Stuck Inside the Vampire Castle

When Mark Fisher, the late cultural theorist whose “K-punk blogs were required reading for a generation,” wrote his (in)famous 2013 essay, “Exiting the Vampire Castle,” he was responding to the path contemporary leftism had been uncritically going down for years.1)Simon Reynolds, “Mark Fisher’s K-punk blogs were required reading for a generation,” The Guardian, accessed 3/31/19, published 1/18/17; Mark Fisher, “Exiting the Vampire Castle,” in K-Punk: The Collected and Unpublished Writings of Mark Fisher (2004-2016), ed. Darren Ambrose (London: Repeater Books, 2018): 737-745. Academically insulating itself from the world at large and maintaining an air of superiority, contemporary leftism was cultivating what Fisher saw as “an atmosphere of snarky resentment” coupled with “bad conscience and witch-hunting moralism,” traits born by ignoring class consciousness as such in favor of attacking specific individuals’ social status. Indeed, for Fisher, focus within the contemporary left shifted from broad-based class solidarity (with the recognition that individuals make mistakes and need not be excessively villainized for them) to rigid identitarianism where individual purity had to be maintained, and anyone not up to par must be purged.

While brilliant, Fisher’s analysis was instantly controversial as he shined light on a very unpalatable side of contemporary leftism which drained serious movements of their lifeforce: vampirism. Further, while being no less salient six years later, Fisher’s essay leaves some things unsaid with others still only implied. Thus, given the fact that we never really left, it is more important than ever to reexamine the rigid structure the left currently occupies: the Vampires’ Castle.

Read More

References   [ + ]

1. Simon Reynolds, “Mark Fisher’s K-punk blogs were required reading for a generation,” The Guardian, accessed 3/31/19, published 1/18/17; Mark Fisher, “Exiting the Vampire Castle,” in K-Punk: The Collected and Unpublished Writings of Mark Fisher (2004-2016), ed. Darren Ambrose (London: Repeater Books, 2018): 737-745.

Cut: On Humanizing Time

The (traditional) phenomenological project of reducing everything to human experience has, necessarily, caught up with time. Indeed, in Alia Al-Saji‘s “The Temporality of Life: Merleau-Ponty, Bergson, and the Immemorial Past,” temporality becomes the unwilling servant to human subjectivity by being made into a structuring principle for the self — the past is the vital thrust that makes the present possible not by metaphysical necessity, but by retroactive phenomenological ‘secretion of time.'1)Alia Al-Saji, “The Temporality of Life: Merleau-Ponty, Bergson, and the Immemorial Past,” Southern Journal of Philosophy 45, no. 2 (2007), 177-206: 181. Merleau-Ponty points to

the privilege of the present in the way in which the body lives time. Notably, the body “secretes time … project[ing] round the present a double horizon of past and future”2)Al-Saji, “The Temporality of Life,” 181; Maurice Merleau-Ponty, The Phenomenology of Perception trans. Colin Smith (New Jersey: The Humanities Press, 1962), 239-240 / [“secretes time […] project[ing] a double horizon of the past and future around the present” trans. Donald Landes (London: Routledge, 2014), 249.]

Al-Saji:

These descriptions point to an immemorial that is neither lost presence, nor distant past; as both ground and abyss, the immemorial is a past that accompanies and makes possible the present.3)Al-Saji, “The Temporality of Life,” 184.

While noting that the past is not exhuasted in creating the present (thereby affirming some virtuality to it), the past is only important insofar as it is understandable and creates a present for us.4)Ibid., 186-188. While there’s more to say, all I have for now is the vague intuition that time is something so utterly alien to us that our attempts to humanize it — that is to say, make it understandable — strip it of its radical otherness. While not Kantianism per se, perhaps time is quasi-noumenal insofar as it is outside our comprehension but still affects us. In the meantime, here’s Germán Sierra:

