Accel-erationisms: Afterthinking Fast and Slow

To #Accelerate or not to #Accelerate?

Our desired unfolding of non-violence in action and thought operates, of course, with a certain rotational velocity. The wheel turns, the dancer twirls, the moon orbits, all at a constant pace en pointe with the sonority of such spatial silence.

It is not unlike thinking on your feet, or thinking with your feet as the case may be in the 1930 Salt March, and the many other “movements” of history. How are we given to think when an otherwise unknown possibility or proposition presents itself to us? How are we given to think when we encounter a potential mise en scene of violent entanglement, a moment of trauma or an accident, or face an emergency Crisis situation? We will not be able to arrive here in this post, for I wish to crawl at first before we walk, and walk at first before we run.

Sometimes, it is indeed important to accelerate or decelerate yourself accordingly — your mind, your voice, your physical movements — in order to meet that point of nearly friction-less resonance once more. For this point may itself  be in motion outside of us, and as such it is our job to orient ourselves accordingly, and always approximately so. I think it important to not keep ourselves drifting on “automatic” at all times, and instead opt for a “stick-shift” or otherwise “make-shift” kind of thought/action which moves blissfully against the cutting, against the churning gears of an otherwise “automatic” systematic or machinic desire.

In a conflict, oftentimes the standard Hegelian grid-lock frame-work is set up as follows: Not only do you merely disagree with your beloved Other, but you and the Other disagree on the very nature of your disagreements. If we were talking about an instance of game theory, it would be akin to both players defecting, both players failing to cooperate.

This dead-end is almost always a Lose-Lose for both parties engaged, as well as for other non-parties who might have been dragged around in the dust too. How does one escape, how does one find an outside as it were to such a concrete tension? It is like a finger-trap toy, both ends pulling in opposite directions. Even if one end stops pulling they are still locked in place so long as the other keeps pulling back.

My recent proposal of crisis intervention and non-violent resistance, as in my post “Securing Wisdom” (see here), may be thus put both simply and roughly as follows: Finding a point of resonance may allow for a safe exit. 

As a third-party intervening from without, you need to pull the two towards the center in cooperation by stepping-in between the tension. As a first-party engaged, as a transcendental ego, you will need to learn to dance yourself free just as one charms a snake.

One must think to come together, to stand in the middle in order to reduce the tension. Non-violence is fundamentally about stepping in-between when there is a disagreement – or a potential conflict – in such a way that diffuses tension without a show of force. Archetypally speaking, think for instance of a possible drunken bar fight. This synchronous “enfolding” of Wisdom (see here) is thus composed minimally of a balancing of at least two opposed forces in an antimony. When we think in this way, balancing the dialectical and dialogical elements, the composition best plays out its unique harmony.

When approaching a single party from without, it may be done again minimally by way of  ”Internal” critique as well as an “External” critique, although these two categories may, should, and do fail often. Also, the extent to which these may be called “critiques” is also dubious, for they may also be an enumerated list of “reasons” or other markers. I myself have preferred the term “fragments” (see here).

Moreover, other categories are also available as the need presents itself. That is, we have already seen possibilities of three-fold, four-fold, ten-fold, twenty-one fold … potentially n-fold. The bio-cosmist approach, as I understand it (see here), falls just shy of the infinite poetics of acrobatic intoxication, all the while keeping its eyes fixed on “the outside”, the “final frontier” as it were. Like any other scope, it has therefore its strengths and weaknesses. One such strength to note, I hope, is that of peaceful mediation across the globe. So, not exactly “to infinity and beyond”, but close nonetheless – At what cost?

When faced with a strange, new proposal or decision to make, such as “taking a stance” on the Accelerationist declaration (see here), one wonders immediately how to find this point of resonance. Where do we locate it? I should like to demonstrate the best I can what sort of process occurs to me, dare I ever become experienced enough so as to call my approach “Gandhian”.

