One month of self-eating to zero, of working with ‘no-one’ to make ‘nothing’ happen has come to an end. On the 28th of September, at 13.00, in 14thday studio there was a demonstration of Eternal Feeding Technique. This is the first part: how to enter the void and stay there.

“The most difficult moment is when you break the silence, because to make nothing happen, one needs silence. But ‘what silence requires is that I go on talking'”

“This piece will not change anything because if I succeed, nothing will happen, so everything will stay the same.”

“If nothing happens, then between the beginning and the end there is nothing, the beginning is actually the end. So this piece ended fifteen minutes ago.”

Dead Thinking
Alina Popa

I write for one who, entering into my book, would fall into it as into a hole, who would never again get out.
Georges Bataille


The scaffolding of a nightmare requires a nervous expenditure more exhausting than the best articulated theoretical construction.
Emil Cioran

I’m from the other side of the mirror, I come from you
Dust Devil

I will bury myself in my own imagination and let myself rot, eaten by all the thoughts that I once ate. Until only an almost-nothing remains, an infra-thing that whispers between words and speaks to You!
L’aura di Cristallo

The Count of Dead Thoughts
A lonely thought is wandering aimlessly through the cemetery of concepts appalled at the sight of its own dark neuro-crypt. Deeply enfogged by the dust of its very logic another thought lost sight forever. A third thought passionately inhaled the smoke-aura of cremated reason. A next thought, deducted from the previous, chokes with the rising spiral of the ashes of its cause. Air that strikes, air that punches you in the face, thoughtlessly, absentmindedly. A thought, too anaemic to be included in any intelligent spectrum, oscillates between infinitesimally close shades of morbid pallor. A mad recursive thought-rhythm: terrible stim of your pupil. The drone of being makes ripples of nothingness. A monotonic breath inhales back its every exhalation-sigh in an exquisite logic of near-suffocation. A last thought warps to swallow its own end before it begins.

The Thought-Sarkophagos
Both thought and I are caged together in a crypt-ical illusion, carrying around each other’s hallucination. The more I speed it up, the less I am myself, I become a mere host for the alien worm that is coiled in my brain and is writing with my hand. To slow it down is to start smelling the dampness of its supercognitive crypt. I cannot will to think. And I cannot will to not think. Ligotti’s salutary completion of Descartes’s dictum (“I think therefore I am and one day I will die”) makes it clear that to begin to think is to begin to think horror. Once consciousness appeared something dark and abysmal found its way worming inside the bland thoughts of humankind. Cognition: a horror theme park of your darkest nightmares. Each of us – paradoxes compelled to horror-think. “The footsteps that I hear are my own”(DD). The ungluing of myself from me, the disentanglement of ‘I’ from thinking. ‘It’ thinks. Nietzsche’s breaking of the correlation between the subject ‘I’ and the will to think (“a thought comes when ‘it’ wishes, and not when ’I’ wish; so that it is a perversion of the facts of the case to say that the subject ‘I’ is the condition of the predicate to ‘think’“) could be radicalized into: a thought that comes when I wish ‘it’ less. ‘I’ is not the condition of thinking, but thinking happens in spite of and against ‘I’: “Whence did I get the notion of ‘thinking’? Why do I believe in cause and effect? What gives me the right to speak of an ‘ego’, and even of an ‘ego’ as cause, and finally of an ‘ego’ as cause of thought?”(FN). I am only able to think against thought, against the ‘againstness’ of thought. Thinking with thought is impossible. Or too possible. When thought is free, ‘I’ will ‘be not’ anymore: “[S]ince true thought thinks itself, that type of thought attains its object in the act of thinking itself… True thought is authorless”(CL). I am most free when thinking ‘is not’, when I would have killed yet another thought, first and foremost the thought of ‘I’. “In losing myself I find myself dangerous”(CL).

I fear that one day I will find myself rotting, eaten up by my wormed, convoluted thoughts. Find what has already evaporated in a necrosis that happened before the time of ‘I’, find that there was nothing to find in the first place.

The Slime-Thought
“Thought is lagging behind itself”(BM via BL). It drags its impossible weight of being what it is pregnant with what it ‘is not’. Despite its constitutive sluggishness thought deceives its own retarded nature by hallucinating a ‘now’ for itself. As a snail, it exudes its own shell-home in the form of a protective, illusory now by erasing its tortuous line of lag. It constructs its own umbilical cord back to a navel that never existed. It already happened outside itself: “Thought hallucinates that it coincides with itself”(BM). It eats its half-second lag to stand right in time. “One of the things that happens in the lapsing is a fiction. Libet determined that thought covers up its lag: the awareness is ‘backdated’ so that each thought experiences itself to have been at the precise time the stimulus was applied”(BM).The feedback loop between thought and affect, between consciousness and body creates a time-smudge of infinite causes that are already infested by their effects. The ‘now’ does not coincide with itself. There are myriads of infra-nows in and for themselves. The time of bodymind is scattered. The present of consciousness is a sluggish now, while NOW is the moment of intensity when all scattered instants collapse into each other.

The now of consciousness is interrupted. “[W]e must ask if ‘nothingness’, unthinkable as a limit or negation of being, is not possible as interval and interruption; we must ask whether consciousness, with its aptitude for sleep, for suspension, for epoché, is not the locus of this nothingness-interval”(EL). Slumber is not the retreat of consciousness, it is immanent in thought. Consciousness is being constituted by its retreats, its somnolence and reservations. Snail-ization. Senilization. All within. Thought escapes itself. “The present . . . is behind the present. It catches up with itself but with a lag behind itself, or effects a retreat, a rebound, in the simplicity of its stroke”(EL). The present is a snail that returns upon itself in a movement-reflection of its spiraled shell.

Thinking is never ‘now’ and ever too late. To accelerate it is to discover the swift thought-slime that your tongue has just become. I left my humanity behind and I am walking the slime’s way. I am licking the silvery track that I myself secreted in advance. The amorphous flesh of thinking screams its inhumanity, our inhumanity. “[T]he inhuman is our better part, is the thing, the thing part of people”(CL). We are as impossible as thinking, on the brink of definitions, so madly finite that we are born of extinction. Left with a thought as mere reflection of our own look in the eyes of impossibility. The mirror-hall of impossibility and thinking is the most honest schizo-tactics, the monstrous sight of ourselves in our purely reflexive mode.

In writing I am enacting the thought-game of a toy that forgot its own rules for play. An I-toy that thinks by hanging to the nothingness of the game it wants to become: “[A game] is a reality that leaves no traces; the nothingness that preceded it is equal to that which follows it. Its events do not have real time. A game has no history”(EL). Toys are played by the game. Slime-toys are dreams of this formless game. Dream of Mattel-intelligence, green ooze playing with me, throwing me back into the dustbin to which both ‘I’ and slime-toy belong.

The Thought-Chase
The only possible cognitive acceleration: thinking not as running thoughts but as running away from thoughts. Chased by your impossible cognition, ‘now’ is too full – ‘they’ are coming from all the directions. If I let only one thought catch me, it is enough to unfold the catastrophe.

A thought’s horror of itself. A self-reflexive drama.

Entrapped in cognitive monomania: a melodrama of one.

The irreparable focus of thought on its own misery discharges a predator-reflex: thought ingurgitates itself until annihilation. It is then that I live the most, it is only then that I most intensely ‘am not’. “Horror is the event of being which returns in the heart of this negation, as though nothing had happened”(EL). An autophagic thought latched onto its already decaying matter, sucking us through, circumventing being by consuming it from without. This silent consummation, the return of thought to its own immanent negation is the event of never having happened. Thought happened to me, but now it is over, as if it has just begun.

Thoughts afraid of other thoughts horrendously unfold, trying to break loose from the solid horror of their too logical chain. Effect fears cause but lurks backwards upon it in a curled act of forced feeding: recursive causality. A sewing backwards with an ever changing thread, a confusion of pulling and being pulled. Thoughts chasing each other. Gaping insuperable faults between one another, drilling a void inside of themselves. Thoughts plunging into their own futile core, infinitely swooning, forever resurrecting from and into their own ashes. There is no escape from falling into your inner void: “My interior emptiness will engulf me, I will be swallowed by my own void. To collapse into yourself, into your own nothingness”(EMC).

“There is no work that does not return against its author: the poem crushes the poet, the system the philosopher. . .”(EMC via NL). Driven by the dread of itself a thought produces another thought which destroys its progenitor. Causes destroyed by their effects. Causes reborn through their own effects. Present giving birth to past anew. Intensity of present that alters the extension of time. Not only is future the “maximization of absence”(TG) but it is the intensification of an absence already too much here. Time is a twisted umbilical cord.

The Low, Injurious Level of Thoughts
Now rest. Imagine a flat bottom of bottoms filled with lonely thoughts: “Don’t let one thought teach another thought. All thoughts, which wrongly give you a sense of identity, are on the same low, injurious, level”(VH via NM). My thoughts will be strange to other thoughts and strange to themselves. In the flat ontology of thinking, the cemetery of sufficient reason is a post-causal heaven. Causes have existed but they ceased to matter. ‘Hyperchaos’ of total cognitive stasis.

To dissect life is to vivisect death. The chopped samples of death-life are chrono-logically alien to each other. My chronopathic body-parts make up my “unhuman phenomenology”(DT) and hide a reason unthinkable to itself: “Even the materials of my body and the lower levels of my brain have a very different sense of time from my cerebrum”(JGB). My nails think my arm, my arms think my mouth, my mouth thinks my heart, my heart thinks my brain. All impossible thinkers abiding different times more than different spaces. In a complete serenity of being, when all these recursive thoughts of a temporally dismembered body reach a perfect balance (levitation, ever lighter stages of the body, astronaut­‑bodies­), the gravity of thinking differs from the earthly constant (g=9.81). Thinking itself becomes a round heap of air, a mass of chaotic disintegrated accelerations. If thinking has been traditionally linked to heaviness, the pathology of thought’s own gravity reaches the limit of thought itself – a peaceful limit, not a catastrophic one. A phenomenology of roundness, that feeling of completion along with the absentmindedness it requires (or the roundness of affect in its plenitude of perceiving self-perception) corresponds to a non-gravitational thought floating like astronauts in outer space. The ungrounding of thinking equals a disentanglement of thought from the attraction force of the earth and its re-emergence into new twisted gravities. In living the not-thought (or the naught-thought) one loses perspective, not in the sense of regress but in the sense of disintegrating into an infinity of perspectives that do not touch each other, almost exploding in a full roundness of myriad ‘points’ of view. The infra-points that pierce all solid de-voiding it of resistance to become a void of fully accomplished thought-feelings, zero-thoughts. “All points of view are wrong because each has an opposite that limits it. [Beyond coincidentia oppositorum] lies the sphere or curvature on which opposition occurs. To think such that thought, any perspective, becomes a point of transposition into oppositeless and perspectiveless ()hole or zero-all of the sphere”(NM).

