neuronihilism as post-nihilist praxis

James Harris thinks he might get into trouble for this. So naturally I want to signal boost to insure he does get into trouble. How else do you know anyone’s paying attention? negative attention can’t be faked as readily as praise. James’s work sits beautifully among what could be considered core concerns of the development of post-nihilist praxis in that it eschews any trace of transcendental sleights of hand in order to pursue practico-theoretical interventions via the path of phenotechnologically enabled neuronihilistic mysticism. As James notes this isn’t just of interest to techgnostics or mindful cyborgs but it is also of primary significance for psychotherapy.

For the post-nihilistic the question has always been one of direct intervention in the material infrastructures generating the illusions through and as which we live, the neural no less than the social.

The neuromysticism that phenotechnologies provides gives us a choice: choose your own hallucinations, or neural secessionism from the kingdom of Self.

This essay will likely seem serpentine, obscure, and repetitive, as I attempt to tie various speculations together that are, at the end of the day, just that – speculations. The reason I persist despite this limitation is that I believe the tools and technology exist and have always existed to plumb this particular depth in order to prove these theories right or wrong – my conjecture is it is universal, though time will tell. Perhaps it will spark anyone else to consider the possibilities contained herein and not be daunted by the solemnity and ghoulishness of Nothing! I am not the first to have foreseen an end to blind threading of the weave of world-space. I am not the first to “gaze long into the Abyss”, nor am I the first to discover that our personal abysses can reflect the individuated Self. I am not the first to unwind and add my own Ariadne’s thread through this intimate enfolding of Trauma and Time. I am not the first to attempt an Escape from this Mirror Maze, nor the first to theorize a mechanism for its navigation. I am not the first to swim up out of the hedgerow labyrinth into the ocean of Void. Nor am I the first to have brought back a vision of our underworld from the perspective of this “positive death at zero-intensity”2: a vision of infinitely multifold reflecting crystalline geometries hung on silver string in the aether. Like hyperconnected wireframe constellations, each node a virtual mirror – pages in books on shelves in the infinite librarynth of Self. To update Nietzsche: I have a multiplicity of precursors, and what a unity these precursors construct!3 No less than proof that the simulation of external reality by mind can be turned off completely or simulated as such, that this deactivation exposes details of future states, and that all recorded memory states are experienced simultaneously within this form of pure consciousness, coextensive with incoming sensory input. Mors mystica – the experiencing of the Real in real time – exposes and forces a visualization of the calculatory procedures undertaken by the brain.

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17 responses to “neuronihilism as post-nihilist praxis

  1. a.j. if his own cut&paste was rigorous in the kinds of ways (of empirical experimentation) that you outline in yer lovely intro it would be quite something.
    imagine if we could assemble something like a cookbook of steps/techniques for folks to give a try and report back on their results; offer updates, variations, and or corrections, a sort of DIY update on:

  2. I probably would have been substantially more rigorous had I ever considered that anyone was listening. Erowid has a vast store of trip reports on every drug going, and the Integral Metaphysics group on FB have been compiling methods for quantifying and measuring mystical experiences. A friend, Thad McCracken, that writes for disinfo has been writing profoundly exhaustive accounts of his own dreams as status updates also on FB for a while. The subjective has an unbelievable(heh) amount of warp and play despite certain clear neurophysiological constraints. Metzinger remarks similar to yours dmf in Being No One, with a call to seriously consider the study and the implications of out of body experiences. Ben Cain’s The Mind is a Witch entry at bakker’s blog is A+++

    • Seconding Erowid and putting Bluelight up there as well.

      In the study of OBEs and other such stuff I really hope we can avoid the lunatic backflips of appeals to quantum this or quantum that. I’m not rubbising qm- i don’t get it enough to do that- but I am concerned that texts like Brain Wars come along where all this is taken as proof of an ideal aspect of nature and then zoomed out to say “well the idealism of consciousness is justified by its quantum nature”. That’d be fine if it were testable. As a metaphysics I’d actually be pretty happy with some weird mesh of idealism and materialism (there is a reason I like Schopenhauer and David Pearce) but it’s the departure from neurophysiology that does my head in.

