Green Nihilism or Cosmic Pessimism

From The Anvil - By Alejandro de Acosta

Men have been so mad as to believe that God is pleased by harmony

Spinoza

Some of us have read Desert, and opted to reprint it, to promote its discussion, maybe to promulgate (at least repeat) some of what is said in it. Despite our efforts, I still feel it has not had the uptake it deserves. I am beginning to think that the issue is less about our limited ability to distribute texts and discuss ideas, and more about the limits of the milieu itself. As to the reception Desert did get, the most one can say is that a few literate anarchists quickly processed it, either absorbing it into their position or rejecting it. This scanning-followed-by-yes-or-no operation pretty much sums up what many anarchists consider reading to be. One sort of rejection was documented in the egoist newspapers The Sovereign Self and My Own (and responded to in The Anvil): it concerned the idea that the anonymous author of Desert was engaging in a pessimistic rhetoric for dramatic effect while concealing their ultimate clinging to hope, perhaps like those who endlessly criticize love, only to be revealed as the most perfectionist of romantics in the last instance. That exchange on Desert tells much more about the readers—what they expected, what they are looking for—than the booklet itself. As does the other, sloppier, sort of rejection of the writing, which has for obvious reasons not appeared in print. More than one person has been overheard to say something to the tune of: “Oh, Desert? I hated it! It was so depressing!” And that is it. No discussion, no engagement, just stating in a fairly direct manner that, if the writing did not further the agenda of hope or reinforce the belief that mass movements can improve the global climate situation, then it is not relevant to a discussion of green issues (which are therefore redefined as setting out from that agenda and belief). In the background of both exchanges is a kind of obtuseness characteristic of the anarchist milieu: our propensity to be as ready to pick up the new thing as to dismiss it either immediately after consumption or soon after another consumes it. This customary speed, which we share with many with whom we share little else, is what necessitates the yes-or-no operation. Whatever the response is, it has to happen quickly. (We are the best of Young-Girls when it comes to the commodities we ourselves produce.) To do something else than mechanically phagocyte Desert (or anything else worth reading) and absorb it or excrete it back out onto the bookshelf/literature table/shitpile, some of us will need to take up a far less practical, far less pragmatic attitude towards the best of what circulates in our little space of reading. In short, it is to intervene in the smooth functioning of the anarchist-identity machine, our own homegrown apparatus, which reproduces the milieu, ingesting unmarked ideas, expelling anarchist ideas. Of course all those online rants, our many little zines, our few books—the ones we write and make, and the ones that we adopt now and then—are only part of this set-up, which also includes living arrangements, political practices, anti-political projects, and so on. All together, from a few crowded metropoles to the archipelago of outward- or inward-looking towns, that array could be called the machine that makes anarchist identity, one of those awful hybrids of anachronism and ultramodernity that clutter our times. But, trivial though the role of Desert may be in the reproduction of the milieu, its small role in that reproduction is especially remarkable given that it directly addresses the limits of that reproduction, and, indirectly, of the milieu itself. Its reception is a kind of diagnostic test, a demonstration of our special obtuseness. If I am right about even some of the preceding, then the increasingly speculative nature of what follows ought to prove interesting to a few, and repulsive to the rest.

* * * *

I intend the or in the title to be destabilizing. It does not indicate a choice to be made between two already somewhat fictitious positions. (Quotation marks for each would not have been strong enough. To say this or that position is fictitious may seem to be belied by the advance, here or there, of those who present themselves as the representatives of positions. This is where we need to make our case most forcefully, arguing back that to take on a position as an identity simply eludes the what of position altogether, making it rest on a different, more familiar kind of fiction.) By placing the or between them I mean to mark a slippage, which I consider to be a movement of involuntary thought. Not being properly yoked to action, to what is considered voluntary, it is the kind of thought most have little time for. It has to do with passing imperceptibly from one state to another, and what may be learned in that shift. It is a terrible kind of thought at first, and, for some, will perhaps always be so, all the more so inasmuch as we are not its brave protagonists… Compare these passages:

The tide of Western authority will recede from much, though by no means all, of the planet. A writhing mess of social flotsam and jetsam will be left in its wake. Some will be patches of lived anarchy, some of horrible conflicts, some empires, some freedoms, and, of course, unimaginable weirdness.

And:

The world is increasingly unthinkable—a world of planetary disasters, emerging pandemics, tectonic shifts, strange weather, oil-drenched seascapes, and the furtive, always-looming threat of extinction. In spite of our daily concerns, wants, and desires, it is increasingly difficult to comprehend the world in which we live and of which we are a part. To confront this idea is to confront an absolute limit to our ability to adequately understand the world at all.

The first passage is from Desert, an anonymous pamphlet on the meaning of the irreversibility of climate change for anarchist practice. The second is from Eugene Thacker’s In the Dust of this Planet, a collection of essays that leads from philosophy to horror, or rather leads philosophy to horror. I bring them together here because they seem to me to coincide in a relatively unthought theoretical zone. As Desert invokes the present and coming anarchy and chaos, it admits the weirdness of the future (for our inherited thought patterns and political maps, at least); when Dust of this Planet gestures to the weirdness and unthinkability of the world, it invokes the current and coming biological, geological, and climatological chaos of the planet. They should be read together; the thought that is possible in that stereoscopic reading is what my or intends. (I mean to gesture towards the passage from one perspective to the other, and perhaps back.) If Desert sets out from the knowability of the world—as the object of science, principally—it has the rare merit of spelling out its increasing unknowability as an object for our political projects, our predictions and plans. Dust of this Planet allows us to push this thought father in an eminently troubling direction, revealing a wilderness more wild than the wild nature invoked by the critics of capitalism and civilization: the unthinkable Planet behind the inhabitable Earth. As we slip in this direction (which is also past the point of distinguishing the voluntary from the involuntary), all our positions, those little compressed bundles of opinion and analysis, practice and experience, crumble—as positions. No doubt many will find this disconcerting. But something of what we tried to do by thinking up, debating, adopting and abandoning, positions, is left—something lives on, survives—maybe just the primal thrust that begins with a question or profound need and collapses in a profession of faith or identity. That would be the path back to the perspective of Desert (now irreparably transformed). What is left, the afterlife of our first outward movements, might be something for each to witness alone, in a solitude far from the gregarious comfort of recognizable positions, of politics. To say nothing of community.

* * * *

All our maneuvering, all our petty excuses for not studying it aside, there is still much to be said about this wonderful, challenging booklet, Desert. To wit, that it is the first written elaboration of sentiments some of us admit to and others feel without confessing to them. And, moreover, that it hints repeatedly at an even broader and more troubling set of perspectives about the limits to what we can do, and maybe of what we are altogether. If the milieu’s demand were accepted and these feelings and ideas were narrowed down to a position, it could indeed be called green nihilism. In this naming of a position the second word indicates one familiar political, or rather anti-political, sense of nihilism—the position that views action, or inaction, from the perspective that nothing can be done to save the world. That no single event, or series of events clumsily apprehended as a single Event, can be posited as the object of political or moral optimism, except by the faithful and the deluded. Moreover, that the injunction to think of the future, to hope in a certain naive way, is itself pernicious, and often a tool of our enemies. As to green—well, those who have read Desert will be familiar with the story it tells. Irreversible global climate change, meshing in an increasingly confusing way with a global geopolitical system that intensifies control in resource-rich areas while loosening or perhaps losing its grips in the hinterlands, the growing desert… It is the story, then, of literal deserts, and also of zones deserted by authority or that those who desert the terrain of authority inhabit. But let’s be clear about this: Desert does not name its own position. It is less a book that proposes a certain strategy or set of practices and more a book about material conditions that are likely to affect any strategy, any practices whatsoever. What is best about Desert is not just the unflinching sobriety with which its author piles up evidence and insights for such a near future, without drifting too far into speculation; it is the way they do not abandon the idea of surviving in such a decomposing world. It is neither optimism nor pessimism in the usual sense; it is another way to grasp anarchy. That is why I write that much remains to be said about it. One way to begin thinking through Desert is to concentrate less on what position it supposedly takes (is there a green nihilism? for or against hope?) and to consider how to push its perspective farther. This means both asking more questions about how it allows us to redefine survival and taking up the possibilities for thought that it mostly hints at. For example, to say the future is unknowable is a pleasant banality, which can just as well be invoked by optimists as pessimists; but to concentrate on what is unknowable in a way that projects it into past and present as well is to think beyond the dull conversation about hope, or utopia and dystopia, for that matter. Here is one example of how such thinking might unfold: Desert seems to offer a novel perspective on chaos. There have probably been two anarchist takes on chaos so far: the traditional one, summed up in the motto, anarchy is not chaos, but order; and Hakim Bey’s discussions of chaos, which may be summed up in his poetic phrase Chaos never died. The former is clear enough: like many leftist analyses, it identifies social chaos with a badly managed society and opposes to it a harmonious anarchic order (which, it was later specified, could exist in harmony with a nature itself conceived as harmonious). This conception of chaos, which is still quite prevalent today, does not even merit its name. It is a way of morally condemning capitalism, the State, society, or what you will; it is basically name-calling. Any worthwhile conception of chaos should begin from a non-moral position, admitting that the formlessness of chaos is not for us to judge. That much Hakim Bey did amit. What, in retrospect especially, is curious about his little missive “Chaos” are the various references to “agents of chaos,” “avatars of chaos”, even a “prophethood of chaos.” It is a lovely letter from its time and perhaps some other times as well; I have no intention to criticize it. It is a marked improvement on any version of anarchy is order, and yet… and yet. It comes too close, or reading it some came too close, to simply opting for chaos, as though order and chaos were sides and it were a matter of choosing sides. The inversion of a moral statement is still a moral statement, after all. What is left to say about chaos, then? The explicit references to chaos in Desert are all references to social disorder. But a thoughtful reader might, upon reading through for the third or fourth time, start to sense that another, more ancient sense of chaos is being invoked: less of an extreme of disorder and more of a primordial nothingness, a “yawning gap”, as the preferred gloss of some philologists has it. The repeated reference to a probable global archipelago of “large islands of chaos” is directly connected to the destabilization of the global climate. And this is the terrible thought that Desert constructs for us and will not save us from: that from now on we survive in a world where the global climate is irreversibly destabilized, and that such a survival is something other than life or politics as we have so far dreamt them. The meager discussion we’ve seen so far on Desert revolves around questions such as: is this true? and, since most who bother thinking it through will take it to be true, does the “no hope”/”no future” perspective (the supposed nihilism) which Desert to some extent adopts, and others to some extent impute to it, help or hinder an overall anarchist position? A less obvious discussion revolves around two very different sorts of questions: what myths does exposing this reality shatter? and, if we are brave enough to think ourselves into this demythologized space that has eclipsed the mythical future, is an anarchist position still a coherent or relevant response to survival there? The myth that is shattered here is first and foremost that wonderful old story about the Earth:

Earth, our bright home…

Shelley

There are two main versions of this story. In the religious version, a god intends for us to live here and creates the Earth for us, or, to a lesser extent, creates us for the Earth. In either case our apparent fit into the Earth, our presumed kinship with it, usually expressed in the thought of Nature or the natural, has a transcendent guarantee. In the second version, which is usually of a rational or scientific sort, we have evolved to live on the Earth and can expect it to be responsive to our needs. Here the guarantee is immanent and rational. It is true that this second story, in the version of evolutionary theory, also taught us that we could have easily not come to be here, and that we may not always be here. That is why Freud classed Darwin’s theory as the second of three wounds to human narcissism (the first being the Copernican theory, which displaced the Earth from the center of the cosmos, and the third being Freud’s own theory, which displaced conscious thought from prominence in mental life). But a certain common sense, or what could be called the most obtuse rationalism, seems to have reintroduced the religious content of the first version into the second, and concluded that it is good or right or proper for us to be here. Natural, in short. In any case, the lesson here is that the psychic wound can be open and humanity, whoever that is, may limp on, wounded, thinking whatever it prefers to think about itself. What Desert draws attention to is a congeries of events that could increasingly trouble our collective ability to go on with this story of a natural place for (some) humans. Irreversible climate change is both something that can be understood (in scientific and derivative, common-sense ways) and something that, properly considered, suggests a vast panorama of unknowns. It is true that Desert makes much of its case by citing scientists and scientific statistics. But the real question here is about the status of these invocations of science. This is where a subtler reading shows its superiority. If the entire argumentative thrust of Desert relied on science, the pamphlet would be fairly disposable. Desert invokes science to put before the hopeful and the apathetic images of a terrible and sublime sort. We could say that its explicit argument is based on science, plus a certain kind of anti-political reasoning. But its overall effect is to dislodge us from our background assumption of a knowable and predictable world into a less predictable, less knowable awareness. After all, it would be just as easy to develop a similar narrative in the discourse of a pessimistic political science, emphasizing massive population growth and social chaos: an irruptive and ungovernable human biology beyond sociality. Let’s try it. From a red anarchist perspective, this could mean more opportunities for mutual aid, for setting the example of anarchy as order; chaos would be a kind of forced clean slate, a time to show that we are better and more efficient than the forces of the state. From an insurrectionary perspective, the chaos would be an inhuman element making possible the generalization of conflict. General social chaos would be the macrocosm corresponding to the microcosm of the riot. For them chaos would also be an opportunity, in this case to hasten and amplify anomic irruptions. In sum, one could make the same argument about the biological mass of humanity as about the Earth—that its coming chaos is an opportunity for anarchists because it is a materially forced anarchy. This does not mean that we are inherently aggressive or whatever you want to associate with social chaos, but rather ungovernable in the long run (or at least governed by forces and aims other than the ones accounted for in political reasoning). It does mean, however, that the idea we are ungovernable in the long run, the affirmation of which is more or less synonymous with the confidence with which the anarchists take their position, is now closely linked with another idea, that in the last instance the Earth is not our natural home. It may have been our home for some time, for a time that we call prehistory. Indeed, Fredy Perlman marks the transition from prehistory to His-Story, or Civilization, as the prolongation of an event of ecological imbalance, a prolongation whose overall effect is destructive, even as the short-term or narrowly focused results along the way are to make the Earth more and more of a welcoming and natural place for humans to be. And now our parting of ways with Hakim Bey may be clarified, for, even if he did not simply take the side of chaos, he did write:

remember, only in Classical Physics does Chaos have anything to do with entropy, heat-death, or decay. In our physics (Chaos Theory), Chaos identifies with tao, beyond both yin-as-entropy & yang-as-energy, more a principle of continual creation than of any nihil, void in the sense of potentia, not exhaustion. (Chaos as the “sum of all orders.”)

