In the favela-hills of urban wastesprawl, back past the failed-civilizational window-dressings of the Great Filter, we encounter a concrete limit governing hyperstitional vectors of ‘advancement’. We have somehow been forced to precipitate, in order to facilitate (or to sabotage?), the runaway techno-evolutionary vector that has abducted our species-mind and with it the resources of an entire planetary microcosm. Whoever has been overseeing this coup has not wasted any time; massive reserves have been liquidated and set into circulation more rapidly than foresight could have predicted. No possible way of reintegrating the massive fallout from this explosion of good taste seems to be lurking amongst the wreckage of several centuries worth of surplus. All of this material culminates in the great psychospiritual bloat accrued as enslavement and criminality on both sides of the artificial selection engines of semiocapitalism.
But something has to be done with all of these wasted beliefs! Enter the new democratic digestive tract; the pre-school to prison pipeline! Instructions for the construction of a model 21st century democracy: simply arrange all of your most expensive and intensive technological pursuits around the pipeline like a moat, military on one side, medical on the other, and use it to push anyone who tries to escape back into one end or other of the thing. Don’t let anyone’s arguments persuade you to stop functioning! Never stop working, or pause for long enough to really ‘take things in’—never allow your innate passivity (your equanimity) to reveal itself to itself. Do whatever is necessary to interrupt self-observation. Don’t allow the prosthetic mirror-circuits transfixing your soul to break grip. Our active ignorance is the resource exploited by the vampiric metaindustries of the unconscious. Our consumption no longer feeds us, but is diverted, along with our attentions, to the interests of a renegade priesthood:
“The order was deliberately reversed […] Not by the true sages. By the false Illuminati, and by all the other White Brotherhoods and Rosicrucians and Freemasons and whatnot who didn’t really understand the truth and therefore wanted to hide the part of it they did understand. They felt themselves threatened; the real sage is never threatened. They spoke in symbols and paradoxes, like the real sages, but for a different reason. They didn’t know what the symbols and paradoxes meant. Instead of following the finger that points to the moon, they followed the finger itself. Instead of following the map, they thought it was the territory and tried to live in it. Instead of reading the menu, they tried to eat it. Dig? […] And they tried to confuse any independent searcher by drawing more veils and paradoxes across the path.”
-Miss Portinari, in Illuminatus III: Leviathan, p.164.
It was this false Illuminati’s diabolical inspiration to erase any evidence of its deception from the fabric of history, not as a unique event, but transcendentally, such that all great robber-barons might now aspire to a new form of augmented posterity as foci for cosmohistoric diffusions of culpability. The drive for narcissistic purification, for symbolic perfection—the pivot on which the power of the tyrant turns—whose innate reversibility (purity’s transubstantiality) resolves unstably—necessarily leads our ‘hypothetical’ cabal into alliances with strange partners whose interests its programs do not transect. Take light itself, for example: unattached and unopposed, source at once of darkness and illumination, shadow and glimmer; massless, yet somehow governed by gravitational fields, the very limits of whose power it appears to define. But the flickering liberations that had once—already it feels like a dream—seemed to shimmer at the termina of the telecommunications technologies (the ancient logoglow) have now become great stitches that bind the swollen lips of the biopolitical industries to the ambient anality of the war machine.
Communications divert us from self-empowerment (which is not the achievement of an action, but the quiescence—qua traversal—of desire), and this ‘diversion’ becomes the marvelous, chaotic, contingent other-worlding process of posthistory. A quantum foam-bath for the brain, whose constitutive fantasy-independence—its becoming-Krang—leads it to pursue its own exteriorization to the limits of the previously-entangled microstates—superposed virtual qualia—whose tapestries it would finally, like a troublesome knot, succeed in unraveling. Here at the edge of its power, the renegade brain at once pursues and attains, no longer embedded within a cosmos whose pattern would govern it. From this point of inversion, history emerges as the supersymmetrical juxtaposition of complementary capitulation-points (origin and its eschaton).
And here the eschaton, we have been told, should at once rise up before our eyeless brains as a hypercept, displaying its crystalline form-image (imagine an essential image-ness, next to which its not-being the thing represented would become incidental). An image of the image itself, this impossible turning-around of the hypercept can, perhaps, only be perceived with the aid of a certain prosthesis. The philosopher’s stone, like Sun Ra, works on the other side of time.
