Disintegrative Cosmic Accelerationism

The best current cosmology is accelerationist, and disintegrationist. To put the matter crudely — and ultimately untenably — the expansion of the universe is speeding up, and apart. Rather than being decelerated by gravity, subsequent to an original explosion, the rate of cosmic inflation has increased. Some yet-unknown force is overwhelming gravity, and red-shifting all distant objects. 

There have been various mentions of “Cosmic Accelerationism” on Twitter recently (although Kodwo Eshun’s More Brilliant Than The Sun has had most of that Sun (Ra-)worship covered, surely?) and this new essay from Nick Land for Jacobite does a good job of revealing the Bataillean cosmology always already at Accelerationism’s core.

Land is pulling together so many different threads here that many other people have been tentatively gathering across the blogosphere and further afield — it makes for a thrilling read.

The essay demonstrates a certain geopoetic perspective that we (arguably) haven’t seen explored this explicitly since the old Urban Futures blog...

Nick Land, still farther out in intellectual deep-space than most, seems to see the syzygistic dance of all the disparate nodes that haven’t quite yet found their connections in the blogosphere.

I particularly like the talk of mythology here, echoing a sort of Deleuzo-Ballardian “new people”; a “people-to-come”; a people born out of the displacements of new cartographies. Land couldn’t be clearer than when he describes an “accelerating universe [that] wipes out traces of its own origins.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about this myself recently after reading Deleuze’s essay “What Children Say”, in which he writes that we should consider our abstract cartographies “in such a way that each map finds itself modified in the following map, rather than finding its origin in the preceding one: from one map to the next, it is not a matter of searching for an origin, but of evaluating displacements.”

As Land writes himself, the lure of this cosmic Nietzscheanism, of our own origin unknown — the working title of More Brilliant Than The Sun, lest we forget — is an intoxication not because of what is lost but the new pathways that are opened up by “the coming amnesia.”

There’s also this essay’s fixation on a blackened science more readily associated with Negarestani in my mind these days. Land’s conception of a “mythic science” is nonetheless making me want to further extend the points made about mythology here — a Schellingian mythology born out of “a type of alienation” that is not produce by a people but brings a new people into existence.

There is also the strong resonance between Land’s accelerating “universe” and the political orientations of patchwork: “The sum of what you have broken from defines what you are.”

Finally, we have Land once again broaching the topic of race, in similar terms as those explored in his infamous “Hyper-Racism” post. Polemically written, that old post has typically been read as a threat rather than a warning. If clarification were needed — and many would say it most definitely is — this post takes a far calmer and more sensitive approach to this issue. Dare I say, it’s almost …”progressive”? (Although, of course, I’d stop short of trying to subordinate Land’s cause to any obelisk of leftism — or rightism either, for that matter.)

It addresses many of the same anxieties that people jump to about patchwork also — “Is this not an excuse for the establishment of ethnostates?” The proliferation of negative entropy — of difference — cannot be understood as the proliferation of distinct pockets of homogeneity. It means heterogeneity all the way down and all the way up.

The default — paradoxical and flawed — logic often applied to such an observation is that diversity is good and should be subordinated to a universalised politics. Thinking long-term, however, any attempt to do this will mean swimming upstream against the forces of the universe — eventually.

Politically, this is the sort of praxis we see emerging from various pockets of progressive politics which preach diversity but adhere (often unconsciously) to the hegemony of, for example, white experience. It’s a critique that applies as resolutely to “white feminism” as it does “white nationalism” — albeit with the former having the excuse of ignorance on its side, as opposed to the latter’s arrogance.

Here we find the anti-praxis of U/Acc emerging into view. As space-time disintegrates, you have to make yourself worthy of the process. Land concludes:

Any perspective that can actually be realized has already been localized by serial breakages. Nothing begins with the whole, unless as illusion. Today, we know this both empirically and transcendentally. Anything not done in pieces is not done in profound accordance with reality.

I’m running the risk of putting woke words into Land’s mouth here but I think the implications are far clearer here than they have ever been. Expect frequent referrals back to this post in the future.



