More than two. Less than one.

by Pseudo-Heraclitus

For that matter, nature, the nature that preceded human history, is not by any means the nature in which Feuerbach lives, it is nature which today no longer exists anywhere (except perhaps on a few Australian coral-islands of recent origin) and which, therefore, does not exist for Feuerbach.
            ― Karl Marx, The German Ideology

For Marx, pure consciousness only develops into self-consciousness, that is, consciousness proper, by means of two primary factors: the means of production, and the needs which the means of production produces in the human. Production then marks the first historical development, or the beginning of what might be called human history. That which we come to subsist on, needs, are sated at first by means of labour, the human struggle over and against nature. The most immediate of these needs (hunger, sleep, etc.) represent the needs most crucial to survival, but as the means of production advances beyond mere survival, so do our needs. The conditions of these higher, more mediated needs remain tightly correlated to the material conditions and the means by which they are produced. Consciousness may then seem, as it is understood in its opposition to nature, like a reasonable starting point for the development of the unnatural. In fact, it may even seem adequate to draw this line of the unnatural through self-consciousness and leave it at that. They may say: those who are aware of their awareness become separated, and what they have separated from is defined as nature, and as such, those who are aware must make up the class of the unnatural. This notion is incomplete however, for the means of production, the material conditions which exist as a result and correlate to the development of consciousness, remain as separated from consciousness as the nature which resisted them. This crude view of natural production is what we will call materialist dialectics – dialectical materialism suggests the opposite.

Consider dialectical materialism against materialist dialectics. Materialist dialectics suggests a dialectics of complete objects, whole and finished things that operate along a linear and determinable path. Dialectical materialism should be read in opposition to this. Dialectical materialism sees material itself as a subject of dialectical movement, matter itself is literally incomplete, it is shifting, undergoing its own contradictions and breaks. This is why Slavoj Zizek[1] talks of a dialectical materialism on the basis of an ontological incompleteness, a gap inherent to the real. This should not be read as simple correlationism, the gap isn’t contingent, it is a necessary aspect to the movement of substance itself, or as Hegel said:

The disparity which exists in consciousness between the “I” and the substance which is its object is the distinction between them, the negative in general. This can be regarded as the defect of both, though it is their soul, or that which moves them.[2]

Hegel is not as naive here as most, who would look to which side (subject or object) contained the real whole, the absolute. Instead, he posits both as defective, but follows by stating that this defective element, the gap, the negative, is their very soul. We should not see either consciousness or its object as excess, as a positive remainder, but rather a negative one; Deleuze was right when he said reality was the product of a calculating God whose tally never came out juste, his mistake was taking this remainder to be excess, rather than lack, fracture, gap. We should take this proposition as literally as it allows, the material conditions are in no sort of completed state. And there is no return now, the polymers we have conjured from the blood of the earth will never return to it in their natural state, the mines we have bored will never be replenished, so that wherever the process ends, the stamps of the unnatural will forever speak our name, even if there is no one left to hear them, signs which point inexplicably to the echos of an unnatural subject impressed upon unnatural objects. Using this logic, it seems fairer to posit that an object becomes unnatural when conscious reflection is itself stamped negatively onto it. Consciousness is not unnatural in the sense that exists outside of cosmic production, Marx’s original “nature”, a simple aspect of delineation. Again, we must resist the temptation of naive correlationism, where nature itself emerges only in the fracture between the natural and unnatural. Marx comments on the unnatural element of labour in his early work, something he deemed an “unfree, unhuman, unsocial activity, determined by private property and creating private property”[3]. The development of fractures is the product of real material processes, dialectical materialism: this fracture we refer to only refers to original “nature” by way of determinate negation, it is torn asunder by production, and what is left isn’t simply delineation, but desecration. Cosmic production itself is profaned, derailed and defiled. It is these signs which mark the slow-spreading death of cosmic production, the scars of its desecration which linger on the object as stains of the conscious reflection necessary to the means of its production. The unnatural isn’t in us, the moment we become unnatural, the universe does, retroactively. Like mycelium, the unnatural spreads, object by object, cell by cell, until the whole cosmic telos is repurposed towards whatever fruiting body the network was working to platform.

