I keep promising to stop with the short posts and focus on writing long essays and completed sequences. My way of thinking is still trapped in a kind of hyperactivity. In this post I wanted to post a video with quotations from Julius Evola. After putting the link up I felt compelled to go on some wandering diagnosis of what glossed through our grandiosity as “thought”.
The immediate and obvious value of reactionary philosophy is that it grasps the dislocations and obliterations of nihilism in their form as losses. The left, so insistent on visions of progress, fails to grasp that with the breakdown of the old ways of living comes all kinds of reactive formations that are not themselves illegitimate. The great horror of fascism and the reason for its appeal, as with the jihadi today, is to be found less in some mysterious mass hysteria as it is in the reason that hysteria could be coaxed into being at all. When a ship is wrecked in the ocean the drowning passengers do not praise the liberatory forces of the ocean. They look upon it as a dreadful sublime and as a vast planetary, elemental predator. The feelings of disorientation and panic along with the urge to survive, whether desperately frenzied or traumatically detached and rational, rise up and overcome the dizzied organism that finds itself reduced to another piece of jetsam washed hither and tither by the sea’s swelling undulations.
This is the secret meaning of the reactionary radical Islamist’s appeal that jihad is the cure for depression. If we are uncomfortable with the evocations of reactionaries then this is our own residual unquestioned attachment to the things and forms of the pre-catastrophic world. If we are living inside the long duration of catastrophe then we must also come to awareness that anything is amenable to salvage and repurposing. We are moving in the terrain after a seismic and volcanic devastation. What it is, this nihilism, is a liberation without equal. But this doesn’t make us any more free. It was the anti-libidinal theories of Baudrillard that pointed to the tragic dimensions of liberation and insisted that the movement of liberation has nothing to do with that of liberty. He would go so far as to place them as oppositional forces:
The concepts of liberty and liberation are diametrically opposed, unconditional liberation being the surest way of keeping liberty at bay .
In the same place Baudrillard will tell us that liberty is ‘limited’ and has something to do with ‘finality’ and so is to be placed within the articulation of ‘the symbolic space of the subject’ that ultimately presents the subject with the task of its own ‘overcoming’. We can recognize this as the movement of traditional Marxism, feminism, anarchism, libertarianism and the liberalism they emerge out from. But this is not for us. Baudrillard states that in contrast liberation ‘is a potentially catastrophic form’. This
leads to metastases, chain reactions, the disconnection of all elements and, finally, the radical expropriation of the subject. Liberation is the effective realization of the metaphor of liberty and, in this sense, it is also its end. There is no resolving the dilimma posed by these two. But the present system has found the final solution to both – in liberalization. Not the free subject any longer, but the liberal individual. No longer the liberation, but the liberlization of exchanges. From liberty to liberation, form liberation to liberlization. The extreme point of highest dilution, minimal intensity, where the problem of liberty cannot even be posed any longer .
That capitalism’s attempt to reach homeostasis in this containing “liberalization” has failed is evidenced by today’s revenge of the political as much as by the excessive proliferation of the signs of the political. The movements of liberty and liberation have returned. Baudrillard believed that liberalization was the homeopathy of the liberational energies of an annihilating capitalism that has continued apace regardless of that containment effort. The genie is out of the bottle: technoscientific disenchantment pushes onwards while the signs of sexualities and genders explode around us, and the monsters of revolutionary politics return to accelerate the processes further. For everyone who surfs the wave of nihilism and attempts to exacerbate as symptom (there are no subjects, only symptoms) there will also be those who choose to look backwards in the hopes that something of value can be salvaged from a deeper past. This is also a salvage-work of repurposing. But crucially today’s reactivations take place without subjects: something has happened to liberty.
In either case are we witnessing anything more than the hominid organism with the overdeveloped cognitive functions trying to ride out the blast wave of its own semantic and material destructions? From what position should it be viewed? From the partisan who plunges further into the water, or from the life-raft and dreaming of a time when?All our talk of catastrophes. This is our central term. Let me be a bit more honest with you. It is my central term.