Shout out to Seechrome who beat me to it and already wrote a nice reflection on this essay.



Note: This post was written and scheduled for publication a few days prior to Land’s Kantbot-hosted conversation with the famously punchable Richard Spencer.

That conversation promised to touch on many a “controversial” topic but, as far as Spencer’s contributions went, it mostly covered Nationalism 101 as seen from the particular perspective of a seemingly well-read white nationalist.

I’m left wanting to implore Spencer to read Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities — his questions about whiteness become much less profound in the context of any of the well-known literature on nationalism. It was only Land who seemed to consider the sense in which the sort of “imagined community” Anderson so famously described has wholly faltered with regards to whiteness.

The imagined community of “white people” is a relatively new consideration for many, which they suggest is a direct by-product of contemporary identity politics. Whiteness has only emerged in relief against a backdrop of various considerations around the modern nature of blackness, et al.

As a result, in long being the elephant in the room but only recently being considered with any serious moral commitment, whiteness has arrived at the idpol table at a serious disadvantage, not only in being seen as a wholly negative identity (by white people especially, as Land and Spencer both accept) but also as an identity that is immediately unsure of itself because of the disintegration it has in turn occasioned in the aftermath of the West’s most egregious imperialist projects.

Spencer’s call for a rallying behind modern whiteness is essentially laughed at by Land. The tragic irony of contemporary whiteness is that it has only become aware of itself at the moment of its accelerating disintegration. If you want to reinvigorate whiteness with a productive sense of community shared by the likes of blackness, et al., to call for a widespread rallying behind a newly virile ethnonationalism is laughably too little too late.

The discussion was ended here all too prematurely. Whilst Land being so accommodating to someone like Spencer is regrettable, it was nonetheless an interesting listen for the way that Spencer’s desire for a reinvigorated white mythology was revealed to be a desperate Jordan Peterson-esque grasping at quickly dissolving “solidities”. This is to say that “whiteness” is to Spencer and “masculinity” is to Peterson. Land’s willingness to let old identitarian life rafts sink below the waves of negative entropy was barely acknowledged before time was up.

Hopefully in the promised Part 2 of this fateful meeting we’ll hear more about what distinguishes Land’s own unruly political philosophy from the Alt-Right’s not-so-alt ethno-traditionalism.

Witchfinder General: A Pastoral Shaft?

Shouts to @SpaceWeather9 for bringing this to wider attention this afternoon — and brought to my attention specifically via a WhatsApp from Robin.

This is the epitome of what I had in mind when first thinking about the name “xenogothic” for this blog — although I’d have never admitted that at the time. I thought it was a funny name for a split aesthetic sensibility but it stuck because it was an empty enough signifier to fill with all sorts of other observations too. The founding inspiration, though, was never knowing how to externally express my equal love for goth aesthetics and funk and disco — other than DJing funk and soul nights in full corpsepaint. (Yet to do this but I’m gagging for the opportunity…)

The closest I got to finding the middle ground as a teenager was probably getting really into soundtracks for blaxploitation movies — urbanised horror with a big dollop of dark soul. (Anyone else remember that Superbad compilation? I wore all 3 discs of that down into oblivion.)

Aged 14, Curtis Mayfield was my xenogothic King. What is If There’s a Hell Below, We’re All Gonna Go if not a kind of Lovecraftian ode to a city of terrors? A sonic Hieronymus Bosch-esque depiction of the various circles of a concrete hell?

This track from Carl Douglas is devoid of any subtext, of course, and hits the nail directly on the head, making me ask the question: Is Witchfinder General a witch-ploitation movie? Is the General a pastoral Shaft? Douglas seems to think so…

New Single from William Doyle, “Nobody Else Will Tell You”

“Nobody Else Will Tell You” is the new single from William Doyle and it is out today!

It’s the latest sonic slice from Will’s project, Your Wilderness Revisited (previously blogged about) which I’ve been taking the photos for over the last ~3 years.

