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Non-human nature

Posted on September 2, 2012

Conceiving nonhuman nature as system, as instigating its own self-productive evolution rather than
as a mere vista, has profound implications-ethical as well as biological-for ecologically minded Human beings embody, at least potentially, attributes of nonhuman development that
place them squarely within organic evolution. We require a way of thinking that recognizes that
what-is as it seems to lie before our eyes is always developing into what-it-is-not, that it is
engaged in a continual autopoetic, self-organizing process in which past and present, seen as a
richly differentiated but shared environment, give rise to new contingent conditions that open
toward life and afford emergent properties within the system of the world allowing for change.
Accordingly, the human and the nonhuman can be seen as aspects of a co-evolutionary
system/environment, and the emergence of these systems can be located in the evolution of the
nonhuman, without advancing naive claims that one is either superior to or made for the other.

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Posted on September 2, 2012

No society so far has been able to organize itself, that is to say to choose its own structures and to
use them as rules for admitting and dismissing members. Therefore, no society can be planned. This
is not only to say that planning doesnt attain its goals, that it has unanticipated consequences or
that its costs will exceed its usefulness. Planning society is impossible because the elaboration and
implementation of plans always have to operate as processes within the societal system. Trying
to plan the society would create a state in which planning and other forms of behavior exist side
by side and react on each other. Planners may use a
description of the system, they may introduce a simplified version of the complexity of the system
into the system. But this will only produce a hypercomplex system which contains within itself a
description of its own complexity.

Niklas Luhmann

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Posted on September 2, 2012

Philosophy, then is not a doctrine, not some simplistic scheme for orienting oneself in the world,
certainly not an instrument or achievement of human Dasien. Rather, philosophy is this Dasien
itself insofar as it occurs, in freedom, from out of its own ground.

Whoever, by hard research, has arrived at this self-understanding of philosophy is granted the
fundamental experience of all philosophizing, which is this: the more completely and originally
research comes into its own, the more surely is it nothing but the transformation of the same few
simple questions.

But those who want to transform must bear within themselves the power of a fidelity that knows
how to preserve. The only way to feel that power grow within oneself is to be caught up in wonder.
And the only way to be caught up in wonder is to travel to the outermost limits of the possible.

Yet, the only way to become the friend of the possible is to remain open to dialogue with the
powers at work in the whole of human existence [Dasein]. And in fact that is the philosophers way
of being: heeding what has already been sung forth and can still be perceived in each essential
occurence in the world.

from For Edmund Husserl on His Seventieth Birthday

David Roden: Aliens Under The Skin
Posted on June 21, 2016

We leave this behind in your capable hands, for in the black-foaming gutters and back alleys of
paradise, in the dank windowless gloom of some galactic cellar, in the hollow pearly whorls found
in sewerlike seas, in starless cities of insanity, and in their slumsmy awe-struck little deer and I
have gone frolicking.
See you anon. Jonathan Doe.
-Thomas Ligotti, The Frolic
In Aliens Under The Skin: Serial Killing and the Seduction of Our Common Humanity By David
Roden, part of the Serial Killing: A Philosophical Anthology edited by Edia Connole and Gary J.
Shipley, David surmises that the inhumanity of man weve known since at least Wordsworth first
coined this term is central to how we as humans define ourselves. Being human implies the artificial
and necessary distancing from our inhuman origins, the externalization of our inhuman
monstrousness. Ever since hominids first began rejecting their animal heritage in favor of the gods
or, some other mythic, symbolic, or religious sense of transcendence, weve tried to exit and
escape the truth of our inhuman core, of who and what we are, our inhumanity. In our time the
serial killer has become the touchstone of that unholy terror of the sacred and sacrificial excess, the
exuberance of the banal and the monstrous sacred we in our secular age have both rejected and
repressed. It is the dark kernel of our inhuman core that seems to haunt the hinterlands of our
ancient animalistic and natural ties to the earth.
In fact David will go so far as to say that our fascination and allure with Serial Killers, with
psychopathic monsters of screen or flesh is simply that, we define ourselves through denial and
invention, flight and imaginative need. We study in cinematic delight figures such as Dexter

Morgan, Paul Spector or Hannibal Lecter not because they are human, but because they are
inhuman. Their alterity fascinates us even as it terrorizes us. Fascination is at root Latin: fascinatus,
past participle of fascinare bewitch, enchant, fascinate, from fascinus a charm, enchantment,
spell, witchcraft; to fascinate is to bring under a spell, as by the power of the eye; to enchant and to
charm are to bring under a spell by some more subtle and mysterious power.
The Psychopath fascinates us because he can manipulate and mimic our humanity, lead us into
delusion and delirium, allure us to our death through a dramatic enactment of our deepest need to
know the secret of who and what we are. Against notions of representation, the psychopath
represents nothing, because there is nothing behind the mask, nothing to re-present, no presence:
only the emptiness of the animal eye, the actor acting, the playing of a role in which the human
quality of empathy is missing: in which the human itself is robbed of its life. This is the key, the
psychopath being without empathy, is a soulless husk lacking emotion, intention, or fellow feeling
a mere hollow bell sounding from the depths of hell and despair. All he can do is mime our
emotions, mimic them as in a carefully crafted impersonation, a role that must be enacted as if he
were on a stage. All the while his calculating mind, his fierce intellect watches, studies,
manipulates; yet, can never desire in the way we do, for he lacks that element that would make him
human: a capacity for love. Rather his lack of remorse or shame, impulsivity, grandiose sense of
self-worth, pathological lying, manipulative behavior, and poor self-control will drive him toward
promiscuous sexual and deviant acts of cold, heartless, and inhuman insidiousness. Like the Joker
in Batman, the psychopath seeks only to manipulate desires since he has none. Like a postmodern
Loki, the Joker enacts the very jouissance of human desire as fakery, as stagecraft, as the merciless
mirth of the dammed. Hovering over an abyss he collapses human emotion into a dark smile a
smile that bespeaks of an impersonal and absolute power of indifference that can swat you like a
housefly or slice you strip by strip into slivers of vibrant flesh just to discover why you feel what he
One need only be reminded of Shakespeares great nihilists Hamlet, Iago, Macbeth; or as in King
Lear the cruelty of Edmund, bastard son of Gloucester who manipulates his wives, sister, half-
brothers, father. Yet, in our time who will forget Patrick Bateman, the character in American
Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis. A successful investment banker and stylish dresser with an extensive
knowledge of eighties music and an eye for interior designa real mover and shaker. A man
who in between comparing business cards and drinking cocktails with other investment bankers,
Patrick busies himself with senseless murders and stomach-turning torture sessions. After killing a
colleague, he loses control of his violent urges and moves on to necrophilia, cannibalism (making
meatloaf of a girl is frustrating!), mutilation, and horrific murders involving chainsaws, nail guns,
and rats. Batemans charm, complete detachment, and lack of emotion or remorse make him the
most disturbing psychopathic mime around: a true sociopath killer, charming, persuasive, and
fascinating. As the character, Bateman will say of himself:

there is an idea of a Patrick Bateman, some kind of abstraction, but there is no real me, only an
entity, something illusory, and though I can hide my cold gaze and you can shake my hand and feel
flesh gripping yours and maybe you can even sense our lifestyles are probably comparable: I simply
am not there Is evil something you are? Or is it something you do? My pain is constant and sharp
and I do not hope for a better world for anyone. In fact, I want my pain to be inflicted on others. I
want no one to escape.

