part 7 – cosmic dys𝔭𝔢𝔭𝔰𝔦a & divine excrement: or, an essay unveiling the teleoplexic identity of miltonic chaos, capitalist nigredo and alchemical pepsi cola™

Yesterday: ‘Sugar & Zero, Milton & Böhme: the Dyspeptic Abyss of Theogony’

THE FINAL DAY. 𝕯𝖊𝖘𝖈𝖊𝖓𝖘𝖚𝖘 𝖆𝖉 𝕴𝖓𝖋𝖊𝖗𝖔𝖘: or, My Belly Consumed My Head


MILTONgify

Just as fizzing water seeps from the earth, the chthonic and chaomantic black sun (sol niger) of the Pepsi Alph dwells within the ‘mantle’ of Creation, waiting to extravasate and haemorrhage the world with sugary, hydraulic nigredo. As total primordiality, it dwells deep within all existences: even, as we have seen, God himself. As Jung writes, “[t]artar settles on the bottom of the vessel, which in the language of the alchemists means: in the underworld, Tartarus”.[note]Carl Gustav Jung, The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious, (Princeton University Press, 1981), 301.[/note] And certainly, we can trace the genetic history of Pepsi even further back into greater entanglement with Paradise Lost via the deep link between carbonation and the infernal abysm of Hell. That is, in one final synchronicity, we shall document how Pepsi’s genetic history can be traced all the way back to Hell itself (in its actual, real world instantiation).

grotto del cani

Van Helmont had noticed that ‘gas sylvestre’ was liable not only to collect within breweries and wine cellars but also within certain caves. In this, he was most likely referring to the infamous Cave of Dogs (‘Grotto del Cani’) near Naples. Athanasius Kircher had previously documented the effect of an unknown gas (CO2) in the cave. Pooling at the bottom, it would cause dogs to asphyxiate (whence the cave draws its name), whereas their human counterparts (with orthograde posture safely positioning their mouths above the layer of pooled CO2) would survive. This phenomenon had been documented since the ancients, and was suitably well-known. Furthermore, it was van Helmont who identified this canine-killing substance as ‘gas sylvestre’ via his discovery of CO2. Of occult import is the fact that the very same noxious carbon dioxide that collects in the Cave of Dogs was also famed for emanating — in large quantities — from the neighbouring lake, the Lago d’Averno (‘Lake Avernus’). Both are located within the Solfatara region (which gains its name from the Italian word for ‘sulphur’), itself part of the Phlegraean Fields (i.e. ‘burning fields’), famous throughout Italian literature for being the geographical location of the entrance to Hell. Both Dante and Virgil locate Hell’s entrance within the fuming Lake Avernus; and the Romans, similarly, thought it to be within the craters of the Solfatara. Crucially, the entire reason for choosing this area for the geolocation of Hell’s gate was entirely down to the area’s noxious carbon emissions. The Solfatara’s carbonic gas fumes feature prominently in the literature, with Virgil famously alluding to the idea that birds could not fly over the area without suffocating.[note]Cf. Salomon Kroonenberg, Why Hell Stinks of Sulfur: Mythology and the Geology of the Underworld (Reaktion Books, 2013).[/note] In suitable fashion, a naturally carbonated spring named ‘Pisciarelli’ was located nearby — the source of medicinal fizzy water long thought to cure chronic diarrhoea. (Since balneology really takes off in Ancient Rome, these springs would have been amongst the first used for their restorative properties: thus, it would have certainly been one the places where the ancient collocation of fizz and digestion was birthed.)

The history of carbon dioxide — and thus Pepsi — begins in the entrance to Tartarus: curiosity concerning the emanations in this hellish cave is what originally alerted thinkers to the properties of carbonic gas. We thus see how this ancient Roman entrance to Hell’s domain originally inspired the study of carbonation by alerting early modern savants to the presence of gases separate from air, which — in turn — led to van Helmont’s discovery of carbon dioxide… and the rest, as we know, is history. Thus, finally, we see how fear amongst the Ancients of Hell’s lethal fumarole emissions transformed, over the long centuries, into the 19th-century invention of Pepsi Cola. Bubbling down through Virgil, Dante, Kircher, Paracelsus, van Helmont, Priestley, Schweppe, and Bradham, the toxic carbon fumes of Tartarus were eventually converted into the carbonated tartar we line our guts with daily, on a global scale.

BRAD’S DRINK = 190 = TARTARUS

DORE LAKE AVERNUS
ABANDON ALL HOPE YE WHO ENTER HERE. Doré’s illustration of Lake Avernus, and the Entrance to Tartarus/Hell.

Pepsi, quite simply, was forged in Hell.[note]And, like Hell (as the spatialisation of revolt), Pepsi marks the tendency for dark materials to switch into self-selection, outstripping the centralised planning that originally created them.[/note] Appropriately, Hell is — in the Kabbalistic tradition[note]PEPSI = 110 = KABBALAH [/note] — also referred to as ‘Tehom’ (meaning ‘the depths’), which, in turn, also refers to the surging liquid ‘Deep’ or ‘Abyss’ prior to Genesis’s creation: a carbonic black Tehom[note]PEPSI ABYSM = 215 = TIME TRAVEL [/note] — as prima materia — is the tartareous Deep, effervescing beneath and within creation. (Notably, ‘Tehom’ is also cognate with ‘Tiamat’.[note]”Before the gods there was only Tiamat, the bitter water, her companion Apsu, the sweet water, who is also Abzu (the abyss), and “that return to the womb” — or matrix-implex — her Mummu.” Cf. https://web.archive.org/web/20170622210905/http://www.ccru.net/archive/splitsecond.htm[/note]) Indeed, in the physico-theological understanding of the 17th century, this ‘Tehom’ (or Hypogene Abyss of Chaos) was believed to still reside deep within the Earth’s crust: and the existence of this tellurian chaos ocean was employed, accordingly, as the causal explanation for the Noachic Flood. Thomas Burnet documented how this indwelling, chthonic ‘Tehom’ (as tellurian chaos ocean) had broken forth, from the “fountains of the deep”: literally causing the world to fizz with abyssal liquid. We note that “fountain” originally comes from “font”: denoting any fizzy mineral water spring (from which we get the term ‘soda fountain’). And, as we have seen, people have, since the Ancients, considered the depths of Hell to be the source of plutonic carbonation and infernal fizz. Certainly, Burnet’s description of this “Tehom Rabbah” (‘Great Deep’)[note]TEHOM RABBAH = 192 = UTTUNUL [/note] enforces this. The contemporary understanding of diluvial geology proposed that the planet literally effervesced at the Flood: that it was broken down into constituent elements, in a mix of Air and Water (with Solids sinking to the bottom). Pepsi surged from the depths, as templex prima materia. And, as Paradise Lost details, it could well happen again.

tehompepsimercuaryexploding

Troublingly, however, Paradise Lost — as we have been proposing in this essay — also allows for this relapse to occur outside of divine decree. Because of Milton’s materialist voluntarism, synecdochal revolt — ontological dyspepsia — is always possible: indeed, this is exactly how Satan’s coup was able to happen. A part loops back into itself, and begins to simulate or feign autonomy. As Milton implies, all terrestrial nature could collapse. He writes that, had the war in heaven ensued,

                               nor only Paradise,
In this commotion, but the starry cope
Of heaven perhaps, or all the elements
At least had gone to wreck, disturbed and torn [PL; iv.991-4]

It is the clean hyaline — “the starry cope / Of heaven” — whose task, as a cosmic integument, is to immunise the cosmos against the “loud misrule of Chaos”, lest “extremes / Contiguous might distemper the whole frame” [PL; vii.271-4]. Yet, despite this, had “not soon / the Eternal” repressed this ontic rebellion, the hyaline would have denatured and the whole of nature lapsed into auto-immunity, returning to dyspepsia and chaos [PL; iv.992-3]. Walter Charelton had written of the need for “continuall renovation and reparation” of all creaturely existences, for fear that “the whole Fabrick” be destroyed by chaotic “decayes”.[note]Walter Charleton, Natural History of Nutrition, Life, and Voluntary Motion, Containing all the New Discoveries of Anatomist’s and Most Probable Opinions of Physicians, concerning the Oeconomie of Human Nature: Methodically Delivered in Exercitations Physico-Anatomical, (London, 1659), 91.[/note] In Milton’s Comus, the eponymous character delineates the basal superfluity of nature, explicating the possibility of an overly creative abortion in her universal womb:

[She] would be quite surcharged with her own weight,
And strangled with her waste fertility;
The earth cumbered, and winged air darked with plumes,
The herds would over-multitude their lords,
The sea o’erfraught would swell, and the unsought diamonds
Would so emblaze the forehead of the deep [ll.727-32]

Insubordinate ontological excess. Meltdown. Base matter rebellion. Internal insurrection. We note the use of the language of overflowing and overabundance: of a plenitude gone rotten. Increatum is, again, “the womb of nature and perhaps her grave” [PL; ii.911]. Nature as basilisk. By “unsought diamonds”, perhaps, Milton was imagining the tartrate crystals that are produced as superfluities of fermentation.

tartratecrystal2

In this light, Satan — again — is revealed as merely a symptom or vector of Chaos’s liquefaction of reality (a vector later taken up, after being passed on by Satan to Capital, by the chemical known as Pepsi-Cola). Satan is a conduit for producing localised fonts of Tehom relapse. He expedites the return of the tartar that lies as potential within all materials. Pandæmonium is a perfect example: Satan opens a “spacious wound” in the hill, “scumm[ing] the bullion dross” causing “a fabric huge” to rise “like an exhalation” (a flatulence) out of the earth [PL; i.689, 710, 704, 711]. His demonic “crew” recapitulate the original excrementation of Creation’s “infernal dregs”, dragging pandemonium into the world, and bringing yet more excess into Creation. (Unsurprisingly, the diabolical architecture is described as arising from a “womb” — of “metallic ore” and “sulfur” [PL; i.673-4].) Even more striking is Satan’s provocation of the very Empyrean to belch weaponised chaos out of the ground in the form of the Satanic war-machines. Before pulling his cannons out of the ground, the Prince of Pandæmonium describes his very own “dark materials” before the act:

Which of us who beholds the bright surface
Of this etherous mould whereon we stand,
This continent of spacious heav’n, adorned,
With plant, fruit, flower ambrosial, gems and gold,
Whose eye so superficially surveys
These things, as not to mind from whence they grow
Deep underground, materials dark and crud,
Of spirituous and fiery spume, […]
These in their dark nativity the deep
Shall yield to us, pregnant with infernal flame [PL; vi.472-85]

