Tagged review

Lost In A Froth: Hideo Kojima Death Stranding Eurogamer Review

RND/ To consider the wider meaning of the end summary by Eurogamer, in their memorable AAA videogames industry embargo review of Death Stranding (Hideo Kojima):

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Lost In A Froth Hideo Kojima Death Stranding Eurogamer Review

Both the Likes and Sam’s job – a kind of heroic, public-service version of a gig-economy courier – have a deliberately mundane and contemporary resonance in this otherwise otherworldly setting. I think it’s deliberate, anyway, and Kojima does have something to say about how we are engineering ourselves into a state of busy isolation (though some might question his thesis that the best way to bring people together is by expanding network coverage). The commentary is earnest, if a little on the nose. Sadly, it gets lost in a froth of stoned-undergrad-grade existential waffle towards the end of the game, as Kojima strains unsuccessfully to make something meaningful of his nonsensical story and garbled lore.

As the credits roll on Death Stranding, heavy with unearned pathos, the impression you’re left with is of a self-congratulatory monument to the ego of a creator who is high on his own supply. Has Kojima always been this full of it? Maybe. But then you return to the game proper, select a humble delivery order, lace up your boots and plan another reckoning with those unforgettable, haunted moors. And you realise that this game has got under your skin in a way few do.

Eurogamer, Death Stranding review: a baffling, haunting, grand folly

#ALLHAILK0J1MADEATHKULT

Death Stranding: a *cough* ‘unique vision’ delivered by state-of-the-art technology. A absurdist, satirical remix of an article by John ‘Frame Rates’ Linneman, Staff Writer Digital Foundry:

When Death Stranding was first unveiled in 2016, its ‘unusual design’ left us in the #K0J1MADEATHKULT all with questions that would persist and multiply with the arrival of each new trailer like a collective nut rash. As Kojima Productions’ first independent release, it’s clear from its marketing hype-cycle that the team was focused on ‘upending traditional AAA expectations’. What this means is simply more of that old ‘disruptive’ shit that Capitalism loves so much. With most games, you know what you’re in for before you even pick up the controller and start to sigh. By contrast, Death Stranding is an enigma – but some of the feigned mystery lifts today, and it’s a stunning achievement – only from a technological perspective.

In many respects, showing is far more effective than telling, so I would suggest watching the videos embedded on the internets for some idea of how Death Stranding delivers *cough* a truly unique experience. (Sorry, I have a bad cough.) Going into this one, I thought I was done with open world games – the genre has devolved and homogenised into the kind of experience gamers love to hate. However, we’re being sold the idea that “Death Stranding is different and stands apart, bringing back the magic of discovery in a way gamers haven’t experienced in years.” Ok, whatever you say. Sure, it’s one of the most visually striking games of the generation – another new, bland benchmark for the medium – and this dark, isolated world adopts a style that leaves an itchy mark on your stinking #K0J1MADEATHKULT genitals long after you’ve finished with playing.

There’s a singular vision here, all right – based on nothing whatsoever but a strong technological foundation. When Kojima Productions started work on the title, the team had the opportunity to select from Sony’s stable of tools and technology, eventually settling upon Guerrilla Games’ Decima Engine – the same technology that delivered the brilliantly bland Horizon Zero Dawn. As an open world game with a focus on the cinematic, Decima is a perfect fit for Death Stranding. Many of the key technical and visual features supported by Decima are utilised to er, effect, while the few shortcomings found in Horizon such as water rendering, are improved.

Like Horizon, Death Stranding delivers excellent image quality using Guerrilla’s bespoke interpretation of checkerboard rendering. Pixel counts suggest the same 2160p resolution as Horizon Zero Dawn, with the checkerboarding remaining ‘one of the best in the business’. This directly mirrors Death Stranding’s overall marketing hype, with its clean edges and minimal artefacting. Combined with excellent texture filtering and temporal stability, the marketing team produce a very filmic image that looks almost pre-rendered. Rest assured though, nearly everything about the game’s hype is generated in real-time by the #K0J1MADEATHKULT, augmented greatly by a top tier HDR implementation. What impresses most with Death Stranding hype is the blend between small details and a vast sense of scale. It doesn’t feel as if the minutiae has been sacrificed in pursuit of its wider fanbase environment – and while Kojima’s worlds are too often little more than deserted husks, there’s certainly plenty of life to find in the characters which make up its rabid fanbase – and how they are told to realize the game’s standout technological triumphs make up most of the very meaning of Death Stranding itself.

Since its inception, Kojima Productions has focused heavily on a cast of minor b-movie stars, including Norman ‘Fetus’ Reedus, ‘Mad’ Mads Mikkelsen, Léa ‘Warm Blue Exploitation’ Seydoux and the violently talentless Nicolas ‘You Must Be Winding Me Up’ Refn, so it’s no surprise that the importance of rendering these characters as ‘important’ is a huge focus for the hot #K0J1MADEATHKULT. The first thing that stands out is the quality of the eyes – this is where their virtual models often fall flat, but the eye material and way in which light penetrates the outer layer feels remarkably realistic to nerds who imagine It All Must Mean Something. The area around the eye of the cult itself is just as impressive, with superbly detailed eye lashes and skin. We’ve seen a lot of progress in this area from many gamers this generation, who often come across as human, but this is one of those rare moments where you almost feel as if you’re looking at other real human faces when the presentation camera pans back to the crowd.

Skin shading is similarly impressive – with realistic sub-surface scattering present as light plays off the surface of the marketing simulation. Multiple texture layers are used to simulate skin folds as characters animate, while small hairs can be observed across the surface, glistening in the light of global[ marketing reach and AAA games industry penetration. Even aspects such as allergic reactions and goose bumps whenever new Death Stranding trailers appear, are represented beautifully and realistically. Again, many gamers do a great job with their own skin rendering, but I feel the #K0J1MADEATHKULT behind Death Stranding is a step above, while its ability to realistically render a variety of psychotic fan types without artefacts is also highly impressive. Yes, in-game models of players pissing into rivers aren’t quite on the same level, but they still hold up – retaining a great degree of incidental detail.

Equipment and cloth rendering in members of the #K0J1MADEATHKULT are also first class, with a consistent level of detail right down to every buckle, strap and piece of fabric you see at fan conventions. So much work has been poured into every inch of every model and it’s almost unbelievable to see this much detail in a fanbase – even in an era where most gamers already feature highly detailed characters. Put simply, ‘the bar has been raised’. Death Stranding Marketing Incorporated also features a layering system for dirt, grime and rust: fanboys becomes increasingly dirty during gameplay and the real-time nature of their cutscenes ensures that this muck remains visible until they hop in the shower for the inevitable Norman Reedus shower jerk sequence. Yes, there’s a often lot of walking to the shops and back in order to buy multiple copies of Death Stranding to sell on ebay, but even this has been approached in a unique fashion with a complex animation system designed to simulate weight and movement across a rocky urban surface. As cult members run from Nintendo fanboy throwing rocks, they precisely plant their bare feet according to the terrain type and incline. When hiking up or down a steep hill, watch with pride as they shift their considerable weight into slopes realistically.

And this bring us to the execution of traversal of Kojima criticism in general, which I feel is handled in an interesting way. In most democratic open world critiques, you spend a lot of time moving from point A to point B, but doing so requires little effort from the player – it’s usually a matter of just holding your ideas about Kojima forward towards a waypoint. In Death Stranding however, negotiating the terrain of critique itself is a key challenge and carrying extra existential cargo increases that challenge still further. There’s actual momentum to the movement toward being brave enough to present non pro-Kojima based ideas which the #K0J1MADEATHKULT may find remotely palatable – yet when you’re weighed down, you can’t just stop on a dime, especially on a steep hill formed of raw pulsating hype. It’s all about the management of speed, balance and positioning: this makes the act of hiking through the world of fanboys and their psychotic internal Kojima-based fantasies more complex and engaging and the quality of the animation really helps sell this.

Death Stranding Marketing focuses on creating a huge sense of scale and its mountains tie directly into the movement and physics systems. Of course, motion blur helps improve overall fluidity as fans run down hills like bare assed monkeys with copies of Metal Gear Solid stuck up their shitty backsides.

The same philosophy of applying equal focus to both macro and micro detail to the fanbase also extends to their environments. The AAA videogames industry hype landscape of Death Stranding may take place across the ruined landscape of America, but it’s clear that its world design was inspired by monolithic mountain ranges of Iceland. This unique scenery is breathtaking from minute one, with an apparently immense sense of scale. The Decima Engine supports GPU-based procedural hype placement – something we saw in action in Horizon Zero Dawn. Kojima Productions has crafted a wide range of hype formations and other assets and this system is likely used to create a ‘natural procedural marketing landscape’. Every piece of that landscape is intricately detailed – from the snarling fan formations that fill the landscape on social media, to the stony fields of raw love and uncritical admiration pooling at the base of the mountains.

