Saturday, February 11, 2017

In the end it all dovetails, everything I've watched for 40 years: curdled idealism and mannerist fragility, engineers' anti-humanism, academic theorizing, the celebration of autistic reason, preadolescent sexuality in adolescence and adulthood, from Weininger to Scott Aaronson

"People say that Andy said he was a machine. But he didn't. He said he wanted to be a machine and that's not the same thing at all."

The world is just a barrel-organ which the Lord God turns Himself.
We all have to dance to the tune which is already on the drum.

Living in a silent film...

The explicitly left slides into the explicitly right. A hundred years ago they understood.
"...he told me that even if he were to give me an answer, I would not understand it."

Fascism is a symptom and a sensibility. Vanguardism is romantic pedantry in modernity.

1
White House chief strategist Steve Bannon has been in contact via intermediaries with Curtis Yarvin, Politico Magazine reported this week. Yarvin, a software engineer and blogger, writes under the name Mencius Moldbug. His anti-egalitarian arguments have formed the basis for a movement called “neoreaction.”

The main thrust of Yarvin’s thinking is that democracy is a bust; rule by the people doesn’t work, and doesn’t lead to good governance. He has described it as an “ineffective and destructive” form of government, which he associates with “war, tyranny, destruction and poverty.” Yarvin’s ideas, along with those of the English philosopher Nick Land, have provided a structure of political theory for parts of the white-nationalist movement calling itself the alt-right. The alt-right can be seen as a political movement; neoreaction, which adherents refer to as NRx, is a philosophy. At the core of that philosophy is a rejection of democracy and an embrace of autocratic rule.
2
The first weeks of the Trump presidency have brought as much focus on the White House’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon, as on the new president himself. But if Bannon has been the driving force behind the frenzy of activity in the White House, less attention has been paid to the network of political philosophers who have shaped his thinking and who now enjoy a direct line to the White House.

They are not mainstream thinkers, but their writings help to explain the commotion that has defined the Trump administration’s early days. They include a Lebanese-American author known for his theories about hard-to-predict events; an obscure Silicon Valley computer scientist whose online political tracts herald a “Dark Enlightenment”; and a former Wall Street executive who urged Donald Trump’s election in anonymous manifestos by likening the trajectory of the country to that of a hijacked airplane—and who now works for the National Security Council.

Bannon, described by one associate as “the most well-read person in Washington,” is known for recommending books to colleagues and friends, according to multiple people who have worked alongside him. He is a voracious reader who devours works of history and political theory “in like an hour,” said a former associate whom Bannon urged to read Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. “He’s like the Rain Man of nationalism.”
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Land was our Nietzsche – with the same baiting of the so-called progressive tendencies, the same bizarre mixture of the reactionary and the futuristic, and a writing style that updates nineteenth century aphorisms into what Kodwo Eshun called “text at sample velocity.” Speed— in the abstract and the chemical sense— was crucial here: telegraphic tech-punk provocations replacing the conspicuous cogitation of so much post-structuralist continentalism, with its implication that the more laborious and agonised the writing, the more thought must be going on.

Whatever the merits of Land’s other theoretical provocations (and I’ll suggest some serious problems with them presently), Land’s withering assaults on the academic left - or the embourgeoisified state-subsidised grumbling that so often calls itself academic Marxism – remain trenchant. The unwritten rule of these “careerist sandbaggers” is that no one seriously expects any renunciation of bourgeois subjectivity to ever happen. Pass the Merlot, I’ve got a career’s worth of quibbling critique to get through. So we see a ruthless protection of petit bourgeois interests dressed up as politics. Papers about antagonism, then all off to the pub afterwards. Instead of this, Land took earnestly—to the point of psychosis and auto-induced schizophrenia—the Spinozist-Nietzschean-Marxist injunction that a theory should not be taken seriously if it remains at the level of representation.

What, then, is Land’s philosophy about?

