META-NOMAD

Anti-Pleroma: Progressivism Bows to the Yoke

What is the pleroma? In Gnostic spirituality it is fullness, wholeness and a completion of the self.

First and foremost is that there is a ‘more-than-personal’ Gnostic element within reality, a pneumatic element that is organic to the human psyche. Forthwith called the pneuma. This element the pneuma carries a dialogue with the personal element of our selfhood – ego, human-security-system etc. – through the use of symbols. The pneuma is not silent. It is a not a silent partner in one’s life and demands active participation in the growth, metamorphosis and transformation of the individual. The symbols utilized by the pneuma are dreams, visions and altered states of consciousness. These symbols reveal a path of development which can be traced both backwards and forwards in time. Prior to understanding and acceptance of the pneuma comes multiple painful and seemingly cynical and pessimistic phases.

The Gnostic Process: agone or drama/contest; pathos or defeat; threnos or lamentation; and theophania, divinely accomplished redemption. That which halts this process, stifles it, are unconscious forces, blind and foolish powers – projections. Demiurgoi and archons: Fashioner/architect and ruler respectively. Those who bow to the powers of the aforementioned blind and foolish make the grave mistake of bowing to the yoke –

“One cannot free oneself by bowing to the yoke, but only by breaking it.”

This piece could stretch ideologically to the far reaches of space in time in relation to man’s adherence to symbolic projections of egoist desires, yet my focus is on the contemporary myth of progress and those who bow to its yoke. Acting unconsciously to a nature created artificially.

Cometh the drama, come forth the symbols of virtue, that which the progressive rolls around in like a pig in shit. Placards, protests, t-shirts, revolutionary attitudes, transgression, debauchery, reveling, egotistical pontificating, the dramas of the self-centered forever focused inward, towards the human, human, human. Drama is human. All that is to dramatic effect has at its heart a human beat and rhythm. For there cannot be drama of the cosmos, not in the gossipy way we think of drama. The calm and illusive apathy of the universe is far from dramatic, at least from its own ‘perspective’. Progress needs drama. Stability needs little except understanding as to the ‘why’ of the stable itself. To disturb the waters one must usher in an age of uncertain, dramatic protest that orbits the habitats of the strange and ostracized. Drama is needed for those who can’t take the clear path, for they are simply inept. To progress is to assume a position in which there is something that must be progressed, and for this we have found little reason, and yet we still ‘progress’. The dramatic layer atop of the myth of progress is the alluring excitement of virtue, ‘community’ and belonging. But tell me, how can one ‘belong’ to that which is ever moving?

Then there’s that pause of the protest isn’t there? The bell ring of silence as you contemplate your meaningless, your lack of awareness, your assimilation into a system of symbols so confusingly simple that you just melt into confusion and nausea. The silence of one’s pneuma acts as a constant reminder of the more that is simplicity and nothingness. Now as for you Mr Progress(ive), you, I know, will go back to screaming louder. Man the placards and release the symbols of war!

Then the defeat. Yet the defeat never comes, not now and not ever. For the defeat of progress is merely more drama. It is not as defeat should often be, a moment for reflection unto the general aims of the group or community as to whether they are true, no. For the progressive defeat and failure are systematic attacks on truth, they are glitches in their irrefutable mode of being. Failure for the progressive is always conspiracy, idiocy, fault of the other. Think Brexit or Trump for two contemporary examples. The progressive does not accept for a minute their own deified religion of democracies’ actuality, no. They cannot accept that the many may see things differently from them. The Brexiteers and Trump voters are simply, a priori wrong, at fault and incorrect. This is not a ‘defeat’ it is simply not correct. There is never defeat, only confusion, nonacceptance and ignorance. Like a parasite eating its own arse. For progressives every failure is a victory, for their failures are proof and vindication that the system they protest against is in fact against them.

“Why wont they speak about being lizards?! SEE! I told you they were lizards!”

They whine and whine about their non-defeat to the point wherein those who are critical to progress begin cramming all manner of things into their ears. “Stop this incessant noise! Why wont this failure simply accept and be quiet!” But no, those are not in-with-the-myth become quiet, silent almost, a community of hermits who know not of themselves. And when the curtains of many booths close over the backs of many silent hermits, the votes begin to be counted, and alas, once again, it is we who are wrong…again. I simply cannot believe the majority has been wrong this many times. The great idiocy of democracy, the beauty of its craft within the hands of a thrifty politician is as such:

X wasn’t really wanted ‘apparently’: “Oh my, I cannot believe the people did this. We shall repair your mistakes!”

X was really wanted ‘apparently’: “I had faith in the people from the off! Our party shall bring our decision to greatness!”

If one cannot be defeated then lamentation never comes, the divine reward of the pleroma never comes. Progression without clear limits is a loop of desire and narcissism. A snake cycling into its own arsehole forever.

“Jung has repeatedly pointed out that whenever prolonged onesidedness occurs within the conscious attitude of the individual, a countering compensatory action takes place within the unconscious.” [1]

You know that you know. And we know that you know. And what is it that you know? Well it is the truth, the mind-numbing static of the unconscious. Like a battering ram against virtue, every waking our you have to find a strange soapbox for your attitude, your vices, your virtues. You crave numbers as a means for justification. Well, the truth doesn’t need a soapbox. That which is fed to me through the tightest gauze by a grovelling fat mass over and over again is that which I doubt. I cannot explain this in a more articulate manner or in a clearer way. And why not? Because at the back, down there, within and with-outside is that which you wont attempt to near, some gut level urge, defiance or tradition you cannot look in the eye. Oh, to never be still. To never even contemplate the possibility of the pleroma, of stillness. The privilege of silence, intelligence and competency, you say. Systematic this ‘n that. That which doesn’t fit becomes a ‘studies’. Your proofs are your own, birthed from your own systems, they are conscious and sprung from conscious, they shan’t ever be. And you know it.

Progress melts at the sight/site of the unconscious.

 

 

[1] The Gnostic Jung

Z/Acc Primer

Where the hell do I even start with this absolute megalodon of societal pessimism? Well let’s start from the one titbit we have with regard to Z/Acc, this tweet:

It’s cute isn’t it? In fact, you’re now within the camp of people who know the entire Z/Acc Twitter lore, yep that’s it. And I know what you’re thinking, ‘Wait, that’s it? How and why do I keep seeing ‘Z/Acc’ everywhere on Twitter? I mean there hasn’t even been a badly formatted, unnecessarily long WordPress post on the topic ye-‘

Welcome, my friends, to the Z/Acc primer.

Endre Tot.

What does the Z of Z/Acc actually stand for you ask? Zero. Zero/Accelerationism or Zero Acceleration, the proposition of Z/Acc is that we’re not, or we’re not going to accelerate, not the process of deterritorializing capital, we’re not going to accelerate actual progress, overcoming, capital, utopian dreams, nothing…we’re going to accelerate absolutely nothing. However, at this stage that makes Z/Acc hardly different from collapse culture, secular eschatology or industrial meltdown, does it? I mean, saying that we’re not going to progress is hardly novel, there’s hundreds of books on the topic by plenty of conspiratorial nuts. (I’ll probably list a few to be quite honest.)