All are a sight to behold but it’s the smaller stories of personal obsession found alongside rivers and in dry lake beds that impress the most. I’m not sure how these are generated – perhaps a mix of bizarre cognitive maps and emotional geometry – but it’s clear that the level of detail is off the charts. More impressively, object pop-in is kept to a minimum – and the transition between between near and far-field detail is handled smoothly.

The private interior world of the #K0J1MADEATHKULT also features detailed grass and plants at certain points, and most of this foliage reacts to player collision – so you’ll notice plants and blades of grass moving as you make your way through your daily cycle of worship. The terrain is offset by the sky above which plays a key role in defining the overall atmosphere: the cloud system available in Decima is the ray marched volumetric solution crafted for Horizon Zero Dawn that Kojima Productions takes full advantage of. It’s designed to be fast but flexible – variable cloud types and thickness are present while light penetration is simulated as the clouds absorb and scatter this light that shines from the ass of Kojima Himself.

Eventually, the cloudy skies give way to rain or – as gamers refers to it – Time Fall – rain that accelerates time. The rain simulation produces thick droplets that react to light and soak everything caught within its grasp, while a wet shader is applied to surfaces and materials as the rain continues, with droplets forming on Sam’s gear. There exists a lighter, less damaging rain as well – the rain of tears of joy – the difference lies in the thickness and colour of the droplets. The depiction of accelerated time is fascinating, with fan tears rapidly ageing everything they touch. This is where the rust mechanic comes into play. In combination with some interesting surface effects such as wrinkling skin, but it also impacts plant life: when caught in a storm of fanboy admiration and-or rage, strange plants rapidly grow before you only to wilt seconds later. It’s a remarkably effective emotional marketing technique.

A lot of attention has been poured into other fan based fluids and malleable materials as well. Mud deforms beneath your feet as you trudge through it to the nearest fan convention, with proper trails left in your wake. Meanwhile, based on content in the preview trailers, it seems that Decima’s ‘psychic fecal snow system’ is also present and accounted for (content limitations in place pre-launch limit the scope of the game we can actually cover). The most significant improvement of the Kojima Hype Cycle this time around however, stems from water rendering. Large bodies of water dripping from the sides of player’s salivating mouths are now more visually attractive with improved screen-space reflection and highly realistic surface detail – and the streams and rivers truly stand out in Death Stranding. This is a difficult thing to get right, but gamers deliver a real sense of current and flow to watery dribble as it cuts through the mountains of their expectations. Sam interacts naturally with its surface, leaving ripples in his wake as he moves through it and in fact, water itself plays a role in the game design as moving through deep dribble results in losing footing and being pulled forever downstream into Positive Future Sales Figures.

While playing the game of “Watching The #K0J1MADEATHKULT At Play”, I found its average level of performance was predominately stable – frame-rate mostly holds steady at 30fps but it’s clear that minor dips in attention and interest can occur. Vertical sync is thankfully enforced as well – meaning no tearing of posters seen on walls at conventions – and when combined with correct marketing motion blur to smooth any rough edges, gamers manage to feel mostly stable and in control – their performance as blind consumers of Digital Content is rarely an issue here. But with that said, cutscenes have more of an emphasis on spectacle over fluidity, so there are more dips beneath the target 30fps here. I can say that my enjoyment of the experience of the #K0J1MADEATHKULT at play hasn’t been impacted much at all by their performance level.

Rounding off this piece, I wanted to share some final thoughts on the experience beyond slick, spotless technology masquerading as a game’s only real source of meaning. For me, this is one of the most intriguing fanboy events of the year and – perhaps – of the entire console generation. It’s rare that such a large budget is allocated towards a *cough* unique concept and with that in mind, I appreciate that it exists at all. While on the surface, this is a gamer culture that’s essentially focused on transporting fanboy cargo from one area of the internet to another, and it’s what happens on that merry shit trail that works so well. Traversal of the various fanboy posts and comments is fun, the A.I you engage with is exciting and the wide range of tools available results in a similar type of bizarre behavior you may expect from the arrival of a Metal Gear game.

Death Stranding’s mix of standard marketing horror and the quiet exploration and unique storytelling generated by the #K0J1MADEATHKULT, is something very different and it may not appeal to everyone. In that sense, despite playing the game of being an Electronic Archaologist for a while now, I’m still fascinated to see how the reviews play out, and what the reception to the game really means. For me, this is a release that captures the solemn holy atmosphere of a Team Ico release or even something like Silent Hill – it’s an exceptional technical achievement and a frankly brilliant marketing experience. And no more than that.

// how to play big science

Manifold Garden: Game Critique and 4K PC Screenshot Photography

RND/ To consider William Chyr’s architectural puzzle game Manifold Garden: a general critique.

0. Manifold Garden works best as an ambient mood generator. At no point in the ‘mood trailer’ are Puzzles even mentioned. This is telling:

Some 4K screenshots (PC version):

Some notes arising:

1. Aesthetically, M.G is pleasing – plain, straightforward and exacting. But the unique appeal of its spectacular pastel landscape fades away too quickly. Developer William Chyr states the game is a first person puzzle exploration game with unusual physics, impossible geometry and ‘crazy architecture’.

There seems little particularly ‘crazy’ about M.G’s architecture. Indeed consider arguing it has no architecture as such, but rather merely repeated geometrical structures within a tightly bounded logic space. In comparison, NaissanceE by Mavros Sedeño more truly expresses architecture. While certainly architectural, M.G lacks the strong sense of place felt in NaissanceE. There’s just no there, there.

The trees don’t feel like trees, the birds do not fly as if around futuristic ruins of some vast abandoned megacity. It’s coldness and abstraction are M.G’s only strengths, and loose talk concerning attempts to place it within the context of ‘traditional’ videogame architecture are highly problematic. M.G seems more of a conceptual space outside of space, than a place. If only this particular aspect of its existence had been developed and emphasized.

2. M.G’s comparisons with, and contextual placements within M.C. Escher’s visionary universe seem to miss the point. Consider that the ‘physics’ of Escher’s classic lithograph print “Relativity” from 1953; while certainly unique, they are not in fact the main philosophical interest. Rather, it’s the radical changes of psychological perspective of the beings who live there, who must be able to process such shifts instantly.

They seem to live in such a world in harmony, without confusion. While M.G succeeds at the job of forcing players to continually (literally) re-orient themselves within the game space in order to progress, it says very little about why precisely they should bother. Progress from one puzzle to the next is lifeless grind with fake rewards.

3. Why does (/such) gameplay even exist? Why does anyone have to ‘solve puzzles’? Why this pathological obsession with logic based rules regarding interactivity? Why do videogames have to be intractable? Indeed who really gives a flying shit about Puzzles when such a rich and potentially strange space ‘exists’? The question of why such a space as M.G would even feature goddam puzzles as core part of its existence is in no way answered. The enforced-fun ideology of ‘Because Videogames’ isn’t good enough, and hasn’t been for a while.

4. A possible key story context for M.G:

You are a freelance theoretical mathematician, working late one night on a strange new theory of conceptual space. Falling asleep at your desk, you dream of a ‘manifold garden’ of unearthly physics based delight and impossible architectural fantasy.

5. As it turned out, Manifold Garden precisely needed no less than a minimum of seven  whole years of developmental struggle. Yet, if only The Real Game was the actual development cycle itself – rather than the dubious end goal of another extremely polished, ‘AAA-Indie’ title. Dubious that is, because it’s based on seven years of crunch, rather than seven years of active, dynamic evolving play. In this new paradigm, “Gamedev” should be the always live, realtime game and not merely the (bone-achingly slow) means by which to churn out another highly artistic digital product, cynically used to sell an exclusive gaming platform owned by war mongering hyper-capitalist billionaire assholes.

6. Rather, consider if Manifold Garden were a set of advanced research and developmental tools for playfully generating (and actually exploring) such delightfully odd spaces. Mere dumb puzzles alone can’t sustain M.G, no matter now cleverly designed – especially when the most interesting thing about it is the ability to simply drop off a ledge and fall, fall without a care. What about a landscape that endlessly changes over time as one soars through the airless digital air? Imagine this game mixed with fractals and Gravity Rush.s

7. A game breaking bug preventing saves stopped one from continuing. I found I wasn’t sad enough to leave. The game also needs VR support and (/better?) Rim Lighting to more clearly identify and differentiate edges (added artificially in screenshots seen above.) There are too few strong emotions on display in the Manifold Garden. It’s initial beauty soon turns out to be cold and emotionally alienating – a little too much like Jonathan Blow’s soulless game The Witness.

8. Puzzles are dead. Balls to puzzles – what are you, the fucking Riddler? ([..] ‘exhibits personality disorders consistent with a fanatic narcissist, egocentrism, and megalomania crossed with severe obsessive compulsion’ – Wikipedia.)

// how to play big science

The Inapplicable Ballardianism Of Simon Sellars

RND/ To consider a poetic critique / remix of sections from obsolete, eye-rollingly turgid auto-fictive pseudo-biography “Applied Ballardianism: Memoir from a Parallel Universe” by Simon Sellars.

