Friday, 24 November 2017

The covey, wherever two or three flutter together in my name

We do not, and cannot, think of Jesus.  All that remains to us is the beginning of our thinking as if from Jesus, and the ending of our thinking, as if towards Jesus. In our thinking we set out from, and we return to, but our fluttering thoughts find no roost. Under present conditions, Jesus is a medium for thinking, not its object. It would not be quite right to say that we think with Jesus, as that would suggest a resonating agreement between the spheres; but where we are thinking from, towards, for or against, we still think, discordantly perhaps, within what is known as the seamless robe. Whoever thinks, thinks for Jesus. But also whoever thinks, cannot think of Jesus. 

It is not true to say that atheists are really Christians, but it is true that atheism appears within the frame of Christianity and conforms, by rejection, to its constraints. But what is it that blocks us from thinking directly of Jesus? How is it that we cannot turn our gaze upon him as if from outside of the territory that he defines? It seems that we are condemned to dwell in the house  of noise. We are perpetually distracted and because we cannot think of Jesus, we also find that we cannot apprehend any object directly.
We are unable to perceive Jesus because our consciousness is always tripping over into yet another cycle of mediation. If it were possible under present conditions, as it was in previous eras, then the state of thinking of, with Jesus as its object, would follow the line of an uninterrupted gaze. But the state of uninterruption, the clearing from which we see clearly, which would culminate from the threefold harmony of image, place, desire is in practice assailed from every direction. The image is distorted. The place occupied. The desire dispersed.

The Jesus lifeworld sets us in motion as beings who desire to turn our gaze directly upon Jesus, as to a solar eclipse, as to the cities of the plain at the moment of their ruin. It is the nature of our desire, chained to affliction, to cast itself into that abyss from which our redeemed form will emerge. And what is Jesus but a weight upon the ankles of those who plumb the depths? But the desire, even if it is embedded from the start, is inoperable. Our gaze slips off the divine as from a polished and inscrutable surface. We do not find what defines us. We are deflected. We shy away. We are averse. 

The word, the image, the message (the sign) of Jesus has been transformed into representation. The image, the place, the desire are disrupted, inhibited, diverted. The stuff of consciousness is collapsed into the recycling mediations of exchange. Where all things are broken down into component parts, relations are recommenced as mosaic, as if from the perspective of some external intelligence. 

To say that we cannot think of Jesus is to say that we are historically prevented from achieving the devotional attention of previous eras. Where we seem to be rapt, we are really only trapped. The general expulsion of activity from the reproduction of existence has also extended to spiritual practices; we do not crawl across jagged rocks to the divine. The state of fascination implemented by computerised communication inverts the relations of devotion: the devotee becomes inert before the operations of the devotional object. 

But devotion is the approach in frenzied irrationality, the shedding of collateral energies, towards the contemplative state that directs itself at the feuerbachian image of the ideal. The ideal object, the face of Jesus, is itself only a vestigial structure of savage consciousness. It is another remnant of the capacity to see directly as preserved at the threshold to real domination. Both immediate perception, and the object of savage consciousness, as captured by the state, become at first ‘religious’ (that is, a set of images, directed towards the species memory of the exterior) and then, later, they decay further into representations.
Commencing from the state’s enclosure of direct perception and its objects, the apparatuses of religion began to take on regulatory functions. The highest purpose of religion was a defensive war conducted around barely comprehended relics and images of exterior existence undertaken against any further encroachment from the relentless sub-systems of representation and the parent ur-system of abstract equivalence generating them. Camatte writes of the devoted that they made a ‘desperate attempt on the part of the community to check the mercantile mechanism that was undermining it [...] what was being violently rejected was the dynamic that separates people by the most atrocious inequalities: the dynamic of exchange value.’

The progressive collapse in direct thinking before the advance of abstract equivalence is itself a compensational response to the historical failure of the capacity to gaze directly as it is interrupted by the ceaseless approach of representations. In the all-mediation/no-object set of relations contained within the exchange environment, the form of Jesus breaks down but not in the sense of historical decomposition. 