Anyway, let’s assimilate Z/Acc into the actual theory of Accelerationism, no one has yet done this, perhaps because Z/Acc is just too pessimistic, even for those weirdos on Twitter. Accelerationism is inherently a theory of time. Whether you take that time as McKenna’s timewave zero phase-esque thing, “Accelerationism is a demon, not an ideology”  (as noted by Amy Ireland) or complex integration of economic means of escape via Kantian time. Either way, Acc is a theory of time. L/Acc wish for time to work in the typically mistaken (in my opinion) progressively linear fashion, and for time to work in their favor with regards to propagating a technological utopian (Marxist) society, complete with UBI‘s and all that meaning eroding jazz. R/Acc, in its initial formation and on what would be considered a material-chronic spacio-temporal plane – common reality – has not chained itself to the archaic theory set in chronic time, and as such acts as a reterritorialization movement in relation to L/Acc’s consistent compiling of ignorance. “You’re getting it wrong again, here’s what we might have done had you not overstepped your means…again.”

R/Acc’s inherent understanding of agency within unhinged time allows them to acquire the blackpill-visors and metaphorically witness capital’s convergent lasso come forth. With L/Acc searching for the – supposed – true agent of acceleration exterior to capitalism, which in the view of R/Acc is capitalism itself. Thus the spectrum upon which both L and R/Acc coexist is one of ontology, wherein one side (L/Acc) promote an ontologically objective structure of time, with humanities agency at the wheel, and the other end (R/Acc) accepting the ontology of the future as a constant. R/Acc accept that capital is critique. A rock dropped into water ripples outwards, reverse these waves and they culminate at the event of the rock’s splash, apply this metaphor to time and we have to ask what is controlling the waves, and what is the event. Put in a stupidly simplistic manner we might say that the waves are controlled and are themselves capital and the event is the Singularity. Hell, this is old hat, you can delve further if you like, I recommend the early NCRAP Lectures with Land.

So what does this make Z/Acc if acceleration is inherently temporally based. It makes it god-awful. A strange theorization of stagnation within a theory which is ever moving. Z/Acc seen from a layman’s point of view would be the immanentization of Gnon into the schema of man, let’s bring the attitude of Gnon to the fore and witness his apathy in relation to ‘Accelerative-man’. It’s tough to really talk of stagnation in a way appropriate for what springs to mind when I think of Z/Acc. Hell, perhaps Land said it best when he mentioned that the ‘Z’ of Z/Acc can quite aptly be replaced with ‘Zombie’. Let’s talk this hellish future of zombified, zero acceleration!

“and the story of the boy who cried wolf has two additional morals not often remembered: first, the wolves were real; second, they ended up eating the sheep.” – Greer, ‘The Twelfth Hour’.

In fact let’s begin with something Greer is very keen on bringing to the fore and something he expounds upon in great detail within his book The Long Descent (here) – a book which acts as a Z/Acc primer of its own, so let’s begin not with any external specifics acting upon civilization, but the inherent mistake civilization makes of itself, catabolic collapse:

Catabolic Collapse – in short:

Firstly, the classical collapse. Societies – according to Tainter (1988) – begin to break down once they reach a certain level of complexity, that level is such wherein a decrease in complexity would yield benefits to society. This is where acceleration stops, by the way. Each breakdown in social complexity leads to fragmentation into a lesser form of complexity, society becomes simpler as it breaks down. This is the traditional form of collapse, largely sociopolitical. Now one could argue that accelerating the process here would allow for the actualization of a patchwork of micro-states, many – or a few – of which would be able to create for themselves an accelerative society.

So what of catabolic collapse, “The theory of catabolic collapse, explains the breakdown of complex societies as the result of self-reinforcing cycle of decline driven by interactions among resources, capital, production, and waste.” (Greer, How Civilizations Fail)

Don’t tell those optimistic techno-capitalists, but feedback-loops work the other way too.

Resources (R): Naturally occurring exploitable resources (Iron ores etc),

Capital (C): Factors incorporated into the flow of society’s energy (Tools, food, labour, social capital etc.)

Waste (W): Fully exploited material that has no further use.

Production (P): Capital (C) and Resources (R) are combined to create new Capital (C) and Waste (W)

So from these constants (which are very simplistic as a means for ease of understanding this) we can begin to outline basic states of a civilization:

Steady state (SSv1): New capital from production to equal waste from production and capital [ C(p) = W(p) + W(c)] = SSv1

C(p) = New capital produced = W(p) existing capital converted to waste in the production of new capital inclusive of W(c) existing capital converted to waste outside of production. W(p) and W(c) is M(p), maintenance production. M(p) maintains capital stocks at existing levels. So:

SSv2 = [C(p) = M(p)]

In the absence of growth limitation capital can consistently be brought into the production process, making this process self-reinforcing, so, SSv2 = The Expansion of the USA during the 19th century. This self-reinforcing process may be called an anabolic cycle. It’s limited by two factors that tend to limit increases in C(p): Firstly resources which are finite, and as such have a ‘replenishment rate’ (r) or [r(R)]. This replenishment rate is largely due to natural processes and out of man’s control, leading into the Law of Diminishing Returns. Also these resources r(R) have a rate of use by society [d(R)] and the relationship between d(R) and r(R) is a core element of the process of catabolic collapse.

Resources used d(R) faster than their replenishment rate r(R) become depleted: d(R)/r(R)>i. This resource must be replaced by capital to sustain maintenance and as such the demand for capital increases exponentially as d(R) and r(R) both simultaneously increase. And so, unless you live in a society with unlimited resources, or resources that have unlimited replenishment (You don’t.) then C(p) cannot increase indefinitely because d(R) will eventually exceed r(R), society will use more shit than it has, basically. You can go a little further with r(R), because the processes of society are always reliant on the minimum resource, this is known as Liebig’s law.

Resource depletion – as shown above – is the first factor in overcoming the momentum of an anabolic cycle. The second is the relationship between capital and waste. M(p) rises and W(c) rises in proportion to total capital, alongside the fact that as M(p) rises, C(p) also rises as increased production requires increased capital – self-reinforcing – and this of course increases W(p). One must utilize these when studying the end of anabolic societal cycles wherein a civilization has two choices.

Choice 1: is SSv1.1: C(p) = M(p) and d(R) r(R) for every economically significant resource. We could call this Sustainable Steady State – Man not being silly. (I am avoiding here how to bring this about via societal controls, it’s not my aim.)

Choice 2: ACC-Sv1: Accelerative State V1: Accelerate the intake of resources through military conquest, innovation of techno-capital etc. (Accelerate the process). This of course increases both W(p) and W(c), which go on to further increase M(p). This means only one thing, a society that wishes to remain anabolic must expand its resource base at an ever-increasing rate to keep C(p) from dropping below M(p). If society fails to achieve this ever-increasing rate then it enters into contraction: nC(p) < M(p). Meaning capital cannot be maintained and is converted into waste, populations begin to decline, disintegration of social organizations, societal fragmentation and decentralization, loss of information. These societies can return to SSv1.1 if they bring d(R) back below r(R). But what is they do this…this: [d(R)/r(R) > 1]. That, right there, is the most simple way of explaining the majority of civilization’s problems, that means that M(p) exceeds C(p) and capital can no longer be maintained, resources deplete etc. This eventually results in the catabolic cycle of self-reinforcement in which C(p) stays below M(p) whilst both decline. C(p) approaches zero whilst capital is converted to waste.