This allows me to first (1) contribute constructively to discussion, to engage my speculative friends, and to provide feedback in our common struggle. Secondly, I am permitted again (2) to insist upon the veracity of non-violent resistance, to recall and bring to the surface the timeless movements of the life-force in a new context. Yet, more than these two, the opportunity provides me finally (3) with a relatively fresh look at what happens in this place, in the deepest chamber of Hell (see here), in these silent workings of my thought/action. Thus, I wish to use this demonstration not as a step-by-step how-to manual for non-violence, but for purposes of thinking on stage.

I am writing now about a phenomenon called “Accelerationism” as understood in their manifesto with brand new eyes. I have not read any alternative analyses of it, I have not read any reviews or criticisms, and so on. I am more or less familiar with the dark trajectories of their individual work, however. I should hope my position allows me to see things differently than most, and to provide new openings to their project.

Consider the following passage, in this brand new encounter:

We declare that only a Promethean politics of maximal mastery over society and its environment is capable of either dealing with global problems or achieving victory over capital. This mastery must be distinguished from that beloved of thinkers of the original Enlightenment. This mastery must be distinguished from that beloved of thinkers of the original Enlightenment. The clockwork universe of Laplace, so easily mastered given sufficient information, is long gone from the agenda of serious scientific understanding.

But this is not to align ourselves with the tired residue of postmodernity, decrying mastery as proto-fascistic or authority as innately illegitimate. Instead we propose that the problems besetting our planet and our species oblige us to refurbish mastery in a newly complex guise; whilst we cannot predict the precise result of our actions, we can determine probabilistically likely ranges of outcomes. What must be coupled to such complex systems analysis is a new form of action: improvisatory and capable of executing a design through a practice which works with the contingencies it discovers only in the course of its acting, in a politics of geosocial artistry and cunning rationality. A form of abductive experimentation that seeks the best means to act in a complex world.

First, how am I given to think on this subject?

This is a matter, as I have said, of purposefully “Misreading Wisdom” (see here), of deliberately highlighting “critical sites” with certain tacitly assumed values already in mind.

An External Epimetheus:

As we are given to think, this is how we begin doing.

This “given” of thought is to be associated intimately with what is otherwise “taken” from the picture. For Gandhi, though not without falter (see here), this was the question of locating “critical sites” of violence. I will attempt to locate three from this passage.

  1. What of Prometheus’ “dull-witted” brother, Epimetheus?
  2. What do we do with this bit on “post-modernism”?
  3. Why must we return to the trope of “mastery” once more?

I am first given to think: Yes, the one called “Forethinking” (Prometheus) is surely important, but what of the one called “Afterthinking”as well? I have time and time again stressed the need for an “afterthinking” which comes before the fact in the ideas of entensionality (see here) and pre-adumbration (see here). Here, I should like to add the positive influence of Bernard Stiegler, whose work features and gives place to Epimetheus where others would have reserved it for Prometheus.

Will the accelerationists give “people like him” ample room, too? Or, is he going to be condemned and castigated for opening Pandora’s Box?

Opening Pandora’s box a bit more, I am then given to think: Shall we attempt to erase post-modernity from our memories altogether as if it did not happen and try again from scratch, or do we take something positive, some truths, from the fragment we do still have? Do we work through it, and then turn around and work otherwise, do we forget it happened?

Did we learn anything at all, or were we simply running in circles in the late 20th century? Will this new 21st century mastery truly be different, or will this “post-modern residue” catch up with us once more? What about the developments of post-postmodernism generally, has it been ignored here? Have these new thinkers properly understood the significance of post-modernism?

Finally, I am given to think at last: Why this mastery this time around?  Haven’t we had enough? Why parse it in terms of mastery? Should we have abandoned the need for mastery altogether? Ought we renew it or let it perish? What are we doing when we call for a renewed mastery? Is this yet another instance of a predominately white, Western male mastery? If this mastery is about “mission control”, is it too much to ask for “experts” from all angles of development? The perspectives of post-colonialism, feminism, and so forth must be present loud and clear if I am going to proceed an inch with even the smallest of simulation processes.