By erosive processes, Jesus as a divine image is reduced to a dust that i dispersed through the state-constrained perceptual-conscious apparatus as plastics are broken down and blended into the life-systems of the oceans. Modern humans are sucked into a Jesus swamp of overdeterminations, where the only available definitive paths to seeming significance are the traumatised identities generated by ressentiment. 

If that is what Jesus is now, a purgatorial mode of general consciousness driven by endless aggrievement, this hell of the long spoons, without exit or redemption - precisely, the structural condition of thinking which cannot itself be brought before thought - then, what was he before? What was Jesus when the gaze upon him was not interrupted, when it was still possible to think of him as an attractor of contemplation, as a generator of perspective?

Under Roman despotism Jesus functioned as a cross-roads image: a head impaled on a stake, but still speaking; a crucified body, but still walking. Jesus was a prophet of the condition that is defined by both its belonging to the state and its being set against the state. He was no wayist like Buddha - for Jesus there is neither convergence nor reflection of state and spirit; his is a theology of incommensurability; all things are not ‘one’, on the contrary, all things are outlined; there is in the environment of indexed distinctions only the cohabitation of incompatibilities. 

Jesus opened no path to enlightenment but set up irreducible paradoxes around the interpenetrating separations of Demiurge (Rome) and Logos. Jesus was all interrupted and ultimately defeated outlines. Whilst he prophesied of the objects that became distinct against the law, he also gestured to the law that was caught, like a city on the hill, on the horizon of the Law: Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's.

But what most belonged to Caesar, was Jesus. Only captured thought was capable of thinking beyond the state from within the state. And so it came to pass that Nietzsche was the last human to think directly of Jesus and perceive within Him, the ruins of exterior being. Nietzsche was the last person to really think ‘of’ Jesus, by thinking against him. He was the last to think of him as a worthy opponent, as the author and organising principle of an entire way of life. 

After Nietzsche there are only ‘social’ and ‘economic’ explanations of historical phenomena. Of course, there were believers and worshippers after Nietzsche but these no longer directed their attention to the images of the divine, and in the place of such images were situated representations, and these could only represent the exchangeability of all things. 

The transposition of religious components is to be recognised in terms of a before and an after Nietzsche. This involved a reversal in the flow of investment between believer and believed-in. Before Nietzsche, believers invested in the images and texts of the venerated state. After Nietzsche, representations of religious icons reproduced the masses in the position of believers. 

The masses are prevented by the structure of representation of thinking of any object. They attempt, via ideology, to apprehend the objects pertinent to their reproduction, but in vain - the noise of abstraction fills their senses. Their grasp reaches into the virtual.  After Nietzsche, the churches have been filled with high maintenance interpellated adherent-replicants. They do not think of Jesus, but rather, Jesus (or the representation of Jesus) thinks of them.
  
It is from the artefact of Jesus as a being of the state and against the state that Nietzsche could infer the possible outline of a being outside the state and autonomous from it. It is the irreducibly contradictory character of Jesus, always of and against (flesh, friendship, rebellion, observance, reason, passion) that refracted Nietzsche’s gaze, scattering it beyond the hem of the seamless robe.
Speaking in a parable. A Jesus Christ was possible only in a Jewish landscape. I mean one over which the gloomy and sublime thunder cloud of the wrathful Jehovah was brooding continually. Only here was the rare and sudden piercing of the gruesome and perpetual general day-night by a single ray of the sun experienced as if it were a miracle of “love" and the ray of unmerited “grace." Only here could Jesus dream of his rainbow and his ladder to heaven on which God descended to man. Everywhere else, good weather and sunshine were considered the rule and everyday occurrences.
Communism will presuppose the social capacity to think of Jesus directly, as Nietzsche did, and to gaze unflinchingly upon the face of Jesus without enduring the traumatising effects of the accumulated social relations of the past. What would it be to think of Jesus in circumstances, as Nietzsche almost had it, where a wrathful state is not brooding continually? Communism gives permission for the therapeutic return to the human community of all the past forms of its historical afflictions. 

