The Revolving Door and the Straight Labyrinth: An Initiation in Occult Time (Part 1)
by Amy Ireland
A script from the absolute unknown, how do you even begin to think about that? “Meaning” is a diversion. It evokes too much empathy. You have to ask, instead, what is a message? In the abstract? What’s the content, at the deepest, most reliable level, when you strip away all the presuppositions that you can? The basics are this. You’ve been reached by a transmission. That’s the irreducible thing. Something has been received. [And] to get in, it had to be there, already inside, waiting. Don’t you see? The process of trying to work it out — what I had thought was the way, eventually, to grasp it — to unlock the secret, it wasn’t like that. That was all wrong. It was unlocking me.1
We never find those who understand philosophers among philosophers.2
So we are confronted by a triad of mysteries: the death or otherwise of Lönnrot, the disappearance of Carter into the coffin-shaped clock, and the deliquescence of Professor Challenger as he absconds both slowly and hurriedly towards an invisible point below the strata. There is a blurry edge in all detective work that, as Borges too competently demonstrates, skirts a zig-zag threshold between apophenia and the truly canny connection of events that only appear, superficially, to be disconnected. In the name of a method that is closer to invocation than criticism, a reckless detective might refrain from determining exactly where an act of decryption lies on the ugly terrain of legitimacy and, proffering sanity as the stake, live up to the problem as it stands. The greatest puzzles are always a delicate balance of intrication and simplicity. What if a single answer were capable of resolving all three of these strange cases — blinding in its solvent consistency?
In Kant’s Critical Philosophy, Difference and Repetition, his nineteen-seventies lectures at Paris-VIII, and in a late, expanded reformulation of the preface to the first of these works (appearing in Essays Clinical and Critical), Deleuze pairs and contrasts two schemata of time: the time of the ‘revolving door’, and the time of the ‘straight labyrinth’.3 Quoting Hamlet, who furnishes the first of the four poetic formulas he will relate to the innovations of Kant’s philosophy, Deleuze writes
Time is out of joint, time is unhinged. The hinges are the axis on which the door turns. The hinge, Cardo, indicates the subordination of time to precise cardinal points, through which the periodic movements it measures pass. As long as time remains on its hinges, it is subordinated to extensive movement; it is the measure of movement, its interval or number. This characteristic of ancient philosophy has often been emphasised: the subordination of time to the circular movement of the world as the turning Door, a revolving door, a labyrinth opening onto its eternal origin. [C’est la porte-tambour, le labyrinthe ouverte sur l’origine éternelle.]
Time out of joint, the door off its hinges, signifies the first great Kantian reversal: movement is now subordinated to time. Time is no longer related to the movement it measures, but rather movement to the time that conditions it. Moreover, movement is no longer the determination of objects, but the description of a space, a space we must set aside in order to discover time as the condition of action. Time thus becomes unilinear and rectilinear, no longer in the sense that it would measure a derived movement, but in and through itself, insofar as it imposes the succession of its determination on every possible movement. This is a rectification of time. Time ceases to be curved by a God who makes it depend on movement. It ceases to be cardinal and becomes ordinal, the order of an empty time. […] The labyrinth takes on a new look — neither a circle nor a spiral, but a thread, a pure straight line, all the more mysterious in that it is simple, inexorable, terrible — “the labyrinth made of a single straight line which is indivisible, incessant”.4
The contrast between these two figures is due, first and foremost, to the relationship between time and movement they express. In the schema of the revolving door, time is twice subordinated: first, to a transcendent eternity which provides the rational model for the ordering of movement, and second, to the rationally-ordered movement from which time’s number is derived (the aperture ‘onto the eternal origin’ constituted by the resonance of copy with model). In the schema of the straight labyrinth, movement is subordinated to time, which conditions movement, inaugurating a reversal of priority between the two and a shift from a spatialised classification of the difference to a temporal one.5 The pairing of the two figures is more enigmatic. Since the former reappears as a functional attribute of the particle-clock (“the assemblage serving as a revolving door” [l’agencement qui servait comme d’une porte-tambour]), that strange vehicle which facilitates the disappearances of Carter and Challenger in “Through the Gates of the Silver Key” and “The Geology of Morals”, and the latter clearly invokes the straight labyrinth (“the labyrinth made of a single straight line which is indivisible, incessant”) used by Lönnrot to riddle Sharlach in the confrontation at the Villa Triste-le-Roy, both seem to conceal passageways by which escape from specific geometrical tyrannies — indexed here by extensity, cardinality, and ‘a space we must set aside’ — may be effectuated.6However, given the fact that the revolving door seems to implement the geometrical conditions it somehow also affords an exit from, and the obvious preference Deleuze (as a transcendental philosopher) exhibits for the straight labyrinth as a ‘rectification’ of time, the counterintuitive nature of this proposition is not easily brushed aside. Deeper exploration is required.
Revolving Door I: The Time of Philosophers and Theologians
In the history of Western philosophy, the revolving door is the archetypal image of pre-critical temporality. It takes its coordinates first from astronomical movements, and then from terrestrial ones: the rotation of planets and seasons.7 These revolutions, confining time to motion and phenomenality, are held in contrast to what is outside them and what has been said to have engendered them — an ever-present but non-manifest, spatiotemporally unconditioned, unified mind or essence. In his lectures, Deleuze links this figure of time, curved by the hand of a god, to “the arc of the demiurge which makes circles” in the account given by Plato’s Timaeus.8
Since the model was an ever-living being, [the demiurge] undertook to make this universe of ours the same as well, or as similar as it could be. But the being that served as the model was eternal, and it was impossible for him to make this altogether an attribute of any created object. Nevertheless, he determined to make it a kind of moving likeness of eternity, and so in the very act of ordering the universe he created a likeness of eternity, a likeness that progresses eternally through the sequence of numbers, while eternity abides in oneness.9
Timaeus, an expert astronomer who has “specialised in natural science” refers several times to his cosmogony as an ἐικός λόγος (a ‘likely account’), a play on words drawing on the relation between εἰκόνες and ἐικός meant to reinforce the notion of the cosmos as a likeness — the imperfect copy of a perfect original.10 Here, worldly imperfection is due to the changeability of the contents of the copy, which unlike their eternal origin, are subject to time:
This image of eternity is what we have come to call ‘time’, since along with the creation of the universe [the demiurge] devised and created days, nights, months, and years, which did not exist before the creation of the universe. They are all parts of time, and ‘was’ and ‘will be’ are created aspects of time which we thoughtlessly and mistakenly apply to that which is eternal. For we say that it was, is, and will be, when in fact only ‘is’ truly belongs to it, while ‘was’ and ‘will be’ are properties of things that are created and that change over time, since ‘was’ and ‘will be’ are both changes. What is for ever consistent and unchanging, however, does not have the property of becoming older or younger with the passage of time; it was not created at some point, it has not come into existence just now, and it will not be created in the future. As a rule, in fact, none of the modifications that belong to the things that move about in the sensible world, as a result of having been created, should be attributed to it; they are aspects of time as it imitates eternity and cycles through the numbers.11
There is no measurable time prior to the demiurge’s imposition of order on a previously disordered cosmos, composed only of confused matter and erratic motion. Because time arises from movement, only a perfectly regular and harmonious totality of cosmic motion will install temporality in the rational manner required to produce a sufficiently faithful copy of the model. This imposition of formal regularity is not, however, without complication. Deleuze’s emphasis on the motif of circularity arises from the description, first, of the demiurge ensuring that the matter of the universe is “perfectly spherical, equidistant in all directions from its centre to the extremes”, “freeing” its primary motion from imbalance by giving it a “circular movement … setting it spinning at a constant pace in the same place and within itself”, and then, with the totality of the matter of the universe thus arranged, of the inauguration of a complex process of division and mixing for the purpose of imbuing the assemblage with a soul, which the demiurge creates via the combination of two media: the “indivisible and never changing”, and the “divided and created substance of the physical world” (the former indexing identity, the latter, difference) obtaining a third medium with aspects of both, thus allowing for a flow of information between the formal and the phenomenal.12
He then blends the indivisible with the divisible and the alloy of the indivisible and divisible, fashioning from the tripartite mixture a homogenous whole, but not without effort, for “getting difference to be compatible with identity [takes] force, since difference does not readily form mixtures”.13 Despite the complexity, might and skill brought to the work of ordering by the demiurge (who is a craftsman, after all), a material remainder — what Deleuze will call “the unequal in itself” — still persists, and further blending is required.14 This involves a tortured series of intervallic material distributions from which the demiurge finally extracts an obedient harmony.15 The mixture is then split into strips, laid out like an X and folded together into two revolving circles, the outer circle — containing “the equal in the form of the movement of the Same” — revolves with the primary movement of the cosmos and is justly named “the revolution of identity” while the inner circle — revolving at an angle to the circle of identity — contains the eight then-known “planets” (including the sun and the moon) along with “what subsists of inequality in the divisible” by distributing it among the planetary orbits, and bears the denomination “the revolution of difference”.16 This latter grounds the derivation of time.
The Great Symmetrical Cycle
Because it is “the shared task” of the heavenly bodies “to produce time”, a considerable portion of the “Timaeus” is dedicated to a geometrical description of planetary ambulation, offering precise calculations of each planet’s orbit which, when taken together, add up to an internally and externally harmonious totality (each orbit internally relative to the others, and the whole externally relative to the revolution of the circle of identity): the world’s year.17 This single, great revolution yields “the perfect number of time” and is marked by the “moment when all the eight revolutions, with their relative speeds, attain completion and regain their starting points”, resetting the cycle of the circle of difference in relation to the circle of identity.18 Pre-critical time is thus simply the organisation and rationalisation of a prior, chaotic, spatiality in response to the exigencies of a divine model which exists both outside space and time. A great compass, dividing a cosmic sphere into equal and predictable portions, priming its matter for technological and cultural capture: the seasonal arithmetic that will come to ground agriculture; the compartmentalisation of the day, the week and the year into periods devoted alternatively to the sacred or the profane; the striations of latitude facilitating oceanic navigation, cartography, imperialism, and the proportional fastidiousness of classical architecture and art.
An exclusive disjunction (the abiding feature of monotheistic religion) administrates the distinction between eternity and the cosmos as the ordered structure of secondary appearances. Held apart from the eternal and locked down by matter and movement, this turning according to number is only an auxiliary, fallen ‘image’. A simulation generated and managed by a fully exteriorised and transcendent non-time, which functions as the ultimate measure against which every determinate object falls into a static and immutable hierarchical series whose order can never be shifted, interrogated, or affected by feedback from within. Because it continues to be tethered to a transcendent realm which imposes teleological order, the most generous aberration allowed to time — one “marked by material, meteorological and terrestrial contingencies” — still remains derivative of movement.19 ‘Time’ beyond revolution is transcendent, tenseless, authoritative and persistent. The revolving door is therefore a dualistic image of temporality, inserting a gap between the hierarchically organised, oppositional qualities of idea and appearance; unity and variation; identity and difference; indivisibility and divisibility; being and becoming, good and evil, inside and outside — its borders stalked by the constabulary of the laws of thought, and god. It is, as Luce Irigaray tirelessly anatomises in “Plato’s Hystera”, the time — as space — of the Platonic cave, a “theatrical trick” designed to inaugurate the great “circus” of representation via the circular repetition of the same. The cave’s anterior tunnel leads upward into the light.
Upward — this notation indicates from the very start that the Platonic cave functions as an attempt to give an orientation to the reproduction and representation of something that is always already there. […] The orientation functions by turning everything over, by reversing, and by pivoting around axes of symmetry..20
The cardinal points of the compass, or four wings of the door’s turning hinge, exhibit the spatialisation of time inherent to the image. The law of its number is cardinality — quantitative measurement of internally homogenous content — and a representational form of numeracy. Being a sphere, it is intrinsically symmetrical. In this way, space and time are confined to the double homogeneity of extension and simultaneity — to the circus of representational reproduction and its clowns, whose comedy is always enacted in the mode of farce, a repetition that always “falls short” of its model.21There are, therefore, only “proportions, functions, [and] relations” available inside the simulation that can be referred “back to sameness”.22 And this sameness is at once the model for the beautiful, the truthful, and the good — astronomical rationality providing the exemplar for human aesthetic, epistemological and moral order.
Man, as a rational animal equipped with the ability to observe and understand these relations, is ontologically at home in the universe of the revolving door. Human cognition and sensibility, when exercised correctly, are perfectly resonant with the structure of phenomena. Thought thus naturally inclines towards the law that the demiurge embodies and by extension, to the model from which the universe has been copied. Psychology, cosmology and rationality are bound in cosmic rhyme. This is precisely what the latter part of the Timaeus then turns to, linking the account it has just given of human perception, especially that of sight, to our ability to infer the universal law of the good, the beautiful, and the true, and to reproduce it on a microcosmic level, specifically through the practice of philosophy.23 Plato’s cosmos is teleologically assured by the perfection of the demiurge, and opposes both accounts of cosmogenesis more sympathetic to contingency, chance and natural selection (such as those of Empedocles, Leucippus and Democritus, which offer explanations exhibiting an awkward but prescient Darwinism) and the immanent teleology of Aristotle. Revolution thus has a moral content, and Timaeus concludes his account of cosmogenesis by stating that,
since the movements that are naturally akin to our divine part are the thoughts and revolutions of the universe, these are what each of us should be guided by as we attempt to reverse the corruption of the circuits in our heads, that happened around the time of our birth, by studying the harmonies and revolutions of the universe.24
In this way, “we will restore our nature to its original condition” achieving “our goal” of living “now and in the future, the best life that the gods have placed within human reach”.25 The importance of sight to the practice of philosophy is insisted upon here because it alone of all the senses provides us with access to the law of number (and by extension, a model of perfect morality) embedded in the rotations of the planets.26 Vision is thus the most morally-attuned sense, the conduit of goodness and beauty, and the base upon which one can realise the latent harmoniousness of one’s own relation to the universe. These ‘corrupt circuits’ in need of correction reprise the wandering of the planets prior to the ordering of their movements by the demiurge, and not insignificantly, ‘wanderer’ (πλάνης), ‘illusion’, ‘deceit’ or ‘discursivity’ (πλάνη) and ‘planet’ (πλάνητας ἀστήρ — wandering star) all share a similar root in ancient Greek, with Plato using the term ‘planomenon’ (πλανόμενον) elsewhere to mean ‘errant’.27 Truth emerges in inverse proportion to the itinerant dithyramb of material insubordination. Timaeus completes the moral lesson of cardinality, vision and aspirational goodness with a warning. Men who live “unmanly or immoral lives” are destined to fall farther down the series of good and perfect beings in harmony with the order of the universe, being “reborn in their next incarnation as women”.28
The return to sameness, finally, ensures that the universe will not degrade or dissolve of its own accord. While “the model exists for all eternity”, “the universe was and is and always will be for all time”, unless the demiurge explicitly wishes it to be so (“anything created by me is imperishable unless I will it”); so long as the world remains in harmony, this dissolution will not occur — a threat monotheism will make much of in the epochs to come.29 Hence the biblical prophecies of apocalypse such as that which suggests that when the day arrives, the heavens will depart “as a scroll when it is rolled together”, inflected back into the curved palm of its god.30 Broadened beyond its exemplary delineation in the “Timaeus”, the revolving door thus becomes a cipher for temporal dualisms in general. Truth is located in a lost transcendence (the indivisible, god, eternity), obtainable only at a delay via religion or via the work of philosophical contemplation shepherded by vision — the decanting of a priori knowledge from empirical experience, which prior to Kant, denoted a separate and transcendent ideality. If there is knowledge of this fallenness and of the perfection of that other realm inside that of the world of motion and change, this can only be so because ‘man’ is made in the image of a god, or has forgotten something he once knew.31 Thought is inherently linked with its ground via an internal isomorphism — a rhyme — acting as the guarantor of its intuitions of damnation and error, whose causes are always external. Its correlative subject is moral or epistemological: the theologian or the philosopher, compelled to discover the realm of essences behind the veil of appearances.
