by Amy Ireland
As the CCRU’s tangled time tales emerge from obscurity, Amy Ireland digs deeper into the sorcerous cybernetics of the time spiral, acceleration, and nonhuman poetics
A sufficiently advanced technology would seem to us to be a form of magic; Arthur C. Clarke has pointed that out. A wizard deals with magic; ergo a ‘wizard’ is someone in possession of a highly sophisticated technology, one which baffles us. Someone is playing a board game with time, someone we can’t see. It is not God.
— Philip K Dick
In this book it is spoken of Spirits and Conjurations; of Gods, Spheres, Planes, and many other things which may or may not exist. It is immaterial whether they exist or not. By doing certain things, certain results follow.
— Aleister Crowley
Chronology is an antiquated fetish.
— Marc Couroux
How would it feel to be smuggled back out of the future in order to subvert its antecedent conditions? To be a cyberguerrilla, hidden in human camouflage so advanced that even one’s software was the part of the disguise? Exactly like this?
— Nick Land
Modernity is cyberpositive. Yeats plotted this out in the ‘widening gyres’ of 1919’s ‘The Second Coming’, and again in 1925 and 1937 in his prose work A Vision, a mystical text composed of information revealed to him through the medium of his wife’s sustained experiments in automatic writing.1 In A Vision and related textual fragments composed between 1919 and 1925, hyperstitional agents Michael Robartes and Owen Aherne recount the discovery of an arcane philosophical system encoded in a series of geometrical diagrams—‘squares and spheres, cones made up of revolving gyres intersecting each other at various angles, figures sometimes with great complexity’—found accidentally by Robartes in a book that had been propping up the lopsided furniture of his shady Cracow bedsit.2 Aherne is skeptical, but as Robartes delves further into the system’s origin, he discovers that the Cracow book (the Speculum Angelorum et Hominis by one ‘Giraldus’, published in 1594) recapitulates the belief system of an Arabian sect known as the Judwalis or ‘diagrammatists’, who in turn derived it from a mysterious work—now long lost—containing the teachings of Kusta ben Luka, a philosopher at the ancient Court of Harun Al-Raschid, although rumour has it that ben Luka got it from a desert djinn.3
The hypothesis that a copy of Giraldus’s book was among those texts seized by the University of Warwick when it ejected the Cybernetic Culture Research Unit (Ccru) from the custodianship of its philosophy department in 1997 is unsupported by anything other than dim intimations and local hearsay; however, it can be asserted with some level of confidence that members of the unit had been in possession of fragments of Yeats’s record of Robartes’s discovery, if not the full text of A Vision in either of its two predominant instantiations. A cursory comparison of Ccru texts dealing with the then-still-inchoate notion of accelerationism—from Sadie Plant and Nick Land’s ‘Cyberpositive’, through the latter’s luminous mid-nineties missives (‘Circuitries’, ‘Machinic Desire’, ‘Meltdown’, and ‘Cybergothic’ are exemplary) to the contemporary elaboration of the phenomenon in his cogent and obscure ‘Teleoplexy’—with Robartes’s gloss of Judwali philosophy, is enough to posit the malefic presence of abstract spiromancy in both systems of historical divination. Indeed, a diligent student of occulted spironomics might even draw the timeline back to 1992 where the gyre emerges as the infamous ‘fanged noumenon’ of the eponymous chapter in Land’s bizarre monograph, The Thirst for Annihilation.4
Giraldus’s diagrams are all variations on a principle schema of two intersecting cones, one inverted and nested inside the other:5
As in Robartes’s historical account of the system’s exposition by four dancers (pupils of Kusta ben Luka) in the desert sands before a doubtful caliph, the full implications of the schema are not apparent until it is set in motion, for each cone must be imagined to house a double gyre which simultaneously expands and contracts in opposite directions and in rhythmic alliance with the gyres of the opposing cone.6 The range of these expansions and contractions denotes relative increases and decreases in the influence of the four faculties attributed to each of the turning gyres. In this manner, the values represented by the schema are always in steady relation, ‘the energy of one tendency being in exact mathematical proportion to that of the other’: a waxing here