News | Year: 2010

17 Dec 2010

We regret to announce that the Nick Land collection Fanged Noumena will no longer be published in December, we now hope to have the volume available by the end of Jan 2011 – thanks for your patience and for those who have made advance orders. We expect Collapse VI to appear February-March 2011.
We are pleased to announce some more publications forthcoming in 2011. The first two titles are the fruit of an alliance between Urbanomic and Sequence Press, a new imprint from Miguel Abreu Gallery. Urbanomic are very pleased to be collaborating with Sequence to realise these important translations, and further, to develop a more effective US distribution programme for Collapse and other Urbanomic publications. Further details to follow in January.
François Laruelle From Decision to Heresy (April 2011). A collection of newly-translated writings from throughout Laruelle\’s career, which should be an excellent introduction to this increasingly influential thinker\’s work.
François Laruelle The Concept of Non-Photography (April 2011). Sequence and Urbanomic are proud to announce the publication of this text by Laruelle for the first time, in a bilingual edition. More details to follow.
Fernando Zalamea Synthetic Philosophy of Contemporary Mathematics (September 2011). Zalamea\’s book provides a comprehensive review and discussion of philosophical engagements with contemporary mathematics that fall outside the traditional subdiscipline of \’philosophy of mathematics\’.

17 Dec 2010

From 18 Jan – 19 Feb 2011, Thomas Dane Gallery presents a show entitled New York to London and Back, organized by Miguel Abreu and Urbanomic, in association with Sutton Lane. The show features work by Kristen Alvanson, Hans Bellmer, Liz Deschenes, Thomas Eggerer, Rachel Harrison, Gareth James, Alison Knowles, Sam Lewitt, Scott Lyall, R. H. Quaytman, Eileen Quinlan, Raha Raissnia, Jimmy Raskin, Blake Rayne, Pamela Rosenkranz, Pieter Schoolwerth, Amy Sillman, and Cheyney Thompson.

A public discussion event on January 19th 2011, 6.30-8pm, will explore how works of art write contingency into the present, and are in turn written by the contingency of their materials, and how these exchanges interact with other markets – between capitals, and subtracted from all prevision and possibility.

In an unprecedented overlapping of the contexts of philosophical, financial, and art worlds, the event will bring together in discussion Robin Mackay (director of Urbanomic), Reza Negarestani (author of Cyclonopedia, Elie Ayache (author of The Blank Swan), and Matthew Poole (freelance curator, writer, and director of The Centre for Curatorial Studies at The University of Essex).

A publication will follow in February 2011, co-produced by Urbanomic and Ridinghouse, comprising an edited transcript of the discussion and further interventions by artists participating in the show.

More details.

04 Dec 2010

Pest Rationalism

Reza Negarestani


through the human pipe dream …

Roger Ebert, the movie critic whose name I can barely even stand, in his typically bankrupt mocking tone lashes out at the remake of the movie Willard with a simple objection which efficiently debunks Deleuze and Guattari’s philosophical implications of becoming-rat in the movie Willard. Ebert objects to something obvious and trivial which Deleuze and Guattari refuse to acknowledge: Rats can’t be marshaled around, they are unpredictable, they are characterized by indiscriminate promiscuity and unbound contingency of the pest. Becoming-rat only happens in the fantasies of this Doctor Dolittle of pest control. You never know what a rat is going to do next, objects Ebert, not to mention a pack of rats. Rats’ ferocity in generating pestilential contingency is unsurpassable, it is as if nature has finally found a compact enforcer and representative who doesn’t mind being irreverent even to nature, betraying human’s desires and boring itself through the buttocks of God no matter how he positions himself. Rats are endowed with a militant verve for adaptability; they can adapt to any hierarchical order only to turn it to an apparatus of criminal complicity. If god evades all definitions and situates itself beyond all attributes of beings in the manner of the neo-Platonistic God, rats are still capable of sneaking behind him at night to penetrate him with painless efficiency. It is not the question of posture and sitting right, it is all a matter of surprise from behind. They can break into your air-conditioned bourgeoisie dreams by taking the pipes and romping around in the vents. If you build schizophrenic cities they adapt to the paranoid dimensions, if you secure a paranoid house they spread schizophrenically in every direction. They are only mobilized according to an absolute contingency which is marked by double betrayal; simultaneously working against the rectifying movement of social machines and betraying the fluid derangements of a formless nature by dwelling and adapting to hierarchical orders and dimensions when it is necessary. The question is how human desire can afford such treacherous contingency whose sole ambition whether in life or death is complicity or alliance through betrayal. The apex of this treachery to which human desire cannot latch unless within scenarios entailing the elimination of human — or in Willard’s case, ‘ripping human narcissism along with its economical desires and secret repressions into shreds’ – is the image of the sinking infested ship in the middle ages: After consuming the ship to its last morsel of food and the last sailor, rats leave the ship in a mass migration which always heralds the imminent sinking of the vessel. Sink your ship, burn your boats, eat your house, that’s the only way forward.


In the second volume of their magnum opus, Capitalism and Schizophrenia, Deleuze and Guattari claim that becoming-animal is an alliance, a contagious alliance which always registers itself as a pack. Human beings can never undergo becoming-animal without a fascination or desire for pack and multiplicity. Yet rats don’t advocate any alliance with human or its desires. Complicity of rats with fleas, hierarchical orders, humans, grains, bamboo cycles and ships is too promiscuous to be captured by desire, the ground of such complicities is too transient to be successfully accessed or traversed by humans through experience, consciousness, desire or fascination. So if becoming-rat does not start with Willard’s fascination with rats, then what is he becoming? Willard’s becoming rat is a re-oedipalization under disguise. Willard is preserving the legacy of the Oedipus Rex under the guise of the Rattus Rex. All he can desire is an affordable pack of rats which can be marshaled around, what he desires is what he can afford, it is a utilizable or manageable contingency, a becoming already restrained by Willard’s own rat image projected to his Oedipal environment and then reflected back to him in the form of a complying rat pack. Roger Ebert has apparently his own speculation for this process of re-oedipalization: in the 2003 remake of Willard, the new Willard who is played by Crispin Glover lives in a similar house as the old Willard, a portrait of Willard’s father hangs in the family room which is in fact the portrait of Bruce Davidson who played the original Willard. Ebert asks does that mean that this Willard is the son of the elder Willard and that his nagging horrible mother is the original Willard’s girlfriend who now has become a shrew just like her mother-in-law.

Willard’s story continues the themes and illusions of medieval rat folklores and can indeed be traced back to such stories which were extremely popular during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Among these legends, there is one story which is more well-known than others perhaps by the virtue of its enigmatic quality and implicit socio-political critique of the church’s incompetence and self-indulgent depravity during the times of pestilence and famine. The story is rooted in Latin, Greek and ultimately Israelite legends. It tells the story of a wicked German bishop named Hatto who lives in his tower. He is a rat only by anthropomorphic identification of rats, which means he is only a rat by his greed and indulgence in hoarding. Bishop Hatto is an avaricious man who has amassed a wealth ten times bigger than his life time, his farms are fertile, his granaries are full and his dinner table is overwhelmed with food. Once the town is struck by famine, the peasants come to him and beg for help. Perhaps afraid by the imminent riot in the town, he plots for a solution to get rid of the peasants who pester him like rats. He invites them to one of his granaries, seals the doors and sets the granary on fire to solve the problems of these rats once and for all. He then returns to his tower to eat his lavish dinner and sleep. Sometime after midnight, he is awakened from his sleep by an uncomfortable sound, which despite its low pitched subtlety is quite audible. It is like a subdued commotion he cannot make anything out of it: a vague verminous rattle wetting all dreams of humanity. Hatto slowly leaves his bed and looks out of the window, the sky is calm, there is no sign of storm but he notices a strangest phenomenon about which he does not have a slightest clue. The ground is moving toward him with a macabre un-easing music. There are rats which are coming forth from the burned granary. The end of the story is reminiscent of Willard, after devouring all traces of life on the horizontal plane, they climb the tower to seize the bishop with their tireless teeth.

David Falconer, Vermin Death Star (2000-2002)

There have been at least three interpretations of this story, each has given rise to a particular strain of fiction or history constructed on a clandestine anthropomorphization of rats, each an anthropomorphic superstition about the surge of rats in this story — a covert solution to capture rats and ultimately solve their problem. These interpretations have in turn contributed to three political processes. The first one is the gothic story of the returning ghost supported by the monotheist belief in an immutable and indestructible soul in general and the vengeful return of these indestructible spirits to topple the tyrannical institution in particular. It is in conjunction with this interpretation that the increasing popularity of rat stories during the protestant riots against the church’s dominance makes sense. If the pestering ghost or poltergeist of gothic stories always appears with rats or at least accompanied by the sound of their claws within the walls, it is because such a gothic pact has been shaped by the belief that rats which devoured the bishop were indeed the ghosts of the unfortunate peasants burnt in the granary. Therefore, the first scenario is that of a religious or political reformation accompanied by a riot and hauntological insinuations. The animal is only a specter that reinscribes the vitality of human being in the form of an enduring spirit associated with the dead, or the pre-given and lingering trace of the living extended into the realm of the dead.

