Wednesday, September 21, 2011

On the Mystical Love of Black Metal (P.E.S.T. abstract)

Deep in the shadows wings take to flight through clouds of chaos where stars die
– Inquisition, “Across the Abyss Ancient Horns Bray,” Ominous Doctrines of the Perpetual Mystical Macrocosm

That which neither creates nor is created . . . is classed among the impossibles, for its essence lies in that it cannot be [cuius differentia est non posse esse]
– John Scotus Eriugena, Periphyseon  

The love of black metal twists toward absolute cosmic exteriority along a mystical path of intensive inversion. Ordinate mysticism takes an inward and upward path to God as the source and goal of everything, withdrawing from the exterior phenomenal world in order to ascend beyond it to the One in a movement that is anabatic, apophatic, and anagogic (Plotinus, Enneads, 4.8.1; Augustine, Confessions, 7.10,16; Pseudo-Dionysius, Mystical Theology, 1.1). The love of black metal, reversely and contrarily, leads downwards and outwards into a paradoxically disordered and multiple cosmos that is no less divine, pursuing a musical path that is catabatic, cataphatic, and apogogic (a path, however, that necessarily twists these terms according to its own essential negativity). Where music traditionally aims to mimetically ascend to hyper-central divine truth through the harmony of the celestial spheres, black metal’s noisy anti-modern sonic drive coordinately plunges into the depths only to release and radically fly upon the infinite centrifugal power or negative cosmic wind of sound itself. Crucially, this distinction, between the ordered mystical love of God and the disordered mysticism that love of black metal inescapably is, is not a pure opposition. Like the Petrine Cross that at once marks the temporally separate twin foundations of the terrestrial ecclesia and the heavy acosmic kvlt, black metal love is a most intimate transposition of its spiritual precursor, a dissemblance that exacerbates and intensifies the still, unmoving point of identity with what it inverts. This point, the secret moment or punctum around which black metal assemblies anarchically gather, is perversely legible in moments of black metal complicity with essential ‘disordering’ counter-movements within medieval mystical discourse, for instance, Richard of St. Victor’s representation of the God-enflamed soul as spontaneously sinking into the divine will like liquefied black metal (On the Four Degrees of Violent Charity), Mechthild of Magdeburg’s exaltation of the soul’s descent into the night of separation: “O blissful distance from God, how lovingly am I connected with you!”, and Meister Eckhart’s prayer to be rid of God. Arguing that the modern love of black metal is, willy-nilly, a profound and fresh form of mysticism, a desperate contemplation of the divine manifesting the ‘desire to be everything’ (Bataille), this lecture will demonstrate, with special reference to the works of Inquisition and John Scotus Eriugena, how black metal and mysticism are lovingly united in the dark pestilential space of excessive and compound negativity, a new realm of the not not God.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


Nicola Masciandaro & Eugene Thacker, Editors

Dominic Pettman, What Came First, the Chicken or the Head?
Eugene Thacker, Thing and No-Thing
Alexi Kukuljevic, Suicide by Decapitation
Alexander Galloway, The Painted Peacock
Evan Calder Williams, Recapitation
Nicola Masciandaro, Decapitating Cinema
Ed Keller, Corpus Atomicus

Charles Baudelaire, Une Martyre
Eugene Thacker, eclipse and iris
Nicola Masciandaro, Diminutive Catalog of Christian Beheadings
Hank Cochran, Make the World Go Away
Leighton Pierce, Limit of Appliance #4
Öykü Tekten, Symposium Photographs