(Once again, this is largely from John Michael Greer’s How Civilizations Fail: A Theory of Catabolic Collapse.)

And there you have it, the basics of collapse. That’s excluding the general ignorance, stupidity and arrogance of humanity and other societal defects, but by and large that’s the route in which we create our own demise. There’s of course other factors effected by us which I shall list a few of, but the theory of catabolic collapse is central to the Z/Acc debate in terms of accelerationist theory. The average time it takes for a society/civilization to collapse is 250 years by the way, so don’t fall into the trap of thinking you’re safe.

So what of Z/Acc here. I think it’s a fairly simple task to materially understand how stagnation will happen within a civilization now, however, does this have much to do with the temporal theory of acceleration? It certainly throws into the air questions with regards to the means of which capital wishes to propagate its longevity and continuation. Perhaps a hegemonic, global method of control simply isn’t appropriate. Ever feel like you’re in a giant test-kit for capital? Well, perhaps capital now wishes to downscale into a microcosm of intelligence wherein production is acceleration focused. The tendrils of future capital are hitting against unexpected d(R), fucking humans and their robotic Santa toys. [Systems of] Capital is generally ignorant of the finite. And so a proposal would be to retain humanity within smaller and smaller microcosms of M(p) as a means to have greater control over d(R) and W. Z/Acc is the reset button, except pressing it to completion takes roughly 250-1000 years.

The Myths We Tell Ourselves:

I wrote about this further in my post Greer’s Future, but in short:

However, there’s another very specific idea that invades Greer’s work consistently. Often directly, but more often it sits quietly at the sidelines, smirking at its own reality. And this is Greer’s almost a priori notion that civilizations collapse, end, stop-being etc. With Greer the possibility for anything to end is always possible. This seems quite obvious, right? Well, not so. People hate to think that even their most luxurious comforts – ones that have always been around – would cease to be. So why would they even start to believe in a world where the basics will become a struggle?

Also specific to the Greerian reality is the fact that semantically collapse is quite commonly mistaken for an instantaneous event. This is quite simply wrong, in fact, it’s so wrong it exists solely in the realms of escapism and quasi-romanticism. No wonder the amount of post-apocalyptic media has increased in recent years, I mean what other generation(s) yearn for a reset button more than those who’ve been promised so much and allowed so little. Media such as Fallout, Mad Max, The 100, The Walking Dead etc aren’t truly horror, not really, for the simply fact that humans are still around and not only are they doing fine, they’re actually doing quite well and in someways progressing in healthier directions that their previous societies. And so at heart all these programs, games etc. is – at the very least – optimism, but also a perception of time in relation to collapse which is simply wrong. We think of ‘collapse’ as the collapse of a table or chair, a quick successive tumble of parts, yet once that which is collapsing grows in complexity (a civilization for instance) then the process of collapse becomes far, far longer. Emphasis on process here, the process of collapse will see chunks of civilization fly of and attempt to be replaced or repaired in relation to their previous standard, slowly but surely everything sort of disintegrates at such a rate that those living within it only notice the stark difference in conditions years later.

The myth we tell ourselves is deeply routed in modes of binary thinking of black and white, wrong and right etc.. A mode of thinking that’s ever-growing in society. It’s the difference between apocalypse and SSv1 (Steady state society), we’re either fine, or it’s all over. We’re never simply descending into chaos, things never truly get worse it seems because we’re always replacing the ‘worse’, smothering it with some new form of innovation that makes it look better. The myth we tell ourselves in everyday life are along these lines:

They’ll think of something…”

The world’s fucked, everyone knows that, better to not think about it.”

“It wont be that bad…”

And on and on with your dull co-workers, the equivalent of putting your fingers in your ears and shouting “La la la la la la!” whilst food prices rise, death tolls rise, roads aren’t repaired, certain trees and species die etc.

Here is a list of apocalyptic predictions. There’s something which connects all these in relation to their understanding of collapse and apocalypse. The date can be plotted on a chart, it’s an instantaneous event. That’s the myth. We’d love for that to happen. If everything changes all at once then we only have to deal with those consequences, not the ones we’re within right now. The inverse or this, is the myth of progress, which can aptly be assimilated onto Christian eschatology:

“Over the last three centuries or so, Christianity’s influence on the Western intellect has crumpled beneath the assaults of scientific materialism, but no mythology has yet succeeding in outing it from its place in the Western imagination. The result has been a flurry of attempts to rehash Christian myth under other, more materialistic names. The mythology of progress is itself one examples of this sort of secondhand theology. Marxism is another, and most of the more recent myths of apocalypse reworked the Christian narrative along the same lines that Marx did, swapping out the economic concepts Marx imported to the myth for some other set of ideas more appealing to them or more marketable to the public.” – Greer, The Long Descent

Peak Oil:

Peak oil is the theorized point in time when the maximum rate of extraction of petroleum is reached, after which it is expected to enter terminal decline. Peak oil theory is based on the observed rise, peak, fall, and depletion of aggregate production rate in oil fields over time. It is often confused with oil depletion; however, whereas depletion refers to a period of falling reserves and supply, peak oil refers to the point of maximum production. (Hubbert peak theory)

 

Z/Acc Externals I: Climate

Long Term Effects of Increased Carbon Dioxide. (I and II)

Planetary Vital SignsNASA

Climate Change Summary – Guy McPherson

Collapse Data Cheat SheetLoki’s Revenge

Soil and Water RealitiesLoki’s Revenge

Tech vs Climate ChangeYale Environment

The Myth of Solar Energy – Liam Scheff

Wind and Solar Will Save Us DelusionOur Finite World

Renewable Energy Wont Save UsFuturism

2018 Warmest Year on RecordScience

Renewable Delusion Lecture – Dr Vaclav Smil

 

Z/Acc Externals II: Attitude

Human Optimism Disallows the Reality of ApocalypseNature Neuroscience

The Myth of ProgressDo The Math

Extinction Anxiety – Carolyn Baker

The Telltale Signs of Imperial Decline – Charles Hugh Smith

Reality Denial and Optimism – Chris Hedges

The American DreamDoomstead Diner

Overworked Peasants – more C(p) needed for M(p) – Business Insider

 

Z/Acc Externals III: Economics

Great Depression 2.0Press Herald

Global Bear Market 2019CNBC

Corporate Buybacks Feedback LoopCNBC

Germany RecessionBusiness Insider

Paycheck-to-paycheck Living Increasingly CommonThe Inquirer

£1.5 Trillion in Student DebtNewsrep

Slow Growth ChinaThe Guardian

UK Financial CrisisThe Week

Yield Curve First InversionBloomberg

Price Rises in U.S.France24

 

Z/Acc Reading List:

Fundamentals of Ecology – Eugene P. Odum (Or any basic textbook on ecology.)