There is, as there always is, a sexual difference attached to the dualism. Historically, the material, fallen aspect of time-as-variation is feminised, secondary, and passive. Timaeus calls it the “receptacle”, “the mother”, “the nurse and the nurturer of the universe” and characterises it via all the emblems of lack: it is “altogether characterless”, a bare medium for the production of formed elements; passive (“it only ever acts as the receptacle for everything”); it operates through mimicry (“[i]ts nature is to … be modified and altered by the things that enter it, with the result that it appears different at different times”) having no nature of its own, and is “difficult” and “obscure”, while the creative force untouched by temporality — that which energises representation as a condition of the feminised matter it circumscribes — is primary, active, de-substantialised, and masculine.32 “It would not be out of place to compare the receptacle to a mother, the source to a father, and what they create between them to a child.”33 Is there a neater epithet to describe the age-old pact between reproduction and representation?
Sensible, material, and bound in harmonious relation to a transcendent non-time, pre-critical temporality is irrevocably secondary and modal. The time of the revolving door is a mode of eternity, the essential structure of which appears to us as a succession of moments — extensive, cardinal, homogenous — arranged in a cyclical repetition of the same, with a spatial line delimiting outside from inside.34 As Deleuze puts it, “all the time of antiquity is marked by a modal character … time is a mode and not a being, no more than number is a being. Number is a mode in relation to what it quantifies, in the same way that time is a mode in relation to what it measures”.35 In a world for which time is a mere, cardinalised image of the eternal, held apart from it in a relation of exclusive disjunction, administered by a god, all experience is that of a subject condemned to reckon, neurotically, with its originary imperfection. The great line demarcating outside from inside assigns interiority to time and exteriority to the non-time of eternity via a spatial horizon. A definitionally beautiful misconception of the topology of time, but a misconception nonetheless.36
Straight Labyrinth I: The Time of Economists and Poets
The circle must be abandoned as a faulty principle of return; we must abandon our tendency to organize everything into a sphere. All things return on the straight and narrow by way of a straight and labyrinthine line.37
‘Rectifying’ the celestial or meteorological temporality of the revolving door, the figure of time expressed in the straight labyrinth emerges in Deleuze’s various accounts as “the time of the city” and also that of the “desert”.38 The subordination of time to space and motion dissolves into the contentless, temporal determination of the empirical by an immanent yet abstract process. Deleuze notes that Kant was able to apprehend this due to his historical and geographical situation — virtually immobilised in his Königsberg study, yet sensitive to subterranean tremors — deep in the heart of Europe during the ignition of modern industrialisation. There is an embedded double reference to capitalist temporality, brought to light by Marx’s statement in the Grundrisse, that
Capital by its nature drives beyond every spatial barrier. Thus the creation of the physical conditions of exchange — of the means of communication and transport — the annihilation of space by time -- becomes an extraordinary necessity for it …
and to Friedrich Hölderlin’s “Notes on the Oedipus”, leading Deleuze to state that “it is correct to claim that neither Fichte nor Hegel is the descendent of Kant — rather it is Hölderlin, who discovers the emptiness of pure time”.39 If the industrial city is also a desert, it is the Athenian desert of the Sophoclean tragedies, for, as Hölderlin writes, Oedipus is remarkable in its uniquely modern conception of the genre, in which “God and man communicate in the all-forgetting form of unfaithfulness”.40 Oedipus, like the subject of the First Critique,
forgets both himself and the God and, in a sacred manner, of course, turns himself round like a traitor. For at the most extreme edge of suffering, nothing exists beside the conditions of time or space. Man forgets himself there because he is wholly in the moment; and God, because he is nothing else than time. And both are unfaithful: time, because at such a moment it reverses categorically — beginning and end simply cannot be connected; and man, because at this moment he must follow the categorical reversal, and therefore simply cannot be in the following what he was in the beginning.41
Hölderlin’s identification of a ‘categorical reversal’ in the dual turning-away of god and man is taken up by Deleuze as the mark that indicates a historical transition in the schemata of time, and in turn, the relation this reversal installs between the two sides of the disjunctive couple. With the figure of Oedipus, the initial shift from the temporality of the revolving door to that of the straight labyrinth is consecrated, and — following Hölderlin’s interpretation — coincides with a truly modern sense of time, a time that is inherently tragic, but in an unprecedented way. While Plato’s arc of integrated planetary motion is always returning — like the great cyclical tragedies of Aeschylus — to a state of equilibrium, ending where it began, Hölderlin’s Oedipus is “traversed by a straight line which tears him along” with “murderous slowness” towards an enigmatic dissolution at an unknown coordinate in the shifting desert sands: and “Towards what? Nothing”.42 The distinction between ancient and modern tragic forms — and elsewhere, between farce and tragedy — is determined by the placement of the limit with which the hero interacts. In the ancient conception of the genre, tragedy conforms to the exclusive disjunction operating under the aegis of the gods. The limit with which the hero comes into conflict is external, manifested in a law that is then transgressed by some excessive act for which the hero must atone, triggering a return to order.43 Deleuze sees in this cycle of limit, transgression and return, a perfect isomorphism with the schema of the revolving door.
[T]his tragic time is modelled on astronomical time since in astronomical time you have the sphere of fixed points which is precisely the sphere of perfect limitation, you have the planets and the movements of the planets which, in a certain way, break through the limit, then you have the atonement, which is to say the re-establishment of justice since the planets find themselves in the same position again.44
The cycle is reinforced by the act of transgression, harmony is reinstated between the realm of the gods and the realm of men, and we know in advance the lesson that will be learned.45 But something different happens for Oedipus. The limit he encounters is no longer external, having shifted simultaneously closer and further away — the threshold dividing gods from men, and time from space, is both interior to Oedipus and beyond him — it has become “enigmatic”.46 It cleaves him in two and drives him towards an infinity that rises up to meet him in an “all-forgetting form of unfaithfulness”, annihilating him at Colonus whilst looping him back upon himself.47 Following Hölderlin’s idiosyncratic, Kantian reading of the text, the Sophoclean tragedy is condensed into an infernal play of diversion and re-orientation as Oedipus is forced to confront himself in the form of an infinite self-displacing horizon which draws him across the deflated denouement of King Oedipus and into the relentless modern desert of Oedipus at Colonus.48
Oedipus’ time is no longer the cyclical time of return to a founding order, but a simple, straight line which complicates everything. The limit manifests both as a temporal fracture interior to Oedipus’ vexed subjectivity and a point to which he tends — “the gap of an in-between, which occasions, finally, a loss of self”.49 There is no atonement for Oedipus, although there is a tribunal — and a crime. He is not subject to a hero’s death, only a long and desolate exile (a little too long to be comfortable) to which he voluntarily submits in the absence of divine directive.50 Thus Oedipus “turns himself round like a traitor”, but in a sacred manner — the trial becoming what Jean Beaufret (the Hölderlin commentator Deleuze draws most visibly on besides a few cursory gestures towards Heidegger, who he cites laconically in Difference and Repetition and the lectures on Kant), names both a “heresy” and an “initiation” — and is “returned to himself” in two ways.51 First, in terms of the mythic narrative, as the cause of himself (Oedipus is the cause of the plague that causes Oedipus) and more enigmatically at the terminus of his abstractly interminable wanderings, where he ‘returns’ in such a way that he can no longer be what he was in the beginning.
When the god who “is nothing more than time”, finally, and not without an irony that is unique to Hölderlin’s translation (“Why are we delaying? Let’s go! You are too slow!”), enables his demise, we are denied the catharsis that typically accompanies the spectacle of the hero’s death.52 “What happened?” implores the chorus of the small party that has accompanied Oedipus to the threshold beyond which only he and Theseus are allowed to pass.53 The response is a brief and integrally obscure report.54 It is speculated that Oedipus has vanished into “the earth’s foundations” which “gently opened up and received him with no pain” or was “lifted away to the far dark shore” by “a swift invisible hand”, the prolonged arrival of his death heralded by thunder and strange surges of lightning, illuminating, briefly, the hidden diagonal that haunts the in-between of sky and ground, the realm of the gods and the realm of men.55 In the cracks of the Kantian machinery a different disjunction momentarily rears its faceless mien, whilst at the end of the line, “death loses itself in itself” and Oedipus, “having nothing left to hide” becomes “the guardian of a secret”.56 Between these two returns, the modern tragic figure is split across time both intensively and extensively as its own internal and external limit and source. The Sophoclean line does not restore a temporality of lost equilibrium, as is the rule in classical tragedy, but ends unresolved, internally perturbed, and terminally out of balance.
Oedipus plays an ambivalent role in Deleuze’s writing. Like the shaman and the despot he is always double.57 Carlo Ginzberg makes the connection between shamanic practices and the Oedipus myth explicit in Ecstasies — his trans-temporal, trans-spatial study of the witches’ sabbath — where he finds in the motif of the swollen foot (which gives Oedipus his name) the mytho-cultural stamp of the shamanic initiate whose journey leads inexorably to the realm of the dead.58 Oedipus incarnates, as such, the mythical archetype of the dying god, which links him enigmatically with Christ and Dionysus.59 Moreover, the persistence of lameness, monosandalism, bodily maiming, or an unbalanced gait among the vast swathe of myths and cultural practices included in Ginzberg’s study reveals a fundamental trait attributable to all beings who, like Oedipus, are “suspended between the realm of the dead and the realm of the living”: “Anyone who goes to or returns from the nether world — man, animal, or a mixture of the two — is marked by an asymmetry.”60 This asymmetry, at once abstract and empirical, is measured against a perceived natural symmetry that keeps the social realm in harmony with the circular world of revolving seasons and astronomical cycles — coordinates that return the cycle to its beginning. “The trans-cultural diffusion of myths and rituals revolving around physiological asymmetry”, writes Ginzberg, “most probably sinks its psychological roots in this minimal, elementary perception that the human species has of itself”, namely the “recognition of symmetry as a characteristic of human beings”. Thus, “[a]nything that modifies this image on a literary or metaphorical plane therefore seems particularly suited to express an experience that exceeds the limits of what is human”.61 Mythical lameness symbolises an otherworldly incursion, a problematic asymmetry that intrudes upon a so-called natural humanity and opens a passage between worlds.
Ginzberg also notes in passing (although only to point out what he considers a superficial reading indebted to an overly synchronic methodology) Levi-Strauss’ connection of symbolic lameness to the passage of the seasons, where it features as part of a dance-based ritual performed to truncate a particular season and accelerate the passage to the next, offering a “perfect diagram” of the hoped-for imbalance.62 If Ginzberg is warranted in discounting Levi-Strauss’ hypothesis, perhaps this is not because it is wholly incorrect so much as an interpretation that is limited insofar as it remains indebted to a particular conception of time among its proponents. Ritual or symbolic lameness grasped as a spell for accelerating the seasonal series acts as a superficial interpretation covering over a deeper one, operating within an altogether different understanding of time. One glimpsed beneath the esotericism of Deleuze’s statement that the “ego is a mask for other masks, a disguise under other disguises. Indistinguishable from its own clowns, it walks with a limp on one green leg and one red leg”.63 Read through these subterranean lines which knit it into a complex cultural history of shamanic tropes and practices, Oedipus’ swollen foot condenses time compression, an initiation preceding a journey to the realm of the dead and a fundamental disequilibrium, and thereby acts as a cipher for the key aspects of the Sophoclean tragedy in Hölderlin’s interpretation and the schematic shift from the revolving door to the straight labyrinth.
In “Notes on the Oedipus” and “Notes on the Antigone”, Hölderlin proposes a reading that can be extrapolated from a “calculable law” opposing a discursive logic embedded in history, judgement and the mundane affairs of the human world, with an obscure notion of rhythm.64 The idiosyncrasy of his reading arises from an attempt to affirm the realist paradigm (grounded in scientific and historical validity) that dominated early German Romanticism alongside an unnameable and unrepresentable “efficacity”, located in “another dimension […] beyond and below” conceptual thought, which he believed characterised the tragic in its essence.65 The aim of the law was to make this obscure element momentarily graspable — not as something represented, but as the form of representation itself — a momentary “inspiration” that “comprehends itself infinitely … in a consciousness which cancels out consciousness”.66 As Beaufret frequently reminds his readers, the influence of Kant on the young poet is difficult to miss, and is particularly apparent when Hölderlin writes, for example, “[a]mong men, one must above all bear in mind that every thing is something, i.e. that it is cognisable in the medium of its appearance, and that the manner in which it is defined can be determined and taught”.67 Applied to the two Oedipus plays, taken together as a single drama, this yields an analysis in which a rhythmic distribution of the dialogue becomes diagrammable as a speed differential broken by a caesura corresponding to the prophecy of Tiresias. In contrast to Antigone where the structure is inverted (Tiresias’ prophecy being withheld until the end), the caesura in the Oedipus plays occurs early in the drama, countering a momentum which “inclines … from the end towards the beginning”.68
Hölderlin’s rhythmic diagrams of Oedipus and Antigone. Note that the notational progression from a (caesura), to b(end), and c (beginning) implies that the caesura is logically prior to the two points given in successive time.
By the time Tiresias speaks the “pure word” that reveals to Oedipus the truth of his identity everything of significance has already taken place, and the drama is supplied by Oedipus’ apprehension and acceptance of his fate, dragged along by the line of time, in which he learns to become who he is by becoming something else (as the cause of himself he is also the cause of a difference from himself).69The narrative is, incidentally, structured like a modern detective story, in which one begins by asking ‘What happened?’.70 The caesura breaks the consistency of Oedipus’ conception of himself, rewrites his memories (“the killer you are seeking is yourself”), and throws him into a time that suddenly becomes animate with a ‘before’ that was not previously available, and ‘after’ that sutures him to zero: “This day brings your birth; and brings your death”.71 The terrible implication of his fate — the prophecy of patricide and incest that lead his parents to desert him as an infant, supposedly left to die among the elements, and the discovery that everything he had done to avoid it has in fact functioned to bring it about — rises up before him. The ground falls away and, as Hölderlin writes, the rhythmic structure of the text propels Oedipus backwards towards his beginning with an incredible momentum, simultaneously interminable, due to the indifference of the gods, whilst slowly hurrying him towards his death. It is not for nothing that Hölderlin would pronounce in a letter to a friend that “[t]he true meaning of tragedy is most easily grasped from the position of paradox”.72 The caesura shields the first portion of the two Oedipus plays from their accelerated second portion, interfacing the differential speeds of dramatic action, and in this, wordlessly renders Hölderlin’s idea of an otherworldly efficacity rhythmically apprehensible without representing it.73 The operational rule of this manifestation is disequilibrium or asymmetry, and asymmetry linearly breaks the foundational rhyme that animates the Timaean cosmos, and inaugurates a new rule, the shamanic limp of schizophrenic auto-production. Oedipus’s initiation is a countdown that re-initiates his fatal loop.
The caesura thus produces two ‘times’ — an asymmetrical, looped, auto-productive time (one slice of which is rhythmically compressed, generating an empirical acceleration), and the asymmetrical form of time productive of asymmetrical time (Hölderlin’s modern god) — and two deaths: the horizontal death at the end of straight line, which takes Oedipus into the ground, and the secret, vertical death of the caesura, which rearranges everything in a single instant, producing and grounding the physical death of Oedipus and the time it takes place in. Hölderlin will denote both with the mathematical expression “= 0”.74 In contrast to the progressive time of the heretic’s trial, “the ever-oppositional dialogue”, the history and affairs of Thebes, and Oedipus’ voyage of metamorphosis “in which the beginning and end no longer rhyme”, the caesura is the irruption of time as a void which produces succession and abides within Oedipus in the function of an initiation as he travels the line that will remove him “from his orbit of life … to another world, [to] the eccentric orbit of the dead”.75 It is, to borrow a term from MVU’s resident Hyper-Kantian, R. E. Templeton, a “transcendental occurrence”.76
Split across an asymmetrical empirical succession and a far more obscure asymmetry that both grounds and ungrounds it, time indeed becomes a straight line with a subterranean labyrinth as its premise. A strange kind of homogeneity forged in war. With the shifting of the limit — the great rift that draws a threshold between two worlds, defining inside and outside — into the modern Oedipal subject, everything changes. When Hölderlin claims that in the double betrayal of man and god, “infinite unification purifies itself through infinite separation”, purification is no longer just a euphemism for catharsis but the precise characterisation of this pure and empty form of time.77 Anglossic qabbala distils this insight with economic clarity: Kant is a break and a link.
