Apocalypse (but the good kind)

(sorry this is so disjointed)

Gazurmah, Mafarka’s monstrous “parthenogenetic” child, “…the invincible lord of space, the giant with immense, orange-colored wings”, was to Marinetti an expression of a “scorn for women”—to use his own oft-derided line from the Manifesto. In Marinetti’s mind, Gazurmah represents the triumphant construction of the future by the warrior-poets that would seize it: a reproduction “without vulva”, the “spirit of man” itself likened to an “unused ovary” to be fertilized by Mafarka’s futurism.

However, Marinetti himself, blinded by his own Promethean ambitions to construct an art out of war, is entirely unable to grasp what Mafarka means. If, though Benjamin, we “politicize art” (Marinetti’s novel Mafarka the Futurist in this case), Marinetti’s own embedded meaning—the delirious, misogynist fever of Mafarka flips into an emancipatory reproductive politics.

I’m reminded of Greg Egan’s Diaspora here, in which the “orphan”, born a blank slate and (obviously) without parents, embarks on a process of self-discovery and autopoesis that molds the protean original self into a person. The obvious parallels between the orphan and Gazurmah are here. In fact, though one is digital and the other material, they are both essentially the same thing. Despite Gazurmah’s known provenance, he is an orphan too.

But what is more important is to introduce Marcuse’s analysis of the phylogenetic and ontogenetic in Eros and Civilization. The phylogenetic, following Freud, is the personal, the psychoanalytic: this is the space in which the orphan constructs themselves, the same any biologically produced child would. Claire’s critique of Marinetti (to me) hinges around the already terminal state of the orphan at birth. However, the identity of “the orphan” belies the process of autoproduction that comes as the orphan becomes an entity of their own. In Mafarka, the novel ends with apocalypse.

But by politicizing Marinetti’s writing, we can pin his ‘apocalypse’ to the destruction of biological order, of natural necessity, of the supposed distance of man from nature itself. This is the transition, in Marcuse, from the phylogenetic to the ontogenetic, from the individual to civilization as a whole. Gazurmah, a product of love but also of work for Mafarka, is a construct which by its existence points beyond not only biological necessity but capitalistic, bourgeois reproduction altogether: the injection of libido into toil, which to Marcuse spells a dramatic death for our current world, governed as it is by the “performance principle”.

Unwinding the performance principle is the “liberation [they] are compelled to reject”—it’s baked into the brain, composed and enforced in the process of being brought up in a repressive civilization under the aegis of the performance principle. Much less the creation of Gazurmah himself, Mafarka’s construction of his son is this libidinal work, a work “away from genitalia”, and more so, the reintroduction of the aesthetic as interlocutor between the sensual and the rational, two poles that the majority of queer theory has been historically obsessed with. Sexuality becomes sublimated, libido’s “trend towards cultural expression” blooms, and Eros comes to the fore, modifying civilization away from a slavish fixation on reproduction for reproduction’s sake.

Finally, in Marcuse’s view, the libidinization of toil transforms it into play, which then culminates in “display”. Is this not what Mafarka does with his son, showing him off to dominated, dying subjects? Does Mafarka’s “large son”, a totally insane undertaking, not upend reason, and pull sensuality out of the body and into civilizational space?

 

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(Really quick thoughts on Marcuse in relation to Dugin, based on a conversation between me and esteemed Twitter personality Cocky Doody this morning.)

Alexandr Dugin’s essay Horizon of the Ideal Empire is a (somewhat insane) statement on what Fourth Political Theory offers as a concrete “positive image of the future”. The essay functions as a bizarre formulation of Platonic theopolitics, a delirious materialism that contains a philosopher-king (modeled on Stalin and Mao), glorifications of “sacred labor”, demonic warriors, and most importantly, the presence of angels. While Dugin’s use of the figure of the angel may seem odd, I have been reading Marcuse’s Eros and Civilization lately and believe Dugin has essentially arrived at a Freudian utopia (though curiously, Dugin makes no mention of sex).