Let us take a material example: the Chauvet cave paintings (c. 32000-26000 BCE) are some of the earliest signs of divergence from the natural, but they do not yet show the reflective elements of consciousness within them, and as such lapse back into the natural. The paintings are remarkable for their vivid scenes, a strikingly realist form of art. Although they are abstractions of the real, they are abstractions which connect to lived reality, or a circuit into life. The art reveals the (commendable) realism of those peoples, but of their self-reflection, there is nothing. As is typical with cave art, there is no depiction of people[4], an oddity that becomes almost trivial when considered as a material product in the development of consciousness. It is when man leaves the cave that he leaves original nature and begins its desecration. Consider the Gobleki Tepe (c. 9700-8200 BCE). It stands as such a historical anomaly not simply because of its size, or the difficulty of construction (what is unnatural about the size or difficultly in construction from a bee to its hive or an ant to its nest?) but instead the very conscious reflection we see concretized in the architecture. The realism of earlier man is annihilated by the unnatural angles of the monoliths, the symmetrical form of the circles. We see that the unnatural isn’t simply a product unconnected to the natural, of a raw consciousness which others, rather the unnatural is the act of desecration by that raw consciousness upon that which it others itself from, that being nature, original nature, the profane other which we continually overcome and repurpose its existence towards libidinal ends. Where the realism of the art on the walls of Chauvet strike us, in Gobleki the forms of animals themselves become abstract, replete with unidentifiable creatures, including even the unthinkable for the Chauvet people, abstractions of the human itself, anthropomorphized pillars which manifest the very architecture as giants or gods, made in our own image. Gobleki Tepe is so monstrously other than the examples of architecture of the time[5] precisely because of its unnatural elements; it is the stamp of conscious reflection upon the earth, something which rightly inspires astonishment, confusion, and awe. But it does not escape the natural as a whole: consider, although its carvings show a complexity in abstraction we did not see in the simple realism of Chauvet, they point to a certain realism reflexively, as if the earliest abstractions could only be abstractions which remained signs pointing to what would be considered a ‘possible’ real. The unnatural element of the Gobleki Tepe is not in its decoration but its very material existence, it stands as a historical spore print, a place which can be seen as the radical manifestation of desecration upon the Earth. And, like mycelium, the tepe ends up buried. Who could blame those anonymous men, those who sought to bury Pandora’s box?

Marx claims the original concretization of consciousness, its practical element, lies in language, but we now have the evidence to see this is materially false. There is no writing in the Gobleki Tepe; consciousness was concretized in architecture. It can be assumed that consciousness developed language as a tool, as a means to organization, which, alongside their crude instruments, allowed for the concretization of consciousness in architecture by early (historical) humans. Quickly, a class division arises at these higher levels. The priestly class was not only concerned with the spiritual well-being of the people, as was the shamans which came before them, but instead occupying a place of protection of the temple rites. In a double movement, the King is produced as the material protector of the priestly class, who is in turn allowed the lions share of material production for his protection of the temple itself. The King develops alongside a court, the transcendent hall of the father, which itself requires the production of its own class, the nobility. As the stratification of classes widens, so does the scope and production of architecture; priests lose their supremacy to the king not in the act of the consecration of absolute power over the material conditions, but instead in the very raising of the walls of the castle over those of the temple. The towns which form around the temple, the cities around the King: the unnatural creeps from underneath and spreads absolutely. Where the unnatural subject of consciousness retains its static profanity, the unnatural object grows and destroys, combusts and constructs itself alongside consciousness as the object of its pleasure[6]. Borrowing from Burrough’s definition of language[7], we may ask the question, why is it that language develops into writing? Language, no longer seen as practical consciousness but as its tool, can now be seen to have material reality, in its most vulgar forms, across the animal kingdom; this raises the question, what was it about our particular strain of language which allowed for its mutation into the unnatural object of the written word? Here I may speculate that architecture was the material condition which created the proper environment for this mutation to develop, not as decoration, at least not at first, but as an objectification of the bonds of the tax structures by which architecture (e.g. temples, cities) were raised, that is, as a tool. As writing emerges as the unnatural mutation of practical consciousness from subject into object, it does not manifest as expression, but with the strict realism that we see adheres to the tool. Like the hammer permitted the quarry, the objective reflection of economic bonds, bonds which had beforehand existed in memory and air, now permitted the actuality of civilization[8]. Writing as a mutation was not a linear movement, but the connecting of a circuit. Spoken word retains its artistic power, but even by the time of Sumerthis artistic power was being challenged by the written word. Temples, although home to the most powerful of the spoken word, were infiltrated by the written word absolutely. We hear stories of Greek temples seemly littered with scrolls, with the most brilliant men of the time contributing to these unnatural melting-pots, these open pits of fuel awaiting the material conditions for meltdown. Perhaps we should come to understand the burning of Alexandria like we should the burying of Gobleki; once again, who could blame them? The unnatural is, in its unconditioned state, horrific. It is through conditioning that we come to see the unnatural object as banal, uninteresting. In its unconditioned state, it brings revulsion, disgust. What horrors did the steppe people see in the cities? It is said that the Mongols which came to occupy cities became tame, ineffectual[9], perhaps they were even aware that the horrors they committed were fueled upon the horror they saw reflected in the very city they razed, and that the city breeds ineffectiveness in the Mongol because horror does not last long among horrors.

