Untitled and from the same world as this story

***

The wars had broken out and things were starting to look bleak. Back then, of course, we underestimated the extent of the eventual damage.

Henry was among the first drafted. I don’t think he agreed with it, but he wouldn’t have dodged. He swore he wasn’t scared and I believed him. I think he was ashamed at his lust for combat.

I’d been living in an apartment in the city with a boyfriend who paid my rent even though we always fought. Before our block was evacuated, he decided fate wasn’t on the side of our relationship. My uncle’s house was the only place I could go.

The mansion’s charms failed to delight me as they had when I was a child. I felt lost without the internet, which had gone down around the time of the evacuations. I spent my days drawing pictures and exploring the expansive property. At first, I was planning to stay for a few weeks, maybe a whole summer at the longest. Soon I lost contact with everyone from the outside world. It happened to everyone — the infrastructure attacks. My aunt and uncle started to take people in.

The first guest was a friend of the family. After setting her suitcase in the foyer, she greeted Cameron and Donna with a tight three-way embrace and shook my hand very hard. “I’m Barb,” she said. “Your hands are really cold! I hope the heat works around here!” And then she laughed like she’d just told a joke.

It didn’t take long for Barb to grow on me. She made life a little brighter.

By fall, we all acknowledged that the length of our residence was indefinite. Not that we talked about it, but our faces and voices were softer for it. There was still no way to know what was gone for good and what might come back.

Next to arrive were Glo and Cindy.  Glo was a friend of Barb’s and one of the most massive women I’d ever seen in my life. Cindy was Glo’s cousin, not as obese but still quite fat. Both bleached their hair. They showed up with cases of wine and drank even more than Barb.

For a while we were six: uncle Cameron and aunt Donna; me; Glo; Cindy, and Barb. Then Simon arrived, ringing the doorbell three times. Just that morning, Donna had told me I should feel free to welcome guests — we didn’t call them refugees — so I didn’t have to ask. I answered the door and found myself eye-level with an iguana perched on Simon’s shoulder. Donna didn’t introduce herself before pointing a finger at the beast: “that has to go.” Later I discovered that Simon only pretended to set it free. I also learned it was a she, and her name was Noelle, and Simon snuck dinner leftovers for her.

Not long after Simon, Bo, Dolores, and Lulu showed up. Bo came wearing a business suit. He said it made him feel like he was still a part of the world. Dolores was Bo’s daughter and Lulu was Dolores’s best friend. They were my age but didn’t want to hang out with me, at least at first. I wasn’t bothered by it: I already had a bunch of new friends, and soon enough, the boundaries that defined relationships would collapse so that it no longer made sense to speak of friendship.

Barb would always be my favorite but Glo and Cindy liked me just as much. They taught me that the best cure for a hangover is fattening food. We all lost our identities in time.

***

Tangents

Tangents to my research: 1) intuition as Stieglerian savoir-faire; 2) knowledge conditions restructuring themselves to support the data economy; 3) psychedelics as the permanent exception; the psychedelic mind as the sovereign or the philosopher-king. Schmitt and Plato.

Writing names like Everina Teopisca and Clarabel Yarrow in drunk penmanship. Making Everina and Clarabel live what I don’t have the money for. Realizing the title of my dissertation should be under eight words long.

I thought that writing was the needle’s eye. Life will be okay once the thread comes out on the other side. I think I should only write what I’ve seen.

Neo-Nazis in Poland spending an entire temperate Saturday spitting at queer youth; their wives draping homophobic tapestries from the highest floors of their plattenbaus. In rural Scotland the thinnest of sky-membranes wraps itself around the sun. My verbose nephew. My twin who can’t talk in any normal sense of the word. Who’s never used the internet and never will. Now everyone has some awareness of the autism spectrum. It wasn’t that way in the 90s.

When my parents can’t anymore, I’ll be their guardians. Keeper of two brothers. I don’t know if I’ll ever write about it.

***

June 3 2015

Nuclear war has devastated the city. It’s burned the fat out of my mind. Nobody knows how to make money anymore and the kids on the outskirts imagine themselves as parents long before their own parents tell them where babies come from.