Available here.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Gird Thyself

9. Thing-in-Itself and Appearance

553 (1886-1887)
The sore spot of Kant's critical philosophy has gradually become visible even to dull eyes: Kant no longer has a right to his distinction "appearance" and "thing-in-itself"--he had deprived himself of the right to go on distinguishing in this old familiar way, in so far as he rejected as impermissible making inferences from phenomena to a cause of phenomena--in accordance with his conception of causality and its purely intra-phenomenal validity-- which conception, on the other hand, already anticipates this distinction, as if the "thing-in-itself" were not only inferred but given.
554 (1885-1886)
Causalism.--It is obvious that things-in-themselves cannot be related to one another as cause and effect, nor can appearance be so related to appearance; from which it follows that in a philosophy that believes in things-in-themselves and appearances the concept "cause and effect" cannot be applied. Kant's mistakes --
In fact, the concept "cause and effect" derives, psychologically speaking, only from a mode of thought that believes that always and everywhere will operates upon will--that believes only in living things and fundamentally only in "souls" (and not in things). Within the mechanistic view of the world (which is logic and its application to space and time), that concept is reduced to the formulas of mathematics--with which, as one must emphasize again and again, nothing is ever comprehended, but rather designated and distorted.
555 (1885-1886)
Against the scientific prejudice.--The biggest fable of all is the fable of knowledge. One would like to know what things-in-themselves are; but behold, there are no things-in-themselves! But even supposing there were an in-itself, an unconditioned thing, it would for that very reason be unknowable! Something unconditioned cannot be known; otherwise it would not be unconditioned! Coming to know, however, is always "placing oneself in a conditional relation to something" one who seeks to know the unconditioned desires that it should not concern him, and that this same something should be of no concern to anyone. This involves a contradiction, first, between wanting to know and the desire that it not concern us (but why know at all, then?) and, secondly, because something that is of no concern to anyone IS not at all, and thus cannot be known at all.--
Coming to know means "to place oneself in a conditional relation to something"; to feel oneself conditioned by something and oneself to condition it--it is therefore under all circumstances establishing, denoting, and making-conscious of conditions (not forthcoming entities, things, what is "in-itself").
556 (1885-1886)
A "thing-in-itself" just as perverse as a "sense-in-itself," a "meaning-in-itself." There are no "facts-in-themselves," for a sense must always be projected into them before there can be "facts."
The question "what is that?" is an imposition of meaning from some other viewpoint. "Essence," the "essential nature," is something perspective and already presupposes a multiplicity. At the bottom of it there always lies "what is that for me?" (for us, for all that lives, etc.)
A thing would be defined once all creatures had asked "what is that?" and had answered their question. Supposing one single creature, with its own relationships and perspectives for all things, were missing, then the thing would not yet be "defined".
In short: the essence of a thing is only an opinion about the "thing." Or rather: "it is considered" as the real "it is," the sole "this is."
One may not ask: "who then interprets?" for the interpretation itself is a form of the will to power, it exists (but not as a "being,' but as a process, a becoming) as an affect.
The origin of "things" is wholly the work of that which imagines, thinks, wills, feels. The concept "thing" itself just as much as all its qualities.--Even "the subject" is such a created entity, a "thing" like all others: a simplification with the object of defining the force which posits, invents, thinks, as distinct from all individual positing, inventing, thinking as such. Thus a capacity as distinct from all that is individual--fundamentally, action collectively considered with respect to all anticipated actions (action and the probability of similar actions).
557 (1885-1886)
The properties of a thing are effects on other "things": if one removes other "things," then a thing has no properties, i.e., there is no thing without other things, i.e., there is no "thing-in-itself."
558 (Spring-Fall 1887)
The "thing-in-itself" nonsensical. If I remove all the relationships, all the "properties," all the "activities" of a thing, the thing does not remain over; because thingness has only been invented by us owing to the requirements of logic, thus with the aim of defining, communication (to bind together the multiplicity of relationships, properties, activities).
559 (Nov. 1887-March 1888)
"Things that have a constitution in themselves"--a dogm idea with which one must break absolutely.
560 (Spring-Fall 1887)
That things possess a constitution in themselves quite apart from interpretation and subjectivity, is a quite idle hypothesis: it presupposes that interpretation and subjectivity are not essential, that a thing freed from all relationships would still be a thing.
Conversely, the apparent objective character of things: could it not be merely a difference of degree within the subjective?--that perhaps that which changes slowly presents itself to us as "objectively" enduring, being, "in-itself"--that the objective is only a false concept of a genus and an antithesis within the subjective?
561 (1885-1886)
Suppose all unity were unity only as an organization? But the "thing" in which we believe was only invented as a foundation for the various attributes. If the thing "effects," that means: we conceive all the other properties which are present and momentarily latent, as the cause of the emergence of one single property; i.e., we take the sum of its properties--"x"--as cause of the property "x": which is utterly stupid and mad!
All unity is unity only as organization and co-operation--just as a human community is a unity--as opposed to an atomistic anarchy, as a pattern of domination that signifies a unity but is not a unity.
562 (1883-1888)
"In the development of thought a point had to be reached at which one realized that what one called the properties of things were sensations of the feeling subject: at this point the properties ceased to belong to the thing." The "thing-in-itself" remained. The distinction between the thing-in-itself and the thing-for-us is based on the older, naive form of perception which granted energy to things; but analysis revealed that even force was only projected into them, and likewise--substance. "The thing affects a subject"? Root of the idea of substance in language, not in beings outside us! The thing-in-itself is no problem at all!
Beings will have to be thought of as sensations that are no longer based on something devoid of sensation.
In motion, no new content is given to sensation. That which IS, cannot contain motion: therefore it is a form of being.
