Hyperstition on Weird Studies: Episode 36

An interesting take on Hyperstition on Weird Studies episode 36. Like David Roden, I, too, think one must discern a deeper understanding of such notions from their all to easily trapped sense of teleological hybrids. Land’s work has a tendency to see some abstract agency from the future as enacting and intervening in history to promote its own agendas. Whereas I think just the opposite: it’s humans who have invented, created, and maintained various fictions-as-worldviews (i.e., the example of religion-as-fiction using the Book: whether as Torah, Bible, Koran; or, the various works of Indic, Chinese, or a myriad of other cultures.. to maintain and promote or influence people over time, etc. through priestly social control mechanisms). But one needs a greater clarification and wider historical survey of religious and magical praxis and theory, and it’s continued interventions in secular canons. Either way the below is an interesting conversation, grist for the mill…

About this Episode

Hyperstition is a key concept in the philosophy of Nick Land. It refers to fictions which, given enough time and libidinal investment, become realities. JF and Phil explore the notion using one of those optometric apparatuses with multiple lenses — deleuzian, magical, mythological, political, ethical, etc. The goal isn’t to understand how fictions participate in reality (that’ll have to wait for another episode), but to ponder what this implies for a sapient species. The conversation weaves together such varied topics as Twin Peaks: The Return, Internet meme magic (Trump as tulpa!), Deleuze and Guattari’s metaphysics, occult experiments in spirit creation, the Brothers Grimm, and the phantasmic overtones of The Communist Manifesto. In the end we can only say, “What a load of bullsh*t!”


JF’s notes on Deleuze and Guattari’s concept of the refrain
Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus
David Lynch (director), Twin Peaks: The Return
Phil Ford, “Garmonbozia” (work in progress, unpublished)
Delphi Carstens, “Hyperstition
Delphi Carstens, “Hyperstition: An Introduction” (2009 interview with Nick Land)
Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene
CCRU Archives
The occult concept of the egregore
William Irwin Thompson, Imaginary Landscape: Making Worlds of Myth and Science
Martin Heidegger, Being and Time
Alan Chapman and Duncan Barford, The Blood of the Saints
A. T. L. Carver, “The Truth About Pepe the Frog and the Cult of Kek
Paul Spencer, “Trump’s Occult Online Supporters Believer ‘Meme Magic’ Got Him Elected
Colm A. Kelleher, The Hunt for the Skinwalker: Science Confronts the Unexplained at a Remote Ranch in Utah
Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto
G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy
Sun Ra, Space is the Place

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.

Short History of Necropunk Philosophy

A Short History of Necropunk Philosophy

Decided to move this from my last post on my work-in-progress Savage Nights.

Thinking of Capitalism as a necropunk invasion from the future, driven by death-drives, cannibalizing through crisis, collapse, catastrophe is at the core of what Bataille and Nick Land after him would term “base materialism” converging on the closure of history into a posthuman future. Or, what my friend Scott Bakker would term the ‘crash space’ of the Semantic Apocalypse.

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Chronicles of the High Inquest by S.P. Somtow

Working a new near future Grunge or Necropunk Noir Science Fiction I began collecting information regarding past uses of this notion. For me the master stylist of this genre remains Richard Calder with his Dead Girls/Dead Boys/Dead Things trilogy. (see review) He lived in Thailand 1990-1996 and later in the Philippines until returning to London in the first years of this century – who began publishing sf with “Toxine” in Interzone. Yet, there is also S.P. Somtow whose works may or may not have influenced Calder’s fusion of decodence, decadence, and necrotical politics and socio-cultural inflections, yet have at their bases the necropunk style and philosophy that seems to infect, contaminate, and corrupt this genre through its hyperstitional, memetic, and egregore enactments and disclosures of the was in which the future infects and bleeds into the past through slippage.

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Srnicek and Williams: A Postcapitalist Future

What can, then, today be the function of so ambiguous an entity as Utopia, if not as a forecast of political and empirical possibilities?  Can this function also be sought and identified formally without adducting this or that local content? … Utopias are also very much wish-fulfillments, and hallucinatory visions in desperate times.
…….– Fredric Jameson, Archaeologies of the Future

We do live in desperate times, and few and far between have men or women seen more change for the worse than in our world today. What to do? Where to turn when leaders of nations have sold us out to the economic overlords of globalism? Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams in Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work offer us a glimpse of what they term the future of a post-neoliberal world: using ‘folk politics’, they offer a diagnosis of how and why we lost the capacity to build a better future.1 Against the bunker mentality and retrenchment of outworn micro-politics, anti-capitalist rhetoric, and failed Occupy movements across the world they believe we must envision a new post-capitalist future drawing from the “utopian potentials inherent in twenty-first-century technology” that cannot remain bound to a “parochial capitalist imagination; they must be liberated by an ambitious left alternative” (IF, KL 87-88).

But what is this alternative? After 2007 many believe Neoliberalism and the economics it spawned were collapsing, but not in 2016 we see that global capitalism is as strong as ever. In fact that it has instituted forms of austerity, and governance on a global scale unseen before in history. How does the Left believe it can offer any alternative to such imperialism? In fact in their first chapter they admit we are in bad straits, the world sinking fast under austerity and capitalist programs that divide and conquer everywhere, and leave nothing but despair and destitution in its wake all for the profiteers of a small .01% of the World population. An Oligarchy of financiers, stock-brokers, and entrepreneurs who hold the monetary funds on nations in their grips. As they admit “failure permeates this cycle of struggles, and as a result, many of the tactics on the contemporary left have taken on a ritualistic nature, laden with a heavy dose of fatalism” (IF, KL 103-105).

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