I want to make my replacement too. I don’t want to live forever. I’ll travel outside of time and cross my wires with the future of all the people who lovingly reminded me how to write. I was there before all the stories collapsed under the diminishing integrity of their magic powers and other conditions of auto-depletion. Before atoms ate away at any decent length of thread. Nobody knows how to write anymore; we spend our time having children. And when we fuck each other the fantasy universes into which we plunge are too many, they shuffle and rearrange themselves like playing cards at the whims of a manic poker dealer. Before we’re engulfed in one or another it’s stolen from our dreaming eyes and we’re returned to our lonely bodies. Our lust is just lust for our partner’s lust.

The other night I met a historian who told me that he was glad that he would be dead before his profession became outmoded. In the future, he said, all historians will be data scientists.

I forgot to tell him that the eschaton is too interesting for me to not to treat it as art. It needs to be passed down across generations. A story that gets better and better right up to the moment people start dying for real. Grandiose – my dreams are a young girl’s dreams.

April 12 2015: remember (this)

Once upon a time

He charmed flies with the embers of a cigarette. They slipped between his fingers as the smoke meets the air. Moved but not moving. I saw the holes he made in an aluminum lid.

By the time I arrived, the flies were dead among leaves of dead grass, charred with veiny wings in a heaping clot. From the jar’s lid hung some spider’s prey, a silk bundle in a tortured frozen contortion. I said this is the opposite of a terrarium and he looked pained.

.

I want to bring you life where you have unwittingly dealt only in death. All this is exchanging one symbol of death for another in the desperate hope that the act would endow both with value. Would revive them as a matter of process.

Because it’s a losing game and ’cause my love for you is strong. I’m obliged to show you the beautiful world meaning the one where (this) is to be continued.

December 2 2014: the turing test, death, computers

(Meta: this isn’t fiction. Thoughts while recovering from a car accident).

***

When I was in the E.R., the thought occurred to me that I might be dead. That the procession of nurses, police officers, intravenous tubes and stretchers could be a hallucination produced by my dying brain. This didn’t bother me very much, probably because I was very high on painkillers and adrenaline. But I wanted to know for sure.

I thought the only way that I can know if I’m alive or dead is if I have a conversation. I didn’t want to call any family members until I got a prognosis, and I figured everybody I’d encountered since the accident might be part of my death-dream. So I decided to contact a friend. If a friend could sustain a dialogue with me, that would signal that the hospital bed, IV tubes and the turkey sandwich they gave me when I arrived were all real and I wasn’t instead on my way to a morgue. 

I logged onto gchat and sent a message out to a couple of people.

After a few minutes without a reply, I began to panic. The blank space hanging at the end of my words (hey, are you up? I really need to talk…) was unbearable; I’d figured at least one person would be there. Not so much. My next resort was Facebook. I was lucky to talk to find someone I’m really close with, because my next move would have been to hit up a casual acquaintance with something along the lines of hi I know we don’t talk much, but please respond to me because I was just hit by a car and I want to make sure I’m still alive.

I’m not sure what my mind was doing at that point. I think it has something to do with being in the moment, responsive to a situation in a way that doesn’t feel predetermined — programmed by algorithm or fated otherwise. As far as I knew, the nurses who’d been changing my tubes out and wheeling me between x-rays, CAT scans and section 13A of the emergency room seemed ordinary in a way that could have been produced by a dreaming, semi-conscious mind. They fit the Perfect Form of “nurse.” And this ordinariness bothered me. I wanted a flash of life, an unpredictable word from someone who’d cared for me before all this happened. Something my own brain couldn’t make up; something that surprised me.

I wonder what would’ve happened if I’d spoken with a robot instead. Certainly under normal circumstances I can tell the difference between my friends and a chat bot. But would I have noticed it then, when I was so heavily anaesthetized? If I had, I think it would’ve worried me a lot.

