Posts Tagged ‘Literature’

Dark Precursor

Colin Lewis plays with the idea of William Blake’s The [First] Book of Urizen as a prophetic anticipation of X-risk level artificial intelligence. It’s a conceit that works gloriously. A somewhat extended illustration:

1. LO, a Shadow of horror is risen
In Eternity! unknown, unprolific,
Self-clos’d, all-repelling. What Demon
Hath form’d this abominable Void,
This soul-shudd’ring Vacuum? Some said
It is Urizen. But unknown, abstracted,
Brooding, secret, the dark Power hid.

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January 10, 2015admin 7 Comments »
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Sentences (#4)

This exquisite Scott Alexander sentence probably bends my rules in various directions (but January is going to be a tangled (or dynamically unstable) month in any case):

It seems neither uncommon nor unexpected that if you charge a group with eliminating an evil that’s really hard to eliminate, they usually end up mildly tweaking the evil into a form that benefits them, then devoting most of their energy to punishing people who complain.

(The whole — long — post is a masterpiece of Scott Alexanderness. Read it alongside Ligotti, and the cross-echoes are notable. Extreme liberals are horroristic maniacs who haven’t yet given up for good.)

January 2, 2015admin 49 Comments »
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Sentences (#3)

The protagonist of Thomas Ligotti’s My Work is Not Yet Done dreams of revenge, possessed by “constantly recycled scenarios in which Domino had his day”:

And that day was soaked in bathtubs of blood, a day of judgment overseen by a never-setting sun that burned madly red against a black sky.


January 1, 2015admin 3 Comments »
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Quote note (#138)

Gibson now using the ‘N-‘ word:

“I’ve been making fun of the singularity since I first encountered the idea,” he says. “What you get in The Peripheral is a really fucked-up singularity. It’s like a half-assed singularity coupled with that kind of neoreactionary, dark enlightenment shit. …”

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December 15, 2014admin 35 Comments »
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Voyages in Irony

John Michael Greer is a writer with whom, ultimately, I agree on almost nothing. Yet he turns up here a lot, and rarely — if ever — as a target of disparagement. It is understandable if that confuses people. (It is not a phenomenon that is lucidly intelligible even to myself.)

The most obvious reason to return so incessantly to Greer is the sheer consistency of his deep cycle theorizing, which achieves a conceptual elegance rarely seen elsewhere. At some point, the UF series on his historical thinking (1, 2, 2a) will reach some articulate conclusions about this. Still, there’s more to the engagement than that.

A recent Archdruid Report post on the limits of science (and, as always, many other things) added further indications of profound error, from the perspective of this blog. It hinges its overt arguments upon an impregnable factvalue distinction, which is a peculiarly weak and local principle, especially for a mind so disposed to a panoramic cosmic vision. Yet the post is also provocative, and clarifying. Responding to one of his commenters, who suggested that without the prospect of continued scientific and technological advance life loses all meaning, Greer repeats the lines from Dante that have just been hurled against him, and encapsulates them — by explicitly activating their own irony:

“Consider your lineage;
You were not born to live as animals,
But to seek virtue and knowledge.”

It’s a very conventional sentiment. The remarkable thing about this passage, though, is that Dante was not proposing the sentiment as a model for others to follow. Rather, this least conventional of poets put those words in the mouth of Ulysses, who appears in this passage of the Inferno as a damned soul frying in the eighth circle of Hell. Dante has it that after the events of Homer’s poem, Ulysses was so deeply in love with endless voyaging that he put to sea again, and these are the words with which he urged his second crew to sail beyond all known seas — a voyage which took them straight to a miserable death, and sent Ulysses himself tumbling down to eternal damnation.

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November 29, 2014admin 9 Comments »
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Sentences (#1)

(VPN isn’t working, for some reason, which makes almost everything impossible. No trawling about on the Internet, or twittering, today. In frustration, I’m initiating a new series — it’s ‘Quotes notes’ but decadently devoted to pure style. Feel free to consider it throat-clearing.)

Not necessarily single sentences, but no more than three (as a preliminary rule). First off, from Iain M. Banks’ The Algebraist (p.52):

He cleared his throat and sat more upright, telling himself he wasn’t going to fall asleep. But he must have, because when the screams started, they woke him.

