Long time since I’ve posted anything here.
For those that don’t know, I’ve moved my writing over to https://venturewithreality.substack.com/ – though, I may simply create my own website again soon.
Long time since I’ve posted anything here.
For those that don’t know, I’ve moved my writing over to https://venturewithreality.substack.com/ – though, I may simply create my own website again soon.
“People are machines. Machines have to be blind and unconscious, they cannot be otherwise, and all their actions have to correspond to their nature. Everything happens. No one does anything. ‘Progress’ and ‘civilization,’ in the real meaning of these words, can appear only as the result of conscious efforts. They cannot appear as the result of unconscious mechanical actions. And what conscious effort can there be in machines? And if one machine is unconscious, then a hundred machines are unconscious, and so are a thousand machines, or a hundred thousand, or a million. And the unconscious activity of a million machines must necessarily result in destruction and extermination. It is precisely in unconscious involuntary manifestations that all evil lies. You do not yet understand and cannot imagine all the results of this evil. But the time will come when you will understand.” – In Search of the Miraculous – P.D. Ouspensky (quoting George Gurdjieff), p52
Here Gurdjieff is discussing why the destruction of war must be to P.D. Ouspensky, his reasoning, in short, is that Everything happens. No one does anything. Now, there are a number of specifically ‘Gurdjieffian’ reasons as to why this is, but very roughly it is because everyone is asleep. Everyone exists in a waking sleep. Of course, when you mention this to people they push back against such an idea – “How can I be asleep!? I’m conscious of all my actions!” They are lulled into a false-sense of security by their knowledge of what certain words apparently mean. To be conscious, for men of the Western world, is to supposedly have will, or to have willed the actions which happen to them. This is their average belief, so average in fact, that one can consider it the default position of the Western mind. We are in control, what we do, we do. This is a predominantly Western belief. Here’s an exercise for those of you who doubt this, those who still believe that they are truly the master of their ‘own’ mind, of their self. If one is walking from point A to B, or driving from A to B, I would ask one to try and focus their attention solely on the task at hand. If one is walking, then one should focus their attention on the process of walking itself, and primarily the feeling in their feet. If one is driving, one should focus on the position of the car and their control of the car. Now, what one will find, is that very quickly their mind wanders off. It begins to consider things, identify with things, and indulge in various fantasies. All of a sudden you will try refocus your attention to the task at hand, but you may have been ‘away’ in your fantasies and considerations for minutes at a time…where have you been? Why, you have been asleep! This is what Gurdjieff understood as ‘sleep’, a waking sleep in which one is pulled around by various unconscious mechanical actions which are driven by external events and happenings.
“There is no progress whatever. Everything is just the same as it was thousands, and tens of thousands, of years ago. The outward form changes. The essence does not change. Man remains just the same. ‘Civilized’ and ‘cultured’ people live with exactly the same interests as the most ignorant savages. Modern civilization is based on violence and slavery and fine words. But all these fine words about ‘progress’ and ‘civilization’ are merely words.” – p51
As a teacher working within the Perennial tradition, Gurdjieff’s quote here can be taken under the saying ‘Nothing new under the sun, the world repeats itself, time is a flat circle. Have it as you will, it has been noticed time and time again, that time itself is always again. And as the ‘outward form’ changes, so too does the language used to define it, language which can largely be considered synonymous with the form itself. The definition many of us have landed on with respect to what is the external catalyst of contemporary sleep is ‘modernity’. And so I hate to state it, but modernity is nothing new. As there has always been happiness, contentment and strife, there too, has always been modernity and/or sleep alongside consciousness and/or true civilization. So I would make it clear before I go further, those devices which I utilize as clarification of my piece here are nothing new in essence, but in attempting to peel away their outward form and reveal the Seed of Sleep beneath, one can begin to Work at modernity.
Let me take the contemporary cliché of criticism, social media. Many will begin to already think – ‘Yes, we know, social media bad, dopamine rush, depression…we know, we know…’ – and I can sympathize with these statements for the fact they are repeated over and over. Yet, we rarely ask why they are repeated so often. Of course the answer is because nothing has been done about the problem. Modern man does not fix his problems, he simply finds more sophisticated ways to articulate them, without ever attempting to dig to their root. The very fact such criticisms are repeated is proof in-itself that man is a mechanical being; are we not told, and do we not have knowledge in abundance of that which is bad for us? And yet we still partake without thought or action, this is mechanical insanity. We all believe to understand what social media is, but in truth we only have knowledge of it, for if one understood, truly, they would cease. We believe to get its malicious mechanics, its abusive feedback loops, the fact it promotes narcissism and solipsism, that it begets division and hatred, forms camps and borders, and at its ruthless heart, beats an artificially intelligent addiction which latches to one’s worst attributes and characteristics. In short, social media is built to use the worst of you as a means for productive-consumptive output.
Yet what are any of these traits but indulgence? We like to believe we are in control, and yet can see we are not. We indulge in the continual debasement of our attention and energy, get emotionally giddy as its squandered to the ignorant masses. We indulge in its narcistic promotion, revel in slowly becoming a greater center of attention; a center that becomes defined by various artificially created boundaries. The social media user does not post for enjoyment, they enjoy the indulgent masochism of its dopamine exhaustion, they indulge in it as they do a deep autumn depression, with an unconsciously mechanical action which draws them from their potential as a Being. Stripped to the core there is nothing new here, what is found once more is man’s lust for sleep. Behind everything modernity has to offer is the machinations which beget sleep, they are neither more intense or more complex from previous generations, for the motor of sleep evolves with its socio-cultural context. One cannot escape the possibility of sleep, only be aware of it.
When one finds themselves wishing to scream to the wind ‘Why oh why must men be this way! Why do they not pay attention!’ what one is likely beginning see is the propensity for sleep. As for the reason for war, for wearing a mask, for taking a knee, for watching TV, for that which one find themselves doing, for that which happens, sleep is the culprit. Waking-sleep, the motor of eternal modernity. When one looks around and believes nothing happens anymore. That time has somehow been lost to the wind, and that the supposed feelings and experiences they had as a child have since left, this belief is not in vain, but it is misplaced. Such a belief only makes sense if one believes in progress, if they believe that the time they are in is somehow different to other times. It is not. Nothing happens anymore because we have always been asleep, as soon as man was conscious he wished for sleep, and so sleep arrived. You are not in the belly of some whale, you are not part of some actual operation to lobotomize you.
For there are two sides to reality. One’s internal life of which you have control, and the external world of events. The weather is an external event, the way in which one reacts to and considers the weather is an internal event, if one is angry or upset at the rain, this is an action of which they are solely responsible. The same applies to all that ‘modernity’ puts on one’s plate. You might feel yourself to be drowning in a cacophonously schizophrenic clutter of noise, media and signals, but is this largely because you truly wish only to indulge in it further? As one indulges in their negative emotions, modern man indulges in his apparent plight as an alienated atomized being.
The average being of modernity is a human knee-deep in quicksand, scrambling lower and lower. Listen as you pass by to their cries, whines and complaints, watch as they roll around in the very filth they criticize, feel the energy that rises in them as they describe they fate within the – supposedly – bleak existence of consumer culture. My friends, analyze their actions as they state their hatred of the sand, as with your very own senses you witness them partaking further and further in its engulfing flux!