September 9 2014: lot’s wife (looking back)

He held a mirror up to my face when I told him I didn’t have any in my apartment. The face in the mirror cracked up at me and said, do you remember walking around the lower east side? I said yes and the mirror said you used to walk around and scoff at the excess of wealth. You’d take comfort remembering the economy was collapsing. In the time of Kathy Acker, the weird interstice that was Real Punk In America, things were bad. They said that parts of the city were hell on earth. It’s September 9 2014 and things are worse now. I told him that applying makeup made me go into a trance because I had to dissociate from my face. Its imperfections drive me up the wall. It’s not uncommon for depression to fester and spread like pus over a wound, for self-hate to turn the curls of your hair on you in a mutinous chokehold.

I said to him I’ve never liked guns but now I know what it’s like to want to shoot one at the ceiling. The boiler room beneath my apartment isn’t too far from my neighbor’s oxygen machine and my roommate’s got an induction burner. I swear there are more pressures of air in me than there are in this whole house. I took the mirror away, I sent him away, I told him to return only when he had pills for schizophrenia. When his teeth didn’t make him look like a big black god. He’d been swelling. By the time he returned he was bigger than a house. Figured I’d ask him if big people feel more than small ones do. He responded by tipping my throat back and depositing salt into me, so much of it that I sputtered and choked but he kept pouring until it caked on the inside of my esophagus and I couldn’t form words anymore. Now when I try to scream poverty or schizophrenia or class-warfare the taste of salt fills my throat. I can’t drink water even when my thirst kills me. I’m a million grains of salt.

September 5 2014

Once upon a time I looked for exit signs like fixating on burn marks to learn how to stoke a fire.

I stopped writing when I caught sight of an end leering at me from the mountains. When I raise my eyes to those vistas and feel not passion burning but dread — that’s when I’ll know it’s safe for the story to begin. 

August 17 2014

I might try—hard—if you asked me to describe it.

You’re a new kind of familiar, first, and second you’re just new, and third, I’ve run out of tricks. I inverted my magic bag to show you all the nothing that’s there. One more look from you and I’d confess I started with nothing, never added to it. No tricks up my sleeve—no needles in my haystack. No cat, all bag. But you already knew that, didn’t you? Didn’t you do that because you already knew that? Ask me to describe these things, I mean. Because you knew what might happen if you found the words.

I wrote a note for a love song and in a pinch I disappeared, matching the sudden ecstasy of something new with the protracted ecstasy of realizing that it was all you. So I sprang from your fingers and slipped back in a pinch. I’m a new kind of familiar, first, and second I’m just new, and third, I’ve run out of tricks. I’m still here spinning tales with my toes like walking in circles to describe it, I’m waiting for the story to whip its lash at my feet again.

July 12 2014: aporia

I decided I’d have nothing to say to him until I wrote the story out.

My computer is crashing, my body is breaking, the nerves in my hands crisp and tighten around the carpal tunnels. They freeze and thaw with no apparent pattern. A shame because my ability to write and play piano depends on them. If I can’t make, I can’t think.

I navigate the means through paralysis and cash in my yang-impulses, generative energies, at the leather drum. No articulate motions of the fingers necessary. It’s an instrument of Apollo.

I give up drinking. I’m always in the sun. Without announcement Dionysus became nothing more than the devil on my shoulder. He who disappears when you meet his gaze.

I get stronger, I tone my muscles. The vigor required to keep a beat atrophies if you fixate on harmony and proper intonation. I eat lamb to brighten my blood, and I’m in the sun all day long.

Fortitude and its discontents. I read Yukio Mishima’s Sun and Steel.

I wrote the story of how I found my spirit husband in the Earth realms by accident. I wrote about falling into the oceans of the mythical unconscious. How to buoy another person in those waters as they do you. In the house of the Jungians it’s perfectly natural. I wrote about psychosis, an inflammation of the psyche, about how schizophrenics are closer to the spirit realms than we are. He says

I don’t want to speak because words have too much meaning

as the diagnosis goes, 

schizophrenics are language’s slaves; poets, its masters.

I hand-copy the story of Cupid and Psyche. I linger on the tasks of Psyche, the girl who gave her heart to Cupid. Who sustained the wounds of an iron bow. Cupid can elevate an arrow at a perfect right angle to his shoulder, can apply the perfect degree of tension to the bow with inhuman exactitude. Cupid can make an arc so elegant and speedy that the air near his target barely shakes.

