Spectral Horror & The Insurrectionist Charnel House
“Eyes preoccupied with watching do not see.” ― Carlo Michaelstaedter.
In the golden cage of modern society, the very notion of the application of brazen human power and its intensification, carries with it such a stench of mental putrification, that only the most brazen noetic scavengers would dare approach it in a positive and forthright manner, even as everyone does the same (quietly, or as quietly as they can manage), for such a vector of action is perceived to be the intrinsic forerunner to jingoism and ruin; a barbaric backslidding admitting of no positive exceptions; a prospect so terrifying that it appears almost cartoonish and as a consequence, unserious. Rather, the egalitarian model holds that if the powers of Mankind are to be intensified this is only to further passivity and indirectness and thus, weakness; under this regime, paradoxically, one is to accumulate strength1 only to better allow for weakness. Worse, the retrajectorization from man-ascending (as during the Industrial Revolution) to man-balancing (with the world at large in the conception of the envirocrats, or with the whole mass of humanity, in the fever-dream of the utopians) is a phenomenon which has spread all throughout the western world, one which is increasingly standardized at every level of society; it is this reconceptualization, this largely unconscious de-vitalization, that forms the groundwork of the charnel house, the belief that one’s society is a largely unintelligable disaster of increasing magnitude in which one is wholly trapped. Society as a livestock barn aflame. The pathology of this dispensation is summed up under another name by the Italian philosopher Carlo Michelstaedter in his book, Persuasion & Rhetoric, wherein he writes,
“[men] let themselves sink into words that feign communication, because none of them can make his world be the world of the others; they feign words containing the absolute world, and with words they nourish their boredom, making for themselves a poultice for the pain; with words they show what they do not know and what they need in order to soothe the pain or make themselves numb to it.”2
Michaelstaedter is here concerned with rhetoric and its perpetual antagonism with persuasion and dream-actualization, a dichotomy which he saw at the heart of all human action. To utilize rhetoric is to attempt to persuade first and foremost one’s self(ves) as opposed to some other(s), for even if one does not previously believe in one’s own rhetoric it were preferable (for the purposes of successful persuasion) to attempt some self-hypnosis, if for only the briefest of moments. To fall so completely into one’s dream that it becomes a extension of all further action and thus becomes of the world itself is the end goal of all rhetoric. The failure of communication, of rhetoric, that is, the inability to make one’s world another’s, forms the backbone of the move towards increasing degrees of relativism and – as we shall later see – sufficiently widespread relativism invariably gives way to the horrorism of the charnel house. Urged on by our spectral present. Historically haunted by the future’s seemingly dim horizon. Psychologically disoriented by the distance of our closeness. Shocked and confused by the ever-increasing intensification of our technological prowess which is a development that flies in the face of the lion’s shares of established neoliberal and progressive orthodoxy (humans are supposed to be equal, not powerful, given that if one affirms the mantra “diversity is our strength” then what one is really affirming is that collective fragmentation is a strength; thus, that weakness is a strength) every bit as much as it defies traditionalist expectation and so-called “natural law” and the dictates of divine providence (for man is not supposed to have so much sway over the “natural world” he is not supposed to be as a providence unto himself, for if he can actualize the power of the gods, what need have we of them?).
Due this existential confusion the denizens of the charnel house are left vulnerable to the fickle disasterism of the day (and I include myself in the critique); a celebrity makes a racial joke concerning some immigrant population: It is clear he wants to kill all minorities! Scientists have uncovered a mild semi-global warming trend: The world is going to burn! It’s Gaia’s Revenge!”3 China’s economy still exists: Its the end of the west and the rise of a totalitarian Eurasian hegemony! GMOs: Murderous eugenics program? Nuclear proliferation: Strontium in every watershed and nuclear winter! Immigration pro and con: You just hate X group of people!
