February 24th, 2011

S.C. Hickman

Nick Land: The Great Blasphemer; or, I dream of damnation...

"I dream of the damnation I have so amply earned, stolen from me by the indolence of God."
     - Nick Land, The Thirst for Annihilation

“I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing.”
     - Socrates

As I came across the above passage in Nick Land's little essay Easter in his grand diatribe The Thirst for Annihilation I realized how many of the great aphoristic men of letters were all great blasphemers as well. Yet, with Land it becomes virile and potent. His hatred of the Christian faith is physical and palpable, it wreathes with bodily fluids and expenditures of blood and bile:

"There is only one sane and healthy relation to Christianity; perfect indifference. Mine is not of that kind. My detestation for the Christian faith exhausts my being, and more. I long for its God to exist in order to slake myself as violence upon him. If there are torments coming to me I want them, all of them; God experimenting in cruelty upon me. I want no lethargy in Hell, rather vigour and imagination. Oh yes, it is all very wretched, and if I am grateful to Christianity it is for one thing alone; it has taught me how to hate" (TA, p. 55).

Instead of the deconstruction of God we get the truth: it is not God but humans who are all under the sign of erasure: "God drinks upon the poison of my hate with an erotic ardour, since his ruthless erasure is even more precious to him than it is to me. After tasting deep surrender in his passion to annihilate, how could he relish a return to the sordid world of obedience; to that of his duty to exist? (TA, p. 55)"

It was God's own thirst for annihilation that gave birth to the human paradox: Christ on the Cross. Yet, it is not Christ that disturbs one, but God the Father: "God the father…what could be less challenging than a psychoanalysis of monotheism? A delusion that refuses to hide itself, to mask or complicate itself, to compromise its tedious insanity...(TA, p. 55).

But at the end of this little rant on God and Christianity we are left with a riddle, with a fragile being that has come to the end of his tether, of a man who understands the truth of just what he is. And what he sees is spiritual disease:

"Sometimes I wonder what is to be involved in writing this book. I am not a particularly industrious individual. The protocols of scholarship have always confused me. It is 03:10 in the morning and as I lean against the wall my finger runs across a line in the plaster, a fissure, dissociation… 

Momentarily I know one thing (alone): 

     Bataille’s most unfailing signature is spiritual disease. (TA, p. 55-56)

In that break, that fissure, the fragility of the mind caught in the gap between the real and the unreal, between the gaze and the abyss, wandering in the post-Kantian cultural or occultural occlusion of insanity and the apathetic interstices of a life gone wrong, a life born of a spiritual malaise that goes deeper than any of our conceptions of God or his dead body, our Universe Land awakens to the zen-like awareness of the nullity of existence, of the nothingness that is and the nothingness that is not. Therein lies the nub, the "damnation I have so amply earned, stolen from me by the indolence of God."

Fredrich NietzscheMaybe Land was a true son of Socrates after all. A thinker of the one idea: that all we know is nothing! But what wisdom this? Maybe as Nietzsche once said of Plato might be true of Land himself, that placing himself in the "service of the ascetic ideal is therefore the most distinctive corruption of an artist...," one in which God and Artist both fail for the same reason: both fear happiness and beauty, and instead wallow in this "longing to get away from all appearance, change, becoming, death, wishing, from longing itself - all this means - let us dare grasp it - a will to nothingness, an aversion to life, a rebellion against the most fundamental presuppositions of life; but it is and remains a will! ... And, to repeat in conclusion what I said at the beginning: man would rather will nothingness than not will" (Genealogy of Morals). 

Or, maybe, Land had suddenly discovered a harsher truth than even Nietzsche was willing to admit, something other:

"I wiped the blade against my jeans and walked into the bar. It was mid-afternoon, very hot and still. The bar was deserted. I ordered a whiskey. The barman looked at the blood and asked: 



‘S’pose it’s time someone finished that hypocritical little punk, always bragging about his old man’s power…’

He smiled crookedly, insinuatingly, a slight nausea shuddered through me. I replied weakly: 

‘It was kind of sick, he didn’t fight back or anything, just kept trying to touch me and shit, like one of those dogs that try to fuck your leg. Something in me snapped, the whingeing had ground me down too low. I really hated that sanctimonious little creep.’ 

‘So you snuffed him?’ 

‘Yeah, I’ve killed him, knifed the life out of him, once I started I got frenzied, it was an ecstasy, I never knew I could hate so much.’ 

I felt very calm, slightly light-headed. The whisky tasted good, vaporizing in my throat. We were silent for a few moments. The barman looked at me levelly, the edge of his eyes twitching slightly with anxiety: 

There’ll be trouble though, don’tcha think?’ 

‘I don’t give a shit, the threats are all used up, I just don’t give a shit.’ 

‘You know what they say about his old man? Ruthless bastard they say. Cruel…’ 

‘I just hope I’ve hurt him, if he even exists.’ 

‘Woulden wanna cross him merself,’ he muttered. 

I wanted to say ‘yeah, well that’s where we differ’, but the energy for it wasn’t there. The fan rotated languidly, casting spidery shadows across the room. We sat in silence a little longer. The barman broke first: 

‘So God’s dead?’ 

‘If that’s who he was. That fucking kid lied all the time. I just hope it’s true this time.’

The barman worked at one of his teeth with his tongue, uneasily: 

‘It’s kindova big crime though, isn’t it? You know how it is, when one of the cops goes down and everything’s dropped ’til they find the guy who did it. I mean, you’re not just breaking a law, your breaking LAW.’ 

I scraped my finger along my jeans, and suspended it over the bar, so that a thick clot of blood fell down into my whisky, and dissolved. I smiled: 

‘Maybe it’s a big crime,’ I mused vaguely ‘but maybe it’s nothing at all…’ ‘…and we have killed him’ writes Nietzsche, but—destituted of community—I crave a little time with him on my own. 

In perfect communion I lick the dagger foamed with God’s blood."
(TA, p. 53-54). 

1. Land, Nick, The Thirst for Annihilation, (Routledge 1992)