      I was at a gnosis group for a while there but after a while the materialist in me couldn’t sit in a room with people discussing astral projection. If they’d caveated it all by saying “we’re talking about nonstandard consciousness generated by playing with plastic neural arrangements” I could have sat there for the full 33 weeks.

      This is the big difference. The advancing of neuronihilistic mysticism has to be able to distinguish itself from the new age crowd. Otherwise we’re back with an immunological response to the threat of nihilism rather than comfortably eating bowls of cheerios in its warm and velvety bowels.

      • so the cataloging/mapping of experiences (always tricky w/ altered-states) is one step, a second would be to start scanning/mapping neuro-functions during such experiences to see roughly what is going on (and not just how accounts/speculations might sound alike) during such doings/events, and than one would have to get past dated work like Metzinger’s early contributions and see how this might all fit into the latest enactivist-style accounts.
        In the meantime as I say we can be busy on the more experimental/engineering/how-to end.
        The general fact that we don’t have a self (in the sense that we do have a brain or heart) is not at all in keeping with more ancient accounts of Non-Self (that have some meta-physical implications and so are attractive to people who want to make leaps to physics/cosmology about interconnected-ness and all or even more Zizek style negations) and there are no related “inner” representations/maps to our everyday doings, just as while Life/History (and other figures of speech that people try to capitalize on to commit metaphysics) doesn’t have Meaning our lives (even when shattered/alienated/warped) are full of
        meanings/experiences/object-relations, for better and worse, and open to tweaking/hacking.

  3. A significant problem with neuro functional imaging in this zone is that the imaging device needs to be comfortable and nonobtrusive while still being fine grained enough to get good imagery. Without it being comfortable and on the small side of invasiveness, it badly skews the mental process involved, as sensory input is such a large component. I definitely believe that the traditional clinical settings are flawed from the beginning for good psychedelic research. White walls and huge magnets do not make for an easy journey into the sensory throughput when you’re already hearing the electricity hum in the walls like some infernal no wave band. In a situation where every single input could potentially be expressed in active conscious awareness, alternative strategies need to be devised. I have several ideas re: EEG and MEG but I’m so far from access to these devices that I sometimes feel my criminality showing just talking about them. John Lilly was a dolphin fucking crackpot but he was also an empirical scientist that expended a ton of effort in this particular area. Isolation tanks and water, groups with carefully combined researchers across certain disciplines doing experiments together. D/G’s Schizoanalytic Cartographies also useful re mapping.

    • sure there is a great deal of work to be done the point (from a phenomenological perspective) is more that one should take accounts of altered-states as processes/effects to be studied and not as explanations of what is happening and why/how.
      for example maybe induced “uncoupling” teaches us something about our everyday ways of relating/attaching maybe not, the trick (if you will) is not to be bewitched by grammar (say accounts that may sound the same like ancient Greek speculations and modern physics) nor by feelings of certainty/such-ness, we must differ from our 60’s counterparts (pyschonauts and all) in so much as they were unfortunately primed/pre-disposed to dis-cover keys/windows/codes/etc and we (well a tiny tiny mutant fringe fraction of us) are in the age of cognitive-biases and depressive-realism.

  4. I think both Self and Non-Self should be considered processes and not at all objects. There are surely objects in there. But the “magic” is in the movement.,.

  5. As far as Clark and Dennett, you could say I have taught myself several methods for “uncoupling” and most of my time is spent dealing with the aftermath. For me, it generates a meaningful content-laden experience interlocked with energetic “waves of spontaneous bodily bliss” every single time, to uncouple and re-attach, uncouple and re-attach. Uncoupling seems to expose one how we spontaneously re-attach to the extended mind and re-construct the shared representation. Maybe my gofundme idea for a portable multi-person EEG kit will be a financially viable option before long.