One of the most bizarre manifestations of modern catastrophism comes from a article published in Scientific America, wherein Kate Marvel compared climate change to dragons (the scaly, winged, fire breathing kind). She wrote, “And so it was. The reports were hazy at first- disappearing sheep, scorch marks on the ground, huge lizard footprints in the forest. But soon it became clear. The evidence was incontrovertible. A dragon was loose in the kingdom…”.4 Of course, by “dragon” she means “climate” and by “kingdom” she means “our current civilization.” And what do dragons do? They burn everything in their path. Another example the end-of-the-world churnalism that has grown out of every new IPCC report (a group which has been saying that everyone is going to burn up in a decade for decades). Though the IPCC is widely regarded as the foremost scientific authority on climate change the organization has a long history of not auditing their own data-sets (such as the HadCRUT4, which forms the basis of many IPCC reports), which makes sense of many of their faulty past predictions. Whilst pro-IPCC organizations and individuals, such as Common Dreams, constantly state that the IPCC’s predictions are extremely conservative (meaning the state of climate is far worse than they claim) the group’s previous failed predictions are rarely ever taken into consideration, for instance, in 1989, UNEP5 (which co-created the IPPC) declared the world had witnessed a global warming tipping point which, if not checked and reversed by 2000, would cause massive sea-level rise which would wipe entire nations off the face of the earth. 2000 came and went and this scenario, obviously, did not materialize.
The aforementioned kinds of over-the-top, evidentially unfounded, proclamations instills widespread psychic trauma, desensitizaion and ultimately, despair, upon the inflicted populace who then create feedback loops with the aggregated white noise and the matrices of their promulgation, pushing the message back to the media-government-NGO complex, on all levels, demanding it receive more – not less – play. In this way, the illusion of disaster creates a real and ever-intensifying disaster (because even when the initial doomsaying is found to be unverifiable or outright fraudulent, the next new disaster is the desire for revenge against the fraudsters by the formerly naive public; ie. The proud declaration of anti-journalistic sentiment in the wake of the 2016 US presidential elections has now spiraled into outright class warfare).
Yet to draw back the smoldering shroud of this apparitional charnel house is to reveal a maze filled with a near endless number of increasingly sightless brain-mules who mouth the facile doom-saying of the criminal, the mad-artist and the revolutionary – which are, really, at base, all one and the same, for true revolution in the classical sense is itself criminal and must have some aesthetic potency with which to instantiate itself. “Everyone agrees. It’s about to explode… there is a certain pleasure in calculating the risks,” writes The Invisible Committee in their bleak, paranoically overwrought (if occasionally insightful) manifesto, The Coming Insurrection, thus, declaring that things were terrible but that this was profoundly exciting. Terror as a portal, rather than a wall: a common trope of that doomed creature, the revolutionary. If only their footsteps were followed, the path out of the maze would be hastily actualized, and damned be the consequences, because, following Che, it is, of course, an act of love6. Heart shaped truncheons and smiley-face execution pits.
Advocacy of any ideology (with few exceptions) is, at base, really just the declaration, “On average, people should be more like me. I am better than most, hence, such an eventuality were better.” Public intellectuals, often, are merely second-hand thought dealers, passing on, or playing with, the concepts and words of others, without their own thought there being critically applied – which appears as a sort of mental volleyballism (working similarly to the self-enclosed philosophy of pure textual reading without recourse to external verification) – and when such cognitive mercantilism involves itself in the bloody business of overthrowing society, the already vexed problem becomes profoundly more so and generates all manner of illusory landscapes within the ideologically captive mind; dystopias which must be overcome, lest all be lost, which are transmitted both as sincere beliefs concerning future problems and insincere or half-sincere tools for political control (to keep a population within the charnel house one must first convince them it exists).
Always the revolutionary commonality: remake society by remaking the man. Homo sovieticus. Homo Americanus. Homo texticus. And so on. One can scarcely find a venture with a more spotty track-record. However, the true stuff of man’s composition – his biology – in the schema of the revolutionary, is rarely brought into question (for various reasons that are more theological than evidentuary), they are not evolutionary enough to stage a true revolt, a self-directed morphologically transformative break-with-the-past, which, of necessity, would be required for any long-term, wholesale societal reformation. Ideology is downstream from character, as politics is from culture. All are expressions of biological units interacting within an environment. Here we return to the beginning, for it is the would-be revolutionary who promulgates the aforementioned image of the maze and the haunting and the dim horizon, who lobs innumerable catastrophism upon his readership (whether real or imagined) all the better to foster the crucial moment which never comes when all the petty folk take up arms and surge out upon the streets and fill it up with the carcasses of the class-enemy and the detritus of all their machinery (which is evil, because the revolutionary does not understand how it works). Then there is the mercantile class, who are more interested in stuffing their mattresses and climbing the social ladders of their respective and ostensibly respectable milieus than they are with positive societal change and, as a consequence, repackage and peddle the revolutionary’s story to members of the population who want all the feeling of heroic struggle without any of the unpleasant business of fighting, killing, exercising or studying (charges on which we all might be brought up – we have it easy and wish to keep it so).
