Scrap note (#9)

I’m back in the Chinese West, this time with the family (nuclear plus mother-in-law). As I write I’m on the train from Lanzhou to Dunhuang, fabulously renowned for its Buddhist caves. It’s re-bonding-with-the-tablet time, then, which is a mechanical challenge – mostly due to incredibly dysfunctional cursor control, which I know everyone is on tenterhooks to hear more about …

… so, 24-hours later, there’s not much in the way of gripping travel news to report. We’re heading to the Mogao Caves tomorrow, which should be worth talking about. Up to now it’s been desert and donkey-meat and the general weirdness of the Chinese West, but with a mind oozing uselessly like gritty mud, it doesn’t add up to anything remotely profound. Perhaps later.

The thing I want to introduce tentatively here, because it has to be re-introduced more thoroughly quite soon, is hyperstition, and in particular; hyperstitional method. I’m getting the strong sense that there are things it simply won’t be possible to do otherwise. (I’ll try to explain.)

There are a variety of plausible ways to explain the basic ‘idea’ of hyperstition. The most pertinent of these, here, right now, is that it is an attempt to systematize the philosophical usage of fiction. By framing a philosophical discussion within fiction, rather than within an assumed consensual understanding, it is advanced as a perturbation of disbelief, rather than a modification of belief. How to proceed philosophically from the artificial background assumption that everything is a lie? That’s the hyperstitional question (whose Pyrrhonian and Gnostic resonances are immediately evident).

Practically speaking — which it always should be — the fork taken is to formulate thoughts within the ‘voice’ of a synthetic (fictional) subject instead of propounding them in the name of a privately and socially accredited one.  The preliminary hypothesis: greater experimental diversity of thinking is to be expected when it is conducted in the mode of ‘what might be thought’ — comparatively free of ego-commitment and first-order social games. (Orwellian ‘thought-stop’ is the confirmation of this hypothesis from the other side.)

Beginning from a fictional self has a Buddhist slant, to be discussed at some later point. Being in Dunhuang is what makes it worth mentioning at all.

While all of this is relevant to the problem under development as ‘sub-cognitive fragments’ (i.e. how to think), the return to the question of hyperstitional method, to me, has mostly come in the other direction. My philosophical retardation is infuriating, but my literary blockage is utterly intolerable. There is nothing of which I am more sure than that abstract literature, or metaphysical horror fiction radically pursued, is the undertaking which claims me, but there is equally nothing that calls forth more titanic forces of procrastination. The obstruction, quite obviously, is ‘me’ — and hyperstition suggests a solution to that, or at least, a method directed decisively towards a solution. Find the way to speak on behalf of that thing which can say what you cannot (or something like that).

What hyperstition has yet to fully do (I still believe), is to close the loop, subsuming itself definitively into fiction. It has to become a story, rather than a theory of stories, before it can be said to have attained consistency.

April 10, 2014admin 21 Comments »


21 Responses to this entry

  • Artxell Knaphni Says:

    Mereological Nihilism ( by Patrick Kirk, a project for Dr. James Kenneth Powell II.)

    [Shorter Version] science-ontology1-mereological-nihilism-2-kirk-07-reedit-09.wmv

    Be interesting to see what you think of this, admin.
    It’s a good presentation of a basic Buddhist philosophical consideration.
    It does lend itself to Vijnana school (Vasubandhu etc.) interpretations, with its emphasis on ‘consciousness’. Nagarjuna would not have accepted such a figuration as ‘absolute’.


    Posted on April 10th, 2014 at 2:42 pm Reply | Quote
  • qedstar Says:

    Search for Angelology of history.


    Posted on April 10th, 2014 at 3:00 pm Reply | Quote
  • RiverC Says:

    Yeats in his poetry often ‘speaks in the voice of another’ – it is a device taken to extremes, in that the person ‘Aedh’ and some of the other personae are not merely “a character for a narrative” but “other selves” that narrate in place of Yeats. One of the most eye-opening things for me was to get a chance to read his notes on his own poetry.

    This is a mechanic I have tried to crudely re-create, as I often find I have three perspectives on things, making for a kind of ‘voice of the will / voice of the mind / voice of the heart’ division. It also seems to correspond with waking/dreaming/sleeping states as well.

    I have rarely read of another poet (other than Yeats) that seems to be doing this; the poet is either telling you a story, or quoting a person in the story, or merely calling forth an image or an opinion. Archibald Macleish wrote an ‘Ars Poetica’ which seems to be an opinion. But Yeats we might expect would write “Michael Robartes instructs his Love on the writing of Verse” – a poem where we can expect that Yeats is not even the narrator. Yeat’s opinions might enter in, but if so it will be indirect.

