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Basically, delimitation instantly creates infinite proliferation.
But Western or Occidental metaphysics, which is basically ancient Greek metaphysics, doesn’t like infinity. The ancient Greeks liked odd numbers, not even numbers, because they thought even numbers led to infinity.
Occidental thought didn’t find infinity to be thinkable or desirable.
So, Western theology and metaphysics were reduced to the language of this lack of understanding.
There is a sequence of Western sociocultural presences in which signs of the infinite are permitted and even encouraged. Usually within the formalisms of mathematics and the mysticisms of religious and fantasy, cultures and genres.
Even in contemporary times, the infinite is usually considered in terms of its operational values within contexts of mundane practicality.
It’s within such contexts of mundane practicality, that the West discovered its raison d’etre and it’s within such contexts that it developed the obsession with reality, with what was real and what wasn’t; what could be done and what couldn’t.
It led to what could be called, ‘Promethean theology’, to coin a phrase.
The West or Occident is always trying to do creation ex nihilo.
Always trying to mimic the only God conceivable from its characteristic brand of stubborn ignorance.
That characteristic brand produces as corollary, the characteristic impulse of Western theology and its subsidiary social and disciplinary expressions.
The brand and impulse of the metaphysical model of creation ex nihilo – that “out of nothingness” – is the so-called, “nihilism”, which is the characteristic metaphysical sign of “modernity” and other cultural formations of the Occident.
The chance to “begin again”, as the blimp advertising “off world” emigration, declares, in the film, Blade Runner.
But the chance to “begin again”; “to be reborn” as evangelical Christianity would have it; to “watch out for worlds behind you” as Nico sings with the Velvet Underground; all of these constitute the usual existential semiotics of modernist rupture, which itself is the corollary of Christian apocalypse.
The West does all of this because the counterposition of nothingness enables the positioning of totality for “full-spectrum domination”, as the USA likes to say.
It’s only from the position of nothingness that the totality becomes available.
If the totality is desired, then there is nothing “left over”, so to speak, from the object of desire.
Nothing except the desirer, of course; but the desirer, consumed by a totalitarian desire because of the desire for totality, necessarily forgets itself as an object and is consumed by the totality of its desire. It loses itself in the principle of its own conquest; in the principle of “full-spectrum domination” to which the totality is expected to submit.
It’s probably the case that the European mind never recovered from the so-called, Dark Ages, and the mediaeval period wasn’t exactly a picnic, either. I’ve written, or mentioned, before, about the characteristic “deprivation anxiety” afflicting Northern European psychology.
Looking at the crucible of historical forces it becomes possible to discern the incubation of such affliction and the inculcation of a hysteria of avarice which finds contemporary expression in the spectacles and stagings of consumerism – in consumer society and consumer desire.
The West has been so busy trying to disingenuously deny its “anxiety of influence” (see Harold Bloom) with respect to non-Western cultures and to always “begin again”, that it has got stuck in a cycle of constant and whimsical renewal, stuck in the treadmill of ever-ending trends reflecting only the superficiality of the Occidental mind and that Occidental culture is an oxymoron, the culture of no culture.
This is because its essence is stalled at the nihilistic moment of its totalising mission.
Totalising can mean both destruction (in the vernacular) and summing.
Destruction is commonly said to result in nothing.
It’s the subtraction of a structure.
Summing is the summing of all structures, leaving “nothing” as the remainder.
The nihilistic calculus of destruction is positioned with regard to the voluntary, to Occidental voluntarism, by Heidegger: “Rather than not will, it wills nothing (destruction) at all” Heidegger
Schopenhauer, however, short-circuits the Heideggerian quandary of Occidental voluntarism:
“On the contrary, we freely acknowledge that what remains after the complete abolition of the will is, for all who are still full of the will, assuredly nothing. But also conversely, to those in whom the will has turned and denied itself, this very real world of ours with all its suns and galaxies, is – nothing.
This “nothing,” however, “is also the PrajnaParamita of the Buddhists, the ‘beyond all knowledge,’ in other words, the point where subject and object no longer exist.” (WWR, pp 41112)
It’s an interesting roundabout of metaphysical motifs that have gathered themselves together in this disquisition on delimitation and its history of metaphysical effects, one of which is the very notion of history, itself. So, anachronistic retrogression or retrogressive anachrony?
History is contingent on time; time is contingent on temporal delimitation.
I think there’s an article somewhere associating Michel Foucault with so-called, ‘neoliberalism’.
Postmodern and poststructuralist critiques, whether of Marxism or anything else, are important qualifying stages of epistemological, ontological, and other forms of, reflexivity; forms of reflexivity that require more than just practical, pragmatic, or Occidental-theoretical, understandings.
Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened. Instead, there have been all kinds of reactive epistemology, things like ‘speculative realism’; object-oriented ontology; and even the various cults of immanence, some of which attach themselves to Deleuze and Guattari.
It’s interesting that someone like Nick Land preferred the seeming tangibility of Deleuze and Guattari, instead of what he saw as the ‘academic formalism’ of Derrida. It’s obvious that he did not understand Derrida.
It’s then interesting to see his taking up with right-wing politics, something that is arguably not at all disconnected from his philosophical preferences and dislikes.
In my own work, of course, I have observed a general movement that can be called Occidental positivism, which probably isn’t that far away from Derrida’s logocentrism.
The entire Occident is caught up in its own ‘brand’ of positivism which proceeds according to its distinctly ‘marked’ epistemology, in one direction only. It knows of no other way but this proprietary and unilinear herding of knowledge.
This is why it could not solve the paradox of desire, because it was spellbound by the hypostatic and substantialising atrophy of its own principle of desire, which it could only image as the loveless invariance of servile control.
It is this age-old image of imperial security, intrinsically belonging to the West, that is attempting to rehabilitate and readjust itself according to its ridiculous philosophical exhaustions, dressed as rhetorics of immanence.