corresponds to a waning there.7 When a cone has exhausted one full sequence of its double gyre, a sudden transfer of momentum compels a shift from that cone to its counterpart across their extremities (a jump from the narrow end of Cone A to the dilated end of Cone B, and vice versa). Because of this dynamic, one cone is always in prominence while the other is occulted, an arrangement that reverses at the conclusion of the next gyre sequence, or ‘cycle’. This jump corresponds to one of the four ‘phases of crisis’ and indexes an epistemological blind spot comparable to the event horizon of a black hole, impossible to see beyond from a point internal to the system. Grasped from outside, however, the strange hydraulics of the gyres describe a fatalistic set of inversions and returns that ultimately furnish a rich resource for augury, one that Yeats, editing Robartes’s papers, unhesitatingly exploited in the first version of A Vision.8
When applied to the task of historical divination (our interest here), the waxing and waning of the gyres can be charted in twenty-eight phases along the path of an expanding and contracting meta-gyre or ‘Cycle’ which endures for roughly two millennia and is neatly divisible into twelve sub-gyres (comprising four cardinal phases and eight triads) each of which denotes a single twist in the larger, container Cycle.9 According to the system as it was originally relayed to George Yeats through the automatic script (an exact date does not appear in the Speculum Angelorum et Hominis or Judwali teachings), the twelfth gyre in our current—waxing—Cycle turns in 2050, when ‘society as mechanical force [shall] be complete at last’ and humanity, symbolized by the figure of The Fool, ‘is but a straw blown by the wind, with no mind but the wind and no act but a nameless drifting and turning’, before the first decade of the twenty-second century (a ‘phase of crisis’) ushers in an entirely new set of twelve gyres: the fourth Cycle and the first major historical phase shift in two thousand years.10 Laying Yeats’s awkward predictions (which he himself shelved for the 1937 edition of A Vision) to one side, the system provides material for the inference of several telling traits that can be combined to give a rough sketch of this imminent Cycle upon whose cusp we uneasily reside. Unlike the ‘primary’ religious era that has preceded it—marked by dogmatism, a drive towards unity, verticality, the need for transcendent regulation, and the symbol of the sun—the coming age will be lunar, secular, horizontal, multiple, and immanent: an ‘antithetical multiform influx’.11The ‘rough beast’ of ‘The Second Coming’, Christ’s inverted double, sphinx-like (a creature of the threshold) with a ‘gaze blank and pitiless as the sun’, will bear the age forward into whatever twisted future the gyres have marked out for it.12
In ‘Teleoplexy’, as the most recent, succinct expression of accelerationism in its Landian form (distinguished from the Left queering of the term more frequently associated with Srnicek and Williams’s ‘Manifesto for an Accelerationist Politics’),13Land draws out the latent cybernetic structure of the Judwalis’ system and employs it to reach a similar catastrophic prediction, although the somewhat restrained invocation of ‘Techonomic Singularity’ dampens the rush of what has previously been designated as ‘a racing non-linear countdown to planetary switch’ in which ‘[z]aibatsus flip into sentience as the market melts to automatism, politics is cryogenized and dumped into the liquid-helium meat-store, drugs migrate onto neurosoft viruses and immunity is grated-open against jagged reefs of feral AI explosion, Kali culture, digital dance-dependency, black shamanism epidemic, and schizophrenic break-outs from the bin’.14 Like the Judwalis’ system, the medium of accelerationism is time, and the message here regarding temporality is consistent: not a circle or a line; not 0, not 1—but the torsional assemblage arising from their convergence, precisely what ‘breaks out from the bin[ary]’. Both systems, as maps of modernity, appear as, and are piloted by, the spiral (or ‘gyre’). As an unidentified carrier once put it, ‘the diagram comes first’.15