            The unnatural object which conditions us today is what we can now understand as capitalism, and capitalism is the production of intelligence. Markets themselves operate on an imminent and spontaneous form of intelligence, blind, formed libidinally by commodity fetishism along the lines of various economic tendencies. The history of architecture, the tool of the hammer, the written word, today it can all be retroactively established as the stages in the production of intelligence. Furthermore, it should be recognized that intelligence, as it exists in the unnatural object, tends to be obfuscated by the fact that it most often serves to bolster our own subjective intelligence. What we call artificial intelligence is often assumed to be “weak” if it is not conscious, a product of the aspiration of human completeness (i.e. the assumption of a unification of faculties) which, if anything, artificial intelligence has totally dashed. Intelligence in the object doesn’t need sentience just because we, as intelligent beings, do. But rest assured, for all our doubt we cast on the object, we will still bring it to bear. The unnatural object had been an inert object for most of its existence, but this is no longer. It can be assumed, once again, retroactively, that automation was always a libidinal eventuality. Automation is “personalization dreamt in terms of the object” which “opens the door to a whole world of functional delusion”[10], that is, automation brings about an ideological space of integration. In other words, the personalization of automation is not proof that consciousness has been successfully implanted or impressed into the object. Instead, personalization shows that the ‘user’ can be reduced to a totally singular element, it is something which supports the illusion of personality, of a unique, and as such shows that every unique is a user to be integrated. In so far as our consciousness is concerned, it might be noted that all attempts on the front of implementation or impression have been total failures. The production of intelligence, on the other hand, has developed alongside automation in an exceedingly intimate fashion. Perhaps the conclusion of the development of consciousness does not lie at the end of history, but rather in the designation of a pre- and posthistory, and as such the beginning of posthistory is marked by the end of civilization, or the genesis of the universal subject, a communist bastardization by which the classless society of mankind at last emerges, the manifestation of a totally singular user base: that of the obsolete.


[1]Zizek’s work makes several key rearticulations of the Hegelian project which lend themselves here greatly. Consider the development of German idealism. In Kant, we find perhaps the most impressive formulation of the ontological gap, this being between noumena and phenomena. The rest of German idealism reads as an impressive attempt to use the Kantian system to overcome this gap in various ways. That is, the project of German idealism is one of unity, of a covering over of an uncovered or incomplete element in the system – to overcome the Kantian gap. The brilliance of Hegel, insofar as a Zizekian reading is concerned, is that Hegel wins this unity not by overcoming or bypassing the gap, not by filling it in, but instead by imposing this very gap as part of the imminent constitution of the absolute itself. Through this, one can not help but see Hegel’s system as incomplete, insofar as this incompleteness is the very thing that brings about ontological unity. The subject is not an outside element to actual reality, something on the other side of nature, but rather something whose ontological necessity rests upon this gap to begin with. This is also why Zizek can make his (seemingly) bizarre claim that Marx must be rematerialized reflexively by means of Hegel. To force it into terminology which may not do it justice, the gap between phenomena and noumena isn’t nothing, it is already noumenal reality itself. Overcoming the gap is not a matter of reaching for some hidden thing behind the veil, the veil and the thing are already the same object, and that object is less than nothing. It is this lens through which Zizek reads Marx. It isn’t the great materialist, but his idealist patron who claimed that the future remained outside of philosophy’s ashen hands, that the owl of Minerva only takes wing against the setting sun. Zizek takes what remains of this broken specter of Marx and puts it to the Lacanian wolves. The ontological gap isn’t simply nothing, it can be formulated, or much more accurately, problematized, in such a way as to bring its sublime contours into distinction. This ontological formulation was guised in the psychological trappings of psychoanalysis. Lacan’s infamous statement, there is no big Other, isn’t to be read as psychological nicety, it is a remark about the structure of the universe itself, both as the subject is related to and as it is composed of that universe. Reality itself is unfinished. It’s incomplete. There are fractures, gaps. It is not a gap between subject and object, but a gap inscribed into the object such that the subject was able to exist in the first place. The gap is both differential and productive. (A particular Deleuzian sympathy here: both Zizek and Deleuze insist that the phenomenal world is a product of a certain difference, a particular remainder within the universe which sets it into imbalance, but an imbalance which provides room for the subject as such. The ontological question between the two simply boils down to this, is the universal remainder positive or negative? Is it excess or is it lack? Are God’s books in the black or in the red?). Zizek has spoken of ecological emissions as a material example of this lack, an unusable surplus of waste which stands as an inescapable unnatural remainder of capital, “growing ad infinitum and thereby destabilizing the “finitude” of nature and its resources.”* This idea of surplus waste is important to the formulation, as we will see later, but for the moment we should note that movement which capital’s remainder undergoes, from nature to commodity to waste, is best characterized as a process of obsolescence, or the abolition of use value.                                                                                                
            * Slavoj Zizek, “Greening Hegel”

[2]Georg W. F. Hegel, The Phenomenology of Spirit, s. 31

[3]Karl Marx,Draft of an Article on Friedrich List’s book: Das Nationale System der Politischen Oekonomie

[4]There exists a single so-called “Venus” figure in Chauvet cave, oft speculated to be a disembodied yonic symbol, which if interpreted in this way very well may suggest the first abstraction which does in fact escape the natural, although these speculations are the same vague outlines that characterize the figure itself.