These shapes of contemporary reaction and how they show themselves all describe some of the contours of Occidental positivism.
DISPUTATIONS ON THE THEOLOGY OF THE RADICAL OBJECT (some excerpts)
Your notion of radical objectivity would lead to the scenario wherein there could be an alleged ‘object’ that is completely subsistent to itself; an object that is never ‘thrown’, as it were, beyond itself; an object that is only present to itself and never anything else.
But what could such an object be if it has no effects except for itself?
But then, even on such alleged grounds of self-subsistence, this radical object would be obliged to divisively economise itself according to whatever quality might be attributed to it.
But what grounds are there for such attributions, anyway, if there are no objective effects beyond the radical object?
Only the radical object itself and the pure hypothesis of it?
It’s a theology of the object, theological objectivity; a theology of unconditioned objectivity?
Or it could be the case that the cosmic horizon hasn’t changed and everything is shrinking? lol
Your apologia for external objectivity precisely predicates itself on the distinction between internality and externality. The assumption of direct and indirect relationships characterising the causal relations of that distinction usually lead to the corollary assumption of independent objectivity.
Such allegedly ‘independent’ objectivity is precisely predicated on the notion of an objective privacy wherein the object ‘itself’, so to speak, is always inaccessible except through some structure of mediations.
The notion of independent objectivity is contingent on the unity of the object.
The unity of the object, in principle, can never fully present itself in any of the object’s effects, necessarily so, because the unity of the object has to be the unity of its effects, too, in order for those effects to belong to the object.
That unity which quite literally constitutes the principle of the object itself cannot be characterised or exhausted by this or that set of its effects, if it is obliged to function as the principle of unity for all of those effects.
Similar to the ontological relationship between being and beings, the relationship between the unity of the object – constituting the principle of the object itself – and the effects said to be of that object, are both equally delimited by the guiding principles the respective attributions bring into play. That is, by the guiding principles of ontology and objectivity.
But in both cases, the guiding principles themselves (seem to) escape instantiation.
The hypothetical unity of the object necessarily seems to lead beyond any of its possible instantiations, whether interior or exterior, internal or external. It seems to lead beyond that which it is supposed to unify, beyond all that it is supposed to negate?
So, if the unity of the object, the principle of the object itself, necessarily transcends instantiation, what object is left to attribute independence to?
What’s left? An “inner urge”? Does objectivity collapse into energetics, à la Schopenhauer? Et cetera, usual gingerbread!
What I’m suggesting is that the themes of interiority/exteriority; direct/indirect; or immediacy/mediation; independence/contingency; et cetera, are such that they all structurally condition each other.
That the metaphysics of alleged independence is itself conditioned by the assumption of those themes mentioned.
The metaphysics of independence is merely an absolutist theology of the object.
It’s a theology of the unconditioned object.
But the unconditioned object can necessarily have no attributes, no conditions can be attributed to it.
It even escapes self-conditioning.
So nothing is left except its principle or the principle of its mere assumption?
It’s important to think through the metaphysical implications of whatever is assumed, not just shelter in empiricist utility or the complacency of scientific approximation. Of course, if those are sufficient, then metaphysical consideration isn’t necessary.
Looking at the entire universe as an object, with respect to what exactly does that universe-object modally or characteristically appear? Is it not the case that the mode of its appearance or presentation is necessarily constrained by the modality of that which it presents itself towards and appears to?
The subtraction of a subject from a universe would leave a subject-shaped hole, so to speak, in that universe.
If the contours of that subject-shaped hole constitute the contours of that subject’s apprehension of the universe, then it is the case that that subject apprehends that universe minus itself.
Given the uniqueness of the subject, its existential imprint, the ‘subject-shaped hole’, would be unique, too.
So the contours of its apprehension would be likewise unique, together with the universe-minus-itself that it apprehends.
It’s not a case of reducing the object to the modality of apprehension, subjective or otherwise.
A universe that is supposed to be inclusive of all things would necessarily be inclusive of all subjects supposedly apprehending that universe.
So universal inclusivity in principle prohibits apprehension of universal totality, given the requisite of external perspective.
The assumed condition of all inclusiveness displaces the possibility of externality.
But externality is a requisite of objectivity.
Does the notion of universal inclusivity necessarily collapse in the absence of externality?
If inclusivity is merely inclusivity and not internality, does that avoid the problem?
If externality is a requisite of objectivity, then the absence of such externality prevents the constitution of any objectivity.
If the universe cannot be constituted as an object, then not only are internality/externality not possible, but neither are inclusivity/exclusivity!
If it were the case that all apprehensions are external to the universe, what would that entail?
The Kantian injunction that all apprehensions are ends in themselves? lol
That apprehensions are not things, or at least are not the sorts of things that are susceptible to universal inclusivity? But isn’t universal inclusivity supposed to be inclusive of everything?
Is it possible to unify all apprehensions in a theological synthesis not susceptible to the sorts of quantification or reification characterising universal inclusivity? Et cetera!
The systematics of both objective and subjective constitution exceed objectivity and subjectivity.
But objectivity and subjectivity are mutually conditional, in that an object not producing objective effects
An object or thing-in-itself not producing any effects on anything else would be indiscernible from nothing, so according to the law of the identity of indiscernibles, such an object or thing-in-itself would be nothing.
However, if it is said that the object or thing-in-itself produces effects on itself, this would necessitate that it be a compound entity and not a thing-in-itself.
If it produces effects on itself, then it would necessarily be self-differentiated according to those effects and into different states not identical with each other.
It could not be identified with any of those states at the expense of the other states, so it would have to be identified with the economic totality of states.
But such an identification with an economic totality of states would no longer be susceptible to the effects producing those states, because the identification is supposed to be a compound result of those states.
So the identification is the resulting abstraction of synthesising economy or economic synthesis?
An abstraction strangely sustaining itself according to an economics of differential tautology!?
