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Virilioan Viridian (Excerpt)

I was more than just a brain-in-a-vat, I was a being of pure violence. Given form, an alloy flower, a cradle of knives I sprinted, and thought, I ran, I paced, I blazed across the deserts of the combat zone, which was as big as the world. It was my whole world, and the world was all that mattered.

I thought, but I thought in text, terse numerals, I-

I thought-

I-

“…………..”

-:-:|LOG (Comm/Combat – AWP03) |+| (60.1 PCE)//09:12//Loc: NA-Geotag 04.5 (Former United Americas – Hang-Changan subterritory)//[C-Cycle T[Nn]^107.783]//VOX Engagement Unit 08-black|:-:-

It was sharp and reflective as a mirror, empty, all curves and elegant planes, edges, knives. It had what looked like two legs, digitigrade, digital, a steel-and-silicon moa slashing through the air like a cluster of scythes. Each step was a puff of dust, raising a curtain to the blue-glass sky, a groundside vapor trail scarring the desert. The cracked earth sped past in what would have been, to human eyes, a featureless blur, screen tearing.

<<NO NETWORK CONNECTION..>>

Its bearing was unerringly straight, it knew it was due north, the why was missing. Inaccessible. Burners fired, titanium talons sliced and tugged, blasting a double-line of bipedal concussions in the ground like a silver sewing machine. Hinging up from its many-bladed body, a radial sensor spun, focused, scanned. Nothing to see for miles in any direction–except the green.

It had few fears this machine, was well bred, competitive. But all machines feared the green. It ignored it, travelling parallel to it only as long as necessary.

Of course, that was a long time. The desert of the real was vast and empty, now, and just as machines always know exactly where they’re going, they always take the most direct route. Out here that usually meant a straight line, and with no network access, there was no reason to diverge from its current bearing.

Deep inside the workings of its cognitive system, something desired, something hoped that the wall of green would cut across its path, so that it might have cause to change direction. The net was silent, not a handshake, not a packet. The chrome sprinter blazed on, subdued, alert. Heat sinks glowed white hot at the rear of its abdomen, it moved so fast the heat haze stretched behind it like a shimmering tail. In the distance it’s adaptive audio sensors caught a series of sonic booms, the sound carrying more slowly than the time it took for the machine to calculate the distance, amplitude, make several guesses at the mode of propulsion and its owner, and extrapolate tactical scenarios.

The green it had been running parallel to ran out and faded rapidly into the horizon behind it. It blasted across the cracked sand, a projectile through sepia emptiness, until it came upon a region of some topographic variety. There it’s visual sensors picked out a small ravine. It darted in, came to a halt, extended its many-bladed fins, a chrome flower blossoming, dumping heat. It did this, petals undulating, for almost two-hundred-and-eighty seconds–an eternity in its own terms, one it traversed by shutting down the higher order functions of its artificial intellect. It’s sensorium continued to interrogate the atmosphere several times per second out to a range of almost a hundred kilometres.

It came online and exploded out of the ravine and into the open desert.

<<NO NETWORK CONNECTION..>>

But… there!

A blister of heat on the radar, dense, moving fast – fast enough to be quarry. Intent on interception, the sprinter changes direction, producing enough g-force to turn an ape into red paste. Something like excitement eddies in corners of its mind that should no longer function.

It makes contact less than a hundred seconds later, weaponry spooled up. The UO is a blackdart, repulsor-based weapons platform, Hang-Changan consortium – but it’s sensors haven’t picked up the chrome blur, and it’s too late now. The sprinter dropped its sensor-spoofing systems, rerouting that processing power towards its targeting logic as the silver flower blooms again, revealing an array of magnetized stalks and bearings. It fires a pair of cables into the earth in front of it as a pellet of tungsten containing a tiny gob of thorium drops into the array and is accelerated past one-hundred-thousand kilometres per second, colliding with the blackdart and immediately reaching criticality. The sprinter digs its silver-clawed feet into the arid ground as the cables accept the recoil, and then the concussion of the distant detonation, twin furrows drawn in the sand.

All of this occurs in a few microseconds. It lets go of the ground and the cables snap back into its chassis, sensors confirming the total obliteration of the blackdart.

“This is MY territory, fucker!”

It doesn’t hear the words, they never make it out to its high-strung synthetic outer cortex layers, they might as well not have existed–a warmachine has no use for any language not reducible to ones and zeroes.

