Embedded below is my conversation with Justin Murphy. We talked about Left, Right and Unconditional Accelerationism, Leftism, Patchwork, Blogging, Art and more. Enjoy.
Four or five days ago – I don’t remember now – early in the morning around seven or eight I went to take the rubbish out and found to my surprise a small parcel outside my door, sitting beneath the porch. What was strange is that the postman doesn’t deliver until midday and the letter box was easily big enough for it to fit through, this was left for me. I quickly put it inside and proceeded to take out the trash. As the lid closed on the dustbin I turned back to upon the road, the streetlights were still on. They were covering the suburban brick walls in a thin fluorescent film. It all seemed a little dead.
I went inside and brewed myself an instant coffee. A taste I’ve come to somewhat ‘enjoy’, though I’m undecided as to whether or not I’ve simply reframed what ‘enjoy’ means. I picked up the package from near the door and sat at my kitchen table. The weather was dry and pale, the coffee was burnt and bitter and my eyes were heavy and already bored. I opened the package – a simple cardboard leaf type thing – to find a copy of Simon Sellar’s Applied Ballardianism: Memoir From a Parallel Universe. There was a post it attached to the inside of the package: To MN, let this be your manual for the present. Yours, FK.
My thoughts began to hum, I felt a little disjointed and so the digressions began. I knew not of Sellars – though my mind did quickly flash to the name Wilfred Sellars, alas no connection – , but ‘Ballardianism’, I understood this referred to the author J.G. Ballard. I’d read Crash when I was too young and most of it went over my head – however it did lead me to watch a documentary called My Car is My Lover. I had also seen Empire of the Sun and distinctly remember the scene which includes the joke:
“Hey kid! You want a Mars bar?”
“Yes please Mr!
“Me too kid!”
This takes place near some barbwire fence and the film stars a young Patrick Bateman and John Malkovich – who apparently plays Kurtz in another film, can you imagine.
I began to read Sellar’s book. It was strange. My mind began to make connections it had not made before. Absurd juxtapositions became clear to me. I became a little derealized but kept reading anyway. The book follows Sellars journey throughout the post-capitalist, heavily image driven landscape whilst he finds meaning within both his own life and the work of Ballard, and at times largely attempting to find meaning in his own life through Ballard. Sellars attends to many of my own personal ‘intellectual’ anxieties, largely his encyclopaedic knowledge of pop culture as a means of assessing and analysing almost any situation, event or text. As interesting as these analyses can be, Sellars brings to the fore the almost academic guilt one feels at being able to – in my own case – recite Mad Max almost word for word, but name at most 5 Rembrandt paintings. Is this Ballardian? I’m not too sure.
I began clawing at large clues as to what Ballardianism entailed. Dislocated, disenfranchised, derealized, disassociated and disconnected, everything Ballardian is unhinged and rides on a possibility. Sure, I don’t have a toaster that can play pornography, but the fact there almost certainly is one that can is rather Ballardian. Using the term ‘Ballardianism’ reeks of pomposity, and yet I feel that unlike Kafka-esque, Pynchonian, Foucauldian or Derridean the term Ballardian wouldn’t be taken as seriously at any literary convention, and yet also wouldn’t be taken seriously by those who are knee-deep in Ballard’s prophecies, namely the populous.
I left the book for now, I’d somehow read almost half of it by lunchtime, drinking only one insta-coffee as refreshment. I wondered what FK meant by the text being a manual. I was to find out. I showered and became aware of the intricacies of pressure and volume all whilst the latest album by Ghost BC played through my phone’s speaker. I was showering in any temperature of my choosing to the sound of occult Swedish pop. Odd. I finished up and made my way to the lounge, sat upon the sofa I felt a little dizzy, as if it had become very clear to me that all was merely representation, and at a moment’s notice the world could crumble. I flicked on the TV, something I hadn’t done in weeks, if not months. Ballard – and Sellars – are correct, videos of dying African children next to teeth whitening products, cinematic automobile adverts juxtaposed against school shootings. I didn’t give a shit about any of these things.
Ballardianism – as I’ve come to understand it – couldn’t truly exist without screens, TVs, monitors etc. And so I checked my phone for the 53rd time today, nothing. I flicked through my 3 personally recurrent apps: Twitter, Reddit and Snapchat. The first two are somewhat self-explanatory in that they’re social media and easy pickings, but the last, Snapchat, is a Ballardian oasis. It is where the average consumer goes to signal purchase, life and desire. 5 second clips of gatherings, meals, holidays, beers, consumption, fireworks, flash cars. Temporary images of kisses, meals, friends, speed-limits, law-breaking and of other screens; temporary images of consumption fractured and fragmented from their successive reality. A snippet of the most mind-numbingly basic desire uploaded into cyberspace and paraded in front of information perverts. My deconstructions made me feel nauseous, I needed real air.
I began the short walk to town. On the way I saw the corpse of a shrew nestled in a discarded kitkat wrapper. I listened as the faint tweets of the distant birds were drowned out by competitive revving, inaudible bass and the occasional soap-opera tune emanating from a passing window. The odd mixture of manure and cherry vape smoke made my nose overreact, it began to drip. I used a Simpsons tissue from the bottom of my rucksack to wipe it, Marge’s face began to bleed ink. I became self-conscious of the lint stuck to my chinos and took the indirect route via the churchyard because of this. I looked up the spire, the bells already clanging, the light shone through the stained glass window upon the automated bell-ringing mechanisms. I thought about Jesus on the cross…I thought about robo-Jesus on his robo-cross. Just past the spire are small burial plaques, I always look out for my Grandparent’s one, subtly covered in overgrown grass, next to it a 1ft high ornament of Sleepy from the Seven Dwarves holding a wheelbarrow and yawning. I left the churchyard.
The book had got to me quite quickly. Its clean prose and meticulous attention for visual connections and juxtapositions had quasi-upgraded my software. I was temporarily a machine of consumerist deconstruction, allowing each desire, attitude and signal to rise to the surface. Breath in Sellar’s work and let the cores of the consumo-apathetic landscape shine brightly next to one another. A toolkit for ideological assimilation preparation, watch as the the edges blur, the borders fade and desire willingly sodomizes acceptance.
I finally made it to the store. I can’t detail what I saw because it would only turn into an incoherent scribble of absurd post-capitalist connections. The emergence of a simple local convenience store creates such dislocated, fragmented and visually hostile connections that one’s only course is to submit. I thought back to Sellars book, and the note left for me. Perhaps it is a manual for the present. But the present is incoherent. And so Sellar’s book is but a manual for a maze into visual absurdity, into post-capital hyper-hedonia; a guidebook for a present at the whim of unhinged infantile desire, a present being dragged from the asylum of time and gaffer-taped to Ballardian intensities.
I headed there in an act of investigation, off the back of a recommendation from an old acquaintance, one Mr Francis Kaye. Hadn’t heard from Kaye in around three years, we weren’t ever that close when we were younger, not in any traditional sense, passing by year in year out, crossed documents, information shared, both attempting to find a pattern within existence.
Arrived around midday, there was – even at this time of day – a cool layer of air about the forest. Lightly trodden paths amongst thick bracken, roots spiralling out atop the dry ground, this was most certainly the place of Kaye’s note.
It would be callous of me to put my findings down to the mere ‘cult of Egyptology’.
After walking for some time I reached an opening in the woodland. Before me an arch of trees looking out onto a plane of grass and unto the other side a return to the woodland. Yet as one breaches the treeline they’ll find their peripheral vision clouded by a tall grey intrusion. To pan to the right one finds a pyramid within the heart of the country. Perhaps 40ft high and made entirely of stone, the structure stands in complete isolation from nature, a memoir of its own creation, as if appearing from a minor crack in time.
The Mausoleum of the Lemurs
It was in fact the very thought of the pyramid’s place in time that made my investigation so thorough. Kaye would often recommend me places of note, ritual sites, burial mounds etc. And these would more often than not add only a footnote to a tiresome linear history. I’m sick of the past to be quite honest, all these flippant thousand page documents containing detail after detail of dead time, I cannot be bothered no more to jot down the dead lives of a dead time.
With this in mind one might be surprised that I even continued my investigations. The history of the pyramid – classically speaking that is – is quite straightforward, as I had gathered from my research prior. It is a mausoleum, built in 1794 and containing the remains of the 2nd Earl of Buckinghamshire John Hobart and his first and second wives, Mary Anne and Caroline. Within the – very lacking – written history of the mausoleum there is little of note, even cross-referenced researched would amount to the single following passage:
“One of the most severe yet dramatic of all such monuments, Bonomi’s mausoleum takes the form of a stone pyramid based on the tomb of Caius Cestius in Rome, its height and breadth being of equal length. Inside there is a central domed space with eight radiating barrel-vaulted alcoves. The three alcoves facing the entrance contain the marble sarcophagi of the Earl and his two wives. The burial chambers are thought to be concealed within the walls. The floor is paved with marble slabs.” – MMTrust
Let it be known however, upon walking closer to the pyramid my stomach bound to a knot. The lining of trees and overgrown grass seemed to pause sporadically. The pyramid loomed high and the open plane became a channel for the cold wind.
I returned home swiftly and began undertaking further research at once.
