The Necrophilic Vision of J.G. Ballard

For Vaughan the car-crash and his own sexuality had made their final marriage. … During his studied courtship of injured women, Vaughan was obsessed with the buboes of gas bacillus infections, by facial injuries and genital wounds.

—J. G. Ballard, Crash: A Novel

In The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness (1973) Erich Fromm argues that ‘contemporary industrial man’ is necrophiliac in that any genuine interest in people, nature and ‘living structures’ has been suppressed, in favour of an attraction to ‘mechanical, nonalive artifacts’.1  Fromm includes the pride taken in cars, the obsession with taking photographs (especially when on holiday) and the liking for gadgets (today, he would no doubt include mobile phones, personal computers and other electronic equipment in this category) as symptomatic of the necrophiliac character of modern humanity, fixated as it is on what Sebald terms ‘dead objects’.

In The Origin of German Tragic Drama (1928), Walter Benjamin places the corpse at the heart of his theorization of baroque allegory; in the 1930s, he proceeds to identify the allegorical as Baudelaire’s primary mode; and, in his later work towards the uncompleted Arcades Project, he presents the fetishism of mid- nineteenth- century capitalism as essentially necrophiliac in nature.2

Another thinker of the era Georges Bataille in such works as Erotism: Death and Sensuality would present the case that all forms of eroticism can only be understood in terms of a relation to death, Bataille identifies necrophilia as the underlying principle of all genuinely erotic experience.3 Which according to one critic would signal in our late capitalist era a diminishing of the experience of sovereign heterogeneity, and the coming to dominance of a servile, accumulative, homogeneous culture, so his privileging of necrophilia is a deliberate attempt to achieve cultural renewal through a valorization of precisely that form of the erotic which sexology considered to be both the most extreme and the most unacceptable… (Schaffner, p. 173).

For Bataille arguing against an entire tradition of psychoanalytical literature would admit that it is not the use of reason that distinguishes the human from the non- human animal, but rather, alongside work, ‘the repugnance for death and dead persons’. (Bataille) What we fear is not death in the abstract, but rather as Bataille repeatedly insists, the corpse that disgusts us is a decomposing substance. It is in process, liminal, between two states of fixed and stable being, neither one thing nor another. (Schaffner, 174)

It is this formlessness of the decomposing corpse that would lead Bataille to realize that it is not simply matter that is becoming unstable, but rather the founding metaphysical, scientific and aesthetic distinctions between life and death, animate and inanimate, formed and formless being. The corpse is, in short, the place where contraries meet, where order, identity and unity decompose, where all that makes the world intelligible and masterable is threatened. (Schaffner, 174) Bataille would see in the necrophilic impulse the central human condition of nostalgia for political restoration and revalorization. In this sense the slow decay and decomposition of modern democracies as they fell into WWI and WWII became the example of a fusion of eros and death in the form of technological sublime. Speed, acceleration, and the technological progress of war had fused in the necrophilic society of Fascism.

Technological Desire in the Fiction of J.G. Ballard

In an interview Ballard would be asked if his early medical training influenced his use of doctors and hospitals throughout his oeuvre. Ballard would say,

Maybe it is. Doing anatomy was an eye-opener: one had built one’s whole life on an illusion about the integrity of one’s body, this ‘solid flesh’. One mythologises one’s own familiar bits of flesh and tendon. Then to see a cadaver on a dissecting table and begin to dissect it myself and to find at the end of term that there was nothing left except a sort of heap of gristle and a clutch of bones with a label bearing some dead doctor’s name – that was a tremendous experience of the lack of integrity of the flesh, and of the integrity of this dead doctor’s spirit. Most cadavers, you know, are donated by doctors; and the doctors can visualise what’s going to happen to their bodies after death, because they’ve done dissection themselves.4

This sense of fragmentation and decomposition at the heart of Ballard’s aesthetic permeates his view of eros, death, and technology. In another interview based on his recent publication of Crash Ballard would inform us that