N.B. The explanation of an event can be sought firstly: through mental images of the event that precede it (aims);
secondly: through mental images that succeed it (the mathematical-physical explanation).
One should not confuse the two. Thus: the physical explanation, which is a symbolization of the world by means of sensation and thought, can in itself never account for the origin of sensation and thought; rather physics must construe the world of feeling consistently as lacking feeling and aim--right up to the highest human being. And teleology is only a history of purposes and never physical!
563 (1886-1887)
Our "knowing" limits itself to establishing quantities; but we cannot help feeling these differences in quantity as qualities. Quality is a perspective truth for us; not an "in-itself."
Our senses have a definite quantum as a mean within which they function; i.e., we sense bigness and smallness in relation to the conditions of our existence. If we sharpened or blunted our senses tenfold, we should perish; i.e., with regard to making possible our existence we sense even relations between magnitudes as qualities.
564 (1885-1886)
Might all quantities not be signs of qualities? A greater power implies a different consciousness, feeling, desiring, a different perspective; growth itself is a desire to be more; the desire for an increase in quantum grows from a quale; in a purely quantitative world everything would be dead, stiff, motionless.-- The reduction of all qualities to quantities is nonsense: what appears is that the one accompanies the other, an analogy--
565 (Fall 1886)
Qualities are insurmountable barriers for us; we cannot help feeling that mere quantitative differences are something fundamentally distinct from quantity, namely that they are qualities which can no longer be reduced to one another. But everything for which the word "knowledge" makes any sense refers to the domain of reckoning. weighing, measuring, to the domain of quantity; while, on the other hand, all our sensations of value (i.e., simply our sensations) adhere precisely to qualities, i.e., to our perspective "truths" which belong to us alone and can by no means be "known"! It is obvious that every creature different from us senses different qualities and consequently lives in a different world from that in which we live. Qualities are an idiosyncrasy peculiar to man; to demand that our human interpretations and values should be universal and perhaps constitutive values is one of the hereditary madnesses of human pride.
566 (Nov. 1887-March 1888)
The "real world," however one has hitherto conceived it, it has always been the apparent world once again.
567 (March-June 1888)
The apparent world, i.e., a world viewed according to values; ordered, selected according to values, i.e., in this case according to the viewpoint of utility in regard to the preservation and enhancement of the power of a certain species of animal.
The perspective therefore decides the character of the "appearance"! As if a world would still remain over after one deducted the perspective! By doing that one would deduct relativity!
Every center of force adopts a perspective toward the entire remainder, i.e., its own particular valuation, mode of action, and mode of resistance. The "apparent world," therefore, is reduced to a specific mode of action on the world, emanating from a center.
Now there is no other mode of action whatever; and the "world" is only a word for the totality of these actions. Reality consists precisely in this particular action and reaction of every individual part toward the whole--
No shadow of a right remains to speak here of appearance--
The specific mode of reacting is the only mode of reacting; we do not know how many and what kinds of other modes there are.
But there is no "other," no "true," no essential being--for this would be the expression of a world without action and reaction--
The antithesis of the apparent world and the true world reduced to the antithesis "world" and "nothing."--
568 (March-June 1888)
Critique of the concept "true and apparent world."-- Of these, the first is a mere fiction, constructed of fictitious entities.
"Appearance" itself belongs to reality: it is a form of its being; i.e., in a world where there is no being, a certain calculable world of identical cases must first be created through appearance: a tempo at which observation and comparison are possible, etc.
Appearance is an arranged and simplified world, at which our practical instincts have been at work; it is perfectly true for us; that is to say, we live, we are able to live in it: proof of its truth for us--
The world, apart from our condition of living in it, the world that we have not reduced to our being, our logic and psychological prejudices, does not exist as a world "in-itself"; it is essentially a world of relationships; under certain conditions it has a differing aspect from every point; its being is essentially different from every point; it presses upon every point, every point resists it--and the sum of these is in every case quite incongruent.
The measure of power determines what being possesses the other measure of power; in what form, force, constraint it acts or resists.
Our particular case is interesting enough: we have produced a conception in order to be able to live in a world, in order to perceive just enough to endure it--
569 (Spring-Fall 1887)
Our psychological perspective is determined by the following: 1. that communication is necessary, and that for there to be communication something has to be firm, simplified, capable of precision (above all in the [so-called] identical case). For it to be communicable, however, it must be experienced as adapted, as "recognizable." The material of the senses adapted by the understanding, reduced to rough outlines, made similar, subsumed under related matters. Thus the fuzziness and chaos of sense impressions are, as it were, logicized;
2. the world of "phenomena" is the adapted world which we feel to be real. The "reality" lies in the continual recurrence of identical, familiar, related things in their logicized character, in the belief that here we are able to reckon and calculate;
3. the antithesis of this phenomenal world is not "the true world," but the formless unformulable world of the chaos of sensations--another kind of phenomenal world, a kind "unknowable" for us;
4. questions, what things "in-themselves" may be like, apart from our sense receptivity and the activity of our understanding, must be rebutted with the question: how could we know that things exist? "Thingness" was first created by us. The question is whether there could not be many other ways of creating such an apparent world--and whether this creating, logicizing, adapting, falsifying is not itself the best-guaranteed reality; in short, whether that which "posits things" is not the sole reality; and whether the "effect of the external world upon us" is not also only the result of such active subjects--The other "entities" act upon us; our adapted apparent world is an adaptation and overpowering of their actions; a kind of defensive measure. The subject alone is demonstrable; hypothesis that only subjects exist--that "object" is only a kind of effect produced by a subject upon a subject a modus of the subject.