I already knew the mausoleum itself was built in 1794. However, I was yet to research into the architect. Who would design – and concededly place – such a geo-temporal anomaly? That is, dear reader, why did that pyramid feel not just out of place, but out of time.
The pyramid was designed by one Joseph Bonomi the Elder:
The style adopted by him was the Italian or modernised Roman; and he sought to obtain the characteristic effect appropriate to the object of his design, rather by just proportions and good details than by unnecessary ornamentation and littleness of parts, thus exhibiting his preference for the “Architecturesque” over the “Picturesque.” – Papers Read at the Royal Institute of British Architects
Bonomi’s mausoleum is architecture of detailed rebellion against the nature of greenery and temporality, the pyramid-shape itself splitting – vortexing – upwards into the sky.
And yet it is of Bonomi’s son, Joseph Bonomi the Younger unto which my research really took its strides. For Bonomi the Younger himself became a prominent sculptor and Egyptologist, with an insatiable interest in the afterlife, a fact which is present both in his own writings and designs. One of Bonomi the Younger’s designs has retained a cult-like status amongst those interested in time, space and immortality.
The Courtoy Tomb is – alike the pyramid – of Egyptian styling, has no record of construction and seemingly a keyhole without a key. The tomb itself is rumoured to be a time machine. Whether or not this is a metaphor dragged from the fact it has potential for underground linkage and thus a ‘saving of time’ is up for debate. What isn’t up for debate is the fact the tomb itself is covered into Egyptian iconography:
“Its occupants are a mysterious trio of spinsters about whom almost nothing is known. Intrigued by the tomb, writer Howard Webster began researching its origins and now believes the 20-foot tall building was a time machine built by a maverick Victorian genius, Samuel Warner, who also invented the torpedo. Warner is buried in an unmarked grave about 70 feet from his creation and in another nearby grave lies his likely collaborator, architect and Egyptologist Joseph Bonomi.”
What adds to the mystery is that some people believe Warner, who was in negotiations over his plans for aerial bombs and sea mines with Duke of Wellington, commander in chief of Britain’s army, was either murdered to prevent his designs for weapons falling into the wrong hands, or by someone who stole them from his dead body. However, others believe Warner was either a crackpot or a fraud whose inventions could never have worked.
Warner’s colleague Bonomi was in the team of Egyptologists and archaeologists who first deciphered the hieroglyphic texts found on papyri in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings.
James Mackay, a spokesman at Brompton cemetery, reportedly said at the time of the Reuters story: “It could be that some of the papyri they were decoding dealt with time travel.” – Badwitch
Both a father and son having a dedicated interest in Egyptology is not uncommon for the educated of Victorian England, yet the strange placements, the odd rumours, the lack of record and accessibility, the very fact my blood slowed to a crawl upon approach all speak to me of a connection unto which one should not venture, and yet I feel myself pulled towards their cold temporal nature more and more.
Further research expanded upon the feeling of dread surrounding:
“Sixty feet away, Bonomi’s gravestone bears similar hieroglyphic carvings including the Egyptian god of the dead, Anubis, sitting on what appears to be a replica of the mausoleum. Webster believes this is a vital clue to the mausoleum’s secret. The direction Anubis is facing – toward the mausoleum – suggests in Egyptian mythology a soul lost out of time.” – Badwitch
“I like to believe that Warner’s is not the body in the unmarked grave but that he is still alive and travelling through time in his machine.”- Badwitch
I slept and dreamt of time.
When I woke I planned to venture back to the pyramid, assess the area, and tread into the cosmic ripples. During my journey there I thought of William Burrough’s lemurs from the Ghost of Chance. The fragmented conception of time that Burrough’s chose to address within his novella resonated with me. “There is always something a man must do in time.” (p5) Burroughs notes. The entire novella weighted-down by the very fact that time “is not a human invention, but a prison.”(p16). The Bonomi’s struck me as a lineage attempting to free themselves from time, ‘How?’ of course was the question, not the ‘Why?’ for there are many clear answers why a man would wish to free himself from time, the ‘How?’ is of importance.
Upon my second walk to the mausoleum I began thinking of the Cybernetic Culture Research Unit (CCRU) and their piece Lemurian Time War. A piece in which they extrapolate on the premise that Burrough’s Ghost of Chance is in fact a hyperstitional document of the utmost importance in an occult time war. ‘Hyperstition’ – in short – meaning ‘fictions that make themselves real’. Usually by the propagation of signs and writing and then utilization of both as a function within reality. I began to think of the lengths the Bonomi’s had gone to effect the temporal flow of the ‘present’ reality. Their architecture functioning as inter-temporal signs intended for the making of a transition. That is both mausoleums – the pyramid and the tomb – stand alone as remnants of distant culture and time.
A citation from Lemurian Time War resonated with the temporal totality I’d found myself within, as if reaching from the pages a lemur-tale teased a communication, ‘And what is a virus? Perhaps simply a pictorial series like Egyptian glyphs that make itself real’ (Ah Pook is Here p102). I thought of this quote as I ventured into the opening once more, a distinct cosmic paranoia allowed me black-tunnel vision of the pyramid alone. The tree-linings disintegrated into a haze and the grass a blur. The mausoleum’s edges stark against the dead sky and its stone fluctuating between stages of corrosion and decay.
I proposed to myself that the Bonomian time-machine was not of any ‘traditional’ mechanics. Those who merely dismiss the rumour as just that, ‘a rumour’, are missing the point entirely. The Bonomian time-machine is a hyperstitional time-machine. Their intricately composed ‘fiction’ is assembled both throughout time and of pieces of time. Both mausoleum’s have a semiotic connection to the Egyptian afterlife and are created in such areas as to cause temporal and aesthetic confusion and resonances, hyperstitional-juxtaposition; the uncanny manner of the old man’s etiquette transports you to another social bearing. And finally they lay the pure-framework of Hyperstition via the virile subtly of rumours, for who cannot resist the allure of a time machine. And as the rumours expand, grow and infect their hosts, and as the tombs root into a time not of their own, and as the semiotic cybernetic family lineage interconnects throughout and during time the fiction comes ever closer to a reality, the Bonomian time-machine reverse engineer’s its own becoming by tricking the fictions of others into assimilating it.
I stood before the percolating mausoleum a man allowed but a glimpse of a cyber-temporal whole. Burroughs along with the CCRU note that “The Word Lines keep you in time…” (Word Virus, p270). That is, in accordance with the occult time war, the One God Universe (OGU) which can be thought of as complete-centrality, Order, Oneness, Control, created a fiction so oppressive that it gave birth to the reality of “biological destiny and immortality” (CCRU, p37). For there to be control, there has to be time, a system of time, or in more practical terms there has to be a time of succession. And as such once the written fiction of the OGU commenced it assimilated each and every other fiction into its own time-system.
My mind digressed at a frantic rate, pacing back and forth between excerpts of Kant, Nietzsche, Burroughs and the CCRU, piecing together the sporadic remains and becomings of a fiction I wasn’t supposed to witness. Inscribed above the mausoleum’s door are the words “AVCTOR PRETIOSA FACET” translated as “the giver makes the gift precious”. The gift here being the first node in the Bonomian temporal-network, ‘given’ knowledge of paths through succession, hyperstitional landmarks juxtaposed in time to emit a previous or coming reality. A pathway through time bouncing lost souls to and fro.
The area vibrated minutely. My vision became akin to a fish eye lens, bearing down into the doorway. My peripheral vision was of frantic black splodges, darting reds and whites, as if a retro-virus had begun to wipe my perspective frame by frame, and complete corneal meltdown. And suddenly nothing, then release. As if awaking from a slow sleep paralysis that which I now saw could have been dream, could have been reality, but what I truly feared was a mixture of the two.
I pulled my gaze down from the doorway, away from the pithy inscription. I took a few steps backwards from the doorway looking around and the lagging grass. Between the tall blades and thick clumps – I believe – appeared curled black tails, red dots and tufts of dark smoke. Fading in and out of the meadow indiscriminately were the silhouettes of lemurs. The spots of temporary darkness spread to the back of the meadow and all the way to the tree line, a viral quasi-spacio-temporal rift pulsating into a drawn out single moment fell over the mausoleum, and then, the winds swept and the birds tweeted. What was this but a warning in time?
I began the journey home.
Storm King’s Grim Omen codes in. Car beep, virile codification of the human subject into identity fragmentation. Repetitive synth articulating the content-future of a thousand-thousand docile subjects. Enjoy your stay. Skin numb to the device writhing into arteries. Pale flesh drifts downward into hive-sleep. The background muzak assembles LA-street hymns into a sombre, paranoid evening sweat. 70’s Cop Car chase ignites momentary spinal sensation, passers by de-click from screen sleep and gaze upon the epileptic moment. They drift out of sight and the crowds return to the hum and warmth of k-addiction, k-time.
Marshall Sahlins writes “If economics is the dismal science, the study of hunting-gathering economics must be its most advanced branch.” (The Original Affluent Society) and herein lies my trajectory for shoehorning multiple thinkers and writings into a Decelerationist/Primitivist mash. To begin with even the idea of a pre-industrial, or more aptly, primitivist-economics poses an interesting question with regards to primitivist capital? Within a primitivist society does capital lie? It’s not money, for this does not exist. Potentially food, or tools etc. though these things seem to be taken care of and a part of an egalitarian system as opposed to a bartering system. One could argue that knowledge/intelligence is the true form of capital and thus primitivist societies are not free from its grasp. Yet, primitivist societies inherently wish to move/progress further than point X, and thus to systematically streamline or machinize the work up to X would be fruitless, superfluous, for if techno/industrial/religious/ideological progress or progress-in-general is not your aim what’s the point in rushing. The very act of rushing is entirely deconstructed within a society which has no desire to accelerate. Capital has little room for contentment or complacency.