As a part of kitsch Marxism, the second interpretation does not suggest the return of the pestering peasant ghosts ironically appearing as angry rats determined to overthrow the tyrannical authority, instead it suggests a radical revolution by a faceless crowd of people. In other words, the second interpretation of Rat Tower story insists on a revolutionary dimension imbued with fierce class resistance and sweeping mass revolution. Here rats are again anthropomorphized by a type of resemblance, a link that associates the faceless revolting crowds with the ultimate vermin truth suggesting that vermin and especially rat packs are faceless. The second interpretation takes the rats in the story as the revolutionary mass rife with raw proletarian desire and armed with the collectivity of socio-political class struggle. The third interpretation is that of Deleuze and Guattari’s Willard which is that of becoming-rat: the faceless vermin pack swallows the human protagonist through a secret desire, a pact with the animal, a contamination by the multiplicity or the animal crowd which might be rats, the peasants or the numerous granaries which are the concrete manifestation of the bishop’s anthropomorphic animal desires. These three interpretations have sought to explain the reason for the surge of rats at night, link it to the death of peasants, the desires of the bishop, and his ultimate fate. In doing so, these three interpretations have shaped three anthropomorphic superstitions about rats which in turn have given rise to their respective socio-political processes. Human’s socio-political history, in this sense, is a collective superstition to misconstrue the contingent promiscuity of rats and their consistent rigor for complicity, that is to say, the ethics of the Pest. There is no doubt that like all other granaries of its time, the granary of bishop Hatto has had a thatched roof. Every true peasant and every diligent pest doctor knows that both black rats and brown rats reside in thatching of the roof, the cool temperature of the thatch satisfies the required temperature of rats. In addition, the thatch is a short-term nutrient resource for rats. It gives rats the opportunity to access the content of the granary and move from one granary to another. By inhibiting the thatch of the granary, they transform the verticality of the roof to an ultimate tactical vantage point from which they can dissipate the ferocity of the pack at night. The irony of humanity is that it only looks for rats either inside its food stock or at the bottom in the basement or the sewer, because it is convinced that the top has already been secured either by the sovereignty of god or the inferiority of the animal.

The only reason that fire in the granary did not exterminate rats was because they were somewhere between inside and outside, they had adapted to a vague verticality which demonstrated their complicity with the food hierarchy — a transient alliance ready to nullify itself in a favor of a new complicity with a new territory, a new alliance whose radical treachery is always ready to unfold. The difference between rats and humans sublimates in their ultimate relationship with their food resource: Whilst humans are burned alive inside their own food stock, the complicity of rats with the verticality of the roof gives them an opportunity to be signaled by the smoke and leave the food stock for good. Alerted by the smoke of the fire in the granary, rats break their alliance with the thatched roof of the food stock and migrate to a new zone of complicity. From here the fate of Bishop Hatto and Willard cannot be explained by those three socio-political rat superstitions anymore: rats which have migrated from the granary are moving to the closest territory, which this time happens to be occupied by humans. There is nothing personal in what happens to Bishop Hatto or Willard, the human protagonist is a temporary obstacle in the chain of complicities which rats undertake to unfold unheard-of epidemics. The human obstacle is as transient as promiscuous complicities of rats.

At the time of the great plague of London, rats had linked a major part of the city through the burrows they had dug in the connected thatched roofs through which they could disseminate plague and deliver it to every corner of the city with an inhuman efficiency. An accident caused by a fortunate negligence initiated a fire which soon spread across the city and ended the plague by making rats leave the food stocks and households of London. Only then the architects of the city found out the relationship between hoards of raging rats, the thatches, the fire and rare cases of mutilation by unstoppable hoards of rats. They redesigned the city with a new architecture in which structures had solid roofs and ceiling but they also had drains, sewers and secret ventilations. The frequently discussed rats’ bottom-up invasions, from sewer or basement to the surface which are reminiscent of libidinal surges against the ego only follow the initial vertical model of rats settlement as twists of the animal promiscuity in regard to architectural shifts. It seems that our socio-political and philosophical understanding of rats is still bound to the popular superstitions before the time of great plague of London; the animal is still a food for our mysticism. Because we still explain rats’ inherent contingency and impersonal complicities by such lame superstitions which are completely blind to the system of Pest’s causation: Rats inhabit the thatch of the granary as a result of their inherent multiplicity or packhood which is always pregnant with epidemic and mass-degenerating potentials. The next incident that happens is the fire inside the granary whose smoke alerts the roof inhabitants, rats reassemble the hoard for migration to the neighboring territory which in this case is that of human. Who even mentioned humans in the system of Pest’s causation as a primary or even a secondary cause?

There is an absurd mystical insistence to associate the epidemic ferocity of rats with the violent erosions of Bourgeoisie dimensions of society or even ridiculously going so far as to claim that rats represent the Asiatic Other or its specter which cannot be incorporated within the West other than by an inferiorization which sooner or later causes cataclysmic eruptions from the bottom. The problem with such observations is that they are incapable of grasping the Pest’s causation as a spontaneous model of complicity and radical promiscuity. The Orient has been ravaged by rats as much as the West; if the Orient maintains some sort of mastery over the West at the expense of rats, it is because it has always secretly expunged its body counts or has given rats attributes and powers reminiscent of pantheistic gods. Rats are as avid to gnaw at the foundations of Christianity as they are avid to brush their plague and urine soaked skin against Buddhism, pantheism or paganism. Rats eat everything including religion. All superstitions about rats have an anthropocentric tendency to explain rat’s pest causation by a human agency which is surreptitiously smuggled into the scenario, a greedy bishop, a crowd of peasants, a human settlement, an Oedipal bourgeois who is devoured by rats. But these are only contingently introduced to the story; they don’t have any intrinsic position with rats’ system of pest causation. There is nothing that guarantees their presence in the rats’ stories other than their contingent and ephemeral neighborhood with rats as well as rats’ plague-motivated promiscuity. Rats’ erratic mobility — understood as a precarious and contingent embracing of localities driven by the will of the open — dissipates differential intensities into the yawning extensity of space. Deleuze’s Willard conforms to human superstitions of the animal insofar as it imposes the necessity of human being — as a virtual or ideal determination or difference — on the katabatic opportunism of the animal-rats that goes beyond the power principle, but it is precisely the contingent promiscuity of rats which terminates the necessity of human beings and deprives the affect between the animal and human of its power to channel human desire as a participating determinant for becoming-rat.

For humans, reason is the ratio between the Intellect and Being; for rats, however, the reason is the plague-dissipating versatility between Being and the Outside which manifests as the ratio between the voracity of the jaw and the headless mobility of the tail. If rats are ideal carriers for dissipating epidemics through complicity, it is because for them the role of head is supplanted by that of the tail. Tail enables rats to acquire the power of sudden jumps which in turn mobilize the rats both vertically and horizontally, rats next to each other and rats atop each other. This spatial mobilization grants the pack an incredible contagious potency since rats are constantly contaminated by urine and defecation of those rats which jump on top of them. The line between the belly and the back or the inside and outside is dissolved with the diseased excretion of the animal. Rat tail in this sense is the warrant for the dissolution of the volumetric body into the gaseous plasticity of the epidemic. This type of reason between head and tail causes catastrophes of epic proportions when rats and xenopsylla cheopis enter into complicity with one another. Black rats which carry rat fleas both feed on and settle in grains, their burrowing movements in grains cause their hair to rub against grains and thoroughly contaminate them by the diseased urine and excrement. Feeding on the tainted grain acts as a catalyst since it increases the rate of infection among rats in a way that rats begin to die in massive numbers, a phenomenon known as rat die-off. The abrupt die-off results in migration of fleas to the surviving rats so that the number of fleas on each rat increases from about seven up to one hundred. This in turn causes a population explosion among fleas backed up by the failing immunity system of the animal which cannot tackle with the outsider any longer. The pest’s chain reaction culminates in the extinction of rats and the migration of fleas to the second favorable host which happens to be human. Rats unconditionally hold onto the ethics of complicity throughout their life and exercise the ascesis of Pest Rationalism in their death./November 2008

