August 13, 2004

Spinoza, k-Punk, neuropunk,

Being a Spinozist is both the easiest and the hardest thing in the world.

Easy, because it is simply a matter of acting in such a way as to produce joyful encounters. Hard, because it the defaults of the human OS are, in one of nature's most deliciously cruel tricks, set against this. The principal question which D/G's Anti-Oedipus set out to answer was deeply Spinozistic: 'why is that people are so prepared to fight for their own servitude'? Meanwhile, Burroughs' Spinozistic abstract model of addiction - i.e., very much NOT a metaphor, what could be more literal? - describes humanity's enslavement to a vast emiserating machine whose interests are not its.

All of which, to come back to radar anomalous' Badiou-doubts leads to another positive way in which we can wrest reason/ rationality back from what Robin Undercurrent calls, hilariously, 'boredom-mongering epistemonauts'. According to Spinoza, to be free is to act according to reason. To act according to reason is to act according to your own interests. Finally, however, we have to recognize that, on Spinoza's account, the best interests of the human species coincide with becoming-inhuman.

Many of the problems with Human OS come from its inefficient bio/neuro-packaging. By contrast with very simple organisms that are set up to be attracted to what is beneficial to them and to flee from what is hostile to them, human beings have a convoluted system for processing exogenous and endogenous stimuli, routed/ rooted in the arborescent central nervous system running out of the spine and overseen by the brain. Actually, according to neurologists the brain is in effect, three distinct brains - 'the "reptilian brain," which is responsible for basic survival functions, such as breathing, sleeping, eating, the "mammalian brain," which encompasses neural units associated with social emotions, and the "hominid" brain, which is unique to humans and includes much of our oversized cortex -- the thin, folded, layer covering the brain that is responsible for such "higher" functions as language, consciousness and long-term planning'. Neurology also gives a rigorously materialist account of the thanatoidal confusions between desire and prohibition that Lacan and Zizek have described.

Crucially for Burroughs' analysis, it provides an account of why humans are so endemically prone to addictive behaviour. This is because there are actually two separate circuits, one for motivation and one liking. In the latter stages of addiction, you want to consume the drug, but it is improbable that you will also like jacking up. Add all this up, and you pretty much have a neuronic recipe for the unremitting misery, hatred and violence that have characterised human history.Nietzsche said that if animals could describe the human species they would call it 'the sad creature.'


Yet, precisely because of this hideously collocated morbid assemblage, the human contains a potential for destratification which the functionally streamlined simple organism lacks. This is where Spinoza converges with cyberpunk, and hence with Deleuze-Guattari, cyberpunk's main theoretical program. One of the consequences of Spinoza's analysis, as I said before, is that human beings' emotion-generating hardware can be understood using the same causal framework that is applied to the so-called natural world. In the twentieth century, cybernetics will make the same discovery.

But let's dispense with one of the lazy, hazy assumptions we're all prone to fall into whenever we hear the word 'cybernetics'. Cybernetics does not only refer to technical machines. Wiener call it the study of control and communication in animals and machines (btw: why leave out plants?). Its principal discovery is 'feedback' - a system's capacity to reflect and act upon its own performance. So, as Luke and I were discussing the other day, the whole point of cybernetics is that nothing is 'more cybernetic' than anything else. There are only systems with more or less feedback, and diffferent types of feedback (k+, k-, k0.) So if the word 'cybernetics' calls up only gleaming steel you have the wrong association.

If cyborgianism is oriented towards a maintenance and reproduction of the organism and its homeostatic control circuitries, Cyberpunk or k-punk (one of the motivations for the 'k' btw is the origin of the word 'cyber' in the Greek 'kuber') flees towards a cybernetics of organic disassembly. Again, let's be clear here. You don't disassemble the human organism by replacing its parts with metal or silicon components. (That's why the term 'cyborg' - or 'cybernetic organism' is misleadingly redundant. All organisms are already cybernetic). What matters is the overall organization of the parts. Do the parts operate as hierarchically organized and functionally-specified 'organs' within a cybernegatively construed interiority or do they operate as deterritorialized potentials pulling from/ towards the Outside?

This latter arrangement is what Deleluze and Guattari, following Artaud, designate the Body without Organs. As Nick pointed out long ago, the BwO is an essentially Spinozist concept: 'when it is a matter of the body without organs it is always a matter of Spinoza'.

One of the sublimely ruthless (=machinically efficient) aspects of the behaviour of Aliens, predators and shoggoths from which the organism recoils in horror is their readiness to ditch body parts when they are damaged or redundant. The BwO quickly dispenses with any features that either inhibit its flatlining slide towards the zero intensity of pure potentiality or which draw it back towards the closed-down depotentiation of the organism. (I have sometimes wondered about the k-punk potential of 'If thine own eye offend thee, pluck it out.') This, astonishingly perhaps, is Spinozist reason.

We can now see why becoming inhuman is in the best interests of humanity. The human organism is set up to produce misery. What we like may be damaging for us. What feels good may poison us.

The fascinatingly destratifying potential in neuroeconomics, then (from a survey of which all my neurology data is taken) lies in the possibility of using it against its ostensible purposes. As yet another of Kapital's slave-programs , the purpose of neuroeconomics is to induce the kinds of idiot-repetition-compulsion Burroughs and Downham delineate. According to Rita Carter in Mapping the Mind, "where thought conflicts with emotion, the latter is designed by the neural circuitry in our brains to win". The Spinozist body without organization program is aimed at reversing this priority, providing abstract maps for imposing the goals of reason upon emotional default. So k-punk is also neuropunk: an intensive rewiring of humanity's neural circuits.

