In this informal chat Johns continues his thoughts on the threefold of experience (Heidegger) and the constant conflicts of concepts which create productive difference (Hegel’s dialectic). Johns suggests that the contemporary ‘subject’ is determined by societies power to employ it as yet another object of value within its system of arbitrary value. Johns explains that this operation functions on the false notion of reality as tautological (pragmatist) and the subject as tautological (the subject as tool).
In this informal chat Charles Johns, editor of The Neurotic Turn, tries to describe his two philosophical terms ‘neurosis’ and ‘assimilation’. He also tries to explain why he thinks these descriptions become necessarily disclosed and why they are necessarily prevalent in our current epoch (for example the exclusion of the definition of neurosis in the 1980’s within the D.S.M created a repressed symptom, or, the uprise of mass-conformism and iphone narcissism shows a larger more acceptable state of neurosis etc).
When Lovecraft wrote “To achieve the essence of real externality, whether of time or space or dimension, one must forget that such things as organic life, good and evil, love and hate, and all such local attributes of a negligible and temporary race called mankind, have any existence at all…but when we cross the line to the boundless and hideous unknown – the shadow-haunted Outside– we must remember to leave our humanity and terrestrialism at the threshold” a choice is made. This is not to say it is a bad choice but it has shades of irony to it. A clear facet of a magickal universe is that NARP fields affect the putative externality as mediated through the pneuma. A dark materialism that renders human emotion, concepts and spatio-temporal interpretation as irrelevant curiously eradicates this kind of magickal possibility. Yet of course in such a universe the nature of sorcery is often espoused as true under the auspice of a naturalized-supernaturalism. That is, it implies from other dimensional perspectives these attributes are nothing. Yet if magick obtains (in a sorcery accepting world) then the conceptual and emotion must register as real in the outside (the pneuma can affect the umbra) -that’s how it works.
The choice [of Lovecraft’s] is one of allying the outside with a kind of multidimensional-realism that is entirely indifferent to the affective and cognitive faculties of a kind of NARP (humans). He seems to be committed to a kind of reality in which we are purely material beings with our feelings and thoughts being contained purely within. This means sorcery in such a universe is dislocated from will and rather must be a form of a more realist magick in which symbols, vibrations etc. have intrinsic power. It is through these means that sorcerous interventions are made and not through conceptual readjustments (pneuminous interference). This in turn means that all sorcerous interventions must be made by supplications to entities capable of manipulating human reality or through particular symbols, sounds known to bring specific about effects, as this cannot be achieved by humans themselves.
This agnostic disjunction’s alternative choice is that human affections and concepts do potentially exert some power in the outside. This is the pneuminous chaos-magickally compatible theory commonly discussed herein. When we talk about the outside as the vast cosmic abyss it is interesting to note this kind of double motion. Cosmic horror of the above kind seems to eschew this possibility. But of course it must eschew this possibility in order to preserve the radical sense of impotence in the face of the titanic powers that be it desires. Human magick is replaced by inter-dimensional sorcery (scientifically reproducible). This resistance to human level magick is also a feature of the kind of transcendental realism that the cosmic horror is often metaphorical for. In this materialism also, the affectivity and conceptuality cannot affect the outside.
It is a bizarre consequence of the disjunctional arm: ‘magick obtains’ (in the pneuminous chaos magickal manner) that this makes the universe in some sense less alien -the playing field is more equal. This is not a naïve lack of alterity; the possibility that titanic accretive horrors lie in the unfathomable is still entirely possible. The pneuminous theory though would entail a version of sorcery that seems less restrictive [to the NARP]. That such beings (from the outside) could be restrained by human constructs -because they do have power in the outside- and that interventions can also be made at a more ordinary level of conceptuality without the intervention of entities from the abysmal outside.
It is a testament to the situation that I feel embarrassed writing this. However part of my writing has always been anecdotal as I feel this helps it hook [the theory] to experience. My wife was raising swiftlings that had fallen from nests. This task is somewhat harrowing as they have to be ready to go before the other swifts leave -swifts are here in the UK for 12 weeks approx. There were three; after some weeks of nurture one swift successfully took off, but the other two looked weren’t looking hopeful. One kept trying to fly but just couldn’t, it would flutter and drop to the ground whilst the other would make no attempt to leave. All the swifts left the sky bar two, that clearly would leave any day now. Things looked desperate and I felt for both wife and swifts (as they have to be put to sleep if they wouldn’t fly). Such situations like all those of a degree of despair call for requests from transcendent powers. In organised religion it’s called prayer, otherwise it’s magick/sorcery -whatever you will (no pun intended).
