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r Softness: An Introduction to
Architecture and Politics of Oecayl
Reza Negarestani
Amongst philosophers and theologians of the Middle
Ages, few did not make at least a tangental remark on
a particular or general aspect of decay and putefaction.
Whether i the context of theologcal quandaries
concerg the world of beings or in the context of
philosophy and the science of the age, mediaeval thinkers
touched on putrefaction as a problem too intate with
the world of beings or the explitio of the universe to be
blUshed aside on emotonal or ratonal grounds. Yet even
among this rot-fenzy of the Middle Ages, there are only a
handfl of passages that directly focus on the implications
of omipresent problems which decay and putrefaction
ve birth to. One such passage can be found among the
pile of proto-scientfic works on impetus theory ascribed
to the German theologan and mathematcian Henry of
Langenstein, aso known a Henry of Hesse the Elder.
1. 11l. essa
was etnsively deveoped from a seminar originally given at lle
Cemfe for Culturl Studies, Goldsmiths, UnivesilY ofL:mdol, in My 2007. Whilsl
ti,e ar
uments and analyses ae different, the fundamenlS ar stl te sae. I could
nOI have written ts essay without engaging cmmentaries provided by Robin
Mackay, Ray Brssier, Eugee Tacker, Nick Land, Mark Fher, Eyal Wcman,
Susan Schuppli, and Lucana Pansi, who caired the sema.
Hem-y poses a ludicrously bizarre yet metaphysi
cally troubling queston regarding the possibility of the
generaton of one species from te putrefying corpse of
another speces: that of whether a fox can spontaeously
be generated fom a dog's carcass_ Even more grotesquely
unsettling is Henry's stmng suspicion that 'it is not clear
whether al men are of the same species or not, and so too
with dogs ad horses; [since] corpses which had been of
the same species when living might differ in species from
one another when corrupted.'2 For Henry of Langenstein,
puo-efaction creates a differential productive field in
whch natural evoluton is tansmogIied into a sinisterly
putid inter-species producton line. The so-caled beloved
creatures of God, in tis corrupt scenario, are so unfortunate
tllat mey might be me festering fuits of rotten dead worlds
and corpses. It is not only that forms of diferent species
ca overlap i decay, but tllat, according to Hemy of Hesse,
following the scholastc polymam Nicole Oresme and his
theory of qualites or accidental forms, in putefacton one
speces c uniormly or diffomllY deform i such a way
that it gradually assumes the latitude of fomlS associated
wit other speces. These defomutes can progress to such
a extent that one species might engender a entely new
species, an unhead-of thig, a universe whose reality can
only be speculated upon_ The gradationa movements
decay its vermict1la liquidation across all latitdes and
longitudes - thus create fields of differental defority
wherein the rotting corpse of one speces or fonnal category
interpolates between all orer known species. I orer
words, gI-adients of decay or me blurrg movements of rot
2. L. Tordike, A HilUl 0 M mu E<ilal Sl Vol III (ew York:
Columbia University Pss, 1934),485.
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clclae latitudes and longitudes peculiar to other species
by interpolatng other forms between them. These inter
polated forms a i fact derivatives of the inital form of
the decaying species, putid or tawing forms which ae
derived as the process of decay dif erentates or gradually
subtacts fom a formaton or stuctural framework. This is
suggestive of an afect without the positivity of afnnaton
- a becoming deoid of desire but driven forward solely by
the creeping power of thawing forms and their differenta
tion across the latitudes of forms already taken by other
bodies and entties. In ts sense, we c say that in putiacti
lie univese is ccl yet even m impotantl, te univere tl
i sened or s
eclted, wltetler as an ia o a maieid fa, i
tlte clulus i an irmie rot - this is the belated epigraph fom
whc we shall begin Our investgaton into the architectre,
mathesis and poltcs of decay:
The world bas it ori
i in putrefacton.
The whole world is full of cor
I politcal systems are constituted of formatons - both
in the realm of ideas and in concrete stuctures - then,
like livg species, they also are subject to the troubling
deformites brought about by the process of decay. I fact,
Henry of Langenstein's formula of decay as a weird inter
polatng or extrapolatng differential dynamism calculatng
3. Thi remark i associated with the Friulian mller Domenic Scndclla, also kown
a Menocio who ", declared a hcciarch b te Inquisition and bum! at the
stake" S C. Gi'1burg. 1 Clle ad I 1: 1M a"" ra Silclf-Cilur Mil"
(ondon: Routcdge & Kg Paul Ltd, 1980), xi
4. Frm Swt Movi (1974) written and directed b Dus Makavee.
the entre universe through the putefg gradations of a
corpse fnds its most refned expression in politcs and on
socio-political grounds. The power of difrental interpola
ton or weird afectve dynamism lends the idea of localized
or isolated decay a universa twist. "hat is rotting is idis
tnguishable from the wholesome remainder: not only
can the decayng part generate the healdlY parts through
differentating into d1eir form and ideas, the healthy parts
temselves may indeed be the gradients of a decaying part.
Tat is to say, in decay te origin qua the ideal shrinks more
and more toward nothng and becomes urtrecognisable,
whilst the idea is spewed forth fom dIe diferental
subtracton of the ideal. To put it diferently, u putrefac
tion, it is not the decaing formaton that is derived from
an idea, but the idea that is diferentially or gradationaly
formed duough putefacton. The idea, accordingly, is a
deterioratng husk belatedly formed over an inftely
shrunken ideal. Itis n this sense that the most proper form
of a political formaton - its idea - can be dIe product of
a process of decay feeding simultaneously on the uniden
table corpse of the ideals of dlat system along with the
putidly amalgamated forms of odler decaying systems.
The process of decay constructs the idea ony as a
byproduct of the diferential regurgitaton of a shriveling
body which is m te process of becoming less and less,
witout ever fnding the relief of complete ana
ton. Tis is to say, once agai, dlat the toubling aspect
of decay has to do more wit its dynasm or gradaton
dIan wit its inerendy defng namre: The most
proper form of a formation such as a politcal system
is not enveloped, as an origin or a priori ideal core;
it is rather unfolded as a form which is differentiated
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a posteriori from the putrefaction of that fonnaton or
political system. The ideas of the wholesomeness and
decaying (whether i regard to design, fnction, economy
or ideas) of socio-political formatons, accordingly, are
posited as te latter products of a putefing system. Yet
tIus is not where the scenario of rot ends. Decay does not
result u an equivocaton between putid and wholesome;
it rater constucts ||/ ideas as iu gradationaly proper
forms, so that what u considered wholesome c u fact
be seen as a rotten derivatve of an intial constructon that
has Iitopically dinished. The reverse of ts scenario
is not only possible but i even more prevalent: through
putrefaction, the system or constructon can assume forms
and ideas associated with those systems or constuctions
wluch have whether rightly or wrongly - been assumed
The obvious, yet gullible, objecton is that such an
investgation of the politcs of decay n not a unversally
or globally-relevant politcal issue or project, because a
discussion of poltical rot is supposedly relevant only once
one makes assumptons about te Middle East or the
Balkans. mother words, i order to speak of politcal decay
and its mechanisms, one has to provide an exaple such
as Dubai or Bucharest - otherwise te problem of decay
is not that relevant. If this is not a blind and oversimpli
fed identcation of world politics, it at least indicates a
failure to understand the mechanisms at work in decay.
Not only because a rotting political formaton can germinate
oter forms which might overlap revolutonary, emancipa
tory and civiised politcal formations, but aso because
Wester political formatons ad civiisations might
indeed be the degenerate forms of an already rotten and
liitopically decomposed Middle-Eastern or Balkanese
socia-politcal formaton. tis sense of putefaction and
rot as persistng and creeping, politcal decay casts a morbid
shadow on the queston of relevancy (or irrelevancy) and
swftly neutralises tlle idea of a 'localized rot'. There is no
decay whose swollen and slimy nodules of rot - its difer
entiated forms - have not already interpolated themselves
between m known and unknown fomls in the sofest
and smoothest way possible so a to disguise the deterio
raton or putefacton of the ,hole. Tese are just a few
of the numerous conclusions to be drawn fom a politics
of decay; conclusions that hadly ay politcal system or
agency - despite testfing to the current fetd atosphere
of world politics - is ready to admt. The reason for U
ioncally passive stance, fequently espoused by both the
right and the left, is that sucll conclusions overtlrrow certain
presumptions about the fundanlents, ideas and concrete
fonnatons of socio-political systems and agences. vVhat
putrefaction changes, mics and hollows Out is not only
the surface of a system but also it essental interiority,
tlle way down to its inner ideals, fndaments, axioms and
so-called necessites. It is this spontaneous threat against the
interiority of the system or formaton fom wit tllal nO
politcal system or agency u willing to acknowledge, for
it is exactly the admission of such a resident tlrreat - the
cllemcal evil of decay - tllat casts doubts on one's politcal
agenda or tlle legacy of an emancipatory socio-politcal
formation. In short, to profoundly doubt the interiority of
one's politcs or political agency can hardly be anything
other than a real politcalfux _u
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World poltcs and its systems - whether erected on the
side of outight repression or on the side of emancipation -
have every reason to be wa of a politcs of decay, because
the ultimate truth of decay is that it is a building process
that builds a nested maze of interiorities whereby ainteri
orized horizons or fOlmations are exteriored in unimag
inably twisted ways. To put it simply, decay is a process
tat exteriorizes all interiorites via their own forma or
ideal resources (capital?); and in doing so, its politics
and schemes of complicity operate not on behalf of the
interiority of te horizon (of any kind) but rather on behaf
of the exteriority which demands their infection to the
outside. For ths reason, we shal simultaneously explcate
the weirdly-resident, or undercover, exterioraton of
decay in regard to space and time so as to subsequently
draw out a fonnalism of decay's dynamic process wherein
the abstract matheme of decay gais a chemical disposition,
and tlle chemist of putefaction is distibuted i a math
ematcal space. The embracig of a politcs of decay as
a buildig process toward eteriority, and tile possibility
of political interventon against decaying forations,
botll demand a systematc ivestigaton tIlat criss-crosses
territories associated with chemisty, mathematic, biolog,
geophilosophy and ontology. Witlout such a preparator
investigation, one risks either over-aestletcising decay
as tile fetish of the age, or falling ito a moral credulous
ness tlat sooner or later wil host a politcal parasite which
cannot tolerate any doubt regading tile wholesome
ness of its iteriority. As a mere overture to tile politcs
of decay, tllls essay, accordingly, proceeds to expound on
the calculus of putefacton - togetller wu tie reason as
to why we associate decay with calculus - w;u respect
to its conceptons of space, time, form and dynamism.
