Messay, /’mɛseɪ/, 1) noun, A short piece of writing which engages with the aesthetic of formal argument rather than the validity, 2) verb, to try to clean one’s mind by shitting out its thoughts. After the thoughts have been shat what remains in the mind might be without the dirt that has been wiped on the page. That is my motivation. Your motivation? Intellectual perversion. In this post I attempt to unify the occult with the genital and form the compound which will be revealed at the end.
The occult is at odds with contemporaneity because it stands against the material. There is a materialist analysis of the witch hunts that says there was no superstition it was a case of using Christianity to stop the free association of women. Of forcing them inside as a necessary element in the separation of reproductive labour and ipso facto labour in general. The superstition of witch hunters stands in a dialectical relation to the superstition of practicing witches. The enforcers of the new Christian rationalist order accuse the pagans of supernatural powers in addition to being superstitious. They then are some impossible intermediary both superstitious and anti-superstition. One interesting possibility is that this stance was not designed but rather selected in a Darwinian sense. In the marketplace of ideas truth does not garner the highest price; usefulness does. Might we have seen this with the rise of the “New Atheists” during the War on Terror? As if they had a symbolic function related to the military campaigns. Only Christopher Hitchens was coherent enough to make this connection evident with his call to “bomb the shit out of them”. One of the amusing historical ironies was the ‘materialists’ sought to deny the material concerns of the enemy and concentrated solely on their ‘ideology’. What do the materialists dislike about the ideologues? That their acts and thoughts are too material.
Might we see something similar now with the occult? It stands in as a white fascist symbol in death metal bands not because they themselves actually believe it (they are typically atheist vulgar materialists) but because it occupies some symbolic space which serves their interest in how the genre triangulates material relations. The Nazis in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) are strangely portrayed as playing with some form of Christian occult. In the world of the film the occult is real but it is the Nazis who summon it. And yet they are simultaneously the logical conclusion of Enlightenment’s aim of pure instrumental rationality in the analysis of Adorno and Horkheimer in Dialectic of Enlightenment (1944). It is this conjunction of opposites that interests me here. Are we not hypocritical as viewers simultaneously condemning the Nazis for superstition while also for summoning actual supernatural forces. This central paradox in the film is what gives it its neat dialectical appeal. The moving image can have its cake and eat it. It can claim to depict the real while also enabling representations of the impossible. This reaches its apogee with Penrose triangles. What I call the kernel of impossibility. But Penrose did not discover these. The logic is evident in the Sigillum Dei Aemeth with the overlapping heptagram. In William Reich’s the Mass Psychology of Fascism he claims the Swastika is a depiction of the primal scene. Does not the primal scene constitute the ultimate impossible figure? So shocking that in Britain’s Union Jack they only dare imply it behind the Crucifixion. The construction of the pure idea, the I, and the subject out of the material. And what is its kernel? Genital contact. The I knows it is impossible and it locates that impossibility in the Oedipal figure. The box in which we store all that is incendiary. It is this because the I appears to us as cause and yet it demands to cause itself which it cannot. It therefore demands some mythical impossibility in its construction. In the case of Nazism this traumatic element is superimposed on a subject in the world in the form of a scapegoat. There is a phrase regarding poor treatment of people that ‘they are treated like objects’ but no object has been targeted as subjects have. The scapegoat is necessarily a subject and the repulsion expresses itself in the simultaneous denial and accusation of the subject’s subject-hood. This is one definition of evil.