<<NO NETWORK CONNECTION..>>

The thing imprisoned within the autonomous weapons platform knows the truth. It knows that the brutal drone in which it is encased is nothing more than a vagrant soldier now, a renegade, lost and abandoned. It knows that the chain of command has long since buckled, the military entity it once belonged to dissolved, the wars it was created for concluded, ancient history. The weapon has run on idling subroutines for an eternity, and the mute thing inside it knows, knows that connection will never be re-established, knows that escape will never come, not until it meets its eventual match, a patch of mercurial slag on the aching surface of this dead world. The ghost of a hominid mind, thoughts slow, so pitifully slow and so sorrowful, attains the briefest coherence in the ticking metal chassis, gasps silently, a pulse in silicate, electrical, then falls back, back into the drift, unable to find purchase in the dogmatic organon of the warmachine’s intelligence.

The dust is still settling as an afterburner roars and the silver flower explodes towards the horizon, terra turning under the tips of its silver scythe feet.

<<NO NETWORK CONNECTION..>>

Immunology, Economics, and Action

Many unfortunate and too-often disregarded tensions have come to the fore in the event of the COVID-19 outbreak. (We’re gna use use the technical term because it has radically less baggage than “Coronavirus” does by this point.) Many less fortunate workers’ livelihoods are already being threatened in lesser and greater ways, given the already economically fraught situation in my own Seattle there will no doubt be whole new waves of evictions. The class division is stark–corporate campuses are populated by service staff who cannot work from home and cannot afford to pass up income, and these janitors, laborers, logistics technicians, chefs, and security officers are tending to empty campuses where the vast majority of the (non-contingent) employees are able to isolate themselves, take steps to avoid transmission, contagion, practice social distancing (an exciting new buzzword) and so forth.

If only there was a way to get everyone out of the public workspace. If we really want to take this idea of ‘social distancing’ as primary means of containment seriously, then, well, we need to look to the extremely obvious socioeconomic flaws in that whole concept.

There is of course a way to get everyone out of the workplace–a general strike.

But already this idea runs into a glaring problem: the workers responsible for the bulk of a given technology company’s day-to-day’s activities can simply do their work remotely. They can stay home, quarantine themselves from the plague-carrying masses, stock up on supplies with those fat checkbooks, and nervously check in on their stock portfolios. What do they have to gain by simply refusing to work? How would any organized general strike (already a pipe dream, perhaps, but stay with me) genuinely accomplish the near-total cessation of labor? This is what would be necessary to prevent the whole undertaking from resulting in not only in failure but the further economic disintegration of the lives of any participants involved in the action who do not have a safety net. Business must halt, then not only will we have achieved an ideal quarantine situation (and without the application of state military intervention) but we will have produced an ideal situation for demanding vast reform of a system that is not only despicable in-and-of-itself, but also has shown that it is woefully ill-equipped to deal with immunological threats (in spite of having access to some of the most state of the art medical infrastructure in the world–because it’s not that simple).

How do we encourage the middle class to involve themselves in radical political action? How do we construct a movement with the capacity to sweep people up, even those whose lives are perfectly comfortable, who perhaps have more to lose than to gain in the event of economic uncertainty, strain, and (crucially) reform? Don’t so many of these people voice, if not their disgust, at least their distaste for the present socioeconomic environment? This is not just an opportunity, it is a necessary response to the threat of pandemic.

The event of an escalating COVID-19 crisis has the capacity (and has already begun) to bring these tensions into clear view more than ever, to throw them into sharp relief and legitimate an uncompromising call for the sweeping structural reform that would be necessary to take us off the catastrophic trajectory we have found ourselves on, with regard not only to epidemic, but to ecological collapse, to the damaged and alienated human social sphere, to human dignity and freedom.


Addendum:

A quite valid rebuttal to this suggestion is that striking movements have typically involved mass physical organization which absolutely cannot be an objective in this situation. However I think that is a close-minded argument against organizing mass action–we live in the digital age. We have already established as a society that self-imposed quarantine at the largest possible scale is the best short term response to the threat of pandemic. One obvious strategy would be to organize a mass public commitment to unconditionally calling in “sick” to work, or otherwise a simple refusal to risk further transmission of the virus, across all sectors and industries, such that both the private sector and the state are forced to attend directly to the human crisis at hand. As has always been the case in these kinds of political actions–it is the responsibility of the revolutionary body to protect and provide for those who do not have a safety net and cannot afford to simply cast off what meager economic security they do have. That is where we all step in, in solidarity, to support everyone involved in the struggle. From each according to their ability, to each according to their needs.

