Thursday, July 31, 2014

Nihilisms

The movie Snowpiercer is an excellent hypothetical take on what is necessary for us addicted to anarchy to visualize in general, that is, for us to visualize in terms of reality-as-negation under capitalist constraints. 

You have to get out. 
There is no internal solution. 

This is of course obvious; but not for anarcho-syndicalists or other liberals, or at least not to the degree that we consider capitalistic technocratic colonialism of wild animal bodies to be in need of total destruction. Against Bonnano we say theft in quantitative conditions is only more quantitative reality--such is hardly qualitative because one here adheres to some kind of productive activity, fully exploitative and on the backs of others too weak to seek a way out of this variation of quantitative life. For the negation of the conditions of reality is only sufficient for us if we remove ourselves (individually and therefore (perhaps) collectively) from our parasitism.

The plot takes us on a cruise to the realization that even if you get to the top you have to accept its conditions and that it is fixed. 

The shell and its internals.  

There is no new in the shell of the old; only the shell with different content, generating similar appearances in both cases, whether capitalism or communism. And here the point is picturesque. Even if the train were to be more just; if, say, Curtis were to carry out Equality via task rotation--a little bit of injustice some of the time for everyone so that there is a just whole; if all of that, the train being as it is simply repeats what the world is like. And what is the world like? The persyn at the head is always a terrible nihilist, a cruel indifferent bastard producing conditions of chaos so that the whole might adapt to its own excrement; producing the deaths of some, usually the worst off, but not necessarily, so that the whole might be maintained in its "integrity". 

This is closer to home than most of us wish to see. 
It doesn't offer a way out. 
For we love to consume the shit that we produce, disregarding originary natural production for an apparatus of our own shit. 
We permit our dreams to be recuperated, if we have any at all. The way the world is, is conceived to be the best of all possible worlds; the train puts this (quantitative, domesticated) quality in the tight light that it really is.

In the end, the train is derailed and the two last "hopes" of humanity, whom had created this reality for themselves via a bomb, leave the dirt that is train-civilization, and embark on a new reality, fully external, fully Outside (the train). It is not clear why fur coats would all of a sudden be sufficient in ridiculously cold temperatures, temperatures that had been earlier marked by dead snow-humyns that had once escaped; but perhaps death is better than this life...Perhaps there is an unspoken shift in reality that permits this move; perhaps, in a deeper register, these conditions are merely seemingly impossible and the entire point is allegorical. Clearly the explosion is not an act that destroys humanity (since two, perhaps more, survive). And since the avalanche wasn't intentional, the bomb exploding cannot be justifiably compared to the nihilism of Wilford, his revealed indifferent shrewd force as the man that runs the entire apparatus by way of a perpetual motion engine coupled to a young slave-child. The bomb is instead a persynal movement to shift ones' own reality, to create space Outside. 

This escaping-act is also importantly passive in the sense that these are kronos-addicts, neither rulers nor slaves, middle class privilege-keepers with some kind of access, yet with just enough knowledge to see this entire world as fucked. Anti-social nihilism here stands in subtle contrast to ruling nihilisms. The final scene depicts two persyns taking action to improve their own being; and with no-one to stand on in such a move, because the world has been left behind, that is to say, the direct link of exploitation has been completely negated, one is free from the obligation of giving a shit about anyone else but oneself and ones' friends and free from a sense that there is a degree to which mutual aid is caught under the sign of reciprocal use-value.

The point that I think Snowpiercer permits us to see is a  difference between nihilism in relation to ruling persyns and nihilism in relation to not falling for the need to overturn conditions, which can never be completely negated by the logic of rulership. That is to say, perhaps, if one fucks off from the conditions, one can be anti-social and simultaneously liberated from the obligation to other people and their needs.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Against Patriarchy, Anti-Oppression, and especially Liberal Anarchism.