We went back to Will’s hometown for what may have been our final shoot the other week — the album is rapidly incoming — and I can’t wait for everyone to hear it. It is a truly beautiful thing.

Only one photo from the latest shoot is currently out in the world — Will’s new press shot (see below).


Here’s some choice cuts from the press release, shared by The Quietus:

“Both this track and the album in general explore the theme of the suburban environment,” says a press release, “inspired by William’s experience of having grown up in that world and how he eventually saw beyond its ordinary stereotypes, to something that was illuminating and inspirational.”

Speaking about the track, Doyle says: “Nobody Else Will Tell You became about the exploration of your residential surroundings and affording them the same kind of curiosity and wonder that a woodland or a mountain range is meant to inspire within you. People are very accustomed and attracted to this idea of ‘finding yourself’ in nature, but I feel that I found myself just as easily in winding avenues and front gardens. If we were more in touch with the psychedelic possibility of what we are constantly told is banal or mundane, we’d have greater respect for it and ourselves.”

More soon!

Chernobyl and Nuclear-Accelerated Collapse

I’ve been watching the Chernobyl miniseries these past few days and, after finishing it the other night, I have been left with a particularly spicy (if medium-rare) hot take.

The series chronicles everything from the moment the core of the power plant explodes to its prolonged aftermath. And yet, the dramatised consequences of the Chernobyl nuclear meltdown unfold surprisingly quickly.

I always assumed the thing failed and everyone just got the hell out of there. I was surprised how wrong I was.

Whilst most of the “action” takes place over a 48-hour period and is followed by a few weeks of controlled collapse, during which the city of Pripyat is evacuated and a major clean-up operation begins, it is hard to calculate how many lives were lost following the disaster and its mismanagement — particularly those who knowingly (and unknowingly) sacrificed their lives to try to limit the full extent of the fallout.

It’s all incredibly depressing.

Workers are, as ever, the first to go — plant workers and skilled labourers brought in to handle the clean-up are sacrificed and die horrifically within days, quite literally melting into pools of irradiated goo. The bureaucrats and apparatchiks — or some of them at least — are like captains going down with their ship, accepting the inevitable if anticipating a slower demise.

Beyond this, we are shown every detail. Most harrowingly, one episode follows a group of soldiers tasked with clearing out the post-evacuation influx of stray irradiated dogs. Too adorable to want to kill, too irradiated to allow to wander the landscape freely, it’s a truly thankless proto-apocalyptic task.

All in all, the events on display make the Soviet Union look like a real shitshow. So concerned with their reputation on the world stage, the higher-ups who are out of harm’s way nonetheless endanger countless more lives in the future for the sake of saving face for five more minutes.

It is undeniably a particularly Soviet sort of mess but what surprised me was that it was not wholly unfamiliar.

The two years over which the series takes place starts to feel like a rapidly accelerated state collapse, foreshadowing the Soviet Union’s final death knell which would sound only five years later. But this sort of multi-dimensional incompetence nonetheless echoes the time in which we live and, perhaps more accurately, the times to come.

Who would have thought a television series about the past could feel so horrifyingly speculative…

As the 2020s loom on the horizon, the decades ahead feels poised to define themselves through a similar sort of gross state incompetence. Today the West, increasingly unsure of itself and its relationship to the truth, is mismanaging the unfolding climate crisis just as criminally as the Soviet Union mismanaged the Chernobyl disaster. The only difference is that the collapse which took the Soviet Union a decade is taking the West five times as long.

Still, our disaster — our climate Chernobyl — can’t be too far off. The unbearably dry heat of this year’s London heatwave makes that very clear.

In this way, it is blinkered to view Chernobyl as only a series about how ridiculous Soviet Communism was — especially when we consider that, in recent years, we have begun to treat our experts with just as much contempt and our labourers with just as little empathy as the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. The inconvenient truth at the heart of the series it that all state-forms are just as embarrassingly suicidal — if you give them the time and the opportunity.

There are still lessons to be learned within it for us all.