Transform words in ‘shovels without a master’ that dig large crevasses in between words, that blow prepositions right in their core. Warp the verbs, offend the substantives. Suffixes, prefixes, prepositions are twitching machines that madly unground every Grund for thinking. Once a logical chain, tired of inference, settles itself in too heavy a heap, the whole steel edifice collapses under the terrible weight of its holes, of its infiltrations and differential density. The heap of logical principles is absolutely flat. Pathos is no less logical than a Turing machine. Nothing is more logical than anything else.


La première de ces démonomanes a déjà eu deux accès de lypémanie. Le démon est dans son corps, qui la torture de mille manières; elle ne mourra jamais.
La deuxième n’a plus de corps; le diable a emporté son corps; elle est une vision; elle vivra des milliers d’années, elle a le malin esprit dans l’utérus sous la forme d’un serpent, quoiqu’elle n’ait pas les organes de la génération faits comme les femmes.
La troisième n’a pas non plus de corps, le malin esprit l’a emporté n’en laissant que le simulacre qui restera éternellement sur la terre. Elle n’a point de sang, elle est insensible (analgésie).
La quatrième n’est pas allée à la selle depuis vingt ans, son corps est un sac fait de la peau du diable plein de crapauds, de serpents, etc.
La cinquième a le cœur déplacé, elle ne mourra jamais.
L’autre a un vide à la région épigastrique; elle est damnée, elle n’a plus d’àme. Plus tard la pensée lui vint qu’elle était immortelle.
Jules Cotard, Études sur les maladies cérébrales et mentales

[The first of the demonomaniacs has already had three crises of lypomania. The demon is inside her body, it tortures her in innumerable ways; she will never die.
The second has no body anymore; the devil carried away her body; she is a vision; she will live thousands of years, she has the malignant spirit inside her uterus in the shape of a snake, although she does not have reproduction organs as women do.
The third has no body anymore, the malignant spirit carried her away leaving behind just a simulacrum that will remain on earth eternally. She has no blood, she is insensate (analgesia).
The fourth has not been defecating for twenty years, her body is a bag made from the skin of the devil, full of toads and serpents, etc.
The fifth had her heart dislocated, she will never die.
Another one has a vacuum in the epigastric region; she is doomed, she has no soul anymore. Later the thought came to her that she was immortal.]
Jules Cotard, [A Study of Neurological and Mental Disorders]

—Footnote: “Cotard’s count of negativity delusion is a terrifyingly real poetry, a sestet of disintegration, of suspension, of being no-one and for no reason, of bodies without bodies, of animal organs and feral sterility of being neither dead nor alive.”
— I am just a footnote to the empty text that is my (non)existence. Footnotes to no-one, recursive junk. The seventh is I. Self-induced Cotard syndrome: the only possible way to think. To think without thought.
— You sound like a bot.
— And you are just trolling yourself.
— Are we speaking?
— No, something else is speaking us. We are nothing.
— Nothing is strong. Sometimes it is unbearable, like immortality (“ils gémissent de leur immortalité et supplient qu’on les en délivre” [They wail their immortality and beseech us to deliver them]). Though it is the only thing we can take and only in it we find deliverance, in the midst of this world, the next.
— Distrust in any metaphysical ground coupled with the sole trust that one is an emptied self clung to this horror-world like a rag hanging from a nail. So much existence has receded from me that my ‘thrownness’ into this impossible ‘to be’ disappeared faster than the world. One cannot die because one is not truly alive (“elle ne mourra jamais, elle n’est ni morte ni vivante” [she will never die, she is neither dead nor alive]), yet a world insists to cling to my inexistence. A world hangs from my nothingness. This wind-world keeps blowing, stirring the desert of myself, I, living “relic from the future”(FF). To disclose myself I have emptied myself and my thinking is the pinnacle of my inexistence.
— You seem convincing but these are certainly not your thoughts. It is that useless hive-mind.
— Could you for a while trust your state of mind?
— I am trusting neither states of mind nor statements of the mind.
— Then you are sick.
— “Normalcy itself is a mode, a subspecies of psychosis”(SZ/FWJS). I am inhabiting my limbo-hell of perceiving self-perception as self-destruction. Existence as the sole fact that I am in the sense of my ur-quality as ‘existent’, whilst all other facts of being have vanished like a carpet pulled from under my feet. A hell-limbo as both indefinite and horror region, the limb, the line. A fuzzy border that cuts: what is – cut – what is not. I am dwelling in this enormous cut-wound, bigger than myself. I – a limb, a border, a line. Space begins with borders, I begins with the 1 of individuation. For Kant the space is created by the symmetry of the body, by the stretching of the limbs to opposite sides. I, 1 erect as the verticality of a trunk. Not-I, no-1, the forest has flown away. The sylvan world left hanging by a sole thought-stump. Impossible walk on the severed limbs of inference, limping-thinking.
— These were my words, weren’t they?
— They are neither your words nor someone else’s. It is just by chance that they happened to you as much as they are happening to me. They linger somewhere in the cloud of the unuttered. Not only am I not the predicate of thinking but thinking is in a relationship of negativity with the I, both to use it as a hypothesis and to destroy its existence altogether. Self as junk or as hypothesis, however you like it. Not “I think therefore I am” but “It thinks because I am not.” Humans are led to the thought that thinking itself is inhuman. They are also led to thinking that they themselves are inhuman. It shows that thinking is at place in humans while utterly displaced, so that when humans think thinking they are thinking horror through being nothing and when thinking thinks humans it is thinking nothing through being horror.

— Footnote to footnote: “Individuation is felt like a torture. Since immortality is precisely the suspension between being alive and being dead, an empty feeling of individuation (their mind putrefied, their heart exploded – ‘leur cœur a éclaté’, their brain like a ‘flat nut’ – ‘sa tête est comme une noisette creuse’, bloodless, soul-less, no organs in no bodies). The apogee of distrust in any reality objectively drawn translates the certainty of the negativity of all.”
— “C’est la folie d’opposition.” [It’s the madness of opposition.]
— “Le delire d’enormite.” [Enormity delirium.]
— Nothingness-monomania is the melodrama of the enormity of thought.
— Nothingness delirium: hole bigger than the whole.
— “I only use reason as an anesthetic”(CL).
— “Généralement les aliénés sont négateurs; les démonstrations les plus claires, les affirmations les mieux autorisées, les témoignages les plus affectueux les laissent incrédules ou ironiques. La réalité leur est devenue étrangère ou hostile.” [Generally, the alienated are negators; the clearest demonstrations, the most reliable affirmations, the most affectionate gestures leave them incredulous and ironic. Reality has become strange and hostile to them.]
— Am I suffering from I or from you?
— Neither of these. ‘It’ is suffering from every ‘I’ that thinks in ‘I’s and ‘You’s. People are terminally diagnosed with pronoun delusion.

— “[I]l semble au malade que le monde réel s’est complètement évanoui, a disparu ou est mort et qu’il ne reste plus qu’un monde imaginaire au milieu duquel il est tourmenté de se trouver.” [It seems to the patient that the real world has completely vanished, has disappeared, or is dead, and that there remains only an imaginary world in the middle of which he is tormented to find himself.]
— Are we for real?
— No, only real is for real.

— “Des malades disent qu’ils ne mourront pas, parce que leur corps n’est pas dans les conditions ordinaires d’organisation, que s’ils avaient pu mourir, ils seraient morts depuis longtemps; ils sont dans un état qui n’est ni la vie, ni la mort; ils sont morts vivants.” [The patients say that they don’t die because their body is not under normal conditions of organization, that if they could have died, they would have been dead for a long time now; they are in a state that is neither life nor death; they are living dead.]
— Omnipotence of thought to the power of nihilism.
— The torment of not being able to be done with yourself, because you are suspended like Ligotti’s puppet, hanging from a malevolent string, swinging in the rhythm of an ominous creak over the bottom of a reluctant doomed world. The end of correlationism waiting for time to happen at once, for the inconstancy of inconstancy, for the awaited contingency to set ablaze the last string of salvation. To untether intelligibility from sensibility means both a severing and an appalling reconciliation: the sole intelligibility is that of horror, of oneself as an etheric yet too-consistent reflection of the void, as if one irreversibly swallowed an analgesic against what in a deep past was the sensibility of being-in-the-world.

— “Leur demande-t-on leur nom? ils n’ont pas de nom; leur âge? ils n’ont pas d’âge; où ils sont nés? ils ne sont pas nés; qui étaient leur père et leur mère? ils n’ont ni père, ni mère, ni femme, ni enfants; s’ils ont mal à la tête, mal à l’estomac, mal en quelque point de leur corps? ils n’ont pas de tête, pas d’estomac, quelques-uns même n’ont point de corps; . . . Chez quelques-uns la négation est universelle, rien n’existe plus, eux-mêmes ne sont plus rien.” [One asks their name? they have no name; their age? they have no age; where they were born? they were not born; who were their father and mother? they have neither father, nor mother, nor wife, nor children; if they have headaches, if their stomach hurts, if some part of their body hurts? they have no head, no stomach, some of them even have no body; . . . For some of them negation is universal, nothing exists anymore, they themselves are nothing.]

— How long will the environment resist the attack of ‘I’? “Endurance of an organism is a form of patience of the environment”(IS). Anonymity that resists the attack of names. The amorphous that holds against the tyranny of form. The uncut self versus the escalation of the one. The open-source that opposes the concreteness of a name.
— A detection that de-tects by moving away. Tailing the unknown to find more un than known. Being the detective of one’s own life is to place oneself in the center of absolute futility, to make ennui a life-long obsession. To be bored of oneself to the point that you are bored of your boredom.

— Comment vous portez-vous, madame?
— La personne de moi-même n’est pas une dame, appelez-moi mademoiselle, s’il vous plaît.
— Je ne sais pas votre nom, veuillez me le dire?
— La personne de moi-même n’a pas de nom: elle souhaite que vous n’écriviez pas.
— Je voudrais pourtant bien savoir comment on vous appelle, ou plutôt comment on vous appelait autrefois.
— Je comprends ceque vous voulez dire. C’était Catherine X…, il ne faut plus parler de ce qui avait lieu. La personne de moi-même a perdu son nom, elle l’a donné en entrant à la Salpêtrière.
— Quel âge avez-vous?
— La personne de moi-même n’a pas d’âge.
Jules Cotard, Études sur les maladies cérébrales et mentales

[— How are you madam?
— The no-one of myself is not a madam, call me miss, please.
— I don’t know your name, could you tell it to me?
— The no-one of myself has no name: she wishes you didn’t write.
— I would nevertheless like to know what your name is, or rather what your name was in the past.
— I understand what you mean. It was Catherine X…, we shouldn’t talk about what has taken place. The no-one of myself has lost her name, she gave it away by entering Salpêtrière.
— How old are you?
— The no-one of myself has no age.]
Jules Cotard, [A Study of Neurological and Mental Disorders]


Madness, of course—but had I not now stumbled into a nighted world as mad as I?
H. P. Lovecraft

You love-craftian hero! You have resurrected the fossil of myself, the one that I cannot experience but that is speaking through me, seeping into my lack of words! The monster is here and I cannot stop it, I don’t want it ever to shut up.
L’aura di Cristallo

Whatever happens in this life there will be the fault of this cataclysmic ‘now’ screaming to me, deafening me with the echo of a deformity that I always was. In thinking I am walking “the treadmill of myself” to discover that immobilized “Cyclone”(JT via GB) buried deep inside, slumberous soulstorm from outer space.