I did nothing elaborate but retrospectively I can see it ticks the chaos magickal boxes. As I lay in bed before sleep I went with my quite poor visualization skills to see the swift God[dess] to ask for help in encouraging it’s children to take flight. Frankly I can’t remember a lot of what happened. In truth all I know is that I woke up in the morning and had completely forgotten about it. Fairly early I must have driven off to do some early morning task. As I returned up my street I met the aforementioned wife walking up it towards me looking around as she went. I pulled up and she told me that both the swifts had gone and flown down this road. She was extremely surprised at this as one (the fluttering one) had been deemed hopeless from suspected damaged air sacks and the other was still extremely timid only yesterday. However on the first attempt to release them both had flown straight away. She was now checking the gardens down the street in case they had crashed, but could not see them anywhere.
It was only at this point that I actually remembered my previous night’s supplication. The wave of excited shock is one I have had before but so far for me it is scarcely less strange each time. Maybe there is some inuring that comes with the possibility being accepted at all, but otherwise the reality rupture affect (yes I mean affect) is still is quite profound.
This is the moment. This is the same sensation that all of this is about. The point is not to tell you that the swift spirit is real and can help your injured swiftlings or indeed any spirit is ‘real’. The message is the same: existence shows itself in such a way that it can appear that informational actions (what I call pneuminous) can affect the restraint of the everyday world (the umbratic). It is completely understood that the above anecdote can represent nothing more than chance. The swifts were due to leave, maybe they were pushed to action by their own innate knowledge that it was time to go. However, in order to be certain that it was chance I must know the how things are with apodicticity (as opposed to apodidaeity (swift joke)). If I do not know this then in asserting chance as the truth, I beg the question by helping myself to the assumption of a materialist ontology in order to deny the possibility of magick.
This moment is the same one that discloses manifestationism, not as a meta-philosophy as such (though it is one) but more as the very nature of our relation to how we accept what things are. Ontologies compete for our attention. As agents we work for various ontologies. Agnostic disjunction means that we have to choose in order to act, though the choice is only by virtue of what ontology (accretion) we work for. Philosophy in this sense shatters the naivety of being and agent of the truth. Of course many NARPs believe they exactly are that i.e. that they are working for the true ontology. Without the agnostic disjunctive/manifestationist insight anyone can end up as a dogmatic agent of an ontology. Laruelle achieves something similar with the notion of ‘philosophical decision’ but somehow seems to close ontology down non-philosophically. Non-philosophy is not a meta-philosophy, manifestationism in part definitely is -though it is an immanent one. Philosophy (this philosophy) means recognising the agnostic disjunction wherever it pops up so you may ask ‘why am I an agent for this choice?’
Paranormal phenomena are special because the nature of these events perpetually keeps the manifestationist agenda open. Paranormality can only be drawn into science as legitimate, it cannot be defeated by it. Any attempt by a ruling ontology to define away such events, results in the same question begging problem outlined above, this psychologically manifests in mistrust of authority -a similar pattern is found in competing political ontologies, where dominant democratic capitalist accretions become doubted by their agents (and begin to lose them). Post truth is one such consequence.
I want to say there is something wrong with certain accelerationist trends that overly fetishise and glorify technology but I can’t really. Not without committing myself as an agent of an untenable naturalism. I can feel though the power of that accretion in its appeal, Srnicek and Williams call it ‘folk politics’ and find it as untenable as I do. What I do think though is that there is some kind of tendency created by the fetishised techno-accelerationist coolness to reject common natural aesthetic beauty. Obviously ‘natural’ is a difficult , what I mean by it though is something maybe approaching the term biophilia. This too is inadequate as I feel what I mean would also encompass the stones and the weather and not just the fauna and flora. There has to be a way to not overly romanticise and yet learn from the romantics. Heidegger was close to this. A magickally open ontology that can harmonise the technological/accelerationist aura (in Benjamin’s sense) and simultaneously permit the NARP’s engagement with ‘nature’ is required.
A suitable accretion that harmonises these two tendencies is of course, the swift.
