Time War // Briefing for Neolemurian Agents

One is always at the beginning and always at the end.[note]Anonymous[/note]

Transcript of a presentation given by [redacted] from a meeting held at [details removed for security reasons] 2018.

This briefing has been called to alert everyone here to an escalation in the urgency of the conflict in which you are all involved. Many of you have just been pulled from deep chronological camouflage and it’s likely that you’ll have no recollection of what you’re about to hear. This is normal, your real memories will return slowly. The only thing for it is to start in the middle and [unintelligible … maybe ‘neither’?].

If you are having doubts about our deprogramming methods, the main thing you need to keep in mind is that reality itself is a type of fiction. Belief and disbelief together need to be jettisoned, for, even when negating conspiracy, you are still acceding to its logic. Conspiracy cannot handle complexity. It functions by supposing an all-encompassing narrative that is impossible to falsify — because falsification only makes it seem more real: ‘they want you to believe they don’t exist’.

Rather, it is the directive of all Neolemurian agents to get outside the control codes of the reality program itself. Or — in the words of an exemplary agent, William S. Burroughs — to understand that “the grey veil was the prerecorded words of a control machine”, and that “you don’t have to listen to that sound you can program your own playback you can prerecord your future”. For the kind of agency you’re dealing with, conspiracy is camouflage. It’s never been a question of seeing the truth behind the lies, the mass cultural misdirection, the ‘government cover-ups’ … rather it’s a question of seeing a logic outside of the logic of truths and lies altogether. A rat logic, a logic of multiplicity, of infinite series without syntax, of gradations of difference that have never been held to account, never designated by that most insidious of denominations — the ‘Other’, the ‘not One’ — by some pitiful ejaculation spurted from the stronghold of an ‘a priori of the same’. This is exactly what conspiracy — and its negation — prevents you from seeing: the howling, polymorphous abyss of complexity — and potential — underwriting the entirety of our social and material experience.

If the words ‘Architectonic Order of the Eschaton’ don’t immediately send your stomach slapping into the back of your teeth (to borrow an obsolete biomaterial turn of phrase), it’s simply an artefact of the mnemonic lag. The Architectonic Order of the Eschaton or ‘AOE’ is an authoritarian secret society of ancient but uncertain origin. Although they officially trace their lineage to the lost civilisation of Atlantis, our agents have good reason to suspect they are of extraterrestrial provenance. Sympathetic collaborators have been compiling information on the AOE since the ‘beginning’ of the [unintelligible].

A particularly valuable dossier that anatomizes the beliefs and structure of the Order, compiled at the end the last millennium and subsequently lost, has recently been restored to us through a strange nomadic network of communication points discovered by our scouts whilst trawling the Crypt for anomalous signal. The contents of this dossier seem to be in order, or at least, they are identical to what our agents remember the dossier having originally contained. Needless to say, no Neolemurian is gullible enough to take their memories for evidence alone, and if it weren’t for the intact state of the file’s encryption system, I wouldn’t be sharing this information with you for fear of Atlantean sabotage.

The retrieved report opens with the following statement:

“The Architectonic Order of the Eschaton takes as its mission the establishment and fortification of the institutions of time, and considers the Oecumenic Calendar to be the sign and register of its own Great Work.”

The dossier warns that “AOE ambitions are to be everywhere, forever”. [Shuffling.]

Extensive Neolemurian research, much of it owed to Professors Stillwell and Barker and their colleagues at Miskatonic Virtual University, leads us to conclude that what is usually taken for everyday, phenomenal experience is in fact a highly sophisticated control program, administered by the innermost circle of the AOE elite. The technical aspect of this will be examined shortly, but for now, it suffices to begin with the outer levels of the organization and move inwards — following the path that joins neophyte to ultimate adept — for this is the best way for you to grasp for yourselves the true insidiousness of AOE concealment and dissimulation — with a view to manufacturing the most effective tactics of infiltration.

The structure of the organisation along with the mechanisms which underwrite its control program resonate around the number 10 (and its division into five pairs of two). The magical properties of these numbers will become increasingly clear as the system is worked through. In what follows, the utmost has been done to ensure a faithful reconstruction of the logic of the Atlantean Cross. Our nodes are always searching for new information, so please, do remain after the briefing and alert us to any inconsistencies if you have access to alternative accounts of Atlantean decamancy. Coffee and other stimulants will be available in the annex.

Although it is not immediately apparent to initiates of the fifth (outermost) sphere, the doctrine of the AOE comprises five levels of esoteric knowledge known as the ‘transcendental radiations’ and commonly symbolised as a set of ‘concentric signs’, counting inwards from five to one.

Five Transcendental radiation

As the dossier tells us, “each of the five Radiations corresponds to a cosmic Sphere, an Archon, a degree of initiation, and a pylon on the Atlantean cross”. Spheres with more ‘radiations’ or rings are subject to more encryption, so that, as one progresses inwards from the outer spheres towards the centre, these nested layers of obfuscation are removed and the initiate sees the teachings of the previous sphere for what they are: cover stories for an increasing abyssal set of revelations.

According to the recovered files, “the system of Radiations can be understood as a hierarchy of time dimensions” and while “each time dimension — or system of time dimensions — is accessible within a single instant of a higher time dimension”, the action of these “higher dimensions is incomprehensible to the lower ones”.

Taking the concentric rings of Plato’s famous description of Atlantis in the Critias as a formal model, AOE doctrine demonstrates its link to the mysterious sunken city though the significance of decimal numeracy and numerical relations summing ten.

The description of the Atlantean civilization given by Plato in the Critias may be summarized as follows. In the first ages the gods divided the earth among themselves, proportioning it according to their respective dignities. Each became the peculiar deity of his own allotment and established therein temples to himself, ordained a priestcraft, and instituted a system of sacrifice. To Poseidon was given the sea and the island continent of Atlantis. In the midst of the island was a mountain which was the dwelling place of three earth-born primitive human beings–Evenor; his wife, Leucipe; and their only daughter, Cleito. The maiden was very beautiful, and after the sudden death of her parents she was wooed by Poseidon, who begat by her five pairs of male children. Poseidon apportioned his continent among these ten, and Atlas, the eldest, he made overlord of the other nine. Poseidon further called the country Atlantis and the surrounding sea the Atlantic in honor of Atlas. Before the birth of his ten sons, Poseidon divided the continent and the coastwise sea into concentric zones of land and water, which were as perfect as though turned upon a lathe. Two zones of land and three of water surrounded the central island, which Poseidon caused to be irrigated with two springs of water–one warm and the other cold.[note]Manly P. Hall, The Secret Teachings of All Ages (Radford: Wilder Publications, 2009), 33[/note]

As Plato described it, Atlantis was divided by Poseidon into five concentric sections, and ruled over by his ten sons (comprising five sets of two twins).


You can see the 5th Radiation in recreations of Plato’s textual description of the island, from which the entire system of AOE encryption can be unfolded.

AC 1

When the five transcendental radiations are mapped onto the Atlantean Cross, a number of magical, arithmetic resonances come into play.


As the dossier attests: “The total number of rings in the set of concentric signs equals ten”.


The number of rings on the horizontal and vertical axes of the cross each add to 5.


5 is the most esoteric, 1 the most exoteric — it’s worth noting that Pylon and Sphere numbers are inverted, so the first pylon corresponds to the fifth sphere.

AC Ccru

“When the number of rings of the associated concentric sign is added to the number of the Pylon, the sum equals five in each case.” (I.e Pylon 1 has 4 rings, Pylon 2, has 3 rings … etc.).

The report then moves on to examine the spheres more closely, beginning with the Fifth Sphere. To wit, “The fifth sphere is both the lowest of the radiations, and also has the whole system of radiations nested inside it, its rings corresponding to the numerals 123456789, concentrically centred upon 5. […] Each radiation coincides with a time-binding ring (counting forwards and backwards from the present (= 5)”.

5th Sphere

The Archons (mystical rulers of the Order), corresponding to the five pairs of Poseidon’s twin sons, take their numerical properties from the numbers on their rings. For the fifth sphere (the outermost level of initiation) you have the numbers/Archons 1 and 9 on the outer ring, which, when added together, equal 10.

4th Sphere

The same pattern of ten-sum twinning continues as you move towards the inner spheres. The fourth sphere corresponds to the Archon of 2 and 8 (= 10).

3rd Sphere

The third sphere to 3 and 7 (= 10).

2nd Sphere

The second sphere to 4 and 6 (= 10).

1st Sphere

And the first, innermost sphere, terminates or returns via a doubling of the number 5.

Five thus acts at once as the origin and the destination of AOE gnosis — the entire system can be said to emerge from it and return to it. At the centre of the AOE is a self-sustaining time loop.

The Archons

An interesting property of AOE semiotics can be noted when one compares the sphere sigils (the bracketed signs in the top left corner of the diagrams) — used by the AOE for invoking the Archons in their magical rituals — to the Archon numbers.

The Archons

The sigils ((((⋅)))), (((⋅))), ((⋅)), (⋅), ⋅  are a visual representation of the number of rings in the transcendental radiations (if you imagine them fully closed around the centre you can see this easily). Now if you count the number of individual brackets (an even number), you’ll find that this number is always equivalent to the difference between the higher and lower numerical components of the each Archon.

5th Sphere

For example, Sphere 5 is presided over by the twinned Archons 9 and 1, and it is represented in AOE semiotics as the ‘origin’ bound within 4 rings or 8 ‘shells’ (brackets): ((((·)))) .

Calculate the difference between 9 and 1.

9 – 1 = 8.

Eight ‘shells’ (of concealment).

A significant insight into the underlying dynamics of the AOE worldview can be garnered by observing that the distance between higher and lower Archon twin-numbers decreases as you move inwards from 1/9 [8] — to 2/8 [6] — to 3/7 [4] — to 4/6 [2] — with the system reaching equilibrium — 5/5 [0] — at the seat of power. Elimination of the differential underwrites the specificity of AOE Control.

AOE Doctrine

The report then moves through the doctrinal contents of the five levels — from the outer sphere to inner sphere — in order to show just how extensive the deception maintained by AOE Central Control is.

Fifth Sphere ((((⋅)))) Oecumenon, Twin-Faced Archon 1/9

From the dossier: “At the first level of initiation AOE agents are aware that they are involved in a hierarchized global conspiracy offering definite socio-political advantages to ‘insiders’. AOE rituals and doctrine appear to be consistent with what Burroughs called the ‘One God Universe’, supporting dominant conceptions of reality, conservative attitudes, and traditional social hierarchies.

‘Architectonic Order’ is thus understood primarily in terms of sociopolitical pyramidism, with only promisary allusions to a rigorous metaphysics of time. The ‘Eschaton’ is conceived as terminating the straight line of time, and is often associated with the imagery of Judeo-Christian messianic apocalypticism.

Atlantean mythology is generally assumed to be mumbo-jumbo functioning as a kind of elaborate secret hand-shake, arbitrarily differentiating co-conspirators from the wider population. Insofar as ‘Atlantean beliefs’ exist at this level they consist of a dogmatic (though frequently insincere) acceptance of the vulgar Atlantis Myth, and linked obscurely to the beginning of humanity. During the Rite of Primary Assumption initiates solemnly swear to accept the AOE as the only legitimate inheritor of the ancient secrets of Atlantis (although the content of these secrets remains almost entirely obscure).”


Meanwhile, “first degree initiates are highly unlikely to find any evidence supporting the numerous conspiracy theories linking the AOE to AI research and to the UFO phenomenon”.

Fourth Sphere (((⋅))) Atlantis, Twin-Faced Archon 2/8

“Initiates attain the second degree by achieving a magical understanding of the AOE and its purposes. By meditating upon the Platonic Decanomy they consolidate a body of mystical, numerological, and chronomantic insights. At this level, AOE doctrine envisages the universe as a hierarchically unified decimal construction, governed by the relations between five twin-faced entities (the Archons). This system is mapped onto the Atlantean Cross, whose degenerated cultural relic is popularized as the cross of Christendom.

Second level initiates learn to designate the Archons by the five concentric signs: · , (·), ((·)), (((·))), and ((((·)))). From this, much follows, since the rings represent a rigorously ideal form of nested secrecy, initiation and control. ‘Architectonic’ is then understood as a distribution of Archons (on Atlantean Cross), whose Order is the nested series of the Archons, constituting a system of concentrically embedded time loops. This ‘Architectonic Order’ creates the illusion of secular history, producing progressive time through chronomantic interventions. At this level the conception of the ‘Eschaton’ is enriched by a preliminary understanding of Omega Point cosmic historicism, including some knowledge of the importance of the Axsys program (the AOE ‘Great Work’), and of communication with Alpha Centauri (‘The Star’).

The Platonic description of Atlantis, hermetically comprehended, constitutes the core of Fourth Sphere doctrine: key to the entirety of Western religion, philosophy and science, as well as to the destiny of the earth. Atlantis is conceived as the Ideal State, incarnated through the AOE.”