"From the historian's point of view, the entry of myth into history resembles a meteor entering the field of gravity. From the mythologist's point of view, the entry of the meteor into the field of gravity resembles the fall of a Lucifer, whose brightness reveals the spot where a murder—either psychic or real––has taken place. If the light of a falling angel is attributed to the meteor, then the meteor becomes a fetish, a charismatic object with the power to disable thought." (Eric Rhode, Psychotic Metaphysics, London: Karnac Books, 1994, p.291)
From the philosopher’s point of view, falling star and rising angel superpose to reveal a diagram of space and time. This is philosophy as alethurgy; Foucault’s ironic retrieval of Hegel, in that while the latter has his master fall in atonement for his sins, that the slave’s triumph might redeem their shared guilt, the former places the philosopher in the position of the fool who enjoys the inescapable irony of power. For the posthistorical mythologist, every step toward the attainment of the hypercept adds a thread to the tightly-woven tapestry of an occult history whose iridescent structure, shining like cat’s eyes, pierces through the darkness of our conditioned existence. Here the divine and the diabolical interpenetrate in the aura of the wise fool, accidental discoverer of relics and unknowing representative of perennial wisdom. “A rite is the divining of a hidden necessity (forever obscure)” (Bataille, Inner Experience, p.136).
Because of its sacrificial structure, then, the occult cannot, in the last analysis, be considered a source of power. No profane benefit (‘pro-fit’) can be drawn from the connection with the sacred that sacrifice establishes. Even for those who depend upon it, sacrifice remains inscrutable, because it can only ‘reveal’ by concretely precipitating. Its efficacy, entirely concrete, is utterly unrepresentable. The arcane sigils that serve to summon it cannot circumscribe the activities for which it provides impetus. Its existence and essence cannot be disentangled, because ‘it’ constitutes the offering in correspondence with which the power to disentangle is received unpredictably (as the ‘gift’ of grace, or a Zen satori).
As a result of all of this beginning to become clear, we can begin to see that our tangential arts of representation have been inverted, yielding a transversal science of catalytics. If the universal site of the occult (the ‘spiritworld’) is the graveyard—a place at once of burial and of disinterment, simultaneously archaeological site and cremation-ground—it is only because the contemporary mobilization of ‘human resources’ towards nonexistence has (always already) reached such diabolical extremes that a self-exhaustion which is at once also a resurrection has become its only imaginable outcome. The notion of self-consumption invoked here symbolically follows the logic of of an interpretation of the Ouroboros symbol as the depiction of a secret mechanism governing the condensation of history. Contemporary geophilosophy has foundered on this subtle error, by which the very occultness of the occult—its obscurity—is simply but persistently discarded at its thinker’s convenience; put out, placenta-like, with the medical waste.
The Ouroboros, devouring itself, stands-for the self-devouring quality of things themselves. Once a thing is, its becoming can only take place alongside its decay. The Ouroboric perspective inverts our apprehension of the fatal mysteriousness of becoming by replacing it with the concrete absurdity of chance. The profanation of the symbol is the essential task facing those who would attempt to pull off such a coup. The magical correspondence between symbols and phenomena has to be severed in order to disenchant the sign. To disable the undulant, resonating power of the sacrifice once and for all, the symbol itself must be sacrificed to the self-devouring thing. In occult-Peircean terms, then, the Ouroboros’ symbolic standing-for should be interpreted both indexically—in that it gestures towards the perceivable phenomenon—and iconically, inasmuch as it resembles the object to which it (thereby) points. The ‘asignifying’ semiotics of Deleuze and Guattari proceed in this direction, which divests signs of their (imaginary) meanings, and reinscribes their distribution as catalysts within a spectral field of subtleties, relocating the spiritworld between the imperceptible (virtual) and the inconceivable (actual).
“As for the genesis of mathematical structures, one may distinguish a historical genesis such as that which can be retraced and located within a time-line as well as a conceptual genesis of which the temporality is clearly more complex. Naturally, the first is an object of the history of mathematics, in terms of the discoveries and inventions which do not need to be addressed here. The second is of a quite different nature: a given concept or approach having had its time of preponderance is re-proposed by others and then reappears, is developed and is forgotten again until it resurges later (as was the case in physics with the atomic hypothesis, for example, and as in the case with mathematical infinity, which also has had a complex historical specification). Another concept appearing to be autonomous and original, even unique like Euclidian geometry, may finally prove to constitute a particular thematization of a more general trend to which it will be associated from then on and which endows it with a different coloration (this was also often the case in number theory, firstly with the appearance of negative numbers, and then of complex numbers, or was also the case with prime numbers and ideal numbers). The work underlying this evolution is that of the concept, of its delimitation and of its generalization. This work is not linear and unidirectional: it returns to previous definitions and developments, enriches them, modifies them, uses them to generate different ramifications, reunifies them and retranslates them, one into the other. In this way, it internalizes the historical temporality which generated these concepts and makes it into an interpreting and interpretive temporality.” (Francis Bailly, p.10 in Bailly and Longo, Mathematics and the Natural Sciences, 2012.)
