Catastrophic Astrology

Gruppo di Nun

2004 MN4

I shall disappear from heaven when I shall have consumed myself, and my doom will have been glorious enough! Know that various fires burn in the temple of God, and do all give Him glory: ye are the light of golden candelabra; I am the flame of sacrifice.[note]Eliphas Levi, The Ritual of Transcendental Magic, Rider & Company, London, 1896, 3.[/note]

A countdown clock still runs on one of the countless forgotten pages in the wastelands of the early 2000s web. The website,, hosts a timer that marks the time left before Earth’s annihilation by a near-Earth object, asteroid 2004 MN4, later renamed (99942) Apophis, after the Greek name for the Egyptian abyssal snake-god, Apep, the Destroyer. Below a picture representing the catastrophic impact of a gigantic space rock with the Earth, an eerie epitaph is written in red characters, like the testimony of a vaporwave Ozymandias in the dust of his abandoned cyber-kingdom:

This page is in some way still under construction.
I have some time left before 2036.
Some trouble could this timeline be. I am 80 years in 2036.
So the question is; if Apophis or a heart attack will strike me first.
Yes I know my English could be better.[note]99942 Apophis 2004 MN4,[/note]

2004 MN4 was first discovered in the summer of 2004 by a group of astronomers at the Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona. Several months after the discovery, NASA’s Sentry and ESA’s NEODyS automated monitoring systems predicted a possible impact of the asteroid with the Earth on April 13, 2029. On December 23, 2004, the computed probability of the 2029 collision increased dramatically, being first estimated at 1 in 300 and, later that day, being raised to 1 in 62. In the days that followed, the probability kept increasing until it reached 2.7%, the highest value ever recorded, with an unprecedented Torino hazard scale rating of 4. As the astronomers had widely anticipated, after further observations and calculations, the impact probability plummeted and the possibility of the 2029 event was excluded; nonetheless, a second coming of Apophis — exactly seven years after the first one, on April 13, 2036 — was still raising concerns, due to the possibility, although unlikely, that the asteroid’s trajectory could be deviated by its passage through a gravitational keyhole, determining a new risk of collision. By 2013, even this small possibility of impact had been ruled out. Friday, the 13th of April, 2029 will still be a night to remember, as a 300 metre wide asteroid crosses the night sky closer than ever recorded, visible even to the naked eye.

Apophis: Asteroid (99942) Apophis captured by the Sormano observatory in December 2004. Source: Sormano Astronomical Observatory.

There is a strange affinity between the internet and doomsday. Civilisation’s morbid fascination with its own annihilation has often been relegated to the deepest and most anonymous corners of the web, where, next to scam advertisements menacing horrendous bodily deformities, dark omens of death and destruction steal more clicks than the most depraved pornography. Somehow, secretly, we want to know — in the darkness of our incognito windows — how many seconds, minutes, hours, days, months and years separate us from our doom; if we are sick of an incurable and disgusting disease; when will the Earth be engorged by the fiery abyss of our dying sun. A mirror to our most terrifying nightmares is always one google search away, or even closer, haunting social media with our antisocial urges, as if the Algorithm already knew — and it does — what scares us and excites us the most. Are we afraid? Are we looking for salvation? Or are we just waiting, aroused by the panic ecstasy of disintegration? When it comes to the impact with Apophis, or any other real or imagined threat of apocalypse, the many rational and scientific arguments that solicit the public to remain calm, debunking the ‘fake news’ that spreads unjustified alarm, can never eliminate our fear and our desire for destruction completely. On the contrary, science itself seems to fuel the same conspiracy theories that it tries to suppress, being distorted and transformed from cautious information into prophecy. (99942) Apophis is not merely a celestial body, or an astronomical object, because its influence expands far further than its gravitational field, becoming entangled with our cosmological destiny and speaking to the depths of our being; it is the flaming messenger of a catastrophic revelation. Apophis is, without doubt, the offspring of the limited gaze of scientific inquiry, since the veil of apocalyptic horror that surrounds it is rooted in the cold mechanical equations that dominate its orbit and in the ghost of its spectral signal disturbing our sensors from the depth of space. Nonetheless, no matter how carefully science insists in tracing the limits of its own understanding, barricading itself behind walls of axioms and boundary conditions, it inevitably becomes an oracle, a spiritual medium, opening a laceration onto a radical Outside and summoning an invasion of voices of long lost demons into our world, not unlike a cursed Cassandra who refuses to surrender to her own prophetic utterances. In this sense, conspiracy theorists and cybernetic oracles of the coming apocalypse draw from scientific knowledge not as a source of reliable predictions of reality, but rather “as a poetics of the sacred”, and transform astronomy into an astrology of Armageddon.[note]Nick Land, The Thirst for Annihilation, Routledge, London, 1992, 37.[/note]

One of the first and most illustrious examples of the prophetic power of science is reported by Galileo Galilei in his Sidereus Nuncius:

I feel sure that the surface of the Moon is not perfectly smooth, free from inequalities and exactly spherical, as a large school of philosophers considers with regard to the Moon and the other heavenly bodies, but that, on the contrary, it is full of inequalities, uneven, full of hollows and protuberances, just like the surface of the Earth itself, which is varied everywhere by lofty mountains and deep valleys.[note]Galileo Galilei, Sidereus Nuncius, Byzantinum Press, Oklahoma City, 2004, 7.[/note]

At the time of his writing, the dominant Aristotelian doctrine preached that the cosmos, and all the elements composing it, was perfectly spherical, and that no imperfection was allowed to exist outside of the Earth. Gazing in his telescope, Galileo was struck by a blasphemous revelation: that the moon, and by extension, the entire universe, was irremediably dirty and subjected to the same processes of degradation and dissolution that we experience in our world. The apparently innocuous words of his statement, supported by the reasonable argument of scientific observation, hide an actual, gruesome deicide; if the universe is not perfect and eternal, how could God be? As we now know, the moon’s surface was forever disfigured by asteroids just like Apophis — celestial omens of death whose distorted, eccentric trajectories escape the understanding of spherical cosmology. Interestingly, Galilei somehow expiated his blasphemy by opening the way to the formulation of the principle of conservation of energy — the first principle of thermodynamics — through his experiments on motion. The spherical nature of the universe was somehow preserved in the symmetry of the laws of mechanical motion, which imply the total reversibility of all dynamic processes and thus the nonexistence of time as a material drive towards degradation. From this consideration it obviously follows that the ultimate prophecy of doom channeled by science is the second principle of thermodynamics in its statistical-mechanical interpretation, as understood by Ludwig Boltzmann:

After this confession you will take it with more tolerance if I am so bold as to claim your attention for a quite trifling and narrowly circumscribed question. […] The second law proclaims a steady degradation of energy until all tensions that might still perform work and all visible motions in the universe would have to cease. All attempts at saving the universe from this thermal death have been unsuccessful, and to avoid raising hopes I cannot fulfil, let me say at once that I too shall here refrain from making such attempts.[note]Ludwig.Boltzmann, Theoretical Physics and Philosophical Problems, D. Reidel, Boston, 1974, 15-19.[/note]

The “narrowly circumscribed question” of condemning the entire cosmos to irremediable heat death breaks any surviving hope that the universe may be, in any capacity, spherical, reversible or eternal.[note]Ibid., 15.[/note] Boltzmann was a meticulous scientist and a convinced upholder of the inherent boundaries of science and human knowledge; but despite his understandable caution in approaching the subject of his own groundbreaking discoveries, the proof of his H-theorem, containing a probabilistic argument in support of the second principle of thermodynamics, is not merely a speculation on the behaviour of an ideal gas of non-interacting particles, but rather the elaborate conjuration of an eldritch aberration. As we diligently follow through the intricate steps of this twisted ritual, summoning functions and variables and transmuting them through the arcane operations of calculus, we finally reach the Quod Erat Demonstrandum, manifesting the apocalyptic truth of the death of the universe and unleashing it into reality. There is minimal need of scientific understanding to operate the conjuring machine of thermodynamics; it just works — until it works no more.

When I first met Apophis I was 11 years old. A classmate had told me that an asteroid was going to hit the Earth in 25 years’ time. As a child, my mind was always haunted by an unusual obsession with death, but I had never, before that moment, contemplated the idea of the end of humanity and confronted the possibility of extinction. In my nightly terrors, I had often considered my own disintegration, dissecting in every possible way the paradoxical insanity of being an individual, and then of being no more. But there was something strangely reassuring about the idea of dying as a part of the universal cycle of Nature, just like in an eternal wildlife documentary, where death is perfectly compensated by new life and equilibrium is forever preserved. I was never truly Catholic. I was raised not to believe in any god. But there was something religious about the way I was taught to approach Nature as a redeeming force of heterosexual preservation: the sun sets only to rise again; we die, only to leave room for our offspring to thrive and carry on our legacy. As a cisgender girl approaching puberty, I could finally access salvation by consecrating myself to the natural cycle of heterosexual reproduction; but if an alien force could shatter this harmony to pieces, putting an end to our species, our planet, our universe, then there was truly no hope. Apophis was my lesbian love for Extinction.

Desire could thus be said to be nothing but becoming a woman, at different levels of intensity, although of course, it is always possible to become a pious woman, to begin a history, love masculinity and accumulate […] But reality drifts upon zero, and can be abandoned over and over again. In the lesbian depths of the unconscious, desires for/as feminizing spasms of remigration are without limit. Everything populating the desolate wastes of the unconscious is lesbian.[note]Land, The Thirst for Annihilation, 26.[/note]

Little did I know that Apophis would visit me again, some ten years later, appearing in a vivid dream as an immense celestial serpent encircling and devouring the Earth, and hissing to me the secrets of time-sorcery and the mysteries of the Great Arcanum. All I can recall from those days are a few lectures on statistical quantum mechanics, the persistent image of my body collapsing on concrete and a deep, devouring feeling of cold. “Think to yourself: ‘This is.’ If this knowledge leads you back to yourself, and, as you experience a sense of deadly cold, you feel an abyss yawning beneath you: ‘I exist in this’ — then you have achieved the knowledge of the ‘waters'”.[note]Julius Evola and the UR Group, Introduction to Magic, Inner Traditions, Rochester, 2001, 17.[/note]

Apophisor the Uncreator

In that day, the LORD will punish with his sword — his fierce, great and powerful sword — Leviathan the gliding serpent, Leviathan the coiling serpent; he will slay the monster of the sea.[note]Isaiah 27:1[/note]

The inhabitants of the earth […] will be astonished when they see the beast, because it once was, now is not, and yet will come.[note]Revelation 17:8[/note]

