Dark Life under Catastrophe, Vicenzo di Mino

photo credit Teodora Cosma

Photo credit Teodora Cosman


                                                                                                      ‘Don’t hold me back/

                                                                                                                                        This is my own hell’

                                                                                                                                        (Godflesh, Christbait Rising)

The most important philosophies of history, in modern or contemporary times, have incorporated the catastrophe, necessary negativity inherent in the ideal development of the World and the Reason, as a polarity to be subsumed and then overcome. In all these discourses, catastrophe is however considered as a momentary transformation, determined by subjective, objective or ‘natural’ adverse forces, and therefore as a test of subjectivity itself, in its heroic and rational version, as a measure of the will to act for a higher, naturally benign necessity, and even more interested in the survival of the world, and in the perpetration of its own enlightened wisdom. Within these theoretical grids, which model the study of historical archives, humanistic texts and scientific formulations, the phenomena of aggressiveness and destructiveness, present both in natural biological organisms and in the products of human experimentation, have been destined to a cone of shadow, a sort of unquestionable scientific and social curse, a darkening in the name of objectivity. Mainly, all these stigmas have been produced to make governable what is considered irrational, including the difficult socialization among humans, to avoid the possibility of revolts and insurrections, and to make calculable and predictable the possible mutations.  The Weberian ‘Iron cage’, while showing the limits of the complete rationalization of the living, has illuminated, metaphorically and materially, the desperate set of phenomena worthy of being inscribed in the registers of historical narratives, condemning to oblivion the proliferation of events and products not immediately referable to the canons of knowledge. The technological acceleration, and the environmental transformations that daily involve the lives of thousands of men and women, however, have questioned the entire scientific system of Western episteme. The main reasons for the further Krisis of Scientia Rationalis are now common sense: automation of production, enhancement of artificial and machinic intelligence, massive investment in biotechnology, wild experiments on the environment to contain the climate threat. And then, from a purely theoretical point of view, the questioning of human rationality as the only ‘thinking’ entity, and the attempt to subrogate it, for economic purposes, in computer systems. And this with regard to a brief description of technological transformations. Climate and environmental change, from a political point of view, reinforces the eugenic race to the salvation of the ‘Chosen One’ on a racial and national basis, increasing discrimination against minorities and cultural and social dissidence, clearly showing the State as a machine of affective capture and psycho-technical neutralization, as a paranoid inversion of the desiring flows turned, by sovereign means, against the different and the alterity, both materially and ideally constructed. What liberal and democratic thought denounces as problematic and obscure, again, in line with the episteme of modernity, is nothing more than a product of the democratic mechanisms themselves, a new political machine of consensus, which embodies the extreme results of legal rationality, and expresses itself in the search for an authentic origin that legitimizes its salvation in the world, and why not, the forced survival of its species in the entire universe. How to escape the Gordian knot that ties the radical imagination with the very possibility of living? It is necessary to develop a minor discourse, therefore irreducible to the major categories of thought, exploring the flight lines which, like poisonous mushrooms, grow in the deep darkness of the world, and, by virtue of their forced invisibility, escape the archaic certifications of origin, that theories and the market of authenticity demand from them. It is necessary to develop a minor discourse, therefore irreducible to the majority categories of thought, exploring the escape lines which, like poisonous mushrooms, grow in the deep darkness of the world, and benefit of their forcible invisibility to escape archaic certifications of origin.