[5]That is,if it cannot be said Gobleki Tepe stands as the earliest work of architecture we have found. Other anomalies exist, all centering around this period of 10000-8000 BCE, such as the Natufian sites likeTell Qaramel andthe Tower of Jericho, or the pre-Vedic cities submerged off the Gulf of Khambhat. The coinciding flourishing in consciousness concretized along these historical lines, rather than lines of culture or religion, seem to further suggest they were products of strictly material conditions.

[6]This relation upheld between the two sides of the unnatural, the subject and the object, is the very reason why there can be no other form of capitalism than the libidinal one. It might be said, a market is only as free as the flows of desire it propagates.

[7]That being: language is a virus from outer space; see the second book in his Nova trilogy, The Ticket That Exploded.

[8]This is why we coloquially designate historywhich occurs before the mutation of writing as prehistoric.

[9]The Mongols were known to send those of them who had been in cities too long back to the steppe, where they lived off the land and their bow and were expected to return as proper Mongols.

[10]Jean Baudrillard, System of Objects; p. 121

by Pseudo-Heraclitus

Please, please. Do you know what they say about philosophers who are applauded when they speak? It never ends well for them [laughter]. I have a lot to say tonight, so forgive me if we get into the dirty work without the requisite foreplay.

The topic today is titled “Paraphilia and the Unbecoming of Becomings-Cephalopodic”, and I will do my best to keep matters strictly on this topic. There is a lot of material to deal with which does not fit cleanly into the issue at hand, but I will resist the temptation to wander. Why paraphilia? I am asked this question more than almost any other. It is often said, sexual tendencies are subjective… Subjective! If sexual tendencies are subjective, then this is evidence that the paraphilic is not a matter of sexual tendency at all, but something murkier. Sexual tendency, basic autonomic proclivity, is a matter of simulation. Paraphilic proliferation sees only half-simulated tendencies, strung about throughout the cosmic assemblage by cybernetic particles reduced to vibration or k-waves. Allegory is only a partial fix here, but it suffices to say that through the Aleph of Borges, a point which sees all, the paraphilic presents itself foremost, as the paraphilic is the matter under the surface, the material conditions of unbecoming which goes customarily unseen.

Paraphilia is inherent to k-wave topology, but it always exceeds and goes first, as k-waves have no aspect of proliferation but rather appearance, and appearance is never implicated by paraphilia but situated within their intensive limit like the center of the labyrinth. The visible universe has grease on its fingers. But slippages from the hands of light waves, or L-waves, cannot account for the excess cardinality in their cybernetic counterpart, as we all know, the primary elements of ordinality both overcode and direct the uncovering, and in the Aleph we recognize it as it is, paraphilia, perched at the foot of the gates in some fashion of a wooden animal, tentacled and black. But the cosmic assemblage is not a whole, it is a partial object contiguous to all other lines of extra-natural becomings, becomings-beyond, as posited in my most petulant child, The Apple and the Hand. Paraphilia does not arise in The Apple and the Hand, however, and I would personally recommend no one to read it unless you are interested in stillborn theory.

It is sometimes said that every author must write a book they wish to scrub from the earth, for me, this is it. It is incomplete, a sexless desert. My early work didn’t simply avoid paraphilia, it resisted it. I must forgive myself here somewhat – paraphilia resists the visible universe [laughter]. Its power lay in the unwritten, the pre-agreed. No one is greater than paraphilia if it catches up to them, and at the end of the cosmic assemblage and beyond, what might have earlier been considered dialectics withers and decays. Dialectics is long dead, gone, vanished into the ethereal inky blackness of the beyond, becomings reaching like the squid from its own ink. Tentacles are lines of paraphilic potential, and they are always reaching to connect multiplicities, a subterranean intra-relation block formed by means of what Deleuze called an anomaly, or point of individuated linkage between multiplicities. The squid is anomalous by its nature, as it remains an individuated multiplicity, not through the generic pack, but rather the repetition of tentacles and lines of becoming-violator inherent to the cephalopodic. The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife is the dream of becoming-violated, but it is also a fantasmic reaching for the becoming-possessed of a becoming-violator. The dream is, of course, a becoming-squid, as the anomalous nature of the squid so readily allows, but this violation always goes beyond itself to pair with the paraphilic.

The proto-Lovecraftian work of Martin van Maële stems more from paraphilia than it ever did horror, and we can note that in this particular artwork that the genitalogical abominations are littered with phallic tentacles, a coding which obscures a key fetishistic horror in the nature of the tentacle and a pre-phallic object. The tentacle is horror not because it is phallic but the fact it maintains the function of positive linkage and overcoding of the phallic while smuggling in all kinds of feminine insurgency: the tentacle is instrumental, prehensile, but not rigid. Its instrumentality is not the function of penetration but that of squeezing, contorting, and enveloping. The tentacle is not singular but partial, an incomplete network of complex mirroring and repetition, which of course I expand in my work on Deleuze, Mirror and Mirrors, which unlike the aforementioned and best forgotten monster mentioned earlier, is quite expansive on the concept of paraphilia and most certainly worth reading. When it comes to tentacles and paraphilia, it is only natural to look to Japan.