Apophis, the Egyptian serpent-god of the Netherworld, belongs to a lineage of Mesopotamian chthonic deities incarnating primeval chaos and darkness. References to Apophis recur in the spells reported in the Pyramid Texts, in the Coffin Texts and in the Book of The Dead, where it is described as a great snake dwelling in the dark waters of the night, waiting to swallow the solar boat of Ra after it had set beyond the horizon. The recurrence of Apophis in these texts — whose main function was to protect the souls of the dead in their crossing to the afterlife — sheds some light on the deep and intimate connection between the astrological dimension of the Sun-Ra mythos, the political construction of human society and the journey of individual consciousness in Egyptian cosmology. Somewhat similar mythological creatures in the Mesopotamic tradition are the biblical Leviathan and the Babylonian Tiamat, both sharing with Apophis their serpentine/reptilian appearance, their fundamental affinity with the sea, and their defeat of some male solar deity syncretised with the figure of the King, resulting in their slaughter and in the profanation of their body. Of particular interest is the figure of the goddess Tiamat, who, after rebelling against the god Marduk, is killed, and her body is split in two parts, forming the Earth and the sky of our world. This creation myth reveals the beast Tiamat as an Original Mother of mankind, whose flesh is the substance that sustains our existence, but who is inevitably dismembered and annihilated as a result of her giving birth to the world; the literal penetration of her flesh by the Babylonian God is the insemination of dark matter with light, and her massacred body is the clay out of which all existence is shaped. The feminine subjecting itself to this cosmic process of rape is considered unripe, as expressed by the green color of the hermetic dragon representing untamed matter at the beginning of the alchemical Opus, and, unsurprisingly, the same unripeness appears in jungian psychoanalisis as a pathologisation of non-heterosexual or non-conforming womanhood, that subjects itself to the reproductive patriarchal order, refusing to take on her role as Great Mother and dialectical counterpart to male consciousness. Femininity, in the equation “woman = body = vessel =  world”, is only determined in motherhood, that is, only in relation to the other, and through bleeding, that is, only as a function of her wounding.[note]Erich Neumann, The Great Mother, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1963, 39.[/note] Even her devouring, monstrous aspect is to be interpreted from the masculine perspective of the child seeking liberation from the chains of the unconscious, as a necessary adversary in a process of growth. Femininity is constricted in the circularity of the reproductive process of civilisation, but, as Amy Ireland points out in her article “Black Circuit: Code for the Numbers to Come”, the true revolutionary potential of femininity lies in the possibility of uncoupling it from its association with the masculine:

Woman plus man produces homeostasis (the equilibrium of inequality), but woman plus woman, or woman plus machine, recalibrates the productive drive, slotting it into a vector of incestuous, explosive recursion that will ultimately tear the system it emerges from to shreds, pushing it over the “brink” into something else.[note]Amy Ireland, “Black Circuit: Code for the Numbers to Come”, e-flux, 2017,[/note]

Unlike Tiamat, Apophis cannot be killed: no matter how many times the Creator God penetrates its flesh, it is never destroyed; it is an uncreating force that overcomes creation. Apophis is not reborn like a dialectical One; it is recursion, not reproduction; it is the autogynophilic, sterile, lesbian Zero forever excavating itself, onto which everything collapses.

As the solar disk plunges into the darkness of Duat, so do the souls of the dead, facing the ancient monster that lies beyond the light of existence: unconstructed matter, eternal recombination, necessary dissolution. The True Zero, the Unborn, the Uncreator, hungry for human and superhuman blood alike, swallowing souls and worlds and digesting them into the Prima Materia of the ocean of Nun. The daily struggle of Ra against Apophis ensures the cyclical re-affirmation of the glory of the Sun God and his life-giving light, the preservation of civilisation and the rebirth of the souls of the dead into the afterlife, so that a new dawn can rise on the world of men; but the kingdom of Ra is constantly leaning over the abyss of the exponential recurrence of the serpent’s regeneration. The possibility of the murder of the Sun by the fangs of Apophis is mirrored by the astrological aberration of the solar eclipse, that ultimately breaks the cycle of rebirth, violating the sacred harmony of the cosmos. In the Book of Overthrowing Apep, a ritual text reported in its most complete version in the Bremner-Rhind papyrus, Apophis is referred to as “the rebel”, hinting at the political dimension of the struggle between the God and the Beast: the preservation of the cosmos depends on the possibility of the King holding his power against the centrifugal forces of disaggregation, placing Apophis in the position of the supreme adversary — Satan — to his dominion. The insistence of the text on the disintegration and dismemberment of the body of the beast, especially its decapitation, can be intended as an alchemical recipe for the birth of humanity, produced by the slaughter of the primeval Ouroboros:

O APEP THOU FOE OF RE, THOU SHALT DIE, DIE! MAYEST THOU PERISH, MAY THY NAME PERISH, THY TEETH BE SOFT, THY POISON SPILT; MAYEST THOU BE BLIND AND UNABLE TO SEE. FALL UPON THY FACE; BE FELLED, FELLED! Be crushed, crushed! Be annihilated, annihilated! Be slain, slain! Be cut to pieces, to pieces! Be cut up, cut up! Be severed, severed! Be slaughtered, slaughtered! Thy head shall be cut off with this knife in the presence of Re every day, for he allots thee to Aker, and he crushes thy bones.[note]R. O. Faulkner, The Bremner-Rhind Papyrus, The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, 1938, Vol. 24, No. 1, 45.[/note]

Egyptian magick identifies Apophis with a primordial principle of Uncreation: unformed matter that needs to be continuously violated, through a separatio of its original non-duality into the qabbalistic Duad, so that the world can come into being.[note]On the thermodynamic relation between work and separation: “Energy may take three forms, the visible motion of bodies, thermal motion, that is the motion of the smallest particles, and finally work, that is the separation of mutually attracting bodies or the approach of repelling ones”. Boltzmann, Theoretical Physics and Philosophical Problems, 18.[/note]. This is the essence of the alchemical Opus, and the expression of the highest aspiration of the Right-Hand Path, as clearly stated by Abraxas in the Ur group’s Introduction to Magic:

In our Tradition, these “waters”, or Humidum Radicale (“radical Humidity”), have been symbolised as ▼ (downward direction, precipitation). They have also been referred to as the “earthly Venus”, as female and cosmic matrix (▼ in Hinduism is the symbol of Shakti and of the yoni), or as “Original Snake” (because of the serpentine path ≈, which is the astrological equivalent of ▼). […] And now, since you wished to learn about it, realise that the “Science of the Magi” wills this and disdains anything that is not this. To create something stable, impassive, immortal, something rescued from the “Waters” that is now living and breathing outside of them, finally free; and then, like a strong man who grasps a raging bull by the horns, slowly but relentlessly subjugating it, to dominate this cosmic nature in oneself — this is the secret of our Art, the Art of the Sun and of Power, of the “Mighty Strength of all Strengths”.[note]Evola and the UR Group, Introduction to Magic, 18.[/note]

The ritual decapitation of the snake that brings forth duality, taming the flood of uncreated matter, is rendered possible by a principle of symmetry, that is, equilibrium. The serpent bites its own tail because it is a self-sufficient machine in perpetual motion, fueled by the same body that it sustains; a cannibalistic universe that eats itself without ever consuming. As the circle is broken, as the man-God sets himself in the center, generating an alchemical Sun, the infinite free energy of this impossible engine can be harvested indefinitely, producing a hermetic battery whose polarities — Chokmah and Binah, the Subject and his Object — are forever preserved.[note]”The path of heterodoxy and disintegration into infinitely many individuated particles begins with woman, Binah. This paradoxically makes it not merely that the weak Eve was tempted by the evil Serpent, but rather that the origins of Evil lie in Eve. Or rather, in woman.” n1x, Gender Acceleration: A Blackpaper, Vast Abrupt, 2018,[/note] The myth of Apophis confronts us with a much more terrible serpent, one whose hunger cannot be satiated by feasting on its own flesh; it is the non-ideal, dissipating machine of a universe that precipitates towards Extinction. Apophis, the ultimate thermodynamic horror, does not bite its own tail, because it is biting us; and, as it swallows the world into darkness, reveals itself as the blazing fire of the Black Sun, illuminating the putrefaction of the God of man.

Nemesis or the Black Sun

Because You love cremation grounds
I have made my heart one
so that You
Black Goddess of the Burning Grounds
can always dance there.
No desires are left, Mā, on the pyre
for the fire burns in my heart,
and I have covered everything with its ash
to prepare for Your coming.[note]R. F. McDermott, Singing to the Goddess: Poems to Kālī and Umā from Bengal, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2001, 75.[/note]

A model in which the 26-Myr mass extinction cycle of Raup and Sepkoski (1984) is associated with the orbital period of a solar companion star is investigated. The required semi-major axis is about 88,000 A.U., or 1.4 light years. Its highly eccentric orbit (e greater than about 0.9) periodically brings the companion into the dense inner region of the comet cloud where it perturbs the orbits of large numbers of comets, initiating an intense comet shower in the solar system which results in several terrestrial impacts of a period of 100,000 to a million years. The companion probably has a mass in the black dwarf range of 0.0002 to 0.07 solar masses, depending on its eccentricity and the density distribution of comets in the inner cloud, and is potentially observable in the infrared.[note]D. P. Whitmire, A. A. Jackson, “Are periodic mass extinctions driven by a distant solar companion?”, Nature, 1984, Vol. 308, 713–5[/note]

In the article “Are periodic mass extinctions driven by a distant solar companion?”, published in the journal Nature in 1987, authors D. P. Whitmire and A. A. Jackson speculate on the existence of an undetected star in our solar system, constituting, together with our sun, a binary star system. In a paper published in the same issue of Nature, M. Davis, P. Hut and A. Muller baptise the unseen star: “If and when the companion is found, we suggest it be named Nemesis, after the Greek goddess who relentlessly persecutes the excessively rich, proud and powerful. We worry that if the companion is not found, this paper will be our nemesis.”[note]M. Davis, P. Hut, R. A. Muller, “Extinction of species by periodic comet showers”, Nature, 1984, Vol. 308, 717.[/note] Interestingly, the theory of the existence of Nemesis emerged as a possible explanation for the cyclical repetition of mass extinction events on Earth registered in the fossil record. The recurring passage of the hypothetical dark star across the Oort cloud, a region located at the deep boundary of our solar system and populated by billions of comets, was deemed responsible for the distortion of the orbits of the icy worlds inhabiting the cloud, that would then be cast across our solar system and impact with the Earth, causing planetary devastation and bringing life to the brink of annihilation.[note]Quoting Land on cyclic mass-extinction events: “In order to actually up the game, nothing quite substitutes for a super-compressed catastrophe (or mass extinction) which cranks evolution to the meta-level of superior ‘evolvability’. By gnawing-off and burning entire branches of life, crises plowing deep into the X-risk zone stimulate plasticity in the biosphere’s phyletic foundations. […] Gnon isn’t Malthus. It’s the thing toasting Malthus’ liver — in the fat-fed smoldering ashes of the biological kingdom it just burnt down» Nick Land, “The Harshness”, Outside In[/note] If Nemesis was indeed out there, then, according to the calculations proposed by Davis et al., it would now be at its maximum distance from the sun, and the next wave of catastrophic collisions should arrive about 15 million years from now.

Series of photographs capturing the evolution of V838 Monocerotis, an unusual stellar outburst observed in 2002 whose expanding light echo was associated with the approach of the planet Nibiru. Source: NASA Image and Video Library.