Timothy Morton’s thinking provides the tools for the establishment of a living ecology that goes beyond the categories of nature, as a set of weird assemblages that reject both the principle of generation-the Greek archè– and the imposition of reality as the only phenomenal horizon of reference. In this sense, weird ecology materializes all the removed and excluded from the dichotomy between nature and culture. The theoretical operation in the first instance takes the form of an ‘ecomimesis’, a writing that crystallizes the vast and connected set of processes that live within the concept of ‘nature’, and gives form to the simulacra elements that reject their original matrix. Ecomimesis manifests itself as aesthetic gesture, which tries to translate the different environmental voices into its own language, so as to return back the intensity of the material sensation generated by contact with the elements. Also, ecomimesis is a powerful Dionysian operation, rhapsodic and anamorphic at the same time, which allows the speaker to fully immerse himself in the darkness: this experience is, primarily, the experience of estrangement in a heteropic Space. Thus, the aesthetic gesture is also a pedagogy of dialogue with the Other that is inaccessible and external, but materially existing[1]. In this sense, ecological knowledge is, for the author, a rhizomatic knowledge, which proceeds by associations and concatenations, an experience, with Merleau Ponty, ‘chiasmatic’, between the sensitivity of the speaker and the environment. Therefore, Nature is only knowable in its own factuality, because it exists independently of the human gaze. The chaotic and surrealist text that is Nature for Morton clearly breaks with the constructions of European and Western political modernity, which place Man as an actor and nature as a space of appropriation, division and production for the sustenance of his needs, translating ‘natural’ as the necessary contractual origin of the great political Moloch that is the State, in its conservative (Hobbes) or democratic (Rousseau) variants. The original dualism that opposes ferocity, or goodness (it depends on the point of view!) to the environment, and considers the environment as the surface of inscription of rational techniques and capitalist flow channelling machines, is the basis of the dividing ontology between human and non-human. In Morton’s words, the dualistic foundation is an expression of the ‘agrilogistic’ logic backdated to the Neolithic, at the origin of the sedentary community, that stabilized their strength by capturing and eliminating everything on the outside. In particular, the ‘agrilogistic’ machine is at the foundation of the divisions of religious and political systems, because it operates through the channelling of power and charisma present in every society in a vertical sense, through the creation of visible hierarchies capable of administering both spiritual and material well-being. Finally, to strengthen its domain, this device produces a supplement of paranoia to polarize the moods in the absolute tension of conquest and defence of its vital space[2]. Agrilogistic does not operate differently from the mechanisms of the original accumulation illustrated by Karl Marx, through forced predation, theft, the erection of barriers and boundaries, the separation of the other, or from the ‘arche-litic’ of modern metaphysics, the substitution of the difference with the blind obedience to a higher principle- cogito or monotheism- anyway paranoid variants of the ontogenesis of civilization, in search of a permanent stability. But, starting from the chiasmatic and excessive vision of the environmental experience, as opposed to complete logical knowability (translation of the full political domination that civilization demands), Morton focuses on the enunciation of a knowledge of the darkness that he calls ‘eco-gnosis’, an unlimited knowledge that proceeds like a loop loop, that tries to grasp the randomness of the Fate and is thus exposed to the attractive force of the weird as true manifestations of strangeness that inhabits the hidden heart of the agrilogistic.  The aesthetic experience, as will to know, is transformed into an ethic of dark ecology:

‘Dark ecology traces the ecological crisis to a logistical ‘program that has been running unquestioned since the Neolithic. Dark Ecology argues that ecological reality requires an awareness that at first has the characteristics of tragic melancholy and negativity, concerning inextricable coexistence with a host of entities that surround and penetrate us, but which evolves paradoxically into an anarchic, comedic sense of coexistence’[3]

The ethic of darkness, according to the author, allows to understand the environment as a whole, to break down the barriers of separation, and to prepare the space for the emergency of all entities hitherto excluded. Thus, the dualistic logic of agrilogistic is dislocated on a plane of immanence and intensive concatenation with all the invisible elements, radically questioning the narration of natural origin as the cause and ultimate principle of life, in all its different declinations. Weird ecology, in essence, attacks the principle of reason and objectivity, and the opposition between cogito and existence. reversing the search for origin into the search for an alien, distant, unperceivable and thus imaginable principle. A first support to this operation is given by Morton himself, who uses the Derridian concept of ‘archi-writing’, a type of writing that, starting from a given fact, creates the conditions of possibility for existence by inscribing it in a specific trace. Writing deconstructs the question of ‘pure’ origin, suspending the existence between the materiality of the writing and the space-time indeterminacy of the trace determined by the constant iterability of existence itself. But, in fact, this dynamic interaction between time and matter determines the possibility of determining the conditions of experience in general, presenting it as a haunted space, inhabited by different traces. Consequently, the Origin is branded as a mythical supplement, a predicate of the proprietary nature of existence dictated by the Cogito. But, in this suspension, existence itself opens up to the unknown and ghostly event of difference[4].

Another theoretical device that connects weird and ecology, even more intensively, is that of Quentin Meillassoux, that in his book ‘After Finitude’ makes a frontal attack on the logic of ‘correlationism’, another architrave of metaphysics and, latu sensu, of agrilogistic. In fact, according to this theoretical elaboration, the knowability of Cogito and Sum, namely of Thought and Being, is limited to their concrete manifestations, denying the existence of everything that exists outside their original link, which is also characterized as a constant retro-dating of the present over the past, a magnetic tension towards the original time and space, towards the conditions of anthropocentric possibility of existence. Forcing Kant’s work, he affirms the existence of an absolute anteriority, an ‘ancestral’ reality preceding the human species itself, which determines the same conditions of life[5]. He calls ‘arche-fossil’ the object that materially specifies the conditions of existence of matter, and therefore, of life, as a trace that is not exhausted but experiences its effects in the present.

