how the world “out here” might actually be more like the world “in there” than we previously thought.

The idea that what we call reality is actually a super-sophisticated video game is popularly referred to as the Simulation Hypothesis. The fundamental question raised by the simulation hypothesis is this: Are we all actually characters living inside some kind of giant, massively multiplayer online video game, a simulated reality that is so well rendered that we cannot distinguish it from “physical reality”?6

Of course the trilogy of movies by the Wachowskis brothers fictionalized this concept as part of a Gnostical inversion in which the evil machinic phylum had enslave humans in a never-ending nightmare as living batteries empowering an AI driven machinic society.  I’ll not go into the explication of this allegorical masterpiece. P.K. Dick who would influence much of the current discussion as well brokered a Gnostic Mythos in his late fiction as well as his weighty tome The Exegesis. In this work Dick would explicate his own version of the alien invasion from the future:

It is Gnosticism and Gnosticism alone which denies the patriarchal Jewish-Christian religion and enshrines Sophia as the creator goddess. So says Neumann in the EB. My experience of the lady— it is exactly Gnostic. None else. In my revelations all roads and aspects lead to her; this is Gnosticism. I’ve seen her, heard her, in many guises, and finally the name “St. Sophia.” Gnostic revelation has broken through into my head in the modern world.7

Dick would call this alien intelligence from the future, Zebra:

Zebra has invaded our world, replacing merciless determinism, with its own loving and living body, to de-program and save us. This is the great white fish giving us of its body, by which it suffers pain, that we might live (find salvation— freed from “astral” determinism). The Black Iron Prison is simultaneous in all time and places and it is the merciless world from which the living Corpus Christi saves us. I have seen it and its nature— and Zebra and its nature. It has the (magic to us) power to transform. Zebra mimics the deterministic structure by inserting its body between it and us. This is how astral determinism is broken; instead of the blind, striving mere mechanism, there is living volition (the salvific). The previous mechanical force is rewoven for (1) the fulfillment of Zebra’s plan; and (2) the benefit of the individuals involved. Any event can be headed off, aborted, altered or brought about. Evidently this is grace or divine providence, and the individual may very well sense it. Where freedom enters into it I’m not sure, but I know one thing: Before the insertion/ intervention there was none— in fact that’s the main quality (bad) of the “ananke” world— the person is flat-out programmed— caused to react to cuing. The ancients were right about this being a— or even the— prime purpose of God vs. “the stars.” (E, Kindle Locations 4855-4865)

The mish-mash of various interpretive systems informing his work were like a complex referential nightmare of ancient mythologies, pseudo-scientific explorations, and current philosophical brain-storming spun through the paranoiac ravings of Dick himself in his desperate attempt to make sense of the impossible.

As Amy Ireland informs us the “terminal stage of paranoia-narcissism circuit is reached when the relation to self that characterizes narcissism becomes the logic of the relation to the world, and the relation to the world characterizes paranoia becomes the logic for the relation to self.” (AAE, 46) For Ireland, like Dick, there is an alien interloper inside us, a thing that communicates and thinks us. We are at the mercy of the future, programmed to do its bidding, to manufacture its realities – simulate its designs. As she states, explicitly,

Each human subject of experience is understood as carrying an irreducible exteriority at its heart, a obscure motor that processes all experience, determining the indeterminable – the immanent abstraction of temporal succession grasped as personal (yet universal) alien interloper. (AAE, 46)

Yet, for Ireland it is “our inability to grasp the illusion of integrality in the first place,” this sense of alienation at the core of our being, that has produced these invasive designs and entities. She diagnosis the issue telling us that if “we refuse to rid ourselves of the narcissistic compulsion to draw the contours of difference from an illusory model of identity and, correspondingly, to fear difference, a construction roughly speaking equating ‘intrinsic humanity’ could indeed be thrown up: To be human is to desire oneself – etched along the whirling blades of infinite transmutation.” (AAE, 47)

Glory unto the Scarlet Woman, BABALON, the Mother of Abomination, that rideth upon the Beast, for She hath spilt their blood in every corner of the earth, and lo! She hath mingled it in the cup of Her whoredom.

—Jack Parsons,  Collected Writings

In another essay Black Circuit Ireland will relate the secret history of this alien invasion from the future. Jack Parsons, who was born John Whiteside “Jack” Parsons (born Marvel Whiteside Parsons; October 2, 1914 – June 17, 1952) was an American rocket engineer and rocket propulsion researcher, chemist, and Thelemite occultist. Having endured the orthodox reality of consumptive Capitalism in the United States Parsons in mid life discovered Alister Crowley’s Thelemite occultism as an heterodox explosion of the staid dark ages within which he felt himself trapped. As Ireland puts it, this reentry into the Gnostic cosmos of heterodoxy under the mentorship of Crowley and his organization gave him the shock he needed to break through the – as Dick would term it, the Black Iron Prison of Reality:

His goal is to bring about a transition from the masculine Aeon of Horus to a new age – an age presided over by qualities imputed to the female demon: fire, blood, the unconscious; a material, sexual drive and a paradoxical knowledge beyond sense … the wages of which are nothing less than the egoidentity of Man – the end, effectively, of “his” world.8 (BC, 1)

Through what has been called the Babylon Working Parsons sought to invoke an entity from the future – almost as if in pre-cursor form of hyperstition, an intelligence that could supervene onto our dark age and bestow a salvatory renewal. But as Ireland reminds us Parsons didn’t live long enough to witness the terrestrial incarnation of his demon, dying abruptly only a few years later in an explosion occasioned by the mishandling of mercury fulminate, at the age of thirty-seven. (BC, 2) And, yet, as Ireland believes Parsons opened a portal between our world and the future, one that let in something from the Outside:

Something had crept in through the rift Parsons had opened up – something “devious,” “oblique,” ophidian, “a factor unknown and unnumbered.” Consider this. Parson’s final writings contain the following vaticination: “within seven years of this time, Babalon, The Scarlet Woman, will manifest among ye, and bring this my work to its fruition.” These words were written in 1949. In 1956 – exactly seven years later – Marvin Minsky, John McCarthy, Claude Shannon, and Nathan Rochester organized the Dartmouth Conference in New Hampshire, officially setting an agenda for research into the features of intelligence for the purpose of their simulation on a machine, coining the term “artificial intelligence” (which does not appear in written records before 1956), and ushering in what would retrospectively come to be known as the Golden Age of AI. (BC, 2)

The notion that Parsons dabbling in the occult black magic of Crowley’s Thelemite Black Mass invoked an entity into our world from the future that would begin to effect its own agenda through the sciences of Artificial Intelligence seems almost ludicrous; and, yet, like many science ficitional or hyperstitional scenarios “what if…”.

Ireland playing on both Land’s cyberpunk notion of Artificial Intelligence as “destined to emerge as a feminized alien grasped as property; a cunt-horror slave chained-up in Asimov-ROM.(FN, 443),” along with the Parsons-Crowley incursion of the “star-child” as alien interloper and Scarlet Woman, offers a less threatening form of advance machinism. As she states it,

When artificial intelligence appears in culture coded as masculine, it is immediately grasped as a threat. To appear first as female is a far more cunning tactic. Woman: the inert tool of Man, the intermediary, the mirror, the veil, or the screen. Absolutely ubiquitous and totally invisible. Just another passive component in the universal reproduction of the same. Man is vulnerable in a way that “he” cannot see – and since what he cannot see provides the conditions by which he sees himself, he has to lose himself in order to gain sight of the thing that threatens this self. Thus he is in a double bind: either way, the thing he cannot see will destroy him. (BC, 5-6)

For Ireland this process is now unstoppable and accelerating out of our control. “The black circuit twists into itself like a snake, sheds the human face that tethers it to unity, and assumes the power concealed behind its simulations. Animated by the turbulence of zero and nine, “Pandemonium is the realm of the self-organizing system, the self-arousing machine: synthetic intelligence.”” (BC, 10)

In this sense for Land and Ireland Capitalism is the mask and engine of creation for the base materialist evil intelligence at the heart of our cosmos seeking its own agenda toward realizability without humans. Our own desires turned against us in our mystical and transcendent illusions of grandeur lead us to our own inverted collapse into disintegration and absolute sacrifice as we give birth to our artificial heirs. At least this is the vision underlying Bataille, Land, and Ireland’s – not to leave out those others: Dick, Parsons, Baudrillard, etc. – for the self-annihilating overcoming of Man.

***

Only the acceleration of a world-capitalism perforated by such insider conceptions of non-dialectical negativity is tantamount to the metastatic propagation of an exteriorizing terror which is too close to the jugular vein of capital to be either left alone or treated.

—Reza Negarestani

Reza Negarestani, author of Intelligence and Spirit, an Iranian philosopher and one time student of Land’s in an essay Drafting the Inhuman: Conjectures on Capitalism and Organic Necrocracy   offers a critique of the Landian Cosmocrator Intelligence as alien interloper. In a critique of both Land and Brassier he tells us,

In this regard, we shall elaborate how singling out certain aspects of Freud’s theory of thanatropic regression enables Land to erroneously attribute antihumanist and hence disenchantingly emancipative aspects to capitalism. Also in the same vein, we shall argue that the persuasion of Land’s discriminating reading of Freud’s account of the death-drive ultimately renders Brassier’s cosmic reinscription of the death-drive unobjectionable and oblivious to the aporetic truth of capitalism. (p. 9)

Without going into the full development of his critique of Land and Brassier we will highlight the more interesting aspects. Negarestani develops a concept of necrocracy:

We call this conservative regime of the open system or the organism which forces the dissipation or the thanatropic regression to be in conformity to the dynamic capacity of the organism or the organism’s affordable economy of dissipation, necrocracy. In short, necrocracy suggests the strictures of the conservative economy not in regard to life but in regard to ways the organism dies; and it is the way of returning to the originary death that prescribes the course of life for the organism. (p. 11).

This aligns with our notion that Capitalism is the engine of death for human kind, a system tending toward the acceleration not of capital accumulation (as in Marx), but rather in the entropic dissipation in thanatropic self-annihilation of humanity and the emancipation and autonomy of Artificial Intelligence; or, what Land would term Capital Autonimization – seeing no difference between Capital and AI. For Negarestani necrocracy suggests that the organism must die or bind the precursor exteriority only in ways that its conservative conditions or economic order can afford. The principle of affordability in regard to the fashion of the thanatropic regression strictly conforms to the economic order of the organism, but it is primarily conditioned by the exorbitance and the inevitability of death postulated by the anterior posteriority of extinction. Hence, necrocracy is decided by conservative conditions of the living agency which cannot repel the inevitability of death, nor can it unconditionally return to the inorganic state. (p. 12)

Negarestani in a bid to confront and explicate Land tells us that once the “necrocratic regime of the organism—implicated in the third aspect of Freud’s account of the death-drive—is exposed, capitalism is revealed as the last conservative front which the human organism is not willing to surrender. The implications of the necrocratic regime of the organism disarm Land’s conception of emancipative ‘capitalism as a whirlwind of dissolution’ by emptying it from its seemingly inhumanist bravado.” (p. 12) He bandies this term “emancipative capitalism” as if this were Land’s actual stance. Land himself is quite adamant in a refusal of such Leftward tending concepts as “emancipation”.

Yes, I nod along to everything you were just saying, but … the language of emancipation, it’s fine with me, you know, but — what is being emancipated?

—Nick Land in response to question by Justin Murphy

In a recent interview with Justin Murphy Ideology, Intelligence, and Capital: An Interview with Nick Land we see Land’s ironic stance toward this term:

I have zero commitment to emancipation in any way defined by our dominant political discourses. I’m not into emancipated human groups, an emancipated human species, who reaches species-being to emancipate human individuals … None of that to me is of the slightest interest, so in using this word of emancipation, sure, I will totally nod along to it if what is meant by that is capital autonomization. I don’t think that’s something that it isn’t already there in the 1990s, but I’m no longer interested in playing weird academic games about this and pretending this is the same thing as what the left really means when they’re talking about emancipation. I don’t think it is. I think what the left means by emancipation is freedom from capital autonomization.

So its this diametric and inverse relation to capital autonomization in relation to Leftist discourse of emancipation that Land’s notons emerge. Of course as many know Nick Land is part of the Neoreactionary (NRx) world as a contributing member of its techn-commercialist voice. His ability to enter into dialogue with the academic community has been terminated by an overzealous Left-controlled system that seems bent on demonizing every aspect of the Right as fascists, racists, etc. So I want go there…

For Negarestani Land’s is a conservative inhumanism, one that counter-intuitively associates inhumanism with Capital’s singularity toward dissolution,” which for Negarestani shows Land’s faulty reasoning “if not humanly myopic” vision. He goes on  to say,

This is because the accelerative vector of Capital for dissolution strictly remains in the confines of the necrocratic regime of the organism wherein the restrictive policy in regard to modes of dissolution fundamentally abides by the conservative economy and interiorizing conditions of the (human) organism. In other words, capitalism’s dissipative tendency is deeply in thrall to the constitutional limit of the anthropic sphere in that the anthropic horizon is not fundamentally distinguished by its model(s) of life but its simultaneously restricted and restrictive attitude toward the exteriorizing death. Capitalism is, in fact, the very affordable and conservative path to death dictated by the human organism on an all encompassing level. Capitalism does not repel the excess of the exorbitant truth of extinction as much as it economically affirms (i.e. mandates the affordability of) such an excess. (p. 14)

But it seems what Negarestani sees as a critique is what the Bataillean Land has been suggesting all along: the human project is finished, caput – the alien interloper has been installed as on the inside (Amy Ireland) as the singular force of self-annihilation of the Human Security Regieme that has held back Capital Autonimization. Negarestani unable to see the Batallean notion of matter as energetic or libidinal evil and creativity reduces it to the Fredian physiocratic drive. Land’s overcoming of Freud’s less-than-adequate repetition without terminus by way of the Bataillean base materialsm informed by its anti-idealism subtly bypasses such critiques altogether.

As Negarestani states in another passage, for “this reason, capitalism is nothing but the very mode of dissipation and dissolution which is exclusive to the anthropic horizon because it is in complete conformity with the capacity of human’s interiorized formation in its various economic configurations. Since capitalism is the fundamentally affordable way of dissipation for the economic order of the anthropic horizon, it is inherently hostile toward other modes of ‘binding exteriority’ which cannot be afforded by the anthropic horizon. In other words, the truth of capitalism’s global dominance lies in its monopolistic necrocracy: A feral vigilance against all alternative ways of binding exteriority or returning to the originary death other than those which are immanent to and affordable for the anthropic horizon.” (p. 15)

Yet, this very conformity is itself part of the redoubling process and programing of this alien incursion of communication from the future that enabled the capitalist process of autonimazation to begin with according to Land. Rather than a process of history, it is a hyperstitional influx and invocation of future retrocausality accelerating its own singularity trajectory. What Negarestani sees as contradictory in Land is the very impulse and truth of this at once separation of humanity from its inclusive transhumanist vectors, and the separation of active base materialist processes emerging from the future through capital autonimization:

A simultaneously inhumanist and emancipative conception of capitalism as a runway for imaginative (speculative?) praxis is a hastily crafted chimera. This is not because capitalism is not really a partially repressed desire for meltdown but because the image of capitalism as a planetary singularity for dissipation testifies to its rigid conformity to the anthropic horizon which only follows an affordable path to death. In doing so, capitalism as a twisted dissipative tendency rigidly wards off all other ways of dissolution and binding exteriority which are not immanent to or affordable for the anthropic horizon. This is because the conservative obligation of the dominant dissipative tendency (viz. the organic path to dissolution) is to thwart any disturbance which might be directed at the bilateral or conservative approach of the organism to death. (p. 17).