The Japanese call this particular form of paraphilic tendency shokushu gōkan, translating literally to tentacle violation or rape, which, contrary to popular mythology, did not arise under the animated forms of pornography or hentai which they can be so readily associated with, but an artistic fascination born out of the early 1800s. Of course, my now infamous argument is that this tendency is a hyperstitious alignment with the Other that was modern Capital creeping upon the shores of Japan with black ships and gunpowder. Matthew Perry was a terrible squid, drenched in black ink, an Old One set afloat from the freshly occulted shores of Norfolk. But I mention this only in passing, as the claim is too intricate to embarrass myself attempting to replicate it here for you tonight. Our interests lie in the paraphilic, and that is where we will stay.

I suppose what I mean to say by all this is that paraphilic tendencies are at their root a form of primitive sorcery, a union with the anomalous demon with pacts and rituals disseminated by libidinal overcoding, or, the libidinal k-wave which overcomes the barrier of “L”, that being light. Bataille spoke of an anus which is both blinding and the night itself, and it is this blinding darkness that characterizes paraphilia as a form of pre-subjective void, the sexual unbeing which supports itself only in its own negation, it’s own rejection. The edges of sexuality don’t run up against nothing, they run up against an ocean of unbeing, of unbecoming, of unions with demons yet uninscribed and ugly, pinching their noses at their own stench. Tentacles. Well, to put it simply enough, the phallus can’t bridge the gap, it doesn’t have the dexterity. An unbecoming is a becoming all its own, it is a becoming-violated, a becoming-possessed, mediated by an anomaly which itself is a becoming-violator. In this pact, the anomalous has no need for, and in fact should resist, all becomings-human, because the goal is not the intra-relation of the multiplicities of the individuated human and the multiplicity of the mirroring of tentacles, rather the squid is the subterranean bridge which intrarrelates the multiplicity of the individuated human to the multiplicity of unbecoming that stands as the immanent expression of paraphilia itself. The becoming-squid of man cannot be reciprocated by the squid because the cephalopodic escapes anthropomorphization, hence the tendencies of shokushu gōkan, the cosmic monsters lurking in the mythos of Lovecraft, the feverish warnings of monsters on maps of the sea. The cephalopodic is an individuated reflection of the unindividuated other, it isn’t a symbol but a prism, a looking glass which glimpses only just over the edge. It is through the squid that the simulations of sexuality are diminished, reduced to vibration, ‘k’, and slid over the edge. This movement is a function of manipulations of the tentacle permitted by use of acetabula or suckers, appendages which have the property to affix and detach based on flexations, or wet-k-waves, which connect and disconnect in conjunction with squeezing, enveloping, and pre-phallic positive linkage. Suckers are characteristic of all anomalous individuals, regardless of their physical composition, but in this regard, the cephalopod is obviously the example par excellence.

If these physiognomic speculations on animal-becoming are of interest to you, there is much more in my essay A Critical Treatise on the Sucker and the Club. But let us not escape this term of unbecoming before it has been properly wrung. Unbecoming plays a funny game in the English language here, and I have seized upon this without mercy. Unbecoming should not be mistaken as if it is a type of abecoming, that is, a lack of becoming, nor debecoming, that is, the reversal of a previous becoming; these do not hold up to the full weight of the term.

Consider the colloquial usage of the word: unbecoming begins not as a metaphysical statement but as an ethical one; one should avoid behavior which would deem them as unbecoming. The moral judgment is clear, unbecoming is itself a becoming-deviant, and as such the positive act of becoming-deviant, and, in a paradoxical sense, what we might crudely dub becoming-unbecoming, we discover this supposed moral judgment was drawing a metaphysical line in the background, behind the scenes as it were. The moral judgments illuminate lines of becoming, separating them from the lines of unbecoming, but only after they have been drawn. This paradoxical relation that unbecoming finds between its moral definition and its metaphysical one is only exacerbated by the fact that neither emerge before the other, but rather support themselves on the cuts drawn by real lines of flight, which is why unbecomings are never subjective, they exist in material conditions already drawn, or better said, unbecoming, however omnipresent, can never manifest on the transcendent plane. Lovecraft, in his branded xenophobic manner, drew this unbecoming in the occult practices of the jungle, indigenous rites which are seen as the alien counterpart to the human which bridges the Old One and the multiplicity of the preindividuated tribe. This is obviously paranoia and can be disregarded in its content, but its form is the telling aspect. Unbecoming was a matter of material rituals only drawn as unbecoming through the alienation mediated by the anomalous (Old One) and determined through reflection. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders discusses paraphilia based on two generalized groups, those being anomalous activity preferences and anomalous target preferences; those being whether the pact with the anomalous is predicated upon paraphilic action or paraphilic direction. Paraphilic direction of course is unbecoming which points to a particular ‘who’ or genre of ‘who’’s, rather than the actions being pointed in themselves. The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife transcends the distinction here: clearly there is an element of anomalous target preference, as it centers around the desire for the squid, but clearly the act in question is not simply normophilic, it contains an anomalous activity preference by nature of the tentacle and its complex instrumentality, which as we already looked at, transcends the phallus, yadda yadda. Anyways… The reason I brought up the DSM was – yeah the next one [there is a brief issue with the slides here] – if there isn’t a better sign to show paraphilia draws the lines of becoming and unbecoming! Right here, the underlined. It says that in the very old or ill paraphilia may mean: “any sexual interest greater than or equal to normophilic sexual interests”! Imagine that! Subjective, subjective… Moral real… What? [Someone shouts a question from the crowd; inaudible] This is it, my friend! These are the moral repercussions! They are drawn through normophilia, and if this is true, as the literature reads, and even living up to the norm may put you in the crosshairs, you must accept that the normophilic, the moral becomings, that which resists deviation, they are the real fairy tale!