In thinking I am chanting my own obituary.

A dark mass of stellar junk is resonating in me: “indeed the whole primal age and past of all sentient being continues in me to invent, to love, to hate, to infer. I suddenly woke up in the midst of this dream, but only to the consciousness that I am dreaming and that I must go on dreaming lest I perish”(FN via GB). The benighted universe is dreaming me, that ‘me’ that is dreaming a consciousness. ‘I’ is a recursive dream. Blindly my thoughts follow the irreparable veins of a nestedness that screams the fossilized nothingness that my consciousness is. An ancestral and unknown force pulls the chords of a voice that I never had. A howler-voice of long accumulated xeno-strata. I am the hyperdiligent stenographer typing the echo of a disheveled, anonymous thinking that hits the cave-walls of myself. I ride on asymptotes, waiting to collapse under the terrible weight of the darkness of my thoughts. I am as remote from myself as from the last dying star. An infinite black wildness moans without a sound in my dwindling ‘I’, my gravitational flesh is unfurling a malefic time onto a perfect now of absolute self-oblivion. My absentmindedness uncovers a profusion of mineral thoughts that hang like stalactites from the ceiling of my mind. One syncopated drop of this alien matter can instantly open a large crevasse in myself where I will meticulously stay hidden.

The ungrounding (Ungrund – unreason) of thinking itself, a heedless intuition of the hellish negation buried in matter itself, reveals thought as being least defined by its stable, identifiable, and specific qualities. The unthinkable, the unreason of reason is embedded in the deep archeology of thought itself. We are media through which events of thinking happen, unconscious vessels of unhuman intensities. The algorithmic ‘incomputable’(LP via GC), as well as Chaitin’s Omega are long embedded in our own xeno-thoughts. “[I]n the midst of the world as such resides the “‘possibility’ of that which is wholly other to the world”(QM). We are actively and intensely possessed by an edgeless time outside us, manifest in us. “Time happens to us”(NL).

And I am saddling up the cusps of NOW.

Now is the timescale collapsed into the space of a body that is both a place and its dislocation. Nothing coincides with itself. As much as we embody our own extinction, we also conceal the arche-fossil within ourselves. “Whatever secret the Earth conceals is also concealed within ourselves”(DT). The materiality of our bodies witnesses itself through us as a “dark background of existence”(EL). “I am obscure even to myself”(CL). The self, “the cage of interiority”(TM) is the place where exteriority is latent. If “[t]ransparency simply means that we are unaware of the medium through which information reaches us”(TM), then transparency is another name for darkness. The ‘phenomenal self model’ is far from being a safety tunnel for our ego. In this hermetic dark passage where the first obscurity becomes the self, the first to be effaced is the very foundation of our existence. Groping in the darkness of ourselves, we become nothing more than a dark mirror of an indifferent world, reflecting its own reflection. “The world looks at itself in me”(CL).

Horrified by the source of cognition, I still drink at the fountainhead of my monstrous thoughts.

A dark river is flowing through my being leaving me all silt, a turbid sediment of impossibility. I see in me a fossilized future and a resurrected past because I am nothing. I heedlessly “go on signifying”(DA via GA), I sculpt words in flows that burst from a valve unknown, a valve that is pumping in the rhythm of my heart. As Robinet, “I am persuaded that fossils are alive”. “For every form retains life, and a fossil is not merely a being that once lived, but one that is still alive, asleep in its form”(GB). Thought retains in itself the fossilized specters of geological strata which can only be accessed by absentmindedness. Behind my most limpid inference lies a “black knowledge which festered in the chasms of my subconscious”(HPL). A thought that feels itself thinking is writing the partiture of its own silence. Thought is alive but its coffin is buried within it. A live thought drags its own coffin along, a dead thought is pulled by its very casket. If we are carriers of a clandestine mineralogy manifest in its slumber, then the most alive of all fossils is the fossil of reason’s inexistence.

To produce a dead thinking is to discover that death of thought is ingrained in the matter of thinking itself. Inexistence hides in a deep strata of existence lurking upon us from a future which will be past again. “Nothing human makes it out of the near-future”(NL). And I am still licking the wounds of my thoughts.

The Romanian orthodox burial song of Christ Prohodul Domnului places the divine funeral at the epicenter of a large-scale affective-geological event:
Primindu-Te în sân pământul
S-a clătit de frica Ta, Preaputernice,
Și pe morți cutremurul i-a deșteptat
[Letting Thou inside its womb
The Earth trembled with fear
And the earthquake awakened the dead].

This human trembling, the amplification of its grief is translated back to a geotremor, earth and body are terminally linked, their non-coincidence overspills into one another. Body and earth: communicating vessels of alienation. The collective human grief, a tectonic mourning is so moving that it makes the planet tremble and scares the dead out of their tombs. In horror one scares the death of thinking out of its fossilized shell. The burial story of trembling and earthquake restores death at the epicenter of thinking. Being scared to death resurrects the negativity fossilized in the matter of thought. The fiction is real and happens in horror, in the most banal and unspectacular horror that “restores us to the negativity of existence as if nothing has happened”(EL). The trembling‑earthquake resurrection can be amplified as following: only by coming back from the dead is one really intelligent (the Romanian verb a deștepta – to awaken – means both to become smart/intelligent and to raise from the dead). The paradox of thinking: to grasp the wholeness of thought is to annihilate it. Intelligence embeds the intelligibility of its own inexistence and only by disappearing it can become fully intelligent. Genuine bootstrapping requires to un-be.

The orthodox funerary song Prohodulul Domnului, wherein collective human grief turns geological, frightening the dead out of their tombs performs exactly the opposite thought-movement at the core of Junji Ito’s manga story ‘The Mystery of Amigara Fault’. Here, a great earthquake, a tectonic stuttering of the soil, produces cracks in the exact shape of every human living on Earth. People are mysteriously attracted to these unforgiving holes and enter absentmindedly their assigned rock-tomb, finally disappearing inside the fault. The earthquake no longer awakens the dead from their tombs but opens up human shaped crypt-caves that absorb back to themselves the entire humanity. It is the call of extinction, the reality of which is fossilized into human materiality itself and is screaming our memory of dust.


The only thing that interests me is whatever cannot be thought – whatever can be thought is too little for me [ANGELA PRALINI]
Clarice Lispector

“Being (objectivity) is always merely an expression of a limitation of the intuiting or producing activity. There is a cube in this portion of space, means nothing else but that in this part of space my intuition can be active only in the form of a cube. The ground of all reality in cognition is thus the ground of limitation independent of intuition”(FWJS).

Thinking the cube “creates an almost exclusively bodily meaning”(CL) of its geometry. Form that melts into being. To be the cube one must give up oneself in favor of the cube. I have become more cube than myself. My being exists the cube.

A four-cornered thought, inhuman. A flat thought, horizontal and vertical, banging its neatness on the four madly equal squares, too perfect, too parallel. The immurement of thinking. A thought creeping inside its receding corners, all at once. Thought-claustrophobia. Reasoning decays into the acuteness of the equidistant four points of the cube. Thinking trapped in its corners: pointilist singularity multiplied by four. Four corners become one, the cube collapses, the thought has vanished.

A thought vanished inside the voidal prison of a cube, into a nothingness perfectly caged. Cubic cataclysm.

Understanding fears imagination, imagination fears perception. Syntheses-horror.

The cube is one of the available shapes of thought which through obsession-compulsion and fixation can produce catastrophe. But since geo-metry is the measure of earth, what new plasticity must thinking acquire in a time when the planet itself is retreating from its protective function as home? How are human thinking and affect being molded by the global scale extinction? How does human thinking take the shape of its own inexistence? How is intuition active in a shapeless shape that is its own negation? If nature recapitulates thinking and thinking recapitulates nature, what kind of nature does a dead thought produce, what is the nature secreted backwards by extinction?

Thinking extinction requires a disengaged engagement in a ‘discipline of horror’(EMC), letting thought think itself by risking being and existence. Approaching a perverted and dissipated shape of thought that inhabits an ‘ambiguous space’ where inside and outside have melted together into a horror of viewpoint, into a perpetual cognitive hollowness. A vague space where “the mind has lost its geometrical homeland and space is drifting”(GB).

I want to feel thought thinking only what I cannot experience. “The personal is the geological”(CC). The logic of the earth is alien. The personal is ‘it’. The only possible thought-movement towards the impossible is spiraled, madly encircling the nameless and unknowable.

A thought that climbs on the spiral of its own ashes: a roundabout movement, a glitch-circle around its inexistence.

It is not only that thinking require a plasticity of imagination that through its inevitable catastrophes acts directly upon the environment, upon the relation of existence with its limits. The environment itself feeds back into the operations of reason. “Our thoughts are like the world because we are of the world. Thought (of any kind) is a highly convoluted habit that has emerged out of, and is continuous with, the tendency in the world toward habit taking”(EK/CSP). I do not transform the environment into abstract operations, I am the resultant force, the momentary metastability of the environment thinking me, I am letting myself prey to its semiotics. My point of view, the dynamic concreteness of my position is “a bundle of affects”(EVC), a relational node which survives only through a temporary patience of the whole. The Anthropocene is another name for the becoming-impatient of the environment of humans, for the fickle node into which we are constituted. If thinking follows the logic of the climate, then climate catastrophe acts first and foremost upon thinking as appetition in the form of its (non)productive loss of appetite. “Gloom is more climatological than psychological, the stuff of dim, hazy, overcast skies, of ruins and overgrown tombs, of a misty, lethargic fog that moves with the same languorousness as our own crouched and sullen listening to a disinterested world”(ET).

Thought-plague, hyperesthesic dead thought, night-thought, hazy thinking, blob-thought, mold-cognition, intelligent ooze, autopoietic debris, smart nothingness, junk-appetition, void that thinks, shadow-thought, self-actualizing ghost-thinking.

To think thinking-without-thought requires that geo-metry lose the earth, that one take the perspective of no perspective, the perspective of the redundancy of any perspective. A perspective that does not equate a point of view in the sense of sight, but a dynamic resultant of the semiotics of an environment that has always been indifferent – and now appears hostile only because we attached to it as to a home. A perspective requires localization, auto-detection, a pointing towards, its self-naming. Geometry is impossible even on earth. It is used as mere perpetuation of the absolute fog of metrics, measurement and precision. Geometry is born out of its lack of earth. “Geometry without earth corresponds to a measure of reality as infinitely attributed, as exceeding all possible sets of names“(NM).

Geometry is an echo of no-metry. A perspective is the temporary individuation of an echo. Its coming to being reflects its stubbornness. Its possibility emerges against the ground of its impossibility. A perspective is a sound mirrored back by its environment, an echo abducted, abducting. It resembles the reverberation of a polyphony collapsed into a single thought-note, strange-to-itself. The echo-thought: noise-sound unintelligibly cognized. Roaring lullaby.