Even if they have often repressed the knowledge, all cultures have understood that being a subject is to be a tortured monkey in hell, hence religion, shamanic practices etc. geared towards the production of BwOs. Paradoxically, the ultimate interests of any body lie in having no particular interests at all - that is in identifying with the cosmos itself as the BwO, the Spinozist God, the Lemurian body of uttunul.


To get super-immanent, then, let's think about blogging. As Undercurrent described it over on hyperstition, at its best, blogging can be a 'participative molecular collective of truly K+ processes (ie buying materials to write about so other people reply and recommend other things which you then write about....)' What has begun to emerge on the most destratifying elements of the blogosphere is a depersonalising, desubjectifying network producing more joyful encounters in a positive feedback process in which mammal-reptilian conflict defaults are disabled.

All of which brings us to this in every sense genuinely sad spectacle. On the side of the BwO, everything is positive, so what use can be made of this animal-in-a-trap howl of outraged subjectivism? Well, at the moment, Marcello is functioning as a morbidly compelling example of how not to be a good Spinozist. Spinoza's rigorous analysis of sorrow shows how the sad are typically not engaging directly and sensitively with the world but with their own frozen images (think of these as being like outdated data caches). Consider, if you can bear it, the way in which Marcello tilts at the windmills of his own phantasms in a flailing, pathetically resentful hunger for attention that is exemplary of how to produce sad encounters. It is a display of that Romantic fetishization of self-destruction that, far from being subversive or transgressive, is the Human OS in person. (nb it is crucial to distinguish the intricate art of self-disassembly from the gruesome thanatropic processes of self-destruction).

Still, in the words of Deleuze's favourite Spinozist formula, no-one knows what a body can do. Maybe there will come a time when even Marcello will join us in this only-just-beginning, inciting experiment in collective identity-shutdown. What reasonable person wouldn't?

Posted by mark at August 13, 2004 03:06 AM | TrackBack

If you had actually bothered to follow the edict of the maxim "at its best, blogging can be a 'participative molecular collective of truly K+ processes (ie buying materials to write about so other people reply and recommend other things which you then write about....)'," and contacted Matthew, you would have discovered that:

(a) my humorous take on Woebotnik was done on a lighthearted basis;

(b) that I contacted Matt to inform him of the piece by way of apology for our recent cross-purpose contretemps, and;

(c) that Matt thought my piece was very funny indeed.

This I think demonstrates the importance of undertaking comprehensive preliminary research in order to support otherwise groundless theorems before voicing them or presenting them as fact.

Or as old Artie Schopenhauer put it:

"Schopenhauer was sharply critical of the Kantian doctrine. In the first place, he held that underneath the rationalistic-sounding categorical imperative lay a theological ethic. 'Thou shalt' and 'Thou shalt not' really are the commands of God. But from theological morals Kant had borrowed this imperative form of ethics tacitly and without examining it. The hypotheses of such morals and hence theology really underlie that form, and in fact as that whereby alone it has sense and meaning, they are inseparable from it; indeed they are implicitly contained in it" (On The Basis of Morality, Section 4, italics by me).

If I were you, Mark, I'd be inclined to stick to writing about Marvel Comics and old John Foxx records.

Posted by: Marcello Carlin at August 13, 2004 08:18 AM

So, because Kantian concepts of morality bear traces of Judaeo-Christian theology, K-Punk's Spinozist propositions are, uh, groundless??? If you're going to try and engage in syllogisms, perhaps they should be, at least vaguely, related to the point in hand.

Posted by: Jay at August 13, 2004 09:08 AM

Also, a query: how do you ally this nirvana of blogospheric depersonalisation into none but joyful encounters with the hyper-immanent personal spats that increasingly characterise the realm?

Is it an example of Kantian morality to act in the way that you would act in the best of all possible (blog)worlds or is it Panglossian schtick? The gap between real and ideal seems imposing.

Posted by: Jay at August 13, 2004 09:15 AM

"Structured in this way, the sylloge compendium can seem unusual. Nevertheless – and just because of this unusualness – it seems to be endowed with a certain positive emblematicism, first and foremost on the level of Spinoza’s extraordinary intellectual accomplishment, which even in these limited and minute circumstances emerges in its rich and unitary complexity, always steadfast in cataloguing, of which there has so often been the temptation to abbreviate and simplify, plunging it alternatively into antiquity or modernity, into idealism or materialism, into determinism or freedom, into rationalism or mysticism, into individualism or holism. But then – if one could say – also on a subjective and personal level of “experience”, on the level of friendships and esteem which sustains the impact of confrontation as well as that of dissension, in the common consciousness – this is indubitably and authentically Spinozian – that the illusory self-referencing of 'solitude' is for humans among the greatest causes of fragility and danger."

Posted by: Marcello Carlin at August 13, 2004 09:20 AM

if anyone else would care to insert Spinoza criticism/analysis more or less randomly, this appears to be MC's source

Posted by: at August 13, 2004 09:39 AM

Yes, you've really disproved my claim there that you're systematically going out to produce pain and unhappiness with your every move. The woebotnik parody was a loving parody was it? Not motivated by the kind of seething resentment that was easily evident in your last visit here when, like some two-bit comics supervillain, you claimed uber-dominance over Matt (along with Simon and me natch). 'I am already their better. But ze world must know!'

Naturally Matt is not offended by it. If he found its pathetically wide-of-the mark 'public school smirking' amusing, that's just a sign that he has all the grace and humour that you lack. But then we already know that.

You see, my 'pathetically under-researched' view of your motives for that woebot post are that it came out of nothing but the seething Underground Man loathing - and self-loathing - that has a grip of you, sucking all your great talent and enthusiasm into a poisonous swamp of neuroticism.

What, for instance, did you expect to get out of this latest exchange? Did you expect to produce more joy with your lovely comment full of spitting hate and ego-defence exoceting?