As a result of these assumptions, the transcendental absolute is not an element of ontological or spiritual primacy, but a ‘hyper-chaos’ in which everything is conceivable, contradicting the principle of rational truth of scientific discourse, subverting and transforming it into a principle of radical indeterminacy, so that everything can exist, in a contingent and unnecessary way. The thing-in-itself, like John Carpenter’s ‘The Thing’, resides in a remote darkness, external to rationality, while at the same time is perceivable as a weird and phantasmatic presence that escapes cognitive classifications. Meillassoux’s speculative work has forced the canons of ‘classical’ theoresis, subtracting Reality from its reassuring space of inscription, and putting it in contact with the chaotic otherness of a contingent universe, that is absolutely alien to human events. Thus, what Graham Harman calls ‘weird realism’ is the gap that thought creates between itself and its own conditions of possibility, which escape the space-time coordinates. Taking his cue from Lovecraft’s work, from the universal horror that characterizes the American writer, the philosopher underlines the hiatus that characterizes the relationship between the thinking subject and the object, at the same time subject of existence and theory. The full presence of the object on the intellectual scene manifests its distance in the relationship of thought, its untouchability and therefore the absence of a tactile relational correlation, and marks its very existence through inaccessibility: the very essence of the thing remains hidden under different layers of emptiness, a metaphorical descent into hell of existence tormented by the presence of the things[6]. At this point, weird ecology presents itself as a subjectivation process of the environment that rests on dark bases, in a constant reference to the transcendent dimension of its own materiality, as in Mobius Strip, as a synthése disjonctive between its familiar presence and the possibility of the catastrophic threat it may contain. A little genealogical study on weirdness, in this context, is helpful to focus on two similar concepts, which designate a different relationship of subjectivity with its own space and time: the ‘uncanny’ and the ‘haunt’. The first concept, in Sigmund Freud’s fundamental formulation, describes the relationship between the removal of certain types of events in the psyche and their emergence in the form of psychosis in the unconscious and the behavioural sphere. In fact, the German etymology of the term refers to something situated in the ambivalence between habit and exception, between the familiar and the unknown, which keeps its own dangerous potential intact through an ineliminable latency[7]. The other descriptive pole, haunt, starting from the concept of ‘hauntologies’, describes the non-contemporary experience of time, in which the past does not end in the present, and the possibility of unpredictable futures remains open. Radicalizing the theoretical statute of the concept, Mark Fisher linked it to the ‘eerie’, to the unknown presence of the outside, to the potential of the lost futures that wander through time in the form of cultural and political ghosts. The metaphor of spectral time shows its strength in deconstructing capitalist realism, without necessarily opening the door to the easy enthusiasm of positive utopias, but giving imaginative and material strength to the monsters and ghosts removed and foreclosed, which return in a threatening and destructive way[8]. Thus, the separation of Ecology from archetypal and anthropomorphic Nature, lays the foundations of a new understanding of environmental issues, and materializes nature as autonomous and separate object, whose estrangement is central to its definition as ‘à part entière’ subject. The ecology-environment, at this point, is not only the genetic matrix of life, but is the mixture of ontic matter, and the transcendental thinking and acting dimension. Both assumptions are part of the definition of the ‘agential materialism’, heir to a tradition of sensist and materialistic thinking that goes from Epicurus and Lucretius to Leopardi’s cosmo-pessimism. This kind of action defines the set of eco-linguistic modes that Nature uses to manifest its power, especially in the catastrophic forms that combine pleasure and death, and paint it as a ‘Oscura Matrigna’ blind to the destinies of life and the World[9]. Weird-ecology, in short, considers the environment as a form of life among others, but highlighting its extraneous and destructive character and pushing, at the same time, to an aesthetic and ecological thinking that goes inside its mysterious essence, as an alien dynamic without gods or principles.

In an attempt to make conceivable the void generated by nature, Morton links ecognosis as esoteric and contemplative awareness to an aesthetic experience of knowledge, using the analytics of the Sublime that Kant enunciates in the ‘Critique of Judgement’. What the German philosopher presents as ‘absolutely great’ is precisely the Sublime, the feeling of frightening minority towards the analyzed object, which irresistibly attracts subjectivity, and stimulates the extra-sensory perception of the omnipotence of the universe and nature[10]. The sublime is the ontological foundation of eco-gnostic knowledge, which manifests itself both as impotent ecstasy towards the outside world and as attraction towards the abyss of nature itself, in the form of dark magnetism. Morton further problematizes this obscure synesthesia resorting to Benjamin’s concepts of ‘aura’ and ‘distraction’, underlining the duality of the relationship between thought and environment. On the one hand, there is the abduction of the senses constituted by the aura, by the unique and unknowable nature of the object-nature; on the other hand, the distraction shows the knowability and the reproducibility of the relationship, posing itself as a ‘sensitive experience’ that temporarily dissolves the mysterious layer that covers it[11]. And it is precisely in the connection between absolute and necessity that ecognosis manifests itself as a subjective and ecological experimentum, as experience of creative vitalism that operates in the subversion of original values, and in the destruction of the metaphysics of paranoia and mourning[12].