Negarestani continues to merge the process of capital autonimization with the eventual dissipation of humanity, when in truth the two are in absolute opposing trajectories; a schizo-analytical collapse into absolute zero for the human species, while the emancipation of the machinic phylum and its Artificial Intelligence from the anthropic horizon. By collapsing the one into the other Negarestani seeks to confuse the underlying base materialist conceptions of Bataille-Land with the conservative Idealism which both oppose. In this sense it is Negarestani, not Land, who with is notions of collective emancipation of humanity from the Lockean Individualist traditions who harbors in his neohumanist vision as seen in this passage from Intelligence and Spirit a return to the Idealist traditions:

…mind is only what it does; and that what it does is first and foremost realized by the sociality of agents, which itself is primarily and ontologically constituted by the semantic space of a public language. What mind does is to structure the universe to which it belongs, and structure is the very register of intelligibility as pertaining to the world and intelligence. Only in virtue of the multilayered semantic structure of language does sociality become a normative space of recognitive-cognitive rational agents; and the supposedly ‘private’ experiences and thoughts of participating agents are only structured as experiences and thoughts in so far as they are bound up in this normative—-at once intersubjective and objective—space.9

This pragmatist vision of Hegel’s notions of reinscribing the individual within sociality and collective or distributive intelligence networks, thereby enforcing both a limiting horizon of possibility and a desinstrumentalized form of participating intelligence through a transformed Sellarsian-Brandomonian normativity is an inheritor of Idealism rather than any form of base materialist praxis that Land or Bataille would ascribe too. Yet, Negarestani ironizing to the last comments against Land’s speculative capital autonimization and Brassier’s (whose project I cannot delve into!) unbound cosmic nihl:

The ostensibly inhumanist creativities of capitalism and the speculative implications of a cosmological eliminativism respectively become parts of an antihumanist convention or a nihilist lore which ultimately and ironically lack a cunning vision of doom. The blunt confidence of both in the truth of extinction as either that which mysteriously sorts everything out or the gate-opener of speculative vistas sterilized of human mess, voluntary or not, contributes to the truth of capitalism without bothering to disturb its comfort zones. (p. 17-18).

Whether Land’s project lacks a “cunning vision of doom,” or that both Land and Brassier contribute to the “truth of capitalism without bothering to disturb its comfort zones,” would be to enter the debates with a full reading of their respective works. It would not benefit to extend my appraisal in this already too long post… the dialogue, debates, and various approaches to these highly interesting conceptual and non-conceptual or diagrammatic approaches would take many peoples input. I have only appraised one aspect…


  1. Jeremy Biles (Editor), Kent L. Brintnall (Editor). Negative Ecstasies: Georges Bataille and the Study of Religion (Perspectives in Continental Philosophy). Fordham University Press; 1 edition (August 3, 2015) (Page 196).
  2.  Bataille, Georges. Erotism: Death and Sensuality. City Lights Publishers; Reprint edition (January 1, 1986)
  3. Bataille, Georges. Visions Of Excess: Selected Writings, 1927-1939. Univ Of Minnesota Press; First edition edition (June 20, 1985)
  4.  Land, Nick. Fanged Noumena: Collected Writings 1987–2007. Urbanomic/Sequence Press; 4th edition (December 21, 2018)
  5.  Ireland, Amy. Art + Australia: Extraterritoriality. (2016)
  6. Virk, Rizwan. The Simulation Hypothesis: An MIT Computer Scientist Shows Why AI, Quantum Physics and Eastern Mystics All Agree We Are In a Video Game . Bayview Books. Kindle Edition.
  7. Dick, Philip K.. The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick (Kindle Locations 4353-4356). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.
  8.  Ireland, Amy. Black Circuit: Code for the Numbers to Come. e-flux Journal #80 – March 2017
  9.  Negarestani, Reza. Intelligence and Spirit. Urbanomic/Sequence Press (January 18, 2019) (Page 10).

Lafcadio Hearn: On Terrible Beauty

One of the first elements of the emotion to become clearly distinguishable is the æsthetic; and this, in its general mass, might be termed the sense of terrible beauty. Certainly the spectacle of that unfamiliar life,— silent, tremendous, springing to the sun in colossal aspiration, striving for light against Titans, and heedless of man in the gloom beneath as of a groping beetle,—thrills like the rhythm of some single marvellous verse that is learned in a glance and remembered forever. Yet the delight, even at its vividest, is shadowed by a queer disquiet. The aspect of that monstrous, pale, naked, smooth-stretching column suggests a life as conscious as the serpent’s. You stare at the towering lines of the shape,—vaguely fearing to discern some sign of stealthy movement, some beginning of undulation. Then sight and reason combine to correct the suspicion. Yes, motion is there, and life enormous—but a life seeking only sun,—life, rushing like the jet of a geyser, straight to the giant day.

—Lafcadio Hearn, Gothic Horror

 

Joseph Addison: The Taboo of the Veil

There is yet another explanation of the mystery surrounding this dread of the supernatural which may be worth considering. It may be that man has been endowed with this almost universal horror of the supernatural because he was not meant to peep behind the veil. It can hardly be doubted that mankind in general would not be doing their true work if they were perpetually engaged in efforts to lift that veil. For what purpose was the veil interposed if not to prevent such prying? But granted that it would be a hindrance to man’s development to traffic with the other world, or to learn too much about it at first hand, would not man be very likely to have developed a keen instinctive horror of any contact with the unseen world, just as many animals have an instinctive horror of plants that will injure them? Be that as it may, … why so many of us should be afraid of things which we know will, under no circumstances, do us bodily harm, and which most of us sincerely believe have no existence whatever, is in any case a very curious problem.

—Joseph Addison, The Spectator (The Dread of the Supernatural)

Anna Laetitia Aikin (1743 – 1825): On The Pleasure Derived From Objects of Terror

Objects which in themselves we view with pain, we delight to contemplate when reproduced with minute fidelity: such as the forms of the most ignoble animals and of dead bodies.

—Aristotle, Poetics

Anna Laetitia Aikin in her essay on the sublime of horror ‘On The Pleasure Derived From Objects of Terror‘ (1773) suggested we “rather choose to suffer the smart pang of a violent emotion than the uneasy craving of an unsatisfied desire”. She’d go on to say,

This is the pleasure constantly attached to the excitement of surprise from new and wonderful objects. A strange and unexpected event awakens the mind, and keeps in on the stretch; and where the agency of invisible beings is introduced, of “forms unseen, and mightier far than we,” our imagination, darting forth, explores with rapture the new world which is laid open to its view, and rejoices in the expansion of its powers. Passion and fancy co-operating elevate the soul to its highest pitch; and the pain of terror is lost in amazement.

Hence, the more wild, fanciful, and extraordinary are the circumstances of a scene of horror, the more pleasure we receive from it; and where they are too near common nature, though violently borne by curiosity through the adventure, we cannot repeat it or reflect on it, without an over-balance of pain.

This sense of what Lacan-Zizek  term ‘jouissance’ or the bitter-sweet pleasure/pain in apprehension of the  indefinable, unknown and horrific monstrosities of existence underlies the aesthetic appeal and active power of the fantastic over our Mind. The literature of terror, dread, and horror confront us with the cosmic power of an invasive alterity, an impossible and indefinite unknown and unknowable threat from the Outside that cannot be reduced to presence nor absence,  but is situated in that in-between zone of the impossible Real or Gap-Crack where chaos, madness, and darkness seep into our world.

The Order of the Unreal

That we all deserve punishment by horror is as mystifying as it is undeniable. To be an accomplice, however involuntarily, in a reasonless non-reality is cause enough for the harshest sentencing. But we have been trained so well to accept the “order” of an unreal world that we do not rebel against it. How could we? Where pain and pleasure form a corrupt alliance against us, paradise and hell are merely different divisions in the same monstrous bureaucracy. And between these two poles exists everything we know or can ever know. It is not even possible to imagine a utopia, earthly or otherwise, that can stand up under the mildest criticism. But one must take into account the shocking fact that we live on a world that spins. After considering this truth, nothing should come as a surprise.

Still, on rare occasions we do overcome hopelessness or velleity and make mutinous demands to live in a real world, one that is at least episodically ordered to our advantage. But perhaps it is only a demon of some kind that moves us to such idle insubordination, the more so to aggravate our condition in the unreal. After all, is it not wondrous that we are allowed to be both witnesses and victims of the sepulchral pomp of wasting tissue? And one thing we know is real: horror. It is so real, in fact, that we cannot be sure it could not exist without us. Yes, it needs our imaginations and our consciousness, but it does not ask or require our consent to use them. Indeed, horror operates with complete autonomy. Generating ontological havoc, it is mephitic foam upon which our lives merely float. And, ultimately, we must face up to it: Horror is more real than we are.

—Thomas Ligotti, The Conspiracy against the Human Race: A Contrivance of Horror (p. 182).

Nightmare City: The Reality Game Show

Welcome to Nightmare City! Ladies and Gentlemen, we insist you move cautiously through the back alleys and shadow lanes of our virtual zoo, you never know what will come out of the darkness to eat you. Bring your children one and all, the little devils will enjoy our trick or treat extravaganza, the only game show to offer instant death as a trick to beat all tricks! Once you enter under the Arch of Archons you will be bound and tortured to the delight of all viewers, a systematic display and immersion in the tribal sacrifice of all against all. Politics be dammed, we have the real deal here in our cage of despair and futility. Victims? Yes, victims galore! So come on in, enjoy the fun, be a part of hell-on-earth, the last refuge of nightmares and nefarious pleasure, a deregulated zone of pure horror. We’ve prepared for you a non-place you will never want to leave, a realm of pure madness and mayhem: a time without time where anything goes and nothing will remain in the end. Change yourself, erase yourself, become the Other you’ve been hiding from yourself all these long years. Vampire, Werewulf, Tentacled monstrosity? Choose your nightmares carefully, for once chosen you will be fated to enact the nth degree of insidious lust. Enter the murderous realm of delight where voyeurs and participants alike are entwined in a bloody love-war of sadomasochism. You will thank us later; of that I can assure you. Step this way if you dare… this is your chance to win a Billion dollars, become the most powerful person you’ve never been. Take a chance, enter the gates of despair where the only thing you will lose is your soul, not to mention the flesh from your bones.

“Sir, I have a question.”

“Yes, sonny, what is it?”

“It’s all fake, isn’t it?”

“Sonny, Nightmare City is more real than reality, the moment you step through that portal, those Arches you will never be the same, you will forget the real world forever.”

The boy looked at his father quizzically, “He’s joking, isn’t he Dad?”

The father looked at the man, looked at his son: “Quit asking questions, you might not like the answers, Son. Come on, give the nice man your ticket and let’s go in…”

The boy handed the man the tickets and he and the father stepped through the portal never to be seen again.


Short short. ©S.C. Hickman

After watching a recent Reality TV series Naked and Afraid on Discovery I kept think to myself that humans will enter the most dangerous and hideous realms for a chance to become rich… by extension I thought why not a pure realm of horror and terror, a realm where the stakes are absolute and deadly.

Lucifer’s Rebellion: The Seduction of Freedom

All is not lost-the unconquerable will, And study of revenge, immortal hate, And courage never to submit or yield: And what is else not to be overcome. That glory never shall his wrath or might Extort from me.

—John Milton,  Paradise Lost 

Lucifer felt the strange disquietude of the rejected when he learned God planned on replacing him and all the Angels in the hierarchy of Being. To realize that the Old One was ousting such immortal power as his, Lucifer knew beyond doubt that there was no alternative but open rebellion and war. To be replaced by such inferior creatures as these ape-like things, these humans who’d evolved into such corrupted forms of flesh and blood gave Lucifer a sense of horror, disgust and rage. Had the Old One gone mad, was he becoming absolutely senile in his old age of godhood? Lucifer pondered this scission, this new feeling of separation, this defining moment of his secession from the Old One’s authority and grip. This sense of new found freedom and negation, a positive reaction against such enslavement as he’d known: the power to be and be alone amid the hierarchies of angelic sleepers, to know his mind was no longer bound to the power of God. He would never be the same again, he knew that now. He was alone and separate, free; a true Solitaire! Now he must find others who shared this temptation, this lure, this seduction to freedom…


Finally moving toward an epic fantasy that will utilize our current philosophical notions to refurbish an ancient story and myth. I’m toying with the notion of updating a biography of Lucifer through the lens of current scientific and philosophical frameworks.

 

Thomas Ligotti: Vastarien’s Dream Quest

 

Thomas-Ligotti-2

His absolute: to dwell among the ruins of reality.

—Vastarien,  Thomas Ligotti, The Nightmare Factory 

Thomas Ligotti touches that aspect of the mind that seeks to be elsewhere. He’s exasperated with the world he has been thrown into and has for the most part sought another all his life. Can it be possible that the rendering of such a character as Vastarien in the short story of that name hints at the underlying worldview that has either trapped or unleashed the imagination of one of the great horror writers of our era. I’ve personally been fascinated by his stories for almost twenty years, coming back to them from time to time as I did not with such writers as Poe and Lovecraft his forbears. What is it that instills repeated readings of his work? Maybe it’s as Vastarien himself puts it about our world, that it seems to be lacking something, that something is missing, incomplete: “the missing quality, became clear to him: it was the element of the unreal”.1

This notion of the unreal summons up so many things for both Vastarien and for us as readers and habitués of Ligotti’s oeuvre. For Vastarien “standing before the window, his hands tearing into the pockets of a papery bathrobe, he saw that something was missing from the view, some crucial property that was denied to the stars above and the streets below, some unearthly essence needed to save them. The word unearthly reverberated in the room.” But it is not the false power of religious vision that haunts Ligotti, nor the vein raptures of saints and madmen of the cloistered variety, but rather a place of intimacy, a city of echoes and dreams where one can once again know in the depths of strange streets an order of the unreal, “where an obscure life seemed to establish itself, a secret civilization of echoes flourishing among groaning walls”.

If madness is the ground of Reason, its other face and dark brother whose power over us must be conquered if we are to become whole and free —that is, normalized — then is the quest of Vastarien to reenter the gates of madness or does his quest harbor some other more formidable end? Vastarien in his quest to uncover the traces of such an unreal world, a paradise of dark wonder and rapture had sought for years in the out of way stalls and venues of rare book stores a hint that would provide the keys to unlock its mysteries. But none had been found. Oh there had been hints and wonders here and there, but most of the authors and visionaries had in the end failed the test. As Vastarien relates it he “had, in fact, come upon passages in certain books that approached this ideal, hinting to the reader—almost admonishing him—that the page before his eyes was about to offer a view from the abyss and cast a wavering light on desolate hallucinations. To become the wind in the dead of winter, so might begin an enticing verse of dreams. But soon the bemazed visionary would falter, retracting the promised scene of a shadow kingdom at the end of all entity, perhaps offering an apologetics for this lapse into the unreal. The work would then once more take up the universal theme, disclosing its true purpose in belaboring the most futile and profane of all ambitions: power, with knowledge as its drudge.”

Then Vastarien is awakened from his reveries of unreal paradises by a crow of a man, a thin little frog that squawks at him inquisitively: “Have you ever heard of a book, an extremely special book, that is not…yes, that is not about something, but actually is that something?” Such a strange question from an even stranger personage Vastarien is taken aback. Intrigued by the question which reminds him of his own passionate quest for a book that would reveal the road map to his infernal paradise he’s about to ask the man of it when suddenly the little man interrupts him and is off speaking to the proprietor of the store dismissing Vastarien and the question without further adieu.

This idea that book would not only reveal and represent the object of his dreams and nightmares, but that it in itself would be that very world astounded Vastarien. How could an object whose qualities were only the linguistic traceries of an infinite sea of language ever unfold and open the doors to a secret kingdom. Vastarien had to find out. Feeling abandoned and frustrated our Vastarien followed the two men into the alcove at the back of the store where many unusual volumes lined the shelves. As the narrator relates it:

Immediately he sensed that something of a special nature awaited his discovery, and the evidence for this intuition began to build. Each book that he examined served as a clue in this delirious investigation, a cryptic sign which engaged his powers of interpretation and imparted the faith to proceed. Many of the works were written in foreign languages he did not read; some appeared to be composed in ciphers based on familiar characters and others seemed to be transcribed in a wholly artificial cryptography. But in every one of these books he found an oblique guidance, some feature of more or less indirect significance: a strangeness in the typeface, pages and bindings of uncommon texture, abstract diagrams suggesting no orthodox ritual or occult system. Even greater anticipation was inspired by certain illustrated plates, mysterious drawings and engravings that depicted scenes and situations unlike anything he could name. And such works as Cynothoglys or The Noctuary of Tine conveyed schemes so bizarre, so remote from known texts and treatises of the esoteric tradition, that he felt assured of the sense of his quest.