Here, the very spinal cord of the verse encrypts the return to chaotic depths: both logically and on the page itself, a descensus ad inferos — a katabasis into the womb of chaos — is presented. The abyssal and dyspeptic chaos, in its “dark nativity”, is the unruly ground of all that walks the “bright surface” which the “eye so superficially surveys”. The surface is easily peeled away and discarded: the depth “yields to us” chaotic forms abundant. It is further stressed that these materials are even “as not to mind” in order to emphasise their ability to escape, to flood around, mental structures and intelligibility. This matter isn’t just ontologically distal from thought, it is against conceptual thought. Satan is an artist of Chaos, but also therefore only its agent and its puppet. He draws the fizziness of Pepsi-Tehom to the surface. Indeed, van Helmont himself had written that the alchemist can draw “a wild and pernicious Gas [aka Chaos] out of coals, Stygian waters and fusions of minerals”.[note]Georgiana D. Hedesam, An Alchemical Quest for Universal Knowledge: The ‘Christian Philosophy’ of Jan Baptist van Helmont (1567-1644), (Routledge), 133.[/note] In his act of infernal chemical ingenuity, Satan’s yielding of weaponised Chaos is related to daemonic invention (like that of the poet):

The invention all admired, and each, how he
The inventor missed, so easy it seemed once found,
Which yet unfound most would have thought
Impossible. [PL; vi.498-500]

Invention (poetic, industrial, technocommerical, chaomantic) straightforwardly just is the paradox of auto-production: because of its inherently circular causality, it only makes sense retrospectively and is never predictable prospectively. Simultaneously anastrophe and catastrophe, it drags previous impossibilities into being. Tearing the consistency of reality as it smears the real across itself. This hellish alchemical “invention” results in Satan’s “devilish machinations” [PL; vi.504], when (upon the “[c]oncot[ion]” of “[t]he originals of nature”) the entrails of the heavens belch forth (like “thundring Ætna”) demonic anal cannons:

                 in a moment up they turned
Wide the celestial soil, and saw beneath
The originals of nature in their crude
Conception; sulphurous and nitrous foam
They found, they mingled, and with subtle art,
Concoted and adjusted they reduced
To blackest grain, and into store convey:
Part hidden veins digged up (nor hath this earth
Entrails unlike) of mineral and stone, [PL; vi.509-17]

Paracelsians often imagined hypogene actions (the actions of mineral and stone) as the production of a geocosmic archeus. Duchesne, for example, envisioned metals concocted by “heate, by force wherefore mettales congealed in the bowels of the earth are diposed [and] digested”.[note]A.G. Debus, The French Paracelsians: The Chemical Challenge to Medical and Scientific Tradition in Early Modern France, (Cambridge University Press, 1991), 34.[/note] Satan is reactivating the shit, the dyspepsia, of the geontic coelom. His infernal artillery is the regurgitation and recrudescence of God’s uncontrollable, fallopian, pepsoidal chaos. Pulling up these dark materials, he harnesses the excessiveness of matter that God had to excrete, utilising its attendant autonomy from divine forms, therefore turning “waste fertility” to “devilish machinations”. He increases the resistance of this materia to incorporation back into the homeostatic divine-archeus-system. This is the job that Satan fulfils throughout the poem: a force of cosmic deregulation, he creates problems for digestive bureaucracy / God-as-culinary-homeostat. A vector of Chaomantic Libertarianism, Satan is the peptic ulcer in the archeus of Milton’s universe.

In Comus, Milton had envisioned a similar motif of chaotic voluntarist revolution. As previously quoted, Milton describes — in a curious acephalic image — an overripe geocosm auto-producing a superfluous accretion of “unsought” diamonds that proceed to “emblaze the forehead of the deep” [ll.731-2]. Milton goes on to describe these chthonic, chaomantic stars becoming “so bestud” with subsidiary glimmer

                                         that they below
Would grow inured to light, and come at last
To gaze upon the sun with shameless brows [ll.743-5]

The coccyx of the cosmos erupts through the cranium. Indeed, this is the perfect exemplar of synecdochal revolt. Here, the self-fed “waste fertility” of a subterraneous pseudo-star comes to overflow its role as a ‘Part’ and thus, in runaway auto-intensification, comes directly to compete with the ‘Whole’: this sol niger — as malignant telluric beam — comes to “gaze upon the [original] sun with shameless brows”. Through its crushing superfluity, the blinding darkness of this Pepsi-Sun — like Milton’s own blindness — blots out the true, and primary, lightsource of the world. The idea of Tehom, “the deep”, overthrowing true luminosity with its own excessive “darkness visible” finds parallels with Milton’s own delineation of aggressive blindness. The process of Satanic revolt (in which the Part comes to “gaze upon” the Whole) is not unnatural, quite the opposite: it the natural state of all matter. It is Means-Ends subversion. Fed on itself and looped back into its own dyspeptic pregnancy, hylomorphism becomes rotten, cancerous, and apoptotic. Moreover, it is the revocation of all top-down rule: the insuperable capacity for internal revolt and usurpation, unbeholden to any organisation, be it cosmic, organic, intellectual or political. As a form of solar self-decapitation from below, it resembles the image of the ‘belly revolting against the head’, which, in Milton’s time, had become a prime metaphor for the regicide and revolution. This is to be expected, what with the dissolution of Parliament being referred to as the ‘Purge’ and the replacement skeleton-Parliament dubbed the ‘Rump’.  The Body Politic had become autoacephalic: God and King, as the head, had been decapitated by the rest of the body (quite literally in King Charles’ beheading) — the rebellious parliament or the deregulatory tartar of God’s own scatological ex deo creation. This autoacephalica and self-cannibalisation was perfectly captured in numerous contemporary illustrations and reimaginings of Aesop’s autoanthropophagic “Fable of the Belly and the Members”:

fable of the belly and the parts
Ogilby, J. ‘Sculpture 47’ in, The Fables of Æsop, Paraphras’d in Verse, Adorn’d with Sculpture, and Illustrated with Annotations, (London, 1668), 47th Fable.

Here we witness the fear of auto-production encapsulated. It is a role now fulfilled by capital rather than any human political agitation: for, by operating primarily as a form of metynomic usurpation (whereby mere means swell, through self-selection, into ends-in-themselves), it comes to be symbolised by Pepsi (as avatar for the superstimuli revolt of the belly against the head, or desire against norms). Pepsi retrojects itself as the true subject of history: glucose hunger replaces human goals. And so, we come to full appreciation of the templex connection between Pepsi and Chaos: Miltonic Chaos is about Pepsi because Miltonic Chaos becomes real as Pepsi. As Pepsi tends towards producing itself, and only itself, the entire universe is beholden to terminal Dyspepsia, and we envision Burnet’s account of the flood returning once more. The Earth will burst forth with the black tartar of nigredo: Tehom and Tiamat return ascendant. Creation is not becoming more crystalline, but more faecal and tartareous. What, then, is the end-point of this effervescing of existence, this ontological skotison? As one of the brothers explains in Comus:

               But evil on itself shall back recoil,
And mix no more with goodness, when at last
Gathered like scum, and settled to itself
It shall be in eternal restless change
Self-fed, and self-consum’d, if this fail,
The pillared firmament is rottenness
And earth’s base built on stubble. [ll.592-8]

If this is not a statement of demonic rebellion as cybernetic positive feedback, then it is hard to say quite what else it could be. Circling into itself, as evil “on itself shall back recoil”, it becomes auto-productive, “[s]elf-fed and self-consum’d”. This is Milton’s model of cybernetic take-off. Here, he truly was acting as the blind prophet of Capital’s tendency towards metonymic (demonic) revolt: Human production tends towards replacement with Pepsi production. Increasingly, we live to consume rather than consume to live. And, with stunning prophetic acuity, Milton sees that the result of all this is meltdown: return to nigredo, tartar relapse, sol niger implosion… The great Pepsi fountains of the Earth break forth, “pillared firmament is rottenness” and “earth’s base built on stubble”.

Pepsi invents itself from the future. va-tombstone1-03

 

part 4 – cosmic dys𝔭𝔢𝔭𝔰𝔦a & divine excrement: or, an essay unveiling the teleoplexic identity of miltonic chaos, capitalist nigredo and alchemical pepsi cola™

Yesterday: ‘Peristaltic Metaphysics and the Invention of Pepsi’

DAY 4. Alchemy to Chemistry: or, the Occult History of Carbonated Beverages and the Secret Origins of Pepsi Cola


Pepsi Cola was not the first fizzy drink. Neither was it the first fizzy drink to be packaged as a digestive aid. In terms of deep historical lineage, fizzy drinks emerged directly out of the alchemical and iatrochemical tradition and its obsession with the secrets of gastroenterology. Put differently, Pepsi’s occult genetic history — the story of its emergence into the world — connects straight back to the lab of van Helmont and the speculations of Paracelsus: Pepsi’s genesis is thus inextricably tangled up with the ideas that percolate through Paradise Lost’s alchemical metaphysics.

