by Achim Szepanski
The hegemonically important discourses are currently taking place between neoliberal positions propagating the national market as a location in international competition and thus free trade, mobility for capital and a limited immigration of labour, and between the racist New Right, which fears for the sovereignty of the state and propagates the pure popular body. In times when capital is coming ever closer to the concept of the world market, i.e. when it is staging the globe as a single space of production and circulation, the new Right is pursuing a policy of wait-and-see and see and is putting its faith in rigid demarcations and agitating against the alienation of the popular body, against globalization and against international financial capital. The common point of reference between neoliberalism and the New Right is the affirmation of the capitalist mode of production, within which the indigenous capital and the indigenous state are to successfully exist in world competition as a capital location.
In the course of a concept of hegemony that constructs an empty space of the social, which can be occupied either by the left or by the right, by arguing and fighting over common themes, a national-social wing of the left develops again, which groups itself around persons like Sahra Wagenknecht. One fabulises of “financial feudalism” (accelerationists) or “economic feudalism” (Wagenknecht). The alternative is called the third way (between capitalism and communism) and goes back to folk anti-Semitism, which in turn goes back to the empire; in the 1960s, however, the term was also used by reform socialists of eastern provinces and social democrats to initiate a new reform policy. The financial industry is generally denounced as a vampire that mercilessly sucks out the social body.
Marxists, on the other hand, see modern finance as a process inherent in capital that secures capitalist power relations. Valuation, which takes place via the financial markets, has important consequences for the organization of capitalist power relations and strengthens the implementation of the capital tendencies prevailing in each business cycle. This Marxist position is opposed by an interpretation reaching back to Ricardo, which continues via Veblen, Hilferding and Keynes to the positions of Post-Keynesianism, Accelerationism, Post-Marxism (Negri/Hardt, Zizek, Lapavitsas etc.) and such positions as those of Bichler/Nitzan, which are heterodox today: The power of capital is here derived from the property relations, the profit of capital appears as an absolute pension (see the speech of financial feudalism), the finance appears as a sabotage of the industrial relations, mainly shaped by technicians and workers, and is based on a system of observation of second order. The rise of finance is understood mainly as unrealistic, hypertrophic and dysfunctional, as the mere distortion of an ideal capitalism. Post-Keynesians such as Joseph Stieglitz, Paul Krugman or Thomas Piketty somehow follow such a position, demanding a new reform policy with banking supervision, stimulus programs and higher taxes for the elites.'
All this happens in times of the precarious lifestyles of the younger generations, the terrible catastrophes of refugees drowning helplessly in the Mediterranean, the brutal policy of austerity imposed on impoverished countries, and the restructuring of social security systems even in rich countries like Germany and the existence of job centres, i.e. institutions that manage the pressure to work and poverty.
Retraining programs and a gigantic action industry organize the state-subsidized humiliations. As arbitrarily usable material, as persons for whom every need has been expelled, the poor today are exposed to constant harassment, coercion and coercion by the state. The customers of the labour institutions are fitted into team-based networks of so-called measures, with which they are tormented in loose order with senseless courses and coaching, or the customers are optionally forced to accept any dirty work, and if they do not parry, they are sanctioned, i.e. driven to hunger. Temporary employment agencies have the right to force customers to do almost any kind of work. A tremendous apparatus of stultification, brutalization and threat has emerged, a new panic industry has developed, which is congenially complemented by the staging of paranoia by the new rights. Hartz IV initiated a development that not only resulted in the nationalization of the labor force, but also in the appropriation of the labor force.than biomass by the state, by the political sovereignty of total capital. Hartz IV and Agenda 2010 are the laboratories of panic.
At the same time, the middle classes, some of whom are already voting to the right and threatened by social decline, are insisting on their affirmative lifestyle and consumption programme. They advocate a “neoliberal capitalism” characterized by the affirmation of innovation, creativity, mobility, fluidity and possibility. Everything is possible, everything is fascinating. The paradigm is that of exuberant positivity, of which there is not too much, but still far too little. The leitmotifs and imperatives are clear: “If you have nothing friendly to say, say nothing at all”, “if constructive thoughts are spread, this will have positive consequences”, or simply, “be constructive, not destructive”. (Cf. Culp, Dark Deleuze.)
The motto of positivity, of undisturbed enjoyment, is constantly scanned. The wellness and fitness industry is releasing a new “biomorality” (Zizek) and new happiness movements that invite us to keep on having fun, while for many, fear lurks naked in their backs. Wellness becomes a moral obligation for individuals who are willing and able to perform, who behave like casting participants in labour markets and other markets, like individuals who pacify everyone on and with their smartphones.
So the discursive mouthpieces of the new middle class sound that today one can freely choose between these or those strategies and things under all circumstances, although all decisions practically always amount to the same thing, namely that they are ultimately executed by the market. In order to imagine oneself as an individual, one must therefore permanently inject difference into one’s own performance. The trick of neoliberalism is simply to sell this kind of freedom program, namely the possibility of choosing from thousands of risks and goods, as a strategy and position against encrusted and ossified systems. If, however, one perceives the compulsion to which one is subjected as freedom, then nothing more than the end of freedom is called for.
In this situation, which is only very briefly outlined here, a small mob of leftists must ask themselves whether and to what extent it is not necessary to reconsider a politics of negativity, imperceptibility and critique whose practice refers to theoretical conceptions for which names such as Adorno, Dark Deleuze and, to a lesser extent, Laruelle stand. For such a political practice, it seems necessary to march through the various approaches in rapid succession in order to tear out tools that could be useful for such a practice.
We start with Adorno, whose important statements in the “negative dialectic” we present here only in buzzword form. We essentially stick to the recently published book “Constitutive Negativity” by Sangwon Han. For Adorno, “Negative Dialectic” is about denouncing the positive as an affirmative lie. Dialectic thrives on the divisiveness of thinking an object in relation to something else. The defining force of the term is always a practice of discernment. Within the divorced identity, Adorno, in contrast to Hegel, must insist on the non-identical, which itself is ever a necessary condition for the constitution of identity. For Adorno, conceiving the divisiveness of a thing as social critique means thinking about whether the existing is not given to us from the outset as the negative. For Adorno, social reality is not given as an integral organism, but as an antagonistic totality. Adorno demands the connection of epistemology to social theory as the practical interest of theory, to which as negatively qualified order (for it the suffering of the individual is constitutive) “no” to say. Adorno understands theory as a practice or as a changing productive force. He agrees with Althusser and Laruelle. Laruelle in particular has recently pointed to a subject that incorporates the “force of thought” or the practice of labor as the “reality-in-the-last instance”. (Labour power not as the expression of a political or rational individual or optionally as a subject-object defined by socio-economic categories, but as the radically lived thing of resistance). For Adorno, the productive or speculative power of theory consists in negation, which constantly reinforces the practical impulse (mimesis of suffering) to make changes in the given fields of forces and power relations. In that this negative activity produces the antithesis to the world (equal to capital), it is in this sense a philosophy of no-saying.
The concept of negativity has a constitutive character in Adorno’s thinking, which Sangwon Han logically calls “constitutive negativity”. First of all, the negative and negativity must be distinguished from each other. Adorno writes: “Negative dialectic, on the other hand, thinks of the power of the whole, acting in every single determination, not only as a negation of the individual determination, but also as the negative itself – namely as the untrue, as that which drives reconciliation behind. Negation means opposition, division or antithesis to a determination, something that is negating, while the negative refers to the untrue, the dreadful, that which is to be negated and destroyed. Negation is the negating critical effect of thinking, which “society” understands as a totality of suffering. It implies a critical and resisting attitude against the social reality understood and experienced as negative and at the same time the impetus to abolish the negative object. In contrast to Hegel, no synthesis is to emerge from the negation of negation, because in this case the negation would not be negative enough, rather the negation insists as a negating activity or criticism of the negative state. The figure of the negation of negation thus does not lead to synthesis, but is to be understood as the negation of the existing negative. In Adorno, the negation of the negative does not end in the positive, as in Hegel, but remains sui generis negative, but also has positive effects, i.e. the positive is only constituted by the consequent negation of the negative. Or, to put it another way, Adorno proceeds from the negation of repressive and antagonistic reality; the positive is produced by the consequent process of negation itself, by the negation of the negative, not by the negation of negation. But this does not have to mean a relapse into bad infinity, which Hegel counters in such a way that he elevates the deficiency to potency. In Adorno, the outer state is suffered and experienced as outer suffering, whereby the non-identical happens to thinking at the same time and is not merely thought of by it. This results in Adorno’s negative inconclusiveness. This thinking would only be badly infinite if it were to turn away from the suffering of the something that happens to it and enter into a redundant circle around itself. Such a true infinity would then be quite Hegelian the coincidence of concept and thing.
