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It belongs in the clawed embrace of the undead amphetamine god.
January 27, 2014 2:22 PM   Subscribe


 
From the Dark Shadows Enlightenment link:

It is essentially the realization that men are not equal. It is a reactionary movement against the progressivist ideology that dominates the Cathedral (ie. the elites) and is based on the untrue assumption of the equality of man.

I think that most political progressives work towards equality before the law, not absolute equality, which seems chimerical.
posted by goethean at 2:39 PM on January 27 [3 favorites]


Very interesting post! Thanks!

After reading the first link, I have to say the narrative almost has a Zen & The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance feel to it.
posted by stinkfoot at 2:47 PM on January 27


God, that "Dark Enlightenment" page. Academically-glossed "racialism" meets MRA meets Right Wing Christianity. Or, for short, there's a link to John C. Wright on the sidebar.
posted by infinitywaltz at 2:58 PM on January 27 [1 favorite]


I personally think Land is a loon and not a very interesting one, but Fisher's got a great take on why he's still potentially worth thinking about on account of his structural position:
Land’s withering assaults on the academic left - or the embourgeoisified state-subsidised grumbling that so often calls itself academic Marxism – remain trenchant. The unwritten rule of these “careerist sandbaggers” is that no one seriously expects any renunciation of bourgeois subjectivity to ever happen. Pass the Merlot, I’ve got a career’s worth of quibbling critique to get through. So we see a ruthless protection of petit bourgeois interests dressed up as politics. Papers about antagonism, then all off to the pub afterwards. Instead of this, Land took earnestly—to the point of psychosis and auto-induced schizophrenia—the Spinozist-Nietzschean-Marxist injunction that a theory should not be taken seriously if it remains at the level of representation. [...] Land is the kind of antagonist that the left needs.
I mean, I can agree with this inasmuch as Land's brand of unapologetic, zealous right-wing futurism strikes me as a lot more honest than many of the sunnier, superficially more egalitarian alternatives in the techno-utopian camp; but the downside is that the pose of cool politicality is just as fake, just as much about style and not substance, in Land's case as in the left version that Fisher rightly excoriates, but Fisher doesn't want to treat it as such. "At the level of representation" is just where it remained, in Land's case too; a few books and a few conferences and a weird corner of the blog world is all the "Dark Enlightenment" is ever going to produce (thank goodness). There's no reason why the Bataille/Deleuze/Lovecraft pose of being the fervent emissary of the stark, posthuman future should be taken more seriously, as a bold political intervention or whatever, than the more familiar lefty form of faux-revolutionary posturing.
posted by RogerB at 2:58 PM on January 27 [5 favorites]


Going to have to add this to the reading pile.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 3:03 PM on January 27


This has been discussed before, but I still don't believe that the Nick Land described in the first link and in the Mark Fisher piece, is the same Nick Land who wrote the "Dark Enlightenment" piece. Unless I'm missing something, none of the links actually refers unambiguously to both bodies of work as being by the same person. The writing style and range of reference in each just seems too different to me. Is there any convincing reason to believe they are the same person?
posted by demonic winged headgear at 3:03 PM on January 27 [1 favorite]


D.W. Headgear, from the Mackay piece (but maybe still ambiguously):

When I contacted Land about the republication of his works, he did not protest, but had nothing to add: It’s another life; I have nothing to say about it – I don’t even remember writing half of those things ... I don’t want to get into retrospectively condemning my ancient work – I think it’s best to gently back off. It belongs in the clawed embrace of the undead amphetamine god.
posted by stinkfoot at 3:06 PM on January 27 [1 favorite]


I forget what dark path I went down, but after following a link trail from the first post I did find that the two Nick Lands were the same.