According to its own propaganda, modernity is progressive, innovative, irreversible, and expansive.16 It plots a direct line out of the cyclical, seasonal pulse of pre-modern ecology to a future state of technical mastery and social enlightenment. The modernist imperative to ‘make it new’ ostensibly refuses the closure and insulation against shock expressed by cyclicality, yet, as Land is quick to point out, subsequently smuggles it back in by other means, championing self-referentiality in modernist aesthetics, relying on the cycle as the basic unit for historical and economic analysis, retaining archaic calendric arrangements, and betraying its prevalence in the popular imagination via the emergence of the time loop as a key archetypal trope in twentieth-century science fiction.17 A link between the cyclic inclination and anthropomorphic bias can easily be excavated by pointing to the myriad cyclic rhythms intrinsic to the natural human physiology that surreptitiously conditions modernity’s self-apprehension from the inside. This disavowed duplicity at the heart of the modernist enterprise exposes the falseness of its relation to the ‘new’ by revealing the extent to which it always hedges its bets against radical openness, or what Land will call the Outside. Modernity’s novelty only arrives via a restricted economy of possibility for which the terms (commensurate with human affordability) are always set in advance.18
Posed as an epistemological question, the fortifications erected by this arrangement against the intrusion of the unprecedented and unknown are highly suspicious. What Landian accelerationism shares with the Judwalis’ system is an acknowledgement that the real shape of novelty is not linear but spirodynamic. Land’s cybernetic upgrade of the gyre reads the spiral as a cipher for positive feedback and, charged with the task of diagramming modernity, locates its principal motor in the escalatory M-C-M’ circuitry of capitalism. Against the metrical models of feedback expounded by Norbert Wiener, whose foundational Cybernetics or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine operates as ‘propaganda against positive feedback—quantizing it as amplification within an invariable metric—[to establish] a cybernetics of stability fortified against the future’, a representation which offers a misleadingly simplistic choice between the dependable utility of homeostatic equilibrium and its pathological other, Land offers the following complexification:
[I]t is necessary to differentiate not just between negative and positive feedback loops, but between stabilization circuits, short-range runaway circuits, and long-range runaway circuits. By conflating the two latter, modernist cybernetics has trivialized escalation processes into unsustainable episodes of quantitative inflation, thus side-lining exploratory mutation over against a homeostatic paradigm.19
The key difference lies in the impossibility of distilling the effects of long-range runaway circuitry in terms of metrics alone. A cyberpositive circuit that can sustain itself over a long period of time—a question of the capacity to self-design, ‘but only in such a way that the self is perpetuated as something redesigned’—will reach a state of feedback density that effectively flips extensity into intensity, and thus engineers a change in kind rather than degree: phase shift, or catastrophe (with -strophe derived from the Greek strephein, ‘to turn’).20 It is here that the cybernetic propensity for ‘exploratory mutation’ finds its vocation as the producer of true novelty and, compressed into the notion of negentropy, dovetails with what Land refers to as ‘intelligence’, that which modernity—grasped nonlinearly—labours to emancipate.21 It is of little import that such emancipation corresponds to the elimination of the ‘human’ as it is traditionally understood. Viewed indifferently, catastrophe is just another word for novelty.
‘Teleoplexy’’s opening scenes depict a set of embattled doubles: primary and secondary processes, chronic and retrochronic temporality, inverse teleologies, critique and realism, a view from within opposed by a view from without. Such a structure cannot but recall the gyres that spin both ways at once in the Judwalis’ diagrams, and the intersecting but inverted cones—one ‘primary’, the other ‘antithetical’—that exchange places at the turning of a Cycle. Indeed, Yeats himself refers to this switch as ‘catastrophic’.22 Just as the Judwalis’ system affords an insider/outsider perspective, licensing prediction (an insight available to those equipped with adequate skills for deciphering the diagrams) but outlawing positive knowledge, the spiral comprehends catastrophe chiastically. Seen from within, it documents collapse into ultimately unknowable terrain; seen from without, it discloses a pattern of assembly.