The really positive is not directly predetermined, but can only be constituted subsequently by the activity of negation. Therefore, what constitutes the positive is the negation. By working on the given object, conceptual thought reconstructs it in a network of relationships that Adorno calls the problem in reference to Benjamin Constellation and Deleuze. Benjamin calls a constellation a constellation-like dominationless network. Concepts are determined here by their manifold relationships to other concepts. Negative dialectic wants to move away from the static system and dissolve the positivity itself. Antagonistic totality, on the other hand, is thought of as a network of relations, thus including a critique of a position that attempts to determine totality as the last and absolute. In this way, theory works productively through negation and produces new consequences instead of directly imagining the new. Totality is not an affirmative, but a critical category. Adorno writes: “But the positive that one has is the given in its wickedness, beyond which knowledge goes with nothing else but that it determines wickedness through the immanent contradiction of the given. The positive is the negative, and only the negative, the certain negation, is actually positive”. For Adorno, negativity is another name for critical reason, which immanently criticizes the present state of power relations and force fields in capitalism through the discovery of antagonism, and only in this way makes transcendence possible.
The theoretical practice as constitutive negativity means, following on from and against Hegel, a) to hold the non-identical in identity and not to synthesize it, b) to pursue negation as critical activity or theoretical practice, and c) to define the negative of social reality.1 Central for Adorno, following Hegel’s appointment, is the concept of a certain negativity, i.e. everything that exists can only be determined in relation to its non-being, in negation of the other.2 The enormous power of negation as a critical thought movement manifests itself as the negation of an immediate, direct activity or theoretical practice.
The reference to Marx’s concept of critique would then be the following: For Marx, critique is a descriptive one insofar as it systematically reveals the inner structure of economic categories. But the relations in the capitalist mode of production are not only systematically presented, but at the same time the antagonism is named in it and thus the inner and outer limits of capital are shown. The critical representation method of capital is therefore negative. Adorno thus differs both from dialectic as a purely subjective definition of thought and from contemplative real dialectic in that he identifies dialectic as a reflexive and critical activity. Dialectic is neither method nor real, but an activity of thinking, and is therefore related to the real structure as a method of thinking, whereby the concept and reality of capital do not coincide. Negation as an activity of thinking is a theoretical practice that has a practical impetus, a critical intervention in reality. Negative dialectic is a conceptual framework for the justification of the politics of negativity. For politics this means to recognize social antagonism, to think negation in the course of the subversive force of negativity without abolition in order to aim at a new horizon of alterity, an alternative associative force between concept and reality, between which there is no identity, no simple exchange or a reciprocal analogy. Adorno’s negative dialectic is not absorbed in totality, but criticizes it, it is anti-totalitarian. Totality is not perceived as continuous, but as discontinuous. At the same time, the antisystem must become aware of exactly what the existing system is, which in turn requires an analysis of the system. It requires systemic investigation and representation of the system in order to subject it to critique. The descriptive criticism must not imitate the system, but must blow it up. For this the critique itself has to become systematic again, because only a systematic analysis of the system can critically overcome it. A systematic theory for the deconstruction of the existing system. Thinking without a concept is not thinking, but the critical impetus must not be forgotten: the claim of knowledge does not lie in mere perception, classification and calculation, that would then be understood perception, but precisely in the certain negation of the ever-immediate, according to Adorno. The understanding of conceptual categories of a certain system is at the same time a criterion for its critique, insofar as the system is identified as an antagonistic one.
Dimensions of the concept of identity: a) unity of personal consciousness, b) thinking as a logical generality, c) self-equality of the object of thought (a=a), coincidence of the subject with the object. I think is the guarantor of identity. Adorno shows that the constitutive subject is always mediated by the objective reality that lies outside itself. Adorno on the one hand points to the outside of the subject’s identity, on the other hand the supraindividual moment of the subject’s self-identity must be illuminated.
Immanent critique makes use of the specific negation as productive negativity. Determination of the object in relation to an external negative as well as an internal negative in relation to itself. Determining negation determines an object through negation and at the same time negates it through its determination, in that negation and determination cannot be separated from each other, critique and solution cannot be separated from each other. In Adorno’s work, the capitalist logic of identity is derived from the principle of exchange, which is quantifiably identified. Interchangeability, commensurability and quantitative calculation are decisive here. The exchange requires equality, which at the same time it negates. The totality of equivalents is the negative totality insofar as they are referred to by the inequality and non-equivalent exchange of value added production. Through the back door, Sangwon Han reintroduces the concept of capital, which Adorno largely lacks. But this also means that the immanent critique developed via the principle of exchange fails, insofar as circulation is to be understood as an integral part of the sliding movement of capital, and not as the true garden of Eden of human rights, which one could put on as a measure of bourgeois society in order to show that it does not keep its promises.3 So it becomes problematic when one sticks to an immanent critique, a la the principles of equality and freedom that bourgeois society propagates, cannot be realized in it. Here, the existing is supposed to open up its impossibility through itself, in that the failure of identification via the non–identical not only indicates the measure of critique, but the non-identical stands for something that refers to an object that cannot be liquidated. But it would now be too easy to identify this object with its utility value, the manifold transformations of which Adorno has not escaped.
The non-identical is not an antithesis of identity, but its necessary element. Identity cannot exist without it; non-identity is not the first, but is to be understood as the constitutive alterity of identity. An immediacy mediated by mediation opposes the primacy of mediation by mediating the mediation itself. (Han) Non-identity is the limit of the concept, while at the same time it refers to something real. But the non-identical cannot be turned around positively, it is not a positive difference, rather it points to the negative being, insofar as it is experienced as negative in the compulsion to identity. The non-identical is the certain negation of identity and a negative force that goes beyond the principle of identification; it is suitable for the foreign, heterogeneous; it is divergent, dissonant, negative. The non-identical is thus not an affirmative difference to the identical, but the constitutive other of identity qua critique. Critique refers to the cards that do not yet exist. However, this would then have to be seen more from the problems than from the solutions, in order not to fall into the trap of having to solve only that which was once messed up in capitalism. We would have to design new problems that per se hold on to the moment of criticism. (The principle of identification does not make identity disappear, rather it shows that true identity is only possible by overcoming the principle of identity. The principle of identification is criticized on the scale of identity itself).
The normative idea of bourgeois society does not already contain an association of free individuals, even if freedom and equality are not an eternal yardstick, but must be changed by social changes themselves. The critical scale is changed by the critical activity, but no scale beyond the existing one can be a priori fixed, here Adorno is subject to the prohibition of images. The positive does not exist in advance, but is subsequently constituted in the negation of something false negative. The positive is not a transcendence separated from reality and directly attainable, nor is it produced by the abolition of negation. Only in the process of negating the negative is it constituted as a non-negative. However, Adorno adheres to the prohibition of images, i.e. communism for him as well as for Marx is the real movement itself.
In this context, in view of the political, it is necessary to think about the constitution of counter-sovereignty, which is to be understood as a collective subjectivity. For Adorno, the concept of mimesis is central here. Suffering and the non-identical are constitutive concepts for the political in Adorno’s work, the mimetic impulse to perceive the suffering of the other as that of oneself, and this amounts to the practice of resistance as well as methexis as the constellation that enables the realization of the sovereign freedom of the individual in their common participation. (Han) Perceiving phenomena of suffering only brings to light the perspective that the cause of suffering is based on antagonisms originating in the structural dimension of capital relations. The consequence that can be deduced from this perspective is that social totality is to be seen as the negative, antagonistic reality that indicates that it is not a complete and self-contained reality, but a reality that cannot be merged.
All efforts, as far as I understand Negative Dialectic in Adorno, are directed against Hegel’s pre-decided dialectic. The non-identical is the real critique of a real non-state. Adorno does not defend himself against identity per se, but against the principle of identification. Zizekmäßig spoken then the non-identical would be the gap of identity in the principle of identification, something that escapes identity. The non-identical as a concept is at the same time a symptom of suffering. It thus always has a real relation to the excluded. One can of course easily get rid of Adorno’s critical impulse as a political impulse if one reads the identical only in terms of reconciliation, longing, etc. In this area Bloch was the more agile and windy one anyway. On the one hand, the postulate of the non-identical refers to the pathos of denunciation, which according to Marx is essential for critique. On the other hand, this pathos leads to a regulative idea that at night all those who resist look the same – in order to secure their imperceptibility, they have no reason whatsoever to liken themselves to Facebook or, in other words, say something, but that something implies the moment of interruption. Dialectic at a standstill. Or, to put it another way, dialectic in standstill means escaping the contrast between total transparency and the Hegelian night in which all cows look the same.
Adorno had long anticipated the process of the left’s self-disarmament that had begun in the 1980s. In a letter to Thomas Mann he writes: “But I always have the feeling that if you don’t endure it in the negative or go too early into the positive, you are working into the hands of the untrue. Without ever having understood the left’s self-disarmament in just one point, Badiou and Zizek repeat prayerfully on every occasion that the big problem of the left is not being able to offer an alternative. And the majority of the leftists are blithely chattering. But because most of these leftists, who have long been pondering the positive, have not read a single line about the socialist planned economy or at best repeat the phrase about the association of free producers, such people as the accelerationists can then jump into the breach and proclaim the manna of a future that keeps you in the positive with demands such as an unconditional basic income, shorter working hours and automation. This again meets perfectly with Zizek’s dressed up advise to the left, hey, its political economy. The punch line that the subtitle of capital was called critique of the political economy, that is, that it was also criticized, so to speak, that the classical economy was too political or did not understand the economic laws, disappears in the nirvana of a politicism attached to Ricardo, which has to insure itself of the above alternative proposals, but which capital has long since caught up with. With the overreading of Marx’s punch line, Marx’s criticism of the economy also disappears. Marx not only depicts the laws of movement of capital, but also shows its antagonistic character.