A car crash harnesses elements of eroticism, aggression, desire, speed, drama, kinaesthetic factors, the stylising of motion, consumer goods, status – all these in one event. I myself see the car crash as a tremendous sexual event really, a liberation of human and machine libido (if there is such a thing). That’s why the death in a crash of a famous person is a unique event – whether it’s Jayne Mansfield or James Dean – it takes place within this most potent of all consumer durables. (Sellars, KL 708)

This fusion of base materialism (“a liberation of human and machine libido”) with the technological sublime can be see throughout Ballard’s stories and novels. This necrophilic desire of the organic for the inorganic, flesh for machine seems to pervade our current eras fear and fascination with the artificial. Yet, for Ballard it wasn’t this sense of the erotic and machinic in fusion, but rather the disaffective division between our older primitive environmental associations of violence and sex that were being lost in this new technological world that pervades us. As he’d say it in another interview: “Although our central nervous systems have been handed to us on a plate by millions of years of evolution, have been trained to respond to violence at the level of fingertip and nerve ending, in fact now our only experience of violence is in the head, in terms of our imagination, the last place where we were designed to deal with violence.” (Sellars, KL 849)

This disconnection from our organic heritage, the loss of our physical relations to the Real; to the natural world around us, is leading us into a crash space of artificial emotion that is both passive and unable to remember its environmental triggers. So that “our whole inherited expertise for dealing with violence, our central nervous systems, our musculature, our senses, our ability to run fast or to react quickly, our reflexes, all that inherited expertise is never used. We sit passively in cinemas watching movies like The Wild Bunch where violence is just a style.” (Sellars, KL 852)

The fear and horror for Ballard is that our desire for artificial lives is decomposing our natural affects to the point that we are affectless, having no feelings but for the technological objects around us and that we’ve become ourselves:

Everywhere, all over Africa and South America, if you visit you see these suburbs springing up. They represent the optimum of what people want. There’s a certain sort of logic leading towards these immaculate suburbs. And they’re terrifying, because they are the death of the soul. And I thought, My God, this is the prison this planet is being turned into. (Sellars, Kl 2775)

He’ll go on to say that in The Atrocity Exhibition, “I had already shown how technology kills feeling,” which would in his later work foreshadow the death of affect brought about by systems of mass communication. (Sellars, KL 3852) Because we’ve left off living our own lives people have become more and more obsessed with the lives of the rich and famous, which has led to an obsession “with violent death, particularly of well-known figures (presidents, film stars and the like). (Sellars, KL 4144) He’d continue, saying:

It seems self-evident that people are immensely fascinated by the lives and deaths of public figures and have been since the nineteenth century. I remember reading American magazines as a boy in Shanghai that were full of gory photographs of gangsters and politicians who were gunned down and minor film stars who died in terrible road accidents or shootings in Hollywood. I see Kennedy’s death as a kind of catalyst of the media planet that exists now. There was something about the way in which this young president (who was himself a media construction) was dismantled by the same media landscape that created him, that generated a kind of supernova that’s still collapsing. (Sellars, KL 4150)

After the death of his wife Ballard once admitted in an interview that his necrophilic quest became an full time obsession against time, a nostalgia for his wife that seemed to fuse eros, technology and death in a mad vision:

if I could prove to myself that the car crash was not a giver of death but a giver of life, that somewhere beyond the collision of the human body and technology, between the human imagination and technology, there was a happier uplands … If I could do that, I don’t know, in some sort of crazed way I could bring my wife’s spirit at least back to life. (Sellars, KL 4931


  1. Fromm, Erich. The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness. Open Road Media; 1st edition (February 26, 2013)
  2. Schaffner, A. Modernism and Perversion: Sexual Deviance in Sexology and Literature, 1850-1930. Palgrave Macmillan; 2012 edition (December 15, 2011)
  3. Bataille, Georges. Erotism: Death and Sensuality. City Lights Publishers (January 1, 1986)
  4. Ballard, J.G; Sellars, Simon; O’Hara, Dan. Extreme Metaphors (Kindle Locations 654-659). Harper Collins, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

Eros, Death, and Ecstasy

Eroticism, it may be said, is assenting to life up to the point of death.

