I’m going to dox myself, but I’ve got a good reason to do so. You may not know it but there is an occult war raging in the italian accelerationist/weird theory scene, and I’m a part of it. In fact, Claudio Kulesko and me have been fighting to death while trying to birth what we call Gothic Insurrection (from now on Goth/Ins), a form of barbarian accelerationism capable of accounting for what the neo-reactionaries and non-accelerationist insurrectionary anti-politics (Invisible Committee, Tiqqun, Hakim Bey, Max Stirner etc) get right and re-activating the proper accelerationist tradition, in all its Nietzschiean splendor.
This has not been an easy spawn to bear to light, though. Claudio wrote a manifesto about this tendency and I answered to it, a couple of days later, with this cut-throat article. Nonetheless, even though Claudio had been clearly struck by the magnitude of my blow, he answered again with this poast over here. Furthermore, he also wrote this longer poast, about Vincent Garton’s and Miroslav Griško’s work, which elaborates the Goth/Ins themes. It’s all so black metal, it has been such a bloodshed. (Edmund Berger recently wrote a handy bibliography for the whole thing on his blog)
Of course, this account is very much ironic, but there are some real differences in my approach to the Goth/Ins and Claudio’s. Claudio’s version has three conceptual cores: 1) a speculative hauntology 2) barbarism 3) horrorific naturalism.
1) The starting point of Claudio’ Goth/Ins is Mark Fisher’s re-reading of Derrida’s hauntology, but in a speculative light. For Claudio, the future is definitely being cancelled and we are surely immersed in the reek of putrefaction of the past futures-that-could-have-been; nonetheless this is not a bad thing, at least not an entirely bad thing. In fact, according to Claudio, this actives the possibility of a differential return of an un-actualized past, freed from the burden of the present state of things, which he calls, basking in all the paradoxical glory of the term, speculative or Neo-Dark Ages. Like CCRU’s cybergoth or Land’s account of the term “neo-reaction”, Goth/Ins’ speculative Dark Age cherishes its monstrous temporal nature, which fuses the dead, the living and the yet-to-come in one aberrant chimera.
2) From this chronopolitical analysis descends the concept of barbarism and the conceptual figure of the barbarian, the protagonist of the Goth/Ins “lore”. Barbarism is the chronopolitical vector, which moves from the Outside towards the Inside, actualizing the insurrectional Neo-Dark Age and abolishing the present state of things. The barbarian is the conceptual figure which gives consistency to this necromantic insurrectional option, actualizing a past which erases the present condition completely and unconditionally.
3) The third conceptual pillar is a new addition to Claudio’s account of Goth/Ins, born out of his critique of Garton’s and Grisko’s eschatologies and it is, roughly speaking, a re-reading of the theology of Gnon. The core idea is that Goth/Ins upholds the primacy of an aberrant, immanent and multitudinary Real, depicted as a horrirific and immanent One, similar to what Eugene Thacker has dubbed “World-wothout-us”. This misanthropic Nature is absolutely indifferent to us and it abolishes all of our ideations which are not determined in the last instance by it. The Real simply is One and Legion and will always win, no matter what. This re-reading upholds the agnostic stance supported by Land in his account of the Vast Abrupt and the Great Propeller, claiming that our knowledge of the Real is not on the Real, but it is according and determined by it. Furthermore, this conception of Nature banishes all transcendence and forces us in a cruel plane of absolute immanence. No one can stand above the horror of Nature and Gnon engulfs all.
As far as I’m concerned, I find myself agreeing with most of the implications of this conceptual structure. In fact, this turn to a speculative Dark Age and barbarism forces us to move beyond politics towards affirmative anti-politics, rooted in pragmatic tatticalism, Outside-worship and hatred for this world, not at all unlike the destituent praxis promoted by the Invisible Committee, but scaled-up to a global and chronopolitical level and up-to-date with the debate on the Exit option, a move I’m very eager to do. Basically, it has all the good things of insurrectionary anti-politics and all the good things of neo-reactionary anti-politics.
Nonetheless, my version of Goth/Ins starts from somewhat different premises.