Since decay is tle intensive destny of terrestrial life and
ecology, tellurian formatons and earthly tIOught, a geophi
losophy or tell urian politcs mat does nOt infect upon its
intensive destny has its head speaking entrely non
metaphorically - in me clouds.
The frst axiom of mis essay is mat decay is a building
process; it has a cllemical slant and a diferental (hen
open to mathematical formalisation) dynac ditributon.
Ile process of decay builds new states of extensity, affect,
magnitude and even itegrity fom and out of a system or
formation vVmout nullifing or reforming it. TIle decaying
formaton is dispossessed of its chances to die or to liv
wholesomely, to be abolished, reformed or delivered
its origin. For mis reason, decay is an irresolute process
building mat potentiates achitectures which, whlst inftely
open to new sytheses and tansformatons, cannot undergo
complete annulment or rerurn to mei original form
One of the basic questions regarding decay as a buldin
process is, tIlUs far, me question of its vectorial aligI1ent:
Is decay a positve or a negative building process? Th
answer is mat me building process of decay is subtacti
which is to say, it is concurrently intensively negat
and e.xtensively positive. Just as me vector of perpetal
subo'acton adds t the subtracted aount by deducting
from what is subtracted, the process of decay genera
diferential forms by ltopicaly subh'acting from the
rotten object. Ths process is maifested vividly i a rott
fruit as it generates gradients of decay and differentiates
into dose and distt delivatves, whilst at me same time
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progressively shrivelling. The difIerental or germinal
derivatives of the rottng fruit - its rancid smell, maggots,
colour changes, secreted enzymes, etc. constitute the
positve building vector of decay which extends outardly.
Yet the shriveling body of the fruit as it contnuously
shrins forms the negatve building vector of decay. A
long as the fuit shrivels, it gives rise to its derivatves or
gradations of decay. I fact, the longer and more the object
shrivels, the more remote and distat - hence weirder
- its putid derivatves and differental forms become.
The process of decay, therefore, exacerbates the blackenng
indeterminacy aready enu'enched at the heart of subtactve
cosmogenesis: It is no longer possible to determine how
much one can lose or shrk before it becomes void and
zero or how much one c spew forth and generate before
it becomes nature or God.
Confronting the problem of te ifnil pestec of
the decaying object, it becomes increasingly difcult to say
when the process of decay ceases to exist and is supplanted
by complete ontological annulment or extncton. However,
te problem of infnitesial persistence (ecoming itely
close to zero but never efectively becoming zero) poses yet
another perlexng quandary in regard to the process of
decay, a problem which c be summarized a follows: If
the decayng object never completely disappears, and, i
so far as it contnues to become less, generates derivatves
and maitains a germial capacity, then does this mean
that death never occurs and th. e minimally surviving
object can never be flly exteriorized? A afrmative
answer to this question surely risks advocatng a form
of vitalism that i ultimately unable to t exteriorty.
A outight negative answer c also lead to a form of
utopian naivety for which the outide - viz. inecton upon
death ad binding exteriorty is always available and
at hand. I order to examine the process of decay whilst
avoiding such tortuous taps, we propose that decay as a
building process renegotiates - or simply tit - te loci for
the efectuaton of architecture, exteriorizaton and binding
death. In brief, the process of decay fnds and develops
a diferent site for the unlateral power of negativity.
The initesimal persistence of the decaying object - in
other words, its lim.topic convergence upon zero - and
correspondingly, its unceasing germinal power in decay,
should not be examined in 311 isolated manner. I decay,
the infmtesimal persistence of the decaying object marks a
limitopic line of transiton along which te interiority of one
decaying object falls back onto the interiority of its const
tutive ideas, and those ideas in turn are undone to other
fndamental interiorities whose intinsic nature is exterior
to the decayng object. A the ideas break ito their more
fndanental but minmal ideas, the infitesimal persistence
of the object becomes asymptotc to the extinction of the
object. Correspondingly, i in t subtactve logic of decay,
rvlg (viz. residing witin te interiority of what is left)
me311S rig ls (viz. moving in the directon of
fundanlental interiorites which consttuted the horizon of
what had previously remained), then to remain indefntely
means to ltropically converge upon zero. Therefore,
athough the iward and depthwise movement toward the
consttutve ideas or the ideal substatum whic m3l1ifests
itself as 'remaining less' happens only within the confes
of different horizons of interiority, its dynamism limitopi
cally embraces the zer q ia. I doing so, the interiorized
movement becomes asymptotic to a lne of exteriorizaton
upon which death is inected, and objectal persistence i
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decay becomes an asymptotc expression of loosening into
the abyss.
I order to simplif the above argument, we shall
deVelop a spatial model for decay whereby both the inf
tesimal persistence of the decaying object (i.e. a horizo
of interiority) and its outward diferential productivity
become the essential vectors of a process of exterorization
- a ar t method of binding exteriort. 11e reason why,
in decay, binding exteriority occurs i such a twisted way,
comes down to the following: living things undergo decay,
not so much because decay and life come hand-in-hand, as
because the living - whether living on a biological level or
not - secures a horizon of interiority whose envelopment
must be exteriorized according to the differenta rates or
gradients that bind the horion to that which i exterior
to it. I other words, if decay is most frequently associated
with life, it i because the manifestatons of life are al
founded on horizons of interiority. All that is interiorized
If the process of buiding i not exclusive to archtec
tre and if, wherever building as a process i actalised,
archtecture too is potentiated, then the locus of architec
ture can also be renegotiated. Architectre and it soco
political aspects can be approached in territories where
they are least expected. We cl this architecture wt a
anomalous locus, ex s architecture. The process of decay
as a buiding process, as we wilelaborate in what follows,
generates an ex st architecture where what is built cannot
not be dwelled or grounded i any possible way. Because
what is in the process of being built, in this ca
se, is a nested
exteriority wherein one interiorized horizon (such as the
orgam) falls back upon its precursor exteriority, which
itelf is aother interiorzed horizon built upon an exterior
horizon which is in the process of loosening into its abyssal
backdrop. Just as the lines of envelopment and growth for
any horizon of interiority (whether the organism, earth,
sun, or matter on the cosmic level) are convoluted and
circuitous paths (umwege) toward the precursor exteriority,
the line of exteriorizaton is also a circuitous pat drawn
along and through the horizons of interiority which fall
back, decompose and loosen into each other.
Consider a elucidating - albeit reductve - example:
Terrestrial organisms mark the organic interiority
enveloped against the inorgaic materials which under
hospitable conditons can envelope the potencies of life. A
hoth the vessel and the medium of complicity for inorganic
materials, Earth is yet another interiorized horizon which
is set aganst its immediate source of energy, the Sun.
Howevel; the solar empire is, in the sae vein, an iteriority
enveloped and detennined against its exterior cosmic
bacdrop. This nested continuum of interiorities goes on
to the material substatum of all horions. Yet even mat
as the fundamental requirement for embodiment and
materialisation is an enveloped horizon whose interiority
and supposed necessity is a roundabout expression of a
refactory indifferent universe in whic even matter is an
interiorized hence idealised - contingency Accordingly,
what decay or putrefaction draws is a line of exteriorization
toward the precursor exteriority. The organism decomposes
into its inorganic telTestial environment, the telluran
bedrock is i turn decaying into the solar horizon a te
Sun's thermonuclear decay dissipates the star ito its cosmic
backdrop, whose materal veneer, in turn, is peelg away.
Decay draws a line of exteliorizaton which taverses
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the nested interiorities in order to asymptotically bind
exteriority. Therefore its dynamism is subjected to difer
ential bonds which connect and nest these interiorities
within each other. For ths reason, such a diferencal line of
exteriorizaton or' dissolution into conceptless exteriority is
neitIler manifestly a reum to an ideal origin nor a decontrac
ln back into me originary exteriority where even matter
enjoys no privilege of any kind. T is because decay's
line of exteriorizaton builds a space of complcity between
horizons of interiorty wherein the uniateral power of exte
riorization is mathematically and cemcally contorted.