10. Metaphysical Need
570 (Nov. 1887-March 1888)
If one is a philosopher as men have always been philosophers, one cannot see what has been and becomes--one sees only what is. But since nothing is, all that was left to the philosopher as his "world" was the imaginary.
571 (Spring-Fall 1887; rev. Spring-Fall 1888)
To assert the existence as a whole of things of which we know nothing whatever, precisely because there is an advantage in not being able to know anything of them, was a piece of naivete of Kant, resulting from needs, mainly moral-metaphysical.
572 (1883-1888)
An artist cannot endure reality, he looks away from it, back: he seriously believes that the value of a thing resides in that shadowy residue one derives from colors, form, sound, ideas, he believes that the more subtilized, attenuated, transient a thing or a man is, the more valuable he becomes; the less real, the more valuable. This is Platonism, which, however, involved yet another bold reversal: Plato measured the degree of reality by the degree of value and said: The more "Idea", the more being. He reversed the concept "reality" and said: "What you take for real is an error, and the nearer we approach the 'Idea', the nearer we approach 'truth'. "--Is this understood? It was the greatest of rebaptisms; and because it has been adopted by Christianity we do not recognize how astonishing it is. Fundamentally, Plato, as the artist he was, preferred appearance to being! lie and invention to truth! the unreal to the actual! But he was so convinced of the value of appearance that he gave it the attributes "being","causality" and "goodness", and "truth", in short everything men value.
The concept of value itself considered as a cause: first insight. The ideal granted all honorific attributes: second insight.
573 (Jan.-Fall 1888)
The idea of the "true world" or of "God" as absolutely immaterial, spiritual, good, is an emergency measure necessary while the opposite instincts are still all-powerful--
The degree of moderation and humanity attained is exactly reflected in the humanization of the gods: the Greeks of the strongest epoch, who were not afraid of themselves but rejoiced in themselves, brought their gods close to all their own affects--.
The spiritualization of the idea of God is therefore far from being a sign of progress: one is heartily conscious of this when considering Goethe--in his case, the vaporization of God into virtue and spirit is felt as being on a coarser level--
574 (1883-1888)
Senselessness of all metaphysics as the derivation of the conditioned from the unconditioned.
It is in the nature of thinking that it thinks of and invents the unconditioned as an adjunct to the conditioned; just as it thought of and invented the "ego" as an adjunct to the multiplicity of its processes; it measures the world according to magnitudes posited by itself--such fundamental fictions as "the unconditional","ends and means'',"things","substances", logical laws, numbers and forms.
There would be nothing that could be called knowledge if thought did not first re-form the world in this way into "things", into what is self-identical. Only because there is thought is there untruth.
Thought cannot be derived, any more than sensations can be; but that does not mean that its primordiality or "being-in-itself" has been proved! all that is established is that we cannot get beyond it, because we have nothing but thought and sensation.
575 (1885-1886)
"Knowledge" is a referring back: in its essence a regressus in infinitum. That which comes to a standstill (at a supposed causa prima, at something unconditioned, etc.) is laziness, weariness
576 (1883-1888)
Psychology of metaphysics: the influence of timidity.
That which has been feared the most, the cause of the most powerful suffering (lust to rule, sex, etc.), has been treated by men with the greatest amount of hostility and eliminated from the "true" world. Thus they have eliminated the affects one by one --posited God as the antithesis of evil, that is, placed reality in the negation of the desires and affects (i.e., in nothingness).
In the same way, they have hated the irrational, the arbitrary, the accidental (as the causes of immeasurable physical suffering). As a consequence, they negated this element in being-in-itself and conceived it as absolute "rationality" and "purposiveness."
In the same way, they have feared change, transitoriness: this expresses a straitened soul, full of mistrust and evil experiences (the case of Spinoza: an opposite kind of man would account change a stimulus).
A creature overloaded and playing with force would call precisely the affects, irrationality, and change good in a eudaemonistic sense, together with their consequences: danger, contrast, perishing, etc.
577 (Spring-Fall 1887)
Against the value of that which remains eternally the same (vice Spinoza's naivete; Descartes' also), the values of the briefest and most transient, the seductive flash of gold on the belly of the serpent vita--
578 (Spring-Fall 1887)
Moral values even in theory of knowledge: trust in reason--why not mistrust? the "true world" is supposed to be the good world--why? appearance, change, contradiction, struggle devalued as immoral; desire for a world in which these things are missing; the transcendental world invented, in order that a place remains for "moral freedom" (in Kant); dialectic a way to virtue (in Plato and Socrates: evidently because Sophistry counted as the way to immorality); time and space ideal: consequently "unity" in the essence of things; consequently no "sin," no evil, no imperfection --a justification of God; Epicurus denied the possibility of knowledge, in order to retain moral (or hedonistic) values as the highest values. Augustine, later Pascal ("corrupted reason"), did the same for the benefit of Christian values; Descartes' contempt for everything that changes; also that of Spinoza
579 (1883-1888)
Psychology of metaphysics.--This world is apparent: consequently there is a true world;--this world is conditional: consequently there is an unconditioned world;--this world is full of contradiction: consequently there is a world free of contradiction;-- this world is a world of becoming: consequently there is a world of being:--all false conclusions (blind trust in reason: if A exists, then the opposite concept B must also exist). It is suffering that inspires these conclusions: fundamentally they are desires that such a world should exist; in the same way, to imagine another, more valuable world is an expression of hatred for a world that makes one suffer: the ressentiment of metaphysicians against actuality is here creative.
Second series of questions: for what is there suffering?--and from this a conclusion is derived concerning the relation of the true world to our apparent, changing, suffering, contradictory world: (1) Suffering as a consequence of error: how is error possible? (2) Suffering as a consequence of guilt: how is guilt possible? (--experiences derived from nature or society universalized and projected to the sphere of "in-itself"). If, however, the conditioned world is causally conditioned by the unconditioned world, then freedom to err and incur guilt must also be conditioned by it: and again one asks, what for?--The world of appearance, becoming, contradiction, suffering, is therefore willed: what for?
The error in these conclusions: two opposite concepts are constructed--because one of them corresponds to a reality, the other "must" also correspond to a reality. "Whence should one derive this opposite concept if this were not so?"--Reason is thus a source of revelation concerning being-in-itself.
