representationalism

day 320 – Ideonella Sakaiensis – day 382 – Underland

I have just finished Robert Macfarlane’s Underland, subtitled A Deep Time Journey. It ends with the image of a network. The chapter, ‘The Understorey,’ has already dealt with the wood wide web. So it’s not that kind of network. And in a way it is a social network. Although multimillion-dollar-earning and data-farming corporations have done their best to discredit the notion.

Macfarlane is at Onkalo, the deeptime repository for depleted uranium from nuclear power stations in Finland. There is a documentary, Into Eternity, about this burial site, that, as Macfarlane writes, exists to protect the future from the present. It too is as worth seeing as Underland is worth reading–for the excavation of the problem of living in a humanscaled time, a time scaled to human interests, self-interest, in the age of the Anthropocene. The problem that stuck with me from Into Eternity (available here) is that of communicating with whatever future beings come across the burial sites for uranium. Existing languages are unlikely to survive the millennia separating us from what comes after us.

Macfarlane’s book is an excavation of the problem of the Anthropocene, as it persists from the past into the present and will do so into the future, hence, A Deep Time Journey. Deep in the caverns of Onkalo, not as deep, Macfarlane writes, as he has ever ventured into the earth, but over a thousand feet into the bedrock, on a plastic panel attached to the wall of this ‘hiding place’ that is still under construction, he sees the print of a right hand … “left there at some point for the keeping of balance, for the taking of rest–or just for the making of a mark.” (418)* You can see that Macfarlane’s orientation, despite digging into the prehuman past and the posthuman future, remains humanist.

He writes, recapitulating scenes from earlier in the book, “I think of the black and red hand-prints left on the cave walls at Chauvet, of the red figures of the dancers with their outstretched arms, of the spray-can hand stencil on the catacomb wall in Paris, of Helen reaching a hand down to haul me out of the moulin. I think of the many people I have encountered in and through the underland who have been committed to shared human work rather than to retreat and isolation. Many of them have been mappers, really, of networks of mutual relation, endeavouring to stitch their thinking into unfamiliar scales of time and space, seeking not the scattered jewels of personal epiphany but rather to enlarge the possible means by which people might move and think together across the landscapes, in responsible knowledge of deep past, deep future and the inhuman earth.” (418)

… the scattered jewels of personal epiphany… immediately recalls me to my own efforts, in regard to stitching thought, in encounter with the problem of outside the human, or, what David Abram calls the more-than-human world, in his book, The Spell of the Sensuous, my own efforts, in their failure to make networks and to be able to maintain them except for the briefest of times… that enlarge the possible means by which people might move and think together … in responsible knowledge … and efforts made in mapping mutual relations in the absence of social and cultural institutional recognition that the most basic elemental relations are mutual–those in regard to the elements of warmth, light, air, and of earth, of the earth below our feet, our paws, where the fungal fingers find the roots of trees… The elemental refers here to Lingis’s notion of an elemental imperative that we worked through, with, in Minus Theatre, for the brief time it was in existence. (It would persist, persists notionally perhaps, but for my failure to provide the means for this persistence–

(were it not for the retreat and isolation I have bought into… and in the absence of institutional, cultural support mechanisms for this type of venture. Which is the type of venture Macfarlane records, is his own, but also that of the Paris underground, and… is that of many of the people he meets, stays with, journeys into the underland with, in the writing of his book.)

Then… a book. What is it? … or think about the publication I am currently courting for the writing I am doing outside of this website… Or ask yourself as I do, what can I do, what do I think? What do I think with what comes from the outside the human?

And I like that he calls them, these mappers of networks, those not seeking the scattered jewels of personal epiphany, but I cannot also help recalling Rilke, whom he cites, up in the karst of Northern Italy. Poetry. That effort to go down below the personal strata of experience into the bedrock of human experience… and passing through human experience to find the mutual relations that extend to and subtend all of life. All of living experience.

Benjamín Labatut’s book, which I have been reading alongside Underland, is called When We Cease to Understand the World. And as he mentions Heidegger I don’t think it such a stretch to interpret understand from the title as unterstehen. It is this understanding, this sense of undergoing the world, from its bedrock in the earth, and of supporting its living processes that is invoked in Lingis’s elemental imperative. So that ceasing to understand the world performs a counterpoint to the journey of Macfarlane’s book.

Ceasing to understand the world is what the characters in Labatut’s risk. It is their adventure. And it is so for the efforts they make, the lengths they go to, physically, psychologically, spiritually, to understand the world, but to understand it in that other sense of understanding with which we are more familiar than with Heidegger’s, or Lingis’s that he gets from Heidegger, that Heidegger’s effort was ever the tutelary effort for to de-familiarise. So as to start thinking. To start thinking and so form responsible knowledge. What else is philosophy for?

This familiar sense is understanding irresponsibly for Labatut, for his characters, a misunderstanding that doesn’t understand mutual relations of support and nourishment, that shits in its nest for the sake of Knowledge. For his characters it is mathematical understanding as the bedrock of science that reaches a point where it ceases to understand the world.

It is probably this book’s seriousness, where it abuts up against Macfarlane’s. Fritz Haber, the inventor, father of chemical warfare and of synthetic nitrogen production. The latter enabling the nourishment of an exploding population at the turn of the 20th century. The former enabling the destruction of thousands of men in the field–and animals–and anything that ventured into the released gasclouds–horses, mice, rabbits & men–in the most horrific of ways. Grothendieck’s retreat from the world when he recognises the deep horror at the heart of the heart of mathematical understanding. Heisenberg’s and Schrödinger’s negative epiphanies. Their discoveries coming at the expense of crises, of psychoses. And these all being of the nature of seeking the scattered jewels of personal epiphany only to find in them inordinate and impersonal destructive potential.

Then Macfarlane writes, citing Jebediah Purdy’s After Nature, that humanity does not change its course, science neither, we might say, unless the hand held out is burnt; but the burning is not enough. Humans have also to find something to love. Something to affirm in responsible understanding. (419) What is it?

Macfarlane seems to think humanity needs to love humanity once more–in its social mapping, its networks of responsible understanding.

He also writes: “What did the mountaineer-mystic W.H. Murray say after being released from years spent in German and Italian POW camps? Find beauty, be still.” (241)

*references to Robert Macfarlane, Underland: A Deep Time Journey, (London, UK: Hamish Hamilton, 2019)

to Benjamín Labatut, When We Cease to Understand the World, Trans. Adrian Nathan West, (London, UK: Pushkin Press, 2021)

These two NASA pictures show the blue dunes of Mars.

Macfarlane, in his marvelous book–his book of marvels, every chapter–Underland, is in Norway, speaking about the literature of the underland of the early 1800s, when it was believed, by one writer, whom I can’t help think of as capturing in this idea a common belief, in the imaginary of the time, that the earth was a series of concentric spheres, like Dante’s hell, but with the difference that by gaining entry there was under our feet a limitless earth, a limitless series of nested inner earths to exploit, to settle, to discover–in reverse order: to discover new lands, to settle them, and exploit the resources they provided.

Reading this, I couldn’t help thinking of the later science fiction that informs now our cosmology of the multiverse–limitless resources for there being, after every branch in time, another fully perfectly formed ripe universe, all hanging on the same cosmological tree, ready to pick or be picked–and before that the imaginary of the time: other worlds waiting for us to get there, with their opportunities for discovery, settlement and exploitation. Another reverse order of nested boxes of plenty.

So to situate in our time, that I can’t help thinking of tonight as the time of the unexplainable–because it refuses to impart to us its sense and has been set up as a posthuman or nonhuman imaginary. An abdication by it or by us–although it is by us–of human sense-making. Unexplainable. The course of events we now find ourselves locked into. So to situate what was this inner inner earth desire for an underland of riches as for us an outer outer world of … the blue dunes of Mars, of the mineral riches to be found of the moon, of all the astral opportunities on offer through our telescopes.

And worse: to be technologically delivered these riches. Contact with extraterrestrial intelligent to be the fulfillment of this technological delivery. And to deliver our salvation.

From the world’s problems.

When an earlier writer, Eiseley can say, unlike Liu in the The Dark Forest, where to be found is to fall prey to superior civilizations, a universe where to hide successfully is to survive, that Eiseley can say there is no chance of life at all elsewhere than earth given that the chances of it here are infinitesimal. And that despite the infinitesimal probability of life it has here occurred … and is by its own tenets of evolutionary development wiping itself out.

Although written a year almost exactly a year ago, Joseph Nechvatal’s piece, “From Viruses to Algorithms, We Are Always Under Threat,” on the Hyperallergic site, is the smartest I’ve read in dealing with our viral times. (April 19, 2020, here) This is my favourite paragraph:

Locked-down at home, hiding, you are under ever-increasing pressure to conform, to survey, and be surveyed. Probably you are not against this temporary necessity of surveillance and conformity, but these are the perfect conditions in which totalitarianism flourishes. It is ruinous for the creation of daring new art, and effects the shrinking of places that exhibit nonconformist acts of imaginative spontaneity. You may pour your aesthetic energies into your stay-at-home work, but algorithmic cultural calculus is an obstacle you must overcome to realize your aesthetic freedom. Pathetically, algorithm-driven popular culture that uses optimization-driven, actor-critic, neural network for deep learning emotion analysis (such as Apache MXNet, the deep learning framework in Amazon) puts your cultural choices to work even in your imposed quarantined space of leisure. Probably you have little access to art with which to inoculate yourself and think unpredictably with. You dwell in a viral copy culture of increasing cultural homogenization as Google tracks and guides your tastes.

— Joseph Nechvatal, Hyperallergic

It is my favourite for asking the question with what art to inoculate ourselves and with what to think unpredictably?