As for the Schopenhauer quote (interesting isn't it that you should have chosen that gentleman, isn't it,) insofar as I can glean any relevance to what I wrote, it demonstrates that, sadly, you seemed to have fundamentally missed the point. But then rushing around at 8 in the morning to find the nearest philosophy book in a pathetic bid to show that you know more about every subject in the world than everyone else, isn't likely to produce very cogent analysis really. If you think you can 'beat' me in a philosophy argument, good luck. But then again, it's not about winning and one-upmanship here.

If I were you, Mark, I'd be inclined to stick to writing about Marvel Comics and old John Foxx records. Ooo, wounding! Lol! Your lovely writing - which is still fantastic when it escapes the sick grip of Oedipus - obviously gives the lie to the stupid high/low culture divide which this sentence espouses in a - once again - transparent but of course fruitless attempt to damage others.

Ask yourself this: what are you defending? Surely it's evident even to you that you're protecting the very thing that is making you so sad. And we can all agree that you're sad, can't we?

Posted by: mark at August 13, 2004 09:40 AM

>According to Spinoza, to be free is to act according to reason.
>To act according to reason is to act according to your own

But as you pursue freedom, so your interests change (perhaps Kantian Duty is only ever useful as a kickstart to this K+ process, ie guilt might make one stop watching TV and eating Monster Munch for a day, during which new, positive vectors of desire might install themselves spontaneously - you go for a walk, you watch some lapwings, see some spiders, spill some mushy peas in your pocket :) - and since you _are_ the sum of your interests (the things you are engaged in, in the milieu of), how can this be anything other than a becoming-non-self (or in k-p terminology becoming-unself, becoming a real fiction of self rather than a fictional real?

This needs to be clarified in the D/G sense of 'becoming' (listen up luke it _does_ make sense!), a becoming is neither a transformation of an existing substrate-entity ('self-improvement' or the capitalisation of the self) or one thing changing into another entity ('becoming a new person' or the resentful repudiation of one's contingency and history) but a substantive 'becoming-in-it(non)self' which has neither external origin or goal, a metastable process with a nametag.

Flight - (D/G again - there is nothing cowardly or immoral about fleeing, assemblages only change through flight, flight - that is, the refusal of the stubborn clinging to sadness and despair 'because it's mine', 'because that's me'...'this genuinely sad spectacle') - flight is the only _real_ form of resistance)

That blogging can facilitate this flight whilst at the same time providing multiple snares and traps is no argument against it, of course, that's the abstract libidinal landscape of life, the thing to do is to learn how the attractors, the black holes and the plateaus work; then you will no longer (a) subject to them...

A large part of spinozism is practice in the sense of recitation. It's so subtle and yet so utterly heretical to all our defaults that you need to keep going back for more medicine, in some way spinoza is literally 'unbelievable' every day is a new struggle, but just reading things like this post makes it work better, and prove that it works (this, instead of 70s Dr Who and Girls Aloud crit? Oh yes!); thinking is necessarily a doing - spinozan parallelism.

Posted by: undercurrent at August 13, 2004 09:43 AM

Marcello why would Schopenhauer be referring to himself in the third person? Are you sure you read past the introduction, lol!

Posted by: high court judge at August 13, 2004 09:47 AM


It's not a nirvana, it's a collective machine that needs to be continually built. The personal is something that needs to be decoded. You can't leap out to the impersonal. So you expect some degree of monkey howling on the way out. The question is: does it stop there in baboonery and katak cycles of rage-engendering-rage or does it move somewhere else? That's something that is only decided by the continued activity of desubjectization of the group. But I think things are going pretty well in the main, actually.

Posted by: mark at August 13, 2004 09:52 AM

LOL! (Creme? Coxhill?)

So here's the story so far, folks:
1. I post an affectionate parody of fellow blogger.
2. Fellow blogger likes it.
3. Another malcontent fellow blogger doesn't like it and puts biological two and semiotic two together to make misanthropic five.

Seems to me that it's the malcontent fellow blogger who's got the problem here. Descartian logic innit?

I guess that all this proves is that Mark is way more fucked up than any of "us." This is someone who a couple of months begged me to recommence blogging to help with his depression. Wish on. I've got enough to deal with in my life as it is without taking on that unwanted extra baggage. Go see a therapist, go take lithium, deal with it in practical terms.

On a personal level I don't think there's anything to add. Mark and I have had our ups and downs online in the past - I've only ever met him once, with Matthew, and he sat there all evening saying next to nothing - but with this plus his Girls Aloud snarky comments he's gone too far and I'm washing my hands of him.

And I'll tell you something else, Mark; you don't actually know me and therefore you have no ability to look inside my head and work out what sort of person I am. From the rest of your writing I suspect you lack that ability in any case.

And you are so not getting my writing - you comprehend maybe a quarter of the multiple levels on which it works - that there seems little point in your continuing to try.

Let's just agree to go on hating/ignoring each other. Deal?

Posted by: Marcello Carlin at August 13, 2004 10:00 AM

lol=laugh out loud, something you're evidently much in need of, good buddy.

Even when offered a generous spoonful of sugar, you still won't take the medicine!

This time you've really really definitely gone too far. And I mean that. Forever.

Posted by: high court judge at August 13, 2004 10:04 AM

And I really mean that for good. Never again. That's it. Finito. Bye.

Posted by: high court judge at August 13, 2004 10:05 AM

Oh yeah? What you gonna do about it then?

Posted by: Marcello Carlin at August 13, 2004 10:06 AM

(that was my lighthearted 'humorous take' on you, M. Hope you thought it very funny indeed :)

Posted by: high court judge at August 13, 2004 10:06 AM

How can HCG say "Finito. Bye" when we do not actually know each other?