    The poem ‘He Remembers Forgotten Beauty’ has an alternate title ‘Michael Robartes remembers Forgotten Beauty’ (the original, I think) which James Joyce *sort of* misinterprets. In some way Yeats does not express *his* opinion at all…

    WHEN my arms wrap you round I press
    My heart upon the loveliness
    That has long faded from the world;
    The jewelled crowns that kings have hurled
    In shadowy pools, when armies fled;
    The love-tales wrought with silken thread
    By dreaming ladies upon cloth
    That has made fat the murderous moth;
    The roses that of old time were
    Woven by ladies in their hair,
    The dew-cold lilies ladies bore
    Through many a sacred corridor
    Where such grey clouds of incense rose
    That only God’s eyes did not close:
    For that pale breast and lingering hand
    Come from a more dream-heavy land,
    A more dream-heavy hour than this;
    And when you sigh from kiss to kiss
    I hear white Beauty sighing, too,
    For hours when all must fade like dew.
    But flame on flame, and deep on deep,
    Throne over throne where in half sleep,
    Their swords upon their iron knees,
    Brood her high lonely mysteries.

    (Joyce misinterprets [possible on purpose–], not understanding that “long faded from the world” is a Christian allusion to paradise. His imagery confuses and obscures this [on purpose—] by invoking the reactionary paradise: the medieval world. He is saying, “your beauty is paradise“, but Joyce just thinks he’s pining for the golden ages.)

    FWIW, Going forward you may begin to see my real name.


    Posted on April 10th, 2014 at 3:57 pm Reply | Quote
  • rogueacademic Says:

    Some ideas… Procrastination is a form of inhibition, constituted as an escape mechanism from the impending un-void. In “Inhibitions, Symptoms and Anxiety” Freud argues that “some inhibitions obviously represents a relinquishment of a function because it exercise would produce anxiety”.

    What is presented with anxiety? From what is this inhibitory mechanisms of escape and detention protecting us of? Anxiety marks the direct point of encounter with the horror of what is, pure and simple, without representational mediation, on the external borders of language. Anxiety confirms us, with its naked brutality, the fact that human’s phantasmatic reality, built to sustain our desires, is nothing more than a semblance. Finally, anxiety is what doesn’t deceive, and nobody knows it better than the psychotic (perhaps the only one truly not-inhibited).

    If, for Lacan, truth has the structure of fiction is because only through the fictional veil we can establish some kind of (asymptotic) relationship with the real. If the hyperstitional instrument seeks to operate efficiently, it requires finding a (uninhibited/delirious) balance between truth and fiction vs. anxiety and unveiling. I agree that art actually facilities such juggling.


    Posted on April 10th, 2014 at 4:53 pm Reply | Quote
  • Scrap note (#9) | Reaction Times Says:

    […] By admin […]

    Posted on April 10th, 2014 at 6:01 pm Reply | Quote
  • Artemisia Says:

    Oh, I’ve been interested in this for a while! This is partly because I can’t get over treating you, Old One, as a hyperstitional entity (and what else can I do, really?), and partly because I need hyperstition as method to do something on a couple of fronts – partly with Schelling, partly with Prof. Barker, and partly with devil knows what else. The whole thing brews very slowly though, and I don’t quite know how to proceed.

    So, if hyperstition is a method to make an artificial subject think in the place of a “natural” one, allowing it to go places this “natural” one cannot, then how useful is it to employ this method as a “single” “natural” subject? I ask because if you are being simply serious (well, “serious”) about this whole thinking business, you have to recognize that you are not going to go anywhere without adopting a couple of nice egos for thinking various things (any ego you have won’t be really singular and unified anyway, so fragmentation should happen naturally and quite easily). This cannot quite be hyperstition yet, though – such a mode of thinking lends itself quite easily to re-integration into some kind of provisional unity, not to mention that strictly speaking, I don’t think it’s even possible to make a meaningful difference between “natural” and “hyperstitional” egos there – if I have an entire pantheon to think things through, aren’t they a part of “me” and, really, “me”? Don’t I own them – not even necessarily in a kind of re-unifying sense, just in the sense that everything that they can think, a natural ego can? (because here it is, Artemisia, this “natural” ego thinking them? Is Artemisia being too possessive and human?)
    How collective, then, should hyperstition be as a method? How open to participation should it be? It looks like participation is a necessary condition of breeding “hype” – that dimension seems fairly collective. If hyperstitional units aspire to be contagious (and they kind of do, at least a lot of them do, I think), then don’t they need to be spread? On the other hand, say, if someone like Artemisia is a swarm of humanoids (who obviously cannot make up her minds on this matter) already, can’t she herself be this hyped-up collective one-woman show and be done (or rather, begin) with it already?