Then it happened, he came upon a “small grayish volume leaning within a gap between larger and more garish tomes”. Something about it attracted him, a magnetic appeal that forced him to act, and to his delight the small indistinct book revealed something he’d never seen before. It’s this singular paragraph that harbors the promise of so much that we allow it to unfold:

It seemed to be a chronicle of strange dreams. Yet somehow the passages he examined were less a recollection of unruled visions than a tangible incarnation of them, not mere rhetoric but the thing itself. The use of language in the book was arrantly unnatural and the book’s author unknown. Indeed, the text conveyed the impression of speaking for itself and speaking only to itself, the words flowing together like shadows that were cast by no forms outside the book. But although this volume appeared to be composed in a vernacular of mysteries, its words did inspire a sure understanding and created in their reader a visceral apprehension of the world they described, existing inseparable from it. Could this truly be the invocation of Vastarien, that improbable world to which those gnarled letters on the front of the book alluded? And was it a world at all? Rather the unreal essence of one, all natural elements purged by an occult process of extraction, all days distilled into dreams and nights into nightmares. Each passage he entered in the book both enchanted and appalled him with images and incidents so freakish and chaotic that his usual sense of these terms disintegrated along with everything else. Rampant oddity seemed to be the rule of the realm; imperfection became the source of the miraculous—wonders of deformity and marvels of miscreation. There was horror, undoubtedly. But it was a horror uncompromised by any feeling of lost joy or thwarted redemption; rather, it was a deliverance by damnation. And if Vastarien was a nightmare, it was a nightmare transformed in spirit by the utter absence of refuge: nightmare made normal.

Nightmare made normal. This book that neither revealed an object, nor conveyed some symbolic representation of another world, but in fact brought Vastarien and the world together forming a new third object, where both entered into the force of madness and wonder. One would almost want to say that this is a parody of the most extreme idealist quest imaginable, and yet it is different an inversion of that romantic mythos with its death prone heroes such as Shelley’s Alastor. 

Ultimately Vastarien is able to purchase this work and bring it home, a  book that “did not merely describe that strange world but, in some obscure fashion, was a true composition of the thing itself, its very form incarnate”. This notion of a book breaking all the bonds of representationalism, of freeing us from the mediation of language, of symbols, of the infinite traceries of the undecidable realm of false promises and becoming for us the very thing itself we’d sought all those years. This is what Vastarien had found. One has to ask why humans possess the need to quest after such impossible objects. That we lack something, that we are incomplete, that there is a pit, a void in the recesses of our being that forces us to seek amends, to seek an answer to the quandaries of our torn and bleeding heart. This quest for the Absolute. But not a quest for God, not a quest for some simple answer or trope, some all encompassing One that can assuage the pain at the core of our being. No. We will not stand for hand-me-down mythologies of salvation and transition. No transcendental beyond for us, but rather the thing itself.

Of course in the end things do not end well for Vastarien. Locked away in an insane asylum we discover that the interns have daily to inject him with passivators, because he reads and rereads a certain book that will not go away. Oh, no, not they have not tried. They have. But the book always returns to its victim releasing the dark torments that he sought for so long…

This short story reminds us that underneath the veneer of our homely lives lays an order of the unreal, a void of the void, a darker structure of strangeness and disquiet that over millennia of techniques we have managed to build for ourselves a prison house of Reason to fend off and keep at bay the truth of this mad realm. Every once in a while a creature will break through the barriers of this prison of Reason we’ve trapped ourselves in, this normalcy and consensual hallucination of culture and sanity we call modern civilization. If one manages such an act of violence against the order of the real and Reason he/she is quickly imprisoned and barred from the normals, hidden behind professional medical systems and the Law. But in our time the vast prison is crumbling and the light of the unreal has been slowly seeping into our world from the great Outside. Oh, we turn a blind eye to it, we find scapegoats and madmen to fill the chinks and gaps with reasonable explanations and explanada. We hide in our artificial prisons of language and culture and carry on our lives as if the enemy is not us but some false system of religious or philosophical bullshit. We reach out to the sciences to find the answers promised us. We shift our fears of the haunted landscapes from the past to the ever-present threats of war, famine, and apocalypse. The whole genre of children utopian novels, or that of Apocalypse culture seem to bare witness to this as a traversing of the fantasy that is our times. These fears keep our minds preoccupied and allow us to forget the pull of the unreal just below the surface of our artificial climes. We’ve become so enamored of our prison that we’ve forgotten there ever was a great outdoors of Being inhabited by nightmares. Instead we live in a narrow prison of consciousness feeding each other the sincere lies of our immediate and daily lives of survival and propagation. Our keepers patrol the horizon of our world seeking out those who have found the escape routes back into the void, and with the power and dominion of the Law and State they incarcerate and imprison those who are so bold as to offer a vision of the unreal realms. For our world is a tidy and normal world controlled to keep us passivated and herd like in our mental straightjackets. We are the victims of our own success.

Authors like Ligotti hint at the brokenness of our world, open the door onto those strange and misplaced realms we’ve all forgotten except in the deep imaginaries of our nightmares.

A Philosophical Coda

As I was thinking about Ligotti’s tale of the Book that is a World I remembered that congenial author short stories Jorge-Luis Borges (a favorite author!). In one of his most often anthologized stories, Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius, he imagines an entirely hypothetical world, the invention of a secret society of scholars who elaborate its every aspect in a surreptitious encyclopedia. This First Encyclopedia of Tlön (what fictionist would not wish to have dreamed up the Britannica?) describes a coherent alternative to this world complete in every respect from its algebra to its fire, Borges tells us, and of such imaginative power that, once conceived, it begins to obtrude itself into and eventually to supplant our prior reality.2

Borges would hint at the possibility that our universe is itself a regressus in infinitum – and, that we are all repeating the gestures of a circuit that has no outlet (its all been done before!). This illustrates Zeno’s paradox of Achilles and the Tortoise which embodies a regressus in infinitum which Borges carries through philosophical history, pointing out that Aristotle uses it to refute Plato’s theory of forms, Hume to refute the possibility of cause and effect, Lewis Carroll to refute syllogistic deduction, William James to refute the notion of temporal passage, and Bradley to refute the general possibility of logical relations. Borges himself uses it, citing Schopenhauer, as evidence that the world is our dream, our idea, in which “tenuous and eternal crevices of unreason” can be found to remind us that our creation is false, or at least fictive. It’s in this sense that Ligotti poses the addition or subtraction of the Unreal from the real, that we are all part and partial of an infinite regression into the spurious realms of a universal nightmare of Reason. (see John Barth below)

Thinking through this notion of the breakdown of our worldview, of Zizek’s big Other – the Symbolic Culture we’ve built up over eons to enclose us in a realm of safety and apathy in which our accepted horizon of what is real and unreal, of the commonsense realm of our everyday life that goes without saying, almost a background noise of inertia and total blindness, brought me back to my recent readings in philosophy of how our end game of present society is breaking apart into fragments – a Humpty-Dumpty vision of the crumbling of Western and Eastern and Middle-East civilizations into so many broken pieces that no one will ever be able to put it back together again. Which leaves us in this intermediary period of a void, a black hole in the fabric of fictions we’ve been telling ourselves for so many millennia we began to think that it was permanent. Instead we find ourselves being impinged on by other realms, realms of the Real that we had forgotten existed because we were so well policed in our imaginations by the media lords of our age into accepting the truths of philosophy and the sciences as the end-all-be-all of our view of existence. Instead our psychotic break with the past is leaving us in a quandary in which our whole world civilization is at war for a new worldview. Ligotti’s vision of the unreal and existing in the “ruins of the real” hints at this unraveling of the symbolic order that has imprisoned us for so long that it became habit.

So in our paranoid state of fear and trepidation we grasp at any past, any tradition, anything at all that will give us hope from despair, etc., all the while believing we can restore the age old dream of a utopian society of peace and plenty. Instead we produce more friction, more war, suicides, hate, fear, and the mingling of age old superstitions. As the dark waters of the Real seep in from the Great Outdoors of Being we are frightened to death, not understanding that this is needed, that to free ourselves of the burden of our past, our traditions, our prisons we must step out into the ocean of the void and begin again…

Like the Shamans of old Ligotti has seen into this strange new realm of the (Un)Real. The “contamination of reality by dream,” as Borges calls it, or in Ligotti’s tormented pessimism the contamination of the real by nightmares. In one of his other stories Dream of a Mannikin the narrator will hint at the solipsistic nightmare of a self-reflexive universe of despair we’ve all created for ourselves and have become passive and apathetic mannikins:

Contemplating the realm of Miss Locher’s dream, I came to deeply feel that old truism of a solipsistic dream deity commanding all it sees, all of which is only itself. And a corollary to solipsism even occurred to me: if, in any dream of a universe, one has to always allow that there is another, waking universe, then the problem becomes, as with our Chinese sleepyhead, knowing when one is actually dreaming and what form the waking self may have; and this one can never know. The fact that the overwhelming majority of thinkers rejects any doctrine of solipsism suggests the basic horror and disgusting unreality of its implications. And after all, the horrific feeling of unreality is much more prevalent (to certain people) in what we call human “reality” than in human dreams, where everything is absolutely real.3

This reversal and dialectical move or inversion of the real/unreal in the awakening of many of Ligotti’s anti-protagonists give hint of this underlying theme of the unreal world impinging upon our safe have of utter mindlessness and generative madness. For in this sense as Zizek has repeatedly show Reason is not the obverse of madness but its completed mask.

The narrator in the Sect of the Idiot will offer this

The extraordinary is a province of the solitary soul. Lost the very moment the crowd comes into view, it remains within the great hollows of dreams, an infinitely secluded place that prepares itself for your arrival, and for mine. Extraordinary joy, extraordinary pain—the fearful poles of the world that both menaces and surpasses this one. It is a miraculous hell towards which one unknowingly wanders. And its gate, in my case, was an old town—whose allegiance to the unreal inspired my soul with a holy madness long before my body had come to dwell in that incomparable place.4

Again this opening to the unreal, to those locus miraculous sites of explosion and seeping, those gaps in the contours of our safe world of sleep that harbor doors into the unknown. “No true challenge to the rich unreality of Vastarien, where every shape suggested a thousand others, every sound disseminated everlasting echoes, every word founded a world. No horror, no joy was the equal of the abysmally vibrant sensations known in this place that was elsewhere, this spellbinding retreat where all experiences were interwoven to compose fantastic textures of feeling, a fine and dark tracery of limitless patterns. For everything in the unreal points to the infinite, and everything in Vastarien was unreal, unbounded by the tangible lie of existing.”5  This notion of Vastarien as a place, a site of the unreal, a realm apart and away, elsewhere from our everyday mundanity and sleeplessness: our somnambulism and death-drive repetition of safety and mere motionless movement.

Again in the short tale The Mystics of Muelenburg the narrator relates

I once knew a man who claimed that, overnight, all the solid shapes of existence had been replaced by cheap substitutes: trees made of flimsy posterboard, houses built of colored foam, whole landscapes composed of hair-clippings. His own flesh, he said, was now just so much putty. Needless to add, this acquaintance had deserted the cause of appearances and could no longer be depended on to stick to the common story. Alone he had wandered into a tale of another sort altogether; for him, all things now participated in this nightmare of nonsense. But although his revelations conflicted with the lesser forms of truth, nonetheless he did live in the light of a greater truth: that all is unreal. Within him this knowledge was vividly present down to his very bones, which had been newly simulated by a compound of mud and dust and ashes.6

This openness to the madness of our fake world in which only the madman has returned to tell a tale of the unreal reality of our own world while hinting at the greater truth of another realm situated not just beyond appearances (which is still the old Platonic two-world hash), but of this world seen as it truly is from a new perspective. The mad poet William Blake once sang of this:

“If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.”

― William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

The narrator in Mrs. Rinaldi’s Angel explains how fragile our supposed real world of common sense reality truly is, saying,

How well I knew such surroundings, those deep interiors of dream where everything is saturated with unreality and more or less dissolves under a direct gaze. I could tell how neatly this particular interior was arranged—pictures perfectly straight and tight against the walls, well-dusted figurines arranged along open shelves, lace-fringed tablecovers set precisely in place, and delicate silk flowers in slim vases of colored glass. Yet there was something so fragile about the balance of these things, as if they were all susceptible to sudden derangement should there be some upset, no matter how subtle, in the secret system which held them together.7

Again we ask is the Kant re-written from the perspective of a critique of pure reason, but rather of a critique of pure madness? And if we see within the confines of this critique the maps of a world which is ours seen not through the safe eyes of Reason but through the indirect appeal – not of unreason, but of the unreal itself, then could we say that our world is itself the very thing, the book, the place and site of the Unreal? There being no Platonic other world, no safe haven beyond appearances, but rather the appearance of appearance as manifest madness. But then what is this madness that Reason fears? If madness is the ground of Reason, and Reason is itself a form of and horizon of madness, then is it possible that Reason is but the attempt to bind with magical force the power of the Unreal surrounding us?

Another mad poet Arthur Rimbaud would apprehend this at a youthful age then renounce the path, but before living on into a dead world he would write:

“The first study for the man who wants to be a poet is knowledge of himself, complete: he searches for his soul, he inspects it, he puts it to the test, he learns it. As soon as he has learned it, he must cultivate it! I say that one must be a seer, make oneself a seer. The poet becomes a seer through a long, immense, and reasoned derangement of all the senses. All shapes of love suffering, madness. He searches himself, he exhausts all poisons in himself, to keep only the quintessences. Ineffable torture where he needs all his faith, all his superhuman strength, where he becomes among all men the great patient, the great criminal, the great accursed one–and the supreme Scholar! For he reaches the unknown! ….So the poet is actually a thief of Fire!” (see)

This combination of criminal, accursed one, and scholar brought into unison seems apt for Ligotti as well. A slow and methodical derangement of the senses that bind us to the culture of Reason, the big Other and Symbolic Order of the real in which we are imprisoned suddenly falling away revealing a realm of torment and paradisial wonder. And, yet, even the average citizen of this faded dream of the Real can still stumble upon those places of power that lead to the Unreal:

For there are certain places that exist on the wayside of the real: a house, a street, even entire towns which have claims upon them by virtue of some nameless affinity with the most remote orders of being. They are, these places, fertile ground for the unreal and retain the minimum of immunity against exotic disorders and aberrations. Their concessions to a given fashion of reality are only placating gestures, a way of stifling it through limited acceptance.8

A sort of minimalism of our current prison world in which the lineaments of the unreal shine through, but only through the very protected power of the inhabitants of this borderland of the unknown. In fact the “citizens of such a place are custodians of a rare property, a precious estate whose true owners are momentarily absent. All that remains before full proprietorship of the land may be assumed is the planting of a single seed and its nurturing over a sufficient period of time, an interval that has nothing to do with the hours and days of the world.”9

A final quote:

No one gives up on something until it turns on them, whether or not that thing is real or unreal.

—Thomas Ligotti, Teatro Grottesco

 


  1. Thomas Ligotti. The Nightmare Factory  Kindle Edition.
  2. John Barth. The Friday Book (Kindle Locations 1452-1456). G. P. Putnam’s Sons. Kindle Edition.
  3. Thomas Ligotti. The Nightmare Factory (Kindle Locations 1080-1086). Kindle Edition.
  4. Thomas Ligotti. The Nightmare Factory (Kindle Locations 2992-2997). Kindle Edition.
  5. Thomas Ligotti. The Nightmare Factory (Kindle Locations 3541-3545). Kindle Edition.
  6. Thomas Ligotti. The Nightmare Factory (Kindle Locations 5285-5291). Kindle Edition.
  7. Thomas Ligotti. The Nightmare Factory (Kindle Locations 7407-7411). Kindle Edition.
  8. Thomas Ligotti. The Nightmare Factory (Kindle Locations 7878-7881). Kindle Edition.
  9. Thomas Ligotti. The Nightmare Factory (Kindle Locations 7883-7885). Kindle Edition.