November 27, 2014admin 10 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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Quote note (#112)

Some Horror Night samples from the Old Master:

The first Book proposes, first in brief, the whole subject, Man’s disobedience, and the loss thereupon of Paradise wherein he was placed: Then touches the prime cause of his Fall, the Serpent, or rather Satan in the serpent; who, revolting from God, and drawing to his side many legions of Angels, was, by the command of God, driven out of Heaven, with all his crew, into the great deep. Which action passed over, the Poem hastens into the midst of things, presenting Satan with his Angels now falling into Hell described here, not in the center (for Heaven and Earth may be supposed as yet not made, certainly not yet accursed,) but in a place of utter darkness, fitliest called Chaos …
— PL I The Argument

… who shall tempt with wandering feet
The dark, unbottomed, infinite Abyss,
And through the palpable obscure find out
His uncouth way, or spread his airy flight,
Upborne with indefatigable wings
Over the vast abrupt …

— PL II 404-9

Which way I fly is Hell; myself am Hell;
And, in the lowest deep, a lower deep
Still threatening to devour me opens wide,
To which the Hell I suffer seems a Heaven
— PL IV 75-8

And on Milton’s blindness, a key unlocking the gates to abysmal depths of visionary accomplishment:

… Thus with the year
Seasons return; but not to me returns
Day, or the sweet approach of even or morn,
Or sight of vernal bloom, or summer’s rose,
Or flocks, or herds, or human face divine;
But cloud instead, and ever-during dark
Surrounds me, from the cheerful ways of men
Cut off, and for the book of knowledge fair
Presented with a universal blank
Of nature’s works to me expung’d and ras’d,
And wisdom at one entrance quite shut out.
So much the rather thou, celestial Light,
Shine inward, and the mind through all her powers
Irradiate; there plant eyes, all mist from thence
Purge and disperse, that I may see and tell
Of things invisible to mortal sight.

— PL III 40-55

September 26, 2014admin 11 Comments »
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New Atlantis

In the wake of the latest Eurasianism excitement (of which there will be much more), comes a wide-ranging piece at Mitrailleuse.  It made me wonder whether Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis (1626) is still in any kind of cultural circulation. It‘s short — and odd.  The date and cultural lineage place it decisively within Dugin’s framework of the rising new Atlantean power — English-speaking, protestant, maritime, philosemitic, technophilic, and (piously) materially acquisitive. There’s even a clear seam of Sinophilia running through it, although one might suspect that — for reasons of geopolitical pragmatism — this is not a feature Eurasianism would want to emphasize.

For a taste, here’s a sample from the New Atlantis tour:

“We have also engine-houses, where are prepared engines and instruments for all sorts of motions. There we imitate and practise to make swifter motions than any you have, either out of your muskets or any engine that you have; and to make them and multiply them more easily and with small force, by wheels and other means, and to make them stronger and more violent than yours are, exceeding your greatest cannons and basilisks. We represent also ordnance and instruments of war and engines of all kinds; and likewise new mixtures and compositions of gunpowder, wild-fires burning in water and unquenchable, also fire-works of all variety, both for pleasure and use. We imitate also flights of birds; we have some degrees of flying in the air. We have ships and boats for going under water and brooking of seas, also swimming-girdles and supporters. We have divers curious clocks and other like motions of return, and some perpetual motions. We imitate also motions of living creatures by images of men, beasts, birds, fishes, and serpents; we have also a great number of other various motions, strange for equality, fineness, and subtilty.

“We have also a mathematical-house, where are represented all instruments, as well of geometry as astronomy, exquisitely made.

“We have also houses of deceits of the senses, where we represent all manner of feats of juggling, false apparitions, impostures and illusions, and their fallacies. And surely you will easily believe that we, that have so many things truly natural which induce admiration, could in a world of particulars deceive the senses if we would disguise those things, and labor to make them more miraculous. But we do hate all impostures and lies, insomuch as we have severely forbidden it to all our fellows, under pain of ignominy and fines, that they do not show any natural work or thing adorned or swelling, but only pure as it is, and without all affectation of strangeness. …”

Scrupulous scientific realism combined with a precocious Virtual Reality industry. This is indeed an enemy, very naturally, to be feared.

Note: There’s also a post on Eurasianism, probing gently into the China angle, over at Urban Future.

August 7, 2014admin 40 Comments »
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Chaos Patch (#21)

(Open thread.)

Some bits and pieces, which everyone if of course free to ignore:

Commercialization of war (video). This trend seems to be huge.

The (first) Age of Unqualified Reservations has now formally passed: “I think it’s clear that UR has gone on de facto hiatus, so it seems best to adhere to my own philosophy and make it official. … UR will reemerge, of course. But not here, and not soon – and probably not even in this form. I’ll also try to do something non-lame with the archives.”

Nydwracu crafts a conceptual tool of great value.

Action at Reddit.

William Gibson and Hyperstition (or not): “… was Gibson just a smart reader of the way things were already going, or — as Jack Womack suggested in the afterword to the novel’s 2000 re-issue — has ‘the act of writing it down, in fact, brought it about?'”

Alain de Benoist interviewed.

Either an extraordinary techno-scientific breakthrough, or not. (This, I’m supremely confident, isn’t.)

Singularity won’t save us (a conclusion I share, for entirely different reasons).

My Russian isn’t good enough to understand what the hell is going on in this, but NYC looks spectacular even when it’s teeming with Slavo-fascists.


August 3, 2014admin 41 Comments »
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