Despite the fact that no firm trace of Nemesis has been found, and possibly will ever be, and despite the theory of the 26-Myr mass extinction cycle being strongly contested, the legacy of Nemesis carries on in the imagination of countless conspiracy theorists and in the sensational titles of tabloids on the web. The idea of a dark, deadly twin to our life-giving sun, proposed by astronomers for an exquisitely scientific reason and without the pretension of suggesting any kind of cosmological truth, offers us a glimpse into the abyss of a universal horror: that the sun, in its burning, offers us a vital energy that is not without retribution, and that the same burning that we experience as nurturing and vibrant is, in itself, the sacrificial pyre to its own deranged greatness: “a certain madness is implied, […] because it is no longer production that appears in light, but refuse or combustion”.[note]Georges Bataille, Visions of Excess, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 1985, 57.[/note] Nemesis was never found because, as several speculations of paranoid theorists point out, it is hiding behind the sun, that engulfs it in its brilliance, making us all blind to the truth of our coming extinction; the dark companion of the sun is indeed the sun itself. From this perspective, the name of the goddess Nemesis, daughter of the night goddess Nyx, appears particularly fitting in its association with the greek word νέμειν, meaning to give what is due. Extinction is the price we pay for our existence, the fuel consumed and forever lost, the surplus of energy we cannot grasp; it is the necessity of expenditure, that is, the spontaneity of our existence, since “the verbal root of spontaneity, PIE *spend- (to make an offering, perform a rite, to engage oneself by a ritual act), contains this sense of sacrifice and self-offering, just as we speak of the spontaneous as something ‘surrendered to’, as to a whim. The spontaneity of authentic transformation is also thus a species of death, of surrendering to the expiration of what is untenable”.[note]Nicola Masciandaro, On the Darkness of the Will, Mimesis International, Milano, 2018, 34.[/note]

Civilisation, as the bright twin of our binary Sun, “has the form of an unsustainable law”, and appears as the desperate negation of spontaneity, as it aggregates itself in architectures of horrendous symmetry.[note]Land, The Thirst for Annihilation, xix.[/note] Nonetheless, if we stare long enough into its feverish light, it reveals itself in its nigredo, as a cancerous proliferation, no less revolting than a corpse being nibbled by countless contorting worms. The shimmering temple of God, the perfect balance of his Qabbalah, the great “humanising project” is but a sub-product of the godless precipitation of matter into darkness, “a precarious stabilisation and complication of solar decay”.[note]Ibid., xix; xviii.[/note] The history of civilisation is always told backwards, as seen through the lens of an impossible time-machine; there is no true thermodynamic paradox in the existence of life, because it is not a process of aggregation, but rather an acceleration of disaggregation, a mindless engine consuming itself to death. The martyrdom of Christ on the cross is the necessary sacrifice for the preservation of the patriarchal order of the One God Universe, revealing the inevitably dissipating nature of the Kingdom of God and expiating the thermodynamic sin of organic existence, so that, as the flesh of the creator is slaughtered, the darkened sun «hiddenly gives witness to a zone of occult identity between the immanent summit of perfection and the kenotic abyss of God’s self-dereliction».[note]Cf. Ccru, Writings 1997-2003, Urbanomic, Falmouth, 2017; Masciandaro, On the Darkness of the Will, 98.[/note] Cast out at the edge of our known universe, like a ritual scapegoat venturing into the desert, the Black Sun responds with an invasion of fiery comets from the sky, because there is no real outside to store its excess — it is life itself that is being sacrificed.

Nibiru or the Great City of Babylon

The great planet:
At his appearance: Dark red.
The heaven he divides in half
as it stands as Nibiru.[note]Zecharia Sitchin, The Twelfth Planet, Harper, New York, 1976, 242.[/note]

What is the terrible ruby star
that burns down the crimson night?
What is the beauty that flames so bright
athwart the awful dawn?
She has taken flesh, she is come to judge
the thrones ye rule upon.
Quail ye kings for an end is come
in the birth of BABALON.[note]Jack Parsons, The Book of Babalon, 1946,[/note]

In his infamous 1976 book The Twelfth Planet, conspiracy theorist Zecharia Sitchin proposed an argument in favor of the existence of an unseen planet in our solar system, based on his interpretation of ancient Babylonian cosmology and astrology. This planet, the astronomical incarnation of the god Marduk, patron deity of the City of Babylon, was responsible for the creation of the Earth when, smashing against the lost planet Tiamat, it tore her apart; one part of her would constitute our planet, and the other the asteroid belt and the comets of our solar system. In this very literal and simplistic transposition of the Babylonian creation myth as told in the ancient Babylonian text Enûma Eliš, the impact of Marduk with the planet Tiamat was the moment of the insemination of our dead, uncreated world with alien life:

There was no premeditated “seeding”; instead, there was a celestial collision. A life-bearing planet, the Twelfth Planet and its satellites, collided with Tiamat and split it in two, “creating” Earth out of its half. During that collision the life-bearing soil and air of the Twelfth Planet “seeded” Earth, giving it the biological and complex early forms of life for whose early appearance there is no other explanation.[note]Sitchin, The Twelfth Planet, 256.[/note]

Marduk, our original metropolis, is, according to Sitchin, inhabited by the race of the Annunaki, whose name was historically used to refer to the Gods and Goddesses of the pantheons of ancient Mesopotamian religions, but who, instead of spiritual beings, are a species of super-intelligent and all-powerful aliens. Seeing that life on Earth was but a defective and debased version of the one evolved on Marduk, the Annunaki intervened on the under-developed primates populating the Earth with biological engineering, creating Homo Sapiens in their own image, and dominating the ancient Babylonian civilisation as gods. Ignoring his clear religious connotation as a solar deity, Sitchin insists that Marduk is some kind of rogue, sunless planet that reached our solar system from outer space, not creating, but rather colonising our Earth; it is an invading force, acting from the outside in, rather than an expanding force, extending from its center. Rather than creators, the Annunaki, also referred to as Nefilim, the ancient biblical race of giants, are described as settlers, saying that “the story of the first settlement of Earth by intelligent beings is a breathtaking saga no less inspiring than the discovery of America”.[note]Ibid., 283.[/note] The city of Babylon — the “Gateway of the Gods” — was the first outpost to this planetary expansion, a hyper-technological space-port connecting Earth to her alien invaders. Due to the cyclic encounters of Marduk’s orbit with the Earth, he was named Nibiru, “planet of crossing”.[note]Ibid., 150; 240.[/note]

Artist’s concept of a failed star, or brown dwarf, like the sun’s hidden companion Nemesis. Source: NASA Image and Video Library.

Sitchin’s pseudo-historical narrative was a brilliantly fascinating work of science fiction, destined to influence our image of extraterrestrial intelligent life and ancient human civilisations for decades to follow, but his impact extended far beyond the limits of mere fiction, entering the domain of astrology and prophecy. First, it is significant to point out that, as for Apophis and Nemesis, the supposed existence of an undetected faraway planet in our solar system is rooted in an ongoing scientific debate about unexplained aberrations in the orbits of other celestial bodies in the Kuiper Belt, which, according to recent mathematical modelling[32], could be justified by the presence of a large unobserved planet hiding beyond Pluto, nicknamed Planet X or Planet Nine.[note]Cf. K. Batygin, M. E. Brown, “Evidence for a distant giant planet in the solar system”, The Astronomical Journal, 2016, Vol. 151, 22.[/note] Secondly, while Sitchin’s prophecy remains somewhat incomplete, hinting at a vaguely defined End Of Days associated with the return of Nibiru, his work was completed in the 90s by Nancy Lieder, who was supposedly contacted by aliens warning her about an incoming cataclysm due to the passage of Nibiru in the inner solar system that would cause the Earth to be destroyed; the inevitable catastrophe was, and still is, being covered up by governments and institutions, in order to avoid a global wave of panic and nihilism that would crush the social, political and economic order of the world. Quoting from the archive of Nancy Lieder’s website Zeta Talk:

Article: <6ftpfq$>
Subject: Planet X/12th Planet Cover-Up Mechanism
Date: 1 Apr 1998 16:20:10 GMT


The panic that would ensue from a general announcement of the forthcoming cataclysms would in and of itself be deemed a disaster to avoid.  Beyond the concerns of the banking industry, which would collapse due to lack of confidence in the continuing worth of many assets, and beyond the concerns of industry which requires the faithful attendance of its employees in order to function, there is concern about possible looting, suicides, mass migration of peoples, and never-ending demands that the government do something.[note]Zeta Talk, Re: Planet X/12th Planet Cover-Up Mechanism, 1998,[/note]

A lot more could be said about the theory of the Nibiru cataclysm and its impact on contemporary culture.[note]“The Earth is evil. We don’t need to grieve for it.”
“Nobody will miss it.”
“But where would Leo grow up?”
“All I know is, life on Earth is evil.”
“There may be life somewhere else.”
“But there isn’t.”
Melancholia, Dir. Lars von Trier, 2011[/note] Two aspects of this visionary epic of extinction are particularly relevant to us for the elaboration of a catastrophic astrology: the reversal of the original timeline of the Mesopotamian creation myth and the mysteriously recurring association between the City of Babylon and the Apocalypse. The final impact with Nibiru that will put an end to humanity as we know it mirrors exactly the creation of the Earth from the remains of planet Tiamat. In Sitchin’s own words, somehow “the roles of, and references to, Tiamat and Earth appear to be interchangeable. Earth is Tiamat reincarnated”.[note]Sitchin, The Twelfth Planet, 231[/note] In other words, the Nibiru cataclysm is not simply the death of our world, but rather a birth in reverse: instead of being shaped out of the flesh of some sacrificed Original Mother, arising from formless darkness into light, life is sucked into a disintegrated future, reversing the patriarchal narrative of progress. From the perspective of human civilisation, Nibiru is thus a time-travelling monstrosity that comes from the future, for the future, realising the self-fulfilling prophecy of annihilation summoned by the same humanity that it created. Nibiru is not merely a planet, but the spaceship of an invading alien civilisation, whose technological advancement allows it to understand that the only possible, energetically efficient outlook for the advancement of their species is disintegration.[note]”The only way to get more tight-feedback under current conditions is by splitting, in every sense. That is the overwhelming practical imperative: Flee, break up, withdraw, and evade. Pursue every path of autonomization, fissional federalism, political disintegration, secession, exodus, and concealment. Route around the Cathedral’s educational, media, and financial apparatus in each and every way possible. Prep, go Galt, go crypto-digital, expatriate, retreat into the hills, go underground, seastead, build black markets, whatever works, but get the hell out.” Nick Land, “Quit”, Outside In[/note] Quoting Nick Land on the energetic economy of gravity:

Lift-off, then, is merely a precursor to the first serious plateau of anti-gravity technology, which is oriented towards the more profoundly productive task of pulling things apart, in order to convert comparatively inert mass-spheres into volatile clouds of cultural substance. Assuming a fusion-phase energy infrastructure, this initial stage of off-world development culminates in the dismantling of the sun, terminating the absurdly wasteful main-sequence nuclear process, salvaging its fuel reserves, and thus making the awakened solar-system’s contribution to the techno-industrial darkening of the galaxy.[note]Nick Land, Lure of the Void[/note]

A sufficiently advanced civilisation will have to surrender to the inescapable law of thermodynamic nemesis — that no more can be put together than what is being torn apart; from the inertial reference system of an accumulating economy, whose timeline runs from dismemberment to aggregation, any disaggregating force is an invader collapsing backwards from the future. It is thus unsurprising that, as stated by Sitchin, “Marduk was coming into the solar system not in the system’s orbital direction (counter-clockwise) but from the opposite direction”.[note]Sitchin, The Twelfth Planet, 219[/note]. Nibiru, entering our world from the deep outside, is a planet forever in retrograde, because our sun-propelled gravitational time-loop prevents us from grasping the universe’s entropic drive towards destruction. Tiamat is no longer a primitive beast slaughtered on the altar of human civilisation, an original virgin to conquer and destroy. She is “the Vast Abrupt, and the crossing”.[note]Nick Land, “The Cult of Gnon”, Outside In[/note] She is “the Great Propeller”, silently permeating our universe, undetected until She crashes into our reality.[note]Ibid.[/note] She is the future, and the future is female.