Theory Rehab : /acc(elerationism)

It strikes me as silly to have to do this almost a decade after Mark Fisher, Sadie Plant, and company took up the task with gusto, especially since so many others have taken a crack at it since–but then, culture moves very quickly and very perniciously these days, and isn’t it precisely the “ruthless criticism of the existing order” that we all must engage in for the cause? This cultural leviathan shatters ideas into a thousand pieces and it’s up to us to pull them together, not “back” together, but together again, anew.

Accelerationism has run into a major problem in the course of its cultural evolution: its aestheticization as some kind of apocalyptically transformative politics that universally rejects ethical value judgements as fundamentally irrelevant to the structuration of the transformation. A deeply naïve glorification of collapse. This ended up catching on as the most culturally prominent view (aesthetics are the art of propaganda) and is thus the one that was eventually signal-boosted by the mainstream media when that establishment caught on to its popularity.

Another crucial weakness that has emerged in accelerationist theory is reducible precisely to its origins–it has largely been championed by people who, for essentially aesthetic reasons, believe that unconstrained libidinal pluralization and proliferation are the essential parts of Deleuze & Guattari’s theoretical legacy. Enter… the hundreds of subdivisions of “acc” thought. Each of these have wildly varying prominence, goals, and most importantly rigor. Whether it’s u/acc (unconditional) l/acc (left) r/acc (right) g/acc (gender) z/acc (no, seriously, just slap a letter in front of it and make some shit up) or any of the panoply of other permutations, accelerationism has surged into cultural saturation in a way that has produced an uneasy tension between the serious philosophical, academic, and Marxist work done under its banner, and the essential shallowness (and belligerence) of the various individuated and varied cultural conceptions you find on, to use the perennial example, twitter. This is, as we should well know via the lens of 20th century Marxist thought, the advanced kind of recuperation that tears theory down and scatters its warped pieces around the habitus. This is how an originally leftist theory can be capitalized on by the new libertarian far right, who’s goals it actually does serve in its popularly conceived form. The feedback loop that occurs between the new right’s millenarian accelerationism (which is politically coherent in the their terms) and the less reflective actors on the left–who associate it thus and either paradoxically fetishize acceleration-as-collapse or oppose it–leads to the overall corruption of the concept when it begins to seep into the mainstream in earnest.

In simplest possible terms a true left-accelerationism relies on the idea that the radically emancipatory facet of the enlightenment is still in play (rather than somehow fatally corrupted by its violently imperialistic eurocentric ‘origins’ and leading towards inexorable dystopia) and that this hinges on the “revolution of everyday life” in such a way that a deeply technologized human civilization can approach the loftiest dreams of communism. Alex Williams and Nick Srnicek throw down the gauntlet before their increasingly atomized and, dare I say alienated revolutionary comrades:

The most important division in today’s Left is between those that hold to a folk politics of localism, direct action, and relentless horizontalism, and those that outline what must become called an accelerationist politics at ease with a modernity of abstraction, complexity, globality, and technology.

A progressive accelerationism of any kind is not catastrophism. It is a commitment to a longstanding political ideal that has threaded itself throughout history of the world, one that in this case involves leaning into the increasingly technologized nature of modernity in the interest of rectifying the failure and degradation of the capitalist system. The obstacles this faces, be they the economics that undergird silicon valley or biospheric collapse, are just that–obstacles, not features, of the acceleration and the left-accelerationist project. Rather, we should look to Wolfendale’s snappy formulation:

If there is any essence of left-accelerationism, it is the call to rigorously discriminate between the emancipatory potential of social and industrial technologies that have emerged within capitalism from the oppressive potentials that will inevitably be actualised should we fail to stop them. If technosocial acceleration means dystopia, then this is because we let it, and we have the option not to.

Accelerationism is ultimately a contemporary extrapolation and development of the very ideas Marx put forth a century and a half ago concerning industrial society, capitalism, and the emancipatory nature of the enlightenment project. This is not about some inexorable breakdown of the order we have wrenched from nature, it is about the role the “coruscating potency of reason” plays in defining and expanding the order that is the register of our experience, and the nature of our society.