This contortion or twist happens in a specifc fashon:
That which is exteriorized or dissolved into its precrsor
exteriority becomes a diferential interpolaton of a nested
series of interiorices whose limtropic convergence upon
zero (i.e. ieclion upon death) has a weirdly chemical
- thus contingent ad productve disposition which
siultaneously forecloses the idea of retur to the ideal
origin and diferentally convolutes me pat of decontac
ton to the originary Ratline of death. Let us
me reasons why the process of decay does not abide by
te laws of return to te ideal origin and me energetco
dynamic principles of decontacton:
The site where decay's process of exteriorizaton is
effectuated is the interiority of the horizon. Therefore,
the course of exterorizaton conform to the differen
tial felds enveloped inside or extended foi tIle inte
riorized horizon. Decay loosens up me interiority of
the horizon, frstly wough exploiting the horizon's
own differental links between its actualites and
potencies; secondly by conforming to the differen
tial bonds between me interiority of the horizon and
its precursor exteriority. Yet precursor exteriority
(whether as the material, systematc, formal or ideal
fundament, as in the case of inorganic materials and
the organic horizon) is itself an iteriorized horzon
determned by it iner ad outer diferental bonds.
This nestedness of interiorities wherein every idea
or form diferentially - and in this case regresively
- inflects the next idea or form keeps decay's line of .
exteriority in conformity with the diferentia bonds
and the increasing infectons of the nested horizons of
interiority. Therefore, decay's process of exterioriza
tion does not bind the outside fom without so much
as it binds the exteriority from Vrthin nested horizons
of interiorty. Tlus binding of exteriority, however, is
in confomuty with differential fields inherent to eac
horizon of interiority as well as inter-cOImectve difer
ental bonds between these nested horizons. Conse
quently, the course of decay's process of exteriorization
is conducted in accordance with spatal involutions,
differental rates and modes of distribution immanent
to nested interiorities. Sice courses of exteriorizaton
are subjected to differential peculiarites and twists of
the nested space of interiorities, efects of exterioriza
tion - tllat is to say, the efects of binding exteriority
and infecting upon deatl1 on interiorized horizons and
formations - are also expressed i different ways. For
tlus reason, the persistent involvement of nested inte
riOl"ites undoubtedly complicates tlle philosophical,
political and social implications of binding exteriority,
infectng upon death and extinction, for all forations
and systems (from basic terrestial formatons to
social netorks, political systems and the horizon of
thought)_ I decay, what is considered as the bedrock
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of te originary turns into a slimy swamp of nested
interiOl'ites where the bottom is always too soft and
unsolid to hold or ground anythng. T11e sinking is
neither swift nor clean .
The differential and regressive movement through
nested horzons of interiority which the process of
decay undertakes is not unidirectional and simplex,
since, as argued above, this process confrms to the
space of interiorites, whch are nested within each
other, not according to a one-to-one line of correspon
dence but according to a differential and multplex
nested structure. For example, in decay an idea qua an
index of interiority is not merely dif erentialy founded
on one precursor idea but on a multitude of other
fundamental and constitutive ideas whch temselves
are also inflected within different ideas. T11e image
that the nested space of interiorites - a the site of
decay - calls to mnd is not a unidirectiona tunnel of
connected niches whose size and qualities are unformly
changing, but rather a rabbit warren 0 a worm-ridden
cheese where every niche or hole opens into numerous
smaller or larger interconnected cavers and holes. A
the liquid that enters the frst nche seeps into all such
connected caverns, the gradationally rottng object,
idea or formton also oozes, or more accurately, is
exteriorized into the multitude of interiorites inside
which it is nested. The model of exteriorization, in
t sense, follows (1) the instantaneous rate of change
between the decayng interiorized horizon and those
non-uniformly nested interiorities into whch it is being
exteriorized, and (2) the instantaneous rate of change
between the inter-cOIl ected multtude of interorities
which are diferentially exterior to te decaying horizon
of interiority. TI1e idea X is inflected back upon its
nested fndamental ideas which are themselves differ
entally interconnected (X inects back to XI' Y, Z, D,
F, Z3> Yl' D2 Y2D3) }. The process of decay,
accordingly, traverses multple ever-changing ideas
or variables (as indexes of interiority). Therefore, in
order to dif erentially exteriorize or putefy an object,
the process of decay must operate according to te
instantaeous rate of change not ony between the
decaying object (the variable X) and nested inleri
orites gradationally exterior to it, but also betvveen
those interiorites l variables into which X is litopi
caly diminishing. TIle instanteous rate of change,
accordingly, is calculated between X and Xl' Y, Z, D,
F, Z3' ... as well as between Xl' Y, Z, D, F, Z3'
.... themselves. TIle interconnected and nested space
of interiorites, for ts reason, requires that decay
operate as a instantaneous rate of change between
diferent horizons of interiority or points of infecton.
It is this ability to exteriorize a horizon of interiority
via the relation - vi. nested interconnectons - betv een
exterior horizons wuO:themselves are being exterior
ized - and thus changing that posits the process of
decay as the blackening counterpart of the differen
tial calculus. TIlls is because differential cculus is a
techque to detemine and calculate the instantaneous
rate of change between dferent uniformly or difory
changing variables. Just as Leibniz's soluton for
calculatng the instantaneous rate of change beteen
different changig variables ivolved the concept of
infnitesimas, decay exteriorizes an object into its
exterior backdrop through te limitropic shrinkng of
Negarestani - Undercover Softness
te object. For a decaying object, what is considered
the exterior backdrop - as argued earlier is a nested
space of iteriorites whose complicites do not allow
the process of exteriorization to be vectorially unidirec
tional, SlTcturally uncomplicated or, as a consequence,
unproblematc. 1 "lif' betwee interiolis cnnot be
undone ( dcontraled iu a simpl fahio, fr such cl
es difeet flds which c on9' be exteorzed b 0
sbtractve log, chemicl tedmiues amathticl dynamism
q/ dcy as a builing jJTOcSS m a model i cl. The
political implications of decay as a model of complicity
corresponding to te origial ideas buried in differen
tal calculus call for a thorougbgoing investigation into
the calculus of decay .
The diferentially regressive plunge of decay into the
dept of nested interiorities always fnds a extensive
echo in the form of differential reverberations of rot.
TI1ere is no depthwise putrefaction or n._:d without
the wrigglng of worms on the surface and te mephitic
extension of the rottig object into te air. Decay's
intensive exteriorization of nested interiorities has a
outward productive expression which is subtractvely
correlated to te blackening line that traverses the
confnes of nested iteriorities. Te more enveloped
and interioried the horizon, the more chemically
productve iu extension to the outside. It is as if the
degree of interiorizaton - that is to say, the spatial
confnement of t he horizon and te amount of capitl
enveloped for sustenance and development - is diectly
proportonal to the chemical fertlity of the horizon
when it begins to extend outside of its confnes.
Here, the degree of interiorization does not become
an impeding factOr for the extensive loosenig of the
horzon, but contibutes to the differental extension
of the horizon to the outside as well as the chemical
- hence contigently dynamic - productvty of the
horizon during decay. Ths ilogical proportionality
between the insistence on remaining interiorized and
the spontaneous chemical loosening ito te outside
shares more with the laws of the grave tan with the
laws of nature - the putidly productive amalgaation
of the restrictons of wm and the confes of tap/lOs.
We argued that decay is neither wholly negatve nor
wholly positve; it i rather subtractve. Te subo'active
logic of decay suggests tat decay does not merely
build the nested horizons of iteriorites as an intensive
limio'opic vector toward zero but that it also builds via
extensive deployment of interiorites so as to create a
dynamically contingent universe. Leibniz - following
the proto-scientic ideas i the Middle Ages frequently
uses a an example tlle model of a rottng body (usually
cheese) whose remaining perforated body suggests an
intensive limitopic convergence upon zero. Yet tlus
intensive movement in the iteriority of the object,
manifested as shrinkage, canot exst witout anotller
opposite movement which extends the body ito the
outside in the form of contgently diferenLiated
ideas or smaller bodies. At the same time as tle apple
shrivels, it spews forth worms as extensively deployed
and hence dyamically contngent interiorites. These
worms or derivatives in tm envelop smaller worm
and frther derivatives which contain yet smaller
bodies a il itm . . . al ready to heave forth and be
extensively deployed i n the most contingent manners.
Ts appled dynamics of contngency marks the rise
Negarestani Undercover Softness
of chemistr as a process commencing from withi.
T he subtactve movement of decay's blackenng
line of exteriorizaton through nested horizons of
interiority produces two functions: frstly, a liitopic
convergence upon zero dubbed wplUii{ ad formally
epressed as progressive shinage; secondly, a differ
ental extension or divergence from the object, caled
explicti and expressed in the form of a dynaic and
contngent process of productvity. C(plictio ad
explUii are subtactively correlated, in such a way
that dle intensive interiority of coliti contributes
to dle extensive deployment of interiorites i exli.
The decaying idea, in this sense, not only undergoes
a nested twist as it limitopically approaches the u 0
ia, but aso a productive tist as it i subtracted to dIe
outside. For this reason, decay's process of exteriora
ton is in complcit y wi interiorities and their difer
ental felds on two levels: (1) the intensively enveloped
- hence nested interiorit of the decaying idea or
rottng object; (2) the extensively developed interiori
tes which are diferentated fom ie rotting object and
whose contgent world points to a dynamic chemist
which enforces the irruptve contngencies of time
mobilized throug te involutions of space. To sum up,
decay's le of exteriorizaton has, weidly, a productve
dispositon which generates extensively and contin
gently distributed differentia felds (or sites of chemical
actvity). TIle erupton of these explicated diferenta
felds reinforces the necessity for a complicity between
ilie process of exteriorization (vi binding exteriority
ad ifecton upon death) and horizons of interiority,
whether a fundaental terrestrial fonnatons or socio
poltcal grounds and networks.