But the origin of these antitheses need not necessarily go back to a supernatural source of reason: it is sufficient to oppose to it the real genesis of the concepts. This derives from the practical sphere, the sphere of utility; hence the strength of the faith it inspires (one would perish if one did not reason according to this mode of reason; but this is no "proof" of what it asserts).
The preoccupation with suffering on the part of metaphysicians--is quite naive. "Eternal bliss": psychological nonsense. Brave and creative men never consider pleasure and pain as ultimate values--they are epiphenomena: one must desire both if one is to achieve anything--. That they see the problem of pleasure and pain in the foreground reveals something weary and sick in metaphysicians and religious people. Even morality is so important to them only because they see in it an essential condition for the abolition of suffering.
In the same way, their preoccupation with appearance and error: cause of suffering, superstition that happiness attends truth (confusion: happiness in "certainty", in "faith").
580 (Spring-Fall 1887)
To what extent the basic epistemological positions (materialism, idealism) are consequences of evaluations: the source of the supreme feelings of pleasure ("feelings of value") as decisive also for the problem of reality!
--The measure of positive knowledge is quite subsidiary or a matter of indifference: as witness the development of India.
The Buddhistic negation of reality in general (appearance = suffering) is perfectly consistent: undemonstrability, inaccessibility, lack of categories not only for a "'world-in-itself," but an insight into the erroneous procedures by means of which this whole concept is arrived at. "Absolute reality," "being-in-itself" a contradiction. In a world of becoming, "reality" is always only a simplification for practical ends, or a deception through the coarseness of organs, or a variation in the tempo of becoming.
Logical world-denial and nihilation follow from the fact that we have to oppose non-being with being and that the concept "becoming" is denied. ("Something" becomes.)
581 (Spring-Fall 1887)
Being and becoming.--"Reason", evolved on a sensualistic basis, on the prejudices of the senses, i.e., in the belief in the truth of the judgments of the senses.
"Being" as universalization of the concept "life" (breathing), "having a soul", "willing, effecting," "becoming".
The antithesis is: "not to have a soul," "not to become," "not to will." Therefore: "being" is not the antithesis of non-being, appearance, nor even of the dead (for only something that can live can be dead).
The "soul," the "ego" posited as primeval fact, and introduced everywhere where there is any becoming.
582 (1885-1887)
Being--we have no idea of it apart from the idea of "living."-- How can anything dead "be"?
583 (March-June 1888)
( A )
I observe with astonishment that science has today resigned itself to the apparent world; a real world--whatever it may be like--we certainly have no organ for knowing it.
At this point we may ask: by means of what organ of knowledge can we posit even this antithesis?--
That a world accessible to our organs is also understood to be dependent upon these organs, that we understand a world as being subjectively conditioned, is not to say that an objective world is at all possible. Who compels us to think that subjectivity is real, essential?
The "in-itself" is even an absurd conception; a "constitutioning-itself" is nonsense; we possess the concept "being," "thing," only as a relational concept--
The worst thing is that with the old antithesis "apparent" and "true" the correlative value judgment "lacking in value" and "absolutely valuable" has developed.
The apparent world is not counted as a "valuable" world; appearance is supposed to constitute an objection to supreme value. Only a "true" world can be valuable in itself--
Prejudice of prejudices! Firstly, it would be possible that the true constitution of things was so hostile to the presuppositions of life, so opposed to them, that we needed appearance in order to be able to live--After all, this is the case in so many situations; e.g., in marriage.
Our empirical world would be determined by the instincts of self-preservation even as regards the limits of its knowledge: we would regard as true, good, valuable that which serves the preservation of the species--
a. We possess no categories by which we can distinguish a true from an apparent world. (There might only be an apparent world, but not our apparent world.)
b. Assuming the true world, it could still be a world less valuable for us; precisely the quantum of illusion might be of a higher rank on account of its value for our preservation. (Unless appearance as such were grounds for condemnation?)
c. That a correlation exists between degrees of value and degrees of reality (so that the supreme values also possess the supreme reality) is a metaphysical postulate proceeding from the presupposition that we know the order of rank of values; namely, that this order of rank is a moral order--Only with this presupposition is truth necessarily part of the definition of all the highest values.
( B )
It is of cardinal importance that one should abolish the true world. It is the great inspirer of doubt and devaluator in respect of the world we are: it has been our most dangerous attempt yet to assassinate life.
War on all presuppositions on the basis of which one has invented a true world. Among these is the presupposition that moral values are the supreme values.
The supremacy of moral valuation would be refuted if it could be shown to be the consequence of an immoral valuation --as a special case of actual immorality--it would thus reduce itself to an appearance, and as appearance it would cease to have any right as such to condemn appearance.
( C )
The "will to truth" would then have to be investigated psychologically: it is not a moral force, but a form of the will to power. This would have to be proved by showing that it employs every immoral means: metaphysicians above all.
We are today faced with testing the assertion that moral values are the supreme values. Method in investigation is attained only when all moral prejudices have been overcome:--it represents a victory over morality--
584 (March-June 1888)
The aberration of philosophy is that, instead of seing in logic and the categories of reason means toward the adjustment of the world for utilitarian ends (basically, toward an expedient falsification), one believed one possessed in them the criterion of truth and reality. The "criterion of truth" was in fact merely the biological utility of such a system of systematic falsification; and since a species of animals knows of nothing more important than its own preservation, one might indeed be permitted to speak here of "truth." The naivete was to take an anthropocentric idiosyncrasy as the measure of things, as the rule for determining "real" and "unreal": in short, to make absolute something conditioned. And behold, suddenly the world fell apart into a "true" world and an "apparent" world: and precisely the world that man's reason had devised for him to live and settle in was discredited. Instead of employing the forms as a tool for making the world manageable and calculable, the madness of philosophers divined that in these categories is presented the concept of that world to which the one in which man lives does not correspond--The means were misunderstood as measures of value, even as a condemnation of their real intention--
The intention was to deceive oneself in a useful way; the means, the invention of formulas and signs by means of which one could reduce the confusing multiplicity to a purposive and manageable schema.
But alas! now a moral category was brought into play: no creature wants to deceive itself, no creature may deceive--consequently there is only a will to truth. What is "truth"?
