Thursday, October 31, 2013

An Object-Oriented Ontology© on Amphetamines and Psilocybin: Neomedievalist Theory-Fiction Is Here


At last, the rival Confraternity of SpeculativeRealism® has its missing subject! Here, the human-object/thing sits still-as-stone, dis-connected from one regime in order to connect to another. As such, this book is a contribution to Thing Theory, but of a very queer and wonky kind. An object-oriented ontology© on amphetamines and psilocybin. 

~Simon O’Sullivan

There will be many things about this guide that you will not like. It might drive a bit too fast for comfort, especially because it has no seatbelts—the Journeyman’s Guide is open top and the roads to its anchorholds swerve all over the place. But you need to drive very fast to see things as things. 

~Reviews, Proto-Bitch, Portland, OR

Take your tour of the bittersweet anchorholds discussed in this guide—if it’s summer, bring a plastic bag and a bathing suit. Reinvigorate your sense of wonder at the bizarre hypereconomy of sensual relations and aesthetic transfigurations manifest throughout the middle kingdom of the great subject/object divide. Consider the anchorite who heroically straddles the ontological dyke that we Journeymen must constantly leap—never settling on one side or the other. Now try it yourself! When your legs start to tremble, your britches tear asunder, and your groin aches to high heaven, wonder at the anchorite who, with mighty yoga skills and limbs of steel, adopts this position forever with the ascetic grace of a lobster clinging steadfastly to the rim of a steaming pot. 

~from "The Journeyman's Guide to Anchoritism," thN Lng folk 2go

What do Giorgio Agamben, Jane Bennett, Ian Bogost, Nicolas Bourriaud, Levi Bryant, Hedley Bull, Caroline Walker Bynum, Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, Michel de Certeau, Umberto Eco, Aranye Fradenburg, David Graeber, Cynthia Hahn, Graham Harman, Katherine Hayles, Thomas Hobbes, Bruce Holsinger, Amy Kaufman, Bruno Latour, David Matthews, Timothy Morton, the Petropunk Collective, Plastique Fantastique, Michelle Sauer, Myra Seaman, Michel Serres, Clare A. Simmons, Alvin Toffler, M.J. Toswell, Ben Woodard, and Julian Yates all have in common? They all appear as passengers and "characters" in the wild neomedievalist acid-trip of a schizo-comic theory-novel thN Lng folk 2go: Investigating Future Premoderns™, authored [or is it compiled?] by the Confraternity of Neoflagellants [Norman Hogg, Sergeant-at-Arms, and Neil Mulholland, Keeper of the Wardrobe], and released by punctum books today -- appropriately enough, on All Hallow's Eve. Flung around the globe, the Confraternity is staging the following celebrations later this evening:
In the jousting field of Parc Mont Royale, near Chemin Olmsted, Montréal, Quebec H2W 1S8, at 19:00 EST Sergeant-at-Arms (Norman Hogg) will download a PDF of the book from (CAN$0) onto his Android cellphone and drink a toast from the Horton's cup.

At Cabaret Voltaire, Spiegelgasse 1, 8001 Zürich, Switzerland, Keeper of the Wardrobe (Neil Mulholland) will launch the print copy of the book (€15) at 23:00 CET. The first advanced print copy will be flagellated then burned, its ashes interred in the bin outside Cabaret Voltaire's gift shop.
In Cincinnati, Ohio in a bungalow on Bishop Street in the Clifton neighborhood, 45220, at 7:00 pm EST, the volume's esteemed editor (Eileen Joy) will retreat into her basement hub-anchorhold and break down the division between subject and object, thereby unleashing a swarm of inhuman champagne-swilling actants.
If asked to provide a comprehensive summary of this book, I would have to fake a reason to suddenly be needed in the next room, two countries over. There IS no way to adequately [or neatly] summarize this book, but suffice to say, similar to Reza Negarestani's theory-novel Cyclonopedia: Complicity With Anonymous Materials (, 2008), thN Lng folk 2go is a mixed-genre speculative theory-novel that comprises: faux-yet-real International Relations scholarship; a swarm-authored "journeyman's guide" to contemporary anchorholds ("built on contributions from dudes in the local anti- and post-humanist communities"); a post-future archival narrative excavation of 5 saga-podcasts that detail a lost history of a futurist 400-year American Commune ("L'Amérique Souterraine") that also includes a duelling marginal commentary; a faux-yet-real scholarly appraisal of neomedieval art in the early 21st century; and a faux-biography of the hypereconomist-game developer-entrepreneur Alexandr Petrovsky who apprenticed at VALVe and brought content and brand curation to new levels, creating technologies for enchantment, gaming cuboids, and a new company Brandeum, part of whose mission statement reads, "Thorns whisper perfidious penance as bats unleash sanguine fangs. Foolish mortals secrete perfidious abattoirs as oblivion engulfs the spectral requiem. Darkness ascends silver deception while pyres collapse from Elysian arterial spray. Prayers unleash nocturnal torment and entangle our bloody souls."