But it’s a null abstraction, no longer susceptible to its own effects precisely because it is constituted by them!
So this attribute of self-effectuation, of self-subsistence and self-determination; all of which constitute the pre-requisites of independence; likewise, leads to indiscernibility from nothingness.
So, is the theology of radical objectivity, a necessary presupposition of realism, incoherent without nihilism?
Is the attribute of independence contingent on the deliberate insistence of that nihilism?
Is realism actually nihilism?
If it’s the case that objects or forms are equilibria between constitutive forces, then it is the case that those forces are necessarily constitutive of those objects or forms, in order that they be ‘constitutive forces’.
Forms are known by forces and forces are known by forms.
Measurements are forms..
I remember a friend in Oxford saying that he didn’t want to “know what was happening on the other side of the world!”
He was, of course, referring to the content of broadcast media, the disparate logics and demands of which could be somewhat difficult to deal with, on a personal level. The information overload of the public realm vs. the sensitivity of the personal.
Robert Sheckley’s short story, “Protection” (1956), is interpretable precisely as a metaphor of this predicament peculiar to the Information Age.
Interestingly, Sheckley explicitly links this burdensome, epistemological multiplicity of information proliferation, with the very ‘supernormal’ perspective of the validusian derg’, affording the protective advantage of the story’s title.
But the predictive advantages of ‘supernormal’ perspective are gained through a corollary lack of localisation.
Sheckley refers to the collapse of the usual logics of separation structuring geospatial experience – “”Locale means nothing to me,” the derg replied stubbornly. “My perceptions are temporal, not spatial. I must protect you from everything!”” – a similar lack of both spatial relevance and localising referential coordination as that characterising the imperial telescoping of universalisms and the ‘current affairs’, narration style, of ‘news reporting’.
The informational concentration of such telescoping universalisms and corollary currents of reportage as conveyed by electrical and electronic, communications technology – telegraph, radio, television, et cetera – unavoidably impose the structural obligations of whatever imperialisms control them.
The localised epistemology of humanistic conventions; the alien and ‘supernormal’ perspective of the ‘validusian derg’; the supernatural world of spirits; Sheckley puts all of these on a sliding scale of existential perception and attention, their respective ‘worlds’ vying for attention.
Sheckley introduces the protagonist’s concern, whilst the protagonist is conversing with the invisible, ‘validusian derg’, to not be associated with the psychopathology of imaginary voices. This is a border concern between two of those ‘worlds’, the protagonist’s attention and behaviour split between two, discrepant orders or realms, with the corresponding difficulty of adequately satisfying the obligations of both.
So, Robert Sheckley introduces psychopathology as a function of variable, worldly perception and attention, similar to Philip K Dick’s explorations in the 1960s.
The story is a casebook example of techno-theory and philosophy of technology; of sociology and perception; of both the psychology and psychopathology of inventive production, or productive invention; of ‘worlds’ as economic systems.
I didn’t mention the Internet, personal computers, or smart phones. This stage of communications technology is one in which the distinction between broadcaster and receiver has become interchangeable, which is to say that anyone with access to such technology can be both broadcaster and receiver.
Obviously, this can set the stage for the sorts of retrogressive, cultural feedback loops, witnessed in recent times.
The conflicts between them; implosions of them according to their unacknowledged, inner contradictions; the donning of them, as the repetitive and populist nostalgia of a ridiculous profusion of heavily marketed, farcical reenactments; all of these movements can be seen, as the clumsily contentious stumbling of this or that, stupid identity ‘meme’. All very much as the typical vernacular would have it.
The very jingoism declaring its global imperialism so proudly is exactly the same localism railing against the very globalism it built railways and airports to construct, the same localism producing so much ‘hot air’ nationalism.
As the ‘nationstate’ increasingly becomes merely a subfolder in the global directory structures of even the most insular of interests, it is possible to ascertain that the jingoistic West or the jingoistic Occident; unlike the protagonist in Robert Sheckley’s story lured by the offer of safety; is the very monstrosity, the monstrous character of which, it chooses always to project onto others; is the monstrosity it arbitrarily scapegoats others as being, using the very instruments of globalisation which it condemns and pretends to be a victim of and yet simultaneously, it continues to build and use, always disingenuously.
The concept of ‘fake news’ is the result of the contradictions of Western hypocrisy no longer able to hide in the hidden spaces of an obscuring, geospatial distance, such being destroyed by the instantaneous clarifications of communications technology.
Why is it that there is such an interest in encryption technology?
In order to produce new hiding spaces hosting the profits from fresh forms of exploitation!
Exploiters always enjoy the production of chaos, this is another way of hiding injustice and exploitation. It’s an ongoing style that is used to distract from and displace the recollection and formation of evidence!
Both of you reduce everything to subjective terms, licensed by assumptions of authenticity driven by figures of personal experience.
In Zack Doctor’s case, it isn’t that you don’t objectify, but you are objectifying in out of context and mistaken ways. Your interpretations are stuck in the hypostatic fixations of some sorts of conventional reception.
You’re not looking at the ‘logical’ form(s) of the metaphysics of both ‘presence’ and ‘nihilism’.
Straightaway, you import concerns of subjectivity and meaning, considerably and unnecessarily complicating the issue.
Very simply, the concept of ‘presence’ inhabits a differential and binary structure of application, together with ‘absence’. Whatever ‘presence’ and ‘absence’ are predicated of and whatever or whichever such predications occur from the perspective of, vary according to the case of application.
But the differential and binary structure of ‘presence’ and ‘absence’ remain constant.
The metaphysics of nihilism can take different forms, but all these forms revolve around the concept of ‘nothing’ or ‘nothingness’, said concept instanced as semantic function in the transactions and operations of nihilism.
The metaphysics of nihilism; its transactions and operations; the ‘nothing’ or ‘nothingness’ which such transactions and operations shuttle around; all of these constitute nihilism and the metaphysics of nihilism, as a ‘presence’.