The law of contradiction provided the schema: the true world, to which one seeks the way, cannot contradict itself, cannot change, cannot become, has no beginning and no end.
This is the greatest error that has ever been committed, the essential fatality of error on earth: one believed one possessed a criterion of reality in the forms of reason--while in fact one possessed them in order to become master of reality, in order to misunderstand reality in a shrewd manner--
And behold: now the world became false, and precisely on account of the properties that constitute its reality: change, becoming, multiplicity, opposition, contradiction, war. And then the entire fatality was there:
1. How can one get free from the false, merely apparent world? (--it was the real, the only )
2. how can one become oneself as much as possible the antithesis of the character of the apparent world? (Concept of the perfect creature as an antithesis to the real creature; more clearly, as the contradiction of life--)
The whole tendency of values was toward slander of life; one created a confusion of idealist dogmatism and knowledge in general: so that the opposing party also was always attacking science
The road to science was in this way doubly blocked: once by belief in the "true" world, and again by the opponents of this belief. Natural science, psychology was (1) condemned with regard to its objects, (2) deprived of its innocence--
In the actual world, in which everything is bound to and conditioned by everything else, to condemn and think away anything means to condemn and think away everything. The expression "that should not be," "that should not have been," is farcical-- If one thinks out the consequences, one would ruin the source of life if one wanted to abolish whatever was in some respect harmful or destructive. Physiology teaches us better!
--We see how morality (a) poisons the entire conception of the world, (b) cuts off the road to knowledge, to science, (c) disintegrates and undermines all actual instincts (in that it teaches that their roots are immoral).
We see at work before us a dreadful tool of decadence that props itself up by the holiest names and attitudes.
585 (Spring-Fall 1887; rev. Spring-Fall 1888)
Tremendous self-examination: becoming conscious of oneself, not as individuals but as mankind. Let us reflect, let us think back; let us follow the highways and byways!
( A )
Man seeks "the truth": a world that is not self-contradictory, not deceptive, does not change, a true world--a world in which one does not suffer; contradiction, deception, change--causes of suffering! He does not doubt that a world as it ought to be exists; he would like to seek out the road to it. (Indian critique: e.g. the "ego" as apparent, as not real.)
Whence does man here derive the concept reality--Why is it that he derives suffering from change, deception, contradiction? and why not rather his happiness?--
Contempt, hatred for all that perishes, changes, varies-- whence comes this valuation of that which remains constant? Obviously, the will to truth is here merely the desire for a world of the constant.
The senses deceive, reason corrects the errors; consequently, one concluded, reason is the road to the constant; the least sensual ideas must be closest to the "true world."--It is from the senses that most misfortunes come--they are deceivers, deluders, destroyers.--
Happiness can be guaranteed only by being; change and happiness exclude one another. The highest desire therefore contemplates unity with what has being. This is the formula for: the road to the highest happiness.
In summa: the world as it ought to be exists; this world, in which we live, is an error--this world of ours ought not to exist.
Belief in what has being is only a consequence: the real primum mobile is disbelief in becoming, mistrust of becoming, the low valuation of all that becomes--
What kind of man reflects in this way? An unproductive, suffering kind, a kind weary of life. If we imagine the opposite kind of man, he would not need to believe in what has being; more, he would despise it as dead, tedious, indifferent--
The belief that the world as it ought to be is, really exists, is a belief of the unproductive who do not desire to create a world as it ought to be. They posit it as already available, they seek ways and means of reaching it. "Will to truth"--as the impotence of the will to create.
To know that something is thus and thus:
To act so that something becomes thus and thus:
Antagonism in the degree of power in different natures.
The fiction of a world that corresponds to our desires: psychological trick and interpretation with the aim of associating everything we honor and find pleasant with this true world.
"Will to truth" at this stage is essentially an art of interpretation: which at least requires the power to interpret.
This same species of man, grown one stage poorer, no longer possessing the strength to interpret, to create fictions, produces nihilists. A nihilist is a man who judges of the world as it is that it ought not to be, and of the world as it ought to be that it does not exist. According to this view, our existence (action, suffering, willing, feeling) has no meaning: the pathos of "in vain" is the nihilists' pathos--at the same time, as pathos, an inconsistency on the part of the nihilists.
Whoever is incapable of laying his will into things, lacking will and strength, at least lays some meaning into them, i.e., the faith that there is a will in them already.
It is a measure of the degree of strength of will to what extent one can do without meaning in things, to what extent one can endure to live in a meaningless world because one organizes a small portion of it oneself.
The philosophical objective outlook can therefore be a sign that will and strength are small. For strength organizes what is close and closest; "men of knowledge," who desire only to ascertain what is, are those who cannot fix anything as it ought to be.
Artists, an intermediary species: they at least fix an image of that which ought to be; they are productive, to the extent that they actualy alter and transform; unlike men of knowledge, who leave everything as it is.
Connection between philosophers and the pessimistic religions: the same species of man (--they ascribe the highest degree of reality to the most highly valued things--).
Connection between philosophers and moral men and their evaluations (--the moral interpretation of the world as meaning: after the decline of the religious meaning--).
Overcoming of philosophers through the destruction of the world of being: intermediary period of nihilism: before there is yet present the strength to reverse values and to deïfy becoming and the apparent world as the only world, and to call them good.
( B )
Nihilism as a normal phenomenon can be a symptom of increasing strength or of increasing weakness:
partly, because the strength to create, to will, has so increased that it no longer requires these total interpretations and introductions of meaning ("present tasks," the state, etc.);
partly because even the creative strength to create meaning has declined and disappointment becomes the dominant condition. The incapability of believing in a "meaning," "unbelief."
What does science mean in regard to both possibilities?
1. As a sign of strength and self-control, as being able to do without healing, comforting worlds of illusion;
2. as undermining, dissecting, disappointing, weakening.
( C )
Belief in truth, the need to have a hold on something believed true, psychological reduction apart from all previous value feelings. Fear, laziness.
The same way, unbelief: reduction. To what extent it acquires a new value if a true world does not exist (--thus the value feelings that hitherto have been squandered on the world of being, are again set free).
586 (March-June 1888)