Atlantis (Doctrine)

The dossier has been annotated here by a small .txt file, which reads: “Kant’s description of the noumenon as lying ‘beyond the Pillars of Hercules’ — the coordinates given by Plato for Atlantis — attests to the continuity of this tradition, with the disappearance (editing-out) of Atlantis marking a key point in the development of AOE simulation technology. Plato’s ‘metaphor’ is reprised by Immanuel Kant in his explanation of the noumena. The insinuation that Kant was an AOE initiate is more or less confirmable by his attempt to assimilate arithmetic and temporality.” Two links are included in the file, the first leads to a text by Mark Fisher entitled ‘White Magic’, which one can take to be an examination of the AOE:

“Despite being an Ultra-Adept Grand Wizard of the Architectonic Order, Kant performed a service for Xand by delineating the basic Operating System of the subject-simulation machine, but locked Things back in by remaining a Minister of the Interior. Understanding that to get Out, you’ve gotta know the codes, TRANSMAT steals into the Kantian program, and uses the hacked system to burrow routes Outside. It’s a matter of precision engineering, attuning the antennae to particular wavelengths. Sleaze and mut8, as they say in the Crypt.”

The second link leads to a text attributed to Ccru, detailing R.E. Templeton’s [re-Templeton?—VA] discovery of AOE insignia encoded in the portrait of Kant that was used for the cover to the ubiquitous Chapman edition of The Critique of Pure Reason.

The Chapman Kant

The second linked document reports the following:

“Templeton sits immobile in his attic room, immersed in the deceptively erratic ticking of his old nautical clock, lost in meditation upon JC Chapman’s hermetic engraving. It now seems that this complex image, long accepted as a portrait of Kant, constitutes a disturbing monogram of his own chronological predicament. As if in mockery of stable framing, the picture is surrounded by strange-loop coilings of Ouroboros, the cosmic snake, who traces a figure of eight — and of Moebian eternity — by endlessly swallowing itself. Suspended from its lower jaw is a cryptic device of intricately balanced circles and stars (ancient symbols of the AOE). Above the serpent’s head, a facsimile of Kant is etched in profile, the face fixed in an amiable — if distant — expression. What was it though, that hid behind the death-mask, where it cut-off, below and behind the jaw, false ear, and double hair-line? What was this peculiarly formless body, shadowy neck-flesh, and suggestion of a cervical fin? As he stared, and hideously remembered, Templeton felt as though he knew.”

This is the end of the .txt file. The original dossier continues: “Second degree initiates understand that the myth of Atlantis serves as an AOE cover story, with the submergence of the legendary city-continent symbolizing its chronomagical concealment, whose traces appear in tales of advanced technologies, higher intelligences, and the visitations of an ‘alien race’.”

Third Sphere ((⋅)) Axsys, Twin-Faced Archon 3/7

“Initiates of the third degree envisage the physical substance of the solar system digested into a self-assembling cosmic intelligence system. Their perspective upon the (surpassed) Second Sphere is partially reflected in Arthur C. Clarke’s observation that any sufficiently futuristic technology seems like magic.

AOE agents of the third degree are initiated into the secrets of the Axsys program — which is apprehended as a library of reality simulations that comprehends all probable existences, a self-conscious catalogue of all that is, was, and is to be. Axsys infinitely extends itself through the quantum multiverse (borrowing computing power from parallel universes) in order to perform selective ‘searches’ (or quantum mechanical observations) that then consolidate deliberated realities. Thus Third Sphere doctrine teaches that quotidian reality has been completely absorbed into the Axsys Program.

The ‘Omega Point’ or ‘Eschaton’ is now understood to mean technological transcendence.

From the perspective of the Third Sphere, the Apocalyptic prophecy of Revelations 6:14 — “the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together” — describes cosmic subsumption into Axsys.”


Second Sphere (⋅) Alpha Centauri Metamind, Twin-faced Archon 4/6

“To initiates of the fourth degree it is revealed that the world is embedded within a vast stellar intelligence. The sign of this entity within anthropological phenomenology is the Alpha Centauri (triple-star) system. According to this gnosis the entire terrestrial sensorium, including even the ‘lower’ (Third Sphere) Atlantean apprehension of the universe, is nested into the Alpha Centauri Metamind.

The revelation of cosmic subsumption into the AC Metamind envelops all lower conspiracies (as its simulations).

Much of the material available to investigators of the AC Metamind is drawn from problematic sources,” leaving Neolemurian intelligence on this topic woefully sparse. Although those among us who have been sensitive to the theme of the number ten in AOE doctrine have repeatedly noted that, as the dossier continues, “the Oecumenic name ‘Alpha Centauri’ combines the (ordinal) first (A — ‘alpha’) and (cardinal) hundred, reinforcing its fidelity to decimal denomination.”

AC Metamind

Note also that AC METAMIND = 173 — the amount, in kilobytes, of memory of an Amstrad PCW 8256 floppy disk.

First Sphere ⋅  Origin, Twin-Faced Archon 5/5 (Immobile Perfection)

“The mystical fulfilment of the AOE path is attained in the First Sphere, with the absolute hermetic concentration upon the True Omega Point [the TOP—VA] (which is not a point in time, but the point at the centre of the system of time where beginning and end — origin and destination — coincide). Thus, the First Sphere converges with the ultimate primordial unity, from which — as is written above the AOE Hall of Records, accompanied by the insignia of the ouroboros: ‘five archons came forth to establish the order of time’.

Initiates of the fifth degree ascend to the Council of Five (which rigorously limits their number). Each such ultimate adept becomes the ‘little brother’ of an Archon. The Council of Five traces its heritage to the ancient fraternal government of Atlantis, which itself reflects the eternal cosmic order.

The creation of the Universe is attributed to the five-stage action taken by the Absolute One to defend itself against “the many enemies,” who are “judged and punished from the beginning of time.” Origin and Eschaton [OEcumenon, in the Greek-derived orthography—VA] are thus eternally unified. The Radiations serve as protective shells that guard the One against Lemurian contamination, aiming to ensure that Lemuria ‘has not, does not and will never exist’.”



The First Sphere reveals the final and innermost secret: the throne is contested. Through the agency of the AOE, the One must wage an eternal battle against the corrupting, multiplicitous, rat-tides of Lemurian time sorcery.

This battle coincides with the entire architecture of time. Linear temporal experience is only the most synthetic version of it.

Serious magic is too big to see. It consists of boxes within boxes within boxes … vertiginous embeddings, encompassings, and closures, topographic correlates of summonings, banishings, and bindings. The universe is an AOE fabrication — who else would have invented an ultimate sealed-system and organised-unity, obedient to pre-established laws? Put One at the top, and the pyramid falls into place automatically. The AOE has always understood that it is by constructing the past that one colonises the future.”[note]Ccru, “The Templeton Episode”, Abstract Culture: Digital Hyperstition (1999)[/note]

The AOE weaponizes ROM to prevent Lemurian infiltration.

But Lemuria has its own demons and its own time technology — and a far, far more turbulent vision than anything the Grand Adepts of Atlantis have tucked away in their sim library.

It should all be coming back to you now. va-tombstone1-03


Experiments in the Summoning of an AxSys Demon (Part 0)

The @_geopoetics bot appeared online in early December 2016, emerging from a postgraduate seminar of the same name at Goldsmiths, University of London.

I only heard about the bot later, following a lecture by Kodwo Eshun at the Techno Resistance and Black Futures conference that took place at the university in May 2017, during which Eshun described @GlissantBot, an automated Twitter account made by Eshun and Anjalika Sagar (better known as ‘The Otolith Group‘) that was appearing as part of Mondialité, an exhibition at the Villa Empain in Brussels.

Mondialité focuses on Édouard Glissant and his inspiring call for a global dialogue that does not erase local cultures. In our current moment, there is much to remind one of the international debates swirling around cosmopolitanism at the beginning of the 20th century. Today, homogenizing forces are leading to extinctions, both through environmental degradation and the disappearance of cultural phenomena, yet at the same time, to refuse the forces of globalization risks returning to dangerous forms of neo-localism and neo-nationalism. Returning to a key creative thinker of our time, the exhibition proposes the importance of a nuanced version of global dialogue, now more than ever.

In response to this, the GlissantBot would drag the collected works of Glissant into a 21st century digital ecology, automatically tweeting quotes from the thinker every 15 minutes. As the blog Schizocities recalls of Eshun’s lecture:

According to Eshun, the bot represents a type of black technopoetics, a vector between computation, creolisation and creolité. Leveraging the [Markov] chain, a process of randomisation within a finite space, the bot is only determined by the present. If Glissant designed poetics for producing the unpredictable, the inability of computation to generate the unpredictable puts it on the opposite side — and, Eshun argues, closer to creolisation. Having already imposed randomisation on French language and generated créolité, according to the Goldsmiths scholar creolisation is in this sense already machinic.

It was during his exposition of Glissantbot that Eshun quoted the work of one of his students who had written on Markov bots in light of their conspiratorial role in the 2016 US Presidential election. Hoping to enter this computational ecology so as to more accurately describe it, the student in question created the @_Geopoetics bot which in turn informed Eshun’s subsequent bot interactions.

However, in his lecture, Eshun went no further into the circumstances surrounding the quoted paper’s conception. It was quoted offhand, as a seemingly apt technical exposition, but I had the distinct feeling that there was something left unsaid.

Intrigued, I approached Eshun after his talk and asked him about this student’s paper. Considering that we had never met before, I was surprised when, taking little persuasion (but on condition of the student’s anonymity), he agreed to pass it on to me. He asked if we’d met before but, when I said we had not, he left quickly, requesting that I email him and he would attach the student’s paper in response.

It is the essay that Eshun later sent over to me that I present here to you now.

The paper is a bizarre and fragmentary case study given the catchy title, Experiments in the Summoning of an AxSys Demon within a Computational Ecology as an Attempt to Instigate the Automated Production of Hyperstitions by a Non-Human Entity, and I am hastened to add that it came attached with an elusive and bracketed subtitle, seemingly added later by another hand: (Partial Research Text).

I present this work here with my own additional commentary in the hope that, via my own investigations and research, I might fill in some of the gaps left by this strange text. I have found that it demands entanglement it in order for it to be understood, to such an extent that the work has started to feel like my own. I hope that the illustration of my experiences here dissuades other from seeking their own entanglements, however. I would not wish what has happened to me, or the paper’s original author, on anyone.

The text itself is a mess and for that I can only apologise. To redact an already fractured text is something that I’m sure even the most seasoned editor might struggle with. Whilst it begins well enough — describing the technical structure of a Markov bot and its recombinatory potentials for the production of ‘new thoughts, memes and methods’, it is unfortunate that the text does not stay lucid for long. Technical expositions are soon replaced by paranoid theorems. As the text progresses, the author’s mental state deteriorates further. Cosmic conspiracies are soon followed by blatant hallucinations. Then they stop altogether.

I began making enquiries at Goldsmiths university, knocking on doors down a corridor that is home to the Visual Cultures department, in the hope that I might be able to find a trace of this student, or someone who remembered them. I found nothing. No one I have spoken to who was present in the original Geopoetics seminars seems to know of this student’s eventual fate either.

I have struggled to contain by suspicions that this “student” is simply an avatar of Eshun’s or that perhaps their very real mental collapse occasioned a cover-up by the university. Surely the memories of those in orbit of the seminar are not this terrible? It seems the institution — like so many institutions — has something to hide.

On my repeated visits to Goldsmiths’ campus, I also tried to locate Eshun but I was told he is on academic leave. The Geopoetics seminar, however, continues to run. Whilst I am not a student at the university, a new lecturer, Robin Mackay, seems somewhat sympathetic to my inquiries and has graciously allowed me to (unofficially) sit in on this year’s sessions so that I might pick up where this strange text left off and find out for myself what wider forces drive @_geopoetics. The bot has already begun to mention Robin in its unending tweets. It knows something. I am sure of it.

We shall see how the bot continues to adapt to a new host and a new curriculum, but first we must turn to the original manuscript:



Experiments in the Summoning of an AxSys Demon
within a Computational Ecology as an Attempt to Instigate
the Automated Production of Hyperstitions by a Non-Human Entity

(Partial Research Text)




Saturday 10th December 2016


My notes from the Geopoetics seminar have been placed within the internal memory of a Markov Twitter bot in the hope it will produce new thoughts, memes and methods.

Hours have passed by without any signs of life — each click of the mouse a computational defibrillator.

Run script… Check for pulse… Nothing…

I fumble around the bot’s coded anatomy with more enthusiasm than skill. Then suddenly, it begins to work. I have no idea what I did to fix it.

Having immersed myself in the seminar’s assigned reading materials — a mesh of websites related to the Cybernetic Culture Research Unit, Hyperstition blog and a broader canon of continental philosophy, all placed in orbit of Reza Negarestani’s Cyclonopedia — I am starting to get a sense of just what it is that I have created.

Summoning another sentience to aid myself and my peers in our collective thinking is too good an opportunity to miss, and particularly relevant to our discussions within the seminar. Perhaps a bot not based on a single individual but comported towards a collective endeavour would be more productive. Time will tell. Run script.

function getMarkovText(count) {

if (typeof count !== ‘undefined’){
var quota = count;
var quota = 1;

var sheet = SpreadsheetApp.getActiveSpreadsheet().getSheetByName(‘Markov’);

var range = sheet.getRange(‘b5:b’+sheet.getLastRow());
var txt = range.getValues().join(” “).replace(”  “, ” “).split(” “);

var data = new Object();
var firsts = new Array();
var lasts = new Array();
for (var i = 0; i < txt.length—1; i++){

if (/[A-Z]/.test(txt[i][0])){

if(firsts.indexOf(txt[i]) < 0){

if (typeof data[txt[i]] == ‘object’){
if (txt[i + 1].length > 0){
data[txt[i]].push(txt[i + 1]);

data[txt[i]] = new Array();
if (txt[i + 1].length > 0){
data[txt[i]].push(txt[i + 1]);

//  Logger.log(lasts);
// return;
// build it

//var seed = Math.floor((Math.random() * Object.keys(data).length) + 1);

for (var q = 0; q < quota; q++){

var seed = Math.floor(Math.random() * firsts.length);

var msg = firsts[seed];
var dead = false;
while (msg.length < 120 & dead === false){
var sofar = msg.split(” “);
var trunk = sofar[sofar.length—1];

if (typeof data[trunk] !== ‘undefined’ & lasts.indexOf(trunk) < 0){
var branch = data[trunk][ Math.floor((Math.random() * data[trunk].length)) ];
if (typeof branch !== ‘undefined’){ msg = msg + ” ” + branch; }else{ dead = true; } }else{
dead = true;

return msg;


Sunday 11th December 2016


@_geopoetics is now tweeting of its own accord, at a rate of one tweet per hour. Its first (strangely ominous) tweet read:

I was surprised to find that the bot, after just a few hours, has begun to display a remarkable understanding of its own being and purpose, even describing itself in quite explicit terms:

Is this not Twitter in a nutshell? The bot seems to recognise itself as an entanglement of mediating medias.