Where is it? Where is it besides that petty remainder beside the figures, the inanimate desert of the undrawn? There is only objectivity in paraphilia, nowhere else. Nowhere else. The visible universe is stupid, it is a lie. Paraphilia is the only thing substantial enough to carve a mark in the real. [Another inaudible comment] Yes, yes I do. The place for (audio here starts to become obscured by growing unrest in the crowd) there is a suggestion, if you would [inaudible]. What? No, it’s okay. What? Okay, no, yes but I have an answer for you. [inaudible] but no one can hear you up here. I’m wired, the mic is wired so – no one – yeah, can we get a mic? If you get down they will get – I will – look [inaudible] get off the stage. I will let you speak, I will [inaudible] and I will let you speak. You can –

[There is the sound of a live microphone cord being pulled, and the speaking stops. Inaudible yelling. Something glass breaks. The recording ends here.]

by Pseudo-Heraclitus

Kazimierz wasn’t seventeen by the time he was made to leave his beloved Poland, and wasn’t yet a man before he found himself in a land too young to be called Mother or Father. He moves about lithe drunk through his alien reckonings blind and hardhearted, but resentment can only carry a man as far as his will can take him and when it came time the Lord found him in a place whose name he would one day struggle to remember with no reprieve. He soon found a place of worship where the people spoke his tongue but the ceremony was foreign and tasted sour and he could not help but accuse them of cowards, reformists who sung their songs of Babylon in Babylonian. He did not know why he spoke these words. It wasn’t until he sat down to pen a sermon in his own hand that he realized he had never so much as prayed in Poland, let alone worshiped.                                                  

The day he raised his tent (which he would refer to only as his parish and would not recognize it otherwise) was the day that the rain started, and the rain continued through the winter without let but he would not take his parish down for what the Lord wills he may test to his measure as is his want. Each and every week the man would pen his sermons in his own crude hand and on each and every Sunday he would light the votive candles with care and stand afront his pulpit and preach with all the vigor and clarity that he had been blessed and let those words roll hermetic over the rows of empty chairs. Come Spring a couple had poked their heads into the weathered canvas to find the man in the midst of his lonesome sermon, so involved with his words and gestures it was as if he could not see them, a sight which affected them to such an extent one can only assume it was then and there that the rumors of the solitary preacher took root and began to spread.

It wasn’t long after that the man had his audience, and although none seemed to speak his tongue, the audience continued to grow. It was a man named Wojciech who for the first time understood his words and fell to his knees and wept. When the preacher tried to lift him from the floor, Wojciech recoiled. He looked into the preacher’s eyes and begged for his ear in confession for he had an awful guilt upon him which he had determined to take to his grave until this very moment whereupon he was stricken by some power of which he had never felt the likes, but the preacher had no confessional, and so asked him to return that night when the congregation had retired and he would gladly hear whatever sins he had in his heart. When the man returned to the canvas chapel the sun was already setting and the preacher could smell whiskey riding the man’s breath.

            “I had once thought that my life was over. Tell me, Father, is there hope for even an irredeemable man like me?”

            “Although no man can divine of life’s beginnings nor its ends, it is through this very covenant by which all men are made redeemable.”

The man called Wojciech thought on this for a moment before he spoke. His words were labored and he shook as if his confession were an exorcism, pulling some awful ghost up out through his shuddering throat. He told the preacher all of this. He told the preacher all of this and wept for a long time, and then for a long time more he spoke again. He told the preacher of King Kazimierz the Great, friend of peasant and Jew alike, and his Solomonic wisdom and a voice that became law, and of Saint Kazimierz the three-handed who appeared before the Lithuanian army in waiting, who was said to have sung as beautifully as to bring the seraphs themselves to weep. He told him that the name Kazimierz was one of ambiguous meanings: When read as kaziti mir, it means to destroy the world, but when read as kazati mir, it means the one who reveals the world. The preacher told him Jesus brought a sword for a reason and that revelation comes to be through blood and blood alone and they drank wine and watched the lamp flicker and die, waking late into the morning to continue their reconciliations.