With the presentation of this over-all picture as my starting point, nothing has intrigued me more than the idea of once more coming across the image that haunted my adolescence, the image of God. This is certainly not a return to the faith of my youth. But human passion has only one object in this forlorn world of ours. The paths we take towards it may vary. The object itself has a great variety of aspects, but we can only make out their significance by seeing how closely they are knit at the deepest level.

—Georges Bataille, Eroticism, Death, and Sensuality 

Update…

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Still alive. Just taking time off, reading sci-fi, horror, noir, non-fiction, etc. Working on our new home in the mornings, taking long walks with my Lady along the reservoir and Shoshone river in late afternoons. Piddling. Sometimes you just have to turn the motor off on writing and relax. 🙂

Georg Trakl: The Way of the Rat King

“Let us not forget that philosophy is also primate psychology; that our loftiest speculations are merely picking through a minuscule region of the variegated slime encrusting a speck of dust.”     

– Nick Land, Spirit and Teeth

The Rat King reminds us not so much of a god in the sewers and dank underworlds, nor even the ancient leprous visage of a comic Yahweh hiding in the slime-infested shadows of ruinous cities, so much as he does his poseur, an imposter and fretful son, a shapeshifting shaman or Loki of the dark labyrinths – a werewolf  Lord of ferocity and an “inferior race” (Rimbaud). Such a creature is neither prodigal nor charmed, but rather the last fragmentary hope of a broken and threadbare anti-messiah — not of truth and life, but of death and despair: a god-king of in the mud and slime, living among the black and brown rats like a subterranean Outlaw King of cesspools and a tumorous thought of Night and Chaos. No longer the great god of the Old Testament, this mimic King and fetid Yahweh of the Sewers lives among his own brethren and inferiors, regressed to his true form as the King of Rats and Werewolves: his vermin-core eating alive all those false political religions and philosophies that still inhabit this dark bunghole of a globe.

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The Suicidal Civilization: Technopessimism and the Coming Collapse

…suicide is the decisive political act of our times.
― Franco “Bifo” Berardi, Precarious Rhapsody
It is not worth the bother of killing yourself, since you always kill yourself too late.
― Emile Cioran, The Trouble with being Born

Base materialism begins in the tomb, a world of death that presents itself as life —or, a-life, take your pick: the automatons of an atomistic world unleashed. This is neither Plato’s Cave, nor the scientific infinity of stars and the abyss. This is rather an ocean of energy, a realm of annihilating light and inexistence. Following Nick Land we promote a diagnostic truth against the “speculative, phenomenal, and meditative” philosophers of a false intuitionism, following instead the underbelly of those criminal outcasts of thought: Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, and Bataille among others toward a materialism that seeks not the phenomenal surface of things, but rather the ‘noumenon’ – the impersonal death and unconscious drive of an “energetic unconscious”. This is an experiential turn toward an heretical empiricism not of knowledge, but of collapse.

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Deleuze/Guattari: The Four Schizoanalytical Thesis

[W]hy do many of those who have or should have an objective revolutionary interest maintain a preconscious investment of a reactionary type? And more rarely, how do certain people whose interest is objectively reactionary come to effect a preconscious revolutionary investment?

-Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia

Deleuze and Guattari in their introduction to Schizoanalysis in Anti-Oedipus will offer us four thesis: (1) Every investment is social, and (2) within the social investments we will distinguish the unconscious libidinal investment of group or desire, and the preconscious investment of class or interest; (3) third, schizoanalysis posits the primacy of the libidinal investments of the social field over the familial investment, both in point of fact and by statute: an indifferent stimulus at the beginning, an extrinsic result at the point of arrival; and, (4) finally, the distinction between two poles of social libidinal investment: the paranoiac, reactionary, and fascisizing pole, and the schizoid revolutionary pole. (see AO: pp. 361, 362, 375, 385)

