Thursday, 18 February 2021

saturnine and fugitive

 Look, Storm, sorry I don't mean to bore you but there's no such thing as an aura! Reading Auras is like reading minds or tea-leaves or star-signs or meridian lines. These people aren't applying a skill, they're either lying or mentally ill. Same goes for people who claim they hear God's demands or Spiritual healers who think they've magic hands. - Tim Minchin

 

1

If it is true to say that festivals of the spirit mark the place where technology fails, then equally it should be recorded that technical operations are activated wherever human affection must be overcome. The more technologically forward, the more emotionally backward; the more technologically backward, the more emotionally forward. The individual encounters the spiritual in the impasse of social production, he is thrown back into a fantasy of another, and unrealisable, community to which he may belong on other, and /oceanic/ terms. The fractured world cultivates fantasies of a sense of reassuring enclosedness, of the soft scoop embrace of the cosmos, and of the communion and healing associated with a resultant state of restful arrival. The transactional world persists even into the desire that all this might turn out to have been /worth it in the end/. Recourse of fractured being to the fantasy of a higher, and meaningful, plane emerges as a desire for a conclusive event of overcoming of troubles, for an otherwise non-viable solution to, a compensation for, the drags, thorns and inhibiting pressures of interpellated being. 

2

Spiritual knowledge is achieved at the self’s expense; technical knowledge is achieved at the expense of society. The ease of the individual is realised at the cost of an irrevocable violence to the shape of community; the ease of the community is realised at the cost of an distorting violence visited upon individuals. 

 

3

Continuity within /community/, wherein a spiritual content is referenced both as rupture and tradition, is achieved in the perpetual trade-off between fixed modalities of power which must shift in relation, and in combination, but not in type. Spirituality then filters through endless permutations in the proportions institutionalised as immediacy and mediation, one moment is characterised by its liberalisation, and another by its centralisation. The life of the spirit percolates through social relations, not as an eternal or invariable exterior, but as a dark reflection, a reaction to the churning mechanism of social reproduction. It becomes the means for expressing the subject’s ambivalent tendency towards both transgression and conformity in relation to temporal power, or it becomes, in line with the project of continuity itself, that fleeting-eternally oriented product which is to be conserved and carried across the thresholds of events and /recognised/ in the repertoire of scattered affirmations and negations which it elicits from that culturally bound community for which it has ongoing relevance.

 

4

The first order of movement within the relations of a community is constituted as a fluctuation between conservation of acquired traits and metabolisation of events; it is a movement that inevitably converts its products from an immediate and personal modality into a displaced and mediated form.  Direct repression transforms over time into consensus which inevitably develops in line with the subject population’s internalisation of roles, rules, rewards. The fatal cost of the transformatory process upon the community itself, as instituted power passes from a state of terror to that of habituation, is an incremental sclerotic and constraining effect upon the community’s institutions as abstraction feeds down into its members’ personal relations - it is from this fissuring between states of social stability and societal collapse, between the environmentalised fail-safe of post-scarcity and the cosmic ravages of plague, that the spiritual referent hatches out. 

 

5

After all, and within this second indirect phase, another movement, a whirling within the wheel: the natural development of the system follows the inevitable path from an earlier phase of formalised or self-legislating capture of spontaneously occurring but archaic and exterior forms to a later, developed phase realised as a fully environmentalised and integrated apparatus. Whereupon the circuit of a third movement is immediately activated, and operating as a compensatory corrective to the lack of social nutrition in abstraction: within the cumulative realisation of indirect domination, direct and personal authority must return, but in the attenuated and primitive shape of spiritual authenticity, as the return of the repressor as first authority, leader and father, and as a representation of the form of direct domination, which the system itself has already subsumed. The administered community will seek to conjure the object of spirituality, the moment it has expelled the last remnants of spirit’s material reality. 