This inoculation of the virus is like the virus in the sense Nechvatal imagines it to be both medium and message: unpredictable thinking is that with which you inoculate yourself to think unpredictably with it. You inoculate yourself with a nonconformist act of imaginative spontaneity so as to be able to engage in a nonconformist act of imaginative spontaneity. This act is an art act. It is not a performative. Despite the resemblance between the viral (being both medium and message) and the performative there is a difference. It is an act.

Before considering how it works, how, you might say, art works, to stand against the copy format, so that, in face of contemporary art’s challenging stimulus, you enter into yourself and re-emerge with expanded capacities you never knew were there, as Nechvatal writes, I want to say what I disagree with in this piece, either because it is too predictable or because it compounds what Jarry writes of as the powers of the Disembraining Machine.

Andrew Murphie, in a nice essay, “Bicycling to the Limits of Being: Deleuze and Guattari’s machinic thought, Heidegger, and Alfred Jarry’s time travel,” has it that the Disembraining Machine provides the “full Heideggerian nightmare” by attempting to construct systems of total machinic enslavement. What Nechvatal calls totalitarianism.

Although Murphie associates the Disembraining Machine with contemporary cognitivist culture that is a contemporary embraining of the brain I see this cognitivism as itself symptomatic of a displacement of cognition onto the market-brain, the market insofar as it is site of speculation, thought, at as-close-to-the-speed-of-light as contemporary computation (the stakes in this computation being speed and power of computation, speed as power), with which cognitivism aligns itself, can manage. So as to be an active choice of disembraining to attain the advantages of the acceleration in rates of data calculation afforded by the machine. All the rest is infographics.

…aka propaganda… the subject in Nechvatal’s view remains the human. Only in the human world are the characteristics of algorithmic digital viruses transferable to the molecular variety. I want to pause here to consider what this means for the machinic that is Guattari’s invention, since in Guattari’s view machinism is not special to the human world but is a fact of the world outside the human. What takes the machine from human to more than human is its asignifying capacities, its nonperformance of communication, of the communication of meaning, its nonperformativity, but that it acts, its activity. This activity is against the machine of cognitivism–that is, the brain. Against the brain’s understanding as it is commonly understood. And with the brain, against the social network as being modeled on the brain, the brain a network, the three networks: psychic, social and that of the life of the planet, the living planet.

Guattari’s three ecologies and his machines are indifferent to the moralism, the anthropocentric moralism, in its understanding of the brain, the network and the world.

This is then where I depart from Nechvatal, since it is only in the all-too-human world, which valorises symbolic exchange, that the metaphor can be sustained of the computer virus and the molecular virus, of the one transposable–wilfully? poetically? artistically?–into or onto the other. Not only do I maintain that they are mutually irreducible, I find art to be a work of the outside the human. Not an inoculation. An exoculation.

Consider painting–Herzog’s homo spiritualis of Chauvet; never is, never has been homo sapiens: has never known anything–and how painting thinks–or to recapitulate the less common sense of understanding, how painting understands. What the hand of the painter has to undergo is becoming mineral. Because pigment is always at heart a matter of minerals.

In other words, this old art form, painting, is not the awakening of modern human awareness as Herzog in his Cave of Forgotten Dreams at first has it. It is the awakening of nonhuman awareness. Of a mineral thinking. Of what Deleuze calls anorganic life: life in the understanding of the outside the human. That is, the nonhuman.

And perhaps we can think of this as spiritual.

— from here

https://thespinoff.co.nz/books/16-06-2016/five-things-i-was-thinking-about-while-writing-mysterious-mysteries-of-the-aro-valley-an-essay-by-danyl-mclauchlan/

Tranquility and Ruin.* There is an aspect to Danyl McLaughlan’s book that is he has gone there so that you don’t have to. Like Louis Theroux, in the porn industry. But, like Louis Theroux, in porn, why would you want to?

That McLaughlan chooses to, makes me suspicious. Nowhere more so than in the hope industry of the effective altruists. Here’s the webpage: Using reason and evidence to do the most good. Not the webpage for the book but for the hope addicts who support this industry. Like the porn addicts who support that industry.

(Incidentally, hope addiction has been statistically verified to be the number one killer of spontaneous creative acts in the developed world. It is, as they say, a first world problem.)

What do I suspect McLaughlan of? is it naivety? No.

As D. pointed out to me, what hooks you in to McLaughlin’s studiedly plain prose (read: refuses to flatter itself with an intellectual posing pouch by refusing to fill (an intellectual) one) is that his own neuroses keep manifesting. He keeps breaking in to his narrative with his own indecision, depression, twisty fuckupedness. D. finds this, although it is more distasteful than charming, disarming. It makes me want to throw the book against the wall. No. I wanted to read about this evidence of the disembraining machine at work. The disembraining of cognition–using reason and evidence–at the hand of cognitivism (see above).

To cleanse my subjecto-aesthetico-political palate, I wanted to re-read Josh Cohen’s Not Working: Why We Have to Stop. The injunction held in Cohen’s title seems eminently more sensible, practicable, reasonable and self-evident than anything in Tranquility and Ruin. Just stop! What your body and mind are telling you in your breakdown is that you have to stop working. Or trying to work. Or trying to be useful. And above all don’t try and do any good: end your addiction to hope.

(This could also be Rob Doyle’s message in his novels … but they are about the addiction to hopelessness or nihilism that only affirms the addiction to hope: like giving up is part of the addiction, to smoking, for example.)

McLaughlin cannot imagine any alternative to capitalism. This is reasonable evidence that the full Heideggerian nightmare has already occurred: isomorphic with capitalism, cognitivism is the system of total machinic enslavement.

Not by coincidence do we find ourselves experimental subjects in the capital-concentration camp. (This is why I envy Antoine Volodine his “anarcho-fantasist post-exoticism” and it makes me think that in a way Murray Edmond may have been right when he said to me that he didn’t consider the last century to be the American but to be the Russian Century. We had just been talking about Ernie Abbott.)

*Anyl McLaughlin, Tranquility and Ruin, (Wellington, NZ: Victoria University Press, 2021).

“Unlike other species, we have cosmological belief systems that give meaning to experience and to events like the death of a loved one.” said Professor Nicole Bovin on the oldest human burial found in Africa, here.

“your local shopping centre is actually an elaborate sound collage lampooning the cacophony of commerce”

— Ben Beaumont-Thomas, from here.

from here

https://aeon.co/videos/time-is-fundamental-space-is-emergent-why-physicists-are-rethinking-reality?

Lee Smolin on a universe of events: cf. Hanjo Berressem’s Gilles Deleuze’s Luminous Philosophy (companion volume = Félix Guattari’s Schizoanalytic Ecology) the light on the other side of the dark is the plane of immanence.

On feelings:

“I see it like this,” Benedikt said. Where other people had feelings–in their head, their heart, wherever–he had … He hesitated.

“Well?”

“Things.”

“Things?”

“Things wrapped up. Like little, dark, shapeless presents.”

“And you don’t want to unwrap them?”

“I wouldn’t know where to start.”

[this is a conversation, although a bizarre conversation, as the participants recognise, between a male and a female–both detectives]

— from Oliver Bottini, The Dance of Death, Trans. Jamie Bulloch, (London, UK: Maclehose Press, 2019), 179. The original work has the much more original title, Im Auftrag der Väter.

On the dance of death:

At night the dreams came, for years. … [he] would wake up sobbing and always told them the same dream–hundreds, thousands of men, his father among them, dancing in the rain in a clearing, very slowly as if they were hanging from threads, like puppets being operated in slow motion, and they appeared to laugh and be happy. But then in his dream [he] realised that the men and his father were “dancing” because they were being shot at, bullets peppering their bodies. They were crying, not laughing, and then he saw them die.

— Ibid., 274.

The Man

 (He did more than twenty portraits of the man.)

You could be the Pope and not be able to stop it.

“Anarcho-fantastic post-exoticism.” 

The Nativist Programme

first start with indigeneity. Move on with this as if it is a political programme. (Don’t worry. It will be.)

although truth be told, not a political programme so much as a function or output of ideological programming.

indigeneity itself will perform this function, since it can assume the character of an ideological+political progamme+that of a corrective, positively to discriminate itself from the function reserved to it. The it will come

so from the start we can say, indigeneity as method.

official institutional endorsement is essential. As it has been so will it be–recognising the indigenous at last.

This, then, finality–meaning we can say, finally recognition! Recognition for:

  1. the nativist identity–where it all starts
  2. its mode of address–language
  3. inferring from these, identity+linguistic subject, a set of values to be restored. Finally!
  4. feedback loop between items 1 & 3.

an organisation–adopting indigeneity methodically to euphemise for, to give oversight to oversights, and gross mistakes, translating them into a native idiom that is also nativist: mining a “deep vein of xenophobia and nativism” and “protecting the interests of native-born or established inhabitants against those of immigrants.”

striking wordage on mass email app:

NEW AGE EMAIL MARKETING AT AGE OLD PRICING

Level up your email marketing game using our futurist technology at a one-time low fee.

No recurring fee and no success tax!

SKY’S THE LIMIT

– from here

R.I.P. Anita Lane 18 March 1960 – 28 April 2021

wow, the google search returns: Also known as: Dirty

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day 203 – 231 … Children, Go On Strike!

at 9:16 am on 16 November 2020, M. John Harrison wrote on Twttr:

Complexity, weirdness, characterisations like little stained glass sideshows. Characters do things because they want to. Equally, the text shows you something because it wants to. I see a book controlled by its own mood swings and emotional surfaces. But then I always do.

Today I’ve been writing about hikikomori and the cynicism–without experiencing it–of the answer to this ‘social problem’: restating the social imperative–to participate, engage, make contact, connect–that led to their being shut-in; as if in the great transparent snowglobe or bubble of communications’ technology–aka affective data industries.