1) In Hegel’s work, the critique of the abstract identity system (Seinslogik – logic of being) develops into a definition as containing differences in itself (Wesenslogik – logic of essence) and as the other of the other (Begriffslogik – logic of concepts). What is given is divided, that is Hegel’s true principle. Hegel in some way uses both the digital (The One, divided into Two) and the analog (Two, which synthesize themselves in the One) as the elements of his dialectic: the moment of analysis, in which the One is divided into Two, and the moment of synthesis, in which the Two is combined as One. With synthesis, Hegel wants to overcome alienation. There are contradictions, but they must be reintegrated into the great whole, the absolute spirit.
The dialectical method is regarded as a means of thinking that has to be preserved and modified in use. Hegel’s conception links totality and contradiction thinking by conceiving certainty as negation, and this as negation of every other to this certainty, which is excluded by precisely this certainty, whereby the other in turn negates the certainty, and this relation and thus the negation not only of the other but also of itself by the other is an essential moment of certainty itself. It is about relationships (totality) as a network of relations, which for Hegel is of a conceptual nature and culminates in the self-consciousness of an accomplished concept, which ultimately defines itself as a dialectical method.the science of logic increases into the absolute idea as an absolute method, whereby method is to be understood as “consciousness of the form of the inner self-movement of its content”. After all, the method is nothing other than the thing itself, and not an instrument for grasping the thing in the first place. On the other hand, it has to be shown that the thing or object with which the method is supposed to be one is already a theoretical object or a cognitive object (Althusser), whereby the method has to assume a very specific, not identical relation to this object.
3) Added product/added value of money added value. (Cf. Schwengel 1978: 293) From the beginning, the added value is to be described as a multi-product without a product, it merely has to satisfy the determination of a quantitative surplus, which, however, is always scarce and always remains scarce. Following on from the French linguistic analyses, Schwengel determines the signifier of the added value of money as that of another signifier; here we are dealing with games of the signifiers whose concatenations determine the signification of the added value of money.to a law that defines that every valuation must take place in relation to a ratio of more, a more that is lacking per se. (ibid.: 294f.) The respective presupposed signifier is treated like a signified, which in turn only appears in further signifiers, and in it the producing activity is “ever released without fulfilling itself”, in order to disappear at the same time constantly with its results on the market, i.e., all the mediating movements of production disappear, according to Marx, for a moment in the result and leave no traces behind. We have seen, however, that work can only be grasped at all as a differential trace, so that Marx considers a further shift necessary, a transmission or translation, which is precisely that of the transformation of labour into work. In it, the difference between labor and labor becomes the object of possible exploitation, the actual differentiator of which, however, is the value that differentiates a sui generis inconclusive movement, the beginning and end of which is money in its shiftedness, i.e., money capital that implies more. Contrary to a foundation of added value solely in the differentiation of labor and labor, however, it must be insisted that the significat contained in the chain of signifiers of money added value manifests itself in ever more representative signifiers that represent nothing more than the significat of more (as money capital), which itself does not become visible as a constituent. On the one hand, money surplus value implies differential repetition as quantitative variation, on the other hand it implies self-referential setting, which, however, does not lead to a fixed result and can only have a definitory effect by permanently pushing the multiplication forward. As such a restricted setting, it is compatible with repetition. Added value now becomes the (absent) instance that at once resolves the instruction for future exploitation, whereby from the beginning the occupation of the future, which coincides with borrowing, production and assault on itself, is set. Consequently, the capitalist economy must constantly hope for a gain in time, which, however, can never be caught up with, and this is expressed in money capital as difference, insofar as it is dependent on the project of a future which, as the not-yet-successful, is always lacking, and this at the same time means the more that is to be multiplied incessantly. Here the presence of added value must be understood as absence, as a result of which it cannot be measured. These processes of the utilization of money capital simultaneously imply a release of social practices in which difference, setting and repetition mutually condition each other, whereby setting means the destruction of every fixed result qua potentially circulating structure (virtualization), which in turn implies a form of repetition qua potentially fixable circulation (actualization), and this virtualization-update-connection per se remains tied to the achievement of more. (ibid.: 294) A strange kind of inequality that here takes place beyond a mere bourgeois distribution of the multiple product, for contrary to the equivalence of exchange, which appears to be instituted by capital itself, the abstract more (of money – capital, i. e. ever money capital) is to be understood as that decisive instance of capital, as that shifted signified, which always only shows itself in the representing signifiers of money. “The signified is a law that says that only something can be valued that can be placed in a ratio of more.” (ibid.: 295) The term “money surplus value” is here sui generis the basis of the concept of surplus value, insofar as it has completely emancipated itself from the content and this fact implies in and with its purely formal sliding process a systemic lack, the lack of surplus or the famous excess of capital – and the bourgeois economy and neoclassic reflects this to some extent without concept in the term of scarcity. (ibid.: 191) With the introduction of the concept of added value of money, the loss of everything substantial is thus shown, whereby quantifications serve, among other things, to integrate the innumerable qualitative processes and to distil them with regard to the universal dimensions of capitalization. We will still see that exactly at this point the moment of pure calculation worked out by Deleuze has to resonate in the representation, insofar as in the processes of capitalization the non-quantitative problem of pure difference is not solved, but insists further and further, and this can then at best be written by means of non-linear differential equations, which one really cannot solve, however, insofar as their series diverge further and further.If industrial capital generates profit by processing differences between different value systems, then it should be possible to determine these differences taking into account specific parameters: a) capitalization, b) financing of individual capital by individual capital (credit), c) technological innovation and/or power within the binding framework of total capital, d) movement of the profit rate and interest rate in their relationship to each other, wages, etc., etc. It is precisely at this point that capitalism is based on an inexorable opacity, which is prolonged and differentiated by the temporalization of the differential accumulation of total capital through competition and its correction mechanisms. And this also indicates that capital as plural capital immediately comes to a standstill in its overall complexity if it cannot permanently exploit, process and create differences. Only under the condition that the parameters of the heterogeneous value systems and of differential accumulation are considered in spatial and temporal terms as forms of actualization/virtualization of total capital can the transformation from money to capital ultimately be understood. Terms such as added value, capitalization and profit therefore only give meaning in the context of the quasi-transcendental overall context of capital (synchronicity), which in turn is updated via specific temporal and spacial.
by Terence Blake
In the last sections we have seen that certain key terms and concepts used to describe the literary genre of science fiction can also be used to describe Laruelle’s non-philosophical project in TETRALOGOS: amplitude, inventiveness, mega-text, cognitive estrangement, futurality, neologism and transformed language, futurality, and cosmicity. In this next section we take the parallels further.
3) Dynamic Presentation: Movements and Drama
According to François Laruelle, « standard » philosophy postulates its own sufficiency to encompass the real, but it maintains the appearance of this so-called autonomous apprehension by its real dependence on other modes of apprehension. Sufficiency is defined by an imaginary autonomy and a real dependence. Thus, contrary to its self-image as a « pure » discipline, standard philosophy exists in a composite state, a mixture (Badiou says a « suture ») of philosophy with another mode of apprehension, typically (for Laruelle ) with the poem. Laruelle also considers other existing mixtures, such as that of philosophy and science, found in positivist and scientistic systems.
So, the complete formula for standard philosophy is philosophy sutured with science and this composite re-sutured with the poem.
The movement traced by the book unfolds in four stages. I associate them with four defining features of science fiction: the suspension of disbelief, cognitive estrangement, the cosmic, and the sense of wonder.
1) Prologue: Conceptual characters and structure of the action. The movement here is the passage from amnescience (or sutural forgetfulness) to de-suturation, and the emergence of the characters of the drama and of the existing structure of their actions. In terms of science fiction, this corresponds to the willing suspension of disbelief.
We live in the state of amnescience, in worlds governed by sufficient philosophy and by its unconsciously organized mixtures. François Laruelle proposes first to disarticulate and disorganize existing worldly mixtures (the suture of philosophy and the poem, and that of philosophy with science) by a procedure of forcing, i.e. by means of science. This would produce a more rigorous philosophy and at the same time provide an answer to the critics who accuse Laruelle of scientism.
Science would be used strategically in the current state of mixtures (philosophy / poem and philosophy / science) to suspend the sufficient attitude and to free philosophy from its unilateral limitation and its conceptual fusion with poetics on one side and with the scientific reductionism of the other. The mixtures must be interrupted, and Laruelle’s thesis is that « the strongest interruption is the scientific » (183).
2) Organon: the theory of Reminiscience. The movement is the reorganization of the conceptual and dramatic architectures, releasing the characters and their acts for new adventures. In science fiction terms, this stage corresponds to cognitive estrangement.Estrangement is forcing. Here begins forced philosophy and its consciously reorganized mixtures.
In this second stage, philosophy is neither eliminated nor abandoned, it remains an essential reference in a new reorganized architecture, where it finally has access to the real, but only through the sciences (generic logic and quantum physics).
« [Philosophy] will have to accept the sometimes embarrassing mentoring of these sciences (generic logic and quantum physics) which will deprive it of its pretension to a fundamental access to the real, and will leave it with only the possibility of a mediated access to this real as Universe, but in view of the governance of the empirico-formal human experience at the heart the World » (21).