Also Stitcherbeast found these pictures, although that second website is cryptic enough that I still can't be sure what Land it is referring to.
posted by tofu_crouton at 3:08 PM on January 27


My advice to you, sir, is to do what Wittgenstein told his students to do: get a job as a dock worker
posted by thelonius at 3:10 PM on January 27 [2 favorites]


I hope we get the same crazypants people in this thread as in the last one. That was great.
posted by Justinian at 3:12 PM on January 27 [13 favorites]


Esoteric theorists like Julius Evola- or for that matter, Antonio Negri (who wrote about Empires and how the current order is not unlike a monarchy!)- may have a lot of self-professing readers who continuously paste the same excerpts and quotes, but they are unlikely to be the ones to shape a movement. If neoreaction, or whatever, was to ever get off the internet, it would not be whatever the hell Land thinks it is, or Mencius Moldbug's "neocameralism", but rather something a lot less highbrow, and a lot more vulgar- and simple (The second style, not the first).
posted by Apocryphon at 3:16 PM on January 27


I've never quite figured out why it is that someone like this gets lauded for evidently being so insightful about something-or-other when if the person spewing it did not have a position teaching philosophy, everybody would have just assumed that they were probably on drugs, or possibly having a psychotic episode of some variety, or both. He doesn't seem to have gotten more or less coherent, and the author of the first piece isn't sounding terribly coherent, either. I realize all fields have jargon, but at the end there's something about how nobody's proven Nick Land wrong--okay, what falsifiable claims did Nick Land actually make? The failure to be coherent enough to be proven wrong does not make one right, much less brilliant.
posted by Sequence at 3:21 PM on January 27 [5 favorites]


Yes, you see the links don't actually make the connection tightly enough for me. (I'm not trying to be difficult! They could be the same person after all.) There is reference to some sort of mental break, but not specifically to anything about the whole reactionary, racial-realist turn that is implied. It's a lot of cognitive dissonance for me to accept -- briefly, because the Thirst For Annihilation-related stuff sounds like it was written by an eccentric, but still very intelligent person, and the 'Neoreactionary' stuff sounds like it was written by a quite stupid person, who also lacks the wide range of reading evident in the former works.
posted by demonic winged headgear at 3:22 PM on January 27 [1 favorite]


The failure to be coherent enough to be proven wrong does not make one right, much less brilliant.
posted by Sequence at 6:21 PM on January 27

Cf. Gene Ray's Timecube
posted by stinkfoot at 3:28 PM on January 27


The failure to be coherent enough to be proven wrong does not make one right, much less brilliant.

Having just read the NY Times article by Amy Chua and Jeb Rubenfeld, I have to agree.
posted by fatbird at 3:31 PM on January 27 [1 favorite]


It's kind of astonishing to me that these people who pride themselves on seeing through the obfuscation of popular thought on the nature of social reality are so unwilling to acknowledge the immense role of economic interest in power. Although that stops being interesting when you realize that Moldbug's punchline to the whole bullshit Enlightenment shtick is that the US should formally become a corporation.
posted by clockzero at 3:32 PM on January 27


Nick Land the continental philosopher sounds pretty insane. Insightful, maybe, but not quite fully hanging on to reality. Nick Land the neoreactionary political philosopher sounds like he's caught a bad case of a capital-I Ideology, but with a positive death-grip on reality. Which is to say that it's an unusual move for someone to make, but I can certainly understand his psychological motivation.

By the way it takes a bit of reading but eventually you come to this brutal assessment of reactionaries as actually existing within the 'reactosphere' (sic):
Most of all, just beyond the horizon, there’s the black hole. If reaction ever became a popular movement, its few slender threads of bourgeois (or perhaps dreamily ‘aristocratic’) civility wouldn’t hold back the beast for long.
He's referring, of course, to the undercurrents of vicious racism and anti-Semitism.
posted by topynate at 3:42 PM on January 27


the 'Neoreactionary' stuff sounds like it was written by a quite stupid person, who also lacks the wide range of reading