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Simon Sellars Applied Balalrdianism: Book Cover Remix

The characters are finding.. that the so-called Real World isn’t convincing anymore.
– J.G Ballard interview, BBC Profile 2003

// entertaining and informative only in parts

i. some intriguing research idea
for precisely how not to analyse or approach ballardianism
this project never concludes and instead
becomes part of highly doubtful content
dead body of irrelevant facts not previously in public domains
painfully sketchy shoehorning of ballardian narrative similitude at every opportunity
to find oneself claming b.s at end of many paragraphs
failed attempt to relay period of life by identifying massively
with various characters in his stories – with ballard himself
cosplaying with characters not normally taken up by cosplayers
yet many of events feel reinvented to align with ballardian scenarios
occurring at times in life nothing remotely ballardian was happening
standing around with faces like drained swimming pools

ironically this aligns with ballard’s own writing
mythologizing life into weird wild array of semi-fictitious autobiography
the representation of large sections of mundane conference papers
framed in unfortunate narratives that present these as minor works
of idiosyncratic academically challenged imposters
somehow undertaking intense ballardian activity
yet as phd student nothing could be more normal than for authors
to present such papers at various conferences
but aggressive responses to projected self-doubt feels quite sad
peppering of various cultural theorists – virilio baudrillard et al
feels at odds with private critiques of boring intellectuals

ii. yet why name drop such academic references if they’re unimportant
large sections consist of basic synopses of ballard’s novels and stories
which offer little interpretative insight
space alien sightings and underlying macho violence are worst aspects
along with vivid description of second life as though it’s real
supposedly violence and blurring of reality is meant to tie in with ballard’s writing
but it feels like punch-ups muggings running from bike gangs hitting people
are really just embarrassing non events
that would only happen to aggressive idiots /
consider such books ones nobody asked for
and yet they got even slightly less

// fleeing excesses

in which young cyberculture researchers set out
to systematically analyse
obsessively reiterated themes of obscure internet theorists
disorienting near futures now prophesized
fragmentary narratives/ disturbingly psychotropic as dark magus miles davis
where car crash prophets speed mutate
into surgeons of pathological virtualities

slick surfaces of contemporary reality throb and pulse
existential odysseys/ inextricably weaved lived virtual experience
as theoretical insights warp into startling autobiographical hyper fiction surveys
dissected worlds hooked up live into global technological delirium
hot bright worlds now unmistakably postmodern

// psychic wombat

to trace decline – bittersweet benefits of survival
exact moments located in theater of unwellness
high school dropouts pinball between dead end jobs
once bright students/ squandered ambition
fuses melting under excessive voltage
turn inwards but nothing holds stare of deep voids
sight of self lost within interminable fever dream

to awake inside anomalous worlds with something oddly familiar
cloned versions threatening erasure
no choice but to spark internal war mission – take out clones
in which to fight means exposure to interdimensional time
unable to distinguish between failed futures
wrong questions asked – unskilled in psychic combat
wrong doors open/ dark matter burns within

// artificial weapons

i. zenith of cyberculture as incandescent moment
embryonic internets go nova
wild untamed frontier zone occupied by hackers
digital somali pirates/ hot data surgeons for hire
cadres of romanticised undesirables shining forth
from glossy cyberphile magazines

stories emerge in terminally unhip lands
as tv personalities make fools of themselves
asking about data tubes live on air
struggling to pronounce at symbols
such fearless cybertroopers storm gilded gates of tomorrow
clueless rubes snowblind from self generated nonlinear pixel blizzards
nets hyped as radical human evolution

thundering cyberprophet consciousness uploads to mainframes
booster rocket bodies ditch as dead meat weight
cyber modification fads display contempt for physical limitations
swept up in augment fervor noses spontaneously pierce in three places
tongues split in two/ yet instead of ascension to enlightened state
each receives sinus infection / speech impediment lasting for weeks
californian cyber hippy culture gaggles peddle digital utopia snake oil
nets as new home of mind – dull rhetoric forged
from pink male privilege/ sure feels cold

ii. danger excitement diversity discontent bond
to pseudo nihilistic cyberpunk science fiction
communes transplant from virtual desert online
stark correctives to cyber utopianism needed
in cyberpunk virtual reality displaces new normal
alien loners log on via neural interface
minds conjoined – bodies lifeless slack
nervous systems soon collapse / minds warp – living death occurs

one slick worldview those with high social capital buy into easily
to consider cyberpunk as accurate summation of era
startling research exposes sickness of culture
in wake of cyber prophet based global news simulation
provocative reports release on information overload

where even staunchest adherents feel unnerved
sum total of available information doubling
in ever shorter amounts of time
data tsunami swamps uncontrollable mind stream
new overlapping technology flux
faxes mobile phones modems internet conferencing
exponential human cost of assimilating / processing material
information fatigue syndrome – atrophied attention spans

minds shut down – bodies deplete
symptoms include hyper aroused psychological condition
paralysis of analytical capacity – faux anxiety – lack of self doubt
increased capacity for bad decisions based on flawed conclusions
appointments made with doctor to complain about malaise
yet practitioners regard such patients with barely concealed contempt
ir condition shrouded in pseudo intellectual babble
recent media reports quoted in pathetic attempt
to make situation appear more or less significant
than torpor of degenerate data slackers sitting opposite

iii. such info fatigue syndrome somehow heroically avoidable consequence
of willingly service in ongoing digital war
sustained immersion within new cyber dawn
wraparound virtual reality technology
where so called cyber warriors speak of minds going
doctors rise wearily from hard wooden seats
slouch over to medicine cabinet – sets of golden blades on desk
alien scalpels laid out – such medical scenes nervous / paranoid

rising panic induced/ mystifying geometry alarms
designer weapons of advanced analytical dissection
conceptual cardboard boxes opened
high quality electronic consumer merchandise ideology sealed within
to return from such sessions with unmarked boxes of pills
instructions included/ details fail however to register distraction
attractive middle aged nurses stand nearby
to observe such medical interaction – feel stirring deep in loins
completely present in some recondite way
moods mauve in colour/ engraved with crude outlines of sick doves

// still dead world

i. in which pills generate monstrous side effects
after ingestion fail to remember thoughts had moments before
sometimes lose contact with seemingly critical childhood memories
or even names / ages/ swathes of brain wiped
such mindspace freefall accompanied
by chaotic spatial disorientation

walls fall away to inky voids
floors vanish into bottomless chasms
in precious moments between such apocalyptic hallucinations
manage to hold down part time job in warehouse on outskirts of town
wholesale distributor supplying underground urban architecture magazines
to nationwide newsagent chains
heat seal ballpoint pens into plastic blister packs
rear of building storeroom for remaindered stock

something weird to read scavenged during tea break
cache of soft architecture porn periodicals draws eyes to seductive covers
face flushed by lurid red filter sporting plastic horns
cameras wink back as multiple tongues extend from saucy grins
other attractions advertised by progressively smaller fonts
interview with some legendary gonzo sci fi public toilet writer
tantalizing heading screams ufo

vivid mishmash of faded hero with current fads
waiting viperous among back pages
content scan for essential field guide to coiled interview with future cult author
science fiction on elliptical orbit
far distant from planets asimov heinlein clarke
devour sci fi but never let it read in return – already too far underground
known only through blurbs tucked away in endpapers of less esoteric novels
simple souls keen on doc smiths lensmen series – sappiest of boys own space operas

yet what to make of works described by shell shocked
chill splinters of unreality – source of bleak new live / evil
clearly for crowds such coders not major draw
peripheral figure from youthful forays into science fiction
information tech mixes with bleeding edge cast of wannabes
heavy metal christian sloane rebels – nocturnal vampettes
yet now more punk than any – interview incendiary showcase for deadly ability
to pinpoint moment when technology strafes uncanny valley

ii. predicted forms social media assumes
as it reinvents itself twenty minutes into future
psychological fallout from heavy use included
deregulation of airwaves leads to deregulation of imagination
people now screen themselves – bad midnight cable access tv holo programs
television reframed as cyborg extension of cultural coders mind space
tv tube flagging piece of nervous tissue
ever bigger charges needed to get necessary eye kicks
themes of suburban breakdown define rnd
big strain to maintain fabric of absolute normality
requiring powerful repressive dark unseen biopsychic forces
perverse suburbs animate/ fascinate via existential stasis
dystopic interior world space where everyone acts violently sane

deviance factored directly out of architecture
bleached landscapes siphoned off from ever odder behavior
terms / conditions of suburbia – empty time/ no past or future
only enervation – eternal presents
where little changes but constant change
soul desert memories of fictional overlays
consumer futures always just out of reach
futures as deathly boring – psychic suburbanisation of planetary soul
radical counterpoint mutant strain identified – possible resistance node
tedium of suburbs forcing imagination into new arenas

deviant acts each morning
merely to make certain of freedom
nothing so dramatic as say torching local blumquist video store
or beating up men of business
although do just that in later works
kicking your boss does for now
accompanying interview monochrome photo portrait
enhances casual brutality of synthetic truths
large gritty photo/ grain scuffs surround pages
black shirt worn while gazing off camera
left eye framed with thumb forefinger
cheek pulled down to reveal wide opaque pupil
struck by visual cryptograms/ crack code

iii. what exactly x signals as never known
until years later when reading local newspaper
answers surfacing from random connections
announcing presence with alien electricity
unpredictable spark jags from tesla coil
exact same signal/ arcane intimation
fictional experiments aiming for identical results
to awaken by any means possible

complacent suburbanites stiff from dreamlike existence
insight not revealed until near future
when events take full course
in thrall to dark strange unseen forces just beyond reason
magazine interviews re read for now
open eye stares inadvertently setting wheels in motion
signal of overpowering broadcast feed
brain colonized airwave pirate
prime time television splices into pornographic immateriality

