by Steven Craig Hickman
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 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”.
—Ccru: Writings 1997-2003
One will find within the archives of the RealityStudio.org a community devoted to the life and works of William S. Burroughs. The images above are from a pseudo-magazine parody of Time. Burroughs fascination with temporal anomalies and the dark inways or escape hatches leading us out of the rhizome of our prison have been documented through the work of philosophers, social and literary critics, and cranks. To follow the mental record of this strange creature that friends spoke of as Bill is to enter a world of paranoia and drug induced delirium.
The account that follows charts William S. Burroughs’s involvement in an occult time war, and considerably exceeds most accepted conceptions of social and historical probability. It is based on ‘sensitive information’ passed to Ccru by an intelligence source whom we have called William Kaye.
—Lemurian Time War Cybernetic Culture Research Unit (Ccru)
In an essay that appeared first in The Iowa Review in 1972 and then as the chapter ‘William S. Burroughs’ in John Vernon’s book The Garden and the Map the notion of Burroughs involvement in the hidden or occult Time-Wars was revealed. Vernon remarked in this book:
What writers like John Barth, Thomas Pynchon, Alain Robbe-Grillet, and others attempt to show, that if the properties of the real world are taken seriously enough there is something essentially insane about that world, is taken for granted by Burroughs in his novels Naked Lunch, The Soft Machine, Nova Express, and The Ticket that Exploded. Burroughs’s world is reality; there can be no doubt about that. It is Martin’s reality film, Luce’s Time-Life-Fortune monopoly, the machinery of visual and auditory control—‘encephalographic and calculating machines film and TV studios, batteries of tape recorders’. But it is also an assault upon reality, an attempt to storm the reality studio and blow it up, to splice all the tape recorders into each other.
The notion that our world – the apparent world we perceive and gather from our perceptions memories of is in itself part of a vast conspiracy, a realm of delusion, delirium, and total delusion is at the core of a whole underground tradition that one might term the Occult. Not to be confused with the New Age world of modern occultists and the mysticism of transcendence and escape from the mundane worlds of our everyday utilitarian labors, the Occult is of another order in which the labors of intelligent men and women across the ages have conveyed the truth of a secret war against the Authority (i.e., the One, the System, the Great White Brotherhood, the Powers that be, etc. no matter what label, what name, it is a conspiracy of power against the human and human species). As Vernon would say,
What is real about Burroughs is precisely the image of the world as machinery that Zola and the nineteenth century saw. But this reality is so total as to be fantastic, insane, grotesque; it is a reality in the process of exploding—‘Only way to stop it’. Thus it is a reality whose machinery has come to life, like the kitchen gadgets that assault the housewife in Naked Lunch. It is a world whose objects (as in Sartre’s La Nausée) ‘stir with a writing furtive life’, and whose living beings are either programmed machines or Vegetable People who ‘tend gardens of pink flesh’. 1
What Burroughs envisioned was an early version of the Internet of things: Smart cities, AI, Robotics, and intelligent objects and artifacts which will one day anticipate, modify, modulate, and ubiquitously decide and make decisions moment by moment at the accelerating speed of light to produce around us an artificial world so meshed in fabricated and up-to-the-moment resolution that the natural world will have long ceased to matter and the Reality Studio of our Virtual Existence will have overtaken the external and substituted its fake systems and machinic life. A time when the nanosystems that inhabit our bodies will have replaced each aspect of our organic for anorganic substratum’s and we will be processed desiring machines bounded by the pure systems of command and control of a Total Algorithmic Environment (TAE).
Yet, Burroughs and many of his pre-cursors keep telling us that this is not something that will happen in the future, but something that has happened and is happening in our past and present. We are already living in a lie, living in a Reality Studio of fabricated fictions, part of an assemblage of fake worlds in which we have one use value: as desiring machines whose sole purpose is to feed the Authority, System, Unity, etc. with our energetic desires. As Burroughs described it we are amusing ourselves to death in a Reality Studio Entertainment System,
The Amusement Gardens cover a continent—There are areas of canals and lagoons where giant gold fish and salamanders with purple fungoid gills stir in clear black water and gondolas piloted by translucent green fish boys—Under vast revolving flicker lamps along the canals spill The Biologic Merging Tanks sense withdrawal capsules light and soundproof water at blood temperature pulsing in and out where two life forms slip in and merge to a composite being often with deplorable results slated for Biologic Skid Row on the outskirts: (Sewage delta and rubbish heaps—terminal addicts of SOS muttering down to water worms and gloating vegetables—Paralyzed Orgasm Addicts eaten alive by crab men with white hot eyes or languidly tortured in charades by The Green Boys of young crystal cruelty).
