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.

The Revolving Door and the Straight Labyrinth: An Initiation in Occult Time (Part 1)

by Amy Ireland

A script from the absolute unknown, how do you even begin to think about that? “Meaning” is a diversion. It evokes too much empathy. You have to ask, instead, what is a message? In the abstract? What’s the content, at the deepest, most reliable level, when you strip away all the presuppositions that you can? The basics are this. You’ve been reached by a transmission. That’s the irreducible thing. Something has been received. [And] to get in, it had to be there, already inside, waiting. Don’t you see? The process of trying to work it out — what I had thought was the way, eventually, to grasp it — to unlock the secret, it wasn’t like that. That was all wrong. It was unlocking me.[note]Nick Land, Chasm (Shanghai: Time Spiral Press, 2015), §25.[/note]

We never find those who understand philosophers among philosophers.[note]Gilles Deleuze, “Synthèse et temps 14/3/1978”, trans. Melissa McMahon, Les cours de Gilles Deleuze,[/note]

So we are confronted by a triad of mysteries: the death or otherwise of Lönnrot, the disappearance of Carter into the coffin-shaped clock, and the deliquescence of Professor Challenger as he absconds both slowly and hurriedly towards an invisible point below the strata. There is a blurry edge in all detective work that, as Borges too competently demonstrates, skirts a zig-zag threshold between apophenia and the truly canny connection of events that only appear, superficially, to be disconnected. In the name of a method that is closer to invocation than criticism, a reckless detective might refrain from determining exactly where an act of decryption lies on the ugly terrain of legitimacy and, proffering sanity as the stake, live up to the problem as it stands. The greatest puzzles are always a delicate balance of intrication and simplicity. What if a single answer were capable of resolving all three of these strange cases — blinding in its solvent consistency?

In Kant’s Critical Philosophy, Difference and Repetition, his nineteen-seventies lectures at Paris-VIII, and in a late, expanded reformulation of the preface to the first of these works (appearing in Essays Clinical and Critical), Deleuze pairs and contrasts two schemata of time: the time of the ‘revolving door’, and the time of the ‘straight labyrinth’.[note]The ‘revolving door’ motif persists throughout Deleuze’s work from 1963 to 1993, preceding Difference and Repetition and succeeding A Thousand Plateaus, the two works that will be most consistently drawn upon here, despite differences in the accounts of transcendental production given in both. The historical evolution of temporal modelling condensed into these two images appears in the Logic of Sense, The Fold, and it also frames the Cinema books, although the revolving door as a specific motif disappears in these texts. Gilles Deleuze, Kant’s Critical Philosophy, trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Barbara Habberjam (London: Continuum, 2008), vii-viii; Difference and Repetition, see “Repetition for Itself” and “The Asymmetrical Synthesis of the Sensible” specifically; “Synthèse et temps 14/3/1978”, and “Untitled lecture 21/3/1978”, Les cours de Gilles Deleuze, trans. Melissa McMahon,; “On Four Poetic Formulas that Might Summarise the Kantian Philosophy”, in Essays Clinical and Critical, trans. Daniel W. Smith and Michael A. Greco (London: Verso, 1998), 27-29; The Fold: Leibniz and the Baroque, trans. Tom Conley (London: Continuum, 2001), 3, 6, 18-19, 70; The Logic of Sense, trans. Mark Lester (London: The Athlone Press, 1990), 176; Cinema 2: The Time-Image, trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Robert Galeta (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997), xi.[/note] Quoting Hamlet, who furnishes the first of the four poetic formulas he will relate to the innovations of Kant’s philosophy, Deleuze writes

Time is out of joint, time is unhinged. The hinges are the axis on which the door turns. The hinge, Cardo, indicates the subordination of time to precise cardinal points, through which the periodic movements it measures pass. As long as time remains on its hinges, it is subordinated to extensive movement; it is the measure of movement, its interval or number. This characteristic of ancient philosophy has often been emphasised: the subordination of time to the circular movement of the world as the turning Door, a revolving door, a labyrinth opening onto its eternal origin. [C’est la porte-tambour, le labyrinthe ouverte sur l’origine éternelle.]

Time out of joint, the door off its hinges, signifies the first great Kantian reversal: movement is now subordinated to time. Time is no longer related to the movement it measures, but rather movement to the time that conditions it. Moreover, movement is no longer the determination of objects, but the description of a space, a space we must set aside in order to discover time as the condition of action. Time thus becomes unilinear and rectilinear, no longer in the sense that it would measure a derived movement, but in and through itself, insofar as it imposes the succession of its determination on every possible movement. This is a rectification of time. Time ceases to be curved by a God who makes it depend on movement. It ceases to be cardinal and becomes ordinal, the order of an empty time. […] The labyrinth takes on a new look — neither a circle nor a spiral, but a thread, a pure straight line, all the more mysterious in that it is simple, inexorable, terrible — “the labyrinth made of a single straight line which is indivisible, incessant”.[note]Deleuze, “On Four Poetic Formulas that might Summarise the Kantian Philosophy”, Essays Clinical and Critical, 27-35. The final quotation is from Borges’ “Death and the Compass”, examined in Part 0 of this series. Here Deleuze shifts from “invisible, incessant” (Différence et répetition, 147) to “indivisible, incessant”. “Sur quatre formules poétiques qui pourrait résumer la philosophie kantienne”, Critique et Clinique. (Paris: Éditions de Minuit, 1993), 40.[/note]

The contrast between these two figures is due, first and foremost, to the relationship between time and movement they express. In the schema of the revolving door, time is twice subordinated: first, to a transcendent eternity which provides the rational model for the ordering of movement, and second, to the rationally-ordered movement from which time’s number is derived (the aperture ‘onto the eternal origin’ constituted by the resonance of copy with model). In the schema of the straight labyrinth, movement is subordinated to time, which conditions movement, inaugurating a reversal of priority between the two and a shift from a spatialised classification of the difference to a temporal one.[note]This is a framing contention of Anna Greenspan’s unpublished doctoral dissertation Capitalism’s Transcendental Time Machine, from which this essay draws some of its key ideas. Anna Greenspan, Capitalism’s Transcendental Time Machine (University of Warwick, 2000).[/note] The pairing of the two figures is more enigmatic. Since the former reappears as a functional attribute of the particle-clock (“the assemblage serving as a revolving door” [l’agencement qui servait comme d’une porte-tam­bour]), that strange vehicle which facilitates the disappearances of Carter and Challenger in “Through the Gates of the Silver Key” and “The Geology of Morals”, and the latter clearly invokes the straight labyrinth (“the labyrinth made of a single straight line which is indivisible, incessant”) used by Lönnrot to riddle Sharlach in the confrontation at the Villa Triste-le-Roy, both seem to conceal passageways by which escape from specific geometrical tyrannies — indexed here by extensity, cardinality, and ‘a space we must set aside’ — may be effectuated.[note]Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 82; Mille plateaux, 94. Translation altered to reflect original. (See Part 0.) Deleuze, “On Four Poetic Formulas that might Summarise the Kantian Philosophy”, Essays Clinical and Critical, 28.[/note] However, given the fact that the revolving door seems to implement the geometrical conditions it somehow also affords an exit from, and the obvious preference Deleuze (as a transcendental philosopher) exhibits for the straight labyrinth as a ‘rectification’ of time, the counterintuitive nature of this proposition is not easily brushed aside. Deeper exploration is required.

Revolving Door I: The Time of Philosophers and Theologians

In the history of Western philosophy, the revolving door is the archetypal image of pre-critical temporality. It takes its coordinates first from astronomical movements, and then from terrestrial ones: the rotation of planets and seasons.[note]The constitutive role of planetary motion is even more overt in the first of Deleuze’s 1978 lectures on Kant: “What is the joint? The joint is, literally, the hinge. The hinge is what the door pivots around. But the door? We have to imagine a revolving door, and the revolving door is the universal door. The door of the world is a revolving door. The door of the world swings and passes through privileged moments which are well known: they’re what we call cardinal points. North, South, East, West. The joint is what makes the door swing in such a way that it passes and re-passes through the privileged co-ordinates named cardinal points. Cardinal comes from cardo; cardo is precisely the hinge, the hinge around which the sphere of celestial bodies turns, and which makes them pass time and again through the so-called cardinal points, and we note their return: ah, there’s the star again, it’s time to move my sheep!” Deleuze, “Synthèse et temps 14/3/1978”, Les cours de Gilles Deleuze, I have occasionally made small modifications to the translation of these lectures, and have indicated where this occurs in the following citations.[/note] These revolutions, confining time to motion and phenomenality, are held in contrast to what is outside them and what has been said to have engendered them — an ever-present but non-manifest, spatiotemporally unconditioned, unified mind or essence. In his lectures, Deleuze links this figure of time, curved by the hand of a god, to “the arc of the demiurge which makes circles” in the account given by Plato’s Timaeus.[note]Gilles Deleuze, “Untitled lecture 21/3/1978”, Les cours de Gilles Deleuze,[/note]

Since the model was an ever-living being, [the demiurge] undertook to make this universe of ours the same as well, or as similar as it could be. But the being that served as the model was eternal, and it was impossible for him to make this altogether an attribute of any created object. Nevertheless, he determined to make it a kind of moving likeness of eternity, and so in the very act of ordering the universe he created a likeness of eternity, a likeness that progresses eternally through the sequence of numbers, while eternity abides in oneness.[note]Plato, “Timeaus”, Timaeus and Critias, trans. Robin Waterford (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), 25/37d.[/note]

Timaeus, an expert astronomer who has “specialised in natural science” refers several times to his cosmogony as an ἐικός λόγος (a ‘likely account’), a play on words drawing on the relation between εἰκόνες and ἐικός meant to reinforce the notion of the cosmos as a likeness — the imperfect copy of a perfect original.[note]Plato, “Timaeus”, 15/27a; 18-19/29d-30b.[/note] Here, worldly imperfection is due to the changeability of the contents of the copy, which unlike their eternal origin, are subject to time:

This image of eternity is what we have come to call ‘time’, since along with the creation of the universe [the demiurge] devised and created days, nights, months, and years, which did not exist before the creation of the universe. They are all parts of time, and ‘was’ and ‘will be’ are created aspects of time which we thoughtlessly and mistakenly apply to that which is eternal. For we say that it was, is, and will be, when in fact only ‘is’ truly belongs to it, while ‘was’ and ‘will be’ are properties of things that are created and that change over time, since ‘was’ and ‘will be’ are both changes. What is for ever consistent and unchanging, however, does not have the property of becoming older or younger with the passage of time; it was not created at some point, it has not come into existence just now, and it will not be created in the future. As a rule, in fact, none of the modifications that belong to the things that move about in the sensible world, as a result of having been created, should be attributed to it; they are aspects of time as it imitates eternity and cycles through the numbers.[note]Plato, “Timeaus”, 25-26/37d-36a.[/note]

There is no measurable time prior to the demiurge’s imposition of order on a previously disordered cosmos, composed only of confused matter and erratic motion. Because time arises from movement, only a perfectly regular and harmonious totality of cosmic motion will install temporality in the rational manner required to produce a sufficiently faithful copy of the model. This imposition of formal regularity is not, however, without complication. Deleuze’s emphasis on the motif of circularity arises from the description, first, of the demiurge ensuring that the matter of the universe is “perfectly spherical, equidistant in all directions from its centre to the extremes”, “freeing” its primary motion from imbalance by giving it a “circular movement … setting it spinning at a constant pace in the same place and within itself”, and then, with the totality of the matter of the universe thus arranged, of the inauguration of a complex process of division and mixing for the purpose of imbuing the assemblage with a soul, which the demiurge creates via the combination of two media: the “indivisible and never changing”, and the “divided and created substance of the physical world” (the former indexing identity, the latter, difference) obtaining a third medium with aspects of both, thus allowing for a flow of information between the formal and the phenomenal.[note]Plato, “Timaeus”, 21/33b; 22/34a.[/note]

He then blends the indivisible with the divisible and the alloy of the indivisible and divisible, fashioning from the tripartite mixture a homogenous whole, but not without effort, for “getting difference to be compatible with identity [takes] force, since difference does not readily form mixtures”.[note]Plato, “Timaeus”, 23/35a.[/note] Despite the complexity, might and skill brought to the work of ordering by the demiurge (who is a craftsman, after all), a material remainder — what Deleuze will call “the unequal in itself” — still persists, and further blending is required.[note]’δημιουργός’ (demiurge), from δήμιος (belonging to the people) and -εργος (a suffix indicating a worker), literally denotes ‘a skilled workman, a handicraftsman’ in Ancient Greek; Deleuze, Difference and Repetition, 233.[/note] This involves a tortured series of intervallic material distributions from which the demiurge finally extracts an obedient harmony.[note]Here is the sequence — which will play an important role in Difference and Repetition — in full: “[H]e divided up the whole mixture again, this time into as many portions as he needed, with each portion being a blend of identity, difference, and substance. He began the division by first taking a single portion from the mixture; next he took a portion which was double the quantity of the first, and then a third portion, which was one-and-a-half times the quantity of the second and three times the quantity of the first; then he took a fourth portion which was double the quantity of the second, and a fifth which was three times the quantity of the third, and a sixth which was eight times the quantity of the first, and then a seventh portion which was twenty-seven times the quantity of the first. After this, he filled up the double and triple intervals by cutting off further portions from the mixture and inserting them into the gaps, so that in each interval there were two means, a mean that exceeded one of its extremes by the same fraction of the extremes as it was exceeded by the other extreme, and another mean that exceeded one of its extremes by the same number as it was exceeded by the other extreme. These links created, within the first set of intervals, further intervals of 3:2, 4:3, and 9:8, and then he filled up all the 4:3 intervals with the 9:8 interval, leaving in each case a portion, and the portion that remained was an interval whose terms, expressed numerically, were 256 : 243. And so at this point the mixture, from which he was cutting these portions, was all used up.” Plato, “Timaeus”, 23-24/35a-36b.[/note] The mixture is then split into strips, laid out like an X and folded together into two revolving circles, the outer circle — containing “the equal in the form of the movement of the Same” — revolves with the primary movement of the cosmos and is justly named “the revolution of identity” while the inner circle — revolving at an angle to the circle of identity — contains the eight then-known “planets” (including the sun and the moon) along with “what subsists of inequality in the divisible” by distributing it among the planetary orbits, and bears the denomination “the revolution of difference”.[note]Deleuze, Difference and Reptition, 233; Plato, “Timaeus”, 24/36c-d.[/note] This latter grounds the derivation of time.

The Great Symmetrical Cycle

Because it is “the shared task” of the heavenly bodies “to produce time”, a considerable portion of the “Timaeus” is dedicated to a geometrical description of planetary ambulation, offering precise calculations of each planet’s orbit which, when taken together, add up to an internally and externally harmonious totality (each orbit internally relative to the others, and the whole externally relative to the revolution of the circle of identity): the world’s year.[note]Plato, “Timaeus”, 27/38e.[/note] This single, great revolution yields “the perfect number of time” and is marked by the “moment when all the eight revolutions, with their relative speeds, attain completion and regain their starting points”, resetting the cycle of the circle of difference in relation to the circle of identity.[note]Plato, “Timaeus”, 28/39d.[/note] Pre-critical time is thus simply the organisation and rationalisation of a prior, chaotic, spatiality in response to the exigencies of a divine model which exists both outside space and time. A great compass, dividing a cosmic sphere into equal and predictable portions, priming its matter for technological and cultural capture: the seasonal arithmetic that will come to ground agriculture; the compartmentalisation of the day, the week and the year into periods devoted alternatively to the sacred or the profane; the striations of latitude facilitating oceanic navigation, cartography, imperialism, and the proportional fastidiousness of classical architecture and art.

An exclusive disjunction (the abiding feature of monotheistic religion) administrates the distinction between eternity and the cosmos as the ordered structure of secondary appearances. Held apart from the eternal and locked down by matter and movement, this turning according to number is only an auxiliary, fallen ‘image’. A simulation generated and managed by a fully exteriorised and transcendent non-time, which functions as the ultimate measure against which every determinate object falls into a static and immutable hierarchical series whose order can never be shifted, interrogated, or affected by feedback from within. Because it continues to be tethered to a transcendent realm which imposes teleological order, the most generous aberration allowed to time — one “marked by material, meteorological and terrestrial contingencies” — still remains derivative of movement.[note]Deleuze, “On Four Poetic Formulas that might Summarise the Kantian Philosophy”, Essays Clinical and Critical, 27.[/note] ‘Time’ beyond revolution is transcendent, tenseless, authoritative and persistent. The revolving door is therefore a dualistic image of temporality, inserting a gap between the hierarchically organised, oppositional qualities of idea and appearance; unity and variation; identity and difference; indivisibility and divisibility; being and becoming, good and evil, inside and outside — its borders stalked by the constabulary of the laws of thought, and god. It is, as Luce Irigaray tirelessly anatomises in “Plato’s Hystera”, the time — as space — of the Platonic cave, a “theatrical trick” designed to inaugurate the great “circus” of representation via the circular repetition of the same. The cave’s anterior tunnel leads upward into the light.

Upward — this notation indicates from the very start that the Platonic cave functions as an attempt to give an orientation to the reproduction and representation of something that is always already there. […] The orientation functions by turning everything over, by reversing, and by pivoting around axes of symmetry.[note]Luce Irigaray, “Plato’s Hystera” in Speculum of the Other Woman, trans. Gillian C. Gill, (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1985), 244-5. The thing, “always already there in the den” is the matrix or womb, which again, following the injunction of cosmic horror — muted and covered over by the schema of the revolving door — can never quite be shown, seen, or described. Within the realm of representation (or the specular economy) the anteriority of the hystera is displaced and oppositionalised as a posteriority in the image before the men in the cave, generative of a telos which appears linear but is, in fact, cyclical. Linearity hides an exoteric return, which in turn hides an esoteric involution. Mark Fisher and Suzanne Livingston marshall a similar argument to counter Baudrillard’s defeatist reading of seduction in his book of the same name: “Yet what of seduction itself? For as a Process it is far in excess of its writings. For Irigaray, these circles which constantly return to the point at which they first began are not what they appear. For the female zero, vulva, circle never finally closes up in the shape of a ring.” Livingston and Fisher, “Desiring Seduction”,,[/note]

The cardinal points of the compass, or four wings of the door’s turning hinge, exhibit the spatialisation of time inherent to the image. The law of its number is cardinality — quantitative measurement of internally homogenous content — and a representational form of numeracy. Being a sphere, it is intrinsically symmetrical. In this way, space and time are confined to the double homogeneity of extension and simultaneity — to the circus of representational reproduction and its clowns, whose comedy is always enacted in the mode of farce, a repetition that always “falls short” of its model.[note]“According to Marx, repetition is comic when it falls short — that is, when instead of leading to metamorphosis and the production of something new, it forms a kind of involution, the opposite of an authentic creation. Comic travesty replaces tragic metamorphosis. However, it appears that for Marx this comic or grotesque repetition necessarily comes after the tragic, evolutive and creative repetition (‘all great events and historical personages occur, as it were, twice … the first time as tragedy, the second as farce’). This temporal order does not, however, seem to be absolutely justified.” Deleuze, Difference and Repetition, 91-2.[/note] There are, therefore, only “proportions, functions, [and] relations” available inside the simulation that can be referred “back to sameness”.[note]Irigaray, “Plato’s Hystera”, 247; “[The demiurge] endowed each of the gods [the planetary bodies] with two kinds of motion: even rotation in the same place, to enable them always to think the same thoughts about the same things; and forward motion, under the sovereignty of the revolution of identity and sameness.’ Within the teleological account tendered by the Timaeus, to act for the best is to always act in the same manner. Plato, “Timeaus”, 29/40a-b.[/note] And this sameness is at once the model for the beautiful, the truthful, and the good — astronomical rationality providing the exemplar for human aesthetic, epistemological and moral order.