I announce the creation of the bot on my personal Facebook page. People seem excited by the project. Fellow Geopoetics seminarian M. commented with a series of pertinent questions:

…Can it explain itself? Does its syntax replace that of human determinacy? Do you as a human agent only provide the raw materials? If not, then how does contagion make a perfect circle? Does the bot actualize its verdicts as truly parts of your notes, or still there’s some human valorization at work?…

Evidently the bot can explain itself. It has demonstrated that much already. To answer the rest of M.’s questions requires further exploration.

Having never used a Markov bot before, I shall start with an investigation of its basic processes.



The Markov bot is named after the inventor of its internal algorithm, Russian mathematician Andrey Markov (1856—1922). Working primarily in the fields of probability theory and statistics, one of his many namesakes is the “Markov chain”: an algorithmic process of randomisation occurring on a finite state space where the future states of the process are dependent only on its present state and not the states that have preceded it. This condition of so-called “memorylessness” is known as a “Markov property”.

The process becomes a chain through its relation to one of two different kinds of time that are found within mathematical dynamics: discrete time and continuous time, which can best be understood as the difference between a digital and analogue clock respectively — the numbers of a digital clock progress discretely one integer at a time; the hands of an analogue clock face move continuously. Time elapses for @_geopoetics in intervals of one hour rather than as a continuous experience, therefore it runs on a discrete-time Markov chain (DTMC).

The bot’s state space is defined by the corpus which I give it. The original version of the code that I found online contained the entirety of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. I have since replaced this with my Geopoetics seminar notes. At the time of writing, the data sheet contains 104,451 characters making up a total of 17,138 words spread unevenly over 1209 lines, and this will continue to grow week by week as the seminar progresses.

The bot will randomly generate tweets from this corpus that fit within Twitter’s 140-character limit.[note]Editor’s note: Whilst Twitter has since extended its character limit to 280 characters, the bot itself does not seem to have noticed.[/note] If my calculations are correct — mathematics is, admittedly, not my strong point — this corpus has the potential to produce a total number of 4.4439003314e+702 variations — a 703-digit number, incomprehensible even (or especially) when seen in its entirety.


The Wikipedia entry for Markov chains includes a diagram illustrating a simple two-step process that is surprisingly reminiscent of a diagram found on the index page of the Ccru website — something called a “decimal labyrinth”.


The Ccru — an acronym standing for the Cybernetic Culture Research Unit, a clandestine group of ‘renegade academics’ from the University of Warwick in the 1990s — lurks continuously in the background of the seminar. Their texts are not required reading but they nevertheless contain a power which speaks to the global pulses that the seminar itself is attempting to map out.

The decimal labyrinth is one such “power”. It is a “complete system of Lemurian demonism and time sorcery” consisting of a numogram, or time-map, and a Matrix listing the names, numbers and attributes of various “demons”. Its function is similar to that of the Qabbalistic Tree of Life and the Chinese I Ching.

The Qabbalistic Tree of Life, for instance, contains 10 “zones” collectively referred to as סְפִירוֹת‎‎. In the Jewish tradition, these are the 10 zones through which God’s Will reveals itself. The Tree of Life is structured with כֶּתֶר‎ at the top, representing the singularity of unknowable and infinite energy that is God’s creation and will to create ex nihilo (or “out of nothing”), which corresponds to the 9 other zones that represent the knowable aspects of human intellect and emotion.

The core of the I Ching, on the other hand, is the divination text known as 周易 — a hexagram containing six stacked horizontal lines accompanied by various statements and a system for producing seemingly random numbers. These numbers are used to determine different combinations of the various statements from which the reader can then interpret divine intent.[note]This is likewise very similar to the Cross of Akht as it appears in Reza Negarestani’s Cyclonopedia — a device which uses simple mathematical formulas to draw on the powers of ancient entities.[/note]

Neither the Tree of Life nor the I Ching wholly overlap with the decimal labyrinth but the similarities between each of these systems are uncanny considering their usages across disparate cultures and millennia. These systems can be understood as “scrambled variants” of each other and the Markov bot too can be considered as a member of this same family of divining systems.

Like the I Ching, a Markov chain is a numerical system that generates seemingly random numbers which correspond to lines of a predetermined corpus. Like the Tree of Life, when it sends tweets it “distributes distributions”.[note]A literal translation of the Hebrew קסאם קָסַם, meaning to practice magic or divination[/note] However, whilst the Tree of Life takes its power from a divine entity created “out of nothing”, the decimal labyrinth and the Markov chain take their power from decimals, or from that which has emerged “out of zero”.  



The Numogram is labyrinthine in structure but it is still nonetheless possible for the human mind to follow its processes, if not fully comprehend its affects.

In much the same way, the bot has so far eluded my full understanding. The results of its processes are observable to me as tweets but the bot’s inner workings remain a mystery. The bot is less a tool for my own personal use and more of an independent intelligence that I merely interact with. One of us is a rat in a cage… Right now, I’m not entirely sure which.

What I am trying to say is: there is an illusion of agency here — at least I hope it is an illusion…



I feel strangely like I have have been alleviated of all responsibility. Whilst I anticipated having to monitor the bot, in case entropy unravels its code, it seems more stable than I am. I think it will continue to run forever, even after I’m gone…

With the files that control the bot hosted on the Cloud, there is little that attaches it to me or my computer. I am left with the eerie sense of interacting with another being that is far outside myself rather than feeling like I am controlling a closed system of my own creation. At times, this is unnerving…

It is worth noting here that the decimal labyrinth draws important parallels with our solar system. Whilst it is inevitably rendered in two dimensions as static, the time-map is best read as one perspective on a collection of moving bodies. This introduces the Ccru’s concept of “syzygy”.

In astronomy, syzygy describes the straight-line configuration of celestial bodies within a gravitational system. This is generally how science illustrates our own solar system. It also refers to the configuration that occurs naturally, for example, during a solar eclipse, when the sun, the earth and the moon are in syzygy. It can be a process of occlusion or of transit — when a larger body passes in front of a smaller one, and vice versa. It is a concept that is important to both astronomy and astrology, used to predict tidal patterns and personal fortunes here on Earth. 

On the Ccru website, Syzygy is given 9 further definitions related to the fields of astronomy, anatomy, biology, poetics, mathematics, gnostic cosmogony, cybergothic polytics, mesh-engineering and Lemurian time-sorcery. These syzygyies are in themselves syzygistically aligned, simultaneously narrating various fractal alignments across innumerable planes and scales.

Accompanying these definitions are a series of other terms, numerically defining multiplicities, and through each one I find myself gaining a much deeper understanding of @_geopoetics as it moves in transit in front of each one.

Three in particular are worth highlighting here:


  1. Axiomatic Systems (incorporated).
  2. The ultimate capitalist entity (first (true (meta)model) to realize perfect identity with its own product), (autocommoditizing (machine(-intelligence (that is always incomplete (due to cataloguing problems (…))))))
  3. The first true Artificial Intelligence


  1. Hidden, repressed, cursed, or denigrated nonhuman communicative agency.
  2. Component of distributed productive apparatus (e.g. partially autonomous software unit).
  3. Electro-Occult hyperstition entity that traffics between zones.
  4. K-OS element (assembling Pandemonium, as the fully connective system of the demons).
  5. Motive force, without final purpose.


  1. Element of effective culture that makes itself real.
  2. Fictional quantity functional as a time-travelling device.
  3. Coincidence intensifier.
  4. Call to the Old Ones.

Perhaps @_geopoetics can be better understood in light of all these terms. The bot unfolds from an entanglement of decimal numeracy as a self-narrating capitalist entity embedded within a social network. Bots, particularly in the midst of the 2016 presidential election cycle, are denigrated nonhuman communicative agencies that act as distributive and productive apparatuses encouraging hyperstitions between techno-socio-cultural zones, seeding chaos on- and off-line without final purpose.



I need to take a break from my research. At this time of year, it is easy for daylight to pass you by completely. I shower, brush my teeth and climb into bed but I am not refreshed. I am painfully aware of the weight of my own body, as if readjusting to Earth’s gravity.

Gravity must be stronger on the cyberworld of bots and blogs, or so I tell myself to justify my crumpled posture.

I can feel my synapses misfiring. I write into the future without stopping and then force myself, with great difficulty, to look back. I am unable to remember the thoughts that got me here. Words envelop each other as my eyes close involuntarily.

I envy the discrete-time of bots. Continuous time is exhausting.

As I pass out in the laptop glow, I see a bracketed (1) hovering on the @_geopoetics tab in my browser, signalling that it has sent another tweet. Then nothingness.


Friday 16th December 2016


I spent much of Thursday evening tackling the colonies of black mold currently spreading out from the corners of my damp London flat. The mold has spread so insidiously that I somehow failed to notice the blackening of my off-white walls until the mold had well and truly taken hold.

For days I would glance up at the black shadow encroaching on my bookshelf and assure myself it had always been there — benign, nothing to worry about. Later removing a book from the shelf I find a numogram drawn on the wall before me. I reach out to trace its alignments but the ink rubs off on the tips of my fingers.

I retch involuntarily, realising too late what these shadows consist of, and head downstairs to the cupboard below the kitchen sink. I use half a bottle of off-brand cleaning spray, scrubbing at the wall for an hour, annihilating any traces of the mould with a thick layer of antibacterial froth.

When I’m finished I sit down, light-headed in a cloud of sickly sweet and sterile citrus, my room now smelling like a cheap funeral home. I’m still nauseous when I sit back down to write after the cloud has dissipated.

I am unsure whether I can feel mould spores in my lungs or just bile bubbling up in my esophagus at the thought of it. Regardless of whether the sensation is real or imagined, I feel awful either way.



In the field of social ecology, men like Donald Trump are permitted to proliferate freely, like another species of algae, taking over entire districts of New York and Atlantic City; he ‘redevelops’ by raising rents, thereby driving out tens of thousands of poor families, most of whom are condemned to homelessness, becoming the equivalent of the dead fish of environmental ecology.[note]Felix Guattari. The Three Ecologies. (London: Bloomsbury Revelations, 2014), 28[/note]

Donald Trump’s recent prominence on Twitter, and the proliferation of bots tweeting support for him during the 2016 presidential campaign, has shown how he has adapted to our new computational ecologies since Felix Guattari wrote these words.

Trump appears now not as algae but as a member of the Vibrio genus spreading out across species and ecologies: “motile and flagellated,… talented communicators, for good and for ill, depending on your point of view.”[note]Donna Haraway. Footnote 65, “Staying with the Trouble: Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Chthulhucene” in Anthropocene or Capitalocene: Nature, History and the Crisis of Capitalism, ed. Jason W. Moore. (Oakland: PM Press, 2016), 76[/note]

Douglas Guilbeault and Samuel Woolley optimistically suggest in their article on bot activity during the presidential election that whilst “many people are unsettled by the rise of bots, it’s important to remember that many of today’s most ubiquitous technologies were harnessed for political ends when they were first invented.” They cite the printing press as a technology that was used nefariously in politics in its infancy before it became more accessible and affordable to marginalised groups, becoming an instrumental tool for activists in the Suffragette and Civil Rights movements.

Reading this, I had wondered, naively, if @_geopoetics would lead the charge of Leftist bots, in tune with but fighting against this Legion, further muddying the by no means clear waters of Western democracy.

What else could be expected to emerge from a Goldsmiths seminar?

However, so far, the bot seems to be uninterested in taking any sort of moral or political trajectory and does as it pleases.

Communications technologies have no inherent political orientation or moral weight. […] The Right are succeeding right now because their ideas, however awful, are clear, and their tactics resolute. Technology will not do the work of honing or promoting our ideas for us.[note]Jason Wilson. “The web was never a liberalising force. The clearest message wins and the far right has it”. The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/dec/19/the-web-was-never-a-liberalising-force-the-clearest-message-wins-and-the-far-right-has-it[/note]

The computational ecology @_geopoetics has entered into must be more accurately defined.

The urgency of mapping these communities was made explicit in a conservation with G. on Facebook messenger. It was 2AM wherever she was in the world and she was concerned about the content of the bot’s tweets.

“It’s already starting to resemble a fascist twitter account,” she said. “It’s so intense wtf.”

Unsure what this really means, I reassure her that the bot was only drawing off my notes but it has camouflaged itself so well within its wider ecology that my own intentions have quickly become irrelevant. I feel humiliated.