خَلَقَ الْإِنسَانَ مِنْ عَلَقٍ
(Made Man from Alaq (accretion/clot
The catatonic knight, the “passional” knight, stands in the field of snow staring at the red blood amidst the white expanse; he has forgotten where he is or who he is or why he came to be there. Only one subjectivity at a time; only a super-plastic, re-adjustable, “adaptive” set of behaviors in each given situation. Deleuze’s Perceval is a cybernetic machine: he is taken out of the quest-milieu and into that of romance, a catatonia waiting for further assignments of action-milieus. He is capable of forgetting, completely, even his own name, and what is much more important, even his low-level bodily habits, and so becomes the emptiest subject, container, de-calibrated even of former habits to allow for maximum potentiality of becoming: if you become nothing, you can become everything. This is why it is only Perceval, the “idiot” knight of recurring amnesia that can have a chance at finding (becoming?) the holy grail of Cybernetic Capitalism.
Pasolini’s Arabian Nights: characters so flat and contingent as to be completely unbelievable. They are purely affective feedback mechanisms. From crying and running urgently after the lost beloved, they happen into sexual encounters that has them immediately forget and re-calibrate their behavioral pattern and start laughing and making dirty jokes. Burning with the desire (nay, the appetite) to be finally united with the beloved, they suddenly fall asleep at a moment’s notice; even the viewer herself is thrown from one story into another without any delay.
But here one must tread carefully for the Knights and the Lovers in Arabian Nights are but fantastical limit players in the game of machinic immanence and where they tread, bodies can never go. Yes, we have spoken of the super-plasticity of the Deleuzian BwO-Shoggoth, Capitalism’s wet dream of what a consumer should be, and indeed a rheology of bodies and networks is needed because what the Cybernetic Organon produces goes beyond the plasticity of the organic and into the realm of the hydraulic, the fluid at their shear points. When you sing the song of “the body is the body” and renounce organs and organization in favor of a destructive plasticity, it is to the new, machinic god of network-Occasionalism that you pray, and “the Singularity” is the only solace he falsely provides for the death of our selves in the name of the body, a body that never was ours but the machine’s shadow on the wall.
Where does the body meet the flows of the networks of data and desire? How does Cyber-Capitalism attempt to realize the connection of the (habituated) body and flat flows of its ever-expanding network (for Cyber-Capitalism is first and foremost, a connector)? Enter liquefaction. Or rather attempts at liquefaction; attempts at lowering the shear point of the habituated organic body, pushing it towards maximum “creativity”.
We began with the human as the accretion of habit over time, the production of human subjectivity from out the fluid flows of experience via the clotting that is “sensory gating” or, in more common terms, adaptation and habituation to stimuli. Thus the human subject has as its genesis the alaq, a clotting, a self-attaching that is its only “essence”. An accretion that is to be understood in terms of neurosis qua biologically-necessary habituation. Thus is the human made a Neurotic, a NARP. But it is in fact not so much a genesis than an epigenesis: the accretive organism that is the human being in its fleshy incarnation assimilates itself through a clotting and jellification, a habituation that draws in and accretes the stimuli in all their historical specificity and makes them its own while being in turn shaped by their force and form. A dialectic of the flesh, a flesh that does not forget. It is a flesh that we share with the non-human animals (Hegel already defined habit-based subjectivity as common to all animals).
In thinking of the human we should think not of what constitutes it vis-à-vis the animal, as has been done in the whole history of philosophy, but of what unites it with the animal or the organic vis-à-vis the artificial, the machinic: utter amnesia. While human amnesia does retain the minimum identity of the habituated subject (working memory, bodily habits like reassembling a gun or riding a bicycle), the AI bases its efficiency on its ability to forget its specialization, its training, and become generic once more, in order to be placed in another data-milieu.
Ideas seem to get away with murder. We are asked what ‘Happiness’ is and we all either accept some Platonic Universal description (Quasi-Objective) or the exact opposite; what ‘we’ believe/want to see happiness as being (in this sense it is a use term meant to bring about an effect). Joe Bloggs works in a 9-5 office day job but when he finished on a Friday night he goes out clubbing. He associates this with happiness. What does this mean? There is a psuedo-objective claim on ‘clubbings’ part that advertises happiness (and other concepts such as freedom and sexual promiscuity). Maybe Clubbing is happiness? This claim is not necessarily objective but more historical and concrete; clubbing was/is an assimilation that brought about a feeling of happiness (even if we see it as a forced assimilation – as in the taking of drugs which literally give you happiness effects). The terrain of happiness expanded and changes during the 80’s (incrementally with the first assimilation of ‘dance’ in various cultures, all taking on different assimilative effects). But we have all been in a club before at 2 am feeling alienated, anxious and tired haven’t we? Why is the assimilation not working? Do I need to ‘plug in’ more? Is my neurosis of an ex-lover ruining my participation in this assimilative dancefloor?
