Archive for the ‘Horror’ Category

Moral Terror

Before we get around to bravely denouncing — with whatever degree of theatricality falls just short of laughable camp — those ‘sociopaths’ or ‘psychopaths’ who are effortless indifferent to intuitive qualms, perhaps we can agree that such anomalous psychological types are definitively incapable of moral terror. In this respect, they are human precursors of that which, from a strictly functional point of view, we want our military robotics control systems to be. They have no squeamishness to overcome. Stone cold killers no doubt exist, and even more certainly soon will. If moral terror is the topic, however, they fall entirely outside it.

A discussion of the roots of moral intuition far exceeds the reasonable ambition of a modest blog post. Those wanting to plug it more or less directly into God will do so. Even radical religious skeptics, however, are unable to deny the fact of very basic, deeply pre-reflective moral commitments as a human norm. The scientific literature alone is now huge. There is no serious controversy about the existence of a ‘sense or right and wrong’ (irrespective of its variability regarding specifics) as a fundamental component of human evolved psychology. This only needs to be said because of widespread childish delusions that ‘moral nihilism’ could be considered a default condition of the non-indoctrinated human individual. ‘Wolf-boy’ is still a moral animal.

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February 27, 2015admin 55 Comments »
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Twitter cuts (#11)

I’m going to put up a post on moral terror later, if I get a chance. A little background:


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February 27, 2015admin 26 Comments »
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Sam X

There has to be a shot of horror in there, but I’m not going to lock onto it in time. (Next Yule, it’s a firm date.) “Santa Claus, Claws of Satan. Saint Nick, Old Nick. Coincidence? I don’t think so.” — yes, but that’s far too familiar to work, without a twist.

The hook, beside the obvious reversals (a sack full of children, the lashed-elf sweat shop bunker deep in the polar ice) is the peculiarity of the Santa Claus myth — which is designed to be disbelieved, as a kind of modern rite-of-passage. There’s a side to this worthy of affirmation. Discarding attractive wish-fulfillment myths is a cultural achievement whose massive generalization is long overdue. ‘Santa Claus’ as the idiot god of beneficent unreality is the proto-deity of every lunacy advanced modernity has been subjected to. There’s also another side …

“Santa won’t save us.” If that was something people really grew out of before voting age, there wouldn’t be a left-of-center political party remaining anywhere in the world. This suggests something very different is going on. A ritualized social training in disbelief seems ominously unprecedented, so one naturally wonders about the religious formation that commands this recently innovated power. If there is a disbelief that would set us free, the modern ceremony of Yule — celebrating the occult death of Santa at the Golgotha of secularism — doesn’t seem to be it. On the contrary, it represents a populist version of the Jacobin-Enlightenment Cult of Reason, symbolically purging infantile superstition to be reborn into an approved state of adult consciousness. The Death of Santa is mystery initiation into the New Church. Santa died to redeem humanity from the sins of attachment to Medieval unreason, and every year this sacrifice is ritualistically re-enacted to recall the new covenant. (Go on, tell me this isn’t the narrative.)

Someone ought to write a story about it …

December 24, 2014admin 16 Comments »
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Phyl-Undhu

This is what my third half has been doing recently:

Phyl Undhu

December 21, 2014admin 8 Comments »
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Abstract Horror (Note-1a)

Robin Hanson on the Great Filter for TED. It’s too well done to hold back until next Friday. “Something out there is killing everything, and you’re next. … You should be worried.” (He has the nightmare smile down to a T.)

December 13, 2014admin 11 Comments »
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Malthusian Horror

The post is pitched like this because it’s Friday night, but it works. A more dutiful post might have been entitled simply ‘Malthus’ and involved a lot of work. That’s going to be needed at some point. (Here‘s the 6th edition of An Essay on the Principle of Population, for anyone who wants to get started now.) A more thoroughly technical approach would have been flagged ‘Neo-Malthusianism’. While sympathizing with groans about another ‘neo-‘ prefix, in this case it would have been solidly justified. It’s only through expansion of the Malthusian insight in accordance with a more general conservation law that its full current relevance can be appreciated. Classic Malthus still does far more work than it is credited with, but it contains a principle of far more penetrating application.

‘Neo-‘ at its most frivolous is merely a mark of fashion. When employed more seriously, it notes an element of innovation. Its most significant sense includes not only novelty, but also abstraction. Something is carried forwards in such a way that its conceptual core is distilled through extraction from a specific context, achieving a higher generality, and more exact formality. Malthus partially anticipates this in a phrase that points beyond any excessively constrictive concreteness:

Malthus00

The qualification “in some shape or other” might have been drawn from abstract horror, and “premature death” only loosely binds it. Even so, this formulation remains too narrow, since it tends to exclude the dysgenic outcome, which we have since learnt is a dimension of Malthusian expression scarcely less imposing than resource crisis. A Neo-Malthusian account of the “X” which in some shape or other makes a grim perversity of all humanity’s efforts to improve its condition grasps it as a mathematically conserved, plastic, or abstract destiny, working as remorselessly through reductions of mortality (Malthusian ‘relaxations’) as through increases (Malthusian ‘pressures’). Both would count equally as “checks on population” — each convertible, through a complex calculus, into the terms of the other. A population dysgenically deteriorated through ‘enlightened’ Malthusian relaxation learns, once again, how to starve.