Te three reasons enumerated above briefy explain the
complicatons that the process of decay brings about for
the idea of return to the orig, and for a philosophy based
on the implicatons of binding extcton and decontac
ton into originary death. Yet they also diagram the spatial
model in which the process of decay operates. In order
to present a formalism of decay which provides us with
a mathematcal model for decay's dyasm, we must, in
additon to decay's concepton of space, exae decay's
conception of tme. For this reason, we shall inquire into
decy's conception of time and how it is expressed by the
spatal involutons generated by decay's lie of exterioriza
ton as it taverses nested interiorites.
Te process of decay has a spatial model comprised
of intensive envelopment and extensive development, and
whose subtractve correlation creates diferential fields
which a sites for the generaton of abstract twists and
deformites. I other words, these sites spatally nan ate
chemic actvites potentated by tme's contigencies;
actvities whose irruption endows the spatal plot with
a holey and porous underside. Chemsty, therefore,
as applied dynamics wherein contingencies of time are
extensively enforced by

the iolutions of space, requires
a third concepton of tme whereby absolute contgencies
of tme can operate fom wt the interiority of a horizon.
If putefacton marks the begnning of chemisty, its
subtactivelyproductive process needs such a concepton
of time so as to mobilise the contigencies of tme as
the chemcal traces of those spatal ivolutons ad
Negarestani - Undercover Softness
envelopments whch are asymptotic with the conceptless
exteriorily of space. This brings us to more fndamental
questions concerg the role of te in any poltcs or
philosophy incorporatng decay as the building process
of its formations or ideas: What is the relaton of decay
or putrefaction to te? Is decay a narratve conception
of tme's indifference t ontic differences, or is it te
experience of time as presence which in a Heideggerian
fashion - turns death into an innitely-deferred occurrence
through Dael's already-dying? What exacty is the role of
time in decay, and does this role reinscribe the correlatonist
appropriation of te through experience and presence, or
amount to an idealism which favours and plivileges tme
over space? And fmally, i tme is imbued with radical
contngencies whih suspend al afcts and relationships
t1rough the idiference of tme as
impenetrable alterity,
then how can decay as a building process bring about the
opportunities of complicilY belWeen the involutons of
space and contingencies of tme? It is evident that decay's
concepton of time, which emphasizes the role of tme in the
chemisty of decay, is so pivotal that it determines different
conceptions of decay and putefaction. Decay as a roman
ticize concept, decay as a necrocratic fetish, decay as a
diferental form of emptiess, decay as an urnwe
e (maze)
toward base-matter and decay as an ontological fate, are all
decided by different conceptons of time, i itself and in its
relaton to space.
The chemical potency of putrefacton (tes) whch
decomposes the object into other horons of interiOi
ties across ite latitudes of forms, attests to the fact
that there is a complicity belWeen irruptive contingen
cies of tme and spatal folds and ifectons of space.
l1rough such complicty, the diachroncity of tme and the
exteriority of space are evinced by each other: Whilst space
is perforated by tme's emptiness or fundamental indiffer
ence, time's contngency is formally expressed by space's
unbound ferocity for the assimlation of any ground of indi
viduaton. It is ths collective fold of complicty neither
demanding a conronaity between the parties involved
nor the substitution of either of them by the other that
makes decay an unwholesome participation between the
most abominable aspects of time (non-belonging and pure
contngency) and the most degenerate aspects of space
(space's tendency for infi nite involutons which undermine
any potenta ground for the emergence of discrete entties).
It is the complicity between the worst nightaes of space
and tme that brings about the possibility
of putefacton
(even a infite decay) as a diferentia form of iesolvable
emptiness disguised as idea objectivity with a generatve
twist. To tink of u ipregnable hollowness endowed
\ith a generative proclivity, one can envisage a itel
porous abomination, an obscene hollowness, folded and
mobiised in such a way that it has an objectal grimace:
The mediaeval dm: depiction of the Tree of Rot -
a 'diforml y diformly diforry ciform's (Nicole Ore me)
tee um whch spews forth a cosmic range of both
familiar and nameless ceatures as a diferental extension
of it arborescent emptess.
The complicity between space and tie - that u,between
the dynamism of inflectons and the irruption of contingen
cies brings forth the possibility of chemist a the concom
itantly softening and loosening dynamism of putefacton.
5. Se L. T,omdikc, 'An Aon
mous lre,uisc in Six Books all Metaphysics ad
Nalurl Philoso
', T,e Philosophical Review 40,110.4, 1931: 317-.
Negarestani - Undercover Sofmess
the chemical space of decay, putrefaction exposes
te obect to the contingencies of time so as to thaw the
object's idea integrity and initate its loosening into the
conceptIess involutions of space. u order to explcate the
nature of this compliciry as an intinsic act for the chemical
dynamism of putrefaction, fst we must clarif the modes
of complicity at work here. Ltme belongs to no one and is
absolutely idifferent to ontic diferences, then how can its
worst nightares participate with space? Ad if, notwith
standing such irresolvable iconnensurability, time ad
space can indeed participate with each other, then how
c this partcipation be conceived outside of the correla
tionist abit? Our conjectural s
oluton for these problems
conceming a blackening complicity betvveen space ad
time consists of two stages: I the frst stage, our soluton
entails the implementation of two conception of time.
On the basis of these two conceptons, we seek to bridge
the exteriority or diachronicity of absolute tme ad te
exterioDly of space. This means that i addition to the
absolute concepton of tme, an intermediary conception
u also required. The intermediating time must be inter
connected with the absolute conception of tme (i.e. time
a an indiferently impenetrable alterity that belongs to
nothing and no one) as a manifestation of te latter's pure
contingency. Iother words, the intermediating conception
of time should itself be a producton of absolute time's pure
contngency which suspends a natural laws, obstuct
the operation of belonging and nullifes ontc differences.
To put it differently, te intermediary concepton of time
should itself be a symptomatc production of absolute tie's
pure contngenc. Acor th interditing time des not
sugest a diwtomoU scissin tn h but a uoamcontnget
cotin 1uabsolute f. Only tile vital temporality of this
intermediating tme c bring about the possibility of
ontological diference in relation to appropriated regions
(scales) of space.
Space-tinle syntheses necessary to support ontological
determiation require the bifurcaton of TillIe into two
diferent but interconnected conceptions. Without such a
bifration, absolute tme and thanatropic space remain
inherently exterior to each other and cannot ground the
conditons for ontological detenninaton on ay level. It was
the Stoics who for the frst time flly realised the necessity
of having diferent conceptions of tme wit the am
explaining the vita syntheses of time and space. I order
to explain the intensive vitalit of determination qua difer
ence-in-itself, Deleuze adapts and ingeniously modifes the
Stoic model so as to develop ad employ two conceptions
of time, the time of alon and the tme of chronos.6 Since te
indefnite non-pulsed tme of alon is inherently closed to vital
bodies, tllere must be anoter conception of tme capable
of synthesizing with the scales of space and supporting
vital vibrations. Ths second concepton of time is tlle
pulse-tme of cil -onos, which supports organic vtalites and
provides time wt qualities compatible with tlle stcture
of corporeal beings. Accordigly, the frst al:caJ-slablnhzJ
stage of our solution requires tl1e bifrcaton of Time intO
two diferent but interconnected oc. Following Deleuze,
but in contast to his quasi-Heideggerian reading of tme,
tl1ese two conceptons are reabsorbed in tls fashion:
6. See }oaSeilars, 'Alon and Cltronos: Ddell>c and the Stoic 111cor of Tme:
Negarestani Undercover Softness
\ . The ungraspable and cosmic time which belongs
to nothing and no one. It is te absolute time of pure
contngencies or cosmc climates whch unilateraly
suspends alaws and eliminates anecessites.
2. The temporal conception of time, which is time
insofar as we experience it and which, therefore,
is characterised by the access to it presence rather
tha its quiddity ]crc. Yet, even more importantly,
the temporal conception of time supports the
temporality of beings by providing the conditions
for their ontological determination and emergence.
These conditions are nothing but the contngen
cies of the cosmic and absolute tme. The temporal
conception of time, accordingly, envelops and
foregrounds contngencies of absolute tme in the
form of conditions for the emergence of life (or the
subject of temporality) . Therefore, the temporal
concepton of time is a interiorized or bounded
form of absolu te tme, a temporal set wherein contn
gencies are taken as conditions for the determnation
and the continuaton qua temporality of existence.
In other words, temporal time posits the contingen
cies of absolute tme as dcground for te determi
naci on of difference and ontc emergence, through
a bracketg and interiorizing of tose pure contin
gencies. We call this temporal concepton of time,
vtal tme or the tme of determinations and making
diferences. Consttutve to te ground of life, vital
time is accentuated in the organic realm through
the compatibility of its interiorized and sequental
structure with the sequental growth or the rhythmic
difference of organic interiority. u other words,
the interiorized contngencies of vital tme become
s tructrally compatble with te involutons or
interiorized horizons of space. Witout such basic
s(llctur compatibility between space and tme
albeit at the cost of their envelopment and inte
riOlizaton - ontological determinaton and the
emergence of on tic diferences which are tied to
spaCe-tl le syntheses ae impossible.