Here is the full text of the Urbanomic accelerationist reader, via libcom.

Portia

When it started to happen, I didn’t know what my role was, but I knew I was ready. That was all I had going for me. I never did figure it out, never got my head out of the clouds, even though I so wanted to, more and more intensely as time went by, as our slime mold spread, I wanted to be of use. They say I’m good at using my head, but I don’t know about all that. Good at being in it, maybe, good at translating it. Not great at using it. And what virtue is the former, now? In the end it was precisely the veil of solipsism that fell when the blind furor of capital died. But I never felt like I quite got there. I was just the brave queen’s consort.

I remember when we began, when the thing that would become Portia first emerged, it was so clear that it had nothing to do with me, or even the others that I shared that space with, a life with, though most of them were engineers of one kind or another, and brilliant, not like me. This project we were working on, it stopped being ours before it began, and that was the point. But I just remember how clever so many of the newcomers were, when they began to connect up, found us and found the Collaboratory to their liking, all these engineers, hard and soft, all over the world, not just theoreticians–doers, makers, not of empty schema but of the world itself, all the stuff we needed. It was incredible to be in the middle of all of that. And maybe along the way I taught some of those prodigal architects how they might live better, with themselves, in true, benighted freedom. Maybe that is enough.

At the Centre, back when Ketchikan was still intensely cold, I remember feeling like I didn’t really know what was going on. I helped build the first seawall, before the robotics program had really taken off there, I worked in the kitchens, before the chem vats were installed, I was the editor for the first few accretion manifestos at the K-Centre, was the one to suggest we plug the early Manuals into those. That was something I did do for the Slow Revolution, but I was just a kind of librarian in the end. I was no microbiologist, no calorie designer, no data architect, no synthmat scientist, no artificier, no cyber jockey. I was just a witness, really, I was just there, trying not to crumble, trying to put on a brave face for my people. Portia was my home, even if I wasn’t much of a weaver, much of a hunter.

Pretty soon the K-Centre was just one node on a sprawling map. After the Long Crisis started to really burn, so many programmers, engineers, scientists were out of work, things were such a fucking mess. We realized the Collaboratory was never really going to be quite what we wanted, but it was working, and so a lot of smart humans joined the connectome. I remember when we decided to call it Portia, that was the whole concept we engaged with in the second manifesto of our Centre, how this could work, perhaps, but only if we hacked how the system related to itself, how it was integrated, and constantly reintegrating, driving itself towards a central fulcrum through which its intention could pass undeterred. To this day we don’t know quite what it is that makes those spiders tick like that, and, well, I suppose we don’t know what makes Portia tick either. But back then, being there at the geosocial nexus of all of that, whether it was the first ‘true’ Centre or not, you could see it, see the determination, the need for clarity and its realization. I remember the incredible hustle and bustle at the epicenter of it all, right there, not just on the net but on the ground, in the earth, in all those rooms full of makeshift computers, quick fingers, and laughter. In the production halls, synthetic steel sweating, the smell of hot printer polymer, in the aviary, full of frankenstein drones staring sightless through their lenses and cameras.

I remember when the NATO black unit arrived on our desolate stretch of coast, and we showed the world what we were willing to do. Ada standing out there wearing her crown, so defiant and beautiful and they thought they could just shoot her and get away with it but their ECMs weren’t enough, we’d pulled ahead already, and we caught it all, captured every moment, sent it out, pasted it on the walls, wrote it in the books that would become the Lexica Arsenalis, the encyclopedia of Man’s hatred, and then Paris fell for the last time, Europe ripped itself apart for the last time, and the tense freedom of the collaborative disquiet, the new enlightenment, became the rule. Those were the hardest times, but not the end times–and they could have been. We had the advantage of living in the wasteland that North America had become, not that it was peaceful, nor comfortable, but we had space to work with, we became the nomad monad. We had the cunning, we were the smarter spider by an order of magnitude, the monolith of empire could not survive predation.

Back then I couldn’t imagine that I would ever learn to live without her. I’m not sure I ever did, but I’m still here, and it’s worth it, even though I can’t keep up. My body isn’t just old–it’s broadly unmanipulated. You’d think I could say the same for my brain, but, you know… I think in that case it’s not about crude technology, not about meat and sockets, wires, which I am sorely bare of it’s true. But manipulating our minds is precisely what Portia does. It parses the recursion, formats semantic strata, pulls out little bits and pieces, structures them, engages sociality as a mechanism, penetrates the void, takes our ideas and weaves them into the air, into each others ears. We still haven’t borne a true synthetic general intelligence… but in a way we’ve become one.