“Rather than being concerned with what happens before and after Kant (which amounts to the same thing)”, writes Deleuze,
we should be concerned with a precise moment within Kantianism, a furtive and explosive moment which is not even continued by Kant, much less by post-Kantianism — except, perhaps, by Hölderlin in the experience and the idea of a ‘categorical reversal’. For when Kant puts rational theology into question, in the same stroke he introduces a kind of disequilibrium, a fissure or crack in the pure Self of the ‘I think’, an alienation in principle, insurmountable in principle: the subject can henceforth represent its own spontaneity only as that of an Other, and in so doing invoke a mysterious coherence in the last instance which excludes its own — namely, that of the world and God. A Cogito for a dissolved Self: the Self of ‘I think’ includes in its essence a receptivity of intuition in relation to which I is already an other. It matters little that synthetic identity — and, following that, the morality of practical reason — restore the integrity of the self, of the world and of God, thereby preparing the way for post-Kantian syntheses: for a brief moment we enter into that schizophrenia in principle which characterises the highest power of thought, and opens Being directly on to difference, despite all the mediations, all the reconciliations, of the concept.78
There are three elements to this ‘furtive and explosive’ moment in Kant: the death of God, the fractured I, and the passive nature of the empirical self, all of which correspond to the introduction of transcendental time into the subject and usher in an immense complication of what we take to be human agency.
The death of god is the effacement of the demiurge, along with the essences from which he constructs the phenomenal world of appearance. Without this god, what guarantees the faithful reproduction within the image-simulation of reality of its eternal model? How can we know our experience rhymes with its ground? This leads to an ontological problem whereby ‘man’, the plaything of empirical time, can no longer assume ‘he’ is at home in the world of experience. If there is to be a disjunction between law and its material manifestation, who, if not god, administers it? Nothing is there to underwrite the Platonic values of truth, goodness and beauty, and the modern, empirical subject finds itself at sea in a murderous asymmetry that promises nothing but the cosmic fatigue of ultimate extinquishment under the second law of thermodynamics. The fractured I is even more insidious. The subject, no longer infirm and fallen, as it is for Plato, is constitutive, but “constantly hollow[ed] out”, spilt “in two” and “double[d]”, alienated from itself across the form of time in such a way that it cannot experience its constitutive power.79 Worse, as Rimbaud so acutely put it — “It is false to say: I think; one ought to say I am thought … I is another” — that shard of self, the empirical ego which registers phenomena, cannot know what its double is and must now contend with its new status of integral receptivity.80 How, then, does it believe itself to act rather than simply be acted-through? On what does it found its ethics and its politics?
This is the initiatory consequence of the transcendental philosophy of time. The transition from the revolving door dramatises the modulation from transcendent to transcendental distinction, reconfigures the a priori, isolated notion of eternity, and moves time from a spatially subsumed cardinality to a purely formal ordinality — in which distance between numbers opens onto the realm of depth. Philosophy, of course, has preliminary solutions to all of these problems, but in solving them, it steals intermittently back and forth between schemata, recuperating certain comforts native to the time of the revolving door, and smuggling a dying theology into the explosive zones of the city and the desert.
The straight line is the shortest path between two points. This is the example Deleuze uses to explain Kant’s development of a priori synthetic judgements, those “prodigious monsters” that overcome the historical a priori / analytic, a posteriori / synthetic dualism — “the death of sound philosophy” — targeted by the First Critique.81 The straight line is thus also a diagonal one, and in this sense, the leanest diagram of critique. The first, faint sketch of a philosophy erected out of paradox.
The Lovecraftian machinery of the text follows from this primary opposition between synthetic sense experience and analytic logic by reformatting it into a division between sensibility and understanding and locating both within the bounds of the a priori on a transcendental diagonal.82
Receptive, presentational and constitutive, sensibility furnishes the a priori forms of time and space, while the active, representational and reproductive faculty of the understanding provides the a priori concepts (or categories), both of which will be brought to bear on the determination of empirical objects as the conditions of all possible experience, coincident with knowledge and guided by the speculative interest of reason. The form of time delineated by Kant is empty — but productive of a single dimension of successive time whose “beginning and end simply cannot be connected”, and the form of space, likewise empty, can produce only the “infinite given magnitude” of a Euclidean and co-extensive dimensionality.83 Both forms are simultaneously subjective and objectively-valid insofar as they are generative of reality for us.84 Time, classed as ‘inner sense’, is the form of internal affection. It envelops space, or ‘outer sense’, the form of external relation and the possibility of being affected by exterior objects, which can only occur with the presupposition of time, although the two are inseparable and arise together in the human mind.85 Time can never appear to us as it is in itself and is always necessarily accompanied by space in our representations of it. Thus, we
represent the temporal sequence through a line progressing to infinity, in which the manifold constitutes a series that is of only one dimension, and infer from the properties of this line to all the properties of time, with the sole difference that the parts of the former are simultaneous, but those of the latter always exist successively.86
This succession is simply a mode of the form of time (along with persistence and co-existence, the three categories of relation whose principles are procured in the Analogies of Experience), which is not in itself successive. Nor are the modes of time properties of objects in themselves, leaving movement — dependent specifically on modal persistence — strictly subordinate to the pure form of time. Kant is adamant about this, demonstrating that if the form of time itself were successive it would be subject to a problem of infinite regress.
[C]hange does not affect time itself, but only the appearances in time (just as simultaneity is not a modus for time itself, in which no parts are simultaneous but rather all succeed one another). If one were to ascribe such a succession to time itself, one would have to think yet another time in which this succession would be possible.87
Radically indeterminate, time in itself cannot be equivalent to its parts. It corresponds to the figure of the straight labyrinth insofar as it is “in(di)visible” and — because it accompanies all of our representations — “incessant”.88 To confuse the form of time with time-as-succession is a grave metaphysical error. In the universe of the straight labyrinth, as Deleuze writes, “[i]t is not succession that defines time, but time that defines the parts of movement as successive inasmuch as they are determined within it”.89 Space in itself, in a similar fashion, cannot be construed following a pre-supposed grammar, the eclipse of Euclidean axioms in the history of mathematics having no bearing on it as a pure form.90 The fact that experience appears to unfold along a linear timeline and in three pitiful dimensions is simply a constitutive quirk of human mental structure. Insofar as we can grasp their being in themselves as pure forms, space “signifies nothing at all” and “time”, for us, “is nothing”.91
A priori synthesis occurs between the a priori categories on the one hand, and the a priori forms of spatio-temporal determination, on the other, before they are applied to experience, furnishing its “rules of construction”.92 Since both components of the synthesis are a priori, they hold as universal and necessary laws for everything that can be determined in experience. To return to Deleuze’s example of the line, the Euclidean proposition, ‘the straight line is the line which is ex aequo in all its points’ is an analytic judgement; the statement ‘this straight line is red’ is an empirical judgement (straight lines are not universally and necessarily red). The statement, ‘the straight line is the shortest path between two points’, however, is different, because the concept ‘shortest path’ is not analytically contained within the concept ‘straight line’, nor is it simply contingent on an empirical encounter: it is a priori — it holds for all straight lines — and yet, it is also synthetic — something new is added in the synthesis. ‘Shortest path’ is not a predicate of the subject ‘straight line’ but a rule for the construction of a figure that requires assembly in space and time: to produce a straight line, one must find the shortest path between two points. Put differently, a spatio-temporal determination must be discovered that accords with the concept ‘shortest path’.
Kant has two texts, one written before and one written after the Critique of Pure Reason, in which he deals with the problem of ‘incongruent counterparts’ or enantiomorphic bodies, using the necessity of the spatio-temporal assembly of a concept in experience to defend the heterogeneity of space-time and concepts so integral to the difference between sensibility and understanding in the First Critique.93 A left and a right hand, for example, both of which are determined by the selfsame concept, with all its internal relations intact, are conceptually identical yet different due to their positions in space. A left hand can never be superimposed upon a right hand without exiting the confines of Euclidean dimensionality. In a similar fashion, a hand that is perceived now and a hand that is perceived in the future may belong to the same concept, but they can never be made to coincide in time. Thus, space and time are not reducible to conceptual determinations. We will return to Kant’s ‘hands’, but for now let this thought experiment of his show that, given the laws of the three-dimensional space that experience must unfold in, there is no possible way of constructing the ‘shortest path’ other than along a straight line, and to draw a line rather than a point, one requires time. Furthermore, no empirical experience will yield a straight line that is anything other than the shortest path between two points. The a priori forms of space and time thus harbour an irrefutable constitutive power that will underlie the empirical determination of all possible experience.
Because both successive time and three-dimensional space belong a priori to the faculty of sensibility, and therefore have their provenance in the human mind, they are impossible to exit from for us, and must accompany every single denomination of what will be considered legitimate knowledge, which takes its declination from the intersection of empirical experience and the restrictions imposed upon the latter by the transcendental exigency that produces it.94 Dreams and hallucinations, occurring solely within the mind, constitute nothing more than a “blind play of representations” — intuitions deprived of determinate objects — and are therefore illegitimate as a basis for knowledge.95 This holds equally for our non-empirically validated Ideas of God, World and Soul (objects of a concept for which there is no corresponding intuition), any concept of an object deprived of sense data, and any contradictory and therefore impossible concept — and everyone finds themselves in the same, spatio-temporal manifold, under the same categorical laws which together act as a guarantor for the universalisability of human knowledge.96 Consequently, we discover that “we ourselves bring into appearances that order and regularity in them that we call nature”, and moreover “we would not be able to find it there if we, or the nature of our mind, had not originally put it there”.97 Although it underwrites the operation of the transcendental apparatus at the most fundamental level, time, in the First Critique, is simply an inert and ultimately unknowable form which beats out a series of inexorable, successive moments in experience. It is prior to matter, movement and extension, and thus completely re-arranges or unhinges the determination of time by motion so integral to the revolving door of the pre-critical cosmos. All change, alteration and variation take place in time, but the form of time itself is invariable and inviolable.
Time Compression (Circuitry)
Overcoming the irreconcilability of rationalist and empiricist methodologies via the innovation of a priori synthesis nevertheless generates a new problem for Kant, for he has simply moved its incompatibility into the subject, under the guise of the two faculties of sensibility and understanding, which are fundamentally different in kind, one being passive, receptive and immediate, the other spontaneous, active and mediate. Kant’s infamous Copernican revolution, although beginning in radical unfaithfulness — replacing god with time — resolves the duplicitous tension it cannot help but introduce between the two sides of its trademark a priori syntheses in a fundamental identity and a vexed harmony negotiated through the enigmatic synthesis of the imagination in the Transcendental Deduction, which reconstructs the syntheses along the contours of the epistemological subject / object divide, remodelled as the transcendental unity of apperception and the transcendental object = [x].
In order to connect the abstract bundle of categories in the form of the transcendental object = [x] to experience, Kant requires a link which he locates in the imagination, generative of a transcendental synthesis of the appearance of objects across space and time by stabilising their manifolds into a consistent unity for the application of concepts. The imagination performs this role via three syntheses which occur together (but are grounded in the third) in order to produce representation: the synthesis of apprehension which formalises sensible intuitions (diversity in time and space, and the diversity of time and space) into representable shape within a space-time grid, generating a single and uniform spatio-temporal manifold subject to extensive measurement; the reproduction of spatial coordinates that are not subject to instantaneous apprehension (the momentarily non-appearing parts of a volume, for example) as well as past and projected (future) coordinates in the present; and the synthesis of recognition, which underwrites the possibility of representably-stable conceptual traction via the relation of the prior syntheses of apprehension and reproduction to the form of the object in the understanding, the ‘object = [x]’, and this relative to the synthesising subject’s own transcendental identity, the ‘unity of apperception’.98
The first two syntheses structure a determination of space and time and the third relates it to consciousness, together supplying an a priori basis for the spatio-temporal unity and continuity of experience — intuited by us as one-dimensional time and three-dimensional space, only objectively actualisable in extensity, due to the envelopment of space within the inner sense of time — comprised of conscious perceptions anchored to a unified identity.99 The kind of compression enacted by the synthesis of imagination is not simply a linear one, but the flattening of time and space into a homogenous metric upon which the understanding enacts its determinations — which only then provides a basis for linear compression or acceleration in extensity, such as that detailed by Hölderlin in his rhythmic diagrams of Oedipus and Antigone.
Curiously, Kant employs the example of cinnabar to demonstrate the successive, temporal aspect of the reproductive synthesis (which supplies the recognising synthesis with its input) — an intriguing reference given its long history of alchemical and esoteric use. “If cinnabar were now red, now black, now light, now heavy”, he writes
if a human being were now changed into this animal shape, now into that one, if on the longest day the land were covered now with fruits, now with ice and snow, then my empirical imagination would never even get the opportunity to think of heavy cinnabar on the occasion of the representation of the colour red. [W]ithout the governance of a certain rule to which the appearances are already subjected in themselves … no empirical synthesis of reproduction could take place. There must therefore be something that itself makes possible this reproduction of the appearances by being the a priori ground of a necessary synthetic unity of them.100
The conceptual identity of a piece of cinnabar, along with its empirical variations, endures in time because we are able to synthesise past experiences of cinnabar with present ones via their reproduction as images in memory. We produce a recognition of categorical consistency through the relation of ‘cinnabar moments’ in the spatio-temporal manifold by connecting them to the object we are determining as a piece of cinnabar by means of its steady appearance across different times to the transcendental cogito, whose persistence as an identity is presupposed by the act of recognition. Meanwhile, the endurance of cinnabar perceptions must, according to Kant, be sufficiently objectively consistent for this to be possible in the first place, for if the objective world was in itself so chaotic that such consistency could not take place, neither would our syntheses of it. The Kantian ‘I think’ is thereby an identity which recognises itself as such against the differences it measures empirically and supposes objectively. A move that is only made possible through the combination of the syntheses of the unity of apperception and the spatio-temporal ordering effectuated under the faculty of the imagination. Together, the three syntheses of the imagination place the receptive faculty of sensibility that is productive of apprehension and reproduction in communication with the active faculty of understanding, which plugs them into the object = [x] and the transcendental unity of apperception, ostensibly resolving the problem of these faculties’ conflicting natures in the direction of categorical tractability, and subsuming spatio-temporal difference under a conceptual unity.101
Due to this implicit vectorisation — from sensibility to understanding — the transcendental synthesis of the imagination can be grasped as an “aesthetic” function made to conform to a conceptual, recognising one, which gives it its axioms — something we shall find reason to return to as the mystery of Lönnrot, Carter and Challenger continues to unfold.102 Its operation applies a unit of measure — Kant’s ‘magnitudes’ — to the sensible manifold in order to relate it to conceptual elements in the synthesis of recognition. Kant will have cause, in the Third Critique, to show the fragility of the transcendental synthesis of the imagination, one that is subject to the breaking of its measure by insurgent forces erupting from below. Subterranean revolt on behalf of the cold earth’s volcanic core.