The smartest people I knew at school lost their brains when they reached puberty. What is intelligence in children?

What is intelligence to children?

How do children understand intelligence?

Andrés Barba’s novels, The Luminous Republic (2020 in translation from Spanish to English), and Such Small Hands (2008 in translation), give an idea of an intelligence belonging to children. Here children are not captured in or at some kind of developmental state or stage. Neither is there moralising about the capacity to form judgements, the judgement-forming faculty belonging to morality, that children are said not to have acquired; nor in these books do we see an emotional view–in the image of which children’s inner emotional lives create their worlds: no magicking and no sciencing.

The intelligence of children is shown to be that of reason, of a reason unencumbered by … a hesitation here: is it experience of which children’s use of reason is unencumbered? is it judgement? or the judgements of others of which children’s reason is free? … No.

I would say that children’s use of reason is free because it is free of play, unencumbered by play–or free of a freedom with conditions. It is free of the kind of freedom that comes with conditions, the conditions that play has, where you might say to me, You’re not playing any more!

Children’s use of reason does not have parameters within which it has play. The reason of children is free of the parameters of play, unencumbered by the conditions experience of others–the word of others–might impose.

Where did I read that children’s perception of the world was close to that of schizophrenics?

Deleuze writes in The Logic of Sense that we have to take care not to mix metaphors, to go from the series of children, poets, to madmen, madwomen. He cites the example of Artaud against Carroll.

And it would be possible to go in the opposite direction to a similar effect and similarly to err. To go from the pure reason of children, via the application of pure reason in the adult world, that is, science, to the madness of things like human instrumentality or holocaust. The madness of the human object.

According to this second madness that is a surfeit of reason, what is in reason would be insensitive. It would lack empathy. Its very neutrality and purity would have become its liability.

Children lack emotional maturity–a phrase that has evolved with a hole at each end. One end eats what the other shits. What one end eats the other shits.

The automaton-like reason of children. Yes, this only goes so far to explaining it. What it lacks is not emotional experience, the experience of consequence. It lacks system.

And the lack of system of the use of reason in children is the same as that lack of system Kundera finds–and I suspect Deleuze finds–to be characteristic of Nietzsche. Nietzsche lampoons the savants for their system. Kundera places this ‘freeing from system of philosophy’ in apposition with ‘freeing from form (the rigidity of the sonata in particular)’ characteristic of Beethoven, the winning of new freedoms … that can be referred to the problem facing any artist, which has to be answered each time anew–I can’t think of a better word, although I don’t like it, neither anew nor afresh. This problem can be usefully compared with what Julio Ramón Ribeyro (whom I talk about further and cite a reference for below) says about the novel: “For some time now, French novels have been written by professors for professors. [The citation of Ribeyro below might shed light on why it is French novelists.] The French novelist today is a gentleman who has nothing to say about the world, but very much to say about the novel.” And, “Each new writer cross-checks his work with that of the writers who came before, not with the world. In this way we reach rarification in the novel’s material, which could be confused with esotericism.” New writers, Zambra [another novelist, cited below] writes that Ribeyro writes, “try to make of their work not the personal reflection of reality, but rather the personal reflection of other reflections.” [see xv in the work cited below]

Deleuze and Guattari say of Nietzsche’s aphorisms–and speak in a similar way of Kafka’s researches–that they must be plugged into the world. That is, they came from the world. Not its reflection. Not in esoteric abstraction from it. Not trying to curry favour with the taste-judges of today on Instagram. And are not founded, therefore, in emotional maturity, that maturely sets its own expectations of consequence. Ambition.

The reason of children is free of system.

This the works of Andrés Barba show.

Speaking before–although whether this is in the sense of ‘in front of’ in spatial or temporal terms is uncertain*–the fifth anniversary of the Paris climate accord, Greta Thunberg said “there was a state of complete denial when it came to the immediate action needed, with leaders giving only distant promises and empty words.” The same Guardian article [here] reminds us of her solo school strike that “snowballed into a global youth movement” (strange choice, snowballed).

More effective than going on strike from school might be following Greta Thunberg’s example and going on strike from being children.

What if all the children of the world walked out on their parents, their caregivers, accusing them of the grossest incompetence?–bearing them into a world for the calamity facing which they, the adults, take no responsibility–proclaiming their care, their love, for children equates with setting them into a situation which they, the children, are helpless to reverse or stop–by making children, parents, grownups, are, in fact, making them children, that is, helpless!

So they should quit.

So, they leave being children from henceforth to the adults.

We have seen that most of the adults who wield real power are in fact children.

Children, walk out! Go on strike!

Walk out on your own heavy responsibility of being helpless!

Emotionally immature? Not at all!

You have reason! And reason gives you the reason to act!

In other words, stop performing as children. You don’t even get paid!

Take control!

Sieze it!

… Or,

Steal it!

*[it’s not in fact uncertain. The UN-led summit on climate change has been … postponed. A one-day online summit replaces it. One day! Ridiculous when students are paying to attend classes day after day online.]

{also, see here for a nice summary timeline naming climate change milestones … or nails in the coffin … or just stages in the snowball picking up speed …}


“A man should neither conceal nor misrepresent the facts concerning the way in which he conceived his thoughts. The deepest and most inexhaustible books will certainly always have something of the aphoristic and impetuous character of Pascal’s Pensées.” — Nietzsche, The Will to Power: An Attempted Transvaluation of All Values, Trans. Anthony M. Ludovici, available online here, section 424 p. 342

Considering its source, in the volume The Will to Power, selected from the notebooks by his sister, Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche, wife of Bernard Förster, whose antisemitism she endorsed, the original German source of the foregoing in the Nachlaß eludes me.

Nietzsche’s strongest statement of affinity with Pascal is cited with approval by Kundera in Testaments Betrayed, the first section of Part Six, “Works and Spiders” which I quote in full:

“I think.” Nietzsche cast doubt on this assertion dictated by a grammatical convention that every verb must have a subject. Actually, said he, “a thought comes when ‘it’ wants to, and not when ‘I’ want it to; so that it is falsifying the fact to say that the subject ‘I’ is necessary to the verb ‘think.'” A thought, comes to the philosopher “from outside, from above or below, like events or thunderbolts heading for him.” It comes in a rush. For Nietzsche loves “a bold and exuberant intellectuality that runs presto,” and he makes fun of the savants for whom thought seems “a slow, halting activity, something like drudgery, often enough worth the sweat of the hero-savants, but nothing like that light, divine thing that is such close kin to dance and to high-spirited gaiety.”

“Elsewhere Nietzsche writes that the; philosopher “must not, through some false arrangement of deduction and dialectic, falsify the things and the ideas he arrived at by another route…. We should neither conceal nor corrupt the actual way our thoughts come to us. The most profound and inexhaustible books will surely always have something of the aphoristic, abrupt quality of Pascal’s Pensées.”

“We should not “corrupt the actual way our thoughts come to us”: I find this injunction remarkable; and I notice that, beginning with The Dawn, all the chapters in all his books are written in a single paragraph: this is so that a thought should be uttered in one single breath; so that it should be caught the way it appeared as it sped toward the philosopher, swift and dancing.”

Nietzsche to his sister on the subject of her–it can be assumed?–future husband:

“It is a matter of honor to me to be absolutely clean and unequivocal regarding anti-Semitism, namely opposed, as I am in my writings… I have been persecuted [pursued; verfolgt?] in recent times with letters and Anti-Semitic Correspondence sheets; my disgust with this party … is as outspoken as possible, but the relation to Förster, as well as the after-effect of my former anti-Semitic publisher Schmeitzner, always bring the adherents of this disagreeable party back to the idea that I must after all belong to them…” – from here

apologia pro vita sua

“It’s not uncommon for music superstars, after decades atop their scenes, to try to demonstrate fluency in the music of prior generations to bolster their claims to contemporary authority.” — Jon Caramanica on Bad Bunny, NY Times, 2.12.2020

sadopopulism:

“Permitting either the State or the individual to use murder as part of a political or ethical process forecloses any hope of partaking in a legitimate future. It is like the vengeful Marquis de Sade who, locked in his prison cell, dreamed of a twisted oligarchy that sustains itself through the murderous consumption of everything other than itself. However, the killers are unable to escape the very logic of their system, and they inevitably fall victim to the violent energies they have been fueling.”

— Joseph McClellan, Michel Onfray’s translator, on Camus (in The Translator’s Introduction, A Hedonist Manifesto: The Power to Exist, Trans. Joseph McClellan, (New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 2015), xi-xxxviii, xvi)

These themes meet in the shared theme of brutality, a subject on which the following sheds some light:

William-Davies-The-New-Neoliberalism-NLR-101-September-October-2016

“What mysterious alchemy vaults people who were largely ignored, or at least by their own lights insufficiently valued, in their own time to this privileged niche in the imagination of their posterity is never fully explainable and is not to be confused with reputation in the conventional sense. … Musing on one of these cult people, their admirers often exclaim, “’ink what she would have accomplished had she lived.” — from here

ink what?

from the same: “In the early 1950s in Cambridge, Massachusetts, [Susan] Taubes and her then husband, the rabbi and philosopher of ideas Jacob Taubes, were the closest friends of my parents, Susan Sontag and Philip Rieff. … It was left to my mother to identify [Susan Taubes’s] body. Much later, she told me: ‘I will never forgive her . . . and never recover from what she did.'”

..

.

In literary land this week: the Bad Sex in Fiction Award has been cancelled, Roald Dahl’s family has apologized for his anti-Semitism, and John Freeman has been named Knopf’s new Executive Editor. — from lithub book marks bulletin 12/11

“Ribeyro’s face is that of a law student who had contempt for the legal profession, or a Lima native who wanted to live in Madrid, who in Madrid dreamed of Paris, in Paris longed for Madrid, and so on, chasing grants and lovers, and especially in search of time to waste writing, in the solitude of Munich, or Berlin, or Paris, again, for a long stay.”