In 1767, Joseph Priestley — dissenting theologian, radical chemist and political utopian — moved into a new house in Leeds. It was next to a brewery. Chemists at the time were fervently experimenting with gases, leading, eventually, to Lavoisier’s dismissal of the phlogiston theory of combustion; the discovery of oxygen (in part also attributed to Priestley); and the postulation of chemical elements, igniting, in other words, the birth of modern chemistry. Of particular research interest at the time was a curious colourless and odourless gas that was referred to as ‘fixed air’ or ‘factitious air’. Chemists had long been interested in its strange properties: for example, if you held a flame in it, it would be extinguished, and it was known to suffocate animals. Importantly, it also notoriously collected in wineries and breweries. Taking advantage of his surroundings, the freshly-settled Priestley set to work, requesting his new neighbours’ permission to begin experiments on their premises. Heavier than air, this gas (which we now call ‘carbon dioxide’ after Lavoisier’s later identification of it) would build up above the fermentation vats (indeed, it had long proved a lethal danger as it was prone to pool in silos and cellars, asphyxiating unwitting workers). Priestley, accordingly, began attempts to extract this so-called ‘fixed air’ from above the brewery’s beer vats. Following one experiment — in which he poured water from one container to another just above the fermenting vats — the chemist noticed that the liquid had suddenly become effervescent or, as he put it, “impregnated with air”.[note]Joseph Priestley, Impregnating Water with Fixed Air; In order to communicate to it the peculiar Spirit and Virtues of Pyrmont water, and other Mineral Waters of Similar Nature (1772).[/note] Priestley, in other words, had just made the world’s first artificial fizzy drink. Soda could now be unleashed upon the world. Always a utopian, Priestley later said this was his “happiest” invention.[note]Just as they were misidentified — upon arrival — as agents of eupepsia (rather than the dyspepsia-generators they really are), soft drinks were routinely mistaken for utopian items. Before its eventual unveiling as an agent of capital’s superstimuli invasion and means-ends reversal, fizziness became symbolic of utopia. The eccentric François Marie Charles Fourier was famous, of course, for imagining that an environmentally re-engineered earth would soon begin exhibiting oceans of lemonade. One imagines the fully-capitalised earth exhibiting the opposite: surging with obsidian seas of necrotizing cola.[/note] Little did he know…

Without hesitation, Priestley immediately billed his discovery as a cure for digestive issues. (This would become part of a tradition surrounding carbonated liquids extending from Priestley forwards to Bradham and backwards to Paracelsus.) He became convinced that his new artificially-manufactured carbonated water would help to prevent scurvy — the horrendous affliction that had murdered around two million sailors between 1500 and 1800.[note]Simon Shorvon & Humphrey Hodgson, Physicians and the War (Hachette, 2016), 37.[/note] Importantly, scurvy (just before James Lind’s research demonstrated it to be caused by a deficit of vitamins, curable with citrus) was considered a digestive illness. It was thought that the disease was occasioned by the dyspeptic “putrefaction” of the sufferer’s visceral organs, arising from indigested foodstuffs rotting inside their intestines. Under the impression that the fizzy water would help alleviate this (and sensing government commendation), Priestley proposed soda drinks as a cure to scurvy in a 1772 paper addressed to the British Admiralty, entitled Impregnating Water with Fixed Air; In order to communicate to it the peculiar Spirit and Virtues of Pyrmont water, and other Mineral Waters of Similar Nature.[note]Fizzy water took the name ‘Pyrmont water’ due to a famous naturally carbonated spring in Pyrmont, Germany. Earlier in the century, scientists had demonstrated that Pyrmont’s water was fizzy due to the ‘impregnation’ of ‘fixed air’ within it.[/note] Therein, Priestley provided an appendix detailing the treatment — via administration of ‘fixed air’ beverages — of a patient with a “putrescent state of the [internal] fluids”. “Fevers of the putrid kind” are cured by “fixed air”, it was confidently reported.[note]Joseph Priestley, Impregnating Water with Fixed Air; In order to communicate to it the peculiar Spirit and Virtues of Pyrmont water, and other Mineral Waters of Similar Nature (London, 1772), 18.[/note] In agreement with this conclusion, Nathaniel Hulme (1732-1807) — an influential naval surgeon — became likewise convinced that the cause of scurvy was bad diet and insisted that imbibing “fixed air” would “prevent the putrefaction of human tissue by disease”.[note]Indeed, prior to Priestley’s invention of reliably creating soda water, the production of beverages from carbonic acids had been common. So-called “Elixir of Vitriol” was a common treatment, which was presumed to engender “fixed air” effervescence in the stomach and banish the disease. Carbonated waters were introduced as a scorbutic cure as early as 1764. The practice of administering these highly acidic drinks would likely have done more to hinder than help, and unfortunately remained in place until 1795.[/note] Subsequently, a device for producing carbonated drinks was installed on board James Cook’s HMS Resolution, and, sure enough, none of his crew suffered from scorbutic blight. In hindsight, this had more to do with Cook’s meticulous captainship and good practice; the carbonated drinks, nevertheless, were considered a great success. It was not long until a German watchmaker called Johann Jacob Schweppe (1740-1821) set up the first mass production factory for carbonated drinks in Drury Lane, and, riding on the back of contemporary medicinal wisdom, he marketed his soft drink as a cure for biliousness. From the very beginning, then, carbonated drinks were related intimately to peptic issues: it was this tradition of entwining medicinal presumptions and entrepreneurial savvy — entrenched in the 18th century by Priestley, Hulme, Schweppe, etc. — that Caleb Bradham, inventor of Pepsi, was drawing on in the 1890s when he invented his exhilarating ‘cure’ for dyspepsia.

Returning to the late 1700s, however, we see that the benefits of fizz were so highly regarded that they even briefly became the subject of military intrigue. Following the nautical success of Priestley’s “impregnated water”, “[t]he Royal Society […] thought it was the start of a medical and travel revolution”[note]Tristan Donovan, Fizz: How Soda Shook up the World (Chicago, 2013), 8.[/note], and this was instantly perceived as “vital to the strategic interest of the Royal Navy since carbonated water [was thought to remain] fresh longer [and] was useful for treating upset stomachs”.[note]Arthur Greenberg, From Alchemy to Chemistry, (Wiley, 2006), 290.[/note] It was considered a naval breakthrough. Where it had previously been a concern that France — a country filled with naturally carbonated mineral water springs — may have the edge on the Navy in this department, the Brits had suddenly upended the asymmetry. Along with Lind’s breakthroughs in vitamin deficiency, it was not long until carbonated lime juice was a regular for the navy (hence, ‘Limeys’). As Greenberg writes, “Priestley thus helped Britannia to ‘rule the waves'”. Fascinatingly, this strategic “soda-pop gap” triggered an episode of international espionage wherein a Portugese monk[note]Named Joaoa Jacinto de Magelhaens.[/note], acting in French interests as a spy within the UK, purloined a copy of Priestley’s paper and sent it back to Lavoisier. (Like any good world-changing consumer item, Pepsi — along with the internet, jet engines, and microwaves — started life as a military invention.) From this view, Pepsi’s self-assembly feeds back into itself — in a veritable bootstrapping process — as the naval prowess bequeathed by carbonation technology facilitated the furthering of the sugar trade’s global network[note]Indeed, it was precisely around this time — during the later 18th century — that sugar exploded into a household commodity, possessing the taste-buds of Europeans: the New World islands took full advantage of this and the overseas trade boomed. In England and Wales, sugar consumption increased 2000% in the 1700s.[/note], thus dragging world history further towards convergence upon the point at which sugar-addiction and fizziness merge in the invention of cola.

scurvy.jpg
Scurvy affliction / scorbutic legs.

Nevertheless, for all his genius, Priestley could not have stumbled upon the production of carbonated water if he had not been previously aware of ‘fixed air’. He could not have made his aerated waters without a prior notion of gas. And gas is, itself, a direct invention of the alchemical-archeus tradition. ‘Gas’ was first identified by none other than Jan Baptist van Helmont in his own speculations upon digestion and the various nested archaei of the natural order. “He was the first to realise that gaseous substances other than air exist”, writes Almqvist.[note]Ebbe Almqvist, History of Industrial Gases (Plenum, 2003), 3.[/note] And the first gas van Helmont discovered — thus the first gas ever properly described by science — was, appropriately, carbon dioxide. Indeed, Paracelsus had himself made some headway in this department (suggesting that there was something in the air that sustained living organisms, and by experimenting with hydrogen)[note]Paracelsus saw that when iron is dissolved in sulfuric acid “air rises and breaks out like wind”. Unbeknownst to Paraclesus this was hydrogen.[/note], yet it was van Helmont who first discovered CO2 as a “gas” separate from air.[note] “In consequence of burning coal ‘spiritus sylverstris’ comes into being. This spiritus, which was formerly unknown and cannot be kept in vessels, and cannot be converted into a visible form, I call by the new name ‘gas’.” Helmont, Ortus Medicinae, (Amsterdam, 1656). Thus, the invention of Pepsi stretches back from Bradham to Priestley and from there to van Helmont: it was exactly van Helmont’s discovery of CO2 in the 17th century that allowed for Priestley, in the 18th century, to kick-start the formation of the global soda industry in the ensuing 19th and 20th centuries. It was also as a direct consequence of van Helmont’s experimentations with CO2 and carbonated waters that Robert Boyle later was able to formulate his important ‘Boyle’s law’.[/note] Moreover, it was exactly van Helmont’s fascination with gastric process that originally led him to this discovery in the first place. Spurred on by his theory of the archeus, in which all cosmic processes are essentially digestive processes, van Helmont experimented heavily with fermentation processes. This is what first led him to notice that what he called “gas sylvestre” (carbon dioxide) was a separate substance from air. From carefully observing fermentation (which he took to be the digestive work of the universal archeus), van Helmont founded the concept of ‘gas’, coining the word at the same time. Helmont noted, moreover, that “gas sylvestre” arose in both wine cellars and breweries and in naturally-carbonated spring waters.[note]There is a direct line of experiments from here to Priestley’s work. Following van Helmont, others in the early 18th century had developed the connection between ‘fixed air’ and effervescent mineral waters: early in the century, the artificial production of ‘fixed air’ was developed via applying acid to chalk; and in 1741, William Brownrigg demonstrated the famous Pyrmont waters were “aerated” because they contain precisely this “fixed air” gas; Brownrigg had heated a bottle of spa water and, collecting the CO2, suffocated mice with it. Around 1757, Joseph Black produced the first systematic investigation of CO2; in 1770, Torben Bergman started trying to document the composition of spring waters in detail. No-one, until Priestley, however, had managed to reliably create drinkable fizziness (although a Frenchman named Gabriel Venel had attempted to duplicate the Selters water, it had developed a foul taste in the process). Priestley produced an apparatus for producing this water; soon after, by 1781, carbonated water was able to be produced on a large scale.[/note] As Pagel writes, “gas [became] central to his naturalist philosophy and cosmosophy”.[note]Walter Pagel, Joan Baptista Van Helmont: Reformer of Science and Medicine (CUP, 2002), 61.[/note] Finally, van Helmont first demonstrated that CO2 was given off when acid was poured on carbonates: it is from here that ‘soda water’ gets its name, because cooking soda was a commonly used carbonate for this process.