Cleanse the Metropolis, a prayer to the group of cyber-teens squandering time. Leaning against glitching douglas firs their eyelids flicker to the rhythm of derelict neon. Synth emanates the mall, waking none from the caustic glow of a dying consumer-chapel. Bodily micro-vibrations akin to old cartoons; “Mom! Garfield’s legs are rotting, why is the screen green and blur and over…” Brain chemistry frenzy. Cross-referenced memories collide in bio-space causing time to splinter – “Hey kids, you don’t even know when you are.”
So this leads towards that which can be deceleration, which is namely that which can remove the desire for capital all together. Within a primitivist society the act of work is wrongly named ‘work’. For the connotations connected with the term ‘work’ are now heavily burdened by a post-industrial society, or, you’re thinking of a shoddy 9-5, you’re thinking of that which is done as a means for survival in the 21st century, money in the bank, rent paid, groceries bought. Yet the work of a primitivist society – often romanticized – is in itself an act of immanence, a process which draws multiple lines between humans and nature; not the act of erecting a fence, but the act of accepting the presence of what is now not-Other, a bird or squirrel etc. Post-industrial labour is merely lost being. Taken labour, taken soul.
//LOAD_VR: nostalgia2_1986.exp a multiplicity of Simpsons stills melt atop the closing shutters. You can’t remember the last time your eyes weren’t heavy, the last time you smelt an origin, the last time panic was a possibility. The beat here jolts accordingly to the memoirs of youth sat before the Atari’s warm glow, a better time found within the truth of polygons. Fade back to the mall. Slow and too steady. If you stare forward long enough it combines into a tech-nothingness, false balsa wood, beige roof patterns, off-white gloss, radio tremble and the smell of dry rain, nostalgia for the bland.
Quite honestly I didn’t see myself leaning from accelerationism, at least in the abstract, quite so violently and quite so quickly. But as – one of many – exit options for myself is that of a homestead, the ideology of primitivism, or potentially paleo-Agorism, seems quite agreeable. One cannot deny not just the potency but the astonishing eruditeness of Ted Kaczynski’s Industrial Society and its Future (ISAIF). The connection between progress-for-progress sake and leftist inferiority complex is quite revealing. The continual need for a ‘minority’ holds within it the leftist belief that in fact there is a hierarchy. They must see and accept for otherwise they would not know who to help, they need the lower rungs of the ladder to use for their own signalling.
Mama Don’t Like A Tattle-Tale. Hey now, hey kids, hey now, buy this…buy this. Glam-rockers arrive on your lawn. Stiff-glitching vertically, side-to-side, Their hair can’t keep-up. 1986 called, it wants its lag back. You feel that first layer of 30’s fat rolling over your jeans. Eddie Van Halen jumps into cyber-death, identity-pixel-blitz eruption and the 80’s die.
And yet what Kaczynski’s magnum opus revealed to me, even more so than its primitivist attitudes or anti-leftism, is the trajectory freedom and the idea of freedom takes under an industrialized society. The immediate thought that sprung into mind mid-read was that – quite ironically – of the possibility of a contemporary western nomad. What of he whom wishes to exit, though it has been said many times, what of he who truly wishes to? Even if it means he succumbs to a societally perceived regression? Or, what of he whom wishes to simply leave and live in peace in a forest or clearing, in an un-used quiet peace of land, he whom wishes to be he own. If a man cannot just go into the woods and live off his own back without ‘state’ intervention, then be sure that man is not free.
v a p o r l o u n g e 2 0 4 8. Wild nature filtered into a palm tree past. 33 waiting rooms layered into a single dental visit, the receptionist keeps locking eyes, you’re sweating. As you go to caress the tooth of pain you swirl into the sticky leather. The palm trees leaves begin to jive. Reverend Abscess arrives playing a jazz-organ. “Hey boy! Lemme look at them there whites. Open wide.” You’ve become sofa, and your mouth cranks open. “Damn son, you be vapin’…keep at it.”
Meaning comes so easily to Kaczynski. Within ISAIF meaning is synonymous with purpose. And as such Kaczynski sees our contemporary ‘leisure’ activities as ‘surrogate’ activities, that which is extra and thus not of direct importance, yet his emphasis here is upon a world in which there exists only surrogate activities. For the primary acts of survival, of gaining water, food and shelter are catered for practically atop a silver platter. Ones day long hunt for a few rabbits is condensed to a medicinal shopping aisle of pre-packet gunk-meat. A multi-month harvest is altered to tinned carrots, tinned peas and tinned corn. Contemporary labour takes away soul, because contemporary labour has little, if not nothing to do with your life. The metaphysical lacuna between the act of filing insurance papers and the act of harvesting ones of own veg patch is so vast that there can never be a connection.
Witchburner And the roots shall rise into industry and demachinize the cogs. The ferns shall grow through glass, shattering layer upon layer of progress. Wild nature…wild acidic nature simultaneously takes its damn time and is quicker than you’ll ever be. Every curb, every concrete void succumbing to the rampant spread of green! Hail king Dandelion! Master of the collapse. Bunkered down, hunkered down the humans tremble as the grass grows tall. Collaboration between oil, sky and greenery. A thick covering of prim-smog. Long live the Earth’s flesh!
Upon further inspection one finds that the majority of data pertains to the fact that ‘health’, actual meaningful, soulful health was far better before industrialization. Not just physical, but mental health. The majority of contemporary anxieties arising from physically non-existent bureacratic acts of bitterness, worry, hate and depression stemming from the hellish reverberation between what one can and cannot do. The list of things upon the latter list grows day by day, week by week…as the former shortens, a continual penning-in of a race once accepting of its nature.
Analog Human Resistance there exists a commander, deep underground, he listens to Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds nightly, he thinks himself a proto-John Connor vs NatureNet. Standing upon a mound of boxed fidget spinners and vapes he proclaims: “Let us take back from nature what was never ours!” The analog hour is now!” And so come the grunts, the apathy of a billion useless humans, content to die in a world no longer bending to their whim. Humans cannot resist their home. Human conciousness dissolved into media-pulp. It is over.
“Contemporary records indicate that, more than once, both rich and poor wished that the barbarians would deliver them from the (Roman) Empire. While some of the civilian population resisted the barbarians (with varying degrees of earnestness), and many more were simply inert in the presence of the invaders, some actively fought for the barbarians. In 378, for example, Balkan miners went over en masse to the Visigoths. In Gaul the invaders were sometimes welcomed as liberators from the Imperial burden, and were even invited to occupy territory.” – Joseph Tainter
FIAT GLADIO gladiator arise from the non-burning, arise from the under and overgrowth, arise into the a world born-natural, into the world without mask. Tech-Gladio programmed by Arthurian legend, master of the stone, the industrial from the natural, a true proclaimer for continuation of the abusers! March towards the evolving mall-wrecks, the cars-turned-orchids, the satellites-cum-fly-traps. Pre-programmed human-history detritus stood before wild perfection!
He laughs as he clicks the ‘order’ button for another pallet of sardines. Smashing the toaster into a thousands pieces “Primitivists don’t have toast, Earth rules!” Naked, covered in tar atop the kitchen table he screams.
Culture Terror walking forth into physical memory. The parks gone, swingset eroded and nostalgia sodomized by the agency of the grand Mother. Gladio marches year upon year, finding nothing but the remains of apathetic industry. Slowing, trembling, slowing and cursing, to a crawl…to a stop. Bug-covered, rusting and leg-vined, Gladio halts a final time, physically unable to move from the undergrowth. The final robotic remnant of humanity forever encased in a labyrinth of wild-thicket, eternity passes before its eyes.
Let’s see where this goes…
Corruptor/Depopulator oh what terrors eternity can bring! My son you shall witness, oh my eternal robotic human misery witness, witness, witness the rise and rise of Mother! Gladio’s steel lids held apart by dampened leaves. Never look away, never can you un-see the acidic terror of a wild nature unfurled! See your past, your future, your time entire splinter into non-recognizable patches of nature! Fields of green! Seas of green! Wooden supports holding up the Natura Aeternum!
The Threepenny Opera (1931) is nothing particularly special, in fact many of these films ranked higher than 500 in terms of merit I have a feeling were picked due to some extremely specific consideration, and many film reviewers are against qualifying a contemporary film as a great until the consensus has been agreed, well I say ‘fuck that’ to be quite honest, there’s little in me that can accept that these films are anything but dry, tiresome and archaic visions of a dead-time, lusted over by those too far into a thematic rabbit-hole, if it cannot hold my attention in its remastered state, then by christ I am in awe of those who can drag anything but a sentence or 2 from these dated perspectives. Which brings to Limite (1931) which is often called Brazil’s greatest film. Well shit Brazil, if this is your greatest I hope I don’t have to see anything even close to your worst. Don’t get me wrong, it was beautifully shot and had some interesting juxtapositions in multiple shots and the narratives were told in a somewhat original way, but this is truly one for the hardcore film nut, one who wishes to analyse each frame and produce a lucid post-modern text in the process. In this day and age it’s quite something to admit that the collectively-agreed-upon ‘classic’ is actually quite dull, and you don’t really care for it.