The Limits to Growth  – Dennis Meadows, Donella Meadows, Jørgen Randers, and William W. Behrens III

Overshoot – William R. Catton Jr.

The Decline of the West – Oswald Spengler

A Study of History (Abridged) – Arnold Toynbee

Where the Wasteland Ends – Theodore Roszak

Collapse Now and Avoid the Rush – John Michael Greer

The Long Descent

Dark Age America

Retro Future

The Collapse of Complex Societies – Joseph Tainter

 

 

 

The Genealogy of Foucault’s Numeric Power Structures – Man Under Number

The Genealogy of Foucault’s Numeric Power Structures – Man Under Number

By Meta-Nomad

Essay constructed whilst listening to Röyksopp’s Senior – here, listen.

PDF Link for easier reading.

 

Introduction

In this essay I primarily use Michel Foucault’s text The Birth of Biopolitics (2010) to extrapolate and theorize on the socio-economic genealogy that is created after the Enlightenment. I propose that distinctive to the process of the Enlightenment was a fundamental cultural shift towards the assimilation of number into every facet of man’s life. My task is not to ask ‘Why?’ this new numeric culture arose, nor ‘Why?’. My sole task is to analyze the full economic, social and political genealogy it gives rise to in relation to man’s understanding of himself. I shall note that the genealogy itself is theoretically auto-catalytic (as shown by Fig 1), as such the linearity of the essay is continually reliant on the extrapolation of a previous section. As such I have written this essay in such a way as to expound upon that which I believe to be the largest ‘macro’ first (the culture of number) and continued genealogically through to the smallest ‘micro’ (man as homo-economicus). Though there is a quasi-hierarchical relation between the influence of some parts of the genealogy upon others parts, no part can exist without any other, as such the structure of the text acts only an illusory form of cohesion in relation to that which is ceaselessly auto-catalyzing between systems, structures, institutions, temporalities, cultures and frameworks.

(Fig 1 – The Auto-catalytic Nature of Modernity’s Numeric Genealogy)

 

Man’s Maturation and Enlightened Numeric Systems.

This essay’s respective ‘parts’ form a cohesion in relation to the maturation of man [1]. This process of maturation is inherently connected to time, it is a temporal process, one matures over time. The key ‘era’ of man’s maturation, in inherent distinction to others, according to Kant (Kant, 1784) was the ‘dawn’ of the Enlightenment. A process beginning with the 16th (Foucault, 2000, p307) century and continuing through to the early 19th. A process which has become synonymous with the arrival/birth of modernity (Ibid, p303-304, 309). The Enlightenment is a process situated within history, from which “Man puts his reason to use” (Ibid, p308). To utilize his reason, his human reason as a form of exit from the authoritarian and theological structures of the Other (Ibid, p306) that dominated the thought of the subject prior. To understand the world within man’s own cognitive capacity, this is what is meant by critique (Ibid, p305); the Enlightenment is the dawn of anthro-limit-acceptance. The systematic modification of will, authority and reason (Ibid, p305) that takes place within the Enlightenment is a distinctly temporal form of maturation – “because illumination takes time” (Land, 2013), linked to an ongoing histo-cultural process. Epistemologically locked to the changes taking place within said process. There was a darkness and calculation – as I will show – lead man to the En(Light)enment. The grammatical focus on the singular notion of an Enlightenment confusingly removes it from its true nature as process, a process within a larger process of techno-capital which it helps/allows to birth. Inherent to the system of the Enlightenment is a historical and numerical overlap which allows man to fully mature, the historical and systematic roots of which I shall now begin to pull up.

To state that the process of the Enlightenment is at its core historically and culturally mathematical would be the understatement, with regard to not only history, but to man’s nature and ‘nature’ in general – as I shall show further on. The proto-process of the Enlightenment begins much earlier that the 16th century, Crosby notes the process begins – less systematically – in the 13th century (Crosby, 1996). Yet full scale numeric-cultural assimilation of which is the focus of the this essay doesn’t arrive until the 16th century. From then on its arrival is so militaristic one wonders where numbers do not pry: Military textbooks (Ibid, p6), mathematical clocks (Ibid, p19), abacus’ (Ibid, p112), roman numerals (Ibid, p115), Mercantilism (Porter,T,M, 1986, p20), Malthusianism (Ibid, p26), Victorian social policy (Ibid, p30-31), standardization of measurements and time (Porter,T,M, 1996. p29, 93, 207, 224). The physics of Kepler, Galileo, Descartes and Newton, Stevin’s decimalist fractions (1585), Napier’s logarithms (1614), Fermat (1636) and Descartes’ (1637) geometry, Leibniz (1684) and Newton’s (1687) calculus and so on (see secondary bibliography on Enlightenment texts). As I previously stated in the introduction, my task is not to theorize the how or why the numeric cultural methods became so prevalent within the process of the Enlightenment, but to ask what these new numeric methods/attitudes do to man, how they alter man. What happens to the ‘homo sapiens’ when systematically introduced to number. That of man’s maturation under number? For a thorough analysis of this I turn to Foucault’s Birth of Biopolitics (2010).

A continually self-aggrandizing numeric process/culture which begins and succeeds in applying and parasitically assimilating number, math, calculation and quantification onto and into every facet of society. Number and limit convert man’s most basic and fundamental actions from subject oriented actions of the ‘immature’ self into economic possibilities: growth, gain, loss, limit, production and profit etc. The aforementioned numeric and mathematical events taking place within the Enlightenment convert society into a culture of the abacus, of ones and zeroes, pluses and minuses, controlled by chronic, linear time; “Modernity is often situated on a calendar” (Foucault, M, 2000. p309) notes Foucault and yet one struggles to rigorously select the dates unto which we can say ‘modernity’ precisely takes place. However, one can say that without modernity calendars cease existence, at least in our current systematic understanding of them. Calendric culture is modernity, a grid-like structure atop the world locking culture into smaller and smaller parcels and units of time. The calendar is the metaphor for modernity, a thorough process of temporal atomization unto which one can easily control the minute boxes are produced from it. A time built for control, from mathematical means of control. Firstly, the newfound numeric culture must assimilate into the ‘macro’ as a means to alter the ‘micro’; society first, only then to man.

 

Assimilating the Attitude of Modernity into Society

The numeric attitude of modernity aforementioned, complete with its assimilation of reasoned, mature, calculable limit into every facet of life shall forthwith be called ‘the attitude of modernity’. This attitude – for reasons I expand upon later – exists everywhere, and so, to get to the question of this essay, namely ‘man’, I must follow the constitutive parts of a numeric genealogy which begin their journey as the formation/creation of the synonymy of society and economy, and from there onward affect man more directly and purposefully. Yet one must extrapolate on that which man is within and in some sense being molded by before attending to the singular unit of man himself, he exists roughly at the ‘end’ of a genealogy: Number, economy, state and finally man.

