Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Anti-Cosmosis: Black Mahapralaya (text)



CATENA

God or the good or the place does not take place, but is the taking-place [aver-luogo] of the entities, their innermost exteriority.—Giorgio Agamben[1]

I don’t want to be where I am, or anywhere for that matter.—Malefic of Xasthur[2]

The very questions “Whence?” and “Whither?” presuppose the beginning and end of this evolving creation. The beginning of evolution is the beginning of time and the end of evolution is the end of time. Evolution has both beginning and end because time has both beginning and end. Between the beginning and the end of this changing world there are many cycles, but there is, in and through these cycles, a continuity of cosmic evolution. The real termination of the evolutionary process is called Mahapralaya or the final annihilation of the world, when the world becomes what it was in the beginning, namely nothing. . . . Just as the varied world of experience completely disappears for the man who is in deep sleep, the entire objective cosmos which is the creation of Maya vanishes into nothingness at the time of Mahapralaya. It is as if the universe had never existed at all. Even during the evolutionary period the universe is in itself nothing but imagination. There is in fact only one indivisible and eternal Reality and it has neither beginning nor end. It is beyond time. From the point of view of this timeless Reality the whole time-process is purely imaginary, and billions of years which have passed and billions of years which are to pass do not have even the value of a second. It is as if they had not existed at all.—Meher Baba[3]

There is gangrene in the tubes / Of the vermicular ethics of how / Your world view presents itself / Contradictions in terms of how / Your life evolves in the chain of being / I claim you were never a part of reality—Mayhem[4]

One bright Sunday, as he was sitting withdrawn and deep in thought, there came to him in the calmness of his mind the figure of a rational being who was sophisticated in speech but inexperienced in deeds and who overflowed with rich ostentation. He began speaking to the figure thus: Where do you come from? It said: I never came from anywhere. He said: Tell me, what are you? It said: I am nothing. He said: What do you want? It answered and said: I want nothing. And he said: This is very strange. Tell me, what is your name? It said: I am called nameless wild one. The disciple said: You are well named “the wild one” because your words and answers are completely wild. Now tell me something I shall ask you. Where does your wisdom take you? It said: to unrestrained liberty.—Henry of Suso[5]

I pick up the guitar play until I found a riff that makes me either shudder in fear, cry with pain, tremble with anger and I will play that riff many times over. . . I am never content or never will be with the restrictions set upon me. I will destroy cosmos and return to freedom!—Donn of Teutoburg Forest[6]

I contest in the name of contestation what experience itself is (the will to proceed to the end of the possible). Experience, its authority, its method, do not distinguish themselves from the contestation.—Georges Bataille[7]