Nihilism, as a logic of negation is contingent on ‘there being’ something to negate. If nihilism obtains, then there is nothing to negate, which can be interpreted in two ways, lol.
That there are no positive ‘things’ (or assertions), to negate; or that, hypostatically, ‘there is nothing’ (there actually is ‘nothing’, as a positive term or thing), to negate.
The first interpretation removes all positivity thus causing nihilist negation to be redundant, there is nothing left to negate.
The second interpretation positivises or positively asserts nothing or nothingness in order to negate it.
So negating the negation; negating the negative; which sounds suspiciously like Hegel?
It could well be what Heidegger means by “the Nothing nothings”, that phrase which Rudolf Carnap so eagerly ridiculed when critiquing existentialism and Heidegger? Not sure, though, would have to check it.
Anyway, the seemingly self-reflexive application of negation to negation, it would seem can only apply in conditions of positivised negation, the negative considered as positive instance.
Because, if the negative is seen as pure negation, with no positivity whatsoever, then it could not self-reflexively negate itself, because it is not an ‘itself’; an ‘itself’, at least within the context of consideration, would ‘automatically’ constitute a posit, position, and positivity.*
Notions of presence and absence hinge on these considerations.
But what can be straightaway seen, is a mutual and necessary contingency of the positive and negative, reflected in the oscillation of positivist consideration between the two interpretations of the obtaining of nihilism and the logic of nihilism.
That, in the absence of positivity, nihilist negativity cannot obtain; nihilism cannot absolutise itself, at least not without recourse to the very positivity vitiating its self-absolution.
Zack Doctor brings up nihilism in the context of conventional, US, psychology-speak; existential psychology-speak; et cetera. This is why he instantly imports irrelevant subjective considerations and even solipsism, all of which imports indicate only his own preoccupations and not those of the text he is interpreting.
A cautionary note, though.
One has to be careful to retain awareness of multiple levels of pertinence and not get lost or led astray.
So, in this case, it was entirely unnecessary that ‘Zack Doctor’ repeat his own preoccupations when the text he is attempting to address doesn’t licence those preoccupations.
It might be that ‘Zack Doctor’ brings up solipsism as an indirect and shifted, metonymic response, to Brian Barr’s staging and valorisation of self-interiority? Who knows?
*This can, however, be recontextualised and reversed, à la Schopenhauer.
“I now feel it might be worth expressing those possibilities that are other than ‘received understandings’; perhaps other than the language of conventional ‘positions’ which have thus far constituted the manifest contentions of sociopolitical scenography. If only to register the fulfilment of any ‘social responsibility’ that subscribers of the partisan are wont to demand.
(“Towards A Critique of NewColonial Manifestation – Introduction” by Artxell Knaphni – Sunday, December 09, 2012 http://visionfiction.theotechne.com/WordPress/?page_id=238)
“”Necessity”, they say, “is the mother of invention”, but is it the mother of fresh understandings beyond the novel technical object, and its secret demands on thought? Or does only an empty and contextless rush of expediency prevail, its animating logics forgotten, in a ‘stampediency’ driven by dreams of unlimited convenience?
The easy and unquestioned transactions of ‘Necessity’ have often been the pretext for countless structures of social and political coercion, all of which have their alibi in various images of ‘Necessity’. ‘Vested interests’ use the opportunistic proximities of power to enable disingenuous constructions of administrative necessity favouring only themselves. The desire to secure such convenient forms of distribution, as it were, exercises considerable ideological constraint on the general culture, on its interpretations, practices and world-views. Management of reaction to these constraints is easily achieved through tactical delimitation, around intuitive, issue-based polarities.”
(“Aeolian Inquiry: Quest(ion)s of the Whirlwind” by Artxell Knaphni – Thursday, July 16, 2015 http://visionfiction.theotechne.com/WordPress/?p=844)
“The ideology of war, what I seem to be calling the ‘philosophy of coercion’, is not merely limited to the battlefield, but is quite possibly constitutive of the ‘human’ imaginary, the ‘human’ self-image. This constitution is constructed and maintained. And it is a cultural administration that so perpetually constructs and engages in such incessant maintenance.”
(“Culture and Coercion 1” by Artxell Knaphni – Saturday, December 29, 2012 http://visionfiction.theotechne.com/WordPress/?p=555)
“If it is a development of the sovereign state, then it has to be considered as the product of warfare. Whether its constituents were commandeered through explicit conquests, or rallied to the banner of a prevailing force that could provide protection, the underlying impetus would’ve been the threat of war, and perhaps internal disorder.
And it is this culture, of destructive contentions, that I am calling ‘coercion’.
And, arguably, this ‘coercion’ permeates all modern cultures, nationalistic or otherwise, all the time.”
(“Culture and Coercion 3” by Artxell Knaphni – Thursday, January 03, 2013 http://visionfiction.theotechne.com/WordPress/?p=566)
“This statement reflects a certain type of individual. An individual with cultural kapital sufficient to exceed having to fall back on mere national privilege. And, wherever national privilege exists, it is often as a result of geopolitical coercion.”
(“Culture and Coercion 3” by Artxell Knaphni – Thursday, January 03, 2013 http://visionfiction.theotechne.com/WordPress/?p=566)
“For me, the notion of ‘Reality’ has always been an ‘idealisation’, & it has never only been singular, except as the consensual mirage of unity that various thinkings celebrate, through various monistic apprehensions. But notice, a ‘mirage’ is nevertheless an event, a constrained ‘effect’, a necessary structural moment. One can reduce it to various forms of supervenience, using empirical, theoretical, aesthetic vocabularies; but these differential positionings, too, are supervenient ‘metaphysical’ operations, always issuing from some cave of conceptual enclosure, as it were; the slums of imagined ‘sureness’ constituting ‘Knowledge’ with a big ‘K’; which invariably turn out to be yet another consensual coercion, another do-be-us invitation to inhabit the same set of theoretical limitations; limitations constituting yet another mechanism, another production line, of dogma production; of fetishised conceptual circulations forever in search of (an) ultimate expediency.”