Posted by: Marcello Carlin at August 13, 2004 10:07 AM

But by the use of the term "good buddy" he's probably just another American college dork.

Posted by: Marcello Carlin at August 13, 2004 10:08 AM

it's a JOKE!

Posted by: high court judge at August 13, 2004 10:09 AM

Nah, jokes are things that go:

Q. What do you call six lepers in a jacuzzi?
A. Soup.

Jokes are overrated, even if humour is the very essence of a democratic society.

Posted by: Marcello Carlin at August 13, 2004 10:10 AM

how dare you, my wife's a leper

Posted by: high court judge at August 13, 2004 10:11 AM

MC. just keep copying and pasting out of google. the randon sputtering of a search engine is infinitely more coherent, adult and readable than your pock-marked, bile ridden rubbish. no one's interested so get back in your pram and shut it.

Posted by: Jay at August 13, 2004 10:12 AM

Why don't you go and put your head back up your arse before I stick it there?

Posted by: Marcello Carlin at August 13, 2004 10:13 AM

and the usual irony - blah blah no one's interested BUT YOU'RE STILL READING THIS!

Hahah sucker.

Posted by: Marcello Carlin at August 13, 2004 10:14 AM

can't find that one on google. is it from yahoo?

Posted by: Jay at August 13, 2004 10:14 AM

keep going!

Posted by: Marcello Carlin at August 13, 2004 10:15 AM

>Why don't you go and put your head back up your arse before I
>stick it there?

yes, I concede, that's

>cleverer, slyer and smarter
than anything any of us could manage.

Posted by: high court judge at August 13, 2004 10:16 AM

See Mark the best course of action for you would be just not to mention me in your blog. Don't write about me because it's always going to end up like this.

You want to start an argument you're going to get an argument back. It's like that and that's the way it is.

(Run DMC, didn't do them any fucking good did it?)

Posted by: Marcello Carlin at August 13, 2004 10:17 AM

it's insanely clever.

Posted by: Marcello Carlin at August 13, 2004 10:17 AM

but he was only trying to help you, roland.

Posted by: high court judge at August 13, 2004 10:17 AM

just say no, zammo.

Posted by: Marcello Carlin at August 13, 2004 10:18 AM

It's a timely message for us all.

Posted by: Marcello Carlin at August 13, 2004 10:19 AM

has this now officially become a K0 process, mark?

Posted by: undercurrent at August 13, 2004 10:19 AM

go on, admit it, this has all cheered you up immensely. You should be grateful to us all.

Posted by: high court judge at August 13, 2004 10:20 AM

it's yer actual foucaultian ontology of the present innit.

Posted by: Marcello Carlin at August 13, 2004 10:21 AM

you hideusly collocated morbid assemblage

Posted by: high court judge at August 13, 2004 10:22 AM

come, come, i did all that stuff on Ask A Drunk two years ago.

ahhh, the good old days of XStatic Peace. It fair brings a lump to the eye and a tear in my throat. Do you know...I've come over...all emotional...there.

Posted by: Marcello Carlin at August 13, 2004 10:23 AM

we musn't live in the past though, must we.

Posted by: high court judge at August 13, 2004 10:26 AM

i think he's more of a mobidly assembled hideous colloquy myself: a range of depressing voices that bear only inwards upon his own tawdry, eviscerated un-soul.

Posted by: Jay at August 13, 2004 10:26 AM

obviously that's what I meant.

Posted by: high court judge at August 13, 2004 10:28 AM

it's all gone a bit K- now, I'm off to the Old Bailey.

Posted by: high court judge at August 13, 2004 10:29 AM

Yeah, I'm off back to ILx.

Bye now!

Posted by: Marcello Carlin at August 13, 2004 10:31 AM

He'll be back, the poisonous cunt.

Posted by: andreas beyer at August 13, 2004 10:47 AM

39 comments, and it's only 10:30 in the morning!

value for money at k-punk!

As for the idea that 'I don't know you' or that 'can't get inside your head' --- two questions:

What do you think that your intensely personalized writing is doing if not 'revealing yourself'? The toxic, sad contents of your head are all over your blog.

btw Marcello: could the fact that I said 'next to nothing' when we met have something to do with the fact you spent the whole evening declaiming and had limited interest in anything Matt or I had to say. Completely different to your blogging persona, in other words lol :-)

Most genuinely saddening, however, is your comment on my depression. If you could for once get out of your katak impulse-frenzy and remember what I actually wrote, it was that your writing helped me out of my very serious depression a while back, past tense. Which IMHO is just about the greatest tribute one writer can offer to another. The fact that you choose to make this another ingredient in your stew of self-loathing is truly truly sad.

Posted by: mark at August 13, 2004 10:50 AM

ok robin, i get it now, d/g is regurgitated nietzsche in bad, jargon heavy prose then?

Posted by: luke.. at August 13, 2004 11:11 AM

Lucky old iLx: the Candyman's arrived to spread joy and bring a smile to children's faces!

Away from tortured monkeys in hell, though:

This is highly important:

>According to Spinoza, to be free is to act according to reason.
>To act according to reason is to act according to your own

But as you pursue freedom, so your interests change

Absolutey, there's that whole paradox of your ultimate interests being to have no interests whatsoever, which is intellectual love of God.

Actually, think a rigorous relationship between k+ and k0 is starting to open up here. Processes of intensification = self-reinforcing virtuous cycles of becoming-active. But, paradoxically, such processes of incitement involve less and less agitation: becoming-active = switching on your body's potentials such that it can find overwhelming bliss in very little.

The virtual but never reached 'goal' at zero-intensity is the body of uttunul, Spinozist God or the cosmos as pure potentiality.