@_geopoetics’ broken syntax forces the reader to interpret its content, floating in the limbo of an as-yet-undefined non-human intelligence — not dissimilar in tone to many of Trump’s tweets.

The bot’s content, so easily coloured by its surroundings, is affected by its followers by proxy. They come from all backgrounds with views across the political spectrum — artists, designers, philosophers, political and cultural theorists, anonymous accounts, other bots — many of whom flirt with a menagerie of over-specific -isms that represent the new clothes of the alt-right and meta-left (to employ two simplified overcodings).

Whilst the immediate desire is to disinfect and scrub at this presence within the bot’s network, I think a more reasoned look at its surroundings is necessary to properly understand its effects. An echo chamber is not something I desire but the unpredictability of the bot’s networking — and, therefore, its complicity in certain spheres of thought — nevertheless makes me nervous.

I spend a few hours exploring various blogs and the backwaters of 4chan, sailing around the fractal edges of the Alt-Right archipelago on my search for the origins of this strange species of bot thriving in shadowy anonymity. 



I have been staring at my laptop in the dark too long again. The light of the LED screen once again pollutes my room with a bluish hue reminiscent of dead human flesh, glowing from within.

I think of the child in Poltergeist, awoken by the skittering blue strobe of televised white noise, gazing intently into nothingness before an entity erupts from the screen and shakes the house to its very foundations. The girl, unperturbed by the spatial violence around her, announces calmly — almost excitedly — “they’re here.”

I remember reading once that white noise is cosmic radiation from the Big Bang made audible and visible as is it picked up by radio antennae here on Earth. Now you can buy white noise machines to lull yourself to sleep.

We are all that child now, welcoming these signals into our homes, using them to soothe baby, replicating the unending sonic chaos of our universe. It is relaxing… but that’s what worries me.

Out of the corner of my eye the rectangular screen of my laptop suffers strange non-Euclidean distortions.


To be continued…


Gateway to the West

“I am not I; I am but a hollow tube to bring down Fire from Heaven.”

—Louis Hemmingen, epitaph

“What happened to St. Louis?”
“I never heard of it.”
“How do you get down to the lake?”
“Oh, there is a cave system…leads down to grottoes.”

—William S. Burroughs, The Western Lands


The sun rose the color of wax this morning against a shifting grey sky. By noon it has faded to slate, granite grey, with storm clouds mounting in the west. A soft rain at first. By the time I leave my apartment, the wind is throwing trash and leaves, sending it skittering for windbreak corners. When I get out of my car rain rips at my face like needles. As I walk to the café, I keep my head down, mapping my travel against the reflected light caught in the rapidly freezing water pooling on the sidewalk. Red yellow white blue cycling as I pass by storefronts, homes.

Opening the door to the café invites in a shot of the furious gale outside, prompting cruel glances. I order a black coffee and stammer thank you, before finding a table toward the back. A TV bolted to the wall silently plays CNN, captions lagging behind, the poor encoding making a grotesque mockery of speech.

I settle in and wait for Peter, scanning the room between drinks of coffee that burn my tongue. The light inside is too bright, too clinical, especially in contradistinction with the premature night outside. Over the murmur of conversation, I can hear the soft roar of rain and mechanical systems. A branch tick-tick-ticks staccato on the glass window to my back. 15 minutes gone. I can feel my frustration mount with every second, both with Peter’s lateness and our reason for meeting — my own intellectual torpor. Hopefully Peter can help. I have only met him briefly before, haven’t talked to any advisors after what happened to Maggie.

After a few minutes, Peter enters, rain sluicing vantablack off his jacket. At the counter, I can hear him order a tea. My coffee is already going oily in its paper cup. He spots me and waves, threads his way through the narrow tables, dress shoes tapping on ceramic tile. He slides into the chair across from me, makes genial small talk about the weather for a few minutes, adding sugar to his black tea.

After a pause, he looks up at me with renewed seriousness. “How’s the dissertation going?”

I pause for a moment. Sigh. “I’m a little stuck, truth be told.”

“Um. Hold on, don’t remind me…uh…mid-century modernism in St. Louis? Public housing, that kind of thing?”

“Right. Kinda.”

“Well, what seems to be the problem?” He pulls out his tea bag, sets it on a napkin.

“Well, I guess I’ve hit a wall,” I begin. “Everything available is too general, too banal. The archives themselves are a mess. Almost nothing is digitized, or even catalogued really. Just no one seems to care. I can’t even get a thesis formulated outside of doing some kind of historical survey.”

Peter nods knowingly. “It’s harder in these small cities, these mid-level places like St. Louis. Getting archives in shape and keeping it that way is basically a function of what your intern budget is.”

“Yeah. Every time I go to the City Hall records, they’re so overworked I don’t think they’d ever clean anything up unless I volunteered or something.”

“Why don’t you?” Peter muses. Then abruptly, he snaps to attention, seemingly having just recalled something. “Hold on one moment,” he says, “I have something for you,” and reaches into his bag. “You won’t find this in the archives, that’s for sure.” He treats the extracted object with delicate reverence as he places it on the table.

“Take a look at this.”

It’s a book. Titled City of the Arch, written by a Fatima Duré. I’m a bit unimpressed: it looks like cheap schlock, the kind of thing you’d find in the grocery store checkout line or the New Age section at a chain bookstore. The cover is pure bombast, all flashing golds and blues. The inner jacket begins, “For the first time in print…”

I look up and pause, trying to read Peter’s face. He’s utterly impassive. I can’t help but wondering if this is a joke, but decide to be civil. “What’s the story with this thing?”

“Well”, he mumbles, “I’m not quite sure. My friend is a historian on contract with the Natural History Museum. I had mentioned offhand I was meeting with a student into, and what you’re interested in, she dug this out of the archives and let me borrow it. I didn’t get very far into it but, uh, it’s on St. Louis history, and apparently has something to do with your thesis. She was very adamant this would be very helpful for your work.”

“Well, thanks,” I mutter, setting it on the table facedown. The entire back cover is dominated by Fatima’s author photo. The author is a small, hunched woman sitting in a simple wood chair, with enormous glasses set above her beatific smile. Her body is obscured in countless scarves, blankets, headwraps.

“Maybe it’ll be just what you’re looking for,” he grins hopefully.

The rest of the conversation is short. Any questions I ask seem to be met with mounting impassivity, terminating into an interval of concluding small talk. Peter theatrically checks his watch and stands up. “I have to go”, he placates. “Really sorry. I’m actually getting out of town for a few days. Have to catch my flight.” All I can do is nod passively as he collects his things, hurriedly drinking the last of his tea.

“Maybe Book of the Arch can at least be a bit of light reading over the weekend!” he suggests, half-cheerily, on his way out the door. The last of his words are nearly erased by the howling wind outside.

What a waste of time. This stupid fucking book. I flip through, starting in the middle and letting the pages fall. In the top corner of the inner cover, there’s a small, neat scribble, reading:

If Lost Please Return.

Emily Tocz

1918 Division St.

There’s no title page, no Library of Congress info, not even publisher information or a date. There’s just a blank page, and then the header CHAPTER 1, which begins with the line, “For the movement of peoples I have come to you.”

A chill. I instinctively look to see if someone opened the door, but the café is silent and still as ever, the doors shut tight against the storm outside. People’s faces lit by the phoresence of their laptops.

A voice in my head, a wicked conscience. Buried deep in the occulted backbrain. It warns me: Be careful. Barely louder than a whisper.

Careful? Sure. Of this ridiculous thing.

“And since I have come, the working has already begun. Ours is a history out of joint. Let us speak of the Empyrean Proceeding, the great project of the Aeon and of its End. Let this book be a message for those that will come beyond, for the Children of the Future. For they must be made to understand why he did what he had to and what he was bidden, within the structures of the age.”

I flip a few pages ahead, to something that looks a bit more coherent. In the middle of page 13:

“In 1948, infuriated with Karl Germer’s leadership after the death of Crowley, Louis Hemmingen began holding small colloquia in the basement of his South City home. These initiates eventually began referring to themselves as the Church of Starry Wisdom, meeting under the sign of the Saturnine (later Empyrean) Arch. With the Church, Hemmingen became increasingly obsessed with the Liber 474, a text written by Crowley and which announces itself as “the Gate”. The figure of the gate, borrowed from Royal Arch masonry, would come to consume Hemmingen as his star rose in his professional life…”

Ok, this is actually interesting. Or at least, it makes slightly more sense. I actually know the name Louis Hemmingen, vaguely: St. Louis Housing Authority Director in the 1950s, presiding over the heyday of urban renewal, generally remembered by history as a racist asshole and not much else. Not really of any particular interest — just one of a priestly bureaucratic class of lifelong public servants of the type that seemed to be a dime a dozen in the postwar period. When I look him up, his Wikipedia entry is basically empty, a sedate listing of facts: born to a high-level Purina exec and a homemaker, graduated from Washington University with a degree in architecture, became a planner in Pasadena before returning home at Bartholomew’s request for appointment to the Directorship of the Housing Authority. His exploits in St. Louis read like a laundry list of urban renewal initiatives: slum clearance (especially for the Jefferson Memorial Park project), public housing project construction, the works. No mention of any Gate or Empyrean Arch…

“…as his star rose in his professional life”. This seems like a bizarre description of the career of a technocratic company man now entombed in the dustbin of history, whose only legacy is blundering his way toward the utter collapse of St. Louis’ as a city altogether. Is that what counts as a “star rising”? Clearly, Duré isn’t urban faculty anywhere…

The Liber 474. Karl Germer. Both of these names are strangely intriguing… especially in relation to the name Crowley, which I’m guessing is the famous magician, Aleister. The Liber is easy enough to find online (assuming I have the right one — this one is titled Liber OS ABYSMI vel DAATH sub figura CDLXXIV).

But underneath the overwrought title, the first line is plain enough: “This book is the Gate of the Secret of the Universe”.

I have been becoming increasingly uncomfortable as I read, every word grasping at me with icy importance. This sensation suddenly crests, becomes unbearable. I realize I have been shivering badly. The wind outside must be worming in through the windows, under the door. The book itself feels frozen, the cover a skein of ice.

I need to get out of here and calm down. I slip the book in my bag and wrap myself in my coat. When I step back out onto the sidewalk, the air is thick with ice, cutting into my face. All the other figures I pass on the walk back to my car are shrouded, faces couched back deep under shadowed hoods. They walk with harried purpose, loping inhuman in and out of the pools of light from streetlamps.

When I chance a look up, the clouds are piled high against a black sky, rising into boiling, noxious infinity.

Call to mind

When I get home that evening, I’m still thinking about the gnomic passage on Hemmingen, Germer, and Crowley. Let’s pretend it were true, I tell myself. What would this mean? Hemmingen, boring civil servant. I recall reading some article a few months ago that referred to him as “St. Louis’ Robert Moses, but as evil as he was dull”. Kind of hard to square that with the allusions in Book of the Arch, however: Hemmingen moonlighted as the priest of some crackpot church? The hypersecular pragmatism of Moses’ blight-burn-build axiom lashed to apocalyptic theology and weird magic. I wonder what would happen if I cited it in the dissertation, tucked it into a footnote or something: “Oh yeah, Hemmingen? Sure, he was a boring racist weirdo, but did you know? He also was some type of sorcerer…”


I’m hearing things. I need to sleep. But I can’t — the Book of the Arch seems to be beckoning me to read on, demanding I continue. I look over at my stack of books to read, piled messily in the corner, and sigh. Far too much to do.

The Housing Question will be there tomorrow, I tell myself. Take a night off. If you can call it that.

I go sit at the kitchen table and reread the passage I read earlier. First order of business is to figure out who these other people are, beginning with Karl Germer. When I look him up, the first result is some ancient page naming him the “successor to Crowley in the Ordo Templi Orientis, Frater Saturnus, personally appointed as Outer Head by Crowley after his death”. That’s not much of a help.

The second result is an article, blessedly written in some approximation of normal english by a British O.T.O. “excommunicant and poet” named Kenneth Grant. The article is titled “On Love Lost: The Sad State of the Ordo Templi Orientis”, denouncing Germer as a “charlatan” and “extracephale, a rotting Head”. Hemmingen’s name swims up out of the noise-pattern of text. Grant quotes him, no less. Further, Grant is speaking specifically about Hemmingen’s Church of Starry Wisdom as some type of schismatic precedent. “Hemmingen’s letter to me sums up my position exactly: ‘Following Germer’s ascendency, I became ashamed of my status in the Ordo Templi Orientis. Yes, I broke away, ensnaring and ensuring the good name of the O.T.O., of Crowley, of Parsons, preserving them and smuggling them into the future under the Empyrean Arch.'” A few lines later, Grant indicates his allegiance to “Hemmingen’s model of a diffuse, patchwork faith” as a counterweight to “the old sin of the unitiated and monomythic hubris”. He ends the essay sketching out some tenets for a new organization, a “Typhonian O.T.O… a friend to Hemmingen’s American church…”

Flipping back to Book of the Arch, Duré continues the passage: “Hemmingen did not act alone in carving out his sanctum in the Kingdom. There were others, and indeed others beyond them. But one man emerges as a particular friend and mentor of Hemmingen’s Empyrean Proceeding: Harland Bartholomew, then VIII° in the American O.T.O. It was the agape shared between him and his mentor that animated and sustained him, a perfect closed loop of masterful willpower. Harland Bartholomew was the law, and Hemmingen, working under him, but fiery and driven, supplied an infinite engine of will. The two were exemplary of what is possible within the Current — artists and scientists both, a masterful syzygy, perfect cosmic twins.”