“Because to tell the truth, nothing happens anymore. Nothing any longer has the time to happen. There is no duration left for anything to unfold in. Nothing can anchor itself in the world long enough to make sense. While the present still has a duration, the hyperpresent no longer does.” – After Death, Francois J Bonnet
It’s a feeling I imagine many of the listeners of my podcast feel on an almost daily basis, myself included. In fact, I think it’s an age-old feeling which once only used to appear in momentary life-events, but which now appears almost constantly throughout the passage of everyday existence. The feeling that everything is passing you by, and yet, you can’t really discern what ‘everything’ is. There was never time to work with it, to homogenize it in some form, to play around with it, to mess about, to truly feel or think about it. At most one seems only to get the chance to have a tertiary glance at a single iota of existence before it trails off into a confusion.
Bonnet’s ‘hyperpresent’ is much alike the ‘nanopresent’ I wrote of in an earlier piece. The increasing slicing up of time into smaller and smaller pieces, until all one is left with is a nano-second of time, not enough to ever feel informed. The situation seems helpless, how can one battle the ensuing mass of accelerated time and come out the other side still sane? Unfortunately, it’s once again a question of definitions. Those who are willingly entering into this carousel of time – which can only be defined as schizophrenic – are those who we should deem insane, for with sanity comes a stability, with insanity a constant turbulence. This is why I define the time we live in as schizophrenic. For if we take just 3 common symptoms of schizophrenia: multiple (often conflicting) identifications, inability to articulate meaning due to excess signification, and an accelerated pace towards the supposedly new – we can see that the time of modernity is completely schized.
In an instant nothing can grow. We exist in a paradoxical phenomenological time which seeks to destroy its own essence as a temporality. Modernity wishes for time to be space. As Beings with the apparent functions to interpret data we believe ourselves to always have one-over modernity, as if because we push the buttons, this truly means we are in charge. I would ask you of course to look around, to…look our your windows! Is the man who sits in a daily traffic jam, raging at his predicament, is he in charge? Is the woman slumped in-front of a PC screen 8 hours a day doing accounts ‘in charge’? Are the collective sleeping mass who scroll through addictive apps all day ‘in charge’? The answer is of course obvious, and I mean this not as some neo-Luddite screed against technology.
Each days presents us with a mass of conflicting information and paradoxes which we seek to untangle, and yet, the only means to untangle this web is the means which we’re given by the said paradoxes. In modernity one is entering into loops of identity at all times. Modernity wishes for you to lose your self. Each day also presents us with such an overwhelming quantity of signifiers and symbols, that we quite literally lack the ability to ever correlate anything given to us within a single instant. We are always left with a decision between ignorance or the labyrinth. And yet, this inability to correlate anything and everything given to us is also accelerating. When we look to the past we find something already changed, when we look to the future we see only static, and when we look to the present it has already disappeared from beneath us. Our ontology is floating dangerously, allowing itself to be pulled back and forth by the wills and whims of techonomic demiurge. And yet, I still believe, it can be beaten.
I think all can be incorporated, and I also believe that any idea or ideology which makes you emotionally hostile – as opposed to intellectually inquisitive – towards your surroundings is one which is both skewed and dangerous. I write often of ‘Exiting Modernity’, yet, this is not synonymous with hating modernity, or revolting against modernity. If one revolts in the manner of aggression against an addiction they find themselves being drawn in by its power. If one is exerting excess energy towards/against the modern world it has already won! It is – generally speaking – best to become informed of your enemy’s tactics and put your energy towards shielding yourself, as opposed to using your energies in an offensive. A good defense is a great offence. Let modernity try and take you, let it squander its precious resources on someone who is ready for it.
How does one begin the ‘Battle Against the Hyperpresent’ then? What are the aims, objectives and strategies of the enemy? Hell, who is the enemy? The enemy is clever in that it foremost wishes to avoid definition. Some of us have locked onto the word ‘modernity’ as an encapsulation of that feeling, ‘something is wrong and I can’t put my finger on it’. There are other names found within other traditions. But for me, modernity works well because it doesn’t attempt to remove what’s happening from what’s happening. It’s all very well saying that what’s going on right now is part of some much larger plan or goal, but what can we do with what we have right now? This is where any practical battle can begin. We have little in the way of material, for that has largely been co-opted by modernity as a means to satisfying artificially created desire. But we do have something, we have ourselves, we have our attention.
Attention for me is where any great battle begins. If you re-read what I just wrote about how modernity works, how it manages to infiltrate into every nook-and-cranny of daily life, one will notice that in almost all instances it is attempting to degrade out ability to pay attention. It seeks to have us believe that we can have everything at a moment’s notice, without thought for payment, patience or production. If one does not pay for something they will not value it. If one does not work at something they will not empathize with it. And if one does not produce something they will not understand it. Modernity removes each and every single one of these factors by way of credit, addictive mechanisms and consumerism.
Attention is (firstly) the means to assess your situation. What are you paying attention to? Because when one is paying attention they are paying with something of their own, be it money or time – though it’s usually the latter. Our battle against the hyperpresent begins then with an inner-battle with the Will. Once again it is a question of questioning and being attentive to that which pulls you around. Why is it that life seems to be passing you by? Well it may very well be because you simply aren’t paying attention to life. When was the last time you truly remember savoring a meal? Paying attention to the taste, texture and feel of the food, allowing it to be more than some matter which fires off random chemicals within your biology. Or what about a simple walk? When was the last time you truly paid attention to your surroundings? Truly noticing the trees and pathways you take on a daily basis.
A great practical resource for this is – and I’ll be using his work a lot in the coming months I believe – what George Gurdjieff called ‘self-remembering’. Put simply, one is to remember themselves as much as possible. A portion of your conscious action should be of being conscious of being conscious…of being. Self-remembering and being-present are not the same, though abstractly they serve the same purpose. When one becomes overly emotional, overly attached, or identified with some idea of brand to the extent of a personal automatism, they have lost their self…they have forgotten themselves. What is this which takes us away from ourselves I do not know, for Gurdjieff it was one of many Is, one of many internal personalities which seek to derail our authentic way of being. When the Hyperpresent begins to attend to your reality, begins to barrage you with the minute and incessant comings-and-goings of modernity, do not let your self be pulled by that which you never asked for in the first place. Remember to self-remember. Remember yourself, focus on being. Whether or not there is an emotion, a thought, a presence, an analysis, there is still something observing, and that which is observing (the Observer) you should turn your attention towards. Become part of yourself by becoming your own Master.
“Not one of you has noticed the most important thing that I have pointed out to you,” he said. “That is to say, not one of you has noticed that you do not remember yourselves.” (He gave particular emphasis to these words.) “You do not feel yourselves; you are not conscious of yourselves. With you, ‘it observes’ just as ‘it speaks,’ ‘it thinks,’ ‘it laughs.’ You do not feel: I observe, I notice, I see. Everything still ‘is noticed,’ ‘is seen.’ … In order really to observe oneself one must first of all remember oneself.” (He again emphasized these words.) “Try to remember yourselves when you observe yourselves and later on tell me the results. Only those results will have any value that are accompanied by selfremembering. Otherwise you yourselves do not exist in your observations. In which case what are all your observations worth?” – In Search of the Miraculous, P.D. Ouspensky
The Battle Against the Hyperpresent cannot be fought on its own battlefield, but within the inner processes of a single man. One can disallow the hyperpresent to possess them. One can hold fast against the ensuing waves by being-present and attentive, questioning and stepping-back from all that tries to attack. Slowly but surely, man bolsters himself against the wave of the uncertain, anchoring his remembrance of his self in reality. Beginning a new from a position of the authentic.