Are you sure you're thinking of the Dark Enlightenment piece that's actually by Land himself and not the wider-ranging blogstuff of the other affiliates of the movement/cult/whatever? The range of reference there is certainly pretty compatible even if the style differs somewhat from the overtly Bataillean. It's true that the rest of the DE trading-card set are mostly working at a notably lower/narrower level of literacy, but that piece sounds pretty Landian to me:
For the hardcore neo-reactionaries, democracy is not merely doomed, it is doom itself. Fleeing it approaches an ultimate imperative. The subterranean current that propels such anti-politics is recognizably Hobbesian, a coherent dark enlightenment, devoid from its beginning of any Rousseauistic enthusiasm for popular expression. Predisposed, in any case, to perceive the politically awakened masses as a howling irrational mob, it conceives the dynamics of democratization as fundamentally degenerative: systematically consolidating and exacerbating private vices, resentments, and deficiencies until they reach the level of collective criminality and comprehensive social corruption. The democratic politician and the electorate are bound together by a circuit of reciprocal incitement, in which each side drives the other to ever more shameless extremities of hooting, prancing cannibalism, until the only alternative to shouting is being eaten.

Where the progressive enlightenment sees political ideals, the dark enlightenment sees appetites.
posted by RogerB at 3:43 PM on January 27


Moldbug can't possibly be the guy's real name, can it?
posted by infinitywaltz at 4:13 PM on January 27


Amy Chua and Nick Land need to meet, fall in [mutual self-interest], and create a brood of evil Tiger Neocon changelings.
posted by benzenedream at 4:15 PM on January 27 [1 favorite]


Over 4000 words.

Why use a gatling gun when a derringer would do?
posted by Twang at 4:18 PM on January 27


Sure. From the Dark Enlightenment piece by (one) Nick Land:

Regardless of mainstream conservative fantasies, liberal-progressive mastery of American providence has become uncontestable, dominated by a racial dialectic that absorbs unlimited contradiction, whilst positioning the Afro-American underclass as the incarnate critique of the existing social order, the criterion of emancipation, and the sole path to collective salvation. No alternative structure of historical intelligibility is politically tolerable, or even – strictly speaking – imaginable, since resistance to the narrative is un-American, anti-social, and (of course) racist, serving only to confirm the existence of systematic racial oppression through the symbolic violence manifested in its negation.

Now, this uses some intelligent-sounding 'academic' terms like "dialectic", "symbolic violence", etc. But the idea that he's putting out here is incredibly stupid. The other Land, the one who wrote Thirst for Annihiliation, writes in a way that is obviously steeped in Kant, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Bataille, etc. While his ideas are quirky, in the sense of having some perhaps non-mainstream interpretations of those thinkers, there is just not the same WTF, obviously-disconnected-from-reality factor. One gets the sense that the latter Land at least has the ability to read what is in front of him, even if one does not go in for his sort of continental philosophy stylings.
posted by demonic winged headgear at 4:48 PM on January 27


Why isn't Mein Kampf on that reading list? At least that book presents the ideology in a comprehensible style.
posted by bukvich at 5:04 PM on January 27 [3 favorites]


demonic winged headgear: It's obviously not going to sound like continental philosophy when it's at the level of concrete politics. When he's discussing dialectic itself the effect is different:
The sublimation (Aufhebung) of Marxism into Leninism is an eventuality that is best grasped crudely. By forging a revolutionary communist politics of broad application, almost entirely divorced from the mature material conditions or advanced social contradictions that had been previously anticipated, Lenin demonstrated that dialectical tension coincided, exhaustively, with its politicization (and that all reference to a ‘dialectics of nature’ is no more than retrospective subordination of the scientific domain to a political model). Dialectics are as real as they are made to be.