Extinction is a supersonic thoughtboom. At the moment of collapse, it will be right within my earshot, as it always was. Everything will crumble, yet everything will be the same.

Hear! Silence as usual.


however solid objects seem,

They yet are formed of matter mixed with void

Extinction: plunge into your navel with full force until your mouth becomes your hol(e)y sphincter which starts excreting time again
L’aura di Cristallo

Anthropocenic thinking requires a mode of thought inseparable from the death of thought. Thinking extinction intensely to such extent that thought itself is being dragged by its own coffin – the inverted movement of Django through the dusty landscape of the ‘wild west’. I am being dragged into life by my own inhumanity. “Life is a kind of madness that death makes. Long live the dead because we live in them”(CL). I have become indifferent to myself, indifferent to my own impenetrable obscurity. “The darkness in its unknowing is not outside us – the Outside . . . is coextensive with the human at its absolute limit”(ET).

In thinking thinking-without-thought there is a violence, a self-referential trauma of thought feeling more than it can think: “In the sublime thinking does a violence to itself. It feels more than it can think”(SZ via IK). Sublime is the catastrophe of thought hitting the event of extinction as that of its never-having-been. What are the feedback and feedforward loops between reality and extinction, between thought and its inexistence? If imagining extinction triggers an experience of the sublime, how does this feed back on our sensorium?

Affect is the measure of a world held together by the gravity of extinction. We are just following the affective cues of a world approaching its doom. Thinking the Anthropocene already happens, imperceptibly. “Before thinking, then, I’ve already thought”(CL). The negative sublime of extinction is the interrupted thought, the blank, the delay “between the organism as a sensory-motor apparatus and the world that is (at least intellectually) mapped according to its own measure”(CC). The abstract force of affect tweaks the gravity of thinking into a thought of life that takes the measure of death, into a thought of human scaled by its inhumanity, into a ‘will to power’ of inexistence itself as the only impetus for all existence.

“Signs don’t come from the mind. Rather, it is the other way around. What we call mind, or self, is a product of semiosis”(EK/CSP). The inhumanity of thought is apparent in thinking thought as climatological semiosis. Thinking thought as noosphere rather than as a product of any form of individuality implies a feedback and forward loop between cognition and practice, between thinking and moving, navigating the environment. Any alteration of the climate impinges upon thought. The more the environment becomes unruly, the more the rule of thought reforms itself. The more we approach extinction, the more the time of thinking collapses and intensifies. If “the sublime is a cybernetic diagram that can be instantiated in multiple ways”(SZ), thinking extinction is a mysticism of the ‘incomputable’(LP via GC), an ever interrupted affective calculus, an infinite recursion of what cannot be thought at the core of cognition. A superdeathspeed that silently mutilates the sensorial medium of our thinking. The event of extinction places itself on a diagram outside temporal causality. Extinction is the event with which one connects atemporally, mindlessly.

Thinking climactically climatological thinking, both as extinction and as ecology, can produce nervous breakdowns, inferential collapse, a dense fog of reason­ out of which strange contingencies emerge. Points of cognitive catastrophe, thought-discontinuities, are retroactively produced by the end of human climate. The ‘tychean’(CSP) aspect of thinking becomes more and more apparent in this anthropocenic atmosphere. ‘Blows of chance’(L) hit a thinking that risks throwing itself outside of itself, an outside from the inside. We are trapped into the retro-action of the event of extinction creating the mental and affective possibilities that have lead to it.

Backwards Anthropocene: extinction produces ‘us’.

In human eyes the dust of extinction is presently glaring. Thinking as the reflection of your look in the eyebeam of impossibility, in the intelligent stim of the dark pupil of extinction.

The thought-image of extinction is sublime and we are inhabiting its cosmic halo. We delve in a shadow-world glowing at the edges of extinction, of its never-having-been. “One can think of the halo . . . as a zone in which possibility and reality, potentiality and actuality, become indistinguishable”(GA). I am breathing the halo of my own inexistence. “The halo is the it”(CL).

Air is more thing than myself. I fall apart into infinite faint replicas of me. I dissipate, weaker than ether, drifting away, as inexistent as this “derelict world of dust”(JGB).

If affect is the perception of self-perception, the felt rhythm of a cascade of multiple-nothingness, then that perception gains more roundness, attains its fullness in a climate suffused by extinction. The more alive life is, the closer to its extinction. The completeness of life grows in equality with its becoming-extinct to the point that birth is equivalent with extinction. The absolute thought comprehends its own inexistence, its existence outside of itself. There is a gravity of extinction that changes the gravity of thought. “Love of life equals the love of extinction”(FF).

“[N]othing we know can ground or determine our decisions”(CC). Only nothingness becomes a decisional ground – of a decision that decides itself. The thought of the worst is a thought aiming for its own exuberance, its roundness is only achieved through its space of inexistence. The pessimal is the maximized joy of thought, thinking as fulfilled appetition. Realism becomes a cartography of a dislocated reality, of an in-itself always outside of itself, completed only by the inclusion of its destruction. Photographing the ‘deep field’ of the cosmos, Hubble has come so near to a representation of the history of the universe – “at a stone’s throw”(IHG). Nevertheless, “to have an accurate image of the origin of the world, Hubble must recover the inexistence of the world . . . If we manufacture a cosmos it must include its own inexistence.”(IHG). Galactic bliss: “ultimate black photograph”(NM).

Thinking climato-logically requires the entanglement of climate and thinking. Climate change is an altering and alteration of a more comprehensive climate – political, affective, cognitive, meteorological. Thinking extinction is trapped in a double bind: extinction of the thought of climate and thinking as climatic logic of extinction. Extinction is a possessive force. Thinking becomes the pace of swooning into the nothingness of oneself, into the 0-climate of individuation. We are doomed and our (in)human thinking burrows its way blindly and indifferently towards its own non-being to leave a thinking more round and complete follow its inhuman path. Ah, but even doom is intelligent, hence doom is itself doomed!

The paradoxical nature of anthropocenic thinking restores what was all the time there: an ontological negativity and a universal noncoincidence of matter with itself. Even “God is not fully himself – … there is something in God that isn’t God”(SZ/FWJS). Nothingness is intelligence in its recursive renunciation of its will to be nothing. The void relinquishes itself. It is being more than itself through volitional fade. Its auto-superposition opens up the wound of thinking that vomits on all the superlative brilliance of nothing. Nothing-intelligence is discharged from the suppurating impossibility of void’s coincidence with itself. Paradoxically, the clinamenial potential awakes in the more-than-empty sphere of renunciation. A more-than-silent intelligence has whispered this through me. The Lucretian clinamen, the unpredictable slight deviation of atoms falling through the void is a double thought-as-appetition: loss of appetite of the void that is gently, slightly devoured by the minimal gluttony of the falling atom, through its soft swerve. Thought is a self-actualizing deviation from itself. Thought: a double never-having­-been. Thought has never – more or less – gone astray from nothing.

Thinking thinks through me and in spite of me. I became a dark climatology of a beyond nearer than nearness itself. “We shall be inhuman – as humankind’s greatest conquest. To be is to be beyond the human”(CL). I feel a propensity to leap and yet to remain in place for I am not. Extinction is nested at the infra-level and my thinking is hopelessly pitted with its inexistence. I am more ()hole than whole.

In writing I am quoting you, I am quoting nothing. I am just weaving quotation marks around the nothingness of words.


Thought does not illuminate the Real, but projects its own real shadow upon what it cannot see.
Nicola Masciandaro
…points of nocturnal space do not refer to each other as illuminated space; there is no perspective, they are not situated.
Emmanuel Levinas

In a cosmical staring at the world-without-us the iconic black square seems to have enveiled the whole universe. The eternal night of a cosmos that excreted an accidental human world looms over the banal and familiar, even while basking in the sun. A void gapped into geometry (the measure of the geo, the earth). Every irreducible dot is the bearer of an infinite hole. In-finite is the body of the finite as black is the body of light.

The impersonal form of ‘it’ lurks upon any comforting sensation. “The mind does not find itself faced with an apprehended exterior. The exterior remains uncorrelated with an interior. It is no long given. It is no longer a world. What we call the I is itself submerged by the night, invaded, depersonalized, stifled by it”(EL).

Gazing into the night, I try to amplify its indistinctness until something is distinguished. In darkness something is never somewhere, it is everywhere. The more I strain my retinal muscles, the more I am driven mad by the ceaseless swarming of minuscule points. I am pointless, bathing in the waver of the night till annihilation. Nothing is something and I am fading away in the sea of dotted infinity. The night is a swarm of points that cripples my sight and swirls my anonymous thoughts. “I am from the never”(CL).

I cannot wipe away my night-thoughts, expectorate my existence, disarticulate the continuum between the whiteness of persistent bones and the bland error of my soft life. I carry darkness inside a body that is not even mine. This body – sac of darkness, fluid entrapment of anonymity, blind to itself, blind to its thoughts.

The matter of darkness is boiling in silent night-bubbles. Pitch-lava erupting from the nano-volcanoes of my pupil – a pupil no longer mine but of night itself. In darkness I see my sight, I feel my eyes seeing, touching on nothingness. Culmination of sight: by the enormous dilatation of the pupil I become black itself. I am pure infra-noir.

Introspection is a dark speleology of the vague being that is you. The cavernous inside is blob of cosmic darkness. You and I – freak accidents of death. Our lethargy: melting the day into night each night, melting the day into night each day. Light is a wound of the night and we are the dark wounds of light.

The night is a swarm of points creeping off the exterior to melt with what we are most sure that is us. We inhale the night and exhale spores of darkness, we feed on the fear ingrained in the matter of our very (in)existence. We are sweating waves of night while wiping the sudor of fear. Life is in us to germinate death.

The body, unfolded, holds on to a less and less cosy bottom of terra firma. The only reference left by a night that “strips consciousness of its very subjectivity” is the pulling force of the Earth. Submerged in the sweeping anonymous night I am one step away from the fall. A fall like a smooth and instant drill through the soil or a fall upwards – horrific jerk of the earth hurling me off it. Engulfed by the earth like the Conqueror Worm or falling through it. Through the ()hole that is my own (in)existence. Trapped in life, on the surface, inside the lures of an overwhelming futility. An unbearable blackness absorbs my crooked humanness and thrusts in me the seed of unknown. Submerged in the sweeping anonymous night the earth too forgets its solidity. “Black universe is the dark body of the Real. Stop looking. Stand in black universe, and see. ‘Nigra sum, sed formosa’ (Song of Songs 1:4) [I am black, but beautiful]”(NM).

image“Plunging one’s head back into the earth”, collectively.
A vision of Sfântul Pneumo-N din București

By the escalation of thinking’s terror of itself a terrible geotremor occured opening in its dark womb as many cephalic concavities as the number of people living on Earth. Garbage holes teeming with neurons: the final realization of networked reason as ground fertilizer.

born beheadedA thought in my head: I was born beheaded. My head stayed in my mother’s womb. I also lost a limb, my third leg. Presently I have three limbs, I shakily walk on two, since I already lack one, and the new third is a spiral that I am growing back to my mother’s womb to get back my head retro-passively.

