META-NOMAD

Immortality is More Profitable

“People, like civilizations, are mortal, and no matter how much money and technology gets poured into the task of keeping either one alive, sooner or later it won’t be enough.” – John Michael Greer, The Strategy of Salvage.

Once again, I’m going to alter the Greerean civilization angle towards one of personal sovereignty. Mortality is our reality, in all things. This is the truth that even the most Rousseau-hardened optimists have trouble accepting. People, states, families, heritages, traditions, fads and ideas are all mortal, they will all end. Unfortunately, we live within a system which finds this truth abhorrent for the fact it goes against everything it stands for. Ending, stagnation and stopping, there is nothing more troublesome to modernity and runaway capitalism than this. And so, wherever you look, you will find pitiful attempts at immortality…whatever the cost.

At risk of acting like modernity itself, I actually see this as an argument and reality regarding energy. There comes a point within all existences in which the energy ceases in its ability to be converted into life by the existence itself, the requirement henceforth then – if one wishes to keep that existence ‘alive’ – is an external source of energy, which acts as a life-line, or existence support machine. I am thoroughly of the opinion that if an existence can no longer support itself, it should be left to peacefully fade away…for modernity, this is the wrong opinion.

We see these life/existence-support-machines everywhere, but we’re just taught to understand them as ‘the way things are’, the underlying message we are taught is that death is the worst of all outcomes, worse, in fact, than suffering. And that life should be maintained, even to the detriment of its own quality, even if by keeping it going it has a net-negative regarding quality.

Dying businesses get personal credit injections, dying trades get government subsidies, dying ideas get infected with nostalgic wills, dying traditions get riddled with parasitic clones, dying fads get their ironic rebirth and dying people are disallowed their reality entirely. We simply cannot allow death. We cannot allow it to appear, we cannot allow it to be seen and most of all, we cannot allow it to become a reality. Within modernity, death and suffering are not seen as outcomes of an unjust cosmos, but as accidents of a failed civilization; civilization as an idea has become synonymous with the eradication of pain and conclusion, there’s no money to be made from something which ceases to have an output.

But this idea of death is reliant on one’s definition of life, for there to be an antagonist or opposite, one needs the affirmation, the protagonist. The main character here is life, the idea of life. How ‘life’ is defined differs from person to person, and yet I imagine that there is a relatively accepted opinion that life is still living when one can actually do it; to live is an action. Modernity doesn’t see it this way. To modernity the subjective reality of ‘being alive’ is a matter of chemistry, politics and economics.

Modernity strips life of all its vitality and essence, one is reduced to chemistry in the manner of being monitored via various medication and intakes and blood tests, one is reduced to politics by way of being understood as a statistic in relation to various micro and macro political spaces, and, of course, one is reduced to an economic being by way of understanding that once one dies, they can no longer produce or consume, or more importantly, pay. 

Say what you like about the Deleuzoguattarian notion of machination, that we’re all just units which produce and consume, but it’s certainly the correct reading with regard to civilizational systems and underlying control mechanisms. One is understood, societally, simply as potential for economic input or output. The reason one is kept alive far beyond the point wherein all real life has left, is because if one is still chemically alive, then one is still economically life, and has the potential to create profit for some or other societal abstraction.

Unfortunately, the reason why these life-support systems seem so abhorrent to us, to the extent of causing a gut reaction of disgust, is because the living human finally seen to exist on the plane of existence they always existed upon, the plane of entropy and negentropy. When resource shortages interact with rising maintenance costs what one gets is a form of collapse. Now, we’re talking about a shortage of life itself, a shortage of pure being, which in turn is replaced by machinic appendages and tools, external aesthetic machinations of life which stand in for natural organs. This process is usually slow and steady, until one day, one is faced with their beloved all but gone, except for the process of breathing, maintained by various branded medical apparatus.

This is because immortality is more profitable; dying? How dare you! A dignified death is the gift of a dignified society. One where the definitions of life, death and suffering remain with those who truly partake in them and have not fallen into the hands of abstractions which don’t. There is nothing modernity is more hates more than something which not only wants to end, but wishes to choose when to do so. When something or someone says ‘I’ve had enough, I no longer want the drugs, I’ve had a good run…’, that isn’t seen by modernity as a separate agency making its will conscious, but is seen as a potential loss of control.

In Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West, Judge Holden – who for lack of a thorough analysis represents death, the devil and unforgivable entropy – states this: “Whatever in creation exists without my knowledge exists without my consent.” Of course, for the Judge, as with modernity, the reverse is also true, that which dies without my knowledge dies without my consent. Modernity is Judge Holden forcefully cramming pills, splints and needles into you until the last iota of your life force has been drained.

It is a crime to die of one’s own choice, whether or not your life is over is not your choice, but the choice of that which defines what both life and death are, and for that we rely on something entirely undead.