Once defined the elusive, non-familiar character of the environment-nature, the next step is to follow its dark, occult, mysterious side and the voices that come from it. The infinite nature of the Universe tickles the scientific research and teases the cosmo-imperialist pretensions of the capitalist adventurers, in search of a new Eldorado on which transfer human activities and squeeze resources, smelling a probable collapse of the Earth. Anyway, Universe represents an enormous and chaotic vortex, productive of fantasies about other forms of life as well as media leitmotifs about invasions of dangerous species of dominators and sudden appearances and abductions. However, the judgment of irrationality that is given to the mysteries that cannot be known or explained remains intact. What can challenge the reassuring narratives is a materialistic counter-fiction that rejects a predefined objective ground and speculates on the material reality itself, disconnecting it from its own assumptions. Deprived of light, matter discovers itself travelled and crossed by demons, by viral elements that corrupt and regenerate its elements, as a process of destruction and creation. Also, darkness exposed matter not only to biological conditions of decay, but also to putrefaction, to shocks and vibrations coming from an underground that cannot be deciphered.

Just as the alchemical sciences spoke of the occult transvaluation of matter, occult materialism describes a demonic Genesis of the physical and biological system of the living, produced by cruel divinities and geo-cosmic trauma. Reza Negarestani’s Cyclonopedia is a real black grimoire where European philosophy meets biblical demons, the War on Terror and the clashes between the Gods of the Middle East, a cursed tale that carries the weight of the betrayal of the Tower of Babel against God, of a knowledge that wants to free matter and the non-human, betraying archaic pacts and divisions. As the cosmogonies of religious traditions were characterized by acts of nomination and separation of the living from the inanimate elements, for Negarestani the world is the product of a continuous war between earthly and divine forces. In particular, the war between telluric divinities and the solar empire, a metaphor for the relationship between the Earth and its greatest source of energy, has never stopped, and it continues in the earth’s crust, under its surface, in the magmatic forms of ruptures and eruptions. What corrodes the guts of the Earth is its own vital fluid:

‘Petroleum’s hadean formation developed a satanic sentience through the politics of in-between which inevitably ‘wells-up’ through the God-complex deposited in the strata(..) to the surface (..) Monotheism in its ultimate scenario is a call for the Desert – the monopolistic abode of the Divine. In the end, everything must be leveled to fulfill the omnipresence and oneness of the Divine’[13]

Starting from this quotation, it is possible to analyze the Iranian philosopher’s theory-fiction experiment along three lines: a genetic theory of the ‘Geo-Trauma’, a description of the Desert as a space of inscription of the solar divinity, and a Bacterial Archeology -an alien demonology- as element of representation of Chtonic resistance. The first line reworks the psychoanalytic theory of trauma caused by the original repression of childhood desire, confined in the remote darkness of the unconscious, and civilized in society; For Negarestani, the geo-trauma is represented by the removal of the destructive drive of the Sun towards the Earth, and its forced confinement inside the crust, in the form of magmatic and telluric heart, both as dynamic energy, and as a destructive force. Extending the schizo-analytic methodology to geological dynamics, the author highlights the original tendency to earthly self-destruction as submission to the solar divinity, which is represented as great source of dissipation of vital energy, and, metaphorically, as libidinal and desiring drive.