(“Phil Zero So Fee: The Real, I Deal, is So Free!” by Artxell Knaphni – Saturday, April 25, 2015 http://visionfiction.theotechne.com/WordPress/?p=804)
“All its existential references have turned into calculable, Cartesian points, any self it might produce would only be an empty, gratuitous, combinatorial gesture. The tools through which it continues to manipulate others have ironised its very essence. The astringent demands with which it castigates others, the corollary of its mentality of ‘dogmatic expression’, exclude it from the holistic and unquantifiable mysteries that could lead to creative regeneration. Circulating within its economics of banal certitude, it has become a global network of infernal necessities, a generalised coercion, a colonisation of ever increasing intensity.”
(“Responses 2” by Artxell Knaphni – Tuesday, December 11, 2012 http://visionfiction.theotechne.com/WordPress/?p=269)
“Philosophers are coerced into producing vast amounts of rubbish, & then fall into infighting over its dubious merits. (innocuous noises concerning clarity & obscurity are a big favourite). The coercion is towards quantity, not quality. It isn’t possible to do anything worthwhile under the duress of such a ‘professional’ demand. So most fall into the silent agreement of pretending that the copious trivia of their output is ‘philosophical work’.
Unable to let go of a ‘career’ already invested in, grumbling sets in. In danger of disappearing in the deluge of their own output, desperate overtures are made to other disciplines, or public life, seeking a spurious relevance. But secretly, they are looking for shelter from the self-imposed, Tantalean tasks of turgidity they erroneously imagine are necessary in attaining the brilliance they covet as a corollary of career advancement.”
(“The Anxious Superpositions of Wisdom, When Philosophy Is Quantified” by Artxell Knaphni – Monday, June 29, 2015 http://visionfiction.theotechne.com/WordPress/?p=835)
Around 6 years ago, I coined the word, ‘Coercivics’, as a guiding concept of civilisational analysis critiquing forms of sociopolitical implementation and practice. Wishing to avoid any developments according to stereotypical routes of programmatic manifesto, as it were, I didn’t bother introducing the neologism, though it has informed everything I’ve written, that might in any way be considered to bear some kind of sociopolitical relevance. The avoidance of use was not only due to the somewhat tactical refusal to engage in traditional obligations of position, whether political or otherwise, but more largely was informed by the logic of an emergence in which theoretical patience has value, in itself.
Coercivics is not just politics or political theory.
Coercivics, then, is not just “an arc of political speculation”, even though it might trace such arcs. Given that I’ve written, elsewhere on this blog, that ‘politics is over’, in the sense of traditional political systems and institutions having become obsolescent, to varying degrees; Coercivics is not to be determined by the perspectives of such obsolescence, but it occurs precisely at the borders of this transition, accounting for that conditioned movement, using resources that do not necessarily belong to that movement or its ostensible conditions.
Coercivics seeks to understand all socio-ideological movements that might be in play, producing assessments as to whether or not those movements produce coercion; to what degrees they produce unnecessary or unjustifiable coercion; from whose perspectives they produce coercion; and why they produce coercion?
The question asking, ‘why the production of coercion’, is of course eminently susceptible to ideological production of genealogical explanation. Coercivics is the radical investigation of those ideological presuppositions, of their genealogical constitutions and productions, but not necessarily from the usual, habitual perspectives, used in such considerations.
Nostalgias are not neglected; mnemonics, after all, are constitutive of civilisational form; but ‘reactions’ are critiqued and rejected, given their often contemporary emergences as stereotypical exemplifications of the coercivical.
Any political system can work, if it’s implementations are competent; no political system can work, if it’s implementations are incompetent or sabotaged.
The key issue is not the system, political systems are only systems of distribution, decisional frameworks concerning how distribution is to occur. Alongside systems of political or governmental distribution, marketing systems of distribution have developed in so-called, private and commercial sectors. These marketing systems cater for libidinal economy, for movements of consumer desire. It’s not at all a contentious thing to say that the ethos of consumer desire has become the hegemonic rationale of all political systems, of political systematicity, itself.
Back in 2000, at Cafe Italia, opposite Ronnie Scott’s Jazz club, I had a conversation with a Latin (Spanish or Italian?), young man, probably a university student, possibly working in computing. He spoke about how marketing was now central in philosophy, politics, and world affairs. The initial context had probably been philosophy or theory, not politics or marketing. So the sudden preoccupation with politics and marketing was a bit unexpected.
Given the events of the last 19 years, it looks as though the young student’s prognosis was valid. More valid than I suspected, at the time. Not that I necessarily disagreed with whatever was said, but the mechanisms he described, were only supervenient mechanisms of more arcane, historic-philosophical and cultural shifts, which those mechanisms might well be a reaction against.
Consumerism and its market articulations have been the dominant figure in transitioning between different models of selfhood.
Though there are considerable, contemporary reactionary nostalgias, for earlier modes of social configuration that sustained earlier models of selfhood, the New Conditions, in play, provision superconductive, communicatory surfaces, permitting only the velocities of sociopsychological, hysteria and stasis, not so much, anything else. Network nodalisation seems to preclude the development of any other socialisation.
Given that the dominant figure of social organisation is consumerism; given the oneiric and libidinal casts of such consumerism; given the ongoing collapse of institutional and social structures, their sensory and spatiotemporal characteristics, into a generalised, informational flow; the scenario of possibility is now so open to reconfiguration that it quite possibly exceeds any notion of reconfiguration, altogether.