In the footnotes I write that I’ve tuned my guitar to the scale of Cupid’s arsenal of bows, the resonances of iron. I don’t remember how the myth unfolds because I fell into a trance while transcribing it. I wrote the story by hand in cheap ink, my hands shook and froze. Verbatim as it was originally committed to the encyclopedia of folklore. Verbatim with a psychoanalyst’s detachment, that was the goal, but I fell into the rhythm of this particular translation and found myself at the end not remembering the beginning or the middle. Into a story-trance again.

July 7 2014: speak/memory

New York City is the best place to forget.

November 3 2013: dedication

Lou Reed and Arthur Danto passed away on the same day. Reading Arthur Danto’s philosophies of art changed my life three years ago. Lou Reed’s music has been changing my life since I was sixteen.

I’m finding life in New York City difficult these days. Still, I love this city. For the same reasons that it produced thinkers like Arthur Danto and artists like Lou Reed.

Laurie Anderson’s obituary for Lou Reed

An obituary for Arthur Danto (in the Worcester Telegram)

RIP.

October 3 2013: dedication

Myself. To a Sadeian place of privilege. Where everything is permissible.

The chessboard floor, the jungle, the library with a slanted, mouth-open anterior receding backward past the library clerks’ and students’ sightline. One-way ticket to Eden. 

Eden: the inverse of Hell, Hell itself the inverse of Heaven. The place of transfiguration. I am writing it and I am going to write it.

September 27 2013: inauguration of the auguries of (in)experience

So I sat in the front row of desks, so I listened to my professor riff on structural inequality. So I rode the train home the next day and considered the girl I know who’s making a career of legitimizing “psychedelic studies” as a field of inquiry within higher education. An interdisciplinary field, she says, evoking queer studies as a precedent. You know, a major of minors. Like playing the music we like. Dissonant polyphony that decays to a perfect sin wave in the brain. Or in the heart: simple harmony.

The professor says: we are the ones with the cameras, we are the ones authorized to valorized, educated to validate. Conferring legitimacy on oneself comes first, I guess. I’m not invested in this idea of self-alchemy per se. I’m just sitting on the train.

The professor has a lot to say about what’s wrong with the world, somehow adding the negative numbers up to a positive equation. We can make change. We can make change. We’re begging for it. 

I believe in her and I believe in it and I believe in myself, but the logic gap between this is a world that is a bad world and change is real needs to be supplanted by a positive philosophy. I believe that. Like the emerging field of positive psychology. A science, of course, of the promotion of things for which the most common words are spiritual jargon. Unflattered by holy light, dried up, hollow husks for those who don’t keep the faith or hold the frequency. And that’s all right. Everything changes.

September 26 2013

Also, also what folks fail to realize is we’re already living in an anarchist world and some just want the policies to be more honest.

September 26 2013

One month to the day of my southward migration. I told him: everything in this city is garish or concrete. Forgot to say all that’s all right with me. Some people make an art of the things they don’t say, and some people find meaning in silence, and some people think through their writing, and lots of people live here. Like the holiday card from the Buddhists I got last year

Look at each other: be kind

Look up: see blue

.

September 24 2013: oblique oubliette

The problem with visionaries: no two eyes can see forever.

Not only Paris, but every city is a city of light. In New York, they plant darkness. Not like landmines, like plants, and they spray the weeds. They stuff their eyes and faces and mouths with senses. The hollows of their own unplanted selves. 

Lest we forget to this day young women ride the subway trains half an hour at least reading Women As Lovers. Between the footfall measures of government-grade to twenty-four karat darkness (invisibility, indivisibility, efficiency) new lovers sync their blinking to expedite the blindness.

Separate the face from the skull: the city bones are built from the mixture of mask and skin, territory and map, revision and presence. Or so I’ve forgotten, and am glad to write: I forgot.

***

Death is Stupid

8/18/22

Higher education hasn’t bullied me into a coherent intellectual identity. I still admire those who make contact with the world but can’t explain their methods. Call it flux movements or soap bubble shimmers. Nabokov described a crystal go-between that separates wolves in tall grasses from wolves in tall stories. He said prismatism is the art of literature. It’s also one of philosophy’s sweeter faces, and it’s the only way to write death, since it can’t be denoted. My mom’s uncle promised her he’d tell her about the afterlife if he could.