17 Oct 2010

More news, from INSTAL, of an ambitious and unpredictable experiment to be conducted with Glasgow Open School, Mattin and Ray Brassier at the festival in Glasgow in November:
A major 3.5hr performance, developed from collective workshops. Put something at stake! Get involved!
Ray: The most interesting radical philosopher in Europe?
Mattin: The most provocative noise improviser around? “John Cage meets Dan Graham” – Andrea Fraser.
Glasgow Open School: A radical fringe to INSTAL 10?
PLUS: (loads of ?) people from workshops held in the run up to this event: may include you.
Radical, collective “performances” to close the festival, by Mattin, Ray and a loads of people from Glasgow, born from a collective investigation of noise and improvisation in social and political terms. “Performances” worked up by all the people from the workshops.
Here\’s how we\’re going to do it:
Take Part: Workshop Series
Ray and Mattin will ask some questions that we will try to answer together before, during and after INSTAL with Glasgow Open School, other artists at the festival and (we hope) you.
GOS are already thinking about this, but join in at any time (limited spaces, see below) and attend GOS���s regular meetings. See for details.
During INSTAL, there will be three workshops where the questions will be interrogated together with Mattin and Ray.
Want to take part? It only works if you come to all three workshops, plus Sunday night.
Limited space for the FREE workshops. Interested or want to find out more? Email
Watch: Collective Performances 1.
These workshops will lead to “performances” by the people involved: improvising with the “festival” as a concert; taking the most radical ideas of improvisation and noise, and applying them together to our social interaction.
The last hours of INSTAL will be handed to this group: the material conditions (time, space, facilities, audience…) are the instruments, from there anything can happen.
This may be the riskiest, most open and collective performance at any INSTAL. Totally self-organised by the group. A festival within a festival.
A Non-Festival?
Mattin and three other artists did a similar kind of thing at our Kill Your Timid Notion festival: it was one of the most exciting performances we have ever put on. Naturally: we want to try and go further.
It\’s the most radical thing we can do: a major experiment with the ideas of experimental music, music festivals and how they re- late to our situation. A collective “performance” developed by you? And however unlikely and un-musical the outcome might seem, (and maybe the last hours of INSTAL will be almost un- recognisable as noise, or as improvisation as we hear it today), if we take the ideas of improvisation and noise seriously, then whatever we do will be radically, immanently and exactly that; it will be a noise concert, it will be improvisation, and it will be music.
Workshop Series
Thursday 11: 19:30 – 23:00
Saturday 13: 10:00 – 13:30
Sunday 14: 10:00 – 13:30
Interested in taking part? Email to register your interest and find out more.

28 Sep 2010

A new version of Florian Hecker\’s Urbanomic commissioned piece Speculative Solution (see details here) will be performed at INSTAL in Glasgow, Friday 12 – Sunday 14th November 2010.
The event will also feature a discussion between Hecker, Urbanomic director Robin Mackay, and Catherine Christer Hennix, who is also performing at INSTAL.
Full details here.
Braver Newer Musics
Friday 12, Saturday 13 & Sunday 14 November 2010
Tramway, Glasgow
Full programme online at
Book on 0845 330 3501 or at
Day Pass £10 – Festival Pass £25 – Early Bird £20 (book before Fri 15 Oct)
Music is about more than just music.
In fact, any radical music has always been provoked by something from outside: by non-musical ideas, ideas from and about our situation. And it only stays radical if it keeps saying something back to that situation, if it tries to change it1.
An experimental festival of experimental music, INSTAL 10 addresses itself to these and subsequent concerns.

16 Sep 2010

Our thanks to all who attended the event The Real Thing at Tate Britain.
We are pleased to report that the Real and the Sublime parallel labels created by Urbanomic and collaborators for the event have been adopted by the Tate curators and will remain in Room 9 up until Sunday November 14th.
For those who did not make it to the event, or who were unable to get a seat in the auditorium for the panel discussion, we expect Tate to post a podcast of the discussion on their site soon – check here for updates.
More documentation to come on our event page for The Real Thing soon.

16 Sep 2010

A new book Event, Stream, Object, published by MMK, Frankfurt, documents Florian Hecker\’s commission at MMK. Containing essays by Urbanomic director Robin Mackay, and TJ Demos.

The connections explored in Mackay\’s essay These Broken Impressions were introduced in a talk given at Chisenhale Gallery earlier this year and now available to download.

02 Sep 2010


This is a last-minute reminder for tomorrow’s event at the Tate Britain, The Real Thing.
Also part of tomorrow’s event will be a curatorial intervention in which I have also been involved (in collaboration with China Mi?�ville, Robin Mackay, Eugene Thacker and others): The entire collection of paintings in Room 9 which is currently themed Art and the Sublime has been relabeled according to the philosophical paradigms of speculative / weird realism, transcendental nihilism and other emerging theoretical lines of inquiry.
Address: Tate Britain, Millbank, London SW1P 4RG

13 Aug 2010

Before I resume my normal activities, I would like to introduce two brilliant books released in 2010:
First, Re-Imagining War in the 21st Century: From Clausewitz to Network-centric Warfare written by my co-author Manabrata Guha. I will post a review of the book soon on this blog. Second, The Blank Swan: The End of Probability by my friend Elie Ayache who has made a groundbreaking connection between metaphysics of contingency and the financial market. Both books develop their analyses against the dominantly ideological and perhaps even superstitious backdrops of their respective fields, military/security studies and finance. Whilst Guha remorselessly interrogates and batters the legacy of political reason and strategic thought in warfare, Ayache launches an elaborate assault on market-oriented ideologies and probabilistic philosophies.
Re-Imagining War in the 21st Century: From Clausewitz to Network-centric Warfare by Manabrata Guha
This book interrogates the philosophical backdrop of Clausewitzian notions of war, and asks whether modern, network-centric militaries can still be said to serve the ‘political’. In light of the emerging theories and doctrines of Network-Centric War (NCW), this book traces the philosophical backdrop against which the more common theorizations of war and its conduct take place. Tracing the historical and philosophical roots of modern war from the 17th Century through to the present day, this book reveals that far from paralyzing the project of re-problematisating war, the emergence of NCW affords us an opportunity to rethink war in new and philosophically challenging ways.
Table of Contents:
Approaching the problematic of War; A Failure of Imagination: Network-centric Warfare���s Limit-Condition; An Outline of the Book
Chapter One: Prelude to Clausewitz
A Historico-Philosophical Background; Classical Military Theory ��� An Evolutionary Overview; A Kehr to the Non-Human ; Mind(ing) the Gap: Between Guibert and Jomini; Jomini���s Science of the Art of War; A Preliminary Assessment
Chapter Two: Clausewitz and the Architectonic of War
The Romance of Clausewitz; Clausewitz, Methodologizing�Ķ; Clausewitz, Theorizing�Ķ; Clausewitz, Strategizing�Ķ; (de)Constructing War, Absolute and Real�Ķ; The Mesh and the Net, architectonically speaking�Ķ; In Fortuna���s Camp; The Face of Chance; Strategizing Chance ; Clausewitz Q.E.D.
Chapter Three: Machining (Network-centric ) War
Behind the Network Paradise; Network-Centric Warfare: A Preliminary Overview; Semantic Implications of Network-centric Warfare; The Technologization of Discourse in the context of Network-centric Warfare; At the Edge of Chaos�Ķ; On Networks�Ķ; On Netwars�Ķ; Machinic War
Chapter Four: Theorizing War in the Age of Networks
A New Strategic Commons: A Wide-Angle View of NCW ; Two Orders of Strategy; First Order�Ķ; Second Order…; NCW:�Ķand here is the ���beef����Ķ; Inside/Outside the Clausewitzian Legacy
Chapter Five: Concept: War
In an Other theatre of War; Rhizomes: A Concept of Operations; Planes of Immanence: Becoming-Battlespace; Assemblages and Apparatuses of War; On War and War-Machines: Interrogating the Deleuze-Guattarian Thesis; Five Propositions of Concept-War: A Speculative Exercise; A Minoritarian Tactic: Thinking War Differently; Conclusion
Manabrata Guha is Assistant Professor at the National Institute of Advanced Studies (International Strategic and Security Studies Programme), Bangalore, India.
The Blank Swan: The End of Probability by Elie Ayache
October 19th 1987 was a day of huge change for the global finance industry. On this day the stock market crashed, the Nobel Prize winning Black-Scholes formula failed and volatility smiles were born, and on this day Elie Ayache began his career, on the trading floor of the French Futures and Options Exchange.
Experts everywhere sought to find a model for this event, and ways to simulate it in order to avoid a recurrence in the future, but the one thing that struck Elie that day was the belief that what actually happened on 19th October 1987 is simply non reproducible outside 19th October 1987 ��� you cannot reduce it to a chain of causes and effects, or even to a random generator, that can then be reproduced or represented in a theoretical framework.
The Blank Swan is Elie���s highly original treatise on the financial markets ��� presenting a totally revolutionary rethinking of derivative pricing and technology. It is not a diatribe against Nassim Taleb���s The Black Swan, but criticises the whole background or framework of predictable and unpredictable events ��� white and black swans alike – , i.e. the very category of prediction.
In this revolutionary book, Elie redefines the components of the technology needed to price and trade derivatives. Most importantly, and drawing on a long tradition of philosophy of the event from Henri Bergson to Gilles Deleuze, to Alain Badiou, and on a recent brand of philosophy of contingency, embodied by the speculative materialism of Quentin Meillassoux, Elie redefines the market itself against the common perceptions of orthodox financial theory, general equilibrium theory and the sociology of finance.
(Table of contents here)

20 Jul 2010

Urbanomic presents Late at Tate: THE REAL THING
Friday September 3rd 2010 1800-2200 hrs
Tate Britain, London
Urbanomic presents performance, film and other interventions exploring the emerging philosophical paradigm of Speculative Realism and its impact on contemporary art practice.
Full details here.