No doubt the mnemonic militancy of simplistic, nostalgias of reconfiguration, are going to continue to echo through the New Conditions, as Doppler effects of stellar iniquity, from this or that history attempting its own achievement. But those constellations of resource concentration have transitioned into a different kind of cosmos, one in which even the expectation of historical entropy, no longer holds sway.
No cyclical comforts of pessimism-laden, Spenglerian prophecy; no ‘patchwork quilt’ as themepark and global safety net, of geopolitical amusement and its epistemology.
The New Conditions are such that even nostalgic attributions of ‘fragmentation’ are irrelevant.
Everyone knows this, of course, without knowing it. That is why they are so frenetically busy trying to sustain the worlds with which they were programmed, by arguing, disputing, and mutually destroying the features of those imagined worlds, as if such extreme contentions somehow confer ontological stability.
It doesn’t, it’s a symptom of precisely the ontological instability, feared.
Pandora’s box has been opened, some time ago.
If ‘metaphysical structuring’ consists of ‘metaphysical hypostases as assumptions of cultural injunction and coding of social instruction’, whether or not, those assumptions are explicitly known or implicit, this is merely the observation of possibilities of fresh, theoretical application. Testing out different grids of theoretical extrapolation that are extensions of sets of principles, whether conventional ones driven into new territory, or fresh ones as yet unconventionalised, to see what they say.
The situating and privileging of a Trumpian figure of response that is untutored by teleprompting, is a figure staging the productions of an alleged, psychic interiority, as a type of authenticity. That type of authenticity of psychic interiority would be one which contrasts a structure of psychic immanence, as an allegedly unmediated, metaphysical hypostasis, with the structure of remote, cybernetic instructions, suggested by ‘teleprompting’ – ‘tele-‘, being distance, remoteness.
So, the figure of teleprompting, suggests the remoteness of network distribution exceeding structures of conventional, psychic reception, the teleprompter user thus represents as a node of such remoteness. The average voter without socially significant, powers of distribution, for whom such networks are experienced passively, and not personally, in ways that are sufficiently, individually satisfying, would tend to have increased alienation from such networks of remoteness, distrusting their excessive remoteness from the concerns of personal relevance.
What is at stake is not the quality of Trumpian, psychic interiority, but rather the psychic interiority of USA American selfhood, itself. That psychic interiority, what Christopher Lasch called, ‘The Culture of Narcissism’, in the 1970s, has been configured for over a century by remote forces of market or marketing culture, to the extent, that US American selfhood is difficult to distinguish from the market forces sustaining it. When everything has been commodified, it is difficult to find authenticity beyond commodity. The commodity gaze is always in operation, it seems.
Thus, the last site where alleged authenticity of psychic interiority can take a stand, is in the caprice of the consumer, the consumer being the highest aspiration of marketing activity. Marketing always attempts to coincide with the identity of the consumer.
The fact that Trump doesn’t need a teleprompter, to represent the psychic figure of consumption or the consumer, is a key, marketing achievement. Because the consumer doesn’t need a teleprompter; the consumer isn’t trying to sell anything. The consumer is a buyer.
By representing himself as the ultimate consumer; by incessantly reminding the public of his alleged wealth, giving him full access to the range of consumption; Trump represents himself as a ‘winner’ in the consumption game, with no personal stake in political change, beyond the alleged authenticity of a psychic interiority of self, that could choose political disinterest, if it so desired.
By repeating populist grumblings with no consideration for other kinds of cultural or political etiquettes, Trump can represent the grumbling and dissatisfied, populist consumer, thus taking away the pressure of tacit, social injunction, such removal of social pressure being representable as a kind of liberation, as well. It’s populist, political psychotherapy.
The fragmented opinionation of Trump’s incessant tweeting, is another strategy of reaffirming populist identity. That Trump repeats what his share of the US electorate say, reaffirms their identity, as well as confirming his representation of them. He is teleprompted by them, not by any other form of remoteness that doesn’t coincide with their own vacillations. It doesn’t matter to them, that Trump changes his output, according to their own changes. It doesn’t matter that the mechanics of repetition is a background construction or staging. None of that matters, as long as the circuit of repetition is constant. Because that circuit is a cybernetic circuit, the echoing of the Trump electorate, for which Trump chooses to play the mimetic puppet.
That Trump might be personally profiting from the various events, merely confirms his authenticity for his supporters, because the figure of personal profit is an accepted link to concerns of individuation, that are foundational in circuits of alleged authenticity belonging to the figure of psychic interiority, as it occurs in the base model of US American selfhood, as imported from the inculcations of Calvinist and Protestant, northern European, socio-economic systems.
It’s a development in line with US production of its own dream. It’s a movement in general, oneiric economy.
It’s a nostalgic movement in new conditions, new conditions showing the old conditions of baseline brutality of exploitation for what they were and are. The nostalgia of old conditions is engaged in multiple vectors, of denial; of revision; of affirmation and justification; of the production of a chaotic confusion in order to justify brutality of exploitation. All of those vectors are the result of contained, social contradictions, emerging out of their prior structures of arrangement, into the dreamspace of uncontained, electronic communication. If newspapers, radio, film and television, constituted prior networks of social containment, obviously those networks and their containments are no longer going to be able to function in the same way, given new conditions where all of those technological mediations have been rolled into one, through the Internet, and broadcast ability attainable by all, in possession of a network device.
All of this is just standard, techno-theory, even media theory.
More interesting, then these kinds of standard, ‘techno-sociology’, as it were, are the longer lines of development, in play. Those which are not so much the concern of standard models of self-interest, at least they are not discussed within the circuits of concern belonging to such models. Or if they are, they are discussed only according to habitual, metaphysical inflections, often constituting serious distortion of what is at play. That’s understandable, given that such developments seem to be even more remote from those circuits of self-concern, than those they currently seem to be rejecting, which ironically enough, they are simultaneously producing, as well.