Those who have read us this far will perhaps find many reasons for reproaching us: for believing too much in the pure potentialities of art and even of science; for denying or minimizing the role of classes and class struggle; for militating in favor of an irrationalism of desire; for identifying the revolutionary with the schizo; for falling into familiar, all-too-familiar traps. This would be a bad reading, and we don’t know which is better, a bad reading or no reading at all. (AO, p. 398)

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The Schizorevolutionary Project : Escaping to the Future of New Earth

Good people say that we must not flee, that to escape is not good, that it isn’t effective, and that one must work for reforms. But the revolutionary knows that escape is revolutionary—withdrawal, freaks—provided one sweeps away the social cover on leaving, or causes a piece of the system to get lost in the shuffle. What matters is to break through the wall…

…the first thesis of schizoanalysis is this; every investment is social, and in any case bears upon a sociohistorical field.

—Deleuze/Guattari, Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia

For Deleuze and Guattari we are all caught in the glue of a temporal machine whose labors are those of Eternal return of the Same: a presentism that seeks to close us off in a dark world of capitalist familial aggression and theatre of cruelty. A social, political, and economic world system that seeks to freeze time in an eternal present of absolute presence. Within such a static world the powers of command and control  manipulate and modulate the desires of their slaves without fear of reprisal; for they’ve created a system of such utter destitution and austerity that no one escapes or withdraws without hitting zero degree intensity (i.e., death). With the separation of politics and the economy, the last linkage of democracy was severed and what remained was an iron clad prison of circulating capital sucking at its citizenry from center to periphery of the earth the surplus value and profit it needed to continue in its isolated world of speed. In such a world the populace is fed just enough to keep them alive till such a time as the machines will replace them, and then they too will become obsolesced and excluded from the world system.

The schizo is not revolutionary, but the schizophrenic process — in terms of which the schizo is merely the interruption, or the continuation in the void — is the potential for revolution. To those who say that escaping is not courageous, we answer: what is not escape and social investment at the same time? The choice is between one of two poles, the paranoiac counterescape that motivates all the conformist, reactionary, and fascisizing investments, and the schizophrenic escape convertible into a revolutionary investment.1

There are such moments when the two poles snap, the center does not hold and the forces of fascism and revolution collide in massive upheavals rivaling the darkest periods of genocide and holocaust. We are entering such an age, and yet it will not be based on ethnic or racial modes of horror but will be shown to be a confrontation between superior and inferior descendants of Homo sapiens sapiens. As the rich and powerful invest in human enhancement for their children in the coming century there will develop a separation of wide (supernormal) humanity from its predecessor and parental branch or clade. The ensuing clash between biological castes – of those with enhanced intelligence and physical features versus the narrow humanity of our own era (i.e., the un-enhanced normals of clade Homo sapiens sapiens). Sadly such conflictual relations may end badly for our species.

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Deleuze/Guattari: ‘Stop the World!’

One of the things of profound interest in Castaneda’s books, under the influence of drugs, or other things, and of a change of atmosphere, is precisely that they show how the Indian manages to combat the mechanisms of interpretation and instill in the disciple a presignifying semiotic, or even an asignifying diagram: Stop! You’re making me tired! Experiment, don’t signify and interpret! Find your own places, territorialities, deterritorializations, regime, lines of flight!

—Deleuze / Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus

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 (Moldbug/Land).  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. (see Land)

Listen to Deleuze/Guattari again: ‘Stopping the world’ was indeed an appropriate rendition of certain states of awareness in which the reality of everyday life is altered because the flow of interpretation, which ordinarily runs uninterruptedly, has been stopped by a set of circumstances alien to the flow.” What Land said above is that our perception of reality is managed by a system of experts, a technocracy of academic, political, socio-cultural, media-tainment machines that command and control our perceptions – our awareness of the reality matrix within which we move and breath day by day.