All else considered, it makes “perfect” sense to pull from the Russian biocosmists, to pull from the desire to return to space exploration (not too unlike a Wandering in the Wilderness, see here); yet, we must recognize the stakes are raised in this demand. If we err, and we will err, what are the consequences this time? Does the shuttle explode with our human, all too human, miscalculation of mastery? What does mastery give us that simplicity of non-violence does not?

With these three general categories left unanswered, I fear simply that it is yet another mechanism of “cutting”, yet another work of genius rather than one of wisdom.

Studying the cosmists ideas personally, having created the Reddit community (see here) a month or two before the manifesto was published, how can I be surprised by what has been published here today? How can I be shocked at all, as a “Leftist” that this would emerge? I will not go so far as to say I anticipated it (see here) qua concept, but yes: It is indeed a natural outgrowth of Speculative Realism and the OOO “aura”, with all of its emphasis placed on darkness, night, nihilism, and most recently the notion of Black-in-Black.

On the Black Universe in the Human Foundations of Color from Aaron Metté.

In short, does it carry with it the many problems of SR/OOO as well? (see here).

However poorly asked, these and related questions allow us to get quickly at the crux of the matter from the outside, externally.

Thinking, fast and slow. System 1 and System 2. Diachronic and synchronic. Thinking, in the span of the Sheaf itself (see here), oscillating as it were between the two ends available. Why not decelerate instead? Why the third derivative, instead of the second, or when some of us like being jerks instead? Notice how the creative influx of questioning more or less flows, how the problems are unfolded loosely as it were from the language of the manifesto itself.

The external critique is clearly going to be one of our perceived, dangerous emphasis on speeding-up; it is a spectator’s caution of moving-too-fast which would be derided by the inside as being among other things “crypto-conservative”. Or, is it actually moving-too-fast, the wheels slipping on the ground as they would from an all too quick start in Mario Kart?


An Internal Individuation:

In a dispute between two individuals, both sides may believe they have reached “the facts” themselves.

The so-called external critique, operating alone, therefore says little more than “I have the facts”. With the internal critique operating in conjunction, however, the two together break the system of thought and demand an elevation or in any event a movement of sorts. That is to say, if our theory is one of sheaves, then our practice is one of everything around the Sheaf itself, around the Thing itself in all of its manifestations of the Real-One.

It consists of being there, insisting on feeding the hungry before the crops are even planted, resisting where possible the influence of corporations like Monsanto on our food, and generally being ready to repeat it again after the harvest. A naive question might be: Why not focus on food instead, rather than going to outer space? Are the writers of the manifesto prepared to address this misreading?

That is, it is not usually a practice of “harvesting” or “mining” as such, but of finding the gravity of healing in and around the site of conflict itself which happens to be the harvest season or the mine shaft as such. It is there not only through the process of production, but just as much if not more so when gleaning after-the-fact. Where to begin?

Perhaps right here, with the documentary Les glaneurs et la glaneuse by the feminist director Agnès Varda.

Did anybody see this coming? Again: How much of post-colonial and feminist theory are the “accelerationists” bringing along in flight?

The external critique merely suggests: There is as I see it a possible danger ahead, a danger with the way the situation has been framed, the manner in which it is being discussed, or something otherwise seen from without.

It is an identification of “the facts” and what one thinks them to be. The internal critique, by contrast, deals with the “clean-up” or “mitigation” of the the harm after it has taken place. Trauma, after all, comes always after the fact. To be concerned with the “inside” is to be concerned with trauma, or in any case the potential thereof. To be concerned with “the outside”, rather, must be marked by a concern with “the facts”, is to be concerned with the perceived violence itself. Is there no violence in outer space? Is that perhaps why it is so desired? Do we risk leaving planet Earth, leaving our global home behind?

In continuation with our Afterthinking, the truth of the internal critique is seen in the answer to the question: what effect may or will this new Accelerationism have? Have we in the process of this darkness paused to do any shadow work, any integration of what lies in below the sea into our personal unconscious? Are we aware of how the manifesto might be received generally, if at all? As indicated by the external critique, questions clearly will abound, such as first and foremost why ought one valorize space exploration in this way? Or, does this doing-away with Laplace mean that we do now have need for the God-hypothesis to return again, as Heidegger said “…only God can save us now”?

