Upcoming Reading Room

October 15th, 17:00

Decad, Gneisenaustr. 52, Berlin map

On Nomos

geopolitics, order, Nomos, state of emergency

Unthinkable and DECAD are pleased to invite you to join a reading group. After the readings, a short presentation will follow, focusing on the upcoming conference and workshop that will take place in National Gallery of Art and Rupert centre for art and education in Vilnius, November 5-6.

October 15, 5 pm, Unthinkable invites to read together Fredric Jameson’s “Notes on the Nomos” (2005) and Paul Virilio “The State of Emergency” (1977, published in "Speed and Politics") as an introduction to the platform’s discursive framework. Jameson’s text sheds light on the term nomos, a structure or logic of totality, which became re-vitalised by Benjamin Bratton in his "The Stack", an important figure of thought in the age of cloud-territorialized politics. The chapter by Virilio offers a retrospect to mutating geopolitical temporalities that forge current wars on and by terror as both at the same time: minutal outbursts and ceaseless condition; that enclose territorial changes from our grasp; that fill the air with information and cyber control. The question of acceleration becomes the one of expansion and pervasiveness.

Keywords

geopolitics
order
Nomos
state of emergency

Reading notes

Nomos Table A detail of table designed by Norman Foster in 1987, called Nomos.

References

October 5th, 19:00

M. Mažvydas National Library map

Benjamin H. Bratton The Stack: On Software and Sovereignty The Nomos of the Cloud

cloud, computation, stack, platform

The Stack is an interdisciplinary design brief for a new geopolitics that works with and for planetary-scale computation. Interweaving the continental, urban, and perceptual scales, it shows how we can better build, dwell within, communicate with, and govern our worlds.

In an account that is both theoretical and technical, drawing on political philosophy, architectural theory, and software studies, Bratton explores six layers of The Stack: Earth, Cloud, City, Address, Interface, User. Each is mapped on its own terms and understood as a component within the larger whole built from hard and soft systems intermingling -- not only computational forms but also social, human, and physical forces. This model, informed by the logic of the multilayered structure of protocol "stacks," in which network technologies operate within a modular and vertical order, offers a comprehensive image of our emerging infrastructure and a platform for its ongoing reinvention. Instead of general dissection of Stack as a whole, Reading room will focus specifically on the Cloud layer and some alternative designs for this particular or even better, for the next totality, the nomos to come. “Nomos”, that cannot be extracted spotlessly from Carl Schmitt’s The Nomos of the Earth and its history of the flawed geometries, refers to the dominant and essential logic to the political subdivisions of the earth and to the geopolitical order that stabilizes these subdivisions accordingly.

Benjamin H. Bratton’s work spans Philosophy, Art, Design and Computer Science. He is Professor of Visual Arts and Director of the Center for Design and Geopolitics at the University of California, San Diego. He recently founded the school's new Speculative Design undergraduate major. He is also a Professor of Digital Design at The European Graduate School and Visiting Faculty at SCI_Arc (The Southern California Institute of Architecture)

August 28th, 17:00

Konstanet, Tatari str. 64, 7th floor, Room 504 map

On Hyperstition pdf

hyperstition, concept of time, fiction, speculative realism, ccru

Unthinkable and Konstanet kindly invite you to the screening of Christopher Roth’s film called “Hyperstition”.

In collaboration with Armen Avanessian, this film unpacks the concepts of time and narrative, abduction and recursion, crossing the fields of anthropology, art, design, economy, linguistics, mathematics, and politics mapped throughout the Berlin Summer School ’14. In conversation Armen Avanessian, Elie Ayache, Ray Brassier, Iain Hamilton Grant, Helen Hester, Deneb Kozikoski, Robin Mackay, Steven Shaviro, Benedict Singleton, Nick Srnicek, Christopher Kulendran Thomas, Agatha Wara, Pete Wolfendale, and Suhail Malik are retooling the rationality, philosophy and political theory for the 21st Century.

Hyperstition was instigated through workings of the Cybernetic Culture Research Unit, active in 90’s and first decade of the new millennium. The term is supposedly coined by Peter Vysparov in correspondence with Echidna Stillwell in 1949, as a device, a self-realising model, where invention becomes a fact —
all anticipations and potentials are immediately effective. Cybernetic Culture Research Unit, that itself is a hyperstitional carrier, had swarmed and populated the future by hatching the systematic mutation of global cybernetic culture. CCRU held fiction not oppositional to reality. The entities must and are manufacturing realities for themselves — realities, whose potency often depends upon the stupefaction, subjugation and enslavement of populations, and whose existence is in conflict with other ‘reality programs’. There scratches through the inhuman approach of Landian accelerationism.