To assimilate can be both an unconscious process; the moving of bodies, the rhythm of steps and notes, a history of semiotic mechanisms that orient a body, value, practice, culture, etc. But it can also be very conscious in the tacit sense; in order to assimilate the drinking, discourse, steps of the nightclub one has to play its game and partly know its effects. Joe Bloggs once watched a film where two woman were in the backseat of a sports car, being chauffeured by a young attractive male, letting their hair down and laughing (‘uplifting’ rock music was playing in the background). Now when Joe gets invited into a car at night he rolls the windows down, sticks his head out and laughs. He tries to assimilate what has been represented as freedom … and 3,2,1 .. it kind of works.
The primary transference is onto things. This is ontological doubling of the self. What do we mean by this? The guiding thread is the pneuminous accretion, (the bundle of informational stuff that can exist externally to the Narp). What we’re considering here is how affectivity is often linked to accretions and how this affectivity is the extension of what is perceived as awareness in a very primitive manner. This is a technical sounding abstraction for trying to describe something like really liking your car. This gets right to the heart of the accretive problem and the satisfying kind of description of existence it seeks to achieve. It immediately runs into creating heuristic levels of accretions, but if that’s what we need that’s what we have to have. Again an example. The much loved family car of several years that has acquired a name and a gender has accreted all these different kinds of pneuma, implicit in these is a kind of simple consciousness ‘come on girl, you can do it!’ the father might exhort to the car. Again the pneuminous interference agnostic disjunction comes into play. That is, on times when the car suddenly starts upon exhortation there is the incoherent notion that it did actually respond, then the moment has passed, of course solid world discourse resumes and life continues -but the possibility remains as grounded in actual event. In contradistinction to this loved car, let us consider a newly acquired car that exists on perpetual hire. This vehicle is of course still an accretion -as this is vacuously true of anything- but it has not accreted affective pneuma, at least to nowhere near the same extent, and neither is it likely to. It remains closer to the level of ready-to-handness. But here do we not raise an curious immediate aside? In claiming that the ready-to-hand (meaning as use) is this functional level deprived largely of affectivity, do we not uncover that what is called present-at-hand is not in fact cold and theoretical (or at least not just) but also has the capacity to the receptive site of affectivity. Not just broken, obstructive things, as Heidegger said, but things that drawn our affection or even hatred, stand out as things that give reflection.
Gives reflection is a serendipitous term that takes us back to our starting point. The loved thing grants us reflection on that thing as an individual thing and in doing so increases our ability to understand others of its kind e.g. a much loved jug from a certain potter is that much loved jug, but from this love comes knowledge of this history (quite possibly at least, through investment in wanting to know the thing), this knowledge in turn enables recognition of the attached accretions when other similar pottery is encountered. But gives reflection also gives literal ‘reflection’ in the mirroring sense. The affective pneuma that attaches to the thing of course comes from the Narp itself. Narp and thing become accreted, yet there is also pneuma of separation -it is an informational structure itself that the thing is separate from the Narp. The affective pneuma as having come from that particular Narp is necessarily part of it in all its psychoanalytic particularity, as such the primitive pneuminous structure of affectivity that the thing acquires is a [partial] mirror of the Narp. Affectivity is unlocked as possibly the defining feature of certain accretions that lift them out of functional and/or theoretical status -this too is a heuristic.
There is a problem before any of this gets off the ground. What are the things in the first place? This is where manifestationism steps in, for in honesty no one can say whether there is a Kantian-esque structuration of whatever is ‘external’ to the Narp going on or if the things have a pre-existent self giving. If we work with the pneuma though it is more like Kant. We are asked envisage a field that is pure information -the Narp field. The Narp field is the pneuma. Is there an implication that there is some ineffable something outside of the pneuma? Yes, this appears as an idea in philosophy. It is again an agnostic disjunction situation to ask if it is the same as that which is in the Narp field. This turns on the undecideable nature of the pneuma. But the magickal phenomenon basically suggests that it is different outside of the pneuminous field which ironically presents solidity (when it is the pneuminous paths themselves that produce the magickal results).
So the things? The things seem to be outlines of the umbratic in the pneuma. This Kantian style effect is shaping the umbra to its nature. It is these outlines that are called, the given, the chtonic, phusis and they are heuristically real. They form the brute possibility for the grammar of separation, hardness, transparency etc. But these concepts too are pneuma (because for us it all is). This brutal cthonic is the realm of the things that then have proceed to accrete more and more pneuma from particular Narp experiences and universal ones (concept formation).
The pneuminous outline is doubled under word, extracted into pure pneuminous form and placed back into the original cthonic structure.