As you can see from the above, psychopaths can suffer emotional pain for a variety of reasons. As
with anyone else, psychopaths have a deep wish to be loved and cared for. This desire remains
frequently unfulfilled, however, because it is obviously not easy for another person to get close to
someone with such repellent personality characteristics. Psychopaths are at least periodically aware
of the effects of their behavior on others and can be genuinely saddened by their inability to control

it. The lives of most psychopaths are devoid of a stable social network or warm, close bonds.2 The
psychopath is left with a difficult choice: adapt and participate in an empty, unreal life, or do not
adapt and live a lonely life isolated from the social community. They see the love and friendship
others share and feel dejected knowing they will never be part of it. Because of this some
psychopaths are driven to games, to frolicking, to the sport of death and derision, spurning their
brethren for what they in themselves lack they seek to make merry, frolicking on the abyss between
annihilation and murder. The seduction of the killer is his incapacity for life, one of the living dead
he lives and preys on the darkness of others; like a forlorn god he roams the night seeking warmth
he cannot give, and giving in return the only gift he has: death.

Specific to Serial Killers David Roden will qualify psychopathy with a notion from a species
concept that has been proposed by the bioethicist Darian Meacham: the Phenomenological Species
Concept (PSC). As he states it: Meachams account of species recognition is based on Husserls
claim that our experience of others involves an empathic awareness of them as having mental states
analogous to our own. Yet, it is just this lack of empathy that separates the serial killer, the
psychopath from the rest of us. His lack of empathy drives his malignity. In fact such a creature can
only mimic our affective relations as if they were some dark share that were secretly missing in his
constitution. He cannot feel our emotions. Yet, he sees them in us, he knows their there; and this
sparks his curiosity, his intellect. It is intellect rather than emotions, passions that forces this
knowledge on him, that drives him to know and seek out ways to manipulate in us the very thing
missing in his own makeup. Like a shadow player, a trickster out of hell, the psychopaths
very lack of empathy drives him, penetrating to the core of his being, empowering him forward
toward acts of horror and virulent desecration.
Roden will speak of a common world of values that humans share, the realm of custom, habit, and
morals the human world of value and meaning. Yet, in our secular age of nihilism the value and
meaning have been stripped bare, shriven of custom, habit, and moral concern, and in their place is
this sense of absolute nothingness the horror of the abyss of things without reason, the inhuman
world of indifference and impersonal forces of science and atheism. The PSC is a precondition for
a life governed by a shared set of moral values and an ethics, because if we cannot see others as
having affective responses like our own, we cannot share moral practices sensitive to those
feelings. So the notion here is that if a being does not share in this common world of habits,
customs, values, meaning and reciprocal affections necessary for possession of human PSC they
will fall outside the community of men and into that inhuman region of psychopathy.
And, this is the crux of the serial killer as psychopathic inhumanity, because they have the ability to
mimic us, our humanity; and yet, they do not possess the ability to empathize with others: this is the
subtle strangeness and alterity of the psychopath; and, an eerie fascination on our part to know and
understand just what that entails. David gives several reasons for this: masochistic fantasies of
domination; sexual perversity and excitement; sado-masochistic voyeurism, etc. Yet, as David
suggests, the main reason is due to the serial killers phenomenologically alien or inhuman
incapacity for empathy, which arouses in us both fascination and terror, that allows us to see in
the darkness of the other the abyss of our own inner inhumanity. The serial killer is thus
metaphysically alien while occupying a body that is biologically akin to our phenomenological

Ultimately they may be phenomenologically alien, but, in so being, they indirectly manifest the
inhuman reality on which the fragile phenomenology of the human community depends. Here
David explores dark phenomenology or the notion that we live in a very minimal and neglectful
field of knowledge, that for the most part we are blind to the very information we need to know
more about ourselves and our environment but that we do not even know that we neglect this very
information. As he states it:

The blindness of the mind to its true nature is also exhibited among unimpaired agents. We
regularly assume that we are authoritative about the reasons for our choices. Yet studies into the
phenomenon of choice blindness by Petter Johansson and Lars Hall suggest that humans can be
gulled into attributing reasons to themselves that they did not make.

In fact hell discuss Thomas Metzingers constraint of autoepistemic closure: Phenomena such
as choice blindness and anosognosia suggest that our insight into subjectivity depends on a fallible
process of self-interpretation that is subjectively transparent and immediate only because we are
not aware that it is a process at all. The point being that we are cut off, blind to the very processes
of the brain that control the very access to information available. We are under the delusion that the
information we have is all there is, and that it suffices to describe both ourselves and our
environment when in fact it is minuscule in relation to the vast information processing that actually
goes on in the brain of which we are in complete ignorance.

If serial killers are aliens in virtue of their incapacity for empathy, we are all alien to ourselves
epistemically. Following Freud we become aware of our inhuman side only when it perturbs our
experience in ways that we cannot own. This is Freuds sense of drives that overpower us (i.e.,
moods or obsessions). For David the serial killers psychopathology reminds us of what Dylan
Trigg in his recent The Thing: A Phenomenology of Horror, describes as the spectral materiality
(Levinas) of the world with horroran inhuman void yawning beneath our lived and shared

So that as David suggests in the end it seems that we are drawn to the serial killer not because we
admire their actions or identify with their prey, but because they intimate a reality deeper or more
capacious than our parochial human world. The hyperbolically powerful serial killer may, then,
entice us with the prospect of a weird transcendence, hidden in the defiles of an inhuman nature.

Maybe in the end like Thomas Ligottis comic fatalist, the Frolic Man, the psychopath is an alien
and alienated being of another order, or an order of play in the kosmos of which we are only dimly
aware, but are reminded of from time to time as that region of being before Being, a pre-ontological
gap, a hole in the universe of the human where the darkness seeps outside-in. It is in the darkness
that we find our ancient home beyond the safe and secure regions of human empathy; and, yet, it is
this very universe of untamed natural forces, where the unknown lives: those creatures of the night
that sport upon the chaotic void that fascinates us, calls to us, beckons us, seduces us, and allures us
toward impossible revelations even as it terrorizes us with its impersonal and absolute laughter
and indifference. Here just here is where the Festival of Slaughter begins

1. Serial Killing: A Philosophical Anthology. Edia Connole (Editor), Gary J Shipley (Editor).
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (August 5, 2015
2. James Blair;Derek Mitchell;Karina Blair. The Psychopath: Emotion and the Brain (p. 12).
Kindle Edition.

Nightmares of Time
Posted on July 16, 2016

there was absolutely naught. Naught was, neither matter, nor substance, nor voidness of
substance, nor simplicity, nor impossibility of composition, nor inconceptibility, imperceptibility,
neither man, nor angel, nor God ; in fine, anything at all for which man has ever found a name. It is
-Basilides, The Revanant

Whoever concocted the world did so under the influence of monsters, incarnations sired from
states of self-reflexive revulsion. Reality is horror it eats people like a carnivorous fog a
construct so diabolical that man has been unwittingly cajoled into adorning the effervescence of his
dreams and his fantasies with costumes of malleable terror: ghouls, hybrid creatures, fused entities,
seditious organs and limbs, malignant slimes, mythic decapitations, supernatural possession,
psychotropic pestilence, brains worm-eaten with paranoia (insanities of truth) myriad extremities
of mans dull fug.
Gary J. Shipley, The Necrology Interview

A pure variant of Ophidian gnosis with the Archons installed as both victors and victims or, as
P.K. Dick once said it: Were all in the Iron Prison now and the maker threw the keys away long
ago, exiled himself, and want be returning this side of eternity. Weve been left to our own devices,

and their not pretty. Caged in a hellish paradise, a funhouse for the mad and insane, weve built
temporal zones of insipidity and structures of corruption to wile away the infinity of our dark
imprisonment in Time.