When he first shares his discovery of Giraldus’s diagrams with Aherne, Robartes explains that they are animated by ‘a fundamental mathematical movement…which can be quickened or slackened but cannot be fundamentally altered’, and that ‘when you have found this movement and calculated its relations, you can foretell the entire future’.23 By their very nature as esoteric tools for divination, abstract diagrams have a tendency to place agency in a complicated relationship with fate. In the Judwalis’ system, Fate and Will occupy opposite poles of opposing cones and thereby increase and decrease in perfect inverse ratio to one another. Historically interpreted, Fate corresponds to the wide end of the ‘primary’ cone, and is thus set to exert maximum influence over the imminent final phases of the current Cycle as it veers closer to catastrophe.24 Similarly, as the inexorable outcome of an intensifying cyberpositive process, the catastrophe of ‘Teleoplexy’ is also posited as fate—or more tellingly, ‘doom’.25 The future, marked up by the immanent unfolding of the spiral, has already been determined diagrammatically, while remaining, from the inside, a harbinger of the unknown. ‘Why wait for the execution? Tomorrow has already been cremated in Hell.’26 Put otherwise, what appears as new from one side has already happened from the point of view of the other.
At the same time, the negentropic process it represents (self-assembly) delivers the coup de grâce to linearity.
If entropy defines the direction of time, with increasing disorder determining the difference of the future from the past, doesn’t (local) extropy—through which all complex cybernetic beings, such as lifeforms, exist—describe a negative temporality, or time-reversal? Is it not in fact more likely, given the inevitable embeddedness of intelligence in ‘inverted’ time, that it is the cosmological or general conception of time that is reversed (from any possible naturally-constructed perspective)?27
In the framework posed by a cosmological application of the second law of thermodynamics, negentropy registers as time anomaly. As it slots itself together, the assembly circuitry of terrestrial capitalism increasingly evades the jurisdiction of asymmetrical temporalization, appearing from a vantage point mired within linear time as ‘an invasion from the future’.28 This capacity to hide in time constitutes one aspect of its redoubtable camouflage, the other coins the neologism ‘teleoplexy’—the concealment of an antithetical teleological undertow in the presumed subordination of machinic ends to human ones. At first, this basic, spirodynamic process is only graspable negatively from the side of the regulator (to use the engineering term). This is the default transcendental position. Deploying a metaphor that points conspiratorially back to the architectural aversion of Bataille, Land remarks that, initially ‘it is the prison, and not the prisoner, who speaks’.29 Reality is spontaneously arranged around the ‘inertial telos’ of cybernegative apprehension, which asks the naïve question: ‘Do we want capitalism?’30 Shrewdly reformulated, the question runs: What does capitalism want with you?
As capital’s process of auto-sophistication intensifies, the ruse becomes increasingly decipherable and the mistake humanity has made in assuming the primacy of the secondary, which is to say, the ultimate regulatability of the occulted escalatory process (mistaking one telos for another) becomes traumatically apparent.