— Alejandro Zambra, in his introduction (“Ribeyro in His Web”), to Julio Ramón Ribeyro’s The Word of the Speechless [which might have been better mute, closer to the Spanish: La palabra del mudo], Trans. & Ed. Katherine Silver, (New York, NY: NYRB, 2019), vii-xvi, vii.

Ribeyro called the diary he wrote, which spans four decades (“Even in the most confessional pages of his diary, an impersonal mood persists,” writes Zambra, “that keeps him safe from exhibitionism or anecdotalism.”

(“Ribeyro writes to live,” he continues, “not to demonstrate that he has lived.”

(“A fragment from 1977 is, in this sense, revealing: ‘A true work must start from the oblivion or destruction (transformation) of the writer’s very self. The great writer is not one who truthfully, in detail and intensely, describes his existence, but one who becomes the filter, the weave, through which reality passes and is transfigured.'” [Ibid. viii]) La tentación del fracaso.

The Temptation of Failure.

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day 150 – 166: the president is … & other fun facts, like…

 “The American people are all Blanket now.”

— Marina Hyde, the genuine article here.

— found here and shown as it appeared, unedited or altered in any way.

Reality can only be apprehended through a comical, dazzling network of texts–writes Adam Thirlwell introducing his interview with Enrique Vila-Matas by stating what he calls the ‘proposition,’ the ‘basic proposition,’ of the author’s A Brief History of Portable Literature (1985), a proposition that transformed Vila-Matas, in his sixth book, into a true original as well as representing “a new moment in European fiction,” since from now on reality can only be apprehended through a comical, dazzling network of texts.

There is nothing wrong with this as a proposition for fiction, but doesn’t it declare war on reality? [see here–for a war more total and more radical than anything yet imagined]

As a basic proposition for fiction it even sets the standard, a standard that reality has trouble living up to–that it be dazzling.

Comical is a bit easier to live up to for reality. A better word for it in fiction, in the novel, might however be humour in the sense Kundera gives it in Testaments Betrayed.

This work by Kundera is called a novel but titled Testaments Betrayed: an essay in nine parts. It accuses European culture of betraying its own creation, the novel, in failing both to read Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses and in failing to defend it.

Falling in other words into the moralising trap which is the opposite of humour.

So it’s entirely appropriate that Vila-Matas represents, in the humour of his novel, a transformation in European fiction, and a new moment, making him a true original.

When thinking of the comical what comes to mind, after world politics and after its representation in local NZ media by comedians–presenting, it should be added, news and current affairs in a comical way (to increase ratings)–so bringing about the comical representation of reality, but not the dazzling representation, of reality; after these what comes to mind are the paintings of Yue Minjun.

— Yue Minjun, The Execution, 1995

It is easy to imagine why Yue Minjun chooses not to smile in photographs. He says:

I was born at the tail-end of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, so there were a lot of government-commissioned propaganda paintings around that illustrated the apparent joy of being working class. In most of the these paintings, the subjects were laughing, but it was never clear why. People would be standing around Chairman Mao or around the produce resulting from a clearly bumper harvest, laughing… [and laughing

[laughing their heads off…]

Featuring: the normalisation of absurdity in society … acknowledgement of absurdity brings ontological insecurity of the What the hell’s going on? kind… 32’57” we see the normalisation in digital delivery of the absurdity of glitch: this is called the normalisation of a Mixed Delivery model in higher education. …

You will also notice something strange happening in the above webinar which is an absurdity in itself–the neutering of hypernormalisation as the critical concept it was never intended to be, since it is a technique, a politico-aesthetic technique. This is its HYPER criticality.

And is better dealt with by Adam Curtis:

DADA names the tendency of absurdity to eat itself, starting from the toes, chewing its way up the legs, pausing for a big surrealist gulp at the pelvis, seat of the famous sexual organs, and savouring the crunch and fizz thereof, before moving on to a ping, pinging of flying bits of ribcage, ricocheting off the roof of the mouth, until with a pop, the skull, place of the last stand of the infamous ego, delivers its precious cargo … to be shat out the other end.

What is lost by the good doctors of Lincoln is the aesthetic one-way transaction… in favour of a recuperation which is the DISCRIMINATOR between HUMOUR and COMEDY or POLITICAL as opposed to CRITICAL ABSURDITY

declaring the war of the comical on reality: is this the totaler Krieg that is also Kürzester Krieg? or would be in the sense that it is already won.

his eyes were so blue, it was like looking straight through to a blue sky through a skull.

— Jane Birkin on Graham Greene [from here]

The characters in This Storm [2019] are lurid, brash, vulgar. There is now an occupant of the White House who could fit that description. What’s your opinion of him?


I don’t talk about politics in any circumstances. The current day in America has nothing to do with my books.

— James Ellroy in interview with Andrew Anthony [here]

… one of the things that the pandemic has done is it has shown to millions of workers who have been treated as most disposable, whose work had been most degraded, who were told that they were unskilled, that they were so easily replaceable, that they are, in fact, the most essential workers in our economy. They were labelled essential workers.

And if you look at who the essential workers are, it’s the working class, it’s the people who keep the lights on it. It’s the people who deliver the mail. It’s the people who take care of the elderly. We know who we’re talking about. We’re talking about the people who make the world run.

— Naomi Klein, Jacobin Magazine, here.

While philosophy seems to be reserved for a minority, anyone can have a glimpse of it by falling into sickness or depression. When our vital energies are weakened, Smith claims, our sympathy also diminishes, allowing ‘splenetic philosophy’ to reveal that most of the projects central to our lives have no other basis than the imaginary pleasures of sympathy. Seen in an ‘abstract and philosophical light’, gossip about the rich and powerful or striving for economic advancement no longer seem meaningful. Most people, however, forget this lesson as soon as they recover, and resume chasing illusory pleasures.

Choosing to see the world as we do when we’re ill might seem absurd. Smith’s account of sympathy and philosophy in Moral Sentiments, however, implies that we often mistake ourselves for others, the dead for the living, and illness for health. Indeed, it might be that our everyday experience of the world is sick, and the philosophical life is the cure.

— Blake Smith, Psyche online magazine, here.

A more total and more radical war than any you can imagine.

… still, something about hypernormalisation rankles with me. Is it too ideological?

Hypernormalisation as a component in the strategy of a war more total and more radical than any you have so far pictured to yourself: Note–

NOT Total War, MORE total and radical war, is it the war taken into the living and bed rooms of civilians? We have reached a more total and radical phase of this kind of war, and we have surpassed it.

The earlier phase was already that in which ideology was surpassed. Goebbels is explicit in 1943: this is not von Clausewitz’s Total War–the one of ideology.

Ideological war is only a war of ideas. Ideas have not survived the End of History, 1989, the death of Communism, the self-surpassing moment in which Capitalist Democracy loses its ideological component, and wars lose theirs.

All of those post-1945 wars (it’s W-pedia, but here‘s an interesting list of wars 1945-1989) are being fought without ideological pretext, because such a support is no longer necessary, the Total War has already been won, by Western Liberal interests: … but where was it really fought, if not in the two great wars of the early 20th century, the first of which was the war to end empires, the second of which was the war to end nations, nation-states?

Was it in the earlier nation and empire building wars of colonial expansion that the Total War of Ideas was won? … these wars were not ended by world wars I & II. Post-1945 they just lost their ideological pretext, which was the one of nation and empire building.

Ideas: Wars. What is the next step? Imagination? The war of imagination in which Surrealism aligned with Communism?

Is this the reason for the shrinking horizon of imagination? … As the generation of ’68 dies out… Go ask TINA.

I am shouting: transparency: THEY ARE NOT TRANSPARENT TO THEMSELVES!

this is a conversation which is going on outside the lines I am writing here but it has some sense of general cogency, an applicability to the problem of appropriative strategy: capitalist will is transcendent for incorporation of all strategies that would be in opposition.

it has some applicability to governments–at local as well as state as well as federal level–that bury in justification the hegemonic ideologies they embody.

… yes, I find I myself resorting to the ideological. For the exemplary case of a local council expressing its ideology in the way it spends the rates of its citizens, see Auckland in relation to Wellington at this link, called, wonderfully, experimental: here.

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days 144 – 149

Death is not supposed to be part of the American dream, begins Richard Wolffe’s article for the Guardian. [here] Above this is a photo of a banner reading The Lasting Monument to Trump’s Presidency is Being Built One Death At A Time, above a Goyaesque pile of severed heads.

I watched the first NZ Leaders’ Debate of 2020 last night. It’s posted below, with, the YouTube comments say, the commercial breaks intact, but I don’t recommend watching it. It is not something one chooses or wishes others to watch. It is a troubling watch and this is the best that can be said about it.

It is troubling in the sense that political content ought to be troubling. I am writing about it now because I remain troubled by it and Wolffe’s article reminded me why, with its blandly ironic opening line.

Watching it last night–until I reached the point I could see it would go no further and I could watch no further–I saw clearly the attraction of Trump, Trump, the Monument to whose Presidency is Being Built One Death At A Time. I saw it clearly in the coldest harshest light–in the light of the NZ Leaders’ Debate, in the light of the poverty of vision in the Vision Statements of the Leaders (only two: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Leader of the Opposition Judith Collins) and in the light of it looking like it was edited by a child.

The problem for a politician in the Post-COVID state is we know she knows where the lever is that stops the economy. Yet the vision of both Ardern and Collins went straight to the economy–and to growth. No mention was made of it being slowed or stopped.