Once the attitude of modernity infects society the task of society fundamentally changes, due to its newfound utilization and reliance on number and thus numeric/economic systems. This newfound raison d’Etat has at its core a critique of the ‘art of governance’ inherently connected with number (Foucault, M, 2010. p6), for the understanding of ‘limit’ is not possible without a coherent ‘lesser’ or ‘greater’, a mode of thinking made available by number. As such government begins to understand itself in relation to its own limitations and precisely because of this self-understanding it can begin to place itself within and enter into competitive frameworks, as well as this government also begins to understand its own internal limits and begins to regulate where it deems fit. Both the external mode of competition and internal mode of regulation are made possible by alterations both in communal/societal understanding of limit via numeric education and nature (later). This raison D’etat which takes the form of “internal limitation of governmental reason” (Ibid, p13) – or perhaps, ‘the maturation of government’ – is made possible by the arrival of ‘political economy’ (itself arriving synchronously with the numeric attitude) – “a method of government that can procure the nation’s prosperity” (Ibid, p13). Political economy in its mutual utilization of the attitude of modernity acts as governmental reflection (which was previously based upon morals, theology or law) ground down to ones and zeros, positives and negatives of wealth, value and capital (Ibid, p15). From this form of epistemological and governmental legitimacy wherein profit is ‘correct’ (Ibid, p14) “the economy produces the legitimacy of the state – the economy creates public law” (Ibid, p84), for law need only be tailored towards – the same now for everything else in society – the growth of the economy in relation to the nation. And so there is a ‘permanent genealogy of the state from the economic institution” (Ibid, p84) the actions of society become the actions for the growth of the economy and so succinctly, society becomes equal to economy.

To continue with this exposition of genealogy in the direction of man I must reach back to where I began. The attitude of modernity makes the society within its clutches understand itself in relation to its own attitude and epistemological legitimization of economic growth. All that is macro (society & state) or micro (man) is assimilated into the controlled signification of society now synonymous with economy, as noted by Foucault:

The economy produces political signs that enable structures, mechanisms of justification and power to function – the free market, the economically free-market, binds and manifests political bonds.” (Ibid, p85).

This form of economic positive-feedback-loop creation is genealogically bound to the economy – the creation itself made possible by the maturation of man. The positive feedback loop of the economy is reliant on material agents who understand and make intelligible its system (men) to feed its growth-directed abacus. Man’s economic choices within this economic loop compound into a single choice, the choice for the continuation of the economy beneath him. This is the only societal choice if one is to utilize the logic expounded previously: A nation’s prosperity is in relation to the growth of the economy, arguably the average man wishes for the betterment of his nation and in turn himself (from his nation), as such the purpose of man – survival, betterment, wellbeing[2] – becomes equal to attending to and helping the economic growth of the/his state/nation. For what now exists outside of the economy is now also outside of society and as such struggles, due to lack of institutional support networks, to survive. Man’s remaining options are to attend to the expansion of the economy or beg for scraps external to all systems. The attitude of modernity is a parasite infecting both at an individual and social level as to legitimize growth-as-wellbeing via intelligible mechanisms, and so, for man to improve his wellbeing he understands via signification produced by the economy that he must improve the growth of the economy – his ‘purpose’ has been replaced with a clearer economic purpose, his material meaning fulfilled, but what of his nature?

 

Nature and Political Economy

Political economy has arrived, as such the fundamental notions of nature, society and economy and man have changed, and so the state has inherently altered and modified into a system that mutates governmental practice into an economic entity – “Political economy [a] method of government that can procure prosperity.” (Ibid, p13). To prosper, to grow and to profit. Political economy is the numeric reflection of governmental policy via its economic effects and choices. This socio-economic abacus of political economy reveals [3] the intelligible mechanisms (Ibid, p15) of the economy. Mechanisms that once revealed can be taken by government into a loop of creation and utilization, to alter and direct their mode of governance in relation to a personal ideology. To chain the flow of capital towards a humanist venture. For the mechanisms cannot be avoided (Ibid, p15), and so are to be directed – which is considered by Foucault to be to the detriment of the free-market (Ibid, p116) – or are simply to be left alone, to be [a] free [market]. These mechanisms become nature via their synonymous actions alongside the attitude of modernity. Numeric attitudes allow such mechanisms an actuality via cultural assimilation of the means of understanding the mechanisms (mathematical education). This in turn assimilates into the collective engagement of society and government – “The notion of nature will thus be transformed with the appearance of political economy.” (Ibid, p15).

If we’re to take Foucault at his word when he states “Nature is something that runs under, through, and in the exercise of governmentality.” (Ibid, p16) then it follows that the reveal of political economy, and political economy itself is natural – for political economy is merely a modification of governance in relation to cultural progression maturation and alteration. There is no mutation in/of nature, we have simply revealed a further part of its form. The attitude of modernity as parasite in accordance with the political economy adheres to the previous culture of society/man and directs it via assimilation with mathematics towards a new form of natural behaviour in-keeping with the modern attitude. Number begets number via parasitic invasion of man’s being, allowing man to enter into the epistemological framework which reveres markets as signifier of truth.

Further investigation with regards to man’s ‘new’ natural reality of political economy is paramount to understanding his new being. For within man’s ‘new’ nature – now simply ‘nature’ – the choice of taxes at a politically economic level is a now simply a question of growth in relation to the state within which that political economy exists, does doing X to Y result in growth. The competitive essence of growth quashes archaic modes of ‘right & wrong’ via the assimilation of the attitude of modernity into every facet of man’s praxis. From (new) nature man now understands his purpose in relation to growth, and so all his actions are to be taken and made in relation to growth. Truth, for man, now lies solely – within a free-market capitalist mode of economy – within the potential for national prosperity, itself connected to the ‘regime of truth’ (Ibid, p19) connected to government via natural signification – “the site of truth is the market” (Ibid, p30). From this complex interwoven process of maturation via number, agents, economy, state and markets arises a norm. A mode of societal and governmental normitivity arises from the black unknowability of all economic processes. Man’s new mode of being – political economy as society aside – is to adhere/revere the normative, calculating, reasoned and epistemologically numerical economic mode of being, itself arisen from the secular domain of economy. Nature now runs through government as a mode of economic truth, an individual and collective mode of being made possible by the process of the Enlightenment’s maturation being synonymous with the assimilation of numerical attitudes into culture. This ‘mode of being’, for man, is to be ‘homo-economicus’.