Although this will do no real justice to how varied, rich, and downrightly deliciously and psychedelically mind-bending this futurist "theory-fiction" is, suffice to say that, on one important level [and hence, all of the particular medievalists who appear in this book] the volume performs a scathing critique of the post-nation, hypereconomic, neomedievalist breakaway present, albeit from a fictional future looking back on a present that is part-historically real and part-fabulated -- all inflected, as well, with a super-concentrated dose of Object-Oriented Ontology and Speculative Realism. What is astounding about this book is that -- unlike many commentators in think tanks and policy institutes, the contemporary press, political figures, and the like, who throw around the terms "medieval" and "neomedieval" in really historically irresponsible ways -- it was written by 2 artists with backgrounds in visual culture studies, art-practice, and art history who are DEEPLY well-read in medieval studies (and studies in medievalism), and also in International Relations theory, literary theory, actor-network theory, anthropology, hypereconomics, art history, aesthetics, ecology, cultural theory, cultural geography, and speculative realism. In other words, this is a work of pseudo-fiction that packs a stinging wallop of a theoretical punch relative to the world we live in today and its many still-medieval valences. It is also one hell of a rollicking rollercoaster ride of a read.

I will leave you with Simon O'Sullivan's Preface, "The Seven Courts of the Mall (or, We Have Always Been Medieval)," and I encourage everyone to download the open-access e-book and/or purchase the affordable (and handsome!) print edition HERE (PLEASE consider making a donation when downloading as way of saying "Vive la Open-Acess!").



The Seven Courts of the Mall
(or, We Have Always Been Medieval)

Simon O’Sullivan


The Brothers had asked me for a preface (as if there is really anything left of the faciality-machine in our contemporary scene!) and I am happy to oblige . . . me, whom they did formerly cast out on the basis of misuse (oh, the irony) of Confraternity Technology, i.e. phee-loss-so-phee, and, in general, speculative thinking (and, in turn, the positing of a diagrammatics for the production of new selves at odds to their own strictures). A Free School did I set up, away from the aforementioned Confraternity, nay Church, for it is my belief that the technologies in question—including the grasping of our own age as neomedieval (in both its geopolitical and ethico-aesthetic character) has much to offer those who refuse the Church (however this be articulated) and its scriptures. Be that as it may. What could I do? Perhaps the invite were also a sign of sorts that my long days of exile are at an end and that once more I will be embraced by the joys of collaborative Neoflagellant writing and art-werke. Avalon once more! Certainly it has been testing to ruminate alone on questions of art, the subject and ontology in a time of Capital that is so late that it loops around—like Ouroboros— to its own beginning, nay, pre-beginning. This fact being, in fact, not tangential to the matters here under dispute.
            So, how to understand the following thesis that masquerades as print-on-demand, para-academic and post-USB art? If this tome is a space-time-capsule, then what are the operating protocols hidden within its arcane coding? It seems to me that there are seven logics—or, more specifically, courts—that might operate as guidance system for any reader.

1. Fictioning

What follows is a schizo-comic fictioning that lays bare the connections between our hyper-modernity and a medievalism that is its appropriate accompaniment and frame of reference (this being precisely, neomedievalism, or, in short, the laying out of a “Medieval-Tech®” as the only adequate frame of reference for these Troubled Times). Old World meets New World in an untimely assemblage (or, “Mall”) in which, in fact, all temporalities—futures, pasts, future-pasts, past-futures—are deployed, mashed up and then realigned so as to open, at last, a space for something different (this most cramped court allows us, at last, to breathe!).