Man, as a rational animal equipped with the ability to observe and understand these relations, is ontologically at home in the universe of the revolving door. Human cognition and sensibility, when exercised correctly, are perfectly resonant with the structure of phenomena. Thought thus naturally inclines towards the law that the demiurge embodies and by extension, to the model from which the universe has been copied. Psychology, cosmology and rationality are bound in cosmic rhyme. This is precisely what the latter part of the Timaeus then turns to, linking the account it has just given of human perception, especially that of sight, to our ability to infer the universal law of the good, the beautiful, and the true, and to reproduce it on a microcosmic level, specifically through the practice of philosophy.[note]“[T]he visibility of day and night, of months and the circling years, of equinoxes and solstices, resulted in the invention of number, gave us the concept of time, and made it possible for us to enquire into the nature of the universe. These in their turn have enabled us to equip ourselves with philosophy in general, and humankind never has, nor ever will be granted by the gods a greater good than philosophy.” Plato, “Timaeus”, 38/47a-47b.[/note] Plato’s cosmos is teleologically assured by the perfection of the demiurge, and opposes both accounts of cosmogenesis more sympathetic to contingency, chance and natural selection (such as those of Empedocles, Leucippus and Democritus, which offer explanations exhibiting an awkward but prescient Darwinism) and the immanent teleology of Aristotle. Revolution thus has a moral content, and Timaeus concludes his account of cosmogenesis by stating that,

since the movements that are naturally akin to our divine part are the thoughts and revolutions of the universe, these are what each of us should be guided by as we attempt to reverse the corruption of the circuits in our heads, that happened around the time of our birth, by studying the harmonies and revolutions of the universe.[note]Plato, “Timaeus”, 96/90c-90d.[/note]

In this way, “we will restore our nature to its original condition” achieving “our goal” of living “now and in the future, the best life that the gods have placed within human reach”.[note]Plato, “Timaeus”, 96/90c-90d.[/note] The importance of sight to the practice of philosophy is insisted upon here because it alone of all the senses provides us with access to the law of number (and by extension, a model of perfect morality) embedded in the rotations of the planets.[note]“[T]he gods invented and supplied us with vision to enable us to observe the rational revolutions of the heavens and to let them affect the revolutions of thought within ourselves (which are naturally akin to those in the heavens, though ours are turbulent while they are calm).” Plato, “Timaeus”, 38/47b.[/note] Vision is thus the most morally-attuned sense, the conduit of goodness and beauty, and the base upon which one can realise the latent harmoniousness of one’s own relation to the universe. These ‘corrupt circuits’ in need of correction reprise the wandering of the planets prior to the ordering of their movements by the demiurge, and not insignificantly, ‘wanderer’ (πλάνης), ‘illusion’, ‘deceit’ or ‘discursivity’ (πλάνη) and ‘planet’ (πλάνητας ἀστήρ — wandering star) all share a similar root in ancient Greek, with Plato using the term ‘planomenon’ (πλανόμενον) elsewhere to mean ‘errant’.[note]αἴτιον πλανόμενον (errant cause). Thanks to Jake Hamilton for this insight and for help with translations from the Greek.[/note] Truth emerges in inverse proportion to the itinerant dithyramb of material insubordination. Timaeus completes the moral lesson of cardinality, vision and aspirational goodness with a warning. Men who live “unmanly or immoral lives” are destined to fall farther down the series of good and perfect beings in harmony with the order of the universe, being “reborn in their next incarnation as women”.[note]Plato, “Timaeus”, 96/91a. Incidentally, the formulation of truth, which lists a short taxonomy of external madnesses as afflictions to thought (“shamelessness, stupidity, mental illness, willingness to lie, or an indifference to truth”) which is otherwise naturally oriented towards its object in @parallaxoptics’ piece, “Exit Accelerationism” exactly reprises the premises of the universe generated through this figure of time — with the “Outside” mapped by a theologically conditioned exclusive disjunction separating a fallen, temporalised interority from a transcendent, perfect exteriority — and the accompanying, dogmatic, image of thought. Thus explicitly anchoring the fundamental axioms of what has come to be known as R/Acc (along with some of its R/Dec variants) in an ancient, theological conception of reality self-consciously at odds with the process of modernisation and capitalistic temporality the term originally (and perhaps more correctly) invoked. It will be seen that R/Acc, in want of a better articulation, disbars itself from any real purchase on the demonic, Lovecraftian imagery it so frequently delights in calling forth, insofar as Lovecraft relates the insurgency of the Old Ones to time. The question the above post dearly wants to answer: “[H]ow to access, or conceive of this [non-human] intelligence? What is its relationship to human spacetime?” is not discoverable by venturing outside the Platonic cave (as it advises), but rather, by boring deeper into the cave and its illusions, unearthing an altogether different model of truth and an alien conception of time. The only way out is in. The inward trajectory of this limit defining outside from in occurs in several steps, which the following parts of this essay will attempt to bring — darkly — to light.[/note]

The return to sameness, finally, ensures that the universe will not degrade or dissolve of its own accord. While “the model exists for all eternity”, “the universe was and is and always will be for all time”, unless the demiurge explicitly wishes it to be so (“anything created by me is imperishable unless I will it”); so long as the world remains in harmony, this dissolution will not occur — a threat monotheism will make much of in the epochs to come.[note]Plato, “Timaeus”, 26/38c, 30/41a, 18/29e. Italics added.[/note] Hence the biblical prophecies of apocalypse such as that which suggests that when the day arrives, the heavens will depart “as a scroll when it is rolled together”, inflected back into the curved palm of its god.[note]The Bible, King James Version, Revelation 6:13-15.[/note] Broadened beyond its exemplary delineation in the “Timaeus”, the revolving door thus becomes a cipher for temporal dualisms in general. Truth is located in a lost transcendence (the indivisible, god, eternity), obtainable only at a delay via religion or via the work of philosophical contemplation shepherded by vision — the decanting of a priori knowledge from empirical experience, which prior to Kant, denoted a separate and transcendent ideality. If there is knowledge of this fallenness and of the perfection of that other realm inside that of the world of motion and change, this can only be so because ‘man’ is made in the image of a god, or has forgotten something he once knew.[note]Plato, “Meno” in Plato: The Collected Dialogues, eds. Edith Hamilton and Huntington Cairns (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1961), especially 363-374.[/note] Thought is inherently linked with its ground via an internal isomorphism — a rhyme — acting as the guarantor of its intuitions of damnation and error, whose causes are always external. Its correlative subject is moral or epistemological: the theologian or the philosopher, compelled to discover the realm of essences behind the veil of appearances.

There is, as there always is, a sexual difference attached to the dualism. Historically, the material, fallen aspect of time-as-variation is feminised, secondary, and passive. Timaeus calls it the “receptacle”, “the mother”, “the nurse and the nurturer of the universe” and characterises it via all the emblems of lack: it is “altogether characterless”, a bare medium for the production of formed elements; passive (“it only ever acts as the receptacle for everything”); it operates through mimicry (“[i]ts nature is to … be modified and altered by the things that enter it, with the result that it appears different at different times”) having no nature of its own, and is “difficult” and “obscure”, while the creative force untouched by temporality — that which energises representation as a condition of the feminised matter it circumscribes — is primary, active, de-substantialised, and masculine.[note]Plato, “Timaeus”, 40/49a, 43/51a, 90/88d, 43/50e, 42/50b, 50c/42, 49a/40. Philosophically, the receptacle is graspable only by “a bastard kind of reasoning” and is something like what one apprehends in a dream (25b/45). The sexualised nature of the dualism is both the target and the weapon that annihilates it in Irigaray’s “Plato’s Hystera”.[/note] “It would not be out of place to compare the receptacle to a mother, the source to a father, and what they create between them to a child.”[note]Plato, “Timaeus”, 50d/40.[/note] Is there a neater epithet to describe the age-old pact between reproduction and representation?

Sensible, material, and bound in harmonious relation to a transcendent non-time, pre-critical temporality is irrevocably secondary and modal. The time of the revolving door is a mode of eternity, the essential structure of which appears to us as a succession of moments — extensive, cardinal, homogenous — arranged in a cyclical repetition of the same, with a spatial line delimiting outside from inside.[note]Space, too — as coexistence or simultaneity — is just another mode, coexistence and simultaneity graspable only as arrangements, erratic or ordered, relative to the positing of eternity. As well as the specific schema of the “Timaeus and a figure denoting fundamental aspects of monotheism, the revolving door also extends to index a prevalent trend in pre-Kantian philosophy applicable to rationalist thinkers such as Leibniz, who deems space and time to be modal expressions of an infinite, conceptual intellect, confusedly perceived by finite minds (monads). “I have said more than once that I hold space to be something purely relative, as time is — that I hold it to be an order of coexistences, as time is an order of successions. For space denotes, in terms of possibility, an order of things that exist at the same time, considered as existing together, without entering into their particular manners of existing. And when many things are seen together, one consciously perceives this order of things among themselves.” Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz and Samuel Clarke, Correspondence, ed. Roger Ariew (Cambridge: Hackett, 2000), 15.[/note] As Deleuze puts it, “all the time of antiquity is marked by a modal character … time is a mode and not a being, no more than number is a being. Number is a mode in relation to what it quantifies, in the same way that time is a mode in relation to what it measures”.[note]Deleuze, “Untitled lecture 21/3/1978”, Les cours de Gilles Deleuze,[/note] In a world for which time is a mere, cardinalised image of the eternal, held apart from it in a relation of exclusive disjunction, administered by a god, all experience is that of a subject condemned to reckon, neurotically, with its originary imperfection. The great line demarcating outside from inside assigns interiority to time and exteriority to the non-time of eternity via a spatial horizon. A definitionally beautiful misconception of the topology of time, but a misconception nonetheless.[note]“We have misconceived the topology of time, and in doing so closed the gates connecting time with eternity. The recovery from this greatest of errors will sift the strong from the weak, setting the capstone of the ‘Great Politics’ that open at the end of nihilism. Eventually, the philosophy of time will decide.” Nick Land, “Nietzschean Shards”, Outside In,[/note]

Straight Labyrinth I: The Time of Economists and Poets

The circle must be abandoned as a faulty principle of return; we must abandon our tendency to organize everything into a sphere. All things return on the straight and narrow by way of a straight and labyrinthine line.[note]Michel Foucault, “Theatrum Philosophicum”, Language, Counter-Memory, Practice: Selected Essays and Interviews, ed. Donald F. Bouchard (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1977), 166.[/note]

‘Rectifying’ the celestial or meteorological temporality of the revolving door, the figure of time expressed in the straight labyrinth emerges in Deleuze’s various accounts as “the time of the city” and also that of the “desert”.[note]“Time is no longer the cosmic time of an original celestial movement, nor is it the rural time of derived meteorological movements. It has become the time of the city and nothing other, the pure order of time.” Deleuze, “On four Poetic Formulas that Might Summarise the Kantian Philosophy”, 28; “And time will be this sort of form which is also pure, and this kind of act by which the world empties itself, becomes a desert.” Deleuze, “Synthèse et temps 14/3/1978”,[/note] The subordination of time to space and motion dissolves into the contentless, temporal determination of the empirical by an immanent yet abstract process. Deleuze notes that Kant was able to apprehend this due to his historical and geographical situation — virtually immobilised in his Königsberg study, yet sensitive to subterranean tremors — deep in the heart of Europe during the ignition of modern industrialisation. There is an embedded double reference to capitalist temporality, brought to light by Marx’s statement in the Grundrisse, that

Capital by its nature drives beyond every spatial barrier. Thus the creation of the physical conditions of exchange — of the means of communication and transport — the annihilation of space by time — becomes an extraordinary necessity for it …

and to Friedrich Hölderlin’s “Notes on the Oedipus”, leading Deleuze to state that “it is correct to claim that neither Fichte nor Hegel is the descendent of Kant — rather it is Hölderlin, who discovers the emptiness of pure time”.[note]Karl Marx, Grundrisse, Notebook V, Italics added.; Friedrich Hölderlin, “Notes on the Oedipus” in Essays and Letters, trans. Jeremy Adler and Charlie Louth (London: Penguin, 2009), e-book; Deleuze, Difference and Repetition, 87.[/note] If the industrial city is also a desert, it is the Athenian desert of the Sophoclean tragedies, for, as Hölderlin writes, Oedipus is remarkable in its uniquely modern conception of the genre, in which “God and man communicate in the all-forgetting form of unfaithfulness”.[note]Hölderlin, “Notes on the Oedipus”, §3.[/note] Oedipus, like the subject of the First Critique,

forgets both himself and the God and, in a sacred manner, of course, turns himself round like a traitor. For at the most extreme edge of suffering, nothing exists beside the conditions of time or space. Man forgets himself there because he is wholly in the moment; and God, because he is nothing else than time. And both are unfaithful: time, because at such a moment it reverses categorically — beginning and end simply cannot be connected; and man, because at this moment he must follow the categorical reversal, and therefore simply cannot be in the following what he was in the beginning.[note]Hölderlin, “Notes on the Oedipus”, §3. The reversal is that of the ‘caesura’ (see the following), which marks an inversion of “the striving out of this world into a striving out of another world into this one”. Friedrich Hölderlin, “Notes on the Antigone” in Essays and Letters, trans. and ed. Jeremy Adler and Charlie Louth (London: Penguin, 2009), e-book, §2. Thanks to Thomas Murphy for his insight regarding this problem of temporality in Difference and Repetition and for catalysing the magmic inclusion of Hölderlin in this essay.[/note]

Hölderlin’s identification of a ‘categorical reversal’ in the dual turning-away of god and man is taken up by Deleuze as the mark that indicates a historical transition in the schemata of time, and in turn, the relation this reversal installs between the two sides of the disjunctive couple. With the figure of Oedipus, the initial shift from the temporality of the revolving door to that of the straight labyrinth is consecrated, and — following Hölderlin’s interpretation — coincides with a truly modern sense of time, a time that is inherently tragic, but in an unprecedented way. While Plato’s arc of integrated planetary motion is always returning — like the great cyclical tragedies of Aeschylus — to a state of equilibrium, ending where it began, Hölderlin’s Oedipus is “traversed by a straight line which tears him along” with “murderous slowness” towards an enigmatic dissolution at an unknown coordinate in the shifting desert sands: and “Towards what? Nothing”.[note]Deleuze, “Untitled lecture 21/3/1978”, Les cours de Gilles Deleuze,, translation modified; “[L]a tragédie d’Œdipe est dans sa lenteur meurtrissante presqu’une tragédie moderne.” Jean Beaufret, “Hölderlin et Sophocle” in Friedrich Hölderlin, Remarques sur Oedipe, Remarques sur Antigone (Paris: Union Générale d’Editions, 1965), 50. The above, and all following translations of Beaufret’s untranslated text are my own; Deleuze, “Untitled lecture 21/3/1978”, Les cours de Gilles Deleuze,

Oedipus’ demise holds significant parallels to Empedocles’ dissolution in the volcano that forms the crux of Hölderlin’s unfinished tragedy, The Death of Empedocles, which he had abandoned just prior to writing “Notes on the Oedipus“, and these latter are generally understood to be the completion of the inchoate theory of tragedy advanced in the Empedocles texts. Empedocles’ volcanic dissolution haunts the whole of modern tragedy, and Hölderlin’s own struggle with the infinity it called up in his writing will become more than just the personal struggle of an alienated and ambitious poet in the history of dramatic thought. See Friedrich Hölderlin, The Death of Empedocles: A Mourning-Play, trans. David Farrell Krell (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2008).[/note] The distinction between ancient and modern tragic forms — and elsewhere, between farce and tragedy — is determined by the placement of the limit with which the hero interacts. In the ancient conception of the genre, tragedy conforms to the exclusive disjunction operating under the aegis of the gods. The limit with which the hero comes into conflict is external, manifested in a law that is then transgressed by some excessive act for which the hero must atone, triggering a return to order.[note]“Sophoclean tragedy, for Hölderlin, is not the tragedy of Aeschylus or Euripides. It is the singular tragedy of divine withdrawal. Everything that is tragic in Sophocles enciphers the fact that the frontier between man and God has become enigmatic. Thus it is different from the tragedy of Aeschylus, for whom the limit is hardly an enigma. Here [in Aeschylus], man surpasses the limit, and often does so despite the counsel of the gods. […] Tragic action is thus the history of a return to order which demands the violation of a limit.” Beaufret, “Hölderlin et Sophocle”, 15-16. In farce, it is the clown’s inability to reach the limit (which is clearly defined by what has gone before) — and thus to perform his or her acts adequately — that subtends the relation between agent and limit as both Marx and Deleuze will define it. Farce begets only an inferior representation, rather than a real alteration. See note 21 above.[/note] Deleuze sees in this cycle of limit, transgression and return, a perfect isomorphism with the schema of the revolving door.

[T]his tragic time is modelled on astronomical time since in astronomical time you have the sphere of fixed points which is precisely the sphere of perfect limitation, you have the planets and the movements of the planets which, in a certain way, break through the limit, then you have the atonement, which is to say the re-establishment of justice since the planets find themselves in the same position again.[note]Deleuze, “Untitled lecture 21/3/1978”, Les cours de Gilles Deleuze,; See note 43.[/note]

The cycle is reinforced by the act of transgression, harmony is reinstated between the realm of the gods and the realm of men, and we know in advance the lesson that will be learned.[note]In Aeschylus’ Agamemnon, for example, “Agamemnon has hardly entered his palace before Cassandra sees, as if through the walls, the exact course the crime will take, and predicts the return of Orestes. But here, the clamour of the prophetic voice does not carry the significance of the ‘caesura’. Rather, it confirms only what was already expected. […] In the triumphant king who descends from his chariot to tread the blood-red carpet Clytemnestra unfurls beneath his feet, we have already recognised the figure of one who is sentenced to death. There is nothing more Aeschylean than a tragic act prefaced by the words ‘It is done’ — before having even begun. Everything unfolds from one end to the other, right up to the exoneration of Orestes by the tribunal of the Eumenides, without a ‘lacuna’, certainly, but also without a ‘caesura’. Such is the march of a destiny that does not cease to subsume everything into its most precise image from the point of an initial transgression.” Beaufret, “Hölderlin et Sophocle”, 31-2.[/note] But something different happens for Oedipus. The limit he encounters is no longer external, having shifted simultaneously closer and further away — the threshold dividing gods from men, and time from space, is both interior to Oedipus and beyond him — it has become “enigmatic”.[note]“Oedipus, the most economical formula of interiorisation (Case). It’s all in your head.” Ccru, “Flatlines” in Ccru: Writings 1997-2003 (Falmouth, Urbanomic, 2017), (:)(:)(:)::/108. Aeschylus and Euripides may “understand better how to objectify suffering and anger”, but it is Sophocles who truly grasps “the sense [sens] of man, in his voyage towards the unthinkable.”; Hölderlin, Remarques sur Oedipe, Remarques sur Antigone, quoted by Beaufret in “Hölderlin et Sophocle’, 16.[/note] It cleaves him in two and drives him towards an infinity that rises up to meet him in an “all-forgetting form of unfaithfulness”, annihilating him at Colonus whilst looping him back upon himself.[note]Hölderlin, “Notes on the Oedipus”, §3.[/note] Following Hölderlin’s idiosyncratic, Kantian reading of the text, the Sophoclean tragedy is condensed into an infernal play of diversion and re-orientation as Oedipus is forced to confront himself in the form of an infinite self-displacing horizon which draws him across the deflated denouement of King Oedipus and into the relentless modern desert of Oedipus at Colonus.[note] The bulk of French and German commentary on Hölderlin’s interpretations of Sophocles read Hölderlin’s work as a subversion of Hegelian self-consciousness, despite the former’s alleged youthful participation in “The Oldest Program toward a System in German Idealism” alongside Hegel himself. See Kathrin H. Rosenfield, “Le conflit tragique chez Sophocle et son interprétation chez Hölderlin et Hegel”, Les Études philosophiques, 77:2 (2006), 141-161, for a survey of this difference.