Back to America: The New Yorker, Sept. 7 2020, leads with a Comment column by Amy Davidson Sorkin, who writes that the dominant theme of the Republican National Convention in the week previous was control. America is in danger of ceasing to be America. Evidence to support this claim is suppressed. Sorkin cites Kimberly Guilfoyle saying at the Conference, “They are coming for me, because I am fighting for you!” and “cosmopolitan élites … want to control what you see and think and believe so that they can control how you live.” The Wolffe article above puts this down to a strain of individualism endemic to America.

Told the ‘crux’ of QAnon’s “family of conspiracy theories” is that he is “secretly saving the world from [the] satanic cult of pedophiles and cannibals” and of course cosmopolitan élites, according to Sorkin, Trump asks, “Is that supposed to be a bad thing or a good thing?”

Sorkin writes, “A St. Louis couple who pointed firearms at Black Lives Matter marchers were rewarded with a speaking spot at the Convention.” She ends: “fear and suspicion cannot be the means by which this country is controlled”, then adds, “That isn’t how America remains America.”

This is not disturbing. It is not politics. This is the secret meaning–which you have to dig deep into the web to find–of Trump not being a statesman: an animal, perhaps, but not a political animal. He is not a politician. He is not available to the bodysnatchers.

Deleuze writes about something called ‘control society.’ [here] He didn’t have this in mind. He had in mind the autoveillant society of self-scoring on performance and psychic investment in types of scoring, ranking and measuring, in individualist competition–as a form of control belonging to the sort of capitalism we have come to think of as neo- or neuro-liberalism.

Here is a quote from “Postscript on the Societies of Control:”

…the factory was already familiar with the system of bonuses, but the corporation works more deeply to impose a modulation of each salary, in states of perpetual metastability that operate through challenges, contests, and highly comic group sessions. If the most idiotic television game shows are so successful, it’s because they express the corporate situation with great precision. [which we can extend to the US Presidency]

On a banner–another banner–in the background of a photo of Joseph Goebbels, 18 February 1943: something I have not seen before in association with Total War–Totaler Krieg – Kürzester Krieg.

Shortest War.

Totaler Krieg. In his speech, pictured below, courtesy of the commons, Goebbels asked those at the convention–another convention–whether a war was wanted more total and more radical than anything even yet imagined.

totaler und radikaler, als wir ihn uns heute überhaupt erst vorstellen können?

You notice that the spelling of totaler remains the same whether it means more total or just total–the German for a total war is ein totaler Krieg.

What the banner then reads is in English not Total War–Shortest War but The More Total War [is the] Shortest War.

Goebbels had earlier referred to the depraved and perverted threat of Bolsheviks and Jews facing Germany–not unlike the threat of the pedophiles and cannibals (and cosmopolitan élites) facing America.

By Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-J05235 / Schwahn / CC-BY-SA 3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0 de, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5434259

Goebbels–at least as far as the banner speaks for him–therefore goes further than von Clausewitz in announcing not a total war–opposable to a limited war–but a more total war.

If you look at the online entry, you will see that the idea of a total war going beyond the political and diplomatic objectives to be achieved by a limited war–going all the way to ideological conflict and achieving an ideological victory, or victory of the idea–is linked by Brittanica.com to Goebbels’s announcement in his speech of February 18 1943. Except that he didn’t announce or ask the conference whether a total war was wanted and neither did the banner behind him advert to a total war being the shortest.

The question then is what is a more total war than one achieving the victory of an idea?

The other question is, with whom is it to be achieved–so that

ham’ se alle Ja geschrien–

they all cried YES.

…? perhaps it is this list from US Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera:

those who fight for you

write for you live for you act for you study for you dance for you

parade for you paint and construct for you carry for you build you

inform you feed you nanny you clean you vacuum for you swipe

the grease off your clothes chef for you serve you teach you carry

carry you rock you to sleep and console you

— from “You Just Don’t Talk About It,” Juan Felipe Herrera, in Every Day We Get More Illegal, 2020.

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days 31-39

My copy of Alejandro Zambra’s Not to Read in its white card cover blue inside embossed with the logo of Fitzcarraldo Press, having taken as long as it does to push a ferryboat over a mountain, has arrived. The day of our return from Rotorua.

Its translator says about writing: “We write to multiply ourselves.”

Its writer, on the other hand, Alejandro Zambra, in another, a beautiful book written about being a secondary character, against the notion the author is (ever? always?) a primary character, Ways of Going Home, says about writing:

“To read is to cover one’s face …

“To read is to cover one’s face. And to write is to show it.”

Faces might be understood in the fullest sense Levinas then his translator, Lingis, gives: an absolute imperative to which we respond because we must, for which we are responsible.

Faces call on us to respond. With all sorts of ruses, cupidity, nudity–eyes rolling in viscosity, entirely as exposed as uncovered genitalia; entirely as penetrating as the genital (and other, neuroliberal, for example) penetralia.

J. went running in Rotorua. A good place I have discovered is a place where water comes out of the ground hot.

In this period following the COVID-19 call not to let aerosol spit loose, not to be promiscuous in our gazes or exchanges, face to face, she found the ones she encountered while running on the path through the redwoods would set their faces and not meet her eye. She remembered, as I do, as we do, the New Zealand of threat: and she speculated that we still do not meet each others’ eyes because we might want to beat each other up.

Well, this is true. You don’t meet my eye on the street if you think you are being confronted with the threat of violence.

Whatchoo lookin at?

or, then you answer, and:

Come ere n say that!

In this NZ, reading a book is not hiding or saving face, it is exposing it to:

fuckin poof!

Reading? clearly an elitist white colonial pastime.

(It’s always intriguing to know what translates poof to the female equivalent. Lezzie it ain’t. Doesn’t contain the requisite threat of violence.

(fuckin bitch! perhaps. But this is more likely to be preceded by a short interchange in which presumptions to intellectualism are invoked and questioned.

(fucking bitch! Think you’re smart! & so on.)

J. had been worrying, running on, worried, about the averted gazes and looks of the women she passed. Turned a corner, then, at the beginning of a track leading uphill she had intended to take at a walk, she saw a group of patch-wearing men. And she decided to take the uphill track at a run.

But what were they doing there amongst these giant trees? They were of course walking. Not on bikes. They were walking in the trees.

And how can anyone amongst the redwoods not be affected by them?

Lingis writes of the sequoia in the way that they face us with an imperative too. We take it on ourselves to breath in to our cores and to pull ourselves up from the depths of ourselves upright. We learn not rigidity but the reaching up of our uprightness from them. We stand straighter and breathe deeper from them. And we discern in them the deepness of life into which they plunge and from which they soar upwards. Their solidity. Not their stolidity. Their airiness, their breath and rootedness. Not their territorial uprootedness. Not the threat they experience of that territorial rootedness being challenged.

So there are challenges to the colonial experience of Maori here. The redwood is an import. The plantation of redwoods here at the edge of Kaingaroa forestry is a colonial imposition on the landscape.

Driving through this landscape, from Auckland to Matamata to Tirau to Rotorua the “home of Maoridom” as a sign by the Blue and Green Lakes put it, how can anyone escape from the sense of a colonial imposition that has razed the forests, impregnated the land with foreign grasses, and, in autumn, with trees which colourfully lose their leaves? Land for which the use is farming and the economic advancement of populations in a global marketplace for primary produce?

Striking vacant land, you ask, seeing no meat or milk producing occupancy of animals, you ask, What’s the use?

Then these gangmembers in the redwoods, as J. said, aren’t they enjoying the trees? Isn’t this good for them and for us?

I didn’t need to think too long about this theme we, because we grew up in the ’70s and ’80s, have often revisited–of the threat of violence every look may contain–to say:

But it is their exposure that is in these eyes. They feel exposed.

And probably more now since COVID-19. They are exposed to a threat of invisible violence. They are also socially exposed: someone may be judging them as to how well they follow the rules, social-distancing, self-isolating, uniting against the virus.

We feel and have felt so vulnerable in this country, that we do or do not choose to expose ourselves.

That we hide as if from the threat of violence. But strangely the cultural order tends to be maintained that we do not expose ourselves in writing or film-making or dancing or theatre-making or composing music or poetry and do not write books to expose ourselves and do not appreciate those who do. As if we ourselves were being exposed.

Then, by the same wariness of local censure and fear of the threat of violence, we still now look to cultural production–to even the production which is that of our own culture–to put us on the world stage, to take us to a global audience, which exposure we will not experience as our own, personal exposure but claim as national pride.

So we are proud of ‘Jacinda’ and of our efforts in the world and we look to the ways in which we may capitalise on our success in fighting COVID-19–and we find culturally we are succeeding, inviting Avatar here, getting Benee airplay, without the least exposure of the facts.

And isn’t it good to be exposed in this way?

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how to go viral: COVID 19

But I bet now you don’t want to. Go viral that is.

Of the many ironies amplifying the sense of unreality around global events, the friction of that rub caused by a mismatch in speeds between the old animal and the new social frames of reference of near-as-speed-of-light-as-possible instantaneity in communications looks to me to be the most resonant echo chamber for the anthroposphere.

First–in an era in which there are no firsts because everything happens at once–were the reports that the actual virus was being outpaced in the distorting mirror of the virtual virus by the spread of misinformation about it.

And then the deluge: because the distortion and speed of intelligence transfer, which we might call information about Covid 19, never let up, in either of its forms; because the news refused to be slow cooked. The viral online virus refused to be slowed. And the appetite refused to abate for news and information about it. And without let up, the flood has brought not only what is unappetising and unpalatable but also what is inedibly raw–the unedifying has been pursued by the overwhelming at such close quarters that one has been confused for the other.

