Psychedelia

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Gregory Marks has an excellent analysis of Fisher’s Acid Communism up on his blog (which, unfortunately, I’m just now discovering). As it pays close attention to the question of temporality—special care is given to elucidating the identity of capitalist realism with the postmodern condition—it’s deeply relevant to the question of time, myth and class struggle: “Time stands still. Out of joint doesn’t even cover it”.

How do we escape?

Acid reveals another order of time that works against the time of purposeful production. Against the days of labour are the nights spent under florescent lights, and the repudiation of the workday for this night. Akin to Rancière’s workers of nineteenth-century Paris, whose nights were spent in creative work and refuge from the strictures of labour, twentieth-century psychedelia was a rejection of the predetermination of life by work and toil, and the “the revelation of a different world and the initiation of a new kind of relationship between beings”

[…]

Fisher makes clear that the altered perception of psychedelia is not an individuated escape from this rhythm, but a political refusal to participate. Far from being a hedonistic pursuit of pleasure, and ultimately assimilable to capital, psychedelia is a libidinal re-wiring of desire and re-weirding of experience. As Acid Communism, this refusal is also what dispels our capitalist realist stupor, and opens us to the arrival of something new. It is the making weird of our lives and our worlds, which uncovers the absurd machinery which keeps us in servitude.

[…]

The weird does not wake us, but makes us disturbingly aware that we have never been truly awake, and that other dreams are still possible. The weird does not transcend the psychic and libidinal structures that it disturbs, but remains immanent to them in its stark lucidity. The experience of the weird can be horrifying, but it can just as easily fascinate us as it draws us out of our preconceptions and awakens in us an awareness of the unnatural forces which inhabit us.

In this very last quote, we catch a glimpse of the continuities that stretched across Fisher’s thought, with the constructive implex of (re)weirding calling back directly to the the Spinozist core of the Cold Rationalist program. As he described in a 2004 post titled—so appropriately, in retrospect—Psychedelic Reason, the philosophy of Spinoza “tells you not to get out of your head but how to get out through your head”. Given that this ego-annihilating process was to intended to make one a conduit for the Lemurian signal (“the ultimate interests of any body lie in having no particular interests at all – that is in identifying with the cosmos itself as the BwO, the Spinozist God, the Lemurian body of uttunul”), what is happening here can be described as not only something truly weird, but something that is approachable through “awe, wonder and dread”. Since this horizon itself cannot be truly achieved, as Deleuze and Guattari are quick to remind us, these become not the openings to the howling void, but the implements for plateau-work.

5 thoughts on “Psychedelia

  1. the exact/actual how of this could use some spelling out by these folks before we all get back on the bus…
    “The experience of the weird can be horrifying, but it can just as easily fascinate us as it draws us out of our preconceptions and awakens in us an awareness of the unnatural forces which inhabit us”

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    1. I’d certainly be curious to hear Gregory’s take on the question, as it remains open-ended given that 1) the project was never finished by Fisher, and 2) the project was intended to be open-ended and modulated through collective participation. Also, I’ve yet to read the materials that I believe were first published in the Repeater collection, so my understanding of Acid Communism is a little behind… That said, as I indicated above I think looking back at these earlier strands in Fisher’s work might let us get some purchase on it.

      I’m reluctant to approach it from the point of view of beginning from an exact. Adherence to a system was vital to Fisher’s thought and was part and parcel of how he understood Spinoza, as he wrote about in his defense of dogmatism. This is, I think, different from an exact political program — it’s an abstract geometrical method ala Spinoza, and the gambit of acid communism is an attempt to pull off the very tricky work of using this as the baseline for politics. From here Fisher’s return to using the term ‘communism’ after renouncing in 2015 makes sense; communism in the classical sense is the only political framework to my knowledge that traffics in this area.

      That said, I think we can some glimpses of how he thought this would look, through both defining what it is is not and writings tending in the direction of a (still admittedly vague) political praxis. What we can definitely say that it is not is A) a re-enchantment of the world or the discovery of some sense of organic realism (there’s nothing that Fisher opposed more than this, and the CR program was explicitly conceived of using our slippery imperfections as a means to realize even more synthetic states); or B) voiding out in a pleasurable, detached states, which is what he labeled as ‘psychedelic fascism’. Both the re-enchantment of the world and the egotistical pursuit of pleasure cut across the 60s; Fisher’s solution to these oh-so-worldy (not in the good way) temptations is through the commitment, on the one hand, to his psychedelic reason, and on the other the class struggle. An early attempt to think-through this unity is probably to found in his response to Bakker, in here: https://incognitumhactenus.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/incognitumhactenus-vol2.pdf

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  2. I agree. But whats the the link between psychedelia as re-weirding machinism and construction of temporality through deconstructing the engineerings of temporality. In Marks’ work, its seems that they have an immediate short-circuit
    But I think, at the end of your post, through vaguely encrypted traces – as i see – youve suggested brain’s ecology and its cognispheres as the mediation that needs to be aacelerated or to put it better, an accelerator which acts like brain.
    Couldn’t we consider acceleration as an apriori to temporality,time and also brain?
    And if yes, psychedelia is a quit adequate answer you think, for a model for accelerated brain? – if it is, Deleuze,Guattari, Fisher and Negarestani (through schizotrategies) have provided the link to construction of temporality.
    But if the answer is no, how do you think to consider both Land’s crypto-currency and Forensic science as the new model ?

    Accept my apologies for this delusional comment .
    I was just thinking with you.

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    1. This is an interesting set of questions (not delusional at all lol)! I’m reluctant, though, to give a firm answer wrt to the question on the relationship between acid communism and different temporalities, because this is both an open question and is something that ties into an ongoing work-in-progress that will start appearing on this blog shortly. But a very rough, perhaps reductive explanation can be seen in the way capitalism realism, as an expression of a wider postmodern condition, appears as if constituting the suspension of (modernist) temporality, which is itself defined as the short-circuit (compressive, recursive time structures). History in postmodernity appears shapeless, so the firstmost goal is getting back to structuralizing forces of modernity. Fisher touches on this a bit in his talk on “Designer Communism”, particularly near the end: https://egressac.wordpress.com/2016/06/06/digital-bauhaus-summit-2016-designer-communism/.

      Treating acceleration as a priori to time & temporality is difficult. I take Land’s conceptualization of acceleration very seriously — the model of time-structure posed above is, for Land, the logic of acceleration as such.

      With regard to the brain — yeah, it seems that Fisher, explicitly in his Cold Rationalist phase and maybe more obliquely in the later acid-comm phase, saw the central nervous system as zone to work upon via a sort of applied Spinozism. This is undoubtedly one of the maybe faultlines in the coming years; one can think of the truly weird things that will arise as the neurological processes uncovered by, say, Thomas Metzinger, collide with mind-altering drugs, improvements in virtual reality.. and the wider circuits of capital and commoditization. Acid Communism seems to be a preamble to the politics of this era-to-come. But I also think the lesson is broader than just the neurological, and reflects politico-ethical imperatives — a dogma, even — that are in need of construction. How that relates to acceleration is something that needs to be teased out.

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