03 Jun 2010

Ever questioned the concept of ‘complicity with anonymous materials’ or wondered what the first footnote in cyclonopedia is about or what happened to the narrative of the first chapter that permeated throughout the footnotes, then this exhibition should give you some clues. The group show is curated by Swiss artist Pamela Rosenkranz who is at the artistic forefront of Speculative Realist philosophy. The show also includes an installation by American artist Kristen Alvanson entitled Objects 302 which gives a weirder dimension to cyclonopedia���s plot holes.
You can read the press release here:
���Anonymous Materials��� brings together artists who use very different approaches in their practices. But its presentation of their works draws attention to a particular form of complicity common to them, and unfolds its consequences for our understanding of art-production. As the title indicates, the exhibition focuses on the autonomy of those materials which constitute an elemental component in the process of creating art. The show therefore explores art as a material-driven process of production so as to raise the question: How does the autonomy or contingency of the artists��� material influence or interfere with the artwork itself? In examining the conditions of art production, the show emphasizes the dynamics and ambivalence of the concept of materiality in artistic production, rather than deconstructing the meaning of the artwork by thematizing its material substrate.
Neither does this examination of materiality entail a fashionable celebration of those aesthetic effects commonly associated with processual tropes of artistic production (the presentation of raw materials, open-endedness, and so on). It does not rely upon the unfinished status of an artwork as a form of process-oriented practice. It could be said that such artistic sensibilities only exacerbate or obfuscate the enigma of materiality, semantically supercharging materiality in a way that can only be grasped by an audience hungry for meaning. Therefore, these processual tropes reestablish the authority of a privileged sentience whose correlation with meaning is ultimately a complete dismissal of both independency and contingency of materials in art production. As opposed to this approach, the artists in this show were chosen because their practices involve clear decisions towards the problems mentioned. In tracking the traces of production in the artwork, this group show could even be understood as a critical response to a current tendency to be too ���sensitive��� to materials; a tendency that could further be defined as an eclectic approach to the visual reminiscence of conceptual art.
The title of the show is taken from Iranian philosopher Reza Negarestani���s book Cyclonopedia: Complicities with Anonymous Materials. It refers ��� in an open manner ��� to the book���s take on the problem of ���inauthenticity��� whereby the subjective identity of the author is repeatedly overturned and undermined by the intervention of references, materials and narrative processes which enjoy autonomy and contingent complicities of their own. The show opens up, unfolds and reinvents this problematic embracing of materiality by evoking the randomness of functionality attributed to artists��� materials and allowing a multiplicity of relations between the artwork and its arbitrary context. Systematically blocking the tendency for a ���higher meaning��� to emerge, the show resolutely focuses on the active, contingent role of the material conditions of the artwork. The studio-like installation itself explores the process of creating art in its very contingent and disruptive character.
Curated by Pamela Rosenkranz
Contributions by Kristen Alvanson, Kim Seob Boninsegni, Pavel B?�chler, Ida Ekblad, Ulrik Heltoft, Marie Koelbaek lversen, Fabian Marti, Rachel Mason, Ketuta Alexi Meskhishvili, Lucy Pawlak, Martin Soto Climent, Mai-Thu Perret, Urs Zahn

“Anonymous Materials”, Opening 6 pmThursday / June 3rd/ 2010/ Binz39 /Sihlquai 133, 8005 Z?�rich/ Exhibition from 4th June – 4th July 2010 /Opening hours Thursday – Saturday, 2 – 6 pm, Address:

01 Jun 2010

updated 24 June 2010: Sorry…all gone
A limited number of copies of the sold out Collapse IV: Concept Horror are available; these are unnumbered review/hors-commerce copies. First come first served!
Available in the store.

27 May 2010

Urbanomic urge all to sign the petition for an academic boycott of Middlesex University, after the bizarre and unprecedented suspension of several students and members of staff for protesting against the ill-considered and unjustified decision to close the philosophy department. Find the full facts and latest news here.

26 May 2010

Stop Management Idiocy: Middlesex Philosophy Must Be Saved
Sign the petition for an academic boycott of Middlesex University until such times as it restores its philosophy programme, here.

17 May 2010

A few friends responded to the accelerationism post, rightly objecting that Bataille’s general economy is not limited to solar economy or the Sun as its manifest image, and that Bataillean general economy is indeed about cosmic forces, energies and exteriorities. In order to clarify this, it would be best to gasp Bataille’s general economy in terms of its mechanisms and instigators of exteriorization.

This is true; Bataille’s general economy is not restricted to the Sun since Bataille identifies general economy with cosmic exteriorities under the heading of exorbitance (more in terms of pre-individual immeasurability of energy than the excess and the surplus).[1] But this is precisely the problem with Bataille’s general economy because cosmic exteriorities are not limited to exorbitance. Although Bataillean general economy claims to be an economy of cosmic climates, forces and contingencies, Bataille grasps the ecology of these cosmic climates through exorbitant energetic spaces which are commonly found among stellar models of energetic acceleration and expenditure.

It is this energetic invocation of exorbitance as the cosmic exteriority that is flawed; and this invocation is explicitly manifested in the life-dynamics of stellar bodies such as the Sun. This is because, first, exorbitance as an index of exteriority is neither energetically nor climatically an all-encompassing cosmic model of extinction or exteriority. Beyond the stellar domain, extinction cannot be grasped in terms of ‘exorbitant’ cosmic forces. Even the model of stellar death (the iron-trauma whereby heavy and decaying iron and nickel isotopes disrupt the stellar burning process) cannot be perceived within the model of general exorbitance. Second, because exorbitance is always – by virtue of its excess over the capacity of the interiorized horizon – a matter of unsuccessful binding. Again as argued in the previous post, this unsuccessful binding finds its true expression in the restricted economy of the interiorized horizon which in its fundamental inability to avoid the unilateralizing power of exorbitance has also no choice but to afford this exorbitant index of exteriority according to its economical terms of binding. In other words, exorbitance obliquely underpins and implements the economical regime of affordance which is characterized by its inherent parsimony, affordability-driven dynamism and strategic decisionality. And it is this economical regime of affordance that fundamentally trammels the speculative opportunities of thought in regard to exteriorities by enacting a restricted economy of binding that not only narrows the scope of the abyss but also actively and vigilantly restricts exteriority to a mode of binding that strictly corresponds to the economic terms of the interiorized horizon.

The restricted economy circuitously imposed by the exorbitant index reduces exteriority into that which must be afforded by all means and at all costs, yet since such means and economic terms are dictated by the correlation between the exteriority and the interiorized horizon, the regime of binding becomes inherently restricted and auto-positing. That is to say, only a mode of binding or a fashion of dying that corresponds to the economic terms of consumption and dissipation of the interiorized horizon (which mark the latter’s affordability toward the exteriority) is authorized, pursued and wished for. Any other mode of binding or alternative fashion of inflecting upon extinction is actively staved off and thwarted.