Difference & Repetition: Difference-In-Itself

The XG Discord reading group meets once a month via Google Hangouts to collectively work through a philosophical text and chat about it.

The masochists who constitute my first Patreons decided they wanted to tackle Deleuze’s Difference & Repetition together. Having attempted to read this book a couple of times, both on my own and with others, I anticipated it to be a very daunting task, but so far it’s been great and felt very productive.

The discussion sessions in themselves are private and the archive is only accessible to Patreons but I’ve been writing little introductions to each chapter to set the scene before opening up into a collective discussion through which we can collectively work through the particulars. So, I thought I might share those introductions here since I’ve been putting quite a lot of work into them and also use them as an advert for the XG Discord.

Here’s a garbled version of the first session’s introduction that I’ve pieced together quickly from my notes. The session was held a month ago in mid-June. The following chapter introductions — now that we’ve found our footing with this difficult text — will hopefully be much better and more detailed.

(I wrote the “Image of Thought” introduction yesterday in the pub and I’m really excited about it. I’ll post that next week and then the subsequent introductions will appear monthly from there on out.)

Enjoy!



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Difference & Repetition began its life as Gilles Deleuze’s doctoral thesis. François Dosse, in his dual biography of Deleuze and Guattari, Intersecting Lives, offers the best account of its development.

The author of Difference & Repetition distanced himself from the dominant philosophical tradition by arguing for an overthrow of Platonic thinking. His remarks occurred during the 1960s, a decade during which Hegelianism, the reigning force in the history of philosophy, was coming under fire. This was clearly a time of change: in literature with the New Novel, in the social sciences, and in the growing appreciation of Heideggerian thinking; it was an era of “generalized anti-Hegelianism.”

Dosse continues: “Deleuze defended his thesis at the Sorbonne in early 1969; it was one of the first defenses after May [1968], despite the fact the protests were far from over.” There are stories of Deleuze having to play a game of cat-and-mouse in order to present this new and major work. Maoists had taken over the school as part of the protests and would routinely disrupt its proceedings.

Whilst Deleuze was not “a revolutionary militant” to the same extent as Guattari was at this time, there are many accounts that reveal him to nonetheless be supportive and enthusiastic about the protest movement. Dosse writes that Deleuze “was one of the rare professors at [the University of] Lyon, and the only one in the philosophy department, to publicly declare his support for and attend the events of the movement.” This enthusiasm would lead Deleuze to eventually meet and begin his collaborations with Guattari.

Despite how different their lives may seem at this point, Difference and Repetition nonetheless lays much of the theoretical groundwork for all that the pair would discuss together.

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In the context of the “growing appreciation for Heideggerian thinking”, I once heard a tongue-in-cheek tale — and I can no longer remember where or from whom — that Deleuze named his book Difference & Repetition because Being & Time was already taken…

In the spirit of Heidegger’s best known work, Difference & Repetition is likewise Deleuze’s attempt to answer one of philosophy’s most fundamental questions, emerging from Plato and Aristotle: “How do we think reality — the objective nature of the world around us?” That is to say, how do we think the nature of knowledge itself? Typically, this requires certain structures and taxonomies of things, but Deleuze takes a lightly less intuitive approach…

Jon Roffe, in his 2018 lectures on Deleuze’s book, introduces things in the following way and his is a very useful introduction, I think, so in order to get the better grasp of where exactly Deleuze is coming from, I’m going to introduce things here by summarising Roffe’s own summary whilst throwing in some extra things I’ve found whilst doing my own reading of and around this book. (I’m new to this too so best to start with a third-party grounding before going way off track.)

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Roffe, at first, pulls back to the Greeks and begins by addressing Aristotle’s various problems with Plato — in particular, his attempt to think concepts or Ideas “in themselves” as eternal and unchanging things that can and should be thought directly.

For Aristotle, contra Plato, any attempt to think any concept without some sort of external real-world referent, is really dumb — and, to begin with, we might think so too. But Deleuze, perhaps surprisingly, is initially on Plato’s side here. For him, Plato’s greatness is found in his insistence that we think about concepts in themselves.