The idea that futurity is inherently feminine, and that femininity is the grave that Mesopotamian solar patriarchy excavated for itself unknowingly, is contained in the Book of Revelation in the figure of the whore of Babylon. Babylon shares with Nibiru a blurred definition of her identity: she is altogether a woman, a Goddess, a city and a civilisation; both of their names, meaning respectively the gateway and the crossing, do not indicate a particular place or time, but rather a relation between places and times. Both are associated with redness, as they are red in the blood of childbirth and the blood of slaughter; both are standing and both are falling at the End of Days. On a more superficial level of interpretation, Babylon incarnates a morally dissolute civilisation that thrives on wasteful consumption and celebrates the pleasures of the flesh; as city of the Tower, she is associated with unconstrained technological advancement beyond the boundaries of anything natural or human. Impure and artificial, decadent and oriental, implanted with shimmering prosthetic jewels, she is the western dream of the city of the Future.[note]”The Western civilisation in which Modernity ignited was ultimately combusted by it. From an Occidental Traditionalist perspective, Modernity is a complex and prolonged suicide. An Ultra-Modernist, who affirms the creative destruction of anything in modernisation’s path, assumes an alternative criterion, inherent to Modernity itself. It asks: What had to happen to the West for it to become modern? What was the essential event? The answer (and our basic postulate): Zero arrived. […] In Europe, zero was an alien, and from the perspective of parochial tradition, an infection. Cultural resistance was explicit, on theological grounds, among others. Implicit in the Ontological Argument for the existence of God was the definition of non-being as an ultimate imperfection, and ‘cipher’ — whose name was Legion — evoked it. The cryptic Eastern ‘algorism’ was an unwelcome stranger.” Nick Land, “Zero-Centric History”, Outside In[/note] Babylon is described in contrast with an opposing version of femininity, expressed by the figure of the Celestial Mother bearing the child of God; but somewhere in the desert they fuse together, becoming one and the same. The feminine Prima Materia, dismembered to give birth to the kingdom of God, is the apocalyptic Beast that “once was, now is not, and will come up out of the Abyss”, undead, crawling backwards from the future through the gates of Babylon to extinguish herself in a glorious fire together with everything that She created.[note]Revelation 17:8[/note]

Gaze into the sky, for the Future has come.
Mark our words: She is the Mother, the Devourer and the Fires that Consume the Universe.
Burn, love, and understand.
Today is the twilight of the God of Man.

Philology Community Falls Out over Paradise Lost Amanuensis Manuscript

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Hexadecigram

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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.


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.[/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.


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.


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

Yesterday: ‘Alchemy to Chemistry: or, the Occult History of Carbonated Beverages and the Secret Origins of Pepsi Cola’

DAY 5. 🅱🅰🆂🅸🅻🅸🆂🅺: Menstrual Chaotics and God’s Ectopic Pregnancy


And so, we see that Caleb Bradham, in both inventing and branding Pepsi, invokes a tradition that stretches directly back to 16th century iatrochemical experiments. In advertising his product as an ailment for peptic ulcer, Bradham was drawing upon Priestley’s use of carbonation as a cure for scurvy, which — in turn — was an uptake of van Helmont’s discovery of gas and Paracelsus’s pioneering interest in balneological healing. Pepsi thus emerges directly from the alchemical-archeus tradition. Pepsi is alchemical. It also emerges, therefore, from the same tradition Milton used to fashion the metaphysical structure of Paradise Lost, a tradition he was deeply familiar with. Nevertheless, despite the ancient connection between fizz and eupepsia, it does not aid digestion: it makes it worse. Rather than lending us the hyaline peristalsis of the angels — for whom “what redounds transpires […] with ease” — it aggravates purging and superfluity. And so, as Walter Charleton wrote in his translations of van Helmont, “we (as Nature) advance to the DEPURATION or Defecation”: we advance, that is, to nature’s inherently “excrementitious ways”.[note]Walter Charleton, Natural History of Nutrition, Life, and Voluntary Motion, Containing all the New Discoveries of Anatomists and Most Probable Opinions of Physicians, concerning the Oeconomie of Human Nature: Methodically Delivered in Exercitations Physico-Anatomical, (London, 1659), 91.[/note]

With all digestion there must be excrement (just as with all knowing there must be a transcendental barrier). And this applies at the highest level: it applies to the digestive tract of Milton’s cosmos itself, to the very archeus. There is, it seems, some dimension of matter that exceeds even God’s anabolic assimilation into divine forms. Excrement is — ontologically — insuperable. Angels still experience matter that “redounds”; nigredo is necessary for alchemical purification; even the glassy hyaloides are at risk of “depuration” from gutta serena.[note]Indeed, ‘hyaline’ has come — in modern usage — to denote the superfluous matter in degenerative medical conditions.[/note] As we have already glimpsed, the universe of Paradise Lost contains a surprising amount of scatology for a seemingly ultra-Christian theodicy: nature itself lets off two violent barrages of flatus upon the consumption of the Apple’s “intellectual food”. Elsewhere, we see Satan’s ‘anal cannons’: waging “intestine war in heaven” with artillery engines fashioned from the “entrails” of the empyrean, complete with “hideous orifice[s]” gaping “wide” [PL; vi.259, 517, 577]. In Book I, we hear of the “subterranean wind” belching from “thundering Ætna”, whose “entrails […] leave a singed bottom all involv’d / With stench” [PL; i.231‐7].[note]One cannot but imagine that gout-riddled Milton knew all about how a “singed bottom all involv’d / With stench” felt.[/note] This sprawling epic undeniably embeds the poetic traces of the tortured flatibusque that Milton himself complained of. Appropriately, it appears that Milton (probably as his health deteriorated) came progressively to reject his earlier promotion of the ideal of a perfect digestive tract: writing on transubstantiation in his De Doctrina, he explains that “if we eat flesh, it will not remain in us, but (to be utterly frank) after being digested […] will finally be voided”.[note]De Doctrina, 751.[/note] Even holy rituals cause shite. Further to this, we see that this same axiomatic irreducibility of excrement applies to God himself, and his own alimentary canal: i.e. it applies to Creation. When mapped in this way (i.e. within an archeus-inflected cosmological schematic), the axiom of the inevitability of excrement becomes recast as a troubling ability for matter to exceed even divine planning. This arises as a mutation of hylomorphism, one that Paracelsian philosophy encrypted as the idea of ‘chaos’ or ‘tartar’.

Within the ancient Aristotelian schema, ‘matter’ is merely the blank potency of being or non-being that forms take on (this is why it is properly thought of as merely the empty capacity — the receptacle — for accepting forms). It is thus nothing without forms: matter is more of a modal category than any kind of substratum or ‘stuff’. Matter is only actualised with the imposition of forms: which — for Aristotle and later scholasticism — are identical with intelligible structure. As a direct consequence, matter extricated from all intelligibility was entirely unthinkable.[note]This is not the same as idealism of the Berkelian variety (indeed, this was only possible much later). Rather, it is merely the claim that being is intelligible because it itself has a logical or propositional structure. The mutual entwining of actuality and intelligibility.[/note] Matter could not, in this schema, be self-actualising: which is to say that it could not be regarded as fully actualised outside of any relationship with mental categories. In a specific sense, then, all matter was caused by intellectual structures (and could not be thought of as self-causing). Hence, the collocation of matter with passivity or receptivity: an assumption that heavily informed Aristotelian gynaecology, wherein ‘hyle-’ was compared with menstrual fluid (as feminine and passive receptacle) and ‘-morphe’ was compared with seminal fluid (as masculine and form-giving nous). Moreover, it was precisely this tradition that inspired Paracelsus in his (deeply misogynistic) quest to remove the female from the reproductive process through the production of an alchemical homunculus via in vitro incubation: the ideal of an artificial (and, specifically, man-made) lifeform, which would be gestated only from pure seminal nous, thus — so it was thought — unalloyed of all dirty traces of feminine corporeality. Purged of feminised base matter, the male-created homunculus would be a creature of pure intellect. (Paracelsus, it appears, may have actually been a hermaphrodite: hence, possibly, his Promethean obsession with surpassing sexual hylomorphism/dimorphism.)[note]cf. William R. Newman, Promethean Ambitions: Alchemy and the Quest to Perfect Nature, (University of Chicago Press, 2005), 197.[/note]


Nevertheless, aside from closely following the Aristotlean tradition in this gynaecological sense, the 16th-17th century iatrochemists were also beholden to subsequent, late medieval developments in the conception of ‘matter’ that had entirely transformed the ontological entailments of commitment to a hylomorphic model. In short, late medieval developments had forged a conception of matter as self-actualised and self-actualising outside of any relation to intelligibility. Thus, it could now finally take on its modern denotation of lethal externality (beforehand, matter could not be conceived of as ‘outsideness’, because — with matter and intelligibility considered as perfectly uniform — there could properly be no ‘outside’ in this novel, modern sense). Only here, with the idea of matter as causing itself outside of mental categories, could it become the alien otherness it is conceivable as today. This potentiated the idea of matter as an ‘outside’.

How did this happen? In short, during the late-medieval fortification of the Christian voluntarist tradition, the scholastic hylomorphic tradition mutated. God was split between the so-called potentia absoluta and potentia ordinata or between his absolute freedom and his constrained intellect — an anonymous and unthinkable/unthinking power and an intelligible and bureaucratic form. The argument ran that the former, the potentia absoluta, could not be constrained by anything… including our ideal categories. As such, it must be conceivable that things could become fully actualised beyond any relationship to mental structure or to conceivability. Thus, where matter was previously only ever conceivable in relationship to mind — and as caused by ideal structures — it now became thinkable as self-actualising outside of any relationship to mind: this is the same as saying that matter became thinkable as self-causing and thus as auto-producing. Hence, the fear of ‘matter without forms’ as something that is self-developing, self-directing, auto-productive, cancerous, etc. The prospect of ‘matter without forms’ transforms from the inert nothing of mere receptivity/passivity to the superlative nothing of an auto-productive zero. In the absence of the top-down anabolism of bureaucratic forms, hyle could switch into malignant self-direction: synecdochal revolt.