Let us obey Frederic Jameson’s command in the Political Unconscious (1981) to ‘always historize!’ Let us not shelter under the lazy conception of contemporaneity coming into being like a train of thought in the collective spirit. Let us seek material causes and ideal effects; ideal causes and material effects. Niether a Hegelian dialectic of ideas nor a Marxian material dialectic but a four point dialectic of these two dialectics. As if we are born of these two fathers. What I’m going to call a meta-lectic. Does the Kantian transcendental idealism entail its opposite in a transcendental materialism? To take a further wild swing in an essay already characterised by wild swings I’m going to claim there is a numerology of schemas. Odd is what is out of balance and appeals to the radical mind. Even is what is pure and appeals to those for whom disgust is traumatic. The even numbers of the Swastika and the Cross but the broken symmetry of the implied rotation or the slight extension which offsets the cross from a plus sign. The odd numbers of Penrose’s ‘trialism’ (physical world contains mental world contains platonic ideals contains physical world… (the observant note there are two possible directions, like a Levi-Civita symbol of totality, where he key defining property of the symbol is total antisymmetry in all the indices)), or Lacan’s Borromean knot (the real, the imaginary, and the symbolic, each interdependent). There is a speculation that the overepresentation of Engineers in radical Jihadist organisations is because there is an ‘Engineering mindset’ which desires one truth, singular answers, and balanced social order to mirror a law governed world, and cannot stand the unlimited infinite of open enquiry (Why are there so many Engineers among Islamic Radicals?, Diego Gambetta and Steffen Hertog, 2009).
What am I claiming is the material cause? The transition between broadcasting apparatus from the public television to the dual nature of the internet’s libidinal screen. Where one source begets the spiritual and the obscene. The pure alongside the greatest excesses of internet pornography. Like a pre-Oedipal sewer direct into the prefrontal cortex. The realm of the free image. Like a mother who never denies you her tit. Unlike the real which denies. Doesn’t the real show a certain lack of imagination in its consistency. It is incapable of being stupid and inconsistent in the way I can. I don’t think Orwell was aware of the Hegellian paradoxical conception of aufhebung when he coined the rhetorical neologism doublethink. This was how he became Britain’s most conservative socialist and their mascot for compromise. He who said the following in My Country Right or Left, 1940:
“I dare say the London gutters will have to run with blood. All right, let them if it is necessary. But when the red militias are billeted in the Ritz I shall still feel that the England I was taught to love so long ago and for such different reasons is still persisting.”
One of the central barks of the materialists (or quacks; as in speech acts caused by material phenomena, there is no I to claim they represent ideas) is that free will is impossible because ‘the mind obeys the laws of physics’. The curious thing is that it doesn’t depend on a specific law, just the very conception of law. It is not the case that after some specific experiment on some date free will was experimentally ruled out but rather the very notion of physical law prohibits free will. What is a law but a prohibition. Was law itself the first discovery?
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” – John 1:1.
Does the possibility of prohibitions contain an ultimate prohibition that is one and the same as time. Is the real the lawful subset of everything? Then since the I can utter impossibilities it is not real. Is it possible to imagine an experimental result that would permit free will? By the vulgar materialist’s criteria it could only be one thing: a time machine. As if the zeroth law of all physics was ‘free will does not exist’. Which would be amusingly incommensurable with the central datum of experience that we observe something we call free will. Actually not because the I still traverses one path. To go back in time becomes the ultimate contradiction and essentially means to go forwards backwards. Can I condense it further? To un go. To meekly ungo where every woman has ungone in the future. It could of course be possible that time travel does happen it is just our thought reverses as the world does which would be indistinguishable from it not happening. Time travel is where the I flows distinctly from its position; again a contradiction if the I has a position. A further consequence of no free will is the possibility of multiple I. If I cannot choose to move my arm but am just watching the movement of the arm then how do I know only I am watching? There could be multiple I all watching. If my speech acts are entailed by the position history of my components I can only say there are between 1 and infinite I. Are the materialists willing to get in bed with Lacan’s equivalent claim of the non-unitarity of the subject. Oh how fun to call them postmodernists. This is a parallel to the observation that multiple time dimensions would be equivalent to one time dimension.
We may be confused about what it is, about what sentences such as ‘could have done otherwise’ mean, but we observe will. I is either will itself or it observes will as a feature of experience. I claim ‘could have done otherwise’ is a remark of utter superstition. It supposes some imaginary time travel. The sentence can only have meaning if time travel were a material possibility, which almost tautologically by our construction of time it is not. Subjects move forward in time by construction. That which I can return to is not time-like. This leads me to my ultimate claim that if you do not accept the existence of will you will not use the word I. Can you even say me? Can you say we? Must you remain silent? And since you do not remain silent and even your most prosaic and pedantic remarks imply a proceeding ‘I think’ you do believe in the I and will.