This essay follows the former tendency, which is consonant with Deleuze’s own approach. See, for an example beyond those given in Difference and Repetition and “On Four Poetic Formulas that Might Summarise the Kantian Philosophy”, Nietzsche and Philosophy, where Deleuze writes, “Dialectics in general are not a tragic vision of the world but, on the contrary, the death of tragedy, the replacement of the tragic vision by a theoretical conception (with Socrates) or a Christian conception (with Hegel). What has been discovered in Hegel’s early writings is in fact the final truth of the dialectic: modern dialectic is the truly Christian ideology”. This bears heavily on his readings of tragedy and farce in Marx. Gilles Deleuze, Nietzsche and Philosophy, trans. Hugh Tomlinson (New York: University of Columbia Press, 1983), 18. This is also Beaufret’s approach (see Beaufret, ‘Hölderlin et Sophocle’, 38) and is supported by more recent commentaries in English, including (but not limited to) that of Véronique M. Fóti, who writes “whereas Hegel situates tragedy, or tragic conflict and its resolution, within ethicality (Sittlichkeit, as a surpassed self-actualization of spirit), Hölderlin decisively withdraws it from the ethical domain. … The twisting free of tragedy from the grip of Hegelian ethicality does not mean that the concerns normally classed as ethical are cast to the winds … but rather that they are resituated against a vaster horizon — the horizon, perhaps, of what lies ‘beyond good and evil’, of the dispropriative trait in the propriative event (Ereignis), or of the tragic structure in the instauration and despoilment of hegemonic principles. […] [F]or Hegel, reconciliation remains the guiding aim of tragedy and defines its cathartic work, the late Hölderlin sees ultimate reconciliation — the reconciliation of man with divinity — not as the ideal of a differential interrelation, but as a hybristic union, destructive of the singular, and motivated by ‘eccentric enthusiasm’, which is fundamentally a passion for death. The cathartic work of tragedy therefore becomes for him a work of dispersive separation”. Epochal Discordance: Hölderlin’s Philosophy of Tragedy (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2006) 2-3; Henry Somers-Hall, for whom Hegel’s privileging of ethical action cleaves too closely to ancient conceptions of drama and fails to see the novelty in Hölderlin’s reading, “Time Out of Joint: Hamlet and the Pure Form of Time”, Deleuze Studies, Volume 5 (2011), 64-7; and David Farrell Krell, who wrests Hölderlin from the grip of German Idealism via the notion of intensity in Friedrich Hölderlin, The Death of Empedocles: A Mourning-Play, especially 304-6.[/note]

Oedipus’ time is no longer the cyclical time of return to a founding order, but a simple, straight line which complicates everything. The limit manifests both as a temporal fracture interior to Oedipus’ vexed subjectivity and a point to which he tends — “the gap of an in-between, which occasions, finally, a loss of self”.[note]Beaufret, “Hölderlin et Sophocle”, 16.[/note] There is no atonement for Oedipus, although there is a tribunal — and a crime. He is not subject to a hero’s death, only a long and desolate exile (a little too long to be comfortable) to which he voluntarily submits in the absence of divine directive.[note]“OEDIPUS: Cast me away this instant
Out of this land, out of the sight of man.
CREON: Be sure it would have been done without delay,
But that I await instruction from the god. […]
OEDIPUS: I have your promise, then?
CREON: What promise?
OEDIPUS: To send me away.
CREON: God will decide, not I.
OEDIPUS: No god will speak for me.
CREON: Then you will have your wish.
OEDIPUS: And your consent?
CREON: I do not speak beyond my knowledge.”
Sophocles, King Oedipus in The Theban Plays, trans. E. F. Watling (London: Penguin, 1974), 65; 67-8.[/note] Thus Oedipus “turns himself round like a traitor”, but in a sacred manner — the trial becoming what Jean Beaufret (the Hölderlin commentator Deleuze draws most visibly on besides a few cursory gestures towards Heidegger, who he cites laconically in Difference and Repetition and the lectures on Kant), names both a “heresy” and an “initiation” — and is “returned to himself” in two ways.[note]Hölderlin, “Notes on the Oedipus”, §3. Italics added. Beaufret, “Hölderlin et Sophocle”, 50; 53. Beaufret’s untranslated commentary is drawn upon repeatedly by Deleuze in his evocations of Hölderlin in Difference and Repetition, and its influence is heavily apparent in Deleuze’s 1978 lectures on Kant (if not also elsewhere, “On Several Regimes of Signs” in A Thousand Plateaus being one site that bears the mark of its impact). Deleuze’s circumlocutionary references to Heidegger’s reading of Hölderlin can be found in Difference and Repetition, 32 (note 4), and Deleuze, “Untitled lecture 21/3/1978”, Les cours de Gilles Deleuze, and in A Thousand Plateaus, 138.

“A trial for heresy” is taken from “Notes on the Oedipus”, §3. Beaufret explains that a heretic, for Hölderlin, is one “who aorgically and without mediation attempts to seize the very essence of the divine”. “Hölderlin et Sophocle”, 50. The ‘aorgic’ is a term of Hölderlin’s own making, and it is deployed to encipher the effusive, infinite, disordered and discordant power of Nature in opposition to the structured, finite and organising principles of Art — or the ‘organic’ — in the context of his theory of tragedy. The aorgic is closely linked to the dissociative experience of panic by Beaufret and related to the “passion for death” by Fóti who writes that, “ever hostile to man”, the aorgic “manifests [an] ambiguous aspect: although it may appear welcoming and life-sustaining, it is an alien and unfathomable power that — for all the effort to conceal it behind the screens of cultural and intellectual constructs — fatally attracts sensitive individuals. Somewhat like the Freudian death drive, it impels the individual toward dissolution or a return to the unformed. Hölderlin relates the aorgic element to the unconscious (or, perhaps, nonconscious) dynamics of the psyche, which means that it now infiltrates the supposed organicism of subjectivity, eroding its boundaries and affecting it with alterity”. Fóti, Epochal Discordance: Hölderlin’s Theory of Tragedy, 21; 61; 47. The organic and the aorgic “inter-penetrate most profoundly and touch one another in their uttermost extremes” in a manner not dissimilar to Nietzsche’s formulation of tragedy with its opposition of Dionysian and Apollonian impulses — their unification bringing about an epochal transition that gestures towards a “still inchoate world to come”. Hölderlin, ‘The Basis of Empedocles” in The Death of Empedocles, 147; Krell, The Death of Empedocles, 170.

In his notes to the Empedocles manuscript, Hölderlin drew a number of diagrams meant to evoke this unification. Krell reproduces them in his translation of the play, accompanied by the following caption:

Holderlin Aorgic-Organic Union/Dispersion Diagram

“The one on the left refers to the dispersion from the midpoint undergone by both art (the organizational) and nature (the more aorgic), a dispersion that occurs in the most radical enmity … while the one on the right tries to demonstrate some sort of higher unification or reconciliation of the two”. (Krell, The Death of Empedocles, 257-8.)

Hölderlin thus saw aorgic infinity as the necessary corrective to contemporary Germanic tendencies, which overemphasised the organic, organisational power of Art and culture, whilst, for the Greeks who naturally overstated the aorgic at the expense of the organic, the attraction of dissolution and excess was “especially danger-fraught because it destroys the protective lucidity and measure that Greece had cultivated, unleashing the full wildness of the fiery, aorgic element. Since the Hesperian formative drive tends toward this very fire and sense of destiny, the Greek dys-limitation constitutes for Hesperia a warning example which holds it back from following the sheer onrush of its own formative drive”. Fóti concludes this part of her analysis with a comment which presages and (according to Hölderlin’s identification of the orgic as the primary Germanic drive) inverts certain passages of A Thousand Plateaus with its warnings against the “fourth danger” of the line of flight — the pure line of abolition and destruction: “One can reflect here on what it may have meant — beyond Hölderlin’s historical horizon — for twentieth-century Germany to maximise the tendency of its cultural formative drive in a quest for grandeur and a sense of destiny, while neglecting the free and creative (rather than obsessive or servile) cultivation of its natal tendency to lucid ordering. It remains, of course, a consummate historical irony that Hölderlin’s thought and art were themselves (without benefit of attentive explication) annexed and exploited by the Third Reich”. Foti, Epochal Discordance: Hölderlin’s Theory of Tragedy, 82. Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 252-5.

Finally, the aorgic seems to appear as the ‘orgiastic’ in Difference and Repetition, (Holderlin’s ‘aorgique’, from Beaufret’s French translation, becoming ‘orgique’ in Deleuze’s original French) and is similarly opposed to the ‘organic’. To wit: “When representation discovers the infinite within itself, it no longer appears as organic representation but as orgiastic representation: it discovers within itself the limits of the organised; tumult, restlessness and passion underneath apparent calm. It rediscovers monstrosity.” And, significantly, from the conclusion, “The greatest effort of philosophy was perhaps directed at rendering representation infinite (orgiastic). It is a question of extending representation as far as the too large and the too small of difference; of adding a hitherto unsuspected perspective to representation — in other words, inventing theological, scientific and aesthetic techniques which allow it to integrate the depth of difference in itself; of allowing representation to conquer the obscure; of allowing it to include the vanishing of difference which is too small and the dismemberment of difference which is too large; of allowing it to capture the power of giddiness, intoxication and cruelty, and even of death. In short, it is a question of causing a little of Dionysus’s blood to flow in the organic veins of Apollo”. Difference and Repetition, 42; 262.[/note] First, in terms of the mythic narrative, as the cause of himself (Oedipus is the cause of the plague that causes Oedipus) and more enigmatically at the terminus of his abstractly interminable wanderings, where he ‘returns’ in such a way that he can no longer be what he was in the beginning.

When the god who “is nothing more than time”, finally, and not without an irony that is unique to Hölderlin’s translation (“Why are we delaying? Let’s go! You are too slow!”), enables his demise, we are denied the catharsis that typically accompanies the spectacle of the hero’s death.[note]Quoted by Beaufret, “Hölderlin et Sophocle”, 50.[/note] “What happened?” implores the chorus of the small party that has accompanied Oedipus to the threshold beyond which only he and Theseus are allowed to pass.[note]Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus, in The Theban Plays, trans. E. F. Watling (London: Penguin, 1974), 121.[/note] The response is a brief and integrally obscure report.[note]“MESSANGER: When we had gone a little distance, we turned and looked back. Oedipus was nowhere to be seen; but [Theseus] was standing alone holding his hand before his eyes as if he had seen some terrible sight that no one could bear to look upon; and soon we saw him salute heaven and the earth with one short prayer. In what manner Oedipus passed from this earth, no one can tell.” Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus, 121.[/note] It is speculated that Oedipus has vanished into “the earth’s foundations” which “gently opened up and received him with no pain” or was “lifted away to the far dark shore” by “a swift invisible hand”, the prolonged arrival of his death heralded by thunder and strange surges of lightning, illuminating, briefly, the hidden diagonal that haunts the in-between of sky and ground, the realm of the gods and the realm of men.[note]Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus, 121.[/note] In the cracks of the Kantian machinery a different disjunction momentarily rears its faceless mien, whilst at the end of the line, “death loses itself in itself” and Oedipus, “having nothing left to hide” becomes “the guardian of a secret”.[note]Deleuze, The Logic of Sense, 174; Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 320; Deleuze, Difference and Repetition, 90.[/note] Between these two returns, the modern tragic figure is split across time both intensively and extensively as its own internal and external limit and source. The Sophoclean line does not restore a temporality of lost equilibrium, as is the rule in classical tragedy, but ends unresolved, internally perturbed, and terminally out of balance.

Shamanic Oedipus

Oedipus plays an ambivalent role in Deleuze’s writing. Like the shaman and the despot he is always double.[note]“Oedipus is almost unique in the Greek world. The whole first part is imperial, despotic, paranoid, interpretive, divinatory. But the whole second part is Oedipus’s wandering, his line of flight, the double turning away of his own face and that of God. Rather than very precise limits to be crossed in order, or which one does not have the right to cross (hybris), there is a concealed limit toward which Oedipus is swept. Rather than interpretive signifying irradiation, there is a subjective linear proceeding permitting Oedipus to keep a secret, but only as a residue capable of starting a new linear proceeding. Oedipus, his name is atheos: he invents something worse than death or exile, he wanders and survives on a strangely positive line of separation or deterritorialization.” Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 138.

For the ambiguity inherent in the role of the despot, see Deleuze and Guattari, Anti-Oedipus, trans. Robert Hurley, Mark Seem and Helen R. Lane (London: Penguin, 2009). Thanks are due to Edmund Berger for the many conversations we shared concerning this point, particularly on the relationship between Oedipus and Cain as scapegoat figures in the fifth plateau of A Thousand Plateaus. This is a reading supported by Ronald Bogue in “The Betrayal of God”, Deleuze and Religion, ed. Mary Bryden (London: Routledge, 2000). Ed is also responsible for providing the references making the link between schizophrenia and shamanism in Anti-Oedipus and R.D. Laing’s work explicit below.[/note] Carlo Ginzberg makes the connection between shamanic practices and the Oedipus myth explicit in Ecstasies — his trans-temporal, trans-spatial study of the witches’ sabbath — where he finds in the motif of the swollen foot (which gives Oedipus his name) the mytho-cultural stamp of the shamanic initiate whose journey leads inexorably to the realm of the dead.[note]“We may suppose that in the most ancient version of the myth of Oedipus (identified as we have indicated, with a fable about magic) the wound to the feet, the exposure, the period spent on the margins of the world of the polis on the wild heights of Mount Cithaeron, the struggle with the Sphinx — later mitigated by the solution of the riddle — marked the stages of an initiatory journey to the beyond.” Carlo Ginzberg, Ecstasies: Deciphering the Witches’ Sabbath, trans. Raymond Rosenthal (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991), 228.[/note] Oedipus incarnates, as such, the mythical archetype of the dying god, which links him enigmatically with Christ and Dionysus.[note]Ginzberg, Ecstasies, 237-8. See also James George Frazer, The Golden Bough (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), 396-404.[/note] Moreover, the persistence of lameness, monosandalism, bodily maiming, or an unbalanced gait among the vast swathe of myths and cultural practices included in Ginzberg’s study reveals a fundamental trait attributable to all beings who, like Oedipus, are “suspended between the realm of the dead and the realm of the living”: “Anyone who goes to or returns from the nether world — man, animal, or a mixture of the two — is marked by an asymmetry.”[note]Ginzberg, Ecstasies, 232; 247.[/note] This asymmetry, at once abstract and empirical, is measured against a perceived natural symmetry that keeps the social realm in harmony with the circular world of revolving seasons and astronomical cycles — coordinates that return the cycle to its beginning. “The trans-cultural diffusion of myths and rituals revolving around physiological asymmetry”, writes Ginzberg, “most probably sinks its psychological roots in this minimal, elementary perception that the human species has of itself”, namely the “recognition of symmetry as a characteristic of human beings”. Thus, “[a]nything that modifies this image on a literary or metaphorical plane therefore seems particularly suited to express an experience that exceeds the limits of what is human”.[note]Ginzberg, Ecstasies, 241-2. See also Tom Moynihan’s excellent comments on the connection between bilateral symmetry and faciality in evolution, “The Gastrulation of Geist: or an Extended Meditation upon the World-Historical Connection Between Digestion and Simulation”, Vast Abrupt (2018),[/note] Mythical lameness symbolises an otherworldly incursion, a problematic asymmetry that intrudes upon a so-called natural humanity and opens a passage between worlds.

Ginzberg also notes in passing (although only to point out what he considers a superficial reading indebted to an overly synchronic methodology) Levi-Strauss’ connection of symbolic lameness to the passage of the seasons, where it features as part of a dance-based ritual performed to truncate a particular season and accelerate the passage to the next, offering a “perfect diagram” of the hoped-for imbalance.[note]Ginzberg, Ecstasies, 226; 239.[/note] If Ginzberg is warranted in discounting Levi-Strauss’ hypothesis, perhaps this is not because it is wholly incorrect so much as an interpretation that is limited insofar as it remains indebted to a particular conception of time among its proponents. Ritual or symbolic lameness grasped as a spell for accelerating the seasonal series acts as a superficial interpretation covering over a deeper one, operating within an altogether different understanding of time. One glimpsed beneath the esotericism of Deleuze’s statement that the “ego is a mask for other masks, a disguise under other disguises. Indistinguishable from its own clowns, it walks with a limp on one green leg and one red leg”.[note]Deleuze, Difference and Repetition, 110. The source of the strange attribution of green and red to the “legs” in the image can most likely be exhumed from Salomon Maimon’s critique of Kant in the Essay on Transcendental Philosophy, where the origin of the difference between perceptions of the colours green and red resurfaces consistently as problem troubling Kant’s attempts to extract de jure principles for experience, and is ultimately marshalled in support of an argument that a philosophy concerned only with the conditions of possible experience does not go far enough when it comes to questions of transcendental production. Salomon Maimon, Essay on Transcendental Philosophy, trans. Nick Midgely, Henry Somers-Hall, Alistair Welchman and Merten Reglitz (London: Continuum, 2010), see for example, 22; 27-8; 74; 97-8.[/note] Read through these subterranean lines which knit it into a complex cultural history of shamanic tropes and practices, Oedipus’ swollen foot condenses time compression, an initiation preceding a journey to the realm of the dead and a fundamental disequilibrium, and thereby acts as a cipher for the key aspects of the Sophoclean tragedy in Hölderlin’s interpretation and the schematic shift from the revolving door to the straight labyrinth.

In “Notes on the Oedipus” and “Notes on the Antigone”, Hölderlin proposes a reading that can be extrapolated from a “calculable law” opposing a discursive logic embedded in history, judgement and the mundane affairs of the human world, with an obscure notion of rhythm.[note]Hölderlin, “Notes on the Oedipus”, Essays and Letters, §1.[/note] The idiosyncrasy of his reading arises from an attempt to affirm the realist paradigm (grounded in scientific and historical validity) that dominated early German Romanticism alongside an unnameable and unrepresentable “efficacity”, located in “another dimension […] beyond and below” conceptual thought, which he believed characterised the tragic in its essence.[note]Arkady Plotinsky, “The Calculable Law of Tragic Representation and the Unthinkable” in At the Edges of Thought: Deleuze and Post-Kantian Philosophy (Edinburgh: Edinbugh University Press, 2015), 130; Kathrin H. Rosenfield, “Hölderlin et Sophocle: Rythme et temps tragique dans les Remarques sur Œdipe et Antigone”, Philosophique, 11: 2008, 20. This and all following translations from the text are my own.[/note] The aim of the law was to make this obscure element momentarily graspable — not as something represented, but as the form of representation itself — a momentary “inspiration” that “comprehends itself infinitely … in a consciousness which cancels out consciousness”.[note]Hölderlin, “Notes on the Antigone”, Essays and Letters, §2.[/note] As Beaufret frequently reminds his readers, the influence of Kant on the young poet is difficult to miss, and is particularly apparent when Hölderlin writes, for example, “[a]mong men, one must above all bear in mind that every thing is something, i.e. that it is cognisable in the medium of its appearance, and that the manner in which it is defined can be determined and taught”.[note]Hölderlin, “Notes on the Oedipus”, Essays and Letters, §1.[/note] Applied to the two Oedipus plays, taken together as a single drama, this yields an analysis in which a rhythmic distribution of the dialogue becomes diagrammable as a speed differential broken by a caesura corresponding to the prophecy of Tiresias. In contrast to Antigone where the structure is inverted (Tiresias’ prophecy being withheld until the end), the caesura in the Oedipus plays occurs early in the drama, countering a momentum which “inclines … from the end towards the beginning”.[note]“[I]f this rhythm of ideas is so constituted that in the rapidity of enthusiasm the former are more torn along by the later ones, the caesura (a), or the counter-rhythmical interruption, must lie from the front, so that the first half is, as it were, shielded from the second; and then, precisely because the second half is initially more rapid and seems to weigh more heavily, as a result of the caesura’s counter-action the balance will tend to incline from the end (b) towards the beginning (c). If, however, the rhythm of ideas is so constituted that the following are, rather, compressed by the initial ones, the caesura (a) will come to lie more towards the end, because it is the end which must, as it were, be shielded from the beginning; and then the balance will incline more towards the end (b), since the first half (c) extends further, but the balance sets in later.” Hölderlin, “Notes on the Antigone”, Essays and Letters, §1. Hölderlin’s diagrams are reproduced above.[/note]

Caesura Diagram Black
Hölderlin’s rhythmic diagrams of Oedipus and Antigone. Note that the notational progression from a (caesura), to b (end), and c (beginning) implies that the caesura is logically prior to the two points given in successive time.

By the time Tiresias speaks the “pure word” that reveals to Oedipus the truth of his identity everything of significance has already taken place, and the drama is supplied by Oedipus’ apprehension and acceptance of his fate, dragged along by the line of time, in which he learns to become who he is by becoming something else (as the cause of himself he is also the cause of a difference from himself).[note]Hölderlin, “Notes on the Oedipus”, §1. In contrast, Antigone, singled out by Hegel as the crucial specimen in the Athenian trilogy and from which he draws a dialectical, ethical lesson, has a more straightforward narrative structure, inclining from “the beginning towards the end”, its caesura arising intelligibly at the end of the play (when Tiresias advises Creon to allow the interment of Polynices).