Isn't this what D and G mean by saying that the BwO is always tended towards, never attained?

Posted by: mark at August 13, 2004 11:11 AM

What do you think that your intensely personalized writing is doing if not 'revealing yourself'? The toxic, sad contents of your head are all over your blog.

You just don't get it do you? I only reveal what I choose to reveal. To repeat, Mark, you do not know me, therefore you have no idea what makes me happy or sad, in fact you don't have the first fucking clue about my life. "The toxic, sad contents of your head"? Who said it was my head?

Posted by: Marcello Carlin at August 13, 2004 11:17 AM

that amkes sense, thats the point of writing about grasshoppers instead of tv programmes incidentlyly

Posted by: luke.. at August 13, 2004 11:17 AM

Luke don't get Carlin's Syndrome for fuxake lol

you're boxing yourself into a corner here: the advantage D and G have over Nietzsche whom they do incorporate is precisely that they process out the problem with Nietzsche that you yourself identified the other day when you were talking to me: namely his tendency towards vestigial subjectivism and manic depressive Romanic expressionism.

Thing is Luke is not about lack, you don't need to read A Thousand Plateaus. The fact that it's the most heronbone book ever --- you'll just never find that out then. Fair enough lol

Posted by: mark at August 13, 2004 11:21 AM


1)delete all the unpleasantness.

2) agree to leave each other alone

3) actually stick to it

4) no! stop! i don't want to hear another word

(but miss, he started it etcetc ad infinitum)

Posted by: luke.. at August 13, 2004 11:27 AM

If K-Punk wrote about grasshoppers we'd all be happier.

Posted by: Marcello Carlin at August 13, 2004 11:27 AM

But sir, if you don't shut the fuck up I'll tell the school board you try to feel up all the first years in biology class and you'll be put on the paedo register!


*goes back to throwing pencils in the eyes of spurs fans, it's a laff innit wossa matta with you you got no LIFE?*

Posted by: cuntbag at August 13, 2004 11:29 AM

that amkes sense, thats the point of writing about grasshoppers instead of tv programmes incidentlyly

Absolutely .... That's why heronbone is a relentless Spinozist machine, on two levels: cartographic study of the interior of the subject in passive modes/ moods plus machinic manual for contact with the outside. You need both for the Spinoza program to be up and running.

Luke, read this the other day, think you'll like it:

'Think of the sheer multiplication of works of art available to every one of us, super-added to the conflicting tastes and odors and slights of the urban environment that bombard our senses. Ours is a culture based on excess, on overproduction: the result is a steady loss of sharpness in our sensory experience. All the conditions of modern material life - its material plenitude, its sheer crowdedness - conjoin to dull our sensory faculties. And it is in the light of the condition of our senses, our capacities (rather than those of another age), that the task of the critic must be assessed.

What is important now is to recover our senses. We must learn to see more to hear more, to feel more.' (Sontag, 'Against Interpretation')

In other words: Susan Sontag recommends reading heronbone. Or rather doing heronbone.

Also think Sontag and Luke's point is crucial for the anti-capital position being developed here and at hyperstition. Developing more feeling precisely entails being reliant on less external stimuli. Kaptial = progressively less from more. Anti-kapital = more from less.

As for unpleasantness, I think Robin UC will agree with me when I say that unpleasantness is important. If it leads to k + (towards k-) katak wars of embedded subjectitives, as in the academy and on so many phora, then obv that's just reproducing the reality studio. However such mammal/reptile screeches can be k+ (towards k0) if they lead towards decoding of the subject position.

The first and most important thing is to lose the liberal idea of the rational autonomous subject. The sooner we all recognize that we're tortured monkeys in hell, the sooner we can develop strategies to get out.

Posted by: mark at August 13, 2004 11:51 AM

Joyful encounters in the Blogosphere indeed. I wanna hear from Woebot!

Mark, did you really write that huge post on Spinoza just so you could make Marcello look like a twat?

Posted by: johneffay at August 13, 2004 11:56 AM

lol John, but I think you know the answer to that...

it doesn't take me....

Posted by: mark at August 13, 2004 11:59 AM

Forget it Mark. I'm smarter than you and better than you, you can't make me look like a twat, you're not good enough to carry it off. I'm just coming into Euston and you're still stuck in Crewe, that's how far ahead I am of you.

Oh and I've just shown your "piece" to some of my colleagues at work and I'm afraid that the general consensus is that you're the twat.

Goodness me, it must get awfully claustrophobic in that ivory tower of yours.

Posted by: Marcello Carlin at August 13, 2004 12:17 PM


have it your way Mr Genius

enjoy yourself in hell

Posted by: mark at August 13, 2004 12:27 PM

Are Mark and Marcello being impersonated by the same person? Me perhaps?

Posted by: Philip at August 13, 2004 01:09 PM

I'm hesitant to write to this comments box because I really don't wish to be involved in some fight, but there's something I don't understand, Mark: doesn't "I don't eat junk food because it makes me feel bad" (which you were all in favour of the other day) presuppose rationality and autonomy, to some degree at least?

Posted by: Tim at August 13, 2004 02:29 PM

My understanding is that the difference between psychoanalysis and ethics is the former is an interminable analysis of sad passions, whereas the latter is an analysis of happy passions as a step on the way to converting them to positive actions.

IIRC, D&G got the term 'plateau' from Bateson's account of Balinese culture as steady-state rather than schismogenetic, and that the Balinese approach to conflict resolution, rather than "having it out", is to ban the parties from speaking for a year on pain of losing some tidy some of money.

> Don't write about me because it's always going to end up like this.

