“Heat. This is what cities mean to me,” wrote Nick Land, in the late 20th century. Around the same time, the little-known science fiction writer Ursula K. Le Guin wrote in her essay “A Non-Euclidean View of California as a Cold Place to Be”, borrowing M. Levi-Strauss’ distinction of “hot” and “cold” societies: “Bright, dry, clear, strong, firm, active, aggressive, lineal, progressive, creative, expanding, advancing, and hot.” Hot societies are those that expand, dominate, territorialize, explode with total libidinality: engines of violence, of teeth-bared bloody-grinning jouissance, of revolution or of war.
Megacities are burning suns. Pure heat, brilliant light. Dozens of millions of people, Berardian particle-wave flows: Kaika and Swyngedouw warning that flows must be deterritorialized to be channeled: utter atomization: Braudel’s town-runner with its neck on the state, pulling back the hammer barrel pressed to its medula: nodal fever of the Hanseatic megamachine: utter fury fossilized into hylotic Gageianism, the Saturnalian howl of the k-hole and the dopa ablation and other comedowns.
When we talk about complexity we talk about the megacity, because we don’t know how to talk about complexity. Semiotics and simulation. Society and its environmental context in macabre coitus: complexifying and complexifying in ragged shocks. Individual ripped out of joint, along for the ride, an observer of the quotidian. The megacity embodies the total collapse of the West. Shanghai prefigured it. What Shanghai wanted was a brood of feral children, worming their way out of hell and oozing backward through time. It got what it wanted (it always does). The gyre of geopolitics is a mechanized thresher in the depopulated American South. No one around for miles. Everyone’s here.
When THEIA (Tactical-Heuristic Expansion Infrastructure Assistant) arrives on the scene, everything happens at once. Absolute war and ambient computation birth a horrible child of blistering intelligence, silicon and ichor. The viable system was never pruning for efficiency but was modeling the pathways of the New Brain.
I can’t do this anymore.