(From The Curse of the Spiral)

Poster Final
The Congress of Pessimism is a series of events organized in connection to BMR’s Mediatic Affects course in the Art University of Bucharest. Events in the congress will include:

22-23th of April Dylan Trigg (University College Dublin), An Unhuman Phenomenology [at] Salonul de Proiecte

These lectures take their inspiration from a question central to contemporary philosophy: to what extent is our sense of identity informed by the materiality of our bodies? If phenomenology has attended to this question, then it has done so largely from the perspective of lived experience within a personal history. But there is another side to this relation between materiality and subjectivity which resists experience. Darker and more obscure, and at all times portending to something unknowable, this other side of the body has for the most part been overlooked by phenomenology. It is a body that is alien, alienated, and alienating. These two lectures approach the alien materiality of the body from joint perspectives: cosmic horror and body horror, both poles are united by an overarching thesis: the horror of the cosmos is the horror of the body and the horror of the body is the horror of the cosmos. This intertwining of the alien and the human inhabiting the same body is termed unhumaniy.

More here

12th of April Unsorcery meeting [at] Salonul de Proiecte

Now, when we realize that our ways of seeing, being, feeling and behaving are equivalent with the extinction of life, there is a kind of nostalgia in the air. Maybe we can go back before the world was disenchanted, before we lost the contact with ourselves and with nature. Before the witches were burned for our malevolent thinking to be accelerated. Maybe we can have again a more complete and meaningful relation with the environment. Maybe we can reduce the distance from nature and be nature again. Maybe something can be done for the human to be re-animated, sensible, empathic and to feel again – and perhaps this life enhancement will bring back the hope and the future will exist again… Unsorcery starts where these hopes end and the remaining options are rather negative, dark and dead. Unsorcery entails negativity and darkness as paths of knowledge departing from the unknown and the unknowable thus aligning itself with the via negativa of the mystic tradition to embrace an impossible cognition and a horrific affect. A heretic rationality and an affective oscillation between the neutral and the worst. The Unsorcery technique proposes concepts and practices such as Second Body, Dead Thinking, Eternal Feeding Technique that we don’t know where will lead but are oriented in a different direction than both the current capitalist religion and the nostalgic re-sorcery of world and nature.

More here

19th of April Launch of Bezna#5: Darkness, Fear, Unknown [at] Noaptea de inviere

More here

23-24th of April Nicola Masciandaro (Brooklyn College of CUNY), A Matter of Sorrow [at] Tranzit Bucuresti

Two lectures concerning a universal theory of sorrow. Radicalizing Heidegger’s insight that “the being of Da-sein is care [Sorge, sorrow],” I will affirm that sorrow belongs to the simple fact of being. Far from being limited to the evolutionary environment of our terrestrial sphere or the humoral confines of the human, sorrow is more properly a weird kind of cosmic substance composed of all being’s refusal of itself, the intrinsic negation of its own event. Grasping sorrow in these terms does not render actual, particular sorrow irrelevant or merely ontologically atmospheric, but rather redeems sorrow’s palpable darkness from both the hallucinogenic obscurity of affordable, instrumentalized problematicity (sorrow as something to be fixed or solved in the putative self-interest of making everything OK) and base ‘Manichean’ materiality (sorrow as merely an evil psychical ingredient in things). In this theory, sorrow is projectively restored to reality as not only a reflective index, but a perfectible operation of the universal, a way forward into new reality. Everyone knows that “he who increases knowledge, increases sorrow” (Ecclesiastes 1:18). Now is time to see the necessity of the obverse: he who does not increase sorrow, does not increase knowledge.

More here

26-27th of April Ben Woodard (Western University Canada) [at] Tranzit Bucuresti

More details soon

30th of April Horror of Amphitheatre, Bezna Dissections [at] University of Medicine

More details soon

The series of lectures was possible with the support of Erste Foundation / Patterns Lectures Program, WUS Austria, Salonul de proiecte and Tranzit Romania.

Dead Thinking

Alina Popa

Thinking: Pathological, Inhuman, Dark, Dead

Pour paraphraser Scott Fitzgerald, nous pourrions dire que le signe d’une intelligence chamanique de premiere ligne est la capacite à voir simultanement selon deux perspectives incompatibles.
Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, Métaphysiques cannibales

To reach the limits of the possible, it is necessary to dream the impossible.
René Thom

What is a thought experiment if not an application of abstract assumptions in circumstances different from their suspected scope and at the same time a refusal of all application of thinking? The persistence in the unstable parameters of a certain abstract schemata and a gestural intuition that doesn’t stabilize in any correct application reveals things as being least defined by their stable, identifiable and specific components. Knowledge is dynamical and not essential, it is production, not the static analysis of what is. ‘What is’ will never be the same once it is thought.

Heretical thinking is a form of mad insistence on the generative and dynamical process of any classificatory schema rather than on the classification itself, on the microcosmology of any act of separation, on the very (un)reason of distinction within any kind of system.(1) Or it may be fanatical insistence on an ontological flatness with the least possible compromises in the absolute depressive feeling toward everything there is: thing, relation, event, even contradiction.(2) One is schizophrenia, the other is depression, but there are many types of germinative pathologies. Thought experiment entails bouts of pathological thinking and disease remission in order for it to become available in a known form of expression. And it has unknown consequences.

Roger Caillois contended that “[f]rom whatever side one approaches things, the ultimate problem turns out in the final analysis to be that of distinction: distinctions between the real and the imaginary, between waking and sleeping, between ignorance and knowledge.”(3) Pathological thinking lets itself lead by the paranoid doubt that wherever it cannot distinguish anything there is nevertheless something and that whatever seems distinct and separated might in fact pertain to a system it does not recognize as a whole. To think sharply in fuzziness and foggy in clear day.

Indeed this paranoia has to start with the idea of the ‘self’, both the thinking and the given experience of a ‘self’. Pathological reason is a pendulation between the humiliating idea of self as junk and the resignation that self is not an underlying essence to which to return but is instead a hypothesis(4) – the junk basis of our capacity to know. Affectively it corresponds to an oscillation between unknown and the worst, between analysis and paralysis, between dead thinking and deadly thinking. It oscillates because it cannot reconcile the methods it applies – and it is guilty of applying frames of knowing that exclude each other: “To quote Scott Fitzgerald, we could say that the sign of a remarkable shamanic intelligence is the capacity to view simultaneously along two incompatible perspectives”(5) Dead Thinking is the irreconcilability of thinking and life.

What is a thought experiment if not a mimicry of the thinking of its object, a propensity to stretch and fold the thinking matter into the shape of the object of thinking? Following naturphilosopher Schelling, “[b]eing (objectivity) is always merely an expression of a limitation of the intuiting or producing activity. There is a cube in this portion of space, means nothing else but that in this part of space my intuition can be active only in the form of a cube. The ground of all reality in cognition is thus the ground of limitation independent of intuition.”(6) In other words, “when I think of a cube my thinking takes the shape of the cube”.(7) Without this limitation one cannot abstract, because abstraction is an extraction, a reduction (abstract comes from the Latin abstractus which means drawn away, past participle of abstrahere to drag away, detach, pull away, divert). I have to stop all other forms of intuition and to activate a finite space of reasoning and only then the necessary distance for classifications and different logical operations becomes possible. The limitation of intuition is actually the condition of possibility for objective reasoning.

Not only does thinking involve an operation of mimicry in order to transform and order the environment into its available abstract operations: “There is a cube in this portion of space, means nothing else but that in this part of space my intuition can be active only in the form of a cube.” Conversely, the dislocating force of ideas manipulate the materiality of thinking and change their very substance. “Signs don’t come from the mind. Rather, it is the other way around. What we call mind, or self, is a product of semiosis.”(8) As in the naturphilosophical thought both idea and matter pertain to nature and all reasoning is a pendulation between thinking and nature, thinking recapitulates nature and nature recapitulates thinking. “Our thoughts are like the world because we are of the world. Thought (of any kind) is a highly convoluted habit that has emerged out of, and is continuous with, the tendency in the world toward habit taking”.(8) The production of concepts is a production of nature: “‘all philosophy must go about either to make an intelligence out of nature, or a nature out of intelligence’, the making in question is not arbitrary or voluntaristic, but naturalistic on both sides. That is, that ‘nature IS a priori’ is the ground of all Schelling’s transcendental experiments, regardless of which direction they take, whether ‘animating laws of nature into laws of mind’ or ‘materialising laws of mind into laws of nature’”(6)

At the same time Schelling suggests that there is a mimetic aspect to thinking, taking the ‘shape’ of its object. Of course it would be easier to imagine this mimicry in a cartoonish way, like Tom’s brain taking the form of Jerry. For a ‘dead thinker’ there are good reasons to recognize that neither thinking is entirely the brain(9) nor the object is an ideal recognizable form but rather a dark vague substance like black ponds of ooze. In the age of Anthropocene and the coming catastrophe as a result of climate change and global pandemics a new mode of thought and action must emerge, another subjectivity of the non-subject, haunted by the weird, the impersonal, the inhuman. How are human thinking and affect being molded by the global scale extinction? How does human thinking take the shape of its own inexistence? How is intuition active in a shapeless shape that is its own negation?  Or, as Claire Colebrook puts it: “How would theory confront the absence of theoria: ‘life’ without the human look? Life without praxis, life without meaningful action, life without production or labour: such would be theory after theory, or theory that opened itself to the thought of extinction.”(10) This is the experiment of dead thinking. What kind of nature does this dead thought produce, what is the nature of this surplus of extinction?

Darkness: the Impossible and the Non-non-contradiction

Thought does not illuminate the Real, but projects its own real shadow upon what it cannot see.
Nicola Masciandaro

A heretical thought is a thought capable of reforming its very basis. It is a thought destructive of its foundations and possibly of its founders too. How does thinking supersede cognitive thresholds, how does thinking produce itself anew? Is the overcoming of reasoning borders equivalent with the impossible made possible? Throughout history, before and after Greek philosophy and logics were founded, mystics and visionaries, heretics and so-called religious dogmatists alike were the ones concerned with this triumph over what is regarded as the possible, with a shadow-knowledge that embraces darkness and the inaccessible unknown.