In the first full paragraph of Horizon, Dugin makes a key statement: “The dogma should be accepted that people do not live, but rather an Angel lives through us…The Angel and ego are present in a person in inverse proportion: the greater the Angel, the lesser the ego.” For Dugin, the presence of an angel is identifiable in the move away from the “individual, egoistic, and material”—simply put, a spiritual, transcendentalized form of life that falls from above. These angels exist separately from the human in some way as well (he speaks later of the possibility of “a congress of angels”), but also are identified as a way to overcome the material, and specifically material labor: “The King is an Angel…a true person…In his nature, man is homo regius. He is just as much a king and an Angel as he is human.”

This is where Marcuse enters the picture through his reading of Freud. Marcuse identifies in Freud 4 distinct and interlocked dialectical pairs: the ontogenetic/phylogenetic, Eros/Thanatos, the pleasure/reality principles, and finally surplus repression/production principle. For Marcuse (and Freud), civilization is repression: the aegis of the reality principle, the deferral and extension of pleasure as something that is available over a longer term, a delibidinization of pleasure, which is immediate and ever seeking to expand itself. Within advanced civilization (the phylogenetic approach), the reality principle appears as the production principle, wherein pleasure is suspended and the worker disappears into Taylorist machinery necessary to further the development of civilization, and is coerced into doing so through applied surplus repression. Civilizational upkeep becomes imperative on a personal (ontogenetic) level, foreshadowing Reich’s (and later Deleuze and Guattari’s) question: “how can people be made to desire their own oppression?” It’s quite easy, for Marcuse—they couldn’t possibly think otherwise.

Back to Dugin: the Angel, as the enemy of the ego (and thus which produces the desire for repression), represents the pleasure principle in all its unbridled glory. Thus, Dugin’s Ideal Empire is akin to Marcuse’s “civilization without repression”—the world ruled by pleasure, by Eros. Dugin’s statement that “Everyone will smile and laugh at funerals, for since this world is so beautiful…” clearly states that in the Ideal Empire, Thanatos has been subjugated. The original sin of the Primal Father and subsequent ingestion by the sons (the original chiral cycle of revolution and revanchism, that is). The time machine of psychoanalysis is beaten into plowshares.

In doing so, the Ideal Empire is revealed as a cold place to be: it is a place not just without progress, but against progress: a cold society, so to speak. Manuel de Landa uses a materialist metaphor: hot societies expand, and are constituted by freefloating constitutive particles, and end through dissipation and exhaustion. A cold ‘solid state society’ delays progress for the sake of stability. The cybernetic interlock, the constantly shifting mask of Eros/Thanatos that defines life in capitalism, is done away with in favor of a pastoral Empire of learning, peace, and sustainability over long historical cycles. A world of the Angels. Doxiadis here is important too, measuring civilization as energetic output: a cold society outputs what it takes in. Progress is arrested, Thanatos is buried, only left to survive as the grotesque warriors that embody the Ideal Empire’s warmachine and protect its poet-philosopher-priests. The Ideal Empire is not feudalism, as it may initially appear to be, it is castration.

Invoking the Hyperwar

This post is a kind of postmortem on cloister4.com, and not really of note otherwise.

Where to begin? I have a hard time truly defining what this project is supposed to be, to me. I can definitely tell you what it’s supposed to be about, though: the “hyperwar”, cities, and simulation. What any of those mean in this context are up for debate. The product of the three is a fully armed sort of urban horror.

Hyperwar

Loosely (and personally) defined, the hyperwar is a transduction—the grim specter of a future conflict, the hideous exhumed Yaldabaoth of the Baudrillardian “apotheosis of simulation”, a title which he gave to the infinitely inhibited, politically contingent promise of nuclear exchange. It is alternately defined as a war of uncertainty (see: Gerasimov doctrine), a multi-domain war in both real and cyberspace, asymmetric war in the megacity, or a war of such explosive ferocity that it startles even the forces engaged in fighting it. The hyperwar is all of these at once, because it’s not here yet. It withdraws, is occulted, is uncertain.

That uncertainty informs this project. And in speaking of ambiguity, it has become ambiguous itself, piling on layers of simulation and hyperstition until the final product has looped back around on itself (or so I hope).

