In their latest post Nishiki Prestige gives what could be the most concise and condensed primer on U/acc. The post opens by explicitly stating the relationship between accelerationism and politics:
If accelerationism is true then it is also apolitical. It is a conceptual framework for understanding the nature of reality, not an ideology. Assuming the fundamentals are correct, ACC is no more political than chemistry, physics, etc.
If accelerationism is a descriptor of the cybernetics of capital then it is as politically neutral as any other aspect of reality that scientific discourse is able to describe. Just as the content of physics – ie. its laws and abstract mathematics – aren’t political but an partial, incomplete, but essentially accurate body of knowledge about how the world actually is independent of human biases, preferences, or ideologies. I’m reminded of the quip made by Richard Dawkins against what he diagnosed as cultural relativism and that is probably more than a little familiar to people overexposed to applications of post-structuralist philosophies in the mountains of “the social construction of…” books and articles. Dawkins said, ‘Show me a relativist a 30,000 feet and I’ll show you are hypocrite,’ the obvious point being that entrusting your body to an aircraft, believing you’ll arrive unscathed at your destination, is to place your trust or faith in the technical expertise of a fleet of engineers, designers, air traffic controllers, mechanics, engineers, automated systems, the communication relays that go between them, and, ultimately, the bodies of scientific knowledge that make the construction, design, maintenance and coordination of your flight possible. Whatever the cool relativist says, their revealed preferences indicated that at the very least they’ve suspended their own relativism while onboard. A cool theoretical attitude is defeated by a more potent pragmatic investment in epistemic realism. In a very basic sense this would render accelerationism apolitical.
From this Nihishiki extracts the point that L/acc and R/acc should be read as leftists who accept accelerationism and rightists who accept accelerationism. This draws on the traditional way of making a broad ideological distinction that doesn’t accord to Nick Land’s method for defining left and right – ie. left = compensatory mechanism; right = catalytic explosive. From this Nishiki points out that U/acc has the capacity to ‘resolve this politicization issue.’ The name lingers on the idea of the unconditioned and the unconditional, something I’ve wanted to address for a while but have only felt the urge to after reading Nishiki’s post.
Left and right can be thought of as basic nominations for (at least) minimally distinct ideological polarities. The ideological distinction operates within the political in the same way the ontological difference does in a certain brand of ontology. For Heidegger the ontological difference is the name for that demarcation that separates questions of Being from beings, the divinely ontological from the merely ontic, and therefore the authenticity of the sacred from the fallenness of the profane. Of course Heidegger intends Being to reveal itself as the Being of beings so that the ontotheological accusation shouldn’t ever arise, but the failure of this move is no small part of the history of Western philosophy. The ontological difference demarcates questions of fact (realism) from questions of meaning (normativity), and Heidegger uses it to dismiss the history of thought as the onticization of Being. His project announced in Being and Time will return Dasein to that question that is fundamental to its Being and that it has nonetheless forgotten in the fog of onticization. Heidegger dream of returning human thought to the dignity of a thought of the Why of Being that overcomes its being sunk in the banality of the That. This is a manoeuvre that closes off the Outside by subsuming ontology within epistemology in the particular sense that Being is always a question posed and answered by humanity. The positioning of the question of Being makes Being a mystery that is fundamentally soluble to thought, or at least Heidegger hopes so. It is considerations of this flavour that lead Heidegger to posit the fundamental question of metaphysics as being: Why is there something rather than nothing? In Heidegger the question is existential. It is the question of being-there that is the destiny of the human being to ask after.