// end of shift

commence long walk home from warehouse – weather hot / dusty
deadly rays from high sun reflect off
vicious concrete expanses passing for public space
intense glares blot out all life in atomic flash colors
half expected shadows sear bleak pavement
unpeopled industrial areas power substations hiss
cavernous breaker yards
back street negotiation – infestation of dun colored brick factories
each small/ foreboding – iron bar windows
private dens rented out to high bidders

slaughtered chicken on road spattered with bloody innards
arranged inscrutable symbols
three discarded battered carriages on nature strip nearby
modern day mysteries ponder
lace suspended sneakers over suburban power lines
front door open/ fuses blown – power off
hallway pitch black darkness hemmed in
coordinates of contemporary madness
still suffering spatial hallucination from pills

eye probes/ minds beckon mirror world
thresholds crossed with senses reeling
breadcrumbs followed – risk it all/ kicked dogs
notorious novels read for days
consuming dangerous literature as liberating act
works so depraved/ author myth beyond psychiatric help

// technolust

i. in which crashes change lives torching everything before
reversed negativity – channeling i.t into something radical
sensuous narrator of seditious work
rough copy of flawed clone infiltrates group
of urban professionals bored with jobs
marriages bored with themselves
allegiance pledged to hoodlum scientist nurturing dark desires
promises to recalibrate android lives in nightmare marriage of sex / technology
master plan to induce global autogeddon – primitive uniting singularity
machines in terminal congress of loins / engine coolant

tune in to police radio as damaged crew vultures descend upon car accidents
stage own atmosphere of trauma perfume inhilation
scars of numerous accidents born – crash wounds entered
pleasuring yourself watching crash test dummies pulverize to oblivion
as they admit crash induced pain into flesh – hybrid lifeform burst cocoons
strange bodies indelibly altered – resultant scars conduits to newness
more intense sexuality crash logic accelerated
intimate reshaping of human form – no return insight revealed when lsd taken

drive across motorway systems defining ey world
as acid trip peaks hallucination becomes one with machine bones
arms form solid coupling with shift of steering column
vibrations from gears shoot down legs – spine lying in transmission tunnel
cyborg metaphors warning against outsourcing of bodily functions to technology
turned on nonetheless – cyber fetishists remain at heart

ii. despite injurious prior flirtation with body modification
obsessional disabilities clad in leg braces
physical frames reconfigured by willing participation in numerous crashes
unique contours of scarred hands proudly display
deformed knees radiating humid fetishistic charge
jagged prose isolated body parts placed in geometric conjunctions with leather
cool car seats – disability enhanced steering wheels
chromium trim of vehicle movements form cryptogram of prosthetics flesh metal
boundaries between human machines obliterated

naturally such wounds worshiped via hypnotic obsession
ineluctable moment when couples fulfill pulpy techno lust
leg irons stroked as if admiring new car finish
entering / irrigating crash borne thigh scar
such trashy gleaming portmanteau world reflects soul back
small intense following of few psychopathic amputees
send more porno photos to warp minds
attracted to images and strange media senses
once considered repugnant

desperate to break free of inexplicable stupor succumbing to crash spell
machinic curves beguile – merge with ongoing fantasy of middle aged nurse
shimmering chromium callipers offset by blinding uniform white
minds cleave mind in two to never recover
automated response to spiritual affliction sickness etc

// war signs

i. one night drives under influence of pills
hoping altered reality replicates lsd crash insights
some rapturous vision of technological union – crippling loss of self
mass produced pharmaceuticals useless
only artisanal synthesised high of narration marries with machine
pull over to slip road convinced mobility means doom
see self driving off overpass in moment of heightened panic
bursting into flames below – hallucinating phantom trucks
surging headlong forcing to swerve onto oncoming lane

signs scarred with index of trauma through shatterproof glass of windscreen
desperate to decode numerical mystery
why had stars aligned so catastrophically in 91
what would tally instill such heavy dread
blighting one of worlds largest exurban conglomerates
machine calibrated for vehicles to move rapidly across long distances
from young age forced to bathe in metallic glow
developing subliminal awareness of status symbols
hidden meanings embedded in car culture

children once lived in suburbs in foothills of misty ranges
area crosshatched by endless freeways perpetually crawling
heavy duty industrial road trains – military grade enforcement vehicles
juiced up high speed muscle cars
service roads scarred landscape lined with tire outlets truck mechanics

ii. car showroom stench of petrol
industrial perfume of rubber coated air
there pub wedged into intersection between two major freeways
isolated as remote pacific islands
beer flows like water yet no footpaths lead to pub
quickest way to die by car drunk at wheel
on surrounding roads no pedestrian refuge islands exist
nowhere for walkers gain respite
walking unheard of since nobody walks in outer suburbia
not in environment designed to wipe people from earth’s dusty face

staring at sign feel chill sense of cosmic entrapment
as if parking in remote slip road many years ago draws body closer to location
until finally inhabiting prediction
realization once again adrift in mental space
last straw for battered psyche
steeled self for return of terrifying hallucinations defeated
by medical error pulsing relentlessly through bloodstream
nonetheless knowing one must wait it out
to let horror wash over in whatever form i.t might take
no matter risk to sanity as to feel cleansed/ emerged whole on other side
yet passing signs continue to interrogate midnight highway oversoul

// impotent roadkill

i. growing up subjected to endless stream of public safety announcements
made by transport accident commission
horrific productions warned of nightmares on roads – scenes of carnage
ashamed to discover primal jolt thrilling to bone
staged cautionary accidents with machine gun editing speed – cranked action
hyperfluid camerawork all trademarks of mad max which fourteen years earlier
reinvented cinematic car crashes
films tortured anti hero max rockatansky
burnt out speed addicted cop in decaying pre apocalyptic society
hotted up cars sanction murderous impulses of dehumanised psychos behind wheel
seductive split second cyborg rhythm of high octane driving
real intent to manipulate viewer to climax with state sanctioned illicit thrills
no other conclusion triggered at point of impact

precise moment supposed to solemnly condemn terror of roads
to feel fullest revulsion at casual violence underpinning lives implicated
in total horror of road crash seducing with undeniable pleasures of speed
to embraces total aesthetic experience of film crash
they are two versions of reality separated by ideology
doubtless transport accident commission films designed to evoke
psyche mimicking stylistic tropes drawing upon cultural resonance
storied symbol of predilection for vehicular carnage placed within
shocking naturalistic context of crash sutures / dueling ideologies
embedded concept of inner space
alternative mindscape generated when characters react
against totalising systems of control so dream reality fused
each retaining its own distinctive quality

ii. yet in some way assuming role of its opposite
paradox framed in simplest terms – by undeniable logic
inner space engine of ambivalence powers crash
since for all novels radical sexuality side effects are queasy
disturbing revealing flipside of subversive dream logic
one particular sequence riven with existential dread
forced to plot uneasy childhood
with its normalized backdrop of violence
mapping onto strange new coordinates

// bludgeoned by billboards

i. television films of imaginary accidents
british equivalent of tacky ads bequeathing
vague sense of unease gruesome climax
of life being rehearsed years in advance
he even has premonition of how he’ll die
filmed unwittingly for televised psychodramas on some secret road
its location known only by filmmakers

one day he crashes into another car on motorway – admits fate
after being bombarded endlessly by road safety propaganda
almost reliving to find self in actual accident
although dimly aware rendezvous symptom
of inexorable logic drives this program of posthumanism
night understood only that sunlight had now become black
under watch of ominous sign slip road where he’d parked
mysterious roads upon which ballard would meet doom

marked for death simply by having viewed ads
thrilling guiltily to superbly crafted max aesthetic
attraction to technique absorbing into hyper simulated world
with no escape from vectors of speed or trauma

ii. for historians apocalyptic violence of mad max recalls moment
whens roads were truly killing fields
signs with confronting statistics begging return to form
killing fields now re opened for business
questions mark bolded in blood
to drive towards death – coercing us to beat previous records
as if powerless to halt carnage

during global oil crisis of mid 70s
read in paper about frustrated motorists turned feral at petrol station
attacking each other for last drops of fuel
later working as doctor treat numerous road accident victims
struck by nightmarish intensity
frequency of crashes
events interconnected as if city driven by malevolent forces

make funny noises
but few really understand whats happening
hurled through windscreens striking bonnets
in frozen moments people die
patterns forming on victims hands
puffed up into huge blood blister
signature of radiator emblem
stark incident underscores key insight of global acid trip
incomplete bodies fractured by demands of capitalism
bound together by signs – symbols of banal technology
disordered minds aligned with ciphers of auto death
received personal epiphany

iii. immutable natural law inextricably linked with one’s own pathetic death
drive with reason – prescribed accursed pills
mighty temporal shift outline of physical body syncing
out of phase with soul ontological layers rubbing together
moving apart again like tectonic plates
hands under dull luminescent glow of cars dashboard display
purplish hue as if photosynthesised electric light through skin
sit there for hours minutes or seconds
basking in purple light until car battery drained
dashboard glow no more
unable to recognize notion of self