Vital tme - the intermediary conception of tme -
emerges fom the cosmic tl le of pure contingencies as
' an interiorized set of contingences'. A a temporal set,
vital tme interorizes contngencies as its elements. Sie
the function of the set is interiorization, it can intensivdy
detere the contgencies of absolute tme as conditons
for the emergence of life, or as necessites for makg
difference. I the process of interiorizing contngencies a
realizing them a concomitantly temporal and necessar
conditons, vi tl tme appropriates the exteriorily of cosmic
tl le and turs it into an inteliorized conception of time
accessible by life and its manifestatons. Yet the cosmic te
of non-belonging and pure contngencies can never be fuly
appropriated or assimilated (inteliorized) by vital tme a
its temporal conception. Tis is because vital time is itse
contngent upon cosmic time a a teoal cotn for t
interiorization and bracetng of absolute tl le's contin
gencies and their realisation a the conditons requied for
the emergence of life. Tis means tat since vital tme i
itelf a temporal conditon qa coti of cosmc tme,
it cannot fuly interiorie the exteriority of absolute r
qua pure contgencies. Vital tme suggests only one of t
ite pure contingencies of absolute te; its fndament
Negarestani Undercover Softness
functions are simultaneously supported and derailed by
other contngencies. For ts reason, contgencies of
cosmic tie are never flly reintegrated and absorbed
within the manifestations of life (viz. realised horizons of
interiority) conditioned by 'ital time. To put it differently,
vital time can be interiorized by beigs as the necessary
condition for their emergence because it is itself an inte
riorized concepton of cosmic tme's pure contngency.
This brings us to aother problem whch constittes the
s econd stage of our conjectural solution to the problem
of complicity betvveen space and tUne necessary for te
chemical dynamism of putefacton.
I cosmic tme can never fly be appropriated by and
within vital time, ten the horions of interiorty inherent to
manifestations of lie or ontc differences canot assimilate
and appropriate the contngencies of cosmic time either.
Consequently, the iteriority of le is a host or a niche for
the inassinlllable contingencies of cosmic tme - contngen
cies that never completely lurned into temporal conditions
with vital rme but remained part of the unilateral ecology
of the cosmic abyss withn ,tal tie's temporal set. Briefy,
vital te interiorizes contingencies of the cosmic abss
i order to form its temporality; however, there are stll
contngencies of cosmic time which, despite being iterior
ized, defy assimilation by the laws of the temporal set that
turns contingencies into vital conditions. These iteriorized
yet inassiilable contngencies, consequently, implement
the unilateral ecology of the cosmi abyss fom within vt
time and consequently, fom witin an interiorized horizon
such as the organism or the planet. I conditoning the
emergence of life, vital time intodnces the nightares of
cosmic tinle into the phenomena of life. The horizon of
interiority inherent to the manifestations of life becons
an incubatg chamber for the pure contngencies ad
non-belonging of cosmic time. It is this non-belongng qa
principle of negativity that is mobilized by the dynamis
intinsic to involutions of space. TIle subtactve process of
decay is the outcome of such spatial mobilisaton wherey
the unilaterality of cosmic tme undelpinned by its irruptive
contngencies gains a subtactve - tat is, extensivdy
positve and intensively negative - momentum throuh
infectons of space. As an outcome of its complic
with space, time's unilateral negatvity is inlposed on me
horizon of interiority in a way that forces the horizon to le
concUlTently swept away along the extensity of space amd
intensively shattered on zero qua the eteraL
Thus cosmic tme is deployed inside vital time an,
correspondingly, inside the life or the horizon of interioriy
tat is conditioned by vital time. This remobilisation of
cosmic tme's exteriority and redeployment of its contge
cies witlnn vita time and manstations of life posits a tllid
concepton of tme wInch constttes the second stage of or
conjectural soluton. The blackening complicity betWOn
space ad time can only be flly explained via recoUJse
to a thd concepton of tme which is always implict - as
an internal tension - to the dyadic concepton of tme. We
call the tIlrd concepton of tme, the rcontilicosic
te. It is conceived of a a teacherous insider insofar as
it intemalizes the complcity between time's diachroniciy
and tle exteriority of space witlln the manifestations of le
and the horizons of interiority. The concepton of cosmic
te as the insider redefnes mintermediay concepcion of
vital tme a a ' temporal agent' that brings with it into life's
horizons of interiorit the contngencies ad non-belongil g
Negarestani Undercover Softess
of cosmic time. In other words, te insider conception of
cosmic tTe interiorizes and cultivates the incomensu
rable tensions between cosmic contgencies withn life
and its manifestatons - thereby giving cosmic ecology an
eruptve (i.e. volcanically extlllsive) expression rather than
an intusive insinuation.
In the wake of the insider concepton of te, the
termnation of life does not excel mark the temporality
of life qua its contngency, because the very interiority of
life (its difference and internal vitalit)') can unfold as the
abyssal innity of material and ontological contingencies
whose irruption is equal to death. unfolding of cosmic
tme's pure contngency thrugh life and by lie is expressed
by decay as a dysteleological process. I d+u sense, life's
interiorit is a medium for the cultvaton of incommen
surable tensions between the contngencies of cosmic
time. And decay u the germinaly-cultivated expression
of thes e incommensurable tensions or contingencies along
ifnite involutons of space - a complicity between tme's
subtractve enmity to belonging and the enthusiasm of
space for dissolution of any ground for individuation, a
partcipation between cosmic time's pure contngency and
the infnite ivolutions of space from whose lTapS nothing
can escape.
The process of putrefacton or decay accentuate the
compulsion to return toward pure contingencies of cosmic
tme trough the third conception of tme (i.e. cosmic tme
as insider tme) . This so-called 'compulsion to return'
instigated by the isider concepton of time becomes a
source of tension beteen the principles of cosmi
c time
(i.e. contingency and non-belongg) and the temporal
conditions o necessities of vital tme. These contingent
and subtactve tensions are nanated by the degenerate
qualites of space through the process of decay in the form
of a progressive softening of forms and loosening of the
horizon. We can say that i decay space is perforated by
tme: Although tme hollows out space, it is space that gives
tme a n"ist that abnegates the privlege of tme over space
and expresses the inepressible contngencies of absolute
time through dynamic and formal means. This infective
mobiisation of cosmc tme's radical contingencies heralds
the birth of chemisty as the blackening complicity between
tme and space. I
is chemsbl' that endows the subtractve
process of decay with a putidly productve natre.
The subtactve dynamsm of decay is generated on
the basis of a complicity belween space and tme whch
allows for the chemical loosening of te horizon of
interority along nested inflectons that are simultaneously
extensive and intensive to the horizon. The dynamism of
decay utilizes the complicity between space and tme as
the principle for an unconstained deformabilty where
loosening and softenig - the lytic functons of chemsty
and the smoothing fnctions of diferental calculus, i. e.
mathesis - are intertwined and unbound. Yet such uncon'
stained deformabilit is lTanslated, as elaborated above,
into the intensive complicity of nested interiorities as
well as the complicity of interiorites in their extensive
deployment. Through these intensive and extensive planes
of complicity, interiorized horizons asymptotcally bind
the exteriority of space and the diachoncity of tme.
Negarestan - Undercover Sofmess
The asymptotic binding of exteriority requires a inter
polating dynaism capable of traversing al interiorities
complicit in the process of exteriorization as changing
variables whose ratio must be calculated. To put it
diferently, since interiorities are always in complicity with
each other, the process of exterioriation must fnd a way,
fstly, to grasp interiorities in terms of their complicities;
and secondly, to conduct exteriorization based on the
dynamic factors, elements and variables brought about by
such complicites. Exteriorizaton is not possible vthout
factoring in and actng upon the complicites between
interiorized horizons. Yet actng upon such complici
tes characterized by dynaic relationships and rates of
change betv een horizons of interiority requires a soluton
reminiscent of difTerential calculus, a soluton capable
of calculatg the instantaneous rate of change between
changing vari ables.
The soluton of decay's process of exteriorization
for the problem of changing and complicit interiortiesl
variables is the limitopic decomposition of the object
or formation. Only though the limitropic movement
of the object or foraton toward zero (whether as the
conceptless exteriority of space or te diachronic eterali!y
of lie), c the process of exteriorzation cut through
the complicity between interiorites which is too differ
entially convoluted to be disentangled or decontacted
through regressive thana topic movement. Te limitropic
wastng or subtraction of tile object (or formation) along
its extensive and intensive vectors does not allow for the
complete eradication of te object's ontologkal registers,
stuctural fundaments or operatng aiom. The effect of
such funitropic \'3stage, in whic me formation i loosened
and softened to no end yet leaves taces which linger as Jc
agents and pacles of complicity, has a stong socio-polit
ical undertone. Even after a politcal formation trns into
a unrecognizable corpse, where all of its stuctural and
operative infuences have presumably vanished, there still
remain actve stuctura fundanlents ad fnctional axioms
from tat formaton without whose complicity the political
calculus of world politcs carlot possibly be formed. For,
once again, in decay the relationship or change between
horizons of interiorities (as entites inb"insicaly susceptble
to decay) is possible only through Ilmitropic deterioraton
toward a ze ofi11y . The limitropic deterioraton brings
about the possibility of the diferential interpolaton of te
decaying horizon between other interiorized horizons and,
as a result, instgates the constuction of a universal calculus
of putrefction. It is this lmitropic deterioration that
intoduces the lingering and persistent axiomatc remnant
of the decaying formaton to an unsuspecting utt-oct:al
calculus, as minute but ieradicable agents of complicit
Neither flly negatng the system by overthrowing
it nor reaffirming it through reformaton, te process of
decay imposes a perpetual deformability on the formaton
without completely erasing its ontolohtical registers and
functonal axioms. In short, decay extacts infnite defoml
abiit fom an interiorized horizon without eventuating
m radical erasure or complete tansformaton. Such
perpetual defommbility is supported by the intensive and
extensive complicity of horions of interiorites i the form
of an unbreakable contnuity in whch every hOl;ZOll of
interiorit either infects the next or is nested withn yet
another horizon. Accordingly, it i the ceaseless continuity
- in the sense of intensive and extensive infections
forms and interiorites - that impats a fuid continuity t
Negarestani - Undercover Softess
the rottng object without essentally turning it into fuid.