 

Becoming Homo-Economicus

But what of ‘man’ within this new reality, this ‘new’ nature? He too synchronously changes alongside and with the nature of the collective. Man transforms, he modifies into ‘economic-man’, ‘human-capital’, homo-economicus. This modification of ‘man’ happens not only at a sociological, political and economic level, but also more fundamentally at the level of identity, at the level of his very definition. Foucault notes the history of the Latin word for man – homo, e.g. homosapien – during the process of the Enlightenment (Ibid, p250). During which the abstract integration of ‘man’ (homo) into external systems of cultural, societal and – eventually – economic relation takes place – homo-penalis & homo-criminalis are two clear examples (Ibid, p250). Throughout the process of the Enlightenment, man’s maturation, the singular subject ‘man’ loses his state as subject-as-island, separate from systems, sovereignty and economics, he begins to become inherently integrated into the modern attitude itself via semantic means. A man who is a criminal is a criminal-man, a new singular semantic judgement. Yet more importantly, for not all men are criminals – all men are now, or have the capacity to be calculating, man’s critical future neologism as homo-economicus, economic-man is locked into the modern attitude of calculation, which itself is locked into the ‘new’ form of nature. Man’s assimilation into this new economic reality is made whole by this creation of a neologistic combination of biology and economy. The cultural integration of number infects man and makes possible his new, inherent tether to the economy. The process of the Enlightenment, the maturation process paves the way for his becoming-economic. If man is now to be, he must be economic, he must be homo-economicus.

“The homo-economicus sought after is not the man of exchange or man the consumer; he’s the man of enterprise and production.” (Ibid, p147). However, with regard to “enterprise and production”, Foucault does not believe this fundamental shift within the subject of man makes him merely a puppet of capital, pulled by larger, unseen economic forces. It places him within and of an inescapable and unknowable whole of economics which, as atomized homo-economicus, he now becomes within due to to his newfound intelligible abilities in relation to economic mechanisms, themselves in relation to the political economy. Homo-economicus is entirely a becoming, a temporal length of maturation in relation to his understanding and assimilation into the numeric/economic framework. This process of assimilating the attitude of modernity into man begins at birth. A child is human capital (p228). It is a maturation directed at the potential for future economic output, a numeric maturation. The capital that is a ‘young human/infant’ is thrown into a temporal framework of limitation in relation to the epistemological legitimacy of market processes at that current time: Age, intelligence, investment, health, family and future possibilities all act in relation to the potential of this atomized homo-economicus to supply the state with growth. Their only other option is to de-tether from the economy and risk death.

Man, for Foucault, throughout this entire process undergoes as complex change & modification – if not more so – as state and society, due to assumptions surrounding his own being and ‘subject’ itself being eroded. The new reality – nature – I previously wrote of is foremost ‘accepted’ by man, “The nature of human nature is to be historical, because the nature of human nature is to be social. There is no human nature which is separable from the very fact of society.” (Ibid, p299). Such a newfound reality/nature works upon man in way of altering the very definition of his being, modifying and directing his being into alternate pathways made available by number. During the maturation period – the Enlightenment – the concept of ‘man’ began its own semantic journey into critique, flirting with systems of its own creation – law, criminality and now economy – in ways never previously experienced. Viewing these systems not as external modifications and alterations to a (whole) self, but as internal mutations of the self into a new form of self. Man becomes criminal-man (homo-criminalis), and in the context of this essay man becomes economic-man (homo-economicus). One must understand that this acceptance of nature anew is man situated “in an indefinite field of immanence – linking him to a series of accidents. [See fig 1], linking him to production, to others – a doubly involuntary situation.” (Ibid, p277). Situated in a field of non-totalizable economic immanence, a field he partakes in via economic choice in relation to society via intelligible mechanisms, yet e only does so in an atomized manner. Such a reality is acceptance of life as an atomized conduit for Smith’s invisible hand. It is a life “in the dark [wherein] the blindness of all economic agents [men] [is] are absolute necessity.” (Ibid, p279). Foucault’s allusion to state-subject collapse in lieu of economic becoming is extreme, yet realistic in relation to man’s own limit. Man must remain blind to the totality of economic process for if he sees he risks vision of society as limitrophe of zero, of society & state-as-economy as teetering on top of a complex abacus of illusory numeric supports [4].

Man’s place within and of these supports is succinctly extrapolated by Foucault (Ibid, p84-85). Man is allowed by the institution – in relation to its merit now intelligible via number – to spend and act, simply because the institution wishes them to do so; it is in their interest to allow agents of the economy (man) freedom. It allows them with this freedom to state it is right to give them such a freedom – an epistemological loop of economic legitimization. Such actions/freedoms of man are always in relation to growth/loss etc, itself made intelligible by the epistemology of the market, and so man’s freedoms become legitimized via the regime of the market. As such, from the underlying epistemology of the economy via the intelligibility of the market comes the legitimization of all of man’s actions in relation to production, a consensus of production is produced by that which wants production – the economy. Within this positive feedback loop of human-wellbeing assimilated into the epistemological legitimization of production man becomes an agent of the economic process itself, from this loop man becomes homo-economicus, he becomes a partner of exchange (Foucault, M. 2010, p226) and as such a partner in the production of economic and political consensus via political signification made possible by intelligible market processes, (Ibid, p85) in tacit relation to the continual growth of runaway capital.

 

There is moments wherein man attempts reversion to his previous natural ‘state’, where he attempts to cordon or direct the free market economy, often resulting in detrimental effects (Ibid, p116) – these attempts are acts of competition in relation to internal and external limits. The market is pure competition (Ibid, p121) and so acts of limitation with regard to competition are anti-free-market, to regulate the economy is to regulate truth, to regulate nature. So if the market is left alone the remaining economic representation is the epistemologically (numerically) legitimized truthful vision of societal demands and desires, or else, if regulated, it is the signifier of ideology. This form of societal signifiers is synonymous with the arrival of political economy, itself synonymous with the arrival of homo-economicus.Both forming a complex whole, the existence of which is only possible on the condition of the existence of the aforementioned economized institutional framework of the state (Ibid, p163). Their adherence to the state is adherence to historical economic attitudes, or the attitude of modernity works within an institution to materialize a numeric-based power structure.

 