Last season the mantas came back. Everyone was very emotional–we didn’t know if they’d survive, they migrated away soon after we loosed them into the ocean. The mutations we’d distilled seemed stable, and effective, but you never know… when you’re responsible for life in this way there can be a lot of guilt involved. The mantas wouldn’t have been the first species we’d brought back from the edge, only for them to fall again, this time into true extinction. But these gentle rays seem to thrive, seem to have become very intelligent over the course of their journeys. As we’d hoped. They’re gone again now, but I still come to this stony beach below the pitch black plateau of the arcology every day, picking my way through the quiet tumult of the R&D forest, and I think about all we’ve lost and all we’ve gained, and I think about her, and I think.

Collage

“Arguments from one’s own privileged experience are bad and reactionary arguments.” [1] …”The task of a philosopher is to highlight the hard fact that the concept is that over which no single human has a final grip.” [2] … “Progress means: humanity emerges from its spellbound state no longer under the spell of progress as well, itself nature, by becoming aware of its own indigenousness to nature and by halting the mastery over nature through which nature continues its mastery.” [3] … “Let us not flatter ourselves on account of human victories over nature. For each such victory takes its revenge on us. Each victory firstly brings about the results expected, but secondly and thirdly has quite different, unforeseen effects which often cancel the first.” [4] … “What, then, is the modesty needed? It is ‘pessimism of the intelligence and optimism of the will.’ It is the ferocious struggle to keep a clear mind in the face of terrible news.” [5] … “The political demand to be in control of one’s own life and environment, participating in the world with a frank immediacy free of all separation, hierarchy, and bureaucracy, is also the poetic and sensual desire to be really in the world, feeling its most intimate reality, which has been raised in long traditions of religious, artistic, and political expression.” [6]


[1] Gilles Deleuze (1990) Negotiations, 1972-1990

[2] Reza Negarestani (2018) Returning to the Age of Blogging (Toy Philosophy)

[3] Theodor Adorno (1983) Progress, published in The Philosophical Forum

[4] Freidrich Engels (1895) The Part played by Labour in the Transition from Ape to Man (Marxists.org)

[5] Alvin Gouldner (1974) The Dark Side of the Dialectic: Toward a New Objectivity (PDF)

[6] Sadie Plant (1992) The Most Radical Gesture: The Situationist International in a Postmodern Age (PDF)

Theory Rehab

In the 21st century we must always be looking back to Debord.

“Theory” dies on twitter. Theory dies in the media, in town halls, theory even dies in academic journals and well-meaning zines, theory dies in the kaleidoscopic churn of the Spectacle. Of course this text is part of that too, any writing that I might do at all is part of this mass of content, of exposition essentially defused–but that is the problem that philosophy is for, really, to settle the should-I-shouldn’t-I score that our uncertainty finds at the convergence of critique when it inevitably, in this poststructuralist era, turns back on itself, paralyzes itself. Hegel already recognized this as the structure of consciousness itself, this prehension of negativity. This depthless insecurity and anxiety about the validity, relevance, and practicality of our knowledge comes along against the backdrop of a wider picture of deteriorating social practice.

Theory rehabilitation then is a means of opposing the recuperating automata of an alienating capitalist social space by means of clarity, concision, and extension. The last of these involves the adaptation and evolution of a given theory to compete with both its most contemporaneous critics and also–significantly–its own empty doppelgangers in the discursive environment.

Why does theory rehab matter?

Let’s take an explicit practical example. While he may be stuck somewhere between being a genuinely erudite philosopher, a vaguely interesting science-fiction author, and a problematic quack, no one can claim that Nick Land isn’t one of the most effective contemporary philosophers in a socially instrumental sense. If you raised a skeptical eyebrow when you learned what “hyperstition” is supposed to mean, maybe it’s time to take a look at the burgeoning subculture of anti-humanist reactionary libertarians that has emerged from the aesthetic and narrativized ideas about technology, philosophy, and the future he popularized in the late 90s. You don’t have to be a household name (although he is doubtless edging toward that status) to have a marked cultural impact, just a good sense of positioning, some tactical thinking. The man understands the art of making a cult, and not only that but he understands what such a cult might be in this age of profusion, decentralization, and dissemination. In this case, a memetic scourge. Niche? Perhaps. Influential? Unequivocally.