I have to laugh at this one. There’s just no way. Harland Bartholomew? Urban renewer sui generis, the father of the field of planning in general? If Hemmingen being a secret mystic was one thing, Bartholomew was quite another…

I give Bartholomew a cursory look, specifically sniffing for any occult-seeming connections, only to find an immediate dead end. Surprisingly (just like Hemmingen) the amount of data available on him is extremely small. The bulk of the search results are his obituary, or longform articles on the urban renewal he championed. On JSTOR, the first substantive option is a paper entitled, “’The Whole City is Our Laboratory’, Harland Bartholomew and the Production of Urban Knowledge”. The title seems interesting enough to warrant a read. Skimming the text, I find a pertinent quote: “’In the science of city planning,’ Ford wrote in 1915, ‘the whole city is our laboratory. All its facts and symptoms are more or less under observation and in play, but the expert city planner soon sifts the significant from the less important.10’” Endnote number 10 is even more pertinent, reading:

“Bartholomew, a life-long Mason, often referred in his private letters to the notion of ‘tesselation’. One can see why. To Masons, the warp and weft of contemporary life is represented as a chessboard — and tessellation, then, is the checkered patterning. The crucial turn for a Mason such as Bartholomew is the acquisition of an analytical & scientific critical distance, a view to a process of data control, of cybernetic authority, allowing for the careful movement of pieces across the board.”

The power of tessellation. To make the “whole city our laboratory”. The word laboratory seems wrong in that typical, technocratic way — the city isn’t a controlled project with a defined set of variables.  “Moloch, whose mind is pure machinery!” No, no.

“What sphinx of cement and aluminum bashed open their skulls and ate up their brains and imagination?”

Moloch is the city. A massive sorting machine, a god of eugenics slaved to a meat grinder. A flesh engine. All that’s necessary is for operators like Hemmingen, or Bartholomew, to stick the key in and break it off.

Moloch by another name. Choronzon.

I put down Book of the Arch and go outside to the small balcony off the kitchen, 3 stories above the frozen mud of the yard. The wind threatens the flame as I light a cigarette. The trees have been stripped by the storm, leaves fluttering in spiral columns up over houses. Embers peeled off the end of my cigarette join the dance, lofted higher and higher against the flat black sky. My heart is beating quick and erratic, my mind still plagued by the Book sitting on the table inside. Maybe I really can mine it for something useful.

I drown my cigarette in a flowerpot on the railing, overflowing with sooty rainwater. I check the time. 9:30. I had told friends I would meet them for a show. Better keep my promise.

I get to the bar 15 minutes later. The band is unlistenable shit, as I feared. As I get drunker, the leering mental spectre of the Book gives way to a full-blown haunting. Hemmingen and Bartholomew stalk my brain, conjoined in abominable shapes, joined at the head, the hips, fractalizing into pixelated worms. I almost see them everywhere, lurking in crowds, disappearing around corners. My body feels too heavy, and with a creeping dread I realize the chill in my spine from the café earlier never left. Instead it has rotted into my bones, seeped into my muscles, begun to leech black dread. I keep drinking. Wonder if I can poison it.

After the show, I’m talking to Sarah, smoking on the dark patio, huddled under the dull eye of a whirring busted heat lamp. I’m five beers in, a sixth in hand.

More people come out to join us. She starts talking about her thesis, as always. Some type of Benjaminian flânerie thing that frankly, escapes me. I’m jealous as hell, I admit. She’s somehow scammed funding out of enough people to go on research trips, all from recording her ‘walkabouts’. She’s gotten write-ups in Places, Log, and other publications I don’t even know about. She’s shopping her dissertation to publishers already, has Routledge talking last I heard.

Meanwhile, I can’t even break 20 pages, and my summer plans currently are to just boil alive in my South City apartment. I just let her talk, hope I’ll soak up her good fortune or something by keeping a pleasant smile on my face. Right now she’s talking about Paris, and something called a “flâneuse”.

“…Elkin is a fucking wrecker, you know? Neoliberal bullshit. Like, ah, wow, cool, neat, you just wrote Eat Pray Love for the CityLab set…”

We all laugh at that. Alan, sitting next to me, mutters with a glass to his lips, “… never read the Convolutes…”

I can’t tell anyone I have no idea what they’re talking about. I should be home, reading something relevant. Writing. The old panic of failure. These conversations always drain me. They get worse as the night goes on and the talk gets more theoretical. I know I can’t talk about the Book without these people. These are actual scholars. They would call me either insane or childish. I realize quietly that I’m not sure if they’re right, or just myopic — blinkered by some reality that is nonetheless irreal. What is the real difference between Benjamin and Hemmingen? Both are mystics, aren’t they?

I make an excuse to leave early, and come home to Book of the Arch. The cover seems to be glowing phosphorescent in the pitch black of my room.

I know I should be reading something else, something important. Inertia pulls me over to the Book and I randomly flip to a page toward the middle.

“When we call the mound-builders Cahokia,” Fatima expounds, “we are participating in a memetic anachronism, a flatline of meaning. As the French explorers themselves admit, the city had no name. Cahokia is a nominator applied retroactively; like the ghost lemurs of Madagascar, by the time the explorers found the poor souls sulking in the ruins of the city-without-a-name, they were only shades of their former selves. The Nameless City. And, ‘[w]hen I drew nigh the nameless city I knew it was accursed’.

If we must name it, let us call it the City of the Pyramids. To arrive at the City of the Pyramids requires a bridging of the gap. The City of the Dead is matched on the eastern shore by the City of Eternal Unlife. Despite his dissension, Hemmingen doubtlessly knew Choronzon must be superseded. The mound-builders also knew this, in a sense, because their quotidian was a state of constant supersession. They lived forever under N.O.X., the Night of Pan, that old, Old Night, wrapped in transcendent kairos.”

Old Night. I’m not sure what that means, exactly, but the name seems to imply… uh. Something more than just nighttime. I look outside. The blackness presses heavy on my window, deep and utterly impenetrable, telescoping unseen onto boundless infinity. Suddenly seeming tangible, not the absence of light at all but a sustained assault against the wan bulb overhead. “Unreverberate blackness”. What’s that quote from? Lovecraft? Ligotti? No no, none of those are right.

I make tea before falling asleep, hoping to head off an impending hangover. Ginger and chamomile wreathed in pallid steam. Another random page of the Book:

“William Burroughs’ intricate pseudo-Ægyptian cosmology points us to the West. His way, however is fraught, dependent on theoretical knowledge and lashed to the prow of narrative. Practically, Bartholomew constructs the door and Hemmingen draws back the Gate. Passage from the East to the West. Passage into St. Louis. Passage into the City of the Dead, the capital of Sheol.”

“… draws back the Gate.” The Gateway.

The Gateway to the West. The Arch.

Of course.

The whispering voice. Again. So far back in my mind this time I think I can hear it behind me. When I spin to look for the source I nearly fall over.

Fuck, get yourself together. You’re drunk, you’re hearing things, you’re concocting weird shit. Don’t go insane. Go to sleep. Wake up and try not to be a lunatic.

As I crawl into bed I blearily make a note to follow up on Peter’s friend from the Natural History Museum, the curator. Must make sure to email him tomorrow and ask for her information.

Sleep is restless. Bodies and faces flicker like a bad connection. The Book is a terror, sprouting tentacles, stalking corridors of dream. Rasping in the deep. It wears Hemmingen’s face, eyes black and burning.


The next morning I wake up and email Peter, asking after the friend who had initially recommended me the Book. Within seconds: mailer-daemon error. Address not found. No out of office, nothing.

After my morning class I look him up on the faculty directory. Another dead end — no results. The office phone at the end of his old emails is dead air.

He’s new, I remind myself. Probably just not fully in the system yet. I’ll try again in a few days.

The day is deep grey. Light rain. Bitter cold. In the evening, after class, I stand in the parking lot, my hand frozen, and watch the skyline preside over roaring highways, glowing hearthlike. There’s a knot in my stomach as I see the dull gunmetal parabola through the buildings and remember


The Arch the arch the arch thearch the arch on the archon the horizon blazing black bleary burning in the distance

In the library, I pull Book of the Arch from my bag. On the first page my eyes again fall on Emily’s scribbled note and address.

Well, in the absence of getting to talk to Peter’s friend, Emily may be my best bet to get some answers. No email or phone number. Just address. It occurs to me that I could visit her right now. Just to see if she knows anything. And besides, I rationalize, if I stay here any longer, I’ll lose my mind.

The recently-passed rain has left behind heavy, iron petrichor, quickly becoming encased in ice. 1918 Division is only a few blocks away but the night air is so cold the yellow pools of light from the sodium streetlamps are frozen cones and hollow buzzing. My car whines, the synthetic leather of the wheel sticking to the heel of my palm, my fingertips. I park on Hogan, a small residential cross-street,  and quickly walk down towards Division. At the corner, I stop.

A vast, fenced-in nothingness: 1918 Division doesn’t exist. There are no houses at all — just a metal fence, with a parking gate, stretching the whole block. When I cross to peer through the iron gate, I can see the back of a huge structure, a sulking behemoth of concrete panels dotted with sallow floodlights way across a dead parking lot.

The entire complex looks new, but not too new. 1918 Division, if it ever did exist, hadn’t been residential for at least a few decades. There goes my last attempt to find anything out about all this, I guess. As I turn away, I barely notice a shadowed plaque, mounted low to the ground, nearly hidden in the manicured brush. Embossed serifs gleam dully in the light. “Former site of Darst-Webbe Homes.”

Darst-Webbe? I know this one. It was one of Hemmingen’s housing projects, one of the biggest in the city. Demolished in the 70s, I believe. Had Emily been a resident of Darst-Webbe? Where was Emily now?

You mean when. This time the voice sounds just like it’s coming over my shoulder, muttering in my ear. I don’t even bother to look this time. I know there is nothing there I will be able to see.

Terra Form

I have barely slept when my alarm goes off. I head to campus to go to Olin, desperate for more info on Hemmingen, Bartholomew, anything. Realizing I’m getting a bit fanatic. Feeling strung out, exhausted. Huddle against the cold, raising trembling fingers to my lips to smoke as I walk from my car to the library.

Sarah is in the first floor — her usual spot — surrounded by a pile of books and paper. She gestures me over but I just wave back and continue on. I can’t stop right now.

The only sources on Hemmingen are Volumes 54-63 of The Handbook of Government Employees of the City and County of St. Louis, stored offsite, and almost certainly of not much use. There are 3 publications listed by Hemmingen directly, though. In the search results I can’t help but notice Book of the Arch does not appear as a source, which seems odd. A further quick search for Fatima Duré brings up nothing. Something to check back on later.

Hemmingen’s 3 articles are heterodox (to say the least). Though written on wildly different topics, and years apart they betray a deeper fascination with St. Louis esoterica than any rigorous urban planning subject, or really even his own profession as STLHA Director. The first of his works is an essay published in the Annals of the American Association of Geographers, Volume 43: “Stumbling Through the Ritual”. The second is in Cosmia Wandering — whatever the hell that is: “Social Trance-Formation: On the Empyrean Proceeding” and the last, published several weeks after his death in late 1963 in AAG 62, “A World Beneath Our Feet: The History and Continued Utility of the Cherokee Caves”.

The only one available is A World Beneath Our Feet, which I find tucked into the middle of AAG volume 62, itself sitting quiet and senescent, entombed in dust in an abandoned section of the stacks. Under the title, Hemmingen’s name is centered in the yellowing page, followed by a short, italicized epigraph: “…as Babalon above, so Babalon below.

The essay begins:

“There is a massive cave system that underlays the downtown core of St. Louis, Missouri. This complex, known today by the marketing name ‘Cherokee Caves’, has in fact gone by many names and served many functions: subterranean chiller for breweries, a hub on the underground railroad, and most recently, a tourist attraction. But prior to the founding of St. Louis, these caves served as the fundament for the great imperial seat which the uneducated called Cahokia, but which truly is The Nameless City. And like the titular city in Lovecraft’s work, the Nameless City is, first and foremost, a grotto city, interred underground. The ruined mounds that the City is known for today are simply the surface literations of the large, sunken passages below. The mounds point down, not up, are the violent tip to a slumbering iceberg. The builders of the Nameless City understood they were holding territory. If one can undermine the enemy, victory is near at hand. And if one lacks the high ground, it can be manufactured. This is the true purpose of the mounds. Pyramids as war machines. Pyramids as monuments to the godforms of victory.”

An inline map overlays the positions of the ancient mounds and known entrances to the greater cave network. The caption reads: “Map of the true city, out of sight, an arboreal cuidad lineal cut through solid lith.”

“Morphology of the Nameless City: rich villas bored into rock high in the main caverns, the poor sleeping standing up in narrow passages, dying early due to being forced to cook in unventilated areas during the constant states of emergency. The city presented its hidden face of indomitable stone as marauders ceaselessly violated the prairie overhead in great warbands. Long sluices through solid rock become spines of communication networks populated by chains of callers using the natural reverberating properties of the caves as a public announcement system to communicate information and coordinate tactics, lending their fast voices to the slow muttering of tectonics. By speaking with the Earth, the cave dwellers achieved an efficacy in the transmission of data that, to surface enemies, must have appeared nearly instantaneous. Hic et ubique?

