Gibson’s Nightmare

At the most superficial level, there’s probably some sleeplessness accompanying the anxiety that the whole of The Peripheral — once people have processed it — begins to look like a piece of fabulously ornate, maze-patterned wrapping paper for the four pages that really matter. There’s the Great Pacific Garbage Patch elsewhere, along with ubiquitous near-future drones, and – further down the time-line — some exotic neo-primitivist adornments — but basically, if you’ve read Chapter 79, you’ve got the thing. Yes, that’s to miss out on some of the time-travel structure, but Gibson takes such a lazy approach to that (deliberately suppressing all paradox circuitry) it’s no great loss.

On the positive side, those four pages are really something. Chapter 79 is helpfully entitled The Jackpot, and contains what might well be the most profound reworking of apocalypticism of modern times. There are some (fairly weak) remarks here. Perhaps somebody has already contributed some better commentary, that I’ve missed.

The Jackpot is a catastrophe with a fruit-machine model — all the reels have to click together ‘right’ for it to amount to disaster. It’s therefore poly-causal, cross-lashed, or “multiplex” — eluding narrative apprehension through multiplicity.

… it was no one thing. … it was multicausal, with no particular beginning and no end. More a climate than an event, so not the way apocalypse stories liked to have a big event, after which everybody ran around with guns … or else were eaten alive by something caused by the big event. Not like that.

It was androgenic … Not that they’d known what they were doing, had meant to make problems, but they’s caused it anyway. And in fact the climate, the weather, caused by there being too much carbon, had been the driver for a lot of other things.How that got worse and never better, and was just expected to, ongoing. Because people in the past, clueless as to how that worked, had fucked it all up, then not been able to get it together to do anything about it, even after they knew, and now it was too late.

It kills 80% of the world’s human population in the end.

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Quick links (#23)

It’s Xi Jinping’s China now, and Marx still matters. Advances and obstacles on China’s new global networks. Ominous indications from the banks (but also inner metal). China’s ISIS connection. What the Great Firewall actually does.

World conflict trends. Chaos in Argentina. Horror in Pakistan. Ruble rubble. Pluto-net (relevant, plus).

Terrorism works (even when the story is seriously confusing). The CIA torture playlist. Pirate revenge in Sweden (plus defiance from Tor, under pressure).

Automation, and the educational front, stimulation and skepticism. More on the speed, penetration, and strange history of automation. I, for one, welcome our new machine lords. (SRMs.)

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Twitter cuts (#26)

The tweet stream begins from this (I think). Its progression is enthralling:


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Templexity Matters

Postulated: The intensity of time-travel fiction — and specifically backward time-travel fiction — is a critical index of modernity. As the time of modernity, initially grasped as a departure from traditional cyclicity, is prolonged into deepening nonlinear vortex, it provokes time-travel narrative as a figure in which to seek resolution. The apocalyptic, or communicative action of the end upon its past (through prophecy), is destined to final subsumption within the image of templexity. With the formulation of the Terminator mythos, in the last years of the 20th century, this process of subsumption is essentially complete. In this rigorous sense, the Terminator — as its name suggests — announces the inauguration of the End Times, when the thought of auto-production, emerging in phases from developments in cybernetics, is culturally acknowledged in its comprehensive cosmic-historical implication. The time-travel ‘bootstrap‘ or ‘ontological paradox’ is hazily recognized as the occult motor, or operational singularity, of the modern historical process.

Any positive cybernetic dynamic is open to logical interpretation (and dismissal) as a paradox. The Epimenides or Cretan Paradox, for instance, describes a reality-consistent recurrent cycle of escalating skepticism from the perspective of positive cybernetics, but nothing more than a concurrent self-contradiction from that of formal logic. The ontological paradox invites the same divergent reception. Auto-productive being is either a realistic foundation, or a formal absurdity, with the variance depending on whether self-reference is apprehended as a substantial dynamic or a static formality. From a certain — respectably established — orientation, the encouragement of circuit ontology within advanced modernity can only appear as a solicitation of madness.

Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar (2014) is a movie whose narrative loop is based explicitly upon ontological paradox. (It arrived too late to be referenced in Templexity.) The circuit of auto-production it describes is looped around black-hole cosmology, involving specific gravitational information that is inaccessibly occluded by the event horizon of collapsed stars, yet indispensable to the survival of the civilization eventually capable of retrieving it. The templex pattern outlined in the movie is exquisite. (Kip Thorne is doubtless owed considerable appreciation for that.)

The hypothesis of templexity is that the machine stimulating cultural absorption in the ontological paradox cannot stop. In regards to what has already happened, we haven’t seen anything yet.

Templexity Reviews (#1)

I’ve attached a number to his post out of sheer hubris. The two Templexity reviews so far have already exceeded my expectations as to sympathy and insight.

Craig Hickman provides a typically-intricate, richly-contextualized, and metaphysically-engaged discussion over at Dark Ecologies. While keeping his own preoccupations impressively unobtrusive, it isn’t difficult for the reader to connect his angle of approach with persistent themes running through the blog — especially the recent abundant explorations of accelerationist writings and controversies.

Henry Dampier takes a more urbane, literary and sociological approach, with greater attention to the American side of the Hollywood-meets-Shanghai narrative.

The only reasonable complaint I could muster about these responses is that their relentless amiability threatens to throw me badly off my guard.

Templexity is Out

Thank you Amazon. Despite some frustrations with the Kindle Direct Publishing interface — which isn’t designed for editorial convenience — the excitement of disintermediation-in-action more than makes up for it. If the self-publishing system reached the stage where writers spent their time on the platform, as a work-space, in the same way they can on a blog today, the horizon of possibility would be pushed out to yet inconceivable distances.

Templexity aims to catalyze a theoretical coagulation where the philosophy of time, contemporary (complex) urbanism, and pulp entertainment media are complicit in an approach to singularity (as a topic, a thing, and a nonlinear knotting of the two (at least)). It proposes that the urban process and the techno-science of time machines is undergoing rapid convergence. (This seems to be a suggestion whose time has come.) Grasp the opportunity offered by computers to visualize what cities really are, and the dynamics of retro-temporalization are graphically displayed.

epub covernew-2

That being for which the being of time is opened as an exploratory path is the advanced global metropolis. This is a contention already tacked to a cinematic, mass-media revelation, although one formatted by deeply-traditional dramatic criteria, thus systematically, and automatically, encrypted.

Far more on all this later. (If I say too much now, I’m worried I might save you $4.00.)

Quotable (#45)

Gibson’s new time-disorder novel The Peripheral now has me hooked …

“Why haven’t I heard of it before?”
“It’s new. It’s quiet. Lev looks for new things, things his family might invest in. He thinks this one may be out of Shanghai. Something to do with quantum tunneling.”
“How far back can they go?”
“Twenty twenty-three, earliest. He thinks something changed, then; reached a certain level of complexity. Something nobody there had any reason to notice.”
“Remind me of it later.” …

P.39 in my clunky dead-tree edition.