We are the Circle of Black Twilight. Spreading Kaos and Dissonance through sacred ceremonial worship. We have transcended from this mind and flesh. We exist within this darkness and dwell within it’s unending void of disharmony. You too will come to proclaim it’s ultimate presence. [sic]—Volahn[8]
A catena is a medieval form of exegetical commentary composed wholly of a chain of citations from other works. Representing textual significance as a plenitude spanning the voices of multiple authors, the textual form, exemplified by Aquinas’s Catena Aurea on the four gospels, is the generic analogue of the cosmic spectacle that held sway during the thousand years or so when catenae were written, namely, the vision of the universe as constituting a great chain of being, an ordered procession of entities formally bound together via the unity of their common origin and end. As Macrobius explains, with properly consequential syntax, in his Commentary on the Dream of Scipio:
since Mind emanates from the Supreme God, and Soul from Mind, and Mind, indeed, forms and suffuses all below with life, and since this is the one splendor lighting up everything and visible in all, like a countenance reflected in many mirrors arranged in a row, and since all follow on in continuous succession, degenerating step by step [degenerantia per ordinem] in their downward course, the close observer will find that from the Supreme God even to the bottommost dregs of the universe [a summo deo usque ad ultimam rerum faecem] there is one tie [conexio], binding at every link and never broken. This is the golden chain [catena aurea] of Homer which, he tells us, God ordered to hang down from the sky to the earth.[9]
The chain principle is an ontological wholism. It threads the fact of universe itself, expressing the inseparability of the what and the that. The cosmic catena is the necessary point of identity, piercing every entity, between essence and existence, the invisible thing making it so that everything is next to something else and part of everything itself. It is thus in a full and total sense the chain of being, the fact of being’s being a chain or binding: at once the universal necessity of the actuality of the everything (the fact that there is such a thing as everything) and the individual necessity of the actuality of individuation (the fact that each thing is inexorably shackled to itself). The chain encompasses from within the impossible unity of perspective on being that cosmos presupposes: the definite vision of the unbounded whole from the position of one-sided asymmetry occupied by the individual.
I begin with a catena, really an acatena—a broken, scriptureless exegetical chain—as the only conceivable way of opening discourse on anti-cosmic black metal, an art that proceeds in principle against the universe as the principle of order, which is what cosmos means, and thus against the very possibility or ground of discourse. We may recall that discourse, which signifies logos as a circulation between beings, implies an immanence/emergence of order, the actualization of a shared reality as its medium. Only thus does word result in text (fr. texere, to weave), the higher order fabric (cf. “fabric of the universe”) produced when the thread of language passes to and fro across itself. Fulfilling such a discursive ontology, Dante’s Commedia realizes itself in the joyful retelling of a vision of a complex universal form that takes a codexical, self-bound shape:
In its depth I saw ingathered, bound by love in one single volume, that which is dispersed in leaves throughout the universe: substances and accidents and their relations, as though fused together in such a way that what I tell is but a simple light. The universal form of this knot I believe that I saw, because, in telling this, I feel my joy increase.[10]
Inside the anticosmic impulse, the reality of such a volume, and with it the space for speaking comedically in its margins, is both impossible and inevitable. For the satanic reader, such a book of the cosmos is paradoxically exactly what cannot exist and precisely what must be burned and scattered in the furnace of Chaos as the ultimate expression of the most horrible heresy: the fact that anything is happening at all. This impulse, materialized in the initial scream of the opening track of Teutoburg Forest’s Anti-Subhuman Scum, “Seeing God’s Creation, and Despising it,” is explicable as absolute refusal of the originary causality that the chain of being manifests, and more precisely, as hatred of the essential weakness or impotence of the absolute one who cannot not make others, the no-thing (Ein Sof) perfectly incapable of not creating many things. Plotinus explains:
It is precisely because there is nothing within the One that all things are from it: in order that Being may be brought about, the source must be no Being but Being’s generator, in what is to be thought as the primal act of generation. Seeking nothing, possessing nothing, lacking nothing, the One is perfect and, in our metaphor, has overflowed, and its exuberance has produced the new.[11]
As the angelic first link and mirror produced in this ecstatic emanation, Satan, second only to God, becomes archrival only, alonely, on the basis of being arch-other, the original subject of the most intimate and intolerable intersection between the absolute fact of God and something’s being other than God.[12] In this the satanic principle is in essence the inversely maximal experience of the most minimal negation performed in the double ecstasy of creation, following Pseudo-Dionysius, who writes that “the very cause of the universe . . . is also carried outside of himself . . . He is . . . enticed away from his transcendent dwelling place and comes to abide within all things, and he does so by virtue of his supernatural and ecstatic capacity to remain, nevertheless, within himself.”