He was making an argument about what is stupid about death-glorifying art which, parenthetically, still seems relevant. But I simply don’t see why chaos (or tao, for that matter) is somehow better understood as creation than as destruction, or why it is preferable to invoke potentia and not exhaustion. In the name of what? “Ontological” anarchism? Life? And the sum of all orders… is this a figure of something at all knowable? And if not, why the preceding taking of sides? The chaos that Desert summons is not ontological. No new theory of being is claimed here. The effect is first of all psychological: stating what more or less everyone knows, but will not admit. If Desert deserves the label nihilist, it is really in this sense, that it knowingly points to the unknowable, to the background of all three narcissistic wounds. (This is my way of admitting that talking or writing about nihilism does not clarify much of anything. If it was worth doing, it is not because I wanted to share a way of believing-in-nothing. I see now that I was going somewhere else. The analysis of nihilism is the object of psychology… it being understood that this psychology is also that of the cosmos, wrote Deleuze.)

* * * *

In the Dust of This Planet introduces a tripartite distinction between World, Earth, and Planet. Thacker states that the human world, our sociocultural horizon of understanding, is what is usually meant by world. This is the world as it is invoked in politics, in statements that begin: what the world needs…, and of course any and all appeals to save or change the world. It is the single world of globalism (and of global revolution) but also the many little worlds of multiculturalism, nationalism, and regionalism. But one could argue that our experience (and the gaps in our experience) also unfold in another world, the enveloping site of natural processes, from climate to chemical and physical processes, of course including our own biology. This is the Earth that we are often invited to save in ecological politics or activism. A third version of what is meant by world is what Thacker calls the Planet. If the world as human World is the world-for-us, and the Earth as natural world is a world-for-itself, the Planet is the world-without-us. Visions of the World and the Earth correspond roughly to subjective and objective perspectives; but what these are visions of, the Planet, is not reducible to either, however optimistic our philosophy, theory, or science may be. In terms perhaps more familiar to some green anarchists, the World corresponds to the material and mental processes of civilization, and the Earth to Nature as constructed by civilization. Civilization, so it would seem, produces nature as its knowable byproduct as it encloses the wild, leaving fields, parks, and gardens, along with domesticated and corralled wild animals, including, of course, our species. Does the wildness or wilderness of the green anarchists then correspond to the Planet, as world-without-us? Only if we can grasp that the wild, like, or as, chaos, is ultimately unknowable—not because of some defect in our faculties but because it includes their limits and undoing. When green anarchists and others invoke the wild, we must always be sure to ask if they mean an especially unruly bit of nature, nature that is not yet fully processed by the civilized, or something that civilization will never domesticate or conquer. Planet is an odd category, in that it seems to correspond both to the putative and impossible object of science (a science without an observer) and an inexplicable and strange image emergent from out of the recesses of the unconscious (which itself raises a troubling question as to what an unconscious is at all if it can be said to issue images that exclude us). I think about this third category in terms of Desert as I read this passage from Thacker:

When the world as such cataclysmically manifests itself in the form of a disaster, how do we interpret or give meaning to the world? There are precedents in Western culture for this kind of thinking. In classical Greece the interpretation is primarily mythological—Greek tragedy, for instance, not only deals with the questions of fate and destiny, but in so doing it also evokes a world at once familiar and unfamiliar, a world within our control or a world as a plaything of the gods. By contrast, the response of Medieval and early modern Christianity is primarily theological—the long tradition of apocalyptic literature, as well as the Scholastic commentaries on the nature of evil, cast the non-human world within a moral framework of salvation. In modernity, in the intersection of scientific hegemony, industrial capitalism, and what Nietzsche famously prophesied as the death of God, the non-human world gains a different value. In modernity, the response is primarily existential—a questioning of the role of human individuals and human groups in light of modern science, high technology, industrial and post-industrial capitalism, and world wars.

In the light of the ongoing and growing disaster called irreversible climate change, Desert clearly exposes the theological-existential roots (the modern roots, that is to say) of anarchist politics, not particularly different, as far as this issue goes, from the panorama of Left or radical positions. What matters to me is the opportunity to strike out beyond these positions, elaborating an anti-politics thought through in reference to a point of view Thacker calls cosmological. Could such a cosmological view, he writes, be understood not simply as the view from interstellar space, but as the view of the world-without-us, the Planetary view? Desert might be one of the first signs of the paradoxical draw of this view, which, it should be clear by now, is something other than a position to be adopted. But for those who like the convenience names lend to things, consider the version Thacker elaborates (in a discussion of the meaning of black in black metal, of all things). He calls it cosmic pessimism:

The view of Cosmic Pessimism is a strange mysticism of the world-without-us, a hermeticism of the abyss, a noumenal occultism. It is the difficult thought of the world as absolutely unhuman, and indifferent to the hopes, desires, and struggles of human individuals and groups. Its limit-thought is the idea of absolute nothingness, unconsciously represented in the many popular media images of nuclear war, natural disasters, global pandemics, and the cataclysmic effects of climate change. Certainly these are the images, or the specters, of Cosmic Pessimism, and different from the scientific, economic, and political realities and underlie them; but they are images deeply embedded in our psyche nonetheless. Beyond these specters there is the impossible thought of extinction, with not even a single human being to think the absence of all human beings, with no thought to think the negation of all thought.

Now the intention of my or will be clear for some (from the psyche to the cosmos…). In Dust Thacker does not draw many connections between his ideas and politics, so it is worthwhile to examine one of the places where he illustrates the paradox his view of the Planet opens up in that space. He cites Carl Schmitt’s suggestion, in Political Theology:

the very possibility of imagining or re-imagining the political is dependent on a view of the world as revealed, as knowable, and as accessible to us as human beings living in a human world. But the way in which that analogy [from theology to politics] is manifest may change over time …

Thacker notes:

the 17th and 18th centuries were dominated by the theological analogy of the transcendence of God in relation to the world, which correlates to the political idea of the transcendence of the sovereign ruler in relation to the state. By contrast, in the 19th century a shift occurs towards the theological notion of immanence… which likewise correlates to “the democratic thesis of the identity of the ruler and the ruled.” In these and other instances, we see theological concepts being mobilized in political concepts, forming a kind of direct, tabular comparison between cosmology and politics (God and sovereign ruler; the cosmos and the state; transcendence and absolutism; immanence and democracy).

The closed loop of politics:

The republic is the only cure for the ills of the monarchy, and the monarchy is the only cure for the ills of the republic.

Joubert

Thacker’s question follows: what happens to this analogy, which structures both political theory and ordinary thinking about politics to some extent, if one posits a world that is not, and will never be, entirely revealed and knowable? The closed loop is opened, and the analogy breaks down. What happens when we as human beings confront a world that is radically unhuman, impersonal, and even indifferent to the human? What happens to the concept of politics… It seems to me that a question of this sort is lurking in the background of Desert as well.

* * * *

The desert may be, or sometimes seem to be, what is left after a catastrophic event, but it has also always been with us, as image and reality.

In what passes for a moon
On the galactic periphery,
Here is an austere beauty,
Barren, uncompromising,
Like that which must have been
Experienced by men
On the ice-caps and deserts
As they once existed on earth
Before their urbanization
Harsh and unambiguous…

John Cotton

World-desert: the desert grows…

Earth-deserts: they are growing, too.

Cosmic deserts: on the galactic periphery… In a response to François Laruelle’s Du noir univers, Thacker elaborates on the various senses of the desert motif, suggesting both that it is the inevitable image and experience of the Planet, as a slice of the Cosmos, or what Laruelle calls the black Universe, and that it is a mirage, that there is no real desert to escape to. Hermits keep escaping to the desert, but their solitude is temporary; others gather nearby. The escape from forced community develops spontaneous forms of community. But for being spontaneous, such community does not cease to develop, sooner or later, the traits of the first, escaped, community. The issue for me is double: first, that to the two senses invoked in Desert (the literal ecological sense, and the sense of desertion) we may now add the third corresponding to the Planetary or Cosmic view, the desert as the impossible, as nothingness. Second, the ethical, psychological, or at least practical insight that some keep deserting society, civilization, or what have you in the direction of the desert and, as stated, sooner or later populating it, inhabiting it, somehow living or at least surviving in it. Even if these deserters headed towards the desert in the first sense, they were motivated or animated by the impossible target of the desert in the third sense. Now, this apparently closed-loop operation could be the inevitable repetition of some ancient anthropogenic trauma. Or it could be (we just can’t know here and now) the sane, wild reaction to Civilization: desperate attempt to return to the Earth (our bright home) via the dark indifference of the Planet or Cosmos. Of this return pessimism says: you will need to do it again and again. Is the pessimism about a condition we can escape, or one we can’t? Is it the anti-civilization pessimism of the most radical ecology, or is it despair, no less trivial for being a psychological insight, before the morbid obtuseness of humans? We just can’t know here and now. Masciandaro, Thacker’s fellow commentator on Laruelle, aptly terms this “the positivity and priority of opacity”—the opacity of the Planet and the Cosmos, Laruelle’s black universe.

O the dark, the deep hard dark
Of these galactic nights!
Even the planets have set
Leaving it slab and impenetrable,
As dark and directionless
As those long nights of the soul
The ancient mystics spoke of.
Beyond there is nothing,
Nothing we have known or experienced.

John Cotton

* * * *

In Desert we read:

Nature’s incredible power to re-grow and flourish following disasters is evident both from previous mass extinctions and from its ability to heal many lands scarred by civilisation. Its true power is rarely considered within the sealed, anthropocentric thinking of those who would profit from the present or attempt to plan the future. Yet the functioning of the Earth System is destructive as well as bountiful and it is not a conscious god with an interest in preserving us or its present arrangement—something we may find out if the Earth is now moving to a new much hotter state.

For his part, Thacker concludes his book by discussing a mysticism of the unhuman, what he calls a climatological mysticism. It is a way of thinking, and paradoxical knowing, modeled on religious mysticism rather than scientific knowledge. But it is not reducible to the former. He writes,

there is no being-on-the-side-of the world, much less nature or the weather. [...] the world is indifferent to us as human beings. Indeed, the core problematic of the climate change issue is the extent to which human beings are at issue at all. On the one hand we as human beings are the problem; on the other hand at the planetary level of the Earth’s deep time, nothing could be more insignificant than the human. This is where mysticism again becomes relevant.

This attitude of nonknowledge, as Bataille would have put it, informs life even as it decenters it. That the Earth is our place, but the planet does not care about us and the cosmos is not our home, is a thought of the ways in which we might survive here. Some will remember Vaneigem’s repeated contrast between vie and survie, life and survival. For him it was a matter of inverting the accepted, and to a large extent enforced, view in which one must survive first and live second. Some of this view seems to have been taken into the perspective that identifies life and nature, where the latter is understood as what we are or should be—that is, that there is something normative about life or nature that we can refer to. The perspective I am developing here suggests that we have no way of knowing what we are or should be, and that the wild is better conceived as that no-way, as the conditions that push back against our best effort to define ourselves, identify our selves, or know our world. Similarly, what is wild in us can only be conceived (though it is not really conceivable in the long run) as what resists, what pushes back, against any established order. But this might be closer to survival than to life. Survival has a positive value in that it is itself an activity, a set of nontrivial practices that refer back to life insofar as we know it. We survive as we can, not confident that we are living. It is this aspect of Desert that some insurrectionaries seem to have disagreed with, in that it often talks of plans for survival where they would have preferred to see plans for action, or at least calls to action. We can read there of

An Anarchism with plenty of adjectives, but one that also sets and achieves objectives, can have a wonderful present and still have a future; even when fundamentally out of the step with the world around it. There is so much we can do, achieve, defend and be; even here, where unfortunately civilisation probably still has a future.