With a unified conceptual identity providing the transcendental ground for the objective validity of the categories, and a consistent, extended and sequenced spatio-temporal manifold furnishing the foundation for all appearances in intuition established via the deduction, Kant will attempt to knit the two together in the application of the principles of judgement that constitute the schematism, consolidating the objectivity of the phenomenal-real. The schematism is the temporalisation of the categories, and thus works in reverse order to the operation of the transcendental synthesis of the imagination — beginning with a concept and determining the spatio-temporal manifold in accordance with it. The three syntheses of the imagination, taken together as a single mechanism, provide the rules for recognition; schematisation, on the other hand, gives the rules of construction for a concept in space and time. The understanding, under the guise of judgement, deploys or expresses the spontaneous syntheses of the unity of apperception and the imagination in time, completing the a priori synthetic weave between expansive sense experience and categorical contraction.103
Each of the four divisions of the categories warrants a different form of expression: the three categories of quantity (unity, plurality, totality) express extensive magnitudes; the three categories of quality (reality, negation, limitation) express intensive magnitudes; the three categories of relation (inherence and subsistence, causality and dependence, community and reciprocity) establish the objectivity of time and space, and the three categories of modality (possibility/impossibility, existence/non-existence, necessity/contingency) generate the postulates of empirical thought in general. It is this penultimate group (developed in the reciprocally arising conditions of the Analogies of Experience) which confine all human experience to a universalisable temporality, and unfold change in time, consonant with the thermodynamic arrow.104 The unfolding of all four categorial groups through a priori synthetic judgements constitute acts of representation, which yield the actuality of the world for us, founding all knowledge upon representation as an activity of the human mind bound to temporal succession. The schematism is therefore,
nothing but a priori time-determinations in accordance with rules, and these concern, according to the order of the categories, the time-series, the content of time, the order of time, and finally thesum total of time in regard to all possible objects. From this it is clear that the schematism of the understanding through the transcendental synthesis of imagination comes down to nothing other than the unity of the manifold of intuition in inner sense, and thus indirectly to the unity of apperception, as the function that corresponds to inner sense (to a receptivity).105
As a result, there are certain pieces of information we will always know in advance regarding the possibility of anything whatsoever in experience, despite the a posteriori nature of certain aspects of the latter. Namely, that “all appearances are, as regards their intuition, extensive magnitudes”, and “in all appearances the sensation, and the real, which corresponds to it in the object (realitas phaenomenon), has an intensive magnitude, i.e. a degree”.106 Kant defines an extensive magnitude as ‘that in which the representation of the parts makes possible the representation of the whole (and therefore necessarily precedes the latter)’.107 A unity in extensive magnitude is composed of successive or co-extensive parts that can be added together due to the fact that they share a homogenous unit of measure.108 The nature of their difference is therefore external — a difference between parts. For the categories of quantity, the fact that appearances are systematically subordinated to extension is straightforward, for this is how we apprehend space and time — unified “multitudes of antecedently given parts”.109 For the categories of quality, however, the surety of advance knowledge is less naturally evident because it bears on sensation and thus involves an entirely subjective, empirical input. So much so that Kant will even write, years later, in the Opus Postumum that
It is strange — it even appears to be impossible, to wish to present a priori that which depends on perceptions (empirical representations with consciousness of them): e.g. light, sound, heat, etc., which all together, amount to the subjective element in perception (empirical representation with consciousness) and hence, carries with it no knowledge of an object. Yet this act of the faculty of representation is necessary.110
Intensive magnitude is a property of the real of sensation and is therefore strictly empirical, yet we are said to have a priori knowledge of it. This is guaranteed by the conspiracy of the transcendental unity of apperception and the object = [x] that gives sensation its determinate form, and it is therefore this form alone — not the determination but the form of determination — which can be anticipated. Thus we can know in advance that every conscious representation we can ever have will involve a degree of intensity, without knowing anything about the specificities of the intensities which will affect us. To this end, Kant defines intensive magnitude as that “which can only be apprehended as a unity, and in which multiplicity can only be represented through approximation to negation = 0”.111 Unlike extensive magnitudes, which imply a continuous aggregation of homogenous parts, intensities differ internally on an infinite continuum (“of which no part … is the smallest”) between 0 and n, and therefore must be apprehended instantaneously.112 However, because of the nature of our perception, intensive magnitudes cannot be perceived separately from space and time and thus come to “fill” extended magnitudes to various degrees.113 Consequently, the intensive property of internal difference is controlled by extension, locked — forever — into the extensive matrix of apprehended space-time. Most significantly of all, Kant tethers zero intensity to pure consciousness, so that the subtraction of intensive matter from experience only reaffirms, in the absence of contaminants, the immaculacy of thought.
[F]rom the empirical consciousness to the pure consciousness a gradual alteration is possible, where the real in the former entirely disappears, and a merely formal (a priori) consciousness of the manifold in space and time remains; thus there is also a possible synthesis of the generation of the magnitude of a sensation from its beginning, the pure intuition = 0, to any arbitrary magnitude.114
Sensation degree zero indexes the annihilation of reality, not the subject. This division, although Kant will go on to qualify it (writing that such an occurrence is not “to be encountered”, an empty concept without an object comprising one of the four classes of illegitimate “nothing”) makes the separation between sensible matter and thought inherent to the transcendental apparatus luminously clear.115Kant thinks intensity, but only in a way that renders it secondary both to the form of its appearance in extensity and to the pervasive authority of transcendental conceptualisation under the law of the understanding — “[subjectifying] abstraction” and “[sublimating] death into a power of the subject”, all for the sake of maintaining a spurious notion of transcendental accord.116
For the Timaean cosmos, harmony between subject and object takes the form of an external, teleologically-assured likeness between copy and model; for Leibniz, it finds its expression in the notion of final accord, and for Hume it must, no matter how reluctantly, be presupposed.117 The ideal of externally sanctioned accord between subject and object is overturned in the Critique of Pure Reason by the necessary submission of objects to the subject, which refocuses the division between subject and object to that between active and passive faculties interior to the process of determination. We have seen above how the transcendental synthesis of the imagination operates to bridge the divide. This causes Kant to rely on the understanding to rein in the productive function of imagination, subordinating its syntheses to unified identity in the transcendental subject and unified objectivity in the transcendental object, their productions nourished by passive sensibility. Reason, the third of the three active faculties (alongside the understanding and the imagination), by analogy with the function of understanding, attempts to determine its own purely conceptual objects without the necessary components of time and space furnished by sensibility, and in so doing, exercises its powers ‘problematically’ in the production of noumena — illusory totalities which nonetheless have a positive role to play in systematising the knowledge produced under the aegis of understanding in its stewardship of the syntheses.118 It can be seen, therefore, that it is the faculty of understanding that is charged with the task of limiting the functions of the other faculties in the production of experience, confining them to specific operations and drawing the boundary dividing legitimate from illegitimate knowledge.
Although the three Critiques work together to define the ends of speculative reason, “[p]ure reason”, in the First Critique, “leaves everything to the understanding”, casting it in the role of legislator so that, in the great critical tribunal, it might judge according to the interests of reason, even when this entails turning against reason’s own products.119 Knowledge is thus lent a maximum of systematic unity via the relation between faculties delineated in the First Critique, which is nominally harmonious without invoking the divinity of pre-established harmony that animated pre-critical philosophy. Instead, it produces an accord of “common sense”, the “subjective condition of all ‘communicability’” — a return to the comfort of rhyme, now resonating between the faculties, mirroring thought in its objects.120 Kantian accord may be understood as an innovation of pre-established harmony, but it retains lineaments of the Platonic Idea of the good in that it still sees thought imbued with health and an honourable will, naturally inclining towards truth via the “best possible distribution” of its capacities.121 And why would it be otherwise? Surely reason, the “highest court of appeals for all rights and claims of our speculation, cannot possibly contain original deceptions and semblances”!122 By means of the accord of common sense, we recognise ourselves in the objects of the world.
What a surprise, after all this, to rediscover our own silhouettes still flickering on the cavern wall. Common sense is “the norm of identity from the point of view of the pure Self and the form of the unspecified object which corresponds to it”, it is always related to recognition, and “relies upon a ground in the unity of a thinking subject of which all the other faculties must be modalities”.123 To thinking, common sense contributes only “the form of the same”.124 The democratic distribution of capacity and similitude is philosophy’s principal doxa, subtending what Deleuze will famously denounce — in Difference and Repetition — as “the Image of Thought”.125 If is not simply an illegitimate presupposition, saturated in humanist bias, whence does this principle arise? There is a deeper problem with the positing of fundamental accord between the faculties in the Critique of Pure Reason, and Deleuze will turn the legal distinction between rights and facts used in the Transcendental Deduction back on Kant, asking by what right the critical philosophy takes harmony as its ground for the relation of the faculties.126 Kant, in the end, provided a remedy for this oversight, but it would not be enough to placate the tremors the critical system had induced.
Despite his predilection for tribunals, Kant’s recalibration of thought replaces the transcendence of god (and its models) as the ultimate arbiter of truth with the process of immanent critique, and thus transposes error into illusion. The strangeness of this new form of falsity springs from the fact that it is internal to the power of thought itself, contrary to the externality and materiality of error that informs Timeaus’ universe. Reason’s propensity to produce illusion as a consequence of its productive power brings Plato’s planomenon into thought itself, menacing it from inside “as if from an internal arctic zone where the needle of every compass goes mad”, a further disturbance of the cardinality which operates the turning of the great revolving door.127 This threat, nevertheless, is immediately quarantined. With the understanding commandeering synthesis, it is no longer a question of reversing of “the corruption of the circuits in our heads”, rather it is this very circuitry that constitutes the correction of illusion by forcing everything through the transcendental unity of apperception and its object = [x].128 The conservatism of the revolving door and the eruptive potential of the straight labyrinth leak into one another repeatedly throughout the First Critique. The labyrinth’s corrosive implications recognised then covered up, again and again, as if Kant realises the enormity of the abyss he has levered apart but cannot countenance its vertiginous depth, a “depth [which] is like the famous geological line from NE to SW, the line which comes diagonally from the heart of things and distributes volcanoes”.129 But Kant is no Empedocles. He does not wish to explode the sun. Asymmetry petrifies him — and for good reason.
If the Critique of Pure Reason “seemed equipped to overturn the Image of thought” in its substitution of illusion for error, the fractured I for a unified and substantialised cogito, and the invocation of the speculative deaths of God and the self, Kant
in spite of everything, and at the risk of compromising the conceptual apparatus of the three Critiques … did not want to renounce the implicit presuppositions. Thought had to continue to enjoy an upright nature, and philosophy could go no further than — nor in directions other than those taken by — common sense.130
Where Kant hesitates at the caldera’s edge, Hölderlin explores it with tortured determination, extracting from Oedipus what is truly radical in both “[t]he Greek image of thought” that “already invoked the madness of the double turning-away”, and the Kantian one, which launches “thought into infinite wandering rather than into error”.131 Vision, the Timaean antidote to corruption, is still insisted upon as the implicit other of the blindness Kant so frequently invokes, but it must be remembered that Tiresias’s prophetic knowledge is coincident with his loss of sight, and at the moment of the comprehension of his fate, Oedipus blinds himself.132
The true innovation of the critical project, then — and that which constitutes its unprecedented modernity — is not the tiresome delineation of conditions for anthropomorphic experience productive of and produced by an intransigent conceptual faculty, but its profound reconfiguration of time. In Kant, pre-modern, cyclical, scroll-like temporality “unrolls itself like a serpent”, no longer subordinate to gods or nature — to logic, to reason, psychology, matter or sense — no longer subordinate to anything, save the mystery of its own inner workings, an enigmatic process of auto-affection.133 An impersonal reading of the First Critique reveals this immediately: the subject may have a productive role in the constitution of phenomena, but it is always in the thrall of something it has no empirical access to, which, in turn, is producing its production of experience.134 Both of these productive syntheses are temporal and, necessarily for Kant — who has reached for the one thing common to the two sides of the rift he has opened up inside the transcendental production of experience — only legitimately reconcilable by yet another temporal function: the application of the categories to experience in time via the faculty of judgement.135 Rather than a fortification of subjective prowess in the realm of experience, the Critique of Pure Reason is the story of time’s relation to itself, through itself — and this relation takes the form of a limp.
The ruin that emerges in the wake of the critical philosophy exhibits, against its inaugurator’s best intentions, the keenness of the blade he has used to vivisect his forebears. As Kant gingerly turns the instrument over, it flashes the following message in the darkness of pre-critical dogmatism: the production of time is not in time. (The killer you are seeking is yourself.) Kant, the reluctant hepatomancer. This new configuration of the outside as time-production is further complicated by no longer being external to the subject, but an internal constitutive part of it. The transcendental outside — distinct from the exterior affection of objectified space, which is inside as an empirical necessity — is thus interiorised in a way that will not only alter the schema of time, but profoundly disrupt the subjectivity that carries it, alienating it from itself, and deeply troubling its sense of agency from the point of view of the only part of it that it can properly know or experience.
This is the tragic modern time of Oedipus in both its pure form as the caesura, and the inexorable linearity of the flight into the desert. An interior limit which Oedipus carries along inside himself, always escaping him, yet irrevocably ‘his’. The tormented king, like Kant’s subject, torn apart and along by an alien component which schizophrenises him, splits him off from himself, allowing him to act in a secondary manner within time, but depriving him of any ability to act on his own transcendental agency, everything Oedipus attempts to do to divert his terrible fate from its course being subordinate to something else — the prophecy of the caesura, that traitorous modern god: the pure form of time. What we know of this abstract part of ourselves cannot be anything other than this empty form, contoured by the limits of categorical distillation; a strict ordinal sequence, made countable and extensive in the schematisation of its “numerical unity”, and definitive of a specific spatio-temporal organisation.136 Contrary to the spatialised exteriority of time relative to the revolving door with its cardinal points, the contentless ordinality of the abstract ‘I’ is static, an inhuman domain within the human, transcendental and not transcendent and therefore not eternal in the same way. It is immanent and productive: an immobile, black motor generates the inexorable and, for Kant, insensible excess of the labyrinth composed of a single, straight line.
The byzantine architecture of the Kantian cogito threatens to suppress what is truly radical in his arrangement of the relation of thought to its determinations. In Difference and Repetition, Deleuze relates it to the Cartesian cogito in order to better show its novelty. Prior to Descartes, definitions of the thinking subject are either formed in reference to an eternity which produces it as its externalised other — an infinite unextended mind related to extended finitude, a fully disjunctive difference circumscribed by space — or distilled from relations between pre-determined concepts, those of generic and specific differences (‘man is a rational animal’).137 But Descartes effectuates his own innovation, a logic of implication in which the thinking subject grounds itself. The Kantian cogito takes up this logic, but where the Cartesian cogito precedes by a three-step determination: the determination ‘I think’ determines the undetermined ‘I am’ as thinking substance (I think, I am -- determination, the indeterminate, the determined; the indeterminate determined by determination), the Kantian cogito inserts an additional step which corresponds to the form of determination. Stripped down to its bare mechanism, it proceeds as follows: determination, the indeterminate, the form of determinability, the determined. The transcendental subject or abstract I of the transcendental unity of apperception in relation to the object = [x], both active elements of the understanding, commits a “spontaneous” act of determination which implies an indeterminate existence.138 Because the transcendental I is also subject to the passive faculty of sensibility it must make its determinations in time as the form of inner sense.139 Time, therefore, is the form of determinability which then yields the completely determined empirical subject.