The dialectic begins with political agitation, and extends no further than its practical, antagonistic, factional and coalitional ‘logic’. It is the ‘superstructure’ for itself, or against natural limitation, practically appropriating the political sphere in its broadest graspable extension as a platform for social domination. Everywhere that there is argument, there is an unresolved opportunity to rule.
And so on. He's writing like a Through the Looking Glass Marxian historian. I was skeptical that it was the same guy as well, but it sort of snapped into focus for me when I realized that the "Bionic Horizon" conclusion to his reactionary series - a conclusion I find deeply chilling - is the counterpart to his almost neo-Futurist demand in the quote from "Machinic Desires" in the Mark Fisher piece:
Machinic revolution must therefore go in the opposite direction to socialistic regulation pressing towards ever more uninhibited marketization of the pro­cesses that are tearing down the social field, “still further” with “the movement of the market, of decoding and deterritorialization” and “one can never go far enough in the direction of deterritori­alization: you haven’t seen anything yet.”
posted by topynate at 5:10 PM on January 27 [2 favorites]


Esoteric theorists like Julius Evola

I was just thinking that this whole "Dark Enlightenment" thing was a lot like Evola, only without the occultism that made Evola interesting.
posted by infinitywaltz at 6:48 PM on January 27 [2 favorites]


demonic winged headgear, I'm not sure what level of proof you're asking for. His past and present colleagues and fans recognize Nick Land as being, well, Nick Land. As you follow Land's life story and blogs, the continuity is quite clear. If some massive hoax were being perpetrated on everyone who has either read him or known him personally, you'd think somebody would have noticed by now.

See how the Dark Ecologies blog has followed Nick Land for quite a while.
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:49 PM on January 27 [1 favorite]


See how the Dark Ecologies blog has followed Nick Land for quite a while.

Now I'm afraid everything philosophical that has "dark" in the title is going to be some weird paleoconservative/neofascist crap. The Dark Ecologies blog seems cool, however.
posted by infinitywaltz at 7:09 PM on January 27 [1 favorite]


Bring back the Dark Enlightenment Doge! The Weather Doge was not enough for one day!
posted by chortly at 7:44 PM on January 27


I was just thinking that this whole "Dark Enlightenment" thing was a lot like Evola, only without the occultism that made Evola interesting.

They're mostly Thomas Carlyle fetishists.

Now I'm afraid everything philosophical that has "dark" in the title is going to be some weird paleoconservative/neofascist crap. The Dark Ecologies blog seems cool, however.

They're ultra-regressives. Their embrace of "Dark" as an adjective is just trying to seem cool and ironic and detached, because their ideals are just 'sooooo un-PC mang, you should read my blog about it befur the feminarchy shuts it down" and they want to look like intellectual goths. Though given how some of them cry so much about Western Civilization, there are emos among them. No juggalos, though.
posted by Apocryphon at 7:48 PM on January 27 [3 favorites]


they want to look like intellectual goths.

I am offended as an intellectual and as a goth. And if we're going to go there, this stuff wasn't even all that funny 25 years ago when Boyd Rice and Death in June were doing it. Much less so now.
posted by infinitywaltz at 8:07 PM on January 27 [3 favorites]


Words cannot express how much I'd rather have a mai tai with Boyd Rice than have a conversation with a self-described neoreactionary.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:13 PM on January 27 [3 favorites]


She said, "Destroy!" in black ... New York
posted by adipocere at 8:19 PM on January 27 [1 favorite]


Dark Theory
posted by homunculus at 12:21 AM on January 28


That last thread was weird I'm glad we're more **happy campers** in this one.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 3:18 AM on January 28 [6 favorites]


~chuckle~
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:30 AM on January 28


I'm sort of surprised by the skepticism that this is the same guy, I thought his style was pretty consistent. I originally found out about the whole neoreaction thing by following the link to Land's That's Shanghai blog from Robin Mackay's article linked above. That led me to this post linking to his current blog.
posted by klint at 8:42 AM on January 28


Scrap note #1
The Dark Enlightenment needs to keep its message to the mainsream ‘right’  as simple as possible, because it is dealing with people who have let chronic dishonesty lay waste to their powers of organized cognition. The point I would most like to see addressed is this: “Over two centuries of historical experience strongly suggest that you only exist to facilitate the triumph of the Left, have you any response to that?
posted by Golden Eternity at 10:31 AM on January 28


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