Temporal Power Structures

And yet, the seemingly bleak future for homo-economicus is tethered to a secondary means of control which has thus far only been hinted at with regard to its importance. This means of control is more complex in a far subtler way, the means itself is simple temporality and the realities it imposes on humans (mortality, health, productive output etc.). Yet at all junctures within both the process of maturation and the fully-fledged becoming of homo-economicus temporality is utilized by the economy via governmentality as a means for control. Before listing the simple/obvious practical means of control, I shall extrapolate on further ways in which temporality works synergistically with capital as a means of power over man. As I stated at the beginning of the essay one must not remove emphasis of the word ‘process’ in relation to maturation and the Enlightenment, this method of thinking about power must also be applied to the economy, for the economic processes unto which man is now befallen are equally forms of temporality, they are processes and at their core are actions of time. To paraphrase Foucault: the formalization of economic mechanisms and processes only exist in history (Ibid, p163) – there has to have been time for formalization to take place, no economy is a temporal moment/present. Not only do economic processes only exist and enact within history and time, but they also – within a numerical culture such as the one homo-economicus inhabits – use and utilize time as a means of control, as an economic means in itself. Foucault notes that the “economic reality of capitalism” we’re dealing with is “a singular figure in which economic processes and institutions call on each other, modify and shape each other in ceaseless reciprocity.” (Ibid, p164). Capitalism is a process of processes, “Capital is essentially /capitals/ at war among themselves.” – (Land, N. 2018, p1370). This ceaseless modification is ceaseless diversions of temporality attuning man’s life-cycle to a lesser or greater mode of profitability in relation to time. Each cross referenced via intelligible mechanisms to cater to its – capital’s – own impenetrable longevity. This history of ceaseless reciprocity, or history of economic histories “can only be an economic-institutional history.” (Ibid, p164). The overlooked factor in relation to the reality of man here is – surprisingly, with regard to Foucault – the temporal element. History, not only as supposed linear narrative of consistent economic growth or loss plotted upon a linear timescale, but also capital’s utilization of its own understanding of temporality used alongside and with the numeric attitude assimilated into man as a controller of homo-economicus. Capital utilizes temporality as a means to reinforce its fundamental social policy, growth (Ibid, p144), such a policy that is only possible via time. Capital is to utilize the temporality of man as a means of productive output, as a further means towards the best possible use of resources as an even further means towards growth. Capital takes man’s true limit and resource, time, and uses it for its own gain. Man has been systematically immanentized into the auto-catalytic schema of capital as human-capital, as part of the system himself, he is “one of the two partners of exchange in the process of exchange.” (Ibid, p225). Once man partakes – usually unwillingly – in the attitude of modernity he becomes human-capital and as such becomes – a form of – capital. A process in himself to be understood and modified by capitalism. The maturation of man during the “Western economic take off in the sixteenth and seventeenth century – Was it not due precisely to the existence of an accumulation, an accelerated accumulation, of human capital?” (Ibid, p232). This was indeed a physical accumulation of human capital, but at heart it was the accumulation of contained time as an investment in mechanisms of growth. Such an accelerative effect of accumulation was directly made possible by the assimilation of all human-capital onto an economic plane via numeric education.

Without the process of maturation, inclusive of the historic/cultural integration of number into society, man’s understanding of himself would have taken a drastic, unknowable turn…or perhaps he would have remained within a world wherein his understanding of his own ‘time’, lifespan and temporality would not coincide with number. However, the process of maturation did – or had – to arrive alongside the assimilation of mathematical education, for understanding one’s own limit is not possible with a numeric spine, as such the means of control of which the economy may utilize are larger and more intrusive.

As for the physical, practical ways in which the political economy, the economy, capital controls homo-economicus… in which it creates a power structure, I turn once again to time. Hours, minutes, seconds, linear/successive time, hours worked, rate of production, productive output, clocking-in-and-out, growth, decay, profit, loss, holidays, pensions, hourly salary, yearly salary, overtime, bonuses, years of service, dividends, bonds, stocks, bankruptcy, taxes, tax breaks, distance traveled to work and pay per hour. Each of these is made societally universal via the assimilation of the attitude of modernity into every facet of life, as well as each being uniquely connected to time via its own method of temporal control. Each of these – and many more – are actions of the aforementioned “ceaseless reciprocity” (Ibid, p164) of capitalism. They are modifications and alterations of the temporal lifespan of homo-economicus as a means towards greater productivity and growth. Not only does man have to be numeric, but his very temporal being is split, allocated and allotted as a means towards profit. The labor of profit is primarily man, and a mistake is made in relation to understanding profit as solely a monetary venture. Money is simply the signifier of the value allotted to the time worked within a particular context, by a particular human. ‘Time is money’ takes on literal significance in relation to money being the most common intelligible mechanism with regards to understanding growth. And so, the homo-economicus has a lifespan unique to its being, which from birth is for use by capital for capital “if capital is that which makes future income possible, then capital is inseparable from the person who possesses it.” (Ibid, p224). Under capitalism, capital makes future income possible, meaning that capital makes the future possible, for now the future cannot exist without being a continuation of the growth directed system of capitalism. The system of capitalism understands the economy in relation to homo-economicus as allotments of time, “the more we move towards an economic state, the more paradoxically the constitutional bond of civil society is weakened and the man the individual is isolated by the economic bond he has with everyone and anyone.” (Ibid, p303). The system of capitalism utilized the assimilation of number as a means to temporally atomize man into becoming an individual economic and temporal unit, perfect for utilizing with regard to exchange and production, each man their very own test-kit for capital. The attitude of modernity was thus the launch pad for capitalism to become a hegemonic, cosmic, numeric entity. Forcing men into semantic deaths of the self via institutionalized inescapable connections with the system itself. The parasitic structure of capital is such that the parasite exists in time, with time, and moves from host to host using their time – via practical, economic means – as a way to prolong its own existence, for the sake of its own existence.

 

Conclusion

Capital is an abstract parasite, an insatiable vampire and zombie-maker; but the living flesh it converts into dead labor is ours, and the zombies it makes are us.” (Fisher, M. 2009, p15)

If we’re to follow the genealogical thread of number through to man, one comes to the bleak conclusion expounded upon quite heavily by Fisher in Capitalist Realism. The process unconsciously undertaken during the Enlightenment unleashed the vampiric means of capital. Careful attention to Fisher’s notion of vampiric capital however reveals one salient point, there is, supposedly, life-after-capital. You have become a zombified partner of exchange in relation to a large unknowable whole, yet you are still in control of your flesh, whether or not it is being eroded by the process of capital, used up by it. As I have shown the ‘abstract parasite’ of capital is so fundamentally tethered to a numeric-reality that expunging it from one’s system is, in reality, a temporally gigantic task. Global educational reversion towards a world of quality, away from quantity would be the task for those who intend to detach from capital. Foucault’s overlooked factor in relation to man not-becoming-capital-puppetry is his omission of the ways in which capital utilizes intelligible mechanisms as a way to justify its own reality, as the only reality. “If escape into capitalism isn’t the escape you want, then modern history is not for you.” (Land, N. 2018). If the maturation process, the ‘exit’ Kant spoke of is inherently bound to the attitude of modernity then there is no exit from capital, there is only existence within its self-selected direction. The conclusion of the genealogy expounded upon by Foucault, in relation to man, is that he is free to exist within the flow and process of capital, he may bare his flesh only in acknowledgement of capital.

 

Endnotes

[1] Though the process of man’s maturation with respect to Kant and Foucault could easily be deserving of its own essay, it is included here due to its unavoidability in relation to the topics discussed within and its connection throughout, as such it is expounded upon here as minorly as needs be, for this essay isn’t directly concerned with the Kantian aspect of the Enlightenment’s historical influence.

[2] I shall not argue the purpose or meaning of man’s life here, for I am taking it as a given via The Birth of Biopolitics that man directs himself towards personal wellbeing.

[3] Note that throughout The Birth of Biopolitics Foucault uses strictly Heideggerian language – specifically ‘reveal’ – as the way in which he understand the processes of economy. If one continues this thought, it seems applicable that the natural processes of economy were there all along.

[4]“The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents.” (Lovecraft, H.P., 2014, p381) Lovecraft’s notion that pure cognitive correlation is     horrifically synonymous with the place in which man himself with regards to the reality of economic position, for him to see the ‘whole’ of the economy, is for him to correlate existence and time.

 

Bibliography

Crosby, A (1996) The Measure of Reality: Quantification and Western Society, 1250-1600. Cambridge, New York and Melbourne: Cambridge University Press.