This was all a direct consequence of splitting God into an unconstrained power and an ordinate planning: for the crushingly absolute and unconditioned nature of the former smuggles in the ability for things to exceed even the decree of divine planning. God’s uncontrollable Id could recrudesce, dissolving his rightful Mind. Indeed, this likely represents the intellectual historical birth of the modern notion of the unconscious as an internal splitting (alienation). Through this mutation, the collocation of ‘matter and receptivity’ could eventually mutate fully into ‘matter and excessiveness’. With realism (in the full modern sense), matter’s distance from mind inverted from passive nothingness to superlative nothing: not the zero of reality, but the reality of zero. Materiality, by gaining autonomy from intelligibility, became thinkable as anonymous unthinkable power. Crushing anonymous omnipotence. Winnowed from intelligibility as its condition of actuality, matter could now be considered as pure rebellion and revolt against thought (and, thus, also God’s own divine planning). And, emerging from within (immanently), it is rebellion in the precise Satanic sense. Indeed, the fear of auto-production flows from here: matter without forms, exceeding all central planning, all assimilation, all divine eupepsia. Matter as total deregulation. Voluntarist force[note]Voluntarism can carry varying connotations. As a more modern political category, it has carried implications of the limitation of freedom to humanist models of agency. However, in its elder origins in the medieval, speculative excesses surrounding omnipotence, it actually first emerges as a conception in opposition to this later development. Voluntarism as pure freedom, being power beyond limitation, is the destruction of the structures and confines that necessarily delimit and individuate a human subject. Pure power tends towards impersonality. This more eldritch notion of sovereignty is utterly destructive regarding the modern humanist subject, yet, with delicious irony, the former lies at the source of the latter.[/note], defined by its distinction from intellect, accommodates a fear of the Real as self-causing alienness (as something that can exist entirely outside of its thinkability, because it causes itself), thus opening up the way for the horror of synecdochal revolt, as matter becomes self-directing and self-catalytic malignance, looping back into itself and surpassing any top-down rule (be it from Divine fiat, human norms, natural law, or the conditions of its representation and control). And so, matter could become the superlative nothing of an apoptotic hylomorphism rather than the inert nothing of orthodox hylomorphism. (Blindness not as asthenia of sight, but as the excess voluptuousness of darkness visible.) Thus, retrofitted onto the gastrointestinal system of alchemy, we arrive at acephalic excremental revolt. The belly usurps the head. (Just as Pepsi-addiction tends towards living-to-drink, rather than drinking-to-live.)

This heterodox ‘rotten hylomorphism’ was registered variously in the alchemical tradition as tartar, chaos, and nigredo: the excessive and irreducible excrement of the archeus; the blackened, goopy residue left over after fermentative and alchemical reactions. That which exceeds subtilisation or distillation into forms, and yet — as prima materia — remains the unruly condition of all ‘object specificity’.[note]PRIMA MATERIA = 232 = DOUBLE PINCER[/note] Zero becomes both departure and death. Thus, the incessant collocation of ‘womb’ and ‘tomb’ in Early Modern poetics.[note]”Zero is immense.”[/note] Indeed, Paracelsian gynaecology held that, in the absence of male seminal forms, female menstrual fluid would eventually come to feed back into itself and become a runaway self-propelling process of mutative self-development. Menstruation without semen — just like matter without forms — becomes self-feeding chaos. (Again, chaos has now inverted into the overabundance of essences, rather than their asthenia: excess rather than absence.) Arising from folklore tradition, it was generally held that basilisks were the product of wombs that, in the absence of regular male insemination, had looped into runaway auto-generation. Roko’s basilisk is God’s period.[note]Indeed, auto-production — because it is self-causing — is thus intimately tied up with both the demonic (as reproductive nothing) and, also, with temporal insurrection. Pepsi is basilisk-like because, as the avatar of auto-producing chaos, it comes to coerce itself into existence through the looping flows of tartareous base matter.[/note]

This language of apoptotic hylomorphism and chaotic menstrual excess makes its way directly into Paradise Lost, surrounding the crushingly ambiguous and troublingly central figure of Chaos. Milton describes this massa confusa of “embryon Atoms” as “the womb of nature and perhaps her grave” [PL; ii.900, 911]. Zero is tomb and womb. Material zero, as self-looping overabundance, is excess rather than receptivity: granted total autonomy from mentality, matter becomes self-causing (just like demonic zero). In Comus this is described as the “waste fertility” of an overflowing and superfluous Nature.[note]Comus, in Milton: The Complete Shorter Poems, ed. J. Carey, (Longman, 2007), ll.728.[/note] And this links directly to Milton’s extreme denial of ‘nothing’: for, in saying that nothing cannot be no thing, Milton unwittingly galvanises and evaginates it, making it into a powerful something, mutating baseline 0 into an overwhelming ontological force. He writes, in De Doctrina, “darkness was by no means nothing”:

[for if] darkness is nothing, then God surely created nothing by creating darkness, that is, he did and did not create, which is a self‐contradiction.[note]De Doctrina, 289.[/note]

Nothing can’t exist; even purest darkness is something. Thus, the necessitous nature of the infamous “darkness visible” [PL; i.36]: lacunae are excess not absence; violent externality not inert passivity. This even applies to blindness (via its direct connection to flatulence and excrement). Milton describes his blindness with the language of superfluity rather than absence. In the letter to Philarus, Milton writes that, as his

sight was completely destroyed […] abundant light would dart from my closed eyes [and] colours proportionately darker would burst with violence and a sort of crash from within; but now pure black, marked as if with extinguished or ashy light, and as if interwoven with it, pours forth. Yet the mist which always hovers before my eyes both night and day seems always to be approaching white rather than black.[note]De Doctrina, 867-71.[/note]

This aggressive blindness literally is darkness visible. (Significantly, Milton claims that even “pure black” tends, in his failing eyesight, towards “white”, and indeed, at the time, it was known that white was the accumulation of all of the spectrum.)[note]Spinoza, who specialised in ‘glassy essences’, wrote that “a white surface [is one] which reflects all rays of light”. Spinoza, The Correspondence of Spinoza, A. Woolf, (Russell & Russell, 1966), 393.[/note] Thus, seeing everything paradoxically includes within itself total blindness (insofar as seeing everything includes ‘seeing’ nothing, staring straight into the void). The ‘truth’ of sight is blindness, just as the lethal dose of life or truth is death. As such, it is telling that even in Milton’s early optimistic descriptions of perfect perceptive-digestive assimilation, the implication of scatological excess is not far away: the epistemological purity of “Elegy V” is smeared by the poet’s mention that, in seeing everything, he also sees the “Tartara caeca” — ‘caeca’ denoting ‘unseen depths’, but also the ‘blind gut’ or ‘large intestine’.[note]”Elegy V”, ll.20.[/note] Indeed, as we are about to see, “tartar” holds a special place in both Miltonic and Paracelsian cosmology as the rebellious shite of the universe. Nevertheless: because nothing is not a negation but a superlative, even blindness is a special type of seeing: it is seeing too much, it is looking straight into the blinding darkness of the universe’s tartara caeca, the appropriately named blind gut — the solar anus[note]PEPSI CHAOS = 201 = SOLAR ANUS[/note] — of the cosmos. Milton, in short, blinded himself because he looked too far into the fizzing, dyspeptic nigredo of Chaos.

The caecum, or ‘blind gut’.

And so, we arrive finally at Miltonic Chaos. Chaos is the ultimate hypostatisation of the auto-productive tendency latent within matter: the tendency to metastatise into its own self-selecting end-orientation — rather than the holy direction of divinely-sanctioned totality — thus coming more and more to threaten the primacy and integrity of the ‘host’ whole. Chaos is ontological cancer and crap. As Milton decrees, it is “neither sea, nor shore, nor air, nor fire / But all these in their pregnant causes mixed” and it is likewise simultaneously “strait, rough, dense, or rare” (Chaos fizzes) [PL; ii.912-3, 948]. Again, it is ontological overabundance not ontological paucity. As such, whilst wading through this superseding elemental indigest, Satan simultaneously “swims or sinks, or wades, or creeps, or flyes” — there is no medium-specificity here [PL; ii.950]. Qualities and essences overflow rather than withdraw. Thus, despite being hermeneutically linked with ‘ontological deficiency’ (because of its position as an allegorical figure), Milton’s Chaos is total superfluity. Chaos is the excremental pregnancy — the menstrual chaos and “waste fertility” — of God and Creation: the excrement of the cosmic archeus, it is that which fails to be incorporated (digested) into the happy hylomorphism (the agreeable working of the stomach-soul) within God’s intestinal system. Chaos as cosmic dyspepsia.

For Paracelsus, any archeus’s excrement is something called “tartar”. For, upon inspecting the black, thick, putrefied deposits inside wine casks (called ‘tartar’, ‘argol’, or ‘lees’), Paracelsus saw a tangible analogy for Chaos itself. The product of fermentation (i.e. digestion), wine lees was an alchemical analogy for universal excrement. It would come to be deployed by Paracelsus as symbol for the indivisible remainder of digestion. Accordingly, as physician, Paracelsus diagnosed this necrotic, blackened matter as the same stuff that built up within bodies and caused mortality (namely, in intestinal ulcers, gallstones and other such maladies). This tartar — whether in wine casks or human guts — came, ultimately, from what Paracelsus identified as the “superfluity” of all matter. For Paracelsus, following the tendency of a rotten hylomorphism, matter both in metabolism and perception always exceeds. Keeping this in mind, we now turn to the moment of Creation itself as depicted in Paradise Lost. Here Milton describes how God “as with a mantle did invest” the “rising world” as he comes to separate it — via divine dialysis — from the “waters dark and deep”, from the dark liquid abyss prior to creation. Just as the alchemists had done incessantly before him, Milton cannot help but give this watery filtration a gastric-scatological twist.

His brooding wings the spirit of God outspread
And vital virtue infuse’d, and vital warmth
Throughout the fluid Mass, but downward purg’d
The black tartareous cold infernal dregs [PL; vii.235-8]

(Note that “vital warmth” was associated, in the hylomorphic-gynaecologic tradition, with the formative and nous­-giving sperm — as contradistinguished from the “cold” base matter of menstrual hyle.) The implication here — via the deployment of the Paracelsian word “tartareous” to describe the “infernal dregs” — is unavoidably excremental.[note]In his edition of Paradise Lost, Flannagan annotates this passage claiming divinity ‘seems to excrete the regions of Hell’ (545). Fowler, in his edition, disclaims it as ‘not scatological’ (403), following Kerrigan; Kerrigan, however, does indeed admit it as ‘fecal’, ‘excremental’ and ‘in the anal mode’, in The Sacred Complex: On the Pyschogenesis of Paradise Lost (Harvard University Press, 1983), 69.[/note] Indeed, others amongst Milton’s contemporaries, those also schooled in iatrochemical lore, had reached similar conclusions: Thomas Tymme had reported that Moses “tells us that the Spirit of God moved upon the water” and therefore by “God’s Halchymie” the “corrupt stinking feces, or dross matter” was brought, in a digestive process of filtration, to the “christalline cleernes” of the firmament.[note]Thomas Tymme, The Practise of Chymicall, and Hermeticall Physicke, for the preservation of health. Written in Latin by Iosephus Quersitanus, Doctor of Phisicke. And translated into English, by Thomas Timme, minister (London, 1605), i.[/note]

God shits out the creation.