What does this have to do with the ideological distinction? In truth, ideological distinctions, orthodoxies and orthopraxies that encounter one another according to the logic of the friend/enemy distinction, is potentially fractal. That is to say, they can be discovered anywhere, and, indeed, part of the current political catastrophe is the systematic proliferation of distinctions. For those involved, for those invested, sunk in, these ideological compete with one another as existential incompatibilities, a situation that peaks in the most extreme forms of violence. While primarily latent or otherwise channelised into ritualised forms and display behaviours, the psychopathology of ideological attachment remains a consistently active, if unconscious, libidinal current. Ideologies are worldviews that operate as defensive shields and bunkers and justifications for the deployment of escalating combative tactics, the latter required to secure the former, the bunkers themselves necessary for maintaining a semblance of an impossible ontological security. Viewed in this light ideological distinction is nothing less than a species of ordinary psychoses that imprisons schizophrenia within a barely perceived will to survive. But this still doesn’t answer how ideological distinction is akin to ontological difference.
The answer lies in the proximity of the one to the other when they are read through each other. The ontological difference reveals that distinction between beings and Being, the Being of beings, that is a question for that being called Dasein, the being that is able to confront Being in and as the primary problem, the fundamental question: Why do I exist, instead of being nothing? The human being will most obviously confront this problem in its burgeoning and insidiously ever-present awareness of the immanence of death to life, the void at the heart of the Being of being. The problem of death, really just a subordinate symptom of the problem of the Void – secondary thanatophobia a symptom of primary kenophobia – demands the development of elaborate coping mechanisms – ideologies, worldviews, and, in their full complexity, cultures. Thus the fundamental question of metaphysics induces what we can call the fundamental question of politics: “What is to be done?” From here the development of the ideological distinctions is obvious. In this formula left and right become different degrees of coping whilst remaining basically of the same kind. Just as their spatial origins suggest the left and right are ultimately orientations.
Orientation is the act of being oriented, implying locating one’s own position relative to some broader context. This can be the simple orientation of one’s body in relation to the environment that defines coordinates and locations, or it can be as complex an operation as navigating proliferating sexual orientations, or, in a mode already more pertinent to the political, it can be the subordination of the existential to the utility of purposes, goals, and projects. For now though, I want to think about orientation through its psychiatric deployment as orientation to person, place, and time. This is a standard assessment in dealing with acute psychoses and deleriums, as well as advancing dementias or (what are thought of as more truly) neurological conditions. Is the patient under assessment aware of who they are, where they are, and when they are? It is an assessment that seeks to localise the patient according to identity, territory, and linear temporality. I am I, I am here, I am now.
Disorientation, the breakdown of this tripartite structure of ontological securitisation, is often accompanied by confusion, delirium, delusions, hallucinations, defensive confabulations, aimless wandering and agitation, persistent anxiety rising to acute attacks of fear, and, accosted by experiences that escape categorisation, the potential for the nervous collapse of catatonic withdrawal, or the irrational lashing out of a pure animal violence. The purpose of orientation is to ward of disorientation, the left and the right being orientations that orient by providing ready-made identities, maps, histories, a sense of place and time, a sense of coordinated activity coupled to purposefulness, a sense that this is familiar, known, manageable. I am I, I am here, I am now, I know what’s going on, and I can cope with it.
L/acc and R/acc are the polarities of oriented accelerationism. Franco Berardi had spoken about senility as a trope for exit from the market, an outdated term associated with the slow but inexorable cognitive decline in age related dementia. Following this, we could consider L/ and R/acc as related to traumatic disorientation, the equivalent to a significant head injury. Oriented accelerationism is any attempt to cope with the catastrophic disorientation of acceleration.
This doesn’t mean that U/acc is just a willful embrace of disorientation, although the acephalic dimension of it are appealing. Rather, it is the cultivation of the non-oriented. By this I mean to allude to Adam Lovasz’s concept of non-oriented ontology, a schizophrenic ontological dissolution of anything that could be taken for substance, being, or Being. The non-oriented ontology reveals an objectless world and worldless non-objects, a total corrosion that corrodes nothing because it is impossible to corrode absence, to drill holes in holes, and that suspends the fundamental metaphysical question revealing it as a bleeding laceration in the opening of a primordial wound, a woundless wound, and that silently replies to the pomposity of that fundamental question with its own intemperate fundamentalism: there is nothing in the midst of nothing at the heart of nothing, and that nothing is not something, is not-is, is isness, thusness, whatness, an all enveloping flower of emptiness, a continuous and consummate nothingness, colourless and dimensionless, and therefore all colours and all dimensions, because there is neither object nor partial object, neither body nor organ, nor body without organs, no entities that can be and no entities that cannot be.