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Aside from providing the awareness of gases that allowed Priestley and others to produce soda water, the very idea that carbonated liquids are good for digestion can be traced directly back to the iatrochemists. Naturally, both van Helmont and his mentor Paracelsus were incredibly interested in carbonated mineral waters arising from spas and springs. Paracelsus, who was born the year after Columbus first voyaged to the American continent (bringing with him the sugarcane seedlings that would eventually blossom into the globally enveloping market turbulence of the Sugar Trade)[note]And thus installing the material conditions of worldwide Pepsi-production.[/note], is known as the “father of balneology” for his pioneering medical interest in carbonated spring waters (balneology, of course, being the study of medicinal spring bathing and the therapeutic effects of their waters).[note]H Schadewaldt, ‘Paracelsus and Balneology’, in Schweiz Rundsch Med Prax., 29:83 (1994), 371-6.[/note] Since antiquity, civilizations have been mesmerised by fizzy water bubbling out of the earth. Soda water has long been known as ‘Seltzer water’ because of the famous Selterswasser springs in Selters, Netherlands, which have been documented since 771 AD. Further back, since at least Hippocrates, fizzy spa water had been associated with eupepsia and good health. Hannibal famously refreshed himself with fizzing water from Vergeze on his way to sack Rome in 218 BC. Medieval alchemists prescribed effervesced spring waters to promote good digestion. Soon, after the 14th century, an international trade for bottled spa water arose. Accordingly, across Europe, natural springs and baths slowly became healing centres: including, for example, the famous Pyrmont mineral springs in Germany or the town of Spa in Belgium. Perrier Soda Water, indeed, is still bottled from a naturally occurring spring. Nevertheless, it was Paracelsus who is said to have initiated the concerted study of the properties of these fizzy springs.

In the summer of 1535 he travelled the spa town of Bad Pfafers, from which he wrote his influential Baderbuchlin (which we know John Dee read eagerly).[note]John Dee’s annotations on Paracelsus’s Baderbuchlin.baderbuchlinwithjohndeesannotations[/note] Always obsessed with digestion, Paracelsus was quick to focus discussion upon the supposedly eupeptic properties of the water. He praised carbonated spring water as “driv[ing] away gout, and mak[ing] the stomach as strong in digestion as that of a bird that digests tartar and iron”.[note]Walter Pagel, Paracelsus: An Introduction to Philosophical Medicine in the Era of the Renaissance (Karger, 1982), 26.[/note] Imagining the ‘occult’ powers of the earth’s chthonic healing laboratories — fizzing forth at the surface in this natural medicine — Paracelsus became enthused: he attempted to artificially recreate the fizziness, but met with no success. It was, as we have seen, only with his apprentice, van Helmont, that this effervescence first became the subject of reverse engineering, thus opening the pathway to the industrial and globalised production of soft drinks. Speculating even that the acidity of the spa waters held some occult connection with gastric acid, Paracelsus and van Helmont enthusiastically opined that carbonated waters were better than almost any other medicines. Bolstering an enduring fascination with the fizziness that seeps from the planet’s chthonic depths — stretching back to Hippocrates, and becoming more popular throughout the Middle Ages — the iatrochemical tradition helped to fully entrench the connection between fizz and eupepsia in the public consciousness.

 

Tomorrow: ‘🅱🅰🆂🅸🅻🅸🆂🅺: Menstrual Chaotics and God’s Ectopic Pregnancy’

 

part 2 – cosmic dys𝔭𝔢𝔭𝔰𝔦a & divine excrement: or, an essay unveiling the teleoplexic identity of miltonic chaos, capitalist nigredo and alchemical pepsi cola™

Yesterday: ‘The Pepsoidal Fall: Pepsi & Teleoplexy’

DAY 2. Crystal Pepsi / Crystal Hyaline: or, How to See with your Gut


Pepsi invents itself from the future. The retrochronic force of these convergences-effects are registered as ripples — surface currents — in the poesy of a blind, seventeenth-century Christian prophet. Sing, sugar-infused Muse!

In the early 1990s PepsiCo introduced a colourless form of its now infamous soft drink, which sold under the name Crystal Pepsi. Following from a contemporary marketing fad geared towards selling transparent or colourless editions of familiar products (initiated by Ivory soap), the proviso was that transparency would evoke in consumers positive notions of ‘cleanness’ or ‘clarity’. Crystal Pepsi, however, was a market failure.[note]T. Triplett, ‘Consumers Show Little Taste for Clear Beverages’, in Marketing News, vol.28, no.11, (1994), 1-2.[/note] (The relentless juggernaut of nostalgia has recently resurrected it from limbo, however.) It seems, then, that in our fallen (capitalised) state we actually desire tartareous muck over any vitreous and crystalline elixir. Indeed, advertisers have since retroactively divined that Crystal Pepsi was a failure because consumers were disturbed by the unseemly conjunction of pellucid, heavenly aesthetics with saccharine, voluptuous taste.[note]L.L. Garber Jr. & E.M. Hyatt, ‘Color as a Tool for Visual Persuasion’, in Visual Persuasion. eds. R. Batra & L. Scott (Lawrence Erlbaum, 2000)[/note] Pepsi suits its blackness irrepressibly: as the cheerleader for Capital’s forces of terrestrial obscurity and liquidation, it inevitably and necessarily announces itself ocularly with the skotison of effervescing, liquid blackness.[note]Skotison, originally a rhetorical term, is an invocation and imperative towards darkening. To translate literally, skotison means “darken it!”.[/note] Ontological blackening demands the aesthetics to match: it seems, at the very least, that we subconsciously expect this to be the case (and, insofar as the crystalline marketing experiment therefore failed, our aesthetic-gastric sensibilities tend towards making this a reality). We get the blackness we desire.[note]In this sense, Crystal Pepsi was predestined to fail: accordingly, a ‘suprapepsarian’ reading of consumer ontology and market soteriology invites itself.[/note] The heavenly, vitreous Crystal Pepsi rebounds from our fallen tastebuds: we expect tartar to taste accordingly. Our gullets — like our sinful wills — clamour for nigredo rather than albedo. The Crystal was just too heavenly, too painfully pre-lapsarian. Indeed, the connection of ‘crystal’ with pre-lapsarian perspicuity is — long prior to the modern machinations of PepsiCo marketing psychomancy — a venerable aesthetic collocation. (PepsiCo was only trying to retrospectively capitalise on this: a failed trick to sell post-lapsarian tar as pre-lapsarian philtre.) From Milton’s Paradise Lost:

Witness this new-made world, another Heaven
From Heaven-gate not far, founded in view
Of the clear hyaline, the glassy sea. [PL; vii.617-9]

Here Milton describes the freshly created world by comparing it to the “clear” and “glassy” spheres of outer heaven, as depicted in pre-Copernican and Biblical cosmology. Our “pendant” planet reflects the highest cosmic realms in their shared crystal appearance: the Earth is “founded in view” of these glassy spheres, and they resonate together — in crystalloid harmony — in their new-made cosmic clarity. Specifically, the “hyaline”[note]A nominalized adjective, denoting crystallific nature. See below for more.[/note] described here denotes the “waters above the Firmament” of Genesis 1:6-7.

crystal pepsi 2016

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Biblical cosmogony pictures a watery creation whereby God initiates a world-generating and oceanic separation between an originary supernal sea (the “hyaline”) and the derivative sublunary spheres (our cosmos).[note]“And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters” & “And God made the firmament, and divded the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.”[/note] This hydraulic cosmogony serves to individuate the creation via God’s act of filtration, separating ‘above’ from ‘below’, but it also serves to retain an analogical (placental) connection between these two separated realms (exploiting the fact that they are made from the same, pellucid, medium). This is poetically instanced by the symbolic resonance between what Milton, lines later, calls the “nether ocean” here on Earth, and the original “crystalline ocean” that circumscribes (“circumfus’d”) the entire cosmos [PL; vii.624, vii.271]. The cosmos is separate from (in a derivative sense) but also contained by this thalassal ur-ocean (much as the ‘individual I’ stands in relation to the ‘absolute I’). As a “bright sea” of “jasper” and “liquid pearl” above the outer firmament [PL; iii.484], this cosmic crystal-ball therefore englobes the created universe at the outer limit of its nine concentric spheres, and, in line with Genesis, it is through this supernal sea that Milton’s God is witnessed as having precipitated the universe with “waters beneath from those above dividing” [PL; vii.261-75]. It is through the establishment of this individuating outer boundary, or limit, that the ordered cosmos is separated from the surrounding medium of Chaos: the establishment of this “hyaline” represents the blastulation of the universe.[note]blastulation[/note] Milton describes how God “as with a mantle did invest / The rising world of water dark and deep, / Won from the void and formless infinite”: he provides it with a protective skin, a form-suffusing “mantle”. As such, through wrapping the entire created universe in a “clear” liquid sack, this “crystalline ocean” becomes purposed with protecting the cosmos from the “loud misrule” of the Chaos that lies just beyond it [PL; vii.269, vii.271].[note]Chaos is, thus, analogical to the ‘energetic excess’ that Freud describes as facilitating the epithelial individuation of the originary vesicle, in his account of metapsychological abiogenesis, in Beyond the Pleasure Principle (Penguin, 2003).[/note] It is therefore a prophylaxis against an external chaoticism, and — as such — a spheroid cosmic immune system and metaphysical life support.[note]Cf. Peter Sloterdijk, Globes: Macrospherology, Volume II: Spheres (Semiotexte, 2014).[/note] A crystallic womb. Certainly, pre-Copernican cosmology is precisely a cosmology of ‘immuno-containment’, and containment takes place across similar mediums (containment implies infinite divisibility); thus, to stress the ‘containment’ of the sublunary within the “hyaline”, as Milton does, is to impart some of the latter’s “crystalline” perfection to our own world. In other words, through its vitreous dialysis, this primum mobile acts as a vesicle purposed with separating Creation from Chaos: the happy harmony of this amniotic encasement — a placental harmony, therefore, between sublunary fundament and crystalline firmament and achieved through the shared medium of crystal perspicuity — announces the pre-lapsarian stability of Paradise Lost’s “new-made world”. Nonetheless: just as there was something wrong at the heart of the Crystal Pepsi venture, predestining it to fall, so too is there a blackening necrosis within this pellucid womb of Milton’s fictional cosmos.