Schizophrenic, schizoanalysis? Nick Land will of course describe the dark Deleuzeguattarian techniques of schizoanalyis as a path into the energetic unconscious of our collective time wars,
The unconscious is not an aspirational unity but an operative swarm, a population of ‘preindividual and prepersonal singularities, a pure dispersed and anarchic multiplicity, without unity or totality, and whose elements are welded, pasted together by the real distinction or the very absence of a link’. This absence of primordial or privileged relations is the body without organs, the machinic plane of the molecular unconscious. Social organization blocks-off the body without organs, substituting a territorial, despotic, or capitalist socius as an apparent principle of production, separating desire from what it can do. Society is the organic unity that constricts the libidinal diffusion of multiplicities across zero, the great monolith of repression, which is why ‘(t)he body without organs and the organs-partial objects are opposed conjointly to the organism. The body without organs is in fact produced as a whole, but a whole alongside the parts – a whole that does not unify or totalize, but that is added to them like a new, really distinct part’.2
The Reality Studio is the BwO in which we are members. One of the tasks of schizoanalysis has now become the decrypting of the ‘tics’ bequeathed to the human frame by the geotraumatic catastrophe, and ‘ KataoniX’ treats vestigial semantic content as a mere vehicle for code ‘from the outside’: the ‘ tic’ symptoms of geotraumatism manifested in the shape of sub-linguistic clickings and hissings. (FN: 42) Language is at the root of our enslavement. Thought control. “Thought is a function of the real, something that matter can do. Even the appearance of transcendence is immanently produced: ‘in reality the unconscious belongs to the realm of physics; the body without organs and its intensities are not metaphors, but matter itself.” (FN: 322) Ultimately we are as a civilization reaching an escape velocity of self-reinforcing machinic intelligence propagation (i.e., The Singularity), the forces of production are going for the revolution on their own. It is in this sense that schizoanalysis is a revolutionary program guided by the tropism to a catastrophe threshold of change, but it is not shackled to the realization of a new society, any more than it is constricted by deference to an existing one. The socius is its enemy, and now that the long senile spectre of the greatest imaginable reterritorialization of planetary process has faded from the horizon, cyberrevolutionary impetus is cutting away from its last shackles to the past. (FN: 341)
The Lemurian Time War
We think of the past as being there unchangeable. Actually the past is ours to shape and change as we will.
—The Job Interviews, William S. Burroughs
In their strange experiment in time travels among other conflicting inebriations and excessive productions Ccru would follow the course of a (real/fictional) agent of the schizoanalytic tribe, one William Kaye. A creature whose messages to them were already under suspicion,
Nevertheless, whilst suspecting that his message had been severely compromised by dubious inferences, noise, and disinformation, we have become increasingly convinced that he was indeed an ‘insider’ of some kind, even if the organization he had penetrated was itself an elaborate hoax, or collective delusion. Kaye referred to this organization as ‘The Order’, or – following Burroughs – ‘The Board’.3
In the Job Interviews Burroughs mentions ‘The Board’ in connection to certain historical sequences,
The Egyptian and Mayan control systems were predicated on the fact that only the ruling caste could read the written language. The supposition now arises that the present control system which we intend to overthrow is predicated on precisely the same consideration: only the self-written elite have access to the ‘Board Books.’ Control phrases which they place in magazines, newspapers, and in popular songs precisely correspond to a secret picture language. For this reason certain word order in these control phrases is essential. The intention of the control machine is of course to keep word and referent as far separated as possible in order to divert attention from the inferential ‘Board Books.’4
Already we discover how adept and informed Burroughs is of this other world of power and control that very few know of or even suspect. Of course his postmodern receptions were captured into a modest and tamed version in which Burroughs was a metafictionalist and literary giant who spoke in riddles, symbols, allegoreisis, etc. Anything but the literal truth of an actual System or Authority (i.e., The Board) that was controlling and manipulating the reality systems of various socio-cultural civilizations throughout human history. Such thought is dismissed by the Authority as conspiracy theory which then is labeled as part of a lunatic fringe of cranks, idiots, subversives, anti-intellectual clap track, etc. so that the unsuspecting and naïve minded readers of such fare will see in it only a harmless entertainment value within an ongoing blip culture on the net.
Techniques exist to erase the Reactive Mind and achieve a complete freedom from past conditioning and immunity against such conditioning in the future.