Instigated and supported by exorbitant indexes of exteriority, this spontaneous antimony against alternative modes of binding becomes the ultimate expression of any general economy or nihilist philosophy of extinction that indexes exteriority as an expression of exorbitance. Interestingly, it is the restricted image of exteriority as the exorbitant that generates analogous and parallel expressions of monistic binding – that is, pluralistically life-oriented yet monistic in relation to exteriority or extinction – in Bataille’s system of general economy and Freud’s theory of the death-drive. Whereas this simultaneously restricted and restricting model of binding surfaces in Bataille’s system as unsuccessful models of consumption with regard to the exorbitant exteriority (terrestrial life being one of such unsuccessful consumptive solutions), it manifests in Freud’s theory as an unsuccessful, or more accurately, traumatic form of binding of the exorbitant inundation (überschwemmung). In both cases, the unsuccessful binding ensued by the torrential ingression of the exorbitant registers itself as an externalizing incision or cut that dichotomously posits the exteriority as an energetically exorbitant externality against the interiorized horizon that it has given rise to. In other words, positing exteriority as an exorbitant index eventuates in an unsuccessful – that is to say, an economical – form of binding. This unsuccessful binding, in turn, effectuates itself as a specific form of cut or incision that sets the exorbitant exteriority against and outside of the interiorized horizon so that it can never be fully bound yet at the same time it must be afforded as an inexorably exorbitant truth. This incision or form of cut is directly the outcome of conceiving exteriority as an exorbitant index. Such cut or incising wound (trauma) generates a field of restricted economy wherein only a mode of binding that is able to afford the external exorbitance and therefore, capable of integrating the irresistible exorbitance of the exteriority within economic terms of the interiorized horizon is pursued and recognized as a proper response (or mode of binding) to the problem of the outside and the real. It is this exorbitant and external deployment of exteriority that – as it was argued – opens up, aggravates and enacts the monistic regime of binding by reinscribing exteriority within the affordable and hence deeply economical correlations of the interiorized horizon.


Land’s insistence on both escalating and diffusive acceleration of (unsuccessful) consumptive solutions under the heading of techno-capitalism as well as Brassier’s more subtle emphasis on philosophy’s traumatic (unsuccessful) binding of the exorbitant truth of extinction, accordingly, conform to the restricted economy of exteriority as the exorbitant. Therefore, both Land and Brassier abide by a mode of binding that is determined by an exorbitant image of exteriority and manifests as an externalizing, or more accurately, splitting form of cut or incision whose effect is that of enacting exteriority as the exorbitant. Such an incision or cut subjects the mode of binding to the economic affordability of the interiorized horizon and its capacity. By capacity we do not mean the static or relatively variable degree of the interiorized horizon to hold and receive what is exterior to it. Capacity, in this context, can be defined as the tolerance in amplitude of the interiorized horizon which is necessary for maintaining an undisrupted continuity between the excess that gives rise to the interiorized horizon via the originary splitting incision (i.e. the Freudian conception of urtrauma or primal wound) and the excess that subsequently pulls back the interiorized horizon to its precursor exteriority. The latter is not essentially the ‘zero of interiority’ but rather a pull-back or inflection into an exorbitant index of exteriority.

Moreover, the function of the externalizing incision or the splitting form of trauma imparts a strategic disposition to binding of radical exteriority, and this by means of positing the exteriority external yet correlated – under the energetic index of the exorbitant – to the economical conservative regime of the interiorized horizon. When the unilateralizing power of the exteriority which cannot be averted by the organism couples with the exorbitant conception of exteriority, exteriority becomes a matter of emphatic affordability: Since it cannot be deflected, nor can it be successfully bound in its externality and exorbitance, then it must be economically afforded. This recalibration of exteriority as an exorbitant and external unobjectifiable immanence conditions an illusory state wherein ‘binding of exteriority’ is grasped, understood and even realized in terms of strategy or strategic thinking (in its Clausewitzian sense). Yet such strategic encounter with radical exteriority or the unilateralizing real is precisely the restricting mode of binding that totalizes the multiplicity of binding into only one – which is to say, affordable – mode of binding (the strategic one). Whilst for Land’s libidinal materialism, this strategic binding is fundamentally adopted in the accelerationist engagement with techno-capitalism, for Brassier this strategic thinking toward exteriority is subsumed within the still valorized (if not enchanted) figure of ‘philosophy’ and its traumatic binding of extinction qua an ‘exorbitant death’ (Brassier, 238). Here the domain of strategy is consolidated first by the exorbitant conception of exteriority that brings about – by means of an externalizing cut – an unsuccessful binding which is subjected to affordability; and second, through the effect of the monistic binding whereby other forms of binding which are indifferent to the economy of the interiorized horizon are actively and antagonistically staved off.

At this point, one can ask what are these alternative modes of binding if not ways by which the exteriority breaks and enters into the interiorized horizon on its own terms, generating its own fields of complicity, mobilizing its contingencies through the intricate topologies that it simultaneously occasions and degenerates; and all this in absolute indifference to the dominant regime of binding and terms of the interiorized horizon. Accordingly, alternative modes of binding suggest an insurmountable and ultimately detrimental asymmetry with the strategic, or more precisely, affordable mode of binding. Such asymmetry is the non-dialectical identity of exteriority tout court. In every restricted economy, the intrinsic proclivity of the strategic thinking or political reason is to seal itself against such asymmetry for even insinuations related to such purely tactical bindings are realized as anti-axiomatic fits of terror. In his forthcoming groundbreaking book Reimagining War in the 21st Century, Manabrata Guha painstakingly traces the pathology of this strategic thinking among both the so-called war theorists and contemporary philosophers. Guha argues that the unilaterally immanent conception of war is frequently subjected to this strategic thinking which is conveniently espoused by politics. He contends, however, that it is the tactical exteriority of war (beyond the power principle and beyond a philosophy of antagonism) that is indifferent to ‘the politics of this world’ (Hallward). Here, Guha’s tactical exteriority of war can be grasped in terms of alternative and therefore, asymmetrical modes of binding whereby radical exteriority enters on its own and unpacks innumerable modes of complicity and binding within but indifferent to the interiorized horizon. [2]

Strategic thinking has become such an indubitable politico-philosophical trope under whose influence neither politics nor philosophy has managed – to this date – (re-)imagine war in terms of its tactical exteriority. For this reason, both politics and philosophy have remained chained to a definition or imagination of war which is at once naively irreal and precariously antiquated. The politico-philosophical myopia of strategic thinking as Guha suggests is not only passively received as a pre-given decision by politicians, philosophers and military commanders alike but also is vigorously reenacted and defended in contemporary politico-philosophical analyses (see Hallward, et al.) to such an extent that non-restricted binding of exteriority is discussed in terms of something that must be warded off and appalled – for it brings a terror that does not pose a threat from the outside but instead radically corrupts and vitiates the very axioms of political reason and its philosophical supports. [3] Whether conducted under the heading of the ‘accelerationist embracing of techno-capitalism’ (Land) or ‘strategic thinking and action according to this world’ (Hallward) or ‘(military) transformation of future forces’ (Rumsfeld), strategic thinking is distinguished by its peculiarly restricted and restricting economy toward radical exteriority. And as Guha elaborates, it totalizes different vectors of thought and courses of action into a ‘strategic common’ that ultimately levels the differences between the aforementioned political or philosophical orientations.

The grand illusion of strategic thinking (or binding) is occasioned by the monistic regime of binding which itself is effectuated by the externalizing cut that sets the exorbitant image of exteriority against and outside of the interiorized horizon. In order to disperse the illusion of strategy and debilitate the monistic regime of binding, first the order of trauma whereby exteriority enters on its own terms and enacts the freedom of alternative or asymmetrical bindings must be rethought and its topology must be revitalized with a new calculus. This rethinking of trauma or exteriorizing binding can also be recapitulated as a question: How can new forms of thinking be tactically determined by different forms of cut or different calculi of trauma, since there are forms of cut that restrict the binding of exteriority and the ones that tactically expose thought and reroute it to radical exteriority that acts, penetrates and slashes on its own? Although the Freudian account of trauma is a monstrously ingenious speculation in the history of thought, its calculus of deployment and mobilization of exteriority – as it was argued – is susceptible to a form of conservative or restricted economy that is reinforced by the monistic regime of binding it gives rise to. Both Land’s conception of capitalism as a process that repeats and deepens the originary trauma into the exorbitant outside and Brassier’s nihilist binding of extinction through cosmological reinscription of Freud’s account of trauma are strongly attached to the vulnerable edifice of Freud’s account of trauma. Their ‘speculative opportunities’ are to an extent circumscribed by this attachment and by their model of binding according to which exteriority is always reinscribed as an exorbitant index. Here neither the anthropomorphic residues are purged nor are opportunities for positive projects unbound.

In order to break away from the ultimately economical understanding of cosmic forces / exteriorities in terms of exorbitance, we should search for and invest in new forms of binding or new configurations of trauma. Only once the trauma or the unilateralizing cut is remobilized inside the interiorized horizon, it can degenerate the axioms of interiority and its restricted economy. And only the acceleration of such internal cuts – characterized by their asymmetry to the strategic and monistic regime of binding – poses an anti-axiomatic threat against the interiority of the world-capital. Alex Williams’s call for modes of binding capable of ‘maintain[ing] the tension and complex topological relation between the two (organic/inorganic, exteriority and its interiorized horizons)’ correctly addresses the prerequisite for a purely tactical acceleration or asymmetrical mode(s) of binding. Such internal and topologically degenerate tensions cannot be generated by externalizing cuts or incisions which constitute Freud’s rudimentary account of trauma. Because a non-restricted index of exteriority breaks and enters on its own: Rather than exorbitantly sets itself against and outside of the interiorized horizon, it employs internalizing cuts to generate nested horizons of interiority which are asymptotic to its immanent outside-ness. Trauma, in this sense, is more than an incision or a wound; it characterizes a cutting process that generates interiorized spaces nested – or asymptotically within – the exteriority. Therefore, the function of the cut is more of boring through (tetrainein) the precursor exteriority rather than inflicting splitting or dividing cuts. The interiorized horizon (life, organization, organism, etc.) is, in this case, generated by the precursor exteriority cutting itself into a nested space. For this reason, exteriority is always diagonally posited against the interiorized horizon, yet in the same way, the interiorized horizon also finds an asymptotic relationship to the exteriority that has resected it.