Death is the fool on the hill. It confounds predictive capitalism. This is just another sign that capital only exists to ward off existential terror. A weak amulet. Death is stupid.

To help me accept it, I try to believe that all explanations are equally true or false. Every unsolvable X is its own placeholder, but what they conceal is essentially the same. We don’t know if it exists.

Of course the seams between life and death are as discreet as those that run between words and their effects. Any sham of a distinction vanishes in time. The tracks are lost in the lightest snowfall.

8/19/22

Love me as radically anti-transcendent. A real Deleuzian. I’m not falling in love with (X).

Still unspoken words push the blood through my veins. I’m young and dumb enough to want people to mean what they say. A child again, or a sadist trying to develop empathy for the gagged and bound. A Pascalian bargain: I keep listening for God in case he calls.

***

08/14/22

I’ve been traveling. From the beginning of the month, in order: Philadelphia; Brooklyn; Lewes, DE; back to Brooklyn; Fairlawn, VA (where I was stranded for an extra 36 hours due to a flat tire;) Lafayette, IN; Chicago; Columbus, OH, where I am now for Psychedemia. I’ll be presenting this afternoon: “Acid Communism and Psychedelic Science in the Age of Digital Capitalism.”

As part of the speaker application process, we had to write a statement explaining our talk’s applicability to the field of Psychedelic Studies. Mine is below.

***

“Acid Communism and Psychedelic Science in the Age of Digital Capitalism” indicates a connection between empirical psychedelic science and critical/theoretical approaches to contemporary culture and political economy. I’m not advancing knowledge on psychedelics qua psychedelics. Instead, I’m staking out a space for psychedelic science in the burgeoning literature on digital capitalism and digital culture.

I’m also not arguing that psychedelic encounters are inherently political. Nor am I stating that they predispose individuals towards particular world-views, political or otherwise. As I apply the Fisherian “acid” to experiences actually induced by psychedelic substances, I suggest that there is use in politicizing such experiences post-facto. This explicit politicization gives traction to certain critiques of digital capitalism — i.e., those which claim that the mental effects of digital technology serve economic purposes. These critiques generally do not identify positive alternatives or confounds to the effects they consider. Thus my work may be considered a supplement to this particular body of scholarship and would indeed be appropriate in the context of Political Theory and Cultural Studies.

It contributes to Psychedelic Studies insofar as it establishes a link between the field’s “hard” dimensions and political issues that appear to be unrelated. Digital capitalism is not immediately connected with some of the most serious political problems of psychedelic research, e.g., those germane to decriminalization, the racist war on drugs, patenting, regulation/oversight of clinical use, indigenous appropriation, and so forth. Nevertheless, psychedelic science can be deployed towards a necessary intervention here.

My methods are not novel — they come from critical theory and critical STS — but the application may inspire further research from those interested in extrapolating from rather than inquiring into psychedelic phenomenology. I think that both approaches — which I might characterize as “looking out from” vs. “looking into” psychedelic experience — belong in Psychedelic Studies.

***

And here are some photos from an abandoned house in Virginia. (Wish I had a better camera — this is just from my iPhone 7).

the data-image

This was my presentation for SPT2021, the biennial meetings of the Society for Philosophy and Technology. See here for the abstract; note that the talk doesn’t follow the particular sequence of ideas in the same order.

A few things I didn’t mention in the talk: first, the data-image effectively reverses the theory of thought Deleuze lays out in Difference and Repetition. In his words: “the theory of thought is like painting: it needs that revolution which took art from representation to abstraction. This is the aim of a theory of thought without image.” By contrast, the data-image figures thought as nothing but representation. Maybe this is why so many people say that the internet destroys their imagination. Whether we call it “abstract” or “aesthetic,” a certain recessive quality of thought vanishes in data’s floodlights.