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November 14, 2014admin 37 Comments »
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Abstract Horror (Note-3)

Nicola Masciandaro discusses the method of ‘hyper-literal anagogy’ in the introduction to his exquisite book Sufficient Unto the Day: Sermones Contra Solicitudinem (p.3-4, also here):

It thus naturally tends to seize semantically on the substantiality of the negative and on what might have been said otherwise but was not — a not that is felt to contain the secret of everything. For example, Meister Eckhart’s exegesis of Paul’s blinding vision on the road to Damascus entirely ignores the ordinary, regular sense of “and when his eyes were opened he saw nothing” (Acts 9:8) [apertisque oculis nihil videbat] in favor of a mystically literal plenitude of possibilities: “I think this text has a fourfold sense. One is that when he rose up from the ground with open eyes he saw Nothing, and the Nothing was God; for when he saw God he calls that Nothing. The second: when he got up he saw nothing but God. The third: in all things he saw nothing but God. The fourth: when he saw God, he saw all things as nothing.”[2] Similarly, Augustine’s well-known statement as to the unknowable knowability of time — “What therefore is time? If no one [nemo] asks me, I know; if I want to explain it to someone questioning me, I do not know”[3] — may be (im)properly read as saying that time is known in the positively negative presence of a nemo, a not-man (ne+homo) who asks about time, a pure question posed by nobody. The presence of this no-one who is still there, a senseless letter-spirit and sudden negative indication upon which superlative understanding depends, provides a fitting structural figure for this method and an image of its divinatory, daimonic form, its sortilegic reading of received signs.

[2] Meister Eckhart, The Complete Mystical Works, trans. Maurice O’C Walshe (New York: Crossroad Publishing, 2009), Sermon 19, p. 142.
[3] “Quid est ergo tempus? Si nemo ex me quaerat, scio; si quaerenti explicare velim, nescio” (Augustine, Confessions, 11.14).

sud-cover-copy

Between The Nothing and Abstract Horror there is no difference. Some related hints (and others). Eventually we reach the Vast Abrupt.

November 12, 2014admin 3 Comments »
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Into the Dark

As the Occident subsides into an ocean of shadow, the FBI is noticing:

“We’re seeing more and more cases where we believe significant evidence resides on a phone or a laptop, but we can’t crack the password,” FBI Director Jim Comey said during a speech in Washington. “If this becomes the norm … justice may be denied.” […] Specifically, Comey said he is “deeply concerned” about what’s known as “going dark” — operating systems being developed by companies such as Apple and Google that automatically encrypt information on their devices. And that means even the companies themselves won’t be able to unlock phones, laptops and other devices so law enforcement can access emails, photos or other evidence that could be crucial to a case …

Comey, however, didn’t place full blame with companies like Apple and Google for creating devices with such encryption. They were “responding to what they perceive is a market demand” from the general public, which has grown “mistrustful of government” in the wake of Edward Snowden’s disclosures of secret government surveillance. […] Encryption “is a marketing pitch,” Comey said. “But it will have very serious consequences for law enforcement and national security agencies at all levels. Sophisticated criminals will come to count on these means of evading detection. It’s the equivalent of a closet that can’t be opened. A safe that can’t be cracked. And my question is, at what cost?”

A process of Exit-in-place is underway, automatically, and it’s not easy to imagine how it could be stopped. With message management disintegrating on one side, and the public sphere eroding into dark nets on the other, it must seem to the State in the age of Internet runaway that the walls are closing in.

October 24, 2014admin 21 Comments »
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Quote note (#118)

On the persistence of Lovecraft’s influence:

Lovecraft, who died five months before his 47th birthday, also “shrewdly created an American pantheon of horror,” [Leslie S.] Klinger said of the hardcore New Englander. “He was the first writer of supernatural literature to understand the psychological consequences of the generations of Puritanism and the warping of the human psyche that resulted.”

Lovecraft’s influence on [Alan] Moore lay in how the author was able to link the cosmic to the familiar. “Lovecraft’s most enduring influence on my own work is the way in which, consciously or otherwise, he managed to imbue the familiar New England landscape that was so dear and immediate to him with a sense of the universe’s dispiriting vastness and the blind, random nature of the forces governing it, a perspective drawn from his keen interest in contemporary science and astronomy,” Moore wrote to Speakeasy. “As the familiar worlds around us are increasingly invaded by alien ideas, today’s writers could do worse than look to the strategies of antiquarian-modernist H.P. Lovecraft.”

(If Neoreaction was still looking for a name, ‘antiquarian-modernism’ would be a definite candidate.)

October 15, 2014admin 8 Comments »
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Doom Paul

Doom Paul 00

Blame Bloom for luring me into this blasted landscape. (I agree with JAB that there’s something important going on here.)

A Doom Paul video selection (1, 2, 3).

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October 10, 2014admin 5 Comments »
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