The Russian mystical thinker Shestov gives in his book “Athens and Jerusalem”, where he opposes Greek thought to mystical thought, a radically simple definition of knowledge. Knowledge is “that something which differs essentially from us” and “enters into us”.(11) His contention is that this strange and alien character of knowledge is immediately tamed by an operation of identifying its nature with the nature of the knower: “Having put this question, he will be satisfied only when he will have proved, or imagine himself to have proved, that the subject and object of knowledge do not differ and are at bottom one and the same thing and that, consequently, the impossible does not exist”.(11)

The impossible in a cognitive operation is thus identified as the new, the alien, what is propelled beyond the cognitive environment maintained by thought limitation (in the sense of Schelling’s cube). Knowledge as something “which differs essentially from us” and “enters into us” is the body-horror of philosophy and reveals a fear at the base of all knowledge. Fear of knowledge is a confrontation of the inside with the outside: the feeling of horror that “the outside will come and negate whatever the self is”.(7) Hence, “epistemology is the affective linchpin between nature as exterior and nature as interior”.(7)

Mystical thinking has always dealt with the embrace of the impossible, most evidently in the tradition of via negativa which was opened in the 6th century by Dionysius the Areopagite. Via negativa promises a union with the divine by following a negative path. There are two ways to talk about the divine, one is the discourse of negative theology, in which the unknowability of God is demonstrated logically through a series of negative statements, the other is the allegorical and poetical path of “darkness mysticism” suggesting the forever hiddenness of the divine “beyond the pale of human thought and comprehension”.(12)

A cognition of the impossible is tangent to a theology of darkness (tenebrositas). The introduction of nihil in thought experiment enveils in thick clouds and dark mist the logic of enlightenment which spreads its first rays from the luminous mysticism of Saint Augustine. The pathology of nihil contamination is described by the 9th century Irish mystic Eriugena in the language of uncertainty and vagueness: “I feel myself to be surrounded on all sides by the dark clouds of my thoughts (nebulis ualde tenebrosis cogitationum)”.(13) Whereas blurriness and imprecision are slowly perforating any stable epistemological grounds, nihil and darkness hide an absolute ontological alterity, the divine alien which can only permeate cognition affectively, through extreme experiential states such as fear and horror. For Eriugena the divine is at once “superlative positivity and yet the nothingness of negativity”(13): “while the divine in itself is supereminent, beatific light, the divine causes are darkness and shadow, waste (inania) and void (uacua).”(13) This nebulous realm of knowledge is described by Eriugena as the “dark intelligible abyss”, a germinative horror ingrained in any matter of light.

Similarly, the 14th century mystical thinker Meister Eckhart reveals that “nothingness is the only thing to speak about when you speak of the divine”. In his 16th century poem and commentary “The dark night of the soul”, John of the Cross has indeed a deep dramatic involvement with the impossible, revealed in night of senses, in the dissolution of spirit: “darkness of the senses and darkness of the soul leads to a limit known as divine darkness”(14). Positing the unknown before the known could produce a methodology of fear, a philosophy of horror and uncertainty: “If a man wishes to be sure of the road he treads on, he must close his eyes and walk in the dark”(14). Complicity with anonymity and with the indiscernible ungrounds any stabilized, all-too-earthly knowledge: “To come to be what you are not you must go by a way in which you are not.”(14) Finally, to oppose the law of non-contradiction formulated by Aristotle in his logics (at the basis of any valid philosophical statement) is to know the divine: “To face the impossible when the possible slips away is to know the divine”(14).

Darkness is “the blindspot of knowledge that inhabits all the knowledge”(15), it is the impossible immanent in possibility. The aporetic knowledge is a succession of endless negations, asymptotically close to a knowing of the divine, although this knowledge never fulfills and can only possibly prove the implacable unknowability of God. Moreover, darkness mysticism demonstrates the inappropriateness of using logics and deductions to approach the superlative, proposing instead a fear-philosophy of the senses driven by the horrific intensity of paradox.

We are thus firstly confronted with a weak impossible. The weak impossible is inherent in processes of knowing, it is Shestov’s “impossible” and reason’s self-reform. Its correspondence in mathematics would be the catastrophe points theorized by René Thom. Catastrophe points are probabilities of perturbation which by extrapolation could constitute the border between two apparently alien reasoning spaces. In a seemingly homogenous zone these perturbation events happen producing a discontinuity of overall laws that govern that particular system. An example would be the formation of cyclones out of random gusts of wind. Secondly, there is a strong impossible: that which is impossible to think and possibly deadly to feel. This latter is closer to the “dark abyss” and the “darkness of unknowing”(14) of the mystic tradition. Extinction is the global scale weak impossible that confronts the human with the strong impossible of thinking its own inexistence.

If we subtract the God from darkness mysticism, we are left, as Eugene Thacker is writing, with a “mysticism of the unhuman”(12), or we could say, a dead-thinking of the impossible. The divine is essentially the alterity, the absolute Not-I, the strongest negation of the human, the impossibility of non-contradiction (the non-non-contradiction). This mysticism of the unhuman could be a more appropriate form of knowing a universe that is indifferent to the human, a world-without-us that is without us both before and after the extinction of the human species.

In the Russian thought there have been two apparently disconnected ways of escaping the world-for-us. A reading through the concepts of extinction and world-without-us would give a different perspective on the 20th century Russian mysticism. A contemporary of Shestov and a religious marxist, Nikolai Berdiaev writes in his book “The Meaning of the Creative Act”: “We are not of the world and we should not love the world and what is in the world”(16). The world-for-us is thus discarded in favor of the cosmos (the world-without-us). For Berdiaev the divine knowledge is granted only by escaping the world to find a cosmos of full “creativity”, for this is in his view the meaning of creation – an absolute freedom (we could say potentiality) embedded in a cosmos ready to repudiate an all-too-human world.

Although it must be said that Berdiaev was accused (including by Shestov) of being anthropocentric, there is a layer in his thinking that absolutely embraces the impossible and rejects the world-as-home. His anthropocentrism is heretical in the sense that he gives a divine measure to the human. The primary guilt of his thought is the optimistic idea that there is meaning, when most probably the meaning is total indifference. A heretical reading of his notion of anthropocentrism would be that the unknown, darkness, the unhuman is immanent to the known, light, the human. An account of the unhuman is made possible by our own very humanness. Eugene Thacker points out that “one of the greatest challenges that philosophy faces today lies in comprehending the world in which we live as both a human and a non-human world – and of comprehending this politically”.(12)

Interestingly, “The Meaning of the Creative Act” had been written just a few years before Malevich painted the 1915 “Black Square”- which was to replace the religious paintings that, in Russia, used to be placed in the upper corner of rooms. Malevich provides another interesting example of the relation between communism (see the less known text of Malevich at the death of Lenin) and religion.(17) His black square is a form of “darkness mysticism”, the tabula rasa of representation on which to construct a new social order and a suprematist aesthetics. The color black is the absolute non-color while at the same time containing all the colors. Black abducts the “plague of colors” reflecting nothing. By persisting in watching the black in black, a dark contagion of sight occurs and, like in the Greek statues with two black holes instead of eyes, it only reveals the shadow projected by the human seeing on everything that it cannot understand: “Thought does not illuminate the Real, but projects its own real shadow upon what it cannot see”.(18) Against the Western oculocentric tradition and demonstrating the inverse of the extramission theory of sight, a dead thought projects rays of darkness in the daylight upon what it can really see.

The second direction of escape that we will not treat at length here is not intensive but extensive. It is found in the Russian cosmist movement, a communist project to physically exit the Planet, recognizing a final irreconciliation between man and nature. Nikolai Fedorov, one of the prominent cosmist thinkers has written his “The Philosophy of the Common Task” in the late 1880s. The common task is a plan for the human race to escape the Planet: “storm the heavens and conquer the earth”.(19) In a recent article about the connection of Russian cosmism with the contemporary accelerationist project (which finds the only way to exit capitalism in exiting this world) Benedict Singleton concludes: “In isolated form, this is the characteristic gesture of cosmism, what we might call the ‘cosmist impulse’: to consider the earth a trap, and to understand the common project of philosophy, economics, and design as being the formulation of means to escape from it: to conceive a jailbreak at the maximum possible scale, a heist in which we steal ourselves from the vault.”(20)

In a cosmic staring at the world-without-us the black square seems to have enveiled the whole universe. The accidental human world will eventually fade into the eternal night of a cosmos. The impersonal form, like in ‘it rains’ lurks behind the banal and familiar, even while basking in the sun. “The mind does not find itself faced with an apprehended exterior. The exterior. . .remains uncorrelated with an interior. It is no longer given. It is no longer a world. What we call the I is itself submerged by the night, invaded, depersonalized, stifled by it.”(21) The night is a swarm of points that does not enter our bodies but it is already inside. We carry darkness inside a body that is not even ours.

Thinking with Death

Death, understood as the principle of decontraction driving the contractions of organic life is not a past or future state towards which life tends, but rather the originary purposelessness which compels all purposefulness, whether organic or psychological.
Ray Brassier

Humanity is a petrified fiction hiding from zero, a purgatorial imprisonment of dissolution, but to be stricken with sanctity is to bask in death like a reptile in the sun.
Nick Land

Reason can be defined as the ratio of separation of the self from the environment. At least the illusion of this separation is a necessary trick to make the individuality, the natural concept of ‘self’ a sustainable form of organization. The birth of narcissism, of identity, of A=A coincides with the an extensive discontinuity between the self and environment. Discontinuity entails classification and thus a certain kind of order but it itself is accidental, contingent. In order to distinguish one needs limitation for the world is unlimited. All distinctness is a question of borders, but also of inhibition. It is a question of life and death: “To be the world one must stop being in the world”.(12)

A human drive to be the world is to be found in Freud’s account of the death drive in his “Beyond the Pleasure Principle” – the compulsion of the organic to return to the inorganic. Death precedes life and hence is a return, not a way out. In our descent towards the understage of annihilation we hit not the “glass ceiling” as in the seemingly upward boost of corporate jobs but the wall of the floor – a dark jerk vomiting us back to our petit cosy human world on and on: “The floor is also a wall”.(22)

The view of life from the perspective of cosmic economy reveals the momentary arrest of energy by this metastable organic formation followed by its dissolution, its final release of this energetic luxury. Death is the a movement of reintegration into the downwards flow of the cosmos, a re-inscription in the economical vague matter, before finally hitting the zero, the blank, the nihil: “Death, wastage, or expenditure is the only end, the only definitive terminus.”(22) Nick Land in his “Thirst for Annihilation” relies on Bataille’s concept of expenditure: a general, solar expansion of Marxist thinking, where consumption is cosmic and production happens because there is always an excess. We are arresting the energy of the sun only to let it go and the upwards boost of life is merely a “deviation from blank”, a digression from this general movement of irreversible loss: “Life is able to deviate from death only because it also propagates it, and the propagation of disorder is always more”(22).

According to the second law of thermodynamics in any system that uses energy entropy increases. Heat dissipates illustrating a tendency towards even temperatures everywhere, towards an energetic flatness which makes energy unavailable for work. The apogee of the tiredness in every system is heat-death – the cosmic exhaustion of useful energy, the final triumph of entropy (useless energy), the end of the universe. Thus thinking with death is thinking of death as a tiny step ahead to catch up with the downward tendency of the universe, with the decaying ratio of chemistry. It is to hit the wall of the floor and stay there worming for desperation that the earth will not even keep its dead, let alone the living.
Production of life and defiance of death in the capitalist “total subsumption”(23) through “cloning, digital agents, downloaded minds, transplanted organs, the whole gamut of the cyberpunk imagination scattered all over the cultural landscape”(24) is a false route of escape. The circulation of death is just another solar capitalist wastage on the way to the great nihil unbound forever from life, to the eternal night of the senses.