1) In my opinion, the time Goth/Ins is dealing with is not hauntological at all. Our time is absolutely tragic. I believe, in fact, that our time, both on a personal and social level, runs backwards, from an already written future to a yet-to-be actualized present. To be more specific, I believe that our time is structured as a sort of catastrophic prophecy, which posits extinction as the only possible outcome of our present condition. There is no way out for us and hauntology is only epiphenomenon of this shared sense (sine I claim that this sort of neo-millenarism runs deep within most of our culture, from Shane Dawson’s conspiracy videos to Grimes’ latest music to our attitude towards the enviroment and the cosmos as a society)of unbound dread.
2) From this, descends my own take on barbarism and Outside-worshipping politics. Taking insipiration from Patricia MacCormack’s a-humanism, I propose practicing extinction as a mode of active and gracious revolt against our present condition, rather than a passive political and subjective predestination. While I disagree with MacCormack’s somewhat anti-modern posthumanism (given that, as far as I’m concerned, modernity is, in part, a process of active extinctionism), I completely share with her the idea that our praxis should boil down to a gracious stepping out of our present condition into an alien state of absolute Outsideness and comunity with the Unknown. Quoting Michel Serres, the key inspiration for this active extinctionism:
Whoever is nothing, whoever has nothing, passes and steps aside. From a bit of force, from any force, from anything, from any decision, from any determination […] Grace is nothing, it is nothing but stepping aside. Not to touch the ground with one’s force, not to leave any trace of one’s weight, to leave no mark, to leave nothing, to yield, to step aside […] to dance is only to make room, to think is only to step aside and make room, give up one’s place.
Barbarism, therefore, is re-cast into a mystical insurrectionary practice of becoming-unhuman, of leaving all identity, all form, all property, all heres and nows behind and get lost in the light of absolute abandon. My barbarism is the ecstatic practice of becoming one with the real movement which abolishes the present state of things, a movement which coincides with the emancipatory and abolitionist struggle which, in turn, is identical with an unbound modernity, forced to become inhuman, actively extinctionist (towards the World, considered as the reified relations of oppresion which structure our spacetime, not towards humanity as a species) and apocalyptic. In other words, my active extinctionism is an ecstatically suicidal modernity, which does its best to overcome its own tragic human-all-too-human state.
For now, these two points have been the core of the quibbles between me and Claudio. With this latest article on Garton, Griško and Gnon, though, I think I need to spill a little more of Claudio’s blood. Also, this attack is ignited by a comment by Edmund Berger, which forced me to realize that me and Claudio have another small bone to pick. Let me quote Ed’s comment:
Very interesting post, Claudio — I’ve been chewing on the back-and-forth between yourself and Enrico for the past few days.
One small point that I would like to offer is that the structure of the myth, in its distinctly Sorelian guise, is not in fact necessarily flush with the proliferation of cosmic pessimism(s) in the present moment. This would be the case if we were to maintain a hard and sharp distinction between seemingly cold and impermeable laws of the real and the artificiality of the myth, when it is the encounter of the two that induces historical movement, understood abstractly as a kind of synthetic production. The failure to engineer myth (the slippage from myth to mere propaganda) operates in the phase-space of the purely artificial, whereas the Sorelian myth, or more properly to tendency towards the myth, is an emergent force driven by material conditions and structural constraints. I’m reminded of Mark Fisher’s cybernetic intensification of Lacan: “truth has the structure of a fiction within fiction”.
It follows, then, that what is pried open is a sense of the future detached from both liberal-enlightenment narratives of progress _and_ the iron-clad doom of the cosmo-pessimists. Going further, one might suggest that both of these constitute contemporary equivalences to two poles featured in Sorel’s analysis of decadence: the fusion of the ‘humanitarian-minded bourgeoisie’ and the ‘parliamentary socialists’ in the case of the former, and the ‘false pessimists’ (i.e. those who are not optimists but reject the central necessity of struggle itself at level of its apparent impossibility) in the case of the latter.
