I’m getting some very strange pingbacks this week, first 4chan and now…
This old tweet on the LGBTQ+ Goldsmiths Twitter account defending the use of gulags is currently being used on Dictionary.com to help explain the meaning of the word “edgelord”, specifically in the context of people who are “cringe-inducingly fake, posting or commenting on racy content with the explicit intent of getting into an argument, or just to push someone’s buttons.”
Can’t help but think there’s a slight irony here, having been accused on edgelording on numerous occasions…
Noun. A muteness; petrification of vocal apparatuses when opened by the Outside, emphasised by its phonetic relationship to the Uttunul.
Adjective. Having the quality of an eerie, Outside silence.
Uttunul is the xenodemon that populates the syzygy of 9::0 found within the Numogram. In Linda Trent’s formulation, Uttunul is described through its phonetic relationship to the words “‘eternal’, ‘utter’ (meaning both speech and the absolute), ‘null’ (empty)”. The Guttunul, then, emphasises this relation to voice (or a lack thereof), interpreted as an eternal and absolute silence; a “seething void”.
Anatomically, the Guttunul is instantiated by any kataplectic vocal response to affective stimuli. If “Palate Tectonics” is described through an analysis “of the voice as the prolonged phylogenetic impact product of the collision between the vertical spinal-axis and the roof of the mouth”, a guttunil response is a failing of this system that results in the clamour of oesophageal trauma – a silent scream.
Kataplexy is a distinct side affect of spinal catastrophism. Case severity can range from a localised weakening of the facial muscles to complete postural collapse, often triggered by strong emotional responses such as anger or laughter. The root cause can be damage to the brain stem or, in some cases, to the orexin-secreting neurons found in the hypothalamus, inhibiting motor functions. The hypothalamus is notably a region of the brain common to all vertebrate animals. The memetic popularity of myotonic goats on YouTube reveals a particularly severe postural collapse in animals, albeit observed with humour. Given the towering bipedal nature of humans, the results of such postural collapse have the potential to be all the more catastrophic.
Due to erect posture the head has been twisted around, shattering vertebro-perceptual linearity and setting-up the phylogenetic preconditions for the face. This right-angled pneumatic-oral arrangement produces the vocal-apparatus as a crash-site, in which thoracic impulses collide with the roof of the mouth. The bipedal head becomes a virtual speech-impediment, a sub-cranial pneumatic pile-up, discharged as linguo-gestural development and cephalization take-off. Burroughs suggests that the protohuman ape was dragged through its body to expire upon its tongue. Its a twin-axial system, howls and clicks, reciprocally articulated as a vowel-consonant phonetic palette, rigidly intersegmented to repress staccato-hiss continuous variation and its attendant becomings-animal. That’s why stammerings, stutterings, vocal tics, extralingual phonetics, and electrodigital voice synthesis are so laden with biopolitical intensity – they threaten to bypass the anthropostructural head-smash that establishes our identity with logos, escaping in the direction of numbers.
The most common example of kataplexy found in humans is to be rendered “speechless”. This colloquialism, however, does not fully apprehend the complex failure of physical mechanisms when vocal apparatuses are ruptured by the Outside.
Prof. Barker’s escape in the direction of numbers was theorised through a process of Tic Xenotation. Discussed amongst the Hyperstition blog at great length (here, here, here and here), research into Tic Xenotation progressed through various phases – from TX to TX2 to TX2+ – and eventually led to an exploration of Nullified Xenotation, or 0X. (0)TX((2)(+)) sought to construct numbers through “a notation without modulus (base), place-value or numerals” – not entirely beyond language but most certainly beyond speech. The notations remain unpronounceable without creative modulation.
0X remains the most intriguing formulation of (0)TX((2)(+)) when thinking about the Guttunal. Taking lead from Prof. Barker’s formulation of Palate Tectonics and the silence of 0X, what biopolitical intensities can be drawn from muteness?
The most famous cultural illustration of the Guttunal can perhaps be found in Edvard Munch’s painting The Scream. Munch painted four versions of the painting, one of which features a poem by the artist on the back of the canvas in which he describes the “great, unending scream piercing through nature.” Whilst it may be the best known, Munch’s painting fails to fully encapsulated the biopolitical intensity of the Guttunal in its abstract nature. Philip K. Dick, in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, offers a perfect elucidation:
The painting showed a hairless, oppressed creature with a head like an inverted pear, its hands clapped in horror to its ears, its mouth open in a vast, soundless scream. Twisted ripples of the creature’s torment, echoes of its cry, flooded out into the air surrounding it; the man or woman, whichever it was, had become contained by its own howl. It had covered its ears against its own sound. The creature stood on a bridge and no one else was present; the creature screamed in isolation. Cut off by — or despite — its outcry. “He did a woodcut of this,” Rick said, reading the card tacked below the painting. “I think,” Phil Resch said, “that this is how an andy must feel.” He traced in the air the convolutions, visible in the picture, of the creature’s cry.
The Guttunal is a stifling of the scream by its own corporeal feedback loop. It is the taking over and suppression of the vocal chords; the spine; the body; life itself by the Outside as it emerges from within.
We could look also to Sarah Conner, in Terminator 2 (pictured). In one dream sequence, she can be seen running after her dead lover and the father of her child, Kyle Reese. The dream becomes a premonition as she pushes through a door and finds herself by a children’s playground. Her screams are completely silent in the seconds prior to nuclear annihilation – nature’s scream at its most destructive. A lesser abstract model still is perhaps this diagram of the parasitic relationship between a larval xenomorph to its host. We all know how this relationship ends and this too is worth remembering when considering the psychosomatic power of forced repression on the human body.
Returning to Linda Trent, she refers to the first part of Spinoza’s Ethics as “the most rigorous philosophical description of the Uttunul ever published”, likening Spinoza’s abstraction to that of Lemurianism. This is no doubt in reference to Spinoza’s conception of “God, Nature” as “a being absolutely infinite, that is, a substance consisting of an infinity of attributes, of which each one expresses an eternal or infinite essence.” In de-anthropomorphising God to a philosophical substance, Spinoza begins to describe the nature of the Outside. In orbit of this relation, the Guttunal may then represent the true inversion of logos, the Word of God as the Scream of Nature. It is a rupturing of immanence. A fractured nous, on its way to become logos, is choked on – the self-contained horror of which sustains itself indefinitely.
Verb. A process of xenophonetics: to render a word phonetically guttural.
The voice is as much a marker for the subject as the face, but it is far more open to interference from the Outside.
Processes of disenvoweling are varied, relating to the effect of the Outside on both the voice and written language. The implications are significant – for the Outside to open the written word is for it to smuggle itself into the very base of human culture; to open the voice is for it to smuggle itself into politics.
‘Voice’ is democracy itself, in its historically dominant, Rousseauistic strain. It models the state as a representation of popular will, and making oneself heard means more politics.
So much of modern politics consists of repeated disavowals. Neoliberal responsibility slips all too readily. To disenvowel has the potential to counteract such a policy. To lose your voice is a horrifying experience. It is just as violent than the other act which it is phonetically similar to. To disembowel concerns the body but to disenvowel concerns the soul. Invoke it at your peril.