We have a hard time figuring out how we are to respond to patriarchy for ourselves because we find the very idea repulsive. We have no shortages of ways to respond for others; but for ourselves, we find the problem to be not really ours. Some dudes behave in certain ways; many perhaps; but we do not wish to be bros; we do not think that we have access to womyn's bodies. We find the entire apparatus to be predicated on false joy. And this is not because we have failed at being bros, as though we were turned off because we couldn't receive the power purported to be already allotted to ourselves. It is that we are less interested in the macro than the micro. We do not wish for power; shared or otherwise. We want to accept privilege that we have earned through fighting and defending ourselves. The meaning of 'privilege' makes sense only in that register. Otherwise it is confusing.

Many will say that we could have power if we wished it to be so; but this in general fails to address the fact of the matter. We despise the entire definition of what they say it means to be privileged, and we wish for none to have any of it because we are not liberal anarchists. But more importantly, we wish for none to have any of it because such would mean that others would then have power over us, which is repulsive. Therefore, our non-organizational activism is to destroy all of it; not so that power might assemble, privileging men; but so that none but ourselves will gain purchase over our own desires. In short, we are unapologetic individualists.

Our main argument against anti-oppression is that we are not structuralists. We do not feel power, and we are not allured by it because this would mean power over others whom should, by definition, have the capacity to go it alone. We do not will to enslave others because such would mean that we need others to have power, which is false. Besides, depending on others is foolish given that they have the freedom to dissociate; and only potential police would will it otherwise. And we hate pigs, and do not wish to hate ourselves.

We do not care for anti-oppression because we are not foolish enough to think that our views and the world we might design is good enough for free spirits. We think iconoclasm is valuable and we wish to see utopias turned into dystopias only until whatever-being is established, without positivity.

A friend of mine recently spoke on the topic of feminism and suggested that if you do not accept the terms of social organizing--which doesn't mean organic becoming, but rather, becoming an organ and so fixed and domesticated--you have to accept the consequences. But shouldn't we relish at the opportunity to test our capacity? So someone comes at you! Joyous! And what of the consequences? If one is attacked under the banner of anti-oppression, whatever the reasons, one has the opportunity to wage war against liberals, which is a genuine privilege! And finally we would be then in a position to say that we are privileged because our desires actually line up with what we are! Nihilists do not give a shit about social blocks, social analysis, and especially because they do not care for its telos. I desire enemies because it makes life worth living; and only those that do not cower are worthy of Anarchy. Everything else is a boring liberal program.

I wish to be very clear. The world is composed of individuals. We fit ourselves into social forms with attendant structural nomos, or we are so fit by others that wish to gain power over us. But prior to doing so we are wild bodies somewhere along the line of domestication, which is clearly ontologically disadvantageous, but evidently not clear enough as such for liberals. If we set our marks to the Outside (Cf. review of Hello), we will be in a position to say that the entire thing is ridiculous. Like. Sitting. Ducks.











Friday, July 11, 2014

I'm at 'my' limit.




In the debates over transhumanism there are a few terms that require clarity. The first is post-humyn. One definition of this term suggests that we are no longer modern in the sense of being nondualistic. Dualism, if you’ll recall, was a metaphysical thesis concerning the mind-body problem that was invented by Descartes, of course, not without medieval trajectories. In general, dualism was not present in the minds of medievals because theirs was an Aristotleanism. There is a relation between mind and body, well, to be precise, for Aristotle, there was the active intellect which could become identical with the being of a given form when it thinks that which it perceives. In De Anima we read that the active intellect could become the form of anything impressed upon the passive intellect. Epistemologies in the middle ages would take us way off course, but I want to briefly mention Duns Scotus on the formal distinction. Ockham’s question, inter alia, was how something could both be universal and particular; if particular, then not universal; if universal then not particular. According to Ockham, this was basic to the idea of ontological distinction: the proposition that Socrates is a man simply indexes Socrates, noting, nearly trivially, that the set of men includes the individual Socrates. What then was the mind? Surely not something distinct from the persyn that is Socrates. We could say that Scotus posited a flooded ontology whereby anything necessary was supposited, to use Ockham’s term. In a very precise (and brilliant) argument, Scotus says that humyn substances are <formally distinct formalities>. (If anyone wants to read up on this stuff, I would recommend Peter King, from PIMS). This means that minds do not occur outside of bodies, while Ockham argued that the interior distinction is not necessary. Well, for Scotus, the real (formally distinct, not really distinct) posit was necessary, in the very least to save our intuitions concerning the correspondence theory of truth.