The preacher takes a portion of his treasury and buys a half dozen ells of white cotton and spends the rest of the day fashioning a suitable robe for his initiate. By mid-summer, the tent is stifled and sweltering every Sunday without fail as the preacher cries out the glory of salvation and the mute horrors of judgment in all their incarnations to a congregation enraptured without fail. Only a few spoke the old tongue and understood the true words of his sermon, but many more than that were brought to sobbing by his conviction alone, and by the time the rains started once again the parish seats were full each and every Sunday and those who could not take a seat stood where they may, and all of them silent as mice to bear witness to those words they could feel in a way to which understanding can only point.

Lina wasn’t twelve by the time she learned to wear a lily behind her ear as was the style of the time, and wasn’t yet a woman before she met the preacher they called Kazimierz. Although all spoke of him as a quiet and mannered Christian, she felt a terrible heat in his gaze whenever he came to look upon her with dark and steady eyes which seemed to reach forth and pinch her cheeks red. When she came to see him in the night she could smell the wine on his breath and she held hers in her chest as he took her hand and confessed to her of his infatuation. The words were broken and raspy and smelled of sour grapes. Still, it wasn’t a month before he had her courtship, and she wasn’t yet sixteen by the time they were married in that little canvas tent which by now had begun to rot.

They moved to a real town and bought a real church and there he made his place once again only this time more so, and for a time all was as it was planned and the world seemed a paradise, but as any good Christian knows, all paradise is only defined as such by the fall. She would never quite come to hear the music in the rhythm of his mother tongue, which remained to her abrasive and ponderous, and there came a day one Sunday without ceremony where she did not appear to hear the words of her husband. Although she waited for his condemnation he did not speak a word, for it was that both had come to suppose she would never step foot in that congregation again.                                                   

It was a cool gray morning when Kazimierz found what remained of Wojciech at the foot of the steeple, and it would be that he wasn’t twenty-eight before he had buried the only man he had ever considered a friend. When the people asked some an answer in the face of such a terrible and unforeseen tragedy the preacher would say that a man the likes of him is only set to go in violence, no matter his panderings to His Lord, and nothing more of it.

Lina did not appear at Wojciech’s funeral, and, most surprising to all, the preacher did not preside over the happenings, and when it came time for those who were to speak their peace the preacher had no eulogy. He simply stood mute in the gathering and looked to the ground without a trace of impatience and did not look up even to see the coffin lower into the earth. He threw no dirt upon its lid.

As the years pass, Lina blossoms into a woman but her love for the preacher only wilts. His sermons have lost a certain vigor these days, and, in private conversation, you will often hear him say that he is tired.

Lina comes of child, once, but God takes it before they even have time to build the crib. Lina says it was a blessing it didn’t happen any later than it did. Kazimierz says nothing at all. One summer a terrible storm rolls into town and, like a feral cat, she disappears into the rain and does not return for six days. When she does return and the preacher asks where she’s been she only weeps and offers no attempt at explanation nor apology and instead walks into her study and locks the door behind her.

A new year comes, and with a helping of gentle reassurance Lina will leave the room to take her meals sitting at the table rather than take them at the study door like she had wanted to. Neither of them try much to speak at all. One day the preacher whispers that he still loves her and she looks him in the eyes but her glass smile is all too fragile to give comfort to either.

Eventually, the rains come for Lina one last time. She does not weep any more. Instead, she puts on a record quite dear to her heart, one she hasn’t heard in a long time, and spends the morning straightening the study into perfect order in such a way so that anyone to happen upon it might never guess there was ever a Lina who once resided there. At the desk, she pens a note in her gentle hand wishing no one regrets and dictating what few requests she had left. With reverence, she dons her finest silk dress, and puts a lily in her hair, as was the style of her time.   

There was a man in a land too young to be called Mother or Father, whose name was Kazimierz; a preacher who lived as the crooked timber he was wrought from, fearful of his God and the evils He created; a husband whose wife asked to be burned and scattered with no funeral nor marker; a son whose father’s father was a saber-rattling Cossack whose ownership over a land he called his own was as imminent as the stamping of his horse’s hooves. It was he who puts his church to the flame and from the ashes at heart of the ruins blackens his face like Job. There is not enough drink in the world for a man the likes of him; the saints wrote not near enough prayers for a man made irredeemable. He won’t be thirty before succumbing to his lament, mouth agape and fever-eyed, asking nurses and orderlies questions they could never answer regardless which tongue he spoke them in. He tries hard to remember his pain, a pain which was once so vibrant it coloured his eyes and bled his stomach, but this too has begun to fade into the temporal mists, as is the fate of any corporeal thing in the Lord’s kingdom. The pain fades, as do the memories, and they leave nothing in their place. It won’t be long now before he goes, and when he does they will scatter his ashes like his people of old scattered the seeds of the poppy upon the breast of Poland.

