First, a simple brilliant glowing, then,
a pile of strictly wretched matter, with a taut density that refuses to generate ligaments, a toughness that can’t be decomposed, overcooked meat at the base of the world,
And then a glow articulated in parts of its nebulous centre by a kind of weightiness,
Then a more clearly defined body smeared across space, but nothing but tense and release,
And then a glow with a darkly inchoate solidity to it, like a storm cloud from heaven,
Then a less pile-like pile of flesh with a growing musculature, twitching now with intensity in a manner unbecoming of rational beings, but endearing in automata, ligaments just possible to tease apart,
and so on,
and so on,
and so on,
it’s generation 10^500 of the human iteration machine, we’ve got to medieval portraiture,
and so on,
and so on,
It’s a double movement, but with every phase transition the surface on the body gets bigger and more teaming. We breathe air. We breathe air deep from our mouths through the throat to our lungs and our capillaries, alveoli, and down to their mucus coated walls, a downwards slinking path to the gas exchange membrane lined with gold from the Sun, Romance scattered prismatic from this image onto the dummies and over to the timeline that demonstrates the extraordinary duration of waiting to happen, from the properly arce- to the just out of reach, and the ineradicable farce of necessity protruding from our faces like a clown nose, one nostril blocked by a RFID tag for a more ethical universe, a system of incentives and checks and balances, and then down again to the membrane in the lungs, where the air is swapped out for its parts and the lungs above have become scarcely visible like sublime unlit gold mines, and the atoms are swapped out for their elements, and then particles, and then generalised fields of energy and then for simple Ideas themselves, no, wait, the lungs are scarcely visible like the abstraction of shipping lanes, I mean, and even here, I find, 6 dark halls deep in Lovecraftian depths, down from the feast of human swamps, polite engaging Deleuzians sweetly backchanneling, ‘if there is to be liberation in the UK it will ultimately require the end of the strong nuclear force’, and then still further down we breathe to a play of vibrations across the threshold of attaining structure. Up top, gasping. Hello informational substrate. Hello limit approaching. Hello stage Omega-minus on the John Barrow Microdimensional Mastery scale, where humans get to interact directly with the big lever and the small colourful button at the foot of all that is, and there, at this limit, is where the body in the driving seat is exactly what you think a human is, we will all be dissolved. I am in the car with you, your neck and mine pushed up against the back of the seat with the speed and I am trying to think about:
1) The patterns of tension in the body at the muscular and glandular level, and how they are changed in relation to different bits of culture. For example:
- You are sitting in a concert hall, upright and attentive, a mark of the civilised, but mired in a pre-rational mystification and suspicion of the body in general, a fear of its spectral leakiness. Making yourself civilised proves your final unreason.
- You are standing around on one leg at an art gallery, itching to go, a pandemic of self-awareness crisis fries your mind.
- You are dancing all night at a rave, wandering around with the gait of a doll that never quite falls and your teeth are forcing themselves clenched.
- You are cleaning a concert hall and returning again and again the same set of chairs to the same piles, for nights on end, the same deepening troughs in your self.
- You are sitting again, this time, valorising the notion of endurance in relation to performance - taking it up as evidence of a commitment that overrides the body’s urges to stop, the overcoming of the upsurge of bile as the font of all value.
- You are problematising a promethean work ethic and drinking nothing but Huel, rewilding yourself and taking nootropics for work.
- You want to attempt to remove yourself forcefully from this limited reason, from fear of the sexualisation of the body, through putting it into total circulation with all the other bodies it might touch.
- You are policing a rave, crossing your arms and feeling an intense discomfort will later seek therapy for but the hatred is obstreperous.
- Seeming real and seeming unreal are just the acculturations of your physiochemical state when asleep or awake. You are ten miles deep in Twitter bot hell revealing the problematic proto-fascist masculinity in the notion of rewilding already evident to all observers, but regardless you keep saying it, rephrasing, elongating your clauses, hoping something will drop out in the paraphrase.
- Your back aches from sitting in your office all day.
- Yours is a slow death.
- You are on the road to Damascus, and the glow of the Lord in the driving seat is buzzing at you persuasively like a notification light.
2) How the notion of an ‘optimal' subject can emerge from all kinds of cultural intake patterns, like the notion of ‘hunger’ arises from the repetition of aches as a child, collected in the wiring, and go up through the plastic in the brain, now up through the global supercomputer, thinking itself adrift on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, and then how can these notions of optimal subjectivity be critiqued through analysing the cultural violence that accompanies the theoretical history of increasingly molecular understandings of culture?
- like: you stress only the circulation of cortisol in the body as a measure of cultural engagement.
- like: the point of life is to raise some kind of slider to its maximum level, and all those sliders are readable off the twitching of neurons, which ultimately know what’s up, as we slap that RFID tag to the side of a container leaving the depot from the pre-frontal cortex.
- like: all thought can be arranged by the statistical likelihood of their generating tension in the smallest muscle of your body, and that’s as good a sorting as any.
- like: isn’t there a kind of juddering in the production of ever more molecularised theories of culture? Don’t they stick, constantly, and can’t they not account for repression, or for the conceptualisation of objects, nor flee their catastrophic aptness to the neoliberal extraction of value?
- Whether or not 'culture' can be experienced at this very very local level: the contraction and release of various muscles, the secretion of chemicals by glands, and so on, which appears as a both a kind of final stage of cultural analysis by virtue of its supposed immediacy to the actual apparatus of thought, the brain and its tentacular system of electrical charges in the body, no more no less, finally, science coming over the horizon as a sigh of relief at the clarity of the solution, and as the maximally infantile reduction of objects to their parts, an anti-systemic tantrum against your own reliance on the world?
- But what does this reductionism do to cultural production - turn it into a kind of pursuit of these releases of tension in the body?, and how it can be challenged by an appeal to the conceptuality that our experience of objects insists on?
- And what are you talking about?
- And I feel funny. My ayahuasca not fully flushed.
- And or rather?
3) A graph emerges from the limit. How would a future AI, realising that what is extracted from culture is, measurably, something like the general excitation of particular combinations of glands, program us, its pets? What would it think to do, armed with an absolutely micrological theory of culture, and a biotech data collection machine for all of us, and a conception of the mind downloaded from contemporary neuroscience? And itself, whirling in concretion?
4) What are the historical forces that produce the relation, or 'balance', (if that's not an underlibidinised way of imagining the real antagonism I’m projecting here), between the demand, the mass passional demand, for a 'sudden and exhilarating sense of disinhibition', and the inverse, and 'opposed', (if that's not overlibidinised, or even over Hegelianised), demand for a rigour, sobriety, moderation, etc.? Assuming these forces are active and real, what is the current state of the relation between them in the global North in 2018 and who is best poised to seize on them most productively? Us, or the Nazis, or some liberalising force? Forces like:
- Cultural patterns, defined by the
- Technological changes
- Changes in the total sum of easily expendable cash
- Security fears
- Expectations of passionate intensity sprayed into the world by the advertising imaginary
5) What kind of future passions can we predict or design, and in what way can we critique the development of passions? And in what way can we want them?
6) And what then should be our program? What then should be our relation to all the ephemera spilling off the earth as it rotates around the sun, uncollectable, unrationalisable as surplus into future production?