In a nutshell: Deleuze and Guattari’s machinic desire remorselessly stripped of all Bergsonian vitalism, and made backwards-compatiblewith Freud’s death drive and Schopenhauer’s Will. The Hegelian-Marxist motor of history is then transplanted into this pulsional nihilism: the idiotic autonomic Will no longer circulating idiotically on the spot, but upgraded into a drive, and guided by a quasi-teleological artificial intelligence attractor that draws terrestrial history over a series of intensive thresholds that have no eschatological point of consummation, and that reach empirical termination only contingently if and when its material substrate burns out. This is Hegelian-Marxist historical materialism inverted: Capital will not be ultimately unmasked as exploited labour power; rather, humans are the meat puppet of Capital, their identities and self-understandings are simulations that can and will be ultimately be sloughed off.
4
This summer, I seriously considered withdrawing from any involvement in politics. Exhausted through overwork, incapable of productive activity, I found myself drifting through social networks, feeling my depression and exhaustion increasing.

‘Left-wing’ Twitter can often be a miserable, dispiriting zone. Earlier this year, there were some high-profile twitterstorms, in which particular left-identifying figures were ‘called out’ and condemned. What these figures had said was sometimes objectionable; but nevertheless, the way in which they were personally vilified and hounded left a horrible residue: the stench of bad conscience and witch-hunting moralism. The reason I didn’t speak out on any of these incidents, I’m ashamed to say, was fear. The bullies were in another part of the playground. I didn’t want to attract their attention to me.
5
Last week the writer Mark Fisher took his own life. His on/off struggle with depression was something he wrote about with courageous candour in articles and in his landmark book Capitalist Realism: is There No Alternative? Fisher argued that the pandemic of mental anguish that afflicts our time cannot be properly understood, or healed, if viewed as a private problem suffered by damaged individuals. Rather, it was the symptom of a heartless and hopeless politics: precarious employment and flexible work patterns, the erosion of class solidarity and its institutions such as unions, and the relentless message from mainstream political parties and media alike that “there is no alternative” to managerial capitalism. That this is as good as it gets – so deal with it.

Finally the depression that Fisher, 48, had dissected acutely and fought against doggedly got the better of him. He left behind a wife and young son, a close-knit network of friends, allies, colleagues and students, and an ever-widening readership, all of whom were waiting always to hear what he had to say next.
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Mark Fisher memorial fund launched in wake of music writer’s death 
The collection has been set up to raise money for Mark’s wife, Zoë and his young son, George.

A memorial fund for Mark Fisher, the influential music writer and theorist who died last Friday (January 13), has been launched by a group of his colleagues, comrades and friends.

Fisher, who contributed regularly to FACT in the magazine’s early years, used his K-Punk blog as a platform for examining mainstream and underground music from a cultural theorist’s perspective. In 2009, he published Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative?, on Zero books was also a founder member of Warwick University’s Cybernetic Culture Research Unit.

The collection has been set up to raise money for Mark’s wife, Zoë and his young son, George, “in the hope that it will allow them space to grieve and come to terms with their loss, and reduce the number of things they have to deal with at this devastating time.”

You can donate to the memorial fund via YouCaring.

Musicians, writers, theorists and colleagues have been paying tribute in the days since his death, with Fisher’s friend and comrade Simon Reynolds describing him as “a cult figure,” and “the most original and provocative writer about popular culture – and its interface with the political – of the last fifteen years.”

Owen Hatherley, whose book – Militant Modernism – came out on Zero Books in 2009, recalled his “last happy memory” of Fisher at a Zero Books event in Zagreb around five years ago, while music writer David Stubbs, writing for The Quietus, called Fisher’s Capitalist Realism “his most vital text,” and “among the most vital political texts of the 21st century.”

Music writer Adam Harper, whose blog Rouge’s Foam was inspired by K-Punk, recalled the first time he met Fisher in 2010, writing: “Mark isn’t just the figure behind every significant thing I’ve done as a critic. His theory is now deeply embedded in who I am and what I say.”

Verso author Juliet Jacques called Fisher “a rare example of a popular British academic,” on the Verso blog, urging readers to return to Mark’s work.

Read next: Mark Fisher on The Pop Group’s enduring radicalism
A wasted life dedicated to an illusion, and a final selfish act abandoning a wife and child. A life lived in a bubble, the present tense, his own experience, repeating others' mistakes, out of "fandom".

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