The question of immortality, uploading minds into computers, et cetera, has already been critiqued by the Critical Art Ensemble (Flesh Machine); and there is a really good stab taken by N. Katherine Hayles (How We Became Posthuman), which I will trace later. And this latter text brings me to the discussion that I want to have concerning the fuzziness of Scotus on the mind-body problem (if there is one). For Halyes, and Pickering, for instance, the idea that there is a distinct mind from the body is already confused. The various capacities of mind, as Aquinas would say, are not separable from the body, the least not by any fallible humyn actor, to say nothing of the miraculous agency of Divine Being. Most Aristotleans get this; and so, the question of immortality instantly becomes interesting in the medieval (largely Christian) framework. In Descartes, and it’s tricky, the idea is that humyn substance, a severely disenchanted posit, is already trapped in the body. This Platonic claim boils to the claim, again, a claim, that the mind doesn’t necessary rely on a body. For it is conceivable that the mind could be distinguished from the body: everything can be doubted, he said, except the idea that we are doubting, when we are. Therefore, there is something necessary at root; at least one constitutive predicate that doesn’t belong to world. This, he says, is the non-extended point, the mind. If consciousness can somehow fall into this point, that is to say, constitute it, whatever it might be—and if we could somehow hold it—the transfer into a material robot body, or a series of networks in a computer system, is possible (as in Transcendence or LawnMower Man) and as such, Descartes flesh machine body is replaceable. Here, the counter-argument that immortality, or living in any sense, is not a matter of immateriality is beside the point. Being trapped in a material body of some kind is not the issue for some transhumanists; the issue might be construed simply as the problem that our bodies are aging, that certain material functions require fresh reality, or will so, necessarily, at some point. Whether this living duration can carry on indefinitely, for some transhumanists is irrelevant, to say nothing of the foolish prediction that affirms that such could happen. With Kant we might say that countability or numerable infinity, is a process, an adding programme that never returns actual infinity, grasped once and for all. As LaTorra notes: “No one can know with certainty how long he or she will live”.[1] Hence to say that one can live more than 90 is dubitable; to say that one could, if the appropriate transference has been carried out, doesn’t seem impossible; to say, however, that one could then live forever, making transfers into new cyborgs seems ridiculous.

But it seems that there is still a problem, despite LaTorra’s insistence that what is reproduced in the next state, given transhumanist hope, is not consciousness but brain emulation (207). LaTorra glosses over this trouble by “maintain[ing] that a self pattern could even manifest in a sufficiently complex body  (or machine) that is not human at all” (209). Then we could say that continuity is purchased by maintaining a high degree of similarity, presumably a self-referential similarity, at best, and certainly one that would be sufficiently indistinguishable by third parties.

Some formalists like thinking about the term ‘continuous’ in this way:

1. At time1 we can say ‘here is a humyn, mind body and all’
2. After uploading we might say that something of the humyn at t1 is present in the materiality at time2.

But what?

To ascribe de dicto states to the same thought process is necessary at both times because consciousness is purported to be continuous between t1 and t2. What is discontinuous is this or that body. Hence, de re states ought to be ascribable to this or that, in the exclusive sense of ‘or’. In other words, there is an overlapping relationship between body1 and body2; but ex hypothesis it is nonmaterial. In How We Became Posthuman, we might say that Hayles (redescribed), hit the nail on the head at this philosophical issue. That which is immaterial is a ruse because nothing is outside of the material. Moreover, there need not be a distinction. We are not even yet fully embodied. 