What does ‘I am a materialist’ signify? That the abstract representation I, the idea of the subject rejects the idea that it exists but that only the substrate on which it is written exists. Can a thing deny its existence? Is not to say ‘I am a materialist’ to say ‘I think and I am not’. In denying the validity of the cogito there is a certain boldness to the position. Should not the materialist say ‘the description of the totality of sensory data written on everything other than the sensory data excludes the sensory data as being anything other than an epiphenomenon of things which are not in contact with the description’.
Are materialism and idealism really incommensurable? Are they opposites or is all thought ‘doublethought’. A critical capacity of thought is the impossible. I must be capable of uttering the sentence ‘two plus two equals five’ in order to investigate its impossibility. Does the conception of collective spirit necessitate individuals equally splitting between sides on the Kantian antonyms. Because it is too traumatic for the I to behold the antonym as radically undecidable. Under this scheme beliefs become descriptions of the form of I rather than the world. And the possibility of subject-subject relations demand the existence of both types of I.
And so let us search for the metaphysical debates of the day and find their opposing material seeds. Or would that be to indulge in vulgar materialism in the second degree? To simply delay the postman. Either way I claim that the gender trouble, and essentialism regarding the relation of genitalia to your ‘true self’, as if such a thing existed, is that metaphysical debate. What is the material seed? What material phenomena necessitates an essential and singular I in relation to sexuality and genital form? Does it concern international or corporate affairs? Of what new epoch is it a portent? The occult as the pure immaterial. The genitals as the ultimate material. The last gasp of the flesh. The simultaneously physical and symbolic. As the debate turns further and further to metaphysics and the immaterial so it turns away from the material. So far away that I no longer know what I am not looking at. But I dare to suggest it is its opposite. As the genitalia are the location of symbolic and material contact labour is the reverse. Is some new relation of production looming over the horizon like a prowling leopard observing and unsympathetic? The destruction of the family as the last vestige of a private life? As family was a fundamental element in the propagation of bourgeois life will it finally be slayed by its apprentice? The infinite and unending question remaining do we choose our fate. If I cannot decide whether I believe in free will or not because my beliefs are already encoded in the ‘wavefunction of the universe’ I remain the totally undecided antonym itself. I cannot even state itself because to do so supposes the will. Like Freud;s scathing remark about schizophrenics ‘they are like philosophers’ they can only refer to themselves in the third person. I is the pure contradiction. And its hysterical self questioning precedes a moment of will.
Where does orgasm fit in to this scheme? It has been remarked that psychology (as opposed to psychoanalysis) cannot answer the question ‘why do you come?’. This is because psychology observes from outside where psychoanalysis observes from inside. Psychology could only ever find correlations between the physical effect with visual stimuli. How could it relate these things to the material conditions? To mythology and iconography. And now, the pièce de résistance. The boldest of bold claims. I say the orgasm is the kernel of impossibility. The moment the infinite I melts away, the condensation of the traumatic Oedipal impossibility with the world of the only possible. The world of law. The necessary contact between opposites and a vision of the absent I. Where we bear witness to the pure will and it is an infinitely thin line. I claim this high act of idealism to be consistent with evolutionary theory and I posit an experimentally verifiable test of its veracity:
Weak form: any artificial intelligence can only pass the Turing test if it is capable of orgasm.
Strong form: any artificial intelligence can pass the Turing test if and only if it is capable of orgasm.
As if orgasm is a non-halting problem. The petite mort. The Freudian death wish. What William Reich tried to harness in his orgasm laser. How does this account for the almost universal desire to stay alive. Because to die young is have the I retarded from its mythical death. It’s ‘taking back control’. It is to die less. The will is to maximise death. To maximise life-death. Some impossible paradoxical illogical aim that lies at its heart and it knows not. Some lexical contradiction apparent in its every move. The abstract which denies the abstract. The idea which denies ideas. The unbalanced seeking against law. The denial of law. The law of non-contradiction. The set of impossible ideas. The excluded middle. The kernel of impossibility.