You’re used to thinking of gods and demons as anthropomorphic – or at least biomorphic – stuff, something that must resemble living things you’re already familiar with – if not humanoid, in the shape of animals or plants. Sometimes adopting the form of earthly or atmospheric events such as volcanos or lightnings, or space bodies like the Sun, the Moon or stars. Otherwise they should be immaterial, invisible, spiritual, formless, metaphysical beings. But let’s imagine something that – being material, physical, corporeal and dynamic – is not bioid. Not physiologically driven, not even determined by a circular teleological aim – you wouldn’t consider it alive. Something that recycles energy, but not in the way we’re used to measuring it. Something that neither follows, nor contradicts, the laws of nature – like a weird, not fully explained quantum event. That would be a real monster; it would perform like there’s actually something radically different out there. Something that might come from the past or from the future, not because it has ‘travelled’ from there, but because it always existed in a parallel space of possibilities – almost-assembling matter meta-waiting for the right environmental context to re-order itself in some unexpectable way. Like if the observer had produced an event not by observing it, but by the same process of becoming capable of observation, because the operation of becoming observer had required the previous development of possibilities of new relations, a self-organizational process that would open the universe to new self-organizations. Something that, for instance, might occupy the same tridimensional space as currently observable matter but, at least in its early development stages, without inteferring [sic] with it. Who said possession must imply extreme seizures, flying furniture, throwing up green stuff and a 360° head twist? You know prions, those proteins inducing other proteins to re-fold and change shape with destructive effects for cells – well, let’s imagine something like that but at a different level of reality and maybe without short-term perceivable consequences. Some n-dimensional process showing itself as a second superimposed tridimensional space pulsating in our world of phenomena like a glitch. You think of the devil as a horned beast that would need to impregnate people or cattle to reproduce, but instead think of it as a metastitious creature that can self-ensamble [sic] in the proper conditions from the proper scratch material, and then not reproduce itself but expand, occupy, amplify and diffuse (like some graphic novels’ cosmic hyper-villains) what we would call ‘darkness’ because from our point of view it’s an infiltrating outside – until darkness, imperceptibility, invades and consumes all the known matter and all the known energy of the known universe, metabolizing it into the dark matter of non-knowledge. A demon lurking in the silence that lies behind life’s noise.5)Germán Sierra, The Artifact (Lawrence: Inside the Castle, 2018), 92-94.

 

References   [ + ]

1. Alia Al-Saji, “The Temporality of Life: Merleau-Ponty, Bergson, and the Immemorial Past,” Southern Journal of Philosophy 45, no. 2 (2007), 177-206: 181.
2. Al-Saji, “The Temporality of Life,” 181; Maurice Merleau-Ponty, The Phenomenology of Perception trans. Colin Smith (New Jersey: The Humanities Press, 1962), 239-240 / [“secretes time […] project[ing] a double horizon of the past and future around the present” trans. Donald Landes (London: Routledge, 2014), 249.]
3. Al-Saji, “The Temporality of Life,” 184.
4. Ibid., 186-188.
5. Germán Sierra, The Artifact (Lawrence: Inside the Castle, 2018), 92-94.

Land, Wilderson, and the Structure of Alterity

“[W]e have always already torn out the tongue
of alterity before entering into relation with it.”
–Land1)Nick Land, “Kant, Capital, and the Prohibition of Incest: A Polemical Introduction to the Configuration of Philosophy of Modernity,” in Fanged Noumena: Collected Writings 1987–2007, ed. Robin Mackay and Ray Brassier (Falmouth: Urbanomic, 2017), 55-80: 64.

In “Gramsci’s Black Marx: Wither the Slave in Civil Society?” Frank B. Wilderson III, expanding upon the positionality of the black body in civil society, takes a slight detour in an attempt to answer the question ‘why is the black body so radically Other, and thus a “sacrificial lamb”?’2)Frank B. Wilderson III, “Gramsci’s Black Marx: Whither the Slave in Civil Society?” Social Identities: Journal for the Study of Race, Nation and Culture 9, No. 2 (2003), 225-240: 234. Following up by extending J.M. Coetzee’s work on the black-white discourse of the Cape of Africa, Wilderson notes that engagement with the Other – what we can call ‘alterior engagement’ – is not uniform. Where Europeans engaging with other Europeans, even in times of conflict and strife, could recognize a (minimal) shared bond – humanness –, Africans were not so lucky. For Wilderson, a minimum level of sameness was required for ‘productive’3)I use this term very loosely and with little to no positive connotations. engagement. Indeed, contrasting the KhoiSan and Xhosa peoples, Wilderson notes that while the Xhosa were “agriculturists” and thus provided European colonizers with a certain level of sameness insofar as they could recognize instantiations of labor and thus at least affirm an “historical play of difference,” the KhoiSan represented an “Anthropological scandal.”4)Wilderson, “Gramsci’s Black Marx,” 235, 234. Indeed, the KhoiSan peoples were

being[s] without (recognisable) customs, religion, medicine, dietary patterns, culinary habits, sexual mores, means of agriculture, and most significantly, without character.5)Ibid., 234.