Cities

The hyperwar is inextricable from the form of the megacity: the patchworked, diffuse, endogenic unknown, the charnel house of “encirclement and suppression campaigns”. Felix and Wong write about the megacity in relation to urban operations within it by defining it as a symbol of complexity: “to win in a complex world, Army forces must…integrate the efforts of multiple partners, operate across multiple domains, and present enemies and adversaries with multiple dilemmas.” Simply put, the Army must become more complex than their environment—an evolutionary imperative that abounds in complexity theory.

When attempting to think as a “military intelligence” (human or otherwise), I consistently encountered limits in the prevailing doctrinal approach. Attempting to solve this informed the core of this project, as far as I’m concerned, with the rest of the work—THEIA, the leak format, even the war itself—becoming auxiliary to the attempt to rewrite the way the military works. In military-hyperbolic jargon, I referred to this as the “Fourth Offset Strategy” or “Chaos doctrine”.

The megacity, along with the hyperwar, fundamentally violates military thinking as they are both entirely defined by cybernetic complexification and mutation. This is something the military knows but at present cannot fight. Instead, it avoids the city altogether: its warrens, its close combat, its hidden snipers, its door to door fighting. Ashworth in War and the City remarks vividly that the “urban environment creates a highly physically structured but fragmented series of compartmentalised battlefields that can absorb large quantities of personnel – which, once committed, will be difficult to extricate, regroup or reinforce”. The city eats armies. Urban metabolism goes carnivorous. Look at Stalingrad, look at Berlin.

The historical touchtone is important—most currently extent urban warfighting doctrine (or Military Operations in Urban Terrain: MOUT) is about avoiding cities altogether, or hoping to choke up their brutal capacity for digestion with a torrent of bodies in a war of attrition against space itself, as well as opposing forces. Following Mumford, we can see the city as a megamachine of megamachines, and applying Bar-Yam’s work on complexity, further interlocking subroutines are revealed, a mandelbrotian engine of recursive escalation.

In imagining a ‘new urban warfighter’ I attempted to visualize what a fully “cooperative” army would look like, with human and autonomous systems completely integrated. This in turn informed by a doctrinal approach: reformatting military operations so they became agents of chaotic breakdown in the urban environment, depriving local combatants of their privileged local knowledge, and sluicing the deterritorialized panic by virtue of superior firepower and coordination.

This theoretical-strategic futurism is present scattered throughout the Cloister IV leak files, but predominantly appears in the form of ‘UMBRAA’, or the fully playable Game of Metropolitical War.

Simulation

The general form of the project is a simulation of a future hyperwar, the fabulation of a “generative myth”. Lagos in the dead of night on 16 June 2036. So we’re back at Baudrillard, but this time approaching him through Sorel in some way. But the simulation is a bit ambiguous and cybernetic as well, involving a few different layers.

At the first level, the bottom rung, is the constructed hyperwar scenario: the “8 Hours’ War” in Lagos in 2036. It’s hell. A hypertrophied, ambiguously autonomous NATO squares off against an insurgent “China-Africa Mutuality”—a counterinsurgent terrestrial hyperpower, composed of a hegemonic China and several African nations. An attempt to invoke Ligotti’s aphorism: “…the fascination, the potent mystery, of the second-rate, half-baked, run-down, dirty little back-room world” writ large.

At the next level up is Cloister IV. Cloister IV is constructed as a ‘leak’, a data format popularized by the Wikileaks format. In analyzing the leak, I arrived at several tenets to inform my design:

  1. Data eugenics goes out the window. The amount of noise vs. the availability of a bright throughline of signal is heavily weighed in favor of ‘noise’.
  2. This ‘noise’ can and should be used to construct the zone of neighborhood of the scenario “ordinal”. Basically, it should be used for worldbuilding, through the production of seemingly-disconnected ephemera. A universe of crap.
  3. The leak itself is, metacritically, not a design project as much as possible. Outside a modicum of attention paid to capturing generic feelings of a future design, attempting to design in the future will always collapse into historicist weirdness and look immediately dated. The digital future is owned by cyberpunk and high California Ideology-Silicon Valleyism. Keep it that way.