But the eternal recurrence of its past to the community’s present functioning, its perpetual abreactive recycling of earlier damage, is not in itself the path out. Endless therapy is another truncation of being, another defence mechanism. The exit from history is inseparable from the endless play of direct relations, even so, the ability to tolerate the recapitulation of past forms still may serve as an adequate indicator, as do the presence of certain lichens, of non-polluted being, of life escaped from the state. 

What would it be? What would it be to think of Jesus, to consider Jesus immediately, and then to think of, and also consider and gaze upon, as other modes of Jesus, every past distortion of historical existence stacked together like logs for the hearth; to think and consider, without interruption or mediation, and as if from the outside, as if from outside of history, all the Christs of history, and also to hear every utterance of all the millions of Christs, as if merged into a single utterance; and to think of, and to consider, as if from an alien position, as if from a position separated from history, the resurrected remains of the entire history of civilisation? What all of this means, the encounter with history without recognition or allegiance, without energy or despair, without repulsion or dismissal, but with tolerance and permission, and after having left it all behind, what this would be is the definition of human community where even that idealisation (gemeinwesen) had long ago fallen away. 
You can just see a little peep of the passage in Looking-glass House, if you leave the door of our drawing-room wide open: and it’s very like our passage as far as you can see, only you know it may be quite different on beyond [...] Then she began looking about, and noticed that what could be seen from the old room was quite common and uninteresting, but that all the rest was as different as possible.


Friday, 10 November 2017

Perdix and the serpent’s jaw

The human community as a totality of relations thrives where the products of certain groups remain beyond the apprehension of other groups" -- May I ask what you mean by "thrives" here? Thank you!

Friday, 3 November 2017

I am like a partridge!

What do you think of Taoism? How do works like the Tao Te Ching relate to nihilist communism, if at all?
Thank you for your interesting question. I guess the short response would be to bounce it back to you: how would you ‘relate’ them? Would the relation be reciprocal, profound or merely expropriative? After all, a formal possibility is not sufficient justification for its own realisation. Then, we might ask ourselves, what harm might result from bringing different forms together? And, to what extent can any ‘relation’ occur except abstractly between items in a shopping basket? Even so, despite such conversation killing reservations, I am interested in combinations of ideas, if such combinations are ‘sufficiently’ interesting! But of course, ideas may only relate upon the terrain of their possible relation, and most often in our world this terrain is delineated by the bookshelves made possible through the integration of the academy’s niche specialisms with market forces. Upon such shelves, both Nihcom and the Tao Te Ching may be filed under ‘esoterica’ or more narrowly, ‘the esoterica of fatalistic laughter’. But I think all this is a rather unsatisfactory response so I would like to give a more expansive answer. 

In considering your question, we immediately encounter the problem of ‘orientalism’ (by which we might take to mean the inappropriate affirmation of fragments broken from subjugated cultures) as this co-mingles with the legitimate desire for discourse with the alien. Your question finds me balancing on the polished edge of ambivalence. On the one hand, I am drawn to the esoteric as it is captured on terms other than its own and displayed within all too familiar contexts. On the other hand, I implicitly accept the boundary set upon other cultural interiors from which I am forever excluded. In life, for example, I am only interested in reading translated poetry... that is to say, I respond most to poets that are not reducible to an authentic voice but who’s message arrives as  percolated through the filters of ‘Chinese Whispers’ and mistranslations. 

I have no time for representations of the ‘authentic’, nor for ‘cultures’ as such, which systematically expel those who are supposedly represented. It is my taste for the processed and artificial (whatever is polished by many hands) that I take to be ‘genuine’ or true (that which is thrown together and combined by a system of abstract evaluation). Perhaps Pierre Menard would be my favourite author. 