A bitter truth is that which draws the voyager on! The world, monotonous and petty today,
yesterday, tomorrow and forever, makes us see ourselves as an oasis of horror in a desert of ennui!

And those of the corruption will be taken to the place of bones where there is no repentance, and
will be kept for the day on which those who have blasphemed the demon will be tortured, and will
be punished with eternal life and light, condemned to all eternity to wander the abyss of times and
times without end.
The Lost Books of Basilides the Dammed

We are those fallen, we are the brotherhood of death this is eternity! Every sacrifice is a
reenactment of the first sacrifice, the death of the demon god all sacrifices repeat the vein gesture
of love and catastrophe.

In about 1923, in Geneva, I came across some heresiological book in German, and I realized that
the fateful drawing represented a certain miscellaneous god that was horribly
worshiped by the very same Basilides. I also learned what desperate and
admirable men the Gnostics were, and I began to study their passionate speculations.
-Jorge-Luis Borges, On Basilides

Welcome to the wars of Love, rather than univocal conveyance and the comedy of sociality, the
sacrificial gesture begins in utter catastrophic dismemberment and ecstatic horror.
To those who have followed me thus far I owe a full explanation. I offer an inhuman
image of man, and I know that the air about me grows irrespirable. In saying that the bloody
fantasies of sacrifice had meaning, I have justified our Molochs at their darkest. (Bataille,

We are not offering a renewal of holocausts, of vast immolations in a heap of skulls, far from it,
rather an acknowledgement of the inhuman core of our being, a revelation of the monstrous life at
the heart of existence. I am of that number who pledge men to
something other than a constant increase of production, and who provoke men to sacred ho
rror. And this demand, in conflict with common sense, must be
justified by something more than vague notions about the stars. (Bataille, Sacrifice)

Salvation, for this disillusioned heresy, involves a mnemotechnical effort by the dead, much as
the torment of the Savior is an optical illusion -Jorge-Luis Borges, On Basilides

A disquieting question still offers itself up to us: How was it that

everywhere men found themselves, with no prior mutual agreement, in accord on an
enigmatic act, they all felt the need or the obligation to put living beings ritually
to death? (Bataille) Even now, at this late date, when we seem to have ended the sacrificial offering
and bloodletting we look around us and see it under a new guise, a world of plunder and mayhem,
of death and rapture, of throngs ready to obliterate, terrorize, dismember each other and tear the
fleshly life of the social body into ruination. We need the dead as much as they need us, without the

sacrifice to the dead we stop the world and time: remaining in a vacuum without outlet, cut off from
the living and the dead we are ghosts wandering the abyss of frozen time.
Bataille would link the quiet man, the man who lives out his life in the Human Security System,
protected and working, raising children, performing his civic duty in the shadows never harboring
anything but the utilitarian vision of his country. Bataille would link this quiet man with
death, tragic terror, and sacred ecstasy; say of him that living in this world of denial, this false
semblance of civilization, this artificial paradise against the truth of cosmic horror he remains
ignorant of who and what he is. Ignorant of the inhuman beast lurking in the shadows like a dark
force for destruction, awaiting its moment to be set loose upon the world.

The philosophers will not help us, the sociologists know nothing of such terrible worlds.
Discourse on being, metaphysics, is meaningless if it ignores
lifes necessary game with death. (Bataille) He will come upon a truth: It is in the satiety of
that a man comes to recognize himself in his distant ancestors. It is to the burden of the dead
we return to again and again, the dead must be offered sacrifice by the living, the eternal round
the game of death begins and ends in self-immolation. The laughter begins in anguish

the participant in a sacrifice communicates only the anguish itself to me, without lifting it.
The performer of sacrifice and its witnesses behave as though there were
only one meaningful value, only one that possibly matters: anguish. This anguish of sacrifice
may be weak; all things considered, it is really the strongest possible, so strong
that were it to be slightly more so, the onlookers could no longer be gathered,
the sacrifice would have no further meaning, would not take place. Anguish is maintained at
varying levels of tolerance; sacrifice being the communication of anguish (as laughter is
the communication of its dispersion), the sum of anguish communicated theoretically approaches
the sum of communicable anguish. (Bataille)

One remembers the substitution, the symbolic gesture, the memory of the act of sacrifice, the
burden of communion:

Our Lord Jesus Christ, on the night when He was betrayed, took bread and when He had given
thanks, He broke it and gave it to the disciples and said: Take eat; this is My body, which is given
for you. This do in remembrance of Me. In the same way also He took the cup after supper, and
when He had given thanks, He gave it to them, saying: Drink of it, all of you; this cup is the new
testament in My blood, which is shed for you for the forgiveness of sins. This do, as often as you
drink it, in remembrance of Me.

Darkness begets darkness and the demons abound, the eating of bodies, the drinking of blood the
sacrifice, the anguish, the laughter, the dispersion the delirium:

Man makes his appearance on the surface of a celestial body in an existence

commingled with that of plants and of other animals. This celestial body appears at
some point of empty space, in that immensity revealed at night, driven by a
complex movement of dizzying speed (Bataille, Celestial Bodies)

Only one sacrifice remains Through loss man can regain the free movement of the
universe, he can dance and swirl in the full rapture of those great swarms of stars. But he
must, in the violent expenditure of

self, perceive that he breathes in the power of death. (Bataille) Death, death alone is our
savior, our god, for he is the inexistent, the nameless force of life itself in its necessity the fatalism
of the eternal return. We are dead, this is life.; there is no other there is no there is. This has
happened before, it will happen again. This is the anguish turned laughter in the cosmic funhouse of

In the first centuries of our era, the Gnostics disputed with the Christians. They were annihilated,
but we can imagine their possible victory. Had Alexandria triumphed and not Rome, the bizarre
and confused stories that I have summarized would be coherent, majestic, and ordinary. Lines such
as Novalis Life is a sickness of the spirit, or Rimbauds despairing True life is absent;
we are not in the world, would fulminate from the canonical books.
-Jorge-Luis Borges, On Basilides

Weird Tales: Essays and Other Assays

Metaphysical revelations begin only when ones superficial equilibrium starts to totter
E.M. Cioran
the consolation of horror in art is that it actually intensifies our panic, loudens it on the
sounding-board of our horror-hollowed hearts, turns terror up full blast, all the while reaching
for that perfect and deafening amplitude at which we may dance to the bizarre music of our
own misery.
Thomas Ligotti
When early youth had passed, he left
His cold fireside and alienated home
To seek strange truths in undiscovered lands.
Alastor, Percy Bysshe Shelley
Hegel once told us that the aim of knowledge is to divest the objective world of its strangeness
and to make us more at home in it. But what if the opposite were true that the real aim of
knowledge is to invest the objective world with abject strangeness and to alter our mode within
it as pure homelessness?
Homeless voids roam the empty abyss of this universe licking up light from the swirls of
galactic clusters surging round the infinite drift of dust and stars; black holes like the gods of
some delusionary dream shuffle among the broken quasars seeking out the dark filaments of
superfluous suns, each cannibalizing the light of a thousand civilizations on the edge of cosmic
The Trauma Factory
Men of broader intellect know that there is no sharp distinction betwixt the real and the
H.P. Lovecraft, The Tomb