The ramifications of this loose thesis pushed me towards a less is more approach: the bulk of the leak is text, white on black. The leakers are anonymous with a generic political orientation. The world, hopefully, is allowed to breathe. “To write a story that did not depend on the reader for its existence.”

Black on black: Belated notes on 90 degree revolution

“I scorn your eloquence, the poetry of a living oblivion, and now seek a simpler style of annihilation.”

-Ligotti

Out in the desert, building God, or maybe deep in the Everglades before the storms come. Futurist wild-eyed death march, stepping razor to the Milky Way, guided by blue serpents of lightning. “…it is electricity that rapidly takes care of the germination.” Fydorov, Bogdanov agree, preparing for the Great Work by proletarianizing matter for transplanetary corporations. Tsiolkovsky habitats and huge cities stalked by CEOs and their attaches require the complete disintegration of the human to enter. City of flows. Baudrillard’s nuclear sword points straight up (or is it out?). Marinetti remarked a hundred years ago how brazenly we master the atom. Select your preference.

War god capital. We have to remember how it started: riding on the back of the spiteful, hateful coitus of war and state. Held back by only the thinness of amniotic fluid—bureaucracy, the clockwork brigade. But the poisonous soft machine wormed through the cracks. War is still here, but in some cases it’s just called revolution.

None of this seems to make sense. “Everything about capitalism is rational, except capital or capitalism…you can understand it, learn how it works; capitalists know how to use it; and yet what a delirium, it’s nuts.” Deleuze in Desert Islands. He goes on, joining strangely with Marx in libidinal prophecy: “…history is the history of desire”. In particular, that is not just anyone’s desire—there is, of course, the “problem of a deep connection between libidinal desire and the social field”, but the capitalist is the one that oversees that desire.

Of course, the 90 degree revolution is itself altogether coded. Again, with Deleuze, who states in “On Capitalism and Desire” that “…nothing is secret, at least in principle and according to the code…and yet noting is admissable”. Everything is available. The ‘green’ arrow in the new political wings is not concerned with the organization of power, of containing the libidinality of the system, or even in Greer’s catabolic collapse, but posits that these are all questions that don’t need to be answered. The greens have far more in common with their neoliberal mainstream counterparts than they’d probably care to recognize: a belief that, in some way or another, the question of techonomania can be altogether sidestepped. This puts them on the side of today’s milquetoast leftists who claim that there can be a re-establishment of the commons—a place where capital cannot reach. This is patently untrue, and in fact has been since capital first arrived “covered in dirt and dripping blood”. Primitive accumulation as the germ-seed of capital instantly cancels difference (or differance) and sets up and expansionary model that, at one end, strip mines Mars and at the other, makes you pay to see the Unabomber’s cabin in a museum exhibit.

To be an upwinger, an anti-green, is to not just recognize the gyre of capital swings out, but realize there is no capacity to extract oneself from the machine, no return to life or to first nature, no anything at all outside of universal colonization or total annihilation.

Postscript:

It is important to note that despite right-left being recomposed as up-down, a ‘marxist’, in any ‘orthodox’ sense (whatever that may mean) should take note that these remain bourgeois political categories. The true intention of a marxist politics will be to altogether detonate such qualifiers in favor of a proletarian recoding and the total collapse of such manichean political wings, so to speak. However, as noted in conversations on twitter, reformatting to up/downwing, ACC/DEC, whatever—may be a useful heuristic insofar as it finally sinks the belle epoque Great Politics into the mud for good.

Brainlet Corner 1: What is Philosophy: Intro & Ch. 1

Brainlet Corner is my attempt to actually read books in their entirety in an intensive way. Please don’t own me. Hopefully it will be a series.


 

There is already an incredible amount of work on D&G’s notion of the concept andalongside and in tandem, the conceptual persona or friend. The concept answers the question “what is philosophy?” quickly: philosophy is an act of creation—”forming, inventing, and fabricating concepts”. Only philosophy can create concepts, not science, art, and especially not design (which only produces simulacra), which have robbed the concept of its initial meaning and degraded it.