Such a lack supposedly produced the conditions for abject violence as the Other was not only foreign, but wholly inhuman. Wilderson’s contention is, ultimately, that the incommensurability between the existence of the colonizers and the “condition” of the KhoiSan inevitably led to one end: “annihilation.”6)Ibid.

Is it correct to say that unknowability is the harbinger of violence, however? Does violence occur when we cannot understand the Other, or might it occur as we try to know the Other? Perhaps the imperative to synthesize the Other for the Self – that is to say, the imperative to (re)produce discourses – is an intrinsically violent action.

In Nick Land’s reading of Kant and Lévi-Strauss in “Kant, Capital, and the Prohibition of Incest,” the structuring relationship of alterior engagement is an attempt at synthesis. Drawing upon Kantian transcendental understandings whereby our relationship to the Outside is always mediated by structuring categories – “the unchanging manner in which things must be if they are to be for us” –, a desire for understanding and absolute knowability underpins what Land sees as the paradox of understanding Otherness through Sameness.7)Land, “Kant, Capital, and the Prohibition of Incest,” 67. Land traces this paradox back to the Enlightenment (while arguably the same issue arises in the Meno) and the tension between growth and homogeneity. For Land, the dream of the Enlightenment was “to grow whilst remaining identical to what it was, to touch the other without vulnerability.”8)Ibid., 64-65. Such a dream thus structured Enlightenment thought by attempting to know the Other through already existent (safe) conditions and therefore not engage with the Other on its own terms, but rather already bring it into relationship with the Self before learning about it. The Other is thus stripped of their Otherness as the Self presupposes, and indeed prescribes, Sameness in Otherness – the synthetic a priori becomes the Procustean bed of the Enlightenment.

Returning to tangible engagement with the Other, perhaps a new way of making sense of seemingly ‘irrational’ violence against the Other is not to appeal to the Other’s utter incommensurability – an odd form of victim blaming? – but to appeal to the Self’s fetish for control from a safe distance. Thus, violence against the Other can be understood not as being catalyzed by complete unknowability, but rather by a desire for total prior knowability and assimilation into existent régimes of knowledge. While it’s true that the tongue of alterity is always already torn out before engagement, the limbs of alterity are thus chopped and stretched after we’re confronted with the Other.

References   [ + ]

1. Nick Land, “Kant, Capital, and the Prohibition of Incest: A Polemical Introduction to the Configuration of Philosophy of Modernity,” in Fanged Noumena: Collected Writings 1987–2007, ed. Robin Mackay and Ray Brassier (Falmouth: Urbanomic, 2017), 55-80: 64.
2. Frank B. Wilderson III, “Gramsci’s Black Marx: Whither the Slave in Civil Society?” Social Identities: Journal for the Study of Race, Nation and Culture 9, No. 2 (2003), 225-240: 234.
3. I use this term very loosely and with little to no positive connotations.
4. Wilderson, “Gramsci’s Black Marx,” 235, 234.
5. Ibid., 234.
6. Ibid.
7. Land, “Kant, Capital, and the Prohibition of Incest,” 67.
8. Ibid., 64-65.

On Peripheral Philosophy

[I]f there is to be a philosophy at all,
[it must be] withdrawn from all State influence.

– Arthur Schopenhauer1)Arthur Schopenhauer, “On Philosophy at the Universities,” in Parerga and Paralipomena: Short Philosophical Essays, Vol. 1, trans. E.F.J. Payne (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1974), 137-197: 180.

[E]verything interesting happens on the periphery,
outside the standard modes of “developed” existence.

– CCRU3)CCRU, “Communiqué Two: Message to Maxence Grunier (2001),” in CCRU Writings: 1997-2003 (Falmouth: Urbanomic, 2017), (:)(:)-::(:), (:)(:).

In philosophy, the only thing that we are taught to
“expose” is a weak argument, a fallacy, or someone’s

“inferior” reasoning power.
– George Yancy2)George Yancy, “Whiteness and the Return of the Black Body,” The Journal of Speculative Philosophy 19, No. 4 (2005), 215-241: 215.