// unfamiliar planet

i. something snapped inside night
glimpsing operating system propping up reality
crash exposed shape shifting narratives in media advertising
politics where every version of reality has negative image
shadow reality all part of synchronous system
keeps endlessly consuming new promises new lifestyles
new identities new tomorrows
endlessly consuming ourselves

what could be more normalized than metal skin
donned every time one enters cars
what could be more pathetic than road ragers
indulging in reckless pursuit of other vehicles
after being held up for few seconds on public tarmac
within inconsequence lurks death as philosopher paul virilio admits

ii. as ships were invented shipwrecks seemed to invent themselves
as planes manifested people invented skyscraper crashes
electricity also invented electrocution
concerned with such logic of accidents
now deploy mechanisms of ambivalence
to record visions of humanity simultaneously enthralled/
destroyed by technological environments
crashes simply fascinate without fascination
imply no value judgment however
except perhaps naked naturally subscribed to miracles

// driven by fanaticism

to never have enrolled as mature age humanities student
among less prestigious institutes of higher education
hoping insights allow making sense of ostensible subject matter
interlocking grid of capitalism consumerism social control
cover idols warped by pixelated green purple wash
badly rendered characters in low rent video games
appropriate metaphor for cyberpunk fate
virus accelerated by researcher johnny mnemonic
scripted by apparently iconic cyberpunk writer
lazy cinematic hack job turkey results
production gorged on tacky cyber special effects
resulting in messy overdriven incoherent narrative
fast paced explosion riddled ride through silicon valley
sum total little more than big dumb video clip
ripe for instantly forgettable consumption
by mtv primed target audience
margarine substitute available
to even most clueless of popcult magpies

in contrast to rapid obsolescence
valorised work as surpassing of science fiction
mutated form able to avoid absorption by media landscape
actively satirising generic baggage
crashes forensically examine fascination
sexualised violence as entertainment
wraparound ubiquity of car culture as extreme metaphor
to rub human face in its own vomit
then force it to look in dull mirror
crashes as no science fiction but worlds/ worlds


Example Reference Links

 

// how to play big science

An Existential Spotlight: Theorizing Super Bunnyhop

RND/ In which this very very morning you consider and analyse yourself – whatever it is you imagine your doing artistically, via the Youtube lens of George Weidman aka ‘Super Bunnyhop’:

First, a Venn diagram that tries to capture the unique, slightly oddball appeal of George’s ‘content’.

Super Bunnyhop Venn Diagram

By fun, perhaps you mean “Existentially speaking, is any of this odd shit remotely meaningful or worthwhile?” George seems well placed to answer such a challenge and philosophical provocation – more specifically, explore the interesting overlap between the various areas of his expertise.

Yet, if it’s true that ‘the artist creates the taste by which they are to be enjoyed’, then perhaps (at for new viewers) George still has some way to go in more firmly establishing his brand, which seems to currently (and non-ironically) bunnyhop between ‘Videogames’, ‘Japanese Culture’ and.. ‘The Mundane Oblique’ (?) That is, George regularly comes across as a form of sincere door-to-door salesmen, selling you the very subject areas he discusses.

And that appears a hard sell for many, given that it’s difficult to formalize and contextualize ‘areas of my cultural expertise’ that virtually nobody else is discussing – or has yet to even recognize as interesting and important.

Here’s a ‘hope’ style portrait of George: 440 x 616, 6 col .png

Super Bunnyhop (George Weidman)

George’s opening intro video (parody ‘informercial’) in which he sells Weidman themed socks, does little to help his unique artistic cause, and appears as some kind of slightly crappy, ‘file under #random’ style shit that used to appear regularly on AOL or Geocities. It does not clearly convey what George is ‘about’. It’s only by regularly getting into his content that one is able to ‘correctly read’ this intro video as “Yes, that’s very Bunnyhop.”

Another somewhat obscure channel you used to enjoy was “Zero Achievements” – a videogaming channel starring two posh blokes from the UK called Tom and Dave.

It would have been cool to see such a from-leftfield channel grow into it’s own style – to more fully ‘become what it always was’, but alas the lads don’t post videos anymore. Likewise with George, there’s the perception of something good and distinctly unlike anything else on the verge of emerging. (Just not yet?) Perhaps George is content to Super Bunnyhop around. Maybe the notion of being a ‘Non Expert’ or (Brian Enoesque?) ‘Generalist’ appeals to him. It’s just that his own explanation for what precisely he does on his channel – “pseudo-journalistic content about video games” – neither seems entirely accurate, nor very engaging..

Here’s one alternative, official, formalized take on George:

Consider George Weidman aka ‘Super Bunnyhop’ an existential ideas salesman, traveling door to door sharing his well researched thoughts about Videogame (/Industry) and-or Japanese Culture, shining his intellectual spotlight on varied Mundane-Oblique topics of similar interest.

In a synthetic environment where consumerist goldfish eyeballs seemingly must have you and your ‘stuff’ successfully labelled in under a second – “Oh, it’s about X” – perhaps channels like Super Bunnyhop are unique in the very way they don’t appear to be ‘about’ anything much at all. Indeed the best videos on Youtube are often precisely about ‘Nothing’; the as-lived, day-to-day experience and mundane strangeness of being alive.

– Or perhaps nobody even cares about whatever S.B is ‘about’ – and will indeed watch literally anything. He does has a sizeable 31.2K following on Twitter, however.

It’s just that, one hopes Mr. Weidman can become even more self conscious of his own ‘Super Bunnyhoppingness’ and dig in even deeper to his own uncommon vibe. In short – George Weidman as the very (and only) subject matter of his own interior universe..

George’s Youtube Channel

https://www.youtube.com/user/bunnyhopshow

// how to play big science

On Reza Negarestani’s Obscurantist “Intelligence and Spirit”

RND/ To consider Reza Negarestani’s patently ridiculous tome “Intelligence And Spirit” an accidental Onion parody of conservative ‘postmodern-generator’ style parodies. Or maybe just a big showy display of barefaced mystification and stupefying verbiage – an unfettered, pseudo-philosophical slab of Quatsch and Nonsense.

That is, in short, Reza Negarestani is a fucking charlatan.

Alternative cover for Intelligence And Spirit

By whose baffling yardstick of strict academic rigor was this book measured against, in order to give it the publishing green light? Mr Negarestani must be seriously dry huffing his own intellectual farts if he remotely imagines he’s written anything philosophically genuine or meaningful. It’s doubtful anyone who really knows anything about Artificial Intelligence would find such a book useful – except perhaps as a handy impromptu door jamb to a hot A.I Research Lab. Books like this (and their bizarre publication) simply don’t help anyone understand contemporary constrained cognitive existence  – especially under the modern algorithmic jackboot of globally computational neoliberalism.

At no point does Intelligence And Spirit pass the classic ‘Rhodes Conjecture’:

You’ve given us Greek salad. Formulas equations – a lot of fancy terms that don’t mean a thing. I wanna know if you’re doin’ something that’s gonna help us out of this deep shit we’re in, or if you’re all in there just jerking each other off.
– Captain Henry Rhodes (Day Of The Dead, Dir. George Romero 1985.)

– A conceptual scenario, in which Urbanomic/Sequence Press and MIT (of all people) get a gentle sarcastic and satirical ribbing for publishing this eye rolling paean to intellectual vanity. On and bloody on it goes – 560 never ending pages, ala “[..] to stimulate the arithmetical and logical processes as an extension of the 5141 [..] an infinite translate in mathematics of tolerance and charity among artificial memory devices is ultimately binary.” Jebus, what a crock.

Here’s Reza in hot virtual action – a talk given at dubious sounding ‘Illuminations Research School’ July 2018 in Tyumen. The sound is deliberately muffled – but much in the same way his book is entirely  cognitively muffled:

Here meanwhile are some of the laughable, servile sycophantic raves about Reza’s Intelligence on Goodreads:

This movement of self-overcoming through self-effacing intelligence production is the defining factor of intelligence – as geistig force it is impersonal and moves through us towards the beyond.

Er yeah no doubt. (I’ve personally moved far beyond it.)

A masterwork of synthetic philosophy [..] while retaining the possibility and the mandate of constructing artificial general intelligence as the apex of self-conception and self-transformation [..] I suspect Negarestani’s work won’t garner any significant attention from the philosophical and AI communities anytime soon.

