February 25th, 2011

S.C. Hickman

Nick Land: Anomalaous Materials and the Zero Point Blues

"God and the nihil squabble over creation as jealous rivals fight over a shared lover, except that the creature—however much it might respect God—is torn by its desire in quite the other direction, whilst the nihil has all the tantalizing indifference that naturally flows from incomparable powers of seduction. "
     - Nick Land, The Thirst for Annihilation

anomalous materialsExiled among the dark contours of a universe we did not make, troubled by dreams and nightmares of all those anomalous materials, those shadowy entities and ghosts that wander through us and around us and impinge on our daily existence we find ourselves alone and withdrawn from all contact amidst a trillion trillion voidic objects unrelated to us except through the vastation of a negotiated thought: an erotic impulse, an alluring movement or happening, an event that enacts within its tributary compositions the daily tribulations of an eternal conflict at the heart of absolute Zero. Cut off from the occationalist God and without his protection we have all entered that movement of a vicarious nihil, become heretics of a forlorn object, seekers of an annihilation that goes beyond the vulgar empiricity of torment and into the postnecroid scission of a surgical splice that marks us all for a final extinction. As Nick Land tells us:

"Pious annihilationists are committed not only to the possibility of thanatology, but to its effective existence in the divine intellect, as the absolute pinnacle of reason and justice. For them thanatology is architecturally fundamental to divine law. Such servile annihilation is an eliminative negativity, which can be thought of in two broad ways: either as a formal or as a speculative relation.... Formal elimination corresponds to a positivity understood as extraneous to its negative qualification, whilst speculative elimination—formalistically (mis)conceived—is the simultaneous inherence and non-inherence of such qualification to positivity. In both cases the content of such a negation is determined by that which is qualified by it, which is the precise definition of elimination" (TA, p. 73). [1]

Sacrifice and the struggle for oblivion have entangled us in the dark life-death drives of an erotic ferocity, which "requires a complex occasion: intricate conjunctions, the interpenetration of bodies, turbulent flows" (TA, p. 73). This erotic ferocity toward nihil is compositional rather than a determinate relation, born out of the dueling and violent collision of anomalous materials in a half-life chamber that creates vampires and zombies; monster mash-up novels; black ecology; advances in gaming; bio-medicine; and, a speculative turn in philosophy which, like the burgeoning genre of theory-fiction, re-engages the monstrous through mythology and mediaevalism.[2] This is Bataille's community in which the only problem is that of consumption, "finding its inevitable issue in an impossibility, in the sensation of dying or undeath: existence out of excess. Nature, far from being logical, ‘is perhaps entirely the excess of itself, smeared ash and flame upon zero, and zero is immense" (TA, p. 73).

Maybe it is time we return to the great outdoors, to the inhuman realm of absolute zero, where, as Ben Woodard tells us, if we "can leave behind the dead loop of the human skull, must recognize not only the non-priority of human thought, but that thought never belongs to the brain that thinks it, thought comes from somewhere else." [3] Maybe we should rejoin the tribe of poets, or as John Keats once said of Negative Capability: "I mean Negative Capability, that is when man is capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts without any irritable reaching after fact & reason..."; then, maybe, we might transgress the limits of that nihilistic light that still holds us in its dark gravity like minions of an alternate universe unable to free themselves from the black ferocity of an erotic annihilation.  

1. The Thirst for Annihilation by Nick Land (Routledge 1992 )
2. the Undead: alternatives and alterity by Edia Connole  
3. Mad Speculation and Absolute Inhumanism: Lovecraft, Ligotti, and the Weirding of Philosophy by Ben Woodard (continent. 1.1 (2011): 3-13).
S.C. Hickman

Nick Land: Accelerationism; or, the Politics of Zero

"It is the order of the object that organizes inner experience as private reverie, and as a detachment from relation."
     - Nick Land, The Thirst for Annihilation

In a little modification of the Marxian idea of the filtration of death in which it does not simply fall out of circulation but is constantly recuperated and reinscribed into "new places in the arena of circulation vacated by other commodities" [Capital, 114], Nick Land adds his own twist, saying dead "labour is far harder to control than the live stuff was, which is why the enlightenment project of interring gothic superstition was the royal road to the first truly vampiric civilization, in which death alone comes to rule" (TA, p. 79).  The Religious history of Capital has yet to be written, yet with Karl Marx and Max Weber, and now Land, we see the outlines of this Puritan disease in its dark commodification of a Gothicism of finitude. As Land explicates:

"This is the initial impulse into capital’s religious history; the sacrifice of all dogmatic theology to the ascetic ideal, which is finally consummated in the death of God. The theology of the One, rooted in concrete beliefs and codes that summarize and defend the vital interests of a community, and therefore affiliated to a tenacious anthropomorphism, is gradually corroded down to the impersonal zero of catastrophic religion" (TA, p. 79).

It is in this absolute zero of capital religion that we discover Land's accelerationism, wherein capital "attains its own ‘angular momentum’, perpetuating a run-away whirlwind of dissolution, whose hub is the virtual zero of impersonal metropolitan accumulation. At the peak of its productive prowess the human animal is hurled into a new nakedness, as everything stable is progressively liquidated in the storm" (TA, p. 80). Benjamin Noys in his own variation of this interesting doctrine tells us that it is "an exotic variant of la politique du pire: if capitalism generates its own forces of dissolution then the necessity is to radicalise capitalism itself: the worse the better. We can call these positions accelerationist."  (Accelerationism

Following Bataille and against Kant's humanism Land continues iterating that the "human animal is the one through which terrestrial excess is haemorrhaged to zero, the animal destined to obliterate itself in history, and sacrifice its nature utterly to the solar storm. Capital breaks us down and reconstructs us, with increasing frequency, as it pursues its energetic fluctuation towards annihilation, driven to the liberation of the sun, whilst the object hurtles into the vaporization of proto-schizophrenic commodification" (TA, p. 84). Maybe what we are seeing in our time is the elimination of the human and its ultimate commodification as a desiring subject just as it is vaporized under the sign of the black sun within an inhuman world of absolute zero.  

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

  Sites on Accelerationism:

                                          Ray Brassier - essay
                                          Cengiz Erdem - mp3 links and others
                                          Total Assault On Culture - essay
                                          Speculative Heresy - comprehensive links of sites