 

6

The possibility for any spiritual awakening is not contradicted by either material forces, there is nothing but, nor the imputed materialist mindset of modern humans, /it was ever thus/. Contrariwise! The project of spirituality is structurally inhibited from achieving the qualitative form of an unprecedented particularity that it seeks out by the conceptual basis of its own categorisation. By definition, the spiritual must escape the constraints of the material and quotidian and yet, also by definition, its tendency to slip back from the violent exceptionality of individual gnosis into the recurrent interchangeability and conciliation of its avatars and instances, its responsiveness to collation and categorisation, suggested first in the syncretism of its concept, acts to foreclose on its own realisation. 

 

7

Spirituality in the particular /should/ extend the amplitude of the material human community by returning the rupture of its content at a higher level of exceptionality, and by reintroducing that which is excluded as problematic, irrational and irrelevant as an additional finding, an additional knowledge, an additional mode of relating - Saturn’s disquieting return as fugitive, upturning the orderly house of Capricorn. Every tarot card, even the /palace of swords/ may be reversed. Even so, in practice, spirituality /qua/ spirituality, serves a base actualising function for the dominant modality as pseudo-contradiction within the reproduction of vulgar totality where it is already condemned to departmentalisation as the esoteric, spiritual and well-being stock of bookshops, the false fetishes and nicknacks of /alternative emporiums/, the tawdry cold -readings and manipulations of confirmation bias as practiced by leaders, organisers, teachers, guides and masters, and the placatory, small-ad circulated yoga-derived classes and the new year resolution driven self-improvement schemes renting spaces in community centres. Everywhere spirit is sold as placebo when, in its orphic guise, it is wolfish antagonist to the constraints of Pentheus. 

 

8

Certainly, the individual will attain greater self-knowledge by /forcing the hand of chance/ through the scattering/funnelling heuristics of divination (tarot, bibliomancy, scrying, astrology, prayer) in realising the project of its de-institutionalisation than it will from the adaptation strategies of psychology. The ideological component of the material sciences deployed against the tutelage of /fairies at the bottom of the  garden/ is exposed cryptically as the transgressive pleasures  stolen back in games of fortune telling: /all human relations take on the objective forms of the abstract elements of the conceptual systems of natural science and of the abstract substrata of the laws of nature/ and are experimented with and operated upon as if they /were/ another such stratum. 

 

9

The violent alienation of the community from the individual  realised through the progressive acquisition of its historical traits inevitably encounters a reaction as the violent alienation of the individual from the community realised in the rupture of its spiritual awakening. The narrow framing inherent to technical knowledge, which finds its material expression in the availability of exchangeable products, reflects and conditions, and is mutually conditioned by, the mode of domination constituted by commodity production for which science is its alibi - /following the science/ has lately become the rationale for every institutionalised irrationality. Incompatible modes of knowledge, that may only manifest as outbursts of  inchoate immediacy, are both institutionally /defunded/ and exteriorised, but also later re-employed either as catalysing agents of capital destruction or as diverting placebos along the lines of /well you know, you better free your mind instead/.

 

10

The subjective content of spirituality is a residue of the unmetabolisable shock of a damascene event. The movement of spirit  is experienced as a dawning horror at the imminent and irreversible separation of the subject from all that went before. Particular knowledge must alter its subject irrevocably, as it becomes both threshold and whatever monstrous thing passes across it. The violent rupture instigated by gnosis, as described by PKD, supposes life-changing injuries; as a domain accessed by funnel trap, it is found only by means of the derangement of the senses, in delirium, madness and by what is nowadays called self-harm, with suicide as its perfected form. There is never any going back, but spiritual gain is precisely realised as an irrevocable forfeiture of the capacity to adapt - knowledge of the cosmos nails the gnostic to the cosmos, he is transformed into embodiment of the ambiguous force of knowledge itself: /Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done/. The scarifying logic of the ascetic life has no return to an earlier habitus, only a disavowal that cannot be separated from the body’s accumulated modifications. Spirituality, like digging a new grave and inadvertently exhuming one’s own corpse, is released from matter’s basest form, the wound.

