northanger (northanger) wrote,


[+] Surfascism
[+] It is, of course, brilliantly argued
[+] Mark has a response further explicating
[+] Blissblog and cold rationalism: the discussion continues
[+] Cold rationalism beyond the pleasure principle

first learned of hyperstition, and k-punk, in 2004 when this discussion first appeared. here, exploring

Cold Rationalism [of the Enlightenment] ⇒ CR ⇐ Capitalist Realism [Is There No Alternative?]

two particulars: [Dialogue with Graham Harman] the Jameson/Zizek formula that's so central to Capitalist Realism - it's easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism & [Capitalist Realism: Mark Fisher interviewed by Joe Kennedy] To what degree was your production of a conduit between the work of Badiou, Jameson, and Žižek …… should Lacan be added to this list? : [the Lacanian schizophrenic] (25, Capitalist Realism) ~~ i dunno, maybe cold rationalism disconnects{rewires} the pleasure principle; maybe… it involves defanging a fanged noumena

[+] …far from being ‘emotionless’, Spinoza’s cold rationalism is also at one and the same time about emotional engineering, and must be.

What has to be resisted at every level – and all the great thinkers of CR, from Schopenhauer to Freud to Lacan – is the idea that emotions are some ineffable and inexplicable slurry. The great breakthrough of Freud was to return to the Spinozist insight that all emotions have rationales. The devastating radical enlightenment thought is also astonishingly simple. Everything that happens – and crucially that has to include emotional reactions - has a cause. But a prior - or mechanical – cause, not a final cause or teleology. Via Descartes and Spinoza, Newton’s insight invades philosophy and theology, enabling the total destruction and discrediting of the Aristotlean-Catholic conviction that everything in the universe has been designed to fulfil a final purpose. The human animal is freed from authoritarian mystagoguery (the Judgements of God), it is able to think of itself as a machine, but a machine capable of reflecting on its own performance and constitution. Evolution, genetic engineering, AI-symbiosis: everything is possible once you no longer think of yourself as made in the image of Yahweh.

We neurobots….
- - -
…freedom entails attuning your desires and emotions to your reason
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Nick mobilised the crucial CR circuit of Kant, Freud and Schopenhauer. The tactical investment in Deleuze and Guattari was really a codename for that… Ironically, there is a figure who much better fits the requirements to be the death-drive successor of Spinoza, Kant, Schopenhauer and Freud than D/G – and that’s Lacan. So, in short, far from being some new absolute reversal, it’s a development, and more about inclusion (we’re allowed to read Lacan now:-) ) than some exclusionist repudiation.
- - -
in the comments k-punk notes: Lacan fixates on everything that hippy-clappy D and G loathe: specifically the death drive, which he runs almost all of his interesting work through. Obviously Lacan was a rationalist, he was a psychonalyst, and psychoanalysis, when rescued from Oedipalism, just is Spinozism in that it is about addressing the causes of people's behaviour in order to change it

[+] the point is to subordinate passive (i.e. self-destructive) emotions to reason (= identification of the causes of actions) in order to increase the capacity to act… But of course you aren't going to see what CR means if you insist on imposing the very Romantic dichotomies it is designed to crash. :-)
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I'm not squeamish about emotion. I'm just committed to extirpating self-destructive and destructive passions (in myself first of all obv). The CR programme is also an erotics of affect - it is about emotional engineering, not about the removal of all affect.
- - -
the impulse to achieve precision of thought is emotion, but an active emotion, not a passive one....

The Story of I: Unearthing Georges Bataille
Richard Wolin, Bookforum, Spring 2004

In 1936, Contre-Attaque, a short-lived tactical alliance with archenemy Breton, came to grief over Bataille's blunt advocacy of politically dubious concepts. The falling-out occurred over Bataille's promotion of "surfascism" (a coinage analogous to Nietzsche's superman, or surhomme): the problematic idea of utilizing avowedly fascist means to achieve nonfascist ends. As Bataille and his allies unabashedly declared (to Breton's chagrin and dismay): "We intend, in our turn, to use for our benefit the weapons created by fascism, which has been able to use humanity's fundamental aspirations for affective exaltation and fanaticism." Ironically, Bataille showed a keen capacity for retrospective political self-awareness, thereby flatly contradicting Surya's simplistic portrayal of him as a stalwart antifascist. Years later, he readily confessed to having succumbed during the '30s to a "paradoxical fascist tendency."