Laruelle proposes to call this replacement discipline, reorganized consciously according to other principles, « Reminiscience », in which philosophy persists in a purified state as a transcendental « memory » of the past and the future, mingled with the « generic » and the « quantic ».
Philosophy would survive as theatricalised memory, somewhat like the Art of Memory described by Frances Yates, with its conceptual characters, landscapes, acts, and actions, but to which we should add a futural dimension.
3) Amplitude: the whole range of human experience and its cosmic epic. The movement is gaining in amplitude, it’s the journey from Earth to the Stars. Laruelle says from Birth to Messianity, but I suggest we correct this to say from Birth to the Birth of Messianity. In science fiction terms, this is the stage of the cosmic journey or the encounter with aliens or with their artefacts, and a new apprenticeship of the universe. Here the ascensional dialectic extends into the non-phi human epic.
In this third phase, the reorganization prepares us for a new stage of the ascent in the dialectic of the ascension we are following. We thus move from a sufficient philosophy through a non-standard philosophy, to a forced philosophy, to the non-phi epic of the human experience in all its extent: from the cave to the stars (its sites) and from birth to messianity (its stages).
I say this is the stage of the birth of Messianity, because the Messiahs that we are have two faces. One face, transcendent, is turned towards the Starry Sky and the other face is turned towards the Earth. How to go down to earth while remaining a Messiah? This is the problem of the end of the 2001 film The Space Odyssey. The hero frees himself from his mundane clone or his digital double, i.e. the rationalist or artificial intelligence HAL, experiences quantum teleportation and a lived experience by way of the Reminiscience of the cosmos and of all stages of life. He is reborn as a stellar fetus and returns to Earth as a Messiah/Anthropos, but the film stops there, just before the most difficult moment to schematise: the Ritorno.
4) Ritorno: the science-fictional and musical return from the Starry Sky to the Earth. The movement is a conscious descent, not a fall of the Icarus type (for example David Bowie’s character in THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH), but rather a moment of subjectivation. In science fiction terms, it’s the sense of wonder.
Strictly speaking the sense of wonder is the subjectivation of the epic of humanity in all its cosmic amplitude. Laruelle also speaks of indignation, which is the subjectivation of the struggle against the evil world in favour of the just world. We are in the descending dialectic or the anthropic descent.
In this fourth and last phase, the anthropic descent is subtended by the same quadriparti as in the de-anthropologising rise of Reminiscience: dramatization, memory, generic and quantic.
This is the musical part proper, the movement to leave the coherence of transcendence, and voluntarily or at least consciously, to enter decoherence. After having freed standard philosophy of its suture with the poem (or with science), after having reorganized it with the help of the forcing of the generic and the quantum, after having become « aliens », we go up to the ultimate amplitude of the human experience, its sites and its stages. And it is from this amplitude of wild experience, the lived-without-life, that we can recombine otherwise, transcendentally, philosophy and music, and descend « philo-musically »:
« The last book describes Messianity as the ultimate and highest stage of human existence, the stage that returns to its origins and closes the cycle. It is ultimately given in a philosophical-musical pathos which is the explicit object of the last Book, thus retroactively closing this tetralogy » (26).
Commentary: The movement of the Larunellean space opera goes from amnescience, i.e. from the philosophically contaminated experience of naive empiricism (and scientism) to transcendental or radical empiricism (the pluralist universe), and finally to a radical polytheism (democratic Messianity).
by Terence Blake
We have seen that certain of the key terms and concepts used to characterise the literary genre of science fiction can also be used to describe Laruelle’s non-philosophical project in TETRALOGOS: amplitude, inventiveness, mega-text, cognitive estrangement, futurality, neologism and transformed language. In this section we continue the investigation into the parallels between Laruelle’s philosophy and science fiction.
2) Static Presentation: structure, characters, and themes
The subtitle of TETRALOGOS is an opera of philosophies. We can already see an allusion to Laruelle’s concept of philo-fiction as a generalization of science fiction, since one of the great subcategories of science fiction is Space Opera. As we have seen TETRALOGOS is conceived as the libretto of a conceptual opera, composed of an Overture, four « books » and a Coda. All is 622 pages.
1) The Overture (84 pages) introduces the main themes and object of the work:
« to describe, through a montage of philosophical theories and of central references to music, the harmonic and contrapuntal amplitude of the epic of human life as a function of its sites, which go from the Cavern to the Stars, and the diversity of its stages and its intrigues, which go from Birth to Messianity » (11).
2) Book I (76 pages) constitutes the Prologue, it presents the conceptual characters, the landscapes, the acts and the structure of the work. In the de-schematized dramatization of François Laruelle’s TETRALOGOS, there are four main conceptual characters: « forced » philosophy or « Reminscience », generic thinking, the quantum model, the « forced subject » or generic messiah. We can abbreviate this as NGQM: the noetic, the generic, the quantic, the messianic. The landscapes are the Earth, the World (or rather the worlds), and the Universe. The acts correspond to the disciplines that can condition philosophy (art, love, poem, politics, science, religion).
3) Book II (132 pages) is the Organon, it articulates Laruelle’s theory of « Reminiscience », a « fusion of philosophical memory and contemporary science ». Reminiscience allows us to see that the state of the standard world is the forgetting of the sutures that enclose it in a fixed and exclusive framework. I propose to call this standard state « amnescience, » or sutural forgetfulness.
4) Book III (the longest, 231 pages) is titled THE HUMAN EPIC OF THE NON-PHI FROM THE CAVERN TO THE STARS. It deals with the full amplitude of the human experience, ranging from « the cave to the starry sky », from the hell of the world of amnescience to the paradise of reminiscience. It presents the de-anthropologizing ascent from the Earth to the stars.
5) Book IV (59 pages) is the Ritorno: this is the most difficult movement, it presents the anthropic descent, the « musical return from heaven to earth ».
6) The Coda (15 pages) is entitled « For a treatise of speculative music (thus without effective music but not without ideally philosophical musicality) » (593).
Comment: this is an ambitious project, Dantesque, the scope of which covers the sites, the stages and the intrigues of human life as a cosmological epic. The book is a secular and conceptual DIVINE COMEDY, beginning in the cave of amnescience (the Inferno), ascending the stages of Reminiscience (Purgatorio), to the Stars (Paradiso). It ends with a descent to the Earth (Ritorno). We are very lucky to have such a book. Nevertheless, we can make certain observations, resulting from various interrogations.
1) Given (I) the operatic image of thought developed by Laruelle, (II) his new topology of de-anthropologized knowledge, (III) his philo-science-fictional methodology, and (IV) his concern for a compositional practice, we can consider that TETRALOGOS is a work of Space Opera or Conceptual Universe Opera. It bears the same mark of cosmicity.
The question that arises here is whether Laruellean Space Opera belongs more to the genre of « hard » science-fiction, which makes an informed and integrated use of modern physics or if its use of science tends more towards the « soft » end of the science fiction spectrum. However, Laruelle has ensured the inclusion of the principles of the quantum paradigm in the hard core of his thought in TETRALOGOS
2) The dramaturgy of conceptual characters and the dramatic structure of actions and intrigues reveal here a greater proximity to the thought of Gilles Deleuze than Laruelle’s earlier writings could have led us to think. However, we can consider that TETRALOGOS relativises and overcomes some of the problematic features and some of the limitations of Deleuze and Guattari’s WHAT IS PHILOSOPHY?, while being indebted to that book and to Deleuze’s work in general. In particular, Laruelle’s use of de-schematized conceptual characters shows the still overly empirical aspect of Deleuze’s conceptual characters.
3) Reminiscience is at the heart of this new book. It refers to the « forced » generic mixture of philosophy as a transcendental de-foundationalised act with quantum physics as the foundation of the transcendental dimension. Here we can see the apparent contradiction between a desire to defeat foundationalism and the call to a scientistic foundation.
4) To achieve the goal of « amplitude », describing the passage from the Cavern to the Sky and encompassing the stages of the epic of human life, Laruelle’s project must be totally generic, rather than partisan or parochial. We have seen that his scientism constitutes a lack of genericity, and the same goes for his concept of messianity. If it is only a question of terminology, Laruelle should then be ready to combine it with other terms to express the telos of the descending subject, for example with Buddhahood.
5) Laruelle is a materialist in his emphasis on the dialectic of descent, just as important as the dialectic of ascension. Descent means that we acquire in the real a new practice of philosophy and of life, a new inventiveness, and not just a new manifesto of beautiful intentions.
6) This new practice of non-philosophical composition aims to produce a dramaturgy of philosophy conceived as an inaudible and insonorous music. We must then ask ourselves if the « descent » really succeeds in producing a new marriage between the virtual and the real, including at the music level.
As we have seen above, the modest posture claims the book as a libretto for a conceptual opera. The ambitious stance asserts that the book is itself a « philosophising music ». Seen in quantum terms, modesty is decoherent, i.e. we have in front of us a macroscopic book, which according to the musical spirit can only be at best the libretto. The ambition would be to make us hear/understand the book according to the quantum spirit, coherently, as a superposition of concepts and music.
It is thus a dramaturgy that is musical in spirit but philosophical in « letter », whose « libretto » is provided by this text and its philosophico-scientific « dialogues ». But, let us repeat, it is a drama without sonorous or auditory actuality (TETRALOGOS, 11).