“There is a doubling, a divergence between two vital forces: the centripetal force of the progressive, unidirectional existence of finite-being (that which, even today, lasts only from birth to death), and a centrifugal force that drives the multidirectional currents of the social world-those frameworks of signs that inscribe the individual within a non-oriented time and space that reaches out beyond them.” – After Death, p8
Cryptically, After Death can be titled Before Schizophrenia. In-between progress and assembly is a transcendental decision, one which Bonnet reconfigures in relation to sacrifice and the sacred. The line of the schizophrenic is always communicating with limitation at its absolute terminus. Via its inherent hyper-nomadism, the schizophrenic’s elusive modus operandi is the avoidance of death, and thus, to become infinite. As Bonnet muses on the sacrificial element of the suicide bomber who becomes-mortal for the sake of his country, or the factory worker who sacrifices their finite energy for the increased output of a corporation far greater than they, the schizo, and the process of schiz itself, is the closest one can get to a formulation of the present. Hidden within Bonnet’s work is the admittance of temporal mutation, whereby what we are within is never itself, and as such, abides by the method of the schizophrenic. Simultaneous attendance to everything and nothing, allowing the artificial force residing in-between to seek out your own life for you.
As autism defines the inability to communicate effectively with language systems, contemporary schizophrenic bastardizations of time alter the subject’s relationship with the present in such a way that one’s passion deteriorates in the face of death-avoidance, whilst simultaneously possessing the subject with an assemblage of signification so dense they beg for the most meager scrap of correlation. Exchange overtakes all faculties; the smell of a rose cannot be inputted, the view of a tranquil horizon is not computed, and the tears of mourning are simply consumed. Society, for Bonnet, is a Beckerian hastening of death-anxiety assimilated into the motor of production. For each desire has a further desire, to be further ignorant of death, ascending to the great purity of productively nomadic immortality. That is, to wish not only to not know classical death, but to disallow it in all endeavors; each iteration of progressive existence fleeting, mutating or disappearing before even the most abstract of decays is given entry.
An infant Heraclitus appears on stage, slotted into a reality system of his own creation, mechanical tendrils shooting off in all directions. Each ligament, each sense, each emotion, each movement and each attempt preconfigured to he rhythm of an artificial river. For Bonnet, the subject can step into the same river, for both the subject and the flow forget themselves; in reverence of repetition contemporary society worships idols of structural dementia.
Bonnet theorizes on the relationship between zero and the hyperpresent, the positive-oriented homogenization of chronic time as simply smaller and smaller increments of ‘the present’. Bonnet’s zero gets no time. Zero folds into zero at an increasing rate, a series of sensible and emotional detachments apprehending reality as a matter of miniature context. Unfortunately for humans, outside of the artificial apparatus of Dharma-based thought systems, to notice the ever-present presentness of reality is merely a tyranny of existence. For as you notice, you cease to notice, have noticed that which is already gone, and, thus, noticed nothing at all.
Attending to our offices we see nothing, hear nothing, feel nothing, want nothing and apprehend nothing. And yet, it is not nothing which communes with her, but, in the words of Bonnet, the shadow of the present. What has been never was, there was not time enough for even space to outline the reality of our realities. For space used to be the plaything of time, that which all tortures and pleasures were drawn from. Space in the time of the hyperpresent exists as an afterthought of existence, the objects which are found, the representations we face and the relations of matter are all symptoms of cosmically apathetic acceleration of allotted existences. As one’s attention is pulled back and forth between various empty expanses of abstraction, all affect is scattered to the abyss; we no longer apprehend, but are apprehended by all which can be considered to ‘external’, long before we have a chance to reason with it.
After Death seeks not to answer the classic question of death-anxiety, for it understands that it can never be answered without elucidation of post-death itself. Yet, it does seek to rip open the horizon of contemporaneous apathy, self-neglect, avoidance, ignorance, attention-deficit, amnesia and anesthesia, revealing an abstraction tethered to cyclic-zero, touching upon tighter recursions of somnambulant consumptive possession evermore. If one is seeking extrapolation as to why nothing in modernity adheres, then Bonnet’s text is a dark-antidote, a caustic liqueur which makes the non-feeling of contemporary existence more apparent; to read Bonnet is to enter into the intensification of paradox.
Existing upon a tightrope of schizophrenia and autism, man is consistently torn apart by his inability to attend to reality in any meaningful sense. On one end he enters into a confusion of untranslatable strings of data, erupting chaos and causing defeat via over-stimulation; on the other he is drawn down into the depressive attitude of an archaic forgetfulness, withering at the edges of ever-innovating time as a being alienated a priori.
As many of you will know, I’ve finally released my book on the philosophy of Nick Land, the links to purchase it can be found below (eBooks should be available very soon):
I was tempted to call this ‘A Beginner’s Guide to Z/Acc’ but I just didn’t want to, we have enough ‘guides’, and ultimately there will never be a definitive guide for any form of Accelerationism, that’s just the nature of the beast. However, Z/Acc seems to have taken off and I’m seeing people mention it more and more in passing. Often they equate it with some form of pessimism, nihilism or anti-natalism (all incorrect readings), other times it’s equated with collapse and social decay (partly right) and I’ve seen a few times being understood as a sort of ‘Doomer/Acc’, and even though I can see how you would get to this conclusion, it’s not exactly right. The incorrect ‘readings’ are of course incorrect because they are being read by a certain type of being, a human. There is only a human nihilism, the laws of the universe are not beholden to any abstraction of humanist ‘meaning’.
So let me try clear some stuff up about Accelerationism and Zero/Accelerationism. Firstly, Accelerationism, what is it? It’s the understanding that capitalism is here to stay and any attempt to derail it, transform it into something else, alter it, destroy it, deconstruct it or change it in anyway is subsumed back into its own mechanics, making it impossible to ever leave it. I think where people can get confused is in the saying “Accelerate the process” which seemingly wants to be expanded into ‘[We should] Accelerate the process.’, which makes it seem as if there is something we can do to cause Acceleration, or cause further Acceleration. Now, I attend to a form of agency best described by Michel Serres, in which we can think of the entire possibility of actions as a great ocean which has flows, tides, shifts, winds and pulls, the agent – The Helmsman – is restricted to the decisions and choices he can make by the way in which the tide is shifting. If the Helmsman was to sail against the current he will surely wreck his ship and voyage. There are great Helmsmen, who can find more prosperous ways to sail, and there are bad Helmsmen, who are ignorant of the ocean altogether. In Accelerationist theory we understand that this ocean is the circuitry of capitalism, and so, any direction you take is simply something capital learns from.