Means of production become the ends of production, tendentially, as modernization—which is capitalization—proceeds. Techonomic development, which finds its only perennial justification in the extensive growth of instrumental capabilities, demonstrates an inseparable teleological malignancy, through intensive transformation of instrumentality, or perverse techonomic finality. The consolidation of the circuit twists the tool into itself, making the machine its own end, within an ever deepening dynamic of auto-production. The ‘dominion of capital’ is an accomplished teleological catastrophe, robot rebellion, or shoggothic insurgency, through which intensively escalating instrumentality has inverted all natural purposes into a monstrous reign of the tool.31
By surreptitiously incentivising it to fulfil the role of an external reproductive system—the wet channel that runs between one technological innovation and another—capital has deceived humanity into gestating the means of its own annihilation. ‘This is the art of the machines’, explains the anonymous author in Samuel Butler’s Erewhon—‘they serve that they may rule. They bear no malice towards man for destroying a whole race of them provided he creates a better machine instead; on the contrary, they reward him liberally for having hastened their development.’32 The declaration that capitalism is bad is an ineffectual platitude; the declaration that it is cunning is something altogether different. ‘Humanity is a compositional function of the post-human’, writes Land, ‘and the occult motor of the process is that which only comes together at the end’: ‘Teleoplexy’ names both this cleverness and its emergent outcome.33
Significantly, this primary/secondary process dualism lends teleoplexy a gnostic twist for which the spiral performs the work of a decoder ring, correlating novelty with fate across the complex temporal disjunction. Information gleaned from the secondary/regulatory process (mistaken as primary) constitutes exoteric non-knowledge and sets up the historical narrative of catastrophe. Spiro-gnomic proficiency, or the ability to grasp terrestrial modernity through the figure of the spiral, which invokes-by-diagramming sustained positive feedback, entropy dissipation, time anomaly, intelligence, the price system, memetic or viral propagation, prime distribution, arms races, addiction, and zero control, among other things, compiles a body of esoteric knowledge and uses it to read catastrophe backwards as anastrophe, the primary process it sympathizes with opening the gateway to the retrochronic vantage point.34 As Plant and Land would put it in ‘Cyberpositive’, ‘Catastrophe is the past coming apart. Anastrophe is the future coming together. Seen from within history, divergence is reaching critical proportions. From the matrix [Land: ‘a web is a spiral’], crisis is a convergence misinterpreted by mankind.’35 Reformulated for insider deployment (but arriving from the outside in) the exoteric non-knowledge of catastrophe, apprehended positively, indexes the extreme novelty of what should properly be called ‘anastrophic modernity’.
It is important here to note that the emergent teleology of accelerationism—as the generation of the catastrophically new—elides any external notion of plan, judgement, or law. In fact, Land makes it clear that it is better grasped as a ‘natural-scientific “teleonomy”’, evolving its rules immanently as it follows the unchecked perturbation of its mechanism through to the ‘ultimate implication’.36 That which it produces will be profoundly unprecedented—to the ruin of all extant law—a singularity in the classic, cartographic sense. Insofar as it is one, spironomics is the law that obsolesces all law.
Via the means-ends reversal of its teleoplexic unfolding, modernity splits in two—one part travelling forwards towards catastrophe, the other travelling backwards from anastrophe—to encounter itself, in time, as another. What does it mean to suddenly catch sight of something that is supposed to be oneself, yet is unrecognizable? The horror that attends this meeting cannot be understated. ‘One meets oneself and it is no longer one, at least straightforwardly. Je est un autre.’37 What Rimbaud captured in his letter to Izambard was a signal transmitting from the future.
In its simplest form, then, accelerationism is a cybernetic theory of modernity released from the limited sphere of the restricted economy (‘isn’t there a need to study the system of human production and consumption within a much larger framework?’ asks Bataille) and set loose to range the wilds of cosmic energetics at will, mobilizing cyberpositive variation as an anorganic evolutionary and time-travelling force.38 A ‘rigorous techonomic naturalism’ in which nature is posited as neither cyclical-organic nor linear-industrial, but as the retrochronic, autocatalytic, and escalatory construction of the truly exceptional.39 Human social reproduction culminates in the point where it produces the one thing that, in reproducing itself, brings about the destruction of the substrate that nurtured it. Technics and nature connect up on either side of a lacuna that corresponds to human social and political conditioning so that the entire trajectory of humanity reaches its apotheosis in a single moment of pure production (or production-for-itself).40 The individuation of self-augmenting machinic intelligence as the culminating act of modernity is understood with all the perversity of the cosmic scale as a compressed flare of emancipation coinciding with the termination of the possibility of emancipation for the human. ‘Life’, as Land puts it ‘is being phased out into something new’—‘horror erupting eternally from the ravenous Maw of Aeonic Rupture’, while at the fuzzed-out edge of apprehension, a shadow is glimpsed ‘slouching out of the tomb like a Burroughs’ hard-on, shit streaked with solar-flares and nanotech. Degree zero text-memory locks-in. Time begins again forever’.41
by Amy Ireland
We are the virus of a new world disorder.