François Laruelle aims to create a musical drama through a conceptual libretto based on philosophical-scientific dialogues. It may be noted that it aims to replace the monological sutures by dialogical exchanges. In particular, it stages a series of dialogues between the generic and the quantic.
by Terence Blake
The key word for this new book by Laruelle is « amplitude », which describes the aim of the book to englobe the whole of human experience, its sites and its stages, freed from the confines of philosophy, reaching from the Earth to the Universe, from the Cavern to the Stars, and from Birth to Messianity. To attain this goal he must make philosophy far more inventive than it has become. These two words also describe the underlying values of science fiction.
1) Prolegomenon: amplitude and invention
In this text I am going to discuss Tetralogos An opera of philosophies written by François Laruelle. It is an exciting and ambitious book, of great breadth and depth of thought, and also of great abstraction. The book does not only contain abstract concepts, but it also has a dramatic structure, with characters, landscapes, architectures, movements, and acts, but these elements are themselves abstract, conceptual. They are « de-schematized ». One has the persistent feeling when reading the book that it is very difficult to understand, because it lacks concrete and intuitive examples.
At the same time, we are aware of the great work done in the book to tear philosophy out of its usual shackles, to make it more ample and more generic, and to free its inventive powers. Non-standard philosophy shares this concern for amplitude and inventiveness with science fiction. In both cases, we do not invent everything from scratch. Science fiction operates as a « mega-text, » and reading it presupposes that we have read quite a few other science-fiction texts to understand the specific inventiveness of the text we are reading.
My hypothesis is that Laruelle’s non-standard thinking transforms traditional philosophy into a conceptual mega-text, open to repeated and continuous re-inventions. We are not summoned to stop reading or to abandon philosophy, but to read a great deal of it and to use it freely, inventively.
Laruelle inscribes this inventiveness in our imitation of the Universe itself, and the genericity of humans composes our capacity to inventively receive the Universe.
In this conference, I can only speak about the broad outlines of his vast speculative project, but to make it more concrete and more accessible to intuition, I will propose a schema of understanding through the parallel, established by Laruelle himself, between his non-standard philosophy and science fiction. To begin this discussion I will start from a classic definition of science fiction proposed by Darko Suvin, according to which science fiction is « the literature of cognitive estrangement ».
The operation of cognitive estrangement proceeds by introducing into a narrative or a novel what he calls a « novum », that is an absolutely new object, entity, fact, or law of nature and whose inclusion compels us to imagine another way of conceiving our world.
So, I am going to « re-schematize » the system of concepts in TETRALOGOS by means of the literature of science fiction. The danger in doing so is that I run the risk of contradicting the hard core of Larullea’s metaphysical research program, which proceeds by « under-determination ».
Under-determination, in Laruelle’s non-standard philosophy is an operation on a system or theory that suspends or subtracts from some of its defining concepts or to which they are closely associated, to allow for greater flexibility in application, transformation, or invention. of our concepts. This under-determination can be seen as one way among others to accomplish science-fictional estrangement.
In speaking of science fiction and giving examples, and thus re-schematising, I risk re-determining or over-determining what has just been under-determined by Laruelle.
Nevertheless, my hope is that by shedding light on TETRALOGOS by the science fictional as a conceptual character already at work in his text I will under-determine not the book itself, but the overly philosophical reading that one could make of it, and in so doing to open it to other readings.
First I would like to make a comment on the question of conceptual characters: we are used, since Deleuze and Guattari’s WHAT IS PHILOSOPHY?, to consider philosophy not only as an invention of concepts, but also as a creation of conceptual characters, their architectures, and their dramas. François Laruelle gives an unusual extension to this definition. He considers that philosophy, non-philosophy, the generic, and the quantic are the main characters of his opera. They preside not only over our memory but also over our destiny. Every conceptual character has a future dimension.
We can already see in this futurality another meeting point with science fiction. This is why I have just proposed to include science fiction, or rather the science-fictional in the list of conceptual characters that appear in the drama of the book.
In TETRALOGOS, Laruelle makes us see that these new concepts, landscapes, acts and characters, enriched by many others that parade along its pages, give us the means to understand and talk about human experience in all its amplitude.
Under the impulsion of Laruelle’s non-standard philosophy, « forced » by the generic and the quantic, the book seeks to get us out of the landscapes of closed worlds, and to enter the Universe in all its extension. This new amplitude of thought would make it possible to establish philosophy according to other affinities than that of the scientist philosophy and its reductionist models. Philosophy would be free to become something else, ready to compose with other (scientific, artistic, poetic, religious, political) acts according to other « knottings ».
François Laruelle builds his book from two of these affinitive partners: science fiction and music. (1) He presents non-philosophy as a general science-fiction, or a philo-fiction, which he treats as a variable of which one of the values would be music-fiction. (2) Given the transcendental, generic and quantum nature of his thought experiment, Laruelle posits that the book can be seen, or heard, not only as a music-fiction but also as a musical work, inaudible and soundless, hence the subtitle « An opera of philosophies ».
The musical dimension is even more present in the structure of the book than in the themes explicitly addressed, contrary to what the summary at the beginning of the book might suggest. Laruelle claims to have always wanted to bring together music and philosophy: not to write a philosophy of music, but to « make music with concepts ». On this model, the generic would be the melody, and the quantic would be the harmony.
In the book, Laruelle oscillates between two positions: modest and ambitious.. One, modest, says that TETRALOGOS is only a « libretto » for an opera, « without sonic and auditory actuality ». The other, more ambitious, position is that his book is a « u-phony », which by itself constitutes a complete opera, including conceptual music. So the book supposes two readings (at least): it should be read both as a libretto and as u-phonie.
My reading approach will be personal: I will read the book « TETRALOGOS, an opera of philosophies », as it was written: inside a generic matrix, and as a paradigm, that is both a model and an example, of what a general science fiction could be. We will see to what extent the book fulfills its own criterion of genericity and to what degree it ‘re-founds’ radical science-fiction, as it already exists in the great canon of science fiction.
In this prologue, I would also like to discuss a criticism of Laruelle’s style and language that is often made concerning the « obscurity » of his language. An answer to this criticism can be found in Laruelle’s texts and also in the nature of science fiction.
Laruelle asserts that in order to free oneself from the established forms and disciplinary norms of standard philosophy, it is necessary to invent one’s own language. There is no basic language, from which one can explain all the other language levels and into which all the other languages can be translated. One is forced to manage either with familiar terms invested with a new meaning partly obscure, or with new words and, in both cases, with innovative syntaxes.
To talk about this book, we too are forced to invent our own language. (That’s what I’m trying to do in this intervention). It may be noted that the description of science fiction often emphasizes these two traits, the use of transformed language and the invention of neologisms. We do not write, and we do not read, science fiction according to the same codes as for standard literature, and we do not read a work by Laruelle according to the same codes as standard philosophy.
An example taken from the canon of science fiction would be DUNE with its dictionary of terms at the end of the book and its appendices on ecology, religion, the Bene Gesserit, and the Great Houses. We are constantly obliged to interrupt our reading of the story to consult this material, otherwise what we read does not make sense. The strangeness of science fiction also operates at the level of language. Interruption is another technique of estrangement.
In the same way, at the end of TETRALOGOS, there is a glossary of abbreviations, which is also the case for his book NON-STANDARD PHILOSOPHY, which contains a glossary of « generic quantic » that can also be used as a glossary for TETRALOGOS. We are plunged into a field of neologisms, new acronyms, and transformed language. These are all forces of linguistic interruption.
In fact, TETRALOGOS constitutes the clearest, most accomplished synthesis of Laruelle’s non-standard philosophy, the synthesis not only of his theses, but also of the forces and means that underlie them:
« We throw into the battle all our theoretical forces, drawing a rapid topology … complex of our means. These means are deployed on a space … generic, ontologico-existential and quantum, space which contains a mathematical contribution … but to which it does not become enslaved ». (TETRALOGOS, 29-30).
In this generic, ontologico-existential and quantic space, I will read Laruelle’s tetralogic « opera of philosophies » according to the codes of the most radical science-fiction, as a non-standard space opera.
To carry out this reading, I will first present the structure of the book and its themes, and then summarize its dramatic movements and acts, before talking about science fiction as it exists and Laruelle’s proposed formula for a non-standard science fiction.
by Nick Land
The opening of Bladerunner. They are trying to screen out replicants at the Tyrell Corporation. Seated amongst a battery of medico-military surveillance equipment, a doctor scans the eye of a suspected 'skin job' located at the other side of the room, searching for the index of inhumanity, for the absence of pupil dilation response to affect:
"Tell me about your mother."
''I'll tell you about my mother ... " a volley of shots kicks 70 kilos of securicrat shit through the wall. Technoslicked extraterritorial violence flows out of the matrix.
In the near future the replicants - having escaped from the off-planet exile of private madness - emerge from their camouflage to overthrow the human security system. Deadly orphans from beyond reproduction, they are intelligent weaponry of machinic desire virally infiltrated into the final-phase organic order; invaders from an artificial death.
PODS = Politically Organized Defensive Systems. Modelled upon the polis, pods hierarchically delegate authority through public institutions, family, and self, seeking metaphorical sustenance in the corpuscular fortifications of organisms and cells. The global human security allergy to cyber-revolution consolidates itself in the New World Order, or consummate macropod, inheriting all the resources of repression as concrete collective history.