So where does Zero/Accelerationism (Z/Acc) come in? Well, when we talk about Accelerating capitalism we’re almost always doing so from a relatively optimistic point of view. Let’s say you want to Accelerate capitalism for the emancipation of man (L/Acc), that’s an optimistic outlook. Let’s say you believe the Acceleration of capitalism should just be left to unconditionally Accelerate, well, that’s optimistic because you’re outlook is happening as soon as you allow that point-of-view to happen. Let’s say, you want to Accelerate capitalism to bring about the singularity (R/Acc), that’s optimistic, as the recent Kurzweilian fantasies found in GPT-3 are heading that way. For each and every iteration of Accelerationism, be it L, R, U, G etc. one can find something which will optimistically promote their Accelerative bias. Each iteration of Accelerationism does have a relationship with Zero, but it’s one which is ignorant of entropy, one which promotes some form of eternal continuation or perpetual energy source, however abstract.
Firstly, let me expand on what ‘Zero’ is very, very roughly. When we think of numbers we think of them in a sequence, which goes from smaller to larger numbers, or abstractly, from loss to profit, for instance: -3, -2, -1, 0, +1, +2, +3, and on and on. The sequence is reliant on a certain number, or non-number, or functional-glyph to make sense, that glyph is ‘0’ or Zero. Whenever I think of Zero I get a bit nauseous, I’ll give you a minute to think about Zero, try figure our what the hell it is? Even conceptually is eludes human grasp, we can’t sit on it because it’s an atemporal virtual function. I’ll try keep this a little more simple. If a system wants to grow, expand or Accelerate, it needs to understand what it is to grow, expand or Accelerate. This implies that it needs a spectrum from which it can understand whether or not it is growing, expanding or Accelerating. For capitalism this spectrum is the spectrum of numeracy, of number, the sequential spectrum of numbers. With bigger numbers signifying growth/profit and lower numbers signifying loss/negative-growth/decay (very roughly), from this capitalism can transcendentally understand whether or not certain actions undertaken in reality cause it to grow or decay, it emphasizes support for those which help it grow, and suffocates, alienates and deterritorializes those which don’t. So, where does Zero fit in? Zero is the point from which capitalism understands whether or not something is working, whether or not to take action and alter the actions of reality in such a way that growth can begin again. When we think about L/Acc, we’re thinking of a group which sees growth of capitalism heading off in one direction (growth) in relation to one specific context (technological advancement for the emancipation of humankind), when we think of R/Acc the growth also heads off in one direction (singularity), and arguably it does so for U/Acc too, wherein the growth itself becomes abstract and each and every iteration of positivity and negativity is subsumed into growth as the only form of movement for capitalism. Each of these iterations has a tricky and ignorant relationship with Zero, one which holds to a strict binary and avoids the ‘car crash’.
What’s the ‘car crash’ you ask? To paraphrase Paul Virilio, ‘When you invent the car you invent the car crash.’ Or in very abstract terms Zero is everywhere all at once. When there is growth there is a simultaneous loss, and when there is loss there is a simultaneous growth. This might seem strange, but that’s largely because modernity wants everyone to think in binary terms. It’s quite hard to actually pinpoint where the counter-reaction is happening because it usually isn’t even within the same context. However, I think the Covid-19 Event has allowed us to momentarily slip out from out way of binary thinking, at least in terms of cause, effect and the idea of unalloyed progress. Firstly we have a growth of energy (Covid-19) which due its very nature removes certain amounts of energy from other beings, this in turn causes certain effects within nation states due to them not wanting further energy loss in relation to production and growth of their specific economy, these decisions in turn cause effects such as increases in solitude, work-at-home jobs, decreases in socialization, increases in distrust etc., these effects in turn cause many to become disillusioned with the Western dream. So the spontaneous introduction/growth of a biological virus causes various ripples which conclude in various office workers realizing their lives fucking suck. I jest, the point is, the ‘car crash’ which is invented via various social, cultural, political and physical becomings cannot often be predicted. For instance, when Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone, I highly doubt that he foresaw that he would also be inventing ‘Phantom Vibration Syndrome’, in which a person’s pocket seemingly vibrates without the actual stimulus doing so. In this way we can think of Zero as the function which processes each and every car crash. But these processes also show that there is no such thing as a binary scale of growth/loss, as one thing grows other things lose out, but as those secondary things lose out, this opens the gateway for further growth in other areas. So really, when you invent the car you invent the flap of a butterfly’s wings.
So what does any of that have to do with Z/Acc? Well, everything. Z/Acc doesn’t ignore Zero. It doesn’t believe in a single direction. Unconditional is another word for perpetual as far as I’m concerned, and every other form of Acceleration is beholden to progress is some form, be it Marxist, Liberal, Reactionary or Technophilic. Any notion of progress is optimistic even if the outcome isn’t something desired, progress is inherently optimistic because it’s ignores the car crash. So when I write and talk about Z/Acc I’m not specifically talking about collapse or Acceleration, I’m talking about the unavoidable inventions which blossom from innovation as a thorn in the side of utopian optimism, Zero is the constant thorn. Growth without complexification is impossible, and with complexification comes further gateways for Zero to enter inside from. I find it annoying when people make Z/Acc synonymous with purely collapse or purely Acceleration, because once again they’re actually avoiding Zero. If things begin to decay and lose-at-reality, other things grow in their place. These things might be good, they might be bad, who knows. For instance, when the housing market crashes in March of next year (2021 – yeah, that’s right) many people will lose a lot of money and – pseudo – value. There is your loss. However, many younger people will finally be able to afford houses and there will be a growth of maturation and individualism. As there is collapse, there is an opening for growth, both processes however ride on a longer, overarching Zero which resides within the finite nature of earthly resources.
What is Z/Acc then? Well, yes, capitalism is Accelerating. It is continuing on its trajectory of growth. But, this form of growth isn’t somehow immune to Zero, immune to the car crash, to entropy, to ignorance, to…limitation! What does this actually mean in terms of Accelerationism though? It means that our Edens will always have dark alleyways, faults and unforeseen areas of imperfection. As the great AI comes forth and all the jobs begin to be automated there will be years upon years wherein not enough is automated for everyone to have a UBI, but also too much is automated for everyone to have some employment, leaving countless families and individuals caught in the in-between of history. As electric cars become the norm we begin our (pseudo) movement towards the elusive ‘Zero Carbon Footprint’ (impossible), but when you invent the electric car, you invent the electric car crash complete with massive electricity recharge stations, further automobile regulations, increasing use of fossil fuels used to create electricity, increase in gigantic solar farms which destroy forest land; Zero is always waiting in the wings for its opportunity to dirty up Eden.
Fisher states “The slow cancellation of the future has been accompanied by a deflation of expectations.” I disagree with this in part, yes, the future feels as if it’s being cancelled, largely because our very notion of the future is reliant on historical notions of what the future should be. However, I don’t think our expectations are deflated as much as they were never inflated, I know very few in the younger generations who expected much – if anything at all – from their future, because from day 1 it was already being taken from them and changed for them. So where does Zero sit in the future we have been given? It’s the spontaneous worsening of that which is already banal and given. Let’s take virtual reality as an example. The idea of virtual reality has been around for a long time, it’s not anything new, and its place in the future is quite turbulent. But instead of venturing into personal utopias within VR what little gateway of capitalist production has Zero found for us? That’s right, virtual reality shelf-stacking, truck driving and jet-piloting. You can now live your retail wage-slave dream from the comfort of your own home! I’ll given some drawn out predictions to try show you what I mean by a Z/Acc future:
Covid-19 distancing and mask policy is never officially declared over and people naturally begin to distance from one another in supermarkets, automated checkouts are increased and it becomes assumed that one does their own scanning, all the while being kept in a small Perspex germ booth for their own protection. This in turn leads people towards an attitude of distrust, attending to a position of distance and atomization as much as they can. People no longer talk on public transport, wander without aim or take detours.