[13] Hear this inverted in the voice of an ego: I, effect of the universe, am enclosed inside of myself, I am forced away from my transcendent dwelling place and come to abide outside of all things, and I do so by virtue of my supernatural and ecstatic capacity to remain, nevertheless, without myself. Where, for whom, and to what end does this being speak? What is the discourse of the one who would evade this impossible enchainment, the extreme separation of the closest binding, who totally cannot tolerate cosmos as the place of being? Is there an anti-cosmic logos that is not “lost [as Bataille says] among babblers in a night in which we can only hate the appearance of light which comes from babbling”?[14] Is there a convivial, symposial anti-cosmosis, not merely a noise-making against, but a discursive noise that actually unmakes cosmos? Talking with his grandfather over the ear-filling pleasing sound of the celestial spheres [qui complet aures meas tantus et tam dulcis sonus], the younger Scipio learns of the twin telos of music and philosophy: “Gifted men, imitating this harmony on stringed instruments and in singing, have gained for themselves a return to this region, as have those who have devoted their exceptional abilities to a search for divine truths. The ears of mortals are filled with this sound, but they are unable to hear it.”[15] My black mahapralaya inversely begins, unends my own beginning, by speaking while listening to what I am unable to hear within the dissonant metal that fills my mortal ears.
My cosmic dissolution begins, therefore, by ignoring both the anti-cosmic discourse of Gnostic occultism, which adorns itself in the drapery of Chaos like an enormous sigil-embroidered baby blanket, and the anti-discourse world of consumerist metal fandom. I ignore these, remain consciously and willfully stupid towards them, in favor of their simple, practical synthesis: the dialectical pleasure of hearing and thinking black metal as itself an occult experience of the cosmic abyss. In other words, I embrace as axiomatic the effective fact that black metal is only what has already stripped me of banal belonging to the universe as the place of being, restored to appearance the primal fact that her existence and mine are coeval, that we go way back—a sonic “ecstatic, breathless, experience . . . [that] opens a bit more every time the horizon of God (the wound); extends a bit more the limits of the heart, the limits of being.”[16] Not for the sake of knowing true black metal from false, but for being truthful about it. The anti-cosmic structure of such metallic factical blackening of experience, which makes the whole moment of life immediately fulfill Quentin Meillassoux’s definition of facticity as the “narrow passage through which thought is able to exit from itself . . . [and] we are able to make our way towards the absolute,”[17] is perfectly explicit in Shamaatae of Arckanum’s cosmos-collapsing self-definitions: “I am a living and revolving cosmos of Kaos. I can't stay as one and in one way;” “Chaos theory is a theory that structures my way of living, I am chaos theory in flesh. . . . I am my own influence.”[18]
That this black metal shaman understands himself not only as Chaos personified but as a self-originating incarnation of its theory, “theory in flesh,” opens and outdeepens the significance of the premature anti-discursive commentary on this symposium which, in inimical collusion with my own quixotic nigredic purposes, summons the intersecting problems of anti-cosmic discourse and the theoretical occult, the space of relation between what cannot be spoken and the speech that destroys. Someone called The Scapegoat, sacrificing the law to maintain it, declares that “the first rule of black metal is that YOU DO NOT FUCKING TALK ABOUT BLACK METAL.”[19] Cum Crémed Guts, who lists his location as “cosmic womb of abyss” and so suggests his own primordial identity with the inseminated viscera of the mater omnium, observes: “i thought one puts occult into his black metal, not the other way around.”[20] And Extra Cheese Head trollishly quips discourse (as a form of irrelevant fantasy, inauthentic affect, and social weakness) in a way that indicates the special generic authority of black metal as a grottophilic space of absolute refusal: “yep I think Fenriz and the likes would laugh their asses off if they saw this bunch of D&D playing, pseudo-misanthropics huddling together and attempting to scholarize something as blatantly anti-everything as black metal.”[21] In short (silencing my desire for endless commentary), these comments sonically perpetuate the stagnancy of a separative and self-preserving vision, one that blindly holds the unseeable in collective eclipse as the only way of looking at it. I see here, in the darkness of my own self-projection, a ridiculous doubleness. On the one hand: cultic love of an authentic occult, the experience of subjectively accessed realities whose theory, unlike that of sciences which concern commonly observable and manipulable phenomena, “can in no way approximate direct knowledge in import and significance.”[22] On the other hand: the hopeless failure of the solely theoretical occultist who, because “occult realities are bound to remain for them more or less in the same category as descriptions of unseen lands or works of imagination,” perversely falls to accusing others of ignorance as the ego’s last remaining option or investment in the hermetic mode of instruction: teaching those who already know.[23] This vulgar policing of the space of authentic experience, which proceeds by holding forever closed the meeting place of theory and practice, science and art, philosophy and poetry, shutting them up in the minimally present and maximally interviewable person of the master to whom alone is accorded the privilege of a theoretical gnosis, defines a position fatally prone to drawing the wrong conclusion from Arckanum’s body, namely: that there can be no black metal theory because black metal is flesh. Impossibilizing black metal discourse in the paradoxical mode of a tiny, pathetic illumination that might expose its primal night as a cave-dweller’s fantasy, such anxious refusal of the blackening, darkness-deepening potentiality of thought betrays faithlessness in the awesome reality of the abyss, which, whether we feel it as God or not, is absolutely divine.