In this way, trauma – as it is understood asymmetrically and modally unbound – renders a topology of tension in which the exteriority is immanent more to the inside of the system (or the interiorized horizon) than to its outside. Accordingly, the traumatic cut nests cosmic exteriorities within bounded horizons as inassimilable (hence unilateralizing) yet convolutedly interiorized insiders. The understanding of such topology of trauma perhaps requires a shift from the concept of trauma as incision (Freud) to an understanding of trauma as envoiding and perforation (Ferenczi). Sandor Ferenczi understands trauma not as an incision that cuts the energetic horizon into an interiorized horizon (manifestations of life) and an originary bedrock of immeasurable exorbitance. For Ferenczi, trauma is a form of ‘alien transplantation’ (or the interiorization of the originary cut or wound) that does not restrict itself to the affordability of the interiorized horizon by directly and immediately positing its exteriority against the limited capacity of the system in conserving or dissipating energy. Instead, Ferenczi’s model explains trauma as a positive wave of radical exteriority that on its own cuts a problematically convoluted and nested horizon of interiorities. And this by means of turning the externalizing function of the splitting cut (Freud’s trauma) into the temporarily formative function of the ‘internalizing cut’ which creates intricate topologies of nestedness (continuous internal fissions) rather than externalizing incisions. Therefore, the alien transplant posits radical exteriority as a perpetual anti-axiomatic Insider for which life and all manifestations of interiority are but the topological asymptotes of its exteriority. In his The Clinical Diary, Final Contributions and letters to Freud, Ferenczi even claims that what we know as organic evolution is the inorganic mimicking its own nested topological mobilizations. In another occasion, he remarks that by becoming organic, the inorganic does not succumb to a passive or repressed state but becomes active again by finding a homeomorphic topological equivalence with the organic space itself. This is a far more consequential (and probably more insidious) than anything Freud has ever said about the return of the inorganic / the repressed. Also in Ferenczi’s model of the internalizing cut, radical exteriority is actively inside the interiorized horizon of life as an inassimilable but twisted mobilizing principle. In this scenario, the ideas of successful or unsuccessful binding of the originary trauma imposed by the exorbitant cosmic forces simply become irrelevant – relics of an antiquated strategic thinking.


[1] Not to mention that in the context of economy, energy is also a rather vague and questionable concept. See P. Mirowski, More Heat than Light: economics as social physics, physics as nature’s economics.

[2] In a similar argument, Nandita Biswas Mellamphy approaches the spontaneous eruption of non-strategic conception of war under the heading of ‘larval terrorist’: an autophagic subject driven by the force of nihil which has its own – i.e. asymmetrical to the traditional strategic subject – modes of destruction and creation.

[3] Here, of course, non-restricted is not a Bataillean concept that is connected to excess or the exorbitant image of exteriority in one way or another. Instead, this term suggests more than anything the plurality or the freedom of alternatives in complicity with and binding of exteriority. Yet this freedom by no means is an object of politics, for it bespeaks of the exteriority in bringing about such alternatives or fields of complicity not in terms of the interiorized horizon but on its own terms.

08 May 2010

Stop Management Idiocy: Middlesex Philosophy Must Be Saved
Patrons are reminded that, with the closure of each Philosophy department at the hands of garagistes, Malcolm Gladwell prospers and the preponderance of journalistic references to John Gray and Alain de Botton as ‘philosophers’ increases by twelve-and-three-quarters per cent.
In which connection, it is vital that you sign the petition ‘Save Middlesex Philosophy’. Remember: all that is necessary for the Power of Thinking without Thinking to triumph is for good men to do nothing.

03 May 2010

On another note: If you are interested to know more about the geo-cosmic theory of trauma (which involves a geophilosophical reinscription of Freud’s and Ferenczi’s theories of trauma), visit Cornish mines with Robin Mackay and Iain Hamilton Grant among other philosophers, researchers and scientists, and delve deeper into the history of the Industrial Revolution (the most elaborate cosmic prank played on the human race) to uncover the hydroplutonic conspiracy, then sign up for this!

03 May 2010

For anyone who hasn���t noticed, Perverse Egalitarianism has planned for a reading group on Salomon Maimon���s Essay on Transcendental Philosophy. This is an extremely important work for those who are interested in Kant, Deleuze (especially Difference and Repetition and the philosophical foundations of calculus) and rationalism. I am hopeful that another reading group can be scheduled to cover Kerslake���s forthcoming book on Wronski and post-Kantian philosophy as well. I am sure this is going to spark some interesting discussions.

02 May 2010

If the aim of Landian accelerationism is to fulfill ‘the repressed desire of capitalism for meltdown’ (Land), how can accelerationism detach itself from the embedded energetic model of dissipation inherent to conservative-dissipative, antiproductive-productive structures which are only capable of binding unilateral negativity or inflect upon death by means of an economical model of energetic dissipation or dying that they can afford? In other words, how can accelerationism bind exteriority or draw upon the so-called speculative opportunities of extinction in ways which are not already interiorized by conservative structures as economical ‘models for affording’ the exorbitant truth of exteriority? If accelerationism simply aims at accelerating the rate of dissipation, then its ‘speculative opportunities’ (Brassier) are limited to the most immediate source of exorbitant or traumatizing energy that the interiorized horizon has come into contact with. This is because in an interiorized horizon, the accelerative degradation of energy cannot bind or see anything beyond the very exorbitant index of energy (which means another interiorized horizon or ‘source’ of energy) whose model of dissipation has been at once partially repelled and economically adopted. Therefore, acceleration in this sense reinforces a restricted economical correlation which has never been more than a blockage against exteriority.

For the terrestrial sphere, this source or illusory exteriority is the sun. So, is accelerationism only capable of thinking exteriority and extinction in terms of a model of solar expenditure and thermonuclear decay (Bataille’s solar economy) or is it really capable of thinking extinction in terms of radical exteriority (i.e. ancestrality, deep space, material disintegration, asymptopia, …)? Is it possible to think of accelerationism in terms of alternative (i.e. plural and perhaps even multiversal) ways of binding exteriority? So far the Cartesian dilemma as the territory of philosophical thought has been about determining the course of life one should take, namely, the freedom of alternatives in life. But how can we shift the question to the radical freedom of having alternatives in binding exteriority and inflection upon death: instead of ‘what course in life shall I take?’ (Quod vitae sectabor iter) one should be able to ask ‘what way out shall I follow?’ (Quod exitaes sectabor iter)

The bastardized Cartesian speculation ‘What way out shall I follow?’ is meant to emphasize the freedom (in thought and action) of having plural or alternative options of binding exteriority or inflecting upon extinction. However, this question should be further corrected as it still seems to erroneously imply that the unilateralizing truth of the outside is dependent upon a subjective decision or desire.

The main focus of accelerationism should be shifted from the act of acceleration itself to ‘what is accelerated’, because if acceleration coincides with the dissipative or energetic economy of the organism, then it is simply a restricted project. Why? Because what is accelerated is the very economical form of binding which is determined by the exorbitant source of energy but is unsuccessfully adopted by the organism as an affordable yet traumatic consumptive solution that inscribes circuitous paths for dissipating into that exorbitant index of exteriority (whether it is the exorbitant truth of extinction or the sun). As Freud argues, dissipative regression into the exorbitant or traumatizing bedrock of the originary is numerically monistic and functionally exclusivist by nature. The conservative organism does not have any choice regarding binding or not binding the exorbitant source of energy since the binding is unilaterally imposed by the exorbitant index of exteriority. However, the way binding is effectuated corresponds to the conservative economy of the organism according to which the exorbitant index of exteriority must be afforded by the organism in order to circuitously transform the unbindable excess into conservable yet dissipative – at an accelerative rate – energetic spaces (umwegen). Accordingly, the exorbitant exteriority (extinction, sun, …) is inexorably bound but only in a way that is affordable by and for the organism. This is why the organism is inherently vulnerable to traumas: Traumatic binding of the exorbitant exteriority is not as much an ‘unsuccessful binding’ because it is energetically unbindable as it is unsuccessful because such an index of exorbitant energy should be economically afforded by the organism and correspond to the consumptive-dissipative rate dictated by the organic economy. Therefore, although the exorbitant index of exteriority is bound, this binding never naturally happens outside of the economical correlation with the organism.