And on similar lines, I very much enjoy the Taoist poet Li Po as his works appear in Pound (who assigns to him a voice of restrained melancholy, as if in anticipation of the readers who will encounter his world through his poems and nowhere else) and in JP Seaton (who translates him as a proto-beat poet). In one register, translation (after Beer’s axiom: ‘variety absorbs variety’) is the very definition of resilience. In another register, translation is evidence of the latest extinction event, of the great decoding catastrophe of globalism, where that which is translated is reduced to an ever finer gravel of the exchanges ground down by abstract equivalence. 

I can never hope to ‘relate’ to Li Po, nor to know his purpose. The immense distance between his perception of the world and my own, a distance bridged only by the translations of his words, is the only passable route into the contemplation of the mystery that bears his name. Seaton’s translation of the insouciant poem, ‘Answering the Master of the Buddhist Association of Hu-Chou, Who Has Enquired about “this Po Fellow”’ could have been written by Raoul Vaneigem. And that would be my point of entry into a general consideration of the Taoist register: the standpoint of insubordinate laughter before the throbbing cosmos and its simultaneous contracting and expanding of all relatable things. 

If Taoism is a religion, it appears as the religion of the Kulaks and NCOs, and articulates the eternal corporal’s hard-earned wry fatalism before the competing inhumanities of Buddhism and Confucianism. Wouldn’t the Good Soldier Švejk and Sergeant Bilko belong to the ranks of Taoism’s ‘virtuous pagans’ (perhaps they might even count amongst its ‘nine worthies’)? Maybe Catch 22 would be a good fit as one of its later texts. As a way of living within bureaucratic and despotic regimes, and preserving a sense of both irreverence and ‘the old ways’ (and thereby ‘keeping a sense of perspective’) before the vaulting absurdities of the official religions, Taoism as it appears to us, seems both plausible and attractive in the way that Jazz and Surrealism (stripped of the concomitant sectarianism and treachery ) appealed to Eastern European dissidents.

On the other hand, as I said, I was ambivalent about what Taoism could possibly mean to me beyond a decorative illustration of my non-conformity (which itself is another iteration of protestant schismatics).Within the frame of the question, ‘what would Taoism gain from my interest in it?’ it could seem right to refuse to embrace certain insights of Taoism, if in doing so, we may contribute from the outside, to the defence of the integrity of its lifeworld - if this defence were possible, Taosim would then become inaccessible to me. Alien forms, as alien forms, are crucial to the formation and good health of all autonomous instantiations of consciousness. ‘Not going there’ is the most appropriate response to the life-world of the other. 

The human community as a totality of relations thrives where the products of certain groups remain beyond the apprehension of other groups - the cosmic scale of all that cannot be grasped is the condition for every particular apprehension of a line, a shade, a timbre. The perceptible, and knowable, fragments of the cosmos both comfort us at the level in which we must live, and provide a clue to everything unrecognised as it  flows past, and escapes us. 

For this reason, it seems right to me that Taoism remains alien: terrifying, absolute, cosmic. Cozy Taoism, familiar, domesticated, epigrammatic; Taoism reduced to a use-value in the jingling grab-bag of spiritualism and management-speak, and worse still as an expropriated, not too irrational, good religion, in the service of Western science, becomes just another trophy, a record, of the barbarous advance of representation and exchange. 

Before I finish here, I should make it clear that I am not an adherent of Nihilist Communism which is just one product of the ‘Dupont’ project. I am much more a ‘Dupontist’ (a collective identity like that of Luther Blissett) than I am a nihilist communist, or any sort of communist. Perhaps it would be better to consider Dupontism, which is a buffoonish literary sensibility (a boxing glove’s tragicomic reaching to cherry blossom), to Taoism than ‘Nihilist Communism’. And to the extent that I am a Dupontist, and I am one till the day I die; to the extent I have tattooed upon my soul, I did nothing, the worm did everything; to the extent I am a negative wayist; to the extent I have taken the path of fatality and thus refused that of resentment; to the extent that I deny allegiance to single principles, and seek instead to amplify multiple descriptions, and I do (4-ever); to those extents, I am attempting, in response to your request, to perform the relation you have asked about.