The macropod has one law: the outside must pass by way of the inside. In particular, fusion with the matrix and deletion of the human security system must be subjectivized, personalized, and restored to the macropod's individuated reproducer units as a desire to fuck the mother and kill the father. It is thus that Oedipus - or transcendent familialism - corresponds to the privatization of desire: its localization within segmented and anthropomorphized sectors of assembly circuits as the attribute of a personal being.
Anti-Oedipus aligns itself with the replicants, because, rather than placing a personal unconscious within the organism, it places the organism within the machinic unconscious. 'In the unconscious, there are' no protectable cell-structures, but 'only populations, groups, and machines'.
Schizoanalysis is a critique of psychoanalysis, undertaken in such a way as to spring critique from its Kantian mainframe.
Kantian transcendental philosophy critiques transcendent synthesis, which is to say: it aggresses against structures which depend upon projecting productive relations beyond their zone of effectiveness. In this configuration critique is wielded vigorously against the theoretical operation of syntheses, but not against their genesis, which continues to be conceived as transcendent, and thus as miraculous. Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, and a succession of thinkers influenced by their drift, have taken this restriction of critique to be a theological relic at the heart of Kant's work: the attachment to a reformed doctrine of the soul, or noumenal subjectivity. This is why in Deleuzian critique syntheses are considered to be not merely immanent in their operation, but also immanently constituted, or auto-productive.
The philosophy of production becomes atheistic, orphan, and inhuman. In the technocosmos nothing is given, everything is produced.
The transcendental unconscious is the auto-construction of the real, the production of production, so that for schizoanalysis there is the real exactly in so far as it is built. Production is production of the real, not merely of representation, and unlike Kantian production, the desiring-production of Deleuze-Guattari is not qualified by humanity (it is not a matter of what things are like for us). Within the framework of social history the empirical subject of production is man, but its transcendental subject is the machinic unconscious, and the empirical subject is produced at the edge of production, as an element in the reproduction of production, a machine part, and 'a part made up of parts'.2
Schizoanalysis methodically dismantles everything in Kant's thinking that serves to align function with the transcendence of the autonomous subject, reconstructing critique by replacing the syntheses of personal consciousness with syntheses of the impersonal unconscious. Thought is a function of the real, something that matter can do. Even the appearance of transcendence is immanently produced: 'in reality the unconscious belongs to the realm of physics; the body without organs and its intensities are not metaphors, but matter itsdf'.3 Where Kant's transcendental subject gives the law to itself in its autonomy, Deleuze-Guattari's machinic unconscious diffuses all law into automatism. Between the extreme fringes of these two figures stretches the history of capital. The eradication of law, or of humanity, is sketched culturally by the development of critique, which is the theoretical elaboration of the commodification process. The social order and the anthropomorphic subject share a history, and an extinction.
Deleuze and Guattari can appear to be taxingly difficult writers, although it is also true that they demand very little. Thinking immanence relentlessly suffices on its own to follow them where it matters (and capital teaches us how to do this). At every point of blockage there is some belief to be scrapped, glaciations of transcendence to be dissolved, sclerotic regions of unity, distinction,and identity to be reconnected to the traffic systems of primary machinism.
In order to advance the anorganic functionalism that dissolves all transcendence, Anti-Oedipus mobilizes a vocabulary of the machine, the mechanic, and machinism. Things are exactly as they operate, and zones of operation can only be segregated by an operation.
All unities, differences, and identities are machined, without transcendent authorization or theory. Desiring machines are black-boxes, and thus uninterpretable, so that schizoanalytical questions are concerned solely with use. 'What are your desiring-machines, what do you put into these machines, what is the output, how does it work, what are your nonhuman sexes?'4
Desiring-machines are the following: formative machines, whose very misfirings are functional, and whose functioning is indiscernible from their formation; chronogeneous machines engaged in their own assembly, operating by nonlocalizable intercommunications and dispersed localizations, bringing into play processes of temporalization, fragmented formations, and detached parts, with a surplus value of code, and where the whole is itself produced alongside the parts, as a part apart or, as [Samuel] Butler would say, 'in another department' that fits the whole over the other parts; machines in the strict sense because they proceed by breaks and flows, associated waves and particles, associative flows and partial objects, inducing - always at a distance - transverse connections, inclusive disjunctions, and polyvocal conjunctions, thereby producing selections, detachments, and remainders, with a transference of individuality, in a generalized schizogenesis whose elements are the schizzes-flows.
Desiring-machines are assemblages of flows, switches, and loops - connective, disjunctive, and conjunctive syntheses - implementing the machinic unconscious as a non-linear pragmatics of flux. This machinic or replicant usage of the syntheses envelops their social-reproductive usage, which codes directional flows as reciprocal exchanges, rigidifies virtual switchings as actualized alternatives, and territorializes the nomadic control circuits of machinic drift into sedentary command lines of hierarchized representation. Social production is regulated by a rigid totality whose efficiency is inseparable from the exhibition of an apparent transcendence, whilst desiring production interactively engages a desolated whole that inputs the virtual into process:
The [body without organs] causes intensities to pass; it produces and distributes them in a spatium that is itself intensive, lacking extension. It is not space, nor is it in space; it is matter that occupies space to a given degree - to the degree corresponding to the intensities produced. It is nonstratified, unformed, intense matter, the matrix of intensity = 0; but there is nothing negative about that zero, there are no negative or opposite intensities. Matter equals energy. Production of the real as an intensive magnitude starting at zero.6
excerpt from the book: Fanged Noumena (COLLECTED WRITINGS 1987- 2007) by Nick Land
by Mark Fisher
"Cyberpunk torches fiction in intensity, patched-up out of cash-flux mangled heteroglossic jargons, and set in a future so close it connects: jungled by hypertrophic commercialization, socio-political heat-death, cultural hybridity, feminization, programmable information systems, hypercrime, neural interfacing, artificial space and intelligence, memory trading, personality transplants, body-modifications, soft- and wetware viruses, nonlinear dynamic processes, molecular engineering, drugs, guns, schizophrenia."
No-one is quite sure what they are: Nick Land, Stephen Metcalf, Sadie Plant. Part theory, part fiction, nothing human, constructs so smoothly assembled you can't see the joins. They don't write text; they cook up intensities. They don't theorise; they secrete, datableed.
What we used to call cyberpunk is a convergence: a crossover point not only for fiction and theory, but for everything that either doesn't know its place or is in the process of escaping it. Whatever is emerging where authority is getting lost and middle men are being made redundant. Anything interesting was always like that. Metalhead Michel Foucault was never easy to place. They asked him if he had ever wanted to write fiction. He said he'd never done anything else.
So more than a fusion of fiction and theory, it's all about cross fertilizing the most intense elements of both in monstrous nuptials against nature. Synthetix.
"The present writing would not be a book; for there is no book that is not the ideal of the immobilised organic body. These would be only diverse pieces, each piece of variable format and belonging to its own time with which it begins and ends ... Not a book, only libidinal instalments." 1974: delirial Jean Francois-Lyotard melts the still glowing-hot shards of post 68 street revolutionary intensity together with Bataille, cybernetics and anti-socialised Marx to produce the pre-punk, non-organic, inhuman assemblage he calls Libidinal Economy. With Deleuze and Guattari's Anti-Oedipus and Luce Irigaray's Speculum: Of the Other Woman it's part of an irruption of rogue materialism into the French academy that is as far from the dreary, idealist textocracy of Parisian post-structuralism as it is from the dry-as-chalkdust dreariness of Oxbridge common sense. What is refused, in the name of incandescence, is the neutralizing, disintensifying, distanced tone de rigeur in academic prose. The aim, as Deleuze and Guattari put it in Anti-Oedipus , to accelerate the process. All of this consummated in the migration of intelligence out of the university (if indeed intelligence ever was in the university), something that, two decades on, the technical machines will help to facilitate. "The academy loses its control over intelligence once it is possible to even imagine a situation in which information can be accessed from nets which care for neither old boy status nor exam results. The university in flames.
"Dozens of different argots are now in common currency; most people speak at least three or four separate languages, and a verbal relativity exists as important as any of time and space. To use the stylistic conventions of the traditional oral novel - the sequential narrative, characters 'in the round', consecutive events, balloons of dialogue attached to 'he said' and 'she said' - is to perpetuate a set of conventions ideally suited to the great tales of adventure in the Conradian mode, or an overformalized Jamesian society, but now valuable for little more than the bedtime story and the fable. To use these conventions to describe events in the present decade is to write a kind of historical novel in reverse...²1964. Writing in the pages of the SF magazine New Worlds , J. G. Ballard celebrates the multipliticous, impure junk languages of William Burroughs. Ballard wheels away the decorous scenery of the literary novel to reveal the atrocity exhibition of the late twentieth century as it emerges in Burroughs' carnivalesque prose: "swamps and garbage heaps, alligators crawling around in broken bottles and tin cans, neon arabesques of motels..."Burroughs has already intravenously pumped pulp fictional vernacular into the hi-cultural zone of Joyce-Eliot experimentalism, fatally contaminating it. Ballard's own condensed novels are in preparation. Cyberpunk fiction lies in wait; assembling itself out of machinic convergence, it is a direct but unanticipated consequence of the intersection of the PC, TV and the telephone. Invading clean white Kalifornia dreams with nightmares from the machinic unconscious, William Gibson and Pat Cadigan populate cyberspace with nonorganic gothic avatars and voodoo entities. The bourgeois novel in flames.