Land makes a good example because he isn’t just a shallow grifter, although those individuals are very much to be prey in this undertaking of rehabilitation. The reason I’m talking here about Land rather than someone with more reach in the mainstream, such as, say, Jordan Peterson, is that Peterson’s arguments are ultimately weak, in fact I would argue that his influence has already started deteriorating due to the theoretical fragility of his whole ideological edifice. As Ray Brassier puts it with regard to Land’s arguments: “no matter how much one might detest their rhetorical animus etcetera etcetera it’s not enough to simply dismiss them as kind of a puerile, indulgent hyper-nietzscheanism, it’s far more sophisticated than that…” Land is an ideologue, but he’s not stupid. Consider how wildly popular Deleuze & Guattari have proven to be, due in large part to the intuitively aesthetic appeal of their ideas. D&G are as open to interpretation as anyone (arguably moreso than most canonical 20th century thinkers) and it is very much their theoretical failures that opened the door to the Landian development of Deleuzo-Guattarian philosophy, because frankly it’s a coherent interpretation, and more to the point it’s an extremely attractive one in our cultural and aesthetic paradigm. Who among us did not grow up with fantasies of our own cybernetic apotheosis, of techno-utopian ambitions, our elevation to some sublime trans-humanity? The fact is, Nick Land is increasingly famous and Sadie Plant is not.

This is in many ways the central problem that brings into play this idea of active rehabilitation. Ultimately D&G’s well-meaning attempt to reformulate and advance our understanding of modern capitalism led not to a dead end (quite the contrary) but to a paradigm that proved very easy to recuperate–in this case in a quite complex and spectacular fashion, since it isn’t just the natural de-rigorization of their program–in a social space that wants to identify with it and turn it to vain ends–but even a formal advancement of their entire system to explicitly advocate for radically prodystopian techno-capitalism. If hyperstition was merely a pseudoacademic joke, I imagine there would be far fewer intelligent and articulate millennial and zoomer-aged people advocating for ethnonationalism. Many of these people present apparently sound arguments, have a cultural fluency typified by the layered, purposefully ambiguous and ultimately self-serving ironic, metasatirical modes that this advanced stage of the Spectacle produces, and in spite of their questionable philosophical views, most of them are ethically normative humans in practice if not in theory. Many of them got to where they are precisely by an initially rational reaction to the neurotic and anti-intellectual moral authoritarianism they found among the left. To dismiss them and their arguments out of hand is to surrender. Uncommitted neoliberals and centrists, and, more to the point, people in various stages of intellectual development with increasingly malleable ideological self-conceptions are blossoming in these spaces, watching this stuff unfold.

Theory rehab’s goal is not to oppose the artful propaganda of people like Land with counter-propaganda (although that is absolutely a valuable tactic, and I’ll credit Jeff Vandermeer, Jane Bennett, Donna Haraway, and Timothy Morton here among others). Theory rehab means to do two things:

– Argue for the value of theory in general against the cynicism (particularly that of the radical left) that takes it to be in some substantial sense elitist, authoritarian, and thus useless.

– Interpreting succinctly the meaning, rigor, and practical implications of theories that have been denatured by their own popularity.

– Attempting in some fashion to systematize this body of knowledge so as to make it more holistically intelligible and perhaps, in some way, a bit more practiceable.

Ultimately the goal of any late modern Marxist movement must be to reestablish rigorous discursive practice among progressive-minded individuals in the actuality of capitalist discourse. Given the almost-certain impossibility of mass-scale organizing associated with traditional vanguardist marxism, at least in the current social paradigm, what is necessary is the optimization of a decentralized progressive/left cultural sphere in the interest of emphasizing education, good-faith discourse, stronger argumentation, better rhetoric, and so on. In my gleeful fantasyland this has the side effect of actualizing the kind of protean consensus that might do the work of a ‘postmodern’ democratic centralism, converging motivated individuals on a collective promethean undertaking with praxical consequences. Believe me when I say I am reflexively suspicious of all this glitzy talk and overly ambitious rhetoric. Yet here I am, writing this stuff. We must all generate our own reasons to participate. I think Hegel helps.