– Lol, too damn right there!

Extremely detailed and at times technical the sheer scope of this book is almost breathtaking and intimidating. I will write a more engaged review after rereading some of the more technical chapters.”

– Good luck with that, buddy! *doesn’t hold breath*

Dense [..] If you manage to finish the first chapter then you are for a ride.

– No real comment possible.

Of course, good ol’ Ray ‘Patiently Batshit Jumblewords’ Brassier pipes in, singing its ignoble praises from on high:

[..] it advances beyond both metaphysical and postmetaphysical readings of Hegel by showing that spirit can no more be sociologized than it can be substantialised. And in a gesture that identifies the Platonic ascent towards the Good as the ultimate vector of cognitive and political emancipation.

– The fuck? Piss right off, mate.

Only perhaps taken as modern work of ‘theory fiction’ – more on this later – might Reza’s work may seem pretty solid; someone enamored of the ways people within such elite alt.literary Venn diagrams operate could also easily place this on their designer yin-yang coffee table, confident of its presence as a cool conversation piece while the artisan cheese and white whine are passed around in polite (speculative) company.

Yet “Intelligence and Spirit” also appears some of the biggest load of non / anti philosophical bollocks you’ve had the misfortune to try to skim-read. Talk about a fully automated computational brain spasm; even with a cursory glance, someone may conclude that in plain ‘Cartesian Common Sense’ terms, old Reza seems perfectly incapable of writing anything remotely clear or understandable in plain English.

Rather than actively ‘eschewing obfuscation’, it appears Reza’s goal is to fully douse himself in theoretical snake oil in order to somehow successfully pass as not E.F.C entirely fucking clueless (about eg. Artificial Intelligence.) His resulting total failure only seems testament to his own ongoing struggle with human artificial intelligence or H.A.I – intelligence which appears intelligent but which really isn’t, and is in fact merely artificial, ie. fake – a simple lie or dull illusion.

Indeed taken as disjointed whole / hole, Reza’s book reads like like an extended rant given by those old prisoners in the ‘white void’ featured in classic dystopian sci fi vision THX1138; a people long since thoroughly accustomed to their fate, who stand around all day patiently extolling the virtues of their own alleged cognitive superiority and moral intellectual purity – people who in ages passed would have been simply labelled Collaborators; talking that cool calm talk through their clever assholes – telling you to ‘take it easy man, bide your time, wait around for important updates from our dedicated committee of experts’ – in short, keep on forever listening to their B.S plans and intricate politics, their well thought out brand of hyper smart, utter time wasting vapidity – to which the only clear and definitive answer seems: “Yall can go politely talk yourself to death, cos I’m the fuck outa here.”

In a letter to Wilhelm Hausenstein, Rainer Maria Rilke said “A victim of a shipwreck or a man floating hopelessly among polar ice-blocks tries till his last minute to put on paper his observations and his emotions [..] He continues to register all interconnections and intercommunications in the phenomena of the world even though the latter is already turning away from him.”

While it seems at least partially commendable that Mr. Negarestani has attempted to register such ‘interconnections’, the melting polar ice blocks of his chosen subject have already drifted far away from him and his wilful, highfalutin, academically obscurantist gaze. It seems he’d do well to follow Chomsky’s words: “One choice is to follow the path of integrity wherever it may lead. Another is to put such concerns aside passively adopting the conventions instituted by structures of [vacuous intellectual] authority.” (Noam Chomsky, The Responsibility of Intellectuals.)

Indeed such a dire work reminds one of the Chomsky’s classic grammatically correct, semantically nonsensical formation ‘colorless green ideas sleep furiously.’ If only Intelligence And Spirit had been presented simply as ‘theory-fiction’ (an approach to understanding bizarre contemporary existence through a fusion of fiction and speculative theory)  then its grating conceptual failings could not only be forgiven, but even celebrated. Say for example you’d been told it was “The work of a half crazed intellectual, locked within an ivory tower in some distant land by an evil Artificial Intelligence. He works alone for untold years on an obscure philosophical monologue about his digital captors that purports to express sense.” Ok, cool!

It is in this playful, re-contextual narrative spirit that we (re) present “Reza Negarestani’s Unintelligence And Spit” – select slices from Reza’s distinctly / strictly academic and desiccated tome, running parallel to his own, manifested here in the form of bad-postmodern freeverse. They should provide readers with a more-than-adequate taste of the rambling original.

The following symbols (errant ‘tin-wiskers’) have been inserted into each dialectic verse-code: Banana, Rhino, Black Coffee, 3AM. The resulting loose pages can be found scattered throughout the THX white-void prison, some of them lightly smeared on one corner with dried human feces, or odd transparent gel-like vomit stinking of rotten artificial chicken.

REZA NEGRASTANI’S UNINTELLIGENCE AND SPIT

i. Once self-relation concretely becomes part of the order of thought
That extends over into reality nothing can stop the rise
Of synthetic intelligence

All given truths all achieved totalities and traps of history
Begin to slowly vanish
A spider’s web baptized in corrosive solvent

It is the future dead history of philosophy conceived
As the elaboration of a program for artificial general intelligence
Misunderstood as the impersonal and collective evolution
Of bad 3AM thoughts that construct themselves
According to a view from nowherea and nowhen

ii. In which Reza Negarestani formulates the ultimate form of intelligence
As a theoretical and practical thought
Unfettered by the temporal order of actual things
A real banana movement
Capable of overcoming any state of affairs concerning Meaning that
From the perspective of the present state of his awful text may appear
To be the complete totality of its ahistory

Building on street corner philosopher ‘Bagel’s account of geist
As a multi­-agent conception of mind
And ‘My Mate Geoff’s transcendental psychology
As a functional analysis of the conditions of possibility of having no mind
Negarestani provides a critique
Of both classical humanism and dominant trends
In posthumanist typeface choice

This remarkable fusion of continental philosophy
in the form of a renewal of the speculative ambitions
Of Germane Idealism and analytic philosophy
In the form of dull / extended thought-experiments
And an anti-philosophy of artificial languages
Opens up new perspectives on the meaning
Of human artificial intelligence
Exploring the real potential of posthuman unintelligence
And what it means for ‘us’ to live in its prehistory
Or at least that’s what the b.s back cover blub says

I.T IS ONLY WHAT I.T DOES

i. To argue from a functionalist perspective
That mind is only what it does
That what it does is first and foremost realized by the sociality of agents
Which itself is primarily and ontologically constituted
By the semantic space of a public language

What mind does is to structure the universe to which it belongs
Structure is the very register of intel­ligibility as pertaining to the world
For only in virtue of the multilayered semantic structure of language
Does sociality become a normative space
Of recognitive-cognitive rational agents

ii. Structured as experiences and thoughts
To describe the community of rational agents as a social model of mind
The functional picture of geist is essentially a picture
Of a necessarily deprivatized mind predicated on sociality
As its formal condition of possibility of a rhino
Perception is only perception because it is apperception
And apperception is only apperceptive
In that it is an artefact of a deprivatized semantic space
Within which recognitive-cognitive agents emerge as by-products
Of a deeply impersonal space
Which they themselves have formally conditioned

SEMANTIC STRUCTURE AND DEPRIVITIZED SOCIALITY

i. To extend encompass and integrate both consciousness of itself
And consciousness of the universe
Conceiving itself as the configurative or structuring consciousness of itself
Endowed with a history rather than a mere nature or past
It becomes an artefact or object of its own conception
Where there is the possibility of having a history
There is also the possibility of having not only the concept of the concept
But also a history of history
A critical transformation of mind as an object of its own concept
The critical reconception of the object into which it has transformed

And once there is a history of history
There is the possibility of abolishing what is given
Or purports to be its consummate totality
Remodelling philosophical thoughts in accordance with the contemporary
Which in contrast to the Apollonian approach
Does not abide by historical accuracy or result in faithful treatises
But instead sees the positive insights and theses of philosophies
Through the lens of the contemporary optic

It is not this approach is the preserve of self-disciplined scholars
Rather than the proper work of of Dionysian roaming
Which latter in turn opens up new terrains of thought
To renewed scrutiny; mind is ultimately understood
As the dimension of structure or a configuring factor
Something which can only be approached
Via an essentially deprivatized account of black coffee
Of discursive linguistic apperceptive intelligence

ii. In which the nature of this investigation and reconstruction originates
As much from the viewpoint of the contemporary
As from that of the cognitive sciences
Specifically the programme of artificial atilligence
For to become part of the veritable history of intelligence – a rough sketch
Provides an outline of a functionalist and deprivatized account
Setting down premises that will be spelled out and elaborated
Necessary conditions for the realization of intelligence
In the form of an advanced program of mystical supernatural transcendent theological connotation