An interest in unleashing "dangerous movements" conducive to "affective exaltation and fanaticism" was the raison d'être of the Collège de Sociologie — the avant-garde grouping that explored ways of restoring the "heterogeneous" elements of sovereignty, violence, and loss amid the disenchanted landscape of a prosaic modern "society" (the short-lived anthropological review Documents, which Bataille edited from 1929 to 1930, stands as an important precursor). In a 1970 interview Caillois, one of Bataille's coconspirators, provided a fitting epitaph for such grandiosely misguided efforts and plans. Attempting to account for the Collège's sudden demise with the onset of war, Caillois explains that, abruptly, the program of a "return of the primitive" that the Collegians had theorizedóa revival of sacrifice, myth, cruelty, and violence inspired by the newly spawned fascist "ecstatic communities" — had become a reality, and there could be no doubt that the result was an unmitigated disaster. As Caillois observes: "The war had shown us just how inane the College of Sociology's endeavor had been. The dark forces we had dreamed of setting off had unleashed themselves entirely of their own accord, with results quite different from what we had expected." An understatement, to say the least.

Herein lies a cautionary tale concerning postmodernism's by-now jaded revolutionary expectations. Although postmodernism, in a Bataillesque spirit, sought to bid an unsentimental adieu to its fraternal enemy, modernism/modernity, the obsequies now seem to have been distinctly premature. After all, a discourse that proclaims the "end of metanarratives" is itself a metanarrative.

The Unquiet Ghost: Russians Remember Stalin
Adam Hochschild, 172

Part of the problem of explaining mass hysteria is that it has momentum: any outbreak seems quickly to become independent of the causes that triggered it. The hysteria touches an inflammable part of the human psyche, which, once ignited, is hard to put out. Belief in a devil can be as attractive as belief in a god. Even in the best of times, we have plenty of nameless frustrations and fears it is useful to have someone to blame for. And so mass hysteria takes on a seductive life of its own once a class of scapegoats for all problems is officially designated: Witches! Enemies of the People! Off with their heads! The contagion then often lasts long after the specific fears that caused it have disappeared or been replaced by others.

The Enlightenment: The Science of Freedom
Peter Gay, 625


Of all the labels imposed on the Enlightenment, the label "Age of Reason" has been the most persistent, and the most damaging. It is accurate only if "reason" is read to mean "criticism" and counterposed to "credulity" or "superstition." Unfortunately, historians have gone much further and equated "reason" with coldness; they have caricatured the philosophes as frigid engineers, contemptuous of emotion, blind to poetry, inhabiting an empty universe stripped of all color and love, except for sex. This myth of a prosy, presumptuous precision, of a cold rationalism, was invented by the German Romantics, although Burke had his share in it, and it haunts our estimation of the Enlightenment to this day.

The Enlightenment: The Rise of Modern Paganism
Peter Gay, 319

And this, of course — to overthrow natural religion — was the historic mission of the Enlightenment. But it worked with the materials handed it by the seventeenth century: "Once the foundations of a revolution have been laid down," d'Alembert said, "it is almost always the succeeding generation which completes that revolution."

{143} Wieland's novel Agathon reads like a German adaption of Memnon — and of Candide: its hero learns worldly wisdom from a lovely hetaira, and abandons his vain rationalist philosophizing in favor of a moderate commonsensical sensuality. Cold rationalism, proud system making, Wieland seems to be saying, damages man on all levels, especially that of enjoyment.