If we were to consider, the possibility of a Taoist ‘politics’, perhaps it would involve the discovery of communicating channels between enemy positions; and similarly, perhaps it would uncover incoherences within its own programmatic positions. In practice, this might invite the exploration, for example, of not-fascism (or non-fascism) as an alternative, self-regulating structure to the co-dependent implications of ‘anti-fascism’. In any case, I have been invented within my own Taoism: the axiomatic pathways which constitute the fragile homeostasis of 1950’s cybernetics. For me, the question of autopoietic viability hangs like cigarette smoke at opening time in the era of spit and sawdust: both tangible and abolished; retrieved and frozen; remote and eternal; ephemeral and lost; broken and broken; simple and simple; escaped from and escaped to. To that end, I would like to present as a sort of gift in response to your question, a parable of the ‘way’ or the ‘path’ which I have been thinking about and ‘translating’ for a while. We could call it the path of bird and gardener. 

Have you, as you were working in the garden, found some sort of companionship in the visits of a bird that is ready to overcome its shrinking nature to explore for grubs and worms the turned earth about your feet? And have you noticed how the bird approaches you boldly and decisively but leaves you in panic and sounding its alarm call? Have you ever considered why, for this bird companion, that boldness should precede trepidation? After all, we are more familiar with narratives in which courage is achieved through the overcoming of an original timidity... protagonists fear first, and only after a series of ordeals, are they capable of sticking courage to the sticking place. Courage is experience by desensitisation; innocence appears ‘naturally’ as aversion. But the bird arrives on the handle of your garden fork in bold innocence and achieves a state of sensitisation only through experience. Or rather, that is how we might turn the narrative on its head (‘the reversal of terms in the terms of reversal’). 


The reality is more alien, less narratable, inhuman. The bird is the corporeal locus of, amongst others, two vast, separate, and incompatible, operating systems. Each system binds energy to the set of behaviours necessary to the synthetic coherence of the bird’s outline. Where the first, the hunger-system, predominates, the bird is triggered to produce behaviours in accord with hunger. In the programme, or state, of hunger, the bird damps down other sets of behaviours so as to fully inhabit the hunger set. Within each set of behaviours it becomes the embodiment of a single principle. But it cannot always inhabit the same system: at the threshold of its satiation, it is released from hunger and then immediately occupied by another programme. Suddenly, your bird familiar seems to wake, startled by your proximity. It is seized hold of by an apparatus of fear responses, and hurtles away from you loudly issuing its alarm call. Where hunger damped down its wariness of you, satiation energises the excessive response of full panic. Perhaps of greater interest are the non-behaviours, the trances and glitches, that appear at the threshold between distinct behavioural systems. And right at the end here, another door knob revelation, we might then consider consciousness to be the outcome of multiple exclusive behaviour systems overlaying each other and running both concurrently and against each other. 

Friday, 20 October 2017

Fragments of night 3

what are the current activities of forward unit, if any? do they resemble building wooden puzzles in the night sky? do their cloaks need mending? have the monasteries/phalansteries been built or purchased? on which planets?
Thank you for your enquiry, which is clearly good-hearted. Unfortunately, I cannot respond in the same spirit - my answer comes straight from the spleen. 

I would prefer to speak of the achievement of an archipelago of sanctuaries but alas these have not been, and cannot be, built under present conditions. 

Of course, there is a tendency to make the best of things but we remain always too few, an ever dwindling number of random sparkings - each burning out just before discovering an other. 

Our ideas remain indistinguishable from the background noise of everyday intercourse. We do not have the energy to sustain an autopoietic outline.

Concepts such as Forward Unit only advance into the world in proportion to the quantities of direct/indirect investment of capital, which then may be utilised to draw in and motivate the necessary hours of labour power required to build them. 

Direct investment would suppose the capture of capital flows which the rather incoherent business model of Forward Unit does not have the power to attract. 

And the model itself is not indirectly energised - that is to say, there is no external demand/investment in self-refusing retreats/sanctuaries/monasteries which we might take advantage of and privatise as Forward Unit.