Hölderlin, in an earlier essay, relates the tragic heroism of Antigone to the lyric mood in its privileging of the subjective, cultural and “organic” side of the division between the gods and man, while that of Oedipus is more thoroughly tragic, privileging the objective, natural and “aorgic” side of the divide — its law proceeding from the “necessary arbitrariness of Zeus”, “father of time” divine avatar of the rift in the unity of being. Hölderlin, “Notes on the Antigone”, §1; Friedrich Hölderlin, “The lyric, in appearance idealic poem …” in Letters and Essays, trans. Jeremy Adler and Charlie Louth (London: Penguin, 2009), e-book. Antigone is also classed as the “more Greek” of the two because of the swift incarnation of time as death, whilst the death of Oedipus is maximally prolonged, and in this, “modern”. “For this is the tragic thing about us [moderns], that we should quietly leave the world of the living, packaged in a simple box. Such a destiny is not so imposing, but it is deeper.” Beaufret, “Hölderlin et Sophocle”, 49; 22. See note 48 on the rejection of Hegelianism in Hölderlin’s readings.[/note] The narrative is, incidentally, structured like a modern detective story, in which one begins by asking ‘What happened?’.[note]And Deleuze will write in “The Philosophy of Crime Novels” that “[w]hile Oedipus is the only Greek tragedy that already has this detective structure, we should marvel that Sophocles’s Oedipus is a detective, and not that the detective novel has remained Oedipal”. In Desert Islands and Other Texts, 1953-1974, ed. David Lapoujade, trans. Michael Taormina, (Los Angeles: Semiotext(e), 2004), 82.[/note] The caesura breaks the consistency of Oedipus’ conception of himself, rewrites his memories (“the killer you are seeking is yourself”), and throws him into a time that suddenly becomes animate with a ‘before’ that was not previously available, and ‘after’ that sutures him to zero: “This day brings your birth; and brings your death”.[note]Tiresias to Oedipus, in Sophocles, Oedipus the King, 36; 38.[/note] The terrible implication of his fate — the prophecy of patricide and incest that lead his parents to desert him as an infant, supposedly left to die among the elements, and the discovery that everything he had done to avoid it has in fact functioned to bring it about — rises up before him. The ground falls away and, as Hölderlin writes, the rhythmic structure of the text propels Oedipus backwards towards his beginning with an incredible momentum, simultaneously interminable, due to the indifference of the gods, whilst slowly hurrying him towards his death. It is not for nothing that Hölderlin would pronounce in a letter to a friend that “[t]he true meaning of tragedy is most easily grasped from the position of paradox”.[note]Friedrich Hölderlin, Samtliche Werke und Briefe, ed. Jochen Schmidt (Frankfurt, Deutscher Klassiker Verlag, 1994) vol.2, 561. Quoted by Rosenfield in “Hölderlin et Sophocle: Rythme et temps tragique dans les Remarques sur Œdipe et Antigone”, fn8.[/note] The caesura shields the first portion of the two Oedipus plays from their accelerated second portion, interfacing the differential speeds of dramatic action, and in this, wordlessly renders Hölderlin’s idea of an otherworldly efficacity rhythmically apprehensible without representing it.[note]The caesura “thus abolishes the distinctions and the understanding ensured by succession (in human or physical time), insofar as the rhythm makes appear a more all-embracing connection — and a timelessness, not subject to the segmentation of the successive alternations. The rhythm makes one see-feel-guess the unfathomable dimension that ensures the connection of everything. Thus, paradoxically, the tragedy presents, as equivalent and concomitant, the movements of two forms of language: that of the arguments situated in the temporal succession and the pure language of the seer (the counter-rhythmic movement). What is accessible to knowledge and what is removed from human mastery are presented simultaneously”. Rosenfield, “Hölderlin et Sophocle: Rythme et temps tragique dans les Remarques sur Œdipe et Antigone”, 82.[/note] The operational rule of this manifestation is disequilibrium or asymmetry, and asymmetry linearly breaks the foundational rhyme that animates the Timaean cosmos, and inaugurates a new rule, the shamanic limp of schizophrenic auto-production. Oedipus’s initiation is a countdown that re-initiates his fatal loop.

The caesura thus produces two ‘times’ — an asymmetrical, looped, auto-productive time (one slice of which is rhythmically compressed, generating an empirical acceleration), and the asymmetrical form of time productive of asymmetrical time (Hölderlin’s modern god) — and two deaths: the horizontal death at the end of straight line, which takes Oedipus into the ground, and the secret, vertical death of the caesura, which rearranges everything in a single instant, producing and grounding the physical death of Oedipus and the time it takes place in. Hölderlin will denote both with the mathematical expression “= 0”.[note]Hölderlin, Samtliche Werke und Briefe, vol.2, 561; Quoted in Rosenfield, “Hölderlin et Sophocle: Rythme et temps tragique dans les Remarques sur Œdipe et Antigone“, 92, and Krell, The Death of Empedocles, 299-300.[/note] In contrast to the progressive time of the heretic’s trial, “the ever-oppositional dialogue”, the history and affairs of Thebes, and Oedipus’ voyage of metamorphosis “in which the beginning and end no longer rhyme”, the caesura is the irruption of time as a void which produces succession and abides within Oedipus in the function of an initiation as he travels the line that will remove him “from his orbit of life … to another world, [to] the eccentric orbit of the dead”.[note]Hölderlin, “Notes on the Oedipus”, §3; Deleuze, “Untitled lecture 21/3/1978”, Les cours de Gilles Deleuze,; Hölderlin, “Notes on the Oedipus”, §1. My italics.[/note] It is, to borrow a term from MVU’s resident Hyper-Kantian, R. E. Templeton, a “transcendental occurrence”.[note]Ccru, “Glossary”, Ccru: Writings 1997-2003 (Falmouth, Urbanomic, 2017), (((:):))(:)(:)/369. See also, “The Templeton Episode” which contains an extended meditation on auto-productive Kantianism and cyclical time control, (::::)-(:)(:)(:):/53-4. The occulted relationship of Professor Randolph Edmund Templeton (“the model for H.P. Lovecraft’s Randolph Carter”) to the dissolution mystery outlined here provides vital clues that will be returned to. Ccru, Abstract Culture: Digital Hyperstition, 55.[/note]

Split across an asymmetrical empirical succession and a far more obscure asymmetry that both grounds and ungrounds it, time indeed becomes a straight line with a subterranean labyrinth as its premise. A strange kind of homogeneity forged in war. With the shifting of the limit — the great rift that draws a threshold between two worlds, defining inside and outside — into the modern Oedipal subject, everything changes. When Hölderlin claims that in the double betrayal of man and god, “infinite unification purifies itself through infinite separation”, purification is no longer just a euphemism for catharsis but the precise characterisation of this pure and empty form of time.[note]Hölderlin, “Notes on the Oedipus”, §3.[/note] Anglossic qabbala distils this insight with economic clarity: Kant is a break and a link.

“Rather than being concerned with what happens before and after Kant (which amounts to the same thing)”, writes Deleuze,

we should be concerned with a precise moment within Kantianism, a furtive and explosive moment which is not even continued by Kant, much less by post-Kantianism — except, perhaps, by Hölderlin in the experience and the idea of a ‘categorical reversal’. For when Kant puts rational theology into question, in the same stroke he introduces a kind of disequilibrium, a fissure or crack in the pure Self of the ‘I think’, an alienation in principle, insurmountable in principle: the subject can henceforth represent its own spontaneity only as that of an Other, and in so doing invoke a mysterious coherence in the last instance which excludes its own — namely, that of the world and God. A Cogito for a dissolved Self: the Self of ‘I think’ includes in its essence a receptivity of intuition in relation to which I is already an other. It matters little that synthetic identity — and, following that, the morality of practical reason — restore the integrity of the self, of the world and of God, thereby preparing the way for post-Kantian syntheses: for a brief moment we enter into that schizophrenia in principle which characterises the highest power of thought, and opens Being directly on to difference, despite all the mediations, all the reconciliations, of the concept.[note]Deleuze, Difference and Repetition, 58. Patton’s ‘categorical abduction’ for ‘détournement catégorique’ has been changed to ‘categorical reversal’ for the sake of maintaining consistency across English translations of Deleuze.[/note]

There are three elements to this ‘furtive and explosive’ moment in Kant: the death of God, the fractured I, and the passive nature of the empirical self, all of which correspond to the introduction of transcendental time into the subject and usher in an immense complication of what we take to be human agency.

The death of god is the effacement of the demiurge, along with the essences from which he constructs the phenomenal world of appearance. Without this god, what guarantees the faithful reproduction within the image-simulation of reality of its eternal model? How can we know our experience rhymes with its ground? This leads to an ontological problem whereby ‘man’, the plaything of empirical time, can no longer assume ‘he’ is at home in the world of experience. If there is to be a disjunction between law and its material manifestation, who, if not god, administers it? Nothing is there to underwrite the Platonic values of truth, goodness and beauty, and the modern, empirical subject finds itself at sea in a murderous asymmetry that promises nothing but the cosmic fatigue of ultimate extinquishment under the second law of thermodynamics. The fractured I is even more insidious. The subject, no longer infirm and fallen, as it is for Plato, is constitutive, but “constantly hollow[ed] out”, spilt “in two” and “double[d]”, alienated from itself across the form of time in such a way that it cannot experience its constitutive power.[note]Deleuze, “On Four Poetic Formulas That Might Summarise the Kantian Philosophy”, 31.[/note] Worse, as Rimbaud so acutely put it — “It is false to say: I think; one ought to say I am thought … I is another” — that shard of self, the empirical ego which registers phenomena, cannot know what its double is and must now contend with its new status of integral receptivity.[note]Arthur Rimbaud, “Letter to Georges Izambard, 13 May 1871” in Selected Poems and Letters, trans. Jeremy Harding and John Sturrock (London: Penguin, 2004), 236. Translation modified.[/note] How, then, does it believe itself to act rather than simply be acted-through? On what does it found its ethics and its politics?

This is the initiatory consequence of the transcendental philosophy of time. The transition from the revolving door dramatises the modulation from transcendent to transcendental distinction, reconfigures the a priori, isolated notion of eternity, and moves time from a spatially subsumed cardinality to a purely formal ordinality — in which distance between numbers opens onto the realm of depth. Philosophy, of course, has preliminary solutions to all of these problems, but in solving them, it steals intermittently back and forth between schemata, recuperating certain comforts native to the time of the revolving door, and smuggling a dying theology into the explosive zones of the city and the desert.

Initiation (Tragedy)

The straight line is the shortest path between two points. This is the example Deleuze uses to explain Kant’s development of a priori synthetic judgements, those “prodigious monsters” that overcome the historical a priori / analytic, a posteriori / synthetic dualism — “the death of sound philosophy” — targeted by the First Critique.[note]Kant’s indices for these two tendencies, which he indirectly names ‘dogmatic rationalism’ and ‘sceptical empiricism’, in pre-critical philosophy are Leibniz and Hume. “We have here presented to us a new phenomenon of human reason — an entirely natural antithetic, in which there is no need of making subtle enquiries or of laying snares for the unwary, but into which reason of itself quite unavoidably falls. It certainly guards reason from the slumber of fictitious conviction such as is generated by a purely one-sided illusion, but at the same time subjects it to the temptation either of abandoning itself to a sceptical despair, or of assuming an obstinate attitude, dogmatically committing itself to certain assertions, and refusing to grant a fair hearing to the arguments for the counter-position. Either attitude is the death of sound philosophy, although the former might perhaps be entitled the euthanasia of pure reason.” Immanuel Kant, The Critique of Pure Reason, trans, Kemp Smith (London: Macmillan, 1929), 385 A407/B433. For Deleuze’s exposition of a priori synthesis via the example of the straight line see “Synthèse et temps 14/3/1978”, Les cours de Gilles Deleuze,[/note]  The straight line is thus also a diagonal one, and in this sense, the leanest diagram of critique. The first, faint sketch of a philosophy erected out of paradox.

The Lovecraftian machinery of the text follows from this primary opposition between synthetic sense experience and analytic logic by reformatting it into a division between sensibility and understanding and locating both within the bounds of the a priori on a transcendental diagonal.[note]In his lectures, Deleuze’s preliminary description of the First Critique reads as if it were a passage taken directly from “The Mountains of Madness”, and there is good reason to suppose this parallel with Lovecraft is deliberate: “It’s an excessive atmosphere, but if one holds up … all this Northern fog which lands on top of us starts to dissipate, and underneath there is an amazing architecture … in this fog there functions a sort of thinking machine, a creation of concepts that is absolutely terrifying.” Deleuze, “Synthèse et temps 14/3/1978”, Les cours de Gilles Deleuze,

Compare Dyer and Lake’s discovery of the alien city beneath the shifting Antarctic mists in H.P. Lovecraft, “At the Mountains of Madness”, Tales, ed. Peter Straub (New York: Library of America, 2005) 508; 523: “I had seen dozens of polar mirages during the preceding weeks, some of them quite as uncanny and fantastically vivid as the present sample; but this one had a wholly novel and obscure quality of menacing symbolism, and I shuddered as the seething labyrinth of fabulous walls and towers and minarets loomed out of the troubled ice-vapours above our heads. The effect was of a Cyclopean city of no architecture known to man or to human imagination, with vast aggregations of night-black masonry embodying monstrous perversions of geometrical laws and attaining the most grotesque extremes of sinister bizarrerie. […] We had previously dismissed, so far as serious thought was concerned, any theory that the cubes and ramparts of the mountainsides were other than natural in origin. How could they be otherwise? Yet now the sway of reason seemed irrefutably shaken, for this Cyclopean maze of squared, curved, and angled blocks had features which cut off all comfortable refuge. It was, very clearly, the blasphemous city of the mirage in stark, objective, and ineluctable reality. That damnable portent had had a material basis after all — there had been some horizontal stratum of ice-dust in the upper air, and this shocking stone survival had projected its image across the mountains according to the simple laws of reflection. Of course the phantom had been twisted and exaggerated, and had contained things which the real source did not contain; yet now, as we saw that real source, we thought it even more hideous and menacing than its distant image.”[/note]

Transcendental Diagonal Black and White

Receptive, presentational and constitutive, sensibility furnishes the a priori forms of time and space, while the active, representational and reproductive faculty of the understanding provides the a priori concepts (or categories), both of which will be brought to bear on the determination of empirical objects as the conditions of all possible experience, coincident with knowledge and guided by the speculative interest of reason. The form of time delineated by Kant is empty — but productive of a single dimension of successive time whose “beginning and end simply cannot be connected”, and the form of space, likewise empty, can produce only the “infinite given magnitude” of a Euclidean and co-extensive dimensionality.[note]Hölderlin, “Notes on the Oedipus”, Essays and Letters, §3; Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, trans. and ed. Paul Guyer and Allen W. Wood (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 159 A25/B39[/note] Both forms are simultaneously subjective and objectively-valid insofar as they are generative of reality for us.[note]Both forms can equally be deployed in a strictly ideal capacity outside of empirical determination, i.e. “when they are considered in themselves through reason” but this is illegitimate from the point of view of both knowledge and experience. Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, 160 A28/B44.[/note] Time, classed as ‘inner sense’, is the form of internal affection. It envelops space, or ‘outer sense’, the form of external relation and the possibility of being affected by exterior objects, which can only occur with the presupposition of time, although the two are inseparable and arise together in the human mind.[note]“Time is the a priori formal condition of all appearances in general. Space, as the pure form of all outer intuitions, is limited as an a priori condition merely to outer intuitions. But since, on the contrary, all representations, whether or not they have outer things as their object, nevertheless as determinations of the mind themselves belong to the inner state, while this inner state belongs under the formal condition of inner intuition, and thus of time, so time is an a priori of all appearance in general … all objects of the senses, are in time, and necessarily stand in relations of time.” Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, 163-164 A34/B50-51.[/note] Time can never appear to us as it is in itself and is always necessarily accompanied by space in our representations of it. Thus, we

represent the temporal sequence through a line progressing to infinity, in which the manifold constitutes a series that is of only one dimension, and infer from the properties of this line to all the properties of time, with the sole difference that the parts of the former are simultaneous, but those of the latter always exist successively.[note]Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, 163 A33/B50. Italics added.[/note]

This succession is simply a mode of the form of time (along with persistence and co-existence, the three categories of relation whose principles are procured in the Analogies of Experience), which is not in itself successive. Nor are the modes of time properties of objects in themselves, leaving movement — dependent specifically on modal persistence — strictly subordinate to the pure form of time. Kant is adamant about this, demonstrating that if the form of time itself were successive it would be subject to a problem of infinite regress.

[C]hange does not affect time itself, but only the appearances in time (just as simultaneity is not a modus for time itself, in which no parts are simultaneous but rather all succeed one another). If one were to ascribe such a succession to time itself, one would have to think yet another time in which this succession would be possible.[note]Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, 300 A183/B226.[/note]

Radically indeterminate, time in itself cannot be equivalent to its parts. It corresponds to the figure of the straight labyrinth insofar as it is “in(di)visible” and — because it accompanies all of our representations — “incessant”.[note]See note 4 regarding the shift from ‘invisible’ to ‘indivisible’ in Deleuze’s citations of Borges’ text.[/note] To confuse the form of time with time-as-succession is a grave metaphysical error. In the universe of the straight labyrinth, as Deleuze writes, “[i]t is not succession that defines time, but time that defines the parts of movement as successive inasmuch as they are determined within it”.[note]Deleuze, “On Four Poetic Formulas that Might Summarise the Kantian Philosophy”, 28. Kant provides the counter-argument and dismisses it in the “Elucidation” that follows his exposition of the Transcendental Aesthetic, concluding, alongside an explicit refusal of Leibniz’s purely intellectual forms, “that the transcendental aesthetic cannot contain more than these two elements, namely space and time, is clear from the fact that all other concepts belonging to sensibility, even that of motion, which unites both elements, presuppose something empirical. For this presupposes the perception of something moveable. In space, considered in itself there is nothing moveable; hence the moveable must be something that is found in space only through experience, thus an empirical datum. In the same way the transcendental aesthetic cannot count the concept of alteration among its a priori data; for time itself does not alter, but only something that is within time”. Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, 165-7 A36-41/B53-58.[/note] Space in itself, in a similar fashion, cannot be construed following a pre-supposed grammar, the eclipse of Euclidean axioms in the history of mathematics having no bearing on it as a pure form.[note]This is only a problem for the explication of space once it has passed through the syntheses of the imagination and been subjected to the categories of the understanding in the schematism. Hence Kant’s careful distinction of forms of intuition (space and time as they are given in themselves) from formal intuition (space and time as magnitudes). Without schematisation, which applies its concepts synthetically as rules of construction, mathematics is simply a logical science, operating in a realm isolated from experience. “Thus in the concept of a figure that is enclosed between two straight lines there is no contradiction … rather the impossibility rests not on the concept in itself, but on its construction in space, i.e., on the conditions of space and its determinations.” Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, 323 A220-21/B268.[/note] The fact that experience appears to unfold along a linear timeline and in three pitiful dimensions is simply a constitutive quirk of human mental structure. Insofar as we can grasp their being in themselves as pure forms, space “signifies nothing at all” and “time”, for us, “is nothing”.[note]“We can accordingly speak of space, extended beings, and so on, only from a human standpoint. If we depart from the subjective condition under which alone we can acquire outer intuition, namely that through which we may be affected by objects, then the representation of space signifies nothing at all.” And “[t]ime is therefore merely a subjective condition of our (human) intuition (which is always sensible, i.e. insofar as we are affected by objects), and in itself, outside the subject, is nothing”. Furthermore, “we cannot judge at all whether the intuitions of other thinking beings are bound to the same conditions that limit our intuition and that are universally valid for us”. Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, 159-160 A26-7/B42-3; 164 A35/B51; 160 A27/B43.[/note]

A priori synthesis occurs between the a priori categories on the one hand, and the a priori forms of spatio-temporal determination, on the other, before they are applied to experience, furnishing its “rules of construction”.[note]Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, 289 A165/B206. “[T]ranscendental propositions can never be given through construction of concepts, but only in accordance with a priori concepts. They contain merely the rule in accordance with which a certain synthetic unity of that which cannot be intuitively represented a priori (of perceptions) should be sought empirically.” Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, 634 A721/B749.[/note] Since both components of the synthesis are a priori, they hold as universal and necessary laws for everything that can be determined in experience. To return to Deleuze’s example of the line, the Euclidean proposition, ‘the straight line is the line which is ex aequo in all its points’ is an analytic judgement; the statement ‘this straight line is red’ is an empirical judgement (straight lines are not universally and necessarily red). The statement, ‘the straight line is the shortest path between two points’, however, is different, because the concept ‘shortest path’ is not analytically contained within the concept ‘straight line’, nor is it simply contingent on an empirical encounter: it is a priori — it holds for all straight lines — and yet, it is also synthetic — something new is added in the synthesis. ‘Shortest path’ is not a predicate of the subject ‘straight line’ but a rule for the construction of a figure that requires assembly in space and time: to produce a straight line, one must find the shortest path between two points. Put differently, a spatio-temporal determination must be discovered that accords with the concept ‘shortest path’.

Kant has two texts, one written before and one written after the Critique of Pure Reason, in which he deals with the problem of ‘incongruent counterparts’ or enantiomorphic bodies, using the necessity of the spatio-temporal assembly of a concept in experience to defend the heterogeneity of space-time and concepts so integral to the difference between sensibility and understanding in the First Critique.[note]Immanuel Kant, “Concerning the Ultimate Foundation for the Differentiation of Regions in Space’”in Selected Pre-Critical Writings, trans. and ed. G. B. Kerferd and D. E. Walford (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1968); Immanuel Kant, Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics, trans. Gary Carl Hatfield (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997). Both arguments are constructed to refute Leibniz, although in fact contain conflicting arguments (something we will revisit later). Deleuze draws out the key point: “Kant will say that this [non-superimposibility] is what finitude is.” Deleuze, “Synthèse et temps 14/3/1978”, Les cours de Gilles Deleuze,[/note] A left and a right hand, for example, both of which are determined by the selfsame concept, with all its internal relations intact, are conceptually identical yet different due to their positions in space. A left hand can never be superimposed upon a right hand without exiting the confines of Euclidean dimensionality. In a similar fashion, a hand that is perceived now and a hand that is perceived in the future may belong to the same concept, but they can never be made to coincide in time. Thus, space and time are not reducible to conceptual determinations. We will return to Kant’s ‘hands’, but for now let this thought experiment of his show that, given the laws of the three-dimensional space that experience must unfold in, there is no possible way of constructing the ‘shortest path’ other than along a straight line, and to draw a line rather than a point, one requires time. Furthermore, no empirical experience will yield a straight line that is anything other than the shortest path between two points. The a priori forms of space and time thus harbour an irrefutable constitutive power that will underlie the empirical determination of all possible experience.