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We do not live in a “new-made world” or “another heaven” — and neither did Milton. “The world wears, as it grows”, and crystal turns to cataract, water to pepsi, albedo to nigredo. Indeed, Milton lived in a thoroughly fallen universe: one of gargantuan political, theological, and philosophical upheaval. Witnessing the only military coup d’état in English history, residing in a London under siege, experiencing the divine trauma of regicide, Milton would have likewise passed among not only Arminians and Calvinists, but also Baptists, Diggers, Behmenists, Socinians, Fifth Monarchists, Quakers, Muggletonians, and Levellers. These groups represent the anomalocaris, the oppabinia, and the hallucigenia of Protestant cladistics. It was an intellectual historical explosion of tumultuous size. Certainly, legislative events like the ‘1650 Act against Atheistical, Blasphemous & Excreable Opinion’ evidence this: a response to sectarianism and intestine strife that — unlike any cosmo-hyaline immune system — arise as reactionary rather than prophylactic. The rot was already inside. Madness ensued. In 1656, James Nayler rode into Bristol on an ass attempting to replay Jesus’s arrival in Jerusalem; men like John Pordage — believing themselves daily in “visible communion with angels” — conversed with those like Thomas Tany, who was convinced that he had found cherubs and demons living inside of “vegetables”; and men like Abiezer Coppe, gripped by the conviction that seraphim walked amongst us, inspired sexual radicalism and licentiousness among his admirers. Indeed, the so-called Ranters — with whom Coppe was affiliated — promoted a proto-Sadean and proto-anarchist vision of a sacral sexuality that sought to deify the individual through a nihilistic vision of the unrelenting omnipotence of sovereign selfhood and summit experience. Perceiving all law and morality as limits to freedom, they sought to emulate the ultimate freedom of omnipotent divinity by stripping away from themselves all such legalistic limits to their behavior: nevertheless, they were wise enough to prophesy that doing this successfully would also be a form of self-annihilation (because all personal identity and subjectivity is inextricably couched in normative understanding). They indulged in the so-called antinomian heresy, believing that one could literally become God through the breakdown of all moral structure and limitation: henosis with the divine was achieved not through subservience but, rather, through emulating His crushing omnipotent freedom, transcending all suppressive notions of ‘Good’ and ‘Evil’.[note]As Cohn has identified in The Pursuit of Millenium (OUP, 1970), they were thus a continuation of the late-medieval Brethren of the Free Spirit. Pettman, in After the Orgy (SUNY, 2012), has recently concatenated these earlier upswells of rapturous rupture into a lineage stretching down towards Bataille and Y2K apocalypticism.[/note] A kind of sacral and divine libertinage. This led to orgiastic worship, outrageous voluptuosity, and public nudity. Milton himself was only a few steps removed from such ideologies: he was close to Roger Williams, a proponent of radical toleration, who was, in turn, affiliated with Anne Hutchinson, the centre of a famous antinomian controversy. Put simply, Milton moved through heterodox[note]J. Mueller, ‘Milton on Heresy’, in Milton and Heresy, ed. S.B. Dobranski & J.P. Rumrich (CUP, 1998), 21-38.[/note] and revolutionary times and idea-formations; his own cosmos was by no means perspicuous or “hyaline”.[note]Against the servile, genuflecting readings emanating from the Milton constructed by C.S. Lewis and his followers (the ‘neo-Christians’, as Empson called them, and their ‘invented Milton’, a Milton cleansed of any doctrinal aberrations and radical heterodoxies), we promote — to the point of remedial ‘invention’ — the possibility of a heretical Milton. We know, indeed, that Milton was very much aware of the Greek root of haîresis: which he deems not “of evil note, meaning only the choise […] of any opinion good or bad in religion or any other learning” [A Treatise of Civil Power in Ecclesiastical Causes, vol.vi of The Works of John Milton, ed. F.A. Patterson (Columbia University Press, 1931), 11]. Following this justification, he would variously defend the idea of the free-thinking individual: from the seraph Abdiel (who stands alone, in radical free conscience, as arbiter against Satan’s actions) to Galileo (lionized as “prisoner to the Inquisition [for] thinking […] otherwise then the [orthodox] thought”) [Areopagitica, in vol.iv of Ibid., 330.].[/note]

gutta serena
A. Paré, ‘The Figure of the Eye’, The Works of That Famous Chirugion Ambrsoe Parey: Translated out of Latine and compared with the French. by Tho. Johnson, (London, 1649), 143.

“Hyaline” itself is an intriguing word. It is Milton’s transliteration from Greek, appearing to be the first use of the word as such in English (in prior print it appears, notably, only in the dictionary written by Milton’s nephew, Edward Phillips[note]Edward Phillips, The New World of English Worlds, or, a General Dictionary (London, 1658)[/note], before later appearing in Blount’s 1661 revision of Glossographia.[note]J. Blount, Glossographia; or, a Dictionary Interpreting the Hard Words of Whatsoever Language, Now Used in our Refined English Tongue (London, 1661).[/note] Milton, in the passage quoted above, goes out of his way to inmmediately gloss the word with the phrase “glassy sea”; nevertheless, readers would have likely already inferred the word’s denotation via cognates that where in contemporary circulation. Whilst most editors only note the Greek source-word (ὑάλινος) and its appearance in the Greek bible signifying ‘glassy’ or ‘vitreous’ (it is used to describe the “thalassa hyaline”, or crystal sea, at Rev. 4:6), we also point out the connection to the cognate Greek ὑαλοειδής: which was transliterated as ‘hyaloides’ and referred, in contemporaneous medicine, to the vitreous humours of the eyeball’s lens. Certainly, ‘hyaloides’ had been circulating in English as a medical term for decades before Milton’s writing. Denoting the eye’s vitreous layer, it is significant that Milton also describes the firmament as “vitreous”: moreover, alongside the “vitreous” humour, the eye was also said to contain “crystalline” and “aqueous” humours, which, again, are all adjectives Milton grants to his firmament. Accordingly, it is no surprise that eyeballs in Paradise Lost and other works redound in the same qualities as the “hyaline” ocean above: “enamell’d eyes”[note]Lycidas (ll.139) in Milton: The Complete Shorter Poems, ed. J. Carey (Longman, 2007).[/note], tears of “crystal sluice”[PL; v.113], “liquid notes” from “the eye of the day”[note]’Sonnet I’ (ll.5) in Milton: The Complete Shorter Poems, ed. J. Carey (Longman, 2007).[/note], even “carbuncle” eyes all appear [PL; ix.1500]. Again: as the Earth’s oceans reflect the primum mobile, so too — at an even smaller scale — do our eyes: microcosm and macrocosm, in clear concord. The correspondence goes both ways, however, as cosmic bodies themselves become ocular: the sun is the “eye” of this “great world” [PL; v.171] and the stars are designated as heaven’s “eyes” [PL; v.44]. Furthermore, Jesus’s chariot is said to be “set with eyes” [PL; vi.755]. These eyes are not only described as a litany of gemstones (ὑαλοειδής/hyaloides also signifying “precious stone”), but they are also linked with the “crystal firmament” above (itself adorned with “living sapphires” [PL; iv.605]). This mineral-ocular train is, indeed, described as a “panoply” (likely referring to Argus Panoptes, the many-eyed giant of Greek mythology[note]6_4b0.jpg[/note]). Just as the planets are ‘contained’ within the life-support of the supernal realm, so too are our bodies, vouchsafed via the microcosm-macrocosm concordance of eyeball and firmament. ‘[T]here is a double firmament, one in the heavens and one in each body, and these are linked by mutual concordance’[note]Walter Pagel, Joan Baptista Van Helmont: Reformer of Science and Medicine (CUP, 2002), 99.[/note] This semantic entanglement between eyeball-strcuture and cosmos-structure is, unsurprisingly, ancient. As the Talmud, which Milton was familiar with, puts it:

This world is like a human eyeball. The white in it is like the ocean, which surrounded the whole world. The black in it is the world itself.[note]Zohar, the Book of Enlightenment, ed. Daniel Chanan Matt (Paulist, 1983), 243.[/note]

Milton, moreover, would have been aware of the influence this ancient mystical heritage exerted upon the verbiage of contemporary ophthalmic anatomy (i.e. the derivation of ‘hyaloides’ from ‘hyaline’). Engaging in “perpetual tampering with physic”[note]Edward Phillips, Life of Milton (London, 1694).[/note], Milton, for obvious reasons, will have thoroughly investigated medical material surrounding eyes. Indeed, Milton would have been specifically motivated to research the hyaloides in particular.

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“So thick a drop serene” [PL; iii.25]
The Eye’s glassiness echoes the Firmament’s glassiness: nevertheless, the vitreosity of Milton’s own eyes was, of course, famously destined to fail. Milton eventually diagnosed himself with “gutta serena”: a condition resulting, significantly, from the decomposition of the hyaloides, or, the destruction of the ‘vitreous humour’ of the eye.[note]Kerrigan, The Sacred Complex: On the Pyschogenesis of Paradise Lost (Harvard University Press, 1983), 202.[/note] “So thick a drop serene hath quenched their orbs”, he writes in the opening of Book III [PL; iii.25]. In other words, a drop of thick, liquid blackness has progressively necrotized the “crystal sluice” of Milton’s “enamell’d eyes” [PL; v.133], alike to an invading droplet of Pepsi dispersing within glass of clear water. Ocular crystal gives way to blackening tar. Thus, we turn from the microcosmic hyloides of the eyeball to the macrocosm of the hyaline firmament, and we ask: are these, larger, “orbs” also threatened by apoptotic skotison, just like Milton’s own? Like scientists peering into the miniaturized nature of the crucible, we take the poetic world-model of Milton, we reconstruct it and we experiment upon it. We ask: What if? What if a repressed tendency towards auto-productive chaos was unleashed within Milton’s firmament? What if we purposefully extravasate the subterranean Pepsi that flows beneath Milton’s fundament? What if the damn of authorial repression was removed? In an act of chronotopic extrapolation, we reconstruct the embedded metaphysical fundaments and laws of Milton’s universe in the critical crucible, and we simulate their ultimate conclusion. Even if Milton diegetically repressed the true extrapolation of his metaphysical model (i.e. that which would naturally unfurl from the nomological structure of his fictional world, his ‘chronotope’), we here reconstruct it, so as to eek out its ultimate tendency. To rebuild Milton’s world-model, and let it run, autonomous from the author’s controlling self-censure: an act of chronotopic inflammation or aggravation. ‘What if?’ Perhaps, here, the lithosphere of Milton’s Earth begins to crumble away and the Primum Mobile begins to shake — revealing something fizzing unexpectedly beneath the surface.

Deep under ground, materials dark and crude,
Of spirituous and fiery spume,
[…]
These in their dark nativity the deep
Shall yield to us, pregnant with infernal flame, [PL; vi.478-83]

blue, jelly, ball, balls, Dorset, England, UK, fall from sky, yellow, black, cloud, storm, UFO, Sighting, alien, aliens, sightings, news, world, 2012_58132958_dsc01619

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In 1645, Milton delineates the onset of his blindness in a letter to be passed to the French opthamologist François Thévenin, via Leonard Philaris. “It is ten years,” he writes,

more or less, since I noticed my sight becoming weak and growing dim, and at the same time my spleen and all my viscera burdened and shaken with flatulence.[note]John Milton, The Complete Prose Works, ed. D. Wolfe, vol.iv (Oxford University Press, 1966), 867-71.[/note]

Milton links the eye’s failing sight to the gut’s failing digestion: “flatibusqe vexari”, as he puts it in the original Latin. The ocular “vapores” occur “a cibo præsertim” he reports, meaning that they occur after eating. Indeed, the contemporaneous medical wisdom had it that the aetiology behind the denaturation of the hyaloides in gutta serena was precisely ‘ill digestion’.[note]Kerrigan, W.  The Sacred Complex: On the Pyschogenesis of Paradise Lost (Harvard University Press, 1983), 203.[/note] Ill digestion causes blindness.