The "True" and the "Apparent World"

( A )
The seductions that occur from this concept are of three kinds
a. an unknown world:--we are adventurers, inquisitive-- that which is known seems to weary us (--the danger of this Concept lies in its insinuation that "this" world is known to us--);
b. another world, where things are different; something in us calculates, our still submission, our silence, lose their value-- perhaps everything will turn out well, we have not hoped in vain --the world where things are different, where we ourselves-- who knows?--are different--
c. a true world: this is the most amazing trick and attack that has ever been perpetrated upon us; so much has become encrusted in the word "true," and involuntarily we make a present of all this to the "true world": the true world must also be a truthful world, one that does not deceive us, does not make fools of us: to believe in it is virtually to be compelled to believe in it (--out of decency, as is the case among people worthy of confidence--).
The concept "the unknown world" insinuates that this world is "known" to us (is tedious--);
the concept "another world" insinuates that the world could be otherwise--abolishes necessity and fate (useless to submit oneself--to adapt oneself--);
the concept "the true world" insinuates that this world is untruthful, deceptive, dishonest, inauthentic, inessential--and consequently also not a world adapted to our needs (--inadvisable to adapt oneself to it; better to resist it).
We therefore elude "this" world in three ways:
a. by our inquisitiveness--as if the more interesting part were elsewhere;
b. by our submission--as though it were not necessary to submit oneself--as if this world were not a necessity of the ultimate rank:
c. by our sympathy and respect--as if this world did not deserve them, were impure, were not honest with us--
In summa: we have revolted in three ways: we have made an "x" into a critique of the "known world."
( B )
First step toward sobriety: to grasp to what extent we have been seduced--for things could be exactly the reverse:
a. the unknown world could be a stupid and meaner form of existence--and "this" world might be rather enjoyable by comparison;
b. the other world, far from taking account of our desires which would find no fulfillment in it, could be among the mass of things that make this world possible for us: to get to know it might be a means of making us contented;
c. the true world: but who is it really who tells us that the apparent world must be of less value than the true one? Does our instinct not contradict this judgment? Does man not eternally create a fictitious world for himself because he wants a better world than reality? Above all: how do we arrive at the idea that our world is not the true world?--it could be that the other world is the "apparent" one (in fact the Greeks thought of, e.g., a shadow kingdom, an apparent existence, beside true existence). And finally: what gives us the right to posit, as it were, degrees of reality? This is something different from an unknown world-- it is already a wanting to know something of the unknown-- The "other," the "unknown" world--very good! But to say "true world" means "to know something of it"--That is the opposite of the assumption of an "x" world--
In summa: the world "x" could be in every sense more tedious, less human, and less worthy than this world.
It would be another thing to assert the existence of "x" worlds, i.e., of every possible world besides this one. But this has never been asserted--
( C )
Problem: why the notion of another world has always been unfavorable for, or critical of "this" world--what does this indicate?--
For a people proud of itself, whose life is ascending, always thinks of another kind of being as a lower, less valuable kind of being; it regards the strange, the unknown world as its enemy, as its opposite; it feels no inquisitiveness, it totally rejects the strange--A people would never admit that another people was the "true people."--
It is symptomatic that such a distinction should be at all possible--that one takes this world for the "apparent" one and the other world as "true."
The places of origin of the notion of "another world": the philosopher, who invents a world of reason, where reason and the logical functions are adequate: this is the origin of the "true" world;
the religious man, who invents a "divine world": this is the origin of the "denaturalized, anti- natural" world;
the moral man, who invents a "free world": this is the origin of the "good, perfect, just, holy" world.
What the three places of origin have in common: the psycho-logical blunder, the physiological confusions.
By what attributes is the "other world," as it actually appears in history, distinguished? By the stigmata of philosophical, religious, moral prejudice.
The "other world," as illumined by these facts, as a synonym for nonbeing, nonliving, not wanting to live--
General insight: it is the instinct of life-weariness, and not that of life, which has created the "other world."
Consequence: philosophy, religion, and morality are symptoms of decadence.