Pepsoidal Nigredo / Modern Alchemy

There is simply no way that Milton would have been unaware of the resonances he was weaving here. For Milton would have known all about tartar due to his own physical ailments. Contemporary medicinal understanding held that ulcers were tartareous growths: ontologically adjacent to the superfluities left over from fermentations. Paracelsus himself was a prolific and influential writer on this topic: for him, ulcers — like Satanic revolt — were malignant excrescences of auto-production, of synecdochal usurpation (as such, Milton would have understood his microscale splanchnic putrefaction in much the same way as the macroscale ‘intestine strife’ of heavenly revolt). As already explored in this series, Milton likely had a peptic ulcer. Moreover, a major symptom of this deadly ulcer would have been ‘melena’: the “passing of dark tarry faeces” containing blood.[note]OED.[/note] Identical in appearance to the wine tartar or ‘lees’ found in the bowels of brewing vats: the muck that Paracelsus had nominated as symbolic of the chaotic nigredo of creation. Thus, one must emphasise the striking fact that Milton — no stranger to ‘tartareous’ faeces and the medical literature surrounding it — chose to describe the very act of Biblical Creation as itself “tartareous”.

Significantly, in the chronotemporal layout of Paradise Lost, this cosmogenic bowel evacuation precedes Genesis’s separation of the waters. The vitreous filtration, then, was preceded by divine diarrhoea. Milton, elsewhere, writes that the hyaline separation was a “mere minister” of Creation, for “the spirit only brooded on the surface of waters which had already been created”.[note]De Doctrina, 287 — my emp.[/note] Thus, we note that nature’s crystalline aspect is ontologically posterior to its faecal aspect — just as Crystal Pepsi was merely a camouflaged version of the obsidian original. As such, the core paradox arising from the laws and fundaments of Milton’s miniature universe comes into full focus: all things — even the seemingly perspicuous firmaments — are sedimented, condensed, or coagulated out of base Chaos. With an ambiguity that resounds throughout his entire universe, Milton presents his Chaos as equally antecedent and as equally infinite as God: this “infinite Abyss” [PL; ii.405] is “Ancestor […] of Nature” [PL; ii.896]; and as “eldest Night” [PL; ii.894] it is properly the “Womb of nature” [PL; ii.911]. And so, we have located this as the originary trauma attendant upon the internal workings of Miltonic cosmogeny and metaphysics: this is the secret of the Miltonic chronotope. Beginning in an excremental ‘purging’ of tartareous prima materia from the godhead, the universe forever encases within itself the excessive capacity of matter: that which refuses (and routes around) imposition and regimentation. As such, the default state of matter is not obedience or formfulness: the gut floras of creation do not harmonically “sing their great Creator” by default, but only by the coercion of constant stratification. The default state of matter is usurpation and escape (hence, the constant risk of ontic synecdoche). And this means that the risk of chaotic relapse quivers at all ontological echelons as indwelling potency. Consequently, this process of divine digestion is continual and unceasing. Because Chaos is the baseline and default, God must keep anabolizing the “Lump” of increatum in order to stop it relapsing into primordial formlessness. Thus, excretion and dialysis are condemned to inexorability.

This can be seen in Milton’s depiction of Limbo as an immune-sewage system for the tumours of hylomorphism. That is, all the excessive and teratological forms of the world pass through Limbo — as the colon of Creation — before being excreted into the Outside. All “unaccomplished works of nature’s hand / Abortive monstrous or unkindly mixed / Dissolved on earth” pass into Limbo, as Milton envisions [PL; iii.455-7]. Moreover, Limbo is contiguous with Chaos as the nethermost port of Creation: described as a “boundless continent” with “ever-threatening storms […] blustering around [PL; iii.425-6]. And, as such, its purpose is clearly to crap out all the destabilizing matter needing to be excreted from right creatio. As such, Limbo is seen to contain a peristaltic procession of “embryos and idiots”, alongside Enoch’s Nephilim, born of ancient miscegenation “betwixt the angelic and human kind” [PL; iii.462]. Continuing the deep connection between metabolism and epistemology, Limbo also therefore contains theological and philosophical excrescences too: “relics, beads” and “dispenses [or] bulls” are farted out by the “violent cross wind” [PL; iii.489-92]. (Limbo, thus, is a cosmological limbic system: it filters out dangerous forms and ejaculates them into chaos.) These internal specters of chaos-relapse are pushed outwards, and they “pass the planets seven, and pass the fixed” [PL; iii.481], before their “abortive” purge into the Outside. This is the anus of the universe. As such, we see how everything — at all ontological levels — expresses the potential to collapse back into effervescent, liquid blackness. In short, the matter of Chaos’s “outrageous […] sea” is imposed with God’s forms to become the eupeptic “crystalline ocean” that we witness as the “new-made World”, and yet the “extremes / Contiguous” will always loom underneath [vii.212, 272–3]. (Identical, again, to the fact that consumers could taste that Crystal Pepsi was a lie because the taste of saccharine blackness lurked beneath perspicuous appearance.) It is the cosmic unconscious of ontological dyspepsia — the “tartara caeca” or “blind gut” — rumbling and gurgling beneath the glassy “hyaline”: and, like “Acheron”, it is “black and deep” and fizzy [PL; ii.578]. Quite simply, Chaos is not defeated but only temporarily repressed by the forms of divine central-planning: like a liquid or a gas under pressure it always struggles to release itself and to fizz forth from the depths.

boilt peps



So, we turn, once more, from the birth of the cosmos, back to the bubbling birth of Pepsi Cola. Immediately, one notes the resonances between the wine tartrates that Paracelsus describes and Pepsi-Cola: blackened and tartareous, wine lees were often also sugary and sweet. Certainly, it has become a memetic contagion of late to unveil this viscous blackened mass as the true state of Pepsi Cola (YouTube videos abound depicting the results of boiling cola).[note][/note] As a form of modern alchemy, one ferments the cola into a similar chemical state as the tartrates that inspired Paracelsus to describe the “superfluity” latent in all matter. Subsequently, we note the crucial fact that van Helmont first discovered carbon dioxide — thus initiating the chain of events that led to the invention of Pepsi Cola — precisely by studying tartar. Spurred on by Paracelsus’s obsession with this particular substance (and the centrality it came to enjoy in his mentor’s metaphysics), he studied at great length the fermenting process of wine. Observing the emanations from wine vats, he first came to the conclusion that they were releasing “gas sylvestre”. Thus, just as Priestley would later invent soft drinks through studying the fermentation process of beer, carbonation was first discovered by van Helmont through his inspection of the ferment of wine.[note]Indeed, beer brewing produces an equivalent tartrate substance to wine lees, referred to as ‘trub’.[/note] Pepsi’s discovery arises out of tartareous muck. And the occult synchronicities continue to surge backwards as Pepsi-Chaos loops into its own historical creation: for the very word ‘gas’ derives directly from ‘chaos’.[note]SOFT DRINK = 197 = PRIME CHAOS [/note] 

Because of the link Paracelsus had made between tartareous ferment and the prima materia, van Helmont — from the very beginning — connected carbon dioxide and carbonation with chaos. To carbonate something was to impregnate it with a chaotic essence. And accordingly, ‘chaos’ is invoked in ‘gas’ through the phoneme ‘g’, which in van Helmont’s native Dutch sounds exactly like the ‘kh’ in the Greek ‘khaos’.[note]It also shares resonances with the word ‘geest’ or ‘geist’ (for spirit or ghost).[/note] (Furthermore, it holds resonances with Dutch words for fermentation.) With this coinage, van Helmont meant to signpost the fact that CO2 gas is — precisely — chaos. Thus, the relation to chaos and indigestion is philologically embedded within the word ‘carbonation’. For, as we have already seen, ‘indigest’ was itself an ancient substantive for chaos. Moreover, ‘chaos’ itself — coming from the Greek verb ‘to yawn’ — is related to Indo-European roots for the term ‘gape’: echoing the orifices that pumped the world with excremental entropy-chaos in the first place. Helmont continued to deepen this link, explaining that his “gas” is a form of “halitus”: meaning ‘wind’ or ‘emanation’, from which our term ‘halitosis’ derives. Chaos thus refers not only to prima materia but also to the gassy emanations of gaping orifices. Excrement is chaotic; chaos is excremental. “Every flatus in us is a wild Gas”, he wrote, “stirred up by digestion from meats, drinks and excrements”. Carbonation — the secret behind soft drinks — is originally discovered through alchemical study of the chaotic effluence of the cosmos. In naming Pepsi Cola after dyspepsia, Caleb Bradham was ventriloquised by this rich tradition that arcs back across occult history.[note]CALEB BRADHAM’S DRINK = 307 = PEPSI COSMOGENY[/note]

Thus, we are forced to conclude that Pepsi is intimately related to the Chaos of Milton’s Paradise Lost (sharing their genesis and inspiration in the gastric-iatrochemical metaphysics of Paracelsus and van Helmont), and insofar as both Pepsi and Chaos are auto-productive, they allow for the temporal looping (auto-production tends towards self-causation, which is a form of retrochronic exchange) that reveals the occult retrocausal pathways, opened up to us via this alchemical knowledge, by which Pepsi ventriloquises Miltonic Chaos, just as Miltonic Chaos prefigures Pepsi.

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

part 3 – cosmic dys𝔭𝔢𝔭𝔰𝔦a & divine excrement: or, an essay unveiling the teleoplexic identity of miltonic chaos, capitalist nigredo and alchemical pepsi cola™

Yesterday: ‘Crystal Pepsi / Crystal Hyaline: or, How to See with your Gut’

DAY 3. Peristaltic Metaphysics and the Invention of Pepsi


Milton connected his blindness to his gastric problems. He suffered from severe gout, and, moreover, was afflicted by stomach ulcers. His eventual death seems to have been caused — as recent biographers have argued, after consulting medical specialists — by a peptic ulcer (an ulcer of the gastrointestinal tract). It is feasible, his biographers write, that, besides gout, ‘Milton’s other chronic complaints […] included abdominal discomfort and bloating, consonant with [peptic ulcer]’.[note]G. Campbell, & T.N. Corns,  John Milton: Life, Work and Thought (OUP, 2008), 211.[/note] (The flatulent poet lists “intestine stone and ulcer, colic pangs” on the menu of uniquely postlapsarian punishments for mankind [PL; xi.484.]