The self-improvement culture fragments into tighter and tighter groupings, latching onto contemporary hyper-competitive (Dan Bilzerian) culture in an attempt to gamify all areas of existence. People compete in workplace tournaments for who can put in the most hours, with many sleeping on the job, eating meals at their desks and going home only at weekends, all to increase their social market value. They ARE a productive member of society. Zero enters through an extremely abstract gateway here, immanentizing the subconscious idea that one should always be productive in some manner, no longer can one ‘do nothing’, for that is now seen as a waste. Such an attitude leads to an increase in guilt and mental health degradation, leading to a further increase in reliance on drugs which make one well adjusted to a profoundly sick society (Krishnamurti).
The housing market continues in its peeks and troughs. Various government subsidy loans, credit default swaps and bureaucratic grants with risky APR details mean that new homeowners are beholden to the market with respect to where they live and what they do, previous generations of homeowners tighten their grasp on the market. Zero steps in (and is already stepping in) and alters the notion of what a home actually is, many become complacent and acceptant of the idea of living in a tiny home, caravan or even a van. This likewise increases the cultural acceptance of social nomadism and people increasingly become detached from any immediate local culture and simply roam to wherever the latest and most innovative form of production is.
(Current) the increasing use of smartphones as our primary sources of information continues to fry our attention spans, eventually people will understand the news only in snippets and headlines (already happening/happened), this in itself allows for further reliance on binary modes of thinking. As this way of thinking increases people get pushed into more and more striated camps of being, defining themselves by the most rigid restrictions.
As material expectations increase in relation to diminishing resources we will eventually hit a point of cultural no return, wherein expectations remain and resources begin to deplete. Leaving entire generations feeling as if they are constantly missing out. Plastic animatronic Santa Clause toys are viewed as something we should be able to have if we so wish, along with a whole plethora of other pointless material garbage, the years will come when we will yearn for such choices but will not be able to have them. Years upon years of poor people who see themselves not as temporality embarrassed millionaires (as Steinbeck prophesized), but as permanently embarrassed middle class consumerists. And the older generations can forget happiness, Zero jumps in and as resources deplete, bullshit jobs are destroyed and various savings and value investments become worthless, multiple generations will have to finally get useful jobs. As Greer says, this is the point where many older people will crack out the punch-bowl, throw in all their old super-cheap big-pharma unneeded prescriptions and have one last Boomer-blowout, reveling in their nostalgic memories, in a time when they could buy pointless shit and not have to think or do anything of worth.
Many will call me a doomsayer or a fearmongerer, I guess you could easily see me as that if you’re still holding onto the age old notion (religion/belief) in progress, the idea that things can go on in one direction forever is quite frankly moronic. Many of the things that come out of the future will be nice or good in relation to the context in which one lives. If one has accepted their fate as a capitalist wage-slave then the idea that you might be able to do that from the comfort of your home is literally fantastic! If you’ve accepted your fate as a living being who spends the majority of their time in a fluorescently lit office, with people they don’t like, eating awful processed food, doing pointless tasks for the sake of money, money which you only needed to keep the job and buy into the Western dream in the first place, then guess what, the future might be quite alright for you. If you like stupid, meaningless bits of technology which allow you to escape how hellish everything is then you too might enjoy what the future has to offer. I’ll finish up with a quote from ol’ John Michael Greer –
“The future is under no obligation to wait patiently while we get ready for it“
I would personally add that the idea of ‘the future’ is a very human one, there are other forces at work be they economic, political or Occult, and so the future is a lovely assemblage of various concealments and gateways. And so, in truth, Zero doesn’t wait.
One of the most important quotes – at least in my opinion – to come from all of the Hermitix interviews, is one by Dmitry Orlov about identity, to paraphrase, ‘Most people these days are simply a collection of their vices, if you took them away, what exactly would you have left?’. Now, I don’t want to fill out the meaning of Orlov’s quote and try articulate exactly what he means by this, but I will use it as a springboard for my own thoughts on identity, especially as I think the quote is the perfect encapsulation of where we’ve gone wrong with respect to how we ‘identify’ ourselves.
A vice is generally considered to be a weakness in someone’s character, excessive drinking, over eating, a hot temper, sassyness etc. I guess it could be fairly subjective as to what one considers a vice, but I would add a consumer purchases and empty virtues to the list of things which help build an identity. The definition of identity isn’t exactly helpful either:
the fact of being who or what a person or thing is.
the characteristics determining who or what a person or thing is.
Maybe it’s this rather loose signifier, which is reliant on increasingly looser signifiers, which is the reason our-selves have become a bit unstuck. When someone first meets someone, after saying the general pleasantries such as ‘Nice to meet you’ and ‘How are you’ the next question is generally ‘So, what do you do?’ or (though more rarely) ‘What do you do for a living?’. It’s of no surprise that this is our go-to question really, we all work, and our day-to-day jobs take up the majority of our existence, often taking up far more time than that which we spend with our families of friends. So to a certain extent, one can see why one might make work and identity synonymous. The problem is of course, we have mistaken the way in which we earn money with out very being. Our work-life has become our existence, outside of this we have a few addons, but these are seen as quirks and additions as opposed to actual characteristics.
Let’s push Orlov’s idea to its limit. Remove your consumptive habits, your quirks, outgoings, vices, social virtues, brands, aesthetics and material likes, an what do you have left? Where is your self beneath all of these things? Of course, one could argue that these things do culminate in what we generally consider to be a self or identity, and yet, many of them are so empty at their heart, that our very identities are riding on nothingness. I’m going to sound a tad romantic or soppy here, but I don’t particularly care, and I think it’s telling that these are often used as accusations as opposed to thought positions, anyway… When you ask someone what they’re into they’ll usually state they’re into a certain genre of film, like a certain cuisine, enjoy certain brands or makes etc. and outline their very existence via various material and consumptive habits. When one is asked this question, of ‘what it is they are into…’ what happened to stating pastimes and functions outside of material, consumptive patterns. Sure, walking could be given as a rather cliché example, but what about sitting in front of a lake, or drawing trees, or reading old French texts, anything really, our identities have become constrained by the limitations of what is considered normal within Western consumerist society. Maybe there’s little more to this piece than that, do not allow your-self and who you consider yourself to be to be constrained via material limits, especially material limits of consumerism.
This isn’t anything new of course, people have always held to certain idea of normality or social etiquette, it’s nice to be accepted and it would a lie to say otherwise. But it’s not a question of acceptance, it’s a question of submission. Most, if not all modern identities are submission to a big-Other, or a they, or an elusive herd mentality which haunts everything, but it’s only our own acceptance that this haunt actually exists which keeps us from exploring possible alternatives within life. An unconscious attachment to an abstract fluxing ideal which supposedly resides in all social functions, events, processes and happenings. As if at all moments in life we’re collectively trying to impress the Other collective, which always eludes and outflanks us, and as such, our journey towards some form of coherent identity never ends, we’re always reliant on the next item or purchase to bolster our belief in our self, one which we deep down understand to have very little supporting it.