Because both successive time and three-dimensional space belong a priori to the faculty of sensibility, and therefore have their provenance in the human mind, they are impossible to exit from for us, and must accompany every single denomination of what will be considered legitimate knowledge, which takes its declination from the intersection of empirical experience and the restrictions imposed upon the latter by the transcendental exigency that produces it.[note]Within Kant’s model of time as it is expounded in the First Critique, even time travel would still be perceived by its subject as a succession, moving consistently from T1 to T2 to T3, etc. If the time traveller began her journey at point B and travelled backwards in history to point A, prior to B, her temporal experience would still giver her T1 at B, T2 at A, and so on.[/note] Dreams and hallucinations, occurring solely within the mind, constitute nothing more than a “blind play of representations” — intuitions deprived of determinate objects — and are therefore illegitimate as a basis for knowledge.[note]Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, 634 A721/B749; 235, A112. “From the fact that the existence of outer objects is required for the possibility of a determinate consciousness of our self it does not follow that every intuitive representation of outer things includes at the same time their existence, for that may well be the mere effect of the imagination (in dreams as well as in delusions); but this is possible merely through the reproduction of previous outer perceptions, which, as has been shown, are possible only through the actuality of outer objects”. Kant, Critique of Pure Reason 328 B278. The same status applies to any epistemological traction one would hope to gain on the pure forms of space and time themselves. Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, 382 A291/B347.[/note] This holds equally for our non-empirically validated Ideas of God, World and Soul (objects of a concept for which there is no corresponding intuition), any concept of an object deprived of sense data, and any contradictory and therefore impossible concept — and everyone finds themselves in the same, spatio-temporal manifold, under the same categorical laws which together act as a guarantor for the universalisability of human knowledge.[note]These four permutations together make up Kant’s divisions of nothing, each division corresponding to one of the four sets of categories, respectively (as listed above): ens imaginarium, ens rationis (the noumena), nihil privativum (things-in-themselves) and nihil negativum. Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, 383 A292/B348.[/note] Consequently, we discover that “we ourselves bring into appearances that order and regularity in them that we call nature”, and moreover “we would not be able to find it there if we, or the nature of our mind, had not originally put it there”.[note]Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, 241, A125.[/note] Although it underwrites the operation of the transcendental apparatus at the most fundamental level, time, in the First Critique, is simply an inert and ultimately unknowable form which beats out a series of inexorable, successive moments in experience. It is prior to matter, movement and extension, and thus completely re-arranges or unhinges the determination of time by motion so integral to the revolving door of the pre-critical cosmos. All change, alteration and variation take place in time, but the form of time itself is invariable and inviolable.

Time Compression (Circuitry)

Overcoming the irreconcilability of rationalist and empiricist methodologies via the innovation of a priori synthesis nevertheless generates a new problem for Kant, for he has simply moved its incompatibility into the subject, under the guise of the two faculties of sensibility and understanding, which are fundamentally different in kind, one being passive, receptive and immediate, the other spontaneous, active and mediate. Kant’s infamous Copernican revolution, although beginning in radical unfaithfulness — replacing god with time — resolves the duplicitous tension it cannot help but introduce between the two sides of its trademark a priori syntheses in a fundamental identity and a vexed harmony negotiated through the enigmatic synthesis of the imagination in the Transcendental Deduction, which reconstructs the syntheses along the contours of the epistemological subject / object divide, remodelled as the transcendental unity of apperception and the transcendental object = [x].

In order to connect the abstract bundle of categories in the form of the transcendental object = [x] to experience, Kant requires a link which he locates in the imagination, generative of a transcendental synthesis of the appearance of objects across space and time by stabilising their manifolds into a consistent unity for the application of concepts. The imagination performs this role via three syntheses which occur together (but are grounded in the third) in order to produce representation: the synthesis of apprehension which formalises sensible intuitions (diversity in time and space, and the diversity of time and space) into representable shape within a space-time grid, generating a single and uniform spatio-temporal manifold subject to extensive measurement; the reproduction of spatial coordinates that are not subject to instantaneous apprehension (the momentarily non-appearing parts of a volume, for example) as well as past and projected (future) coordinates in the present; and the synthesis of recognition, which underwrites the possibility of representably-stable conceptual traction via the relation of the prior syntheses of apprehension and reproduction to the form of the object in the understanding, the ‘object = [x]’, and this relative to the synthesising subject’s own transcendental identity, the ‘unity of apperception’.[note]When Deleuze says of Oedipus that Tiresias’ prophecy “constitute[s] the pure instant, the pure present from which a past and a future will be produced on a straight line, which is to say a before and after which no longer rhyme”, it is this ‘pure present’ — the conditioning of the synthesis of reproduction in the imagination that supports and is grounded by the transcendental unity of apperception, the subjective form of auto-affection being premised on the latter, which affects its empirical counterpart across the form of time. With the caesura, the pure form of time and the asymmetrical auto-affection of the subject flash, for the first time, into view, illuminating all the parts of time at once: process and product. Deleuze, “Untitled lecture 21/3/1978”, Les cours de Gilles Deleuze,[/note]

The first two syntheses structure a determination of space and time and the third relates it to consciousness, together supplying an a priori basis for the spatio-temporal unity and continuity of experience — intuited by us as one-dimensional time and three-dimensional space, only objectively actualisable in extensity, due to the envelopment of space within the inner sense of time — comprised of conscious perceptions anchored to a unified identity.[note]Alfredo Ferrarin, in his “Construction and Mathematical Schematism: Kant on the Exhibition of a Concept in Intuition” restates Kant’s argument especially cogently with regards to temporality: “Time is given, as the indeterminate form of our intuition (as the possibility of a serial order): but the order of the succession (its sense) is the result of our positing a relation among representations. This relation, the order thus produced, is itself the unity of a representation of a quantum, the whole that combines the parts given in the succession. Inner sense per se does not contain any determinate (formal) intuition. It is the apperceptive activity of the understanding … that connects intuitions in time and produces the manifold of time as the representation of before and after. All our representations of objects in sensible intuition are subject to the order of inner sense [the pure form of time] determined by our spontaneity [the understanding].” Kant-Studien (January, 1995) 86:2, 143.[/note] The kind of compression enacted by the synthesis of imagination is not simply a linear one, but the flattening of time and space into a homogenous metric upon which the understanding enacts its determinations — which only then provides a basis for linear compression or acceleration in extensity, such as that detailed by Hölderlin in his rhythmic diagrams of Oedipus and Antigone.

Curiously, Kant employs the example of cinnabar to demonstrate the successive, temporal aspect of the reproductive synthesis (which supplies the recognising synthesis with its input) — an intriguing reference given its long history of alchemical and esoteric use. “If cinnabar were now red, now black, now light, now heavy”, he writes

if a human being were now changed into this animal shape, now into that one, if on the longest day the land were covered now with fruits, now with ice and snow, then my empirical imagination would never even get the opportunity to think of heavy cinnabar on the occasion of the representation of the colour red. [W]ithout the governance of a certain rule to which the appearances are already subjected in themselves … no empirical synthesis of repro­duction could take place. There must therefore be something that itself makes possible this reproduction of the appearances by being the a priori ground of a neces­sary synthetic unity of them.[note]Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, 229-230 A101. Deleuze and Guattari also cite Kant’s cinnabar passage in the conclusion to What is Philosophy? to invoke the image of thought, referring to the reproductive synthesis of the imagination as an “objective antichaos”, by which we “make an opinion for ourselves, like a sort of ‘umbrella’” against the war below. Deleuze and Guattari, What is Philosophy?, trans. Graham Burchell and Hugh Tomlinson (London: Verso, 1994), 202.[/note]

The conceptual identity of a piece of cinnabar, along with its empirical variations, endures in time because we are able to synthesise past experiences of cinnabar with present ones via their reproduction as images in memory. We produce a recognition of categorical consistency through the relation of ‘cinnabar moments’ in the spatio-temporal manifold by connecting them to the object we are determining as a piece of cinnabar by means of its steady appearance across different times to the transcendental cogito, whose persistence as an identity is presupposed by the act of recognition. Meanwhile, the endurance of cinnabar perceptions must, according to Kant, be sufficiently objectively consistent for this to be possible in the first place, for if the objective world was in itself so chaotic that such consistency could not take place, neither would our syntheses of it. The Kantian ‘I think’ is thereby an identity which recognises itself as such against the differences it measures empirically and supposes objectively. A move that is only made possible through the combination of the syntheses of the unity of apperception and the spatio-temporal ordering effectuated under the faculty of the imagination. Together, the three syntheses of the imagination place the receptive faculty of sensibility that is productive of apprehension and reproduction in communication with the active faculty of understanding, which plugs them into the object = [x] and the transcendental unity of apperception, ostensibly resolving the problem of these faculties’ conflicting natures in the direction of categorical tractability, and subsuming spatio-temporal difference under a conceptual unity.[note]Ferrarin’s analysis of the troubled distinction between the reproductive imagination (which shepherds empirical associations) and the productive imagination (which apprehends and schematises) is instructive here. Despite conflicting descriptions in the First Critique, Ferrarin concludes that the syntheses of apprehension and reproduction, and their application in schematisation, are functions of the productive imagination. Alfredo Ferrarin, “Construction and Mathematical Schematism: Kant on the Exhibition of a Concept in Intuition”, Kant-Studien (January, 1995) 86:2, 151-3.[/note]

Due to this implicit vectorisation — from sensibility to understanding — the transcendental synthesis of the imagination can be grasped as an “aesthetic” function made to conform to a conceptual, recognising one, which gives it its axioms — something we shall find reason to return to as the mystery of Lönnrot, Carter and Challenger continues to unfold.[note]Gilles Deleuze, “Untitled Lecture 04/04/1978”, trans. Melissa McMahon, Les cours de Gilles Deleuze,[/note] Its operation applies a unit of measure — Kant’s ‘magnitudes’ — to the sensible manifold in order to relate it to conceptual elements in the synthesis of recognition. Kant will have cause, in the Third Critique, to show the fragility of the transcendental synthesis of the imagination, one that is subject to the breaking of its measure by insurgent forces erupting from below. Subterranean revolt on behalf of the cold earth’s volcanic core.

With a unified conceptual identity providing the transcendental ground for the objective validity of the categories, and a consistent, extended and sequenced spatio-temporal manifold furnishing the foundation for all appearances in intuition established via the deduction, Kant will attempt to knit the two together in the application of the principles of judgement that constitute the schematism, consolidating the objectivity of the phenomenal-real. The schematism is the temporalisation of the categories, and thus works in reverse order to the operation of the transcendental synthesis of the imagination — beginning with a concept and determining the spatio-temporal manifold in accordance with it. The three syntheses of the imagination, taken together as a single mechanism, provide the rules for recognition; schematisation, on the other hand, gives the rules of construction for a concept in space and time. The understanding, under the guise of judgement, deploys or expresses the spontaneous syntheses of the unity of apperception and the imagination in time, completing the a priori synthetic weave between expansive sense experience and categorical contraction.[note]Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, 268 B171/A132.[/note]

Each of the four divisions of the categories warrants a different form of expression: the three categories of quantity (unity, plurality, totality) express extensive magnitudes; the three categories of quality (reality, negation, limitation) express intensive magnitudes; the three categories of relation (inherence and subsistence, causality and dependence, community and reciprocity) establish the objectivity of time and space, and the three categories of modality (possibility/impossibility, existence/non-existence, necessity/contingency) generate the postulates of empirical thought in general. It is this penultimate group (developed in the reciprocally arising conditions of the Analogies of Experience) which confine all human experience to a universalisable temporality, and unfold change in time, consonant with the thermodynamic arrow.[note]“Arising and perishing are not alterations of that which arises or perishes. Alteration is a way of existing that succeeds another way of existing of the very same object. Hence everything that is altered is lasting, and only its state changes. Thus since this change concerns only the determinations that can cease or begin, we can say, in an expression that seems somewhat paradoxical, that only what persists (the substance) is altered, while that which is changeable does not suffer any alteration but rather a change, since some determinations cease and others begin. […] Substances (in appearance) are the substrata of all time-determinations. The arising of some and the perishing of others would itself remove the sole condition of the empirical unity of time, and the appearances would then be related in two different times, in which existence flowed side by side, which is absurd. For there is only one time, in which all different times must not be placed simultaneously but only one after another.” Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, 303 A187-9/B230-2.[/note] The unfolding of all four categorial groups through a priori synthetic judgements constitute acts of representation, which yield the actuality of the world for us, founding all knowledge upon representation as an activity of the human mind bound to temporal succession. The schematism is therefore,

nothing but a priori time-determinations in accordance with rules, and these concern, according to the order of the categories, the time-series, the content of time, the order of time, and finally the sum total of time in regard to all possible objects. From this it is clear that the schematism of the understanding through the transcendental synthesis of imagination comes down to nothing other than the unity of the manifold of intuition in inner sense, and thus indirectly to the unity of apperception, as the function that corresponds to inner sense (to a receptivity).[note]Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, 256 A145/B185-5.[/note]

As a result, there are certain pieces of information we will always know in advance regarding the possibility of anything whatsoever in experience, despite the a posteriori nature of certain aspects of the latter. Namely, that “all appearances are, as regards their intuition, extensive magnitudes”, and “in all appearances the sensation, and the real, which corresponds to it in the object (realitas phaenomenon), has an intensive magnitude, i.e. a degree”.[note]Here Kant again gives the example of the line: “I cannot represent to myself any line, no matter how small it may be, without drawing it in thought, i.e., successively generating all its parts from one point, and thereby first sketching this intuition. It is exactly the same with even the smallest time. I think therein only the successive progress from one moment to another, where through all parts of time and their addition a determinate magnitude of time is finally generated.” Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, 286 A162/B202; 290 A166/B207.[/note] Kant defines an extensive magnitude as ‘that in which the representation of the parts makes possible the representation of the whole (and therefore necessarily precedes the latter)’.[note]Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, 287 (A162;B203).[/note] A unity in extensive magnitude is composed of successive or co-extensive parts that can be added together due to the fact that they share a homogenous unit of measure.[note]Thus, “space consists only of spaces; time of times”. Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, 292 A169/B211.[/note] The nature of their difference is therefore external — a difference between parts. For the categories of quantity, the fact that appearances are systematically subordinated to extension is straightforward, for this is how we apprehend space and time — unified “multitudes of antecedently given parts”.[note]Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, 288 A163/B204.[/note] For the categories of quality, however, the surety of advance knowledge is less naturally evident because it bears on sensation and thus involves an entirely subjective, empirical input. So much so that Kant will even write, years later, in the Opus Postumum that

It is strange — it even appears to be impossible, to wish to present a priori that which depends on perceptions (empirical representations with consciousness of them): e.g. light, sound, heat, etc., which all together, amount to the subjective element in perception (empirical representation with consciousness) and hence, carries with it no knowledge of an object. Yet this act of the faculty of representation is necessary.[note]Immanuel Kant, Opus Postumum, trans. Eckart Förster and Michael Rosen, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), 141.[/note]

Intensive magnitude is a property of the real of sensation and is therefore strictly empirical, yet we are said to have a priori knowledge of it. This is guaranteed by the conspiracy of the transcendental unity of apperception and the object = [x] that gives sensation its determinate form, and it is therefore this form alone — not the determination but the form of determination — which can be anticipated. Thus we can know in advance that every conscious representation we can ever have will involve a degree of intensity, without knowing anything about the specificities of the intensities which will affect us. To this end, Kant defines intensive magnitude as that “which can only be apprehended as a unity, and in which multiplicity can only be represented through approximation to negation = 0”.[note]Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, 291 A168/B210.[/note] Unlike extensive magnitudes, which imply a continuous aggregation of homogenous parts, intensities differ internally on an infinite continuum (“of which no part … is the smallest”) between 0 and n, and therefore must be apprehended instantaneously.[note]Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, 295 A175/B217; 292 A169/B211; 291 A167/B209.[/note] However, because of the nature of our perception, intensive magnitudes cannot be perceived separately from space and time and thus come to “fill” extended magnitudes to various degrees.[note]Deleuze, “Untitled lecture 21/3/1978”, Les cours de Gilles Deleuze,[/note] Consequently, the intensive property of internal difference is controlled by extension, locked — forever — into the extensive matrix of apprehended space-time. Most significantly of all, Kant tethers zero intensity to pure consciousness, so that the subtraction of intensive matter from experience only reaffirms, in the absence of contaminants, the immaculacy of thought.

[F]rom the empirical consciousness to the pure consciousness a gradual alteration is possible, where the real in the former entirely disappears, and a merely formal (a priori) consciousness of the manifold in space and time remains; thus there is also a possible synthesis of the generation of the magnitude of a sensation from its beginning, the pure intuition = 0, to any arbitrary magnitude.[note]Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, 290 A166/B208.[/note]

Sensation degree zero indexes the annihilation of reality, not the subject. This division, although Kant will go on to qualify it (writing that such an occurrence is not “to be encountered”, an empty concept without an object comprising one of the four classes of illegitimate “nothing”) makes the separation between sensible matter and thought inherent to the transcendental apparatus luminously clear.[note]Intuition = 0 corresponds to nihil privativum, the second division of nothing relative to the categories of quality. See note 96. Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, 290 A166/B208; 383 A292/B348.[/note] Kant thinks intensity, but only in a way that renders it secondary both to the form of its appearance in extensity and to the pervasive authority of transcendental conceptualisation under the law of the understanding — “[subjectifying] abstraction” and “[sublimating] death into a power of the subject”, all for the sake of maintaining a spurious notion of transcendental accord.[note]Nick Land, The Thirst for Annihilation (London: Routledge, 1992), 117.[/note]

For the Timaean cosmos, harmony between subject and object takes the form of an external, teleologically-assured likeness between copy and model; for Leibniz, it finds its expression in the notion of final accord, and for Hume it must, no matter how reluctantly, be presupposed.[note]Deleuze, Kant’s Critical Philosophy, 12.[/note] The ideal of externally sanctioned accord between subject and object is overturned in the Critique of Pure Reason by the necessary submission of objects to the subject, which refocuses the division between subject and object to that between active and passive faculties interior to the process of determination. We have seen above how the transcendental synthesis of the imagination operates to bridge the divide. This causes Kant to rely on the understanding to rein in the productive function of imagination, subordinating its syntheses to unified identity in the transcendental subject and unified objectivity in the transcendental object, their productions nourished by passive sensibility. Reason, the third of the three active faculties (alongside the understanding and the imagination), by analogy with the function of understanding, attempts to determine its own purely conceptual objects without the necessary components of time and space furnished by sensibility, and in so doing, exercises its powers ‘problematically’ in the production of noumena — illusory totalities which nonetheless have a positive role to play in systematising the knowledge produced under the aegis of understanding in its stewardship of the syntheses.[note]Reason produces its Ideas by totalising the categories of relation provided by the understanding. From substance it conceives the absolute subject (Soul); from causality, the completed series (World); and from community, the whole of reality (God). Reason “reserves for itself only the absolute totality in the use of concepts, and seeks to carry the synthetic unity, which is thought in the categories, all the way to the absolutely unconditioned”. Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, 401-2 A326/B383. Kant refers to the Ideas of reason as ‘problems’ consistently throughout the text. See, for example, 605 A669/B697.[/note] It can be seen, therefore, that it is the faculty of understanding that is charged with the task of limiting the functions of the other faculties in the production of experience, confining them to specific operations and drawing the boundary dividing legitimate from illegitimate knowledge.

Although the three Critiques work together to define the ends of speculative reason, “[p]ure reason”, in the First Critique, “leaves everything to the understanding”, casting it in the role of legislator so that, in the great critical tribunal, it might judge according to the interests of reason, even when this entails turning against reason’s own products.[note]Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, 401 A326/B383.[/note] Knowledge is thus lent a maximum of systematic unity via the relation between faculties delineated in the First Critique, which is nominally harmonious without invoking the divinity of pre-established harmony that animated pre-critical philosophy. Instead, it produces an accord of “common sense”, the “subjective condition of all ‘communicability’” — a return to the comfort of rhyme, now resonating between the faculties, mirroring thought in its objects.[note]Deleuze, Kant’s Critical Philosophy, 18.[/note] Kantian accord may be understood as an innovation of pre-established harmony, but it retains lineaments of the Platonic Idea of the good in that it still sees thought imbued with health and an honourable will, naturally inclining towards truth via the “best possible distribution” of its capacities.[note]Deleuze, Difference and Repetition, 36.[/note] And why would it be otherwise? Surely reason, the “highest court of appeals for all rights and claims of our speculation, cannot possibly contain original deceptions and semblances”![note]Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, 605 A669/B697.[/note] By means of the accord of common sense, we recognise ourselves in the objects of the world.

