Horror of Philosophy

The Eugene Thacker trilogy, introduced:

Eugene Thacker‘s wonderful Horror of Philosophy series includes three books – In the Dust of this Planet (Zero Books, 2011), Starry Speculative Corpse (Zero Books, 2015), and Tentacles Longer than Night (Zero Books, 2015) – that collectively explore the relationship between philosophy (especially as it overlaps with demonology, occultism, and mysticism) and horror (especially of the supernatural sort). Each book takes on a particular problematic using a particular form from the history of philosophy, from the quaestio, lectio, and disputatio of medieval scholarship, to shorter aphoristic prose, to productive “mis-readings” of works of horror as philosophical texts and vice versa. …


Craig Hickman meanders under the inspiration of Ligotti:

In the old Gnostic mythologies the Archons (kelippot, dark vessels) were the Watchers who keep us locked away in Time’s Prison. What if the reverse were true? What if in fact they are our secret defenders? What if they were the secret or hidden, occult brotherhood who have all these eons protected us from ourselves? What if what we should fear is our own powers? What if in fact we were the dark gods who have forgotten our own powers, and the gatekeepers were put in place by us to protect us from our terrible deeds, our own horrendous past? What if we are the destroyers against which we have built up such dark mythologies, and that if we ever tore down the barriers between our world and the Real we would discover the terrible truth of our own dark secret? That the evil we project upon darkness is the face of our own abysmal nature? What then? Maybe Time is a Prison we built against our own terrible existence, and that the only thing between us and oblivion is the gates of illusion. Would you still storm the gates if you knew this to be the truth?


A sensible introduction. A snippet:

The assumption of effects running back in time is not only consistent with the experimental results, but also simplifies the physical description of electron-photon interactions. … Feynman posed however the question if effects running back in time could also be a possible mode of interaction. He thought specifically about incoming, so-called “advanced” waves, that converge simultaneously from all sides ending up as if by magic in the center. They represent the time-reversed version of the outgoing, so-called “retarded” waves, that we know from our everyday experience, for example in the form of radio or water waves. He found out that the effects of advanced and retarded waves compensate each other so that the overall effect corresponds exactly to the observable phenomenons [sic]. More precisely, Feynman’s analysis revealed that they compensate each other almost completely. The difference results in an increased resistance opposing the electron acceleration that is actually measurable. There is no convincing alternative explanation for this increased resistance to the present day.

Some compressed background discussion and references here.

Mainstreamed Nightmares

Ligotti becomes the story in The Wall Street Journal:

Mr. Ligotti’s stories are light on action and heavy on dread. Their motifs include puppets, harlequins, dying towns, deranged loners and the notion that humanity is an aberration spat out by a chaotic void. “There’s an inevitability about his fiction—of decay, rot, horror, the slow and unavoidable descent into darkness—that I find irresistible,” said Livia Llewellyn, a Shirley Jackson Award-nominated writer who contributed a story to “The Grimscribe’s Puppets,” an anthology tribute to Mr. Ligotti edited by Mr. Pulver. According to the scholar and critic S.T. Joshi, Mr. Ligotti is one of the premier writers of so-called weird fiction over the past 50 years. But Mr. Joshi isn’t convinced of the author’s appeal beyond the genre. “Without a thorough familiarity with [Messrs. Poe and Lovecraft], some readers may not ‘get’ what Ligotti’s tales are about, or come away with an incomplete understanding of them,” he said. Others, such as Mr. VanderMeer, said Mr. Ligotti has transcended Mr. Lovecraft’s shadow.

Underlinings (#25)

De Landa (1993):

… humans didn’t really invent machines. A hurricane is a motor in the literal sense, a motor defined as something with a heat reservoir that circulates heat through a Carnot cycle via differences of temperature. When a hurricane is born, a lot of self-organizing processes are involved that bring heat from the outside and concentrate it into a reservoir. In other words, it’s a self-assembled motor. That, to me, is a mind-blowing concept, because it took centuries before humans discovered the motor, something that self-assembles spontaneously in nature. […] So the machinic phylum is simply the notion that as soon as you let matter and energy in any form (whether it is organic or inorganic) flow in a nonlinear manner (that is, past a certain threshold of complexity) machines will tend to spontaneously self-assemble. The key word here is “nonlinear.” When you let matter and energy get far from equilibrium, spontaneously stabilized states called “attractors” emerge.

Still ahead of the culture, over two decades further on.

Summa Technologiae

Stanislaw Lem discussed (by David Auerbach) in the LARB:

[Lem’s] subjects, among others, include:

Virtual reality
Artificial intelligence
Nanotechnology and biotechnology
Evolutionary biology and evolutionary psychology
Artificial life
Information theory
Entropy and thermodynamics
Complexity theory, probability, and chaos
Population and ecological catastrophe
The “singularity” and “transhumanism”

Lem was one of the very few thinkers at the time to examine these burgeoning subjects in the context of both the humanities and the social sciences. Yet despite the far-ranging explorations, Lem tempers his speculations with a de-romanticized and often grim view of humanity. Indeed, part of Lem’s genius was his keen awareness that the possibilities of science and the possibilities of humanity do no more than scarcely overlap, and so our investigations must be conducted with our limited vantage point in mind.

(Craig Hickman has been on Lem with some consistency — plug ‘Lem’ into his search widget and a torrent flows out.)