This mutual rejection and production, though, occurs within their own dramatis personae, within the highly conditioned, theatrics of psychic interiority, within Christopher Lasch’s narcissistic economy. All of these constitute the hypostatic, staging principles, of the collective, US dream; it’s a ‘socialism of the unconscious’ which they are continuously projecting as a reverse gesture of an ostensible, ‘individualism’, whose ideal conditions, as set in their own minds, they are unable to fulfil.
This sets up the oscillating contradictions between images of ‘self-reliance’; ‘duty’, ‘obligation’, ‘responsibility’; and ‘care’ or ‘carelessness’. In an increasingly interconnected scenario, the clarity of such images is increasingly difficult to achieve, according to prior structures of social arrangement and containment. Given market conditions, of commodity environment and the sensorium of commercial transaction that it constitutes; and given current events reporting based on fragmentary fluctuations of those market conditions; individualised, informational relevance, becomes increasingly difficult to achieve, at least in a way that might present unproblematically, in socio-economic and cultural terms.
For those inculcated with the figure of psychic interiority, as occurring in the base model of US American selfhood, the new conditions of interconnection threaten the old images of self-individualism, in multiple ways and along multiple vectors. That those new conditions of interconnection have been driven by their own desires is an irony which they seem unable to acknowledge. Consumer expectation and demand is not usually associated with any kind of ironic appraisal concerning itself.
The consumer wants what it wants and doesn’t really want to think about the consequences of that desire. If it doesn’t get what it wants, then resentment comes into play.
What the US consumer really wants, is an environment totally in accord with its own desire, attentive to its every need. This is an attitude that has been deliberately inculcated by decades and decades of market conditioning. The desire is not only for commodities, but for cultural attention, as well. In fact, the desire is for absolute, self-cultural celebration, to increasingly hysterical levels, in order to satisfy or satiate the market-implemented, structure of narcissistic expectation, that is at work.
This desire for absolute, cultural attention, is at odds with global interconnection, hence, all the culture wars and the resentment against any academia not giving such attention.
By creating domestic discord and division, cultural attention is being sought, which is being received, thus satisfying to some degree the logic of narcissistic expectation that seems to be at work. Socio-economic problems and poverty exacerbate this need for cultural attention.
Really, it’s a desire for cultural recognition by a culture that has grown bored with itself and wishes to reinhabit the nostalgia, the horrors, challenges, and imaged successes, of its own development, by which it entertains itself and continues to give itself meaning. It’s a desire that wishes to continue looking into a mirror that it has distorted, in advance, and wishes everyone else to look into, as well. But it’s a desire doesn’t really seem to be interested in understanding, either itself, or anyone else. That is because it’s a desire that no longer knows how to understand, it has lost itself along the linearity of its own trajectory.
A short note. I’ve written this comment somewhat more consciously in line with my considerations and work of the period, 1989-1996. It’s not that those considerations and that work aren’t in the background of everything that I’ve written in the allegedly new century, since I began writing, again. But I haven’t always been as explicit as I would like; it seems, though, that those writings and ideas, like those of Sol Yurick’s, are proving to be a more effective instrument for dealing with past, present or contemporary, and future, problematics.
The prevailing forms of cultural understanding, including the reactions to them, are pretty much antiquated fragments of habitual, cultural obsession, that were obsolescent long before I was born. But it is this atavistic, cultural content, which is being incessantly reproduced, by a fundamentally uninventive and backward cultural motivation, inspired only by its characteristic insularity.
It’s an unhealthy, self-destructive context, that has received enough attention, to no avail. Accounting for its insatiable needs and broken understandings is not the most interesting activity, probably requiring some form of sociopsychological counselling.
This text is a response to a Facebook post concerning the quantitative decline of US students taking up history, with only a few, so-called ‘Ivy League’ colleges, experiencing greater demand for courses in history. The first paragraph is in reference to that topic. The rest of the text explores what might be called a theory of conditions of historical conceptions and discourse.
The same point, about disciplinary control by a well-advantaged, social group, was made in an academic paper over 25 years ago, on the art world. How high-level degrees in fine art were only available to those who could afford to spend over a decade accruing them; how they were extremely specific in terms of their possible career utility, that is to say, of not much general use in employment scenarios.
That this specificity, affordable only to the few and privileged, served to channel that group onto editorial boards of influential art publications; art museums and institutions; the art world, generally. This allowed a specific, socio-economic group, to control all discourses on art and to be the arbiters of cultural taste in art.
The western notion of history is finished, has finished, according to John Baudrillard.
That’s not because of student disinterest; it is due to deeper problems with the way that history is done, and how the past is configured and viewed. I’ve written recently, a comment about the ‘fascism of the present’. If fascist orders play with inclusions and exclusions, in terms of what they consider permissible to present, admissible to their version of ‘the present’; then, the mechanism of modernist rupture can be seen as the inaugurating ideology enabling not only neo-rationalist polity, but fascist rationalisations, too.
Even if neo-rationalist polity, or modernist society, portrays itself as all-inclusive and progressive; this necessarily implies an exclusion of regression. Like nations, the culture of the present is susceptible to producing self-celebratory propaganda, skewing, distorting, or otherwise misrepresenting, the past, always in its own favour. This is ideological chronology; it’s an epistemological mechanism by which various social phenomena, can be ordered or regimented.
Because of the genealogy of military hostility accompanying so much of historical discourse over the last 4000 years, all history, including modernist history, has become deeply problematic. Those problems aren’t going to go away merely through hasty retreats into imagined, factual realms, of alleged scientific objectivity. Because the nature of scientific objectivity is itself at stake as a historical or chronological production.
There is of course the global conflict of geo-historical interpretations; the various centrisms that have arisen, such as Eurocentrism, Afrocentrism, et cetera. This is species-specific, internal to the public relations propaganda of internal orders of anthrosocial power, primarily emergent from the humanist ideology of anthropic supremacy, whose conceptual roots go all the way back to Aristotle and Protagoras.