Behind our eyes are those of the tiger, wolf, dolphin, elephant, and mustang and all those
animals and insects of the terrestial dream; the shifting gazes of a million life-forms spread
their light among the dark contours of this sensible self. The mutable surface of skin hides
the innumerable macrophages who defend the black inner realms like the militia of
a defensive army, engulfing the cellular debris and pathogens of a terrible desire; and the
bacterial denizens of this wet oceanic life in symbiotic resistance break down the ancient
predatorial and vegetal vitality that invades the blood and acidic cavities, each mobilizing its
own secret agenda without benefit of agent, goal or purpose beyond the sacred power of teeth
chittering in the hive. The inertia of metalloid biotics collides with the fractured resilience of
this strange flesh like a musical score played upon some stellar harp spread across transfinite
dimensions, bleeding into this space of time giving birth to the shape of a spectral delusion that
is beyond the human form.
Over the years wandering the sub-cultural delirium of dark alchemical mutant dataclash
like ccru, conspiracy theory, bizzaro, weird tales, horror, gothic, noir, pulp etc. one gets the
feeling that what is being related, although not empirically true nor part of some vast collective
reading of the unconscious psyche of the planetary psychosis, is rather the notion of a world-
wide Trauma Factory. As if there is a productive system of necrotic knowledge systems
producing cosmic nihilism and despair, nightmares and consensual hallucinations; populist
narratives gathering threads from every form of deranged mediatized corruption and fetid
unknown shadow world; absorbing, collating, revising, narrativizing and republishing for mass
consumption the fears and geotraumatic events of our age. Theory-fictions: all the subtle
horrors and aberrations, sociopathic and/or psychopathic invasive natural and transnatural
installations from the great Outside. Broadcasting not the actual but rather the virtual inlays of a
traumatized civilization and species as it faces absolute extinction at the hands of its own secret
death-drive toward apocalypse and annihilation.
Maybe this dark gnosis from the collective delirium is a message from the hinterlands of Non-
Being, a fragment of that forbidden knowledge weve needed for so long but were unable to
accept nor fathom, but now that it has arisen from the dark portals of our own being like a
murderous passion we can begin to register the truth of our inhuman nature, accept the
challenge of knowing for the first and last time who and what we are, wherefrom weve been
tossed, into what weve been thrown, and whereto we are speeding like so many daemons on a
runaway train to oblivion
A Few of My Short Stories and Weird Tales:
The Worm at the End of the Line
The Knack
A Death in the Rain
The Devil Has No Altar (Sent out for publication)
The Jackals Curse (Sent out for publication)
The Darkening of Macon Tobin: Part One (In process)
Laughing Jacks Night Out
Waiting For The End: A Tale of the Weird
The Labyrinth of Night
Chicken, anyone? A Grotesque Tale of the Macabre
The Tick-Tock Man: A Weird Tale
Flowers for Lobelia (Sothern Noir In progress Old Version Draft)
Flowers for Lobelia (Second Draft Revision in process)
Savage Nights: A Salvagepunk Novel
Quantum Lives: Tales of Undercity

Fantastic: Recent Posts, Book Reviews, Essays, etc.
Christopher Slatsky, Alectryomancer and Other Weird Tales
Laszlo Krasznahorkais The Melancholy of Resistance
Discovering Crypt(o)spasm Gary J. Shipley: The Madness of Abstract Horror
Thomas Ligotti: Dark Phenomenology and Abstract Horror
Cosmic Horror: Spinoza, Poe, and Lovecraft
Rethinking Conceptual Universes
Clark Ashton Smith: Visionary of the Dark Fantastic
The Dark Gnosis of our Malignant Uselessness
Fantastic Chronology
Fantastic Chronology: A List (8th Century to 1900) Part One
Fantastic Chronology: A List (1800 to 1850) Part Two
Fantastic Chronology: A List (1850 to 1899) Part Three
Fantastic Chronology: A List (1900 to 1949) Part Four

Fantastic Authors: Appreciations

Achim von Arnim(1781 1831)
H.P. Lovecraft: Aesthete of Cosmic Fear
H.P. Lovecraft: The Spectral Art
Clark Ashton Smith: Visionary of the Dark Fantastic
The Smile at the Foot of Time: The Enigma of Judge Holden in Cormac Maccarthys
Blood Meridian
Cormac Mccarthy: The Judges Sermon of Fire and Fire
Gary J. Shipley: Theoretical Animals
John Barth: The Elegance of Exhausted Possibilities
Jorge-Luis Borges: Tlon and the Hronir; and, The Immortal
Philip K. Dick, William Gibson and Science Experiments: Information from the Future
Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky: The Fantastic Stories of Russia
Stanislaw Lems Proof of an Independent Reality
The Miserablist: Thomas Ligottis Puppet Philosophy
Epicure of Pessimism: The Horror of Thomas Ligotti Part I
Epicure of Pessimism: The Horror of Thomas Ligotti Part II
The Stack as Alien Intelligence & Governance
Nick Land: Phyl-Undhu: Abstract Horror, Exterminator
Thomas Ligotti: Dark Phenomenology and Abstract Horror
Thomas Ligotti: Epicure of Pessimism Part III
Thomas Ligotti: Speculations in Black
The Nemocentric Vision: Thomas Ligotti
Thomas Ligotti, Miami: The Collapse of the Real
Thomas Ligotti: The Horror-Maker
Thomas Ligotti: The Frolic and the Wyrd (Weird)
Thomas Ligotti: The Order of Illusion
Thomas Ligotti: The Vignettes of Horror
William Burroughs: Paranoia as Liberation Thanatology
Essays on the Weird