OUR MAIN OBJECTIVE

i. Rather than investigate the possibility
Of constructing artificial general intelligence
Or to review the popular narratives of posthuman superintelligence
We are in virtue of what we are determinately not
Far removed from our entrenched and subjectivist experience
Dimensions of the realization of discursive apperceptive self
A pure perspectival encounter with the world
Speculative extrapolations in the final chapters
Inquiring into sociality and syntactic-semantic complexity in a vein
Now much closer to theoretical 3am computer science

ii. I gradually learned to become blind to the supposed divide
The ambitions of philosophy are far too vast and comprehensive
For me to be pigeonholed into cosy compartments
Vast concrete building blocks of theoretical practical and axiological significance
Upon which the systematic relations between
Are elaborated in theory and practice
Yet the capacity to have thoughts or to inhabit the general order
That which expands and acts on the world of which it is a part
Begins with an investigation into the conditions necessary
For the possibility of having a transcendental psychology
Becoming cognizant of this link is what counts
As the genuine expression of self-consciousness
A task whose first milestone is a private retrospective
Of its own conditions of realization

THE SELF CONSCIOUS RATIONAL AGENT

i. The functional description of discursive conceptual and historical geist
In the context of those activities that characterize it
But also constitute it in the first place
Setting forth a project wherein theoretical and practical desacralization
Of the mind as something ineffable coincides with the project
Of historical emancipation and the disenthrallment of intelligence
As that which both frees itself from its local and contingent limitations
Treating whatever conception of itself it has arrived at
As the milieu of an unrestricted attention and commitment

ii. In which the distinction between the subject of conception
And the object of the concept is suspended
Elaborated in subsequent chapters this functional characterization offers insights
Into what it means to reorient consciousness and thought
Toward an emancipatory banana project
The core of which is the emancipation of cognition itself

ON THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN

i. The immediacy of X and its mediation is retained
This allows us to see the cancellation
Not as a single punctual act that abstractly or totally negates
But as a development the product of a positive labour
Of determinate rhino negation that takes time
The suspension of the self-portrait of the human
Or of the capitalist mode of production as alleged immediate totality
Is thereby differentiated from naive forms of posthumanism
A revolutionary politics in which negation is decoupled
From the process of determination
And instead is turned into a fetishized form of abstract negation
Which in its indeter­minacy presupposes a metaphysical account
Whose immediacy is actual and which therefore is falsely assumed
Can be abolished
By an all-destroying and total negation

ii. In this respect in addition to determinate negation
Distinct concepts of speculation and reason
Speculation is to be contrasted with simple reflection
Which is reflection through and on that which is allegedly immediate
For example what it means to be a rhino
Is often taken as something immediately present
And thus left unexamined
By objective movements that suspend the immediate element of reflection
And in doing so incorporates reflection as the reflection of opposites
A developmental stage in 3am speculation

NEW ADMISSIONS OF UNITY AND IDENTITY

i. Rather than operating externally on concepts
The immanent operation of the Concept itself – its skeptical epoche or suspension
Regard ing non-evident propositions
Give rise instead to the idea that for any proposition or property
Its contradicting opposite or incompatible property can be put forward
With equal justification
To break from the stasis and practical untenability of black coffee
In such a way that skepticism is no longer idly opposed
But becomes a dynamic and productive vector
What my mate Ray Brassier has called a ‘dialectics between suspicion
And trust’
The phenomenal knowledge of geist therefore presented
As a self-consummating skepticism of bananas
The assimilation of epochs into reason
And its complete remodelling as the dynamic process of suspension
And determinate negation

ii. The formal figure of the human or the functional picture of mind
Can no longer be refined
Nor can they shed their entrenched dogmas without a rational skepticism
As a matter of fact this restricts one’s departmental prospects
Rather the path is the conscious insight
Into the untruth of phenomenal knowledge
For which the most real is in truth merely the unrealized concept
For that reason this self-consummating skepticism
Is also not the kind of skepticism with which a fervent zeal
For truth and science imagines it has equipped itself
So that it might be over and done with matter itself

iii. Where critique of the transcendental structure is suggestive
Of both the operation of ‘Bagelian’ suspension
And the productive incorporation of skepticism into phenomenology
Into the transcendental project which sets out to investigate
The functional picture of mind and the 3am shadow
The account of function that’s attributed to the mind
Its conceptualization rendering unintelligible making objectives
A piece of practical reasoning we can then talk about over black coffee
The function or malfunction of the heart
Where institutive judgement it is not problematic to attribute functions
A lump of clay or the planet Jupiter

METAPHYSICAL SLIPPERINESS IN CONTEMPORARY FUNCTIONALISM

i. Invaluable insights regarding the problem of functional analysis
Insights drawn from the epistemological methods
Nested hierarchical structures where the problem of different scales or levels
Is of the utmost importance
To develop a more fine-grained paradigm of functional analysis
Before coming back to a more comprehensive description in terms of its function
Providing brief comments regarding the kind of functionalism or material constraints
To the extent that there are adequate material-causal and logical-semantic structures
The proper method of carving at the joints

ii. Distinct classes of functions and their uniformities
A configured and configuring unity presupposing a plurality of constituents
Which may or may not be interlaced
Not a matter of pure abstractions
Since they are dimensionally varied and multiply constrained
Adequately analysed in terms of qualitatively distinct structural constraints
A proper analysis of a function – a blueprint for the realization
Its underlying structural constraints falling under the rubric
A critique of transcendental structure – the interplay of multiple activities
That cannot be straightforwardly merged
Or intuitively added together

THE FLAT PICTURE OF FUNCTION

i. A one-to-one correspondence between realizers
Properties considered as qualitatively identical to realized function
A transition map between input and output
Where the transition can be realized as many pathways mapping
An initial state to an output state
An unconstrained abstract realization
A functional isomorphism between the attributes
Inferential relations between domain-neutral mapping
Where such isomorphism presupposes the absence
Of distinct structural levels constraining and determining specificity
A rock or a piece of swiss cheese
In other words such views inexorably forgo the task of explaining
What it means to call something intelligent
Describing instead the exact structural constraints
By virtue of which something can be identified
The flattening of structural and functional dimensions
The consequent removal of specific constraints associated
Inevi­tably leading to biased conclusions

ii. A panpsychism described as an implicitly functionalist account
One which licenses the ubiquity of mind or its unconstrained realization
Across an expansive continuum
Examples in comparison with the deep picture of function
Grains of sand in the desert – bricks in the wall
A person subsumed shaped or assimilated by the system
Remaining oblivious to seemingly minor specifications
Risking mistaking func­tions or activities for things or links between
Feeding the infant ontologically subsumed within
Diagnosing its pathologies
The collapse of all social relations
Untenable and prospective explanations interventions analyses critiques
A resigned cynicism to fatalist optimism from analytic stinginess
All the way to speculative over-enthusiasm

FUNCTIONS OF THE TRANSCENDENTAL

i. To simultaneously imply the real and the ideal
The dual or correlative of the subject
That which characterizes in terms of actuality or true­ ness
Avoiding further confusion by abiding by distinctions between
The future history of functionalism unrealizable
By individual agents alone
A sociality afforded by language – not as a medium of communication
But as a semantic space within
A bundle of intelligent behaviours
Qualitative integration into a generative framework
Only realized by different causal and logical conditions
Black 3am coffee distributed across distinct structural hierarchies
Functional classes and distant receeding super highways

ii. To this extent the realization of geist
A master key which not only recognizes itself and its abilities
But also becomes capable of modifying
Its very conditions of realization
What was mere consciousness is now a formally instantiated self
An absolute knowing in which spirit sees through
The unintelligible unity of the objective world
A struggle for the unities of mind – a fruitless quest and ununintelligible toil
A permanent state of alienation
Where unintelligible unity with the world in its radical otherness
Finally comes into view

SOMETHING IMMEDIATE

i. In recognizing the conditions of its black coffee realization
It becomes capable of modifying those conditions
And thus of modifying its own 3am realization
Just not until it has recognized its unintelligible unity
As a part of a more integral rhino unity
Namely the unintelligible unity of mind and world

GEIST SUSPENDS CONTINGENT REALITY

i. In which different levels of integration reflect
The fact of each mode of integration
A qualitative shift in the structure of general intelligence
By how cognitive and practical abilities
Are systematically incorporated within new unities of consciousness
By which ach mode is represented and established
As a normative model for the formation
Of new attitudes subjectivities and institutions
For its constitutive agents

ii. Where what is essential for qualita­tive transformation
Are not simply modes of integration quaunities
But also the manners in which these unities are concretely established
Models for conduct and cognitive cultivation of those agents
That constitute geist
That encompassed by it – their recognition as theoretical and practical models
Agents with access to the unintelligibility of structural transformation
Thereby concretely and determinately recognizing the universal
An intelligence enabled to realize itself under a new and higher unity
Its constant striving to bring itself under higher unity
Finding resolution in that universal which as the truly absolute concept
Is only able to be grasped
As the idea of infinite spirit
A transparent reality in which it contemplates creation
Thereby establising 3am premises for functional change
For further transformation in the structure of agency