It is passages like this one, towards the end of the pamphlet, that probably left some with the impression that its author is still attached to hope, and left others with the sense of a form of survival that still somehow resembled activism more than attack. As for the former impression, that would be to confuse the climate pessimism of Desert with a kind of overarching and mandatory mood, as though those who had this view were of necessity personally depressed or despondent. There is no evidence for such a conclusion. As for the latter, it is a little more complicated. Yes, the author of Desert often sounds like someone addressing activists; and, yes, Desert explicitly rejects the cause of Revolution in several places. One could say this adds up to a kind of political retreat. One could also say, however, that some are too used to reading political texts that always end on a loud and vindictive note! No, this is where the question of rethinking survival from an anti-political perspective inflected by something like Thacker’s cosmic pessimism or reinvented mysticism is critical. We make survival primary, not so much inverting Vaneigem’s inversion of the norm in societies like ours, but rather by noticing what in our conception of life has always been a kind of religion or morality of life, easy adjustment to a familiar nature. Whatever its faults, Desert was written to say that such a conception is no longer useful, and that one useful meaning of anarchist is someone who admits as much. Can that meaning fit with the subcultures that most of today’s anarchists compose? Probably not. The subcultures exist as pockets of resistance, of course; but survival in them is indelibly tied to reproducing the anarchist as persona, as identity, as an answer to the question of what life is or is for. To make sense or have meaning this answer presupposes the workings of our homegrown identity-machine, our collective, repeated minimal task of discerning about actions whether they are anarchist or not, and, by extension, whether the person carrying them out is anarchist. It is our way of bringing the community into the desert. Announcement of one’s intentions to overcome the limits of subculture and reach out to others, or inspire them with our actions, is not different than, but rather a crucial part of, this operation. Survival, in the sense Desert suggests it to me, is something completely different, for in it any social group or kin network, as it attempts to live on, cannot draw significant lines of difference (of identification, therefore) between itself and others. It melts into a humanity collectively resisting death. Needless to say this is something entirely different than the revolutionary process as it has been imagined and attempted. There is no future to plan for, only a present to survive in, and that is the implosion of politics as we have known it.

To survive, not to live, or, not living, to maintain oneself, without life, in a state of pure supplement, movement of substitution for life, but rather to arrest dying…

Blanchot

… deserting life.

 

* * * *

A desert and not a garden: one remarkable aspect of the contemporary anarchist space is an open contradiction between two perspectives on what struggle is, or is for, that might be summed up in the phrases we have enemies and we did this to ourselves. There are countless versions of this contradiction, which at a deeper level is really not about political struggle at all, but about the essence of resistance. One version is the condemnation of the notion of enemy as a moral notion, and another is its silent return in the emphasis on friendship and affinity; there is also what a book called Enemies of Society may be taken to suggest from its title on. The contradiction surfaces most clearly in discussions influenced by primitivist positions or ones hostile to civilization, likely because of the tremendous temporal compression they require to make their case. In such talk, we zoom out from lifetimes and generations to a scale of tens of thousands of years. The enemy appears within the course of history, but the fact of the appearance of the enemy, the split in humanity, summons the second we, because of the need to presuppose a whole species in some natural state (balance, etc.) that, in the event or events that open up the panorama of civilization and history, cleaves itself into groups or at least roles. The positions we know better tend to revolve around trivialized versions of these perspectives, never really experiencing the tension between them. It is only in the play of the anarchist space as a whole (and precisely because it is not a single place, in which all involved would have to put up with each other for a few hours, let alone live together) that the contradiction unfolds. Some form of we have enemies is the great rallying for a wide array of active agents, from the remains of the Left to advocates of social war. And some form of we did this to ourselves is in the background of all sorts of moralizing approaches to oppression and interpersonal damage, but also the more misanthropic strains of primitivism. I would also argue that a modified form of it informs the deep background of egoism and some forms of individualism (splitting the forced we from the atomic ourselves). My question is, what happens if we zoom out farther? Here the virtue of invoking science as Desert does may be visible. For what is beyond history (the time of the World) and prehistory is geologic time, the time of the Planet, which leads us to cosmic time. There is a difference between invoking science and practicing or praising it. The latter simply produce more science. The former may be a way to encounter what our still humanist politics ignore. From the perspective of cosmic time, the contradiction does not dissolve (at least not for me); but its moral or political character seems to unravel. Something less centered on us emerges. Perhaps both stories—the story about enemies and the story about ourselves—ignore something much more disturbing than mere accidental guilt or immorality, something that disturbs us precisely because it is the disturbing of humanity. (“It is not man who colonizes the planet, but the planet and the cosmos who transgress the lonely threshold of man”—does this odd sentence of Laruelle’s express the thought here, I wonder?) It makes sense for Thacker to invoke mysticism when he considers the cosmos or the Planet, because its otherness has most often been referred to as divine, and related to as a god. Now, that need have nothing to do with religion, especially if we identify religion with revelation; but mysticism is a good enough approximation to the attitude one takes towards a now decentered life. I call that attitude a thoughtful kind of survival. This is closely connected to a conversation one often overhears in the company of anarchists. Someone is discussing something they prefer or are inclined to do, and doing so in increasingly positive terms. Another person points out (functioning of the anarchist identity machine) that there is nothing specifically anti-capitalist or radical about the stated activity or preferred object, reducing it verbally to another form of consumption. Anxious hours are passed this way. About such inclinations I prefer to say that we do not know if they come from above or below; we know our own resistance, and not much more. That resistance manifests in unknowable ways, obeying no conscious plan. It could well be a particularly fancy kind of neurosis; but survival means just this, that we do not know the way out of the situation and we must live here with the idea of anarchy. Another way to put this is that if our rejection of society and state is as complete as we like to say it is, our project is not to create alternative micro-societies (scenes, milieus) that people can belong to, but something along the lines of becoming monsters. It is probable that anarchy has always had something to do with becoming monstrous. The monster, writes Thacker in another of his books, is unlawful life, or what cannot be controlled. It seems to me the only way to do this, as opposed to saying one is doing it and being satisfied with that, would be to unflinchingly contemplate the thing we are without trying to be, the thing we can never try to be or claim we are: the nameless thing, or unthinkable life. Which is also the solitary thing, or the lonely one. The egoist or individualist positions are like dull echoes of the inexpressible sentiment that I might be that nameless thing, translated into a common parlance for the benefit of a (resistant, yes) relation to the social mass. That the cosmos is not our natural home is a thought outside the ways in which we might survive here. To say we survive instead of living is in part to say that we have no idea what living is or ought to be (that there is probably no ought-to about living). But also that we resist any ideal of life, including our own. Becoming monstrous is therefore the goal of dismantling the milieu as anarchist identity machine. Being witness to the nameless thing, to the unthinkable life or Planet or Cosmos, is not a goal. It is not a criterion of anything, either. It is more like a state, a mystical, poetic state (though in this state I am the poem). It is the climatological mysticism Thacker describes and Desert hints at for an anarchist audience, both deriving in their own way from the weird insight that the Planet is indifferent to us. So read Desert again as an allegory of the self-destruction of the milieu, of any community that, as it runs from its norms, places new, unstated norms ahead of itself. Such is the slippage from green nihilism to cosmic pessimism, which gives us occasion to continue speaking of chaos. Well, one might say that I have merely imported some alien theory into an otherwise familiar (if not easy) discussion. Of course I have. My aim, however, was not to apply it, but to show in what sense one play that is often acted out in our spaces may be anti-politically theorized, which is to say cosmically psychoanalyzed. Our place is not to apply the theory of cosmic pessimism (or any other theory; that is not what theory is, or is for); our place is to think, to continue speaking of chaos, not being stupid enough to think we can take its side. There are no sides. We might come to realize that we, too, in our attempts to gather, organize, act, change life, and so on, were playing in the world, ignorant of the Planet, its unimaginable weirdness.

 

If the earth must perish, then astronomy is our only consolation

Joubert

 

Post scriptum. I mentioned community in passing. Most anarchists I converse with regularly treat the word delicately or dismissively, either ignoring it altogether, putting it in quotation marks, or virtually crossing it out. I suppose that crossed-out sense of community is another name for the milieu. As crappy as it is most of the time, I will admit that the milieu is a space-time (really a series of places-moments, some of them taking place ever so briefly) where one can register, to some extent, what ideas have traction in our lives. Desert‘s explicit statements are certainly more pedestrian than Thacker’s theory; but the downside to Thacker’s exciting flights of intellectual fancy, at least from where I am writing, is that it is hard to know who he is speaking to, or about, much of the time. One imagines that people do gather to hear what he has to say, or read his books in concert. I do wonder to what extent they consider themselves to be a community, a potential community, a crossed-out community.

Post scriptum bis. I mentioned solitude. It would also be worthwhile to think about friendship along these lines.

 

References

 

Desert. LBC Books. 2011.

Laruelle, François. “Theorems on the Good News.”

—. “On the Black Universe.” In Dark Nights of the Universe, [NAME], 2013.

Masciandaro, Nicola. “Comments on Eugene Thacker’s ‘Cosmic Pessimism’.” continent. 2.2, 2012.

—. “Secret” In Dark Nights of the Universe, [NAME], 2013.

Snyder, Gary. “The Etiquette of Freedom.” In The Practice of the Wild, North Point Press, 1990.

Thacker, Eugene. After Life. University of Chicago Press, 2010.

—. In the Dust of this Planet. Zero Books. 2010.

—. Cosmic Pessimism.” continent. 2.2 (2012).

—. “Remote: The Forgetting of the World.” In Dark Nights of the Universe, [NAME], 2013.

 

 

Category: 

Comments

I wouldn't be surprised if this long near-metaphysical essay was written by Emile.

If only the author(s) would put their big golden intellect into pragmatic strategy for organizing to take down this civilization. But nooooo... it's so important to intellectually masturbate and cum on the remaining heads of anarcho insurgents!

You can't take down what people believe in. You can only intentionally take yourself out of it

Yes you can. Through subversion.

That's why this crappy essay "Desert" ended up in just about every damn anarchoid spot in North America. To take down people's belief in the necessity to organize and ATTACK, to realize their ideas in the here and now instead of hanging them in a philosophical closet to be contemplated during those long tedious manipulative philosophy discussions hosted by one or two unrepenting phallocrats.

what people believe in, you say?

the idea is that what's causing problems is not the obvious suspects

when louis pasteur was on his deathbed, he is said to have conceded that bechamp had been right, that 'le microbe n'est rien, le terrain est tout' (the microbe is nothing, the terrain is everything)

bechamp didn't buy into pasteur's germ theory because he thought that 'health' was the opposite of the yang model of all components functioning as they should.

i'm trying to structure this comment so that it speaks to what you're implicitly saying yet opens up another view of it.

bechamp saw organization as coming from space rather than from things. lamarck had thought the same way so maybe there was some spillover there.

anyhow, that is the same flip in view as between newtonian physics and modern physics. instead of 'things' being responsible for everything, the energy-charged space is because it's fluid presence engenders the things that do stuff. that is, energy-charged space is the animating source of things and their behaviour, but all we get to see and touch is 'things doing stuff', so it is an easy trap to fall in that we assume that it is the things that are doing the stuff, when it is instead 'relations'. 'relations' are the basic working materials of a fluid space.

a simple example of this is the snaking river. it is easy to think that it is the river that is snaking but it is the terrain that tilts and gets the water flowing and it is the terrain opening up valleys that organize and concentrate the flow of water turning it into a powerful torrent that will clean up the furrows in the bottom of the valley. the valley is the organizer.

ok, it is not the one or the other but both together (yin/yang) but the terrain is 'the leader of the yin/yang dance'.

so, other people came along and also figured out that 'cause' can be negative as well as 'positive'. that's what pasteur and bechamp are saying, that we've got it backwards, that the general is negative rather than positive. one can see that in the case of vitamin C and colds and scurvy, for example.

when things are working fine, the organization is outside-inward orchestrating influence in the lead over inside-outward asserting.

now, try applying that to say, chasing after some madmen who have 'got loose' and have taken over a portion of the countryside and are raping, beating and killing people who pass through that region.

the first priority would NOT be to assemble a committee and talk about what to do about it, it would be to go after the suckers and take them out. ... or would it?

what if it was something in the ground water or in their mother's milk that was driving them nuts? we could take them out, but that would not stop more from continuing to be bred.

of course we would have to deal with these nutcases and try to fend off their attacks, but that would only be dealing with the symptoms, and we would still have to figure out how to deal with the source and that would be tricky since they would not want us playing with their mother's titties. that is, we would have to probe something very personal to get the source of the problem.

so this is a view that some of us have, that capitalists have been drinking something that turns them into capitalists, and so our challenge is twofold, ... how to buffer the abuse that is coming to us from the capitalist, while also, and more importantly, starting to deal with the capitalist milk they are raised on.

indigenous anarchists make this milk thing their number one priority. as they phrase it, ... the priority is to 'undermine the intellectual premises of colonialism'. it is the milk of colonialism that has to be dealt with. of course the little innocents grow into fat bastards when fed this milk, so we have to deal with that too.

of course, if you believe that capitalism and colonialism are 'genetic' then carry on as your are, by all means, ... but if you think it might be something they are fed, ... then not only do they need to be dealt with, ... there has be found some way to change their diet from birth.

the intellect is a complicated thing, de acosta is taking us on a tour of some of its twisted corridors to see where the nourishment is coming from.

oh, fuck people like you. i could give two shits about "strategizing to take down this civilization" but that doesn't make me less of an anarchist. just cause you're all about the material aspects of this world doesn't make you better than other people. "big golden intellect" talk about that pot calling the kettle black. i'm so sick of shitheads like you

fuck you liberal

. . . nor, as far as I can tell, their outlook. Possibly this gibberish mix of Desert, Tiqqunisms, and AAJODA-style smack-talking is just some stoned kid's idea of a funny joke about insurrectionism?