Inquiring into the problem of foundations illuminates ways in which thought’s development requires for its description a more-than-material principle of determination; only in retrospect does the historico-material determination (or ‘meaning’) of a concept attain the definition ascribed to it by whichever thought-system (qua conceptual disposition or ‘worldview’) attends and affords the act of looking back. For it to be truly productive (or transformative—for the historical and the theoretical not to be dissociated, in other words), this ‘looking back on’ concepts must therefore demand a simultaneous ‘looking-into’ them. That concepts are in principle retrievable from history and deployable to contemporary ends implies that concepts may indeed emerge and even function adequately on a local basis despite resisting the demands of a given theoretical contemporaneity. The ‘closure’ of theoretical regimes (by which they acquire their representative powers to harness and bind productive assemblages) is evident in the systematic imperatives they impose on ideas (i.e. abstract necessities; in the service of truth, invariably), and retrievability reminds us that these totalities are—at least in principle—’historically contingent’ (ephemeral, illusory). But to the extent that the retrievability of the concept (and/or the concept of retrieval) already presupposes some form of survival (i.e. as a trace), conceptual retrievability would also seem to presuppose some—albeit perhaps only locally-specific—kind of efficacy. The everpresent danger is that we conceive of this efficacy according to pre-established evaluative registers. The retrieval of a concept often quite precisely takes place precisely in order to drive a wedge into contemporary regimes of determination and evaluation (theoretical cultures and common sense alike; as against the ‘high/low culture’ dialectic implicit in attacks on ‘pop’ or ‘folk’ dissimulation). The retrieved concept may indeed, simply by virtue of this recontextualization, propose a radical transformation of the regime within which it is taken up.
This means that the conceptual/intrinsic (ideal) and the historical/extrinsic (material) dimensions of the concept are complementary. This explains why, despite clear evidence of the inadequacy of ‘radical’ objectivism in historiography, the reduction to material determination remains possible—and even productive—in principle, leading to historical materialism’s indefinite deferral of this synthesis, as its descriptions add to and alter the facts that they describe. Indeed, it is precisely the reverse-engineerability of the concept in principle which, since Turing, grounds the projective retro-determination whose unique temporality not only characterizes life, as it does for Bailly and Longo, but also shapes it by mediating between it and natural selection. Because any concept, no matter how arcane, remains in principle subject to this reverse-engineerability, there can be no conceptual priority over the regime of encryption. No magical weapon will ever guarantee the transformation of such a regime. But the ultimate (Gödelian) material deferral of representative completeness does indeed imply this reverse-engineerability (or recursive constructibility, according to the Church-Turing thesis) as its corollary, since its reliability as a kind of pseudo-constructivism is entirely dependent on the accelerating pursuit of this very deferral; just as if, as Bailly remarks, its folly had never been demonstrated. The rediscovery of mathematical incompleteness therefore constitutes evidence of a secret deferral; the coverup of a revolution in scientific thought, which is one of the reasons why we find it to be so eminently retrievable today.
The reverse-engineerability of the concept affords us our prosthetic memory; the notion of the archive, with this translation into digital idiom, returns one of our most ancient intuitions. It seems to imply the possibility of a ‘pure’ construction, uniquely distinct from reconstruction, and through recourse to this ‘ideal’, establishes itself no longer merely as an adequate representation, but as a theoretically-preferable transubstantiation. This preferability is quite a radical development, in that it marks a shift in the locus of determination of thought itself, from the subjective/embodied to the intersubjective/encrypted. Traversing this threshold, thought no longer takes place in and through actual (and therefore preexistent) physical objects and their immanent relationships, but through the ability to intervene in the constitutive propensities of objects and their relations alike in order to intentionally alter the present (and thus predict the future).
The emphasis on the reverse-engineerability of concepts therefore appears compatible with a technocratic ethos. Politics qua intersubjective coordination is no longer left up to human decision-making and action, but is increasingly assigned as programmatic functions to the various machines thru whose increasingly densely-nested interfaces we interact with one another and the world around. But what kind of concept cannot be reverse-engineered? Let it suffice here merely to suggest that the kind of concept which cannot be reverse-engineered is precisely the efficacious one, in the sense that its appearance transforms the context in which it occurs so irrevocably that it becomes irretrievable; retrospectively indistinguishable, indiscernable from its effects. Further, we might suggest, following McLuhan, that the efficacy of a concept be conceived of precisely in terms of this retrospective indiscernability (the invisibility of the functioning medium), such that inefficacy would be evidenced by retrievability. The constructivist clinging to the myth of intentional retrievability precisely fails to recognize the efficacy with which his delusion operates to irrevocably transform our world. Technocratic rationalism therefore runs the risk of obsolescing itself, precisely by virtue of its own efficacy.