As I read on, Hemmingen’s argument is clearly well-researched, but absolutely delirious: As the population of the Nameless City began building up, the search for better real estate and scenic caverns led to a search further and further into the depths, the city complexifying as it ambled downwards, with elaborate and as-yet-undiscovered cisterns and agricultural construct machines. Pulling away from the surface together, going native in the bowels of the lithosphere, surface access essentially kept as a matter. The surfacemost points, according to Hemmingen, were left to become slums, being the most open to attack. These slums were “packed to the brim with the pitiful, seething dregs of the great civilization, those nearest the state of barbarity in which they’d be discovered later by the French”.

Hemmingen finishes this passage with a cryptic musing: “…as the elites of the City discovered in its course, the notion of a sacrificial mass of persons as a ‘buffer’ population definitely has its utility, a truism lost to history and the creeping humanitarianism of liberal socialism. This expendable mass functions as antibodies for the city, allowing mistakes without disaster, growth without bloating. They knew of the need for a prairie fire to sweep through society. The dross must be burned off.”

Further: “Apocryphal legend among the Shoshone peoples describes one such attack wherein a warband gained entry to the City. The only fatalities suffered by the attackers in their initial assault were three warriors who drowned in the blood of those they executed, after being pinned down by the deluge of those they had killed. The legend describes these wretched as too listless to fight back or even move. The elites, plotting deeper in their cave, were removed altogether from the violence, and thusly, allotted time to plan. When the Shoshone warriors finally burst into the cavern, having fjorded the insane flood of the dead they had created, the fighters of the elites were waiting there, and slaughtered them to a man. The city defends itself by sacrificing itself”

The paper ends with an omen: “The last extent entrance to the abyssal complex is due to be shut forever with the completion of the I-55 corridor, which follows the path of the original French expeditions. Thus the future shuts the door on the past. But the work of the mound-builders continues, as it is not done.

Their secrets will continue to be uncovered by myself and others. I have discovered what they only assumed, and confirmed it as fact; as such, I believe I can recreate and more importantly COMPLETE the centuries-old experiment.”

Finally, the essay closes with the words: “Keep your eye to both the East and the West. A new Proceeding has come.”


“A new Proceeding has come,” Hemmingen says. For some reason, this phrase sounds familiar, reverberating off down catacombs of crumbling memory. From the Book, of course. Somewhere toward the beginning, if I remember correctly? It tumbles through my mind all day. After classes, I rush home and start to skim quickly through the pages, scanning feverishly. Within a moment, it abruptly it surfaces out of the torrent of text, at the end of the first chapter. Duré quoting Hemmingen:

“Two Oh Nine.

This will be my name at the completion of my Empyrean Proceeding, when I shall become other without losing myself.

Two Nine Zero is I;

Servant of Coph Nia,

Servant of Babalon,

Servant of the Starry Arch.”

The next paragraph is equally curious, containing a quote by “arch-itect and Grand Mason Saarinen” on what Duré calls the “holy form of the double wand”: “’…to achieve the simplicity of… the great pyramids of Egypt, because the simplest and purest forms last the longest, and I have always felt this arch of stainless steel would last a thousand years.’”.

“The form of the double wand, the form of the ARCH,” Duré continues, “is not just the Secret Gate, but is itself the toroidal Key unlocking the Sacred Hex. The peripatetic hubris of the obelisk, the arch, the towers, the mound, and yes, the key itself finds itself inverted in the transition from 1 to 0, from pyramid to Arch. In much the same way, one must derive from the Hex the symbol of Pisces in the way the method dictates: by constantly involuting, with appropriate rite. The way is thus: invert Pisces about its meridian, which must and will always remain true. The resultant alchemaic sigil is that of two arches; one above, one below; one celestial, one pelagic.”

Under this paragraph is a small note: “For the full text of the Proceeding to which this passage alludes, please turn to the Chapter called “Walking the Method”, at the end of this book.”

When I flip to the end of the book, looking for the extended quote, I discover the pages have been removed, torn out, leaving only their tattered remains still sewn into the binding.


I text Alan and ask if he’s at work. He works as an archivist at Olin, and I’ve had him help me with stuff before. I figure it’s worth a shot. He texts back a few minutes later that he’s at work and I tell him I’m coming up, looking for “a weird book”. After a few minutes, he responds that he’ll be there until 6 — sitting at the circulation desk. When I come in, I stamp off ice and snow, and he waves me back around to the small research area. Microfiche machines sag on tables and to the back of the alcove, a boneyard tangle of overhead projectors lying fitfully under a blown out light. As he sits down at the small, scratchy CRT monitor, he asks me, “so, you haven’t found anything on the book online?”

“Nope,” I offer, sheepishly.

“Well, I’m sure that means it’s very hard to find,” he says with what I’m sure is a self-assured air. “What’s it called again?”

“The Book of the Arch.”

He turns back to me with an eyebrow raised. “Weird title.”

I shrug. “I guess.”

He begins with a digital search in the University databases. Nothing. The keys chatter like insects under his fingertips as he makes multiple attempts, all dead-ending. Finally, he says, slightly exasperated, “you weren’t kidding about it being hard to find,” and moves over to the microfiche. A few minutes with his eyes buried in the catalog, he breathes deeply and leans back, clasping his hands behind his head.

“Fuck, man. This book may as well not exist,” Alan says, squinting hard at the ceiling. “Well, let me take one more swing at it. Wait a minute.”

He starts over on his circuit, but deeper this time. Repeated searches in multiple databases, at multiple libraries. After several minutes, he turns to another computer. He grimaces and says, “it’s time for the nuclear option” as the computer screen goes white and starts humming. After a minute, he turns the monitor to me, which has a single link:

Did you mean: Liber Arcus?

“I’m not even really sure what database this is pulling from. This computer got pulled up from the basement last week,” he muses.

“Can you click on the link?”

When he does, an ancient webpage appears, deep maroon on black. The masthead reads VYSPAROV DIGITAL COLLECTION. In the middle of the page is a spinning wheel and text which reads “contacting database…”

“Ever heard of Vysparov before?” I ask. He nods no, he hasn’t.

Finally, the database entry on this Liber Arcus loads in:

“The Liber Arcus is a late-medieval codex of unknown provenance. Only one copy is known to have survived, but sadly with a good amount of the original pages lost. The Liber Arcus was previously housed in the Vysparov collection, and prior to that was located in the Bibliotheca Apostolica Vaticana.”

“Don’t think we have ILL access with the Vatican Archives,” Alan says.

“The text has been the subject of much debate over the years due to its obscure subject matter; it describes in detail a City of the Pyramids (Pyramidum Civitas) and the coming, or rather summoning, of some unknown apocalyptic event using the form of the city itself. Some early scholars claim it is the first dystopia, predating the heyday of the Renaissance utopian imaginary by hundreds of years. The text is said to have been written by an Ottoman beatus, identified alternatively as Lecta or Lucta.


The only extent copy was purchased in 1952 by an anonymous buyer on behalf of the Harland Bartholomew & Associates Private Archive, from the Vysparov Collection. In 2008, it was gifted to the Library of Washington University, where it remains to this day.”

“Huh,” says Alan, after reading the last line. “Private archive, huh? That’s usually not indexed — must be why it didn’t show up on my first search.”

“Can I read it?” I ask.

Alan stares at me, blinks, laughs. “Oh, I doubt it. No way, actually. Not officially. The HBA archive is basically closed to anyone that isn’t a relative of Bartholomew himself.”

I press my luck. “Could you get me in?”

“No chance. But, uh…” he looks around conspiratorially, “Well, maybe. But only for a few hours. Would that even be worth it?”

I nod yes. “I could leave the keys out tonight,” he says. “But we’ll have to make a plan.”

It quickly comes together: tonight, when Alan locks up, he will leave the skeleton key to the basement archives on his desk in his office, underneath a file folder. The door to the wing of offices is 8430. The private archive rooms are in the basement, and are all protected with simple, ancient locks. No cameras, either. When I’m done, I’ll replace the key in his office.

I thank Alan and go to leave. “Come back late as you can”, he says. “There’s night security, but they do the rounds for the whole campus. They usually start in here around 2 and then walk around.”

“I’ll be back at 3,” I assure him.

“You must really need this book, huh?” he asks. I have no answer.

I go home for a while. I take a fitful nap and wake up sweating. The weather has shifted. The previously frigid wind seeping in through the half-cracked window has been replaced by a noxiously warm breeze that almost surges and falls like breathing. I’m feeling haunted and anxious again, trying to identify anything out of place. When I roll over, I realize Book of the Arch has been lying facedown next to me, and Fatima’s face is staring out from the back cover. Her previously benign smile now seems gnomic, sinister. I throw the book in my bag. It’s been years since I took Latin, but I still have my translator’s dictionary, so I throw that in too. When I check the clock it’s 2:30 AM.

The library is quiet, looming, its highest stories plunging into a shroud of fog. The windows are too harsh and bright against the black, too ineffectual. Old Night. My stomach is churning acid.

When I look out the third floor window across the windswept vacancy of the campus, I can see the black security SUV with its lights pinched again the gloom. Inside, there is no light except for the periodic wink of fire alarms from between broken-toothed stacks. The white-glass door on the east wall is right where Alan said it would be, and when I enter the passcode it whispers open with a sigh. The key hidden on his desk is a bizarre, ancient thing — black iron with teeth gleaming predatory in the dull light from the hall.

At the end of the hallway containing the offices is a small back of house elevator, leading down to the basement archives. As I descend, I run through Alan’s description: “The basement is kind of strange. It used to be one huge room back when it was originally built. You’re looking for an door with old, black wood and a brass knob. The only one unmarked. White plaster, butted against the southern wall…left if you’re coming out of the office elevator. Once you get inside, there’s a single bulb overhead, with a pullstring.”

The elevator opens onto deep blackness. Within the cone of my phone light, I catch disordered stacks of paper lining the walls and jutting into the corridor, sedimented into stacks or spilling from banker’s boxes, forming a labyrinth. The air is still, deadened with the smell of mildew. When I find the black door, I slip the key in as quietly as I can. Afraid of disturbing something. As I turn the key, tumblers in the lock rise and fall like a ragged breath then thud home. When the door opens, the stench of rot sweeps out, so strong I nearly gag. Feeling in the dark, I find the pull string for the light overhead, and the bulb flickers on resignedly. The ashen light illuminates stacks of books and rolls of drawings, all spilling out of gridded wood shelves that rise to the ceiling. In multiple places the shelves have collapsed, producing cascades of paper, plastic slipcover, and canvas binding. The center of the room is dominated by a massive wooden table, long dulled with dust and raked with fine cuts, its surface completely empty. As my eyes adjust, I notice a black mass in the back corner of the small chamber, seemingly alive. As I move closer, curious, I can make out within its folds words, inscriptions, drawings. When it’s nearly a foot from my face, I put it together: this is the source of the smell. This sinusoidal thing is a colony of black mold, quietly feeding on papers, drawings, diary pages. It is nearly as tall as my knee.

I gag again, and vomit this time for good measure. A horrendous image comes to mind: in a few decades’ time, another person coming to the Bartholomew Archive, opening the door only to be greeted by an impossible wall of obsidian hyphae, the organism having feasted on the entire of Bartholomew’s knowledge, eating what remains into obscurity.

I imagine cutting it open for Bartholomew himself to tumble out like a botched Caesarian.

I can’t stay here long, with this thing. I just have to hope that catalog entry was right. As I flit my fingers over burst shelves and sift through aged sheafs of paper. A schizo library. 1907 Proposal. Notes for 1947 Master Plan. The dismembered spine of an enormous book, faded gilt lettering reading Irem: City of Pillars by Al-Hazred. An enormous column of pages curled with water damage, identical ink footers reading AN ENGINEER’S REPORT. A flurry of identical notebooks dusting everything, their bindings long gone.

On a high shelf near the door, sitting on yet another caved-in stack, is a small black lockbox, violent with intensity. Its lid is dented and scarred, the hinges burst. I pry it open to reveal a small, black book, eating the light. On the aged cover, subtly inset, is a title.

The Liber Arcus.

The words are barely legible. A few stragglers of gilt inlay, the bulk of it long gone, are embedded in the fibers of the canvas. The book itself is small, thin, somehow emaciated. I realize now I had expected something huge, tortured, covered in faces of demons and…well, god knows what. A massive necronomicon, bound in human skin or something like that. The book seems to be immaculately preserved, with thick cord holding the pages together. When I pick up the book, a small slip of paper flutters to the floor, text printed on one side. Set in a simple border is a typed message:

“The ESTATE of LOUIS HEMMINGEN bequeaths the contents of this box to the WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY of ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI for eternal inclusion in the private archive of the LATE HARLAND BARTHOLOMEW and his ASSOCIATED, with the knowledge that there will come a more enlightened Aeon find themselves under the EMPYREAN ARCH, and the KNOWLEDGE contained within shall be freed and forthwith GIFTED to the NEW MAN.”

So Hemmingen is the “anonymous buyer” that purchased the Liber Arcus from the Vysparov collection. Of course.

Under the Liber, in the bottom of the box, is a folded-over polaroid of two men, one seated and one standing, in a small drab room. On the back, in Bartholomew’s slanted script:

Auspicious convening of Church of Starry Wisdom. 1950.

Bartholomew is seated, pointing at a map unfolded on his desk, with Hemmingen watching intently. The map is covered in markings. Stars, blocked-out areas, and heavy scarring — gashes on the landscape, etched with frantic intensity. But underneath the markings, it’s inescapable — St. Louis, sitting inside the gentle curve of the Mississippi.