    RiverC Reply:



    Artemisia Reply:

    I actually think that’s trivial – all poiesis is allopoiesis (natural production included), because if you don’t produce something other than what you are and what there already is, you are not *producing*, are you?


    admin Reply:

    … and also just “are you?”

    E.Antony Gray (RiverC) Reply:

    not at all. Fan fiction is notoriously autopoeisis; the projection of one’s self into another form. Arguably what bothers people about the ‘Mary Sue’ is really just that it is autopoeisis; it is not a genuine facturam, a thing which bears one’s imprint but is nonetheless ‘other’.

    The think that marks a genuinely good fiction versus hack fiction is precisely this, and not everyone really even cares. But for hyperstition I think you will need to figure out how to branch out beyond your projections, a difficult task.

    For one, I think it does help to start with writing what is autopoeisis, but God help you if you publish it and people like it, because you will be doomed. For my part, the poetry which works best came ‘from somewhere else’. Yeats accounted that some of his poems came from dreams (such as ‘The Cap And Bells’) and as a highly vivid dreamer, I find that I remember a lot and sometimes cannot ‘shake’ a dream until I write it into a poem.

    Lovecraft is interesting in this regard because Weird Tales was more or less a hack fiction rag, but yet out of it came very good low brow but nonetheless genuine fiction. That Lovecraft and Howard are getting their acclaim now is typical (look up our friend J.S.Bach) and considering they were ‘hard workers’ and not academic ‘starving artistes’ writing stories about everyone’s secret desire to fornicate, they were quite overlooked.

    Would that we could re-create that hermetic formula that turned the lead of ‘pulp’ in the gold of ‘literature’ – perhaps I would throw my hat in that ring too!

    E.Antony Gray (RiverC) Reply:

    Note that Lovecraft was an actual starving artist of course – probably of the stock of ‘true’ bohemians – the King’s Jester’s children all the way down.

    John Hannon Reply:

    Thinking as someone or something other than one’s “natural” self is most effectively facilitated by drugs. However the problem with drug-altered states of subjectivity in relation to writing from them is that the “artificial,” drugged self may have neither the inclination or capability to write, and due to the psychological discontinuity between the altered and normal state, any writing that does get produced is likely to be inscrutably state specific.

    A workaround compromise would be to fluctuate frequently from one state to the other and write from somewhere in between – a procedure probably best accomplished by spending some quality time with a tank of N2O. Going up takes seconds and coming down just a minute or so, thus enabling one to “surf” the sobriety / metaphysical rapture interface, with the N2O high being such that subjective, egoic selfhood can be transcended altogether and a Zen-like state of “no-self” attained.
    At least worth a try.


    admin Reply:

    “… spending some quality time with a tank of N2O.” — Only very rarely is that an option for most people.

    How does mystic non-self connect to functional artifactual selves? I’ve no doubt the relation exists, but it remains to be demonstrated that we are concerned with a single (and indivisible) topic.


    John Hannon Reply:

    The relation is one of “dis-identification,” whereby functional (voodoo?) selves are merely witnessed by the non-self with a non-attached – yet playful – objectivity.
    Or at least that’s the kind of answer Ken Wilber might give.

    (Incidentally, although my “quality time” only came about via my work in a hospital operating theatre, I’ve seen N2O being dispensed at several all-night raves over the years, with the most recent being only last Saturday. So it’s not entirely unavailable.)

    admin Reply:

    There’s too much (too many?) here to respond to quickly — it requires at least a post.

    A collectivity that had no aspiration to unity would win unconditional allegiance here (we think), but the way it cross-cuts political codes either makes up a phenomenon (of incandescent rancor) or an occult ‘conspiracy’ — in which case, why are we talking about it?


    Artemisia Reply:

    I am patient (actually, I’m not, but I recognize it when I have no other choice).

    Conspiracies do not seem to be splintered enough (or maybe conspiracies that are not focused too hard on something are just too rare). And camouflage/secrecy does not to seem to be the main point behind hyperstition anyway, so talking about it should be fine unless it leads to over-deliberation in hyperstitional constrtuction (right?).


    Posted on April 10th, 2014 at 8:17 pm Reply | Quote
  • MW Says:

    Summon an egregore and tell it to commit thoughtcrimes.


    admin Reply:

    Yes, that’s roughly how it works. (Perhaps, get it to tell itself to commit thought-crimes. Autonomization is our friend.)


    Posted on April 11th, 2014 at 2:07 pm Reply | Quote
  • Piano Says:

    For the I’m-14-and-edgy version, look at for kids that deliberately create “fully-sapient” imaginary friends/hallucinations and then, when they feel like it of course, speak to others as if they themselves are said imaginary friend, while knowing full well that “they” are imaginary. It’s a slightly more self-aware “otherkin” thing.


    Posted on April 11th, 2014 at 5:22 pm Reply | Quote
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