What would it mean for something to be immaterial? 
How could I rule out that it isn’t plainly fully dependent on this brain state? The true mysteries of the universe are closer than we think! And how can I pretend to suppose that if brain is severed, or if we somehow catch consciousness, such would still function? If there are no parts of materiality that belong both to b1 and b2, transhumanism can be dismissed as ridiculous.

A response from a ‘transhumanist’ to this point might be that these are extreme thought experiments that are unlikely in practice. Such is a philosophers’ test: irrelevant. What is not being discussed, they might insist (perhaps) is whether we can isolate an entire body at one time and say nothing of its material belongs to another body while maintaining conscious continuity between them. Like the ship of Thesus, the program is “simply” a matter of addition, with the eventual overcoming of quantitative existence as defining qualitative humyn life. If I have everything replaced, ad infinitum, I’m still out living my fleshy body. So the liminal immortality issue may be a strawman. Or is it??

Against Pickering, LaTorra is arguing that what makes one humyn is not the body but some sufficient patterning process over t1 and t2. But a clone of me, while self-aware, is not keyed to my life-story. Or is it? And if we branch out at that point ‘separately’, like a forked road, it seems there would be two of me because two materialities would be exemplifying my patterning, at least in the initial stages. Which one would then be not me? Presumably, the one that has a lesser capacity to cohere with my previous states, prior to forking. But what if such processes of synthesis and repetition were simply built into the emulation? Well this doesn’t seem impossible. After the fork, would the clone then be more like me than I am? What a nightmare!!

Make no mistake, while prosthetic life, a claimed union between nature and culture, is the rhetoric of LaTorra’s transhumanism, it is also assumed that brain emulation and pattern similarity—so long as we cannot differentiate these two—is what is in play for psychological continuity. So if it is assumed that LaTorra would propose that my existence in a material other than humyn is just as good as those experiences in a humyn body, we might miss his point; his at least is that the two might be indistinguishable. In Transcendence Johnny Depp’s character plays this ‘continuity’ brilliantly, showing technological transcendence in a positive light (ultimately) rather than its opposite. And the main characters are not certain that he is Johnny, precisely because the emulation seems suspect. (Of course, to critique Transcendence, that technology may be good presupposes that technology is neutral; and without acknowledging the continuous displacement of community and autonomy (its origin as a racist raping), evidently by way of a thin consequence based analysis, this claim mixes truth with falsity, if there is any truth present at all. Technology is not rejected in this story; it is left open; optional; a completely concealed origin, sort of like the way in which Johnny is disclosed). So then what of emulation? Is it as good as continuity?

I have two propositions.

1. Possible, viz., that one could be uploaded must be considered in the trivial light that houses it. That it doesn’t imply a contradiction is all that we have. Its practical applications are, as Critical Art Ensemble pointed out long ago, a product of military  capitalism. Only a liberal without a class analysis would be foolish enough to suppose that this is good for anyone but those that seek to extract surplus.

2. Emulation implies that we are simulated. Is this the real deal? Perhaps our loved ones couldn’t tell the difference between characteristics housed by a cyborg and those that were once mine; but isn’t all of this irrelevant? What we want is the capacity to feel, think, reason, and be aware, which is importantly, to be self-referential. Not in the sense of having any perceptions of memories that may be mine; but memories that were actually once mine. Given (1), there is a high degree of reasonable skepticism, that our memories would be doctored according to space saving platforms, to start. But the idea here is that machine-functioning could emulate our present, qualitative, brain functioning. Again: how? And, indeed: ‘does not imply a contradiction’, doesn’t mean ‘highly likely’.  This is the stuff of technological nightmares.

Progress depends on the capacity to transfer wild beings into technological structures. Technological progress, then, reaches its limit when there is no nature present left to shift. But only if we suppose that nature is of a certain sort, say pristine “virgin” wilderness, are we stuck thinking that technology can reach this limit. It is not trivial therefore to make a point of showing, perhaps not conclusively, how far we are away from living like raccoons, or pigeons, hawks, ravens, or wolves; and in particular, those domesticates that live almost as far as we can away from technology.