These are the torments of each, of all who wrestle in collective solitude with the terrifying discontinuous continuities and continuous discontinuities between the reality of what is loved and the image of thought. And this pain points the way (backwards or forwards?) into the superior, more pleasurable suffering wherein the noble lover, the immoderate cogitator of Andreas Capellanus’s De Amore, the one who loves thinking about the loved one, who knows that “loving [as Agamben says] is also necessarily a speculation . . . an essentially phantasmatic process, involving both imagination and memory in an assiduous, tormented circling around an image painted or reflected in the deepest self,” this one both knows full well the reality of the thought-image he loses himself in and wholly enjoys its actualization of the original dark out of which it and his own being strangely appear:
For then my thoughts, far from where I abide,
Intend a zealous pilgrimage to thee,
And keep my drooping eyelids open wide,
Looking on darkness which the blind do see.
Save that my soul’s imaginary sight
Presents thy shadow to my sightless view,
Which like a jewel hung in ghastly night,
Makes black night beauteous, and her old face new.[24]
Here we see the lovely, speculative hideous gnosis of an essentially citational erotic consciousness, the unnamable entity who, sitting in the medieval chained library of the body, practices loving things in the intellectual mirror of his ownmost cosmic abyss. Such a one not only passes the highest, Dantean test of occult authenticity, proving knowledge of hidden realities by the joy of speaking about them, but flies with Walter Benjamin’s ungenerated androgynous angelic self, Agesilaus Santander, kabbalistically interpreted by his scholarly friend Gershom Scholem as an anagram of The Angel Satan (Der Angelus Satanas).[25] This angel, whose ideal is a book that “would eliminate all commentary and consist in nothing but quotations,” teaches the shocking citational discourse of living tradition that “does not aim to perpetuate and repeat the past but to lead it to its decline in a context in which past and present, content of transmission and act of transmission, what is unique and what is repeatable, are wholly identified.”[26] In other words, the happy, Satanic catena, whose dissonant rattle black metal already is, destroys cosmos by means of its own chain of being, realizing the temporal present of the word as the original whim from beyond, named by Reza Negarestani as “Incognitum Hactenus—not known yet or nameless and without origin until now . . . In Incognitum Hactenus, you never know the pattern of emergence. Anything can happen for some weird reason; yet also, without any reason, nothing at all can happen.”[27]
You too will come to proclaim it’s ultimate presence.