Luis Bunuel’s Land Without Bread (1932) begins as a melancholy look at a small, isolated town. Who due to their location have hardships with food, death, education and farming etc.. It’s trajectory quickly becomes more sombre, more lucid, towards what it means to live in isolation, the strange traditions, the thoughts of death and loss, the acceptance of both.
And then I was like ‘Finally…Freaks!’ and…I was let down. Perhaps a testament to modern shock, the destruction of taboo and general contemporary decadence and degeneracy, but Tod Browning’s Freaks (1931) neither shocked me, disturbed me or even really woke me up. There’s some deformed and generally admirable people whom are part of a carnival, there’s a bit of plot lying around somewhere but hell, it’s quite transparent someone had the foresight to gain a career off the backs of genetic rarity, watch it for a snapshot of peculiarity at best.
Howard Hawks Scarface (1932), a slow burner, a slow starter and a slow mover, a technique in cahoots with its characters, all of whom in their arrogance and masculine confidence own everything in a certain manner. The initial striking a match off a policeman’s badge acts as a short metaphor of 30’s gangster power, the utilization of the bureacratic and controlled as a means for further mob-expansion, though of course this expansion continued long into the 70’s.
An interesting point to make here however is that this film from 1932 does in fact condemn both the gangsters for their illegal and mob behaviour, as well as condemning the police for doing little about the menace. Cinema lacks the audacity – potentially in the face or current identity politics – to cast a finger upon any group, they fear and skulk away from any real potential for confrontation, except wherein that confrontation is one being dragged by ever-leftward swimming Cthulhu, that is, Hollywood simply stands with the majority now. Which in Hawk’s day would be bending to the gangster’s whim even though they didn’t like them, they stood up for what it was they wanted to say, as opposed to helping pronounce that of the loudest whiner.
I have to admit something once more in relation to these musings on film, these much older films, at least from what I’ve seen prior to 1950 have a certain incoherence, the camera works, the film is displayed, the actors are speaking and the sets are standing, but all seems in the singular, yet to truly connect into a unified whole, when one focuses on one single point in these films, the rest loses any intensity, no flow or flux, no rhythm or beat, they jolt and bang along with stops and starts, parts and bits, mashed together into spikingly-dynamic assemblages of cinema, often jolting to the (poisoned) modern mind seeking linearity and ease in all.
Just a short one whilst I get things back ticking along here.
In this essay I plan to analyse that which shall be called the ‘Serresean patchwork’, a spacio-temporal multiplicity which also acts as global topology, akin to a knitted patchwork quilt pertaining to the work of Michel Serres. Utilizing texts from both Michel Serres and Gilles Deleuze & Felix Guattari, all of whom have conceptualized the idea of ‘patchwork’ within their work. Alongside utilizing Lucretian atomism as the materialist philosophy underpinning the work of the aforementioned theorists. I shall begin by briefly expanding on Michel Serres’ conception of time as a ‘crumpled handkerchief’, for this temporal reading is both relevant at a foundational level and acts as the cause for the contemporary Lucretian process. Following this I plan to appropriate this reading of time onto the materialist framework of Lucretian atomism, extrapolating on the Lucretian process of material becoming itself, from laminar flow to vortex. I then plan to move the Lucretian process from its traditional temporal/abstract root to physical space via assimilation of the process itself onto the ‘smooth and striated space’ of Deleuze & Guattari, allowing each abstract atomist process to be assimilated onto a material movement or allotment between smooth and striated space. Finally I intend to explain how this atomic spacio-temporal triptych of crumpled time, Lucretian atomism and Deleuzoguattarian space allows for a clearer vision of a ’Serresean patchwork’. A patchwork which inherently utilizes each section of this essay as a means for its own structural and topological becoming. Each theoretical underpinning contributing to various factors in relation to the patchwork’s becoming, movement, purpose and realization.
Serresean-Time and Lucretian Atomism
I shall begin from the bottom and work my way upwards, axis here being factually useless, but metaphorically useful. The foundation is time itself. In this case Serresean-time. Take the temporal plane and imagine it appropriated onto a handkerchief (Serres, M. Latour, B, 1998: p60). One could, for ease of familiarity, draw a grid, or line onto the handkerchief, plotting points equidistant along the line as a means to track days, weeks or years. Now imagine one is to crumple this handkerchief, one would find points from the line’s ‘past’ meet points of the line’s ‘now’ or ‘future’. Not only does this conception of time reveal the falsity that is temporal linearity – for ancient ideas are still present, as I will show – it also conveys the nonlinear dynamics of Serres.
In the act of crumpling, a rigid linear system is transformed into that which can now touch, meet and share data with parts of the ‘system’ further than one ‘step’ backwards or forwards. Of course, in the case of the handkerchief in relation to time, there is no physical sharing going on, there is no literal material time-travel. The crumpling of the handkerchief is a Deleuzian moment of historic-cultural warping, wherein traditional linearity is found archaic, and in specific reference to Serres’ utilization of such a temporal conception, we find that which we now call fluid systems or atomic physics has always been upon the handkerchief in another form, under another name, previously Atomism, or more specifically Lucretian Atomism. Lucretius arrives from the past riding a Serresean handkerchief crumple, allowing the nonlinear dynamics of the ancients to infect the future. And so from this act of crumpling one understands that “There is nothing new under the sun.” (Serres, M. Latour, B, 1998: p93) only retro-temporal discoveries.
This nonlinear temporality is with or under Serres at all times and as this essay deals directly with Atomism and flat planes intended for temporal crumpling, one needed to expand upon this re-conceptualizing of time before moving forward. For if at a foundational level there can be some form of temporal transition, then movement, line, becoming and space are all inherently altered. Keep the potential for crumpling at the forefront at all times, even the dullest of historical islands may find new life via a crumple transition.
There is one specific philo-scientific crumple I wish to discuss in-depth, the aforementioned Atomism, specifically of the variety shared by both Serres and Deleuze & Guattari, Lucretian Atomism. An ancient physics thought and thus made redundant by contemporary science and henceforth resurrected in time via new found evidence and interest within the area of nonlinear dynamics; or, compressed, the ‘ancient’ physics of Lucretius met with the ‘now’ during a temporal crumpling. In either case, the idea pertaining to the form of both Lucretian Atomism and atomic physics remains. A Deleuzian moment wherein the ideas of the ‘future’ were already within the culture of the future, waiting for their chance for materialist assimilation, waiting for two distant points on the handkerchief to meet. The specifics of Lucretian Atomism in its ‘original’ state are relatively simple, a few interconnecting parts and intensities creating a process culminating in compound realities. Yet, this process of Lucretian Atomism in relation to that which I wish to write about – the Serresean patchwork arising from Deleuzoguattarian space – is a little more intricate, as such, the following section is pure Atomist extrapolation as a means for latter clarification. From laminar flow through to vortex, the Lucretian process arrives.
For Lucretius everything flows, “Everything begins with atoms falling through the void.”(Webb, D. William, R., 2018: p4). The flow of these atoms in the void is such that each is parallel to the next, a series of symmetrical atoms falling through an infinite space, forever. This parallel atomic descent is called ‘laminar flow’. The underlying atomic reality prior to the world – this is made clear later – the recurrent element from which difference equals/becomes actuality. The question is, how does change appear within the laminar flow?
My first point of interest is the common comprehension and perception of the laminar flow, attesting to a stereotypical form of sequential order, yet this order, wherein each atoms falls to zero, this order of ‘the same’ is thus of “non-being” (Serres, 2018: p134) and acts as the disordered, allocated and striated plane from which can arise – at the very least – a possibility of the world (Ibid, p133). The growth of something from the void is thus ordered, the void itself is disorder. Yet for there to be a world something needs to come from the ‘non-being’ of the laminar flow, and thus there needs to be some form of difference or division within the sequential atomic parallel, and therefore a beginning of such a form of division. Enter the clinamen, the minimum angle of declination against the laminar flow (Ibid, p25), the diagonal within and from the parallel atomic sequence and the spontaneous breaker of symmetry (Serres, 2006:p15). The clinamen acts as the primary agent of division, underpinning the possibility of a patchwork – as I will show – for the clinamen is “transformation in general” (Serres, 2018: p114). Acting as the ur-transformer, the clinamen is that which quasi-instantaneously begins a chemical reaction, and is that which over the course of a thousand years leads to erosion of a coastline.
The clinamen is only the initial part of the multi-stage process which ends in the formation of things (Ibid, p50). Alongside acting as ur-divider, the clinamen is “the smallest imaginable condition for the original formation of turbulence” (Ibid, p24). The pre-condition of turbulence as it were. To understand turbulence one must return to the laminar flow as seen as a river or stream. A river descending wherein both its periphery and centre follow the same path, that is until a peripheral trembling begins, or in the words of Lucretius “trementia flutant”, ‘trembling thy undulate’ (Ibid, p61). And it is this ‘trembling’ which is seen by Serres as turbulence, an intense halt within the rivers’ flow, stability within the ever-descending instability of the stream (Ibid, p61). Turbulence, a point on Serres’ handkerchief begins to form, begins to darken, begins to stabilise in its ability as temporal transmitter…a historic-cultural point begins, for “time is the fluctuation of turbulences” (Ibid, p115).