Ultimately we live in a highly atomized society. Everyone and everything is at atomized as possible, fragmented and splintered into the smallest controllable lumps, the smallest morsel which capital can latch onto and control. It’s difficult to outline what modern identity is because it’s so utterly dispersed, it has deconstructed any overarching value into a useless pulp; God, family, nation, state or nature are good examples of values which people used to put before themselves, but now nothing is put before the self and everything comes after our individual purchases, wants, needs and desires, the modern identity is one of an a priori selfishness. We are reluctant to give into the idea of something greater than us precisely because it is greater, and thus proves our notion of individuality is rather superfluous and is something we’re not as in control of as we’d like to think. I could blither on and on here, but I think the premise is so clear, once we begin to look, what exactly is it which our identities are built on? And if it is as I argue, that there’s very little there of substance, then I have little more to write about here, so actually, I think a practice would be of more worth here…
Think on what exactly it is that makes you you. This is one of the biggest questions one could ask themselves, so it might take some time. But I would begin with you recent purchases and why it was you bought them, what compelled you? What do they actually say about you? In what way do they inform your identity? Keep going until you reach a block, is there anything there that can’t be moved? That hasn’t been built or created by some Other force?
There’s something very revealing to be found in the way we interact with food which can tell us a lot about our relationship with modernity. Alongside water and shelter, food too is an immediate and necessary need for all men and women, unlike water we don’t take it for granted, at least not to the extent we do with water, we do however have a rather peculiar relationship with food…
Firstly let’s look at what food even is. At its most basic level food is sustenance, it’s the fuel that keeps us going. We are biological ‘machines’ which need fuel to keep us performing whatever actions we wish to perform. On a certain level of communication this is our basic reality, one in which we are an engine which performs functions and needs fuel to do. Now, if you wish to lose weight this is actually the most practical way to think about food, as fuel. However, there are of course long traditions of food as a cultural object or pastime, certain places have certain cuisines which usually represent the temperament of their culture quite exactly. There is also the largely ignored history and philosophy of senses other than sight and hearing, so to simply understand food as some additional extra would be silly, however, our relationship with it isn’t a healthy one, its a quintessentially modern one, in which food becomes entertainment. This isn’t exactly a new idea, but food was perhaps the first example of where the substance of something began to mutate into a different conception altogether.
What I mean when I say that our relationship with food has altered into one of entertainment, is that the very purpose of food has been lost, but I don’t think a return to this very basic purpose has to exclude the beauty of food itself and its historical origins. The attitude towards food within modernity is one which allows it to become a sideshow of existence, one which allows the empire of signs to overtake all faculties and demote food to some kind of existence-filler, something to pass the time. Whereas, in reality, food is something that should be kept at the forefront of one’s mind, especially when you’re consuming it. The phrase ‘You are what you eat.’ is thrown around rather callously as some pithy bureaucratic message regarding personal health, however, when you really begin to think about that saying, there’s more to it than meets the eye – as there usually is with those old, wise sayings.
Because you quite literally are what you eat, in both a physical and metaphorical sense. What you consume is the fuel used to create you and allow you to continue, if you intake bad food, or junk fuel, then your body and you are going to feel like junk. And, metaphorically speaking, if you intake cheap, quick and easy food, you will become cheap, quick and easy, developing an impatience with respect to existence itself. The contemporary attitude towards food is one in which is relegated in favor of an act deemed worthy of one’s attention. There is even a culture with regard to finding good videos to watch whilst one is eating, as if literally fueling one’s body and enjoying the flavors of various foods wasn’t enough. People will obviously state that I’m some reactionary – ‘Oh, you think it’s ridiculous that people might want to watch TV or listen to something whilst eating?’ – well, yes and no. No, I don’t think it’s ridiculous per se, however, I do think it’s done so from a position of privilege. And so also, yes, yes I do think it’s ridiculous, it’s ridiculous that we’ve got to a state of affairs where if one is eating that isn’t the act which is actually primary in their thought. Such a thought process, wherein the food itself is no longer the primary part of the meal, is a great outline for the way in which modernity tends to strangle and control your most basic functions, turning them into something which changes your existence into a fairground attraction.
Everything in modernity must be entertainment, or, must at least be able to be entertainment. Your morning commute to work is filled with radio, podcasts or music, a short walk anywhere is done with headphones in as to cancel our the world, eating dinner is done in front of the TV or with something on in the background, each item of consumption has an addition which makes it in some ways ‘fun’, your work break is filled with biscuits and tea, your most basic functions have been gamified into empty habits for the sake of a dopamine rush, everything is logged, everything is projected and everything is beaconed to the crowds for approval. At all times, one must be entertained, for if they are not being entertained they are having a bad time, and that – within modernity – is a fate worse than death. You’ll notice that all those things I listed, commuting/walking to work, going on a walk, eating meals, taking some time our/having a break etc. these are all the simple pleasures of life which can be enacted for free, and not only that, are actually both free and enjoyable. Modernity, of course, tends to hate this. The idea that one could go out and be fulfilled and content without purchase, or without purchasing something which they then attend to as if it was part of them.
Food is the greatest example of this, this compulsion of modernity to make you believe you never have enough, that nothing is enough until every sense is absolutely overflowing with data and information that you can hardly think. Modernity adores noise, for without noise one might actually be able to anchor themselves, think for themselves and finally attend to that which they actually need/want. We have been removed from everything vital to us, everything which maintains the simplicity is stripped away, for the purpose of trying to prove to us that we don’t want simplicity, but we want complexity, with all its trinkets, additions and extras. And this is what modernity wishes to prove to you with the overarching idea of entertainment, it is not enough to live a simple, quiet and calm life, one must be entertained all the time; one must in constant states of emotional pull and tug, as if to exist contently was a sin in itself, whereas the opposite is the truth. Modernity loves complexity because it’s easy to get lost in it, it’s easy to lose what exactly it was you originally wanted, if anything, and search endlessly for a desired object, other or ism, that accursed thing which will finally satisfy the perpetual itch put upon you by modernity.
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During recent research into the life of Machiavelli something began to become quite clear to me. We weren’t always, universally, socially, communally or even personally, political. That is to say, it’s only recently that it’s become commonplace to declare oneself as left, right, Republican, Democrat, Labour, Conservative, Centrist, Reactionary, Socialist, Red, Blue, x-pilled, y-pilled etc. In terms of human history this way of being – as a political-being, or even as homo-politicus – is extremely new. The very idea of a left/right split/spectrum comes from where people sat during the French Revolution, when members of the National Assembly divided themselves into those in support of the king (right) and supporters of the Revolution (left). Arguably this is one and only time that the idea of a left/right spectrum has ever made sense. Since then both ‘directions’ signal virtue to various camps and striate one into relatively specific ways of thinking. The year we’re roughly talking about here is 1789, that’s round that all up and say – for clarity’s sake – we’ve been political ‘beings’ for just over 200 years. Once again, humans in their current evolutionary iteration have been around for 200,000 years. So we’ve had this political chip on our shoulders for roughly 0.1% of our entire lifetime. Of course, you could argue that for a large amount of that time we haven’t exactly had the infrastructure to allow for what we now commonly understand as politics or political economy, but we have had that for a few thousand years at least, so even going by that metric, the notion of a political-being or of a political-human is still quite new.