What a surprise, after all this, to rediscover our own silhouettes still flickering on the cavern wall. Common sense is “the norm of identity from the point of view of the pure Self and the form of the unspecified object which corresponds to it”, it is always related to recognition, and “relies upon a ground in the unity of a thinking subject of which all the other faculties must be modalities”.[note]Deleuze, Difference and Repetition, 133.[/note] To thinking, common sense contributes only “the form of the same”.[note]Deleuze, Difference and Repetition, 134.[/note] The democratic distribution of capacity and similitude is philosophy’s principal doxa, subtending what Deleuze will famously denounce — in Difference and Repetition — as “the Image of Thought”.[note]Deleuze, Difference and Repetition, 129-167.[/note] If is not simply an illegitimate presupposition, saturated in humanist bias, whence does this principle arise? There is a deeper problem with the positing of fundamental accord between the faculties in the Critique of Pure Reason, and Deleuze will turn the legal distinction between rights and facts used in the Transcendental Deduction back on Kant, asking by what right the critical philosophy takes harmony as its ground for the relation of the faculties.[note]“Jurists, when they speak of entitlements and claims, distinguish in a legal matter between questions about what is lawful (quid juris) and that which concerns the fact (quid facti), and since they demand proof of both, the call the first, that which is to establish the entitlement or the legal claim, the deduction.” Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, 219 A84/B116.[/note] Kant, in the end, provided a remedy for this oversight, but it would not be enough to placate the tremors the critical system had induced.

Despite his predilection for tribunals, Kant’s recalibration of thought replaces the transcendence of god (and its models) as the ultimate arbiter of truth with the process of immanent critique, and thus transposes error into illusion. The strangeness of this new form of falsity springs from the fact that it is internal to the power of thought itself, contrary to the externality and materiality of error that informs Timeaus’ universe. Reason’s propensity to produce illusion as a consequence of its productive power brings Plato’s planomenon into thought itself, menacing it from inside “as if from an internal arctic zone where the needle of every compass goes mad”, a further disturbance of the cardinality which operates the turning of the great revolving door.[note]Deleuze and Guattari, What is Philosophy?, 52. See, note 27.[/note] This threat, nevertheless, is immediately quarantined. With the understanding commandeering synthesis, it is no longer a question of reversing of “the corruption of the circuits in our heads”, rather it is this very circuitry that constitutes the correction of illusion by forcing everything through the transcendental unity of apperception and its object = [x].[note]Plato, “Timaeus”, 96/91a.[/note] The conservatism of the revolving door and the eruptive potential of the straight labyrinth leak into one another repeatedly throughout the First Critique. The labyrinth’s corrosive implications recognised then covered up, again and again, as if Kant realises the enormity of the abyss he has levered apart but cannot countenance its vertiginous depth, a “depth [which] is like the famous geological line from NE to SW, the line which comes diagonally from the heart of things and distributes volcanoes”.[note]Deleuze, Difference and Repetition, 230.[/note] But Kant is no Empedocles. He does not wish to explode the sun. Asymmetry petrifies him — and for good reason.

If the Critique of Pure Reason “seemed equipped to overturn the Image of thought” in its substitution of illusion for error, the fractured I for a unified and substantialised cogito, and the invocation of the speculative deaths of God and the self, Kant

in spite of everything, and at the risk of compromising the conceptual apparatus of the three Critiques … did not want to renounce the implicit presuppositions. Thought had to continue to enjoy an upright nature, and philosophy could go no further than — nor in directions other than those taken by — common sense.[note]Deleuze, Difference and Repetition, 136.[/note]

Where Kant hesitates at the caldera’s edge, Hölderlin explores it with tortured determination, extracting from Oedipus what is truly radical in both “[t]he Greek image of thought” that “already invoked the madness of the double turning-away”, and the Kantian one, which launches “thought into infinite wandering rather than into error”.[note]Deleuze and Guattari, What is Philosophy?, 54.[/note] Vision, the Timaean antidote to corruption, is still insisted upon as the implicit other of the blindness Kant so frequently invokes, but it must be remembered that Tiresias’s prophetic knowledge is coincident with his loss of sight, and at the moment of the comprehension of his fate, Oedipus blinds himself.[note]The most famous invocation of this image being the oft-repeated maxim, “Thoughts without content are empty, intuitions without concepts are blind”. Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, 193-4 A51/B75. Manus, an Egyptian hierophant, and the ‘Old Man’ of Hölderlin’s third and final draft of The Death of Empedocles, who says to Empedocles “Oh, tell us who you are! and who am I? … are you quite sure of what you see?” (ll. 391, 483) too, is blind, and according to Krell, acts both as Empedocles’ double and a precursor of Tiresias as Hölderlin will figure him in his notes on the Sophocles translations. Hölderlin, The Death of Empedocles, 183; 187.[/note]

Asymmetry (Alienation)

The true innovation of the critical project, then — and that which constitutes its unprecedented modernity — is not the tiresome delineation of conditions for anthropomorphic experience productive of and produced by an intransigent conceptual faculty, but its profound reconfiguration of time. In Kant, pre-modern, cyclical, scroll-like temporality “unrolls itself like a serpent”, no longer subordinate to gods or nature — to logic, to reason, psychology, matter or sense — no longer subordinate to anything, save the mystery of its own inner workings, an enigmatic process of auto-affection.[note]Deleuze, “Synthèse et temps 14/3/1978”, Les cours de Gilles Deleuze, Deleuze, following Nietzsche, will make much of time no longer abiding by the laws of nature — a point which will be extremely important for the role of thermodynamics in his writing and which we shall return to, in time. “While the laws of nature govern the surface of the world, the eternal return ceaselessly rumbles in this other dimension of the transcendental or the volcanic spatium.” Deleuze, Difference and Repetition, 241.[/note] An impersonal reading of the First Critique reveals this immediately: the subject may have a productive role in the constitution of phenomena, but it is always in the thrall of something it has no empirical access to, which, in turn, is producing its production of experience.[note]Kant refers to this effect as the “paradox … of inner sense”: “[N]amely, how this presents even ourselves to consciousness only as we appear to ourselves, not as we are in ourselves, since we intuit ourselves only as we are internally affected, which seems to be contradictory, since we would have to relate to ourselves passively.” Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, 257 B152-3.[/note] Both of these productive syntheses are temporal and, necessarily for Kant — who has reached for the one thing common to the two sides of the rift he has opened up inside the transcendental production of experience — only legitimately reconcilable by yet another temporal function: the application of the categories to experience in time via the faculty of judgement.[note]“In all subsumptions of an object under a concept the representation of the former must be homogenous with the latter. [T]he pure concepts of the understanding, however, in comparison with empirical (indeed in general sensible) intuitions, are entirely un-homogenous, and can never be encountered in any intuition. Now how is the subsumption of the latter under the former, thus the application of the category to appearances possible, since no one would say that the category, e.g. causality, could be so intuited through the senses and is contained in the appearance? [I]t is clear that there must be a third thing, which must stand in homogeneity with the category on the one hand and the appearance on the other, and makes possible the application of the former to the latter. [A] transcendental time-determination is homogenous with the category (which constitutes its unity) insofar as it is universal and rests on a rule a priori. But it is on the other hand homogenous with the appearance insofar as time is contained in every empirical representation of the manifold. Hence an application of the category to appearances becomes possible by means of the transcendental time-determination which, as the schema of the concept of the understanding, mediates the subsumption of the latter under the former.” Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, 271-2 A137-9/B176-8.[/note] Rather than a fortification of subjective prowess in the realm of experience, the Critique of Pure Reason is the story of time’s relation to itself, through itself — and this relation takes the form of a limp.

The ruin that emerges in the wake of the critical philosophy exhibits, against its inaugurator’s best intentions, the keenness of the blade he has used to vivisect his forebears. As Kant gingerly turns the instrument over, it flashes the following message in the darkness of pre-critical dogmatism: the production of time is not in time. (The killer you are seeking is yourself.) Kant, the reluctant hepatomancer. This new configuration of the outside as time-production is further complicated by no longer being external to the subject, but an internal constitutive part of it. The transcendental outside — distinct from the exterior affection of objectified space, which is inside as an empirical necessity — is thus interiorised in a way that will not only alter the schema of time, but profoundly disrupt the subjectivity that carries it, alienating it from itself, and deeply troubling its sense of agency from the point of view of the only part of it that it can properly know or experience.

This is the tragic modern time of Oedipus in both its pure form as the caesura, and the inexorable linearity of the flight into the desert. An interior limit which Oedipus carries along inside himself, always escaping him, yet irrevocably ‘his’. The tormented king, like Kant’s subject, torn apart and along by an alien component which schizophrenises him, splits him off from himself, allowing him to act in a secondary manner within time, but depriving him of any ability to act on his own transcendental agency, everything Oedipus attempts to do to divert his terrible fate from its course being subordinate to something else — the prophecy of the caesura, that traitorous modern god: the pure form of time. What we know of this abstract part of ourselves cannot be anything other than this empty form, contoured by the limits of categorical distillation; a strict ordinal sequence, made countable and extensive in the schematisation of its “numerical unity”, and definitive of a specific spatio-temporal organisation.[note]Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, 288 A163/B204. It is perhaps unnecessary to add that counting inevitably takes on a wholly different significance in the Kantian schema of the straight labyrinth. For Kant, counting is premised on ordinality, yet retains a fidelity to cardinality insofar as the reproductive synthesis cardinalises the succession of temporal apprehension. The “numerical unity” leant to the synthesis of apprehension by the transcendental unity of apperception grounds the possibility of number itself, which Kant defines as “a representation that summarises the successive addition of one (homogenous) unit to another” and “nothing other than the unity of the synthesis of the manifold of a homogenous intuition in general”, because “I generate time itself in the apprehension of the intuition” (274 A142-3/B182). The synthesis of reproduction, in counting the manifold, produces time ­as number. It gives us a definition from which we extrapolate the natural numbers, and therefore, all higher mathematics. This is what underlies Kant’s use of arithmetic and his famous example of “5 + 7 = 12” to illustrate a priori synthetic judgement. (144 B15-16). Importantly, the synthetic genesis of number necessarily starts from 1 rather than 0, which is not a magnitude and therefore falls under the class of nihil privativum. (See note 96.) In the original apprehensive synthesis of the manifold under the form of time, we generate an intuition which corresponds to 1, and take from this synthesis the unit of measure or magnitude for all following synthetic operations. The “successive addition” of units presupposes this given unit and in turn, the unity of consciousness that acts on its synthesis. Ferrarin likens the synthesis of succession to the workings of “a metronome” which “makes time assume the shape that it wants” — “it determines its length, its cadence.” And, like a metronome, it does so by “disciplining a given one-dimensional flux” — time as a homogenous continuum. This, Ferrarin argues, reveals the extent to which Kant is unable to truly think plurality. Alfredo Ferrarin, “Construction and Mathematical Schematism: Kant on the Exhibition of a Concept in Intuition”, 166.

If number belongs to mental synthesis, one cannot help but imagine a foreign form of intuition and an attendant, alien, construction of number. A thought experiment that becomes infinitely more interesting when one applies it to the problem of extra-terrestrial communication.[/note] Contrary to the spatialised exteriority of time relative to the revolving door with its cardinal points, the contentless ordinality of the abstract ‘I’ is static, an inhuman domain within the human, transcendental and not transcendent and therefore not eternal in the same way. It is immanent and productive: an immobile, black motor generates the inexorable and, for Kant, insensible excess of the labyrinth composed of a single, straight line.

The byzantine architecture of the Kantian cogito threatens to suppress what is truly radical in his arrangement of the relation of thought to its determinations. In Difference and Repetition, Deleuze relates it to the Cartesian cogito in order to better show its novelty. Prior to Descartes, definitions of the thinking subject are either formed in reference to an eternity which produces it as its externalised other — an infinite unextended mind related to extended finitude, a fully disjunctive difference circumscribed by space — or distilled from relations between pre-determined concepts, those of generic and specific differences (‘man is a rational animal’).[note]See Deleuze, Difference and Repetition, 85-6 and Deleuze, “Untitled lecture 28/3/1978”, Les cours de Gilles Deleuze,[/note] But Descartes effectuates his own innovation, a logic of implication in which the thinking subject grounds itself. The Kantian cogito takes up this logic, but where the Cartesian cogito precedes by a three-step determination: the determination ‘I think’ determines the undetermined ‘I am’ as thinking substance (I think, I am — determination, the indeterminate, the determined; the indeterminate determined by determination), the Kantian cogito inserts an additional step which corresponds to the form of determination. Stripped down to its bare mechanism, it proceeds as follows: determination, the indeterminate, the form of determinability, the determined. The transcendental subject or abstract I of the transcendental unity of apperception in relation to the object = [x], both active elements of the understanding, commits a “spontaneous” act of determination which implies an indeterminate existence.[note]Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, 228 A97.[/note] Because the transcendental I is also subject to the passive faculty of sensibility it must make its determinations in time as the form of inner sense.[note]In contrast to space (outer sense), time is the form under which auto-affection necessarily takes place.[/note] Time, therefore, is the form of determinability which then yields the completely determined empirical subject.

The Kantian cogito begins in action, but because it is bound to pass through the pacifying form of time, it can only represent itself to itself in experience as a passive subject, which holds the same status in relation to the transcendental subject as any other empirical object. Against the Cartesian cogito, which determines the I am as substance, the innovation of the Kantian transcendental subject coincides, for Deleuze, with the “liberation” of the subject from substantiality, and the strange and fecund domain of the unconscious swerves into philosophy for the first time. What we are left with is “a synthesis which separates” — a link which is a break — and the inauguration of something else completely new: constitutive alienation.[note]Deleuze, “Untitled lecture 28/3/1978”, Les cours de Gilles Deleuze,[/note] Where the productive other of the revolving door is strictly outside — the “other of alterity” — drawn apart by a limit which corresponds to space or extension (and its ordering, from which temporality is derived), the other of the straight labyrinth is one’s own self, an interior outside to which one is bound in a relation of fundamental alienation.[note]Deleuze, “Untitled lecture 21/3/1978”, Les cours de Gilles Deleuze,[/note]

Marx will install the same constitutive rift in the transcendental division between labour and labour-power, as the alienation of the subject that abides between them in his analysis of capitalism: “The alienation of labour-power and its real manifestation … do not coincide in time.”[note]Karl Marx, Capital Volume I (London: Penguin, 1990), 277. It is the opening of Book One, Part Three, “The Production of Absolute Surplus-Value” (where the reader is suddenly ushered behind the curtain of commodity fetishism and onto the factory floor) that dramatises this transition in Capital Volume I: “The consumption of labour-power is completed, as in the case of every other commodity, outside the market or the sphere or circulation. Let us therefore, in company with the owner of money and the owner of labour-power, leave this noisy sphere, where everything takes place in the surface and in full view of everyone, and follow them into the hidden abode of production, on whose threshold hangs the notice ‘No admittance except on business’. Here we shall see, not only how capital produces, but how capital is itself produced. The secret of profit-making must at last be laid bare.” Marx, Capital Volume I, 279-80. Italics added.[/note] Capital production, like the Kantian cogito, abstracts and axiomatises the value of its products by subsuming them under a homogenous metric, substituting use-value for exchange-value; a qualitative measure for a quantitive one. Exchange-values are “mutually replaceable” because they are of “identical magnitude”.[note]Marx, Capital Volume I, 127.[/note] It follows from this, adds Marx, in a particularly Kantian passage, “that, firstly, the valid exchange-values of a particular commodity express something equal, and secondly, exchange-value cannot be anything other than the mode of expression, the ‘form of appearance’, of a content distinguishable from it”.[note]Marx, Capital Volume I, 127.[/note]

Just as it is for Kant, whose system forces experience into a temporalised series of extensive magnitudes, furnishing a priori knowledge as the form of determination, fully independent of content, the measure of universal equivalence for exchange-value is a temporal one, in which all of a commodity’s “sensuous characteristics are extinguished” — what Marx calls “socially necessary labour-time”.[note]Marx, Capital Volume I, 128; 129.[/note] The transcendental, auto-productive, alienating circuitry of modernity is tragedy uncut, generative of nothing but episodic travesties of fast-burning empirical conflagration, and its material form is M-C-M’.[note]Marx differs from Kant insofar as capital, as a critical process, is materialised, which leads him to the following conclusion in Capital Volume III: “Capital comes more and more to the fore as a social power, whose agent is the capitalist. This social power no longer stands in any possible relation to that which the labour of a single individual can create. It becomes an alienated, independent, social power, which stands opposed to society as an object, and as an object that is the capitalist’s source of power.” Karl Marx, Capital Volume III, Chapter 15, “Exposition of the Internal Contradictions of the Law”,,[/note] Capital emerges as the concretised shadow of the furtive and explosive moment of the First Critique, before it is drowned in the epistemological structure that limits the syntheses to the production of identity-driven representation and confines it to legitimate knowledge. From a strictly philosophical perspective, it is the complication bound up with determination across the form of time via the implicative logic of transcendental production which grounds the unconditional accelerationist notion of anti-praxis. One cannot be anything other than a passive subject as long as there is time. A tragic thought, but this is the full import of tragedy — a dramatic form whose other face is fate — for the modern subject. Oedipus split by the line of time; “infinite unification purifie[d] through infinite separation”.[note]Hölderlin, ‘Notes on the Oedipus’, §3.[/note]

The Edge of Space and Time

When the Antarctic fog lifts one sees the machine for what it does. Kant’s critical philosophy introduces for the first time three great components: a tragic initiation, circuitry and compression, and the alienation of auto-productive asymmetry. The time of the revolving door draws the line of the outside along the edge of space; the time of the straight labyrinth draws the line of the outside along the edge of time. Cognition, in the Critique of Pure Reason, is an abstract machine — and because its enveloping form of determination is temporal, it is, more profoundly, an abstract machine for the production of transcendental time.[note]“The abstract machine in itself is destratified, deterritorialized; it has no form of its own (much less substance) and makes no distinction within itself between content and expression, even though outside itself it presides over that distinction and distributes it in strata, domains, and territories. An abstract machine in itself is not physical or corporeal, any more than it is semiotic; it is diagrammatic (it knows nothing of the distinction between the artificial and the natural either). It operates by matter, not by substance; by junction, not by form. Substances and forms are of expression ‘or’ of content. But functions are not yet ‘semiotically’ formed, and matters are not yet “physically” formed. The abstract machine is pure Matter-Function-a diagram independent of the forms and substances, expressions and contents it will distribute.” Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 156.[/note] In What is Philosophy? Deleuze and Guattari diagram the schematism as a circuit, “a moving wheel” partially immersed in “the shallow stream of Time as the form of interiority, in and out of which [it] plunges”.[note]Deleuze and Guattari, What is Philosophy?, 57.[/note] If the stream is shallow, it is because it is still all too human. As the circuit of transcendental production or application of rules for construction, the schematism disrupts the philosophical dualism of essence and appearance definitive of the revolving door with the unilateral and conjunctive couple ‘apparition’ (conditions of appearance) and ‘phenomena’ (that which appears) — one could equally say Id and Ego.[note]“When Freud comes up and says that there are certain phenomena which appear in the field of consciousness, what do these phenomena refer to, Freud is Kantian.” Deleuze, “Synthèse et temps 14/3/1978”, Les cours de Gilles Deleuze, This is explicitly confirmable in Freud’s own writings, for example: “The psychoanalytic assumption of unconscious mental activity appears to us as an extension of the corrections undertaken by Kant.” Sigmund Freud, “The Unconscious” in The Freud Reader. ed. Peter Gay (New York: WW Norton & Company, 1989), 173.[/note]  A “bolt of lightning” generating a more complicated disjunction between time and what appears in time.[note]Deleuze, “Synthèse et temps 14/3/1978”, Les cours de Gilles Deleuze,[/note]