When consciousness has been uploaded into machines, progress implies mere efficiency, the solution of problems, glitches. It has been pointed out on numerous occasions that this position is completely na├»ve. In giving up the capacity to be wild one is giving up the capacity to resist in an uncompromising way. To resist in a compromising way implies that one doesn’t control the capacity to completely ‘close’ oneself; one thereby remains open to the workings of something external. And hopefully here trust with oneself as controlled by another is warranted. But obviously we ought to be skeptical: why should it be? Critical Art Ensemble made this critique a while ago. Whose Second Self? What sort of movement do others make possible? And is this freedom?—If the means cannot be claimed (only) for oneself, how less the ends?


[1] LaTorra, Michael. ‘Transhumanism: Threat or Menace? A response to Andrew Pickering” in Transhumanism & Its Critics edited by Hansell, Gregoy R. and William Grassie. (USA: Metanexus), 2012. p. 208.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Pessimism!


A healthy dose of pessimism implies that one is rational concerning possibility; that one is sufficiently nondelusional concerning what could be. Anarchic utopias tend to imply not only that a better world is possible, but that a very specific world could be;--and while all this is not impossible, it surely depends on what it means to "improve" something. As domestication continues to weaken our capacities to be autonomous, we move further from the target lined up by the Anarchic Utopians; so to pull back on the bow-string and take aim at this utopic end seems foolish from a pessimistic point of view: it fails to address just how fucked we are. ITS sees this; but their nihilism is not debilitating, pace Zerzan: it is not suicidal at base like fools after virgins; rather, it is liminal, a dance on the edge of possibility without delusion.

To argue that humyns tend to be moral is ridiculous, especially considering the extent to which we rely upon a large nurturing apparatus for ourselves and out little familial islands of indifference. How many centuries have we been set up to fail at the exchange without remainder? To give? To share? This is a difficult process; and its difficulty is captured in the phrase: Destroy What You Love before It destroys You. In general, the statement can be read as suggesting that the felt need to have things that have been imprinted with our very being (how we identify ourselves) is false. I am not that; I am not that or that or that.—I am this; and I don’t need that. Here we are parsing the statement to envision an atomistic persyn independent of what is desired. I like this sentiment for all the obvious reasons; but a deeper hermeneutic implies that even beautiful things themselves ought to be destroyed. Now, I’m all for destroying that which we cannot appreciate, most of culture--if not everything given that all must be negated by the Outside. But I want to live in a world with others that give gifts and that accept gift-giving as natural; a process that should not necessarily produce the felt need to give back. In other words, Not so that I can stockpile, but so that we might demonstrate our love for each other. What destroys us on this reading? The felt need to give back! Yet, here the specter of absurdity is still Present, and presumably so until there is nothing left.--Until I am not. Just this, we might say, is suicidal and completely disregards our rootedness in the earth and the desire to live ataraxia (without pain). Gift giving should hurt, of course—otherwise it’s not a gift; but once one has become indifferent, destroying what destroys you, following the first reading, one is open to the wellsprings of life. One might then pass through the eye of a needle.--Just barely nothing. 

Here there is a bit of difference between those that pass energy in order to receive to give (A) and those that will death on the promise of a number of virgins (B). But these two intersect. Those that are like A and B are those that give to receive to store; while those in A are those that destroy themselves until they merely give to receive to give. Here I am saying that an empty vessel makes one ready to receive qualitative value; and this may be in the form of another quantitative gift, but not so that it is for oneself. Both A and B are similar in the sense that possessions no longer possess us; but only in the former, not the intersection, there is a lust for earthen living generated through negation. Both the intersection and B are at fault for doing X because doing so promises reward. Perhaps then giving in order to receive quantitative value is the terrorist form of life.  