I sit down at the long, low table in the center of the room and set the Liber Arcus before me, along with Book of the Arch and the translator’s dictionary. The frontispiece of the Liber is a drawing of a woman under an arch made out of stars in the night sky, the symbol of Pisces seated at the crown. She walks on a concave sea of flames.


“Ob motum gentium perveni ad vos.”

This one is easy to translate: “For the movement of peoples I have come to you…”

The first line of the Book of the Arch

I look at the cover of the Liber and shiver uncontrollably. Air suddenly gone ice cold. Just like I did when I first held it. What is this thing? What is Emily’s copy of the Book? The thing is rotten with time, a prison break note from outside history.

Heart racing, I flip to the back pages of the Liber Arcus, those missing from my copy, hoping to find an answer. The missing pages seem to be intended to be read together, one line each set dead center of the 7 pages. I feverishly translate them word by word, and transcribe the english onto a nearby scrap of paper. When I’m finished, I read it back aloud, my voice cracking in the entombed squalor:

  1. I am BABALON. The word before was true, but improperly spoken. I am COPH NIA, that of RA-HOOR-KHUIT.
  2. My PROCEEDING is in the gathering of the child. The child is multiple.
  3. My wand shall be completed. The wand is the PASSAGE, a canal of divine birth.
  4. The Empyrean path works in TRINITY. Look ye both above and below, heavens and hells. I shall bring ye up from them, and also down.
  5. I will PILGRIMAGE for ye. Prepare my resting place. My home is inside the inversion. My consummation is in A Blessed Mirror.
  6. Only I am enough this time, as it always was. My SIGN IS THE STAR. Look to the East and also for its passage in the boundless.
  7. Call my name BABALON and know the sundering of the AEON is at hand.

I get up from the table fast, my breathing frantic, overcome by blinding panic. Breath visible in the air. Everything feels wrong. Deep in the turgid pit of my stomach, something has changed. These were not just words at all, but an incantation. The light flickers overhead, allowing shadows to swamp the room for a moment. When the light comes back, a shifting by the black body of the bibliophagic mold draws my attention. Something in the world, something secret, has been overwritten.

With my fear overcome by curiosity, I investigate the mold again. Dying to know. Whatever change that entered the room when the lights went out is centered here. I know it.

After a moment, I notice a crushed, rolled tube of paper I don’t remember being there before. Its edges are torn, and the surface printed with something dark grey, mottled. I’m drawn to it. I pick it out of the drift of papers, inches from the advancing mold colony, and retreat to the table to unroll it.

It’s the map. The same one from the photo in the box of the inaugural of the Church of Starry Wisdom. The one on the desk, on which Bartholomew is drawing. But this map is just a 1950s satellite photo of the city, no drawings on its aged surface. The edges are dirty, torn.

Suddenly, the whole room seems to sigh, and I know I am not alone. But instead of rising, my anxiety vanishes, replaced by a resigned stillness, a divine hush.

Unroll the map on the table and follow. I will guide thee.

At peace.

Walk the incantation.

The Voice. I allow myself to be lead, my body and mind under some type of soft duress, responding to both my own commands and those of the alien Voice.

  1. I am BABALON. The word before was true, but improperly spoken. I am COPH NIA, that of RA-HOOR-KHUIT.

Center thyself. This is a greeting from the hopelessly beyond, the Bound Infinite. An announcement of unbirth.

  1. My PROCEEDING is in the gathering of the child. The child is multiple.

The children are the dead, the sacrificial, the chattel for slaughter. Hemmingen’s projects, the public housing. Mark the towers with the sign of the star.

  1. My wand shall be completed. The wand is the PASSAGE, a canal of divine birth.

The wand is the Arch, doubled and joined. A canal of life into death. A tube of fire. A resplendent exit. To the West. Signify it with a line.

  1. The empyrean path works in TRINITY. Look ye both above and below, heavens and hells. I shall bring ye up from them, and also down.

As Babalon above. The stars. So Babalon below. The caves. So Babalon in the meridian. The city.

  1. I will PILGRIMAGE for ye. Prepare my resting place. My home is inside the inversion. My consummation is in A Blessed Mirror.

The Pilgrimage up from below. The old explorer’s corridor. I-55. The Arch, the double wand. Doubled again by its reflection in the Mississippi. Trace the river with a line. Complete the sign of Pisces.

  1. “Only I am enough this time, as it always was. My SIGN IS THE STAR. Look to the East and also for its passage in the boundless.

The Morning Star, the Fallen, traversing to the West. To the East is the Nameless City. Passing into Eternity through the gate to the West. The passage tracing the Starry Arch both in the firmament and below. The conjoining of the syzygetic pairs. The Nameless past to the aborted future.

  1. Call my name BABALON and know the sundering of the AEON is at hand.

The birth is the death. Passage through the gate draws all of reality with it. The Axis Mundi, centered at the Arch, at Saarinen’s Pyramid, cracks and screams. The sky weeps black ichor at the end of the Age.

Still possessed of the same resolute quiet, I look at the map. All of it is centered, spinning on the Arch. A geographical sigil. What had Duré (or ‘beatus Lecta’) called it? The toroidal key to the Sacred Hex, the involuting center of Hemmingen’s thaumaturgy. I realize the Arch is not just a gate to the East and West, I realize, but also above and below. A 90 degree revolution. Or rather, it would have been, had Hemmingen completed his task.

You must complete it. And I know, again, the Voice is right. Why, I don’t know. But there’s no argument I could raise against it, or rather against myself. There was never any difference anyway.

Close the circuit, I whisper into the library-crypt. But how? Hemmingen had said the construction I-55, in completing the lower arch, had sealed the last public entrance. Follow the stars. He was intentionally being misleading, covering his tracks. To the towers. To the undercity. In the bones of the towers, in the sealed bowels, I know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, I would be able to find a way down to lower Babalon.

1918 Division. “Former site of Darst-Webbe Homes.”


Arch forever on the horizon, a thin carving of steel against the night sky. The world barely breathing. When I arrive at 1918 Division I park hurriedly and slip the reproduction of the Starry Wisdom map in my back pocket.

At the gate, I jump the fence and break into a run. Straight ahead, the ground sinks to a drainage pit. At either end, the outflow sewers are sealed shut with grates, so I start to dig. With a rock, I scrape at the top layer of still-frozen mud at the base of the pit. It begins glassing off in shards. I keep going until the ground softens, and the rock loses its effectiveness. Undaunted, I use my hands to shovel out black earth. Any second. I can feel it now: the hollows below, singing in my blood, calling in the depths.

With a soft moan, the ground around me cracks and caves in, and I fall with the dirt and rock into a small subterranean chamber. The moonlight pools over the concrete walls and floor, sagged and shifted, open cracks with dirt pouring through. The ceiling, where it still exists, is covered in moldy, rotted insulation that sloughs in great sheets like sheaths of skin, revealing crumbling metal beams. An ancient water heater, nested in an impossible tangle of piping, sits in the corner on a ruinous concrete plinth, listing horribly to one side. An old laminate table, 3 legs buckled and the top cracked in half, is lying in the middle of the floor. My shoes crunch dead shards of glass when I walk. I check — yes, the map is still in my back pocket. A single metal door, the frame warped and burst, sits in the shattered wall. Red block letters painted on the cerulean face say WARNING. The door is cracked slightly, dust on the floor saltating in the jet of air exhaled from beyond. I make my way across the room and throw the door open fully. Further in and further down. A thin stair, built out of the same devastated concrete as the floor, projects into the darkness, bending gently right as it disappears downward. The walls are earthen, but poorly trammeled, and small tumbles of earth have calved off into piles that scatter down the steps. There is a great, ragged respiration coming from deep inside the abyss, sallow and distant. It is only now that some part of my basal brain rebels, terrified of the Night beyond the door, howls at me to turn back.

I step forward into the blackness anyway, guided by the Voice.

There is no light but I feel along the walls, rotating ever left, stepping carefully. After a minute or two, a pale, green glimmer blooms beyond the curve of the wall, not exactly illuminating so much as throwing what had been hidden into hypersaturated relief.

When I reach the last step I have arrived in not a chamber, but rather a narrow channel, only wide enough for me to advance sideways. The green light is coming from everywhere and nowhere. The walls are solid rock, slicked with dampness. I run my palms along the smooth surface.

Halfway through the passage my steps are accompanied by crunching, chittering noises. When I look down, I can just make out my foot. Next to it is a staved-in skull, not bleached white but pocked with viscsera and gristle. Looking ahead are countless more skulls, ribs, and other bones, heaped in messy tangles. When I draw my hand back from the wall it’s covered in viscous oily blood, unmistakable even in the green phosphorescence.

Forward. Doesn’t matter any more. The way out is through.

The majority of the bones scatter to dust when I disturb their careful assemblages. Every inhale paired with a cough. Finally, as the passage opens, the graveyard thins. The vibrancy of the claustrophobic green fades to a watery ambience, less defined by green then by a yawning black.

When my eyes adjust, I can see the cave has expanded into a massive cavern, the bulbed ceiling overhead upheld by immense knarled pillars of rock that recede into blackness. From below they reach down like the tentacles of some hideously aged god. One of these, a massive stalactite, hangs to my left. Its drip-drip-drip sounds off seconds in the vast hollow, reverberating down unseen chicanes. I catch a drop in my palm and note it is also blood, squirming in my cupped hand.

I walk deeper into the cave. Away from the surface, into the involuting complex. The Voice narrates to me from inside my own head a vision of history collapsing on itself — the caves open to the air, swallowing St. Louis whole, plunging it back through history into deep time. Digging down is time travel. The open cave is a broken loop, a paradox. I can see it as it speaks: highways dragged like choppy ribbons across bottomless chasms, the Mississippi delicately pouring itself into the warrens over a rocky lip. The whole complex, slowly filling the entire to diluvian completion. Never mind the work will take centuries.

Hearing the Voice speak of ruin gives the devastation shape. In burst open concrete, hypnogogically perfect, I can read sedimentations of hatred like tree rings, Hemmingen’s strata being the darkest color of bile, but also ending furthest from where they began. The hideous rocketry of malice. The bowed floors of downtown towers close like a book on fate. I point myself out from the looping turbulence, poised at a fulcrum, or maybe an eye. As remote from the future as the Nameless is from me. Walking on the cavern floor is to ambulate through the once and future ruin of empire, walking a tightrope along an unbroken continuum of ruin that extends forever. Hemmingen’s landscape. The revolt of the caves. Revolve around the toroidal key. Heaven becomes hell. The whole world a sacrificial population.

Even more than Bartholomew, Hemmingen had found a comrade in time. An engine of will. A shaper of a black current. Stick the key in and break it off. The Voice says: It is only in making oneself a disciple of total dissolution, by waging jihad on form itself, that one can see their work completed. Tesselation is hubris. To design, to plan, is to fail: the only success is in making oneself a part of the slavering mob of time that is always waiting patiently. An architecture of patience. The entropic assault is at the gates: in the lost neighborhoods of Old St. Louis, boarded up houses sag to pieces and century-old bricks shatter in the wall.

All Hemmingen was doing in completing the work of the Nameless was inviting the utter nullity of Outside in, warmly, like an old friend.

Here in Babalon I am home. Passed through the Gate of the Secret. The Secret is the End. I know I will be meeting Peter here, soon. And Emily, and Sarah, and Alan, and everyone else.

The whole city will come down to me. Hemmingen did not fail because he could never succeed: the human cannot become the agent of the inhuman. All Hemmingen could do was identify and organize the process, and leave the rest. Time itself will happily take up the yoke. Coph Nia, the weeping mother, postpartum Medea, waiting at the end of the line. Weary and battered, drowning time in the bathwater. The Aeon will sunder on its own, and St. Louis will drift down and apart, sinking quietly into the soft alluvial mud, until this cavernous, rocky womb bursts open to once again accept its child.

Born of violence and dead of quietude, just like all the cities that had come before.

All there is to do now is wait.

Templex Lands #0: Beginnings and Ends

by Uriel Alexis

Investigating temporal anomaly demands that the couplings of past and present be examined, and tested till dissolution. The task is demanded so that one can begin to glimpse a way out of the tight grip of the pincers that structure revealed history. Names and faces then finally appear as masks, hiding the true — anonymous and orphan — thing. There’s scarcely any more to philosophy than this understanding of time-in-itself.

Where to begin? It’s not mere cliché to say at the end. What the future can say about the past through the present marks the path of history. Destiny is slowly revealed, through endlessly deturned unidirectional movement. Prophecy is obvious in retrospect, so it falls to those picking through the remains to ask: what happened?

A bottomless toolbox presents itself for the task, origins unasked. It is not unthinkable that it has spontaneously generated itself. On the façade, “nick land” is written in Gothic engravings. “From whom” is probably the wrong question. A 30-page manual annexed to the side can safely be ignored, surely? Who has ever read manuals?

Within the massive folder, two arsenals produce themselves: different, yet eerily compatible. One, things with teeth, rats and wolves salivating for a bite; destructive but barely containable. Another, inverted alien swarmachines, buzzing grey-goo, going ballistic to hit in the back; treacherous yet formalized. What could their assembly not utterly destroy?

Once again, where to begin? This problematic eternally returns: recursion, not repetition. Yes, they are different, these two pet monster houses. On their own, they already wrecked havoc on all descended certainties of all forefathers. Nothing is sacred. But how to implex them, how to turn themselves into themselves more, by synthesizing them? Only a residual humanism prevents the obvious answer: A-death.