[1] Giorgio Agamben, The Coming Community. trans. Michael Hardt (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993), 14
[3] Meher Baba, Discourses, I.45-6.
[4] “Chimera,” Chimera (Season of Mist, 2004).
[5] Hentry of Suso, The Little Book of Truth, Chapter 6, cited from Henry Suso: The Exemplar, with Two German Sermons, ed. and trans. Frank Tobin (Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1989), 326.
[6] “Interview with Teutoburg Forest,” <http://blogs.myspace.com/usbmsarchives>
[7] Inner Experience, trans.Leslie Anne Boldt (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1988), 12.
[8] Cited from Crepúsculo Negro pamphlet (128 of 400).
[9] Macrobius, Commentary on the Dream of Scipio, trans. William Harris Stahl (New York: Columbia University Press, 1952), 14.15.
[10] “Nel suo profondo vidi che s’interna, / legato con amore in un volume, / ciò che per l’universo si squaderna: / sustanze e accidenti e lor costume / quasi conflati insieme, per tal modo / che ciò ch’i’ dico è un semplice lume. / La forma universal di questo nodo / credo ch’i’ vidi, perché più di largo, / dicendo questo, mi sento ch’i’ godo” (Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy, ed. Charles S. Singleton [Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1973], Paradiso 33.85-93).
[11] Plotinus, Enneads, trans. Stephen MacKenna (Burdett, NY: Larson, 1992), V.2.1.
[12] “Of all the mightes I haue made, moste nexte after me / I make the als master and merour of my mighte; / I beelde the here baynely in blys for to be, / I name the for Lucifer, als berar of lyghte” (The York Plays, ed. Richard Beadle [London: Edwin Arnold, 1982], lines 34-37).
[13] Pseudo-Dionysius, The Complete Works, trans. Colm Luibheid and Paul Rorem (New York: Paulist Press, 1987), Divine Names, 4.13.
[14] Inner Experience, xxxii.
[15] Macrobius, Commentary on the Dream of Scipio, 74.
[16] Georges Bataille, Inner Experience, 104
[17] Quentin Meillassoux, After Finitude: An Essay on the Necessity of Contingency, trans. Ray Brassier (London: Continuum, 2008), 63. Cf. “Not how the world is, is the mystical, but that it is” (Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, tr. C.K. Ogden [Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 1998], 6.44).
[22] Meher Baba, Discourses, II.102.
[23] For example: “Since the TOTBL [Temple of the Black Light] has reached is predetermined number of fully initiated brothers and sisters, membership is closed, but it is still our duty to reach out and offer guidance to the very few who bear within them the Black Flames of the acosmic Spirit. So while we do not offer initiation into the Inner Sanctum at this time, we still offer relevant parts of the Chaosophic teachings that we believe can lead the elect of our Gods to the illumination of the Black Light. The texts presented on this website have as their purpose to test the readers, confuse the feeble-minded majority, and guide the very few of spiritual work to other, more hidden points of ingress into the very heart of the Current 218. A secondary motive for the outside manifestation of the Anti-Cosmic Tradition is to counteract the essenceless and materialistic filth that is spread in the name of Satan and Satanism. By presenting a spiritual and yet harshly antinomian form of Gnostic Luciferianism, we hope to contribute to the establishment of visible alternatives to the vulgarism preached by atheistic con men. Incipit Chaos!” (<http://www.templeoftheblacklight.net/main.html>).
[24] William Shakespeare, Sonnets, edited with analytic commentary by Stephen Booth (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1977), 27.5-12.
[25] See Steven M. Wasserstrom, Religion After Religion: Gershom Scholem, Mircea Eliade, and Henry Corbin at Eranos (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999), 206ff.
[26] Giorgio Agamben, “Walter Benjamin and the Demonic: Happiness and Historical Redemption,” in Potentialities: Collected Essays in Philosophy, trans. Daniel Heller-Roazen (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1999), 153. Walter Benjamin‟s “ideal was a book that would eliminate all commentary and consist in nothing but quotations” (Françoise Meltzer, “Acedia and Melancholia,” in Walter Benjamin and the Demands of History, ed. Michael P. Steinberg [Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1996], 162). Why? Because “in citation old and new are brought into simultaneity” (Eva Geulen, “Counterplay: Benjamin,” chapter 4 of The End of Art: Readings in a Rumour After Hegel, trans. James McFarland [Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2006], 87): “To the traditionalizing effects of commentary, Benjamin . . . opposes the citation as shock, which shatters the continuum and which does not resolve itself in any solution of continuity; and, on the other hand, the citation as montage . . . in which the fragments come into connection in order to form a constellation intelligible to the present” (Phillipe Simay, “Tradition as Injunction: Benjamin and the Critique of Historicisms,” in Walter Benjamin and History, ed. Andrew Benjamin [London: Continuum, 2005], 147).
[27] Reza Negarestani, Cyclonopedia: Complicity with Anonymous Materials (Melbourne: re.press, 2008), 49. Cf. Meher Baba, “The Whim from the Beyond,” in Beams from Meher Baba on the Spriritual Panorama (Sufism Reoriented, 1958), 7-11.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