The Kantian cogito begins in action, but because it is bound to pass through the pacifying form of time, it can only represent itself to itself in experience as a passive subject, which holds the same status in relation to the transcendental subject as any other empirical object. Against the Cartesian cogito, which determines the I am as substance, the innovation of the Kantian transcendental subject coincides, for Deleuze, with the “liberation” of the subject from substantiality, and the strange and fecund domain of the unconscious swerves into philosophy for the first time. What we are left with is “a synthesis which separates” — a link which is a break — and the inauguration of something else completely new: constitutive alienation.140 Where the productive other of the revolving door is strictly outside — the “other of alterity” — drawn apart by a limit which corresponds to space or extension (and its ordering, from which temporality is derived), the other of the straight labyrinth is one’s own self, an interior outside to which one is bound in a relation of fundamental alienation.141
Marx will install the same constitutive rift in the transcendental division between labour and labour-power, as the alienation of the subject that abides between them in his analysis of capitalism: “The alienation of labour-power and its real manifestation … do not coincide in time.”142 Capital production, like the Kantian cogito, abstracts and axiomatises the value of its products by subsuming them under a homogenous metric, substituting use-value for exchange-value; a qualitative measure for a quantitive one. Exchange-values are “mutually replaceable” because they are of “identical magnitude”.143 It follows from this, adds Marx, in a particularly Kantian passage, “that, firstly, the valid exchange-values of a particular commodity express something equal, and secondly, exchange-value cannot be anything other than the mode of expression, the ‘form of appearance’, of a content distinguishable from it”.144
Just as it is for Kant, whose system forces experience into a temporalised series of extensive magnitudes, furnishing a priori knowledge as the form of determination, fully independent of content, the measure of universal equivalence for exchange-value is a temporal one, in which all of a commodity’s “sensuous characteristics are extinguished” — what Marx calls “socially necessary labour-time”.145 The transcendental, auto-productive, alienating circuitry of modernity is tragedy uncut, generative of nothing but episodic travesties of fast-burning empirical conflagration, and its material form is M-C-M’.146 Capital emerges as the concretised shadow of the furtive and explosive moment of the First Critique, before it is drowned in the epistemological structure that limits the syntheses to the production of identity-driven representation and confines it to legitimate knowledge. From a strictly philosophical perspective, it is the complication bound up with determination across the form of time via the implicative logic of transcendental production which grounds the unconditional accelerationist notion of anti-praxis. One cannot be anything other than a passive subject as long as there is time. A tragic thought, but this is the full import of tragedy — a dramatic form whose other face is fate — for the modern subject. Oedipus split by the line of time; “infinite unification purifie[d] through infinite separation”.147
The Edge of Space and Time
When the Antarctic fog lifts one sees the machine for what it does. Kant’s critical philosophy introduces for the first time three great components: a tragic initiation, circuitry and compression, and the alienation of auto-productive asymmetry. The time of the revolving door draws the line of the outside along the edge of space; the time of the straight labyrinth draws the line of the outside along the edge of time. Cognition, in the Critique of Pure Reason, is an abstract machine — and because its enveloping form of determination is temporal, it is, more profoundly, an abstract machine for the production of transcendental time.148 In What is Philosophy? Deleuze and Guattari diagram the schematism as a circuit, “a moving wheel” partially immersed in “the shallow stream of Time as the form of interiority, in and out of which [it] plunges”.149 If the stream is shallow, it is because it is still all too human. As the circuit of transcendental production or application of rules for construction, the schematism disrupts the philosophical dualism of essence and appearance definitive of the revolving door with the unilateral and conjunctive couple ‘apparition’ (conditions of appearance) and ‘phenomena’ (that which appears) — one could equally say Id and Ego.150 A “bolt of lightning” generating a more complicated disjunction between time and what appears in time.151
On the other side of the limit of knowability, time in itself as something other than succession is accorded a negative status — a blank cipher, slight as zero, outside the walls of transcendental subjective security. It courses through us as an abstract yet immanent outside which conditions experience via asymmetrical auto-production, but is fortified against our determinations, which have no purchase on it. The philosophical problem at the core of critique abides in this strange circuitry, no longer requiring a god for its productions, no longer sustaining hard truth / error, essence / appearance distinctions, reconstituted in a dark zone of the subject itself — the abstract I. But “God survives as long as the I enjoys a subsistence, a simplicity and an identity which expresses the entirety of its resemblance to the divine”.152 Kant “replaces harmony with circuitry” yet retains the residue of a rhyme — his betrayal of God is not yet fully double.153 Time in the First Critique is intellectually subjective, and while it is infinitely troubling for any spontaneous notion of subjectivity, it is nonetheless too anthropmorphic, too constrained to the unifying identity of transcendental apperception, too geared towards the speculative ends of reason, too functionally masculine, too centralised and regulated. Deleuze, writing of Kant but thinking of Nietzsche, issues a caveat to those humanists among us who would yet profess to lay a claim to inhumanity: “the death of God becomes effective only with the dissolution of the Self” — a self that Kant has skewered, broken and scattered across the sand, but which logically envelops, by the circumference of its epistemological horizon, that “panic desert of time and space” the Kantian subject, like Oedipus, reluctantly casts itself into.154 Schizophrenisation is a voyage of initiation that plunges all to way to zero, that “transcendental experience of the loss of the Ego” which Deleuze and Guattari link to shamanism via R.D. Laing in Anti-Oedipus.155 The tragic voyage of transcendental time loops asymmetry infinitely back to initiation, and the subject limps through its circuitry, replaying the silence of the gods, until it learns how to betray not only their law, but its own.
Reality is reconfigured by transcendental time in terms of a double relation, a primary and generative form and a superficial, secondary experience: process and product, action and reaction, infinity and limitation, time and what is in time. By understanding this abstract, transcendental subject as a unity, Kant uses the conjunctive couple as if in the service of a god — or a father — reining in its explosive potential by bringing synthesis and schematisation back to recognition and representation, leaving consciousness, so resolute in its refusal of blindness, “blinded by all knowledge that does not find cause in the mind itself”.156 There is still a division between form and matter in Kant’s apparatus, a basic hylomorphism which locates activity in form and consigns passivity to matter — an intensive matter which subtends the reproductive function of the syntheses of the imagination but does not appear in its own right and is of no transcendental consequence — its destabilising volatility confined within the extensive grid of apprehension. The model of the transcendental, once applied to experience, is eternally set, the categories definitive, as if the system “would thenceforth just continue, without disruption, in an innocent confirmation of itself”.157 Reason officiates from on high, understanding controls the factory floor, everything is known in advance, ushering in “so deadly a boredom that … one might finish by wishing to die … rather than just have things go on … forever”, and death is not even only empirical.158
Into the Volcano
A philosopher terrified: this does not exist.159
The critical project may be the “most elaborate fit of panic in the history of the Earth” but “panic is creation”.160 Poetry and capitalism take this as their rule. Hölderlin, operating a subtle betrayal of his own, discovered the true radicality of Kant, just as Rimbaud, poet-economist par excellence, would best articulate the cogito for a dissolved self. Land too, quoting Bataille, evokes the secret of Oedipus in relation to poetry, but not without that element of terror that will be so fundamental for the next torsion in the history of the schemata of time.
Meanderings in extension remain trapped in the maze unless they cross over into a ‘blind slippage into death’, ‘this slippage outside oneself that necessarily produces itself when death comes into play’. A ‘slippage produces itself’ we do not do so, a chasm opens, chaos (= 0), something horrific in its depth, a season in Hell that ‘slips immensely into the impossible’, ‘the intensity and intimacy of a sensation opened itself onto an abyss where there is nothing which is not lost, just as a profound wound opens itself onto death’. Poetry is this slippage that is broken upon the end of poetry, erased in a desert as ‘beautiful as death’.161
The unfaithful, urban and un-coordinated temporality of the straight labyrinth as it appears in Kant is a not a time to be apprehended by philosophers or theologians. It is the time of economists and poets. It is they who see the subterranean opportunities to which the philosopher of the model is blind. Empedocles, the eponymous hero of Hölderlin’s unfinished modern tragedy throws himself — twice — into the volcano in Kant’s place, but the volcano returns a single sandal to its edge, an omen of an asymmetry yet to be mastered. “Poetry does not strut logically amongst convictions, it seeps through crevices; a magmic flux resuscitated amongst vermin. If it was not that the Great Ideas had basements, fissures, and vacuoles, poetry would never infest them. Faiths rise and fall, but the rats persist.”162
The outside will shift again, in a way that once more alters the human relation to it. Our mystery has become infinitely more complex, and curiously in this, more tractable, but it is not yet twisted enough. Kant, at the very least, has taught us the dubiousness of conclusions. We have procured certain keys, a fistful of half-deciphered diagrams, and a sense of the limit, but we are still hopelessly trapped in the maze. These explorations are just overtures to the journey that is about to begin, and they have done little more than confer upon the investigation an additional set of questions. We are yet to understand why the particle-clock is a revolving door, and how to move from this great turning figure, with its aperture open onto eternity, to those other, “successive doors”, that “bar our free march down the mighty corridors of space and time” to that ultimate threshold which “no man has crossed”.163Does Kant’s elaboration of time as an infinite extended magnitude give us sufficient means to decipher Lönnrot’s riddle? Is the straight line all that it seems? Why is the revolving door ‘coffin-shaped’? Does Hölderlin’s invocation of aorgic panic somehow connect to the expression on the young woman in the lecture hall where Challenger executes his trick, and which Aspinwall also wears? Why does rhythm increasingly seem to play such an important role? There is nothing for it but to leave the philosophers, the theologians, the poets and the economists, and bore deeper into the heat of the earth. To solicit counsel from that thing, which — feigning compliance with the laws of time and space — succeeds them, guardian of the door in the back of the cave we have marshalled these unfinished rituals to access.
Thrown out of eternity, cursed by a faceless god, blinded, insulted, injured and abandoned, we find ourselves with Oedipus, lurching catastrophically across the desert in uneven, hesitating steps, following the curse of an incomplete exile. Towards what? Thunder roils in the distance, electricity volatises the desolate pre-dawn fog, something rumbles underfoot. Nothing for πλέθρα. But if we know one thing about the desert, it is this. Expelled from the labour of Kantian critique, accused by Plato of sophistry, this is where the nomads go.164 The initiation has just begun, and like the voyage consigned to Oedipus, its path leads underground.
The Revolving Door and The Straight Labyrinth: An Initiation in Occult Time(Part 0)
by Amy Ireland
And now, in that rise of masonry to which his eyes had been so irresistibly drawn, there appeared the outline of a titanic arch not unlike that which he thought he had glimpsed so long ago in that cave within a cave, on the far, unreal surface of the three-dimensioned earth.1
There is a short story by Jorge Luis Borges which details an elaborate game of geometrical entrapment.2 The game is at once a temporal and spatio-cartographic one. It is played over a period of four months, on the fourth of each month, across a series of cardinal coordinates: a hotel in the North, a paint factory in the West, a tavern in the East, and an abandoned villa in the water-logged southern outskirts of the story’s unidentified city. The players are the police detective Erik Lönnrot, and his nemesis, a Barcelona gangster known as ‘Red’ Scharlach.
Knowing Lönnrot to be one of those peculiar creatures that prefers a well-wrought puzzle to the legislative drudgery of trying and condemning a criminal, Scharlach exploits the accidental murder of a Jewish mystic to compose a false, rhomboidal “labyrinth” (as he refers to it), whose contours prove irresistible to the “recklessly perspicacious” mind of the detective.3 There are just enough false clues hidden in the puzzle to seduce Lönnrot into believing his solution, which he arrives at by following an incomplete pattern of fours — from the enigmatic declaration that ‘the [nth] letter of the Name has been written’ left at the scene of each crime, invoking the four letters of Tetragrammaton with the third as yet unwritten; to the fact that the three murders thus far composing the puzzle, although exoterically committed on the third of each month, can be esoterically understood as having been committed on the fourth; the adjacency to each of the three victims of a quadrilateral figure of some kind, and the situation of the three crimes at cardinal points on the city’s map: North, West, and East. Drawing a rhombus to connect the points, and with that revealing the location where the fourth murder will take place, Lönnrot delivers himself directly — although a day too early — into the hands of Scharlach and his goons, who are waiting for him in at the fourth cardinal point, the Villa Triste-le-Roy.
An intriguing passage follows:
For the last time, Lönnrot considered the problem of the symmetrical, periodic murders.
“There are three lines too many in your labyrinth,” he said at last. “I know of a Greek labyrinth that is but one straight line. So many philosophers have been lost upon that line that a mere detective might be pardoned if he became lost as well. When you hunt me down in another avatar of our lives, Scharlach, I suggest that you fake (or commit) one crime at A, a second crime at B, eight kilometres from A, then a third crime at C, four kilometres from A and B and halfway between them. Then wait for me at D, two kilometres from A and C, once again, halfway between them. Kill me at D, as you are about to kill me at Triste-le-Roy.”
“The next time I kill you,” Scharlach replied, I promise you the labyrinth that consists of a single straight line that is invisible and incessant.”
He stepped back a few steps. Then, very carefully, he fired.4
The weapon is discharged. The story ends. Does the bullet collide with the living body of Lönnrot? Borges refrains from telling us.
Another two stories. A horror story and a philosophical meltdown (with one enveloped in the other).
Lovecraft’s “Through the Gates of the Silver Key”, is less a document of geometrical entrapment than one of geometrical fuite — a French word that designates both liquefaction and escape. Its protagonist, Randolph Carter, unlike those unfortunate, ‘enlightened’ men of science, who dominate the bulk of Lovecraft’s stories, seems to know precisely what he’s getting into when he returns to a “cave within a cave” known as the “Snake Den” in the wooded countryside of his youth to perform a series of rituals by means of the mysterious titular “Silver Key”.5 On the day of his expedition to the cave, the 7th of October, 1928, Carter vanishes from the world, leaving behind a parked car containing a piece of parchment scattered with bizarre characters that “no man could read” and his expansive estate, containing a significant collection of esoteric lore and occult artefacts. Four years later, a close friend of Carter’s, Etienne-Laurent de Marigny; a Providence mystic, Ward Philips, and the Chicago lawyer, Ernest B. Aspinwall, convene in de Maringny’s apartment to determine the future of the Carter estate. Phillips and de Marigny, susceptible to the irrationality of their spiritual backgrounds, aren’t convinced that Carter is dead. Aspinwall, on the other hand, is perhaps too eager to confirm Carter’s death and divide the estate (of which, as a cousin, he is owed a small part). A third figure who has promised to deliver important information concerning Carter’s disappearance is invited to the meeting, the Swami Chandraputra, an “adept from Benares” and alleged confidant of Carter’s.6
The narrative that follows centres on the Swami’s account of Carter’s journey, which he claims to have received via the medium of dreams. He tells of Carter’s performance of the rite of the Silver Key in the Snake Den, of his traversal of the “First Gate” and subsequent admittance to “the earth’s trans-dimensional extension”, where Carter is said to have been subjected to
a strange, awesome mutation… a sense of incalculable disturbance and confusion in time and space, yet one which held no hint of what we recognise as motion and duration. [Punctuated, nevertheless, by] some perceptible rhythm… a faint, cryptical pulse. […] Now, there was neither cave nor absence of cave; neither wall nor absence of wall. There was only a flux of impressions not so much visual as cerebral, amidst which the entity that was Randolph Carter experienced perceptions or registrations of all that his mind revolved on, yet without any clear consciousness of the way in which he received them.7
Carter is then given the choice to venture even further along the trajectory he has embarked upon, and passes first through a vast, abyssal void, before fully succumbing to a total “sense of lost orientation”, feeling himself
wafted into immeasurable depths, with waves of perfumed warmth lapping against his face. It was as if he floated in a torrid, rose-tinctured sea; a sea of drugged wine whose waves broke foaming against shores of brazen fire. [T]he surgings were speaking to him in a language that was not of physical sound or articulate words. “The man of Truth is beyond good and evil”, intoned a voice that was not a voice. […] “The man of Truth has learnt that Illusion is the only reality, and that substance is an impostor.”8
The profound element of horror in “Through the Gates of the Silver Key” is affirmed — imminently — as a loss of unified identity, while the waves divide and carry what Carter took to be himself across the vertiginous and unintelligible dimensionality of distended time-space, that “final cosmic reality which belies all local perspectives and narrow partial views”.9 As he goes on to cross the threshold of the “Ultimate Gate” he relinquishes the last tenuous grasp he had retained on selfhood and personal embodiment in a dissolution that transgresses form itself. Thus unmoored, amidst a “chaos of scenes whose infinite multiplicity and monstrous diversity brought him close to the brink of madness”, the Carter-entity apprehends the limitations of the earthly notion of a tridimensional world and “what an infinity of directions there are besides the known directions of up-down, forward-backward, right-left”.10
‘Here’ the incessant pulse of the waves apprises Carter of the knowledge that, by changing the angle of transection of the intensive plane he finds himself on, he can access any of the fragments of Carter-being produced upon it, wherever they may be located in cosmic time, and at whatever point they might happen to occupy in the vast spatiality of a trans-dimensional manifold. Fulfilling a long held desire to know more of that “dim, fantastic world whose five multicoloured suns, alien constellations, dizzy black crags, clawed, tapir-snouted denizens, bizarre metal towers, unexplained tunnels, and cryptical floating cylinders” which had long haunted his dreams, he takes advantage of his openness to all possible manifestations of Carter-being to voyage to a distant cosmos, escorted by “a whirring and drumming that swell[s] to a terrific thundering” and “[b]ands and rays of colour utterly foreign to any spectrum of our universe”. When he returns to individuated form, he discovers his body reconfigured, “rugose, partly squamous, and curiously articulated in a fashion mainly insect-like yet not without a caricaturish resemblance to the human outline”. He recognises the Silver Key, “still in his grasp — though held by a noxious-looking claw”.11
In a voice that has been growing progressively hoarser and even at times taking on a “forced, hollow, metallic quality”, the Swami concludes his tale by explaining how, lost in a distant universe, Carter — now in the form of the wizard Zkauba of Yaddith — discovers he has left the parchment containing the incantation required to return to the intensive plane beyond the Ultimate Gate behind, and thus surrendered his capacity to discover further possibilities of trans-personal incarnation. For immeasurable aeons, Zkauba wages an internal war with the memories retained from his life as Randolph Carter, with the Carter-splinter eventually gaining the upper claw and engineering a way to travel back to earth by means of a metallically-fortified “light-wave envelope” to recuperate the forgotten parchment.12 Succeeding in this mission, but trapped in the crustaceous form of a creature from Yaddith, Carter wears a human disguise, masking his alien face and articulated claws, and proceeds to establish a tenuous habitation among the denizens of 1930s-Boston’s dubious West End. Reading of plans to dissolve his estate in the local newspaper, Carter sends the Swami to vouch for his continued existence and obstruct the imminent loss of his treasured library, including the original copy of the coveted parchment, before it is too late. So goes the story as it is related by the Swami.