Keywords

hyperstition
concept of time
fiction
speculative realism
ccru

Reading notes

A SHORT PREHISTORY OF CCRU
The question of ‘the’ history of the CcruFull outline can be found here is problematic, not least because Ccru activity is characterised by its antagonism towards stable temporality. It’s the business of the great sedentary assemblages to establish settled lineages and well-ordered sequences, whereas Ccru-process attaches itself to coincidences, glitches and unforeseen consequences – breaks, twists and bends in time.

In Chronos, or conventional linear time, Ccru begins as the Cybernetic Culture Research Unit at the University of Warwick, in K0 +95. But in Chronos, Ccru has never existed. An official statement from the Ccru’s former institutional base had it that, “Ccru does not, has not and will never exist.” You could say that the university phase of Ccru’s activity was dedicated to its escape from its status as an institutional non-entity. A series of events, including Virtual Futures: Datableed and Afro-Futures in K0 +96, and Virotechnics in K0 +97, and the emergence of the swarm-journal Abstract Culture, functioned as provisional escape-hatches, portals connecting Ccru to the outside of the university where its own future lay. By the time of this year’s Syzygy, the event for which Digital Hyperstition was the accompanying publication, the Ccru’s institutional history was over before it had begun, and Ccru was well on the way to transforming itself into a rumour mill, an agency of cyber-hype.

HYPERSTITIONCybernetic Culture Research Unit:
1. Element of effective culture that makes itself real.
2. Fictional quantity functional as a time-traveling device.
3. Coincidence intensifier.
4. Call to the Old Ones.

POLYTICS
The Elements of HyperstitionPolytics, The Elements of Hyperstition
Whatever its specific variants, the practice of hyperstition necessarily involves three irreducible ingredients, interlocked in a productive circuit of simultaneous, mutually stimulating tasks.

Numogram Rigorous systematic unfolding of the Decimal Labyrinth and all its implexes and echoes. The methodical excavation of the occult abstract cartography intrinsic to decimal numeracy constitutes the first great task of hyperstition.

Mythos Comprehensive attribution of all signal (discoveries, theories, problems and approaches) to artificial agencies, allegiances, cultures and continentities.
The proliferation of ‘carriers’ (“Who says this?”) – multiplying perspectives and narrative fragments – produces a coherent but inherently disintegrated hyperstitional mythos while effecting a positive destruction of identity, authority and credibility.

Unbelief Pragmatic skepticism or constructive escape from integrated thinking and all its forms of imposed unity (religious dogma, political ideology, scientific law, common sense …). Each vortical sub-cycle of hyperstitional production announces itself through a communion with ‘the Thing’ coinciding with a “mystical consummation of uncertainty” or “attainment of positive unbelief.”

CORRESPONDENCE BETWEEN PETER VYSPAROV AND ECHIDNA STILWELL
Vysparov: We are interested in fiction only insofar as it is simultaneously hyperstition – a term we have coined for semiotic productions that make themselves real – cryptic communications from the Old Ones, signaling return: shleth hud dopesh. This is the ambivalence – or loop – of Cthulhu- fiction: who writes, and who is written? It seems to us that the fabled Necronomicon – sorcerous counter-text to the Book of Life – is of this kind, and furthermore, that your recovery of the Lemurodigital Pandemonium Matrix accesses it at its hypersource. …

Stillwell: Hyperstition strikes me as a most intriguing coinage. We thought we were making it up, but all the time the Nma were telling us what to write – and through them …

LEMURIAN TIME WARLemurian Time War
Diagrams, maps, sets of abstract relations, tactical gambits, are as real in a fiction about a fiction about a fiction as they are encountered raw, but subjecting such semiotic contraband to multiple embeddings allows a traffic in materials for decoding dominant reality that would otherwise be proscribed. Rather than acting as transcendental screens, blocking out contact between itself and the world, the fiction acts as a Chinese box a container for sorcerous interventions in the world. The frame is both used (for concealment) and broken (the fictions potentiate changes in reality).

HYPERSTITIONAL CARRIERS
Elements of Hyperstition: Principle 2.Originally posted by Anna Greenspan at 07:10 AM, July 26, 2004 in Hyperstition Archive