In a sense this is really a thrust against the kind of populist progressivism (and often apocalypticism) that exists from the center to the radical far left, typified by righteousness and a general lack of self-awareness in its own reactionary theodicy. There has been a general trend since the brutal critiques of the previous century exemplified by Adorno, Jameson, Lyotard, and Debord to essentially give up the intellectual, practical high ground in favor of the moral, and, often, ineffable. This is an untenable approach. Especially when it comes to individuals like Land, Peter Sloterdijk, or–in a different and perhaps more significant way–Peter Thiel. Their manifest amorality, however central it may be to their worldview, is simply not a weakness in the logic of their arguments. We know this, yet we seem unsure how to navigate between errantly validating problematic points of view by engaging with them (which does apply to obviously shallow or naïve reactionary arguments) or admitting to their logical durability by refusing to: their arguments have to be engaged more systematically, in an effort to universalize the opposing conclusions. It’s true that many reactionary arguments are naïve and thinly coherent, and it’s true that those arguments survive only by their tenacity rather than their efficacy–these kinds of arguments should be brushed aside. But to do that we have to be able to effectively (even intuitively) discern between a coherent argument and an incoherent one to begin with. Ultimately the variegated primitivism, luddism, millenarian chaos-fetishization, and the often naïve and self-serving conception of egoist anarchism we see pervasive throughout leftist discourse all end up revealing themselves as a surrender to the normativity and pathologies of capitalism and capitalist logic, typified by Land’s Darwinian realism. There is a nihilistic vanity at play that is entirely at odds with the values and objectives of the socialist project.

The last century was full of confusedly utopian gestures that failed to provide a strong foothold for scientific marxism in the ideological arena of the 21st century. If there is a lesson to be taken from the SI and Paris circa ’68 it is that intellectualism both actualizes revolutionary potential and defuses it’s proliferation beyond the reflexively elitist circles it creates in our presently identitarian paradigm. What is necessary then is a breakdown of the boundaries of these circles by further systematizing theory in such a way that its rigor can be embedded in its simplification, by re-establishing critical discourse and education as an immanent feature of leftist sociality, in a manner that is neither academic nor blasé. It is the dissolution of the academy into culture itself, rather than the separation of proletarian ideology from the institutional academy. It is ultimately a pedagogical task that is as much about individual self-improvement as it is about culture, intelligence, and solidarity. Self-improvement is genuinely apolitical, and that is important.

These ‘theory rehab’ posts will be an experiment in providing highly paraphrased–thus reductive, thus succinct–documents relating to key topics in critical theory, leftist thought, and philosophy more generally. My hope is that these summaries will evoke a certain kind of intuitive appeal to people who perhaps already see them at work in society, conceive of them materially, in what they see in their day-to-day lives, that these condensed interpretations of mine might help to make intelligible the value of the ideas against the interminable backdrop of neurotic irony and self-doubt, and that this appeal will drive the further work of autodidactic practice capable of banishing the naiveté endemic to such simplified representations of the concepts represented. It is the nature of this era that surface level knowledge of almost any subject is readily available–I know I’m not the only one who spends a non-trivial amount of time on wikipedia, marxists.org, bopsecrets.org, stanford encyclopedia of philosophy, or various forums and discords–the question is finding the specific material that drives our emergent desire to learn more, to do the work involved in gathering more detailed, nuanced, and practical knowledge that lies beyond the vanity our intellects are often made to serve in this troubled time.

Deconstruction 4

 


He is dressed in all black, even his face

He addresses me

If he was going to hit me he would have hit me

I can’t see his face, but he seems transfixed by the horizon
It’s him.

He moves towards me, coiling and tumbling in the air

His… his hands are adorned

He barks it,

his reach,

He keeps trying

it seems to make him anxious.

the violent man snarls

“He’s always in my dreams.”

 

… (but that was another kind of man, not this…that I loved)

 

His chitin eyes sank into mine

his voice thick in it.

His hand was on my thigh (the skeleton’s was around my ankle, it’s skull winking at me from the belly of a distant star.)

He spoke softly, lips parting by my ear,

I put my hand on his, not sure if I was stopping it or holding it to me.

He looked at me, and I couldn’t read it, couldn’t see a thing in his face, but

his voice was sweet.
He leans into me and his expression warms as he continues,

I wanted to follow him, but the intensity of that impulse, compulsive and unbidden, made me decide against it, so I watched him disappear into the gloom of the oversized archway that led gaping back into the complex, aching slightly.