Each form is ony gtionlpreceded ad succeeded by
other forms m such a way that transition along lattudes
(of forms) is always blurred. The gadients of deformities
are differentally smooth, to the extent that the formal
dynamism of rot appeas to be that of sludge or oozing
flesh. I decay, the solid undergoes a Bowing series of
deformations without becoming liquid, or in other words,
without losing its basic principles of solidi ty. The wholeness
or coherency of the solid is derailed withn the fundamental
principles of solidity. In a simila fashion, in pUh"efacton
the liquid's degeneraton vacillates between solid and gas,
slime or miasma, but i n either case it remains fndaen
tally - albeit minimally - liquid. This minimum body of
the element, horizon, formation or object, mfact suggests
its concomitant asymptotc exteriorization and limtropic
diminution. Recall Bishop Berkeley's sneering deprecation
of infnitesimal calculus as deaing with the 'ghosts of
departed quantities';7 the decayig object, indeed, is an
evanescent yet lingerig ontologi cal regster that is less than
a thng but more u+anothing.
Supported by the complicity of interiorites, the
continuity of forms or the gradients of deform abilit ensure
that the interiorized horizon is always formalized as a fuxion
of contingent and even inconsistent forms. It is actually in
decay tat inconsistent for are smoothly connected to
each other so as to form a congmous plae of deforability
in which becoming does not essentially follow the logic of
the affect but rather the logic of putefacton and its medlOd
of exteriorization. Victor Hugo concisely epitomzes d
fuxional connection of inconsistent forms, ideas and
7. C. Bkee, 1" <1 ll 1; or I dU(lr addrwcd 10 il l .}utmatatcn (1754), 59.
4\ \
enttes in putefacton in J+ tablt. `n a pit of sle
[ . . . ] the dying man does not know whether he has become
a ghost or
a toad.'s It is only m putefaction that death u
essentally and weirdly non-hauntological: one
becomes a
toad rather than a poltergeist armoyingly
lamouring for
appropriate mourning, for a proper judgment or a spectral
solution. Vhilst in putefaction the human might end up
as a toad, the toad itself gows a ti. The m, in ts cse,
speas to the diferental idea or lattudes of form between
a toad and a tadpole, the matemathico-chercal affect
between them, the rato of putefacton: the longer the tail,
the fouler the putefacton:
It was observed in the grat plague of dle last year, dIal there
were seen, i divers ditches and low grounds about London,
many toads that had tais t\vo or three iches long at the least;
whereas toads (usually) have no tails at all. vhich argueth a
great disposition to putrefacton in te soil and ar. It is reported
liewise, that root (such as carrots and parsnips) are more
sweet and luscious in infctious years than in other years. [ .. . ]
So the parts of beasts putefed acastoreum and musk, which
extreme subtile parts,) acto be placed amongst tem. We see
also that putrefactions of plants (as agaric and Jew's-ear) are
of greatest virtue. The cause is, for that putrefacton is the
subtilest of all motions in te parts of bodies ; and since we
cannot take down the lives of living creaUres, (which some
of the Paracelsians say, i iley could be taken down, would
make us irtal,) the next is for su btilty of operation, to take
bodies putrcfi ed; such as may be safel y taken.9
Putrefacton is comprised of thee extremely subtle
motons - infnitesimal felds of diferentaton - according
8. V Hugo, U Mile |acoa.r-agia,1 982), 1087.
9. E r.:a,Te 1#rl qio&1 )oacoa.H-a;C. Eohn, 1854), 159.
Negarestani - Undercover Softess
to which various and outlandishly incongruous form can
smootluy blend. The idea of the human becomes a smooth
gradient of diferent worms, fies, wasps, plants and fungi.
The toad, the miasma, te sludge and the human all become
part of a differential field wherein each entty c gradually
unfold ito another regardless of the congruity of their
traits, environments ad habits. These subtle, fluxional or
inftesin movements point to the gradatonal contuity
of deformities in decay whose basal contnuity is maintained
by the dynamism of complicity as a form of partcipa
ton in which, instead of commonality and replacement,
infecton and nestedness - that is to say, the mathesis of
te insider aTe te guarantors of the collective acton.
To this extent, a politics of decay a building process fully
employs the mathesis of the insider as the prerequisite for
the dynamism of collectivity: Ite caculus of decay, it no
longer matters if there is a commonalty or even a minimal
agreement between conjoined or discrete elements; pute
facton causes the decaying or infected parts or elements to
interpolate themselves between other healthy elements and
parts msuch a way that everythig is collectively mobilised
by and toward putrefacton.
The fuxional contnuity of decay gradients smootly,
or more accurately, differentially connects incongruous
forms. The act of fguration, in terms of decay, i equal to
smootlling what is already out of place; everyting must
be con-figured again according to the smooth gradients
of decay whose basal contuity lies in the complicity of
horizons of interority. To putefy means to 'parabolify
the line' use Boscovich's term) ,l then to twist
i^]F Scn, 'Boscovich's Matheatic' i 1gq.tiu, :,FR.s., 1711-
1787: SllIdi "His Lld Hf,. on tt 2501lAnniu "Hi Birh [ndon: George
Al en & Unwin Lld . 1961). 18-92.
the curve and eventually to convolute the already twisled
curve. I oter words, i order to approxlinate forms, me
lie of fguration must pass thwugh points of inflections or
latitudes of a given form. I this sense, fguraton becomes
more accurate a it passes more points of infection or
taverses more lattudes ; yet to encompass more pomts
means tat the line of figuraton cannot remain a straight
line but must become an increasingly convoluted curve.
The painter Francis Bacon presents such a model of
smooth fguration in which a form is ln1itropically approi
mated through ever swirling ad twistng curves. Baco's
method of figuration becomes a fncton of approxlinatn
rather than reproducton ad for dns reason, it acquires
a configurig mechanism that corresponds intn1ately to
that of decay and its smooth gradients: How many points
c a line encompass, how many lattudes can be tavened
by a diferental fncton, before the line turns ito a
coiling abominaton or the diferental function becomes
'diformly difformy . . , difformly dilloo'? The thawi
meat of Francis Bacon's figures, the oozing colour gradiets
of his landscapes and the heads whose fgural approxima
tions are bundles of coiling tas all suggest a differemial
functon wInch indexes instant and remote derivatves o a
given form i the smoothest fuxiona manner.
I decay, the act of fgraton corresponds to the act of
curve ftting i interpolation. Between two forms, nyo enttes
or two horzons, one c only make a contuously smooth
connecton by encompassing te derivatves which remotly
connect these foons or entites together. Te remoter 2d
further apart the delivatves of these forms ad enttes, me
smoother and more congruously they can be connected to
each other. As the forms or given variables increase, ile
differental function also becomes more complex and tthe
Negarestani - Undercover Softness
curve for smoothly connectng these variables or given data
points becomes icreasigly more convoluted. A curious
literal depiction of these seetg diferential curves which
connect putefyng forms together in the slmiest and most
twisted ways possible can be found in Laurence Housman's
inticate art nouveau drawings. Caucar (which originally
appeared i The Do, published by Unicorn Press [1899])
is a nightare of a slimy nature lost and perplexed i the
putid mazes of it evanescent forms and thei derivatves.
It depicts a ma being consumed by trees, becoming a tree,
yet this concomitant change of identty and fonns leaves
behnd it a slimy tace, demonstated by a pandemonium
of twirling curves which connect the horizon of ma to that
of trees.
The universal calculus of decay does not tolerate a
abrupt mutaton from human to tree, as Hieronymus
Bosc's tee-man might iply. decay as a process of
cosmogenesis, the tree and human are not twO entelecrues
or perfected bodies of actuality whch c be connected
together via a straight line. Both 'being a tee' and ' being a
man' are canging variables rates of change between their
respectve actualities and potencies on the one hand and
between their interiorities and the exteriority on the other.