The obligatory parallelism is with George Bataille’s surrealist sketch ‘L’anus solaire’, in which the geo-spatial movements of the earth, both internal and external, are interpreted as libidinal movements of the Sun and its earthly prostheses. The oppositional duality between the solar divinity and the Night represents the circular embrace between pleasure and death, and poses the theme of the limit as a threshold between divine tensions and earthly recalls[14]. This trauma can affect human life itself in the form of ‘Spinal Catastrophism’, as proposed by T. Moynihan, which locates the geo-terrestrial trauma inside the spine, and transforms it into the living memory of the different traumatic layers of the Earth’s core. Thus, the upright posture has determined the process of phylogenetic homination through the perfect orthogonal position between earth and sun, figuratively predisposing subjectivity to Reason as an alien insider, coming from the dimension of the noumenic solar horizon, of which light is the most visible expression. But, this same heliotropism hides the destructive force of rational induction, clearly described as a parasitic catastrophe[15]. The desert, consequently, territorializes the energetic power of the Sun (or Reason) and function as limitation to its destructive power. In this sense, the endless landscape of sand is represented as a ‘sado-cospirationist’ space, in which petro-political war machines monopolize the underground flow to strengthen the Monotheistic Authority.  Borrowing the ‘war machine’ model from the work of Deleuze and Guattari[16], Negarestani transforms it into a counter-revolutionary element, animated by the paranoid will to capture and destroy the other and reduce it to nothing[17], to the zero degree of matter, holo-caust. In the biblical narrative, the desert is the punishment for rejection and outrage to the divinity, endless locus without goal and without rest, and threat of the destruction of creation, ‘ashes to ashes, dust to dust’[18]. But the dust becomes the xeno-particle that generate resistance to total destruction. Every single particle is an expression both of the creative vitality of matter and a sign of external entities that generate and reproduce it: everything that escapes destruction lives in another form, in connection with the telluric heart of the Earth, that is, the foreclosed desire in the process of solar civilization. Anything that moves under the earth plane is part of the Telluric Insurgence, the connection of different non-organic war-as-a-machines that experience the vital parasitic flow as a revolutionary force. The set of viral parasites that sabotage the civilized flow generate of other life forms straddling the organic and non-organic, so as to show ‘life’ as irruption from the outside[19]. The xerodrome, the plan of immanence located in the communication axis between the Tellurian Insider and the Sun-God, is a plan of subversion of the monotheism of the desert, its transformation into a communication machine of the hole-flux generated by the invasion of the Outside. The apocalyptic universe, thus, rests on two fundamental elements: space as a discontinuous assembly between the holes and the multiplicities generated by them (within a process of constant acceleration), and the Chtonic, therefore alchemical and demonic nature of the vital elements. Political theology is followed by a political demonology that destabilizes the geo-petroleum order (in the capitalist and jihadist variants) through demons, pestilence and famine, and find their jouissance in the pure Destrudo, the Call of the un-human abyss removed from the solar horizon. The demon, precisely because infested and possessed by the dark forces, is a figure of schizoid multiplicity, and therefore of an antagonism conspiring against the established order. Working in the depths of the geo-strata, the demon emerges as a Chtonic and multiple mixture of metal and oil, as a re-combinatory parasite of both elements, able to destroy the layers through its telluric force. Negarestani calls this loyalty to the informe earth and the betrayal of the solar pact by the demons ‘Tellurian Blasphemy’, a xeno-translation of the exhortation to remain faithful to the earth of Nietzschean memory. The name of this caustic becoming is ‘Epidemic Openess’, which recalls the emptiness of the classical tradition, and the infinite power of Giordano Bruno’s matter, even in its haunted forms:

‘Appresso se per la qualità corporale veggiamo che un corpo ha potenza di aumentarsi in infinito; come si vede ne fuoco il quale (come ognun concede) si amplificare in infinito, se gli avvicinasse materia ed esca: qual ragion vuole il fuoco, che può essere infinito è può esser per conseguenza fatto infinito, non possa attualmente trovarsi infinito?’[20]

The limitation of fire, a primordial element par exellence, lies in the very statute of Life itself as an ordered biological continuation of the species, and not as vitalism pushed to its negative and self-destructive extremities.

The refusal of this limitation constitutes a further articulation of occult materialism, in the direction of an existentialism that assumes horror as its own generative rhizome. This existentialism becomes a doubtful attitude about the complete understanding of the world, ‘own hell’ in which the human and the un-human live together in complete indifference. The hell of the present day is that of necro-capitalism, in which the injunction to life and productivity coexist with brutal forms of exploitation of the environment and biological species close to extermination. In this respect, existential pessimism is a kind of cynical wisdom, an inactual experience[21] to observe the continuous catastrophe, placed on the very edge of the symbolic and material experience of reality. Eugene Thacker moves along these lines to experience a philosophical observation point of horror, which, mutatis mutandis, presents itself as the absolute outside living ‘among us’. Horror is not, humanistically speaking, the product of the inversion of reason and the violation of the ontological status of humanity (represented by Kant’s categorical imperative), or at least it is not only this: it is the impalpable presence that lives not in opposition but laterally to human life, the imminent disaster that postpones its own emergency. Horror is the extreme limit of the World precisely because it represents its linguistic and communicative irrepresentability: the limits of language are the contours of horror. Thus, starting from an existential-nihilist tradition that originated in the philosophies of Schopenhauer and Kierkegaard, the first to question Hegelian systemic optimism, Thacker describes horror as misanthropic essence, completely distant from human existence and interested in its gradual annihilation. It is not Death that kills and denudes the characters of biological and social life, but the mockery that steals meaning and leaves Life to proliferate among its own ashes, heedless of the signs of the coming catastrophe[22]. The experience of the limit, instead, revealing itself as ‘black illumination’, displaces the drama of the progressive difficulty in rationalizing the world, in an occult philosophy, whose strength lies precisely in unknowability, elevating it to mystical contemplation, and therefore to gnosis. More precisely, it is an occult theology that contemplates the numinosum as Rudolf Otto described it: as a tremendous, mysterious and contemplative power, therefore as a noumenic power completely attracted by demonic darkness. Thacker calls this movement from anthropocentrism to the opening of all that eludes understanding ‘demontology’-deals between un-human thinking and nothingness as a non-dialectical rejection of thought, as an effort to understand the infinite void that coexists in the World. What emerges from the interaction of these movements of thought is a variation of the eco-gnosis displaced on a further plane:

‘Darkness mysticism in not only figuratively but historically the dark underside of mystical thought (..) Darkness mysticism is ‘mistycal’ not because it says yes to the therapeutic, anthropocentric embrace of God, but because it says no to the recuperative habits of human beings to always see the world as a world-for-us(..)Such experiences, in which the human confronts, in a paradoxical state, the absolutely unhuman, can only be thought negatively’[23]

This horror dimension affirms the complete victory of the Outside, so it deepens the experience of abandonment, but at the same time opens it to listening to delirium and maniac disposition[24]. Melancology, the emotional character temperament that unites instability with introspection, predisposes the subject to listen to the Void, the annoying noise in the communicative frequencies of the World, and leads him to the experience of the sublime as an activity that is related to dialectical negativity, as absolute opposition to the alienation of the real, without slipping into an additional synthesis. Thacker and other authors, in fact, exemplify this concept using some segments of Black Metal as a musical genre that embraces the negative as a constituent element of an aesthetic style and thought. Accepting ‘black ecology’ as an unsweetened version of the natural world, where there are plagues, epidemics and fertility, this type of metal leverages the anti-aesthetics of the ugly as an ecological motif, as a glimpse of truth about the instability of biology and the cosmos[25]. The noisy and blackened attitude is mirrored in Dante’s allegory, so hell is the metaphor of sinful life on earth: lyrical Satanism and scenic hell are the other side of dark gnosis, an eco-mimetic expression of the destructive vitalism of cosmic nature.

Starting from this ethical research, the program of a renewed occult materialism must include the sensual abandonment to excess, articulated through these key concepts: a renewed understanding of nihilism, cruelty as the materiality of the body, the dépense as a destructive force. Nihilism, primarily, goes beyond the destruction of moral values, and assumes extinction as its own object. Ray Brassier, taking to the extreme consequences the postulates of eliminatory materialism, in fact, shows how only the disarticulation of the chain of being can return to nihilism its ability to think death, emptiness and other extreme limits not in a teleological key, but in an immanent key[26]. The traumatic function of the nihil experiences its potential, giving shape to desire as a productive force of otherness. The sadness generated by the encounter with horror, the melancholic posture, support instead an ethics of mutual care and biological finiteness[27]. The creative use of death-drive made by Lee Edelmann, is a theoretical experimentation of it: affirming the self-destructive function of anality (always within the psychoanalytic lexicon) against the state and capitalist imaginary of the ‘Child’ as a fetish of familistic reproduction and the economic and social fascination that it generates, can represent a form of nihilistic and anti-social subversion of the Norm[28]. The concept of cruelty refers to Antonin Artaud’s psycho-physical experiments, and his subsequent reworking in schizoanalysis. Cruelty, distancing itself from the strict etymological meaning, is the expression of the absolute sovereignty of the body without organs as a surface of inscription, cutting, dismemberment, as a fragment of flesh and passions, crossed and acted on by the power of desire. The body-machine, in fact, is assembled through the contact with the Open and the Other, putting in contact the virality of cuts and desiring flows with the expansive materiality of its own machinic extensions. Cruelty is therefore potestas that materializes in contagion and in its own deterritorialization: one body, many bodies violate the sacredness of the socius expressing the material cruelty of life as an unpredictable flow of bodily waste and intellectual enlightenment[29]. The third concept, dépense, refers to Bataille’s work, and is linked to the unproductive waste of (solar) energy, this time relocated within a ‘General Economy’ of surplus. The waste, the unproductive consumption, act in an anti-utilitarian way, therefore as a gratuitous and aimless excess, which takes mystical contours in the invocation of sacrifice, as the limit of human experience and the threshold of sacrum, of the unspekeable. The ambivalence of the dépense is the ambivalence of a nihilism that seeks its own end without ever having the means to do so[30]. Summing up, occult materialism embraces the limits of body and matter, to go beyond the rational and physical boundaries of the world as it is represented, seeking in the darkness the lightning to destroy the gloomy boredom of the existing. This bumpy philosophical path, consequently, shows the potentiality of the encounter with Catastrophe as Absolutely Other, thus as the very statute of other-worldly thinking. As a materialist research plan, in fact, it embraces the limits of body and matter in order to exceed the rational and physical boundaries of the world as it is represented, looking for the possibilities that may arise from the ruins of destruction, whether material, existential or theoretical.