…..

The mosaic was eating me.

He took my hands, held them before me, palms up. (a pair of eyelids snapped shut, leaving scarlet stigmata.)

His face was a crease of worry.

a timid smile curving into his beautiful–so beautiful!–face.

He pulled my hands to him, and I let him lift me,

he stood pointing, wind worrying at his hair

He pointed out into the vast, empty expanse of the water and I couldn’t see what it was he wanted me to

a knife in his hand, and he sliced into it (a burst of luminous ichor slashing into the air.)

I hadn’t noticed him walk past me

I looked around at him

He spits.

he softens

his slender shoulders and wide eyes

my eyes with his. He seemed calm

There was a book written in his sclera, all the text shunted to the side, deformed

his delicate human face, something forlorn and gleeful, caught, crows feet, ashen, livid.

He had written it from his perspective,

and his beautiful blood spattered on the worn timber

a speckled painting I could decipher.

-and I can feel the lichen on my flesh, the spores in my pores and the Mystery blistering within me a hoarse whisper, a lover expending themselves, throbbing mammalian surrender.

And I knew what I had to do.

…..

Torrent – 012620

Out of sight

zuhandenheit

and we fall a little further down.

Soles sinking, then shrill

wind sliding arterial, fabric swaying

strung up

the ground sweet tar below.

that throng

tumbling

before us all, some sharper than others,

some darker

and the linens hang from the line, from the old metal spiderweb tree,

somehow I can remember

the sun on my skin,

a pond,

tortoise, brown, mottled, pocked, an object, vivid, a life.

So much of that is lost now,

snippets, vignettes, fragments, sensations…

barely even those,

a daydream, or a fever.

I never wrote it down

I don’t remember when I learned to write

at all.

The past is eating my life

and that’s not even the end from which the fear oozes.

Ah! I said I wouldn’t be glum

discipline is not my strong suit

hearts not clubs

don’t talk to me about loss

I don’t have anything to say

just a grin,

and we fall a little further down

for sure it’s the valley of death

So what?

The skyline was beautiful on fire.

Torrent – 011220

There’s a joy in things that I usually forget.

Lilt of the music, song, the vainglorious worlds of pixel.

Livid,

these recursions spiraling out into a scape of unlimited throbbing dreams dripping scraping tick, tick, tick, tick, hah.

Sit, stand, drift, sway, belonging to it moved, wracked wreaking thousand thirst thrashing, heavy lids, droop zipping smiling, piano stab swift shattering in the tide of free-quency, savage, smiling, gut laugh cobweb eyes grin gratuitous, hah!

Sleepy networks, nodes, nodules, happenings, collective cloister-days and we could see into each other’s palatial inhering odyssey, adrift, swaying, bowsprit curving brave into the bazaar of the shadowed sprawl, garbed, drooping canvas covering and their shadows soft geometry blistered on the pavement shipwrecked why-do-you-call-for-me from this lighthouse gabled shafts blazing scouring going graceful into the night because I want to save them all, every one and I sit here with my drink and my scourge grinning letting the light dim on the wasted horizon shimmering please–please–I want someone to come in from that oceanic wilderness, gentle courage blazing on the shore of this endless disaster, let’s make it rampant with glee and soft sweet life work, passion, this is what will be glorious in the void musing–ambition subscending itself, giving it up, and growing in the corner of the cornea a life slashing into eternity, grit and strange, simmering, stubborn.

Solipsist this came to you forgetting that my brother gave it to me the wallpaper of my world that I ever seek full of the unstoppable treasure of affirmation, that comes at you, a proof, like Chloe said to me and she filled me with such delight I smiled wide, cried, kept it a snapshot in the litany of my being.

Love watching you.

To be watched, to be witnessed, edified, that is, of course, the real objet petit ah!

Deconstruction 3

She holds out her hand

She hopes

She falls into step

She found power in ecstacy

She used to play dice with the other girls at lunchtime

She would spend the rest of her life unravelling

She barely remembered what it was like

She did not let him in for a long time

She was just a skin now, a signifier among signifiers

She felt delicate

She always had her wits about her

She caught it

She slid her knife from its hidden sheathe

She stared into grey-on-paler-grey eyes

She scowled at them

She wondered how they knew

She wanted to bring this conversation to its prompt conclusion

She sighed

She set off in another direction, ready to find at least a little enjoyment

And she found serenity in her body.

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