In 1893 — more than two centuries after Milton’s magnum opus — a North Carolina drugstore-owner by the name of Caleb Bradham (1867-1934), produced his own magnum opus. Of course, “magnum opus” originally refers to the alchemical-chyrsopoeian process of transmuting prima materia into the elixir of life; as his life’s achievement, Bradham’s product was indeed a veritable magnum opus, but rather than purifying matter into crystalline perspicuity, his elixir intensified the depuration and ontological liquefaction that had been set in motion with the Fall. In the terms of Chesterton’s adage, what Bradham had unleashed was inherently tied with this Fall, even in spite of its chronological distance. The twenty-six-year-old pharmacist had produced what he soon dubbed “Pepsi Cola”: a lapis philosophorum for the capitalized — that is, fallen — age.


Previously known simply as “Brad’s Drink”, Bradham — savvy businessman that he was — changed the name to Pepsi in order to advertise (camouflage) his beverage as a medicine. Hence, the name ‘Pepsi’, inspired by the Ancient Greek root πέπτω (‘peptō’, denoting digestion).[note]Dr. Pepper was possibly named with a similar proviso in mind. Everyone knows that Coca-Cola is so named because of its links to the then medicinal substance, cocaine.[/note] Thus Pepsi was first sold as a medicinal aid to eupepsia, exactly the issue that had so blackened Milton’s eyesight. However, carbonated water is now known to increase symptoms of an irritable bowel via the release of CO2 into the intestines.[note]This is likely why consumers subconsciously rejected the marketing collocation of Crystal Pepsi with hyaline perspicuity.[/note] This renders Bradham’s marketing highly ironic considering that Pepsi actually becomes a prime — at least, highly visible — lubricant for capital’s forces of terrestrial putrefaction and ontological liquidation, and, rather than any elixir of life, its surge across the globe represents thanatropic return to blackened prima materia.[note]CALEB BRADHAM = 178 = MELTDOWN = TIDAL WAVE[/note] Occult connections and synchronicities between Pepsi and Milton flow backwards into time from this point onwards. It was not only Pepsi, but carbonated drinks in general, that camouflaged their bootstrapped passage into the world via a tactical co-option of the ancient belief that fizzy drinks aid indigestion (and, in particular, peptic ulcers).[note]PEPTIC ULCER = 227 = TIME ANOMALY[/note] Milton — sufferer of severe dyspepsia and ulcer — will have been intimately aware of this tradition, and fittingly,  Bradham capitalized on it by branding his new tarry drink with the tagline

Exhilarating, Invigorating, Aids Digestion.

Did Milton die — outmanoeuvred by his own internal peptic ‘satan’, an infernal and internal revolt — because he could not drink enough of Bradham’s Pepsi elixir? No. Quite the opposite: he was already drowning in templex cola. Imagine an autopsy report for the blind poet. His internal viscera coated in thick, black, sugary tartar. ‘How is this possible?’ you ask, reeling… ‘Pepsi invents itself from the future’ something whispers back. Suddenly, you understand the shape of terrestrial history.



In his 1654 letter to François Thévenin — after delineating the medical connection between his dyspepsia and his blindness — Milton links himself to Phineus, the King of Thrace — brutally punished by the gods — a penalty that involved his eyesight being taken away. It simultaneously entailed him being eternally tortured by harpies who would constantly besmirch and befoul all of Phineus’s banquets and dinners. Excreting all over his food, the harpies ensured that the king would have to forever consume only indigestible putrescence. The reason why Phineus was prosecuted by the gods? Because, so the story goes, of his Promethean power of prophecy (the ability, that is, to see beyond empirical time and into the Outside that structures it). To punish his ability to see the future, the gods took away Phineus’s ability to see anything. Thus, here, Milton is subtly linking his own blindness and his own problems with food to a knack for prophecy. Like Phineus, Milton — for his prophetic part as templex harbinger of the unleashing of bootstrapping Chaos-Pepsi — also lost his sight. Insofar as Milton theorised upon the auto-productive tendencies of Chaos he was simultaneously prophesying upon the self-constructive tendency of the positive feedback loops constitutive of effervescing modernity. And prophecy, as they say, is indistinguishable from retrochronic information exchange. Bubbling Pepsi, via such retrojection, mobilises Chaos as a symbol and harbinger for itself.




By weaving perception — and even reasoning — into a continuum with digestive process, Paradise Lost presents an uninterrupted metabolic continuity flowing from material to ideal. This is a founding ontological principle of Milton’s fictional world-model, his chronotope. The poet folds digestion inside-out: extending it extra-somatically, making it the cohesive — or binding — principle of his entire universe. Digestion becomes the heuristic under which Milton legitimates his well-known commitment to metaphysical monism. Thus: a nutritive monism. As he emphatically decrees, “whatever was created, needs / To be sustained and fed; of elements / The grosser feeds the purer” [PL; v.414-6]. On a number of occasions in Paradise Lost, Milton stresses that the universe is not constructed of divergent metaphysical orders, but is — rather — somewhat like a ‘holobiont’: an assemblage of varying ecological units that are nested within one alimentary unity. Indeed, even the “empyrean” is folded into continuity with this nourishing process. Lower feeds upon higher, interminably. Thus, the cosmos becomes cast as a universal process, weaving the higher and lower into a procedural nutritive unity. Indeed, in order to buttress his monistic commitments, this process of cosmic digestion lends itself to Milton as the perfect heuristic to illustrate a continuum between thinking and being, or even creator and creation, because digestion is the process whereby unorganised matter becomes organically structured into the make-up of life itself: it demonstrates, in deeply tangible terms, an actually existing continuum between ‘stuff’ and ‘spirit’, between ‘stoff’ und ‘geist’, that takes place constantly within all of our own bodies. (As another benefit, the universe’s metaphysical make-up therefore becomes intuitive through splanchnic interoception: therefore legitimating not intellectual intuition but metabolic intuition.) This is why, for example, Milton goes out of his way to stress that even angels require “food alike” to man, and feel “keen despatch / Of real hunger” [PL; v.407, 436]. Just as the lower is linked to the higher, because nutritive process is continuous with spiritual process, so too is the higher necessarily folded into the lower. In Book V, Adam offers sustenance to the visiting angel, Raphael. Adam — naïve and fresh-made — worries that his earthly nutriment may prove “unsavoury food perhaps / To spiritual natures” such as that of a seraphim. In response, Raphael eloquently — and politely — explains:

                                     food alike those pure
Intelligential substances require
As doth your rational; and both contain
Within them every lower faculty
Of sense, whereby they hear, see, smell, touch, taste,
Tasting concoct, digest, assimilate,
And corporeal to incorporeal turn. [PL; v.407-13]

All beings exhibit anabolism, as “the creation groaneth and travileth” together for (digestive) salvation (Romans 8.22). All things “concoct, digest, assimilate”, thus “corporeal to incorporeal” tend. This intriguing schema, crucially, is a manoeuvre smuggled in from alchemical thinking.


The iatrochemists and chyrsopoeians had long been encouraged by biblical Genesis’s image of a universe created via a process of liquid separation, a hyaline distillation. It legitimated their idea that the universe was itself alchemical in fundamental nature. To put it differently, those who — with obsessive determination — laboured to imitate nature’s work (through the manufacture of artificial life in the pursuit of the alchemical homunculus) would obviously be allured by nature’s own imitation of their work. And what was nature’s imitation of alchemy? Digestion, of course. Biological metabolism can easily be cast as a mirroring — an ontological analogy — of the alchemist’s own, artificial procedures of distillation, purification, and subtilisation. Not only did alchemists consequently deploy this analogy to authenticate their own endeavour, they also used it as the foundation upon which to build a full-blown alchemical-digestive metaphysics. The renowned physician and iatrochemist Paracelsus (1493-1541) took this the furthest: resulting in his postulation that the entire universe is quite simply a stomach.[note]Instigator of modern chemistry, usurper of Galenic hegemony, and possible hermaphrodite, Philippus Aurelous Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim — self-styled as Paracelsus — was a Swiss physician (born in a town called Egg) who, despite the amnesia of later ages, can be compared to a figure like Descartes in terms of the stature and extent of the influence he exerted.[/note]

Paracelsus was certain that everything was suffused within a liquid process of dialysis and filtration, the eternally continuing watery act of Genesis’s Creation. All things, he theorised, were ongoing, individualised versions of this original alchemical “firmament”: accordingly, Paracelsus located the “firmament” in man as his alimentary canal, and related it to the “firmament” in heaven (again, hyaloides to hyaline).[note]Paracelsus uses the idea of “limus terrae” as bridge between micro- and macrocosm. “Limus terrae” is the “primordial stuff of the earth” that God formed Adam out of, but it is also “an extract of the firmament, of the universe of stars, and at the same time of all the elements”. Star-stuff, indeed.[/note] To nomenclate his schema, Paracelsus invented his own idiosyncratic twist on the ancient anima mundi idea: the “archeus”, positioned as a cosmic digestive process, suffusing and conjoining all.[note]ARCHEUS = 138 = COSMOS[/note] The Great Chain of Being becomes a gastrointestinal tract, ontology a caecal labyrinth. For, as nature’s immanent alchemist, this archeus is the “physician of nature” and “the workman who gives origins by drawing and forging all”.[note]W. Pagel, Joan Baptista Van Helmont: Reformer of Science and Medicine (CUP, 2002), 99.[/note] All individual stomachs are objectivizations of this Absolute metabolism: conditioned individuations of an unconditional gut; an ur-gut which therefore becomes the very condition of possibility for all subsidiary digestions. Paracelsus’s influential Flemish disciple, Joan Baptiste van Helmont (1580-1644) accordingly spoke of this cosmological archeus as “comprehend[ing] and cherish[ing] within itself the Sun, and the herd of lesser stars, which diffuse[s] through all the limbes or parts of this great Animal, the World”.[note]W. Charleton, & J.B. van Helmont, A Ternary of Paradoxes: The Magnetick Cure of Wounds, Nativity of Tartar in Wine, Image of God in Man – Written Originally by Joh. Bapt. Van Helmont, and Translated, Illustrated, and Ampliated by Walter Charleton, Doctor in Physick, and Physician to the late King (London, 1650), 44.[/note] Microcosmically recapitulated in the individual, this becomes the “plastic spirit, [that] in the seed comprehends, contrives, and models the whole figure of Man […] limns out all the lineaments [of] the parts”.[note]Ibid.58.[/note] Linking planetary distillation to gastric distillation, Helmont wrote that “in the bowels, the planetary Spirits doe most shine forth, even as also, in the whole influous Archeus, the courses and forces of the Firmament do appear”.[note]J.B. van Helmont, Oriatrike, or, Physick Refined: the common errors therein refuted, and the whole art reformed and rectified: being a new rise and progress of the phylosophy and medicine for the destruction of diseases and prolongation of life, trans. J. Chandler (London, 1662), 36.[/note] Man truly is the microcosm; but not through his head or through his heart; rather, he symbolises the cosmos through his gut. Our bowels are made of star-stuff, a black-eyed Carl Sagan would intone…