The aim of all life is death but dying (binding death) happens only in a way that the interiorized expression of life can afford. This affordable way of dying registers itself as an economical correlation between the organism and the exorbitant index of exteriority. And it is this economical correlation that manifests itself as the dissipative rate of the organism. Since this economical binding or affordable correlation is energetically dissipative, it tends to generate new energetic spaces, that is to say, it moves toward emergentic processes and increasing complexification on semi-stable, local and transient levels. Landian accelerationism – especially by adhering to an escalated technocapitalism – seeks to intensify this dissipative rate that simultaneously coincides with an intelligenic complexification and the dissolution of organic conservatism on behalf of an exorbitant index of exteriority (viz. capitalism as an off-planet or planet-consuming event). However, as argued, the dissipative rate is energetically conceived as an economical (and hence, restricted) correlation; its existence is dictated by the exorbitant index of exteriority but its modi operandi are conditioned by the affordability of the interiorized horizon of the organism.


Therefore, as Freud maintains in BPP, the organism binds the exorbitant index of exteriority only in a way that it can afford. Or in other words, the organism wishes to die only in one fashion, which is another way to say, it wishes to die only in one fashion because such a fashion captures the inevitability of death in terms of the economical capacity and energetic requirements of the organism. Any other way of dying or binding the exorbitant index of exteriority (that is to say, alternative ways of binding unilateral negativity or inflecting upon extinction) are vigilantly staved off because they pose a fundamental threat to the economical – rather than passive – correlation of the organism with death. Since it is the economical correlation with the exorbitant index of exteriority (sun, meltdown, etc.) that determines the courses of life for the organism, this correlation is regarded as an irreproachable and axiomatic foundation that must be safeguarded by any means possible. For this reason, we can say that even in its most self-dissolving or schizophrenically emancipative moments, the organism conforms to a conservatively monistic regime of returning to the precursor exteriority or binding death. Monistic not only because it is the one and only one way that the organism affords but also because it is a necrocratic way insofar as it actively precludes the possibility of other fashions or courses of binding exteriority and inflecting upon extinction.

In fact the history of philosophy has consistently remained an accomplice in promoting the social and political consequences of organic necrocracy by corroborating the monistic regime of binding exteriority as an axiomatic and untouchable foundation of earthly thought. As far as the politics of exteriority is concerned, philosophy has not gone further than relocating – rather than disposing of – the organic economical teleonomy. Even the most passionate proponents of nihilism (Nietzsche, Bataille, Land, et al.) hold that life is determined by an exteriority irreversibly outside of the interiorized horizon without questioning the restricted economy or the monistic regime of binding such exteriority. For them having or thinking a unilateral and exorbitant index of exteriority is sufficient to break away from the conservative ambits of the organism and infringe the confines of our interiorized horizon. But what is really at stake here is the way the exteriority is bound: Is it bound only in a way that the organism can afford (therefore, it conforms to an ultimately conservative economical correlation between the interiorized horizon and the exteriority) or is it emancipated from such restrictions by being able to alternate between modes of binding because it does not conform to an emphatic economical correlation any longer? For example, Ray Brassier maintains that speculative opportunities of philosophy can be unfolded simply through the traumatic binding of extinction. In claiming so, he conforms to the traditional limit of philosophy whose object of critique is the unilateralizing power of extinction (manifesting as the inevitability of death of both thought and matter) and not the economical correlation between the organic conservatism and the exorbitant truth of extinction which is presented as a restrictively monistic regime of binding exteriority and inflecting upon death. In other words, by holding that the cosmological reinscription of the death-drive (anterior-posteriority of extinction) is sufficient to unbind the speculative opportunities of philosophy qua the organon of extinction, Brassier fails to question the ultimate comfort zone of the organism. Since a fundamental question still lingers: To what extent can the traumatic or rudimentary binding of extinction situate itself outside of the economical correlation with death that the interiorized organism conservatively remains committed to because it is the very affordable (and hence unsuccessful) way of binding extinction?

It is not the unilateralizing power of extinction that demolishes the comfort zone of the interiorized horizon; for such comfort zone is punctured precisely by those plural and multiversal ways by which the exteriority of extinction can be alternatively bound in order to abolish the monistic and economical system of binding exteriority that restricts the speculative opportunities of binding extinction to terms and economic conditions of the organism or the interiorized horizon. In short, the speculative vistas of extinction are only unlocked when extinction can be bound or inflected upon in plural or alternative ways. Positing the exorbitant truth of extinction alone as the apotheosis of enlightenment does not fulfill the conditions for unbinding the speculative power of philosophy since the exorbitant truth of extinction has never been repelled by the conservative economy of the organism in the first place; instead the organism is forced to ‘economically afford’ and bind such a disjunctive truth by any means possible, that is to say, by its own energetic capacity and economic conditions. Therefore, the emphatic positing of extinction (viz. conceiving extinction as an exorbitant index of exteriority) is usually doomed to be trapped within the axiomatic restricted economy of the interiorized horizon according to which binding exteriority should only take place in the fashion the organism can afford. It can be argued that accentuating extinction without questioning the monistic regime of binding inherent to the organism is tantamount to abetting the organic necrocracy in warding off alternative ways of binding exteriority and thereby trammeling the speculative opportunities of thought.

As long as accelerationism works on behalf of an exorbitant index of exteriority or operates according to an energetic-dissipative model, it risks abiding by the monistic regime of binding whereby the unilateralizing excess of the exteriority must be economically afforded at all costs. Respectively being in conformity to the monistic regime of binding means all other possible ways of binding exteriority (viz. alternative ways of inflecting upon extinction and binding exteriority) which harbor the speculative power of exteriorization must be thwarted. If as Land suggests Capitalism is imbued with courses of life (complexity and emergence), it is because capitalism as a process that conforms to the monistic regime of binding finds its plural and alternative expression not in binding exteriority or extinction but the interiority of life that is energetically made possible by the economical correlation that the organism utilizes to energetico-dynamically afford the exorbitant index of exteriority. Capitalism is abhorrently inflated with life-styles and courses of life precisely because it abides by a monistic regime of death. If philosophy should indeed hunt the speculative opportunities of thought, then its ambition should be shifted from investing in alternative courses of life to searching for alternative ways in binding exteriority, for it is the freedom of having alternatives in the latter that turns thought into an asymptote of cosmic exteriorities.

Related post: Trauma and the Outside: 1000 forms of cut

28 Apr 2010

Some brutal news about the philosophy programme at Middlesex University: Despite the consistently excellent research produced in the subject, apparently the University executive has decided to close all Philosophy programmes: undergraduate, postgraduate and MPhil/PhD. According to inside sources, the Dean explained that the decision to terminate recruitment and close the programmes was “simply financial”; he acknowledged the excellent research reputation of Philosophy at Middlesex, but said that it made no “measurable” contribution to the University.
More here.

08 Apr 2010

Black Coat Press are publishing a most welcome seven-volume series of translations of work by French SF pioneer J-H. Rosny (Collapse III). Information here. (thanks to Paul Wessels for the link)

06 Apr 2010

Documentation of the Urbanomic Studio residency project Secrets of Creation, which brought together artist Conrad Shawcross (Collapse V) and mathematician Matthew Watkins (Collapse I) – including full video footage of the Symposium which concluded the week – is now available on the Urbanomic Studio website.

29 Mar 2010

An illustrated essay by FIELDCLUB (Collapse VI), Whey to go: On the Hominid appropriation of the Pig Function appears in the latest issue of Antennae – Journal of Nature in Visual Culture.
The issue can be downloaded at:

11 Mar 2010

This goal [“to put the reader to work: to the work of hearing all the different meanings in what people say and write and to the work of deciphering meanings that are not at all evident on the face of things”] does not necessarily excuse all the obscurantism that Lacan indulges in and that Sokal and Bricmont justly point out. They seem to neglect, however, that what works in France—talking over the heads of one’s audience and seducing them into doing background reading on the authors and technical terms mentioned—does not work quite as well in the English-speaking world. Lacan could easily assume that his faithful seminar public—his audiences numbered up to 700 in the 1970s—would go to the library or the bookstore and “bone up” on at least some of his passing allusions. To spell out every glancing reference and elaborate at length on every analogy (scientific, mathematical, philosophical, linguistic, or whatever) would have put part of his audience off, leaving them with the feeling that they were being talked down to, infantilized—after all, a number of them were accomplished scientists, mathematicians, philosophers, and writers. The English-speaking lecture-going public does not, for the most part, operate in the same way, preferring to be spoon-fed rather than to be left to fill in the demonstration.