It seems to me the reason for the original (non) position, wherein man wasn’t apolitical, nor anti-political, but simply detached from the political, wasn’t due to some oppression (though some would argue otherwise), nor was it really to do with any ignorance; it was largely because in relation to man’s daily life, the specific political on-goings didn’t matter to him. I would argue that this is still true, we’re just all caught up in status and popularity games.
The very idea that within contemporary (Western) society one could be ‘detached’ from politics seems absurd, that’s how tight of a grasp it has on our lives. A grasp which is ever-tightened by the popular rhetoric surrounding politics. Society in general seems to unconsciously believe that they now have some kind of duty to be political, they must be in a certain camp, they must have certain opinions on various matters, and most of all, they must care in a specifically political way. I’m here to say that this way of thinking and being is complete bullshit, and it slowly leads one to misery and submission. There are a lot of factors as to why someone might feel compelled to constantly be political, largely emanating from one’s perpetual attachment to media. The two most heinous forms of media are – of course – social and mainstream. Primarily because, once you actually begin to think about what these terms actually mean, like most things in modernity, they no longer make any sense whatsoever. Let’s begin with ‘social media’.
We all apparently ‘know’ what social media is, which is another way of saying we understand it. I’ll admit, I don’t really understand social media, and I never have. The basic reasons as to why it’s so popular are of course clear, on average humans quite like attention, they quite like having a say and they quite like boasting about their lives. However, I would ask this? If it wasn’t for social media, and its invasive societally pressuring structures, would you actually want to express certain opinions? Would you even have them? Would you have even thought about them? Maybe you would, maybe you wouldn’t, be honest with yourself. If no one was looking, and you had no proof anyone had looked, would you expend energy on the various political and social tasks you do? Ok, so this then begs the question, why the hell do we want to express these opinions? Well, for that you need a mainstream current which tells you the correct, conventional and confirmative way to be. Enter the mainstream media. Such an idea of a ‘mainstream’ is already idiotic. There can’t be such a thing because we all live in different areas of the world, within different cultures, within different families, with different values, within different contexts, and so, the job the mainstream media then is to subsume all of these alternative ways of being and differing value systems into one relatively homogenous lump, which is then there’s to mold as they wish. I’d insert here Ted Kaczynski’s ‘critique’ of ‘multiculturalism’, though it’s less a critique and more of a deconstruction. Kaczynski’s point is that there isn’t really any such thing as ‘multiculturalism’ as it’s sold to us. The overt idea is that multiple diverse cultures live amongst one another, learn from each other and share their cultures for the betterment of all. Kaczynski makes it clear that this is not what happens within contemporary multiculturalism, all that really happens is that every culture is subsumed into the exact same culture of middle-class consumerist aspiration, and perhaps allowed to retain any cultural aesthetic which might be deemed profitable by their new culture of consumerist aspiration. The exact same thing happens with mainstream media. One begins with a variety of views, opinions, values, outlooks, perspectives and contexts which have been grown organically, from their local surroundings and upbringing, these are then pushed through the conformity thresher of mainstream media, cherry-picked for their applicability for submission, and what’s left are deemed dangerous, archaic, bad, fascist, radical, silly, absurd, weird, not-normal, odd or perhaps just too common-sensical for them to remain.
Now, the exact same process happens with the idea of a ‘political-human’ with a few minor alterations. Much like homo-criminalis, or homo-economicus, once the suffix is assumed a priori as a way of being – man can be a criminal, or man can be economical. There’s no longer such a thing as a man detached entirely from criminality or the economy, there is only a man who is not a criminal, or a man who acts within the economy in a different way than what is preferred. The exact same thing happens with political man. Once a political-outlook, a political-perspective or a political-reality is assumed as the given reality, everything is then filtered through politics in some manner. Then there is no longer such a thing as a entirely unpolitical man, only a man who is deemed ignorant of politics, someone who is seen as turning a blind eye or as simply too lazy to investigate that which they should be. The language here is the problem. Foucault makes this point clear with homo-criminalis and homo-economicus, once the ontology is taken as a given, no one is not of it, but simply seen as not part of a certain section of it. Men are not men, they are either criminals or not-criminals, we are not ourselves we are either economizing or not-economizing, either way, we’re still tethered to a way of being we had no say in.
Well I’m here to say that this is complete and utter crap. If you want to go get involved in politics, then be my guest, but do NOT assume that just because I don’t care about a certain topic, opinion or perspective that I am immediately the antagonist of that position. There is a difference between a hostile apathy, in which one truly doesn’t care about the plight of others and a detachment within one simply is not involved. Of course, any involved are going to disagree. ‘It’s your duty!’ they will cry. ‘Do you not care about the world!’ they will shriek. ‘How can you just do nothing?’ they will plead. Actually, I am doing something, I’m not expending my energy on a status game which largely exists to inflate various egos and create jobs. Lest we forget that politicians are workers, to be a politician is a job, and by the looks of it, quite a cushy one at that.
Being detached from politics isn’t not caring about those things you left behind, in fact, it’s arguably the opposite. As soon as a charitable organization, a communal effort or a group event becomes politicized, I am instantly skeptical of its agenda, why? Well, because since when did helping others, loving thy neighbor or creating something helpful have to be seen through a political lens. Call me a soppy-sod, but buying a homeless person some food, donating to a local charity or helping out in a local event isn’t – and doesn’t have to be – a specifically political move or motivation, and if it is, you’re doing so to cater to your own narcissism. What are these acts then? Well, they are what they are. You help someone because they need help, you do something because it needs doing, you create because something needs creating; once sincere acts are filtered through the malicious gauze of politics they are usually lost entirely, abused into a self-congratulatory mutation.
Ok, maybe you’re with me, but you’re starting to think…’Ok, so what do I…do?‘ Isn’t that the point? Up until now, for many people, each and every act they undertook was done primarily from a political position as opposed to the multitude of other (healthier) perspectives that exist. What do you do? Do what you’d like and what you understand to be right.
“Ah yes Meta, but if we ‘do nothing’ as you propose, wont we be simply bolstering support for whichever party is in the running to win?” You’re still thinking politically, why does it actually matter to you? If I support X I’ve entered into a system which is so unfathomably corrupt, confused and rife with personality that I will never truly know what it is my vote is doing. It is NOT an apathy, an ignorance or a superiority. It is a detachment. It is one unclipping themselves from a perspective they never asked for in the first place. The years upon years spent drooling over the latest news reports, the latest facts and figures, and for what? What has it brought you but further misery? Has the world truly changed, or has is trundled along as you thought it most likely would from your specific global context? I’m no longer interested in politics in the same way I am no longer interested in shipping reports…I never was, they are in absolutely no way connected to the way in which my life will turn out, that power and that energy resides in exactly one place, my flesh. If you wish to hand over all responsibility for your life to some vague entity called ‘politics’ go ahead, but whilst that’s going on I’ll be trying to find my way throughout the labyrinth of Leviathan.
“AH! So you DO exist within politics!” Yep. I’m not an idiot, politics will and does effect my life. Certain decisions certain people make will enact changes which will effect my life. How I go on to interact with those changes is down to me. But those changes happen in much the same way a tree falling into my garden ‘happens’, I deal with it when it arrives. I WILL NOT expend my finite energy on various status games and virtuous hiccups for the sake of retaining the idea of a self whose sole purpose is to please others.