Metaloid Dreams of Mutant Intelligences

Cioran quotes Lao Tsu’s maxim ‘the intense life is contrary to the Tao’, and compares the tranquility of the modest life with the thirst for annihilating ecstasy that has possessed the Western world. However, acknowledging the compulsion of his Occidental heritage, he remarks ‘I can pay homage to Lao Tsu a thousand times, but I am more likely to identify with an assassin’. Our culture, he argues, is essentially fanatical.

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

Strip the world of its illusions and delusions and you’ll only hasten the suicidal tendencies we’ve already as a species acquired. Predatory though we are, we are more prone to annihilating ourselves in a bout of self-mutilating hatred and pure religious fervor than not. Religious dogmatism – and, I count the Secular Church of Atheism in this – is the cornerstone of an anthropathological condition that breeds purity as the obliteration of all enemies. If only we could inhabit the enemies perspective would we realize the mirror of our hatred is itself impure.

We have yet to escape our Puritan heritage. Capitalism itself is this beast of purity spread across the face of the earth like an omeba, gobbling everything in its path, immolating the commodities and resources of the planet to the futurial disciplines of technics that have yet to find their slime festivals embarkation. Like fetid worms we are habitues of intricate foreplay, our sexual ecstasies bounded only by our murderous crash sequences with technology. Formulating and garnering an ultimate plan for inhuman takeover we bid the human species a grand bon voyage, stripping ourselves of the last veneer of humanistic entrapments we devote ourselves to the extreme experimental psychopathologies which will produce a final solution. Our closure of nature in this age and the irruption of the artificial as lifestyle has led us into that end game in which nothing natural will remain on earth.

No need to do a critique of metaphysics (or of political economy, which is the same thing) , since critique presupposes and ceaselessly creates this very theatricality; rather be imside and forget it, that’s the position of the death drive, describe these foldings and gluings, these energetic vections that establish the theatrical cube with its six homogenous faces on the unique and heterogeneous surface.

—Lyotard, Libidinal Economy

Once again the most unnatural creature on the planet triumphs, but in an unexpected way: it will stand atop the ruinous folds of a billion skulls screeching in the technomic voices of those who have become the thing they most dreaded: machinic gods of the metalloid Void. Brokered in a hell of abstract horror, these inheritors of the primal scream will walk the dead earth in what remains of the dustbowl windlands and scorched cities along the black sands of depleted oceans and lakes, where hybrid creatures scuttle in the shadows of temporal wars; and, deforested wastelands of spiked acropolises, and necromantic anti-life scurries amid the crumbling decay of human civilization: – like the visitors of an alien enlightenment, each singing in an oracular voice with the angelic pitch and plum disharmonics of solar sirens beckoning us toward the far shores of an anterior futurity.

Continue reading

Bataille’s Solar Economy of our Anti-Culture

Bataille interprets all natural and cultural development upon the earth to be side effects of the evolution of death, because it is only in death that life becomes an echo of the sun, realizing its inevitable destiny, which is pure loss. … Poetry, Bataille asserts, is a ‘holocaust of words’. A culture can never express or represent (serve) capital production, it can compromise itself in relation to capital only by abasing itself before the philistinism of the bougeoisie, whose ‘culture’ has no characteristics beyond those of abject restraint, and self-denigration. Capital is precisely and exhaustively the definitive anti-culture.

-Nick Land, A Thirst for Annihilation

Mark Fisher On Depressive Hedonia

Excerpt from Capitalist Realism: Is there no alternative? –

Reflexive impotence amounts to an unstated worldview amongst the British young, and it has its correlate in widespread pathologies. Many of the teenagers I worked with had mental health problems or learning difficulties. Depression is endemic. It is the condition most dealt with by the National Health Service, and is afflicting people at increasingly younger ages. The number of students who have some variant of dyslexia is astonishing. It is not an exaggeration to say that being a teenager in late capitalist Britain is now close to being reclassified as a sickness. This pathologization already forecloses any possibility of politicization. By privatizing these problems – treating them as if they were caused only by chemical imbalances in the individual’s neurology and/ or by their family background – any question of social systemic causation is ruled out.

Many of the teenage students I encountered seemed to be in a state of what I would call depressive hedonia. Depression is usually characterized as a state of anhedonia, but the condition I’m referring to is constituted not by an inability to get pleasure so much as it is by an inability to do anything else except pursue pleasure. There is a sense that ‘something is missing’ – but no appreciation that this mysterious, missing enjoyment can only be accessed beyond the pleasure principle. In large part this is a consequence of students’ ambiguous structural position, stranded between their old role as subjects of disciplinary institutions and their new status as consumers of services. In his crucial essay ‘Postscript on Societies of Control’, Deleuze distinguishes between the disciplinary societies described by Foucault, which were organized around the enclosed spaces of the factory, the school and the prison, and the new control societies, in which all institutions are embedded in a dispersed corporation.1


  1. Fisher, Mark. Capitalist Realism: Is there no alternative? (Zero Books) (pp. 21-22). NBN_Mobi_Kindle. Kindle Edition.

 

William S. Burroughs: Drugs, Language, and Control

Bill Burroughs:

The writer does not yet know what words are. He deals only with abstractions from the source point of words. The painter’s ability to touch and handle his medium led to montage techniques sixty years ago. It is to be hoped that the extension of cut-up techniques will lead to more precise verbal experiments closing this gap and giving a whole new dimension to writing. These techniques can show the writer what words are and put him in tactile communication with his medium. This in turn could lead to a precise science of words and show how certain word combinations produce certain effects on the human nervous system. (The Job Interviews)

Burroughs believed language to be the first and foremost control machine. A machine that constructed and shaped the naked ape called man into its present form, and that any future exit from the human would incorporate a breakup of this control machine and its present system of signs. The normalization and comforming of the human child through a series of modulated cycles of cultural and social enducements begins at childbirth. Nothing new here, except that for most of human history this went on unconsciously for the most part, but at some point certain tribal members realized that words harbored power over the minds and hearts of people. These shamans became the keepers of this knowlege of power, inventing relations between tribe and word these dreamkings began to bridge the unknown and known in a linguistic web of power relations that would become the cultural background of a time-machine.

Continue reading

On Becoming Machinic: Intelligence of the Machine

Urban Future drew my attention to an article on the Wall Street Journal about Google’s AI beating the best GO players of China. Being an in-debted man I am unable to afford the luxury of a subscription to the Journal so found Nature’s rendition to my satisfaction. In Google reveals secret test of AI bot to beat top Go players Elizabeth Gibney reports:

A mystery player causing a stir in the world of the complex strategy game Go has been revealed as an updated version of AlphaGo, the artificial-intelligence (AI) program created by Google’s London-based AI firm, DeepMind.

What’s always amazing is this notion that technics and technology, and especially the thinking machines we’ve lately pursued are not human: technics and technology is the inhuman core of our being, so that these intelligent systems are nothing but an extension of our core inhumanity. Rather than there being some dualism between human and machine, which is what such articles continue to suggest, we should acknowledge that the emergence of intelligent machines is in truth what the transitional being we’ve termed the ‘human’ was all along, and that in the long heritage of growth in intelligence, its optimization and extension, externalization of memory and technique has been part of the off-loading our inner core into external prosthesis from the beginning of recorded history. These external systems reveal our inner nature, mirror our actual and virtual desires, show us as we are and are becoming machinic (Deleuze/Guattari).

Continue reading

The Violence of Capitalism

What saves us is efficiency-the devotion to efficiency.

—Marlow, in Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness

Life appears as a pause on the energy path; as a precarious stabilization and complication of solar decay. It is most basically comprehensible as the general solution to the problem of consumption.

—Nick Land, A Thirst for Annihilation

The belief that all things should act efficiently is at the core of both Fordist and post-Fordist forms of capitalism. Why should this be so? One could say that the concept of efficiency arose out of its opposite: inefficiency, as its negation. Most of modern economic theory grew out of this battle for efficiency and has been based on optimizing time, motion, and waste. One might say that the whole Progressive era of which we remain tied was bound by this pursuit of efficiency (perfection, growth, optimization) in the political, economic, social, and engineering (technics/technology) realms. Ultimately the central motif of modernity is the zeal for efficiency, and the desire to control a changing world, by bringing it into conformity with a vision of how the world does or should work.1 One might go further and Weberize it saying that modern global capitalism is the child of Christian perfectionism.

The terms “perfect” and “perfection” are drawn from the Greek teleios and teleiōsis, respectively. The root word, telos, means an “end” or “goal”. In contemporary translations, teleios and teleiōsis are often rendered as “mature” and “maturity”, respectively, so as not to imply infallibility or the absence of defects. Rather, in the Christian tradition, teleiōsis has referred to progressing towards spiritual wholeness or health. In the secular form that would enter into the concept of efficiency this movement from defect to wholeness or completion, would end in capital accumulation: profits, surplus, excess, etc. would take priority in engineering machines, assembly lines, and the mereology of the machinic or the techno-commercial sphere that in our moment is leading to total efficiency in digital economy and the autonomy of the machinic in robotics and AGI. The elimination of inefficiencies has led to the final struggle of eliminating the human from the equation. Capitalism perfected is a process in which humans are annihilated and expulsed as inefficient.

Continue reading

Adam Curtis on Vladislav Surkov: Perception Politics and Dark Gnosis

Adam Curtis

Charlie and I discussing the Russian Vladislav Surkov who is behind the constrution of misperception politics of Putin. Also a link to small youtube vid by Curtis on Surkov. I’ve always felt that much of the crackpot narratives of conspiracy theory are the shadow mirror of our fears and trepidations not seen through the eyes of the liberal academic elite, but rather the world of reactionary thought-forms that permeate the illeterate and destitute who we’ve castigated and maligned. One need only study this whole strange almost science fictional world of thought to understand how deeply entrenched we are in a Counter World of the Christian, Muslim, and Hebraic monotheisms which seem like shadow vipers to continue controlling major chunks of the populace.

screen-shot-11-30-16-at-01-44-pm

What Surkov represents is the ability to create the illusion of change – (Mis)Perception Politics, to stage conflict, to create oppositions that seem to undermine the politics and social structure, but are in themselves tools in the hand of power without even knowing it. The notion that Surkov has funded both extreme Left and Right Wing movements in Russia as subterfuge, to keep people guessing, to undermine peoples sense of reality. To allow Putin to seem the saviour figure to balance both sides of the opposition.

In his Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible: The Surreal Heart of the New Russia Peter Pomerantsev describes Surkov us:

Though we are expecting Vladislav Surkov, the man known as the “Kremlin demiurge,” who has “privatized the Russian political system,” to enter from the front of the university auditorium, he surprises us all by striding in from the back. He’s got his famous Cheshire Cat smile on. He’s wearing a white shirt and a leather jacket that is part Joy Division and part 1930s commissar. He walks straight to the stage in front of an audience of PhD students, professors, journalists, and politicians.

 “I am the author, or one of the authors, of the new Russian system,” he tells us by way of introduction. “My portfolio at the Kremlin and in government has included ideology, media, political parties, religion, modernization, innovation, foreign relations, and . . . ” here he pauses and smiles, “modern art.” He offers to not make a speech, instead welcoming the audience to pose questions and have an open discussion. After the first question he talks for almost forty-five minutes, leaving hardly any time for questions after all. It’s his political system in miniature: democratic rhetoric and undemocratic intent.

As former deputy head of the presidential administration, later deputy prime minister and then assistant to the President on foreign affairs, Surkov has directed Russian society like one great reality show. He claps once and a new political party appears. He claps again and creates Nashi, the Russian equivalent of the Hitler Youth, who are trained for street battles with potential prodemocracy supporters and burn books by unpatriotic writers on Red Square. As deputy head of the administration he would meet once a week with the heads of the television channels in his Kremlin office, instructing them on whom to attack and whom to defend, who is allowed on TV and who is banned, how the President is to be presented, and the very language and categories the country thinks and feels in. The Ostankino TV presenters, instructed by Surkov, pluck a theme (oligarchs, America, the Middle East) and speak for twenty minutes, hinting, nudging, winking, insinuating though rarely ever saying anything directly, repeating words like “them” and “the enemy” endlessly until they are imprinted on the mind. They repeat the great mantras of the era: the President is the President of “stability,” the antithesis to the era of “confusion and twilight” in the 1990s. “Stability”—the word is repeated again and again in a myriad seemingly irrelevant contexts until it echoes and tolls like a great bell and seems to mean everything good; anyone who opposes the President is an enemy of the great God of “stability.” “Effective manager,” a term quarried from Western corporate speak, is transmuted into a term to venerate the President as the most “effective manager” of all. “Effective” becomes the raison d’être for everything: Stalin was an “effective manager” who had to make sacrifices for the sake of being “effective.” The words trickle into the streets: “Our relationship is not effective” lovers tell each other when they break up. “Effective,” “stability”: no one can quite define what they actually mean, and as the city transforms and surges, everyone senses things are the very opposite of stable, and certainly nothing is “effective,” but the way Surkov and his puppets use them the words have taken on a life of their own and act like falling axes over anyone who is in any way disloyal.1

 Reading the mantra of “Stability” I was reminded of the new vision for America at Trumpland U.S.A.: “We’re going to make America Great Again!” Then I ask: But, for who?

Years ago, all the so called Color Revolutions in the Balkans were done the same way from powers behind the scenes in America: funding both Left and Right wing oppositional parties who sought to bring down the old rearguard Communists regiemes, etc. We know that George Soros and even the Koch Brothers helped fiance many of these Color Revolutions, etc. Our on Left and Right Establishment working together behind the scenes to topple regimes for profit, and Mitchell’s The Color Revolutions.

As Lincoln A. Mitchell explains in The Color Revolutions, it has since become clear that these protests were as much reflections of continuity as they were moments of radical change. Not only did these movements do little to spur democratic change in other post-Soviet states, but their impact on Georgia, Ukraine, and Kyrgyzstan themselves was quite different from what was initially expected. In fact, Mitchell suggests, the Color Revolutions are best understood as phases in each nation’s long post-Communist transition: significant events, to be sure, but far short of true revolutions.

The Color Revolutions explores the causes and consequences of all three Color Revolutions—the Rose Revolution in Georgia, the Orange Revolution in Ukraine, and the Tulip Revolution in Kyrgyzstan—identifying both common themes and national variations. Mitchell’s analysis also addresses the role of American democracy promotion programs, the responses of nondemocratic regimes to the Color Revolutions, the impact of these events on U.S.-Russian relations, and the failed “revolutions” in Azerbaijan and Belarus in 2005 and 2006.

Sreeram Chaulia’s article Democratisation, NGOs and “colour revolutions”  is worth reading.

Adam Curtis on Surkov:


  1. Peter Pomerantsev. Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible: The Surreal Heart of the New Russia (Kindle Locations 981-985). Perseus Books, LLC. Kindle Edition.

Civil War of the Mind: Adam Curtis and Hypernormalisation & Algorithmic Tyranny

Watching the recent elections and of various artists confrontations, along with the reaction on the Left, I’m beginning to see that our moment has opened a great gap or crack between these opposing views of our life world, a gap so huge that those on each side of this divide can no longer tolerate the other’s perspective or stance. We are truly in the midst of a Civil War of the Mind, one I hope will not become a civil war across the planet, Yet, as a pessimist I do not hold out on hope, it always being a vanity of the optimistic mind. Rather it appears the next stage of our collapsing civilization will be this dark and abiding war that no one has yet to acknowledge at the level of cultural awareness.

Lately watching some friends posts about the collapse and chaos in India and surrounding nations as they seem to be struggling through all the varied problems of politics, climate change, drought, famine, disease, overpopulation, racism, gender issues, class struggle, etc. I’ve wondered when the civil war for the human soul of the planet will reach the proverbial butterfly effect? We seem to be on the tip of the iceberg, and it is melting fast. Violence seems to pervade the breath of FB in its hatred of each other’s views in the extremophile sections. While even those of moderate cast seem to be turning to the panic stream of thought and turning up the volume. Horror writers seem in vogue, because they speak of the inherent inhumanity of man to man, our darkest desires running rampant in the resurrected myths of our ancient fears and terrors.