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Milton frequently connects digestion with perception. Both processes arise as the subject’s integration of external modalities: they are both forms of navigating within an external world. And — identically for both — this ‘assimilation’ can proceed with more or less success. The disruption of one results in blindness; the disruption of the other results in indigestion. Failing sight is failure to behold the ocular world; failing digestion is failure to behold the culinary world. As Milton puts it: to be “exiled from light” is to be pushed to “the land of darkness”; whilst, correlatively, “nourishment” that is not properly digestion leads to “wind”. Both arise as problems of incorporation or integration with the world. As Nietzsche so wisely said, “truly, my brothers, the soul is a stomach!”. Just as the deposition of a gut wall is what individuates the organism as a self-enclosed energetic economy, we likewise observe that the later generation of transcendental categories (as a productive conceptual limit, aping the metabolic limit entrenched by the archenteron) identically provides the enclosure of finitude that marks out, and thus potentiates, the subject as an attentional economy.[note]Concepts and language provide the special envelope that marks out or delimits the reasoning subject. In Book IV, Eve experiences this by looking at her own reflection, which splits her in two, encasing her in self-representation. She recalls, “I first awak’t […] wondering where / And what I was” [iv.450-2]. Soon she finds the answer: “With unexperienced thought / As I bent down to look, just opposite, / A shape within the watery gleam appeared / Bending to look on me, I started back, / It started back, but pleased I soon returned” [iv.457-63]. An image of herself allows her to ‘see’ herself, becoming thus ‘self-conscious’, but only through means that are external to her, separating her from herself, providing reflexivity only through mediation. Conceptual language is the prime form of mediation (which finds its literalization in the watery mirror deployed here), and in that provides the protective shell (by allowing for the ‘cut’ in continuity) within which a self-conscious subject can emerge.[/note] By schismatically incising a boundary in continuity, both finitude-generating blockages potentiate the individual as individual, providing a self-infolding block that empowers selective navigation of modalities, a separation that — in turn — feeds back into itself and becomes self-deepening. Concepts are the epithelium or gut wall of the transcendental ego (language acquisition is thus transcendental enterocoely). Either way, be it in splanchnogenesis or noogenesis, organismic finitude is generated by an enfolding and englobement: either within concepts or within abdominal cavities. The sphere of the transcendental was preceded by the sphere of the coelom (the endodermal layer that folds into a gut in all organisms exhibiting the complex internal differentiation required for the dynamism of digestive metabolism). Indeed, the interface chauvinism — possibly unique to us as bilaterally symmetric animals — which presumes that CNS-derived world-interfaces (the electric vagaries attendant upon congeries of overgrown ganglia) are the only ways we locomote the world forgets this enveloping gastric ur-relation, which functionally enveloped all forms of representative interface up until very recently, when intelligence lifted off from this its functional substrate and into its own self-selecting auto-catalysis.

Milton, on the contrary, did not forget this: he was acutely sensitive to it. Indeed, he couldn’t not be — even if he wanted to — because his own viscera were so violently wracked with “flatibus”. Accordingly, deeply aware of the quasi-transcendental entanglements of the alimentary and the perceptual, Milton’s Raphael — in his angelic wisdom — pronounces that “[k]nowledge is as food” [PL; vii.126] and he explains that, just as “[w]isdom” leads to “nourishment”, “folly” leads to “wind” [PL; vii.130]. To quote in full:

But Knowledge is as food, and needs no less
Her Temperance over appetite, to know
In measure what the mind may well contain;
Oppresses else with surfeit, and soon turns
Wisdom to folly, as nourishment to wind. [PL; vii.126-30]

Such intertwining of digestive and epistemic assimilation — and “Temperance” likewise — makes perfect sense in a story centring around Eve’s consumption of the apple: which itself is, of course, as Milton stresses “intellectual food” [PL; xi.768]. So, just as folly leads to wind, the acquisition of the forbidden knowledge encrypted deep within the apple leads directly to cosmological indigestion and the depuration of the whole of nature illustrated in the Fall. The Fall affects everything, not only is the ground “Cursed… for thy sake” [PL; x.201], as Jesus proclaims to Adam (Milton here lifting the wording straight from the King James Bible). Indeed, only a couple of decades after Paradise Lost, Thomas Burnet wrote his physico-theological tract entitled Telluris Theoria Sacra (which, later on, Coleridge liked to compare to Paradise Lost), in which he recounted how the entire planet itself had been geometrically ‘perfect’ prior to the Fall — that is, entirely smooth, totally spherical — and it was the entry of Sin into the world that had thrown up the mountains, the crags, and the jagged and broken aspect of our post-lapsarian world. Such orogenic harmatiology is presaged by Milton, who writes that, upon Eve’s ingestion of knowledge,

Earth felt the wound, and Nature from her seat,
Sighing through all her works, gave signs of woe. [PL; ix.782-3]

The ingestion, via “intellectual food”, of knowledge into the world — as the ability to be Wrong or Right — gives nature itself chronic indigestion. If “[s]ighing” from “her seat” was not enough to alert us to the fact that the entire planet is farting, Milton immediately hammers the point home:

Earth trembled from her entrails, as again
In pangs, and Nature gave a second groan [PL; ix.1000-1]

Because knowledge of Good and Evil introduces the capacity for being Right or Wrong, so too does it generate the capacity for digestion or indigestion (in affairs both alimentary and epistemic). And so, again, just as “folly” leads to “wind”, the original formation of epistemic fallibility is signposted and announced by nature itself as the very planet lets off two volleys of tortured “flatibus”, trembling “from her entrails”. (An indigestion that, for Burnet, was registered in the crumpling of the earth’s skeleton into mountainous ruins.) The birth of epistemology is the birth of metabolism, for both are — essentially — the same thing. With fallibility comes excrement. In Lycidas, Milton would talk of the sheep (allegorical placeholders for the Christian flock) who, fed with theological blunders by irresponsible prelates, become “swol’n with wind” and “Rot inwardly” upon knowing wrongly, spreading “foul contagion”.[note]Lycidas, ll.125-7.[/note] Nutrition fails in expulsion, thus ignorance and falseness lead to intellectual vomiting or epistemic diarrhoea: in his antiprelatical Of Reformation, Milton thus singles out “the new-vomited Paganisme of sensuall Idolatry”.[note]John Milton, Of Reformation, in Complete Works of John Milton, ed. Don M. Wolfe (Yale University Press, 1966), 1:519-20.[/note] Epistemology, through the poet’s writing, is entrenched — again and again — as a deeply metabolic endeavour. Thus, it becomes a civic duty to keep a good diet in nutritive and noetic matters.

Accordingly, Milton-the-propagandist would promote “the right possessing” of the body in “Diet or Abstinence” in order to render “it more pliant [and] useful to the Common-wealth”.[note]John Milton, The Reason of Church Government Urged Against Prelaty, in vol.iii of The Works of John Milton, ed. F.A. Patterson (Columbia University Press, 1931), 187.[/note] Similarly, the “abatement of a full diet” can stave off unwanted sexual desires.[note]John Milton, Doctrine & Discipline of Divorce, in vol.iii of The Works of John Milton, ed. F.A. Patterson (Columbia University Press, 1931), 308-10.[/note]  It should come as no surprise, then, that nutrition and consumption has been deemed the ‘central animating metaphor’ for the discussion of knowledge-economy in Areopagitica.[note]N. Smith, ‘Areopagitica: Voicing Contexts, 1643-5′, in Politics, Poetics, and Hermeneutics in Milton’s Prose, ed. D. Loewenstein & J.G. Turner (CUP, 1990), 109.[/note] Defending “the Liberty of Unlicenc’d Printing”, this influential pamphlet is riddled with metabolic-epistemology, centred around the hooking up of eating habits to reading habits, and deploying this as a prime heuristic in Milton’s argument contra censorship. “[T]o the pure all things are pure”, Milton decrees. This applies not only to “meats and drinks”, but also — naturally — to “knowledge”.[note]Areopagitica, 308-9.[/note] Epistemology is metabolism, and metabolism epistemology. He is claiming here that assimilation or indigestion rest primarily upon the moral character of the imbiber (thus, if a readership is ‘good’ it should be able to consume morally putrescent ideas without risk of corruption). To the sinful, everything leads to “wind”; to the pious, everything is “nourishment”. As “wholesome meats to a vitiated stomack differ little or nothing from unwholesome”, so too — correlatively — do pure ideas become flatus to compromised minds. Because the opposite therefore also holds (i.e. an unvitiated stomach can safely handle rotten ideas), Milton argues for a free press and free circulation of mental ‘nourishment’. The negative effects of a heterodox diet of books would only be felt by people already spiritually or morally compromised:

When God did enlarge the universal diet of man’s body, [he] then also, as before, left arbitrary the dyeting and repasting of our minds; as wherein every mature man might have to exercise his owne leading capacity.[note]Areopagitica, 308-9.[/note]