1. The Dark Fantastic: The Wild Lands of the Monstrous Other
2. The Mad-Hatter Returns (Notes)
3. Fantastic Politics: Subversion, Symbolic Order, and Exit Strategy
4. The Daemonic Imaginal: Ecstasy and Horror of the Noumenon
5. David Roden: Aliens Under The Skin
6. Warren Ellis on the Silence of the Net
7. Gateway to the Real: Lovecraft, Ligotti, and the Inhuman
8. The Paraxial Realm: Dostoevskys Fantastic Truth
9. The Transgressive Fantastic
10. On Fantastic Horror and Cosmic Nihil
11. Surrealism and H.P. Lovecraft
12. Dark Vitalism and Lovecrafts Philosophy of Nature
13. The Post-Nihilist Sublime
14. The New Fantastic: The Carnival of the World
15. The Neon Demon: Decadence and the Art of Darkness
16. Angel of History vs. Demon of the Future
17. In the Uncertain Realms of the Fantastic
18. Secular Mysticsm: Pharmakon, Ritual, and Pain
19. Short History of Necropunk Philosophy
20. Hyperstitional Closure: Historical Change as Retro-Virus
21. Lee Braver on Philip K. Dicks Ubik as Postmodern Gnosticism
22. The Philosopher as a Young Madman
23. Franco Bifo Berardi: The Joker Steps Out of the Mirror
24. Nick Land: Philo-Fiction, Chasm, and the Abstract Manifesto
25. Eugene Thacker: The Horror of Philosophy
26. Eugene Thacker: In the Dust of this Planet
27. Depressive Realism: Psychosis, Solipsism, and the Real
28. Chasing the Void: Modernity, Abstraction, and Aesthetics
29. Times Prisoners: Nietzsche, Burroughs and the Rift
30. Toward a Non-Conceptual Fantastic
31. On Fantastic Horror and Cosmic Nihil
32. A Fondness for the Damned
33. The Mad-Hatter Returns
34. Mash-ups, Rhizomes, Funereal Surgery
35. The Satyrs Play
36. Joseph Addison: The Fairy Way of Writing
37. Our Necrophilic Culture of Doom
38. Creative Destruction: The Age of Metamorphosis
39. Nick Land: Philo-Fiction, Chasm, and the Abstract Manifesto
40. The Cosmology of Nick Land: Bataille, Gnosticism, and Contemporary Physics
41. The Curse of the Sun: Libidinal Materialism as the Composition of the Universe
42. The Horror of Thought and Dark Pantheism
43. Emile Cioran: The Fall into Time
44. Emile Cioran: On Sainthood as a Form of Despair
45. Graham Harman: An Ontology of Forces and Actions
46. E.M. Cioran on Borges
47. E.M. Cioran and Slavoj Zizek: A Difficult Gnosis
48. E.M. Cioran The Irreparable Uniqueness Of Things
49. E.M. Ciorans Revenge: The Triumph of Failure

50. E.M. Cioran: The Delusions of our Sadness
51. La Sorcire: Jules Michelet and the Literature of Evil
52. Meditations in Black (1) Aberrations of the Impossible
53. The Occult Revival Literature, Hermeticism, Magic and Philosophy
54. La Sorcire: Jules Michelet and the Literature of Evil
55. Fredric Jameson On David Wittenbergs Time Travel: The Popular Philosophy of
56. Paul Virilio: The Anti-City
57. Topology of the Unknown: A Fantastic Anthropology
58. The Grand Illusionist: The Non-Existent Self
59. The Folds of Horror: Notes on Ligotti, Lovecraft, and Philosophy

Grotesque & Macabre

Isolation, anchoring, distraction, and sublimation are among the wiles we use to keep ourselves
from dispelling every illusion that keeps us up and running. Without this cognitive double-
dealing, we would be exposed for what we are. It would be like looking into a mirror and for a
moment seeing the skull inside our skin looking back at us with its sardonic smile. And beneath
the skull only blackness, nothing.
-Thomas Ligotti, The Conspiracy against the Human Race: A Contrivance of Horror
In Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection (1982), Julia Kristeva describes the process of
abjection as a form of expulsion and rejection of the Other, which she ties to the historical
exclusion of women. Neither subject nor object, the abject, or the state of abjection, is
articulated in, and through, grotesque language and imagery. The process of abjection is, then,
associated with deformed bodies and oozing bodily fluids: blood, pus, bile, faeces, sweat and
vomit break down the borders separating the inside from outside, the contained from the
released. Abjection is a state of flux, where meaning collapses, and the body is open and
irregular, sprouting or protruding internal and external forms to link abjection to grotesquerie.
The Grotesque in art and life was always centered on the gap between culture and nature, the
reality of the body as the mediator between mind and environment. For Bakhtin in his studies of
the grotesque and carnivaliesque it is the laughing human body that becomes the emblem for
this longed-for harmony between culture and nature. The notion of laughter
as communication between mind and environment, as the drift of things in the gap would
preoccupy comedic, satiric, and grotesque dramatists, essayists, poets, and novelists from
Aristophanes to Pynchon and beyond. For Bergson, laughter is the embodiment of suppleness
in a society and a punishment to those who ossify in their habits, reactions, and attitudes and
therefore cease to perform sufficiently well. But Bakhtin also modifies Bergson in that he frees
his conception of laughter from its punitive elements by stressing the liberating and joyful
experience of laughing.
Rabelais in his great grotesques was moving toward that inhuman laughter of the monstrous
alterity that risks the boundary zones between reason and unreason, knowledge and
nonknowledge (Bataille). In laughter we find the key to unlock what Bataille would call
the philosophy of non-savoir, where laughter not the comedy of existence subordinated to
reason and human identity ruptures the abject and enters the regions of Nietzsches grand
baroque, where the abyss of laughter reverberates in nonknowledge and excess.
Bataille believed that laughter is sovereign, and that comic literature had been suborned to its
lowly position because it stepped outside reason and philosophy, that it dared to cause havoc in

the House of Reason. Rather than just attempting to philosophize comedy, Bataille treats
philosophy as comedy. Like Rabelais he gave attentive lesion to an affinity with surrealism and
celebration of cultural forms expressing the irrational, the unthinkable, and the impossible
(such as death, ecstasy, ritual, sacrifice, the erotic, the comic, and the sacred) has been extended
to theorizations that interrogate both the philosophical underpinning of society and our cultural
frames of reference. Laughter as negation and communication.
Below are some of the essays on the Abject Grotesque:

Country Noir: On Writers That Sustain Me

Drone music is the sound of death
Laszlo Krasznahorkais The Melancholy of Resistance
Discovering Crypt(o)spasm: The Madness of Abstract Horror
Death Unbound: The Intelligence of Machines
R. Scott Bakker: Medial Neglect and Black Boxes
The Suicide Machine
Cosmic Horror: Spinoza, Poe, and Lovecraft
The New Fantastic: The Carnival of the World
Grotesque Modernity: Saturnalia in the Ruins of Time
E.M. Cioran: The Delusions of our Sadness
Julia Kristeva and the Abject Grotesque
Thomas Ligotti: The Order of Illusion
Flannery OConnor: The Southern Comic Grotesque
Gary J. Shipley: Theoretical Animals
The Grotesque in Art and Poetry
Joseph Nechvatal: Destroyer of Naivets
The Preacher Man (Southern Comic Grotesque)
News from the Zombie Wars: A Grotesque Tale
A Nights Grotesquerie
Zizek on Kant and Hegel: the Grotesque, Macabre, and The Ugly
Gastronomique Comedia: Rabelais and Bataille Anti-Philosophy of Laughter
On Being Southern: Faulkner and the Southern Writer
Balzacs Master Criminal: The Great Vitalist Vautrin
The Dark Fantastic: The Wild Lands of the Monstrous Other
The Smile at the Foot of Time: The Enigma of Judge Holden in Cormac Maccarthys
Blood Meridian
Toward a Non-Conceptual Fantastic
Our Necrophilic Culture of Doom
Fantastic Worlds: From the Surreal to the Transreal
The Automatic Society: Technics, Memory, and Capitalism
The Neon Demon: Decadence and the Art of Darkness
George Carlin: Dark Laughter of the Trickster
The Age of Disgust: The Coming Civil-War of the World
Thomas Ligotti, Miami: The Collapse of the Real
Mtis: Cunning Intelligence in Greek Thought
Cunning Intelligence: The Wiley Craftsman and Practical Knowledge
Cunning Intelligence
On Photography

Gary J. Shipley: Theoretical Animals
Posted on June 28, 2016

Gary J. Shipley is not for everyone, yet those of us aficionados of the grotesque and
macabre, who come upon his work realize right off the bat this is the real deal. Few can travel
into these perilous waters without getting burned, much less scorched by the forces below the
threshold. Shipley makes it seem simple, as if he were born of this dark carnival, complicit in
its revealing and its apocalypse. Thing is about Shipley hes been mutating ahead of us for a
while now, going where most of us only envision nightmares never realizing the truth of our
waking lives was staring us in the face all the time. Gary strips us of our filters, strips us of our
protective Human Security Systems, lays bare the world around us that for the most part we
would rather lock away. A world that is both vital and full of forces unregistered in the
hinterlands of our psyche.