This connection between weird and occult can be wasteology, a discourse that, by leveraging the aesthetic dimension of the ecognosis and the nihilism raised by numinous mysticism, places the creative force of human and non-human life among the waste of the capitalist system. This discourse must reject any reactionary ‘jargon of authenticity’[31], saturating instead the double level of reification that the search for authenticity encapsulates: the alienation of the subject in society as a link stabilized by social division, and the alienation of existence at work, as the zero degree of human existence. The capitalist spectacle of nature, as in D.Cronenberg’s Videodrome, weeps over its own extinction while secretly determining its fate: the commodity fetishism, in the biopolitical context, no longer concerns the human but involves the entire spectrum of the living and the sensory qualities of the non-human. To subvert this state of affairs it is necessary to dislocate the problem from this cognitive sphere to the sphere of eco-technology, that is, the sphere of precarious and provisional connections between environment and techno-human assemblages. This dynamic of coalition is characterized by a response-ability-synthesis between the ethical principle of responsibility and the action of subjectivities-of sustainability and at the same time of collectively shared innovation[32]. Consequently, producing alliances involves both the rejection of survivalist ideology as a corollary of extermination and necropolitic logic, and the imagination of new forms of solidarity. The connection of bodies to multiple affective connections, lets emerge the field of political ecology as a synthesis between technological accelerations and dreams of the future, and therefore, of a renewed ethics of coexistence. Thus, the task of this political ecology of waste is to create the conditions to imagine the free coexistence of all anonymous, strange and marginal forms of life, as a synthesis between technological accelerations and dreams of the future, and therefore, of a renewed ethics of coexistence between the cosmic horror and the monsters of the irrational[33].

One can conclude by stating that this theoretical project designates a biopolitics of the ‘more-than-human’, that is, of the production of the living in a non-anthropological perspective, which requires specific forms of inclusive justice that sabotage the threshold of distinction between human and non-human[34]. Thus, the figure of the monster can become the metaphor of the desire for transformation. The monster represents, in fact, the reference figure of plasticity, because it is the manifestation of abnormality, of punishment for acts against nature, of opposition to the gods, or the modern fruit of incest between man and technology, both in the reactionary vulgate as a product of the Promethean will to power to escape the given form and destiny, and in the more classical terms of teratology and its inscription in the moral registers of positivist criminology and medicine. At the same time, the monster is the hope of the possibility of new forms of relationship and new practices of justice, because it contains within itself the germs of a symbolic and material transformation of bodies, both actual and virtual, and of the habitat, both natural and silicon: it is, to all intents and purposes, a new agent of knowledge. The eco-technological promise of the monster-or humankind-so, is the possibility of articulating around destruction the different potentials of bodies and agents in constant recombination, because, as Morton puts it, solidarity is always solidarity with non-humans.


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Artaud, A. The Theatre and Its Double. New York: Groove Press, 1994

Bataille, G. L’Anus Solaire. Paris: Nouvelles Ligne, 2011

Id. La Part Maudite. Paris: Minuit, 2014

Brassier, R. Nihil Unbound. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007

Bruno, G. Opere Italiane, II. Turin: Utet

Deleuze G. and F.Guattari. Mille Plateaux. Paris: Minuit, 1980

Deleuze, G. Nietzsche et la philosophie. Paris, Puf, 2014

Derrida, J. De la Grammatologie. Paris: Minuit, 1967;

Id. L’écriture et la différence. Paris: Points, 2014,

Edelman, L. No Future. Durham: Duke University Press, 2004.

Fallot, J. Il piacere e la morte nella filosofia di Epicuro. Turin: Einaudi, Torino, 1981;

Fisher, M. Ghosts of my life. Washngton: Zero Books, 2012;

Id. The weird and the eerie. London: Repeater Books, 2016.

Freud, S. ‘The Uncanny’ in The Monster Theory Reader, edited by J.M. Weinstock. St.Paul:Minnesota University Press, 2020

Givone, S. Metafisica della peste. Turin: Einaudi,2012;

Haraway, D. Staying with the Trouble. Durham, Duke University Press, 2016

Harman, G. Weird Realism: Lovercraft and Philosophy. Washington: Zero Books, 2012

Kant, I. Critica del Giudizio. Bari-Rome: Laterza, 2015

Leopardi, G. Operette Morali. Milan: Bur, 2008;

Id. Zibaldone. Milan: Mondadori, 2015

Masciandaro, N. (eds). Hideous Gnosis

Meillassoux, Q. After Finitude. London: Bloomsbury,2007

Mohaghegh, J.B. Omnicide. Falmouth Quarry: Urbanomic, 2019

Morton, T. Ecology Without Nature. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2009