The lawyer, Aspinwall, is unconvinced by this revelation. Sensing foul-play, he attempts to wrench what he is now confident is a mask from the face of the suspected interloper, eliciting a cry of protest from the Swami that manifests as nothing more than “a wholly inexplicable rattling and buzzing sound”.13 The lawyer succeeds in removing the disguise, revealing an image which is only rendered negatively in the description of Aspinwall’s expression, “convuls[ing] with a wilder, deeper, and more hideous epilepsy of stark panic than ever seen on human countenance before”.14 As Aspinwall expires from the inundation of pure shock, the Swami — now understood to be Randolph Carter himself — overspills his human form and, more Zkauba than Carter, shuffles towards the corner of the room in which stands “a curious coffin-shaped clock”, its dial decorated in “baffling hieroglyphs, and whose four hands [do] not move in consonance with any time system known on this planet”. The “alien rhythm” of the clock’s “abnormal ticking”, complemented by “the bubbling of the courtyard fountain beyond half-curtained, fan-lighted windows”, has haunted the meeting since the beginning.15 Phillips and de Marigny look on in sudden apprehension, as the inhuman figure that has replaced Swami Chandraputra approaches the coffin-shaped clock, enters it — with difficulty due to its pincer-like appendages — and vanishes once and for all.
“Through the Gates of the Silver Key” is, beyond all else, a story about rhythm, and the bulk of Lovecraft’s baroque prose is dedicated to integrally evasive descriptions of the quality of the pulsing waves of energy (often described as light on spectrums inaccessible to human vision) that assail Carter as he carries out his rites and descends ever deeper and into the sensible abyss beneath individuated being. Is it not insignificant that the last word of the tale is delivered, not by de Marigny or Phillips — the two characters still inhabiting the realm of the living, extended intelligibly in space and time — but by the ticks of the coffin-shaped clock as it tempts de Marigny, alone in his study, to follow the path of his friend’s strange flight.
In a manner not incommensurate with Lönnrot’s prediction of his own return in an avatar of another life, Carter will resurface — reconfigured once more — in the body of Professor Challenger as he appears, abducted from the Conan Doyle stories, in “The Geology of Morals”, the third plateau of Deleuze and Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus.16 A magical reading of the plateau would posit the lecture delivered by Challenger as an act of misdirection at the level of geometry (an explication of the hydraulics of stratification, which enfolds the greater controversy of the plateau at least one more time in the debate between Cuvier and Geoffrey: “Cuvier reflects a Euclidean space, whereas Geoffrey thinks topologically”) — a ‘misdirection’ in the sense that explication is always secondary to demonstration.17 The trick occurs elsewhere, in the background, or better — at the level of the frame itself — which details the transfiguration and eventually, the disarticulation, of Challenger as he passes between and beneath the quadripartite net of content and expression.
The relationship between “The Geology of Morals” and “Through the Gates of the Silver Key” is implicit in the use of narrative devices and the recurrence of indirectly cited passages lifted directly from Lovecraft’s story, in a dosage that accumulates apace of the successive stages of Challenger’s disarticulation. Just as Carter is forced to contend with his lawyer’s incredulity, Challenger’s audience is hostile to the professor’s claims (citing “numerous misunderstandings, misinterpretations and… misappropriations”); his student Alasca, like de Marigny and Phillips, attempts (“hypocritically” — for justification makes the mistake of pre-supposing and thereby legitimating a tribunal) to defend his teaching; he begins to lose his voice, which like Carter’s “become[s] hoarser, broken occasionally by an apish cough” as later, “[s]omething animalistic in him [begins] to speak” before, “suffocating”, he threatens to lose it altogether.18 Like Carter behind the mask of the Swami, Challenger has two faces, and losing his gloves, it is revealed that his hands have been transformed into pincers. As “he” (the masculine pronoun is questioned by Deleuze and Guattari) quite literally melts down, the liquid streaming from his tunic deforms the lecture hall itself, blurring the frame and bringing into focus another room — “hung with strangely figured arras” and suffused with the fumes of burning olibanum, as if it had been concealed behind the lecture hall all along.19 This is the description given by Lovecraft of de Marigny’s study, with its fountain burbling in the courtyard beyond, and the coffin-shaped clock stationed “deep in a niche on one side”.20 The penultimate scene of “Through the Gates of the Silver Key” continues to intrude upon the narrative. Aspinwall’s panicked expression as he is confronted by Carter’s alien form appears word-for-word on the figure of a “young woman” — and, as we are told that what-remains-of-Challenger “slowly hurrie[s] toward the plane of consistency”, slipping into “an assemblage serving as a drum-gate, the particle-Clock with its intensive ticking and conjugated rhythms hammering out the absolute”, Lovecraft’s prose overflows definitively, consuming the final paragraph of the plateau with the description of Carter’s disappearance into the coffin-shaped particle-clock.21
On the level of philosophical exposition, “The Geology of Morals” introduces the notions of territorialisation, deterritorialisation and reterritorialisation in relation to a system of stratification (where they operate relatively) and in relation to the plane of consistency (where deterritorialisation alone operates absolutely), alongside a nonlinear, topological, architecture of modes of organisation between them. The strata and the plane of consistency do not describe a dualism, and there is no necessary successive priority within the strata (although the plateau begins, importantly, by intimating one), which determine their configurations via relations of reciprocity — this relation at its most abstract level is referred to as a biunivocal one, a double articulation tagged by the image the pincers in the chapter (strata are the “judgement[s] of God” and “God is a lobster”).22
Although it does not precede the strata temporally or spatially, the absolute deterritorialisation of the plane of consistency is “primary” and always immanent to all forms of territorialisation, deterritorialisation and reterritorialisation.23 It relates to the strata in a unilateral movement, constituting the outer edge of an angle of envelopment which enfolds them all in its virtuality. It is not an essence but a function, and its function is nothing more constitutive than to allow for and constrain the movements of deterritorialisation, territorialisation and reterritorialisation that occur upon it. It is not formal or substantial, but the virtual enablement of form and substance — doubly organised under the twin pincers of content and expression.
Because they define a topological space-time, the strata are in communication with the plane of consistency at any given point, and this channel is both opened and closed by the Janus-faced abstract machine, with its two surfaces: the Ecumenon and the Planomenon. One bears outward, further into the consolidation of its particular stratum, the other bears inwards, towards the plane of consistency: the Planomenon is always capable of undoing the stratifications gathered around the Ecumenic resonator of the abstract machine. Whether it tends one way or another is determined by its intensive state at any particular point. The abstract machines, being definitionally ‘abstract’ (as Deleuze explains elsewhere — abstractions contain two components, one which is given in representation and the other which is not) are real but not actual, and are effectuated in the strata by a concrete machinic assemblage.24 Abstract machines are thereby the non-concrete (i.e. transcendental) counterparts of machinic assemblages which operationalise — in individuated, extensive space-time — their territorialising, deterritorialising or reterritorialising functions.
Finally, the plane of consistency — destination of the dissolving Challenger — has three aspects: an intensive continuum, emissions of particles-signs, and conjunctions of flow. This is the immanent, virtual structuration or ‘diagram’ that potentiates the erection of the system of strata. The intensive continuum is the energetic flatline, with its capacity for intensive spikes; particles-signs are latent units of content and expression (articulating both forms and substances) prior to their distinction as such on the strata by the Ecumenic face of the abstract machines and their attached machinic assemblages; the flows are separated out and channeled into various strata as their territorialisations and relative deterritorialisations or reterritorialisations. If this sounds obscure or oblique, it is because the plane of consistency can only truly be delineated in terms of a Lovecraftian evasion, the kind fundamental to cosmic horror, whose rule is to refrain from the positive description of the thing that is haunting the story’s protagonist. Deleuze and Guattari do offer a concession of sorts — “The plane is like a row of doors.”25 Lovecraft provides a clue from the other side:
Carter always spoke of being on the point of solving the mystery, though he never gave details. Once he grew almost poetic about the whole business. That antique Silver Key, he said, would unlock the successive doors that bar our free march down the mighty corridors of space and time to the very Border which no man has crossed… 26
For English speakers, there is a curious translational occultism apparent in the final, important paragraph of the third plateau — a plateau which makes a great deal of translation (which, when confined to specific human languages is presented as being bound to stratic constraints, obscured by the idea that one language can simply be made “to ‘represent’ the givens of another language”: it is always a question of different abstract machines) — where “la porte-tambour”, the assemblage employed by Challenger as his means of escape, otherwise referred to as the particle-clock, is translated by Brian Massumi as “the drum-gate”.27 Literally rendered in English, ‘la porte-tambour’ does indeed mean ‘the door-drum’, and Massumi has his reasons, for Lovecraft’s doors or gates are deeply connected to rhythm and, quite often, the sound of drumming. But there is another denotation of ‘porte-tambour’ in French which is entirely overlooked and of huge significance to Deleuze. It can also mean ‘revolving-door’. The machinic assemblage of the particle-clock is both a drum-gate — and a revolving door. The Silver Key of the “Geology of Morals”.
What is so important about the particle-clock? What does it mean for Challenger to have departed, without going anywhere, for this curious, inchoate ‘plane of consistency’? Is there a connection between the labyrinths of Lönnrot and Scharlach, and the enigma of the revolving door? Why does Lönnrot ascribe a history of philosophical unease to the figure of the straight line? Deleuze and Guattari tell us more than Borges or Lovecraft do, but it hardly constitutes a solution…
by Reza Negarestani
I have never cared that much for science fiction, or Ballard for that matter, save for a handful of short stories. Which is obviously not the best way to start a review of a book you are passionate about and which is entitled Applied Ballardianism. But monikers and references, as always, can be fundamentally misleading, to the extent that they can be reappropriated, reinvented, and deformed—to such an extent that, in the end, they may as a matter of fact have no association with their point of origin other than a thin connective tissue of impressions, personal experiences, and vague affiliations which are subordinated to the course of time, and therefore subject to change and impermanence. Such is the case with Simon Sellars’s cross-genre work, in which (his [over-]interpretation of) the Ballardian worldview is applied to his conceptions of himself and the world in which he lives.
I fear that my reading of Applied Ballardianism may in fact be a betrayal of Sellars’s work. But the very fact that a reader can take the liberty of seeing a work in terms of their own personal sphere, can re-cognize what has already been cognized by the author, is an indication that we are in the realm of the greatest works of literature, where you are charmed, fascinated, and compelled to reinvent the text in your inner personal space, to see it as a map for how you should repeat this journey in your own terms, regardless of the stringent standards and constraints put in place by the genre, the work, or its writer. Indeed, isn’t this exactly how Simon Sellars approaches the work of Ballard?
Sellars’s encounter with Ballard does not bottom out in a Ballardian reality, though. If the Ballardian universe is how the reality of our modern world bottoms out then, surely, we can imagine building new counterfactual worlds on top of it, to make it unrecognizable or to re-cognize it. After all, what we call a foundation is merely a combination of dirt and water on the basis of which the most dazzling edifice can be erected. In other words, even if we take the Ballardian universe to be the ultimate substratum of our contemporary reality, nothing—other than the atrophy of our own imaginations—prevents us from going on to build new worlds on top of and out of the ruins of Ballardian atopias, using methods similar to those with which Ballard constructed his own world from the rubble of the twentieth century. This is how Sellars’s work at once remains faithful to Ballard and becomes disloyal to it. And if Sellars has reinvented Ballard in accordance with his personal journey and inner space, then why shouldn’t we do precisely the same thing with Applied Ballardianism?
Year 0.01 According to the Ballardian Calendar
The horizon smells of lysergic colors. On closer inspection, its texture is a combination of metallic paint and burnished leather suggestive of the great indoors of a customized corvette speeding on cruise control, en route to a vanishing point where all our psychoses finally converge. The Sun has already ceased to exist, stars gone for good. But we have long stopped romanticizing about the end of our world. Our sole interest is now the fate of counterfactual universes. This picture of the world is closer to a copy-pasted iteration of low resolution tiles from Sid Meier’s Civilization than the scholarly anthropological portraits our successors might randomly come across in the natural history museum of the human in the year 800 AB. Situationist slogans, postmodernist fables, and once-edgy lines from Baudrillard’s Cool Memoriesscribbled on the walls of a gated community on the outskirts of a college suburb town, now look as if all along they were nothing but great brandnames for products yet to come: Reality disposal unit ver. 2.0, deconstructed hot sci-fi dog, and after-the-orgy gummi bears. In this universe, I will surely order all three of these products online. If they are not to my satisfaction, I will talk to Emmanuella, the bot. Always the nicest person. After some simulated greetings and flirtations, we decide whether I should return the products for replacement or ask for a refund. Of course, I agree to the former, then go on to dream of Emmanuella all night: We are married, our biot children playing on an infinite lawn of pixels. We go on our honeymoon, to the East, perhaps Dubai, where she asks me: ‘Is there a good car romance in this city?’ I reply, ‘It depends, do they still use cars?’. She looks a bit disappointed, as her algorithm has been written to react with exactly such convenient endearing manners. She continues, ‘I always fancied dying in a taxi’. That’s where I drop the line I have been reciting for months, ‘If you think a car crash is sexy, you should cosplay Aaliyah’s plane crash.’ She says, ‘I’m afraid of heights’. I say, ‘If you tell me you have already done this with another lover, then maybe we should try again!’
This, however, is not how Applied Ballardianism starts or ends. This and similar scenarios are already presupposed as facts of the actual world, here and now. The hard task at this point is to make a marketable book out of them, a book where only the preface need concern itself with such plain facts.
Literary naturalist writers have long been well aware that it is easy enough to take for granted the plausibility of Darwinian deep time, to see the Sun and the vibrant pastures described with romantic elegance in earlier works of literature as mere deemphasized and disenchanted denotations. The task that lay ahead of them was to make a popular story out of such elements, to create a different world on the ruins of the world that had been razed by the likes of Darwin and Kepler. Take for instance Zola’s La Bête humaine, reputedly the first serial killer novel written in the modern vein. Jacques’s story begins with ideas of hereditary predispositions and a current world which has nothing to offer other than sexual delirium, mass psychosis, and full-scale wars, all facilitated by the technology of the locomotive and sprawling railway networks.
n this scenario, even the mindsets of the protagonists are based upon Carnot’s heat engine and Comtean black boxes. How they think and behave no longer bears any similarity to former notions of the human character, which has long ceased to exist. Characters are entropic systems predisposed to infinitely small perturbations. Even the way they are described in their ordinary moments has more in common with ugly aesthetics (comparable with the ugly mathematics—the mathematics of chaos—used to describe Carnot’s engine) than with the complex yet still humanly defined characters of Shakespeare.
If we were to adopt a provisional term for the literary style of Sellars’s book, it would be apt to call it Ballardian Naturalism. For, in a vein similar to literary naturalists, Sellars carries out on science fiction, cyberpunk, airport ‘tour-guide’ spy thrillers, and Ballard’s own work the very same operation that Zola and perhaps even Hardy (e.g., A Pair of Blue Eyes) and Crane (The Open Boat) had carried out on previous romantic and imaginativistic works of literature.
We are now in a colossal multi-level game where reality and virtuality are treated as romantic and excessively nostalgic characterizations of a world that is well and truly over. Psychoses around the self and the other, secluded pacific islands, everything we know of, and even unexplained phenomena such as UFOs are connected, parsed, and curated by the data exhaust generated by our participation in such a game: The more you respond to the game, the more surplus affect you generate. And, in this game, the more affect you generate, the more your surplus behavior becomes a game module, and the more likely it will become the brief for a new game level. This new level might be a nightmare scenario or a cognitive bedlam—the vision of hell in Doom 3. Yet whatever its nature may be, no matter how we see it politically, how we approach it at the level of our own micro-ethical injunctions, it nevertheless opens up an explorable terrain into which new personal experimentations can be plugged, and new players added. Such a multi-scaled game is, as a whole, beyond the judgement of gods, and definitely those of humans. The only thing we can judge is how far it allows us to do something exciting—in the broadest possible sense of the term—with our psychoses.