J’ai besoin de cette hypothèse accélérationniste.” — Mais, pourquoi mes amis?

Is this new God sought an alien from outer-space or beyond it so to speak? Does this new Wise Old Man have a name? Is it Fedorov, SolovyovChizhevskyVernadskyBulgakov, or Tsiolkovsky by chance? Is it perhaps the “controversial” work of  the “philosopher” Nick Land, such as the manifesto may imply?

Note that this is all a pastiche “misreading” or “gloss” with fundamental questions of non-violence, non-harm, safety, and security duly in mind as the unconditioned ground of possibilities. With the question of space exploration, if anything else, we are reminded of the many failures and deaths which have occurred …. the Columbia and the Challenger among several others. Can the accelerationists embrace non-violence and all that it entails?

If there is a time to hear the call of non-violence, it is here and it is now. Can they come to understand what it entails with their NASA computers? Nay – It is at once a matter of the heart.

Afterthinking Fast and Slow:

I work here with two categories, “internal” and “external”, but we may add complexity to the situation as nuance is needed or otherwise demanded by my new friends the accelerationists.

It is easy to think in terms of “before” and “after” the harvest or the publication because the point at which we are to meet the Other is relatively fixed. When the Other is in motion just as we are, however, the variables increase and one must try harder. Clearly, such a critique of the manifesto will not fly on 2-variables alone, when complex systems typically have several more. Clearly, the dichotomy I set forward does not hold, and I do not wish for them to accept this as sufficient. I am however paying attention to the count, I am pointing to a manner of thinking through the situation.

One, two, three…

Who counts? What counts? It is precisely here where Badiou’s count-as-one fails, for it is the pseudo-Maoist machine which does the counting. Why ought I replace my trust-worthy Deleuzian 1000-Plateaued Deluxe super-computer with a fancy Accelerationist one? Is it faster, smaller, sleeker, or even simpler to use despite its complexity? New apps? More importantly: Have you counted at all the exploited workers? How does it count by comparison to what already does the counting? Who counts? What counts? Can it think through all of this and address the various violences appropriately?

Ninety-seven, ninety-eight, ninety-nine…

If non-violence is to “amount” to anything at all in practice, it is to be thought as simple as counting — and I mean nothing more than this! Yes, even in the most complex situations of conflict. Count the bodies, count the victims, count the survivors, count the hospital beds, count the medical equipment, count the food, count on your family and friends. If the thinking of the accelerationists is necessarily more complex than this, then kindly count-me-out. Yes, sometimes one loses count. Admittedly, counting is sometimes hard to handle when the numbers get too big. This does not mean we do not know how to continue sans violence.

Afterthinking fast and slow means here, in the darkness of SR/OOO, remembering to do your shadow-work even when you cannot easily see your shadow.

One small step…

I have opened many lines of thought here, each one to be taken up on its own merits.

There is a lot of thinking to do, and a single manifesto itself will not satisfy. But it is a start. I am deliberately avoiding the “I strongly agree/disagree with the Manifesto” remarks that have been made by many others, leaving this aside and trying to work with the fragments themselves, as if jury-rigging together a way to return to Earth on the Apollo 13.

That said, I will limit my concluding remarks to the following:

I value the perspectives and dedication of all those involved, I admire their courage and intelligence in the midst of uncertain experimentation, and I do look forward to co-operating with them in some capacity or another in the future. I will, however, stubbornly and increasingly become “that guy” who insists upon satyagraha as the G-forces begin to accumulate in the course of our training. It is a thankless position to hold, but I believe it will come to more or less determine in-the-last-instance (if you will) the relative success or failure of this otherwise bold endeavor.

Related Posts:

One thought on “Accel-erationisms: Afterthinking Fast and Slow”

  1. An excellent post, brother.
    I especially appreciate your resurrection of Russian philosophy and the cosmists in particular (though of course I would have appreciated more Berdyaev ;)). When you say you’ve opened many lines of thought, you’re totally right. I’m not sure I’ve followed all of them, but I appreciate the opportunity to learn. Thanks again!

Leave a Reply