Therefore, the most velitable line of o'ansiton tat can be
drawn between a human and a tree is not a line connectng
their fxed actualites or taits but a line that encompasses
their existng actualites (given points) a well as their
potentals and derivatves {even the remotest ones}. The
tree is itself a differental feld of ideas - or in a Leibn
sense a generatve reservoi of smaler bodies - which
themselves are changing and have their own derivatves;
the same profusion with subtle bodies and movements is
also applicable to man, its idea and its fonn. TI1erefore,
in order for the line of putefacton to draw gradients of
decay beteen tle man and t1e tee, it must encompass
such ever-increasing (bot in quantty and distance frm
their Oliginal ideas or fonations a a whole) emerging
bodies, ideas or derivatives. In interpolatng between
m these points and emerging values, the slimy line of
rot becomes an everconvolutg curve. For this reason,
the nightarsh plunge of ti1e human into the verdant
infero of growth is accentuated when the lne between
the human and the tee becomes infnitely convoluted,
Negarestani Undercover Softness
encompassing a cosmic array of beings which only differ
entially - that is to say, very remotely - connect to either
the tree or the human. I other words, in decay, the object
travels across a world of familiar and alien beings which
mayor may not have any inm1ediate relationship or afnty
,.th the decayng object. This also means that the most
accurate line of tansition between a human and a tree is
a line that progressively encompasses not only the tree
and the human but also their remotest derivatves and the
least actual potencies. 111is is the taphonomic logic behind
the slimy forms of pun'efaction and the ever-shrinkng
bodies of decomposition (as i ruins) where te complicity
between parts and derivatves becomes a subtactive
ad hence synergistc counterpart to the limitopically
shrinking remnants of te thing's fonner self. n becoming
a vvidly accurate (i.e. nighnnarish) tansition between the
human and the tee, the connecting line encompasses more
beings and consequently becomes more convoluted. Decay
corresponds to such an approximation of the distance or
relationship between n'O given entities a contnuously
changing variables. The minimum possible number of
curves for passing through tl1e maxum number of points
or enttes - this fawed but concise formula defnes the
nighnnare of decay as an abomnable curve that exn'acts
values and beings from all that it encompasses, building
worlds and corpses more efcienty than God. The effect
of decay's cosmogenesis for any horizon of interiority is
a weird amalgamation of vitalistc trust in one's survival
and susceptbility to a unilatera terror fom the inside -
the teachery of the former and the non-negotability of the
latter. TIl s not just because decay draws its lurid forms
upon the complicity of contgencies of an indiffrent time
with the concepdess exteriorit of space, bur because i t
mobilises the exteriorizing terror of such complicity right
fom the iside of the interiorized horizon and through its
locus of persistence and its defnition of survival.
I observe il advance U1at numericaly the sae change 11'
be te generaton of one bein
ad the alteraton of aI10dH:
[or ean1pie, since we know dIat putefaction consists in litlie
worms invisible to the naked eye, any putrid infecton is !l
alteration of man, a
eneration of le worm.
1 I
It was argued that decay efectuates a perpetlal
deformation which does not dismantle the primal formatn
by erasing its fundamental ontological registers or mia
fOl1lal taits, but rather ceaselessly pushes the formatn
to new levels of degeneraton by infinitely building eer
and through it. }or tlus reason, decay can exo'act softn
fm solidity (i solidity is inexo-icable from its stable, moar
and rigid qualites as well as its manifet wholeness) andits
socia-politcal abso-actons, deducing political tenacity ad
persistence fom tlle degeneraton of power formatioS.
This is the arcane modu vivendi of certain political systes
whose decay or corruption does not lead to teir deIl
and destruction but rather edows them with te gift of a
camouflaged existence - a simultaneous unrecognizabilty
ensued by thawing forms and an axiomatc or fndamental
persistence as the result of their limtropic dissol
Once the state embraces decay as a form of
ad persistence, it turns into a site of complicity betwe
1 1 . G. W Libniz, Phikohicai Rl alul Llr (ordrecht: Kuwer Ac.1dmic
Pblshers, 1989), 96.
Negaestani - Undercover Softness
all decaying elements or splnters of rot in its vicinity, in
the manner of an interpolatg differental fncton. The
nebulous term ' rouge state' outlines some of the charac
terstcs of a state which has deliberately bound decay as
the building process of its formaton. It is i this sense, that
the degeneration of the solid and its abstactions does not
essentialy entail its dissoluton into liquid or the fuid state
where the solid loses its mia taits through fndamental
tansfonnation, but the differential deformity of the solid to
such a extent that the idea and formal integity of solidity
are chemically pulverised by te iner potences of the solid
itself. The solid gains a corrupting mobility - or a dif eren
tial power of interpolaton - at te cost oflosing its integrity
and established forms. The impaired integrity of the solid
formation allows for the eruption of potencies whose actu
alisaton would othen''ise have been subjected to the pre
established laws and climates of solidity (viz. its cohere"ce,
formal rigidity, stability, etc.)
The fons of rot, as discussed in the previous section,
are in diect conespondence with the 'dynamism of decay
or its differntially conuptive mobit. Since the complicity
of tme and space in teir contngency ad exteriority
bring about te possibity of tis peculiar dynamism, the
dynamism of decay is characteried by a chemical dipositon
wit a calculative mode of distibuton. Whereas its chemical
disposition is associated with the spatally enveloped and
mobilised contingencies of tme, its calculatve mode of
distributon i s the result of its asymptotc approach to the
exteriority of space according to which every interiority
infects yet another interiority, whether i the directon
of the precursor exteriority (cali) or the extensively
dissipated iteriorities (explcio) , This chemicallycharged
ad calculatve dynamism, accordingly, operates a a
bidirectonl building process: it intensively builds me
abstact by positively binding a linutopic conception of
zero (the body of the mUllmum) ad extensively builds the
concrete by extensively giving rise to derivatives or difer
entated horizons of interiority (worms, animalcules, ontc
differences) . I order to fonalise the dynamism of deay
as a building process, a reductonist matematcal formula
of decay can be constucted so as to demonstate, caprre
and ultmately diagTam decay as a building process. This
reductionist formal model incorporates three basic inter
connected aspects of decay's dynamism:
(1) Perpetual inclusion - infecton and nestedness:
The line of decay or the diferential fnction
putefacton must cover and encompass all given
values given points, forms ad taits of the inte
riorized horizon as well as its emergng derivatves ,
actualites and gradationaly emerging potencies.
Pelpetal inclusion ensures that all emerging
potencies be indexed and encompassed by the
diferental functon of decay. Any cllage - whether
extensive or intensive, outward or inward - in the
decaying object should be icluded by the process
of decay. Te possibility of inuding and encom
passing both itensive and extensive changes attests
to the inIperfectibililY of being and the inllerent
susceptbilty of the interiorized horizon t o xteri
orizaton. Since perpetual inclusion means that bodl
etensive and intensive changes are encompassed
concurently and sice these changes are subtrac
tvely cOlTelated to eacll, tlle peretual iclusion is
essentialy the rato of changes which registers itself
Negarestani - Undercover Softess
as a slope - the rate of ex-plicatio (unfolding) to com
plicato (folding) , extensive motions to intensive
motIons, -.
(2) The law of basal continuity, or the persistent
contnuity between limitopically vanishing values
and emerging values: J a decayg object, no
matter how signifcant u+c change or how unrecog
nizable the deformity is, it cannot depart fom the
ever-shrinkng fundaments, aoms or basic registers
of the object or formaton. I other words, as the
formaton undergoes new ext-emes of deformity
or the object rots to new levels, the fndament of
the formation or the basic ontological registers of
the object also become more emphatic - tat is to
say, tuer to their ideal. The law of basal contnuity
i decay holds that emerging values or changes
must be continuous to fixed or established values,
fndaments and basic axioms of the formation
regardless of teir distance and diference. Here
contuity can be formalised as follows : Suppose X
is a fundament or an axiomatc value of a decaying
system and Y is a deformaton, a change or an
emerging value, and the fnction J stands for the
putrefing line of decay that encompasses X and Y.
Now, J is continuous at x for some x E2if for an
neighborhood W ofJ{x) , there is a neighbourhood
Z of x such thatf(Z) W; meaning that, irrespec
tive of how small Wbecomes, a Z containing x that
wmap inside it c be found. IJis contnuous at
every x E2, thenJis contnuous.
(3) Differentiable smoothness: Following and in
accordance with the frst to principles, the encom
passing process of decay as an interpolant should be
a smooth as possible, or more precisely, itely
diferentable so as to support both the perpetual
inclusion of all extensive and intensive cllanges ad
the basa continuity between persistent remnants
and emerging fonus and values.
Jdecay what is frstly enacted is the subtactve
power of putefacton whereby extensive and intensive
changes a simultaneously included. Subtractve
binding of dlanges ensures that vectorially opposite
changes can be included in regard to each other in
such a way that every extensive change inBects an
intensive change and vice versa. For this reason,
te law of basal contnuity whicll emphasises the
continuity between ever-shg fndaments and
the emerging changes cannot be maintained except
through the subtactve power of decay, or more
accurately, decay's perpetual inclusion of changes
and deformities. Therefore, perpetual inclusion
enacted by the sublTactve logic of decay precedes
the contnuity between the intensive ideals of te
formation and its extensive ideas which are m the
process of unfolding. In this sense, continuity C is
built upon the outut of inclusion 1(i.e. inclusion
of both intensive and extensive changes). Inclusion
alone, however, does not support the contnuity of
what is included either in terms of 'the contnuity
between those changes which wl be incuded
and those which have already been included' (te
intensively enveloped fundaments) or in terms of
Negarestan - Undercover Softness
'te ceaseless differentiability of the process'. For ths
reason, the input of contnuity should be the output
of incusion, whch is the sum of the actualities of the
interiorized horizon and its gradient of potencies,
the extensive development and the intensive
Diagram I . Basal continuity between the limitropically shrinking object
(persistence) and its putrid deformity (changc)
envelopment of te formation. Here, u J is the
perpetual inclusion and C the basal contuity, then
their relation can be formalized as:
Co l or x IC(I(x))
Perpetual inclusion ]basal continuit C and different
able smoothness consttute te main principles of decay's
dynamism Jin regard to any interiorized horizon Hand
in relaton to tme t These tree principles give decay te
power to mobiise and unleash the irptve contigencies
of tme from wthn and through the interiorized horizon.