In my work on digital methods and scientific epistemologies, I emphasize that representativeness — i.e. the capture and (allegedly) faithful reproduction of an a priori truth, especially empirical truth — is not the only measure of epistemic value. In many cases, it’s not even the best measure. This point has its roots in art history. The “revolution” Deleuze recounts was, at least in part, technological: in the nineteenth century, photography helped liberate painting from its representative function. Meanwhile, critical theory maintains that representativeness is always politically normative.

At 13:45 I talk about methodology. As I explain, the data-image needs to be articulated in the language of the empirical psy- sciences — psychology, psychiatry, and so on — and address Foucauldian critiques of the psy- sciences as bearing normative power. Towards the end, I attempt a reconciliation between the Foucauldian view and my approach. This reconciliation supports “the data-image” as a theory which politicizes the process of datafication and accounts for its mental effects. In the paper, I use findings from psychedelic research to describe how the data-image works. This is consistent with Deleuze’s Cinema I and II, where he uses specific films to theorize what he calls “the movement-image” and “the time-image.” Since art and science make different epistemic and aesthetic claims, I felt it necessary to explain why I use scientific research as opposed to, say, artefacts from digital culture, like social media apps.

And regarding psychedelics: the data-image expedites what Stanley Kubrick called “psychedelic fascism,” “the eye‐popping, multimedia, quadrasonic, drug‐oriented conditioning of human beings by other beings.” Psychedelic fascism employs psychedelic (mind-manifesting) techniques in the service of neoliberal capitalism. (Some people have used “psychedelic fascism” to refer to the neo-Pagan/right-wing hippie fascists’ interest in hallucinogenic drugs, e.g. the QAnon Shaman. The phrase also makes sense in that context, but this is a different thing).

Kubrick’s “psychedelic fascism” can also be called “psychedelic capitalism” or “acid capitalism.” It was bad enough in Kubrick’s day, but now there’s big data, with its epistemic lacquer and crisp right angles, choking a hermeneutically open world.

grieving

Capitalism has produced a class of people rich enough to avoid domestic commitments. I get it. To accept others as family is to shack up with death. The day I got engaged I fixated on one of us burying the other. That’s why today’s elite prefer the primordial monotony of Mars over familiar but perpetually decaying worldly paradises. Mars is the permanent second chance, a hack only dreamable by those who can afford to see its remedial effect on life and death. This vision may be better than sex and other Earthly delights, but I could never take it seriously enough to think it through.

My mom and dad are getting old, neither are in great health, and they’re raising my sister’s four year old son. Covid might hand them a really bad deal; I’ve lost sleep about it. My nephew was born three days after my mom finished chemo for breast cancer. Their hair came in at the same rate, and even though they’re best friends, they drive each other crazy. She insists he observe the same grammatical mandates trained into her by Catholic nuns half a century ago (e.g., the word “of” never follows “off” and it’s trashy to say “sure” when you actually mean “yes”). Growing up I thought that proper speech indicated proper character, which made my classmates hate me.

So I have a lot of these domestic ties. There was a romantic nihilism to getting married in the early days of the virus, like we mattered more than These Unprecedented Times. I put on a Johnny Cash record and made a makeshift nuptial boudoir of my bedroom. We shared a drink in the kitchen — I hid my gown and makeup beneath a floor-length coat and surgical mask.

Two days before the ceremony, my twin brother tested positive. He was relocated from the group home where he lives with other nonverbal autistic people to an “extremely comfortable” quarantine — my mom’s description, and she expressed gratitude to New York state taxes. I told my fiance that’s socialism working, my cruel attempt to give his pain political meaning, and it’s not the first time that sort of detachment’s been a comfort. Champagne-drunk I announced his diagnosis to my wedding guests and it struck me that it’s not political at all.

Like everyone I know, I’m more sensitive to Twitter’s sophistic brand of bullshit than universal inevitables. Year-end accomplishment lists, internally consistent and Borgesianly precise that sort of thing. They’re more conducive to sanity than the big nothing which lies where political discourse should have a beating heart. The timeline scaffolds the illusion that there’s a positive center to the world-pain rather than a void of meaning.