We live in a world of excitement, that is the perpetual war of all things. And we do not want to go to war... that makes it difficult to achieve things. 

In any case, it is ‘vanishingly’ rare for direct and indirect capitalisations to converge in the form of a transformative politics.

2011 stands out as one notable example: indirectly capitalised concepts of ‘democracy’ converged with direct investments in expanding new markets by mobile communications industries. 

But this is to re-state old observations. The original idea of Forward Unit was to explore the possibility of extra-institutional relations between those individuals who had internalised certain harsh lessons.

In general, there has been a decline in the rate of ‘free association’ as this has been interrupted, diverted, privatised and transformed by mediating technologies into, on the one hand a representational global ideal of connection, and on the other the proliferation of a wretched undifferentiated ‘content’.

Autonomous experiments in non-institutionalised relations, such as Surrealism, may now only be marvelled at. They are lost to us.

Free association supposes the unpredicted dispersal and collection of individuals into distal ‘congregations’ at the periphery of the world. Modern power dissuades this movement by concentrating populations and classifying them by differentiating their traumas into markets for identity-types.

We ask ourselves, how was it possible, what did it take, for Godless congregations such as Surrealism to sustain themselves for decades against the progress of instrumentalisation and use-value? 

At one level, there is no mystery, simple expropriation of novelty and racketeering via the capture of its most commodifiable gestures explains almost everything. 

And almost everything about the historical Avant Garde is comprehensible at the level of the contradiction between invested energy, and surplus unbound energy. Isn’t this the argument of ‘The Accursed Share’?

But not everything is articulated as the ‘energy’ of the visceral-economy.  There is also, always and already, as Bataille might say, an other surplus dividing within the surplus.

Where energy itself is considered as the object (where movement, its speeds, its textures, its trajectories are isolated), then ‘relations’, and its congregations, are disclosed. 

As has been written, Forward Unit recognises the Surrealist Group’s internal theological controversy over the ‘Mexican Jumping Bean’ as a dialectical image, as a flashing revelation of the blessed share of Twentieth Century relations. 

These are slack times, we cannot hope to directly experience the convulsive release of world-historical forces, as that which pulsed through the congregation of the Surrealist Group in the moment it situated that kinetic bean as its traumatic kernel.

If Surrealist practice crashed together the life-worlds of the dissecting table and the sacrificial altar, then what of the harsh lessons, the lived constraints, that Forward Unit must live by? What would be the principle basis of non-principle based free association? 

There is the novice’s practice of individual hygiene of course: conflicted participation; ambivalent engagement; refusal of the political; openness to the tragedy of villains; blessings upon enemies; 

anti-enthusiasm; avoidance of crowds; orientation towards the worm; never denounce/never personalise; cultivation of non-consensus; movement by loss; 

sighing; scything; sidling; discomforting untimeliness; caught short at departure; depreciation of early visions; having barked up the wrong forest; wandering; waning; winnowing;

embrace of difficulty and affliction; self-sabotage; failure to realise projects across decades; turning again and again to the impossible relations of the human community; 

in the hour of decision, the uncertain step; in the waking before morning; a refusal of progress; in contemplation of decline; laughter from the wings; laughter interrupting thought; laughter only;

cleaving to the shedding. The petty character traits of the spiritually-atypical: I do not expect you to agree; I do not say what I say is true; I do not claim any of this is what I am, or what I believe.

By implication, harsh constraints put us individually in another place (and perhaps in another market) but what of the collective endeavour? What of Forward Unit?

If you can imagine a praxis, apparatus, event which lights the candle of forms and simultaneously snuffs them out, then that praxis would suppose the congregation of Forward Unit.

The thing fixed before the gaze of Forward Unit is what wakes in weariness - Forward Unit pities whatever is thrown from hibernation into the torment of awakening Spring. 

Forward Unit calls upon the world to show mercy to all new things born within the old wave of endless profusion.
Forward Unit intuits: if what will be, must be, then it is better the world’s process is endured to the completion of its own plan, than reformed and so extended. 