The least edifying of manoeuvres–and I use the word because it has been consciously and inconscionably deployed–is the nationalist or nation-building one. We are at war with this pandemic. And united against it–much as we are said to battle cancer–we will prove our mettle. But it is global. But it is shameful still to deploy, even as metaphor, the talk of nation-building that was behind colonial expansion, that was behind global wars and behind the holocaust. Well, wasn’t that the cause for which the ‘virus’ of selfish market-driven Jewdom was sacrificed? the purity of the homeland? the fatherland?

It is bad and sad for the individual and for people, such as they are, in general, this virus–in as we might say common.

But smell the friction between the slow drowning death, the inadequacy of health systems, downgraded worldwide, and the over-adequacy of the communication systems through which each individually claims his stake in it, her agenda. The whole feelingness of symbolic exchange, the most human thing. The over-adequacy of symbolic communicability for which biological safeguards have been compromised.

The biological response, the response to the biological threat, seems positively improvised compared to the informational one.

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from David Berman to Wallfacers

In a very abstract frame today, I tried continuing with my writing and realised I would rather be talking to you. Whoever you are … wherever you are …

I have a lot of tabs (1, 2, 3 …) open I’ve been meaning to close once I wrote something about David Berman, David Cloud Berman I read in one of them. It was to be an RIP piece. Beside me I have the notes from when I heard he had suicided. They go like this:

this is coming

I’ll explain how

we’re all going to get through it

and “rebuild” society

Video after the jump

The last is from one of the links.

Then there is the line with the typo: The meaning of the world lies outside thw world. It’s from a Silver Jews album, the song ‘People.’

“Video after the jump” links to Berman’s blog, mentholmountains: arc of a boulder, which doesn’t link anywhere, but has links to writers, Thomas Bernhard, for example, and Robert Walser, and pictures and videos. It is not too dissimilar from squarewhiteworld.

An arrow directs on the kokuyo paper from the line “Video after the jump” to a reference to Cixin Liu’s Three-Body Problem. It reads:

Become a Wallfacer.

Humanity faces extermination, the extermination of a species of bug, coming from the stars, from the planet Trisolaris. It will take four light years to arrive. Meanwhile every human effort is directed towards defending itself, not the earth, but doing whatever it takes to defend itself.

400 years would seem to be sufficient time to prepare, however, the Trisolarans have sent an expeditionary force ahead to spy on human efforts and to limit them to what can be achieved from a current understanding of the fundamental laws of physics. The technology of Trisolaris far exceeds this limit, since the expeditionary force itself comprises AI supercomputers shrunk down to the size of subatomic particles, protons, quantumcomputers called Sophons. (The word for proton 质子 (zhì zǐ) is the same as the word for Sophon .) The lockdown on scientific research imposed by the Sophons is something that I was writing about in view of the comparable lockdown or limitation on paradigm shift, on fundamental advance, in the sciences–and more generally, in political economy–that is self-imposed in neoliberal institutional systems of governance where the pursuit of science is becoming the performance of science through representative means. (This source, considering the science of Three-Body misses the potential for critical diagnosis Liu’s fiction contains: note it contains info you might want to avoid if you intend to read the novels: it has the strangely phenomenological name, Exposing the structure of how we got our answers: Poetry in Physics.) (The diagnostic criticism implicit in Liu of the Sophonic lockdown as science fiction is explained by Philip Mirowski as the neoliberal fact of Open Science, ironically, at 56’57” in Hell is Truth Seen Too Late.) (I recommend reading Three-Body for its clinical diagnostic potential–and equally I recommend watching Mirowski, even if just for the part about Open Science.)

The Wallfacer project is undertaken by a humanity under threat of annihilation because of the lockdown on science imposed by the Sophons–which is described as being their ability to falsify experimental results from research in fundamental physics (note the Popperian line on falsification). The Trisolarans have a vulnerability: they communicate with each other through thought-reading, thought-hearing, thought-speaking. But they can’t read the thoughts of humans. Neither Sophons nor Trisolarans can see what is going on inside human minds. The notion of lying, of misrepresenting one’s true thoughts, of misrepresentation through speech and language is alien to these aliens–as is the notion therefore of representation. The Wallfacer project is to take advantage of this vulnerability. Wallfacers are selected to help save humanity through indirection and misdirection–through not representing their intentions. Besides the mental freedom to dream up plans and projects the use of which they need neither justify nor defend–in fact the Wallfacer project depends on their doing neither–they have all the world’s resources at their disposal to carry out their plans and projects.

They would be artists, poets, revolutionaries, for not having to answer to anyone for their freedoms, but for the fact that they are so and unquestioningly so resourced. Perhaps this is the link I wanted to make to David Berman: Become a Wallfacer.

The diagnostic import of the Wallfacer project can be seen when placed in relation to the lockdown on science. If, as I tend to think, neoliberal systems of institutional governance entail of the sciences a comparable lockdown–and we can see evidence of this in the shutting down of labs in the ‘hard’ sciences (those without direct application in technology and commercialisable IP) and see it also in the decrease in institutional support for intellectual labour, whether in fundamental theory in the sciences or in philosophy–then the Wallfacer project serves as critique of the view that it is to science, to scientists and to scientific research we must turn to find solutions to the problems facing life, to overcome the threat from earth.

Earth has this vulnerability: it doesn’t know we make it in our own image.

To overcome the threat from the earth, first undo the image we have made of it. The meaning of the world lies outside the world

[R.I.P. David C. Berman, 4 January 1967 – 7 August 2019]

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the unassuming brilliance of novelist Enrique Vila-Matas. But this is not it, neither, that is, evidence, nor representation. On the contrary. It is exactly the non-assumption, or, the other’s assumption.

…as Nathalie Sarraute once said–writing really is an attempt to find out what we would write if we wrote.

— Enrique Vila-Matas, Mac’s Problem, Trans. Margaret Jull Costa & Sophie Hughes, (New York, NY: New Directions, 2019), 4.

It was a time when children seemed very old, and the old seemed virtually dead. My clearest memory of that preschool year…

…this Hasidic saying: “The man who thinks he can live without others is mistaken; the one who thinks others can’t live without him is even more deluded.”

— Ibid., 14.

…Macedonio, the Duchamp of literature.

For the essayist Dora Rester, writing a novel means writing the fragments of an attempt at a novel, not the whole obelisk: “The art lies in the attempt, and understanding what’s outside us by using only what we have inside us is one of the hardest emotional and intellectual tasks anyone can undertake.”

— Ibid., 40.

[OSCOPE 22]

It appears we’re only just discovering that the gentle, compassionate approach to leadership makes better business sense than that of “command and control.” Studies in brain function (carried out by such methods as functional MRI) have detected that being treated disrespectfully raises one’s blood pressure and generates stress. “It’s the sure path to depression, the second-fastest-growing condition in developing countries, according to the World Health Organization. Bosses are by definition disrespectful, even if their lack of respect doesn’t always manifest itself in barked-out orders. Leaders, on the other hand, do their best to draw out people’s talent, and for that there needs to be respect, trust and motivation,” explained the Co-Director of the Executive Education program at Deusto Business School. But I find this hard to believe. The means and methods may have changed, but actually things are even more terrifying than before, perhaps precisely because you trust those around you more and believe that things really are better, and you don’t expect to discover, all of a sudden, out of nowhere, just when you least expect it, the real truth: they don’t love you because they’ve never loved you and they’re firing you because you’re past it and because you’re always causing scenes and because you drink too much and because one day you quoted a few lines from Wallace Stevens when tension was at its highest in that emergency meeting.

— Ibid., 110-111.

But then, this is brilliant: “The means and methods may have changed, but actually things are even more terrifying than before, perhaps precisely because you trust those around you more and believe that things really are better, and you don’t expect to discover, all of a sudden, out of nowhere, just when you least expect it, the real truth: they don’t love you because they’ve never loved you and they’re [not hiring you] you because you’re past it,” &so on. (Ibid., p. 111.)

And, as if of course, so is this:

Life, seen through the lens of the most cumbersome administrative procedures, will be–as, indeed, it already is–brutally depressing, a hostile labyrinth of interminable galleries and pavilions, red-taped up to the eyeballs; endless rows of offices and millions of corridors linking together seemingly countless galleries, each with its own sinister distinguishing feature, except perhaps the remote “Chamber of Writing for the Unemployed,” where a group of clerks, in their most elegant hand, will copy out addresses and redirect undelivered mail. Duplicating texts, transcribing texts … these men and women will appear to belong to another time and will prevent that knot of galleries and pavilions from being even more depressing.

But few people, despite their constant toing and froing along those cold corridors, will know how to find that final bastion of life as it once was, that bastion that gathers together all the lost and forgotten things, all those things that are still apt–precariously so, but nonetheless apt–to remind us that there was once a time, a bygone age, in which writing moved with parameters quite different from those in which it moves today.

As I tell myself all this, I think I glimpse one of the clerks–tucked away in the most hidden corner of the remotest gallery and having finished his work–write down some words on one of the pages of a stack of one hundred and three loose sheets, which, it seems, no one has been able to bind together due to a lack of resources:

“No, I can’t. I’m done with that.”

— Ibid., 183-184. [These are Hemingway’s words, it should be noted.

[And doesn’t this scene recall the history of science, even to resembling the history of scientific advancement and progress, in the chapter of a book I was reading today–the last book, in fact, written by Oliver Sacks, collated, on his instruction, from a stack of posthumous papers? This is the chapter, of The River of Consciousness, on the scotoma, to which histories relegate those findings, discoveries, phenomenological descriptions they subsequently deem to be premature, or prescient, but that are at the time they appear, and for years, often decades after, inconsequential exceptions and untimely anomalies. Or they are uncomfortable truths, annoying particles, gritting up the smooth running of given narratives, excluded and occluded. The scotoma in Oliver Sacks’s reading is the dark recess in which is written some words on a stack of one hundred and three loose sheets … no one has been able to bind together due to a lack of resources. (Ibid., 184.)]