For years I’ve charged social media with advancing capitalist realism. It’s a staple of my writing career. It’s still easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism, but honestly, I find the thought experiment less useful than ever. These days my working response is that even the most improbable fantasy has a price tag. Finance lays claim to anything intelligible. If you poke them enough, every weird amalgam of colors, faces, and desires turns into a commodity.

I started writing this on New Year’s eve. Four days later I learned that my friend Will died. They found his body on the side of a road in Macon, Georgia. It was a hit and run accident; now there’s a criminal investigation. He was 36.

Will was building his own idiosyncratic version of the reset, an unfucked / pro-social variation of the Musk-Bezos-Gates otherworld rendered in websites, novels, community projects, relationships. That’s not why I loved him, but it’s worth mentioning. The word visionary comes up in his eulogies. He loved public commons and hated private cars.

We dated for three years; for a while I thought we’d get married. I’ve thought of him as family for over a decade. So I’ve mourned him twice now. Of course I prefer this over any sterile extraterrestrial fantasy. Will was not a normal person, but to paraphrase one of his favorite authors, the only abnormality we should care about is the incapacity to feel. Maybe my hypothetical noncapitalist future is only reserved for those who are okay with death. That might be the political radicalism I’m chasing.

acid communism as radical realism

A lot of thoughts about acid communism and not a lot of time to write.

I like this essay: Left-Wing Hypomania. It’s about the bloodlessness of optimism at the second end of history, AKA the post-Trump era. (Both terms are lies).

“From uncertain celebration to fluctuating fixation, it is our inner depressive realists, our exhaustive selves, speaking to our collective effervescence.”

“Collective effervescence” describes acid communism as I and others have written about it. I wish I hadn’t put it that way. There’s no singular affective mode of acid communism, just like there’s no paradigmatic sort of psychedelic experience. Clichés of “the psychedelic experience” are just that.

Clear eyes see the causal connection between capitalism and depression. Sober minds think the affinity between class consciousness and altered states. “Altered states” includes psychedelic inebriation plus every other mental condition that capital can’t tabulate for profit. They aren’t always bright. If anything, the work of acid communism destabilizes and demoralizes, like proper rites of passage or old-fashioned heart medicine.

Growing out of Melanie Klein’s “depressive position,” in which the individual finally faces up to the reality principle, depressive realism is the opposite of enforced optimism. (Melancholy against capitalist psychopolitics).

Its principal incipient observation, inspired by Klein but carried out in experimental studies, was not so much that the depressed had some kind of intuitive understanding of the real world, but rather that “non-depressed people succumb to cognitive illusions that enable them to see both themselves and their environment with a rosy glow.” Pace the preachers of optimism from every corner, they found, much to their surprise, that depression did not inhibit action or perception of capability of action. Rather, it was the “cognitive illusions” and “rosy” outlook of the non-depressed that constantly impaired decision making.

At least one scholar calls bullshit on the psychedelic hype. As she says, meditation and other “alternative” treatments ward off depression just as well. There’s no nuclear option for buying rose-tinted glasses.

I can’t tell if this song is manic or depressive, but it reminds me that sadness is pellucid. To reap its benefits, you have to drink lots of it. Let it tone and fortify until the psychic dregs of blissful ignorance all dissolve in a stream of clear light. (Political thought should have a similar clarifying purpose, but that’s very difficult in a media age).

I don’t mean to make a fetish of melancholy. Acid communism says two things; I’m highlighting the latter — 1: something strange and beautiful lies on the other side of sadness; 2: to safely pass through the vanishing point we have to acknowledge it. That means placing faith in every kind of darkness: aesthetic, epistemic, even moral depravity. Staying with the faith until we’re sensitive to the type of art that defies capture and mechanical reproduction. And then we have to preserve it for other people finding their own way through to it. Trusting they’ll trust the ride like we did.

***

How Grief Made Me A Person, an interview with Nick Cave

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I love this song. It sounds like two depressed people without purpose in life sitting next to eachother on a train, having conversation that most normal people have, about what they’re planning to do in the future. As it turns out, both of them have the same nihilistic point of view but they keep asking eachother questions to find out if they maybe have some things that they wish to do before they die and to keep the conversation going. (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3V1Lov1U9mU)

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