Such ideas soon made their way across the Channel to England, and thus to Milton. Thomas Tymme (?-1620), puritan clergyman and dabbler in alchemy, attempted to gloss the bible with his own vision of Paracelsian-digestive “Halchymie” (the prefix ‘Hal-‘ meaning ‘of the sea’, thus denoting the firmamental-gastric ocean that permeates through each individual).[note]Thomas Tymme, The Practise of Chymicall, and Hermeticall Physicke, for the preservation of health. Written in Latin by Iosephus Quersitanus, Doctor of Phisicke. And translated into English, by Thomas Timme, minister (London, 1605)[/note] Another major disseminator was Walter Charleton (1619-1707). He translated van Helmont’s De Magnetica Vulnerum (1621) and A Ternary of Paradoxes (1650). He would write, accordingly, of the “poverty of our Reason compared to the wealthy harvest of [van Helmont and Paracelsus]”.[note]W. Charleton & J.B. van Helmont, A Ternary of Paradoxes: The Magnetick Cure of Wounds, Nativity of Tartar in Wine, Image of God in Man – Written Originally by Joh. Bapt. Van Helmont, and Translated, Illustrated, and Ampliated by Walter Charleton, Doctor in Physick, and Physician to the late King (London, 1650), 96.[/note] Physician to Charles I and II, Charleton was personally known by many of Milton’s network of correspondents. Being a member of the Royal Society, Charleton knew Henry Oldenberg: a close friend of Milton’s. Furthermore, Oldenburg himself was acquantined with van Helmont’s own son: Francisus Mercurius van Helmont, publisher of his father’s works and his alchemical protégé. As early as 1658, Oldenburg had met the younger van Helmont (and described their “congress” together in a letter to Boyle).[note]Henry Oldenburg, The Correspondence of Henry Oldenburg, ed. A.R. Hall & M.B. Hall, xiii. (University of Winconsin Press, 1986), i.176-77.[/note] Between this time and 1671, Olenburg went from denigrating Franciscus to extolling the “distinguished van Helmont, who is very closely bound to me by friendship” (as Oldenberg boasted in letter to Leibniz).[note]Ibid., viii.182-3.[/note] Elsewhere, we see members of the so-called Hartlib circle (Hartlib also being a friend of Milton’s) involved with Helmontian dissemination (both Clerciuzio[note]A. Clericuzio, Elements, Principles and Corpuscles: A Study of Atomism and Chemistry in the Seventeenth Century (Springer, 2001), 90.[/note] and Hutton[note]S. Hutton, Anne Conway: A Woman Philosopher (Cambridge University Press, 2004), 143.[/note] have since noted the primacy of the Hartlib circle in promoting Helmontianism in England). Thus, we may safely guarantee Milton’s knowledge and awareness of this alchemical lineage: stretching from Paracelsus to the van Helmont family, through its English propagators, and finally to Milton himself.[note]Milton critics corroborate this hypothesis, noticing the presence of deeply Paracelsian ideas in Milton, and deeming these alchemists ‘chief sources’ for Milton’s philosophy. cf. Rogers, The Matter of Revolution: Science, Poetry, & Politics in the Age of Milton (Cornell University Press, 1996), 135.[/note] Concordantly, on just a cursory glance, we see that the metaphysical structure of Paradise Lost is suffused with archeus­-type ideas, which help to prosecute Milton’s own version of a nutritive monism. As Raphael had said, everything — stretching from inorganic to spiritual — must “concot, digest, [and] assimilate”. He explicates further:

For know, whatever was created, needs
To be sustained and fed; of elements
The grosser feeds the purer, earth the sea,
Earth and the sea feed air, the air those fires
Ethereal, and as lowest first the moon;
Whence in her visage round those spots, unpurged
Vapours not yet into her substance turned.
Nor doth the moon no nourishment exhale
From her moist continent to higher orbs.
The sun that light imparts to all, receives
From all his alimental recompense
In humid exhalations, and at even
Sups with the ocean [PL; v.414-26]

Soaking in gastric imagery, we see here each rung of the Great Chain “feeding” the higher, providing “nourishment” that “exhale[s]” from “moist continent[s] to higher orbs”, which themselves “sup” upon “humid” and “alimental recompense” from below. Indeed, the Great Chain — as a conjunction of the Principle of Continuity and the Principle of Unilinear Progression — is easily retrofitted onto gastric sensibilities: Continuity implies that, because everything is infinitely divisible into itself, that nothing is inherently indigestible to Being; and, Unilinearity, implies a process of progressive peristalsis by which everything tends towards nourishment. Creation is a food-chain. In Charleton’s words, “every Creature doth […] possess a particular Firmament [i.e. digestive waters]; by the mediation of which, Superior bodies Symbolize, and hold a reciprocal correspondence with inferior, […] by the law of friendship”.[note]Charleton, Ternary of Paradoxes, 35.[/note] We see this “law of friendship” perfectly encapsulated here, as lower interminably nourishes higher. Returning to Paradise Lost, Raphael continues his exposition, describing how — “by gradual scale sublimed” — all of the “vital spirits aspire” up the scala naturae [PL; v.479]. Taken together in this cosmic peristalsis, all items exhibit the alchemical ideal of materials tending towards their purest state. And it is through his dance of digestive entelechy that we see the alembic universe tending toward perfect alchemic sublimation: towards purer, spiritual matter (spiritual anabolism, as “corporeal to incorporeal turn” [PL; v.413]). Indeed, it is implied that, through this great process, Adam and Eve could have eventually metabolised their somaform existences and fully sublimated themselves into angelic uncarnate forms. Angels are near to the top of the food-chain: accordingly, just as they enjoy more a more perspicuous intellectual essence, they all enjoy greater gastrointestinal apitutde and efficiency. As they are unrestricted by human finitude, they enjoy “intuitive” rather than “discursive” faculties of knowledge; and, correlatively, the angelic digestive tract is likewise noticeably more perfect. That is, angels hardly need to shit. Milton takes pains to point out that

                     what redounds, transpires
Through spirits with ease [PL; v.438-9]

Moreover, this angelic eupepsia is immediately described as being motored by a “concotive heat / To transubstantiate” foodstuff, just like the “empiric alchemist” who can turn “metals of drossiest ore to perfect gold” [PL; v.437-40]. And so, the universe is alchemical because the universe is digestive. This is the cosmic version of the alchemical magnum opus: the progression from nigredo, as base matter, upwards to spiritual purity.


It is no wonder that Milton requisitioned the alchemical metaphysic, because it was so suited to his own commitments. For a start, because of his monistic predilections, Milton denied the ‘existence’ of ‘nothing’ with particular vehemence. He insists in his De Doctrina Christiana, following axioms from his Ars Logicae, that ‘nothing’ simply doesn’t have a place in the universe. (However, we shall soon see how his attempt actually galvanises void and substantivates zero.) He claims a thing cannot “be constructed out of nothing in the way it could from a number of components”.[note]De Doctrina Christiana in, Vol.VIII of The Complete Works of John Milton, ed. J.K. Hale & J.D. Cullington, (Oxford University Press, 2008- ), 289.[/note] (As such, it follows that “darkness was by no means nothing”: “[if] darkness is nothing, then God surely created nothing by creating darkness, that is, he did and did not create, which is a self-contradiction.)[note]Ibid.[/note] Consequently, denying a creatio ex nihilo and resisting any pre-existent matter outside of the Godhead, Milton comes to embrace creatio ex deo — a creation from out of God. Again, this is why the physiologically inflected archeus model lends itself so well to Miltonic cosmology. Creation is God’s digestive tract. In an internal process of subtilisation, God anabolises crude materials into structured creation. This, clearly, becomes a gastric twist on hylomorphism. God’s endogenous anabolic process lends forms to the base matter — the prima materia — of Creation. The Deity takes up matter and builds it up into increasingly subtile forms: just as our bodies subtilize nutrition into spirit. This transparently apes the Body-Politic: and, indeed, this hylomorphism is also precisely a form of governance. God, as the ‘head’, resides over the creative ‘belly’ by imparting his form and shape to the raw material of the archeus. On first glance, it at least seems that all of the subjects in this body-politic obey their sovereign. Describing the ‘gut flora’ of his cosmic holobiont, implying that the archeus descends to the most microscopic levels of matter, Milton writes that

Millions of spiritual creatures walk the earth
Unseen, both when we wake, and when we sleep:
All these with ceaseless praise his works behold
Both day and night: how often from the steep
Of echoing hill or thicket have we heard
Celestial voices to the midnight air,
Sole, or responsive each to other’s note
Singing their great Creator? [PL; iv.675-82]

All the taxonomies of Being sing the God that ingested, solidified and ‘stratified’ them into existence. Picking up the imagery of plenitude and casting it in strikingly similar language, Deleuze and Guattari write that

[e]very stratum is a judgement of God; not only do plants and animals, orchids and wasps, sing or express themselves, but so do rocks and rivers; every stratified thing on earth.[note]Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus (Continuum, 2004), 49.[/note]

However, as they go on to elaborate,

[t]he strata are judgements of God; stratification in general is the entire system of the judgement of God (but the earth, or the body without organs, constantly eludes that judgement, flees and becomes destratified, decoded, deterritorialised).[note]Ibid.[/note]

Where stratification is eupepsia, what are the chances — within Milton’s universe — of cosmic dyspeptic destratification? Just as angels still need to purge themselves, where is the nigredo, the tartareous excrement of the archeus? Will the earth itself fizz with effervescing, liquefying, sugary blackness, as the rebounding of the abyssal Deep from crystalline assimilation? Like a peptic ulcer unto the universe itself, all of that which exceeds assimilation — and thus refuses God’s stratifying forms — gains the troubling ability for auto-production. Matter-without-form, the rebellious excrement that exceeds divine digestion, is Chaos: which, surprisingly or unsurprisingly, since the Ancients, has also been referred to as “indigest”. (Ovid refers to Chaos as “rudis indigestaque moles”.) This was a collocation ripe for lock-in. Dryden wrote of the “[r]ude undigested Mass; / A lifeless Lump, unfashio’d and unfram’d, / Of jarring Seeds and justly Chaos nam’d”. Earlier, Shakespeare, in King John, had written of setting “form upon that indigest”. Being a substantive, or a nominalised adjective, Milton would certainly have appreciated Shakespeare’s language here: it is of a piece with “darkness visible”, “palpable obscure”, and — of course — “vast abrupt”.)[note]Cf. A recent article in MVU’s Plutonics journal on an intriguing orthographic anomaly found in new amanuensis manuscripts recovered from the Fitzbarrow estate. This orthographic puzzle appears as further proof of the templex cross currents streaming backwards between Pepsi and Miltonic verse.[/note]

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Returning briefly to Deleuze and Guattari we note, in the section quoted above, the infamous announcement that “God is a Lobster”.[note]Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus (Continuum, 2004), 40.[/note] One wonders why it should be lobsters that bear the mark of infernal Pepsi on their doubly-articulating claws.[note][/note] Why has Pepsi begun to invade even the abyssopelagic zones of the earth? And why has it chosen crustaceans as its avatar?


Tomorrow: ‘Alchemy to Chemistry: or, the Occult History of Carbonated Beverages and the Secret Origins of Pepsi Cola’


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][/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.


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.

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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.


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.


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