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Eugenics to Transhumanism: The Secular Religion of Progressive Perfectibility

The so-called ‘change agent’—capable of transforming the genetic sequence of living people—could radically alter the world as we know it. … This technology could well undermine the concept of identity itself. Who is who, personal accountability—these were until now the foundation of all law. And yet new live genetic editing technology may render such presumptions obsolete.

—Daniel Suarez, Change Agent

Eugenics to Transhumanism: The Secular Religion of Progressive Perfectibility

The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it.

—Karl Marx, Theses On Feuerbach

Marx’s statement above is the central dictum of progressive thought in politics, the sciences, and the humanities for the past two hundred years. Instead of limits and constraints as Kant imposed, the progressive spirit sought to abolish necessity and constraints in a revolutionary agon against the human condition. Someone who would take this progressive tendency in another direction was Francis Galton.

Francis Galton, Father of Progressive Transhumanism, sometimes known as Eugenics (i.e., our long history of the Genome and Genetics stems from this first flowering) – or, the Victorian Secular Religion of Improvement believed that eugenics would accelerate the process, would breed out the vestigial barbarism of the human race and manipulate evolution to bring the biological reality of man into consonance with his advanced moral ideals. According to Galton, “what Nature does blindly, slowly, and ruthlessly, man may do providently, quickly, and kindly.” He found in eugenics a scientific substitute for church orthodoxies, a secular faith, a defensible religious obligation.

He’d read his cousin, Darwin’s Origin of the Species and become converted by evolutionary theory to the point that over a period of years he’d construct out of a hodge-podge of pseudo-scientific notions the new religion and social progressive movement of secular eugenics. Intent on making a true science of eugenics possible, Galton began trying to ferret out the laws of inheritance. He approached the problem through the infant science of statistics. At the time, no biologist dealt with any part of his subject mathematically; Galton’s remarkable methodological departure was of considerable long-term significance for the discipline. It originated, however, not in a conviction on his part that biology needed mathematics but, rather, in something that came naturally to him— counting, and pondering the resultant numbers. The word “statistics” denoted, in Galton’s time, “state” numbers— indices of population, trade, manufacture, and the like— the gathering of which aided the state in the shaping of sound public policy.1

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Our Biogenetic Future: Cladistics, Bifurcation, Enhancement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

—Jean Baudrillard, The Vital Illusion

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

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

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

—Peter King

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

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Move Went Well..

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

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

Post-Accelerationism: Dismantling the Social Machine

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

—Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Seduction of the Real

The world is an illusion.” —Valentinus

“…images precede the Real.” —Jean Baudrillard

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

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

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Monstrous Deliriums, Mutant Adventures

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

—Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus

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

—Jacques Lacarrier, The Gnostics 

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

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

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The Decline of the Progressive West

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

—Nick Land, The Dark Enlightenment

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

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The Museum of Freedom

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

—Jean Baudrillard, The Transparency of Evil

Mixed Reality (MR): The Augmentation of the World

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

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

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Against Hate

marx_engels

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

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Bataille’s Revenge

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

—Nick Land, A Thirst for Annihilation

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

—Jean Baudrillard, Forget Foucault

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

Bataille in Inner Experience quotes Nietzsche from Ecce Homo:

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

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Lost in the Maze: Futurity and the Inhuman Economy

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

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

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

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The War Against Humanity: Technology, Capital, Apocalypse

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

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

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

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

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We Have Never Been Communists

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

The Techno-Human Condition: Beyond the Fourth Revolution?

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

—Daniel Suarez, Change Agent

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

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

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

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Fear of Technology: Being Alone Together in the Machine

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

—Philip K. Dick, The Exegesis

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

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

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The Experiment Has Begun

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

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

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

—Cormac McCarthy, The Road

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

The dream didn’t fail us, but we did.

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

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

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

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Optimizing Intelligence: Time, Technology, and the Human Condition

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

—Heraclitus

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

—Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus

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

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

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The Disinheritance

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

—Stanislaw Lem, Summa Technologiae

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

—Nick Land, Fanged Noumena

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

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

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