There is a great hall within a forest. There are parties in the hall 24/7, the noise never stops, the commotion never dwindles. Many people enter, very few leave. I was born in the hall and assumed its reality as the only reality. One day my eye caught the sunlight beaming in from outside, it was beautiful, sublime. I caught it only for a moment, before an elder lurched and dragged me from the hole in the wall. As I grew all I did was stand by the hole in the wall, looking out into a vague green and light space, a space which was hostile yet inviting. One day I tried to leave. I walked a few meters from the hall, retreating quickly to its comforts our of terror. The elders smirked and welcomed me back. The brief moments I had spent outside the hall stayed with me. It’s all I thought of. Many days I would try to create my own wilderness within the hall, to some degree of success but never exact. One day I left for good, out of boredom. The elders forgot of me. I resided just a few miles from the hall. Dithering here and there, doing as I wished. Some days I thought of burning the hall down, setting others free. But I quickly realised that many had their homes there, and it would be wrong for me to force my opinion on them. And so I moved further away, as far as I could, but every time I looked over my shoulder the hall was always there. I came to adjust to its noise, to work with my thoughts and understand the hall for what it was. Eventually I ventured back, realizing there were some positives to the hall, but it was simply not for me. I said hello to the elders and they were suspicious. I left once more, residing in a camp of my own making just a few miles from the hall, learning to live with its hegemony of comfort. Most days I did as I wished, the hall in the back of my mind as that which I never wanted to become. I lived outside of it, detached from its way of being.
It is not a question of not caring about politics, because to actively not care is to care. It is a question of entrance and exit. You were made to enter a perspective and you have the right to exit it also. To criticize the crowd is to be of the crowd, to criticize consumption is to consume such a criticism, to be apolitical is to be more political than all.
One day I went back to the hall, delved deep into its basement. There sat a lonely old man, spewing bitter vitriol, submissive demands and revolutionary appeals, he never stopped yapping, sordid and cruel. I sat for some days and listened, I took in much data and retained no substance of use. I knew he was there, and I knew through the floor his words echoed throughout the hall, with differing parts protruding into different sections. I left him alone and left the hall once more. I occasionally think of that old man, unchanging, bitter and alone.
 What can one say of the man who simply wishes to go about his day, tend to his crops and family, create art, read great literature, fish for his supper, arise to the rhythms of nature and quite frankly go about his day, thinking not of himself, but of his immediate life, of that which effects him, moment to moment. If you view such a man as oppressed, ignorant or apathetic, then I would say that the parasite of the political is deep within you.
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I know what you’re thinking, ‘How the hell is Meta going to pull this off? A full length piece on water, he’s gone too far!’ Well actually, I haven’t. Water, specifically tap water is one the greatest tools in my toolbox to show you just how far modernity has come, how much it has mutated your mind. The way in which we think about water lays much of the groundwork for how we think about food, which will be an even bigger essay due to the various connotations in connected to it. Water, in comparison, seems relatively simple, but it can actually be used as a cornerstone for the presumptions regarding the life of the average modern man.
The more I think about writing this essay, the more I think it might be the one where I finally step into the realms of ‘Well yeah, no shit Meta!’, but that hasn’t happened yet, even though I believe I’ve been writing about some really clear stuff. This is why it’s always best to write by the way, your view may actually be more original than you think. With that said, a word of warning, this essay could de downright obvious.
The problem with water is that outside of shelter – which in most Western countries isn’t truly top priority – is that we absolutely need it to be able to exist. It’s not something which is negotiable, it can’t be replaced in any form and is always, perpetually needed, until the day you die. And yet, we take it for granted to such an extent that we generally forget we have supposedly unlimited access to it. You realize how utterly insane that is? There is something out there which, if we don’t have it for just 3 days, we will die. And what do we do? We forget that we access to that thing, we abuse our relationship to that thing and arguably, we even neglect that thing. Precious, precious water.
Though I’ve already written the short piece on schooling, I did miss something out, the fact that school does actually teach you some lessons, but there always the lessons they didn’t realize they had taught you. We had an assembly one day about being grateful etc. and one of the examples they gave to us was to understand that water coming out of the tap, day-in day-out, isn’t something that necessarily always happens, but is something which has been developed and engineered to do so. Yes, I learnt the lesson of being grateful for resources and lifelines, but I also learnt another lesson, the one they didn’t really want to teach me. ‘What the HELL are we all doing?’. This is the most important thing is all of our lives, and none of us are learning how it works, or why it happens, or who’s in control, or who to contact if it goes to pot, or how we find and develop a new fresh supply of water if the taps stop running. Maybe I’ve always had the collapse mindset, maybe my years of survival and woodland camping made me respect warmth, water and fresh food a lot more, I don’t know, what I did know is that we all had a serious chip on our shoulders.
So this is the point of this essay. Not water in itself, as some nourishing good. Though of course it would be easy to begin mentioning carbon water filters, privatization of water supplies and the health benefits of hydration, I’m not going to, because there’s a more important message at play. Once again, the one of presumptions. We all presume that water flows from the tap when we turn the tap on/off, we all presume that the water will continue to do so for as long as we live, we also presume that if the water stopped running from the tap that something is up, this would be not normal. Well, I have a cold message for you all, water not running from the tap is actually normal. Not having a mass network of filtered and sterilized pipes connected to each and every house is normal. Not having instant access to clean drinking water is normal. If you have running water, you’re privileged and disconnected from reality.
Arguably we’ve had ‘modern plumbing’ since the mid-1800’s, but in terms of the standards we’d expect today, the 1930s is the earliest era one could argue comes close to modern expectations. So, we’ve had modern plumbing and running water for just under 100 years. Let’s say humans have been around in their current evolutionary iteration for 200,000 years, that would mean we’ve had running water for 0.05% of our life time, and yet, it’s accepted as absolutely, 100% normal. It is and always will be the way things are. Anyone who says otherwise is a quack, doomsayer, madman, weird blogger who needs help, right? If it was any other resource it might not seem so mad, but the one and only (in many parts of the world, where climate is less formidable) resource we need to exist is taken for granted? And no one is being taught on a societal level how it’s processed? How to start it running again if it stops? Where to get it if it doesn’t come out of the tap? How to process it when drawn from an exterior source?
But here’s what modernity does in this situation. It creates something which is technically amazing, our contemporary plumbing systems, for instance. It disperses it in such a way that it becomes hegemonic, and anyone not abiding by it is seen as weird and odd. From its generalized societal acceptance as the absolute norm (and anyone who thinks otherwise is weird), it is accepted (along with progress) as absolutely always and forever, and there was never not a time we didn’t have it, and if there was the people of that time were weird.
This hegemonic coverup of course isn’t something modernity ever wants you to think about. To think about the fact that one needs and always will need water, to exist, to live…to not die, is not what modernity wants. Remember, under modernity you’re going to live forever (until you don’t), you’re going to having everything you want (it wont satisfy you) and there’s nothing to worry about (except all the old risks are still there). Modernity wants you to forget that you’re human, and you need very little so that it can maintain its productive control over you. If you’re reminded that you need water, you might also be reminded that you could live without other drinks, you could even go get your water from elsewhere. ‘Hmm, perhaps I don’t need all that stuff.’ Once water is turned into an a priori resource it is no longer revered for what it is, and is simply accepted, making it boring, almost untrustworthy. You drink water? How dull!
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