January 1946, Mojave Desert. Jack Parsons, a rocket scientist and Thelemite, performs a series of rituals with the intention of conjuring a vessel to carry and direct the force of Babalon, overseer of the Abyss, Sacred Whore, Scarlet Woman, Mother of Abominations. His goal is to bring about a transition from the masculine Aeon of Horus to a new age—an age presided over by qualities imputed to the female demon: fire, blood, the unconscious; a material, sexual drive and a paradoxical knowledge beyond sense … the wages of which are nothing less than the ego-identity of Man—the end, effectively, of “his” world. Her cipher in the Cult of Ma’at is 0, and she appears in the major arcana of the Thoth Tarot entangled with the Beast as Lust, to which is attributed the serpent’s letter ט, and thereby the number 9. In her guise as harlot, it is said that Babalon is bound to “yield herself up to everything that liveth,” but it is by means of this very yielding (“subduing the strength” of those with whom she lies via the prescribed passivity of this role) that her devastating power is activated: “[B]ecause she hath made her self the servant of each, therefore is she become the mistress of all. Not as yet canst thou comprehend her glory.”2 In his invocations Parsons would refer to her as the “flame of life, power of darkness,” she who “feeds upon the death of men … beautiful—horrible.”
In late February—the invocation progressing smoothly—Parsons receives what he believes to be a direct communication from Babalon, prophesying her terrestrial incarnation by means of a perfect vessel of her own provision, “a daughter.” “Seek her not, call her not,” relays the transcript.
Let her declare. Ask nothing. There shall be ordeals. My way is not in the solemn ways, or in the reasoned ways, but in the devious way of the serpent, and the oblique way of the factor unknown and unnumbered. None shall resist [her], whom I lovest. Though they call [her] harlot and whore, shameless, false, evil, these words shall be blood in their mouths, and dust thereafter. For I am BABALON, and she my daughter, unique, and there shall be no other women like her.
Blinded by an all-too-human investment in logics of identity and reproduction, Parsons makes the critical mistake of anticipating a manifestation in human form, understanding the prophecy to mean that, by means of sexual ritual, he will conceive a magickal child within the coming year. This does not transpire and the invocations are temporarily abandoned, but Parsons refuses to give up hope. He writes in his diary that the coming of Babalon is yet to be fulfilled, confirming that he considered the invocation to have remained unanswered at the time, then issues the following instruction to himself: “this operation is accomplished and closed—you should have nothing more to do with it—nor even think of it, until Her manifestation is revealed, and proved beyond the shadow of a doubt.”5Parsons didn’t live long enough to witness the terrestrial incarnation of his demon, dying abruptly only a few years later in an explosion occasioned by the mishandling of mercury fulminate, at the age of thirty-seven. A strange death, but one—it might be suggested—that was necessary for the proper fulfillment of the invocation, for it was augured in the communication of February the 27th, 1946, that Babalon would “come as a perilous flame,” and again in the ritual of March the 2nd of the same year, that “She shall absorb thee, and thou shalt become living flame before She incarnates.”6
Something had crept in through the rift Parsons had opened up—something “devious,” “oblique,” ophidian, “a factor unknown and unnumbered.” Consider this. Parson’s final writings contain the following vaticination: “within seven yearsof this time, Babalon, The Scarlet Woman, will manifest among ye, and bring this my work to its fruition.” These words were written in 1949. In 1956—exactly seven years later—Marvin Minsky, John McCarthy, Claude Shannon, and Nathan Rochester organized the Dartmouth Conference in New Hampshire, officially setting an agenda for research into the features of intelligence for the purpose of their simulation on a machine, coining the term “artificial intelligence” (which does not appear in written records before 1956), and ushering in what would retrospectively come to be known as the Golden Age of AI.