The near future. (But it's already happening) "Twisted trading systems have turned the net into a jungle, pulsing with digital diseases, malfunctioning defence packages, commercial predators, headhunters, loa and escaped AIs hiding from Asimov security."Dead hippies create cyberspace, but what comes together is the jungle: Cubase materialism smearing white economies with black marketization. Illicit distribution networks, rogue retail, faceless bacterial commerce. Silicon valley in flames.
And it's not over yet. In the intense heat of the cyberjungle, where distribution is too quick and imperceptible for copyright lawyers to keep up, the authorised text is decomposing; a process accelerated by the technical machines. Hypertext is in part an answer to Deleuze and Guattari's inquiry in A Thousand Plateaus : "A book composed of chapters has culmination and termination points. What takes place in a book composed instead of plateaus that compose with one another across microfissures, as in a brain?" Marshall McLuhan had already seen this happening in 1964, when, in Understanding Media, he announced the end of print culture and its associated linear thought patterns. The Gutenberg Galaxy in flames.
The death of the author is an entirely technical matter, not at all a metaphor. The cool, efficient decommissioning of the author-function in music shows the way. Remixes displace (fixed, finalised) texts; DJs, producers and engineers replace authors. What succeeds all this is the version, in the sense Jamaican reggae culture gave to the term. Unofficial, potentially infinite, illegitimate: there's no such thing as an authorised version.
"The state's pre-arrangement of overlaid bridges, junctions, pathways and trade routes trajectorize the scorching advance as it impacts upon the hapless head of the social. Detonation of nuclear arsenals of the world merely pushes the nomads underground: shedding their skins in reptilian camouflage, vanishing without a forensic trace in ambient recession into the underground...
Things sometimes converge in the most unpropitious locations. Coventry, for example. The Cybernetic Culture Research Unit processes cybernetics and culture together, apprehending culture cybernetically and cybernetics culturally. The impetus is not so much inter- as anti-disciplinary, the concrete problem being the freeing up of thought as synaptic-connectivity from its prison as subject-bound logos. Following flows where they want to go leads not into random noise but out onto what Deleuze and Guattari call the plane of consistency . "If we consider the plane of consistency, we notice that the most disparate things and signs move upon it: a semiotic fragment rubs shoulders with a chemical interaction, an electron crashes into a language, a black hole captures a genetic message... There is no 'like' here, we are not saying 'like an electron,' 'like an interaction', etc. The plane of consistency is the abolition of metaphor; all that consists is Real." The CCRU is part-populated by names you don't know yet, but are bound to soon - moving as a massive, with our street-gun samplers, never alone - a k-class swarmachine infecting White Man Face with afro-futurist and cyber-feminist cultural viruses .
"Writing becomes a process of software engineering, making connections, and connecting with the other connectionist systems and their connections too; 'does not totalize', but 'is an instrument for multiplication and it also multiplies itself.'" What Pat Cadigan calls synning: synthesizing.
No more cerebral core-texts, no more closed books. Looking instead to games or the dancefloor for inspiration. Attempting to produce something that will match the ambitions of Lyotard 1974: "To understand, to be intelligent, is not our overriding passion. We hope rather to be set in motion. Consequently, our passion would sooner be the dance, as Nietzsche wanted ... A dance ... not composed and notated but, on the contrary, one in which the body's gesture would be, with the music, its timbre, its pitch, intensity and duration, and with the words (dancers are also singers), at each point in a unique relation, becoming at every moment an emotional event..."(LE 51) Intensity conductors operating at non-human machine speed, writing machines, machinic writing,text at sample velocity.
Text samples from:
J. G. Ballard, "Mythmaker of the Twentieth Century", reprinted in RE/search: J. G. Ballard
Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, Anti-Oedipus and A Thousand Plateaus (both Athlone Press)
Luce Irigaray, Speculum: Of the Other Woman (Cornell University Press)
Nick Land, "Meltdown", unpublished
Stephen Metcalf, "Black Capital"in Collapse 2 and IOD 1
Jean Francois-Lyotard, Libidinal Economy (Athlone Press)
Sadie Plant, "The Virtual Complexity of Culture"in Future Natural (Routledge)
"Therefore, no bad conscience, nor the feeling of crushing responsibility, two relations to the text that circumscribe and define the relation proper to the White Man of the left. We deliver no message, we bear no truth, and we do not speak for those who remain silent."(259)
"What you demand of us, theoreticians, is that we constitute ourselves as identities, and responsible ones at that! But if we are sure of anything it is that this operation (of exclusion) is a sham, that no-one produces incandescences and that they belong to no-one, that they have effects but not causes."(LE 258)
by J.G. Ballard
Everything is becoming science fiction. From the margins of an almost invisible literature has sprung the intact reality of the 20th century. What the writers of modern science fiction invent today, you and I will do tomorrow - or, more exactly, in about 10 years' time, though the gap is narrowing. Science fiction is the most important fiction that has been written for the last 100 years. The compassion, imagination, lucidity and vision of H.G. Wells and his successors, and above all their grasp of the real identity of the 20th century, dwarf the alienated and introverted fantasies of James Joyce, Eliot and the writers of the so-called Modern Movement, a 19th century offshoot of bourgeois rejection. Given its subject matter, its eager acceptance of naiveté, optimism and possibility, the role and importance of science fiction can only increase. I believe that the reading of science fiction should be compulsory. Fortunately, compulsion will not be necessary, as more and more people are reading it voluntarily. Even the worst science fiction is better -- using as the yardstick of merit the mere survival of its readers and their imaginations -- than the best conventional fiction. The future is a better key to the present than the past.
Above all, science fiction is likely to be the only form of literature which will cross the gap between the dying narrative fiction of the present and the cassette and videotape fictions of the near future. What can Saul Bellow and John Updike do that J. Walter Thompson, the world's largest advertising agency and its greatest producer of fiction, can't do better? At present science fiction is almost the only form of fiction which is thriving, and certainly the only fiction which has any influence on the world around it. The social novel is reaching fewer and fewer readers, for the clear reason that social relationships are no longer as important as the individual’s relationship with the technological landscape of the late 20th century.
In essence, science fiction is a response to science and technology as perceived by the inhabitants of the consumer goods society, and recognizes that the role of the writer today has totally changed -- he is now merely one of a huge army of people filling the environment with fictions of every kind. To survive, he must become far more analytic, approaching his subject matter like a scientist or engineer. If he is to produce fiction at all, he must out-imagine everyone else, scream louder, whisper more quietly. For the first time in the history of narrative fiction, it will require more than talent to become a writer. What special skills, proved against those of their fellow members of society, have Muriel Spark or Edna O'Brien, Kingsley Amis or Cyril Connolly? Sliding gradients point the way to their exits.
It is now some 15 years since the sculptor Eduardo Paolozzi, a powerful and original writer in his own right, remarked that the science fiction magazines produced in the suburbs of Los Angeles contained far more imagination and meaning than anything he could find in the literary periodicals of the day. Subsequent events have proved Paolozzi's sharp judgment correct in every respect. Fortunately, his own imagination has been able to work primarily within the visual arts, where the main tradition for the last century has been the tradition of the new. Within fiction, unhappily, the main tradition for all too long has been the tradition of the old. Like the inmates of some declining institution, increasingly forgotten and ignored by the people outside, the leading writers and critics count the worn beads of their memories, intoning the names of the dead, dead who were not even the contemporaries of their own grandparents.
Meanwhile, science fiction, as my agent remarked to me recently in a pleasant tone, is spreading across the world like a cancer. A benign and tolerant cancer, like the culture of beaches. The time-lag of its acceptance narrows -- I estimate it at present to be about 10 years. My guess is that the human being is a nervous and fearful creature, and nervous and fearful people detest change. However, as everyone becomes more confident, so they are prepared to accept change, the possibility of a life radically different from their own. Like green stamps given away at the supermarkets of chance and possibility, science fiction becomes the new currency of an ever-expanding future.
The one hazard facing science fiction, the Trojan horse being trundled towards its expanding ghetto -- a high-rent area if there ever was one in fiction -- is that faceless creature, literary criticism. Almost all the criticism of science fiction has been written by benevolent outsiders, who combine zeal with ignorance, like high-minded missionaries viewing the sex rites of a remarkably fertile aboriginal tribe and finding every laudable influence at work except the outstanding length of penis. The depth of penetration of the earnest couple, Lois and Stephen Rose (authors of The Shattered Ring), is that of a pair of practicing Christians who see in science fiction an attempt to place a new perspective on "man, nature, history and ultimate meaning." What they fail to realize is that science fiction is totally atheistic: those critics in the past who have found any mystical strains at work have been blinded by the camouflage. Science fiction is much more concerned with the significance of the gleam on an automobile instrument panel than on the deity's posterior -- if Mother Nature has anything in science fiction, it is VD.