Deleuze gives the example of “birds” as a genus that contains many different kinds of creature. So what is it to think the concept of “bird” in itself? We all know what a bird is, generally speak, and, even if we don’t think of a particular type of bird, you can probably guess what sort of picture I have in my mind’s eye when thinking about what a “bird” is. If I were to describe it to you, generically, I might say: small, winged, feathered thing with a beak, etc.

However, the issue with this is that when we start to describe this generalised concept and attempt to tie it to actual external referents, we begin to develop a full taxonomy of the concept of “bird” that subordinates the thought-image to various presuppositions. It is here that Deleuze finds divisions and frictions within Plato and Aristotle’s thought.

For instance, Deleuze speaks of flying and flightless birds as a challenge to one of the most basic categories that we might associate with the genus “bird” — flight. In truth, flight is not an ontological category that applies to all birds in all cases.

So, for Deleuze, this Platonic conceptual thinking is actually quite interesting because it has a tendency to contain a kind of “difference-in-itself”. It’s not a Universalised version of a concept, which is what Aristotle would try to rigorise, but rather a concept that allows multiplicities to flow through it somewhat seamlessly.

Aristotle’s work, somewhat contrary to this, is more of a science of Being. He systematises and structures logic and reality, developing an analytic epistemology, noting that we have the concept “bird” and accounting for this concept by mapping out all of the knowledge and observations that constitute our common sense of the concept.

Beyond this, Aristotle also develops a logical account of substance, charting all the differences and repetitions that allow us to move from the concept of “substance” — like matter; that which we all are — to the differentiation between humans and inanimate objects, etc.

For Aristotle, however, substance as a concept is unthinkable in itself, and we can only understand it through our understanding of all the differences it contains.

Roffe has a really good example of how multiplicity problematises what otherwise seems like an “eminently sensible” way of thinking about substance. He asks, as Aristotle himself would do: “How can we know that substance is all there is?” Even with all these categories and structures, and even with our contemporary scientific understanding of atoms and particles, acknowledging them as something which fundamentally makes up everything doesn’t actually help us think about what substance is because there are other ways we can account for everything which the apparent oneness of “substance” doesn’t really express.

This is to say that, whilst “substance” is an “irreducible” category, the problem is that it’s not the only one.

Roffe asks, for example, about quantity. When I say: “here are five apples”, we can account for the apples within the framework of substance, but what about the apples’ fiveness? Quantity is just as irreducible as substance but each concept does not account for its other.

So, realising this, Aristotle pluralises substance into 10 different categories which give specific meaning and context to a given concept — quality, quantity, time, place, position, etc. etc. But, again, this is an upscaled version of his taxonomic approach whereby every category becomes knowable and thinkable only because each is defined by what it is not; by how it is not like the others.

The biggest inconsistency within this framework, Roffe explains, is how Aristotle thinks about Being.

Being isn’t like substance, nor is it a category, because it can’t be thought through its contradistinction to anything else. This is to ask: “How do we define being by what it’s not…?” The answer is that we can’t! There is no “extrinsic difference” that helps make Being thinkable.

The problem that emerges here, as Deleuze sees it, is that if, for Aristotle, difference is integral to all Being then how can difference only applied to Being as a secondary aspect?

Typically, difference is subordinated to an identity within a concept. For instance, we can talk about flying and flightless birds, but what categories can we apply to this difference-in-itself that actually have any meaningful impact on how we understand “bird” as a concept?

Deleuze writes in Difference & Repetition:

Here we find the principle which lies behind a confusion disastrous for the entire philosophy of difference: assigning a distinctive concept of difference is confused with the inscription of difference within concepts in general — the determination of the concept of difference is confused with the inscription of difference in the identity of an undetermined concept. This is the sleight of hand involved in the propitious moment (and perhaps everything else follows …)

So, the opening question of Deleuze’s thesis becomes: How do we think being through difference “in itself”?