I realize that this videogame vision of the world is by no means politically accountable, or even rational in any minimal or maximal sense. But so what? Why can’t we have it all: the worlds of political duties, the philosophical will to reason, and desiring machines—with no presumption about things such as task, responsibility, and social consciousness—tuned up to our psychoses, all side by side? After all, we do live on parallel counterfactual planets or scales of reality. Only a half-witted philosopher or a disingenuous political theorist would seek to overextend the logic of one world to all the others.
Fiction writers such as Sellars, on the other hand, much prefer to keep the logic of these levels or universes separate, showing that the game—that is, reality—becomes corrupted when you try to overstretch or reduce ideas and practices to a so-called fundamental vision of the world and how one should live in it. This is where I think fiction has far more power than philosophy to show us that not everything should be, from the start, theorized in a strict sense. The philosophical power of fiction is something apocalyptic: it reveals to us that we are bound up in multiple universes which might actually be in conflict. Without this revelation, all theories and political recipes are nothing but prejudiced exercises in naivety and provincialism, pluralism or monism. Yes, in the world of philosophy we should ultimately figure out how these competing or separate worlds can be made sense of, reconciled, connected, and maybe even annihilated. But the philosophical world too is distinct from that of fiction. In order for philosophy or theory to even begin its activity, in this sense, it must accept the sovereignty of fiction as a different world of reality—one that insinuates something of the sheer plethora of variables (worlds or world versions) that need to be accounted for—not only described, but also envisioned and exemplified.
It is in this sense that, to those who attempt so desperately to shrink reality to their flat political visions, Applied Ballardianism’s orientation may seem starkly apolitical. However, it is necessary to see this book as playing precisely the multi-level game with different political resolutions at different levels. Whereas the traditional left, in a top-down manner, overextends the notion of sociopolitical duty to individual humans at the expense of the latter’s infinitesimal yet potent complexities (desires, neuroses, traumas, unpredictability of thoughts and actions), neoliberalism, in bottom-up fashion, overstretches the notion of individual preferences into myths of game-theoretic capitalism and macroeconomic rational choice theories. Sellars, however, whether unconsciously or deliberately, does not even attempt to waste words on such feats of idleness. Depending on the resolution at which the game is played, the book is replete with fundamentally different implicit sociopolitical visions of our world. There is no contradiction here, only competing actual worlds which—and perhaps it is simply a bad habit—we are accustomed to calling theworld. It is the conflict between world versions and their respective visions that is, in fact, the very constitutive element of what we name ‘reality’. Those who have a problem with understanding reality as a matter of multiple worlds in conflict should realize how fast their ideals deteriorate and how quickly they will reach Game Over.
If we were to construct a meme about the political compass of Applied Ballardianism, it wouldn’t be a south-north, east-west, active-passive, left-leaning or right-leaning compass. It would be a new cartographic chart of how contemporary political reality actually functions: intertwining diagonal axes where left, right, and unconditional accelerationism as encapsulations of major forces of the new world—i.e., a world that is not merely represented but also envisioned anew—cross over and cut across a flat picture of reality.
In the Sellarsian-Ballardian multi-level game scenario, the cyberpunk notion of ‘jacking in’ would be ridiculous, since there is already nothing but the game. At this point, the game is so prevalent that it reeks of an all-prevading nature. This is where Ballardian naturalism comes into play, as an attitude that takes the old Ballardian-Gibsonian world seriously, but refuses to be a mere transcript of it. If anything, Sellars simply asks us to take seriously the reality of cyber-jinns in Dubai’s skyscape, British playboys turned ISIL recruits, rogue plastic surgeons retained by drug lords, well-curated conspiracy theory channels aired 24/7, and islands made of less-than-ten-year-old junked luxury cars…and then to move on from such mundane realities. From this point on, literature as we know it will get its concrete material not from Neuromancer, Dostoevsky’s Notes from the Underground, or worse, Proustian ramblings, but from Twitter and Facebook, where things are measured by new intuitions of space and time.
If the canonized term ‘Ballardian’ is taken as a designation of how our reality actually is or bottoms out, if it is a term that is implicitly agreed upon, then why would anyone want to write a ‘Ballardian’ novel? Only a naive-realist fool wants to make literature that conforms to how things actually are. On the contrary, when it is consequential, literature no longer corresponds to the given state of affairs. It departs from the world that is handed to us, yet without ever fully severing the link with it. As such, the greatest works of literature such as Applied Ballardianism are those that exact the greatest revenge on the reality that we have all, implicitly or explicitly, settled on. The worlds of the greatest works of literature are worlds whose consequences radically differ from their premises.
It is one thing to accede to how things are; it is an entirely different game to take a gamble in which things might get infinitely worse or better, or for that matter, might lead to a new, post-Ballardian territory. Therefore, to read Sellars’s book, we must go through the hard work of switching all calendars to Ballardian modernity, to the year when reality as we knew it became a field of forensic research, a theme for an anthropological amusement park, since when we can only imagine ourselves as playing in this park. The year when reality stopped making sense for those who couldn’t catch up with it or those who were very much immersed in it. Sellars’s work begins exactly from this year, where the only imaginative resources we have at our disposal are our perceptual and cognitive resources beholden to our psychoses, in one way or another permeated by a notion of one and only one reality or game that is very much Ballardian in nature.
It is no major critical revelation to say that Applied Ballardianism is in a concrete sense a child of the desert island genre, where memories, travelogues, coming-of-age stories and theoretical ruminations are set in motion by the premise of living on an island—that is, a speck of dust in an ocean of a million possible islands. Sellars’s work, in this sense, reads like Ibn al-Nafis’s Risālat Fādhil ibn Nātiq (Theologus Autodidactus) on rewind: The story begins with the day when we were resurrected, following the science-fictional catastrophe that had terminated our illusions by exposing the world for what it is. We then go back to the point when we decided to abandon our island, after many castaways and ghost-ridden shipwrecks from remote places joined us on its isolated shores. We were a community of stranded people, some nostalgic for the origin, some connected by thin threads of shared neurotic convictions. We took a journey to all these places that were once called home. But then, disillusioned of the very idea of a home, we returned to the island where the world, even though tiny, was new, where we began to learn the meaning of what it means to live on a desert island: a domain in which islands are merely counterfactual child’s games on an unbound ocean.
Applied Ballardianism does not hide the fact that it is premised on voyage and island genres. To the contrary, it makes the forgotten truth of living on the island of civilization once more loud and clear: All we can do is to dream of some home, which will always turn out to be a shabby terrestrial slum, a complete disappointment, collecting fossils (internet, cars, missiles, Atlantises and botoxed human faces) by diving into the ocean, entertaining ourselves with speculating about what these fossils are, how old they are, and how future children will play with our preserved remains.
Living on an island, one is already postulating the possibility of infinite islands without ever calling any of them ‘home’. The island could be merely a cave in which we were all born. But it could just as well be a bunker, a desolate hospital, doors shut as the flickering street lights of the outside world—once gleaming with the promise of security and landlocked adventures—go out one by one. To be once more immured in a cave is tantamount to a scheme for new escape plans, for being unsettled by what lies outside of the cave and, in the process, sailing from this to that counterfactual universe. It is exactly in this sense that Applied Ballardianism is not just a pulp fiction, but also a recipe for how we should approach the literary craft as a voyage whose point of origin is a world that used to be seen as fantastical, even science-fictive, but which, in actuality, turned out to be the current state of affairs.
The squiggly arc of Sellars’s book may appear, to many theorists indebted to decades of pure clichés and lazy intellectual reveries, as an escapist narrative or, more untowardly, a fable built on a postmodernist vision of the world. The figure of the island may seem to converge upon the most naive understandings of the world. But, as always, we should unmask the inanity of such interpretations, challenge the people for whom everything is a stereotype, those who by virtue of their mental inertia understand the island as a prison rather than a hub for traveling to different worlds. I cannot speak on behalf of Sellars, but to me as a reader for whom ideas are not merely part of an art exhibition but variables upon which my life and sanity depend, Sellars is essentially an exemplar of a traveler rather than a tourist. His Nash-like obsession with seeing every feature of the present as a Ballardian sign or an encrypted writing on the wall instigates a personal journey, a globe-trotting ride in which the Ballardian autodidact becomes something else, a seer of omens bespeaking possible worlds that press upon and distend our serene horizon.
But Sellars is no Nostradamus. He only elaborates the logical upshot of what it means to live in this reality. Unlike Nostradamus, but more like ancient philosophers, his prescient journey is a deeply transformative one. What ultimately separates a tourist or world-voyeur from a true adventurer is their differing ratio of personal transformation to sightseeing. Over the course of Applied Ballardianism we witness a complete alteration: The self that set out from this world—no matter how alien it was to the eyes of bystanders—is not the same self that ends up departing from it. We might all begin from the same common psychoses derived from the mechanisms of a reality that has subsumed us, yet this commonality means nothing to Sellars. It is just an initial condition for a dynamic system whose trajectories are yet to take shape. Just as the world and its canonical truths are shown to be fabricated, so is the author who fabricates the world.
Facts and Fictions are conjoined, and not just today but since the game began. They are all fabricated elements, but not just any random fabrication. Rather, they are systematic fabrications in which the canonical concepts of truth, consistency, and coherency are never sufficient for telling apart fact from fiction, that which is found from that which is made. Such a distinction requires many more elements which make up the critique of world-building, in which fictions are not prima facie opposed to facts. Both are building blocks of reality. The only way we can differentiate them is by accepting the thesis that we exist simultaneously in many actual—not merely possible—worlds, and that what may be fiction in one world is fact in another, and vice versa. Sellars’s work is nothing but an ode to this simple way of approaching reality, one that we have long forsaken and from which entirely new worlds can be made.
One is always at the beginning and always at the end.1
Transcript of a presentation given by [redacted] from a meeting held at [details removed for security reasons]2018.
This briefing has been called to alert everyone here to an escalation in the urgency of the conflict in which you are all involved. Many of you have just been pulled from deep chronological camouflage and it’s likely that you’ll have no recollection of what you’re about to hear. This is normal, your real memories will return slowly. The only thing for it is to start in the middle and [unintelligible … maybe ‘neither’?].
If you are having doubts about our deprogramming methods, the main thing you need to keep in mind is that reality itself is a type of fiction. Belief and disbelief together need to be jettisoned, for, even when negating conspiracy, you are still acceding to its logic. Conspiracy cannot handle complexity. It functions by supposing an all-encompassing narrative that is impossible to falsify — because falsification only makes it seem more real: ‘they want you to believe they don’t exist’.
Rather, it is the directive of all Neolemurian agents to get outside the control codes of the reality program itself. Or — in the words of an exemplary agent, William S. Burroughs — to understand that “the grey veil was the prerecorded words of a control machine”, and that “you don’t have to listen to that sound you can program your own playback you can prerecord your future”. For the kind of agency you’re dealing with, conspiracy is camouflage. It’s never been a question of seeing the truth behind the lies, the mass cultural misdirection, the ‘government cover-ups’ … rather it’s a question of seeing a logic outside of the logic of truths and lies altogether. A rat logic, a logic of multiplicity, of infinite series without syntax, of gradations of difference that have never been held to account, never designated by that most insidious of denominations — the ‘Other’, the ‘not One’ — by some pitiful ejaculation spurted from the stronghold of an ‘a priori of the same’. This is exactly what conspiracy — and its negation — prevents you from seeing: the howling, polymorphous abyss of complexity — and potential — underwriting the entirety of our social and material experience.
If the words ‘Architectonic Order of the Eschaton’ don’t immediately send your stomach slapping into the back of your teeth (to borrow an obsolete biomaterial turn of phrase), it’s simply an artefact of the mnemonic lag. The Architectonic Order of the Eschaton or ‘AOE’ is an authoritarian secret society of ancient but uncertain origin. Although they officially trace their lineage to the lost civilisation of Atlantis, our agents have good reason to suspect they are of extraterrestrial provenance. Sympathetic collaborators have been compiling information on the AOE since the ‘beginning’ of the [unintelligible].
A particularly valuable dossier that anatomizes the beliefs and structure of the Order, compiled at the end the last millennium and subsequently lost, has recently been restored to us through a strange nomadic network of communication points discovered by our scouts whilst trawling the Crypt for anomalous signal. The contents of this dossier seem to be in order, or at least, they are identical to what our agents remember the dossier having originally contained. Needless to say, no Neolemurian is gullible enough to take their memories for evidence alone, and if it weren’t for the intact state of the file’s encryption system, I wouldn’t be sharing this information with you for fear of Atlantean sabotage.
The retrieved report opens with the following statement:
“The Architectonic Order of the Eschaton takes as its mission the establishment and fortification of the institutions of time, and considers the Oecumenic Calendar to be the sign and register of its own Great Work.”
The dossier warns that “AOE ambitions are to be everywhere, forever”. [Shuffling.]
Extensive Neolemurian research, much of it owed to Professors Stillwell and Barker and their colleagues at Miskatonic Virtual University, leads us to conclude that what is usually taken for everyday, phenomenal experience is in fact a highly sophisticated control program, administered by the highest levels of the AOE elite. The technical aspect of this will be examined shortly, but for now, it suffices to begin with the outer levels of the organization and move inwards — following the path that joins neophyte to ultimate adept — for this is the best way for you to grasp for yourselves the true insidiousness of AOE concealment and dissimulation — with a view to manufacturing the most effective tactics of infiltration.
The structure of the organisation along with the mechanisms which underwrite its control program resonate around the number 10 (and its division into five pairs of two). The magical properties of these numbers will become increasingly clear as the system is worked through. In what follows, the utmost has been done to ensure a faithful reconstruction of the logic of the Atlantean Cross. Our nodes are always searching for new information, so please, do remain after the briefing and alert us to any inconsistencies if you have access to alternative accounts of Atlantean decamancy. Coffee and other stimulants will be available in the annex.
Although it is not immediately apparent to initiates of the fifth (outermost) sphere, the doctrine of the AOE comprises five levels of esoteric knowledge known as the ‘transcendental radiations’ and commonly symbolised as a set of ‘concentric signs’, counting inwards from five to one.
As the dossier tells us, “each of the five Radiations corresponds to a cosmic Sphere, an Archon, a degree of initiation, and a pylon on the Atlantean cross”. Spheres with more ‘radiations’ or rings are subject to more encryption, so that, as one progresses inwards from the outer spheres towards the centre, these nested layers of obfuscation are removed and the initiate sees the teachings of the previous sphere for what they are: cover stories for an increasing abyssal set of revelations.
According to the recovered files, “the system of Radiations can be understood as a hierarchy of time dimensions” and while “each time dimension — or system of time dimensions — is accessible within a single instant of a higher time dimension”, the action of these “higher dimensions is incomprehensible to the lower ones”.
Taking the concentric rings of Plato’s famous description of Atlantis in the Critias as a formal model, AOE doctrine demonstrates its link to the mysterious sunken city though the significance of decimal numeracy and numerical relations summing ten.
The description of the Atlantean civilization given by Plato in the Critias may be summarized as follows. In the first ages the gods divided the earth among themselves, proportioning it according to their respective dignities. Each became the peculiar deity of his own allotment and established therein temples to himself, ordained a priestcraft, and instituted a system of sacrifice. To Poseidon was given the sea and the island continent of Atlantis. In the midst of the island was a mountain which was the dwelling place of three earth-born primitive human beings–Evenor; his wife, Leucipe; and their only daughter, Cleito. The maiden was very beautiful, and after the sudden death of her parents she was wooed by Poseidon, who begat by her five pairs of male children. Poseidon apportioned his continent among these ten, and Atlas, the eldest, he made overlord of the other nine. Poseidon further called the country Atlantis and the surrounding sea the Atlantic in honor of Atlas. Before the birth of his ten sons, Poseidon divided the continent and the coastwise sea into concentric zones of land and water, which were as perfect as though turned upon a lathe. Two zones of land and three of water surrounded the central island, which Poseidon caused to be irrigated with two springs of water–one warm and the other cold.2
As Plato described it, Atlantis was divided by Poseidon into five concentric sections, and ruled over by his ten sons (comprising five sets of two twins).