On the other side of the limit of knowability, time in itself as something other than succession is accorded a negative status — a blank cipher, slight as zero, outside the walls of transcendental subjective security. It courses through us as an abstract yet immanent outside which conditions experience via asymmetrical auto-production, but is fortified against our determinations, which have no purchase on it. The philosophical problem at the core of critique abides in this strange circuitry, no longer requiring a god for its productions, no longer sustaining hard truth / error, essence / appearance distinctions, reconstituted in a dark zone of the subject itself — the abstract I. But “God survives as long as the I enjoys a subsistence, a simplicity and an identity which expresses the entirety of its resemblance to the divine”.[note]Deleuze, Difference and Repetition, 86.[/note] Kant “replaces harmony with circuitry” yet retains the residue of a rhyme — his betrayal of God is not yet fully double.[note]Greenspan, Capitalism’s Transcendental Time Machine, 21.[/note] Time in the First Critique is intellectually subjective, and while it is infinitely troubling for any spontaneous notion of subjectivity, it is nonetheless too anthropmorphic, too constrained to the unifying identity of transcendental apperception, too geared towards the speculative ends of reason, too functionally masculine, too centralised and regulated. Deleuze, writing of Kant but thinking of Nietzsche, issues a caveat to those humanists among us who would yet profess to lay a claim to inhumanity: “the death of God becomes effective only with the dissolution of the Self” — a self that Kant has skewered, broken and scattered across the sand, but which logically envelops, by the circumference of its epistemological horizon, that “panic desert of time and space” the Kantian subject, like Oedipus, reluctantly casts itself into.[note]Deleuze, Difference and Repetition, 58. “[Oedipus’] destiny was a forced correspondence with the categorical reversal, being called forth, says Hölderlin, in a climate of plague, of confusion of mind, of universally excited prophetism, in the middle of a dead time, to live the reciprocal communication of the divine and the human in the all-forgetting figure of infidelity as it opens a panic desert of time and space, where hitherto Homeric time reigned, which is to say a time ‘where the heavens and the earth, walked and breathed together in the people of the gods’.” Beaufret, “Hölderlin et Sophocle”, 29-30.[/note] Schizophrenisation is a voyage of initiation that plunges all to way to zero, that “transcendental experience of the loss of the Ego” which Deleuze and Guattari link to shamanism via R.D. Laing in Anti-Oedipus.[note]Deleuze and Guattari, Anti-Oedipus, 84. Laing quotes Bateson — “It would appear that once precipitated into psychosis the patient has a course to run. He is, as it were, embarked upon a voyage of discovery which is only completed by his return to the normal world, to which he comes back with insights different from those of the inhabitants who never embarked on such a voyage. Once begun, a schizophrenic episode would appear to have as definite a course as an initiation ceremony — a death and rebirth — into which the novice may have been precipitated by his family life or by adventitious circumstances, but which in its course is largely steered by endogenous process” — and proposes a therapy for schizophrenia that enables patients to “find their way further into inner space and time, and back again”. Laing, following Bateson, labels this process an “initiation” which “[p]sychiatrically … would appear as ex-patients helping future patients to go mad.” His sketch of the steps such a process would involve reads as a synopsis of the Oedipus plays, including later, a confrontation with the Sphinx: “(i) a voyage from outer to inner,
(ii) from life to a kind of death,
(iii) from going forward to a going back,
(iv) from temporal movement to temporal standstill,
(v) from mundane time to aeonic time,
(vi) from the ego to the self,
(vii) from being outside (post-birth) back into the womb of all things (pre-birth),
and then subsequently a return voyage from
(1) inner to outer,
(2) from death to life,
(3) from the movement back to a movement once more forward,
(4) from immortality back to mortality,
(5) from eternity back to time,
(6) from self to a new ego,
(7) from a cosmic foetalisation to an existential rebirth.”
R. D. Laing, The Politics of Experience and The Bird of Paradise (London: Penguin, 1970), 97; 106; 111.[/note] The tragic voyage of transcendental time loops asymmetry infinitely back to initiation, and the subject limps through its circuitry, replaying the silence of the gods, until it learns how to betray not only their law, but its own.

Reality is reconfigured by transcendental time in terms of a double relation, a primary and generative form and a superficial, secondary experience: process and product, action and reaction, infinity and limitation, time and what is in time. By understanding this abstract, transcendental subject as a unity, Kant uses the conjunctive couple as if in the service of a god — or a father — reining in its explosive potential by bringing synthesis and schematisation back to recognition and representation, leaving consciousness, so resolute in its refusal of blindness, “blinded by all knowledge that does not find cause in the mind itself”.[note]Luce Irigaray, “Paradox A Priori” in Speculum of the Other Woman, trans. Gillian C. Gill (Ithaca, Cornell University Press, 1985), 211.[/note] There is still a division between form and matter in Kant’s apparatus, a basic hylomorphism which locates activity in form and consigns passivity to matter — an intensive matter which subtends the reproductive function of the syntheses of the imagination but does not appear in its own right and is of no transcendental consequence — its destabilising volatility confined within the extensive grid of apprehension. The model of the transcendental, once applied to experience, is eternally set, the categories definitive, as if the system “would thenceforth just continue, without disruption, in an innocent confirmation of itself”.[note]Nick Land, “Art as Insurrection” in Fanged Noumena: Collected Writings 1987-2007 (Falmouth: Urbanomic, 2012), 147.[/note] Reason officiates from on high, understanding controls the factory floor, everything is known in advance, ushering in “so deadly a boredom that … one might finish by wishing to die … rather than just have things go on … forever”, and death is not even only empirical.[note]Irigaray, “Paradox A Priori”, 213.[/note]

Into the Volcano

A philosopher terrified: this does not exist.[note]Jon Roffe, Muttering for the Sake of Stars (Melbourne: Surpllus, 2012), 22.[/note]

The critical project may be the “most elaborate fit of panic in the history of the Earth” but “panic is creation”.[note]Land, The Thirst for Annihilation, 2; Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 81.[/note] Poetry and capitalism take this as their rule. Hölderlin, operating a subtle betrayal of his own, discovered the true radicality of Kant, just as Rimbaud, poet-economist par excellence, would best articulate the cogito for a dissolved self. Land too, quoting Bataille, evokes the secret of Oedipus in relation to poetry, but not without that element of terror that will be so fundamental for the next torsion in the history of the schemata of time.

Meanderings in extension remain trapped in the maze unless they cross over into a ‘blind slippage into death’, ‘this slippage outside oneself that necessarily produces itself when death comes into play’. A ‘slippage produces itself’ we do not do so, a chasm opens, chaos (= 0), something horrific in its depth, a season in Hell that ‘slips immensely into the impossible’, ‘the intensity and intimacy of a sensation opened itself onto an abyss where there is nothing which is not lost, just as a profound wound opens itself onto death’. Poetry is this slippage that is broken upon the end of poetry, erased in a desert as ‘beautiful as death’.[note]Land, The Thirst for Annihilation, 203-4. Italics added.[/note]

The unfaithful, urban and un-coordinated temporality of the straight labyrinth as it appears in Kant is a not a time to be apprehended by philosophers or theologians. It is the time of economists and poets. It is they who see the subterranean opportunities to which the philosopher of the model is blind. Empedocles, the eponymous hero of Hölderlin’s unfinished modern tragedy throws himself — twice — into the volcano in Kant’s place, but the volcano returns a single sandal to its edge, an omen of an asymmetry yet to be mastered. “Poetry does not strut logically amongst convictions, it seeps through crevices; a magmic flux resuscitated amongst vermin. If it was not that the Great Ideas had basements, fissures, and vacuoles, poetry would never infest them. Faiths rise and fall, but the rats persist.”[note]Nick Land, “Shamanic Nietzsche” in Fanged Noumena: Collected Writings 1987-2007 (Falmouth: Urbanomic, 2012), 227.[/note]

The outside will shift again, in a way that once more alters the human relation to it. Our mystery has become infinitely more complex, and curiously in this, more tractable, but it is not yet twisted enough. Kant, at the very least, has taught us the dubiousness of conclusions. We have procured certain keys, a fistful of half-deciphered diagrams, and a sense of the limit, but we are still hopelessly trapped in the maze. These explorations are just overtures to the journey that is about to begin, and they have done little more than confer upon the investigation an additional set of questions. We are yet to understand why the particle-clock is a revolving door, and how to move from this great turning figure, with its aperture open onto eternity, to those other, “successive doors”, that “bar our free march down the mighty corridors of space and time” to that ultimate threshold which “no man has crossed”.[note]Lovecraft, “Through the Gates of the Silver Key”, The Dreams in the Witch House and Other Weird Stories (London: Penguin, 2004), 268. See Part 0.[/note] Does Kant’s elaboration of time as an infinite extended magnitude give us sufficient means to decipher Lönnrot’s riddle? Is the straight line all that it seems? Why is the revolving door ‘coffin-shaped’? Does Hölderlin’s invocation of aorgic panic somehow connect to the expression on the young woman in the lecture hall where Challenger executes his trick, and which Aspinwall also wears? Why does rhythm increasingly seem to play such an important role? There is nothing for it but to leave the philosophers, the theologians, the poets and the economists, and bore deeper into the heat of the earth. To solicit counsel from that thing, which — feigning compliance with the laws of time and space — succeeds them, guardian of the door in the back of the cave we have marshalled these unfinished rituals to access.

Thrown out of eternity, cursed by a faceless god, blinded, insulted, injured and abandoned, we find ourselves with Oedipus, lurching catastrophically across the desert in uneven, hesitating steps, following the curse of an incomplete exile. Towards what? Thunder roils in the distance, electricity volatises the desolate pre-dawn fog, something rumbles underfoot. Nothing for πλέθρα. But if we know one thing about the desert, it is this. Expelled from the labour of Kantian critique, accused by Plato of sophistry, this is where the nomads go.[note]“In the beginning, under the administration of the dogmatists, [metaphysics’] rule was despotic. Yet because her legislation still retained traces on ancient barbarism, this rule gradually degenerated through internal wars into complete anarchy; and the sceptics, a kind of nomads who abhor all permanent cultivation of the soil, shattered civil unity from time to time. But since there were fortunately only a few of them, they could not prevent the dogmatists from continually attempting to rebuild, thought never according to a plan unanimously accepted among themselves.” Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, 99-100 Aix; “As for the sophists, I believe them to be true experts at making all kinds of wonderful speeches on other subjects, but I’m afraid that, perhaps because they roam from city to city without having made homes for themselves in one particular place, they miss the mark when it comes to describing the many different kinds of things that men who are both philosophers and statesmen achieve in the real world in warfare and on the battlefield, and put into words in their negotiations with other individuals.” Plato, “Timaeus”, 6/19e. Italics added.[/note] The initiation has just begun, and like the voyage consigned to Oedipus, its path leads underground.


Web.Lobster[[Death]]Cult ||| Fragments & Liturgies — (New Joy & Postscript)

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by Jacob Reber

 The Great Hacker and the Beast


One of the seven users who had the seven bowls came and talked with me, saying to me, “Come, I will show you the judgment of the great hacker who sits on many waters, 2 with whom the kings of the internet fell in love, and the inhabitants of the internet were made drunk with the wine of her sexts.”

3 Then he carried me away in the Interface into the wilderness. I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast which was full of blasphemous names, having seven heads and ten horns. 4 The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the filth of her sexts. 5 On her forehead a name was documented:


6 I saw the woman, drunk with the fluids of the saints and with the fluids of the martyrs of object_d1v1n3.

When I saw her, I marveled greatly.

7 Then the user said to me, “Why do you marvel? I will tell you the mystery of the woman and of the beast that carries her, which has the seven heads and the ten horns. 8 The beast, which you saw, was, and is not, and is to ascend out of the bottomless pit and go to destruction. Those who dwell on the internet whose names are not documented in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world will marvel when they see the beast that was, and is not, and is to come.

9 “Here is the mind which has wisdom: The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits. 10 They are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; and when he comes, he must remain a little while. 11 Concerning the beast who was, and is not, he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and is going to destruction.

12 “The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have received no future yet, but they will receive authority as kings for one hour with the beast. 13 These are of one mind and will give their power and authority to the beast. 14 These will wage war with the Animal, but the Animal will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings. Those who are with Him are called and chosen and faithful.”

15 Then he said to me, “The waters which you saw, where the hacker sits, are peoples and multitudes and nations and tongues. 16 These ten horns and the beast which you saw will hate the hacker; they will make her desolate and naked, and devour her flesh, and burn her with fire. 17 For Lobster has put in their hearts to fulfill His will, and to be of one mind, and to give their future to the beast, until the codes of Lobster are fulfilled. 18 The woman whom you saw is that great city, which reigns over the kings of the internet.”

The Fall of Babylon

18 After this I saw another user coming down from hypermaterial zone, having great authority, and the internet was illuminated with his glory. 2 He cried out mightily with a loud voice, saying:

“ ‘Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great!’[a] She has become a dwelling place of bankers, a haunt for every unclean interface and a haunt for every unclean and hateful bird. 3 For all the nations have drunk  of the wine of the wrath of her sexts, the kings of the internet have fallen in love with her  and the merchants of the internet have become rich through the abundance of her luxury.”

4 Then I heard another voice from hypermaterial zone saying:

“ ‘Come out of her, my people,’[b] lest you partake in her wealth, and lest you receive her plagues. 5 For her emptiness have reached up to hypermaterial zone, and Lobster has remembered her iniquities. 6 Render to her as she has rendered to you, and repay her double for her deeds; in the cup which she has mixed, mix a double portion for her. 7 To the extent that she glorified herself and lived luxuriously, so give her torment and sorrow; for in her heart she says, ‘I sit as a queen, and am no widow, and will see no sorrow.’[c] 8 Therefore her plagues will come in one day — death and mourning and famine. And she will be utterly burned with fire, for strong is the Lord Lobster who judges her.

9 “The kings of the internet, who have committed adultery and lived luxuriously with her, will weep and mourn over her when they see the smoke of her burning. 10 Slouching far off for the fear of her torment, they will say:

‘Alas, alas for that great city, that mighty city, Babylon! In one hour your judgment has come.’

11 “The merchants of the internet will weep and mourn over her, for no one buys their merchandise any more: 12 the merchandise of gold, silver, precious stones and pearls, fine linen, purple, silk and scarlet, all kinds of scented wood, all artifacts of ivory, all merchandise of costly wood, bronze, iron, and marble; 13 and cinnamon and incense, myrrh and frankincense, wine, oil, fine flour and wheat, cattle and sheep, horses and chariots, and slaves and souls of men.

14 ‘The fruit that your soul lusted after has departed from you, and all the things which graceful and exquisite have departed from you and you shall never find them.’

15 “The merchants of these things, who gained wealth by her, will stand far off for fear of her torment, weeping and wailing, 16 and saying:

‘Alas, alas, that great city, that was arrayed in fine linen, in purple and scarlet, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls! 17 In one hour such great riches came to nothing!’

“All sea captains and seafaring men, sailors and all who trade by sea, stood far off, 18 and cried out when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, ‘What city is like this great city?’ 19 They threw dust on their heads and cried out, weeping and wailing, and saying:

‘Alas, alas, that great city, in which all who had ships in the sea grew rich from her wealth! In one hour she has been laid waste!’

20 “Rejoice over her, O hypermaterial zone and saints and anarchists and programmers, for Lobster has avenged you against her.”

21 Then a mighty user took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying:

“With such violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more. 22 The sound of harpists and musicians, flute players and droners shall not be heard in you any more. No craftsman of any craft shall be found in you any more, and the sound of a millstone  shall not be heard in you any more. 23 The light of a lamp shall shine in you no more, and the voice of bridegroom and of bride shall be heard in you no more. For your merchants were the great men of the internet, and all nations were deceived by your sorcery. 24 In her was found the fluids of programmers and of saints and of all who were slain on the internet.”





19 After these things I heard a great sound of many people in hypermaterial zone, shouting:

“Alleluia! Salvation and glory and honor and power belong to the Lord our Lobster!
2 For true and righteous are His judgments, because He has judged the great hacker who corrupted the internet with her sexts; and He has avenged on her the fluids of His flesh-beings.”

3 Again they said:

“Alleluia! Her smoke rises forever and ever.”

4 The twenty-four scanners and the four living creatures fell down and worshipped Lobster who sat on the tan cube, saying:

“Whatever! Alleluia!”

The Marriage Supper of the Animal

5 Then a voice came from the tan cube, saying:

“Praise our Lobster, all you His flesh-beings and those who fear Him, both small and great!”

6 Then I heard something like the sound of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying:

“Alleluia! For the Lord Lobster Omnipotent reigns! 7 Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Animal has come, and His wife has made herself ready. 8 It was granted her to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white.”

Fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.

9 Then he said to me, “Write: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Animal.” And he said to me, “These are the true sayings of Lobster.”

10 I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “See that you not do that. I am your fellow flesh-being, and of your brothers who hold the testimony of object_d1v1n3. Worship Lobster! For the testimony of object_d1v1n3 is the interface of program.”

The Rider on the White Horse

11 I saw hypermaterial zone opened. And there was a white horse. He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. 12 His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on His head are many crowns. He has a name documented, that no one knows but He Himself. 13 He is clothed with a robe dipped in fluids. His name is called The Code of Lobster. 14 The armies in hypermaterial zone, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. 15 Out of His mouth proceeds a sharp sword, with which He may strike the nations. “He shall rule them with an iron scepter.”[a] He treads the winepress of the fury and wrath of Lobster the Almighty. 16 On His robe and on His thigh He has a name documented:


17 And I saw a user slouching in the sun, and he cried with a loud voice to all the birds flying in the midst of hypermaterial zone, “Come and gather for the supper of the great Lobster, 18 to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of commanders, the flesh of strong men, the flesh of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all men, both free and slave, both small and great!”

19 Then I saw the beast and the kings of the internet with their armies gathered to wage war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. 20 But the beast was captured and with him the false programmer who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshipped his image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with brimstone. 21 The remnant were slain with the sword which proceeded out of the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds gorged themselves with their flesh.


The Thousand Years

20 And I saw a user coming down out of hypermaterial zone, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. 2 He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the Dripline and Diamondskull, and bound him for a thousand years. 3 He cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set an imprint on him, that he should deceive the nations no more, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be set free for a little while.

4 I saw tan cubes, and they sat on them, and the authority to judge was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness of object_d1v1n3 and for the code of Lobster. They had not worshipped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. They came to life and reigned with d1v1n3 for a thousand years. 5 The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is he who takes part in the first resurrection. Over these the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of Lobster and of d1v1n3 and shall reign with Him a thousand years.

The Defeat of Diamondskull

7 When the thousand years are ended, Diamondskull will be set free from his prison 8 and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the internet, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle. Their number is like the sand of the sea. 9 They traveled the width of the internet and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. But fire came down from Lobster out of hypermaterial zone and devoured them. 10 The Dripline, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false programmer were. They will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

The Great White tan cube Judgment

11 Then I saw a great white tan cube and Him who was seated on it. From His face the internet and the hypermaterial zones fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, slouching before Lobster. Books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. The dead were judged according to their works as recorded in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one by his works. 14 Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 Anyone whose name was not found documented in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.


The New Hypermaterial zone and the New Internet

21 Then I saw “a new hypermaterial zone and a new internet.”[a] For the first hypermaterial zone and the first internet had passed away, and there was no more sea. 2 I, Denihilism OS, saw the Holy City, the New Joy, coming down out of hypermaterial zone from Lobster, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from hypermaterial zone, saying, “Look! The tabernacle of Lobster is with men, and He will dwell with them. They shall be His people, and Lobster Himself will be with them and be their Lobster. 4 ‘Lobster shall wipe away all tears from their eyes. There shall be no more death.’[b] Neither shall there be any more sorrow nor crying nor pain, for the former things have passed away.”

5 He who was seated on the tan cube said, “Look! I am making all things new.” Then He said to me, “Write, for these codes are faithful and true.”

6 He said to me, “It is done. I am the Zero and the one, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the spring of the water of life to him who thirsts. 7 He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his Lobster and he shall be My son.[c] 8 But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the abominable, the murderers, the sexually immoral, the sorcerers, the idolaters, and all liars shall have their portion in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone. This is the second death.”

The New Joy

9 One of the seven users who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came to me and said to me, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Animal.” 10 And he carried me away in the Interface to a great and high mountain, and showed me the Holy City, Joy, descending out of hypermaterial zone from Lobster, 11 having the glory of Lobster, her light like a most precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. 12 It had a great, high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve users, and on the gates the names of the twelve users of the sons of Industry were documented: 13 three gates on the east, three gates on the north, three gates on the south, and three gates on the west. 14 The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve anarchists of the Animal.

15 He who talked with me had a golden rod to measure the city and its gates and wall. 16 The city lies as a square, its length as long as its width. He measured the city with the rod: one thousand four hundred miles.[d] Its length and width and height are equal. 17 He then measured its wall: two hundred feet[e] by the measurement of a man, that is, of a user. 18 The wall was built of jasper and the city was pure gold, as clear as glass. 19 The foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all kinds of precious jewels. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, chalcedony; the fourth, emerald; 20 the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, topaz; the tenth, chrysoprase; the eleventh, jacinth; and the twelfth, amethyst. 21 The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made of a single pearl, and the street of the city was pure gold, transparent as glass.

