THEORY

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Re: THEORY

Postby 106-2 » Fri Jan 04, 2019 7:55 am

you're definitely not alone in not getting it, just found this as top review on its goodreads page:

Maeby: No, deep is good. People are going to say, “What the hell just happened? I better say I like it.” ’Cause nobody wants to seem stupid.
Rita: I like it!


Somewhere, in some beautiful alternate universe, some years ago the young Iranian student Reza Negarestani was denied entry to the graduate school of the University of Warwick and, crushed, never received any academic training in the field of philosophy. After wallowing in disappointment for a few years, he channeled his despondency into Cyclonopedia, a beautiful and despairing horror novel that densely wove together critical theory and the story of an American artist stranded in Istanbul to re-imagine the geopolitics of oil in the Middle East as an occult attack by ancient Lovecraftian horrors out to turn the entire Earth into a desert.

In our humdrum reality, though, Negarestani did go to grad school and did become impressed with how many ridiculous theoretical neologisms he could create and so just tricked someone into publishing his notes for said novel. That or he wrote an essay/article that was not accepted anywhere so he plopped it into a "frame story" (ie 5 pages and a few footnotes) and published it as a novel. I don't know. This would be a good joke if Negarestani (and apparently everyone else on goodreads?) didn't take it so seriously.

I mean, here are his philosophical interests:

"Subsurface Political Geography; Surface Globalization; Underground Facilities and Chthonic Militarization; Archeology as the Science of Military Education in 21st Century; Tora Bora and the Cappadocian Complex; Worm Factor; Middle Eastern Necropolises and Underground Nuclear Facilities; Petropolitics, Guerilla-states and Architecture of Holes; Videogame Rhetoric and Memory as the Models of Alien Incursion; Poromechanics of War."

This is what informs his fiction, which would be fine, except that I lied and there's no fiction being informed by anything here - that list, with some conjunctions and prepositions tossed in, is pretty much what this book is. Seriously, this is the most unreadably pretentious nonsense I have ever encountered and man, I can usually get into some embarrassingly pretentious nonsense. Not to mention the fact that it's also flatly and awkwardly written. There is no art to any of it.

Spoiler:
LOOK AT THIS:

In both Drujite and Lovecraftian polytics of radical exteriority, omega-survival or strategic endurance is maintained by an excessive paranoia that cannot be distinguished from a schizophrenic delirium. For such a paranoia - saturated by parasitic survivalism and persistence in its own integrity - the course of activity coincides with that of schizo-singularities. Paranoia, in the Cthulhu Mythos and in Drujite-infested Zoroastriansim, manifests itself as a sophisticated hygiene-Complex associated with the demented Aryanistic obsession with purity and the structure of monotheism. This arch-sabotaged paranoia, in which the destination of purity overlaps with the emerging zone of the outside, is called schizotrategy. If, both for Lovecraft and the Aryans, purity must be safeguarded by an excessive paranoia, it is because only such paranoia and rigorous closure can attract the forces of the Outside and effectuate cosmic akienage in the form of radical openness - that is, being butchered and cracked open. Drujite cults fully developed this schizotrategic line through the fusion of Aryanistic purity with Zoroastrian monotheism. The Zoroastrian heresiarchs such as Akht soon discovered the immense potential of schyzotrategy for xeno-calls, subversion and sabotage. As a sorcerous line, schizotrategy opens the entire monotheistic culture to cosmodromic openness and its epidemic meshworks. As the nervous system of Lovecraftian strategic paranoia, openness is identified as 'being laid, cracked, butchered open' through a schizotrategic participation with the Outside. In terms of the xeno-call and schizitrategy, the non-localizable outside emerges as the xeno-chemical inside or the Insider.
... 'If openness, as the scimitar blade of the outside, seeks out manifestations of closure, then in the middle-eastern ethic it is imperative to assuage the external desire of the Outside by becoming what it hungers for the most' (H. Parsani)."

Schizotrategy. This is a book that uses the word "schizotrategy" seriously. This would work as a brief essay satirizing the absurdity of the field, but as a serious book-length meditation...

This is meta-fiction with the fiction removed, an exegesis without an actual foundational work... it's like if, instead of publishing stories, Lovecraft just threw caution to the wind and wrote "I was walking in the forest one day. I found a book. It was the Necronomicon." and then proceeded to give the reader 200 pages of intentionally opaque character-less occultist nonsense cribbed from Hermes Trismegistus (that actually sounds more enjoyable to read than this was).

It's like if Dictionary of the Khazars was just an actual dictionary.

It's like if House of Leaves was an actual architectural treatise (or, even better, just a blueprint rolled up inside a book cover).