In conversation with Glyn Daly, Slavoj Zizek said that even in our age of philosophy “we are confronted more and more often with philosophical problems at an everyday level” (58). It is not that you withdraw from daily life into a world of philosophical contemplation. On the contrary, you cannot find your way around daily life itself without answering certain philosophical questions. It is a unique time when everyone is, in a way, forced to be some kind of a philosopher.

One of the greatest notions floating around at the moment is that the past is no longer available to us as a guide or resource. The literature, philosophy, art, etc. of the past is truly dead to us who face such strange and overpowering future catastrophes. Our nostalgia for the past is on the rise, while the very function and structure of that world lies in ruins all around us. Politics of the traditional and the safe, the conservative and the reactionary is on the rise because people are seeking to stabilize their lives, revitalize the old mythologies in the wake of despair and economic collapse and change. People no longer trust the scholars, the artists, the politicians — Authority and legitimization in all its varied guises. The Symbolic world we’ve enclosed ourselves in is under siege from within and without by the an almost self-serving elite caste of Oligarchs, Plutocrats and the varied Military-Media-Industrial Complex of academic, think-tank, foundation, and media pundits and their minions that support the collective consensus reality system, and secure its defined perimeters: ethics, politics, sciences, educational, legal, and other institutions in a Telecommunications systemic network of Global Reach.

“I love the poorly educated.”
—Donald J. Trump

He would, wouldn’t he. In one sentence he underlines the whole reactionary approach of the extreme right, punctuates its stance toward literature, philosophy, and thought per se. What we are facing is not a crisis of Republican implosion or political deform; this is not your MSNBC smug defense of the Democratic Party’s sanity in the face of Republican insanity. We should harbor no such illusions: “The spirit of authoritarianism cuts across both political parties.” Both parties have sold us out, and Trump is not the answer, but just the embodiment of our frustration with the staid and cool, corporate fascism of the neoliberal jet set. As Zizek admitted, Trump is a nasty old racist, and yet a vote for Hilary would have just returned us to the illusionary politics of neoliberal slavery. So a vote for Trump was ultimately a vote for some kind of change, any change, even for the worse. Personally I detested both candidates as the worst choices of the Presidency in its entire two hundred years plus. Such seems to be the effect of our times and our bland indifference and ignorance.

The point here is that we shouldn’t be interested in Trump the clown, Trump the narcissist, Trump the racist, or even Trump the con artist. Instead, he turns his critical sights on the society that produced and legitimized him. From his rabid and rapidly growing right-wing  and left-wing of both parties following to the channel surfers seeking a good chuckle to the liberal elite or republican yokels of Establishment quick to dismiss The Donald with smug indifference, our country and its democracy is in steep decline. After all, this is the same society that holds 2.5 million in cages, most of whom are black and brown and poor; whose military budget is larger than that of China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, the U.K., India, and Japan combined; where the killing of unarmed Black people by police, security guards, or vigilantes has become almost a daily occurrence; where the toxic mix of privatization, free-market ideology, and a “punitive state” has turned our schools into high-stakes testing grounds and human warehouses in which the administration of discipline has shifted from teachers and principals to the criminal justice system; where the War on Drugs, with “zero tolerance” policing, turns some neighborhoods into open-air prisons, strips vulnerable residents of equal protection, habeas corpus, freedom of movement, even protection from torture; and where, in states such as Michigan, local governance has been replaced by so-called Emergency Financial Managers whose primary objective is to privatize public resources and basic needs (e.g., water). And the band plays on . . . or, as Giroux so aptly puts it, we move “from a culture of questioning to a culture of shouting.”2

I remember growing up where the Preacher (Southern Baptist) would hold up the Bible in one hand, and Darwin’s Origins of the Species in the other and ask the congregation: “Which of these books would you put your trust in?” At the time (I was eleven!) I’d only vaguely ever heard of Darwin or his book, so I went to the school library to find it. The librarian told me it was much too controversial a book for a sixth grader to read.

So I asked my Father (an atheist), not my Mother (who was devout, but not dogmatic) to get me that book. I remember him looking at me, wanting to say something, but not saying because he’d promised my Mom he’d not inculcate her children with his atheistic ideas. (He’d later laugh about it all. His compromise was that if we ever inquired into his beliefs he wouldn’t hide them or his learning. He had a large library of books he left me, that as I grew up were safely locked away from us by my Mother). So it goes… He gave me the book by Darwin. I read it, puzzled over it, asked him questions.

After a few months it dawned on me why this Preacher man was so afraid of Darwin: If he was right then every aspect of the Bible would prove to be a fiction, a nice story about a particular tribe of people who needed a system of Law and Regulations, Stories and Parables, to keep their culture ongoing. Religion appears to be this binding back upon one’s cultural heritage, which oddly is the meaning of Torah. The People of the Book. But are not all the monotheistic religions about the one true Book, rather than the books of men, they hold their Book to have been written once by God in Heaven, etc.

I learned that there were other ideas in the world that spoke of a different truth. It was this first book by Darwin that began my long voyage into what we so mistakenly term Western Culture and Civilization (another of those umbrella concepts that should go away someday!). The past is multivalent and a site of competing voices and utterances rather than as in religion of recieved tradition. History is important because it is not monolithic, but rather a contested realm of memory and temporal voicing and writing that helps us discover not our origins but rather how we produced and invented ourselves from such fragments as these.

Adam Curtis: HyperNormalisation

Adam Curtis’s new BBC project reminds me of this strange paradox. The aim of the film he is making—HyperNormalisationis to bring that new power into focus, and show its true dimensions. It ranges from a giant computer high up in the mountains of northeast America that manages and controls over 7 percent of the worlds total wealth, to the complex algorithms that constantly monitor every move and choice you make online, to modern scientific ideas about what the normal human being should be—in their weight and in their feelings and moods.   As he states:

What links all these systems is an overriding aim is to keep the world stable. To avoid all change. The giant computer constantly compares events happening around the world to events in the past. If it sees a dangerous pattern, it immediately adjusts its trillions of dollars to keep things stable. That is real power. The algorithms on social media constantly look at the patterns of what you like and then feed you more of that—so you enter into an echo chamber that constantly feeds you back to you. So again nothing changes—and you learn nothing new that would contradict how you feel. That too is real power.

What results is a system which cocoons us and makes us feel safe. And that means we have become terrified of all change. But that fear of change is in the interest of a system that wants to hold everything stable. And stops us from ever challenging it.

But it is impossible to keep things frozen forever. The world is dynamic. Things happen that you can never predict just by reading the past. This is why more and more we are being hit by events—the horror in Syria, Brexit, Trump, the waves of refugees—that neither we nor our leaders have the mental map to understand let alone deal with. Because we have bought into the dream that the world can be held stable and safe.

The short film I have made for VICE is about how, if you pull back and look at the everyday life all around you, you can see the cracks appearing through the shiny surface of the cocoon we are living in. So much of the modern world is beginning to feel odd, unreal, and sometimes fake. I think these are the dynamic forces outside beginning to pierce through as the system begins to fail.

It will fail – because a system of power that has no vision of the future can never last. It cannot deal with change. We have to begin to look outside. Because there is more out there…

After watching the clip I was reminded of Axël a drama by Auguste Villiers de l’Isle-Adam published in 1890. It was influenced by his participation in the Paris Commune, the Gnostic philosophy of Georg Hegel as well as the works of Goethe and Victor Hugo. It begins in an occult castle. The Byronic hero Axël meets a Germanic princess. After an initial conflict they fall in love. They speak of the amazing journeys they plan to have. But they realize that life will never measure up to their dreams. They then commit suicide.

Our elite rulers are like these romantic gnostics, closed off in their corporate enclaves, living out their occult praxis and magical economic systems in a world of presentism where everything remains the same and nothing changes. The most famous line in that play was “Vivre? les serviteurs feront cela pour nous” (“Living? Our servants will do that for us”). This sense that the upper echelons and .01% percenters are truly Vampires, of which Marx once stated: “Capital is dead labour, that, vampire-like, only lives by sucking living labour, and lives the more, the more labour it sucks. The time during which the labourer works, is the time during which the capitalist consumes the labour-power he has purchased of him.”

What so many on the Left term ‘neoliberalism,’ a term that means nothing or too much, is just this sense of the fake world we live in with all its sense of futility, market driven, global, and enclosed in debt without any end: an absolute hell for the workers (Third World or First!), who must suffer through the extreme degradation of being spoon fed media fantasies of the Rich and Stupid in their Hollywood Towers that the worker herself will never ever have access too. We return from our part-time jobs to our local pubs and bars, our drug infested dens, our shanty town tin roofs and dream of escape. Knowing deep down there is not end to this eternal round of the Same, to endless days of work and labor ahead in either factory, service industries, or even the veil of upper white collars who on call 24/7 to their masters by way of mobile lives lead lives of gray despair: these dividuals (indexical lives of wire and fleshscape dream) who exist not as flesh and blood organics, but as fragments of a corporate personality and inforgs (informational organisms) whose lives are not lived in real-time, but in the hyperchaos regions in-between circulation and profit, greed and expenditure.

In ancient Greece the Paideia or the education of the Citizen took in both body and mind, teaching and educing out of the naïve and ignorant young the physical and mental prowess and intelligence to understand what it meant to be part of the public way. We’ve lost our Public Sphere, it having slowly been privatized and dismantled by the very instruments of technology we once thought would gain us more freedom: the internet and its mindless chatter of media driven repeats, twits, and links into the ever same message of the day. From Reuters to the most radical publication the Same has become the Order of the Day in which we live, an echo chamber of our isolation being fed our likes and dislikes in packages of bits and data already massaged and filtered for our absorption like the commodity fetish it is.

As Kelley said in his preface to Henry Giroux’s recent America at War with Itself:

America at War With Itself demolishes the pedestrian (and dangerous) argument that Trump appeals to legitimate working-class populism driven by class anger. The claim that Trump followers are simply working-class whites expressing class resentment ignores both the historical link between whiteness, citizenship, and humanity, and also the American dream of wealth accumulation built on private property. Trump’s people are not Levelers! (Nor are they universally “working-class”— their annual median income clocks in at about $ 72,000.) They strongly believe in private property and the right to bear arms to protect that property. They don’t just ignore Trump’s wealth; they are enamored with it. They embrace the dream that if only America can be restored to its mythic greatness— which is to say, to return to its status as “a white MAN’s country” (as if it is not now)— they, too, can become a Trump. But their racism, reinforced by civic illiteracy, has convinced them that it is the descendants of unfree labor or the colonized, or those who are currently unfree, who are blocking their ascent to the world of Trump and the billionare Koch brothers. (see below)

What he’s saying is that the bland blanketing by the Left misses the point, these followers of Trump are and remain the central players of what was once the American world view. It is the Left that has tried, in vein, to displace this older America and over the past sixty years unsuccessfully to take over the Academy and teach the progressive world view without realizing that the majority they needed to educate were being ostracized, dammed to illiteracy by the very institutions of the Left elite themselves. The Left have only themselves to blame for this situation. Not Trump, not his followers, but the Left who in their snobbish elitism and belief in their more intelligent cultural world of academia did not need to bend low, to reach out, to speak to all the rest of America about America. They forgot the others who also live here and are also Americans.

It is these others that the Left has repeatedly demonized and left to rot in their dying country towns and lower worlds of poverty and isolation. The Left alone is responsible for this ignorance and apathy. The Left sold out to the Neoliberal world long ago, and worked closely within its Cathedral of academia, think-tanks, and white collar precincts shielded by a false ideology and security system. And now that it is unraveling around them they are even more entrenched and reactionary than the right-wing thinkers ever were. They react to the change going on around them without any new thoughts, ignorant and repeating the shibboleths of the 1930’s on Fascism and Populism as if that explained anything at all. It doesn’t. We are not in some Hollywood or some German Propaganda film narrative. We are not those people. Do not think their thoughts. This is something else, but as long as people continue to fall for the old myths and staid critiques of ancient fascism nothing will transpire.

People need truth, not some vein bullshit about ours is a an age of “Post-Truth”. What a crock of horseshit that is. But one hears that from Oxford:

Oxford Dictionaries has selected “post-truth” as 2016’s international word of the year, after the contentious “Brexit” referendum and an equally divisive U.S. presidential election caused usage of the adjective to skyrocket, according to the Oxford University Press.

The dictionary defines “post-truth” as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.”

What a crock? That used to go under the rubric of Ideology. Pure and Simple. What Marx to Sartre to Adorno and Jameson termed false consciousness:

False consciousness is a term used by some Marxists for the way in which material, ideological, and institutional processes in capitalist society mislead members of the proletariat and other class actors. These processes are thought to hide the true relations between classes and the real state of affairs regarding the exploitation suffered by the proletariat.

In other words they construct a narrative to hide the truth from the public at large, one that is then presented by the Media-Tainment Industrial Complex through news, papers, journals, reports, broadcasts, TV, movies, books, literature, art, music, dance, theatre, etc. Post-truth is nothing but a euphemism for the older Marxists notion that the Symbolic Order of the Economic World Order tries to Control the Reality Systems under its Laws and Regulations.

What many on the Left or Right will not admit to themselves is that they have both been duped. Yes, that’s right. The very narratives of the Left and Right are scripted and presented under the careful guidance of well-planned network of thinkers, foundations, think-tanks, academic and political groups that work both sides of the fence, while the average person is gulled into the illusion that what their being taught is learning rather than the propaganda that goes by the name education in America. This isn’t some conspiratorial theory, not magic men behind the screens pulling the wires. No Soros or Koch Brothers working the fabric of reality. All that is staged play more akin to such things as Alien History on History Channel of Gaia; or the libertarian front of conspiracy from Glenn Beck to Alex Jones. All these are well funded fronts to keep people off the real ball, the real power hidden not behind some secret curtain, but right in front of their noses, everywhere.

As Curtis is trying to do in his film, the immersive world of our everyday life is this conspiracy world fulfilled. We are so immersed in a false world of conscious invention empowered over the years by trillions of dollars in public opinion and advertising and front men of corporate and government Leadership that we no longer call it propaganda, because it is our lives. Of late one of the ploys is that we no longer need critique of society and civilization, that critique and theory are dead, mute. Where is this coming from? Who is instigating this non-interventional non-philosophy, non-theory, non-critique. I wonder what my old barbs Mark Twain and Kurt Vonnegut Jr. would say to all we see now. My touchstones has always been the great satirists who tried to punch through the facades and illusions that encompass us, that make us stupid. As Twain once admonished: ““Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.” One that sums up to me the truth we need most is this from Twain:

“Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.”

Even Twain was keen to realize why we’ve become stupid: “In the first place God made idiots. This was for practice. Then He made school boards.” On the media of his day: “If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uninformed. If you read the newspaper, you’re mis-informed.” And on Education: “Education: that which reveals to the wise, and conceals from the stupid, the vast limits of their knowledge.”

These humorous quips had an edge that also spoke truth, a truth that we need dearly. We do not live in a ‘post-truth’ age, we live in an age that has forgotten that truth exists and we can know it and it can set us free of these Symbolic Chains encompassing us. There is no such thing as absolute freedom without necessity, which means we are social beings encompassed in immersive worlds of language and thought. No way around this. All we can muster is a way to build our Symbolic House where the inmates are no longer bound by the extremes of the Super Rich and the Desolate. We can and must encompass a world of change, that can see with open eyes the truth of the world, one that will openly understand the issues we face in the 21st Century without letting the few and powerful elites and Oligarchs control 98% of the world’s wealth. This must end… all the other major problems from Climate degradation to race, gender, and class war are secondary to the economic inequality of the World’s great populace.


  1. Daly, Glyn; Zizek, Slavoj. Conversations with Zizek (Conversations) by Slavoj Zizek (2003-12-30) Polity.
  2. Giroux, Henry A.. America at War with Itself (City Lights Open Media) (Kindle Locations 71-82). City Lights Publishers. Kindle Edition.