Monday, September 05, 2011

God's Machine Gaping: On Gary J. Shipley's Theoretical Animals

Like floating down a divinely limitless fluvial junkyard, like knowing in ever more concrete and literal ways that life is a corpsy dream from which you do not wake, like moving along an opium-stream of deathly imagining towards some sea that only invisibly and never arrives, like some gnostic conspiracy in which certain favorite authors (maybe Baudelaire, Lovecraft, Lautréamont, McCarthy, Rimbaud – “Si je désire une eau d'Europe, c'est la flache / Noire et froide où vers le crépuscule embaumé / Un enfant accroupi plein de tristesses, lâche / Un bateau frêle comme un papillon de mai”) would be only indigent fellow  informants . . . reading Theoretical Animals places one in a terrifyingly vexed position – traumatic and unspeakably hopeful – of being singular witness to the diurnal drama of cosmic crime. To ‘review’ it would be wrong, a violence to the kaleidoscopy of a truth that is prismatically evident in each opening of the page: “I can’t believe I’m still waiting to get out” (102). I cannot read the book in modern, serial fashion, but must only consult it oracularly, like a sepulchral tome of inverted koans. And this haptic relation is continually mirrored in its murderous mudlark world: “Half an arm, cleanly severed at the elbow lays hidden in a riverbank slagheap. On the inside of the wrist is a skull with coded teeth. . . . One is led to suspect that this is not an isolated instance, that this has happened before and will happen again” (64). There is no end to the consultation, to the violence of our freshly wanting to know what it is all about. Proving the magic, this is what the text now says about its use: “Sticky patrons wriggling from the waist down discuss the importance of hermetic precautions. At specific intervals each reads aloud from one of the many instruction manuals fastened to the walls with thin blue ropes” (59). A philosophical consolation, but one in which, around the flabby gravity of bodies, philosophy and consolation are only mutual, manual laminates.
The reason why the work is called Theoretical Animals is that its visions, whatever beauty or horror they happen to be of, always restore one to the beauty-horror of vision itself, to the fact of being something chained alive in the grotto of seeing in all its senses. And this is a fact that Shipley’s scenes often dramatize and refract: “A sliver of sunlight found its way into that grim basement, and I saw on the faces of my fellow players the look that was my own I saw lust free of restraint; I saw hunger thriving in its processes, a hunger that had made a mirage of every forseeable end. I found myself digging down into their blank eyes for company and finding nothing but endless reflections chasing their source” (54). Or: “I looked and the mirror infected me. I did not recognize my contamination” (114). Which suggests a good way of grasping the book as whole, as a kind of decaying, nigredic transmutation of Plato’s cave parable into a dream-river awash with objects whose truncated incompleteness proves that they are but will never only be shadows. There is another way out behind and below the puppet show, a dark stream running through the earth.  The current, co-extensive with pathetic human consciousness itself, is suffused, like water electrified with broken machinery, with the divine shock of citation: the power of seeing anything to break free from the false world: “A stumbled montage of mutilated words and open mouths shield us from irrelevant friends” (116).