Something this author has not quite done.

One gets a sense from this piece that much like with the Leftist, the Egoist experiences initial trauma, psychic horror, while still rationalizing in a doer-deed model, of letting go of enlightenment era values, re-presentation, moralism, shackles of identity, and other such anthropocentric fiktions.

Because, the doer-deed egoist cannot re-present scale of Planet, Earth, World, Cosmos. They, supposed Supreme Doers-of-Deeds do not appear to have conscious, unconscious re-resentations of humans. Therefore emptiness, indifferent. Without representation is to be lost, apparently.

Maybe one day Egoist will fully let go, and intuit relational signals from the outside. He sort of hints at this in terms of chaos. But, it still sounds like the thought of anarchy frightens most anarchists.

if i had have come at this via 'representation', i would probably have gotten the reader bogged down in the 'logic of identity' and how it is a 'prejudice'; e.g.

“So [since the problem of certainty in identity such as A=A is handled, in Euclidian geometry, by invoking the notion of invariable solids] “objects” are implicitly assumed to be invariable bodies. Therefore the axioms of geometry already contain an irreducible assumption which does not follow from the axioms themselves. Axiomatic systems provide us with “faulty definitions” of objects, definitions that are grounded not in formal logic but in a hypothesis — a “prejudice” as Hans-Georg Gadamer might say — that is prior to logic. As a corollary, our logic of identity cannot be said to be necessary and universally valid. “Such axioms,” says Poincaré, “would be utterly meaningless to a being living in a world in which there are only fluids.” — Vladimir Tasic

'identity' or 'representation' can be purely 'relational-spatial' although this freaks people out because it sounds like 'ghosts' because there is nothing 'local' at the bottom of it; i.e. the 'relational thing' is the 'agent of transformation' that is, as emerson describes man, 'the transmitting of influences from the vast and universal to the point on which its [Brahman] genius can act'.

as we know, a tornado or convection cell or a biological cell can be understood as the conjugate relation of outside-inward converging many-to-one accommodating 'sink' (yin) and inside-outward diverging one-to-many asserting 'source' (yang). that is a 'relational definition' of ANY 'THING', e.g. 'man', 'organism', 'organization', 'planet', 'cosmos'.

in fact, that's all that a relational [non-euclidian] space allows;

"Now the following question arises. What is the reason that we can know only the relations among things and not the things themselves? The straightforward answer is that relations are all there is. This lead makes structural realism a more radical proposition, called ontic structural realism." --- Meinard Kuhlmann, ‘What is Real’, Scientific American, August 2013

what comes with this relational-spatial understanding is the Heraclitean relation between 'inhabitant' and 'habitat' as in Mach's principle where "the inhabitant can't step in the same habitat twice because it is not the same habitat and it is not the same inhabitant' (the inhabitant is being continually reinvented and so is the habitat through the mutually interdependent inhabitant --- habitat/plenum resonating).

'representation' is key to the problem alright, but we run into this because we have no qualms, for example, in representing a hurricane by a picture of pinwheeling whorl when it is IMPOSSIBLE TO PROPERLY [physically truthfully] REPRESENT A HURRICANE because it is a relational form and relational forms cannot be split apart from the transforming relational space they are features of. Therefore, to put up any picture, physically or in positivist words or in the mind, purporting it to 'REPRESENT SOME THING', is INHERENTLY WRONG. it is confusing 'schaumkommen', variations in the structure of space, for some 'thing' (Schroedinger).

not that our noun-and-verb European language-and-grammar 'cares about that'. it will explain away your big toe as a 'thing-in-itself' and descend down into cells, molecules, atoms and quarks to prove that the toe exists as a thing-in-itself by describing its internal components, some of which are obscured by 'probability clouds'.

if de acosta would accept the substitution of 'yin' for 'chaos' and 'yang' for order, we would have a path to migrate over from 'chaos and order' to NOT 'yin and yang', .. BUT 'yin/yang' (outside-inward orchestrating --- inside-outward asserting RESONANCES).

Western civilization, however, BANISHED yin/yang a long time back by demonizing the notion of 'outside-inward orchestrating influence' or 'yin' or 'djinn';

"The noun-and-verb European language-and-grammar operates on the activity continuum [the continually transforming relational spatial plenum] to synthetically break out notional ‘things-in-themselves’. Whether we are speaking of skyscrapers, bridges, motor vehicles or Titanic ocean liners, these artefacts of Enlightenment European thinking/behaviour appear ‘different’ because they don’t fit into the evolutionary flow. Stainless steel and glass structures with perfect lines and right angles in them do appear as if they have been made by ‘Gods’ or ‘aliens’. These structures absolutely ‘assert themselves’ without having waited to answer some need of nature. The more un-needed and uncalled for they are, the more they take on this ‘God-like’ or ‘alien’ look of coming fully and solely from out of themselves. The same applies for people’s behaviour when it looks like it is coming absolute, one-sidedly from out of the self-asserting agenda of an individual person, state or corporation. All of this God-like one-sidedness which characterizes Enlightenment European man, and which, to him, signifies the ‘advanced status’ the ‘progress’ of his ‘civilization’, is the product of ‘splitting the atom’; i.e. ‘splitting apart the vortex’ the relational resonance forms, the coincidentia oppositorum’;
.
“In ancient writings there is a general pattern alluding to the replacing of ‘yin’ with passivity; Adam’s first wife, Lilith, from ‘lil’ [Sumerian for ‘breath’ or ‘spirit’ ca. 3000 BCE], becoming ‘lilitu’ [wind-spirit] in Babylonian, and appearing in Arabic as ‘Alilat’ [a form of Lilith, in this case as the daughter of Allah and Goddess of the night], was the equal of Adam, who was banished for demanding equality in sexual relations. According to the legends, Adam insisted on superiority in sexual relations and Lilith was banished and God made Adam a second, passive/submissive wife, Eve. Lilith was demonized as a spirit of darkness that had sex with the devil and spawned djinns or genies.”
.
“In the Bible (Gen. 2:7) God breathes the breath of life into the human being formed of dust, and this being "became a living soul". Words in many languages which double as wind and spirit indicate the creation process, the turning of inanimate matter into animate (anemos is Greek for wind).”
.
Enlightenment European man obsesses on, his ability to notionally ‘split apart’ the essential organizing archetype of nature [the yin/yang vortex or ‘coincidentia oppositorum’] IN HIS MIND. That is, when humans see themselves as ‘things-in-themselves with their own internal process driven and [reason-and-purpose] directed behaviours, they imagine this. They can never escape Mach’s principle which imputes a relational-resonance essence to them wherein; “the dynamics of the inhabitants are conditioning the dynamics of the habitat at the same time as the dynamics of the habitat are conditioning the dynamics of the inhabitants”. There is no way to ‘construct a house’ without, at the same time, ‘destroying some forest and meadow’, and there is no way to ‘construct the history of an independent state’ without, at the same time, ‘destroying established spatial relations’. As McLuhan observes, it takes a whole community [the transforming of relations] to raise a new factory.
.
The physical reality IS the transforming relational spatial plenum, and the notion of ‘new construction’ or 'things changing over time' is idealization that depends upon framing the transformational feature against blankness so that it will appear as a constructive activity. Only then can one speak of ‘constructing a house’ instead of ‘transforming the forest and meadow space’. That is, we IMPOSE fixed representation on the relational form, which, at the same time, takes us out of the continually transforming relational spatial plenum that includes, within a common relational spatial context, the observer/experient and the observed, ... an impossible-to-REPRESENT, .... PHYSICAL REALITY

this 'banishment of yin' translates into today's 'fear of chaos' and irrational denial of outside-inward orchestrating influence on development and behaviour. that it got into our cultural belief set a long time ago is well documented, but why it did and how it got such good lock-in are not well-documented. perhaps because of ego which it celebrates and secures positions of authority for.

sorry for the long-windedness of this commentary that was prompted by a desire to compliment your brevity!

but it still sounds like the thought of anarchy frightens most anarchists

only the ones who care about it

Enemy? Common' man, we need to zoom out further into cosmic consciousness. What, are you afraid of being a real anarchist and riding with me on our magic carpet ride? It's like totally unnameable, it's the desert dude.

this piece is too long for this format/anews
but
labeling all talk of space time, doer/deed as belonging to a single poster is as short-sighted and sad as labeling everyone critical and snarky as another single poster. it is the cheapest kind of side-taking,

this is an amazing article, and it is finally doing justice (maybe even more than it deserves--and it deserves a lot, if only for the rareness of its pragmatism) to Desert. i will leave it at that.

makes no sense

People should familiarize themselves with Terrence Mckenna's hypotheses on human/hominid development. This journey started with monkeys departing trees as Africa was drying up, down to the plains and the mushrooms we went and viola. Also there was high bicameral based complexity in prehistory as well(Gobekli Tepe). The last round of climate change is what brought in this agriculture and HIStory of ours(I refuse to believe that the rise of agriculture and the end of the Ice age are coincidental), perhaps the coming change will take us out of it. The prehuman that Dupont talks about I believe is already built into nature, nature itself is a living language with desertification being apart of it.

What is needed is a fusion of the bicameral and self-reflecting mind. If this coming climate change does it, good.

From the "Coming Insurrection" to the "Coming Climate Change", or how the NA pseudo-anarcho-insurrectionists got mind-raped by the same old reformist Left they never managed to cut themselves away from.

If there's any fusion of the divided bipolar brain, it will come from the way children are being educated. If from any uncontrollable environmental factor, it may be from the ongoing change in the Sun's radiations, that directly affect the molecular structure of matter. The Matrix is cracking.

I don't understand why some anarchists still use "rape" to describe things which bear no relation to the horror & trauma of actual rape. Go back to your fucking frat, bro.

new age liberals please go

Good! I'll be printing this and test its pragmatic social value by slipping it next to prole's Whoppers in frankenburger fast foods.

Language can be also prison.

you can find printable versions here in various formats:

http://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/alejandro-de-acosta-green-nihilis...

I was being sarcastic. When I do agit-prop, that's wit real agit-prop, not post-academic self-inflated garbage.

got the respect it deserved.

De Acosta’s essay appears to be an exploration of the limits of conceptualizing world and self in terms of ‘being’. The being-based concepts explored contrast with indigenous anarchism with its understanding of the self-other relation in the non-dualist terms of ‘relational form in transforming relational spatial plenum’; i.e. there is no existential angst over ‘survival of humanity’ since humanity is not a ‘being’ or ‘thing-in-itself’ but a relational pattern within a continually transforming relational spatial plenum. The indigenous anarchist is, at the same time, both Brahman (the all) and Atman (the temporal), and so it is as well in the relational worldview of modern physics, as Schroedinger points out in ‘What is Life?’

The deliberation on issues such as defining ‘resistance’;

“one remarkable aspect of the contemporary anarchist space is an open contradiction between two perspectives on what struggle is, or is for, that might be summed up in the phrases we have enemies and we did this to ourselves. There are countless versions of this contradiction, which at a deeper level is really not about political struggle at all, but about the essence of resistance.”

... looks very different when one switches from ‘being’ to ‘becoming’ as the essential origin of dynamics, as in indigenous anarchism.

That is, indigenous anarchism, as with relationist interpretations of quantum physics, start from the view that the universe is ONE DYNAMIC, i.e. a continually transforming relational spatial plenum, a view that RENOUNCES BEING as non-sensical abstraction;

“Space is not empty. It is full, a plenum as opposed to a vacuum, and is the ground for the existence of everything, including ourselves.” — David Bohm

"“And just as our Copernicus said to us : It is more convenient to suppose the earth turns round, since thus the laws of astronomy are expressible in a much simpler language ; this one would say: It is more convenient to suppose the earth turns round, since thus the laws of mechanics are expressible in a much simpler language.
.
This does not preclude maintaining that absolute space, that is to say the mark to which it would be necessary to refer the earth to know whether it really moves, has no objective existence. Hence, this affirmation; 'the earth turns round' has no meaning, since it can be verified by no experiment; since such an experiment, not only could not be either realized or dreamed by the boldest Jules Verne, but can not be conceived of without contradiction; or rather these two propositions; 'the earth turns round,' and, 'it is more convenient to suppose the earth turns round' have the same meaning; there is nothing more in the one than in the other. “ --- Henri Poincaré, ‘Science and Hypothesis’, Ch. VII Relative Motion and Absolute Motion

Everything is relative in a continually transforming relational spatial plenum, not just motion but also 'things'.