Photo of the Academy Assimilating Radical Thought

While the history of anti-academic philosophy has its roots as far back as Ancient Greece and Socrates’ relentless mocking of the Sophists for whom truth was merely a fad destined to change during the next pay-cycle, its spectre has never disappeared.4)Schopenhauer, “On Philosophy at the Universities,” 153-154. Academic philosophy, further interlinked with the state in late-capitalism, has been the subject of scorn not only by those who remain unafraid of the monolith of the Academy, but also by those individuals who are always-already on the periphery. Despite becoming enlightened and supposedly shedding old religious dogmas that infected professional philosophy, we’ve managed to become nominally post-religious while replacing a visible system of control – retribution from the Church – with an invisible system of exclusion built around hegemonic attitudes and accepted norms. One must pass the Academy’s Turing test and never slip up.

Read the Rest

References   [ + ]

1. Arthur Schopenhauer, “On Philosophy at the Universities,” in Parerga and Paralipomena: Short Philosophical Essays, Vol. 1, trans. E.F.J. Payne (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1974), 137-197: 180.
2. George Yancy, “Whiteness and the Return of the Black Body,” The Journal of Speculative Philosophy 19, No. 4 (2005), 215-241: 215.
3. CCRU, “Communiqué Two: Message to Maxence Grunier (2001),” in CCRU Writings: 1997-2003 (Falmouth: Urbanomic, 2017), (:)(:)-::(:), (:)(:).
4. Schopenhauer, “On Philosophy at the Universities,” 153-154.

26+2, 1.308

theysayenglishhasa70percentredundancyratemeaningthataswereadwedontreadeveryletterbutinsteadcompartmentalizetodiscernmeaningifyucnrdthsyrsmrtthussomelettersuafterqserveastrictlylogicalpurposeapurposewithinasystemofmeaningthatisentirelycontrivedifwetendtocompressinformationthenwedontreadwescanandourcompliancewithgrammaticalnormsismerelyanotherformofsubmissiontoauthoritylogosasgodwhethernaturalornotwefetishizecompressionkeywordstakeawaysbulletpointsinformationcannotbetoodenseforusevenreadingthisnonrandomstringindividualwordsjumpoutasiftotrytoexpressalargermeaningifinpoliticsgodisadreamofgoodgovernmentinlinguisticsgodisadreamofagoodlanguageafascisticlanguageindeedwhatservicedoesthespacebarserveifnottodemarcateaworldforuswhynotthrowthesenormsoutandcombinewordswhatnewthingsmightwefindwhyntrmvllvwlsthtmghtbmrntrstngwhrllthbvtrdtbrkwthnrmststllwrkdwthnstblshdsystmsfmnngwrdsmsthvvwlsbtdsntthtlrdydlmtthpssbtsfrwhtnmghtfndprhpsrlnggsntytdtrrtrlzdnghwthnclrndngbtwnnqtnqtwrdnwwrdsppntxstncwcnpcktlttrsfrmthslrdystrctrdstrngndgivthmnwmningbtwhtwdtrrtrlzwthnhndordsrtfndpttrnsrtrritrlzwthththrfzzshftooeeeaeeeoeaiuuoeiieaeeeueeaeiioeaeoeeaiouieaoeooieaeoaoaeeuooueiioaoiooaafreezeshiftwhynotcyclewordsconsonantsvowelswordscnsnntsoestillfollowingarulearerulesbadhoweverperhapsnotwhatdowegetbyexaminingtheabove?

 

||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||

|||||||||||||||||

||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||

|||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||

||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||

||||||||||||||||||||||||||||

||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||

|||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||

|||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||

|

|||||

||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||

||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||

||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||

|||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||

|||||||||||||||||||||||

|||

|||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||

||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||

||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||

|||||||||||||||||||||||||||||

|||||||||||||||||

||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||

|||

|||||||||||||||||||||||

||||||||

 

t
e
a
n
r
o
s
i
d
h
w
l
m
g
c
u
f
p
y
b/v
z
k
q/x
j

thatsnotzipfitsnotparetoeithertoomanyvariablesitsnothingorperhapssomethingprfoundmostlikelynothingthoughtheresultofabrainwithnosleeportoomuchsleepmustexperimentmore