Comprehensive attribution of all signal (discoveries, theories, problems and approaches) to artificial agencies, allegiances, cultures and continentities. The proliferation of ‘carriers’ (“Who says this?”) – multiplying perspectives and narrative fragments – produces a coherent but inherently disintegrated hyperstitional mythos while effecting a positive destruction of identity, authority and credibility.
Why does hyperstition use carriers, avatars or puppets?
At one level carriers tag collective production, especially where the product is something different from (and surprising to) the particular people that happen to be involved in the production process. In this way hyperstitional carriers mark true discoveries (Prof. Barker’s theory of geotraumatics).
Even more importantly hyperstitional puppets populate thought. This is how the practice of hyperstition operates to ‘effect a positive destruction of identity.’ Hyperstition puppets allow ‘you’ to think things that ‘you’ don’t agree with –- to follow a line to places that ‘you’ wouldn’t necessarily want to go. (Asking, for example, what does Max Crabbe think of all this?)
This seems quite different from the way avatars are generally used on the Internet (and how the whole issue was theorized in 1990’s cyberculture). Internet avatars usually function to hide identity — in the worst cases this is done in order to express deep inner truths and desires (sex chats) – thereby reinforcing a totally molar identity.
Hyperstition’s artificial agencies hide identity only as a side effect. This does not seem to be particularly important — except as a laugh. Everyone knows, for example, that it was Castaneda who ‘discovered’ Don Juan. Instead, hyperstitional puppets work to produce something new. ‘We have been aided, inspired, multiplied’.

CYBERGOTHIC REMIX
Excerpt from Benjamin Noys
“Malign Velocities: Accelerationism and Capitalism”

The splicing of these two moments, and the real instance of full-blown cyberpunk phuturism in explicit accelerationist form, can be found in the 1990s work of Nick Land and his allies in the Cybernetic Culture Research Unit (CCRU). This ‘nomad’ (anti-) academic grouping, formed at Warwick University in 1995, couched its ‘disjunctive synthesis’ of the drives of sci-fi and techno through the work of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, especially their Anti-Oedipus (1972). The aim was to format an avant-garde practice that would explode the limits of 1990s inertia.
The ‘rush’ of this cyberpunk phuturism operated through a new radicalization of acceleration. Vectored through cyberpunk fiction and the post-rave speed-up of Jungle and drum-and-bass, Nick Land and the CCRU’s discourse aimed at maximum intensification into immanence until ‘impending human extinction becomes accessible as a dance floor’. The mass drug experimentation of rave culture was also spliced into this mutagenic remix. It aimed at immersion in immanence that had been, according to Nick Land, already realized in the then- future of 2012 (!). In case of present scepticism we should note Land’s prediction is hyperstitional – a kind of performative fiction, which creates the future it predicts – and that his theorization (according to Land) disrupts linear, chronological time. In the present moment we only have traces of that future – drugs, sci-fi, Jungle, theory, biotech – that prefigures the meltdown to come: ‘as if a tendril of tomorrow were burrowing back.’

The problem of capitalism as anti-market, especially financialized capitalism, was that it was speculative, opaque and exceptional. Land mutates this argument to identify markets with monstrously powerful cybernetic forces, which are ‘speculative, opaque and exceptional’. It is these forces of exchange that can resist the stagnations of capitalism. A purified capitalism, shedding the dictates of the State, would traverse to a pure market accelerated out of capitalism altogether.

References

July 28th, 19:00

C1 Malūnų 3, VDA map

Attila Melegh On the East-West Slope: 1.2. Liberal Utopia versus Orientalism and Coloniality pdf

liberal humanitarian utopia, globalisation, nationalism, Ideologies, identity

Attila Melegh, sociologist, economist, historian by training, a lecturer at Corvinus University, Budapest and a senior researcher at Demographic Research Institute. Beside discourse analysis he also does research on sociological and historical aspects of globalization and international migration.

Melegh's work offers a powerful analysis of the sociological and symbolic meanings of East-West in Europe after the end of the Cold War. Melegh exposes the underbelly of liberal characterizations of East-West, highlighting the polarizing effect of extreme nationalism and ethnic racism.


The theoretical underpinnings of this work involve the ideas of preeminent theorists such as Karl Mannheim, Michel Foucault and more recent ones like Maria Todorova and Iver Neumann.
The importance of this work lies in its ability to cast into fine relief how the East-West Slope oriented negatively from West to East has emerged from liberal characterizations of this project. In addition this is one of the first attempts to link postcolonial analysis to developments in Eastern Europe.

Moderator: Adomas Narkevičius

Regarding any questions about the text or Reading Room in general please contact: readingroom@unthinkable.site

Keywords

liberal humanitarian utopia
globalisation
nationalism
Ideologies
identity

Reading notes

EAST WEST SLOPE
Attila Melegh explains his main influencesVideo recording of keynote speech by Attila Melegh, Institute of International Relations Prague,1:26:21, 2014 of his bookMelegh, Attila (2006). On the East/West Slope. Globalization, Nationalism, Racism and Discourses on Central and Eastern Europe. Budapest, CEU Press.
Full book for downloadE/W Slope
and particular field researches that extend the ongoing topic of Unthinkable Reading Room, i.e. the East and West binary.