Fisher, M. (2009) Capitalism Realism: Is There no Alternative? John Hunt Publishing.

Foucault, M (2000) Ethics: Essential Works of Foucault 1954-1984. Penguin Books, London.

Foucault, M. (2010) The Birth of Biopolitics: Lectures at the College De France 1978-1979. Palgrace Macmillan, New York.

Kant, I (1784) Kant: What is Enlightenment? [Online] Available at: (http://www.columbia.edu/acis/ets/CCREAD/etscc/kant.html#note1) (Accessed: 06/01/2019)

Land, N (2012) The Dark Enlightenment: Part 1. [Online] Available at: (http://www.thedarkenlightenment.com/the-dark-enlightenment-by-nick-land/#part1) (Accessed: 06/01/2019)

Land, N. (2018) Hermitix Podcast, Nick Land – Accelerationism and Capital. [Online] Available at: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FgEqQujsNTY&t=) (Accessed: 06/01/2019)

Land, N. (2018) ŠUM, Journal for Contemporary Art Criticism and Theory, n. 10.2, Cryptocene

Crypto-current: An Introduction to Bitcoin & Philosophy. Društvo Galerija Boks.

Lovecraft, H,P.(2014) The Complete Fiction of H.P.Lovecraft. Race Point Publishing, New York.

Porter, T,M. (1986) The Rise of Statistical Thinking 1820-1900. Princeton University Press, UK.

Porter, T,M. (1996) Trust in Numbers: The Pursuit of Objectivity in Science and Public Life. Princeton University Press, UK.

 

Secondary Bibliography of Enlightenment Texts

Simon Stevin – La Disme, 1585

Franciscus Vieta – In artem analyticem isagoge, 1591

John Napier – Description of the Marvelous Canon of Logarithms, 1614

Joost Burgi & Johannes Kepler – Tabulae Rudolphinae, 1627

Bonaventura Cavalieri – Geometria Indivisibilibus Continuorum, 1635

Pierre de Fermat – Methodus ad disquirendam maximam et minimam et de tangentibus linearum curvarum, 1636.

Rene Descartes – La Géométrie, 1637

John Wallis – Arithmetica Infinitorum, 1655

Isaac Barrow – Geometrical Lectures, 1670

Isaac Newton – Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica, 1687

Colin Maclaurin – Treatise of Fluxions, 1742

 

Greer’s Future

 

 

Recently I finished up John Michael Greer’s Collapse Now and Avoid the Rush: The Best of the Archdruid Report & The Long Descent and I’m currently embarking on Dark Age America. I wonder why oh why I may be doing such specific research? Anyway, I need to get back to blogging and Greer’s notion of the future is as good place as any.

What’s specific – at least to me – about what Greer conceives of as ‘the future’ is that it locks itself within some very wise and pessimistic restraints that disallow a lot of ideological hope and wishful thinking. For instance, in terms of reading Greer one goes on a strange ride of downs and downs, just when you think Greer may finally allow a form of optimistic futurism, innovation or ‘progress’ to perhaps have merit he quickly and succinctly buries it under a heap of clear logic and historical statistics. Or, “Oh you think that would work do you? Well here’s why it wont’ ad infinitum.

However, there’s another very specific idea that invades Greer’s work consistently. Often directly, but more often it sits quietly at the sidelines, smirking at its own reality. And this is Greer’s almost a priori notion that civilizations collapse, end, stop-being etc. With Greer the possibility for anything to end is always possible. This seems quite obvious, right? Well, not so. People hate to think that even their most luxurious comforts – ones that have always been around – would cease to be. So why would they even start to believe in a world where the basics will become a struggle?

There is only one certainty of civilizations and that is their eventual demise. You may be lucky enough to be sat at the peak – or middle-temporal-ground – of a 500-1000 year civilization, sitting generationally pretty atop mountains of resources, cultural capital, economic security, international communication, political unity etc. This can and may even be certain for you. However, for those who witness even the most minor fluctuations nearing the beginning or end of a civilization they understand they all that is was once not, that stability and security is built for arduous labor, time and intelligence. What one could perhaps coin as the ‘Greerian reality’ is not that the possibility for the end of your civilization exists, but this reality is one wherein you understand and accept this reality as always being present. Beyond this of course is all the ‘stuff’ that’s currently at our doorstep – and yes, I am planning a large post on this – but for instance: Peak oil, weather catastrophes, inflation, oil price surges, increased illness, lack of basic medication, lack of sanitary measures, minor heat fluctuations and their knock on effects, steady movement of arming belts, lesser crop yield etc. I mean, this list can go on, and it amazes me that not one of these things has had any serious effect – at least where I live. Yet, it seems that the Greerian reality is waiting behind everything, it is the chaos-effect shooting out from the effect of simply one of these catastrophes taking place.

Also specific to the Greerian reality is the fact that semantically collapse is quite commonly mistaken for an instantaneous event. This is quite simply wrong, in fact, it’s so wrong it exists solely in the realms of escapism and quasi-romanticism. No wonder the amount of post-apocalyptic media has increased in recent years, I mean what other generation(s) yearn for a reset button more than those who’ve been promised so much and allowed so little. Media such as Fallout, Mad Max, The 100, The Walking Dead etc aren’t truly horror, not really, for the simply fact that humans are still around and not only are they doing fine, they’re actually doing quite well and in someways progressing in healthier directions that their previous societies. And so at heart all these programs, games etc. is – at the very least – optimism, but also a perception of time in relation to collapse which is simply wrong. We think of ‘collapse’ as the collapse of a table or chair, a quick successive tumble of parts, yet once that which is collapsing grows in complexity (a civilization for instance) then the process of collapse becomes far, far longer. Emphasis on process here, the process of collapse will see chunks of civilization fly of and attempt to be replaced or repaired in relation to their previous standard, slowly but surely everything sort of disintegrates at such a rate that those living within it only notice the stark difference in conditions years later.

Levinas said that “humanity is limitrophe of nothingness.” A quote I adore. One could say that civilization is limitrophe of collapse, and the more complex that civilization ‘progresses’ to be the closer it moves towards the edge of the abyss. As well as this the more complex a civilization becomes the more collapse-edges it nears, different cliff’s edges for it to frolic next to for the sake of material gains. Imagine existing in a civilization that squanders resources, risks health, security and safety all for the sake of a dancing Father Christmas toy. When you’re debating eating the gnawed carcass of a rat for breakfast, or squeezing out mulch for a cup of water, remember the little hip thrusts the toy Santa Claus used to make. 

For those that will – undoubtedly – state that I’m scare-mongering, you’re actually simply buying back into your own blind reality that’s un-accepting of the Greerian reality. So many climate change and ecologist enthusiasts are quick to deter ‘collapsists’ or those who believe in the end of civilization, there’s a distinct line from secular society to a complete denouncement of eschatology in its entire. Once you’re without God or Myth well what of importance can really come to an end, material and material perceptions of the world will be forever ongoing. Even the myth of progress is upheld via political means – if we’re not progressing economically, nationally or with respect to innovation, we just assimilate the idea of progression onto easily modifiable politics.