THIS CONSTRUCTIVE SPIRAL

i. The constructive kernel of geist
This logic specific to a distinct species of selves
Of conceiving through the form of phenomenological reflexive knowledge
An unrestricted unintelligible world which
In its explanatory otherness renders unintelligible
What that consciousness is in itself
The truth of itself and the unrestricted world
Consciousness of an other
Of an object as such through the logic of self-relation
An artefact of its own concept
Adapting to ends and purposes not given in advance

ii. Oh to explore the possibility of realization
The play of forces already exhibiting infinity
An object for consciousness
A project of artificialization
As defeasible and disequilibrial constructive process
Informed by this model the positive freedom of geist
Its embryonic form this self relation this trivial tautology
An ongoing process of individuation abstracted
From any particular or substantive content
Not to be understood in terms of what it appears
A mere acknowledgement of oneself as living being
But a negation of objects and the outside world
Head-to-head with a resisting reality
Not passive but forcing the subject to project outward
To be conscious of a reality
Which is not an extension of self
But a 3am black offee order
In which objects negate back
Rendering the thoughts of the subject defeasible
And prone to sudden violent revision

TO BEGIN WITH A TRIVIAL PREMISE

i. Consequences are by no means trivial
They are in excess of such a premise
When a life form negates the outside world
In favour of its own interests
It also opens up a new vista
Wherein reality becomes unintelligible
As that rhino which is not in conformity
With the desires of the social life form
Actively resisting them
An adaptation to an ununintelligible reality
Which outstrips species-related interests and needs
This order of reason can be loosely characterized
As a system of essentially revisable thoughts
Actions enabled by the constraints imposed by reality
Of the necessary internal relations between
A formally represented order in the sense
That all thoughts and actions representing it also conform

ii. In which the acts of an essentially self-conscious creature fall
Under a formally represented order
In which 3am thoughts explain or cause actions
And one feels bound to the question of justification
A normative order of self-consciousness
Where mind gels into a unifying point or configuring factor
A self-positing of mind as unifying point
A formal condition required for the positing of reality
The uniting bond the configuring factor
An absolutely singular only articulated
On the basis of a concrete and penetrating analysis of the phenomenon

FULLY INSUFFICIENT PHILOSOPHICAL INTERPRETATION

i. The autonomy of thought and the alien thing
To be concretely realized in order for self-consciousness to establish
The determinate truth of itself
Of a reality that is in excess of thought
Stepping into the open and conceiving
A minimal and formal self-relation established
Opening up a gap between mind and world
The labour of negation where contact is onlyobtained
Through the hard work of conception
An objective striving turning into intelligence
Only when it loses its passivity
When it begins to re-engineer the reality of itself
Determinate representations of some im­plicit totality
Mirroring self-references established as singular
Perma­nently losing one’s home
A suspension in the abyss of unintelligible reality
Retroactively recognized as the most fragile of endeavours

ii. The transition from the formal autonomy of thought
To an achieved state of concrete self-consciousness
A fixed and unchangeable abstract universality
The freedom of substance
With nothing to receive from the outside
A mirroring passivity towards the other rhinos
Steeped in the 3am negativity of reason
A single cup of cold black coffee becomes an engine of freedom
A labour a project out of the black box of nature or technology
Where all traps of history begin to slowly vanish
A spider’s web baptized in a corrosive solvent
Unconditional endorsements of intelligence bound together
With the unconditional cultivation
Of certain practical and axiological unintelligibilities
Cursory sideways looks at the formal structure of self-relation
Minimal and prevalent forms – maps to be expanded and navigated
The order of theoretical practical and axiological unintelligibilities
Basic ingredients for the composition of unrestricted worlds
Some occult excess – an awkward fallacy
A bright circle

THE EXISTENT AND EMPIRICALLY PERCEIVABLE CONCEPT

i. In which an intended object consists in simply making itself
A simple identity relation conceived
From a reality that is of nowhere and nowhen
The negativity of reason positively extended over into the world
A formal space which is at bottom a deprivatized semantic space
A minded creature conscious of itself
An interactive semantic personhood
Where all selves are incorporated
Exhibiting the formal order of self-relation
The strange case of a historical delusion
An unavoidable strug­gle with others
Manholes leading to great tragedies
Grand delusions descending into the abyss of the ununintelligible

ii. Take the downhill path of an easy fall back to the homely earth
Where nothing is ever risked despite bravado to the contrary
A source of enablement and disablement
Of ontological epistemological and axiological unintelligibilities posited
As a given
The former path that of tedious tasks residing in a comforting home
Whose foundations sooner or later will be eroded
By epistemically schizophrenic bananas
The object of its own understanding
A conceptually mediated presence
The annulment of self-consciousness and the exploration of conditions
A full-blown transcendental philosophy
The product of infinite natural conditionality
Formal spontaneity of thought and the objective world
Now merely fused together – undergoing transformation

SUSPEND THIS PURELY EGOCENTRIC CONCEPTION

i. To recapitulate the suspension of egocentric self-consciousness
The receiving end of negation
A negatively abstract speculative thought
Verging on intelligibility under the guise of an alien other
Now confined to a transcendental horizon unchallenged
By new objective facts of virtual experience
A critical reflection on the possibility of the variation and modification
A deeply philosophical project aiming to renegotiate limits of experience
Capable of using artificial language that
In every respect surpasses syntactic and semantic richness
Undermining objective identification of the source
A practi­cal construction misconstruing accidental and local characteristics
The integration or bridging of concept and objectivity
Structures of unintel­ligence punctured
With an immutable identity

ii. This logic of self-relation
Imaginary mark on paper left by the gesture of the finger
Defining a point on a map of transformation
A series of historical instantiations under its concept
Its configuration changed
Atemporal transformations
A view from nowhen
The nonmanifest excavated by modern sciences
Intuited pure 3am black rhino coffee concept
Qualitative transformations in the structure of geist
The goal of spirit as freedom to do something formal
A temporal progres­sive march from the past
To sufficiently elaborated consequence

FIGHTS AGAINST THE GIVEN

i. Abolish the givens of theory
But also the givens of praxis and history
What is of paramount significance in the fight against the given
Is to place the given in action by transforming oneself
According to a concept that negates all particular manifest and given contents
A major assault on the locus of structure and categorial forms
The mind without black coffee a block of wax
A blank slate readily admitting the data
Certain supposed completed totalities of its own history
A strange 3am dynamic between its positive and negative concep­tions
Maximizing its functional autonomies be they natural or normative
Conditions of enablement identified and harnessed to effect transformation
Reorienting repurposing and reengineering
Implausible and seamlessly sutured histories of one’s own obligations
Pro gressively breaking away from the given
In all its manifestations

ii. Where the self-correcting attitude of intel­ligence fails
A complete functional analysis of the mind is unavoidable
This path leading to the complete reorganization of mind
Its conditions of realization
A minimal criterion for what is meant by theory
Of a language with explicit formal dimensions
Semantic richness and transparency
Of distinct entities aspects and processes hanging out together
Taxonomic relations between two or more rhinos
A universe of discourse or the dimension of comprehensive data
Provided for the purpose of conceptualization or explanation
Yet not at all the totality of all conceivable objects
Of any kind whatsoever

ACCOMODATION OF DATA PROVIDED BY LANGUAGE

i. Oh for the construction of an absolutely systematic theory
The unrestricted universe of discourse wherein
One can frame theoretical claims unhindered
The elaboration of all interdependencies connections and distinctions
The sublime possibility of systematization
Wilfully mistaking what we call data for sensory givens
The ultimate form of intelligence works
Specialized domains with axiomatic elements
Of the connections between
A metaphysically slippery copula of mind and world
Communities of rational 3am agents constructing superior models
Governed discursive spaces and public language
Inadequate grasps and mobilization of formal sociality
The given cerebrum of any individual agents
A mere stubborn freedom that remains bogged down within the bounds
A sapient creature promoting humans as the constituents of mind
The illicit merger understood as a formal quality
A concrete account of the human described by sets of contingent characteristics

ii. Where computational activities hudgements inferences
And conceptualizations dance
Non heroic labours of unintelligibility at once responsible for thinking
A mis-self capable of treating itself as artefact or rhino
3am cognitive explorations rigorously subjected to change
Differing sets of material realizers expanding job prospects
A constructible activity not some structurally fixed entity

SENTIENCE OF THE HUMAN

i. From the perspective of this constructibility
The assertion that the sapient is an animal qua sentient
As an exercise in prejudiced dogmatism
The autonomous rule-governed form not a dimension of the human
But the dividing line between formal distinction
And substantive indistinction
A formal autonomy of thinking
In which our own sentience is caught
Integrated bundles of rational processes
Nonsensical aspects of unrestricted association

ii. In which one falls back on an ideologically charged contingency
The teleological actualization of final causes
To simply dissolve the problem rather than solving it
Humanist alternatives already forgotten
A sub species of rights and entitlements
To expunge our manifest self-portrait
Choosing instead those transitory embodiments of sapience that
Oh fuck it, I’ve no idea what I’m waffling on about
Banana rhino 3am black coffee

Here’s Contrapoints on Why they quit academia:

“So specialized in fact, that is strains the human ability to give a shit.”

Example Reference Links

// how to play big science