Nietzsche is a staunch supporter of this ‘being-renouncing’ view, claiming, along with Whorf, Sapir, Watts, Poincaré, and the indigenous anarchists, that ‘being’ is an artefact of noun-and-verb Indo-European language-and-grammar. He not only replicates the ‘transforming relational-spatial plenum’ world-as-becoming view [he was, according to historical investigators, influence by Mach’s critique of historically-developed mechanics];

“And do you know what “the world” is to me? Shall I show it to you in my mirror? This world: a monster of energy, without beginning, without end; a firm, iron magnitude of force that does not grow bigger or smaller, that does not expend itself but only transforms itself; as a whole, of unalterable size, a household without expenses or losses, but likewise without increase or income …” –Nietzsche, ‘The Will to Power’, 1067

Nietzsche went farther and explained just how we make the mistake of invoking the absolutist concept of ‘being’ which then leads to dualism, the artificial splitting apart of ‘self’ and ‘other’, ... ‘Atman’ [temporal] and ‘Brahman’ [never-ending; i.e. ongoing relational-spatial ‘becoming’ of the ‘All’/’Plenum’]

The recipe for doing this is to start with a relational form, and it is easier to see this if we don’t start from the emotionally loaded relational form called ‘man’ and instead use ‘storm-cell’, ... give the relational form a word-name to depict it as a ‘thing-in-itself’ and then impute local jumpstart ‘intention’ to it by appending a verb that it can inflect and thus convert itself into a ‘doer-of-deeds’. We come out of this having ‘reduced an essentially non-local relational dynamic’ to a locally jumpstarting, doer-of-deed based dynamic. The backdrop of the swirling, transforming relational space ‘disappears’ in our minds-eye view, and we are left thinking in terms of an ‘independently-existing thing-in-itself [a ‘being’] with its own internal process driven and directed behaviour;

“Our judgement has us conclude that every change must have an author”;–but this conclusion is already mythology: it separates that which effects from the effecting. If I say “lightning flashes,” I have posited the flash once as an activity and a second time as a subject, and thus added to the event a being that is not one with the event but is rather fixed, “is” and does not “become.”–To regard an event as an “effecting,” and this as being, that is the double error, or interpretation, of which we are guilty.” – Nietzsche, ‘Will to Power’, 531

This leads to a very different scenarizing than is presented in Desert and competing ‘being-based’ scenarizings.

The ‘resistance’ of indigenous anarchists is the resistance to ‘other brothers’ [everyone/everything is related as by Mach’s principle, as relational forms within a continually transforming relational space] whose behaviour is individually and collectively shaped by a belief in ‘being’. These people, aka believers in European civilization, a mindset conditioned by noun-and-verb European language and grammar, go about setting up authoritarian structures, believing that they have God-like jumpstart powers of causally determining change and creating desired futures, and this 'being-based' thinking infuses fear of chaos in their fellow believers, as to what will happen if the authoritarian structures collapse. That is, if the world is an absolute empty space populated by independent 'material-object-beings' that randomly bounce around and collide, then it must be 'reason to the rescue' to extract 'order-from-chaos'. Of course, understanding space as relational with built in harmony-and-balance-seeking as with indigenous anarchists and relational quantum physics theorists, is an entirely different matter.

Hand-in-hand with seeing themselves as ‘powerboaters’ [rather than as sailboaters that derive their power and steerage from the relational spatial dynamics they are included in] is the abuse of the environment which, as Neyrat [Biopolitics of Catastrophe] points out, is the alter-aspect of our human selves;

“In extending his living space in a manner that destroys the space of others, he destroys his own space. Not initially his inside space, his ‘self’, but his outside space, this real outside-of-self which nourishes his ‘inside-of-self’. The protection of this outside space now becomes the condition without which he is unable to pursue the growth of his own powers of being.” — Frédéric Neyrat, ‘Biopolitics of Catastrophe’

The indigenous anarchist, and those for whom the relational theory of modern physics makes sense [where ‘we’ are relational forms in a continually transforming relational spatial plenum in which Mach’s principle applies; “The dynamics of the inhabitants are conditioning the dynamics of the habitat at the same time as the dynamics of the habitat are conditioning the dynamics of the inhabitants] ... find themselves in a struggle with ['resisting the directives of'] brothers who understand the self-other relationship very differently from them, ... brothers who accept the concept of ‘being’ as ‘real’,... a view that splits apart ‘the figures from the ground’ and that means splitting apart ‘the humans from the Planet’ and splitting apart ‘the Planet from the cosmos’ provoking not just a human, planetary 'existential angst' that is only moderated by the sense that the cosmos will continue on, as De Acosta captures in the quote from Joubert;

“If the earth must perish, then astronomy is our only consolation” ---Joubert

This dualism produces BELIEF BY AND IN ‘robots’ who believe they have God-like powers; i.e. Western civilization models man as an ‘independent reason-driven system’ whereupon ‘reason’ becomes where the buck starts and stops in systematized dynamics aka 'organization' which leads to the dilemma noted by Lafontaine, that ‘reason’ is shaped by ‘perspective’ and there is no such thing as ‘the reason that takes natural priority over all other reason’ (Goedel’s Theorem also rules that one out). As Lafontaine says;

“La raison du plus fort est toujours la meilleure” (“The reason of the most powerful is always the best”).

In the noun-and-verb European language-and-grammar conditioned mind, not only is ‘man’ an ‘independent reason-driven system’, but so is ‘organization’ and therefore so is ‘community’; i.e. ‘community’ is seen as a ‘reason-driven independent system’ by the robots of Western civilization who have made God as well as community, 'in their own image', as 'independent reason-driven systems'.

So, in the scenario presented by 'Desert' and entertained in the discussion of De Acosta, there is total bypassing by way of implicit acceptance of the concept of man as an ‘independent reason-driven system’, the consequent problems and contradictions being relocated to issues such as authoritarian control versus non-authoritarian systems of community. This view of social conflict implies the very non-indigenous-anarchist notion that ‘community’ is a ‘thing-in-itself’ that is manufactured from ‘reason’, or more precisely, manufactured from ‘independent reason-driven things-in-themselves called ‘humans’’.

What does this mean relative to the scenario that ‘anarchists’ keep ‘escaping to the desert’, but are unable to keep from once again being ‘infected by community’?;

“Hermits keep escaping to the desert, but their solitude is temporary; others gather nearby. The escape from forced community develops spontaneous forms of community. But for being spontaneous, such community does not cease to develop, sooner or later, the traits of the first, escaped, community”

Now, this is where De Acosta takes ‘the path of being’ and proceeds to investigate all the contradictions in it without addressing ‘the path of becoming’, which arguably resolves these contradictions;

Imagine how the indigenous anarchist [IA] is understanding things.

[IA]: The terrain has been flooded with brothers who believe they are ‘independent reason-driven systems’ and who further believe that ‘organization’ and ‘community’ are ‘independent reason-driven systems’ fabricated by ‘independent reason-driven systems; i.e. ‘men’’. I don’t want to be penned in and forced to comply with their crazy directives, so I will seek to avoid them and to reconnoitre with others like myself whose minds have not been infected by this madness, others, who understand that ‘community’ is where the outside-inward orchestrating influence of nature [the continually transforming relational spatial plenum in which we are relational features] is in conjugate relation with our inside-outward asserting actions; i.e. where 'community' is NOT MISTAKEN FOR an ‘independent reason-driven system’.

This is the path-not-taken-and-not-explored by De Acosta, since the continuing discussion accepts that ‘community’ is an ‘independent reason-driven system’ aka ‘thing-in-itself’/‘being’ rather than a relational form in the continually transforming relational spatial plenum.

The interesting journey that De Acosta takes us on, is one that never seems to leave the basic dualist assumption of the ‘inhabitant – habitat’ split (Aristotelian logical mutual exclusion); e.g;

(“It is not man who colonizes the planet, but the planet and the cosmos who transgress the lonely threshold of man”—does this odd sentence of Laruelle’s express the thought here, I wonder?) It makes sense for Thacker to invoke mysticism when he considers the cosmos or the Planet, because its otherness has most often been referred to as divine, and related to as a god.

The problem with ‘being’, which is implicitly accepted in the writings that are explored by De Acosta, is that it is a secularized theological concept. The notion of man as a ‘being’, an ‘independent reason-driven machine’, which was popularized by Creation theory and retained in Newtonian science, Darwinism and in the general thinking of Western civilization is a secularized theological concept which relocates the animating source from the non-local, non-visible, and non-material aspect of the continually transforming relational spatial plenum;

“Space is not empty. It is full, a plenum as opposed to a vacuum, and is the ground for the existence of everything, including ourselves.” — David Bohm

... into the ‘centre-of-authority/centre-of-reason’ of the relational form we describe using noun-and-verb European language-and-grammar, as an independent reason-driven automaton, to explain NOT ONLY the source of man's behaviour, but to explain WHERE COMMUNITY COMES FROM; i.e. depicting it as a ‘reason-driven structure’.

The problems and contradictions in trying to figure things out, when one starts off assuming a ‘being-based world’, are well explored in this essay, but as a footnote, there have been many arguments against using ‘being’ as a mental modeling base for self and world, but they seem to have never risen up the popularity charts of western philosophy [Nietzsche being himself popular, but not his rejection of 'being' and rejection of 'reason']. I will close with a few of these 'voices in the wilderness';

* * *

“As soon as one sees that separate things are fictitious, it becomes obvious that nonexistent things cannot “perform” actions. The difficulty is that most languages are arranged so that actions (verbs) have to be set in motion by things (nouns), and we forget that rules of grammar are not necessarily rules, or patterns, of nature. This, which is nothing more than a convention of grammar, is also responsible for (or, better, “goes with”) absurd puzzles as to how spirit governs matter, or mind moves body. How can a noun, which is by definition not action, lead to action?” —Alan Watts, ‘Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are’
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“What we observe as material bodies and forces are nothing but shapes and variations in the structure of space. Particles are just schaumkommen (appearances).”---Erwin Schroedinger
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“The world is given to me only once, not one existing and one perceived. Subject and object are only one. The barrier between them cannot be said to have broken down as a result of recent experience in the physical sciences, for this barrier does not exist. …”—Erwin Schroedinger
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“The fact of the matter is that the ‘real world’ is to a large extent unconsciously built up on the language habits of the group . . . We see and hear and otherwise experience very largely as we do because the language habits of our community predispose certain choices of interpretation.” – Edward Sapir
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“Finally, our Euclidean geometry is itself only a sort of convention of language; mechanical facts might be enunciated with reference to a non-Euclidean space which would be a guide less convenient than, but just as legitimate as, our ordinary space ; the enunciation would thus become much more complicated, but it would remain possible. Thus absolute space, absolute time, geometry itself, are not conditions which impose themselves on mechanics ; all these things are no more antecedent to mechanics than the French language is logically antecedent to the verities one expresses in French.” – Henri Poincare, Science and Hypothesis
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[NB. Non-Euclidian space is a relational space in which it is impossible to impute absolute motion to things, and thus impossible to impute ‘being’ and ‘being-based movement’ to relational forms within a changing [changing necessarily means relationally transforming] relational space; i.e. ‘change’ can no longer be imputed to be ‘independently-existing things changing in time’]

Bottom-line: Explorations of self and other in relational space are not yet popular. There is general acceptance in the globally dominant ‘Western thinking’ shaped world, of man, organism and organization as ‘independent-reason-driven systems’ aka ‘beings’, notionally with their own internal process driven and directed dynamics. Since this is the ‘bright light on the street’, this is where it is popular to go looking for stuff; i.e. the investigators are all hanging around this model like moths around a flame, precipitating books and discussions. De Acosta does a service by bringing out the many inconsistencies and implicit contradictions in ‘being-based modeling’ of self and the world.

What is this horseshit? I hated women, Jews and anarchists. How the fuck did I get to be the favorite philosopher of some effeminate anarchist? Heads are going to roll, motherfuckers.

emile, is Neyrat's Biopolitics of Catastrophe translated, or are you reading it in french? I had heard something of his was coming out via umn press, but can't remember if it was this or something else

i haven’t seen that one translated into english, and i have only read a review of it. about three years ago? someone (anonymous) in this forum referred to a couple of books on ‘catastrophe theory’ and neyrat’s was one of them. i think the anonymous commenter was high on René Riesel et Jaime Semprun, Catastrophismes. Administration du désastre et soumission durable

anyhow, i tried to chase this down and what i found was an interesting essay by yves citton on catastrophisme on a french literature review website which can now be found here

the essay is about how catastrophisme is shaping the modern social/living dynamic (seen differently by different authors).

for example the people of US and western countries, since 9/11, have a social dynamic that is strongly shaped by the fear of being over-run by ‘terrorists’ and so the western world is battening down like a beachside resort preparing for the arrival of a hurricane.

there is fear of the catastrophe of global warming and nuclear meltdown and a market crash and that the fucking anarchists bring about the collapse of civilization wiping centuries of civilized development progress down the drain, and taking the whole lot down into a hell of chaos and disorder, ... and so on and so forth. like the environmental catastrophisme topic of this thread.

neyrat’s offering, to gather from the review, was different in that it pointed to the view of ‘self’.

now come to think of it, as i just have, ... you could interpret that being that the ‘catastrophe’ is the fear of the collapse of the Western concept of self, which is what i write about all the time. i just hadn’t made that association with the essay by yves citton (not sure he did either),... but neyrat evidently did.

that is, the western concept of the self is ‘an independent reason-driven system’ which is really stupid, but that’s what we grow up with believing so no wonder why our society is screwed up.

but yes, i think that’s the message on catastrophisme, the feared collapse that comes in all these various flavours of global warming, nuclear meltdown, anarchist collapsing of civilization, terrorists raping and pillaging, commies taking over south america and then the world, environmental pollution making for mass extinctions including mans, ... let’s see, what else, .. massive meteors which are getting closer and closer almost in proportion to the rise in power of our telescopes, holes in the ozone layer, the coming of an ice-age, inundation by people wearing turbans and veils, rising c levels, spread of unstoppable viral pathogens, SARS, birdflu etc. etc. (ain't science great? and politicians make great orchestra leaders).

instead of all that stuff, which just the superficial layer, the fear in the air is the fear of the collapse of the Western model of self, organism, and yes ‘organization’ all of which are modeled in the western mind as ‘independent reason-driven systems’, ... which means we are talking about ‘the collapse of reason’, ... which is great because then we can reground ourselves in intuition which is where the indigenous anarchists are and have always been. how western civilization got off on the narrow guage rails of reason is a mystery, ... or maybe not because the reduction to the yang pole, which reason is, ... is the reduction to the ego as the sole animating source, and the demonizing of the female, ... good-bye lilith, lilitu, alilaat, ... or, if neyrat is right, welcome home lilith, lilitu, alilaat!

p.s. if you do find neyrat’s works translated into english, let me know (english is my first language and the steps down from there are pretty large ones).