— Bruce Fink, Lacan to the Letter: Reading‘Écrits’ Closely (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2004), p. 130.

04 Mar 2010

We are very pleased to offer for sale in our store Our Sun, a book published by Mousse Publishing, Milan and the Istituto Svizzero di Roma in Venice to accompany Pamela Rosencranz\’s show of the same name. The book contains new accompanying texts by Reza Negarestani (Solar Inferno and the Earthbound Abyss) and Salvatore Lacagnina (The Courage of the Surface), as well as full colour photography documenting the show, reproduced on high quality paper stock.

14 Feb 2010

Jan Palmowski is a Disgrace: He Must Go
Concerned that this British Petroleum-sponsored coprophage stands set to inflict his chromosomally-enhanced agenda of ‘Gender and Sexuality’, ‘Global Politics, Identities, Cultures’, ‘Cities, Communities, Cultures’ and ‘Digital Cultures’ on King’s College, London, Sphaleotas urges readers to sign the petition before it’s too late.

05 Feb 2010

(Please email us if you identify any other errata)
Page 428: after “infinitesimal subversion against God”, the limit formula should be reza-correction.jpg – i.e. “the limit of delta p over delta a as delta a approaches delta p”, not “as delta a approaches 0”.

31 Jan 2010

Collapse Volume VI: Geo/Philosophy is here!
Advance orders and subscription copies will be shipped immediately.

20 Jan 2010

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Arnolfini, Bristol will be hosting an event jointly launching the Janek Simon show The End of Geography and Collapse VI: Geo/philosophy, with a discussion between editor Robin Mackay and Janek Simon on Saturday 30th January, 3pm.

Robin Mackay will present Collapse Volume VI and speak on “geo/philosophy” at the Swiss Institute of Rome in Venice, accompanying the Pamela Rosencranz show Our Sun on Tuesday 2 March, 6.30pm.

Details of Falmouth launch event to follow.

20 Jan 2010

Our good friends Divus have stepped in to take Collapse VI to press; we hope to be shipping the volume at the beginning of February.

15 Jan 2010

Unfortunately we have just discovered that our usual printers for Collapse have gone into administration, which means further delays for Collapse 6. Our thanks to all those readers who have made advance orders, which will help us to make sure this volume gets out since Urbanomic are left out of pocket by these events … More news soon.

12 Jan 2010

Graham Harman writes

I was going to say “somehow I missed this,” but it looks as though LEVI JUST POSTED IT.

You can read it for yourself, but I’m in general agreement with the notion that a successful philosophical paradigm is one that creates plenty of work opportunities for other people. And I say this not only on the basis of practical observation, but for philosophical reasons. I’m fond of quoting Aristotle as saying that a substance is what supports different qualities at different times; it follows that something is more substantial the more it allows for non-dogmatic variation and distinct personal approaches, as long as the underlying style is the same.

Levi mentions phenomenology as a successful example. Phenomenology is out of fashion in today’s continental environment, I realize, but it had and continues to have a good run. It appealed to atheists as well as Catholics, Paris hipsters no less than German scholars, and was useful both for precise academic technicians and for freewheeling novelists.

Another example Levi didn’t mention, but with which he would surely agree, is Bruno Latour. The breadth of his impact is stunning. Almost any field can take something from Latour, at least in the humanities, and I’m generally in awe of the people who are found at Latour lectures and events: young, brilliant, working in just about any field, and also extremely gender-balanced. Actor-network-theory has snowballed well beyond Latour’s own use of it, and he has built a good-natured empire of thousands of followers. This was really brought home to me during the period when people were requesting my Prince of Networks manuscript via email. Among the many requests was one from a Department of Fishery Science.

My favorite sentence in Levi’s post is the last sentence of the following:

“The emerging phenomenologist could always contribute something new, if only in a small way, but it’s difficult to see how Badiou has created a democratic philosophy that opens new paths of research. What we instead get is dogmatic discipleship. This situation is aggravated by his celebration of axiomatics that forecloses novel paths of investigation. It’s impossible to imagine a Badiousian Lingis.”

And I also agree with this:

“The trajectory of the scientistic materialist strains of SR are pretty predictable. Here what we’re going to get are increasingly reactionary, epistemological (and superfluous) apologia to various branches of the sciences (in particular, neurology and quantum physics) that contribute little to these sciences (because they’re just doing epistemological grounding work) and that contribute even less to the various branches of the humanities. Not only is this variant of SR mostly a militant-boys-no-girls-allowed-in-our-club-house style of thought (you can thank Mel for this characterization)– the tone is pretty macho and insufferable –but the inevitable consequence of this trend is a scientistic celebration of the hard branches of the sciences that provides little in the way of the cultural sciences.”

The word “superfluous” is on target here– the sciences don’t need this. And I agree about the insufferable machismo of the tone much of the time. The culture that is growing up around that side of SR often has a nauseating sort of “tough guy” tone to it, as also mentioned yesterday in my reference to Mel Gibson’s “Passion.” But to some extent that problem is simply adopted from the culture of analytic philosophy more generally… A female friend of mine, a very talented philosopher initially in the analytic style, bailed out on one of the top analytic Ph.D. programs after a year despite doing just fine. Why? Because she was simply sickened by the let’s-tear-each-other-to-shreds-on-the-basketball-court-and-then-smoke-cigars intellectual lifestyle of that Department. There’s none of that around Latour, for instance (despite his love of cigars).

My sense is that those strains of SR will simply drift further and further from philosophy altogether toward outright (and superfluous) commentary on the sciences. Initially the interest in that quarter, for me at least, was the interesting balance struck between the hard sciences and recent French thought. But the balance has been rapidly disappearing, and it’s turning into plain old Science Wars thuggery, which is the main reason I won’t be reading Collapse as avidly as before.

Further examples of Professor Harman’s hard-hitting prose can be found in his forthcoming volume, Circus Philosophicus.

Collapse may be purchased online.

10 Jan 2010

About this Volume
Following Collapse V‘s inquiry into the legacy of Copernicus’ deposing of Earth from its central position in the cosmos, Collapse VI: Geo/philosophy poses the question: Is there nevertheless an enduring bond between philosophical thought and its terrestrial support, or conversely, is philosophy’s task to escape the planetary horizon?
Following early-modern geophilosophical experiments in utopia, geographies and cartographies real and imaginary have played a double role in philosophy, serving both as governing metaphor and as an ultimate grounding for philosophical thought.
Collapse VI: Geo/philosophy begins with the provisional premise that the Earth does not square elements of thought but rather rounds them up into a continuous spatial and geographical horizon. Geophilosophy is thus not necessarily the philosophy of the earth as a round object of thought but rather the philosophy of all that can be rounded as an (or the) earth. But in that case, what is the connection between the empirical earth, the contingent material support of human thinking, and the abstract ‘world’ that is the condition for a ‘whole’ of thought?
Urgent contemporary concerns introduce new dimensions to this problem: The complicity of Capitalism and Science concomitant with the nomadic remobilization of global Capital has caused mutations in the field of the territorial, shifting and scrambling the determinations that subtended modern conceptions of the nation-state and territorial formations. And scientific predictions presents us with the possibility of a planet contemplating itself without humans, or of an abyssal cosmos that abides without Earth – these are the vectors of relative and absolute deterritorialization which nourish the twenty-first century apocalyptic imagination. Obviously, no geophilosophy can remain oblivious to the unilateral nature of such un-earthing processes. Furthermore, the rise of so-called rogue states which sabotage their own territorial formation in order to militantly withstand the proliferation of global capitalism calls for an extensive renegotiation of geophilosophical concepts in regard to territorializing forces and the State. Can traditions of geophilosophical thought provide an analysis that escapes the often flawed, sentimental or cryptoreligious fashions in which popular discourse casts these catastrophic developments?
Collapse VI brings together philosophers, theorists, eco-critics, leading scientific experts in climate change, and artists whose work interrogates the link between philosophical thought, geography and cartography, in order to create a portrait of the present state of ‘planetary thought’.
Editorial Introduction
Becoming Spice: Commentary as Geophilosophy
Introduction to Schelling’s On the World Soul
On the World Soul (Extract)
New Ecologies (Interview)
Thinking Ecology: The Mesh, the Strange Stranger and the Beautiful Soul
How Many Slugs Maketh the Man?
Fossils of Time Future: Bunkers and Buildings from the Atlantic Wall to the South Bank
Political Plastic (Interview)
A Given Time / A Given Place
Introduction to SIMADology: Polemos in the 21st Century
Undercover Softness: An Introduction to the Architecture and Politics of Decay
Philosophers’ Islands
The Islanders: Epilogue
Theory is Waiting
Endless Dreams and Waters Between
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