Gary inhabits this interstitial zone for us, brings us to the limit, to the brink and opens our eyes
to the monstrous beauty of the earth we for the most part are blind too. Gary lives there, a
modern day shaman whose travels in transit, voyage into an infernal paradise by way of an
updated mapping of the old Tibetan Bardol. Given his temperament and tendencies toward a
completed nihilism, one may need to short list his discoveries, catalogue the secret ruins hes
uncovering to understand the itinerary of his travelogue journals.

Take a recent adventure, Theoretical Animals. Set in a near future graveyard of our world, a
London in post-Apocalyptic demise. Here he wanders the shadowlands of its extreme collapse
forging from secretive and forgotten knowledge the collective memories we can only hint at:
those compositions and decompositions of a collapsing thought world, the detritus of a

thousand lives spent forgetting time and history only to be resurrected in a realm this side of
reality a place some philosophers used to term the Real. Shipley conceives this fantastic zone
within a conceptual framework of visionary materialism that rewires the very nerves to adapt
the wary intruder into a world no longer human, or much rather in excess of humanity, a
world at once disconnected from our very past, yet barely composed within the meta-instability
of its darker catastrophes. Here what remains of the human lives out its meager existence in a
woven semblance of a locked-in prison house of decaying security systems, inhuman
algorithms, manufactured relays between rhizomatic labyrinths cold, cruel, icy worlds of pure
In this realm a mother and son seem to drift upon future Thames in a post-Apocalyptic London
like children of warped time-world. Within the mothers gaze floated a boat of matted blood,
with no London appliance beyond a rope.1 This is a haptic sensuality of an exposed realm of
death in extremity, the visceral meshing of bodies in vibrant ecstasy on the edge of an
impossible future. Her son appears to speak, to be telling a tale that he himself almost
disbelieves: Im wearing the look of the covered, to a short time with things off your face.
Language is spliced, it dances among ruins of verbs and nouns, the structure of language like
the ruins through which they seem to wander has been corrupted and is corrupting. The sons
only friends appear as the faces of dead sailors, their water-logged torsos bobbing, plaintive
jewels in rotten marrow-bled riverways.

Each paragraph is set off typographically with bold typeset, set adrift on the blank sea of the
page like a prose poem stretched across an abyss, each word lost among its distempered
fragments like members of a lost tribe seeking a key to open the imprisoning cell theyve been
tossed into. This is prose at the breaking point of intelligibility, a carefully crafted enactment
where words inhabit the thing they reveal, live the life of the blackness they perform.
Hyperstitional habitations of linguistic models from a future that is already collapsing within
our brains, revealing the threads of a supernal world of rich and lavish pain where the sacred
violence of our secular wastelands gives way once again to the dark gods of old. An atheistic
paradise where the constructions of material excess reveal the darkness to be alive, a
welcoming to the horrors and terrors weve all been seeking under the cover of reason.
Children of the Enlightenment weve come a long way to die at the hands of our own progeny,
become victims of our own complicity in creation a creation that is at once catastrophe and

In the distance unseen mothers wail from the shore, the robbed stares of their loss hidden,
aural guests coiling hair-brushed poison to our table. One imagines Dantes Inferno, but that
would be to spare the reality for a fantasy which Shipley will not let you do. No. You will be
entreated to no longer turn your head away, assume it is all a matter of tropes, allegories of
some future punishment; instead you are living through the truth of your own future, a future
that is full of terror and beauty, of death and decay. A place that fascinates and repels at once.

This is a place where even a sentence of diluted intensity and common violence washes up
and washes out among the dark contours of your mind like presentiments of world that
surrounds you already in the shadows of each step you take. A world that peers back at you in
the innocent gesture of a young girl reaching out to you for a dime or nickel, or from the
alleyway where you see an old man digging through the trash bins for bottles or who-knows-
what. Yes, this is the world we are all constructing together, the ruins of our civilization at last

revealing what lay there in the tumbling stones all along. A world where numb voyeurs
adorned and physical / crumpled memories stored for cold future lay there silently in the
dustbins of the future like broken toys gathering dust in a forlorn attic.

Shipley reveals nothing more nor nothing less than our own world seen askew, to one side of
us; a realm where the actual traverses the fantasy, the schizflows wander through
sidereal time bringing us the revelations of civilizations final chapters, the swan songs of an
eclipsed humanity giving way to a monstrous progeny. A place where the Green ghosts of
little girls dance free of the fire. Where lonely things hiding behind withered nostalgia passed
slowly through the cries, and time cornered into days, and time This is the place where
things neither rest nor end. A place where there are no new shows, and no new stages on
which to perform them. There are only museums and freshly branded fools making marks in
the dust.

Welcome to Shipleys world. A dark place where the dank ruin of the worlds immortal toys
discover the wreck of the impossible, where memorized silence details the transfer of
everything, and the [n]egation of action is the most courageous of mutations. A final
warning is given:

Wait! Heed this at least: underlying this threat are the infected books of a cagy group of
deranged dreamers.

You have been warned!!!

Enter the labyrinthine wonderlands of Gary J. Shipley. Visit Gary at his blogspot:

Gary J. Shipley: Quote of the Day!
Posted on September 25, 2016

Chris Mars: Paintings

I come to Proust on bended knee: It seems that the taste for books grows with intelligence []
So, the great writers, during those hours when they are not in direct communication with their
thought, delight in the society of books. And as, with a shaky bowel, I anticipate looking out
from this scoffing nowhere of broken spines and laden shelves, feel free to browse the clutter of
words I have collected, words from which I formed the tools of death.
Gary J Shipley

Discovering Crypt(o)spasm Gary J. Shipley: The Madness of Abstract Horror
Posted on September 26, 2016

Discovering Crypt(o)spasm: The Madness of Abstract Horror; or, A Pessimists Labyrinth of