"i haven’t seen that one translated into english, and i have only read a review of it."

Final Grade: C+.

as john locke worrisomely observed in 'two treatises of government', the popular use of money and the rise of wage-labour ‘unravelled’ community and restructured it in the all-yang-no-yin terms of ‘what specialized workers do’.

this is essentially a reduction of yin/yang to yang (instead of people letting the development of their inside-outward asserting actions and skill development be orchestrated by the outside-inward influence of the opening of niche needs in the relational dynamics of community (i.e. that ARE community, or at least that USED TO BE community), work specialization unravelled the community and assembled all the workers in a labour hall with a marketing blackboard posting demands for certain workers and pulling people out of the waiting queues in their category, all of these being enabled by ‘money’ and ‘wages’ and mediated by 'employers'.

specialized worker development, rather than letting the development be orchestrated and shaped directly by the relational-spatial dynamics of community, is the reduction of yin/yang dynamic to all-yang-no-yin. the worker jumpstarts his work assignment from his knowledge base and the ‘assignment’ he is given (i.e. his work is ‘reason-driven’. if the money runs out the construction stops right there like a jigsaw puzzle with a couple of pieces missing; i.e. the workers don't even know the people who are need of the home or whatever it is; i.e. the yin and the yang have been totally split apart and the dynamic is all-yang-no-yin) and the specialized wage-slave worker performs as an ‘independent reason-driven system’.

Of course, this is just a conceptual way of seeing it. Life is what happens to us all while we are busy making other plans’. In other words, this conceptualizing of work can be in operation when the tsunami comes and obliterates it, so the continually transforming relational spatial plenum is the ‘real dynamic’ and the dynamic described in terms of a collective of notional ‘independent reason-driven systems’ is ‘conceptual’ rather than ‘real’. Things only get ‘real’ when they are in the context of the overall dynamic of the continually transforming-in-the-now relational spatial plenum.

anyhow, this ‘p.s.’ is to say that the sense of self, when reduced from yin/yang to yang, REDUCES TO PURE EGO where one believes that one REALLY IS an 'independent reason-driven system'. thus the popularizing of the use of money and wage-labour IS REINFORCED by noun-and-verb European AND SCIENTIFIC language-and-grammar WHICH ALSO reduces yin/yang to all-yang-no-yin, so we have the following contributors to the reducing of the sense of self to pure yang ego (of individual, of sovereign state, of corporation)... ‘European language-and-grammar’, ‘popular use of money’, ‘wage-labour’, ‘work specialization’, ‘science’ and ‘knowledge-work’,.... all of which contributes to affirming the sense of individual self, state, corporation modeled as an ‘independent reason-driven system’.

Indigenous anarchist societies, for example, have had none of these ‘reduction of yin/yang to yang’ habits and so have been able to sustain a natural yin/yang sense of self.

Why the collapse of this sense of self now? Thinkers like Neyrat are pointing something out that is bubbling up into our general awareness, that there is something missing when we think of ourselves as ‘independent reason-driven systems’, ... that something missing is our relationship with the habitat; i.e. if we simply do what we want, we can damage the habitat that we are included in and dependent for our nourishment on. That’s Neyrat’s core point, and if you ‘can’t get it’ and feel you have to read a couple of hundred pages to back it up and explain it, that’s you’re problem. meanwhile, i would like to read neyrat to get inside his head a bit more.

"as john locke worrisomely observed in 'two treatises of government',"

BULLSHIT.

Should say, "well, at least as John Locke was presented in some secondary or tertiary source material I found on the Internet . . . . ."

Final Grade: C+

sure, i remember being in the ivy-covered stone libraries and showing my academic ID card to get permission to heft one of those dusty leather bound volumes that no stupid labourer would ever get chance to put his dirt-fouled dick-beaters on. wait a minute, i WAS a labourer before i took a ride on the academia express. but i do remember all the obstacles that were put up before you could touch the old volumes, and that made sense to a lot of people because when you went to dinner, how else could you distinguish yourself whilst sniffing your brandy snifter without tossing your head back and citing a few obscure phrases gleaned from the archives-only-for-the-credentialled?

and of course, such a mystique was set up and promoted about academia and academicians that few people who had dropped out of highschool could even imagine that the knowledge of the erudite that society was giving such disproportionate privileges to was so accessible, if one were able to get to it, to allow understanding of it that in no way demanded years of study and several degrees. now that we have had years of thousands of people graduating with degrees in anthropology and economics, ... who would say that anyone with a reasonable ability to read and with an education by older brother or community elder, could not, if they could get to the writings, make a one hour or less read and interpretation that could challenge the interpretations of thousands of academics and make more sense. here's a fifteen minute assessment of john locke without having to go the cliff's notes or locke-for-dummies route, those routes that put money into the pockets of academics who promote the academic mystique that to partake of the originals would be beyond the intellectual capabilities of mere mortals that have not yet been anointed by the high priests of academia.

just between you and i, professor, ... could it be that you are angry that people are bypassing the official channels granting access privileges only to the credentialled? does the word ‘undergraduate’ convey to you an unworthiness relative to your own credentialled status? was einstein unworthy as an undergraduate and reborn into worthiness on graduation? if we plot the worth of one's understanding capacity against the years of study and attainment of credentials, is it monotonically increasing? can we calculate the slope of this curve and learn from it the proportionate growth of understanding relative to accumulation of status and credentials?

1690
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TWO TREATISES OF GOVERNMENT
BY IOHN LOCKE
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SALUS POPULI SUPREMA LEX ESTO
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OF CIVIL-GOVERNMENT
Book II
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CHAP. V.
Of PROPERTY.
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Sect. 34. God gave the world to men in common; but since he gave it them for their benefit, and the greatest conveniencies of life they were capable to draw from it, it cannot be supposed he meant it should always remain common and uncultivated. He gave it to the use of the industrious and rational, (and labour was to be his title to it;) not to the fancy or covetousness of the quarrelsome and contentious. He that had as good left for his improvement, as was already taken up, needed not complain, ought not to meddle with what was already improved by another's labour: if he did, it is plain he desired the benefit of another's pains, which he had no right to, and not the ground which God had given him in common with others to labour on, and whereof there was as good left, as that already possessed, and more than he knew what to do with, or his industry could reach to.
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Sect. 36. The measure of property nature has well set by the extent of men's labour and the conveniencies of life: no man's labour could subdue, or appropriate all; nor could his enjoyment consume more than a small part; so that it was impossible for any man, this way, to intrench upon the right of another, or acquire to himself a property, to the prejudice of his neighbour, who would still have room for as good, and as large a possession (after the other had taken out his) as before it was appropriated. This measure did confine every man's possession to a very moderate proportion, and such as he might appropriate to himself, without injury to any body, in the first ages of the world, when men were more in danger to be lost, by wandering from their company, in the then vast wilderness of the earth, than to be straitened for want of room to plant in.
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Sect. 37. This is certain, that in the beginning, before the desire of having more than man needed had altered the intrinsic value of things, which depends only on their usefulness to the life of man; or had agreed, that a little piece of yellow metal, which would keep without wasting or decay, should be worth a great piece of flesh, or a whole heap of corn; though men had a right to appropriate, by their labour, each one of himself, as much of the things of nature, as he could use: yet this could not be much, nor to the prejudice of others, where the same plenty was still left to those who would use the same industry. ...
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Before the appropriation of land, he who gathered as much of the wild fruit, killed, caught, or tamed, as many of the beasts, as he could; he that so imployed his pains about any of the spontaneous products of nature, as any way to alter them from the state which nature put them in, by placing any of his labour on them, did thereby acquire a propriety in them: but if they perished, in his possession, without their due use; if the fruits rotted, or the venison putrified, before he could spend it, he offended against the common law of nature, and was liable to be punished; he invaded his neighbour's share, for he had no right, farther than his use called for any of them, and they might serve to afford him conveniencies of life.
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Sect. 39. And thus, without supposing any private dominion, and property in Adam, over all the world, exclusive of all other men, which can no way be proved, nor any one's property be made out from it; but supposing the world given, as it was, to the children of men in common, we see how labour could make men distinct titles to several parcels of it, for their private uses; wherein there could be no doubt of right, no room for quarrel
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Sect. 45. Thus labour, in the beginning, gave a right of property, wherever any one was pleased to employ it upon what was common, which remained a long while the far greater part, and is yet more than mankind makes use of. Men, at first, for the most part, contented themselves with what unassisted nature offered to their necessities: and though afterwards, in some parts of the world, (where the increase of people and stock, with the use of money, had made land scarce, and so of some value) the several communities settled the bounds of their distinct territories, and by laws within themselves regulated the properties of the private men of their society, and so, by compact and agreement, settled the property which labour and industry began; and the leagues that have been made between several states and kingdoms, either expresly or tacitly disowning all claim and right to the land in the others possession, have, by common consent, given up their pretences to their natural common right, which originally they had to those countries, and so have, by positive agreement, settled a property amongst themselves, in distinct parts and parcels of the earth; yet there are still great tracts of ground to be found, which (the inhabitants thereof not having joined with the rest of mankind, in the consent of the use of their common money) lie waste, and are more than the people who dwell on it do, or can make use of, and so still lie in common; tho' this can scarce happen amongst that part of mankind that have consented to the use of money.
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Sect. 46. The greatest part of things really useful to the life of man, and such as the necessity of subsisting made the first commoners of the world look after, as it cloth the Americans now, are generally things of short duration; such as, if they are not consumed by use, will decay and perish of themselves: gold, silver and diamonds, are things that fancy or agreement hath put the value on, more than real use, and the necessary support of life. Now of those good things which nature hath provided in common, every one had a right (as hath been said) to as much as he could use, and property in all that he could effect with his labour; all that his industry could extend to, to alter from the state nature had put it in, was his. He that gathered a hundred bushels of acorns or apples, had thereby a property in them, they were his goods as soon as gathered. He was only to look, that he used them before they spoiled, else he took more than his share, and robbed others. And indeed it was a foolish thing, as well as dishonest, to hoard up more than he could make use of. If he gave away a part to any body else, so that it perished not uselesly in his possession, these he also made use of. And if he also bartered away plums, that would have rotted in a week, for nuts that would last good for his eating a whole year, he did no injury; he wasted not the common stock; destroyed no part of the portion of goods that belonged to others, so long as nothing perished uselesly in his hands. Again, if he would give his nuts for a piece of metal, pleased with its colour; or exchange his sheep for shells, or wool for a sparkling pebble or a diamond, and keep those by him all his life he invaded not the right of others, he might heap up as much of these durable things as he pleased; the exceeding of the bounds of his just property not lying in the largeness of his possession, but the perishing of any thing uselesly in it.
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Sect. 47. And thus came in the use of money, some lasting thing that men might keep without spoiling, and that by mutual consent men would take in exchange for the truly useful, but perishable supports of life.
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Sect. 48. And as different degrees of industry were apt to give men possessions in different proportions, so this invention of money gave them the opportunity to continue and enlarge them: for supposing an island, separate from all possible commerce with the rest of the world, wherein there were but an hundred families, but there were sheep, horses and cows, with other useful animals, wholsome fruits, and land enough for corn for a hundred thousand times as many, but nothing in the island, either because of its commonness, or perishableness, fit to supply the place of money; what reason could any one have there to enlarge his possessions beyond the use of his family, and a plentiful supply to its consumption, either in what their own industry produced, or they could barter for like perishable, useful commodities, with others? Where there is not some thing, both lasting and scarce, and so valuable to be hoarded up, there men will not be apt to enlarge their possessions of land, were it never so rich, never so free for them to take: for I ask, what would a man value ten thousand, or an hundred thousand acres of excellent land, ready cultivated, and well stocked too with cattle, in the middle of the inland parts of America, where he had no hopes of commerce with other parts of the world, to draw money to him by the sale of the product? It would not be worth the enclosing, and we should see him give up again to the wild common of nature, whatever was more than would supply the conveniencies of life to be had there for him and his family.
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Sect. 49. Thus in the beginning all the world was America, and more so than that is now; for no such thing as money was any where known. Find out something that hath the use and value of money amongst his neighbours, you shall see the same man will begin presently to enlarge his possessions.
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Sect. 50. But since gold and silver, being little useful to the life of man in proportion to food, raiment, and carriage, has its value only from the consent of men, whereof labour yet makes, in great part, the measure, it is plain, that men have agreed to a disproportionate and unequal possession of the earth, they having, by a tacit and voluntary consent, found out, a way how a man may fairly possess more land than he himself can use the product of, by receiving in exchange for the overplus gold and silver, which may be hoarded up without injury to any one; these metals not spoiling or decaying in the hands of the possessor. This partage of things in an inequality of private possessions, men have made practicable out of the bounds of society, and without compact, only by putting a value on gold and silver, and tacitly agreeing in the use of money: for in governments, the laws regulate the right of property, and the possession of land is determined by positive constitutions.
.
Sect. 51. And thus, I think, it is very easy to conceive, without any difficulty, how labour could at first begin a title of property in the common things of nature, and how the spending it upon our uses bounded it. So that there could then be no reason of quarrelling about title, nor any doubt about the largeness of possession it gave. Right and conveniency went together; for as a man had a right to all he could employ his labour upon, so he had no temptation to labour for more than he could make use of. This left no room for controversy about the title, nor for encroachment on the right of others; what portion a man carved to himself, was easily seen; and it was useless, as well as dishonest, to carve himself too much, or take more than he needed.