Id. Dark Ecology. New York: Columbia University Press, 2016

Id. Being Ecological. London: Pelican Books, 2018

Id. Humankind. Verso Books, London, 2019

Moynihan, T. Spinal Catastrophism. Falmouth Quarry: Urbanomic, 2019

Negarestani, R. Cyclonopedia. Melbourne, re-press, 2008

Nietzsche, F. Considerazioni Inattuali. Turin: Einaudi, Torino, 1981

Pugliese, J (2020). Biopolitics of the More-Than-Human. Durham: Duke University Press

Povinelli, E.A. Geontologies. Durham: Duke University Press, 2016

Scott, J.C. Against the Grain. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2017

Serres, M. The Parasite. St.Paul: Minnesota University Press,2007

Thacker, E. In the dust of this Planet. Washington: Zero Books, 2011

Id. Infinite Resignation. London: Repeater Books,2018

Wilson, S. Melancology. Washinghton: Zero Books, 2014

[1] T.Morton, Ecology Without Nature. Cambridge:Harvard University Press, 2009, pp.54-63

[2] T.Morton, Dark Ecology. New York: Columbia University Press, 2016, pp.42-46; Id, Being Ecological. London: Pelican Books, 2019, pp.149-150; J.C.Scott, Against the Grain. New Haven:Yale University Press, 2017

[3] T.Morton, Dark Nature, op.cit, pag. 160

[4] J.Derrida, De la grammatologie. Paris: Minuit, 1967; Id, Freud et la scène de l’écriture in L’écriture et la différence. Paris: Points, 2014,

[5] Q.Meillassoux, After Finitude. London: Bloomsbury,2007, pag. 10

[6] G.Harman, Weird Realism: Lovercraft and Philosophy. Washington: Zero Books, 2012, pp.238-239

[7] S.Freud, The Uncanny in J.A. Weinstock (eds), The Monster Theory Reader. St.Paul:Minnesota University Press, 2020, pp. 59-88.

[8] M.Fisher, Ghosts of my life. Washington: Zero Books, 2012; Id, The weird and the eerie. London: Repeater Books, 2016.

[9] J. Fallot, Il piacere e la morte nella filosofia di Epicuro. Turin: Einaudi, Torino, 1981; G.Leopardi, Operette Morali. Milan: Bur, 2008; Id, Zibaldone. Milan: Mondadori, 2015

[10] I.Kant, Critica del Giudizio. Bari-Rome: Laterza, 2015, pp.193-197

[11] T.Morton, Ecology without Nature, op.cit., pp.160-169.

[12] G.Deleuze, Nietzsche et la philosophie. Paris, Puf, 2014

[13] R.Negarestani, Cyclonopedia. Melbourne, re-press, 2008, pp.16-18

[14] G.Bataille, L’Anus Solaire. Paris: Nouvelles Ligne, 2011

[15] T.Moynihan, Spinal Catastrophism. Falmouth Quarry: Urbanomic, 2019, pp. 245-254

[16] G.Deleuze, F.Guattari, Mille Plateaux. Paris: Minuit, 1980

[17] E.A.Povinelli, Geontologies. Durham: Duke University Press, 2016

[18] Sepultura, Arise, Roadrunner Records, 1991

[19] M.Serres, The Parasite. St.Paul:Minnesota University Press,2007

[20] G.Bruno, De l’infinito, universo e mondi in Id, Opere Italiane, II. Turin: Utet, pag.59

[21] F.Nietzsche, Considerazioni Inattuali. Turin: Einaudi, Torino, 1981

[22] S.Givone, Metafisica della peste. Turin: Einaudi,2012; E.Thacker, Infinite Resignation. London: Repeater Books,2018

[23] E.Thacker, In the dust of this Planet. Washington: Zero Books, 2011, pp.154-155

[24] J.B.Mohaghegh, Omnicide. Falmouth Quarry: Urbanomic, 2019

[25] Scott Wilson (eds), Melancology. Washinghton: Zero Books, 2014; N.Masciandaro (eds), Hideous Gnosis.

[26] R.Brassier, Nihil Unbound. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007

[27] I thank M. for discussing this point with me.

[28] L.Edelman, No Future. Durham: Duke University Press, 2004.

[29] A.Artaud, The Theatre and Its Double. New York: Groove Press, 1994

[30] G.Bataille, La Part Maudite. Paris: Minuit, 2014

[31] T.Adorno, Dialettica Negativa. Turin: Einaudi, Torino, 2007

[32] D.Haraway, Staying with the Trouble. Durham, Duke University Press, 2016

[33] T.Morton, Humankind. London-New York: Verso Books, 2019

[34] J.Pugliese, Biopolitics of the More-Than-Human. Durham: Duke University Press, 2020