Xenobuddhism is entirely at home with this. Indeed, Lovasz assimilates the anti-metaphysical Mahayana philosopher Chandrakirti into the non-oriented ontological voidscape (cf. System of Absentology, 219). Chandrakirti’s Entry into the Middleway is probably the most crucial text to the development of Madhyamaka Buddhism outside of Nargarjuna, and therefore on the development of all subsequent dharma-forms. The Madhyamaka is the highest expression given to emptiness (shunyata) in all dharma-forms. A proper account of the Madhyamaka is beyond the scope of this post but suffice it to say that the ontology of emptiness is entirely consistent with that which Lovasz defines as the non-oriented:
We define as “non-oriented” anything that pertains to an immanent negativity, any event, be it a singularity or a process, that leads to an increase in entropy, leading, ultimately, to an apotheosis that explicates the givenness of Emptiness (Tracing the Inoperative, 6).
In the Madhyamaka system of Nagarjuna and Chandrakirti emptiness explicitly empties any concept of emptiness that it is possible to develop. The entire philosophical structure of the Madhyamaka is an autocatabolic systems that necessitates its own internal self-dissolution, its dissolution as an interiority or conceptual refuge, that could posit anything for the discriminative mind to cling to. Discussing Chandrakirti in his seminal The Emptiness of Emptiness C.W Huntington Jr. writes that
The Madhyamaka is radically deconstructive, pragmatic philosophy, designed to be used for exposing, defusing, and dismantling, the reifying tendencies inherent in language and conceptual thought… this philosophy offers no answers. All it does is dissolve the old questions… (Huntington, 136).
The non-oriented can be understood as the unleashing of this radical dissolution that dissolves nothing because there is only voidness, only emptiness, only immanent negativities, within the occidental theoretical attitude. Like Cioran and Bataille have suggested in their own ways, the occidental mind is incapable of subsisting in the lucidity of oriental mysticism. Instead the western mind is pulled towards intensity, towards violence, perturbation, decay, laceration, seizure, intoxication. If oriented accelerationism relates to orientation as a mean for coping with traumatic disorientation, nonoriented accelerationism gives itself to the disorientation of being intoxicated by emptiness. There is no sadness in this, and no misery either, only an intoxication with the immanence of emptiness as it is unfolded in history. Acceleration names the processes of dissolution, and accelerationism traces those cold cybernetics of capital understood as the creative destruction of that immanent negativity, that negating immanence that is voidness.
Realism is digested in the empty stomach of emptiness. Science belongs to the world that is not a world and that does not disappear just because we’ve dropped the reifications of metaphysics. Of course you trust the aircraft at 30,000 feet, that doesn’t mean there is any aircraft to be trusted – and that doesn’t mean there isn’t there either. Accelerationism is apolitical in the same way that the mathematics of quantum physics is. But it is more than that. It is also profoundly anti-political. It is anti-political because it is non-oriented, being the non-orientation of politics, and this is another way to understand the idea of anti-praxis. The initiatory ritual of U/acc necessitates a dying to the world of politics. This allows a rebirth into the same world of politics, seen now for what it is. What is left is to make art and study for fun, says Nishiki, and perhaps to realize oneself as negativity in resonance with negativity, as an expression of that negativity, as the nothing in nothing… detaching, attuning to thusness, to intoxication, to the intensity, the red thread of desire…
… and if accelerationism is a lie, who – or rather what – is telling it? … what is it that’s accelerating?…
I’m not sure how best to end this, so i’ll just let it trail into nothing…