yeah yeah ... wikked stuff mark ... like mark and nikk, i too used to think nietzsche and bataille was the real radikal shit ... but that's passé now and you gotta role with the times man ... it ain't rationality and reason and abstraktion and enlightenment and science that's the enemy ... it's perspektivism and embodiment and kontext and horizons and meaning and finitude and all that tired anti-enlightenment, krypto-romanticist, reactionary konservatism that gotta be wiped away man (and k-punk got the sponge!) ... if you wanna really be down these days you gotta start spittin' about spinoza and radikal enlightenment and kold rationality and the geometrik method and the infinity and abstraction and exkarnation and the gnostics man ... 'let no-one who is ignorant of non-euklidean geometry enter here' ... yeah, yeah ... big up pythagoras, big up plato, big up euklid, big up riemann, big up gauss, big up kantor, big up hilbert, big up goedel ... i don't understand any of them but i rekkon they is the truly radikal biskitts these days man ... let's make war on romanticism and historicism and phenomenology and life philosophy and dekonstruktion and every other mode of thought komplicit with the kapitalist konspiracy to make the parameters of diskursive possibility chime with the telos of ultimate intelligibility (the habermasian phantasy of the konsensual kommunity) ... fukk finitude man, fukk 'meaning' and 'intelligibility' and 'normativity' and 'kommunikation' (like k-punk put it, they ain't nothin' but the way the Shit-stem tries to vindikate itself) ... big up a pure rationality no longer held kaptive the konfines of 'experience' or 'meaning' or 'perspektive' or 'horizons' man ... big up the radical infinite ... mathematics in the grand style ... yeah yeah ... (i hope this fashion lasts longer than the others though, man, kos i just bought a bunch of expensive math books ...) ~ Posted by: Axiomatik (né Transgressive) at December 10, 2004 07:35 PM

Encyclopedia of Social Theory, Volume 2
George Ritzer

Individualism » Ancient and Modern Individualism

As a term of condemnation, individualisme was employed in France to criticize the rational individualism of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution. Edmund Burke (1729-1797) believed that individualism and the promotion of individual interests undermined the commonwealth and created an uncivil and unstable society. Nineteenth-century French sociology emphasized the importance of social solidarity against the rise of egoistic forms of individualism, and the sociology of Émile Durkheim (1858-1917) can be interpreted as a sustained intellectual attack on utilitarian individualism represented by Herbert Spencer (1820-1895). Although the analysis of individualism has played a significant analytical role in the development of sociological theory, the ideological and intellectual relationship between individualism and sociology is often contradictory and antagonistic. As a result, understanding the relationship between "the individual" and "the social" remains an ongoing issue in sociological theory. Individualism has also had an important impact on economic theory, because the concept of utility has been important to the development of assumptions about market exchange, consumer sovereignty and consumption preferences, and on political theory where it underpins the contemporary notion of rights.

Individualism » Conceptual Clarification

It is as a result subject to considerable conceptual confusion. It is important to establish a clear distinction between four separate issues (Abercrombie, Hill and Turner 1986). We need to distinguish (1) an emphasis on the individual as an autonomous agent with a distinct identity, (2) individualism as a social and political ideology with various national traditions, (3) individuality as a romantic view of the uniqueness of the person requiring education and cultivation, and (4) individuation as a process whereby people are standardized by a bureaucratic process.

Marxism, Abstraction and Transcending Capitalism
August 19, 2010 by necessaryagitation

Where abstraction links into the present debate is in regard to the foregoing discussion of the autonomy of Marxist intellectual work. Andrew Kliman’s recent talk in London on ‘What has to be done to transcend capitalism’—co-sponsored by the Marxist-Humanist Initiative and The Commune—was greeted with a degree of mixed opinion regarding precisely the abstraction of the theoretical project he was proposing. Without claiming to do justice to Kliman’s talk, the discussion centred on his claim that Marxist politics has been too focused on the political transition to communism, where, on the contrary, not enough thought has been given to the underlying economic basis of value production under capitalism. Most provocatively, he demarked the difference between the political and economic via reference to the distinction between the quantitative and qualitative in Hegel’s Science of Logic. So although the Marxist political theorem of the withering away of the state is based on a gradualist, quantitative transition, the change in the mode of production cannot operate according to the same logic, and must, of necessity, constitute an incommensurable shift; in other words, an event dividing capitalist value production from communist production. The upshot is that since the political is emergent upon the economic, attempts to politically force transition to communism, in lieu of fundamentally refiguring the economic base away from value production, explains the growth, rather than the withering away of, the state in 20th century socialist countries.

Transcending Capitalism: London forum organized by The Commune and MHI

How exactly must the economic forces and social relations that dominate our lives today be changed so as to establish a real and sustainable alternative? Kliman and Jaclard will argue that Marx was not only a theorist of capitalism, but a theorist of a new society, and that the time has come to develop his theory, instead of repeating abstractions about an imagined future. They will employ Marx’s theory of a future communist society in order to analyze what features of present-day society are specific to capitalism and what must therefore be uprooted and transcended in order to lay the foundation for a world that no longer operates for the sake of producing “value.”