Put into alignment with earlier theories of accelerationism, the continuities as well as the breakages between the two approaches become starker. The break itself appears along the pathway of the transvaluation of values (a conduit opening back to the idea of the class struggle, absent from so much accelerationist thought, rises up here as well). From this point of view, does the Sorelian myth — and its implications for the present moment — not slip from a naturalist position to precisely an as-yet intangible beyond the categories of the natural and unnatural?
This comment, in my opinion, is extremely relevant and poignant since Claudio’s whole poast is actually about two forms of eschatological micro-mythology: Garton’s black mad Catholic fervor and myth-crafting and Griško’s absolute eschatological cosmic war. Claudio’s critique of these micro-mythologies is that, as long as we acknowledge that both of them are, more or less explicitly, apocalyptic eschatologies, they involuntarly show how linear the temporality they are dealing with actually is. According to Claudio, Garton’s and Griško’s accelerationist Christianity is a straight temporal arrow, headed dramatically and invariably towards the Godhead. Both of them are, quoting my own article, tragic philosophers, perfectly aligned with the neo-millenarism which saturates pop culture.
Against this vision, Claudio proposes, as we have stated above, an immanent, aberrant and non-linear Gnon, which no eschatology can describe in all its unending monstrosity. Nature, with its becomings and infinite tentacles, defies the false prophets of the apocalypse.
Nonetheless, Ed’s comment underlines, albeit only partially, an important question raised by this horror naturalism: are we to do away with prophecies and eschatology all together? Are we to naturalize it in order to utilize them? In fact, reading Griško and Garton, I cannot escape the lure of what I consider an important feature of eschatology and prophecy, a feature which I don’t want to get rid of, no matter (or, more accurately, espacially because of) how unnaturalistic it might be, especially while preaching a barbarism which openly proposes a strong exit from this world. This feature is the ability to channel the destructive forces of this world towards the Outside, without necessarily positing a positive image of what the Comunist Outsideness might look like. Eschatology and the practice of myth-making has the potential to direct our present forces towards a transvaluation of this world, a power which hard-nosed rationalism or naturalism simply doesn’t have. Myth-making is essential for the Gothic Insurrection and the continuation of the occult chaos war.
Setting aside the macho and Evolian/decisionist lingo, which is something I don’t really fuck with and I would like to avoid as much as possible, this is extremely clear in Griško’s own article which explicitly posits a practice of a Higher Extinction, an effect-of-trascendence which forces the war-machine to transvaluate and extinguish itself. In a sense, Griško’s writing, if read as an exercise in myth-making, gives a positive “mythological” content to Deleuze and Guattari’s claim that the war machine paradoxically doesn’t have war as its objective, since it pushes towards a superior anarchy, an apocalyptic exit whose nomadism cannot be contained by State politics or party organizations (from this stems my interest in things like the Invisible Committee or patchwork, two theoretical figures which try to diagram these sorts of movements). Myth-making, in other words, is a phenomenal tool to create a conspiracy against this world and this goal, in my opinion, cannot be obtained by any fidelity towards Nature, no matter how chaotic or horrorific it may be.
Myth-making, which is nothing but the ability to produce meaning pushed into unnatural and catastrophic shapes, is a tool too vital and too important to leave behind. In my opinion and eventhough I agree with Claudio’s remark that Garton’s and Griško’s eschatologies are too linear and detach from actually-existing movements, it truly doesn’t matter how many unfounded decision will have to make on the Real: the conspiracy created by the art of myth-making cannot be abandoned. As Klossowski put it:
If some conspiracy, in accordance with Nietzsche’s wish, were to use science and art to no less suspect ends, industrial society would seem to foil the conspiracy in advance by the kind of ‘mise-en-scène’ it presents of science and art, for fear of being subjected in fact to what this conspiracy has in store for it: namely, the breakup of the institutional structures that mask the society in a plurality of experimental spheres that finally reveal the authentic face of modernity – the final phase toward which Nietzsche believed the evolution of societies was leading. From this perspective, art and science would emerge as sovereign formations which Nietzsche said constituted the object of his counter-‘sociology’ – art and science establishng themselves as dominant powers, on the ruins of institutions.