Although this global conflict is a symptom of chronological disruption, it is not an explanation for it. History is a certain form of chronological culture; a certain experiential ordering and distribution. But the experiential root of that ordering and distribution is no longer quite so central, as it once was, or seemed to be. Common forms of anthropic experience have been brought to the limits of their traditional epistemological configurations. Those habitual configurations are no longer sufficient to account for newly emerging chronological conditions, conditions that were always there, but which could be safely ignored. Such ignorance is no longer possible. But the understanding which ought to be replacing that ignorance, doesn’t seem to be emerging, at least not in ‘human’ form. This indicates the nature of common, anthropic experience, as an effect. An effect of conditions of a chronology it is unable to understand.
A tribute to M John Harrison’s short story, “Settling the World” (collected in “The Ice Monkey, and other stories” | Victor Gollancz: 1975).
Estrades requested the meeting, speaking of matters of utmost importance, in his usual, hyperbolic style. Curious, I made my way to the mutually agreed location in Cafe Italia, Frith Street, opposite Ronnie Scott’s, the famous jazz club. He was upstairs, accompanied as always by Eisenburg. After the usual jocular preliminaries, Estrades got straight to the point.
“What is to be done, Oxlade, with this mad American? This pretend-Wagner, this vassal or hopeful vessel of Nietzschean anxieties?” Estrades raised his hands in a show of questioning invocation.
“Why need anything be ‘done’, at all, Estrades? Why not leave the spider of ‘New World’ insanity to its own cocoon of desperate weavings?” Oxlade answered, mimicking Estrades penchant for metaphoric expression.
“Oxlade, Oxlade,” he repeated, shaking his head in disagreement, and sighing. “Your caution exceeds itself! A reserve without effective expenditure!” Estrades continued shaking his head. “To speak of the Wagner puppet, this play-Nietzsche occupying himself with old toys, is to speak of the entire puppet show, Oxlade! Surely, Oxlade, you cannot be so naive as to imagine that his ridiculous self-communion is not serving a larger purpose?”
“I thought you’d retired from such intrigues, Estrades? Are you sure you aren’t simply a victim of your own, professional imagination, nostalgically spinning in its New Conditions of indolence?” Oxlade countered.
Estrades impatiently waved the words away. “Doubt as much as you like, Oxlade! Mistrust was always your forte.” He spoke directly, pre-emptively ploughing through any further objections. “Unwitting pawn, though this New World, Wagnerian Nietzsche, might be; nevertheless, this feckless foot soldier serves a greater esprit.
You think this theatre of contemporary confusions, this vehicle of multiple forms of unease, is merely driven by literary ambitions of bad taste, and hopes of registering itself in some dark beverage, annal of record achievements?” Estrades gave an imploring look. “Yes, yes, there is no need to disagree on this. It is not what the puppet thinks that is of interest. Look beyond its banal journalese, Oxlade, what function does the puppet serve?”
Estrades continued, “What purpose does any confusion serve, Oxlade? What did it serve, when either you or I were the instigators and professional architects of it? It served our mission objectives! ” Estrades said, answering his own question. “The question, is, what mission objective is being served by this puppet show of bad ideas?”
“Not everything proceeds according to your so-called, ‘mission objectives’, Estrades. That’s your professionalism talking again. People just live and do what they do, exciting themselves with exotic roles as harmless entertainment,” Oxlade offered.
“Again, Oxlade, you misunderstand. Such exotic pursuits are neither harmless nor entertaining. In the New Conditions that you are so fond of, Oxlade, the inexecrable utopia you defend so ardently, do you not observe the dissolution of the contours of our profession?”
There, Estrades had a point, even from his North African retirement and the pleasures of Byzantine military history, he assiduously observed the increasing encroachment of domestic and civil concerns in the previously sequestered realms of international espionage. Greater reliance on the private sector by traditionally aloof institutions of secrecy, rooted in an earlier era of simpler demarcations, had resulted in the collapse of the civilian and the classified, one into the other, to the point where neither could be easily distinguished. The New Conditions of communication served further to promote this suspect integration. Perhaps Estrades could discern these factors more clearly from his standpoint of self-incurred, North African isolation?
“I don’t deny that there have been changes, Estrades–”
“Understatement is no defence, Oxlade!” Estrades interrupted. “In our New Conditions, it merely becomes Antipodean exaggeration. Half of our work at Alexandria involves playing in online computer games and virtual worlds! Your department knows of this, anyway. How can it not, when it does the same? Eisenburg seems to have a talent for these things, he’s built up quite a reputation in that world.”
Eisenburg drew his cupped hands together, waggled his thumbs, and grinned, moving his shoulders up and down with a theatrics of enthusiasm.
“He has my old position, now, as Head of Section Intelligence, but I occasionally visit–”
“He visits at least two times a week,” Eisenburg interjected.
“Yes, and when I do, he’s either playing these online games, or hosting public relations events; school trips; even regular meetings of his fan club!”
Eisenburg’s face beamed.
“It’s gone too far, Oxlade! ‘He’, is mocking us!” Estrades gestured towards the vast entomological memory of God’s Road, the three of them shared.
“Here he goes again!” said Eisenburg, raising his eyes heavenward.
“You know, Oxlade, why God’s Motorway can no longer be found?”
Estrades was referring to the seeming disappearance of the Road of God. God’s Motorway, vanished some twenty years ago, as mysteriously as its arrival.
“It hasn’t disappeared, Oxlade, it has grown so large we can no longer perceive its horizon,” he gestured at the iPhone on a neighbouring table. “We are living in it, Oxlade, and there is no other choice, certainly not any that could truly be called one’s own.”
“If its horizon is no longer perceivable, why should the oppressive character you attribute to it be any clearer?” asked Oxlade. “Perhaps you are living in the belly of an imaginary beast, Estrades? Perhaps it is just your nature to,” Oxlade hesitated, “to chafe?”