Forward Unit supposes: the world must die before it will let go. Nothing may be abolished, but everything erodes. 

If every permutation has to be lived through before the system is to be finally escaped, then it is better that the sequence of all dreary potentials is speeded towards its exhaustion. 

Real accelerationism is directed towards the immediate decomposition of the duration of permutational forms. 

From the standpoint of Forward Unit, the mayfly overstays its welcome. 

Under accelerated conditions, that which begins also ends, but has no continuity. All lines must contract to points. 

From the standpoint of Forward Unit, the dictatorship of the proletariat is inseparable from the decommissioning of the productive apparatus. 

The goal of Forward Unit is to part-literalise Beckett’s metaphor of giving birth ‘astride the grave’ -  productive energies must be deflected towards producing an exit from the world (production must prevent reproduction). 

The discreet practice of Forward unit is committed to unplugging everything it is about to bring to life. 

The Forward Unit programme stands on its head the Situationist addiction to the ‘suppressing and realising’ of forms; and imagines no power to the imagination; and desires taking repulsion for reality.

The Forward Unit prayer: let life go out of things; let there be quietude; let them find sanctuary; let them know another place; let the world allow them quarter; and let there be to them, no world. Ah-men. 

The Forward Unit community will live in accord with the exhaustion of world-productive energies, and the heat-death of dominion.

So, at the end, I find your good question, as drawing salve to the sting of my poor answer. This exercise has, by its cathartic effect, lifted a burden and lightened my spirit. I warmly shake your hand. 


Saturday, 8 July 2017

Association (10 year anniversary revised text*)

I would even say that this infection of the human which contaminates ideas that should have remained divine, far from believing that man invented the supernatural and the divine, I think it is man’s age old intervention which has ultimately corrupted the divine within him. Artaud (1938)
We like the writings of mad poets. We like how their words are made to go about naked of all nuance. There is no pausing in their stark usage, except perhaps, only a slight hesitation where they gather their resources and push on so as to achieve an even starker formulation. 

We are grateful to the mad poet because he extracts simple and absolute forms from that which we had previously considered to be a tangle of complication. 

We do not seek meaning in the mad poets’ writings, we know that their intent is meaningless, beyond even themselves. Even so, we are drawn to them, and perhaps the reason for our attraction is because of this state of consciousness that they achieve outside of meaning. 

Where meaning is absent, patterns of perceptible points become apparent in the scene. The pattern of points replaces the procedures of meaning and organises a different level of response. These points are the intense features of the scene, they are immediately recognised by the poets. 

Landmarks, as topographic points of intensity, will draw attention the moment meaning is suspended. They are visited and revisited as if they had been forgotten, they are compulsively returned to, rediscovered and reinvested in. They attract, over time, reinvented rituals and reinterpretations of the rituals. In the movement between these constant points there is described a territory, there is demonstrated a pattern.

It is not meaning that we find compelling in the mad poets’ words so much as a pattern of engagement in the world. Their writings uncover the basic forms of perception which we all use but from which most of us derive too complex and apparently formless meanings.

The simple shadows cast by Artaud’s words are similar in effect to those that neolithic structures make upon the landscape. The shapes thrown are basic, rudimentary, primitive and therefore eternal, generative, irreducible. 

We find the found forms in the mad poets’ works, in the pattern described by their works. And in their works they found the forms they found within themselves. In their works, the stone circles and the poetic injunctions, we find what they found in them. 

They found the found forms, and in them, we too find the found forms. They arrived at the patterns inherent to speech and to structure from which they set out when making speech, and making structure. 

And we arrive back where they started before their works and find again in them the forms and patterns which we too must set out from. The circle, the excavation, the erection, the line.

We do not find meaning in patterns, we only find pattern. It's all a recording. It is because we have pattern that we will later fall into meaning. It's all a tape. We return to the world those forms which we make and with which we are already saturated. 

We repeat the patterns in the world which we find within ourselves so that we might then recognise these forms and know ourselves through them.