Putid deformites Or smooth gradients of decay are
forceflly yet nonviolendy extracted fom the ostensibly
secured interority of the horizon by the combined fnction
of dle aforementoned principles. Accordingly, for an ite
riorized horizon demarcated by the ratio of its actuaties
(a) ad potencies (l , decay can be reductively symbolized
a: 12
D = H (C(J;x)))n l dt
The Leibnizian notaton for the diferentiation
(C(J(x)))" would be
sed as a
rate of difrentation wid itsel - a diferental curve
within a curve. To put it diferendy, i the above formalised
model of decay's dynamism, the process of decay Devolves
not only as a curve generated by dle complicity of tme and
space but also as a cure that differentally encompas
the potencies and actualities of a horizon. Decay, in this
sense, is a curve i the perpetual act of curving. The
act of
perpetual curving whereby for every twist another twist is
reinvented (qma reversa) presents (reductively) a model
decay as a building process that delivers the interiorized
horizon to its heretical wastelads. In line with Leibrz's
remarks cited at the beginning of ths secton regading
12, 11t ve!'tical bars here signify the absolute value of decy's dynamim D.
in its negative and positive orientations. Schematically, by positve deGy we
the extensive veCIOI of decy "hid, tke the idea toward it cona'etc chemca
maifestatons and LUuolds the forms or dervatves wbidl ae enveloped by the
iterioried horizon. By ncglvc decay, on the other hand, we point to the inttllsive
vector or decy which timin'opic.y abstracts and sh the ide toward te zer of
ideas and infects the imeriolized horin towil 'd the precursor etcronty,
Negarestani Undercover Softness
te dynamcs of inftesimal vermculation of the body in
putrefcton, the process of decay returns every outward
twist developed from the interiorized horizon with an inner
twist within the horizon itself and vice versa. The reason
(raio) according to which the horizon of interiority works
and stives for its ideal status takes a vermiculate turn once
it is bent from both ends by the twists (abstract worms)
which force it to veer in unforeseeable directions. Once
a rectying rato between the ideal and the idea (both i
its intensive envelopment and extensive development) is
established, reason becomes a worm that bores through the
horizon so as to prepare it for that which can easiy creep in
or ooze out. By diferentally conuptig the rato between
the idea and its ideal and the rato betrveen actualites and
potencies of an object, decay reinvents the interiorized
horizon on the heretical side of itself. It is the pragatic
artisty of decay to harvest limitless potentialities from the
subversive logic of interiority on behaf of an exteriority in
whose term every horizon must be deserted according to a
reason (ratio) which is crooked at both ends.
Nowhere has te curving function of decay been more
explored than in scholastcism - in particular in the theories
developed at Merton College, Oxford and the Unversity
of Paris, which consttute some of the germinal ideas of
mathematcs and chemstry. I scolastcism, mrtzli,
nido and pulriati all point to the overlapping regions
between chemistry and mathematics through proto-scien
tifc ideas germinated in theology, natural phlosophy,
medicine and the culinay arts. The corpse, as the
epitome of putrefacton, demarcates te transition from
te w1 lio of a body to its explic. Such tansition
essentially takes place as a slope, 'the rise of potentialities
in the form of actualites' i respect to ' the vaying fux of
potentialites'. These are the slopes of body qua complex
that provide the process of decay with fields of gradation
whose dynamism c only be diferentially grasped. Une
the clitio of God, the comJJiiti of body qua complexu
is under the inuence of its actualities whose disu-ibu
tion is extensively toward the outer world or the world
multtudes. I other words, since the actualites of the body
are not perfect (immutable) , nor are its potencies fxed, the
wlxs of the body is determined by the rato of complicat
(envelopment of potencies) and explitio (the development
of potencies a actualities) in regard to each other
(). For God, there is no rate of change (slope) between
possibilities and actualites, since God is the complete
actuaton of its complete potencies or Jssest (Nicholas of
Cusa). Accordingly, if there is no rate of change betwe
possibilities (6p) and actualities (6a) in God, or in other
words, i God is not onto logically differentable within itsel

then !a catu10t have a rate of change or slope, i.e. !
be a vertical line (illustrated by the vertcal fold aJJ in diagran1
2) . It is ti1e vertcalit of God in the scholastc thTeefo
of existence that precludes deviation, the emergence
gradients and consequently, the curving dynamism of rot
- God is the one witl10ut slopes. Hence the saying, God is
too stfT to rot.
run 2. The scholasric threefold o[ existence ire, el ad God qua p=1
Negarestani - Undercover Softness
For the scholastc marriage of mathematcs and
chemistry through natural philosophy, the cllitio
of body is full of deviations, rates of changes between
actualities and possibilites, little slopes everywhere
swerving from te vertcal positioning of posses!. Twisting
in and out, wiggling in all directions, slopes are bodies,
disturbaces in existence for which infnite differentiation
is assured. Scholast1c bodies are slopes or rates of change
between the rise of actualities and potencies capable of
being actualized
Despite their tangency to God,
they possess tlle power of infnite differentiabilit, the
power of prolonging tlle slope process - dragging the rate
of progression and change between potency and actualit
forever. But at any given tme, for scholastic bodies,
6j) >6a and 6p
6a otherwise the body is supplanted by
the fl body of entelechies whose possibilities have all been
actualised. That is to say, i actualities become equal to
possibilities or possibilites (all variations of posse) become
exhausted by being actualised, then the scholastc body
becomes a rival for the Divine or is posed as a blasphemous
threat to its posses! where ap. The perfection of God is
assured by uniting (or completely overlapping) the lattude
of both potencies and actuates with the distance or the
longitude between them. The impermeable it of God
cannot express the world outside of itself; because outside
of it is the feld of slopes which expresses everything in
tlle language of complicities, differentatons and ratios,
rises over runs, the worlds produced by the undulations of
imperfectibility - the cosmogenesis of decay. For scholastc
bodies whose potentiates are infnite, tlleir actuaties can
be neither infnite (as opposed to the ite ente!cia of
God) nor equal to possibilities/potencies as in the case of
the j)osses! of God (
i.e. 6p
> 6a,
a; 0
Pl .
i this case, as actuaites ae fulfled, their number i
respect t potencies (ossibilites) stats to decrease.
In other words, the increase i flfllment of actualities or
perfectons is equal to the decrease in actualities' capacit
for differentability. Therefore, for scholastic bodies, whc
ae tangential to God's posest (ap), being i li Ip - that
l- Ia
is, a open quandary in regard to
. IS
Howevel; even
i f the potentalites/possibilites of being are not limitless
(as some scholastic theologians like Anselm of Canterbury
might object), the scholastc body is still an anomalous
tarIgency to the Divine tat instgates a 'initesimal
subversion' against God: lim I . Terefore, in either
l-D Ia
case, bodies of scholasticism are insurgencies or insistent
perversions mobiized by slopes. In taking all beings as
tangental to the posseJ! of God, being C only be conceived
in terms of rates of differentation. The consequence of the
ontotheological marginalisaton of scholastc bodies via
the privieging of God's posest is that the exclusive power
arId use of slopes is inadvertently dedicated to being; t
power is the power of extactg worlds through diferen
tiation, or unearthing schemas of subversions trough the
lt of ratios. Everything other t God is the explwl
of slopes (Atharasius Kicher's absn-act worms) ; this i far
too cosmically revolutonary to be fathomed. Such i s the
revolution of scholastcism, flourishng in the mediaeval
orgy of scholastc theology, ntr philosophy arId science.
13. Te anachronistc usc or the lit funcon here i solely for a suconct ""position
of the quandaies spontaneously generated in scholastcm as the rl! of
marglising the <h'i of beings. Tese quandare or ideas, as implied in t
essay, began to haunt mediaeval phosophy, and itiated a seres of philosophicl
and scetfc problem heralding alld evetual y leading to the re of Renaissance
philoSQphy and sciClce.
Negarestani Undercover Softness
Coresponding to the subtractive logic of decay, the
ratos or slopes of putrefaction ramify the mathematco
chemical vectors of decay in two directons. T results
in the arctecture of decay being posited as a turning
point (infection) at which the concrete manfestaton of the
process of decay is chemically invested a the product of its
abSb"act process, and the abstacton of decay mathemati
cally returns to it concrete investment. The double-dealing
attitude of decay in regard to the concepts of the abstact
and the concrete contributes to the twist of decay a a
building process : That which is palpably rottng develops
out of that which is progressively becoming abstact.
To put it succinctly, the process of decay is progressively
concrete and retrogressively abstract. Ths retum between
the abstract and the concrete is especially evident i ruins,
where the abstact is inexticable from the concrete;
to privilege one over another is eiter a necromantc fallacy
or a necrocratic policy.
Mathematics with a chemical . disposition or chemical
revoluton via mathematcal distibutions, decay captures
both within its act of building. It is only in the light of
the mathematca and chemical complicatons of decay
a a building process that the melancholc admiration for
decay and fetid enttes, along with the ostacizaton and
dismissal of socio-political decay, can be dissected without
blnd romantcism, moral opprobrium or crude judgment
It is not that earthly thougt is te site of decay fom which
we must ascend to the fesh air, but that the calculus of
decay consttutes the ecology of our interiorized worlds -
whether built on the desolate surface of the earth or in the
fresh air of a beyond. The calculus of decay has. its own
problems, ideas and solutions; to politcise, philosophise,
scheme or tae action without such caculus is tantunt
to calculatng out of tis world a outside that doe not
suggest the great abyssal outdoors but the sealed encloures
of pure entelechy whose immutable horizon does not
welcome ecologcal changes m any directon whatsoe\r.