The answer was already known and had not changed, they say, but the conceptual poetics has been modified. Asking what is philosophy requires knowledge of the temporospatial and personal circumstances in which the question is being asked—which Hegel would identify as “the Figures of its creation and the Moments of its self-positing). This creation is dependent on the conceptual personae that are engaged with throughout the process of its fabrication, the spectre of the friend.

The friend, as far as I can tell, is rooted in a greek urbanity—the philosophy of the forum/agora. Creation of concepts is a social act, an amphisbetesis or striving/competition between the philosopher and the “friend, lover, claimant, and rival” which constantly must be worked through and inhabited. It is this relation that defines the philosopher in relation to the concept, which seems to me to be a stepping outside of oneself in order to fabricate and extirpate the concept from within (as an act of friendly creation that involutes into sodomy (or just masturbation)).

D&G follow Marx in making completely clear that philosophy is not a passive act, not performing examinations or contemplation. The identification of philosophy as motion, uncertainty, procedure seems to remove all useful distinction between theory and praxis as altogether irrelevant; theory or conceptual production is in fact practical production (of aerolites).

D&G quote Neitzsche in saying concepts are not gifts, but they must be made and created (or more accurately, self-created, allopoetic), which is to say, backed up and fortified (which I take to be gathering an accretive disk around the bright ordinal of the conceptual components, a cosmogenesis). In this sense, creation is “always a singularity”, albeit one that occurs along multiple valences and collects them into an internally objective and externally subjective epigenetic haeccetic unity, a “whole but a fragmentary whole”, a totalization of its components (which may themselves be concepts), constantly haunted by the “mental chaos” that’s hunting it. (Side note: how is this different from Hegel’s dialectics (as I understand them through Lenin, the contradictions of an object constantly lie benthic within the object and threaten to overwhelm it). Maybe the relation is that to D&G the chaos that forces the concept to embody a shattered unity is anterior to the concept itself?)

The concept does not stand alone. As I mentioned earlier, it is contingent on the Figure and the Moment; or, as D&G describe it, as a landscape they call the plane of immanence, the “field”. “Here concepts link up with each other, support one another, coordinate their contours…” A massively codependent landscape populated by ordinals that are “distinct, heterogeneous, and yet not separable”. They blur into each other and co-associate in what D&G call a “zone of neighborhood, or a threshold of indiscernability” where traffic occurs between adjacent (like) concepts, leaving the ordinals (“intensive features”, all of this is a question of intensities above all, a vast topos) as hard points, condensations (guess the disk of accretion image from earlier was kinda accurate). This landscape is traversed at infinite speed by the point of omniscient survol. The image that occurs to me is a song in the round: a layering of constantly returning complexity (or as the text says, a “refrain”) that allows the singular point of the listener to experience all the processes of the song at once as intensity goes negentropic). The concept is absolute internally and in relation to its problem but relative to the distributed plane-system in which it lies, freely associating with other concepts along thresholds and bridges. It is “real without being actual, actual without being abstract”—possessed of both its pedagogy in the former and ontology in the latter.

Language w/r/t a defined philosophical grammar is important here—best I can tell is D&G are trying to move away from the idea that concepts are their extension rather than their intension or that a concept is analogous to its friend/associated conceptual persona(e) and the language used to define it. When they address the Cartesian cogito it is in the interest of ripping it out of language and turning it into a diagram by identifying the components that compose the intensity.

D&G take care to mention that though the use the image of the landscape as a cartography of concepts (conceptopography I guess), there is nothing here to track space or time. The point of survol is the god eye, everywhere at once. Not even energy (which is just a corporealization of intensities) exists here. “The concept is defined by the inseperability of a finite number of heterogeneous components traversed by a point of absolute survey at infinite speedthe specific infinity of the concept.” So a concept, and the plane in which they appear, is modifiably infinite (w/r/t the concept) and probed by an equally infinite (or maybe transfinite) eye. To D&G, survey is speed. Thought is speed.