…for the first time, I wasn’t writing in order to rewrite, but I was going a stage further. Well, I thought, still astonished at my own prowess, you have to start somewhere. But the real surprise came when I realized that actually writing something meant finding out what it felt like to write a fictional fragment rather than a diary fragment. And it almost makes me laugh to say this, but I am, of course, going to say it anyway: it feels exactly the same in both cases. Really? Yes, the same. This only confirms that, as Nathalie Sarraute said, writing is trying to find out what we would write if we wrote. Because writing, real writing, is something we will never do.

— Ibid., 185 [Note here the echo of Blanchot, under, what I am inclined to call, the sign of the impossible, issuing out from the dark recess, the scotoma of the false histories of all progress and advancement, scientific and otherwise.

[And this, on the side of a tissue box: the brain remains a symbol so long as so-called higher level function remains a matter of representation.]

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NEOLIBERALISM – a dialogue UK & ST, Jan – Feb 2019


1.

UK: So what is neoliberalism, if not a radical incarnation of cultural hegemony—in that it intrinsically misrepresents (via a delusively benignant reframing) all modes of civilizing engagement and every mode of civilizing effect? The strange descendant of Aynian objectivism and Rothbardian anarcho-capitalism, neoliberalism is a creature that has shifted its unseemly shape beyond radical economic ultra-orthodoxy, seeping into, until permeating, the entire cultural landscape and the whole of society. In essence, this radical incarnation seeks a hegemony founded on deculturization, in that it implicitly negates all true forms of culture that are not commensurate with its paradigms of individualist supremacy and such supremacy’s necessarily incidental cultural adornments.

ST: that neoliberalism reframes “all modes of civilizing engagement and every mode of civilizing effect”;

that its “its paradigms [are] of individualist supremacy”.

Do neoliberals delude themselves that their efforts are towards civil society? Or more bluntly that they are benign?

The question concerns how neoliberals view themselves and what is the point of view of neoliberalism. We can agree that this point of view reframes civilization, as process and form of life. But it does not do so by misrepresenting civilization. Neoliberalism, first of all, is not a doctrine, and less an ideology; even less a political one, and not at all a framing or reframing of whatever is supposed to pre-exist it. It is a strategy of representation, not misrepresentation; and it is not self-deluding, or delusive. It acts strategically, speaks strategy, deals in the real world strategically, through eschewing the kind of Grand Narratives on which our modernism relied, including that one about the supremacy of the individual. In this neoliberalism has going for it a kind of slippery postmodernism, and a decidedly anti-representationalist slant. However, it is strategically deployed.

2.

UK: The self-imagery of neoliberalism is an endemic artfulness that is belied by its extreme simplisticness and its intrinsic incapacity relative to all paradox. This includes its incapacity relative to the paradox of so-called civilization or the civilizing impulse that is perpetually indicated or perceived as “progress.” To the extent that the manifestation of whatever has been dubbed civilization has been accounted “successful”, it has always been predicated upon hegemony, rationalism and doubt (or the ambiguous certainties heralded as “progress” itself).

Paradoxically—without effacing hegemony, rationalism and doubt—much of civilization-making activity has really been rooted in verifiable humanizing processes and outcomes, in respect of the creation and promotion of civic spaces and institutions, education, the arts and so forth;

ST: that civilization is based on “hegemony, rationalism and doubt” as well as “humanizing processes” we might call civic, including civic (civilizing) spaces and institutions.

This triad of hegemony, rationalism and doubt appeals to the Cartesian cogito. I find myself asking as readily what civilization is? as what is neoliberalism? Isthis the right duality? Has not civilization, in the face of human guilt and shame in the Shoah, got a bad name? (Let alone representation (after Adorno).) Let us remember that the founding event of neoliberalism is in 1947, Hayek’s convening of the Mont Pelerin Society, still very active—still very active in New Zealand, both in political and business circles. That is directly after the war, a new dawn dawned. Red-faced, not at all. Red-handed and red-fingered, perhaps.

3.

UK: As with traditional (but ambiguous) civilization-makers, neoliberals, too, harbor a quasi-religious (if passionately de-collectivizing) conviction around a notion of “progress.” But in contrast to the paradox of so-called civilization’s efforts at humanization combined with hegemony, neoliberalism, is—by the nature of its very contempt for all human nuance in which felicity is perforce inextricable from vulnerability—an active, summary negation of all verifiable humanizing processes, even those processes which have been obligated to coexist with forms of hegemony.

What is unique about neoliberalism—and where neoliberalism goes arguably further than the most wretched of collectivized totalitarian ideologies—is that (unlike fascism and bolshevism) it proactively anathematizes community, and therefore society, and therefore humanity itself. Neoliberalism militantly glorifies the market; above all, it glorifies virile economic autonomy and self-exalting individualism as the ostensible uttermost expressions of human existence. And it is inherently contemptuous of all expressions of human life and community that do not fulfill this paradigm;

ST: that neoliberalism “proactively anathematizes community, and therefore society, and therefore humanity itself. It militantly glorifies the market and, above all, it glorifies virile economic autonomy and self-exalting individualism as the ostensible uttermost expressions of human existence. And it is inherently contemptuous of all expressions of human life and community that do not fulfill this paradigm”.

We can agree here but not on the existence of a paradigm—and not on the issue of virility. We can agree on the contempt in which Hayek and his followers hold humanity—as they have colonised every level of human undertaking. Again, it is not the expressions of human life and community with which neoliberal strategies concern themselves. Rather it is with expressing these and producing in them images drawn from a new brain. This new brain belongs to the markets; and, like the mind imagines the brain, the delusion is at this level: that there is a brain, that there exist a market, is a work of the mind and of the men and women who deal in markets and their creation, their representation at the political level.

4.

UK: To neoliberal eyes, humanity, alas, really does exist, and does so in its unfulfilled guise: quotidian, dependent, plodding, seemingly oblivious to the expansively independent and dynamically self-assured opportunities and obligations of its agency. And of course, in the neoliberal mind, there are all too many institutions that embody and perpetuate this selfsame disgraceful, inert mediocrity.

Hence, what neoliberals conceive as being incumbent upon themselves is a sustained effort or visionary crusade to confront and undermine and resolve the embarrassment that is humanity itself. The confrontation thus pursued is the righteous animation of its virtuous contempt. The expression of that contempt is the intrinsically fanciful empowerment of citizens in every context through a unique form of infantalization that presumes to treat human beings as dependent, misguided and undisciplined children—and in the same breath compulsively wean them off every expectation of a nurturing or protective environment, or even one based on that most unruly and suspect of all human frailties: solidarity (as opposed to narcistic co-admiration or the self-satisfied collusion of the powerful with likeminded agents).

ST: that “what neoliberals conceive as being incumbent upon themselves is a sustained effort or visionary crusade to confront and undermine and resolve the embarrassment that is humanity itself.”

We do agree but the counter-image must also be given its place, of a source of and strategy for the redemption of a shamed, a very guilty, and a no doubt embarrassed humanity. It imagines a humanity embarrassed to resolve that embarrassment by means not found in humanity—or in civilization. These means can broadly be termed artificial intelligence or the automated—and automations of the—marketplace.

5.

UK: It is the intention of neoliberal philosophy to treat all who labor in organizations of any kind, public or private, and all of those members of society who are dependent in any form, as the suboptimal specimens that they appear to be, by dint of their non-incarnation of virtuously prodigious invulnerable independence. Since there is no real hope that the vast majority will improve on these virtuous terms—or ever seriously fulfill the righteous prescription of neo-liberal sensibility—the majority must, at the very least, for its own sake, be informed by an unsparing program of applied disillusionment, in which the consequences of non-improvement are in its face perpetually and, if necessary, forever. It is, after all, not the fault of those who know better, that the majority choose to remain as children, oblivious to, or resistant of, virtuously self-surpassing ambition.

ST: that neoliberalism prescribes ceaseless self-improvement, ceaseless because in vain.

Here we are dealing with human affects. But these too are not to be thought through and decided upon by human agents. Self-improvement of course summons up the idea of the subject who is an entrepreneur of the self, on social media, say. Social media are already a kind of automatic, automated marketplace in which social affects and human affects can be decided.

Self-improvement is not prescribed by neoliberals, because, we agree, the human cannot be improved upon, except by the nonhuman. Humanity enters a self-improvement loop because nonhuman values prevail; and perhaps if I am better, affirm better, do better, think better and smarter, I will get a better deal out of an automatic, automated world.

6.

UK: Exalting in the vanity of power as idealized human autonomy, neoliberals are unique in extolling their warped notion of freedom. There is, upon this earth, and in human history altogether, potentially no expression of base authoritarianism more insidious—or insipid!—in its hypocrisy than hegemonic pseudo-libertarianism; the latter being perhaps the crux of what neoliberalism is altogether.

As an inherently loveless creed, neoliberalism is also an inherently empty one. Situated, seated, unconsciously in that blithe emptiness is pervasive existential dread. In neoliberal sensibility, the flight from dread is perused through the morbid festivity of presumptive aspiration in which the individual is pretentiously immortalized, while the collective is ceremoniously penalized and punished;

ST: that the crux of neoliberalism may be a “pseudo-liberatarianism”, in which the individual is offered freedom at the expense of the collective.

Yes, this was Hayek’s theme. The crux, however, is still to outsource those mechanisms by which such freedom is secured for the individual—to the marketplace and the economic instruments of a neoliberal political economy.

7.