We recognise the forms so we recognise ourselves through the forms. External construction of patterns in the world permits our further engagement in the world. 

From realisation of the first pattern we derive a second pattern that we are then impelled to realise. The second pattern becomes the territory from which we may return to the first pattern or venture towards a third. 

Journeys, pilgrimages, compulsive returns, from and to topographical features are driven by the inherent meaninglessness of pattern. The world of pattern is all landmark and no referent. We are drawn by structure, by shape. We are repulsed by structure, by shape.

For us, there is no ‘angry god’ in the volcanoes. There is no tempter in the desert. There is no serpent in the orchard. There is no intelligence in the depths, no affect in the sky. Meaning is a reading of a world that begins from estrangement. 

Wherever we are denied the topographical (or geometric) element of our existence, we create meaning. Where we are denied the mountain, we cower before an angry god. Where we are denied the desert, we encounter an agency of temptation. And so on. 

Meaning refers only to denied territories and forbidden patterns. We produce meaning as compensation for exclusion. The tendency to fall into meaning, and out of pattern, is a constant of aggregating consciousness (even if it is a process that may also be disrupted). 

We re-enter a forbidden place by our recalling it in our memories. We return to it ‘in our dreams’, in our evocations, by our conjuring up of its features in our mind’s eye. Don Genaro returns eternally to the mountain he will never return to, and which he has never left.

We combine a territory’s memory-suffused structures with the processes of our consciousness and thereby change it for ourselves. As we pass from a register of pattern to one of meaning, we transform the territory, through remembrance, into our map of its features which then, in turn, come to symbolise our exclusion from it. 

Meaning is always the subjective reproduction of a vestigial territory, as an ideal of consciousness, at the point those recalling it become aware they are categorically denied access to its interior. 

Our later returns no longer arrive at topographical patterns but are driven by an impulse to find the locus for a trace of our selves. We desire our own tethering, becoming our own scapegoat, to the meaning, to the tradition, which we are certain is a designated site, a point of origin or entry, that we have ideally located somewhere in the wilderness. We listlessly traipse between the stations of the poets. 

It is from the organisational principles of pattern that we learn how only found objects may be found. Lost objects will not be found as they belong to the domain of meaning, which is also the domain of loss. 

Lost objects resist finding. The function of meaning is to relinquish lost objects which only exist in order to be relinquished. And meaning is the perpetual compulsion to relinquish lost objects (which never degrade but bob insistently like a floating island on the sea of meaning). 

Pattern is contingent, accidental, fleeting. The found objects of the domain of pattern, even as a structural (constituitive) call and response between an exterior and interior, do not necessarily persist (the patterning of patterns which is determined by a given redundancy is not necessarily always there). 

A church tower at dusk is a lost object, suffused with meaning, functioning as the output of an unprocessable defeat. It is all a recording. The breeze through a field of barley is a pattern, a found object found. It is all a fake. And only what is found, because it is completed, may be completely erased.

There must be found objects out there before we may find things. There must be lost objects in here before we may lose things. This is the basis of all the possibility, and potentiality, of all reproduction. 

Just as 'Christianity' was operational before there was Christianity (a problem set in Purgatory by 'Dante' to 'Virgil'), and just as there was 'capitalism' before there was capitalism, and just as there has to be 'communism' before there may be communism, so the rules of every domain are set as a practical return along pre-existing pathways to recognisable features. 

No domain will survive if it is dependent upon willed collective activity alone. All elective relations, stripped of compulsive reference, and thus structured redundancy, will be found lacking in reality - a chronic affliction of all radical and schismatic experiments. 

It is only through derangement, our own and that of others, that we may again recognise our proclivity for marking out meaningless patterns. Amongst the lapses of memory, the slips of meaning, we again make out the rippling echoing forms. 

For a moment, we find again the found forms that we have carved into the external world and which are carved into us. But already too late, and even as we try not to remember them, the patterns laying over patterns, we begin again to employ them as the means by which we will appropriate ourselves, and ourselves in the world. 





*Originally published in 'Species Being and Other Stories' (2007)