 

11

The ambiguous role of the charlatan as honest guide to the spirits,  is exemplified in the trickster figure of Casteneda whose progressive transformation of hoaxes first into a career and then into spiritual authority both blocked any return to the academic domain of technical knowledge and irrevocably locked him into a fatal realisation of his own inescapable particularisation - his disciples inexorably drawn in his wake and dispersed into the desert. All knowledge is fatal, /time is emptied out into spirit/, but there is something in the fatality of spiritual knowledge that strikes the ideological mindset, itself habituated to the rituals of commodified /potentiality/, as gratuitous and intolerable; in practice, the spiritualised endgame is merely an abrupt path out from the state’s monopoly on violence, it is the subject’s expropriation of its own convulsive awakening. The truth of the spirit manifests in a violent secession from the banal conventions of survival - it is an erotic emptying of the dwindling contents of a last water bottle, as libation to the desert earth. It has its own exigency which cannot be presented as a technical object. Spirit as knowledge appears as absolute limit upon the possibility of knowledge, upon the possible acts drawn from knowledge, and upon the continuity of beings constituted in knowledge - it is perversity’s own point of disappearance. Gnosis constitutes a rupture with its object, a traumatic and unstable faultline at the core of consciousness, and yet also is only sustained as an unbroken tension, a commensurate incommensurability, a relation, between /meaningfulness/ and the banal state of the operable.

 

12

Some will drift out very far, and they will never return. Others will wander without disappearing. And still others will splash in the shallows - for these, the cosmic terror located beyond the confines of the black iron prison becomes the content of an exterior-oriented playfulness. Playing is also a step on the inexorably winding path towards the exit. Marcel observes upon the structural furnishings of Odette’s drawing room, redolent of haute bourgeois social relations, the appearance of a second order, suggesting her inextricable involvement with a counter-bourgeois tendency situated like a splinter in the heart of precarious respectability: /superimposed upon the decoration of the room another, a supplementary scheme of decoration, as rich, as delicate in its colouring, but one which was alive and would last for a few days only./ Stretched like a skin over the apparatus channelling heat loss, a second Odette-like effusion, alive as the spirit at play, scattered with the petals of chrysanthemums.

Sunday, 20 October 2019

For so partaking of your wrongs, In your bosom, I build my nest



Oh, you silly thing, you’ve really gone and done it now. When I am confronted with the first edge of my own hitherto unsuspected culpability in yet another personal disaster, in those seconds of waking realisation, and even before I have ‘adjusted to’, never-mind metabolised, what is going on, and as I am stumbling beneath the burden of that moment of about to as it is expressed in the American prosaism ‘the shit is about to hit the fan’ (more ambiguously processed by Farrokhzad  ‘In my night, so brief, alas / The wind is about to meet the leaves.’), when I am thus confronted, and in the midst of my scrambling through affective scree, playing catch up by which I might align my affect with the ubiquitous modern state of studied nonchalance, and still long before I may recompose myself behind that off-the-peg mien of habituated disdain (‘I'm dead behind these eyes. I'm dead, just like the whole inert, shoddy lot out there. It doesn't matter because I don't feel a thing, and neither do they.’), it is then that this paradigmatic understatement will thread itself into my wakening state - oh you silly thing, you’ve really gone and done it now

Saturday, 28 July 2018

The knights who said night

Habit is eternal return stripped of its originality
Before the habitual weakness of the knights, the habitual weakness written into the knights. 

All the later knights, writing in retrospect the errors of the earlier knights. And all the earlier knights waiting to erase the sentence written onto them by the later knights.

Those who come later, anticipating and warding off the known errors of before. And by looking to avoid earlier errors succeeding only in repeating them.

Dissimilarly, before the act, not action, but acts. Before the thief, not theft, but thieves. Before the rebel, not rebellion, but rebels. Before the traitor, traits. Before the addict, habits. And before the creditor and the debtor, the promises written into them.

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.