I am reading the book I am always reading: Fernando Pessoas The Book of Disquiet.
-Gary J. Shipley, Interview with David F. Hoenigman
As Im reading through Gary J. Shipleys Crypt(0)spasm which recently was rereleased I began
seeking some trace of its madness, a penchant of its epileptic thrust into a cataleptic

disgruntlement, a mere morsel of sense from the dark divers corporeal agon something,
anything, that might bring me a dribble, here or there, out of the millions and millions of bits of
data crunched by the googlemeister machines and threaded display tags of monstrous
inveiglements, that could assuredly spawn and generate some semblance or preparation, some
tribute or defamation of this grand and impossible nightmare of a work. To my dismay the
work of Mr. Shipley one of those that Thomas Ligotti that corrupter of the young and old
alike, would deem a Connoisseur of the Pessimists Dark Art is barely visible in the cultural
limelight, much less entrenched in the daft anarchy of trivia and inane knots of intellectual fare
one typically discovers on the net; rather he seems to have gone down into the declivities where
fellow agonists of the corruption follow the trail into madness and despair, the lair and
shadowed circle of compeers who seek not the famed exigencies of the tribe of light, but rather
of the impossible excess of that abyss from which nothing will ever and, I say, ever return.
But does this dismay Mr. Shipley? Doubtlessly, not. Like many of us he is knowing of
his (non)place in the social lights a mere surface tension of disreputable intelligence, rather
than a site of gaming wit and intellect as one will find in his extravagant divagations and
crepuscular nocturnes. Its as if the liberal press in some great consort of suspicion has gone to
great lengths to filter and silence such works as Shipley and other pessimistically inclined
purveyors of our dark estate, who generate with such equanimity and calculated risk the
artifacts of disillusionment and the grotesquerie of twisted enlightenment, publish for the
select few. And, yet, it is in such texts as these that those who seek a worthy guide into the
intricacies of the unbinding from illusions, those very wary readers who slip nightly into the
interminable zones of abject horror: abstract layers where the analytical and continental mind
thrive in the interstices of a forlorn universe of multiplicity, would find in the thermospasms of
conjectured confabulation the unbinding circuits of madness and death that generates the
energetic creativity that is our catastrophic universe and the glory of our literature of terrors and
awakenings to the insane truth.
Shipley in a recent interview tells us that [f]iction, for me, then, is like an extended thought
experiment, but a thought experiment in which style and form are as much themes as they are
expositional tools. In short, the difference is that between explaining and showing which is
not to say that there can be no overlap.
I found one review on Fanzine by David Peak who mentions an email he received from Gary
concerning his request about the said work, which as Im reading it seems not only worthy of
being the successor of many of the great modernist and postmodernist works too numerous to
mention, but to take on that crypto(de)logical and spasmatic world of farcical interpretability of
10,000 flowers of non-readers who will never ever delve into the endless mazes and doubled-
gin loops and rhizomes of this beast of a labyrinth where a message a sign, a null word or
focal point into Oblivion and Annihilation a last word on all that is Impossible must in its
inexistence exist: that ambiguous paradox of the monstrous thing we are and are not
David Peak received this one moment of sanity from said Mr. Shipley:

Crypt(o)spasm explores the idea of the novel as an impossible object. Its themes are myriad
and drunken, sprawling and wretched and philosophicand then the inescapable synonymy of
the final two. It gives us death as it takes it away. And there are herds and there are individuals:
zeros piled up end on end on top of zeros. Questions are asked of men living out their own
thought experiments. Answers are lived in consecutive intervals sucked of death while framed
in its disappearance. A coded message is hidden and then revealed. Others are buried, their
insides clogged, and they are not found. The book is ill with itself.

Which stands to reason as unreasoning madness, and yet as we discover in Peaks fananalyzer:
When I asked him about his background, Gary responded, Although the distinction is by no
means unequivocal, I started off very much in the analytic camp, but have since cultivated just
as much interest in the continental and theory side of philosophy, my stylistic concentrations
having mutated along the way. I guess everything I write comes from a place of what you
might call philosophical confusion: paradoxes, seemingly unavoidable dead-ends of thought,
intellectual contrivances, the physical potential of the abstract, intractable lacunas, and all of it
growing steadily murkierwhich is also, every now and then, those same things becoming

As he said to David F. Hoenigman in another interview asked, Is there a message in your work
that you want readers to grasp? Shipley responded, saying: Borrowing a fragment from
Heraclitus, Id say one of the key messages is that [t]he hidden attunement is better than the
obvious one. I am celebrating enigma as an end in itself, an all-pervasive telos: the tangled
spine of metaphysics, morality and aesthetics enigma as driving force and (hidden) end. Like
Heraclitus, I too write in the hope that my words will not be taken only in one sense (that which
is most apparent), but that their variant senses will open up new, and possibly more rewarding,
This notion of the enigma was once described eloquently by V.S. Naipaul in his The Enigma of
Arrival (after a painting by Chirico of that name): It was a violent booknot violent in its
incidents, but in its emotions. It was a book about fear. All the jokes were silenced by this fear.
And the mist that hung over the valley where I was writing
Nor did it occur to me that it was also an attempt to find a story for, to give coherence to, a
dream or nightmare which for a year or so had been unsettling me. In this dream there
occurred always, at a critical moment in the dream narrative, what I can only describe as an
explosion in my head. It was how every dream ended, with this explosion that threw me flat on
my back, in the presence of people, in a street, a crowded room, or wherever, threw me into this
degraded posture in the midst of standing people, threw me into the posture of sleep in which I
found myself when I awakened. The explosion was so loud, so reverberating and slow in my
head that I felt, with the part of my brain that miraculously could still think and draw
conclusions, that I couldnt possibly survive, that I was in fact dying, that the explosion this
time, in this dream, regardless of the other dreams that had revealed themselves at the end as
dreams, would kill, that I was consciously living through, or witnessing, my own death. And
when I awoke my head felt queer, shaken up, exhausted; as though some discharge in my brain
had in fact occurred.1
The explosion is the message that seems to sit there in the abyss like a piece of the primordial
puzzle, a hint to the enigma of ones self and ones mysterious origins in the mad machine of
unbounded time I am barely into this enigmatic tale by Shipley, yet already I feel that
disquieting nausea, the desperate attunement of my inner experience, the deathly appurtenances
of an inexplicable enigma at the core of my own darkness rising to meet this challenge that is
the Impossible message hidden in the labyrinth of this abyss Crypt(o)spasm the convulsive
ecstasy of an intemperate thought, an abstract horror of efficient and transparent shudders
awaiting any and all who dare enter its mad halls. One could say of Mr. Shipleys oeuvre what
Fernando Pessoa or, one of his alterinhabitants, said in the pages of The Book of Disquiet: In
these random impressions, and with no desire to be other than random, I indifferently narrate
my factless autobiography, my lifeless history. These are my Confessions, and if in them I say
nothing, its because I have nothing to say. Those who assume that the nothingness
of things means emptiness or void as positive usually think of some depleted experimental