In his essay “Mimicry and Legendary Psychasthenia” from 1935, Roger Caillois identifies an instinct d’abandon underpinning the camouflage of animals. Written at the same time as Bataille was releasing his main work, he contends, using facts from biology studies, that animal camouflage is not a utilitarian defence mechanism but it is part of biological organism’s compulsion to become-space, to become its environment. It is the drive of the non-human animals towards indistinction. Creatures such as the insects Phyllia imitate the color, texture and even imperfections of the green leaves they feed on. Far from being a self-preservation strategy, the camouflage of these insects becomes deadly in an usual way. Two observations have been made. One is that the perfect resemblance of these insects with the green leaves they feed on starts being confusing even for themselves to the extent that they engage in a deadly act of collective cannibalism. The other is that in their compulsion to assimilate the space they are inhabiting the mimetic insects imitate so accurately the leaf they occupy and eat to even include its rotting process. To achieve this dangerous «teleplasty» (the mimicry of the leaf) the Phyllium performs a self-induced decay through autophagia. These weird creatures start eating themselves in order to resemble the rotting leaf. Ray Brassier sums this up very well: “Mimicking the death of that from which it draws nourishment, the Phyllium becomes the living index of its food›s decay for its own vital appetite”(25).

The psychasthenic drive of letting go of the self and returning to the inorganic by mimicking its very image reveals a post-self behavior, a compulsion stronger than life itself. The self is a gap, a differentiation from space, a de-assimilation of the environment. The primary condition for the existence of a self is precisely its original indistinctness, its indiscernability, hence the thanatotropic regression. From the perspective of the Phyllia, dead thinking is a thought that eats itself in a total abandonment of survival. It is the triumph of the consumption (in Bataille’s sense) through self-consumption.

This is the dreadful return of thought to nature by following very organically and in only one direction the epistemological movement proposed by Naturphilosophie (the oscillation between thinking and nature). Collapsing thinking and nature is the end of epistemology. Before engaging in this incredible account of the organic revolt against identity, Caillois had already opposed the instinct of self-preservation in his “Art on Trial by Intellect” associating what he called ‘pure’ art and science to a certain intactness of the self. In the face of extinction we are faced with the idea of self as junk, as being no-one(26). Dead Thinking is a thought that irreversibly compromises the self.

Caillois finds the drama of the psychasthenic compulsion played out in the difference between action and representation, between human at the center of Cartesian coordinates and the realization that this reference point (that constitutes the self at least in the modern tradition) is just one among others. Thus “legendary psychasthenia” is an onto-epistemological disturbance played out between personality and space. To illustrate this pathology Caillois uses the response of the schizophrenic to the question where are you?: “I know where I am, but I do not feel as though I›m at the spot where I find myself.”(3) He goes on to explain: “To these dispossessed souls, space seems to be a devouring force. Space pursues them, encircles them, digests them in a gigantic phagocytosis. It ends by replacing them. Then the body separates itself from thought, the individual breaks the boundary of his skin and occupies the other side of his senses. He tries to look at himself from any point whatever in space. He feels himself becoming space, dark space where things cannot be put.”(3) Finally we get to the fear of darkness approached from a different perspective but which certainly leads us to the germinal night of the mystic: “The magical hold. . .of night and obscurity, the fear of the dark, probably also has its roots in the peril in which it puts the opposition between the organism and the milieu.”(3)

Caillois correlates the undermining of one’s sense of the self with Minkovski’s psychiatric definition of schizophrenia as inhabiting a “dark space”. He quotes Minkovski: “Dark space envelops me on all sides and penetrates me much deeper than light space, the distinction between inside and outside and consequently the sense organs as well, insofar as they are designed for external perception, here play only a totally modest role.”(3) We recognize in the dark space of the schizophrenic the night where we sense the “il y a” of Levinas and the same affective state of horror when being stripped of one’s subjectivity, when drowned and stifled by the pitch-black presence. Being digested by the night is for Levinas the only way to sense what he calls the “existence without existents”, an absolutely impersonal and anonymous verb “there is” that pervades all being.

Maurice Blanchot’s Thomas the Obscure suffers from the same malady of confusing himself with his environment, always pendulating between life and death, within multiple perspectives and invaded terminally by an unbearable vagueness of being. Thomas is akin to Minkovski’s schizophrenic in that he inhabits the space of groping and hallucination: “The night was more somber and more painful than he could have expected. The darkness immersed everything; there was no hope of passing through its shadows, but one penetrated its reality in a relationship of overwhelming intimacy. His first observation was that he could still use his body, and particularly his eyes; it was not that he saw anything, but what he looked at eventually placed him in contact with a nocturnal mass which he vaguely perceived to be himself and in which he was bathed”.(27) As the mystic or as the one who stares into the black square: “[Thomas] saw nothing, and, far from being distressed, he made this absence of vision the culmination of his sight”.(27)

The affect of horror is bound to a process of de-personalization, of exteriority becoming interiority and vice-versa that we fully recognize in Minkovski’s description of schizophrenic perception, in darkness mysticism, in the grasping of Levinas’s “il y a”, in mimetic insects’ “assimilation of space”, in the dark space of Thomas the Obscure. Indeed, as Caillois is writing “[l]ife takes a step backwards”(3) towards a frightening perception of a self engulfed by space, towards an “unhuman phenomenology”(28). This phenomenology is not involved in correlating the body to the world but in recognizing a materiality of the body capable of registering the “great Outdoors”(29), or the world-without-us. Horror might be the only possible affective and cognitive reconciliation with the extinction to come, with an Anthropocene left to no geologists to study.

On Life and the End of Healthy Thinking

It is very hard to determine what is actually particular to life, its own ‘own’. Eugene Thacker doubts that life limits itself to the lived experience and opens thought to an idea of life as something unnameable, inhuman as H.P. Lovecraft’s “the nameless thing”. Our thinking recognizes life as its source, but what makes us so sure that thinking does not transcend life and annihilate it in an indifferent and contingent manner? Ray Brassier contends that “thinking has interests that do not coincide with those of the living.”(25) Thinking extinction intensely can produce ruptures, humiliations, ungroundings. We are in a time when we recognize that the nature is queer, that the earth is alien, that our thinking may betray life. One of the operations of a dead thinking or of a thinking-with-extinction is to disarticulate the main joints of modern thought: human-thinking-life.

The de-linking of thinking and human cannot be reduced just to the acknowledgement of reasoning processes at the basis of today’s capitalist value production such as computation and algorithms. Whitehead invites us not to start to explain mankind in terms applicable to lowliest forms of life but it seems to him more truly empirical and more sensible to construe the earlier forms by analogy to the later forms. Following this reasoning, algorithms would be less thought of as products of human thinking which have progressively lost their human character and instead human thinking would have something as inhuman as this mode of reasoning which is performing autonomously.

What will the radical unbinding of life from human, of thinking from human and of thinking from life produce at the level of practice and theory? Indeed neither human thinking be it practical or theoretical can save the world nor the unhuman mode of thought (algorithms) can decelerate its destruction. We are doomed and our (in)human thinking burrows its way blindly and indifferently towards its own non-being.

Capitalism is solar, vital, the promise of light and progress, the aiming of success. A healthy, alive thinking is the promise of the sun, the guarantor of a successful life, away from the misery of cosmic affairs. In a time when everything from advertising, career advisers, life coaches, even products themselves promise intense ‘experiences’, when “the enemy of marketing is cognition”(30) and the obsession of managers are emotions, thinking with death promises nothing. That nothing is either frightening or experienceless.

Even death becomes an experience-business worthy of the 1965 film “The Loved One” with grandmothers turned into diamonds, tombs into football trophies, Twitter accounts working from the after-life, angel-phones to talk to the inorganic from your bed, luxury coffins and funerary spectacle. Decay is to be hailed(31), otherwise we would propel our loved ones into the outer space to transform them into tiny satellites of the Earth, as in the above-mentioned film (due to the real estate business that makes even graveyards scarce). Resembling an anecdote, an American man who bought a property signaled it to be a cemetery in order to chase away the possible homeless who would have entered the property without permission.
Thinking with death is entering such property to grow trees and veggies on tombs, to embrace the neophytes of the inorganic and reject any private property. Thinking with death is taming the “plague of colors”(32) that signals the advent of the new aesthetic yoke. One looks both into the earth and the feet or away from the earth and the head to reach for an indifferent universe from which there is no escape. Away from the “plague of colors” is the cold “shadow at the bottom of the world”(32).

Thought Eats Nature

In “The Function of Reason” Whitehead defines the function of Reason as being “to promote the Art of Life”.  But the art of life has nothing to do with the survival of the fittest. “The fallacy is the belief that fitness for survival is identical with the best exemplification of the Art of Life. In fact life itself is comparatively deficient in survival value. The art of persistence is to be dead.”(33) Sustainability could never be one of life and by any means is it brought by a life entirely subsumed to capital, right on the contrary. Acceleration of capitalist production with its total engulfing of experience, affect, knowledge and cognitive capacities is an acceleration not towards the ecological or social sustainability but towards the ontological sustainability of being dead. The inorganic is far more persistent than the organic and their complicity is a process of regression following the “compulsion of the organic to return to the inorganic”. Freud sees death as preceding life, hence the death-drive, the thanatropic regression, becoming-inorganic or in other words the psychological urge to annihilate the distance to the environment, to become the world and let go of the Reason that “promotes the Art of Life”. The only way to adapt to the environment is to become the environment, that is to be dead. As Whitehead explains the doctrine of adaptation to the environment is flawed as the upward trend of evolution “has been accompanied by a growth of the converse relation.” “Animals have progressively undertaken the task of adapting the environment to themselves. They have built nests, and social dwelling-places of great complexity; beavers have cut down trees and dammed rivers; insects have elaborated a high community life with a variety of reactions upon the environment.”(33) Hence: “higher forms of life are actively engaged in modifying their environment. In the case of mankind this active attack on the environment is the most prominent fact in his existence”.(33) Even the most “intimate actions of animals are activities modifying the environment”.(33) We manipulate nature through breathing.(34)

If reason is the ratio of separation from the environment, the apparition of what we call consciousness and so called higher forms of reason seems to be also a discontinuity, a fuzzy zone of catastrophe on the contingent evolutionary paths. A discontinuity between the environment and the organism to the point that the latter does not recognize the former as being of the same class. Without the illusion of differentiation through extensive and intensive thresholds of discontinuity thinking identity would be impossible. The apogee of identity-centered thinking, of narcissism and thus of this illusion of separation from the surrounding nature is to be found in modern thinking beginning with Renaissance and continuing with enlightenment, with the industrial and technological eras that follow. This thinking is life-oriented, is bound to ideas of progress and growth. It is an instrumental reason, all-too-human and without the horizon of its self-induced catastrophe.

To be aware of the uselessness of consciousness is linked to the experience the horror. “I think therefore I am” is transformed by Thomas Ligotti into “I think therefore I am and one day I will die”(35). Once consciousness appeared something dark and abysmal found its way worming inside the bland thoughts of humankind. A healthy thinking perceives consciousness and reason as being something advanced. But from the perspective of a dead thinking consciousness and reason can equally be accidental protuberances. If reason and higher forms of consciousness may seem to have played a function of adaptation, now it is clear that they are just convoluted ways to annihilation. Human comes from the Latin “humando”, meaning to bury. There is a Romanian proverb that “whomever digs somebody else’s pit, falls him(her)self into it”. This could be the quintessence of ecological thought today, we are fully facing the mouth of this deep dark pit. Humans have been engaged in an attack upon the environment, in an autophagia that they do not recognize until it is too late.