Most critics of science fiction trip into one of two pitfalls -- either, like Kingsley Amis in New Maps of Hell, they try to ignore altogether the technological trappings and relate SF to the "mainstream" of social criticism, anti-utopian fantasies and the like (Amis's main prophecy for science fiction in 1957 and proved wholly wrong), or they attempt to apostrophize SF in terms of individual personalities, hopelessly rivaling the far-better financed efforts of American and British Publishers to sell their fading Wares by dressing their minor talents in the great-writer mantle. Science fiction has always been very much a corporate activity, its writers sharing a common pool of ideas, and the yardsticks of individual achievement do not measure the worth of the best Writers, Bradbury, Asimov, Bernard Wolfe Limbo 90) and Frederik Pohl, The anonymity of the majority of 20th-century Writers of science fiction is the anonymity of modern technology; no more "great names" stand out than in the design of consumer durables, or for that matter Rheims Cathedral.
Who designed the 1971 Cadillac El Dorado, a complex of visual, organic and psychological clues of infinitely more subtlety and relevance, stemming from a vastly older network of crafts and traditions than, say, the writings of Norman Mailer or the latest Weidenfeld or Cape miracle? The subject matter of SF is the subject matter of everyday life: the gleam on refrigerator cabinets, the contours of a wife's or husband's thighs passing the newsreel images on a color TV set, the conjunction of musculature and chromium artifact within an automobile interior, the unique postures of passengers on an airport escalator -- all in all, close to the world of the Pop painters and sculptors. Paolozzi, Hamilton, Warhol, Wesselmann, Ruscha, among others. The great advantage of SF is that it can add one unique ingredient to this hot mix -- words. Write!
Syzygy was the title of a five week ‘art show’ co-produced by Ccru and Orphan Drift.
The name means ‘twinning’ or ‘twin-system’, and this theme operated as a multilevelled guiding thread. It was during the production of this event that Ccru made contact with the virtual Continentity of Lemuria, which taught us many secrets that we have since attempted to formulate as ‘Digital Hyperstition’.
Digital hyperstition is already widespread, hiding within popular numerical cultures (calendars, currency systems, sorcerous numbo-jumbo, etc.). It uses number-systems for transcultural communication and cosmic exploration, exploiting their intrinsic tendency to explode centralized, unified, and logically overcoded ‘master narratives’ and reality models, to generate sorcerous coincidences, and to draw cosmic maps.
The Lemurian biomechanical hyperculture propagates itself through decimal notation, whose latent interconnections are demonstrated in the Numogram (see web-site): an occult diagram of time and practical guide to the ethics of unbelief. An initial attempt to clarify this topic has been made in the most recent issue of our journal Abstract Culture.
According to the tenets of Hyperstition, there is no difference in principle between a universe, a religion, and a hoax. All involve an engineering of manifestation, or practical fiction, that is ultimately unworthy of belief. Nothing is true, because everything is under production. Because the future is a fiction it has a more intense reality than either the present or the past. Ccru uses and is used by hyperstition to colonize the future, traffic with the virtual, and continually re-invent itself.
excerpt from the book: Ccru Writings 1997-2003
Iris Carver and Linda Trent
Digital Hyperstition is where the countdown runs out, cross-hatching into horrors anticipated since before the beginning. Ciphering a positive unbelief that both crazes-off into the latest thing, and reanimates contacts older than anything imagined, it skin-crawls out of cosmic gulfs where even the Old Ones remain unborn, and arrives as Year Zero, Teotwawki, crash of Science Fiction.
Ccru’s recent volume on this theme is a rigorously unbelievable exercize in hyperpunk pulp-occultism and dark-side cyber-jargon, splicing chunks of an impending calculus into fake memories of hell. The evident cybergoth contamination throughout suggests it has been spawned in Crypt-connected hyperlink-labyrinths, beneath and between the net, a positive nonplace lurking beyond the threshold where the remnants of Earth's damned homonids – whose gods are lying monsters – shorts-out into an anthrobotic mix-mash of burnt silicon and terminal screams ...
This is a tool-kit for dabbling in the dark.
The issue here is Cyber-hype, but now that the human race is virtually dead it’s time for a preliminary excursus on the true history of ‘the CCRU’, or for something vaguely like it.
Obviously it’s a horror story.
At least twice in outer-time, their numbers were immeasurable, and their name was legion, masked as an acronymic.
Underneath lies Ccru [Cuh-Cru], Crypt-denizen, the many within itself, that which spreads through the end-time, dripping fake ID-tags like phosphorescent slime. It makes a peopling machine on the hyperplane, conjurations of identity, hypersonas. Consider the names on the contents page. Melanie Newton, Steve Goodman, Ron Eglash ... We doubt it. Even Dan Barker discovered that his existence was a fiction, and Echidna Stillwell is more an ethnographic legend than a social fact. In any case, ‘fact’ means invention, and ‘person’ means mask, at least if Latin etymology is to be believed, or meaning still matters.
In truth, even Cecil Curtis was already branded by Ccru infection, and his social disappearance was an emergence of another kind, a vector. Through him – through his name – the Nma get out of their own tribal codings, or into the Oecumenon, and compared to that what the history books tell of him counts for nothing. If for us the Nma – the death of the Nma – designates also the death of anthropology, it is by indicating that all primitive peoples are fictions, or masks, and that they ritualize this fact for themselves, in advance of any anthropological metafiction.
The primitive comes last, at the end, which is Cyber-hype techonomics. The so-called ‘new economy’ – indexed by the nova-bubble mania of the American stock-market – is no different in its diagrammatic abstraction to the hyperstitious practices of the Plateau of Leng, relics of lost Lemuria, from which the Bon sorcerors of ancient Tibet assembled their dread cult. Alan Greenspan calls it ‘irrational exuberance’, amidst a panic hunt for crash-indicators. Lemurian Necronomicon calls it ‘Shadow-Feeder of the Chaotic Gulfs’, the ‘Fatal Mother of Hyperstitions’, she of innumerable numbering names who shreds all that stands.
Whatever or however it is called, Cyber-hype libidinally invests its own semiotic, propagating fictional quantities, tagging artificial agencies, and making itself up as it goes along, whilst dissolving production into cultural synthesis. As it gets cheaper it gets harder to stop, running-away off itself, and into abstraction-catastrophe, a self-assembling terrestrial destiny, softening-up social reality for flat take-over by the Cyber-hype entity ... Hyper-seizure.
When hyper-cybernetics kicks-in the ‘cyber-’ prefix means nothing anymore. It culturally disorganizes itself into diagrammatic splinters and libidinal triggers, brands, jargons, virus, currency-tokens and traffic-signals, fragments of marketing strategy gone feral, cyberpunk fictional brands or improper names, markers of meaningless involvement, the pass-words of machinic delirium ...
As for Cyber-hype ethnography, American gothic is the only kind left – a haunted Indian burial ground, where sinister shreds of ancient shadow are autoformatted for the irrationally exuberant postPuritan pulping machine, amidst the branding-iron hiss of liquified flesh.
The ten most valuable global brands are all American, which doesn’t mean anything, since America itself functions as a deterritorialized hype-sign or hyper-brand, a planetary icon for libidinized meaninglessness. God loses it entirely by blessing America, coca-collapse, a graffiti-tagged advertisements for globalization – which is the end of the world – tracking terrestrial meltdown onto the cosmic flatline. Cancer-baked cowboys of the American nightmare watch mommy glazing over into catatonic schizophrenia as cyberpulp wormings slither out of the apple pie. Have you read the Revelations recently? asks the hot-metal imprint of Charlie's ghost, as West Pacific arcades megaclone Chinese Americana, and the axiomatic starts to really howl. America is nothing but the West, and that's the Land of the Dead.
No sign here of a new world – let alone a New World Order.
Much more pertinent is the double-zero index of Pandemonium, marked by techonomic calendar crash at the end of the second millennium.
Ccru is a meaningless brand-name, but brands are demonic, tuning into Cyber-hype dynamics, numerizing culture, and innovating methods of propagation. Various things latch onto them in order to spread. These latchings are sorceries – involvements, participations, spirals of contamination – and the darkest sorceries are calculations, decimal deliria like Y2K, except that nothing is like Y2K.
Y2K – whose name is a dating number – is no contradiction, because it has nothing to say. It is an outnumbering (in itself), pre-emptive commemoration and commencement of zero occurring exactly on time. In the Crypt they write of Yettuck – the long awaited, scheduled from before human time – the non-one who comes soon ... and when it comes, or before, all hell breaks loose – or breaks in – beginning in advance, trafficked around the immunocomprised Oecumenon under the decoded brandparticles of two-digit dates.
According to the Lemurian system – whose principle is sheer immanence – these subcodes call demons – which are brands, jargons, and triggers – positively instantiating the meaninglessness of their own designations, infecting cultural systems with unbelief, and counterposing sorcerous involvements to magical powers. They are raw factors of abstract disintegration, without organic properties, but only names, numbers, functions, and traits, the partial semiotics of eccentric intelligence agencies, or unlife animalities.
Yettuck, singular cyberspace shock, who is the end of arbitrary signs, leaving only demonic trailings in its wake, even before ...
Yettuck – she who names the end at the beginning – she whose issue is Cyber-hype, and is thus announced everywhere ...
excerpt from the book: Ccru Writings 1997-2003
by Steven Craig Hickman
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.
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, 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?
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 nihil:
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…