We have no Hope because
1] Others love things, they love their stuff and they love privilege; consequently, at best, given the perception of kindness, these would feel the need to repay, thereby putting the gift into economic terms, which we hate.
2] Our vision is completely non-liberal, anti-liberal in every possible respect; and we see compromise on this point to be suicidal for anarchy.
3] Given 2, it would seem unlikely that liberal anarchists (the vast majority—fuck ‘em) would accept the end point for our pointed bows, mostly because these are too ignorant to understand the health/value of (wilder)ness, if they even have ears to hear Destroy What Destroys You. These fucks build privilege with a complete misunderstanding of addiction.
4] As anti-authoritarians in every possible respect we think the rule of ideology is reactionary. There is no What We Need; there is only what You need; and only You can take it. If this happens everywhere, mass-fascism would not be possible.

Given 1-4 we think it is wise to be pessimistic of what We (humyns) are capable; we have no Hope that the conditions for social freedom could be established. Too much weighs against it; and we are not stupid blind gamblers, light years from a target. However, this doesn’t mean we do not have hope for ourselves. Obviously we'll "gamble" so far as we can see that we are not too far off target. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Love is a Battlefield.

Individualism is marked by rational self interest; and in this sense it seems poised for capitalism. I've argued against this analogy by suggesting that individualism against everything, or autonomy, never arrives in capitalism because obviously the bosses depend so much on productivity, while autonomy merely depends on one's own productivity for oneself. Individual autonomy is hardly on all fours with anarcho-capitalism--if this term even makes sense.

Yet there is a deeper critique that must be considered; and that's the question of whether one can really be in control of anything, whether there really is an agent outside the body, floating, as it were, directing consciousness and awareness. Rather than suppose that one is above the body directing it, like a conductor directing the orchestra, many have suggested negotiation. And this point is easy to see. Consider some of the basic operations of the body. Of course I can will mine to reach for a glass of water; but for the overwhelming majority of what bodies do, we are hardly in control, and very much watch the performance, if we even notice it. In this relationship, which is better read as a hylomorphism, there is nothing in control; there just is negotiation, muddling through. Hylomorphism suggests that bodies cannot operate without souls; and souls without bodies; and we would do well to recall this Aristotelian view, which is prior to religious appropriation. The soul is the original principle of activation; the Breath from God, following Aquinas; and once set in the body, the first cause (since always receding behind myriad second causes) can hardly be determined, as originary, or even as interceding.

The body lays out into the future as a site of possibility; and while the body as formed is actual, its being as such (its identity, or its that which never alters) is never quite present because it lays out into potential presence, like an arrow yet in a non-linear way. The body is unique; and the character within the "unified" totality is also unique; yet this redundancy is reduced materially, not to presence, but to possibility, multiplicity, actual potentiality. The question is whether this leaky body "unity", perhaps unified like a puddle, has the capacity to will, to resist; whether its being hard, solitary, indivisible, is necessary.

On this point I don't think it is necessary to arrive at a conclusion. Being stubborn and full of will doesn't make one more likely to be a capitalist douche; yet it might make one insufficiently social, "insufficiently" open to solidarity. And, importantly, these two are not identical despite what identity politicians might say because clearly there is wiggle room on what sufficiency means. Metaphysically, being liquid, and so, without containment is illusory because we are within bodies; rock hard bodies that can be hurt. Yet, as always, being closed is less preferable than being open. The point above is that we are really metaphysically open, stretched out to potentiality; and that closing, or domestication, is carried out by masters that cut into bodies. Hence when we master ourselves, or maintain an ideology, and in the extreme: when we acquire property and store our very being into our items; in all of that, what are we doing?--Are we domesticating ourselves against Wild indifference? the vast underbelly of the civ-ilege apparatus?

I think we need to negotiate how we close ourselves, given that we are metaphysically open to potentiality, to deconstruction.


Conclusions?


1. I am uniquely detached from being closed because it is trivial that there is no other like "me". Trivially: there is no other assemblage of (philosopher's) atoms that occupy this liquid 'place', and that "assemble" as this 'whatever' being.

2. I am uniquely open to the wild "unfettered" carnival that this body will negotiate, influence, negate, test, and destroy.