This subjectivist account of digestion is part and parcel with the central place of free will in all of Milton’s philosophy. Again, it stresses the fact that indigestion is — therefore — a result of the entrance of the choice between good and evil into the world: indigestion is a thoroughly post-lapsarian affair. Before the Fall, there was — ontologically — no such thing as tummy ache (and, accordingly, Paradise Lost would go on to stress digestive ailments as particularly emblematic afflictions of our postlasped pathology). Yet, by connecting digestion so thoroughly with free will, Milton implicitly sets up a model of perfect assimilation as symptom of moral perfection. Good digestion is the model of good civic understanding, and vice versa. As such, just as the model and ideal of cognitive apprehension is total understanding, so too would the model and ideal of digestion be one of total metabolic assimilation, of 100% digestive efficiency. In this perfect digestive tract, no “meats” could resist incorporation, no recalcitrance would arise from ingested matter, all items would be fully absorbed (thus, no excrement). The meat would become whatever the consumer chooses (again, “to the pure all things are pure”). Indeed, if it is possible that man’s understanding could overcome the boundaries of post-lapsarian finitude, would it not also make sense that man’s stomach could overcome the resistance of fallen foodstuffs? If man’s “glassy essence” can be utterly devoid of dioptrics, can not man’s “dyeting” be devoid of putrescence and excrement? Can we aspire to crystalline perspicuity in both our cognitive and our gastric “dyeting”? Can we stop desiring sugary blackness and return to pre-lapsarian vitreosity? Certainly, images of a state of crystalline epistemic concord do occur in Milton: moments where experience is ‘digested’ perfectly, so to speak. Accordingly, in ‘Prolusion III’, a young Milton had written that the “mind should not consent to be limited and circumscribed by the earth’s boundaries, but should range beyond the confines of the world”[note]John Milton, ‘Prolusion III’, ll.171, in vol.xii of The Works of John Milton, ed. F.A. Patterson (Columbia University Press, 1931)[/note] and, in ‘Elegy V’, the narrator writes that his “mind is whirled up to the height of the bright, clear sky: freedom from my body”.[note]John Milton, ‘Elegy V’, ll.15-20, in Milton: The Complete Shorter Poems, ed. J. Carey (Longman, 2007). Carey’s translation from the Latin is used here.[/note] It is even claimed here that the “unseen depths of Tartarus do not escape my eyes”. That is, in this state of perceptive-concord, even darkness is eliminated from perspectival perspicuity (just as, presumably, pre-lapsarian digestion would eliminate the need for excretion). (Note, moreover, that Milton deploys the words “liquidi raptatur” to describe this ascent: his “mind’s eye” becomes fully aqueous like the firmament; and, hence, his intellect resembles the “clear hyaline”; ocular recalcitrance evaporates.) Consequently, unlike an alimentary canal that excretes, an eye that fails to see with clarity, or a mind that pierces the “innermost sanctuaries”, Milton here hints towards the potential for subjects in pure accord with the Outside. Relinquished of the complications of excess matter, there are no cataracts, nor any indigestions. Nothing can exceed this ideal subject; it experiences epistemological eupepsia. As his years lengthened, however, and he grew older, the reality, for Milton, could not have been more different: vexed by flatibus, tortured by internal putrescence, and quaking with dyspepsia. Just as Crystal Pepsi’s attempt at perspicuity collapsed back into sugary nigredo, so too did Milton’s dreams of perfect epistemic-metabolic assimilation crumple into flatulent darkness. Man’s “glassy essence” denatures into excremental occlusion, as chaotic Pepsi — avatar for desiring-revolution — comes to invade it.

gut.jpg

Tomorrow: ‘Peristaltic Metaphysics and the Invention of Pepsi’ 

 

part 1 – cosmic dys𝔭𝔢𝔭𝔰𝔦a & divine excrement: or, an essay unveiling the teleoplexic identity of miltonic chaos, capitalist nigredo and alchemical pepsi cola™

by pps

“The fully enlightened earth radiates PEPSI triumphant.”

—Source unknown

“The Pepsi ethos has evolved over time. The vocabulary of truth and simplicity is a reoccurring phenomena in the brand’s history. It communicates the brand in a timeless manner and with an expression of clarity. Pepsi BREATHTAKING builds on this knowledge. True innovation always begins by investigating the historic path. Going back-to-the-roots moves the brand forward as it changes the trajectory of the future.”

—Arnell Group, Breathtaking, Design Document, 2008[note]https://www.goldennumber.net/wp-content/uploads/pepsi-arnell-021109.pdf[/note]

“Some years ago, on a stormy night in New Haven, I sat down to reread [Paradise Lost] … And while I read, until I fell asleep in the middle of the night, the poem’s initial familiarity began to dissolve … Although the poem is a biblical epic, in classical form, the peculiar impression it gave me was what I generally ascribe to literary fantasy of science fiction, not to heroic epic. Weirdness was its overwhelming effect.”

—Harold Bloom[note]The Western Canon, (2004).[/note]

“Yet he who reigns within himself, and rules
Passions, desires, and fears, is more a king;
Which every wise and virtuous man attains:
And who attains not, […]
Subject himself to anarchy within”

—Milton, Paradise Regained, ii.457-62   

DAY 1. THE PEPSOIDAL FALL: Pepsi & Teleoplexy


Early in November 2017, fisher Karissa Lindstrand dredged up a lobster off the coast of New Brunswick, Canada. The crustacean had a Pepsi logo prominently tattooed onto its propodus, or claw. Precisely how this logo came to be there remains a mystery: when the event made the news, marine biologists instantly disagreed as to the provenance and occasion of the marking. The mechanisms of imprinting are largely irrelevant, for we instead read this event in a deeper, properly world-historical light: this decapod pincer represents a mere moment in a far vaster process, one spiralling outwards in both time and space… The following (an essay split into 7 sequential parts) is, in many ways, an attempt to fill in this story, as it provides context to the unnerving singularity of recent events such as a sigil-branded lobster from the deep.

lobster-pepsi


The four rivers of Eden were milk, water, wine and ale”, wrote G.K. Chesterton, “[a]erated waters only appeared after the Fall”.[note]G.K. Chesterton, A Gleaming Cohort: Being Selections from the Writings of G.K. Chesterton (Methuen, 1926), 6.[/note] Pepsi, in other words, is irrecusably Fallen. Fizzy drinks are beverages for a postlapsarian world. Why, however, does Chesterton choose soft drinks, of all things, to signify this? Because, putting it simply, Pepsi and its ilk operate perfectly as metonymy for capitalisation. Moloch’s sugar-infused reign and the biblical Fall are teleologically married. Put more strongly, Capitalisation and the Fall are identical. Why? Because — as shall soon be made clear capitalism, just like the Fall, functions according to a logic of predestination. Via mereological usurpation, soft drink comes to stand as synecdochic totem for global capitalisation itself, and, as such, Chesteron’s aphorism can be retrochronically grasped as masterfully encrypting vast and panoramic truths, ventriloquized by the tractor of powerful world-historical forces. Why should this be the case? Because the very fact that Pepsi works so adeptly as a synecdoche for capital alerts us to the infernal — and thus fall-generating — essence of capitalisation itself. Synecdoche at its most basic — is an acute destabilisation between Part and Whole, and thus also between Means and Ends.[note]Mereologically speaking, parts are subordinate because they are means towards the upkeep of the whole, which is therefore the end.[/note] It accordingly represents a co-option of Ends (the Whole) by what was once merely a Means (or, Parts). Synecdoche subverts the direction of the hierarchical relationship whereby parts serve as mereological means towards the whole-as-end. Thus: synecdoche is a metastasising of Part into its own tumorous Whole (which, therefore, comes to threaten the integrity of the parent Whole). Such synecdochal operation is essential to the nature of capital itself, whereby means (here the utile quenching of thirst) mutate into ends-in-themselves (global Pepsi-production, Pepsico domination), via a positive-feedback process of rigorous self-selection (Pepsi wants itself). The restricted economy of hydration haemorrhages into a generalised economy of interminable fizz, and, through an inflammation of supernormal stimuli (exaggerated sugar content tending to fixation and addiction amongst abstract Pepsi’s host-organism), soft drinks come to progressively shed the functional camouflage of thirst-quenchers and medicinals that guide them trojan-like into the world.

In 1904 (just a year after Pepsi-Cola was trademarked), Gillespie’s Natural History of Digestion had already pinpointed this inclination: the “[s]timulation of the appetite with highly-flavoured foods diminishes the natural [relation between food and sustenance or means and ends]”, tending instead “towards living to eat instead of eating to live”.[note]Alexander Lockhart Gillespie, The Natural History of Digestion (W. Scott, 1904), iii.[/note] It is capital’s very inherent nature to perform this part-whole destabilisation: this is why Chesterton’s Pepsi-synecdoche so perfectly encapsulates capital even as it occludes capital-as-such behind a subsidiary part, set behind subset (indeed, to stress the point, it captures it perfectly not in spite of this occlusion, but because of it). Thus, we see how the means-ends subversion inherent to capital is inherently infernal, in a very specific sense of the term. Synecdoche represents a mereological revolt, just like the original Satanic revolt (wherein a subset i.e. the rebellious angels metastasises to challenge the whole i.e. empyrean rule). It is the hypertrophy of a part into its own pseudo-whole, causing a resultant antagonism between ‘satanic tumour’ and ‘divine host’: when the immanent (the lower and derivative), by coming to cause itself (Satan’s feigning of freedom), begins to simulate or feign its own transcendence (sovereign autonomy), therefore coming to compete with (and potentially usurp) its own ‘ground’ of production. It is, at heart, a self-causing reversal of metaphysical hierarchies. Demonic revolt is ontological cancer, malignant synecdoche. God’s divine rule, or human social relations, are effectively usurped by the cancerous pseudo-ends of a catalytic part: demonic insurrection, or, sugar-bent carbonation. Synecdoche, as breakdown of the unidirectionality of strict top-down rule,[note]It is mereological disruption: collapse of the hierarchical (and metaphysically suspect) distinction between Whole and Part or Ends and Means, folding them into feedback as opposed to supremacy. In this way, Satan and the Fall triggered by this can be understood as cybernetic events.[/note] is thus an alluring model for cybernetic runaway. Capitalism’s own logic is hence one of synecdochal usurpation. In this sense, all Capitalism tends towards Pepsi-Capitalism: as it progresses simply as the replacement of top-down goals by hyertrophying sub-routines; and this is why it is an inherently inhuman thus infernal and demonic — project. God’s encephalic executive function swarmed by cerebellum supestimuli.