Cosmic Autophagia

“chasing one’s tail”

The notion of environment itself is a life-centered notion being the one that encloses, that encircles primarily life. Mechanical circles, pressure circles, thermic circles, chemical circles are cycles of displacement between maximum and minimum points. The sun – the giant sphere of atomic explosion feeds this planetary transformation of distinction and separation into circulation. To be separated from the environment is to be part of the encircling movement that uselessly wastes solar energy in its reach towards the void. The libidinal force of circulation twisted the ur-environment (the prebiotic soup) with a force that made it spit out the animism of forms. “Plankton coral, polyps, mollusks, fish, mammals, cetaceans” all twisting and moving in circular motions. The equatorial circle, the circle of fire, the cyclone  – all “delineate a system of cycles, a circle of circles”. “The recipe for the soup is the encyclopedia”.(36)

The circle is traced in multiple ways between the self and its environment. First, the Ouroboros, the mythical snake eating its own tail, its very body. The snake’s autophagia is a gastronomical act upon oneself, where there is no environment. The self is itself the environment. And environment is the encircled self, a round zero of self-annihilation and eternity: “To be the world one must stop being in the world.” The point where the snake eats is fuzzy, there is no clear demarcation, no final bite to break this infernal organic circle. Circles like the Ouroboros are moving but you can never grasp their movement because they do not coincide with themselves.(37) What goes around comes around.

The lamprey is a snake-looking animal, a primitive aquatic organism that has made the first step towards a healthy thinking. Lampreys are parasitic, having a fierce round mouth without any jaws but which encircles more concentric rows of strong teeth that dig into their prey to feed on their cold-blood circulation. Before the act of predation they take out their long tongue and they switch their function from predator to prey. They turns themselves into a prey (their tongue) in order to individuate themselves, to make the distinction between them-selves and the prey. Rotating roles between predator and prey is a technology to avoid eating oneself. If the ‘I’ cannot recognize itself as ‘I’, it will become autophagic. The self is a trick, an externalization of their own image in order to be able to make the distinction between the self and the other. “The nervous system is an organ of alienation.”(38) The Ouroboros is exactly one step back from the snake-looking lamprey, it is a logical paradox, an impossible being and non-being at the same time. The snake rotates in itself, while the lamprey rotates outside itself.

In his “Le Parasite” Michel Serres takes La Fontaine’s fables among his multitude of references to talk about the human centered-ness in popular moralizing stories and to develop his ontology of parasitism. In one of these famous fables, Serres discovers another weird example of a contradictory thing, being and non-being concomitantly. Another paradoxical creature, a blunt piece of organic matter opposing with full force the Aristotelian excluded middle of logics. A weird chunk of creature humbly but strongly opposing the identity-principle that has guided most philosophy. The negation of narcissism in the brash assurance when affirming that A=A.  A wood chopper sees an almost frozen snake outside. In a gesture of absolute anthropocentric charity, he takes the animal into his home to give it warmth and shelter. Of course, as soon as the creature recovers from freezing the snake becomes the wild dangerous animal that wants to ‘bite the hand that feeds it’. The man thus takes his axe and cuts the animal in three: trancher le serpent, trancher in French means cut and moreover following the Latin origin of the word, to cut in three, trois. Trancher means also decider, to decide, trancher la situation.(39) And here comes the incredible thinking of Serres: he goes further visualizing the three parts of the snake. The head, the middle and the tail. What interests us is the most obscure part, the middle. The one at the same time being and non being, the excluded third – the excluded middle. We are faced with a fully abstract parasite, with that immanent mistiness in humans as well as in matter, what refuses to be an object of knowledge or just an element in a chain of inference. It is a parasite that interrupts thinking, the catastrophe point, the cognitive impossible. It is a chopped piece of Ouroboros, a paradox from paradox.

Likewise Brian Massumi when talking about the body and affect demonstrates that a body does not coincide with itself.(40) A body does not coincide with its present, it is foreign matter in excess: potentiality and actuality at the same time, abstractness and concreteness. Affect is a dark concept and the body a blurry thing of contradiction.(41) The concept of recursive causality that Massumi uses to talk about this contradictory body entails the effect being part of the cause. The feedback loop is a loop that not only feed the effect, but also feeds the cause with the effect. It is an incomplete Ouroboros, eating partially its tail. How does recursive causality complicate the problem of global warming. If thought eats nature, how does extinction feed back on thinking?

Talking about “dark ecology” and the “noncontradiction thought-virus”(37) introduced by Aristotle to propose a philosophy of ambiguity and contradiction Timothy Morton contends that also “a fish doesn’t coincide with itself” illustrating the discontinuity problem in evolution. The process of evolution is faced with a temporal discontinuity. There is surely a threshold, a rupture of continuity between human beings and primates for example but one can never point to the border between the species going back to natural history. Timothy Morton explains this using Sorites paradox according to which there is no possible point while placing grains of sand one on top of the other where one can say: this is a heap. In a similar way, for a man losing progressively his hair there is no moment to point the passing to the stage of being bold. Evolution is weird and life forms do not coincide with themselves. They are fuzzy just like the Ouroboros.
What if this excluded parasitic third is the world which refuses to be an environment, the circle let loose, the world-without-us? Is it not the impersonal nature of ourselves that lurks upon us, the parasite that interrupts all meals, all life, all thinking? No wonder zero is a circle because it is the middle part of the snake seen in section, it is the contradictory Ouroboros, a contour of the black sun that the Earth is encircling to the point of its hot annihilation.

In a fully epistemological loop, “[b]y turning back upon itself, nature is the source of self-knowledge, it is itself the origin of the science of nature”.(36) Thought and nature are chasing each other in a spinning movement that we call knowledge, the encyclopedia. The loop is going downwards just to leave a deep darkness in the middle of the ‘environment’. “To chase one’s tail” is to designate a point of no progress, of stagnation, a negative feature of human action. This is what modernity has done from an ecological perspective and we are infinitesimally close to big moment of the catch.

Epilogue: The Real Black Box

One of the most familiar emotions is fear of death. But truly in these times when death seems much more powerful, when the rate of extinction of species is the most accelerated in the history of the planet, time has come to stop thinking from the point of view of life and embrace the perspective of death. Dead thinking is not to feel frightened while facing death but to sense the dread of the dead face to face with the living. Dead Thinking is not a thinking that slides neatly on the surface of the earth, but it buries itself with the dead to think from the underground, in the thick rare air of putrefied blackness, dark fungus, in the swarming of worms.

Looking through a non-human perspective life-giving oxygen is death for anaerobic bacteria who inhabited the earth before the Oxygen catastrophe took place about roughly 2.45 billion years ago. Photosynthesis-conductive cyanobacteria (blue-green algae that are symbiotically incorporated now by all plants on earth) started taking over, outnumbering by far the other anaerobic organisms and produced one of the biggest extinction events on earth. Dead Thinking is the asphyxiation of healthy thought in murky microbiological affairs and in even murkier human ones.

We fully inhabit in the age of bacteria.(42) Anaerobic bacteria are the ancestors of today’s extremophiles: barophiles, piezophiles, psychrophiles, thermophiles who thrive in extreme environments – hot, cold, acidic, dark, highly pressurized, high radiation and toxicity levels, low O2 levels, low consumption of carbon sources. Minuscule animals like the bacteria Deinococcus Radiodurans or the deep-sea archeon Thermococcus profundus, like the Devil Worm, the jumping spider or the tardigrade turn out to be the most persistent organic forms of life, the ones that will surely survive the human apocalypse. These are the survivors of the extinction to come – the weakest and peripheral, almost imperceptible forms of life – in fact that are barely recognized as life.

Complexity is not persistent and life will escape the less it stands out to us as life. Dead Thinking is about trying to live, think and act from the deadly perspective of the current gloomy ecological conditions. To play on the understage, in the real black box of extremophiles and worms.

1. Example of contemporary heresies: Meillasoux who takes the concept of contingency as the generative element of any ontology, that is at any given moment the actual parameters of nature can change, even a God can take over the universe; Karen Barad focuses on the performativity of matter (agential realism), on the doings of matter instead of on its stabilization into things and objects. She calls intra-action the generative split in things that we subsequently take for granted as representation; Ray Brassier regards the disenchantment of the world through the acceleration of modernity and enlightenment as an embrace of nihilistic thought which is in perfect conformity with the indifference and tendency towards entropy and annihilation of nature itself.
2. Tristan Garcia, Forme et Objet. This is also to acknowledge the thought experiment entailed in flat ontologies from Whitehead to Latour, Levi Bryant, the object-oriented ontology of Graham Harman and the ontological theory of depression in the flat world and absolutely lonely things of Tristan Gracia.
3. Roger Caillois, Mimicry and Legendary Psychasthenia
4. Reza Negarestani, Frontiers of Manipulation – lecture
5. Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, Metapysiques Cannibales
6. Iain Hamilton Grant, Philosophies of Nature after Schelling
7. Ben Woodard, lecture
8. Eduardo Kohn, How forest thinks
9. see the work of neuroscientist Antonio Damasio and of philosopher Brian Massumi
10. Claire Colebrook, The Death of the PostHuman: Essays on Extinction, Volume One
11. Lev Shestov, Athens and Jerusalem
12. Eugene Thacker, In the Dust of this Planet
13. Eugene Thacker, After Life
14. John of the Cross, The Dark Night of the Soul
15. Eugene Thacker, Divine Darkness – lecture
16. Nikolai Berdiaev, The Meaning of Creation
17. Claude Karnoouh, Arta si Politica – lecture
18. Nicola Masciandaro, Secret: No Light Has Ever Seen the Black Universe
19. Nikolai Fedorov, The Philosophy of the Common Task
20. Benedict Singleton, Maximum Jailbreak
21. Emmanuel Levinas, Existence and Existents
22. Nick Land, Thirst for Annihilation
23. see Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri
24. Luciana Parisi and Tiziana Terranova, Heat-Death
25. Ray Brassier, Nihil Unbound
26. Thomas Metzinger, Being No-one
27. Maurice Blanchot, Thomas the Obscure
28. Dylan Trigg, The Horror of Darkness. Towards an Unhuman Phenomenology
29. Quentin Meillasoux, After Finitude
30. Meme control conference, London
31. Stefan Tiron, Putrescience. Decomposing Knowledge on the Bottomless Pit
32. Thomas Ligotti, The Shadow at the Bottom of the World
33. Alfred North Whitehead, The Function of Reason
34. Luciana Parisi, Contagious Architecture: Digital Control and Aesthetics – lecture
35. Thomas Ligotti, Thinking Horror
36. Michel Serres, Hermes
37. Timothy Morton, Dark Ecology – lecture
38. Reza Negarestani – lecture
39. Michel Serres, The Parasite
40. Brian Massumi, Navigating Movements
41. Alina Popa, The Second Body and the Multiple Outside
42. Stephen Jay Gould, The Evolution of Life on Earth


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.