      • yessss I’m so ready for neuromancer/shadowrun gimme gimme. I need to be able to produce new music based on the sounds I imagine, and record dreams. Tune up my self-discipline.
        fur real though, my point at this point is to point out two things, that ALL these weird states and processes DESPITE their source can be approached with an interesting new lens if we stop treating them as sacred or juridical or god forbid somehow outside the scope of “rational” cows never to be dissected, and reduce the terminology to neurosci by not only observation/analysis but -direct experience by people that already have in depth knowledge OF KNOWLEDGE AND MINDS- ya feel me? I think/hope i’ll end up being justified in suggesting art and direct experience will soon be back on the table as some formulation of empirical tools thanks to neurosci and psychedelics in particular, opening wide old ground for phenomenologists to re-explore but also ground to meet someone in pathological mental/brain states on somewhat closer ground, maybe even a shared space where communication takes on a different modality altogether such as when an analyst working with a deeply delusional or actively hallucinating person actually has direct dmt-fuelled understanding of what it is like to slip off into dissociation and get chased by “demons.” Maybe different types of demons in the religious lit actually corresponded to particular types of autism or epilepsy modes. I’m just throwing wild speculations with zero evidence, obvs but two things come to mind, Guattari at the beginning of the other Felix’ thesis posted here recently, “When Spinoza says that we do not even know what a body can do, this is practically a war cry.” and Churchland blathering on and on in Plato’s Cam about learning by comparing mappings for accuracy…I’d go one further and say we likely don’t even know WHAT we are, and the whole point is to compare notes. I’ve an open invitation to any ‘neurophilosophers’ that would be willing to come round and take a trip with…. 😉

  6. I couldn’t agree more on the hippie tip. Nothing has done so much to damage the potential of psychedelics and shamanism as the new agers and tie dyers.

    • ah well was different times, they felt the dawning of the age of Aquarius we are in the midst of the Anthropocene.
      they did what they could with what they had and we’ll see if we can add much to the mix or not, time will tell i suppose

  7. “As zero is the same zero in all dimensions, it becomes a kind of elevator shaft connecting each floor of the librarynth, a ‘tunnelling’ through levels.” = pure oily black mystic boon. Also echoes the ethos behind the label Synthetic Zero

    • yes this reminded me of much of yer own take on a sort of vital materialist program/adventure, not sure myself that we ever get to some external/meta-physical zero-point but we certainly can get to a sort of ground-zero of our own limited grasps, for me i think it works more along the lines of a limit-term not unlike say “post” human than as a species of god-term.

      • Its not that i think there is some metaphysical zero-point, because all points of materiality are at “ground zero” in the sense that everything actual runs along a plane of immanence. Every assemblage and flow that is actual is equally real. The deflationary zeroing down is an epistemic event not a metaphysical destination. Such an event has more in common with Zen, or Deconstruction, or what a thinker like Jiddu Krishnamurti talked about. Put in paradoxical terms, what is sought is ‘axiomatic negation’.

        So, yes, nihilism and the post-nihilist ethic are (in my view) primarily about acceptance of the limits of cognition, and the adoption of this insight as a methodological stance in coping-with-in the world.

        And my materialism is only “vitalist” using the old economy of conception. Atoms operate and relate via their own powers, without my having to advocate on their behalf. Just ask the Japanese. The reality of material potency is grade school knowledge at this point. They only thing I want added is a push to take compositionalism as far as possible. All ecological systems are interdependent (to a specific degree) and composite admixtures, functionally autonomous (to a specific degree) yet open. And this is to generalize – because every situation is what it is by virtue of the onto-specific powers and relations materially implicated.

      • yes good that’s what i remembered from yer archive, thus my use of “vital” rather than vitalist but too subtle a gesture perhaps, either way glad to have you spell it out for anyone who might venture this way.

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