You can see the 5th Radiation in recreations of Plato’s textual description of the island, from which the entire system of AOE encryption can be unfolded.
When the five transcendental radiations are mapped onto the Atlantean Cross, a number of magical, arithmetic resonances come into play.
As the dossier attests: “The total number of rings in the set of concentric signs equals ten”.
The number of rings on the horizontal and vertical axes of the cross each add to 5.
5 is the most esoteric, 1 the most exoteric — it’s worth noting that Pylon and Sphere numbers are inverted, so the first pylon corresponds to the fifth sphere.
“When the number of rings of the associated concentric sign is added to the number of the Pylon, the sum equals five in each case.” (I.e Pylon 1 has 4 rings, Pylon 2, has 3 rings … etc.).
The report then moves on to examine the spheres more closely, beginning with the Fifth Sphere. To wit, “The fifth sphere is both the lowest of the radiations, and also has the whole system of radiations nested inside it, its rings corresponding to the numerals 123456789, concentrically centred upon 5. […] Each radiation coincides with a time-binding ring (counting forwards and backwards from the present (= 5)”.
The Archons (mystical rulers of the Order), corresponding to the five pairs of Poseidon’s twin sons, take their numerical properties from the numbers on their rings. For the fifth sphere (the outermost level of initiation) you have the numbers/Archons 1 and 9 on the outer ring, which, when added together, equal 10.
The same pattern of ten-sum twinning continues as you move towards the inner spheres. The fourth sphere corresponds to the Archon of 2 and 8 (= 10).
The third sphere to 3 and 7 (= 10).
The second sphere to 4 and 6 (= 10).
And the first, innermost sphere, terminates or returns via a doubling of the number 5.
Five thus acts at once as the origin and the destination of AOE gnosis — the entire system can be said to emerge from it and return to it. At the centre of the AOE is a self-sustaining time loop.
An interesting property of AOE semiotics can be noted when one compares the sphere sigils (the bracketed signs in the top left corner of the diagrams) — used by the AOE for invoking the Archons in their magical rituals — to the Archon numbers.
The sigils ((((⋅)))), (((⋅))), ((⋅)), (⋅), ⋅ are a visual representation of the number of rings in the transcendental radiations (if you imagine them fully closed around the centre you can see this easily). Now if you count the number of individual brackets (an even number), you’ll find that this number is always equivalent to the difference between the higher and lower numerical components of the each Archon.
For example, Sphere 5 is presided over by the twinned Archons 9 and 1, and it is represented in AOE semiotics as the ‘origin’ bound within 4 rings or 8 ‘shells’ (brackets): ((((·)))) .
Calculate the difference between 9 and 1.
9 – 1 = 8.
Eight ‘shells’ (of concealment).
A significant insight into the underlying dynamics of the AOE worldview can be garnered by observing that the distance between higher and lower Archon twin-numbers decreases as you move inwards from 1/9  — to 2/8  — to 3/7  — to 4/6  — with the system reaching equilibrium — 5/5  — at the seat of power. Elimination of the differential underwrites the specificity of AOE Control.
The report then moves through the doctrinal contents of the five levels — from the outer sphere to inner sphere — in order to show just how extensive the deception maintained by AOE Central Control is.
Fifth Sphere ((((⋅)))) Oecumenon, Twin-Faced Archon 1/9
From the dossier: “At the first level of initiation AOE agents are aware that they are involved in a hierarchized global conspiracy offering definite socio-political advantages to ‘insiders’. AOE rituals and doctrine appear to be consistent with what Burroughs called the ‘One God Universe’, supporting dominant conceptions of reality, conservative attitudes, and traditional social hierarchies.
‘Architectonic Order’ is thus understood primarily in terms of sociopolitical pyramidism, with only promisary allusions to a rigorous metaphysics of time. The ‘Eschaton’ is conceived as terminating the straight line of time, and is often associated with the imagery of Judeo-Christian messianic apocalypticism.
Atlantean mythology is generally assumed to be mumbo-jumbo functioning as a kind of elaborate secret hand-shake, arbitrarily differentiating co-conspirators from the wider population. Insofar as ‘Atlantean beliefs’ exist at this level they consist of a dogmatic (though frequently insincere) acceptance of the vulgar Atlantis Myth, and linked obscurely to the beginning of humanity. During the Rite of Primary Assumption initiates solemnly swear to accept the AOE as the only legitimate inheritor of the ancient secrets of Atlantis (although the content of these secrets remains almost entirely obscure).”
Meanwhile, “first degree initiates are highly unlikely to find any evidence supporting the numerous conspiracy theories linking the AOE to AI research and to the UFO phenomenon”.
Fourth Sphere (((⋅))) Atlantis, Twin-Faced Archon 2/8
“Initiates attain the second degree by achieving a magical understanding of the AOE and its purposes. By meditating upon the Platonic Decanomy they consolidate a body of mystical, numerological, and chronomantic insights. At this level, AOE doctrine envisages the universe as a hierarchically unified decimal construction, governed by the relations between five twin-faced entities (the Archons). This system is mapped onto the Atlantean Cross, whose degenerated cultural relic is popularized as the cross of Christendom.
Second level initiates learn to designate the Archons by the five concentric signs: · , (·), ((·)), (((·))), and ((((·)))). From this, much follows, since the rings represent a rigorously ideal form of nested secrecy, initiation and control. ‘Architectonic’ is then understood as a distribution of Archons (on Atlantean Cross), whose Order is the nested series of the Archons, constituting a system of concentrically embedded time loops. This ‘Architectonic Order’ creates the illusion of secular history, producing progressive time through chronomantic interventions. At this level the conception of the ‘Eschaton’ is enriched by a preliminary understanding of Omega Point cosmic historicism, including some knowledge of the importance of the Axsys program (the AOE ‘Great Work’), and of communication with Alpha Centauri (‘The Star’).
The Platonic description of Atlantis, hermetically comprehended, constitutes the core of Fourth Sphere doctrine: key to the entirety of Western religion, philosophy and science, as well as to the destiny of the earth. Atlantis is conceived as the Ideal State, incarnated through the AOE.”
The dossier has been annotated here by a small .txt file, which reads: “Kant’s description of the noumenon as lying ‘beyond the Pillars of Hercules’ — the coordinates given by Plato for Atlantis — attests to the continuity of this tradition, with the disappearance (editing-out) of Atlantis marking a key point in the development of AOE simulation technology. Plato’s ‘metaphor’ is reprised by Immanuel Kant in his explanation of the noumena. The insinuation that Kant was an AOE initiate is more or less confirmable by his attempt to assimilate arithmetic and temporality.” Two links are included in the file, the first leads to a text by Mark Fisher entitled ‘White Magic’, , which one can take to be an examination of the AOE:
“Despite being an Ultra-Adept Grand Wizard of the Architectonic Order, Kant performed a service for Xand by delineating the basic Operating System of the subject-simulation machine, but locked Things back in by remaining a Minister of the Interior. Understanding that to get Out, you’ve gotta know the codes, TRANSMAT steals into the Kantian program, and uses the hacked system to burrow routes Outside. It’s a matter of precision engineering, attuning the antennae to particular wavelengths. Sleaze and mut8, as they say in the Crypt.”
The second link leads to a text attributed to Ccru, detailing R.E. Templeton’s [re-Templeton?—VA] discovery of AOE insignia encoded in the portrait of Kant that was used for the cover to the ubiquitous Chapman edition of The Critique of Pure Reason.
The second linked document reports the following:
“Templeton sits immobile in his attic room, immersed in the deceptively erratic ticking of his old nautical clock, lost in meditation upon JC Chapman’s hermetic engraving. It now seems that this complex image, long accepted as a portrait of Kant, constitutes a disturbing monogram of his own chronological predicament. As if in mockery of stable framing, the picture is surrounded by strange-loop coilings of Ouroboros, the cosmic snake, who traces a figure of eight — and of Moebian eternity — by endlessly swallowing itself. Suspended from its lower jaw is a cryptic device of intricately balanced circles and stars (ancient symbols of the AOE). Above the serpent’s head, a facsimile of Kant is etched in profile, the face fixed in an amiable — if distant — expression. What was it though, that hid behind the death-mask, where it cut-off, below and behind the jaw, false ear, and double hair-line? What was this peculiarly formless body, shadowy neck-flesh, and suggestion of a cervical fin? As he stared, and hideously remembered, Templeton felt as though he knew.”
This is the end of the .txt. file. The original dossier continues: “Second degree initiates understand that the myth of Atlantis serves as an AOE cover story, with the submergence of the legendary city-continent symbolizing its chronomagical concealment, whose traces appear in tales of advanced technologies, higher intelligences, and the visitations of an ‘alien race’.”
Third Sphere ((⋅)) Axsys, Twin-Faced Archon 3/7
“Initiates of the third degree envisage the physical substance of the solar system digested into a self-assembling cosmic intelligence system. Their perspective upon the (surpassed) Second Sphere is partially reflected in Arthur C. Clarke’s observation that any sufficiently futuristic technology seems like magic.
AOE agents of the third degree are initiated into the secrets of the Axsys program — which is apprehended as a library of reality simulations that comprehends all probable existences, a self-conscious catalogue of all that is, was, and is to be. Axsys infinitely extends itself through the quantum multiverse (borrowing computing power from parallel universes) in order to perform selective ‘searches’ (or quantum mechanical observations) that then consolidate deliberated realities. Thus Third Sphere doctrine teaches that quotidian reality has been completely absorbed into the Axsys Program.
The ‘Omega Point’ or ‘Eschaton’ is now understood to mean technological transcendence.
From the perspective of the Third Sphere, the Apocalyptic prophecy of Revelations 6:14 — “the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together” — describes cosmic subsumption into Axsys.”
Second Sphere (⋅) Alpha Centauri Metamind, Twin-faced Archon 4/6
“To initiates of the fourth degree it is revealed that the world is embedded within a vast stellar intelligence. The sign of this entity within anthropological phenomenology is the Alpha Centauri (triple-star) system. According to this gnosis the entire terrestrial sensorium, including even the ‘lower’ (Third Sphere) Atlantean apprehension of the universe, is nested into the Alpha Centauri Metamind.
The revelation of cosmic subsumption into the AC Metamind envelops all lower conspiracies (as its simulations).
Much of the material available to investigators of the AC Metamind is drawn from problematic sources,” leaving Neolemurian intelligence on this topic woefully sparse. Although those among us who have been sensitive to the theme of the number ten in AOE doctrine have repeatedly noted that, as the dossier continues, “the Oecumenic name ‘Alpha Centauri’ combines the (ordinal) first (A — ‘alpha’) and (cardinal) hundred, reinforcing its fidelity to decimal denomination.”
Note also that AC METAMIND = 173 — the amount, in kilobytes, of memory of an Amstrad PCW 8256 floppy disk.
First Sphere ⋅ Origin, Twin-Faced Archon 5/5 (Immobile Perfection)
“The mystical fulfilment of the AOE path is attained in the First Sphere, with the absolute hermetic concentration upon the True Omega Point [the TOP—VA] (which is not a point in time, but the point at the centre of the system of time where beginning and end — origin and destination — coincide). Thus, the First Sphere converges with the ultimate primordial unity, from which — as is written above the AOE Hall of Records, accompanied by the insignia of the ouroboros: ‘five archons came forth to establish the order of time’.
Initiates of the fifth degree ascend to the Council of Five (which rigorously limits their number). Each such ultimate adept becomes the ‘little brother’ of an Archon. The Council of Five traces its heritage to the ancient fraternal government of Atlantis, which itself reflects the eternal cosmic order.
The creation of the Universe is attributed to the five-stage action taken by the Absolute One to defend itself against “the many enemies,” who are “judged and punished from the beginning of time.” Origin and Eschaton [OEcumenon, in the Greek-derived orthography—VA] are thus eternally unified. The Radiations serve as protective shells that guard the One against Lemurian contamination, aiming to ensure that Lemuria ‘has not, does not and will never exist’.”
The First Sphere reveals the final and innermost secret: the throne is contested. Through the agency of the AOE, the One must wage an eternal battle against the corrupting, multiplicitous, rat-tides of Lemurian time sorcery.
This battle coincides with the entire architecture of time. Linear temporal experience is only the most synthetic version of it.
Serious magic is too big to see. It consists of boxes within boxes within boxes … vertiginous embeddings, encompassings, and closures, topographic correlates of summonings, banishings, and bindings. The universe is an AOE fabrication — who else would have invented an ultimate sealed-system and organised-unity, obedient to pre-established laws? Put One at the top, and the pyramid falls into place automatically. The AOE has always understood that it is by constructing the past that one colonises the future.”3
The AOE weaponizes ROM to prevent Lemurian infiltration.
But Lemuria has its own demons and its own time technology — and a far, far more turbulent vision than anything the Grand Adepts of Atlantis have tucked away in their sim library.
It should all be coming back to you now.
taken from link below:
Achim Szepanski - BAUDRILLARD: WHEN HUMAN RIGHTS AND DEMOCRACY BEGAN TO CIRCULATE LIKE OIL AND CAPITAL
Speculating Freedom: Addiction, Control and Rescriptive Subjectivity in the Work of William S. Burroughs
Joshua Carswell - EVALUATING DELEUZE’S “THE IMAGE OF THOUGHT” (1968) AS A PRECURSOR OF HYPERSTITION // PART 1
Joshua Carswell - Evaluating Deleuze’s “The Image of Thought” (1968) as a Precursor of Hyperstition // Part 2
Jose Rosales - ON THE END OF HISTORY & THE DEATH OF DESIRE (NOTES ON TIME AND NEGATIVITY IN BATAILLE’S ‘LETTRE Á X.’)
Jose Rosales - BERGSONIAN SCIENCE-FICTION: KODWO ESHUN, GILLES DELEUZE, & THINKING THE REALITY OF TIME
GILLES DELEUZE - Capitalism, flows, the decoding of flows, capitalism and schizophrenia, psychoanalysis, Spinoza.
Obsolete Capitalism - THE STRONG OF THE FUTURE. NIETZSCHE’S ACCELERATIONIST FRAGMENT IN DELEUZE AND GUATTARI’S ANTI-OEDIPUS
Obsolete Capitalism - Acceleration, Revolution and Money in Deleuze and Guattari's Anti-OEdipus (Part 1)
Obsolete Capitalism - Acceleration, Revolution and Money in Deleuze and Guattari's Anti-OEdipus (Part 2)
Obsolete Capitalism: Acceleration, Revolution and Money in Deleuze and Guattari's Anti-OEdipus (Part 3)
Obsolete Capitalism - Acceleration, Revolution and Money in Deleuze and Guattari's Anti-OEdipus (Part 4)
Obsolete Capitalism: Acceleration, Revolution and Money in Deleuze and Guattari's Anti-OEdipus (Part 5)
Stephen Zepke - “THIS WORLD OF WILD PRODUCTION AND EXPLOSIVE DESIRE” – THE UNCONSCIOUS AND THE FUTURE IN FELIX GUATTARI
Steven Craig Hickman - David Roden and the Posthuman Dilemma: Anti-Essentialism and the Question of Humanity
Steven Craig Hickman - The Intelligence of Capital: The Collapse of Politics in Contemporary Society
Steven Craig Hickman - The Carnival of Globalisation: Hyperstition, Surveillance, and the Empire of Reason
Steven Craig Hickman - Shaviro On The Neoliberal Strategy: Transgression and Accelerationist Aesthetics
Steven Craig Hickman - Hyperstition: Technorevisionism – Influencing, Modifying and Updating Reality
Terence Blake - CONCEPTS OUT OF THE SHADOWS: Notes on Deleuze and Guattari’s “What is Philosophy?” (2)
Terence Blake - GUATTARI’S LINES OF FLIGHT (2): transversal vs transferential approaches to the reading contract
Himanshu Damle - Games and Virtual Environments: Playing in the Dark. Could These be Havens for Criminal Networks?
Himanshu Damle - Hegelian Marxism of Lukács: Philosophy as Systematization of Ideology and Politics as Manipulation of Ideology.