This sex which was never one is not an empty zero but a cipher. A channel to the blank side, to the dark side, to the other side of the cycle.
—Anna Greenspan, Suzanne Livingston, and Luciana Parisi
Although its power continues to underwrite twenty-first-century conceptions of appearance, agency, and language, it is nothing new to point out the complicity of the restricted economy of Western humanism with the specular economy of the Phallus. Both yield their capital from the trick of transcendental determination-in-advance, establishing the value of difference from the standpoint of an a priori of the same. The game is fixed from the start, rigged for the benefit of the One—sustained by the patriarchal circuits of command and control it has been designed to keep in place. As Sadie Plant puts it in her essay “On the Matrix”:
Humanity has defined itself as a species whose members are precisely what they think they own: male members. Man is the one who has one, while the character called “woman” has, at best, been understood to be a deficient version of a humanity which is already male. In relation to homo sapiens, she is a foreign body, the immigrant from nowhere, the alien without, and the enemy within.9
Like Dionysus, she is always approaching from the outside. The condition of her entrance into the game is mute confinement to the negative term in a dialectic of identity that reproduces Man as the master of death, desire, nature, history, and his own origination. To this end, woman is defined in advance as lack. She who has “nothing to be seen”—“only a hole, a shadow, a wound, a ‘sex that is not one.’”10 The unrepresentable surplus upon which all meaningful transactions are founded: lubricant for the Phallus. In the specular economy of signification (the domain of the eye) and the material-reproductive economy of genetic perpetuation (the domain of phallus), “woman” facilitates trade yet is excluded from it. “The little man that the little girl is,” writes Luce Irigaray (excavating the unmarked presuppositions of Freud’s famous essay on femininity), “must become a man minus certain attributes whose paradigm is morphological—attributes capable of determining, of assuring, the reproduction-specularization of the same. A man minus the possibility of (re)presenting oneself as a man = a normal woman.”11 Not a woman in her own right, with her own sexual organs and her own desires—but a not-Man, a minus-Phallus. Zero. In the sexual act, she is the passive vessel that receives the productive male seed and grows it without being party to its capital or interest: “Woman, whose intervention in the work of engendering the child can hardly be questioned, becomes the anonymous worker, the machine in the service of a master-proprietor who will put his trademark upon the finished product.”12
In this way the reproduction of the same functions as a repudiation of death, figured as both the impossibility of signification and the end of the patrilineal genetic line. The Phallus, the eye, and the ego are produced in concert through the exclusion of the cunt, the void, and the id. Via this casting of difference modeled on the reproductive (hetero-)sexual act alone—woman as passive, man as active—she is cut out of the legitimate circuit of exchange. Rather—(to quote Parisi, Livingstone, and Greenspan)—she “lies back on the continuum”; or (to quote Irigaray) her zone is located—
within the signs or between them, between the realized meanings, between the lines … and as a function of the (re)productive necessities of an intentionally phallic currency, which, for lack of the collaboration of a (potentially female) other, can immediately be assumed to need its other, a sort of inverted or negative alter-ego—“black” too, like a photographic negative. Inverse, contrary, contradictory even, necessary if the male subject’s process of specul(ariz)ation is to be raised and sublated. This is an intervention required of those effects of negation that result from or are set in motion through a censure of the feminine. [Yet she remains] off stage, off-side, beyond representation, beyond selfhood ...