In the catastrophe thought becomes catastrophic thought, and philosophy becomes catastrophy. All our visions as vital and necessary as they might be are merely our preferred insanities. We are amid the collapse of the lunatic asylum. A vast open asylum modelled on the quarantined openness of the leper colony. The alien intelligences have nothing to do with us. They pass us by in the cosmic passages just as you pass by the drooling woman with the medicated faraway look in her eyes. And is it true that after all even the most progressive with their insistence on a return to modernity and to a championing of its potencies as our potencies (the virulence of our symptomology). Either way we are full blown lunatics driven by the utopian impulse- the pitch black and bloody horror of the will to utopia surmounting every liberalizing asceticism, we cannot control ourselves, we are a threat to ourselves and others- and by a vision of ourselves as saviours of ourselves or redeemers of our brutal histories and ruined futures.
I speak through Baudrillard’s dead lips with philosophy’s horrible necromantic power:
If being a nihilist, is carrying, to the unbearable limit of hegemonic systems, this radical trait of derision and of violence, this challenge that the system is summoned to answer through its own death, then I am a terrorist and nihilist in theory as the others are with their weapons. Theoretical violence, not truth, is the only resource left us. But such a sentiment is Utopian. Because it would be beautiful to be a nihilist, if there were still a radicality – as it would be nice to be a terrorist, if death, including that of the terrorist, still had meaning .
Utopia is an aesthetic category. It is beauty. And beauty is the attachment to meaning. To the old orders of symbolic efficacy and the grandeur of purposes. The highest values devalue themselves: it is an image of debasement, as if values were aristocratic ladies turned street working prostitutes, still in their finery while bending through car windows and asking if you’re looking for business. The progressive is wrapped in a kind of reaction that refuses to go as far as the Tradition evoked in philosophies like Evola’s.
In the unfolding domain of multiple catastrophes, the progressive leftist and the neoreactionary visions resemble one another as reactivations of navigational normativities that orient things that think they are persons towards stable futures. Each is a system of expectation that attempts to reassemble a preferred hallucination of the world from the shattered fragments of the present. In truth neither has a monopoly on claims to the hyperstitional. The temptation for opposition thinking is a long ingrained habit, and I can’t help but asking what stands on the other side of these re-appearances? The logic of appearance, disappearance and reappearance form one unbroken chain. Is there another order that refuses to speak about that which refuses to appear? The question makes me think about the noumenon in its many guises and the possibility of pursuing an ethics or a politics of the refusal of the will to live.
At the end of this pointless diatribe without a target I’m returned to the initial thought, as if following the cyclical trajectories of repetitions of progression and regression. There is an ambivalence, a deep dissonance in thought. It writhes not only in abstract cognition but finds itself poisoning concrete cognition’s peristaltic motions, a sickness infecting speculative and practical philosophies.
The endless explosive potencies of nihilism as a “libidinous” excitation. The word in scare quotes betrays the poverty of that very excitation, offering as it does an admission that have the dimmest understanding of the phenomena. Even so it takes on a kind of propulsive thrust that forces us to follow in its wake.And yet thought also looks back and sees the devastation left in it’s wake.
What appears on the left as a cycling bipolarity between depression and mania, and on the right as a paranoia and idealized mourning, occurs to thought in the most abstract and generalized manner as a schizoid fracturing. If it possible to diagnose contemporary thought itself as such, I would speculate that it in the grips of the most acute agonies of a dissociative disorder. A significant symptom is the renewal of calls for liberty and tradition, a fundamental splitting that centre on the status of dependence. This leads us to the question of the possibility and value of a reintegration. Does contemporary thought even want to be healed?
 Jean Baudrillard. 1994. The Illusion of the end. Stanford: Standford University Press. 107.
 Ibid. 107-108.
 Jean Baudrillard. On nihilism. Here.