To return to turbulence as it is atomically. The wish of Atomism and physics in general is to understand how order comes from disorder, how, to utilize the Serresean tongue, a single sublime form may arise from the general background of noise or static (Serres, 2008: p51-55). The transition from the disorder of the laminar’s atomic chaos to the order of formed things begins with turbulence; it is a transition both acting as turbulence and made possible by turbulence. (Serres, 2018: p47). The clinamen declines into the flow causing an inception of turbulence (Ibid, p25), which in turn “secures the transition” (Ibid, p47) and a point in the flow begins to tremble. From this ‘trementia’ “it preserves the forms” (Ibid, p61). Against the ever flowing laminar decline, against atomic chaos, turbulence acts as a temporary island of stability, a form of transition in the river’s flow, a form amongst a multitude of others. Not sequential, systematic nor symmetrical in their becoming, only spontaneous, “appearing stochastically” (Ibid, p25). Each separate turbulence born via its own repulsion of another, “born from deviation” (Ibid, p114).
Random scattered turbulent stabilities within the flow form a pseudo-coherent system when viewed from a single turbulence’s birth in relation to another’s fall, or when viewed from ‘first’ to ‘last’ to arrive across the tempo-spacial length of a human life. As such they’re often referred to as ‘history’, which in the intelligent materialism of Serres acts as nothing but the stochastic collection of intense impermanent spacio-temporal unstable-stabilities (Lezra, J. (ed.). Blake, L. (ed.), 2016: p28). As with the clinamen, these stabilities stolen from the process as a whole become disconnected, cogs without reception, if only one could maintain each element atop one another simultaneously, an un-halting all-at-once proclamation is the only route to traditional articulation of the Serresean multiplicity.
Yet all of the process thus far has been nothing but transition. Turbulence as transition to that which is the ‘stage’ able to form things (Serres, 2018:p50), to the tourbillon or vortex (Ibid, p49). To think of a ‘children’s top’, spinning top or rhombus (Ibid, p50), for that is the image of the vortex: “unstable and stable, is fluctuating and in equilibrium, is order and disorder at once.” (Ibid, p50) the most stable of instabilities momentarily printed onto the handkerchief of time, for the vortex is “the formation of things” (Ibid, p50) and is thus that which we materially interact with. Born from a hierarchic process of instability: laminar, clinamen, turbulence, vortex, each more stable that the last, yet all temporally mortal and destined once again to deteriorate to zero (Ibid, p41). Each further stage a greater layer of stability atop the laminar flow, concluding in the tangible vortex sitting in the world, a conjoiner of atoms, a stable-unstable safe haven from the cosmic atomic horror of Atomism. “Rotating, translating, falling, leaning and swaying.” (Ibid, p49), the spinning top of the Lucretian atomist idea itself has remained a stable-instability for thousands of years, its velocity slowly dwindling until the 17th century, wherein the spinning top traversed a crumple in the handkerchief of time, allowing it to superimpose its image upon the minds of Galilei, Descartes and Gassendi, wherein the vortex was rejuvenated.
This extrapolation of Serres’ reading of Lucretius will, for now, seem lonesome and without relation to anything tangible. Yet this preliminary framework is necessary for a full understanding of that which is to be undertaken later. The Atomism of Lucretius and the Serresean crumpling of time spills, connects and overflows into much, if not all of the patchwork-structure to come.
Deleuzoguattarian Space in Relation to Lucretius
With Lucretian Atomism established as Serres’ atomically recurrent reality (Lezra, J. (ed.). Blake, L. (ed.), 2016: p28), the question remains as to what arises from the turbulent birth, what is it in actuality the Lucretian process forms as its conclusion? Wherein does one find the formed thing which is brought forth by the vortex? Following the process through from laminar flow to vortex I intend to answer the question – along with the questions above – what of the ‘space’ unto which the vortex forms its things? For initial answers to these questions I turn to Deleuze and Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus, for both Serres and Deleuze & Guattari both take their philosophical trajectory – in part – from the writings of Lucretius, especially in relation to where space and flow are concerned. And so in terms of utilizing a theoretical reading of space which can be appropriated onto the later patchwork for need of physical becoming, I look to ‘the smooth and the striated’.
Deleuzoguattarian space of the duality, or more aptly plurality ‘smooth and striated’ is much akin to the Lucretian duality of matter and void, one immediately finds that a simple opposition between two parts leads to a complex difference in relation to wherein each coincides, that is, the simple opposition of two camps brings forth a multiplicity of relations. The conceptual pair move quickly away from geometrical ideas of space in relation to material, borders and enclosures and towards a “complex mixture between nomadic forces and sedentary captures” (Lysen, F. Pisters, P., 2012), these Deleuzoguattarian spaces are less – if at all – spaces of tradition, but spaces within which events and movements can happen and the type, intensity and relation of events and movements to the space is key in determining the space’s own type of either ‘smooth’ or ‘striated’.
As I have stated smooth and striated space “exist only in mixture: smooth space is constantly being translated, transversed into a striated space; striated space is constantly being reversed, returned to a smooth space.” (Deleuze, G. Guattari, F, 2016: p552) and so a definition of one is reliant upon the other, the task of description itself an intertwined nonlinearity. However, I shall begin with the smooth alone, until mixture is mandatory for articulation. “Smooth does not mean homogeneous, quite the contrary: it is amorphous, non-formal space prefiguring op-art” (Ibid, p554). Smooth space is of events and haecceities (Ibid, p557), directions rather than metrics or dimensions (Ibid, p 556). Striated space on the other hand, is a space in which empires occur (Ibid, p575), a momentary stability much akin to turbulence, for on either side of the striated is the smooth, one side waiting to once again produce striation, the other the smoothness striation becomes; the perpetual transition of one into the other, yet only striation allows a compound reality to occur.
A simple metaphor allows greater clarity in understanding the notions of smooth and striated space in relation to the Lucretian process, the metaphor of the farmer and the nomad (Ibid, p559). The farm and the farmer exist in a closed off, allocated striated space. A space which is a line or shape between points, a stability within chaos (Ibid, p559), each seed a clinamen of its own. The nomad on the other hand is entirely unallocated in its existence, a point between lines, over boundaries, allowing the plot & grid, the natural and the cosmos to pull him to and fro. “The respective role of point, line and space” (Ibid, p560) matters not when the point in question acts upon the whim of intensities, allowing wind – as an example – to control the point’s direction.
However, both spaces in relation to the Lucretian process reveal the strange peculiarities of both the smooth and the striated. For even though Serres attests that turbulence brings order from disorder, with said disorder being the laminar flow itself, the laminar flow is in fact a space of striation, which is a space of order and allotment. For the symmetrical atomic repetitive space has been succinctly allocated and allotted. The homogeneity of the laminar flow attests to the fact that the flow itself is the tightest striation of all – atomically regular intersections make it pure limit-form (Ibid, p566) – this is why Serres places much emphasis on the relation between the clinamen and freedom. Not only is the clinamen an escape from a limit, but it is the birth of all possibility after the recurrent atomic cage. “- the clinamen appears as freedom because it is precisely this turbulence that resists forced flow” (Serres, 2018: p107) the clinamen not just as a chaotic break for the sake of symmetrical-breaking, but the angle deviates in the direction of a spontaneous freedom, it begins the journey “From pure to applied” (Serres, 2006: p15).
The striated fabric exists in a tight, interwoven manner, a fabric allocated and allotted to become a place for the formation of things within axis (Deleuze, G. Guattari, F, 2016: p552), a place of archetypal, physical progress. For “-progress is made by and in striated space, but all becoming occurs in smooth space” (Ibid, p564). So, perhaps we must say that all progress is made within and from the vortex, but all becoming occurs between the clinamen and turbulence – order from chaos, not the reverse as it seems at first glance. The transition of turbulence is the transition of smooth to striated. For one begins with the pure cosmic limit-form (Ibid, p566) of the laminar flow, tight, recurrent striation allocated between successive points, descending eternally. The clinamen comes forth, an atomically smooth nomad deviating across the laminar’s striated totalitarian farmland, no longer allowing itself to be hemmed in, it takes up the angle of direction and in its revolutionary act literally draws smooth space upon the direction taken (Ibid, p433).
Acting as the “shorthand for nonlinear dynamics” (Abbas, N. (ed.)., 2008: p51) the clinamen is that which begins – from its nomadic drawing of smooth space/declination – the process of interweaving, fragmenting, tearing and axis producing whilst simultaneously allowing the growth of temporary points of turbulence atop the Serresean handkerchief. With its inherent attribute of bifurcation and division it acts as the messenger of smooth space, “that smooth space that changes in nature when it divides” (Deleuze, G. Guattari, F, 2016: p 563), the clinamen as division’s pre-condition and its intensification of turbulence-becoming-vortex; the clinamen as the messenger of temporal and spacial fragmentation and freedom. And yet this atomic nomad is but the pre-condition for another authoritarian allocation. For the clinamen intensifies into turbulence and the transition from smooth to striated begins, the turbulence-becoming-spinning-top intensifies further into a vortex for a final allocation of vortex-striated. With the vortex or space of striation becoming a “central perspective” (Ibid, p574) upon the global and temporal topology to come.