This looks like the most sober version of this point. You could ask - "Why it always ends up like this?" - either in this particular case or as a general feature of usenet/mailing lists/blogs, but to what end? It's an unhappy encounter, that's all; there's nothing more to learn.

Posted by: rx at August 13, 2004 02:53 PM

wow, Marcello and K-punk fighting over who's the better writer, or the bigger twat? This is like prince charles and the duke of edinburgh arguing over who is more roayl. Guys, shtop, you're both incredibly arsey twats, now give up, both of you, fo rthe love of god, just give up

Posted by: User not identified at August 13, 2004 02:59 PM

Sweet Jesus. Yes, the piece from MC is funny -- obviously a satire -- but how MC can manage to turn perhaps his greatest online defender into a combatant in one morning leaves my head spinning. Lotta insecurity coming out here, looks to me. I dare say it'll all settle down in a few days but... yeugh.

Anyway, about your critique of pure brain function here, k-punker -- you done any yoga?

Posted by: paul "Essex boy" meme at August 13, 2004 04:24 PM

having read this in a five minute gush of blood to the extrmities, all i can say is:

good luck to us all...

Mark, I still think there are 'reason' edges that need bringing into view... will try and post something later. Stay positive#

Posted by: R_Anomalous at August 13, 2004 04:48 PM

Tim: good question...

The issue is that for Spinoza rational autonomy is something that has to be achieved whereas for liberalism it is something that is assumed. For Spinoza the only way we can achieve rational autonomy is by first of all recognizing that we are tortured monkeys in hell. i.e. what do you do? make yourself feel better as a tortured monkey (eat junk food = put on anti-burn cream) or try and escape hell (take exercises = step out of the fire).

Final word on the Marcello situation. And I, unlike some, am resolute so it will be the final word from me. I'm now convinced, sadly, that there is no positive point to be had from engaging with him. So I won't mention him again. If other people want to carry on talking about him, fine. I won't delete the comments, but neither will I engage with them.

If of course there was some indication that certain parties had ceased their implacable commitment to self-destructive production of sad encounters, I would be delighted to open the communication again. Until then...

I don't like fights here unless we learn something from them. The disagreements with Tim Hopkins and Mark S have, at least as far as I'm concerned, produced very postive affect in the end. Clearly this one, however, has gone k negative. End of...

Posted by: mark at August 13, 2004 05:04 PM

I think this is the best thing I've ever read in my life.

Posted by: oliver at August 13, 2004 06:05 PM

I ain got nothing to do with y'all
but that peanut fellow is right

Posted by: Bo Duddley at August 13, 2004 08:08 PM

Paul --- yoga --- I tried but I was too pathetically unco-ordinated and agitated at the time --- now I'm a bit more k0 I might try again --- lol

Posted by: mark at August 13, 2004 08:35 PM

I think we're dealing here with two sorts of ambition. One that wishes to include and converse, and one that wants to write for the Daily Telegraph.

Posted by: at August 13, 2004 11:02 PM

"Demonstrations are the eyes of the mind."

It took me quite a while to understand the use of proof in mathematics. For a long time I thought that it a nicety, an assurance that a theory wasn't completely off-beam. Only later did I realise that, no, proof is a tool of mathematical perception; to explore a concept, this is what mathematicians use in doing their leg-work.

That said, I don't think mathematical logic is a good model. Consider analytic philosophy. Perhaps it is wrong of me to judge from a distance, but it looks like a big, dreary pedant-fest, where the purpose of rigour is less to clarify perception and more to pre-empt ridicule.

My understanding of the k-punk adventure is this: experiences are had; reports are filed; connections are drawn; observations are made; theories are extracted; proposals are devised; lather; rinse; repeat.

[At this point there should be paragraph starting "What could take the place of mathematic rigour here?" Then a snide comment about Burroughs, comparing him unfavourably with Beckett. Not quite cohering yet.]

On a slightly different track, I am put in mind of this exercize, from Robert Anton Wilson:

Buy some ZOOM or LIFT (two names for the same caffeine-
high stimulant) at a Health Food Store. (Ths gives a close
approximation of the effects of illegal cocaine.) When you are
Zooming or Lifted and your mind is racing, find a victim and
explain the universe to him or her, until they are able to escape

What you experience in this "speed rap" is what the head of the
compulsive Rationalist is *always* like. This is the verbal circuit
gone wild and totally oblivious to information coming in on any
other circuit. It explains why most people cannot stand Rationalists.
"Speed" drugs evidently trigger neurotransmitters characteristic
of the verbal centers in the left cortex.

CCRU material tends to remind me of the thought trains that come when half-awake after coming down (or after too much programming). I can just never figure out what to *do* with them.

Posted by: rx at August 14, 2004 12:04 PM

so rationalists and speed freaks (and what's with the legal high guff) share a plateau? The same one as punk, perhaps.....?

If CCRU occupy 'coming down' trains of thought wouldn't it look something like 'shit, feel broken, have to go to work tomorrow, don't want to die, hate Tv, hate adverts, need sleep' etc. etc. Well, that is interesting.

And comparing Burroughs unfavourably to Beckett?! It wouldn't make any sense to do that, unless you were planning to burn the books of the 'loser'...........

Posted by: is anyone really a rationalist? at August 14, 2004 12:47 PM

Hey, let's not get into a katak war about this --- I actually think rx has some very salient points if I'm reading him right.

I think we have to distinguish between phase 1 Ccru (basically pre-Digital Hyperstition) and phase 2 Ccru (ongoing, Now)

I wd suggest that precisely because of that speed-out amphetamine frenzy rx identifies - which was literally true in some cases and 'abstractly' true in my own - Ccru entered a state of katatonic undeath of almost zero-activity between 99 and 04 (there were sporadic break outs, but it could have looked as it the whole thing had dissipated as Ccru drones detached from the machine and became drained by Kaptial-Matrix.