The revolution is spectral. The predictions of doom, often spun out of nightmare and desire. The catastrophism, even when based-upon real and present or soon-to-be present problems, is invariably overblown and societally damaging, mentally distabalizing. Things are rarely as terrible or as good as they are believed to be. When the techne of forecasting and the evidence of socioinfrastructural generation or degeneration, is shunted aside (to make way for the righteous revolutionary canon), one has only the vagaries of feelings and superstitions to rely upon, which are wholly insufficient for validly and soundly determining what is, and is not, likely to occur in the future. The question of what will happen as pertains to societal development from the post-modern, neoliberal model, what should happen and, what is happening, should not be confused, as all bear some distinct elaboration; at the very least, such a interrogation gives us a expanded roadmap and, at the most, if we are sufficiently creative, will give us precisely what we (that is the domesticated stock) need to see beyond the veiled horizon, beyond the illusory horror of the charnel house, towards a forthright contestation with all external processes which trend to human dissolution.
- Alex Newman. (2014) Embarrassing Predictions Haunt the Global-Warming Industry.
- Anthony Watts. (2018) UN Warns Climate Change Will Destroy Earth By 2005.
- Che Guevara. (1965) Socialism And Man In Cuba.
- Egil Asprem. (2014) The Problem of Disenchantment: Scientific Naturalism and Esoteric Discourse, 1900–1939.
- Francois Laurelle. (2010) Philosophies of Difference: A Critical Introduction to Non-philosophy.
- Gordon Clark. (2018) 2100, and the Fundamental Fallacy of Climate Change Predictions
- Hartmut Rosa. (2013) Social Acceleration: A New Theory Of Modernity.
- Justin Clemens. (2013) Vomit Apocalypse; or, Quentin Meillassoux’s After Finitude.
- Kate Marvel. (2018) Slaying The Climate Dragon.
- Michael Tennant. Climate Alarmists’ Temperature Data Erroneous and Incomplete, Says Researcher.
- Massimiliano Moschetta. (2007) Carlo Michelstaedter: Persuasion and Rhetoric.
- Peter J. Spielman. (1989) U.N. Predicts Climate Disaster If Global Warming Not Checked.
- Peter Stallinga. IPCC Climate Predictions Continuously Fail.
- Thomas J. Harrison. (1991) Carlo Michelstaedter and the Metaphysics of Will.
- Tomislav Sunic. (2017) Titans Are In Town: A Novella And Accompanying Essays.
- The Invisible Committee. (2009) The Coming Insurrection.
- Wouter J. Hanegraaf. (2017) The European New Right Doesn’t Get It Right: The Danger Of Manichean Historiography.
- Yuk Hui. (2018) On Cosmotechnics: For a Renewed Relation between Technology and Nature in the Anthropocene
1Strength and weakness are here utilized in a general capacity, encompassing the total human animal, not merely physical acts such as lifting or running.
2Carlo Michaelstaedter, Persuasion & Rhetoric, p. 68-69.
3This is not a overstatement, for in 2006 scientist, James E. Lovelock published a speculative work entitled, The Revenge of Gaia, which popularized the notion of positive feedback loops in earth’s climate system which has since formed the core of contemporary climate disasterism (ie. a run-away hothouse earth). Important to note is the distinctively anthropomorphic quality of Lovelock’s title as the tendency to treat complex non-organic systems as agents (who invariably behave very similarly to humans) is widespread amongst climate activists and ecologists and environmentalists more generally.
4Kate Marvel. (2018) Slaying The Climate Dragon.
5UNEP is the United Nations Environmental Programme.
6Che Guevara. (1965) Socialism And Man In Cuba.