Beneath both Serres and Deleuze and Guattari is De rerum natura, is an ever-flowing, ever-intersecting and interweaving postulation of freedom, not just within the reductive confines of man, but at the atomic level. A nonlinear uncertain world, making and not-making decisions and from such a text, from such a conceptualization and conclusion comes the possibility of an interwoven reality. Separate atomic retirements existing away from the void within a topological patchwork of their own creation.
Towards a Serresean Patchwork
My direction for a Serresean patchwork takes its trajectory primarily from the preface of Serres’ The Troubadour of Knowledge and as such, this is where I shall begin and return to for need of topological clarity. We begin with an emperor on stage, ridiculed by the crowd for his clothing, “A motley composite made of pieces, of rage, of scraps of every size. In a thousand forms and different colours, of varying ages, from different sources, badly basted, inharmoniously juxtaposed, with no attention paid to proximity, mended according to circumstance, according to need, accident and contingency – does it show a kind of world map.” (Serres, 2006: piii), in short the emperor is “enveloped in a world map of badly bracketed multiplicities” (Ibid, pii) It is this ‘world map’, this topological ‘mosaic’ (Ibid, p155) I wish to explore, not the epistemological connection to the emperor, nor the dry satire of power, no, one intends to assess the becoming of the enveloping patchwork. For the plurality of a mosaic is the proposition of a puzzle (Ibid, p154), a puzzle to be worked out away from archaic monism and centrality. The puzzle itself is of the Serresean vein and thus becomes within and from the Lucretian process. The Emperor’s patchwork a world map and allegory of spacio-temporal difference, and so, I view the potentiality for a triple layered actuality: Lucretian Atomism, Deleuzoguattarian space and Serresean topology flow into one another as a means for the construction of a topology.
We begin once again by assessing the foundation, the potentially flat plane that is the emperor’s “map-cum-greatcoat” (Ibid, pxiv) – herein abbreviated as ‘greatcoat’. A temporal and spacial plane, much akin to Serres’ handkerchief, the coat folds, crumples, rips, tears and bundles together, a metaphorical spacio-temporal and cultural map of ragged, patched history crumpling up, for the emperor states “my time has sewn them, then melded them together, tattered rags, certainly, but rags become my very flesh” (Ibid, p147). Prior to this ‘melding’ however we have a composite, the melded coat is of personal attribution, each melded composite is of and for a single being, yet what of the composite, the coat prior to the ‘incandescent assimilation’ (Ibid, pxviii) into unification, what is the nature of the non-unified composite? The patchwork material without owner? And yet to focus on the singular perception of the patchwork unified/melded, one finds “the sum of these individually experienced perceptions creates a global topology that has no common language because it is composed entirely of subjectively gleaned information” (Lee, C, T., 2014: p195-196) and so even though ‘one’ has a sum experience, the underlying dynamic is still at question. The patchwork exists with or without an owner, the global topology of rags and tatters continues to assimilate and flow whether or not a unity of personal relations is found.
A construction mirroring the Lucretian process must too begin with a laminar flow, a foundational layer, the greatcoat’s own fabric. A fabric which “intertwines in this way: over, under” (Serres, 2006: p20) akin to the Deleuzoguattarian intertwining of the horizontal and vertical. The fabric-qua-laminar-flow is the metaphorical embodiment of sequential limit-form, a greatcoat of striation allocated as world-space for the progress of the Lucretian process. Yet the greatcoat exists in a paradox. For acting as laminar flow the greatcoat ceases to materially exist if it is without stray threads, rags, tatters or patches, without the becoming of atomic-difference within its striated-eternal-sewing, the greatcoat simply remains a parallel void of non-being and thus materially ceases. It is not until a nomadic thread divides the fabric that a world may possibly be born. That a single patch may arise from its cloth.
To move from the laminar layer of fabric to the singular parts of the greatcoat: A rag, a tatter, a scrap or more aptly, a patch; “local patches activated or created by contact and brought together into an ocellated fragment” occupying volume and expanding into the global (Serres, 2017: p140). A patch as the shadow of a fingerprint within a topology, within a bouquet, a patch as a single momentary turbulence pulled inwards towards other fragments, to form an un-analysable mingle (Ibid, p172). The singular patch as a state of momentary turbulence entering into an “intelligent materialism” which “considers the world a network of primordial elements in communication” (Abbas, N. (ed.). 2008: p65). The stochastic repulsion of turbulences and thus patches (Serres, 2018: p114) creates in its wake an immanent network, a birthing of difference, actualized into the formation of multiple patches (or a patchwork), each their own mixture of smooth and striated within a vortex-qua-striation, a space trembling vortically until its declination back to zero.
These singular patches, these “Knotted points” in the fabric (Ibid, p150), working at the intersection of many other patches (Serres, 2006: pxvii) become the greatcoat-qua-patchwork. A temporally-crumpling plane, a “combinatory topology in the literal sense” (Serres, 2018: p122) and a cybernetic combination of chemistry and contemporary physics (Ibid, p147), alongside being “-the birth of things – the fundamental mode of existence of all things”(Ibid, p122) and so “the angle of the atom” i.e. the clinamen, is not just ‘the freedom of the subject’ (Ibid, p27) as Serres states, but truly is freedom in the purest sense, away from political, geographical and metaphysical tyranny. As I previously made clear, the Lucretian process is in part synonymous with the transition of smooth to striated space and as such allows for the becoming of a space wherein cities or empires may occur (Deleuze, G. Guattari, F, 2016: p575). The greatcoat-qua-laminar as world map, is atomically indebted to the Lucretian process and thus assimilates the same process onto its own periphery, therefore, to return to the clinamen, we find our single revolutionary atom has transformed into the physical embodiment of a patchwork-becoming; a clinamen-qua-nomad cuts through longitude and latitude, slicing the grid of striation, following the process through, until, atop the greatcoats’ periphery we find a vortex-becoming-city, the birth of a patch. This is how the atomic language allows us to become master. (Serres, 2006: p48)
Not a master of the centre, for a universal centre only exists for a single emperor – hence the never ceasing laughter of the public (Ibid, pxv)-, but the master of a patch or single centre, or unified composite of patches, for “you need a cross to locate the a centre” (Ibid, p18) and as such any idea of subjective centrality implies a composite of interlacing patches. Not a point on a line, nor a line between points (Deleuze, G. Guattari, F, 2016: p 559) but a mixture of both systems, wherein the former point on a line is a nomad-qua-clinamen bifurcating the stable line-qua-relation of the latter line between points, the points of which are vortex-qua-striation, a quasi-chaotic process which gives birth to “a topology of interlacings, a hydrology of what flows through the network” (Serres, 2018: p72) And so each crossing, – not perpendicular, but sporadic – each line between points is additional communication within the global topology of subjective relations. And so “the world is only laminar flux” (Ibid, p79) the perpetual order from atomic disorder, birthing into lines between points, birthing into smooth spaces from the clinamen, the nomadic clinamen intensifying/drawing smooth space from the greatcoats’ laminar fabric and following the process forward into further spaces of striation, striated vortexes, which are allocated patches of striation upon the world and as such potential empires (Deleuze, G. Guattari, F, 2016: p 575). Each of which flows in relation to that which it previously deviated from, a topology. A topology atop the temporal handkerchief, each patch a historic-cultural stability with the potential for the metaphorical warp, the temporal superimposing. The greatcoat temporally crumpled, ripped and torn, nomadically sliced, divided and transformed, approximately striated, allocated and allotted, topologically connected, related and interwoven. Or put very simply “The world is a multiplicity of flows inclined in relation to others” (Serres, 2018: p79).
One now views the greatcoat and finds it true that “existence is topological rather than geometrical” (Herzogenrath, B. (ed.). 2012: p44). The greatcoat-qua-world-map is a cybernetic wonder, a topological network and a geographical patchwork. All a constant mixture, patches as deviation from equilibrium on their rise from zero into stable vortexes – striated compound spaces -, towards their decline and deterioration back to zero. “Knotted points occur” in the fabric (Serres, 2018: p150) and are swiftly assimilated back into the laminar flow – the dull embroidery-, a patch is a moment, it is an event within the grand greatcoat and is prey to the realities of physics and so many cease simultaneously as others may begin. The patches stagnating and disappearing when moved to the singular melded patchwork, the owned unification, but when moved towards a global topology however, rags and patches grow and die, become and decline in relation to the Lucretian process. In accordance with an intelligent nonlinear materialism.