UK: Sartre said that the people must be brought into the temple of enlightenment through the lavatory. The neoliberal take on this is that the people must be brought into the temple of enlightenment through the over-exerted order-fulfillment mass warehouse of bewilderment.

In neoliberal praxis the inducement of bewilderment in all guises, situations, and sites of controlled interaction is a creative strategy for in seeking the correction or redemption of the embarrassment that is humanity itself. What neoliberals require is a milieu compulsorily festive bewilderment as a vindication of their own superior effacement of the void.

This pseudo-heroism seeks the acquirement of all others through the allegiance induced by purposive bewilderment. Thus neoliberalism appears among humanity in the guise of an elemental expression of pervasive lechery. Those who are lecherous and powerful believe that anything desired may be acquired as a matter of course and inherent right. What neoliberalism desires is all humanity and yet neoliberalism is contemptuous of humanity itself. The latter is not paradox but the inherent self-contradiction of power that is most base.

ST: that neoliberalism “in seeking the correction or redemption of the embarrassment that is humanity itself” bewilders, desiring humanity, contemptuous of humanity.

That it bewilders even the best minds is bewildering. It may have to do with a strategic deployment of agendas and no unified theory or code, with doing what is necessary when it is necessary, for the good of that which will secure for the individual the greatest freedom. Hence—the paradoxes, around populism and militarism, Bolsonaro, May and Trump, Trudeau and Ardern.

8.

UK: The praxis that effaces neoliberalism is one that is inherent to a domain of wisdom that has always contested hegemonic egoism, ever resisted its claims, and ever insisted upon the prior authority of a truth-process that is visibly grounded in authentic, verifiable human priorities. Though urgently requiring of pervasively assertive (but inherently non-aggressive) transmission in the localized and globalized spheres of society, that wisdom is not itself a political program, but a protean domain of esoteric elements that appear in every context or province of culture. Ever in a state of defiant and paradoxical co-existence with every form of cultural egoity, those elements make up a great tradition or complex (but unitary) foundation of integral praxis, or non-exploitable, non-exploiting, integrality-focused, intrinsically full-humanizing practice and process.

ST: that neoliberalism is effaced in a “a protean domain of esoteric elements that appear in every context or province of culture.”

Culture was the first place neoliberals gathered with anything like decisive force in NZ. Murray Edmund talks of the “man from Treasury” and his forecast for a fully monetized cultural politic and economy. That is, culture was the first place after Treasury to come under neoliberal influence, as a trial-ground, a field of experiment for its strategies.

9.

UK: As with all forms of totalitarianism, the praxis of neoliberalism entails insistent, invasive, propagandized modes of delusive benignity: simulating cheer and hope, appropriating everything that is potentially useful under the guise of a pretentiously engaged pseudo-magnanimity, and, of course, acting out the smiling assassin routine in neutralizing any threat.

Hence neoliberalism is a highly methodical system but the ethos of that system is one of inexorable vacuity. Unlike collectivized forms of totalitarianism, neoliberalism is strikingly impoverished in its myth-making capacity or its ability to tell clear and plausible stories. Deprived of inspirational myth, neoliberalism relies on the obfuscation of narratives through the infantalization of them. Hence, any agent or any group that tells clear or plausible stories is a threat. Any authentic narrative provides an affirmation of self-existing human truths that, by their very nature, cannot be appropriated by any system or program of ideologized dehumanization.

ST: that neoliberalism is a praxis of “appropriating everything that is potentially useful” and of “neutralizing any threat”, and, as such “methodical”.

Also: “neoliberalism is strikingly impoverished in its myth-making capacity or its ability to tell clear and plausible stories.”

What are the stories but the most plausible ones? The mythmaking ones? Yes, and the icon-making ones? They are the famous “stories in our own words”.

Except that they are not stories in our own words, ever, are they.

Methodical? Methodological perhaps. Again, it is a question of capturing the representation in the act of its preparation and production. Methodology is presumed by method; and, once more, it is a nonunifiable and only strategically existent discourse and discourses of method which is attributable to neoliberals, many of whom do not even identify themselves being such. This is some more meat for the idea that neoliberalism is presumed by representation—in culture and in the processes of humanising and civilization.

10.

UK: It is the case that any true cultural process that is manifestly artful in its submission to human need, whether artistically defined, whether politically emphasized, whether grounded in what is called the sacred, whether founded upon any integrity at all of any means and character and insight, is, by virtue of its very underlying nature, impervious to the neoliberal ethos altogether.

It is not that such means entail resistance; much less do they stoop to benevolent mitigation. Rather, it is the case that such processes, such means, entail the radical exclusion of neoliberalism and its paradigms via the propagation of full-humanness, or the transmission of hope in the verifiable language of full-humanness itself: a language that neoliberalism can never appropriate.

ST: that there may be imperviousness to the neoliberal ethos by way of its “radical exclusion” in a language.

We agree here in the specific cases of institutional cultures and their ability to represent their own claims as states of exception. These claims are ontological as much as political. They invoke logics of noncapture, insofar as they are produced independently of the claims of a neoliberal political economy—and do not secede to it, or believe it is possible strategy-wise to outsmart it.

The example always springing to mind is the financialisation of ecological claims by the Greens in Germany, 1980s. This finds its continuation in the carbon markets endorsed by the Greens in NZ, 2000s.

11.

UK: All authentic cultural processes contain the impulse of full-humanization; as such, all such processes repudiate, and do not reward, the submission to what is base, or the embracement of whatever is mediocrely conformist. Unlike neoliberalism however, the confrontation with mediocrity entailed by such processes is dynamically sensitive to human development and relentlessly supportive of the conditions of real human flourishing. As such, all verifiably truth-bearing processes specifically repudiate the fallacy of productive docility and the vacuous exaltation of elites upon which neoliberal sensibility depends.

It is the case that the latter radicalizes everything through a delusive benignity that turns out to be perpetual emptiness and dread. By contrast, all true cultural praxis is tending to radicalize everything in the “opposite direction”: with open eyes, infusing every context with homely truths, and extending the possibilities of human agency in meaningfully co-supportive, truth-bearing terms. As such, all true cultural praxis proactively sublimes the vicious vulgarity that the neoliberal creed can never escape.

As such, all true cultural praxis has nothing whatsoever to do with benevolent mitigation of the dominant pseudo-narrative that is neoliberalism itself. It is, rather, the assertion of a perpetual originality, and the radically heart-sympathetic and explicitly life-sustaining effacement of mediocrity in any context. Its narratives cannot be acquired, for those narratives are intelligible only to those who are like-hearted.

ST: that neoliberalism is against something true: “with open eyes, infusing every context with homely truths, and extending the possibilities of human agency in meaningfully co-supportive, truth-bearing terms.”

Neoliberalism’s strategic attitude to truth, to what is true, need only be cited here—where the representative notion is of all opinion being untrue and fake news until submitted to the collectivisation of the media and means of representation in the marketplace—which has come to stand for the media. (One might say that such collectivisation of mass opinion amounts to a claim against any notional supremacy of (the) individual, as being anywhere near the basis and ground of neoliberal hegemony. This collective voice amounts, one might say, to populism as such. So is unbewildering.)

12.

UK: The inexorable vacuity and intrinsic lovelessness of the neoliberal creed is its one true liability. The recognition of that liability, and the militant effacement of it, is integral to a needful conscious program, to be embraced by every individual and collective of good will, in respect of a localized and globalized process that manifests real civilization.

The only recourse now is one whereby protean full-humanizing cultural processes are in conscious, networked collusion in a relentless civilization-making and perpetually civilization-affirming global movement: one that overcomes the characteristic ambiguities of organized human society that incorporate or necessarily ground themselves in hegemony, rationalism and doubt (or the ambiguous certainties heralded as “progress.”)

Such a movement is one to be founded on sacred reason instead of presumptive rationality. Yet it is not necessarily reflective of a singular sensibility or pragmatic impulse. Such a movement is implacably egalitarian, and yet is paradoxically elitist in its reliance upon the integrity and virtuosity of unique agents. As such, a global movement can flourish, trans-ideologically, in the guise of constructively or creatively polarized sensibilities, as reflected in the esoteric egalitarianism of Rudolf Steiner that was contemporaneous with the esoteric elitism of Stefan George. In this illustrative example, the twain does not meet and is not even required to do so. Inevitably, Steiner and George deliberated in their own way, feeling from their respective points of view toward a paradigm of civilization that was grounded in visionary but essentially pragmatic full-humanness.

ST: that neoliberalism is against real civilization.

Civilization had run its course, as Heiner Müller recognised, at least in Europe, by 1945. Adorno too: hereafter barbarism. But Hayek, and Popper too, and I would guess Rudolf Steiner, with his esotoricism of flowers and the genitals we are, belong to the same tradition—of real civilization. The fact that it is a tradition, even when not civilization, or real or false in any meaningful understanding of the terms, points forward and back too, back to Nietzsche, forward to the French who rediscovered in him the genealogist par excellence of the European condition. (I reach here for a Japanese beer in a beautiful blue glass.) Destroy: the timeline back to its founding event, which is the founding event of its point of view, of its subjectivity—and of the opinion which henceforth will not be submitted to the vagaries and vicissitudes of the marketplace but be submitting every other opinion, point of view and subjective position to them, to it. Destroy: knowing what has been made can be unmade, what is done is able to be undone. We have to find out how it was done. This goes for the delusiveness of the Left’s benignancy as for the new Hayekian liberal agenda’s delusiveness about its own. Then affirm, praise, celebrate and exalt what you create—as your own creation and as the production of what you would have desired.

The age of the supremacy of the individual has passed; we have entered into the age of its freely given and voluntary denial: we avow collective will, above the self, as it is represented in the automatic brain of the marketplace and its political economy. It does not matter if politics of power has been displaced by that of personal survival and the bottom line.

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