So you've obviously read a few sources and done a study or two to write what feels to be the most fragmented thesis I have ever read, most especially because you come off with the arrogance of a knowledge you clearly cannot grasp or pinpoint but more meander around in a fashion you find most divine. Through all of your studies, did you not learn the principals of context or cohesion? The elitism of never saying anything. I very much doubt that you have been influenced by an occultism or "black art" as I am sure you will nonetheless regard it, and merely stumbled across it in a psuedo-intellectual internet fascination, as you meander for a new scene to discover a niche in, and yet you wish to take the veil of what mystery off? To avoid the subject while you speak about it's situation. It is as if you have studied but never learned, lived, or experienced anything, or at least used whatever poetic license and experience you have to create anything more than what you have taken from another scene. You have clearly overstepped the engima and have entered the idiot.

- a

Nicola Masciandaro said...

a,

Clearly! I suggest you seek the kind of knowledge and/or text you desire from someone else. I am not your instructor, and using life's precious free moments and energy to write in a fashion that would make me so is neither my desire or responsibility.

Cf. "For I telle thee trewly that I had lever be so nowhere bodely, wrastlyng with that blynde nought, than to be so grete a lorde that I might when I wolde be everywhere bodely, merily pleiing with al this ought as a lorde with his owne" (The Cloud of Unknowing, ed. Patrick J. Gallacher [Kalamazoo, Michigan: Medieval Institute Publications, 1997]. chapter 68).

And if there is a text on these subjects that exemplifies the principles you honor, please do not hesitate to recommend it to me.

NM

Anonymous said...

a,

To avoid the subject while you speak about its situation is the elitism of never saying anything.


Nicola,

I enjoyed the text of your lecture a great deal. I wonder when/how one might treat the latter work of Deathspell Omega with the rigor it deserves.

Anonymous said...

Or, when/how THOU/one.

Nicola Masciandaro said...

Thank you. Dominic Fox and Benjamin Noys intend to engage D.O. to some extent in Glossator's black metal commentary volume (see this announcement) (pdf).

My impulse is to understand how D.O. works via the concepts of reformatio in early Christian thought (see book by Ladner on the subject), and in relation to in-volutionary processes. Basically I see orthodoxy as compelled by a secret wish to sink the titanic of ritual by taking it riskily to sea as it were. And D.O. sounds to me like a forever falling/sinking meta-cathedral, creaking and cracking but strangely coming alive as it does. Disincarnation, flesh-made-word. In short, I fantasize about a space of ecstatic dialogue between orthodox black metal and radical orthodoxy. Perhaps we can realize that in the new year. Another line of thought (since I can't seem to stop thinking about anagogy and desiring anagogic events) would be to address D.O. via medieval hermeneutics and the interplay of the four senses of scripture, as compelled by their devotion to Christianity as ultimate allegory (other-meaning).

Transcix said...

Outstanding text, but I think it's too good, none of your readers will understand it, haha! Very deep and subtle, truly elegant.

Anonymous said...

So you use Baba to identify with the black abyss of death angels and the dark arts. Well ... you have quit the road in front of you brother.

Nicola Masciandaro said...

The 'wayless abyss,' the pathless path!

"...it is truly a pathless journey. It is a dynamic movement within the consciousness of the aspirant that creates its own path and leaves no trace behind it." (MB)