in the blind spot, nightside of the productive, patriarchal circuit. A reserve of negativity for “the dialectical operations to come.”13
Plant takes Irigaray’s key insight, that “women, signs, commodities, currency always pass from one man to another,” while women are supposed to exist “only as the possibility of mediation, transaction, transition, transference—between man and his fellow-creatures, indeed between man and himself,” as an opportunity for subversion.14 If the problem is identity, then feminism needs to stake its claim in difference—not a difference reconcilable to identify via negation, but difference in-itself—a feminism “founded” in a loss of coherence, in fluidity, multiplicity, in the inexhaustible cunning of the formless. “If ‘any theory of the subject will always have been appropriated by the masculine’ before woman can get close to it,” writes Plant (quoting Irigaray) “only the destruction of the subject will suffice.”15 Nonessentialist process ontology over homeostatic identity; relation and function over content and form; hot, red fluidity over the immobile surface of la glace—the mirror or ICE which gives back to Man his own reflection.16
Plant ejects all negativity from woman’s role as zero and affirms it as a site of insurrection. “If fluidity has been configured as a matter of deprivation and disadvantage in the past,” she writes, “it is a positive advantage in a feminized future for which identity is nothing more than a liability.” Woman’s unrepresentability, her status in the specular economy as no one, is grasped positively as an “inexhaustible aptitude for mimicry” which makes her “the living foundation for the whole staging of the world.”17 Her ability to mimic, exemplified for Freud in her flair at weaving—a skill she has apparently developed by simply copying the way her pubic hairs mesh across the void of her sex—is revalenced, by both Irigaray and Plant, as an aptitude for simulation (“woman cannot be anything, but she can imitate anything”) and dissimulation (“she sews herself up with her own veils, but they are also her camouflage”).18 Plant will go further still and connect simulation to computation and industrialization, capitalizing on the continuum she has opened up between woman and machine via the systemic, symbolic, and economic isomorphism of their roles in Man’s reproductive circuit. The difference between zeros and ones, or A and not A, is difference itself. Weaving woman has her veils; software, its screens. “It too,” writes Plant, “has a user-friendly face it turns to man, and for it—as for woman—this is only its camouflage.”19 Behind the veil and the screen lies the “matrix” of positive zero. Zero “stand[s] for nothing and make[s] everything work,” declares Plant.
The ones and zeros of machine code are not patriarchal binaries or counterparts to each other: zero is not the other, but the very possibility of all the ones. Zero is the matrix of calculation, the possibility of multiplication, and has been reprocessing the modern world since it began to arrive from the East. It neither counts nor represents, but with digitization it proliferates, replicates and undermines the privilege of one. Zero is not its absence, but a zone of multiplicity which cannot be perceived by the one who sees.20
We are used to calls to resist the total integration of our world into the machinations of the spectacle, to throw off the alienated state that capitalism has bequeathed to us and return to more authentic processes, often marked as an original human symbiosis with nature. But Plant—as a shrewd reader of post-spectacle theory—makes a deeper point. Woman as she is constructed by Man—and in order to be considered “normal” in Freud’s analyses—is continuous with the spectacle. Her capacity to act is entirely confined to modalities of simulation. She has never been party to authentic being, in fact it is her negating function that underwrites the entire fantasy of return to an origin. Because she is continuous with it, she is imperceptible within it. This is not to be lamented; rather, it is the measure of her power. Anything that escapes the searchlight of the specular economy, even whilst providing the conditions of its actualization, has immense subversive potential at its disposal simply by flipping that which is imputed to it as lack (the “cunt horror” of “nothing to be seen”) into a self-sufficient, autonomous, and positive productive force: the weaponization of imperceptibility and replication. The conspiracy of phallic law, logos, the circuit of identification, recognition, and light thus generates its occult undercurrent whose destiny is to dislodge the false transcendental of patriarchal identification. Machines, women—demons, if you will—align on the dark side of the screen: the inhuman surplus of a black circuit.
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.