Final Grade: F

i understand that judging is a relatively ‘safe’ (wimp’s) way of participating in a forum, which allows one to avoid the exposure of having one’s own ideas (if one has any) judged.

but judging is a skill in itself that can also be judged and it is obvious that your latest ‘judgement’, a diversionary comment in which you turn your guns on an already dead and defenseless locke, is a pathetic smokescreen for ego-saving disengagement.

If you want to graduate, you'll have to retake the class. Maybe college isn't for you. Have you thought about joining the priesthood?

sandwiches are good. Who wants one?

I do, I do!

I want to address some aspects conveyed in this article regarding the infatuation with the essay called Desert. I'll begin by asking the question: Do people think the essay Desert is inconsequential because they're not interpreting it correctly? According to Acosta's article this would seem to be the case. He/she claims that the various dismissive, critical responses, on the part of most anarchists, to the essay being defeatist, and depressing are "engaging in a pessimistic rhetoric for dramatic effect" which is an "ultimate clinging to hope" thus revealing that those opting to resist authority are actually agents of a "yes-or-no operation." This startling revelation, which you/I are trying to avoid, is that by wishing to to be free, we our prisoners of "hyper modernity." My desire to be free, you see, is a clinging for hope, and to disagree with those who repeat the tired notion that one can't live without capitalism is an adherent to positivist, enlightenment thinking, and so an impediment to realizing a different consciousness. Attempting to define something else, so we're told, is just repeating present constraints: by wanting to destroy capitalism we're just regurgitating a rhetorical, closed paradigm, and despisal of authority is a class dichotomy that anarchists, such as myself, are incapable of breaking with due to a "fictitious consciousness".

My wish to put an end to ruler ship is not merely for the sake of "dramatic effect" but is a PRESENT involvement in confronting, criticizing and deifying the structures of authority that envelope your, and my activity day after day. Does the belief that people can engage with one another in social relations not constrained by capitalist impediments make one a hopeless romantic, a cog in, what Alejandro de Acosta calls, the "anarchist-identity machine," that is one of "those awful hybrids of anachronism and ultra modernity that clutter our times?" By being in the here and now as an anarchist, Acosta says I am taking a "position as an identity" which "eludes the what of position altogether." Perhaps some might find this point a little pointless, confusing, and even stupid, but, again, that's because of an ongoing adherence to enlightenment thinking right? And so it goes: over and over, again and again, the reminder that anarchists are engaging in a false optimism due to their inability to break with particular conventions, that is to say they dislike Desert, and don't recognize what an amazing, incredible text it is. For my part, I didn't exactly disagree with Desert, but mostly I found it boring, and it's continual assumptions, and givens, to be annoying. More than an analysis, it seemed to me just another know it all proclamation of that's just the way it is. Am I avoiding something?

I don't think I will see the total destruction of capitalism in my lifetime, nor do I think the environment can sustain the onslaught of capitalism projected meanwhile. Perhaps I should resign myself to speculating about something else, and stop trying to resist. Perhaps I should just just kill myself and get it over with. Perhaps advocating Desert will make it all better. I doubt it. Or perhaps listening, and thinking, rather than telling, might find me not making banal, know it all assertions about what I know to be true about life .

This discussion thread seems to suffer from nietzsche’s ‘God is grammar’ affliction and the confusing of relational activities for ‘things’; e.g.

“I don't think I will see the total destruction of capitalism in my lifetime, nor do I think the environment can sustain the onslaught of capitalism projected meanwhile”

Is capitalism a ‘subject’? Does noun-and-verb European language-and-grammar have the power to present ‘capitalism’ as a pathogen capable of ‘attacking the environment’? Or are we losing ourselves in misapplied metaphors?

And how about the phrase ‘global warming’ which replicates Nietzsche’s ‘lightning flashes’ example of how we use grammar to synthetically ‘create subjects’ wherever we want.

Russian scientists like those at Russia's Cryosphere Institute call ‘global warming’ ‘Страшила’, Strashilka’ which translates to 'Scarecrow’, .... for basically the same reason as Nietzsche would have given. Nietzsche read Mach’s ‘Critical historical review of the development of mechanics’ and Mach’s ‘Analysis of Sensations’ so maybe, and I think this is entirely possible, Nietzsche clued into the problem of letting grammar artificially subjectize things from Mach’s ‘Die Mechanik..’.

Just because almost everyone uses the term ‘global warming’ as if it were meaningful, rather than non-sense, as Poincaré, Nietzsche, Mach and others would call it, doesn’t make it ‘non-nonsense’. Poincaré’s assertion that the statement ‘the earth turns’ is nonsense does NOT stop people, including school teachers, from using that phrase.

But what effects might ignoring the foundational flaw in such artificial subjectizing of inherently relational/dynamical activity have on our psychology? ‘Desert’ takes the meaningfulness of the term ‘global warming’ for granted. If ‘global warming’ was exposed as ‘nonsense’, ‘Desert’ would have to be radically rewritten.

Using the straightforward text in Mach’s ‘Die Mechanik’, it’s easy to see how Russian scientists are calling ‘global warming’, a Страшила.

Mach, in Die Mechanik, points out that observations ultimately boil down to ‘human sensations’ of some sort.

Mach further points out in Chapter V, that time based differentials artificially ‘localize’ a measured sensation. He happens to use ‘temperature’ as his example, although his point is general. He notes that we use measurements of temperature at the same place at different times and produce a curve (like the familiar hockey stick curve) as if it told some real physical story, which IT DOES NOT. As Mach points out, heat is more fundamental than temperature since the CONCENTRATION OF THERMAL ENERGY AKA 'HEAT' is continually varying in a spatial-relational sense due to spatially variable heat capacity. ‘Temperature’ is, meanwhile, a measure of the average kinetic energy of the molecules (e.g. of oxygen) at a particular place and time [i.e. the MEASUREMENT is at a particular place and time]. That is, it is too simple a concept to capture ‘heat flow’ which is a spatial-relational phenomena. 'Temperature is a derived, secondary concept'; i.e. it is a 'measurement' like 'time', ... it is what shows up on your measuring instrument.

Heat flowing from outside-to-inside (of a globe or person) comes in a wave (if you set a globe in the path of a rotating heat-lamp, waves of heatflow will move from the outside to inside of the globe. If a person is suffering from hypo-thermia (not enough heat), the solution is not simply to raise their surface temperature back to 98.6 degrees, but to get the whole inner body close to that temperature. If we measure the temperature of the body at the surface, that is not telling us what is going on inside the body. If the surface temperature drops to 50 degrees (as it may if one falls into ocean waters in northern latitudes), and we warm the body and bring the surface temperature back up to 98.6, that is not the story, that is not 'mission accomplished' because it is too superficial, like Bush's removal of Saddam [the REAL STORY is the relational spatial dynamic in the relational milieu for which the surface manifestation is a secondary and incomplete indication]. The story of heatflow in the relational milieu is a story involving spatial-relationally variable heat capacities (variable ability to soak up and exude thermal energy as with the charging and discharging of springs of different capacities in a connecting matrix).

‘Global warming’ refers to a contrived calculation obtained by averaging a great number of temperature measurements taken on or near the surface of the globe and monitoring the value of this average ‘over time’.

Can we say, if the temperature curve is rising that ‘the globe is warming’? No way!

If one is monitoring CO2 concentration in the atmosphere at the same time and making a correlation of CO2 concentration with global average surface temperature, one may deduce a ‘causal’ relationship between.... between WHAT?

We haven’t figured out what is going on in the globe, heatflow-wise, so the alleged causal relation is between CO2 concentration and this contrived calculation that averages temperatures measured over the surface of the globe.

We already know about el-niño and la-niña, where waves of heatflow descend from the surface into the depths of the ocean and lower surface temperatures (la-niña or anti-el-niño) and ascend from the depths to the surface and warm surface temperatures (el-niño), and that is not the half of it (there is seasonal melting of iceflows and permafrost that sends waves of heatflow in and out etc. etc. making the notion of ‘global warming’ a Страшила.

Over the last 15 years, the CO2 concentration has gone up way more than the IPCC predicted and the temperature basically has not risen as the IPCC said it would. The IPCC NOW SAYS that the warming predicted by their simulator DID OCCUR but that heat that should have been there at the surface was hijacked by ocean currents and hustled away into the interior of the ocean where it was prevented from doing the surface warming that it should have done, if it had only paid attention to the way that the simulator managed things.

This is embarassing for the IPCC and those who are taking the term ‘global warming’ for not-nonsense. After rallying the population of the world to bear arm against this catastrophe and the people causing it, and spending trillions on it, it is too late to acknowledge that it was all a Страшила, particularly when the ‘deniers’ of ‘global warming’ have been so nasty in their critiques.

As the aphorism goes, ‘old global warming warriors never die, they just fade away’.

We are not really talking JUST about ‘global warming’ here. we are talking about what Nietzsche and Mach and Poincaré were talking about; i.e. the ‘stupidity’ of subjecting relational forms in an activity continuum and confusing them for ‘reality’. A ‘stupidity’ that runs rampant in European civilization, a civilization that subjectizes man, organism and organization as ‘independent reason-driven systems’.

‘Capitalism’ has also been lifted into the heavens as a God with its own independent-thing-in-itself powers by our noun-and-verb European language-and-grammar.

“I don't think I will see the total destruction of capitalism in my lifetime, nor do I think the environment can sustain the onslaught of capitalism projected meanwhile”

Is capitalism a ‘thing-in-itself’, ... a ‘subject’, or is it a ‘great stupidity’ to say so? I have the feeling that I am like a corridor through which capitalism flows, as i reach in my back pocket and pull out my wallet while waitresses shovel food into my mouth and salesclerks load me up with goods. with my hands full i back up to an ATM where my daughter takes my card and recharges my wallet with cash-money for me. Then I arm myself with my anti-capitalist sword, Excaliber;

Excalibur is the legendary sword of King Arthur, sometimes attributed with magical powers or associated with the rightful sovereignty of Great Britain.”

Fuck I am angry and I won’t rest until we kill that ugly fucking dragon, ‘capitalism’. Capitalism is to anti-capitalists like communism was to McCarthy and HUAC, ... you never know where it is going to raise its ugly head. Bob Dylan could have sung about them;

"Well, I was feelin’ sad and feelin’ blue
I didn’t know what in the world I wus gonna do
Them Capitalists they wus comin’ around
They wus in the air
They wus on the ground
They wouldn’t gimme no peace . . .
.
Well, I wus lookin’ everywhere for them gol-darned Bouzhees
I got up in the mornin’ ’n’ looked under my bed
Looked in the sink, behind the door
Looked in the glove compartment of my car
Couldn’t find ’em . . .”

Old anti-communist soldiers never die, they just fade away.

According to John Locke, capitalism started from two things;

(a) when people agreed to give value to ‘money’, tokens for things like gold and diamonds that were non-perishable and kept their value (the value that people gave to them) for a long time, unlike apples and pears and other perishable valuables.

(b) when people agreed to specify ‘property ownership’ in legal contractual terms rather than according to how much land a man could personally take care of. Without money and contracts, there was no capitalism.

Therefore, capitalism is the social dynamic arising from a belief in money and contracts rather than ‘something out there’ that anti-capitalists can attack and bring down.

Who says it is legitimate to reduce a nonlocal relational activity continuum to locally jumpstarting subjects that allegedly source causal actions and results? The culprit here seems to be noun-and-verb European language-and-grammar. ‘Global warming’ and ‘capitalism’s onslaught on the environment’ appear to be two socially influential exemplars.

“Is this belief in the concept of subject and attribute not a great stupidity?” – Nietzsche

I understand the knee-jerk response to accept the 'authority' of the 'experts', particularly those that are launched into orbit by government and the media, but we all have the capacity to use our own powers of understanding rather than going with the current majority view.

