The Battle Against the Hyperpresent.

“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.

The Latest in Schizophrenia: On Bonnet’s After Death

“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.

A Methodology of Possession: On the Philosophy of Nick Land

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):

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