Nonsecular or: Perturbed Over Time
You feel the greatcoat’s fabric against your skin; the stagnated and complacent patches feel all too familiar, it is unification a priori. No one speaks of the emperor’s old clothes, incandescent and utterly complacent in their assimilation, each rag, tatter and patch heralding a part accepted. Why bother with the stage if the purpose of your theatrics is to boast a truth, your own truth. A voice from the back calls out “Cast your coat to the floor!” A patchwork wound so tight as to suffocate, each part atomically chained to the next. You cast it into the global, the threads loosen and one can finally breathe. You shed your coat and it crumples onto the floor. You walk to the back of the theatre and take up a spare seat. Surrounded by a thousand languages, bereft of commonality. Amongst the cackling of the audience you ponder what’s so funny, a man to your right taps you on the shoulder, directing your attention to the stage. Your vision surveys the room. Everyone’s naked, their heads rocking in hysterics. You follow their line of sight to atop the staging. At first you see your old greatcoat, a greying heap slumped onto the boards. Minutes pass and you relax into the crowd. Your greatcoat livens, multiple gradients of colour wash across each patch. Your grin begins to widen. Threads begin to dive and fray, dance and duck. The greatcoat leaps from the floor, a few feet into the air, halting momentarily before finally exploding into a web of patches and tatters! Growing and shrinking, thickening and curling they dance along their threads of relation, you begin to chuckle. Until finally, materializing from the void of the stage, appearing from nowhere come a thousand separate greatcoats each retaining the singular for a mere moment before erupting into the dynamic physicality of multiplicity, a world of flows before you, a play of interweaving. You relax into the gales of laughter as the final remnants of your old greatcoat naturalize into the frenzy.
In conclusion one finds that not only is the Lucretian process relevant to the formation of a Serresean patchwork, but it is in fact integral to its structure, to the structure of global topological construction. From the process one understands the clinamen-qua-nomad as that which acts as the pre-condition of the world. The clinamen which in relation to Deleuzoguattarian space acts too as the physical atomic embodiment of freedom against the sequential limit-form of striation. Striation-qua-laminar-flow in its universal allocation as parallel-void becomes the chaotic-nothingness of zero wherein everything can divide from. Division which in its spatially smooth/turbulent transition simultaneously draws smooth space and circuitry of relation; a stochastic bifurcation into turbulent deviation and onwards into topological communication. This process finds its physical conclusion atop Serres metaphoric patchwork-qua-world robes. The global periphery as laminar-fabric transforming via the division of a nomadic-thread which then incepts a turbulence, a knot-becoming-vortex, continuing into an unstable-stable vortical movement of multiple axis concluding in the formation of things, adhering to an intelligent materialism. Upon analysing the ‘Serresean patchwork’ one finds a process of multiplicity which in accordance with its underlying Lucretian flow is only analysable in its separate parts, but only tangible, realized and sublime in its whole. That is, the Lucretian vortex must be still spinning, for observing this patchwork changes the outcome.
Serres, M (2018) The Birth of Physics. Trans. Webb, D. Ross, W., New York, Rowland & Littlefield
Serres, M (2006) The Troubadour of Knowledge. Trans. Glaser, S.F. Paulson, W. U.S.A, University of Michigan Press
Serres, M (2007) The Parasite. Trans. Schehr, R.L. Minnesota, University of Minnesota Press.
Serres, M (2017) The Five Senses. Trans. Sankey, M. Cowley, P. London, Bloomsbury Publishing
Serres, M (2011) The Natural Contract. Trans. MacArthur, E. Paulson, W. U.S.A, University of Michigan Press
Deleuze, G. Guattari, F (2016) A Thousand Plateaus. Trans. Massumi, B. London, Bloomsbury Publishing
Lezra, J. (ed.). Blake, L. (ed.) (2016) Lucretius and Modernity. UK, Palgrave Macmillan
Abbas, N. (ed.). (2008) Mapping Michel Serres. U.S.A, University of Michigan Press
Herzogenrath, B. (ed.). (2012) Time and History in Deleuze and Serres. London, Continuum International Publishing Group
Serres, M. Latour, B. (1998) Conversations on Science, Culture and Time. U.S.A, University of Michigan Press
Lee, C, T. (2014) Haptic Experience in the Writings of Georges Bataille, Maurice Blanchot and Michel Serres. Germany, Peter Lang.
We begin here with Lucretius, the Roman poet and philosopher, or more aptly poet-philosopher. A thinker whose work within physics, especially his Atomism can be described as Deleuzian, and thus you should know about it, as it’s in and of and with the future already. So here we have it –
– a laminar flow. A series or parallel lines running next to each other, put very simply, let’s make it clearer for you –
– now the lines or ‘the flow’ are/is heading downwards. This laminar flow, or laminar plane consists of a series of atomic threads or lines, each parallel to the next and entirely stable within the void, heading downwards on an/the ‘extreme descent’ eternally – all thanks to the law of the optimal path – now, think of this laminar plane as time, or as a temporal laminar plane and the resulting possible/potential shifts of the atomic threads as possible/potential alterations to the physical world…due to the fact time has been altered.
Now, let’s begin the exciting bit. What is called ‘the swerve’ or more academically the ‘clinamen‘:
When atoms move straight down through the void by their own weight, they deflect a bit in space at a quite uncertain time and in uncertain places, just enough that you could say that their motion has changed. But if they were not in the habit of swerving, they would all fall straight down through the depths of the void, like drops of rain, and no collision would occur, nor would any blow be produced among the atoms. In that case, nature would never have produced anything. – Lucretius, De rerum natura
So, that is, one of those atomic threads within the laminar flow is changed, altered, swerved etc. it is no longer parallel or in harmony or eternal with the rest of the threads, and as such a change within history has been made. One could think of the laminar flow as an extremely simplistic cybernetic circuit for the entirety of human history if they liked, it wouldn’t matter much, for an Accelerationist reading will bring our demise, so let’s begin.
Acceleration(ism) enters. And due to the very nature of the laminar flow the only way in which something can alter the flow itself is to enter it diagonally, for the flow is vertical. This diagonal movement made by Accelerationism – remember Accelerationism is synonymous with Capitalismism – is a temporal movement, a movement in time, and as this movement is not simply in-keeping with the eternal Sisyphean drudgery of those other parallel atomic threads one can begin to analyse its – this new diagonal line’s – end, for that which is changing the course of such eternal descending bliss must have way of conclusion or end. So one should assess Accelerationism’s approach to obstacles.
Well, what are Accelerationism’s obstacles? Literally that which could potentially hinder its self-fulfillment, which, due to its very nature is very, very few things. How do we assess its approach? Well we give an assessment of its/our current access, presence, absence, strength, weakness and availability of that which could either constrain or bolster its direction towards its end goal. Or more succinctly:
“How well is capital doing?”
“Help me! They’ve commodified my every thought!”
It’s doing well. So well in fact that it routinely surprises even the most Bear Grylls-esque Outside-investigators as to its methods of temporal self-fulfilment. Rarely do such temporal end goals exist in such clear cut ways, rarely is there such finality to a temporal movement. That’s because it’s not just one thread being pulled.
The diagonal alteration of the laminar flow by Accelerationism, or, the machinic-clinamen, is itself capital. Capital which is going to alter or ‘swerve’ each and every singular atomic flow it needs to as a means for its own machinically desired end. That is capital swerves the laminar plane hyper-diagonally into the temporal circuitry of a cybernetic market process which utilizes the entirety of ‘history’ (meaningless in context to the plane) and agency (also meaningless) as a means for its own self-fulfillment, its own immortality…its own becoming.
Welcome, one and all to a future already designed, the culmination of multiple perfectly machnically-swerved atomic threads that have always-already instigated their own birth. To say you’re a meat-puppet, that’s the understatement of eternity.
TL;DR: Capitalism(ism) isn’t just reaching into the future & past to control its own becoming, but is in fact taking control of the very physics of being as a means for its own becoming.
The Accelerationist (Acc) ritual is as follows: “Accelerate the process.” It’s best repeated at the end of a long, didactic blog post which alludes to multiple niche sources. The ritual in its usual form comes from Deleuze & Guattari’s Anti-Oedipus, and is to be found at the end of a section titled ‘The Civilized Capitalist Machine’, which along with the earlier sections on ‘The Desiring-Machines’ are all must reads for anyone interested in Acc and the Acc-sphere. The ritual itself is often taken for granted. For we have all read vast amounts about ‘acceleration’ now, and so the ritual seems self-explanatory, yet it this so? Has not the latter part of the ritual, ‘the process’ been left alone, if not mistaken for acceleration itself. The ritual is to be found like so:
“Or might it be to go in the opposite direction? To go still further, that is, in the movement of the market, of decoding and deterritorialization? For perhaps the flows are not yet deterritorialized enough, not decoded enough, from the viewpoint of a theory and a practice of a highly schizophrenic character. Not to withdraw from the process, but to go further, to “accelerate the process,” as Nietzsche put it: in this matter, the truth is that we haven’t seend anything yet..” (p276, Anti-Oedipus)
In relation to Anti-Oedipus this quote is – surprisingly – quite self-explanatory. That is, the Deleuzoguattarian ‘acceleration of process’ is the acceleration of the decoding and deterritorializing that is inherent within capitalism, to allow the markets and capitalism itself to continue its production of producers-of-production – roughly speaking. Yet what if one is to take a single step back and withdraw to the source of the ritual, to Nietzsche’s The Will to Power:
“The strong who are to come. In the past, it was only by a combination of necessity and chance that the conditions for the production of a stronger kind of man were occasionally realized. But now, we can understand and consciously choose them: we can create conditions under which such an elevation is possible.-” (p510, a898, The Will to Power)
Nietzsche here speaking of his rope, from animal to man to Superman, or perhaps merely a greater form of man as a means for the coming of the Superman, either way Nietzsche’s point of conscious choice and creation of conditions is in conflict with the supposed apolitical nature of Deleuze & Guattari’s ritual.