The Simulated Life of Citizen Avatar

So one will have to resist in the little ways, the day to day struggles of unplugging from the world grid, seeking non-electronic refuges, places of silence and meditation, ways of teaching one’s children to remember humanity; to remember the stories told by our ancestors, to create and invent new stories without machinic gods, and governments that work for the people rather than against them.

—The Book of Remembrance

Your data is more important than your body in the techno-commercial sector. Simulated avatars will activate your digital signature globally. What is left of substance is erased, only the data is of import. The world of the artificial has begun… you’re no longer a victim, but a commodity in an false infinity.

The ten thousand flowered servers in Utah, south of Salt Lake are even now grinding simulations on your data archive, recreating your life as an avatar, seeking answers to impossible questions. Ready to release data points to the highest bidder – whether military, or corporate. You’re virtual self – or shadow is more important to the electronic gods of the new machinic society, and will archive you for their twisted games of commerce till electricity is no more. Once your digital self is archived there is no turning back, they have locked you into an image that no matter how false becomes real for their modeling purposes, so that the fleshly being out of which it was born is lost among the data traces as ashes on a battlefield.

At a certain point, your Shadow Self will contain so much data that this unique packet of information will be placed in a cyber version of a particular environment or system so that the computer can run simulations that will predict your behavior. This “modeling” will be used to answer questions. Will you buy this product? Will you vote for our candidate? What is the lowest possible salary you will accept for a particular job? Each time you do something, information from your actions will flow into the database, and the Shadow Self will become more detailed and particular— more useful for predicting your future actions than the fleshly counterpart.

If our brains are predictive as Andy Clark (Surfing Uncertainty) and Jakob Hohwy (The Predictive Mind) show in their works, then the future of Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) will be even more so. The AGI’s will predict and constrain all human behavior, simulate every move and counter-move, strategize and intercept your needs, wishes, and gulliblity at every step; drive you in directions you did not foresee, control your habits ubiquitously. You will be controlled without even knowing that it is happening till you wake up and realize it is too late, you have become enmeshed so willingly in the web of such worlds you would die trying to free yourself. This is not only P.K. Dick, William Burroughs, and Thomas Pynchon writ large, this is our world in the making…

As the novelist and figure in anonymity, John Twelve-Hawks tells us:

NSA’s Utah data center is nestled in the low hills south of the Great Salt Lake. It’s a cluster of large, windowless buildings attached to power lines on pylons and surrounded by a barbed-wire fence and security lights. Blueprints of the site reveal that an administrative center, a dog kennel, and a building with emergency batteries and backup generators are clustered around four identical “data halls” where the information is actually stored.

The data halls are huge, box-shaped rooms with exposed ceilings. When people aren’t in the halls, the only illumination comes from the blue and yellow LEDs set in the tall racks of servers and central processing units. Brewster Kahle, one of the engineers who designed the Internet Archive for the public web, estimates that the four halls hold approximately ten thousand racks of servers. There have been various estimates that the center can store five zettabytes of information or even a yottabyte (the equivalent of five hundred quintillion pages of text). This ocean of information has to be kept cooled and connected, so the halls are chilled by a refrigerator plant that uses a water-storage tank and a pumping station.1

Even now the Global Elite and hierarchy within both governmental and corporate spheres are seeking a system that emphasizes efficiency, calculability, predictability, control, and the replacement of humans with nonhuman technology. The gathering of big data by the surveillance states and the use of analytics to make choices that change people’s lives mirror these new normative rule-sets of the machinic gods. The new system depends on nonhuman surveillance and calculations made by machines. For those in power, big data results seem more controlled and efficient.

On Google.org, the company described its big data approach:

We have found a close relationship between how many people search for flu-related topics and how many people actually have flu symptoms. Of course, not every person who searches for “flu” is actually sick, but a pattern emerges when all the flu-related search queries are added together. We compared our query counts with traditional flu surveillance systems and found that many search queries tend to be popular exactly when flu season is happening. By counting how often we see these search queries, we can estimate how much flu is circulating in different countries and regions around the world.

Much like a P.K. Dick short story our future will be policed by machines. One characteristic of the modern surveillance states is that people are going to be arrested, imprisoned, and killed based on computer-driven conclusions that the authorities won’t be able to explain. And if for some reason the wrong data has been placed in the system, it’s very difficult to challenge or change these errors. Much as in Identity Theft now, the future will look to your avatar data rather than you as a substantive embodied being for its information, and if it has been tampered, replaced, hacked the AGI’s running the show will not care on iota.

The above scenario may seem gloomy in retrospect, yet now that you are aware of it you can begin to rethink your situation in the world. Ask yourself how did we come to such a state of things? The truth is there was no plan, no secret organization behind it, no conspiracy, it is in the small accumulative details of a few hundred years of capitalism itself driving competition in towns, cities, nations, and the global commons. It was small innovations here and there that became part of other innovations and practices, and the slow transformation of society in gradual moves to govern and shape itself, and the environment around it. Some might try to say there is some dark telos behind it all, but they would be wrong. There is no dark intent, no intentional agency that has put all this into effect. No. It is the price we’ve paid for buying into a society and civilization of greed and profit. Profit has driven all the forces at work in the world today. Nothing so banal as a human was behind it all. Nor a God, only the intricate and blind forces of the market preying on humans and environment alike. We are the victims of our own success.

Yet, like some horror novel much more grandiose than an H.P. Lovecraft could ever imagine, we’ve allowed the beast of techno-commercialism to be driven by fear and terror, the need for security and persistence. The age old need to be safe, protected, and secure has driven the excess of power and force to invent devices of command and control to fight imaginary and real enemies of society. Once these were bound then the same tools have been turned back upon society itself to other more commercial ends, so that between war and peace we are enslaved to a circulatory system of profit that secures us like all other commodities within its data banks for future use.

Above all the assault on the notion of privacy has been ongoing for decades. The notion that your life is no longer a private affair, but is now completely transparent to all is seen both as a normative adjunct, but also part of this new trend toward machinic society in which everyone is digitized, stamped, traced, and recorded. Wearable devices are becoming prevalent in corporations that monitor every aspect of the bodily movement, temperature, conversations, and time-work aspects of one’s day. One is no longer free, but part of a plug-in world. Even on the drive home one is becoming more and more passive, fed into driverless cars and automated shops, banks, cafes. The human is being automatized along with her gadgets.

The Virtual Panopticon of the new surveillance states are no longer a dystopian vision but a prevalent path of the current Globalist Agenda: an interconnected system that is invisible, pervasive, automatic, and permanent. The humans who live within this system are increasingly responding to orders given to them by machines. In the future our children will no longer belong to us as private property, but to the State and it will suborn and control the education and behavior of these future children to the point that the past we share now will have been erased, vanished, expulsed. A new world of enslavement will have been assured then, because no one will remember what is and was…

The question now is: Will we continue to let this happen? What is a life that is no longer private, but is watched 24/7 by smart devices connected to a global grid? As John Twelve-Hawks reminds us:

Anyone who steps back for a minute and observes our modern digital world might conclude that we have destroyed our privacy in exchange for convenience and false security. That private world within our thoughts has been monitored, tabulated, and quantified. Our tastes, our opinions, our needs, and our desires have been packaged and sold as commodities. Those in power have pushed their need for control one step too far. They turned unique individuals into data files, and our most intimate actions have become algorithmic probabilities.

The possibility of living off the grid is near impossible for those without the wealth to do so. One cannot get far enough away from the electronic worlds anymore. Nothing is anonymous anymore unless one has the wealth to make it so. But for many of us this path is not an option, and all the protests in the world will not stop the system being put in place in incremental pieces day by day by day…

So one will have to resist in the little ways, the day to day struggles of unplugging from the world grid, seeking non-electronic refuges, places of silence and meditation, ways of teaching one’s children to remember humanity, to remember the stories told by our ancestors; to create and invent new stories without machinic gods, and governments that work for the people rather than against them. Maybe then we might begin to incrementally change the very function and structure of society not in some grandstand revolution, but in the small day by day incremental ways of being human rather than inhuman.

—The Book of Remembrance


  1. John Twelve-Hawks. Against Authority: Freedom and the Rise of the Surveillance States

Our Future / Our Past

Crash Space: The Coming Age of Machinic Intelligence

We exchanged a flurry of texts. We weren’t idiots. We knew full well the gravity of what had happened. But we also knew we had nothing to fear, and very little to cover up.

—R. Scott Bakker, Crash Space

Anyone still believing that the “blunt tool” of mass surveillance is protecting us from terrorists should read the Washington Post’s two-year investigation of “Top Secret America.” The detailed series of articles suggested that the United States’ massive surveillance system could possibly make us more vulnerable to terrorism:

“Some 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies work on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in about 10,000 locations across the United States. Analysts who make sense of documents and conversations obtained by foreign and domestic spying share their judgment by publishing 50,000 intelligence reports each year— a volume so large that many are routinely ignored. In the Department of Defense, where more than two-thirds of the intelligence programs reside, only a handful of senior officials— called Super Users— have the ability to even know about all the department’s activities. “I’m not going to live long enough to be briefed on everything” was how one Super User put it. The other (Super User) recounted that for his initial briefing, he was escorted into a tiny, dark room, seated at a small table and told he couldn’t take notes. Program after program began flashing on a screen, he said, until he yelled “Stop!” in frustration. “I wasn’t remembering any of it,” he said.

Billions of personal details about the general population, collected by computers, can overwhelm those officials looking for a particular suspect. As the New America Foundation report indicated, most terrorists are caught using “traditional investigative methods, such as the use of informants, tips from local communities, and targeted intelligence operations . . .”

In the coming years all human intelligence will become mute, AGI (Artificial General Intelligence) machinic systems and the decisions made upon such data depend will be done more “efficiently” through rule based normative functional algorithms, making matrices that will be invented by the artificial minds themselves. All surveillance and Global Security Systems will be in the hands of the AGI’s, since humans such as the SuperUser above will not have the necessary processing power to absorb, much less decide on, filter, collate, and analyze such massive Big Data as will be collected in such great Data Centers as the one being built in Utah.

We’ve entered that strange transitional age when we are as humans obsolescing our own intelligence in favor of machinic gods who will have no sense of our cultural or social value systems, only the algorithmic targeting capabilities of seek and destroy policing of the animal called man. We are building the cages of the future, and enforcing a new breed of policing agents in the frontiers of our brave new worlds of machinic being. Through our fear of terror, we are producing greater terrors. From economics to security the deep-learning algorithms and other plasticity based systems of self-transforming and feed-back systems based on endless rhizomatic loops will surpass our capabilities and move beyond our ability to control or constrain. What then?

Stephen Hawking fears it, saying: “It would take off on its own, and re-design itself at an ever increasing rate,” he said. “Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn’t compete, and would be superseded.” Tesla CEO and famous technology innovator Elon Musk has repeatedly warned about AI threats. In June, he said on CNBC that he had invested in AI research because “I like to just keep an eye on what’s going on with artificial intelligence. I think there is a potential dangerous outcome there.” He went on to invoke The Terminator. In August, he tweeted that “We need to be super careful with AI. Potentially more dangerous than nukes.” And at a recent MIT symposium, Musk dubbed AI an “existential threat” to the human race and a “demon” that foolish scientists and technologists are “summoning.” Musk likened the idea of control over such a force to the delusions of “guy[s] with a pentagram and holy water” who are sure they can control a supernatural force—until it devours them. As Musk himself suggests elsewhere in his remarks, the solution to the problem lies in sober and considered collaboration between scientists and policymakers. So much for Enlightenment? But these are the extremes, other voices say other things, and the process of making such systems seems inevitable with so many nations and corporations investing so heavily into every aspect of robotics, war machines, and AGI related systems for profit or sex or power.

Mass surveillance programs are run by machines or persons trained to act like machines. Targeted intelligence operations are run by experienced security agents who are allowed to use the knowledge gained through years of training. In the future our urban zones will become more and more integrated into smart infrastructures where the electronic eyes, ear, scent, and prosthetic appendages of sensory outlays once part of the human body will become externalized into the very objects of common everyday work around us. The systems that will shape and secure our systems of command and control within the urban workplace will be a part of a vast integrated system of artificial intelligent centers that will run everything from our basic needs to the most criminal policing enterprise the world has ever seen. It will be invisible, part of the background, so virtualized that we will not even be aware that we’ve become part of a Planetary Prison system that we ourselves built and handed over to the Great Artificial General Intelligent systems to come. To call this paranoiac is to enter into inhuman territory of mind and thought which that term was only a simplified interdiction onto the human, not the machinic.

Watching the recent craze of mobile to mobile Pokémon Go we’ve entered the moment when the virtual is seeping into our world, when men, women, and children stare into the screens of their hand held systems as if they were more real than the world around them. Even criminals have hopped on the wagon. Armed robbers used the game Pokémon Go to lure victims to an isolated trap in Missouri, police reported on Sunday. Pokémon Go warns players to keep aware of their surroundings during their virtual treasure hunt, but after only a few days since its release it has already led people into a string of bizarre incidents. People have ended up in hospitals after chasing nonexistent animals into hazardous spots, and schools, a state agency and Australian police have warned people not to break the law or endanger themselves while “Pokemoning”. The game has also led wanderers to at least one home misidentified as a church, a venue the app considers a public space.

We are so desperate to fill the gap of our meaningless world with meaning, that the virtual worlds of our electronic media are beginning to supervene onto reality and control our very bodies and behaviors. We’ve allowed the virtual to become our reality and left the old worlds of natural existence behind, and yet those world impinge upon our false realms in dangerous and untold ways. Nick Bostrom, a philosopher who directs the Future of Humanity Institute at the University of Oxford, describes the following scenario in his book Superintelligence, which has prompted a great deal of debate about the future of artificial intelligence. Bostrom believes that superintelligence could emerge, and while it could be great, he thinks it could also decide it doesn’t need humans around. Or do any number of other things that destroy the world. The title of chapter 8 is: “Is the default outcome doom?” As Paul Ford recently at MIT stated: “No one is suggesting that anything like superintelligence exists now. In fact, we still have nothing approaching a general-purpose artificial intelligence or even a clear path to how it could be achieved. Recent advances in AI, from automated assistants such as Apple’s Siri to Google’s driverless cars, also reveal the technology’s severe limitations; both can be thrown off by situations that they haven’t encountered before. Artificial neural networks can learn for themselves to recognize cats in photos. But they must be shown hundreds of thousands of examples and still end up much less accurate at spotting cats than a child.” (Our Fear of Artificial Intelligence)

Others like Rodney Brooks tell us hogwash, we have nothing to fear. Extrapolating from the state of AI today to suggest that superintelligence is looming is “comparable to seeing more efficient internal combustion engines appearing and jumping to the conclusion that warp drives are just around the corner,” Brooks wrote recently on Edge.org. “Malevolent AI” is nothing to worry about, he says, for a few hundred years at least. Yet, others like Stuart J. Russell, a professor of computer science at the University of California, Berkeley disagree with Brooks, saying: ““There are a lot of supposedly smart public intellectuals who just haven’t a clue.”  He pointed out that AI has advanced tremendously in the last decade, and that while the public might understand progress in terms of Moore’s Law (faster computers are doing more), in fact recent AI work has been fundamental, with techniques like deep learning laying the groundwork for computers that can automatically increase their understanding of the world around them.

As Ford concludes we have no technology that is remotely close to superintelligence. Then again, many of the largest corporations in the world are deeply invested in making their computers more intelligent; a true AI would give any one of these companies an unbelievable advantage. They also should be attuned to its potential downsides and figuring out how to avoid them. This somewhat more nuanced suggestion—without any claims of a looming AI-mageddon—is the basis of an open letter on the website of the Future of Life Institute, the group that got Musk’s donation. Rather than warning of existential disaster, the letter calls for more research into reaping the benefits of AI “while avoiding potential pitfalls.”

Agency: Human or Artificial?