Part of the reason for this is what is being rigorously critiqued (=machinically processed) by the distributed Ccru machine Now (not only k-punk - which in any case is multiple [and multiplying] of the comments box -, but also hyperstition, undercurrent, heronbone and the whole intelligence network. I think this involves two related things:

1. Movement beyond fetishism of cyberpositive (k+) processes. An understanding of the way that 'speedfreaking' and burn out are fundamentally intertwined. i.e. what is at the first order level cyberpositive (escalative, self-reinforcing) will be at the second level cybernegative as homeostatic lockdown kicks in. e.g. a forest fire will in the end consume the forest. Nothing there. Undeath. A different energy economy is required.

2. A slow but sure detachment of Ccru activity from the Kapital Thing. The Thing's excitatory agitational instant-gratification, infinite debt regime locked onto Ccru speeding out of the academic strata.

Where this adventure is going, no-one yet knows, but it sure feels inciting...

Posted by: mark at August 14, 2004 01:52 PM

Also, there's a complex lock in between what it was possible to think in the 90s and the SF Kapital-cyberpunk relation. Kapital only allowed Ccru to think so far in the 90s, Strategically Fuzzifying the distinction between kapital and marketized anti-kapital, and SF and k-punk. Think the 90s bubble economy. But after the collapse of bubble economy (Kapital like many of its slaves is manic depressive) Kapital's hold on culture has been decoded by distributed network cyberpunk activity (like this!). Think blogging vs dot com boom. In turn, this break out can theorize upon the conditions of its own emergence (cybernetic punk), accelerating and intensifying the intensively slow flight towards the absolute stillness of the BwO or flatlined body of uttunul. 'Challenger, or what remained of him, hurried slowly towards the plane of consistency.'

Posted by: mark at August 14, 2004 02:06 PM

GREAT little post from rx there -- well, yes, anything with a RAW ref will usually get a thumbs up from me -- but it's a good explication of the "too much thinking" problem. Which tends to be a flight from (icky) emotion, and especially a flight from, a rejection of, one's self, or aspects of oneself one hates. (NO, MC, I'm NOT talking about you! Put the keyboard down!! :))

And a great response from Mark, especially on the current/ ongoing renaissance of the CCRU current. "A different energy economy is required." Yes. It's one based on emotions and intellect (and, in my case, spirit ;-)) in harmony. It's one based on LOVE.

Posted by: paul "Essex boy" meme at August 14, 2004 03:18 PM

Oh yeah -- two things. Yoga: very rapidly provides experiental evidence of a means of escaping some of the programme you describe in your original post.

And: howzabout pulling some of the best comments from the box as a quick round up of the more relevant/interesting points made here for the general populace. People on blog-news-readers (whatever they;re called) won't see the comments, and most readers won't trawl through 70 entries -- but might like some of the stuff coming out here.

Posted by: paul "Essex boy" meme at August 14, 2004 03:28 PM

Paul, thanks, think this is all HIGHLY salient

(incidentally, yr familiarity with ppl like RAW is one of the reasons why yr contributions to the k-punk network are so invaluable --- I've only dipped my tentacle in, need to go much further obv)

As Undercurrent and I were trying to establish over at hyperstition,
cyberpunk always starts in the middle --- where we are. Where we are is embedded within Human OS, which segments out reason from emotion. The Kapital Thing's lock onto mammal-reptile strata produces the hideously convoluted emiserating (I need another word for 'emiserating' - anyone help?) desire-repulsion circutries described by Kant, Lacan and Zizek. I shouldn't do that, I want to do that, I want to do that because I shouldn't do that... Emotion and duty (=what reason tells you to do according to Kant) are not so much opposed as a mutually implicating, auto-excitatory D/G 'double pincer'.

From the Spinozist POV, reason hasn't got a look in yet. Human OS systematically confuses 'reason' with a literally academic detachment (i.e. non-pragmatic orientation). Yet, as Nietzsche was so insistent, such 'reason' has its own bio-psychic bases and biases ('no-one is less impersonal than a philosopher'). rx's brilliant point about analytic philosophy - 'the purpose of rigour is less to clarify perception and more to pre-empt ridicule' (which wd actually go for the academy in general) shows how such 'reason' is still slaved to baboonery. Now Nietzsche stops there (all 'supposed' reason is actually a rationalization of ucs drives) but Spinoza had already gone further.

Spinoza had got out by positing Reason as something to be attained - a non-human, abstract-material map for escaping identity and achieving flatline communion with uttunul. The analytics are both too slow and too fast - too slow because they have not yet decoded their own immersion in monkeymatic Human OS, too fast because they assume that you can just leap out to reason without undertaking such decoding. Spinoza says you can't. Start in the middle. The process of reason just is about correlating yr feelings with yr interests. (On Human OS defaults, they are not). So reason = emotional engineering.

n.b. shd add that the above take on Ccru detachment from Kapital is not one shared by all Ccru drones.

Posted by: mark at August 14, 2004 03:57 PM

Paul, good idea, I'm on it, will harvest the comments boxes for stuff and post up tomorrow....

Posted by: mark at August 14, 2004 03:59 PM

> what's with the legal high guff

The rather strong claims for caffeine pills, the helpful clarification of cocaine's legal status, the capitalisation, etc, are from Wilson.

To end up with the idea that speed freaks and analytic philosophers are somehow equivalent there must have been a mistake somewhere. I don't know if it's just over-simplification or an actual wrong turn. I haven't met any analytic philosophers myself; perhaps someone who's worked in a philosophy department could flesh out the ethology of it.

I didn't get picked up on the lack of connection between the first half of my last post and the second, which is the thing that was bothering me most.