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Hopefully we are now in a better position to begin to discuss this question and how Deleuze approaches it in the text but I also want to add a couple of things about this problem that highlight just how important this “sleight of hand” is for Deleuze’s philosophy as a whole and how he relates to other thinkers.

We might acknowledge, for example, Bergson’s influence on Deleuze at this point, as well as the influence of Spinoza. (His two books on these figures were written around the same time as Difference & Repetition.)

Difference & Repetition, then, could even be seen as Deleuze’s own attempt to extend the Bergsonian project and account for “the constitution of a logic of multiplicities”, as he calls Bergson’s project in his book Bergsonism.

Can we also think of difference and repetition as Deleuze’s attempt to rigourise what he says are the two major types of multiplicity in Bergson’s work? That is: “…the discrete or discontinuous and the continuous, the spatial and the temporal, the actual and the virtual.”

Later still, we can see the influence that this thought had on Guattari following their fateful 1968 meeting. He himself would write on the importance of a philosophy of difference and its importance for schizoanalysis in his work Schizoanalytic Cartographies, in which he describes their hybridised Platonic-Aristotlean project as an attempt to “construct a science in which dishcloths and napkins would be mixed up, along with other things that are still more different still, in which dishcloths and napkins could no longer even be encompassed under the general rubric of linen.”



If you’d like to listen to the discussion that followed this rudimentary introduction, you can sign up to the XG Discord via Patreon and catch up there. Tomorrow, we’re discussing the “Image of Thought” chapter and another (far better) introduction to that chapter will follow on the blog next week.

The Primal Wound — A New Essay for Lapsus Lima

“The Primal Wound”

A new essay from me now online at Lapsus Lima.


Many, many thanks to Tobias Ewe, Max Castle and Robin Mackay for looking over some earlier versions of this essay and giving some much appreciated tips and pointers!

I was honoured to be asked to contribute something to Lapsus Lima way back in November of last year by Mónica and it has taken me numerous false starts to finally end up with something that I’m happy with. Apologies to her for taking so long but her patience and enthusiasm have been very much appreciated!

It’s called “The Primal Wound: An Anti-Oedipal Consideration” and it’s an attempt to bring together various events and philosophies through which I’ve come to terms with — and even tried to affirm — my experiences as an adopted child.

It goes without saying that it’s a very personal essay but readers of the blog will no doubt be aware that this isn’t exactly a step outside my comfort zone. I get the impression that an open and often personal standpoint is something this blog has become known for and, frankly, that’s a very conscious choice on my part — I’ve written about why before. Showing your working and your own intellectual pathway, rather than just presenting the destination, is a mode of writing that can be effective when you’re trying to carve out a way into otherwise difficult issues — philosophical, political or otherwise — but it is, of course, not for everyone…

Undoubtedly, there are hazards when taking this kind of approach. I have been told — both critically and lovingly — that I have a regrettable tendency to comes across as narcissistic in so often centring myself within my texts. This isn’t often something I take to be a problem. It is rather something of an occupational hazard.

More to the point, I think there is a certain power that comes from this kind of narcissistic writing when it is done well. It’s a mode of writing that I admire in everyone from Georges Bataille to Maggie Nelson and it’s a register that I have always admired, always attempting to capture my own version of it as best I can when the moment presents itself.

This is done in order to leave a door open for others, leading — I hope — to a more empathic entry point to various philosophies that are often hard-nosed in their own context and, secondary to this, discussed in ways that are typically academic, with all the repressive rigidity that comes with that.

However, I would want to emphasise that autobiography is not the aim but rather the starting point, opening the “I” outwards, unfolding it and laying its flayed skin over the top of a poetics; an interscalar and even “violent” or “evil” movement — in a Bataillean sense — between the personal and impersonal. The intention is less autobiography and more autobiopsy.


I hope that this essay speaks for itself in this regard but there is one bit of context that I would like to add here on the blog because there’s a dribble of Twitter toxicity niggling at the back of my mind at the moment as I watch this thing go out into the world:

The elephant in the room here is an awareness that some seasoned blogospheric ankle-biters — one in particular, let’s not kid ourselves — take the view that my style of writing is little more than “new-age self-help” and , in hindsight, this essay has emerged as an unconscious response to this. A way of saying, “Okay then, hold my beer…”


Oftentimes I think many of us forget (or even deny within ourselves) the frequency with which people come to philosophy as a kind of last resort.