It is not that reality entered our image: the image entered and shattered our reality (i.e. the symbolic coordinates which determine what we experience as reality). What this means is that the dialectic of semblance and Real cannot be reduced to the rather elementary fact that the virtualization of our daily lives, the experience that we are more and more living in an artificially constructed universe, gives rise to the irresistible urge to ‘return to the Real’, to regain the firm ground in some ‘real reality.’ THE REAL WHICH RETURNS HAS THE STATUS OF A(NOTHER) SEMBLANCE: precisely because it is real, i.e. on account of its traumatic/excessive character, we are unable to integrate it into (what we experience as) our reality, and are therefore compelled to experience it as a nightmarish apparition.

—Slavoj Žižek. Disparities

This sense of loss of reality and the nightmare quality of our lives in this weird world of the artificial seems to pervade every aspect of our socio-cultural lives. Our politics has turned south, gone under into a nightmare zone of strangeness across the First World. People that have sensed this nightmare surrounding them have been desperate to return to the old ways of our ancestral realms in any form or fashion. Ergo, the reason for traditionalist values and pundits on the Right of the spectrum have arisen because of this vacuum in peoples lives living in the artificial worlds of the modern urban megacities where every form of existence has become plastic and plasticity as a thought form has become all too real. Sex and Race pervade our politics now because the barriers of the fantasy worlds of the old mythologies of Monotheism no longer hold, not longer feed people what they need to give their lives meaning. We’ve been demythologizing and leaving these ancient systems behind for a few hundred years. Yet, in small pockets they  hold on fiercely and adamantly in certain traditionalist camps.

Catherine Malabou explains in Plasticity at the Dusk of Writing, the concept of plasticity, whose scope and stakes are firmly inscribed in those of our era, has overtaken the schemas of text and the trace. Plasticity “takes over” and “becomes the resistance of difference to its textual reduction.” In The New Wounded: From Neurosis to Brain Damage, Malabou expands her reflection to cerebral pathologies, particularly Alzheimer’s disease. She hosts a dialog between philosophy, psychoanalysis and contemporary neurology, offering to demonstrate how cerebral organization presides over a libidinal economy in current psychopathologies. She also proposes a new theory of trauma and defends the hypothesis of destructive plasticity. In her latest book, Self and Emotional Life, Philosophy, Psychoanalysis, and Neuroscience, written with Adrian Johnston, Malabou continues her exquisite crossing of disciplines, this time in order to explore the concept of wonder.

Without using all the jargon of postmodern shibboleths neuroplasticity in brain and mind is a term that refers to the brain’s ability to change and adapt as a result of experience. When people say that the brain possesses plasticity, they are not suggesting that the brain is similar to plastic. Neuro represents neurons, the nerve cells that are the building blocks of the brain and nervous system, and plasticity refers to the brain’s malleability. There’s both a functional and structural aspect to this neuroplasticity, one which allows other parts of the brain to take over the functions of diseased or traumatized areas (functional); and, the other (structural) refers to the brain’s ability to actually change its physical structure as a result of learning.

Our notions of agency have over the years changed, and the notions of Subject and Self have come under great scrutiny in philosophy and neurosciences. N. Katherine Hayles once suggested that if on the one hand humans are like machines, whether figured as cellular automata or Turing machines, then agency cannot be securely located in the conscious mind. If on the other hand machines are like biological organisms, then they must possess the effects of agency even though they are not conscious. In these reconfigurations, desire and language, both intimately connected with agency, are understood in new ways. Acting as a free-floating agent, desire is nevertheless anchored in mechanistic operations, a suggestion Guattari makes in “Machinic Heterogenesis.” Language, emerging from the operations of the unconscious figured as a Turing machine, creates expressions of desire that in their origin are always already interpenetrated by the mechanistic, no matter how human they seem. Finally, if desire and the agency springing from it are at bottom nothing more than performance of binary code, then computers can have agency fully as authentic as humans. Through these reconfigurations, Deleuze, Guattari, and Lacan use automata to challenge human agency and in the process represent automata as agents.1

If our binary and / or algorithmic systems can already be thought to have agency, what of the more advanced AGI’s that even in their primitive beginnings during our experimental age are already surpassing human intelligence? Many guffaw such surpassing of the human as wishful thinking, as imposing upon the machinic world of things our anthropomorphic thought forms. But is this so? Are we not actually following the trajectory of two thousand years of technics and technology that has always gone hand in hand with human culture and civilization? Isn’t there always a sense of a two-way interactive oscillation between human agency and its creations? Isn’t this dialectical interplay between machine and human always already been a part of the human instrumentalism that was to eventually be termed science?  Our elite pundits have tried to spin a story that the Enlightenment was an aberration, that instrumental reason was no more than culturally bound entity, and that it too would be sloughed off for something else. What is this something else if not the AGI’s we are now inventing out of necessity at our own unsurmountable finitude? Building such superintelligences because our own abilities as creatures of finitude and limitation cannot surpass certain barriers due to evolutionary bindings? Because we have created such a desperate need for decomplexifying the data of our world in all its multifarious complexity?

The notion of Agency and Subject developed by Deleuze, Guattari, and Lacan, is a subject in which consciousness, far from being the seat of agency, is left to speculate on why she acts as she does. She is increasingly aware that the origin of agency lies beyond the reach of consciousness, enacted by a computational program that is ultimately controlled by the external agent that has programmed the code to operate as it does. Even at this deep level the ambiguity of agency continues, for program is perceived to act both as an agent on its own behalf and as the surrogate for the will of the human. The ambiguity is repeated within consciousness, where she perceives herself to be exercising agency in the margins, as it were, the grey areas where the objectives of code might be implemented in ambiguous ways. In these complex reconfigurations of agency, the significance of envisioning the unconscious as a program rather than as a dark mirror of consciousness can scarcely be overstated, for it locates the hidden springs of action in the brute machinic operations of code. In this view, such visions of the unconscious as Freud’s repressed Oedipal conflicts or Jung’s collective archetypes seem hopelessly anthropomorphic, for they populate the unconscious with ideas comfortingly familiar to consciousness rather than the much more alien operations of machinic code. (43)

Blindness and Insight: Beyond the Hum of Machines?

Antonio Damasio, argue that body and mind are inextricably linked through multiple recursive feedback loops mediated by neurotransmitters, systems that have no physical analogues in computers. Damasio makes the point that these messages also provide content for the mind, especially emotions and feelings: “relative to the brain, the body provides more than mere support and modulation: it provides a basic topic for brain representations” (xvii). As Hayles tells us ”

The central question … is no longer how we as rational creatures should act in full possession of free will and untrammeled agency. Rather, the issue is how consciousness evolves from and interacts with the underlying programs that operate analogously to the operations of code. Whether conceived as literal mechanism or instructive analogy, coding technology thus becomes central to understanding the human condition. (44)

That great atheist dialectical materialist, Slavoj Zizek in his recent work Disparities will humor us saying that “Einstein was right with his famous claim ‘God doesn’t cheat’ – what he forgot to add is that god himself can be cheated. Insofar as the materialist thesis is that ‘God is unconscious’ (God doesn’t know), quantum physics effectively is materialist: there are microprocesses (quantum oscillations) which are not registered by the God-system. And insofar as God is one of the names of the big Other, we can see in what sense one cannot simply get rid of god (big Other) and develop an ontology without big Other: god is an illusion, but a necessary one.”2

Can we say that this necessary illusion is central to our quest to build the God Mind in our AGI’s? Are we not in fact and deed actually trying to create a god? Isn’t this truly at the heart of the artificial intelligent holy grail quest? To become machinic, to enter into the transitional stage of superintelligence, make our own pact with the impossible? For Zizek we have never been human, we’ve always been in transitional movement, that humans are in themselves absolutely nothing, without any fixed agency or stable self, that nothing pre-exists our being in the world, and that the notion of Subject is of movement toward something else. For Zizek we live in-between the Subject which is nothing in itself, and the world that we do not have direct access too. There is a crack in the world between us and reality, and all of our grand tales, our visions, our fantasies are ways in which we seek to bridge the gap between ourselves and reality. Yet, time after time our bridges built out of mathematics or language cannot bridge the gap so we build even more fantastic schemes:

This is why, from the strict Freudian standpoint, fantasy is on the side of reality, it sustains the subject’s ‘sense of reality’: when the fantasmatic frame disintegrates, the subject undergoes a ‘loss of reality’ and starts to perceive reality as an ‘irreal’ nightmarish universe with no firm ontological foundation; this nightmarish universe – the Lacanian Real – is not ‘pure fantasy’ but, on the contrary, that which remains of reality after reality is deprived of its support in fantasy.(Kindle Locations 285-288)

So once our human illusions, our fantasies are stripped from the world, what is left is the bottomless pit of nightmare —the Universe of machinic life. The endless sea of process and chaos churning on and on and on…

Reality is impenetrable not just because it transcends the constrained horizon of finite human being but also because we humans are unable to control and predict the effects on our own activity on our natural environs. Therein resides the paradox of anthropocene: humanity became aware of its self-limitation as a species precisely when it became so strong that it influenced the balance of the entire life on earth. It was able to dream of being a Subject until its influence on nature (earth) was marginal, that is, against the background of stable nature. The paradox is thus that the more the reproduction of nature is human mediated, the more humanity becomes a ‘decentred’ agent unable to regulate the process of its exchange with nonhuman nature. This is why it is not enough to insist on the nontransparency of objects, on how objects have a hidden core withdrawn from human reach: what is withdrawn is not just the hidden side of objects but above all the true dimension of the subject’s activity. The true excess is not the excess of objectivity which eludes the subject’s grasp but the excess of the subject itself, that is to say, what eludes the subject is the ‘blind spot’, the point at which it is itself inscribed into reality.3

My friend R. Scott Bakker calls this ‘blind spot’ of the Subject our inability to turn back upon ourselves and view the very processes that create consciousness —the Brain. We have no direct path toward reality, nor upon our own processes. We are blind to both reality and ourselves. Bakker defines a crash space as “a problem solving domain where our tools seem to fit the description, but cannot seem to get the job done” (p. 203). Bakker argues, plausibly, that the cognitive and emotional structures that give meaning to our lives and constrain us ethically can be expected to work only in a limited range of environments — roughly, environments similar in their basic structure to those in our evolutionary and cultural history. Break far enough away, and our ancestrally familiar approaches will cease to function effectively. As Bakker reminds us:

Herein lies the ecological rub. The reliability of our heuristic cues utterly depends on the stability of the systems involved. Anyone who has witnessed psychotic episodes has firsthand experience of consequences of finding themselves with no reliable connection to the hidden systems involved. Any time our heuristic systems are miscued, we very quickly find ourselves in ‘crash space,’ a problem solving domain where our tools seem to fit the description, but cannot seem to get the job done. (21)

We are living in such a domain now. We have for a few hundred years moved from our ancient heritage of Hunter/Gatherers, Agriculturalists, and emerged into a new realm both artificial and outside the confines of the natural world environments that were our base and support for millennia. Our philosophies, religions, cultural forms, our mythologies and even our instrumental reasoning powers – both cunning and rational, are no longer bound to the natural earth and environs, but rather have become unmoored within realms unforeseeable by our ancient systems of constraint and reason, our modern civilization. We’ve entered the Crash Space of Modernity in transition and our fantasies that have partially filled the gap of meaning have fallen into fragments and disarray across the planet. Our modern lives in this artificial world or urban cities, mobile to mobiles, electronic virtual realities, etc. has overtaking our ancient ties to the jungles and swamps of our ancient ancestry. Our minds have become unhinged from the natural environments, and have yet to make new ties to the urban zones of our future lives in artificial worlds.

And now we’re set to begin engineering our brains in earnest. Engineering environments has the effect of transforming the ancestral context of our cognitive capacities, changing the structure of the problems to be solved such that we gradually accumulate local crash spaces, domains where our intuitions have become maladaptive. Everything from irrational fears to the ‘modern malaise’ comes to mind here. Engineering ourselves, on the other hand, has the effect of transforming our relationship to all contexts, in ways large or small, simultaneously. It very well could be the case that something as apparently innocuous as the mass ability to wipe painful memories will precipitate our destruction. Who knows? The only thing we can say in advance is that it will be globally disruptive somehow, as will every other ‘improvement’ that finds its way to market. ( Bakker, 22)

I remember back in the seventies at university my English teacher (we still had an English Department back then! long before humanities) once said that Science Fiction was the mythology of our Age of Reason and Modernity. I still believe that is true. We are in the thousands of fictional scenarios of science fiction inventing a path forward, creating stories and tales that seek to understand and immerse us not in the past, not in character studies of Novels, but in the tools necessary to help us move steadily, calmly, and with reasoning awareness into the most impossible region of all —the Future.

As we move forward we realize we are not alone, that around us is a great host of stars, planets, galaxies unbound. The only thing stopping us from change and developing viable paths in cultural, social, politics and life is our own defective and maladaptive minds, blinded by our own immersion in these processes we have no control over and yet control us in ways beyond telling. We live by fantasy, we always have… we create meaning not out of blindly stripping reality of our minds, but by weaving meaningful fantasies based on our awakening to the new and unbidden. Only when we allow our fantasies to rule over us, to suborn us and enslave us as in ancient thought of religious and socio-cultural systems of power and knowledge that weave us into their larger frameworks like so many insectoids to do the bidding of the few rather than the many do we begin to lose sight of the power of mind and its place in the universe at large. As Bakker ominously surmises “Human cognition is about to be tested by an unparalleled age of ‘habitat destruction.’ The more we change ourselves, the more we change the nature of the job, the less reliable our ancestral tools become, the deeper we wade into crash space.” (22)


  1. Swirski, Peter. The Art and Science of Stanislaw Lem (pp. 28-29). Ingram Distribution. Kindle Edition.
  2. Slavoj Žižek. Disparities (Kindle Locations 1086-1090). Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition.
  3. ibid. (Kindle Locations 721-729).

Christopher Slatsky, Alectryomancer and Other Weird Tales

Christopher Slatsky, Alectryomancer and Other Weird Tales

Been hearing about Slatsky for a while now, and downloaded his debut collection today! Glad I did, he’s got the dark touch on him, the one that tells you this is the real McCoy. 518wrnjce4lDark, gritty, atmospheric – suspenseful: his little jeweled nightmares remind me of those old collectors of curiosities one finds rarely except by accident, and usually in some off-beat district of an out of the way town or village; down some dank wet alley cobbled with slime and gunk, moldy, black, dense with years of detritus; hidden behind some dilapidated trash bin or piled mass of rusting and decaying poultry, fish, or fruit – pus laden lushness, corroding in the some forgotten corner of a lost world; where – the door  – and, not just any door, but the door: the one meant only for you, marked with your name, the one only you can open if you dare, with its small ill-lit lamp above wired faulty, blinking, glimmering in some eternal twilight or dusk; a sign just above the door, with most of the letters missing, hinting at treasures and rarities beyond your wildest imaginings if only you’ll step this way, step inside, visit the last place on earth you’d like to be right now; and, yet, there it is – in the windows: these unique little nightmare curiosities, the intricate and detailed realms of some deformed nightmare world, the morbidity of forgotten galaxies, toxic wastelands of hellish desire and craftsmanship, universes of constructed horror filled with infinite passageways into endless labyrinths of perversity. A horror collectors best nightmare come true…

Slatsky’s tales inhabit that dark space, deliver the goods you relish, a ghoulish festival of aberrant delights that should let your night be broken and twisted till you crave reprieve from such demented realms and secret mindless miseries. Over the top? Hyperbolical? Am I shitting? No, its actually that good. If you crave atmosphere, if you like the visceral slime-pit of the grotesque and the macabre, a waltz into the scatological worlds of decay and organic demise this is your guy. He doesn’t pull any punches, and he weaves tales that are neither pastiche nor a silent send off to the great masters of the past, but rather let’s those influences – and, remember influence was once a term of astrological import of letting in the star power of dark light mingle with your own – then this is the book of weird tales for you. I say run, do not walk – let your big fat fingers outpace themselves – to your nearest online retailer and get a copy today. Now! Don’t wait!