It's like if... well it is ACTUALLY like White Noise because there is no subtlety or symbolism or allegory or (again) art to its reflection on theory - we're just supposed to be impressed that the subjects in question were brought up in the first place. The difference is that White Noise is a better read because there's an actual novel in there, and that's saying something because I hated White Noise and thought that the novel in there was crap.

I'm still grasping at straws about how to categorize this, which I suppose is the point, but if so then it was a point that no one needed to tackle. Theory fiction? Fictional theory? I am leaning now towards "fiction in theory" because

1) this book's whole M.O. is embedding fiction in a dense web of critical theory (or vice versa? fuck it, man, I don't know)
2) in theory this is a book-length work of fiction, a "novel" if you will, but in practice it's just... philosophy that no actual philosophers would take seriously so it was repackaged as a work of fiction.


I almost respect the fact that this book does kind of reflect Negarestani's approach to philosophy. I think it's trivial nonsense, but the man has clearly devoted himself to it and most people are buying it hook, line, and sinker. It's kind of impossible to know where the fiction ends and reality begins with this work: Kristen, the American artist of the introduction whose discovery of the metafictive Cyclonopedia sets the "plot" in motion, is a real person who actually wrote the introduction for Negarestani. Hamid Parsani, the Iranian academic author of the metafiction within the novel, is fictional, but there really is a "Hyperstition Laboratory" at the University of Warwick that Negarestani was a part of. Did the online discussions about the false author attributed to academics "X" and "Z" of said laboratory actually take place? Who knows.



I get that this is supposed to a "fun" introduction to "speculative realism" or whatever dumb philosophical school he is trying to reclaim Deleuze and Guattari for or an exploration of the usefulness of his mode of critical theory even when further divorced from reality but I don't have the patience for this kind of philosophy (especially anything that isn't strictly materialistic and ESPECIALLY this kind of ultra-insular neologism-mad self-satisfied baloney) and as a novel (or any kind of fiction) this fails spectacularly.


lol
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Re: THEORY

Postby eli7 » Fri Jan 04, 2019 10:21 am

This isn't a very thought out post but there's a special place in my heart for Reza Negarestani. He's a total kook and I don't think I learn much from reading his work, other than some very dry humor at times. I was into speculative realism a couple of years ago after reading some pataphysics (the science/philosophy of imaginary solutions), and I think there's a nice parallel there between the two groups. There's never an ah-ha moment reading this stuff for me, I just kind of enjoy how he manipulates language. It certainly doesn't clarify or enhance D and G for me.

I've seen Reza talk a couple of times with Robin Mackay, most recently at some gallery in Soho. The room was almost entirely young white fashion boys, which was new to me because in the past, his talks most drew old and nerdy speculative realists. But yea, it was like a fashion party which made a lot of sense to me because it's more aesthetic than intellectual or interesting.

I also sometimes get spooked by SR cross-over with dark enlightenment and Nick Land crew but that's old news and maybe not worth getting into.
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Re: THEORY

Postby WussWayne » Fri Jan 04, 2019 2:16 pm

speculative realism is me realizing I may have fooled someone in my social circle into majorly dating me in 2019 :sweg:
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Re: THEORY

Postby kickingthefly » Sat Jan 05, 2019 7:12 am

never heard of this book and i can see why you'd dislike it so much having seemingly plowed through it (like me throwing richard powers across the room)- the passage you quote is particularly godawful. but tbf a quick google throws up some quite interesting passages, like little generative aesthetic machines- so i broadly agree with eli, perhaps one can just accept, even admire them on those terms
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Re: THEORY

Postby INNIT » Sun Jan 06, 2019 5:50 am

actually has me thinking about "theory-fiction" as a genre

couldn't you pretty easily argue that much of "a thousand plateaus" reads more like fiction than theory, with its heavy use of metaphor/allegory? half of d+gs neologisms work better as creative metaphors than stable "concepts" anyways (rhizome, nomadism, contagion, pack, etc.). except 1k plateaus doesn't seem to care about being "theory-fiction" and seems to just not care about the genres of theory and fiction at all and just does whatever. maybe thats why it's a better work of both theory and fiction and doesnt come across so cringe/heavy-handed (like cyclonopedia does in the passage quoted above)
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Re: THEORY

Postby 106-2 » Mon Mar 25, 2019 1:41 pm

I've been wondering for a while about Adorno's 'no art after Auschwitz' thing(?), and Arendt and Agamben's insistence that no man-made situation will ever compare to the conditions of the death camps in the Holocaust - does this come from an ignorance of the transatlantic slave trade or? This is in no way to trivialise the horror of either situation but it seems really strange to me that its become accepted that multiple prominent figures seem to have completely ignored an undeniably major event in world history. Obviously there's no value whatsoever in 'ranking' them, but surely an acknowledgement that such inhumane treatment of entire populations isn't a completely isolated instance is important?