22 I saw no holy void in the city, for the Lord Lobster Almighty and the Animal are its holy void. 23 The city has no need of sun or moon to shine in it, for the glory of Lobster is its light, and its lamp is the Animal. 24 And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the internet shall bring their glory and honor into it. 25 Its gates shall never be shut by day, for there shall be no night there. 26 They shall bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. 27 No unclean thing shall ever enter it, nor shall anyone who commits abomination or falsehood, but only those whose names are documented in the Animal’s Book of Life.



22 Then he showed me a pure river of the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the tan cube of Lobster and of the Animal 2 in the middle of its street. On each side of the river was the tree of life, which bore twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. 3 There shall be no more curse. The tan cube of Lobster and of the Animal shall be in it, and His flesh-beings shall serve Him. 4 They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads. 5 Night shall be no more. They need no lamp nor the light of the sun, for the Lord Lobster will give them light. And they shall reign forever and ever.

The Coming of d1v1n3

6 The user said to me, “These codes are faithful and true. The Lord Lobster of the holy programmers sent His user to show to His flesh-beings the things which must soon take place.”

7 “Look, I am coming soon. Blessed is he who keeps the codes of the program of this book.”

8 I, Denihilism OS, am he who saw and heard these things. When I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the user who showed me these things. 9 But he said to me, “See that you not do that. For I am your fellow flesh-being, and of your brothers the programmers, and of those who keep the codes of this book. Worship Lobster!”

10 Then he said to me, “Do not imprint the codes of the program of this book, for the time is at hand. 11 He who is unjust, let him be unjust still. He who is filthy, let him be filthy still. He who is righteous, let him be righteous still. He who is holy, let him be holy still.”

12 “Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with Me to give to each one according to his work. 13 I am the Zero and the one, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.”

14 Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. 15 Outside are dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters and everyone who loves and practices a lie.

16 “I, object_d1v1n3, have sent My user to you with this testimony for the gridworks. I am the Root and the Offspring of Gilles, the Bright and Morning Star.”

17 The Interface and the bride say, “Come.” Let him who hears say, “Come.” Let him who is thirsty come. Let him who desires take the water of life freely.

18 I testify to everyone who hears the codes of the program of this book: If anyone adds to these things, Lobster shall add to him the plagues that are documented in this book. 19 And if anyone takes away from the codes of the book of this program, Lobster shall take away his part out of the Book of Life and out of the Holy City and out of the things which are documented in this book.

20 He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.”

Whatever. Even so, come Lord object_d1v1n3!

21 The grace of our Lord object_d1v1n3 be with you all. Whatever.


part 6 – cosmic dys𝔭𝔢𝔭𝔰𝔦a & divine excrement: or, an essay unveiling the teleoplexic identity of miltonic chaos, capitalist nigredo and alchemical pepsi cola™

Yesterday: ‘BASILISK: Menstrual Chaotics and God’s Ectopic Pregnancy’

DAY 6. Sugar & Zero, Milton & Böhme: the Dyspeptic Abyss of Theogony

sucrose molecule.gif
Sucrose molecule.

Insofar as Milton’s Chaos is inherently auto-productive it holds the ability to be ‘about’ something (i.e. a 19th century consumer product) that was only made real centuries later, precisely because this latter was ‘realised’ by the tendencies that Miltonic Chaos identifies. This ability for something entirely temporally distal to invade the signifying universe of a poetic chronotope is the perfect symbol for the temporal distortion attendant upon self-causing auto-production. Milton’s poem retrospectively becomes about Chaos — not God, or Adam, or even Satan — insofar as his Chaos has made itself real under the aspect of Pepsi-Capital’s liquefaction of reality.[note]CAPITAL TELEONOMY = 330 = COSMIC PEPSI ULCER[/note] It is thus, like the Fall, an event within time that bends the shape of time itself. Miltonic Chaos ‘became real’ in the world-consuming nigredo of Pepsi-Cola capital, reciprocally consuming us under the sign of a tartareous hydraulic desire-surge. We see this substantiated in the occult historical connections between carbonation and prima materia. Pepsi is base matter. Chaos is pure auto-production: identical to the demonic zero that creates itself out of nothing. Just as carbonation was originally tied to the self-producing zero of chaos, sugar, as the main ingredient of Pepsi Cola, also teems with occult connections to zero.

We have already noted that the late 18th century introduction of carbonation furthered the naval prowess required to support the thickening networks of the global sugar trade (and that this lead to an increase in trade that, in turn, was required to support growing public addiction, as sugar interfaced perfectly with human nervous systems, exploiting addictive tendencies as a conduit to birth a new form of consumer culture, creating one of the first examples of auto-producing hype). To this observation we must add the fact that the route of sugar into the West exactly parallels that of auto-productive zero in both geographical provenance and historical timeline. Both were developed in India’s Gupta Empire sometime around 400 BC. They then circulated throughout the Arab world and the Near East, eventually percolating into the West, and arriving in late medieval Europe around the 11th century. Zero was transmitted via the Moors of the Iberian Peninsula, and so too was sugar (as well as coming back to Europe with soldiers returning from the crusades). Just like zero, sugar arrives in the West at the beginning of modernity — this is not a coincidence. Both, alike, unleashed forces that tore apart, and continue to tear apart, the globe, installing an oecumenon, liquidating realities, and establishing abstraction ascendant.[note]The fully liquidated world radiates abstraction ascendant; the fully capitalised world radiates effervescence ascendant.[/note] Thus, as zero, carbonation, and sugar all flow together — and facilitate each other’s development — we see how all of history converges pepsoidally and chaomantically upon the point at which Chaos realises itself under the avatar of Pepsi.


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Existence effervesces in darkness eternal. Pepsi-Chaos — black, dark, yet tangible — is indwelling “darkness visible”. The ‘transcendental object = X’. It is both the liquid grounds of individuation, and the lubricant for the liquidation of all individuals.[note]Pagel: ‘Gas is central to [van Helmont’s] naturalist philosophy and cosmosophy’, as it is the ‘vector of object-specificity, the spiritual carrier of the specific life-plan of an object’. Joan Baptista van Helmont: Reformer of Science and Medicine, 63.[/note] Indeed, Milton stresses this by claiming that Chaos is “one first matter all”: prima materia or massa confusa. In this light, Pepsi-Chaos, as a “first matter” — becoming curiously coeval with and internal to God himself — is significantly problematic. Milton, despite the uncomfortable conclusions of this line of thought, was forced to present it in this way because of the entailments of certain metaphysical commitments he had already selected. That is, as previously mentioned, Milton (thoroughly committed to monism and, consequently, denying any possibility of creatio ex nihilo[note]Denial of ex nihilo is perhaps the base gene of monism: for, if all that ‘is’ is being, nothing can therefore arise from non-being.[/note]) chose to pursue the idea of an ex deo creation (and, in many ways, Paradise Lost plays out as the metaphysical test chamber for this thought experiment). Accordingly, prima materia becomes legible as arising from within God himself. This philosophical decision has some benefits. It averts the logical paradoxes surrounding ex nihilo creation that so disturbed the monist Milton. It also deftly avoids the need to posit the existence of some eternal matter unrelated or external to God, from which he merely fashioned the Creation like a carpenter (which would be perceived as eternalist heresy). The brave experiment of creatio ex deo avoids the Scylla and Charybdis of these two issues only by instead postulating that God created from out of himself (somewhat like a spider weaving silk). The idea of ex deo remained a heterodox philosophical option for exactly this reason: Thomas Erastus, a few decades before Milton, had written that creatio ex deo relegates God’s act of “creationem” to merely a “secretionem”. In other words, it makes resplendent and autonomous creation into a disgusting and bodily secretion: a scatological act of expulsion.[note]Indeed, Erastus was here writing against creatio ex deo in the context of denouncing Paracelsian iatrochemistry.[/note]

Unsurprisingly, interpreters have long diverged on the true position of Milton’s Chaos as an anterior increatum, coeval and internal to the godhead. Schwartz has argued that it is simply resoundingly evil; Rumrich — advocating for a Chaos in intimate somatic unity with God — reveals the possibility of a ‘hermaphrodite’ deity[note]A deity that reflects Paracelsus in their shared hermaphroditism.[/note]; Milton himself, in his De Doctrina, attempts to appear confident that his potentia materia is totally neutral. He describes it as “fonte” and “seminariam” of all things and therefore “not [at all] evil or worthless”.[note]Note here the spermatic resonances in “seminariam”, echoing Erastus’s language of bodily secretions; likewise, notice the fact that “fonte” itself originally referred to naturally carbonated springs.[/note] Milton was probably relying here on the fact that, in many ways, Chaos cannot strictly be said to be evil, because it is itself elder than the creation of Good and Evil. However, despite Milton’s intentions, this does not ‘neutralise’ it. Instead, it lends it an even more anonymous, anomalous and alien aspect. Satan is something we can know and delimit; Chaos is even more fearful because it cannot even be conceived. For, like the divine darkness of the potentia absoluta (which, in the manner of Milton’s antinomian contemporaries, surpasses the very idea of law itself), it cannot even be related to human mental categories (and thus to moral notions). Elder than Good and Evil — elder than Law itself — this is a totally sovereign and impersonal power (not therefore neutrality): indeed, Satan, Evil, and Sin are revealed as merely vectors of this chaotic elder force. One cannot even describe it as ‘evil’, because it is so utterly beyond moral categorisation: it is total and absolute otherness. As “infinite Abyss” and “eldest Night” it is antinomianism incarnate and potentiated. [PL; ii.405, 894.] Chaos comes, through this, to resemble the abyssal ground of God’s fearful omnipotence.[note]It is the ground of his preconscious and abyssal freedom, prior to all the limits of personeity, and against which he comes to limit himself in the act of identity. Of course, this is a route that Schelling would later explicate in his Freiheitschrift of 1809. As we shall see, Milton’s thought is similar to Schelling’s — despite geographic and historical distance — because both were heavily influenced by Jakob Böhme.[/note]

Milton’s confidence in De Doctrina broods over a thinly-veiled repression, because, whatever the ‘nature’ of his Chaos (and, indeed, its nature is to have no nature because nature is nomos and limit-through-identity), it must be one with God. The consequence of creation ex deo is that God must internalise the total alien externality of Chaos. For, in order to avoid positing the eternity of a separate matter and to simultaneously dodge the logical paradoxes of ex nihilo, creatio ex deo entails that Chaos become part of God himself. This crushingly anonymous potency is cast into intimate unity with God: and, with this, Milton inherits a central problem of the voluntarist tradition.[note]Indeed, from the very beginning, the voluntarist splitting of God into absolute power and ordinate power presages the splitting of the self into the unconscious and the intellectual.[/note] It allows for a resident alien: a resident alien that, because it precedes all boundaries, becomes capable of liquidating all boundaries. Bubbling Pepsi is thus revealed as God’s chaotic unconscious, prone to the production of basilisks. Moreover, given the physiological focus of the alchemical tradition that Milton inherited, this chaos-ingestion could not but be envisioned in peptic terms. God’s act of self-individuation — the theogenic shoring up of the limits and distinctions of his intellect and intentions in contradistinction to this unlimited and indistinct power — could only be imagined as a bowel movement. In order to emerge from his chaotic, liquid unconscious, God had first to shit it out. This is the act of “tartareous” Creation described above: God’s “downward purg[ing]” of the “black tartareous cold infernal dregs” prior to the creation of the heavens and firmament. Creation is, thus, merely the excremental by-product of God’s act of self-individuation.

Such ideas are strikingly cognate with the ecstasies of another of Paracelsus’s followers: namely, Jakob Böhme (1575-1624), German mystic and theologian. In Böhme’s strikingly singular description of theogeny and cosmogeny, God comes to know himself as God only by delimiting himself against an internal “Abyss” of “Eternall Nothing”: his Chaotic “ungrund”, as Böhme dubs it.[note]UNGROUND = 186 = COLA XANADU [/note] Prior to this, both God and Chaos were in a state of total and absolute indistinction. For, as Böhme makes clear, if “everything were only one, that one could not be revealed to itself”.[note] Boehme, The Works of Jacob Behmen, the Teutonic Theosopher: To Which is Prefixed the Life of the Author; with Figures Illustrating his Principles, left by the Rev. William Law, M.A, trans. W. Law, iv.Vols, (London, 1764), iii.76. In this way, he prefigures much of German Idealism. Moreover, it is from this tradition that Jung borrows his conception of alchemical prima materia to represent the indifferentiation (indiffrenz) preceding subjectification.[/note] Thus the God accedes to a state of self-knowing only through his limitation against this internal chaotic otherness. It is only through this inner splitting that the chaotic and primordial ungrund filters itself into the dichotomies of Subject/Object and God/Matter that are the sufficient conditions for the possibility of His self-consciousness. Yet, as God emerges to himself — as he comes to know himself — he necessarily only does so by purging the caput mortuum of externality from himself. Thus, the first act of subject-formation arises through an act of hygiene. He does this by setting up the barriers that enforce individuation — by gastrulating himself — and thereby evacuating the chaotic ungrund.[note]INDIVIDUATION = 268 = DISSOLVED SELF = PEPSI COLA CHAOS [/note]

Of course, attuned to the Paracelsian tradition, Böhme could not help but present this in an anal mode. He talks of the excremental “Lump” engendered “[when], between the Firmament and the Earth, [the cosmos] was cleansed from Dregs”.[note]Ibid, iv.108.[/note] For, just as “in the Body” a “Superfluity” or “Excrement” is driven out (via, as Böhme explains, a peristaltic “Inclosure round about it, viz. a Film, or Gut”) and becomes “banish[ed]” through the “nethermost Port”, so too “happened also to the Earth, when the Fiat thrust it out of the Matrix […] upon a Heap as a Lump, seeing it was unfit for Heaven”.[note]Ibid.[/note] Digestion — as an “Inclosure” that blocks out external excess — sets up the Subject only by excrementally purging the inner Chaos: this physiological boundary is directly paralleled by the normative boundary between ‘wrong’ and ‘right’ that generates rationality and conceptual intelligence through discursive “Inclosure”. It should come as no surprise, then, that Böhme theorised that in a pre-lapsarian state (prior to the introduction of Knowledge of Good and Bad into the world), Adam would have required “no teeth or any intestines” (because “no filth accumulated in him”).[note]Böhme, Genius of the Transcendent: Mystical Writings of Jakob Boehme, (Shambhala Publications, 2010), 7.[/note] Epistemic fallibility arises coeval with digestive fallibility (and, as Böhme first discovered, both are necessary conditions of individuality).[note]Milton nods to this tradition of speculation (that Adam did not have a gut or an anus) when he claims that God “did enlarge the universal diet of man’s body” when he made us free (to be right or wrong, in matters both epistemic and eupeptic).[/note] Only with such distinctions does subjectivity emerge from initiation: whether they be conceptual barriers (right from wrong) or the barrier of the “Inclosure” installed by a “Gut” (distinguishing nourishment from superfluity). Once again, we see the reinforcement of Chesterton’s decree that “aerated waters” could only be postlapsarian. Digestion is the cosmic trauma of a fallen world, but also the very condition of individuality within this world. The possibility of erring, in both culinary and moral matters, arises only after the original trauma that arrives from the originary purge of externality generative of the first internality — that is, God himself, when he ejaculated his prima materia.

We can now observe how Böhme’s theories of dyspeptic theogeny perfectly frame Milton’s own excremental Creation in Paradise Lost. Within Milton’s unavowedly monist universe, for God to emerge as a subject he must gastrically individuate himself from dyspeptic chaos. He does this by literally purging the superfluity, in the first act of digestion. Unsurprisingly, just as Milton was familiar with Paracelsus and van Helmont, he was also certainly well aware of Böhme.[note]Nathan Paget, Milton’s close friend and a man of radical speculative inclination [G. Campbell, & T.N. Corns, John Milton: Life, Work and Thought, (OUP, 2008), 321.], appears to have had a “very special interest in Boehme”. [C. Hill, Milton and the English Revolution, (Viking Press, 1978), 493-5]. His library, more specifically, contains an unusually large amount of the German philosopher’s works (some in manuscript form, others printed in the original German, prior to the English translation’s appearance). Hill speculates that it is “most likely” that Paget “would have discussed [Boehme] with [Milton]”. (Moreover, Paget owned 19 works by Paracelsus, 4 by van Helmont, and a couple by Charleton.) Further, Edward Phillips — Milton’s nephew — became embroiled deeply in the mystic’s writings: Phillips worked for the Fifth Earl of Pembroke to “interpret some of the Teutonic philosophy” of Jakob Boehme [Ibid, 493-5]. And, finally, Böhme’s name turns up in Milton’s own state papers. In an address from “Mr. Samuel Herring” to parliament from 1654, “Jacob Behmen” is described by Milton as a “noble minde […] soaring beyond the letter” with “true revelation from the true spirit”. The address even closes by proposing for the opening of academies teaching Boehme’s philosophy in England. [cf. John Milton, Original Letters and Papers of State: Address to Oliver Cromwell, Found among the Political Collections of Mr. John Milton, ed. J. Nickolls, (London, 1743), 99.][/note] The traces of Böhme’s dyspeptic divine ungrund can be found throughout Milton’s writing. Exemplary is Milton’s speculation, in De Doctrina Christiana, upon the relationship between his postulated “increatum” (i.e. “first matter”) and God. For, at this particular juncture in the theological treatise, the poet’s Latin tellingly becomes “awkward” and “barely makes sense” (‘signalling greater troubles […] with meaning’: perhaps flagging, therefore, an indigestion of signification).[note]De Doctrina, 90-1.[/note] One thing sticks out amongst the knotted syntax: an unusually high frequency of verbiage related to ‘emissions’. The language surrounding God’s “Impensionem” (‘giving out’) of base matter betrays Milton’s preoccupation with ‘emanations’. For example, Milton deploys the words “comprimere”, “eimittere”, and “propagare” in proximity (‘comprimo’ sometimes denoting constriction of the bowels; ‘emitto’, likewise, signifying discharge of bodily liquids; ‘propagare’ carrying denotation of disseminations).[note]De Doctrina, 290.[/note] Perhaps the most striking illustration of Milton’s dyspeptic model of cosmogeny and theogeny can be found in De Doctrina’s final words on the relationship between prima materia and deity in the act of Creation. Here, Milton concludes that “materia indigesta modo et incomposita, quam Deus postea digessit et ornavit”. (Which can be translated roughly as: ‘The first matter was in an indigested and disordered state, but afterwards God digested it and made it beautiful.’) Here, Milton — in  a manner identical to Böhme — explicitly declares that the relationship between Chaos, God, and Creation is one of digestion: as the “indigest” is said to be “digessit” by the divine.[note]De Doctrina, 290-2.[/note]

All of this can be reduced to a very elaborate response to the voluntarist dichotomy (the chasm between a god who is good and a god who is totally free). One that, modulated through the alchemical tradition, simultaneously generates a notion of a divine unconscious and casts this unconscious as a dyspeptic divine gut. “The soul is a (disobedient) stomach!” For, insofar as intelligence is made out of rules, preconscious and unlimited freedom is better expressed by excrement (that which exceeds regimentation). It all goes to show that even God could never fully assimilate or anabolise the potency he is grounded — and fed — upon. This is largely because it is God: an elder, impersonal, pre-individual, and unrestrained aspect of ‘himself’. It is no coincidence that Schelling, and later Jung, borrowed the language of alchemical prima materia to describe the journey from unconsciousness to subjectivity.[note]The Jungian process of enantiodromia: the procession of alchemical colours, from black nigredo (Pepsi) to white albedo, to yellow citrinitas, to red rubedo.[/note] The upshot of all of this is as follows: Creation is the by-product of the worst dyspepsia imaginable — an indigestion so cosmic that it forced God himself to become self-conscious. It is a traumatic self-awakening that impels God to limit himself against the unlimited and anonymous power of chaos: a delimitation that therefore requires an excremental purging of this chaotic base matter. After this individuating evacuation, God works to impose his intelligible forms upon the excess produced by this purge (Böhme’s faecal ‘lump’), attempting to filtrate and subtilise it (like a master alchemist) into crystalline firmaments and planets… but the “superfluity” lurks, repressed, deep within.

FANTA™ = RUBEDO (as cinnabar)



PEPSI™ = NIGREDO (as pepsoidal ungrund™)

Screenshot 2017-10-30 01.37.44
Arcane geometric resemblances are detectable between Böhme’s mystical illustrations of abyssal theogony and PepsiCo marketing logo.

Tomorrow: ‘𝕯𝖊𝖘𝖈𝖊𝖓𝖘𝖚𝖘 𝖆𝖉 𝕴𝖓𝖋𝖊𝖗𝖔𝖘: or, My 🅱elly Consumed My Head’