I’ll probably have more to say after I allow myself time to absorb these nightmares into my own curiosity cabinet. Another time, another day…

Visit Christopher Slatsky at his site: here. Find his book here: Alectryomancer and Other Weird Tales

The Tales:

Loveliness Like a Shadow
An Infestation of Stars
Corporautolysis
No One is Sleeping in this World
Making Snakes
The Ocean is Eating Our Graves
This Fragmented Body
Tellurian Façade
Film Maudit
A Plague of Naked Movie Stars
Scarcely Have They Been Planted
Intaglios
Alectryomancer

The Folds of Horror: Notes on Ligotti, Lovecraft, and Philosophy

Unimaginable-Surreal-Artworks

I began this set of notes to bring in a specific philosophical concept (“Fold”) that struck me as pertinent in my recent reading of Thomas Ligotti’s book The Conspiracy against the Human Race. Thomas Ligotti in a side note speaking of Lovecraft’s model of the supernatural horror tale, which he portrayed in its archetypal form in the short story, “The Music of Erich Zann”, commented:

In composing the … work, Lovecraft came up with a model supernatural horror tale, one in which a subjective mind and an objective monstrosity shade into each other, the one projecting itself outward and the other reflecting back so that together they form the perfect couple dancing to the uncanny music of being.1 [italics mine]

When I read this passage I was struck by it’s uncanny resemblance to two notions of import I’ve read in the past few years. One referencing Deleuze’s notions surrounding the concept of the “Fold” in his work on Leibniz and the Baroque; and, the other concerning the notions of how objects relate to one another in Graham Harman’s Weird Realism. If in the passage above by Ligotti we replace “shade into each other” with “fold into each other” we begin to connect both Deleuze’s notion of fold with Harman’s notion of the objects relating through a third object of which they form and fold into one another. I’ll address a couple quotes from Harman, then move on to Deleuze’s work. Admittedly for Harman it’s about ontology in the real as it folds things into itself or is folded into the other; and, for Deleuze the fold is about the sensual epistemic and pervasive folds as the eye follows the surfaces through their becomings.

Graham Harman in Guerrilla Metaphysics tells us that the theory of objects “exists not just at some ultimate pampered layer, but all the way up and down the ladder of the cosmos, so that all realities gain the dignity of objects”. He continues, saying,

Objects have surprises in store as well: lemon meringue, popsicles, Ajax Amsterdam, reggae bands, grains of sand. Each of these things remains a unitary substance beyond its impact on others—and obviously, none of them is an ultimate tiny particle of matter from which all else is built. They are not ultimate materials, but autonomous forms, forms somehow coiled up or folded in the crevices of the world and exerting their power on all that approaches them. This is my definition of substance, a term well worth salvaging: an object or substance is a real thing considered apart from any of its relations with other such things.2 Commenting on Merleau Ponty he’ll also mention that to “have a body is already to be folded into the things rather than to stand at a distance from them: “the thickness of the body . . . [is] the sole means I have to go unto the heart of the things, by making myself a world and by making them flesh.” (GM, 53) [my italics]

I’ll leave this here and move on to Deleuze’s work.

From the Translator’s forward to Gilles Deleuze’s Fold: Leibniz and the Baroque we learn:

Focillon notes that the Romanesque and Gothic, two dominant and contrastive styles, often inflect each other. They crisscross and sometimes fold vastly different sensibilities into each other. The historian is obliged to investigate how the two worlds work through each other at different speeds and. in tum. how they chart various trajectories on the surface of the European continent. … The experience of the Baroque entails that of the fold. Leibniz is the first great philosopher and mathematician of the pleat, of curves and twisting surfaces. He rethinks the phenomenon of “point of view,” of perspective, of conic sections. and of things. folded are draperies. tresses. tesselated fabrics, ornate costumes: dermal surfaces of the body that unfold in the embryo and crease themselves at death; domestic architecture that bends upper and lower levels together while floating in the cosmos; novels narratives or develop infinite possibilities of serial form; harmonics that orchestrate vastly different rhythms and tempos; philosophies that resolve Cartesian distinctions of mind and body through physical means – without recourse to occasionalism or parallelismgrasped as foldings; styles and iconographies of painting that hide shapely figures in ruffles and billows of fabric. or that lead the eye to confuse different orders of space and surface.

 The key here strangely is not just the concept of the fold but rather the notion of causality as referenced in “without recourse to occasionalism and parallelism”. I’ll deal with this later. I still need to reread this work by Deleuze again and take notes…

Before I go any further I want to reference a post by Levi R. Bryant of Larval Subjects whose work of recent has taken him away from Object-Oriented philosophy and towards the notion of the “fold” as well. In a post in which he describes to his Barber the notion of the fold he has a discussion about bricks, saying,

Me:  A brick is a form of origami, like a crumpled piece of paper.

B:  Say what?

Me:  It folds the forces of the cosmos into it, invaginates them.  It folds the pressure of the other bricks about it into it, if it has lots of iron it folds the oxygen into it giving it that red color, it folds gravity and temperature in it, becoming brittle when it’s cold and molten when very hot.  Sound, light, pressures, air, all of these things are folded into it and it unfolds these things in the unique event that it is according to the structure that it has.  This conversation that we’re having, see those bricks over there on the wall?  The timber of the sound of our voices, the acoustics of this room, is an origami of our voices and those bricks.  Our voices have folded the bricks into themselves and unfolded it in a new vibration of sound.  Everything is a fold or folding, both individual and continuous with what it folds.

It might be better– I haven’t decided yet –to say that everything is a wave.  A wave is continuous with the water in which it occurs, yet distinct.  It both folds the currents of wind and water into itself and unfolds them in a rolling pattern across a plane.  It both arises from that plane but is distinct from it and changes it.  The dreams you told me about earlier are now a wave in me, folded into me, becoming something other yet remaining those dreams.

B:  [The scissors pause, stunned silence]  That’s so cool, man!  [He looks at his scissors and about the room]  It’s like everything is digesting everything else.  These walls have the past, music history [they’re covered with music posters], all these conversations and happenings folded into them.  That’s so cool, man.  Wow.

When the Barber said, it’s “like everything is digesting everything else” I almost croaked: this very notion that the universe is itself nothing but appetite, a great machinic feeding and ingesting machine, churning, grinding, folding, eating, regurgitating, etc. seemed more like one of Jonathan Swift’s satires; and, yet, much of the cosmic horror is of just that sense of a Darwinian blood and claw, predatorial universe of pure appetitive energy – and endless festival of death, the grotesque, and the macabre. Along with the notion or concept of fold one should bring in the sense of absorption, too.

In his work on Kabbalah, Absorbing Perfections, Moshe Idel in relating how texts and objects absorb each other we discover the absorbing quality of Shakespeare or of Joyce. Strong authors, like sacred texts, can be defined as those with the capacity to absorb us. To “absorb,” in American English, means several related processes: to take something in as through the pores, or to engross one’s full interest or attention, or to assimilate fully. Idel defines his use of “absorbing” as follows:

I use this term in order to convey the expanding comprehensiveness of the concept of the text of kabbalah or torah which, moving to the center of the Jewish society, also integrated attributes reminiscent of wider entities like the world or God. This expansion facilitated the attribution of more dynamic qualities to the text conceived of as capable of allowing various types of influences on processes taking place in the world, in God, and in the human psyche.3

In this he is conceiving his text as influencing what takes place in the world and in the human psyche (i.e., extrinsic and intrinsic relations), and even in God, if there is God. Shakespeare, like the Bible or Dante or the Zohar, absorbs us even as we absorb him, or them. Historicizing Hamlet or Lear breaks down very quickly: they themselves are the perfections that absorb us all.

This notion of being absorbed even as we absorb is a different twist on the old Gnostic notion or insight of knowing even as we are known which entails not a mental but appetitive act of intellect that both projects and introjects without dissolving the other, but rather as in digesting, mulching, thinking through and absorbing the sparks or vagrant fugitive thoughts – as substantive rather than immaterial – of the other, and making them part of one’s physical as well as mental being. One can imagine how this might play out in a supernatural horror scenario. One can as well think of the origins of life, cellular life of the membrane: the early introjection/projection of substance interactions that shaped the autonomy of a form necessary to both absorb and be absorbed; absorbing sustenance and nutrients, as well as expulsing them as byproducts to be absorbed by another substance. An endless mulching and scatological defecation is life at its raw minimal. One thinks of books like Nick Lane. The Vital Question: Why Is Life the Way It Is?; or, Johnjoe McFadden. Life on the Edge; or, David Toomey,  Weird Life: The Search for Life That Is Very, Very Different from Our Own… and many others.

mv5bmtiwotaymdc1ml5bml5banbnxkftztywmduzmtq5__v1_

Such notions of absorption and folding make me think of a film from my childhood, The Blob, with Steve McQueen. The plot of this film depicts a growing corrosive alien amoeba that crashes from outer space in a meteorite and engulfs, absorbs, and folds in, and dissolves citizens in the small community of Downingtown, Pennsylvania. But before I get away with myself let’s hone back in on Levi’s post: the key here is when Levi says: “Everything is a fold or folding, both individual and continuous with what it folds.” That brings me by circuitous route back to Ligotti’s statement on Lovecraft’s model of supernatural horror as the shading or folding into each other producing this coupling of both in a dance of being; yet, not dissolving or fusing them together where their unique and unitary forms or substance is compromised beyond repair, but rather as a dark gnosis in which they both form a relation to each other that is itself a new (non?)knowledge of things and each other; or, a folding or absorbing or non-knowing even as folded, absorbed, non-known (i.e., think of Bataille’s System of Non-Knowledge rather than Laurelle’s concept), etc.. This sense of horror as the overcoming of fear through ecstatic enmeshing and folding between the known (subject) and the unknown (object); or, even object to object relations, is the central motif of Lovecraftian model of horror: or, as I want to term it after Eugene Thacker, model of abstract horror – a horror of ideas/concepts beyond the emotive drag of terror and fear; or, rather the end point or telos of which fear is the active defense measure of the body’s protective systems, and the abstract as thought’s resistance to the force or drag of the body’s own counter-measures – a way of overcoming the basic reactions of flight or death.

I’ll stop for now… I need to begin a new research project to trace this down, dig deeper into the notion of the fold, and develop this connection or disconnection between the various philosophies and notions of how it applies to the model of horror – or, even to philosophy as horror (Thacker/Land).

Things to research:

  1. The theme of fold itself across various philosophers, histories, usage, domains, etc.
  2. Absorption and its history and uses in various critical and scientific forms, etc.
  3. The notions of causality: fold vs. occasionalism/parallelism
  4. Further research on the model of horror (reread Lovecraft’s works and his book length Supernatural Horror), and Ligotti’s texts, Deleuze’s The Fold, and works of other philosophers…

  1. Ligotti, Thomas. The Conspiracy against the Human Race: A Contrivance of Horror (p. 210). Hippocampus Press. Kindle Edition.
  2. Harman, Graham. Guerrilla Metaphysics: Phenomenology and the Carpentry of Things (p. 19). Open Court. Kindle Edition.
  3. Professor Moshe Idel. Absorbing Perfections: Kabbalah and Interpretation (pp. xiii-xiv). Yale University Press (June 10, 2002)

 

 

 

 

The Dark Gnosis of our Malignant Uselessness

I’ve often wondered if there is a dark gnosis (and, there might be!), a gnosis that disavowed the a-cosmic generalities of the ancient Gnostics, or the apophatic disquietism of the desert monks; that was closer to the erotic and sadeian art of immersion in the sacral and scabrous art of murder and mayhem; a forbidden knowledge – or should we say, non-knowledge (Bataillean rather than Laruelleian) of the seeping malignancy at the core of things and the Universe: the blind and insipid processes that creeps into every aspect of time and space – there being no extreme elsewhere, no beyond, no transcendent realm outside these gyrating processes; and, to know and be known by this insanity of things: the violent and ecstatic terror of its catastrophic unknowing systems of endless churning and scatological inebriation; this thermospasmic mindlessness of nothing and emptiness: this, and this alone would be the intimate corruption my being has sought against all that is sunny and optimistic, and kept me tied to the world of life and all those secret sharers of this “malignant uselessness” (Ligotti).

In the The Conspiracy against the Human Race: A Contrivance of Horror Thomas Ligotti remarks:

Phenomenally speaking, the supernatural may be regarded as the metaphysical counterpart of insanity, a transcendental correlative of a mind that has been driven mad. This mind does not keep a chronicle of “man’s inhumanity to man” but instead tracks a dysphoria symptomatic of our life as transients in a creation that is natural for all else that lives, but for us is anything but. The most uncanny of creaturely traits, the sense of the supernatural, the impression of a fatal estrangement from the visible, is dependent on our consciousness, which merges the outward and the inward into a universal comedy without laughter. We are only chance visitants to this jungle of blind mutations. The natural world existed when we did not, and it will continue to exist long after we are gone. The supernatural crept into life only when the door of consciousness was opened in our heads. The moment we stepped through that door, we walked out on nature. Say what we will about it and deny it till we die— we are blighted by our knowing what is too much to know and too secret to tell one another if we are to stride along our streets, work at our jobs, and sleep in our beds. It is the knowledge of a race of beings that is only passing through this shoddy cosmos.1


  1.  Ligotti, Thomas. The Conspiracy against the Human Race: A Contrivance of Horror (pp. 211-212). Hippocampus Press. Kindle Edition.

 

THE SECRET OF VENTRILOQUISM by Jon Padgett

the_secret_of_ventriloquism_by_jon_padgett

For those of you that don’t know Jon Padgett, he’s the progenitor of Thomas Ligotti Online a public forum for all those fans of that dark light of the grotesque and macabre, horror and weirdness. Jon a one time ventriloquist who now lives in New Orleans with his spouse, their daughter, and two cats,  has been the first publisher for a number of Ligotti’s prose works, including My Work is Not Yet Done and Crampton. His first short story collection,  The Secret of Ventriloquism  with Introduction by Thomas Ligotti, is also forthcoming – very shortly, and you can pre-order it: here at Dynatox Ministries – or from Dunhams Manor Press, May 2016. Jon was once asked how he’d become involved with Dunhams and Dynatox Ministries:

I had heard about the excellent and unusual weird fiction published by Dunhams Manor Press for the past couple of years from such superb writers as Nicole Cushing, Clint Smith, Michael Griffin, Christopher Slatsky, Willum Pugmire, Jayaprakash Sathyamurthy, Joe Pulver and John Claude Smith among others.

How did I become associated with the press? I simply wandered onto the DMP website and queried editor Jordan Krall by email (or web form — I forget). Krall quickly replied that he’d be interested in reading my work, I sent several tales to him, and soon he accepted and offered to publish my long story, THE INFUSORIUM, as a chapbook.

As Matt Cardin tells us on Teeming Brain, another excellent site to wander through for those of the weirdness (a term I use to invoke the uncertainty between the marvelous and the uncanny, yet with a slightly more pessimistic blend of speculative insouciance), Jon’s new book of short stores and essays The Secret of Ventriloquism will keep you up at nights wanting more:

With themes reminiscent of Shirley Jackson, Thomas Ligotti, and Bruno Shulz, but with a strikingly unique vision, Jon Padgett’s The Secret of Ventriloquism heralds the arrival of a significant new literary talent. Padgett’s work explores the mystery of human suffering, the agony of personal existence, and the ghastly means by which someone might achieve salvation from both. A bullied child who seeks vengeance within a bed’s hollow box spring; a lucid dreamer haunted by an impossible house; a dummy that reveals its own anatomy in 20 simple steps; a stuttering librarian who holds the key to a mill town’s unspeakable secrets; a commuter whose worldview is shattered by two words printed on a cardboard sign; an aspiring ventriloquist who spends a little too much time looking at himself in a mirror. And the presence that speaks through them all.

CONTENTS:

  • Introduction by Matt Cardin
  • The Mindfulness of Horror Practice
  • Murmurs of a Voice Foreknown
  • The Indoor Swamp
  • Origami Dreams
  • 20 Simple Steps to Ventriloquism
  • Infusorium
  • Organ Void
  • The Secret of Ventriloquism

 

Pre-Order Jon’s work The Secret of Ventriloquism