References

June 30th, 19:00

C1 Malūnų 3, VDA map

Tomasz Zarycki Ideologies of Eastness in Central & Eastern Europe: The Dependence Doxa

Eastness, Ideologies, Universalism, Modernity, hegemony

We will collectively delve into the third chapter of Tomasz Zarycki’s “The Ideologies of Eastness”, introducing the notion of “dependence”, which refers to the naturalization and relative invisibility of this relation in Central and Eastern Europe from the Western core. This part of the book argues that despite the economic dimension of Western hegemony remains the key element of dependence, it is the cultural and partly political which are more vividly debated. This results in what is called a “cultural reductionism” of the critical discourses related to problems of Central and Eastern Europe may be linked to mechanisms of symbolic violence.

Tomasz Zarycki is a sociologist and social geographer, Associate Professor and Director of Institute for Social Studies in University of Warsaw, specializing in critical sociology and discourse analysis with particular focus on Polish and Eastern European societies. His book “Ideologies of Eastness” particularly explores how the countries of Eastern Europe since the end of communist rule, developed a new ideology of their place in the world. Drawing on post-colonial theory and on identity discourses the book shows how agents in these countries no longer think of themselves as part of the “east”, how they have invented new stereotypes and how such ideologies impact in a practical way on relations with countries further east.

Moderators: Monika Janulevičiūtė and Adomas Narkevičius

Registration is needed: readingroom@unthinkable.site

Keywords

Eastness
Ideologies
Universalism
Modernity
hegemony

Reading notes

Throughout the third chapter specific points, a patchwork of theories appear, that can be seen as an open list of symptoms or/and features of the dependence.

UNIVERSAL TIME AND FRACTURED LOCAL HISTORICAL TIME
Western world imposes that universalism fits all and particular historical experiences form a linear history of progress. Historical legacies might be perceived as pure inertia, which actually is myth, their reproduction is structural, enforced and systemic. Three key absences or incomplete transitions of country’s history are revolutions of peasants, bourgeoisie and proletariat. Power is achieved by introducing modern concepts of civil society, as standard universal social, economic logic. Alternative sovereignties, village-nation, blood or marriage unions of pre-modern society would not have been subjugated if they weren’t forming a grounding or counterimage for universalism.

POWER RELATIONS OF CENTER-PERIPHERY
The center-periphery forms as an international dynamic, which can extend or contract to interregional, subtle and smaller scale dependencies. Power over Hierarchy of Knowledge and peripheral hierarchies of knowledge. The gradient of Eastness. Symbolic power is a power of constructing reality, of the dominant ideology. Field of power Theoretical concept of P. Bourdieu together with his notion of capital is used throughout the whole book is the key arena where the battle over the legitimate vision of the world is taking place.

POSTCOLONIAL THEORIES’ ADAPTATION
Subaltern cannot speak. Western theoretical models as tools of symbolic violence having a connection with overall underfinancing of knowledge production, i.e. academia, media, publishing; subaltern POVs are unoriginal, imitative, not worth hearing, outdated, links to the past appear to be not as much historical as ethnographic. Naturalization of inferiority, natives of periphery are prisoners or their mode of thought, fear of forever being marginal. Psychology as a tool of governance. Clientele relations More broadly on p. 39, quote by Janos, 2001: 247

EU APPARATUS
In the terminology of Deleuze and Guattari the EU functions as an enclosed, striated space that over-codes flows of people, capital and commodities at the European level. Legitimizing power over rules of exclusion and inclusion. The paradox of EU as multicultural community, but Ukraine and Belarus seem as too multi-cultural to make clear pro-EU choice. Invisible power which can be exercised only with the complicity of those who do not want to know that they are subject to it or even that they themselves exercise it.

Private enterprises as catalysts of westernization; western corporations as major carriers of civilizational competence; islands of modernity. Engine of expertise reproduction based on orientalising vehicle. modern dominant ideal, by Chakrabarty, capitalism, based on the values of secularized Calvinism.

CULTURE
as compensatory asset for CEE nations, also primary source of legitimization. WE assets are economic and politic, that makes culture of WE largely immune to deconstruction. Origins of Backwardness cultural lagging behind. Existence of a global, or at least dominant Western uniform field of cultural production, in which common sense images of particular countries and their histories are produced. Asymmetric Ignorance

AESTHETIC DEPENDENCE ON REGIONS
Western (imitation) references, the urge to use of the specific variety of prerequisites. Whereas, the nordic (easier to achieve) means purity, simpleness and is universally perceived as democratic look. But with the down-side of minimalism reflects the whiteness, the puristic almost eugenic nationalism. Slavic-East generally is perceived as just kitsch and bad taste.

References