Posted by: at August 14, 2004 06:32 PM

So, it's all about LOVE? Not very punk....which was always politically motivated. It's a simple point, if yr all blissed out and trying to get happy, how do you stand up to a world you otherwise hate? It just isn't a nice world. Why should you reconcile yourself to it? And I'm not saying it's easy either way...extremes of emotion are a danger to everyone.

Posted by: at August 14, 2004 09:54 PM

apropos of RAW and his caffeine experiment: Has anybody actually met a rational speedfreak?

Spinoza had got out by positing Reason as something to be attained - a non-human, abstract-material map for escaping identity and achieving flatline communion with uttunul.

I'm not happy with this. I would suggest that, for Spinoza, 'flatline communion'would not be reason, but rather knowledge of the third kind, i.e. intuition. Knowledge of the second kind, which is achieved via the action of reason still appears to require activity, whereas once it is internalized as intuition it would seem to alleviate Paul Meme's 'too much thinking problem'. This isn't to say that reason isn't important, but you achieve flatline communion when you come out of the other side of reason.

For those that care, the relevant bit of The Ethics is Book V, Propositions 25-28.

Posted by: johneffay at August 15, 2004 12:06 AM

apropos of RAW and his caffeine experiment: Has anybody actually met a rational speedfreak?

isn't the point that this kind of non-Spinozist rationality detached from emotions speeds out into a self-consuming logos-spasm? e.g. Schreber not as mad in the sense that his thoughts were disorganized but in the sense that, absolutely to the contrary, they were hyper-organized, vacuum packed into a tightly fitting seamless thought prison....

Not kind of speedfreak --- yeh, I've met at least one :-)

As for yr other point John -- once again you've put your tentacle on a very important --- nay crucial --- issue here.

It's not that I disagree with you, but we have to run this all the way around. To wit: it's not as if intuition is opposed to reason (I know you know this, but I think it's important never to let the thought go, for fear of slipping back into a mysticism versus reason DP and be captured just at the point we thought we'd finally left it by the Kantian mainframe)---- rather, intuition surpasses it by including it. By the time you've reached flatline communion with the body of uttunul/ intellectual love of God (ILG), reason, feelings and emotion are so harmonized that your body is a super-sensitive intelligence capable of the most micro of micro perceptions --- in other words, you've become an auto-affecting cybernetic machine capable of micro-reflecting on all aspects of yr performance ---

So, yes, reason has to know its place, it's ultimately a tool, not a goal, and the goal is ILG --- the state where you no longer have any goals.

Posted by: mark at August 15, 2004 10:37 AM


Posted by: luke.. at August 15, 2004 12:44 PM

> So, it's all about LOVE? Not very
> punk....

You're wrong. :)

> which was always politically motivated.

You're still wrong. :)

> It's a simple point, if yr all blissed out and
> trying to get happy, how do you stand up to a
> world you otherwise hate?

Which is both a non-sequitur from, and somewhat irrelevant to, my proposition that resolving the apparent conflict (under Kapital and patriarchy) of Head and Heart is about LOVE.

And if you equate LOVE with being "all blissed out", you don't understand LOVE. (And -- at a guess! -- don't have children.)

> It just isn't a nice world. Why should you
> reconcile yourself to it?

True. Now, what does this have to say about what I said about LOVE?

(Not wishing to be aggressive or backbiting -- just trying to show a conceptual chasm between what you're describing, and wot I'm talking about. On the other hand however -- love is all you need. All you need is love. :) )

Posted by: paul "Essex boy" meme at August 15, 2004 04:06 PM

> Knowledge of the second kind, which is
> achieved via the action of reason still
> appears to require activity, whereas once it
> is internalized as intuition it would seem to
> alleviate Paul Meme's 'too much thinking
> problem'.

Nope. Intuition is not the same as emotional intelligence and self love.

Go on, say it now. As an experiment. Out loud. "I love myself."

Strange and difficult isn't it? You might feel embarassed, absurd, childish. Worse, you might feel NOTHING. NOTHING AT ALL. Feeling, a-voided.

That's Kapital and patriarchy for you.

You don't resolve the feeling vs thinking conflict with JUST more thinking. The solution is rational but not intellectual, uses the brain but engages the heart. And in my view, requires "spirit" (though not a particular immaterialist belief system).

Luke, have you been reading Crowley? Sounds like it!

Posted by: paul "Essex boy" meme at August 15, 2004 04:12 PM

Nope. Intuition is not the same as emotional intelligence and self love.

Spinozist intuition is about somehow grasping the truth without really thinking about; it isn't 'just more thinking'. I have a suspicion that what you are calling self love is what Mark is referring to as the production of joyful encounters. With your professed love of all things RAW, surely you don't mean self as in some sort of fixed ego?

Spinozists don't have a 'feeling vs thinking conflict', just an action versus passion (i.e. 'acted upon') one. On one level, everything is thought, which would necessarily involve the heart as much as the brain.

I would like to ask you what you mean by spirit, what role it fulfills, and the practices you would engage in to get it to fulfill that role. After that, I'm sure we can get into an argument :)

Posted by: johneffay at August 15, 2004 09:52 PM

love is a dog sent from hell.

Posted by: at August 15, 2004 11:30 PM

Surely the issue with the word 'love' is strategic ---- I mean, it just makes me and I assume many others just feel nauseated --- this is partly because of an intense aversion soap-dodging bourgeois hippies---( is THAT enough hatred for you, anon? lol)

so better to have another word that isn't so tainted by horrible associations (think of Burroughs on 'love love love in buckets of slop' (paraphrase) in Tkt that Exploded...)

Posted by: mark at August 16, 2004 10:17 AM