There is a cliché in those who study psychology often being those most in need of a psychotherapist and I would argue that philosophy shares a similar sort of relationship to thought — especially today, when psychoanalysis and philosophy are often seen as being (theoretically at least) so closely related.

This is not to confuse psychology and philosophy as disciplines but rather to highlight that both nonetheless share an interrogative relationship with our patchwork realities.

In my experience, philosophers and philosophy students often seem to have been through something or perhaps are living with something that weighs on them and which demands interrogation if they’re going to keep going forwards in this world. Rather than looking inwards, however, they look outwards… But we must ask how absolute this orientation really is…

(This is a point that was central to many of Mark Fisher’s writings. His declaration in The Weird and the Eerie that the “inside is a folding of the outside” is a phrase that echoes around my head perpetually and is, perhaps, the ontological manoeuvre that imbues an unspoken paradox and labyrinthine sensibility onto this blog’s unofficial tagline: “Looking for an exit.”)

(I’m also remembering somewhat fondly that the first work of philosophy I ever read was Albert Camus’s The Myth of Sisyphus and there is perhaps no better example of all this form of questioning than that.)


I was reminded of all this after recently picking up Joshua Ramey’s wonderfully strange book The Hermetic Deleuze: Philosophy and Spiritual Ordeal — unfortunately after I finished writing this essay.

In the introduction Ramey summarises his book’s position and reason for existing with a note on Deleuze’s thought that I think must be common to many but often left unacknowledged. It will be a sensation familiar to anyone, I hope, who still remembers the initial (and often prolonged) intoxication of reading philosophy — and this is an experience that is extra persistent within Deleuze’s writings in particular. It is that sensation of, at first, not understanding a word of what you’ve just read but nonetheless sensing something within it; some sort of force which escapes his writing (and which is otherwise missing from so much other impenetrable philosophy).

Commenting on this, in relation to one of Deleuze’s most often misunderstood influences, Ramey writes:

Deleuze argues that immanent thought, at the limit of cognitive capacity, discovers as-yet-unrealized potentials of the mind, and the body. That is to say, what connects Deleuze to [Antonin] Artaud is the conviction that what matters for life, and for thought, is an encounter with imperceptible forces in sensations, affections, and conceptions, and that these forces truly generate the mind, challenging the coordination of the faculties by rendering the self from its habits.

It is the argument of this book that the power of thought, for Deleuze, consists in a kind of initiatory ordeal. Such ordeal transpires through an immersion of the self in uncanny moments when a surprising and alluring complicity of nature and psyche is revealed.

Ramey’s grounding rings especially true, for me, with this new essay. If it reads like an introduction to DeleuzoGuattarian thought, that’s somewhat intentional. Speaking of initiatory ordeals, this essay conflates two of my own that I have found frequently overlapping — one deeply personal, the other intellectual.

The primal trauma of adoption is my own initiatory ordeal: a problem at the heart of my existence that has troubled me for longer than I can remember, escaping the trappings of cognitive memory and instead lurking somewhere else, somewhere impenetrable. It is an ordeal that psychotherapy has never gotten anywhere near. It is, rather, an experience that can only be accessed via philosophy and, beyond that even, a poetics.



Knole II

We went back to Knole last Sunday. This time avoiding any thunderstorms.

The blistering heat made the woods more preferable than the deer planes.

It felt a little bit Blair Witch.

It was a good place to ponder Virginia Woolf’s Selected Short Stories which I’ve been reading this week. (She spent a lot of time here.)

Of all the big fancy estates in this country — even the more Brontean ones up north — this one is the strangest. The contrast between wide open and enclosed spaces with animals frolicking everywhere you look gives it a magical spatio-time-warp vibe. No wonder Woolf liked it.