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[9:42 AM 1/26/2012 : removed link] …'My imagination stops at the image of the collapse of capitalism'. I doubt it frankly. It may be that his 'theory' does though.”

Why do you persist in disbelieving what we are actually saying, which we try to say as clearly as possible? We have always said that the establishment of communism is beyond us, that it is in the hands of others; of people in the future (near or far) who have had the material base of their society radically altered. Yes, we do not know how a revolution will happen (but we are critical of the formulas that some have for this event) and we do not know how communism will be established or what it will look like. We offer no solutions and no blueprints. We do keep saying this. You may disagree with what we say but I don’t get why you don’t understand what we are saying.

ThesisWeekly, August 19, 2010

Think it's the blue collar liberal masses that promote socialism? Think again - socialism is bipartisan:

On Socialism: "If one understands that socialism is not a share-the-wealth programme, but is in reality a method to consolidate and control the wealth, then the seeming paradox of super-rich men promoting socialism becomes no paradox at all. Instead, it becomes logical, even the perfect tool of power-seeking megalomaniacs. Communism or more accurately, socialism, is not a movement of the downtrodden masses, but of the economic elite."

None Dare Call It Conspiracy
Gary Allen with Larry Abraham

The Performance of Scholarly Communication: Intervening into the System
Journal of Journal Performance Studies, Vol 1, No 1 (2010)

While researching JJPS, I attempted to find prior examples of artistic interventions into the scholarly communication system. Indeed, artists have throughout the twentieth- and twenty-first centuries developed their own journals and publications—from the early journals produced by the Dadaists and the Surrealists, to artist’s chapbooks, to fanzines, artists have constantly re-appropriated textual forms for their particular purposes. But within the realm of scholarly communication per se, the examples are, to my knowledge, much fewer. This fragment of a larger work is meant to catalogue some of the more prominent examples, and ends with a call for more playful forms of representation that push the limits of networked communication.
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To that end I have become recently interested in returning to the writings produced by the Cybernetic Culture Research Unit (CCRU), actively most prominently during the 1990s. Founded by Nick Land and Sadie Plant, the CCRU attempted to deliriously channel the flows of techno-utopian thought that was the merging of 1990s digital culture with the uptake of Deleuze and Guattari, among others. (For a good contemporaneous account of the CCRU, see this article by Simon Reynolds.)

RENEGADE ACADEMIA: THE Cybernetic Culture Research Unit
director's cut of unpublished feature for Lingua Franca, 1999; short remix appeared in Springerin, 2000

by Simon Reynolds

The Thirst For Annihilation: Georges Bataille and Virulent Nihilism, Land's sole book-length publication to date, is a remarkable if deranged mix of prose-poem, spiritual autobiography and rigorous explication of the implications of Bataille's thought (if taken seriously, comparable to "syphilis of the mind"). Prefiguring CCRU's struggles with university bureaucracy, the book drips with anti-academic bile, occasionally spilling over into flagellating self-disgust. Philosophy itself is castigated as "the excruciation of libido". Thirst For Annihilation's polymathically perverse range of learning (thermodynamics, cyclone formation, the Menger sponge), and phrases like "vortex of vulvo-cosmic dissolution" that blend scientific language with darkside mysticism, anticipate the CCRU's work.

Hyperstition Engineering and Applied Research
noise || fiction || feedback || reality || entropy

OT: derive and spectacle
August 20, 2010 HEARlabs

from Alan Shapiro’s “Social Choreography: Steve Valk and the Situationists”:

But the spectacle is instantiated, brought into renewed being at each moment by its actors. We partake in the spectacle, and we can change it. There is nothing outside of the spectacle and that is good. Digital technologies, online interactive networks, and “reality TV” have not in themselves dismantled or altered the spectacle. Technophoric claims along such lines tend to miss the point. It is not about taking the side of wandering or of the spectacle. They are not in opposition. They have always been, and will always be, intertwined elements in a continuum, like winning and losing. We are always in process in the wandering spectacle, and the urgent question is precisely how do we choose to live our relationship to that, as fluid consumers or as creators.

Tags: bataille, blissblog, capitalist realism, cold realism, cr, ginzburg, hear, k-punk, lacan, libby, surfascism

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