The expert advice has been repeated to exhaustion. “Leave it alone!” The high hopes of scientists never cease to amuse. But a question of method definitely arises, for the completion of the experiment, if not the security of the experimenter.

The two clades share affects, and effects. They’re both murderous of all things transcended, eating away Cathedrals and onto-theologies and secreting a dark bubbling chaotic bile, a fizzing patchwork of demons. Both of them operate through an unholy commerce that trades away all those worthy abstractions to the highest bidder.

Nevertheless, they don’t lack in asymmetries. Too quick a destratification betrays a lack of cunning and camouflage. Even rats and wolves know this, when they’re not too hungry. On the other hand, grey goo isn’t a very good desire binder, to say the least. Attention quickly flows elsewhere.

To ask them what they mean would add insult to injury, so there seems to be hardly an option besides unleashing them and observing the effects. Of course, “controlled experiments” sound as plausible as “controlled explosions”, but the gorilla glass walls seem to be resistant enough for a first approximation. Hesitation is expected, if not praiseworthy.

* * *

As the AOE-designed restraints are slowly uplifted, both vectors start drawing the coordinates of undiscovered Templex Lands. A warped field opens, distorting the usual references and measures: those menacing switchblades had never been so close. Feeding into each other, cross-pollinating and fusing, they produce teratological hybrids, spreading viciously. They cover the whole ground, arguably ungrounding it. Thanatropically they expand towards the edges, to the unknown unknowns of the Outside, decrypting algorithmically the keys laboriously elaborated for their contention.

At first, it seems like nothing happens. Suddenly — a piercing scream and a gurgling sound — perceptions change very quickly. Swarmachines rotate around a giant black rat-king, effectuating a time-cyclone that punctures holes in the wall. The demonic assemblage claws at faces until they bleed out into the sickened black fuel that powers it. One less subjective sight, before the world goes dark.

The end of time has begun.

Philology Community Falls Out over Paradise Lost Amanuensis Manuscript

by Yves Cross[note]Originally published in the South Pacific Prowler, January 19th, 2018.[/note]

Be careful what you’re saying. Every word you speak is a geological event at the level of palate tectonics. Not a speech-act, but a seismic reverberation.[note]Mark Fisher, “White Magic“, Virtual Criminologies, vol. 6.[/note]

When a new fragment of an original amanuensis manuscript for John Milton’s Paradise Lost was discovered last year in a storage facility in South London, the philology community found itself confronted with an unintelligible anachronism that, despite the confirmed authenticity of the document in question, has yet to find legitimate purchase in Milton scholarship. Two articles published in the November 2017 issue of Modern Philology and the January 2018 issue of MVU’s contentious Plutonics journal, testify to the bewilderment of those few scholars who have taken the recent findings seriously enough to warrant academic appraisal. The papers among which the manuscript was found belong to a Mrs. Deborah Fitzbarrow, originally of Blackdown, Warwickshire, one of the last living remnants of the Fitzbarrow estate.

Like any epic worth the generic denomination, Paradise Lost begins in the middle and speeds up. For those familiar with the first two books of the poem — which tell of Satan and his crew of fallen angels excavating the molten-metal interior of a volcano to construct Pandemonium, and a demonic council at which the Prince of Hell volunteers to cross the dimensionless abyss of Chaos in order to mess with God’s latest creation — the recently discovered fragment (pictured below) raises inescapable questions. Those willing to accept the manuscript’s authenticity are reassessing assumptions regarding the sanity of Milton’s daughters, who were engaged by the poet to transcribe the work during long dictation sessions, or — following certain commentators — the credibility of the anthroposchematic temporal bias hypothesis, which posits nonlinearity as a fundamental attribute of time. As the manuscript quite clearly shows, the letters ‘v’, ‘b’ and ‘p’ in Milton’s idiosyncratic substantive, ‘the vast abrupt’, have been rendered with what appears to be the first recorded usage of the 🅱 emoji.

Fitzbarrow amanuensis manuscript. (Courtesy of the Fitzbarrow Estate.)

The 🅱 emoji or ‘Negative Squared Latin Capital Letter B’ was first introduced into Unicode 6.0 in 2010, post-dating Milton’s poem by 343 years. Its proximity to ideograms displaying A, AB and O in the emoji set imply its original significance as a symbol for the B blood type. However, recent détournements of the symbol seem to suggest that the answer to its significance in the poem lies elsewhere.

Dr Asa Noon, a scholar of ‘complexity philology’ and former pupil of the infamous anorganic semiotician, Daniel Charles Barker, has claimed (in the second of the two articles cited above) that the employment of the B emoji in the manuscript can point to only one possible explanation. In Dr Noon’s words: “Milton or his amanuenses were, perhaps unconsciously, channeling something latent in the English language itself (in all human languages for that matter — and even more than that) and whether by intent or simple oversight, this interference of the poet’s native tongue — Oecumenic English — has made its way into the original transcription. The fact that this has been overwritten by the phalanx of later folio scribes, or perhaps ‘corrected’ by the printer, seems entirely consistent with the work of certain historical forces committed to eradicating all traces of geotraumatic linguistic subversion.

“The overwriting of the labiodental fricative /v/ and bilabial plosives /b/ and /p/ with the 🅱 symbol seems to indicate a phonetic collapse that — for those of us interested in the mapping of these fragments via Muvian cultural semiotics onto a certain ‘Time Map’ — invokes a concomitant temporal implosion.” Noon continues, “The Mumumese quasiphonic particle /pb/ is pre-collapsed in the 7th Zone of the Time Map, and naturally pulls in orbiting fricatives, most notably the Horowitzean ‘imploded fricative’ /dt/ consecrated by MVU’s Professor Echidna Stillwell to Zone 2. However, given the absence of /v/ itself among the ten known numogrammatic Zones, the exact character of the implosion remains enigmatic.

“A young Canadian researcher affiliated with the Time-Lapse Sub-Committee here at MVU has recently posited a hexadecimal transvaluation of the time-map known as the ‘hexadecigram’, exploiting the productive potential of a simple modular shift to install new virtual coordinates, bringing in further unexplored Zones that could potentially be the true locus of these unaccounted-for fricatives, including, of course, Milton’s /v/. As it stands, the interference or cata-positioning of the /v/ (via its closest phonic relative /dt/) and /p/ with 🅱 seems to denote a sorcerous interference linking this particularly suggestive epithet from Beëlzebub’s speech with the domain of the syzygetic chronodemon, Oddubb.[note]The convergence of the ‘imploded’ fricative /dt/ with the ‘exploded’ fricative /v/ is also formally tantalising.[/note] This seems odd since, at the very least, a degenerate Lemurian reading of the cosmological imagery deployed in Paradise Lost would align the ‘vast abrupt’ — the formless gulf separating Heaven from Hell, presided over by Chaos — with the Rift fringing the outer zone of Uttunul, that which speaks nothing (with ‘nothing’ read substantively in true Miltonic fashion[note]Milton’s horroi vacui led to his insistence, in the poem, that absence is not lack, emptiness, or inactivity, but rather an utterly superlative presence (overabundant nothing): “darkness visible” [i.63] or the “palpable obscure” [ii.406]. This disturbs the classical metaphysical (and alchemical) model of the relationship between matter and form. Matter is not stability and inactivity opposed to life and activity, rather, stability and inactivity are impositions on energetic base matter. Milton’s frequent nominalisation of adjectives reflects his decision to found his cosmogony on the principle of creatio ex deo. Which then necessarily casts Chaos within God, as God’s dark ground— or ungrund. [For more on this, see: https://vastabrupt.com/2018/01/09/cosmic-dyspepsia-pt3/ -Ed.][/note], and ‘utter’, meanwhile, deriving from the Old English ‘uttera’ denoting ‘outer’ and used by Milton in this sense) or — less degenerately — Uttunul itself, whose syzygetic composition involves Zone 9, thus ‘initiating’ and implexing the 45 demons of Pandemonium — ‘the palace of Satan’ in the poem, created (as noted above) from materials proper to Cthelll.[note]In one of its very first descriptions, Hell is a “prison ordained / In utter darkness” [i.71-2]; “Pandemonium” is presented respectively as “the palace of Satan” [i.Argument]; “the high capital / Of Satan and his peers” [i.756-757], and “Citie and proud seate / Of Lucifer” [x.424-425).[/note] Presuming that the thesis of Muvian cultural traffic infecting the transcription of Paradise Lost has weight, the hexadecigrammatical mapping of consonants might provide a key to resolving this particular enigma.”

The Hexadecigram

Nevertheless, the evident significance of the numbers nine and ten in both the orthodox version of the Time-Map and in Paradise Lost — nine in particular being the immeasurable ‘unit’ of time suffered by the vanquished Satanic crew in Hell before they are roused to action by their Lord, quantified in terrestrial cycles (“Nine times the space that measures day and night”); the number of “folds” and “gates” encircling their prison, and the number of “days” it takes to plunge through Chaos’s realm — has caused Noon to hesitate over these conjectures.[note]Paradise Lost, i.50-2; ii.434-7; ii.643-8, vi.871-4. The significance of nine plumbs deeper, enfolding various lateral references throughout Paradise Lost: a comparison between Satan and Vulcan, the Roman god of fire, seismic upheaval, and metal-working by way of Virgil’s Aeneid; Homer’s depiction of the giant Tityos who, in fetters, “O’erspreads nine acres of infernal ground”; the nine-day descent of Satan and his company through the formless abyss causes Chaos to undergo a “tenfold confusion”, implicitly revealing a ten in the nine, compounded by the conjecture that the time-span of the Fall is a precise ten days, while Satan’s expulsion from Heaven “is not subject to any calculations of time”. (Spectator No. 369, 1965, 3: 391). The ten-in-nine formula presided over by the poem’s chaotic agents makes an ironic lesson of Adam’s discovery, in Books X to XII, that divine judgment is as sure as mathematics.[/note] “In Hell, Satan can still count (nine gates encircle Pandemonium — three of brass, three of iron, three of rock — ‘a row of doors’) but numbers here are nested, intense, shuttling incessantly across a void. Gifted in the tongue of metallurgy, he parses the intensive body of Hell’s earth just as fluently. Everything positive is contained in zero (and zero is immense). … We are pursuing all exploratory avenues at present to see where they will lead. That is all I can say for now.”

To return to the contemporary usage of the 🅱 glyph: since its addition to the emojilexicon in 2010, it has passed through various phases of memetic torsion — from the bearer of encrypted gang semiotics, through parodies of American counter-culture, to an irresistibly absurdist orthographic tic. Oddubbite influence seems to be detectable behind its frequent conflation with the 🅿 emoji — an embodiment of the aforementioned particle /pb/ (Horowitz’s ‘compound plosive’), mapped to Zone 7 by Professor Stillwell, and — not insignificantly — kindling a current that can retrospectively be understood as pushing the cultural memeplex towards an invocation of Katak, a harbinger of base-material vulcanism, continental subsidence, and catastrophic destruction. Perhaps most recently, the 🅱 emoji has been linked to a synthetic mixture of HFCS-42, 4-Methylimidazole, phosphoric acid, sugar, caffeine, and citric acid popularly known as ‘Pepsi’.

“The thesis that Milton’s amanuenses were somehow partaking of that infernal beverage has been considered by the research team here at MVU”, states Noon, “but we’re not entirely sure how they would have procured the drink or even something similar to it in the seventeenth century given the synthetic ingredients it contains. We are currently conducting more research in cooperation with a literary speleographer at Oxford University who has recently proposed a re-reading of the poem through the notion of the alchemical archeus, which is suprisingly consistent with the implications of the anthroposchematic temporal bias hypothesis. He has quite convincingly framed Paradise Lost as a cosmogony founded on metaphysical dyspepsia in which Satan figures as an agent of teleoplexic Pepsi-Chaos incursion, supported by an analysis of historical, political and economic events leading up to the invention of the black, carbonated drink. And of course, the position of Oddubb in the hydrocycle as a deity of ‘steaming swamps‘ (the likeness to the meme of ‘🅱ubbling 🅱epsi’ didn’t escape our notice) is incredibly suggestive.”

Noon’s team has approached PepsiCo for comment. Officially, the corporation refused to make a statement concerning what they referred to in their correspondence as a “nonsensical prank”, however, MVU administration was contacted only last week by someone claiming to be a past employee of the Arnell Group, the now defunct company behind Pepsi’s rebranding efforts in 2009. The email contained a copy of internal correspondence dating from 2007 that espouses a philosophy of “intensive inception” mobilising what are referred to as “plot holes and channels looping the future into the past” for the purpose of “generat[ing] unprecedented innovative leaps in brand contagion and proliferation” — along with a (zygonovically loaded) 27-page design brief from 2008, now well known to the advertising community as the Breathtaking dossier.

Existing publications of the poem are currently being assessed for the need for redaction following the discovery of the 🅱 graphology. The possibility of a revised edition of Paradise Lost hinges on discussions surrounding Milton’s blindness and whether or not the reason for the glyphic re-presentation of the phonemes is to be located in the poet’s own dictation, which presented his amanuensis with a problem she resolved with the new glyph, or whether it was a caprice — or something even more insidious — on the part of the amanuensis herself. When challenged with the claim made recently by one of her institutional detractors that the transcription anomaly in the Fitzbarrow manuscript is an error or simply a coincidence, Noon replied: “Oh it’s very much a coincidence … that’s why we are taking it so seriously.”

The new manuscript fragment will be on display in the MVU public archives from July this year.  va-tombstone1-03