“So far, ‘education’ has sought to benefit society: not as much as possible for the sake of mankind’s future, but for that of present-day, established society. What was wanted were ‘tools’ for its use. But suppose the accumulated wealth of energy were greaterm we could contemplate the possibility of setting aside a certain amount of that for the purpose of investing, not in society, but in the future. The present form of society is undergoing such a powerful transformation that at some point it will no longer be able to exist for its own sake, but only as the instrument in the hands of a stronger race. The more the extent of this transformation is understood, the more urgent it will be to set such a task.” (ibid)
The quarrelsome education system stuck within its own contemporary loop, unable to set aside assets for the future, unable to allow itself to even attend the future, even in the most hopelessly meagre ideas. You’ll notice too that Nietzsche doesn’t talk of investing in a future society, but only future, for the ‘society’ of the future, (hopefully) inclusive of a greater form of man would be so different to contemporary society that taking such an investment trajectory would be futile.
“The progressive diminution of man is precisely what compels us to consider the cultivation of a stronger race: a race which would have a surplus of precisely that in which the diminished species had become weak and was growing weaker (will, responsibility, self-assurance, the ability to set goals for oneself). The means to accomplish this would be those which history teaches: isolation by virtue of the fact that one’s needs and interests are contrary to those which are usual nowadays; practice in the contrary value judgements; distance as pathos; a clear conscience about is today most belittled and forbidden.” (ibid)
This section actualizing a bastardized form wherein L/Acc & R/Acc are flattened and stripped down to something quite horrific. The remaining flattened entity is that which has drawn out the process of man’s emancipation via capitalist acceleration, yet has retained its trajectory atop convergent waves. The emancipation, self-actualization, will and weight of man utilizing the immanent force of right-accelerationist convergent waves as a means for its own ascension.
“That great process, the levelling of European man, is not to be retarded; it should even be accelerated.” (ibid)
Man must be consciously flattened, made horizontal.
“This levelled species requires a justification, once it has been attained; its justification is the service it provides to a superior, sovereign species who stands upon it and can arise and accomplish its tasks only upon this basis.” (ibid)
“only upon this basis.” as such the process must come prior, man must become levelled prior to anything, man as the actualizer of the superior is a notion that still stands whether we ‘accelerate’ or not. And so to accelerate without this process of the levelling of [European] man in place one could argue that man is merely letting the future take the wheel, allowing conclusionless convergent waves take hold, without the levelling of man we accelerate along reversed temporal ripples that are heading towards a non-event, towards 0 itself.
The process, with thanks to Deleuze & Guattari, has become overcomplicated, ‘the process’ in its conservative (Nietzschean) state is quite straightforward, it is the cultivation of “that in which the diminished species had become weak and was growing weaker (will, responsibility, self-assurance, the ability to set goals for oneself).” (ibid)
The levelling, the conscious choosing, the creation of conditions is a must. Acceleration without conditions is allowing humanity to wither within an entropic-feedback loop of its own despair (contemporary progress), until it eventually fades into nothingness, dragging the ritual with it. As such, Acceleration must have conditions, for if it doesn’t what is it other that dull, decadent nihilism?
This is a disappointing entry into my series, it really is, there’s no questioning the feeble nature of my analytic skills this time around. We begin with Murnau’s Tabu (1931) and hell, I got nothing to say, the film bored me, I struggled to watch, I found it utterly tiresome with very little to drag from its odd domain. Le Million (1931) was a non-find. Which brings me to this entry’s biggest flop City Lights (1931) often heralded as Chaplin’s magnum opus this film did very little for me. Chaplin’s ‘Tramp’ is a try-hard and I cannot be bothered with him, I find something so utterly despicable about his presence, his fumbling, tripping and accidental luck frustrate me, his conclusions make me role my eyes and his faux-sentimentality makes his suspicious, I said before and I shall say again, Chaplin simply doesn’t fit this era…Chaplin and school shootings cannot coexist. A Nous Le Liberte (1931) forgettable, I left it a little while before writing this entry and I cannot remember a single thing of this film.
Finally, some light in the darkness, Fritz Lang’s M (1931) is a masterpiece, there’s no question. I wont bother with comparison, ranking against Metropolis, they’re too different. From its very beginning M brings from the outside sounds and paranoia, a danger lurks just out of sight for us viewers, there’s a constant unease – even with killer in shot – that control has been lost and something entirely unnannounced may enter diagonally into the social-linear at any moment. This world of M rife with purchase of crime fiction, with crime and danger as capital and commodity, a societal lust for both overrides the real danger of a psychotic break. And thus from this mass connection via the overarching spell and enticement of crime begins the media’s hysteria, fuelled by fear, paranoia and murder; a mass contagion brough into existence by the failure of authority to act, to secure and to make those accountable safe. And so the murder is needed by many as a structural pivot. The media needs its existence to fuel their profits, the police their job and so society, the public are the ones left nearest the outside. A lot gets lost amongst the smoke of a hundred smoking gents here. The truth of danger flutters into a nothingness amongst the lusts and profits of the apathetic. The whistle warning offscreen marks the neglect of family, of children, of the family-unit. That which should be protected is currently at danger from the malicious whistle.
There is much that can constrain or suffocate a work of thought, of theory, of philosophy. There are editors, critics and shills, classical religious and political bodies, demonstrations, burnings and bannings, yet none more harmful to a work of thought that that which promises it its sceptical freedom, indeed it is the Academy itself which is sole eroder of a theoretical work’s decency. It is the Academy in all forms which pollutes the very root it so promises to help grow. I say in all forms for the Academy has and always will enter into various areas of critique under different names. Whether it’s a Chomskyan Manufacturing, a Moldbuggian ‘Cathedral’, a doomsayer’s ‘devil-machine’, a Serresian ‘Parasite’, Debord’s ‘Spectacle’ or plain old media-systems-propaganda-worship, that which attempts to broadcast art, theory, music or vision to the masses always does so via a lense of constriction, and thus that which you are seeing, hearing or reading has already been tampered with.
Mirroring Buren’s essay wherein I found inspiration for this piece, one must define the function of the Academy:
It is the place where the work originates.
It is generally a place of WEIRDness: Western, educated, industrialized, rich and democratic. It is indebted and economically-umbilically linked to a WEIRD government or state.
It is a stationary place where portable and lucid works are produced.
And thus the contemporary importance of the Academy is established, and if one is hopefully not too blind, they can see as to why a work created in such a place may have a few progressive stains dribbled upon it, or as to why certain work might not make it out alive so to speak. Buren calls the studio the ‘first limit’, upon which all subsequent limits will depends. Yet the Academy is not just some vague room in which anything can be produced, it is quintessentially WEIRD and that is thus our first limit. The Academy of course is also where numerous critics, lecturers, tutors, reviewers, scholars and specialists come to review papers, dissertations and thesis’ to see if they make the cut, to see if they’re moulded or mouldable enough to jump through the Academic hoops, if not of course there’s a pre-constructed system to deal with work unfit for Academy consumption: a bad grade. As such it is the Academy and its practioners alone whom decide that which is a continuation, that which is to become canon, that which is to be the ‘correct’ reading; it is the Academy and the Academy alone which decides whether or not a work shall become part of its and thus the recognized ‘future’.
And so as Buren’s ‘studio’ is the reality for the work of art, so too is the Academy the reality for the work of philosophy. Much like Buren’s claims of art, the work of philosophy too becomes more mature the further it distances itself from the death-grip of the Academy, the further it strays away from the world of checkboxes, grading and marking the further it enters into the actual world of thought and freedom. And so Buren proclaims:
“If the work of art remains in the studio, however, it is the artist that risks death…from starvation…”
So too does the philosopher, writer or theorist risk death if their work remains within the Academy. One will find once they free their work from the academic cult of WEIRDness that is is finally able to breath, to live and to…feel uncomfortable. Indeed the supports you so relied upon within your industrialized-education-complex wither and die at the sight of an original mind, one not poisoned by the water of WEIRD canals. Unlike Buren’s art-from-the-studio however, one may, can and should produce work outside the Academy, not with the Academy and not of the Academy. Imagine that dear fellows, writing what it is that actually comes to your mind when reading Kant, Nietzsche, Hobbes or Rousseau without feeling an authoritarian obligation to sculp your supposedly contrarian musings into another dreary Academic repetition.
And so I say to you ‘amateur’ or ‘professional’ or ‘practicing’ philosopher there is no such thing. You have been moulded, your work sculped and the higher your form of personal academic achievement the further your work has been lost to the chasms of WEIRDness. So where does one wander once they’re banished or have managed escape from the Academy, sitting atop its marble steps you ponder what to write about, who and when to write about. After the Academy there no longer has to be a why, when, who or what as to you’re writing. You’re writing because you are writing. Your work becomes entirely its own existing for its own sake, within a decaying blog, or viral pamphlet. Your thesis read by 4 people disintegrated into the WEIRD-abyss, rife with merit-signalling and brown-nosing. Your 4000 word pulsating screed on the hell-time of a cybernetic patchwork transition stage on the other hand was read and enjoyed by many.
If the work of philosophy remains in the Academy, the philosopher and philosophy both risk death.
 The Function of the Studio – Daniel Buren