Pepsi Slim Can

But the connection between Pepsi, Capitalisation, and the Fall runs even deeper. This usurpation tends towards auto-production: it can be understood as the process whereby a means becomes an end-in-itself. This is triggered when a part comes to cause itself (thus, satanically breaking away from its dependence on the original whole); which is, in turn, identical to pointing out that it progressively comes to predestine itself, via its own auto-installation of a logic of circular causality. Part-whole subversion is the same as predestination. In the sense that Pepsi is Fallen it is also therefore predestined. Following from Reformed Orthodoxy’s doctrine of ‘supralapsarianism’, the Fall and all its causal derivatives and ramifications became cast as an intra-temporal event that nevertheless entails itself from outside of time (something within time that comes to structure time itself from without).[note]The Reformation staged a conflict between so-called ‘infralapsarian’ and ‘­supralapsarian’ conceptions of Predestination. Election and Reprobation either arises from within time (infralasparian), or it structures time from without (supralapsarian); either creation logically entails predestination, or predestination entails creation. Unappeased with this binary, one seeks to diagonalise the decision: thus, we believe that the Fall is both ‘infraand ‘supra temporal. In other words, the distinction between the two doctrines becomes one of complex feedback — rather than contradistinction or mutual exclusion as we come to realise that the ultimate extra-temporal ‘End’ constructs itself from within time, via memetic and cybernetic vectors, before subsequently dragging eventualities towards its own completion. This is identical with the pars-pro-toto revolt constitutive of the term ‘Pepsi-capital’. Moreover, it is the fear of such auto-production that  as we shall see in the following  John Milton was so prophetically attuned to.[/note] Capitalism, likewise, represents a similar kind of self-installing predestination: as a real teleology (a self-intensifying process that accordingly reifies its own ‘destiny’ as a real causal force), one that relentlessly exceeds the top-down, central planning of divinity via its tendency towards demonic synecdoche. This headless teleonomy echoes, therefore, the Fall considered as an event that is predestined with precision but arises  for torturous, even schizoid, ethical reasons  orthogonally to God’s putative ‘goodness’. In Chesterton’s gnomic phrase, Pepsi and the Fall thus become entangled in a mutually-enforcing prophetic structure: whether he knew it or not, he was invoking the fact that both are forces of destiny and thus also agents of temporal distortion. To explicate: Pepsi operates so well as a metynomic placeholder for capital because  just like the Fall  it becomes its own effect and its own cause.[note]On the view of reformed theology, the Fall causes itself within time because it was determined from the end of time.[/note] It causes itself in a bootstrapping process that is revealed as an effect of the future on its own past: retrochronic projection, or temporal anomaly. Again, like the Fall, it is an event within linear time that is caused (or comes to cause itself) from without. Along with the Fall and Calvinist double predestination, Pepsi becomes its own telic destiny, by progressively installing the means of its own propagation. Auto-production is indistinguishable from predestination which, in turn, is indistinguishable from temporal non-linearity.

Interfacing with the CNS from the future, abstract Pepsi causes present addiction: the bio-physiological translation of predestinal logic. Condemning us to desire by making us desire further condemning. It becomes real-world prophecy, or atheological predestination: Pepsi-capital inundates the world with a marketing-deluge of Noachic proportions, dragging itself towards the installation of an end-oriented logic of aggressive self-propagation. Lock-in ensues as PepsiCo constructs its own pathway towards its own future and Supernormal Stimuli Take Over. Like a satanic cuckoo, Pepsi-production co-opts the better angels of our nature, flooding normative and decisional structures  even evolutionary purposiveness  with effervescing blackness. In other words, the belly overthrows the head (as we shall see, another perfect model for demon revolt). Thus, the metynomic role the “aerated waters” play in Chesterton’s invocation (as symbolic interface between Capitalisation and Fall), comes to communicate the structure of an intestinal revolt that also captures the workings of auto-productive predestination. Chesterton’s metonym rhetorically encapsulates the essentially acephalic and auto-productive nature of Capital; and, insofar as Capital is auto-productive, it consists in a temporal anomaly (because it comes to cause itself). In other words, it seeds telic forces and becomes its own destiny, just like the Fall (as envisioned post-Reformation). It is an event within time that nevertheless comes to organize the structure of time itself. And so: both the Fall and Capital, through their worldly manifestation in Pepsi Cola, consist in a form of temporal interference. By announcing that Pepsi is Fallen, therefore, one acknowledges, accordingly, that Pepsi invents itself from the future.

When observed from the perspective of synecdochal usurpation and the attendant circular causality of self-selecting replication, Pepsi is installed as the true Subject of World History. It becomes the immanent end towards which history tends. Certainly, teloi do not have to be transcendent or sanctioned by divine decree; teloi can install themselves (via a dynamic of self-selection and lock-in).[note]This is also how intratemporal events can come to shape the extratemporal arrow of time.[/note] Satanic revolt is the extension of competition to teloi or transcendences: it is when ‘the Lower’ comes, via its own resources, to mimic or dissimulate its own form of ‘the Higher’; and, since mimicries can become as good as the prototype, or, alternately, simulacra make themselves real, this mimicry eventually comes to directly compete with the original transcendence. Once various options exist, competition sets to work. Facsimile competes with and potentially usurps prototype: this process applies to deities as much as cuckoo hosts. Satan denotes a parasite transcendence. Demon revolt thus flags the story of how transcendences can be manufactured immanently, and the subsequent problems this holds for the prototype. Pepsi’s auto-production, therefore, is ‘satanic’ exactly because it represents this same threat with regards to the comparative ‘divinity’ of human goals, norms, and ends (infernal cola vs anthropological central-planning; intestine vs encephalon). Thus, as Pepsi falls together from the future the occult signs of this temporal interference (self-assembly) are registered as symbolic resonances within the domain of world-historical figures and works  by those particularly sensitive to the cross-currents of temporal complexity. Insofar as the Reformation re-invented soteriology it also re-invented time; insofar as it re-invented time it also (famously) unleashed market capitalism and, thereby, also untold teleonomies. It should be no surprise, then, that the signs of templex autopepsia are strewn throughout the works of that greatest poet of Reformed Christianity, John Milton.[note]MILTON = 137 = LUCIFER[/note] Just as the pious Calvinist detects signs of extra-temporal reprobation in her intra-temporal “works” (i.e. deeds and actions), the signs of self-assembling and end-orientated Pepsi are littered throughout Milton’s magnum opus, Paradise Lost. When considered from the standpoint of modernity and capital’s nonlinear temporality, the poet’s premonitions of Pepsi-Chaos can be considered as both causes of what happened afterwards (as upstream nodes of cultural influence that helped enforce Protestant capitalogenesis) and also as effects of what happened afterwards (as the retrochronic scars of predestinal attractors). These premonitional markers take the form of a complex knot of imagery that connects alchemy, digestion, and chaos theory to the occult historical origins of carbonated soft drinks.

hqdefault (2)

Chesterton is correct to note that fizzy drinks could not have been found in the four rivers of Eden. As any sensible person knows, something cannot be discovered within the world before the world invents or produces it. Nevertheless, as long as intratemporal (intralapsarian) cola is ‘predetermined’ it is also therefore supratemporal (supralapsarian, or, arising from outside of linear time, and shaping it from without). In other words, even if Pepsi could not have existed in Eden, we may find it elsewhere  beyond sublunary domains. And so, in Book II of Paradise Lost, Milton describes the four rivers of extratemporal Hell:

Of four infernal rivers, that disgorge
Into the burning lake their baleful streams [PL: ii.575][note]Quotes from Paradise Lost, ed J. Carey (Longman, 2007). Henceforth abbreviated to ‘PL’, and with reference to Book Number (numerals) and Line Reference (number).[/note]

One of these streams, “Acheron”, the tartareous river, is witnessed as “black and deep” [PL: ii.578], suggestively redolent of the Pepsi Cola that would be invented only later (if such temporal deixis makes sense ‘outside’ of earthbound time) from “[a]erated waters” and “after the fall”. Tartareous, black, and deeply sugary, Pepsi’s world-historical auto-production (in particular, its alchemical historical genesis) undergirds Paradise Lost’s metaphysical schema. In the following, we will uncover these templex crosscurrents between Pepsi-Cola and Paradise Lost, to discover Pepsi, like Acheron, bubbling darkly beneath the verse: a cola Alph, flowing to a sunless sea. For, as we shall see, Milton’s poem is informed by a deep-set horror of auto-production, and he assigns a central if repressed  role to the chaotic and excessive tartar of the universe: that which eternally revolts against divine-planning through a form of cosmic deregulation (or indigestion). This auto-productive element fuctions, as we have seen, not just as demonic insurrection but also, crucially, as a temporal one too. Indeed, demons are self-producing, like the zero that creates number from nothing (“My name is legion for we are many”), and thus they can persuasively be taxonomically classified as, in essence, agents of temporal distortion.[note]Think of the possessed demoniac whose splintering personality is multiplied by the malignant zero of the invading demon. “We are many”. Why is the demon here a ‘zero’? Because it is ontologically poor: it cannot exist without a host (much like numerical zero only comes into focus in relation to the number line), and is thus nothing outside of its possession of something else. It is thus a nothing, or cipher, that refracts a person into a schizoid many; and is similar to ex nihilo production (the hallmark, we stress, of chaos and infernality, and also of bootstrapping auto-production).[/note] Inasmuch as Milton’s epic is ‘about’ demonic auto-production it troubles the very notion of ‘aboutness’ itself: with a circumvoluting cyclicality whereby the poem only becomes ‘about’ what it is about later on after it has produced its own subject and summoned it forth into reality. (Milton’s tartareous auto-producing Chaos eventually ‘becomes true’ under the figure of end-oriented Pepsi Cola and, correlatively, Miltonic Chaos retroactively comes to be ‘about’ Pepsi.) It’s not ‘about’ anything that it doesn’t subsequently itself create. In simpler terms, because the poem concerns itself with auto-production it can be ‘about’ things that are entirely distal from it, in the causal, linear order of revealed history. As such, we pick up the interference patterns of temporal-looping through the fact that Milton’s figure for auto-production Chaos is itself deeply semantically entangled with the actual historical roots of Pepsi Cola. Here, again, cause and effect become reversible: Pepsi retrocausally interferes with the shape of Milton’s verse, just as Milton prophet of Pepsi-chaos instils a forecast that makes itself true in the form of this ultimate postlapsarian product. It is this looping that Chesterton picks up on. Pepsi and the Fall? They cause each other.

PEPSI3

One pauses, and is suddenly struck with a vision: The Earth opens up and seeps fizzy pop. The carbonated fountains of the great deep break open. End-oriented teleoplexic history reveals that the world was created merely to spew forth Pepsi: everything else was merely a means to this end. They call it the 𝖕𝖊𝖕𝖘𝖎𝖈𝖑𝖎𝖕𝖕𝖊𝖗. Pepsi, as cosmic alchemical baseline or sugary-blackened-Nigredo, is the Alpha and the Omega, and all other conceivable ‘ends’ (human will, desire, values, Promethean ambitions) are merely camouflaged ‘means’ for the shooting forth of Pepsi from the great internal fountains of the Earth. The springs of terrestrial history weep black liquid sugar. Tears of Pepsi trickle from the empty eye-socket of an anorganic God, a cosmic visage pulled back into sugarrush rictus. This time there is no Noah and no ark. Everything drowns in obsidian sluice. Glucose high; glucose crash. John Milton — blind prophet, blind to his own prophecy — announces this, our fate, from Anno Domini 1667.

PEPSIbutane

Tomorrow: ‘Day 2. Crystal Pepsi / Crystal Hyaline: or, How to See with your Gut’