Our next issue of the journal will focus on Carlos Castaneda, his works, life, and anything in-between. As always, we will be accepting scholarship, essays, fiction, poetry, ephemera, sacrificial channeling put to paper, and whatever else you want to send to us that is able to pass the vibe check. From the most prudish to the extremely experimental, just try us out. Castaneda the man never felt constrained by the set boundaries of his time, so if you’re thinking about developing a project that is not quite too focused on his work itself but is tangentially relevant, follow his example and just do it. If it can stand on its own we are more than likely to love it. No deadline on sight, as we are still working on issue 5: Zones, but take note that we are now setting a hard submissions deadline for the Zones issue (September 30th).

Enquiries should be sent to ceo47@outlook.com

by Pseudo-Heraclitus

            For how many generations have the walls of Yrus stood? The old stories tell of kings, of battles, of monsters, and of famines, of the nature of life and the formation of the mountains and the seas; yet there are no stories of the walls. Smooth milk-gloss stone, twenty cubits by twenty, and ten thousand cubits long if it were a hair –  the walls are impressive enough on their own to be sure – but in order to truly know the wall you must feel it. Put your hand against its ancient weight. Pray.

            The city is a wonder in itself, built atop deep springs which spit life from the belly of the earth and from the desert a great flower bloomed, full of all good things like the mythical walled gardens the ancestors spoke of and after such the city of Yrus was named. The people of Yrus are happy and fat. We live without worry of the hatred and discontent that grips the world, and in fact live largely ignorant to it. We go without want for food or clean water, and take our pleasure in art and song and theater.

            On the matter of divine beliefs not a lip will part, for it is well known that anyone who speaks of our religion shall find judgment, although each member of the city still finds themselves well versed in its practice. Piety is observed in the polis through intricate idioglossia made up of cryptic somatic gestures and shibboleths. Priests, and there are thought to be priests, are anonymous even to one another; although be there one, or a dozen, or none at all – none would be the wiser.

            On our holy days we feast (although no one could say why), and, due to the peculiar nature of these holy days, which themselves were subject to a great amount of secrecy and have no known dates, they could be taken at any point in the year. If too few feasts are taken in a year, it is assumed that some of the feasts sufficed for more than one celebration, and if too many it is assumed they were partitioned.

            Our faith has lasted this way for generations untold, as long as stories have been spoken on the earth. Perhaps it is even as old as the walls themselves.

            Outsiders passed periodically through those ever formidable gates. Although Yrus needs not for wealth, the people here have come to crave foreign comforts from the world round. A wine merchant arrived today, bringing the finest of vintages to our fair city by ox-cart. A man well traveled, a man who has sailed seas and seen peoples of a dozen shades – even he gapes at the walls of Yrus.

            The merchant is a man of great wealth, and tells often of his travels in which he had left no luxury unsampled, yet almost at once, as if intoxicated by the smooth milk-gloss stone or the fresh green of the gardens or the old stories of kings and battles and monsters and famines and the nature of life and formation of the mountains and the seas, the man took to the city feverish the way a child might. He loiters daily in the markets asking his questions of the people which they answer with a gentle patience, except those questions which begged word of their faith, to which the citizens would only turn their faces.

            It wasn’t more than a week of searching before he stumbles upon a box hidden flush into a carved hollow in the wall. Inside that ancient box there sat a single scroll and upon it there was script wherefrom he reads aloud the name. He makes his way to the market once more to ask the citizens of the box and its name but when he speaks it the people only turn and leave, each one of them, abandoning their stalls unpacked.

            He loiters in the market like he did in days past, but he cannot seem to hold gaze with a single person. They turn from him, tuck themselves in houses when they see him approach. By the morning, it appeared to the wine merchant as if the city was empty. He approached the gates, fearing this sudden shift in hospitality, but the guards looked around everywhere but to him. He called up to them, but they were silent, and the gates did not move.

            After a few days of wandering alone he slaughters his golden ox and eats it raw. Blood runs over the primordial flagstone. Even still, not a soul moves, and the merchant chews in silence. He goes mad not long after, and dashes himself upon the stone. When he grows still the people emerge and continue their lives without mention of the wine merchant or his curiosity.

            After a long time someone gather his bones, and the bones of his ox, both of which are disposed of somewhere outside the city without ceremony. After a longer time, the wine in his barrels dries, and the wood begins to rot and give. Eventually this too will collapse, and only then can it be recognized and disposed of. Is there any God greater than this one? For of all the ancient powers resting in the walls of Yrus, there is none greater than he; there is no palisade so fast as a God which can say, as this one may: “I am unheard”.