bottle of quantum energy brought into a vacuum which is the opposite of nothing and
nothingness the truth, if such a thing exists, is that the void is less than nothing and is a
fullness, a plenum, a Pleroma of pure energy a spasm or even thermospasm of energetic
darkness full of sound and fury ready to explode upon all that is and is not, an inexistent power
to ignite a cosmic catastrophe. The negative in pessimism is the acknowledgement of a realism
that sees into things rather than merely registering their obvious positive feature sets and
sensual properties gathering the dust motes of our ordinary perceptions. Shipleys opus
negative offers you a disquieting movement into that catastrophic inner experience of those
moments at the edge of our cosmic catastrophe wherein the dark light that generated this
corruption consumed itself in utter despair and madness, dying among the embers of an illusive
thought, an enigma that still remains impossible.
As he says to David Peak about the strange and mysterious character, Charles the author of
this catastrophe,
I wanted Charles to be hiding more than his hundreds of Nabokovian plums; I wanted him to be
encrypting a secret message (one secret even to himself), away from all those prying eyes, a
message that would guide him, act as prompt and voice when his own had deserted him. I
wanted to open up another opportunity for the book to exist as pretence, its only being there to
hide this voice, this coded message.
The notion of pretense coming from Anglo-French pretensse the putting forth of a
claim, which in our time of degradation has turned toward the dark and pretentious
bowdlerized inflection of false or hypocritical; as if the author was a mere fabricator of
illusions rather than their satirist, a workman of misguided direction, a slip-shoe trickster and
slide-of-hand artist of lesser festivals of absence and post-structuralist cynicism and
despair rather than a pessimist of that stark realism that shoots the gap between the false claims
and those that hit the mark between the eyes. No. One will not find the shibboleths of a tone-
deaf maestro here, but rather embark on a sound voyage in-between abstract thought and the
sensual immersion in the hellish paradise of our current malaise.
This BOOK is in apposite relation to those secular reversals of SACRED SCRIPTURES of
which Stphane Mallarm was either the end game victor or the primal instigator (see: Quentin
Meillassouxs, The Number and the Siren: A Decipherment of Mallarmes Coup De Des as a
recent investigation). That whole tradition of farcical works of which James Joyce or a John
Barth or a jesting insomniacs dream Infinite Jest (David Foster Wallace) are but the blipscreen
testsessions, the black box algorithmic hot toppers and mathematical spin whims of broken
universes If one were a Pessimist (which I am!) this is the work for you which is probably
why it is not mentioned by all those mainstream liberal progressive optimists of the good life,
those dime novel critics who sport the flavor of the day in trite anecdotes of moral warmth and
cuddly doodles on the NY Times Readers list or other well-known nonthought systems of
the status quo imbecility. This is not the tomb of thought, but rather the burial ground of your
illusions, a site where time and space enter the quantum brain and churn the Milky Way of
Dreams into Nightmares where one begins to twist into that enfolding labyrinth of enigma
and mystery and wander interminably or awaken from the madness that is ones suborned cage
of desires; or, the wanderings of the intractable life one leads in the voidic zones of our present
fragmentation. Either way one must accept the challenge, enter the corridors of impossible
dreamscapes and nightmare villages, surrender to the abysmal carnival of dark thoughts, and
discover ones own Ariadne thread out of the illusory world of your confounded self let the
festival of catastrophe begin:

Buy Crypt(o)spasm
Visit Gary at his site: The Prosthetics

An Interview With Gary J. Shipley

by David F. Hoenigman

Gary J. Shipley is a writer and philosopher based in the UK. He has published in
international, peer-reviewed philosophy journals, including Analysis, Mind, and
Anthropology and Philosophy. He is also the author of five novels currently under
consideration with various publishers.

David Hoenigman: What projects are you currently working on?

Gary J. Shipley: A book of philosophy entitled Contrivances: On Lacunae,

Abstracta and Quasi-Materials. In it I focus on my three main areas of
philosophical research: personal identity, ethics/metaethics, and aesthetics. A lot of
the themes I investigate in my philosophical work are also present in my fiction,
although the methods I employ to illuminate them are often very different.

DH: Can you explain some of these methods?

GS: In my philosophical work the idea is to make everything as transparent as

possible, to arrive at solid conclusions. While writing philosophy I am first and

foremost in the service of reason and empirical data. But sometimes (more and
more frequently) I feel that there is more to be said, or if not said shown, and that
whatever it is that needs to be said or shown isn't susceptible to transparency in the
same way, if at all. Fiction, for me, then, is like an extended thought experiment, but
a thought experiment in which style and form are as much themes as they are
expositional tools. In short, the difference is that between explaining and showing
which is not to say that there can be no overlap.

DH: Who or what has influenced your writing?

GS: A love of solitude and the study of philosophy.

DH: How has your environment/upbringing colored your writing?

GS: C^0 is set primarily in the small seaside town in which I was brought up, and is
peopled, in part, with individuals that have at one time or another inhabited the
place. The rest of my books deliberately exclude almost all reference to locations
you'd find on a map, or people that'd bleed if you cut them.

DH: Why do you avoid reference to locations?

GS: Aside from C^0, in which location serves a different purpose, I wanted the
spatial details to be constructed from necessity. I wanted them to be like flimsy
stage sets that pop up when the novel demands them, only to be disposed of without
a second thought when they are no longer required. By utilising this approach I
hoped to shift the balance of concentration in order to see what happened, to see
how the narrative and the characters adapted to fill the void. Ultimately, it is the
domain of the work itself that interests me the work as embodiment of the
experience of remoteness itself. This is nowhere more present than in C^0, for
despite its worldly setting, the primary focus remains its own internal placelessness,
genuine location being used as a way of better explicating the transformative vigour
of literary space.

The main character in The Flesh Technique, himself a writer, expresses his own
particular take on this point in the following passage:

"My wife is a museum curator. You don't need to know her name, my name, the
name of the museum, the name of the country or the town in which we live. You
don't need to know any of these things. Would you be able to imagine her any better
if I was to tell you her name? If I told you her name was Julia Holloway would it
make any difference? Well, did it? That, by the way, in case you were wondering, is
not her name. I am sick of the emptiness of proper names, unless they are logically
proper of course I mean, who could do without them? [...] What I have to say will
not be made any clearer by my furnishing you with names. You will have to learn to
live without them. The names have not been omitted in order to protect the
anonymity of persons living and dead; they have been omitted so that I don't have to
think them up and write them down and you don't have to read them. I will tell you
what you need to know."

DH: Is there a message in your work that you want readers to grasp?

GS: Borrowing a fragment from Heraclitus, I'd say one of the key messages is that
"[t]he hidden attunement is better than the obvious one." I am celebrating enigma
as an end in itself, an all-pervasive telos: the tangled spine of metaphysics, morality
and aesthetics enigma as driving force and (hidden) end. Like Heraclitus, I too
write in the hope that my words will not be taken only in one sense (that which is
most apparent), but that their variant senses will open up new, and possibly more
rewarding, territories. C^0 and Theoretical Animals are the two novels in which
this desire is expressed most concretely, as both books feature their own warped

DH: What do you mean by warped duplicates?

GS: I mean that in both cases the text of the first half of the novel is used again, its
original message manipulated and distorted, constantly taking the reader back into
the work.

DH: What book are you reading now?

GS: In addition to various philosophical texts, I am reading the book I am always

reading: Fernando Pessoa's The Book of Disquiet.

DH: Any memories of particular works: the writing of, feedback, the thought

GS: I have five novels currently under consideration with various publishers. They
were all completed this year. Their titles are as follows: C^0, The Flesh Technique,
Theoretical Animals, The Lice Killers (featuring text from Kenji Siratori)
and roman. All of them explore the potential of literature to illustrate and embody
philosophical observations. Although I have only just started trying to find a home
for my fiction, it has already received praise from, among others, N. Frank Daniels
(Futureproof), Nic Kelman (Girls), Reza Negarestani (Cyclonopedia), P. D. Smith
(The Doomsday Men), and your good self.

DH: Did you plan to complete all these novels at roughly the same time?

GS: No. It just happened that way. In the last two years I have been able to finish
long-term projects and to start and complete further ones: I worked on C^0 for over
five years; The Flesh Technique was something that I wrote then revisited and
largely wrote again in the last year; Theoretical Animals and The Lice Killers were
written in the last couple of years; and the nature of roman (an experimental novel
almost exclusively comprised from the donated texts of other writers) meant that I
could fit it in around other things and yet still complete it in a matter of months.

About the author:

David F. Hoenigman is the author of Burn Your Belongings.