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The Myth of Progress

There have been thousands of essays just like this one, but I never got around to writing my own, so here it is. Guess what, progress is…strange. The very concept of progress now is – as mentioned in my Free Floating Power essay – a signifier without a true object or concept of signification. Let’s look at some definitions:

Progress:
1. Forward or onward movement towards a destination.
2. Development towards an improved or more advanced condition.

So if we’re to take the first definition here as our starting point, then we first need to question our destination. If we’re progressing then we must be progressing somewhere, right? Well, I can’t say for sure whether we’re going anywhere because it’s relatively difficult to see who or what it is that’s actually pulling our strings. With that said, without any clear destination progress, advancement and improvement are pretty much impossible. If you have no quantifiable metric to go off of (within the socio-industrial framework) then you can be doing practically anything and call it progress. If we tell ourselves that we need to get to a state of X, or we need to invent or build Y, then we have enough data to correctly assess whether or not we’re progressing. But once the entire concept of progressing is understood in relation to a rather loose assemblage of sociological and political tolerances and statements, well then we’re at the whim of conjecture, and whoever can askew the facts in the most innovative way is the winner.

This leads me to the second definition – development towards an improved or more advanced condition – firstly one has to ask, an improved or more advanced condition for whom? And within what context is advancement understood. The first word there, ‘improved’, is the most precarious in this context. Improved means entirely different things for different people, this much is obvious. But another difficulty with ‘improved’ is that for many improvement isn’t synonymous with advancement in technological culture or abstract social freedoms. For some people a return to tradition would be an improvement, for some people the singularity would be an improvement and for others the levelling of all industry would be improvement, and once all these viewpoints are all flattened onto the plane of progress one understands that it’s nothing but impossible to have a unified conception of progress. The same applies for the idea of an ‘advanced condition’, one assumes that this is theorized in relation to an advancement in technology and potential for social freedoms once again, that there is, in the oh-so mystical future, an abstract state of society which we’re lunging towards.

If this is the case, that we’re heading towards a sort of collective subconscious future which we all apparently implicitly understand is the correct thing to head towards, then what we’re venturing into is a fiction, and as such, will be – more or less – extremely alike the past, if not a mirror image with a different aesthetic. For whatever is understood as our future can only be understood in terms relative to what has been, the entire notion of progress rests on a linearity of thought which excludes and actively shuns innovation. Innovation is the greatest enemy of progress, because it could potentially allow us to move away from the notion of progress altogether.

It’s a case of questioning once again, and because progress implies some form of action (advancement, progressing, moving-towards etc.) then further questions arise. Where are we progressing to? What are we progressing towards? Who is progressing? Why do we want to progress? And on and on they go, questions which will never find an answer because the concept of progression is so malleable and plastic that it exists solely as a form to be used by the highest bidder. So, my own definition of progress: Progress means whatever those with power want it to mean; progress means whatever those in control of history want it to mean. The victors write the history books, but they do so in such a way as to define progress, and unfortunately, our history books are rife with unbridled technological and industrial optimism, unquestioned notions of freedom and abhorrence of exit. Which ties one into an unforgiving abstraction, the target of which is whatever is happens to be that day.

How can we call it a myth then? Well, let’s go back to good ol’ definitions:

Myth:

1. A traditional story, especially one concerning the early history of a people or explaining a natural or social phenomenon, and typically involving supernatural beings or events.

Now, progress is far from traditional, in fact, it has basically nothing to do with tradition in the sense that it only uses tradition to reach its own aim, as opposed to being tradition itself. It is most definitely a story, perhaps the earliest of stories, the one we’ve always told ourselves. Progress is the story in which the narrator is always correct, and everything the narrator has done is correct, and – most importantly – where the narrator is going is definitely the correct direction. It is the story with regards to one handing over their responsibility and action to an elusive abstraction. Sure, we tell ourselves lots and lots of stories in everyday life “I’ll do it later because X”, “I can’t do that now because Y”, “I always wanted to do Z but…” and on and on they go, but the overarching story which trumps all of these is the story of progress, the unconscious idea that even if individual things don’t get done, it doesn’t matter because we’re chugging along nicely anyway, a few mistakes, lacunae and occlusions don’t matter, because we’re always progressing.

What’s left to say of progress other than nothing, it doesn’t exist, except in extremely limited cases where there’s a clear metric and secure personal or collective context, but even then it can become flimsy quite quickly. Handing over your ideals to progress is giving up all personal sovereignty for the comfort of a controlled abstraction, and it’s not always easy to see who or what is doing the controlling.


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Anti-Pleroma: Progressivism Bows to the Yoke

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Progress melts at the sight/site of the unconscious.

 

 

[1] The Gnostic Jung