2. Acceleration

In this speculative venture avatars and scenarios proliferate and spin out as redundant probe-heads from the central processing machine that is Capital. Indeed, such a book as this accelerates the process. Here one finds characters composed of advertising refrains and slogans, cruising the mediascape, guided by a telematic standardization that manifests itself in brands and slogans, fast-food outlets and jousting tournaments. This book speaks of consumers and commodities that move at a pace which outruns the regulative speeds of the market, but that also move slower. Is this the future of Capital? If it is, then it is also its past. A court sub specie aeterni.

3. Geopolitics

Contained within these pages is a further treatise—and prophesy—on a “new” geo-political order that harks back to a pre-modern landscape. Apparently contemporary global relations (and their attendant intra/supra-national citizenships) become evidence for a neomedievalism that has run underneath—and against—the stories of the achievements and advancements of our so-called Western civilization. For, let it be known: We Have Always Been Medieval. This book lays bare these often-conflicting logics—the causes beneath the surface effects of what we witness in our age as chaos and confusion. The medieval grid is revealed! Modernity? A ruse, a veil . . . an attempt at spinning an alternate narrative pitched against what has always been a Dark Age.

4. The Spectacle

A meta-comment on this commentary: what follows is an account of the “Spek-taa-kal” in its most advanced phase . . . so advanced that it starts to mutate, producing experimental and only half-operational assemblages. In this grey zone, agents and counter-agents slip and slide, double one another in a game of “this-and-that”, waiting for the dust to settle so that they (and we) can see, finally, “who-is-who”. Indeed, who is this book written for? Certainly for those few intent on producing a New World Order out of the ruins of this one, but also for those even fewer intent on bringing all such New World Orders down! In particular, an online hyperstitional economics becomes the stage set on which a number of strange currencies and transactions are played out: a groundless-ground of a virtual gaming terrain. Forsooth, all becomes increasingly psychotic as the book in your hand involves the Symbolik (including the Economik) bending back on itself and generating new combinations. Has the sinthome ever meant anything else?

5. Scenes

Herein is the telling of the tail of the contemporary scene of art—from a future-past perspective that is at once learned and partisan. In this account art scenes operate as, and across, fiefdoms in a world in which vassals, overlords, and the omnipresent mercenary (all had already recognized this figure!) determine the relational aesthetics of practice. At certain key junctures alchemical workshops and laboratories attempt something transformative (this book is nothing less than this). This account is a looking for signs and sigils within the present: of the past; of the future (all around us, patchwork like); and of pasts that are yet to come about. In other, more strictly speaking, mathematical terms: a looking for the Universal in the local and the local in the Universal. This is then a specialist meditation and manifesto on a certain kind of neomedieval ‘contemporary art’ when the latter is understood as post-post-internet, or, indeed, specifically pre-internet, and when the socalled “world-wide-web” is itself the violent and bloody dream of Modernity (Q.E.D.).

6. Gifts

In this adventure and survey numerous allies are ushered in to play their part: Gilles Deleuze, Georges Bataille, a host of other players . . . all, it is shown, having a neomedieval aspect to their thought (the “general economy” of the sun; a “rhizosphere” of man/animal/plant relations). Within this dense web of references, gifting and relic-ing become the signifiers for an alternate cartography of a capitalism that has outrun the uses of its previous protocols (shedding these as a viper sheds its many skins . . . SSSSSS). At last! A market set free! Here entrepreneurs as storytellers are the nodal points of far-fetched conspiracy theories. Is this something anti-capitalist then? Only if anti- is read as a platform for the launching of that which it appears to be against.

7. Things

Finally, clarity emerges from obscurity, a clear zone is drawn: this is a Magikal and ritualistic account of the possibility of a different kid of subject. A statement of the self-as-thing—and the associated practices of such a production. At last, the rival Confraternity of SpeculativeRealism® has its missing subject! Here, the human-object/thing sits still-as-stone, dis-connected from one regime in order to connect to another. As such, this book is a contribution to Thing Theory, but of a very queer and wonky kind. An object-oriented ontology© on amphetamines and psilocybin. This conjured figure is not a simple return to a pre-modern assemblage composed of animist object-subjects and a close infinite-finite weave, but nor is it the imposition of a transcendent enunciator that reduces and standardizes the aforementioned heterogeneity (under the single eye of a single £, and a curtain drawn against the infinite). Indeed, it is a return to pre-modernity, but one that is indelibly marked—branded—by its passage through an increasingly moribund modernity.  Good news! There is a third way! Neomedievalism as the autopoietic nuclei (the strange attractor, the partial object, the Z-point) around which something else might, finally, begin to constellate and cohere . . . . 

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