I'm admittedly under-read on this idea, partly because of how much it's bothered me, so I could be missing out on something really obvious that explains/rationalises these exclusions, but could anyone explain further/point to any good responses?
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Re: THEORY

Postby 106-2 » Tue Mar 26, 2019 8:30 am

continental philosophy is eurocentric. agamben and frankfurt school ppl are extremely eurocentric


The eurocentrism isn't exactly surprising, but to that extent? If that's what it comes down to then I'm surprised I've not come across more explicit critiques of the framing of their ideas

(thanks for confirming my suspicions though)
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Re: THEORY

Postby jylt » Tue Mar 26, 2019 11:46 am

anyone here that reads denise ferreira da silva or sylvia wynter?? i love them both
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Re: THEORY

Postby INNIT » Tue Apr 02, 2019 2:55 pm

how do we all feel about zizek v. lobsterman royal rumble 2019??
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Re: THEORY

Postby 106-2 » Tue May 07, 2019 6:11 am

Anyone read much into/about the whole notion of 'blacceleration' or black accelerationism? Given how much of a lost cause p much all other accelerationisms have been - either through not really having any feasible praxis, or that praxis being pretty explicitly fascistic - I've found it p interesting to see how the sentiment can be re-routed to be viewed as already being an aspect of the experience of blackness, particularly the US.

Forget where the quote's from (swear its Sun Ra, or at least he's definitely said something similar), but I think there's something to be said for uncovering a 'posthumanism' in a population that already "owes nothing to the idea of the human", bc if that condition's being enforced from without the same issues of pushing us all to the limits of 'the human' are sort of side-stepped as its been outside of your control.

Would be really interested to hear anyone else's take, and definitely not because I'm writing a paper on it that's due next Monday
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Re: THEORY

Postby Sam » Tue May 07, 2019 12:52 pm

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Re: THEORY

Postby 106-2 » Tue May 07, 2019 1:52 pm

Image

hahahahahaha
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Re: THEORY

Postby kickingthefly » Wed May 15, 2019 8:14 am

trying to read more denise da silva, working with otobong and i liked this text she wrote:

https://www.e-flux.com/journal/79/94686 ... -of-value/

so what should i read next? 'toward a global idea"?
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Re: THEORY

Postby jylt » Wed May 29, 2019 5:52 pm

kickingthefly wrote:trying to read more denise da silva, working with otobong and i liked this text she wrote:

https://www.e-flux.com/journal/79/94686 ... -of-value/

so what should i read next? 'toward a global idea"?


yo, feel free to DM me about silva!! i'm still engaging her work and am always excited to talk about it.

here is a good interview that is very helpful for me, which she did this year. she gives an overview of some of the arguments she makes in her book: https://www.textezurkunst.de/articles/i ... -da-silva/

this article also gives a kind of glossary of what she discusses in her book as well (let me know if you need access to the PDF): https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10. ... 0120087253
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Re: THEORY

Postby 106-2 » Thu May 30, 2019 5:49 am

On the topic of Da Silva, does anyone have a link to her collaboration films with Arjuna Neuman, 'four waters' and 'serpent rain'? Been struggling to find a way to watch them (even legally!!) since they were screened at my uni last year (followed by a discussion by Da Silva and Neuman!!), and would love to get another chance to watch.
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Re: THEORY

Postby 106-2 » Mon Aug 12, 2019 6:48 am

@jylt: I've actually not read a huge amount of her work so its difficult to compare but I found them really, really compelling in how they drew attention to their temporality (extremely long takes, very slow 'pacing' - if you could call it that) as a means of (in Da Silva's words) making a film 'without time'. It's difficult, having only seen it once, 6 months ago, to really tell how successful they were but it's an interesting experiment at least - definitely link me if you're able to find it!
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Re: THEORY

Postby INNIT » Mon Sep 30, 2019 2:58 pm

i keep doing this thing where instead of reading things that are actually relevant to what i'm doing i instead read cryptic poststructuralist monographs and spend weeks trying to decipher them.

on that note, i just finished kittler's "discourse networks 1800/1900". what a fucking weirdo; has anyone read this? always kind of hated media theory because it seems hell bent on destroying literature studies (it probably will succeed at this) but i find kittler's book a pretty good compromise between the two
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Re: THEORY

Postby INNIT » Mon Dec 02, 2019 2:09 pm

jylt wrote:anyone here that reads denise ferreira da silva or sylvia wynter?? i love them both


reading a bit of da silva and cant help but feel her citational politics are strange? especially the way she talks about the body... you can't tell me there's not an implicit deleuzianism in there but scanning her works, she never cites post structuralists... might be an intentional sara ahmed-type move

friend pointed me to a talk where she says "every human and more than human expresses a body without limits"

replace "limits" with "organs" and....
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