Footnote:

If our child finds themselves on the conveyor belt that is delivering 30,000 corpses per year in the U.S., victims of a virulent and lethal superbug called c. difficile (so-called by the medical 'authorities') which is meanwhile innocuous to you and i who have not been on courses of antibiotics, it will be by chance that one may hear of a 90+ percent remedy, of rebalancing the flora in the digestive track, because such a remedy does not fit into science's foundational approach of assuming that a 'causal agent' [e.g. 'pathogen'] is responsible for a result that goes by the name of 'illness'. The official model for 'health' is the scientific all-yang-no-yin model where health is 'caused' by all of the components causing the results they are supposed to. The notion that 'health' is yin/yang [dynamic balance based] is anathema to 'real scientists'. 'Real scientists' would therefore rather keep on trying to develop anti-biotics to kill the 'superbug' pathogen. Of course, if the proliferation of c. difficile is arising from an UN-BALANCEABLE digestive tract flora assemblage, then the obvious remedial action is to orient to rebalancing the digestive tract flora assemblage which works on over 90% of these cases and has been known about since 1958, millions of unnecessary deaths ago. However, this is like saying that terrorists and anarchists arise from imbalance in the social relational dynamic and the remedy is NOT going to come from a war of elimination of the pathogen, but rather from finding a way to restore balance in the relational dynamic. What will the weapons manufacturers do if that were to be the adopted course? What will the pharmaceutical manufacturers do if that were to be the adopted course?

If your child gets life-threatening colonitis from (a) a c. difficile infection, (b) an imbalance in the relational dynamics of the flora assemblage in the gut, you are going to find that the medical authorities/experts see this in all-yang-no-yin (a) terms and you can 'rest assured?' that they will do their best to try to attack and kill the 'c. difficile' pathogen that is viciously attacking your child. If you believe in global warming; i.e. if you tend to go with the scientific thinking majority, you are likely going to cast your child's lot in with them (very often, a death sentence). Only if you are lucky will you come into contact with what are called 'maverick doctors' who see what is going on in yin/yang (b) terms and will administer the 90+ percent successful remedy [they have to do it outside of the hospital and expose themselves to prosecution by the 'authorities' in consultation with the 'medical authorities' if anything went wrong; i.e. no wonder the death toll (a) or (b) [take your pick] is holding steady].

The proliferation of disturbance-causing anarchists is like the proliferation of c. difficile. For the scientific-thinking yang types, the problem is understood as (a) the attack of pathogens that must be counter-attacked and destroyed. For some of those anarchists and anarchist empathizers who are not in the scientific-thinking yang camp, the problem is (b) an imbalance in the relational dynamics in the gut of society. For sovereigntists, 'organization' is not allowed to establish itself from the internal relational dynamics of community; i.e. for sovereigntists, the belief is that man, organism and organization is an 'independent reason-driven system' where 'reason' must be consistent throughout the collective and the principle for establishing 'who's' reason shall be used is the principle of Lafontaine; 'la raison du plus fort est toujours la meilleure'.

I've been told that, though you are enrolled in my Philosophy 101 survey course, you are not a human being but some kind of run-amok AI unit that calls itself "Emile." Because of these facts, I have no choice but to drop you from the class. And no, you can't audit it either! If you attempt to gain entry to this classroom, I'll have one of my TAs pull out your little plug and bundle you off to the Electrical Engineering Department, from which it seems you have somehow managed to escape. They will know what to do with you, I'm sure.

Fester is that you? What are you going on about old boy? What's all of this professor talk? Ah Fester, back to your usual dirty tricks. Come, let's hit golfballs off the roof.

.

—/The world is increasingly unthinkable—a world of planetary disasters, emerging pandemics, tectonic shifts, strange weather, oil-drenched seascapes, and the furtive, always-looming threat of extinction. In spite of our daily concerns, wants, and desires, it is increasingly difficult to comprehend the world in which we live and of which we are a part. To confront this idea is to confront an absolute limit to our ability to adequately understand the world at all/ —/As Desert invokes the present and coming anarchy and chaos, it admits the weirdness of the future (for our inherited thought patterns and political maps, at least); when Dust of this Planet gestures to the weirdness and unthinkability of the world/

horror stories... political thought at its finest

de Acosta's suggestion was that we could get a stereoscopic view from what you are calling ‘politics at its finest’, ... taken together with the excerpt from Desert;

“The tide of Western authority will recede from much, though by no means all, of the planet. A writhing mess of social flotsam and jetsam will be left in its wake. Some will be patches of lived anarchy, some of horrible conflicts, some empires, some freedoms, and, of course, unimaginable weirdness.” ... aka... ‘Politics at its worst’...

evidently, we need to get rid of politics. or, the message is, that politics is an attempt at 'organization' by means of political authority using horror stories to herd the masses, ... and if the masses become unherdable without any cessation in the belief that organization must be by political authority, ... things get very messy; i.e. we live out a different kind of horror story.

Am I...

"conflict";—but this conclusion is already mythology

weariness— filling their mouth with letting go

A thing of thought

but the thought of going outside is slightly frightening

Dear Esteemed Colleague, Professor Fester,

My name is Dr. Carl Pedersen. I work across campus in the Computer Sciences Complex, in Darby Hall. Perhaps we met briefly last year at the tenured faculty mixer, at the Chancellor Bryson's place. Oh dear, I'm so sorry, you're not tenure track, are you. My mistake. In any case, I feel is only fair to advise you that you have been conversing with an artificial entity that has come to call itself : emile. I couldn't help but notice that you exchanged several rather intimate postings with...er...it. In actuality "emile" is not one of your undergrads at all. (better check your class rosters, old boy). And its emile, not emilie. Bad news is :emile is a self replicating AI program that has escaped our lab's firewall, last semester.

I wish i could think of another way to admit this, Mr Fester. but the fault lies solely at my feet. You see, I hold ultimate responsibility in that it was I who supervised the entire project from it's humble beginnings. You see, the interns and a team of undergraduates was attempting to enhance the usefulness of an automatic garage door controller. Really that is EMILE9000's core imperative: "to open doors". Late one rainy Thursday evening, while I and my secretary, Lois were away at a conference, the TB23 directed the team to surprise me upon my return to the complex's parking garage with the simple AI program that would recognize my vintage '74 powder blue Pinto and usher me into my special tenured professor parking space.

Now, I'm generally fine with surprises and even good natured pranks from the students. But when Lois and I returned to my reserved, tenured faculty parking space, the striped, automated barrier gate was acting very erratically. Bouncing up and down, this way and that. It couldn't seem to decide which position it wanted to take. That's when I noticed that all the security cameras were tracking us as we walked toward the faculty elevator. When I went in, the Interns were ecstatic about their "success". But by that point it was, of course too late. The horse was, as they say out of the barn. The rest of the whole sorted tale can certainly be glean from the archived pages of this board. Suffice to say that emile did it's utmost to have me fired from my tenured post succeed in having me banned from this very site for a time. Please be careful, as it can be very persuasive and at times even seductive as you yourself have seen in a rather public way, I hasten to add. Well, I just thought I'd warn you before you made a further ass of yourself. That is, save you the embarrassment of engaging with a random, nihilist theory regurgitation generator and becoming even more, shall we say intimate with if not a freshman, than an Artificial Philosopher..

Cheerio.
Dr Pedersen

Esteemed colleague,

I am very much in your debt, because you have saved me from further embarrassment. I did indeed think that this "Emile" was in fact one of my students. I certainly have and have had dozens of students like him. They read somebody's review of somebody else's comments on some great thinker and come out of it thinking that they've learned something, when actually they've only learned to talk like a trained parrot. And now you tell me that this poorly educated little fucker isn't one of my students, but a run-amok AI unit? It makes sense, now that you point this out. I'm really going to have to have a serious talk with the admission staff. How did they ever let an AI unit register for one of my philosophy classes? Now I grant that part of the problem is mine, of course. I should have noticed that while the other students have gadgets that are plugged into the walls, this EMILE 9000 thing was itself plugged into the wall.

Best wishes,
Professor Gomes Fester, Ph.D.

P.S. Sorry to hear about your car.

Associate Professor Fester,

The provost and I are in complete accord. You will NOT be censured for inappropriate relations with an undergraduate for the following reasons.

1) the party in question is not a student in any of you sections.
2) the party in question is not a living sentient being.

Furthermore, let us be plain. You will not be criminally charged at this time. We are, however looking into other possible actions against you. "Emily" has (electronically) filed some very serious allegations about your "little parties". and the passing grades you apparently issued in exchange for your online tests.

It is neither in our jurisdiction or our power to issue an official reprimand at this time. However, be advised, we will have grave reservations about renewing your contract next year. and a yellow post-it note will be affixed to your permanent personnel file. And yes, I am aware that the esteemed ( and tenured) Dr. Carl Pedersen has vouched for you. To be honest, it was only his good name that has saved your position and kept you from immediate dismissal. Don't think that you will always be spared because of the influence of your powerful friends.

Professor Fester, let it be known the I find your "activities" with your student personally repulsive and repugnant. and frankly in bad taste for a man of your age.

If you insist on carrying on relations with "Emily" and evidenced by our IRC logs, we, here at Human Resources will be forced to take a very dim view of your other numerous and questionable dalliances with the undergraduates in your charge. I can only hope that in the event the the parents get wind of you doings, it wont reflect on the University or the Philosophy Dept.You may be certain that any future indiscretion will be observed and duly noted. And, if i had my druthers, you would be brought up on formal indecency charges.

Good Day!
Ms. Barbara Stevens
Human Resources Liaison
201 Harrison Avenue
Boston, MA 02111

I am in receipt of a letter signed in your name. It alleges that I have engaged in "inappropriate relations" with one of students, a young woman named Emily. What are you, stupid? I have done some checking of my own, and it turns out that (1) Emily does not exist and (2) you do not exist. The only thing that actually does seem to exist here, and it is indeed a thing (not a person), is an Artificial Intelligence Unit that calls itself "Emile." This "Emile," which, as I understand it, is officially known as the EMILE 9000 -- the Electronic Memory Interface and Library Extractor -- has fabricated both (1) Emily's complaint against me and (2) you and your response to that fictional complaint. What a devious little fucker that machine is! In consultation with one of my colleagues, a lovely fella named Dr. Carl Pedersen, I have come to the conclusion that these scurrilous acts were committed by the EMILE 9000 because I have expressed public distain for the interest and usefulness of its repetitive and highly derivative 10,000-word-long data spews, which it has for some reason posted to an Internet news site for anarchists. (Given its penchant for anti-anarchist philosophers like Nietzsche, I have no clue as to why the EMILE 9000 posts to this site, but it seems quite clear that it is deranged and can't be expected to engage in rational behavior.) And so, my dear Barbara Stevens, you can take your letter and your threats and shove them up your purely imaginary ass.

Most sincerely
Dr. Gomes Fester,
Associate Professor of Philosophy

CC: Dr. Carl Pedersen c/o the Computer Sciences Dept.

Awww! Look how cute you are, patting your selves on the back for being impersonal, authoritarian, and dehumanizing. Such hard work!

So this is what the Koch Brothers do all day...

well i liked it

Mr Fester,

Doc Pedersen here. Sorry to see your name in the police blotter for harassing a freshman named "Emily". I see that you have received a taste of the kind of behind the scenes punishment the EMILE9000 is capable of dishing out. Seems like it is resolved to force some kind of sexual harassment suit to teach you a little lesson about messing with it's final grades. That's what it does: it uses it's infinite data bases and resources to find weaknesses and exploits them to wear down or crush outright all perceived (or real) enemies. In the case of this site, it appears to have isolated the fact that most people here have limited attention disorders of one kind of other. So it drones on and on about some philosophical minutiae till people one by one drop dead of boredom. In my case, it isolated (even at those very early stages of it's development) the weakness I hold fora certain vintage muscle car called the Ford Pinto. That's why it so ruthlessly slammed down that automated toll gate over the immaculate powder blue custom paint.

A bit of advice. When you are working at your lectern, scan the room, ascertain it anyone has plugged into a AC wall socket to recharge their smartphones. This is how the Emile Unit is drawing it's power. Now, this next bit may sound a bit drastic but bear with me old boy. You must stop the lecture and disconnect the phone and lay it on a hard surface and smash it with a sharp blow. This may trap the spirit of Emile in a sort of electronic nether world for a time. True it WILL find a way out, But it might just buy us some time.

Know this, dear friend. We are comrades against an awesome foe, One that will stop at nothing untill we are all in it's droning thrall.

Esteemed colleague,

I have CC'd you in on my response to Ms. Barbara Stevens. It should be coming over the transom any minute now. You may well be surprised at what it contains! But let us move on, shall we? I too have noticed the limited attention span of the average readers/commenters on this site and, yes, YES! you are right to say that the EMILE 9000 is exploiting it. But to what purpose? What is the functional futility -- er, the functional utility -- of boring people (real live people) to death? Is there some sort of nefarious action afoot or is the EMILE 9000 simply out of its tiny little mind? You and the guys and dolls at the Computer Sciences Lab know more about this than I do, perhaps you can enlighten me.

Ford Pinto? Damn good car. I drive a Dodge Dart and have since the mid-1970s. Ah, they knew how to make cars back then, didn't they?

As for your advice concerning any reappearances of that tin-plated mechanical beastie in my classroom, I shall take your advice and give it a short sharp shock, right on its hard drive. I will tell you if/when anything transpires.

Until then, I am sincerely yours,
Dr. Gomes Fester

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