—The Job Interviews, William S. Burroughs
According to the Ccru annals William Kaye’s schizzed messages could be reduced to its basic provocation: Kaye’s claim was this: The Ghost Lemurs of Madagascar – which he also referred to as the Burroughs Necronomicon – a text dating from 1987, had been an exact and decisive influence on the magical and military career of one Captain Mission, three centuries previously. (Ccru) This notion of rewriting the past, not in a literary or textual way, but in a vectoral time invasive manner of retrofitting and retro causality that rewires, reprograms, and manipulates the past through a ‘decisive influence’ on the mind’s of certain key players of the past is at the heart of this scenario. The notion of influence has been around for years, the etymology of the word itself culminated in the 13 and 14 BCE as an astrological term, “streaming ethereal power from the stars when in certain positions, acting upon character or destiny of men,” from Old French influence “emanation from the stars that acts upon one’s character and destiny” (13c.). The notion of external sources, of stars as agents of influence that shape and manipulate human minds is an old one.
Burroughs would uncover the operations of the time wars in his study of certain Amerindian tribes in the Americas. The man Kaye who had discovered in Burroughs a connection to this dark world of time sorcery would in the process seek out ‘The Board’ and ultimately be hired by them:
He explained that the organization [The Board] had been born in reaction to a nightmare of time coming apart and – to use his exact words – spiraling out of control. To the Board, spirals were particularly repugnant symbols of imperfection and volatility. Unlike closed loops, spirals always have loose ends. This allows them to spread, making them contagious and unpredictable. (Ccru)
In this sense as Burroughs confirms any “control system depends on precise timing. A picture or suggestion may be quite innocuous at one time and devastating at another.” (JI) He goes on to explain,
For example “to make a splendid impression” “to make an awful impression” may have no effect on somebody when he is not in a competitive context. Same man bucking for lieutenant bars or apprentice priest can be reliably washed out by the same pair of contradictory commands, brought into restimulation. (JI: KL 415-518)
For Burroughs the most effective time machine is language itself, a viral system of signs that can invade the body with little or no awareness. As he’d suggest to one interviewer,
My basic theory is that the written word was actually a virus that made the spoken word possible. The word has not been recognized as a virus because it has achieved a state of stable symbiosis with the host, though this symbiotic relationship is now breaking down, for reasons I will suggest later. (JI: KL 40)
William Gibson in Peripheral will go so far as to suggest that mafia like organizations from the future have been manipulating time through messages altering, replacing, erasing, and transforming through mind-control techniques and time travel of these viral agents. In this work we discover that there are two worlds linked through time because the later world contains a black-market technology, popular among hobbyists called “continua enthusiasts”, that allows people to reach into the past. Paradox is avoided because, at the moment they make contact, that past splits off: it ceases to lead up to the present and becomes a “stub”, another fork in the timeline. In this sense the past is rewritten or recoded creating new futures and possibilities, a retro-causality with consequences.
In his work Absolute Recoil Slavoj Zizek will discuss this as retroactive causality, describing the temporal processes saying that at the level of temporality, the structure of overdetermination is that of retroactivity, of an effect which retroactively posits (over-determines) the very causes by which it is determined in the last instance; to reduce overdetermination to the determination in the last instance is to succeed in transposing retroactive causality back into the linear causal network.5 He’ll go on to explain that,
The only way to avoid this conclusion is to break the closure of the linear determinist chain and assert the ontological openness of reality: overdetermination is not illusory insofar as it retroactively fills in the gaps in the chain of causality. The solution is thus not to establish a grand evolutionary narrative explaining or describing how higher modes of being emerge out of lower modes (life out of the chemistry of “dead” matter, spirit out of life), but to approach head-on the question of how the prehuman real has to be structured so as to allow for the emergence of the symbolic/ normative dimension. (AR)
Yet, if we oppose a structuralist composition with a functional processual one we get what Nick Land would describe as the “future as transcendental unconscious, its ‘return’ inhibited by the repressed circuits of temporality. If, as Gibson has famously insisted, ‘The future is already here – it’s just not very evenly distributed’, then the revolutionary task is now to assemble it, ‘unpack[ing] the neurotic refusal mechanisms that separate capital from its own madness’ , and accelerating its collapse into the future”. (FN: 36)
All of this is to say that Time is computable, that we can program it and thereby change reality. Yet, the ‘Board’ or Authority do not want this knowledge to be free, to allow the vast naivety of the mass populace to know that it is encased in a fake world closed off from time: bound in an algorithmic universe that is programmed and scripted by advanced machinic systems from the future would undermine the very fabric of civilization. So instead they contribute to the disinformation networks of conspiracy, Ufology, and every ludicrous systems of mind-control and manipulation in an effort to keep the masses distracted and entertained in nonsense rather than sense-making knowledge.
As in all things I’ve run out of time for this article… I’ll continue another day… stay tuned!
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